1. Sayonara, Sahara!

    SAD news today from Vegas!

    It seems the venerable, or if you’ve stayed in one of their rooms, the venereal disease-able, Sahara Hotel and Casino is closing!

    Where were you when you found out? Right here? That’s awesome! I love sharing bad news!

    Anyway, I got this in my inbox today:

    May 16! That’s Monday!

    Anyway, say what you will about the Sahara, but it’s among the very last of the casinos on the Strip from the Rat Pack era. It’s got history, baby! It was featured in the original “Ocean’s Eleven” from 1960! And at one of the snack bars, it sells dollar hot dogs, also from 1960!

    No, I’m kidding. But this is sad news indeed! The Sahara had a buffet (until they closed it three years ago!) that was cheap and good! They had these chicken croquette things that I enjoyed! You, too, would have enjoyed them!

    The Sahara is where I first lost four hundred dollars playing a Monopoly slot machine! Oh, sure, later I lost six hundred, seven hundred, twelve hundred dollars playing Monopoly slot machines at other casinos, but you never forget your first. You never forget your first.

    It’s also where the lady running the roulette game admonished me not to touch my chips until she’d taken her little marker thing off the table, and me, drunk (of course!) forgot and touched my chips again, so she grabbed my wrist and said, “You do that one more time, I’m ripping your arm off!” And, brother, she would’ve! Lucky for me, I soon lost the rest of my money and was asked to leave the table anyway.

    I played in my first slot tournament at the Sahara! You ever play in a slot tournament? Oh my, that’s some fun there! What you do, see, is you sit in front of a slot machine and tap a button continuously for about ten minutes! That’s it!

    I lost! But it’s not about winning. It’s about the camaraderie. At least it was with the other players who all seemed to know each other. No one talked to me.

    Now, a few years ago, a pal and I were staying at a competing casino nearby, and we went into the Sahara to try our luck at some of the machines, sure. Said pal ordered a drink from one of the hostesses and said drink subsequently never arrived. So who should wander by but a fellow named Phil, an employee of the Sahara organization. My pal, he mentions the errant cocktail, and Phil tells him in no uncertain terms that it’s not his problem! I like that!

    I recently spoke with my pal, and I asked him about that day. He remembered the incident this way:

    “I really don’t want to have anything to do with your blog, even if you’re not using my name.”  So that’s the last word on that.

    They also had this NASCAR themed roller coaster you could ride, and I rode it! Only, this was shortly after Italian supermodel Fabio’s face got goose-pummeled on Apollo’s Chariot at Busch Gardens, and I was paranoid I’d get taken out by a wayward pigeon or sparrow, so I didn’t enjoy it as much as I should have. Clearly a case where I should have been drinking more and smoking less, if you know what I mean! But not drinking too much! (Roller coaster, after all.) Everything in moderation. Even in Vegas.

    How much of a fan of the Sahara am I? Absolutely yes! They don’t hand these babies out to just anyone!

    No, you have to have a valid driver’s license to get one!  Tough luck, illegal aliens! Oh, wait…

    Anyway, after Monday, it’ll be completely useless to me other than as a rudimentary burglar’s tool.

    You’ll notice I digitally removed my member number. Yes, well, that email up there says my accrued slot points are still valid through Monday and frankly, I don’t trust you. I love you, but I don’t trust you.

    I’ve searched the internet for memories of the Sahara, and I’ve found this fond recollection, courtesy some guy named Stanley in the comments section of a story about the casino’s closing:

    Have you been to the Sahara lately? The lobby floor is a mosaic of spent bodily fluids, that extra starch that stiffens the sheets is not starch, and a quick trip downstairs to grab a dollar beer makes you more nervous than a Baghdad valet. We were there last year and someone had crapped in the elevator. The shady characters that make up the check-in line resemble a Folsom Prison riot, with pants on the ground, enough piercings to fill a tackle box, and more tattoos than the Yakuza. Yeah, that pool is heated alright.

    Awright, so now you’re excited! But we’ve only got until Monday!

    Who’s up for a road trip? Shotgun!

    Posted by on May 12, 2011, 2:29 AM.

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