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By the time I hit Sahara Ave, all of the phosphorescent glitz and glam of the Vegas Strip had petered out behind me. The streets that were teeming with fanny packs and booze-besotted flesh just a quarter mile earlier were suddenly all but vacant . All that stood between me and an empty asphalt desert were a few convenience stores and the silhouette of The Stratosphere Hotel, which jutted up into the air to my left like a chubby imitation Space Needle. After that, there was nothing but the pale glow of street lamps, illuminating the destitute and the downtrodden that pepper the streets of Las Vegas with alarming frequency. In one hand, I held a half-smoked cigarette; in the other, a 32 ounce Orange Slurpee. At half past midnight, that Slurpee represented the only nourishment I've had all day with the exception of a fig bar in the morning and about a half dozen energy drinks in the afternoon and evening. I had been too busy losing money to take time to eat. In fact, I'd lost so much money that my bank account wouldn't let me withdraw any more from an ATM, reducing me to the desperate practice of hitting up every 7-11on the 3 mile walk from the Circus-Circus back to my room at the Golden Nugget so that I could withdraw the maximum $10 cash back at each stop.

I reached into my pocket to grab another smoke and realized that my pack of Pall Mall Menthols, which had been full 12 hours earlier was all but empty now; a casualty of being purchased in one of the eight remaining places in America where most establishments still allow you to light up indoors. If there was any saving grace for my lungs and livelihood, it was that I didn't smoke the whole pack myself. As a matter of fact, I'd wager a guess that I had given away at least a quarter of my pack to other folks, most them homeless or otherwise indigent people I met on my way up and down the Strip.  I had seen similar concentrations of poverty and despair in major US cities before, but none of them seemed as brutal as Las Vegas did. It wasn't so much the quantity of homeless folks, even though Las Vegas did have the 4th highest rate of homelessness in the country in 2012, as it was the conditions they were forced to endure. When someone spends all of their days outside, baking in 105 degree heat and 15% humidity, their face begins to take on the qualities of rawhide leather. They age in dog years. Their skin crackles under the relentlessly beating sun and a never ending torrent of sand and grit gets lodged in their hair and their pores.

The 7-11 at the corner of S. Las Vegas & Oakey Blvds

When I lived in Baltimore, I established a loose set of rules regarding when I would give money or smokes to those who asked. According to my system, the first person of the day to ask me for change would get whatever I had in my coin pocket or, if I had no change, a dollar. After that the only people who I would give money to were those who had a compelling, well thought out pitch and those who had children with them. With regards to cigarettes, I'd give one out to anyone who asked, provided I didn't only have 2 or 3 left in my pack. In Las Vegas, all of these “rules” went out the window because the poverty there was so jarring, especially in comparison to the opulence that abounded all around them. Ignoring the pittance of tobacco I had left in my pocket, I pulled out one of my 2 remaining cigarettes and crouched over it to protect the flame as I was lighting it.

As I lit the cigarette, I heard this disembodied voice coming from a vacant lot to my right. I walked towards the lot and, as my eyes got acclimated to the darkness that lay out of reach of the street lamps, I saw a slender old man coming towards me from behind what looked to be a small fort made of splintered scraps of wood and assorted car parts. As he came closer to me, I saw that he was dressed in what looked like a black bubble vest, along with a pair of windpants and a shirt sleeve that he wore on his head as a makeshift doo-rag. He asked me if he could have a cigarette and I obliged. The man was so frail and so hard to see in the light that he seemed more like an apparition than a person. After he had taken the smoke and used my lighter to light it, he thanked me and walked back into the darkness and into his makeshift homestead. All I could see of him was the bright orange cherry of his cigarette, floating away from me.


When I got to the 7-11 at the corner of South Las Vegas and Oakey Boulevards, I found a slight, congenial young man sitting on top of one of the domed metal trashcans that flanked the double doors at the store's front entrance. Before I could make my way through the doors, the man eased his way off the trashcan and asked me if I can spare any change. I told him that I didn't have anything on me, but that I as going in to get some cigarettes and that I'd grab him something to drink if he wanted. He asked for an Arizona Kiwi Strawberry and I told him it wouldn't be a problem, only to find out when I went to buy the drink that this particular 7-11 was all out of Arizona Kiwi Strawberry. I decided to get him an Arizona Fruit Punch instead, mainly because it had a strawberry as part of the little fruit medley on the outside of the can and because none of those Arizona drinks actually have any real fruit juice in them in the first place.

After I had bought my cigarettes and given the guy his juice I noticed a group of about 25 teenagers walking down South Las Vegas Blvd, heading towards us and away from the strip. At first I had a tough time making out any of their conversations, but as they came closer it became apparent that my lack of comprehension was due to the fact that they were all speaking French. There were a pair of slightly older chaperones at the head of the group, both of whom seemed perplexed as to how they had led their charges into such a desolate place. As I walked towards them, the young male chaperone was gesticulating emphatically at the fold out map his female counterpart was clutching in her hands, giving off the unmistakable body language of someone who has no idea where the hell they are. Adhering to the immutable laws of stand-up comedy gender roles, the young woman was the one to come over to me and ask, in slightly broken English, if I knew how to get to Fremont Street. Serendipitously enough, my hotel was located on Fremont Street and just so happened to be where I was headed at that moment, so I told her they could just follow me for a mile or two and they'd get there.

It turns out the two of them were leading some sort of summer cultural enrichment tour for a group a of high schoolers from the city of Nîmes in the southeast of France. What they were expecting to find in Las Vegas that was “culturally enriching” is beyond me, but I had a hard time concealing my embarrassment at the fact that their American experience was coming in the glittering asshole of my country. The male chaperone let me know how he was excited to see the Fremont Arts District and I didn't have the heart to tell him that what passed for “art” on Fremont Street at this time of night was a Guns 'N Roses cover band and an air brushed t-shirt with your face on it. This isn't like Fin-de-Siècle Paris, where the grimy, prostitution rife streets of Montmarte attracted the likes of Van Gogh and Degas and Toulouse-Lautrec and gave birth to one of the most transformative artistic movements of the past 150 years. Las Vegas is nothing more than a retirement home for past-their-prime entertainers and high-budget magicians(1). There is no culture in Las Vegas because Las Vegas is where culture goes when it retires.

In many ways it seems like Las Vegas was formed by taking all of the worst parts of 3rd century Rome, plucking them up from their moorings amongst all the worthwhile pursuits of western civilization, and plopping them down in the middle of the Mojave Desert. I realize that sounds rather melodramatic, but just bear with me for a second. The Romans had their Bread & Circuses. Las Vegas has their Krispy Kremes & Strip Clubs. The Romans erected a gigantic colosseum in which to hold all manner of vicious, gladiatorial bloodsports for the entertainment of its rulers and its citizenry. Las Vegas has a plethora of colosseums that play host to the majority of America's lucrative boxing and mixed martial arts title fights. In Ancient Rome, it was a common practice for diners to induce vomiting during the course of a large meal so that they could continue gorging themselves. In Las Vegas, there is a long and storied tradition of buying entry to all-you-can-eat buffets and attempting to eat one's own weight in overdone steak and loaded baked potatoes.

The Fremont Casino in the daylight

I could go on ad infinitum with the comparisons, suffice it to say that there isn't a city in all the world that can claim themselves a more rightful heir to all the storied excesses of the Roman Empire than Las Vegas. It is not coincidence that Las Vegas was ground zero for the the 2008 housing crisis, nor is it chance and happenstance that have them leading the list of cities who are blowing up the housing bubble again in 2013. All of the sub-prime mortgage lenders and hedge fund managers are little more than the ideological progeny of the money changers who once lined the steps of Herod's Temple . They have flocked to Las Vegas like moths to a flame because it is a city built entirely on impulse and extravagance. It is the naked, throbbing id of America—the foregone conclusion of Manifest Destiny once there is nothing left to conquer. It is what capitalism looks like when it begins to eat itself alive.


By the time I got back to my hotel, the promise that I made to myself earlier in the evening to not gamble away any more of my ever-dwindling bank account had evaporated. Any willpower that I had left was effectively rendered useless among the fluorescent neon facades of Fremont Street and within minutes I had managed to convince myself that it was perfectly normal to lose $450 playing nickel multiplier slots in less than 2 hours and that I had a surefire plan for winning all of the money back. After carefully assessing my options, I decided to try my luck at The D Las Vegas, an ostensibly Detroit-themed casino whose main attraction was their fleet of pleasantly proportioned ladies who danced beside all of the tables in booty shorts and fringed bikini tops, while similarly clad women dealt you cards with the wan smiles of the perpetually hit on. Of course, I didn't enjoy any of the awkward eroticism of these women because I bee-lined straight for the slot arcade on the second floor that was filled with nothing but chain smoking grandmas and blue haired spinsters clutching their giant souvenir cup of quarters like it was the Holy Grail. I like slots because they give you the illusion of control without any of its attendant responsibilities, kind of like Calvinism.

I'm not entirely sure what happened next as I pretty much browned out for the next three or four hours, but I am pretty sure the following things did transpire:

1. I won back every red cent of the $450 I had lost earlier in the day, tacking on about $40 in profit for good measure.

2. I printed out a ticket for roughly $500 from the slot machine and swore to myself that I would UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES use that money to gamble with.

3. After blowing through the $60 or so that I had left in my wallet, I immediately broke the vow I had just made minutes before and began gambling with the $500 ticket.

4. I acknowledge to myself that there is the distinct possibility that I have a gambling addiction.  

5. I lose the entirety of the $500 I had said I would never gamble with and promptly go to withdraw $100 from the ATM machine because it's a new calender day and the restrictions on my checking account withdrawals have lapsed.

6. I confirm beyond a reasonable doubt that I do indeed have a gambling problem.

7. After losing the $100 I just withdrew from the ATM, I decide to leave the casino, but only because I was now completely out of cigarettes.

Once I had taken the gambler's walk of shame past the phalanxes of warbling slot machines and semi- nude black jack dealers, I stepped outside to find that the Las Vegas had been turned into a hyper- patriotic laser light show. In lieu of Pink Floyd or Led Zeppelin, Don McLean's American Pie was being blasted out from the panoply of speakers that were scattered about the street, all while the massive barrel vaulted canopy covering Fremont Street draped an LED-lit American flag above our heads. I'm pretty sure that giant neon images of bald eagles were involved as well, although I can't say for certain that I didn't hallucinate them as I hadn't eaten a proper meal in over 30 hours and was relying entirely on nicotine and Red Bull for sustenance. What I do know is that I despise the song American Pie with the fire of a thousand suns and that the only two ways I could think of to put me out of my chevy to the levy filled misery were heading up to my hotel room for the night or rupturing the tympanic membranes in both of my ears with a ballpoint pen. As luck would have it, I didn't have a pen on me and had to head back to my room at the Golden Nugget by default.

I managed to stay in my room for 2 hours. About half of that time was spent in a state that could loosely be described as sleep. The other half consisted primarily of me lying in the prone position in bed, chain smoking cigarettes and eating skittles. At about 6 in the morning, I woke up with an unshakable belief that I had a divined a surefire way to beat the slots and decided that it was imperative that I get back to the casino as soon as was humanly possible. My plan involved tricking the machine by breaking up the hundred dollar bills that I got out of the ATM into twenties and then inserting them one at a time into the machine. My early morning slot logic held that if I could make the machine think that I was always just about to walk away and stop giving it my money, that it would be more likely to give me jackpots in an effort to keep me from leaving. Of course, this entire reasoning is patently absurd because it assumes that slot machines are somehow intelligent enough to tell exactly when a customer is thinking about leaving and ignores the fact that all slot machines are very specifically programmed to give out a preset backpay percentage to ensure the casino always makes money.

The only way you can make a profit playing slots is through a combination of luck and restraint. Over the long haul, the slot machine is always going to hand you back 90 cents on the dollar, but in the short term you might have a stroke of luck and win a big chunk of cash. After that, all you have to do is walk away and stop playing. My problem is I can't stop playing. Just like I couldn't be satisfied after having 2 or 3 beers at the bar, I won't be able to enjoy myself if I play a slot machine for 15 minutes and walk away with $50 profit. I want more and I always think I can get more. When I was at those slot machines in Vegas, it was as if I had just done a line of cocaine or popped a couple Adderall. As soon as I placed that money into the slot machine, it ceased being real. It wasn't the money that was important anymore. It was the winning that mattered. More specifically, it was the rush that came with winning that mattered. Every time I hit a big combo I'd just sit back in rapt ecstasy, listening to the rhythmic clinking and clanking of invisible dollars falling into my pocket and sucking so hard on my cigarette that I'd be down to the filter after 4 drags. Deep down somewhere I knew I would never be satisfied until I lost every last penny I had with me, because if there was something left, there was always the prospect of turning that something into something more.

By nine that morning I had blown through a further $200, leaving me a chip shot away from accruing four digits worth of losses in under 24 hours. At this point it had become exceedingly clear that I was incapable of spending any time alone in Las Vegas without losing alarming sums of money, so I decided to get out of town before my checking account caught fire. Leaving then would mean giving up one of the two nights I had paid for at the Golden Nugget, but the room only cost about $40 a night and I probably would've ended up losing 20 times that had stayed I another day. It was time to go. Not tomorrow, not this afternoon, not in a little bit; it was time to go now.


(1) Submitted for your approval are the headline acts in Las Vegas the night I was there: David Copperfield, Penn & Teller, Blue Man Group, Carrot Top and 4 different Cirque Du Soleil productions. I rest my case.

Originally posted to Virally Suppressed on Sun May 11, 2014 at 05:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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  •  Tip Jar (188+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, Karl Rover, commonmass, Habitat Vic, Catte Nappe, The Marti, clutch1, richardvjohnson, k9disc, OleHippieChick, furrfu, kevinpdx, One Pissed Off Liberal, Lorikeet, DavidMS, GAS, ruleoflaw, rb608, Crider, Major Kong, oldpotsmuggler, foresterbob, Santa Susanna Kid, UncleCharlie, jbou, marina, blueoasis, Louisiana 1976, fToRrEeEsSt, ModerateJosh, Youffraita, WakeUpNeo, Simplify, NBBooks, puakev, OLinda, oldliberal, depressionkills, katrinka, yawnimawke, greengemini, FuddGate, ridemybike, thomask, RudiB, RiveroftheWest, peterfallow, Unitary Moonbat, lao hong han, theBreeze, konving, Greyhound, tomephil, cama2008, P Carey, Superpole, kurt, dewtx, Zwoof, OldJackPine, blue jersey mom, Tinfoil Hat, Texknight, kharma, Tommy T, Emerson, mamamedusa, MartyM, Gottlieb, AnnetteK, rubyclaire, Preston S, suspiciousmind, gramofsam1, bsmechanic, rat racer, ord avg guy, Wee Mama, Kingsmeg, Dood Abides, claude, Rashaverak, tobendaro, Zadatz, badscience, spunhard, stevenwag, Kristina40, Susipsych, jnhobbs, DRo, tommymet, Lilith, Bruce The Moose, Miggles, thegoodstraw, wader, tapestry, Mike08, TrueBlueDem, Geenius at Wrok, gloriana, Hirodog, Doug in SF, newinfluence, congenitalefty, gulfgal98, Statusquomustgo, Kevskos, TrueBlueMajority, jck, stlsophos, joegoldstein, citizen dan, eightlivesleft, JVolvo, ER Doc, 2thanks, TheDuckManCometh, Ken in MN, Sun Tzu, FindingMyVoice, Senor Unoball, tommyfocus2003, MichaelPH, knitwithpurpose, JayBat, semiot, No one gets out alive, liberaldregs, swampyankee, onionjim, barbwires, oceanrain, PeteZerria, VA Breeze, zerelda, science nerd, jbob, rhutcheson, sow hat, Steven D, where4art, dksbook, MKinTN, Jim M, Ptown boy in NC, livingthedream, OllieGarkey, Gentle Giant, northsylvania, Subterranean, Onomastic, PapaChach, varro, KenBee, rhoneyman, LEP, prfb, gundyj, tegrat, allenjo, Trevin, xaxnar, BusyinCA, rb137, TexasTwister, TruthFreedomKindness, Josiah Bartlett, Galtisalie, 207wickedgood, henryjones000, Tommymac, slowbutsure, Bryce in Seattle, Liberal Thinking, Nebraskablue, nswalls, wlkx, SherwoodB, yoduuuh do or do not, Ekaterin, dotdash2u, smrichmond, GayHillbilly, EliseMattu, boudi08, Sandino
  •  I get you (22+ / 0-)

    you can't even stay in a hotel without walking thru the entire casino to get to your room. Even the little machine noises are part of the trance, I can hear them now..

    This Rover crossed over.. Willie Nelson, written by Dorothy Fields

    by Karl Rover on Sun May 11, 2014 at 05:21:04 PM PDT

  •  First time I saw "Blue Man Group" (15+ / 0-)

    It was in Vegas. Among the best entertainment dollars I've ever spent. Not sure how much we expended on slot machines that trip - maybe $30 or $40 over about three days.

    “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

    by Catte Nappe on Sun May 11, 2014 at 05:58:08 PM PDT

  •  Very nicely done. (17+ / 0-)

    I really enjoyed this.

    If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

    by Major Kong on Sun May 11, 2014 at 07:21:59 PM PDT

  •  D.U. C. Y (13+ / 0-)

    You write well but you haven't learned that playing any games or machines the casino controls are set up for you to lose. Poker is the only game anyone should be playing at a casino and I don't mean Caribbean stud.

    I sing praises in the church of nonsense, but in my heart I'm still an atheist, demanding sense of all things.

    by jbou on Sun May 11, 2014 at 09:00:06 PM PDT

    •  Are you kidding? (4+ / 0-)

      Poker is the quickest way of all to lose money unless you are really really good at it.  And the fact is, you are not nearly as good at it as you think you are.  

      •  Limit poker (3+ / 0-)

        Not all poker is no limit. There's all sorts of limit poker games at the casino where all of your money is not at risk. Poker is a skill game and the beauty of the game is you can fold. The only time you have to put money out is for the blinds. You can wait until you get a good hand and even then you don't have to put all of your money at risk.

        As for my poker skills, anytime you would like to sit down at a table and play I will show you just how good I am.

        I sing praises in the church of nonsense, but in my heart I'm still an atheist, demanding sense of all things.

        by jbou on Mon May 12, 2014 at 07:55:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  In that case... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RiveroftheWest, slowbutsure

          why are you wasting your time commenting on a blog instead of racking up those profits at the table?

          (In any case, what I meant is that most people aren't as good as they think they are, but they may well be playing against experts.  That's why the poker table is definitely not a good choice for casual tourists to Vegas.  Roulette is probably their best bet - most of the bets have equivalent odds and the house advantage is not a large as in some other games.  Or blackjack if they have memorized the optimal strategy, which is not all that difficult.)  

    •  Craps (3+ / 0-)

      has the best the 45 to 1 on the hard 6s and hard 8s.

      Esse quam videri (To be, rather than to seem)

      by Ptown boy in NC on Mon May 12, 2014 at 11:14:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The casino still wins... (3+ / 0-)

        At the craps tables. In the poker room I only pay the casino when I win a hand and I drink and eat for free and the most the casino takes for a rake is four dollars from the winning pot.

        I sing praises in the church of nonsense, but in my heart I'm still an atheist, demanding sense of all things.

        by jbou on Mon May 12, 2014 at 11:30:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The only game I dabble in as well, but for (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        exactly the opposite reason. The closest thing to even odds in any game, so you can ride the streaks as long as you can afford to stay in.

        I'm not a gambler by any stretch of the definition, but the Luxor bought the first new car I ever owned. Seven passes and I cashed out.

        "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

        by Greyhound on Tue May 13, 2014 at 03:05:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I though Blackjack had very good odds (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest, slowbutsure

      if one plays it right.

      "When I was an alien, cultures weren't opinions" ~ Kurt Cobain, Territorial Pissings

      by Subterranean on Mon May 12, 2014 at 12:11:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If you can count cards... (3+ / 0-)

        To the best of your ability and pull back half your bets and up your bets when the odds dictate you can grind out a winning night. Most folks aren't capable of doing what's needed to move the odds in their favor and then you still have to count on the other players at the table doing what the odds dictate.

        You have the most control over your decisions and the most information to make your decisions easier when you are at the poker tables.

        I sing praises in the church of nonsense, but in my heart I'm still an atheist, demanding sense of all things.

        by jbou on Mon May 12, 2014 at 12:24:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Never play slots because its just a money eating.. (16+ / 0-)


    If you want to have fun with your money as you lose it, play a game that has a more mellow pace so there is time between plays to have some drinks and think what you are doing. This type of play may even keep you from losing, though most likely it will just keep you from losing so fast you don't enjoy it.

    Slots are played by shoving your money into the casinos maw as fast as you humanly can.

    Join the DeRevolution: We are not trying to take the country, we are trying to take the country back. Get the money out of politics with public financed campaigns so 'Of the People, By the People and For the People' rings true again.

    by fToRrEeEsSt on Sun May 11, 2014 at 09:34:08 PM PDT

    •  Slots are even less fun (7+ / 0-)

      Slots are even less fund than they used to be since they are now totally electronic - you push a button and if you win it comes in the form of electronic blips on your casino card.  No more pulling the handle or the clink of falling coins when a jackpot hit.   That was the only fun part about a machine designed to separate you from your money.  

    •  In the last few years (4+ / 0-)

      I've had a couple of people tell me, with absolute certainty, how to win money at slots:  play the machines closest to the door, at particular times of the day, etc.  I'm sad anyone believes this.

      Like others posting, though, I really enjoyed the diary, apart from my position on casino gambling.

      A terrible beauty is born. --W.B. Yeats

      by eightlivesleft on Mon May 12, 2014 at 07:32:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  My niece and nephew live there. He says go to (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        the mom & pop places as they pay better or would have no business.  Don't ask me which ones as I never cared enough to find out.  Large casinos are the extravagance you see inside and out; and you are the one paying for it.  Doesn't seem worth it  to me.  I just keep my money and buy something I want.
        BTW, I've been going occasionally for 40+ years (live close) and they are getting tighter and tighter with the slot jackpots.  A waste of time these days.

    •  When I was an undergraduate psychology major, (10+ / 0-)

      I did a lot of work with "Skinner boxes." Skinner boxes are chambers in which the experimental subject, (classically a pigeon or a rat,) has to operate a lever or switch to get a reward, usually food or water. They were named after the eminent psychologist, B. F. Skinner, who perfected them.
           There has been a lot of study determining how frequently and in what pattern the reward needs to be given during a training period to achieve the longest period of continuing the behavior without reward before extinction; in other words, until the subject quits pushing the lever.
           The reward strategy that achieves the best result turns out to be a variable interval, variable reward schedule. Under such a schedule, the subject doesn't get the reward every time, but is rewarded at random intervals with a random amount of reward. The absolute length of time the subject will continue pressing the lever without reward depends on tweaks of the average frequency and amount of the reward during the training period.
           Slot machines are Skinner boxes for people.  

      -7.25, -6.26

      We are men of action; lies do not become us.

      by ER Doc on Mon May 12, 2014 at 07:51:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Blackjack with the basic system.... (3+ / 0-)

      ....has a much lower house edge, and the game is slow enough to keep you around for a while while you gamble.

      You can't spell "Dianne Feinstein" without "NSA".

      by varro on Mon May 12, 2014 at 08:36:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I had fun with a nickel slot (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest, Gentle Giant

      The hotel casino had exactly one of these.  I could enjoy the process without actually being out a lot of money..   And it paid off the old fashioned way, with a clatter of coins in the tray.

  •  Haven't been to vegas in a while.. (6+ / 0-)

    But I've enjoyed it when I went.   It's a great get away and the people watching to me is worth it.   I guess I must be in the old crowd, though.. when I go, I tend to go to at least one show.

    Gandhi's Seven Sins: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Commerce without morality; Science without humanity; Worship without sacrifice; Politics without principle

    by Chris Reeves on Sun May 11, 2014 at 10:04:17 PM PDT

  •  I visited Las Vegas once. (25+ / 0-)

    I went at a friend's invitation. He wanted me to grab as many free samples as possible at the Tobacco Retailers Convention, so he could sell them in his cigar store. Let me tell you, the cigarette and cigar makers know how to throw a party, and spend massive amounts of money doing so.

    Thank God, I have no desire to go back. I found Las Vegas interesting, in a clinical sort of sense. The deepest impression was looking out the plane window as we approached McCarren, and seeing the brutal and menacing brown expanse of desert that surrounds the "city." What a stupid place to have one million people live. So, of course, I have to include a clip of one of my all-time favorite movie scenes. "...once you get out the front door, you're still in the middle of the fucking desert!

    A conservative is a scab for the oligarchy.

    by NBBooks on Sun May 11, 2014 at 10:11:30 PM PDT

  •  So they don't call it "Lost Wages" for nothing. (19+ / 0-)

    But for the roughly 1.5 million of us that live in this valley, it's home, and we love it. Still, it's definitely no place for anyone with a gambling addiction. Slot machines as well as tables are called "games" for a reason - they are designed for "play" - defined as "activity engaged in for enjoyment and recreation." If your only thought was to "win big," you missed the point. I and many others would be happy to tell you that hitting those big jackpots is great fun, but it's not the reason we play.

    If you happen to ever return, please visit the Bellagio Fountains as well as the floral atrium just off the hotel lobby, the Classic Cars floor of the Imperial Palace, Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum near The Venetian, or stop and look at the walls and ceilings of any casino on the strip or Fremont St and be amazed at what you will see.

    If less "casino" and more "standard" culture is your goal, I recommend the Las Vegas Art Museum or any of our fine libraries, in which you will find displays of local and regional artists' work. Daytime trips to either Red Rock Canyon (a 20 minute drive from the strip) or the Valley of Fire (~50 miles NE of Vegas off I-15) are both highly recommended. For a truly fine evening out, any performance at The Smith Center can't be beat.

    Oh, and BTW, to find the Downtown Arts District (formerly the Fremont Arts District), go straight north on Main St from the Stratosphere about 1/2 mile. It starts on Colorado and encompasses several square blocks. (From Colorado on the south to Hoover on the north, Commerce on the west to Las Vegas Blvd on the east.) The French students would probably have thoroughly enjoyed it, especially if that night happened to be "First Friday" - a monthly event that many here will not miss.

    The Fremont St Experience and the Golden Nugget are a little over a mile further north-east of it.

    •  I've been to Las Vegas twice (9+ / 0-)

      The first time, over 20 years ago, I passed through on a cross-country drive and spent a night or two at Circus Circus--and not the "nice" part, but the annex that looks like storage units converted to motel rooms. I probably lost $20 playing slots. I didn't stay long because I wanted to continue my trip and it was late August and 100 outside. I just needed a place to rest briefly and be able to say that I'd been to Vegas. I did appreciate the cheap and filling buffet food, and bought some kitsch, of course. The next night was spent camping in the San Bernardino mountains east of LA, near some huge telescope.

      The second time was accompanying my dad to a trade show in early June several years ago, when it wasn't quite so hot yet. We stayed in a Hampton Inn several miles from the strip, near the airport and across from Sunset Park. I liked staying there. The rooms were nice and cheap, under $50, including a hot breakfast, and I liked not being on or near the strip, to avoid the crowds and noise (although living across a major airport isn't exactly quiet). I didn't gamble at all, except one comped slot machine, which of course I lost. My dad, who fancies himself a decent blackjack player, made $50 at one table.

      I didn't attend my dad's trade show, so I had the days to myself. But aside from one afternoon spent walking from casino to casino northward on the strip from the Mandalay, where his show was, getting as far as the Bellagio (nice btw, especially the flowers), and evenings on the strip having dinner with my dad, and one night downtown, after going on the Stratosphere (I make it a point to go to the highest publicly-accessible building in every city I visit), I spent very little time in the city itself. Mostly I went for morning runs in Sunset Park, which is a very nice park with a pond in the middle that people race model boats in, stayed in my room, and drove to Red Rock Canyon, where I went on a nice hike in the desert and took lots of photos.

      I honestly don't understand people who go to Las Vegas regularly, as it's an artificial place (the touristy parts that is) where you basically go to gamble, overeat, drink too much, and have lots of sex. And you can do three of three almost anywhere else. Actually, all four these days, since casinos are nearly everywhere now. I get the thing about how you go there to do things you wouldn't feel comfortable doing elsewhere, and pretend to be someone else, and I suppose there's a place for that in today's high stress world. But like anything, this can be overdone. And it's easy to overdo things in Vegas.

      I'd like to go back. There's definitely an appeal to it. And I know that I have the sort of self-control that I don't have to worry about doing anything truly stupid. But once every 10 or so years is probably enough for me.

      "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

      by kovie on Mon May 12, 2014 at 05:39:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And we will welcome you back every time. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kovie, ER Doc, RiveroftheWest, slowbutsure

        As a resident, I rarely go to the strip, but when I do, I enjoy the time. I very much enjoy the rest of the valley.

        •  It's probably like that in every major city (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RiveroftheWest, AJayne, slowbutsure

          In the 10 years I lived in Seattle I went up the Space Needle exactly one time, barely a month after arriving, when my family visited for the 4th of July and we thought it would be fun. It was. The rest of my years there I mostly did things that locals do, not tourists. Although I did enjoy going to the Pike Place Market, which while touristy is also "real". I think I only rode the monorail twice.

          Same in NYC, where I rarely go to Times Square or Rockefeller Center unless I need to be there for some other reason like meeting friends from out of town, despite having worked near both for years. I haven't been up the Empire State Building or Statue of Liberty in decades. I do like to do things that are touristy, like go to Central Park or ride the SI Ferry, but locals do that too, and they're real experiences. And I mostly go to the park to cycle loops around it.

          Where do locals go when they go out or want to recreate? Which parks are popular? I assume they sometimes go to the strip or downtown, but more to eat, drink or see a show than gamble. Are there hotels they like to frequent, both at night and during the day for the pools? Is it possible to buy an annual or seasonal membership for the latter and are some more family-friendly than others, or cater more to young singles? Just asking out of curiosity as I have no plans to visit any time soon, but I would like to go back eventually.

          "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

          by kovie on Mon May 12, 2014 at 07:52:44 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Boston seems different (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            AJayne, kovie, RiveroftheWest, slowbutsure

            I lived there five years and everyone, locals and tourists and others, all go to the same public spaces, places, restaurants, historical sites, etc.  Boston is a wickedly wondeful city.  Having come from the south, I had a Love/Hate relationship with the town.  The T is super cool.  So much energy and school/student generated art & science and creativity and excitement.

            I lived in the Fenway (among Northeastern's Dorms) - next to the Pru and Symphony Hall and the Mother Church.  I truly felt a part of all of them.  I loved shopping at the Pru - so shabby then (early '90') - but cosmoplolitan and mid-century.

            Shout out to Boston and everyone there.

          •  Why we love Las Vegas . . . (3+ / 0-)
            Where do locals go when they go out or want to recreate?
            Off-strip recreation is a constant in Vegas. Where people go depends on their ages and interests and, in some ways, their local communities. Vegas has reached official "big city" status away from the strip. We have sub-communities based on heritage (San Gennaro Feasts, Greek Food Festivals, Mariachi Festivals, etc.), sub-cultures (types of music, dance, and art appreciation, etc.), activities (various sports and other interests).
            Which parks are popular?
            For brevity, let me say all of them. They are spread throughout the community, and reflect a variety of interests and pursuits. From the Clark County Parks & Rec website:
            Clark County Parks and Recreation services the indoor and outdoor recreation needs of Southern Nevada with more than 1,600 of acres of parks and open play space, pools and water parks, recreation and senior centers, special events and sports and fitness and fine arts programming.
            And that's only the county part. The city and state also provide Parks & Rec services, as do local communities.
            I assume they sometimes go to the strip or downtown, but more to eat, drink or see a show than gamble. Are there hotels they like to frequent, both at night and during the day for the pools? Is it possible to buy an annual or seasonal membership for the latter and are some more family-friendly than others, or cater more to young singles?
            Most newer homes (post 1990) have private pools, and older sections of the area have community pools. Last year a new water park opened that offers season passes. It was immediately over-run with customers. The city has expanded road access and traffic control in its locale, and the venue itself has increased parking for this season.

            The Vegas economy is primarily supported by gaming, but the community that thrives because of that support is quite diverse. Every part of the valley has great places to eat, drink, see shows, gamble, etc - not just the hotel/casinos. Seriously, one can find anything and everything "to do" in this area, for any and all interests.

      •  This is the only place in the U.S. that exists (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        solely for adults to come and (somewhat) escape social constraints and engage in, or claim to have engaged in, pure hedonism.

        Vegas is here to accommodate visitor's whims and desires. There is no other reason for this city to exist.

        "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

        by Greyhound on Tue May 13, 2014 at 03:14:18 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  The Atomic Museum Rocks ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest, AJayne

      I love to go to Vegas not to gamble but...

      ...driving in the long desert which leads to a Zen like state caused by the stark never changing beauty of the knife-edged ridges rolling endlessly alongside...

      ...pondering the desires and emotions of the myriad souls who try to ameliorate their loneliness by cleaving to one another in wacky wonderful but somehow wanting chapels of the heart...

      ...reaching out and almost touching an art masterpiece drawn by a pre-historic Picasso on a canvas of red...

      ...crying inside from the catharsis of understanding after driving past cardboard cities that co-exist in the shadows of glittering monuments to mammon...

      ...being alone at night on the gritty edge of infinity staring at the Universe twinkling in thermal currents on a side road miles from anywhere...

      ...are all things that bring me back again and again to grok this sadhappytwistedvibrantlyaliveoneofakind place.

      Oh yeah, the Area 51 exhibit at the Atomic Museum is just sick fun.

      • "But such is the irresistable nature of truth, that all it asks, and all it wants is the liberty of appearing." -Thomas Paine
      • "The trust of the innocent is the liar's most useful tool." Stephen King
      • I am the 99%

      by Tommymac on Mon May 12, 2014 at 08:21:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I am printing out your instructions on (0+ / 0-)

      How to enjoy your city.

      It's is on my bucket list, and you seem to care about the same sites I would enjoy.

      So thanks!

  •  So... (7+ / 0-)

    have you booked your next trip yet?'s the new smart for right wingers.

    by StevenD56 on Sun May 11, 2014 at 10:48:29 PM PDT

  •  Desert Road Trip (9+ / 0-)

    Great writing!  I haven't been to Vegas in many years and it was while driving back from an adventure to Zion NP.  We stayed in some dive of a no tell motel and barely gambled at all.  This was well before the 2008 economic disaster so LV didn't strike me as particularly poor, just quite a bit on the sleazy side....

    "Seek above all for a game worth playing- such is the advice of the oracle to modern man." - Robert S. de Ropp

    by FuddGate on Sun May 11, 2014 at 11:18:43 PM PDT

  •  Nightmare... (9+ / 0-)

    You write so well that I was lost in Las Vegas...

  •  I almost wept when I saw a Krispy Kreme (13+ / 0-)

    here in th UK for the first. Definitely not tears of joy

    •  They are everywhere now (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      My family living in a remote part of Australia picks up a batch to take home everytime they fly through the major Aussie airports (Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne).  I know Sydney even has them for sale in the airport!

      I used to like these, but lost the taste for them as I got older.  When I was a wee lad going to high school in North Carolina, you'd drive by the place when the light was on (fresh, hot donuts!) and get some.  Otherwise they were meh.

    •  Before it was bought by a hedge fund and turned (0+ / 0-)

      into the ubiquitous aberration it is today, they made a fucking great donut.

      "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

      by Greyhound on Tue May 13, 2014 at 03:17:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The World Capitol of Addictions... (6+ / 0-)

    You write it up so well, VS!   I'm torn between "Get thee away from me, Vegas" and booking a flight.
    A warning to the elders among us--don't try that hike in the heat of day.

    Ignorance is a virus. Once it starts spreading, it can only be cured by reason--Neil deGrasse Tyson

    by theBreeze on Mon May 12, 2014 at 02:33:16 AM PDT

  •  Nice piece. Next time, get a guide and you'll have (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rashaverak, RiveroftheWest, cowdab

    a better time. The economic straights suffered here are a direct result of corporate governance.

    This town isn't half as much fun and costs twice as much as even 20 years ago.

    "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

    by Greyhound on Mon May 12, 2014 at 02:45:53 AM PDT

  •  I NEVER read posts with such a high ratio (9+ / 0-)

    of text to links.  

    But I read yours.  

    I'll be on the lookout for Chapter Two of the Great American Novel.  

    Well done.

  •  Good stuff. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rashaverak, RiveroftheWest

    Very good indeed.

    Consumerism is the deepest shrinkage of what it means to be human. - Dr. Vandana Shiva

    by bisleybum on Mon May 12, 2014 at 03:33:00 AM PDT

  •  Shocked that someone addicted to (12+ / 0-)

    damned near everything is here on Daily Kos.

    Going to Colorado in My Mind

    by Zwoof on Mon May 12, 2014 at 03:58:14 AM PDT

  •  Great read: Casinos were never built on winner's (7+ / 0-)


    “My soul is from elsewhere, I'm sure of that, and I intend to end up there." - Rumi

    by LamontCranston on Mon May 12, 2014 at 04:10:35 AM PDT

  •  Write a novel, I'd love to read it. (5+ / 0-)

    Your writing is very readable and draws me into the story.  Tipped, rec'd and followed.

    The most un-convincable man is the one whose paycheck depends on remaining unconvinced. -- H. L. Mencken

    by kharma on Mon May 12, 2014 at 04:58:07 AM PDT

  •  I'm forced to go to Vegas a few times a year (10+ / 0-)

    for trade shows. These trips usually last three days and I'm well done and wanting to leave after the second day. Happily though, I've not so much as put a token in a slot machine in over 6 years.

    I once read a piece about Vegas discussing that lack of historic landmarks. The writer concluded that was part of the Vegas MO -- to always reinvent itself while never reinventing itself, there being no interest in memorializing the past because Vegas is all about dreams of riches in the future if only one throws the dice one more time.

    I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires. - Susan B. Anthony Everything good a man can be, a dog already is. - pajoly

    by pajoly on Mon May 12, 2014 at 05:15:23 AM PDT

  •  Visited Las Vegas once-never again (10+ / 0-)

    Was there for a big Scrabble Tournament. I HATED Las Vegas. What I hated most: Every time I got in the hotel elevator, I had to look at a poster of three women showing off their naked butts. Everywhere, there were posters of women's butts. It was like the women's movement never happened. I am a woman. It was so insulting. They want me to spend my money there and they are insulting me? I wrote a letter to the management expressing this, ha ha, like they care. Well maybe if enough women write to them, they would. Also, the buffet food was uniformly wretched and there was sickening cigarette smoke everywhere.

    Unlike you, diarist, I felt no compulsion to gamble whatsoever. I see a slot machine - I feel boredom mixed with mild revulsion. The one fun thing I did (aside from play Scrabble) was to see Cirque du Soleil.

    Loved your diary; I think Las Vegas is not a good place for you (obviously).

  •  Very well written! Hunter Thompson feel to it... (14+ / 0-)


    "Generosity, Ethics, Patience, Effort, Concentration, and Wisdom"

    by Dood Abides on Mon May 12, 2014 at 05:56:57 AM PDT

  •  Just returned (9+ / 0-)

    last month from LV.  Accompanied the mil who is passionate about the place and had not been there for a couple of years due to health issues.  Awful place. The waves of humanity shuffling, shoveling along, always assaulting and selling something.  Noisy, lit up space, no release, no escape.  I was exhausted when I got home.  

    Everyone! Arms akimbo! 68351

    by tobendaro on Mon May 12, 2014 at 06:02:25 AM PDT

  •  You captured the essence of Vegas nicely (5+ / 0-)

    I've traveled there a number of times, for various reasons ranging from vagrancy (in much younger years, when Circus Circus was pretty much the end of the Strip) to business and pleasure.  That 7/11 near the Stratosphere?  Been in it at 3AM more than once.  

    A couple of blocks off Las Vegas Blvd. or downtown in any direction reveals a lot of desperation in the city.  It's pretty scary in the late night / early morning hours.  That being said, I could provide similar descriptions of Atlantic City or Biloxi, two towns outside of Nevada that hung their redevelopment hats on the gaming industry.  A block from the casino districts, both cities are still pretty rough places.

    Oh, and your scenario, most importantly:

    6. I confirm beyond a reasonable doubt that I do indeed have a gambling problem.
    ...struck a particular chord with me.  The thing is, I only have a gambling problem when I'm around gambling.  If I'm no where near a casino (and I live a three hour drive from the nearest), I'm not jonesing to be sitting at a table.  When I did live fairly close to one, the force was strong and sucked me in at various times just by dint of proximity.
    •  Atlantic City, a boardwalk with glitzy casinos and (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest, Zadatz, NoMoreLies

      hotels, and three blocks back from the beach, Camden-by-the-Sea.  I was there a lot on business when the casino boom was starting and everyone you met seemed to possess that "get rich quick" mentality.  Once they "got rich", I had the feeling that they had no idea what they would do with their money.  

      Now it is a run down dump that is continually losing money to the casinos in Pennsylvania (where half the gamblers came from) and the Indian casinos in Connecticut.  Governor Crisco is now pushing for sports betting as a way to make more money since the casino profits are failing.  It is a hell of a way to run a state.

      And it feels like I'm livin'in the wasteland of the free ~ Iris DeMent, 1996

      by MrJersey on Mon May 12, 2014 at 09:46:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm not sure how much non-NJ folks can appreciate (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RiveroftheWest, MrJersey, NoMoreLies


        three blocks back from the beach, Camden-by-the-Sea
        It's so true.  And the fact that a "Camden" exists anywhere in America should be a badge of shame.

        But back to AC: if you get just a bit further down the road in either direction (Brigantine, Margate) things change dramatically.  It's the inner core of Atlantic City that's been rotting since Enoch Thompson's time.  The gaming industry didn't change that.

  •  Awesome writing. Well done. (8+ / 0-)

    Reminds me of my 29 Palms days when I would get some liberty and drink, smoke, gamble, and sex my way into a broken stupor. All in Vegas. Especially if there was a big fight on.

    I really dont see how anyone could live there and not think that this, not the rural Midwest, was America's real heartland. Las Vegas is everything America has become. A place of narcissism, oligarchy, excess, and falsehood fueled my mind altering substances and fossil fuels.

  •  Forget the casinos - don't miss the pinball museum (9+ / 0-)

    Next time you're in Vegas, do what I did.  Skip the gambling and spend hours wallowing in nostalgia at the Pinball Hall of Fame - by far the most enjoyable attraction in the city.

    Admission is free, it's the size of a large supermarket, and almost all the machines work.  They take the same coins for which they were originally designed.   For example, most of the machines from the 1950s and 1960s take either a nickel or a dime for five balls.    

    I relived my childhood with many of the machines I remembered from the drug stores, diners, and arcades of my middle school and high school years.  They even had had those old baseball machines with the metal balls and the little metal figures that rotated around the bases.  If you prefer the higher tech machines of a more recent vintage, they've got those too.  

  •  I go for trade shows every few years (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RiveroftheWest, Subterranean

    Fortunately I don't have a gambling addiction, but it's fun to play....until I lose a couple hundred bucks. Then I'm over it. Weirdly, because of my age I think, gambling in Nevada has a certain excitement about it that gambling elsewhere does not. I have no interest in heading over to San Bruno for some Texas Hold 'em, for instance.

    At any rate, diarist, you almost got to where you wanted, by promising you wouldn't gamble with the $500. What I was told a long time ago you really need to do when you make that promise is to send the money home in an envelope immediately!

    The noise, crowds and fakery of Las Vegas excite me for a day or two and then I'm way over it. It's like eating nothing but cotton candy.

    Misconduct by the government is by definition NOT a government secret.

    by Doug in SF on Mon May 12, 2014 at 07:02:19 AM PDT

  •  Incredible writing! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Persiflage, RiveroftheWest, KenBee

    I have never liked to gamble and have no interest in going to Las Vegas, but your writing drew me into your story and kept me glued to the page until I finished it. Mediocre writing would have never kept my attention like this diary did. Extremely well written.  Definitely deserving of a tip and recommendation.  I wish I could you more than one.

    "I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~ Dr. Cornel West "It was a really naked declaration of imperialism." ~ Jeremy Scahill on Obama's speech to the UN

    by gulfgal98 on Mon May 12, 2014 at 07:06:10 AM PDT

  •  Definately Not A REAL Addict (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RiveroftheWest, Subterranean

    You have nothing to worry about: you are not a gambling addict.

    Anyone with a gambling addiction who goes to LV is not going to take time away from the slots and tables to go see David Copperfield or Carrot Top.

    Besides you were only there for a weekend, and only lost $1000 - that's strictly amateur.  

    So you cannot be a real addict.

    OR, you could do yourself a favor throw away the question of whether or not you are an addict and instead ask yourself if you continue to gamble even when you know it is bad for you.

    So you are not a REAL addict - but as the saying goes - you'll do until a real addict comes along.

    "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

    by Hugh Jim Bissell on Mon May 12, 2014 at 07:15:26 AM PDT

  •  exceptionally well written (6+ / 0-)

    the variety of incredibly good writers is one of the reasons I am addicted to Big Orange

    thanks for posting, Virally Suppressed

    Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
    Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights to talk about grief.

    by TrueBlueMajority on Mon May 12, 2014 at 07:18:30 AM PDT

  •  Comments (5+ / 0-)

    First off, this is an excellent diary.  

    In the course of my career, I've been sentenced to several week-long stints at conferences in Las Vegas.  (The first time, we were housed at the Flamingo; it seemed odd to submit a blazing pink hotel bill with my expense report.)  It is one of the weirder cities in the United States.

    If you approach, say, New York City by air, you see a Manhattan skyline with all of the tall buildings.  Most older cities in the US are like this; newer cities (e.g., Phoenix) have the familiar sprawl and scattered enclaves of taller buildings.  But Las Vegas is weird.  There is a skyline that at first seems to be a bunch of office skyscrapers.  Then you realize that it's the Strip you're looking at.  (Atlantic City seen from the inbound AC Expressway is a miniature version of the same effect.)  It is totally unreal.

    And what's really striking is the disconnect between what goes on inside those casinos and the outside world.  You don't notice that the countryside surrounding Las Vegas is desert-scenic in the extreme; you don't notice the 100 degree days in the summer.  Those casinos are completely self-contained artificial ecosystems.

    There are several different kinds of gamblers.

    1. People who are clearly ruined by it.  Since gambling addicitions tend to pretty much destroy anyone so afflicted, you don't actually see all that much of that (wandering outside the secured tourist areas in Las Vegas is a good way to discover the city's bad side in an unpleasantly personal way).  They are not where the casinos make their money, especially in this day where the hotels are a bigger profit center than their casinos.

    2. People there involuntarily (and a subset of that demographic comprised of people who are there because they want to go somewhere else in southern  Nevada and found that all the hotels are either casinos or really sketchy) who go in and throw their spare change into slot machines.  (I'm in that demographic; we just sat there, tossing a quarter into a slot machine, watching the other people.  That offhand gambling accounts for a huge piece of gaming receipts, and they don't need to use comps or other marketing stuff.

    3. People who aren't addicted, but who really believe that they are going to strike it rich.  Usually this is specialized; people who would never think to plop a wad of tables down at a roulette wheel will go nuts when they see car sweepstakes and the like.  This is the "Powerball" market segment.

    4. People who do this as a lifestyle.  This is far and away the most lucrative clientele.  This could be anyone from the little old ladies on the bus from Albuquerque who sit and feed slot machines for three days to high-rolling CEOs.  In the middle are people who consider the various casino comps to be a status symbol.  At the middle end, this is something you boast about to your friends back home ("I went to Las Vegas and I got a high-floor suite upgrade and free meals, and I only lost $4,000") to people who are there to be seen.  Walking up to a high-stakes table and losing $50,000 in one shot is one hell of a status symbol.  Most big-stakes players are there to lose money, but to do so in a visible way.

    5. People who view the gambling as an entryway to the more diverse entertainments to be found in Las Vegas.  (Legal prostitution can be had within commuting distance of Vegas and in any event the city and county have all but decriminalized it in Las Vegas proper.  Las Vegas' status as a destination for sex tourism is underestimated.)  There is a move to legalize it in large counties; I am genuinely curious as to what a Marriott- or Disney-themed brothel would be like.

    6. That gaming has become very high tech and is a huge consumer of technology.

    7. One of the oddities is that casinos no longer cheat (or do so less frequently than 30 years ago).  The state casino commission is controlled by the high end of the industry, which wants it this way and gives their enforcement team a lot of latitude.

    8. Las Vegas is weird.  I don't like it there.

  •  I've always had a good time in Vegas... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    but I rarely go there.  And I'd never go there alone.  But as a place to hang with some friends, it works pretty well.  Lots to do, don't need a car, and it never sleeps if that's your thing.  I'm a cheap bastard and realize that winning money in a casino is a freakish anomaly, so my goal is to lose money as slowly as possible.  You can stretch a few bucks a long way if that's your mindset.

    As for American Pie, how can anyone hate that song?  It did get played to death a few decades ago, but let it go.  Funny that the Fremont is passing it off a some sort of patriotic anthem.  Born in the USA next?

    I don't know what's been trickling down, but it hasn't been pleasant---N. Pelosi

    by Russycle on Mon May 12, 2014 at 11:23:28 AM PDT

  •  Vegas. Ugh! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RiveroftheWest, SherwoodB

    Been there - once.  Just to attend a trade show.  I'm not a fan.

    I don't gamble, and never will.  I guess I could see going there for a few days, just to enjoy the inexpensive buffet restaurants, hang out in the hotel swimming pool by day, and see a few shows by night.

    But it's one of the most vulgar, tacky places I've ever been.  I have zero desire to ever spend any real time there.

    All that is necessary for the triumph of the Right is that progressives do nothing.

    by Mystic Michael on Mon May 12, 2014 at 11:37:03 AM PDT

  •  Will never visit Vegas again (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RiveroftheWest, Greyhound

    After they tore down the real Las Vegas and replaced it with a plastic Disneyland.

    "Do you realize that fluoridation is the most monstrously conceived and dangerous Communist plot we have ever had to face?" - General Jack D. Ripper

    by wilder5121 on Mon May 12, 2014 at 11:46:08 AM PDT

  •  Carlos Santana (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RiveroftheWest, SherwoodB

    is finishing his current tour in Las Vegas, playing dozens of shows at the same venue.

    "WTF???", I thought when I read that on his website.

    Santana would be the only kind of thing that would get me to go to Vegas.

    I live in upstate NY. There are 3, maybe 4, casinos within reasonable distance. I've been to one of them a few times to see Steve Winwood, Steve Miller, Robben Ford...
    Of course, you have to traverse the casino to get to the concert room. The flashing lights, the volume of obnoxious noise, the glazed expressions... I fixed my eyes on my destination and booked.

    I'm not quite 58 years old. I have never, in my life, had a surplus of money exceeding a few thousand dollars. And Life always sucks that few thousand away from me not long after I've accrued it. New roof. Catastrophic car repair. You get the picture.
    So to see hundreds of people throwing thousands of dollars per minute at what ought to be a criminal enterprise? I find that very offensive to my sensibilities. I'm not some sort of moral/religious prude. Nope. I play the lottery. You can't get worse odds than that, even betting for my beloved Buffalo Bills to win. But it's $10/week and fixed into my budget. It is the first thing to go if I can't spare $10. So I'm not anti-gambling. It's just the sight of the volume of it, and the "glitz", to my tastes, is tacky incarnate. I see nothing pretty in all those lights. Pretty is a babbling brook in an autumn woods, not cacophony amid a 5-figure electric bill.

    Holds no appeal for me. Unless...

    How are their museums?

    No, Vegas is no place I will go unless I'm driving from one place to another and it falls in my path.

    "Non-violence is a powerful and just weapon which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

    by Gentle Giant on Mon May 12, 2014 at 12:12:11 PM PDT

    •  Carlos Santana (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest, Gentle Giant

      is a Las Vegas resident - it's not uncommon to see him around town.  I'm guessing his current tour of Vegas will be followed up by a new tourt. :)

    •  Museums are no better than what you'll find in any (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gentle Giant, AJayne

      "heartland" city, but you have to go to NYC to find a better library, and as far as accessibility to it for the residents, Las Vegas' is better (Clark County, technically). We do have world class exhibits, but they are owned by and displayed in the casinos, which takes some adjustment.

      We are surrounded by natural wonders and, though most visitors never notice it, the whole city is in a spectacularly beautiful desert valley.

      There is no other city of 2 million in the U.S. that can come close to Las Vegas for services, attractions and events. Few cities five times our size can compete with what is available here at any time. Seriously, take NYC and LA out of the contest and Las Vegas wins, hands down (and no, I didn't forget Chicago, I lived there, it sucks).

      OTOH, I wouldn't even consider raising kids here, but neither would I tolerate subjecting my kids to the LAUSD.

      "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

      by Greyhound on Tue May 13, 2014 at 03:37:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great gritty writing.... (0+ / 0-)

    ....and a huge comparison to Portland, Oregon, which might be the superego of America - with vegan strip clubs, organic American Spirit cigarettes, microbrews everywhere, and people reminded that the lottery "does good things"....even the vice here is promoted as virtue to soothe the hipsters and yuppies who populate this city.

    You can't spell "Dianne Feinstein" without "NSA".

    by varro on Mon May 12, 2014 at 12:29:23 PM PDT

  •  qwatz (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    what do you have against Cirque du Soleil?  I went to one of their traveling shows once and enjoyed it a lot.

  •  really well written (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RiveroftheWest, karma13612

    i love the grittiness and the complete acknowledgment and denial of the sickness. for a short piece, the various encounters played nicely. still, the french connection has so much more to play with. that part alone could consume pages of narrative.

    not sure how to find this out but if you're published, i'll for sure look for more finished work. if you're not, it's a shame.

  •  i lived in vegas for 20 years. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Alexandra Lynch, RiveroftheWest

    we used to say it existed only to provide republicans with their favorite brands of titillating sin:  drinking, gambling, and whoring.
    i probably lost less than $50 gambling in all those years and still don't understand keno.
    i miss the beautiful desert and the heat.

    If you don't know that evolution is a fact, we have nothing else to talk about.

    by oysterwitch on Mon May 12, 2014 at 04:27:28 PM PDT

  •  Nice. (0+ / 0-)

    Everything I expected of modern day America.

  •  Do you realize who you're funding? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Las Vegas casino owners are a huge donor base for the GOP. See Sheldon Adelson. See Donald f*cking Trump!

    "Alcohol enables Congress to do things at eleven at night that no sane person would do at eleven in the morning." - George Bernard Shaw

    by Loose Fur on Mon May 12, 2014 at 09:20:50 PM PDT

  •  Hunter S. Thompson you're not (0+ / 0-)

    Nobody comes here to visit museums or attend the opera. Las Vegas is a playground for adults. The strip and downtown are all about being over the top sensory experiences. The culture of Las Vegas is wild architecture, amazing food, world class shopping, and entertainers from around the world. If that's not high brow enough for you, stay home.

    The snark over headline acts when you were here didn't mention Celine, Brittany, or any of the multiple world class entertainers who come here on any given weekend.The post didn't say when you were here to allow anyone to point out who was performing.

    The vast majority of Americans live within 150 miles of a casino. If Las Vegas was only about gambling, it would have died years ago. There's a reason people come here over and over again. If your gambling addiction forces you to lash out to the town YOU chose to visit, the problem is not with Las Vegas.

    Even us ignorant yokels living in Las Vegas know you don't walk into a vacant lot at midnight to talk to someone who spoke out to you. You apparently are not that smart. If trying to create your own "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" story was the point of this exercise, I'm reminded of one of my favorite sayings. "You are entitled to your own opinion, but your not entitled to your own facts."

    Here in Las Vegas we love to welcome visitors. Come for all the incredible entertainment choices, food, shopping, nightclubs, pools, spas, and amazing venues. But if all you want to do is come for a story about how awful "Sin City" is, please  stay home.

  •  This is great writing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    People ought to get paid for coming up with stuff like this.
    I hope it's at least part fiction. You didn't really lose that much money. I hope.

  •  personally, i think strippers in Krispy-Kreme (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    would be a great idea. it would certainly make buying donuts a lot more fun.

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