I'm just back from the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. As always, the only reason to go to Las Vegas is to experience the joy of leaving it. The place remains the quintessence of tastelessness and shamelessness. The most striking recent development in Las Vegas itself is the appearance of a huge private golf course in the center of the town. You can see this huge green course from the new, privately funded Las Vegas metro train as it snakes its way through casinoland.
The golf course, an appendage of the high-end Wynn Casino, was eerily empty while Las Vegas itself was spectacularly crowded. There were 130,000 visitors, packed into Las Vegas’ convention centers, the casinos, the taxicabs and the restaurants. And then, in the middle of town, seemingly devoid of people, stood this verdant private golf course. A paean to private property? A green oasis underwritten by the victims of Steve Wynn’s tables? Or the future donut shape of cities – with vacuums hogging their centers?
Speaking of ugly appendages, CES was itself upstaged by the Adult Video News (AVN) pornography show. I had dinner one night at the Venetian Casino and Hotel, next door to where the AVN award presentation took place. The Rialto, with its gondolas and lifelike indoor sky, was thronged with sexmedia workers, men and women in impossibly brief uniforms, displaying their gross, deformed bodies. Watching the onlookers, the normal reaction seemed to peek, snigger and then continue with one’s evening business. Nobody appeared to share my outrage that such shameful examples of the human race should so publicly display themselves. Perhaps we are all now so familiar with pornography as to consider it normal, just another cultural type, a unique form of self-expression.
The Venetian itself is a cultural catastrophe, an insult to timeless beauty in a place that excels in ugliness. So these sexmedia workers appeared perfectly at home here, entirely thoughtless creatures in an environment entirely devoid of thought. One assumes that there is nothing behind those bodies. Like Las Vegas, these sexmedia workers resemble donuts, with a big zero at their center.