Far above the bored, scuffling, T-Shirt
and cellulite wearing masses flown in
from trailer parks across the nation,
ten-story video signs project
images of dancing chorus lines,
rhinestone-studded; of strippers with plain faces,
their makeup having been ladled on
with a bricklayer’s trowel to distract onlookers
from that fact; and of seemingly never
ending traveling shots of cafeteria
cuisine. These electronic billboards, run
by computer servers filling concrete
catacombs beneath the hotel casinos,
also occasionally announce the LIVE!
ON STAGE! appearance of what look like
knuckle-dragging brutes bumbled in from
the Pleistocene via a time warp.
At gutter level, meticulously
unkempt somebodies lumber in and out
of the darkened mouths of caves, which are
the doorways of momentarily trendy
nightclubs. Nearby, an imitation
volcano erupts. Light from the fake lava
plays on tattoos, once popular among
pier corner whores but which now adorn
the delicate ankles of long-limbed women
with million dollar smiles spread across
Level with the gutter runs
an asphalt Boulevard over which rides
the latest in high technology
metallurgical skill and, after market,
pimped-up shrines to the owners’ vanity
and insecurity. A crystal angel
sparkles as it swings from the rear-view
mirror of one modern convertible,
just stopped at a red light. Chrome-framed mud flaps
shine behind the rear wheels of a pickup truck
as it passes, its retreating back window
plastered with the white decal of a Christian
icon surrounded by a delicate
wreath of roses.
Traveling north, the
Boulevard becomes a Main Street as it turns
into yesterday's downtown. More neon
cascades down the sides of dirty walls, red
and yellow light splashing the windows
of the Greyhound bus station across the street.
Turning east, a crumbling side street shortly
passes first a Bronx modern city hall,
smug and prim in its paternalism;
then, the rotting remains of retail ventures;
paint peeled apartment flophouses; and,
finally, a fence festooned with hubcaps.
Farther on, cracker box houses—their windows
and doors wrought iron barred—traipse down a slovenly
slope, the value of the lots on which they slouch
officiously inflated by the local
property appraiser. A fluorescent glow
haunts the sidewalk outside a corner
Laundromat, in whose ghostly glimmer stand
the emaciated and the bovine.
Expensive headers gracing the butt-end
of automotive wrecks shriek by. The street
soon propagates a rat’s maze of walled-up drives,
lanes and circles. Within those cement bulwarks
erected to a fastidious paranoia
and a paucity of police presence,
lie neighborhoods of tract housing: two thousand
square feet of uniform, building-code-commanded,
Spanish-styled homes sitting on two thousand
one hundred square feet of desert dirt,
goose-stepping off into the darkness.
Welcome to fatuous Las Vegas!
Someone called Steven posted this comment (#203) on The Big Picture photo blog, 12 March 2010, in response to aerial photographs of New York City and Las Vegas. I added a few missing hyphens. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.