Full color companion to my memoir The Incompetent Psychic
During the skinny years of college when I wasn’t old enough to work in casinos, I figured out how to make money while studying. A favorite trick was the Dept. of Motor Vehicles line. Las Vegas was so transient, it was the only city in the US that published two phone books every year. You think the line is slow with modern computers? DMV had one facility that served thousands a day. It was an enormous room of folding chairs, a long wall of counters and one ‘Take a Number’ machine under a ‘Now Serving’ readout at the entrance. There were always a hundred people in line ahead. I would stop by with a book, get a number and study for two hours. Close to the time, I would go out to watch the parking lot for a Cadillac or Lincoln pulling in. Any guy wearing loud pants and gold jewelry was happy to buy my number for twenty bucks once he looked at the NOW SERVING readout. — From Chapter 3
The cherries finally lined up during my senior year of college. Money clanked out of the machine after I landed a lucky part time job selling flowers in a casino. Lordy but I miss those days of tactile, mechanical slot machines… of yanking a handle and hearing the noise of coins filling a metal tray when the plums, bells, bars and cherries on spinning wheels stopped in a line. I remember the weight of a bucket of quarters, and of Eisenhower silver dollars. The digital monsters of contemporary casinos have abstracted the reality of both money and play. The sounds they make are fake. Gambling used to be fun. Now slot machines are dumb computer games—designed to distract us from comprehending that we’re tapping buttons to invisibly, electronically drain our bank accounts and max our credit cards as quickly as possible.
Fortunately, gambling wasn’t one of the addictions I needed to recover from, so giving up the hypnotically blinking money-suckers that used to have slots was easy. The cheerful, clanking casinos of yore are now frozen in the same nostalgic amber as Liberace, smoking on airplanes and graduating college without debt.
A signed copy of Mernie’s memoir is available at www.etsy.com/listing/839838936
Unsigned copies can be ordered wherever books are sold.