City Cast

How to Enjoy Fake Implosions

Scott Dickensheets
Scott Dickensheets
Posted on September 8
Photo of Riviera hotel being imploded real good.

Now, imagine that this building looked like a badly designed spaceship instead of The Riviera. (Ethan Miller/Getty)

In his 1999 novel “Turn of the Century,” author Kurt Andersen offered a forensically precise jab of Las Vegas satire: He gave the lobby of his fictional BarbieWorld casino a wonderfully apt tourist attraction — a holographic simulation of that resort’s eventual implosion.

It was a terrific comment on our city’s casual, expiration-date attitudes toward history and real-estate. It also led me to a fun thought experiment: imagining the implosions of ludicrous casinos. More specifically, ones that were actually proposed but never built.

I mean, just picture the Titanic casino that Bob Stupak wanted to build coming down in a billow of dust, shipwreck kitsch, and cartwheeling deck chairs. (As an orchestra plays, of course.) So enjoyable! Ditto the proposed WWF hotel. Can’t stand George Clooney in “Leatherheads”? That ought to enhance your joie de blast as you envision the Las Ramblas resort, in which he was involved, being imploded. The lunar-themed Moon Resort? BOOM! Starship Orion? BOOM! Both London-themed proposals? BOOM! BOOM! Both San Francisco-themed hotels? Collapsing faster than real San Francisco! The Excalibur? BOOM! Yes, yes, I know. I repeat: BOOM!

Of course, what these joints have in common is that they were terrible examples of the monetized kitsch Vegas revels in. So the kick of imaginatively purging our skyline of these eyesores is a lot like the petite catharsis a video game might offer as you clear its streets of mutants. Anyway, why should alternate-timeline Vegas be immune to the forces that constantly reshape the real place?

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