They echoed in my head this morning, the words of Swamp Rabbit as he confronted me at my shotgun shack in the Tinicum swamp: “What’s your plan, Odd Man?”
The pesky little rodent mocks me because I tend to bitch about being broke. He tries to provoke me into jumping off the porch into the swamp to try to wring his scrawny neck. His other favorite question is, “If you’re so smart, Odd Man, how come you ain’t rich?”
He still jokes about my recent trip to Atlantic City, where I tried to get work with the beach patrol, making sure women’s bathing skirt hems were no more than four inches above their knees. (Atlantic City is trying to become more of a family resort, or so I have read.)
The women kicked sand in my face when I tried to grab hold of their legs, so I took a walk to see if Revel was hiring. Revel, you might recall, is the $2.4 billion, 47-floor casino-hotel that was going to transform A.C. from a blue-collar gambling town into a chic destination for vacationers who enjoy lunch prepared by Michelin chefs, a dip in the rooftop pool overlooking the ocean, and a few hands of baccarat before the full-body massage. And God help any troglodyte who tried to smoke a cigarette in this upscale consumers’ paradise.
But Revel wasn’t hiring. In fact, it was trying to bounce back from bankruptcy by pulling a one-eighty. Its fate will hinge on whether it can re-invent itself as a hangout for hardcore low-level gamblers (slots players, ugh) rather than a haven for would-be sophisticates. As for the smoking ban — would you like a fresh ash tray with your cigarette, ma’am?
Swamp Rabbit got a few laughs out of Revel’s new incarnation, especially when I told him it had secured $350 million in “exit financing” when it emerged from bankruptcy. He said, “If the guys who run this place are so dumb, how come they ain’t busted?”
Which happens to be the question of the decade, one that reporters never get around to asking about the thieves who still run the economy-killing Wall Street banks that survived only because of government bailouts.
Footnote: Revel’s main financial backer used to be Morgan Stanley, which received a $107.3 bailout from the Fed after the economy tanked in 2008.
One more: A recent newspaper story headlined “Revel sued by gamblers who felt cheated by casino’s ‘You Can’t Lose’ campaign,” provides more evidence that the people who run Revel, and Atlantic City, are dumber than swamp rabbits.