Media people

Vegas through a Brit's eyes

Chris Ayres, Los Angeles correspondent for the Times of London, returned from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and wrote a piece harshing on the fake image and the reality of the place.

You can probably tell from my pungent breath, the red welts on my eyeballs and the lightness of my wallet that I have just returned from a few days in the Nevada desert.

AyresAs usual, the trip was for business (I was reporting on the 2006 Consumer Electronics Show), not pleasure. And, as usual, I hated almost every second of it. Perhaps it was the two-hour queue at the airport for a taxi; the 30-minute queue at the hotel for check-in; the ten-minute queue for the lift to my room on the billionth floor; or the $450 (£254) charge for a one-night stay in a concrete bunker with cardboard bed sheets.

Or maybe it was just being being trapped in an overlit conference facility with 130,000 sweating gadgetheads.

I realise this is not a popular opinion ó and will not win me many friends at the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, which is largely responsible for Sin Cityís thoroughly misleading image.


In reality, there is nothing remotely edgy about Las Vegas. The place is one giant leisure/retail megaplex, populated by has-been celebrities, owned by a handful of entertainment conglomerates, and patronised by men in corporate-sponsored polo shirts who feel more interesting when surrounded by waitresses in bunny suits....Yet Las Vegas is like Voltaireís God: if it didnít exist, it would be necessary to invent it. In our non-smoking, decaffeinated, low-fat society, we need to believe there is a place where you can load up a Cadillac with booze, guns and drugs, and entertain yourself with impunity.

For a couple of alternative views, here's blogger Tiffany Stone enjoying Vegas with her new fiance and the latest from the L.A. Times' Vegas blog, The Movable Buffet (the latest being a rare casino armed robbery and a ban on topless bars giving kickbacks to taxicabs.)

Add Vegas: Drex Heikes, the former editor of the Los Angeles Times Magazine, is leaving L.A. for a top editing slot at the Las Vegas Sun.

More Ayres: In a recent column he also proclaimed his loyalty to the burritos at Chipotle and predicted the impending death of the hamburger as an American fast-food mainstay. Then he checked the calorie count of his favorite burrito: 1,827 bad boys.

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