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Paradise Misplaced
About This Exhibit

   
    Xanadu

What is the true purpose of  Paradise Misplaced?  Is it a front for a sinister conspiracy?  A call to arms?  A subtle critique of today's Strip?  It is actually none of these things,  but they sound pretentiously grandiose.  

So what is the real ghost behind this machine?  To learn the "real story" behind this website, read on.

Archiving a non-existent past...

Preserving an accurate record of the world is challenging.  Indeed, any good historical account is dependent upon its source material.  When that past never really existed, the task is all the more difficult.  When the Xanadu was still a possibility, it was, in a sense, "real."  The Xanadu Corporation was an actual business entity and the studies and plans that they commissioned were inarguably tangible.  But for the mere accident of its non-existence, the Xanadu would occupy a place in the historical record among other now-gone Strip casinos: the original (and copycat) El Rancho, the Last Frontier (and New Frontier), the Sands, the Dunes, the Castaways, ad infinitum.  

It is an oft-repeated truism that the winners write history.  This is rarely true in the literal sense, that victorious entities engage in an Orwellian doctoring of the past, but it is true that historians are drawn, by and large, to successful things, even successful failures.  People and thing who fail unobtrusively are, for the most part, ignored.

Not considering failures skews history.  Because most attention is given to successful casinos (in the instance of gaming history), most people think that all casinos are inherently easy to run.  Only by considering the casinos that did not make it can historians truly appreciate those that did.  Paradise Misplaced can be considered an attempt to reclaim history for the downwardly mobile. 

Paradise Misplaced is the end product of PROJECT XANADU, a detailed research expedition into the history of failed developments on the Las Vegas Strip.

But seriously...

Within the archives of Special Collections are several treasures that are worthy of greater attention.  For example, given the copious amount of material in the Sands Collection, it would be possible to virtually recreate the old Vegas Sands.  

The Las Vegas Strip has been since its inception in the late 1940s notorious for devouring its own past.  It almost goes without saying that once a casino outlives its usefulness it will be imploded and replaced.  There is nothing wrong with this in the business sense, but people develop emotional attachments to casinos as sites for their personal social dramas.  

Once, all that could be done was to bemoan the bulldozer march of progress and look at old postcards.  Now, with the advent of new technology, the demolished past need not be forgotten. Paradise Misplaced points to the future of the past--not a mummified past bound in acid-free wrappings and sealed in a vault, but a past that is as living as the future.

Paradise Misplaced is the creation of Dr. David G. Schwartz, the Director of the Center for Gaming Research. You can read more about his other creative projects, which include books, articles, and other fascinating projects, on his website, DieIsCast.com.

Schwartz consistently denies reports that he has formed a consortium to acquire land on the Strip and build the Xanadu.  But he has been spotted in conference with several gaming consultants and financiers, however, and is occasionally seen gazing speculatively at the Strip from his office window.  As he sometimes says, the truth is usually stupider than fiction.


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Last modified Wednesday, 02-Dec-2009 10:33:56 PST