Then, today as I read the Sun and Review-Journal's somewhat perfunctory coverage in the newspaper of this seemingly momentous event, I realized that's not really going to be much of an original thought by Thursday when the next issue of the magazine comes out. In fact, it's a measure of how little anyone seems to really care that it won't even worthwhile to meditate on why very few people seem to really care.
I do have a theory though: Old Vegas nostalgia is mostly just talk.
In fact, I suspect the last great moment for the Sahara already happened on Friday when they handed out free tickets and then drew from a drum the names of 63 people who each received $500 that was left over in the casino's progressive slot jackpot. Well, the 63rd winner actually got $507, but whatever. Here's my losing ticket:
...and the drum...
...and the last time this casino will be quite this packed, including on Monday afternoon.
There were very few nostalgists there, just lots of people who heard they had a shot at some free money and better-than-usual odds. Even our waitress at the NASCAR Cafe seemed dispassionate, although she also has a job at the Pink Taco at the Hard Rock waiting for her at least through the summer.
The newspapers felt similarly on auto-pilot, with Norm Clarke documenting the usual recollections of famous Sahara guests and performers and Howard Stutz giving voice to the obligatory longtime employee. But then there also was Stutz visiting with ex-owner Paul Lowden who isn't sorry to see it close and Mike Weatherford being uncharacteristically tart and snarky with this:
Ouch. Over at the Sun, all we got in print on this Closing Eve Sunday was publisher Brian Greenspun offering some choice memories and then bemoaning the place's decline. He concluded:
What strikes me here, though, is how often I hear people whine about missing the Old Vegas and the classic haunts, blah blah blah. Here we have a pretty gen-u-ine Old Vegas article, and it's going bye-bye with a great big collective shrug. Not a single podcast listener or blog reader said they were making a special trip for one last drop-in, as many did for the Stardust and a few did for the Frontier.
What's more, unlike other demises -- the Aladdin, Stardust, Frontier, Dunes and Sands among them -- there's no actual plan for replacing the place. Very few take Sam Nazarian's recent blather that something new will replace it by 2014 seriously. Both Greenspun and Lowden reference this closure as a necessary passage to some sort of "progress," but nobody actually thinks that there's anything to rise in its place before, say, Lake Mead runs out of water.
On Friday night, we went over to see this weird cash giveaway thing. Just before that was over, Twitter follower Kara70 asked me: "Will you stick around after the drawings? Do you think there'll be a stampede out the doors afterwards?"
If there was any sincere regret over the Sahara's demise, people would've stuck around after the drawing ended around 7:30 pm. They would have soaked in the lore, appreciated the waning hours. And yet...