The Story Behind The Poem
Emily Calvin (@KITTEHMIEN) tweeted a request for inspiration.
I responded, "Los Vegas, who're you? If you could change who'd you cater to?"
She answered back with this...
The curse of the human ability to articulate, without understanding the implications
of, the question, “Who are you?” rests at the very heart of humanity’s existential crisis.
I asked Las Vegas, “Who are you?”
It answered, “Streets of neon lights; debauchery, sex, and gambling; night
life; the freedom to express the human draw toward heathenism; the crime scene of
Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing; Hunter S. Thompson’s playground.”
Then Las Vegas asked me, “Who are you?”
And I answered, “A heathen; an obsessive traveler with horrible social
anxiety; a masochist; Hunter S. Thompson’s birthday twin; a homebody.”
The question, “Who are you?” is not to be confused with the subtext that often
nonverbally communicates, “Please tell me you’re whoever I want you to be.”
So I asked Las Vegas, “Who do you want me to be?”
And it answered, “The female Hunter S. Thompson with slightly more
And Las Vegas asked me, “Who do you want me to be?”
I answered, “Free from the corruption of money and greed.”
And when the answer to, “Who are you?” is incongruent with the answer to “Who do
you want me to be?” we must then ask what needs to change and why, in order to
challenge the integrity of who we really think we are or want to be.
So finally, I asked Las Vegas, “What would you change about me and why?
And Las Vegas answered, “I would throw out your intuition and give your
a set of balls; I would rid you of your fear of going too far; I would rid you of your
fear…because I would like to see you loosen the fuck up and learn that fun does not
always lead to tragedy. I would like you to be less focused on the appearance of our
city and more focused on what our city, and any city, has to offer to artistic, creative,
hedonistic minds like yours.”
Then Las Vegas asked me, “What would you change about me and why?”
And I answered, “The neon lights; the overstimulation; the pathetic
attempt to mask the misery of debt and addiction…because I would like to see less
corruption and more love. I would like Las Vegas to cater to a people focused less
on partying for partying’s sake and more on transforming a culture of excess into a
culture of free, artistic expression.”
But the only valid answer I have found to the question, “Who are you?” is, “I am
whoever I want to be, wherever I am and whatever I’m doing.”