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Spelunking in Las Vegas 174

LowellPorter writes "There's an article here about some reporters who check out the sewers in Vegas after a known criminal escapes a police dragnet through them. They expect to find lots of people living in there, but only end up interviewing a couple of bums."
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Spelunking in Las Vegas

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  • by Captain Large Face ( 559804 ) on Friday June 28, 2002 @08:23AM (#3785802) Homepage

    Must be some kind of annual conference, surely?

    • Actually, from reading the article, the writer is not at all interested in telling a story, but rather talking about himself. He even pointed out that he owns a Kukri, and only the chosen few may carry such a sacred weapon. You can just see the guy envisioning accepting an award for this piece. I wouldn't have even finished the article if it didn't contain such lurid subject matter.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...or does this article stink!?
  • Heh? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jedi Alec ( 258881 ) on Friday June 28, 2002 @08:24AM (#3785811)

    They expect to find some people living in there, but only end up interviewing a couple of bums who live there.

    So what are you trying to say, bums aren't real people?

    • I can't see how this article has anything to do with technology, and the writeup on the mainpage is pretty lame.
    • Re:Heh? (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by Xaoswolf ( 524554 )
      If they weren't expecting the bums, then who were they expecting???
      • Go Splinter (Score:3, Funny)

        by 2names ( 531755 )
        Why, Mutant Ninja Turtles, of course!!!
        • Why, Mutant Ninja Turtles, of course!!!

          Yeah, they would be 20-something ninja turles by now, eh?

          Donatello has a problem with panty-sniffing, Leonardo can't find any eligible, like-mided conservative bachelorettes to settle down with, Rafael has plumped out a little like the Simpsons' Comic Book Guy, and Michelangelo just can't seem to stop smokin' the good stuff.

          Just conjecture, though.
      • Re:Heh? (Score:2, Funny)

        by Bob McCown ( 8411 )
        If they weren't expecting the bums, then who were they expecting???

        The Spanish Inquisition?

        • Hah! NO ONE EXPECTS THE SPANISH INQUISITION! Our chief weapon is surprise...surprise and fear...fear and surprise.... Our two weapons are fear and surprise...and ruthless efficiency.... Our *three* weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency...and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope.... Our *four* *Amongst* our weapons.... Amongst our weaponry...are such elements as fear, surprise....

          Eh, never mind.

          Dance around the lameness filter? Yes we can!
    • by No Such Agency ( 136681 ) <> on Friday June 28, 2002 @08:57AM (#3785982)
      I think they were expecting a bunch of dog-boy Recombinants, on the run from the sinister government agency which was breeding them to be super-soldiers. But all they found was a hot brunette chick with puffy lips and a barcode on her neck. She told them to pull their heads out of their asses, and do something useful, like write a halfways decent piece about the homeless.
    • Yeah! Of course real people live in a shit pipes. Stick a few pictures up and you have a very homely shit pipe.
  • Not People? (Score:2, Redundant)

    by IPFreely ( 47576 )
    They expect to find some people living in there, but only end up interviewing a couple of bums who live there.

    I guess bums don't qualify as people.

    • Hmmm. These so-called "Bums" must be pretty freaky...

      They're out there in the sewers...
      They're definitely not human...
      But they're ALIVE.


      So I guess the Al Quaeda network must be involved too.
  • Bums? (Score:5, Funny)

    by ShwAsasin ( 120187 ) on Friday June 28, 2002 @08:26AM (#3785820) Journal
    Why are you calling them bums, the politically correct term is "trailer impaired".
  • Maybe they'd find some Missing phone lines? []
  • ...not terribly compelling read for me. Then again, maybe if I put on some John Williams music from Raiders of the Lost Ark, it set the mood better. ;-)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I thought I was reading some sort of geeks weblog, I must have typed the wrong URL.
  • spellunking... well its more caveclan style.. damn i miss the caveclan outings from australia.. london lacks an organised caveclan... (caveclan info here []
  • by HiQ ( 159108 ) on Friday June 28, 2002 @08:29AM (#3785838)
    "Josh, slow down," I said. "I can't see shit."
    Weren't they looking hard enough?
    • Actually, the storm sewer and sanitary sewers do not mix. The storm sewer is what these guys were tromping around in. It carries rainwater out to drainage canals and rivers. The sanitary sewer pipes the shit right out of your house, and carries it to treatment plants.
  • Ah, haven't there been so many SciFi movies with weird stuff happening in the Sewer...

    And alot of X-files episodes.

  • Just bums? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Your_Mom ( 94238 ) <> on Friday June 28, 2002 @08:31AM (#3785845) Homepage
    They expect to find some people living in there, but only end up interviewing a couple of bums who live there.

    No alligators?!

    No mutant goldfish that are plotting world domination because of rensentnment from being flushed down the toilet?!

    No rat-people?!

    Goodness... The sewers in NYC are so much more exciting. I'm canceling my vacation to Las Vegas now that I know that nothing exciting happens down there.

    • by dcavens ( 178673 )
      No mutant goldfish that are plotting world domination because of rensentnment from being flushed down the toilet?!

      Actually, they did find some weird mutant fish:

      (from the article) There were cockroaches everywhere and albino fish spawning in the water by the thousands; they looked like deformed goldfish. Some of them were six inches long and too big to fit completely in the water, unable to swim and flopping slowly through the murk.

      Hard to know if they were plotting world domination. Maybe they just started planning..
    • Re:Just bums? (Score:2, Informative)

      by cybercuzco ( 100904 )
      Read the article, they actually do find mutant goldfish and cockroaches and mutant crayfish and a troll.
    • I was spelunking storm drains with friends from school, and we popped up in the middle of a tiny ornamental lake in a park (Swan Lake in Tulsa, for the few who will know.)

      The drain is in the middle of the lake and about eight feet across, so we were all able to sit on the edge at once & look around. Kids on BMX bikes pointed at us & yelled. We snarled & hollered things like "Haven't you ever seen sewer people before!"

      More recently I suggested exploring some disused missile silos I'd heard about, but a good friend pointed out that if we got caught, we'd go to jail. I forget that I'm an adult less often now.
  • They expect to find some people living in there, but only end up interviewing a couple of bums who live there.

    Gee, they didn't find any people that lived there, only some bums who lived there.

    What exact species classiciation are bums, if not Homo Sapiens (people)?

    Just wondering...
  • It's published in Las Vegas' News and Culture Weekly. So which is it... news or culture? Normally I wouldn't have to ask, but, y'know, Las Vegas...

    Oh, and is it just me, or is the author the most condescending fucker on the face of the planet?
    • Oh, and is it just me, or is the author the most condescending fucker on the face of the planet?

      Actualy I would say the ten dozen people making jokes about bums in this discussion are.
  • So, were the bums running Linux or something?

    I can't entirely figure out what this has to do with nerd/geek/tech stuff...
  • Please. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Gannoc ( 210256 ) on Friday June 28, 2002 @08:39AM (#3785882)
    This isn't a story. Workers from the city are down there all the time, and know exactly what its like. These guys go down there, and narrate enough extra tension that it makes them seem like they're exploring Venus.

    Next week: They're going to explore the woods on the side of the highway with nothing more than a flashlight and a scimitar. Nobody knows whats there....

    "There was a brief flash of light as another truck went by. While it passed, the world seemed to stand still as my companion and I forgot to breathe in our quiet terror. The smell of exaust was almost overpowering, and I longed to be free of this hell. Suddenly, we heard a soft crunch from right at our feet! Jimmy fumbled for his scimitar while I readied the flashlight. It was what appeared to be a dixie cup. From how long ago, we couldn't say... There appeared to be a drying brown substance in the bottom of it, which we suspect is human blood. We had no time to ponder that however; we had a long journey ahead."

    • LOL, Very observant. Is this actually considered journalism? Didn't think it was such a slow news week.
    • Next week: They're going to explore the woods on the side of the highway with nothing more than a flashlight and a scimitar. Nobody knows whats there....

      You'd be surprised.

      Been done, minus scimitar. Some homeless person had actualy built themselves a shelter there complete with a crank radio. Rather elaberate, stairs and all. Cloths line and such as well.

      At the very least, it is a good lesson to learn, Homeless does not mean stupid or unmotivated.
      • Some homeless person had actualy built themselves a shelter there complete with a crank radio. Rather elaberate, stairs and all. Cloths line and such as well.

        Doesn't that qualify as a home?

        So what if they say he doesn't own it? So what if they say he doesn't have a right to be there? His home was, as you say, complete with a crank radio.

        Perhaps, just perhaps, that person lived a life of much less stress than there rest of us, even if they didn't have running water or a microwave.

        The way I see it, they had a home. They call it Earth.
        • Jesus H...what a sanctimonious attitude. Spend some time among such people, or spend the night in a homeless shelter once, and you'll see for yourself why bums have such a lousy reputation. I know, I did.
    • 'nuff said...
  • by oever ( 233119 ) on Friday June 28, 2002 @08:40AM (#3785886) Homepage
    The reporters were looking for a troll in the sewers, but couldn't find him.

    I guess they had their threshold too high.
    The should have looked at -1.
    • I guess they had their threshold too high.
      The should have looked at -1.

      Actually, the sewers are underground, so it certainly qualifies as "-1".
      What this shows is that reality works better than slashdot and trolls in there get modded to *at least* -2....
    • maybe that guy they found lying in the fetal position who wouldn't talk tp them was the troll. Maybe he was on a bad trip, or going through DTs, and that's why he didn't use the crowbar. I was upset that they didn't find any alligators, that would have been cool!
  • by cOdEgUru ( 181536 ) on Friday June 28, 2002 @08:43AM (#3785897) Homepage Journal
    I read the whole thing when I woke up, thinking there might be some reason to why you decide to post it.

    Are the reporter guys your friends ? Or is the guy who originally posted the story your friend ?

    I mean, the whole thing is a little interesting, told in the perspective of two reporters, alternately, but when you half expect them to find an ogre or a troll, finding bums just isnt enough.

    Thats just my opinion.
  • They were inspired by watching CHUD []
  • caving (Score:4, Interesting)

    by devonbowen ( 231626 ) on Friday June 28, 2002 @08:46AM (#3785925) Homepage
    Spelunking is a term popularized by the media and usually used by people that don't seriously venture underground. Caving is the preferred term. Since people that use the term spelunking are often found yelling for help with a burned out flashlight or at the bottom of a pit unable to climb the rope out, the difference in the two terms is generally illustrated by noting that "cavers rescue spelunkers".


    • Re:caving (Score:3, Funny)

      by speleo ( 61031 )
      Shh... Don't let the secret out.

      Really, it's spelunking folks. And be sure to take a ball of string to mark your path into the cave...

      • Re:caving (Score:4, Insightful)

        by sabinm ( 447146 ) on Friday June 28, 2002 @10:16AM (#3786377) Homepage Journal
        Right, because saying you're a caver is really going to save you when you fall to your death because you decided to take a picutre standing on one leg on a "really scary precipice"

        I agree that there a lot of areas in this world where there are new entrants into the field. However, I think it's counterproductive to oust them from the inner circle because of a word. This isn't high school.

        It probably would help more to take one of these spelunkers on a caving adventure and educate them, than to make fun of them when they're lost and hysterical.
        • Re:caving (Score:2, Informative)

          by speleo ( 61031 )

          Actually, it's not the word that's the problem--it's the attitude of the people that choose to use that word.

          Caving is a very dangerous activity--more so than most because it's a very short trip to disaster. Rescue is difficult--no helicopers here folks. An inexerienced person can be just fine one minute and the next--when his flashlight batteries go dead--he's toast. Oh, yeah, those cell phones don't work well underground, either.

          "Adventure Sports" are attracting a lot of people these days that should just stay home in front of the TV. Caving is one of the more dangerous of these and it's not to be taken lightly. In addition to the danger there's the aspect of how fragile the cave ecosystem is and how easy it is to do real lasting damage.

          However, local caving groups are very receptive of new members. The National Speleological Society [] can hook you up with a local group if you really want to learn about caves and how to safely explore them.

    • Re:caving (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      If you want to try caving take a look at these sites: (NSS, US) (Toronto)

      Mother Earth's caves are FAR more interesting than what man makes.

    • This is idiotic. "Caving" is the term used by people who don't know what "Spelunking" is and can't be bothered to check a dictionary. I don't know what part of the country you are from, but if you told me you wanted to go "caving", I would point and laugh at you. A lot.
    • Ahh, I see someone has taken (or leads) the
      Wild Cave Tour [] at Mammoth Cave, KY.
    • Wish I had mod points ;)

      Just got back from the NSS Convention up in Maine.. were any of you guys there? If not, you didn't miss much.. Maine isn't exactly cave central...

      I'm going to McFail's tomorrow, complete with my brand new "CARBIDE IN MY BLOOD" license plate cover :D
    • BTW, I find it extraordinary that a new company is making brass caplamps again (Nimex.. IMO sells them), but avoid them. My friend and I picked up a couple at the convention, and refuse to stay lit. No problems with my Guy's Dropper :)
    • That term seems to be in use by newbies. When I was *spelunking* in the 1960's (yes, NSS... yes... the real thing), it was called spelunking *or* caving.

      It is always amazing how granfaloons of people adopt terminology to make themselves feel special and elite.
  • by kpetruse ( 572247 ) on Friday June 28, 2002 @08:48AM (#3785938)
    ...So there's gotta be some one-armed bandits down there.

    Were the bums playing craps?

    Man, I can't believe I said that...
  • Boring (Score:5, Interesting)

    by stere0 ( 526823 ) <slashdotmail@ste r e o .lu> on Friday June 28, 2002 @08:53AM (#3785959) Homepage

    They found large concrete pipes with 5-6 people living inside them. These stories [] are far more interesting!

    Here in Luxembourg, we have kilometers of casemates [] [pdf]. Only two sites are open to the public, but I've had the chance to explore a couple. Two years ago I saw some graffiti by people who fled underground during air strikes in WWII. I've never met any bums though.

  • While not exactly a tech story, the artice is an interesting reminder (imho) about what can happen in our society. Remember the dot-com boom? Remeber the crash? Know anyone who lost their job and *still* hasn't found another? Just because we work in a (usually) highly-paid industry, doesn't mean we're any more immune from total poverty then John Q. Citizen labourer.

    Living in the tunnels is what some people are reduced to, when they suddenly find they've got no more money left to pay the rent or the electricity or the gas bills. Perhaps those of you making jokes about the differences between bums and people may not be so high and haughty if you lose your job and you're down there yourself in six months time.
  • There goes next month's TV special!
  • Upon first sight, I was sure it said 'the servers in Vegas' - but when I got to the 'lots of people living in there' part, I knew something was wrong :-)
  • Is any /.'er really surprised?

    I'm sure we could have told them that. We know these people quite well.

    Time to find some sturdy cover, probably. :)

  • Yup, this is just another cover up... The real reason they were there was to install new stealth phone tapping equipment to track those no-good-do'ers that go to Vegas every year for DefCon... but then they found they had been bested and the 2600 crew had already been there when they found that grafitti picture of Kevin Mitnick (you know, the one they showed in the article)... So then they needed a cover up reason for why they were there, so the interviewed a few bums (being that they aren't real people and all) and wrote about the "underground" culture in LV.

  • by shmuc ( 70684 )
    the only reason why this would ever be posted is because we have users living in las vegas who are escaped convicts and this is the only way we can warn them.
  • Not nerdy? (Score:5, Funny)

    by __past__ ( 542467 ) on Friday June 28, 2002 @09:34AM (#3786172)
    Hey, after all, they were in a maze of twisting little passages, all alike.

    How's that not "news for nerds, stuff that matters?"

  • Don't these tunnels flood during freak storms typical of Vegas and other desert areas? I know the one guy said Metro warns them.

    It just seems a bit too dangerous to me, even if the weather isn't calling for rain. Last time I was in Vegas (last October) a freak storm blew through and killed some kid playing in a wash somewhere in town...

  • by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Friday June 28, 2002 @09:35AM (#3786179) Journal
    I use to live in suburb of Houston and I remember driving along creeks and rivers to find such storm drains. I loved exploring them or hanging out in them. The only downside is that the gulf coast gets heavy downpours quite often on any such given day especially during the spring or summer. So be aware if any of you want to do this. You can easily drown in some of these smaller drains. Me and an old buddy of mine did this once and within only 3 minutes of the heavy rain the small trickling stream only a few inches wide turned into a white water river. It roared and had a current to it and it was hard to stand up. I was afriad of being sucked down and having my head slamed into the concreate as I fell down or having my lamp get washed away. Pretty scary. Luckly we were only 700 or 800 feet in and close to a larger pipe that wouldn't filled over our heads with water. We quickly headed for the bigger pipe and barely made it out. I always watched the weather channel before I entered another drain pipe after that. I am moving to Las Vegas this July so I will check these tunnels out. I sure miss my drain pipe spelunking pals from High School.

  • by Thag ( 8436 ) on Friday June 28, 2002 @09:43AM (#3786203) Homepage
    Firstly, neither of them mentioned the most important thing: a backup flashlight.

    MAG-lites are wonderfully durable, but their bulbs and batteries are still prone to damage in an abusive environment like a cave. I know: on my one caving trip in college, my primary mag-lite gave out halfway through. Fortunately I had a AA backup. Better yet would be an LED flashlight: they're incredibly tough.

    Secondly, a kukri? Please. I own one, and it's mostly useless except as a heavy-duty machete. And it might get you arrested. And was he carrying it stuck through his belt without a sheath?

    Important stuff for caving:
    • Some kind of helmet. We used Army helmet liners, which were protection enough without being too heavy.
    • Multiple light sources. The best would be an LED light on a headband, so you can use it hands-free. Bring extras in case you lose your primary, or your buddy does.
    • Your buddy. At least they got this one right.
    • Overalls, or plan to change clothes when you get out. Caves are filthy even when they're not a sewer. You're going to come out dirty from head to toe.
    • Work gloves. Protect your hands.
    • Tell someone where you're going, so if you run into problems they can send help eventually.
    • Anywhere you might need rope for, you shouldn't be going.

    Jon Acheson
    • actually, they had helmets and extra flashlights on the final trip
    • I have to disagree with your interpretation of a kukri's usefulness; The design would have died out if it didn't have a couple of distinct advantages, but it is actually still quite popular in actual use today. First, it's a righteous throwing weapon, it damn near throws itself. Second, that bend in it and its overall length and weight makes it a seriously dangerous hand to hand weapon. It's essentially got a pistol grip (in modern terms) and it's very easy to hold.

      I know someone who can throw a kukri accurately enough to sever a rope tied to a tree some ten feet away, and he doesn't practice all that much. Someone who actually is in practice should be able to do much better.

      Finally; You can get very nice kukris with a modern rubber grip from American Cold Steel. They're sharp as all hell.

      • by Thag ( 8436 )
        My kukri was bought from Himalayan Imports, and was made in Nepal. It's their 15" Ang Khola. It's pretty solid, and looks nice, but it arrived dull, and sharpening it properly took HOURS. For $150, a knife should come sharp.

        The edge on these is supposed to be indestructible, onine reviews talked about chopping off car doors without harming the edge. Well, they're all full of shit. After an hour clearing light brush with mine, the edge was noticeably messed up. I would have expected better from a $15 machete.

        I probably should have gotten the Cold Steel one, quality control would have been better. As it is, I pretty much feel I got a Shemp.

        Lastly, the main reason I think a Kukri is a bad choice for a stroll through the Mines of Moria or some such nonsense is that it's a chopping weapon, and in a tunnel you want a thrusting point. The bend in the Kukri that makes it a good chopper tends to make it a poor thrusting weapon.

        Jon Acheson
  • That Dmitri Skyvalrov (sp?) didnt use the sewers....
  • there are a few books written on the "mole people" of the NYC abandoned subway shafts.

    I think someone needs to write a book about the random homeless encounters in the Vegas sewer system.
  • Have you ever been to Circus Circus. Just as filthy but more accessable ;)
    • I'd still take a kukri, though. You've got to have something to keep those evil clowns and trapeze mutants away while you're trying to read your blackjack strategy card. :)
  • Hell, in Las Vegas I'm sure they've got DSL or cable even in the sewers!

    *Meanwhile, I sit next to my 56k that connects at no better than 26.4kbps.*
  • Dark Days (Score:4, Informative)

    by Salsaman ( 141471 ) on Friday June 28, 2002 @10:06AM (#3786331) Homepage
    For anyone who is interested in this kind of thing, I highly recommend the film Dark Days [].

    It's a documentary about people living in the Amtrak subways in New York, and is both fascinating and moving.

  • No. Mutant ninja turtles? Perhaps.

    Hang on, that was NY. Disregard.
  • by docbrown42 ( 535974 ) on Friday June 28, 2002 @10:11AM (#3786361) Homepage
    ...or they might have been eaten by a Grue.

    -Ed []
    Graphic Design, Web Design, Role-Playing Games...all the good stuff
    • For those of you young whippersnappers who have never heard of a grue, download and play Zork [] or any of the old, great Infocom games []... from the "good old days" of computing, when anything over 16 kilobytes was a tremendous amount of free memory...
      • Zork? *Adventure*, dude! Get your old games right! Yes, there were things that Zork borrowed, but use the source, Luke!

        Also, the URL you gave failed, though there was a Google cache [].

        A nasty little dwarf throws a stone knife at you and misses...

  • The MMC was changed to Denver, Colorado in fact the caves of Colorado are better suited for big crowds.

    Please redirect all your reervation to our new site.

    Thank you!!
  • Or is this a hint of further slumps in the IT industry headed our way? "This just in: Slashdot posts stories about housing opportunities for sacked IT folks..."
  • For more on underground/abnormal exploration (especially the german bunker and catacombs): it's more on the adventurous/curiosity side than the "wow! people live here!" side, but an interesting read if you find this sort of thing interesting
  • Species (Score:1, Insightful)

    by gerf ( 532474 )
    It does make you wonder at how our sewers and cities are affecting how animals evolve. crayfish and regular fish adapting to those tunnels, living with the chemicals and shit we put down there, all has to affect their 'natural selection' to an extent. i wouldn't be surprised if some animal, raccoon perhaps, would evolve to only live on those kinds of animals, and we'd have an entire ecosystem. perhaps with bums at the top, eating the 'coons? who knows!
  •'s done here in Minneapolis.

    This article [] is from the local "alternative" paper (the CityPages), and includes some good photography.

    Also, one of the individuals mentioned in the article has a fascinating website that details their quest for the big cave under the middle of the city. It's the Minneapolis Drain Archive [].

  • I remember how I always wanted to go adventuring in the sewers as a kid. But I think we only got the small kinds here... it definently look crammed down there. I want big sewers too!
  • I asked a member of the National Cave Rescue Team recently at the premiere of an IMAX movie on caving if it was an official term and she stated it was not, just a hobbyist term that someone had come up with in the 50's to make it sound more important than "caving."
  • by david.given ( 6740 ) <dg AT cowlark DOT com> on Friday June 28, 2002 @12:18PM (#3787113) Homepage Journal
    Check out Mysteries under Moscow []. A group have been exploring the tunnels under Moscow since the 1970s and have found:
    • Up to 12 levels of tunnels
    • Nuclear bunkers
    • Lots of human skulls
    • Whole tribes of people living there
    • Mass burial sites
    • A hastily abandoned chemical laboratory
    • A 3000-seat bunker under a cathedral
    • Strange religious rites
    • All kinds of other weird stuff
    It would be scary if it wasn't so fascinating. The article linked to above is quite old; have any Russian slashdotters seen the TV programme mentioned?
  • Unfortunately, the site seems to be having problems, but [] is a 'zine that covers these kinds of urban expeditions. Some great stuff there, when it's working (and google seems to have spidered it yesterday).
  • So is anybody organizing tunnel hacking at DefCon [] ?
  • While working in China, I noticed some people coming out of an odd stairway near our apartment building. We went down and looked around, and found
    • a roomful of abandonded motorcycle parts.
    • a room that looked like it had been used for machining some kind of metal parts
    • two very surprised women working at what appeared to be an operation making stuffed quilts
    • a wall papered with one of those "full picture" wallpaper designs showing a beach on an island.

    • It was really weird and I was sorry I didn't have my camera.

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"