Tuesday, February 21, 2012

More Nevada, or, Go On Another Trip Already We're Sick of Hearing About This One

The coolest 'vacation spending' thing we did on our trip to Nevada was rent a car.  I mean, we've rented cars before, but this particular experience was so streamlined it was fun. 

You hit a tram right at the airport that goes through a tunnel and over a freeway at 650mph with little kids and baggage glued to the back wall; you end up at a huge traffic complex filled with taxicabs, shuttles and car-rental buses. All the little kids and baggage fall to the floor and you get out.  You get onto one of the buses that your car rental agency runs.  The bus smells really good, like a delicious tropical fruit drink. The driver puts your bags away and you whip off at 650mph over another freeway to a hugeass complex that kind of looks like that three-dimensional chess game from Star Trek (TOS) only it's not made of Lucite and it's full of cars and rental agencies, and only on the inside because the outside just looks like a big concrete box surrounded by depressed palm trees. You are dropped off at your rental office and a person takes you to your car, you get in and off you go.  It's almost as quick as it takes to describe it.

Of course, once you get in that car, you're on your own.  And finding your way out of Vegas is retardedly difficult.  I more than suspect that's the whole point.

Our car was nice. Tinted windows, air conditioning that would freeze a side of beef in three minutes flat, and faster than almighty shit.  Either I am way older than I thought, or they have made amazing strides back at the Pontiac factory. This thing would crack 100mph without any encouragement whatsoever and the only way you realized it was that the 'Coyote and Roadrunner' landscape loop got kind of blurry as it went past.  This is no exaggeration, it really happened. Usually while I was driving.

It's true that as you get all old and shit you return to the tastes of your childhood. Specifically, those tastes that come loaded down with artificial colorings, guar gum, polysorbate 80 and monosodium glutimate.  It probably has a lot to do with the soft texture and oversalted, fat-laden mouth feel too, but whatever it is, you go back to it in times of uncertainty, like when you're travelling and you don't know where's good to eat. Like we did.

Now to be fair there's nothing whatsoever in the way of decent cuisine going on in Nevada...or if there is it's guarded more closely than the secret of the Wu Tang clan.  No, there isn't, you folks who are saying what about those fancy restaurants in the big name casinos.  It all comes off the same truck.  It's all food service.  It doesn't make that much difference who is back there setting it on fire when what they're starting out with is identically sourced and identically average.

And surprisingly this didn't bother me too much.  We ate a few meals at the buffet in our hotel, and it was pretty bad, but it was bad in a nice, familiar way, which was weird until I figured it out.  It had as much to do with the ambiance as it did with the mooshy textures and neon colors. Aside from a few odd decorating choices and all the morbidly obese old people, it looked, sounded and smelled exactly like a school lunch room.

This held true wherever we went.  Food service in Nevada is aimed at slopping the hogs fast and efficiently, and you cruise right on through no matter where you go, no waiting, no fucking around, pay, get your food, eat it and leave.  Food isn't the main event there.  Gambling is.  Apparently gamblers aren't real concerned with food.  They are concerned with cars and shitty jewellery.

There was an entire neighborhood devoted to luxury car dealerships. Not just one BMW dealership, but competing BMW dealerships, and Cadillac, and Lexus, and Rolls, and Ferrari.  After awhile you simply don't care anymore. Yeah, there's another Lincoln dealership, whatever. But our interest in late-model cars is pretty jaded anyway since we've owned so many vehicles over the years. Once you've owned and driven a vintage luxury barge from the Golden Days of Automotive Excess, a brand-new status car just doesn't have that much appeal.  We're so cool.

There were more jewelry shops than I have ever seen; just an unbelievable freaking heap of jewelery shops everyfucking time you turned around. And it was just awful crap.  If there's a shortage of industrial diamonds, I know why; because I have never seen so many shit-colored diamonds in my life. Actually this was my first time, but still. They sold every kind of jewelery you can possibly imagine, including stuff that had no business being jewelery like engine parts and exercise equipment and giant bugs and dead shit.  Mostly skulls. Not small skulls. Not 'Day of the Dead' stuff. Just regular average skull skulls. They even came in sizes, from infant to 'oh what the fuck.' The things were everywhere, and they were all covered in 'diamonds'.  I had no idea there was such a market for skulls with sparkly shit glued to them. The most popular were:  wolf, human, saber-toothed tiger, dragon, and deer. Some of them were hinged so you could keep your stash in there. Some of them had a loop on top with a chain so you could wear them around your neck.  What shall I wear today?  Full sized deer skull, with antlers. Yeah, going to the supermarket in my life-sized deer skull necklace, with antlers, that's covered in crap-grade diamonds, that's hinged, picking up a gallon of milk, getting tangled up in the grocery cart because my necklace has antlers, yeah I have a coupon for that right here in my deer skull, hang on.

The number one market for all this crap jewelery seemed to be middle-aged women from Luzon.  Every single one  of them were covered head to toe in metric shit tons of cheap sparkly Chinese bling like a protective exoskeleton of awesome sparkly over tight, black, fetishy clothes.  Like the officers' uniform of a disco spy unit, or really short extras from The Road Warrior. I have no idea what this is about, but it was a welcome treat for the eyes.  Other than them, the people watching was kind of dismal, unless you had some kind of weird interest in old white people, which I do not.

We had fun, though, and I'm glad we went. The last time I was in Las Vegas was in 1977, when we saw Kathryn Kuhlman make people fall down, after which we all sat in a dusty baseball field eating Kentucky Fried Chicken out of a box.  Seven hours was not enough time to develop much of a feel for the place.  I still can't say I have a perfect feel for the place, but then again I now know I don't feel a need to anymore, so theres that.  See?  Travel is broadening. Particularly if you eat at the buffets.

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