It was a fun trip, though more than 3 days in Vegas would be asking a bit too much. We were excited to get there, but by the time our last day rolled around we couldn’t get out of there fast enough. Funny how that works. I’ve posted a photo gallery of various stuff from the trip, both lovely and sordid, and there’s even a 5-minute video for your enjoyment. (It’s been edited down from a more obnoxious 10 minutes.)
I have mixed feelings about Las Vegas (more specifically, the Strip). On one hand I’m astonished at the amount of money and effort they put into these enormous spectacles of architecture. Some of the fancier hotels are quite beautiful, and the shopping areas inside are usually just as nice to look at. Enormous sculptures, detailed replicas of famous landmarks and artworks, cavernous shopping spaces — it’s all there to gawk at and enjoy. On the other hand, though, there’s an undercurrent of tacky, artificial splendor — you also know it’s just mindless spectacle and it doesn’t amount to much besides a fancy place to shop and gamble. There’s little original culture to be found, it’s all just stuff borrowed from other places and dropped onto the Strip to catch your attention. It’s so unbelievably gaudy and shallow, but I gotta admit is one of the things that fascinates me about it. Las Vegas is such an anomaly to me, something that doesn’t seem like it should be able to exist and thrive where it is.
We had some time to kill on Friday, so we walked down a ways to Circus Circus and the Riviera, a couple of “old school” casinos. They were a bit darker, dingier, and stinkier than the more modern casinos only a few blocks away, but they also have a certain sleazy charm about them. It was fun to wander around and just people-watch. At the Riviera, I saw a lounge singer who looked like he was right out of the movies (black jacket, red shirt with massive lapels, high hair) serenading an older woman with “That’s Amore” in his best Dean Martin voice. She was dancing with him and everything, it was a hoot. See, that’s the kind of stuff you won’t find at The Bellagio or Treasure Island…all you’ll find there are slutted-up hoochies and douchebag fratboys gawking at them. It made me wonder: how did the Strip become so upscale? Why is it now dominated by unbelievably expensive hotels, opulent casinos, swanky dining, and high-priced entertainment? (The answer is, of course, money — because people will pay to go regardless of the cost.) It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the faux-luxury atmosphere sort of takes some of the cheesiness out of things, and that cheesiness is part of what makes Vegas a fun place to visit.
Speaking of expensive hotels, we stayed at the Palazzo and the room just blew our minds. Walking around it for the first time, the words “palatial” kept coming to mind, and we had the smallest room they offer (720 sq ft). See the photos for yourself and you’ll agree — it’s no wonder the hotel cost $1.8 billion to build! The lobby alone felt like the entrance to a famous museum or something. Simply amazing. We appreciate the cheese, but the overblown luxury of this place was kind of cheesy in itself…so we enjoyed it. Luckily we got a good package deal on it, otherwise there’s no way we could have made it happen! Next time, however, we plan on staying a night or two over near Fremont Street at one of the older classic joints, which should be cheap and fun.
The people roaming around the Strip were a constant source of entertainment and annoyance. The biggest offenders were the douchebag guys walking around. (We used to call them “tools”, but “douche” is so much more fitting.) They travel in little groups of three or more, and they’re usually dressed the same: boot-cut jeans, tennis shoes, untucked vertical-striped dress shirt, messy-moussed hair (or perhaps a “faux hawk”), and a shell necklace or chain around the neck. Sometimes they’re wearing a t-shirt with some douchey slogan on it, or a polo shirt with the collar popped. They’re also usually carrying a beer bottle or one of those half-yard cocktail glasses shaped like a bong or the Eiffel Tower. Oh, and let’s not forget the occasional baseball cap on backwards. Anyway, you certainly know the type. We saw these guys EVERYWHERE we went — every casino, hotel, mall, shop, food court, and stretch of sidewalk we happened to be, roving bands of these neanderthal twats were always nearby. It made me feel truly sorry for all the straight women out there who have to wade through all this in order to find a non-douchey man. (Those who want a non-douchey man, anyway. From what we saw, some don’t.)
Some of these guys managed to actually be with a girl, and of course she was usually dressed like Paris Hilton’s protégé with her ass crack hanging out and the muffin-top on full display. At night, it’s the gaggles of slutted-up hos who take center stage, roaming from one nightclub to the next, half of them tapping on their phones and the other half giggling loudly for attention and sipping on their half-yard cocktails. It’s strange to see so many random girls walking around dressed like pole-dancers, but I suppose Vegas is all about letting go of your inhibitions or whatever. But still…they were pretty gross. And young. Ewww. All in all, the people we saw there were a far cry from the hipsters and granola chicks that call Seattle home.
We did have some excellent food there, though. Dos Caminos in the Palazzo had truly excellent Mexican food, and some incredible decor besides. After the Bette Midler show, we had a lovely late-night meal at some Italian place in the Venetian, I forget the name but not the lasagna! We also had a couple of shitty meals, one of which was at a Quizno’s near the Riviera (and it was the best option around) and I forget the other. It’s probably for the best. But overall we had pretty good luck with the eatin’. Needless to say, I took a few food photos. 🙂
The shows we saw were excellent as well. First was “O” by Cirque du Soleil — it was interesting to see how they adapted their show to make use of water. The usual stunning acrobatics and bizarro “what the hell is going on” antics were there, but having it centered around water added to the appeal. We sat in the front row, and since all the dancers were dripping wet and wearing skin-tight outfits, we got a real faceful of just about everything. (Some of the men were nice to look at, but a bit too dancy-prancy for my taste.) Our other show was Bette Midler at Caesar’s Palace, and she was a hoot as expected. She was in full Diva mode, sassy and bitchy and full of smarmy wit. Her song & dance numbers were also a lot of fun, though she was only allowed to perform for 1.5 hours according to some weird Vegas rule. I suppose they can’t keep people from gambling and shopping for too long… She did have some good jokes about certain Vegas acts, though. One of my faves was, “My dancers have something you can’t find anywhere else in Vegas: their tits are ALL REAL! And not one of ’em is a French-Canadian Cirque performer!” (Because, if you didn’t already know, you can’t walk one block in Vegas without running into a billboard or poster hawking one of the half-dozen Cirque du Soleil shows there.) She made another good crack about the ginormous mural of Toni Braxton plastered onto the side of the Flamingo Hotel: “Who gets the room in her crotch?” Jokes aside, she’s a real class act and you’d be crazy to miss her do her thing.
Anyway, thanks to you commenters who suggested things to do while we were there…we didn’t get to do them all but there’s always next year, hmmm?