Chances are, you saw TV footage last year of the demolition of the Sands Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, a fabled fleshpot that catered to the appetites of JFK and LBJ and Sinatra, tourists and oil men and mobsters.
In the aftermath of Oklahoma City, the implosion of the Sands had a creepy resonance. Still, it was one of those slow-motion building collapses you can't tear your eyes away from as it punches a hole in the sky. In a satisfyingly detailed piece in the July Harper's, David Samuels tells us how it was done.
Samuels spent months with J. Mark Loizeaux and his brother Doug, members of a Maryland-based family that blows up buildings for a living. Hotels, housing projects, banks, parking garages, shopping malls, city blocks: The Loizeaux family story, Samuels writes, can be read as "a history in reverse of the United States, written in dynamite and detonating cord."
But the great thing about Samuels' story is that he doesn't simply bloviate about the Meaning of it All. He kept his eyes and ears open and took good notes. Step by careful step, he describes how the Loizeaux family goes about orchestrating the "dynamic collapse" of the Sands -- no easy feat, because the Sands' builder, worried about mob wrath, overloaded the tower with reinforcing steel.
From youth to age
I devoutly believe that Bruce Springsteen is the reason rock and roll was invented. Another article of my faith is that Springsteen will chart the territory of middle age and old age as brilliantly as he did our youth, helping us all make sense of it.
In her essay in Life this month titled "Growing Up With Bruce," Claudia Glenn Dowling makes it clear that she, too, is counting on Springsteen to guide her through the years.
Dowling caught a Springsteen show in Cambridge, Mass., 25 years ago, more than a year before Jon Landau saw him and wrote his famous "I saw rock and roll's future, and its name is Bruce Springsteen" review in Rolling Stone. She has stuck with Springsteen all this time, through his misbegotten first marriage and his successful second one, through his huge rock-star period (a tough period for us early fans, with all those teeny-boppers screaming "Bruuuce!") and his current introspective mode.
"Springsteen is still working on our autobiography," Dowling writes, still "getting closer to the source." Amen to that.
Wrath from the right
David Brock embarked upon a biography of Hillary Rodham Clinton with every intention of slamming his subject, as he had with "The Real Anita Hill" and the Troopergate stories about Bill Clinton. But Brock, to his surprise, found that Mrs. Clinton "was not the corrupt, power-mad shrew of conservative demonology," and wrote as much in "The Seduction of Hillary Rodham."
The wrath of the right that then descended on Brock was an eye-opener for a man who had felt at home in the company of Beltway conservatives, even after he came out as gay. In a fascinating piece in Esquire, Brock describes how he became persona non grata among his one-time friends and political allies: uninvited to weddings, unwelcome on talk shows whose hosts were the likes of Oliver North and G. Gordon Liddy, even nominated by conservative activists for "the Kevin Phillips Award, so named for a Republican who makes a living 'helping the other team.' "
Brock tells a chilling tale about being blackballed by a "hardwired 'conservative movement' that can function as a kind of neo-Stalinist thought police." On the other hand, having swum for so long with the sharks, was he really surprised that one day they turned around and bit him?
After the ballgames
A desolate portrait of Pete Rose is etched in the pages of GQ.
Rose ended his career with more hits than any ballplayer who ever lived -- 4,256 -- and a reputation for headlong hustle that helped him transcend his limited physical gifts.
But he has been barred from the Hall of Fame for gambling -- even though the Hall is home to such dismal specimens of humanity as Ty Cobb, whom Rose eclipsed as the hit king.
Now, GQ writer Scott Raab tells us, Rose wanders in a lucrative limbo, merchandising his fame while wondering what hit him. He runs a restaurant in Florida, thousands of miles from his wife and two young children; he stands in booths in the middle of nowhere to sell his autograph; he is such a pariah in baseball circles that he cannot even visit his old teammates in a broadcast booth, cannot even be featured in action photos to commemorate the Cincinnati Reds' last championship.
Nicholas Dawidoff chronicles his brief love affair with the motorcycle in Outside. The most sensible comment comes from a Haitian-born cabdriver, who tells Dawidoff the downside of motorcycling in a world filled with cars: "They go up over the
hood. You know, they fly. Then they land. There is blood. They look pretty dead to me." TV Guide is out with an issue touting "The 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time." It's fun to quibble with best-of lists, and read capsule descriptions of episodes such as the "Dragnet" where Sgt. Joe Friday confronts a teen-ager on LSD, probably inducing another hallucination in the poor kid: "You're pretty high and far out," Friday says sternly. "What kind of kick are you on, son?"
Pub Date: 7/06/97