My new life, so far...

23 Jan 2011

Updated October 25, 2006

Las Vegas: City of Illusions

Sin City, City of Lights, The Mirage, City of Illusions...

FROM LAS VEGAS, NEVADA

Las Vegas: City of Illusions

LAS VEGAS, Oct 25, 2006 - I know... you must think I am crazy.  Just barely home from China, in time to unpack and change clothes, and off to another business conference, though this time closer by, in Las Vegas.  Believe me, it was not what I would have done if I had a choice.  Alas, this conference has been on my calendar for months.  So duty calls...

Las Vegas has never been a place I cared for too much.  I've only been here about four times in my entire life, each time because I had to.  Alternatively dubbed Sin City, City of Lights, The Mirage, or just the Strip (Tease, too), Las Vegas is the place where 38 million visitors drop billions of dollars place each year, hoping that "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas."  It doesn't.  As one computer expert told the conference I am attending here, "what happens in Vegas stays on (security) cameras."  :-)

Attesting as to the power and prevalence of sin in this country, this is also the fastest growing city in all of the U.S.  The decaying Roman Empire was once sustained on "panem et circenses" (bread and games).  I could not help but discern a parallel...

Las Vegas is also home to 18 of the world's largest hotels.  My conference is taking place in one of them - the 4,000-room Venetian.  The above photo shows it by night...

...as does this one, which also includes the Casino Royale and a McDonald's.

...and this is what it looks like by day.  Like most of Las Vegas, The Venetian is an illusion, a fake Venice, city of canals.  But at times it is an extremely good fake...

Take a look at the above shot of "San Marco Square"...

...and its other half, too. It took me a while to realize that even the sky in the above pictures is fake.  When I walked into the hotel, it was a cloudy afternoon.  Yet here we have pretty blue sky with white puffy clouds.

So think of Las Vegas also as a City of Illusions, or City of Dreams.  Or City of Lost Dreams.  Making dreams come true is quite rare around here and always very expensive.

Even the interior of The Venetian reeks of practically limitless expense (see above entrance hallway).  The new City Casino that is being built as we speak, due to open in 2009, is an $8 billion construction project.  It is believed to be the world's largest construction contract.  The casinos and resorts already in operation, are also behemoths by most hotels' standards. Take a look...

The Caesars Palace (above), one of the oldest on the Strip, is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.  The place where Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack delighted crowds is now being entertained by Celine Dion.  Seeing the throngs of people coming in and out of Ceasars Palace, I could not help but wonder by how many times it has paid for itself during the last four decades.

Harrah's, which now also owns the Caesars Palace, is reportedly the world's biggest gaming company.  Its Casino Royale (above) is a relatively modest place by Las Vegas standards.

And here's the same Harrah's place at night.

And here are some glitzy shops at the Forum, also a fake version of the original Roman structure.  Inside this Forum, are stores, like Gucci, Gap, and a myriad of others like them that one can find in fashionable American malls.  Take a look...

This is, for example, the FAO Schwartz, kids' toy store.  Why they chose to "decorate" it with this enormous wooden Trojan Horse is beyond my comprehension, anyway.

There is also a life size fake version of Rome's Treviso Fountain, as well as some other fake "Michelangelo" statues and other antique reproductions.

And there is also a fake Eiffel Tower, not far from a Las Vegas original, The Flamingo (in the forefront).

Back at The Venetian, one can even find fake gondolas and canals...

... as well as fake church tower.  The name of the hotel in the background, The Mirage, seems ever so appropriate.  Luckily, I head home tomorrow back into the real world...

And that's all before "leaving Las Vegas"...

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