Way Behind, or Sin City

May 18, 2005|Posted in: Uncategorized

Holy smoke, I’ve been gone to Las Vegas to a convention of city and regional magazines, and so glad to be back! I took along my laptop with the intention of blogging my way through the dull seminars, and found that A) there was no wireless Internet to be had at my hotel (though I could have plugged in for $11 per hour), and B) the seminars were not boring — a delightful discovery. Anyway, no wireless, no $ to blow on the other, and no time. So I’m lagging instead of blogging. And carried that laptop to Vegas and back for…(say it with me) absolutely nothing.

I sat down and tried to record some thoughts partway through the first day with no luck — too swamped to get more than a few lines typed before I had to run to the next session. So all I have is a list of mental impressions, which I will now list as an image poem:

The breath-taking loveliness of the red rock mountains in a ring around the high desert town of Las Vegas (reminded me so much of TS Eliot’s “The Waste Land,” — “Come in under the shadow of this red rock…I will show you fear in a handful of dust…”). The vastness of the hotel carpets, and their seemingly endless lengths down corridors identical and numberless, heading toward far ends of hallways like a perspective drawing. The quantities of exposed bosom. The sad fool who declared his love for me at the swimming pool, and proposed marriage after five minutes’ banter. His disappointment upon my negative response. The pleasure of seeing Joshilyn Jackson’s book reviewed and profiled in several regional magazines. The blue tint of cigarette smoke in every room. The desert heat, hot like a boot in the back, liquid and sensuous as satin after dark. The summer scents of coconut oil, chlorine, melon and tequila. The endless songs of Barry Manilow in literally every elevator and piped-in speaker. The beauty of certain women. A woman in tears walking past me in the crowds Sunday night along the Strip. The surprising glamour of neon and spotlights. Showgirls.

How the Paris hotel looks a little like Paris but feels nothing like Paris. The well-mannered Pakistani man who asked me to take his photo; only after I finished did I realize that he was dressed like a Star Trek character. The silent glide of the Monorail. The graceful arch of palm trees. The howling hurricane of wind that swept through Monday, something like 50 mph. The grit in my eyes as I defied it and lay by the pool anyway. The pleasure of connecting with my sweetheart by phone after two days of tag. The pleasure of returning home to him and a dozen red roses at the airport. The intensity of meeting so many people, taking notes, rushing from room to room, drinking too much coffee and too much wine, not enough fruits and veggies and definitely not enough chocolate.

How some people are instantly friendly (smart and funny) while others are dumb as toads no matter what you say to them. How a continental breakfast sucks. The savory wonder of bacon after several days’ lack. The tragedy of certain performers playing gigs in Vegas, and nobody shutting up to listen or attend to the show. The lack of clocks, windows or newspapers. The incessant torture of air conditioning, ruining the beloved blast of heat. The naughty pleasure of a (forbidden) suntan. The best cup of coffee in days. The hedonism of an expensive meal in a decadent restaurant. Feeding baguettes to the swans. Discovering that mirages do exist — that the eye can be fooled by heat, light and distance.

The quiet enjoyment of a glossy magazine in bed or at the pool. The satisfaction in putting together the creation called a magazine. Meeting other creative minds. Scoring free stuff for Alameda Literati. Buying ticky-tacky souvenirs.

And so on.

Lots more to say — about my latest column, about the beautiful Bo Bice and current crisis at the Sun, but this cowgirl is tired. Tye-red. And so to bed, as Sammy Pepys would say. And so to bed.

Advice to Aspiring Writers: Lists are good — as a starting point.

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Julia Park Tracey is an award-winning journalist, author, and blogger. She is the author of six books: three novels, one poetry collection, and two women's history. She was the Poet Laureate of Alameda, California, in 2014-17. She's also the conservatrix of The Doris Diaries, the diaries of her great-aunt Doris Bailey Murphy. She has a BA in journalism from San Francisco State University, and MA in Early 20th C. British Literature from Cal State Hayward. Julia's articles have appeared on Salon, Thrillist, Paste, Scary Mommy, Narratively, Yahoo News, Your Tango, and Sweatpants & Coffee. Her articles have also run in Redbook, Woman's Day, Country Living, House Beautiful, Town & Country, the San Francisco Chronicle, Oakland Magazine, Quill, and MadeLocal. She was the founding editor of weekly Alameda Sun and literary zine Red Hills Review. Her poetry has been in The East Bay Literary review, Postcard Poems, Americus Review, Cicada, Tiferet Review, and many others. Julia has been recognized several times by the San Francisco, East Bay and Peninsula Press Clubs as well as the California Newspaper Association for her blogging since 2003.

1 Comment

  1. noreply@blogger.com'

    Anonymous
    May 18, 2005

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    “Forbidden suntan” — what a great phrase.

    An excellent record name. Or band name. Or book name.

    Or mebbe an obscure but evocative name for some travelling band of jugglers.

    I would pay $10 cash to sit and watch bowling pins spiral through the air, as orchestrated by “The Many Hands of ‘Forbidden Suntan.'”

    -Cecil Vortex

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