Loving or leaving Las Vegas

Ah, Las Vegas, where even the excess is excessively excessive. Sound redundant and overblown? Welcome to Sin City, baby.

I spent last week in the overheated climes of Southern Nevada for the annual American Theatre Critics Association conference. We saw 10 shows in five days, walked through every towering casino/resort/mall complex, and, while strolling the jammed sidewalks along Las Vegas Boulevard, saw the dancing fountains, watched the volcano spew and tried to ignore the rock ‘n’ roll pirates.

I have come to one conclusion: Las Vegas is a great place…to leave.

That movie Leaving Las Vegas got it exactly right.

It’s a fascinating place, and I enjoyed seeing what it has to offer, but I’m done — at least until the next mega-show opens at the next mega-casino, and I just can’t resist the siren’s blaring song to rejoin the Vegas throngs (and boy, do I mean throngs).

Here’s me overall impression of Las Vegas: bellies. I have never seen so many big bellies in my life. Not even at a theme park. Also, I have never seen so many packs of dudes — you know, guys who look like they need to get back to the frat house before something really bad happens (that movie Very Bad Things also seems to have gotten it right).

Las Vegas, in case you hadn’t heard, has changed. This is no longer the desert oasis envisioned by gangster Bugsy Siegel when he opened the Flamingo in the mid-1940s.
When, in 1989, Steve Wynn opened the Mirage — a much more sophisticated casino resort than Tacky Town was used to — Vegas entered a new era.

Part of that era, it turns out, is entertainment well beyond the level of showroom staples (sorry, Wayne Newton, Tom Jones and Englebert).

With the Mirage came magicians (and hairdos) Siegfried and Roy along with their cast of singers/dancers and white tigers.

Then came Cirque du Soleil.

Next post: All the Cirque do Soleil you can eat.

One thought on “Loving or leaving Las Vegas

  1. Guy Peellaert, a Belgian painter-collagist whose fervid imagination produced surreal album covers for John Lennon, David Bowie and Mick Jagger, as well as images for a seminal book about rock mythology,

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