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July 26, 2004


Russell Arben Fox

Hugo, another fine post. (I've been reading; just haven't had the time or opportunity to write or respond much lately.) I don't think you should apologize at all for your "censorious streak," though obviously attempting to live up to or implement that streak in a place like Las Vegas is probably a fool's errand. When we lived in Utah, long before our girls were born, Melissa and I visited the city a couple of times, and on each occasion just felt assaulted: by the corrupted commodification of sexuality, by the addictions which surrounded us, by the unabashed embrace of the cheap and the crude, all tarted up and sold as "great family entertainment." Obviously, you need to distinguish between the Strip and the city; while the desert isn't my preferred living environment, I can see that the city itself has a lot going for it. (Though the degree to which its civic body is parasitic upon the values of the Strip is worth pondering.) Moreover, I realize that there is kind of social argument in favor of a place like the Las Vegas Strip: assuming we can't eliminate vice from the human soul, then vice has got to have a home somewhere. I guess what really offended Melissa and I was the obvious degree to which the corporate bosses behind Vegas strove to present their entertainment as "normal," as something as legitimate a diversion, as appropriate for children, as compatible with ordinary (one hopes) egalitarian life, as a family camping trip.

One things for sure: we won't be taking the girls there anytime soon.

P.S. Congratulations on your engagement.


Thanks Russell. I do agree that the desert is magnificent; the best part of the trip is looking at the rock formations as the plane descends into McCarran Airport.

Jonathan Dresner

We overnighted in Las Vegas on our way back here, and while we didn't really have time for shows and touring, I spent a little time in a casino. Enjoying gambling seems to require a few things that I don't have: equanimity about the money you're spending/losing (we budgeted a small amount for this, but at the tail end of an expensive trip, it still seemed wasteful); ignorance of the odds (the house wins, overall. They can't do that unless lots and lots of people lose); no desire for winning big (except for a few very unusual cases, it takes a lot of money to win a lot of money); perfect self-control (I could have walked away a few bucks ahead, or at least even, if I had stopped at just the right moment; I guess prescience helps, too); enough time and money to get some skill and savvy (even the slots require some understanding of probability and return to make sense of; games like blackjack [where I spent most of my time] and craps and roulette have very particular probability guidelines which can, if not help you win, at least keep you closer to even longer).

In short, it's a sucker's game where the most common payoff is a false adrenaline rush, and I didn't have the time, money or inclination to enjoy that particular sucker's game. My feelings afterwards were not too different from yours.

Ralph Luker

I share the sentiments of Hugo, Russell, and Jonathan. My only experience in Nevada was when the OAH met in Reno about 12 years ago. The place pretty much horrified me, especially that parents would take children to such a place. I do fondly recall having a good meal at a Basque restaurant, but there wasn't much else that told me I needed to revisit the place.


Hurray on your engagement! Many happy thoughts to you...I love being married...for me its been the fun of having a permanent conspirator with secret decoder rings and everything!

I hate Las Vegas. Technically, I've been there a few times although I'm usually asleep in the wee hours of the morning after I've finished my leg of the Baker to Vegas run. I just usually shower, change, eat and fly home. The one time I actually “went to Vegas,” the only real fun was laughing at the sheer ridiculousness of it all. Unfortunately, the sadness seems to overwhelm even the most ludicrous moments, making it more depressing than funny. And I have a really evil (let me emphasize, really evil) sense of humor, so when I stop laughing…its bad.

jen lemen

mrs. schwyzer? this surprises me, hugo!
have i missed the posts about sharing a name?
fill me in! :)
i live in takoma park where it is exceedingly rare to ever meet a woman who has taken her husband's name, unless of course, he took hers, too. i hide out behind my married name to keep me in hiding for a lifetime from all my lovely ex-boyfriends.


When she told me she was willing to take my last name, I was floored and honored. I posted on this subject a couple of months ago; I'll have to find the link. Like a lot of men, I have officially pretended not to care, all the while very much hoping that she would indeed be willing to take my name. It says a lot about her own sense of self, and her trust in me. Or so I choose to believe.

jen lemen

that's great!
many blessings to you both.
and i would love to read that post!


Here it is, jen, from April:


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