Leaving the building
For a good, long time, Elvis Presley was as big a cultural icon in death as he was in life. Maybe bigger. But The King’s charmed afterlife finally may be going the way of phone booths, pet rocks and wood-paneled station wagons.
Last month, we saw the abrupt closure of Graceland Presents: The Elvis Exhibition, a 28,000-square-foot museum space at the Westgate. The exhibition had a 10-year contract, but it lasted less than a year before financial difficulties erupted between the resort and its tenant. The exhibition was not drawing enough people to cover expenses.
Back in 2012, Cirque du Soleil’s Viva Elvis at the Aria closed after just two years. Most Cirque shows are wildly popular and do not close — consider the 22-years-and-counting run of Mystére. But Viva Elvis suffered from negative reviews and low attendance.
As for the once-ubiquitous Elvis impersonators and tribute acts, they’re a dwindling species as well. Once upon a time, young brides and grooms may have relished having a costumed Elvis officiate their Las Vegas wedding, but The King’s kitsch appeal is struggling to transcend generations.
Someday, perhaps, there will be an Elvis revival, akin to the sudden stardom of Alexander Hamilton, the Founding Father who’s the unlikely subject of a popular Broadway musical. But it probably will require something more innovative than the sanitized storylines backed by Presley’s estate.
And what of an increasingly Elvis-free Las Vegas? Are we losing something special if The King is no longer synonymous with a Vegas vacation? It may trigger a nostalgic regret for some baby boomers, but let’s face it: Baby boomers are getting old (51 to 70), and the most passionate Elvis fans among them are in the more ramshackle half of that range.
Every generation creates its own icons. Las Vegas thrives by adapting to what’s next.
Point/counterpoint: dress to ingest
Ralph Waldo Emerson said that the sense of being well-dressed gives a feeling of inward tranquility that religion is powerless to bestow. True enough, but the main reason to look good when you dine out is that your right to look like crap ends where my appetite and line of sight begins. When I go to good restaurants — which is, like, all the time — my desire for good food and a lovely evening is constantly under siege from fat guys in cargo shorts, and misshapen feet in open-toed shoes. (I’m talking about men. Rarely have I seen women looking as disgusting as men do in fine dining establishments.) Yes, you have a constitutional right to “have it your way” when it comes to how you dress, but not when your bad taste inserts itself into my sense of enjoyment. And when you’re in a nice place, it’s a matter of respect, to the restaurant and the patrons, to present yourself in a manner that reflects the surroundings. If you want to look like a slob while you’re eating out, well, that’s what food trucks and Applebee’s are for.
2. Don’t mind me, I’m just joining simple comfort and fancy food — why does that bother you?
Do my old jeans ruin your osso bucco? Do my sneakers erode your wine’s clean, woodsy finish? Does my Ed Hardy shirt deflate your scallop soufflé? Okay, I’ll give you that one — those shirts leave a bad taste in my mouth, too. Otherwise, that just sounds silly. It’s hard to see how my louche attire should affect anyone else’s dinner. I mean, why are you looking over here, anyway? (btw, I mean the general “you,” not Mr. Curtas specifically.) I know what you’re thinking: It’s about respect — to the chef, the food, other guests. Fair enough. On the other hand, paying $$$ to dine among snobs also shows plenty of respect. Anyway, unless he’s a king, nothing entitles a guy to control everything his eyes might fall upon — not in a restaurant, not in life. If you require that level of jurisdiction, perhaps you should eat at home, where you can preserve the exquisiteness of your experience from the blight of the unattractive.
Casinos opened in April, in descending order of coolness:
Desert Inn (1950)
El Rancho (1941)
Wynn Las Vegas (2005)
Red Rock Casino (2006)
Five things about the big romance book convention
Romance Times Booklovers Convention April 12-17, Rio Suites Hotel, rt convention.com