Wayne Newton built an empire there. Randall Flagg made it the capitol city of evil. Sammy Davis Jr. called it “instant swinger.” What am I talking about? Shoot, boy, I’m talking about Vegas, what the hell you talking about?
When we arrived around 6 pm, it was an infernal 120 degrees F, cooling to an oven-cleaning 110 by midnight. To fully experience the true Vegas gemutlichkeit we stayed in an absolute dive. The Motel Monte Carlo in Bob Dole’s own Russel, Kansas was a respectable second, but Las Vegas’ Casablanca Motel wins the coveted Jenkie Award for Scariest Motel of Our Trip hands down. The Carpet Formerly Known as Orange Shag was itself carpeted with about a pound of cigarette butts and ashes, where they hadn’t burned through to the concrete floor, that is. The paper-thin Reel-Wud (TM) walls didn’t quite reach to the ceiling, and the tap in the bathtub didn’t actually turn off. The air conditioning didn’t work exactly, but it did emit the cooling scent of carcinogenic freon. But neither heat nor hail nor roach motels could keep us from our appointed rounds: which is to say checking out the fabled Strip.
Continue reading ‘Viva Las Vegas’
The Bomb was invented in New Mexico, but Nevada soon became prime real estate for underground and atmospheric testing. I dunno if that was such a good choice. If I was going to test a device that can level cities and vaporize all life for miles around, I’d want to do it somewhere you could tell.
On the highway from Arizona to Las Vegas we experienced the weirdest weather of our trip. The temperature was well north of 110 F (40 C) at the Grand Canyon in mid-afternoon. As we crossed into Nevada, things started to cool off–then black thunderclouds appeared out of nowhere and we were pelted with rain and actual hailstones like the wrath of God. That cleared in just a few minutes, and by the time we rolled into Vegas it was crazy hot again. I know it’s a cliche to say of Las Vegas, “people actually live there?” but seriously: people actually live there?
Oh yeah: And along this highway between Arizona and Las Vegas were occasional signs declaring the desolate wasteland a “National Recreation Area,” which inspired much hilarity. “Pick you up in seven or eight hours, kids,” says Dad, pushing his kids out of the station wagon onto the sun-baked dunes of ashen sand. “Daddy’s off to Caesars Palace. Enjoy the ‘Recreation Area!’”
Hoover? I Don’t Even Know Her
Also: Coming into Nevada, we drove across the Hoover Dam, admiring that great 1930s and 40s architecture that seems like it should be from Stalin’s Russia. (Or the new Hamilton bus terminal, built in 1995, go figure.) Walking around the dam, you feel like you’re in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis or at least Madonna’s “Express Yourself” video. So Derek and I vogued while Pete crawled on all fours and drank from a saucer of milk.