You have proven over the years how much you love Las Vegas, but there have to be things about the Best City Ever that irritate you. What are a few of your biggest gripes?
Believe it or not, I could write a book (or at least a frothy 7,000-word blog post) about this subject. (The DMV! The wind! The traffic!). But here are five top contenders:
➜ The state of public education is—to put it mildly—concerning. I saw the writing on the wall back in the 1980s when some of the best teachers at Clark High School were enticed away to launch the Meadows School. Before that, when the city was a fraction of its current size with only a handful of private schools, the rich kids, the poor kids and all those in between mixed in public schools. The lesson: Don’t underestimate the impact of an egalitarian education system in manifesting an egalitarian society.
➜ Las Vegas must be the chain store and franchise capital of the world. I’ll never forget the few years I lived in a new suburb (don’t ask) and seeing the excitement when Chili’s finally opened. Given the two-hour queue on opening day, you would have thought Hubert Keller had just launched a new Michelin-starred diner. A city of risk-takers should be a little more adventurous when it comes to neighborhood food offerings, but few people here care as long as Chick-fil-A comes … and opens on every corner.
➜ Many newcomers love to complain that they cannot meet anyone in Las Vegas worth meeting. I’ve covered this topic before, but I recently met a bartender—just eight months into her stint here—who was already hightailing it back home because she found it impossible to meet anyone. Hint: Maybe it’s your attitude, and not the city. But sure, we’ll be your scapegoat! Which leads to:
➜ Thanks to our “Grand Central Station” sensibility, Las Vegas has very little institutional memory on which to lean. That means the story of Las Vegas is too often framed by eager-but-clueless recent arrivals than by those who actually live it. Remember when we’d all get annoyed at the “parachuting journalists” who dropped in, looked around and then pooped on us in a major news outlet? Now, too often, they are us.
➜ Relatedly, our city attracts an interesting demographic of second-chancers, disappearing acts, gamblers, performers, carpetbaggers and con artists. That “local color” is fine by me. But the regular folks who thought Summerlin was merely Irvine with a few bingo rooms and buffets often have a difficult time accepting Sin City. That adds to a tiresome public discourse about Las Vegas that is already fairly negative.
Too many arrive with expectations that Las Vegas can’t fulfill or problems that no city can solve. As Los Angeleno Matt Kennedy once commented on a Vice story ripping Los Angeles, “People don’t get cancer here; they bring it with them.” Exactly.