Good god, it has been a while. I made excuses for it in the last AC diary, but I really have been slacking on my trips to the lost city of Atlantic. Things haven’t slowed down for me over the last six months, as there have been many things over the last six months that both required my time and money (the holidays, house repair and decor, planning for weddings to attend in 2017, etc.). But, I knew I wouldn’t be missing the Atlantic City Beerfest, the greatest weekend in Atlantic City’s calendar. And, with thanks to the great and powerful OB, what a weekend it was! Let’s break it down:
Friday, 4:30PM – It’s raining, and I’m at the Cheesequake rest stop in the middle of the Garden State Parkway. That sentence is normally the start of a miserable story, but not in this case, as OB shows up to pick up my lady and me in a limo. You see, after hitting it big years ago, OB took down a group of able-bodied gamblers in a limo. Since then, he had been looking to recreate the experience. Unfortunately, this led to many times where he had claimed he was going to Altantic City via limo, but then cancelled it for a variety of reasons (not enough people to go, conflicting plans, realizing that it’s already 2AM and calling a limo to Atlantic City when you were drunk is probably not a great idea). This earned him the nickname “The Boy Who Cried Limo To Atlantic City”, a label he was desperately trying to shake lest it ruin his standing in high society. So, imagine my surprise when The Boy Who Cried Limo To Atlantic City actually showed up….in a limo to Atlantic City!
Unfortunately, this limo ride coincided with another experiment I was conducting: being sober the month of March. The gist of it is: anyone can say they don’t have a drinking problem and can quit any time they want, but how can they know for sure? Therefore, my wife and I put this to the test by keeping sober during the month of March (we would have done February, but we had a trip to New Orleans already planned in that month). And, within a week, I found out I don’t have a drinking problem. Much like running, I found sobriety to be very….boring. It wasn’t a struggle – I wasn’t white-knuckling it, or shaking on the bathroom floor. But it wasn’t that rewarding either- sure, I probably saved a bit of money, but I didn’t find myself feeling that much better physically or mentally day-in-day-out. Sobriety was just…there. Thus, my wife and I were in countdown mode on the way to AC.
8:00PM (4 Hours of Sobriety Left) – We have a lovely dinner with OB and LadyOB at Nero’s Steakhouse in Great Caesar’s Casino, where it’s a competition of sins. OB is drinking lovely pink alcoholic drinks in front of the sober people, while we heathens stuff our faces with meat on a Friday in Lent (OB is Catholic). Only LadyOB is enjoying both worlds, meating and boozing it up.
After, OB hits up the Britney Spears slot machine (which he fell in love with during the last trip to AC), and has the greatest run of slot machine success I’ve ever seen. Starting with $100, he gambles it all the way down to his final $0.50. Then, after hitting some crazy games, he’s back up to $140! That’s a 28000% increase on his investment! As they say in Atlantic City, you can never count a man out on a Britney Spears slot machine.
11:58PM – I’ve been sober so long, that I’m watching a women’s college basketball game….and I’m enjoying it.
12:00AM – DRINKING!!!!!
I drink a little drink, and then drink some more. The night become a blur of Britney Spears slot machines (which treated me poorly this time) and $5 blackjack at the Wild Wild West. I missed you drinking. Welcome back.
Saturday, 11:00AM – Well, I’m not too hungover. Last year, I claimed I would go to two sessions of the AC Beerfest, and, given how much I drank on Friday, I think I’d be ready for it in 2018 (my two sessions would be Friday night and Saturday night, although OB argued it would be best to do the two sessions all day Saturday). After a small breakfast where I meagerly eat a Caesar salad, my wife takes a nap and I putz around the premises. As I mentioned in the last AC Diary, I am thoroughly impressed by the Wild Wild West casino. It still provides a plethora of $5 table games, as well as other non-gambling arcade games (Pop-A-Shot, Guitar Hero, etc.). It was quite lively for a Saturday afternoon in the off-peak season, with both gamblers and non-gamblers alike. It’s become the casino I’ve dreamed of since I first started going to Atlantic City: it’s youth-oriented (I felt ancient as a 32-year-old), it provides cheap gambling, and it provides cheap drinks/entertainment for non-gamblers. It is so simple, and they had the tools to make this the whole time – I’m not sure why it took them 10 years to get it right. By the way, I fully expect to see an article about why the Wild Wild West is closing any day now…that’d be typical Atlantic City.
2:00PM – My wife and I make a trip to the outlet malls, which I cannot recommend more if you are doing a full weekend trip to Atlantic City, for two reasons. First, at some point in the weekend, you need to step outside the casino, if only to re-orient yourself with society. Casinos can be maddening with their pumped-in oxygen and loud noises. Whether it is a walk on the Boardwalk or through the outlets, a breather is a must.
The second reason? Treat yo self. Atlantic City is going to take your money in some form, so why not come home with something? I ended up getting a shirt for $35 off – that’s a $35 win for me! More money to gamble with!
6:00PM – We’re back at the AC Beerfest! How I missed you!
Really, there’s not much more I can say that I haven’t said before. I dressed up, grabbed as much swag as possible, and got drunk. It’s the fastest four hours of the year, which is why I am always pushing for two sessions: you simply can’t get to everything. I was still recovering from sobriety and only finished with about 25 samples this year (as opposed to last year’s 35), and there was even more I wanted to see.
10:30PM – A dinner at Gordon Ramsey’s (that I remember, unlike last year), and $5 blackjack at the Wild Wild West cap off an excellent weekend. I am able to recover a bit of my Britney losses, and wind up down $40 (or $5, if you are counting the “winnings” from my shirt). I am still as impressed as ever with the Wild Wild West’s makeover, as a live-band is playing, the beerpong tables are packed, and everyone is having a blast. It is a far cry from the chain-smoking zombies that are the hallmarks of Atlantic City casinos. There is definitely room for another Wild Wild West-esque casino in AC, and I’m hoping that’s what the Hard Rock (opening next year) can be. Usually, I like to find an “event” to go down to AC for, but with the new WWW, it’s the first time in a long time I’m itching to go to AC just to be in a casino.
So, that ends this journey: great dinners, great limos, mediocre sobriety, great savings, great gambling, and great beers. What else could you want?
Well, the Atlantic City Diaries 2.0 has gotten off to a slow start to say the least. After churning out twenty-three pulse-pounding entries from 2012 to 2015, I’ve only been to the great city of Atlantic once in 2016. But, there was a reason for this: I have moved from New York City to Central New Jersey, cutting my Atlantic City commute in half! Alas, this means a good-bye to the Greyhound Lucky Streak bus, which I have had a love-hate relationship with for years. But, hopefully this will lead to more impromptu trips, as I try to re-embrace a city that I’ve been slowly drawing away from.
And what better way to start it with than a “Weird Al” Yankovic concert!
Once again, my friend OB hooked us up with complimentary tickets to the penultimate show on Weird Al’s sprawling Mandatory Fun tour. It was my second time seeing the Weird one (the first time being after my bachelor party), while OB was popping his Al cherry. Should you be in a rush, and not wanting to finish this post, you know already know how it ends: Weird Al is amazing.
But, the first thing that stood out to me upon arrival was the crowd. The last time I saw Weird Al was at Governor’s Ball, where he was just one of dozens of acts performing that day. The crowd was enthusiastic, but they weren’t “Weird Al” people. This, however, was pure, unfiltered “Weird Al” people, seemingly pulled straight from the Atlantic City Boardwalk Convention. Spanning from about 5-years-old to 65-years-old, you had people from all walks of life, assuming that “walk of life” was generally white and overweight. Costumes were prevalent, as were the Weird Al VIPs, carrying a swagbag of goodies that I regret not being drunk enough to try to steal for myself. It would be a bit intimidating for a “normie”, but having grown up among the comic nerds, I foundmyself strangely at home. Unfortunately, this didn’t translate into a raucous concert-going experience, as the crowd would applaud loudly during the beginning and end of each new song, but mostly sat quietly throughout the song, perhaps trying to take in the showmanship of Weird Al himself.
And boy, what a showman. Weird Al began his show with “Tacky”, maneuvering through the dank, 1984-esque hallways of Caesar’s, eventually popping out within inches of where OB and I were sitting (promptly OB to shriek with childish glee “I LOVE WEIRD AL!”). Throughout the next two hours, Mr. Yankovic played all the hits (“Fat”, “Amish Paradise”, “White & Nerdy”, “Word Crimes”, etc.), but I appreciated that he included some original songs, which were sadly absent at Governor’s Ball. For example: “Wanna B Ur Lovr”, a track from the not-so-notable Poodle Hat, had the best reaction from the audience, as Weird Al grinded upon several ladies, and was able to get a laugh with nearly every line in the song.
(This is me trying to take a picture of Al’s “Wanna B Ur Lovr” performance. I am crappy at taking photos during concerts. And, yes, I’ve ranted about people who take crappy photos at concerts.)
A personal highlight for me was seeing his re-interpretation of “Eat It” into the acoustic version of “Layla”. Weird Al’s parodies are like a lot of modern art: it may seem simple, but he thought of it and you didn’t.
At this point, “Weird Al” has become such a musical icon that, even if you are not a fan, it is worth seeing. He’s been around over three decades, and his popularity only seems to be growing. While the tour may be over now, make sure to add him to your bucket list to see the next time he rolls around to your city.
Gambling Side Note: While past Atlantic City Diaries would have intricate details about how I gambled that night, I’ve decided to cut back and focus more on Atlantic City’s events, as the gambling stories can be a bit monotonous after a while. However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out a few things for posterity’s sake. First, while the KISS slot machines may be gone, OB has found a new love: the Britney Spears slot machines. I should have stuck with them, too, as they paid me the best at night. On the table games front, Caesar’s has installed many $5 digital blackjack tables, which are completely awful. While it tries to emulate the sensation of playing with a real dealer, it falls into the uncanny valley, and you can’t quite get into a true blackjack flow. I will be staying away from them in the future. However, the Wild Wild West has wonderfully brought back $5 live blackjack! I have been fighting for that since the very first AC Diary! It’s a bit of a grind playing blackjack for $5 a hand, but I played all night long and found myself down only $20 or so dollars. Unfortunately, I found out the Wild Wild West has a closing time (somewhere between 4 and 5AM), and they were quite stingy on the free drinks (which may have been why I wasn’t losing so much). But still, it is a gargantuan step in the right direction, and I look forward to spending more time at the Wild Wild West.