Now that I'm back from Las Vegas in the safety and comfort of my home (as long as you don't consider the bed bugs...), it's time to pause and reflect.
It is not saying a great deal to note that I dislike Las Vegas. Most people come for a few days, and bad as it is, you can leave reasonably unaffected. But I worked on a movie here once (the original The Hitcher, not the remake) and had to stay for a week. It was so hellish that crew members -- who'd been together in the middle of the desert in tiny town -- started snapping at each other. It's not the glitz, it's just a cold, heartless place where most everything there says, "We don't care about you, we just want your money."
Staying at CES for 4 days is stretching things almost to their limit. In fairness, I don't gamble. In the 15+ years I've been at the show, I've never gambled as much as a nickel. So, I'm sure I'd like that part of the town if I gambled. But the core foundation is still there.
There are some okay things about the the place, I don't want to dismiss all of it. But overall, that's my very general impression. BUT -- there are two things I particularly love about Las Vegas.
One is buffets. I've noted previously my love o' buffets, and it's not exaggeration. Mind you, I don't tend to pig out, though eating more than usual, to some degree, is required. The main thing is that the food at the buffets is -- for a buffet -- pretty good. And at some places, it's very good. I tend not to go to those places though, like the Belaggio, they're very expensive ($35-40). It's not so much the money -- you can pay that for a nice sit-down meal anywhere, or more. But the point of buffets is not quality, but quantity. And I'm fine with good quality for $13 of overeating, rather than $40. After a while, as you stuff yourself, the quality just doesn't come through as much as with the first few bites. But it's more than that, why I avoid the Big Ones. I did go to one big buffet, at the Rio. And it was great. But people stand in line waiting so long that you can go for dinner and sit down for breakfast.
The other thing I love here is free parking at hotels. I'm serious. Most anywhere else in the world, if you go to a nice hotel and park for two minutes to sneeze, you can get charged $20. Stay for hours, and you might have to take a loan out. In Las Vegas, though, hotels want you there. Plead and beg to get you to come. And so, they all have free, self-parking. Just on general principal, it's a joy. And not just on general principle, but it's so exciting to find something in Las Vegas that doesn't involve you giving them money. Mind you, the point is so that you'll be there to give them money, but that's up to you.
One other small thing I like about Las Vegas. They usually do a pretty good job with putting out signs to get you around the place, both outdoors and especially at casinos. The last thing they want are frustrated, lost tourists so annoyed that they leave early and vow never to come back. So, Las Vegas gets a reasonable thumbs-up on that.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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