Most agree that there’s nowhere else on earth like Las Vegas (by which I mean The Strip, and not those glitzless parts of town in which ordinary people live), and thank God for that. There’s more vulgarity per square foot there than anywhere else in the solar system, and small armies of the ghastliest possible Americans, Americans who haven’t glimpsed their own toes without bending ‘way over in decades, waddlers, watchers of junk television, avid consumers of junk food, laughers at the films of Adam Sandler, voters for Republicans who laugh disdainfully at their eager stupidity and gullibility. And those waddling up and down The Strip (but mostly either up or down, as one doesn’t want to exert himself). And the waddlers aren’t even the most appalling people there! The most appalling people there are the ones chainsmoking behind the slot machines.
We stayed, because we had a Groupon, at the Hard Rock Hotel, in which one can get tattooed (rock and roll, dude!) pretty much around the clock, and in which the most obnoxious form of rock — that in which the guitars are always very distorted and the singer always sounds very, very anguished — blares day and night. There’s lots of excellent memorabilia on display — my own favorite was the stand on which the young James Brown’s shoeshine clients used to plop their fat white asses — and a lot of stuff formerly owned by acts of which you’ve never heard. Call me old-fashioned, but I am not interested in T-shirts once owned by Puddle of Mudd.
I ventured down one afternoon to the Beach Life swimming pool, and found it infested with young men all over whom someone had scribbled and drawn pictures, and young women with breasts they’d had surgically enlarged to increase their appeal to such young men. A meeting of the Tats 'n' Fake Tits club! A DJ was playing unspeakable hip hop music at an oppressive volume, and I hightailed it pronto back to our gigantic room, in which I’d been delighted to discover a large framed photograph of the lead singer of Kaiser Chiefs, the best UK band of this century. It served to divert my attention from the one of Korn, with its ultra-anguished lead singer.
Not all the, uh, action is on The Strip, of course. One evening we ventured up to Downtown Las Vegas, whose Fremont Street is roughly comparable to San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf, though rather less wholesome. A swarthy young man in too much male cologne virtually tackled the missus, and began dabbing goop under her pretty green eyes, claiming it would make her look 15 years younger. It was fairly impressive, and jaw-droppingly expensive. I wondered if it were re-packaged hemorrhoid ointment. A Strats-'n'-hats group called The Voodoo Cowboys, featuring a Stetsonned singer with one of those tobacco-chawin’ voices you hear so much of on the country stations, asked the crowd between songs if it liked Walmart. The crowd eagerly roared its assent. Las Vegas!
We could afford to, uh, take in only one show — Donny & Marie at the Flamingo, I think it was. I am delighted to report that, even after having produced 239 beautiful Mormon children between them, they’re as adorable and ingratiating as in the late 1970s. Some of their patter, in which Marie, in the castrating bitch role earlier played on a competing network by Cher, makes her big brother out to be a woeful knucklehead, had me in absolute stitches! And what a finale! When they brought not only the rest of the Osmond Brothers and their families out on stage, but also Gov. Mitt Romney and his five indistinguishable sons, I worried for a moment that the stage might collapse under their combined weight.