There are 2 casinos on Indian land in this part of Connecticut: the Mohegan Sun, run by the Mohegans, and Foxwoods, run by Mashantucket Pequots.
I’ve never been to Foxwoods, but the Mohegan Sun is an enormous, massive, rambling compound. It has a huge arena with big-name shows, it’s where the Connecticut Sun WNBA plays, it’s got the Wolf Den, a much smaller, free venue for less-huge music shows, 8 million restaurants, oh, and I guess, a bunch of casinos.
This was my fourth time there. The first time was years and years ago – before we started traveling. Bill and I came up to New London for Thanksgiving, and we went up to the casino for a couple of hours
About 5 years ago – not long after the kidney transplant – we were back in the area for a while, Bill was working nights at a bookstore, and I took myself to the Wolf Den to see The Mavericks, with Raul Malo, the world’s sexiest fat man.
A couple of years ago Bill and I went back to the Wolf Den to see Del Castillo, a Latin/Flamenco band from Austin with a couple of brothers with lightening-fast fingers on the guitar.
And last night, we went back again, to see Girls Guns and Glory.
The casino is a strange, strange place. First of all, smoking is allowed. I guess there are smoke-free parts of the casino, but the Wolf Den is not in that part. It’s bizarre – it seems impossible that smoking was ever allowed in bars, never mind for the person sitting next to you at the bar. You can drink for free you’re gambling, apparently, but it’s hard to pretend you’re gambling when you’re there to watch a show. But, man, the peeps are there gambling. Slot machines no longer have handles, and they no longer use money. You just put a card in, and hit a button over and over. And over and over. Who am I to judge slot machine players? I mean, what do I care? But it’s astounding to watch someone stare at that godawful machine, a few feet in front of her face, all night long. The machines are so ugly. At least at blackjack tables, there’s human interaction.
And there’s human interaction at the Wolf Den. We saw a great show. The guys are adorable, they were high-energy and rocking and played ‘til 11, their tunes are awesome, they did a Tom Petty cover better than Tom Petty ever sang it, and not only is Ward Hayden adorable and a sweetheart, but he’s got a voice that makes you absolutely swoon. The guy’s awesome. And they’re playing in New London again next Friday.
We had to put up with the smoke, the hugely annoying couple practicing their line-dance moves, completely ignorant of the uniqueness of the band, and the expensive drinks, but we saw a great free show, yakked with the boys, saw some friends, and, best of all, got to watch Mistah dance with Preston Franz.
If only I had my camera . . .