Live After Death in Vegas Seven

I’ve got the cover story in this week’s Vegas Seven. It’s a piece that I worked on a quite a while under the astute editorial eye of Greg Blake Miller, in which I come to grips with why people come to Vegas to see dead people:

The Mob Museum’s Feb. 14 debut was another reminder of Las Vegas’ longstanding penchant—one might even call it a skill—for raising the dead and recycling the past. People used to joke that Vegas was where show business careers went to die, though just as often it’s been the place where, having died, they rise again in tribute shows and improbable cults of personality. Sometimes it feels as if the Rat Pack really is back. In a way, there’s not much separating the stage icons who have returned from the dead to entertain Las Vegas audiences from the rubbed-out wiseguys whose careers the Mob Museum chronicles. Both return from a troubled reality to fulfill our longing for—or at least fascination with—a burnished past. Michael Jackson might not have had a made man’s swagger, and Bugsy Siegel surely never moon-walked, but the two have this in common: They’re worth more to Las Vegas dead than alive

via Live After Death | Vegas Seven.

I haven’t gotten the chance to do much of this kind of writing before. Don’t get me wrong, I like the more straight-forward “telling people’s stories” material I usually do, but I wanted to try something more ambitious where I got to use some of my more academic analytic sensibilities but for a broader audience.

A few things inspired me to write this piece: the macabre attractions at Luxor, which got me thinking about Iron Maiden’s Live After Death; the Michael Jackson billboard, which reminded me of Live After Death’s cover; Elvis impersonators; the fizzling of “Viva Elvis;” and the obsession with mobsters.

It’s fun to be able to bounce from H. P. Lovecraft to mobsters to Frank Sinatra to Michael Jackson and back again, and close with a reference to It’s a Wonderful Life. And that’s just the first paragraph. I also got to make an Anthrax reference, probably my first in print, and even worked Bob Stupak into the mix along the way.

Hopefully this gets a good reception and I get to do more of it in the future. Thanks for reading it.

One Response to 'Live After Death in Vegas Seven'

  1. Very well written and thorough article Dr. Schwartz. I recently read a very good book called “Retromania” by Simon Reynolds. The book is about music and pop culture’s addiction to its own past.

    Here is a passage from the book: Nostalgia is now thoroughly entwined with the consumer entertainment complex: we feel pangs for the products of yesteryear, the novelties and distractions that filled up our youth.
    Eclipsing individual pursuits (like hobbies) or participatory local activities (like amateur sports), the mass media and pop culture take up an ever-increasing proportion of our mental lives. Which is why those “I Love the 70′s/80′s/etc.” TV shows on VH1 are so effective: the passage of our time has been indexed to the procession of rapidly obsolescing fads, fashions, celebrity careers et al.