Slouching Towards Bethlehem Essay

Slouching Towards Bethlehem Essay-33
The marriage had just taken place; the bride still wore her dress, the mother her corsage.A bored waiter poured out a few swallows of pink champagne (“on the house”) for everyone but the bride, who was too young to be served.“When I Fall in Love It Will Be Foreve,” the organist plays, and then a few bars of Lohengrin.

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But what strikes one most about the Strip chapels, with their wishing wells and stained-glass paper windows and their artificial bouvardia, is that so much of their business is by no means a matter of simple convenience, of late-night lliasions between show girls and baby Crosbys. (One night about eleven o’clock in Las Vegas I watched a bride in an orange minidress and masses of flame-colored hair stumble into a Strip chapel on the arm of her new bridegroom, who looked the part of the expendable nephew in movies like .

“I gotta get to the midight show.” “What you gotta get,” the bridegroom said, opening the door of a Cadiallac Coupe de Ville and watching her crumple on the seat, “is sober.”) But Las Vegas seems to offer something other than “convenience;” it is merchandising “niceness,” the facsimile of proper ritual, to children who do not know how else to find it, how to make the arrangements, how to do it “right.” All day and evening long on the Strip, one sees acutal wedding parties, waiting under the harsh light at a crosswalk, standing uneasily in the parking lot of the Frontier while the photographer hired by The Little Church of the West (“Wedding Place of the Stars” certifies the occasion, takes the picture: the bride in a veil and white satin pumps, the bridegroom usually in a white dinner jacket, and even an attendant or two, a sister of a best friend in hot-pink , a flirtation veil, a carnation nosegay.

But Las Vegas seems to exist only in the eye of he beholder.

All of which makes it an extraordinarily stimulating and interesting place, but an odd one in which to want to wear a candleight satin Priscilla of Boston wedding dress with Chantilly lace insects, tapered sleeves and a detachable modified train.

In many respects, she finds it a troubling island, one where the legacy of war runs far and deep.

By July of 1967 Howard Hughes is the largest single landholder in Clark County, Nevada.

One element that runs through several of the pieces, irrespective of their central theme, is a palpable sense of place – nicely illustrated by this passage from the opening paragraph of the first essay in the collection, The San Bernardino Valley lies only an hour east of Los Angeles by the San Bernardino Freeway but is in certain ways an alien place: not the coastal California of the subtropical twilights and the soft westerlies off the Pacific but a harsher California, haunted by the Mojave just beyond the mountains, devastated by the hot dry Santa Ana wind that comes down through the passes at 100 miles an hour and whines through the eucalyptus windbreaks and works on the nerves. 3) is an account of love and death in the golden land, the story of a marriage that has broken down, a woman who was tried for murder and judged for perhaps wanting too much from life.

It’s a haunting piece, underscored with a sense of the dissolution of the American Dream.

“You’ll need something with more kick than that,” the bride’s father said with heavy jocularity to his new son-in-law; the ritual jokes aboud the wedding night had a certain Panglossian character, since the bride was clearly several months pregnant.

Another round of pink champagne, this time not on the house, and the bride began to cry.


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