Vegas Nerve

On Tuesday Andrew and I arrived home from a weekend trip to Las Vegas.

It was my first time in Vegas and I’ve spent the week upon return mulling over my experience, trying to conclude how I feel about it. Best I can do is to admit that I’m conflicted.

Both of us are too pragmatic to be into gambling, so the visit was more an observation – and maybe a toe-dip into the pool – of cultural excess, and – oh my – what an array of excesses!

A “small” cup of gelato at the Bellagio.

The excesses I loved about Vegas:

  • the constant sun (an average of 300 sun-filled days a year),
  • the dry warmth (only 4.5 inches of rain annually),
  • our hotel (thankfully Andrew is as much of an introvert as I am, and he considerately booked us into a hotel sans casino. We both loved the Mandarin Oriental, set right in the middle of the strip and yet so quiet with it’s entrance tucked below street level, around the corner of the main drag),
  • the theatricality of the hotels,
  • how incredibly clean everything was, including the streets.

An abridged list of excesses that disturbed me greatly:

  • the overly abundant size of food portions,
  • the high, high end shopping mall beside us where the employees stood around bored most of the day waiting for that one person to come in and buy a $10,000.00 accessory (watch, jewelry, or purse),
  • the incessant club music that played 24/7 along the main strip, piped through speakers strategically placed throughout the street gardens,
  • the size of the drinks sold at the countless bars dotted throughout the street and malls (does anyone really need a 48 oz margarita? Yikes!)

I managed to control my wide-eyed shock long enough to enjoy two shows: Absinthe – an astonishing adults-only circus in a tent outside Caesar’s Palace, and Penn & Teller at the Rio – the reason we went to Vegas in the first place…they’re not going to be performing forever, you know.

Even though we eschewed the gambling, binge drinking, and “girls delivered to your door” debauchery, we did succumb to a bit of culinary excess over the weekend by dining at Picasso, a Michelin star restaurant whose décor is comprised of 32 original Picasso’s.

And despite the city’s best efforts we found other pockets of actual culture over the weekend, too: the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art, currently featuring a Warhol show with works of his I hadn’t seen, including a few of his sculptures, a large scale Rauschenberg print (also at the Bellagio), buskers busting their chops in the hot, hot sun, and Funwi Numfor, a poet pushing his self-published, second volume of poetry – titled The Difference Is Me – on the pedestrian bridge between the Aria and Walgreen’s (Andrew and I bought a copy – the mere act of attempting to sell poetry on the Vegas strip is a cultural performance piece. How can you not support that?)

Overall, Vegas surprised me.

I anticipated that I’d be overtly repulsed by Vegas.  What I didn’t expect was to have such a fascination with the surrealness of it…enough that I feel I’d like to go back and experience more of it.

But not for a good, long while. 🙂

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