As I already mentioned, my trip was hardly Hunter S Thompson-worthy. I was there with my folks, aunts and uncles, so it was pretty sedate, and I didn’t really go with any specific plans, a gambling budget or really, any notion of how to gamble. I learned on the fly, at moderate cost to my wallet, but after my brother and cousin left a couple days in, I pretty much quit playing – not so much fun on your own. The bulk of my trip was spent gawking at The Strip – and there’s lots to gawk at. I took some pictures which I’ve linked at the appropriate spots in this post.
There’s a shitload of casinos. Everybody knows that. And they’re massive. But you know, once you get past the theme gimmick of each one, they’re really pretty much the same, at least to the casual tourist. They’re like Ernest movies. They might change the setting or offer up a plot twist, but they’re fundamentally the same beast. Luxor? Ernest Goes To Egypt and Gambles. Paris? Ernest Goes To France and Gambles. The MGM Grand? Ernest Goes To Hollywood and Gambles. Of course, this also means that if you like one, you’ll like them all.
Don’t get me wrong, I was impressed – all the casinos were amazing examples of excess. The Venetian and its indoor canals, The Bellagio and it’s opulance, even by Vegas standards (footnote – this is the casino that was robbed in the Ocean’s Eleven remake), and Caesar’s Palace and it’s utter enormity. It was in the fancy-pants mall at Caesar’s that I saw Mike Tyson doing some shopping and posing for photos with tourists. Myself excluded. My favorite spot was probably New York New York, with its roller-coaster, hotel in the shape of the Manhattan skyline and compact Statue Of Liberty out front. It was also the site of my biggest winnings (I rule the nickel slots!) and had the free shuttle bus back to the resort I was staying at. Can’t beat that.
Beyond the new Strip, there’s also old downtown Vegas, home of the original casinos and now pretty much relegated to poor stepchild status. They’ve built a giant metal canopy overtop old Freemont Avenue and run nightly lightshows on the thing – I didn’t see the show, but from the look of the setup, it’s got to take some crazy kind of electricity to juice. It was here that I got to satisfy my goal of seeing the big-ass cowboy sign as well as sample a deep-fried Twinkee. Not as gross as it sounds, actually, but still most definitely bad for you. Also bad for you are back-to-back all-you-can-eat buffets for lunch and dinner. Dear God, the gorging that went on. But hey – when in America, do as Americans do, right?
I did take a little time on my last day there to slip away from The Strip and head into the rest of the city, mostly to hunt out guitar and record stores, but also just to see Las Vegans in their native habitat. I also got to experience the wonders of Las Vegas public transit. Traffic in that town is crazy – I saw two four-car bang-ups in 24 hours, and according to the cabbies, that was not unusual at all.
Some other pics I couldn’t work into the narrative… Bally’s, The Barbary Coast, the scale Eiffel Tower at Paris, the scale Arc de Triomphe at Paris, the scale important fountain of some description at Paris, and a random shot of The Strip.
That’s enough about Vegas.
The New Year have completed the sophomore effort, The End Is Near, and will foist it on the world May 18, tour to follow. Forces are at work to bring the band to Canada, but apparently it’s a bit of a tough sell. Maybe Conan O’Brien will help convince them we’re worth visiting?
Some more Toronto shows just announced – On March 23rd at Lee’s Palace, Enon will make you jump around and then The Black Heart Procession will make you cry in your beer. Talk about your manic depressive bills. The Decemberists bring their stilted folk-pop to the Horseshoe on March 29th – $7 gets you on board Colin Meloy’s jolly voyage of the damned. I’m looking forward to this one, but not as much as I’m looking forward to Neko Case and The Sadies at Lee’s Palace on April 3rd and 4th. Fuck YEAH.
Mission Of Burma’s first new album in over 20 years will be entitled ONoffON and hit the streets May 4.
The second volume of Spiritualized’s Complete Works b-sides collection will be out February 10.
Only one more 2003 year-end list… I promise. Buddyhead’s best and worst of 2003. Who else would pit Liz Phair against Mr T? Check out the links to their lists for 2000 through 2002 while you’re at it. Merciless like Ming. From Burned By The Sun.
Zooey Deschanel has been cast as Trillian (nee Tricia McMillian) in the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy film. Also confirmed are Martin Freeman (from BBC’s The Office) as Arthur Dent and Mos Def(!) as Ford Prefect.
Always wanted to be a graffiti artist, but too lazy to start? Let Hektor do the work for you.
np – Ted Leo & The Pharmacists / Hearts Of Oak