So my cousin was in town last week. Since she was in town I realized that I would actually have to do want I have been avoiding for months; visit The Strip. See I’ve been in Las Vegas for a few months now and I had never set foot on The Strip.
There are lots of reasons why I’ve never been to The Strip. One is because I rarely do what’s expected of me. I lived in Baltimore for years and never did the â€œD.C. thing.â€ I never visited the Capital or any of the monuments. Whenever I plead ignorance when folks asked me about D.C. they look at me dumbfounded when I replied that I didn’t see what the big deal was.
Another reason is that I hate tourists. I used to have to traverse the Inner Harbor in Baltimore to get to work and I hated the weekends when the Yankees were in town, because that meant the Harbor would be flooded with gawking fools who apparently had never seen really polluted water before. The also seemed enthralled with the Barnes & Noble that was located in the Harbor, and looked to be equally unfamiliar with the Hard Rock CafÃ© located next door. Hell, even when I went to Times Square as a tourist, I was pissed off at all of the tourists who were blocking the foot traffic. The point is I hate people.
If you want another reason for me to avoid the Strip here you go; I’m sort of big on culture. The Strip is very glitzy, bright and extravagant. People go there to be seen and to be noticed. That’s not really my scene. I don’t match or iron. I dress comfortably and conveniently, meaning the first thing that I grab from the closet or the floor.
Having said all that I found The Strip to be like nothing else I had ever experienced. For one thing you could almost taste the desperation. From the women who were desperately trying to catch someone’s eye to the guys desperate to convey how cool they were, from the gamblers desperate to win big to the entertainers desperate to put on a show. The scent of desperation was almost as prevalent as the oxygen pumped into the casinos.
It’s crazy because to me the bright lights and huge casinos appear to be there to distract you from the despair at eyelevel. I did notice that migrant workers out here don’t pick fruit they hand out flyers.
The entertainers in the casinos were very entertaining, although for me it was more in an ironic sense than genuine â€œthis is really goodâ€ sense. I will say that no skit can do justice to the over the top cornballiness of a Vegas entertainer. It truly is a sight to behold.
I guess the best way to explain the Vegas mentality is that everyone who goes out the club is the star of their own reality show. Every move is calculated, every action predetermined. They are conscious that every camera (everyone else in their presence) is on them. I really is something to see, because while you may believe you have seen people who are self absorbed, but I think that this place pales only to La La land in this category.
Anyway across from the Bellagio there were some Christian protestors holding up signs. They were worried about the souls of all the tourists in Sin City who were gambling and drinking. I thought that I was nice that in a city that offers everything, even protestors had their place. I almost imagined that even they must realize the futility of their action. I mean, I doubt that anyone visiting Las Vegas would divert their attention from the glitz to even ponder the afterlife, after all what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas (which is also a line that I use to â€œseal the dealâ€ with attractive female tourists.) I imagined a conversation between a protester and her son.
Mom: C’mon, we’re going down to the Strip to save some souls.
Son: Mom, do we have to?
Mom: Those souls aren’t just going to save themselves.
Son: But momâ€¦The O.C. is on tonight.
Mom: Look mister, we are going out to offer an alternative to the devil and his vices. Now you are going to take this sign that save some souls.
But when I was walking between MGM Grand and New York New York, I caught a glimpse of Merlin over at Excalibur. His arms outstretched, he really captured your attention. Then it hit me. Bam! A Christ themed casino.
Now I’m not usually one to claim divine inspiration, but an idea of this caliber could only be God sent because images flooded into my mind.
I could see it clearly. There would be a large crucified Christ in front of the casino. Blood would be pouring from his hands like waterfalls. It would be an animatronic Jesus. Every 15 minutes he would raise his head, open his eyes and say, â€œI died for yourâ€¦wins!â€
Now inside the casino, which would of course have a floor plan based on the cross, it would have a â€œPassion of Christâ€ theme going on. The chips would be communion wafers; the roulette wheel would be made of thorns. The check in clerks would be portraying Joseph and Mary, because really who knows more about lodging then they do? The dealers would have an apostle theme going on. The cocktail waitresses would be portraying Mary Magdalene. But it wouldn’t go the Mel Gibson route of actually requiring the folks to speak Aramaic.
Of course Jesus would play plenty of roles. How can you not have the guy who turned water into wine behind the bar? And the stage show would be the life story of Jesus, but a truncated version. I mean all the major moments would be touched upon; The Last Supper, the trial, the crucifixion. Then three minutes after his death, Jesus would be resurrected in the way that only Vegas can do it. I’m talking smoke and laser light show.
Of course the profits from the casino would go area churches. And to avoid lawsuits there would be no racial discrimination on who portrayed Jesus.
Now I’m sure you’re thinking, â€œMathan, Jesus is probably spinning in his grave because of your idea.â€ But I really think that this is an idea that those protesters could get behind. I mean, don’t some churches have bingo night or raffles? This is just on a larger scale, which would reap larger benefits. And imagine all the religious conversions that would happen as a result of the casino. Didn’t you hear about those guys who turned themselves in after watching â€œThe Passion of the Christ?â€ Now imagine all the wrong doers turning themselves in nightly after the show in the casino, with additional shows at 9:00 and 11:30.
If we learned anything from the success of â€œThe Passion of the Christâ€ it’s that people are willing to throw money away in the name of religious enlightenment. With my plan everybody wins.
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