Sun, 17 November 2013
EPISODE 129- Grandissimo: The First Emperor of Las Vegas: How Jay Sarno Inspired Modern Las Vegas by David G. Schwartz
I first got interested in gambling as a kid growing up in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in the 1970s. Some of my earliest memories are of the classic hotels of the city being imploded to make way for modern casinos with hotel towers that had none of the charm of the original. Despite this early evidence of that, perhaps, history might not have the strongest hold over people, I decided to major in it as an undergrad, along with anthropology. When it came time to go to grad school, I chose history over anthropology, though I can't recall as I'm writing this exactly why I made that decision. In grad school I was preparing myself for a career as a college history professor when a small exercise called the dissertation stepped in my way. I would have to choose something to write a book-length historical study on, and it had to be something that would contribute in some way to the literature. That's when I remembered the questions I'd had about casinos as a kid: Why did they need to blow up those beautiful old buildings to build new ones that didn't look nearly as nice? If they just wanted to gamble, why didn't they just let people gamble wherever they wanted? With a few questions like that, I was on my way to writing a dissertation that got me researching casinos. From there, I haven't looked back, except for the year that I spent after I got my degree working in casino surveillance in Atlantic City's Trump Taj Mahal casino. I'd worked at the Taj earlier in security,and spending some time in surveillance gave me an appreciation for just how complex casinos are, and it kindled an interest in a whole other set of questions. Since arriving at UNLV back in 2001, I've been running the Center for Gaming Research, which has let me look at some very interesting areas of gambling and Las Vegas history. My website has a ton of info about my writing, professional, and creative work. So feel free to check it out at www.dgschwartz.com.