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September 18, 2014

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As Danny Gans is remembered, we’re reminded to grasp the moment

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Leila Navidi

Singer, impressionist and comedian Danny Gans, shown performing at the Encore Theater on March 20, died suddenly at his home in Henderson.

Twenty years ago, Paul McCartney released an album called “Flowers in the Dirt,” a good album for which he co-wrote many songs with Elvis Costello. “My Brave Face” was the first single off that album, a song about how to cope with sudden loneliness, and McCartney used the event to embark on his first U.S. tour in 13 years. There’s a song on that album I’ve been thinking of a lot lately, and played it for the first time in forever this morning. It’s called “This One.” It’s a strong song, but it won’t make anyone forget “Eleanor Rigby.” In that tune, McCartney lyrically reminds us to take this moment to do or say whatever it is we need to do or say to those close in our lives. I remember him being interviewed about the album when it was released, saying that it was important to grasp that moment or it will slip away. “There never could be a better moment, than this one,” he sang and said.

I’m thinking of that song and sentiment this afternoon as Danny Gans is memorialized at the Encore Theater. I’ve spoken with many colleagues and friends of Gans’ since he died May 1, a sudden, stunning and tragic event. Repeatedly those who were Gans’ contemporaries, especially Vegas entertainers, have recounted moments where they had planned to make a plan to have lunch with Gans, or spend time with him in some casual setting, maybe play 18 or share in a coffee. Those who would seem to have no regrets say that they regret not following through on plans to know Danny Gans. Today they pay tribute to the master showman's legacy as Gans' close friends and family have invited Vegas celebrities ranging from Mayor Oscar Goodman to one of the city’s greatest tennis stars and philanthropists, Andre Agassi, to speak about the decade-long Strip star. It’s that one final moment to share their thoughts.

There never could be, a better moment. ...

Months ago, members of my family asked if I wanted to attend something of an annual pilgrimage, a reunion of sorts. We do this every year and the site rotates. We’ve had these visits in Reno/Lake Tahoe, Portland, Seattle, even here in Vegas. This year it’s in a spot that hardly seems conducive to serenity and family bonding -- Indianapolis, for the Indy 500. At first I honestly didn’t want to go. It falls at an inopportune time, I’ve got all this work to do, blah-blah. But I am going with them, leaving in a couple of hours for a sporting event and cultural phenomenon I’ve never experienced.

Sometimes the moment, this one, is in the form of a spontaneous lunch, or a car race in Indiana. But wherever and whenever that moment arises, you know it. You can feel it. Take it. It won’t last forever.

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