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NORTH AMERICA - THE “BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITIES” TOUR

Las Vegas Postcard

LAS VEGAS

“SELL YOUR SOUL BUT KEEP YOUR LAST DOLLAR”

Back in Los Angeles, Alfred offered me the option of a day trip to either San Diego or Las Vegas. San Diego was tempting as the city offered the chance to travel to the southern tip of California and relax in a peaceful harbour setting.

Las Vegas offered intrigue. Behind the bright neon lights of the various casinos would be ploys to profit on the basic human characteristic of greed. Behind the façade of offering entertainment the over riding principle of the casino would be the bottom line, a return on investment.

The punter is the moth, the desert is the darkness and the casino is the spider web. The moth in the darkness is attracted to the brightest neon light, beside which the spider has spun its web. Do you see what I mean by Las Vegas offering intrigue?

On a Saturday morning Alfred, Susan and I hopped into their car and headed east towards Las Vegas. Getting closer to our destination, with Joshua Tree National Park to the south and Death Valley National Park to the north, vivid images enhanced by anticipation filled my mind. After living a short life to the full in Las Vegas one could become lost in the solitude, eternal soul feeling of death in the valley where no one knows your name.

Harrahs

The roll of the dice determined his misfortune. The turning of the roulette wheel was his one last chance. He put the remains of his meagre savings on the spin of the wheel but his day turned black. Desolate, destroyed beyond reason he slipped into the dry, desert air. Driving into Death Valley he abandoned his battered car and walked till his thirst destroyed his mind. All that was left of his thoughts was the question of why he was born into this world in the first place. He did not know the answer, but he instinctively knew the reason he would depart this world a broken man.

Las Vegas = Greed = Capitalism.

Las Vegas is the capitalist, entertainment capital of the world. The wheel is a symbol of the human advancement from the stone ages. As the roulette wheel supersedes the stone wheel is our culture receding onto the slippery slide of moral decay? Do we leave the future of our world to chance; ignoring the effects of pollution and the corruption of our moral fibre?

Las Vegas was only a couple of hours drive from Los Angeles and we arrived in time for brunch at Circus Circus. This casino’s ploy was to offer amusement for children so the parents could concentrate on filling their slot machines with American coinage. It also had the cheapest smorgasbord in town so I piled my plate high and concentrated on filling my stomach with cheap American fast food.

The place permeated a holiday atmosphere. People were in their shorts and gaudy shirts, been loud and frivolous. I could see there were going to be some winners and some losers but for the most part people did not appear to sit within either extreme. They were there solely for fun and entertainment.

Circus Circus, been an older casino, was situated at the start of the long strip of casinos which lined Las Vegas Boulevard South. I arranged to meet Alfred and Susan back at Circus Circus later that day and went out into the dry air to explore the strip on my own.

Circus Circus

Everything in Las Vegas, except a bad gambling addiction, appeared cheap. As I walked down Las Vegas Boulevard South there was even free pornography handed out. These pamphlets advertising the local ladies were generally perused before been discarded, creating a pile of rubbish one must wade through to get from one casino to the next.

Each casino along the strip had a different theme. Treasure Island had an amazing battle in a bay complete with cannon fire and pirate ships. Walking further along the strip was Excalibur with its medieval England theme, the pyramid shaped Luxor and then there was Caesar’s Palace.

The theme of Caesar’s Palace was grandeur with a cheap commercial taste. The place had an unintentional sense of humour, due to its attempt at grandeur in the trash capital of the western world. I walked along the fountain laden path of the casino’s entrance expecting a fanfare of trumpets to greet me. I had never felt more important in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt in my life. I must have been a rich and powerful Caesar in a past life. It was my destiny to be rich and powerful in this life. Past the entrance I walked up to the nearest slot machine and inserted US$1 worth of coins. It was so unlike me to be frivolous and impulsive where money is concerned. See what I mean about the casinos been fill of intrigue and ploys.

Inside Caesar's Palace

Caesar’s Palace had the largest television screens to watch the sports. It was approaching the best part of the North American sports season. The baseball had just pitched off and the basketball and the ice hockey were in the play off stages. I settled into a luxurious chair and watched a bit of the baseball with my fellow Americans. They were loud, obnoxious and full of passion.

It was not long before Caesar’s Palace became my kind of casino. It was efficient, had a ruthless money making atmosphere, appeared to have the biggest high rollers in town and I even made a US$2 gain on their slot machines.

In business you must be ruthless. In Las Vegas I unearthed my ruthless streak. Back at Circus Circus, while waiting for Alfred and Susan, I became interested in a game of extreme skill, complete with ping pong balls, which was seeking competitors. Winners would win prizes. After a quiet ponder I stepped up, answering the call. To my surprise I won each game I played; in an efficient and effective manner I might add.

In my generosity I sent the prizes to my newly born nephew in New Zealand. The prizes were stuffed toy animals and I won two of them. I could have won more but the attendants were abhorred at my ruthless streak and the other competitors were starting to cry. So I let these competitors go crying to their mummies and daddies. In Las Vegas I was a winner and I had two newly attained trophies to prove it.