Live from Vegas: Housing, Economics -- & 5-Inch Turquoise Heels

Dispatches from Vegas:


Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas, Nevada

I’m in the only city in America which is paying no attention to the Democratic National Convention: Las Vegas. If I asked someone, “What did Michelle Obama say?” they'd look at me like I’d asked, “How did the Croatians do in the Olympics?”

They say Vegas is hurting, and I'll be reporting from the Strip on Wednesday, starting on Squawk Box.

Gaming revenues are down for six straight months, longer than the period after Sept. 11. Construction projects have come to a halt. Word is that hotel-condos like the Trump International Hotel & Tower are having trouble selling units. (Ed McMahon! When your Beverly Hills home closes escrow. maybe the Donald will let you live here! He has room.)

One analyst says room rates across town have been discounted on average 28 percent to $149. People are staying for shorter periods of time, and they are spending less.

But I’m here to tell you: there are still plenty of people coming to Las Vegas. Even in 108 degree August heat, the sidewalks are clogged. There are also throngs of Asian tourists.

I’m staying at the Venetian this time, owned by the Las Vegas Sands (I’ll be interviewing MGM Mirage CEO Terry Lanni and I chose not to stay at one of their properties to avoid the appearance of a conflict).

After work on Monday, I ventured out to get a meal at the adjacent Grand Canal Shoppes, owned by General Growth Properties. I had to go to four restaurants before I could find an open seat, and that was at the bar.

While sitting there, I once again realized why I love this town. It's not the gambling, it's not the shows. No, it's because Las Vegas provides the best people-watching on Earth, hands down. On. Earth. Why? You have the entire cross-section of humanity.

Now, you could argue that you find the same at Disneyland or on Broadway or in Hawaii. The difference is that the entire cross-section of humanity in Vegas is trying to look sexy. I‘ve seen things I can’t explain. People work long and hard to craft ensembles worthy of a reality-TV show, “So You Think You Can Dress?” I’m afraid I’ll never erase from my memory the image of five-inch turquoise platform heels with big bows. But worn with confidence! Fun! Sex! Success!

So who needs to watch the Dems in Denver? There’s more “hope” in Las Vegas than you’ll ever find in the Obama campaign.

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