Friday, January 26, 2007

Heaven or Las Vegas?



Well, the truth is I don't really have any choice. I'm off to Las Vegas this weekend, so heaven will have to wait. Of course there are those who equate Las Vegas with heaven, but I cannot count myself amongst them.

I have never visited Vegas and, truth be told, it would not even bother the nether end of my "100 Places To Go Before I Die" list. Indeed, the only reason I'm going is to attend a work-related conference (if any of you do locate a Las Vegas conference calendar, let me assure you that the Credit Association of Footwear Executives shindig is not the reason for my trip). I did mention to Dearest Wife that we might go early and make a weekend of it, just because, but even my suggestion that we could renew our wedding vows at an Elvis chapel of luuurve failed to entice her.

So, why my lack of enthusiasm? To start with, I derive absolutely no pleasure from gambling; my heart does not flutter at the thought of blackjack, nor does the roulette wheel send me all tilt-a-whirl. On top of that, Vegas has always conjured up for me distasteful associations of grotesque excess and parochialism. I mean, why the bloody hell would anyone want to go see an ersatz rendition of the Great Sphinx of Giza in Nevada? Get on a plane and see the real thing in Cairo! Oh, I see, you want to stuff your face at an all-you-can eat buffet and see that dreadful Celine Dion chick warble all in the same holiday. Ye, gods!!

Yet despite my disdain, I find myself on the eve of my departure actually looking forward to the trip with a sense of morbid fascination, which surprises me. And so I step back and ask myself: why? First, I will admit to an ironic attraction to the kitsch. Skinny Elvis rocks 'n' rules, but Fat Elvis enthralls. Let the white tigers go free, I say, but that won't stop me from marvelling at the mammoth bronze busts of Siegfried & Roy (& lion) at the Mirage, where I will be staying. Second, despite my dislike of the Disneylandesque imperative to copy and sanitize the foreign for home consumption, I will be intrigued at the engineering required to recreate Venice's Grand Canal, complete with gondolas and gondolieri, at the Venetian. Third, I must admit to being attracted by the theatre and melodrama of a place where everyone seems to be pretending or aspiring to be something or someone else.

So, will I come back disgusted and repulsed, or charmed and exhilarated? Or both? Or neither? Aha, I think I get it: I really don't know what to expect. In many ways for me this is a trip into the unknown, and that's exactly the kind of trip I love the most.

Anyway, Dear Friends, my jaunt means that I'm unlikely to be around much until the latter part of next week. Do take care of yourselves, and I will leave you with a few Vegas tunes to enjoy until we meet again.

Cocteau Twins - Heaven or Las Vegas (buy here or e-here)
Dead Kennedys - Viva Las Vegas (buy here or e-here)
Suicide - Goin' to Las Vegas (buy here or e-here)

P.S. Spoilt Victorian Child is back. Rejoice! Then go visit him here.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

I hope you enjoy your trip, FiL. I've never been to Vegas, so I'm looking forward to your 'research'. Try not to be too bored in the conference.

I did end up at one of this inclusive gambling resorts in the Bahamas once, and even won enough for a dress from one nickle in a slot machine! A Versace dress! My only gambling experience. I quit while I was ahead.

Pet an Elvis for me!

FiL said...

The whole concept of sitting in front of a chrome box while repeatedly pulling a handle I find somewhat onanistic. That said, I once tried to play a slot machine in Atlantic City (Noo Joisey) out of idle interest, but was rugby-tackled by a wiry seventysomething biddy scrreching "That's MY machine!!" Apparently she'd been working five or six machines at a time, and that was one of them. The incident scarred me for life.

I will indeed pet an Elvis for you, should the opportunity arise. And if I come across one Mr Gedge from Leeds hanging around the entrance to an Elvis chapel, I'll tell him to hold on as I've got just the Queen of Outer Space for him, then I'll drop you an e-mail. Pack your Favourite Dress, just in case...

P.S. Word verification is "vlodicy," which is how 'Felicity' comes out when I've had a few.

T&F@tlh said...

FiL,

Have a lot of fun! Wish i could be there to walk the rounds of the spectacular hotels with you so that we could point out the depths of the tackiness and sing a few Elvis songs together!

Look out for the gaming rooms with no clocks, the floors that slope away from the doors to keep you in and all the other tricks of the trade.....

T

Anonymous said...

"a place where everyone seems to be pretending or aspiring to be something or someone else" - that's the internet, isn't it?

To my list of 'all the things I love in this world' I have just added 'the ability to swear in vernacular without missing a beat which is the telltale sign of a sojourn in England'.

Enjoy the trip!

Anonymous said...

Viva Las Vegas! I viva'd Las Vegas once...Wasn't that impressed...I was confused as to what time it was though and I don't know what the rest of the people in Vegas do to get their thrills but losing money while drowning my liver in liquor isn't exactly my idea of a party.

But FiL like you, I had a bit of curiosity just to take in the scenery, see the snazzy hotels and flashing lights ...So I did, as you will and we can both cross it off someone's list of "Places to go Before Death" even if it wasn't on ours. :) Safe and happy travels dear armadillo.

Enda said...

Hi Fil. Enjoy the trip. I was there last May and had a ball, though the company of four friends helped. Not into the gambling much, but I dabbled a bit. Try the Pai-Gow poker - as it's hard to lose much money and passes the time while you savour the (oxygen enriched) atmosphere. A helicopter trip over and into the Gand Canyon was the highlight - "Ride of Valkyries" booming over the headphones while we took off providing the coup de grace.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Rachel that Vegas is one of those "see once before you die" sort of places. It's fascinating to see every sort of excess, decadence and degenerate behaviour excrete itself in such a small geographic area.

You may recall, in Stephen King's The Stand, the children of God hung out in Boulder while the children of the Devil hung out in Vegas. Significantly, only the latter had a well organized police force.

I believe my word verification contains a clue to your conference: midwmc, as in mid-WMC, the mid-year Wood Manufacturers Conference.

Hey, wood, get it, you know, wood ;-) See, I'm getting into the spirit of this week's x-rated Contrast Podcast.

Eliot "Joe" Iguana said...

FiL - I have visions of you turning into Nick Cage in Leaving Las Vegas, going into the liquor store to get one 1.5L bottle after another to light your way to greatness.

You are too much a sucker for kitsch not to love Las Vegas on a subliminal level. Oh, you'll protest mightily at the thought and consciously deplore what you see. But deep down, the real FiL will be lurking saying "Yes!! More! More!"

Enda, my long lost cousin, great to see you lurking about to plague dear FiL the way I do. I didn't realize that they had combined the Grand Canyon with Apocalypse Now. I'm sure FiL's interest is now appropriately piqued!

And as long as were all playing the word verification game, mine has come up as szxjs, which sounds like it should be the sign on a Serbian brothel.

Anonymous said...

And you know, I was just reading these comments, but scrolled down and happened to see the word verification is 'pggifck'.

fb said...

The true soundtrack for Skinny Junkie Elvis is "The Las Vegas Story" by The Gun Club.

FiL said...

Argh! I just switched to New Blogger and most of you have gonew anonymous on me. Oh well, I think I can remember who y'all are...

Dearest Liz, try as I might, I did not manage to pet an Elvis. The one I did pass on the street was moving too quickly, and anyway I think he would have smacked me if I tried to make contact. And 'pggifck' indeed...

Dearest Dearest T: Yes, all those tricks were there - and more! We would have had a grand old time there, you sinful beast you.

Dearest Crash (for I believe it is you?): Goodness, maybe we are all trapped in one, big cyberVegas??

Dearest Rachel, thanks for the kind send-off. It was quite the trip, and though I did not bet and lose the ranch, I fear alcohol was involved. It was necessary to get through it all...

Dearest, Dearest Enda! Lovely to hear from you! I saw, but did not partake in, the pai-gow poker. Funnily, we did have the offer of a Grand Canyon chopper ride, but passed it up for business-political reasons. I did get out to see Red Rock (no, not Red Rocks, you Bono fiend) one afternoon, whose calm and relative desolation was a welcome tonic to Vegas itself.

Dearest Mentok: Nice guess, but no cigar. Nowt to do with wood, I fear. And don't talk to me about x-rated...

Dearest, Dearest Eliot: No 1.5s, but there were a lot of whiskey sours. And yes, you've got me almost bang to rights, though "love is perhaps too strong "a word. Perhaps "admire" or "marvel at."

Dearest Fraser: Nice catch! I had missed that one...