Well, you knew it was coming, and I must admit that this one was much easier to write. It was so easy to write that I had to force myself to cut it short, somewhere over 5,000 words, and break it into separate articles.
Now, in fairness, I'm not trying to bash Las Vegas for sport. I tried to love it. Really, I did.
Think about it, I loved the town so much that I picked up and moved here at great expense. I lived here for 6 years and tried everything I could (including moving 3 times within the city) to make it work. Most of you out there who claim to love Las Vegas and think that I am crucifying it for no reason probably cannot say the same.
I didn't sit around talking about moving to Vegas. I got off my ass and did it. I came, I saw, I lived it, I immersed myself, and I experienced it all first-hand.
There is a portion of the population out there who simply prefer that the myth of Las Vegas stay intact. There is another group that makes money by living in and/or promoting Las Vegas for their own financial gain.
Both of these groups hate what I do, and will probably be offended by this list. That's not my problem. If you are solidly in the "I Heart Las Vegas" camp, then this is not Sunday reading in which you will want to partake. Consider this fair warning.
For everyone else -- take this list for what it is.
My honest, unabashed opinion.
1) The Weather
Far and away the biggest reason that I could not continue to live in Las Vegas.
In general, a planet must have three things to support life: Liquid water, nutritious soil, and an energy source.
Las Vegas really only has one of the above ... the sun as an energy source.
It only rains 4 inches each year in Las Vegas. To put this into perspective, the national average for US cities is 40 inches ... roughly 10 times the amount that falls in Vegas. The lack of water combined with high heat makes life inhospitable for most carbon-based life forms. I suppose this is why it's called the desert. It's nearly deserted of natural life.
Sure, you can stay indoors in the air conditioning for 6 months out of the year ... but then you must endure such pleasantries as constantly recycled air, nosebleeds, dry eyes, dry skin, and a general discomfort that just feels inexplicably "wrong". Humans weren't meant to live in artificial climate bubbles. I mean, John Travolta needs to do so for health reasons, but the rest of us need not endure such an indignity.
While Vegas winters are better, they are only moderately so. You still have sunny, dry weather, but instead of heat -- an omnipresent cold wind blows that makes outdoor activities almost as unpleasant as they are in the summer.
Hot, dry weather also negatively correlates to mental activities such as reading and writing. I firmly believe that the weather explains the general "dimness" of the Vegas population and I don't think it only affects natives. After only a few years, I began finding it much harder to concentrate and maintain my own creative endeavors. Las Vegas isn't conducive to thinking or creating, it is conducive to partying, kicking ass, and mindlessly screaming "Vegas Baby!".
I understand why tourists find the climate acceptable, and I myself find the weather perfectly tolerable for a few weeks at a time. The novelty, however, does wear off. Trust me. 105 degrees is cute for a week. On the 90th straight day, it's just oppressive.
There are 8-12 weeks out of the year where Las Vegas climate is "perfect" in the traditional sense, but these three months are simply not enough to balance out 9 months of misery.
Even if everything else in Las Vegas were great, the weather would have eventually made the town unlivable for me.
Your mileage will certainly vary.
2) The People
This competed for the top spot, but I had to give it #2 because I do still have about a dozen friends in town, and there are some good people in Vegas ... although they are very few and far between.
Las Vegas' reputation causes it to attract what I consider to be the bottom 10% of the US population. These are basically people who could not be successful anywhere else, mixed with country/suburban folks who are convinced that they can wash away their unglamorous pasts by bathing themselves in the bright neon of the Vegas Strip.
Frank Sinatra once sang about New York that if you could "make it there, you could make in anywhere", and to some extent, I agree. New York is a highly competitive Darwinian place where you must try very hard to stand out from the crowd. In general, posers and the untalented get weeded out quickly.
Las Vegas is the polar opposite of New York. It tends to attract a demographic of people who simply cannot make it "there" -- "there" being defined as any place that demands competence.
Lost your medical license in Chicago? Get a fresh start in Las Vegas. We're so desperate, we'll take anyone. Buy one of our houses, please.
Fondled one too many underaged girls as a history teacher in Boston? Get a fresh start in Las Vegas. If you have a pulse, you can teach here. Buy one of our houses, please.
Can't make change for a dollar? Come to Las Vegas where none of our cashiers can make change for a dollar. You'll fit right in. Buy one of our houses, please.
Too lazy to learn the English language? Hey, you're just the type of person we've been looking for. Buy one of our houses, then put a car up on blocks on the front yard. Please.
People often move to Las Vegas to re-invent themselves, and while this may not seem like a bad thing, it leads to a city without an identity because so many people here have an identity crisis.
In addition to those seeking out a more glamourous existence for themselves, the city also attracts a very large number of people with "get rich quick" mentalities. These people are convinced that they are going to come to Vegas and win a ton of cash right off the bat, and when this fails to happen (as it always does), they tend to become bitter, angry, and rude.
The last group of people that Las Vegas seems to attract is weirdos.
Now, there are generally two types of weirdos in the world:
- Introverted intellectuals, creative types, vegetarians, and the socially awkward;
- Creepy people of low intellect and stalker proclivities who seem like they probably have at least three decomposing bodies in their basement;
Las Vegas has a large number of weirdos, but absolutely zero of them are from category #1, and 100% of them are from category #2.
Places like Austin, Olympia, Portland, and Berkeley attract more of the former, while Las Vegas only attracts the latter. I don't know why this is.
Between the phony go-getter PR types, the aging degenerates, the third-world transplants, the scammers, the painfully illiterate, and the just plain creepy-weird ... I was never completely comfortable in Las Vegas.
If you fall into one of the above groups, then boy, do I have a city for you.
Buy one of our houses, please.