Monday, May 16, 2011

Vegas: Lost and Found

Yesterday, I took a Sunday drive; thought I would buy a used book to read for this infusion of Tysabri I have today. Turns out that Unicorn Used Books - now known as Book Magician is closed on Sunday, but that didn't stop me from from taking some pictures and getting myself into a productively grumpy mood. As you drive around Vegas, some things become abundantly clear about the state of the city.

Luxor Hotel - Las Vegas
Land of Ginger

Nothing says class and prestige like pasting a giant poster of Carrot Top to the side of your hotel. This is the new big thing in five star, luxury hotels. Really, I heard the Waldorf=Astoria in New York is pasting a cartoon picture of an angry Statue of Liberty being pooped on by a giant pigeon.

Elvis is not here

Is this the kind of building Elvis would be in the building? Oh come one - this is NOT Elvis' style .. The Dubai owned Aria Resort and Casino is not the kind of place Elvis would've rolled into with his land yacht Cadillac. I have nothing against the Aria. It is a beautiful hotel ..  top notch but way too stuffy and assuming to be Elvis' thang.

Aria Hotel - Elvis Cirque

 The Rio Deal

I was there at almost the beginning of the Rio Suite Hotel & Casino. I was hired by Don Marrandino and Tony Marnell. Tony Marnell is an architect and casino owner, who designed many of Las Vegas' most iconic casinos (more on that later) and there was a lot more to the Rio's design than meets the eye.

Rio's Older Tower
The old tower (20 stories) has a quarter red circle against a blue background. This represents the sun and the sky of Rio de Janerio. The newer tower (40 stories) also has a symbolic design. The middle light blue and the two curving red bars represent the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio.

Rio's Newer Tower
I'm not going to get into why a symbolic figure of Christ is on a casino .. you would have to ask Mr. Marnell (I have my own suspicion) however it's particularly ironic that the new owners Harrah's would plaster a giant portrait of Penn and Teller, well know magicians and atheists over the symbol of Jesus.

MCA Away

Below are pictures of the old Marnell Corrao Associates. Like I said, I worked for Tony Marnell many years ago at the Rio. I never met Corrao, although I did get within three feet of his MiG-17 fighter jet in a hanger in Ontario, California.

Marnell Corrao Associates

Many of the most famous and iconic casinos and resorts were designed in that building: Bellagio, The Mirage, The Excalibur, Caesar's Palace, the Forum Shops and the Rio. I remember this office very well. It was designed like a mini-kingdom. In the middle was Tony Marnell's office which represented the castle and then in a circle around that office were all the fiefdoms - architecture, drafting, interior design, project management .. It was intimidating, especially for the poor vendors and subcontractors. But it worked .. just look at the results.

Now it's closed and I think this reflects the condition Las Vegas is in. I won't go into it in full detail in this post but Vegas has gone through four major transitions: The Rat Pack, Bill Bennett's Quarter Queens, Wynn Dynasty and now what I call -- JDGS: Just Don't Give a Shit.


In the boom of the 90's anyone could make money at gambling, even Trump. You really didn't need much of an understanding of gambling or odds. That's when all these corporations flooded in and purchased Las Vegas. The last group were a bunch of investors from Dubai. What the hell do a bunch of Muslim business men know about gambling. No offense to Muslims - honorable religion but they don't gamble or borrow money.

And then it all crashed down and now we have giant plastic posters of ginger comedians plastered on the side of our once luxurious hotel.

So that is that .. have to go to the hospital now .. Next .. the original sushi place.

My first sushi experience in the late 80's

Copyright 2011 - Cram / Kmuzu All rights reserved - No pictures or content may by copied, posted, modified or published without prior written permission from me. Please just drop me an email, I'm very accomodating

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Please keep everything PG or under or else I'll sick Elvis on you.