Vegas matchbooks, part 1


Over the weekend, I acquired a large bag of matchbooks from casinos and other places in Las Vegas. They’ll be given to my cigar-smoking father-in-law as a holiday gift, but before that happens I’m going to pull a few out and display them in this space. Consider this the Vegas Matchbooks project.

Debbie and Alan, whoever they are, led things off a couple of days ago. But nothing about their wedding favor was connected to Vegas in any way. ┬áMaybe they got married in Vegas, and maybe they didn’t. But the Orleans–as pictured above–is definitely in Vegas, so this will be Part 1 of my project.

I googled The Orleans and was surprised to learn they’re still around. Many of the places represented in the matchbook bag are undoubtedly closed, because Vegas seems to rebuild itself on a regular basis. The Orleans opened in 1996, and because it’s located off the Strip, I’ve never been inside of it. I haven’t been to Vegas in over ten years, but The Orleans would have been there when I last visited. But there’s so much going on along the Strip that I wasn’t inclined to venture off of it.

The most interesting thing I learned about The Orleans is that George Carlin played his last show there, a few days before he died in 2008. I love George Carlin, and wish I could have seen him perform live. He did so many things, from movies to hosting the first episode of Saturday Night Live back in 1975 to giving us the seven words you can’t say on television. The first line of that routine is simply “I love words,” and I agree with him.

The underlying theme of that routine is that the words you can’t say are just words, like any others. But those words went all the way up to the Supreme Court, who determined that the federal government, through the FCC, can censor words when children are likely to be in the audience. I shudder to think what my children would be hearing on the radio nowadays without that ruling. I’m all for liberty, but I also have two kids to raise.

It’s worth noting that Carlin’s last show at The Orleans in 2008 wasn’t billed that way. He was a 71 year-old guy with a history of heart problems, so he wouldn’t be doing comedy forever. But he was going to keep on doing it for as long as he could. That’s how life is. You enjoy it while you can, because nobody really knows when their ride is going to come to an end.

More matchbooks will follow over the coming few days, before I give these things away. I’m trying to show how inspiration comes in a lot of different forms, even if it’s something as mundane as a matchbook.


Something from another time and place


There’s a reason I go to estate sales. There are several reasons, really, but one of the biggest is that I like looking for unusual things. And if I can get them for cheap, so much the better.

Today was just such an example. A man with an apparent love for all things Vegas must have recently passed, and people had descended on his house to pick through the things he didn’t need anymore. I stopped in, headed for the basement–since that’s where the most interesting things usually are–and found the perfect holiday present for my father-in-law. I very much doubt he reads this blog, so I can write about it here.

What I found, and purchased for the grand sum of two dollars, was an enormous zip-lock bag, filled with matchbooks and match boxes from various Las Vegas casinos. Many of the places probably don’t exist anymore, which makes them all the more interesting. As a cigar aficionado, and a seemingly part-time Vegas resident himself, this is something that he’s never received before, and never will again. Sometimes the best gifts just present themselves.

But the most fascinating match box of all, at least in my mind, is the one that I scanned and am presenting above. I’m not sure who Debbie and Alan are, but thirty-two years ago they got married–where, I can’t tell–and they had match boxes printed up with their names and their wedding date on it. Would anyone think to do such a thing today, when smoking has undergone such a dramatic shift in public opinion? I can’t believe that they would.

Other matchbooks may be presented here, if something interesting reveals itself. But for now, I can only hope that Debbie and Alan are happy with their spouses, whether they are listed on that matchbox or not.