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Seen in 702: Bells chime, I know I gotta get away

Why does “glitz” always precede “glamour?” Who invented that rule? Was there an election over this? Perhaps a caucus?

Regardless, among the glamour and glitz of the Las Vegas Strip, there also is the other side of the American story.

I met up with some friends at Caesars Palace, and a good time was had by all, although our attempt at Three Card Poker ended sooner than anticipated.

Instead of heading home, I saw the Bellagio across the street, soon-to-be-home for the 2020 NFL Draft. It had been years since I entered and decided to look around. It’s just as easy to get a Lyft there.

(Tony Garcia/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
(Tony Garcia/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Crossing over Flamingo Road on the pedestrian walkway, I encountered Mike, who was sitting there, playing his guitar for the passers-by, willing to take whatever the masses would offer.

Feeling generous, perhaps enhanced by the Union Jacks the Alto Bar was pouring, I asked if I could rent the guitar to play one song for $6. Mike obliged; he even retuned it to fit whatever octave I could figure out.

I went to the trusted classic from The Who, “The Kids Are Alright.” It was the second song I ever learned on guitar. (The first, “Leaving on a Jet Plane,” was forced onto me because my Speech Com 100 teacher turned down my suggestion to demonstrate the skills of air guitar and said I should instead show how to play real guitar, which was a bad idea because I had no idea how to play real guitar at that time. … It has been suggested that I still don’t know how to play real guitar … but I digress.)

Mike applauded and allowed me to attempt a second song. I trotted out the opening riff of Paul Simon’s “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard,” then couldn’t remember how the rest of the chords progressed. Out of practice.

Mike took it back and knocked out a few chords of his own. He knew how to play. It left me wondering whether personal demons sent him on this path, or just a few unlucky breaks here and there. I didn’t ask.

We continued to trade stories and guitar riffs for the next 30 minutes. Others passed by, offering a buck here and there.

(Tony Garcia/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
(Tony Garcia/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

During one spirited-yet-futile attempt at “American Pie,” a person gave Mike and I $2 each for the effort. I wish I had known Tyson Fury would use the same song that weekend after demolishing Deontay Wilder for the WBC heavyweight championship.

A familiar face found Mike and offered the rest of his Swedish Fish, which he accepted.

I finally restarted my trek to Bellagio and thanked Mike for his time and generosity. The Bellagio was just as I remembered: really expensive-looking.

(Tony Garcia/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
(Tony Garcia/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
(Tony Garcia/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
(Tony Garcia/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

I hope Mike found a good place to sleep.

Contact Tony Garcia at tgarcia@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0307. Follow @TonyGLVNews on Twitter.

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