Saturday, November 10, 2018

360 Vintage Vegas: Howard Hughes (PCP)

Howard Hughes
It’s a shame that the last 10 years of his life largely overshadows all he accomplished prior to his decent into madness.  Truth be told, Howard Hughes was a genius; an innovator in business, aviation, film and in his lifetime, was one of the most financially successful people in the world.  His work ethic was legendary as was his disregard for his own safety, especially when it came to his first true love, flying.  That disregard would eventually cause him to be involved in the plane crash of an experimental aircraft that almost killed him.  While he did eventually recover, he would never be the same. In chronic pain for the rest of his life, his over medication to address the issue pushed his struggles with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder into stratospheric levels, causing him to become the eccentric recluse most remember him for.  Despite all that, what Hughes did during his time in Las Vegas helped the market evolve from the seedy place run by mobsters to a respectable industry; even if that wasn’t his intention and resulted purely because it was his name attached to the legendary great acquisition of Las Vegas

Whatever you think you know about Howard Hughes, he was undeniably a genius by any definition of the word.  The Hughes family made their millions by creating a drill bit that dramatically improved the way oil was drilled for.  At the age of 19, after his father's death, Howard took over ToolCo and used his family’s wealth to revolutionize multiple industries.  With RKO Studios, he changed the way movies were made, introducing violence and sex to the cinema.  He was one of the leading innovators in aviation, setting multiple world records. That knowledge was so valued, Hughes Aircraft become one of the US government’s largest private contractors for military planes, and his commercial airline TWA was a leader in the evolution of commercial flight.  Sadly it was his refusal to be confined by the metaphorical walls he was told he had to operate within, in whatever he decided we wanted to do, that ended up causing him to be confined by the actual walls he would spent last 20 years of his life in, seclude from the world.  And even in those constraints, he was able to change, not only another industry but the reputation of an entire state, all while in constant pain, terrified of just about everything imaginable outside of that room on the 9thfloor of the Desert Inn.  Even if what he accomplished was nothing more than a symbolic shift in the gaming industry, Howard Hughes will forever be known as one of the most important people involved in the evolution of Las Vegas.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

E-283: Et Tu Brute?

Random Vegas
In 2003, new owners MGM Mirage announced plans to move away from the family friendly concept at Treasure Island in favor of something more traditionally Vegas. The property rebranded itself “TI”, removed the skull and crossbones marquee and replaced it with a digital “TI” sign and replaced the pirate show with a sexed-up theme called the “Sirens of TI”

Twitpic of the week

This week's winner, brought to you by @BSKphoto, is one of the best aerial photos of the strip I've ever seen. In addition to its neon glory, it evokes hope in the wake of last week's grim assessment that the forewarned damage unimaginative additions to the market and the adaptation of nickel and dime fees would do to Vegas has come to fruition.  This photo reminds that we created this city. We agreed to the house advantage in exchange for a fair shot and an unforgettable experience.  And now it falls to us to point out which party is in breach of contract and support those that still honor our original deal. A few times in human history, people have the opportunity to effect real change and rage against the machine.  Now is one of those times and you only need to be brave enough to try and save the city you love with the most powerful weapon imaginable in a capitalist economy, your money.  Years of complaining about it on social media has not encouraged legislation to stop Resort Fees or discourage Vegas properties from continuing to charge and increase them year over year.  But 6 months of declining revenues has delivered the punch to the face ownership had coming to them.  It has struck fear in the heartless and mocked the outdated Gordon Gecko philosophy that greed is good.  Unfortunately a shock and awe attack will not win us this war.  It will require a prolonged effort that, if we're lucky, will have casualties in casino leadership.  And from those ashes the opportunity to discover the next visionary leaders needed to restore Las Vegas to it's former glory, lest we be required to claim another inept Caesar until that leadership is revealed to us.


Saturday, October 27, 2018

E-282: O'Sphere Irish Bar

Random Vegas 
Gary Loveman was the perfect fit for CEO in the Harrah’s business model, offering a quality experience at a reasonable price.  Despite the wealth he acquired from his various business successes, Gary and his family didn’t live like millionaires.  True, they did have a vacation home on the beach in North Carolina and at one point Loveman did have a Ferrari but he ended up selling it because he said it wasn’t practical.  Not wanting the invasion of privacy, the Loveman family even elected to clean their own home ever Saturday rather than hire a housekeeper.  It was reported that one of the weekly choirs the CEO of Harrah’s had was to clean the toilets.  (Jackpot - Harrah's Winning Secrets to Customer Loyalty) 

Twitpic of the week 

Creedence Clearwater Revival.  3 words I would have never thought would find their way into a Twitpic of the week monolog.  But every time I look at this week's winner from @vegasphotographthe phrase "I see a bad moon rising" comes to mind.  Not just because it features a brilliant oversized moon hovering over a collection of properties but because it's a fitting metaphor for what's happening to the market and the danger it finds itself in.  Unlike any time before in Vegas history, the market is experiencing a slump that has nothing to do with the economy, it's the current experience available at fault in this case.  Resort fees, Pay for Parking, CNF charges and the likes have taken the record breaking attendance the city has seen over the last few years and given all those first time visitors an experience that won't encourage them to return.  

When Vegas was growing up, even the mafia understood the most important thing to establish with the customer is that the game is fair.  The house already has the advantage so there is no reason to build in scams to cheat the customer out of their money.  That philosophy developed trust that has lasted over a millennia and made Las Vegas the #1 tourist destination in the world.  Today, that trust has been broken and the market has lost its integrity.  Visitors now need to keep a vigilant eye out for the metaphorical shell game that does exists around every corner.  You're room doesn't cost what it was advertised to costyour meal is more expensive than the price of your food and the things that made Vegas different from every other place on the planet are falling away one by one.  Uninspired industry leadership like Jim Murren are succeeding in turning the Las Vegas experience into one that can be had in every other major city in America.  And with gambling becoming legal across the country, if the Vegas experience is no different than the one available back home, why go.  There was a time when people would ask me what they needed to do during their first visit to Las Vegas.  That response used to always start with "There's so much to do it just depends on the experience you want to have".  Today, it begins with "Beware." 


Saturday, October 13, 2018

E-281: De-WTFing

Random Vegas
In the original King Tut exhibit at Luxor, the hieroglyphs were authentic replications and King Tut’s tomb is said to be exactly the way it was originally found by archeologists (Super Casino)

Twitpic of the week
It may be another end of an era or just a little de-what the fucking. Either way, @VitalVegas and @JamesInLasVegas shared this week that Harrah's appears to be the next Vegas property to de-theme.  Truth be told, the Mardi Gras/Carnival theme has always felt a bit shoehorned into the space originally designed to be a riverboat when it opened in 1973.  It wasn't renovated into its current incarnation until Harrah's bought the property in 1992.  Renovations in recent years to the properties interior have already removed many of the other themed elements, most notably in the hotel check in area and Porte cochere.  While a de-theming is only speculated what is clear is that, post Planet Hollywood marquee renovation, Harrah's is next for an LED upgrade and that includes replacing the north corner jester riding another jester bird thing.  So long old friend, you always sort of creeped us out.


Saturday, October 6, 2018

360 Vegas POV: Casino E-4

In this installment, we continue our analysis of Martin Scorsese's movie Casino by analyzing the view from Ace's Penthouse when Nicky comes to visit and the car ride Ace and Nicky take around Fremont St. 

Saturday, September 29, 2018

E-280: Flat Billed Baseball Hat...Slightly Eschew

Random Vegas
Celine Dion makes $500,000 per show.  For a typical 90-minute show, that' $5,555 a minute (@VitalVegas)
Twitpic of the week

Cynical snarkyness aside, the booze wall at the NoMad bar, shared this week by @EaterVegasis an impressive view.  Overwhelming in scope, the wall of good times glows gold with a seemingly endless variety of options to elevate your Vegas experience despite the glaring omission of bar top gaming.  It's been misunderstood that our incessant critique of Park MGM represented a dislike in the project which is not accurate.  Ours is one of disappointment in the gross over spending on a poorly planned, uninspired idea.  No one will dispute that Monte Carlo was in need of a reimagining.  But when you compare MGMs investment plan to what Caesars did to Imperial Palace, arguably the worst property on the Vegas strip, it's laughable just how foolish the plan of taking a low-end resort and turning it into one that competes with Bellagio and Aria was.  Despite all that, the amazing thing about Vegas is the people it attracts and the inspiration it evokes.  Fortunately, even the current court jester of Vegas CEOs Jim Murren can't bland that down to the infinitely forgettable.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

E-279: Straw Snorkeling

Random Vegas
In total, The Landmark sat empty and unused for 1/3 of her life. First from 1963-1969 then again from 1990-1995. (

Twitpic of the week

Much like a Washington DC memorial, Lucky Dragon stands as a reminder of something tragic.  Okay, maybe not as tragic as the events that inspire said monuments but you come up with a better metaphor for that property.  As if it's location wasn't a large enough hurdle to overcome, by electing to aggressively cater to Asian gamblers only, no amount of ownership confidence was going to help this concept succeed.  And odds are, it will never look any better than it does in the photo captured this week by @vegasphotograph

Saturday, September 15, 2018

E-278: 360VV7 Fall 2018

Random Vegas 
Originally in 1989, Stratosphere was only meant to be thousand foot tall neon sign for Bob Stupak's Vegas World.  The concept evolved in 1990 into an observation tower that would be the signature attraction for the property.  It wasn't until Stupak had to bring on Grand Casinos as investment partners to finish the project that the idea of rebranding was introduced.  In 1995, 3 years after construction started on the tower, Vegas World was closed for remodeling and expansion.  It would reopen in 1996 as Stratosphere. 

Twitpic of the Trip 

It comes in waves, the realization that I actually live in Las Vegas and exactly what that means.  For example, as fun and relaxing as 360 Vegas Vacations are, there was always a weighted "To-Do" list that came with them.  What's changed since I was last in Vegas?  What do I need to see and experience? How do I get it all done in the 5-6 days I'm in Vegas?  All that's gone now.  Now it's just an opportunity to hangout with my friends and meet some amazing new ones in the greatest city in the world, aka my home.  It hit me unlike ever before the 1st Saturday following #360VV7, typically more of a lachrymose time as recollections of our latest adventures are still fresh and the countdown to when I can return begins.  This time, I was back on the strip, wandering about, documenting another installment of 360 FHE.  And it hit me...this is your life now.  You never have to leave Vegas again.  You're home.  And no matter what else happens, no matter how dark the corners of your mind become or how trapped you become in them, never forget that you're a two-time life lottery winner.  You got the girl and domestic bliss in Las Vegas.  Then, while looking at the photo captured by official 360 Vegas Vacation photographer @japluto09a mischievous idea came to mind...I'm gonna wreck this fuckin town. 

360VV7 Flickr
360VV7 SmugMug
(@Japluto09 - Official 360VV Photographer)