Dear Mayor Goodman,
Or perhaps I should begin this communication with the same discourteous introduction as Hunter S. Thompson in his letter to then President Nixon:
Of course, you remember Hunter. He both lionized and mortified the city over which you so proudly rule in his brilliant tome, "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas." Perhaps Hunter's continuous inebriation opened his perception to some psychic foresight -- in the 21st century, your city, with all its garishly seductive promises of instant wealth, cheap pussy, and satanic escapism, has little left but "fear and loathing" to offer.
If these introductory comments seem slightly less than etiquette, Oscar, let me assure you that I am not a hothead, a reactionary, a Christian fundamentalist, an activist of any kind, or even an idealist. I'm actually a quite circumspect and even-tempered fellow, and I place the highest priority on civil discourse with those that see the world differently than I. But any pretense of nicety is flatly absurd when addressing a truly colossal prick such as yourself. Some wretched people have been running "our" government for a long time, and their debasement of America's bedrock principles is sickening, but one is hard-pressed to find amongst these maniacs any as overtly sociopathic as you.
For the good reader who remains uninformed of your repugnance, here are a few objective facts: The 19th mayor of the city of Las Vegas, Oscar B. Goodman (that would be you), is a former mob lawyer and a recent spokesperson for Bombay Sapphire Gin -- a job that reportedly paid you a salary of $100,000. In fairness to you, you did donate these earnings to charity. However, when asked by a group of fourth-graders what possession you would favor if marooned on a desert island, you replied "a bottle of gin." And when asked about your hobbies, you listed boozing as your favorite. In justifying these wretched and cataclysmically irresponsible remarks, you replied, "I'm the George Washington of mayors. I can't tell a lie. If they didn't want the answer the kid shouldn't have asked the question."
Your truly stirring forthrightness and honesty has not been limited to your unabashed endorsement of alcohol. In 2005, you opined that graffiti artists should have their thumbs cut off on television: "You know, we have a beautiful highway landscaping redevelopment in our downtown....These punks come along and deface it....I'm saying maybe you should put them on TV and cut off a thumb."
OK, I can understand how the endorsing of booze and cutting off of thumbs might be viewed in an admirably rugged "salt of the earth" kind of light. But when you advocated beating children about the spine with canes ("I'm dead serious....Some of these (children) don't learn. You've got to teach them a lesson, and this is coming from a defense lawyer"....), I wonder if even your staunchest supporters -- perhaps including the murderers and thieves who are today walking around free thanks to your enthusiastic efforts -- felt just the slightest twinge of doubt of your sanity.
But rest assured, Oscar, I am not writing to you because you're a dick and a louse -- the world is overflowing with such people, and my lifelong policy has been to simply ignore them. I'm writing to you because you're a hypocrite, the most cowardly and useless creature on Earth. Your hypocrisy is more overt than the house edge for craps or Siegfried and Roy's sexual orientation or David Copperfield's unit or a showgirl's breasts...I could go on forever with these terrible analogies, but you get the picture.
In your time as mayor, your policies toward the homeless citizens of your city have been nothing less than genocidal. You actually outlawed the feeding of the homeless in city parks (a measure which was later correctly ruled to be unconstitutional.) In "justifying" your astonishing sociopathy, you stated, "This is not a punishment; this is to help people...The people who provide sandwiches have good intentions, but they're enabling people not to get the help that is needed."
The help that is needed? And where, precisely, would they go for that? Henderson? Laughlin? Hundreds of miles north to Carson City or Reno? You know perfectly well that your city is correctly notorious for its astonishing lack of shelter and resources for its homeless. The shelters are strategically placed far, FAR away from the tourist areas, in a dangerously violent place referred to as "the corridor." It is reported that these shelters hold only a few hundred beds -- a pathetic and outrageous figure, considering that at least 12,000 homeless men and women currently live within your city limits. When the homeless attempt to sleep in city parks they are arrested and jailed for "trespassing." So thanks to you, the homeless have not the right to eat or sleep or even breathe within the remotest distance of a cash-spending tourist.
I'm sure you have at least heard of the Kurt Borchard book, "The Word on the Street: Homeless Men in Las Vegas", though I doubt you would impinge on your busy schedule of drinking and carousing showgirls to actually read it. Borchard has documented through years of meticulous research and fieldwork the utter IMPOSSIBILITY of self-reliance for the homeless in your city. The only work for which they can get hired is day labor, and the city's structure (including the location of the feeble "shelters") is such that a homeless person without reliable transportation cannot consistently get to and from work. Day labor offices typically open at 5:30 AM, and there is no shortage of illegal immigrants who pack into their shitty pick-up trucks and arrive prompt and rarin' to go after a good night's rest. The homeless citizens in your city, who have the LEGAL RIGHT to live and work (a right you refuse to recognize), are not so lucky.
Have you ever tried performing eight or ten hours of physical labor after a night of aimless shambling through a concrete jungle, unfed, dehydrated, and in constant fear for your life? Of course you haven't. You are the self-described "happiest mayor in the world!" You love your drink and your women and your money and the mob friends who helped get you elected. You're all about fun and debauchery and contempt for those less fortunate than you.
And that's why you're a hypocrite, Oscar the Grouch, Oscar the Dickhead, Oscar the misanthropic lunatic, Oscar anything-but-a-Goodman. If you are as honest as you claim to be, if you were asked directly how you feel about the homeless, you would reply, "F*ck 'em. They did it to themselves!" And no one can deny there is an element of truth in that sentiment. A vast majority of homeless have been ruined by addiction to alcohol -- the very lifeblood of your city's economy, and by your own admission, your favorite pastime on Earth. The only difference between you and the most devastated transient slowly dying on your streets is that you've been a bit more successful at moderating your self-destructive vices.
In an editorial on homelessness, the Las Vegas Sun writes, "Already this year, 48 people in the Las Vegas Valley have succumbed to life on the streets. Most local programs do what they can, but the need is overwhelming. With a consistent source of federal support, the majority of homeless people could again begin having goals beyond survival."
And you have proved beyond any doubt that even their goal of physical survival is one to which you are violently opposed. 48 dead, Oscar. A body count almost worthy of Tony Soprano, a man for whom you would have utilized all of your rat-like cleverness to win an acquittal.
You not only embody everything that is wrong with Las Vegas, or even America, but the human condition as a whole. Do you really believe our species is going to survive if we don't somehow find empathy for one another? Have you bothered to watch the news anytime in the last decade? In case you haven't noticed, there has recently been a rash of grotesque violence against the homeless in America -- teenagers, perhaps encouraged by the extremely popular video series "Bum Fights" and "Bum Hunts," occasionally form packs and beat homeless men and women to death for sport and amusement. (See the CNN story "Teen sport killings of homeless on the rise,"
Speaking of Bum Fights and Bum Hunts, I wonder how you might react to a viewing of these videos. Would you recoil in horror, like any sane person, or would you light up a nice fat stogie, glass of fine Scotch in one hand and a showgirl's buttock in the other, gaping at the ultra-violence on the screen with the same vacant amusement as a slot-jockey trying to hit the winning combo?
I hope you are aware that you are not only stupid and oafish, but mentally ill. Your murderous attitude toward the homeless is a symptom of a sickness that collectively plagues our great nation and is creating a cultural apocalypse. It is the sickness of narcissism, or the total immersion in self. You are incapable of empathy for others, because you deny the intrinsic equality of all men and women -- the very principle on which our country was founded. What did I just say? ALL MEN AND WOMEN ARE CREATED EQUAL. Do you understand the concept of intrinsic equality as outlined by our forefathers, Oscar? Of course you don't. Intrinsic equality is not affected by such superficialities as social and economic stature. A homeless human being is as worthy of his/her constitutional rights and protections as the most worldly "successful" person -- including a great mob lawyer and mayor of the most celebrated city on Earth, such as yourself. (As an aside, Oscar, I noticed that you enjoyed a "landslide" re-election thanks to a whopping 15 percent voter turn out. Yes, you received 85 percent of the vote, but 85 percent of 15 percent is...well, damn close to nothing. George Dubya would be most proud.)
I'm done talking to you, Oscar. These words are surely as futile against the barriers in your heart as the most hackneyed betting system against the Bellagio. The time for words has past; positive action is all that remains.
I've decided to explore the nightmare of homelessness in Las Vegas from a first-hand perspective. I'm boarding a Greyhound bus on the morning of May 5th, and will be arriving in the downtown of your "great city" early the next day. For two weeks, I will attempt to live and work utilizing only the resources available to the homeless. Will I have enough to eat? Will I be able to find shelter? If I linger too long near a tourist cash trap without spending money, will your goons arrest me, beat me, or submit me to a local military installation for chemical experimentation? These are the questions I seek to answer.
FYI, in late 2005, I proposed the above project to several major network affiliates in Las Vegas, and two (NBC and FOX) expressed the desire to cover it. However, I delayed my experiment indefinitely, in part because a number of friends and loved ones convinced me that my life would be in real peril. That fact has not changed, but my resolve is now absolute. I'm going to live homeless in the Godforsaken kingdom over which you rule, and tell the whole world exactly what happens.
By the way, at least one major network has again expressed interest in covering my exploits, so you would be wise to abort any plans to hunt me down and "disappear" me (a method to which your mob buddies surely well-acquainted you). I'm kind of joking, but then again, I'm not. I take your Hitleresque sociopathy very seriously, and I've no desire to be claimed as another in your city's long line of victims. As Rocky Balboa said, "Some people come to Vegas to lose. I didn't."
Michael Goodsleed (aka Stuart Andrew Talbott)