208 Las Vegas, NV: Worlds Apart

On my way out of town, I went back down the Strip to return my rental car. Driving through the detritus of other cultures' icons, when one of ours had just been laid low was eerie. Passing "New York New York," I noticed that their Statue of Liberty was surrounded by sand like in the end of Planet of the Apes.

Hopper took New York reality, distilled it, made it smaller and two-dimensional and, by doing so, immortalized it as an icon; these guys took New York culture, made it bigger in three dimensions and, in so doing, made it a bastardization.

Leaving Las Vegas, looking out my airplane window at a featureless landscape, seemingly godforsaken, that was nevertheless home to oversized imitations of Paris, Venice, Egypt, England, New York City, and other far-flung places, I thought of how small the world seemed, now that someone in a remote village in Afghanistan had reached out to devastate New York City. Isolation is a double-edged sword. Bin Laden's made him angry and ignorant of the pain that he imposed on other people. Whereas mine was a source of solace, to be away from people like him.

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