Posts Tagged ‘putzing’

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Finally, after years and years of winter, springtime is starting in the Northeast.  What better time to go down to Atlantic City for a quick run?  This diary features my mom’s birthday celebration, the return of OB (last seen singing “Surrender“), the return of my gambling ways, and a trip to a heart-shaped bathtub.  Onward and upward!

Friday

3:00PM – This weekend is set to be extremely packed for me: multiple dinners to attend, a 7K to run, and tons of gambling to partake in.  However, a miscommunication between my mom and I puts me in my Showboat hotel room with about five hours to kill until dinner at Scarduzio’s.  It would be way too early to start gambling, especially since I’m staying the entire weekend.  So, I kill time by doing a perusal of the boardwalk.  To spice it up, I decide to stop in a bunch of those stores selling corny t-shirts and various other crap.  From the outside, they always appear to me as adding to the whimsy of the Atlantic City Boardwalk – these tiny, cheap shops serving as the ying to the giant casinos’ yang.  However, on the inside, they reek with the same depression you find on the slot machines at 5AM in the morning (not to mention, the smell of these shops is overwhelming – it’s like when you visit someone else’s grandparents’ house, and you can tell that everyone else there has gotten used to the smell, but you haven’t, and you start to die inside).

The disappointment of these stores is augmented by the terrible weather.  It is cold, windy, and rainy, and the report does not look great for tomorrow.  I had briefly entertained switching from doing the 7K to the 11K, but that notion got killed by my walk along the boardwalk.  Feeling a bit depressed, I decided to just grab a six-pack and go back to the room and do some reading.

(Just to note: many casinos have now adopted a strict rule that you cannot bring your own booze.  Pro-tip: this rule is circumvented through this trick — I put my beer in a black plastic bag.  I know this sounds complicated and tricky, so I’d recommend bookmarking this page so you can remember how to sneak booze into a casino the next time you are in AC).

8:30 – With my mom and her fiance checked in, we head to Scarduzio’s in Showboat for some pre-race steaks.  As always, Scarduzio’s does not disappoint.  It is my personal favorite steak place in Atlantic City, beating American Cut in Revel.  After dinner, we part, as my mom has to get some gambling in, and she only gambles by herself.  Unfortunately, she learns the same lesson that I have learned time and time again: the Showboat is a horrible bitch.  I, too, have to get a bit of gambling in before I go to bed; the Showboat devours my bus voucher, but I hold my own in about 15 minutes of blackjack.  And with that, I’m off to bed for the 7K tomorrow morning.

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Last month, tragedy struck the Atlantic City Boardwalk as the Atlantic Club, formerly known as the Atlantic City Hilton (among other names), closed its doors.  While in recent trips I haven’t been visiting the Atlantic Club, it still held a special place in my heart.  In my first trips down to Atlantic City, I frequented it regularly due to its plethora of cheap rooms, cheap tables, and cheap drinks (although it wasn’t the same once the Dizzy Dolphin removed their signature Dizzy Dolphin cocktail, which was basically cirrhosis in a cup).  It is sad to see such a place go, and I can’t help feel bad for the poor alcoholics in their early 20’s who are now down one less place to go in Atlantic City.  I truly regret neglecting the Atlantic Club in these past few years, and am remiss that I couldn’t even say goodbye.

With a heavy heart, I vowed never to let this happen again.  For too long, I’ve leaned too heavily on old faithful casinos like Harrah’s and Showboat, while neglecting to give my love to the Golden Nugget or Resorts.  So, on a random Sunday in February, Keith and I attempted something done by few bloggers/drinkers/gambling addicts/poor decision makers have done before: visit all 11 Atlantic City casinos in one night.

9:00AM – That’s right, we took a bus to Atlantic City at 9AM on a Sunday.  For those curious, the bus was about 40% full (Keith and I each had two seats to ourselves), and we made record time heading down (arriving in just under 2:25).  To set the mood: I was packing light (just a toothbrush in one pocket and a half-dozen casino players cards in the other), and downing orange juice and vodka on the ride down (it was before noon, so I had to keep it classy).  We arrived at Bally’s, where we would be staying that night, but the check-in line was too long, and as per Rule 3, we had to gamble immediately.  The first stop: Trump Plaza.

Keith Stone: I, of course, packed a full backpack and forgot my toothbrush, which was really the only thing I needed. I was drinking a copious amount of vodka poured into a liter bottle of Pepsi I got from a bodega the night before. Towards the end of the ride, I dropped the bottle cap and it rolled a few seats behind us. I decided to leave it since I’m lazier than Eddy Curry after signing a contract extension. Little did I know, I would keep refilling this Pepsi bottle with vodka and spilling it the entire night. I was like a wild animal marking my territory — gamblerus alchoholous — and my territory was the funnest place on Earth (in southern New Jersey).

As for this “class” thing that Rory talks about, I’m like school in the summertime.

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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.

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My-Photos-Third-Eye-Blind

As a young lad growing up in New Jersey, summer was my favorite season.  Not so much because of the weather, but really because of the all the free time I had.  I loved the freedom from the regimented school day, and used this new-found autonomy in the most efficient way possible: playing video games and reading comic books.  However, as I’ve become older and more grizzled, summer is dropping down in my season power rankings.  I’m sweating in the subway to work, all vacation spots are increasing their prices, and I spend 20 minutes putting on sunscreen to go out and check the mail.  And yet, even as the glory days of summer become a thing of the past, I still love Memorial Day weekend, as it signifies the start of what will assuredly be the greatest summer ever.  This year, things kicked off the way my younger self would have whole-heartedly approved of: a Third Eye Blind concert.

The crew for this adventure consisted of the Atlantic City veteran and man of leisure, OB, and good-friend-but-Atlantic-City-novice Steve.  Like many of our trips, this tale begins in the subterranean basement of Port Authority, waiting at gate 80….

3:30PM – OB and I are waiting on an ever-growing line for a bus to Caesar’s.  As it is Memorial Day weekend, the crowd is more numerous and more hostile.  Behind us, a crazy women dressed like Stevie Nicks is monitoring the line, yelling at people she suspects may be cutting in (when in reality, they are just asking if this was the right gate, or they had been in line already).  We are slightly nervous, as Steve has been unresponsive so far, and sneaking him into our spot in line may prove difficult.  However, another bus to Atlantic City shows up at the adjacent gate, and the crazy lady hops on it.  The first crisis of the weekend has been averted.

4:00 – Due to the excess of people, there are two buses waiting to take people to Caesar’s at the scheduled time.  We begin to board, with Steve still incommunicado.  We have to pass up the first bus, and things are starting to look dicey.  The next bus is the “last of the Mohicans,” a strange Greyhound worker tells us.  As OB and I try to unwrap this baffling piece of information, Steve makes a dramatic last minute appearance, and we are able to get the second bus.  Second crisis averted, and we are off to Atlantic City!

6:25 – At our estimated arrival time, we arrive….at exit 102 on the Garden State Parkway.  The traffic is bad but not unexpected – it is Memorial Day Weekend after all.  However, the concert starts at 9:00PM, and I still do not have a ticket to the concert.  Just to explain the situation – OB was given two complimentary tickets, but the seat location was not set.  I would like to get a third complimentary ticket, but failing that, I would like to buy a ticket near where they are sitting.

Anyway, this bus ride was not as booze-filled as our usual trips.  Since it is just the Friday of a three day weekend, we are all playing the long game – you don’t want to get too drunk too early.  We pass the extended bus ride by playing a “top 3” game, where we name our top 3 songs by particular artists, or top 3 movies by particular actors.  We are cool.

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4

It has been far, FAR too long since the boys and I have putzed the night away in Atlantic City.  Our last adventure, featuring Finn, OB, Keith, and myself, was way back in September.  Well, this time, the same crew reunited, heading down to see the Anti-Social Comedy Tour, featuring Jim Norton, Amy Schumer, Dave Attell, and Artie Lange.  I have to tell you, having gone nearly six months without a hit, spin, or roll of the dice was giving me the shakes.    The night before our trip, OB and I got into the right frame of mind by watching “gambling” episodes of our favorite TV comedies, such as Futurama’s “Viva Mars Vegas,” The Office’s “Casino Night,” and South Park’s “Red Man’s Greed.”  Needless to say, I could already smell the extra oxygen they allegedly pump into the casinos.

Our game plan was simple.  We had a room in Bally’s, which, fortunately, connects to one-and-a-half other casinos (Caesar’s and what is left of the Wild Wild West casino).  With this as our home base, we would have an ample area to putz about, without having to face the elements (it was freezing cold out).  The comedy show was at The Borgata at 7:30, which would help break up the night.  After that, we’d gamble until we rebuilt Atlantic City’s economy.  Like I said, the game plan was simple.  So let’s see if we stuck to it.

12:00PM – Our 12:30 bus arrived 30 minutes early, and left 10 minutes early.  I must say, this was a pleasant surprise.  Our bus driver was a friendly man with a thick accent who reminded Keith of his priest.  I didn’t drink much on the trip, using it to catch up with Keith and OB (Finn was driving down to meet us later).  Also, the light was out in the bathroom.  Not much to say here.

Keith Stone: Hey, what can I say? I went to church to absolve myself of my future sins, which may or may not include peeing all over the bus toilet seat. I also kept my streak alive of drinking Bandit wine on the trip down. I drank it out of a Gatorade bottle. Gotta keep hydrated.

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With the economy in the tank, legalized gambling has begun to sprout up all over the northeast.  New casinos have opened in New York City and Philadelphia, and legalized sports gambling is being pushed hard by Chris Christie in New Jersey.  These venues have given hardcore gamblers a more local way to sate their sinful desires.  Personally, I’m not addicted enough to try out the New York City casino yet, as it is in the distant land they call “Queens,” and there’s much more fun to be had all over the city (plus, NO BLACKJACK!).

With this new competition, Atlantic City has been forced to dump money into new marketing, creating the “How I Do AC” campaign.  The basis of this campaign isn’t just to spotlight everything you CAN do in Atlantic City, but spotlighting what you DO do (snicker) in Atlantic City.  These ads encourage you to make Atlantic City your own, and they want you to share your personal experience on Twitter using the hashtag #HowIDoAC.  But, 140 characters cannot contain me, so I’ve created a 12-step program.  I humbly present to you: How Rory Does AC.

1. Take Public Transportation – I know some people fear public transportation.  Driving there offers more freedom – you don’t have to stick to a schedule, you can play your own music, and, most importantly, you don’t have to deal with the riff-raff that often inhabits public transportation.  But, when going to Atlantic City, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better deal.  For one, the price can’t be beat.  If you are living in New York City, the bus will cost you just under $40, and that’s for the entire round trip.  Gas and tolls would easily cost twice as much.  In addition, many bus lines offer gambling vouchers which, while won’t cover the ride, are fun to put aside and use as an extra bet if you are down on your luck.  But, most importantly, the bus allows you to both prepare and repair yourself mentally from Atlantic City.  The “prepare” part comes on the way down, where I’ve taken to having a few adult beverages to get myself loose.  The “repair” part comes when you leave the city, as you recover from your long night with a solid nap on the bus.  You could drink and sleep in your own personal vehicle, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend it.

2. Get A Player’s Card At Every Casino – It baffles me that people do not get player’s cards.  They are free, and have literally no downside.  Through my player’s cards, I have gotten numerous free room stays and bets.  However, it is important not to overestimate the comp dollars you’ll earn with these cards – I’ve checked my cards after all-night gambling binges to see a robust $1.16 worth of comps.  But hey, that’s $1.16 I didn’t have before.  Many cards also have bonuses for new members, so if you haven’t signed up yet, make sure you do.

3. Gamble Almost Immediately – Really, get it out of your system.  There have been times where I’ve gone to Atlantic City, then checked into the room, then went to dinner, and then saw a concert.  And you know what was running through my head the whole time?  GAMBLE GAMBLE GAMBLE GAMBLE.  I couldn’t enjoy either the meal or the concert with that thought on my mind.  In Chapter 5, I gambled within minutes of debarking the bus, and was much happier for it.  Once you are done gambling, you can enjoy the other sites and sounds of the city, such as….

4. Walk The Boardwalk – Atlantic City has a beautiful, historic boardwalk.  On a lovely day, there’s nothing better than taking a stroll, stopping in novelty stores, hearing the ocean, feeling the sunshine…..

OK, you fellow gamblers know this is bullshit.  Really, just get outside.  Casinos have no windows, no clocks, and you are constantly bombarded by flashing lights and the ding-ding-dinging of slot machines.  A walk on the boardwalk will do you good, if only to get you fresh air and reconnect yourself with reality.

5. Buffets – The last two times I went to Atlantic City, I was fortunate enough to be treated to dinner by my good friend OB.  However, if you are on a budget, buffets are the way to go.  I’ve always liked the Resorts buffet, with its cheesy decor and endless crab legs.  The Atlantic Club casino seems to have the cheapest buffet on the boardwalk, but I have yet to try it out.  But, please, a moment of silence for the Wild Wild West’s Virginia City buffet.  It shall be missed.

6. Pool Time – Much like walking the boardwalk, this is another activity to relax you and keep you away from the tables a bit.  I’ve hit the pool the last two times with Keith, and have found it a nice way to both soothe your mind from the gambling you have done and will do.  While many pools offer a poolside bar, your best bet is to bring a drink down with you, as it can be a bit pricey.

7. Pay As Little As Possible For Your Hotel Room – When you go down to Atlantic City, you will be spending very little time in your hotel room.  The city never sleeps, and there is always something going on.  I feel like the world is passing me by whenever I’m in the hotel room.  With this in mind, try to get a comped room.  The aforementioned player cards will be useful in this regard – you can even add your friend’s card to the room to help reduce the price.  If the rooms are still too expensive, there are some seedy motels nearby.  I wouldn’t recommend these for everyone, but if you are on a budget, it could be a fun adventure.  The rooms there are such cliched dumps that it almost looks like they were purposely designed that way.

8. Sleep – While you may stay out to the wee hours of the morning, get some sleep.  Be it four hours, three hours, or even 30 minutes, any amount of sleep in Atlantic City will do you wonders.  I’ve pulled all-nighters in Atlantic City, and by the end, you feel physically and emotionally drained.  Your judgement starts to dissipate, and you make careless errors in gambling.  You’ll even be too tired to celebrate winning, as gambling will just turn into a joyless chore.  So yes, sleep will do you good.

9. Visit Other Casinos – Get a feel for the whole city.  I always enjoyed perusing the other casinos to see how the atmosphere was like in each one.  You may walk into a depressing hellhole (like I saw at the Trump Plaza last time), or an unexpected party (like I saw at Showboat bank in Chapter 2).  Staying in the same casino all night gets boring – eventually you’ll start to recognize all the dealers and gamblers.  Sure, the other casinos may be worse than the one you left, but that will just make you appreciate returning back that much more.

10. Break Up The Night With A Show – Once Atlantic City hits 8pm or so, the pools, shops, and buffets start to close.  There really isn’t much to do outside gamble and drink, which is fun, but if you plan to stay up to 4AM, that’ll be 8 hours of partying, which would tire out Andrew WK.  That’s why I’ve based many of my trips down around a show of some sort.  The show will break up the night, and give you a completely unique experience.  Many times, when you head to AC, the show will already be pre-planned, such as my trips to see the Orion Music Festival, Summerland, and Louie CK.  However, there was one time I was down with OB, and we had no plans.  We were getting killed at the tables, and decided to spend some money to see a Beatles tribute band.  While the show wasn’t anything special, we got a solid 2 hours of entertainment away from the gambling floor.

11. Know Your Budget – Whenever you go to Atlantic City, you’ll either win money or lose money.  No shit, right?  And, more often than not, you’ll lose money.  However, that doesn’t mean you’ll have a bad time.  It is all about setting a strict gambling budget.  Your adherence to your budget is your best indicator of how much fun you’ll have in Atlantic City.

When I used to go down, I was soft with my budget.  I would plan to gamble a bit, lose it, then hit an ATM, then lose that money.  By losing more than I should, it ruined some otherwise great trips.  Now, I have a strict amount I’m set to lose – I even refuse to bring my ATM card with me (which has its drawbacks – sometimes if I win I’d like to put the cash back into the ATM, but can’t).  It is extremely important to gamble within your means, and to realize that this is not a way to make your riches.  I feel like telling that to a gambler is like telling a child that Santa isn’t real, but it is true.  However, just as you can still enjoy Christmas knowing it is all fake, you can enjoy gambling knowing that your money will be gone soon.  Bottom line – any time you place a bet, assume that you’ve lost that money already.  Your money is as good as gone as soon as the cards get dealt, the roulette wheel spins, or the dice get tossed.  And ask yourself, “Am I OK with losing this bet?”  If the answer is “No,” stop gambling.

12. If All Else Fails – BOOZE! – Seriously, if you are out of money, just booze it up!  Alcohol is extremely cheap in Atlantic City, so you should have no problem getting your drink on.  You could sit at a bar, pretending to gamble and get free drinks, or you could get back to your room with some beers (this strategy works well if there is a sporting event to watch on TV).  After being responsibly inebriated, go out and putz around!  Maybe you’ll meet someone to have a romantic rendezvous with, or a rich oil tycoon who is looking for an heir to his fortune.  The possibilities are endless!

And, really, that’s the key point.  Most see AC as just a gambling mecca, and trust me, it is.  But, most of my points (4-6, 8-10, 12) are about finding fun things to do away from the casino floor.  When I look back at my memories of Atlantic City, I remember mostly the concerts, the food, the relaxing, and the putzing (but yes, I do remember some bad beats and lucky hits).  Bottom line, with AC, you never quite know what to expect, which is WHY I do AC.  You’ll never get the same experience twice, and it could be good, or it could be dreadful.  But if you stick to my 12-step program, you’ll have better odds walking away with a win.

Well, Summer 2012 is just about finished.  This past Labor Day weekend signified one last time to hit the beach, have a cookout, or find one last summer love.  For most Americans, that is.  For me, it was one last opportunity to recklessly spend money and drink.  Ladies and gentlemen, let’s just dive into this engrossing chapter of the Atlantic City Diaries!

Friday

3:45PM – The crew this time: OB (star of Chapters 2 and 4), Rainman Suite’s founder Keith, and yours truly.  The destination: Revel, again.  The goal: drunkenness.  As loyal readers know, I often have a low budget on trips to Atlantic City, and, at this time, I am in the process of moving, so my money is much lower than usual.  Therefore, I must exercise self-control, and by that, I mean I must drink more alcohol rather than gamble.  I’ve modeled myself after Charles Barkley, in the sense that I am not a role model.

As mentioned in previous chapters, taking the bus down always involves stealthy drinking.  However, due to my aforementioned money shortage, I went cheap – instead of buying several smaller bottles, I bought a giant two liter bottle of Pepsi that was on sale at the local CVS.  This, combined with my cheap liter of Rory B. Bellows brand rum, did very little to mask the fact that I was a bus rule-breaker.  Additionally, OB made sure to point out that I was drinking as loudly as possible, banging pots and pans like it was New Year’s Eve, marching up and down the bus aisle singing “RORY IS DRINKING, ON THE BUS!”  This may not be true, but it certainly felt akin to this as it was happening.

Keith Stone: I, meanwhile, had pounded a carton of Bandit wine at Rory’s apartment before the bus. When heading to New Jersey, do as white trash does.

6:30 – We arrive in Atlantic City.  Aside from some slight spills, the bus trip was without much ado.  While OB and Keith would be getting off at Showboat (which is next door to the Revel), I got off at Caesar’s.  I had a small amount of comped slot dollars to play, which expired at the end of August.  While I won absolutely nothing, it helped sate my appetite for gambling. When I arrive in Atlantic City, every second before my first foray into gambling is spent on thinking about when I am going to gamble.  This small detour helped me alleviate this thought – for a bit.

I strolled down the boardwalk, chugging my 2-liter-Pepsi-and-horrible-rum concoction, taking in the sights of the Jersey Shore in the late summer, which was primarily seeing a naked man get arrested.  The boardwalk is also littered by numerous t-shirt shops, pandering to the latest catchphrase of the day (i.e. “YOLO” and “Call Me Maybe” shirts).  However, MTV had just announced the cancellation of Jersey Shore, and you could see the disappointment in all the store owners’ faces.  Stay strong, my poorly-made crap-slinging entrepreneurs, I’m sure the next horrible exploitative phenomenon is just around the corner.

MKS: I’m looking at you, Honey Boo Boo.

7:30 – I meet Stone and OB at the Revel, where the great OB has procured us another comped room (although not a suite this time, but I’m not complaining).  We have dinner reservations are Azure again at 9:30, and we decide to drink more in the room as preparation.  Bad idea.

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