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Tilting at Windmills

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January 18, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

LAS VEGAS....Chris Hayes on the city that's home to 19 of the world's 20 biggest hotels:

This is my second time in Vegas and for whatever reasons, the place has a strong effect on me. There's something powerful about it, depressing at some times, sure, but also just irreducibly human and, also, American in the best and worst sense. I'll have some more substantive thoughts tomorrow....

You can tell a lot about a person by their reaction to Las Vegas. At least, it seems like you should be able to, though I'm not quite sure how to map it. Any ideas?

Speaking for myself, I can't stand the place. Big surprise, huh? It's as artificial as Branson, Missouri, but bigger, seedier, more self-delusive, more dehumanizing, and just plain creepier. I always figured Stephen King was right to make it the center of all evil in The Stand.

On the other hand, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is about the funniest book I've ever read. So at least we've gotten something good out of the place.

Kevin Drum 2:41 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (103)

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About 25 years ago my parents retired to Vegas and for several years, while they were living there, I was more or less obligated to visit them on an annual basis. At the time I was studying anthropology, both undergrad and grad student, and I found that by approaching Vegas as field research it wasn't half bad. Lots of interesting rituals and behaviours to observe.

Posted by: majun on January 18, 2008 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

Even HST would not recognize Vegas now.

Posted by: MDK on January 18, 2008 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

I never liked clocks...

Posted by: john stephen lewis on January 18, 2008 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

'Human' is just about the last word I would use for Vegas. That said, I've never been there, so I could well be missing something.

Posted by: Tom Hilton on January 18, 2008 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

We were just outside of Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the drugs began to take hold.

Posted by: MDK on January 18, 2008 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Last summer, I was on vacation with my family and we spend one night in Vegas. As a fairly young and fairly debauched male, Las Veags is presented as some sort of Mecca for all my hedonistic longings, but even then, it falls short. The place reeks of desperation and loneliness, covering for it with nonstop lights and noises. Outside of our hotel, once every hour or so an unashamedly garrish "Tribute to America" type video package was broadcast on the video screen covering the street. I was really dissapointed that it was not ironic. There were also advertisements that I could watch some strangers get married, but it never seemed to occur.

The food is generally terrible, too.

Posted by: New Talking Wall on January 18, 2008 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Las Vegas is a bi-polar city, much like NYC and SF and LA and whatever town comes to mind. What you say is somewhat, but not entirely true of The Strip, the section that the city plays up to attract those who don't think Branson is a more plastic version of DisneyLand/World.

Break away and travel a couple of miles West of The Strip or four miles East and visit a city like any other messed up suburban/urban/exurban metropolis. Come see the other side of LV that houses the "real people" who are the invisible members of this town. Tourists see them but never "see" them. They are more interested in seeing the other visitors, celebrities who come and go as fast as the "regular guy" tourists. Not as fast as politicians, but pretty quick.
TomByrd
Recent addition to Las Vegas (from San Diego)

Posted by: TomByrd on January 18, 2008 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

I've been to Vegas once, for a wedding (I hesitate to admit I know people who would go to Vegas to get married, to say nothing of knowing them well enough to go to that wedding), and found it just odd in so many ways. Clearly America, but different from every other place in America, and not in the good ways that New Orleans, New York, and San Francisco are different. More like an alternate reality. The slot machines in the airport are a good introduction to the notion that things are different there.

Posted by: mrgumby2u on January 18, 2008 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Just returned form a 2 day visit to Las Vegas.

Can't stand the place. Too crowded, too expensive, airport is a pain in the ass, flight is a pain in the ass. And for what? To piss away some money gambling?

Though I will admit some of the best girl watching anywhere.

Posted by: jharp on January 18, 2008 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

The Race and Sports Book at Caesar's is my home away from home.

Posted by: charles pierce on January 18, 2008 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

My husband and I flew in and out of Vegas on a trip to the national parks, and stopped in a casino before heading home. In the ladies' room I saw a woman and a little girl, and the girl kept saying, "I want to hear the bell again!" referring to the slot machines. A nascent gambling addict at, like, age 5. I'm pretty sure she wasn't even supposed to be in the place, but nobody seemed to care. Never have I been so happy to get on a crowded plane!! Once we blew past the slot machines in the airport, that is...

Posted by: sullijan on January 18, 2008 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

HST's descriptions of Vegas are still very relevant. Instead of bored and frustrated middle aged couples looking for an excuse to act debauched for weekend (of which there are still plenty to be found in Vegas), we have bored and boring frat boys that think getting drunk and thorwing up in a casino is some sort of counter-cultural rite of passage. Vegas still makes a buck while making you believe that you've lived a dangerous and exciting life.

Posted by: New Talking Wall on January 18, 2008 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

The Strip is great for 48 hours, but then it just seems alarming.

Posted by: Lucy on January 18, 2008 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

Is any state defined more by its legislative choices than Nevada? I don't have any sense of the character of the place except that it's where gambling and prostitution are legal.

Amsterdam and Singapore are the only other places I can think of where the character of the people is defined by what laws are on the books.

Posted by: Grumpy on January 18, 2008 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

I've been to Vegas once, for a wedding (I hesitate to admit I know people who would go to Vegas to get married, to say nothing of knowing them well enough to go to that wedding),

Was that my wedding? Admittedly, we did ours in Vegas rather than elope (we had both had young, stupid, but traditional marriages prior) or just visit a Justice of the Peace.

We chose Vegas because it's relatively cheap to fly to (making it easier for anyone who wanted to attend), it was a semi-decent honeymoon spot for that time of year, and if you chose the right hotels and such the food can be quiet good.

We got married at the Paris, spent four nights there, ate some quite good food and gambled very little. We saw a few shows. About 30 people decided to come out and everyone had a pretty good time, as far as I could tell.

I wouldn't want to live there, however. And I've found I prefer cruises more (I don't gamble on cruises at all) -- the better cruises have better food and even less or an urge to "do something". I like being lazy. :)

Posted by: Morat20 on January 18, 2008 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

Too expensive, somebody said? Come on, the main reason for going is it's about the cheapest vacation imaginable, if you take 10 minutes to look for a deal.

I'm wondering about the other top-20 hotel. Could it be that thing in Pyonyang? Does that count?

Posted by: godoggo on January 18, 2008 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

If you want to experience Las Vegas do so soon, because when the water is all gone in the not-too-distant future, Las Vegas will cease to exist except as uninhabitable ruins.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 18, 2008 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

The Simpson's provided the best comparison of Vegas and Branson when Bart said of the latter:

"My dad says it’s like Vegas — if it were run by Ned Flanders."

Posted by: bdg on January 18, 2008 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

I think reaction to Vegas is as good as the Myers-Briggs personality test that was all the rage a few years ago. Like Vegas? Extravert! Hate it? Introvert!

I can take about 10 minutes in a casino, then I have a near panic attack. Fear and loathing about describes my reaction.

I love that book also. Still have my paperback from the 80's. Actually, I enjoy most Vegas-based movies. I can enjoy those in a quiet place.

Posted by: Dawn on January 18, 2008 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

I go there for work. It is an odd place. They want you to think it is this debauched and depraved hedonistic place and it is really very tame. Someone above hit the nail - they want you to think while you were there you were really living on the edge but in actuality you were safer than a baby in a crib.

Regards.

Posted by: luko on January 18, 2008 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

You have to get away from The Strip to find the real city, a city like most other mid-sized American ones.

There are a lot of great shows to see if you are not a gambler.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on January 18, 2008 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

The food is generally terrible, too.

This is not true at the higher levels, is it? I've never been there, but I read that the best restaurants go there or are cloned there, which makes great business sense.

Posted by: Bob M on January 18, 2008 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

I got married there, on my first trip! My uber-capitalist Cuban spouse was dying to see Vegas, and I figured why not? So we got married in the chapel where Angelina Jolie and Judy Garland and all kinds of oft-married people were joined in temporary marital bliss. So far our own union is 10 months old, so I think we've already beat those particular odds....

My other thought is that Vegas is hugely over-rated in almost every respect--and I like a little light gambling. Horse racing is more fun. But I did like the Bellagio. The indoor gardens were beautiful. If I could have edited out all the loud people who were there, it would have been very pleasant.

Oh, and by the third day even my beloved Cuban had overdosed on all the pseudo-glitz.

Posted by: Winslow on January 18, 2008 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

I'm partial to Reno myself. Something about it is isn't quite as shiny. Feels more seedy. I like seedy. I'm quite fine with it. Reno still feels like an old West Town with absolutely gigantic casinos crammed into a standard street grid. I like that tension between order and chaos. Vegas just feels too much like suburbia if suburbia had no cultural systems to constrain it.

Posted by: Inaudible Nonsense on January 18, 2008 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

Y'know, we've got to cool it with these three-letter abbreviations.

I was wondering for a bit what the hell Harry S Truman had to do with Las Vegas.

Posted by: Ben on January 18, 2008 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

What's not to love about an all-you-can-eat buffet and a chance to go whoring with lithe male or female revue artistes?

I generally despise gambling (except for the Powerball), but don't go hating on Las Vegas. There should be times and places where anything goes--Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Carnival in Rio, Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

But what's disgusting is allowing gambling everywhere, including indian casinos. Gambling truly is an irredeemably evil thing because of the harm it does to so many people. And when indian reservations sell out to it, they sell out on their right to exist--there's no longer a base for the remains of indian culture, just a legal loop-hole with fake indians (say, pretty much anyone claiming to be a native american in Connecticut).

Posted by: Anon on January 18, 2008 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

The sight of a 344-pound police chief from Waco, Texas, necking openly with his 290-pound wife (or whatever woman he had with him) when the lights were turned off for a Dope Film was just barely tolerable on mescaline-which is mainly sensual/surface drug that exaggerates reality, instead of altering it—but with head full of acid, the sight of two fantastically obese human beings far gone in a public grope while a thousand cops all around them watched a movie about of the “dangers of marijuana” would not be emotionally acceptable.

Posted by: More HST on January 18, 2008 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

I insult the "spirit" of Las Vegas when I go there every year for work.

I dont gamble one !@#!@# cent, and every evening after work and dinner I go directly to my hotel room, get in bed and listen to NPR (the local affiliate here provides excellent local coverage of the city's growth and business issues). Last year my hotel room had a crappy radio that wouldnt pick up the NPR signal. I took great pleasure in calling down to the front desk at 4 am to demand a bellboy bring me one right away that would!

Another thing I do to mitigate my disdain for Vegas is to carry a wad of $1 and $5 bills to tip the hotel and other service workers. The person who cleans my room (lord knows what personality types and slobs these people have to put up with) gets an automatic $20, placed on my pillow after the first night.

Vegas is also interesting for the people who have come there to find work. Every time you get in a cab, your driver might have come here from Vietnam, Sudan, Ethiopia, Montenegro, Latvia, et cetera. Just taking the time to ask them what country theyre from helps you make some human contact in this pretty inhuman environment.

For the past several years, Ive also taken a desert road trip before heading back to Chicago. You can drive the backroads of the Mojave National Preserve, which begins just over the Cal/Nevada border. Take water and have a full tank of gas; there is nothing but spectacular desert scenery between Nipton Station and Twenty-Nine Palms, CA---and more interesting and beautiful than anything you'll see on the Strip.


Posted by: billyjoe on January 18, 2008 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

Harry S. hated Vegas.
That's where his buck stopped.

Posted by: apeman on January 18, 2008 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

Vegas holds limited appeal to me, but if you drive there and find cheap lodging and food, you can then use the city as a base for trips to:

Hoover Dam
Death Valley
Valley of Fire
Lee Canyon (mountains with skiing, although not particularly good skiing)
Zion (in UT, if you're up for a long day trip)

Posted by: Quiddity on January 18, 2008 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

"The Strip is great for 48 hours, but then it just seems alarming."

This is absolutely true.

I love Vegas for about two days, and then I quickly get tired of it and want to go home. It could also be that after two days, I'm broke and completely hungover, I don't know. But the key to Vegas is to stay a short time.

Posted by: Justin on January 18, 2008 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

I just couldn't get past all the massive fountains and water features in the middle of the desert. Just freaked me out.

Posted by: Anna on January 18, 2008 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

You have to find what is worthwhile. There is a very good second hand bookstore (on Tropicana, I think, in a strip mall). I found 1910 Baedeker's for London and Paris with the hotel brochures and maps (from 1910) sill stuffed in, and the mapback Dell of H. G. Wells Voyage to the Moon with a map of the moon on the back, and all reasonably priced.

About 20 miles west is Red Rock Canyon, 50 miles east is Valley of Fire State Park, and 50 miles south (in AZ), on a side road that goes to Lake Meade, more Joshua Trees than anywhere else ("and they gave them -- meaning California -- a National Park" complained the lady in the visitors center. There is a good outdoor museum on the way to the Hoover Damn, and the Hoover Damn tour is worth a journey.

More touristy: do not miss the Liberace Museum.

Posted by: David Margolies on January 18, 2008 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

I often have to fly through Vegas to get to other places (Southwest Airlines...). Flying into Vegas at night is one of the world's great sights. The view of the strip is absolutely spectacular. Check before your flight to see which side of plane is likely to get the best view.

Posted by: jhill on January 18, 2008 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

I used to like to gamble, and I liked Vegas. I haven't been in years, but I think at this point the sheer waste of water and power would just sicken me. It does, just thinking about it.

A couple of years ago, I believe there was talk of digging a model of the Grand Canyon at a new resort outside Vegas? The real think being almost a three hour drive away?

Posted by: Jim on January 18, 2008 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

As a fortysomething native Californian who grew up spending a week or two at Tahoe every summer, with a side trip to Reno most years, it still took me until last year to make it to Vegas.

We went for the Cirque du Soleil shows. (If that makes me shallow, so be it. The soundtrack to Love, a superb Beatles mash-up, made us want to go.) I found most of the Strip to be everything you'd expect - loud, garish, mostly annoying.

But north of the strip, there's The Boneyard, which I learned about via Tom Tomorrow's blog. A collection of old neon and plastic signage from Vegas sites of yore, it may be my all-time favorite collection of twentieth-century Americana. And that, along with the highly enjoyable Cirque shows, made the trip a lot of fun.

And I didn't drop a dime gambling.

(As for the off-strip culture, I popped into a 7-11 for gum and a soda, and saw three people planted on stools feeding dingy old slot machines, and felt sad for two hours.)

Posted by: Cap'n Phealy on January 18, 2008 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

Vegas is a terrible place to go on business, as it is impossible to get a good night's sleep there. I have been there 5-6 times on business and came home exhausted because some drunken plow jockey from North Dakota inevitably gets drunk and wanders the hotel floors pounding randomly on people's room doors.

Someone above said this too - but I always get this feeling of sadness and remorse when I am in Vegas. It's hard to put into words, but there is a false sense of elation in the air that makes one feel ultimately depressed. The natives also look they are participants in some sort of a danse macabre. I find it very interesting that Mohammed Atta and the 9-11 plotters hatched many of their plans there. I would like to be able to go back in time and get inside their minds to understand why they chose that place.....

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on January 18, 2008 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

Have only been to Vegas for professional reasons, to cover big fights. Now, THERE's an atmosphere that both fascinates you and makes you want to change species.

Posted by: JMG on January 18, 2008 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

The first time I went there as an adult, I thought it was the tackiest place I'd ever seen. Now, no other city reminds me so much of Kafka's Amerika, it's so over the top. As to food, Guide Michelin rated Joel Robuchon's a three star and three Las Vegas restaurants earned two stars — Alex, Guy Savoy and Picasso. It's hard to do better than that.

Posted by: Mike on January 18, 2008 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

I went to Vegas a few years ago, before they decided to be 'family-friendly,' so my observations may be dated.

To start with I was happy to find out that gambling depresses me, unlike many of my family.

As someone said - the girl-watching might be okay, but I'm used to some eye-contact and some boy-watching from the girls. It seemed everyone in the casino was focused on only one thing.

The casino floor may look like a video arcade but it is definitely not as fun as one. At the time Circus Circus had a great arcade, and I've heard rumors that there is a 3-story lasertag arena somewhere in town.

Now that is good entertainment!

Posted by: Tripp on January 18, 2008 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

Hate Vegas. I once spent a weekend there, and it felt as if someone was trying to extract money from me every waking moment. There are no public parks, streets, museums, or anything else of interest: every attraction is a private business. And the constant beeping and clanging of the casino machines are enough to induce apoplexy.

Posted by: ColoZ on January 18, 2008 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

When tourists talk about New York City, they are often talking about Times Square and its environs. The same goes for the Strip and Las Vegas. The Strip is a few miles of casinos in a metropolitan area that covers nearly 400 square miles and has nearly 2 million people. I lived there for 2 years (2006-2007) and while I think it's a pretty awful place to live for a variety of reasons, those reasons are only somewhat worse than suburbia in general.

Whoever said, "The food is generally terrible, too." is completely wrong, and I'm not just referring to the high-end joints on The Strip. Spread throughout the city are a large variety of places where you can find great food, and Vegas is very diverse (very big Asian and (obviously) Hispanic populations) so there's lots of great cheap ethnic food.

As someone else mentioned, it is within 2-3 hours of several National Parks and other amazing outdoor experiences.

Here are the three worst things about the city:

1) How hot it gets 4-5 months of the year (otherwise the weather is quite nice)
2) The roads are dangerous; everything is spread out; biking is dangerous; there are no good places to live where you can get around easily on foot
3) It's environmentally insane, in terms of sprawl, water usage, and car usage

But living in Nevada has its perks. For one, state politics are absolutely fascinating (if not because they are inhumane and horrendously corrupt). If you can stand living here, it's a great place to live if you are a progressive and want to make a difference. Interesting and weird things happen all the time (and I don't just mean seeing a plainclothes Elvis at the post office).

From my time there, I have lots of Vegas stories. Check out the Vegas-related posts on my blog:

http://crazymonk.org/topics/las-vegas

Posted by: crazymonk on January 18, 2008 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, but the pools at Caesar's Palace are great.

Had to go for a convention and hated the casinos, but I sure had fun at the pools!

Also, I got comped a suite, and even tho it was the crappiest suite there (overlooking the roof of the casino) it was a helluva room.

Posted by: Cal Gal on January 18, 2008 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

The Conservative Deflator,

Someone above said this too - but I always get this feeling of sadness and remorse when I am in Vegas.

Yeah, that got me too. I think it was the evidence that so many people are willing to lose their money at what is ultimately a losing proposition. Also, at the time, 65-year old women in hotpants waitressing to earn money was also depressing, and I'm no prude.

The elderly with nothing better to do than sit and push a button, pissing away their nickels, also depressed me.

Posted by: Tripp on January 18, 2008 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, don't you live in Irvine?

That seems pretty artificial to me.

I've never been to Vegas (except in the airport for a layover), and have no desire to go.

Posted by: desmoinesdem on January 18, 2008 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

What I find amusing is that they built Vegas in the center of an old dry lake. Every few years there is a good rain there and all the streets and below-ground parking lots get flooded. Then we see news flashes about how terrible and surprising the flooding is in Vegas.

The same thing happens in LA every several years when West Hollywood gets a good gulley washer. Then everyone learns what the street "La Cienaga" is named for....

Posted by: frank on January 18, 2008 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

Don't ever want to set foot in Vegas. Too much sensory overload for me! All those people (shiver)!

Posted by: kgb on January 18, 2008 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

I went to Vegas for the first time this past November for a conference, and find it both fascinating and appalling.

On the one hand, if you have a lot of money to spend and don't mind spending it, you can have a hell of a good time in Vegas. I wouldn't mind spending a few days at the Wynn getting pampered, eating at Batali's and/or Keller's place, seeing one or two of the better shows, etc.

On the other hand, outside the high-roller bubble, it can be seedy, scary, overwhelming, consumerist, tacky, and just plain sad.

Posted by: lux on January 18, 2008 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas ---

Right. The only book I have ever read that LITERALLY made me fall out of my chair laughing.

"halves, quarters, eighths, sixteenths, then he began hacking aimlessly at the residue."

Posted by: Stephen on January 18, 2008 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Grumpy: Amsterdam and Singapore are the only other places I can think of where the character of the people is defined by what laws are on the books.

Isn't every place defined at least in part by the laws in their books? Amsterdam and Las Vegas are defined partly by what they allow. Des Moines and Rapid City are partly defined by not allowing these same things. Many places in the US are partly defined by allowing strenuous christian evangelism and ridicule of Islam in the public square, but just try either one in Riyadh.

Posted by: anandine on January 18, 2008 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

No matter how creepy anyone considers the Strip, just know that behind the glitz is a growing, vibrant city. And if anything, it's much much creepier.

I grew up there. Probably 22 years of experience with the city, though it's grown beyond anything I could recognize anymore despite going back three times a year.

My verdict. Vegas is the pinnacle of medocrity, low-brow gone large. Ugly with a capital UGH. Not a new statement, but here are a few possibly unremarked reasons why:

For probably two decades, the best kids left town immediately on graduation. It was a brain-drain, and probably still is, as ambitious people fled a city where the only opportunities are casinos, medicine, law and real estate.

What replaces these people, to the tune of 5,000 or 10,000 imports per month? The net outflow of achievers fleeing south down the 15 freeway zips right past the lane driving north crammed with people looking for anything but achievement. Mostly they look for luck. They look in the casinos. They look in the property market. Some look for second chances. Some just look to die in a warm climate. Almost none look to do significant things. The cultural spillover that achievement-oriented people could create is largely absent from town. The university is third-rate, and what's worse, since the scaling back of nuclear testing, a full generation of kids predisposed towards achievement in engineering and science has simply vanished. And forget about soft sciences. Driving the streets you'll find so many signs with bad apostrophes that Herb Caen would slit his wrist with Willy Brown's cigar cutter if he were still alive. 'The Green's' housing complex near a golf course is my favorite.

And the street names in the residential areas. Amber Falls. Crystal Stream. Willow Creek. Singing Waters. Scenic Pond. All describing lovely bodies of water that, you know, don't exist in this rather uncharming desert. More accurate names would be Discarded Mattress Lane. Stinking Dog Corpse Avenue. White Trash on Meth Street.

Did I say meth? Forget six degrees of separation, if you're from Vegas chances are you're only one degree of separation from jail. Drugs, sure, but more likely your acquaintance is doing time for putting a bullet in someone else. I know two of them from my high school alone, and I wasn't in the bad part of town. Violence and the worst emotions are rampant there. I belong to a generation that grew up to fights in the school hallways and inebriated girls getting serially raped at parties. I still talk to two women my age who went through the latter experience.

Just goes to show. However bad you imagine it is, it's worse.

Posted by: djangone on January 18, 2008 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

Visited my parents in Vegas last year with my fiance, who's Swedish. She was sure she'd hate it and find it terribly tacky (and hot), but in fact she warmed to it pretty quickly. For her, the key was recognizing that it was a giant theme park for adults, and to not take it seriously.

Seconded on the Bellagio's indoor garden displays, mentioned further up by someone else. Very pretty.

Posted by: Elio M. Garca, Jr. on January 18, 2008 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

Just vacationed in Vegas; only because relatives live there.

Not too crazy about the casinos. Try as they might to ventilate, the cigarette smoke is strong to me. Also, not crazy about gambling, but not a prude about it. But the entertainment opportunities are nice. Also, the architecture is impressive.

I had this impression of tremendous wealth being accumulated by the casino owners. They can’t build hotels big enough and fast enough to outrun demand. It’s amazing. Las Vegas has been one of the fastest growing cities for many years.

But a family can have fun there. The city is completely surrounded by mountains, so the view was different for me, a coastal guy. We drove only a few miles to Mt. Charleston to play and sled in the snow on Christmas day. Did some mountain climbing with the kids. Horseback riding is available in Red Rock Canyon. We drove only 3 hours to reach the West side of the Grand Canyon where they have built a new glass sky walk. A lot of the Haulapai Indian stuff at the Canyon seemed thrown together for tourists, but it was a fun day with spectacular views of the canyon.

Posted by: little ole jim on January 18, 2008 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

Y'know, we've got to cool it with these three-letter abbreviations.

I was wondering for a bit what the hell Harry S Truman had to do with Las Vegas.

Heh...me, too!

This is a fun thread to read. Considerably more fun than going to Las Vegas.

Posted by: shortstop on January 18, 2008 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

I always get this feeling of sadness and remorse ... It's hard to put into words, but there is a false sense of elation in the air that makes one feel ultimately depressed.

Geez, I've been feeling like that for 20 years and I've never been to Vegas.

Posted by: Econobuzz on January 18, 2008 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

"Creepy" works. I'll bet it's also the Nation's Greatest Creator of crappy minimum-wage service jobs, too. Complete waste of people, land, energy and water.

Enough voters to guarantee they'll never open Yucca Mountain.

Posted by: trollhattan on January 18, 2008 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

Dave Hickey has a brilliant cultural reading of Vegas in his book Air Guitar -- he taught there for ages -- and his essay on the Liberace museum is one of the funniest things I've ever read. He's an art critic by trade, but started out in music -- he's one of those interesting writers who evade classification ...

Posted by: Charlotte on January 18, 2008 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

"I'll bet it's also the Nation's Greatest Creator of crappy minimum-wage service jobs"

Nope, that's what the Culinary Union is for. Most of the service people you see working on The Strip are making well above minimum wage, plus your tips. That's why they were able to buy so many houses in the area, along with subprime loans, of course.

Posted by: crazymonk on January 18, 2008 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

Off topic except for the fact that it's all about NV tomorrow.

This is what Feingold thinks of Edwards. Talk about a man who has gotten a free ride:

http://www.postcrescent.com/apps/pbcs.dl l/article?AID=20080117/APC06/801170560 1036

"The one that is the most problematic is (John) Edwards, who voted for the Patriot Act, campaigns against it. Voted for No Child Left Behind, campaigns against it. Voted for the China trade deal, campaigns against it. Voted for the Iraq war ... He uses my voting record exactly as his platform, even though he had the opposite voting record.

When you had the opportunity to vote a certain way in the Senate and you didn't, and obviously there are times when you make a mistake, the notion that you sort of vote one way when you're playing the game in Washington and another way when you're running for president, there's some of that going on."

Posted by: markg8 on January 18, 2008 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

Yup, I hate Vegas too, though most people I know can't wait to go there. I dunno why. It's just got more of what California has: malls, casinos, hotels, bad entertainment.

And as someone noted upthread, when the water crisis really kicks in, Vegas will be uninhabitable. A pile of plastic and concrete rotting in the desert.

Posted by: Speed on January 18, 2008 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

How many places in this country aren't tacky, plastic, unsustainable and ugly?

Posted by: Son of Kunstler on January 18, 2008 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

I hate to say this, but this place is getting to me, I think I'm getting the fear...

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on January 18, 2008 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK
On the one hand, if you have a lot of money to spend and don't mind spending it, you can have a hell of a good time in Vegas.

If you have a lot of money to spend and don't mind spending it, you can have a hell of a good time pretty much anyplace on the planet.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 18, 2008 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

I love Las Vegas despite both being an introvert and not being a gambler. It is just amazing how much other people's money can get you.

The Cirque du Soleil shows are fantastic; much better than the traveling version. The singing fountains, life-sized Trojan horse hiding in a mall behind the casino, nearly full-sized pyramid, and so on. Great stuff.

Funny story: several years ago my wife and I wanted to go to Disney World for vacation but our then 5 year old was really pushing for Las Vegas. She loves fountain, loves the lights and loves Cirque du Soleil. It was only after we showed her that Disney World also has a Cirque show that we were able to convince her our plan was better.

Posted by: Mark on January 18, 2008 at 6:42 PM | PERMALINK

I love Las Vegas (even though it has a stone-cold cinder for a heart). Tacky, over-the-top, outrageous - America exposed! You can meet the most interesting people there. What's not to like?

Posted by: Marc Valdez on January 18, 2008 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

I'd say if you think "Fear and Loathing in L.V." is primarily a funny book, then you missed the point.

"And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. . . .

So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back." H.S.T.

Posted by: best forgotten on January 18, 2008 at 7:54 PM | PERMALINK

djangone: Once you got rolling there, a few of those paragraphs are among the best things I've seen anyone write for free in a very long time.

Posted by: bcamarda on January 18, 2008 at 8:18 PM | PERMALINK

Marc Cooper has lots of stuff on Vegas including a book called The Last Honest Place in America, but then again he loves gambling. I think it was a lot more interesting in the '50s, but then again, I was very young -- the swimming pools were great on a hot summer day (in dry heat that easterners are unable to comprehend until they experience it). I think that the architecture has gone down hill: the strip used to be the part of the main highway running through the desert, with a hotel here and a hotel there, and only sand and cacti in between. Each hotel had some sort of theme, and they were set off from each other. Now, the strip is packed solid with buildings, and there are more giant buildings off the strip.

One amusing point: The old Fall Joint Computer Conference used to meet up in Vegas. Years later, it (or something) had morphed into Comdex, which in the heyday of the desktop revolution, would bring well over 100,000 people to the Convention Center. Hotels would fill up (Microsoft took over an entire hotel for its staff), but the hotels weren't all that hot about it because the attendees didn't gamble as much as the usual tourists. It's true in my estimation: the bright lights and shows inside the convention center were far more interesting than the average casino, which seems to be lit mainly in yellow, red, and blue. The casinos seemed awfully dull compared to the latest Princeton monitors or the Word Perfect show. It's a curious thing, but the growth and development of the internet more or less corresponded with the decline of Comdex. Perhaps the ability to find things out online is what did it in. MacWorld seems to have survived based on a different model.

Besides the crowding, the other big change seems to have been that Vegas became a Destination, and with that, it could charge normal rates for food and shelter. That wasn't always the case, but the forty-nine cent breakfast seems to be passing into mythology.

Posted by: Bob G on January 18, 2008 at 8:46 PM | PERMALINK

Las Vegas is a grotesque shit hole but not as bad as Disney World/Orlando. As least you can get drunk and laid in Las Vegas.

Posted by: jimmy on January 18, 2008 at 9:05 PM | PERMALINK

djangone at 4:59 PM

Posted by: Elliott on January 18, 2008 at 9:35 PM | PERMALINK

People who spend time carping about LV are about as compelling as those obese persons who wedge on their flabby, bulbous asses into their lawn chairs and pass the time making mean remarks about how fat their neighbors are.

Las Vegas is the quintessential American city. We asked for it. We got it. It's us. Get used to it.

The Rorschach that Kevin wonders about is neither subtle nor obscure in the least. A person's reaction to Las Vegas is a crystal clear reflection of how open-minded and all-encompassing her/his view is of him/herself and her/his fellow Americans.

Those who turn extra-myopic in front of a mirror and curl their lips in disgust with LV are the same crowd who spend their lives certain that da Nile is a river in Egypt, and nothing more.

Posted by: teknozen on January 18, 2008 at 10:12 PM | PERMALINK

Teknozen: It's not that Las Vegas disgusts us. It's that it disturbs us. And if you're not disturbed by the city, you end up one of its victims.

Las Vegas isn't a city so much as a living infomercial, a monument to not just excess but predation. I wrote this travelogue during my last visit. It's stood the test of time.

Posted by: Baxil on January 18, 2008 at 10:25 PM | PERMALINK

Teknozen has it right about this being another of our cultural Rorschach inkblots. I can tell you that after a long drive across Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, and Utah, it's nice to be able to stop for a few hours at someplace that isn't the North Platte Super 8. I don't have much interest in gambling ("gaming" they call it now), but I don't have a deep-seated interest in preaching to other people not to do so. There may be something a little pathetic about thirty-something high school graduates pretending to be more knowledgeable-than-thou about roulette and dice, but they were pathetic back home for the same reasons and will remain so when they leave.

I guess I wonder why so many people are so depressed about a place that most people seem to enjoy; interestingly, the architectural profession discovered (somewhat to their amazement) that people like Las Vegas, and a few years ago they started to consider the whole concept in more depth, even to holding serious deliberations about it on PBS television. I can see being depressed about being stuck there, broke and without wheels, but this gasping and sobbing about what is, after all, just another commercial enterprise is a bit much.

Posted by: Bob G on January 18, 2008 at 11:20 PM | PERMALINK

I used to go up there once a year to see the Grateful dead. Now THAT was cognitive dissonance...

Posted by: TheSophist on January 18, 2008 at 11:21 PM | PERMALINK

The hotel room looked like the site of some disastrous zoological experiment involving whiskey and gorillas.

Posted by: ren on January 18, 2008 at 11:48 PM | PERMALINK

(only a few folks mentioned the heat?)

I'm curious what would happen, if that city lost power for an extended period, especially in the summer time.

Would Las Vegas even be livable (literally...) in the summer months without air-conditioning? (it must take a gazillion megawatts just to run the A/C)

I had the misfortune to visit during July one time, and even at 11pm, it was still 108. (and i was told this wasn't particularly too hot)

I'll take sub-zero temps here, over 100+ temps any day thank you. (so much easier to keep warm, than cool)

Posted by: jb on January 18, 2008 at 11:54 PM | PERMALINK

never been to las vegas
never been to a city built on gambling
full of emptiness when the town is full
empty of achievers
i like that line (i like ALL the lines) from djangone

you gotta be from somewhere to write so good
you gotta know the known and write it like that
enough sadness in a few lines to make you think
where did that girl go when she woke up?

you know, the girl in the story djangone told us about but didn't fill in the details
did she walk home
ride home
did she have to get help
sad beyond belief
sadder than anything i've seen today
seen sadness all day
a bunny that can't go is sad
but that's nothing compared to what i saw
when djangone favored us with a few lines
too short, your post, dude
you shoulda put it on the front of the blogge
you shoulda wrote it down

i can't have revulsion
for a place i've never been
when i get to vegas someday
i'll see if it is like djangone said
if it is
dude you told me what it was
i believe you now
i'll believe you then

Posted by: Constipated Bunny on January 19, 2008 at 12:32 AM | PERMALINK

Take a break, guys! My husband likes to gamble; I don't. Vegas, I swore, was the last place I'd ever want to go. Everything you hate about the U.S., if you're not an illiterate jerk, right? But put aside the prejudices and the pretensions, and what did I see when after many years I finally got there: people walking around SMILING! Clean streets! Happy people! Yes, it's tacky. Escapism galore. And it's getting tackier, as they seem to giving up the attempt to be a family-friendly place and get back to emphasizing the erotic and hedonistic. But there really are worse things going on. It's Disney for adults. Less depressing than NPR turning its time over for what amounts to commercials, or Hillary pretending to be a liberal, or Olbermann being treated like some kind of hero journalist while exploiting Brittany like any other gutter tabloid.

Posted by: skeptica on January 19, 2008 at 12:41 AM | PERMALINK

people walking around SMILING! Clean streets! Happy people! Yes, it's tacky. Escapism galore. And it's getting tackier, as they seem to giving up the attempt to be a family-friendly place and get back to emphasizing the erotic and hedonistic.

so you like your shit
toasted on both sides and served with a smile
you like the soul burned out of a place
you like the garbage they tack up on the walls
you like your town smiling and empty
were their pockets full because you know their bellies were full from stuffing themselves

gotta love it
"it was TACKY but i liked it!!!"
hello
tacky ain't so good
if you're trying to live
somewheres where tacky is another word for
sucking money out of a rubes pocket
but ya dont live in vegas
you go
you leave
its a mess but you can kiss it off and not care
did you think before you told us what you thought?

Posted by: Constipated Bunny on January 19, 2008 at 12:46 AM | PERMALINK

Challenge:

Go into a casino and try to find anyplace to sit that is not:

In front of a slot machine.
At a gambling table.
In a restaurant.
At a show.

The interior design is crafted so that you literally have no place to simply rest for a moment (to take in the scene, people-watch, etc.).

Many people go to LV and like it for a while (3 hours - 2 days) and then they notice that there is "something" that doesn't feel quite right, but they can't say exactly what that is. It's a mixture of 24/7 promotion, bells and whistles, and the aforementioned interior design.

Not saying that Disney is much better (it is, though), but if you read up on architecture, you will find that the way buildings are assembled, and how they treat "open space" can have a considerable effect on a person's sense of well-being, as well as what social activities take place (if any, for some places actively discourage anybody being around).

Posted by: Quiddity on January 19, 2008 at 12:51 AM | PERMALINK

Vegas fucking rules! Last time we were there, myself and my wife saw "O", took in a Warhol exhibit, and ate some of the world's best food. If that isn't good enough for you, then you fail at life. Sorry.

Posted by: Pocket Rocket on January 19, 2008 at 12:54 AM | PERMALINK

Driving at night through the desert and then into Vegas is really something. I eloped there and highly recommend it (the eloping part). The trick with Vegas is to drive in and drive out the same night. Magnificent! Then, head straight to Death Valley or the East Mojave.

Posted by: Tilli (Mojave Desert) on January 19, 2008 at 4:59 AM | PERMALINK

I don't care for Las Vegas, primarily because I don't gamble, and most of the time it's way too hot to go outside.

But amazingly, most Hawaii residents seem to be absolutely enthralled with the place. When I moved to Honolulu 20 years ago, you had to connect planes in SFO or LAX to travel from here to there. Now, there are four daily nonstop flights between Honolulu and Las Vegas. Hawaiian Airlines flies two daily round-trips using Boeing 767 widebodies, and the flights are always full.

In fact, the Las Vegas Visitors & Convention Bureau recently estimated that the equivalent of half of Hawaii's population travels every year to and from Las Vegas. And according to that same agency, of the 50 states, only California ranks ahead of Hawaii in terms of the number of state residents who visit Sin City.

Go figure.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 19, 2008 at 7:20 AM | PERMALINK

Only been through Vegas once and I'm not really interested in returning, but I love that it exists. I think of it as a 'holiday sink' that sucks up vast numbers of vacationers who might otherwise crowd into the places I like. Disney World serves the same purpose.

Posted by: Slocum on January 19, 2008 at 8:03 AM | PERMALINK

"Vegas - way better than Calcutta!"

From a research standpoint, the best way to see Vegas is to hang out with the climbers at Red Rocks for a couple of days and then go into town. The contrast between 'crazy' rock climbers who gravitate to challenging but environmentally friendly outdoor activities and 'normal' people who enjoy the Vegas experience is quite enough to convince you that humanity has great potential to be a disastrous but temporary sidetrack in the long-term direction of biological evolution.

Posted by: DCBob on January 19, 2008 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

I highly recommend 'The Money and the Power: The Making of Las Vegas and its Hold on America 1947-2000' by Sally Denton & Roger Morris. It digs up dirt on everybody.

Posted by: Speed on January 19, 2008 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

My impression of Las Vegas is that there is no end of tasteless things to waste money on. All in the middle of a desert, no less. How do they do it?

The city's 1.8 million residents depend on access to cheap water from Lake Mead. As of November Lake Mead was below half its capacity after years of drought in the Colorado River Basin. The city's puny turf rollback program barely puts a dent in the 28 billion gallons of water that experts estimate could be saved each year by implementing serious water conservation measures.

But Las Vegans, and the tourists that visit them, love those dancing fountains and hot tubs in their suites . . . the city needs to carefully consider the implications of tapping underground aquifers when so much waste abounds.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on January 19, 2008 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

Speaking of Kunstler...

He really loathes the place.

>pause while MsN goes rummaging through Documents file for Jim K's take down which she has been meaning to send to Paul for a while now

Ah 'Utopia of Clowns'

Las Vegas
Utopia of Clowns from The City in Mind
by James Howard Kunstler

"They say that Antarctica is the worst place on earth, but I believe that distinction belongs to Las Vegas, hands down. For one thing, Antarctica is more pleasing to look at. The natural scenery is about equal to Nevada’s in desolate grandeur, but Antarctica’s man-made artifacts are less distressing to an average human being’s neural network. The population of Antarctica, though tiny in comparison, is better-educated, less transient, and employed in more honorable work. Las Vegas certainly leads in cheap buffets, but the result is a shocking rate of obesity with attendent medical disorders. Some might even argue that overall Antarctica has better weather. In Las Vegas, a baby left unattended in the back seat of a car for nine minutes will fricasee before its mother returns with the dry cleaning.

As I write, Las Vegas is the fastest-growing city in the United States. For a culture that understands things only in terms of numbers, this supposedly proves that it must be a splendid place. I’ve heard it touted often as the American city of the future, the prototype habitat for a society in which the old boundaries between work, leisure, entertainment, information, production, service, and acquisition dissolve, and a new exciting, colorful, pleasure-laden human meta-existence finds material expression in any wishful form the imagination might conjure out of an ever-mutating blend of history, fantasy, electrosilicon alchemy and unfettered desire. If Las Vegas truly is our city of the future, then we might as well all cut our own throats tomorrow. I certainly felt like cutting mine after only a few days there, so overwhelming was the sheer anomie provoked by every particular of its design and operation. As a city it’s a futureless catastrophe. As a tourist trap, it’s a meta-joke. As a theosophical matter, it presents proof that we are a wicked people who deserve to be punished. In the historical context, it is the place where America’s spirit crawled off to die.

The trouble with Las Vegas is not just that it is ridiculous and dysfunctional, but that anybody might take it seriously as a model for human ecology on anything but the most extreme provisional terms. That they do might in itself be proof that American civic culture has reached a terminal stage. Even the casual observer can see that Las Vegas is approaching its tipping point as a viable urban system, particularly in the matter of scale. In evolutionary biology, at the threshold of extinction organisms often attain gigantic size and a narrow specialty of operation that leaves them very little room to adapt when their environment changes even slightly. This is the predicament of Las Vegas. Its components have attained a physical enormity that will leave them vulnurable to political, economic, and social changes that are bearing down upon us with all the inexorable force of history.


Las Vegas evolved as a crude extrapolation of several elements of American culture: the defiance of nature, abnormally cheap land, vast empty space for expansion, and the belief that it is possible to get something for nothing -- these elements all presenting themselves there in the most extreme form. The trouble with extrapolation as a growth model is that it assumes the continuation of all present conditions in the future, only more so. Since this is not consistent with how the world works, systems organized on this basis fail. Anyway, to extrapolate urban growth based only on extreme conditions invites certain catastrophe, since the law of unintended consequences will produce ever more compounded skewed outcomes. The destiny of Las Vegas, therefore, would seem bright in the same sense that a thermonuclear explosion is bright. I view it as a model for the extinction of the system I call the National Automobile Slum."

[Snip]

And so on and so forth...

Posted by: MsNThrope on January 19, 2008 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

The big casino companies headquartered there are about to enter a horrible spell, as bad as the banks and builders these past six months. Southern California retiries have just lost $1 trillion dollars in mortgage equity. They have no play money left. And the Las Vegas strip is ground zero for the commercial real estate bubble in the Southwest. Just the imminent precipitous decline in the value of their land holdings is going to be a big hurting on these companies. Along with the demand destruction and the competition from the big new casinos California tribes are building, they are in for big crash.

Don't gamble in Vegas. Gamble ON Vegas against the house. An option premium for a six month put on MGM or WYNN is a big winner baby! Roll the dice! Vegas is calling! You know you want it!

Posted by: wetzel on January 19, 2008 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

Reminds me of Steve Allen's comment about Hollywood, "You have to scratch off the phony tinsel on top to get to the real tinsel underneath."

Posted by: mhr on January 19, 2008 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

Vegas sucks. Give me a real city with real people any day, rain or shine. Vegas is predicated on BS, that somehow you can be somebody you're not, if you pay for it. Be yourself and save money: skip Vegas.

Posted by: bebimbob on January 19, 2008 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

I like to think of Vegas as a nice little sink for everything that is tacky and shallow and garish in American life, where it all rolls with a slight little shake. Trailer trash of all income levels find a happy abode there.

And when they're in Vegas, they are not somewhere else.

That is a good thing.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 19, 2008 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

my wife and i spent a few days in vegas a year ago, our first and only visit there. one day, we tried to find red rock canyon national conservation area about 12 miles from the strip. when got lost and stopped and asked for directions, the guy helping us instead told us how to get to the red rock casino, assuming that's where we wanted to go. that told me right there the kind of place vegas is.

Posted by: mudwall jackson on January 19, 2008 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

I love its old world charm.

Posted by: BillD on January 19, 2008 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

I love its old world charm.

I think you can see that captured best in Caesar's Palace, the Paris Las Vegas, and The Venetian.

It's like you are actually there.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 19, 2008 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

4 days in Las Vegas. The sound of electronic slots everywhere. Everybody I meet is pimping something: sweaters, show tickets, women. Billions of dollars spent to recreate things like a half-sized Eiffel Tower (I've seen the real one ,several times, no thank you). The entire Strip bumper to bumper on Saturday night.

I moved my departure date up a day and gave up my last prepaid night in the hotel just to get out sooner. The only thing worth seeing was the Star-Trek Museum in the Hilton Hotel, which features among other things actors dressed as Klingons who randomly insult the customers.

I'm very glad I went so that I know for absolute certain that I'll never go again. BTW, I've been in every major American city at least once (and know several of them well)and am also familiar with Toronto, Paris, London, Edinborough, Vienna, and Berlin.
Of all of them, except for a misfortunate few hours in downtown Toledo, LV was the most unpleasant (although Tampa comes close.)

Posted by: jrosen on January 19, 2008 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

Plenty of smart, good people hate Vegas; plenty of smart, good people (including me), kind of love Vegas.

It does say something about your personality, though. It certainly helps if you enjoy gambling. (And gambling is very much like drinking, in that it can be harmless to healthy for some but dangerous to deadly for others.) It also helps, though, to have a certain amount of inborne irony and a love of artificiality. That certainly is what's going on with me. I always tell people who've never been that they should go once, but be prepared to hate it but also know that's it's a pretty unique place on the planet, like it or not.

That being said, I have been somewhat appalled recently by the newer "soak the suckers at every turn" mode. I miss my loss leaders. Now, everything's a money-maker. And it's hard not to be nostalgic for the older, more frankly scuzzy, version of the place.

Posted by: Bob on January 19, 2008 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK

Vegas sucks and is a complete hell-hole.
I have to go there on business and am obliged to go "with the guys" to the strip.
One of our trainers has asked over 2000 participants in the seminar how much money they have won. He said only one guy won $5000. He said most winning was in the $400 range, but the vast majority of people lose. He also asked these people if they had ever been struck by lightning - 19 said yes. So, you have a 19 times better chance of getting struck by lightning than winning a measley 5 grand.
If my typing is bad - tough - I just sawed off my finger with a wood-working tool. What are the odds? good, I guess after 30+ years of woodworking - hurts really bad. I'm taking double doses of 10 mg vicodin and it still hurts really bad - any suggestions, besides snark?

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