Why are we so obsessed with Escape? In this episode, we’ll try to nail it down.
- Tyler Robinson Foundation Gala | www.trf.org
- Live Game Escape | www.livegameescape.com | 3300 s Jones Blvd. Suite 201, Las Vegas, Nevada, 89146
- Jinya Ramen | jinya-ramenbar.com | 4860 W Flamingo Rd, Las Vegas, NV 89103
- Hofbrauhaus | www.hofbrauhauslasvegas.com | 4510 Paradise Rd, Las Vegas, NV 89169
- Art in the Park | bchcares.org/foundation/art-in-the-park | Boulder City
Tyler Robinson Foundation Gala
We were excited to have been invited to the annual gala for the Tyler Robinson Foundation.
First, what is the Tyler Robinson Foundation?
Tyler Robinson was a kid who lost a battle with cancer at age 18. His favorite band was Imagine Dragons. (Not coincidentally, Imagine Dragons is from Las Vegas).
The foundation is the result of the Robinson family and Imagine Dragons teaming up to turn Tyler’s loss into some good in the world.
The foundation targets and helps support families that are going through pediatric cancer.
In the few years they’ve been around, TRF has raised almost $2M and has served hundreds of families. Half of that money was raised at this annual gala.
If you’ve never been to one of these charity events, no matter the charity or the cause, they all tend to behave fairly similarly.
Here’s how they go:
This is Vegas, so they’re typically held in ballroom space in a major resort. (Caesars this year.)
They tend to start with a silent auction, which I gotta say, is pretty cool these days. It’s all done on a mobile-friendly website. It’s a one-touch bid. If you’re out-bid, you get a text message. You can click through and up your bid. It’s all pretty high-tech.
Oh, and open bar. You know, to get you lubed up.
Then there’s a slow spilling into the main room for dinner.
It’s the banquets team at [casino], so they always have a pretty similar 3-course menu:
- Some sort of salad that probably includes whatever fruit or vegetable is culinarily in style right now (I’m looking at you, watermelon salad),
- Your main course has a 50% chance of including short rib,
- and a dessert that’s usually decorated like it’s trying to win some sort of competition on the Food Network.
You’re held captive, so it’s a good time to sell you on all the [work] that [charity] is doing, and pull at your heartstrings a little. And after Friday, I don’t think there’s anything in the world much sadder than pediatric cancer.
Then usually a live auction. And yes, they do that bip-it-a-bit-it-a thing still. People raise paddles. People bid insane prices for things, and others clap and cheer.
It’s a room full of the ‘haves’ charitably handing money over to ‘have-nots’. It sends my heart and my moral compass spinning in circles.
Where this event deviates from the norm – where the TRF Gala stands out in the sea of fancy dresses and auctioneers and short rib – this organization was co-founded by Imagine Dragons. So at the end of the night, they take the stage for a little while.
And that part was super neat. These guys sell out stadiums. Here they are in a [somewhat] small room, on acoustic guitars, doing what they love for a good cause.
The whole thing is a bit ad-hoc. They interact with the audience; ask what song they should play next. They tell stories and fuck around between each song – a behavior that has become taboo lately among live music performers. I miss it, honestly. Why are we so opposed? I know what your songs sound like. If that’s all I wanted to hear, I could turn my radio up real loud. I want to get to know you.
Imagine Dragons escaped Las Vegas. They’ve escaped the trap that 99% of rock bands get into – playing local venues for small audiences indefinitely – stagnating on getting traction. They’ve made it out into the world, and created a franchise with a value attached to it.
Cancer may be something some of us can’t escape. But Imagine Dragons is taking that value they’ve created – the attention they can get, the money they can raise – and directing it toward something. They’re rolling up their sleeves and doing something selfless for the less fortunate. Good for them.
Live Game Escape
Okay, I’m about to take this escape thing quite literally. In fact, ‘escape’ just so happens to be in the name of this place. It’s a trend that’s been exploding lately – hundreds of these things popping up all over the world: It’s the escape room.
Here’s how it works: You’re given a premise (e.g. you’re an FBI agent tracking down a suspect or something). You’re sent into a room(s) full of clues. You have 1 hour to solve the clues (and find the suspect, or free the victim, or defuse the bomb, or whatever). That’s it!
I didn’t take any pictures of the actual room because, you know, I don’t wanna ruin the fun. But expect hidden objects, and locks, and maps, and obscure things on the wall.
It forces you and your group (I might recommend 4-6 people) to work together, do some thinking outside the box, and eventually, feel really stupid when you don’t complete the challenge in the time allowed.
The genre is called escape rooms because some of the rooms actually lock you in, and the only way out is to discover the clues and crack the code.
It’s an interesting concept, escaping for fun.
We had dinner after at Jinya Ramen Bar. It’s clearly an old fast food restaurant that they did an amazing job at rehabbing into something that resembles trendy.
The ramen wasn’t my favorite ever, but it was definitely some of the best I’ve had in the city.
Alcohol happens to be a particularly fond channel of escape for me. A dangerously fond one.
For most people, really. 9 out of 10 Americans say they’ve tried alcohol ever. 7 out of 10 in the last year. ~6 out of 10 in the last month. That’s a lot for a drug.
Perhaps alcohol is the ultimate escape drug. You can do it for a few hours and be right back to normal the next day. (Well, almost back to normal.) Not sure how far you wanna go? You can gauge it drink-by-drink; have one, two, or twelve.
It’s basically designed to make your brain not work as well. It makes you stupid, which is great, because that forces you to not think so much. What you’re escaping is having to be an intelligent adult for the night. I actually hate it for that reason, but it’s the drug society has made most easily available, so…
And it’s Octoberfest. That means one thing…
Hofbrau is this building that they may have well picked up from Germany brick-by-brick and set down in Las Vegas at the corner of Paradise and Harmon. HB did such an authentic job of recreating their German experience here in Las Vegas, that ONE of the below pictures is actually not my picture – it was taken at their location in Munich, Germany. I won’t tell you which one.
It’s a German beer hall in all its glory. Steins the size of 3 beers… the girls in lederhosen… the band… the jagermeister… the long wooden benches combine with the easy-drinking beer to create a sense of community like none other.
There’s singing and dancing on the tables and contests and usually lots and lots of drunkenness and singing and happy yelling (there is such a thing).
If you go, make a reservation, and make it for the main room. We didn’t plan this visit and had to spend our first 30 minutes in the beer garden, which is still fun, but in no way compares to what’s going on in the main hall.
Art in the Park
This weekend, Boulder City celebrated their 500th Annual Art in the Park – just kidding, 54th Annual.
This art and craft festival is larger than you would think. It was probably 2 hours to see everything – longer if you stopped and studied more.
A bunch of vendors of artists and craftsmen making things by hand. Things that took hours and hours to create. Things they dump their heart and soul into, then sell for $100 to some guy in a park who “thinks it looks cool.”
Falling in love with something, then setting it free. That’s the life of the artist.
Because art isn’t about ownership. It’s about creating something from nothing. Creating something for no reason – and with no purpose – but to be.
Art, after all, is all that is created without functionality.
Yes, she weaves every one of those colored threads by hand.
Creating art has been an important escape of mine since before I can remember. Whether it was with a pencil or a paintbrush or drumsticks, or in the case of this blog, a computer keyboard, it’s all the same.
There’s something magical about just shutting the fuck up for a few hours and diving deeply into something. Letting your brain turn off a bunch of shit it leaves on all day long. Letting a whole new set of neurons fire.
To just be inside yourself for a while.
Wake up. Brush your teeth. Judge yourself in the mirror. Morning commute. Work. School. Peanut butter and jelly. Dinner. Netflix. Chores. Errands. Spending. Debt. Saving for new cars. Saving for retirement. Wishing you saved more. Wishing you had more time. Wishing you were better. And every once in a while, wishing for an escape from it all.
We spend our whole lives digging ourselves deeper and deeper into a pattern of behaviors, interrupted only occasionally by poking our head out and asking ourselves, “How’d I get here?”
The result of this pattern of monotony-escape-monotony-escape is that as a society, we’re a little obsessed with the idea of escape. Whether it’s a criminal escaping from Alcatraz, Houdini escaping a straitjacket, the Ford Escape, or just us escaping to a resort in Mexico for a week with nothing but sand at our feet, a book in our hands, and pina coladas at the bar.
From time to time, we all just need to get away. Not because we hate our lives or the people in them or our jobs or our homes or our hairdos or our bad habits. Why then?
Escape isn’t about getting away from something. It’s about balance.
We’re creatures of habit, and if/when we’re not too careful, the habits take the wheel and we ride our whole lives out in the passenger seat. Behavior patterns are good. But falling asleep at the wheel, not so good. Escape is a mechanism we’ve created to prevent that. To jar things up a bit.
So Escape isn’t hateful or malicious or cowardice. It’s just another part of us. An important part. It’s just the other side of Habit’s coin. It goes with habit like peanut butter and jelly. Like Romeo and Juliet. Like weekends and activities.
Welcome to the family, Escape. Stay for dinner.
For every episode of Make The Weekend, visit maketheweekend.com.