You climb out of the Mojave past dry lakes and the ruins of a water slide park, passing present and future ghost towns. Driving past turnoffs for military bases and prisons, you crest the pass that divides some of the nation’s most restrictive gun laws from some of the most permissive. Then you plunge into Atlantis.
Hunter Thompson called this place “atavistic” in 1971 — a cultural throwback. That was a decade before Reagan was elected, then Bush senior, the oil wars, and the ever-mounting tower of debt now threatening to throw civilization itself into confusion and ruin. Talk about fear and loathing.
We arrived as the eighth Republican presidential debate was wrapping up in Las Vegas. With the sun setting, black helicopters sliced across the sky from the Strip to the airport. Satellite trucks stayed humming away for hours, tucked next to replica Venetian canals, replica pirate ships, opulent fountains. I turned on Fox News in the hotel room and we sipped tequila as Michele Bachmann stared straight into our eyes and told us to buy real estate. “That kind of makes sense, with the dollar at parity,” I caught myself thinking. A little pied-à-terre in Vegas. A fine idea.
(Continue reading at TheTyee.ca)