Noise is a statement in Sin City

By Royal Hopper


You see them approach the elevator in the decades old monument to gambling and vice in perfect matching pink polos and matching designer pale blue pants like some middle aged prep school drill team. The stop and smile as they approach certain that they look like the coolest thing since Elvis and as they approach you in perfect smiling unison.
So they stop and prepare to speak…to each other of course not the non polo prep drill team humans around them the tensions build (not really it just sounded cool) and one thing echoes across the many thousands of times polished marble …everything in this city is noisy.

guy with sign dancing close up front

Sign holders all over the city. This one was dancing up storm on a Sin City street corner advertising a Barber Shop Photo by Royal Hopper

The inane conversation of the polo drill team is suddenly drowned out by a blaring radio, a couple arguing and a pre-programmed digital announcement casting a glare on the thousand square feet of polished white marble in the long gilded hallway and the fall out of a nearby neon sign. Everything here is noisy in some way sound, distracting visual stimulation and social differences that would shock those from less enlightened.

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When I first arrived in Las Vegas in mid 1989 I just out of the US Army via SE Texas both places of intensely enforced and predictable social order where people are loud at appropriate and rare moments like at football games and when you are shooting heavy machine guns but not when they are eating lunch it was a shock to say the least. The noise alone and the jungle of neon signs. Needless to say the first time I saw two men holding hands or two women kissing it was a shock. It isn’t such a big deal in this city and it shouldn’t be….
First remember there is no such thing as absolute silence in the normal world. A normal human body generates several decibels of sound by just working, breathing heart beating ect ect. ect. I remember once actually being asked by a customers at a casino i worked at. “Can you do something about the volume,” she said pointing at something I could not see. I looked around thinking she was talking about the music on the PA or a band playing nearby. I looked in the direction she was pointing and saw nothing but sky. One of the rare desert rain storms was dancing across the desert sky drenching the dry terrain and creating a racket as the rain drops crashed onto the oily dirty concrete and asphalt.
“I will see what I can do,” I said as amiably as I could manage. Incidentally about that time the rain let up. Just mother nature taking a break. The woman smiled a surprised sleepy smile and said “Well thank you,” and half giggling skipped away down the walkway toward the Sin City sidewalk to look at the drenched landscape.

It is said that whispering between two people can generate 30 decibel of detectable sound and a normal human voice as many as 60 decibels. There is visual noise as well. Huge mountains in the background dominating the skyline and down in the valley miles of neon signs some 30 feet tall flashing every attraction know to civilized man. On the quietest day in this city there is still music every where. There is still a neon cowboy flashing his welcoming wave somewhere. There are still people dressed like Big Bird and Power Rangers posing for pictures somewhere. There are still people holding signs telling about aliens or ninjas or just saying they are hungry. There is something somewhere all the time. That is life. traffic shot.JPG
Its never really completely quiet here or anywhere else either in sound or vision but here the loudness is obvious and constant. It is easy for people sensitive to such things to feel overwhelmed by all the visual and audio noise or in a twisted way somehow protected by it _ as if with all the noise no one will notice them. Perhaps that is why many people come to this town to end it all.
I once had a fairly tough looking man confess to me he couldn’t stand the noise of the place any more and couldn’t seem to clear his head. I half jokingly told the man about Zion National Park. “The wife and I have been several times it beautiful.” Go somewhere safe and isolated. Play only music that calms you and makes you think. Look at things that make you calm like sunsets in the mountains and only be around people who calm your mind and soul. You cant get away from the noise it is everywhere so only be around the noise that calms you and helps you think. Your mind will figure itself out when it only has to deal with noise it likes. Quiet is a myth.motor cycle guy.JPG
“Wow yeah,” he said with a look of resigned determination coming over him. I turned to look at the man and continue our conversation but he was gone. I saw him a few minutes later with abag on his should and a paper ticket of some kind in his hand…”Thanks man,” he said as he hurried on his way, “Thanks.” I never saw him again. I hope he is okay,
Whatever the reason the constant noise audio and visual and social is why so many people who come to live here or even visit a lot , try to generate their own noise pollution _one of their own choosing ..Their own City of Sin Cammo Cover..there own weird noise to protect from the bombardment they constantly face.
Just imagine a huge building full of people drinking, talking, yelling sometimes, music playing in the background, thousands of slot machines with exotic themes each making several decibels of noise each playing what modern folks call a cut scene to entice people to play. Now imagine a city full of them surrounded by a natural environment that is full of noise. I remember once years ago having to wait several minutes for a group of coyotes to cross the road while they constantly yelped and yipped. sign jungle.JPG
Add to that the thousands of vehicles traveling the byways of Sin City roaring from their overpowered engines blasting music from their collective stereos and lets no forget the desert wind roaring down out of the mountains. Even the neon signs this city is famous for generate multiple decibels of noise and the juice that keeps them bright hums and sparks the night away. I remember once when I was working at the poor doomed Riviera having a contingent of bikers roar by in groups of 100 followed by a huge truck with a broken muffler, two more trucks blaring adds for local shooting ranges and tour bus with a group of students shouting and screaming and exposing various body parts. The noise was louder than the Metallica concert I saw in the 90s and the man sleeping in the planter near the road never even woke up.

sign jungle

A corner of the neon jungle _ Photo by Royal Hopper

It is the Sin City way…Sometime there are screams. Sometimes howls of laughter and debauched glee. Sometimes the sound of couples laughing, arguing and doing other things couples do.

One of the things you notice about LasVegas , the City of Sin if you come to it from the worlds smaller more tranquil locations is _ It is loud.
Thats life in the City of Sin Sinners
Love you guys

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