What Happens in Vegas...
It's midway through the National Association of Broadcasters and my days are starting to wear on me. I feel relieved to be headed to dinner with one of my long-time friends. Knowing we're going to one of my favorite restaurants dulls the pain. I am distracted by the thoughts of crispy rice and spicy tuna and the always massive amounts of sake to be consumed.
Vegas has become a place known for food of a ridiculously high quality, to be devoured and enjoyed by a wide variety of hamburger-loving peasants, to the kings and queens of society. Vegas appeals to them all. They come here to play, gamble, and, if so desired, fulfill the carnal desires some only fantasize about.
This town is America's amusement park. Some of the most memorable experiences of my life have been while I was in Las Vegas. Strange I know, but I have been coming to Vegas for trade shows for more than 15 Years -- from CES while I worked at Rockford Fosgate, to National Association of Broadcasters, InfoComm, and SEMA. I have flown in Helicopters, shot video with a million dollar camera, and I was the first to see the-future-that-wasn't in 3D television. All experiences I will remember for a lifetime. Yet, I always have a bad taste in my mouth about Vegas. It’s like waking up the morning after eating a box of Oreos the night before, and thinking you've consumed potting soil in your sleep. I could never pinpoint the issue.
Last visit at NAB it happened. Monkey touch the lightbulb moment. I was at Nobu having an excellent dinner with great people and at a table nearby, a runways worth of model-esque women filed into the round Madmen shaped table. The ladies were escorted by one dude that would have been better placed in an IPA ad than accompanying these lovely women. He was a weirdy-beardy man, in a suit he bought from Jos A Banks. This city and, to be fair, our society has created a culture that people have to be beautiful, well-dressed, and of course know someone who is, or someone who knows someone who, is independently wealthy. This embodies the worst part of the human condition, symbolism over substance. More and more we've come to expect less and less of each other. The culture of stardom has made celebrities of the people who make being un-engaged an art form. This takes it's ultimate form in Las Vegas, the devils playground.
If you have enough money here, anything is possible, and dare I say -- encouraged. Our prime-time television is filled with shows about who wants to sleep with a rich guy, or contests to make the next celebrity. The evening news has become a regurgitation of whatever swill is being poured from the trough, and a kicker taken from reddit. We don't embrace knowledge anymore. We don't appreciate conversation. We are slowly transferring our judgment to the repositories we all carry in our pockets. Nobody has to remember anything because it's all in your pocket. What's the fix? I don't know. I wish I did. Las Vegas, the mecca for party-goers and douchebags. Where pickup lines become fodder for scoring. Where the real-life episodes of the Bachelor play out. We need to get back to looking for something deeper, something more than surface infatuation. We need to satisfy our long term desires, not just a quick dip in the pool. Could we possibly revert back to having civilized conversations at dinner? I sure hope so. I desire the moments of great conversation and debate, when we can all disagree and understand another persons point of view without instantly assuming they are less of a person simply for disagreeing with us.