As I write this column I’ve just been informed that the Cirque du Soleil franchise has filed for bankruptcy protection and laid off 3,500 employees.
An entertainment empire that has transformed the Las Vegas Strip over the last 25 years and given amazing entertainment experiences to hundreds of thousands of locals and visitors, the Canadian-originated company is in a financial bind.
Sunday, a fire burned 5,000 acres on one of our most beloved retreats, Mount Charleston. And Nevada is on a short list of states where COVID-19 is still on a mad tear. Just when we were thinking it was safe to go back in the water, the water is on fire.
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This is starting to feel like death by a thousand cuts, make that severe lacerations. In talking with friends on the phone, and on the rare occasions when we meet in person disguised by uncomfortable masks, every conversation is dominated by comparing notes on how crappy things are, and how much crappier they can get.
Bank tellers must be in perpetual shock, thinking every person who comes to the window is there to rob them.
As a dyed-in-the-wool, glass-half-full guy, I can tolerate only about five minutes of hearing doomsday scenarios before I try to steer the conversation toward more positive topics. I ask about my friends’ families. I tell them to stream a Dave Chappelle concert or take another look at the movies Airplane and Young Frankenstein.
I look forward to there being three major professional golf championships in the next four months and I’m excited to welcome the Las Vegas Raiders to town and see how well “Chucky” Gruden coaches them in his third full season at the helm.
The weirdness of the NBA playing in a bubble over the next few months should be interesting to watch, as will Major League Baseball’s shortened season. As a devoted golfer for 60 years, I look forward to getting back to chasing the dimpled spheroid this fall. I have played nine holes just twice in the last 18 months — the longest break I’ve ever taken from the game — but I have at least a dozen swing thoughts and short-game tips I’m dying to take from the drawing board to the course when I start up again. Playing golf truly is like riding a bike, in that I know I’ll find a rhythm shortly after I get back to it. It will just be a slightly slower and less agile rhythm than before.
Although I’m far from being a Pollyanna in these troubling times, I know a year from now I will look back fondly on the special days and nights our family has spent together. When your children reach their twenties and their wings spread, as ours have, every moment we can enjoy together as adults, and reflect on the fun years we endured together as they grew up, is special.
Nothing can change the fact that our kids think they have weird parents, who are more childlike and lenient than most other parents, but that’s O.K. The other kids tell our kids that we are cool parents and that’s good enough for us.
When I’m often asked by others how I keep a positive attitude in this Armageddon, I spew forth the many things for which I’m grateful: I’ve been gainfully unemployed for 30 years, with a minimal dress code and no shaving or grooming requirements. My wife has stayed with me for a quarter-century when the over/under betting line was seven years, and we have three dogs and two cats that absolutely worship the ground I walk on. That is, until I forget to put food or treats in their bowl and they form a pack and discuss mutiny.
Some insiders and many outsiders may think Las Vegas is going to hell in a hand-basket, but I know that’s decidedly not the case. If underground nuclear tests, the era of Mob control, the dot.com crash, the 9/11 tragedy, the 2008-09 recession, and the October 1 shooting didn’t permanently put the brakes on this amazing city, then some invisible bug from afar has no chance.
Vegas is still stronger than my uncle Mort’s breath. And he loved garlic.