Good news lads, good news! Instead of going to the
Jersey shore this weekend, we'll be gamblin' in
a place that looks like an old steel plant. Hot-cha!
DD's old stomping ground, the south side of Bethlehem, PA, has a new Sands casino, built to 'revitalize' the ravine of the old Bethlehem Steel complex.
Its decor is old Rustbelt mill, meant to compete against the pull of Atlantic City and the Jersey shore.
"Are they nuts?" DD hears you ask.
Well, yes -- yes they are.
When a student at Lehigh University, the Lehigh Valley always worked to make itself over into something it was not. In the early Eighties, the gauleiters of the local bunds wanted the place repackaged as a facsimile of Manhattan called "The Little Apple."
So the polishing of
A piquant story ran about this in the Los Angeles Times here.
The salient quote:
" 'I've been laid off seven times since 2001," said David Faust, 31, who hopes he has found steady work now as a slot machine technician. 'This area really needed jobs.' "
The Bethlehem Sands casino is said to feature: "raw steel I-beams, exposed brick, a gabled roof with skylights, thick chains and gears, and dangling lights that glow orange like burning ingots."
Nevertheless, the US economic collapse has dimmed even this potentially bright orange light. Credit shortage has put the kibosh on further development, for the time being.
Jobs in heavy manufacturing in the US used to pay $20/hour. And in Bethlehem, generations of workers could buy a house and send their kids to college, just by working at the steel mill straight from high school.
Jobs working at a casino pay much less in 2009. In the US, this is expected. It is important that you be screwed.
One of DD's friends informs a cage cashier's slot at the Sands casino in Bethlehem pays 9-10 dollars/hour for work at night and on weekend. It's a good rate if you're enthusiastic about the economic benefits of 24/7 work in a banana republic.
DD was told the majority of patrons at the Sands were senior citizens, many with walkers. Just the clientele to vampirically work over.
According to the Los Angeles Times:
"[One patron and his wife visit] Atlantic City casinos once a month ... and he prefers the seaside resort's glitz and glamour. 'Here, you're in an old steel mill ... Down there, you're in a palace.'
Another flashed the old LV blind pig iron optimism in the face of fail:
"[An off duty police officer and a surgical technician] shared a drink ... They like toned-down Bethlehem more than Atlantic City, where slums abut the casinos."
Coincidentally, the south side of Bethlehem used to be a slum. (And a bit of it still is.) You can read about my exciting life in it here.
Who needs sand in your bathing suit?