Thursday, July 7, 2011

One Night In Vegas

As part of our recent Wood Family visit to Bryce Canyon we scheduled a stopover in Las Vegas. Since I've done some academic writing about this place, I wanted to check out the current state of Sin City's omnitopian phantasmagoria. That meant a pricy but pleasant stay in New York-New York. Talk about a totalizing environment! When we drove into the parking garage, a poster-version of "Vinny" (The NYNY spokes-guido) reminded us to say "Yo" to the guy at the gate. Inside, "Vinny" was constantly offering tips on where to get "unfreakingbelievable" deals in a place that's like New York, but "without the potholes." We wandered around a fake Greenwich Village, we strolled across a miniature Brooklyn Bridge, and, of course, we gazed upon an ersatz Lady Liberty statue holding her own against the nearby Luxor Pyramid and "Paris" Eiffel tower. As always, Vegas entertains exhaustively.

After settling in we tackled a late-afternoon hike along the Strip from our hotel to "Paris" in search of Le Village Buffet. Sure, you'll spot dozens of I-15 billboards touting cheap eats ("Steak and Lobster, $3.95!") but most sure things in Vegas cost a premium. So we aimed relatively high. Foodies will scoff, but we found the Paris buffet to be a pretty decent meal for the price. The buffet is organized around various interpretations of French provinces, so you can try roast beef in "Burgundy," crepes in "Brittany," or pasta in "Provence," and, depending on the crowd, you might even find yourself in a cheery seating area complete with a "fireplace." Jenny was initially wary at the exorbitant cost, but our seats - right next to the dessert station - convinced her that we made the right call.

Returning to our hotel, we found ourselves caught in a surprisingly persistent summer shower. One benefit, at least, was the quick drop in temperature from its earlier shoe-melting 100+ degree high. After the rain cleared Jenny and I headed out once more to jostle our way down the Strip, wading through neon street puddles in search of night photography opportunities.

Ah, the Strip: overdressed kids stumbling on high heels while shrieking "Vegas, Baby!" at random intervals and photographing themselves for posterity, middle-aged aloha-wearing dudes sipping from yard-long booze-tubes hanging from their necks, and scruffy-looking "snappers" hustling to plant "Sexy Girls in Your Hotel Room!" business cards into the sweaty hands of the desperate and the stupid [As you can see from the photo above, Jenny wasn't buying that particular pitch]. The highlight of our walk was a Caesars Palace fireworks show that joined the Bellagio Fountains to produce an Independence Day spectacle. Sure, it wasn't technically the Fourth of July yet. But Vegas doesn't seem too stressed about verisimilitude. Thanks, Vinny. We loved the show.

(Photographs by Andrew Wood)

No comments: