Parking my RV in the circus circus RV lot for $20 a night, I set out on foot at dusk to go look at the Strip, and aiming first for the Luxor, that giant pyramidal black building about 4 miles up north Las Vegas strip.
It has a powerful light beam shooting into the night sky above.
It’s visible from everywhere – a good landmark.
Or so I thought.
I believe it used to be a green krypton laser but perhaps it accidentally shot some planes down or blinded some now-stranded aliens so here tonight it’s “just” a powerful arc-light of some sort.
On the way, I take in & easily enter the Bellagio, the Venetian, and all usual spots and am gradually unnerved & immediately disoriented to the extent that I could neither picture which direction to walk once inside, nor how to get out, even by backtracking.
I have a very good sense of direction so feeling quite thrown.
Google Maps is thrown too because it is not good in large pedestrian areas.
I ask various staff for the exit and they seem a bit confused too.
Really thinking here some people, like the cleaning staff, never actually sleep and simply wander the galleries with their sit on sweepers or tote bags for ever & ever.. and No when I ask, the cleaners do not speak any English I can understand.
Perhaps these are the Alians the Luxor Laser shot down? My mind crumbles…
Knowing what fire marshals would have to say about all this even in the state of Nevada,
I follow some green EXIT signs awhile, but the only effect of this is to take me into some other concrete skyway or laboratory of human confusion, and not Down to the Strip’s street..
Sometimes, to look down on the street below seems to make it recede and become harder to navigate towards, amongst the dazzling lights and unusual sounds.
I suppose the idea is that if a fire breaks out you don’t have to continue gambling in that particular building and level but can continue throwing the money away obliviously elsewhere, forever on the run on the same level from encroaching flames.
Is this what Hell is like? forever running, never escaping the flames?
Is that Sulphur I smell? or cleaning compounds?
Is this just :“Hell Is Other People”?
No, everyone is very friendly if preoccupied, even if Alien.
MGM Appears to own everything so perhaps it just doesn’t matter anyway. I can go anywhere I choose but it’s always still here anyway.
More or less at random at some point I find myself back on the street again.
Totally turned around and the Alien beacon of the Luxor is in completely the wrong part of the sky. It was an unaccustomed act of faith to assume that that remains the correct direction to walk..
Yet the fun is far from over. I have made it somehow to the street,
this notably achieved without actually thinking about it.
Being on foot I now have to cross a number of intersections that are thoughtfully railed off against foot traffic.
Very reasonably an overhead pedestrian bridge is provided in several places, Easy to locate and use. However, once exiting the skyway on the far side back we are inside among the slot machines.. (No, that’s incorrect, none of them take coins anymore –
They are now all video poker and fruit machines using Credit of various sorts)
And a further disorienting experience all over again.
How does one get back down to the street again, having crossed it? I want to be outside again!
The answer appears to be, “at random” Because following exit signs again does not have the desired effect at all.
I was never so preoccupied that I did not have plenty of time to observe my fellow wanderers And environment..
It’s an enormously eclectic blend of humanity who also seemed happily disoriented, nobody going in any particular direction as you might expect ants to do,
..but rather randomly jiggling around to and fro back-and-forth and intersecting each other, Borg-like, Seemingly purposeless, but with an over arching urge to be fleeced and entertained.
Here I am thinking and writing about it when the words of Hunter Thompson come to mind where he describes “gonzo journalism”: being both the observer and the observed at one & the same time rather than an objective judgment.
I am not IN this Human Jam, I Am It.
Tat Tvam Asi!
I am not about to be fleeced, except mentally, and I am definitely in the belly of the the exact same beast as all my fellow errants.
I would not say there is fear and loathing here now because the Las Vegas I visited years before, in 1979, hitchhiking on my second trip to the United States, was more the one that Hunter Thompson knew- a scruffy dry dump prominently operated by the mafia for the sole purpose of shady gambling and indulging the prostitution unavailable legally elsewhere.
Now it has a Disneyesque feel>
All neon has been replaced with stunningly impressive giant LED displays , Over-the-top stage shows, solid national conferences all the time for everything you could imagine And the ever present brassy posters for prostitution where, however, no naughty bits may ever even be hinted at visually Let alone be shown uncovered.
Why, even the squeaky-clean Mormon Osmonds perform here, albeit their poster artwork is as they looked in their heyday, the 1970s.
(Later on, off the strip somewhat I found pole-dancing supply merchants, lap dancing trainers and my favorite- A Taoist restaurant)
Las Vegas is plagued with innuendo about winning, sexuality, self assurance, celebrity and nostalgia, without ever having to come up with real thing, whatever that is.
A loudspeaker outside a casino proudly announces over & over that within, they would give you $20 back of the first $100 you lose there.
This simple mind bending illogicality Is still ringing in my head.
So, good old fashioned carny hawking and shystering in doorways are now gone.
A discrete law-enforcement shoos away the homeless & the bankrupt,
as if here at least, such things do not happen,
while city fathers utterly gentrify–yet somehow never lose-the remaining tasteless job of separating anybody from his, her or its money.
Alcohol used to be the drug of choice here; now there are cannabis ads everywhere.
14 miles walk and some 6 hours later I return exhausted to my RV, mostly aerially and take a shower having spent nothing but $4 for some antiperspirant and fruit juice, while marveling how many extra miles were added by the circumambulations the fitness watch shows.
I lie there exhausted, mind numbed yet totally alive thinking how I love loathing Las Vegas
I loathe that I love it, I fear-..
I fondle it. For it expresses my very own confusion and disorientation,
What I could not reveal to myself. Yet, I love Mr. Monkeymind.
This place is my nemesis, my brain hacking tool.
My brain train wrecker and habit smasher. Nothing here is as it seems.
Not one thing. So, where?
It worked, and I thank it. And will stay away for another few years, digesting. my temple visit of being turned upside down over,
Next day I return to starry eyed wanderings in the remote desert just a few dozen miles away. The illusion of Real has far better clarity here that I can at least believe without much question.
Going North again
With my now less challenged so called self,
whatever that self now is become,
Where I don’t have to think
quite so much