Christmas in Las Vegas and Why I Don’t Gamble

By Jack Hunter Cohen

Spent the last couple of days in Vegas. I don’t gamble and it’s not my favorite place. And whatever happens in Vegas follows you everywhere. Sorry if that’s a buzz kill for anyone, but there it is. The lights are amazing. And there are so many of them. The sounds of distraction are as blatant as anywhere on the planet and everyone at the gambling tables has either got way too much money for their own good or are chasing the idea that if they win the next game they’re going to suddenly reach some sort of nirvana that’s been evading them elsewhere. That MAY be an oversimplification, but only slight, I think. And this isn’t to criticize anyone who DOES gamble. We all have our distractions as we all have our forms of self-medication. It isn’t that I want to rain on anyone’s parade either. The friend I was there to meet looked like he was having a genuinely good time. I even had a good time watching him at the craps table. It was late Wednesday and nobody seemed to be throwing anything that was going to make anyone any richer and since, as I said, I don’t gamble and I was there and I felt like I was in a scene from Las Vegas – The Movie! I offered to throw the dice for him. He agreed and after a couple of pretty good throws – or so I was told; I had no idea what any of this meant just that no one seemed particularly impressed with my skills – I rolled the dice for the third or fourth time and watched as one of them hit the other end of the table and flew off. This is not an unusual occurrence as it turns out, just one you don’t see in films. Why, I don’t know. It was pretty funny. But I digress.

As I looked around the casino I had one of my not infrequent experiences of feeling like an anthropologist on a foreign planet observing the funny little natives engaging in a strange ritual. Some of the very pretty dealers, dressed up in Santa suits designed by Hugh Hefner whose tables were empty, looked like if someone didn’t walk up and start playing soon they were going to start taking it personally. But far and away the best feature of this particular hotel – The Hard Rock – is the acoustics. Imagine this: You’re sitting at the bar and suddenly out of nowhere comes the voice of, not the person you’re speaking with but, someone from some other location. Only it sounds like they’re right next to you. They actually designed the place so that you could listen in on other peoples’ conversations from the other side of the bar. I suppose, you can never have too many distractions in a casino in Vegas on Christmas.

I do hope none of this sounds judgmental. As I said, we’re all in this thing together – whatever you want to call this thing. And so long as no one’s stepping on anyone else’s joy, as my friend James says, have at it. But after spending a few hours at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino and contemplating spending the night I decided my time would be better spent leaving.

Jack Hunter Cohen is a filmmaker and writer in Los Angeles

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