Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Back From the Land of the Dead

Metaphorically speaking, on more than one level...

What can I say? Sometimes you just don't have anything, well, pressing to say. Sometimes you step back for a while. Take a break. Evaluate. Mull. Ponder. Ask yourself  if perhaps it's time to quit one thing and move on to some new thing. Everyone does it, of course. Some come back to the old thing. Some go on to a new thing, leaving the old thing a silent, forgotten ghost town, or a collection of dead links.

I don't know how many blogs I've followed over the years, blogs that are now long gone, their creators - utterly unknown to me save what they've chosen to share - simply disappearing, moving on. Ephemera.

Not quite there yet. Not quite.

I don't know why not, really. Hell, no one blogs any more. Too slow. Too antiquated. Too quaint. Too 2001. Everyone tweets, or YouTubes, or Facebooks, or Instagrams, or Vines, or whatever. I don't do any of those other things, so I guess I'll keep doing this for a while.

Speaking of the land of the dead, unavoidable business took me to Las Vegas last week. The first time I experienced Vegas against my will (and that is how I will always experience Vegas, against my will) I invoked Sartre. Hell is other people, indeed.  That was several years ago.

And now here I am, back again. Every day I walk around in the bowels of a giant building teeming with thousands of other people who - inexplicably to me - have actually chosen to be here, indeed paid good money to be here, all of them rapturously flowing along the aisles like frenzied swarms of krill: We must see STUFF! We must buy STUFF! Look at all this STUFF! Gotta have me some STUFF!

I am not immune from the allure of STUFF! No one is. And if you are, or think you are, the sheer power of all that concentrated STUFF! in one place will hit you over the head, mercilessly pummeling you into submission, until battered, beaten, and broken, you, too, will come to covet STUFF! It is our way. Most of the STUFF! I am forced to covet has keen blades, or gorgeous wood melded into engraved metal. We all have our vices. Mine, thankfully, are mostly unobtainable. Poverty doth have its rewards.   

 At night I take the taxi back to my hotel, that undulating, light-bedazzled, glass-skinned coffin. On the drive I strike up conversations with the cabbies. All are from somewhere else: Armenia. Russia. Nigeria. Texas. Iowa. California. Vegas is a city of people from somewhere else. One cabbie tells me that it's useless trying to get to know your neighbors, because they will all be gone soon, anyway. Next year, he is moving.

I get out of the cab, walk into the hotel and through the casino filled with desperate, haunted souls. I ride the elevator up to my room, fall into a chair in front of the big bay window, crack open a beer, and watch the evening sun slowly fade away on the mountains stretched out beyond this temporary, doomed artifice. I wonder about those mountains and the desert beyond; if they have desert quail, if they have hidden places few people visit or know of, if anyone in this crowded, transient place ever longs to escape there, as I do, or if those mountains and deserts are merely a static backdrop for the overwhelming hustle of this wholly synthetic place. 

Surrounded by two million people and all the glitz and folly a person could want, and I am dreaming of lonely, ruined places. It's just what I do. Because I'm a weirdo and a misanthropic, anti-social bastard. No one's perfect.

I drink a few more beers, watch the epileptic lights of the city for a while, and read a bit. What am I reading? Some of the Dead Are Still Breathing. Apropos. Then I go to bed. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, so we're told. But I don't think anything stays here for long. I know I'm sure as hell not.

When the plane takes off I can see the sprawling fairytale land in all its smog-hazed glory; the verdant green of the golf courses, the resorts, the casinos, the housing developments, the pulsing, arterial roads. A bit beyond that I can see the desert, the bathtub ring around Lake Mead, and impending reality.   
   

  

26 comments:

  1. Im glad you can still find a reason to blog. Keep blogging for the last few hold outs with enough attention span to read more than the majority of a couple sentences. Blog for the other bloggers for surely they blah blah blah something something yackety shmackety (clicks the link).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You too, man. I truly enjoy your blog.

      Delete
  2. I had a similar experience in Vegas last summer. The wife had a conference there, so for the cost of a plane ticket I was able to stay and tour for free. What did I do? Placed a $20 sports bet and then headed out to Red Rock for a run/hike to see how God put the wilderness together. Lizards, birds, wild sheep... infinitely better than the throngs of tourists.

    Keep writing. It is a gift to us when you share your gift.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If I go back next year I'm seriously considering a day trip to somewhere. I think the area's beautiful.

      Delete
  3. But . . . but . . . Media Day! Free ammo! (I assume you there for the SHOT Show.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep, SHOT. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on POV) no media day at the range for me. I endured that silliness only once, which was enough.

      Delete
  4. That desert beyond is beyond beautiful. It is a huge, powerful place, full of all kinds of wonder and amazement, and the real kind... including Gambels quail, mountain quail and chukars in the mountains (and they are, indeed, mountains). Wild donkeys and desert bighorn sheep. Mule deer. Creosote bushes and cactus wrens and sidewinders.

    It truly is amazing. Perhaps Vegas looks, to this place, like a caged animal, an example to the desert inhabitants of H. sapiens domesticus.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nevada is one of those states that warrants further exploration when I get the chance. Everything I've seen of Nevada save Vegas seems beautiful to me.

      Delete
  5. Fear and loathing. And idiots on parade. Glad you survived.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did survive, but only because I sheltered in place with some beer every night. I spent one buck on a slot and that was the extent of my gambling. I mourned the loss of a week of quail season...

      Delete
  6. Welcome back. You're voice has been truly missed. Twittering and tweeting can never replace ranting and raving!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, PF. I'm trying to rant a little less these days, but may have a few more in me.

      Delete
  7. thanks for blogging

    ReplyDelete
  8. Wish I'd known! I was in Vegas and environs last week, mostly environs. I picked up a friend at the airport, spent one night amid the STUFF!, then headed out for five days of splendid isolation in the desert. It's a truly marvelous area once you find some wilderness, a great mix of Colorado Plateau x Great Basin geology, and the only time in five days we saw any other hikers was when we headed to some hot springs for a rinse.

    I continue to love blogs, and have yet to see why other forms of online expression would be preferable.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Peculiar, per Steve's suggestion I've been reading your blog. Love it. If I end up back in Vegas next year...

      Delete
  9. Keep the blog going, Chad. You'd be surprised who reads your STUFF. I for one look forward to your quail hunting and using those 6.5x55's.

    Cheers!!!

    BTW: I prefer fine sipping bourbon to your single malt scotch.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Mark. I do truly love those 6.5s, and to be truthful, I like the bourbon as much as that Scotch stuff, and cheaper, too...

      Delete
  10. I've often thought that if all else fails i shall become an obsequious english butler in vegas.
    "my gawd you've just gotta have butlering by SBW, he's so rude, you're no one until you've been insulted by him" I can see it being a borderline acceptable way to see out my dotage.

    SBW

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What I think you need to do is fly over, rent a car, and take a cross-country road trip and chronicle it on YouTube. It'd be a modern, SBW-infused take on de Tocqueville...

      Delete
    2. Oh yes, that's why I'm still in the day job myself. I can't think of two people we have to visit on our way to a third, a kind of literary pilgrimage. one day chad one day soon TGK will lose patience and fire me sooner or later, then its a date!

      Delete
  11. Glad to have you back. I sometimes feel that way myself.

    I was going to suggest Peculiar's photo and nature blog, Crest, Cliff, and Canyon which celebrates the Nevada that's OUT there-- good corrective for Vegas.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Purty work, Chad.

    As usual.

    I had to bail out of SHOT at the last minute this year, and I had mixed feelings. For some reason, attending SHOT in Vegas just sort of works for me... but then, I like Vegas in small doses. The weirdness of it helps me overcome the idiocy of it. That probably makes no sense.

    Glad to see you back among the living (pixels), at least periodically. As you mentioned, social media is killing blogging, in the same way I think blogging nearly brought down the print industry (although that dragon is not quite dead... and one should never laugh at live dragons). The ever shrinking attention span of the American public...

    I think it's important for a few of us to hold out, just to spite them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This year the show itself wasn't as much of a shock to me, since I sort of knew what I was getting into, but I just can't get used to either the crowds or Vegas.

      I do think the whole social media thing is slowly killing a lot of bloggers, but I just can't tweet or FB, at least as a way of saying something, so blogging it is...

      Delete
  13. I look for your blog updates quite often and it seems these days I'm looking a lot more often than it's updated. Too bad for me, good for you if you've got something more engaging going. There will always be a place for articulate hunting writing. I think we need it more than ever to counter the Bubba-Bang crowd expressing so much pride in their ignorance. Keep it up.

    Kirk

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the comments, Kirk. I'm definitely sporadic in how often I post (and more so recently) and as you can plainly see, pretty awful about responding to comments, too. But eventually I get around to it. I'm trying, however, to be a little more regular now that my schedule has settled down a bit.

      Delete