What the f*&k is going on Downtown? May Edition

Well, I didn’t necessarily intend (or believe I would find time) to keep writing actively about how I see the moment we’re experiencing here in Downtown Las Vegas, but… whatever, I am.

The first WTFIGOD post focused mostly on how the Downtown Project and its many flowery tentacles have been perceived locally overall by those ‘around’ it, with a few prescriptions thrown in at various decibels of vehemence. For #2, an update on the response I received and have observed since that post, and combining a few posts I’ve been meaning to write about my reactions to various of the DTP’s P’s just launched or nearing that state.

TL;DR: Communi-ty-cation: what a difference a month makes. Downtown Rangers: surface creepy, but give it time. Project100: A couple of Teslas isn’t cool. You know what’s cool? What the Health: <3. 9thBridge: Great logo. Event Bonanza: Speaker Series & Catalyst & Tech.co’s, oh my!

Okay, so I didn’t really get a response, per se. I wasn’t expecting any (I looked at it as an experiment, on many levels), but in case you wondered, no, no flowery pronouncements that a partnership with UNLV Sociology to do an ethnographic study of the downtown area would be forthcoming.

Despite all the pageviews, I only had ~10 people in the community bring it up in the weeks following, all encouraging but most reserved in thanking me. A few of them said they wished they could write things like that in public (inasmuch as a blog post, tucked away in a ‘place’ like this, is actually ‘public’), but in each case, I understood why, and was just happy they thought it worthwhile to mention to me.

But while I received no direct indication that the people I was writing for saw it, the only thing I actually cared about did seem to happen: progress. If you had asked me a couple months ago if I thought certain Vegas locals would be retweeting with “Kudos!” DTP’s announcement regarding how it handled its next weekly motel tenant situation, I probably would have laughed.

I would also laugh now, but only because that happened. By all accounts, recent experiences at the John E. Carson motel and the  already-reopened Gold Spike have been totally and awesomely positive. And that’s really good to hear. As I said in the last post, it really is the little things. Anyway, for some specific project notes…

Downtown Rangers BadgeDowntown Rangers

Look, with the reputation that other private security like the fine folks from the El Cortez have among the downtown party crowd, it’s not surprising that any new badged presence with security capabilities is going to be met with skepticism. But based on initial observation, the only thing I’m mildly concerned about is the video cameras that Rangers wear, but it’s probably just as likely they’ll catch a cop beating someone as anything, so whatever. To the extent possible, Tony seems to have drawn inspiration from the Black Rock Rangers who keep participants at Burning Man safe; experienced burners with survival and safety skills whom I greatly respect. Seems to me, translate that concept to a reviving urban core, and you get something like the Downtown Rangers. So, I’m on board.

Project 100

The concept of an uber-Uber, an app to meet all your transportation needs, is a great one, end of discussion. Make it work as a business as Uber seems to have, and you win, mic drop.

But why 100 Teslas to kick it off? The story I heard all over was that it happened via text, essentially “dude, what if we got 100 Teslas? … Let’s find out.” And the only reason I’ve heard for exactly 100 to kick it all off is that you want to have enough of them to always have inventory available when and where people need it, from Henderson to Summerlin.

Maybe it’s a moot point because Elon gave a bulk discount or something. But I couldn’t help thinking of that line from The Social Network when I first heard about the project’s beginnings. I guess I’m not convinced that the right number might not be 72, or 36, or 12, especially at first. Is there a spreadsheet somewhere that pinned the optimal number around 100?

I hope that there was, or one has been created since. Because to watch a few unnecessary million dollars get thrown around on (awesome) toy cars while one of the most sacred places in local native american culture is threatened with destruction for want of less than two million; it seems like our priorities are misplaced. Even if I didn’t have that sad personal example to not be able to help comparing it to, does it not have the potential to set a bad example for starry-eyed startup founders everywhere by reinforcing that “you know what’s cool??” mentality? Guess it’s just me.

ZDogg & Josh.0’s Magical Mystery Health Clinic

…is AWESOME. Everything I’ve seen and heard about the way this project is being approached, I love. The passion for fixing a completely broken healthcare system with one small shining example clinic is admirable, and the insurance-free model for preventative and primary care that Zubin is working on seems like the right strategy. No, not everyone, insured or not, will be able to pay the ~$75 they hope to charge for monthly memberships.

But, it’s a great step in a disruptive direction, and if it sees any success at all, it completely lends itself to scaling up aggressively. The government may not be able to fix medicine (I personally got f’d by Obamacare’s effects on my insurance company’s behavior, and am currently uninsured as an indirect result), but this kind of entrepreneurship with a heart is really great to see. Sign me up. You know, as soon as I can afford it.


I don’t have kids, I don’t know much about primary schools, and I haven’t seen too many updates about this project, but it looks like it’s going to open on schedule, and be pretty cool for the families and staff participating. I’m more interested about the past plans for a project at that site — I heard it was previously supposed to be re-done as a community center of sorts? If not there, will there be a community center erected anywhere? You could put a big monolithic dome (or something cheaper, haha) on one of those empty lots and have year-round indoor grass sports.

So many events, so little time!

If you live around here, you’ll notice that there are now 3 separate organizations doing just speaker-series-style events downtown, which means talks and mixers, um, constantly. I wish I could go to more of them; most I’ve been to have been awesome. Tech week. Wellness week. Fashion week. COLLIDE, DAMNIT! Racking up those collisionable hours. The first startup that finds a way to ambiently track collisionable hours via an app, and connect that up to a huge ticker high up on the side of the Ogden facing Fremont Street, that startup will win.

All for now. Questions and rants in the comments, but don’t say anything meaner than I would say. 🙂

2 thoughts on “What the f*&k is going on Downtown? May Edition”

  1. Great blog post!

    Fun random discussion point because I feel this blog is a safe environment for discussions of this sort: do you like the emphasis of the speaker-series-style events downtown? Personally, I don’t. I think the culture emanating from them is a bit poisonous, infused with heavy i-know-this-guy, status-oriented crap that DTP-ites kinda specialize in. I guess it fits with the style of tourism they’re focusing on Fremont East (which will fit nicely with the new Inspire Theatre), but that culture really makes me not want to go to East Fremont ever as a local anymore.

    Would be interesting to discuss other cultures which could be co-organized a bit more with an empowered locals community. In the meantime, I’ll spend my ‘collisional community hours’ elsewhere, thank you. 🙂

    1. hm, I guess it doesn’t really matter whether I like the emphasis on speakers per-se. I do think that one-to-many-focused events tend to be less effective at generating creative interactions and collisions (which I’d argue are far more useful and valuable than consumptive time spent together), so I guess from that angle, it’s not ideal, yeah..

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