Las Vegas: An American Paradox- page 5 | Travel | Smithsonian
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"You have to be grateful in Vegas. It's the great lesson of the city, the thing I'm taking as a souvenir," says J.R. Moehringer. (Jared McMillen)

Las Vegas: An American Paradox

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist J.R. Moehringer rolls the dice on life in Sin City

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(Continued from page 4)

The food, I say.

They nod.

The energy.

Of course, of course.

What I don’t say is this: I’ll miss the whole seamy, seedy, icky, apocalyptic tawdriness of it all. While I was busy hating Vegas, and hiding from Vegas, a funny thing happened. I grew to love Vegas. If you tell stories for a living or collect them for fun, you can’t help but feel a certain thrill at being in a place where the supply of stories—uniquely American stories—is endless.

That doesn’t mean I’m staying. Vegas is like the old definition of writing: though I don’t enjoy writing, I love having written. Though I didn’t enjoy Vegas, I love having lived there.

I deliver an abbreviated summary of my time in Vegas to my two friends. I hit the highlights—Caligula, Sloth, the clinic that rolled the dice with people’s colons.

“We went there,” the man says.

“We were patients,” the woman says.

“Oh no,” I say. “How awful.”

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