A Little Bit of Soul, the Super Bowl and A Whole Lotta Love: Finding a New Normal in Las Vegas

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Super Bowl champ Drew Brees submits his father of the year photo

Some of my “job” requirements as an entertainer and entrepreneur are to perform in places like Las Vegas, to eat in restaurants like Carnevino, to listen to guys like Don Piper and to attend shows like Cirque Du Soleli‘s, Love.  I think it’s safe to say that I’ve got one of the best jobs in the world. Well, maybe it’s a tie with this guy.

Mike, Jason and I landed in Vegas on Superbowl Sunday.  Normally, you wouldn’t find me watching football for three hours in a row; but when the underdog team actually has a chance to win and you find out how cool the quarterback is,  count me in.  Even though the game was awesome and the commercials were funny, my favorite part was when Drew Brees held his son up at the end.  Unless you’ve gone to the dark side and become completely cynical and devoid of all human emotions, it was a goosebump-inducing Kodak moment.

Some of you may remember the hit show, Soul Train. “A groove that will make you move real smooth.”  Don Cornelius and the Soul Train Gang used to bring “peace, love, soul” and some great music into America’s living rooms every week.  John Rozz, from Sound Spectrum Entertainment, produced a Soul Train tribute event at the top of the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas to commemorate the show’s 40th anniversary. I was chosen to be one of the performance Emcees.  The event featured classic videos, retro costumes, Text Live, and two of the biggest disco balls I’ve ever seen.   Good times!

Special thanks to my good friends, Beau Kramer, from California, and Ron Brown, from Kansas, for sharing this photo and the encore gallery for today’s entry.

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Marcello performs at the Soul Train 40th Annivesary Tribute

While in Vegas for the show, I attended several business and entertainment-related workshops to indulge MMP’s infinite commitment to continuing education. Topics included; decor lighting design, enhanced customer service techniques for brides and grooms, fresh ideas for Bar Mitzvah interactives, enhanced technology applications for improved social media relationships and advanced production concepts for the new decade. Culinary & hospitality highlights for some of these presentations took place at the Sterling Club, the Capital Grill and Carnevino.

**Editors Note: I didn’t realize that chef Mario Batali’s highly sought-after 7 course “meat tasting” menu at Carnevino was served a bit on the rare side (seared).  The staff was very accommodating and offered those of us who are used to eating our steak at The Outback-…a NY strip that was out-of-this-world in exchange without laughing out loud.  At least, not right in front of us.

p.s. The staff plugs Mario’s iPod directly into the restaurant’s sound system and just lets her rip at random- at a high volume.   Luckily, my group and I were fans of the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin.

The highlight of the week was the presentation given by Don Piper, the author of the best selling book,  90 Minutes in Heaven. Bonnie Traylor’s review of the his book on Amazon will bring you up to speed on the messenger and the message…

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90 Minutes In Heaven, Revell Publishing, 2004

“Written in straight-forward, simple style without a lot of “religionese,” Don Piper has told the story of his devastating accident, his brief time in heaven and his return to a life full of pain and questions. I read it cover-to-cover in two hours and then loaned out my copy. I would recommend this book to just about anybody — to those with questions about faith, questions about prayer, questions about life and death and pain which we all face to some extent.

His descriptions of heaven are human ones – simple, not overly poetic or grandiose, just those of someone who experienced the indescribable and then tried to describe it. I loved the descriptions of the incredible heavenly music and I get the feeling that vast choirs and heightened senses await us there. And despite the incredible experience, Piper found it too personal, too private, and too intimate to share with anyone for over a year after his accident. I’m so glad he found the courage to do so.

I also love the honesty with which he describes his pain and depression and the inevitable questions that we must face when we have close encounters with the Almighty. The God we meet is often not the one we expected, and while we can’t understand why God does what he does, we can no longer deny this God we don’t understand. And while we hold these two things together, our lives are changed and grace is showered down amid the ruins of what we thought was important to us.”

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Cirque Du Soleil's interpretation of the Beatles music library, Love

I found Don’s speaking style to be very similar to his writing style.  He masterfully connects with his audience and effortlessly delivers his messages.  The one sentiment that has stuck with me since that day was, “find a new normal.”  No matter what happens, regardless of the circumstances- find a new normal… embrace it, and move on. I know many of the readers of this blog can appreciate the change in dynamic that occurs within a lifetime.  Not only am I finding a new normal, I’m learning that “normal” is an extremely subjective frame of mind.

I liked how Don never sugar-coated how difficult life can be and never pretended that life was always fair.   Most of all, I loved how Don proved beyond a shadow of a doubt how important it is to have faith in someone and to have something to believe in.

Speaking of love, the icing on the cake of a great week in Vegas was seeing Cirque Du Soleli’s interpretation of the Beatle’s, Love show.   Even if you’re not a big fan of the Beatles and only know their popular recordings like me, you’ll still be amazed, wow’d and blown away by the dancing, the acrobatics and the theatrical spectacle that Cirque shows are famously known for. From the opening number of Get Back to the grand finale mega-mix of Hey Jude, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonley Heart’s Club Band and of course, All You Need Is Love, you couldn’t help but to smile and say to yourself, “life is good.”

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The Fountain Show at the Bellagio

(Honorable mention for the icing on the cake award was sitting outside at the Paris casino’s cafe, Mon Ami Gabi, eating Bananas Foster while watching Bellagio’s Fountain Show across the street. I had the chance to catch up with my good friends, Scott Faver, from Arizona, and Chuck Lehnhard, from Hawaii.)

What a week!

On the flight home, the words of Steve Wynn came to mind… “Las Vegas is sort of like how God would do it if he had money.”

Encore Gallery:

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