human behavior

What happens in Vegas

Posted in American Culture & Politics, Travel by humanb on December 26, 2009

I wasn’t in Vegas a full day before I felt tainted. Not by the sin, per se, but by the excess.

The food was in excess. Appetizers were the size of main courses. Main courses could feed three people. After every meal I felt bloated and gluttonous.

The booze was in excess. Liquor flowed freely to gamblers, not only to compromise judgment, but to make them feel as if they were getting something normally overpriced for free. Away from the tables, the extravagance and sensory overload of Vegas have you paying for booze by midday just to dull the senses.

Luxury goods were in excess for the status-hungry…

Anyone with any interest in shopping for reasonably priced un-essentials is out of luck. Those with little interest in shopping will find 85% of the shops in Vegas pretty boring.

The sexual offers were in excess. Packs of guys in bright-colored T-shirts (with the odd woman included) crowded every corner on the Strip, handing out female ‘business’ cards’ and making smacking sounds with the cards in their hands to attract your attention. Hundreds of these cards litter the side walks only to be kicked into gutters, shoved into corners and trampled upon by the boots of men.

Most of all, and quite obviously, Vegas offers excess opportunities to hand over hard-earned money for the mere possibility of ‘winning’ money not earned. In the high-end hotel casinos of Vegas, $25 Black Jack tables look simultaneously exciting, fun and serious. In the low-end casinos of Vegas however, the atmosphere is as depressing as the interior design. There’s nothing exciting about seeing people with little money and too much hope lose both at Circus Circus.

Vegas is also visually disconcerting.  Spectacular mountains of considerable natural beauty provide a backdrop to an overdeveloped valley of unnatural attractions with erratic sprouts of sky scrapers of gleaming glass and concrete.

Dusk is much kinder to the city’s face than morning…

And the close-up is paradoxically the city’s best look…

By my last day in Vegas I felt like a prisoner. I decided to walk through the ostentatious Caesar’s Palace and couldn’t find my way out for over an hour. Walk into any casino or shopping mall on the Strip and the easy way out will lead into yet another shopping mall or casino. To be on the Strip is to be trapped in a ‘fun house’ of slot machine noise, architectural kitsch, unnatural light, painted women, and tobacco smoke.

To be in Vegas is also to be immersed in the artificial. The hotel Paris is a perfect example of the sensational fakery that defines the city. It’s a fairly jaw-dropping sight from the outside…

And the inside is frankly insane. I know casinos are never built with windows so that gamblers have no idea of the time of day, but bringing a permanent sunny sky into a casino is admittedly amusing but also stifling and not a little disturbing.

The faux-French is funny, but I suspect not everyone knows it’s tongue-in-cheek, which makes it therefore somewhat culturally embarrassing.

Vegas does appear to be upgrading its architecture with visually interesting modern buildings. This one looked paper-thin from every angle. It’s the Aria, the newest hotel-casino to hit the Strip.

But these are just shells holding little of any real value.

I suppose this is all to say that in my unsolicited opinion,

Sin City sucks.

And I dearly wish that everything that happens in Vegas does indeed stay there.

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  1. al said, on December 29, 2009 at 11:28 pm

    fascinating snapshots (literally, and in your writing) – and here i was thinking that sydney’s shopping centres in december are stifling…

  2. humanb said, on December 30, 2009 at 10:32 am

    Thanks al. 🙂

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