Casinos offer various incentives to entice their best customers, the high rollers, to return on a frequent basis. Among those incentives are complimentary tickets to concert events, usually featuring musical acts a decade or two past their peak of success.
From the musician's perspective, however, a gig is a gig. It pays the bills, even if it is in effect shilling for the gaming industry. And let's face it: Music and vice go well together. Observe any location where people are drinking and smoking, dancing and carousing, and you will find music as well; gambling is just another vice that goes well with music.
So last night, I saw a postcard ad sent out by the Seminole Hard Rock Cafe and Casino, only instead of featuring comp tickets for an oldies musical act, it was for an oldies political act: Mikhail Gorbachev, the former President of the Soviet Union , who will be there on April 16th to "speak about his years in office, his contribution to the end of the Cold War and his observations about current international affairs," as the ad put it.
I had to chuckle at that. Not to be disrespectful to Mr. Gorbachev, but his "contribution to the end of the Cold War" was comparable to Bill Buckner's "contribution to the end of the 1986 World Series." Gorbachev was the guy who let the ball go through his legs as the other team won the game.
I thought about it a bit, and wondered briefly whether he had fallen on hard times. Speaking to a group of people who probably can barely tear their attention away from the cards and the slot machines to listen to him can't be very gratifying. But an honorarium is an honorarium, I guess.
I think that Gorbachev has to be one of the world's more fortunate former political leaders, since most of the time when a tyrannical regime falls, the leaders either end up being imprisoned, executed or having to flee into exile. He does seem to be doing well at this capitalism thing, however. As the old saying goes, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.