How Las Vegas Changed My Life

 

That’s a lie.  The actual title of this blog is: Las Vegas— Heaven for Reducers, Hell for Augmenters. And what really changed my life was

LV Heaven. . . the James Turrell installation in the glamorous Aria Hotel.

LV Heaven. . . the James Turrell installation in the glamorous Aria Hotel.

learning about the Augmenter-Reducer Index in the 60’s. Although I would like to know what happened to the dirty, dangerous, forbidden fun place, the Las Vegas I remember from childhood when my uncle Irl was  a dealer at The Frontier?

Back to the Index. Doesn’t sound too interesting— but it  changed my life when I discovered where I fit on this fascinating scale and learned why I was so often overloaded with input. . . turn down the damn music!

You know if you’re on the other end of the scale when you feel you’re never getting enough. . . of whatever.

I heard about the index at Esalen, the retreat center south of San Francisco where the human potential movement was born. I don’t remember the name of the psychologist who wrote extensively about the index, doesn’t turn up when I Google it, but I’ll give you a nickel version and you’ll know why you love Las Vegas, or find it to be one of the circles of HELL.

Me freaking out in the casino at the Cosmopolitan, where we stayed.

Me freaking out in the casino at the Cosmopolitan, where we stayed.

The bottom line: reducers consistently reduce sensory input, augmenters consistently augment sensory input.

A simple example. Hand an extreme reducer a one pound weight, wait two minutes then hand the (blind-folded) reducer the weight again and he or she will report that the second weight is only half as heavy as the first one.

Exactly the opposite is true of an extreme augmenter. The second weight will feel twice as heavy. This scale cuts across all sensory information. Pain. Music. Wind in your face.

It’s also true that few of us are extreme on either side; we mostly fall somewhere around the middle on each, towards augmenting or reducing. Also interesting is that most women a day or two before their periods flip to the other side of the scale from their normal position. What was too much a day before is not enough now or what was not enough is too much. No wonder we get cranky.

The James Bondish lobby of the Cosmopolitan Hotel. where Henry and  chef Frank Leake are attending the American Federation National Convention.

The James Bondish lobby of the Cosmopolitan Hotel. where Henry and chef Frank Leake are attending the American Culinary Federation National Convention.

After 24 hours in Las Vegas  I knew if I had to walk though the casino area of even the most glamorous hotel again— The Bellagio, Caesar’s Palace, Aria— I would start screaming. Natch, I’m a moderately extreme augmenter. Of course I am. A psychic’s work requires a high level of sensitivity.

A solution, however, is close at hand. If you consume one ounce of alcohol you flip on the scale— no wonder so many psychics are drunks.

Henry and me in the limo having too much fun!

Henry and me in the limo having too much fun!

Back to Las Vegas: in deep caverns beneath Caesar’s Palace is a full-size replica of Michelangelo’s David, and a slightly less than life-size Trevi Fountain, with a surprisingly good cafe surrounding it.

April and I are waaaay underground even though the fake sky is blue above us. . . good chow, though.

April and I are waaaay underground even though the fake sky is blue above us. . . good chow, though.

 

The domed ceiling, high above, magically changes from dawn to full day, to dusk, and back around. Extremely elegant shops— Cartier, Louboutin, Balenciaga, Ferragamo, Valentino, line what appear to be illuminated Roman facades.

Hordes of people with small kids and strollers pack the thoroughfares, along with bevies of scantily clad teens in perilously platformed heels.

I am bewildered. These fabulous  shops are empty. When we stumble into DKNY, the salesperson falls on us like rare prey. None of the hordes enter any of these stores. It occurs to me that no one who seriously shops at Cartier or Balenciaga would be found dead in this fantastic pretend world.

So what’s up with this? Many of the vast stretches of payment are marble; there are charming copies of exquisite Roman floor mosaics, vast stretch of cobblestones, not hokey pretend cobblestones, but the real stuff.

Is this a safe version of the real world? Everyone knows about the purse snatchers who snag your handbag with your passport and ticket home in it from their vespas and scream away on the perilous streets of Rome. Is that it?

(I know that I used “perilous” above, but I wonder if the perilous shoes are more or less perilous than the streets in Rome?)

Our last night and we are dining at the wonderfully retro, rowdy Casa di Amore, far from the LV strip, an old Italian mafia hang-out.

We LOVE the Casa di Amore!

We LOVE the Casa di Amore!

The good, old Las Vegas. . . sigh. . . .

The good, old Las Vegas. . . sigh. . . .

 

We are so festive. . . already consumed a bottle of proseco. . . April and Yashi are beneath the pic of the boys. . .

We are so festive. . . already consumed a bottle of proseco. . . April and Yashi are beneath the pic of the bad boys.

Above April and Yashi is a big poster of Frank, Dean, and Peter Lawford strolling down The Strip. And they are having FUN! They were all raised as good Catholic boys, weren’t they? Now here they are smoking cigars and drinking and gambling and they are having dirty, dangerous, forbidden fun, not safe, carefully restored pretend fun.

That’s my idea of Las Vegas. A place of forbidden fun. I imagine that if I had a glass of champagne for breakfast, magically transforming me from an augmenter to a reducer, I could get into that. Later on, if I started to revert, I could have another glass of champagne!

Picture Gallery: Our trip to Las Vegas!

The view of the really quite gorgeous fountains of the Bellagio Hotel from our 57th floor room.

The view of the   gorgeous fountains of the Bellagio Hotel from our 57th floor room next door.

 

Now we're sitting at a terrace at the Bellagio watching the fountains! Our three drinks (one martini, one wine spritzer, one soft drink and a tiny appetizer) cost $75! Worth it for the close up on the fab water show!

We’re sitting at an intimate terrace  overlooking the Bellagio  fountains. Our three drinks (one martini, one wine spritzer, one soft drink and a small appetizer) cost $75. Worth it for the close up of the fab water show! We were told the terrace was closed, but April finessed an entry. What a good girl.

Are these mafioso planning a hit at the Casa di Amore?

Are these mafioso planning a hit at the Casa di Amore?

Yashi about to SCORE at volleyball.

Yashi about to SCORE at volleyball.

 

Chef Henry, behind him the exquisite entry prepared by team Hawaii from  KCC.

Chef Henry, behind him the exquisite entry prepared by team Hawaii from KCC.

Au revoir Las Vegas!

Au revoir Las Vegas! (I will probably never come here again, although I might go back to see the Turrell installation, and maybe to eat some of the pastry at the Starbuck’s in the Aria—no kidding, it’s like Starbuck’s in heaven— see below. I think the pastry was done by the brilliant pastry chef at the hotel.)

The surprisingly chic Starbucks at the Aria Hotel.

The surprisingly chic Starbucks at the Aria Hotel.

 

The equally fabulous pastry. Starbucks in heaven.

The equally fabulous pastry. Starbucks in heaven.

Turrell illuminates the tram stop at the Aria.

Turrell illuminates the tram stop at the Aria.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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One Response to How Las Vegas Changed My Life

  1. Re Rishi etc. Very wqelll spun.

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