Wednesday, May 9, 2012

America 2 - Vegas

Las Vegas was a strange place to get used to and I think our problem was an inability to approach it in the right frame of mind - i.e., we should have been well rested and enthusiastic rather than jet lagged and homicidal. Or perhaps that's just me. Mum was certainly exhausted to the point of delirium and Dad wasn't that far behind, having already secured the best seats in delirium's VIP area and got the drinks in beforehand, as it were.

Everything is fake. There's a fake Ancient Rome with fake centurions and a fake Trevi Fountain inside it, a fake pirate ship with battle re-enactments, a fake castle which looks nothing like a real castle as it happens (one way we were able to tell) and where they do fake jousting sans fatalities. There's even a fake Venice, which is where we stayed - the Venetian hotel. Like Caesar's Palace, the shopping mall section of the place is done up to resemble a Venetian street with the stores designed to look like shop fronts. The ceiling is painted light blue with realistic-looking clouds on and with the warm lighting, it looks like you're outside on a late afternoon. This is extremely disconcerting at 10:30pm.

When nuclear winter happens, we'll have to make our bunkers look like that just to keep our mental health going. As a thing to do in a casino on the other hand, it is decidedly shitty because it's so very easy to lose track of time. "Midnight? Wait, no, it's... Oh. Where is my family?"

So with all this in mind, we found ourselves wondering if there was a fake Las Vegas resort on the Strip as well. Vegas Town would have its own fake Strip complete with fake Rome, New York, Venice, pirates, pyramids, castles, etc -- and yes, another fake Vegas. And that Vegas Town would follow the same pattern as well ad infinitum. This all begged the question - where does it all end? The answer is obvious, and I suspect you can guess at it: It's Las Vegas all the way down.

Madness takes its toll.

The Venetian is a massive place; really gorgeous and opulently decorated with marble and (fake) Renaissance art. The suite we booked into was huge, containing two queen beds and a sunken sitting room level with couches, chairs, TV and minibar. Minibar got quite the work-out during our time there. The wallpaper is cream and gold, reflecting the dominant motif of the entire hotel, and the curtains over the beds are heavy with ornate print and tassels. The suite's bathroom was large and decked out in pale marble. In addition to the ordinary showerhead, there were these two other things which looked disconcertingly like nipples from which burst twin jets of water aimed just about at shoulder blade height. It was a great shower.

So the next three days were exhausting for me because I couldn't get more than five hours sleep in a row and I also didn't have much opportunity to get out on my own and so be my own person on this trip rather than the Dutiful Daughter, or more often than not, Tech Support. Eventually, I did manage to get away, egged on by none other than a street performer doing a disconcertingly sexy rendition of the Joker. What am I saying? An even sexier version.

The street performers dress up and act in character for tourist photographs and make their money in tips. There was Dora the Explorer (desperately in need of a responsible adult!), Optimus Prime, Spiderman, Wonder Woman, Mickey Mouse and many others. This guy doing a Heath Ledger style Joker, he had it all. The stance, the body language, the make-up, the insinuating himself into your personal space and then standing behind you and whispering in your ear in that voice. Brrrr! He told me to ditch my parents and "go raise some hell." So I did. Well, responsibly. After giving them directions to get back to the hotel. And it wasn't really hell, it was more like aimless wandering, but it was nice to just do that.

 I wandered in and out of casinos and bars, got lost inside another mall decked out to look like the street on a nice summer's day and found myself in a tattoo parlour, sorely tempted to get a little ink. Though there was a very good, simple design of a tree that appealed to me a lot, I couldn't think of anywhere I would want to put it on my body. There were options, but none of them I liked. While I was in there, I watched a woman get her family name tattooed on her foot (Spring) along with a flower. She was telling the guy doing the work that she was going to Paris "in France!" and how excited she was. They got to talking about art and she exclaimed how she didn't really "get" Picasso at all. The tattooist goes, "He's the guy who makes people look like pineapples, right?"And so I left and went to a pole dancing bar.

There's nothing so lonesome, morbid or drear than to stand in the bar of the pub with no strippers. They were already closing up shop when I walked in. But with that avenue closed, I was at least able to buy one of those silly yard glass slushie cocktails with silly straw everyone over the age of 21 (and some under) was walking around with. Mine had rum in it and a picture of a stripper in pink silhouette. It was also pretty modest compared to some of the giant pacifiers out there. There were huge containers in the shape of the Eiffel Tower, giant plastic steins fit to hold a good two litres of alcopop, gold coloured plastic champagne bottles worn on chains around people's necks like the most nouveau riche of bling. Though at first hilarious to my mind, it quickly became distasteful and then a total turn off. Giant babies sucking on their bottles, looking at the shiny lights.

This is what I mean about being in the wrong frame of mind when it came to appreciating Las Vegas. The idea is to see the tackiness and artifice for what it is and not be angry at it for failing to meet your standards for what passes as fun; Vegas is not a normal place and you should not have normal(ish) expectations of it.I'm 98% certain my attitude would have been different had we not gone through the horror story of getting there from LAX. I mean, we lost an entire day that we'd scheduled to get over the flight. But after finishing my litre or so of rum and strawberry slushie, I had my photo taken with some women dressed up a sexy lady cops, watched some bouncy go-go dancers and bought a novelty plastic cup. This was sufficient for me and the next day was much better.

The next day, we went to the Grand Canyon.

1 comment:

  1. Vegas is insane. My experience was kind of like yours, trying to relax and enjoy it for what it was. Eventually I started to enjoy the sheer insanity of it. Even if I wasn't getting out of it what you're supposed to, I was fascinated by the sheer chutzpah of the artifice.

    Plus, when I was there the Star Trek Experience was still a thing.