Feature

Slouching Towards Bethlehem: Four Meditations on the Old and New Spirits of Capitalism

David Weldzius

In Hebrew, Bethlehem means the house of bread. And what do you need to make bread? Dough. That’s what we intend to make here.1
–Sheldon Adelson

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, provides an apt case study for considering the consequences of advanced globalization on the “forgotten men and women” of the twenty-first century.2 Ruminating on The Principles of Scientific Management, a formative model for industrial productivity that Frederick Taylor developed while a consultant at Bethlehem Steel; Walker Evans’s candid depictions of Bethlehem’s white working class in the thirties, during a time of grave economic hardship; and Bill Friedman’s groundbreaking trade volume Casino Management, in which the author likens casinos to mousetraps, my words and pictures will trace a sequence of technocratic and sociopolitical developments that led Bethlehem from boom to bust, and from jackpot to privation.

I.

In April 1898, Frederick Taylor arrived in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He had been tapped by Robert Linderman, the president of the Bethlehem Steel Company, to increase worker productivity. A decade earlier, Taylor had developed a plan that he called “differential piece rate.” Under this order, workers that met certain quotas were rewarded with higher wages, while workers that failed to meet these quotas were either fired or docked in pay until improvements were made in their performance and productivity. 3

By Taylor’s estimation, laborers were inclined to “soldiering,” or under-performing on the job. The reasons for this were numerous, including intimidation by fellow workers whose job security could be jeopardized by others’ over-performance, a lack of incentives for managers to push for increased productivity, and a general agreement among bosses and workers that expedience can lead to accident, injury, or a diminished quality in output.4 In The Principles of Scientific Management, a plainly written volume that became a template for a lasting genre of literature that explicates, through page-turning anecdote, shifts in “best practices” in the interest of previously unfathomable profits, Taylor envisioned a future where safety and quality are preserved in workers’ and bosses’ mutual pursuit of greater surplus and higher wages.

Taylor devoted his first several chapters to recounting his interventions in the Bethlehem Steel Company’s oar yard. Workers there earned far less than all other workers at the plant. Their job was to lift 92-pound iron ingots from the blast furnaces and place them on railroad cars.5 Taylor’s main test subject was Henry Noll, a Pennsylvania German whom Taylor nicknamed “Schmidt.” Schmidt desired to work his hardest, but his efforts were thwarted by his foreman and coworkers. Once Schmidt saw that harder work would not result in better pay, he conceded to working at a more relaxed pace. Taylor calculated that, under the management of the time, each handler carried 12 and a half tons of ore daily. Under his leadership, he proposed that production could be increased to 45 tons. In return, Schmidt would see his wages increase precipitously.6

David Weldzius, Untitled (Parking lot, ironworks and blast furnaces, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania), October 2017. Digital scan from 4 × 5 in. negative. Courtesy of the artist.

Taylor’s records indicate that there were fewer than 10 Bethlehem employees who could sustain carrying 45 tons for longer than a few days. Nonetheless, Taylor claimed that the men who occupied this elite bracket were far happier than their counterparts: with higher wages, they could provide for their families; they arrived at their jobs with a sense of purpose and had improved relations with their bosses; and they were less prone to alcoholism.7 Taylor provided no evidence for these claims, and it is worth noting that Schmidt subsequently lost his job at Bethlehem Steel after arriving at work intoxicated.8

In picking over the labor struggles of the nineteenth century and envisioning an economic order in which ruling and working classes succeed in reaching common prosperity, Taylor could not have predicted the labor struggles that would reshape the relationships between workers and their employers in the coming century. Bethlehem, of course, was not the only industrial center where workers protested, organized, and in due time brought their bosses to the bargaining table: four years before Taylor’s arrival in Bethlehem, rail-car manufacturers had staged an aggressive strike in Pullman, Illinois. As this historical episode reveals, latent fears of socialism and anarchy, particularly in relation to an immigrant workforce that had largely been cast as antithetical to the American project, were already palpable in civic society. Taylor’s writings on Bethlehem then should perhaps be reimagined as the ruling class’s last plea for radical individuation—a final attempt at soothing the underclass not through a systematized restructuring of socioeconomic relations, but through an elusive promise of mutual benefit vis-à-vis a greater partitioning of intellectual and manual labor.

II.

Photographer Walker Evans arrived in Bethlehem in 1935. Working under the auspices of the Farm Security Administration (FSA), a federal subsidiary of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, Evans had been instructed to photograph several American communities. In just eighteen months, he constructed hundreds of exposures. Four of his photographs from Bethlehem were published in his book American Photographs (1938) and exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, in MoMA’s first exhibition concentrating on the work of a single photographer.

Walker Evans, A Graveyard and Steel Mill in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, November 1935. Gelatin silver print, 7 11⁄16 × 9 9⁄16 in. Gift of the Farm Security Administration. © 2017 Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, FSA/OWI Collection, [1998018003].

Although not included in American Photographs, Evans’s A Graveyard and a Steel Mill in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, November 1935 (1935) is one of his best-known photographs. In this image, headstones, row houses, and blast furnaces are compressed into a single frame, allowing the viewer to perceive in equal measure the sites of production, consumption, and final rest of countless steelworkers.

Evans never entered the Bethlehem Steel plant, however, or at least the Library of Congress’s dossier of 43 photographs provides no such evidence.9 The blast furnaces appear in just two of his images, and the oar yards are visible in neither. Evans’s human subjects return his gaze in exactly three exposures, two of which were selected for publication in American Photographs. Like many of the other portraits included in the book’s photo sequence, the facial expressions captured here suggest irritation at best and suspicion at worst. In fact, the reactions provoked by Evans’s camera seem to reiterate the dilemma of the New Deal project at large: principally, that Roosevelt’s “forgotten man,” a necessarily white industrial or agricultural worker who, as the FSA sought to evidence, prided himself on self-reliance, was fundamentally skeptical of the federal government’s capacity to ameliorate his hardships and equally suspicious of its motives.10

Certainly, some of the forgotten man’s suspicions were justified. In 1935, the year of Evans’s sojourn, Bethlehem Steel was experiencing record profits, with no tangible benefit to the men tasked with increasing its surplus. Despite Taylor’s directive for merit-based compensation, corporate policy kept wages unvaryingly low. It was not until 1941, after three decades spent wrangling with upper management, local police, and the National Guard, that the Bethlehem workforce would join with the United Steelworkers union in an attempt to win a greater share of profits. Their eventual victory was due in no small part to the passage of the National Labor Relations Act, a bill that Roosevelt signed into law weeks before Evans came to Bethlehem, which all but guaranteed American workers’ right to bargaining power.

Walker Evans, Sons of American Legion, 1935. Scanned nitrate film, 35mm. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, FSA/OWI Collection, [LC-DIG-fsa-8a19592].

In proto-Cold-War fashion, Roosevelt was perhaps less invested in helping white workers reach the middle class than he was fearful of their capacity to align with radical political factions.11 Nevertheless, United Steelworkers in Bethlehem would soon migrate en masse from South Bethlehem row houses, the ethnic working-class neighborhood where Evans photographed, to freestanding homes in North Bethlehem, the middle-class neighborhood where he did not. With living wages, pensions, and property, these workers were no longer underclass Italians, Hungarians, and Czechs but rather joint beneficiaries of the surplus that stemmed from their collective labor. Now un-forgotten, they became white, middle-class Americans, members of the dominant class. In a clean reversal of Frederick Taylor’s mantra, “In the past the man was first; in the future the system must be first,” the Bethlehem employee ended his shift by casting off his boots and overalls and taking a hot shower, in an area that the bosses begrudgingly dubbed the “welfare room,” before returning home for supper.

III.

The people of Bethlehem tend to agree that the first cracks appeared in 1967. Bethlehem Steel was underbid by a network of smaller steel producers to begin work on the World Trade Center towers. Domestic steel consumption peaked in 1977, and by the 1980s, a significantly higher percentage of American steel was “new,” or produced from scrap, rather than “old,” or derived from coke and oar. Today over 90 percent of new American steel is comprised exclusively of scrap.12

Bethlehem Steel filed for bankruptcy protection in October 2001. Investor Wilbur Ross, the King of Bankruptcy, a moniker he earned after helping Donald Trump restructure his debt from three insolvent casinos in Atlantic City, purchased Bethlehem’s debts and assets in 2002. Under the umbrella of the International Steel Group, Ross consolidated several bankrupt steel companies, renegotiated union contracts, and restructured debt obligations, before selling ISG at a record profit. Over the next decade, Ross would repeat this model, purchasing, consolidating, and selling off a trove of companies. He would liquidate the last of these assets in 2016 before settling into his new position as Trump’s Secretary of Commerce, in early 2017.

David Weldzius, Two-Family Houses in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (after Walker Evans), November 2016. Digital scan from 4 × 5 in. negative. Courtesy of the artist.

In late 2006, Sheldon Adelson, founder and CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, purchased the land where Bethlehem Steel once sat with the intention of building a casino resort. Adelson aspired to create a Venetian East, a companion to his resorts in Las Vegas, Singapore, and Macao. But when gondoliers with “authentic Italian accents” arrived at Bethlehem’s summer Musikfest to promote Adelson’s concept, residents were enraged, and in time the plan was revised.13 An early Sands “BethWorks” promotional brochure reads:

The historical and emotional importance of Bethlehem Steel argues against a Disney-esque interpretation. The design of the casino, hotel, and retail center combines gabled roofs, exposed steel structure, brick, and glass in ways that are compatible with the existing buildings and infuse the project with new energy and excitement now absent from the site. Coordinated dramatic lighting effects in the new building and existing ones will light the site with a glow that will recall the glowing furnaces of the plant circa-1942.14

Incidentally, the Sands Bethlehem Casino was slated to be built on the former oar yard, the very site where over a century earlier Frederick Taylor honed his theory of scientific management. The yard’s elevated track, once used to transport ore to and from the furnaces, became the scaffolding for the Sands’ commanding neon sign, a landmark that tourists must drive beneath to reach the resort’s six-level parking structure. No decorated shed, this spectacular ruin bears the weight of diametrically opposed yet entangled epochs: one where immigrants labored for a 70-cent raise in a community where, as Evans’s photograph suggests, they lived and worked until death, and one where an investment capitalist descended on a city as the lasting effects of globalization had become impossible to ignore and implemented a plan that, with the Pennsylvania Commonwealth’s enthusiastic backing, would rake in unceasing profits.15

Three aspects of the Sands Bethlehem enterprise resonate in this context: the decision to situate the casino on this parcel of land, fortuitously the site of Taylor’s canonic research; the decision to honor Bethlehem Steel’s legacy in the year 1942, a high watermark for workers’ protections and benefits; and the decision to build a structure than simulates the architecture of the Bethlehem Steel plant, rather than electing to recuperate one of the numerous existing structures.

Workers from the last shift of Bethlehem Steel’s Blast Furnace gather on the furnace’s landing as the final molten iron pours into a submarine rail car, November 18, 1995. Digital scan from 35mm negative. Courtesy of The Morning Call, Allentown, PA. Photographer unknown.

With little doubt, the Sands Bethlehem Casino, in neo-Taylorist fashion, manages its clients through an asymmetrical yet persuasive system of rewards and penalties. It honors the labor of those who built bridges and warships in the twentieth century even as it undermines the labor of those who deal blackjack in the twenty-first, and it uses fond memories of the industrial era as a buffer against lingering criticisms of the new economy.16 Of course, this strategy is not new: I can think of several destinations that exploit their former industrial function in service to conspicuous consumption.17 And why not? After the September 11 attacks, George W. Bush unwittingly drove the last nail into the old economy’s coffin by telling Americans that their patriotic duty was no longer to conserve, to volunteer, or to enlist, but to shop. The military industrial complex, which in the previous century all but determined Bethlehem’s economic solvency, no longer demanded ordinary Americans’ commitment or labor. It is then both auspicious and appropriate that, in this century, consumers regularly exercise their patriotism in the brownfields-cum-shopping-and-entertainment complexes where goods were once produced.

Yet where the raison d’être of Bethlehem’s derelict blast furnaces is to be photographed, either as a point-of-focus or as a selfie backdrop, visitors’ cameras are all but prohibited from the casino floor. Through state-of-the-art surveillance systems, the casino is photographed more diligently and with greater precision and care than almost any other corner of civic society.18 Nonetheless, there is a clear reason why workers are more often photographed as they are leaving the factory, traversing from sites of production to consumption, than they are arriving or engaging in work.19 Since its invention, the consumer-grade camera has been called on to record acts of leisure and events of personal import: in short, almost every activity outside of labor and rest. August and Louis Lumière’s film Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory in Lyon (1885), then, in addition to signaling the synchronous births of cinema and workplace surveillance, marks the commencement of the worker’s playtime: the moment when workers are permitted to begin to construct mechanical reproductions of their own surroundings. Notwithstanding the vast machinery that provides the backdrop to Walker Evans’s Bethlehem, a space opens up as workers turn away from the factory door, directing their camera lenses outward, toward the domain of consumption and leisure. It now seems certain that Sands Casino resembles a workplace more conspicuously than it does a tourist destination, while the rest of the former steel plant, now ripe for #ruinporn, resembles a tourist destination more accurately than it does a workplace.

David Weldzius, Untitled (Ore bridge, casino entrance, walking path, and blast furnaces, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania), October 2017. Digital scan from 4 × 5 in. negative. Courtesy of the artist.

Walter Benjamin wrote, “To the phantasmagoria of space, to which the flâneur was addicted, there corresponded the phantasmagoria of time to which the gambler dedicated himself. Gambling transformed time into a narcotic.”20 Benjamin’s observation appears to invert the nineteenth-century worker’s relationship to time, particularly its slow, monotonous passage, which was once principal to the worker’s estrangement from industrial production. In contrast to that outmoded principle, the gambler does not need to be managed or compelled to work more efficiently. She is at once an entrepreneur, a contractor, and a free agent. No need to punch in, the gambler is identified by facial recognition software embedded in state-of-the-art surveillance software, the sensors that read her MasterCard chip, or both. Her labor is not burdened by salary requirements, benefits, or any other contractual obligations. A ceaseless servant, she will never demand more than she is given. She will not organize, picket, or strike. The narratives that play through the gambler’s head as she is engaged in endless rounds of blackjack, poker, and baccarat are wholly incompatible with the tenets of dialectical materialism, even as, like the nineteenth-century worker, she is scarcely a beneficiary of her own labor. In truth, for this arrangement to endure, the gambler must convince herself that she has a standing chance (at last!) to partake in the surplus that she herself produces. There is nothing cruel or misguided about this arrangement because, after all, what other activities under the new system of labor and capital present an opportunity, albeit quantifiably narrow, to transcend one’s socioeconomic class?

Not coincidentally, Sheldon Adelson’s enterprises work closely with municipal and state governing bodies in perpetuating the get-rich-quick myth. The Pennsylvania Commonwealth once endeavored to provide a buffer for those steeped in economic distress but now must rely on gambling taxes to mitigate budget shortfalls.21 Indeed, the auspicious benefactors of the new economy require little more than languid approval from the masses for this arrangement to endure. In this century, many states have followed Pennsylvania’s example, passing bills and amending constitutions to favor state-regulated gambling while, in the same breath, warning their constituents that if gamblers are prohibited from wagering here, they will take their business elsewhere.

Bill Friedman, a Las Vegas entrepreneur, historian, and recovered problem gambler, is responsible for founding “casino management,” a field that seeks to maximize REVPAC (revenue per available customer) and TOD (time-on-device) via strategic management of the gaming economy’s lumpen-proletariat.22 Published in 1974, not long after Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown’s landmark Learning from Las Vegas, Friedman’s Casino Management contends that slot machines must greet gamblers at the door; ceilings must be low; lighting soft and subdued; no natural light or clocks; seating should be comfortable and inconspicuous; pedestrian flow should twist and turn like a labyrinth. Deep in Plato’s cave, the gambler should feel relaxed and focused, wholly insulated from the exterior.23 Friedman insists that all games should unfold quickly. Machine gamblers should enter into a symbiotic relationship with their devices whereby the touchscreen interface used to play poker or blackjack is as intuitive and seamless as the operating systems on the gambler’s smartphone, allowing one to reach “the zone” quickly and for prolonged time periods.24

David Weldzius, Untitled (Sand Casino interior, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania), October, 2017. iPhone photograph. Courtesy of the artist.

While borrowing freely from Friedman’s playbook, however, the Sands Bethlehem does not follow Casino Management’s spatial directives in any precise sense: the gabled roofs, which allow natural light to pour in, are elevated high above the casino’s floor. Cylindrical orange lights recall, as the brochure suggests, the metallurgic ooze of yesteryear’s slag. Like a nineteenth-century factory, the floorplan promotes easy navigation and uncomplicated survey, hardly resembling a labyrinth or cave. Instead, the Sands’s design team has reimaged the casino as an “adult playground,” tailoring its decorum to ingratiate the everyday tourist or so-called weekend gambler, while systematically ignoring the slot-and-video-poker zombies that Friedman mobilized into a dedicated workforce.25

Walter Benjamin wrote: “Lafargue defined gambling as a miniature reproduction of the mysteries of the market situation.”26 Gambling, in other words, invites the bourgeoisie to masquerade as unbridled marketeers, accruing wealth through high-risk capital gains rather than the cyclical platitudes of managerial labor, while the casino’s spatial and temporal phantasmagorias assure patrons that they too can partake in the opulence of the Old-World aristocracy (in the case of the Venetian), or the solidity of a New-World union contract (in the case of Sands Bethlehem). Abiding by these rules of engagement, however, the gambler must rely on repetitive actions that, in practice, recall the grating alienation of factory labor: spinning, rolling, pressing, pulling, turning, checking, and folding ad nauseam. Gazing up at the sky through the gabled glass ceiling, one might ask: how does the Bethlehem gambler, whose collar is likely bluer than her blood, succeed in posing as an investment broker when the reproduction that constitutes her workplace is in truth little more than a Disney-esque interpretation of a factory?

IV.

Sheldon Adelson was the largest single contributor to the presidential campaign of Donald Trump, a candidate who won the election on a promise to bring manufacturing jobs back to white working communities. With little doubt, Adelson made significant returns on his investment. During his first speech as president, Trump laid out his populist vision: “January 20th 2017 will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again. The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer. Everyone is listening now.”27 It was the first time in nearly 85 years that white Americans had been addressed this way by a major political figure.

Not coincidentally, many of the voters that comprise the president’s active base reside in the same post-industrial towns that were subject to scientific management at the turn of the century, that Walker Evans documented during the Depression, and that benefited from union protections between the Second World War and the onset of advanced globalization. Somewhere along the way, we are told, the lopsided corollaries of neoliberal policy stirred white workers to replace their construction helmets with red caps emblazoned with the slogan “Make America Great Again.” And while it is anyone’s guess just when America was great, the floor of Adelson’s casino, which indeed celebrates industrial labor “circa-1942,” deals a plausible rejoinder.

David Weldzius, A Graveyard and Steel Mill in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (after Walker Evans), November 2016. Digital scan from 4 × 5 in. negative. Courtesy of the artist.

At this writing, fourteen months after Trump’s election, it remains to be seen whether Sands Casino can deliver the free enterprise prosperity that Adelson and Trump have envisioned, or if instead the forgotten men and women of Bethlehem will feel compelled to organize against their best-laid plans. In recent history, a cruel myth that assures the citizenry that radical deregulation and deeper tax cuts will elicit a more equitable distribution of global profits has been used brilliantly by policymakers to pacify those who stand to lose the most from their deliberations. Yet, it is hard to imagine a scenario in which the pendulum does not lose its momentum and decisively swing back. To my point, the Bethlehem Sands security guards successfully organized with the Local 522 last February, making them the first and only Sands employees in the United States or Asia to enjoy union representation and collective bargaining power.28

In a poem that dutifully resurfaces when the steadfast institutions of advanced democracy are at their most vulnerable, William Butler Yeats wrote:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?29

The forgotten men and women of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the tired, the weak, the poor, and all else who seek respite from—or indeed, resistance to—capitalism’s new spirit, should heed this poet’s call.

 

David Weldzius is an artist based in Philadelphia.

Footnotes

  1. Matt Assad, “Bigger Things to Come?” Morning Call (Allentown, PA), June 10, 2009. Quoted in Chloe E. Taft, From Steel to Slots: Casino Capitalism in the Postindustrial City (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016), 12.
  2. My title alludes to the last verse of William Butler Yeats’s poem “The Second Coming” (1920), which Joan Didion alluded to in the title of her essay collection Slouching Towards Bethlehem (1968). Discerning a contemporary trend, Nick Tabor compiled a prudent inventory of homages to Yeats’s chef-d’oeuvre manifest in literature, film, television, pop music, and beyond. Since Trump’s election, a deluge of “Second Coming” extracts and citations have made their way to press. Yet Taylor’s sample range (not to mention the essay’s date of publication) suggests that common anxieties stretch back much further than November 8, 2016: “No Slouch,” Paris Review, April 7, 2015, https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2015/04/07/no-slouch/. The soon-to-be president Franklin D. Roosevelt first characterized the “forgotten man” in a 1932 radio address. Drawing comparison between volunteer soldiers who risked their lives during World War I and the “economic army” who now found themselves “at the bottom of the economic pyramid,” Roosevelt insisted that the economy must be rebuilt from the bottom up vis-à-vis federal subsidies for farmers, homeowners, and community banks.
  3. Frederick W. Taylor, “A Piece Rate System,” Transactions of the American Society of Civil Engineers, XVI (1895), 856–83.
  4. Frederick W. Taylor, The Principles of Scientific Management (New York: Harper, 1919), 13.
  5. Ibid., 42.
  6. Ibid., 42–45.
  7. In the same breath, Taylor explains that first-class workers should not receive more than a 60% increase in their wages. Overcompensated workers “will work irregularly and tend to become more or less shiftless, extravagant, and dissipated. Our experiment showed, in other words, that it does not do for most men to get rich too fast.” Ibid., 74.
  8. Daniel Nelson, “Taylorism and the Workers at Bethlehem Steel,” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 4 (October 1977), 500.
  9. Walker Evans, “Bethlehem—Pennsylvania,” Library of Congress, http://www.loc.gov/pictures/search/?q=walker+evans+bethlehem&sp=1.
  10. My thinking around Roosevelt’s “forgotten” is indebted to art historian Sally Stein, who has expertly synthesized the “forgotten” with white poverty and FSA photography in her essay “Passing Likeness: Dorothea Lange’s ‘Migrant Mother’ and the Paradox of Iconicity,” in Only Skin Deep: Changing Visions of the American Self, ed. Coco Fusco and Brian Wallis (New York: International Center of Photography, 2003), 344–55.
  11. For a meticulous investigation of New Deal-era legislation in relation to Communist fear, particularly the National Housing Act of 1934, see Dolores Hayden, The Grand Domestic Revolution: A History of Feminist Designs for American Homes, Neighborhoods and Cities (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1982).
  12. Many of my statistics on “new steel” have been gleaned from the Center for Land Use Interpretation, “Old Steel: Reading the Remains of an American Industry,” Lay of the Land Newsletter (Winter 2013), http://www.clui.org/newsletter/winter-2013/old-steel.
  13. Matt Assad, “Hotel and Casino Campaign Comes to Musikfest,” Morning Call, August 7, 2005. Quoted in Taft, From Steel to Slots, 57.
  14. Las Vegas Sands Corp., Sands Bethworks, promotional brochure (2005), 12. Quoted in Taft, From Steel to Slots, 86.
  15. In Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown, and Steven Izenour’s Learning from Las Vegas, the authors postulate that, architecturally, the casino resort is a drab industrial edifice that provides a material support for conspicuous signage—hence “decorated shed.” See Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown, and Steven Izenour, Learning from Las Vegas (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1972).
  16. Historically, Sands employees have not been successful in organizing with service unions. In 1999, Sheldon Adelson sued service workers for picketing outside of the Venetian, claiming that the sidewalk that surrounds the resort is private land. In 2002, the US Supreme Court refused to hear Adelson’s case. Nonetheless, a union was never formed. The land that constitutes the former Bethlehem Steel plant is privately owned—hence, Sands employees’ first amendment rights are not protected there.
  17. Examples of brownfield revitalization projects in the Keystone state abound. Herrs Island, Pittsburgh’s former meatpacking and livestock district, was renamed Washington’s Landing Marina in 1987 and converted into mixed-use development. A vast open-air shopping mall called The Waterfront replaced Carnegie Steel in Homestead, Pennsylvania, once Bethlehem Steel’s main competitor, in 1991. Southside Works, a mixed-use development that includes entertainment, retail, offices, and condos, replaced LTV Steel in Pittsburgh’s South Side neighborhood in 2002. For a comprehensive list of so-called “Brownfield Success Stories,” see Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection website: http://www.dep.pa.gov/Business/Land/Redevelopment/Pages/Success-Stories.aspx.
  18. To be sure, the surveillance system has been put in place to protect the casino from double-dealing, not to protect the citizenry from potential harm. Never mind the patron that enters the casino resort with an untold number of assault weapons, card-counters will be apprehended and face criminal charges.
  19. Company foremen Auguste and Louis Lumière encapsulate this consequential migration from the site of production to the site of consumption in their first motion picture, Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory in Lyon (dir. Auguste and Louis Lumière, 1885; New York: Kino International, 1997). The subject is reexamined from an intermediary’s vantage point in numerous cinematic works: Jean-Luc Godard’s and Jean-Pierre Gorin’s Pravda (1970), Allan Sekula’s Untitled Slide Sequence (1972), Krzysztof Kieślowski’s Camera Buff (1979), Harun Farocki’s Workers Leaving the Factory (1995), and Sharon Lockhart’s Exit (2008), among others. By and large, these revisions contend that the origin of cinema must be assessed in tandem with workplace surveillance, the compartmentalization of industrial labor and non-labor, and the camera’s permission and/or restriction on the factory floor in strict alignment with socioeconomic class.
  20. Walter Benjamin, “Paris, the Capital of the Nineteenth Century,” The Arcades Project (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999), 12.
  21. Marc Levy, “Pennsylvania OKs Betting Online, in Airports, at Truck Stops,” Washington Post, October 30, 2017. Among the 50 states, Pennsylvania ranks second to Nevada in gambling profits. In October 2017, Pennsylvania’s Democratic governor, Tom Wolf, signed a comprehensive bill into law expanding online gambling and lottery services and clearing the way for video poker and slot machines to reach airports and truck stops. Incapable of raising taxes with a Republican-led congress, Wolf regularly relies on casino, lottery, and state liquor sales to circumvent acute deficit margins.
  22. Bill Friedman, Casino Management (New York: Lyle Stuart, 1974).
  23. Ibid. While Venturi and Scott Brown focus on urban planning and the casino’s exterior and context (façades, signage, strip malls, parking lots, throughways, and freeways), Friedman trains his focus almost exclusively on the casino’s interior. I could not confirm whether Venturi’s and Scott Brown’s research informed Friedman’s casino management doctrine. However, this trajectory, from one case study to the next, is rather serendipitous: while written with incongruent aims and for disparate readerships, the former volume seems to clear a discursive space for the latter volume to be articulated and received.
  24. Much of my research into casino management comes from secondary sources, in particular Natasha Dow Schüll, Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas (Princeton, NJ; Princeton University Press, 2012).
  25. Gambling researcher Karen Finlay has likened twenty-first century casinos to “playgrounds for adults.” See Finlay, interviewed in Jonah Lehrer, “Royal Flush: How Roger Thomas redesigned Vegas,” The New Yorker, March 26, 2012.
  26. Benjamin, “Paris, the Capital of the Nineteenth Century,” 2. Incidentally, Benjamin was writing of Paul Lafargue, Marx’s son-in-law (1842–1911).
  27. Donald Trump, “The Inaugural Address,” White House, January 20, 2017, https://www.whitehouse.gov/inaugural-address.
  28. Matt Assad, “Sands Casino Guards Make Union History,” Morning Call (Allentown, PA), February 23, 2017.
  29. William Butler Yeats, “The Second Coming,” The Dial (November 1920).
Further Reading