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

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

How I Became a Native
WILLIAM N. THOMPSON

1980: My little girl said casually: “Did Mom tell you about Kristen?” I said, “No. ” “Well, ” she said, “You know, I kinda asked Kristen if she was going to Lisa's Halloween party. When she said, 'No,' I asked her if she had been invited. She said she had been. Then she said, 'I really can't go to parties, because, well, I shouldn't talk about it, but I have like a housekeeper who brings me to school and picks me up. He really isn't a housekeeper. He is a bodyguard. There are some bad people who told my Dad that they are going to get us.'” Kristen's father was the president of a leading casino in Las Vegas.

A couple of years earlier, sucha conversation withmy daughter would have sent chills up and down my spine. But then I was just another innocent midwesterner, new to Glitter Gulch and the Strip, a neophyte to the tinseltown known as Las Vegas. I have settled in, however. I have a Nevada driver's license, I am registered to vote, and I have had my call for jury duty. I am a native.

As soon as I got my job teaching at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, I started reading about my new hometown. I hungered for and absorbed the likes of The Green Felt Jungle, The Last Mafioso, Easy Street, The House of Cards, The Girls of Nevada, Hunter Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hank Greenspun's Where I Stand, and Ralph Pearl's Las Vegas Is My Beat. I read all the local tourist guides, and I ran to get the paper each morning. I had an insatiable need to know, to learn. The books painted the picture of a quaint desert railroad

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