Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Las Vegas update

We’re back from our trip west. Coming home of the red-eye was much less hectic than the two days it took us to get out West. The plane was only four minutes late this morning, well within the margin of error for a transcontinental flight. As I try to avoid saying much about family here, I’ll just acknowledge that I now have another daughter and I hope she and my son have a good life together.

They got married in Las Vegas, in the “world famous La Bella Wedding Chapel.” I didn’t know it was world famous having first heard of it when the invitation arrived. It turns out this was the place Mike Tyson married his most recent victim wife, and just in case that those of us who’d gathered would have missed that we were in the “world famous La Bella Wedding Chapel,” the preacher inserted the line three different times into his ceremony. The wedding chapel in Cana, where Jesus changed water into wine, was only mentioned once.

I love Nevada (and you’ll get to hear about more places in that state over the next few weeks), but I can’t stand Las Vegas. It’s so over-the-top and fake. Steve Wynn, one of Vegas’ top developers once said something along the lines that Vegas is what God would have done at creation if he’d had the cash. But I can’t believe that the God who created the Grand Canyon and the smallest desert flower that blooms in March and who sends the most wonderful sunrises and sunsets across the desert floor is that tacky. In Vegas, you’re crowded by people as your eyes feast on constant water features or are blinded by neon light, all the while the noise level is so great that you can’t think straight. It’s everything that the desert isn’t. But enough of my rant, I was excited to go see what this city was up to since the economic downturn. I wasn’t overly impressed.

They’re back! At every corner of every intersection along the strip are six or eight guys who assault you with cards advertising women who supposedly will make your every dream come true. Ten years ago or so, the city was doing a pretty good job of keeping these “Wetback Pimps” off the street. Now, I assume the police are stretched so thin that they don’t have time. It may not be politically correct for me to say this, but I think a few INS agents could clean out the city in a manner of hours.

Of course, Las Vegas is a multi-cultural/multi-national city. People from all over the world flock there and one of the benefits of this multi-nationalism is the food offerings. That said, I wish I had time to explore a particular sushi bar in a strip mall south of the city. The place was called “Sushi Mon” and I couldn’t help but wonder if the Jamaicans aren’t trying to weasel their way into the sushi business… By the way, if any of you don’t know the origins of sushi, you really should read Roy Blount’s short story “I Don’t Eat Dirt Personally,” in his collection of southern humor.

Another thing I found strange along the strip was the advertisement of a “Mini-Kiss” concert. Silly me, I thought a mini-kiss was a peck…

And finally, Las Vegas is the place that you can buy all kind of tee shirts that you’d never wear in front of your mother. Along the strip there was a place selling shirts with silhouettes of pole dancers and the slogan, “I support single mothers.” Who would wear such a shirt? But as I reflected on this, I realized that it is probably more truth in such a statement than I’d want to admit. Of course, it isn’t because the wearer of the shirt has compassion, but the desperate situation of many single mothers. (And before you ask, no, I didn’t buy a shirt.)

In addition to the wedding and meeting an old friend in Las Vegas, another highlight was driving down to Boulder Dam early on Sunday morning. The city was as quiet as it gets and the sun just rising over the distant mountains as I drove down Boulder Highway. I wanted to see the new bridge over Black Canyon, which diverts traffic from the dam itself. Ever since 911, there has been concern about traffic over the bridge (they no longer allow trucks to travel over it as a way to protect the dam). In addition, the road winding down into the canyon is slow and the new bridge will be a more direct connection between Southern Nevada and Northern Arizona.

The bridge was something to see, but what was really neat was seeing (and photographing) four desert bighorns sheep on the Arizona side of the canyon. They’ll be more photos and stories to come…


  1. Thanks again Sage ........... I'm anxiously awaiting the coming photo's. I've never been to Vegas, and don't plan on going - all my kids are married so I'm not in danger of being invited there for a wedding. I'm glad your son's wedding went well.

  2. Congrats to the newly wedded couple and you too, for acquiring a new daughter!

  3. Congrats on the wedding. Loved the photos of the world a little outside of Vegas.

  4. I went to a conference in Vegas a couple years ago and enjoyed walking with the crowds in the evening along the Strip, also the nearly realistic canals in The Venetian. Watching the blackjack tables in NY,NY was fun, too. The PBR finals were on in town while I was there, and I caught one evening of that show.

    But everything you say above is true. It's finally a sad town with a glitzy facade. The collapse of the economy has hit it very hard. The comment about God not having the cash to create a world like it says something about what cash can never buy - the breathtaking beauty of Nature itself.

    And congratulations to the new father-in-law. Stay well.

  5. There was a time when I might have enjoyed Las Vegas but not these days. I guess I wouldn't mind seeing the Star Trek hotel.

  6. yeah, think there are other parts of nevada i would rather hit...that shirt is pretty sad actually....congrats ont eh wedding...

  7. Oh, I don't want to think about children getting--gasp !--married.

    I'm with on Las Vegas. As far as I'm concerned, the beautiful State of Nevada is irrevocably tarnished by that abomination.

    (BTW, for a humorous take, find a copy of P.J. O'Rourke's piece where he handicaps The Venetian Hotel with the actual Venice, Italy. Quite the hoot.)


  8. I saw Vegas once from the air at night. We briefly touched down to take on other passengers. It was so strange to see this lit up city in the middle of the desert. I'll probably never go there, unless there is wedding of course. Sounds like an adventure. :)

  9. Love the bighorn sheep shot on the side of the canyon and the photo of the dam, but that mini Kiss concert pic left me wondering if they were kids singing like Kiss or the "Minnie Me" version of the band or WHAT...not that it would really matter to me. I'm a little over Kiss, although I still like their ballad, "Beth."

    Congratulations to the newlyweds! I've never been to Vegas and it's even on my bucket list. Like you I'd rather see The Grand Canyon or another beautiful wonder of the world.

  10. PS - I meant to write "it's NOT even on my bucket list" (referring to Vegas).

  11. Congrats to your son, and best wishes for a long and happy life together.

    Steve Wyn must be as tacky as that saying, and you are right!

  12. Best wishes to the newlywed couple and a whole life of happiness together!

    My younger brother got married in Las Vegas too -by surprise-. I think it was very romantic some years ago.

    I've heard about the beauty of the State of Nevada from a friend who loved the desert and also enjoyed a lot visiting Las Vegas -especially a roller coaster called 'Insanity' placed on top of a hotel...

  13. Congrats on acquiring a new daughter. Your "younger" daughter must be over the moon
    I have never been to Las Vegas either which surprises many people including me. Have relatives and friends there. always meant to take the bus from LA; something always came up. Tried to get my high school reunion to happen there but.....

  14. Never spent time in Las Vegas. I just keep on driving by to more scenic locations.

    By the way, every time I see that dam or its younger brother upstream, I always pray for a rather large and precisely located earthquake. I'm still patiently waiting.

  15. Hello Sage. Congrats on the new DIL. I love your mostly horrified observations about LV. Your reactions speak volumes about what kind of person you are. And you confirm for me why I NEVER will visit LV. It sounds like a version of Hell. Love the ram! He has attitude. xx M.

  16. Wow! Congrats on your son's tying of the that rather interesting location. I've never been to Vegas but I'm not overly impressed, given your fabulous description. It's sad to hear that you get accosted by those sleezy guys at every corner...that's a definite turn-off.

    I would have said those animals were rams! With the horns and all. But, what do I know?

  17. Brother that is the one city in America I have ALWAYS by passed as to lame to tame. I would have been driving out to the residential sections and seeing the houses now vacant that used to command 800k and now sell for 250k.

    Was this a planned wedding?

  18. Mike O'Callaghan - Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge. A Korea vet who was Governor of Nevada and a Man killed with an a euphemism in Afghanistan who was a Arizona Cardinal, and volunteered.
    They know how to name stuff don't they.

  19. Back when we hung out regularly at Applebees we would always joke that we were helping to put the waitresses kids through school. Actually, considering we were pretty good tippers and that we hung out there 3 to 8 times a week, I'm not sure how much of a joke that really was.

    Bighorn sheep? I would have called those rams. See, this is why you need to invent the Sage-apedia iPhone app my friend.

  20. I love the Southwest, but loathe Vegas. (Kinda like that movie, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas? OK, so I never saw the movie. It just popped into my head.)

  21. Thanks for all the comments... Let me correct Bone, that is a ram in the first photo the Desert Bighorn Sheep. A ram is a male sheep and look at the size... on second thought.

    The quote I paraphrased by Steve Wynn was found in David Thomson's book, "IN NEVADA"