What does it look like to be the best version of you? What do you improve? What do you fix? What about the little stuff? Big stuff?
If last weekend was all about the BIG, this weekend was all about small. Mini, actually.
This weekend, I’ll visit places that may be small, but are big in their own little way, and I’ll ask the question, what does it look like to be the best you you can be?
- Soho Sushi Bowlrrito | www.yelp.com | 6040 W Badura Ave, Ste 150, Las Vegas, NV 89118
- Gene Woods Racing Experience | www.racingexperiencelv.com | 121 E. Sunset Rd., Las Vegas, NV 89119
- Kiss Monster Mini Golf | kiss.monsterminigolf.com | Rio Las Vegas
- Slot Car City | www.slotcarcity.com | 1271 S Decatur Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89102
- Luv-It Frozen Custard | www.luvitfrozencustard.com | 505 E Oakey Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89104
- Super Summer Theater | www.supersummertheatre.org | 6375 NV-159, Las Vegas, NV 89004
Soho Sushi Bowlrrito
The heart and soul of the company is innovation. – Bob Iger
That’s right – they went there.
Soho Sushi Bowlrrito (please forgive their really challenging portmanteau of ‘bowl’ and ‘burrito’…) offers up a Subway sandwich service assemblyline-style sushi experience – in a “burrito” or a bowl.
Yes, I put “burrito” in quotes. Because is it really a burrito without a tortilla shell?
Sometimes it feels like Las Vegas has one sushi restaurant for every man, woman, and child in the city. So what better place to innovate on the American-style sushi roll than here??
Sushi is THE small food. This place made it BIG.
Sushi already comes in rolls, so rolling it into a burrito really isn’t exactly breaking tons of new ground. But girthing it up and serving it American style – with two hands? …now there’s innovation!
I might be getting a little tired of innovation.
If there are two things that are overly pervasive in capitalism, it’s innovation and marketing. Think about it. Capitalism has an insatiable appetite for inventing new things to sell (innovation) and new ways to sell them (marketing).
It’s simultaneously the biggest strength and the biggest weakness of our system. We don’t mean to do it. We just can’t help ourselves. If someone invents a new widget, someone else comes along with a flying widget, then someone else makes it play music, then… Before you know it, everyone in America is hitting up Facebook to show off their new glow-in-the-dark, sing-along, stain-removing, tazer-gun, upside-down pen, flying fucking teddy bear that also happens to be a widget.
Marketing, too. Just look at Times Square. You see, people, that’s what happens if you let the marketers in. They shit all over everything.
Vegas is sooo guilty of the over-marketing too. Check out our airport. Or our cabs. Or drive in on the I-15 from Los Angeles and count the billboards. Oh man, I about lost it when we started wrapping the buildings in advertisements.
My point is it’s an environment that might be guilty of over-innovation. Go check out Soho Sushi and let me know if you think it’s a justifiable innovation. My “burrito” was pretty tasty, for what it’s worth. This is their 2nd location here in the valley, so they must be doing alright.
Gene Woods Racing Experience
We went from something that started off mini and got BIG, to something that started off BIG and got mini.
Gene Woods Racing Experience opened in 2012 one block off the strip. It’s got this really spectacular view of the strip and the mountains, not that you’re paying any attention to that when you’re negotiating corners at 50 mph.
There’s like a million Go Kart tracks in Las Vegas. That’s kinda how we do things here. We’ve never built just one of anything. Part of that marketing and innovation problem I was talking about.
- In the ’90’s, it was the themed resorts. It seems like every hotel built between 1989 and 1998 had a volcano or a pirate show or was shaped like a pyramid. Did you know that in Treasure Island’s original concept, all the staff were supposed to walk around acting like pirates? I’m not fucking kidding. “Aaarrrgh, you got blackjack again, matey.”
- In the ’00’s, we had the rise of the high-rise condo. Over 60 applications went past desks at Clark County in just a few years. By the time the dust settled on the market crash, just ten big, shiny glass buildings made it to the finish line. Many of them got converted into rentals through the 2009 recession. They’re finally just recovering.
- Once one casino opened a mega-nightclub, everyone else had to have one, too.
- Studio 54 spawned Light, Rain, Pure, Tao, XS, Voodoo, Risque, Marquee, and on and on and on. Each casino’s club had to top the next.
- First it was the atmosphere, and teams of promoters would make sure tons of dudes waited around outside while hot girls got in.
- Then it was the tech, as each club built the most state-of-the-art, destroy-your-senses sound and light systems on the planet. When Jet renovated and became 1OAK, the redo project costed $150 million.
- As they mastered bottle service, they tested the price ceiling. One club would open their doors and start selling bottles for $300, so the next would charge $350. Then $400. Then $500. XS has a $100,000 drink that comes with diamond jewelry. Opening weekend at Encore Beachclub, top cabanas went for $20,000-25,000. At Bellagio’s Hyde, you can trigger the fountain show.
- Finally, it was the DJs. Guetta. Tiesto. DeadMau5. Skrillex. Clubs were booking them by the bussload. These guys were getting paid $20,000 a night, then $40,000 a night. When Hakkasan opened at MGM Grand, they told Calvin Harris they were gonna wrap the fucking building with his face, and pay him $400,000 a night. To hit the play button. And why not? The hottest club on the strip could bring in almost a million bucks a night in revenue.
- The new trend is Asian-themed joints. There’s 2 in the works and at least 2 in the pipe. That’s right – coming up on the Las Vegas Strip, expect panda exhibits, Great Wall replicas, and red – lots and lots of red.
- And on and on it goes. Rinse and repeat. If the business model works, we’ll keep building until we’re blue in the gills. Retail and convention space, strip clubs, shooting ranges, big entertainment venues… Hell, we even tried to build TWO FERRIS WHEELS at the same time! (Thank god the second one didn’t work out.)
But this place is somehow better than the other go kart places in town, maybe because it was opened by a pro racer. Gene Woods raced in anything he could get his hands on all his life, so it’s only fitting that he would move here and put his name on a Kart track. There’s this feeling of authenticity and focus to the place. At GWRE, it’s about racing.
That said, the weather in Las Vegas is awesome… most of the time. But 2-3 months out of the year, when you step outside, it feels like you stepped into a giant oven, and the sun is stabbing your skin with a thousand knives.
So this probably was not the best time to go to the one track that’s outdoors. But hey, I wanted to go to the best one!
Also, being outdoors, you slip around a lot on the track. (The dust.) So you’ve gotta learn how to fishtail a turn without losing speed.
Kiss Monster Mini Golf
It wouldn’t be a mini sports weekend without the most famous of all of the mini sports: mini golf. From Gene Woods to Gene Simmons, next up was Kiss Mini Golf at the Rio.
We had to wait a while for our tee time. (It’s a hard course to get into, apparently!) But we didn’t mind, because we’re ticket-collecting fools.
As a marketer who worked at a “classy place” for a while, I often envied the themed joints. You know why? Cuz they could do whatever the fuck they want.
When you’re Kiss Mini Golf, you can put Kiss on anything. In your merch store, don’t stop at t-shirts; put Kiss on plush animals and golf balls and onesies.
Paint Kiss shit all over your walls. Air Kiss concerts on projectors and blast Kiss songs from the DJ booth. The 18th hole was a giant Gene Simmons tongue.
Like I said, anything goes.
By the way, why is it that golf is for grown-ups, but mini-golf is for kids? That shit is backwards. Mini-golf is awesome, and adults need to take it back.
That said, I didn’t do very well.
Slot Car City
Speaking of mixing up kid and adult activities, next we went to Slot Car City – home to the BIGGEST SLOT CAR TRACK IN THE UNIVERSE!
Okay, I totally made that up. But if I owned this place, I would probably say that, because why the hell not.
Okay, so I’ve secretly been wanting to check this place out for a while.
I definitely owned slot cars as a kid. I wasn’t super into them or anything, but it’s still pretty nostalgic when I find out that Las Vegas has an adult-sized track, and anyone can go race on it for like a nickel. (I’m not actually sure how much it was, but it wasn’t much.)
Dude, these cars went fast. Like 50 mph fast. And there was a surprising amount of technique for just pushing a button, or you’ll fly off the track.
Not TONS of technique. But some.
Which, hey, maybe that’s the difference between a child’s activity and an adult’s activity. Like, there’s some amount of time-to-mastery – some amount of patience required before you’re halfway decent at the thing – and that’s what makes the activity more interesting to adults vs. children.
Adults have learned that it’s awesome to be good at things. Kids have that in them, but they don’t have the patience. They don’t truly appreciate the value of it yet. They haven’t quite had the taste of true mastery.
That said, there were definitely more adult dudes standing around playing with slot cars than there were kids. Maybe all the kids are at home playing slot cars on their iPads or something? This sport seems way too low tech for the modern child.
And the dudes that were there… how do I say this… looked like the kind of guy who would be hanging out at a slot car place on a Saturday night? These guys had their own cars. The legit ones. Their shit was FAST. They race for money. I know this, because I was told this.
But hey, I was there, so who am I to talk.
Luv-It Frozen Custard
More than one person recently has told me to go to Luv-It, so I’m glad I finally got a chance.
Okay, I’m now super mega nostalgic. Frozen custard from a walk-up counter? Child version of Tim from the past misses you and your long lines, Ted Drews!
Frozen custard is just so much better than ice cream. Seriously, why are we still eating ice cream? Can someone tell me? Write me an email or leave it in the comments.
Super Summer Theater
We topped off the evening with a show at the Super Summer Theater.
It’s out in Spring Mountain Ranch State Park. If you don’t know where that is, it’s because there’s exactly zero other reasons for you to go out that way. (p.s. It’s out in the middle of nowhere near Red Rock.)
But check out the view on the drive out there though. Beautiful! In our own desert love kinda way.
Then, tucked away inside the nook of one of these giant rocky hillsides is an outdoor theater where they do plays and musicals and you bring your own chairs and food and stuff and hang out and watch theater under the stars.
Forget a chair? You can rent one for like a dollar.
This weekend was the final performance of Memphis, a surprisingly racey musical about racial confrontation, as it plays out for one white DJ in Memphis, TN who wanted to bring colored music to the white part of the radio dial.
(Okay, so I didn’t grow up in the ’60’s… Even the radio dial was segregated?)
Please go support Super Summer Theater. It’s an all-volunteer organization. This group just wants to make the world a better place, and that’s super awesome.
It’s strange to go from sports to arts. One is rooted in competition against others; the other in competition against yourself.
But at the end of the day, they’re both out for the same goal. In fact, it’s a goal that lives quietly in the background of just about everything we do.
Everything we do in life is basically some variant of an activity to make us better. Because there are really only two experiences in the world: Ones that involve the ascension toward the mastery of something, and the enjoyment of that mastery.
I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. We’re all on a quest to make ourselves better. To be the best person we can be. I mean, duh, obviously. But how often do we stop and think about what that means?
There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self. – Ernest Hemingway
A Better Me
It goes without saying that we don’t need to “fix” that which we’re amazing at. Our best attributes make us shine. If we’re a virtuoso pianist, no one’s like, “Hey man, you suck at the piano. You should practice more.”
But our flaws are part of who are are also, right? I found myself asking this question:
When and how much should you try to fix your flaws, and how much should you let them thrive, because it’s what makes you… you? And how do you tell the difference?
I have flaws. I know I have flaws. But what about them? Don’t they make me who I am – a beautiful and unique snowflake?
More importantly, if we get rid of them, won’t we all just become like the same boring, spiritless, void-of-creativity-and-humanity drones that walk mindlessly in-step in long formations toward a giant meat grinder or something?
I answered this question by asking another question: In what scenario is it obvious a person needs to fix their flaws? What’s the most extreme example I can think of? One where no one could possibly question whether you should fix the flaw or not? If I could find one of those, I could extrapolate it back to a larger rule.
You can’t have the rainbow without the storm. – Shannon L. Alder
Naturally, I went to murder. If you have violent tendencies, if that’s your flaw, then dammit, you should definitely fix that. Why? Cuz it hurts other people. So there’s our first answer. If your flaw hurts others, you should probably fix it.
Of course, thankfully, there aren’t a lot of murderers out there. But people hurt other people emotionally all the time. Maybe you interrupt people. Maybe you talk down to them. Maybe they don’t appreciate your offensive sense of humor. There’s a million ways to hurt someone.
I have had recurring nightmares that I was loved for who I am – Muse
What if it doesn’t necessarily hurt others, but it hurts you? You should probably work on that, too, right? Do you drink too much? Watch too much TV? Do you lack negotiation skills? Work too hard? Have too little self confidence?
Okay great, so now we’ve got two good occasions where you should definitely improve a negative. Are there any others?
What if it doesn’t hurt anyone? What if it’s just this thing. You like the smell of gasoline at the gas station. You bite your nails. You snort when you laugh. You have bad taste in music. I would argue that if it’s not hurting anyone, then it’s not a flaw at all. It’s part of the perfect you. Keep it.
Once you’ve accepted your flaws, no one can use them against you. – George R.R. Martin
It was seeming really straight-forward so far. Then I ran into a hiccup. What if my flaw does some harm but also some good?
What if it’s really useful at work, but harming your personal life? Like you’re first to jump at an opportunity to speak or something. Or vice versa? Steve Jobs definitely hurt some people, but in the name of creating some pretty cool things for the world.
Okay, I thought about this for a while, and I came up with a solution, based on how people actually make these kinds of practical decisions in their every day life. You may not like it. Here it goes.
I’m gonna call it weighted utilitarianism. What’s that mean? Basically, add up the harm and add up the good and ask yourself if there’s more harm or more good. And if the harm is something in your life that means more to you, then weight that with more importance.
Of course, I don’t expect you to pencil all this out. You’d be staring at a calculator all day every day. It’s approximate. But you should be able to make some basic judgement calls. And if you aren’t able to, then that’s probably the first flaw you should work on fixing.
So next time you realize one of your flaws, qualify it. Does it belong on the fix-it list?
Okay, now we know what to change. How about when and how much?
I’m an introvert. That’s a GOOD thing, because dammit, introverts are freaking awesome. But my extreme lack of extroversion is a negative. I’m like a stand-in-the-corner-at-the-party level of introvert. This is bad for me. Why? You never know who you’re gonna meet or what kind of amazingness they’re going to bring to your life, so yeah, it’s harmful to me. It makes the list.
So I work on it. When given the chance, I try to pretend to be okay having awkward, idle banter with semi-strangers.
But how much should I work on it? And how much should I work on all the other stuff? I mean, I could spend every minute of my life on this stuff – stuff I don’t really care to work on – and never be done.
Besides, your time is much more valuably spent working on making your good attributes better. That’s the stuff that really makes you who you are.
So how much then? Here’s my proposition: Enough. Work on it enough. Not a minute longer. You know why? Cuz those flaws – you’re never going to be amazing at them, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m never going to be Bill Clinton-level extrovert.
Focus on the stuff you’re good at. The stuff you really enjoy doing. And go try to be the best at it in the entire universe.
So how much improvement do I have to do? When is enough enough? Here’s a start: the middle. Those things you suck at? Shoot for average.
You don’t have to be the funnest guy at the party – just be somewhere in the middle of the pack. Be average funny. Are you bad at talking to girls? Don’t try to make yourself fucking George Clooney. Just shoot for, I don’t know, Matt Damon. Ocean’s 11 Matt Damon; not Good Will Hunting Matt Damon.
Make the most of yourself….for that is all there is of you. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Find your red bars. Pull them up. Then move on. Focus on the stuff you’re good at. The stuff you really enjoy doing. And go try to be the best at it in the entire universe. Because that’s the stuff that makes you a beautiful and unique snowflake. That’s the stuff that brought a successful role in history to Gandhi and Steve Jobs and Richard Simmons and Deepak Chopra.
Maybe it’s just one thing. Or maybe you are like me, and you like chipping away at a bunch of things. Maybe it’s the ascension to mastery you enjoy more than the kicking back and appreciating the mastery that you’ve previously achieved.
But taking a break and appreciating is fine too. You deserve it. Just don’t break for too long. Life is short.
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