First, you should know that I was born and raised in northern Nevada – Reno is the “ugly cousin” to the more “beautiful” Las Vegas. We’ve always been considered “small and dirty” up north. But we had a secret weapon… Lake Tahoe.
One of the many reasons I haven’t blogged is due to my travels in Vegas this week – but that’s really no excuse. To be frank, I’ve been in culture shock – and I consider myself fairly cultured (you might disagree).
I grew up around, and in Vegas. My family dabbled in highly public backgrounds. My stepfather held a series of prominent political and corporate positions. He and my mother partied with the social elite of Vegas…at the very highest peak of the ultra-hip 80’s. I worked in Vegas in the mid-80’s at Caesars as a Front Desk Assistant Manager.
My experiences then were dark and nefarious… and nothing has changed my opinion since this week. I think that’s the basis of the Vegas brand… “be bad”. That works when you’re young, and “being bad” is really, truly fun. And of course, it works when you’re much older… when “being bad” is not a sport, but an great anomaly in your daily life. For those of us who are middle aged, and want to be good while being bad, Vegas has little to offer.
Traffic congestion grinds to a stop at 3:30pm all around the Strip. There’s no accident ahead on the road…just congestion. That haze you see in the sky isn’t temporary smog…it’s permanent, and hangs like the thick cigar smoke you smell inside the “resorts”. The locals complain they no longer enjoy a sunny, clear sky. They suffer like those in Los Angeles…without the cultural influences of that southern metropolis. Projections note an increase of an additional 400,000 people in the next three years, and the hopes of those individuals getting their private slice of the desert is ever decreasing.
It’s a mirror image of our nation. Rich or poor – and very little in between.
I spoke with a group of very smart, good looking young women about a recent adventure to “Tao“…a popular local nighclub. Each of them grimaced at the thought of their experience, which surprised me. They went for a good time together, but were groped in areas not worth describing as they tried to cross the dance floor to get to the other side near a bar.
Now I know…you’re saying “what did they expect?”. I’d expect they should be able to go out together, have fun together, without being physically violated by unknown men out in Vegas to “have a good time”. I’m obviously too optimistic. But they did seem permanently disturbed and disappointed. Before you blame them, you need to know them. They don’t deserve to be treated in any disrespectful way by any man at any time. I wonder what’s become of class and civility sometimes.
I’ve seen more cigarettes thrown out of car windows this week per capita than ever in my life. Pepto Bismol pink buses chug smoke into the sky while they are wrapped with promises by the sponsor to “get you off free” from any pending traffic violations and misdemanors ( a minor fee). Taxi’s are riddled with thong-clad women, baring their butts for the public to admire (including those kids riding with you). And everything, I mean everything, looks like it needs a really good coat of paint (except Wynn, of course).
OK…I’m down on Vegas. I’m sure they’re are literally millions of experiences to the contrary that I have yet to experience. And I’ve had some incredible meals in that city… and ogled some insanely expensive clothes. But for me, the positioning of “What Happens In Vegas, Stays In Vegas” is ironic. With the increasingly agressive traffic, overly inflated prices, and the drive to be #1 at any cost… that sounds like a pretty good brand promise.
Yes…I’ll go back for business… because I have to. But live there? No way…I’m spoiled living in the “ugly cousin” territory of Reno/Tahoe.