Did you see what else happened on Thursday?

Published 7:01 pm Monday, August 6, 2007

By Staff
Ironically, Aug. 2 while the Dowagiac-based Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians opened Michigan's 18th tribal-run Four Winds Casino Resort near New Buffalo, up in Mount Pleasant Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort announced a future expansion to dwarf the current size of its facility, already one of the largest casinos in the eastern United States.
Coincidence? I think not.
The account in the Mount Pleasant Morning Sun even referenced New Buffalo, where the 2,400 employees trump the town's 2,200 population, but said, "Four Winds isn't seen as a major competitor to the Soaring Eagle – it's nearly 200 miles away."
These expensive complexes take seriously their claims of being "the premiere Midwest tourist destination."
It's a phrase I heard countless times during my morning tour in New Buffalo with General Manager Matt Harkness and popped up in the statement issued by Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribal Chief Fred Cantu.
His tribe announced plans to build three additional hotel/casino buildings, a theme park, a water park, an outdoor recreation complex, a fishing pond, a waterfall, rapids, trails, a bicycle motocross hill, a skylift, a retail complex and even an indoor ski area, like the oil moguls ostentatiously erect in Mideast deserts.
Did I mention the Chippewas bought the Holiday Inn in my old college town last month?
I knew how much the flat mountain city had changed the first time I heard the casino there employs more than Central Michigan University.
The curious thing about the timing of this "vision" is that it's not clear when it might be built, it just seemed important on the day Four Winds opened to get that information out there.
The centerpiece of the outdoor recreation center will be a man-made mountain, so now my "I climbed Mt. Pleasant" bumper sticker won't be as funny. Guests would ride a sky lift to the mountaintop, also featuring the waterfall and whitewater course feeding a fishing pond.
There would be a jazz club to go along with the revamped casino and additional hotel targeted for the site occupied by Soaring Eagle Slot Palace.
To tie all the elements of this increasingly far-flung empire together, a nine-stop mass transit system – possibly a monorail or people mover.
There will be a theme park with a giant Ferris wheel and, on Broadway, a recreational vehicle park, for "family-friendly components."
West of the existing casino, a water park, bowling lanes and movie theater.
North of the theme park, the ski lodge and skating.
On Pickard Road, a shopping mall. The tribe let it be known it is particularly interested in motor sports and water sports retailers.
Four Winds plays up its size as second-largest compared to Las Vegas casinos – perhaps because the Soaring Eagle claims ranking as No. 1 in amount of Michigan gaming space, tribal or commercial.
With the competitive gaming industry mature and high gas prices putting pressure even on casino revenue, diversification into entertainment makes sense for the future.
Soaring Eagle finds itself competing with Detroit, Lansing and Grand Rapids for convention business.
Obits: Weekly World News, 28. In a world where tabloid king Rupert Murdoch can take over the Wall Street Journal and we get a higher quality of fake news from "The Daily Show" and the Onion, even the paper of record for Elvis sightings and space aliens couldn't survive. It lost half its circulation between 2004 and 2006. Now we'll never know about al-Qaeda plots to hijack Santa's sleigh until it's too late.
Tom Snyder, 71, from leukemia. The NBC late-night talk show pioneer, parodied so deftly by Dan Aykroyd on "Saturday Night Live," aired the last televised interview with John Lennon in April 1975 and the first U.S. TV appearance of U2 in 1981. "Tomorrow," following Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show," beget David Letterman and Conan O'Brien.
"Hey There Delilah" by the Plain White T's is a catchy little crush ditty and simple, just singer Tom Higgenson with an acoustic guitar. Did you know the object of his longing is a real person? An Olympic steeplechase aspirant, no less.
Quips, quotes and qulunkers: "On a floodlit Indonesian soccer field 5,000 miles from home, an Iraqi Sunni scored a goal off a looping pass from an Iraqi Kurd, sending an Iraqi Shiite – the team's goalkeeper, himself a game-saving hero – into wild shrieks of joy. In a storybook conclusion to a remarkable run, Iraq's 1-0 upset of Saudi Arabia gave the Lions of Mesopotamia their first-ever Asian Cup championship and unleased a spasm of Iraqi nationalism."
– Grant Wahl
in Sports Illustrated, Aug. 6
"Ethanol doesn't burn cleaner than gasoline, nor is it cheaper. Our current ethanol production represents only 3.5 percent of our gasoline consumption – yet it consumes 20 percent of the entire U.S. corn crop … The most seductive myth about ethanol is that it will free us from our dependence on foreign oil. But even if ethanol producers manage to hit the mandate of 36 billion gallons of ethanol by 2022, that will replace a paltry 1.5 million barrels of oil a day – only 7 percent of current oil needs. Even if the entire U.S. corn crop were used to make ethanol, the fuel would replace only 12 percent of current gasoline use … But the biggest problem with ethanol is that it steals vast swaths of land that might be better used for growing food."
– Jeff Goodell, "The Ethanol Scam," Aug. 9 Rolling Stone
"This is as close as we've ever come to a dictatorship."
– U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, who says Congress should consider impeachment hearings
"He was so inept and so inartful."