Saturday, March 6, 2010
Did you know Las Vegas actually beat out Detroit as most abandoned city?
1. Las Vegas.
It makes sense. The car industry took a nosedive which hurt a pocket of workers in one major city, but all the Americans are retreating from gambling their money away and the excesses associated with what I considered to be the single nastiest town in the country. I can say this because I’ve been there several times and each time I was more and more disgusted. The design of the city is basically on the main strip which one cannot travel by car—it’s a parking lot. The side streets are even shadier than the main strip and the sidewalks are crowded and smell of stale beer and urine. The air is completely brown and gritty to breathe. You just feel sick the entire time you’re there. The casinos are in dark scary cave-like rooms. Yeah, I love the dark, but the lack of knowing what time of day it is might work to the casino’s advantage (you often seen people on their 12th beer at 8 am at the slot machines, not knowing it’s morning yet). The vice is palpable everywhere in the city and you literally cannot ever get away from the sweating drunken crowds and bright lights (oh, my eyes ache thinking about the nonstop assault on the senses).
So, now that you know how I feel about Vegas, let’s check out why it’s been abandoned (other than people sobered up and realized what a shithole it is). It’s a chain reaction, really. Places like the Boardwalk in NJ could handle the recession much better if you think of it logistically. Las Vegas is smack dab in the middle of nowhere USA (hell, it’s an hour and a half drive to the nearest neighbor, the remote Area 51). You have to book a flight and a lot of other expenses incurred to stay there including the shows which are astronomical to attend. NJ has it easier, everyone has a one to two-hour drive and they’re there. With the huge real estate boom there, lots of mortgages fell through. People couldn’t afford the town any longer and many were losing jobs due to less tourism. It all snowballed until the town was emptying out faster than a kegger party when the beer ran out.
In fact, things are so bad there, many have taken to living in the flood control tunnels that run for 200-plus miles! With an El Nino season like we’re having, that’s pretty horrifying. There are easily hundreds of people pocketed in little parts of the tunnels where they’ve squirreled away furnishings and all sorts of decorations to make a home. Living in the desert, I honestly would rather bury my house underground. I’m thinking temperatures are probably pretty moderate, but cleanliness and rain flooding—big issues. They’re on their own down there with their own cobbled weapons. The cops won’t come unless they’re called, so there’s no patrolling. Many of the occupants have chronic issues with substance abuse and mental illness which can make it even harder for families forced to live there and a lot of families have had to seek shelter there when losing homes. Imagine sleeping in your car when it’s 110 outside?
In nasty dirty world of Vegas, those folks used to the caverns of casinos must find the underworld in the storm drains to be a close second. Some day, it will be amazing to tell the next generation about how times were so bad people lived underground in one of the most profitable cities in the country. Apparently, that cash doesn’t trickle down to the storm drains.
at 7:16 PM