Vegas went well.
When McLuhan writes that humans use technology to create the environment, that electrical technology in particular provides a medium whose content is a previous medium, and that the medium is itself the message, you’d think he grew up in Vegas instead of Western Canada.
Vegas exists because of technology, mostly electric light and air conditioning. As a city it contains multiple duplicates of other cities (some fictional): New York, Venice, Paris, Cairo, Rome, Camelot. It celebrates spectacle, is itself a spectacle, and there is only one message: money.
Vegas is so hyperreal and other-worldly that not only is technology environment, environment becomes technology: they pump oxygen into the gambling area to keep everyone happy, awake, and satiated (though it seems the oxygen bar fad has now passed). You don’t get tired or hungry in Vegas, not without outsized effort.
My occasional forays into the ultra-capitalist environment almost always end up philosophical. Last time a buddy and I walked down The Strip waving off the ubiquitous offers of “LIVE GIRLS DIRECT TO YOUR ROOM” and discussed L’Étranger and the relative benefits of a flight to Las Vegas versus a pair of skinny jeans (a purely academic point in my case).
This time another friend and I wondered at the sameness of utilitarian capitalism and Canada’s workaday socialism. Whereas socialists like public transportation so people can get to places where they’re economically useful, cheaply; the ultra-capitalist casinos offer complimentary transportation to get people to places where they’re more economically useful, cheaply. Indoctrination runs deep on both sides: no judgements.
I learned some new facets of my game of choice: table selection really IS that important, worth approx. 500x the big blind over a session, or about $100/hr in real terms; my comfortable game requires the maximum buy-in; and sometimes people give off weak tells when they miss the board and decide to hang on — bullying them based on their stink of fear, alone, isn’t enough (sometimes the big dog actually has to kill).
One thing Vegas should do, really my only critique, is legalize drugs. I’m too terrified of the prison-industrial complex to actually break the law down there, but I always find myself wanting something more than caffeine, cigars, and alcohol. I’m sure I could find it, but I’d rather not have to.