The Artistry Of ARIA

Like a Rhino, Baby

Posted by Chuckmonster

ARIA review

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.

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Comments & Discussion

I fall into the The Bores categories..

Your complaint list was longer than mine. I am proven wrong. Aria (ARIA is so pre-opening) wins!

great gonzo writing skills. Reading your work is more fun that any ARIA tour.
Thank you and congrats on the only blog I take time to read.

I want to read about it?

Just bang out a few thousand words like this each time you come to Vegas, and by this time next year you'll be putting the finishing touches on a book manuscript. I see it as a response to Bruce Begout's Zeropolis.

You could call it Rhinopolis.

further proof that it falls into the "bore" category:

not only does that pic make you think of a real airport, but it also looks almost exactly like the airport in one of the Grand Theft Auto video games too. I think it was the Vice City one, but i can't remember.

i have no problem with post-ultra-modern-futurism when it comes to architecture, but since MGM has been trying to do this with all of their properties, little by little, it doesn't pack the same punch that it should have. it has a been there-done that feel.

The Wynn decided to go the high-end european look, which was (for the most part) only being done by the Bellagio, and to a lesser extent by mandalay bay and monte carlo, and exceeded the "euro-charm" (?) of the bellagio. it took it to the next level. the Mirage took theming to a new level - prior to that, most places were still old west themed, or had the copa cabana/rat pack feel. they showed it was okay to pick a different theme, and raised the bar.

initial impressions of Aria (i still say the logo looks like Avia) just don't have that same...oomph to me. if there had not been an effort to detheme hotels, it may have been able to stand out better, instead it reminds us of the mish-mosh that the Luxor and other hotels have become.

Don't get me wrong - i loved the W hotel when i stayed there in NYC, and the hallways even had a small bit of a vegas feel to them (maybe it was the booze and the neon). But that worked - a high end, ultra modern hotel in the middle of an old city. Maybe if MGM hadn't devoted so much overall property to the concept, it might have worked, but it just seems to be too complex to easily venture in and out like other properties. even getting from one component of City Center to another is a hassle, let alone the monorail which is supposed to easily link you from one property to the adjoining ones.

i guess time will tell.

Obvious Contrarianism is a new religion!

That paragraph on The Timid sounds pretty much sounds like it's targeting Everything I Ever Wrote About Wynncore, and a number of other subjects. So allow me to just quickly explain the thought process of The Timid:

I've slowly fallen out of love for the Strip because I've since spent a significant time walking around it (like, every time since I've moved to this city) as a very low income schlub. When going to vegas as a tourist, your stories and experiences are all about you ("I won $200" "I went to the buffet" "I saw a show") and as a money-less schlub your experiences are about everyone else ("Look at this idiot pounding on the door to a closed restaurant..." "If I was a high-earning executive in this business, I'd put in a general store here..." "These dumb idiots are spending what I make in six months to spend a couple hours in this loud hot room.")

When you spend significant time on the Strip as someone who is never able to please themselves, you become very cynical and notice that the entire Strip is just this catwalk where people show off their wealth. And to people who don't like seeing displays of wealth (and not having any can you make you one of 'em), that makes the entire thing a great big stinkeroo.

Still, I have always given Bellagio a pass compared to other hotels for giving the schlub a little bit of time to be amused. The fountain shows, the conservatory, the (relatively cheap) art gallery. You would not believe my disappointment when Steve Wynn's return to the Strip was highlighted on the concept of exclusivity. In Vegas most anything you can think of is available in abundant quantities, so exclusivity simply means Wynn is charging even more for everything to use price as a barrier and keep a certain amount of people away. And by putting his water show behind a mountain and his fancy cars behind a price barrier, the flat broke get nothin' but a velvet rope to stand on the side of so as not to get in the way of the people with greenbacks.

Aria is, from this perspective, actually quite nice. The parks, art, opportunities for people-watching, gives the schlub a lot more to do than Wynncore. It is a lot more 'chill', I do not feel like I am being hustled to spend money, perhaps because there are moments when you are not being asked to. There are elements other than a casino and off-the-casino access to expensive restaurants or a golf course. Yeah, everything in the Crystals is basically intended for millionaires, but I haven't met anyone, including those who visit nothing less but five-star hotels every time they go to Vegas, who has ever gone into the Crystals and found anything affordable for their budget. All peoples who enter will be equalized by high prices into feeling like broke peasants. At least until all the stores go away from only having one customer each in ten months.

This Timid sees Aria, not Wynn/Encore, as the follow-up to Bellagio. And that's a good thing. You can walk around and observe and treat yourself to the occasional $6 bagel or $25 lunch, without feeling like the entire resort closes itself off from you once you've closed your wallet.

So, even from my "eat the rich" point of view, yes sir, Mikey likes it.

Why must almost all your remarks and reports contain some type of scatological reference? Are you that limited in your vocabulary?

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