Saturday, February 24, 2018

The Thunderbird

The Thunderbird is a property I've never paid much attention to, for no particular reason.  I wasn't offended by it's Native American theme, that's not really my style.  That being said, I will say the theme was about as interesting to me as the cowboy motif at the El Rancho or the Last Frontier.  Being a child of technology, harkening back to a day when it didn't have anything isn't my idea of a vacation, it sounds like torture.  One of the most fascinating things about Las Vegas is itunique ability to take things I normally wouldn't find interesting and make them appealing.  The Thunderbird might be the perfect example of that phenomenon. 

If you are interested in more information regarding the Thunderbird, check out..., Del Webb: A Man. A Company, The Strip: Las Vegas and the Architecture of the American Dream & Gambling on a Dream: The Classic Las Vegas Strip: 1930-1955

Friday, December 22, 2017

Wayne McAllister

Architecture, if done well, is much more than just the designing of a building; its creating a durable structure that is not only functional but beautiful.  Every building is designed by an architect however it takes vision and skill to transcend the steel, concrete and glass jungles of major metropolitan cities to create things that stands out in someone’s mind, and in some cases in history, as exceptional representations of the craft, inspiring future generations to take architecture to the next level; to continue to evolve with science and create something timeless.  While the best to ever live are often unknown to the public at large, their creations are known around the world and live on for decades and in some cases centuries after they are gone. 

While he had a hand in designing Binion’s Horseshoe, the Fremont is the only remaining resort Wayne McAllister was responsible for in Las Vegas.  Nevertheless, his legacy far transcends the buildings he created.  While most people have no idea who he is, Wayne’s work and influence on Las Vegas is unmistakable and timeless.  The Vegas vibe and all things cool about it can be related back to or somehow influenced by him, like a game of 6 degrees of Wayne McAllister.  So the next time you find yourself starting to tingle from the special Vegas euphoria, remember who invented that feeling, think of your favorite marquee and throw the dice. 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The Dunes Hotel & Casino


The Dunes is a property whose affinity for, I cannot explain.  I can easily explain some of the things I like about it, things that I think are cool and amenities I would have liked to enjoy; but that doesn’t explain why.  But let me ask you this, why are you faithful to your spouse?  Why do you love them?  I know you can explain to me what you find attractive about them, your favorite features, their personality but that doesn’t explain why.  We have no control over what we find attractive, we just do.  Perhaps that explains why I like the Dunes so much.

While it may have never be the financial success it aspired to be, the Dunes can be counted among the Sands and the Stardust as some of the most iconic in Las Vegas history.  All 3 evolved with the city, a journey that caused them to end up looking dramatically different than the original concept they opened with.  It's also fair to say that their loss was all for the greater good, not only for the city but for their legend.  The way the untimely deaths of people like Kirk Cobain cause them to be idyllically remembered so is true about iconic Vegas properties. Even if at the end they are usually only shadows of the properties they were in their prime, their legacy is their ability to be remembered in whatever incarnation we choose to remember them in, the very definition of the word timeless.

If you are interested in learning more about the Dunes, check out some of the places we sourced to write their story.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley virtually invented celebrity, as we know it.  Unfortunately, he also became its first victim.  Imagine being a shy mama’s boy who never matured past his late teens to early 20s because, at a time when most people are learning who they are from their mistakes, everyone around Elvis told him he was a genius.  He was encouraged to not let people change him, go with your instincts.  Elvis Presley not only became Las Vegas biggest draw but changed the face of music and pop culture forever.  Unfortunately his memory has become bastardized by the myriad of performers who impersonate his talent during the darkest times of his life.  While most don’t do this with malicious intent, fat Elvis has become a common caricature in Vegas representing one of the most amazing, iconic performers of all time. 

There will never be another Elvis Presley the same way you can’t lose your virginity twice.  Elvis invented, inadvertently, modern day celebrity.  Artists of the time and over the years have expressed how important Elvis Presley was in their lives.  Bob Dylan said listing to Elvis for the 1st time was like busting out for jail.  John Lennon said before Elvis Presley, there was nothing.  The fact is Elvis Presley changed everything.  A month before I began writing the piece, Elvis was nothing more than a curiosity to me.  One throwaway visit to Graceland during a weekend visit to Memphis that I thought would be nothing more than a “I’ve been to Graceland” sparked a curiosity that not only inspired me to write this piece but to explore far more about Elvis life and career than I would ever need for a 360 Vintage Vegas segment.  In short, despite all the kitch you have come to know, check out Graceland if you get the chance.  It might just change your perspective of the life and legacy of Elvis Aron Presley.

If you are interested in learning more about Elvis Presley, we would recommend Peter Guralnick's books Last Train to Memphis: the Rise of Elvis Presley & Careless Love: The unmaking of Elvis Presley.