Since my recent conversion to Las Veganism a couple of folks have sent me Malcolm Gladwell's disparaging comments about Sin City.
Seeing as how my next trip is with my college debate posse, I felt I should offer the following rebuttal:
- "You can't get a cab." I've never been more impressed with a cab system than at McCarran Int'l Airport. The system is efficient, fair and the cab drivers know the destinations by name. All destinations on the Strip are within 10 minutes with the cost being around $10. Apparently, Mr. Gladwell has never tried to take a cab to San Francisco from SFO or to Manhattan from JFK. Both are signficantly worse experiences and more than 4x as pricey.
- "It's 120 degrees outside." I must confess that I've never been to Vegas in the summer (I understand it's in the desert) and I'm no fan of the heat. But inside is the optimal temperature for humans, as far as I'm concerned. Plus it's scented with sandalwood.
- "The food is terrible." The food is awesome. I had the best breakfast of my life in Vegas the last time I was there. And, the service is incredible. If you eat at the $5 buffet, you're gonna get what you paid for but there is many a fine meal to be had in Las Vegas.
- "Everyone loses money." Everyone does lose money. It's a statistical certainty. Pure mathematics is what keeps the casinos in business afterall. But the fact that people lose money by gambling is only a negative if, for some reason, you've convinced yourself that blackjack is a good way to increase your riches. Otherwise, it's just the price of entertainment.
Plus, and also, not everyone loses money.
- "Large packs of enormous, glassy-eyed people in stretch pants." The important thing to understand is that Vegas is America at its most pure and unpretentious. It is a Red State destination without any question. But it's a culture of inclusion, not division. Everyone - even the morbidly overweight or comically unhip - are welcomed to its sandy shores. The real Statue of Liberty should be moved to Vegas for this reason.
- "Why would I want to see Celine Dion?" No one should see Celine Dion. In fact, I feel that she should be forced to perform 6 shows a day - once every 4 hours - and that she should be permanently attached to the stage via an artificial feeding and circulatory system so that she becomes the world's most overpaid Showbiz Pizza cyborg.
But there are many other fine options. Lane and Sutter really dug Zumanity. And Avenue Q had me singing showtunes for a solid month. Saying there are no good shows in Vegas because Celine Dion plays Caesar's Palace is like refusing to see a game at Yankee Stadium because the Moonies once had a mass wedding there.
- "I have more fun walking to the laundromat." Actually, I don't have any problem with this argument. Some of best hours of my life have been spent in the living rooms of my closest friends doing what could only charitably be described as nothing.
Liking Las Vegas doesn't mean you must turn a jaundiced eye to the other pleasures of your life. But to reject it outright is like condemning Halloween as a pointless delusion. Of course it's a pointless delusion! That's the point. To not be able to surrender yourself to that - even a little - is to be the poop of the party.