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11 Things Las Vegas Has Banned for Some Reason

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Las Vegas lets its visitors get away with a lot. Gambling is legal. Walking down the street drinking a beer is legal. Prostitution is illegal but tolerated. It calls itself Sin City and promises that, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”

Despite this, there are still some things you can’t do in Vegas. Here are eleven odd things the city has banned over the years.

1. HULA-HOOPS

In the middle of downtown Vegas there is a large mall called the Fremont Street Experience. There you can shop for almost anything and give money to the dozens of quirky street performers that are ubiquitous to the site. What you can’t do is Hula-Hoop.

Since many of these independent vendors do not have permits, the city council of Las Vegas has continually tried to crack down on them. But it was the people performing with hula hoops that really irked them. The council claimed that they block pedestrian traffic, thus affecting businesses. As one councilman clarified, "These aren't little Hula-Hoops. They're big Hula-Hoops." (Thankfully, Richard Simmons can continue Hula-Hooping it up elsewhere in Vegas.)

2. MEGAPHONES

The ban on megaphones was also part of the attempt to ban unlicensed vendors at the Fremont Street Experience. It also included jugglers and Tasers, a ban that became necessary when a Gene Simmons impersonator was caught on video tasering a tourist for no apparent reason.

Instead the council wanted to make two small “free expression” areas. If that sounds like a weird compromise, it is — the bans on these street performers keep getting shot down in court. It has been a 17-year battle that the council can’t seem to win since the courts see such bans as restricting freedom of speech. Or as one unlicensed Elvis impersonator affected by the ban said, “They're a whole bunch of jerks.”

In the end, a watered down ban allowed normal sized hula hoops in certain areas, and some megaphone use. You’re still not allowed to Taser people though, no matter who you are dressed up as.

3. HIP-HOP CONCERTS

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In 2005, Sheriff Bill Young called on casinos to ban all hip-hop and gangsta rap artists from performing in Vegas. He cited a number of violent incidents related to such concerts. The Gaming Control Board weighed in, warning the casinos that they would now be held responsible for any “hip-hop-related” violence that occurred on their premises. While the casinos put up a fight publicly, they quietly started canceling concerts featuring rappers, and stopped scheduling future shows as well. Critics of the new policy rightly pointed out that alcohol is responsible for more violence than hip-hop concerts, but no one in Vegas was trying to ban that.

4. LAP DANCES

In 2006, the Nevada Supreme Court decided a case making lap dances in which the patron touched the dancer, or vice versa, illegal. While many strippers argued that they made the majority of their income from lap dancing, and that without any touching they would lose that income, proponents of the ban insisted lap dances were just as enjoyable with no contact. The decision meant that Las Vegas was actually more restrictive about strip club rules than most other states, or as one unnamed stripper put it, "This is considered Sin City, and if Oregon is more sinful than we are, that's weird."

5. PARIS HILTON

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Following her 2010 arrest for cocaine possession, the famous-for-being-famous heiress was banned from both of Las Vegas’s Wynn Hotels by the owner, Steve Wynn. The controversial billionaire, who also banned Lil Wayne from the same hotels, eventually recanted and allowed Paris to party at his hotel clubs again a few months ago.

6. FEEDING THE HOMELESS

That same year, the city council banned feeding homeless people in public parks. This was not limited to someone handing their sandwich to a hungry hobo; it also included mobile food kitchens set up by charities. But the ruling raised the question of just how to determine who was truly homeless and who just looked like they might be. Eventually a federal judge ruled the ban unconstitutional.

7. FEEDING THE PIGEONS

This year a proposed ordinance moved to ban feeding pigeons, which Clark County likes even less than homeless people. Calling them “flying rats” in the official proposal, proponents came forward with stories of pigeons destroying roofs and attacking tourists. While a first offense would just result in a warning, ignoring the ordinance could lead to up to six months in jail.

The seemingly innocuous fight over bird feeding became surprisingly political with one resident saying, “Liberal Democrats, I think they’re a menace, too, but no one’s saying we can’t feed y’all.”

8. VUVUZELAS

When the rest of the world was introduced to the extremely loud and annoying South African noisemaker during the 2010 World Cup, some Las Vegas vendors saw a new retail opportunity. Pretty soon vuvuzelas were showing up at American sports games in large enough numbers to be an issue. The UFC proceeded to ban them at its Vegas events, with the president stating, “This decision was pretty simple. Vuvuzelas make the most horrific sound I've ever heard. I'd rather let [someone] punch me in the face than hear 15,000 people blow on those things.”

9. HOUSE RENTALS

Las Vegas is a 24-hour-a-day party, unless you live off the strip. It turns out residents would prefer that visitors keep their partying out of the suburbs. That’s why the council voted to ban house rentals of less than 30 days. The limit meant month-to-month residential leases would still be an option, but renting a huge house out for a weekend to party with your friends would all but cease.

And officials are serious about this ban. While it was passed in 2010, the ban was only enforced for the first time last week. The homeowner was fined a whopping $29,000.

10. PETS

Just last week the Las Vegas city council approved a year-long ban on pets on the Strip. While people will be allowed to walk their dogs between 5am and noon, the ordinance is intended to keep panhandlers from making dogs stay in one spot for extended periods during hot summer days and to protect tourists from being bitten, as a California man was last year. As one blog noted, while pets may be gone, “party animals [are] still allowed.”

11. BATH SALTS

This year Las Vegas’s Pharmacy Board joined a growing list of cities and states banning the use of some bath salts. These salts, while officially for bathing, have narcotic-like side effects of euphoria when they are ingested, injected, snorted, or smoked. They also have the downside of often landing users in the emergency room with heart palpitations or in the midst of psychotic episodes. Perhaps fittingly, one of the names the salts are sold under is “Charley Sheene.”

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10 Memorable Neil deGrasse Tyson Quotes
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Neil deGrasse Tyson is America's preeminent badass astrophysicist. He's a passionate advocate for science, NASA, and education. He's also well-known for a little incident involving Pluto. And the man holds nearly 20 honorary doctorates (in addition to his real one). In honor of his 59th birthday, here are 10 of our favorite Neil deGrasse Tyson quotes.

1. ON SCIENCE

"The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it."
—From Real Time with Bill Maher.

2. ON NASA FUNDING

"As a fraction of your tax dollar today, what is the total cost of all spaceborne telescopes, planetary probes, the rovers on Mars, the International Space Station, the space shuttle, telescopes yet to orbit, and missions yet to fly?' Answer: one-half of one percent of each tax dollar. Half a penny. I’d prefer it were more: perhaps two cents on the dollar. Even during the storied Apollo era, peak NASA spending amounted to little more than four cents on the tax dollar." 
—From Space Chronicles

3. ON GOD AND HURRICANES

"Once upon a time, people identified the god Neptune as the source of storms at sea. Today we call these storms hurricanes ... The only people who still call hurricanes acts of God are the people who write insurance forms."
—From Death by Black Hole

4. ON THE BENEFITS OF TECHNOLOGY INVENTED FOR USE IN SPACE

"Countless women are alive today because of ideas stimulated by a design flaw in the Hubble Space Telescope." (Editor's note: technology used to repair the Hubble Space Telescope's optical problems led to improved technology for breast cancer detection.)
—From Space Chronicles

5. ON THE DEMOTION OF PLUTO FROM PLANET STATUS 

PBS

"I knew Pluto was popular among elementary schoolkids, but I had no idea they would mobilize into a 'Save Pluto' campaign. I now have a drawer full of hate letters from hundreds of elementary schoolchildren (with supportive cover letters from their science teachers) pleading with me to reverse my stance on Pluto. The file includes a photograph of the entire third grade of a school posing on their front steps and holding up a banner proclaiming, 'Dr. Tyson—Pluto is a Planet!'"
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit

6. ON JAMES CAMERON'S TITANIC

"In [Titanic], the stars above the ship bear no correspondence to any constellations in a real sky. Worse yet, while the heroine bobs ... we are treated to her view of this Hollywood sky—one where the stars on the right half of the scene trace the mirror image of the stars in the left half. How lazy can you get?"
—From Death by Black Hole

7. ON DEATH BY ASTEROID

"On Friday the 13th, April 2029, an asteroid large enough to fill the Rose Bowl as though it were an egg cup will fly so close to Earth that it will dip below the altitude of our communication satellites. We did not name this asteroid Bambi. Instead, we named it Apophis, after the Egyptian god of darkness and death."
—From Space Chronicles

8. ON THE MOTIVATIONS BEHIND AMERICA'S MOONSHOT

"[L]et us not fool ourselves into thinking we went to the Moon because we are pioneers, or discoverers, or adventurers. We went to the Moon because it was the militaristically expedient thing to do."
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit

9. ON INTELLIGENT LIFE (OR THE LACK THEREOF)

Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/n/neildegras615117.html
Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/n/neildegras615117.html

"Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life."

10. PRACTICAL ADVICE IN THE EVENT OF ALIEN CONTACT 

A still from Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Universal Studios
"[I]f an alien lands on your front lawn and extends an appendage as a gesture of greeting, before you get friendly, toss it an eightball. If the appendage explodes, then the alien was probably made of antimatter. If not, then you can proceed to take it to your leader."
—From Death by Black Hole
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40 Fun Facts About Sesame Street
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Now in its 47th season, Sesame Street is one of television's most iconic programs—and it's not just for kids. We're big fans of the Street, and to prove it, here are some of our favorite Sesame facts from previous stories and our Amazing Fact Generator.

Sesame Workshop

1. Oscar the Grouch used to be orange. Jim Henson decided to make him green before season two.

2. How did Oscar explain the color change? He said he went on vacation to the very damp Swamp Mushy Muddy and turned green overnight.

3. During a 2004 episode, Cookie Monster said that before he started eating cookies, his name was Sid.

4. In 1980, C-3PO and R2-D2 visited Sesame Street. They played games, sang songs, and R2-D2 fell in love with a fire hydrant.

5. Mr. Snuffleupagus has a first name—Aloysius

6. Ralph Nader stopped by in 1988 and sang "a consumer advocate is a person in your neighborhood."

7. Caroll Spinney said he based Oscar's voice on a cab driver from the Bronx who brought him to the audition.

8. In 1970, Ernie reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 with the timeless hit "Rubber Duckie."

9. One of Count von Count's lady friends is Countess von Backwards, who's also obsessed with counting but likes to do it backwards.

10. Sesame Street made its Afghanistan debut in 2011 with Baghch-e-Simsim (Sesame Garden). Big Bird, Grover and Elmo are involved.

11. According to Muppet Wiki, Oscar the Grouch and Count von Count were minimized on Baghch-e-Simsim "due to cultural taboos against trash and vampirism."

12. Before Giancarlo Esposito was Breaking Bad's super intense Gus Fring, he played Big Bird's camp counselor Mickey in 1982.

13. Thankfully, those episodes are available on YouTube.

14. How big is Big Bird? 8'2". (Pictured with First Lady Pat Nixon.)

15. In 2002, the South African version (Takalani Sesame) added an HIV-positive Muppet named Kami.

16. Six Republicans on the House Commerce Committee wrote a letter to PBS president Pat Mitchell warning that Kami was not appropriate for American children, and reminded Mitchell that their committee controlled PBS' funding.

17. Sesame Street's resident game show host Guy Smiley was using a pseudonym. His real name was Bernie Liederkrantz.

18. Bert and Ernie have been getting questioned about their sexuality for years. Ernie himself, as performed by Steve Whitmere, has weighed in: “All that stuff about me and Bert? It’s not true. We’re both very happy, but we’re not gay,”

19. A few years later, Bert (as performed by Eric Jacobson) answered the same question by saying, “No, no. In fact, sometimes we are not even friends; he can be a pain in the neck.”

20. In the first season, both Superman and Batman appeared in short cartoons produced by Filmation. In one clip, Batman told Bert and Ernie to stop arguing and take turns choosing what’s on TV.

21. In another segment, Superman battled a giant chimp.

22. Telly was originally "Television Monster," a TV-obsessed Muppet whose eyes whirled around as he watched.

23. According to Sesame Workshop, Elmo is the only non-human to testify before Congress.

24. He lobbied for more funding for music education, so that "when Elmo goes to school, there will be the instruments to play."

25. In the early 1990s, soon after Jim Henson’s passing, a rumor circulated that Ernie would be killed off in order to teach children about death, as they'd done with Mr. Hooper.

26. According to Snopes, the rumor may have spread thanks to New Hampshire college student, Michael Tabor, who convinced his graduating class to wear “Save Ernie” beanies and sign a petition to persuade Sesame Workshop to let Ernie live.

27. By the time Tabor was corrected, the newspapers had already picked up the story.

28. Sesame Street’s Executive Producer Carol-Lynn Parente joined Sesame Workshop as a production assistant and has worked her way to the top.

29. Originally, Count von Count was more sinister. He could hypnotize and stun people.

30. According to Sesame Workshop, all Sesame Street's main Muppets have four fingers except Cookie Monster, who has five.

31. The episode with Mr. Hooper's funeral aired on Thanksgiving Day in 1983. That date was chosen because families were more likely to be together at that time, in case kids had questions or needed emotional support.

32. Mr. Hooper’s first name was Harold.

33. Big Bird sang "Bein' Green" at Jim Henson's memorial service.

34. As Chris Higgins put it, the performance was "devastating."

35. Oscar's Israeli counterpart is Moishe Oofnik, whose last name means “grouch” in Hebrew.

36. Nigeria's version of Cookie Monster eats yams. His catchphrase: "ME WANT YAM!"

37. Sesame's Roosevelt Franklin ran a school, where he spoke in scat and taught about Africa. Some parents hated him, so in 1975 he got the boot, only to inspire Gob Bluth’s racist puppet Franklin on Arrested Development 28 years later.

38. Our good friend and contributor Eddie Deezen was the voice of Donnie Dodo in the 1985 classic Follow That Bird.

39. Cookie Monster evolved from The Wheel-Stealer—a snack-pilfering puppet Jim Henson created to promote Wheels, Crowns and Flutes in the 1960s.

40. This puppet later was seen eating a computer in an IBM training film and on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Thanks to Stacy Conradt, Joe Hennes, Drew Toal, and Chris Higgins for their previous Sesame coverage!

An earlier version of this article appeared in 2012.

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