It’s easy to overlook them. The Skinner-box button-pushers, watching the wheels roll and roll. Surrounded by a ‘paradise’ that still leaves them wanting — and thinking they’ll find it like this.
Vegas was a mixed bag. I guess I’d always seen so many glamorous photos and film shots, even the ones that tried to be ‘gritty’ still managed to put a sort of mythic gleam over everything.
But it’s not mythic. It’s plastic. It’s the progeny of a one-night stand between the Magic Kingdom and TGI Friday’s. Inescapable throngs of flip-flopped, booze-soaked denizens, eyes bugged wide by the promise of … what? I’m not even sure. Entertainment, certainly, but another flavor invades the way saccharine crowds and leaves a film over any other flavor. Luxury, perhaps. Richness of the kind that first comes to mind when someone says “rich”: Trumpism mixed with Hollywood ersatz.
I don’t mean to be so down on it. Really. I’m a big fan of decadent, crazy, outrageous kitsch. But this somehow was so overwhelming, it wasn’t even kitsch. (Definitely not camp.) Now I understand why U2 filmed the video for “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” here so many years ago — and that was before it was injected with virtual-reality steroids.
The conference was terrific (except for having trouble escaping the waves of noise and humanity to have a decent conversation). I’m amazed the team made it come together as well as they did given the circumstances.
Fortunately, most of the time was much happier than I’m letting on here. Check out my iasummit2007 Flickr stream.
For the record: I know plenty of people enjoy Vegas a great deal, and they have fun gambling and seeing shows and everything, and I think that’s actually really great. Some of my family enjoy doing it from time to time, and they seem to always come back smiling. I think it just hit me in a strange way on this trip — but I’m always like that; if there’s a silver lining I’ll find a cloud. I just can’t help noticing the souls that seem to be a little lost, a little vacant behind the marquee-reflecting eyes. But hey, that’s just me.