Atlantic City Diaries, Chapter 14: Cheap Trick at Harrah’s

Posted: November 19, 2013 by rorypatrick in Atlantic City Diaries
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Cheap Trick

How does seeing Cheap Trick at Harrah’s in mid-November sound to you?  Mildly entertaining, with a slight chance of being horribly depressing?  Me too!  Let’s dive right into this bad boy:

11:30AM – You know, every one of these diaries start out with a bus journey, and I figure it is all old hat by now.  Nothing new would happen.  In fact, this is exactly how I started Chapter 13 before being proven wrong.  You would think that this would easily be the most routine and ho-hum part of the journey: riding a bus on the Garden State Parkway for 2.5 hours.  But, there’s always something to report.

In this case, however, it was pre-bus.  This trip was just the dynamic duo: OB and myself.  As loyal readers know, OB has begun the last few trips (starting with Chapter 11) by ordering a sausage, egg, and cheese sandwich in Port Authority, and stuffing it down before it has had a chance to cool, ceremonially burning his mouth in the process.  I’m not sure what the point of this tradition is, but it seems to give OB so much pleasure (and pain) that I can’t help getting excited when it comes time for it.  If there are two things that will be mentioned in the first line of OB’s obituary, it will be his love of extremely hot eggs, and his highly controversial Springsteen-based political rants.

Anyway, we come into a situation where the man behind the counter had just finished dealing with an unruly customer.  This situations can always be a bit dicey, but OB’s charm had the man laughing in no time (I would describe it as “charm”, OB would describe it as “general happiness in anticipation of a sausage, egg, and cheese sandwich”).  The man even feels comfortable to boast that his soda prices are the lowest in town, and has no problem laughing at OB’s last name, calling him a mick.  It is this demeanor that has made him the greatest man at reheating sandwiches in the basement of Port Authority.  One scalding hot sandwich later, and we are on the bus down to Atlantic City.

3:00PM – The bus flies down to AC without a hitch.  The crowd on the bus is sparse and quiet, and combined with the weak traffic, I was anticipating that the city would be fairly dead.  Which wouldn’t be too surprising, given that it is a random weekend in November.  However, upon arriving at Caesar’s, we find the place is bustling with activity.  This is a good sign, but would the same hold true at Harrah’s, in the distant Marina-land of Atlantic City?  At Caesar’s, we quickly blow through our bus vouchers (after an unsuccessful search for the legendary KISS slot machines, we settle on Star Wars slots and last about as long as Jek Porkins) and head to Harrah’s.

5:30 – It has been a great couple hours in Harrah’s.  Check-in is a breeze, the room is clean, the beds are comfortable, and the room service, which we are now devouring, is delicious.  OB and I have been listening to happy music for the last hour (beginning with Leslie Gore’s “Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows,” naturally), and couldn’t be in a better mood.  I must say, we don’t head to Harrah’s that frequently (the only Harrah’s appearance was in Chapter 9), but it is slowly growing on me.  With our bellies full and our livers boozed, we head down to get some pre-Cheap Trick gambling done.

7:00 – OB is putting on a performance for the ages at blackjack.  After busting out early, he hit an ATM, and has begun rebuilding his empire.  In one hand, he placed a large bet, hit blackjack, and took an applause break.  He shouted so loud in his victory, that people at other tables gave him a standing ovation.  The celebration lasted so long, that when OB settled down, he wondered why the dealer hadn’t dealt him into the next hand.  I tell him, “We’re still playing the same hand!  You just took 10 minutes to celebrate!”  I, meanwhile, am on another slow road to hell, not able to put together a decent winning streak, and blow out my budget.  It is my second poor showing in AC in a row, but OB’s performance had made my time at the tables completely worth it.  It would be a tough act for Cheap Trick to follow.

9:00 – We head to the concert venue Harrah’s, which is called, interestingly enough, the Harrah’s Concert Venue.  They don’t need to dress this place up with some fancy name like “House of Blues” or the “Circus Maximus Theater”.  You want to see a concert in a venue?  Well, go to The Concert Venue.

Cheap Trick eschews the opening act, and comes out to Simpsons quotes, which in retrospect, is a pretty bad-ass move.  From there, they put on quite the show.  There were only about 800 or so people in the crowd, but you wouldn’t be able to tell that from looking at the stage.  They were giving it their all, as if performing for a sold-out Giants stadium.  I expected to see an aging band, past their prime, going through the motions, but not Cheap Trick.  They can still throw fastballs.

The audience, as is frequently the case in Atlantic City, wasn’t really buying in.  The first few rows were rocking out, but in the seats where OB and I were sitting, most people were half-drunk, half-sleepy, and just bobbing their heads in their seats.  The audience seemed so glued to their seats, I said they should rename the town Atlantic Sit-y.  And then I wanted to kick my own ass for that making that joke.

OB, thoroughly enjoying the concert, felt the urge in his lower body and needed to dance, so we headed towards the back rows and rocked out.  It was a smart move that we should’ve done earlier during the show.  They played all their classics, and a couple unexpected tunes (such as “Gonna Raise Hell”).  Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with the show, but OB absolutely loved it.  He would continue to rave about it throughout the night.

11:00 – We go back to the room to regroup, drink, and shower.  This shower is revitalizing – I was running on empty towards the end of the concert, but the shower gave me the energy I needed to party all night.  And that is what we decided to do.

We go down to the casino floor, and my pockets are empty, so I leave OB at the blackjack tables and try to find somewhere I could sit, drink, and watch the Nets lose on television.  Unfortunately, the only sports channels they have are ESPN and ESPN2.  I began to seethe at the sight of Boise State’s blue field.  Has one college ever gotten so much publicity out of a) having a blue field and b) running a couple trick plays in a bowl game six years ago?  I mean, take away the blue field, and you have some random school in a state that doesn’t exist with a horsey for a mascot.  Boise State – I’m calling you out!  You are on my list!  I still need to finish the list, and decide what being on the list means.  But, trust me, it’s not good.  I think.

Anyway, my failure is coinciding with OB’s failure, and when I meet him again at the blackjack table, he is pretty tapped out.  We decide to head back to the room again to drink, which is always a solid course of action after a casino takes your money.

2:00AM – ….and we’re back on the casino floor.  OB hits an ATM and cashes in some comps he had earned with the casino, amount to just $5 in free slot play.  It may not seem like much, and I thought the same, until we found the King of Cool’s slot machines.

Yes, Dean Martin himself is the latest celebrity to grace the glowing lights of the slot machine industry.  Subtitled “The Vegas Shindig”, it was easily one of the more confounding machines on the floor.  Icons that seeming indicated a sure win came up with bupkis, while wins and spin bonuses came at of thin air.  As OB worked his $5 up to nearly $50, I pleaded (as usual) for him to cash out and lose the rest on the tables, but OB steadfastly plugged away until his comp money was gone.  Ain’t that a kick in the head?

OB takes his last remaining cash to the poker room to try his luck.  Poker rooms always intimidate me in casinos.  Everyone already knows what they are doing.  It’s like playing Dance Dance Revolution in an arcade: you never see beginners doing it.  It is interesting, though, because the dealer-player dynamic is completely different than in blackjack.  In blackjack, the dealers rarely talk, but the players can be as fun as they want (ala OB’s previous standing ovation, earlier in the night).  At the poker table, the players are strictly business, while the dealer is keeping things lively.  The dealer’s lingo while dealing is particularly amazing.  “Hold the ham boys we’re around the pike with another monkey bowling ball and three’s to the wind.”  Or something like that.  I should let you know I’ve been drinking heavily for over 12 hours.

While OB is doing his best at poker, I decide to putz around the casino.  I foolishly decided to gamble a little more, and sat down next to an extremely lucky man named “KK”, which reminded me of the great Net Kerry Kittles.  KK hit about 4 blackjacks in 10 hands, and, fortunately, his luck rubbed off on me.  I was able to put a dent in my losses, but still finished in the red.  Basically, the free Cheap Trick show now cost me what the ticket value was, and I was fine with that.

4:00 – I’m falling in love with Harrah’s.  Now, I do not get paid to write this (despite my best efforts), I must say: Harrah’s is my favorite casino in Atlantic City.  I was always a Boardwalk man, but either the places are a bit too pricey (like Caesar’s or Revel), or they are just absolute dumps (Atlantic Club, Trump Plaza).  And, the Boardwalk casinos go to bed so early.  Last chapter, we heard last call at 10PM on a three-day weekend, and nobody was partying.  Tonight, as the hours ticked by, you still saw random groups of people clearly just starting their night.  Perhaps it is helped by The Pool nightclub, which seems to attract a ton of people, but I love the atmosphere of Harrah’s so much.  It is a healthy mix between those who want to gamble, those who want to go to a club, and those who want to do both.  Expect to see Harrah’s more and more in these Atlantic City diaries.

The night ended around 6:00AM, with OB swearing he was going to go back down and gamble more, just before passing out on the bed.  While this trip didn’t have the grandeur of running the marathon or delightful guest appearances by AC Diary mainstays like Keith and Finn, it was a solid return to basics: drinking, gambling, and concerts.  It opened our eyes: sometimes the best putzing lays away from the Boardwalk.  Once again, Cheap Trick has changed my life.

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