Preparing for Las Vegas
Have I mentioned that I hate Las Vegas? My hatred for Las Vegas is juvenile and irrational and represents what is probably the last strand of my nearly resigned defiance for all things bourgeois, fascist, bogus, and generally lame. I’ve softened up a lot over the last 10 years, but Vegas hardens me anew. I hate Las Vegas. The place is soulless, hollow, utterly putrid, infested with sickness, vice, and abandon, driven by all that is dirty and unholy (I kinda like that part, actually), and, above all, fake. So incredibly fake, in fact, that one just has to marvel at its surface shine, its cardboard towers and phony waterfalls, its ridiculously realistic gondolas and Parisian skies. It’s incredible that we’ve managed to build Las Vegas at all, more incredible that we actually would: a city that’s like a bad and unnecessary cover version of so many of our truly wonderful creations. Las Vegas is Christy Baron doing “Ain’t No Sunshine,” Rebecca Pidgeon doing “Wouldn’t It Be Nice?,” Britney Spears doing “Satisfaction.”
Miley Cyrus doing “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
In Las Vegas, you have to wait years before you can safely cross the quietest of streets. Who built this city, anyway? Oh, yes: Criminals. It's no surprise that Stephen King chose Las Vegas as the headquarters of evil when he wrote The Stand.
I get annoyed with Rosemarie for even liking Las Vegas. You like Las Vegas? What is wrong with you, evil woman? Get away from me, shoo. Cough, burp, belch, etc.
Ah, but I’m being unfair to Las Vegas. (You see? I’m soft.) Las Vegas is fine and home to many beautiful people. It’s just not for me. Most likely, my pathetic hatred for Las Vegas stems from the quality of time I spend there: Racing from hotel to hotel, from one smoky casino floor to the next, forgetting meals, praying against illness, attempting to cover as much as possible during each Consumer Electronics Show. It would be fairer to say that I’d rather stay home.
But my ticket has been purchased, the room has been reserved, I’ve accepted invitations to dinners and to demos. There’s no turning back now.
Each year, despite my feelings, I attend CES with the best intentions, hoping to run rings around the other reporters, to be the life of the party, to blog so hard the system crashes, to see and hear it all. And, invariably, I leave Las Vegas feeling that I’ve failed. I think, this year, I will tell myself to adhere to more realistic goals, to do only what I can, to take care of myself, to drink lots of water, to ingest my vitamins and say my prayers, and to come home feeling healthy and satisfied, while knowing that all such plans will fly out the window and land onto Las Vegas Boulevard where they will mingle in the dead, still air with those little advertisements for carnal pleasures, as soon as I check into my room at Harrah’s.
John Atkinson is aware of this thing, this mission impossible. So, he has given specific assignments to the seven Stereophile writers on hand: John will cover expensive loudspeakers, defined as those priced over $15,000/pair; Robert Deutsch will cover loudspeakers priced below $15,000/pair; Michael Fremer will cover analog; Kalman Rubinson will cover multichannel; Jon Iverson will cover digital; Larry Greenhill will cover expensive amplification; and I will cover budget-priced amplification. We will all cover those cables, accessories, and sundries that we find interesting, while Michael Lavorgna, Tyll Hertsens, and the team at Home Theater will cover their respective beats. And I’m sure we’ll converge at various intersections within our broad categories.
And we will have some fun: Jon Iverson, Michael Lavorgna, and I have decided to lead the first of what I hope will be many milkshake-drinking competitions. Publisher Keith Pray and sales coordinator Rosemarie Torcivia have gotten in on the action, too. Perhaps even John Atkinson will partake in the milkshake festivities. We plan to see who can consume the most frozen, blended milk over the course of the Consumer Electronics Show. Let the best man be lactose tolerant. As of now, odds are that Jon Iverson will come out on top; he’s been training for this for years.
Word on the AudioStream is that there will be some fist-pumping going on, too. So, we’ll see. Perhaps Las Vegas has its redeeming qualities, after all. Please keep up with us as we report from the Show. And pray for our souls.