A Good-Bye in Vegas

Former Westword staffer Tony Perez-Giese is now looking for stories around the globe, and will be sending us periodic dispatches.

A final weekend in Vegas is just the last in what has proved to be a long string of bad decisions. It is slight comfort to know that I did not have much of a choice in the matter, as my West Coast associates all came up with compelling reasons why Nevada had to be the site of my "bon voyage" as I embark on my round-the-world voyage. My white-shoe lawyer, Lee Moon, had some Super Bowl chips to cash in; Cindy J, one of Warren Buffet's underwriting mob, was passing through on her way to Omaha for a cheap steak with the boss.

Still, the weekend was not a complete wash, as I made a valuable Middle East contact in the person of a Esa from Afghanistan, a blackjack dealer While I was frittering away my Am Ex Traveler's Cheques at the card table, Esa assured me that his clan connections could guide me into Iraq through the proverbial backdoor. He extended this offer only after one of my colleagues, also an Afghan, established my creditability by telling the story about that feature we did after I infiltrated those fraternity houses up in Boulder. Realizing that I was the "real deal," Esa agreed to have one of his cousins meet me in Gibraltar (at least I think that's what he said -- I was getting after the Patron Silver pretty good there for a couple hours), where we would then take a boat across the Med to Beirut. From there it will be a land operation.

So even though I lost about a grand as Esa pulled what I think is a world-record fourteen straight 21’s on me, I do feel that this contact will be worth it in the end. Since my first stop is Scotland (where I'll land sometime tomorrow afternoon, God willing and the crick don't rise), Esa advised me to buy a couple crates of Scotch because good whiskey is about as hard to get as untraceable Stinger missiles in that part of the world these days. So that's the plan as of right now: Scotland to Gibraltar to Beirut to the bar of the Hotel Palestine in Baghdad like an angel of booze mercy.

I must admit that I had hoped to shove off for this journey in a little better shape than this. My three-day stubble, bloodshot eyes and Warp 7 sunburn are dragging behind me like a deflated tractor tire. Some old lady at the Pai-Gow table also put a cigarette burn in the sleeve of my Haliburton Edition Teflon-coated travel blazer, which, at this moment feels like a rather big chink in the proverbial armor. But I guess you don't want to show up across the pond looking all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed like Maria Bartiromo or that weasel Anderson Cooper, do you?

Signing off until Scotland, TPG, Eastbound and Down

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Crystal Preston-Watson