Let’s see – dry, scorched overpopulated Las Vegas or this?


Looking south off my 5th floor roofdeck

We here in the mountains of central Mexico are now 4-6 weeks into rainy season and the photo above shows the typical glorious mid-afternoon cloud buildup that precedes a wonderful but short-lived storm that sweeps across the valley from the southeast.

Short of the Caribbean I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s the long valley – much like the sea – that allows someone from a heightened vantage point to witness a storm’s evolution as it progresses across the broad expanse.

Some of these storms “gives me the shivers”, as Owen Meany would say. Standing on the roof watching from a distance as the clouds roil the driven rain as it blurs out the landscape as it passes makes me truly appreciate the enormity of nature.

“So, how was Vegas?,” as my friend Mike emailed me yesterday from Singapore.

In short – it was a convenient stopover that was all about the papers baby. I need to exit Mexico twice per year to renew my visa. And Las Vegas because it was a short nonstop flight.

And I went knowing that Las Vegas was not my kind of place. I am not a high-roller. Not a gambler. I did want a couple of good meals but think the whole celebrity chef restaurant thing is mostly a scam to part high-rollers from their dollars as well as to give gourmet wanabees something to brag about when they get back to their dreary little lives in places like Des Moines.

And I did eat a couple of good meals – well off the strip, places where the locals go – including a very satisfying Lebanese meal, Thai in the evening, and the following morning I enjoyed a good old fashioned American style breakfast in a diner that dates back to 1938.

Vegas as a town is a mystery to me. The people I understand. But a town of 2.1M people sitting out in the middle of a waterless wasteland consuming mega-amounts of energy and resources that it doesn’t produce just seems so wrong.

Bright, shining Vegas is proof that a pig can wear lipstick (but it’s still a pig).

Vegas has 5 kinds of people: The hustlers/lowlifes, out of town high-rollers, mom and pop’s seeking a thrill, wanting a taste of what they imagine the exciting high-life to be, twenty-something inexperienced know it all idiots who are there to party (like it’s 1999), and then all those ancillary working people who do all the 9-5 jobs.

So why did I go there again?

Apart from the quick nonstop flight (excluding the unexpected freak rainstorm and its corresponding delay on the return flight), it had the quick shopping stops I needed to replenish some diminishing stocks: a leatherworking store (for solid brass hardware and leather tools), Best Buy (for a UPS), and an Old Navy for a few more white/navy pocket-t shirts.

But Vegas to me was really just a freak show. And people there – those that aren’t the high-rollers – are fools, buying into the most deceptive (not to mention costly) delusion offered up. The entertainment of losing and spending money you don’t have.

And I think even the high-roller’s common sense is suspect. Although I reckon that the true high-roller goes to Vegas intending to blow large sums of money buying those expensive hidden temptations that are denied (because of cost) to everyone but themselves. But even that is a ultimately a fools game.

Ambrose Bierce, my favorite cynic, all around skeptic, and the bitterest of men, in his ‘Devil’s Dictionary’ said: “Debauchee, n. One who has so earnestly pursued pleasure that he has had the misfortune to over take it.”

PS – Thankfully that is a race I dropped out of many years ago…