Tuesday, January 24, 2006

America's Playground

It is absolutely insane that the conservative religious wingnuts that are so prominent in this country haven't targeted Las Vegas, the city of Sin, as a place to spread their puritanical ways. Thing about it. They target SpongeBog Squarepants yet they don't even mention the city of carnal desires? I'm betwixt. Does the wingnutia that seems to run this country not realize that Vegas is organized around the three great vices of: gambling, boozing, and sex? Well, I won't be the first to tell them, that's for sure.

The bachelor party in Vegas did not disappoint. The last time I visited the city I was about 10 years old and that was on a train that may or may not have stopped in the city. So I pretty much saw bright lights and not much else. So this time, Vegas was basically all new to me.

We stayed at the MGM Grand hotel and casino. Very nice. I only have two complaints: showers built for Ewoks and not enough monkey butlers.

I have to say, the people who design casinos are very clever. You never see a clock, so you have no idea what time it is. You never see the outdoors, so you never know if it's night or day. And there are tons of things to charm your attention away including: lights, bells, whistles, gambling, restaurants, bars, clubs, scantily clad women, and the ever so popular spectator sport "trophy wife or pro". Other fun endeavors included the games "Real or Fake" and "30 or 50".

My point: Vegas is the new Silicon Valley. The women are all either trophy wives, specially built by Dr. Nick or they're professional hires, escorts if you will. Men with money can get anything they want - it's just a matter of how they pay for it. Some men show up with plastic Barbies on their arms that they "bought" in the legitimate sense. Golddiggers that will be with anyone if the money's good.

Others are the "I have no shame" types who simply don't care if anyone knows that the woman on their arm has only been rented for the night. It's Vegas, baby. They're available and they're busy. For example, the following questions were asked by various members of the Vegas public to our party:

"You guys looking for a massage with a happy ending?"
"You guys looking for full service girls?"
"You guys wanna get laid tonight?"

Our "no thank yous" or "that would pretty much shut down my impending marriage for good, so I'm gonna have to decline" were instead heard as "yes sir, immediately give us your card and continue to insist on negotiating with us because 'no' means 'yes' in this town!"

Not even the whores in Amsterdam were as pushy.

Still, Vegas adds to the medley of flavors that form America and I won't begrudge their choice to be downright the dirtiest city in the US. I may not be much of a gambler and I may not be much into "whiskey and whorin'," but who am I to judge. It's bringing money to a region of the US that would otherwise be completely empty and the locals don't complain much.

At any rate, other highlights of the trip included:

- An absolutely fantastic meal at Smith & Wollensky's;
- Sharing an elevator with a Miss America contestant (hands down the most attractive woman I've ever seen in person)
- The Sports Book
- Hanging with the guys (my friends are a diverse bunch)
- the Buffet at the Aladdin
- walking the streets with open bottles of beer and not having to worry about the Puritan Police

I could go on, but I think you get the point. In Vegas, money is everything. I highly doubt I'll ever be in the class of people that can buy anything I want (like a Monkey Butler!), but I witnessed just that in Vegas. And, in that sense, Vegas is the most honest place on earth. The one fundamental reality that continues to define human civilization is that money talks. A lot of "civilized" places in the world hides behind a veneer of culture and sophistication. Not Vegas. Show up in a limo and get treated like royalty. As long as the credit's good, anything goes.

If I do go back to Vegas someday, I would do a few things differently. First, screw blackjack. It's a stupid game that fails to entertain. Everybody plays it because it's got great odds, but to me, it's boring as hell. The tough decisions of having to hit on 12 or 13 are really not that tough. No, poker's the game. If I'm gambling in the future, I'll gamble at the craps table, poker table, and the sports book.

Second, I'd stay at the Luxor. That's the pyramid with the spotlight coming out of the top. I just totally digged the whole Egyptian theme. In fact, I think a simple rule of Vegas is that everytime back you have to stay at a different casino. They're just too glorious to frequently inhabit the same one. The Bellagio, for example, was brilliant and obviously of the highest class (with the added feature of enabling a few too many Ocean's 11 jokes).

Third, bring more cash. There's nothing like a $4 ATM fee in addition to the $2 Wachovia charges. Ouch.

Last, gamble better. Next time, I'll try not to drop $100 on a blackjack table in under an hour. In fact, I'll try to gamble sober as well. I was up when I was mostly sober. I lost big when I wasn't. Let that be a lesson. Free drinks don't have to be alcoholic.

Anyway, that's about all I got to say. A special thanks goes out to all the guys. I had a great time; I hope you did too. Next stop: Bogota.


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