Friday, February 11, 2005

Mayor Goodman and Mr. Happiness

Las Vegas has a lot of unique qualities. In addition to all of the adult playgrounds, we are the only county in Nevada where prostitution is illegal. That’s illegal, not unavailable. Our yellow pages phone book has over a hundred pages of ads for ‘escort services’. I’ve never used them, but rumor has it that you can get additional services besides escorting.
We also have a unique mayor. Oscar Goodman is a former mob lawyer. Back when the mob ran most of Las Vegas, before it became owned by big corporations and Steve Wynn, the gambling was reportedly controlled by ‘the mob’. Mr. Goodman, an attorney by trade, as the ‘corporate’ lawyer for several individuals that were later convicted of organized crime and of breaking assorted laws, in addition to legs. I wasn’t here when he ran for mayor, but I understand that these allegations were part of the campaign.
Columns in our local paper discuss some of these events. A recent article talked about the loss of a local landmark. This was a ‘hock shop’ on Sahara that was used for the fencing of stolen goods from all over the country. At one time the FBI was watching the place, and had installed ‘bugs’ inside the building. The owner, who had offices on the second floor, frequently paid consultants to search the building for installed listening devices, the searches evidently not being very successful as tapes made from these devices were later used in court cases. Since the owner felt there were bugs around, whenever his lawyer visited they would walk around the building talking rather than converse inside. Mayor Goodman was the lawyer discussed in this article. The story went on to say that the walking tactic was not successful either, as the FBI used parabolic microphones to record these outside conversations anyway. I don’t thing that Mr. Goodman was ever convicted of any wrongdoing, he just gave legal advice and representation.
Mayor Goodman is a big part of the Las Vegas publicity campaign. He likes to appear at events, and travels the world pushing Las Vegas as a resort destination.
While driving in to work in the morning I listen to several radio stations in my car. The DJ’s on one station frequently call the mayor to discuss things. Over the past several years the DJs and the mayor have had friendly bets about who would win the Super Bowl. It seems that the mayor is not very good at picking teams, as he has lost these bets every time. The wagers were not for money, but for publicity. Three years ago the mayor lost and ended up dressing like the construction worker from the Village People and performed with a singing group downtown. Last year he lost again and dressed as one of those Hot Dog On A Stick employees, complete with red and yellow striped uniform and hat, and made lemonade at one of their stores.
I was listening to the station last Thursday when they made their bet on air. The DJs are evidently not very savvy at sports betting as they did not understand what betting the point spread means. They and the mayor selected their teams to win, and the mayor offered to even things out by giving the DJs the point spread, which was seven points. The DJs did not understand fully what this meant, but they agreed.
Well, if you are a Super Bowl person you already know who won. And the winning team won by only three points. So the mayor’s selected team won the game, but he lost the bet based on the spread. So this week they mayor paid off.
We have a lot of other colorful characters in Las Vegas. One of them calls himself Mr. Happiness. He stands on a street corner on the west side of town, not too far from my house, and entertains. He dresses in unusual costumes and plays the guitar. It’s an electric guitar, and he does not plug it into an amplifier or anything, so he is the only one that can hear himself play. He sings and dances and waves to cars. No, he’s not out there to beg for money. If you stop to offer him something he just laughs and waves you off, and keeps hopping around.
For losing the bet the Mayor went out to the corner of Sahara and Fort Apache and performed with Mr. Happiness. He put on a colorful coat and sang and danced. This was in the morning, so that the DJs could broadcast the event. The mayor and Mr. Happiness both wore microphones, and a show director was there to give directions and report. I heard part of the performance, and it sounded like the mayor was complaining about losing by the spread, but he was having a good time dancing around and waving to cars. Mayor Goodman loves an audience, and I am sure he does not really hate losing these bets, as it gives him a chance to be out in front of people even more.
Several TV stations showed up, in addition to our local papers.
The Las Vegas Sun had a photo and article of Mayor Goodman out there. Go take a look at him enjoying himself. And see if you can pick out which one is the mayor.

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