Photographed with permission at the Neon Museum, Las Vegas, Nevada.
It’s worth clicking through to see them full size on Flickr.
I should be able to tell you all kinds of cool stories about the Neon Boneyard, but the truth is, I wasn’t totally paying attention to the guide. As great as he was, it was too much to get my eyes to shut up so that my ears could listen.
The weathered surfaces, the peeling paint, the fading complimentary colors in the baking Nevada sunshine, the patterned rows of lightbulbs casting translucent shadows. More, still, the tall swoooping letters, 15 or 20 feet high, the stacked M-O-T-E-L letters, lying sideways, neon dinosaurs in the brown gray dust of the fenced lot. Things sharp and broken and rusted, the giant arm of a clown lying next to his equally giant shoe, his rebar skeleton showing through what was left of his sheet metal skin. A yellow stripe of neon bent in to a perfect circle on top of a red painted O, the letter E casting a perfect shadow underneath itself, a mosaic of bright yellow Hs, all interlocking.
There were too many places too look so I couldn’t pay attention to the stories about the Mafia, about the first black casino being shut down even though it was a crazy success, about a city with no clocks, about what used to be here in this area of chainlink and the old convention center. I should have listened more closely, but the color kept calling me away while in the back of my head I could hear it, like an echo…
She gets too hungry for dinner at eight
She likes the theater but never comes late
She never bothers with people she hates
That’s why the lady is a tramp.
Frank’s voice, the perfect far away sound for all this rust and entropy, a bright metal big band, a white jacket, a stripe of neon pink against the never quite black sky.
The Neon Museum is about five miles north of the Las VegasÂ strip. It’s 15 USD to visit, you have to have a reservation and it’s by guided tour only. It’s amazing. You should go.