Matthew O'Brien

KNPR interview



George (“Jazz”) and I just visited KNPR’s studio and were interviewed by host Joe Schoenmann about the tunnels and last month’s deadly flood. Jazz shared his harrowing tale of being swept down the channels and losing his girlfriend Sharon. The interview should air next week. Keep you all updated.
Posted: 7/27/2016 at 3:44:00 PM | Updated: 7/27/2016 at 3:44:00 PM | Add Comments | More Options

Book update



Joseph Watson and I have finished the “final” draft of the fictional memoir/art project we have been working on, off and on, for several years. We think it is now, finally, a very unique and publishable Vegas-related book. We think it is special.

We are more confident than ever about shopping around the book and are in the process of doing so. However, we are not sure we have reached out to the right people. If you know a literary agent, or a publishing house outside of Nevada, who may be interested in this combined art and literature project, please let me know.

Thanks!

Posted: 7/25/2016 at 11:58:00 AM | Updated: 7/25/2016 at 12:21:00 PM | Add Comments | More Options

A poem



A poem I wrote that was partly inspired by a visit to Nelson’s Landing: 

            Nelson’s Landing

Volcanic rock claws
at my feet.
I’m frozen.
Behind me on the bank
a blanket.
On top of it our clothes,
a bottle of wine.
The sky burgundy.
Five fathoms below,
the Colorado River
creeps toward oblivion.

The Spanish found gold here.
Eldorado.
A Civil War deserter
beaten to death
with a shovel
for a yellow stone.
The veins dried up
during WWII.

Nelson, Nevada.
Population 24.

A flood flashed
through the canyon,
carrying them away.
A rusted water tank
and bandaged mines
remain.

Reaching the bend in the river
John Wesley Powell said,
“We are ready to start into
the Great Unknown.”

Atop the cliff
everything comes clear.
The beginning of this relationship
betrays how the last ended.
I can’t see her,
but hear her treading water.
“You scared, old man?”
she says.
I smile,
close my eyes.

And jump.

Posted: 7/25/2016 at 11:58:00 AM | Updated: 7/25/2016 at 12:17:00 PM | Add Comments | More Options

Sun story



At least three homeless people died in the latest flood and hardly anyone is talking about it:

http://lasvegassun.com/news/2016/jul/05/deaths-of-3-found-in-las-vegas-area-washes-were-fl/

Posted: 7/25/2016 at 11:58:00 AM | Updated: 7/25/2016 at 12:11:00 PM | Add Comments | More Options

More death in the drains



A man’s body was recently pulled from a wash near Decatur and Russell. If he was a victim of the flood—and I suspect he was, as that area was hit hard—that would bring the body count to at least three. And the monsoon season is just underway.

Posted: 7/25/2016 at 11:58:00 AM | Updated: 7/25/2016 at 12:05:00 PM | Add Comments | More Options

Flood death update



Jazz, Sharon’s longtime boyfriend, who was also carried away by the flood, is slowly recovering, mentally and physically, in a motel just off the Strip. He says he feels like a motorcyclist who fell off his bike. But his spirits, I could tell, are rising.

Sharon’s family is preparing to have her cremated. They will most likely, her youngest daughter told me, have a viewing here in Las Vegas, before having a memorial service in the L.A. area (where much of her family is from). I will keep you updated on all of this, as best as I can.

Those of you who have contributed to my Shine a Light project, through CrowdRise or otherwise, please know that your contributions have provided shelter for a broken man and will assure that Sharon gets a proper sendoff. Thanks again for your generosity!

Posted: 7/25/2016 at 11:58:00 AM | Updated: 7/25/2016 at 12:03:00 PM | Add Comments | More Options

Flood death



The coroner hasn’t spoken, but the streets have. RIP, Sharon.

Posted: 7/25/2016 at 11:58:00 AM | Updated: 7/25/2016 at 12:01:00 PM | Add Comments | More Options

DTZen.com



It’s a work in progress, but the website for the new Downtown Zen is up. Please give it a look. Cross training on the downtown streets, a memoir of an open-mic night, a photo essay of weekly motel desk clerks, a sketch by Joseph Watson, a downtown-set short story (Prose & Cons)—it’s certainly something to build on.

Also, we are looking for writers, photographers and illustrators who know and get downtown Vegas and urban living. Please let us know if you’re interested in contributing. (Yes, we pay.)

http://dtzen.com/

Posted: 6/7/2016 at 1:51:00 PM | Updated: 6/7/2016 at 1:52:00 PM | Add Comments | More Options

Off the Ranch



I haven’t done much local print journalism in the past few years, but I shook off the cobwebs for Downtown Zen’s Off the Ranch column (which highlights worthy things—in this case the jazz night at The Dispensary—outside of downtown Vegas).

http://downtownzen.wpengine.com/off-the-ranch/

Posted: 6/6/2016 at 3:08:00 PM | Updated: 6/6/2016 at 3:08:00 PM | Add Comments | More Options

Photo essay



A poignant photo essay of weekly motel desk clerks, courtesy of Marshall Scheuttle.

http://downtownzen.wpengine.com/exposure/

Posted: 6/6/2016 at 2:36:00 PM | Updated: 6/6/2016 at 2:46:00 PM | Add Comments | More Options

Downtown Zen



We are still tweaking the homepage, but I can’t resist sharing a few pieces from the new Downtown Zen magazine. Here’s a wonderful story by Chris Molnar, former co-host of The Beat’s open-mic night, with beautiful pics by Danny Mollohan (who shot my book Beneath the Neon).

http://downtownzen.wpengine.com/the-music-makers/

Posted: 6/6/2016 at 2:27:00 PM | Updated: 6/6/2016 at 2:27:00 PM | Add Comments | More Options

Las Vegas squatters



I’m working with a national TV crew on a story about squatters in Las Vegas. We are hoping to interview people who squat in abandoned homes, buildings, underground flood channels, etc. We are also interested in interviewing former squatters. Part of our goal is to get the perspective of the squatters, which has been largely absent from this whole story.

If you have any leads or suggestions, please let me know ASAP. (Filming starts Thursday.) Thanks!

Posted: 6/6/2016 at 1:35:00 PM | Updated: 6/6/2016 at 1:36:00 PM | Add Comments | More Options

CrowdRise retrospective



As some of you may recall, in January I collaborated with CrowdRise to raise money for my Shine a Light community project. The fundraiser, thanks to many of you, was a wild success. Here is a wonderful retrospective of the campaign, replete with backstory, progress reports, photos, videos and updates.

https://medium.com/decent-humans/lost-vegas-f3c94471df79#.oxkt43f2q

Posted: 5/21/2016 at 11:11:00 AM | Updated: 5/21/2016 at 11:15:00 AM | Add Comments | More Options

Fusion video



A touching piece by Bryan Branly of the Fusion network. He’s one of the few journalists who was willing to spend the night in the tunnels.

http://fusion.net/video/300741/mole-people-las-vegas-strip/

Posted: 5/11/2016 at 1:59:00 PM | Updated: 5/11/2016 at 2:01:00 PM | Add Comments | More Options

Rick and Cyndi



Caught up with my good friend Rick yesterday. Rick and I met about five years ago in a storm drain near Eastern and Trop. We worked with a few TV crews, one of which (“Dr. Phil”) helped him and his significant other, Cyndi, get out of the drains. They have been clean and housed for three years and now help others through the recovery process.

Congrats, Rick and Cyndi, on all of your success!    

Posted: 4/23/2016 at 2:57:00 PM | Updated: 4/23/2016 at 2:57:00 PM | Add Comments | More Options

CrowdRise follow-up



You all may recall Billy, who was featured in the CrowdRise video a few months ago. He said he wanted to get a job and reunite with his family. It appears both of those things will happen. Billy’s ex-wife saw the CrowdRise video and recently offered him a place to live, a car and a job in Houston, Texas, Billy’s home state, where many of his family members still live.

Using money from the CrowdRise fundraiser, we took Billy to Walmart (his choice) and bought him clothes, snacks and toiletries. We then put him up in a hotel. The next day, we bought him a one-way bus ticket to Houston (he doesn’t have an ID, so he cannot fly) and saw him off the station.


Thanks again to everyone who donated to the fundraiser! I'll continue to keep you updated on his progress. 

Posted: 4/19/2016 at 11:34:00 PM | Updated: 4/19/2016 at 11:34:00 PM | Add Comments | More Options

Josh Ellis’ podcast



You’d think that my Vegas muse would be a beautiful and broken woman, but, in some ways, it’s Joshua Ellis. He’s featured in Beneath the Neon, co-wrote two stories in My Week at the Blue Angel, and one of the characters in my (in-the-works) fictional memoir is based on him. He’s among the more interesting and brilliant people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting … and now he has a podcast.

Check it out—I found the last seven or so minutes particularly poignant—and, if so inclined, leave him a tip.

http://edgeoftown.org/

Posted: 2/5/2016 at 3:09:00 PM | Updated: 2/5/2016 at 3:10:00 PM | Add Comments | More Options

Thanks!



Thanks to everyone who donated to the CrowdRise campaign! We raised more than $13,000 in the first 24 hours and have currently raised more than $14,500. We put some of that money to use immediately. Visit the CrowdRise website for more info:

https://www.crowdrise.com/86402secondsinvegas/fundraiser/matthewobrien5
Posted: 1/23/2016 at 4:23:00 PM | Updated: 1/23/2016 at 4:23:00 PM | Add Comments | More Options

Fundraiser



We have 24 hours to raise $10,000 for the people who live in the underground flood channels of Vegas. Please donate (if you’re so inclined) and share the link! Thanks!

https://www.crowdrise.com/86402secondsinvegas/fundraiser/matthewobrien5
Posted: 1/20/2016 at 10:27:00 AM | Updated: 1/20/2016 at 10:28:00 AM | Add Comments | More Options

LVA's holiday catalog



The Las Vegas Advisor's holiday catalog always contains a few unique Vegas- and gambling-related gifts:

http://www.lasvegasadvisor.com/i/issues/2015HolidayCatalog.pdf?mc_cid=5947f8a10e&mc_eid=89ef32a543
Posted: 12/8/2015 at 2:09:00 PM | Updated: 12/8/2015 at 2:10:00 PM | Add Comments | More Options

Vegas scams



A German TV crew is interested in exposing Vegas “scams” that target tourists: shell games (which I have posted about previously), timeshare promotions, VIP club passes, long-hauling by cabbies, etc. If you know of any other Vegas scams that should be explored or you have any contacts for the aforementioned scams, please let me know. Thanks!

Posted: 11/10/2015 at 1:59:00 PM | Updated: 11/10/2015 at 1:59:00 PM | Add Comments | More Options

R-J video



A brief look inside one of the most fascinating minds I have encountered:

http://www.reviewjournal.com/life/vegas-stripped-former-tunnel-dweller-video
Posted: 10/24/2015 at 10:35:00 PM | Updated: 10/24/2015 at 10:35:00 PM | Add Comments | More Options

Nightlife story



We know about the obscene amount of money DJs make and the lavish lifestyles of the club owners and operators. What about workers in the Vegas nightlife industry who are struggling and just getting by: aspiring DJs, low-level promoters, bar backs, dancers, etc.? We want to share their stories. If you know anyone who may fit this description, please email me (thesewersofparis@yahoo.com). Thanks!

Posted: 6/12/2015 at 2:39:00 PM | Updated: 6/12/2015 at 2:39:00 PM | Add Comments | More Options

MFA update



As some of you may recall, about four years ago I applied to MFA creative-writing programs. I ended up enrolling at UNLV. Recently, I graduated and the overall experience—teaching, traveling, workshopping my novel, etc.—proved extremely worthwhile. Thanks to everyone who helped me achieve this longtime goal!

The obvious question, and one I have been asked often, is: “What now?” Well, I’d like to land a fulltime job writing/editing or teaching. Of course, quality gigs in those fields are scarce, so I’m planning to teach at CSN and UNLV in the fall and to write. (I’m already scheduled to teach a creative-writing class at CSN; more on this later.)

If there are any updates or changes to this plan, you all will be the first to know. Thanks again for your support! 

Posted: 5/27/2015 at 4:08:00 PM | Updated: 5/27/2015 at 4:08:00 PM | Add Comments | More Options

Children of Las Vegas



Tim is a smart guy and a good writer. Any support you offer this book should be well worth it. 

http://unbound.co.uk/books/children-of-las-vegas

Posted: 5/26/2015 at 12:54:00 PM | Updated: 5/26/2015 at 12:55:00 PM | Add Comments | More Options