Oh, Happy Days (Or, Mummer's the Word)

Thanks to the snow, what was going to be a nice leisurely two-day, two-concert trip to Atlantic City for my mom and me turned into me (Mom, having the wisdom of age, bailed on the trip) getting up at 6 a.m. on Saturday morning to catch a bus from the Port Authority and getting back to my apartment at 4:30 a.m. Sunday morning. Here's a rundown from the run-down:

*My attempts to unload my extra ticket to the Mummers' Show of Shows at Boardwalk Hall hit a snag when I took stock of the people walking up to the box office and thought, "Do I really want to spend the next three hours sitting next to someone who has plans to see the Mummers alone?" And then I realized that I had plans to see the Mummers alone. So the question became, "Do I want to sit next to me for three hours?" And that was a resounding no. So I ate the price of that ticket.

*I dug the Mummers, but the biggest thrill of Saturday afternoon was seeing my favorite dancer in the world taking up residence on the boardwalk. In case you need a reminder, here it is:

I hadn't seen him the last few times I was in AC, and I certainly wasn't expecting to see him on a February afternoon. But there he was, a little more bundled up and wearing a backpack, which limited the dance moves some. He's also got new glasses, and perhaps some gender-identity issues, because his nails were painted pink.

I honestly could have sat and watched him all afternoon. Unfortunately, I had $25 worth of slot play to burn at Tropicana.

*In the golden days of Atlantic City bus travel, some of the casinos would just give you cash when you got off the bus. You'd hand them your casino voucher, and they'd give you a $20 bill. Sadly, those days are gone. Now, all the casinos give you slot play, which means you have to sign up for a casino card, which will have $25 on it that you can waste, er, spend on the slots. So, I went to the Tropicana (where I actually had an account from a trip nine years ago to Polkapalooza, lovingly documented in the cult classic, Critical, But Stable), got my new card, and headed to the first machine that caught my eye when I came into the casino--the 1-cent Happy Days machine.

About 15 minutes later, and while sitting next to a guy who was repeatedly hitting his Happy Days machine and calling Fonzie a cheeseball, I walked away with a voucher for $66.80. Ayyyyyyyyyyyyy!

That is now my biggest casino win of all time, shattering the $14 I won playing War in Las Vegas.

*After that big win and my subsequent attendance at a mass presided over by a Filipino priest who seemed to wish he was a Baptist preacher, I decided it was light enough out to take the ultimate gamble, walking through the streets of Atlantic City to get to Harrah's to see the Levon Helm Band. It was a nice day for a walk, and I was feeling lucky. I figured out a relatively well-traveled route and made it to Harrah's about three hours before showtime without being raped, beaten, or killed. I was on a roll!

*The walk was uneventful, and certainly nowhere near as bone-chillingly frightening as the Ed Hardy-sporting, heavily tanned denizens of Harrah's biding their time until The Pool at Harrah's opened up for the night. While eating my chicken cheese steak across from the line that was forming to get into The Pool, I was reminded of (a) why I didn't care for high school that much and (b) why watching "Jersey Shore" is a lot more fun than feeling like you're in the middle of a taping of it.

*I had no luck unloading my Levon ticket, but my Happy Days windfall took some of the sting out of that. Again, the problem of unloading a single ticket in Atlantic City popped up, but in this case, anybody who wanted a single ticket was probably able to get a comped one from the casino, so even unloading my ticket at a deep discount wasn't likely to fly.

The show was good (Levon's voice sounds stronger each time I see him, though he's still only singing a few songs), though slightly marred by the aforementioned comped attendees walking out five or six songs into the show. Maybe they thought The Pool would be more fun.

*I was the lone passenger when the Academy bus left Trump Marina (my vote for the scariest casino in Atlantic City), but we picked up a bunch more passengers at Trump Plaza. We pulled into NYC at right around 3 a.m. and I was safe at home by 4:30. Another full day in the life of Tinsel and Rot.

Here are some Mummers photos for you:

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