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Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
"No, really!"

My Favorite Bit of Paper Cup Philosophy

The Way I See It #76

The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating - in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

For Kirk and For Tag ~ Excuse Me, That's Boneyard

So, 'tend friends Kirk and Tag - who don't feel so 'tend any more, but feel like actual friends - were saying they appreciated the artistry of old neon lights and I mentioned the Las Vegas Neon Museum and the Las Vegas Neon Graveyard. I commented I'd try to get a few pictures and I started Googling. Well, folks, I have lived here awhile, but I monkeyed up the name of one of those institutions. It's the Las Vegas Neon Boneyard. But a rose by any other name . . . . .

The Museum is in the Fremont Street Experience and is designed to attract visitors and tourists to a walking tour. The signs there have been completely restored any they can be observed with the neon glowing as they would have appeared in "the day".

I prefer to view the signs at the Boneyard where many are in pieces and some wits have artfully placed all or parts of certain signs in tableaux that make one think or laugh out loud. At the Boneyard, the signs have not been restored and one may not see the neon glowing. The paintwork is generally bad, with bare spots, scrapes and fading apparent. Some of the signs are not truly neon, but electric. Most of them have bulbs missing, supporting structures bent or broken. The signs are perched on hardscrabble, rocky, desert hardpack - no kid glove handling here. They bake in the summer and freeze in the winter, exposed to the elements. They look very forlorn when heaped with snow. And they are surrounded by miles of chain link fence.

One might wonder what is the attraction of piles of broken old metal and glass signs announcing places that may or may not exist any longer or that may presently be in their latest Las Vegas reincarnation. For me, it's simply a magnetic draw to old, charming, quirky, nostalgic things in a style no longer seen. A look at a 1950s-looking object causes me to envision ladies with pincurled hair, pumps with thick clunky heels, a fur stole and pearls. The "Cocktails, Steak, Chicken" sign above puts me in mind of art deco, which puts me in mind of the 20s. Las Vegas would have been very young then. That sign would surely have resided in the old area of downtown.

In the predawn of the Bicentennial Day, a young man and woman aged 22 and 23, drove into Las Vegas in their 1972 VW Beetle. They were moving to Las Vegas to live that day. They had driven through the Mojave from Los Angeles during the night as that VW had no air conditioning and it was July in the desert. They had four tiny kittens and all their worldly possessions contained in that small car. She was a bit sentimental and suggested they pull into the city with a drive along the Strip ~ their entrance into this fascinating new place. As they progressed, they/he/she/I saw many of the signs shown in this post glowing in the desert darkness. For the Algiers Motel and the Silver Slipper were booming then. The goliath Aladdin on top of The Aladdin really did hold that magic lamp in his hands.

I've already written much about how I don't care much for Las Vegas. I might as well live in Nebraska for all the Las Vegas-y things I do. But I do care, a lot, for my history and what's gone before and what's left to come. I remember that ride into the city. I was young and had my whole life ahead of me. I was a dreamer and I thought I knew how it would play out. I was mistaken. I remember the warm air coming in through the windows of that car and I remember all the sights that dazzled me. So you see, by their place in my past, the signs have become venerable things.

I allowed to Kirk as how I'd happily go up and over that chain link fence to mingle with the signs, and I'd like to convince a marvelous photographer to go with me. Oh, yes, I can and have, in recent years, managed to overcome a chain link fence barrier between me and a destination. But I would be concerned about getting camera, tripod and two adults up and over without harm or attracting attention, so it is a scheme unlikely to be played out. Still, I would like to visit the signs in privacy. Not with the infrequent tours in the company of the general public. As one would go to an actual cemetery to pay one's respects.

In my ears right now: Still REM, but I'm a little tender today, so it's "Everybody Hurts". I should probably stop playing it soon and look for something more lively.

Something that charmed me: Another job booked on another strangely named street in our city ~ Lavender Lion Street. I guess home dudes won't be gored or devoured on that job, either.


  1. This is so wonerful and you are so talented. How many of these signs have we seen through the years in movies and TV.
    My Las Vegas experience consists of playing slot machines at the Airport on an hour layover in 1977. But through these signs and riding along on your bus I feel as if I know this city. Today's word verification was hella--as in hella of a good post Limes.

  2. Oh, I'm glad you spotted it so quickly! I thought you'd enjoy it. Hope Kirk sees it pretty soon as well.

    1977 - Tomorrow's date in that year is the day Ex and I finally married after living together for many years. 32 years ago.

    And now, I must correct your grammar, according to home dudes. Not "hella of a good post, Limes" but "hella good post, Limes". At least according to home dudes. I'm no expert.

  3. When I said "neon" I guess any sign where the words or "drawing" lights up, but the background, backdrop, whatever you call it stays dark. That "Wedding Chapel" sign for instant, that's lightbulbs, not neon tubes, but whatever it is, I think it's cooler if just the words light up, rather than the red backdrop. Since it daytime, and the sign's junked, I'll never know. I don't know why I prefer that kind of lighting. From watching old movies, I guess. Thanks for the tour, Limes.

  4. I just read back what I wrote. What the hell am I trying to say? If there was such a thing as, say, a neon Burger King sign, you would see the words "Burger" and "King" and the outline of a hamburger, but the brown of the buns. Does that clarify it a bit?

  5. No, Limes, it shouldn't be completely understood, because I should have said NOT the brown of the buns. There! Now it makes sense.

    If anyone's still awake.

  6. No, I did actually get that. You stumbled on your words, but I knew what you meant. I'm still awake. It's only 3:00 in the afternoon. I've got hours of my day left yet. ;}

  7. That's why I like the beaches. So many brown buns:)

  8. I keep forgetting about the three hour time difference.

  9. @ Kirk - oh, yeah! While you're starting your evening, I've still got several hours to go.

    @ Tag - ahem.

  10. Beaches are good. So many like long walks on the beach (why are they living here?). I like long walks on the beach, too. I mean really long walks. Like after an hour or so I don't want to hear "I'm tired!" So, bring a tent!

    On the subject of the post, though, I'd love to be able to get in there, but without having to be looking over my shoulder to see where either a) the dobermans are, or 2) where the raptors are... my camera cost too much to throw it to them as a bone, boneyard or not.

  11. Faint of heart, Badger? Getting timid in your old age?

  12. only when there are dobermans, rottweilers, or raptors involved!

  13. On the other hand Badger you just have to run faster than Limes (sorry Limes)

  14. Oh, Tag! Would you have him throw me under the bus? For he certainly can outrun me. Rather charming human being sacrificed to save a hideously expensive camera . . . OK, fair is fair. I may be disposable, since the value of a human being is what - $114? However, I would stand a fighting chance if I could just talk to/connect with those dogs or raptors. Give me a creature with an ear and I MAY just turn the tide.

    Missed seeing you post today!

  15. Hah! Maybe I should just buy a ticket and go in like any other tourist... I'd hate to see Limes eaten by creatures that wouldn't appreciate how fine a meal they were really having! (Just kidding, I wouldn't want to see her eaten by anything!)

  16. Nor would I, Thankfully, there are other ways in. Not as much fun, but safer, For camera, Limes and Badgers