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Under Cover of Darkness, Bourne 5 Car Chase Revs Up the Las Vegas Strip

Jason Bourne may have tried to stay incognito during his first few weeks in Las Vegas, but he’s out in the open now.

The new Bourne movie, cleverly titled “Jason Bourne,” starring Matt Damon and Tommy Lee Jones has begun filming one of its trademark car chases on The Strip.

Bourne 5

Witness 17,350 pounds of Jason Bourne nemesis. The chase is on!

We’ve been sharing Bourne scoops since the production arrived, and now we’ve had our first legit Jason Bourne encounter.

Filming of Bourne 5 is taking place in the driveway of Aria Las Vegas (Jan. 18-19, 2016). Thanks to one of our earlier reports, picked up by local news stations, lots of fans braved chilly weather to see Bourne in action.

Fans lined the pedestrian bridges overlooking the scene.

Bourne 5

Some of the best views of the Bourne 5 filming are on The Strip’s pedestrian bridges. Please keep your hand on your wallet. Just saying.

Seeing the action being shot, pieces of the Bourne 5 puzzle are falling into place.

Earlier scenes took place inside Aria at a made-up tech convention, Exocon 2016. At the conference, speakers include CIA Director Robert Dewey (played by Tommy Lee Jones) and the founder of a company called Deep Dream, Aaron Kalloor (played by Riz Ahmed).

Accounts inside the shoot say someone is assassinated at the conference, and since it’s not Matt Damon’s character, and it’s probably not Tommy Lee Jones’ character, we’re betting it’s Riz Ahmed’s.

As happens in Bourne movies, a chase ensues.

Matt Damon Bourne 5

That’s Matt Damon in the passenger seat. Surreal.

Police and rescue units respond to the emergency, and Bourne takes off after a SWAT vehicle. That’s the scene we saw being filmed on Jan. 18, 2016, and it was awesome. And repetitive. But awesome.

The crew did many, many takes with the SWAT truck and Bourne’s Dodge Charger zipping down the Aria driveway.

Dozens of cars lined the entrance, all manned by extras. For at least six hours. Sitting in their cars. Movie making is so glamorous!

Bourne 5

Hope you have some good tunes because you’re going to be here awhile.

At one point, there was a potentially dangerous mishap between the Charger and the SWAT vehicle. The SWAT vehicle stopped short and changed lanes, and the Charger narrowly missed slamming into the back of the SWAT van. Here’s video of the tense moment, uneventful take first.

There were no injuries, other than to the bumper of the Charger, and the shoot continued into the wee hours.

All the chase scenes are being filmed at night, including upcoming sequences in the center of the Strip and at Riviera.

Here’s a list of the best places to watch the Bourne 5 chase on the Las Vegas Strip.

The chase sequence is expected to end dramatically at the Riviera. The exterior of the building has been lit for several days in preparation for the sequence’s climax.

The gutted casino’s interior will be dressed with slot machines and table games, and we hear at least one vehicle will crash into the casino. Which sounds so cool, our limited vocabulary isn’t adequate to describe how excited we are.

So, back at Aria, another sequence was being readied, a collision between a limo and another SWAT van. (It was an exact duplicate, so only one will appear onscreen.)

The production had three limos ready to go for three takes of the collision.

Bourne 5

A movie stunt is sometimes called a “gag.” “Gag” is also a term for what happens when you see the price of gummi bears at a movie theater.

The expectation was that Matt Damon wouldn’t be around for the filming of these action sequences, as those are typically done by a film’s “second unit.” But at 2:30 a.m., the “Jason Bourne” star jumped into the Charger and did a test run down the ramp with his stunt driver.

Matt Damon Bourne 5

Matt Flipping Damon. Probably not his actual middle name.

Shortly thereafter, Damon did the drive on his own. Not the most dangerous stunt, but it was pretty thrilling seeing Jason Bourne peeling out in pursuit of the bad guys.

While there are long stretches of not-a-whole-lot on movie sets, it was a blast being in such close proximity to what is likely to be a huge hit, especially for Bourne fans (this blog is that, in case that wasn’t obvious).

We’ve got more Bourne 5 scoop than most humans can handle, including spoilers and pics inside Aria and a security breach from an earlier location, the Greyhound depot downtown.

Enjoy more photos from the set of “Jason Bourne” in Las Vegas, and if you capture pics or video of the Bourne 5 production in Las Vegas, send them our way!

Bourne 5 in Las Vegas

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Lucky Cat Exhibit at Cosmopolitan Las Vegas is Both Art and Commerce

The Cosmopolitan’s pop-up space has housed a furniture store called Droog, a wedding chapel and a Liberace exhibit. Now, it’s home to a nine-foot, chrome-finished maneki-neko (“beckoning cat”), the Japanese symbol said to bring good fortune and often seen at the entrance to business establishments like Asian restaurants.

Lucky cat Cosmopolitan

The fact you read this Las Vegas blog already makes you one lucky cat.

The entire 2,500-square-foot space, prime Strip-accessible real estate, is devoted to the display, so it’s not surprising the lucky cat is doing double duty as a casino promotion, much like the free spin slot machines outside some Las Vegas casinos.

Guests 21 and older can touch the lucky cat’s paw to receive a Cosmopolitan freebie, or at least a fortune.

The fortunes won’t necessarily rock your world, but it’s a fun way to spend a few (free) minutes on The Strip, and during our visit there was a constant line for a photo op with the kitty, so it’s clearly winning over Las Vegas visitors.

Las Vegas lucky cat

Centaurs are a metaphor for the conflict between the lower appetites and civilized behavior. Fair warning: In Las Vegas, we tend to lean toward the lower appetites.

Among the fortune cards there are some pretty sweet casino giveaways, too.

Guests can win any of the following: Free one-night stay at Cosmo, free slot play ($10 or $25), two tickets to a Cosmo concert, 2-for-1 at Wicked Spoon buffet, free cocktail at Jaleo, free cocktail at China Poblano, free cocktail in the casino, free glass of champagne at Comme Ça, free cocktail at Rose.Rabbit.Lie., free coffee at Va Bene, free admission and skate rental at the Cosmo’s seasonal ice rink, free entry for two to Marquee Nightclub, free VIP bottle service at Marquee Nightclub, Marquee Nightclub gift bag, free foot massage at the Sahra Spa & Hammam, whatever that might actually be.

Cosmopolitan lucky cat

“High five” in Japanese is “go-daka.”

Oh, and our two favorite prizes? Guests might also win a “social media shout-out” or their name in lights on the ticker outside the Cosmo.

Here’s a link to all the small print of Cosmo’s lucky cat giveaway. Below is some of the large print.

Lucky cat at Cosmopolitan

This is the biggest sign in the place, so it’s likely to be enforced.

As a Las Vegas blog, we’re always fascinated by lucky talismans. Or possibly talismen. Or talispersons. Whatever. The lucky cat at Cosmo gives us an opportunity to delve further into the world of the maneki-neko, and here’s what we turned up.

The maneki-neko dates back to the 1870s, during the Meiji era in Japan.

In English, maneki-neko is also known as welcoming cat, money cat, happy cat or fortune cat.

Many people mistakenly believe the lucky cat is of Chinese origin, but as we’ve said, it’s Japanese. The cat depicted in maneki-neko figurines is a calico Japanese Bobtail.

While the Cosmo’s fiberglass lucky cat is chrome-finished, they most often come in white, black, gold and red. Black cats, by the way, are traditionally considered lucky in Japan, said to ward off evil or cure illness in children. You can just imagine how confusing this is for people who think children are evil.

Lucky cat at Cosmo

Maneki-neko at the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas, sponsored by Windex, we presume.

Lucky cats are often seen waving (as below). Westerners sometimes incorrectly think the lucky cat is waving goodbye, when actually it’s beckoning. That’s due to the differences in body language between Westerners and the Japanese. The Japanese beckon by holding up the hand, palm out, then repeatedly fold their fingers down and back up.

The maneki-neko made for export to America and other countries beckons by showing the back of its hand. Cats made for Japanese consumption beckon by showing the palm, as is customary among the Japanese.

Lucky cats beckoning

So much good fortune. Don’t say we never gave you anything.

About 70% of lucky cats sold have both paws raised (representing good fortune and money), 20% have the right paw raised (good fortune) and 10% have the left paw raised (money).

The lucky cat at Cosmopolitan Las Vegas is pretty streamlined, but the ones you see in businesses and homes often carry “koban,” or gold coins.

Some lucky cats wear a collar with a bell, inspired by the custom of affluent Japanese women adorning their cats with red collars made of hichirimen, a red flower. Small bells were attached to the collar to help the owners keep track of their pets.

Lucky cats sometimes have characters on their legs, often a Chinese phrase that translates as “the source of money spreads widely.” One of the most common symbols is the Japanese “fuku” character, which means “good fortune” or “happiness.”

Lucky cat at Cosmo

Casino chips are made from the same kind of clay used to make kitty litter. Ah, the circularity of the universe.

There’s a whole realm of lucky cat lore and superstitions, especially related to the origin of the maneki-neko. One is a Japanese superstition that says when a cat washes its face and paws, company’s coming.

Many think the custom of the lucky cat got its start from a Chinese proverb, “If a cat washes its face, it will rain.”

There’s a sexy reason the lucky cat is so popular, according to some sources. During the Meiji Period in Japan, brothels had a “good-luck shelf” where lucky charms were displayed in the shape of the male sexual organ. In 1872, the Meiji government was trying to clean up its image, so the phallic charms were banned. Maneki-neko statues filled the void, and some claim the cats represent women of ill repute beckoning to potential customers. Read more.

Lucky cat at Cosmopolitan

We’re fairly sure we could have skipped this entire blog post by just sharing this up front. So sue us.

So, now you know!

The lucky cat exhibit at Cosmopolitan Las Vegas is free and open to the public, 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Find out more on the official Cosmopolitan site.

Always interesting to see what the Cosmo might be up to next.

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Our Most Useful Las Vegas Tip, Ever

We’re full of it. Las Vegas information, that is. But there’s one tidbit we consider the most useful of them all.

Las Vegas visitors and locals alike have wasted untold hours doing one thing: Searching for their cars. Casino parking lots are vast and labyrinthine, and locating your car after a day, or days, of revelry can be a challenge.

So, here’s what you do. Valet!

Actually, we almost never valet park. Here’s how we solve the parking issue. Every single time we park in a self-park garage in Las Vegas, we take a photo of the floor number with our smartphone. Then, when you emerge from your Las Vegas stupor, you’ll be able to find your wheels without wandering helplessly around a parking structure larger than most Third World countries.

parking

This simple exercise has helped us avoid wasting time, gray hair and high blood pressure.

As you might suspect, there are smartphone apps which claim to help find your car, but they tend to only work if you’ve parked in a one-level lot, which almost never happens in Las Vegas.

So, snap a pic and rest easy in the knowledge you won’t have to beg a security guard for a drive-around or become the subject of a sitcom someday.

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15 Skull-Jarring Moments From the Grand Bazaar Shops at Bally’s News Release

After at least a year of everyone knowing about the planned Grand Bazaar Shops mall at Bally’s Las Vegas, Caesars Entertainment has finally made it official. In a news release resplendent with adjectives and flights of fancy, it’s been announced the Grand Bazaar Shops will open in the fall of 2014.

We previously wrote about the potential retinal hemorrhaging likely to ensue.

Grand Bazaar Shops Las Vegas

We are not kidding.

Since there’s no way to improve upon the official news release, we’re just going to list 10 memorable moments that should help you immerse yourself in the game-changing Grand Bazaar Shops experience.

1. “Las Vegas is all about experiences.”

Isn’t it, though? We’re off to an incredible start!

2. “And what the Vegas Strip has long needed is a major retail destination which truly redefines the shopping experience.”

This is exactly, precisely what the Vegas Strip has needed. From what we can tell, though, the Grand Bazaar Shops are likely to redefine the Las Vegas shopping experience as a “collection of kiosks selling sunglasses and dresses you can wear 100 ways.”

3. “Grand Bazaar Shops is an innovative, uniquely merchandised venue that will give Las Vegas its first truly urban shopping scene.”

We trust “uniquely merchandised” means “having people talk about how mind-numbingly ugly it is.”

4. “Grand Bazaar Shops is an outdoor shopping mecca that resonates with the city’s reputation for exciting, immersive experiences.”

This sentence is why we keep our computer keyboard covered in plastic sheeting, in case our head should spontaneously explode.

Grand Bazaar Shops

The technical name for what you’re feeling is “gastroesophageal reflux.”

5. “Along with a breadth of food, dining and bar venues, Grand Bazaar Shops blends the old and the new like a fine spice mix.”

We’re going to need thicker plastic sheets.

6. Helping redefine the iconic Las Vegas skyline with a new, must-see experience will be a spectacular Swarovski Crystal Starburst towering over the brand’s store, with a midnight spectacle of lights and music that will make every night feel like New Year’s Eve at the heart of the Las Vegas Strip.”

One New Year’s Eve on The Strip a year is plenty, thanks.

7. “With Grand Bazaar Shops, we aim to marry recent developments in retail, which have seen smaller, more unique and interactive stores in a variety of shopping environments.”

Translation: Kiosks with smartphone cases.

8. “Grand Bazaar Shops will be a new, visually distinctive feature of the Strip, its aesthetically beautiful mosaic-patterned rooftops designed to resemble the colorful, undulating roofs of classic bazaars, inspired by those in Europe and worldwide.”

Some days, the comedy gods just smile upon us.

9. The project is being built at the busiest intersection in the city – Las Vegas Boulevard and Flamingo Road, across from the Bellagio fountains.

And trust us, the folks at the Bellagio are super excited to see this view when they awake each day on their dream vacation.

Grand Bazaar Shops

“Honey, let’s skip the dancing fountains and Conservatory. I want to be photographed riding a magic carpet in front of a green screen!”

10. “We believe that this ideal location, combined with a highly compelling concept and a strong group of tenants, puts us in a position to create compelling value for our investors.”

The secret to any successful endeavor is, as you know, a commitment to serving the needs of your customers. Wait, investors. Serving the needs of your investors. We always get those mixed up.

11. “Its unparalleled location will offer our tenants outstanding sales and brand extension opportunities and its collection of unique retail, food and beverage concepts will make Grand Bazaar Shops one of the most attractive new destinations in Las Vegas.”

See #10, and please define “attractive.”

12. “Many tenants are the first of their kind in Las Vegas, the United States or worldwide.”

Define “first.”

13. “At approximately 23,000-square-feet, more than a third of the project is dedicated to restaurant and bar concepts as well as food stores, such as five separate shops from American chef Sam Marvin offering artisanal cupcakes, ice cream, macaroons, meats and spices.

Grand Bazaar tee

Now, this we would buy.

14. “As a salute to the rich heritage and unique entrepreneurial spirit that will be brilliantly highlighted at Grand Bazaar Shops of Las Vegas, Swarovski is excited to unleash the brilliance of its crystal to light the skies above this marketplace of tomorrow.”

Is it too late to invest in companies that make plastic sheeting? Seriously.

15. “Grand Bazaar Shops at Bally’s Las Vegas will offer an engaging new experience, at the heart of the Las Vegas Strip, for the myriad of visitors interested in unique shopping and dining concepts.”

Oh, it’s unique all right! Then again, every oil spill is unique, too.

If you have a grudge against your eyes, learn more about the Grand Bazaar Shops at Bally’s Las Vegas. And please join us in asking why the folks behind the Grand Bazaar Shops couldn’t be the same geniuses behind the SkyVue observation wheel.

Will be be stopping by the Grand Bazaar Shops at Bally’s for photos when it opens? You bet your artisanal cupcakes.

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Big Changes Coming to Tropicana Las Vegas, Shoppingwise

It seems like only yesterday (December 2011) the Tropicana Las Vegas was announcing the completion of a $180 million renovation, a revamp that included new rooms, a remodeled casino, additional convention space and a fancy new pool complex.

Now, the Tropicana, which opened in 1957, has announced another massive expansion. The hotel will invest $100 million in The Shops at Tropicana, three levels and 311,000-square-feet of shopping, dining and, yes, even more shopping.

Tropicana hotel

We’ve never seen a Las Vegas hotel facelift we didn’t like. Other than The Quad’s, of course.

Note: The new project is actually called “The Shops at The New Tropicana Las Vegas,” but we steadfastly refuse to call it the “new Tropicana,” because of the whole “opened in 1957” thing. We’re sticklers like that.

The classic Tropicana is going to have a whole new look by the time The Shops at Tropicana are done.

Construction of the Tropicana is expected to begin in 2014, with The Shops at Tropicana opening by the end of 2015.

The new shopping complex will have about 30 stores and a South Beach architectural theme. We think that’s in Florida somewhere.

Shops at Tropicana

Because you can never have too many pharmacies.

You can see a lot more details about the project on the site of a retail-leasing firm called RKF.

Here’s a cool little break-down of the various levels of the new Tropicana shopping complex.

The Shops at Tropicana

This blog is not responsible for any eye strain caused by trying to read that tiny print. Bottom line: A lot of retail, some dining and a little outdoor terrace.

The Shops at Tropicana joins a long, long list of upcoming retail projects on the Las Vegas Strip.

The “Sirens of TI” show recently closed to make way for a shopping mall, Caesars Entertainment is building The Linq retail and dining district between Flamingo and The Quad, and MGM Resorts will open The Park, a shopping promenade in front of Monte Carlo and New York-New York.

Oh, and there are even plans for an upscale shopping mall at Sin City’s McCarran Airport. Your eye-rolling is duly noted.

As we’ve suggested before, maybe it’s time to stop calling it “The Strip,” and maybe it should be called “The Strip Mall.” Then again, it’s new, and we love us some Las Vegas newness.

Update: Since the announcement of this retail expansion at Tropicana, the hotel has been sold to Penn National Gaming. That means all expansion plans are on hold, although the new ownership has expressed the possibility it may still happen.

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