have all the cactus gone?
you know that Las Vegas is little more than fifty years old? Laree
and I are here to walk off the area as we prepare the second annual
IronOnline Bash scheduled for mid-October, the weekend of the Mr.
Olympia contest and fitness expo tentatively to be held at the Mandalay
Bay. There are caterers to review, hotel choices considering location,
price and appeal, the park location for the BBQ, transportation,
best-bet shows and Olympia tickets for those who are interested...
an array of details to be sorted out and smartly addressed. I'll
do the best I can, though I could sure use an assistant to help
with the incidentals.
are standing in the middle of your average casino in Las Vegas.
I'm no expert, of course, but without close inspection, they all
look the same to me. In fact, nothing really changes from year to
year and from casino to casino. The hotels come down and the themes
change, but at ground level the casinos remain the same: slot machines
and swivel chairs; game tables and stools; savvy, swift-handed dealers
and slow-eyed, slumping players; an occasional charge of positive
energy that accompanies a win and the all-consuming din in the great
between. My feet hurt, my eyes burn, I'm thirsty and Laree dropped
20 dollars worth of quarters among the jingling and jangling chrome
banditos. I told her so.
of the gambling rooms in the different hotels are older, lower,
darker and tighter than others; some stretch out in great length
and height, while others wander in every direction, a maze of walls,
mirrors, curtained arches, bristling elevated bars, ocean waves
of bursting, indistinguishable noise, spectral strobes and antiseptic
smells. The slots are upgraded and updated, the security and dealers
are older and more solemn, the garish décor regularly restored
or replaced as are the faces and bodies of the cocktail waitresses
marching the halls to the dysfunctional tunes of the slots. Drinks
anyone? We follow the people and the people follow us, row after
row of electronics and dancing lights and vanishing money.
money could very well be the same money that was here last year,
only there's more of it, a lot more. Where does it all come from
and where does it go?
the grand and grievous features of the great Nevada oasis, only
folly, like the molecular structure of the elements, remains the
same. I feel like a little kid standing in the rigid shadows, hands
clenching a fistful of hard-earned, long-saved dollars, refusing
to remove his mitts from the warm pockets of his faded, knee-torn
jeans. Take your hands from your pockets and the crumpled cash is
snatched away like candy from an innocent toddler or a weathered
outhouse from the fields in an Oklahoma cyclone.
not cheap. I'm fascinated. During Laree's uncontrollable and irresponsible
gambling frenzy, costing her 20 dollars and 10 minutes, I watched
a slight fellow with a trim beard wearing designer jeans and dirty
socks, chain-smoking till the ashes reached his finger tips, go
through 10 one-hundred dollar bills worth of chips at a roulette
wheel. As the wheel spun and the chips disappeared, he would slip
two or three starched bills from his wallet and buy some more. His
wife appeared at his shoulder, a scowl the size of a billboard on
her face and I thought, "This should be good." He reached
for his wallet unceremoniously and gave her a pair of hundreds and
a pair to little Miss Chips behind the table; all three smiled and
went about their business. Peace and prosperity in Las Vegas. I
excused myself quietly and left them to their hobbies.
can walk for miles in and around the hotels without leaving a building
or breathing fresh air for days. We take to the streets when we
can and join the mobs migrating from one land to another. Someone
said that everyone comes (or goes) to Las Vegas eventually and its
lavishness is not news to anyone. I find myself pleased to be here
as if it is something I must experience so that my reference points
are sharp and in sync... I must hear and listen to the beat of the
drums, shuffle along the path of the tribes, absorb the bombardment
of volumes of brilliant light splashes and bear the bruises and
scrapes awarded by direct social contact. You've got to be there,
hot and cold, to know, to understand, to believe.
course, you've got to get away. We were many days at the OK Corral
without leaving, and the weeds were beginning to grow under our
feet and out of our ears. Perspective needs air and room to stretch
and wiggle. The joints and bones and muscles don't mind a little
relief, and a change of diet goes well with a change of scenery.
I found a can of tuna in barbecue sauce on a shelf at a local market
that's a new one on the old bomber. We sat in a corner of the Bellagio
and had a scoop of gelato (Italian ice cream) after the late showing
of "O." The bright lights make us crazy.
expecting 150 IronOnliners to fly to the desert city in mid-October
to participate in the golden muscle and might gathering. By the
time we return to California this weekend we should have ideas to
share about the times, places and things. They will unfold without
confusion. Sure they will...
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