Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Beer and Roaming in Las Vegas

Sunday night lights.
I eventually found Matt waiting in the other terminal to which I arrived, and we took a cab into the glowing city. Rainbow lights poured down from high-rise casinos and hotels and a stream of plump and greying tourists flowed along the pavements. We got dropped off at our hotel – The Flamingo – checked in and dropped our bags in the clean and modern room on the 20th floor, with great views across the city. After a quick freshen up we headed out to the strip for an explore and to find our bearings. We walked towards the brightest lights and where the chaos was greatest. Every twenty yards glum-looking immigrants thrust flyers for prostitutes towards us; they knew their market. There were pictures of famous pornstars on the cards, claiming to be 'Stacey' and available for $39. How their careers have plummeted. We wandered in some of the casinos, which were ridiculous. Many of them were themed, such as Paris and New York New York; and I laughed at how fantastically opulent yet tacky they were. The casino halls themselves were little different from what you find on the British seaside, except they were all gambling machines, variations on fruit machines, one armed bandits, card game machines, and then the tables for games like roulette and poker. It could've done with some Time Crisis or something with a narrative. The halls were cavernous and smokey, and filled with old people; the constant jangling of melodies erupted from everywhere to create the theme tune to a headache. It was all pretty mesmerising and fantastically disgusting in equal measure. We played a few of the machines. I seemed to win and double my money every time, but I never made more than $10, before losing it all. It was entertaining though, even though I'm not really a gambler. We had some dinner in a French themed restaurant, which was alright. We had to queue for it, they stuck all the old people in dim corners at the back, we were seated on the front next to the walkway. We were happy with the view, but joked we were the window dressing to entice people in. It soon filled up. We spent the night drinking a few beers in different places, and walking the main drag and checking out the various casino halls. It was a bit like a Disney for adults with vices, and although from a Christian perspective Satan and sin was everywhere, it was all very mild and I didn't witness anything particularly crazy. That said, the whole strip is an assault on the senses, and I certainly wouldn't want to scoff any hallucinogens, like the movie Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, it might be a bit too much - reality here can be filled with enough ripples and time-loops naturally. I also didn't see any drunk people. Not properly drunk. Not like you see in any British town on a weekend. The Americans don't drink like we do. I didn't see any fights, any arguments, no girls in heels falling over, no vomit, no blood. It couldn't done with it really. It was largely older couples, approaching retirement, looking bored of each other and pissing their money into machines. The Sunday night was Remembrance Sunday, and the town was full of young marines in dress uniform, looking very smart; many with young girls in cocktail dresses on their arms. They were generally walking around without any purpose, and didn't really seem to be letting loose. Shame. The rest of the people were a mix of seedy guys, freaks and weirdos, young unsure people and wide-eyed tourists. Mostly though it was older people. Like older people, we were both exhausted come midnight, which was pathetic really; but that was 8am UK time and my body clock still hadn't adjusted, so we decided to call it a night.

Looking down Las Vegas Boulevard, aka the Strip.
Inside Paris.
Matt chasing his own American Dream.
A-frame mobile whore advertising.
Look, there's a bum.
Word of my sporting heroics has reached America.
This is normal.

Inside one of the casino caves.
The following morning we both woke early, our body clocks still ticking along to the UK, and after breakfast in the room we went out, a little unsure what to do with our day. We went the opposite direction to the night before, and explored some of the other casinos and hotels. They were equally as ridiculous as the others; the Venetian had a canal running through it complete with gondolas to ride. All of the casino hotels were also giant shopping malls, with a range of shops from H&M to Gucci. We didn't go in any of them. We started drinking at about 11am in Caesars Palace, just a pint to start with over some brunch, then into some other casino halls to drink bourbon on the rocks. We had one called Knob Creek, simply because I wanted to order 'two knobs on the rocks' without giggling. I almost managed it. I could feel this drink hit me, and it was the beginning of a boozy afternoon. We played a few machines, won then lost it, before deciding to play roulette at a table. The bets were a minimum of $15, which we didn't realise at first. In fact the whole thing was a bit of a learning curve, the etiquette, the rules, and the staff were on the ruder side of helpful. In fact I'd found quite a lot of the Americans rather rude, abrupt and abrasive, and short with their answers. I got told off for moving Matt's chips, even though I could reach and he couldn't, amongst various other misdemeanours. In three spins of the roulette wheel we'd turned our meagre pile of chips into $102, somehow and inexplicably. The first bet we lost, the second we split it on black and evens, it landed on 20, so we won both counts and doubled our money. We banked the winnings and left the same bet on the table. We won again. We then decided to leave, not really liking the roulette guy, and knowing the only way to win is to quit the game right now, cash the chips, and leave the casino. It felt a bit like robbery, and someone was going to ask for it back at any point. We walked out giggling, with enough money in our pocket to get drunk for the afternoon. We went into another casino, Treasure Island, which was fusty and cheap, but we could drink $6 mojitos at one of the bars, which suited us fine. We played a few of the machines, only small bets, but came away with nothing, before settling at the bar and chatting to a late middle aged guy from Kentucky called Jay. I quite enjoyed talking to him. We talked everything from sport to weed to Edward Snowden and lots of things in between. He must've enjoyed talking to us as he insisted on buying us a round of drinks, so we gratefully accepted and chatted some more. 

Our hotel - The Flamingo. It had Flamingos in the garden. Real ones.
One of the many wedding chapels.
One of my short-term winnings.

Caesar's Palace.
Down by the Venetian.
Our old friend Jay. He was alright, really.
By 5.30pm we were a bit drunk, and I wanted to go and take some photos. It was already dark so I'd missed the golden hour, but Matt went for a wander while I indulged my photography, but didn't really manage to get anything great. Afterwards I met up with Matt again, had some dinner and a beer, before heading to a comedy hypnosis show we'd bought tickets for. Vegas is full of shows, the bigger ones were well over $100, which we weren't going to pay, so we opted for some cheap no-name, just to say we went to a show. It started at 10pm and ten minutes later I was asleep in my chair. I don't know if the hypnosis was having an effect on me, or the fact I was shattered and a mild hangover was already kicking in, as it does when you get drunk on spirits in the middle of th afternoon. I only saw some of the show, waking up in and out of it. It seemed ok, but not worth the struggle to stay awake for. It was dark and the seat was comfy, pretty relaxing aside from the moronic laughs of much of the audience, creased up at the sight of someone pretending they're on a Playboy photoshoot. The bits I saw were entertaining, I even smirked a few times and exhaled through my nose as a sign of amusement, but that was all I could muster. I had hoped to have a wild night of unexpected tales and delights, but come midnight I was crawling into bed again, unable to handle any more of Vegas. It didn't seem like there was that much there for me anyhow. Maybe I did it wrong, maybe I went to the wrong places, but the Vegas I saw was barrel-bellied men from the mid-West placing irresponsibly large bets and dry-humping the American Dream. It was also filled with silent dead-eyed Californian women, deep into retirement with permed hair that didn't make them look any younger, and the cigarette stuck to their lips made me question how they'd made it this far, pumping coins into fruit machines like they were feeding a dream they couldn't kick. I didn't encounter the actual craziness which is meant to be embodied by Vegas. The casinos are quite mad, the opulence and tackiness is insane, but I didn't really stumble upon any insane behaviour, which I was hoping to do. It was all a little tame. Perhaps the people I know who have raved about it filled their hotel room with hookers and their face-holes with drugs, but I doubt it; I think perhaps instead they're just easily pleased. 

Inside another of the gambling pits.
I kept repeating the same style of photograph.
And another.
It's a bit late for this, pal.


  1. Top work again, squire. Did you see the pirate ship sinking? Have fun out there!

  2. Cheers, Leon. No - is that at Treasure Island? I saw a pirate ship out the front of there, but I didn't pay it very much attention, as I was about to buy a margarita but then the excitement gave me a little nosebleed. Got a 12 hour drive today, but looking forward to it.

  3. thee Flamingo? "I fear nothing"!

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