Viva Las Vegas!

27 Nov

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Greetings from fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada, where we opened last night at the new Smith Center for the Performing Arts. This is my first time to Vegas and honestly, it has far exceeded my expectations. Yes, it’s tacky and over the top, but it’s actually a lot of fun, even for someone who doesn’t drink or gamble. I always scoffed when people would say that Vegas was a family-friendly town, but the truth is – it really is!

Monday afternoon after we got into town, I met up with my friends Tom and Anthony, who just happened to be in town from San Diego. We met at Treasure Island and walked up and down the Strip, stopping to watch the water fountain show at the Bellagio and the volcano eruption at the Mirage, popping into various hotels and casinos just to look around and take some pictures. We then made the mistake of walking from the Strip to the Rio, which is a much farther walk than we had anticipated, and we had dinner at a buffet at the Gold Coast next door. The food wasn’t great, but the whole dinner was $14 a person, so we couldn’t complain and we were all completely stuffed by the time we rolled out of there. In all, we spent about 8 hours on the Strip, hitting most of the major casino/hotels. Tuesday I slept in and then went to the Luxor to go through their Titanic Artifact Exhibition, which was really wonderful.

I’ve always had a strange fascination with Titanic, but I’ve also had very mixed feelings about removing artifacts from the wreckage – especially pieces of the ship itself. It is a burial ground, after all. But the exhibition was tastefully done and with a great deal of respect and I suppose, much like animals in a zoo, seeing the artifacts up close made the story feel tangible and real, which hopefully encourages people to contribute to preservation and restoration efforts at the site.

The exhibit works chronologically through the Titanic’s history, from how it was built to now. You’re given a boarding pass as you enter with the name and a short history of a real Titanic passenger and then you make your way through the exhibit. There are replicas of third class (“steerage”) and first-class cabins with artifacts on display along the way. Midway through the tour, you come to a full-scale reproduction of the Grand Staircase (most of you will remember it from the movie “Titanic”), which is the only room in which you can take a photo. Actually, a staff member does it for you and you have to buy it if you want it. Or…take a screenshot of it like I did. Some of us are third-class steerage and can’t afford $12.95 for a digital copy of a photo!

Screen Shot 2013-11-27 at 7.42.33 PM

There is also a reproduction of the promenade deck, complete with stars and a slight chill in the air, much as it may have looked and felt on the night of the sinking. You soon walk into a room that is quite cold where there is a huge chunk of ice on display. You are encouraged to put your hand on this block of ice for 5 seconds to get an idea of just how cold it really was in the water that night. It is one of the most innovative displays I’ve ever seen and certainly gives you an appreciation for what those poor people had to endure.

Iceberg

The ship is deteriorating rapidly and I’m honestly not sure if its worse to disturb a burial site for the purpose of preservation and education or to just let the ship rust away to nothing. Part of the Titanic Artifact Exhibition is an actual section of the ship that was recovered back in 1998. “The Big Piece,” as it’s called, is a 15-ton, 26′ x 12′ section of the starboard side of the ship and it is glorious. I am usually a stickler for rule-following in museums and exhibits, but I have never been more tempted to reach out and touch something in my life than I was that giant hunk of Titanic. It was my one opportunity in life to actually touch the ship that I’ve obsessed over for years, but I was a good boy and didn’t. I didn’t even try to sneak pictures (mainly because I read that there was a lot of surveillance throughout the exhibition). I just spent some time with it, examining it and marveling at how huge this section of the ship looked to me, knowing that it was just a tiny section of something that has become larger than life.¬†

Big Piece

The Big Piece at the Titanic Artifacts Exhibition at the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada

Big Piece Map

The green outline indicates where the Big Piece fit into the grand design of Titanic. To think that that small section of the ship is nearly 30 feet long!

The end of the exhibition is a giant wall covered with the names of every passenger and crew member on the ship, divided by those who survived and those who died. I was surprised to find how invested I was in finding out if my passenger lived, but knowing that he was 1) a man and 2) steerage, I wasn’t surprised to find out that he didn’t survive the sinking.

I didn’t intend for this to be another post about Titanic, but it was a big deal for me to be there. It was very moving. It fulfilled a lifelong dream to actually see the Titanic with my own eyes and it was totally worth the $30 admission price. If you have the opportunity, be sure to stop by the Luxor on the Las Vegas Strip to pay your respects to the Titanic and her passengers.

 

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One Response to “Viva Las Vegas!”

  1. jasonhbratton76 April 14, 2014 at 11:32 pm #

    Reblogged this on Confessions of a Merch Whore and commented:

    102 years ago, the ship was sinking right about now…

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