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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Illusion of Las Vegas

My husband and I frequently travel to Las Vegas. By car. From New Orleans. The trip takes about three days, and we've done it enough times that we have it wired – we know which roads, which hotels, which eateries. We also have a list of “best Mexican food”, “best donuts,” and “best hamburgers” (if you leave me a comment I'll share them with you!)

Most people describe Las Vegas with terms like “legal gambling”, “bright lights”, and “all-you-can-eat buffets” and they are correct. 

That's not why I go there, however. For me it's an adult Disneyland.

Think about it. Disneyland is a fantastic place where they turn dreams into reality. They focus on children, however, so the dreams are castles, the yukon, and futuristic worlds with flying cars. Meanwhile, Las Vegas is a fantastic place, focusing on adult dreams. 


Get your head out of the gutter! I'm not talking topless dancers, although they have those, true. I'm talking about world travel. In one city, on one street, you can walk from France (Paris), to Italy (Bellagio and Caesar’s Palace), to Hollywood (Planet Hollywood). The attention to architectural detail in some of these casinos is amazing, stunning, and nothing short of gorgeous.

I know. You never noticed. You were too busy looking at the wheels spinning, or the dice tumbling, or the cards dealing. LOOK UP. LOOK AROUND. The architects and builders perfectly duplicated a number of cities and buildings and venues for you to ignore.

And none of it is real.

That's the kicker. There is no Las Vegas. There is no strip. There is only random collections of edifices designed to dazzle. And none of it is real.

Take a look at the Pallazzo/Venetian Casino. Do you see that building, the part on top? No, you really don't, because it's not there. That's a giant scrim, a cover over partial construction that stopped in 2008. Rather than finish they threw a big cover on it and never bothered to complete it.


Here's the Mirage, and its lake/lava pools. This is a desert, yet it was turned into a tropical oasis and volcano (bonus!). I love that. I love that someone had a dream, someone had the capitol, and someone had the determination to build paradise in the desert.



The Venetian is one of the most beautiful casinos on the strip, in my humble opinion. But you wouldn't know it from these pictures. Consider that they spend countless hours designing the front, countless dollars to create it by duplicating the details of the hundreds-of-years-old buildings, then decided to cover it with banners and adverts. Sheesh.

Penn Gillette said the lights of Las Vegas are powered by two things: the Hoover Dam and bad math. I'd like to include an active imagination. 

But you should never argue with an illusionist. I think he got it just right. 


1 comment:

Gwynnever du Marais said...

I agree, I've said Vegas is the adult version of disney land for years.