The Deal With Las Vegas
Dot Com informed me I was going to Las Vegas on a
journalism assignment, my first reaction was: didn't Terry
and Johnny Depp already cover this material?
My duties were like a woman: loose
unstructured. I'd touch down around noon, get the scoop on Sin
as it exists in the year 2001, and make a clean getaway. I'd
exactly four hours to find a story, because later that evening my
needed me back home to pull weeds from his front yard. Neither
nor travel writing is a task I recall signing up for, but life is
more enjoyable when risks are involved.
| First, I collected all my spare change. My slot
budget. Under the couch I searched, inside pockets of coats I
worn in five years, and mom's purse. She changed the locks on the
door, so I had to break a window and tiptoe around a little bit. I
to scrape together nearly thirty dollars in dimes, which I
in a paper sack. This was going to be great!
| As my plane taxied along the runway, I scribbled a
introductory outline of my time in Las Vegas. Or as I like to call it:
Wages!! Get it? Sure, I hadn't arrived yet - but who cares.
prostitutes, Siegfried and Roy. The end. Throw in some Hunter
Thompson quotes and you're fucking finished. I'd start my
with a series of jokes about airports and airline food. Like,
it nutty how they give you that tiny bag of honey roasted
What's up with that? And how come planes are always full of fat
Have you seen these things?
|| Once airborne, our stewardess
delivered a crushing blow. We were not given peanuts, not even mixed
- but a delicious Nutri-Grain bar made with wheat, whole-grain oats
real strawberries! ROCK ON AND WORD UP! Luck be a lady
The journey had only just begun, and already my trip
careening out of control. I tried to imagine the dynamic corporate
between Kellogg's and National Air which must have taken place to
this multi-billion dollar crossover experience. The hawkish, violent
calls. The massive, coiled reams of legal paperwork and sheer,
bravado. I could never make airplane jokes again.
Three billion bars on all domestic flights! No -
billion bars on flights to Europe and within the contiguous fifty
I explained my astonishment out loud to Denise, who
me I had a "thing" on my lip. She gave me a napkin, and when
fingers touched I asked for her phone number. Turns out she's a
My favorite in-flight activity is reading
from cover to cover. It's the in-flight literary
for world-weary travelers. Don't let the sassy, Gen-X fonts
you; it's stuffed up the nuts with lesser-known non-touristy
custom tailored to your proposed destination. How they
a different issue for each city in the world every day of the week
a mystery to me. How does Hemispheres even know where
When I flipped to page 48, I
had a seizure.
My chair jerked back and forth several
before returning to its full and upright position. My eyes popped
their sockets, honking like horns, inflating to the size of
Appearing in Las Vegas for a limited time only and sponsored
the good people at Coca-Cola was something called M&M's
an internationally acclaimed museum exhibition dedicated to the
and culture of the miniature, multiracial chocolates of the same
I almost stopped breathing. Having enjoyed candy
entire life, I determined M&M's World would be an excellent
to spend the bulk of my time. My fingers were trembling.
| There was suddenly so much to learn. Do
really share their trade secrets with the public? I guess they do! I
sit still. I wanted to unbuckle my safety belt, yank open the
door, fling myself from the cabin like a Mountain Dew commercial. I
to get there now! NOW NOW NOW!! I sort of recall my editor
I do a feature about Defcon, an ongoing hacker convention. Sounds like
pantload to me. I'll skip it. When the plane touched down, I
CRUNCH CRUNCH CRUNCH --
-- HOMPTH SMOOSH STUFF SLURP --
| If you think casinos are
check out the cab drivers. They will not shut up about
They're walking, talking slot machines, and once you're
inside, they're eager to "personalize" your Las Vegas
with all the charms of a Gap employee.
G'morning! How are we today? I'm
Oompaloompa from Chicago, Illinois! How's the winnings? Having
luck? Playing the ponies? What's in the bag? Doing some
The odds of securing a quiet, efficient driver
enough to take the freeway instead of plodding along the congested
in the broiling sun are five hundred million to one against.
deliver nonstop Jeff Foxworthy monologues about poker and craps, along
irksome observational commentary.
It's a hot one! Lotsa cars out today! Give me
e-mail address and I'll see to it my pointless rants and raves
sent directly to your inbox every day of the week! The rear doors are
for your protection!
| Each remark is punctuated by intrusive questions
your current financial status, preventing even a single moment's
or relaxation. Are you carrying big bills? Do you need me to stop
a cash machine? Do not respond, you'll only encourage
conversation. Helen Keller had the right idea.
He drove past the sixty-four dollar a night Oasis
where NBC's Suddenly Susan co-star David Strickland was
dead in 1999. Strickland threw a bedsheet around a ceiling rafter
hung himself for no discernible reason. His body was discovered
toes dangling above six empty beer cans. Hey, real mature.
This detour might have created a memorable photo
but the driver's crinkling Krispy Kreme wrappers distracted me.
voyage across the street cost me about ten dollars.
I gave him two fistfuls of dimes, which
out to be the Las Vegas equivalent of dog shit.
| Hotels and casinos are happy to cash in your
dollars, your half dollars, your quarters and nickels - but nobody
touch your dimes. So much for getting a hooker. Twenty-five
video poker and nickel blackjack boxes are available in every church
booth, but ten-cent slots appear to be the ColecoVisions of modern
technology. Dimes cannot be exchanged for another
of currency anywhere you go. Ask employees in any casino why this
exists, and you'll hear diverse answers like I don't
and no idea. At Bellagio, the most luxurious and
hotel in all of Las Vegas, the cashier told me I should try Jamba
across the street. Or Denny's. Or Starbucks. I weighed all three
I'M A CHILD
TAKEY DIMES!! YOU GO
| Dear dumbshit: I'm not going to hop
another cab and drive twenty feet just to make your lives
I took my heavy, jingling dime bag and flushed it down a $200,000
gold toilet in the hopes of yielding catastrophic plumbing damage
to or greater than my initial investment. And hey - time to
means time to clean, am I right? Hop to it, farts! I've
M&M's to visit!
| If you think video games designed for children are
consider the bulk of coin-op machinery intended for adults. These
shriek WELCOME TO LAS VEGAS, STUPID at the top of their
|| Slots have moronic
tired visuals like those you'd expect to see at T.G.I.
and incredibly lame skins which piggyback on the limited
of preexisting corporate entertainment products. The concepts behind
attractions are indecipherable. What kind of fucking fool is drawn
the Family Feud slot featuring voice-over narration by a larger
life animatronic Louie Anderson? Or the Dirty Dancing game
plays looping video clips of Patrick Swayze?
The older you get, the farther away you drift from
center of anyone's attention. Less and less thought is directed
keeping you entertained. This pattern hasn't stopped in a million
Casinos, like advertising firms, sit back and wait patiently for
to become thirty-somethings. That's just enough time to forget
something shitty, isn't it? And then we can bring it back in a
Hope you're looking forward to hotel elevators
piped-in Muzak versions of Eminem, Autechre, Mouse on Mars - and slot
encouraging you to get all five colored iMacs in a row. Eventually
be a senior citizen, and all you'll need is a blinking light or
sound effects to keep you busy. Just put a gun to your head and
the Pepsi Challenge.
-- DING DING DING DING -- WE ALL SUCK DICK -- DING DING DING DING
There's a scene in the film Snatch,
Benicio Del Toro's character flashes back to his weekend in Las
It's a split-second montage of perspiring faces smeared with
hundred-dollar bills in clenched fists and random, anonymous tits.
accurate would have been a rapid-fire sequence of dazed families
balloon animal penis hats, children choking down chili-cheese corn
and grandma left abandoned in her wheelchair.
Las Vegas is dumber than Disneyland and
sanitized. Oversize tourists with no predetermined destination walk
a snail's pace, wide-load asses undulating mere inches in front
you. They gawk at anything that sparkles, glitters or spurts.
The elevators, the escalators, the hallways, the
sidewalks are utterly fudge-packed with herky-jerky dipshits
to a halt at unpredictable intervals, forcing you to spill coffee
your shirt again and again. Good luck taking a picture. The pain you
in the back of your neck is a tingling hatred for humanity,
it all takes place at a hundred and five degrees in the shade.
| Frank Sinatra blares with such force from hidden
on every street corner, people can't hear your exasperated sighs.
won't see you melodramatically rolling your eyes or extending
middle finger. Your frantic Basil Faulty arm waving all goes
Go ahead, give it a scream. OUT OF MY WAY! DO YOU PEOPLE KNOW
TO FUCKING WALK? It's of little use. They don't know
there. Nobody's hearing aid has fresh batteries. All you can do
stand on somebody's air hose for a few minutes, and step over him
| And Christ, if they're not shambling down the lane,
eating. Good LORD do these people pack it away. It's not
this food is cheap either, just abundant. Las Vegas is second only to
York in terms of costly brunches or buffets. Were you looking forward
a $2.99 all-you-can eat pancake breakfast? The average
experience costs $28 per person. Maybe I can hail a time machine and
back to 1971. I hope I don't disrupt anyone's otherwise
Slot machines and buffets aren't universal
to pleasure, but one game anyone can pursue is Who's The
Is she a whore? Is she a
Every girl in the great state of Nevada is automatically considered
"escort" until she proves herself otherwise - preferably
the ol' sackarooni. It's legal, you know!
Age is of no consequence. A thirteen-year old
a Paul Frank monkey shirt is a call girl. A seventeen-year old
an Orbital tank top, lollygagging ten paces behind the rest of her
is a punch-drunk squirt guzzling prostitute placed there for your
amusement. Even if she's thirty-four in a Chanel suit, Wall
Journal folded sideways, PowerBook G4 leather satchel slung across
shoulder, sitting in a conference room talking on a cel-phone,
through wireframe spectacles at a colorful projection of quarterly
- you can very well guess what she does for a living.
| None of you girls fool me. You're all
in Las Vegas. You're strippers, showgirls, topless cabaret
lap dancers. My ATM card sings the most beautiful, heartbreaking music
ever heard. When a woman is walking through the lobby of a casino, it
she's spent the entire weekend with her ass in the air or
just about to. No wonder they all wear dark sunglasses and somber,
expressions. They're tired of monotonous dildo shows. They
to go back to school and get their degrees!
Is that Zara Whites over there? Is that Rocco
crapping out at the high-rollers table? I'm sure I
Thousands of photography shoots and porn movies
filmed in the safety of Las Vegas casinos every week. These hotel
provide directors with some of the most elegant, sophisticated
ever captured in the background of an extended blowjob. They're
neutral locations where producers and hired help can congregate in
for a day's work.
Why isn't room service like this available
all fifty states? Why couldn't Webvan make a series of
adjustments to its business model and get its shit together?
it time to wake up, America? Don't make me stand in the
hot sun of a Safeway parking lot with a bucket of patriotic buttons
a clipboard petition.
Lion testicles Inset:
As I contemplated all this, I found myself
by the MGM Grand Hotel. They have a six-thousand square foot, $9
dollar Lion Habitat. Admission is free. It's a facility dedicated
safeguarding the preservation and long-term care of a more or less
The arena is a rotating showcase of six lions, who
turns napping on the bridge above the pedestrian tunnel. Bring several
rolls of film, because these lions' enormous testicles can be
in plain public view, smooshed against the plexiglass.
Next year's Christmas card, maybe?
| Or, why not set your phasers on DUH
and check out Paramount Studios' Star Trek Experience at
Hilton? Here you can boldly go to the toilet in the Deep Space Nine
It's populated with your typical assortment of
Klingons, eighteen-year-old members of Starfleet with Riker beards and
toothpick arms, along with other losers-in-uniform leftover from last
Renaissance Fair. Possibly the San Diego Comic Convention. The DS9 bar
no mention of Quark, but serves up drinks like the James
Kirk. Who the fuck is that?
| By and large, the experience lives up to Gene
proposed vision of the future. You walk through this environment fully
why words like store and snore rhyme with each other.
place is what happens when an Ebay warehouse explodes.
| What's the difference between gawking at this
merchandise up close and seeing low-grade snapshots of it online? This
the kind of shit you can buy from PBS for a ten dollar pledge.
| Who knew there would be so many price tags in
space? Can we turn the god damn replicators off yet? I was disgusted
the milieu. The incessant, exaggerated commercialism. The overblown,
pomp and circumstance surrounding a sci-fi product near and dear to
a handful of individuals around the world was relentless and
Is this what the 25th century holds? The
thing worse than enduring this nonsense might be sitting down to watch
television program. Never in my life have I been more interested in
SO THANK GOD I FINALLY MADE IT TO M&M's
| If you've ever wanted to grab a gun and blow
head off in a public place, do it here. M&M's World is a
exercise, a towering four-story indoor theme park stretched around the
premise that M&M candies are somehow able to extend their
entertainment value above and beyond the flimsy plastic bag you bought
| Nevada police officers supervise the proceedings -
keeping an eye out for school-skipping teenage gangs adorned with
M&M headbands. The presence of law enforcement sends a strong message.
is not an environment capable of being wrangled by even an elite
or Wackenhut security squad. Anything is possible here at the
An epileptic might be rushed to the hospital after
overwhelmed by the light bouncing off colorful candy shells. A
from Switzerland might suffer a stroke after underestimating the
powers of single American peanut at the center of rich milk chocolate.
cops are serious and prepared to beat down anyone who
have a credit card.
| Dazed Japanese tourists who look as though
much rather be loading up on Hello Kitties and Pokemons grudgingly
their baskets with whatever obscure American bullshit their relatives
home might find fascinating or hard to come by. For this reason, the
brand lends itself to every product, trinket, slogan, and killer
|| Feel like jerking off?
your lubrication of choice from this twenty dollar easy-to-squirt
ejaculator. With a jaunty expression and a pair of eyes that never
this character just wants to keep you company during your lonely,
moments. Lotion melts in your hand, not all over the keyboard.
The majority of this merchandise is showcased in
piles or racks reflecting little or no attention to artistic structure
Left, a yellow M&M with diarrhea appears
embarrassed to have spontaneously contributed to the problems of
Right, in perhaps the most appropriate
an assortment of unwanted M&M abortions are collected and disposed
in a trash can. Hello, is this high school prom night? Do I need to
the police officers over and show them my gruesome discovery?
M&M's World is a personal, private in-joke
you and yourself. It's a colorful experience, to be sure. But can
really say it's educational?
| Fuck yes! M&M's World is acting to
those blubbery activist moms on television - the ones who clomp around
big noisy shoes about how our children's schools are unsafe. How
are cold, how toilets explode, how there's not
asbestos per student, how black people run around unattended. Why do
parents spend so much time lugging their concerns to elected
They might as well complain to a doorknob. The United States
has nothing to gain by flipping a single penny toward
our tumble-down public school system.
|| Mom & Dad should get down on their hands and
and pray to God corporations like Microsoft, Old Navy, Coca-Cola, and
good people at M&M's World step in with billions of dollars to
our children, because quite frankly I don't see anyone else
a shit. There's nothing two sticks of Twix can't fix, and
inexpensive math books prove it.
Study the elegant construction of this
textbook edutainment, suitable for use in public or private schools:
familiar faces, the primary colors, the straightforward illustrations.
smiling, all-American icons are more than capable of insinuating
atop even a toddler's own developing brain.
| Hey folks - am I learning or playing here? I
tell anymore! Long division has never been more delicious. And
the best news: these resources are also available in
for our Puerto Rican friends. ¡Yo quiero Taco Bell!
| I would have bought a souvenir, but like I said:
takes dimes. In no time at all, a wave of sheer boredom crashed over
I was dehydrated and constipated at the same time, if such an ailment
I glanced over at a girl in a wheelchair, and each
us sympathized with the look of weariness on the other's face. We
both sick of M&M's, sick of our pushy tightwad
and sick of Nevada. I wrote my phone number on a scrap of paper and
it in her thermos. Don't know if she got it.
Then the clock struck five, and I realized my
to write an extended essay about about Las Vegas had come to an end. I
it back to the airport, and reassured myself that offering my editor
story at all would somehow be better than nothing.
Passengers on their way to Las Vegas are chatty
excitable; those returning home are not. These folks are broken,
defeated. They have no money, nothing to look forward to except
work week. Gambling and pornography carved this miniature
out of the desert, and none of us will ever see a penny of it.
Us coach class dopes will never look up at
Bellagio ceiling mirror and see three high-class call girls licking
dicks at the same time. Our personal, private weather forecasts
remain the same no matter where we travel: uncomfortable and
I'll be on this flight for hours, listening
people snore like Big Bird. We'll shit-squirt along at 28,000
like there's a cab driver at the helm. Out the window: dull,
landscapes of mountain ranges, Area 51s and patchwork quilts of
Who lives out here, anyway? Have they ever
to Las Vegas? Could I stay at their house for awhile if I
to do some simple chores? I picture clumpy fistfuls of angry,
weeds like those I'll be yanking from my editor's front
later this evening. I think about the plane crash sequence in
A small Asian boy across the aisle grabs a
Boy from his sister's Powerpuff Girls carry-on and plays
Puzzle Challenge at full volume, squirming in his seat while mom
items for sale in Hemispheres with a thousand-dollar
So I didn't hit the jackpot. Big deal. Above
the word EXIT glows in bold,
letters. To my left, three round portholes and a flimsy sticker of a
arrow directs my attention to a long silver handle marked
( Posted by Rotten Staff )