Las Vegas: An American Paradox

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

"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)
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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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