As news hit the business sector Tuesday, investors were baffled to find that Cannatown Casino is officially out of money, however, pit managers are reportedly handing out colored Monopoly bills and hand-written IOU’s in some areas. Dispatches sat down with former Operations Manager Franklin Starbud to discuss the casino’s sudden downturn, which threatens to permanently destroy one of the town's oldest icons. 

Was the Casino unable to attract enough business to continue operation? What ultimately caused it to run out of cash?
It’d be easy to just pick a thing out of the blue and say, that cost really sunk the ship, which is what the critics try to do. It’d be easy. Maybe it was the endless free buffets full of steak and crab and s’mores, or the free concerts booking all of the top acts, or maybe it was the endless string of vacation giveaways to Monaco, or the gold-plated mini-golf course on the rooftop deck of the six-star rooftop restaurant, or maybe it was the botanical gardens on top of the other rooftop deck, or the go-go dancers swimming in bathtubs of south Caspian caviar reimported from Moldova. Or maybe it was the lavish foam parties with DJs and huge expansive 3D screen displays, or the artificial beach and snow machines and giant animatronic T-Rex racing, maybe it was the “Everybody Wins” slots and military-grade robot butt-wipers for high-rollers (using only the finest hand-woven silk toilet paper); maybe it was installation of signature diamond-studded bongs stationed throughout the Mountain Dew Fountain "City" and its sister, the ride down Code Red River, or drone-army delivery of Chicago-style pan pizzas straight from the Windy City itself. But who could really say?
   “Also, much of our initial capital investment went into those sumo-wrestler fat suits that people spar in. We must have ordered about a million of them, for some reason I can’t remember, and nowadays they’re just sitting out in the middle of the desert.

So the accumulation of these drastic frivolties finally brought down the system?
Kind of, but we look at it a different way. When we looked at all those major expenses, we realized we just didn't have enough to cover the relatively minimal expense of employee healthcare, which was on the docket, but it was already too late.

So you had already spent the healthcare money? 
No, we just thought about it. The employees wanted it. And that was bad enough for us to say, let's just let this thing die instead. 

Why not take just a little bit of money from those mega-rich people?
We really wanted them to stay here, even if they were getting everything for free. Sure, we probably could have taken more of their money like the casino used to, but we just didn't want to do it (and half of us were contractually obligated to not take a freakin' dime). So instead we all said, let's go bankrupt instead. And the rest is history. Or will be soon. Oh well. We had some good times. Well, the rich had some good times.

Isn't this just terrible management?
The only explanation I can give is that we decision makers were high off our gourds. There's no other logical explanation.

What’s next for you?
I’ve been thinking about politics.  

Pictured above: Decades ago the casino flourished thanks to revenues from big spenders--including the affluent pachyderms that roamed among the craps tables.

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Back in June I had the pleasure of experiencing a concert at the famed Red Rocks Amphitheatre for the first time. I'd been to the venue before but never seen a show. Upon exiting, I said I would see anyone there, the beauty of it all only matched by the pristine sound. While much of that was expected, the opening act was the real shocker. Heading in, I knew nothing of Neal Francis. By the time he was done, I couldn't wait to dive into his catalog. And then...I was underwhelmed. His studio output lacked the energy, and at least half the performers, of what transpired on that Morrison stage. Yet on his first live release, Francis Comes Alive, the keyboardist makes the songs sparkle, no doubt thanks in part to the horn section, helping him more fully display the capabilities of his prowess. The Chicagoland native with a hardon for New Orleans piano-based R&B grooves, finally, Francis truly comes alive on this one.

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