Friday, March 19, 2010 | 3 a.m.
As we’ve been reminded this winter, tourism is not a small part of our economy. All financial roads lead to it, from it and around it — at least until such time as a few more industries begin to share the rent. And we watch it like hawks.
These days, in addition to our own home values, we’re all constantly monitoring room rates and gaming takes, restaurant crowds and taxi traffic. Only in our monolithic economy, where it is relatively easy to source such information, would so many people be able to casually recite the score of key economic indicators.
This is one of the aspects of being a true Las Vegan. Although there are a few other things that help define the local.
Being local here means that you understand small-town life. Because no matter where you go, you’re going to run into people you know or have heard of, worked for or against, or perhaps even supported or opposed with a vote.
Being local here means you’re not easily fazed. You’ve seen it all. Brides at buffets, clowns on stilts, magicians, musicians and mimes of every stripe and at every place you can think of.
Being local here means you’re part of a rather harmonious crowd at big events such as UNLV basketball games, because a local would never want to behave like a tourist on a bender.
Being local here means you understand and appreciate diversity, and that there is a good chance your neighborhood has more colors, races and religions than anyplace else you’ve ever lived — or even heard of.
Being local here means you’re nonjudgmental. If someone wants to play quarters at 6 a.m., well, you see that as their prerogative.
Being local is being proud of Lon Kruger, a winner with integrity, because you know that UNLV is its own unique form of marketing for this city.
Being local here means that you know you can leave at the last minute and still arrive punctually across town, because traffic is never really that bad. And even if it is, a local knows the shortcuts. And locals don’t complain about our longer traffic lights because they know it’s all part of the odd Las Vegas transit formula.
Being local here means that you know where Wayne Newton’s house is, and never fail to point it out when you have guests in the passenger seats.
Being local here means that you know relationships matter more than anything else in business, sometimes even when they shouldn’t.
Being local here means you appreciate the subtle humor behind the ads that announce “loose slots.”
Being local here means you know a good show when you see one, and that you’re very capable of critically dissecting the finer points of any Cirque performance.
Being local means you know to park valet most of the time.
Being local means you enjoy it when it rains and you’re positively beside yourself when it snows every second or third year.
Being local means you know to leave a tip, because you know it’s such a vital part of our economy.
Being local means that you know breakfast can be — and by all rights should be — served at any hour. And other services should be available all the time as well.
Being local means you laugh at the mistakes in movies with Las Vegas themes — actually most movies about Las Vegas.
Being local means you are used to dealing with constant road improvements on the same thoroughfares.
Being local means you recognize that, from a community standpoint, there is something terribly flawed in the editorial philosophies of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Being local here means that you have heard some of the best voices in the nation perform the national anthem at our sporting events.
Yes, it’s been a long, cold lonely winter, a season of our economic discontent. Room rates have been slashed, blackjack tables have empty chairs, restaurants have struggled and the cabbies are complaining. Too many people are unemployed. And yet life goes on for all of us.
As we muddle through the recovery toward better times, there are still really two Las Vegas, the one the tourists see and the one we locals know. The one we know is still a pretty neat place to be.