Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Contiuning in our Las Vegas theme, I ran across an article in the October issue of Smithsonian magazine by someone who dislikes Vegas even more than I. Journalist J.R. Moehringer lived in Vegas while collaborating on a book with Andre Aggasi, and he has this to say about America's playground:
Vegas isn’t a real city. It’s a Sodom and Gomorrah theme park surrounded by hideous exurban sprawl and wasteland so barren it makes the moon look like an English rose garden.
No matter what you read about Vegas, no matter where you read it, this assertion invariably pops up, as sure as a face card in the hole when the dealer’s showing an ace. Vegas is unlike any other American city, and yet Vegas is America? Paradoxical, yes, but true. And it’s never been more true than during these past few years. Vegas typified the American boom—best suite at the Palms: $40,000 a night—and Vegas now epitomizes the bust. If the boom was largely caused by the housing bubble, Vegas was bubble-icious. It should be no surprise, therefore, that the Vegas area leads the United States in foreclosures—five times the national rate—and ranks among the worst cities for unemployment. More than 14 percent of Las Vegans are without work, compared with the national rate of 9.5 percent.
I’ll miss the whole seamy, seedy, icky, apocalyptic tawdriness of it all. While I was busy hating Vegas, and hiding from Vegas, a funny thing happened. I grew to love Vegas. If you tell stories for a living or collect them for fun, you can’t help but feel a certain thrill at being in a place where the supply of stories—uniquely American stories—is endless.
That doesn’t mean I’m staying. Vegas is like the old definition of writing: though I don’t enjoy writing, I love having written. Though I didn’t enjoy Vegas, I love having lived there.
Read the whole article here.
Jamie Baker Roskie
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