Notes from Ken Miller’s self-guided tour of Las Vegas Boulevard, between Sahara and Washington, newly designated as a “scenic byway”: Somewhere between the expanse of boarded-up buildings, the chain-link fencing protecting abandoned lots dotted with concrete slabs and scrub and a motel sporting large swatches of graffiti, it hits me: Did the Federal Highway Administration only see this area at night? After all, in the glare of the day it’s all too easy to notice the corpse of Neonopolis (sorry, the neon “Bass” sign isn’t helping), nondescript concrete monoliths, particularly ones bearing large “for lease” signs and a homeless guy looking suspiciously over his shoulder at a guy in a Hawaiian shirt who’s also looking suspiciously over his shoulder. Sure, there are moments of grace—the wedding chapels are kitsch, the Lloyd D. George Courthouse doesn’t suck, the Neon Boneyard is a treasure trove, and who’s going to carp about the Old Mormon Fort, Lied Children’s Museum, Las Vegas Museum of Natural History and Reed Whipple Center? When I see a building called “Slightly Sinful” with an “Available” sign underneath, I can’t help but think how much that symbolizes Vegas as a whole.
Tue, Oct 20, 2009 (4:35 p.m.)