Posted by: jhamon | May 29, 2009

Video: Lost Vegas

I lived in Las Vegas for four years, from 2001 to 2005.  I had moved my wife and daughter there after we sold our home in Cardiff by the Sea to enter a business partnership that did not work out as I had planned. We were far from our extended family and friends and the beach we loved so well and living in a place that we had never, ever dreamed of going – or ever desired to visit on vacation.  We bought a big fancy house in a “nice” part of town and put our daughter in a private school.  We were going to live in a bubble in Las Vegas for a year or two while I made my fortune.  Instead, God took hold of my life just a month or so before the September 11th attacks.

(Lost Vegas video here.)

As a self-employed trader, I was up early (before the open) watching CNBC’s live shot when the second tower was struck.  As for so many who lived through those events, it was a watershed in my life.

James 4:13-14 (NLT)  Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”;  (14)  whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.

I was that guy.  I had moved to Las Vegas to seek fortune and I had suddenly come face to face with my mortality and the folly of my ways.  In the aftermath of 9/11 I started to think differently.  I was a new believer, but I was eager to share this incredibly Good News of grace with others.

I was very fortunate to be discipled by two remarkable men: Pastor Tom Cameron and Robin Joyce (now a pastor at Canyon Ridge).  Both guys had been in advertising and both had become “fishers of men,”  so they knew how to get their messages across.  It was Tom who got me involved in chaplaincy at University Medical Center, the trauma center for Las Vegas.

In the trauma center, the ICU and the indigent ward, we saw the unloveliest of unlovely: people dying of all manner of diseases, often self-induced through years of sex, drugs, food and alcohol abuse.  It was there I saw in practice how God lovingly seeks to restore all people to Him and that is never too late for a person to humble himself and to receive forgiveness and life.

I used to say that when you circle the drain in America, you do it in Las Vegas.  If you couldn’t make it in LA or Detroit or Jacksonville or Dayton or Grant’s Hollow, there was work for you in Las Vegas, because 2001-2005 was the very peak of the boom-boom Las Vegas real estate phenomenon.  It became a feedback loop, a Sornette style bubble: as literally thousands of people moved to Las Vegas every month they bought houses and pools and lawns, and in turn employed new people to build houses and pools and to plant lawns, who themselves bought houses and pools and lawns.  By 2005, when we sold our home in Summerlin and moved back to San Diego, it was clear that the bubble was on the verge of bursting.  It wasn’t that I was a prophet; it was simply an unsustainable cycle.

So I watched this video with interest and then with sorrow at the aftermath of the Great Bubble.



  1. […] June 8, 2009 Lost Vegas Follow On! Posted by jhamon under Bizarre, Business, Hedge Fund, Real Estate, Uncategorized No Comments  An ironic follow-on to my posting of the Lost Vegas video. […]

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