Archive for September 2007
I got a map of all the hiking trails in Red Rock out of a cool little newsletter the BLM publishes for Red Rock Canyon park. I have decided to hike all of them and document them here in my blog. Today was my first hike, to Pine Creek Canyon (I have hiked up to Calico Tanks before, but I’m starting over with this new map so I can mark them all off). So, without further ado,
Stats from the BLM newsletter:
Pine Creek Canyon
Easy-Moderate | 300 ft [90m] | 2 hours | 3 miles [4.8km]
This trail takes you across the open desert, past an old homestead site and into the canyon. You may find seasonal waterfalls. Unimproved trails in the canyon require some tricky rock scrambling.
This is a picture of the trail head, about mile 12 into the 13 mile loop. Allison and I met at 9 this morning and started about 10 by the time we reached the trail. It took almost exactly two hours. It was pretty easy, but there were a few times we had to scramble over rocks, but mostly that was because we got off the trail a little bit.
We found the remains of the homestead on the way back. It’s just a concrete base, but the area is lovely and incredibly lush for the desert. We didn’t really see waterfalls, per se, but we did see some little streams (water unsafe to drink).
We didn’t see much wildlife on this trip, which was a bit disappointing. I saw a few birds (probably ravens). We did see a couple of chameleons, and Allison said she saw one change color, but I didn’t. Which was sad. Because that would have been awesome.
Currently listening to Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd
Nastier than the hollowed-out rotting corpse of a porpoise.
Make otherwise normal feet look like trapped wedges of festering flesh.
Contort the body in a way that looks unnatural and nauseating
Make feet look like man-eating, disembodied crescents, garbled and malevolent.
Off the feet, they’re limp and filthy, like a discarded condom found next to a dumpster.
Staring at ballet slippers is like taking a tour through a meat-packing plant: the tallow and gristle of the corpses make you want to never eat meat again.
To touch them is like handling a rotting corpse of a pig-sty jellyfish.
I hate the way people curve their feet in them, it always reminds me of someone who has taken arsenic, and whose spine is curling wrong-ways, until it cracks and kills its victim.
Just think: actual animals have been killed and repurposed into these flimsy, filmy, ballon-like sacks of sloth afterbirth.
I hate ballet slippers. The very word ‘slippers’ angers me, intoxicates my rage. I’ve hated them from the first moment I saw them, even as a child.
Currently listening to Hail to the Thief by Radiohead
Woke up at 6:45am and went to the gym before work to work out. I’m actually kind of proud of myself. I’m notorious for snoozing for an hour and barely making it to work. I might, might try it again tomorrow. Feels good to have the workout done, and it went pretty fast.
I just got to work and made a pot of coffee that tastes suspiciously like Golden Crisp cereal.
Currently listening to Era Vulgaris by Queens of the Stone Age
New ad I made for the new magazine I’m designing. I’ve been busy at work lately. It’s deadline time with our magazine, I’m doing a twelve page newsletter every two weeks, and I’m in charge of all kinds of new ads and redesigning one magazine and designing a second.
It’s fall, or as close to fall as the desert gets. Yay, I am happy. This is the best season.
PS: Does anyone know if “til” or “till” is correct? I don’t.
Currently listening to Wincing the Night Away by The Shins
I got free tickets to Zumanity. I took Amber. It was awesome! The stage was all red and velvety, there was live music, and dancing like I’ve never seen in my entire life. Cirque du Soleil never disappoints.
In other news, it’s cooler in my house tonight. THANK GOD. I will be able to sleep, yay!
Currently listening to The Lonesome Crowded West by Modest Mouse
20 something gigs of music on my iPod and I’m bored of it all. The only thing to do is illegally download more music or shuffle the songs in the hope that the randomness will pump some lifeblood back into the song library. Downloading music takes time and energy. So I’m shuffling songs. Shuffling songs is interesting because it’s unpredictable (unless you cheat and peek at the queue). It has a subtle way of reminding you how much you do love your music.
I am always interested in seeing how My Past Self has rated songs. I have rated almost all of my music in my iTunes. The scale rating is between one and five stars. Sometimes, when I’m on these random shuffles, I am reintroduced to a song, out of context from its album, which catches my attention. Listening to something out of context, if the mood is right, can make an ok song great. One song in particular is Bjork’s “Desired Constellation” from the album Medulla. I originally gave this song a rating of only two stars, which means I don’t like it very much. However, hearing it again now, I like it much more. The rating goes up.
I hate being at my house these days. Hating how hot it is and how I feel trapped to do nothing about it. I discussed in a previous post that my roommate and I decided to not run the air conditioning anymore because our electricity bill was outrageous. I thought I would be ok, I said I could quit anytime I wanted to. It’s the second half of September, I have my window open. I didn’t realize just what I would be giving up. It’s super hot in my room, and the only way I can tolerate it is to strip down to my underwear and wait for it to get cooler. My fan doesn’t help. It just seems to push air on me, which makes me angry.
I think about air conditioning like a junky: Maybe I could turn it on for a little bit. Just a teensy little bit. I would feel OK after twenty minutes. Then I could turn it off and we could forget it ever happened. Problem is, my roommate’s home and she would notice I turned it on. Then I would have to explain to her why I breached our contract. I don’t like those types of confrontation. And I can’t handle paying that insane bill again.
Since I don’t like being here, I’ll do anything to get out of the house and spend as much time as I can out until the middle of October, which seems like a date when it will be naturally, sufficiently cool in my house. Problem is, my job pays beans and thus, I’m incredibly poor these days. So I have to get creative about what I do when I’m not in the house, because being out of the house makes me want to get rid of my money,and I simply have none to get rid of that isn’t already used up for bills. I’ve tried exercising. That’s helping. Riding my bike, because, wouldn’t you know it, it’s wonderfully cool outside. But none of that seems to be getting in the house, even though I have the window open. I have gym membership that I have ignored all summer. Truth is, I actually DO go to the gym, but I can’t make myself do a single damn thing when I feel like a sausage covered in a thin layer of white gravy. So I sit. Or leave.
Side note: I came upon a Calexico song in my music shuffle, which just made me skip the shuffle and go straight to my list of Calexico songs. They’re so excellent, especially for the desert. They sound like a lost country band from Mexico with silky melodies borne out of camp fires and twilight on the range just south of the border. You must listen. And think of how dry it is here in Nevada. It rains just 5 times a year.
Tonight I went to one of the local farmer’s markets with Andrea. We arrived at 7:15. It was almost dark. I got a hot dog from a stand and a roasted corn on the cob that was only half cooked but I couldn’t bring myself to tell the man from whom I bought the corn because he was such a sweet little old guy. It was a small market, but the hot dog vendor made a point: it’s the desert, we have to ship everything in, so farmer’s markets will never be like the ones you see in California.
I brought my camera, but I didn’t take any pictures because I forgot to. Mostly I shouldn’t care, because there wasn’t anything spectacular at the market, but partly I do care, because, for some reason, I feel a strange urge to photograph everything. To catalog everything everything everything about my life with my digital camera. It’s so easy to use, my digital camera. I snap the picture, the picture sits on my camera until I upload it to my computer. Then it lives there forever. I can return to my iPhoto at any time to see where I have been and what I have been doing in the last year. Cataloging and chronicalling have always been a half-assed passion of mine. I have been doing it in one form or another since I was a child.
In fifth grade, my friend Dixie Bush and I decided that we could become spies and keep tabs on everyone in school if we only knew their grades. In order to do this, we decided that we could collect from the wastebasket in the corner by the pencil sharpener the discarded pop quizzes and spelling lists tossed there by the students. We would be scrupulous (and covert) about collecting every paper in the wastebasket, and making a list of all the students and averaging the grades on the tossed tests and assignments into overall grades. We figured that by the time report cards came, no one would be the wiser and we would know the grades of everyone. At the time, this did not seem like a flawed method. It sounded perfect, and sneaky. It lasted for one day, and I was the only one who did the wastebasket collecting. Thankfully my mind did not continue in this way, or I might be one of those poor people who collects recyclable materials out of everyone’s trash so that they may eat dinner and perhaps have enough money to sleep at the YMCA. And then the fifth grade logic begins to unravel…
But still, I gather and I chronicle. Part of it must be locked somewhere deep in the primordial ooze that inhabits my center. Something about collecting and storing for future use just in case, JUST IN CASE has a stranglehold on my subconscious, because I never can never satiate my appetite for recording everything.
I also like collecting information OTHERS have gathered. This is why I love books. I have quite a few, but considering the book collections of a few of my friends, I am not the only one embedded with the collector dna. I was wandering around The District tonight,a posh shopping center in Henderson. I went into a Williams Sonoma. I like Williams Sonoma, they’re the richer, snobbier distant aunt of Crate and Barrel, my one true retail obsession. We don’t have Crate and Barrel in Las Vegas for me to drool over, and I can afford to purchase nothing online, so I have to content myself with surrogate Williams Sonoma. I walked in there tonight, ogling the super expensive, super colorful Le Creuset dutch ovens and mini pots. I glanced around and had a moment where I almost had to buy a funny looking whisk, but I resisted. But what trapped me the longest was the large and impressive cook book section they have. Now, I love books, and I love kitchen ware, and I especially love food. And when the three are combined it is potentially dangerous.
I started perusing the books. Martha Stewart seems a little omniscient a tad bit evil and sterile, but my oh my the design is beautiful in her cook books. Oh yes, I love design too. I immediately got that urge to buy every book in the store. But I took a deep breath, counted to ten, and left the store with my wallet intact. See how far I have come?
Ah well, I’m rambling. But I’m so god damn hot and typing doesn’t make me much hotter. I was reading a book lent to me by Chops, JPOD by Douglas Coupland. It’s fun. Writing and reading are the only activities I can face when I am hot and stinky. I should get my head wet and try to go to sleep.
Currently listening to Calexico
Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips
I went with Ambie Pambie to see the Flaming Lips at the Palms on Sunday. They are SO fun to see live. They have great colors flashing and exploding confetti and they’re phenomenal musicians and performers. Plus Wayne talked a lot. I always like when the musicians talk. Below are some of my favorite photos.
In other news, my roommate and I have decided to stop running the air conditioning, because our electrical bill was OUT OF CONTROL again this month, and there is no way I can afford to pay it, so we’ve decided to stop using the AC altogether. Argh. I am not happy. Although it’s September, it’s still in the 90s here in Las Vegas, and it’s still 83 in the house, even at night. I have a difficult time going to sleep.
I’m getting pissier by the hour. I’m ready to start crackin’ skulls. I haven’t started riding my bike to work yet, and keep putting it off because I’m going to wake up in a bad mood until I can wake up in 70 degrees (or less) fahrenheit.
I’m eating Mexican Otter Pops like they’re going out of style.
Currently listening to Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots by The Flaming Lips
There it is, that mean and wondrous wench. The best place and worst place in America, a place where dreams come true, where people are destroyed, a place that doesn’t care about the past, and is a vision of the future, where capitalism is displayed in all its glory and horror, where everything and anything can be bought, sold, traded or stolen, where some of the smartest and most ambitious people in the country come to make their fortunes, where some of the absolute worst and most despicable people in the country come to make their fortunes. It is corrupt, dirty and disgusting, and in five hundred years its massive buildings, thought of as garish and ridiculous, will be considered marvels. It is a giant carnival devoted to the glory of money and everything money can do, both good and evil, and there is plenty of both. -James Frey
Today, September 15, marks one whole year that I have been living in Las Vegas. And what do I think of Las Vegas, what have I learned? I have learned that it doesn’t matter from which part of the world you hail before you arrive in Las Vegas. Las Vegas runs on its own clock and calendar. Screw Greenwich Mean Time, it’s Las Vegas Mean Time.
Las Vegas is the melting pot of the melting pot. The culture of Las Vegas exists purely as an amalgamation of the best parts of all other cultures, rebuilt not as testaments to history or architecture, but rather simply to put a sparkle in the eye of the consumer, be they ham-fisted mouth-breathers or the elegantly refined. The vision of the Las Vegas strip creates a particular brand of euphoria generated by the collision of several world wonders mimicked and re-purposed, their charm and grandeur simmered and reduced in order to prick and bleed pure glee out of the public.
It doesn’t matter where you were or who you were in your life prior to moving to Las Vegas. Once you move here, you have to suck it up and get into a long line of other newcomers, as many as 4000 coming in a month, where you wait to arrive at the door of a proverbial nightclub. At this club, the bouncer may or may not let you inside, depending on who you know. If you know the right people, it’s high rolling and great business opportunities and free everything. And if you don’t know the right people, you’ll quickly find yourself trapped in a circular room which has walls lined with nothing but locked doors.
Since I have been here, I have made friends, enemies, gotten hired and fired. I’ve had smoke blown up my ass, and probably blown smoke up other’s asses as well. I’ve had to reevaluate everything I have thought, known and expected about myself and my talents and skills, and put it all on the line for a chance at an unsatisfying job in a notorious market. I am happy to say that I am beyond that now. Even though my job is barely paying me enough to get by, at least I am happy being there.
I still have so much to learn here. I still have so much to experience and see in this town. There are infinite new experiences in Las Vegas. James Frey was dead right when he said that Las Vegas doesn’t care about the past and is a vision of the future. This town is never static, never still. It is the moving, changing beast whose growth continues to increase exponentially every year. It’s shape is carved by the Collective Entertainment Desire of America. Will there be a breaking point? When the greed finally spirals out of control, what will happen to Las Vegas? Will it empty out like so many other ghost mining towns in Nevada?
People keep building hotels, people keep coming here. Lake Mead is draining by 8 feet every year. Las Vegas is a thirsty, hungry, horny town that isn’t replenishing what it’s taking from the earth. But people want their grass green, and their palm trees high, and their daily showers, so we keep eagerly feeding them what small amount of water we have. I’ve got news for you, deluded citizens of Las Vegas: we live the desert. It’s hot and it’s dry. There are over 100 days out of the year where temperatures are in the triple digits. Trying to maintain a lush and verdant environment is a waste of time and resources. It’s nothing more than a comfort to those not used to the starkness of rocks and dirt and sand.
And while I do admit it is nice to see patches of green now and then, I moved here knowing I was planting myself square in the Mojave Desert, where it rains less than four inches a year, where it rains about 6 times in a whole year. Paradoxically, if it wasn’t for the desert, I would not still be here in Las Vegas. Parks such as Red Rock, Valley of Fire and others have been my sanctuary. They have been the quiet center I can retire too when my mind is whirling from neon and noise and the pressure, pressure, pressure. Pressure that Las Vegas puts on you to network with executives, to drive fast, to become successful, and to spend, spend, spend. The pressure can be unbelievable. This city is a pressure cooker.
Is Las Vegas everything critics say it is? Is it an unhealthy glorification of excess, a heedless abuse of natural resources, a hole of wanton corruption, and an enabling mecca for dirty sex and dirtier greed? Is it simply one giant slot machine with the entire planet frantically trying pull down the great lever? I can only answer this question by first asking another: Is there not something about our collective humanity, while it may dismiss Las Vegas as the hot little center of sin, which also secretly embraces it as a haven for absolute hedonistic freedom and a much-needed abandonment from responsibility?
Is Las Vegas a town which we are unwilling to admit we ourselves have enthusiastically created?
In closing, I must say that, despite what I have written above, I do like living here. There is no city that even comes close to being like Las Vegas. It is a crazy town and I am certainly proud to say that I live here. If for nothing else, but for the stories I will be able to tell at some distant point in my future life. While others around me recount their various experiences in cities and countries, I will be able to say, with a giant smile on my face, that I once lived in Sin City.
Who are these people, these faces? Where do they come from? They look like caricatures of used car dealers from Dallas, and sweet Jesus, there were a hell of a lot of them at 4:30 on a Sunday morning, still humping the American dream, that vision of the big winner somehow emerging from the last minute pre-dawn chaos of a stale Vegas casino. -Hunter S. Thompson
We’re half-awake in a Fake Empire. -The National