Preparing to shoot a few segments of Big Jon in 5 for BEER2WHISKEY in our upstairs studio at Barley's Taproom in downtown Greenville. That's owner Josh Beebe preparing for his closeup.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

CES: Too Bad It's in Las Vegas

I'm not the kind of guy who shrinks from breaking some new ground. Having said that, however, you'd have to threaten my life to get me to eat hummus or sushi. Nope. If I'm going to each chips and something, that something will be salsa or queso. Hummus? It doesn't even sound good. And, if I'm going to eat beans, I don't want them mushed up into some sort of spread. I'd like them baked, please. Toss in some BBQ sauce and brown sugar while you're at it. And, don't even get me started on sushi and its many iterations.

I did drift into uncharted waters this week when Nissan invited me to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. It's the annual clearinghouse for all the next-big things in technology. It was the first time Nissan participated as an exhibitor and Fiat/Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn was the keynote speaker. Nissan brought in media from around the world for the event. Benefiting from a bit of serendipity, I made the cut. Never having attended before, I was really stoked about the experience.

I'm not a fan of Las Vegas. I don't gamble. I don't like crowds. And everywhere you try to go, expect a two-mile hike. This is true even moving around inside the hotels. I'm not a health nut, but I do work out pretty much every day I'm home. I do at least 40 minutes of cardio during these workouts. Despite my advanced years, I'm not in bad shape, but, hoist a backpack stuffed with 25 lbs of video and camera gear onto your shoulder, and that daily 40 minutes of cardio is woefully deficient.

Not only did I probably clock five miles or so of walking inside my hotel during my three-night stay, going from the SLS hotel to the convention center added several more miles. Nissan armed each of us with a two-day Metro Rail pass. The SLS and convention center are separated by a single stop. But even catching the train requires repeated climbing up and down and up and down flights of stairs. Then there is the show floor. The Las Vegas Convention Center is a huge complex that seems to have been designed to defy getting from one hall to the next. In fact, Vegas routes its pedestrian traffic over, around, up and down apparently in a ridiculous attempt to drive people into taxicabs. You can stand on one corner and see the opposite corner 150 feet away, but, thanks to barricades erected along most streets, you must walk four blocks out of your way to cross the street. It's maddening. 

Chrysler unveiled its latest high-tech concept.
After finally locating the area in the convention center where the half-dozen-or-so carmakers were exhibiting, I didn't stray until I channeled my Lewis and Clark, searching and walking, walking and searching to find my way out of the maze to head back to the train. Many of the exhibits aren't even in the convention center. They are scattered in several other venues around the city. Did I visit any of these? Hell, no.

A client wanted several stories from the event. Before I had even left the SLS for the first show presentation, my editor reached out to ask if I could write three of those stories and file them by 10 a.m. East Coast time the next morning. Um, well, probably not. I hadn't even hit the show floor. I had things mapped out throughout the day I wanted to do and see. I had to be at the airport for my return flight by 8:30 a.m. East Coast time that next day. We agreed two were doable. To accomplish that, though, I needed to write one of them that afternoon. I cut my time on the show floor short and was back in my hotel room writing by 2:00.

I was up at 2:30 the next morning writing the second story. I finished and filed it, packed, showered, and made my 5:30 shuttle to the airport.

When you don't much care for Vegas, it doesn't take long to grow very weary of it. Nissan's hospitality suite was on the opposite side of the casino from the tower housing my room. Every trip to it required my walking through the dinging and clanging of the slots. Thankfully, the SLS casino is a ghost town. At any time while I was there, I doubt there were ever more than 75 gamblers scattered throughout the sprawling game floor. That kept the smoke to a minimum. I can't express how odd it is to see people smoking in all the hotel's public spaces. Only the hotel restaurants seemed to escape the non-stop puffing.

Although I was excited to attend the show for the first time, I was glad to get the hell out of there. I didn't really get to experience much of the show. I guess I'll just have to settle for getting a week's worth of cardio in two days.

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