Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
Marie and I usually take a short winter vacation to Las Vegas, mainly as a respite from the cold and almost daily rain in Oregon.
We don’t do much. I usually visit an old childhood friend to talk over old times. Marie and I eat fancy food and walk and gawk for miles along Las Vegas Boulevard. One time I had my photo taken with two of the girls who wander around looking for men who want them to appear in photos they can take back home to post on Facebook. I think I posted mine to Ricochet a few years ago, but it cost me twenty bucks so I need to get my money’s worth out of it by recycling it. Besides, I’m fond of it. So that’s me again with a couple of police girls who wanted to arrest me and kiss me at the same time.
On one visit, Marie and I rode the High Roller, the world’s highest Ferris wheel, to see the city lights below us. Our pod had a well-stocked bar that served beer and hard liquor. Get drunk in a glass pod while you’re 500 feet in the air! Whee! Living on the edge!
A while back there was concern in Las Vegas when Asian countries and states outside of Nevada began to legalize gambling. The city was worried that gamblers would stay home and gamble in Spirit Mountain Casino in Oregon, the Trump Taj Mahal in New Jersey, or, most worrisome, the new gambling Mecca of Macau in China.
Las Vegas needn’t have worried. The place is jumping. Las Vegas Boulevard is full of gawkers like me, and the casinos are noisy with slots, roulette, card games, and craps going 24 hours a day. I was up one morning about three a.m.in the Bellagio, and the place was still going strong.
Asians were all over the place. Macau might be closer, but the Chinese still want to see Vegas, which has remade itself, once again, this time into a world destination city of famous-chef restaurants, showgirls and Elvis on the sidewalks, new skyscrapers like the 64-story Trump International Hotel, and even more of the giant casinos. It’s more like an adult Disneyland than ever.
I left with three new impressions from this visit.
Las Vegas Boulevard. On our last visit, about a year ago, Las Vegas had a small version of the same problem that most big cities have: people living on the streets. This time Marie and I noticed that the streets were almost clear of street people. Last November, Las Vegas passed a law that banned people from sleeping on the street. At the same time, the police started actual policing. When they come across a person lounging or lying on the street, they talk to him and immediately get him to a mental hospital, drug rehab — or they merely roust him off the street.
As far back as 2015, the county had banned the “hand-billers.” These are the guys, almost all illegal aliens, who hand out girlie cards on which are listed phone numbers to call for a “date.” What they are, everybody knows, are cards that will call a prostitute to your room. The police used to let the handbillers slide, but now the police actually enforce the law by handing out citations to the card-snapping hand-billers and roust them off the streets. We didn’t see a single hand-biller this time.
All that’s left are the showgirls, Elvises, and Blue Men who want you to join them for a photo. (See above.) Las Vegas puts up with them, probably because they are non-threatening and add a bit of color to Las Vegas Boulevard. Wives sometimes like to take a photo of their husbands with the showgirls.
The Bellagio. We stayed in the Bellagio this time. I was amazed by the richness of the hotel environment. There seemed to be acres of mosaic marble used as flooring. Look carefully at the tiled floor to the right. Those tiny pieces of marble were placed there individually.
This visit, the hotel featured a huge display of objects associated with the Chinese Year of the Rat. The Bellagio has a special interest in pleasing its Chinese visitors, who really like to gamble, so there you have it: The Year of the Rat. About half of the visitors walking around the Year of the Rat exhibit seemed to be Chinese.
Everything is oversized. The Bellagio, the most expensive hotel ever built, has ceiling art by Chihuly, consisting of hundreds of large illuminated glass flowers, which cost the Bellagio 10 million dollars. There is a fine-art gallery (15 bucks to get in) that was showing Japanese art. Just imagine how much the land in front of the hotel along Las Vegas Boulevard, which is now devoted to the dancing fountains, is worth.
Our Las Vegas Show. But the highlight of our trip was a $125 a pop Vegas show we attended in a venue in the courtyard of Caesar’s Palace.
It was about as far from your usual Vegas show, glitzy and upscale, as you can get. Called Absinthe (after the notorious green liquor, said to drive you crazy if you’re not careful, favored by artists like Baudelaire and Toulouse-Lautrec). I didn’t get a very good shot of the interior with my iPhone, but here is what I got. The stage was beneath that blue cloth that hangs from the ceiling.
Talk about funky. The show took place in a large tent with a round stage nine feet in diameter, the audience within a foot or two from the stage. Every chair was different: ladderbacks, kitchen, folding, in reds, greens, yellows, and blacks. I’ve never seen anything like it. Six hundred wooden chairs, all different, tied together with zip ties. The walls were covered with a melange of art, from raunchy to kid art to post-it notes
The show consisted of two parts: world-class international acrobatic acts, mostly working without a net, and the raunchiest and most politically incorrect show I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen some raunchy shows in Tijuana and Munich). The master of ceremonies was so raunchy that I heard the lady next to me gasping. (Marie, to my left, only frowned.) And he had a female assistant who was even raunchier, so much so that when she was in the middle of a filthy stream of consciousness, the M.C. had to tell her to shut up — all a part of the act, of course.
The M.C. made fun of blacks in the audience, their dialects, their clothing, and the size of their, er. . . . . One black guy rose and talked back. I can’t tell you, for fear of the Ricochet moderators (wait, I am one), what their conversation consisted of. The MC even talked one guy in the audience into sticking out his tongue so that they could touch tongues. Have you ever seen a show in which the master of ceremony talked a member of the audience into touching tongues with him?
All of this raunchiness wasn’t Marie’s cup of tea. She’s refined, you know. But it was so over the top that I laughed until my sides hurt.
So Marie and I had a hell of a time in Vegas. We walked around in the warm sun, were awed by the marble tiles in the Bellagio, paid eight bucks for single-scoop ice cream cones, seven dollars for a glass of Bud Light, and saw sights we’ve never seen before, including two men touching tongues. What more can a person ask of a vacation?Published in