Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Why Las Vegas Sucks

The New Yorker, that great publication that serves to chronicle the lifestyles of the extraordinarily rich for the benefit of the upper middle class, just did a profile of some guy who provides fancy Las Vegas restaurants with delicacies like truffles and cinnamon and (presumably) human skin. Here’s one interesting passage about the world of high food in Vegas that starts with a quote from chef Paul Bartolotta:

“Las Vegas is a pilot project to see if man can live on the moon,” he says. “There’s nothing local—our water comes from somewhere else, our electricity comes from somewhere else.” Fishermen have sent him texts in the middle of the night from their boats in the Adriatic, with pictures of themselves holding fresh-caught specimens and messages like “Want this fish?” On one such occasion, the fish was an eighteen-pound ombrina; when it arrived at the restaurant, forty-eight hours later, Bartolotta walked it onto the floor and offered it to a party of thirty golfers as the main course in a tasting menu they had ordered. He took it back to the kitchen, sprinkled some salt and pepper on it, tied up the tail so it would fit in the oven, and within ninety minutes the golfers were eating it. Their bill came to nearly five thousand dollars, before wine.

To recap: modern technology allows people across the world to communicate to one another instantaneously, and transport pretty much any object from any place to any other place in less time than it takes to watch all of the episodes of The Wire back-to-back, and we use this technology to provide a bunch of wealthy, drunken golfers with fresh fish.

I don’t want to turn this into a rant against the rich or global capitalism—although I suspect this already qualifies as such—but it’s worth noting that no matter how fantastical our abilities become, our ideas for how to use our powers remain bizarre. Why do we have this giant luxurious mecca of sin in the desert anyway? Living on the moon would be a gigantic waste of resources, which is why we never tried to do it. Las Vegas seems like a waste of resources too. Can’t we move all of those casinos somewhere a little easier to transport food and water to?

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