Magazine article The Spectator

James Delingpole: Fear and Libertarianism in Las Vegas

Magazine article The Spectator

James Delingpole: Fear and Libertarianism in Las Vegas

Article excerpt

Great God, Vegas is an awful place. I realised this the moment I arrived. My cab driver -- who'd been perfectly agreeable en route from the airport -- mistook my post-flight sluggishness for reluctance to give him a tip, and drove off angrily cursing me as I fumbled in my pockets. The line just for the check-in desk was about a mile long. Everyone was fat and drunk and dressed for the beach. Outside it was too hot: 105°F at 5 p.m. Inside, it was too cold from the relentless air-conditioning. Everywhere had the style and charm and tastefulness of Redditch. By day three I'd had enough.

'Don't stay in Vegas more than three days,' people had warned me. And people were right. It's more than enough. Four days would definitely drive you mad. Five days just wouldn't happen: no one would be that stupid. So that's what I thought as I asked the company travel operator to rebook my flight. I checked with my boss at Breitbart if it would be OK to leave early. 'Of course,' said Larry. 'You need time with your family.'

But then something terrible happened. I think probably drugs were to blame. They usually are in Vegas stories. It only occurred to me subsequently how much cultish literature and how many weird movies there are about people getting to Vegas, getting trapped in Vegas, or leaving Vegas and coming down hard. The reason for this is quite simple: you can only survive Vegas if you learn to love it -- and to do that you must first sell it your soul.

It's OK, though. Vegas is a very obliging buyer. In return it'll satisfy whatever vice to which you are prey. For some people it's women. For others, obviously, it's gambling. But it knew exactly what I wanted and it dangled it in front of me just as I was about to leave. 'There are these people we should go hang with,' said a friend. 'They might have some weed.'

And they did have some weed too. It had a wonderful silvery sheen. There was far too much of it: way, way more than any of us could smoke while we were there. Something had to be done, and fast. So we started making inroads on this veritable rain-forest of extremely pungent, 'medical grade' Nevada smoke. My inroad consisted of one puff, because I remembered how wasted I'd got the last time I tried this in America. Even that was almost too much. I was baked.

So baked that at one stage I decided that all I really wanted to do was travel up and down in the lift listening to the pumping dance music. (Nowhere in Vegas can you escape pumping dance music: not by the pool, not at breakfast, certainly not in the whore bars and at the gaming tables.) It was like a miniature nightclub, with all sorts of interesting, weird people constantly coming in and out. …

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