Laurens Tan

A Distance between Hope and Reality.

Charlie seems to have settled on a good way to be a thousand kilometres from the boredom of his own realities. Most players found his willing ear a comfort, and over any hand the conversation would usually be a weave of jokes and anecdotes, to veil over their personal regrets. The game seems to extract parallels in life. The players often called him ‘Papa’ Charlie, and over more than a decade they’ve followed him around the properties.

Charlie has been a writer for as long as he cares to remember and taught English part-time at the Sierra Delta Community College when he can get the work.

But he’d always been a dealer. His shifts would usually start at midnight and he got his inspiration from the evening’s banter. He’d work at one property until it ‘ran out of steam’, to return six months or so later.

His favourite in town would probably be Victor’s Bar, an out-of-the-way spot just across the creek from the heart of the Delta. The regulars there were mostly locals from the northwestern suburbs, retirees from the teaching fraternity, would-be literati’s and people who were still passionate about spending time behind a PC or typewriter, and like Charlie, did not give a Zulu about whether their work would make the Oscars or best sellers lists.

Romeo’s Surf and Turf was a small but classy Italian diner not far, which after a risky, big budget make-over by part-owner Mike Lima, grew into a serious business almost overnight. Now called The Palm’s Whiskey Tango, last year it ranked as a top twenty earner in the city.

Only five years ago, Mike came to town as a bookkeeper from Quebec to co-manage the then struggling diner. At that time Mike, also a part-time writer asked his old school-buddy Charlie if he’d go in with him. Charlie thought about it but felt it wasn’t a good bet. Now it’s one of his own stories over the tables.

Charlie will be at Juliette Rodriguez’s Yankee Foxtrot this summer doing his thing. The latest downtown upgrade is part of the restored India Palace Hotel which has more than a passing corporate resemblance to the recently closed Rancho Echo Golf Club, where Charlie often dealt until very recently. The Middle Eastern décor and the waitresses’ provocatively embroidered uniforms, even the prominent mysterious fragrance in the Rancho Echo’s opulent Central Dome indicates a signature management style at the new India.

Rancho Echo Golf Club was closed down for unauthorised gross and excessive water waste. The new Digital Gaming Corporation’s (DGC) Alpha Bet City is to take over the property to operate starting next November. The corporation is the latest US-China partnership in a slow-to-recover industrial infrastructure in this city. Rancho Echo’s greens will revert to its desert state and will be used as testing ground for the new generation Electric X-rays, very cool and hi-power sporty compacts that are a welcome relief to DGC after almost a decade of collaborative research with China’s BYD (Bravo for Your Dreams), longtime manufacturers of the rechargeable battery. The pioneering DGC made its early fortunes from Smartphone technologies and will now stage its new auto-technology as entertainment for players.

Bio ~ Laurens Tan.

Born in Den Haag, Holland, my great grandparents had migrated from Fujian, China in the 1880’s. After living in Europe, Indonesia and Singapore, I was 12 when my family migrated to Melbourne, Australia. ‘Living out of a suitcase’ during my childhood may explain my nomadic tendencies.

In June, I will be celebrating my 10th anniversary of living and working in Beijing, where I now spend most of my time, when not traveling or returning to Sydney.

Apart from Sydney and Beijing, my ‘other home’ has been Las Vegas, where I spent biennial pilgrimages since 1995 and which was the primary research site for ‘The Architecture of Risk,’ my doctorate thesis title (Communication & Media, University of Technology Sydney 2006). Much of what I learnt from Las Vegas still informs my attitude to risk and to risk-taking.