It’s Back. A flood of flashing lights and fast cars, lights brighter that the sun. A cast of thousands, the flashy dressed high rollers, laughing at the amount they are pissing away. Tourists, dressed for the heat, ready to walk everywhere, every sight enthralling, yet, the soul is melting in this desert hallucination.
And everyone is wasted. Stumbling around, laughing, doing what they can to miss the homeless lining the skyways, the sidewalks, hiding in plain sight.
The homeless here are a special bunch, they are not run of the mill. Not down and out. These are a group of fighters. They are not a bunch of bums stuck here cause they lost everything at some blackjack table. They came here for a special fight for their own survival. They seem to not want to live any other way. So much money to be had in this town, everyone is sure to get a share. Seems they do get a large enough share.
Mickey and Minnie are here, albiet somewhat dirty, hiding the truth in a somewhat outlandish head. The truth of the dirty Disney idols on Fremont, is the wrinkled lines, the sun torn leathery skin, graying hair and lost eyes. They live here on this monstrosity of the cesspool, taking pictures for tips, each flashbulb taking part of the characters soul, in trade for a buck or two. They are among the cast of thousands, chasing something in this town, along with Sonic The Hedgehog, a ventriloquist, looking after themselves, looking after each other.
All of Vegas is not a sham, or a shame. There is a unity here. There is a spirit.
But alas this Strip. Miles of hotels casinos dreams and nightmares. Slot Machines and Blackjack tables full of empty souls looking for that jackpot, that hot streak, or hitting 13 they placed the last $5 in chips. This is an adult wonderland. An over twenty one playground. DO NOT BRING YOUR FUCKING KIDS HERE! No child needs to see mom and dad lose the college fund because they know this time they will hit black, a dozen golden Elvises, fire breathing midgets, let alone grandpa drunkenly crawling up the stairs after getting kicked out of the strip club. Take the kids to Disneyland, leave them at home, probably not with that old perv grandpa, just for fuck’s sake, don’t bring them here. This is a sanctuary for the party people.
Drinks are free, drugs are cheap and plentiful and the hookers and fetish artists are on every corner. There is a place for everyone, a price for everyone, and everything is for sale.
For some of us that place is the street, and those streets belong to us. For months, I had inhabited those streets in this nations capitol. The activists streets. A so called mild winter, on the east coast. Perfect weather for protesting the wrongs of a government that knows no rights. Kerosene and propane heaters going full force to keep us warm, and the full force of the United States Park Police to keep us uncomfortable, awake, uneasy. A movement of love, peace and equality, forced to live awake, on the streets, treated worse than the homeless, worse than the rats. Cat and mouse games get old, as do power struggles between activists. The mice never have the guns, and the mice don’t believe in them.
It was a daily struggle. Not just against the police forces. More factions against us than I could count. Including our own bodies. A constant struggle for a meal, a drink of water, heat, a place out of the wind.
But here is a paintbrush, a sheet, another fucking slogan, another fucking march. Even our powerful friends, have become our foes.
But not this monstrosity in the Nevada Desert. Billions of gallons of water and beer a day. Tons of food prepared in any way, anywhere, you want. And yes, you can eat the sushi off of her belly should you so choose. Just pay up.
Vegas is a destination, not a home. Those that do stick it out and live here, the locals have seen it all. Seen. Too. Much. Nothing here phases a local.
Just another day. No matter what the seen is, a tourist puking out the excesses, fire farting ponds, drug deals gone wrong, the roommate going out to prostitute for the rent the coke dealer, the food bill.
The wrinkles of the working class, the 4am humorless bartender, is a way of fighting the tears. Fighting the desolation of a town built to have temporary acquaintances constantly out on the next flight, bus, the next ride they can hitch. Between the insult to the planet for this obscene gesture to our Mother Earth, to the psychic cost extracted from the visitor, a toll by all those involved must be paid.