Glitz and Oblivion in Las Vegas

  For many, the main attraction of Nevada is Las Vegas. With apologies to those who dig the glitz– (i.e., glamour without the charm–) I must say that Lake Tahoe is generally as deep into that state as I ever want to go, and for the most part, I stay in California. 
 One particular night summed up my feelings. I’ll set it up for you.

  I spent a few years as a mediocre drummer. At the time, it didn’t much matter that I was mediocre, as we also had a fantastic lead drummer, Thudwhack. The band was UBERKUNST. We did noise, and/or metal, and/or punk, and/or performance art, and/or all/none of the above. The genre didn’t much matter to me. I was just happy to dress up like a sadistic monster and bang on things. These days, we might just play once a year at the NorCal NoiseFest. At our peak, we played often in Sacramento and the Bay Area, as our many members were scattered throughout both regions. But once or thrice, we played in Nevada.

  There had been a great venue there, with a little record store in front, and a large performance area in back. They had the tallest stage I’d ever staggered across. I hear that this venue no longer exists, just as I hear time and again that any music, performance, or art of any sort not backed by a casino doesn’t tend to thrive in Nevada. (I hear some cry, “What about Burning Man?” There are so many Californians, and others from all over the world, who work so hard to bring about that event, that I have to think of it as an import to Nevada, and not germane to this particular rant.)

  On our way back from the show, our car broke down. We couldn’t get another ride home ’till the next morning, so the sweaty lot of us were stuck packed into a casino hotel room for the night. Everyone else was on the verge of sleep, but being a night owl, I was wide awake. My books and sketch pads were all back in Sac, but there were plenty of suggestions regarding what I might do instead. 

  “Gambling is legal here!” 

  It’s of no interest to me at all. If the odds didn’t favor the house, the casinos wouldn’t stay in business. It’s all just a flashy way to dupe people out of what little money they have. And even if I did have the cash to flush, I would instead invest in art supplies. 

  “You can drink all night here!”

  All night, you say? 

  I did not relish the thought of a subsequent hangover, as I already had one skull-splitter of a headache. Worse, I’m perfectly capable of making an ass of myself sober. I don’t need to top that with throwing up (again,) or blacking out (again,) or hooking up up with someone disastrously wrong for me (again,) and putting in a poor performance, because I’m too drunk to–

  Not that such has ever happened. Moving on… 

  “There are strip shows, and legal prostitution!” 

  The squeamish may wish to skip this next paragraph. 

  I am an artist, and admittedly, a ravenously sexual guy. There is no aspect of the known universe more beautiful and compelling to me than woman’s sexuality– (save one particular manifestation thereof, which I shall touch upon soon.) I do agree that prostitution should be legal, preferably with a far greater degree of safety and respect for sex workers. Still, renting a human being is not quite my cup of tea. Back home in Sac, I had a girlfriend who would lounge about naked on hot days, and was prone to squirting orgasms, (my all time favorite aspect of all the known universe.) Driven as I may be, I could still wait until I got home to have that genuine connection.

  The next suggestion was either a grasp at straws, or more likely a joke. Either way, ’twas by a band mate desperate to finally get some sleep.

  “You can get married instantly here!” 

  I tell ya, this town sure loves catering to short-sighted impulses! [Sarcasm mode on.] I’m certain those drive-through weddings lead to long-lasting marriages between well-matched people!

  “Guns! Wahoo, Guns!”

  This bandmate was not quite so sleepy. Picture a boisterous Yosemite Sam firing wildly into the air. 

  Okay, when the people of California go so far in their fear of weapons that they ban sword canes, even dear-sweet-peacenik I think they’re going overboard. Had there been a spate of drive-by slashings that I’d somehow missed in the news? If men in tweed waistcoats were leaning out of speeding Bentleys and giving a cry of “Have at you!” one might expect it would make the headlines. Still, Nevada’s wider array of legal weapons don’t much call to me. 

  “Speaking of weapons, maybe you could stick around tomorrow, and go stretch out at the old nuclear test site. You know, soak up some rays!”

  Okay, no one actually suggested this, but it was clearly time to let my beleaguered colleagues get some rest. No one seemed to think that whatever public libraries there may have been were open all night, like the bars and brothels. Thus, I passed the hours sketching on a tiny notepad, sitting uncomfortably in a hotel bathroom, closed up so the light wouldn’t keep my bandmates awake. I waited, as patiently as I could– (not very–) for the next morning’s ride back to Sac.

  “Aren’t you being rather unfair to Las Vegas?” 

  Nay, dear anyone who might be thinking such. Though in sooth, we might actually have been stranded in Reno that night, and much of this account might be apocryphal, I dare say my rant still applies. 

  Call me nutty, but I’d rather be amongst the many trees and art galleries of Sacramento than in the flashiest joint in all the Nevada dessert. To be clear, I don’t believe that most vices or excesses should be banned. Even if I did, reality demonstrates very well that prohibition doesn’t work. I just value art and love over glitz and oblivion. 

            Master Nick Roberts © 2012 

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One Response to “Glitz and Oblivion in Las Vegas”

  1. I might also add that the general “energy” of the area is gyrating with desperation, greed, corruption, fear and self-loathing, masked most often by the appearance of “having fun”. Tis an awful place indeed.

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