October 14, 2010
What Is It About Las Vegas That Keeps Us.........
Every time I come to Las Vegas, it seems as if I need to allow a transition time, you know, to mentally go from earth, rock, water and soil living to glitter, lights, martinis, and girls with bunny outfits.
I always have this sad melancholy feeling when I walk through a casino, particularly late at night and for some god awful reason, despite the way it makes me feel, I do it each and every time, as if its tradition...usually when I first arrive or on my last night.
I do this to observe and I tend to go deeper each time I do it. Since I'm not a gambler, the only thing of interest to me is people watching as I make my way through the maze of red, orange and mustard carpets and hallways that all look the same.
Vegas is typically known for its excellent service, so much so that you sometimes feel as if shop owners, restaurant managers and casino owners practice smiling and reciting phrases that please and woo people into their parlor on an hourly basis....in front of a mirror of course.
People go out of their way to help you, regardless of what their job is. On more than one occasion, the carpet cleaner asked me if I was lost and needed help.
And lost I always was and always am, on every single trip......all the casinos look the same, smell the same, feel the same - even the restaurants become one big blur.
Wasn't that Noodle cafe the same one I ate in last time yet, hmmm, I didn't make it to the Luxor last time. What about the sushi bar? (the other one had the neon blaring lights from the baseball game too, didn't it?)
Side note in case you love sushi - it's incredibly expensive here, so leave it for the coast, either coast, unless you're on an expense account or don't mind forking over triple what you're accustomed to paying.
Oysters were $3.50 a pop at one mid-range seafood restaurant. Honestly, where on the planet are oysters $3.50 a pop except for maybe Tokyo?
It's my first time staying at the Luxor Hotel, a hotel I rarely think of booking since its so much further from the strip and frankly, every time I have thought of its Egyptian exterior, I've said to myself, really, Egypt?
Yet, I really loved Egypt when I went what now feels like a million moons ago, so why not? And btw, it's less crowded and less noisy than other properties, not to mention the fact that it is connected to Mandalay Bay, which has its own charm, a theatre, tons of restaurants and hosts various events, including this year's BlogWorldExpo.
And, I learned for the first time that the Excalibur, the Luxor and the Mandalay Bay all have the same owner.....Imagine this guy's books at the end of the year?
Armed with fun passes, a card that gets me VIP status so I can go to the front of lines, a freebie ticket for a vocalist in a nightclub that starts daily at 10:30 pm and a book with the latest entertainment, I walked from one end to the other, never quite sure when one hotel ended and the next one began.
With the wrong discount card for the wrong restaurant buffet in the wrong hotel, I was a third the way through my meal before I realized...........the manager was so nice about my having the 'wrong coupon,' that I felt as if I should show up at the wrong place often. After all, maybe I was some high spending poker player so who was he to take the chance at being rude? Although, frankly I look like a regular gambler about as much as I do a 10 year old Chinese drummer.
I decided to meander into shops, not because there was anything I wanted or needed to buy but because I was curious whether any of these shops vying for consumer attention (almost desperately so), would be interested in giving products away to 20 high powered bloggers and tweeters. Why not ask? They didn't seem to 'get the value' of this despite the fact that the shops were empty, the shop managers lonely and their prices more often than not, through the top.
Great pair of brown boots I thought. $880, she tells me. What about the cute little baby blue cotton top? $425. More people watching? I think not. At this juncture, I was only here for a day and already people's clothes and smiles were blurring into the slot machine lights as if they were one.
It's not as if I'm new to Vegas either. Given how many times I've been here, you would think I'd have routine down, a system in place and tons of friends living in the burbs who want to come out and play off the strip at conference time.
Unlike CES and the fact that I made it here after the Digital Dealer rush and before the BlogWorldExpo one, there was no one in front of me in the taxi line, probably the first time I've ever experienced a smooth sail from the Vegas airport.
My experience -- each and every time -- is anywhere from an hour to a three hour taxi wait, even if you scare the living daylights out of people by shouting "Anyone going to the MGM? Anyone going to the Luxor? And.....want to share a ride?" I always do this and I always get frightening or blank stares (one of the two), as if I had blue hair, was carrying a gun and wearing black leather studs.
So, I wait like cattle with the rest of them because someone is too freaked out to say, hell yeah, who else in this insanely long line is going to the Luxor? 4 people in this cab, 3 over here. What's wrong with a little more efficiency I'm thinking, so the cabbie can drop us off and then fly back and pick up another 3 or 4.
Back to the lonely people part. When you spent a couple of hours in a taxi line, you have a lot of time to people watch, more time than when you meander through a casino late at night. The faces. The eyes. The stand. The stares.
Why are they all here I always want to know? Do they want to know why the hell I'm here? I'm not wearing a conference badge -- yet; I'm not smoking a cigarette and I'm not on my phone.
Okay, sometimes I'm on my phone and sadly in an addictive kind of way that gamers know all too well, I checked into the McCarren International Airport, waiting waiting waiting for Foursquare to do its thing. Blackberry crash. Reboot phone. Hell, it's not as if I don't have time on my hands. Check in. C'mon Foursquare, stop crashing will you?
Then in my addictive digital silence, I look up again briefly to people watch again. After being reminded how frustrated I am about the inefficiency of airport cab lines, I look back down to 'the device' and tweet how ridiculous the system is and that the damn taxi line still doesn't seem to be moving. AHHHH, but not this time. For the first time, I sailed through and $24 later, I was at my hotel.
Because of the Blackberry, the zoning out, the people watching, the occasional note taking, could someone in the taxi line or the buffet line or the casino tell why I was here in this crazy, lonely, wild, always lit place where people come to forget about life for awhile? Could they tell I was forced here because of some industry show that guilts marketing people into 'showing up?'
Or, was I like them? Dragged to Vegas for some business meeting, a customer convention, a wild girls weekend, a gambler's revenge, a week of non-stop drinking, eating and shows with dancing girls and retired old singers who can't make it anywhere else?
Am I making a judgment? Perhaps, who knows....what I do know is that the place "feels lonely" whenever I come here despite the lights, the smiles, the parties and the entertainment that suggest otherwise.
And, the people who sit all night in front of those slot machines putting in dollar after dollar, look lonely too. There they sit, hoping that one slot machine will bring them 'more,' more of something to fill the void in their non-Vegas lives, the lives they wish were another reality. That's the thing though isn't it?Coming to Las Vegas allows you to live in another reality, not a permanent one, but one you can create to feel better and fill some kind of void, even if its just for a little while.
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