Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Dust of the (star)dust ...

Continued from last post ...

The only constant in Las Vegas is change!

Las Vegas is always re-defining and re-inventing itself.

It seems to go in phases. From the 1950s to the 1960s it was Old West and Desert Theme. In the 1960s and 1970s it was Mob Rule.

In the 1990s we had the Great Disneyland Experiment, a new "Family Friendly" Las Vegas with theme parks, pirate battles, and Lions and Tigers and Sharks (Oh My!). That didn't last long, LOL! :)

In the late 1990s and 2000s it was bigger, bigger, bigger, and upscale, upscale, upscale. Every property on the Strip aspired to be the biggest (and most upmarket) with $200 rooms, $100 dinners in absentee celebrity chefs' eponymous eateries, hotels within hotels, and yes, that oh-so-trendy velvet rope ultra-lounge for the El-Lay 20-bopper party crowd!

Marina became (the new) MGM Grand, Hacienda became Mandalay Bay, Dunes became Bellagio, Desert Inn became Wynn (and Encore), Sands became Venetian (and Palazzo).

San Remo became Hooters. (Does that one count?) :)

Boardwalk is becoming City Center.

Stardust is becoming Echelon Place -- uh, not so fast! Hold that thought. ...

But anyway ...

Several weeks before the Big Bang ...





From the perspective of the Frontier parking lot (at that time the Frontier was still open) it looks almost normal by day.



Looking closer, the demolition was obvious.



At night, however, it was eerie and foreboding, illuminated mainly by the reflected glow from the still-open.







Here are some various shots of the closed property, taken from whatever vantage points I could find. Many were shot through gaps in the fence.



















About a week before the Big Bang ...

The denuded West Tower, ca. 1991, stands tall, ready to meet her fate.





Likewise the East Tower and Villa are stripped to the bones.



Try as I might, I could not rearrange my schedule to be present for the actual implosion.

In a way, I didn't want to see the implosion and concomitant celebration. I really would not have felt like celebrating at all. :( I admit to getting misty-eyed seeing the Westward Ho lying there, fatally injured, waiting for the bulldozers to haul off her unwanted remains. Had I seen the 'Dust bite the dust, so to speak, I think I would have come totally unglued. :(

It would have been like witnessing the execution of a dear friend, one I had known well, and one who served me well. A friend whose only crime was the capital offense of showing her age, of not being "hip" enough to hobnob with Paris and Britney and the anointed others, but choosing the company of the girls and boys from the other side of the tracks.

Oh, and my did we know how to party! Oh yes, we certainly had more fun together than Britney and Lindsay and Paris and ... the only difference being that we didn't get paid $20,000.00 just to show up!

Yeah, yeah, I know, you're here to see pictures, and not listen to me motormouth and wax nostalgic and such, right?

And then it happened ... >>>>BANG!<<<<

I returned a few days after.

I took four rolls of film with me as I set off to shoot the aftermath. I intended to take maybe 90 shots or so. (Yes, I shoot film exclusively.) I ended up shooting less than one full roll. There wasn't really that much to see. It was really one big pile surrounded by several smaller piles.





Everything in the vicinity was covered in a thick coating of dust.



Stardust to dust!



What, no room specials? No $5.95 prime rib? No Tony Roma's ribs? No bonus players club points? No Wayne Newton, no Rick Thomas, no Lido, no Enter The Night? :( Not even thanks for 48 wonderful years? :(

(No Frank Rosenthal Show?) :)

One thing there still was plenty of, unfortunately, is pornslapper litter! :(



So, where'd the sign go???!!!



Fortunately the greatest sign ever to grace the Strip will be preserved for posterity, remembering the days of Vegas the way it should be.

Epilogue:

Stardust was to become Echelon Place, a mega-complex of a mega-casino and something like six hotels! (Hey, I need only one room in one hotel, not six!) :)

Then something happened that the Powers That Be did not expect, the recession! Work on Echelon Place remains on hold as of the date of this post.

The Powers That Be sure blew it this time! They killed a cash cow, the Stardust. It wasn't the biggest or the most opulent, but it was a thriving popular place. What do they have to show for it? A huge vacant tract with no cash flow! Way to go ... NOT! :(

Will this to-be phoenix ever rise from the dust of the Stardust? Time will tell.

Oh well, so it goes (and so do I). :)

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