Friday, December 08, 2006

The Seminoles rock

The Seminole Tribe of Florida is buying the Hard Rock Cafe -- all 124 restaurants, plus the Hard Rock hotels, casinos and concert venues, and the world's largest collection of rock 'n' roll memorabila.

I'm impressed. I might even be willing to eat at the Hard Rock Cafe now. Anything Native Americans come up with to take white people's money, I support.

The Associated Press reminds me that the Seminole Tribe was the first tribe to get into the gambling industry, back when I was in high school, with a single bingo hall in Hollywood, Fla. Florida tried to shut 'em down, but Florida learned, not for the first time, that the Seminoles don't take any mess. All the other federally recognized tribes followed suit, and that's why, today, little old ladies all over America can look forward to boarding the tour bus each Saturday morning and playing the slots all day.

Here's my only Hard Rock Cafe story. Back in the 1980s, I went to Washington, D.C., as a chaperone for a vanload of high-school students from Greensboro, N.C., all members of the local Journalism Explorer Post. Beforehand, I made a list of every possible tourist attraction in D.C., and asked everyone to vote on what they most wanted to see in our nation's capital. The overwhelming winner, more popular even than that perennial write-in favorite, "the hookers," was the site of the future Hard Rock Cafe. It was, at the time, a big hole in the ground full of construction equipment, but the savvy owners had rented a narrow storefront next door and already had the shelves stocked with "Hard Rock Cafe Washington DC" merchandise. The line when we arrived, I am not kidding, was the longest tourist line we saw in Washington that spring; hundreds of tourists, mostly teenagers, were lined up in an orderly queue that stretched for blocks, just to buy a Hard Rock Cafe T-shirt. That was the '80s. Dang, I sound like a VH1 special.

1 comment:

Jason Erik Lundberg said...

I was also caught up in the whole Hard Rock furor of the 80s and early 90s. It almost got to be like collecting baseball cards or comics among my friends: "You went to the one in Florida? Cool!" "Aw, man, everyone's got the New York one." "Dude, how did you get one from Bangkok?!"

I went on a marching band trip to Florida when I was in high school, and not only did we stand in line for over an hour just to get into the restaurant, we stood in line for another hour just to get our t-shirts. I think I had five of them at one point; I know that some lucky customers of Goodwill have them now.