When I die, I will most likely end up in Hell. This should probably concern me more than it does, given the fact that I am a practicing Christian (perhaps professing is more accurate…the very inability to practice is why I’m so Hades-bound). However, I tend to just pretend like the grave’s a fine and friendly place and not, as it much more possible, a page from Bosch’s sketchbook. However, this past weekend, I think I got a little taste of the far side of the river Styx. Let’s just say Bosch was way off the mark. Even Dante really screwed this one up. Sartre got quite a bit closer; Hell is other people. Specifically, it is other people in Las Vegas.
Yep, that’s right, the underworld, or at least my own private hell, is on this earth in Clark County, Nevada. Why do I feel this way? Let’s make a list, shall we?
- The heat.We all know hell is hot (unless you're Mormon, then you know that it's cold, but bear with my traditional imagery). Las Vegas, like everywhere in the Southwest exists because some crazy people in the early 20th Century decided to stay put even after years of crop failures. It's inhumane. People shouldn't live places that hot for any reason.
- The purpose of the city. Las Vegas seems to exist as part of some cruel bet with nature and common sense. The city is there to show the desert that it can be done. It's perverse. It's mankind at its worse: improving the environment for no reason better than the fact that it wants to PAR-tay! (Salt Lake, another desert gambit, exists to show the world just what those plucky Mormons can do given total control and a few years by themselves. Note to future settlers: if Mormons give up on your site as too desolate, as they did with Vegas, give up and go home. I mean these are the people who are known for bad choices in settlement locales.)
- Crowds! Connectedly, why are there so many people there? What do they all see? And why must they all congregate along one narrow road? I'm ok with crowds if there are cheap books up for grabs or if you get the rush of amusement park rides. But crowds to see hotels? Isn't this a sign that the terrorist have won?
- Gamblers. People in casinos depress me. Despite the movie version, they
are never suave, attractive 30-somethings out for a good time. Rather, they are either fat and obviously poor (which depresses me because they could do better things with their meager savings) or slipping beyond the middle age category and hanging out in casinos in some failed attempt to regain/prolong youth. These people are invariably loud. And drunk.
- The cost of everything. Vegas, as an industry, seems to ask only that her visitors be bad at math. As we know, most gamblers are. However, nearly 50 bucks for two "rides" at Star Trek: The Experience (which I took part in) or $18 for a single roller coaster ride is nearly criminal. Don't even get me started about the price of shows. Why is there such demand for things? (Also, at Star Trek: The Experience, we were warned that taking pictures during the "rides" was in violation of copyright law. I don't really see how that could possibly be true, but maybe there's something I'm missing.)
- The hideous success of the "what happens in Vegas" slogan. On the surface, this is a truism. Most things that happen in Vegas are too embarassing to share with others. However, people take this as license to be total jackasses. What else would explain the unslightly young men who think walking down a main street 300 miles from an ocean in nothing but their boardshorts? Or the surprising number of people who casually sip their beers while walking down Las Vegas Blvd? Can you honestly imagine the same sort of behavior along, say, Canal Street in New York? Or the 20-somethings hoisting twelve packs along at 10 in the morning. Who needs beer that early? A general reminder: What happens in Vegas only stays in Vegas if it's not done out in the open. We can see you being a putz on the Strip. And we talk. Or, barring that, we blog.
- The blatant hawking of women. Billboards with scantily clad Latinas with the wording "Hot Babes Direct to You" indicate two things: feminism and the civil rights movement have failed horribly. None of the softcore ads I saw were for white girls. Isn't that odd? Also, why do the guys who try to get you to take the little "french postcards" think that my mother, a woman of over 50, would be interested in what they are giving out? That's just creepy.
bad as Vegas.