Leaving Las Vegas

MGM GrandI didn't realize that I had an affinity for Vegas. It's the go-to spot in Pop Culture. I used to watch Robert Ulrich in Vega$ (it was so cool for him to drive into his living room-- on purpose). Ocean's Eleven was an awesome movie (both versions for different reasons). Honeymoon in Vegas made me believe that I could watch a Nicholas Cage romantic comedy. Leaving Las Vegas was a romantic tragedy (also with Nicolas Cage). I used to like to play the Leaving Las Vegas drinking game (when he takes a drink, you take a drink). Then came CSI. Week after week, the team go into poorly lit rooms, spray luminol and make wise cracks. I would watch in squinty fascination.
Wifey and I were going to go to Vegas for our 10th Anniversary. Then computers broke her ankle (did I mention I hate computers?) and that largely helped to screw that trip. After our house deal and a long string of trip cancellations, we pressed ahead and booked a trip to Vegas. I came to realization that I envied people going there, but I actually had a confused wish to go there myself. By the time we got to it, I realized that there was little that I wanted to see in Las Vegas. Then the next day, we left.
Flying used to be the domain of the jetsetters. Now it's an airborne cattle car. We flew down via WestJet-- which was miserable. Worse than that: they were average-- all of the air carriers have taken a deregulated race for the bottom of the heap. As a corpulent man, it was an ordeal that took more Zen calm than what Peter Weller had to muster in his Robo-Cop outfit. I fly great, but I'm an elitist when it comes to flying: on about 50% of all of my flights I've ridden in the co-pilot seat and kibitzed with the pilot. That's how it's supposed to be-- for me. About 20 minutes before landing, three cougars across the aisle lowering their dining trays, put out their tackle boxes full of make-up. They put on their war paint, preparing to spring into action as soon as the hatch opened.
Robert Ulrich really did a number on me. I had this notion that the Vegas Strip was maybe four lanes (two up, two down)-- like Robson or Yonge Street. It's an eight-lane highway! It's like perching hotels and liquored goons on the Surrey stretch of the Trans-Canada highway. We got to our hotel room at the MGM Grand, settled in and then went into the hotel to explore. The gaming tables were obscured by the smoke and the bimbo-himbo parades. I was amazed at all of the disheveled dudes who were trying to look cool and hook some chick in a short skirt. The crowds were peppered with scrubby people in t-shirts and track pants who looked like they either didn't have cash or enough of a map left to get all the way to Disneyland. The slots were peopled with veterans of the machines; a mangy lot, armed with smokes and a drink. I spied the tally on some of the machines, one of them had 5632 "tokens"-- aka $1408-- and their tally was dropping fast. "What did you do in Vegas?" "I spent two months rent while sitting in front of a computer" The slots have a variety of themes and gimmicks. The real deal: bet some money, line up the tumblers, win cash. Instead of just that simplicity, these are dressed up with elaborate themes. It's like the plumber in the porn movie-- who cares how they're dressed, let's just get busy putting something in the slot.
Friday was monorail day ("monorail"). He hopped the monorail, we rode up to the Hilton. The MASSIVE Hilton sign stood there with a 30 foot tall "Star Trek Experience" sign mocking me. We walked to Circus Circus. A huckster tried to talk us into a big timeshare scam called Tahiti Village. Sorry-- Victoria is playground of Ian Thow and all of his ilk. We can be scammed just fine at home. We didn't come here for the scam, we just came to lose at slots. We wound our way through the maze-like route to the Adventure Dome. Kiddo enjoyed herself until she urged me to ride on this big swining boat ride. That was a massive swing that kicked and pumped 100 feet either way. It was fun and terrifying. It ruined the poor kid. She tried one more ride-- the 4D experience (the 4th D is water spray and bubbles) and she was TOTALLY done (see right).
We headed back towards the Sahara in search of new sights and another monorail ("monorail") station. We knew we were at the end of the strip as there were fewer people and more of them looked homeless and scrubby. He hopped the monorail ("monorail") and went back to the Shops at the Forum. This is a fabulous indoor mall. Once you are into the bowels of the malls there is no sign of outdoor light. This perpetuated the concept of being in everlasting 7PM-- dark, post-work but early enough to start partying. It's like that 24 hours a day. There was very cool things at the Forum, but it was painfully upscale. We spent a large share of our time in the FAO Schwartz. I saw Pete Rose at a sports shop, signing autographs. Maybe Pete Rose likes Vegas for some reason.
IMG_3095Laden with goodies and fatigued, we headed back to the hotel via the monorail ("monorail"). I procured some tremendous icy drinks. People were just walking around liquored all the time with these massive margaritas or daiquiris. Dean Martin is the patron saint of Vegas.
On the Saturday, we went out to one of the Outlet malls. The scale was down to earth and that was a welcome relief. I bought some awesome shoes to counter-act my blisters (imagine studding a baseball bat with razor blades; then getting whacked with the bat in the soles of the feet. That was me for the latter 70% of the trip).
We came back to the hotel and jettisoned our purchases. We then headed up to the Miracle Mile. It was less pauncy than the Forum-- it had an Urban Outfitters where we got some great vinyl blanks for eventual experiments (combining my new airbrush and my need to do something non computer). We decided to walk back down the Strip.
After two days of cabbing and using the monorail ("monorail"), we were overdue for some time with the commoners. Saturday night, in Winter, during a recession and the street was PACKED at 6PM. What the Hell!?! This perpetual party means that the street is in a state of hangover-- with garbage, bottles strewn everywhere cemented with vintages of vomit.
We stopped for dinner at the Outback. I always travel poorly, so I was in my late trip fasting (as opposed to my mid-trip fasting; and my pre-trip fasting), so I picked through an awesome meal, there. We continued our journey to New York New York. I'm surprised New Yorker haven't torched the place. It's New York at 1/4" scale with all of the cheese still intact. We went through Excalibur (LARPers beware!) with the destination of the Luxor. It was cool how much they could do to turn Egyptian architecture into parking space and gambling areas. Because the hotel rooms are accessible from these walkways inside of the pyramids, it means that these are many floors of balconies looking out into the open space. While we waited in line for tickets to the Titanic exhibit, kiddo noticed something was dripping onto the carpet in front of her. Above, there were floors and floors of opportunities for drunken morons to spit and chunder to the gaming floor below.
On Sunday, we dashed through for the airport. We went through the TSA gaunlet. Man, are they the stupidest collection of people I have ever seen. They are clear evidence that 9/11 was an inside job. There is absolutely no way that these lumpen creatures are preventing agents of terror from getting through. They stopped Wifey because of her purse/bag/thing. They took it to one side because they couldn't x-ray through. They opened it up and there was kiddo's juice box making an x-ray shadow. She said, "Oh, you can throw that out. Then it should be okay." So the TSA dimwit, discarded the juice box and handed over the bag; no re-x-raying, no search of what could been hidden behind the juice box's shadow.
We climbed on board the jet. We waited quite a long time for take-off, but well short of those legendary 6 hour waits that I have heard of. The plane just sat there whining and chugging through fuel. Around me, the grizzled Vegas veterans compared this trip to their other trips to Vegas. I looked around at the passengers. In a room with over 100 people, it's common for me to see someone I know or at someone who I recognize. In this plane full, there was no one I even vaguely recognized. I know why: these are the invisible people. They are the people who I try not to notice because they are so alien to me. They're the Vegas types. I am not one of them.


Cheryl said…
Oh, sure. If you had told them to take out the juice box, you'd have made some comment of your using the Jedi Mind Trick on the simple agent... (Actually that whole security checkpoint was really frustrating.)

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