Land of the hype & the fake

Los Angeles royalty

There's no denying that the U.S. is big enough to be a lot of things all at once. Even if you've never been out of Europe, you've seen it all before on television, and still nothing is exactly like you thought it would be. Although, the student after-party in a millionaire's villa with Olympic swimming pool near the Princeton campus was very much how I had always imagined Scott Fitzgeralds paradise lost. And I hope to remember for a long time to come the intimidatingly beautiful chick that I met in a bar in Santa Monica, lead singer of the hard rock band 'Precious Metal' that had toured in the U.S. and Japan, which turned out to be simply nice, inviting me over for drinks with her band at the verandah of their house. It's not that 'anything happened' in the sense that real men are always lying about, it was just the gorgeous night, the relaxed, non-conventional atmosphere, the palpable vicinity of the Pacific, and one of the band members warning me half in jest: 'Hey man, you're talking to L.A. royalty here; her mother was dating Bob Dylan in the sixties.'

But then there is, of course, the fear of crime & violence that has become second nature to the average American. People that you ask directions on the street, urging you to get in a taxi as soon as possible, because 'this is a bad neigborhood for walking'; the servant in an all-night liquor store, turning white as a sheet when a black, gangsterish looking, underage but probably armed youth that he asks for an ID erupts: 'I'm from fucking Vegas man, I don't need any fucking ID to buy this shit.'
Las Vegas! Go there for a crash course in the worst that the Land of the Hype and the Fake has on offer. Like discount stores where you can rent a machine gun. Like casino's with a wedding chapel where you'll be married within 15 minutes, live on the internet. Like the casino's themselves, where, despite the carefully nurtured image of glamour, big money, great artists and loose & mysterious women, anyone with enough sense in his head to do long division will get depressed by these clueless masses throwing away their money, for lack of anything better to waste it on. Can you imagine that Engelbert Humperdinck is still the talk of the town there? I thought he died at least twenty years ago, and I still might be right.