Posted on Monday, July 27th, 2020
The global COVID-19 pandemic has been hard in so many ways, but the toll it hass taken on businesses has been devastating. Without money coming in, there's a large number of them that will likely never fully recover, and many of those will probably end up closing. From shops and stores to markets and museums, everybody is hurting. But the industry that seems hit harder than any other is food services.
A lot of restaurants barely scrape by even when fully operational. And while some have reopened for takeout or have partially opened their dining rooms, that's not enough to keep them operating for much longer... if they haven't had to close already.
I'm not a huge restaurant person (it's an expense I can rarely justify), but I've visited more than my share of Hard Rock Cafes. So measuring the effect of the pandemic on restaurants is fairly easy for me to do when I look at the number of Hard Rocks that have closed since the coronavirus came calling...
UPDATE August 6, 2020: Well crap, Aruba just shuttered. I visted in March, 2012, and always hoped to go back one day so I could get a T-shirt since they were out when I was there. BOOOOOO!
Hard Rocks open and close all the time... but that's like... a lot. And, sadly, I'm sure that's not going to be the end of it.
If we ever see the other side of this pandemic, meaning we get a vaccine or find a cure or something, I have to wonder how long it will take for our restaurants to start coming back. And this is assuming that once we see the other side of this pandemic that we aren't hit with another soon after. For all we know, that could be life on earth from here on out. All we can hope for if that's the case is that governments are more receptive to the science of surviving... and people aren't a bunch of stupid assholes who refuse to do their part.
But I'd be fooling myself to think that's never going to be a factor.
Posted on Wednesday, February 17th, 2021
Last night I got a call from a good friend I've known for over a decade. And the way you know that they are a good friend is that I actually picked up. There's only a dozen people that I will interrupt my busy pandemic lifestyle to talk with, and he is one of them.
"I'm starting to worry about you. Your texts and emails have you sounding down."
"More down than usual?"
I assured him that I'm doing just fine despite the pandemic completely changing my life, we shot the shit for a half hour, then said our goodbyes.
And I totally get why he called. COVID is happening, the world has gone to shit, and the light at the end of the tunnel is probably the headlight of a freight train. This is a friend who knows first-hand about my struggles, and it's nice to know that there are people who care enough to check in on me like this.
The centerpiece of our conversation was me explaining that there's a difference between wanting to die and being apathetic about dying. I don't want to die, I just don't care if it happens. For the time being I have cats that rely on me, there's some things left I'd like to do with my life (or try to do), and I'm not ready to check out just yet. So I'm good.
The news when I woke up this morning was Trump Plaza being imploded and demolished...
Photo from the Associated Press Newswire
This brought up memories of my first and only trip to Atlantic City back on July 17, 1999. I was working in New York City and ended up with a free day and nothing to do. Ultimately I decided that I would go to the Hard Rock Cafe Atlantic City for lunch so I could check it off my list, then head back to The City. The cheapest way to do this was via Greyhound Bus. Not the best way to travel, but I had survived far worse.
I managed to get a window seat half-way back, then sat there as the bus started filling up. Eventually a woman walked up and asked if she could sit next to me. I said "No problem" and she replied with "Thanks. You look like the person least likely to grab me or assault me." The only thing I could think to say way "Um, thanks. I guess?"
The next three hours were spent talking to my seatmate and new best friend. John F. Kennedy Jr. had died the previous day and she had to get out of The City. He had been the golden boy of NYC, was much beloved there, and things were just too depressing for her. A nine hour distraction was just what she needed. Like me, she had booked the 8am departure (arriving 11am) returning 2pm (or something like that). Along the way she had quite a lot to say. I remember almost none of it. I do remember her talking about how she had moved to a new church and signed up for choir. When she got her robe, she was dismayed to see that it was all white. "So there I am in all my Blackness standing there in the whitest robe I've ever seen..."
I didn't say much after explaining that my trip was just to visit the Hard Rock Cafe.
When we arrived we just kinda gravitated towards hanging out together for our three hours. The first thing I did was ask somebody where the "Trump Hotel" was at. "Which one do you mean? The Taj Mahal or the Plaza? I had no idea, so I just responded with "Um... whichever one has the Hard Rock Cafe in it?" Turns out it was the "Trump Taj Mahal" across from "Steel Pier" which was a 20 minute walk...
The All-Star Cafe Atlantic City was there too...
After eating lunch, we played slots in the casino for a while. I hit a $70 jackpot fairly quickly off a $10 investment, and poured her out a bunch of quarters so we could keep playing the various slot machines before walking back to the bus terminal. We had a great time. I got the Hard Rock Cafe checked off my list and she got her distraction.
And then some.
On the way back a fight broke out on the bus. Some guy leaned his seat back into some other guy and he was not happy about it. The guys were screaming. The wife of one of the guys was screaming. And the bus driver was screaming for them to knock it off or else he would stop the bus and kick them all off of it. Eventually the matter was settled by the husband and wife swapping seats or something. All my seatmate had to say about the situation was "I knew it. I just knew I wasn't going to get through six hours on a bus without something like this happening!" The rest of our trip was made in silence as we headed back to a city in mourning.
The Trump Taj Mahal Hotel and Casino was one of Donald Trump's many banruptcies and has a rather colorful history... including it being involved in money laundering and being a hot spot for Russian mobsters. Eventually the property was shut down in 2016, then sold to Hard Rock International in 2017. Then in 2018 they reopened it as the "Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City."
As for The Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino? Also bankrupted. Also a colorful history. It was originally THE place to be in Atlantic City for the rich and famous. But once the Trump Taj Mahal opened in 1990, Trump ended up poaching his own customers with the newer, bigger, flashier property. Thus the Plaza bankruptcy in 1992. In 1993 Trump somehow made his way out of bankruptcy (do I even want to know how a casino beloved by Russian mobsters managed that?) and started expanding the property... because doubling down in the face of financial ruin is apparently his thing, I guess. But money wasn't the only thing that Trump lost... he also famously lost an eminent domain case against a woman named Vera Coking. Like the asshole he is, Trump tried to get the city to condemn her property so he could buy it and turn it into a limousine parking lot. He failed.
Just as Penthouse magazine publisher Bob Guccione had failed in the 1970's to buy her out of her home. A situation that fans of the Pixar movie, Up, might recognize...
Photo by Jack Boucher for Historic American Buildings Survey, c.1991 (via Wikipedia)
Unironically I also have a photo of the now-demolished Trump Plaza Hotel from my 1999 visit. I took a photo of Planet Hollywood Atlantic City and it was sticking out like an ugly sore thumb in the background...
Trump's rise and fall in Atlantic City is an engaging story, which you can read in this Salon article originally published by InsiderNJ just before the previous presidential election: Atlantic City has a warning for the nation: Donald Trump brings ruin and despair. Salon helpfully added the byline "Trump looted and corrupted New Jersey's gambling mecca and then got out of town. Does that sound familiar?" Why, yes. It sounds very familiar, alas.
It's weird to think of the stuff that's happened in the world during my 54 years, 10 months, 3 weeks, and 3 days on this planet. From the year I graduated, Trump had Trump Taj Mahal ('84), Trump Plaza ('84), Trump's Castle ('85), Trump's Steel Pier ('88), and Trump's World's Fair ('89) in Atlantic City... and lost them all. His consolation prize being that he was elected President of the United States of America in 2016, the same year Trump Taj Mahal (his last remaining Atlantic City property) was shut down permanently.
Oh well. In addition to my dying (among many, many other subjects) I also hold apathy towards ugly buildings being demolished.
I am kinda glad that I was able to visit Atlantic City during Trump's heydey there in 1999 though. America's prince may have just died in a tragic plane crash... but Donald J. Trump, Democrat, was thinking of running for president on a pro-choice Reform Party ticket with Oprah Winfrey as his running mate.
It was a glorious time to be alive.
Posted on Monday, December 27th, 2021
Time to start those post-holiday blues... because another all new and delayed Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Happy! I watch a lot of TikToks. Like a LOT a lot. And though I've seen some really good ones this past year, I think this is the one which has stuck with me the most (here's a link in case TikTok is being a dick)...
It's so important that kids see something hopeful at a time when they may be struggling. This doesn't just apply to LGBTQ kids, but any kid wondering if there's a place for them in this cold, cruel world.
• Dino Brau! And then there's this bit of TikTok science fact which everybody should know...
I mean, come on.
• It Ain't All Fun & Games! The sad truth in a single TikTok...
In the end, this is most politicians, alas.
• HRC Down! VERY sad to learn that the Hard Rock Cafe Oslo has closed. That was a darn good cafe. It's also where I met up with fellow blogger Karla before exploring the city!
For those of you who can't read Norwegian fluidly like myself (and Google Translate, of course!) it says "End for Norway's only Hard Rock Café — Hard Rock Café on Karl Johans gate in Oslo has its last opening day on Saturday. Thus, the only Norwegian branch of the international restaurant chain disappears.".
• COVID Electric Boogaloo! Omicron was just becoming known three weeks ago. THREE WEEKS! And look where we're at. It's the dominant strain of COVID now. Hospitals begging people to stay safe and get vaccinated, and their pleas being ignored. Well, I can only guess that Christmas will result in another explosion. What's it going to take for people to get serious?
• If You're Not a Rocket Scientist! I mean, it's just willful ignorance at this point...
@justlydeserved Reply to @mr_play90 Do not pass go, do not collect $200. #getvaccinated #covid #covid19 #vaccine #covidvaccine #covid19vaccine #science ♬ abcdefu - GAYLE
And speaking of which...
• Again! Looks like they finally found Washington State Senator Doug Ericksen after he's been missing for weeks. Or found his body, that is. This is the same genius who wanted our governor to be fired because Jay Inslee enacted mask mandates to keep us safe during these trying COVID times. Maybe if he had gotten vaccinated and masked-up in El Salvador, he wouldn't be dead now.
No more bullets this year. Sorry. Something to look forward to in 2022, I guess?
Posted on Sunday, April 24th, 2022
Don't you dare touch that dial... because an all new, all YouTube Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Heartstopper! Easily one of the best series I've seen so far in 2022, Heartstopper (Netflix) is about the most adorable TV show you'll find. What really got me is how much of the lives of young people today are invested in immediate feedback from texting. The struggle to put your thoughts and feelings in short little messages... the frustration of not knowing what to say... and the agony of sending something and immediately regretting it... we had absolutely nothing like this in school. Maybe note passing. That's it. The game is entirely different today...
What amazes me most about this show is how many opportunities they had to fall into the Hallmark trap of letting a misunderstanding sabotage their entire relationship, but were actually more adult about talking things out than adults are in Hallmark movies. Refreshing! There's also a guest star playing Nick's mom who may not be a known face to American audiences, but she was a major "get" across the Atlantic, and I was SO happy it wasn't spoiled in the trailer. Worth a watch. 100% Dave Approved television.
• Hard Rock Park! I don't have many regrets. But I do regret that I never made it to Hard Rock Park. The year that it opened, my travel calendar was packed, but I had plans to visit the following year. Alas, it closed after a single season. It would become "Freestyle Music Park" for another season before closing permanently. One of the most unique things to ever come out of Hard Rock and I missed it! Then I ran across a couple videos about the park, and regret not making it even more...
Boy. I wish somebody would rescue all that material and published it in a book or something. I could have spent hours going through all that!
• Miriwoong! Few things are as sad to me as a language dying out. Because it means an important part of humanity's culture is lost, because in so many ways language is culture. Or at least a very good symptom of it...
I've long been fascinated by languages, and Miriwoong is an example of exactly why I'm fascinated.
• Giza! Holy cats I love videos like this. And, let me tell you, that walk into the pyramid is something I will never forget. It was hot, stuffy, and claustrophobic for sure, but it's the fact that the passage could collapse behind you and leave you trapped inside that's the real scary part. What would they do? Rip apart the pyramid to save your life? Yeah, probably not...
Manuel Bravo is a YouTube creator I've never heard of before. But I subscribed after 2 minutes in on this video, only to find his entire channel is magic. Give it a look if this kind of stuff interests you.
• Bud! The fact that John Oliver releases short videos like this on the weeks he's off to tide you over until his next show is why his YouTube Channel is a must-subscribe...
I mean. Holy cow. The dogs got super-powers?!? Where have I been?
• Space! If you're not excited to bits about the James Webb Space Telescope, it's because you don't understand it properly. Lucky for you, Marques is here to drop some knowledge...
I have gone through so many rabbits in learning about what this incredible telescope is going to do for our understanding of the universe, and all of it is positively mind-boggling.
• History! The Statue of Liberty is one of those things that we kinda take for granted. It's there. It's been there for a while. France gave it to us. But there's so much more than that. For a very cool glimpse into all things Lady Liberty, this video is worth a watch...
And that's it for year another fascinating Bullet Sunday. Tune in next Sunday where I may... or may not... have even more interesting things to share!