Have you ever heard of Hunter Thompson, the famous Rolling Stone journalist that wrote Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas? Well, Jason Gay, a professional journalist for the Wall Street Journal, decided to have a psychoactive night, probably not as intense as Mr. Thompson would have had, with now legal recreational marijuana at the Maywather-McGregor boxing match. He wanted to get a full feel for the new Las Vegas. Do you see Las Vegas differently now that it has legalized recreational marijuana?
I was somewhere outside of the T-Mobile Arena when the drugs began to take hold.
My proposal had been simple and innocent: travel to Las Vegas for the ridiculous Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor boxing match on Saturday.
And before the fight, partake in a little of Sin City’s latest indulgence:
I’d keep it low-key. No fear. No loathing. I asked my Journal boss if it’d be OK.
“I’ve assumed you were smoking something whenever I’ve read pretty well anything you’ve written,” he said. “Fine with me.”
Friday night, upon arrival, I made the buy. Vegas stinks of weed dispensaries now; Nevada went recreational-legal on July 1 and they’re popping up everywhere, like Taco Bells. I chose one called Reef, not far from the Strip. The world’s happiest line curled out of the door, like a nightclub’s.
Inside: It was crazy. Or rather: It was crazy because it wasn’t crazy at all. The showroom resembled an Apple store…actually, you know that store at the airport where you can buy an iPhone charger, or a pair of headphones? It looked like that. Clean lines, well lit, friendly store associates, samples of the merchandise in jars to smell (no smoking inside!) and…menus.
I knew I wanted edibles, i.e. candy or a snack infused with THC. Edibles would be simple, easy to carry, no smoke, no mess.
I tried to be cool talking to the store associate: Yeah I want something, you know, chill, like to go to the…um…movies.
Of course, I look like a Dad taking other Dads to a Dad Convention in a Dad Car.
“Gummies,” she recommended sweetly.
I went with two gummy packets, to have options: mango edible chews and grape hybrid sour gummies. The whole shopping experience was blisteringly normal; it’s more intimidating to go to the butcher. My purchase was sealed in a white 8×11 packet, like a set of wedding photos.
The total was $44.38. I believe I can expense this.
Fight night, I was ready. Now I know what you’re thinking, my Journal gang: You got to take it easy with edibles, man. I knew that. I didn’t want to have a bad trip like Maureen Dowd; I worry she’s still curled up on that hotel bed in Denver. Popping special gummies like regular gummies would be a terrible idea.
Especially in Vegas. “This is not a good town for psychedelic drugs,” Hunter S. Thompson had written in his 1971 masterpiece. “Reality itself is too twisted.”
I would be on approximately 1/100,000th of what the good doctor had been on, but I was careful. I had half a gummy after dinner. Another half closer to fight time. Then word began to spread that the Mayweather-McGregor fight might be delayed because of pay-per-view TV issues. Oh man, this is going to ruin everything, I worried.
In the meantime, I texted with friends. I chatted with a nice guy from Sports Illustrated. I watched the NBA superstar James Harden walk in. I saw the hip-hop star Quavo. I also saw the hairy Sasquatch from those beef jerky commercials. That messed with my brain a little, watching the hairy Sasquatch from those beef jerky commercials.
I want to be clear: just like the woman at the store promised, this buzz was mild. I hate “Reefer Madness”-style hysteria about drugs and this was absolutely nothing like that. It felt warm and mellow, like a good drink by a fireplace. There was nothing jarring or worrisome. I may have enjoyed staring at colorful lights a little bit more than normal.
Basically, the gummies amplified everything: the lights, the noise, the ridiculousness. Which was perfect for this fight, which was loud from its genesis, its social media call-outs and promises of history and its press tour via dueling private jets. The fight offended purists, the news conferences were crude, it was wildly overpriced and the arena didn’t even sell out. Nothing about this fight was quiet or neutral. Being stoned was definitely the way to go.
The room darkened suddenly and the crowd roared. Pay-per-view crisis apparently averted, McGregor and then Mayweather wound their way to the ring. I couldn’t believe this cuckoo stunt was actually happening.
By now you know McGregor lost via technical knockout in the 10th round, but acquitted himself rather well. That’s the verdict, and I guess that’s true. Or true-ish. I don’t believe this is the gummies talking when I say Mayweather appeared utterly in control the whole night, even in the early rounds, when a handful of McGregor’s awkward swings landed and got the crowd buzzing. By the middle of the battle, the Irish fighter was gassed. For the patient Mayweather, now uncharacteristically on the offensive, it was matter of When, not If.
The When came in the 10th, after a flurry of Mayweather punches. McGregor thinks the referee stopped the fight too early, but that’s absurd. The referee did him a favor, letting him finish on his feet.
Shocker: The experienced boxing professional beat the guy who’d never boxed professionally. What most of the “experts” and talking heads predicted would happen, actually happened. It was like America in 2015.
And everyone won, really—Mayweather, McGregor, boxing, the UFC, Las Vegas. The people who thought we were idiots for watching still get to think we’re idiots. The people who watched don’t feel as foolish as they worried they might.
“He’s a lot better than I thought he was,” Mayweather said when it was over. “He’s a tough competitor.”
“I’ve been here before,” McGregor said, referring to a UFC loss a couple of years ago. “I’ve been strangled on live TV and came back.”
Both men seemed chipper, and why not? Reportedly, they’ll collect nine-figure paydays for the half-hour or so of trouble. Mayweather, now 50-0, said he’s “done,” retired for good, and McGregor said he’ll wind his way back to the UFC, but we’ve seen this movie too many times to rule anything out, especially with the fight’s charitable afterglow of that wasn’t as terrible as I thought it would be.
That’s what the world has come to, folks. From sports, to air travel, to reading the world news headlines in the morning, “That wasn’t as terrible as I thought it would be” is the new “This is great!”
Gummy haze still kicking, I headed out of the arena with the end of the crowd. In the plaza in front of the entrance, a cluster of McGregor fans wrapped in Irish flags merrily danced. A pair of men passed by in matching Versace bathrobes. Fight T-shirts were on sale for a price-slashed $10.
As I got around the corner, outside of the New York-New York Hotel and Casino, I saw it: a ghastly replica of the Brooklyn Bridge, the actual magnificent version of which is just a few blocks from my home. It did not soar like the real thing; it merely stood there, as if embarrassed for itself. It had a sign for Bud Light at its top, and nearby, a store called Stupididiotic.
Why did anyone think this fight didn’t make sense? It made perfect sense, especially here, another brilliantly inane proposition in a city that is itself an inane proposition. Stupididiotic is what people love about this town—from gambling away the rent, to 36 oz. margaritas, to legal and candidly fantastic grape hybrid sour gummies, Las Vegas has always been a comical representation of our national id. Loud, shameless and driven by money, Floyd Mayweather boxing Conor McGregor was exactly the sporting event America deserved in 2017.
Buy the ticket, take the ride, Thompson had written all those years before.
That’s what I thought about as the desert night wound down on the madness.
I also stared for a long time at a water fountain, and ate a whole bag of potato chips back at the hotel.
When Boxing Goes Low, I Go High – cetusnews