Just got back from a three-day getaway with the lovely Tess to the open cesspit that is Atlantic City, New Jersey, a town of marked contrasts, part slum, part Las-Vegas-wannabe, cheesy, second-rate little sin bin for the middle class with no class.
Here's the highlights, which I know you were all just dying to know:
1. We went, strictly speaking, for the purposes of seeing an Off-Broadway (off-off-off Broadway) production of Rock of Ages (Tess scored free tickets, and a free room for two nights, from Caesar's Palace because she is a nearly-degenerate gambler. This sort of show appeals to her...for reasons I cannot fathom). I'll give you the Reader's Digest review:
It's fucking gay. It's so fucking gay that I was afraid I might have caught AIDS just being within the general vicinity of the theater. I will be tested just as soon as is humanly possible, just to make certain I didn't catch a single molecule of all that radiated gayness.
2. For some reason, I kept running into people from Charlotte, North Carolina, where this Lunatic once lived for a short spell. Big shout out to my new peeps from the Bestside Baptist Church in Charlotte: y'all are good folks. Special wave to Elyse and Walter, and thanks for the BBQ sauce recipe!
3. The United Steel Workers of America invaded Caesar's Palace for a week. Now, when I say "invaded", let me be perfectly clear: the casinos, bars, and just about every other amenity in sight had been tainted with the presence of hundreds of Union representatives, delegates, and administrative bigwigs. Or as I like to think of them, by thugs, goons, and ignoramuses.
This Lunatic nearly started a riot when, after a conversation with one of these..ahem...gentlemen, it came out that only a select group of the nationwide union representatives had been flown to Atlantic City for all the booze, gambling, and general mayhem they could handle -- by the union itself -- and that the purpose of the trip had been for the Union Bigwigs to pressure their subordinates to go back to their shops and muster halls and rubber-hose-whip membership into voting for President Odouchebag.
I made the impolitic comment that it must comfort the poor steelworkers all over America, who are paying their union dues and losing their jobs, anyway, to know that their union leadership is partying hearty in Atlantic City, while jawboning the masses into voting for the man who has made their lot in life infinitely worse. This got me challenged to a fistfight...by a USW lesbian...who quite frankly, reminded me of a very young James Cagney, only with more Five O'clock Shadow.
Some of her drunken compatriots came to her defense (not that she needed help. I think she could have taken me on a good day), but when I gave back as good as I got, their zookeeper came by and put them back on their leashes and directed them back to the free booze, before they got kicked out of the casino.
If American workers want to know why they consistently get the short of the stick, I can think of no better example.
4. The Nathan's on the Boardwalk is perhaps the most disgusting restaurant in all of New Jersey, and perhaps in all of the Tri-State region. Apparently, this place can't even get the best of the illegal aliens -- the ones who will clean everything within an inch of it's life like they're on Crystal Meth -- to work in Atlantic City.
Food all over the floor. Flies everywhere. A half-inch of grease layers on tables, trays, floors and walls. Slightly-green sauerkraut that could easily have been World War II surplus. Flocks of seagulls pestering guests for food, probably because no one in the restaurant ever told them that it was probably a bad idea to feed them, and of course, the gulls leave behind a ton of droppings which apparently get cleaned away very infrequently.
I don't know by what method they grade sanitary conditions in restaurants in New Jersey, but this particular one wouldn't have passed muster in Kabul.
Needless to say, even with the voucher for free food, I gave the place a wide fucking berth. There is no amount of free anything that could ever make salmonella, e coli, listeria, botulism and maybe even Ebola Virus worth the risk.
Never mind what's IN a fucking hotdog; this place makes you wonder what's ON your fucking hotdogs.
5. A word about Asians. Although Asians make up something like less than 10% of the general population, you would never know it from stepping inside a casino. When you get there, and see all the Chinese inside, you'd think there was either an invasion or a population explosion.
And they are inveterate gamblers, making bets most people might consider crazy (that's probably a result of putting those vaunted mathematical skills to use).
The Asians in a casino don't arrive alone, or even in twos and threes, either; it seems to be a family affair, with several generations lining up to play slots, poker or blackjack, although baccarat seems to be the game of choice, not least of all because of the air of aristocracy that clings to the game.
6. A word about Black People in Casinos: Black people complain...a lot...loudly...shamelessly. They complain when they lose. They complain even louder when they win, because the payout can never be big enough. The complain about cards they didn't get. They beg for cards. If they aren't winning consistently, it's automatically attributed to a conspiracy by the casino to deliberately rip them off. Oh, and they never tip a dealer when fortune does, indeed, drop a hot jackpot into their hands. Then again, they don't seem to tip anyone; not the cocktail waitresses, the cigarette girls, the valets, the bartenders, the waiters, the bellhops.
7. A word about Muslims. There seems to be an awful lot of them in the casinos, indulging in all the evil pastimes of the Infidel, whether that's gambling, drinking, hitting the strip clubs or keeping company with the whores who scope the tables looking for big winners, usually with their wives and children standing at the periphery watching it all. This despite posted warnings and polite reminders that children are not allowed inside the casino near gaming areas.
The Muslims at the tables are much like Black People: they complain...a lot. They take great pains to describe to you how it was that they almost won every fucking hand of poker, if only the dealer had managed to fill in the gaps in their straight, flush, or even pair of deuces.
Let's not get started on the smell. The aroma of Ramadan this year seems to be something akin to a cross between fried onions and crotch, with just a hint of Gorgonzola cheese.
It wasn't all bad, though; I did, indeed, learn a lot from such close proximity to the inheritors of Mohammad. Like the fact that toothpaste apparently hasn't yet been discovered in Lebanon, or that Iranians must consider it good luck to shed chest hairs on the gaming table, or too much trouble to clean up pubes they've left on the toilet seats. Scratching one's armpits, or openly picking one's nose, and then handling cards seems to be considered no big deal whatsoever. The 2-4-6-9-Q-should-be-considered-a-straight-flush-when-I-get-them-Praise-Be-Upon-Him crowd also demands that their seats be saved for them when they run off to pray, and throw a fucking fit when they are not, because they can't abide a world where they don't receive preferential treatment on account of their sewer religion.
Despite all of this, Tess and I still managed to have a great time, if only because we came to the conclusion that the best way to deal with all of this nonsense was to simply ignore it, and do our own thing. Which we somehow managed to (mostly) do.
I have nothing but praise for Caesar's Palace Atlantic City (best goddamned room-service turkey club I've ever had), and would recommend the place wholeheartedly to anyone thinking of vacationing in Jersey's Biggest Cesspit by the Sea.
We're headed back to Atlantic City in October to see Aretha Franklin, who's playing at another hotel, but we're staying at Caesar's. Thanks much to the wonderful staff there!