The Grit beneath the Glitter: Tales from the Real Las Vegas

By Hal K. Rothman; Mike Davis | Go to book overview

Who Puts the “Sin”
in “Sin City” Stories?

Girls of Grit and Glitter
in the City of Women
KATHRYN HAUSBECK

Those who fail to reread are doomed to read the same story everywhere.

Roland Barthes, S/Z

The Universe isn't made of atoms, it's made of stories.

Cafe´ bathroom graffiti


INTRODUCTION: THE PARADOX

Las Vegas is a city of stories. Stories of a lush green valley in the desert with little more than a ranch and a railroad stop that was turned into the world's most notorious twentieth-century city; celebrity stories about Bugsy Siegel, Frank Sinatra, and Elvis; origin stories about the birth of a neon resort dreamland from the vice-ridden loins of the mob; stories of decadence, delirious riches, and debt; fantasy stories of love, lust, and loss; old stories about money, sex, power, and artifice, all are intimately interconnected with new stories of families, suburban growth, Little League sports, churches, and tradition building. All of these and countless other tales are woven together to form the delicate fabric of a community. Las Vegas is a culture full of exuberant and exhausted tourists, visionary creators building fame from the gritty sandbox of the Mojave Desert, and immigrants, who settle here at the astounding rate of 6,000 per month in search of a new script for the story of their lives.

Las Vegas is the classic tourist town with a twist: namely, there is little that is classic about it. Neither city nor country, it is all simulation

-335-

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