The following is the conclusion of a two-part guest post by Scott Nadeau of theDarkWaterPress. Part I: Of Urban Builders and Rural Hunters recounts Scott’s childhood in a suburb of Las Vegas, Nevada, and is built on the underlying theme of the summer monsoon. If part one was a retrospective, then part two is heavily introspective in nature. *
Oh, and the suggested soundtrack to this post? How about “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” by Green Day, or possibly Linkin Park’s “What I’ve Done” (a particularly good fit, in my opinion). I’m sure Mr. DarkWater will loathe at least one of these selections. I’ll let that be his problem.
After a number of years in this neighborhood, another relocation was made. Back to Henderson proper, but into a newer development. These were my High School years and my interests began to change again. My high school friends and I discovered punk music and we soon formed our own punk band. My time as a desert explorer had passed, as had my time as an urban builder. Quite possibly, it might be imagined, that it was these two former occupations of mine that in some ways lead me to the punk rock subculture.
With more mobility and a new host of friends and acquaintances from bands in other parts of the city, I was now part of a network of individuals that was both attempting to build a type of culture, as well as destroy, or at least subvert a culture that we were dissatisfied and bored with. This was a process of exploration and it often led us to remote locations in the surrounding deserts of Las Vegas where loosely organized outdoor punk shows could take place with little possibility of interruption from civilizations various forms of authorities. We would gather in large caves, or simply off of remote desert trails with band equipment and generators. We created our own music, our own form of expression, in a place that through a process of exploration, for the time being, belonged solely to us. We successfully built a habitation that offered us freedom according to our terms, rather than a prescribed freedom provided by unknown officials.
When most people I meet discover that I am from Las Vegas, I am often led through a very predictable line of questioning. “People actually live in Las Vegas? What was it like? Did you live in a hotel? How often did you gamble?” The relevancy of questions such as these is minimal, other than that they reveal just how easily actual everyday life can be nullified by marketing and propaganda. All of the hype and spectacular glamour that the rest of the world sees in typical Las Vegas media portrayals had very little effect on my youthful development and everyday life there. On into adulthood, the main influence the urban environment had on my daily existence involves the cities notorious growth spasms that took place just as I was finishing high school.
For a graduating high school student in the late 90’s in Las Vegas, making decent money proved to be a simple endeavor. Industry was king, queen, prince and jester in America’s fastest growing city. Construction, Service, Education, Gaming, Culinary, Real Estate, Entertainment… all of these industries were booming, and a college education would hardly be convenient. Why wait four years, acquiring debt, to start making money? The job market was hungry, insatiably hungry, and the public schools could scarcely serve up any really appetizing or hardy meals in 12 short years under such demand. I was hardly an appetizer when I entered the workforce, bland, undercooked and unseasoned. My education was mediocre at best. College was mentioned only for traditions sake. But I was quickly devoured nonetheless.
Having graduated to the workforce, I became a part of Las Vegas’s construction industry and watched the city sprawl. Developers installed neighborhoods upon the desert terrain with ferocity. I was on my own, living in apartments in Las Vegas proper, working in the far corners of the cities outreaching arms, building middle class tract housing, a first-hand witness to the consumption of the ancient desert valley… and as such I can rightfully make the claim that the city Las Vegas disregards the ground it is built upon.
The city is a lavishly fretted gold-framed mirror that disrespectfully reflects the sun into the ancient eyes of the Mojave Desert. A desert that stubbornly refuses to be slaked by the intrusion of minority installed irrigation system, bourgeois golf course, lavish hotel fountain, etc., etc. Having left Las Vegas I plan never to return until the desert has reclaimed itself and strategically brought the arrogant spirit of Las Vegas weeping to its knees, where it can then be rightfully decapitated and left in picturesque ruins.
Technically, Mr. DarkWater has returned to Vegas, briefly, on multiple occasions. And technically, the desert has yet to reclaimed itself …although in recent years it has made good progress in many neighborhoods concerning this endeavor.
*my commentary on the author’s tone and intent.