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'Requiem For A Lost Mythology' or 'ARIA : Confutatis Maledictus (In Advance)'

By Chuckmonster on Tuesday, 24th February 2009 11:37pm
  » filed under Las Vegas  comments: 6


I am not an expert, I am a fan.

(Lord, have mercy.)

Experts, by definition, are persons with 'comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of or skill in a particular area.' My problems with the definition are two - the limitation in breadth and a deep distrust of those who wear the self-appointed badge of authority.

Fans, by definition, are persons who have a 'strong interest in or admiration for a particular sport, art form or famous person.'

If I had to say where my fandom lies, I'd offer up 'aesthetics' - loosely, the methodologies and principles of artistry. I spend a great deal of time wondering how things - cars, computers, compositions, cartoons or casinos - have meaningful relationships with individuals, foster communities (groups of individuals) and attract or repel masses (groups of communities.)

In the early 1990's, a band called Phish played at my college in upstate New York. At the urging of friends, I went to the show, which took place in a small multi-purpose room filled with about 150 other folks, most of whom looked like they were banished from Kashyyyk for possession of LSD. About half-way through the first set of songs, at the zenith of a tremendous improvisation, the guitarist played this whiny five note descending lick, at the end of which the band (and about 85% of the audience) fell down on the ground, leaving everyone who didn't know the 'audio clue' - presumably Phish virgins - standing like a dork in sudden silence, wondering wtf just happened. It was an amazing sight to behold - and a demonstration of the potent and playful community that was thriving around the band and its music. Fortunately for me, my friend knew the clue, hit the deck and pulled me down onto the floor (and into the community.) As they say, I was hooked.

Because of this small fragment of aesthetic 'stuff,' a complex array of relationships and emotional bonds are formed, nurtured and tested. When sewn together, reassessed and recombined they become mythology, a secret language of memes and references that act as community shorthand and provide conceptual continuity (see Zappa.) Localized examples of mythology include "Wayne Fucking Newton", "Wayne F. Newton", "Firstname F. Lastname" and a recent offshoot "Chuck S. Monster" courtesy of Hunter 'H.' Hillegas. Circus Circus = Circus2 = Circus Squared = C2. The Donald. The Steve. Steverino. Stevester. Then there's that whole thing about the 'Blue Tape.' Get the picture?

We Built Copy/Pasted This City

Casino mega-resorts need mythology. They need it so bad, they've elevated cultural thievery into an art form unto itself. Remnants of this golden age of theming still dot the strip, some more intact than others. To varying degrees of success, casino owners elect to make a break with their mythology and 'start fresh.' Current examples include, Mirage's modernization, Luxor's de-glyph-ification and Tropicana's further de-(uh)-classing whatever it was that remained of the Tiffany on the Strip. The problem with de-mythologizing, is detox becomes part of the mythology, never fully replacing the previous.

On a macro scale, 'Vintage Vegas' is a myth, a tightly held tarball of vague memories, which contain the collected the individual myths of the Sands, Dunes, Rat Pack, the mob, loss leading steaks and suites and the retro-mythologists who have attempted to resurrect the Vintage Vegas myth. Similarly, the concept of 'Theme Vegas' is also a myth - just search/replace the appropriate property names and French Canadian circus dynasty. One day, the current era of Las Vegas will become labeled and mythologized as well - I nominate "Vegas : Profundu Lacu."

One thing is for sure, it takes a helluva lot less creative brainpower to reduce, reuse & recycle a mythology than it does to invent one.

The Lost

The recent announcement that ARIA has begun accepting reservations in advance of its December 2009 grand opening, coupled with a public unveiling of the property's identity via website has left me wondering - what is the mythology of ARIA?

ARIA is the resort & casino component of a CityCenter, a mini-city within a city, designed to the nines by a veritable who's who of architectural luminaries. City Center's very essence - an urban center - is chock full of the mythology of metropolitan living, but devoid of direct locational references (other than twin leaning Veer's subtle tribute to the fallen World Trade Center.) Like any metro center, there is a (quirky) shopping mall, a public transportation system (The C.C.C.C - CityCenter Choo-Choo), a slew of hotel towers, business centers and residences and a casino!

ARIA Remember to Breathe

Tuba Mirum

aria - a long, accompanied song for a solo voice, typically one in an opera or oratorio, from the Latin aer 'air.'

The voice is a wind instrument, it requires air for it to make sound. No air = no sound - unlike viola, drumset, piano or Theremin. When we speak, sing or scream (MONKEY!) we expel air, and usually trim our thoughts - verbal, musical or otherwise - into phrases equivalent to the length of an exhalation. When we encounter a chatterbox (or a Coltrane) who works against this principle, we listeners tend to have a physiological reaction to their unnatural conversational style - tension.

By reminding us to breathe, ARIA (the joint) is sending an invitation to relax. Breathing is an involuntary action, remembering to do so is unnecessary... so why remind us? Because we will be left breathless by architecture? Ok. But is this mythology?

"About ARIA"

ARIA Resort & Casino is an electrifying blend of energy, creativity and intelligent luxury. It sets a new global standard for elegance and style and is committed to environmental responsibility for both today and tomorrow.
Two curvilinear crystalline towers sweep together to rise 61 stories from the heart of CityCenter, bringing the visionary design by world-renowned architecture firm Pelli Clarke Pelli to life. Inside is a warm and inviting environment filled with natural elements of reclaimed wood and native stone. Natural light fills the glass-enclosed corridors and illuminate the luxurious and contemporary surroundings.

From what I've seen and read about CityCenter, this is as appropriate a description as any. For the purposes of inventing ARIA's mythology - the visceral and emotional reasons why I/you/we need to be there - it reads more like a blurb from Architectural Digest, i.e. fail. Perhaps this assertion is incorrect, and the locus of target market demographic are well-heeled architects or bone rolling green industry aficionados. I doubt it. Perhaps, the grandeur of having a grand concept became grander than having a concept - a towering MGM Venti, filled with sustainable, and flavorless - hot water. Is there an expert in the house?


Wynn Las Vegas was originally intended to be called 'Le Reve' (The Dream) named after the Picasso painting of the same name. When all was said and done, WLV became 'the dream' - a cinematic canvas upon which our emotions, senses and actions were amplified and turned on. Even the original production show reinforced the resorts totality - Le Reve.

ARIA, will play host to the 426th Cirque du Soleil show on the Strip : Elvis. Elvis fits in with the 'aria' as song concept, but then again... any singer would - why Elvis and not Placido Domingo, or Mozart, or Thom Yorke? Is there anyway to make such an obvious choice - ELVIS - not appear pandering? And how does Elvis relate to reclaimed wood, natural light and environmental responsibility?

Confutatis Maledictus

As currently presented, ARIA's mythology is lost among a bullet point recounting of its achievements in girder and glass. Breathe, I will... in counterpoint with long squints, drumming of thumbs and a series of extended head scratches.

What shall I, a wretch, say then? I'm a fan, not an expert.



Comments & Discussion:

Those are some purty words Charles. I too am a fan, although not as well written as you, and I hope that Aria succeeds in delivering a resort that I can be comfortable at. I am not affluent enough to be comfortable at Wynn Las Vegas and likely not hip enough to be at Fountainbleu. So where go I, Mr. Middle-upper class, fit in? Right now at Mirage-TI-MGM Grand and hopefully Aria.

I thot x was the unknown, and a spurt was a drip under pressure, therefore and expert (x-spurt) is.... come on..... you can do it......

well put, this was one of those blinding moments of intelligence I've heard so much about

Excellent grammar, good use of conceptual themes and good research.
Don't forget to cite your reference sources.

I'll have what Chuck's Smoking.

Nice one, Chuck. But where's the Dies Irae?

thanks for the kind words all. occasionally i put my thinking cap on.

@metalman very clever. i think there are some words from that in there somewhere.

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