All posts by rexmerritt


As I’ve written before and will remind in the future, Las Vegas is a metropolis churning with transients. Unlike elsewhere few people are from here. Roots are so shallow hydroponic growths probably have greater depths than the majority of human flesh and emotions calling Las Vegas “home.”

Home. What a loaded word.

For this post’s purposes, let’s just deem home a refuge from the outside world. Which I guess taken to semantic extremes makes a decent percentage of us with mailing addresses here refugees.

Fact is there are refugees here. No. Real live ones. Not to be confused with those in the metaphoric sense.

Cubans are beginning to comprise a loud presence in Las Vegas. Cubans from Cuba itself, not Cubans of Cuban heritage who’ve fled Miami. Funny. Native-born Cubans don’t waste a second bitching about the island’s system. How unlike their thoroughly Americanized cousins, generations removed from Cuba, people who’ve never set foot on the island, knowing only what they know from relatives who bet on the wrong horse in the Batista-Castro Derby.

Listening to them, one might almost believe Fidel still smoked cigars and rolled out hours-long speeches haranguing Western imperialism.

I like the Cubans here in a way I never could’ve the revanchist Caribes back in South Florida or around Metropolitan New York. Rather than immerse themselves among familiarity somewhere along the Eastern Seaboard, these Cubanos struck out to Nevada. Night and day as far as nurturing ease and comfort.

Maybe when their hesitancy and shyness further dissipate (both traits practiced around Americans, loudly joyous among themselves), and we get past nervous cordiality, I can actually plumb what behind their leaps of faith that landed them in Nevada. In any case, as any prospector, no, adventurer could recognize, they’ve gone hell for leather into this strange land.

Compared against most landed Americans, Mexican/Central American migrants, Pacific Islanders who’ve come to Las Vegas to make their score, the Cubans just aren’t going to find satisfaction in 30 years of hotel/casino industry sinecure and homeownership. Naturally, they want those or goals proximate but more as well. The Cubans possess the sharpness and hustle former residents from the Northeast and Industrial Midwest recognize and appreciate.

Those are rarely observed qualities throughout this part of the Intermountain. Given the power/economic structure here, the masses occupying the substantial lower rungs remind of organisms who survive through responding to stimuli. Their next thought will be their first one.

Covid must’ve served as the best means of advance for the less ambitious throughout the Big Mayberry. Employees whose water had found its level at menial jobs suddenly got their minimum wages almost doubled when suddenly desperate employers saw labor shortages draining warm bodies from store counters and market aisles. Thanks to the scourge, mopping spills, stacking boxes, as well as scanning purchases rose from drudgery jobs to essential positions.

Occupying the cat bird seat now, and thoroughly satisfied with current gains, the above workers aren’t bothering to strike while the iron’s hot. Employers must love the contentment and satisfaction their presently overcompensated personnel show. Rather than employees taking the upper hands they have and using them to construct further beneficial nests, bosses await the economic ebbtide that will enable them to claw back the goodies which kept their businesses staffed.

The Cubans, though, they’re putting it all together piecemeal. They have aspirations, surely. Careers as clerks in national chain stores aren’t goals, but steps in the plan. Methodically. After suitable for the moment jobs and housing what’s next here? What’s essential in Nevada? A car.

Sure. Could go out and buy an oxidized hoopty belching oil or coolant fumes. Easy enough. Cheap enough at first if one discounts the imminent headaches and costs inherent in part-swapping repairs and inconvenient breakdowns. Or do as Cubans have done.

Buy the junker that has been labeled unsalvageable by an insurer. Have the forfeited wheels towed back home and parked. Then devote whatever idle time making the heap roadworthy again.

Escaping from a society where manufactured goods are scant when not outright obsolete, they come to our shore knowing how to refurbish or repurpose items. Seeing junked Benzes and Beamers coated under desert dust lined in tow yards to them must be akin to sprinters hearing starters’ pistols.

Oh, wouldn’t it be illuminating to have them share their views of profligate Americans’ easy attitude towards waste?

Over the last several months I’ve watched top of the line cars previous American owners must’ve used to challenge bridge abutments restored. Junkyards have been scoured. Bumpers and quarter panels have either been banged out or replaced. Automobile guts have been delved into and revived part by part. These are not overnight operations. There have been numerous occasions when what ought have worked in theory fails in practice. Okay. These are not deterrents. Just higher hurdles.

Since this is Las Vegas, a place where facile and superficial are highly esteemed, showing up in a flash car can open gates to a lot of possible paths. There are first impressions, then there are subsequent ones from which to project charm. From there it’s easy steps to competency and responsibilities that can enrich.

Landed Americans – black, Anglos, Latinos – demonstrate little of the same initiative. At least in Las Vegas. Perhaps we’ve advanced so far that drive has been bred by plenty at hand out of us. Meticulous planning whose results are rewarded by sometimes hard physical labor must be entries in history books used as doorstops.

Sort of like the opposite of a sculptor who can envision David emerging from a granite block.

Just motoring around Las Vegas neighborhoods or patronizing stores – convenience stores especially – present more examples of sloth than hope.

Not that I do this intentionally while driving, but I can’t fail noticing the inordinate number of vehicles with flat tires. Now, no thanks to the spiritually abandoned (a less brusque label for the two-legged vermin who make parts of urban America abysmal, a k a, the chronically homeless) that find some kind of physic release in smashing bottles on asphalt or clumsy do-it-yourself types who believe picking up screws or nails they’ve dropped beneath them, Las Vegas roads are constant hazards for tires.

In 2013, when I settled in the Mojave Mecca for better or worse, the incessant number of speed bumps made me wonder about opening a front alignment shop. The years since have redirected that thought. If anything, I ought have partnered with some esses. We could’ve opened un negocio de las llantas. And we could’ve fixed flats, too.

All we needed to have done was patch tires to have made a killing. The prevalence of spiky hazards claiming pneumatics here is no joke.

Often, I’ll pass a home whose driveway is crowded with listing cars because the bottom of one or more tire rests pancake flat upon the parking surface. Other times I’ll see a big ol’ pick ‘em up truck stranded against a curb, its owner possibly prostrate with the vapors; so incapacitated he can’t jack up the vehicle, pull the tire off, take that rubber to a repair shop to have it patched then return home for remounting.

Of course, a roadside service technician could perform all that right there. But foresight and the prudence of annually budgeting the pittance necessary to maintain labor saving peace of mind remain unknown to vast segments in this part of the Intermountain. After all, those few dollars could be better spent gambling, buying smokes, or several cans of marked up brew at any nearby convenience store.

Our “American Way” of today.

Jittery Landscape

Today’s collegiate sports scene could teach the NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL about pursuing dollars.

Whereas the pros are geared laser sharp towards reaping profits – after all, their athletic endeavors are businesses – the revenue generating college games have become rabid. Any more so and they’d be foaming at the mouths. Continue reading Jittery Landscape

Shading America

Without a doubt the 28 days of February 2023 delivered a most dispiriting observance of black American presence and heritage. Since its inception as Black History Week in 1926 which then became Black History Month 50 years later, the celebrations and reminiscences fueling this recognition of the most loyal Americans served as a noble reminder of black struggles and national contributions. Continue reading Shading America

If the Shoe Fits Get Kicked by It

February has provided the results of a lesson imparted late last year. On a 2022 autumn afternoon, a recently arrived resident at my complex surveyed the then scene. A younger man of the immediate gratification generation, he disparaged our home. To him it looked “ghetto.”

Seeing the property through his eyes, I understood. Continue reading If the Shoe Fits Get Kicked by It

A Nice Soft Spot

The title to this post is what I sought and found in Las Vegas. Many ask why I relocated to Nevada from New York. Too many surmise taxes, the weather, or crime chased me out of civilization. Not at all.

Of course, the tax rate is higher back East but services are extensive. Taxes are low out West but just looking around informs of a deficient society compared to what was left. Continue reading A Nice Soft Spot

Stray Cavalcade

Other than oasis stops on some caravan route, maybe, where else does so much diverse as well as damaged humanity cross except Las Vegas?

There are bigger, better, brighter, more dynamic cities upon our globe. Yet in them the cast of characters, residents and visitors, rarely change as often nor as rapidly or as abruptly as in the Big Mayberry. Continue reading Stray Cavalcade

Elect Buck

Can rational minds really wrap themselves around how close Republican challenger Hershel Walker came to winning a Georgia Senate seat on December 6th, 2022? I suppose right-wingers might’ve claimed his victory as “true affirmative action” as intended by progressives who’d originally promoted it. As a candidate, the Old Bulldog manifested what detractors believed the policy represented. Continue reading Elect Buck

Bad Vegas

That time of year again. The season where convention and tradition insist we evaluate how good our lives have been despite setbacks and denials.

What’s particularly irksome is hearing all those sanctified savants who’ve proclaimed they’re “blessed.” As if leading patently unfulfilled or marginal lives is a wonderful condition, one that beats the alternative.

As the ancients knew, and modern mankind has forgotten believing technology has insulated us, there are fates worse than death. Continue reading Bad Vegas

Deadline USA 2022

Happy to announce there is no crime wave afflicting the United States. Lawlessness is at such meager levels; our part of the North American continent now hasn’t enjoyed such safety since before the first conquest-driven Europeans set foot on this soil.

Of course, the nation offers plenty of sketchy areas full of that “element” where if the daring or just plain foolhardy seek crime, they’ll find it on likely stolen silver platters. Continue reading Deadline USA 2022