“So if it’s a touch of reality that isn’t pretty, then we want to get rid of it”
– Senator Dina Titus (D-NV) from About a Mountain by John D’Agata
As children, we all discover the sad reality that, a lot of the time, what you get on the inside isn’t as nice as you thought it would be due to a very flashy outside. I learned this many times with toys. What’s inside, hidden beneath foam wraps and secured by zip ties, doesn’t look like the computer edited and airbrushed toy those spiky haired kids on the box are going crazy for. The same can be said for the City of Las Vegas.
Look at the Stratosphere Hotel and Casino:
It looks so nice, so luxurious, and with a roller coaster and a drop tower, so fun. However, looks can be deceiving because it turns out people aren’t all too happy in sin city. Suicide rates in Vegas, like the Stratosphere’s mini amusement park, are sky high. But Las Vegas doesn’t want to talk about the suicide rate. They want Las Vegas to be a place for fun. Midway through his novel length lyric essay, D’Agata manages to track down the only Vegas resident willing to comment on suicide. His name is Ron Flud and he says, “Las Vegas is our home. It can be wild and it can be fun, but it’s also a place with more suicides than anywhere else in America…we can’t fix the problem if we don’t actually acknowledge it.”
There is a bit of controversy surrounding John D’Agata’s About a Mountain. Some people are upset that he adjusted some facts in order to make his piece prettier and more artistic. Some think its wrong to give false information. Other, myself included, don’t really give a shit…He wrote a good book that made me think about the environment, the government, and commercialism in new and interesting lights. No one should care if he wrote that there are 34 strip clubs in Vegas when really there are only 31.
Las Vegas is a very artificial place. In fact, entrepreneurs in Vegas go as far as to supply attractive people for parties or public events to enhance surface appearance. Its fake, it works, it’s called party filling.
Heres how Hotels.com portrays a room at the Stratosphere:
Big flat screen TV, nice lamp, expensive looking chairs, flowers, and a wide window with a perfect view of the city.
I guess they forgot to mention the stucco ceilings, small window, cheap lamps and hanging light that provides a depressing yellow glow.
So if D’Agata altered the truth to make the result more aesthetically pleasing, it’s not the end of the world. Vegas has been doing it since the 60’s and no one’s giving them a hard time.