Sunday, January 29, 2006

Las Vegas (For Papa) (2002)

I remember riding in the backseat of my grandfather’s Oldsmobile watching the smooth slickness of outer Las Vegas materialized
The ride that day began at six am
If nothing else people who grow up in the old south are timely
I am wearing cut offs
my suitcase is packed to the brim with shorts swimming suit
socks and a brand new night gown that wasn’t worn and frayed.
On the way down my grandparents listen to
KBLX until we move into the Central Valley and it fades out
Then my grandfather, or HA as he known to most, slips in a Brook Benton tape
My grandmother holds onto the clothes handle as we round the curves
I slip the walkman on my ears, enjoying the cool breeze from the air conditioner that my grandfather reluctantly turns on
when Gammo says,” It is hot in this car, old man.”

A city compared to Sodom and Gomorrah
amazes me
the outskirts look so pristine
It is hot, a hundred and seven degrees
yet an oasis of beautifully blue reflecting pools beckon in the distance
At times the sandy area to the left and right
of the world become a beautiful blurring shade of pink
as if even in the hot godforsaken place there is sanctity
I listen to Tone Tony Toni over changing landscapes
Dwayne Wiggins wails “ Treat you just like a queen and give you fine things…..”
It seems as if we are driving to the edge of the earth
with my grandparents in their old style country hats
my grandmother gripping the clothes hanger drive off into the sun
And then you see the lights
first a scattering like a smatter of freckles on a place face
and then an enormity of them
A few little washed up broken looking inns and taverns become and oasis of lights
The pink sand, the not real looking lagoons, fade and pale in comparison to the mock The Sphinx the lavish welcoming slew of gaudy looking signs
There is the sweetness of cotton candy in the air, and the smell of new money

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