Cover image by Tim Shields, CC2.0, http://bit.ly/2fTmAaW
The city doesn’t particularly want you to see the levers and pulleys behind the scenes, but it doesn’t go to great lengths to hide them either. Everybody, after all, knows that Las Vegas is a stage and everybody’s moving too fast to care.
- Timothy O’Grady, Children of Las Vegas
Mackerel: What is that moment when a story you're being told comes alive?
Timothy O’Grady: That’s very unpredictable. It’s something that manifests itself in desire. A desire to tell it. I remember once playing golf with Arnold Palmer and I asked him what his greatest strength was. And he said desire. Some people believe that God created the world out of desire. Telling the story is very specific but also contains things you care about and want to articulate in some way. Desire allows you to relate to these things.
For Children of Las Vegas, the city itself was so strange to me. I couldn’t understand it. All the time I was trying to figure it out. It was uniquely impregnable to me.
And the stories were a way in.
The city always seemed to be in retreat from me.
Like a mirage of sorts.
Yes, exactly. But it was a mirage shrouded in agony, in shame, anger and distress. The imagery in the stories was very strong. For one of them, it was her aunt in pink shoes and a do-rag on her head, washing rocks and grocery bags in front of her house. Or a bottle war in a nightclub that was being overseen by a boxing commentator and a bunch of young women in short skirts waving flashlights to celebrate and see who had bought a $90,000 bottle of champagne. I asked Louis Harper (one of the story contributors) if he had any happy memories and he said, “Yes I did. I once asked my mother for $2 for food and she actually gave it to me.”
The city began to make sense through their stories. I instinctively realised the stories were not just about Las Vegas but our need for Las Vegas to exist. And implicit in this is a larger story about us.