The gremlins of computer land struck again and the blog I wrote for this week disappeared in a puff of digital computer virus smoke. Fortunately the virus was a light weight and the computers installed defenses removed it without damage. Unfortunately the blog was gone so here is its reconstructed version.
File photo from 2014 ….Photo by Royal Hopper
Remember this. The City of Sin is all about the green. Everyone is there to make money. They don’t actually give crap if you are having fun. It is about paying the bills or making a fortune. You always have to pay _ you gotta pay…It is the mantra of the City of Sin….You gotta pay…
One of the century old steel railroad bridges built in the bitter cold of the Alaskan winter in a few weeks ….damn -Royal Hopper
The wages of sin or you gotta pay Frank you gotta pay
By Royal Hopper
There is an incredible line about the wages of sin from an otherwise standard action adventure old west outlaw movie (don’t get me wrong it was a great movie with great one liners but not an inspiration) made almost 40 years ago that still rings in my head every time I walk down the streets in the City of sin.
“You gotta pay Frank you gotta Pay,” said Cole Younger, played by David Carradine, to Frank James as he sat on a train bound for the James Gang’s destined and fatal 1876 showdown in Northfield Minnesota. (cinema : The Long Riders 1980)
Younger had reportedly told Frank James he planned to write a book about his adventures as a gentleman and a lover and Frank replied he expected a free copy. Younger retorted “You gotta pay Frank…you gotta pay,” _ in classic old western foreshadowing.
That is something a man riding a cab on the way to a Sin City casino should have considered a when he realized he doesn’t want to or can’t pay the cabbie who delivered him to a local hotel/casino. He launched himself at the cabbie who apparently had some training in martial arts and pounded the poor unfortunate dead beat for several long seconds before casino security was able to break the fight up.
What does that mean ? Stay tuned
When I was younger I worked at the Mirage and Treasure Island. There was a man who played millions in Vegas casinos throughout the city. If the casino heard his plane was landing at a Vegas airport they would open up their high limit room and post a guard there just in case he decided to show up there and play. He ended up owing something like $60 million in debts to the various houses in Vegas and many more in taxes to the government. He went to prison and the Sin City gambling houses he owed money too went after all they could get and were more than happy to cooperate with the feds……. What does that mean ? stayed tuned ?
When I worked at the dearly departed Riviera one customer who was on a losing streak with a straight face he told me that he had played nearly $50 and had not won even once and was demanding his money back…..Seriously ….He wanted his money back….What does that mean…..and what is the Sin City mantra ….Simple ..You gotta pay Sinners …You gotta pay and their aint no refund
That is life in the City of Sin
Every action has some kind of consequence
Love You Sinners
A cityscape from three years ago Royal Hopper
This is Vancouver Canada
Drama is in the eye of the beholder
by Royal Hopper
You stop at a red light on the way to work and sea an urban drama unfolding out of the corner of your eye.
Two men approach an intersection from opposite directions…..One looks as the saying goe like he was rode hard and put up wet. Older, little to fond of pastries and utterly unconcerned about his mode of dress _ a large tent like t shirt and a pair of faded dirty jeans.
Eagles in a tree in Alaska _ Royal Hopper
The other painfully well groomed, young carrying a skate board and looking like a jackass as he displays utterly average skate boarding skills to commutters passing by as cluesless as the other is world weary as deliberately clueless as the other is street wise and worn out.
They near the same intersection out of the way of traffic each other the only obstalce to the other.
The one is young and fresh and has an object that can be used as a weapon if need be. The other is much larger and honestly probably wouldn’t feel the first two or three blows. It seems conflict is inevitable .. In smaller more confined areas of this country conflict would be inevitable when two so evenly matched denizens meet out of sight of any order keepers or immediate consequences…… It is the way of things to tight confines of the smaller parts of this country …
This is the City of Sin on a summer’s night _ Royal Hopper
and there are a lot of both kinds of people in this city the flash and dust……the pretty people who look like a magazine and smell like a rain forest by design and a good credit card nd the beaten down, drab worn out world weary type. They are two of the primary archetypes in this city and are everywhere you look……
Grunge of the soul versus flash and glitter of the spirit……
You look up at the traffic light wondering if you will get to see the drama unfold before the light forces you to move on. You know its wrong to want to see it but the train wreck effect is in full force and you cant help but strain to see what will happen before the light forces you to move on.
They get closer and you lean forward in the seat wondering who will triumph size and pain or youth and energy. The tension in your mind builds as the light at the pedestrian crosswalk changes before the traffic light and the two prepare meet in the middle of the crosswalk.
You take a deep breath in anticipation of the coming conflict your eyes widen and your pulse quickens and then ——–
That is a boat with five people in it next to one of the small pieces of ice that was floating near the iceberg we saw _ Royal Hopper
you giggle ..The skateboarder put his board down and glides across the intersection and the bigger grungie guy barely notices him as he glides by. The conflict was all in you ..you realize as the traffic light changes and you go on your way like a good little commuter.
This city is a dangerous place and will take your life if you let it and don’t step wisely but your conflicts of society and culture don’t mean that much to us … Sinner You leave me be and I will leave you be because that is life in the City of Sin
Love You Sinners
now here are some birds
Lets talk of two places
By Royal Hopper
In one place you enter a room at the end of a hallway to conduct your business the first thing you notice is the shiny white marble _ so clean and so polished to an unnatural sheen that it looks fake. It is kind of like all the neon beach scenes, volcanoes, abstract art shows ..French gardens and 30 story buildings that make up the City of Sin…
You notice is the overpowering scent of lilacs that smells like a fresh clean spring day. Every Hotel and casino in Las Vegas has its own smell, coconut, jasmine, orange blossom. It covers up the smell of cigarette smoke, flop sweat gallons of alcohol and heat seared flesh.
Thar’ she blows _ Royal Hopper
In another place you are cruising along looking for whales and you spy three fat, hairy males lounging on a brightly colored object in the middle of your path. The air smells like the salty sea and freshness of snow melt and the sugar covered almonds the locals were selling before trip. Underneath that you smell dead fish, live fish, large animals passing gas and the remains of the the group leaders lunch.
Last week my wife and I started the day at McCarren airport in the City of Sin and an hour and a half later give or take landed in Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada and got on a ship bound for Alaska. For a week I was the tourist everyone catered too. I was the one finding adventure in things the locals found was ordinary and I was the one asking annoying questions of people who would calmly smile and act like I was the cleverest person on the planet. It was fun. I will talk more about my wonderful vacay later but for today’s point lets compare two situations where a shiny beautiful exterior covers up a smelly fact often overlooked. For whatever reason I remember walking into a bathroom somewhere in the city of sin that was attractive by any standards.
In the first place this beautiful room music plays on a public address system millions of dollars in the making just like in every casino on the Sin City Strip.
In this beautiful room the musak plays classic songs of days gone by and uplifting ballads and rebellious anthems of courage and love. Frank Sinatra, classic Rock, The Ramones and the Parrot Head ballad Cheese Burger in Paradise It is clean beyond the standard of clean artful and shiny like a new polished penny. That is the first thing you notice.
Then another smell, one overwhelming as it is subtle, filters into your nose penetrating the polished marble and lilac air freshener like an armor piercing bullet plowing its way through a foot of artistic tissue paper.
The smell very nearly knocks you down as you approach the object of your journey ..a porcelain urine receptacle in one corner of the highly polished lilac scented room ….It is a casino bathroom you have walked into and he smell is the remains of a 100 dinners processed in 100 large intestines and chased down with liquor and over priced hotdogs…..
In Alaska the excursion boat captain pulls up to a buoy where three seal lions are sitting. They are used to people and barely notice these people snapping pictures furiously and waving at them and speaking to them in three or four languages as if they could understand them. The captains name is Larry of all things and he looks like an extra in a Pirates of the Caribbean movie spurting out facts about whales and seals in between smokers coughs including how many babies his favorite whale has had. The captain waits for the passengers to snap pictures of the sleeping sea lions and then heads out to look for whales for people to take pics of.
In the bathroom you think about turning aronud of walking back to someplace that smells better to complete your business but there is urgency in your mission so you forge ahead to one of the porcelain receptacles and pause to do your business….
In Alaska after catching several glimpses of whale backs and butts the whale finally decides to dive deep and exposes her tail and the captain explains what they call the whale, how many babies she has had and about how old the giant marine mammal is and why they eat so much in Alaska and not in Hawaii – go figure …
No more about the magical room. It is after all just a bathroom in a casino and not an art gallery.
Now think for a minute if there was no magical room with polished marble and lilac scented air freshner and themed music playing over a computer assisted loud public adress. If there were no Vegas, no City of Sin for the Sinful to vent their desires…..Imagine where all that crap would end up if there were no place like that to vent it…
Now imagine if there were no place for the Capt, Larry’s of the world to live and work if there were no place the whale went to pork out before their sojurn to warmer waters ….Imagine if there were no cruises for adventerous older couples to bore you about …. You’d have to listen to them all the time..
Thts life in the City of Sin and I Alaska
Love you Sinners
This is just a chick talking on her cell while walking across the street _ Photo by Royal Hopper
You have to respect people who know who they are
By Royal Hopper
You see a woman walking down a hallway late at night. She is glistening with sweat, dressed in mesh walking with a wide legged swagger exhausted but defiant she struts.
She sees you watching looks at your badge pushes her breasts up and knowing people are watching strolls toward the door with a mixture of pride and defiance _ and the honesty that comes from being found out and not caring.
There is a certain honestly about this city _ a strange twisted honesty where everybody is lying and everybody knows it ..and everybody even the honest ones are out to get your money. At the same time people here are who they are and they don’t usually hide it. The motto of this city should be a giant middle finger dressed in a tuxedo ….
She turns toward the door the hint of a defiant smile on the corner of her (or his who can tell these days) lips and strolls toward the door not bothering with words or gestures. The smiles fades in a world weary sigh as she nears the door and she stops at the door for a second gathers her strength and strides out the heavy brass bordered glass doors and into the unforgiving arms of the City of Sin…..
You may not like what she does or the person who manages her endeavors but at least the pretense is managed. Vegas is full of fakers, artists and malcontents. It is the City that perfected the art of the spin, the art of BS and the art of not being artful. What follows is a poem about such people inspired by 17 years off and on in the City of Sin and a marathon of Goth fan videos on You Tube
The Lady of Sin Walks the Walks
by Royal Hopper
She might be teacher or sailor or a waitress or a cook
The thing she holds might be bell a candle or a book
She might be proud or poor she turns gives you a look
Your not exactly a cop and shes not exactly a crook
you both know the game you know what takes and what it took
yes she could be a mother a daughter a friend and all that but
the thing she holds is cash ..from the nights endeavors ..her cut
Shes not a witch, or a waitress shes, a Ho a dancer or a slut (sorry you know its true)
You turn toward elevator to continue your rounds she turns toward the door smelling of gin
In the morning you will head home from work and she will return to do it again
In this place its as much about where you are going as where you have been
It is the same as always ..another night in this city. The City of Sin
Love You Sinners
a purebred or a mutt
Need lodging for your pets while you visit a National Park. Then this is the place for you _ Royal Hopper
The Road to Zion
by Royal Hopper
Nothing will make you realize how normal the weird city you live in is like going someplace that is logically the complete opposite. That is supposed to be quiet and sane and have lots of free parking. (Please see the poem beneath)
I mean what could be more opposite Las Vegas than a Canyon of pristine beauty known for its awe inspiring vistas and and endless endless wild perfection and named Zion.
We left the City of Sin _ our city driving past a couple of hookers, two sign holders asking for money a stray cat stealing food, a traffic jam and signs advertising 2 for 1 drinks, food and gambling and $35 rooms for the asking and drove out into the desert. Well actually we stopped at Mesquite Nevada and stayed there for a day. My wife won $400 playing video keno and I had the best fried chicken I have eaten since leaving the south. We love this City but needed a break ..man we needed a break…
My family has been going to Zion National Park for the better part of 20 years.. At one time the call of the natural beauty was so powerful we thought of moving to the area just to be near it but couldn’t swing a decent enough job to do it.
Our hopes rose as we approached the green and brown mosaic of mountains that surrounds the confines of Zion National Park . This was one of our favorite places and we felt sure it would be an uplifting experience as it always had been.
Then the reality of traffic jams and paid parking hit us like a ton of city dwelling bricks. Outside our favorite location of natural beauty it was crowded with cars and people. The small town we drove through to get through to it was dotted with themed restaurants and trendy shops….There were authority figures everywhere you turned and people were annoyed..Still it was beautiful and it was worth it…. Time, tourism and the lure of money had done what it always does stolen some of the innocence and freedom of our favorite things.
Then there were no parking spaces and we ended up paying 20 Bucks to park our dowdy square and gray but perky and capable SUV… We could no longer drive to the scenic overviews we had to park. There lines for food for overpriced souvenirs and you paid $80 for three t shirts and it was crowded with tourists from all over the world.
Zion National Park is nothing like Las Vegas except for the millions of tourist and paid parking and traffic jams and rules designed the make you buy their stuff ….and the people angry because they couldn’t find a parking spot …..
Is Zion National Park like the City of Sin now.. No of course not don’t be silly. It is still beautiful but it has lost some of its innocence…..
Over the Interstate and thru the desert to Zion we go
By Royal Hopper
We get in the car to go to the woods and see our favorite place
The mountains, the deer , fresh air and space and space and space
On the way we see a spolied dove standing on the road side
Two scruffs fighting for the best place to beg and the best way to hide
A man with a sign dressed a woman, a woman with a smile dressed like a Bunny
The sign said family attacked by ninjas please give me some money
No place to park everyone is pissed, drinking and drank and guzzling and drunk
People happy when they shouldnt be and some rich, poor amd other in a deep deep funk
We say goodbye to our city and as we drove out we spied a sign that said 2 for 1
then saw some grafitti that said call this number for fun and fun and fun
The city is exiting and loud but will drive you mad and sometimes you have to get away
you have to get away for a week, a week end ,,to drive away for at least a day
We finally get there to our favorite isolated spot in nature as our butts are starting to bark
and to our surprise the little town that bordered our spot was crowded with no place to park
Inside the gate the there was no place to stop where we had previously stayed
not only was parking sparse some of it was paid
After wearing ourselves out for a walk around the falls we headed home to our city
nearing to edge of the borders again we saw another sign that said please take pity
We saw another girl standing on the corner like she was for rent an
man lying on the road who looked totally spent
No place to park and and everyone angry driving like hacks
Its the City of Sin and now we are back
Its not a fairy tale or a burp in the wind
Its a day in the wilderness and life in the City of Sin
Love you Sinners
Shots of the City if Sin + Royal Hopper
Downtown Las Vegas – Royal Hopper
Regret is like a cat crossing the street
by Royal Hopper
You see a fat fluffy house cat standing by the side of a road. Three times it sniffs the air sticks a foot onto the dirty asphalt and three times just a quickly withdraws it. He trots a few feet onto the road then turns around and goes back to the safety of his sidewalk. A few minutes later he trots halfway onto the dirty wind blown desert road before mewling loudly in surprise and turning around to run back where he came from narrowly missed by a commuter in an early model Detroit built beast _ its driver undoubtedly late for work. You can sometimes discover very important things from the simplest observations.
A corner confrontation _ Royal Hopper
Finally its strides nearly all the way across the street nearly touching the other side before a sudden noise frightens it into running back across the street to the spot he began his adventure in crossing the road. The cat frustrated by his own regrets and caution turns around and leaves the pile of discarded nachos that were like the object of his adventure lying on the opposite sidewalk to be feasted on by the gathering flock of starlings and crows.
You can also see the opposite occur. I remember seeing a group of young men walking down the street asking people if they had seen their wallets. I had the windows down that day and it was just luck that I overheard this conversation. Apparently they had all been rufied and robbed and only remembered because they had been told. Later that same week I happened to see the same men dressed in the same clothes coming out of the same bar with the same rejected look. I remember a man with a no regrets attitude and tattoo lying unconscious waiting for paramedics to revive him. He was a bull of a man whose demeanor implied he lived his life without regrets. I don’t know if he made it.
The same cat or person who will allow themselves to be overwhelmed by regret will also sometimes run across the road a dozen times for want of patience or nearby crosswalk dodging cars and the grim reaper by a few feet as they make there way across the intersection.
Now and then you will hear on the news about one being hit by a car or a bus and wonder if they had had some regrets about nearly being killed to save five minutes on an afternoon walk ..maybe they would have walked to the cross walk and crossed with the light. Maybe those young men would have tried a different bar or different clothes or both or maybe the man waiting for his life to be saved by others would have laid off the narcs.
A life without regret is a sad Fn thing… It means you are either too clueless to understand you made a mistake and lean from it or never had the heart to try something risky something you were not sure of…
The trick is not to purge your regrets or simply not to have any but to learn from them. As long as you grow as a person and don’t struggle be the same idiot that caused those regrets in the first place out of habit or fear. _ and to not let them hold you back when you are in sight of the prize on the other side of the road.
I am a cautious person by nature ..sometimes to my own detriment or to the point of annoying people but there are times I can proudly say I have leaped into uncertainty because it was necessary to change my life ……I have regrets to be sure but I also have stories tell and lessons that have been learned.
That is what life in the City of Sin teaches you..take stock of your regrets don’t ignore them them _ acknowledge them learn from them and move on.
Love You Sinner
Just There until they are not
by Royal Hopper
There is a guy who stands alone on the side of an isolated Vegas road where factory workers driving pick ups with shotguns racks in the cab enter their work place and asks for money.
The man stands unmoving at times as those who know him pass by without missing a beat. He has become almost part of the landscape _ some thing people expect to see.
The man wears a beard that looks almost fake it is so caked with sweat, dust, and oil. A pair of straight cut jeans hangs on his skinny legs almost painfully as if the pants themselves would jump off and run away if they could.
A straight cut brown jacket that reaches past his waist and looks like it came right out of a JC Pennies catalog in 1975 . He looks out of time like he has literally been standing there for 40 plus years and somehow forgot to leave his isolated little street corner.
Another man one with some money sits quietly in a corner lost in some memory until you talk to him. It turns out he has come to the City of Sin for more than 40-years. Everyone he know is gone so he just does his thing has lunch, plays his slots and mostly sits in a spot where no one notice shim and watches a world he no longer understands.
Another time I caught a woman a stranger staring at me. I asked her politle with my bet customer service smile if I could help her. She said politely no. Go ahead and do what you were doing and then she proceded to tell me everything I had done at work for six hours. I instantly felt like a dweeb because I hadnt noticed her watching me not even once..She was not loud or dangerous or needy enough I guess.
That is the thing in this city in most cities of any size. The whole city is large and bright _impossible to ignore. The images jump out of background and into your eye sight unbidden and unequaled. Huge neon signs 40 feet tall, video dancing girls doing burlesque on Main Street at lunch time from three blocks away and fake volcanoes blowing their tops for all to see. Out front there are pretend Elvi, Power Rangers, superheroes and fake pop stars dressed in bright yellows, reds and golds and silvers.
Then there are the people who are there but not there like Mr. Beard. They become part of the landscape until they ask you for money or you just in a giving mood give them some. They like the rocks and the neon and the hot dry dead desert air are just there _ until they aren’t any more…..
When I worked at the poor doomed Riviera there was this homeless guy who looked like he had just walked out of some science fiction death camp on the moon. He looked like a freaking zombie _ man for real. He was there every day in the background having learned to avoid the security guards like me . You barely noticed him unless he was causing trouble which was seldom because he was just to weak and sickly. The one day he wasn’t there. I still wonder what happened to the dude…..
Did he get help? Was it finally his time one day? After abusing his body for so many years did it finally give up or did he just fade away like most parts of the landscape whose time had come much like the poor old Riv herself….
Its not fairly tale or a disaster movie..Its life in he City of Sin….
Love you Sinners
Another cool desert Flower _ Royal Hopper