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October 23, 2014

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DJ Ashba: Taking flight was ‘innocent thing’; Dice Man applauds Cate Blanchett’s Oscar triumph

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David Becker/Invision / AP

Nathalia Henao and guitarist Dj Ashba of Guns N’ Roses arrive at the world premiere of “Michael Jackson ONE” at THEhotel at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on Saturday, June 29, 2013, in Las Vegas.

It was at a birthday breakfast at Tiffany Cafe at White Cross Drugs, a power table of just my dear friend Jerry (pause) Jones of 5th Avenue and myself, when the waitress said, “You cannot tip with the card.”

“But,” I said, “it’s my birthday.”

“You can tip only with cash,” she said. At today’s Tiffany Cafe, you can pay the actual bill with a card, but the tip is an entirely separate transaction.

After several awkward moments of mulling our options, we performed a fairly fleet dine-and-dash.

Not really.

But gone are the days when the payment was fully cash only at the cafe when the business was known as White Cross Drugs, a locally drugstore and pharmacy from 1955 until closing in May 2012. The business reopened as White Cross Market last July, as Tiffany Cafe underwent a makeover of sorts (while remaining open) in the form of new restrooms and a new capacity to accept credit and debit cards.

And if you want to know where to get a great, guilty-pleasure cheese-and-mushroom omelet (the cheese is white or yellow American) or a dripping-with-juice burger for less than eight bucks, Tiffany’s is the place. And if you look close at the photos on the wall near one of the booths, you can spot a certain Playboy Playmate of the Year.

Now let’s see what else we can rake up in heah:

• I spoke Monday with guitar great DJ Ashba for a column centered on the next set of Guns N’ Roses dates at the Joint in the Hard Rock Hotel, a run titled “No Trickery” covering May 21, 24-25, 28, 30-31 and June 4 and 6-7.

I asked Ashba, a Las Vegas resident for the past two years, about the Metro Police helicopter ride he took in August to propose to his then-girlfriend (and now wife) model Nathalia Henao. The two were wed in September at Little Church of the West.

Ashba says he has “no regrets whatsoever” about arranging the flight. “I would do it all again tomorrow because I felt in my heart it was a romantic gesture, and anybody who knows me knows I’m a good guy who has always supported law enforcement, and that’s the part that does not get covered in the media.”

Ashba added that he has donated autographed guitars and money to charities supporting the families of law enforcement officers killed or injured while on duty. He also said that he had been led through a video tutorial by members of the Metro staff and that if he were told he was asking to take part in anything illegal or against Metro protocol, “I would not have done it. I didn’t want anyone hurt or dragged through the dirt on this.”

Ashba set up the ‘copter tour, which was topped by a landing at a spot in where a picnic table and champagne were set up, through his good friend David O’Leary. It was O’Leary, a Metro captain who had been on the force for 25 years, who helped Absha secure a pilot and a ride for the flight. Ashba was criticized for trumpeting the event on his Instagram account, writing, “That was the most incredible day of our life!! Special thx to the Ls Vegas Police Dept. for the most amazing helicopter private tour over Vegas!”

Ashba says he made those comments as a sincere gesture of gratitude and was not aware that less than a month before that ride, Metro Search and Rescue officer David VanBuskirk died during a helicopter rescue of a hiker stranded on Mount Charleston.

“What I was doing was approved, and I support the Police Department and law enforcement officers,” he said. “This was really an innocent thing. If people say I was abusing taxpayers’ money, I would have happily paid. Instead, I get my hand slapped in the media, and one of my best friends loses his job.” O’Leary was under an internal investigation over the incident and facing a demotion to lieutenant when he retired in late December.

“Dave is a strong guy, and he’ll be OK,” Ashba said. “It’s just — what I want known is how much I support the police. Knowing that every time you go out into the field, you can use your life, that’s heroic.”

• Andrew “Dice” Clay, headliner at Vinyl in the Hard Rock Hotel, was pulling for Cate Blanchett to win the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in “Blue Jasmine.”

That’s because Clay also was in that film.

I’m not surprised at all that Cate won the Academy Award last night. She simply gave an Oscar-winning performance in the movie,” Clay said in an e-mail message Monday. “And I am truly honored that I got to act alongside her.”

Recruited by director Woody Allen to appear in the movie, Clay played the role of Augie, the ex-husband of Ginger (portrayed by Sally Hawkins), who was a friend of Jasmine (played in Oscar-winning fashion by Blanchett).

‘Diamonds Are Forever’ Gala

Siegfried & Roys made an appearance at the Las Vegas Philharmonic Diamonds are Forever gala at Aria on Saturday, March 1, 2014. Launch slideshow »
Click to enlarge photo

Siegfried & Roys made an appearance at the Las Vegas Philharmonic Diamonds are Forever gala at Aria on Saturday, March 1, 2014.

• Siegfried & Roy were at the center of the Las Vegas Philharmonic’s “Diamonds Are Forever” gala Saturday night at Aria. As planned, conductor and master musician Taras Krysa performed “Meditation” from the opera “Thais” on violin. As the music filled the room and Krysa finished the piece, Siegfried reportedly rushed to the mic, brimming with emotion, and said, “You are really doing it to us tonight!”

This was in reference to the story behind the song, when Siegfried played a recorded version of the piece for Roy when Roy was still in a coma after suffering serious brain trauma in the incident involving Montecore on Oct. 3, 2003. “Meditation” was the song played as Montecore was led to the stage each night, and when a still-unconscious Roy heard that song, he cried. Siegfried retold that story for the audience Saturday.

Siegfried also talked of having to fight to include classical music in the Siegfried & Roy production at the Mirage, saying it was important to motivate the performers and audience L.V. Phil CEO Jeri Crawford presented the duo with a signed and framed copy of the Fanfare commissioned by composer Anthony Newman and played upon their entrance. The orchestra will be performing that Fanfare at one of its concerts in the 2014-15 season, and according to L.V. Phil spokeswoman Jennifer Scott, Siegfried vowed, "We'll be there!"

• The award for the best Oscar Party in the Least Likely Locale goes to the Wynn Las Vegas sports book. The place was jammed Sunday as sports book overlord and noted film buff Johnny Avello printed ballots for guests to fill out and submit for the major awards. The first-place prize was dinner for two at Allegro and a pair of VIP tickets to “Le Reve — The Dream.” Second place was awarded a one-night stay at the Wynn and tickets for two to the Country Club restaurant. Third place was dinner for two at Lakeside at Lake of Dreams.

Avello also dialed up an Oscar trivia contest, a singing contest for Oscar-nominated songs and a contest judging the best Oscar speech.

“It was a great night!” Avello said, or, rather, texted Monday afternoon.

Sadly, there was no appearance by boxing great and fight promoter Oscar de la Hoya or former Brazilian basketball star Oscar Schmidt.

Maybe next year.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWiththeDish.

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