Sunday, May 27, 2007

What's It All About?

As Bacchus and I were dodging raindrops I was reflecting on how unfunny the funnies were this morning. Especially Doonesbury and Opus. The occasion, of course, is the honoring of our war dead - Memorial Day. Thirty four hundred plus in Iraq to date. Tragic barely seems an adequate description.

It occurred to me how ironic it is that the iconic images of the war are of New York City. It also occurred to me that the most accurate images of what it's all about are not in the city itself but Las Vegas. New York New York. Hotel and Casino. Here you can get closer to the Statue of Liberty than you can in reality. No concrete barriers. No armed guards. Here you ride the elevator with Somali Muslims without being afraid. Here, with the strength of overseas currencies, you hear more languages than you can identify and the minority is English. If it is English it has a British or Scottish or Irish accent. Foreigners.

The script on the pedestal of the Stature of Liberty reads "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door" -from "The New Colossus" by Emma Lazarus.

Granted those visiting Las Vegas are not the destitute nor the homeless yet they come in droves to see what we are all about. The streets are always teaming with humanity. Though the Strip itself is a microcosm of the world with Paris, The Venetian, Monte Carlo and so many more, it is here they visit. Even the roller coaster that zips through New York New York is exemplary of what life there is like. Topsy turvy; turbulent.

It is curious to me that a city with a mayor who is a former mob attorney and who wants to put the "sin" back in "Sin City" presides over a city that in many ways more represents the America of my youth than the one in which I now live. In many respects it represents the America for which our young men and women are sacrificing life and limb. One where our fears aren't rubbing us raw, where life can be fun, where peoples mix without angst, where security abounds but is as unobtrusive as possible.

Serious things go on too. We really did attend an investment conference. Where else can you be walking down a corridor and strike up a conversation with Frank Cappiello? No hesitation by either person. That's what we're supposed to be about. Free. Welcoming. America. As a whole.

They say what happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas. In some ways that's a pity. Viva Las Vegas.

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