“The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom; for we never know what is enough until we know what is more than enough.”William Blake
American society is almost equally divided between two groups of people: those who work too hard, and those who don’t work hard enough. I am firmly entrenched in the second group but I have some respect for those in the first. One of the inevitable consequences of working too hard is the need to release the tension that such a lifestyle builds. It is for that purpose, and for those people, that Las Vegas was created.
For those whose life is brimming with stress, or boiling over with desire for immediate gratification, Las Vegas must feel like Nirvana. For those of us who work too little, it is something else: a destination that defies comprehension. It is delicious food that leaves you hungry and a cocktail that sobers you up. It is a land where sex is inescapable, but love is as elusive as ever.
Sin City was the nickname given to Las Vegas in consideration of the sex workers who rented rooms above the saloons near the depot that was built in 1899 by the Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad. A few years after the railroad came through, the city was founded, and by the end of the 20th Century it had the largest population of any city settled in that century. The nickname changed in the 1950s to Atomic City, due to the fact that the US government conducted atomic tests near enough to the city that residents and tourists gathered to watch the sprouting mushroom clouds in the distance, as unconcerned about the radiation then as they are about global warming today.
Las Vegas means The Meadows, even though it is situated in the Mojave Desert, because the Colorado River meanders through the Spring Mountains that form one of the valley’s walls. The sunlight that filters through the clouds makes mesmerizing patterns on the mountains that are almost enough to distract from the more immediate temptations on The Strip.
The constant bombardment of flashing lights, ringing bells, and pounding beats intends to overwhelm the senses and return you to the state of mind of an overstimulated child. And it works. Eventually, you can only lie back and let Vegas wash over you. That is when the magic starts. What happens when you are stimulated and/or intoxicated past the point of conscious thought is that the subconscious thoughts bubble to the surface. This is the place where inspiration is born. This is the place where love grabs a slippery foothold and hangs on to fight another day. This is where the veil that separates reality from illusion drops so that you can never be sure again, even after you return to your senses, what is real.