Monday, March 12, 2007

The Stardust, the end.

This is it. Today is the big day. Here we are at the end.

For a short while after The Stardust closed, the exterior lights remained on. Then the reddish neon (which composed half of the blue-red two tone) went dark, and the STARDUST sign on the roof, was turned off. At the time, the building was still illuminated by blue lights. It was very odd to see The Stardust as a single blue tone.

The opportunity to see The Stardust in that phase was short lived, as soon the entire site went dark. Windows removed. Ground level buildings demolished. The famous three side rotating sign (the one which was struck by lightning in 2004) got much less press than the main sign, and was removed rapidly.

And then the famous main sign, over many days, was taken apart and removed.

It is worth noting that the red numbers 1958-2006 on the goodbye message of the main sign, were not on the sign at the time that The Stardust closed. They were added to the sign some time after 1 November 2006.

Today, (technically tomorrow) we come to the end of a beautiful and comfortable place, which used the outdated word "sundries" at their 24 hour shop, and had every right to do so proudly.

During the final days of The Stardust, the employees wore black Stardust t-shirts on which were written among other things, CLOSING TEAM.

For television purposes, a few select employees wore more formal attire on the final morning. Aside from those few, everyone had the closing team shirts on. It was sad and beautiful. Greatness does not come often.

So here we are at the end. Twelve hours from now (even less actually as I type) the Las Vegas Strip will be eerily without traffic. Police cars will be parked in intersections with their lights flashing. The Stardust, the shell that is left of it, will be illuminated by xenon lights.

Television reporters will provide live coverage in Las Vegas, and tomorrow news across the country will cover the implosion as a human interest story. The reporting will be television slick, delivered without authentic passion. It will be a news story.

To many people, The Stardust was a stage - a theater, in which parts of their lives played out. It does not seem that there are too many places where a person can be proud and happy to work. The people who worked those last weeks - the people who closed The Stardust, were just incredible.

As the place the employees loved was in it's final hour, the employees were graciously taking care of guests, and handing out free gifts.

And as the band played as they walked, leading a line of all visitors from inside near The Stardust Theater, through the building to outside the main entrance, I saw something that I will not forget. There were some employees standing inside the building who waved and said goodbye to everyone in the line that went past. I was there, and I have watched this many times on my film.

Finally the band led us out through the main front doors, and ended the music, and it was over.

Then for the first time, I saw that the entrance driveway had been blocked with an orange construction barrier; and it hit hard.

The Stardust is now a windowless shell that the wind blows through.

To many who are just visiting tonight, and to the inebriates who will be screaming, (as inebriates so like to do at implosions) the fall of The Stardust will just be an incredible event to witness.

But they don't know what I know. And that is that all that The Stardust has ever been - no place else will ever be.

My next post will be after the implosion of The Stardust, less than twelve hours from now. I have camera batteries to charge, and nothing more to say. Except...


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