Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Brigantine and Atlantic City Boardwalks in the rain.

And were we not woefully disappointed in our fellow humans and their capacity for greed, sloth and myopia when we arrived today to check out the famous Atlantic City boardwalk and its pleasures? Everyone we spoke to was surly, seemed depressed in fact, including the employees of the god-help-them Bally's casino where we landed as I desperately tried to devise a mental map in order to remember where in the world I'd parked my car (in the multi level garages).

Maybe it was the rain. but it felt like, no.. it's the money, either lack of it, or envy of someone else's. The roulette tables! what a disappointment! Little plastic coated circles like you'd see at a rent-a-roulette church game, completely devoid of the sense of carefully weighted possibility the grand

wheeled tables of yesteryear conveyed with their vast, inviting green felt table and perfectly demarcated rectangles -- The last casino I was in was Vegas in the early 70s, okay? That was a real downer. This was git-er-done roulette. No romance, lady. whatdju tink? We left without spending a dime.

The general mood, a constant clanging cacophony like the sound of a train unendingly threatening to leave the station, put me in mind of what we saw traveling through small towns across the country (including parts of Atlantic City itself), places of once thriving community, however provincial, and meaningful interaction among folks dependent on each other for a sense of purpose, even in mean times. No longer. The hollow shells of those wonderfully conceived buildings, little works of art, in small towns everywhere; buildings that once held lively and essential local commerce, relationships, people's stories of first this and thats: haircuts, ice cream sundaes, brassieres, movie dates. Gone, abandoned. Blown out by overeager boom and bust economies and engineered debt followed by a nearly universal ignorant human response to the bust that lusted after convenience and a cheap sense of plenty. Some of those places are trying to come back, and they will I've no doubt if Americans come gradually to their senses and begin to think again after turning off Fox News, television in general. Exhausted with bitterness and anger they may decide to reintroduce reason into their lives and do some planning and working for the common good rather than for their own aggrandisement.

But the casinos spoke to the present, to a desperation, a slovenly wish for a better life without effort.

Casino Royale it wasn't.

Which was fine as we were underdressed.

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