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NFL Says No To Charity Poker Game for Players

The National Football League must have something against charity. On Saturday afternoon about 25 players turned up for the Starkey Hearing Foundation’s big poker for charity blitz at the Golden Nuggest Casino in Las Vegas. Big name celebrities like Steve Martin–who flew himself in and paid all his expenses– as well as Starkey stalwards like the original “Incredible Hulk” Lou Ferrigno and “Soul Man” Sam Moore–pitched in as well.

The NFL players were supposed to be scattered around the room at their own tables. All the money raised went to Starkey, the fantastic Minneapolis based foundation that brings hearing aids for free to childen and adults around the world. But then NFL got wind of what was happening, they issued an edict right away that the players were not allowed to participate. They could just watch. And they did–cheering on the event.

The Starkey event– called Raise Your Hand for Africa— brought a little buzz to Vegas this past weekend, and much needed. The once sizzling Sin City has really been hit by the recession. Even with new hotels like behemoth (and sort of soulless) Aria and Cosmpolitan, the town felt lacking for a focus. It didn’t help that there were no big entertainers showcased anywhere for Presidents Day weekend–Wayne Newtown, Siegfried and Roy, Celine Dion, where are you?

I went back to see the Beatles “Love” show at the Mirage for the fourth time. It is still magnificent. What a triumph for Cirque du Soleil, George and Giles Martin, and George Harrison (it was his idea).  And this show was totally sold out Why not? For “Within You, Without You” from “Sgt. Pepper,” a gigantic white sheet unfurls over the audience to make an enormous cloud. Extreme skateboarders make “Help!” a spine tingling celebration. When “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” dances, the room dazzles. I still think this is the main reason to do a Vegas weekend.

But the Chamber of Commerce has to do something about this once great town. All the stores in all the hotels are the same–it’s just like a big repetitive mall. Everywhere you go it’s Chanel, Gucci, Prada. Las Vegas has lost its identity to corporate cold. And these stores are empty. The whole place is like a museum of shopping, Look, but you can’t possibly afford anything. That’s got to change if the town wants to come back.