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Why do all the billboards in the suburbs look like they were made in 1958 – Royal Hopper

There are rules in the City of Sin

 

By Royal Hopper 

 

It is a scene that has played out many many many times in the 80 something years in the history of legal gambling houses in the City of Sin. A man stands up and stumbles toward the elevator with much younger woman in his arm. He is ordinary looking older and clearly not a local a “Sinner” and she is clearly a player who knows the ins and outs of Sin City …

waiting at crosswalk

The art of waiting at crosswalks _ Royal Hopper

You want to scream dude seriously she not into you …your going to get rolled …She’s a pro dude…but you dont .. He wouldnt believe you anyway ..They never do ….
You walk down the hallway of any major hotel and you see Doors propped open with no sign of the occupants anywhere .. a man steps out of the elevator and looks around and sees the security officer strolling down the hallway on his nightly patrols he looks down the hall to man standing at a door his hand on the door presumably a friend. They turn quickly as the property order keeper turns toward resting one hand on his radio. Were they lovers not wanting anyone to know about their affair?,,,,,More than likely they were what Vegas calls door pushers looking for open doors to push open so they could steal the contents of the rooms.


In the casino you see a man at a slot machine staring in disbelief at the slot machine that just took his money. My system should have worked he mutters forgetting the Vegas reply to people with systems ..”Come in sit down …lets gamble ..” They seldom work.

The thing about Vegas is there are rules . A hot woman who is really into you when you re well past your prime and not rich is probably a Prostitute and when she asks you to take a shower before your date or offers you a glass of strange tasing rufied champagne..your stuff will be gone when you get back or wake up.
Rule 1 shes not that into you dude seriously


Rule 2: Close your door when you leave or got to sleep. If someone sneaks into your room and takes your stuff because you left the door open ..ITS YOUR FAULT
Rule 3: The odds always favor the house _ always. Most gambling systems dont work. Make a budget and when its gone stop gambling you idiot. Unless you are some kind of mathematical genius and can count cards without being caught you …
Rule 4. Dont do anything in Sin City you dont want people to know. In a world where four year olds have cell phones what happens in Vegas will probably be on the internet a hour later.
Rule 5. In the summer time drink water or gatorade not beer if you are going outside for any length of time.It is hot and dry in the desert and you will dehydrate in minutes.

If you wallet is light
dont party here at night
if your skin is thin
if you offended by gin
dont come here at all
or fall ssleep in a stall
mind all you stuff
know when to say enough

the city aint nice
you will pay the price
for not knowing rules
for acting the fool
Listen my friend
Let Me say it again
and again and again and again
this aint feaking iowa
Its the City of Sin

sunset with Man Bay in background

Sometimes this City looks like a beautiful B movie sunset – Royal Hopper

 

 

 

 

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This little fellow was spotted lying in the road in Oatman Arizona a little over a month ago…Royal Hopper

The Art of Not Giving a Crap

There are many kinds of not giving a crap. Lets look at two and then describe and admit which one you are
by Royal Hopper

 

You see a man sitting in the dirt near a drainage ditch ..devoid of other potential for use just sitting there eating his lunch in the dirt ..
He is ragged but not dirty or worn down and nibbles his food step by step moving without thought or savoring of the victuals. He remembers how to eat of course but there is no joy just necessity of maintaining his metabolic processes .
Another man sits atop his scooter ..wheelchair bound and octogenarian, sweating like a basketball team and exhausted he stops his pin sized go cart for a moment takes a deep breath and brushes his hair back from his obviously dyed black hair from his eyes. He boasts an Elvis hairdo dyed Barbi Doll black and doent care what anybody thinks about it.


Back at the dirty dusty drainage construction site the lunch eating man must know he is being watched but if he cares he doesnt show it. Sitting in his isolated spot behind a tangled wire fence in the dirt near a ditch occassionally pushing back his red non descript ball cap enough to push the substance into his mouth he lays in the dirt and eats ..screw what anybody thinks.
You see that a lot these days ..In the city ..in the country elsewhere sometimes people are just surviving not really living ,,in short they just don’t give a crap anymore. They are going to do what they do and screw you if you don’t like it…or think its silly.
The Elvis hairdo guy stands out even in a town haunted by the ghost of Elvis Presley 40 years after his untimely demise. His face is wrinkled and lined, his over weight frame bent by age and disability and his skin sallow but his hair is bright black and has that 50s Rebel flare. He looks like someone has painted a cartoon wig on a real person.


He manages a smile, catches his breath and guns the accelerator on his motorized scooter dissapearing into the crowd of Sin City revelers. At this point in his life he is going to do what he is going to do …catoon Elvis wig and all …You have to respect that a little. Flipping the bird at conformity and letting your freak flag fly is the Sin City way.
Back at the curb in the dirt whoever he is ..a homeless man with access to clean clothes or some guy working a shit job he has to get away from the man clearly has a serious case of I don’t give a crap anymore …


He doesnt really appear to enjoy the food he shovels mechanically into his mouth. He just knows he has to eat. There is no joy that can be seen…no real emotion. Both of these men are prime examples of the not giving a crap class of people in this city.
One where you just fade into the background and ignore the world and one where you express your inner self and don’t care what people think about it. Many of us aspire to be one of those things and end up being the other. This city is as a line from a comic book I read is championed not by the barons and bankers that run it ,,but by the wayward outcast children that populate its many dusty , neon lit corners, gambling parlors, street corners, shopping malls and cafes.
They are a fundamental aspect of life in the City of Sin.
Love You Sinners

 …Politics and religion were a forbidden subject at a recent family get together. Two vegetarians, two liberals, four conservatives two of them deeply religious and a true neutral who doesn’t discuss politics got together to have dinner talk about old times. The following is a allegorical explanation of a simple family event . For the record we laughed, we joked, we feasted. Its what happens in real life when you don’t let BS get in the way. 

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Took this at the Golden Nugget Hotel/Casino in Lake Charles, La. ..Every city has its monsters –Royal Hopper

Coincidental Serendipity or The Great Divide

by Royal Hopper

You land on the ground after an annoyingly long but relatively smooth flight and step out of the metal tube that has borne you through the air 1,500 miles from your adopted city in the desert to the land of your birth and the feeling of the thick moist air hits you in the face like a blast from the past.
It is the opposite of the dry sun baked sand and car exhaust smell of your adopted city in the desert. It smells like benzene, oil refineries and mold and tons of vegetation rotting in corners mixed with the usual sites and sounds of life usually inspired by humidity and an excess of water and warmth.

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The people in the air terminal seem a bit unnerved by the crowd of strangers like intelligent cattle wandering through strange pastures occassionally mooing their unease. Others brashly confident stroll through the crowd of people seeming to paint a sign on their foreheads that read sucker in bright red letters. Mostly they are just walking straight ahead not making eye contact for fear of summoning some predator lurking around the corner.
To you it is all old hat. You are from the City of Sin…you are a Sinner and crowds like this are just another Sunday or Tuesday or Thursday and these guys aren’t even drunk.

First person

As you may have guessed from the film Noir opening My wife and I flew to Texas to visit family and celebrate a belated Holiday season and reconnect with family members who still live far to the east.
After a long flight to Houston and retrieving we got out of the City in our rented Hyundai we stopped for supper/breakfast . I don’t remember what we ate but I do remember seeing flashing lights attached to a police cruiser of some type tearing down the interstate and shrugging my shoulders slightly. It was easy to tell the city dwellers from the tourists who looked out at the lights with concern. I shrugged and went back to eating. My wife who is much less cynical than I am didn’t seem to notice at all.
That is what happens when you live in the city especially in the City of Sin. It is hard to freak you and out as long as the lights are pointed at someone else you don’t sweat it. We headed out of the city across the East Texas countryside passing through Beaumont and then southern Jefferson County where I was born and through Orange County where my brief sojourn as a journalist took place and arrived at my sisters place in Louisiana.
I was very happy to see my sister and the house was a beauty well maintained and large enough for a family get together for a large family.
The air was thicker than I was used to and made breathing a chore sometimes and honestly when the wind blew from a certain direction it stank like smog and swamp grass and oil refinery smoke stacks….but the company made was wonderful. The jokes were corny and the stories were kind of true.
As you can probably tell I am a frustrated writer. So in the interest of equal treatment before I tell you about the ton of turkey and ham we consumed. Here is an allegorical explanation of the difference something I wrote about SE Texas on my less cynical days. This is SE Texas and SW Louisiana.

It a quiet night/dusk; “………………….. The man called Renegade said quickly losing himself in the memories he was invoking…….”It was sultry, warm and moist.
It was the kind of night you might expect to see in a Faulkner novel, warm and wet enough that you can feel it when you breath but not so much that it makes you sticky and uncomfortable. The kind of late spring night you can only find in Southeast Texas . The kind that comes between the cold snaps and the heat of summer when the weather is warm and the smell of dead grass mixes with the green resin of the pine trees and a bouquet of innumerable, indestructible and unidentifiable weeds that cover the East Texas countryside during numerous false springs. It was the kind of night that made you glad that large parts of Texas were still hopelessly rural.
Its the kind of night when in between whiffs of poison from the refineries the whole world smells and looks …well alive…….
That is the spring .. the moment of glory for that part of the country. The winter is wet cold and smells the same without benefit of the green growing plants to lessen the blow and the summer is humid furnace with swarms of mosquitoes and the occasional alligator.
I also once toyed with the idea of writing a post apocalyptic Las Vegas story. I described the Vegas of this dystopia as looking like a giant neon dragon had crashed to earth leaving its brightly colored scales scattered across the landscape with spots of decadence scattered amid the destruction..with some people still holding signs, some still spending way more than they should on things they don’t need. The city is the same ..It just changed outfits

Vegas is a huge machine covered with bright colors..each casino a small town with its own bureaucracy…its own order keepers, bars, theaters, stores and cafes.

The feast .. Back to the vacation….

We spent the week hugging people and eating lots of greasy southern food.. We had ham and turkey …two kinds of cabbage one vegetarian and one traditional and two kinds of corn bread one of them vegetarian. I was secretly glad when my vegetarian nephew and his girl showed up ..so there was some healthier food to dine on and managed to gracefully decline the donuts and Kolaches .. offered for breakfast the next day .. For those who don’t know what a Kolache is. It a half pound of white dough wrapped around a piece of southern sausage…..stop laughing …..no seriously stop laughing
The ban worked …No politics or religion was discussed and the week played out peacefully. We all gained two or three pounds from the southern cuisine we consumed and hugged each other as we left for our individual destinations.
Then it was time to go home and go back to work and pay the bills
That is life in the City of Sin
Love You Sinners

Instead of the usual run down of events of the previous year I want to tell you about a woman determined to live a little …to have fun no matter her condition in life, age or health. It uplifted me a little and I hope it will you …IMG_3936.JPG

To not sit at alone home on New Years Eve and the defeat of time for a day

By Royal Hopper

New Years Eve I came across a woman in a wheelchair playing a slot machine with all the intensity her aged bent frame could muster. Her fingers were bent into a permanent gnarled cup by years of a fighting losing battle with arthritis.
But there was a determined scowl ..one always worn and boasted by recreational gamblers as they endeavored to crack the secret of the slot machine with various methods and systems that never work.
She managed smile as she pulled a small wad of money from a paper envelope with great effort. Hitting the button of the slot machine with her cane held in her gnarled mitt of a hand she asked for help moving her wheelchair and the chairs in front of the machines around so she could play two of them at once.IMG_3947.JPG

The man many years younger though not young by most standards moves the chairs around and pushes the wheelchair to the machine she desires and she raises her cane to hot another button on the one armed bandit …another chances at riches and bragging rights…
“I just wasnt going to sit at home,” she said later managing a smile again _ “on New Years Eve..” This one was going to live on her own terms right to the end. She could barely sit up straight while she hit the buttons of the slot machine …sitting alone as the younger men and women around her indulged in that most decandent of holidays..Her clothes are older rumpled but she sits proud and unapolagetic if a little sad and lonely…
“I won two hundred dollars on this one,” she says pointing at one of the machines, “I spent three hundred so I lost $100 she said wrinkling her brow at the effort of the calculation.
Someone offers that that is not bad for a New Years Eve in Las Vegas says a casino passing by as he raises his hand in tghe air and says “high five” She smiles and raises her arthtitic apendage to greet the high five.
“My hands are not what they used to be,” she said stoping for a moment for a reaction. the man holds up his somewhat younger middle aged hand which boasts a few barely visible gray hairs and says ..”My hands arent exactly what they used to be ..no ones hands are ..”

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Two women waiting at a bus stop _Royal Hopper

“Did you have fun?” he asked. She shook her head affirmative. “That’s what counts ….have a great night…”
That seems to please her and she turns back to the machine as the man pressed by other duties goes back to his work adjusting his polyester uniform and heavy duty belt as he walks …”Happy New Year,” they both mutter as they part ways to their individual worlds…For one day _ one moment Father Time was defeated

I didn’t know her but I was proud of her courage and determination to live whatever life she had left and not sit alone at home

..and sometimes that too is life in the City of Sin ….

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There is a street preacher who hangs out on Vegas streets and lets his signs speak for him. I’m not terribly religious but you cant talk about the City of Sin without mentioning the other side – Royal Hopper

Love You Sinners

 

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Christmas in the City of Sin

 

by Royal Hopper 

The Turkey was cooking and the ham nearly done IMG_20171203_214719.jpg
the dogs were all barking and ready for fun
We were just sitting down to eat all the food
when on the TV News 8 came a strange looking dude
He was walking down the street with his eyes all aglow
on his white beard and shoulders something like snow
His hair was all dyed and his nose not really real
and I knew in a moment he was too drunk to feel
surrounded by cops who looked none to pleased
he complained and complained about the drugs they had seized
The cops glowered at him and shouted put your boots on
and he smiled and glowered back just like Wayne Newton
he turned and he said to invisible friends
on Neon, on Poker, on Bacarat and Beers
on B girl and Cocaine he said patting invisible rears
hey there Blacjack and Jackpot so dear
Lets giddy up go and get up out of here
The cops for their parts stepped forward with cuffsIMG_20171203_214004.jpg
Fake Santa did struggle but the cops were all buff
Merry Christmas all fake Santa said cuffed to the rail
as a buddy nearby called friends for bail
and to all a good night a good night as they hauled him to jail
as he left he sang a song like he was casting a spell
Merry Christmas Merry Christmas he said again what a pity
Arrested on Christmas Day in jail in Sin City
Where does it end ..where to begin
It aint funny or or sad just Christmas in the City of Sin

 

Love You Sinners
Merry Christmas again from the City of SinIMG_20171127_160923.jpgIMG_20171128_135052.jpg

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Random Christmas Decorations from a random event 

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I was 15 in 1977 when Elvis Presley died. I had never been west of Austin or even heard of the hotel where he had spent the last eight years of his life performing. Now if you are in the City of Sin …..listen _ his ghost is every where.
Despite its reputation as a monument to cutting edge interpretation of vice and decadence Vegas is a place constantly looking to the past for inspiration..hence the old joke Las Vegas is a place where old acts go to die …..Vegas has a lot of ghosts. We have learned to ignore them.

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The Front of the Pioneer Gambling House in Laughlin Nevada has many has many reminders of the past —Royal Hopper

The Ghost of the past only own you if you let them

by Royal Hopper

A couple trapped in time walks down a polished marble walkway in a Sin City casino surrounded by shops of all kinds, monuments to consumer capitalism in the modern age..
The red button down evening coat/dress worn by the woman boasts round white buttons running down the length of its front and looks fresh out of a JC Penny catalogue circa 1962.. The turtle neck and suit worn by the man reek of that early 60s male swagger although for this guy it seems mostly an act.
They look aroud almost dissapointed by their surroundings …to modern by half. The place they strut through has a touch of the same old feel to it …A 1969 vintage this house of decadedance boasts years of make overs, layers of marble and paint covering up the aura of the past it was built to honor …

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Everywhere there are people holding signs – Photo by Royal Hopper

The couple other than the gray in the hair and the slight stoop in their step seem untouched by the decades. They stride past the watching shoppers in their modern casual, designer jeans, $100 tram jerseys, and generic grunge proudly wearing their anachricism like a badge of honor. In their minds they are 17 and the Beetles are a hot new group out of Liverpool…
A few days later another couple makes that ame foray into the past ..the man wearing a red polyester blazer seemingly more suited to the set of a time travel movie than modern Vegas. The woman wears a dress that looks plucked right out of your granmothers fashion catalogue.
Though days apart both couples seem to follow a script. They stop for a moment and look around ..as if trying to make a decision..Is the modern world worth the trouble ??? and for a moment look ready to shed 1962 and put on a pair of Calvin Kliens and a fashionable polo or a jersey and a Gucci hand bag or some such modernism…
Both stop and look around at the modern world but it is only a moment they stop …a moment later they shake off their questions about the wonders and demands of the modern world and stalk back into 1962 with the confused absent minded simplistic energy common to the age ….No one bothers them ..to be sure ..but no one notices them either.


They are much like the dated architecure of the place they walk through ..just there …
Understand it is not sentiment that leads the modern Vegas to ignore the ghosts pf the past even as they build monuments to them and stare in pretend awe of their spirits. It is simply not in the natur eof the City of Sin to be sentimental.
You will not find a less sentimental place than the City of Sin. There is loyalty if you look for it and are lucky …There are fortunes to be made if you are lucky and lost if you are not …. Sometime there is even love to be found and I can testify to that ..but sentiment is something for tourists and other less practical cities….. City’s less prone to drama and theater might indulge in the sentiment that allows you to embrace or reject the ghosts of the past. This is not San Francisco…This is not Alabama…Wed don’t embrace or reject ghosts… The City of Sin simply ignores them because that is our nature…

Near the expanse of marble at one of the local hotels where both couples walked there is a bronze statue of Elvis at telling of the King’s glory days in the City when he played more than 800 shows to packed audiences before he died ..in 1977 when I was 15…..Back then that hotel was his place …Bell bottoms, leisure suits, and disco was everywhere, Led Zeppelin ruled Rock and Roll and The King of the 50s reigned supreme in the City of Sin …..The Ghost of Elvis Presley definitely stalks the city…. But that’s all it is a ghost. ….
Ghosts only destroy you ..only effect you ..if you acknowledge their power ,,,and if you pay attention and agree to live there for awhile ….In the city of Sin we don’t

That’s life in the City of Sin Brothers and Sisters

Love you Sinners

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The City of Sin is a canvas of human culture …There are many features in the complex culture of Sin City …Today we will talk about two types of obvious features of culture in this city ….beautiful fakes and that includes some of the people and the all to real often ignored realities of this painted lady in the sand we call a City of Sin

Some Real Things And Some Fake Things

by Royal Hopper

 

You drive down a lonely desert highway on a winter morning with casinos on the left and right as the rare wift of winter fog rises from the hood of your car. As you near your destination and pull into the turn lane you stop and wait…You see a man riding a bicycle bundled up like a gray nylon snowman against the chill of the desert winter. In his hands he carries four large packages struggling to balance the bike and the packages as he hurries across the crosswalk to let your waiting truck into the parking lot.

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Sunset in the City of Sin – Royal Hopper

What does this brave soul carry ? What is he risking his health and safety to carry cross this burden across a frosty desert highway where drivers are known for occassionally picking pedestrians and cicylist of sidewalks …Pampers ..This bundled up bike rider is carrying four huge packages of disposable diapers ..Now imagine being sent out for the monthly supply of diapers on a bike ..in the winter across a Las Vegas highway knownfor being dangerous to pedestrians and bikers …That is reality …..
In the same city a man pauses and poses disgusied as a performer that died before he was old enough to cross the street without his Mama holding his hand. Fake …….One of many fake Elvi…..IMG_3807.JPG
In the same City still a woman walks across a Sin City sidewalk obviously exhausted from the day’s activities … her jacket over her shoulder just to tired to put it on …her cocktail skirt and silk stockings implying an exotic treasure you have to but drinks from and her cynical frown saying louder than words that even she doesn’t buy it anymore. She reaches her vehicle a small commuter car built for the city and her face lifts up and a small smile curves the corners of her mouth. A medium sized mixed breed mutt barks and wags its tail with enthusiasm at her arrival while her significant other unseen through the dark cheap 90s style tint of the cars wind shield and a small child wakes up from a nap and nearly jumps for joy at her arrival….Real and brother don’t you forget it ….


You what looks like a man sized statue so realisitic you can resist the tempation to touch it. It flinches making you nearly jump out of your skin. It is a picture poser dressed like a bronze statue..His partner dressed as Big Bird is just down the street along with several power rangers and a fouut six Darth Vader …cool fakes …
A kind hearted woman who has kind words even for people she doesnt like struggles into her motorized wheelchair adjusting the tubes clamped to her nose from the oxygen tank sh carries to breath and stops to take her medicine she she can catch her breath enough to shovel bills into her favorite 1 cent slot machine…….Real man …real
In a bar in a casino in the City of Sin a girl talks to a man twice her age hanging on every word maybe even buying him a drink offering to be his girl friend for the evening. Hint this is fake and the dude is going to get rolled …….


Every night tourists stand on the end of miles of concrete three feet thick and snap pictures of hand built volcanos four stories tall and powered by Coconut scented natural gas while down the artifical streets of Sin City a pretend lagoon and pretend ships a pretend skyline…a pretend Paris and Venetian cityscapes and miles of neon jungle dot the horizon.
In that same city street A dozen different realities scurry across the road between light changes or stumble into traffic after a long night out , bask on a rock in the desert or go to work to punch a clock and pay the mortgage ….
Las Vegas is a world of fake things ..of pretend things ..fake waterfalls..fake valcanos and Paris style fountains in the middle of the Nevada desert but it is also a place of all to real things ….


Every night beautiful fakes light up the desert night while awestruck tourist take snap shots, stare out at a loving audiences every night and wait to be cleaned, polished and prepared for the next batch of awestruck shutterbugs. Every night the real things go home and walk the dogs pr bte the cat as it chasers a rabbit.
There is an art to making fake things ..an art to allowing peole to enjoy fake things and getting them to gove you their money to do it …and a art to looking the real things with out judging ….
That is life, love, real things and fake things in the City of Sin…
Love You Sinners