It’s something you have to remember, then remind yourself: Vegas is not Vegas. And this not really in any highfalutin sort of way, either: the Last Vegas Strip isn’t *in* Las Vegas, and it never has been. What it is in isn’t even a city, it’s in an unincorporated community – well, three, actually, (only one of which is Paradise). I’ve said this before, which is also the point. And there is no pure Las Vegas, on or off the strip: looking at Las Vegas is like watching an animated gif of its own history in time lapse, looped: everything grows and burns and grows and burns and grows and burns (controlled burns), reinventing itself as something new and something of the same. But this growth is up, then down, never out. It might be now, in its current moment, with its behemoths clenched up around the boulevard like a sphincter, that things might finally be seen to harden, and Vegas might actually change itself into staying the same (and then it will be able to die?). Maybe that’s what is significant about the seeming de-emphasis on gambling, and the growth of high-end consumer capitalism. But I don’t know: I don’t imagine the two can’t co-exist.
Downtown Vegas (which is actually *in* Vegas) is itself a kitsch re-representation of what it used to be (what it has always only or ever used to be), which might’ve already been that, but that today isn’t sure if it knows it or not. It flickers because it’s an ironic city, maybe even the ironic city- but it’s real. The forces that make Vegas Vegas are material: they have to do with tax bases and legality and policy and wealth: what kind of place is more profitable (what are the profitable possibilities for this kind of place), what is able to be done here as opposed to there, what is able to be said about what is expected to happen once you’ve either agreed to or have already performed the necessary transaction, what must necessarily remain unsaid.
It’s out of this morass that the compulsion to go, to look, to touch and taste and participate- to write- springs. Like a vacuum or a call to worship or a, you know, temptation. Not to make sense or elucidate, but to partake of, up to and against the what-happens-stays injunction: to disclose, to reveal, to undress.