THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
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So much freedom lost...

Truth and illusion in Vegas

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I don't know why, but the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas makes me sad. It's a tribute, in its way, to the most beautiful city in the world but something about it is troubling. Imagine the chutzpah of building a "Grand Canal" on the first floor. Very Vegas. It would have been way too easy to build it on the ground, right?

They came close to pulling off something truly magnificent here. I don't "get" gambling, but I can accept the slot machines in all the lobbies. Bugsy Seigel's ghost would haunt the owner otherwise (if he doesn't already). The Venetian is after all built on the site of the Sands, where Frank and the Rat Pack played. Did they really need a "food court" in their "Grand Canal Shoppes" (sic) though? It makes their Venice" reek not of - well, Venice - but of congealed fat.

Dscn0688Even in the "fine dining" establishment overlooking the canal, classic Italian food is spoiled by extra fat. it's hard to enjoy the food while watching obese people go by who need motorised wheelchairs to get to their next burger. They look like Jabba the Hut on a skateboard.

I don't golf, gamble or frequent night clubs. So, I can only think of two reasons I would ever want to live in Las Vegas. Firstly, although I am built on a fairly lavish scale, I would never feel fat again. Secondly, I would never be tempted to be unfaithful to my wife. I don't understand why the famously powerful cosmetic effects of wealth don't work in the flyover states of the USA.

As a real estate guy born and bred, I admire Steve Wynn immensely. This isn't his hotel, but he is Bugsy Siegel's successor as the genus loci of Las Vegas. He is the business genius who, with his Mirage and Bellagio hotels, single-handedly saved a seedy mob gaming town from decline. He invented the "destination hotel," a concept which has since been adapted to make culture, art and history-free Dubai another unlikely tourist destination. The Arabs do it with more style though.

I am glad to have seen Mr Wynn's town, but I don't think I will be back. I am looking forward to returning on Sunday night to the dirt and reality of Moscow.

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