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Sunday, July 02, 2006
It is what it is

I've been vacationing in Las Vegas for a little while now, which partially explains my lack of production here at Blog Central. Laziness explains most of the rest.

But I like Las Vegas. A lot of people do, I know, and many others claim to hate it. Interestingly, I probably have more in common with the ones that can't stand it, but I differ with them, because of my impeccably honed sense of irony.

People that love this town like the glitz, the neon, the lights, the noise, the spectacle. Vegas is completely unique, and if it wasn't here, someone would have tried to invent it by now. Most of the things I listed above, well, I can do without. Showbiz and conspicuous displays of wealth aren't really my thing. The ones that dislike it here find it all to be garish, obnoxious, uncouth, and these are sentiments that I can certainly understand. The negative words and phrases that people use to describe Las Vegas, can all certainly be applied to the United States, and I'm sure they would be voiced most loudly by people from other countries.

And yet, they all come here.

Go to any casino downtown, along the strip, or anywhere in the city, and you will hear foreign dialects and accents, and see people from all over the globe. It's a cool thing, really. Even as Hindus enjoy remarkably tasty two-pound Porterhouse steaks, Muslim men swig tall drinks and smoke, and good Christians from Utah utilize the many and varied "escort services" that ply their trade here, it's all just the best kind of good, clean, American fun. Las Vegas is a great place to come and feed your inner hypocrite.

The beauty of Las Vegas is that it never pretends to be subtle or well-intentioned. This city exists to separate people from their money, and it has a thousand ways to do it. All of them work, too.

Last night, I found myself at The Palms, which is one of the newer casino/resorts here, and it caters largely to twenty-somethings, Hollywood types, and professional athletes. It has cultivated a very hip image, and made a niche for itself that didn't truly exist before.

The reason I found myself at this place, is because a friend of mine who lives here had advised me that she could get me tickets to some big show going on at the hotel's brand new swimming pool, which not incidentally, cost $40 million dollars to construct. Now, I just have to see what a forty million dollar swimming pool looks like, so I'm in.

The big show is a band called Camp Freddy, which is really nothing more than Dave Navarro and a bunch of his big-name musician friends, and they do cover songs, mostly classic rock. It's not the kind of thing I would have shelled out eighty bucks a ticket to go see, but of course, I had a hookup, so off I went.

The Palms has a club on its fiftieth floor called Ghost Bar, and there is a beyond-stupid line to the elevators to go up there. The line is so long, that it has its own mobile bar that rolls up and down to sell people drinks while they wait in line for the elevator that will eventually take them upstairs 600 feet to go buy more drinks. I am not shocked at the line, and am long since over being surprised that jaded i-Generation types, who are of course over everything, are dumb enough to wait for hours to be charged a cover and sold overpriced drinks.

The line snakes past a tattoo parlor right in the casino, and it is mobbed, full of young people doing their best to be authentic, and anti-establishment, which they demonstrate by all getting tattoos of barbed wire and Chinese characters that they are unable to decipher. Individuality is a fine thing, as long as everyone agrees to do it together. I ramble past Poseur Tattoo Inc, and head out to the pool.

We're right on time, and the band starts up, covering Suffragette City by David Bowie. It is good. Navarro, who used to be in Jane's Addiction, a truly alternative band, is now a full-on show business whore. I'm not saying that in a negative way, I'm just striving for accuracy. The band sounds great, and is joined at different times by different singers and musicians like Slash from Guns N' Roses, Scott Weiland, formerly of Stone Temple Pilots, and for a little bit, "The Handsomest Man In Rock & Roll" Brandon Boyd from Incubus.

So, Boyd is ready to sing, and Slash and Navarro rip into the opening chords of Whole Lotta Love by Led Zeppelin. Now seeing as how I'm not sixty years old, this is probably about as close as I'm ever going to get to hearing a Zeppelin song covered decently, so life is good. But then it gets better.

I'm staring up at the new $600 million addition they have just opened at The Palms, looking at the suites that have glass jacuzzis that hang out into the ether four and five hundred feet in the air, I'm hearing a pretty solid take on Led Zeppelin at 200 decibels, and I'm surrounded by a swimming pool that cost $40 million dollars.

Then, for some reason, a massive fireworks display begins, just to the east of where we are. It's not coming from The Palms, but some other casino. And it just goes on and on, which I don't mind, because I am an imbecile for loud noises and shiny things.

That's Vegas, baby. And that's America. You pay eighty bucks a ticket to hear musicians play songs they didn't write, and you get a free fireworks show for no reason whatsoever. It doesn't have to be your thing, but if you can't enjoy it, you suck ass.

And then at 130 am, I went inside and ate an enormous plate of Kobe beef meatloaf and mashed potatoes. If I could have, I would have bought a fur coat.

posted at 10:13 PM

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