The popcorn-eating obese carp at Lake Mead. We once saw a man tempting the fish to the surface with handfuls of popcorn, then whacking them with an aluminum baseball bat. It didn't seem to bother the carp much.
Indoor skydiving! Okay, you can love that about Las Vegas anytime, but whatever.
Sin City: more churches per capita than any other greater metro area, according to lore. And lore is really all that matters. That's another reason to love absurd Vegas: Lore matters here—pretty much defines the city. But back to the pious: The Guardian Angel Catholic Cathedral on the Strip accepts, we've heard time and time again, casino chips as tithing. Additionally, At least one casino employs a full-time pastor, and at least one local pastor holds prayer meetings in the back rooms of casinos on the Strip. Las Vegas: the Holy Land.
Because we maintain the euphemisms religiously: escort, masseuse, entertainer, exotic dancer. One hundred twenty-five Yellow Pages of entertainers—"Farmer's Daughter Sally 19, Adults Only, Direct to you FREE, not an agency."
Founded by Mormons; funded by Mormons—but mobsters get all the credit!
We are, in this cracker-dry desert that requires the county to produce an anti-driving-on-loose-dirt media campaign featuring Dusty the Dusthole, living in neighborhoods called Green Valley and The Lakes.
Next to the will-it-ever-be-imploded supercastle, there's a building here that looks like an Egyptian pyramid with horrid black glass windows, and it has this super duper light shooting out the top that is, according to lore, one of two man-made structures visible from outer space. The other is the Great Wall of China. The third, as yet to be spotted by moonwalkers, is a brand-spankin' new sports arena where Vegas has it's own NFL and NBA teams.
Can you name another city with more gainfully employed Star Trek characters (in the Hilton)?
People come here from all over the world to pay $500 for a bottle of vodka. Or is it $600? Maybe that's next week. No, let's say it's this week: It's more fun to tell that little tidbit to out-of-towners the higher price you make the bottle. People pay $2 billion dollars—in crisp million dollar bills—for bottle service!
Oscar Goodman: the embodiment of absurd. A walking, talking absurdism who has, whether you like him or not, led the city in a phenomenal period of growth. So inured to his absurdity are we that we don't blink when he takes showgirls on trips to other cities to pump this or that; we've long gotten over his obsession with gin; we're not interested in his former representation of mob figures; we don't much care, the way the nation does, when he gives a citizen the boot from a council meeting for saying offensive things. It's Oscar. The exclamation point of absurdity in Vegas.
Oscar Goodman's River. With poetry.
When someone refers to the Red Rooster you're not immediately sure if they're referring to the antique mall or the swingers club
There's a Jim Rogers for every mood: from terse petulence ("I quit") to truculent reconsideration ("I hereby withdraw my resignation") to damn-the-headlines candor (casting doubts on Jim Gibbons' intelligence), the chancellor gives us a little something for every occasion.
Free nuclear Test Site tours and purchasable genocidal kitsch: Fat Man and Little Boy earrings! That's today's absurdity; not nearly as absurd as yesterday's, when Las Vegans sat on top of buildings and drank cocktails to watch nuclear bomb test explosions.
A dollar for every foot-long strawberry-margarita toting woman in a wedding dress, and we'd all be able to pay our property taxes.
Whack-a-Pol: There's never a day when you can't find a local politician to pop, just for fun. To wit, the disclaimer on pundit Jon Ralston's January 23 news flash: "The following is not a parody. It is a news release sent out by the office of the governor just moments ago," preceding the announcement that the first lady will be wearing Armani at the inaugural balls.
Cosmeceuticals. The word alone makes any credible list of the absurd. And we know it's not specific to Vegas, but it leads us into the super pharma-beautiful world of plastic surgery and tatooed eyeliner. Here, of course, is where we mention the famously fabulously favorite absurd reason to love Vegas, come one come all, it's our most obvious absurd asset: Fake boobs.
A rollercoaster on the street! Toby Keith's I Love This Bar and Grill! Bikini Bull Riding at the Frontier!
Billboards-o-rama: LEDs advertising the joys of shooting a machine gun; Alan Thicke urging us to visit Tahiti Resorts; giant crawling half-nekkid women crawling out of the frame or all over one another. And! Better! A whole coalition of concerned parents who disapprove of the sex-pot billboards, because that's what will corrupt them. Billboards.
Tucson, Arizona, got snow last week—inch and a half—and closed their schools for the day. How is this an absurdity to love about Vegas? Obviously: Because Vegas got snow, too. But we didn't let our kids out of school. Because we care about education.
We have streets and schools named after politicians who are still in office—and who, therefore, in this town, are liable to end up on the front page of the newspaper on any given day for their part in a widespread scandal involving strip clubs.
Ten thousand Paris Hiltons.
The homeless are keeping our daily newspapers in circulation. Find us a day that the homeless haven't made the news: We're the meanest city to homeless by national rank; we outlawed feeding the homeless; homeless are killing homeless in the park; homeless are saving people and turning up heros; neighbors are protesting homeless in their parks; advocates are being arrested for helping the homeless ... it's a conspiracy theory waiting to hatch: Vegas politicians love this issue, as it distracts the media from looking into campaign finance files or sweetheart land swaps.
Robin Leach. Still! From Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous to unavoidable at Vegas parties. Got a shindig at a club somewhere? He's there. Most recently, schlepping the likes of Brigitte Nielsen, Chyna Doll, Vanilla Ice, Pepa, Emmanuel Lewis, C.C. DeVille, Ron Jeremy, Jordan Knight and Traci Bingham around town on VH1's The Surreal Life: Fame Games. Surreal is the word. Or world.
David Hasselhoff. The Producers. Shaved legs.
Our city eats up regrettable dalliances. Case study: Oh, the cheering when new Governor Jim Gibbons, before getting on with the staid State of the State address, thanked his loyal wife, Dawn, who sat blushing and happy in the Assembly chambers. Where was Chrissy Mazzeo as the governor thereby stealthily reminded the state that his hand-on-the-cocktail-waitress dalliance in a Vegas restaurant was over, a chapter forgotten and marked only by the archived Las Vegas Sun's satellite map of the parking garage and grassy knoll where the soon-to-be governor, tipsy on wine, allegedly sexually assaulted her. "I would like to thank my wife, " he said. And it is gone.
Because this happened to the other day (and will happen again), and Julie Seabaugh was there:
The directions were simple: stand alone at the corner of ____ and Las Vegas Boulevard; await the approach of an unmarked white van. The front passenger would utter the password "Your mother was a hamster." Respond with "And your father smelled of ____," and promptly tie the provided blindfold firmly about the eyes ... aw, not really. The real directions were much easier. South on I-15, then the Beltway to Windmill. A couple lefts and park in the circle drive. Talking was not only allowed, but encouraged. Any and all identifying characteristics, however, were to remain strictly off the record.
Began last September 11, Conspiracy-Movie Night convenes every Saturday evening at the home of "Marvin," a professional ____ and "Gertrude," much-loved teacher and daughter of the legendary ____ ____. Ghosts, UFOs and bigfeet have had their respective turns on the wide-screen projector pull-down, after which lively and often ____ discussion follow. Both alcohol and paranoia flow freely throughout.
"Tonight's selection features Al Bore ... er, Gore ... talking about how effed we all are," the double-earringed Marvin announces to the five gathered couples, assorted children, two dogs and tank of fish as he cues up the 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth. "How many think the Earth is experiencing global warming?" he continues. Hands raise. "How many think humans are causing it?" Fewer hands. From the back of the room an alternate theory is offered: "It's because the Sasquatch population is burrowing deeper into the Earth's core..."
"If the world is warming, why is my pool frozen?" Marvin grumbles, making his back past the oversize beanbag, stone fireplace and Conspiracy Magazine-littered coffee table to his seat in the dark.
Svelte blond bartender "Hulga," celebrating her ____ birthday, whipped up several strawberry-basil martinis in the kitchen (specifically, near an oddly glowing giant orange crystal). As viewers down her concoctions like SUVs guzzling oil, Gore's somber "Within the decade there will be no more snows of Kilimanjaro" preachifying is rendered tolerable. The illustrative "Ozone Layer" cartoon courtesy of The Simpsons' Matt Groening, meanwhile, becomes downright hysterical. Soon the peanut gallery shouts out quips worthy of Mystery Science Theater 3000: "There better be a global-warming point to this!" during a voting-recount montage; when a swimming polar bear cannot locate stable ice on which to rest its CGI form, the bespectacled, skull-capped "Xavier" sensibly suggests, "He needs a Coke!"
Feature presentation completed, the company discusses the science Gore employed to back his claims—mainly, would a frog sitting in gradually heated water really not leap out, ultimately allowing itself to become frog soup? Would the animated frog in question have been more convincing in CGI form? And how could anyone in their right mind argue that South Park isn't the funniest animated series ever, dude?
Talk eventually turns to George W. Bush's role in 9/11, the improbability of the moon landing, Michael Jackson jokes, the Illuminati, collective unconscious in monkey populations and what a lot of ____ it is that we have to pay taxes. Seriously addressed, however, are the effects of Question 5. Seems everyone knows a chef or waiter already out of a job due to certain bars' discontinuation of food service. And everyone's heard how the casinos are quickly capitalizing by opening their own "taverns." Joking about black helicopters is one thing, but at Conspiracy-Movie Night, even ____ empty strawberry-basil martini glasses can't soften the ominous implications of stone-cold reality.