1 — Big Spenders of the World . . .
Last week I almost expired. From the heat, from the heat. One hundred degrees Fahrenheit, which is, in Canadian terms, 38 degrees Celsius.
One hundred degrees in the shade. On The Strip in Las Vegas, you get relief from the sun only if you duck into a casino, or a shop, or a restaurant. You could retire to your room, but, as one emcee advised the audience, of which I was a member, the entire culture of Vegas is designed to extract money from you. So, like every other tourist in Vegas, I gambled, I shopped, and I dined out, and I shelled out for shows.
I took in no tours this trip. I could’ve sky-walked over the Grand Canyon, or zip-lined from one casino roof to another, or ridden in an open-topped bus in the one-hundred-degree heat to see what other places I was missing. Or I could have retired to my air-conditioned room.
Only two things to do in one’s room. Sleep, or watch TV. Okay, some sleep is necessary. But you can’t eat there, or drink there, for there is no fridge, no microwave, not even a coffee-maker. There might be 87 channels on TV, but only half of them actually have pictures. Our room in Planet Hollywood had no TV guide — no channel with a catalogue of programs now airing, or about to air. If you wanted to watch anything, you surfed all 43 and a half channels, over and over again, for most times you hit a commercial and had no idea of the program being aired, and other times you hit channels that were less interesting than the commercials, or you hit news channels.
There are three types of news channels on Planet Hollywood TV. Closed loops about shows in Planet Hollywood – what’s playing or who’s playing or what or who will soon be playing. Two, what’s happening or what has just happened in the other Vegas, the city beyond The Strip. It seems that crime and misery are still big business. And there was a never-ending story about the F Street Wall.
The third category of news channel, of which there was only one, brought news of the world beyond Vegas. But there was only one news story, which unfolded day after day after day after day. It was that crazy’s attack on the Washington Navy Yard. That’s CNN for you. When it finds a big story, it doesn’t let go till the story lies in shreds on the news desks in pools of coagulating blood, and the agony and grief of the victims have been painstakingly dissected.
So, unless I was prepared to gamble and to shop and to gorge myself on succulent dishes or to drink myself silly – and I don’t need alcohol to do that – and work myself swiftly through our children’s inheritance, there was only one thing else I could do.
I could read.