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Vegas Baby!

beneath the neon.jpgWe’ve all heard rumors of Vegas’ criminal underbelly, but what actually lies below the glitz and glam of the strip? In the summer of 2002, after a murderer used the tunnels under the city that Bugsy built to escape from the police, Matt O’Brien, managing editor at CityLife in Las Vegas, and his freelance writer friend Josh Ellis decided to find out. They explored half a dozen tunnels — discovering “a bowling ball, casino chips, mural art, people, and myth” — and penned a two-part series for CityLife.
O’Brien wasn’t done. “We figured there was a lot more down there,” he says. “Initially, we were going to co-write the book. But Josh was moving to San Francisco and we had slightly different visions.” So, after Huntington Press bought the idea, O’Brien took a sabbatical from CityLife and spent the summer of ’04 exploring the tunnels. The resulting work, Beneath the Neon: Life and Death in the Tunnels of Las Vegas vividly details the lives of the homeless population that live in the tunnels. Through his exquisite reporting, O’Brien paints a starkly different portrait of the city then the one you get while playing the $25 table at the Bellagio.

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