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.