Las Vegas is a city of a thousand flashing lights racing on and off, bizarre and beautiful, meant to confuse people that there is no time here, no night and day, no past or future. It is just like having arrived at a palace at the end of the world, its oversized antiquitiess, employees wearing costumes, seducing you inside with a game of roulette or craps with the sound of money.
Behind the glitter and neon posts is an incredible array of colorful characters who enhance its mystique larger than life. The tales are taller of their winnings and losses in life as well as on the tables, their extreme experiences, even greater.
The characters both real and imagined, famous and obscure—whether a writer is looking for the classic kitchy Las Vegas of yesteryears, when it was known as the temple of the First American Dream (founded by Bugsy Siegal). There is a hidden world beyond its popular image ranging from the hilarious to the tragic. We are drawn to the city for the inspiration provided by its spirit and character, for what it says about us and our society whether as a cesspool for the crass or a pleasant palace of the ordinary mortal.
Throw in the world’s best and worst gamblers, ladies room attendants, showgirls, conventioneers (doctors are the lowest tippers), to a haven of sin and vice, to its present incarnation as lower rollers gambling playground of today.
You start pondering about that cocktail waitress with the coiffed dyed hair like she was the chorus line beauty, wise cracking with hard, tired eyes and smile that happen on reflex. You know each person has a story.
Even as we talked, I could hear the handle of slot machines. They pulled and pulled and pulled, making you wonder where the money comes from, even imagined the possibility of the machine incubating their own coins and giving birth to the money—money while lights flashed and bells rang!
For some reason though, I knew the money could never be mine or yours, even if we had a truck load of coins to spend and pull the same machines all night long, until kingdom come. It will be devoured again and again, the nickels, and the dimes, and the quarters it provides for the hungry slot machines, rather than extra cash for the moonlighter. It seems to me that in some great sky, someone had chosen the lucky and the unlucky, the winner and loser. Luck wasn’t given because someone needed or deserved it, or I’ll be the luckiest one alive!
Vegas is the temptress that seduced and beguiled leading to wide doors, but these doors weren’t doors, they were great sucking machines of which money fell out of slot machines, into stacks of chips that grew taller or shorter on green felt tables for winners and losers.
In Vegas, you can do anything. Give in to that subsidiary thrill, that almost religious excitement before a game, to flashes of insanity and lunar influence. And even against all odds, you’ll get a great night and the greatest thing about that night is that you’ve done nothing to deserve it.
E-mail Mylah at firstname.lastname@example.org