Rickey has returned from the glorious state of Nevada and isn’t nearly as penniless as he’d feared he would be. Huzzah. Make no mistake, Las Vegas is a “city” (we use the term loosely, because in reality, it’s more of an uneasy alliance of brazen profiteers and unscrupulous landowners) that is designed to seriously punish your wallet. If you thought Disney Land and its ilk were bad, you haven’t seen a damn thing until you’ve plunked down an obscene amount of money on a foul tasting rum runner (Ms. Henderson prefers drinks of the tropical variety). Want free booze? Well sure, casinos are happy to supply it as long as you’re flushing your money away in the process. Otherwise, you’re kind of shit out of luck. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your perspective) taxes on bottles of alcohol are very low in Vegas, so Rickey was able to make the best of the situation and drink to his heart’s content.
Now that we’ve gotten the inevitable bitching about the prices out of the way, Rickey would like to take a moment to salute the football man-god that is Tom Brady. For it is that magnificent bastard who earned Rickey his winnings last Sunday, trouncing Dallas 48-27, covering the spread, and thereby making Rickey a very happy first time sports gambler. Just remember this moment when Rickey turns into a degenerate gambler and finds himself banned from the local OTB for public indecency. We’d devote an entire column to raving about Tom Brady’s performance and taut buns of steel, but really, Boston sports fans have things going far too well for them as it is, and Rickey is secretly hoping for them to be taken down a peg or two. The important thing is that the Pats whomped on the Cowboys and the ego of that insufferable prick, Jerry Jones (the latest supporting witness in Rickey’s “Nothing Good Happens in Texas” argument) and that Rickey won lots of money as a result.
Las Vegas itself is a sight to see if you haven’t done so already, mostly for the bragging rights. Others have written on the topic much more extensively than Rickey intends to, but we’ll chime in briefly to say: do yourself a favor and don’t go sober. Seriously, don’t. Watching Roy from Idaho marvel at the Vegas casino recreations of the Eiffel Tower, the Roman Coliseum, or the Venetian Canals is too much for a sober mind to endure. It stings the soul. And we won’t even discuss the misbegotten madmen who thought it would be cute to design a New York City themed casino with a rollercoaster flying in between the buildings. Seriously, what the fuck?
If he had to pick, Rickey’s favorite casino would have to be The Wynn, primarily because when it comes to creating the ultimate gambling den, Steve Wynn absolutely does not fuck around, nor does he dabble in any of the theme nonsense that other casinos do. On the outside it’s a tasteful & unassuming black building with the word "Wynn” on the outside. Inside lies the most extreme opulence you’ve ever seen in your life. We’re talking pounds of rare flowers suspended motionlessly in huge vases of water, chandeliers that would make Louis XIV blush, draperies the likes of which no man has laid eyes upon, and a pool that would’ve cured FDR's polio had he vacationed at The Wynn instead of Warm Springs. If labor laws weren’t so strict, The Wynn would probably require that its blackjack dealers be dipped in gold. We have to give props to Steve Wynn for tossing aside current Disneyfication trend that is sweeping Las Vegas and building a casino that's actually a casino. And jesus-tapdancing-christ, what a casino it is. If Wynn didn't bathe daily in Commanche and Mojave blood, he might actually be kind of a decent guy.
Only in Las Vegas would such insane excess be tolerated, a land where the freedom to indulge yourself abounds. In other words, short of killing someone, you can do whatever you damn well please. Sadly, few people in Vegas seem to actually do cut loose, and most folks seem perfectly comfortable opting towards the more mundane. Hey, want to slowly drain your bank account at a slot machine? Vegas can take care of that. Want to ditch your friend and hit the strip dressed up like an overweight promiscuous zebra? Vegas has you covered. Want to pay 99 cents for a margarita that makes you cough up blood the following day? Vegas can hook you up. Want to pile a buffet plate high with crawfish and other seafood of highly suspect origin? Vegas is there for you. And yes, what happens in Vegas does indeed stay in Vegas, but sadly, it’s never anything truly wild or rowdy, just a magnification of the rampant gluttony and cynical capitalism you’d find anywhere else in the good old U.S. of A.
*For the record however, In-N-Out Burger does make a damn fine milkshake. Sorry, we had to drop the grouchy cultural commentary for a moment to give credit where it’s due.
Escaping Las Vegas is a relatively easy affair. First, fill up your rental car’s gas tank with petroleum distillate and re-vulcanize its tires. Then, you merely hop on a highway and drive either North or South until your mouth no longer tastes like an ashtray and the ringing of slot machines has ceased reverberating in your ears. For Rickey, this meant driving and hour or so up rte 15 to The Valley of Fire. Rickey welcomed the trip because he’s kind of the outdoorsy type, and Ms. Henderson tagged along because she thought dragons lived there. Having never seen the Southwest, Rickey was pretty blown away. There was no wind, and no sound whatsoever. Just a perfect stillness. And the landscapes are astounding. Imagine walking around the surface of Mars and you’ve got a good idea of what we’re talking about. Better yet, take a gander at the pictures below. These might take 30 minutes to load and crash your web browser. Fair warning.
This is the sonuvabitch that Rickey damn near hit. Still no word from Rickey's auto insurance company whether or not he's covered for "ram collisions in the desert."
Just another skinny white guy on vacation. If we were to think of a caption for this picture, it would most likely be "harumph."
And the rest of the photos below are in glorious widescreen, which is Rickey's aspect ratio of choice. As a rule of thumb, anything looks good in 16x9, even photos of one's genitals.
The flight back to JFK was relatively uneventful. Rickey has now made a habit of wearing his Pan Am t-shirt while flying, a decision that is guaranteed to earn him nods or smiles of approval from the entire flight staff. Trust us, a little levity from the airplane attendants at 40,000 feet while traveling 530 miles per hour goes a long way. Flying over the Grand Canyon at sunset was pretty breathtaking (and a hell of a lot safer than those helicopter tours). And the intense lightning storm (complete with turbulence!) over Chicago was also a character building affair. Upon disembarking in Queens, Rickey had the distinct pleasure of trying to piece together all the news he missed while on vacation. So let’s recap. Senator Craig continues to fight the good fight, the state of Georgia has 80 days of potable water left, The Don Mattingly era for the Yankees is approaching, Ellen Degeneres beats dogs, and the entire Middle East is currently on fire. Did we miss anything? No? Good.