Thursday 12 January 2012

Learning from Las Vegas, Parts 5 and 6

In our final entry on Las Vegas (and learning from it) we decided to go back to where it all began - Fremont st.  In now what appears visually as an in town /out of town shopping area reminiscent, albeit vaguely of a northern city shopping centre back in the UK or a Russian shopping mall, only with better weather and more lights. This area has a huge worn-out-curly-edged-dog-eared-tinge of faded glory about it, although it appears that someone somewhere has attempted to regenerate it with the addition of an enormous 'light-show' canopy over the main drag.  This is what Vegas always appeared to be from the outside looking in and from every kind of media we've ever seen, and we are fascinated to be part of  it.  Now sadly,  here, the vagrants hassle tourists for money by attempting to strike up a conversation at the loudest level possible.  We impolitely ignore them as our British accents appears to give them more opportunity to converse and they move on to the next passing flaneurs.  The proudly and literally named 'heart attack grill' delivers steaks the size of a cow (complete with parked ambulance and waitresses dressed as nurses) and deep fried Oreo's are on the surrounding menu's - nice.  This area seems to be a populated Farmagusta of the West, or an homage to the way things were only with a lot more lights attached. The flashing signs at the toe curling Glitter Gulch Gentleman's club, 4 Queens (with missing or broken lights) and the Golden Nugget beckoned us in - we easily manage to resist.  Our eyes smart at the strap line of Oscar's casino which announces that it has 'beef, booze and broads' (interesting how cultural dynamics change but some places are to vacuous to keep up) and the ill-fitting ruched lurid Pink and Green outfits of the 'door-whores' at Mermaids drive the final nail in the visual coffin and so its time to move on.
In Part 6, our final entry and further along the road less travelled we ventured into the surrounding streets in an attempt to scratch a little deeper into the skin of this place.  We found a lot of interesting graffiti which communicate political frustrations as well as the humour of the local population.  Some of the signs and signifier's beyond the sanitised resorts really are quite telling of how the main drag is perceived and how life really is beyond the gloss and glamour.  We have only touched on the fringes of this incredible place, and only been able to show you a tiny snapshot of what we are looking at and our emotional response to it.  These things of course are best experienced, but hopefully the small slides that we have given you at least offer a kind of 'Google Earth' view of Las Vegas. We would recommend that you visit here yourself and experience all it has to offer.  The pendulum between perceived ecstasy and sadness, despair and hopelessness seems to swing quite far out here but then it was always going to be in the Casino's favour, wasn't it?  In the meantime, we're London bound. 
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