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Word Count: 4,234
Hell is expensive This is my first thought as my plane lands in Las Vegas The Luxor hotels glass pyramid seems dangerously close to the runways edge as do its chocolate-and-gold sphinx and rows of shaved palms I wonder if these rooms tremble when jets land Behind the Luxor are mountains kissed by dust the hue of bone to its left lies the Strip where color is so bright it looks like it has died rotted and come back as a poisonous flower I have been forewarned First I am told flying in at noon is not the way to enter Vegas Correct entry is at night This way I would have the full treatment of neon and glowing sky As a child I was taught not to buy into anything at night The spoiled chipped or dangerous could be easily disguised Yet here in one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States nighttime is the appropriate time to enter Exiting is another matter According to a recent cover story in Time Las Vegas has the highest per-capita suicide rate in the country This coincides with its enormous expansion yet the most talked-about suicides -- those of tourists leaping from hotel balconies after losing everything they had -- are dangerous myths for a city poised to become Americas newest economic icon In fact tourists taking their own lives surrounded by the glamour of the Strip comprise only a small percentage of the fatalities The bulk are those who moved here for jobs who live just beyond the lights Eight times as many residents kill themselves here as do visitors Second I am told that in Las Vegas I will feel more alive Anything can be had here this is the last place before the millennium where real money can be made An open season anything goes like America used to be My friends in Los Angeles who seem to know such
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