If extraterrestrials ever land on Earth, I’m going to recommend that they skip visiting France and head straight to Las Vegas. This is not only because Las Vegas has so many flickering neon lights that, even from space, it will render alien spaceships helpless with epilepsy until we can knock them from orbit with missiles and then question them about whether or not they’re peaceful. It’s also because, when the surviving aliens crash land, they will be fairly impressed with Las Vegas.
For those of us regular terrestrials just looking to drink in public and find interesting ways to flush our money down the toilet, Las Vegas is an excellent city. While I had visited before, previous excursions occurred before I reached the age of majority/sinning. It was the perfect city to do launch my inaugural book signing of From the Monkey Cage: Fixing Politics Through Wit & Cartoons.
Let’s start with the airport. It has slot machines. Granted, slot machines are just about as entertaining as change machines, only you don’t get your money back. But they still elevate the Las Vegas airport to a level of carefree fun typically absent from the gouge-your-eyes out décor of aerial mass transportation. I was instantly smitten, and even wrote a lengthy and ponderous tweet to my home airport in Oklahoma City extolling them to install a mechanical bull in the departure lounge to glam things up a little.
If Las Vegas was really smart they would pay strippers to double as TSA agents, so that getting wanded and x-rayed would be vaguely kinky. Say, you get in the sonar machine or whatever the hell it is at the security checkpoint, but on the other side a TSA agent does a burlesque show while they check to see if you’re smuggling dolphins or whatever. Nevada has yet to implement this obvious TSA/stripper crossover, but if anyone in Vegas or the federal government is reading this (and one of the two surely is), we would all complain about security less if we thought the metal detector line had a good chance of resulting nudity unrelated to us.
The wonder of Las Vegas only gets better outside of the airport. The original pioneers could have scratched out a few suburbs in the godawful heat of the desert, hoping that a Tabernacle Choir might eventually wander in. Instead they figured, “What if we just let everyone do whatever they actually wanted, and threw in some neon lights and liquor?”
Walla! A Disneyworld for adults! In Epcot Center, as you will recall, the whole world is shrunk and packaged so that exhausted toddlers can see Germany or Morocco, or any one of the eleven countries which comprise the nations of Earth. The same goes for Las Vegas! There’s Paris, Venice, Rome, Egypt, Monte Carlo, and Fiesta Rancho.
I gambled while there, but not for long, because I understand how gambling works. But there were plenty of other activities to indulge in when not promoting my book. Being tipsy is a pretty good one. My group watched “O” by Cirque de Soleil, which I contend is staffed and choreographed by the aforementioned aliens we probably shot down. The day I flew out I fired a Tommy gun. (In a gun range, although I imagine you can probably fire bullets indiscriminately into the sky with the right hotel package.) My girlfriend fired a gun for the very first time, finally enabling her to run for Congress as a Republican.
A lot of people talk about Las Vegas as a gaudy blight on the desert, but these losers should head to Branson, Missouri where they belong. Las Vegas is founded on making people happy and making money, both of which are laudable and more interesting than cheap suburbs originally founded to avoid bus integration.
I think Las Vegas actually has a lot of beauty to it. The Venetian actually has a canal built right inside. The ceilings are painted to mimic skies. If Herodotus had been smart enough to vacation in Las Vegas, he would have dropped several Wonders of the World from his list entirely. That’s not hyperbole, either: The Fountains of Bellagio shoot water 460 feet into the air, and have 1,200 nozzles!
The Palace of Versailles was merely decadent. Las Vegas has given us an Enema of the Gods.