after the vast, desolate majesty of joshua tree, the mojave, and death valley, las vegas’ skyline looks ridiculous; a few brightly colored buildings, garish and ostentatious, scattered like lego blocks on the dusty floor of eternity. as we approached the strip, following a series of 5-lane roads that divided one desperate condo development from another — new lower price! affordable luxury! free flatscreen televisions! — i kept thinking, that’s las vegas? in the media mythos, las vegas is singular, gigantic, overwhelming; not so much a city as another dimension where the normal rules do not apply and where anything can happen. sin city. land of legalized prostitution. what happens in vegas stays in vegas. hunter s. thompson. mike tyson. tupac shakur.
but the reality of las vegas — at least my reality of it — is much sadder, more desperate. it is a place in which distraction and disorientation rule the day; the ultimate in learned passivity. blinded by sequins, deafened by the sound of silver, and numbed by too much food alcohol, the tourists of the world lie back, close their third eyes, and let this place suck them dry. it is everything that distracts our attention from our true priorities, our higher objectives. it is the set of america’s biggest reality television show and everyone gets to play the spoiled little bitch or the self-obsessed asshole. here, human beings reduce themselves to caricature and enact the most powerful and superficial priorities our culture has to offer: love of money, worship of sexualized youth, profligacy, alcoholism, and 16 oz. prime ribs for $7.99.
even worse, las vegas is tedious beyond measure. the endless barrage of entertainment inspires only boredom. the attempts to arouse and excite us leave us feeling apathetic and unsatisfied. whatever momentary hilarity or transient thrill we experienced seemed to dissapate all too quickly, leaving a thwarted feeling of anticipation. was that it?
tim made an evening out of trying to find people who looked happy in vegas. the city supplied him an endless, neon-lit conga line of drunk; happiness, however was in much shorter supply. the image that has stayed with me far longer, and far more vividly, than any of the luxurious appointments of the bellagio or the golden nugget, is this: a group of 6 young women with identically made up faces and fancy dresses shrieking drunken inanities in the hallway of an anonymous casino. the fun and adventure that the evening had promised had so far eluded them and their earlier enthusiasm and hunger had given way to bitterness and entropy. drunken and insecure and lonely, they trudged along towards “somewhere else”; a place with better music and hotter guys and cheaper drinks. in their hands, they carried improbable shoes, all sharp points, wire-thin straps and credit card debt. the soles of their feet were stained black from wading through the bile of the city, but they did not care. they had spent hundreds of dollars on this weekend, dammit, and they were going to have fun or they were going to die trying.
Posted by Wordmobi