Friday, May 20, 2011
I’m not a fan of Las Vegas. I’ve been there twice, both times for a convention. The first time I saw the strip, I was awed by the unending gawdiness of it. I was with a friend who also had never been there; we were literally speechless. We nicknamed it “Hideocrity.” C’mon, tell me that picture isn’t ugly!
It’s just too much - too much everything. Too much glitz. Too much money. Too much waste. Too much sex. Too much food. Too much consumerism. It’s unabashed greed. There’s something approaching disrespect about a 1/10 scale Eiffel Tower; the original was the engineering marvel of its day, but, in Vegas, it’s just a lawn ornament. It’s disarming to walk under a ceiling painted with a tromp l’oeil scene of a night sky so flawless that you can’t tell you’re indoors.
Yet, Las Vegas has its benefits, too. The surrounding territory is stunningly beautiful. It’s a great home base, in close proximity to lots of sights, including the Grand Canyon. Cirque du Soleil always has 3 or 4 concurrent shows in Vegas. And don’t overlook the kitsch, of which Vegas is king.
The Sahara, a symbol of the dwindling old kitsch of The Strip, closed recently. I stayed there both times I was in Vegas; in cement jungles, I try to choose accommodation on the border, which isn’t as claustrophobic. The Sahara was a great, 50’s era Morrocan-themed, double-towered hotel/casino. It was a fun, comfortable place, with a staff impeccably friendly. On a 130° day, we got in the glass elevator of the 6-story parking structure. The sun streamed through the glass as the elevator lurched a bit and we suddenly realized that, if the power went out, we would be dead within minutes; we took the stairs for the rest of the trip.
Like it or not, I’m sure I’ll find myself in Las Vegas again, at one point or another. It’s too bad I won’t be able to stay at the Sahara . . .