Hello from the Mojave Desert, and Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas! Las Vegas is an immense entertainment resort in the middle of an immense desert. A blinking mirage painted on a blank, dry canvas. Surrounded by a ring of ancient mountains, the Strip sits dead center in a valley, its skyline resembling a cluster of obstinate buildings daring visitors to approach. The casinos and hotels appear as a huddled hodgepodge of unrestrained architecture and artifice. At night seen from afar, the lights of the strip pique curiosity: “What is that? Who goes there? And when will the grid fail?”. Up close the lofty scale is unnerving, yet beckoning. All designed to lure in human beings and their treasure, and to separate the two. For most of the year the extreme heat and sun work to shuttle people indoors, then at sunset the lights and sheer movement of bodies muscle people to the intended shiny stuff. Gambling, imbibing, eating, splurging and spectating all rolled into one big action. It is tempting to anoint Las Vegas as a “last resort”, but that remains to be seen. Please join me as I hold up a magnifying glass to scrutinize the culture of Sin City, without frying the anthill.
Just so you know, I’m a lifelong Chicagoan and staunch Midwesterner who was recently and unceremoniously moved here on the wings of a spousal job change. Culture shock city. Fun facts: there is no black soil here, no majestic Great Lake, minimal green and maximum beige, and the odds of winning are slim: the house always has the edge. Other than that, I’m all in. Sort of.