It’s Official: Las Vegas Is Really Freakin’ Weird

This past weekend I took a break from the hustle and bustle of New York City to work on achieving one of those fantastic feats I’ve been aiming for my whole life: that’s right, I visited my 47th state out of 50, the lovely state of Nevada. And not only did I visit just any ol’ place in Nevada, I went the entire crapshoot route and touched down in Las Vegas for a weekend of debauchery, buffets and, uh, Jimmy Buffett (that’s right, the Margaritaville franchise store is still in full effect on the Strip).

First impressions always help us new arrivals, and Vegas says, “What better way to impress than with slot machines right out the gates?” Resisting the temptation to play my odds (as I’d just ridden JetBlue, I figured I’d already taken enough risks for the day), I went on to my hotel of choice, The Venetian. And really, while in an artificial town in the middle of the Great American Desert, why not stay at a recreation of Italy’s famous city that’s crumbling into the sea? Makes sense, right? Can’t recommend this hotel enough, especially the plush bathrobes (available for you to take home for only a $85 charge).

So many great things happened this past weekend, it’s hard to keep track of ’em all. Highlights would have to include the visibly methed-out homeless population, the incredibly bad tattoos I saw on tourists of all ages while walking down the Strip, and the fact that if you don’t own a car, you’re not going anywhere. Another Vegas highlight has to be the ridiculous 9/11 tribute fountain at the foot of the fake Statue of Liberty in front of New York, New York that combines quotes from Nelson Mandela, Eleanor Roosevelt and George W. Bush:

New York, New York, old palm trees

Seriously, though, the Pinball Hall of Fame was awesome – after many games of Paperboy, Simpsons Pinball Party and many others, I was ready to take on PUNK! – unfortunately, it wasn’t that impressive:

Punk! the pinball game

Figuring that something more “high stakes” than pinball was necessary to try, I later hit the blackjack tables ($5 minimum, that’s how we roll) at the dingy Las Vegas Club. Finding myself playing at a table with a guy from Albuquerque with a gigantic bandage on his arm, and two guys from Texas (one drinking a mudslide out of a plastic football) has to be one of the highlights of my life. No, really, it was fun, I broke even and had many free drinks courtesy of one of the most haggard-looking waitresses I’ve ever seen (but she was really nice! honest!). I really recommend checking out some of the downtown (and downtrodden) Vegas casinos – they have their own particular charm, apart from the smell of desperation and crushed cigarettes.

And for those of you reading this who happen to live in Vegas (if you made it this far through my observations on your charming city), don’t forget that Pretty Girls Make Graves play there November 25th with She Wants Revenge.