Alive In The Superunknown

September 9th, 2007

I woke the same as any other day except a voice was in my head.

The Las Vegas Strip might be one of the sketchier spots on Earth at six in the morning. I’ve run it all week long, each day driving me one step closer to despair.

This morning led me past Hollywood, Cairo, New York City, Rome, and Paris — all in less than an hour.

A handful of frat boys stumbled near The Luxor. A glassy-eyed couple made out in front of Caeser’s. A pair of teenager’s clicked by Paris, Paris in Lucite heels. A woman sat in a crumpled heap in front of the Bellagio. And overlooking it all: a three hundred-foot Toni Braxton (brought to you by Pepsi).

It said, ‘Seize the day.’

Try as I might to embrace the spirit of the place, I just can’t get behind Las Vegas. It’s not so much the over-sized buildings designed (it seems) to be razed with just a few bricks of C4. It’s not even the philosophy of excess; I’m all for it (in moderation).

Here’s what gets me (relish the paradox, people; I do every day): celebrity culture.

This town — and to be clear, Las Vegas is just an amplified, concentrated, saturated totem for the rest of culture — says one thing: you deserve to be treated like a star. You deserve 10,000 square feet, a granite-tile bathroom, door-to-door Towncar service, Belvedere vodka, Beluga caviar, and $15,000 Dior gold-feather, diamond-crusted flip-flops (I saw ’em on the Today Show).

Problem is, The House always wins. So it’ll cost ya’.

But… we’d be happy to extend your credit line!

I’ve seen it play out over and over this week. From the outside, The Palms looks hip and luxurious. Inside, it might as well be the Meskwaki Casino in Tama, Iowa: orange carpet, Formica poker tables, ash trays on every urinal, and thousands of stumbling, mumbling, short pant and Lucite heel-wearing living like Britney on a maxed out Mastercard.

And as goes Vegas — I would argue — goes the world.

Moreover, these, of course, are the values the company for which I work embraced (some might say originated, concentrated and saturated) this weekend. To that end, somewhere around mile five — quads burning, mouth dry — Joan Osbourne’s “One Of Us” gave way to Soundgarden’s “The Day I Tried To Live” on my iPod.

One more time around, I resolved.

One more time.