(Although home, can't wipe the arid Las Vegas air outta my lungs, nor can I rid my nose of the perfumed stench of gung ho gamblers and witless casino dwellers, and my mind can't erase the all-out stale, pre-packaged wierdness of the landscape, so I dug out last year's after-the-trip reaction, presented below.)
Ahhhhh, Las Vegas. Just returned from an annual business trip/four-day tour and I still can’t get that horrifying (and continual) sound of the ever-clanging slot machines out of my head. That and the ongoing sight of hookers, high-rollers, bottom-feeders, sandal and short donning grown men, weirdly tanned women, hyped-up Asian youth, fat-assed security guys, all exhaling that strange combo of desperation and hope.
It ain’t Sinatra’s Vegas any more, although a brief excursion through so-called “Old Vegas” provided some temporary stale but outside breathing and a chance to walk among the more middle-class dreamers and beamers in a slightly upgraded version of the Atlantic City boardwalk. Just to make sure that I was fully aware that I could never walk in Frankie’s venerated footsteps, my colleagues decided that we should (for once) go to a show, rather than just eat, drink, and gamble till the wee wee hours.
My boys, good guys all, are not exactly culturally discerning, and some how the choice was made to sit through a performance of Cirque du Soliel’s Mystere. (Yeah I know, not even the Beatle’s show!) The sight of us, nine grown men in various states of inebriation and head titling sleepiness, seat by seat next to each other awaiting this hocus-pocus mix of mime, acrobatics, and artificial meaningfulness had to be, without a doubt, the gayest image I’ve ever been part of. After nodding through most of it, recoiling at half of it, and, despite my struggles, fully inhaling the acid aroma of stale showbiz cheese, I burst out onto the streets and left my union brethren behind, desperate to find my inner manliness, to go John Wayne on someone, to plunge down the Vegas strip with the Zen toughness of Burt Lancaster, the brutish male soul of Robert Mitchum, and the hard and clear oh-so-masculine eyes of Lee Marvin.
I immediately bent right down on the sidewalk and sniffed the first pretty girl’s ass that I saw, elbowed aside a couple of frat boy jokers and flashed ‘em the psycho stare, broke up the hand-clenching of two starry-eyed young lovers, got on my hand and knees and scooped up every grimy call girl playing card stuck to the curbsides, asked two silicone-injected west coast divorcee types to do the funky chicken with me, tore up the stairs to one the saddest McDonalds of all time and swallowed a Big Mac and left the goo right on my lips, threw a few fries at some Frenchy looking bastards with poofed-up hair walking below, then zigzagged across the street challenging any one of the Pakistani cabbies to run me over, demanded two Cuervo Gold shots and a Budweiser at the nearest bar and loudly asked anyone in the vicinity to tell me if there was a better sports town on earth than Boston, and by the way did they know that the 6-0 Celtics were marching directly towards the NBA crown, that Bill Belichick oughta just tap dance on the grave of Vince Lombardi, and that the Red Sox just might roll through the next coupla World Series. The bartender cast a weary eye on me, pointed a finger a the torn Cirque du Soliel stub sticking out of my top pocket, and told me in a quiet but stern voice that the next round was on him, nodding sagely all the while.