Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Desert Rat's Lament


My tip to Laughlin is reminiscent of the landscape of an old Western film. As I see the Joshua trees, cactus, mountains and arid terrain, I am reminded of my Pop Pop-my mother’s father-who loved cowboy movies. He watched them religiously because they had a moral, the good guys always won, and there was no nudity or bad language. There is a part of me that half expects Clint Eastwood or John Wayne or Will Rogers to ride into frame after some stagecoach robber, bank robber, horse thief or other bad guy. Just as I am picturing the gun fight in my mind, I hear the director say, “………..And CUT!”
While there is no Clint Eastwood or John Wayne in Laughlin let alone a Will Rogers, the place is trapped in time. It is a miniature version of the Las Vegas Strip, half the size and with the old kitsch parts of old Fremont Street still have. Sure, there is even a chapel if you want to elope, avoid a shot gun wedding, or do a Britney Spears 2005. Here, the clientele is not young and hip, but older. Note, you don’t need to go to a museum to see fossils, you can just go into any of the casinos here. Charley Pride is on a billboard. I don’t know who that is but they apparently do. However, I can do one thing the fossils can’t, Google.
Before I get into Googling Charley Pride I should say I barley avoided an accidental twitter war with Clint Eastwood. It was a retweet gone wrong where Mr. Eastwood tweeted at me and let me tell you Dirty Harry wasn’t happy. When challenged I backed down because you never bring a retweet to a fight with a cowboy, and I replied, “Mr. Eastwood, it is an honor and a privilege to get into a twitter war with you.” Clint Eastwood liked and retweeted. Does this useless story that helps no one get me a bigger billboard than Charley Pride?
The casino goers who aren’t fossils are wearing mullets, proving they are just reading a magazine entitled Rust Belt Hair Styles From The Late 80s, Early 90s. Growing up in the Rust Belt during that time I saw my share of mullets from out and about at the Giant Eagle and Toot ‘n’ Scoot to more formal locations like church and PTA meetings. To match this multi-purpose hairstyle, the mullet wearing casino patrons had the rather predictable American Flag t-shirts, Stars and Bars t-shirts,  Harley Davidson t-shirts, and NRA t-shirts. One mullet wearing gent even had a t-shirt with the caption,  “Fuck your feelings snowflakes.”
Translated, this is Trump country and I am probably the only Democrat who dared set foot in this slot parlor. As the dim lights, cigarette smoke, and smell of old whiskey set the scene, I can see the guy, probably in the Stars and Bars t-shirt bellowing,  “Shut up! No Blondie, we werent talking to you! We were talking to your Commie Puppet!”
That’s when a lone cowboy boot would kick the door down and a fast hand would take a pistol out and begin to twirl it. The room would stop and I would look up, and standing there to challenge me would be Clint Eastwood. Looking me dead in the eye, he would say“Are you feeling lucky, Ventriloquist Punk?”
Note to viewer, the Gaming Commission nixed that scene. So now let’s get on with the narrative, you know the one where I win money. No more time for politics, there are slots to play. DING! The satisfaction of the numbers going up. DING! DING! DING! WINNING! WINNING! WINNING!
DING! The numbers go down. DING! They go down again. DING! DING! DING! Now I am in a death spiral. LOSER! Glaring at the slot machine I say, “I hate you!”
Looking over at me are the fossils, the mullets with the American Flag t-shirts, the Stars and Bars, the Harley Davidson t-shirts, and the NRA t-shirts. Their look is not one of condemnation but rather one of sympathy and understanding. We are all in the same win/loss cycle with these machines. At this moment, politics aside, we are all losers. The machines taunt, “Fuck your feelings snowflakes!”
This picture was supposed to be a Western, and the talking machines are more a surrealist twist and production is not sure how they feel about it. Translated, time for some fresh air. Looking over the horizon of the River Walk, the sun sets behind the mountains overlooking the Colorado River, flowing wild and free as the history and people who made this region. I am now a desert rat, the lawless landscape (okay they have some laws) around me my playground and the sound of slot machines my lullaby. As my monologue concludes either Will Rogers, John Wayne, or Clint Eastwood ride into that same sunset to end the final scene. That’s when the director yells, “…….AND CUT! OKAY, THAT’S A WRAP FOR APRIL’S OVERACTIVE IMAGINATION!”

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