billboard couple (2)

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






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 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. 


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.

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 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 … 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 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 ones hands are ..”


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 ….


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