“The time of the Elves is over…who will you look to when we’ve gone? The Dwarves? They hide in their mountains seeking riches — they care nothing for the troubles of others.”                                                – Lord Elrond

 

I recently spent 5 days in Vegas. I travelled there with a friend who was taping a national TV spot. It’s show time in show town.

It was all very cool, fun and quite engaging on a variety of levels, but the truth is I was done and ready to head home 24 hours after landing. Overdone actually. And we were staying off the strip. Most of the time I felt like I was wandering around a massive cruise ship looking for the next thing to do and feeling like I was missing out. Pretty sure that’s how Vegas was designed, with a perpetual, ubiquitous dangling carrot.

They call it sin city, the land of the high roller. A place caught somewhere between a circus sideshow and an overwrought Disney amusement park on steroids. It’s been built on lust, insatiable greed and a desire for a little bit more of everything. Excess upon excess – a house of cards built on sand. Now that’s a lovely picture out here in the desert. It‘s the perfect place to think only of yourself. Forget about delayed gratification here. No time for it.

Pretty much everything here is fake. I went into a flower garden at the Bellagio and wow did it ever smell great – a sensual delight. The tragic thing is I’m pretty sure most of the blossoms and buds weren’t real flowers. I spent some time in a bar at the Paris hotel that showcased two grand pianos face to face. The pianists duelled in a complimentary way. Awesome. When I got a little closer after the show however I noticed the tickled ivories didn’t really exist. They had been replaced with electronic keyboards. The grand pianos were shells. Not so grand anymore. Mere props. Love that kind of thing. And they say hyperbole is overdone.

People watching in Vegas should be unionized. It’s great work. The stories abound. Sit down with anyone and you’ve got yourself a 13 episode reality based TV series. We’re all products of a fair bit of pain, pleasure, hopeful dreams, broken relationships and deep desires. Who doesn’t resonate with that? Perhaps Crave would be the most appropriate network to approach with the new pitch.

I spent a great deal of time trying to figure out the ethos of the demographic here in this multi-slot machined town. I think I’ll be reflecting on that for some time. Gamblers, corporate folk and locals. Show folk, celebrities, street people, tourists and the lonely travellers – seekers of all kinds.

On our second day I met a man working the hotel lobby. He shined shoes. Last time I connected with a shoe shiner (Not even sure that’s what you call the profession these days.) was with a kid who worked me, okay scammed me out of 20 dollars on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. It was about 20 years ago on a tour with a fellow magician friend of mine.

This time though I met someone hard at work, focused on the task at hand and hoping to connect with others.

Smearing.
Brushing.
Polishing.

When I first noticed him he was working on a pair of his current client’s shoes, but he was always looking. I watched him watch other people’s feet. Sometimes looking behind him, but most often ahead as people sauntered by. He didn’t pay much attention to my feet at the time as I was in sandals. He’d already made his calculation.

The shoes.
The shine.
The feet.

Can you get a better metaphor for pretty much everything that has to do with what’s next – the future, the path and the notion of stepping forward into a world of possibilities. One shoe. One step at a time.

This guy at the hotel Rio could have been sitting on his pedestal reading the paper, people watching, posting on Facebook, waiting for his next customer to come along. But no. Not good enough for Bill here in the land of exposure, chance and the perpetual carnival ride. I loved how he seemed to be way more interested in the next moment, guiding and building his future. Surrounded by chance and working the gaming floor there was no way things were going to fall into his lap.

Think my dress shoes might need a quick touch up. I can hear Eminen’s Lose Yourself as I head down to the gaming floor for my personal polish walking to the beat.

“You better lose yourself in the music, the moment
You own it, you better never let it go
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime you better”

Hey did you know that Malcolm X once worked as a shoeshine boy?

Opportunity knocks. Everywhere.
David Peck
Las Vegas
04-2016