Saturday, December 04, 2010

Hyperreality Writ Large

I first encountered hyperreality 5 years ago, as described here. If you ever doubt the validity of the concept, go to Las Vegas -- hyperreality writ large. More real than real.

I hadn't been to Vegas since maybe 1994. Even back then, it was, who can be more gaudy and garish. The sky's the limit -- cancel that, there is no limit.

This time, I stayed at the Luxor. So, I'm inside a pyramid, on the 22nd floor. You look down, there is a Mayan pyramid, and then a bunch of Italianate buildings, with a 1/4 scale Chrysler building just behind. Beneath, of course, a 100 x 40 ft American flag.

But I look out my window, and there, behind the castle (Excalibur), next to the 1/2 scale Empire State Building, is a 1/2 scale Chrysler Building. So which Chrysler Building is the real one?

Oh wait -- neither. "I don't need to go to Paris to see the Eiffel Tower, I saw it already in Vegas."

So the 1st night there, we eat at the House of Blues in the Mandalay Bay casino. The band (drums, bass, strat, and harp) plays as their first song "Dock of the Bay" as a shuffle -- not a blues song. Followed by "Little Red Rooster" as a straight 12 bar blues, rather than going to the 4 at the start of the verse. And the last song they played, as we were leaving, was "Here We Go Round In Circles", a good song, but also not blues.

They had on the menu as an appetizer "Gator Pizza". Great, I love gator. But the waitress seemed astonished that I expected the Gator Pizza to have gator meat -- where the fuck was I from that I actually expected that a Gator Pizza might have gator meat on it? It had andouille sausage and jalapenos and lots of cheese and was very good. But, still, no gator. When you're more real than real, I guess you just get to make it up as you go along.

"A shrine to all the worst of American consumerism" my friend Ron characterized it as. "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas". Seriously, what kind of slogan is that? You are going to do stuff there so bad that you don't want anyone in your normal life to know about it???

When I used to go to Vegas, it always felt like another planet. More real than real == unreal, completely. We've all seen "The Godfather", we all know where this came from. Family friendly or not, Las Vegas totally gives me the creeps.