Ray Manzarek, who along with his college friend Jim Morrison, founded the seminal 1960s group, The Doors, has died of bile duct cancer at the age of 74.
courtesy of mildequator.com
If you grew up in Las Vegas back in the 1960s, it certainly felt like a magical time. While our parents were enjoying The Rat Pack, Tony Bennett, Broadway shows, Harry Belafonte, Lena Horne and more, we, the younger generation, were able to see The Beatles, Iron Butterfly, Led Zepplin and The Doors (and more) in the Rotunda of the old Convention Center.
The Doors played there on August 25, 1967 opening the 8:00 show with Soul Kitchen.
"I was deeply saddened to hear about the passing of my friend and bandmate Ray Manzarek today," Doors guitarist Robby Krieger said in a statement. "I'm just glad to have been able to have played Doors songs with him for the last decade. Ray was a huge part of my life and I will always miss him."
Sons of Nevada Episode 21
Our drinking game comes to an end as CBS (expectedly??) cancels the show just hours before the season finale aired and became a series finale.
But before we get started, let’s get comfortable and because we know many of you were fond of the show, we’ll pass you some virtual Kleenex.
Let’s dig in!
At the beginning, Ralph goes out to check Kathryn’s car and sees an apparition of his dead wife. Is she jealous of Kathryn or does Ralph just feel guilty. Ralph is told that Kathryn is stable but not conscious. She tells the deputy he’s not the sheriff anymore.
Vince and Lady Heather, oops Mia’s mom, talk and she pushes Vince towards coming out on top. Nice privacy screen on the balcony. I was more focused on that than the scene.
Porter Gainsley has gathered his troops in a scene that tries to pay homage to Michael Corleone’s lake front property in Godfather II. If only the show was half as good as any scene in that film. Gainsley wants the Attorney General (the state AG, not Bobby Kennedy) to shut every hotel down and put the screws to the owners.
Jack shows up to Mia’s with an engagement ring. She’s in a talking mood and she calls Jack on the carpet for bugging Vince’s office. He tells her ‘everyone would go down except you”. They fight and once again she wants Jack out of her life. She tells him it’s over. This is what the 85th time this season they’ve had a fight and broken up? Okay, at least the 10th.
Ralph promises Kathryn that he’ll take care of the Gainsley business and he tries to tell her all the things he should have but the Feds interrupt and advises Ralph to keep a cool head.
Yeah, that will happen.
Ralph and Vince talk about killing Porter Gainsley. The tapes from the wire taps become Vince’s property if he helps and they are successful. Ralph is out for revenge because Gainsley killed his wife. Kathryn doesn’t come up in the conversation.
Jack wants the tapes and confronts Ralph about it. Ralph tells him that Vince has the tapes and explains to Jack that he needs Vince’s help in bringing down Gainsley. Ralph is taking the law into his own hands because to him, Gainsley is more of a problem than Savino and the guys from Chicago and New York.
Vince tells Mia he has the tapes and that he has made a deal with Ralph. At this point, if these guys don’t shut up everyone is going to know!
Vince and Ralph drive away leaving Red behind. Quaid smiles (DRINK!) after a manure joke.
Gainsley is selling all his cattle and Vince and Ralph decide to take him down as he comes out to inspect his cows. Ralph and Vince verbally spar and Quaid smiles again (DRINK!).
Jack tries to get Dixon on his side but Dixon wants Gainsley dead, too. Jack finally convinces him to help him. Dixon tells Miss Sanchez about Ralph and Vince and notices the ad for the cattle auction.
At the auction, Ralph and Vince are loaded for bear but Dixon tries to take Gainsley out himself and messes up, only wounding the guy but Gainsley realizes that Ralph was lying in wait for him.
“Cowboys and Mobsters teaming up” mutters Gainsley. In Bugs Bunny speak, this means war.
The Brothers Lamb argue. Jack tries to reason with Ralph reminding him that they are all involved. Miss Sanchez is not happy with Dixon trying to kill Gainsley. She walks out on Dixon because she doesn’t want to watch him die.
To his credit, Dixon claims to have Gainsley in his sights but couldn’t pull the trigger. That’s because Jack raised him right.
Super FBI Agent tries to talk sense to the Attorney General but he’s not listening. The agent reminds the Attorney General not to get caught in Gainsley’s back pocket. Agents come to get Jack to supposedly take him into protective custody. A stand off ensues until Super Agent intervenes on orders of J. Edgar and takes Jack and Dixon into real protective custody.
“The Johnny Fed Trio” may be the best line of the whole show as Vince describes Super Agent, Jack and Dixon. Vince wants nothing to do with Ralph and his family because they are hot heads. Ralph reminds him that he, at least, is a man of his word.
Vince drives off and gets about as far as the end of the porte cochere and comes back spewing mad because he, too, is a man of his word and his word is gold. Good thing he did because ala Frank Rosenthal, Vince’s car blows up. Unlike Lefty, Vince wasn’t in it.
Mia and the Entertainment Director are coming back from lunch. She seems to have had one too many but somehow they missed Vince almost being blown up. The Entertainment Director wants to date. Their conversation is stopped by Mia noticing Vince’s blown up car.
Vince, Ralph and the posse go to see one of Vince’s friends. It’s Eyeglasses! Jack is not happy teaming up with a guy who killed one of their deputies. But Vince is confident that Eyeglasses can take out Gainsley quietly. And he bakes cookies!
Jack is not happy being in bed with Vince and his men. Ralph apologies for getting Jack and Dixon involved. Jack knows Dixon wouldn’t go and Jack ain’t leaving Ralph to do it alone. It’s all for one and one for all!
Vince drops Eyeglasses off on the road to Gainsley’s. Luckily it’s night time. The bad news is that for as much as I like Eyeglasses, I would have preferred to see him as Dewey Crowe on Justified this season. Eyeglasses walks up to Gainsley’s gate and announces he is for sale to the highest bidder. He is invited in.
Girl talk. Mia and Lady Heather, oops Mia’s mom, have a talk. Mia is still in love with Jack (are you surprised? I thought not). Mom advises forgetting Jack.
Vince, Red and the Lambs ready for the fight while Gainsley gives Eyeglasses ten seconds to explain himself. Eyeglasses tells Gainsley a plan, that Ralph and his brothers are on the property. Eyeglasses wants 20k and offers to go with Gainsley to kill the Lambs and Vince so he can get paid. (Do you smell a set up? I thought so.)
It’s, of course, a set-up and the Lambs and Vince spring the trap. Eyeglasses expects transportation to the border without any interference. Vince instructs his one of his men to give Eyeglasses the keys to a car. Ralph reminds Eyeglasses not to come north of the border ever again.
With the drop on Gainsley can Ralph kill him? Nope. Vince is not happy that Ralph is just taking him into to face justice. Jack is happy but Dixon isn’t sure. Vince tries to talk Ralph into letting him kill him. Super Agent shows up and takes Gainsley into custody.
Vince is not happy but was there anyone out there who thought Ralph would actually kill a man in cold blood. He goes to the hospital to be with Kathryn. Dixon finds him there and they have a father/son talk. Quaid kind of smiles one last time (DRINK!!!).
Father and son reconcile. Miss Sanchez is waiting for Dixon as he comes out of the hospital room. She tells him not to be so reckless ever again. Lots of nevers being bandied about. Miss Sanchez and Dixon are a team.
Jack goes to see Mia and shows her the ring. He wants to marry her. The Entertainment Director, in a towel, comes out looking for wine. It’s not to be, Jack.
As Bobby Darin sings Mack the Knife, Vince and Ralph talk. The Tumbleweed will be opening in a few weeks. Vince asks Ralph to come work for him as head of security. But Ralph is back as Sheriff. Quaid smiles one last time (DRINK!!!!!) and they agree to be friendly adversaries.
The wonderful set of Fremont Street all lit up is the last thing we see of Vegas.
It was a solid episode but not enough solid ones or enough eyes on the show convinced CBS to cancel the show.
I will miss seeing the set.
How about you? What will you miss? And what was your favorite part of the series?
Hit the comments and tell us!
UPDATE: Well, there's blood all over the floor as my favorite critic Tim Goodman likes to say!
CBS announced late today, ahead of their upfront presentation in the week ahead, that it was cancelling Vegas. Along with the retro drama, CBS lowered the axe of CSI: NY, Rules of Engagement and Golden Boy. Las Vegas is still represented on the CBS schedule thanks to original recipe CSI, coming back for its 14th season this fall.
NBC also lowered the boom on a number of their comedy shows as well as 30 Rock with Brian Williams.
ABC lowered the boom on Happy Endings, Body of Proof and Malibu Country.
TNT cancelled critical darling and the best cop show on tv, Southland and the medical drama, Monday Mornings.
Dr. Lonnie Hammergren, collector of not only Las Vegas history but history's weird and arcane objects, will guest star on History Channel's American Restoration tomorrow (Tuesday) night.
Do you remember the Iron Lung? Well….Rick, the star of Las Vegas’ very own “American Restoration” television show will be restoring one tomorrow night on the History Channel.
Rick called Dr. Lonnie Hammargren for his advice and expertise regarding the iron lung because of his medical understanding of the machine and Lonnie just happened to have one in his backyard. For years Lonnie had his iron lung exhibited with a blowup doll of the iconic Superman inside of the thing wherein he was jokingly trying to resuscitate him.
It worked out well for Rick since Lonnie’s was in much better shape and Rick was able to borrow pieces and parts to restore his iron lung that you will see tomorrow tonight… as well as scenes from the “Hammargren Home of Nevada History”.
Check your local listings for the time in your area!
Perhaps Rick can use his restored iron lung to attempt a resuscitation of Wonder Woman.
"We've had an explosion and everything's on fire" Company Comptroller Roy Westerfield told a dispatcher. A few seconds later he said "Get 'em all out of here".
These were quite possibly his last words.
On May 4th, 1988, a loud explosion rocked the entire Southern Nevada Valley. The ground rumbled, windows shook and, in many places, shattered completely. Residents at first thought it was an earthquake. Others who saw a mushroom cloud rising over Henderson thought a nuclear nightmare might be unfolding in the industrial city.
In reality, it was an industrial disaster that occurred at the Pacific Engineering Production Company of Nevada which was commonly referred to as PEPCON. The plant, located in Henderson, was one of two American producers of ammonium perchlorate which is an oxidizer in solid rocket fuel boosters for the Space Shuttle and the military's Titan Missile program.
The other American manufacturer, Kerr-McGee, was located less than five miles away from the PEPCON plant and well with-in the area that suffered blast damage.
A little background information: After the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster in January, 1986, the United States government continued their contract with PEPCON for ammonium perchlorate. Despite the freeze on the Space Program, the company continued to manufacture the product at the same rate as before the Shuttle disaster. Since there was no delivery of the product going on due to the freeze and no guidance from the government as to where to ship it to, the company stored the compound on site in plastic drums. These drums were housed on the parking lots around the plant. The Las Vegas Review Journal reported in the aftermath that "nearly 9 million (yeah, you read that right) pounds of the chemical was consumed by the flames or explosions."
According to Wikipedia, a fire started by "a cigarette that had been discarded into a barrel of scrap ammonium perchlorate." Nearby, workers were repairing a steel frame with fiberglass walls that had suffered damage in a recent windstorm. They were using a welding torch. The fire spread quickly once it reached the fiberglass material. This led, according to the Las Vegas Mercury account by Gregory Crosby, to the first small explosion:
This small explosion raised the alarm "that enabled most workers to escape before a second larger explosion occurred on the heels of the first."
Company comptroller Roy Westerfield "was on the phone reporting the emergency, explaining the urgency of the situation, "We've had an explosion and everything's on fire" he told a dispatcher. (Las Vegas Review Journal)
The Henderson Fire Department responded to the fire. When the Fire Chief arrived he saw a massive white and orange fireball and dozens of people running across the desert towards him. The second explosion happened at 11:54 and the shock wave shattered the windows in the Chief's car. A heavily damaged vehicle approached and its driver advised the chief that the danger was growing. The Chief turned around and headed towards safety.
Inside the plant, Roy Westerfield was still trying to herd people to safety. He was talking by phone to a dispatcher when few seconds later he said "Get 'em all out of here". These were quite possibly his last words.
It was the third massive explosion that sent Henderson and Las Vegas residents running for their windows, radios and television news. Local Channel 3 anchor Gwen Castaldi went on the air and began letting Valley residents know what was happening. "It was a real moment of urgency and tragedy in the community." (Personal interview with Castaldi, 2005).
It was the third blast, according to Gregory Crosby, "that sealed the plant's fate when that 9 million pounds of chemical literally went up in smoke."
The blast was so forceful that it knocked an arriving fire engine over two lanes. Another arriving fire truck had its windows shattered. Cars were overturned. The explosion created a visible shock wave. This explosion almost destroyed the Fire Chief's car but he was able to drive to a nearby hospital to seek treatment for his passenger and himself.
Inside the plant, Roy Westerfield and Bruce Halker, two employees who were shepherding people out of danger were killed. More than 300 people were injured.
The marshmallow factory next door, Kidd and Co., suffered the brunt of the explosion. Due to faulty equipment there were fewer employees working that day. Those employees who were there evacuated at the first sign of trouble. The marshmallow factory was destroyed.
"The final explosion went off and PEPCON basically disappeared. Boulder Highway looked like a war zone. There was glass everywhere.." Eyewitness and PEPCON employee Joe Hedrick.
The last explosion registered 3.5 on the Richter scale by the National Earthquake Information Center 600 miles away in Colorado. A crater estimated at 15 feet deep and 200 feet wide was left in the storage area.
A 747 on approach to McCarran Airport was reportedly buffeted by the shock wave. The Airport, 11 miles away from the blast, suffered cracked windows. An analysis later estimated the blast damage the equivalent of 250 tons of TNT.
Nearby Basic High School suffered serious damage and damage was reported at McDoniel Elementary, Burkholder Middle School and Southern Nevada Vocational-Technical Center. The last blast blew out the windows at Basic High School.
"We thought someone was out there with a shotgun" remembered teacher Michael Neighbors, "Like fools, we went right for the windows. We literally pushed the kids out of the building. It was like an air pocket. The back of my hair parted." (Las Vegas Review Journal).
The large plume of smoke could be seen around the valley and residents throughout the valley worried about chemical fall-out. Luckily, the wind that day was only 20 to 25 mph and kept much of the chemical from settling in the valley. Local health officials predicted that lives were saved because of the winds.
Damage was estimated at $74 million dollars. The nearby Fire Station was heavily damaged and there was structural damage to a nearby warehouse.
PEPCON, renamed Western Electrochemical Company, relocated to Iron County, Utah. Now some 14 miles northwest of St. George, they began the relocation a mere three months after the devastating explosion at the Henderson plant. Kerr-McGee moved their plant 17 miles northeast of Las Vegas to Apex. For awhile Kerr-McGee continued to manufacture the more stable liquid form of the chemical on site. But in 1998, ten years after the disaster, the parent company of PEPCON/Western Electrochemical Company bought out the remaining ammonium perchlorate contracts and moved all production to Utah.
Senior Company official, Fred Gibson, Jr tried to shift blame from PEPCON to Southwest Gas by saying that a ruptured gas line caused the fire. However, this conflicted with eyewitness testimony by employees. PEPCON attorney told the Las Vegas Review Journal, three days after the disaster, "Nothing ignites ammonium perchlorate. It does not burn. It is not flammable." Chemists from around the world immediately disputed the attorney and called the product "unstable and highly flammable."
After the explosion it came out that the facility had been cited numerous times since 1974 for safety violations. There had been a small explosion in 1980 that had injured a worker.
More than 50 law firms represented dozens of insurance companies and corporations in lawsuits. The case ran up tens of millions of dollars in attorneys fees and produced 1 million pages of depositions.
The case wound its way through the judicial system from 1989 to 1992 when a $171 million settlement was reached before going to a jury trial. Insurance companies that had reimbursed some 17,000 claimants received almost 100 cents on the dollar.
Clark County agreed to pay $3.8 million to insurance companies as a result of shoddy inspections that had taken place at the plant over the years.
Southwest Gas also agreed to settle because according to their attorney "it was a practical decision made because of the uncertainty of what a jury might do at trial." (Las Vegas Review Journal).
Southwest Gas later found out what a jury would do. In a trial that lasted a little over a month, PEPCON's insurance company argued that gas, which is lighter than air, had leaked from a pipe then moved horizontally underground toward the plant 670 feet away. The gas was then to make a 90-degree turn upward and ignited with an unknown source. (Emphasis added)
Following final arguments, the attorneys hadn't even gotten back to their offices before the call came from the court house that a jury had reached a verdict. It took less than a half hour for the jury to laugh that idea out of court.
The disaster was a turning point for the development of Henderson. The city began to shift from being the "City of Industry" (its slogan) to a bedroom community of Las Vegas. A few years after the disaster, Green Valley subdivision, a master planned community, took off with home buyers and changed the dynamics of Henderson forever.
Though many industries remain in Henderson, the city is now a growing hub of suburban dwellers looking to escape Las Vegas.
Video of the explosion can be seen here: http://www.reviewjournal.com/news/pepcon/pepcon1.mov
The Pepcon Site with the Kidd Marshmallow Factory on the right
(Courtesy of the Las Vegas Review Journal)
Map of Pepcon location
The explosion as seen from Lake Mead Blvd.
(courtesy of the Las Vegas Review Journal)
(courtesy of RoadsidePictures)
(courtesy of RoadsidePictures)
Unfinished Business Season 1, Episode 20
After a couple of weeks of far-flung travel (hello, TCM Classic Film Festival), we are back with a recap!
At the top of the episode:
The Tumbleweed is about to “come under new management”. Mining tycoon Porter Gainsley’s ownership of the Tumbleweed not only has Vince’s panties in a bunch but and wants him out. Gainsley thinks he can up Vince. We know better.
The chorus line at the Savoy is expensive, costing the hotel $25,000 to bribe a gaming commissioner.
Agent Byrne, who was shot by a rogue woman last week is recovering. He hates jello cubes. Don’t we all.
Lady Heather, oops, Mia’s mother, Lena, is on her way to Tahoe for the weekend but runs into Mia and Jack before hand and has eyes for Jack. Mia is not happy.
The brothers Lamb find the body of a lawyer, Milton Krull, in the trunk of a car with a canary in his mouth. Can we say foreshadowing? Yes, we can.
Katherine thinks Krull is working both sides against the middle. Are you surprised? No, we thought not.
Gainsley was a friend of the former, dead sheriff and that causes Ralph to raise an eyebrow.
Katherine knows that Jack has been taping the phone calls and Mia may be in the cross hairs of the Feds. Jack assures her that’s not the case. Are you surprised? We thought not.
Seems the dead lawyer had an in with Ralph’s dead wife. Her brother was involved, business speaking, with the dead lawyer. Seems the brother sold the ranch to Krull and the payments ran out. The brother thinks that Ralph thinks he might have killed Krull. He claims he didn’t. Are you surprised? We thought not.
Dixon and Miss Sanchez find out that a company, Nevada Land Consortium, was interested in Marilyn’s family’s ranch before her death. Ooops!
Dixon goes after his uncle. The uncle claims he is innocent and gets the drop. Are you surprised? We thought not.
The Lamb brothers really aren’t all that good no matter how much the show runners want us to think they are.
Dixon and his uncle talk about Marilyn, the missing piece that is supposed to be at the heart of this story. Do you care? We thought not.
Agent Byrne, it seems, is making inroads with the investigation and with Katherine. He is being made Special Bureau Chief and wants Katherine to join him outside Las Vegas. She sees through the transparent attempt to derail the investigation. And we are sure you did, too!
Dixon wants to investigate what happened to Marilyn and enlists Ralph’s help. Are you surprised? We thought not.
Jack sees a future where he and Mia own a 500 acre ranch. Have you stopped laughing? We thought not. But, this being Vegas, she’s thinking about it.
We find out that Vince got out of Havana just ahead of Castro. He wants to be his own man. The Tumbleweed is that opportunity. That and Lady Heather, oops, Mia’s mother, Lena. They have plenty of heat. And someone tries to blow them up. Doesn’t look good for Lady Heather. Luckily, for whoever planted the bomb, she lives.
Katherine and Ralph think Gainsley double crossed Vince.
Vince, of course, wants revenge.
Jack believes that Gainsley wants Vince dead. He wants Mia out of there. She ain’t leaving cause, well, because it serves the overall plot. What’s that plot? We have no idea. Something about Chicago wanting Vince dead and Vince wanting his own place and all this happens under the watchful eye of Ralph Lamb.
Gainsley goes to Katherine because she has questions. He has no answers. Are you surprised? We thought not.
Katherine thinks she can lower the boom on Gainsley. You think that will happen? We thought not.
Seems Nevada Land Consortium was looking for water rights. There is a straw man at the heart of it. Are you surprised? We thought not.
Jack has competition with the Savoy Entertainment Director who has eyes for Mia. Are you surprised? We thought not.
Katherine is driving home on a dark road and gets run off that road. Are you surprised? We thought not. Will you be surprised that Ralph is upset? We thought not.
Vince discovers he’s been bugged not by the Feds but by Jack and the local sheriff’s office.
Looks like Gainsley put out the hit on Katherine which causes Ralph to attack him. Ralph gets replaced by the state attorney general and relieved of duty.
Gainsley is implicated not only in the accident that has put Katherine in the hospital in critical condition but the death of Ralph’s wife (and he had to turn in his badge). Are you surprised? We thought not.
Ralph goes to Vince to get his help in bringing down Gainsley. Ralph offers up the tapes vis a via Vince and Chicago to bring down Gainsley. Are you surprised? We thought not.
How does this lead to the season finale?
A showdown between Ralph and Vince vs Porter Gainsley.
Who do you think will win?
Yeah, we thought so.
The big question at this point is not how they accomplish that but will the series be renewed.