Viva Las Vegas
Here I am, in my luxurious, Egyptian-themed room at the Luxor, typing away. Outside, the surprisingly chilly world of The Strip awaits. I have now been in Las Vegas for 20 hours. This is what I've learned:
1. There is a specific way that taxi drivers will try to rip you off on your trip from the airport. Steve Johnson, my cabbie, casually pointed up to some road construction on Wayne Newton Blvd. and said, "Two lanes are closed. There's another way we can go, through the tunnel. It'll cost you about 6 to 8 dollars more, but it'll save time. Probably cost you the same if we have to sit here waiting."
I later learned that "the tunnel" is the standard cabbie rip-off from the airport. What happens in the tunnel, I will never know.
Having been warned in advance, I demurred. We stayed in the traffic because I understand that taxis charge by the mile, not by the minute. For Steve, he of the weathered skin and droopy blonde moustache, it was like I'd passed some test. He became chatty, singing the praises of Huong, the remarkably clean, tiny Vietnamese brake man. When I departed, Steve warned me about "Muslim cabdrivers" who would try to rip me off. "Muslims, huh?" I replied. "But they're usually so ethical."
Steve turned out to be an accurate soothsayer, as our 2 am driver, Bhdqr Bin Abhwtz, did try to rip us off, only to earn an earful of semi-truths about the power of lawyers from R. Hunt, esq. and his sequin-draped girlfriend, Katherine Zeta Jones. Both are lawyers. It was an impressive display. I would've just stiffed the guy.
2. Luxor is embarassing. Don't stay there. It's a big old pyramid, nowhere near as gaudy as New York, New York, nor as Mafia classy as the Venitian. It's at the end of the Strip and, oddly, offers a dated, rudimentary climate control. This place is only, like, ten years old, right? Did they have to go to junkyards and dig these things out? Is this an effort at recreating the ancient climate control systems of Egypt?
Also, the headliner in the big room is Carrot Top.
3. People will talk to you if you're sitting at a bar alone. With three hours to kill before meeting Kathleen and the others, I took a walk (which, I've heard, in itself is unusual) to New York, New York, the thinking being that, since my favorite place is New York, my favorite hotel would be New York, New York. Because, you know, it's just like being in New York.
It's got lots of stores, and competing bars, and I guess if you believe that the Jungle Cruise is just like being in the Amazon, then New York, New York, is just like being in New York. Though I'm not sure if there are piano bars in the real New York where they play "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "You Shook Me All Night Long."
Me, I went to the most innocuous-looking bar, planted myself on a stool, and ordered a Sin City Amber. When in Rome. Soon I was talking to the guy from Idaho who'd been divorced twice, the tax guy from New Jersey and his wife, and Tony, from Prescott ("You pronounce it like 'biscuit'"), Arizona, who was 33 and had 3 kids, and had lost so much money playing Texas Hold 'em that he was going home a day early. It was our party, and one, I maintain, we could just as easily have held in a bar in Prescott, Arizona, but there we were. Everyone talking. It was nice.
3) Even if you don't gamble, you will shed money as if it were sweat. I think I spent something like $80 last night, even though I had a slice of pizza for dinner and didn't spend one time on gambling. By the way, my goal is to not gamble at all. Shouldn't be too difficult.
4) "Old" Las Vegas does not exist, at least not on the Strip. However, just during the course of one non-spectacular evening, you can see things like a scary pit boss, really really (really) drunk young guys staggering around -- probably congratulating themselves for not being tied down with some whining wife and kids -- and domestic violence. Kathleen and I saw some guy drive his wife/girlfriend into a wall while waiting for the valet. Security descended immediately. She left her car there. He went back into the casino. Las Vegas is forgiving.
No celebrity sightings. Lots of German tourist sightings. Many strange couple sightings, and the odd group of overdressed (but under-covered) single women.
5) My friend's girlfriend is hot. She must be. All the guys in the casinos were checking her out as they walked by. I said, "Hey! Those guys are checking out your girlfriend!" and R Hunt, esq. said, "That's right. Good for them."
Five observations about Las Vegas, but overall, I kind of still don't get it. Maybe the switch will turn on today.
Check out my brother-in-law's blog. Unless you hate the Phoenix Suns,