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Beating Back The Vegas Demons . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My contacts feel glued to my eyeballs and every piece of clothing I own smells like smoke. When I do close my eyes, I can still hear the sounds of the casino - chips being stacked, dice being flung and especially the slot machines with their tilt-a-whirl cadence which somehow remains a happy tune despite the mechanical arm movements and glazed expressions of virtually every player.

It was definitely time to leave Las Vegas.

Five days in Vegas is like staying two weeks in a normal city. I was ready to flee by day three, which is the maximum allotment that anyone should actually remain inside the city limits or at least those imposed by the glitzy Vegas hotel strip.

Even recent transplants to the city echoed these feelings. My cab driver, who delivered me from the airport to the Palazzo hotel, shook his head in disgust when I told him about my plans. He bitterly recounted his decision to move from San Diego to Vegas after one wild weekend convinced him that he needed to live in Sin City on a full-time basis.

He was wrong. And he bemoaned his choice during our 20-minute drive before dropping me at the front doors and then screeching off to pick up the next tourist.

My waiter at the Grand Luxe café had recently left Austin with his wife, and was still settling into the sea change. When he saw my driver's license was registered in Austin, he nearly misted up and then straightened his posture and did concede that once you got off the Strip then "Vegas wasn't quite so terrible."

Personally, I enjoy Vegas in small doses.

It has an insistent vitality that demands action. Unfortunately, that same action typically involves indulging in vices like pouring booze down your neck, gambling, dancing, decadent meals, strip clubs, poolside lounging and staying out until 3 a.m. doing all of the above. It is far from a restful vacation.

If you don't believe it, then simply watch the people departing from the Vegas airport on a Sunday afternoon. It is an ugly sight of burst capillaries, busted dreams and sunburns.

But before I found myself fleeing the city in dark sunglasses and a lighter wallet, I did have a pretty damn good time. The suite at the Palazzo was stellar as I was on the 39th floor with mountain views, 3 flat-screen TVs including one in the bathroom, and an aerial vantage point to watch the fireball fight at Treasure Island every night.

{View From Suite Window}

I wished I could have stayed inside more often, but the first part of the week found me working a trade-show, an event which brings with it a peculiar brand of brute ugliness. It's also semi-amazing how standing on your feet all day long can absolutely wreck your body.

Once my wife joined me, however, I was able to shed any work obligations and simply take in the Vegas spectacle. We drank at swank bars inside the Bellagio, Palazzo and Wynn hotels, ate several outstanding meals, hit the Canyon Ranch spa, saw the white tigers at the Mirage, and finally caught a Circue de Soleil show (which was fairly exceptional).

The only problem was the price tag as virtually everything on the Strip is semi-outlandish. The best free show we found was walking through the nicer hotels around 1 a.m. and trying to spot all the hookers. This was remarkably easy, although to be fair, a lot of people dress like professional working girls when they hit the Vegas city limits without accepting any cash.

When I wasn't taxing my credit cards on meals and drinks, I managed to lose at both Blackjack and sports gambling as I took my worst Vegas beating to date. Luckily, this didn't include a baseball bat attack like a Martin Scorcese picture, but it is still painful to drop $50 in five minutes when your dealer catches a run of cards that always total 21.

But now I'm back in Austin and trying to reacclimate to normal hours and activities. There are far fewer prostitutes running amok and I don't find myself inside massive buildings in the perpetual twilight that you find in every Las Vegas casino.

I won't say it wasn't fun, but a return to normalcy does have its merits.



  1. Heff Says:
  2. Shit, I'm tired just from reading all that. Glad you could still afford to get back home, lol. Rest up.

  3. Miss Ash Says:
  4. Haha nice!! I agree by day 3 I'm usually begging to go home as Vegas can be exhausting so I can't imagine being there for almost a week.

    I"ve always wanted to see O would you recommend??

  5. Heff - You're right as it was exhausting writing it. Ha. I'm trying to rest, but I've got work to do and then the 3 day Austin City Limits music festival this weekend. Brutal.

    Miss Ash - I agree completely as 3 days works just fine, but any more than that and you're in trouble. I would recommend it as they did some really great acrobatic diving into water and some crazy, limber stretched positions. Very cool, but expect to drop about $100 or more for a ticket.

  6. Wendy Says:
  7. You make it sound tempting, even though I know what it's like. There's just so much damned walking, which is OK for me, but my hub is officially crippled.

    Although, there is the tram that goes over the street. Have you taken it? I was on it during the windy season last year and found myself praying to gods I didn't know existed.

  8. Linda Says:
  9. Sounds like a great trip. I'm right in the middle of reading Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, a friend I saw last week just got back from Vegas and I just watched Finding Amanda which is set in Vegas. Though I have never been (and wil probably never go), I feel like I know as much as I need to about that fair town. I'm happy for the stories. Glad you had a good time!

  10. I told you, three days is my limit, despite the company or view. Isn't it nice that you got to go home - I feel for the cabbie and waiter who were "home". Vegas makes me more exhausted than other trips. After this post, I think I know why. Although they have kinda become the West Coast's New York when it comes to shows.

    I saw BURN AFTER READING - I liked it!

  11. BostonPobble Says:
  12. Sounds like a a really good bachelor/ette party ~ something you don't EVER need to repeat; might not really want to admit to; but are damn glad to have the experience. Still, quite selfishly, it's good to have you home and writing again.

  13. The Troll Says:
  14. It's a cesspool. At any given time I have at least 50 Hospitality Professionals who moved to Vegas BEGGING me to find them a job in the real world.

    The longer they stay there, the more difficult it becomes to do so. The slime atmosphere kind of oozes into their system and nobody reputatable will hire them.

    Sad, kinda.

    P.S. If you like to gamble, try Biloxi or Tunica instead.

  15. slop Says:
  16. I remember my week long stint, except mine was all play, no work, right before leaving for Africa for two years. I lost 500 dollars on ONE roll of roulet(sp). Don't bet on black my ass.

  17. Wendy - You're right about the walking as I almost mentioned that before getting too lazy. I think it's both good and bad as it's nice to get the exercise, but it's an optical illusion when you think that things are closer than they appear and then you start walking and walking and walking . . . Ha. I have taken the tram, but not on this trip (it's a pretty good option in general without weather).

    Linda - Thanks as it was fun. Speaking of, I hope you're liking Fear and Loathing as that is an excellent book that does capture Vegas better than anything I've ever read or seen. But you might want to experience Vegas first-hand - at least once. Ha.

    Anonymous Boxer - It does do shows better than nearly anywhere as it's big business and they have it down to a science. 3 days is exactly my limit too as I am EXHAUSTED. Glad you liked 'Burn' as I thought it was fun too.

    BostonPobble - Selfish is fine in my book. Ha. And Vegas is perfect for bachelor/ette parties as I had my own party there and also a friend's and both turned out well (depending on your definition of well). It's an interesting ride.

    TheTroll - I figure you're dead-right about the slime factor or simply the odd living that you find on the Strip in Vegas. It would seem that the longer you're around it, then the more normal it becomes and that is kind of scary. I've heard decent things about Biloxi, so thanks for the tip.

    Slop - Ouch. You are a far braver man than I am, but I think the line from Passenger 57 is "Always bet on black." That was the only mistake, eh? Ha.

  18. JLee Says:
  19. Sweet suite! Very nice. Sorry about the losses and Vegas is a very expensive town in many ways for sure. Every time I go I try and see a Cirque show and it doesn't ever work out for some reason. Damn. Welcome back.

  20. cats Says:
  21. hey, i lived in atlantic city for years. gambling towns are just not nice places to live... after awhile they start sucking out your soul along with all your money.

    glad you're back safe and sound and that you had some reasonable fun with your wife.

  22. vegas is crazy. its as close to a hyper-reality as there is I think.

    Next time you go I'll forward you the number of a guy. He'll get you in anyplace you want to go

  23. Jlee - Puns are always welcome around here. Ha. I agree about Vegas and expenses as I'm sure if you get off the main Strip that you can get some better deals, but if you stay in one of the big ones, everything from water to food to gambling is brutal. It does feel good to be back (and in time for ACL).

    Cats - That must have been interesting to live and survive Atlantic City. Ha. I've never been there, but it just seems tough to me to live in such a gaming area. Maybe, maybe not I guess. And yes, my wife and I did have a good time as things went fairly smoothly and the food was great and the entertainment too. But I've had enough for now.

    Idig - WHere were you last week? Ha. I could have used it because they bend guys over (not literally) at the door even when you're with women. Brutal. Even if I still had to pay it would be great to skip the lines at Tao or wherever. And hyper reality is a great description for Vegas.

  24. I've lived here 6 years, and have yet to see a Cirque show. I probably ought to do that before I leave, eh?

    RE: Troll's comment, I'm feeling the slime ooze into my system as I type this.

  25. Native Minnow - You should definitely catch one as they seem to have about a dozen these days. I'd like to see Zumanity (sp?) too.

    And reflecting, I don't think slime is the right word, but I do think it would have to warp your perspective a bit by working every day at a casino on the Strip in that dim light as it screws me over in just a few days. Everything else that's off the Strip, I have no idea how that works at all, but I would assume it's a different ballgame.

  26. Blogger Says:
  27. I've just downloaded iStripper, and now I can watch the hottest virtual strippers on my desktop.


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