Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Morning Glory

The critters and I were up and out nice & early this morning and to my astonishment, it was neither snowing or sleeting. In fact, it was downright pleasant. Who'd have expected that before the middle of June in New York?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Greetings From Earl At The Del-Ray Motel!

There are countless variables about these postcards from the Del-Ray Motel in Indianapolis, Ind., that make them utterly astounding. First, of course, is how inane the images are, with the inclusion of scary portly manager "Earl."

Second, scouring the internet reveals that this series is wildly popular, found on countless webbies and blogs touting "boring postcards," "destinations to nowhere" and the like. You can even buy an original of the card for $3.
Here's the info I've collected after wasting a good 30 minutes researching the magnificent Del-Ray:

* It's gone. Now known as the Catalina Motel(?).
* Just 2 miles west of the city center on Rt. 40
* Hot water, TV, wall mounted phone, fan in every room.
* Beautiful checkerboard linoleum flooring, air raid block walls, textured bedspreads, spearmint-hued decor and Sani-Kleen Glassware®
* Adorable matching drapes in a complex pattern of winter colors
* Texaco station was just down the road!The equally swanky Catalina Motel, now in the location of the former Del-Ray.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Las Vegas: Historic Sahara Hotel Shutters

Talk about biting the dust: The 59-year-old Sahara Hotel, the oldest surviving resort on the Las Vegas Strip—outliving heritage properties the Sands, Landmark, Frontier, Stardust and Desert Inn—is shuttering May 16, thanks to the city's flagging economy.

Sure, the 1,720-room joint was a dump, positioned at the northern-most tip of the Strip (ironically, flanked by the incomplete Fontainebleau debacle). Even half-hearted renovations that took place in the late 1990s looked second rate. But the place was inexpensive and had reached a point of nostalgic kitsch not found in newer, brassier destinations. Oh, sigh.

I stayed at the Sahara a number of times covering various conferences in Vegas for Radio World and Billboard. My pal Teddy once had a huge bi-level terrace suite that looked like a surreal mesh of 1950s white metal railings meeting the mauve 1980s. The whole place smelled a little funny and the carpets looked like they'd been raked instead of vacuumed, but I've nothing but the fondest recollections.

Obviously, I'm not alone. The Las Vegas Sun published a sentimental story with reader reminiscences. And The Los Angeles Times recalls, "The Sahara was an exotic desert locale where Frank Sinatra could enjoy a cocktail and bathing beauties froliced in the Garden of Allah pool. In recent years, the hotel-casino sunk to touting $1 blackjack and a NASCAR Cafe known for its 6-pound burrito. Now the icon is yet another victim of a deep recession that has squelched the city's tourism for more than three years."

So long, sweetheart. The Venetian, Caesar's Palace, Paris and Bellagio are loads of fun, but you'll always be a grand dame. R.I.P. Sahara.Sahara resort rooms through the decades: top: 1950s, 1960s, bottom: the groovy 1970s and oh so sadly, today..."Artistically created residences for gracious living are luxuriously furnished in excellent taste. Rooms have private baths & individual thermostatic temperature controls. Interiors appeal to the most discerning in a sumptuous single or elaborate suite."
"Set like a royal jewel amid 20 acres of velvet lawn & blossoms, Las Vegas' largest temperature controlled pools provide endless moments of relaxation & fun beneath the healthful Nevada sun. A new high in resort living. 600 air-conditioned rooms, all with TV and radio."

Thursday, March 24, 2011

South Beach: The Seldom Seen In 33159

While all looks rosy and robust along Ocean Drive, Lincoln Road and Collins Avenue in South Beach Miami, a few steps off the tourist route reveals overt signs of the second Great Depression. The locale was one of the hardest hit in 2007.

Those hotels without vistas and views have, quite simply, closed their doors, boarded up and are in a sad state of decay.

South Beach Miami: Midnight March

Sigh... one last tour de force up Collins and Ocean Drive, as I prepare to leave the perfection of Miami and head back to New York's perpetual winter. I think I might cry a little.

Homes Of Miami Beach

The homes in this Miami Beach nabe, all in the million dollar-plus range, may not be the largest manses in the nation, but what they may lack in square footage, they certainly make up for in water views and an ideal climate. Perhaps they more resemble Beverly Hills than Southampton, where you pay a pretty price for constant sunshine. Sounds like a fair trade-off to meese.

And yet, as one of the hardest-hit regions by the latest Great Depression, who knows how much value these Miami estates have lost. One thing is for sure: for sale signs pervade the area, with pleas to purchase "or rent." You know that's a bad sign.Hey, I think I might be able to afford this one! Lots of "potential," huh?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

South Beach Miami: Hotel Heaven!

Oh, SoBe, how I do love you. God-given temps, stunning art deco architecture, a true walking v and arguably, the most beautiful men in the world. South Beach was the first nabe in Miami to be established, back in 1910, and became a destination for millionaires in the 1920s. Art deco began to commandeer the area's commercial boom during the next decade, although it fell into disrepair by the late 1970s.

"Miami Vice," believe it or not, restored cachet in the 1980s, transitioning Miami Beach back into the one of the most glamorous destinations in the nation. It certainly didn't hurt that the gays also took ownership, further gentrifying the region. We gays are good at that, you know.

The former Georgian Hotel on Ocean Drive, now the restored Betsy Ross Hotel.Then, Jack's Gift Emporium...Now.... chain joint Wings...More retro meets present...And on to hotel row on Collins Avenue and Ocean Drive...