Vinod's Blog
Random musings from a libertarian, tech geek...
Friday, June 20, 2003 - 06:59 AM Permanent link for Viva Las Vegas
Viva Las Vegas

Back from a Las Vegas business meeting at the New York, New York hotel....   One small piece of irony -  I'm currently pitching a product codenamed "Vegas."

In any case, it's been about 3 years since I've had the distinct pleasure of visiting Sin City.  I commented to a co-worker that at places like Vegas and DisneyWorld, you really walk shoulder to shoulder with an odd cross-section of America (& the World).  We the yuppy denizens of San Francisco, New York, London, and the like breath thin, vaporous air and are a bit too removed from the middle 50%.   The Vegas crowd isn't it either but they may be closer.

Sure there are gorgeous show girls, college kids on break, celebs and casino high rollers but the bread and butter tourists at Vegas are only a somewhat parodied Griswold Family.   Walking the strip, it's shocking how little Vegas street fashion has evolved from this landmark film.   Skimpy, tattered athletic wear on decidedly non-athletic physiques.  Midwest families with 2.5 badly sunburned kids.  Retirees with sombrero-hats and zinc oxide noses.   Some barely-English-speaking guy paid to hand out fliers and wear an obnoxious lime green shirt advertising, uh, entertainment available in your hotel room.  And an image seared in my memory till the day I die - a decrepit old woman in a Lark scooter monotonously dropping quarters down a slot machine with one hand & holding a lit cigarette in the other. 

Vegas isn't my cup of tea (give me the real New York City anyday).   The plasticity of everyday life, cacophony of electronic bells, and the vapid facial expressions on the casino workers leave me feeling distinctly "blah".   Leaving Las Vegas could not have been set anywhere else.  In some ways, it's the worst of LA on steroids but minus just a bit of the pretension (or perhaps it's sophistication?).   Vegas adds in a hefty dose of big-ness and brash-ness reminiscent of my homestate of Texas.   One can only imagine how much this odd combination of Houston and Los Angeles must make a Canadian squirm.

Tom Wolfe famously called Vegas "America's Versailles" -- a symbolic high point where the riches and wealth of an entire culture are put on opulent display in one focused location.  The American-ness is from all this wealth being on display for the mass consumer audience rather than the private reserve of an aristocratic elite - quite different from Olde French.   Capitalist libertarian that I am, that part of the equation is complete goodness.   BUT, not being much of a fan of the real Versailles either, I guess the full accolade is sorta lost on me.

Still, I'll admit that there's a lot of visual drama which provides some excellent photo ops.    I didn't have too much time on the ground (there and back in <36 hours) but I was able to snag a few moments and snap a few picts:

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Paris Hotel & Casino Statue of Liberty @ NY, NY Ceasar's Palace
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The MGM Grand Hotel by day... .. and by night

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