I visited Las Vegas for the first time this winter. I went with my best friend, a relationship that has been repeatedly described as a “bromance,” with good reason. He had intended to surprise me by having my girlfriend meet us in Sin City, an idea that was both very nice, and very misguided. She never made it, and that’s all I’m allowed to say because of double gag orders, one held by the great city of Las Vegas, and the other held by my girlfriend.
What I can say, though, is that my friend and I descended on Vegas with the requisite mindset—cultivating gluttony, excess, and a healthy disregard for our own personal safety. While I can’t go into detail over what was included in our itinerary, I can say what was not: the Heart Attack Grill. I respect my body too much, and I once participated in an Icy-Hot Challenge.
Apparently, my friend and I dodged a bullet there, a slow-moving, plaque-accumulating bullet. While in Vegas, I was impressed by the façade. I expected the neon, Cinderella glow by night, thanks to Hunter S. Thompson, but also that day would transform the buildings and signs into tawdry, crumbling pumpkins. On the Strip, at least, it’s not true. The Paris Hotel still soars during the day as an impressive homage to the architecture across the Atlantic. By day it looks strange because it is in so much newer, and in better repair than its European counterparts.
Off the Strip, on the other hand, you enter a legitimate jungle. Less light filters down from above, fauna presses in from all sides that is barred from the Strip, and the trails that were once blazed are now obviously being reclaimed by the environment. Bright colors proclaim danger and poison in every corner and it is as frightening as it is tasteless.
In this gaudy wilderness, you find the Heart Attack Grill. The waitresses are dressed and called nurses, and the owner is referred to as Dr. Jon. Ordinarily that would be kitschy at worst, but when a waitress cannot drop the act to report a real heart-attack … well, I hope the burgers have more taste than the staff.