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Published: August 25th 2006
I took the stretch limo option ($10 extra) for the ride to the chopper depot for my tour of the Canyon, good but not really ‘grand’……on our return, we flew down ‘the strip’ , the heart of Las Vegas, and this was the Grand part…..I’ve seen many fantastic canyons over the past 14 months, this one is big and all that, but not the most speccy by far…..but the whole Las Vegas thing, Jesus wept, this is soo different…there is NOWHERE like Las Vegas…it’s big and glitzy, total BLING…plastic fantastic, phoney, skin-deep, rip-off-heaven, schmaltzy, smokers’ heaven, money, money, money (all going one way!) ..….and there’s nothing apologetic about the plastic glitz….fantastic..they know what they are and they are damned proud of it…and it works…a totally artificial, contained, cosmos, and all these hotel/casino complexes all trying to be bigger and bolder and more standoutish, fabulous architecture, in fact an architect’s dream, open cheque book, ‘just make it bigger and brighter than all the rest’ instructions…unbelievable!….and from the air, unforgettable! Inside, they’re all the same, miles and miles, millions of poker machines, gaming tables and (more sedate) poker rooms, bored looking people staggering around with bottles or glasses….altho’ many made it to the
pool…they tell me this is why the prices are rising…more tourists, less gambling…as they say…go figure!
I'm at the Tropicana, mid range, great position, opposite the MGM Grand, one of the newer places, something like 5,200 rooms or so!...next to the monorail station...on the other corner, New York New York with a fantastic rollercoaster....at the other end of the monorail the Stratosphere, a 1,300 foot high tower with some really sick rides at the top!!...sooo much mirror glass around here, the enormous, green, MGM, the black pyramid of the Luxor, skinny Ceasar's Palace, it just goes on and on...
And all this out in the middle of the hot and dry high desert……I was expecting a ‘strip’ of joints in the middle of nowhere but it’s a strip in the middle of a huge, constantly expanding city/urban-sprawl nightmare, caught, or limited, by the ranges of mountains on each side of this huge flat plain, it must be 50 miles wide…it’s the fastest growing city in the US (is that some claim to fame?)…they say a new school opens every week!!….but what are they teaching?…or what are they learning?….a bit of schadenfreude for Oz educationalistas!...and did I just hear our history
is being reinvented by a politically selected group of experts??...hasn't our education system been dumbed down enough already?...it's bad enough that the mad monk can't recognise a conflict of interest with his religious bigotry when trying to set a moral/ethical standard for the country? .......people...hello..is anyone there?...who cares??
Ahh, but back in San Fran…and feeling more comfortable, in fact completely comfortable, in my neighbourhood, still lots and lots of poor, disadvantaged, dislocated, fcuked up, disowned, what’s that classic expression?…can’t think of it right now, but the expression that sums up the government’s (our?) attitude to disassociation of these people…ahhh …‘marginalised’….is that the word?…so innocuous, ..so easy to hide behind……..but the people… never threatening, never a worry, is it because they have enough drugs to be harmless?…or enough fear of the forces of law ‘n order?….they’ll always put the bite on me for a smoke or a quarter but never, ever, threatening…but you’ve got to feel it’s close to the surface…these people are seriously left behind…and on every corner there’s one in a wheelchair, sometimes falling out of it….it’s hard to imagine this whole community, and there is a strong sense of community, I can see them all now, much better,
they all know each other, there is a sense of fraternity…but they are 99% black!…or afro-american…as if that name makes it any different!
And what do they think of me?…do they see me as anything different?…I was talking to a guy in the Laundromat, he’s telling me how funny (bad) life is…he;s 38 and pretty fit looking, but telling me how he wishes he had a big house on the hill and no worries about the next meal etc etc….I suggested that the rich folk up on the hill seem to be stressing out exactly the same and maybe there’s a better way…why doesn’t he go up to Alaska where I know there’s a sh*tload of work and really good money (if I could get a Green Card I’d be there for sure)…he looks at me like I’d suggested he go to Mars for a job!….Alaska, man that is sooo far out of the equation….I don’t know!
I found a great local Vietnamese restaurant for lunch…first meal for less than $50,000 since Vegas…hahaha…a Pho restaurant…I knew it was going to be good by the formica tables and placcy chairs…the mock aquarium in the window, the mirrored walls, the plastic plants,
the sticky menus, the seedy Vietnamese clientele, the awful posters on the wall, faded 1980’s calendars…HA…I’m IN…egg noodle soup with double duck…whoo hoo!
If John Lennon was alive he’d turn over in his grave…a plastic, elevator-inspired, muzac version of ‘All you need is Love’….perfecto!! aahhh…as I grapple with the chopstix and the elusive bits of duck…the tinny pseudo harmonica grinds out another classic…like my bowels grinding out another …..no, don’t go there…..ah, memories of mornings on the growler…(thanks Jim)….what a fantastic expression…I’m soo glad our understanding of our different cultures has been so mutually rewarding…Hahahah….dunny paper!
I took the chopper option….the chopper to the canyon…actually “The Grand Canyon”…but as previously mentioned…good but not so grand…it was a unmemorable flight, I can remember some of it….a young heartwed couple from Georgia and a couple of young Venezuelan guys who hadn’t seen anything better…I mean, to be fair, it’s pretty speccy, and also, to be fair, I didn’t get to see the whole 440 kms, I would like to take a fixed wing airplane and go the whole way, and/or I would have liked to have gone further in the chopper but hey, you pay your 50 squillion bux, you get the
45 min flight, the landing at the bottom (I don’t think so) the glass of sour champagne, the cookies, the croissant, the banana, the 15 minute piss-and-a-look-around and back on the chopper….but on the way back (I got the front seat on the way back) the fly-by down “The Strip” ……Later, it was seen as a bit odd when I told all and sundry that the last run down the strip was the highlight for me….of all the amazing and fantastic things I’ve seen, the “”Strip” is truly amazing….everyone is supposed to be blown away by the Canyon but downtown Las Vegas is in a league all of it’s own!...and the shows...aarrgghhh...more time please..... amazing magic, The Folies, I saw Ka, the newest Cirque de Soleil production, as amazing as you could imagine...there were 3 other Cirque shows running in town...I wanna see them all....next time!.....meanwhile, back at the bar, I'm trying to stay in front of the game...I found the bar where you keep drinkning free as long as you got money in the bartop machine in front of you....I got to know the barman, Richard and the waitress, Deborah....he's a bikie and made me outstanding cocktails while I
battled to keep $10 alive on the 25cent-a-throw machine...Ha...big spender!...but I figured I've pushed my luck way far enough on this adventure and had no expectations of pulling it off here....of course I was always living in hope but that's what this place is all about....land of broken dreams?.....so I got thoroughly sh*t-faced for 10 bucks most nights.....even during the day!...so.....now....
Here I am, in the middle of the night, something deep within me , fighting thru’ the obfuscation of drugs, alcohol and nicotine, battling its way out, in my run-down hotel room, lonely, alone, clawing thoughts, battling the all-night jackhammers of the nextdoor development projects, the TV backdrop of an old, black and white art decco docco on ABC of past blues singers/comedians…flashbacks to previous lifetimes…
Trying to get up the nerve to ask the receptionista (Italian descent) for a date, setting up my wardrobe/closet with the little tangy heater as a drying cabinet for the clothes I bought back, still damp, from the local Laundromat….and that was another experience that I’ll save for another day…
Ahh….morning again, made it thru’ another night altho’ you can tell it wasn’t easy! Another clammy misty San Fran morning….7/11
OJ and coffee on my little machine…perfecto!
Photo time......it is soo much easier getting them up here!.......hmmm a funny selection.....not sure it sums it all up at all but there you go.....
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