Here for a medical education conference. First time in Vegas in five years or so.
Heading towards baggage claim in McCarron Airport, you are confronted with immense twin posters of a coltish-looking Bette Midler, and a seductive Cher ("The Goddess Returns"). Both appearing at the Coliseum, whatever that is. Uh. Vegas is for old people. Both of these two are are in their 60s. Shouldn't they be doing PBS specials or something? I can't imagine anyone who can't remember the Kennedy inauguration being interested in them.
The old people must be in bed. Or at least they were at one in the morning, when I went on my prowl up and down the Strip. Only young people about. English is the second language around here. I heard it spoken frequently. The Strip is almost unnavigable. It's under heavy reconstruction, concrete barriers everywhere, most of its lanes cut off. Looks like the Green Zone. My airport shuttle got stuck in a traffic jam at midnight. Midnight! God only knows what it's like during the day, but I suppose I'll find out.
You know, despite Vegas's attempts to crank up the feeling of risk and edge, there's something intensely bourgeois about it. Maybe it's all the casino hotels imitating stuff we already know about, and don't find threatening. New York. Egypt. Rome. Paris. I'm staying at the Paris Las Vegas, which is surmounted by a reconstruction of the Eiffel Tower. The ceiling of the big box casino floor is a trompe l'oeil blue sky with fluffy clouds. Not bad. But where are the guillotines? Where are the dour Existentialists? Where are the banlieus, illuminated by burning cars? Las Vegas, you're all about breasts and craps tables, but where's the *real* edginess, huh?
What, gambling? No, I haven't been gambling. Gambling's about losing money, right? Why would I want to do that? I find the whole gambling thing incomprehensible.