But one thing that didn't seem to fit the Vegas stereotype was just how into the Titanic disaster the whole strip seems to be. I bought this there:
It's a tiny lump of coal that sank with the Titanic.
I know from my obsessive internet scrubbing that coal is really the only artifact from Titanic you can buy, and RMS Titanic Inc. is the only company authorized to sell it. You can buy it online, but for some reason Las Vegas is the only physical place I've seen where you can buy it in person. (You would think maybe New York? No?) I think I paid $25 for this. They have bigger chunks in nicer cases for more money.
This is the Titanic artifact exhibition at the Luxor. The coal is from the "gift shop". (It feels weird to write that - a gift shop dedicated to a major disaster)
The exhibition itself was actually pretty amazing. They have lots of stuff pulled up from the wreck, and seeing it all up close really makes it a lot more personal. You see the movies and read whatever books about it, but it all still feels like a story someone else is telling. When you see somebody's glasses, their pocket watch, their socks right in front of you, it's no longer detached from you. These were real people.
They also have "The Big Piece", which is pretty awe-inspiring. Unfortunately they do not let you take photos of anything in there and I followed that rule, but there are some at that linked article. I can tell you that their pictures don't capture it, though. It's huge, and it towers over you in that room. It's amazing to look at it and realize that you are looking at part of the actual Titanic. The ship that's in the movies, that everyone's been talking about for more than 100 years, that I was actually alive before it had even been found - here it is.
Vegas is Titanic-crazy in other ways too, though - it seemed like every show we went to (even the topless shows) had some weirdly out of place skit about the ship sinking. All I can think is that it's a remaining vestige of James Cameron's movie mania. Hotels are torn down and rebuilt on a daily basis in Vegas, but it seems to take a lot longer to retool a show or exhibition.
I love ocean liners and I've always had an interest in Titanic (even - or maybe especially - before Cameron's movie), so this was kind of an unexpected bonus to our Vegas visit.