I’m home. I entered Vegas like a lion and left in a hurry. It was a fittingly operatic and action-packed lightshow of massive physical and emotional not-in-kansas-anymore moments, and it certainly wasn’t Zion. Or was it… (INSIDE VOICE: Wow: am I writing a musical?)
You know what they say…
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!
(Cue Bright Lights and Massive Scenery)
(No, really Gaëtan, here’s where you insert the first photo)
(INSERT HELLO VEGAS PHOTO)
Actually, I called this one “Hello, Vegas.” The punctuation on that is actually important. My introduction to Las Vegas, was, to say the least, no over-use of commas intended, luke-warm. It was dumb, actually, and full of traffic, and I was stuck in it, which I’m not used to. I just did 1894 miles, most of it around 60 miles an hour--unless it was at 35, not as a suggestion, but more as a life-saving device--in ten days (INSIDE VOICE: I’m doing it again with the commas) (maybe some drumming here would be good).
(INSERT MOTEL SIXSSS PHOTO)
My Swanky Vegas Locale. My Home Base. My strip of lawn off the strip, for cheap. Where I could get away from the cars and the bars and the hairdos for five minutes to put down my bag before leaving for the airport--home to Montreal!--maybe just a shower and a walk around town. Who knows. But I don’t need to see any more Breakfast in America (see Hello, Vegas. Photo). Maybe I can just grab a cab after I take the car back, straight down to some Tom Waits song in old Vegas and I can sit on a boardwalk--no wait, not a boardwalk; a catwalk… or an alley… or something like that. Anyway, I had a shower, and walked out onto the fry of the side-strip. Like bacon. They do it: they fry you. As soon as you leave the comfort of the strip they zing you with the concrete and the cars and the no-man’s land parking islands. Every now and then, as I walk along, a changing of the guards of apathy:
(INSERT THE NEIGHBOURS PHOTO)
(INSERT CARDBOARD CHOCOLATE LION PHOTO)
(INSERT LIGHTS HELP VEGAS)
They do. When it starts to get dark, Vegas starts to get pretty.
(INSERT MAC FOR TANNER)
Why MacDonald’s is there is because I took this picture for Tanner. When we did DUPLICITY GIRLS in London, at the White Bear, with Paula and Ned, one of the first things Tanner Harvey did was go to MacDonald’s. It’s a kind of social experiment he’s working on. He’s given me several reports on MacDonaldses in strange places. So, here’s the Vegas link for Tanner.
And then of course, there’s this one.
Right? That’s what I think of when I think of Paris. Barry Manilow.
This one spot, I found, and snapped up before the light changed and I had to walk away, was a fleeting glimpse of what my mind had prepared for the cover of the file marked “What I imagine Las Vegas To Be”. I like it. It is satisfying to have a picture painted in the mind and then projected inside out by the eyeballs.
These next three pictures I wasn’t supposed to take. I hope I don’t get in trouble. I made sure to only take just those, and only when nobody was on a wire or jumping or anything. Just as a record, or document, right? Because that’s what I’ve been doing for this past month. And because it was such a lovely gift: two fifties, those Mounties, aiming at each other, twice, and Maxine saying; “Here, Johanna, now I know you wouldn’t pay for this yourself, so I’m doing it, here, go see Love”. And I knew Jesse had loved LOVE. It was amazing just to see, finally, a show by these people who had been in the same trenches as my parents and were at the height of expressing themselves, and had been to the moon, doing whatever they would with great material. And I’ve heard all the stories, about back when, and I remember, the early gatherings, at the NFB when I was little, out in the Townships, the grown-ups juggling short films and borrowed billy goats, and I love the trapeze. And the dancing, and the lights, and---oooo: the costumes! And the space. And all of us in it. And the sort of signature whimsy of Montreal, like the bright yellow rain boots glued to tricycle centipedes, pulled across the stage in unison. Oh, what fun. But in the end, the show didn’t land for me. Somewhere, in between the original recordings and the end result, something of the story or the opera--Abbey Road I’ve often heard like an opera: I love to listen to it from start to finish: go on the journey—has gone amiss. It was like fireworks; that’s what it was. We ooohed and aaaahed. We ever soared, several times, we popped, and showered, and were let down gently, in the end, but we didn’t go anywhere, really together, except in rather exciting loops. I feel this often with shows “these days”: a preponderance of spectacle over symphony, a concentration on the trees at the expense of the trees. I mean the forest. (Hehe). Anyway, that’s my review of the first bit of theatre I’d seen in awhile. And the first Cirque du Soleil show ever. Of course it’s in Vegas. That’s a cliché, right? One thing it really did do was bring me back to that legacy question: look at the changes those four guys wrought on their rock. The Beatles were here. Imagine if they hadn’t been? There’s a different childhood. Speaking of childhood, that’s what makes the show worth seeing: you get to feel like a kid. It’s a circus. That’s their main focus. Genius.
(INSERT LOVE PHOTO)
(INSERT LOVE LIGHTS PHOTO)
(INSERT LOVE AND US PHOTO)
Then it was on to the second show of the evening…
(INSERT VIENS VOIR LE VOLCAN PHOTO)
I got to the Mirage a bit early, because I had figured out pretty quickly how the casinos are designed to keep you in them: you can’t walk through them like malls, expecting to get out the other side, and sometimes, forever goes a long way. I finally found the LOVE place, procured the ticket I had reserved back at Warren’s, and found the perfect distance away for one drink. A place called Rhumbar. The guy sitting next to me was from just north of Paris. Joffrey. He had a big grin on his face: he had just jumped out of an airplane. I told him how I was going to do that in Moab, but the rock-bite-car incident had given me a different choice. We started trading traveling stories. It was fun. Two people who had spent very little time in the past while talking out loud to anyone, and here we were in Vegas. He offered to take me to see the volcano erupt every hour on the hour, one of these hours. We agreed to meet back there after my show. I think we were both a bit surprised that we were actually there to meet each other. We went to see the fake volcano show. After that (more ooohs and aaaahs), we went for a walk. And I got my picture taken.
(INSERT FOR A CHANGE OF FACE PHOTO)
Then I took some more as we walked.
(INSERT TRAFFIC COP CAESAR PHOTO)
(INSERT TWINKLE PINK PHOTO)
(INSERT HORSE SIREN PHOTO)
(INSERT JOFFREY THE JUMPER PHOTO)
(INSERT DIFFERNT MOON PHOTO)
(I left that typo in: it helps to highlight the differnce between the Vegas moon and the Zion moon).
(INSERT VEGAS TREE ANGEL PHOTO)
(It just keeps looking more and more like a Giant Tipsy Christmas Tree).
Still haven’t got anywhere near close to an actual gambler. Joffrey and I are exploring the hotels like they’re National Parks. With peaks:
(INSERT INSIDE CAESAR PHOTO)
(INSERT INSIDE THE FIRESIDE PHOTO)
One of the oldest lounges in Vegas, finally off the strip, I feel like I’m at the bottom of a coral reef. Like I’m a sea anemone. Or maybe that’s just the tequila. Or are we drinking rum, now?
(INSERT SNOOP D ON THE TV PHOTO)
(The lounge acts in this lounge have been replaced by tv sets, playing live concerts back-to-back. What was it before the Dogg… Oh, yeah: Prince. I liked that lounge.
(INSERT SUNSET PHOTO)
(Knowing I was only in Vegas for that one night, I had to take a parting shot at my apotheaotic—yeah, I know that’s not a word—comic strip of the Las Vegas Boulevard at night. I think I called it Sunset because it’s the strip. Oh, wait: here’s the Strip: the last photo of the night. Same people. Only differnt.
But how did I turn twenty-four hours into so much stuff: why is it expanding and why do I still have more ending to put forth? (No, really there’s a whole other day).
Okay, but this has to come to an end. I can’t turn my life into one continuous open book. That would be like fireworks. Or loops. Too many endings and are-we-there-yets. So you get the last day like a slide show. You know, right after someone says, “Just shut up and show us the pictures already”.
Ok. In one sentence or less, the lasts:
(INSERT NEW DAY MGM GRAND PHOTO)
I would like his job.
(INSERT BECK LOSER PHOTO)
They were playing Beck’s song, on very low and muffled in the wall-to-wall, but I heard it in two different casinos: I’ m a loser baby, so why don’t you kill me. Unintentional, right?
(INSERT DUCK STAMPS PHOTO)
A slot machine for every gambler. Even the duck-loving gambler.
(INSERT GLASS GEMMAS?)
Question mark to remind me to ask Gemma James Smith if I didn’t see these very same glass flowers above her head on facebook one day. I love these flowers.
(INSERT PRETTY RICH COLOURS PHOTO)
(INSERT JERRY SEINFELD RULES PHOTO)
(INSERT POLISHED BRASS PORN PHOTO)
(INSERT OF THE CANYON AT SUNSET PHOTO)
(INSERT INVITED TO THE POOL PHOTO)
I had been invited to the pool at the Mirage. By Joffrey, who was staying there. He had scheduled a second jump for this morning—while I was getting a few hours of fitful sleep on top of the covers at the Motel 6, he was jumping out of another airplane. But he was there, on the same spot he’d been after the cirque show the day before, and his room key got us both a big fluffy towel and a deck chair. And a really big pool. I remember, when Mum and I were snowed out of that tent in that freak snowy occurrence in Florida, she got us a motel room for the night. They had a heated pool. Or at least, it wasn’t cold. And there was a sign on the chain-link enclosure to it: Welcome to our ool. Notice there’s no pee in it: let’s try to keep it that way. I played Marco Polo with some kids in the pool-ool: you know, the it one closes its eyes, and has to find and catch the others by calling Marco and the hiders have to answer Polo. It started with one extra kid who wasn’t part of the game, just floating along, really, to answer Polo. And pretty soon, a bunch of us were doing it. And we were having fun in the sun. And I don’t think anyone was spoiling the ool. It was a nice way to leave Vegas, with a sleepy French host, dozing by the pool. Kids giggling through chattering teeth. Even in the heat. On my walk back to the Six to get my things and go to the airport, I start feeling prematurely nostalgic for this weird place that I guess I am finally starting to see the story in. And I take more photos. Many more photos.
(INSERT PHOTO TAKEN PHOTO)
(INSERT BYE, VEGAS PHOTO)
Wave bye-bye, Vegas.
(INSERT SELF-PORTRAIT ON AIRPORT SHUTTLE PHOTO)
Here’s my last reflection.
No. On second thought, this is. Just outside of the Park. I had to take one of the many variations on this theme:
(INSERT ZION ROCK AND GEM PHOTO)
(INSERT GEMS AND GLOVES PHOTO)
All right this is probably actually the last one. Same place, differnt view.
(INSERT GEODE PHOTO)
And finally; a geode. Mum gave me one half of one as a wedding present. But that’s another story….
And so, thank you for reading. And looking at the pictures. I enjoyed this whole voyage so very much, and probably much of that enjoyment came from knowing I was telling a story and that someone was listening so I’d better pay attention to the signs.
Today at eleven is the media launch for the brand new La Licorne season. I’m supposed to resume Mon Frère est Enceinte in one phrase. Do you think I can do it?