About Me

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Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
"No, really!"

My Favorite Bit of Paper Cup Philosophy

The Way I See It #76

The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating - in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.

Monday, August 8, 2011

He Was a Friend of Mine

Rudy in his role in Casino, 1995.
Today I went to my first day back at work. I steeled myself not to look for his familiar car in the parking lot. It wasn't going to be there. Since he died a month ago, all the hard, public sobbing had already been exhausted. His friend, George, now one of the men I work for and who is mentioned in the obituary below, seemed a little quiet to me. A little empty. David and I had already shared our pain on the telephone. Care had been taken to ensure I would not feel like I was following behind anyone in anyway. That was very generous and I appreciated it. "Do this the way you do it, Leslie. It doesn't matter how it was done before. We want what you bring."

The graceful spirit of Rudy attracted my attention subtly in the place so familiar to me. Here and there, I found notes in his distinctive hand. I could imagine him writing down the dinner orders of his favorite customers. There were some crib sheets in the files, notes to himself how to execute certain operations on the computer. But it was the notes about the damned chicken that reminded me I don't have the same grace that Rudy had. George caters lunch on Fridays for quite a large group of workers, with enough for most to take home leftovers. Sometimes lunch consists of mountains of pizza or pounds of Memphis barbecue. I've seen shovels full of Panda Express served, Rudy having taken my personal request privately and serving it on a real (not paper or styrofoam) plate. But - oh - the chicken lunch. You see, I can maybe come close some Friday if I design the lunch to be chicken. Because Rudy left a trail. I know where to call to place the order. 75 pieces, no wings. Potato and macaroni salad. OK, I can replicate that. The napkins won't be as nicely set out and I'm kind of lax about making sure to get those salads into glass bowls rather than the catering dishes. But I can bring in the same chicken and try to lend some semblance of fellowship shared over a meal. And I can try to be as good to other human beings as was Rudy.

I can see some emails and blog post comments coming in - very kindly - asking about my first day back at work. It was wonderful, exhausting, poignant. I'm already writing about it. But this one will first stand alone in Rudy's memory. "Les, you look good!" I thank my readers for their indulgence.

~ ~ ~

Rudy Guerrero 


icon Rudy Guerrero, devoted husband and father and a true Las Vegas legend in his own right, died July 7, 2011. He was 80. He held the title of Maitred'Hotel at The Riviera Hotel and Casino showroom for nearly 40 years before retiring. He was born in Los Angeles, Sept. 9, 1930, to Jenny and Pablo Guerrero. He was one of four children. His father was a chef and head waiter at the famous Ambassador Hotel (where Bobby Kennedy was assassinated). This would later influence Rudy's career choice. As a young man, Rudy served in the U.S. Army during World War II. He served in the First Calvary, F-Troop and received commendations for his services overseas and in combat. This was something he was very proud of. He was a true American patriot. In 1949, he went to work at the Ambassador Hotel under the tutelage of his father where Rudy worked his way from bus boy to captain of the showroom. Soon after, he met and married a beautiful Greek lady from Detroit, Lyn. They had two sons, Nick and Ricky. In 1956, he moved his young family to Las Vegas where he eventually landed a position at the Riviera Hotel and Casino and worked his way up to the maitre'd of the main showroom. He worked during the Riviera's hay day with such notables as Don Rickles, Shecky Greene, Tony Orlando and Liza Minelli, serving nearly 40 years until retiring in 1994. Being that the Guerrero family is no stranger to show business. Rudy landed a role in the movie "Casino" opposite Robert Deniro and Sharon Stone. His son, Nick, became an accomplished musician forming his own band and his niece, Evelyn, became an actress and married actor Pat Morita of the Karate Kid films. In recent years, Rudy went back to work for businessman and beloved friend, George Tallas. They became close friends and George was at Rudy's side to the very end. The family wishes to thank him dearly for his love and support. Rudy was an avid golfer and loved all sports, especially boxing. He was often referred to as "The Champ" or as his name implies, Guerrero... The "Warrior". Don Rickles nicknamed him "El Caballo" (the horse) named after a drink that Rudy created especially for Rickles. To quote his niece, Evelyn, "He was our champ and the bravest man I ever knew. But, he was so much more than an uncle to me. He was a father figure and a mentor to me and my brother, Nemo, and the patriarch of the family. To many, he was this classy, "stand up" gentlemen with a heart of gold. His very presence would light up a room and he was adored by anyone that stood in his light. He was a prince of a man and the last of a dying breed. He will be greatly missed." He is survived by his son, Nick Guerrero; his grandson, Ricardo Guerrero; brother, Danny Guerrero (bro. Mateo); sister, Armeda Siqueiros; sister-in-law, Rita Guerrero; nieces and nephews, Evelyn Guerrero-Morita, Nemo Strang, Heidi Bonito, Vivian Mc Haffey, Adrianne Siqueiros


  1. Sounds like an intersting guy. Did you know all that stuff about him before he died? Did he ever introduce you to Pat Morita?

  2. @ Kirk ~ Yes, I knew most of that (except not about his military service) and many, many more stories because we both have such a long Las Vegas history. No Pat Morita introductions. Just lots of good coffee, chicken and conversation.

  3. He looked like he could tell a few stories. Sad.

    But wonderful news about you going back to work. That's fantastic.

  4. @ Rachel ~ Thank you so much. He was wonderful and is much missed. I am thrilled to be back at work. I'm drafting a post about the ups and downs of it - the ups are lofty and the downs temporary, so I am a lucky individual.

  5. Oh, the tales he could tell. I'll have to look for the movie. I don't believe I've seen it. Big shoes to fill Les, you will do so with your own flair and style.

    wv - stoiked What the local surfers from Queens say when the surf's up. "I'm so stoiked."

  6. @ Mike ~ Yes, it's already working out in its way. I don't feel like a usurper. His memory and contributions are not disturbed by me. I'm so stoiked!