Tag Archives: Mount Charleston

In Las Vegas When I was Growing Up

…and now for a brief diversion from The Great France Art Tour of 2017…

In Las Vegas when I was growing up, the Atomic Energy Commission was always blowing up the desert with underground nuclear blasts that would roll through town at dinnertime, making you feel a little dizzy, until you’d see the chandelier slowly swinging and remember, oh yeah, bomb today.

And the mob was always blowing up somebody–generally a competitor or someone that wasn’t playing by their rules I guess. They’d blow up cars, or a motel, maybe a house. But I didn’t know much about that or pay much attention to it.

Then there were the planes. There was the military plane that famously crashed into Mount Charleston. And the small one that blew up in the desert way out past Rainbow Road on the way to Red Rock.  Where we used to hike, looking for rattlesnakes and Collared Lizards. It was pretty eerie out there, tiny little dime sized pieces of aluminum sheet metal, sometimes bigger, with rivets, scattered across the desert when you stood in the middle of it crunching under your feet and visible as far as you could see in any direction. Sometimes we’d find something bigger, like a wing strut or a piece of landing gear, once, even a briefcase, but it was warped and sunbaked, and if it ever had anything interesting in it, it was long gone. Pretty much all that was left out there was tiny little pieces. It must’ve been some explosion.

Seemed like things were always getting blown up in Las Vegas. Pet World, the store where I bought mealworms to feed my lizards and worked briefly, cleaning dog cages and aquariums, went up in a weekend fireball supposedly from a gas leak, although I had my suspicions. Two goldfish survived.

There were blasting caps at the construction sites, which were all over town, and ads on all of the daytime TV shows warning kids not to touch them or pick them up, which made kids really want to find one, and kids always getting blown up when they did.

And fireworks of course. Cherry bombs and M-80s and kids blowing off their fingers when they tried to throw an M-80. Whoops. It went off too soon.  Like that kid Ken Revis who only had four fingers on one hand. In high school he showed me the photo he always carried in his wallet. A Polaroid of his bloody hand spread out on the  surface of a table and the blown off middle finger on the table separated from its previous home by about 4 inches. Why did he always keep that picture? Did his dad make him keep it, to torture him for the rest of his life? He smoked a lot of dope that guy. He smoked more dope, more dope than anybody I’ve ever known.

I wonder if he is still alive.  I wonder if he still has that picture in his wallet.

If I were him, and I was still alive, and I still had that picture in my wallet, I’d blow up that picture.

—Christo