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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

By Amy S. Rosenberg, The Philadelphia Inquirer

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — In the end, the Revel ball did not roll off the tower into the ocean, and no buyer emerged in the middle of the night to save the day.

Instead, Revel merely unraveled through the night to an anticlimactic pre-dawn closing of its moribund casino floor. Employees of Ivan Kane’s Jelly Roll Burlesque Club held a stubbornly spirited after party as remaining on-duty dealers watched from emptying tables, waiting to inventory final stacks of chips.

One supervisor put fingers to his own head like a gun and rolled his eyes. An off-duty employee walked around barefoot. A bartender went in for a long private apology to a burlesque dancer.
By 3 a.m. the mood as the casino threw in its $2.4 billion towel dissolved into a boozy revelry of futility. Like the value of the casino itself, bartenders hawked bottles of booze for pennies on the dollar.

“It’s a sad and bittersweet thing,” said one bartender on her way out for good.

The hotel portion had shut down Monday morning.

It was the back end of a one-two Labor Day weekend punch of casino closings in Atlantic City — the beloved and familiar as family Showboat on Sunday afternoon, the steely and oblivious as a bad boyfriend Revel at 6 a.m Tuesday. The closings left some serious bruising.

“It was just a debacle from day one,” said Cesare DeLeo, sitting out on the Boardwalk with a group of fellow bartenders during a fire alarm evacuation of the place around 1 a.m. that everyone took in stride, like it had happened many times before.

The group stared up at the already-shuttered 57-story tower looming before them, and the closed Showboat barely visible in the 1 a.m. darkness.

Some wondered if the pulled fire alarm might end it all right there prematurely, in a typically underperforming kind of Revel way. But no, they were summoned back inside, if only for the final four hours.

And so the darkest hour was indeed just before the dawn Tuesday as Revel painfully and maybe even pathetically closed its doors not long before the sun rose out over an indifferent Atlantic Ocean.

“I have a feeling we’ll be back,” said bartender Sven Stevenson, 25, who presided over the after-hours party at the bar of Ivan Kane’s Jelly Roll, just to one side of the casino floor. At first drinks were $5; by 3:45, bottles were being sold for a few dollars. Remaining patrons walked around with several bottles on each arm.

At La Dolce Vita, a third party restaurant, an employee cleaning up said the company’s three restaurants were not packing up. They are counting on reopening under new owners, he said.

Dancer Donna Yana, originally from Russia, danced on the Jelly Roll bar and catwalks off the casino floor, and others took their turns posing with her. She has a new job at Providence at Tropicana. “I just love this place,” she said, of Revel. Like many, she hopes she will return.

“It’s been a roller coaster ride,” said Katrina Wilson, a table game supervisor who left Showboat to work at Revel. She chatted with two colleagues from Showboat, who had just arrived from a party held at the Steel Pier for them. None had new jobs as yet.

Gamblers stayed at a dwindling number of table games and slots throughout the last hours, with no apparent good or terrible fortune accruing to them or the casino. “I’m putting $10 here, $10 there, all my favorite machines,” said Doug Linton, who said he was a Black Card holder. Retired nurse Bernadette Steuver, gambled away $500 in a slot machine. “I donated to the cause,” she said. Paul Skladany won $2,000 at blackjack and quit, as he had boasted to friends he would.

Revel’s HQ Beach Club, like a perfectly fine sear around an undercooked piece of steak, ran out the clock on Labor Day with an appearance by DJ Steve Aoki, which lasted after the hotel itself shut down around check out time, 11 a.m. Employees, wearing #HQStrong t-shirts, walked out later arm in arm, some dancing through the casino floor.

Perhaps it was fitting that the casino floor was left as the afterthought to the death of Revel. The casino was from the start described as incidental to the overall business plan of Revel, whose management conceived the enormous structure as a high end, edgy, fast-track resort first, and a casino second.

Revel’s bust was marked by other ironies throughout the weekend. The Hooters gave a weakish ukelele version of Atlantic City during Revel’s final weekend, offering up the closest thing to hope in the worn Springsteen line “everything that dies some day comes back.”

A lady who got famous trying to bring gondolas to Atlantic City in 2009 was back on the Boardwalk insisting she had offered $50 million to Revel’s owners to keep it open.

And the steel letters of Revel on the Boardwalk facade — no such lettering ever appeared on the tower, as if the place was too cool to identify itself to the masses — were pried off the tiles of the facade, first apparently by souvenir hunters, then not long after by Revel employees.

Out on the casino floor, the lyrics of Heart underscored the feeling of puzzling futility many customers and employees felt at the closing of this brand new resort. “Try, try, try to understand.” At least during these hours, when what felt like a perfectly nice resort sputtered to oblivion, as dedicated custodians swept and polished and hauled away trash, it seemed pointless.

Photo via WikiCommons

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President Trump and former Vice President Biden at first 2020 presidential debate

Screenshot from C-Span YouTube

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

Donald Trump is claiming that he will still debate despite the rule change that will cut off the candidates' microphones while their opponent delivers his initial two-minute response to each of the debate's topics. But everything else Trump and his campaign are saying sounds like they're laying the groundwork to back out.

"I will participate," Trump told reporters Monday night. "But it's very unfair that they changed the topics and it's very unfair that again we have an anchor who's totally biased." At his Arizona rally Monday, Trump attacked moderator Kristen Welker as a "radical Democrat" and claimed she had "deleted her entire account," which is false. Trump's campaign manager, Bill Stepien, went further in his whining about the debate.

Stepien touted a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates as "Our letter to the BDC (Biden Debate Commission)." That letter came before the CPD announced that it would mute microphones for portions of the debate in response to Trump's constant interruptions at the first debate, though Stepien knew such a decision was likely coming, writing, "It is our understanding from media reports that you will soon be holding an internal meeting to discuss other possible rule changes, such as granting an unnamed person the ability to shut off a candidate's microphone. It is completely unacceptable for anyone to wield such power, and a decision to proceed with that change amounts to turning further editorial control of the debate over to the Commission which has already demonstrated its partiality to Biden."

Shooooot, here I thought it was generous to Trump that the microphones will only be cut to give each candidate two uninterrupted minutes, leaving Trump the remainder of each 15-minute debate segment to interrupt.

But what did Stepien mean by "other possible rule changes," you ask? What was the first rule change? Well, it wasn't one. Stepien wrote to strongly complain that "We write with great concern over the announced topics for what was always billed as the 'Foreign Policy Debate' in the series of events agreed to by both the Trump campaign and the Biden campaign many months ago." Welker's announced topics include "Fighting COVID-19, American families, Race in America, Climate Change, National Security, and Leadership," Stepien complained, using this as a launching pad to attack Biden on foreign policy.

Except this debate was never billed as a foreign policy debate. It's true that in past years, the third debate has sometimes focused on foreign policy, but here in 2020, the CPD's original announcement of debate formats and moderators said of the third debate, "The format for the debate will be identical to the first presidential debate," and the first debate "will be divided into six segments of approximately 15 minutes each on major topics to be selected by the moderator."

So even before the CPD finalized the decision to prevent Trump from interrupting for two minutes in each of six segments, so 12 minutes out of a 90-minute debate, Team Trump was falsely complaining that the debate was rigged. No wonder—as a Biden campaign spokesman noted, the Trump campaign is upset "because Donald Trump is afraid to face more questions about his disastrous Covid response."

Trump has lost one debate and backed out of one debate. If he goes into this one with the attitude he's showing now—attacking the moderator, attacking the topics, enraged that he can't interrupt for two entire minutes at a time—he's going to lose this one, badly, once again hurting his already weak reelection prospects. So which will it be? Back out and have that be the story, or alienate one of the largest audiences of the entire presidential campaign by showing what kind of person he is?