Las Vegas these days has a wretched air, like a
whipped cur, as it begins its pitiful capitulation to the neo-Puritan
of Orange County.  The ghosts of the outlaw princes who founded the
place, who somehow kept its rebellious spirit alive well into the new
corporate era, recede on every hand, become more insubstantial, as
though unwilling to stick around and watch the glittering Granada they
conjured up out of nothing become exactly like the dreary places they
here to get away from.

In this mournful atmosphere I dragged my dried-out
Christmas tree down to the car and took it to the Christmas tree
recycling station at Sunset Park.  Hank Williams sang on the car's CD
player, mournfully.

But then on the drive home Rubber Soul kicked
in and
things looked more cheerful.  The tree will be ground up for mulch,
something new will grow out of it.

here, where the soil is being
sterilized into a state less fertile than the surface of the desert
itself — but somewhere . . .

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