Letter from the Editor

Las Vegas is the most popular vacation destination in our country. So this month...Wait, before I get into that, I need to back up.

Are you finding that just about everywhere you go you are confronted by a universal frenzy of fear, a collective acquiescence to sadness and resignation?

What happened? I don’t mean lit­erally, as in the financial failures of institutions and individuals and the dearth of responsibility of CEOs. I mean, what happened to us?

Nothing fazes us: earthquakes, floods, hurricanes or recessions. We rebuild.

So why do I feel that we are all succumbing to a fever of despair? I blame it on 24-hour news outlets. They aren’t about updating us with new things we need to know—they’re two-minute recycles of the news we’ve already heard. (Do we need really an update of the Nasdaq every two minutes?)

According to the onslaught from radio, TV and the Internet, the world as we know it is ending, and the result is a case of nationwide clinical depression: All we want to do is go to bed and pull the covers over our heads.

Come on, people. This is not who Americans are—not as individuals, not as a country. We have always led the world in confidence and ingenuity, and it makes sense that now is the right time to have faith in our future.

I resent the tsunami of hopelessness that is fed by this fury of disaster reports, and I don’t believe in wallowing in worry. Get out of the house. Don’t spend what you don’t have, and don’t be reckless—but enjoy life. Remember, if we stop doing things entirely, our economy truly will grind to a halt.

I was reminded of this recently when I flew to Las Vegas to coordinate this issue. I took a cab to the airport, and it was clear the driver was happy for a customer. He was making money he could contribute to his family. At the airport, I bought a hot dog and a drink from a vendor. It wasn’t a lot, but it was $5 more than he had before.

Once in Las Vegas, I had a conversation with my cabdriver that really made me think. He told me the city has been quiet, that people didn’t want to come and have fun right now, because times were tough. But, he said, it is during these times that we should enjoy ourselves as much as we can afford to. In his view, this was a good time to come to Vegas—lower hotel rates, fewer crowds. And every dollar spent in Vegas means money for schools and medical care and an economy that—much like in other cities—must run.

Even after we arrived at the Wynn (room rate $109!), I continued to think about his hopefulnes, and the theme of his plea resonated. National confidence is in our hands. If each of us got out and did something, we would begin to move the economic needle past empty and eventually back to full. After all, a recession of economy does not mean a recession of ideas.

Which brings me to our April issue. California visitors to Vegas total upwards of 11 million every year, so you’re well aware that the city has some of the best restaurants, entertainment and shopping in the world and that gambling brings in big bucks ($9.8 billion annually!) to state coffers.

We wanted to bring you the Vegas you probably don’t know: the city from the view of the people who live there. Like the new hands-on philanthropists, including Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf and Jenna and Michael Morton. We visit the breathtaking Springs Preserve, which shows how simply redesigning a landscape can alleviate water problems. Karen Mack, who grew up in Vegas but has lived in L.A. for years, tells the story of how her father helped fund the modern mecca Vegas is today.

And we have, from renowned photographer Albert Watson, a never-seen look at Vegas that he’s been compiling for 10 years. It’s a full issue, and you don’t have to leave your couch to enjoy it. Then again, reading it may make you think about taking a trip or putting in time to help others. And the next time you travel, turn off the TV and the Black­Berry and make new choices. Listen to an audiobook, your favorite music or maybe just silence, as you count the good things and gather strength to get our collective life back on track.

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