Last night we went to the new Horseshoe Casino in downtown Cincinnati. It's right next door to the county jail, a blank slate of conspicuous consumption, gold-plated and sort of monolithic. As we walked toward the edifice, firetrucks were pulling up to the main entrance. Someone had collapsed just outside from the front doors. What a beautiful introduction. The anonymity of emergency workers attending to an emergency.
And once inside it smelled like a brand-new house, plastic and clean and slightly chemical. I wanted to write a sonnet or something about the feeling: the newness of it all, and how vice has a sheen to it when it is first born that can only last maybe 6 months, and then everything just starts smelling like old mop-water and burnt nerves. Right now though there is a cheer in the air, and all the lights in all the signs are shining bright. People are comfortably seated before gambling machines, like blank-eyed fighter-pilots in cockpits, and it's heaven. No one pays attention to anyone here. They are focused. It's a lovely sensation, everyone all super-obsessed with what they know they have to do. In this case, it's winning. But mostly they'll just lose. Which is okay too because there's a big buffet called Spread and Bobby Flay has a new burger restaurant. And over there is a Starbuck's. And Jimmy Buffet's got his whole cantina-thing going on.
I like the desperation inherent in this thing, that fever that seems to percolate through the ductwork and into the velvety atmosphere. People are alert to the pulsations of their own sad little pleasures. But it's not actually "sad" until after. Everything glitters right now. It feels like you aren't anywhere when you're inside here, which is the suspended animation people need to escape what they need. This is all want and beautiful abandon. You can say it's recreational of course, and it is I guess, but gambling is keen on the stress of its own practice. The anxiety of losing/winning/losing/winning is the kick, the reason for the season. Without that danger, it's just a big plush bar. Or a zoo for people-watchers to stroll through. That's me. I don't gamble, but I sure do appreciate the glow of it in people's faces, and that sensation of knowing it's all sin, and sin is just like everything else. That's sort of comforting.
I hope the guy who collapsed out front last night is okay.