Ugly Beauty: Las Vegas Is Its Church

Las Vegas exemplifies the current mindset in the USA and that of its acolytes world wide.  It seems cliché to use the words greed and corporate capitalism, but regrettably I must – there are no substitute words. 

This is a city founded by gangsters , but not just Bugsy Siegel.  After the original settlers came, the Paiute Indians were run off, and the conquistadores ran off, the 1st “organized group of men” and their rigidly structured  and devout followers decided to settle here; their fort still stands.  This group’s name, like the Mob (another “organized group of men”) starts with an “M”- the Mormons.   However Joseph Smith recalled the Mormons and brought them to Utah, when the Mob recalls you, you usually get shot in the eye! 

Las Vegas is a constant reminder that the commonwealth has surrendered to unfettered greed while the illusion is that they do not. When things weren’t so sophisticated: when only the “mob” could do what corporations do now, when crime was “against the law” and not built into the law, the citizen’s surrender was not as obvious, not as complete, not as cruel. You poured out your hard earned money here not just in pursuit of a dream, but to be entertained and live a lifestyle that would truly “stay in Vegas” when you left.  Now, aside from the dream gone wonky, people are here to be the show, not entertained by it. 

Heavily tattooed, garishly outfitted young people are the rule here and it’s a circus parade.  Crass replaced class. The old Las Vegas is gone, unrecognizable. The first wave of theme hotels, so tacky originally (I mean, the Luxor Hotel is designed after a TOMB!) now look great compared to the twenty-five story modern buildings that look like financial district buildings designed by Dali! The Aria? The Cosmopolitan?  And across the street, an old tacky one-story shop selling “5 t-shirts for $12”.   It’s a country gone schizo and Las Vegas is its church.