Monday, April 23, 2007 | 7:35 a.m.
On Saturday night I walked into the Palms gift shop to pick up some mints. To my right, carefully studying a rack of candy, was George Maloof.
He is the hotel owner.
The conversation went like this:
George (after a momentary blank stare): "John?"
Me: "What are you doing here?"
George: "Trying to find some mints."
Me: "Altoids are good. But the best mints are the Starbucks peppermints. They are a taste explosion."
George: "Oh? I like the ones that have the gel in the middle. But I don't think we have them here."
He was right.
Now, at the risk of recounting what seems a pointless dialogue, I wondered where else I would run into the owner of a casino browsing in his own gift shop. And I wondered what would happen if, say, a Wynn or Kerkorian or Fertitta, had discovered during such a visit that his own gift shop did not carry one of his favorite products. I imagine such an oversight would be corrected on the spot. But not with Maloof, who just shrugged his shoulders and went off, possibly to a nearby 7-Eleven, to find those mints.
Later that night Maloof, whose grandiosity is evident not in what he says but what he builds, hosted the grand opening of the $80 million Pearl Theater with a concert by Gwen Stefani and party at Moon nightclub. The list of celebrities was dotted with the likes of the Hiltons, Bruce Willis and members of No Doubt (I even ran into Slash, wearing a black leather vest and a former reptile as pants). As has been heavily promoted, Maloof's tracker-beam light show was an over-the-top attempt to set a world record, and what I can tell you about the concert hall is it is the best venue for live music in the city. It is intimate (2,300 seats when the floor is open for general admission), the seats are comfortable, you have full view of the stage from anywhere in the theater (you will not find yourself nosed-up to a wooden pillar covered with bottle caps) and the sound is perfectly balanced.
After the show Maloof was buried in humanity, patting backs, shaking hands, chatting up his fabulous friends and packing a pocketful of mints.
When clusters of "Fanilows" trudge into the women's restroom to share in a group cry, you know it's a bad night. That was the scene, or a sub-scene, at the usually well-oiled machine that is the Las Vegas Hilton on Friday night. An already seated full-house audience was told that Barry Manilow's show would be cancelled about 45 minutes after its scheduled 8 p.m. start. So late was the announcement that those who held VIP tickets had met and greeted the star, as is custom for those who pay the premium $225 for the experience. What we hear from someone in attendance is that the crowd was told at 8:15 there were technical problems and to sit tight (ouch!). After another 15 minutes the fans began the clapping, a tradition among impatient concert-goers. After another 15 minutes the show was called off, leading to cursing and crying and (of course) refunds. But Manilow was back Saturday night and all seems to be well ...
Livin' la vida echo: Ricky Martin reportedly played to a one-third capacity audience Saturday at Mandalay Bay Events Center. In his heyday (around 1999, by my dusty calendar) he could be relied upon to just about fill the 13,000-seat arena on consecutive nights ...
I'll admit that my knowledge of Elle Decor magazine is restricted to the appearance of its ever-leering Editor-In-Chief, Margaret Russell, on Bravo's "Top Design." But I can report that the May edition of the magazine devotes a section to a whirl through Las Vegas and thankfully did not focus solely on the obvious. Retailers singled out by the publication as "Where to Shop" include Arts District dwellers GC-Arts, Modify (the dazzling furniture store on East Charleston across from the Arts Factory), Dust Gallery and Epic Shoos (which sit just a few paces from each other on South Main Street); and Las Vegas Paper Doll at Holsum Lofts. Listed in "What to See" are Maverick Helicopters (the touring company that carries passengers over Hoover Dam, Lake Mead and the Colorado River), the Neon Museum and the Las Vegas Springs Preserve. ...
The new single from Paul McCartney, "Ever Present Past," off his upcoming CD, "Memory Almost Full," is really good. Maybe even good enough for a spin at the Beatles-allergic Revolution Lounge at the Mirage ...
More Beatles hits: Deposed KKLZ 96.3-FM personality Dennis Mitchell reports that he is expecting to announce the new Las Vegas affiliate for "Breakfast With the Beatles" very soon. Meanwhile, what is playing in the show's old Sunday morning slot on KKLZ sounds a lot like an old K-Tel commercial. ...
Sign language: Pamphlets posted along Main Street read, "NOW HIREING,, NO EXPERIENCE NEEDED, START NOW, TELEMARKETING, SELL TOOLS/VIDEOS, PART TIME WORK, CASH PAID DAYLY, GREAT MONEY, 386-6115." Operaters are standing buy ... An SUV on Paradise Road advertises "European Speed Waxing," evidently for those groomers-on-the-go who consider the process all too time-consuming ... In the ads for Morrissey's June 9 appearance at Pearl Theater, the artist seems to be stifling a burp ...
Today's plate is a celebrity contribution from "Raging Princess" Lisa Viscuglia, violin player in the "Spamalot" orchestra and Killian's Angels. The plate, on an old Corvette, reads PONOMO (sound it out and you'll be richly rewarded).