Memories Can Be Unreliable

So, it’s time to consult the notes for a quick précis, considering my blogging schedule quickly disappeared in a haze of vokda and duelling pianos. To sum up:

  • Cute waitresses winking at you and giving you an incredibly strong drink — teh awesome.
  • Travis and I talked about Transformers and computer games. Not a lot has changed.
  • Duelling piano bars must be destroyed with hammers. And napalm.
  • I was so right about the Coyote Ugly bar.
  • Buying The Shock Doctrine in the dark heart of the American Dream seemed entirely appropriate.
  • Fish costs more than meat in the desert because you have to ship it in…but don’t you have to ship meat in too?
  • The Cheesecake Factory: Skip breakfast. And any other meals you were planning.
  • Ow, the blisters.
  • Having an open tab behind the bar makes being 900ft up in the air so much easier to take.
  • We have a consensus that the Democrats should field Hilary/Obama, because if they’re going to go down in flames, they might as well try and get the South’s heads to explode.
  • I missed the South.
  • Which I never thought I’d say.
  • Vegas at night is still out-of-this-world.
  • But staying too long will turn you into a Communist. Not a good idea in a Right To Work state.
  • Plan to stay a while in McCarran Airport. Like Raleigh/Durham, they haven’t adapted well to the post-911 world.
  • Apple are liars when it comes to wireless keyboards.

That will do for now, but there’ll be something else at the weekend. In the meantime, enjoy the pictures!

currently playing: PJ Harvey – White Chalk

Back In Reality

A wrap-up of the Lost Vegas days to follow soon, I think…

(anybody know whether anything else uses the LaCie power supply connector?)

currently playing: New Order – Ceremony

Two Word Response.

And the second word is ‘off’. We do not need any importing of American military culture thank you very much. And I think most soldiers would rather prefer relative anonymity and still being able to get medical treatment over America’s superficial discounts.

This is not Rome.

Never Mess With A Man Coming Down From A Cinnabon High

They are goooood. And that’s my food for the day!

I’m sure I really didn’t buy very much, so I have no idea why my bag was so heavy this morning.

Take These Flowers Away.

Extended Play.

Or: in the end, I can only blame myself.

Arrrrrr!

SHIVER ME TIMBERS!

California! And Capitalist Whore Okay!

I had to leave. The machines were getting to me. The carpets were closing in. There was only one thing to do: get out of town. After one day.

However, being without a car, my options were somewhat limited. I settled for Primm, a city of the border of Nevada and California. Primm is home to a fashion outlet mall serviced about five times a day by a shuttle bus from the MGM Grand. The choice was clear: if I'm going to be stuck in this haven of capitalism, I might as well get something tangible in return rather than putting it in a slot machine.

I may have a Converse problem. I think I now have five different colours.

The mall also features a gas station, which would normally be rather unremarkable, except that the station is over the state line, so they can sell tickets for the Californian lottery. Which is a lot more complicated than ours…so many different options to chose from. But eventually I sorted it out and gave $1 to the California state funds. Hurrah for me!

In other purchases, I now have a Roddy Womble shirt. Now, that probably means nothing to the two or three people reading this who even know who Roddy Womble is, but I've been desiring one ever since their 2003 concert in Chapel Hill. So yay me!

I couldn't stay too long though, as I had to get back to meet Richard (and to tell the truth, after about an hour or so, there's not much to do). I do hope his bar experiences improve. Perhaps with a bit more sleep behind him tomorrow, and us paying attention to bar/restaurant boundaries, we'll do better!

More Things To Remember About Vegas

One: The Strip isn’t actually that long, but in 35˚C heat, it soon stretches over the horizon.

Two: Vegas never sleeps, but shops don't open until 11am on Sunday for the most part.

So, yes, I was stupid. I got up rather early so I could get a lot of things done before I met Travis in the afternoon. I could have stayed in bed a bit longer. At 8:30am, the heat was bearable; warm, but not quite burning up the tarmac off the roads. Just the right weather for my trek.

Perhaps in a premonition of what was to come, I went to the monorail to get a head start, planning on walking back later. Perhaps you can work this puzzle out: the system costs $5 for a single trip, $9 for a double-trip, $9 for an all-day pass, and $40 for a three-day pass. Another Las Vegas hustle? Or just the oddest ticket system I've ever seen?

Still, I got down to the Imperial Palace stop, got off, and started the walk to the Fashion Show Mall. It was around 9am. I realised two things: it was getting much hotter with every passing minute and that I could feel my face burning. Not good.

This was compounded twenty minutes later, when I finally reached the Mall, dehydrated and already reddened, only to discover it wasn't open for another hour and a half. Oops.

I trudged all the way back up to Caesar's Palace, dimly remembering a CVS on the road back in 2000 but not finding it (I discovered later that it was much further up, next to New York - New York in fact), before finally surrendering and buying sunblock from a shop in the Flamingo Hilton.

The city was filling up fast. Las Vegas is the end point of The American Dream, where money mixes with the two great cultural taboos: alcohol and sex. Back in the 1990s, there was a push to reposition Vegas as a family-friendly venue, but somewhere along the line, they must have decided that it wasn't making as much money, because the adult world is firmly in charge again. The MGM ripped up its theme park, replacing it with shopping and nightclubs, billboards mounted on trucks advertise naked girls that 'want to meet you now!'; even Cirque du Soleil do a topless show. Only the M&Ms, Circus-Circus, and the Excalibur remain.

I was propositioned by a hooker today. Though I didn't realise until about two hours later.

Eventually, I finally got into the mall. Where the Apple Store came up empty on wireless keyboards and my 1920s fixation broadened further. Borders Express tried to tell that Naomi Klein doesn't have a book out on Monday, and the Sanrio store is shockingly pink.

In fact, I think that aside from a pleasant couple of hours phoning home and talking to Laura, I think I've been walking around shops all day. Which isn't strictly Vegas is it?

Richard arrives tomorrow. I hope the machines don't traumatise him…

For Irregular, Bite-Sized Updates

You’ll be wanting Twitter.

Eyes Peeled

What you have to remember is that the hustle begins in Vegas as soon as you get off the the plane. As soon as you step into the terminal, you’re presented with a bunch of fruit machines just waiting to be played. In the airport.

It continues at the hotel, when you step up to the registration desk. You have a pre-paid room, but did you know that they have a few large suites available? And don't they look good? With a jacuzzi as well? You don't want that one? Well, here's a cheaper suite…in the end, there's no real escape from the hustle; you're in Vegas, therefore you will lose money somehow. I ended up getting the $5/day 'resort package' so I didn't ruin the clerk's day completely. Although he got his revenge by apparently sticking me on the the floor where the club overspill sleeps at 4am. But then, in the grand scheme of Vegas, it's a victory.

One thing I forgot, having spent most of the five years in North Carolina, is how different alcohol is handled here. There probably are open container laws, but people walk down the street drinking, girls that look unconvincingly over 21 swig from Budwiser glasses or buy cans of malt liquor at service stations; it's like an average British town…oho. Except that every other woman seems to have work done, or at least in the area I've explored so far (the Stratosphere and the Sahara; forgive me - I've been up for more than 24 hours!).

But now, the city has claimed me. Tomorrow, I will explore the monorail, and get to the truth of whether OJ Simpson carried out an armed robbery on the Palace Station...