The Hanford Sentinel from Hanford, California on September 24, 1995 · 13
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The Hanford Sentinel from Hanford, California · 13

Hanford, California
Issue Date:
Sunday, September 24, 1995
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c PAGE 13 Las Vegas takes gaudiness into the Stratosphere (Tower) LAS VEGAS (AP) Picture if you will a King Kong look-alike six stories tall, scaling a 1,149-foot spire, 30 paying passengers tagging along in the belly of the beast. Or a roller coaster where your journey begins nearly 100 stories high. For a city that boasts a 30-story pyramid, pirate battles, a volcano and rare white tigers, nothing would seem implausible. Next on the gee-whiz list: The Stratosphere Tower. Skeptics dubbed the tower the Eighth Blunder of the World as it inched its way upward over the past four years, fraught with problems and controversy. Now, with the tower headed for an April 19 opening, Vegas-watchers are taking a second look at the needle-shaped spire and attendant amenities shaping up midway between the Strip and downtown. Lyle Berman, CEO and Chairman of Minneapolis-based Grand Casinos, Inc., grins when reminded of the Eighth Blunder label once attached to the project. Then he leans forward in his chair and ticks off a laundry list of Stratosphere features: The tallest observation tower in the United States; The 5th-tallest building in the U.S.; A 12-story pod at the 900-foot level that will include four wedding chapels, a revolving restaurant, conference rooms, a cocktail lounge, two observation decks and administrative offices; A roller coaster dubbed the High Roller that begins at the 909-foot level and whips hardy souls around the top of the pod. Its the highest roller coaster in the world, and I dare say, one of the scariest, promises Stratosphere Executive Vice President Andy Blumen. For those who consider the roller-coaster too tame, theres the Space Shot, a capsule that shoots riders straight up 160 feet, to the 1,081-foot level of the tower, followed by a free fall back to the launching pad at the 921 -foot level. If I was a roller coaster rider. Id ride it with no concerns, said Paul Wilkins, director of the citys building inspection department. Bermans eyes gleam as he talks of plans for a mechanical gorilla 60 feet tall that will scale the tower. Lansbury Continued from Page 12 A respectable showing, and more, is what the British-bom Lansbury has made from the start of her career although Hollywood was unsure how to cast a starlet who was more character actress than glamor puss. s Her film debut, 1944s Gaslight with Ingrid Bergman and Joseph Cottcn, brought Lansbury a supporting actress Oscar nomination. She received two more nominations in her 44-movic career, for The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945) and The Manchurian Candidate tl3). 1 When she turned her attention to Broadway in the 1960s, it too succumbed: she won a Tony Award as best actress in a musical for Marne and followed that with three more of the stage awards: for Dear World (1968); Gypsy (1974) and Sweeney Todd" (1979). .. She has compiled wonderfully pithy descriptions of her films, including the lesser ones. ; Of The Blue Danube" (1949) Lansbury offers: I was a woman "Soldier. I made some real stinkers. .'The Private Affairs of Bel Ami 2 1947) was a highly literate film, HURRY! ONLY 50 TICKETS LEFT THE BEAUX ARTS CRUISE TO MEXICO SATURDAY, OCT. 7th KINGS rjS CENTER ($30 The Captain's Margarita Party 7:00 p.m. Showtime - 9:30 p.m. Selections by Dean Rltodus Production Some l.rnlty Couple nili win. ..4 Cruise to Mexico! Each night the gorilla will crawl out of its cage at the base of the tower, climb up, then slide down in a trail of smoke, Berman said. Berman envisions another wrinkle providing space where 30 paying passengers can tag along in a belly of the beast ride. Adjoining the tower will be a 1,500-room hotel with a 1,000-seat showroom, and a 200,000-square-foot shopping complex by developers Melvin Simon and Sheldon Gordon, who also developed The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace. The tower is accessible only through you guessed it a 97.000-square-foot casino. A ride to the two observation platforms 866 feet above the skyline will cost $6.95. The trip, via one of four double-deck elevators, will take less than one minute, according to Stratosphere spokesman Tom Wilier. And plans are underway for a 55.000-square-foot aquarium on site that will include sharks and petting ponds where visitors can touch the inhabitants. The price tag for the Stratosphere project is currently $315 million but Berman feels it may hit $400 million with add-ons. The projects master plan calls for eventually adding another 2,500 hotel rooms. Las Vegas city officials see Stratosphere as providing a renaissance for what has been one of the seedier sections of town. Built on the site of the old Vegas World Hotel, which bordered a crime-ridden section known as the Naked City, Stratosphere bought up much of the surrounding property in hopes the project will rejuvenate the area. The genesis of the Eighth Blunder tag? The tower was conceived by maverick casino owner Bob Stupak. He battled the Federal Aviation Administration over whether the towering edifice would impede air traffic at McCarran International Airport two miles away. The city, mindful of tax revenues and redevelopment the project could generate; ignored FAA pleas and gave Stupak the green light in 1990. A three-alarm fire in 1993 turned the half-finished tower into a giant roman candle as flames raced through wooden support which probably doomed it at the box office. And of A Breath of Scandal, 1960: Michael Curtiz was a very good director, but he spoke with a thick Hungarian accent. I dont think Sophia Loren understood a single word he said on thc.sct. Oh, well, it was nice to film in Vienna. Younger filmgoers may know her best by voice alone, as the endearing Mrs. Potts in Disneys animated Beauty and the Beast a far cry from her chilling Mrs. Isclin, The Manchurian Candidates evil conspirator. Thats acting, as they say, Lansbury says in explanation of her versatility. Veering into scries TV was, initially, a decision of the bottom line, not the heart. I made up my mind when I was about 58 that I better think seriously about getting into television. This was going to be my annuity, Lansbury said. Playing the crime-solving mystery writer Jessica Fletcher in Murder, She Wrote turned out to be satisfying beyond expectation. People my age and older, Lansbury said, say thank you for depicting a woman of our generation Cruise Tariff: 50 " off this amount is tax deductible) Saturday, October 7th, The Grand Buffet 8:00 p.m. Dress Semi-Formal Location Kings Art Center Donated by Daugherty Travel of Hanford and Morgan S: Slates, Inc, structures at the 500-foot level. The blaze left portions of the con-crete-and-steel tower blackened but structurally undamaged. Wilkins said the fire was spectacular to watch but caused little structural damage to the tower. He said fire protection was one of the major topics of discussion as the tower was built and the public areas are well protected with fire sprinklers. Wilkins also said there were three or four layers of architectural and engineering firms involved in monitoring the construction of the tower. The tower is very structurally sound, he said. I have no concerns in that area at all. We had many firms involved in the inspection process. We wanted to make sure there were a lot of hands in the pot. Stupak went to capital markets to help raise the cash to finish the project, then ended up turning to Grand Casinos to raise the money. Today Grand Casinos owns 61.4 percent of Stratosphere Corporation, Stupak 17 percent. Grand Casinos currently owns, manages or is developing nine casinos in Minnesota, Mississippi, Louisiana and Nevada. An adequate bankroll did not end the problems for the project. Earlier this year the courts sided with neighboring property owners in eminent domain lawsuits, forcing Stratosphere to pay a premium price for the remaining property needed rather than wait out lengthy lawsuits. And in March, Stupak nearly died when he suffered critical head injuries in a motorcycle accident. Berman said once the finances were in place, the biggest challenge became the engineering and coordination of the new features. The two existing Vegas World towers are being rebuilt inside-out, and a third, new tower is being added. Berman said the name change is significant. Ive promised that when were finished, there will be nothing left ' to remind people of Vegas World, he said recently as he gazed over a maze of construction equipment. Berman anticipates the tower will draw upward of 6 million visitors a year out of some 30 million people drawn here annually. in a way that is up, that is forward-looking, that is not age-conscious but simply has her take her place in life with all of the sense of responsibility and fun and energy that she can muster. Her shows trashing by advertisers who sneer at older viewers and their spending power is especially painful, she said, because of what her character has come to represent. Lansbury said she had decided before CBS moved the scries that this would be its last season, although there may be an occasional Murder TV movie; other TV projects arc planned through her Corymorc Productions, which includes sons Anthony and David and brother Bruce. A memoir seems a natural to claim Lansburys time. She admits to toying with the idea, although career memorabilia and letters were destroyed in a 1970 fire at her and husband Peter Shaws Malibu home. Im always threatening to, she says. But I would like to write the memoir myself, in my own words. It takes time to do that. Id have to sit down with a bunch of yellow pads and pens. 1995 i I Land of glitter tends to tarnish aspiring musicians LAS VEGAS (AP) The lights are hot and the air smoky as the heavyset bass player mops his brow, looking out over die audience with a weak smile. He plucks feverishly while three energetic women croon to a roomful of weary gamblers. The sounds of slot machines echo in the background when the group pauses, calling out to onlookers and inviting them to sit in the empty lounge seats. But the tourists remain in the doorway, apparently afraid to stray too far from the blackjack tables. Raucous laughter erupts in the back of the room from partygoers oblivious to the bands rendition of Proud Mary. And young women in short dresses wander through the audience selling roses and cigarettes like popcorn vendors at a baseball gamer Yet none of this seems to deter the lively rhythm-and-blues group, whose members know how precarious their jobs are. Although Las Vegas continues to offer more opportunities for working musicians than most cities, times for them have hit a sour note. The live music that filled showrooms during Frank Sinatras heyday has been replaced by digital audio tapes, lounges have shrunk or closed as music takes a back scat in expanding casinos, and technology has opened doors for unskilled musicians willing to compete for lower pay. When I first came here at 16 or 17 years old Id look at the lounges and people who are stars now were playing in the lounges, said Jerry Lopez, who has played with the band Santa Fe for about 20 years. Its changed so much since then. Theyve closed so many lounges, made other ones smaller, lowered budgets the whole thing has deteriorated, Lopez said. With more musicians competing for fewer jobs, its getting increasingly difficult to make a living in Las Vegas, said Thom Pastor, HANFORD FARMERS MARKET ANEORD1HIGHIHOMECOMING1WEE Thursday, Sept. 28th 4-7 p.m. Courthouse Square Downtown Hanford IPHEEfiCEADEfla RURLmS.ClTOVVfjS FREE Carousel Rides Fresh Fruits & Vegetables Food Booths Shaved Ice Balloons Pony Rides Sponsored by Hanford Improvement Association :!l Community Coordinating Council and Hanford Masonic Lodge KINGS HANFORD SUNRISE KIWANIS 2nd ANNUAL FIRE EATERS GOLF TOURNAMENT SATURDAY, OCTOBER 7, 1995 TEE-OFF TIME 8:30 A.M. LEM00RE MUNICIPAL GOLF COURSE 250 WEST IONA AVENUE ENTRY FEE $60 EVENT SPONSORS 500 SPECIAL TEE SPONSORS 250 TEE SPONSORS 50 CART SPONSORS 20 TRICIA JOHNSTON secretary-treasurer of the Musicians Union of Las Vegas, Local No. 369. Theres always people willing to work for $10 less (per gig). Vegas is always overflowing with musicians willing to audition, thus driving the price down, Pastor said. In addition, the quality of music has changed as digital technology, including synthesizing and sampling (use of previously recorded musical material), has allowed people to perform in Las Vegas without investing a lot of time and skill, he said. They really get jazzed by that that they actually can be working in Vegas and never really putting in a lot of time, Pastor said. Theyre singing along with it theyve got a drum machine, a string machine. ...Its not like these people are lazy. Technology has given them a lot of avenues not available to working musicians years ago. Wayne Raney, a trumpet player who works part-time as a classical musician, said many resorts now consider music an extra. Its at that viewpoint where they go to tape. Its not like it was when every lounge in the casinos had 15 musicians in the band. ...The number of musicians and style of music has changed. Part of that change took place in January 1990 after the Musicians Union ended its seven-month strike against local resorts who insisted on replacing live musicians with recorded music. Pastor said the union failed to get any of the concessions it was bargaining for, but noted that some shows, such as Treasure Islands Mystere, combine live music with tape. Lopez said he fears young, talented musicians are shying away from Las Vegas, which now has about 1 million residents, because of what some perceive as the citys tawdry image. Lopez said hes found that people outside of Las Vegas think the music scene here is full of corny lounge lizards. Its not like that, he said. I EACagAlNTlN Eu GUESJ0REB TEAMS WILL BE DETERMINED BY A FOR INFORMATION CALL 924-5339 ROGER LEE 584-2966 dont think younger musicians flock here because of the stigma. Pastor said that while its impossible to know how many of the estimated 4,000 newcomers to Las Vegas each month are aspiring musicians, hes constantly getting visits from new residents. The musicians frequently are not realistic about their potential for success here, he said. My job actually even though its not defined as such is to give them a clear direction. Nevada is a right-to-work state, meaning its laws prohibit employers from requiring union membership. Local No. 239 helps its 900 members find other musicians and jobs. David Salcido, a drummer from Los Angeles, is one of the many musicians who have decided to make Las Vegas their permanent home and recently called on Pastor for advice. Ive been wanting to come here for a couple of years ... and have been in Vegas permanently for about a month, he said. Its too cutthroat in LA. If youre a working musician you are working little bars and getting only 50 people in there. In casinos you get hundreds of people here. The more gigs I get the more people will see me. I want to die playing. ... What Im using the casinos and clubs here for is just to keep playing and working. Lopez, who said hes played everywhere from New York to Los Angeles, still considers Las Vegas one of the best places for working musicians, despite the markets recent decline. As far as making a living and having a life thats fairly normal, I would put Las Vegas at the top of them, he said. In New York, I can go out any night and hear some of the greatest musicians who are working for S50 (a night). ...Its the same thing in Los Angeles. Its either feast or famine in the LA scene. BUND DRAW CINDY BUYENSE 585-1957 i J

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