Monday, June 25, 2007

las vegas part 2

it was ... creepy. plastic. fake.

beautiful buildings, huge skyscraper buildings with zillions of hotel rooms. it's unimaginable how much money is spent by people coming to vegas from all over the world every day. in casinos. restaurants. bars. hotels. broadway shows. admission to attractions - there was a shark reef at our hotel, a small sea world thing. there are rides and tours and crazy stores. all the t-shirts and cheapass trinkets nobody needs and mugs and souvenirs.

the casinos have hotels, not the other way around. the center of each is the casino. it's impossible to walk from one part of the hotel to another without going through the casino. i checked in on one side, amidst a teeming throbbing anthill of tourists eager to give away their money. the very very nice people behind the front desk told me i was in the hotel tower on the other side of the resort, and gave me directions. i got lost going from one side to the other. i stopped at a slot machine to study it - i'd never played - and a woman in a tacky outfit, a push-up bra and a tiny skirt and thick makeup identical to all the other women's makeup who worked there asked me if i'd like a drink. i didn't realize they're free. she'll just bring you drinks as long as you sit there. you tip her, which is nice. the thing is, it's not a free drink. nothing in vegas is free.

there's no eye contact. i felt weird - being a texan, perhaps, was part of the disconnect. but still.

there's no day or night. it's lit up crazily at night, and the day is beautiful and sunny. but still, there's no sense of time. we stayed up til 3 a.m. ... other than the hookers coming out into the casino in greater numbers, it was no different really from how it had been at 3 pm.

the casinos are set up so that there's no easy way to walk through them. you wander through a maze. it took me thirty minutes to go from my room (on the 62nd floor - i'm serious - my friends rock! it was so beautiful!) to the pool. literally thirty minutes.

there are no clocks in the casino. no natural lights. no places to sit except at a table or machine. no quiet. lights flash, lots of different kinds of awful music play all at once, people are everywhere. the machines promise you can will millions even if you only bet a dollar. but there's no such thing as a dollar bet - it's a dollar to play one line on the little grid, and you can only win if you play all twenty grids. so it's twenty dollars. and if you want to make some money, you don't bet one dollar per grid, you bet two or five or ten. are you getting how this works?

it wasn't like this.
all of the waitresses that helped me looked sad. they smiled a lot, but still.

the people looked so happy ... and yet, not. it was as if we were all participating in a mass trance. we were coming to give our money away in exchange for the possibililty of making more money. but everyone knows that "the house always wins." they say that while they're laying their money down. but there's that tiny hope that they'll be the one who hits it big, gets lucky.

and the machine - the matrix - gives them goodies and distractions to keep them participating in giving away their money. it's just ... weird. plastic.

and not weird. it's very american. very matrix. very clear about what it is.

i wanted to go up to each person there - i'm not kidding - and hug them. i felt overwhelming compassion for them. i wanted to free them. i think i felt, in some tiny way, what jesus felt every single day: you are in something that isn't real, but you think it is even though down in your soul you know it's not, and i want to help you see that it's not. the people look hollow and lonely. they want something. they came to get it, and they're having fun, and getting their hoochie on, and otherwise reserved nice suburban women wear low-cut dresses and people come to vegas and do things - drinking, sex, whatever - that they wouldn't normally do. maybe that's part of it. it's trading one matrix (work hard, be a good person, be miserable, and you'll be rewarded) for another (come and give us your money and you'll be a big winner and you can do things for just yourself and your pleasure and no one will be the wiser and you'll feel great). it's all the same mindfuck.

i tried smiling at people. saying hi.

other than my friends whom i love and with whom i had a complete blast, i felt completely disconnected and alone.

i prayed. god said, "what do you want from me? i'm doing the best that i can. this is nothing new. you're just new here."
is this the best our culture has to offer? is this our versailles? our roman forum? our cathedral? it costs us all a lot to build and maintain, and it grows and grows and grows. we fly there from all over the world. we get some goodies. we have fun. we squander zillions of dollars. and we thank them and plan to go back.
the poor of the world are starving. there are people with broken hearts in the house next to you on your street.

oh, and the food was great. and the cigars were great. and the shows are great. the hotel was gorgeous. i want to go and see "Love," the Cirque du Soleil Beatles show.

no, seriously.

1 comment:

jscorbin said...

You didn't see the Beatles show!! Bummer. The only thing worthwhile in Vegas is any of the Cirque shows. So much better in Vegas or Orlando, or any of the non-portable venues. Awesome.

I really don't care for Vegas. It's a great thing to see, and to be able to say you've seen. For me, it's just sad. Can't help but think how the lowest on the pyramid like having to scratch out a living there. How does the drink girl at the casino feel when she gets home, assuming she ever gets home. Reminds me of "Barroom Girls" by Gillian Welch. Just sad.