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Casino Fun House

(Friday night, President Casino)

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Fact is, we have blundered into a psychedelic playground, a phantasmagorical funhouse of the cartoon variety, a portal into the mind of Walt Disney if he'd finally gone insane. We are inside an enormous pinball machine; we are floating in a kaleidoscope, twirling on the blade of a pinwheel, teetering on the brink of ruin. Arcade sounds and blinking lights collide like a splendiferous car wreck. The iridescent wallpaper and garishly patterned carpet shimmer, a lenticular nightmare: The entire room moves involuntarily. Occasionally, you have to focus on a single object, lest your brain get sucked into the vacuum of sheer carnival bedlam. The blinking sign above a slot machine: Wheel. Of. Fortune.

People wander like cockeyed Buddhas through the anarchy, overwhelmed by the artificial brilliance. Kristen points out the ease with which some of them feed their tokens into the slots, sometimes playing two machines at once. They work the slots and light their long cigarettes with the same implacable, hypnotic method. How effortless they make the procedure look, dumping their savings into twinkling boxes: simple, like breathing or wiping your nose. Going for broke takes no effort at all.

I'm trying to connect the implications of this aberration when I'm tackled by yet another delirious distraction. There is always something nearby to snap you out of the horror of a clear thought and plunge you pell-mell back into the dreamy nonsense of ordinary events.

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