May 26th, 2011
So, after 25 years of showing America how unwavering ambition and unmitigated ego is never a bad thing, Oprah leaves the airwaves (sort of). It’s a feeling of wholesome glee that I watch this happen, as I figured that she would simply continue on, jib-jabbing her way into early senility much like Larry King or Haray Caray. Drat, as I was really looking forward to seeing Oprah do a giveaway show that included Rascal scooters, condom catheters and Preparation H. I’m sure the audience would still go wild, but the excitement from all the geriatric swag would cause at least a third of the studio to go into cardiac arrest.
Believe it or not, I’ve actually met Oprah myself. Yes, the deity herself has spoken to me. In the late ‘80s, she lived in the same building as I did growing up. In Chicago, at that point in her career, she wasn’t the billionaire that she is now, so while the building we lived in was luxe, it was by no means the top two floors of the Ritz-Carlton she eventually moved to (and paid $48 million for). From what I recall, she was affable, but always someone who came across as plastic. She smiled at you, but it was through clenched teeth. Many of the residents didn’t care for her. I was young enough to not really know any better, but do remember Oprah always spending a considerable amount of time chatting with me in the elevator. Charming she was, in spades. No matter how I feel personally about who she’s turned into today, I do find the whole thing fascinating as it’s a continued little slice of the American dream. She clawed her way up the ladder and for that I admire her quite a bit.
As a side-note: If you haven’t picked it up, Kitty Kelly’s Oprah bio was a fascinating read, giving some insight to the woman in an entertaining, anything-goes way. I’m sure at least 10% of it is total bullshit, but hey, it’s enjoyable BS. Isn’t that why people read memoirs? We all like knowing just a little bit of dirt, don’t we?
So, Glee is over for the season. The season finale was more of the same syrupy, badly-written and cloying pseudo-self-help storyline junk we’ve come to expect. Kurt butchered another Patti LuPone song (and looked positively demonic singing it), while every other plot point was hustled through in order to attempt a clean and tidy ending for the season closer. No cliffhanger. Nothing interesting. It appears this show is now being written by hydrocodone addicts and has caused me to officially switch back to reruns of Golden Girls on Lifetime HD. Additions to my DVR schedule now include So You Think You Can Dance, Joan Rivers new reality show and the Fall premier of the now exclusive-to-DirecTV series, Damages (with Glenn Close). While I can never keep up with these programs in real time, I do have my days of total television immersion, when I catch up on everything over about an 8-12 hour period. I batten down the hatches, turn the mobile to silent and cocoon on the LoveSac. It’s almost better than sex… but not quite.
I did promise a full write-up on Vegas’s newest hotel, The Cosmopolitan, in this edition and for the life of me, I’m replaying the whole stay in my head and wondering how things went so wrong so fast. From a surly check-in desk to the unusually smoky casino floor to a 1500 square ft ‘suite’ that somehow felt tiny, Cosmo was not a pleasant experience. It felt like a cheaply whored-up version of the Hard Rock Hotel, with the often shirtless and flip-flopped clientele to go with it. No part of the resort felt peaceful or serene. The employees of The Cosmo have not been properly trained to handle guest concerns, often times just shrugging in place of actual help. It reminded me of a W Hotel, where it’s form-over-function and the staff is merely there to look pretty, but not actually be bothered to do anything.
The suite had a dizzying array of twists and turns in the floor plan, including a couple small hallways that made it off-limits for anyone with claustrophobia. The television/thermostat/lighting is all internet-based, so expect some pixelization, time lag and general bugginess when attempting anything through the system. Again, a cool feature if it worked correctly, but this is simply frustrating. In this particular room, it seemed that you could either have every light on or all of the light off, but no in-between. They obviously spent big bucks on installing Lutron lighting systems throughout the room, but never figured out how to program it all so it’s a simple process to negotiate. A total waste of time and money.
The furniture was cheap looking, using garish plastics and shiny materials in place of something truly luxe. The overall sense of laminate was evident and corners on objects in the room were already peeling back. Unfinished lighting fixture holes in the kitchen and dimming switches that had already been broken were not welcoming sights either. The saving grace in this whole clusterfuck of a hotel was that my room was comped. I didn’t pay for a thing, but that still doesn’t excuse the many sins that The Cosmopolitan committed. Even free, this room was beyond help.
A mildly bright spot: The suite had a beautiful balcony, overlooking the Strip, but I really can’t see it being that much of a selling point when the weather heats up to a blistering 105 degrees. Again, form over function. However, it does make for a great all-night bender and an accidental drunken fall from a 65-story building. Seeing as The Jockey Club is now wedged in between the East and West Cosmo towers, it serves as a spectacular fall break for those wanting to go out with a real bang while also scaring the shit out of timeshare owners on the top floor.
The decor of the Cosmo reminds me of a designer who had no flow or end-point in mind, throwing everything into a blender and hitting frappe. There’s just nothing classy about it. It feels awkward, cramped and over-designed. They have no amount of simplicity to what they present. It’s garish with far too few discriminating eyes when it came to what materials were used. Again, like the rooms, lots of plastics, shiny surfaces and laminate abound. It reminded me quite a bit of the new price-conscious ‘aLoft’ hotels by Westin… And not in a good way. At least at aLoft you can get a room for $79/night. At The Cosmo, weekend prices are tipping the $400 point.
I had a chance to speak to a manager about all of my concerns, and while she seemed genuinely concerned, I knew there was little she could do to salvage the experience. I surely don’t want another free stay at a place I didn’t feel comfortable in to begin with. I just wanted to check out. In asking me where I usually stay in Las Vegas, I told her that I divided my time between Wynn/Encore and the new Mandarin-Oriental in City Center. She knew better than to try to compare her property to two such outstanding hotels and merely nodded her head in quiet understanding. I left Cosmopolitan, yes, disappointed, but also mildly happy that I tried something new. While I can’t recommend it for anyone who’s wanting a feeling of retreat, great service or a smooth experience, I will say that I’m sure it will appeal to someone. My own expectations are high. The Cosmo just didn’t deliver, leaving me once again to declare Steve Wynn the winner of having the best resorts in Las Vegas. As with anything in business, the act of over-promising and under-delivering is a serious no-no.
Luckily for me, Las Vegas was 100% salvaged by Australian pop-star Kylie Minogue, who made a one night pit stop at Caesars Palace in her final USA performance of the Aphrodite Tour. A completely sold-out crowd was treated to her past hits, as well as almost her entire current album. The show itself was ambitious, including flying horses, aerial acrobatics, massive HD video screens, confetti cannons, near-constant props, costumes by Dolce & Gabana and a team of dancers that put the likes of Lady Gaga to performance shame. Big spectacle. Cher-like costume changes. The crowd ate it up. While there were no guest performers to hit the stage with Kylie, there was a Britney Spears and Beyonce sighting at the show, who were in town for the Billboard Music Awards earlier that evening.
Quick thought: Good to see Doug69 back on the boards. While he may have been my biggest detractor at one point, it’s still important to have a strong voice of dissent like his out there. With certain industry boards turning into one gigantic in-crowd, all-about-us jokes, there should always be people who stand up and call it as they see it. I’ve tried my best to offer an opinion here on 15mm as to what I see as inside abuses and thankfully, it’s served many would-be clients well. If escorts are held accountable for their actions (or abuses), then so should a website owner… No one is exempt. When there’s money involved, people have a right to question where it’s going.
I’m heading to Chicago tonight, followed by a week in Philadelphia, a quick overnight to London crammed somewhere in-between and then a relaxing 9 days down in Key West. At this point, June is toast for additional travel, with July almost booked solid. My next trip to Chicago will definitely bring about another storied visit to Steamworks, so keep an eye out for that. I’m planning to head up to Provincetown for a few days this July to visit Randy Roberts (and catch his East Coast show), while as an end-of-summer treat, I’ll be renting a small villa on Mykonos for mid-August. If you want an invite to that party and happen to be Greek island hopping around that time, feel free to shoot me an email for details.
Just finished an incredible bio on Broadway producer David Merrick, called ‘The Abominable Showman.’ A fascinating look at his life, his shows and his rule-with-an-iron-fist mentality. Brilliant book that’s the size of the King James bible and twice as interesting.
Fully aware that I need to get on the update train with my photoblog and long-suffering Eye Candy Twitter feed. I’ve been so wrapped up in the new Q&A feature, that I’ve let my other spinning plates wobble a bit. Sorry about that dear readers, but look for new pics, updates and info in the very near future. While I don’t find Twitter that interesting anymore, I still plan on posting periodically. The photoblog will always be there to give you an idea of what’s happening this very moment in my always-on lifestyle. As for Eye Candy, it’s always been extremely popular, but I’m unsure what’s the easiest way to get it across to you. Shoot me some comments on the left-hand box and let me know if it should go back to being embedded into the blog or remain a separate Twitter entity.
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