CITY OF SECOND CHANCES
How my master’s thesis started out…
Hustler (n.) – (1) an enterprising person determined to succeed; a go-getter. (2) Slang. A person who employs fraudulent or unscrupulous methods to obtain money; a swindler.
Long before people built a city at the center of the Mojave Desert, desperate explorers saw water shimmering in the sands just beyond their reach – or at least they thought they did. To build a modern civilization here required the creation of more mirages – a fantasy built upon a sliver of reality.
From the beginning, Vegas has never been about right and wrong, black and white, Left versus Right. Most people either love or hate Vegas because if you spend more than a few days here, The Strip forces you to confront one stark fact. Life, in the truest, cruelest Darwinian sense, is about winning and losing. What makes Vegas different from other places is that we don’t try to hide that fact. People act here the way they’re afraid to in their own lives, in their own communities – for better and for worse.
In Las Vegas, when I call somebody a hustler, I mean it as a compliment. Vegas has always been a City of Second Chances for people who screwed up or got screwed over, but who are willing to get back up again and risk it all for big rewards. Out here, you can define winning however you like. Your only limitations are your own imagination and your line of credit. But be warned: in Vegas, your ambition tends to exceed your ability. Your reach exceeds your grasp. You can become whoever you want to be – but you have to pay the consequences.
Las Vegas, a city based on the idea of getting people to not think about the long-term consequences of their actions, seems a most unlikely center in the global quest for sustainability. But like most things in Vegas, if you want to see what’s really going on, you’re going to have to look closer…