Thursday, November 8, 2007

More Glitter and Tinsel

That's Why I Live in Las Vegas
The book "Valley of the Dolls" by Jaqueline Susanne was published in 1966 and the movie version came out in 1967. With apologies to the late author of the book I like to think of Las Vegas as the Valley of the Dollars. Signs that say "Keep Las Vegas Green" are more appropriate for the casinos than the hotel grounds. When people ask me what it is like to live in Las Vegas I often answer, "You can fo to a food store 0pen at 3 a.m. and pick up a quart of milk." Of course, in my nearly 40 years of living Las Vegas, I have never felt the need to get a quart of milk at 3 a.m. and probably never will. But there are things in Las Vegas that even boggle my mind.
When Steve Wynn opned the hotel with the same last name (What are the chances of owning a hotel which you were named after?) I was not awestruck. I'd watched properties be built, demolished, built, demolished, built.... well, you get the idea. But I did turn my head when I saw the Ferrari dealership inside the Wynn hotel. Although I probably should not have been. This is a man who bought the rundown downtown Golden Nugget, personally knocked down part of it, and rebuilt it to a must see. He sold that and with the help of junk bonds (in those days banks would not loan money to casino builders) built the Mirage, complete with volcano, and then took a chunk of the Mirage parking lot to site his Treasure Island. Not done yet, he sold the stuff he owned and built the Bellagio complete with dancing fountains on the outside and a season-changing arboretum on the inside.
Many men of vision and some women have left their marks on the city that has reinvented itself every decade or so. Benny Binion got into trouble for gambling in Texas so he came to Vegas and built the Horseshoe, complete with a cool million dollars in $ 10,000 bills on display. Tourists and locals could get a free photo standing in front of it. (Who's picture is on the $ 10,000 bill? Mr. Chase. Of course legendary Ben Segal built the Flamingo and Howard Hughes bought the Desert Inn, Castaways, Silver Slipper, Sands, Frontier, and Landmark. None of them are still standing except the Frontier which is scheduled for demolition soon. Such is progress.
I love this city. I've lived almost half it's history. Saw vestiges of the mob (many locals say it was a better town back then) and watched penny slots, once the darling of frugal gamblers, fall out of favor and disappear for decades only to return to become some of the biggest money makers in the house. A group of prominent citizens once all dressed up as Elvis and became the skydiving team called, "The Flying Elvi." I saw two hillbilly brothers sing downtown. Wayne and Jerry Newton. Watched Sammy Davis, Jr. cheer on the Runnin' Rebels in the glory days. Las Vegas has a rich history. On your next visit you should seek it out.
Dr. Forgot.

1 comment:

ur-trbl-mkr said...

Wow gpa, that is way cool that you have seen all of those things! Whose face is on the 10,000 anyway? and,I am way excited to go find the really cool historical stuff in Vegas now I know that there is more to it than just watching the local 'dancers' and street freaks handing out 'magazines' to my 3 yr old little brother (aah, good times). But, ya know, you're going to have to show me