I have to leave Vegas.
There’s a foul energy here that’s making me not well.
I’ve been around. I’ve seen a lot of sleazy stuff, believe me. There’s not much I haven’t seen. I’m not a prude. By no means… Consenting adults, and all that stuff.
But there’s something about this place that saps my soul. Etches it. Leeches it.
Or tries to.
We came in yesterday afternoon. A stopover from Provo in Utah, heading to Palm Springs. It was too long a haul in one day. We had to break it up. And looking at a map, there weren’t many options. So Vegas it was.
My wife and I had been to Vegas before. We were living in LA at the time, and thought we’d take our kids there for Easter. We tried to buy them Easter eggs. It wasn’t possible. We discovered that Las Vegas doesn’t celebrate Easter at all. No acknowledgement of it.
My wife and I aren’t church goers. We follow no established religious faith. But Easter is Easter. And some eggs for the kids, and a certain respect for what Easter represents, is always appropriate.
But in Vegas, Easter doesn’t exist.
That was then. We stayed on the Strip back then, in one of those very large fancy Casinos.
I don’t gamble. I gamble with my work every day. I don’t need to put coins in a slot. I think gambling is throwing money away. I have real issues with the way gambling is advertised in Australia. Gambling has become a huge social problem.
If you’ve got the money to lose and you want to gamble, then fine. Consenting adults and all that stuff. But gambling in Australia, and probably in the US as well, is targeted at lower income earners who don’t have the money to lose.
It plays on their hopes. On their dreams. On their belief that the next coin in the slot, the next throw of the dice, is going to hit the jackpot. Make it all worthwhile.
The House always wins in the long run.
This trip I didn’t want to go back to the Strip, with all that glitz. I wanted to get a sense of the old Vegas, when Sinatra and Dean Martin and those guys were kings.
So I booked us into a hotel on Fremont Street, in downtown Vegas. It was built in 1901, and called the Golden Gate Hotel & Casino, situated right opposite the original Greyhound Bus Depot. I love the architecture and design of that era.
This would be cool, I thought.
And it was cool.
Walking through to the lobby, you are channeled through the Casino, of course, and I noticed the beautiful old fashioned slot machines with leather chairs and foot stools. As a piece of design, they were wonderful.
The room had chunky iron taps in the bathroom, and tiling of the era. Again, beautiful.
As it turned out, the hotel was at the top of what was called the Fremont Street Experience – a closed walkway which straddles about three blocks – about half a mile – covered by a canopy which at night becomes an extraordinary light show.
We had dinner in a Casino buffet – subsidised by gambling, it was an amazing “all you can eat” for $13.99. Steaks cooked to order, crab, shrimp, delectable desserts, bottomless drinks. What they lose on the buffet, they more than make up in the Casino.
I went out last night to go to the drug store and take some photos – and at 10pm all the lights of the surrounding Casinos and shops dimmed, and the The Fremont Street Experience began.
There were massive speakers all through the walkway, and The Who’s Tommy – Pinball Wizard boomed out. Some drunk bikers started playing air guitar. Above on the canopy, an extraordinary light-show started up. Everyone stopped and stared upwards. Out came the cellphones to record it all.
It lasted about five minutes, and it was an amazing spectacle. And then the lights of the Casinos came back up again, and everyone resumed normal programming.
Normal programming was getting shitfaced and ogling the sexy girl/dancers and the Chippendale-esque men with their buffed bodies and socks down their fronts.
I didn’t need to be there.
I’d gone out to get some Vitamin C from Walgreens. I was coming down with something. Vegas had attacked my immune system.
I took the photos I wanted to take, got my Vit C, and headed back to the hotel room where Jennifer was happily reading.
There are places on this earth that have beatific energies. Santiago is one of them. Lourdes is another. So too are the Himalayas. And the Ganges.
And following the laws of nature – Newton’s Third Law of Motion – that for each force there is an equal and opposite force; for each energy there is an equal and opposite energy – then there are places on this earth that have foul energies.
For me, Las Vegas is such a place.
I have to leave. I’ve seen what I wanted to see. I’ve taken my photos and I’ve had a rest. Now it’s time to continue my journey…