I didn’t make it to the desert, the edge or otherwise, and left all drugs back home—I’ve been incredibly sober the last two days, but I think artificial stimulation, at this point, would cause utter mental breakdown.
We suffered through a three-hour delay at JFK—one hour waiting for the world’s bitchiest flight crew and another two waiting for fucking catering! (See Debbie Rochon’s rant about flying here). We were kicked repeatedly for seven hours by two restless kids and their horrifying gorgon of a mother. The Pakistani air force pilot next to us laughed each time the plane captain’s voice came over the PA, to update us about the catering delay. The stewardesses were even crankier than the passengers. Finally, we landed in the
We were in
We were staying at the ass-end of the Strip, at Circus Circus. In Hunter Thompson’s famous tome, Circus Circus was a gaudy, crowded haven for middle class
Circus Circus, like the rest of the hotel/casinos, is more than a mile long, with multiple levels, towers and acres of noisy, bright, flashing, beeping slot machines. There are zombies perched in front of these mechanical monsters, staring with either dead eyes as the electric images flash at the beckoning of each coin or “credit” fed it, or fixed with an intensity that seem to focus their inner will, hoping this next spin will make them a winner. It’s bright, loud, hard—if there aren’t slot machines, there are hallways of shops and souvenir stands. There are video game arcades for the children—those forbidden from the gaming pits—and one of the largest indoor theme parks in
You have to pass through these areas to get to the elevators that will, possibly, if you take the right one, take you to your room. The rooms here are drab, ugly, the televisions small, the wireless internet expensive—they don’t want you in here. They want you out there. Spend money. Go to the buffet—gorge yourself on multiple trips or you won’t get your money’s worth. Sit at the no-armed flashing bandits, middle-aged women of all nationalities will bring you drinks while you sit and feed the Daleks Of Chance.
Outside, it’s hot. Not East Coast hot, though. A dry, pressing heat, like standing in a microwave oven, sucking moisture from your body—you’re not sweating; you’re evaporating. But fortunately, you’re just a few feet away from another magnificent multi-mile hotel. And inside, the average temperature is about 55 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll pass outdoor cafes, too, where the icy air conditioning spills out into the street, and you’ll marvel that there aren’t tornadoes forming on the stairs.
Most of the hotels are owned by the same corporation, so you can access one from another via a catwalk. You take
I pass by a stand selling margaritas by the yard—above me is a sign advertising Carrot Top’s show. Next to that, one for Criss Angel the (mind)Freak. I hope to see either of them in the hotel. Maybe throwing a punch at either of these idiots would break my trance.
There’s almost too much to see. Take away the “almost”. Here we are, moving as a pack, the happy family among other happy family packs, and we’re in an aquarium in the center of Mandalay Bay, accessible through the casino and past the opulent hotels—and a winery where “angels” fly up to retrieve your $300+ bottle of Chardonnay.
We leave the family—I have to pick up my tuxedo at the Men’s Warehouse. It’s not on the Strip. It’s
It takes us another half hour to navigate our way back to the rooms. We stop for directions—two carnival workers don’t speak English, two others have never been to the hotel portion of Circus Circus. None of the diorama maps contain the phrase “You Are Here”—they don’t want you to know. They want you to be lost. Lost people can be distracted by the lights, the sounds, the colors, the alcohol, food, carnival games, toys, Daleks Of Chance. I wish I’d grabbed one of the coupons for the discount hookers, just to say I had one.
Our room has a beautiful view of “Old Vegas”.
Tomorrow, who knows? We want to go to Old Vegas, and stomp around where Elvis and the Rat Pack and the mob had all tread before us. I want to drink a Hurricane out of a three-foot glass and put the expense out of my mind. I want to put the cynicism to rest, forget how much of the world—how much of
I’m waiting now. For Amy and her mom and sisters to return from their spa treatments. For Brian, the groom, and his best man to return from another trip to… somewhere. In three hours, I’ll don the hard-earned tuxedo and watch my youngest sister-in-law marry the man she loves. Later, Amy and I will join the newly-married couple and our extended family in a gondola ride inside the Venetian Hotel and Casino. Inside. The inside technology here is amazing.