Casinos in Worcester? Don’t bet on it!

It’s all about dumping on Worcester’s older neighborhoods. Department of Public Works and Parks head honcho Robert Moylan reopens the Quinsigamond Village dump after Worcester decides it needs to have more landfill space. Moylan reopens/increases the size of the dump after the City of Worcester promised Quinsig Village residents that the city would never reopen the landfill – that it would honor the wishes of neighborhood residents who worked like mad in the ‘80s to get the dump closed – for good. Moylan reopened it after hundreds of residents signed a petition against the dump and presented it to the city – a petition which the city mysteriously has no record of. (Should we check the dump?!) So now the expanded landfill is with us – bigger and better, I am told. So new and improved that it has even won an award!

My question to City Fathers/Mothers: Why can’t we give the AWARD-winning dump to the west side – or perhaps relocate it down the street from Robert Moylan’s home?

And now the latest insult: Quinsig Village may be the dumping ground for a Worcester casino. A repository for yet more garbage. If Massachusetts – thanks to Governor Deval Patrick – gets casinos,Worcester’s powers that be want a piece of the action and have suggested that Quinsig Village – at the bottom of Providence Street – be the place where Lady Luck hangs her spangly halter top and thong panties. Just a stone’s throw from the concrete mess that is the 146 connector/nexus, behind the American Legion hall. Just a 5-minute drive from the Venron Hill School!

How lovely! Where once we had talk of the historic Blackstone River and beautifying Quinsig Village, we now get slot machines, whore masters, has-been ‘70s bands and people with addictions – of all kinds. That’s what you “experience,” if you go down to Mohegan Sun or Foxwoods.

A “World of Wonders,” my … eye.

I am, believe it or not, speaking from personal experience. I, along with the boyfriend, have gone down to Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods to see bands, even Bob Dylan. It was music first and foremost that sent us barreling down Interstate 84 in Connecticut; the casinos were simply the places from which the music was blaring. Let me share those experiences with you, gentle reader:

Experience #1:
Rose calls the boyfriend and screams: “Greg Allman’s playing at Moehegan Sun! For free! Can you believe it? Let’s go! It’s free! Free!”

The boyfriend 1. loves Greg Allman and 2. is really, really … frugal. Rose knows by repeating the word “free” over and over again she will get the Pavlovian-dog response she wants. She does.

Two days later Rose and the boyfriend are on the highway heading to Mohegan Sun. It’s a Saturday about 4 p.m. Allman comes on about 8 p.m. Rose is jazzed. Boyfriend is annoyed; he’s been to the Mohegan Sun before and doesn’t gamble. He has been dragged to Mohegan Sun by various and sundry friends – one of whom actually had gambling, drinking AND smoking addictions (simultaneously). He thinks the whole place is pathetic.

Rose and boyfriend get to the casino – which, like the ads claim, truly is a world unto itself. Hotels, bars, restaurants, stores and miles and miles of slot machines and other gambling machines/games. But first Rose and the boyfriend “experience” the parking/parking garage hell of Mohegan Sun. Hokey names likes “spring” and “autumn” are the names of the west, east, etc sides of the humongous parking garage at Mohegan Sun. The names are painted on the walls of the casino and in the garage. The more annoying part of this is that the font in which the numbers and letters of the sections of the garage are written look like bits of twigs arranged in funny shapes.

“Is this a y?” Rose asks the boyfriend.

“Is it a u?” the boyfriend growls back.

Rose and boyfriend get lost in the huge garage complex, somewhere in the winter section. They stay lost for one half hour!

Once Rose and boyfriend enter the casino of Mohegan Sun, they are engulfed by a cloud of cigarette smoke – casinos allow smoking and everybody seems to smoke when they’re gambling. Then there’s the noise. Bells and whistles and a strange whirring fill the air, creating a loud, aural backdrop, the kind where you have to say to your friends over and over again “What did you say?” “Huh? Say that again!” The noise, Rose thinks, is emanating from the slot machines.

The boyfriend wants to get to the place where Greg Allman is – the Wolf Den lounge. Unfortunately, this is not so easy. The casino, the boyfriend intelligently points out, seems to be designed to KEEP YOU IN THE CASINO so you can continue to gamble and drink and gorge. Built like a huge, round mall – only one whose walls are painted black – there are signs, but the casino’s corridors feel labyrinthine. You follow the arrows and yet you end up … in the middle of slot machines or by restaurant row or next to a ladies room. Never an exit. Annoying!

Sometimes it gets so smoky in the casino, they have to ventilate it. They do it in the weirdest way – it feels like the top of the casino opens up to let fresh air in and pull old air out. We’re certain the top/roof is not actually raised – but that’s what their ventilation system feels like.

Anyways, Rose and the boyfriend travel down one path to get to the Wolf Den. No luck. So they backtrack and go down another path. No luck. Finally, on their way to look for someone who can give them directions to the Wolf Den, they stumble upon the Wolf Den. The venue is in the middle of all the slot machines, roulette wheels and black jack dealers – no walls, a kind of theater/nightclub in the round. They, because of Rose’s inability to be on time for anything, are late. Rose, naively walks into the Wolf Den, oblivious to the hundred or so people who are surrounding the Wolf Den, looking in at the concert. They are the people who were turned away after the Wolf Den was filled to capacity. A guard stops Rose in her tracks and points to all the people who didn’t get in and must now content themselves with watching the concert from the periphery.

“Oh,” Rose says.

So Rose and the boyfriend resign themselves to gawker-status.

And yet they want more, they at least want to SEE Greg Allman, who is seated on stage and playing his guitar. But they cannot see Allman, for all the heads in their way! They must see Greg Allman!

So the boyfriend sort of – well – actually cuts ahead of someone to get a peek. The circle of people looking at/listening to Allman are ENRAGED. One guy – bigger than the boyfriend who is short but (as he likes to remind Rose) “big-boned” – says, “Hey, buddy…” and steps out.

Rose thinks: There will be a fight.

Then a woman decides to comment. She looks tough, even slatternly. “Just cut in front,” she says sarcastically, to the boyfriend, who replies, “Listen, Lady … .”

Rose thinks: Here comes the fight!

So she throws herself between the boyfriend and the broad and says: “We’re sorry!” and brings the boyfriend, who is quite feisty, to the back of the crowd.

It is awfully crowded – a tight squeeze – and the boyfriend unwittingly brushes up against a woman in the crowd. He says, “Excuse me.” She says, “You can bump into me anytime.” And gives him THE LOOK. Then smiles.

Rose is a little disconcerted – these Mohegan Sun patrons are not the type of folks you would see, let’s say, in the Foothills Theatre. She regrets coming down to Connecticut.

Outside the Wolf Den, listening to Greg Allman, Rose is able to take in the Wolf Den aesthetics. It sort of looks like the set of the old TV show “F Troop.” Fake boulders, fake wooden fence… And atop the fake boulders, keeping watch over the land of fake nature, sit four or five stuffed, fake wolves. Big taxi-dermied wolves, whose plastic eyes light up and whose stiff tales move from side to side. Their heads go up and down, too. Rose finds this depressing. Rose feels that the great Mohican tribe has prostituted itself, lock stock and fake gun barrel. She says to the boyfriend the tribe couldn’t even stay true to the Anglicized name used in the James Fenmore Cooper novels – The Last of the Mohicans, The Deer Slayer, etc. “Mohegan sounded less Indian,” she says, shaking her head.

The boyfriend is too disgusted to reply.

Eventually the concert ends – it was OK. Rose and boyfriend grab something to eat at one of the restaurants in the casino. Rose notes that they hadn’t seen anyone who even remotely looked like a Native American. In the entire casino. Employee or patron. You would think the tribe would try to give some of the jobs to their people.Or would the sight of a real Native American turn off gamblers? The whole thing is depressing beyond belief.

Experience #2:

Rose and boyfriend go to Mohegan Sun to see boyfriend’s favorite oldies band – Peter Noone of the Hermans Hermits. Rose does not see the “greatness” of Peter Noone, even though the boyfriend, a bit of a golden oldie himself, informs her that the Herman’s Hermits “were huge,” had more #1 hits than the Beatles in 1964 or something like that. Rose is unimpressed.

The boyfriend is going to get inside the Wolf Den this time and they are going to be on time! So they leave Worcester at 2 p.m. to make an 8 p.m. show! And they still can’t get in! That’s right! The line to see Peter Noone is so long (people had been waiting for hours) that Rose and boyfriend get “cut off ” right before the last Wolf Den patron. The good – or bad – thing, depending on your point of view, is that the Wolf Den always reserves 20 or so special seats for its high rollers – the gamblers who, during the course of the night, have thrown away the most money. We’re talking thousands of dollars here. And so we are the first in line to be seated if some of the high rollers decide to take a pass on this fantastic concert. Lucky, for Rose, many don’t show up! So the boyfriend and Rose and three other couples got to enter the Wolf Den and actually be seated at a table and EXPERIENCE the wonder that is Peter Noone.

Fast forward to after the concert, after the meal, when it is time to go home and Rose needs to find a ladies room. She finds one next to the restaurants, in the lobby of the Mohegan Sun hotel. Near the elevator in the lobby she spies three young women wearing micro-mini skirts and stiletto high heels.

“Escorts?” she whispers to the boyfriend.

“Hookers,” he notes dryly.

As Rose turns the corner, she says to the boyfriend, “Gee, I didn’t know there was a pizzeria here. I smell pizza.”

Then she feels her foot slide – as if she were gliding on ice. She looks down – and there it is: her sandaled foot in a puddle of vomit. That was where the cheesy smell was coming from! Sour vomit!

“Argh!” Rose screams. “God, I don’t want it to touch my skin! My toes!”

The boyfriend looks exasperated – as if it were Rose’s fault she unwittingly stepped into vomit! Rose limps to the ladies room and rolls out yards and yards of paper towels and very gingerly cleans her sandal so as not to get vomit on her feet.

She leaves the ladies room dispirited. She and the boyfriend drive home (windows open), vowing never ever to go to Mohegan Sun.

So there you have it: vomit, hussies, smoke, confusion, tacky ambience … And we didn’t even get to the gambling part (the gamblers looked so grim, focused on slot machines, computer game screens and playing cards).

So let’s all shout a resounding “NO” to casinos and gambling in Quinsigamond Village. How ironic that the Swedes who once lived there didn’t even allow barrooms in their neighborhood!

Just goes to show you how low we’ve sunk.