Archive for January, 2011

Report From Las Vegas

January 24, 2011

I know I should get out more, but what are you gonna do?

Anyhow, I usually go to a trade show in Las Vegas once a year, and it’s astounding how run down that town has become in the last couple of years.

OK, I stayed at a cheap place on the strip this time, but it was the same one I stayed at a couple of years ago.

Everything reeked of delayed maintenance and cost cutting. Dirty carpets and peeling paint.

There was no one manning the coffee shop so I had to go and find her  myself.

At the Karaoke bar, there were no waitresses or even a bartender behind the bar and the people had to walk up the stairs and then another 100 yards to find a drink. Exact same thing at the resort across the street.

I was chased down the hall by a desperate  russian lady who wanted me to buy her beauty products.

As if.

But the worst was the food.

I guess i’m a food snob to most americans. I eat the way most people ate here 50 years ago, but that  has become some kind of elitist thing. You know, mostly organic and homemade  stuff and like that.

But even taking that into consideration, the food I had this trip was a new category of bad. It just made me think of death.

In fact the whole trip made me contemplate mortality, which is the exact thing you go to Vegas to deny.

The return plane was 3 hours late, with no explanation from the airline. The airport was full of people from previously cancelled flights standing in endless lines trying to get on any flight back home.

One couple missed their flight because they got severe food poisoning.

When I finally got on my plane home, the stew handed me a cold coffee without making eye contact, asking me if I wanted cream, or even mumbling hi.

When we arrived, they couldn’t find anyone to drag the accordion thingy out to the plane, so we had to wait another half hour.

Three years into this recession, the wheels  are really starting to come off.

I fully expect to return to vegas  one of these times and find nothing but crickets and tumbleweeds.

UPDATE: I just couldn’t believe how shabby vegas is starting to look, so I did some reading when I got back.

The unemployment rate is over 14% and two-thirds of the houses are underwater.

Cities that have a more educated population are doing better in this recession, I read.

Las vegas, is almost dead last in per student spending.

Almost all the jobs  before the recession were either construction or working in the casinos. And for women, there were more degrading options as well.

Not that i’m a prude, but there is something crass about the way sex is comoddified there.

As far as the food, I remember about 7 years ago, they discovered the celebrity chef. Everyone was stumbling over one another to present the hippest food. These chefs had private planes bring in the best ingredients from all over.

And the prices were partially subsidized by the casinos.

It’s gotten steadily worse to the point where the staff at the casinos  no longer eat the free lunch and just bring a lunch from home, foregoing one of the few traditional perks that made the job tolerable.

The chamber of commerce floated this bloated pretentious scheme called “city center” which was planned before “the great recession”. It’s a huge mega block of A-list architects projects all jumbled together with useless “luxury” stuff financed mostly by middle east oil money.

They also made the fatal flaw of not connecting it to the casinos with a walkway. It’s really a ghost town.

In fact the number of street people seem to be increasing as the number of tourists falls.

It doesn’t help that there is a new  big casino in Macao. Also the number of Indian casinos grows and lots of states are allowing sports betting. Plus there is online betting.

Of course the whole idea of las vegas is preposterous starting with the fact that there is no water there and it has to be stolen from somewhere else.

While it used to have that disorienting quality where it was so  busy all the time that you didnt know what day it was, now the only signs of lifes are on weekends when kids drive in from LA to party. Grim.