I don’t understand the Strip at all. I assume nothing is permitted to exist in Las Vegas that doesn’t reliably make money—especially things that at first glance seem absurd, inconvenient or wrong. But I don’t get the economics that underlie it, or the marketing strategies that define it, or the aesthetics of the casinos, or their appeal. I don’t understand why it exists, or why it takes the form it does.
For example: are the luxury shops actual money-making stores or are they just advertisements for their brands? Every casino has a shopping mall, and while there is some variation in the stores, there is also a lot of duplication. Hence here are eight Gucci shops on the Strip, one every 1000 feet. The same number of Versaces, and probably more Tiffanys.
Moreover, there is also Crystals at CityCenter, a shopping mall in the middle of the Strip featuring nothing but luxury stores. The shops are lovely, but who are they for? Do these retailers assume Mister Typical Man-on-the-Strip alternates his BEER/FUCK/YEAH t-shirt with a Paul Smith floral print dress shirt? It might be true—what do I know?
Or are there sufficient numbers of non-BEER/FUCK/YEAH Vegas regulars to make the shops commercially viable? But how many Japanese, Middle Eastern, and Russian tourists are required? Or are the luxury shops actually making money selling their own equivalents of BEER/FUCK/YEAH t-shirts rather than their luxe items?
I’m afraid the Strip is not a place of refinement. The entrepreneurs promote gluttony, and dissipation. One of the billboards for NYNY suggested, “Enjoy a slice. Or eight.” It’s stupid, but it’s no surprise. The relentless and absurd super-Victorian sanctimoniousness of public discourse would drive people mad if they couldn’t escape it periodically. The sermons emitted by high-minded conservatives and high-minded liberals have succeeded in making excess more attractive than moderation. “Just Say No!” and "Tread lightly!" inevitably prompt “Give It Here!”
Still, I'm happy to report that the old sign at the Flamingo still glows like an urban-scale Dan Flavin installation. And--best of all--Caesar's Palace is still appealing. It's different--bigger, ampler--but still doesn't take itself too seriously. They have multi-story fasces going up the side of the towers! A classical margarita hut in the courtyard!
The Venetian also seems to be able to maintain a tongue in its cheek. We had a good Mexican meal on the patio as gondoliers warbled through the Grand Canal threading through the shopping mall.