Monday, October 03, 2005

Las Vegas- City of Wonders, of Despair

In a few days the wife and I and a number of friends are going to pack into some cars and tread across a barren and lifeless desert towards the shining oasis of Las Vegas. Located in the state of Nevada, it might as well be on Venus for it's remoteness from any other place on Earth.

I take it back. 90% of Las Vegas is like most of America; poor sections, wealthy sections and a grocery store every couple of blocks. It's the side of Las Vegas that isn't featured in movies, and really who can blame them? Mrs. Johnson taking the bus to the shopping mall lacks a certain panache.

The remaining part of Vegas is the part that grew where Willy Wonka's brain leaked out when he was bludgeoned to death by gang members (Note to Kids: Stay away from the Willy Wonka sequel). It's the celebration of excess, in any form you can imagine, from public drinking to games of chance; the promise of lust is everywhere, even on the streets where poorly-paid immigrants pass out booklets full of different escorts. On the occassions that I went where I was young enough to not be able to gamble but old enough to wander away for a while, I took great delight in taking those sinful ads with their barely-obscured girls advertised.

And yet, if there is a Hell, it probably resembled Las Vegas. Until the city was built, Hell probably had some interesting tortures like being crushed under rocks and being pitchforked in the ass while waiting in a long line. Then Las Vegas was built, and Satan took some pointers.

For all of it's promise of cheap food and alcohol, sex, glamour and, of course, riches, Vegas is a sham. Yes, gluttony is possible at the all-you-can-eat buffets, but they are either expensive or terrible, and generally both. There's only so much quality that something heated in a steam tray can have. Similarly, alcohol is free-flowing: The fact that one can carry around a 64oz margarita in a collectable Urkel head cup while carousing down the gridlocked strip lends itself to that truth. And yet you still wind up paying for it, either directly or by pretending to play the nickel slot in front of you until some absurdly-clad waitress named "Midge" deigns to come by with her disinterested "Drinks?" call.

You can pay for sex in Nevada. That fact is not a terrible idea- in fact, my own belief is that if we got more lonely guys laid, we would have far fewer serial killers. I'm sure there are all kinds of studies supporting the idea. Outside of town there's actual whorehouses: for some reason I feel like I would have to pack my Stetson and six-shooter going to one of those places- possibly only to blast off the venerial disease. You can also get incall service, if you're too lazy to leave the room. In a way, we can consider ourselves an advanced society when you can get women by delivery; on the other hand, get your ass off of the bed and go meet a real woman. Of course, if your tastes don't run that way, you can probably find men, transsexuals, midgets, carnival workers, amputees or some combination thereof. Once, when I was there, a nightclub had "service industry" night- that's right, cheap booze for hookers.

Of course, everyone goes to Vegas to gamble. In a way, it's the stupidest thing you could possibly do; you know that their entire economy is based off of your moronic ass putting your loose change into their flashing machines. So that's why we invariably do it. Of course, you could win. But the reality is that you'll drop $150 in 15 minutes. They're very good at taking your money. It's not your fault, they've had decades of practice. You can even walk up to a nickel machine and think, "I will be able to play this all night". Then you learn that you can bet up to 5 nickels at a time, and in order to get all of the possible payout vectors (horizontal, diagonal and some that exist in an alternate universe), you need to pay an additional 9 nickels. So with every push of the button, you're dropping $2, and your plan is shot to hell. Well done, they win again, and are probably watching you pull out your hair in a security camera while twirling their moustaches and adjusting their black capes and top hats.

My favorite aspect of Vegas is that some of the places try so very hard to distinguish themselves as classy establishments. Others build casinos that resemble medieval castles. The former is worse, because no matter how nice you think things are in your casino, you still have hundreds of clinking loud whirring machines with flashing displays. At least the castle guys appreciate the inherent cheesiness of the situation, and even celebrate it. Bobby Joe from Iowa probably can appreciate the fact that your fancy hotel has a botanical garden, but he's still heading to go play "Slots-o-fun" in his Big Dog t-shirt and shorts. It's a tacky town covered in too much brass and ugly faux-oriental carpeting. And it's wonderful, if it appreciates that, or if it doesn't.

So why go to this town, where dreams are broken every day? Where those who can afford to gamble are given perks while the rest of us are ignored? Where you can lose a full paycheck in moments through a hand of cards or toss of die?

Because it is unique; and even if the casinos themselves don't appreciate it, it's a place that inhabits the side of our personalities that relinquishes all grip of reality. People do things here that would make them pariahs at home, and with such gusto that it's infectious. It's a place that celebrates humanity as the animal- full of vice, disdainful of responsibility, always seeking the next thrill without regard for the future.

And I have the best strategy for blackjack that I got off the Internet...


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At 3:46 AM, Blogger ChickyBabe said...

One of my friends is over there at the moment, and loving it! Have a wonderful time :).

At 8:00 AM, Blogger alena said...

Hey, I have enjoyed...your blog is informative - even entertaining.

I have a halloween sites. They pretty much covers costumes and masks related stuff.

Thanks again and I'll be sure to bookmark you.

At 7:46 PM, Blogger Knows It All said...

Umm...., you have obviously never been to Phoenix, where it is all Vegas heat and desert, but no Strip. Hell on Earth, without a doubt.

Not everyone goes to Vegas to gamble. I never do. I go to dress like a tramp, which I could never do in my hometown, eat a million calories, drink gallons of liquor, act a fool and throw up. That's my Vegas agenda 90 percent of the time. Oh, and make fun of tourists with fanny packs. They are still everywhere in Vegas!

Enjoy it. If you get bored, you should observe the taxi line at any casino hotel between 7 - 11 a.m., You will see many chics dressed like hos from the night before taking hte walk of shame from their last-night hook-ups. Thats' good fun.

At 8:55 AM, Blogger Mahd said...

ChickyBabe, I intend to. And perhaps this time I can coax the wife up to the top of the faux Eiffel Tower.

Knows it All, It takes guts to wear a fanny pack these days. And I have been to Phoenix, in my younger days. I remember clearly that everyone smoked there, which was odd considering how goddamned hot it was.

At 11:11 PM, Blogger sheriff of nothing said...

OoO Vegas. I can now say I do not get why ANYONE would go back for more?!?

Surely once in a lifetime is enough!


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