Steve Friess, a columnist, podcaster and major media contributor based in Las Vegas, has relocated to the University of Michigan as a Knight-Wallace fellow. For his final Las Vegas Weekly column, he uncorked one of the most memorable farewell-to-readers essays FishbowlLA has ever read.
Beginning with a full-time job at the Review-Journal in 1996, Friess’ professional experiences in Sin City mirrored the leisure capital’s explosive growth. He departed a couple of times for gigs in South Florida and China, but realized just how much Vegas was in his blood when he turned down a 2003 job interview opportunity with the Washington Post. Writes Friess:
I took a fake Liza Minnelli whom I met at the Celebrity Impersonators Convention to a 2 a.m. show by the real Liza at the Luxor. I covered rock-paper-scissors and Monopoly championships… I wrote full-service guidebooks geared towards gays, NASCAR fans and the French. My Little Brother (from Big Brothers Big Sisters) and I snuck into all the pools on the Strip and graded them for the Los Angeles Times.
Steve Wynn screamed at me on the phone while I was enjoying his Encore spa because he was livid that a feature I’d written for Vegas magazine on the recently deceased “f*cking asshole” Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal appeared opposite an ad for one of his hotels… A few times, my stories generated jokes for NPR’s Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!, including news I broke in USA Today from a medical convention where doctors learned that it may soon be possible to do full-head hair transplants using the scalps of cadavers.
Friess has no idea where he, his partner and their dogs might wind up post-fellowship. But whether he returns to Vegas and-or journalism, it’s likely nothing will change his feeling that Sin City is “the most honest place in the world, unapologetically brash and self-important, kitschy, unironic, genuine and emotive.”
Previously on FishbowlLA:
Steve Friess Vegas Person of 2007
LA Times, LA Weekly Among ‘GLAAD Media Awards’ Nominees