Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Vegas Baby, Vegas

There is really no easy way to describe the time I had in Vegas. Fucking fantastic is a good start, but that might understate things a little.

First off, Andy and Cindy were my hosts. Super laid back with only the decision of what tropical country they'll live in next year to worry about. Their apartment is on the 21st floor of this brand new hotel and condo complex, just behind the MGM grand. HDTVs, Egyptian cotton sheets, wifi, whirlpool bath, access to gym, and massive pool, etc. In a word: Plush.

On my last day in town, we arranged to meet up with some friends of theirs from Austin at Denny's to grab a bite to eat and then go hiking somewhere out of town afterwards. As we pulled into the carpark of Denny's, a reality stage show begun to unfolded in front of us. An old bloke, - who had on the worst (maybe the best, depending on your world view), wig ever constructed. The subtle Elvis stylings were greatly enhanced by bits of natural hair hanging out the side and the back - was having some car trouble. He was trying to jump start his circa 1989 V8 something with some other guy's circa 2007 4 cylinder something. As we all hopped out of the car, the old guy and his ever so eager assistant (who was covered head to foot in grease and seemed to have 3 different nervous tics fighting it out, occasionally colliding with each other causing for a big twitch and then a funny look at onlookers), were trying to clean the crap off of a pair on ancient jumper cables. Andy offered his brand new set, dug about tin the back of his car and presented it to them. We then left them to their devices, entered Denny's and put our name down for a table for 5. Seeing that we had a 20 minute wait ahead, we went back outside and waited for the Austin girls to show up, watching the drama of the car continue. By this stage, the original guy who had offered his car had given up and left. Andy and I, being the nosy types we are, added our two cents to the equation: "oh, so last night you were driving, you turned your headlights on and then 10 minutes later you engine died? Well that sounds like your alternator". The tic guy used us to confirm his earlier suspicions and looked really pleased about having some allies on this one. "as I was sayin' (tic), the alternator". He asked why I talked funny. I said I was from Australia. He then started talking about Australian women and about his aim to go there and marry one. By this stage, I had lost interest in fixing the car, opting rather to watch the calamity of characters duke it out for hands on the hips advising supremacy. There was tic man, a young Mexican guy, slick and this guy with a bandanna and a baseball cap on. The tic guy you know, and there was nothing really stand out about the Mexican guy, but slick and the bandanna hat guy were the bees knees when it comes to archetypes. Slick: A biker looking guy with a few DIY cell block tats on his hands, long unkempt hair, dusty denim pants and big cowboy boots, calling people "slick" at random. The dude with the bandanna and hat didn't say much or offer help, but hovered around the scene with his jeans deliberately slung half way down his thighs looked as if his morning dump had been unceremoniously interrupted. That be what the kids of today are wearing huh? The Austin girls show up and we leave Denny's, satisfied with what we had seen and not up for the extra wait for a table.

We go to a bagel place and over breakfast we learn the Austin girls (Amy and Cali), have gone out the last two nights, both are awfully hung over and have not slept or eaten properly for 48 hours. We all scoff our bagels and hit the road, headed to Red Rock for some boulder jumping. We spent a few hours exploring the terrain, splitting up and eventually joining back up for a debrief. Cindy had spent her rock climbing time sun baking, Cali spent it "napping", while Andy, Amy and I tried to out do each other with how far we could get. There were some fairly fearless jumping across big gaps in rocks ala those scenes in cop movies where a cop runs after the bad guy, jumping from roof to roof - but with less San Fransisco car chases.

Once we got back to the city, the Texans returned to their hostel, Andy went a played hockey, Cindy had a party nap and I went for a bike ride. It really is my happy place, cruising around a fresh city slower than a car but faster than walking. Made it to Fremont street, but the TV roof thing hadn't been switched on yet, so I just wandered about looking at the ghastliness of early afternoon Vegas. One weird thing was the music selection coming from the PA system. Tool's Sober played through its entirety and made for a disturbing soundtrack to groups of people stumbling about with 2-foot long margaritas in hand. Lenny Kravits came along straight after Tool and saved the day, returning the atmosphere to the preferred level non-confrontational subliminal niceties.

What is with this country and booze? I know this place was one of the few places prohibition caught on and the federal government withheld road funding a few years ago to those states who didn't tow the 21yo drinking age line, but jeez. Not letting people drink until they're 21? It's like a time bomb ticking away, finally exploding on the streets of Vegas, New Orleans or Cancun. When I was in Mexico, it was a few weeks before the US school year Spring Break. Some of the older Mexicans, who don't speaka da english too well, think "Spring Break", the war cry of beefcake college students, translates to "DESTROY EVERYTHING". I saw the same thing in Prague with English Bucks/Hens nights. These dumb arse westerners go to these places, get thoroughly liquored up on the cheap local poison and then maraud through the street, shouting, punching, smashing, shitting; all with assumed license. This may have something to do with this uptight feeling i get from the general public. Maybe that has to more with being ruled by fear, no public health care and ridiculous levels of competition between thy neighbor, but for argument sake I'm chalking this one up to the booze. By the age of 21, I had gotten most of my stupid drunken experiences out of the way, writing them off with other stupid things I did as a teenager. That said, many of the stupid things I did were a result of being drunk, but let's not get tangled up in detail here. In Austria, you can walk into a bar when you're 16 and buy a beer, but that country produced Red Bull, Hitler and the schnitzel so take from that what you will.

Leaving Fremont street, I headed back towards the centre to meet up with Andy and his mates for post-hockey beers. Beers out of the way, i chuck the bike in the back of his car and head back to the apartment. We hang for a bit then headed to the Stratosphere, the big sky needle casino at the border of the Strip and the old town centre. We wanted to squeeze in a couple of the rides on the top of the building before meeting up with the others. $20 buys you a trip to the roof and two rides. We picked the Big Shot and Insanity. The Big Shot lifted us 200 feet above the top of the building, giving us one of the best views of the Las Vegas Strip you could wish for. After that was Insanity, a rotating swing thing that spins around while being put out over the side of the building. Great stuff that succeeds in confusing your brain into thinking that no matter how many rides you've been on before, this time you really are going to die. I love rides.

The Diamond Club, which is a room that maybe 6 of the casinos have for their high rollers and big spenders was our next destination. Through some imaginative maths, Andy and Cindy are both members and inside we met up with their friends Troy and Heather. In this room, a paradise of free booze, food and entertainment awaits those privileged enough to get inside. As I ordered my third drink and ate my little gourmet sandwich, the line from Withnail and I came to mind "free to those who can afford it, very expensive to those who can't". Gold. I imagine a world where every necessity is comped for you by a big casino. What a socialist utopia that would be.

Once we finished our long island ice teas, we made our way to Jubilee, the quintessential Vegas stage show. Because we had booked our seats the night before (another free service offered with this fancy Diamond club), they were front row centre. Before the show started, I leaned my arm on the stage and just laughed at the situation. The show started, and sure enough it was complete with feathers, elaborate staging and semi nakedness. I've never seen that many boobs in the one place before so close up. Our seats really put us amongst it. I could hear the stage jewelery rattling, see bandaids covering arse tattoos and with the men's cod pieces in the Roman tribute, well lets just say you could tell who waxed and who shaved. Really overwhelming that close up and I suggest to the others the concept of seeing the same show in the same seats, but on acid. The horror. The horror. If you ever get a chance to see it, make note of the seamless transition in scene 8 between the tribute to the victims of the Titanic to the celebration of Yankee Doodle Dandy, complete with 20 semi-nude, semi-spandexed Yankee Doodlers. Who needs acid.

I managed to leave Vegas without gambling my money away, killing my liver (completely) and marrying some slapper. Thanks to Andy and Cindy for providing a totally unexpected but utterly fantastic Vegas adventure.

Next stop: The Grand Canyon.

1 comment:

PetStarr said...

Ahhh memories! I was in Vegas in November last year and god it was fun! Your post reminds me to actually get around to writing it up. One of these days... :)