This week, Kyle and I visited Las Vegas to see our friend Libby Winters who presently stars in the Mandalay Bay production of Mama Mia. Libby was awesome. It was her first role in a major production, and she was an absolute starlet – charming, engaging, and stunning (and she sings beautifully!) – in the 1800-seat house. Libby took us to the club at the top of The Hotel, where we had an amazing view of the strip.
Visually, Vegas was like a candy store for a kid like me. I spent a whole day walking around with the camera – there were just so many things to see! It was almost overwhelming to ponder the amount of production and money invested to create this completely fabricated environment where so many people flock for entertainment.
A taxi driver there told us that he was always amazed at how quickly things get built and torn down. We saw the brand-new Wynn, the construction site of the City Center (which will apparently be sold as resident condos right on the strip), and the sign for the old Frontier which has just been torn down – all within one city block.
There were immaculate indoor gardens, beautiful swimming pools, and gigantic bars, restaurants, and ballrooms. It was absolutely amazing how dense and large the city is, and how glaring its intention to create desire for things. Everything was designed to seem large and expensive – to create a sense of what one could acquire should they come into the funds. What better way to entice the dream of winning big?
It makes a lot of sense, yet there was such a falseness to everything, that I wound up feeling a disconnect from the humanness of the sense of desire – it was too heady to feel tangible.
Things are amazing insofar as they make you appreciate your life and feel amazing. But there is little achieved in heartless accumulation of things, and things not infused with love have accumulated en mass to create this giant disposable mecca of emptiness in the middle of the desert. The true value of this place, then, can perhaps be found in the critique of its absolute remove from a real human desire; it absolutely ignores the pursuit of the dream. Through pondering this absence, one is charged with the conviction to make their personal dream larger than what a fabricated environment has made possible. If the entire strip could be concocted with minimal heart and soul, imagine what our dreams could do if imbued with the same drive and funds. I left Vegas understanding more clearly the feeling of real richness that I get from so many wonderful experiences in my daily life, and that the attainment of wealth is to serve a greater good and to make the most of oneself, not for the falsification of one’s existence through material obsession.
Still, it was fun for me to play with all the visuals there. In addition to the shots of Kyle, Libby, and the strip shown here, I have posted a series to my flickr site (click to view).