US & World

Prioleau Alexander: Vegas, Baby!

“What happens here stays here? Only an American could be dumb enough to believe this …”

It occurred to me, while flying to Las Vegas last week, that there are few things more USA! USA! USA! than Sin City.

It unifies all peoples, as Democrats are there blowing money that could be going to social programs … Republicans are blasting through money like there’s no debt accumulation… and Big Gambling is hoovering money out of middle-class wallets with such efficiency, the IRS has them on a consulting retainer and speed dial.

Whether liberal, conservative or libertarian, everyone is looking to get rich quick – and if it means blowing junior’s college money by trying to draw to an inside straight, so be it. Like I said, it’s a Red, White, and Blue extravaganza!

From the moment you step into the first casino, you reach into your wallet and … do something dumb … which you ignore, of course double down on the aforementioned dumb thing … which fails as well, and soon you’re chasing your money. Nothing good happens when you start chasing your money. The only thing stupider would be to start a land war in a nation known as the Graveyard of Empires ever since Alexander the Great blew into town.

The food in Vegas is … obscene. At both the lower and upper end of the income spectrum.

At the seedier resorts, $21 buffets offer unlimited fried shrimp caught nine months ago in China, ribs that look an awful lot like they’re Great Dane-sized, and all-you-can-maul fried ice cream bars with a chocolate fountain. If one day we end up with government healthcare, Las Vegas buffets will have been the tipping point — because politicians will want in on the action when they notice the richest doctors in the world are cardiologists and endocrinologists plying their trades on the Strip.

In the luxury resorts, you’ll find some of the finest dining in the world — all those dudes on the TV cooking shows where they yell a lot have restaurants in Vegas. This food, however, is enjoyed only by the wealthy, and the rare individuals smart enough to know you can’t tell when a particular slot machine is “hot,” or “count cards” into a five-deck chute.

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The sure-fire way to enjoy the fancy food is to exit the casino within ten minutes of waking up, then sit on the Strip and people-watch all day. Come dinner time, you’ll have what no other visitor has — money, which can be traded for white-tablecloth food.

Another true-blue American fallacy regarding Vegas is the saying, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” Only an American could be dumb enough to believe this. Every single moment spent in city limits is recorded by two or three cameras … at the same time, from different angles. Remember Gary Hart, and that lone photo of him on the Monkey Business yacht in Bimini? The lone photo that derailed his Presidential campaign? Try being a public figure in Vegas — they could assemble a multi-season Netflix series on your behavior without re-creating a single frame of video.

Everyone knows Americans love death-defying adventures, and it’s all available in Vegas: Drugs, booze, STDs, dirty tattoo needles, and borrowing a few grand from Jimmy “The Cleaner” Garduchi, because you choked the ATM into submission. Death is also somewhat certain when your wife comes back from getting her hair done, and finds out you blew Muffie’s summer camp money on a hefty-bag of shrooms, a case of Tito’s and tickets to five-straight-days of Circ’ de Sole (oh, and clothing optional entertainment).

Americans also have a fondness of embracing self-social-Darwinism. The Strip is lined with the bodies of visitors who, despite being on one of those scooter things for 300+ pounders, have been overcome by the summer heat, tipped over, then fried to a crisp by the skillet they call asphalt. Yes, visiting during the cooler months might prevent some of these early departures from their earthly coil … but summer is the high season, because the kids are out of school. If you’re going squander your kids’ hopes for a secure financial future, it’s only polite to buy them an ice cream and let them swim at a nearby pool.

Based on my visits, I offer this simple advice: Don’t go to Vegas in the summer. I know what you’re thinking, but no — you ain’t gonna see super-star models by the pool — and if you do, they’re by the pool to make a living, not listen to you talk about your days in the Navy Seals. So, you’ve been warned: There are no modeling stars, but you will encounter the stars of next 20 seasons of The Biggest Loser, all in bikinis and speedos.

Capitalism is gloriously on display even on the sidewalks of Vegas, as men who appear to be failed used-car salesmen hand out flyers by the tens of thousands, offering the services of nubile young ladies dying to accompany you to the U2 concert at the Sphere. Yes, U2 can find a platonic friendship with a young lady drugged and on loan from Eastern Europe.

(Click to view)

Irish rock band performing at Sphere in Paradise, Nevada in the Las Vegas Valley on Oct 7, 2023 as part of their concert residency U2:UV Achtung Baby Live at Sphere. (James Dugas/ Wikimedia Commons)

In a story so true it must be googled, one of these upstanding ladies (working her way through college, no doubt) recently attended the U2 concert with a man (simply seeking conversation, no doubt) during which she slipped out, returned to their room, and relieved her “date” from the burden have having $50,000 cash in his hotel safe.  

Perhaps the most ingenious mainstay of Vegas is the slot machine. These computer-driven machines relieve the gambler of any form of actual luck, and simply inhale money – then provide a small “jackpot” on occasion to keep the money coming in. Other Google-worthy stories are about the lucky few who’ve won big at the slots, only to be told the computer “malfunctioned,” and they’ll get nothing and like it.

Although I cannot speak to some of the recent monstrosities towering over the 2023 skyline, I can report this: The newest resort is the Fontainebleau, and will open its doors soon … $3.7 billion in arrears. Do the math: They ain’t paying the interest on that note by you and me winning.

Lest you’ve never been to Vegas and are unaware of their genius at separating you from your money, I offer a couple facts: First, the carpet on the floor of a casino is designed to be a bit disorienting and uncomfortable to look at … ergo you look up, and maintain your view of all the action going on around you. In addition, gamblers at the $25 and up tables are given … unlimited free drinks. Because nothing sharpens your feelings of logic and caution like a dozen scotch and sodas.

Although he never built anything in Vegas, James Bond has served as the Patron Saint of Roth IRA draining since Goldfinger. Who doesn’t want to be as cool as Bond, wearing a tuxedo and playing baccarat for $25,000 a hand? Of course, you’ll be playing $25 blackjack sitting next to a 400-lb dude wearing a muscle shirt, shorts and flip-flops… but there’s just something about it — gives you the feeling that you’ve got a 0013 license to lose.

And lose you will.

Sure you might at some point be “up,” or maybe leave Vegas with more money you set aside for gambling than what you arrived with … and that joy will ensure the memories of $27 quesadillas and $12 bottles of water faded into the past. Oh, and the $300 in ones you used to tip every employee who smiled at you. And the $575 tariff you paid per night to stay in a nice hotel. And the $50 t-shirts you bought for the kids before you stuffed their school lunch money into a slot machine.  

As everyone knows, all odds are in favor of the house… thus their only their goal is simply “to keep you at the table.” Tired from schlepping around the cavernous casino? Sorry—no benches inside the luxury hotels; keep moving Mr. Big. No rest for the weary. You will be walking past our shops, restaurants, and ads for shows, until we funnel you right back into that magical place with the ringing bells, cheering craps tables, and free drinks… delivered very, very slowly for us broke types, and very, very quickly for the high-rollers.

Lest you think I’m writing this to encourage you to stay away from Vegas, I assuredly am not.

(Click to view)

The Sphere in Paradise, Nevada. (Sphere Facebook)

Why? My wife, brother, sister-in-law, a couple other friends, and I just got back, and all the monetary brutality was worth it, as we went to see U2 play in “The Sphere.” The Sphere is a $2.3 billion entertainment venue recently completed in downtown Vegas. Shaped like, well, a sphere, the technology and graphics it displays while the band plays simply must be seen to be believed.

To a mere mortal, the experience feels more miraculous than the international space station, the internet or smart phones.  Perhaps a novelist on par with Pat Conroy could explain it, but my words fail me. The only analogy I can offer is when the African gladiator in the movie ‘Gladiator’ saw the magnificence of the coliseum, and said simply, “How can men build such things?”

How “worth the money” is it? I am 100 percent confident we will return to see it again. The next time, however, we will be staying at the Dew Drop Inn, and getting the hell out of town the next morning — before those pesky capitalist convince me to sneak out, hock my wife’s jewelry, and let it all ride on a single hand of Texas Hold ‘Em.

But, then again, she’ll be happy when it hits, right? Get her jewelry out of hock, and spring for a quesadilla and a bottled water? Maybe a couple of those frozen booze drinks a Wet Willie’s? A U2 t-shirt? Okay, then. Just one hand.

What could it hurt? And I gotta keep the bride happy, right?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Prioleau Alexander is a freelance writer, focusing mostly on politics and non-fiction humor. He is the author of four books: ‘You Want Fries With That?,’ ‘Dispatches Along the Way,’ ‘Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?‘ and ‘They Don’t Call It The Submission Process For Nothing.’ Oh, and if you want to see his preferred bio pic? Click here …

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7 comments

What? November 4, 2023 at 1:43 pm

Why does this guy think that his own dumbassed behavior is the same as “America’s”?

None of the simple generalizations this blog post makes apply to anyone but the blogger.

Reply
Generational Losers November 4, 2023 at 7:20 pm

He’s completely self absorbed like any other Fox News-addled Boomer.

Reply
Nanker Phelge November 4, 2023 at 3:26 pm

“my words fail me”

I’ve never agreed with EPA more…his words do fail him.

Reply
Quarantine Zone November 4, 2023 at 7:15 pm

I wish Drunkle would stay in Vegas.

Reply
Frank November 6, 2023 at 1:40 pm

I am glad to see you have abandoned the I am a Christian shtick. And given your new revelation, doesn’t it amaze you that the best businessman in the world ran a Casino into bankruptcy?

Reply
Maia Ingle Top fan November 7, 2023 at 9:02 am

We went to Vegas over Labor Day wknd for a friend’s 60th party he hosted (and paid for). We hadn’t been since the late 80’s. Wow – what an eye opening experience. You are spot on with the prices. It’s absurd. It was HOT. As in the hinges of Hell. It was a mass of humanity – not in the best way. But — we loved every minute of it. We did not do one single thing “expected” to do. Not one show, not one hand of cards or tap on a slot machine. So the house did not “win” in that sense. The taxes, taxis, ubers and food certainly did! We will be back….

Reply
Anonymous November 29, 2023 at 2:53 pm

That was my picture inside the Sphere – thanks for the picture credit. – James Dugas

Reply

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