Tag Archives: Las Vegas

Back Again, then Back to Vacation

Phew!  August is turning into quite the traveling month in the Neighborhood.

Just got back from a week in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, followed by several days in Atlantic City, NJ.  Yet once I returned, I learned that our friend’s cabin in Maine is open, so I’ll be off to Maine next week.

I will be posting every day this week as time allows.  I am going to try–emphasis on TRY–to post at least once, maybe twice, from my rustic manse to all of you.  Until then, a few thoughts:

  • Rehoboth Beach has to be one of the best vacation areas in the United States.  Mr. D has been here three times, and I enjoy it more and more each visit.  The beaches are clean and wide, the towns are quaint and manageable, the restaurants are plentiful–if also on the pricey side–and the people are generally nice and agreeable.  You can truly relax there, so make it a stop next summer, unless you like to be rowdy.  The frat boys can go to Dewey Beach, one town over.
  • Atlantic City, on the other hand, is a dump.  Everything I rhapsed about Las Vegas has found its polar opposite in AC.  The beaches smell, and they’re dirty.  It’s too crowded.  The boardwalk has the rumpled-down look that’s a cross between a late-80’s Coney Island and Calcutta, with the charm of neither.  Amidst the casinos–which are pale comparisons to their Vegas brethren–lie some pretty appalling slum areas.  I can’t say it’s safe, even though we weren’t victimized.   The place is just miserable and depressing, and its nearby towns are no better.  Ocean City, NJ is an eyesore without the “quaint charm” of its Maryland counterpart.
  • I heard that mayoral control of schools has been restored in New York, with some minor tweaks.  This is to be expected.  Although I think the tweaks are much too minor, mayoral control works for the time being.  That doesn’t mean however, that we shouldn’t find an alternative.
  • What is this nonsense I hear about Obama considering lengthening the school day and year?!  I’ll cover the resurrection of this dimwitted idea in tomorrow’s post in which I will put forth my own proposal for education–strengthening graduate education programs, from admissions to academic rigor.

Have a good night, everyone!

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Musings on the Buffet line: Las Vegas in the American Psyche

035Did you miss me? Be honest.

I must say I missed the Neighborhood, even from the sunny confines of Las Vegas.  I would’ve posted earlier had there not been a ghastly fee for internet access.  On the whole, I can’t complain–Mr. D would like to thank the nice folks at the MGM Grand Resort and Casino for their excellent attention.    Just as a note: stay away from Yoshe at the blackjack tables.  She can fleece you with a string of 21’s in no time flat.

No matter how many times I go, Las Vegas continues to amaze me.  It epitomizes the best and worst of American society.  I will have skeptics, but I truly believe that to understand the America of the early 21st century, look no further than a once-barren truck stop in the Mojave Desert, now one of the fastest growing cities in the United States.  If ever there was an America in miniature, this would be it.

Like early American cities, Las Vegas’ sprawl is due to the relentless drive of unbridled capitalism, in this case fueled by the gaming and tourism industry.  In an area where the original meadow (Las Vegas means “the meadows” in Spanish) was long since swalled by the desert, there exists an explosive energy of constructive and destructive forces driven by innate passions and desires.  Much like the New York of the 20th Century, Las Vegas is driven by the future.  Modernity means bigger, taller, faster, more exciting resort destinations that take up every inch of available real estate.  The main drag, Las Vegas Boulevard, or “The Strip”, is now so choked with development that hotels must now reach higher and higher, eventually to dwarf the 1,149-foot Stratosphere tower, the tallest free-standing tower in the United States.

Another similarity to early America is both the use of unique design and imitation.  If visitors think that the faux-landscapes of New York-New York, Paris Las Vegas or the Venetian are simply elements unique to Las Vegas, they are sorely mistaken.  Nothing is more American than the imitation of elements from the European past: look at Washington’s neoclassical buildings if you don’t believe me.  Furthermore, sometimes design imitation is taken to new levels of innovation, such as the Luxor, an Egyptian-themed hotel shaped like a gigantic black pyramid.

Who inhabits these glass and steel monoliths?  Apparently, all of America and a good part of the rest of the world, too.  The “Oceans 11, 12, 13” movies have done much to spread the Vegas myth.  Las Vegas’ mystique is driven by a uniquely American mindset that anything is possible.  The biggest mistakes were telling “Bugsy” Siegel, Howard Hughes, Kirk Kerkorian, Steve Wynn, or the Maloof brothers–all pioneers in the Vegas story–that it couldn’t be done.  The casinos, restaurants and nightclubs today are monuments to possibility.  The possibilities themselves are as American as the buildings–anyone can be treated like a king.  Anyone is one slot machine pull away from millionaire status.  This is where the small can feel like a big shot–at least until the plane ride home. 

Things aren’t always so rosy in Sin City.  It’s nickname is part of the mystique–and part of the problem.  In an America where more and more families are driven to vacation together, Las Vegas’ “adultness” can be very off-putting.  The city’s casual attitude toward malfeasance, vice, gluttony and general indulgence is not exactly fodder for family entertainment.  Countless times, I’ve seen a happy family walking down the strip, and seen Junior looking down in astonishment at the cards of undressed women advertising their “services.” Like I’ve said in previous posts, I’m no prude.  However, Vegas is not for families, enough said.

The downside of unbridled development is that you get what you pay for.  Las Vegas’ transportation infrastructure is woefully inadequate for the city–try driving south on the Strip between Treasure Island and the Bellagio and you’ll get my point.  As you go north into the city proper, tourist meccas often collide with appalling squalor, as I witnessed in the shantytown located just north of Charleston Boulevard, if memory serves.  Indulgence, especially Vegas indulgence, is ultimately self-destructive–doesn’t this sound like our own America and its consumer-driven culture.  As Las Vegas grows, it faces problems many American cities have already faced at least a century ago: crime, poverty, corruption, transportation, civic infrastructure, and environmental concerns.  Priority one is the last one: Las Vegas is in a desert, after all, and water is scarce.

Yet if you see it for what it is, then Las Vegas is certainly an enjoyable experience.  It’s a place I love to visit, though I doubt I could ever live there.  After all, who can subsist on half-price buffets and comped rooms all their life?  Well, not for lack of trying.

I’ll try to get a Flickr account going to show all the pictures from our trip.  For now, enjoy the view from our suite.  Awesome.

This was the view from our suite.  You can see New York-New York, the Monte Carlo, and the new CityCenter project, a joint effort of MGM-Mirage and Dubai World.  Jealous?

This was the view from our suite. You can see New York-New York, the Monte Carlo, and the new CityCenter project, a joint effort of MGM-Mirage and Dubai World. Jealous?

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Vegas, Baby! Vegas!

2932092800_bd620bfb96Well, I’ll be off to Las Vegas tomorrow morning. 

Between now and Sunday, the Neighborhood may not be updated as often as I would like, due either to my enjoyment or to the fact that I lost my laptop in a hand of baccarat.

Here’s hoping that my sojourn will be enjoyable and relaxing.  And if I do lose my laptop–I hope to get comped for it.  Just make sure that the pit boss is watching.

Hopefully the weather will comply, although I heard that rain is in the offing for Wednesday when I fly in (only when I come does it rain in the desert!).

Anyway, I’ll be back in the Neighborhood soon, I promise.

PS: If I see you hit on a 14 with the dealer showing a 5, I’ll cut you.  I mean it.

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Holiday Wishes and Random Thoughts

I’d like to wish everyone in the neighborhood a happy Easter and a joyous Passover.  Whether its celebrating the resurrection of Big J, the exodus of the Israelites from bondage in Egypt, or the fact that we may finally leave winter sometime this month–remember that every day is a celebration.   Party on!

Some random thoughts today before the holiday preparations:

  1. My call for help with my children’s book is still open.  I have received some feedback, but could use more opinions out there.  Any thoughts on this is welcome.  Even if you want to berate me for continuing on this quixotic quest for publishing glory–that way I have something to read as I whimper in the fetal position.  So, to repeat, any help on this would be much appreciated.
  2. My Las Vegas trip is coming up, and the Neighborhood can also assist here.  I need to take future Mrs. D out to dinner at a nice restaurant when we sojourn in Las Vegas this week.  I’d like any suggestions sooner rather than later, as I’d like to reserve a table while I’m here.  Furthermore, I’m looking for a NON-Cirque du Soleil show to attend while I’m there–future Mrs. D doesn’t care for half-naked Quebecois leaping to New Age music.   I’d be much obliged for suggestions.
  3. Lastly, I’ve been intrigued by this pirate situation as of late in the Horn of Africa.  This has been going on for quite a while, and it makes a very good teachable moment for those kids still enamored with Johnny Depp mincing in pirate gear.  Pirates are not cool.  In fact, they are no better than drunken criminals.  As the students can see by the news stories, real lives are at stake.  Keep it in mind for a quickie lesson after your break.

It’s a short one today, as I have relatives to see and shopping to do.  Have a great holiday, and I’ll see everyone on Monday.

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