Monday, December 20, 2010

More eyesores

The Las Vegas metropolitan area is full of them - especially in the aftermath of the commercial and residential building bust of 2008. I visit that city about once a year. One thing that struck me during my first visit was just how much construction was going on just along The Strip during the middle of the last decade. It seemed each year, an old casino had been demolished, and a new one was rising to take its place. A few years ago, I began walking around The Strip with my camera to document some of those changes, as I saw some of that city's history vanishing before my eyes. That project got put on hold a couple years ago - in part due to the economic collapse that hit the city especially hard and in part due to illnesses or injury that severely hampered my ability to get around the last two years. This coming spring I'm hoping to get back to this little project, though I think the focus will now be on the half-complete projects or those that seem to have been abandoned altogether.

A lot has changed during my travels there. On the surface, there is a great deal that seems unchanged. One can still find plenty of people obsessively playing the slots at any of a number of casinos, the big extravaganzas still go on every night (personally I'm partial to Penn & Teller's show, or The Blue Man Group's killer performances), the tram still runs on time and is still one of the few semi-bright ideas I've seen emerge from LV's city planners, and there are still tons of people walking around (oh, and there are still plenty of rubes trying to hand you cards with addresses and phone numbers designed to meet all your porn and prostitution needs). Still, one thing that struck me during my last trip was how there seemed to be fewer lights on at night than in years past. From a green perspective, that's actually a positive. However, it also tells me that even though there is still plenty of hustle and bustle, commercial life has slowed down considerably. I also have this habit of striking up conversations with the local cabbies. Most of them are really cool, and do their best to make us tourists feel welcome. But many of them are noticeably angrier now - not at the tourists, but at the politicians. Too many of them listen to Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck for magic answers to their declining cab fares, and it gets a bit tedious to listen to the usual talking points to and from my destinations. However, these are individuals who are paying attention to what goes on in DC, and they're as understandably frustrated as many of the rest of us. DC politicians will probably continue to fail to listen to the genuine pain these folks experience to all of our detriment.

Life will go on in LV as it shall everywhere else. How much different that life will be in the next few years is hard to gauge, other than to note that the Vegas I still visit a decade hence will in some way barely resemble the one I first encountered during the go-go first years of this sorry century.