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Tuesday, 07 October
Venal Sin City
The wife and I have returned from Vegas. Even though Vegas undergoes near-constant change, the city itself really doesn't. What's mostly interesting to me about Vegas is the fact that it manages to convince you--a visitor--that it isn't as absurdly fucked up as it is. While you're in Vegas, ostensibly enjoying yourself, you don't notice the incredibly strange things, such as your eternally dripping faucet--in a desert--or the fact that you're hanging out in warehouse-sized Skinner boxes without windows or clocks, being served alcohol relentlessly and congratulating yourself on this fact while you slowly go broke. Fountains and seafood abound everywhere in this ridiculous, blasted skilletscape. It's like if you went into the Amazonian rainforest and were completely unsurprised to round a trail corner and find a Portuguese bank.
Only in Vegas could you possibly do something as self-abnegating as agreeing to go to an establishment as repulsive as Coyote Ugly, only to have the plasticine bar staff order you onto all fours and bark like a dog for a free shot. Not that this happened to me: it happened to D. Later that night, D. ingested some food that had peanuts in it and went into anaphylactic shock. It happened the night before the wife and I arrived to join everyone, and obviously, I was sad to have missed it; I think it is the quintessential Vegas experience.
I was told this story, by the way, while enjoying the discharge of a six-foot-tall bonglike thing apparently called a "beer tower." I'm a little surprised that nobody has opened an entire casino called "Beer Tower." Maybe next week after they disintegrate the Stratosphere with lasers. (The Stratosphere is so notoriously awful that they'd probably neglect to inform the guests first, immolating and/or crushing several thousands of people too cheap to spring for some place classy like Harrah's, where we stayed. [Harrah's is a gloomy, cheerless dump.])
The long weekend progressed as you might imagine. We were there to attend the wedding of C. and L.--and, really, fuck this initial nonsense. It irritates me too anymore, except when I can't think of what else to do. Let's call the groom Corny Eely and the bride RILOR, because it pleases me to think of her as the world's sweetest robot intelligence. Corny Eely is just a Googledodge, and how I also enjoy referring to him, as I am a fucking idiot.
The first night was spent, of all things, gambling. The wife made it to a little after two, while Corny and I, in a truly heroic exhibit of drinking and not sleeping, made it until after four AM playing craps. No less than three times during that epic night, Corny looked at me, shuffled his many chips and said, "Well, ready to call it a night?" And each time, my response was, "We just ordered beers." And he replied, each time, "That's true." Free beers. So we soldiered on, until I was forced to struggle up to my room and bid good-night (or, I suppose, morning) to Corny, who tiredly waved and then proceeded to go back to the ridiculously terrible O'Shea's to play craps for another two hours, eventually winding up with $700 in winnings on the evening.
And the next night was the bachelor/bachelorette parties, of course. I'm not allowed to talk about the details of the bachelor party because of that GUY RULE of silence, but I can share this: for the first time in my life, and I fervently hope the last, I was heard to tell a bartender, "I need fifteen shots of Jaegermeister." Then later we drove out into the desert, bent a bunch of hookers over the guardrail and fucked them stupid, then bludgeoned them with garden hoes and dumped their bodies in Lake Mead. But like I said, I can't really talk about it.
The wedding itself was fairly unremarkable, not because it was unimportant, but just because the good people who work at the Flamingo churn out weddings like a Chicago sausagemaker. Get in! You're married! Get out! Most of us there were chewing this incredible gum that our friend L. had discovered: it was peach Sangria-flavored. So that was classy; while Corny and RILOR tied the knot, half of us were on the bench chewing booze gum like a herd of docile, mildly alcoholic cattle. It was sort of fitting. At the end of the 20-minute-ish ceremony, the officiant was seen, upon leaving down the aisle, to give a thumbs-up to the automatic camera filming the event and stage-whisper, "The end . . . and the beginning!" I like to think that Uwe Boll scripted that and was beaming in the editing room.
Corny and RILOR had the reception in their suite at the Flamingo, which we all gawked at, particularly at the TV display that was embedded somehow in the bathroom mirror. A couple of us wandered into the shower to sit on the little marble bench where you could watch the TV as well--because, you know, we're rubes. Toasts were made, naturally, with the best man's being notable--for one because the best man was a woman, but also for her frequent frustrated cries of "Shit!" because she kept tearing up. Congratulating her after the fact, she moaned and pointed at me, saying "Fuck. Blogger."
We're back home now, after a particularly hellish Sunday morning spent struggling to get up at 7:00 AM to make our flight. We had a good time, but as with all things Vegas, it was tempered with grimness. It's hard to ignore this underlying aspect of a city as debased as Las Vegas: the octogenarian fungi mechanically playing the slots; the hordes of bored Latinos paid to stand on the sidewalks and try and hand out cardvertisements for escorts, wearing their awful t-shirts with phone numbers and legends proclaiming "Call and she'll COME right over"; restaurants branded with Toby Keith's imprimatur; yardfuls of pina coladas.
I swear to God: heading up to the Flamingo suite for the reception, we shared a partial elevator ride with a local. He carried an oxygen tank complete with the little nostril tubes. Nice guy; he asked us where we were from and wished us good luck when he exited a couple floors before ours. There was another fellow waiting to get on. He carried an oxygen tank with him. "Hallo!" he wheezed at us, clanking his iron cylinder aboard the elevator car.
I stole some looks around at my friends. Presently, people realized the coincidence, and we shamefully grinned. But I think that a few of us almost didn't notice.
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Hi, I was sent here by my brother, who knows you through some ridiculous chain of friends of friends of friends.
I'd love to defend my city, but you're essentially on the money. It's such a freak show that occasionally I have to have that pointed out to me by visitors.
For what it's worth, very few locals venture down to the Strip when they're not working.
Our night out of craps playing was definately a highlight of the trip for me. Well, not *the* highlight, that would probably be actually getting married...
Man, no doubt. That was awesome. As was, of course, the wedding.
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