My first trip to Las Vegas was back in 1990 or there abouts. I was on a pilgrimage of sorts, seeking the holy spots where Elvis had been during his Vegas years just before he became the fat and bloated king who died on the toilet. And the holiest of holies in Las Vegas is the Las Vegas Hilton. This is where Elvis stayed and performed while he was in Las Vegas. And this is where I am staying 17 years later attending a conference.
On my first trip to the Hilton I was in awe of a statue of Elvis the Colonel and Priscilla had donated to the Hilton back in 1978. It sat in a place of honor near the main entrance next to a glass case that housed one of his jump suits and guitars.
As the flame of Elvis' memory begins to flicker, the Hilton has followed suite. They have moved the statue out of the hotel and onto the sidewalk. So Elvis has literally left the building. The jump suit and guitar are nowhere to be seen.
To add insult to injury, Barry Manilow is headlining at the Hilton and has his own gift shop in the lobby. Oh, you can still buy Elvis memorabilia next door in the Vegas shop, but it has settled into the kitsche category (though I did snag myself a cool TCB money clip for good luck...it didn't seem to help me on the Elvis slot machine however).
It is sad. The old Las Vegas is dead. Elvis has become a joke and they honor people like Barry Manilow and Celine Dion instead.
Even the slot machines have changed. They no longer have handles and you get your payout in a coupon instead of the clinking of dirty quarters. There are no more $1.99 steak and egg specials. A cup of coffee even costs $4.25. And if I hear one more person say, "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" I am going to puke.
Oh well, at least when the sun goes down the lights of Vegas still shine. And if you squint, you can imagine you are in the old Vegas and downstairs in the showroom, the King is singing "hunka, hunka burnin' luv."
I miss you Elvis.