The same friend who’d recommended the Burger Bar also suggested the buffet at Paris for breakfast. Dave and I walked north on the strip, bracing ourselves against wind gusts and weaving through crowds of potbellied tourists. When I visited four years ago, the view across the street from the Aladdin had been lone and level sands stretching all the way to the mountains a few miles off. That view had been replaced by the skyscrapers of City Center; also, the Aladdin was now a Planet Hollywood resort. If there’s one city you hoped would never sell out, it’d be Vegas.
After the Paris buffet (really good), I showed Dave around the casinos near the center of the Strip: the
Wynn former Wynn properties (Mirage, Bellagio) and the classic Caesars Palace. Dave remarked on how much more comfortable he felt in Caesars than in any of the other casinos: less stimulated, less assaulted by noise and light. I thought about it for a moment. “The ceilings are lower,” I observed. “The sound doesn’t carry and your sightlines are nearer to the ground. You’re confronted with fewer simultaneous explosions.”
Walking home, we crossed one of several new skyways across the Strip, passing a vagabond in dirty leather and ripped jeans yelling at a living statue. “Go away!”, he screamed. I was about to correct the vagrant (he can’t go away; he’s a statue) but let it pass when the vagrant crossed the skyway to slump down next to a panhandler. The panhandler had a cardboard sign asking for a couple of dollars. The living statue had quite a few dollar bills in a hat in front of him. “Go away!”, the man in dirty leather screamed, on the skyway between City Center and the hotel that used to be Aladdin.
Update: Thanks to Alex A. for the note above; MGM now owns the Mirage and the Bellagio. Terry Benedict makes a lot more sense now.