Strip It. Strip It Good.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

With the odds stacked against me after my first trip to Vegas, I had to go back to Sin City just a few weeks later. A nonstop flight delivered me safely to McCann International where a silent cabbie took me back to the strip and deposited me at The Venetian where I was greeted by an accordion player in front of a giant gold-leaf fountain underneath a Michelangelo-style painted dome. Welcome to Vegas.

The hotel hosts a performance of Phantom of the Opera every night, so as you're walking to your room under dainty cherubs and elaborate chandeliers, they're piping haunting organ music and Christine's high notes, which you have to believe make those little glass pendants on the chandeliers tremble. And wonder if some half-masked caped stranger will be on the elevator when the doors open.

Business ended on a Friday night at 6, but my nonstop return flight didn't depart until first thing Saturday morning. As such, I found myself wandering down the strip alone, a stranger in a very, very strange land. Determined to make the best of it, I took in the pirate show at Treasure Island - which, for the record, was preceded by Ini Kamoze's "Here Comes the Hot Stepper" on the loudspeaker. The show itself featured two sirens named Cinnamon and Sugar who lure poor Captain Mack and his decidedly hunky crew aboard their siren ship by singing and gyrating in scanty glittered hot pants. After that explosive show came to an end, I headed to The Mirage for a volcanic eruption and then back to the classics at The Forum abutting Caesar's Palace where all sorts of amazing replica statuary lives. From the heart of Italy, I jaunted to Paris and its Eiffel Tower. And no trip down the strip would be complete without a viewing of The Bellagio fountains, which, for the upcoming Fourth of July holiday, were choreographed to Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA."

After hours of being a quiet watcher among the noisy crowds wearing ginormous test tubes of multicolored alcohol and of studiously ignoring casino barkers and those peddling the seedier side of Vegas who made me walk like Mary Katherine Gallagher to keep them from putting things in my hands, I headed back to the Phantom's lair. I captured my journey entirely on my iPhone and assembled my bizarre evening on the strip into a little photo book. Me and Vegas aren't at odds anymore, but frankly, if I play my cards right, I won't be going back any time soon.


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