Version 2.0

Culture, healing, politics and bullshit - Not necessarily in that order

The general, socio-political and very personal rantings and ravings of a hip hop head from the hood hustling for change... Of himself.

You all know me and are aware that I am unable to remain silent. At times to be silent is to lie. For silence can be interpreted as acquiescence.
—Miguel de Unamuno


Friday, August 14, 2009

The Road Trip Is Over

Today is just a regular day.

Today is a special day.

Today well, is today I guess.

It's been 74 days since we left Chicago, one month since we left Atlanta and a month in Las Vegas. I don't think the wife and I had a big blue clue that when we got here that we would stop.

And stay.

It's official folks (like most of the inner circle didn't already know), we currently live in Las Vegas, Nevada and this place is nothing like you thought it was. You have to be a local to figure that out though.

Now from what I already knew, Vegas has a booming tourism thingee but unlike Chicago they have found a way to keep damn near 99% of those guys either around or on the strip. I remember visiting Vegas in the past and in catching cabs to casinos and attractions far away from Las Vegas Blvd thinking how plain and boring the actual city was in comparison to the bright lights and 24 hour excitement the strip has to offer. Well, when you live here you are appreciative that the drunken, touristy, crazy and just plain curious don't want to come into the residential and commercial areas.

Thank the lord.
No, seriously. Take a knee.

This place is relatively quiet and 'normal' with its own amenities. Even though tourism fluctuates and the unemployment rate is right at the nation's highest (12.5%), if you are a skilled laborer, a degreed management professional, an artist (of any sort) with a proven sales/audience track record, a politician or civil service professional, in transportation (like myself), a personal trainer (or trainer of any type) or have design, culinary or construction expertise and the lambskin or certificate with experience to back it up, you will find yourself gainfully employed in this city without a doubt.

Foreclosure rates are the highest in the nation, so if you're in the market for a nice 4 bedroom, 3 bath home with a pool in a gated community or if you want good city living in a 3 bedroom ranch not far from the WalMart and the mall you can rent one for what I like to call 'crackhead rates'. Home rentals are dangerously below sane market value here and they even offer 3, 6 and 12 month short term leasing for most that can afford it.

There is even a 'hustler's market' here, offering short term apartment rentals with no credit check that can accommodate you daily, weekly and monthly. Most of these places are clean, quiet and protected by armed security. As far as groceries and soft commerce, the grocery stores offer the exact same items we lived off of in Chicago and Atlanta for at least 35% less than what we paid for, and the taxes are remarkably less.

Now there are casino/hotel/resorts located all around Vegas, Henderson and the surrounding cities. They are just as big as the strip hotels and have the same slots, tables and entertainment as them too. The food, breads and circuses are a step below the strip with some properties that jump high well above some of the premium strip hotels, and that lures the Vegas regular to a more quiet, service and luxury focused spot. One thing, the crazy strip mentality doesn't exist at these places, and some of them even have ice skating rinks, movie theaters and bowling alleys attached to them so there is a lot of local traffic that kind of blends in with the more laid back Vegas visitor. That was impressive to us as when we first encountered it because we live directly across the street from 2 huge properties in North Vegas and it stays quiet.

I thought things would be crazy here, but there are residential areas that surround these places and the police and (visible AND hidden) private have a security presence to protect the property tax payer as well as not letting any riff-raff spoil the relaxed environment for the business, pleasure and casual traveler. It kind of balances out.

But Vegas does have a ton of open, undeveloped space that's actually being claimed and bidded on by some of the fat cats that want to build more. There are also various housing community building booms here as well. Vegas also has a few 'hood' areas with bad element like all cities, but here is a different kind of crime element here that I observed from afar.

When we were in Atlanta there were crimes of opportunity committed by the have-nots against the haves. Nicer neighborhoods experienced robberies on a more grander scale than in Chicago. You don't have to worry much about your 60 inch flat screen being stolen than getting jacked for your car and jewelery. Easier to cash out and move it. In Chicago there is white collar crime, drug and gun trafficking and gang violence. Lots of kids die in the crossfire in the Chi. Atlanta has their share of gang related crime but it seems that this is more poverty driven.

In Vegas, there is prostitution, drug crime and a touch of gang violence, but the biggest thing going on here is fraud. Now folks are getting shot just like in other cities, and there is a gang element here as well as most folk just being tribal but... Fraud is where it's at here in the desert. Waaaay to many people to get over on whether they be a tourist with hopes of hitting the big jackpot, to the savvy business traveler that wants to live out that getaway fantasy in three days to of course, the Joe Schmoe that comes to Vegas looking to launch his dream. Even the young, married couple that just moved here to take the $10 an hour park ranger job can get scammed because everyone comes here for something. We're used to seeing that kind of stuff.

Which leads things back to us. So let's see...

Cheap living, cheapER cost of living, easy access to amenities and recreation, the ability to take advantage of a soft real estate market selling as permanent living but being masked as a temporary set up... Yeah. We agreed that we could camp out here for a year, even more and stack that paper to buy the house we really want back east. And oh yeah, the airport is right over there... And L.A is a 4 hour drive to the west, Phoenix 4 to the south and my old stomping grounds in Salt Lake City 6 hours to the north WITH support from friends that live less than a 15 minute drive away.

Yeah, we found support here from our couple/friends and their family so the shock of being isolated in the desert from folks we know and love never happened. One thing did happen that I have to mention: The outside influence that provided doubt, resistance and poison to our relationship died the moment we started our drive to Atlanta.

Imagine that? A bevy of family and friends in our sweet home Chicago offering advice, support and fellowship, and from some of them what they offered (a chosen few) was the sticks, matches and kindling sure to burn down our relationship. Oh, it wasn't just from folks in Chicago either. I just know that since we hit the road certain hurdles were immediately eliminated.

My other half reminded me that my original idea was to stay in Oregon for a year or two after we got hitched in 07 because I felt that isolation in order to deal with each other is what we needed to maintain a stable relationship. I hadn't forgotten that but it was put on the back burner somehow. I don't know, work and stuff. All I know is now we have stronger support from friends now than when we lived down the street and around the corner from folks.

I do miss my brother and sister in-law and their family
I miss our neighbors that lived across from us.
I miss Lake Shore Drive.
I miss just busting all up into my mother's house.
Hell, I miss a lot of things.

One thing I missed and didn't realize until we sat down to make the decision to stay in Vegas though was having my peace of mind. I forgot exactly what that was. Funny, I never knew I'd find it just laying out here in the damn desert. Vegas has its lack of culture, smarmy parts, sleaziness and just plain dry, hot and dull elements to it, but it's home now. I can't wait til' the DirecTv guys come out and deliver my football to my front door, then we're really cooking.

It doesn't feel weird saying those things.

Heh. Viva Las Vegas.


NeenaLove said...

Wow! Man... I was trying to be in Vegas too but husband wants to be down south in the sticks of Alabama.

Vegas offers direct flights to Honolulu.... that was the big bonus of being in Vegas. Not only that... TONS of family and friends. I wanted to be in Henderson or Summerlin. Where are yall at?

LadyLee said...

Good deal, ya'll. And you know how I feel about support. Those who don't support you need to jump in the lake.

I am happy for ya'll. I really am:)

Gallis said...

That's awesome dude. I'm really happy for you both.

And remember y'all, what happens in Vegas, stays Hassan's blog.

Oh COME.ON. Like NOBODY was thinkin' of using that line...LOL!

Bunny Brown said...

You know crime is ridiculous here right now and DaMayor is all about what...his Olympics. So I say live it up in Vegas! LSD ain't going nowhere, not unless it interferes with 2016 LOL!!!

I gotta get to Vegas before the year is out. Got lots of fam out there.