Saturday, May 06, 2006

stardust memories

stardust motel
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
The Stardust in Las Vegas, which opened in 1958, is scheduled for demolition next Spring. The Desert Inn, a veteran from 1950 on the Vegas strip, came down in 2001. The Boardwalk (1964) will be dust and rubble tomorrow.
Las Vegas "was known as the capital of cheap rooms and cheap food," said Alan Feldman, a spokesman for MGM Mirage, the giant hotel and casino company developing the Boardwalk site. "It was known as the capital of the cheap vacation -- and you got what you paid for. We used to give coupons books for free drinks and two-for-one buffet. Now we have 300-thread-count sheets and turn-down service."

From No More Cheap Shrimp Cocktail in this morning's New York Times
Vegas isn't my playground -- I play my poker at home with folks I know because the tell is all and I'm lame at figuring out strangers -- but cheap vacations for Middle America matter to me. My grandparents were married in Reno, on a day-trip out of San Francisco, where they returned after an afternoon at the slots to conceive my mother, and then six more kids over time. And Reno was the place they returned, when they had a minute between raising their brood in Sonoma and running their business out of Mill Valley -- all geographies that are far out of reach of folks with moderate incomes anymore.

So it sounds like Vegas is going the way of the cheap ballgame -- another pastime that, at $50+ a seat, is no longer within reach of folks like my Grandpa Schufman who attended the Yankees/Dodgers World Series with religious fervor (when the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn) and logged every hit, ball, strike and foul. (You'll have to ask my brother which series -- and whether it was in the 40s or the 50s -- he's the one with the scorecard and ticket stubs framed behind glass hanging over his desk.)

Are we really so swank as a general population that we can afford nothing but posh when it's time to blow off a little steam?

"They're pushing out the more moderate-income person," Mrs. Aynseworth, [a retiree from Torrance, Calif],
said. "Aren't they the people who helped build Las Vegas?"


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