Saturday, March 31, 2007

Five Things That Could Replace The Riviera (but won't)

Why doesn't The Riviera just end it already?

The Stardust is gone, and when Echelon Place opens in 2010 it will be a very hot spot. It would be good synergy for The Riviera to close shop, implode, and build something new to open shortly (12 months or less) after Echelon Place opens.

If The Riviera was demolished, and on that spot The Stardust was built, it would be a step up.
It's an old place, and I would like to like it, but I don't.

Here is a list of 5 things I would rather see at the site of The Riviera:

1-The Stardust (could have just brought the stuff from across the street).

2-The Sands.

3-An automat. (Bring it back. Face to face interaction is overated.)

4-A drive in movie theater. For that matter, how about a drive in movie theater at Echelon Place?

5-A Las Vegas sign museum.

I certainly realize that the profit per unit area for some of these ideas would be too low, considering what can be made on The Strip. This isn't intended as an authentically persuasive argument, just something to get the mind thinking.

If any of the five items I listed, replaced The Riviera, would you go?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Las Vegas Grand Prix

There will be a Grand Prix in Las Vegas sometime between Friday 6 April 2007, and Sunday 8 April.
Have you ever read the same sentence a few times, and still not known what you just read? Because that is how I feel after viewing the official website for the Vegas Grand Prix. That is why I am unsure when the actual race is, though I suspect it is on Sunday 8 April.
I downloaded a pdf of the race course, but the background on the pdf is red, (not printer friendly).
The best I can do as far as information goes is to provide a link to the official website of the 2007 Vegas Grand Prix.

Tropicana In Todays Paper

Here is a late heads up that there is an article in the 27 March 2007 Las Vegas Review Journal about The Tropicana Hotel turning 50.

The article can be found in scetion E page 1.

The Tropicana can be found on the southeast corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Tropicana.

Apparently The Tropicana opened on 4 April 1957, and thus will turn 50 on Wednesday next week.

Cake will be served to guests throughout the week, and there will be giveaways and prizes every Friday for the rest of 2007.

Project City Center - Las Vegas Nevada

Here are two shots I took in the vicinity of Project City Center, as seen from the backside. If the parking garage at Monte Carlo still exists, I do not see it. Later this week I might be at the Monte, so I guess I will find out definitively what the parking situation is like.

Leaving Las Vegas - A Success Story

Tonights post was going to be about the movie Leaving Las Vegas, and why I think of it as a success story, rather than a sad movie, but I haven't the time to really get into it. So, back to my archives to present another Las Vegas billboard, as cheap filler material in between the substantial posts I have already done, and will surely do again; sooner or later.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Stardust - Pre Implosion Demolition

Here is a shot from Las Vegas Boulevard, of The Stardust, approximately 5 weeks before the implosion.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Frontier - Las Vegas - Ross & Supremes, Elvis

I am very surprised to have just become aware that two major music events have taken place at The New Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.
  • Elvis Presley made his Las Vegas debut at The Frontier in 1956.
  • The final performance of Diana Ross And The Supremes was at The Frontier on 14 January 1970.
An album was released of the final concert of Diana Ross And The Supremes, entitled The Final Performance. It strikes me as incredible that a live album, let alone such an important live album, was recorded at The Frontier.
I have been to The Frontier many times, and am going to make it a point to go there again this week, with the specific intention of really observing the place. I wonder if I have been walking past photographs of these musical events without realizing it.
The Frontier has been in the news lately, regarding the possibility of it being sold and closed.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Las Vegas Billboard Nostalgia

From my collection of Las Vegas billboards which I haven't seen in a while, comes this one from Industrial Avenue in Las Vegas. The right side of the ad seems not well presented. Still though, it was worth stopping for to get a good shot. (Industrial is now largely renamed Dean Martin.)
The website in the photo might not be clear. It is which actually just goes to a nightlife tab on their regular website.

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Westward Ho - Las Vegas Nostalgia

This is The Westward Ho, as it looked on the day it closed forever.

17 November 2005.

I have other photos from that day, photos of:

  • tv trucks with raised antennas

  • farewell signs across the street at The Riviera

  • signs which tell patrons The Westward Ho is closing

This photo is my favorite though. It reminds me to go in a little deeper, to look a little further.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Las Vegas Hotel Room Refrigerator

I am hungry and short on time, so here is a quick post about food, to let you know the franchise of the blog is still open.

The room refrigerator at The Mirage Hotel is one of those prestocked, electronically monitored, terror boxes. If an item is even lifted up to just look at, it will be charged to your account before you have time to place it back down.

Prices were like this:

Red Bull: $5.50

Coca Cola: $3.75

35 MM Camera w/Flash: $19.00

It's a beautiful refrigerator.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Recent Las Vegas BillBoard Nostalgia

Not too much time for my usual early morning post today, so from my archives, here are two billboards which I liked, but have not seen for a long time. If you were in Las Vegas in 2005, you may well remember the billboard for Ra, it was heavily saturated.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Las Vegas - The Stardust - Lightning Hit Sign

Lightning and Stardust.

The north side of The Stardust had a large rotating sign with three sides. It was changed regularly with movie theater style letters, and served the purpose of advertising meals and events.

In August 2004 something happened to the sign. Apparently it was struck by lightning. The damage looked like a small explosion and fire.

Nobody reported actually seeing it being struck, but for more than a few days after, the damage remained for everyone to see.

The sign was repaired after more than a week. It might have been two weeks, as I remember being surprised at how long it remained in damaged condition.

Once repaired, the sign served out its job until it was removed during the demolition phase, a month or two prior to the implosion of The Stardust.

Las Vegas - Westward Ho Expansion - Short Lived Oddity

Las Vegas buffs will enjoy this, as this item is of a short lived oddity.

Just north of The Stardust was The Westward Ho. In January 2005, The Westward Ho opened an establishment on the west side of their property, and called it simply The Ho.

The Ho had a gas station, a grocery store, and a small casino; but no hotel or motel. It was located on Industrial Boulevard between The Stardust and Circus Circus.

In November 2005 The Westward Ho closed for good. And approximately one week later, The Ho on Industrial also closed forever, even though it had been open for less than one year.

I went into The Ho only once. I remember there was a guy on a stage singing karaoke. He was horrible. The place was so unreal in a defective sort of way, that I felt like a complete observer from some future time.

Now you too can be an observer from that future time. The Ho is gone, so is The Stardust, and yet here you are looking back at them both.

To put it in some perspective, it was set up like this.

The gas station pumps were the first thing encountered when entering from Industrial Boulevard. If you walked in the first doors, you entered a grocery store. The grocery store was spacious, but didn't seem to have as much as it should have. If you continued walking, you could go through a door or doorway (whatever it was) and enter the bar and games area. They had a few live tables, and low rent machines, and a bar on the left. The bar, if I recall correctly, was somewhat similar to a Chock Full O Nuts restaurant, in shape. And behind the bar was a stage, on which horrible karaoke was sung.

Here is a photo of this wonderful and short lived place. To the left, you can see the Industrial Boulevard entrance to Circus, and to the right, in the distance, you can see the familiar horizontal lines of The Stardust. Between the two was The Ho.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Las Vegas - Al Stewart Concert - Sunset Station

Henderson, Nevada

Al Stewart, most popular for his song Year Of The Cat, will be performing at Club Madrid in Sunset Station, on Saturday 24 March 2007. Tickets start at $15, probably less than an Al Stewart CD. Of course, some of you might suggest that $15 is 15x the cost of an Al Stewart CD.

Anyway, if he is someone who you would like to see in concert, probably to hear his most well known song, this is an excellent opportunity.

Sunset Station is in Henderson, Nevada, not Las Vegas. It is a 20 minute drive from McCarran Airport. The drive and the area are good, and one probably need not be armed to the teeth in order to feel safe.

Club Madrid is a small club. There would be no such thing as a seat being too far away for this concert. I imagine that it will be set up with round tables and chairs, though I am really not sure.

5 Reasons To Attend:

1-You always wanted to hear the song live.
2-You always wanted to visit Sunset Station.
3-No Mosh Pit.
4-Okay that's 3 reasons not 5.

The cafe at Sunset Station has very good food and seating. Parking is easy.

Las Vegas - Stardust Implosion - More Aftermath

Five Hundy By Midnight - (The Original Las Vegas Podcast) featured my comments about The Stardust implosion, in their recent Show #111, so I have decided to post some more Stardust photos, beginning with this set from the aftermath.

Earlier posts of mine have shown some of the implosion aftermath, as well as shots of the debris cloud as I sought air. If you are new to this blog, you will find some of these photo sets on earlier pages.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Las Vegas - Elvis Tribute - Imperial Palace

Billboard trucks are very common on Las Vegas Boulevard. Some advertisements are not seen as much as others. Such as this one, which Elvis Presley tribute fans might appreciate. It is advertising Legends In Concert, appearing at The Imperial Palace in Las Vegas. The truck was seen at Cathedral Way and The Strip.

Las Vegas - Golden Palm Hotel Closed Permanently

Las Vegas - Golden Palm Hotel Closed Permanently

On the west side of I-15 and Tropicana is The Golden Palm Hotel. I was going to do a piece on the oddities of this place, and just found out that it closed permanently on March 12, 2007.

Thus ODDITY #1 - The Golden Palm Hotel was often so empty, and the restaurant was closed so often, that even though I was in the parking lot a few hours ago photographing the place, I did not know that it was closed while I was right there.

Shortly after photographing the place, a friend told me he thought that it was for sale. Then in my photos, I saw a sign which said it was closed for demolition. Lastly, I visited their website, which I never knew existed, and it explains they closed to become a "high rise condo-resort-casino." Before I saw that, I speculated that the site could one day be a gas station; to which my friend said it wasn't big enough.

The Golden Palm Hotel used to be a casino. At some time they stopped being a casino, and it appears that the only change they made was to take a magic marker and cross over the word "casino." Take a look at one of the photos I will include with this, and you will see the magic markered out word.

By the way, that was ODDITY #2.

ODDITY #3 is that at one time, it was an IHOP. Or at least the restaurant was. The IHOP letters can still be seen on the outside wall, although I am not sure how well it will be visible when I upload.

ODDITY #4 is that the restaurant would close for weeks or months at a time, while leaving the neon OPEN sign on. Then when the restaurant would reopen, the OPEN sign would be turned off.

I ate there once, and it was unimpressive. The next night, the place was closed. Then it opened a few months later, only to close again a few days later.

Throughout the openings and closings, they have kept up banners which proclaim Best Of Las Vegas from the local newspaper The Las Vegas Review Journal. I don't know what that is about.
A sign prices rooms at $29.99, but it was suggested to me by someone that they ought to have put up a sign which said "Free Is Expensive."

I never stayed at the hotel. I only ate at their restaurant once; and walked into and back out of, their lounge. The lounge was sort of a dark room with a bar at the left, a band area all the way ahead, and some vending machines on the right. I don't remember what they were vending. I think they had some chairs and tables too.

As you will see in one of the photos, The Golden Palm Hotel was within sight of New York New York, and the other places at the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Tropicana. Usually tourists only come to this side of Interstate 15 in order to go to major places such as The Rio, so The Golden Palm Hotel has probably been invisible to most.

I am happy to bring a little piece of this oddity to you here, in this tribute to The Golden Palm Hotel, which closed the day before The Stardust was imploded.

Across the street from The Defunct Golden Palm Hotel is a Standard gas station which looks like a Chevron. Maybe it used to be a Chevron. Something very odd about that intersection.

For the record the location of The (Defunct) Golden Palm Hotel is 3111 W. Tropicana Las vegas, Nevada 89109.

Farewell to The Golden Palm Hotel; a real Las Vegas oddity.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Las Vegas - Treasure Island - 2 Years Ago

In keeping with the post beneath this one, here is a photo of Treasure Island, from 26 months ago. Shown is the escalator/elevator over-road walkway being constructed from Fashion Show Mall to Treasure Island.

Las Vegas - Two Years Ago

Yesterday I posted a photo of The Barbary Coast from 2005. As I looked through my collection I noticed changes from then and now. Here then is a list, with accompanying photos, of changes in the way things are in Las Vegas from two years ago.

1-Barbary Coast was Barbary Coast.

2-Caesars Palace Flamingo side tower was still under construction, nearing completion.

3-The Stardust Theater was still called The Wayne Newton Theater.
3b-The Stardust still existed. Now it is gone.

I'd like to mention here that during the last days of The Stardust, I had the opportunity to walk out on the stage in the theater, and will get to posting those shots of the theater as seen from the stage.

4-Westward Ho was still open. In fact not only was The Westward Ho open two years ago, but so was their short lived Ho on the Industrial Boulevard side. (The one with the gas station and grocery store.)

5-Wynn was not yet completed, though it was nearing completion.

6-The Trump project was nothing more than a sign on the corner of Fashion Show Drive and Las Vegas Boulevard. Not even the sales office was built. Now the actual tower is nearing completion.

7-People still crossed the street between Treasure Island, and The Fashion Show Mall, on ground level. That was always a dangerous and difficult intersection for both cars and pedestrians. Now it is crossed by an escalator-elevator crossover. Treasure Island can be accessed directly by the crossover. Two years ago it was still being built. By the way, an added benefit of the crossovers is that at the right time, you can find scofflaw entrepreneurs selling bottled water at $1.00 each.

8-Palazzo, the extension of The Venetian, was nothing more than dirt being primed. It is now built to a significant degree.

I'm going to stop there at 8. Going on to 10 is too regimented. And even 10 items would be way too short to list all the changes. Bourbon Street, South Coast, on and on the list can go.

I won't be representing all of these items photographically in this particular post, but will do so in upcoming posts.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Las Vegas - Barbary Coast Nostalgia - St Patrick's Day

Tomorrow is St Patrick's Day. Here is a nostalgic shot from The Barbary Coast in 2005. I wonder if Bill's will run the same special.

Las Vegas - The Riviera - A Night About Nothing

This evening I did something which yielded almost nothing. I visited The Riviera.

Ten years ago I used the bathroom there. Then two years ago I think I walked through. I've never used their self parking though, so that was the reason I gave myself to visit the place.

First of all, I learned that the driveway which looks kind of cool, dropping below street level on The Strip, is not self parking. Going north on Las Vegas Boulevard, I followed the arrow signs and made a right on Riviera Boulevard. I never knew that it was called Riviera Boulevard. I had always called it, "that street across from Circus Circus."

Well I made that right as the arrow indicated, and was getting awfully close to The Las Vegas Hilton before another sign indicated self parking. I took a picture of the sign with the Las Vegas Hilton in the background. It seemed I was closer to it than The Riviera.

Anyway after making the right, it's another few turns until getting in the garage, and I imagine that when the place is crowded, the system quickly breaks down. Only thing nice about the self parking was that it had a view I did not expect. Unfortunately I have learned this several days after The Stardust was imploded.

By the way, I used the staircase, as the elevator seemed unnecesarily creepy. Maybe it was just the desolation and darkness.

Entering through the rear, it felt like I was walking through a major bank office building in New York. It sucked.

I followed the pathway patterned in the carpet, past closed stores, and into an odd angled hallway which made me feel as if I was going the wrong way. I kept my focus on the carpet path and finally got to the main area. I walked around twice because I was hoping to stumble upon the real main area. After two circuits of the place, I knew that that was the real main area.
The night was comfortable and they had the doors wide open to let people in. Or out, as in my case. Up the few steps and out the door, and I was on Las Vegas Boulevard, right near where I had made the original right turn that began this roundabout.

I crossed The Strip and walked in the direction of The Stardust. There is a McDonalds between the dirt lot which was The Westward Ho, and the dirt lot which was The Stardust. Funny place to put a McDonalds, between two dirt lots. This McDonalds is boasting with a sign that they will be turning into a two story McDonalds soon. I am looking forward to attending the implosion of the old one.

Right after McDonalds is a fence which before it was a fence, was the entrance to the sports book side of The Stardust. Two men were sleeping in the street against the fence. I took their picture.

Up the street some more is the remains of the main sign of The Stardust. That was the main entrance. Across Las Vegas Boulevard from the old main entrance is a souvenir store which I imagine got some good traffic from The Stardust. Now, the place wasn't out of business, but I was surprised to see it closed. Maybe I am wrong, but I don't remember seeing it closed, and anyway I don't think t was even midnight. I took a picture.

I took a few more shots of The Area Formerly Known As Stardust TAFKAS, because I have been photographing the place so intensely for many months that I do not know what to do now. Then I headed back in the direction I came from.

The last time I was in this area, it was smoked out from the implosion, so I decided to walk through Circus Circus in order to see if the air had yet cleared. While I am happy to report clear air, it was also hot. Hot air under the big tent. Outside it wasn't hot or cold, it was simply comfortable. Inside Circus it was actually hot.
I picked up a free copy of What's On magazine; Stevie Nicks is on the cover and she looks good, in sepia.
Back across the street, followed the carpet path, to exit out the back, and up the creepy staircase; to eventually come home and write this, a night about nothing.

Las Vegas - Elvis Tribute Artist - Trent Carlini

Someone over at asked about Elvis tribute artists appearing in Las Vegas. When I saw the billboard this evening, and remembered the question, I had to take a picture.

Trent Carlini is performing at the Sahara.

[Regular post to follow shortly.]

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Las Vegas Photos - Boardwalk Hotel

A photo of the Boardwalk Hotel from a year ago. This was 2 months after it closed, and 2 months before it was imploded. The site is now part of Project City Center.

The Boardwalk was on the Las Vegas Strip just north of The Monte Carlo.

Las Vegas - Stardust Implosion - Aftermath (group b)

Before and after photographs of The Stardust in Las Vegas. Here we see the main face of The Stardust as it looked while still open in October 2006, and a comparison photograph looking the same direction the day after the implosion.

Las Vegas - Stardust Implosion - Aftermath

Well, The Stardust is gone. Even though I watched the implosion in person, coming back in daylight and seeing it all destroyed, was uncomfortable.

Right after the implosion, the darkness of night, and ensuing debris cloud, made it seem as if The Stardust was still there. When the building dropped, the dust came on very thick. At that point the building could not have been seen, even it it was still standing.

Walking away there was still the point of reference, the vertical arms which had held the now-gone main sign. The sign arms and lower display section were partially visible as the cloud rolled across Las Vegas Boulevard. So except for the very moment of seeing the building drop, there was no moment to look over the site and allow the new visual impress of an open lot to set on my mind. To replace what my mind knows and expects. To confront the phantom perception.

The time right after the implosion was spent getting away, and getting air, and feeling dreamed out while walking through the oddball pseudo snowstorm of dust on a warm night, through darkness and white ground, and past neon lights softened by the haze. Just hours earlier I had walked those streets among great numbers of people. But after the implosion, and after a brief time spent getting air at a store, Las Vegas Boulevard had become rather desolate. Stragglers here and there. Everyone else had already found a place, whether it was their real destination or just nearby shelter.

It it is no wonder that when I returned the next day, in the light of afternoon, that I was uncomfortable at seeing clearly, what the clouds and action had obscurred when The Stardust was imploded.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Las Vegas - The Stardust Implosion - More Details

The way it began.

Multiple syncrolite beams of white xenon turned on in a fanned out formation. They all were raised to a vertical position, forming a cohesive beam of light. This beam of light then tipped over so that the right corner of The Stardust was illuminated. It remained like that for 4 seconds, and then went dark.

This movement seemed to me to be a sort of salute, similar to the manner of performing present arms, with a saber.

After the salute went dark, the fireworks began.

Five individual firework shots were launched in succession from left to right. This volley of five was done three times, and upon the 15th shot (the end of the 3rd volley) the full force of the fireworks came on.

Fireworks are artistic, and it is difficult or pointless to present logic in order to substantiate a particular color or shape. But somehow this particular display was the perfect display to represent The Stardust. It wasn't just a random variety of fireworks thrown to the sky with the main concern being coming in at the agreed upon cost.

This display looked like what The Stardust would have looked like, if The Stardust was a fireworks display instead of a hotel.

The final fireworks shot was at 3 minutes 21 seconds after the first. It ended distinctly, and was the equivalent of a drummer striking a snare three times.

In the momentary still, the crowd cheered the end. But the building came back to life with an encore the likes of which I have never seen.

The building became lit with fire at the center bottom, and like a fast fuse, the fire ran to the left and right; it went up the sides and met again at the top center of the building. Some more firework shots were launched over the The Stardust as the entire front perimeter was ablaze and flashing incredibly. And then the number 10 lit like a fire on the entire face of the building, and the crowd which was long since in the hands of the performer, called out, ten, nine, and so on, as one fiery number blazed into another until reaching "1."

The flashing continued at the perimeter. A simultaneous launch of 5 fireworks shot not too high over the roof, immediately followed by another simultaneous launch which crowned the first five. Then the thunder of the actual implosion began. The building collapsed, from the center and left side first, and the right (Las Vegas Boulevard side) falling into the center of the building. The center of itself. The smaller building which was also imploding at the same time was quickly obscured by the smoke.

The display was so incredible that when the implosion finally came, it did not seem real.

When the countdown numbers were lit on the building, I could not believe that I was seeing and experiencing what I was seeing and experiencing.

People stood thrilled and stunned by what they had witnessed. Then the smarter ones started to get out of the area, because the same smoke which obscured the smaller building was quickly obscuring all of us.

Somebody screamed "run." There is no point in merely speaking "run" it must be screamed.

There was laughter and shouting. The Stardust could not have been seen, even if it had still been standing. Walking north on Las Vegas Boulevard, I felt like I was in some bizarre mix of a dream and warm snowstorm.

After a brief stay in a store, I headed back out on The Strip. The Stratosphere could not be seen. The ground was white. Everything was odd. I walked north to Circus Circus, and sat down on a bench in a shopping area. I felt not well. The smoke or ash or whatever it was, had been intense, and was not over. Employees were walking around wearing air masks, (dust masks ?). Some people held shirts over their faces.

I drank water and called a friend. No answer. So I called the hotline and left a message describing the implosion. I don't think that I made too much sense, and quickly bailed out of the call.

I think I said something like "Hi this is Roy and I am choking to death in Circus Circus."

Trying to revive myself I walked around, and went to a small grocery shop near a timeshare stand. The guy on line in front of me was complaining that if they were going to blow up a building, they should have let people know. He lit a cigarette as he walked out. I got some drinks and made my way to the garage.

Outside cars were covered in white. Some windshields had been written on comically, by running a finger through the ash of The Stardust. I made it to my car, and feeling somewhat better, called the Hundy hotline again. I was more coherent, but probably not as funny as my earlier distressed call.

Exiting out the Industrial side, I drove south. Off to my left I saw a beautiful crescent moon not too high. Something was odd about seeing it. Then I realized that I was able to see the moon because The Stardust no longer stood to obscure that point in the sky.