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America as Seen from the “Fremont Experience”

The Fremont Experience at Night

I fully expected that our trip to Las Vegas last week would make for some great people watching. That it did, in spades. We were in the downtown area at the Plaza Hotel, which is at the west end of Fremont Street and of the four-block Fremont Experience. Even though we were in town on a Monday through Thursday after a three-day weekend, the Fremont Experience was crowded. I attribute this partly to the cold temperatures and biting winds, which made the enclosed space a particularly desirable destination.

Here’s what I noticed about the tourists in downtown Vegas:

  1. Most of the tourists were obese. Those who were proud of their fat congregated in large numbers at the Heart Attack Café, where they sat in wheelchairs wearing hospital gowns and being waited upon by sexy “nurses.” By the way, the restaurants went in for quantity more than quality of food.
  2. Among the men, a large percentage had beards and frequently extensive tattoos—and not a Maori in sight!
  3. Many of the older tourists (and some of the younger ones) were in fancy motorized wheelchairs. Some of these disabled visitors (or did they just get tired of walking any more?) were grotesquely obese.
  4. It seemed to be de rigeur for most of the males and some of the women to be always clutching super-sized cocktails as they walked around. In fact, I was surprised how much drinking was going on at all times.
  5. Very few tourists were to be seen even one block north or south of the Fremont Experience. Martine, who did not like the Experience, was happy to walk around it to get to our destinations.
  6. There was loud pop music everywhere, mostly of the “Wall of Sound” variety, which gets on one’s nerves after a while.

Probably the tourists we saw were not representative of most Americans. If they were, I think I would feel even more isolated than I usually do.

Fortunately, Martine and I enjoyed ourselves even though we were not obese lushes tattooed liked escapees from a carnival.