I was going to open this Editor’s Note with some overwrought line like, “In a city built on risk, chance, and the allure of the unknown, it’s hideously ironic that we now find ourselves facing a vast uncertainty that could swallow us.” But I distrust it. It feels like an attempt to outflank or glibly deflect the enormity of this uncertain moment. What will a post-pandemic Las Vegas look like? I don’t know. Nobody knows. We can barely get our heads around the unreality of our current reality: As I write this, the Strip, our crazy, gaudy, blingy heart, is stopped. Streets and stores are empty. Our homes are now offices and day-care centers and movie theaters. We show our love for family and friends by distancing ourselves. Nobody knows when any of that will change.
But, if the earnest human cooperation that turns the stay-at-home order into a life-saving tool is any indication, I do know that unified collective effort is powerful enough to turn a tide, flatten a curve, and swerve us out of the way of a disastrous possible future. I have faith that reasonable, intelligent people of good will can rise up in singular intent and make the seemingly impossible happen. We can’t stop the future, but we can shape it — and shape to it — as it makes itself known. With that idea as our foundation, I’m confident that Las Vegas can come back again — altered, deeply altered, no doubt — but also defiantly alive.
This issue of Desert Companion, I hope, contains a few molecules of that foundation. We consider the strange dynamics of our new forced domesticity in our collection of “Life on the Inside” essays. We grapple with how a newly “inessential” Las Vegas might remake itself in David G. Schwartz’s “What Happened Here.” And we share visual stories of Las Vegas, as it was and as it is now, in our showcase of “Focus on Nevada” photo contest winners.
There are few certainties in this issue. It’s filled with fretting, doubt, even fear — but also hope. I mean, ha, it’s not like any of us can go anywhere anyway. Hope is the canned soup at the back of the cupboard that sustains you when you’re utterly stuck. Hope is the hungover tourist missing his flight home, but he refuses to worry — another one is coming around, another chance, soon, you know it. This is Las Vegas, after all.