Ready to Burn
11 May 2008
Las Vegas, NV—
Last night, we ate Italian food at a western-themed restaurant run by Asians. This can only happen in America. Early this morning, Wayne’s stomach revealed itself to be decidedly anti-American. His freedom-hating innards kept us from getting back on the road until well into the afternoon, but we prevailed in their crusade against our schedule, arriving in Las Vegas shortly after seven o’clock.
To get as well-rounded a Vegas experience as I could in the short time we’ll be here, I decided to begin by taking in a show. It consisted of several young women with plastic vampire teeth undulating haphazardly to a range of rock hits from the last forty years. They weren’t wearing any shirts. I was seated at a table with a handful of people who, unlike me, had not come alone. Remember when you went to see Monster’s Ball, and you wondered what the deal was with the creepy guy in the front row, and you suddenly understood when the very non-titillating sex scene with Halle Berry and Billy Bob Thorton hit the screen? As far as my table-mates could tell, I was that guy, despite the fact they were much more entertained by the show than I was.
Las Vegas is exactly the carnival I expected it to be. Instead of children carrying around the plush toys they won at the ring toss booth, this carnival is populated by adults carrying around cocktail cups shaped like the casinos that robbed them blind. Each casino is carefully designed to be inadvertently wandered into and very difficult to leave. Every last speck of dust in this town is a cog in a machine fueled by tastelessness and tasked with emptying bank accounts. It’s breathtaking.