I left town between two of this winter’s monster snowstorms and watched the Super Bowl from a hotel in Las Vegas. This was my first visit, something no one there could believe. Everyone else, apparently, has been there at least five times.
My connections to America’s sin city are pretty thin. A long time ago, I went to camp in Maine with a tall kid from Philadelphia named Oscar Goodman. I played second base, he played first. He became a mob lawyer, then served three terms as Mayor of Law Vegas, and is the husband of the current mayor, Carolyn Goodman.
In the 1990s I represented a woman named Sandra Adelson. Her then-husband was already a Las Vegas big shot well on his way towards becoming one of the country’s richest men.
My third connection is that a former colleague is now a law professor at the University of Nevada Las Vegas Law School. He emailed me last year and invited me to pay a visit. I had never heard of that law school, but I didn’t tell him that.
I’ve never been to Las Vegas,” I emailed him back. “I would love to come.”
And so we made a date. The plan was that I would meet with faculty members over lunch and give a class in the afternoon. My real motive, of course, was to go to the city where what you do stays there.
My law school events were scheduled for a Monday, but I went on Friday. You can’t be too careful in the winter, what with travel delays and all. Besides, that way I could see the city on Saturday, meet up with my friend on Sunday, and then turn to more serious matters—the football game that turned out to be the best one ever.
I’m glad I went. The city is bigger and more unreal than I had imagined. The scale of everything is oversized, and if you go there you really don’t need to travel anywhere else. Across the Strip from the hotel where I stayed is the Eiffel Tower, and next door is the Statue of Liberty. A mile away is the Venetian Hotel, complete with St. Mark’s Square and gondola rides on the Grand Canal. The owner of that establishment is none other than Sheldon Adelson.
Yes, they do have a law school, the “William S. Boyd School of Law”, but it is barely a decade old, which is my excuse for why I didn’t know about it. The faculty members were friendly, and the students seemed interested in the subject matter of the class—“law and religion.”
I’m not sure how much there is of either of those on the Strip, but there certainly is a lot of entertainment. I was tempted to pick one of the R-rated shows but ended up going to Cirque du Soleil instead. You really have to see it to believe what goes on onstage. I kept waiting for someone to get hurt, but miraculously no one did, which was a good thing because I went to the early show and they had to come out again a half hour later and do it all over again.
There are some things I didn’t do. I didn’t look up Oscar Goodman, my old camp friend. I was afraid he wouldn’t remember me. I didn’t call on Sheldon Adelson, now the eighth richest man in the world. I was afraid he would remember me.
That’s not all I didn’t do, and in a way I suppose my first visit to Las Vegas fell short. I didn’t lose any money, and I didn’t see any naked women