Desert Companion

Like It’s 1989

Andrew KiralyMy strongest memory of 1989 is from my Las Vegas High School graduation ceremony. There’s actually a photo of the very moment: A mortarboard-topped me accepting my diploma from some Important Education Personage with a standard grip ’n’ grin.

But I’m not grinning. I’ve got this worried, gulpy, close-mouthed crimp of a smile on my face. Because it was at that very moment the paralyzing thought struck: What the hellz am I gonna do with the rest of my life? I hadn’t exactly prepared for The Future. I’d spent most of high school skateboarding in drainage ditches and printing ratty skate and punk ’zines on the down-low at whatever copy shop would hire me. (Pour one out for graveyard shift at Kinko’s.) 1989 was the pivotal year I answered that big life question with a provisional but principled resolve to avoid real work for as long as possible — in other words, to become a writer. (Now, in this sentence, imagine an epic, quantum music montage that bridges 30 years and tells the story of how I fell in love with telling stories about Las Vegas and how being editor of Desert Companion reflects the dizzying and improbable zenith of that lifelong romance.)

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Thirty years later feels like a good time to look back at this seminal year in Las Vegas history. 1989 ushered in the megaresort era; it saw the chapter-ending deaths of several Vegas titans who’d built gaming dynasties and community institutions. And while The Killers were still in middle school, Vegas would birth a platinum-selling breakout hard rock band named Slaughter. If you’re a longtime local, enjoy the trip down memory lane. If you’re a relative newcomer, you’re sure to learn something new about the recent past that’s shaped our restless city in so many ways — except, thankfully, for our hair.

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