COLUMN: Steve Miller

Las Vegas Tribune

August 30, 2000

Good Bye D.I.

The Desert Inn was the last of the People Places on the Strip.

Now, thanks to the "vision" of Steve and Elaine Wynn, Las Vegas Boulevard consists of a row of themed architectural wonders that are beginning to blend together into a huge multicolor multicultural collage of un-desert-like motifs that celebrate all other places but Las Vegas.

Its' now almost impossible to tell that Las Vegas is located in a desert except during July and August when the heat overpowers the wonders of even the most mega of Mega-resorts.

Our city is wildly celebrating monuments from across the sea while ignoring its' desert locale and rich human history.

Las Vegas pioneers like Moe Dalitz, Ben Siegal, Meyer Lansky, Beldon Cattleman, Gus Guffrie, John Pappas, Wilbur Clark, Howard Hughes, Frank Sinatra, Ralph Pearl, and Hank Greenspun must be spinning in their graves because of what their town has forgotten!

The bygone Las Vegas Desert Inn was the last of those places on the Strip that celebrated People and Las Vegas.

The ceilings were low to direct the view to eye-level to see the many interesting characters and personalities that frequented the tastefully decorated, but un-distracting halls and hollows of the Grand Old Lady of the Strip. A true showcase for People watching!

With the end of the D.I., the Strip is devoid of People themed places. Now average Las Vegas visitors to a Strip hotel are seen with their eyes focused upward and outward gazing at our fabulous architecture, works of art, and other imported wonders -- instead of focused at eye level to see the rich human menagerie.

I was taught a great lesson during the years I was in the nightclub business. My unassuming place was successful while the more elaborate structures, the ones with the higher tech distractions, opened and closed in short spurts.

My club's clientele were there to People watch. They went to my competition once or twice to see the glitzy light shows, but always returned to my place because People are more entertaining to watch or be with than distracting high tech glitz.

A perfect bad example is the so-called Fremont Street Experience that directs visitor's attention upward at a 90 degree angle from what was once one of the better People watching places in our town.

Now, the New Las Vegas is about to learn a lesson. If people are still drawn to great places such as the actual New York, the actual Paris, or the actual Venice, they will actively seek out the actual Las Vegas!

Gone are Glitter Gulch, Casino Center, and the D.I.; in march People Places like the Hard Rock, Regent, and Sun Coast! Unfortunately, these People Places are not located in what is the actual locale of Las Vegas: Fremont Street, or the Strip.

The actual Las Vegas is now moving to Paradise Road, Alta Drive, or just off the Summerlin Parkway where People are starting to go back to be with other People.

Sure there is splendid architecture at these new roadside wonders, but it is subdued and elegant, kinda like the bygone D.I.

I bet when the dust settles and another high ceiling, otherworldly Mega Resort sprouts up in place of the once elegant D.I. Country Club, even the Wynns will seek respite away from the architectural and artistic distractions of their own creation.

Alas, even the aura of a Steve and Elaine Wynn walking through what is called a "lobby" in their soon-to-be architectural wonder will be ignored in favor of looking up and around at the brick and mortar, flora and fauna embodiment of their good taste.

I make the following suggestion to Steve and Elaine so that they will be noticed and not just blend in with the beautiful woodwork in their New Las Vegas:

Commission a world famous artist to paint a beautiful portrait of you two standing somewhere in your new architectural wonder. Place the painting high above normal eye-level so that it will be seen along with all the other wonders you will import from far away. That way, your awe struck new clientele standing below will know what you look like.

Then, get in your helicopter and fly to a People Place such as the Regent in Summerlin. At least there, in the understated eye-level elegance designed by conservative architect Paul Steelman, you might even stand out in the crowd!