Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Other Las Vegas...

I'm here on East Fremont Street in Las Vegas, far from the psychotic delusional frenzy of the "strip"/Las Vegas Blvd.,  the grand buffet at the Bellagio, the great pyramids of the Luxor, the understated, over the top "elegance" of the Wynn, here in a part of the city most visitors will never see,  probably never want to see, and certainly the one the PR people don't want you to see, the skid row of LV,  now that they've enticed you to come here to drown out  the unpleasant realities of your own tedious life in the faux fantasy world of this city which is little more than Hell Disguised as a Clown, Disneyland with slot machines, or as Henry Miller observed so long ago, an "Air Conditioned Nightmare"  in response to the absurdus americanus that became all that more obvious to him after his time in pre WW 2 Europe. 

Here it's hot under a hard, unforgiving slate blue sky, the relentless predatory sun searching to reclaim the souls of the homeless and hopeless left to die amidst the rubble of faded glory that was once Las Vegas before it moved uptown and left them behind, lost, lonely, and desperate, cowering in the shadows of what once was, and will soon no longer be, driving them further into the desert and certain death.  

The old, the sick, addled, addicted, the lame and infirmed, young men and women who dreamed and gambled away their dreams, sentenced to wither away in the gutted husks of old motels that still dot the strip of East Fremont Street, discarded and forgotten .

No people, no clouds, no hard luck stories, no shelter from sun.  Not the way I would have left it if only I had more time, but we were needing to move on.  As always, next time.


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Three days in Miami Beach...

Before I went digital a few years ago, after swearing I never would, I heard Martha Stewart talking about having over 300,000 digital images from her trips and various activities and that she was going to need to hire someone to sort it all out.   Incomprehendable at the time, but now Me, the guy who could spend a month traveling the southwest and come home it only 75 or 80 negatives, I have a backlog of a few thousand digital images.  Digital just seems to change the psychology of the thing.  Its not all good.  Lots of it is just snapshots of the here and now in the moment, but what it does provide is a running visual log of where I've been and what I've done, eaten, worn, overheard, etc etc.

So while it is not truly sequential, since we are traveling through Florida, my 2010 walk on the beach in Miami seems a logical fit here.  I was wondering where and when I would be able to fit it in, so if not now, when.

February 16, 2010 to be exact.  It was 83 degrees and a perfect day for a walk on the beach.

Miami has changed a lot since my first visit in the late 60's, but the beach is still a great place to find things to see, although my interests have changes.

In Miami, they seem to have elevated the lifeguard station to an artform.  While timing, planning, and weather conditions, precluded an exhaustive survey of all of the stations, of which there were many, this will give you an idea. 

We stayed at the Hotel Victor.  Very upscale, great food specials at the happy hour.  Beautiful and exotic inside as well.

Part of the lobby at the Victor.

Every hotel along Ocean Drive, and there are many, has a sidewalk cafe and the competition for customers is cut throat.  The half price specials were everywhere so after running the gauntlet of great looking 20 somethings hawking their wares (culinary) we settled on the Victor, since it was so close to home.  I had the most amazing ravioli in a cream sauce that left me happy and craving another portion, which is how a good meal should be.  Didn't have more, but Jackie and I split a Key lime pie for dessert which was also really good.  Too bad I wasn't taking pictures of food back at the time.


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Spent 2 days in Tallahassee...

and the only photograph I took was this one in Gullie Alley across from Andrew's Restaurant on South Adams Street where I had a couple of bourbons and a really great Mediterranean salad during happy hour.  The tables and people flowed out of the place onto the sidewalk and into the street filling Adams Street with a warm festive late afternoon deep southern feeling.  Thank goodness for Andrew's, cause it was just about the only show in town.

The reason for my lack of productivity was that there wasn't much for me to see.  Most of the original city had been torn down to make way for multi level parking garages, Soviet style, undistinguished, utilitarian government office buildings, and generic chain hotels.  Two and a half square blocks of renovated buildings housing lawyers. investment counselors, eateries, and a visitor's center etc., were about all that remained of the old city, of which Gullie Alley was a part.  There was some charming balconied southern architecture and a few other old buildings  reminiscent of New Orleans, but they lacked cohesion and there just weren't enough of them. The context was missing, so for me anyway, it was hard to get any sense of place, only a fleeting sense of what once was.  Of course part of the problem, as always, was at least partly, my expectations.  The Tallahassee I hoped to see, and which still exists only in old photos and imagination, is no longer there.  I wouldn't recommend going out of your way to see the town, but if you do go, don't miss the old capitol building which is beautiful and houses a great museum of Florida history.