I love Las Vegas.
Las Vegas is a great place for entertainment. It has some incredible restaurants. It has plenty of glitz and glamour. I like it so much that I will give it a pass for making Carrot Top more famous than he should be.
My wife and I have just returned from a vacation in Vegas, a place we have traveled to many times. We enjoy all that Vegas has to offer for a few days – especially that nice, hot weather – and then come home to recover. That is especially true of me. I am no spring chicken, people.
One of my favorite things to do in Vegas is people watch. It is better than any airport, where there is usually great people-watching opportunities. Vegas is loaded with the flashy, the crazy and the inebriated.
Here are a few observations, not just of the people but also the city itself.
* The demographics are starting to shift younger, which is a good thing. Don't get me wrong, you still see plenty of people over the age of 70 scooting around on a Rascal with a “Make America Great Again” sticker on their oxygen tank. But there are more of the hyper-annoying Bernie Bros staggering around with man buns sporting “Sanders 2016” T-shirts.
* There is less smoking in the casinos. I know, it was shocking to me too. The ventilation systems they use are much better, but there are clearly fewer smokers than there used to be. They still generally don't care about us non-smokers around them and you have to watch out to make sure you don't become their ashtray, but the number of smokers is dwindling.
* Elvis has literally left the building. Las Vegas and Elvis Presley have long been synonymous, with The King not only playing the city often, but also for the Elvis impersonators that played area stages and wandered the Strip. Well, I saw a grand total of one Elvis impersonator on this recent trip, and he was quite pathetic – old dirty jumpsuit, horrible wig, no dance moves to speak of or trademark curl of the lip. Face it: Most younger people don't even know who Elvis was.
* The days of the cheap buffet are over. Las Vegas has become a food Mecca, which is great for the stomach but not so much for the wallet. Sure, you can still find some food bargains, but in general food is much more expensive. Thankfully, you can still get free drinks in casinos when you gamble.
* Vegas continues to grow and change. New casinos are popping up on the strip and even downtown is seeing changes. If you haven't been to Las Vegas in a few years, you will be surprised. The population is also growing. Even on the “slow days” it is pretty packed.
Finally, Las Vegas is still an alternate universe. It is a place where Donnie and Marie are still popular. Where magicians draw crowds, not condemnation from parents who spent good money to send them to college hoping that magic thing was just a phase. It is a place where your taxi driver can point out every prostitute and drug dealer as you ride around town. It is a place you can get rich and poor within minutes.
What a great town.