The Artistry Of ARIA
Like a Rhino, Baby
LEED certification. Curvilinear hotel towers. A city within a city designed by seven of the worlds foremost architects. Remember to breathe. Urban planning. Pocket parks. Words will fail you.
Horseshit. Every last corn hugging morsel of it.
There is only one way to know if a brand new casino resort is successful: it makes you horny.
Not green teen horny, but black belt porn star horny. Yeah... that full-sensory head to toe cytological orgy where the unabashed, uncontrolled, unrestrained lust for flesh, money and power mingles with the tameless desire to try, touch and taste every flavor, color and shape of beauty.
The closest I've ever ever come to zeniths like this was at the hands of some very powerful, very pure chemicals.
Without question, we all end up in the bathroom stall at some point - metaphorically or metaphysically - depending on who or what is driving. The good news is that the best hiding places - bathroom stalls - are, here, some of the most fascinating I've ever seen. Who would've guessed urinals could form such a thought provoking array of ellipsis. But why are you here? To eliminate waste. But what? Anxiety is a surefire buzz kill... perhaps its time to switch from Sanka to Xanax? Loathing, however projected, is caused by fear. Obstacles, psychological monuments to loathing, breed fear. Fear is the enemy of being alive. The symptoms of fear are as subtle as a 5 year old and sound exactly alike. How old are you exactly? Take this quiz!
Have you ever felt the unstoppable urge to unleash your creativity? Paint racing stripes and numbers on your dog and kids, transcribe your deepest hopes and fears into honest words on paper, play "Sweet Jane" at high volume on the nearest out-of-tune Strat, brew your own moonshine, craft something fantastic out of computer code or perhaps build a CityCenter out of Jell-O?
Ever high dive into a sea of question mark shaped purple velvet pillows upon which float zillions of synapse shattering sultry smiles? Have you ever had every single solitary particle from which your real and spirit body is built of scream in unison "I'M ALIVE!!"
Have you ever felt that life will never be long enough to cram in all the fun you want? And that you wanted the fun to start not next month or next week but right fucking now?
If you answered "no" to all of the previous questions, your reaction to ARIA will most likely fall into one of the three categories below:
The Bores hide behind the usual excuses levied at bold chance taking - "modern = cold" - and promptly choochooit back to Bellagio (or Monte Carlo). Thankfully, in the case of the former, Roger Thomas' 10 year old dusty drapes will evermore accept the dabbing of tears and provide a snuggie into which you can cuddle away the fright of the new. Boringists' keywords include 'airport', 'office building' and 'art museum.' Yawn.
The Timid are bonerfried master perturbationists who blame their vests and bodies for not receiving personalized invitations to have a great fucking time. And they'll curse those who did (but didn't.) They'll rant. They'll screed. They'll build a fortress from obelisks of fear. Timid keywords include any reference to class schisms, financial inequality and a perverse distaste for the perverted.
The Normal will roll up the stairs and over The Strip from P.Ho's Spice Market Buffet, capture a Kodak moment or four outside, oogle at the fountain, put some time in at the penny slots until the matinee of Viva Elvis then head back to the Flamingo to curl up with lousy pay tables and the latest strategy from Bo Bo Dancer. They will tell their friends about ARIA (won't remember the name), and will not have a strong opinion either way... unless they go to the buffet which they won't like as much as Spice Market Buffet. They probably won't even notice the bongs hanging from the ceiling in the Buffet's lobby either.
Generalize much? Call it an educated guess... then again, one of my most favorite things in the world is having my opinions proven wrong. Which is exactly what happened at ARIA. I was fully prepared, frothing at the mouth really, to loudly lead the riot act reading naysayers as we called bullshit on MGM Mirage's $8.6 billion dollar gamble in a stunningly beautiful dodecaphonic chorale. Yes, listening to MGM Mirage VP of PR Gordon Absher whiff at my two attempts at squeezing a description of ARIA out of him made me wish I had never asked. Yes, hearing MGM Mirage CEO talk about the property to The Strip Podcast smeared a pencil Wayne stache of blood on the nose of this shark. Yes, their marketing lead up was hyperbolically vague, bafflingly ineffective and borderline disorganized.
When the doors of the joint finally open, all of the Pre-game show quarterbacking, pecking order jockeying, pre-supposing of particulars and preconceived perceptions get thrown out with the last bits of construction debris. It is here where theory becomes fact: can I find the bar? is there seating in this bar? is it comfortable? is there a server to take my drink order? is there a bartender to make my drink? does the bar have the booze and mixers I want? is the service prompt, friendly and courteous? Were prices in line with my requests? did the drink taste good? did I enjoy the atmosphere? would I come back?
The Minor Complaint Dept.
The fob style door lock didn't work when I needed it most. Room service delivery gal asked me for directions to a room. The water pressure is a LEED certified medium-gusto. The windows were dirty. The house phone on my floor didn't work. Housekeeping banged on my door at 8am. Bell service from Vdara to ARIA is non-existent. I lost $200 playing video poker. A rum and coke cost $12. Those photos of Christopher Walken dipped in spooj are kinda creepy. There wasn't an out of tune Strat in my room when I needed it most. After 7pm, evening wear should be encouraged/required in the casino... there's nothing more awesome than a casino that is filled with people dressed to the nines, ordering drinks Don Draper would approve of.
But the big question remains, that yardstick by which I would measure ARIA's success? Like a Rhino, baby.