I swear to God, I think the 70 yr. old Jewish comedian wearing a tourist sombrero and telling fart jokes in a lounge of the Riviera was the same guy I saw there 25 years ago...and he looked 70 then. That's the beauty (a relative) term) of Las Vegas. Though the Strip's gone through cosmetic changes, at heart it's the same as it always was, a place of utter venality and gaucherie. A guy with owlish eyebrows and a gut sits at the corner of a blackjack table without moving for so long you suspect he's stuffed. Two old ladies with rust-colored hair and styrofoam cups filled with silver dollars feeding the slots. You know they've been here forever, their future ghosts haunting the desert before the first casino went up. So were the Vegas cowboys, leathery men wearing hats with rolled brims and thin gold lame belts and tooled boots, peering in the doorways of topless joints, eating waffles at the all-night diners, packs of filterless Camels in the pockets of their western-style shirts. The hookers, the cheap hustlers on the downlow, the Their consistency is comforting in an apocalyptic way.
I'm here covering the Chuck Liddell-Vanderleigh Silva fight at the Mandaly Bay Events Center, along with a crowd of thousands that promises to be as electric as a rock concert. I'm in a bar with my laptop, typing away, a couple of cocktails past sober. In a minute I'll wander over to the Mandalay and take in the blood and the silicon and all the glorious evil excess of a big night in Vegas. But right now I'm experiencing a weird form of nostalgia. I'm wishing I was in one of those movies like the Stand or the last Resident Evil or Six String Samurai or Damnation Alley, movies in which the desert has reclaimed the Strip and a few stragglers remain. I'd like to run a makeshift bar that serves bootleg liquor to the down-at-heels American actors and busty Italian starlets that pass through, all vying to be the last sinnner in Sin City. The pressure would be off, civilization would be more-or-less over, and folks would be just playing out the string. Me, I'd be a deranged fucker, probably be doing something like this:
Put me in that movie, Jesus! I'm ready for my close-up.