Dissolute Figures

New Las Vegas residents need accustoming themselves to the local incongruities. Living in Nevada, a state on the fringes of the mind or amid the spatial void, the usual standards seldom seem to jibe.

Las Vegas is a community where those of us passing as solid citizenry mesh daily among what others elsewhere would regard as unconventional, unhinged, unmoored, and uninhibited.

Easy as it might be to ascribe the behaviors to weirdness or eccentricities, indifference is the apt word. Remoteness and the regional disposition conspire for perfect conditions which allow a good many individuals to flout or ignore recognized forms of comportment altogether.

Probably explains the locals’ mania to mar and disfigure themselves with tats and piercings as well as dye their hair in colors unseen in nature. On the upside, though, these deviations help tell the bags of shit apart.

But the above indulgences are an individual’s right. Unlike the disparagement and ostracism that would compel others to conform somewhat in more settled, less transient regions, careering into what’s considered improper or simply outrageous elsewhere may be an enshrined privilege in Nevada.

Since pervasive modern creature comforts have rendered roughing it fairly obsolete, a lot of individuals who probably imagine themselves 21st century Jack Londons or Annie Oakleys under the right rustic and harsh conditions, now channel these urges to stand out from our pack into the sort of transformations into characters who can’t help but draw attention. Less kindly, our derision.

Blessed by abundant sunshine and natural attractions just beyond the hurdy-gurdy and gaudy lights, Las Vegas is unlike other major Southwestern urban centers. Its residents generally don’t exalt in a climate quite favorable for outdoor activities. Phoenix, Denver, Salt Lake, Albuquerque, and Tucson have physical enthusiasts coursing through them, firming their bodies as well as naturally working on their tans.

There’s no level of this activity close in Las Vegas.

Outside a narrow cohort seemingly dominated by nightclub servers/security personnel and the higher rung of working girls (and those aspiring to the more lucrative heights), Vegas residents have forsaken, no, abandoned, sweat equity in their physiques.

It’s not sloth so much as surrender. Twenty-four hour town as Vegas is, why practice discipline when the vices are easily catered and what many see as unsavory so readily available?

Las Vegas insists on indulgence. To one’s own peril if so desired.

Rampant obesity and the prevalence of emaciation that could wrest away Miami’s title of “God’s Waiting Room” attest to this deathly blitheness. These extremes crowd vision here. Akin to gazing into a forest, the observer has trouble discerning individual trees.

Saw a typical case exemplifying the former. Stout, stooped, legs bowed under too much weight, a cane helped him shuffle. Since a good percentage of Nevadans lead reckless, feckless, and heedless lives, he also chain-smoked.

This huffing and puffing nearly seizing specimen tiny-stepped into one of the area’s finer bakeries. The chef/owner a former prizefighter, undoubtedly no one calls him a crème puff.

The customer, a diabetes sufferer, threw tomorrow to the wind. He purchased enough gooey, sticky sweets to last days for numerous dessert dervishes. Instead these were to be all for his lonesome. He expected to devour them shortly.

At least this fellow could amble. Others suffer such severe biscuit poisoning their shapeless bodies could be mistaken for sacks of lard haphazardly heaped atop one another. A high number of Las Vegans who have cascaded into morbid obesity only enjoy mobility thanks to motorized scooters.

Las Vegas must be the epicenter of the gorging disease. Such prevalence must keep motor scooters sales steady.
Elsewhere, doctors may prescribe diet and exercise to combat these scourges of excess. Here, the common remedy runs along meds and electric wheels. The next time a doctor suggests one of the afflicted change his or her diet and lifestyle, it’ll be the first time.

Without electric wheels providing progress in padded comfort perhaps diagnoses of emphysema would curtail the nic fits of wraiths who continue smoking throughout their ordeal. Instead the convenient conveyance sustains the addiction.

It isn’t unusual to see seated figures the consistency of slouching kindling rolling along sidewalks or inside casinos playing machines, nostrils jammed with breathing tubes attached to an oxygen tank yet smoking cigarettes all the same.

Tobacco and gambling, two habits that stoke one another.

Beyond gluttony, licentiousness, indolence, gambling, alcohol/narcotic excesses, Las Vegas accommodates other indulgences and inhibition releases. Two strangers, one a foreign visitor, the other a neighbor more remote than the tourist, added to my insight of what engages and enthralls us in this plenty realized/little left to the imagination metropolis.

Only the distant stranger makes this dispatch. The other and his circumstance appear in the next post.

Sobieski, a Pole from Szczecin. He traveled to Las Vegas specifically to thoroughly wallow in the above – and more. During his gambols perhaps he only lacked having done an eight ball to have fulfilled “the full Vegas.”
The Pole was no Stosh. Dark complexioned, carrying himself regally and black hair raised in a cock’s comb, he bore a clef chin and a deliberate gaze. Naturally he had an accent but spoke English elegantly.

In an earlier era, wouldn’t one have taken him for nobility? How difficult would it have been to have imagined him as courtly?

Sobieski confessed to having been twice astounded in Las Vegas. Until circulating here, he’d never experienced anywhere else the sort of license this Mojave mecca provided, nor the exhaustion resulting from it. Second, that his interlocutor knew of Szczecin, its importance in 20th century history under its previous name of Stettin, also flummoxed him.

Admittedly, referencing the gist of Churchill’s Iron Curtain speech was putting on the dog. But why not? I’d come across someone who could appreciate the gesture grandly.

Aside from the women, the illicit substances inhaled, ingested, the dining, what enthralled Sobieski most, no, captivated him, was American gun culture. Mind, he wasn’t a gun nut. Weapons did not compensate for any feelings of inferiority. Possession of a rod did not make him feel like a bigger man.

Instead, what fascinated Sobieski, what gratified him almost as pleasuring and being pleasured by women, were the sensations behind weapons discharges. Back in Poland he hunted.

There are several venues in Las Vegas catering to any wishing to handle weapons. These businesses provide all sorts of fire arms. One can only imagine the vicarious thrills realized by squeezing these triggers.

Sobieski tested a full arsenal. The two weapons which satisfied him most had nothing to do with our modern era. Yet both are iconic.

Handling the Garand rifle, popularly known during World War II as the M1, and not all that surprisingly, the Thompson submachine gun, a k a, the Tommy gun, each sent Sobieski into near rapturous spasms.

The Tommy gun just spat raw mindless lead venom that momentarily shoved aside every bit of its possessor’s humanity. Sobieski enjoyed this brief displacement of self.

I enjoyed that as aware as he was of American culture, he had yet to ever watch The Roaring Twenties or any other 1930s Warner Bros movies featuring “the chopper.”

In Sobieski’s hands, his finger on the trigger, the stock jarring into him, the Tommy gun transformed a man who presented himself as quite urbane into a human thresher. The weapon’s indifference lent the Pole insight into how casually dark hearts may beat.

The M1 he likened to “shooting art.” This was his favorite gun.

Articulating further, Sobieski said the Garand’s designer had fabricated a rifle certainly worthy of gallery exhibition. The gun’s smooth function and sleek form enhanced the sensation behind shooting. An almost heavenly recoil reciprocated a most effortless tug of its trigger.

Sobieski saw the Garand as an instrument, one akin to a violin or piano. Sufficient dedication and couldn’t one become a virtuoso of either apparatus? Same could be achieved with the Garand, no? Sobieski marveled how those bearing it failed becoming marksmen upon first grasp.

He found the rifle just that easy and sweet.