There’s Las Vegas and there’s Las Vegas. Technically the Las Vegas Strip isn’t even in Las Vegas. It’s in the Clark County townships of Winchester and Paradise. The name Winchester was chosen by the public in a naming contest. “It was said to have more of a Western flavor” than the other nominations. The name Paradise was chosen by five casino owners in celebration of its shelter from the Mojave Desert and municipal tax collectors. And somewhere off the Strip, far from Paradise, was a resort that my aunt owned a timeshare in.
I’ve heard that timeshares suck. I don’t understand how they work. I do know that my family ended up in Las Vegas often. I don’t know it if the timeshare ended up less expensive than regular hotels, but we used it.
One day in 2002, I was waiting outside the resort for the Deuce to take me and my family to the Strip. There was a guy, a townie, waiting for another bus. I saw two things that would become omnipresent over the next 10 years. I saw a pair of Apple earbuds, and I saw him reach into his pocket, pull out his iPod, change a song, and put it back into his pocket.
I may have seen The iPod ads with the dancing silhouettes. If so, they hadn’t made an impression. In an instant I saw that the iPod was freedom. No more flipping tapes. No more pretending that the Walkman’s anti-skip buffer was enough to make CD playing portable. I had to have it.
I never quite owned an iPod classic. Their time came and went. For years they were too expensive. I had a knockoff, then lost the knockoff. The iPhone came out and I begged my dad for one. In the Apple Store, my dad mugged a heart attack to the guy ringing us up after hearing the total. He thought he was hilarious. The Apple guy awkwardly stood waiting for him to stop laughing at his own joke. I wanted to die.
This weekend I bought a secondhand Panasonic CD player with integrated iPod dock. I love designer CD players from the early to mid 2000s. They will never design them like that again. It’s all Bluetooth speakers from here on out.
It’s hipster consumerism, but I can’t apologize for being sentimental. It’s a beautiful thing to construct romance and meaning from consumer technology that was everywhere basically yesterday. I’ll find the poetry in the Bluetooth speaker too. Give it time.