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  • feedwordpress 09:01:48 on 2018/01/26 Permalink
    Tags: Atlantic City, biggest jackpot, , Cynthia Jay-Brennan, , Jay Wolke, Las Vegas, ,   

    “I can understand that a man might go to the gambling table – when he sees that all that lies between himself and death is his last crown”*… 


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    Wheel of Fortune, Las Vegas, 1988

    Thirty years ago, gambling in the US was limited to three destinations: Reno, Las Vegas, and Atlantic City. Jay Wolke photographed the ordinary people who played, lived and worked in the rapidly expanding cities.  Wolke was fascinated by the intersections of people, artifice, architecture and landscape in the US’s three gambling cities…

    Girl in car, Trump Plaza, Atlantic City, 1989

    Fortune Hunter, Las Vegas, 1988

    See more at “Same dream another time: under the skin of 80s Vegas – in pictures” and at Wolke’s site.

    * Honoré de Balzac, The Wild Ass’s Skin

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    As we consider the odds, we might recall that it was on this date in 2000 that Cynthia Jay-Brennan won $34,959,458.56 on a Megabucks slot machine at the Desert Inn in Las Vegas, the world’s largest payout; it was a one in 7 million chance.  A cocktail waitress at another casino, she had been a Desert Inn regular; on this occasion, she had “invested” $27 in the machine that paid off so handsomely.

    Sadly. Jay-Brennan has become synonymous with the “Jackpot Jinx”: a few weeks after her huge haul, she and her sister were driving to a casino out of town when they were hit by a drunk driver, paralyzing her and killing her sister.

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  • feedwordpress 08:01:10 on 2015/04/26 Permalink
    Tags: Betty Willis, Las Vegas, Leming, , Meditations, , , , Stoic,   

    “A city that was to forge out of steel and blood-red neon its own peculiar wilderness”*… 


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    A woman and her work

     

    Las Vegas– and the world– lost two icons of neon sign design on April 19th: Betty Willis, seen above with the iconic “Welcome” sign that she designed, and Brian “Buzz” Leming, creator of many of the Strip’s most memorable marquees, passed away within hours of each other.

    Leming’s “Hacienda Horse and Rider”

     

    Willis and Leming both worked at the Western Sign Company, where they struck up a friendship.  Many of their creations are preserved in the Neon Museum’s outdoor “Boneyard,” where it stores its relics.

    The Neon Museum’s Boneyard

     

    More at “Two Designers of Las Vegas’s Iconic Neon Signs Died on the Same Day.”

    * Nelson Algren (writing about Chicago, though it’s surely apropos of Las Vegas as well)

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    As we switch on the lights, we might send forbearing birthday wishes to Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus; he was born on this date in 121.  The last of the Five Good Emperors, Marcus Aurelius is also considered one of the most important Stoic philosophers; his Meditations, written on campaign before he became emperor, is still a central text on the philosophy of service and duty.

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