I Spent Thanksgiving In Atlantic City

atlantic-cityThis is why I love living on the East Coast because in a couple of hours, I can be just about anywhere! And so, instead of heading south to deal with family members that I loathe, I headed for Atlantic City instead and stayed at Bally’s.

what-a-day-012And I strolled by the Wild West Saloon right off the boardwalk and they were not serving turkey, but you could certainly get your drink on and your gambling. For myself, I had been imbibing ‘free’ champagne while at the Bally’s slots and decided to stagger down the boardwalk and came across this joint.

wildwestI believe in doing just what the signs says, “Go WILD!” LOL! Damn! Am I on the ‘strip’ or the boardwalk? Oh well, it was too cold to take the plunge and so I headed back inside and down the hatch it flowed, champagne, that is!

 

However, I do want to say that Atlantic City has become a really sad city. The people who worked in the casino/hotel were telling me that they were surprised to even see people looking enthusiastically around Atlantic City because there is just nothing to come to Atlantic City for these days. I could not get them to understand that I come to stand by the ocean and just watch the wild waves crash on the shore and that the best time of the year for me to enjoy doing this is when it is cold because I can be sure that I am not amongst a crowd, jostling for a space on the beach. There was much laughter following this because I was told that there are no crowds even at the peak of summer.

It did not used to be this way. My uncle, bless his soul, is dead now but he spent all of his retirement years in Atlantic City; he and his wife. They both had gambling fever and would lose their shirt every time and yet every month, they’d be back in Atlantic City to do it all over again. One time, my ex-husband and I went with them and I was in the casino watching my ex-husband lose his money when I heard my name over the casino loudspeaker and I was wanted at the cashier station. I found the cashier station and there stood my uncle. He had requested that I be paged because he wanted to ‘borrow’ some money from me because his money had all been gambled away and so had his wife’s. He got no money from me! I’ll never forget, on the bus ride back home, when the bus driver pulled into a restaurant so that we could get some food, I was the only one who got off the bus and got back on with food and everyone groaned when the smell wafted through the bus because they were all broke. My ex-husband looked at me when I sat down beside him and he asked me wasn’t I going to give him some of my food. HA! I laughed in his face! I tortured those broke gamblers all the way back to our hometown. It was so much fun!

But as usual, I digress. Atlantic City is just sad, like so many other American cities that have had their heyday and no one invested in the city or its people. From what I understand, crime is off the charts thanks to a lack of jobs, poverty, homelessness, prostitution, drug abuse and the list is endless. Why is this endemic to almost every major American city? What is wrong with the politicians when they can see this as problematic and would still rather have big developers come in and further add insult to injury to  the already poverty stricken by building upscale dwellings and opening upscale fancy named stores that people who are jobless cannot shop at? And then proceed to go on and on about the high crime rates as if they don’t know that poverty and high crime rates go hand in hand? Back in the day, Atlantic City catered to people like my uncle who would go to Atlantic City, religiously and not only gamble, but would go to the restaurants and spend money in the little shops that were lined up and down the boardwalk, taking back home with them, cheap souvenirs and $1 boxes of salt water taffy. Now, you’ll find only high end stores in the mall on the boardwalk. Pier shops is what its called and there you’ll find Wolf Fine Jewelry, Tiffany & Co.,  bebe, Louie Vuitton, Michael Kors, Marshall Rousso, Glow Gold, Burberry and other stores of the like, but you’ll not find what used to be there; Dollar Tree, McDonalds, Burger King, Payless Shoe Source, The 99 cent Taffy Store, The Everything’s A Dollar Gift Shop and more of the like. And back then, Atlantic City was thriving, but there still was a problem of no investment in Atlantic City beyond the boardwalk and the casinos. I noticed this decades ago and I thought, “If this continues, this city is going to go into a decline.” And it has, big time!

Casinos are now vying for customers to the point where I was able to receive $25 in the form of a voucher after having paid $30 for the bus ticket to Atlantic City. So, it only cost me $5.00 to go to Atlantic City and back. Of course, I had to use the voucher in the casino, the $25.00 wasn’t given to me in cash, but what was even better, I discovered while sitting at the slot machine that I could order any drink I wanted. They even had champagne! I could not believe it! I sat at that slot machine and pressed the button to order champagne for hours. They even gave it to me in a champagne flute. The music was playing overhead and I was just a giggling and enjoying my ‘free’ champagne in my gifted new flute and was winning too! Now how great was that? I finally staggered on out of the casino and to the elevator to go up to my room, only to fall into bed and get up a few hours later and start all over again. Good heavens! Did I enjoy Thanksgiving or did I enjoy Thanksgiving? I enjoyed Thanksgiving.

But then, I thought of all the people who were just a mere couple hundred feet beyond the casino doors, hulking in the shadows, shivering and hungry while I was being courted as a desirable customer at the casino. I thought, “Oh, what a hypocrite, am I!” I write about all the injustices that are going on today and then someone only has to hand me a champagne flute  and continuously fill the flute for as long as I can sit without falling down drunk. Right then and there, I pledged to do better. I pledged to try and do what I can to find solutions and to stop forgetting even for a few hours that there are people beyond the doors, homeless and shivering; that there are people, who once worked in that casino but because so few come there anymore, their jobs were terminated and that I am being courted not because I am valued, but because I am one of the few who will still come back to a city that is virtually, a ghost town; a city that needs its politicians to revitalize and give hope to a population of citizens who have been neglected thanks to indifferent politicians, broken promises and vulture capitalists.

Atlantic City will soon have much company.

 

 

Labor Day For The Unemployed!

striking workers in front of Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, NJ

 

At the risk of repeating myself, I repeat myself.

“Happy Labor Day! Now Here’s Your Pink Slip!”

September 1, 2014

Revel starts shutdown Monday after just 2 years

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — The most spectacular and costly failure in Atlantic City’s 36-year history of casino gambling begins to play out Monday when the $2.4 billion Revel Casino Hotel empties its hotel.

Revel is shutting down a little over two years after opening with high hopes of revitalizing Atlantic City’s struggling gambling market.

Revel will be the second of three Atlantic City casinos to close in a two-week span. The Showboat Casino Hotel closed its doors Sunday, and Trump Plaza is closing Sept. 16.

Now, as you can see, I posted this back in 2014 when Atlantic City casinos were shuttering their doors in unprecedented numbers and here we go again. In October, yet another ‘Trump’ casino will close its doors, putting thousands of Atlantic city residents out-of-work. So, I say, “Happy Labor Day! Now, here’s your pink slip!”

What a wonderful way to celebrate a tribute to workers; give them a pink slip and tell them to file for unemployment because even though this casino is no longer affiliated with Donald Trump, it still bears HIS name and so in essence, Trump is still playing the game, “You’re Fired!” America, have you no clue how ‘fired’ you are going to be if Trump descends to the presidency? This man has made billions by investing fake money into real estate schemes that bear his name and then when the business starts to go belly up, why he sucks everything out of it in bankruptcy proceedings, thus leaving the rank-and-file to pick up the pieces of their lives, the best way they can. Correct me if I am wrong, but how many of us could continuously get away with filing bankruptcy after bankruptcy and then proceed to amass fortune after fortune off just our name and abscond with the profits when the shit hits the fan and then off to another profitable venture, we go? Not a damn one of us and that’s for sure!

And Americans have the nerve to wonder why they are fucked up? Don’t wonder. Just look around at who continues to thumb their billions in your face while you land on your face after having worked your ass off for decades; only to be thrown out like yesterday’s stinking garbage.

Trump Taj Mahal closing would further darken A.C.’s South Inlet
The announced closing of Taj Mahal came shortly after one of Atlantic City’s biggest successes in the past two years — the reopening of Showboat in July.

Straub is still in the process of trying to get Revel reopened.

“It’s two steps forward, three steps backwards,” said Richard Perniciaro, director of the Center for Regional and Business Research at Atlantic Cape Community College.

Perniciaro said the proposed closing of the Taj combined with the pending referendum on casinos in North Jersey in November could discourage residential and commercial investment in the resort.

The Taj Mahal has gone through five(5) bankruptcy proceedings; that’s FIVE! And get this, the employees who had a stake in the success of this casino have lost their health benefits and their pension and so does anyone wonder why statistics state that Atlantic City, NJ has one of the nation’s highest foreclosure rates? And yet, ‘white’ male vultures with loads of money are waiting in the wings to snatch up the property of the soon-to-be former workers of the Taj Mahal casino. And we don’t need a revolution? Where are these people going to live? Have you visited Atlantic City lately? I was there in 2013 and I can tellya, it was like nothing I had ever seen. People were coming up to me on the boardwalk, yelling in my face to, “Give me a dollar!” I had to produce my stun gun, pepper spray to send them running. When I was heading into a liquor store right off the boardwalk, women were standing in font of the liquor store, shoving their children up to strangers to get them to beg for money as they entered and exited the liquor store. The salesclerk stated that it is a huge problem, but what can they do because as soon as they shoo them away, they come right back. I can only imagine what it is like now, because that was before the recent shuttering of many casino doors. Crime has got to be off the charts. Homelessness, we know is off the charts because with foreclosure rates skyrocketing, where are those people who once had homes, living? Right! In a box.

This is what this country is descending into; a nation of abject poverty stricken people with no means, no jobs and no hope and here we have two candidates for president that are the epitome of hopelessness for the masses. We have a candidate that has filed bankruptcy more times than I can count and who deliberately goes about attempting to stir up racists and bigots while on the other hand, we have ‘Pantsuits Warmonger Killar E. Clinton’ who never saw a drone it didn’t like and is itching to be the commander-in-chief to continue to provoke the Russians and the Chinese into war.

But we are about to celebrate Labor Day? For real? Get the fuck outta here with that bullshit! And yet, I cannot help but think that the poem I wrote for Labor Day 2014 is just as relevant now as it was then. Enjoy!

The Atlantic City Labor Day Blues!

For 30 years, I’ve punched that clock
and now on Labor Day, I get to take stock
of a life of labor that could end any day
and the sad fact is, I can’t pay my own way.

In the unemployment line, here I stand.
I’ve joined the ranks of the sad, holding out my hand,
not for a hand-out, because I’ve paid my dues.
So don’t give me no lip, walk a mile in my shoes!

How long will it take me to get back on my feet
and fulfill my obligations, I’ve deadlines to meet?

I’m out to pound the pavement ’cause winter won’t wait.
The lights must stay on and the rent cannot be late.

What a Labor Day it is here in Atlantic City.
It’s not going well for me, Labor Day is kind of shitty!

©2014 Shelby I. Courtland

So yeah, Happy Labor Day!

They Are Not After Me!

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…and though I rage at the system in place,
at my own inadequacies, I don’t want to face.

When I turn away from a homeless man,
I know that I am not doing all that I can.

And how many times have I helped the victims of hate?
When have I found myself stepping up to the plate?

When I ask myself, “What about the sick and the hungry,
and what help did I offer to a strung out junkie?”

When bombs are dropped on innocent heads,
they say, “Look at all the tears she sheds!”

I stand around and cry crocodile tears,
and then I shut the door on all my fears.

I am so afraid of the horrors I see.
For if they are busy killing you, they are not after me!


Written by,
Shelby I. Courtland
©2014 Shelby I. Courtland

Keep thinking that ‘they’ll’ not be after you! ‘They’ intend on handing each of us our ass on a platter. It is just a matter of time and time is what we’re all fast running out of! Just look around you, the world is on fire from Gaza to Iraq, from Ukraine to Qatar, from Libya to Afghanistan, from Syria to Darfur, from Yemen to Somalia, from Pakistan to Venezuela, from Honduras to Guatemala, from Detroit MI to Stockton CA, from the tunnels of the homeless in Las Vegas NV to the homeless street walkers in Atlantic City NJ, from the slums of Calcutta to the sweatshops of Bangladesh and they are coming for you and for me!