Late Night Listening: Goldboot, The Electric Eccentric
I’m in library school. Spring Break is coming. We’re all too old and over it but talking about our plans anyway.
“Vegas,” I say, trying to keep a straight face, because I am living a cliché. “I’m going to Vegas.”
They widen their eyes and make appreciative noises and ask For what?
I pause, organizing all the possible explanations. A music festival, I say, finally, because that’s mostly what Convergence is. There will be a fashion show and a lot of other shenanigans, I will hang out with a friends from home (by which I mean New York) and friends from afar and maybe even some people I have known for years but never met, but basically it’s a music festival. It’s close enough.
A few days later I finish my last exam or paper or whatever it is and pick up my bag and backflip myself into the slipstream, destination: Nevada. When I get there I am surprised that there really are slot machines in the airport, and that I can, in fact, see the lights of the Strip glimmering in the distance.
Unlike Pittsburgh, where I have been living, Vegas in April is hot and sunny. And now full of people in black. We learn not to make metal fingers at each other because apparently it looks like a gang sign and attracts unwanted official attention. This cuts our ability to communicate in public by about a third.
While the others are sleeping or primping I go to a fine art museum in the basement of a casino (The Bellagio?) because I have museum design homework to do and no car and I can walk there from The Flamingo. I discover that this museum is the only place in the whole town where there are no slot machines. The silence is both blessed and deafening. The art is a respite from the non-stop glitter, blinky lights and vast tides of humanity upstairs.
I also go to Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat because because I like tigers and dolphins and also it is quiet there.
The fake Rialto in the Venetian gives me déjà-vu induced vertigo.
I decide I may be constitutionally unsuited to Las Vegas.
In the evenings we go out.
Convergence is a national event. People come from everywhere, often from places with no clubs and no scene, where they are all alone, and the only other goths they know are the ones that live in their computers. But the city mice come too. This year the LA goths have shown up in force. They are all impossibly thin and have perfect teeth and remind me vaguely of preying mantises.
At one point I repair to a handicapped stall with a friend so she can fix my corset, because I’m wearing it upside down. She knows because she made it.
Later that same evening I hide in a different stall to have a five minute meltdown because everyone has one Convergence blow up in their face, and this one is mine.
At some point during the weekend I end up gaffa-taped to a slot machine. I am wearing a Poison tank top and maybe a skirt covered in tiny silver bells and am completely sober. I am with other people. We’re waiting for someone, losing nickels to kill time. Someone we vaguely know drifts by and they have gaffa tape in their pocket, because of course they do, and the next thing I know I’ve been affixed to a slot machine.
I don’t work too hard getting free because I don’t care that much and also I think it’s funny. Eventually our straggler appears and we leave and go to find food. I eat terrible cheesecake somewhere in deep in the recesses of a casino.
On Sunday, I go to mass by myself, because it’s Easter.
Church in Vegas is more sedate than I expected it would be. The palette is sandstone and cool blue, very 1970s. It makes me wonder what it would be like to live in Vegas full time, and go to that church every week.
On Monday I leave for Los Angeles, to discover that even non-fancy people live in apartment buildings like the one on Melrose Place and to visit dinosaur bones on purpose and the beach by accident.
Then I take the train most of the way home. I take a lot of pictures I will later label “maybe Utah” and discover that Texas goes on forever, even longer than Montana, which I did not think was possible. I re-read Infinite Jest while the ladies around me keep up a low hum of complaint about not being able to smoke.
Pittsburgh, when I finally get back there, is kind of chilly and still wearing the bright bruised colors of a rainy spring, but I am glad to see her just the same.