Saturday, November 10, 2018

Howard Hughes

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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.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Imperial Palace

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Imperial Palace.  Never have two words meant such polar opposites to people, depending on what side of the globe they live on.  To the Japanese, it is the elegant residence of the Emperor; a sprawling park like area with Edo (E-Doe) Castle as its centerpiece, originally build in 1457.  In the 1980s, it's value was greater than that of the entire state of California.  Also in the 1980s, the Imperial Palace came to be known as a hotel casino on the Las Vegas strip.  Unlike its namesake, while inflation would increase the monetary value of the property, time would give it the reputation as one of the worst kept properties in the market, competing for the title year over year with Circus Circus.  And just like the property it shared that dubious distinction with, Imperial Palace’s ownership didn’t care.  Why should they?  They knew exactly who their demographic was and how to cater to it and they didn't seemed to be complaining.  Seeking the approval of those that looked down at their customer base wasn’t part of the business plan.

Despite the companies well-documented investment mismanagement, LINQ is Caesars proof of concept, showcasing that a total transformation can be done without imploding and starting over.  Its success no doubt encouraged other such projects in the market, like the complete reimagining of Bill's Gambling Hall, better known as Barbary Coast, into Cromwell and Monte Carlo's transformation into Park MGM.  As much as we support the preservation of history, Vegas has shown it should never be done at the expense of progress.  Preventing an abandon, outdated building from being destroyed or replaced by something better suited for the needs of today doesn't honor its place in history, it sullies its memory (I'm looking at you Moulin Rouge).  The same way no one likes to say goodbye to a loved one, time comes for us all.  Honor their memory by allowing them to pass on with grace and remember them the way they would have wanted to be remembered, bathed in neon at 2:30 in the morning.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

The Thunderbird

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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
Battle Born Pins 
Vintage Vegas Shirts