Saturday, March 8, 2014

Las Vegas: The Good, the Bad and the Osmonds

Luck Be a Lady Tonight, I Don’t Want to Catch Hepatitis

How Donny and Marie Softened a Hardened Heart

Today's essay was originally and inaccurately entitled "Las Vegas: Trash Bin of America" and as one would imagine by such a startling, starting descriptive, it was not intended to be in any way, shape or form a flattering depiction of the Nevada resort city. But no matter how closed one's mind, no matter how petty one's thoughts, no matter how snobby or superior one's initially unwavering ethos or impression of a place not their home or not in entirety to their taste or experiences or preferences (and after being rightfully labeled a "grump" by one's thankfully patient and tolerant traveling companion) even such severe and prejudicially incorrect and unfair opinions and beliefs can still be easily altered, so people get ready, there's a change a-comin’. But at the offset, I do beg your indulgence and request you bear with me, for without the highly negative beginning, there can be no shock of positive discovery or ultimately pleasant denouement.

The Malfeasance of Misconception

Las Vegas - city of wonder, city of magic, a land of dreams pursued, and dreams fulfilled. Of golden-hued sunsets and gathering gaggles of red-state residents joining groups from even redder states, rebel flag tattoos proudly unfurled on flabby flesh, billowing in the autumn breeze like Granny’s bloomers on the laundry line; all gregariously welcoming the unlimited supplies of fermented spirits, opened wallets, opened hearts and the opened appendages of the celebrated and explicitly advertised army of the workers of the evening.

New York, New York - "Give me your tired, your poor, your drunken gamblers yearning to breathe free."
Worth and station measured by volume of alcohol consumed, regaling comrades with tall tales of the glory of drunken revelries and exploits, as if such yarns bespeak rare and admirable accomplishments of which there is ever a boast or brag (should auld acquaintance be forgot, keep your eye on that grand old flag, as it’s highly likely that an unsteady tourist may lose his comped lunch upon it.)

Where class is something you take to learn to work a stripper pole, where the wisest and wealthiest man is surely the one with the forethought to open the first Hoveround dealership and where troubles melt like lemon drops away above the chimney tops as you enjoy refined and cultured artists by the names of Carrot Top, Tater Salad “the “cigar-smoking, scotch-drinking funnyman”, Vinnie Favorito, Winston the Impersonating Turtle and those who have invested in sufficient cosmetic surgery to resemble a beloved deceased celebrity nightly plying their trade in theatres bearing their own appellations, finding gold in them there hills and making Branson look like the Globe or Old Vic. 

Enter the hotel piano bar, ordinarily a city’s site of sophistication, purveyor of the melodious tunes and erudite lyrics of the Gershwins, Cole Porter and Rodgers and Hart, but in this venue instead dominated by selections from the Beavis and Butthead, heavy metal CD collection, presented by an ivory-tinkler who thinks it the highest level of humor, wit and urbanity to replace the proper lyrics with ones of his own, primarily consisting of references to genitalia and their use, maintenance and care, while overly-mature and inebriated patrons howl with gales of laughter as if being privy to and pleasured by the finest comedy mind since Lenny Bruce and Richard Pryor. "Very witty, Wilde.” Many a cougar in heated hope and unfulfilled anticipation pounced upon said pianist with flashes of usually unexposed skin and accompanied promises of a conceivable carnal carnival to come.

For any female working within the confines of these bars, casinos, restaurants or lounges, no matter their age, health or physical conditioning, the wearing of barely-there, Victoria Secret-knock-off undergarments as outerwear is a strict and unwavering requirement in order to maintain any kind of steady employment. Modernity and societal progress lost in a Gloria Steinem nightmare come to daylight fruition.

If it's true that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, as a civilization, we are all better off for that.

Or so, I first believed. And while much of the negative preface, greatly exaggerated for humorous intent, contains elements of veracity and reality, there is much more to be had here. For like a shopping spree in TJ Maxx or Daffy’s, true there is shoddy polyester to be procured but delve a little further into the merchandise and unearth the quality cottons and fine silks. Although Las Vegas is not home to a Carnegie Hall, a Lincoln Center, a Metropolitan Opera, it is where you’ll revel in Marie Osmond’s remarkable and impressive performance of Puccini’s famed aria, “Nessun Dorma” and where you can dine on fine French fare in elegant surroundings with a view of almost unsurpassed excellence, cheerfully served by friendly, happy, hospitable and helpful bar and restaurant workers and staff, positive proof that unionization works without resulting in Steve Wynn sobbing in his champagne, crying poverty.

Dinner with a view
A Brother and Sister Act Save the Soul of a Vacation

Talk about turning a frown upside down, friends, this I swear, you can arrive at the striking Donny and Marie Showroom as the beaten-down, sad subject of a country and western ballad – friendless, jobless, your domicile, that very day, a victim of a vile arsonist, and you’ll depart that theatre entertained, contented, grinning ear to ear, the fortunate recipient of that week’s Powerball jackpot.

Donny's Dancing with the Stars Spoils
In complete candor and honesty, I attended their show with some expectation of kitsch as entertainment (once again cementing my wrong-headedness in every aspect of this journey) with vague memories of likable and wholesome teens hosting a dated 70's Sid and Marty Krofft variety hour, of bad apples and paper roses; but Donny and Marie won over my erroneous attitude with undeniable ability and versatility in a well-produced, well-presented, wonderfully performed 90 minutes that had me wanting more and more and made me a true believer with a desire to see them both relocate to my Gotham home, star in each and every show on the Great White Way and further brighten the footlights of Broadway.

Leave preconceived notions at the entrance, these Osmonds are mature, stylish, experienced entertainers - recording, television, concert and Broadway veterans, blessed with tremendous innate talent, which has only grown and developed in their five decades of performing. They have lived full lives, experienced the good, the joyful, the tragic and the woeful that all adults must sometime encounter and that only serves to enhance the interpretive abilities of a performing artist. This is both a classic and classy partnership in full, engaging and compelling bloom.

As a vacation destination is “New York, New York,” New York? Is “the Paris Hotel,” Paris? Is Las Vegas London, Amsterdam, Florence or Venice? No. But even in a place where sex and alcohol are considered legitimate and accepted forms of currency, many a gem can be mined.

The best that exists on Youtube of Marie's operatic chops appears to be from an audience member's cellphone. Obviously, the quality is lacking but you'll get a taste.

Any comments, questions, criticisms, candid confessions, cash contributions? Contact me at butchersaprons@mail.com.

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