Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Viva Las Vegas?

Today, I walked down the Strip in Las Vegas, a huge area with all of the main tourist traps concentrated, along with gems such as Excalibur, MGM, GameWorks, etc. My family took an after-dinner excursion to M&M World, a tradition for us, and left with out bright yellow bags full of chocolate. My parents wanted to go see the new City Center, and I agreed out of curiosity. It was, to put it bluntly, the most marvelous monstrosity I've ever seen. It was like a small city, with multiple skyscraper-esque buildings towering 50 floors in the air, with glimmering glass and shiny metal. A sleek tram zoomed by on an elevated rail, and a gigantic waterfall cascaded down an outside wall. The inside was beautiful, an architect's fantasy: untainted mosaic tile floors and simple, classy carpeting, antiquated slot machines, arches and treehouse-plant sculptures dotted throughout, high-end stores littered amongst five-star restaurants, and a faint, sweet perfume smell wafting throughout.

Yet all I could think of was, "And there are children in Africa starving, and budget cuts back home for my education, and hell, there's plenty of homeless people just outside the parkway." Impressed as I was by the sheer beauty of it, I couldn't help but be disgusted at the billions of dollars laid to waste so the people with money to burn have yet another place to immolate.

And that's when I realized: I'm tired of Vegas. Viva Las Vegas! to me is just another cliched, ignorant phrase used by those who haven't seen it as well as I have. Maybe I can rediscover it when I'm 21, when there'll be gambling and strippers and alcohol and going to see shows, but right now, I'm 14 and tired. Maybe I'm tired of life, as the saying goes; maybe I'm just hormonal. As someone who lives so close to Vegas, with the opportunity to visit at a moment's notice, I'm no longer entranced by the glittering lights of Sin City. I walk around with a dry throat from inhaling all of the cigarette smoke; I involuntarily shift behind my dad when we pass the pimps and their clients; I look past the sharply dressed men and gorgeous women to their tired faces, hidden behind a facade of foolhardiness; I see the pictures of topless women scatter on the ground (which, I admit, my observing did not help my parents' opinion that I am a lesbian), and all I can think is that I want to go home and lie down and drown my sorrows in Glee.

Maybe this makes me a depressing person, stealing the poetry out of something beautiful because it has a scum-studded underbelly which most others choose to ignore. Maybe I should ignore the sirens, and the flashing-lights police cars I see every day. Maybe I should ignore the homeless men begging for change while scantily-clad women beckon to earn their keep. Or maybe I need to go back down to the pool, put in my iPod headphones, and tan while all hell breaks loose. It's called Sin City for a reason. It's not because you have the opportunity to go out and be sinful; it's because sin throws itself at you and shoves itself down your throat, leaving you wondering where the lost naivete went.

So you know what? Forget Las Vegas. Viva Los Angeles! Viva New York! Viva San Francisco and Memphis and Seattle! Viva la Vida! Anything but another day of watching humanity's inevitable descent in a nutshell, please.

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