Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Fantastic West

Last in my series about Las Vegas' allure:

Las Vegas accomplishes a neat trick: it lets any visitor believe that they are at the center of the experience the Desert City offers.
-Hal Rothman, Neon Metropolis

Going west for most people in the 19th century meant the chance to reinvent yourself, to turn your luck around, to go from a life of no prospects, no fun, no future, to endless adventure and making your own rules. It still does for many. Las Vegas takes these desires and makes them into shiny, blinky, tasty, sensory experiences. You could win a fortune on one spin of the reels! You could be down one minute and on top the next. You could go to Las Vegas a total loser and come home a winner. This is the fantasy promised since Americans began going west. What met them on their journey was a lot of bad news (cholera, broken wagon wheels, sick family members, weather, you get the idea) and not surprisingly, a ton of other people looking for the same thing.

Of course, nobody really does turn their life around in Las Vegas, but I heard somewhere it's possible and the slightest possibility keeps hope alive. Maybe I won't have to climb my way out of student loan debt for years and years. Maybe I could write one big check and laugh about it, like it's nothing. I work pretty hard and I make very little. Is it so wrong to wish for a fortune just for pulling a lever? I mean, it could change my life you guys. Every night there is my night.

Next time: Images from our tour of the Neon Boneyard, and extra special pics of the Moulin Rouge. I totally trespassed and got pictures that are beautiful, sad, and, amazing. Also, my Christmas Eve cookies.

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