Don’t Get Too Used to Horse-Drawn Carriages Downtown  


Should Downtown have horse-drawn carriages?

What a ruckus this has caused, pitting animal-rights activists—and others with concerns ranging from safety to poop—against a business owner who sees some cha-ching in Downtown’s upswing.

Me? I’ve never understood urban carriage rides. Central Park? Sure. Times Square? Hell, no. But the Las Vegas City Council recently permitted at least one company to operate, with restrictions on geography and temperature. (The latter gives me pause: We’ve already exceeded the Council’s 90-degree maximum several times this year, but then horses played in the early development of Las Vegas, and I’d wager those animals worked though our brutal summers.)

My guess is this will be another ill-fated outsider idea imposed on Las Vegas. Like the pedicabs crowding the Strip in the early 2000s, Downtown’s carriages will be tried, and either the operators or the powers that be will find the challenges outweigh the benefits, and they will disappear.

Why can’t the national media get Las Vegas right?

Oh, how pissed I’d get when a “journalist” (or pithy lifestyle writer) would parachute into Las Vegas and predictably crawl home to pound out yet another “Neon! Gambling! Sin! Strippers! Mob!” story. Or, worse, the “It’s a Human Cesspool!” hit piece. “Why aren’t they showing the Vegas I know?!” I’d scream. Social media in general, and blogging in particular, has only amplified the situation. Rather than suffer a heart attack at my keyboard, I’ve learned to roll with it.

Outside media bring an outsider’s perception and an outsider’s agenda, and they’re loath to depart from that agenda. Even the stories about the “other” Las Vegas (the one you and I live in!) will always be marked by that tell-tale “other.” Outside reporters will almost always offer a sort of wide-eyed bewilderment when it comes to “Life Off the Strip!” or “The Vegas You Don’t Know!” because, after all, the Vegas they do know is precisely why they care enough to cover us to begin with, and it colors their perception of everything else. In other words, the stories are not about us; they are about them.

As one British director assembling a BBC documentary once put it to me, “We’re not here to show why Vegas is like any other city. We didn’t haul all these people and all this crap across the Atlantic to tell a story we could have told at home.” Indeed.