Thursday, November 03, 2005

Las Vegas Planet Elsewhere

Well, last week I went on a business trip to Las Vegas and Atlanta, with a sojourn to Connecticut too.

Of all the places I have ever been, Vegas has to be the least connected to reality. It is beyond belief. A town, in the middle of the desert, just 100 years old, comprising a single street 2.8 miles long of the most outrageous pastiche architecture, the whole purpose of which is to suck in and accommodate as many people as possible whilst separating them from their money.

Over three evenings we walked pretty much the whole Strip. Which is a feat in it's own right. Why? Because the whole geography of the place is designed to get you into the hotels whose casinos swallow you whole, and confuse you as to your whereabouts so much that you can never find your way out again.

Any stroll along The Strip involves the pavement regularly diverting straight into each successive hotel lobby. Attempting to walk past and rejoin the sidewalk further on involves you taking your life in your hands, dicing with death negotiating the huge vehicular accesses to each vast emporium.

If you do succeed in regaining the sidewalk beyond, your every pace is dogged by Mexican-Americans, of both sexes, flicking cards in your face offering "sexy college girls" or "beautiful asian babes" in your hotel room for a $65 strip. One road back from and parallel to The Strip is lined with "gentlemen's clubs" and strip joints of increasing seediness.

And the lights! The whole place is lit up like the gaudiest of Christmas trees. Each hotel thrusting it's own pastiche theme at you.... New York New York; Paris; Venetian; Luxor; Mandalay Bay; Treasure Island; Circus Circus.... you get the picture. The two with a bit of class are The Bellagio and the brand new Wynn Hotels.

The Treasure Island hotel features a free show several times in the evening at it's enormous outdoor lake between the hotel and the sidewalk. A full-size pirate ship replica sails round the lake crewed by sparsely clad pirate hunks to be beguiled by even more sparsely clad female sirens aboard another full size sailing ship. Fireworks, music and dancing (or gyrating in a provocative way, to be more precise) ensue.

At the more up-market Bellagio, the even more enormous lake between the hotel and the sidewalk features a twice-nightly fantastic fountains-and-music show. Very graceful and very well attended.

The Wynn on the other hand goes for a full size 18 hole golf course with forests of pine recently constructed between the building and the back of the block.

It was simply dumb-founding. We certainly felt 3 nights was quite long enough, and we were glad to leave in the end.

Atlanta, by comparison, was sedate, charming, friendly, human in scale, and beautiful. I could live there. The people were great, the architecture superb, and the Georgia accent as beguiling as Calleigh of CSI: Miami!

For the whole photo set, go to the USA set at my Flickr site.