Amanda Fortini at The Believer:
Las Vegas is a place about which people have ideas. They have thoughts and generalizations, takes and counter-takes, most of them detached from any genuine experience and uninformed by any concrete reality. This is true of many cities—New York, Paris, Prague in the 1990s—owing to books and movies and tourism bureaus, but it is particularly true of Las Vegas. It is a place that looms large in popular culture as a setting for blowout parties and high-stakes gambling, a place where one might wed a stripper with a heart of gold, like Ed Helms does in The Hangover, or hole up in a hotel room and drink oneself to death, as Nicolas Cage does in Leaving Las Vegas. Even those who would never go to Las Vegas are in the grip of its mythology. Yet roughly half of all Americans, or around 165 million people, have visited and one slivery weekend glimpse bestows on them a sense of ownership and authority.