24/7 : Living it Up and Doubling Down in the New Las Vegas
24/7 Living it Up and Doubling Down in the New Las Vegas Author:Andres Martinez In April 1998, Andrés Martinez withdrew fifty thousand dollars from the bank--most of the advance he was paid for this book--and boarded a plane to the fastest-growing metropolis in America: Las Vegas. Armed with a wad of traveler's checks, Martinez spent a month within the belly of the beast. 24/7 is the round-the-clock chronicle of... more » his wild ride through America's neon Gomorrah.
Every chapter--each is named after one of the fabled hotels where Martinez holed up with his bankroll--is a fly-on-the-wall view of a different aspect of Las Vegas. From the sumptuous Bellagio to the off-Strip grind joints that cater to local addicts, 24/7 evokes a city that is both human and larger than life.
We are introduced to the people who work in, pass through, and thrive on Vegas: a minister who shines shoes at a topless joint, a school superintendent who must build a new facility every twenty-eight days, and a water czar who covets her neighbors' share of the Colorado River. Martinez hobnobs with conventioneers, befriends a professional sports gambler who raised six kids while losing eight million dollars, and dines with a retired Israeli "security officer" whose lifelong ambition was to move to Vegas and become a blackjack guru. Martinez wanders into the Liberace Museum, attends Easter Sunday mass in the Strip cathedral of the world's most rapidly expanding Catholic archdiocese, and ponders the meaning of it all with Vegas's leading historians.
Interwoven throughout are dispatches from the green-felt front. Martinez laces his blood with adrenaline in an exhilarating all-night session of baccarat with some well-heeled Chinese and idles over slots with an abandoned bride. Above all, he goes mano a mano at blackjack--learning the ropes from his dealer, gathering tricks of the trade from his breakfast companions, and experiencing the angst of Dostoevsky and the sheer ecstasy of the triumphal gambler.
Thought-provoking, hilarious, personal, and journalistically brilliant, 24/7 is a rush of a read, a head-on exploration of a unique American landscape.« less