The Real Las Vegas: Life beyond the Strip

By David Littlejohn; Eric Gran | Go to book overview

Down and Out in Vegas

Malcolm Garcia

I follow Alan to the park. We emerge from the soup kitchen and cross the parking lot to the corner of Owens Avenue and Main Street. The afternoon glare of the Las Vegas sun hurts my eyes, and the dry air constricts my throat. Alan squints at the ground, stopping from time to time to inspect sudden flashes of light. Loose change or an aluminum-foil gum wrapper? He carries a plastic shopping bag steaming with wet clothes. We wade through sheaths of heat in what was once a shopping mall but now resembles a reservation for outcasts.

Weary-looking men and women trudge past us, accompanied by their children wedged into overstuffed shopping carts. Plastic trash bags filled with donated pastry turning green inside cellophane wrappers molder under the hot sun. Arms and legs stick out the windows of parked cars, the temporary refuge of the unemployed.

Lines of heat shimmer above the slumped bodies at rest beneath the one sign identifying this outpost: "St. Vincent's Plaza. Catholic Charities." Alan and I pause in the narrow shadow provided by the sign before we continue toward the intersection. The four corners, he calls this place: the nonprofit Strip of Las Vegas.

Most of the city's homeless services stretch around this barren township, and Alan and I join the estimated eighteen thousand homeless Las Vegans who eventually gravitate to this desolate spot. The Salvation Army

-41-

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The Real Las Vegas: Life beyond the Strip
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction - The Ultimate Company Town 1
  • Down and Out in Vegas 41
  • Bingo 63
  • Growing Up in Las Vegas 75
  • El Pueblo De Las Vegas 97
  • A View from West Las Vegas 109
  • Water for the Desert Miracle 133
  • For Sale - Thirty Thousand Homes a Year 147
  • Houses of the Holy 167
  • Organizing Las Vegas 181
  • Pawnshops - Lenders of Last Resort 201
  • Skin City 217
  • Law and Disorder Heather World 243
  • Why They'Re Mad - Southern Nevada Versus the United States 259
  • Epilogue - Learning More from Las Vegas 281
  • List of Illustrations 291
  • Notes on Contributors 293
  • Index 297
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