Table scraps is all you get

I liken this post to the medley at the end of Abbey Road; a bunch of bits and pieces and half-cooked ideas that, once assembled, are an unintended masterpiece.

They removed the stitches from my surgery last Friday at 7:00 a.m. Instead of scurrying to work late, I pointed my car in the opposite direction and drove to Atlantic City.

It was a terrible place to begin with but now, with the closing of so many casinos, it’s worse than ever. Giant, hulking buildings that are empty and boarded up. Concrete ghosts. A town that only ever had a slender chance is now completely without hope. But I can’t seem to help myself. I can’t stay away. I know it’s lowbrow but I love it so much. I can’t account for my fascination.

Only the hardcore and destitute (and me) are gambling at 10:00 on a Friday morning. Towards evening, a different crowd will arrive. Italians with a questionable sense of fashion from Philly and North Jersey will stream down the Atlantic City Expressway. They’re fun to watch, too.

While walking into the Trump Taj Mahal, a disheveled man carrying a solo cup half-filled with beer walked up to me and said, “Hey, boss, you got 50¢?” 50¢! What can you do with 50¢? I gave it to him. There’ll be no redemption for him. That town is a repository of lost souls. I tend to spend too much time feeling sorry for myself. My career isn’t where I’d hoped it would be. I can’t take The Daughters on grand, life-altering, perspective-granting vacations. I’m getting older. But one brief stroll down the boardwalk and everything snaps into focus. I’m doing okay.

This dude bought into a crap game with $2,400. In my income bracket, that’s a significant amount of money.

Rows of $100’s. The box man swipes them with a counterfeit marker.

FullSizeRender(4)In just :25 minutes he’d whittled it down to about $200. He lost it all on aggressive, stupid bets. He was very angry. He kept announcing to no one and to everyone that he’d won a lot of money the night before. They always do that. When it was his turn to throw the dice, he’d chuck them so hard that they’d bounce out of the table and land across the aisle near the blackjack tables. He was in self-destruct mode but the pit boss, box men and stick man did nothing to stop him. I see it all the time.

FullSizeRender(2)This is the Revel Casino. It’s an “invisible” building. Its skin reflects the sky. Under ideal conditions, the building fades into the background. It’s a neat architectural trick. This is an un-retouched iPhone photo.

FullSizeRenderThe owner of the house in the foreground refused to sell. Its 80-year old resident moved there when he was just 5. The Revel is one of the casinos that went belly-up, so I guess he gets the last laugh.

Last week, a gas explosion destroyed three buildings on 2nd Avenue and 7th Street in the East Village. Two people died. It’s an area that I spent an awful lot of time in, so I was saddened. I paid countless visits to the Pommes Frites shop on the way home for a late-night order of Belgian Fries. Now it’s gone.

The site of the destruction became a tourist attraction. Thoughtless shitheads posted smiling selfies on Instagram while, in the background, rescue crews frantically searched for bodies. Locals put up signs asking people to please be respectful. The stoops that afforded the best camera angles were blocked by residents.

What a bunch of narcissists we’ve become. I hate the word ‘selfie.’ It’s infantile. This morning, I read a story about two high school students in Jakarta who plunged to their death over a waterfall while taking selfies. They stepped back for a better angle and went right over the edge. I think that’s called ‘thinning the herd.’

I saw The Audience with Helen Mirren as QE2. It’s by Peter Morgan, the same guy who was responsible for The Queen. Those two have their Royal groove on. It was catnip for an aging Anglophile like myself. Not a bad likeness, eh? That’s Mirren on the right.

image002It imagines what occurred during the weekly one-on-one smackdowns between Queen Elizabeth II and the 12 Prime Ministers who served under her. (Some of the PMs were played by American actors. I wondered if that was an Actor’s Equity insistence in order to transfer it across the pond?) It also imagined the Queen confronting herself as a little girl. A compelling, seamlessly executed plot device.

image001The meetings weren’t presented in chronological order. The show time-jumped backward and forward. Lightning-fast costume and wig changes performed on stage while surrounded by Ladies in Waiting allowed Mirren to shed years and put them back on again at will. Saying she’s a great stage actor is like accusing water of being wet.


99 thoughts on “Table scraps is all you get

  1. You write in a way that makes one feel like they’re right there. Glad the hole in your head is not so much of a hole now. I hope you were able to keep all your brains in if you had some. 😉

  2. “In just :25 minutes he’d whittled it down to about $200.”—And that right there is why I so seldom gamble. It took my sister visiting to tell me we had a new casino just a couple miles from our house. I didn’t even know it. She says it’s fabulous. I’ll just have to take her word for it.

    As for taking selfies at that burn site–how disrespectful. Do they really not realize how horrible that is, and if they don’t, why not? Poor parenting? Self-absorbed culture? Lack of empathy? All of the above? Just when you think you’ve heard it all.

    As for the people who fell off the cliff taking selfies, how senseless and tragic. You would not believe all the selfie sticks I saw on my recent vacation. I can’t deny their convenience, but I’d feel like the biggest loser using one.

    • Hi there! Welcome back. See this nod to London? I thought of you when I banged this out.

      Gambling is foolish. I go in there with my measly stake and look around at the destruction. It feels bad to lose money gambling. It feels foolish. That’s why I go in there with only the little I can afford to part with. Bet with your head. Not over it. etc. There’s a casino in downtown Cleveland where the department store Higbee’s used to be. Do you know of it?

      As for the selfies, I’m tempted to say that that’s how that generation thinks but that would make me sound like a geezer, so I won’t say it.

      • Thank you. Yes, I saw the nod to London! Very good, ol’ chap.

        I just learned about that casino in downtown Cleveland when we went to a Cavs game (again, compliments of my sister who spotted it right away). It’s a new one as I recall. I haven’t visited that one either.

        Usually if I go in a casino it’s on a cruise ship. Then I take $20 and play cheap slots. The amusement is in the playing. When it’s gone, it’s gone. And if I happen to walk out with an extra $20, it’s a good night. 🙂

      • Gambling isn’t for everyone, thank God. I think the proliferation of casinos is going to cause this country a lot of shock and awe–in the bad way. We are creating a nation of gambling addicts. It’s a lousy way to raise revenue. It’s why Atlantic City is on its knees.

        How was the Cavs game?! You’re lucky. I imagine that’s a tough ticket. The casino across the street is weird. It still kind of looks like a department store. The ceilings are low and there are posts everywhere. Most casinos are high-ceiling, open-air affairs. This one is a bit claustrophobic. I still go, of course.

      • My husband gets Flash tickets on occasion for the Cavs game. If someone can’t use their season tickets for a game, they put them up for bid. We’ve been to two since Le Bron’s been back. The seats weren’t the greatest, but it doesn’t matter because you can see everything on the Jumbotron. Unfortunately, the night we took visiting family around Christmas, Le Bron didn’t play. He was injured. That’s okay. I still love the beer and popcorn. Probably even more than I like the basketball…

  3. Your unintended masterpiece was interesting as usual. It’s always cool to hear about what you’re up to in the big city. One minute you’re out wandering the street somewhere eating fries or something, and the next you’re taking in all these shows and reviewing them for us. Has anyone ever told you you’re eccentric and eclectic all at the same time?!

    • Well, thank you. Dyslexic moment: I misread “…wandering the street eating fries” as “…wandering the street eating flies.” One time I was in a diner in Lower Manhattan eating breakfast and there was a bug in my homefries. I just pushed him aside and continued on. Today, I’d probably send it back to the kitchen.

  4. Did I miss a post? Surgery?

    I’m not a big fan of casinos. We lived a block away from one in France. Only went once with a visiting friend.

    But Helen Mirren? Oh yeah! I’d love to see that performance. I envy you!

    • I had a little piece of my forehead cut out. There are some pretty disgusting pics posted if you want to scroll down. But I warned you.

      I would be too intimidated to visit a casino in France. Same with London. There were casinos there but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. But Atlantic City? Yeah. No pressure there. Vegas, either.

      I wish I could see Mirren’s show again but it’s so bloody expensive that I’m lucky I got to go once. Maybe I’ll do standing room. That’s cheap but it’s hard on my feet.

      • Oh I’m a dope — of course I knew that. I wrote to you about it. Oh brother. Sorry. I couldn’t bend over or lift anything for about a month. Hope you are fully back to normal!

      • I was hoping for a giant, permanent scar that would give me more of a badass look but it hasn’t happened. The doctor was too efficient with the needle and thread. Next time I’ll find someone less talented.

  5. My now husband and I celebrated our one year anniversary in Atlantic City back in the spring of 2012, before Sandy. He was in living in Connecticut and I was in DC so it was a convenient meet in the middle place. We won a bunch of money playing 3 card poker (is that a thing? I think that’s what it was called) when we both hit a straight flush within a few hands of each other. Needless to say, we really enjoyed our trip and I’m sad the city hasn’t managed to bounce back.

    • I know about three card poker but I’ve never played it. I don’t understand it. My feeling is if I don’t understand a game inside and out I stay away. I lose enough with the games I *do* understand!

      I don’t see that place bouncing back for a long, long time. One of two things will have to happen: either it will have to reinvent itself as something other than a gambling mecca or all the area casinos that suck business away will have to fold.

      • I don’t REALLY understand craps, but I think it’s the most fun to play (as long as there aren’t aggressively insecure gambling addicts throwing dice all over the place). I usually just bet on 6 or 8 and take whatever chips the dealer pushes my way.

        I’m surprised the area hasn’t bounced back; I thought there would be enough money flowing in, between the gamblers and the guidos and the casinos, to get it up and running again. When we were there, some of the casinos were as nice as we saw in Vegas, but on a smaller scale with less awesome entertainment. Plus, casinos never lose money, do they? I figured Trump would be jumping out of his combover for a chance to get back in there.

      • The 6 and 8 are excellent bets. Good odds. Stay away from the prop bets in the center of the table. They’re all sucker bets. The most fun in any casino is being had at the craps tables. The odds at blackjack are supposed to be slightly better but it’s such a boring game that I can’t bring myself to play it.

        Casinos lose money when they are poorly managed and nobody goes there to gamble. The spread of gambling sounded the death knell for Atlantic City.

  6. Had I been in NY I’d have been in the “Audience” audience. Oh yes.
    Reading (and hearing from friends in the Village) about the fire was sad.And yesterday damn if London didn’t have a fire in a conduit beneath the pavement.That little event closed restaurants and theatres for the night.
    An hour ago…a mother was crossing a car park, holding a toddler’s hand.Her cell phone beeped and she let go the hand to scrabble in her bag for the phone and proceeded to chatter , paying no mind to the child. A car turned into the park and damn’ near clipped the little kid.Furious blasting of horn.I felt sick. Some of us are self-absorbed…

    • I honestly feel that mobile phones have affected society for the worse. I know that makes me sound like an old curmudgeon but that’s how I feel. But the genie is out of the bottle and there’s no stuffing him back in.

    • Just so you know, that’s not how I typically spend my week. It’s usually work, commute, work, commute, repeat until dizzy. That these two extraordinary events happened days apart is a strange confluence.

  7. Glad you could make a detour and play the gambler for a short while. It’s interesting to read about the downfall of the casinos. But it is a shame in a way for folks that get a kick out of gambling. I’ve never set foot in one. There aren’t any in Texas so folks drive or ride a bus that takes gamers to Oklahoma or Louisiana.

    Helen Mirren is without a doubt one of the best actresses and gee you got to see her. I’d call that a privilege. How fortunate for you to have access to great entertainment.

    • I don’t know that I’d like to play the gambler for a living but I really do enjoy my occasional trips. They’re so contrary to how I conduct my affairs normally. Plus, I like the alone time. We all need it. If you don’t think you’d enjoy a casino then you probably won’t. Stay away, is my sage advice.

      I was very lucky to score a discount ticket to see Mirren’s play back in December. Now that word got out about her performance, there are no discounts to be had. It pays to be an early bird.

  8. Invisible casino? What a terrible business idea. You want the gamblers to be able to find your place right away. No, what you have to make invisible is the exits.

    • Maybe that’s why it went out of business. Nobody could find it! Honestly, that place was supposed to be the big, new thing in Atlantic City. It was supposed to be a gleaming new Vegas-style mega-resort but it never caught on. It opened and everyone shrugged their shoulders. About $2 billions went into its construction and now it’s just an empty mess. So sad.

  9. James Bond has given casinos an undeserved image of style and class. The only good thing I ever saw in a casino was a pretty croupier in an evening dress. The gamblers depressed me. I can’t say I’m upset they’re closing down in New Jersey. Is that because of competition from on-line gambling?

    • I’ve always maintained that the movie version of a casino is the best public relations trick ever. They make them look elegant and dignified. Have you ever walked around Vegas? There’s NOTHING elegant about it. Maybe in a few nooks and crannies but those areas are unavailable to the unwashed masses, of which I am one.

      Atlantic City started its slow death with the spread of gambling to other states. People no longer have to drive two hours to get to a casino. They can get there in a fraction of the time, so why bother with Atlantic City? Personally, I like the ocean, the boardwalk and the variety of casinos. You can only get that by going to Atlantic City.

  10. I used to have a boyfriend that gambled hard. He’d win thousands the night before and give it all back the next day. He was a great guy with a fantastic job but he lost everything in the end. Soul destroying. The Revel building pic is great.
    People took selfies as they looked for bodies? WTF? What is wrong with some people?

    • I like hanging around people who gamble. Even the crazed ones who lose control. They’re not boring. I had a girlfriend who would join me in Atlantic City. She’s sit at the blackjack table while I played across the aisle at the crap table. Guys would hover around her and try to pick her up but she always went back to the room with me. It was very sexy.

  11. I enjoyed your post, but some of these comments are great as well. The selfie thing completely evades me – poor quality photos of people making stupid faces. I read another blogger’s post about tourists taking selfies at Auschwitz and was appalled.

    It’s really hard to understand how governments could benefit from casinos and not have it be an ethically and fiscally poor decision, but it’s happening all over the country. From a personal perspective, since I’ve run through drinking, smoking, gambling and other bad decisions at an alarmingly compulsive rate, I know to keep me and my addictive self away from casinos.

    • My contention from the very beginning has been that posts are nice, but the conversations in the comment section are what blogging’s all about. I’m extremely fortunate to have a gaggle of smart, funny commenters. I hardly have to pay them anything at all to hang out with me. Just a couple of bucks a month. So worth it.

      When I started out, was a degenerate gambler. That’s someone who gambles until their stake is gone, no matter how far ahead they get. It took a while but I’ve gotten a handle on it. I was never a complulsive gambler, thank God. That’s someone who gambles until their stake is gone and then KEEPS GAMBLING.

  12. My only experience with a casino was a quick stop at Foxwoods. My husband and I went before kids. I was actually five months pregnant at the time. We walked into the slot machine area and I had to waddle right back out due to the heavy cloud of choking smoke. We peeked in on the Bingo room and I thought, what the hell is this? Boring! Not a big fan of gambling (probably because I’d never win anything I’m sure.)

    • You should be grateful that you didn’t walk into that cloud of nicotine, pull a handle and win $1,000 because if you had, you’d have been hooked. That’s what the casinos pray for. They want newbies to do really, really well. You spend the rest of your days chasing that initial blast of dopamine. It’s an insidious business model but it WORKS.

  13. i’m glad you got a chance to visit Atlantic City Mark – you sounded like you were looking forward to it. I don’t appear to have an addictive personality – i really don’t get gambling and never have. I don’t dislike it and I know many who enjoy it – it just doesn’t interest me. I did visit Atlantic City a number of times over the years and found it to be very lively during those years. It is always sad to see businesses fail but so much was made off of so many over the years that I find it hard to feel bad for the casinos failing. We are getting more and more legal gambling facilities around here and they are raking in a fortune. One has to wonder where all that money comes from.

    Helen Mirron is an amazing actress, isn’t she. I enjoy her work.

    Cool post Mark. I enjoy the multiple topics – it is interesting. When you talked about people taking selfies at the explosion site where rescuers were still searching for bodies, it reminded me of an accident when a friend of mine was killed. You know people have always been self interested, selfies just give them another means of showing it. My friend, whose nickname was Gilligan because of his appearance and floppy hat, was an eternally cheerful guy.He could and did brighten up any room he entered. One night just before Thanksgiving he missed a turn just before Seal island bridge in Nova Scotia.It was a long drop down over a rock slope and Gilligan was killed. He had a load of frozen turkeys and the trailer split apart throwing turkeys all over the slope. When the emergency vehicles arrived there was a long line of cars parked on the roadside while people stole the turkeys – even as Gilligan’s blood ran over the rocks. No. people haven’t changed Mark – just the options they have to exhibit their ignorance and disrespect.

    Anyway, i enjoyed your post. Thank You.

    Oh, as an aside I just guest posted over at Cordelia’s Mom If you have time, I would be honored if you could drop by for a read. Thank You.

    • Hi, Paul. I love that place but I only get to go a couple of times a year. It’s probably better that way but it doesn’t stop the yearning. That’s fairly constant. I’m very lucky in that, like you, I can enjoy gambling and alcohol without the fear of addiction. These are things I enjoy but they never got their hooks in me the way they do with a lot of people. I feel bad for the casino employees. They’re the ones who are really suffering. I think unemployment in Atlantic City is at around 25% because of casino closures. Trump and his like can go to hell for all I care. I’m sorry about your friend Gilligan. That’s a terrible story and almost enough to make me swear off humanity. But that would include nice folks like you and everyone in this comment section, so humanity gets a reprieve.

      Thanks for the URL. I encourage you to always leave them in my comment section when you post. That’ll be my commute home reading!

  14. That invisible building is so cool! That would be my house there. Nope. Not selling. I’m surprised they didn’t find a way to force him out.
    I haven’t ever really been to a casino. Once I went with a guy I was dating, I didn’t know what we were doing, I just pushed the button when he said to. Video gaming has recently made its way into most of the area bars, and I guess I have pretty much broke even on those. True Story: every time I win I show my daughter the winnings and she tells me “MOM! Stop gambling, you’re gonna lose our house!” She really cracks me up. “Honey, I won. I am not losing our house”

    • Casinos aren’t for everyone. In fact, most people wouldn’t enjoy the experience. (Come to think of it, same goes for New York City.) The act of gambling is boring for most people and losing money makes them feel bad. Thank God for that. Video gaming is for old ladies. Same goes for slots. They’re about as thrilling as watching TV. Stop tormenting your daughter. How mean can you be!?

      That guy should have sold his house. I’m sure they offered him a more than fair price. Now the town is bust and all he has is an old house with no neighbors. A proud dope.

      • What?? an old house WITH AN INVISIBLE BUILDING in his back yard! I would be ok with no neighbors, I’m not terribly thrilled with the ones I have really…..

        Ok, so? I AM an old lady, (and I also like watching TV). And tormenting my daughter. I didn’t play for a long time after they were introduced, as I work pretty hard for my money, and I know those machines aren’t designed to make anyone rich, except maybe the machine owner.. but, you know, you kinda get sucked in when you walk out with more money than you walked in with.

      • You don’t have to tell me about getting sucked in when you walk out with more money than you walked in with, sister! That’s how this whole mess started many, many years ago. There’s nothing sexier than money you didn’t have to work.

  15. Man, that incredibly vanishing casino building is a great iPhone 6 photo, Mark. Too bad the owners must have used the same tricks as the architects to make all the customers disappear, too.

    Character watching in the remaining joints appeared to be a study in degrees of desperation. Did you throw a couple bucks down on 21 black on the word of Frank B?

    Helen Mirren as QE is ultimate casting. The time-surfing sounds fascinating, and I bet she appreciated that challenge, too.

    How’s the head feeling now?

    • It vanished alright. It vanished right out of business. The interior was poorly designed and it was poorly managed. It’s not like it had some glory days and then faded. People were put off from the start. R.I.P.

      I never got around to roulette. I usually do but I was only there for the day and was occupied with the business at hand : DICE.

      No one has mentioned it yet but do you see the ghosted image of the dice in that second pic? That was purely by accident. I didnt know i did it until after I was playing around with the image.

      My head? Same as it ever was. Why do you ask? My head?

      • I was just amazed that you were able to take photos around the table at all, Mark. That’s usually a no-no. Nice.

        And didn’t you get stitches out of your head or am I horribly out of synch?

      • Taking pictures in a casino is strictly verboten but I have super sly skills. I pretend I’m texting. Had I been caught, they’d have tossed my ass right outside onto the boardwalk.

        Yes, I had stitches out. I was trying to sound like I had permanent damage.

    • Yeah, and do you know what I realized after I typed that? I uploaded post-operation selfies two posts ago. I’m as big a douche as everyone else. But I’d respect the building collapse site. I’m not THAT stupid.

  16. i enjoy these rambling posts – it’s very much like our conversations in Bryant Park, or at this cafe, or the food truck rodeo in the garment district.

    Starting to get the sense that the “Selfie Backlash” is approaching critical mass – and we’ll soon hit the tipping point where all selfie-taking people will be subject to derision and ridicule. i’ve done a few of them, so can’t say that i’m blameless – also guilty of the ubiquitous ‘feet on vacation’ photos – but i think the time is passing… i hope so, anyway….

    • I have a lot of small, boneheaded post ideas is rattling around that never get fleshed out. I don’t want to just throw them away so I throw them against the wall and see if any of them stick. I’m practicing conservation.

      If you scroll down two posts you’ll see me with a post-operation selfie. I’m guilty too. But I was happy to see a social media backlash against the people posting selfies from the collapsed building site on 2nd Avenue. Maybe there is hope.

  17. I used to play the poker machines when I was yf&s. It was a lonely time.
    Tonight I’m having the Friday Pint at home ‘cos the damn pubs all shut here on Good Friday! FFS! I miss my big pal sitting to my righ.

  18. I really enjoyed my one and only visit to a casino. I was out dancing in Manchester last year and the night ended at 4am and the first train home wasn’t until 6.30 so someone recommended the casino. It was fascinating and I deliberately missed a couple of trains. I just sat round the roulette table and watched other people play. It was really classy and everyone was quite well-dressed. I saw someone win, and then lose, £600. I honestly think it’s worse than heroin. Heroin you can control and can still function in a normal middle class life. Gambling will ruin you.

    Re maurcheen’s comment — I’m glad I don’t live somewhere where the pubs are closed on Good Friday!

    • I’ve had many nights like the one you described. I love casinos and Casino culture. I will never place a bet online. Where’s the fun in that? I like the people, the smells, the stale air and lack of light. I was a bad gambler at first. I had no control. But now that I’ve tamed the beast it’s The most fun I could have.

      • It’s the human aspect of gambling that is so fascinating. Online gambling and the “personal terminals” (i.e., closed loop computers) that the casino in Manchester offered have no appeal to me. I think I enjoy it partly because I recognise aspects of others’ characters in me. We’re drawn to the night, to the borderline, to what is wrong, risky but all the time, we attempt to remain humane and compassionate. I saw a man who won a relatively small amount — maybe around 150 quid — buy a round for everyone at the table. So that’s eight players and a pint was a fiver, so that’s a nice gesture of 40 quid out of 150.

        I felt empathic with those people there, laying down twenty after twenty at 7am. We’re all weak, no-one’s perfect. And what the fuck are we all doing here at this time of the morning? Are there not such things as children, jobs, spouses?

        If I win some money ever, I’m flying to NYC and you’re taking me to Atlantic City and you and me will have a grand each and see how we get on. Then you’re getting paid to come over to mine and we’ll spend a night in Manchester doing the same,

  19. Good for you deciding to drive to AC. It shows your independence from the grind and family. You’re not afraid to enjoy yourself, not that there is anything wrong with it. I like the pics. When I get down on myself, I would drive through the ghetto. My self loathing would change for the positive real quick. ‘The Fantasticks’ is closing.

    • Not every wife would put up with my bullshit. Traipsing off to Atlantic City to gamble instead of going to work isn’t something that I am extraordinarily proud of but my Bride recognizes the long-term health benefits of blowing off steam occasionally. That goes for my nights at the theater, too. How lucky am I?

      I don’t know how I made it this far without seeing The Fantastics but I did. And now my chance is blown. You can’t see ’em all.

  20. I despise adults who feel the need to post selfies of themselves constantly, it’s fucking ridiculous, but narcissism ain’t just a word in the dictionary you know and people feel the need to chase their 15 minutes (Andy was right on that one), i also despise twitter and the rest of that ilk that basically becomes a bunch of knob ends trying to be witty or telling how they feel in 140 characters or less, i don’t fucking care how they feel… now gambling is something i do enjoy, of course i like the cards and the ponies, particularly the ponies, love the charts and the thinking and sometimes the plain old gut play that comes into it, i don’t understand craps enough to play but it’s always a laugh to watch people blow the rent while telling everyone in earshot how much they “usually” win, roulette is great for that too and i will admit i do love the sound of that ball spinning on the wheel…

    • I caught myself in the process of taking a selfie the other day. I’m not sure how I found myself in that space but there I was, phone in hand. I’m happy to report that shame kicked in and I didn’t go through with it. The first step is admitting you have a problem, or some such shit. No twitter, Instagram for Facebook account for me. I somehow survived that onslaught of ego and vanity.

      We bring the girlies to the track twice each summer. They bet on their favorite color silk and stand down by the fence as close to the track as you can get they can feel the horses thunder by. I find the ponies an insanely complicated bet to make. There are so many variables. And cards are too boring. Blackjack, that is. I don’t play poker because I’m usually the fish. Do you know how if you sit at a poker table and look around and you can’t spot the fish? That means YOU’RE the fish. I’m usually the fish. But give me two dice and I’m happy I could (and have) played all day and into the night. I like roulette as well. A quite, dignified game.

  21. That’s such a surreal shot you took of the Revel with the house in the foreground. It nicely illustrates poetic justice. I’ve never been a gambler, even on a small scale impulsively buy-a-scratch-off card level. I’d rather blow my meager disposable income funds on going to the theater which can be a gamble if the play offers great promise, but doesn’t deliver (yes, I’m thinking about Skylight). My friend, Milton and I want to catch The Audience before it closes, but I almost feel physically ill when I think about the price of a ticket. As for those asswipes taking selfies at the explosion site, I’d personally like to bitch slap each and every one of them. Appalling, insensitive and scary when considering that those idiots are probably registered to vote.

    • Gambling is a two-sided coin for me. I can feel simultaneously foolish and sophisticated, all in the same evening. I can be quite expensive and downright depressing if things don’t go well but it’s never boring. How many things can you say that about? That it’s never boring? Damn few, I’d say.

      I was able to get a “discount” to The Audience back in December or January. It was still bloody expensive. 50% of a shitload of money is still a lot. But occasionally, I have to pay-up. Theater is ephemeral. It’s not like a movie you can revisit. Once the production closes, that’s it. Your chance is gone. Same goes for Wolf Hall. I PAID. I had to.

      Speaking of pay, I’d pay a lot of money to watch you bitch slap someone taking a selfie. I might even give you a hand by holding their arms back.

      Airline Highway tonight. Curtain is at 7:00. I’ll let you know.

      • You and I are on the same page about theater being ephemeral. It still kills me that I was too broke to see A Streetcar Named Desire at BAM directed by Liv Ullmann and starring Cate Blanchett. That and missing Philip Seymour Hoffman in the revival of Death of a Salesman, again due to being unable to afford a ticket, is another great regret. In 2009 my modest pay was cut 20% and that devoured most of my fun money. I only started seeing some of my alms restored two years ago. I’m hoping that The Boss will again stick a crowbar in the company safe and finally let me have the rest of it back this year so I can party like it’s 2008. Recently I told her that if my pay cut were a person it would be entering first grade this year. So another reason why I don’t gamble is I can’t afford to risk losing the little I’ve got. Forced frugality the year I hit 50 made me take a hard look at my financial priorities including hoping that I can afford to retire before I’ve shrunk down to the size of a walnut as I’m about to enter a pine box. Thank you for offering to assist me in the department of bitch slapping. I appreciate your chivalry, especially since I’m not by nature violent. I consider this a service to knock sense into imbeciles. I look forward to your thoughts on Airline Highway. Milton and I are going to try to get rush tickets for a few shows TBD this weekend. Something Rotten and Hand to God are high on my list. He’s thinking 20th Century and Gigi. Clearly I am the (humor-filled) lesbian and he’s the musical-loving gay guy. Did you see The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time? We loved that one.

      • I missed Streetcar and Salesman for the EXACT SAME REASON. Ditto anything Denzel Washington ever did. Truth be told, it kind of pisses me off a little bit. Theater…well…Broadway, at least, is for RICH PEOPLE. Do you know who’s to blame? That fucking Mel Brooks. He started dynamic pricing with The Producers. Disney, too, those fucks. I know there’s always off- and off-off Broadway but there’s a thrill in seeing what they can do with a big budget. They don’t call small theaters black boxes for nothing.

        Did you see D’Amour’s Detroit? Airline Highway was similar. Very good but fell short of greatness. There should be plenty of discounts. Worth it if, for no other reason, to see how Mantello successfully wrangles such a huge cast. Missing a central conflict but a uniformly great cast (with only one exception).

        I will always pick a play over a musical. Having said that, I give my highest recommendation to 20th Century. A laugh riot. Once it opens and word gets out, the discounts will dry up. I liked Something Rotten very much but many of the inside musical theater jokes went over my head. Didn’t see Gigi and have no intention. Hand to God is on my A list. I don’t think getting discounts will ever be a problem. Curious Incident was one of the best things I’ve seen in a while, especially that second act. Yikes! Do you know about The Signature Theater? World-class productions in the city’s best venue for only $25 bucks!

        I hope you get your money back. If I had a big bag of cash I’d treat you to a prime seat at The Audience. I would!

  22. The descriptions and the photos of Atlantic City are perfect – I’m fascinated by dilapidated cities and buildings also. I have no idea what anyone can do with 50 cents except hope for 50 more, but good on you for giving it to him : )

    It’s a new low: kids selfieing themselves to death literally. Horrible.

    We share a love for Queen Elizabeth and Helen Mirren – incredibly strong women.

    Excellent post!

    • Thanks, Molly, I’m always happy to see you pop over.

      Aside from pumping it into a slot machine and hoping for the best, I can’t imagine what he wanted fifty cents for. You can’t even get a cup of coffee or something off the dollar menu at McDonald’s for that much. I hope it bought him some temporary relief.

      Congrats, again, on your happy news. He’s a lucky fella.

  23. I love casinos, when I lived in Vegas I just always really liked being in them, I don’t know why, I’m really not a gambler. Well I used to like putting a few bucks into the video poker machine, but literally just a few bucks, loose change. I just really liked the atmosphere, and observing the characters in there and the general functioning of it all. I once watched a woman playing a $500 slot machine, she had special $500 token coins, and she was dropping them in like they were quarters. At one point she won $25,000 and she didn’t bat an eyelid, just carried right on playing. The sad thing is she just looked really lonely and bored.

    That gas explosion made it on to the news over here. I always think of you when I hear any news about New York, and wonder whether whether it’s something that has affected you in any way.

    • What was Vegas like to live in? I’ll be it wasn’t boring. I’ll bet it was exhausting and a little bit sad, too. I’ll never place a bet online. Where’s the fun in that? I’m not sure how casinos got so deep under my skin. Too many Bond novels and the promise of an easy payday, I suppose. I hid it for a while. As if I was ashamed to visit casinos. But I got older and have rid myself of many guilts, thank heavens. Casinos are the best. I get burned out after four or five days in Veags, but I always want to return. I’ve never said, “Well, that’s enough of that.” I might one day, but not yet.

      • Vegas was really fun to live in. It’s the only place in the states that I’ve lived, so I can only compare it to living in England, and not to living in other parts of the states. The general neighbourhoods of Vegas were, as far as I could tell, pretty much like neighbourhoods anywhere in the states, and people did all the general stuff they do anywhere. As you might imagine, a lot of the residents tended to stay away from the Strip most of the time, seeing it as just for tourists, and those that did gamble would go to the local casinos instead, but I loved the Strip, even the tacky aspects, I just really liked the buzz, that feeling of people on vacation having fun, it’s a contagious feeling, and I never lost that enjoyment in the four and a half years I was there. I used to think – people save up all year to come here and I get to live here! I was a little bit sad inside for personal reasons while I was there, but I still appreciated the fun of Vegas, and I’m really glad I had that experience. I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned before, but my daughter was born there so her birth certificate says “Las Vegas” which is kinda cool!

  24. Will you boys never learn?
    My elder son is presently having treatment for pre -cancerous cells on his forehead. He’s having a sort of skin peel treatment and has to avoid the sun at all costs.
    It’s official : selfies are not cool – nothing to do with the fact I can’t take them.
    I don’t think Mirren has ‘got’ the Queen. In the film she stomped. The Queen does not stomp.
    In the photos you can see how rigid she is holding her body. That is acting from the outside.
    Doesn’t work for me.
    Hope your wound has healed and that you will be careful in future. I’m not really grumpy.

  25. What do you suppose will become of all those selfies? (Yes, I realize they aren’t real the way photos are.) Hopefully, no one is going to want to take up cloud space with 2,000 pictures of themselves.

  26. I will never take a selfie. But if I get the chance, I will plow the Queen like a randy bull. It might be my british blood speaking, but I think she’s wondrously hot. Maybe it’s all that power – all that highbrow stuff, you know, she’d never go to Atlantic City, and if she went for Vegas, only for lunch.

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