Nothing makes my day more than drifting through a town that has mojo already and finding a shrine to the West. Like discovering the Mithraic alter beneath a Roman church, it means that I have uncovered a power so potent it can’t be hidden.
So here was Atlantic City: slots, mobsters, boardwalk, 1940s-sailors-on-leave / bad-1980s-haircut feel.
And there was the Wild Wild West, 24-hour happy-hour style. I knelt at its altar and came to a truth:
The West is so universal, so iconic, so heavy with potent symbolism, that it needs only a few cues to make it come alive in the eye of the beholder. Even in the midst of commercial sprawl.
And red rock thing. (check)
a.) we are in crazy-ass exotic landscape. Think about it: where do saguaro grow? Nowhere but a certain desert called the Sonoran desert. Which only exists in a few places in the Southwest and Mexico. For the urban elite and urban fluffballs, that might as well be Mars.
b.) we are intrepid travelers. Just be aware, that means we are anything-can-happen tough. Eat-our-mates-if-you-run-out-of-food ready. Dirt-and-scorpions-under-our-nails mean. Constant-fear of attacks-from-Native-Americans-who-are-pissed-that-we-are-messing-up-the-land stressed. Still ready to think covered wagons are “quaint”? You gas-guzzling, seat-belt-wearing, air-conditioner-tapping bozo–you don’t have the cajones to handle the real thing, so go ahead and nuzzle up to this concrete/steel fake thing.
c.) I would make fun of this rock but for the fact that the rocks out West really look like this. Especially with the pine trees. The landscape out West is so real it looks fake.
And to really mix in some “wild” add in a near-naked woman with cowboy hat.
Better than the tame pioneer women with steel cajones, fretting over Indian attack, lack of clean clothes, the terror of childbirth in the wilderness, the dumping of prized heirlooms, and just about everything else a sane person would be worrying about.
I felt right at home–Wild West, 24/7, with buffet helping of cowboy coffee, mountain oysters, and, if you’re unlucky to get snowed in like the Donner Party, a feast of human body parts. Ah, the West–it always makes me see things a little…um…dark. I guess Atlantic City won’t be calling me for PR anytime soon?