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105/365 – 5 Ways Vegas Makes You Spend, Spend, Spend.

I just spent my first 24 hours in Las Vegas and let me tell you, this place is like one long eye rape.  To add insult to injury, Vegas also asks your ears on a date for good measure.  There’s so much visual and auditory stimulation that your mind is on constant overload.  From the constant barrage of neon to every 15 feet being offered business cards for hookers, Vegas is one of a kind.  Truly.  Lush is not a word I would use to describe this place.  Ostentatious, loud and crazy are probably three good substitutions.  Also, romantic isn’t a word I would use.  Megan and I have had a good time, but this place isn’t about have her swept off her feet anytime soon.  We’s have to get the cigarette smell off her body before I could even touch her to sweep her off her feet – and there’s just too much cigarettes in this town to do that successfully . . .

Harrah's is building a new prison themed casino so that cigarettes double as chips!

Don’t get me wrong.  I really like the place.  It’s definitely a circus of observation – people watching is a sport here.  People say New York is the city that never sleeps — I beg to differ.  This place is built to never shut down.  I’ve been in Times Square at 5am when it looks like a ghost town.  Las Vegas seems to have a never ending flow of people – like there’s a factor off the strip just pushing them out.  Their most popular model has to be the overweight Texan using their disability check to make it big.

Harrah's even has a shrine to these Vegas gods.

Everyone knows that Las Vegas is designed all around the all mighty dollar.  And that’s where the romance factor just doesn’t fit in.  Megan and I are poor.  We don’t make much money and it’s hard buying anything that isn’t essential without feeling guilty.  Evertime I pick up my comics I feel a pang of guilt – it may be my protein shakes – who knows.  Anyway, It’s not easy, either, when I find out the day I’m leaving that my semester tuition is twice what I thought it would be, bringing my student loan debt to 6 digits.  That, and the fact that my Los Angeles trip is becoming more of a burden than a blessing right now.  If we had more disposable income, Vegas would be a nice little playground.  As of now, it’s a reminder of how poor we really are.  Viva Las Vegas indeed . . . assholes.

There’s so many built in ways to get you to spend money in Vegas it’s almost comical.  We all know that the casinos are built without windows or clocks so you never know what time it is.  We all know the carpet in those casinos are ugly mish-mashes designs of color that force you to keep your eyes up so that you can see all there is to spend your money on.  Having been here only a day, I’ve noticed a few other ways the architects of Sin City have found to make you spend money.  Things that I wouldn’t have known had I not stayed at the luxurious Harrah’s Casino and Hotel.

So, in no particular order, I give you 5 more ways Vegas gets you to spend money.

1) Stay Flabby, My Friend.  Stay Flabby.

Everyone knows that the only people that play slots are healthy, good looking people - so why have a hotel gym at all?

I really wanted to run the treadmill in the gym this morning.  Get my endorphins running and take care of all the beer I drank the night before.  Our friend, Matt Sanchez, found out soon enough that unless we wanted to brave the crowds on the strip, running was not on the agenda.  Harrah’s charges you 25 bucks a day to use their gym.  When Matt found this out, he turned to leave when the attendant said, “But we have a sauna and a steam room.”  WOW!  Thanks Harah’s.  For the price of my monthly gym membership to 24 Hour Fitness, I can sit in a sauna.  Screw that, I can sit on my hotel toilet and turn the shower on high heat accomplishing the same effect.

See, it’s not the 25 dollar admission fee to the gym that gets you, its the psychological function that fee plays into you spending more money.  The hotel probably agrees with me – 25 bucks to use the gym is outrageous.  No one in their right mind would pay that unless they were rolling in it.  The casino is counting on you thinking like that.  You quickly find out that Vegas wants to maximize your time in their casinos.  So, if you spend an hour in the gym, that’s an hour you’re not spending hundreds of dollars in their casino.

Which, is the only thing on this list I truely disagree with.  If you can get your guests to work out, their endporhins rise and they feel this sense of happiness.  Even – dare I say – confindence.  That would make me even more ready to throw down my hard earned money on a blackjack table.  But, who am I to put down my opinion – deffinately not someone with loads of creepy research behind him.

2) Your Free Drink Will Be Here When You’ve Lost All Your Money, Sir.

A martini? Sure . . . just so you know, our bartender tonight only has one hand and is partially blind and doesn't speak English and isn't a bartender. But we'll have that drink to you right away.

The one thing I was excited to do was sit at a Pai Gow table (A card game where you can spend little money and stay at the table for a long time.) and get free drinks.  I just wanted to gamble for a few hours on a less risky table and get drunk.  Everyone tells you, when you gamble, the drinks are free.  I can tell you, this is true . . . to a degree.  At one point, I decided to try my hand at this massive Dark Knight Slot Machine.  These huge video multi-line slot machines, by the way, are some of the most confusing games man has ever produced.  You blindly trust the machine is working but you don’t know.  Anyway, I was instantly offered a drink by a scantily clad waitress.  Sweet!  A vodka tonic, Batman gambling, a slim chance to make some money – what more could a boy ask for?

Seriously, this machine is just asking me to feed it coins. Stupid slut.

What I realized that after 10 minutes I was done 8 minutes ago.  It took my money and I was done being ripped off.  BUT, I had to wait there for the waitress to bring me my free drink.  And anything free in Vegas sounds great, but comes with a price . . . If I had to wait, I might as well keep playing till my drink comes.  That’s where they get you.  Sure, you get a free drink, but in the time it takes to get it, you keep playing a game that you already realized was created to strip you of money and dignity.  Boy, hope that well vodka was worth it!

3) Elevator Bank Is Here . . . Through the MIllion Blinking Lights.

2001 wasn't a space film . . . its was a bout a drunk man trying to find his way to his hotel room in Vegas.

I realized something a while ago about retail shopping.  Specifically clothing shopping.  Women’s departments are on the ground floor for a reason.  See, Women shop more than men (no, I don’t have a statistic, but come on . . .).  So, 1) its better to have them see everything for them right away, or else they may not purchase anything.  The other reason is that women are more likely than men to shop for the opposite sex.  Especially clothing.  Really, guys, when was the last time you bought a dress for your girlfriend or wife?  So, if you put the men’s clothing on the second floor, the women have to walk through more of their own department to get to the mens, forcing them to see more things they might want to buy.

The same goes for Vegas casino/hotels.  Once you have checked in at the front desk, more often than not, you will have to walk through that forrest of depravity, desperation, false hopes and broken dreams called the casino floor.  Walking past row after row of slot machines and poker tables only to get to your elevator is a attempt to tempt you into trying just one machine.  Every time you come back or are leaving your hotel room, you HAVE to go through the gauntlet.  And while, for me, this was easy, I can see that for some addicted mongrels, the poor saps, this could get them every time.  While I can not say that my elevator bank was RIGHT off the front desk, the more hotels I went through in Vegas, the more it became apparent that wasn’t the case for the majority of visitors.  From The Bellagio, to The Venetian, to New York New York – finding many of the elevator banks rquires a compass and a test on par with Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade . . . .except the Templar Knight is a pitt boss and the 3 “tests” are just a slot machine called “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade the Slot Machine.”

4) Super 8 is Better Than This Crap.

This is what I thought my room would be . . . then I remembered Vegas is in a DESERT.

When I arrived in Vegas, I was really excited about my hotel room.  I was thinking it would be lush and fun with lots of amenities — I mean, it’s Vegas, it’s got to be outrageously loud and ostentatious, right?

Wrong!  Really really wrong.  The rooms are bland, bare and boring,  The walls barely even have the cheap art that a Super 8 uses to cover up blood splatter.  The TV is small and comes without any premium channels.  Heck, it took me a day just to figure out how to change the channel without going back and forth through the hotel menu channel.  There’s no fridge, so I couldn’t store any drinks.  The mini-bar is designed so that if any merchandise passes the fridge door frame, you’re automatically charged.  So, you can’t even look at what you could potentially buy without buying it first.  There isn’t a microwave. (Even though the hotel convenient store sells microwave meals.)  The windows are small and angled so barely any light comes in.  In short, I’ve been to hotels in the middle of nowhere Upper Pennisula of Michigan that had more charm and class.

See, these hotel rooms are designed without any imagination (unlike everything else in Vegas) because the last thing they want you to do is sit in your hotel room all day.  They want you downstairs, buying slushy drinks, slamming chips onto tables and pulling levers.  As far as the hotels are concerned, the only purpose of your room is to sleep off a hangover.  Period.  You can watch HBO on your way home on the plane . . . unless you flew Southwest.

5) Where the Sidewalk Ends

Yep, kids, that's the Bellagio down there. Now get spending!

One of the best FREE activities in Las Vegas is just walking down The Strip.  There just so much depravity and hilariousness to fill dozens of GB on that iPhone camera.  Where else can you walk 10 feet and 1) be handed naked pictures of women printed on business cards handed out by illegal immigrants not once, not twice but 5 times; 2) see women on bar tops urging you to come in for a drink special while acting out their dreams of being a referee by blowing a whistle incessantly; 3) see the Bellagio fountain show in all its glory, 4) be courted by a douchbag in a suit urging you to take his VIP tickets for his hot new club called Twat and 5) see this . . .

Mickey bet Garfield he couldn't eat 15 trays of lasagna.

It’s a blast.  Any writer looking for material, just walk down the strip a few times.  You’ll hear and see some crazy shit.  However, be prepared to leave the freedom of fresh air and sunshine (or moonlight) and be redirected back to . . . yep, you guessed it, a casino.  The sidewalks of The Strip are designed to redirect you towards the capitalism and commerce Vegas strives to keep alive.  No way in hell they’re letting you just window shop – you’re comming face to face with the products.

No way I'm looking at just the outside of the Imperial Palace. In 3 minutes, I'll be looking at the inside . . . and throwing up.

See, periodically, the sidewalks on The Strip (Las Vagas Ave) end.  You can’t walk any further.  Instead, there’s an escalator or stair case directing you into a casino where you have to walk the floor (usually the entire length of the casino) before you can find your way outside again.  Want to cross the street?  Good luck.  I saw maybe two crosswalks on the entirety of the strip.  Instead, there are plenty of skywalks – bridges across the street.  Where do they lead?  Did you say the sidewalk?  Idiot.  No!  A casino.  Or, at the very least, through a mall.

You see, Vegas is a city built on odds.  Everything is measured in odds.  The odds of you winning.  The odds that your team will beat the spread.  The odds that you can get from here to there in time to see Penn & Teller (we did and it was a GREAT show), and the odds that you will spend money.  Vegas continually tries to increase it’s own odds in any fashion it can.  At the tables and on the streets.  So, if they can get you out of the gym, out of your room, make you walk through a million slot machines, sit as long as you can at a table and force you to detour through malls and casinos, the odds are in their favor that you will spend money.  It’s devilishly ingenious – I can not help but admire it, cause I have a little more will power than most . . . except when it comes to Kidrobot toys — and they had a Kidrobot store.  Shit!

This was my casino . . . damn-it!

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