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Mr. Las Vegas Has a Bad Knee

A modern classic in the making This collection of essays, often told with the wisdom and perspective of a writer looking back, chronicles in vivid detail the heroes, heels, and cultural spasms of an endlessly fascinating frontier. Smith hits the road with marginalized astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the moon, and dives into the middle of a corporate and existential crisis at Sea World, where friendly mascot Shamu had just drowned its trainer. He tests open water swimming with a Southern California woman who eventually swam to Antarctica. He exposes the huckster behind the worldwide Whaling Wall fraud, tours L.A. with a tireless band of Japanese honeymooners, visits the factory where the world's finest fake rocks are made, and retrieves balls for the seventysomething podiatrist who holds the world record for basketball freethrow shooting.
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About the Author

MARTIN J. SMITH is a journalist, magazine editor and winner of more than 40 newspaper and magazine writing awards. A former senior editor of The Los Angeles Times Magazine and Orange Coast, the magazine of Orange County, he's the author of four critically acclaimed suspense thrillers and three nonfiction books, including The Wild Duck Chase, upon which the 2016 documentary film "The Million Dollar Duck" is based. He lives in Granby, Colorado.


"Ride along with a savvy storyteller as he cruises the American Southwest chronicling the eccentric and the absurd, from dinosaur fabricators to Liberace mourners to mummy moguls, with star turns by Buzz Aldrin and Muhammad Ali. Martin J. Smith is an expert at seeing the big picture in the seemingly trivial. His voice is breezy, conversational and droll. Most winningly, he lets his humanity hang out by truly caring for his characters, and honoring them, however obvious their flaws."-Tom Huth, novelist and author of the memoir Forty Years Stoned: A Journalist's Romance "Martin J. Smith possesses a bloodhound's nose for quirky characters. In his decades as a California journalist, he flushed out and gunsighted flocks of people who, as Joan Didion once wrote, are cursed to follow "some imperceptibly but fatally askew rainbow." But Smith's true gift resides in his empathy-in the gentle way he forces us to see grace and redemption in the lives of people whom most of us would be inclined to mock. This book is revealing and wry but built on a bedrock of love." --Steve Hawk, former editor of Surfer magazine and former executive editor of Sierra magazine "Martin J. Smith is one of the great unsung writers of our generation. He writes with knowing compassion about the absurd, the surreal, and the profane, drawing the reader in with page-turning style and tender wit."-Martin Dugard, co-author, with Bill O'Reilly, of the New York Times bestselling nonfiction Killing series "There are many unforgettable moments in Martin J. Smith's beautifully written, wry collection of essays about quirky strivers in the modern American Southwest. I'll never again look at the upturned tips of airplane wings without thinking of aviation pioneer Burt Rutan toiling away in the Mojave Desert. I'll never watch 'Pulp Fiction' without thinking about the tumultuous life of surf guitarist Dick Dale, who lost his Newport Beach dream house but never gave up. And I will never think of a book tour without picturing the cross-country, do-it-yourself promotional trek that Smith took with a writer buddy and their four young children in rented mini-vans. When his son asks, 'Are we there yet?,' Smith takes it as an existential question. 'No,' he writes, 'I'm not there yet.' I beg to differ."-Columnist Robin Abcarian, Los Angeles Times

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