Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Mission NOT accomplished

I knew that I wanted to head out to the store today, so in anticipation of that, I went out yesterday and charged my Mustang's battery. (I've had problems lately with a dead battery after it sits for a few days. I've become an expert at hooking up the charger!) When I went out today, it had lost most of the charge and would not start. That was it. I hooked it up to the charger and came back in and called our nearby Ford dealer. They said they could get me in with no problem, so as soon as Slick charged, I headed out.

The plan was an oil change and a new battery, but it was also due for 15,000 mile service, so four hours and $500 later, I got out of there. Needless to say, I wasn't in any mood to go to the store, so I came home and I'll go out tomorrow. I live to fight another day. What a way to spend an afternoon. But never let it be said that I'm not doing my part to help the economy, not to mention an American auto company!

It looks like President Obama had a busy first day in office. The Dow rebounded nicely, although I read little into that considering the volatility of the market right now. Looks like one of his top priorities is to close the Guantanamo Bay prison. I brook no tolerance for terrorists, but the truth is that some of these people have been held for six years without any charges being filed against them. That is horrific and appalling and goes against all of our principles as a country. Close the mother down, President Obama, and good riddance!

On to a lighter subject...and yes, I'm still writing about Vegas!

When Ken and I visited there in 2005, we stopped in at the El Cortez, just a block away from the Fremont Street Experience. While the casinos that are a part of FSE have been updated and generally look pretty spiffy, the El Cortez just looked sad and tired. We found a $3 craps table, always cool, but in this case, there was a guy there laying down huge bets that all of us rollers would crap out. I.e., he was betting that we all would lose, and he was cleaning up. It was such a downer, and I think it's really bad karma. It's a lot more fun when everyone is cheering for each other, everyone is winning (rather than just one Denny Downer), and you whoop it up for a hot roller and shout out "Ee-yo eleven!" when betting one for the croupiers.

We didn't linger there just left a bad taste in our mouths. The whole place seemed dark and dingy, the stuffing was popping out of split vinyl chairs, and there was an almost palpable air of desperation.

Fast forward about four years, and on our recent visit, we hear from our tour guide at the Boneyard, Justin, that the El Cortez is one of the finest examples of old Vegas, and the owners have embraced the history and heritage of the casino and of Las Vegas in general. He said it was worth a visit, because they have placed many photographs of old Vegas up on the walls, and they have torn out that "smelly carpet" and spruced up the place. I'm happy to say that he was absolutely right, and while the ambiance of the El Cortez is still a bit dark (due to the woodwork and dim lighting), it had a much different atmosphere this time around. The photos are great, and the El Cortez is one of only a few Vegas casinos to never have changed its exterior or signage. It has been in the same location since it was built in 1941.

Marion Hicks and J.C. Grayson built the hotel/resort, and although it was originally thought to be far enough removed from downtown that it couldn't make a go of it, the El Cortez quickly proved to be so profitable that it was bought in 1945 by Bugsy Siegel, Meyer Lansky, Gus Greenbaum, and Moe Sedway. You might recognize some of those names as some of the bigger players in the Vegas Mob underworld. In 1963, the property was bought by Jackie Gaughan, and his family runs it to this day. The El Cortez is known as one of the main places in Vegas for new dealers to perfect their technique and learn the ropes. Recent renovations seem to have been welcomed, as there were plenty of players when we were there, and apparently it is still a big draw for the locals. I took this picture a couple of weeks ago and changed it up to black and white. Doesn't it look like it could have been taken 60 years ago? The sign is original to the casino.

As someone who is obsessed with highly interested in historic preservation, I'd say that the El Cortez and other downtown casinos are a success story. Some of the signage has suffered (the Mint facade is a huge loss), but I'd say that the heightened interest in the history of Las Vegas has helped the downtown area and preservation efforts in general. Next time you're in Vegas, don't ignore downtown--I think you'll enjoy the old Vegas vibe.

Coming soon: more downtown casinos and more fabulous neon!


  1. Sounds like the El Cortez has kept it's flavor from years past. It would vbe good to have more of that.

  2. El Cortez was definitely better the second time around.

    Sigh of relief, I was afraid there would not be another Vegas entry of five :o)

  3. How neat to hear the El Cortez has come back to life and cleaned up since your first visit. Ewww...I wouldn't sit in a chair with stuffing hanging would be a haven for germs!!!!

    Glad you got your stangeroo all serviced & ready to go. Must be dead battery time. Doug went out to start the Beemer and it wouldn't start! It is in a heated garage so there is no reason the battery should be dead but it is.

    I have to have the dealer come & get it. I can't find the battery LOL...damn german engineering! ;)

  4. I had to buy a new battery several weeks ago. I live fairly close to a Les Schwab store so got a jump start & headed right over there. What a pain ! I'm wondering if it would be any cheaper to go back to the horse & buggy?

  5. That's a hell of an expensive oil change...


  6. I am glad that we are still all enjoying the break with you. The El Cortez sounds like it is in good hands. Have you written to them to thank them for keeping it as original as possible. I think that that kind of thing is important as they must wonder sometimes if they are right to keep things "as original"
    what a shame about the battery etc. I had to go yesterday as well to the garage as I had a slow puncture...thankfully they only ha dto put in a new air valve and didn't charge...a miracle in itself !! had I needed a new tyre it would have cost around £40
    Love for now Sybil xx

  7. I think this time we will have to agree to disagree I don't agree with obama's closing the prison and considering what we as americans lost I don't care what terriost go thru , I am still very concerned about them making another attack , however I do think that we have a good president and I know I won't agree with all his decissions but I still support him and his agenda so far .

  8. as always, nice to learn more about Vegas. You could start a Vegas'd be interesting. As you know, i HATE car trouble. Glad you got your car serviced. XO

  9. Way cool entry! I like reading it, from the serious to the light hearted parts, all handled well.

    Being in Detroit, I am soo glad to hear that someone is doing their part! I will make sure that Junior hears about this!

    I only refer to Denny's sister, 'Debbie'. When I call a guy that, it makes it seem even funnier!

    Whenever I see the word 'desperation', I think of the new meaning it has, thanks to the book written by Stephen King ... 'the absence of faith is desperation'. Made my 'irrational faith' become even more entrenched, because I have a lot of things I believe and have no tangible reason to believe ... but because faith is belief in things not seen, I have never worried about what other say.

    With Obama's victory (and the jury is still out on whether or not he can do the job), it is a tangible piece of evidence of 'faith'. Now, when someone ask me why I think I am going to be successful or enjoy a postive result from my efforts, I can point to Barack Obama and say, ' ... if a black man can be President, then why can't I ..?'

    I honestly think that now, no one, and I mean NO ONE can justify why they are not working towards the things that they want out of life. No matter what, all success is attained by a winding stair. I don't have the breath, time or energy to bellyache. Now, EVERYBODY has visible evidence of why they shouldn't be whining about not having what they want, and get to the business of making their 'what's what' happen.

    Did you like the book? Another line that I liked from it, went '... the way people can be friends on the back roads of life'. That is where I got that from.

    That is a book I have to go buy, as it 'got got' in my travels. I really loved the imagery, and the 'old China Pit'. Even though it wasn't review as well, I like it a lot. 'The Regulators' was just okay, but I read it.

    Sorry about the ramble. But you do amuse me!


I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you?