By the time the phrase “another recession” made national headlines—and Las Vegans wondered whether the first one ever really ended—the cultural milieu here was already freakishly duplicative.
Oscar Goodman announced that he’d open a steakhouse; so did Caesars Palace. Clark County was mentioned not once, but twice, in FiscalTimes.com’s “Five Worst Places to Retire” (once for Lake Las Vegas and again for the whole county). Our second Goodman entered her second month as mayor. And the County Commission approved plans for a second giant Ferris wheel on Strip. Seriously. Two.
It’s as if we’re not responding to events well enough the first time, necessitating some sort of cosmic re-utterance. We were helpless as wet kittens responding to the recession, so we’ve been given another. We didn’t fully appreciate the audacity of the first giant Ferris wheel plan, so fate stuck us with another one. There’s something infantilizing about double helpings: The inability to prevent the numbing sameness of it all, the incapacity to say, Thanks, but one’s enough. Hollywood has this problem. Vegas has it. America’s got it bad.
Maybe events happening in pairs is a blunt call for a community to reflect. Maybe we’re supposed to take a minute to look in the mirror, even though ours is a funhouse mirror that makes us look smarter than we are. Still, we can make out the conspicuous questions: Why are we facing a second dose of economic pummeling? Could it be that we didn’t fix it right the first time? Why is Southern Nevada mentioned twice in a list of worst places for anything? Is Las Vegas really that pitiful a home?
Not that back-to-back Goodmans is a bad double-feature, nor two times the steak, unless speeding to an early cardiac arrest is a bad thing. But it’s hard not to see two giant Ferris wheels as emblematic of the kind of self-mockery that undermines serious recovery, made all the more confounding because we’re simultaneously freaking out about street performers on the Strip … because they make the place seem like a carnival.
May the cosmos give us two times the patience.