I snapped this photo on my vacation last week in a wonderful, charming fishing village on the southern coast of France.
No, actually, I was in Vegas. I spent two nights there for a work project. This quaint town square is really an exit corridor of a giant mall called Miracle Mile.
Forming the square are an all-you-can-eat sushi bar, a Brazillian meat joint, a seafood restaurant, and Chico’s clothing and accessory store for women.
I guess the shiny floor and other details are kind of a giveaway that it’s not a true French beach town.
But can you blame me for thinking I was in France? The whole complex is right next to the Eiffel Tower. It was a thrill to see it so close up. Like a postcard come to life. Familiar, yet surprising — who knew the Eiffel Tower had a bistro in the bottom?
On the street outside Miracle Mile and Paris, I had to weave my way through clusters of men and women milling around in orange aprons, shoving leaflets in my face that advertised “Girls to your door in 20 minutes! 24 hours a day!”
I practiced my French with them: “Fuck, no. Thank you.”
Of course, if I’d been tempted, I would have said yes. Because it’s Vegas!
Which brings me to a useful marketing truth that Vegas proves about human condition: we’re a bunch of animals.
People are dogs.
One word: Pavlov.
As everyone knows, it’s easier to spend money on vacation. So every detail, aside from the toothless, sunbaked vagrants hanging out on the bridges, is designed to remind you you’re on one. And it works.
“Look! It’s Paris! Oh, and there’s New York City, with its beloved skyscrapers and its famous rollercoaster! Just like the real place. Who wants hookers? On me.”
“Ooh, Venice! After we take a romantic gondola ride, we can buy an Hermes watch and a Swarovski-encrusted tiger for the foyer. We don’t have a foyer, but so what? It’s vacation!”
That lovely, darkening blue sky in the photo above? It’s a painted ceiling. You could probably tell that, but you have to admit, they really captured “dusk.” It’s permanently the perfect time of day for a nice, strong drink. Even when the clock says 11 am, your brain says, “Oh hey, the sun’s just going down. Me want margaritas!” And then your mouth says, “Waiter, a round for me and my friends that I just made at the Naughty Boys Hypnosis Show. A toast, everyone: to vacation! Now let’s hit the craps tables next to Sephora.”
People are pigs.
Duh. Everyone knows that. But if you want proof, check out the lines outside any all-you-can-eat buffet at around 5pm, just before they open.
People are lemmings.
Build a place where it’s cool to be uncool, and they’ll come.
I know Vegas and Sinatra are synonymous, and that brand of hip exists somewhere in some hidden-away lounge. What you see walking around, however, are people with moob-high jeans, Ed Hardy t-shirts, and drinks in ridiculously gigantic, ridiculously shaped vessels.
“Yay, everyone else is dressed like a douche and slurping from a maraca-and-tambourine cup, so we can, too.”
People are pack rats.
Hello. Souvenirs. “Let’s keep our maraca-and-tambourine cups. We can put them next to the Swarovski tiger. Or they can always go in the gift closet.”
People are wild beasts.
They establish themselves by making noise. At the gate, I watched people deplaning. Every fourth person or so has a tourettic need to howl, “Vegas!” or “Vegas, baby!” or just “Whoooooooo!” as soon as they stepped off the ramp.
It’s the animal’s way of signaling that fun has begun. If you don’t join in, they will eat you.
Too shy to yell in public? Then drink till you’re not, dork.
What animal are you?
Go to Vegas and you’ll find out.
Me, I’m part pig, part pack rat, part dog. That fake-beach-town atmosphere in Miracle Mile made me buy a big bag of gummy candy at Sugar Factory, then drop a wad at Ann Taylor Loft (where I never go) on jewelry that won’t fit in my crammed jewelry drawer. The prices were so reasonable. And hey, it’s vacation!