Monday, February 28, 2005

Last Day of February

I don't have to spell Feruary anymore. Thank God. It's the most mispelled month for me.

Hardest day of the week for me to spell? Tuesday.

Least difficult member of the Jackson Five to spell? Tito.

"Fuck the Oscars! I won an Indie Spirit Award instead."

In entertainment news, I won Jenna's office Oscar pool. First place won a bottle of Pinot in homage to Sideways. Gothamist has some pretty good Live Blogging Oscar coverage. Here's a good article about the Spirit Awards called At the Anti-Awards Ceremony, a Definite 'Sideways' Tilt.

By the way, I wish I was this guy! Oh yeah, and this guy!

Recent Poker Playing Music...
1. Shuggie Otis
2. The Grateful Dead
3. Ben Harper
4. Velvet Underground
5. Sam Phillips
More Feelance Pauly

I have 10 articles due for the month of March and I am looking to write more. I am almost done with one, so I got 9 more to go. I recently had two published: Marcal Luske player profile and a book review on The Tao of Poker by Larry Phillips. Check them out.

Recent Writing Music...
1. The Duhks
2. Marcia Ball
3. The Mavericks
4. Solomon Burke
5. Bob Marley

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Sunday Link Dump: Phisheads, Potheads, Stolen Sperm, and Thomas Friedman

Trey and Mike during Y.E.M. at IT.

Phish was nominated for two Jammy awards for Tour of the Year (Summer 2004) and DVD of the Year (PHISH IT). Mike Gordon received a nod for Best Download of the Year (12/31/04 with Benevento/Russo Duo in NYC).

Chong's Marijuana-logues = Up in Smoke. Here's a bit:
"The Marijuana-Logues" has canceled its spring tour after its star, Tommy Chong, was barred from performing in it because audience members were frequently lighting up during the show.
And this made me chuckle: Man can sue over stolen sperm. Here's a spurt:
An appeals court said a man can press a claim for emotional distress after learning a former lover had used his sperm to have a baby. But he can't claim theft, the ruling said, because the sperm were hers to keep... Phillips accuses Dr. Sharon Irons of a "calculated, profound personal betrayal" after their affair six years ago, saying she secretly kept semen after they had oral sex, then used it to get pregnant.
And my Sunday's are not complete without a Thomas Friedman op-ed piece. Here are four from Freidman:
1. The Tipping Points
2. Honey, I Shrunk the Dollar
3. When Camels Fly
4. "Hama Rules"
I have finally caught up on my Freidman reading.
Miami Part II: Sunshine and Daydreams
"The past is not dead. In fact, it's not even past." - William Faulkner
19 Feb 2005, Miami, FL... I woke up and wrote for a while avoiding all temptations to check my email. I sat outside in the early morning sun to read the local paper. When Jerry woke up, we headed off to the Hard Rock in Hollywood to meet up with Shappy. We all went to college together many moons ago in Atlanta and have mellowed out over the years. If you think I'm crazy today, you should have met me thirteen years ago. I was a disheveled lunatic. I think it was the steady diet of Taco Bell, Jim Beam, and mushrooms that drove me insane back in the pre-internet days when Kurt Cobain was still snorting China White and I had a penchant for young, promiscuous, self-destructive, alcoholic Southern girls who could have walked straight off the pages of a Tennessee Williams manuscript.

I first started playing a lot of cards in college when I lived in my fraternity house. We played a lot of Spades before and after dinner and even held house tournaments. My Spades partner was my good friend Jon Schanzer. During the long, hot, boring summers, we'd often play Spades to break up the down time in between hitting golf balls off our front lawn into the parking deck across the street or visiting one of the many Gentleman's Clubs all over Atlanta (ok, they were strip bars... Cheetah, 24K, Tops N Tails, even the Gold Club and my favorite The Pink Pony). Again this was way before the internet was more accessible and we didn't have cable TV.

We played poker too. Lots of it. Our wild sessions would include guts games like Four Barrel, Kings and Little Men, seven-card stud, and five-card draw. No hold'em at all. Jerry used to host games at his apartment. After we got the girls across the hall hooked, two tables were going on nightly. The games would last until sunrise and we'd try to get Smooth the three-legged cat stoned. Cards was an activity we participated in frequently in college, and that's where the origins of my journey as a card player began. We even took trips down to the riverboats in Biloxi, Mississippi (Casino Magic anyone?) to play blackjack and Caribbean Stud when they first legalized gambling down there.

Man, I should write a book about my gambling life during my frenetic early twenties living in the heart of Dixie Land. I have hundreds of stories about endless card games, skipping school to follow the Grateful Dead all over the Southeast in a hallucinogenic fog, and sordid tales about drunken binges during Mardi Gras and Jazzfest in New Orleans. By the way Shappy was a loose cannon in college and could party it up like a rock star. In his apartment, he had a photocopy machine and his pet iguana named... Iggy. I can't make shit like that up. Shappy had a lizard named Iggy and that fucker ended up eating my stash... sort of. That's a long story and due to legal reasons, I cannot go into the specifics of Iggy, the marijuana munching iguana. Those are some warm memories and deserve to be preserved in a novel someday.

Anyway, back to the Hard Rock casino... Shappy arrived early and met us inside at the poker room. We walked through the outdoor mall filled with different shops, art galleries, and restaurants to get to the poker room. It was 11am and everything was still opening. When we got to the sign in desk, we requested to sit together at the same table. We had to wait until they decided to open up a new table.

The wait wasn't too long, maybe a half hour. In the meantime, Shappy showed me his "Fish" ID. He laminated a cheat sheet of hand rankings. He printed it up on his computer at home. I couldn't tell if he was trying to act like a fish or was really a fish. He didn't care. He was there to have fun and he was content to loose a couple of hundred dollars. He said he had been playing on Party Poker and had a regular game at his club on Tuesdays. He wanted to get me into the $1000 buy in game. It sounded really juicy but I was leaving before then. Next time.
The lineup:
Seat 1: Judge Smails
Seat 2: Morty Seinfeld look-a-like with mask
Seat 3: Captain Stubbing
Seat 4: Looked like the Cop from The Village People
Seat 5: UM Jersey wearing Rebuy Guy
Seat 6: Mr. Know It All
Seat 7: Young black guy, offensive lineman
Seat 8: Pauly
Seat 9: Jerry
Seat 10: Shappy
That was the pretty much the lineup that sticks in my head. We played at a new table, straight $2. I bought in for $100 because I knew it was going to be a wild ride. I bankrolled Jerry and he had $50 on the table. Shappy started with $100. In the first orbit I had KK twice. Pocket Hellmuths told me to raise preflop both times. I got eight callers once and lucky for me, no aces fell on the flop. Well, both held up and I had an early lead. We ordered a first round of drinks, a Corona for me and Jack Daniels and diet coke for the guys.

I wasn't paying that much attention to the table but a couple of guys were calling everything. I was joking around and catching up with Shappy. I played a few hands and somewhere in the middle of our second round of drinks I declared that I was going to play every hand for a full orbit. I started with the big blind a KTs and ended up playing or seeing 14 straight flops. AK lost and I won a huge pot with 57s when I flopped an open ended straight flush draw. I got a little excited because the Hard Rock offers a bad beat jackpot. I missed my straight flush but still won the pot with a baby flush. I had doubled up my buy-in during my see every flop experiment. I was tempted to keep it up, but opted to take a 15 minute break and grab a slice of pizza from the food court and called Derek.

I can't recall much from the middle part of the session. I stopped taking notes and was bleeding my stack away on the rake and pots more so than losing to any of the other players at the table. Shappy and Jerry got a kick out of what I'd say to female dealers after I won a pot. While I scooped my pot, I'd toss a $2 chip to the dealer and say, "Thanks, Sweetie."

The wondered if I would say that to any male dealers. I told them I just say, "Thanks, Honeybunch."

My favorite dealer was a guy who looked like a young, homosexual version of Ving Rhames. He dealt fast and was on top of the action. He definitely picked up the pace of the game. When it was your turn to bet he'd chirp, "Two to you!" and if you folded he'd smile and say, "Too-da-loo!"

There was one funny moment when the young black kid next to me, who was the size of an offensive lineman, went heads up with Shappy. At one point Shappy pulled out his sunglasses and put them on. The kid couldn't stop laughing and they battled all the way to the river. I think Shappy rivered the guy and after he scooped the pot he pulled out his cheat sheet and showed it to the kid. I tried not to laugh.

Shappy's Cheat Sheet

We had a new waitress, a hot blonde named Haley, of course. I couldn't tell if she was busting on me for switching to ginger ale instead of beer or if she was just joking around. Jerry and Shappy knocked back cocktails at a fast pace. Jerry had nearly lost all of his buy in and I gave him another $50 to rebuy. He won a big pot right away when he flopped a set with 44. He also took down a nice pot with KK. All three of us won with pocket Hellmuths.

The last third of the session was all highlighted by the drunken antics of Shappy throwing his money around. Our table was located in the back near the tournament tables. We were along the wall, and my back in Seat 8 was against the rail. At any given time I'd turn around and there would be a group of five or six people standing there. Sometimes I'd ham it up and show them my hole cards. Never got The Hammer though. That would have been fun.

When a couple of railbirds tried to hit on Haley, our hot waitress, Shappy leaned back in his chair and snapped at the middle-aged tourists from Long Island, "That's as close you're gonna get, buddy!"

They were quiet for a few seconds until one of them finally shouted out, "Go back to losing your money."

One of their friends was sitting in Seat 2. And that idiot cracked my KK with AJ when he river'd me. At that point I went on a cold streak. All my good hands were cracked. 10-10 twice, AK, and JJ. Jerry had stormed back and was past breaking even.

In the last hour Shappy started overtipping the dealers and ordered more drinks. We were heads up at one point. He had nothing. I knew that. But I had nothing either. I had 46s. He had 59o. I flopped bottom pair and he caught a 5 on the river. My 6s beat his 5s! Insane. That drew grumbles from the table. He ended up pissing everyone off when he gave one dealer a fat tip when she left. He was raising every pot preflop and seeing everything tot he river. He won four pots in a row... each time on the river. He got Mr. Know It All on tilt when his KK were cracked by Shappy's ATo. Even Shappy stung me with his magical river work. My AJs lost to K6o. He caught a four flush on the river to beat my two pair.

I was down about $50 and I figured that covered the generous tips, bar tab, and the rake. Not bad for seven and half hours of poker. I was there to have fun and hang out. It was well worth the price since I had a blast with two old friends. Jerry won $25 too! I took my cut. Shappy dropped nearly $300. Almost $80 of that was in tips to the two last dealers. If you count all the other tips for all the pots he won and drinks he bought with his chips, I'd say $150 went to the house and the staff in one way or another. Only half his stack went to the other players.

Jerry at the grill and Pauly making cocktails

We got back to Jerry's where the wives were hanging out. Jerry fired up the grill and prepped dinner: shrimps, steaks, corn, mac and cheese, and sausage. I mixed a few cocktails for everyone and we were ready for a late night feast.

After dinner, Jerry started a game of dominos. I haven't played since college and forgot the basics.

It's not a tough game and I picked up right away. There's limited strategy involved and I was paying more attention to drinking my beer and talking to Shappy. We played five handed and Shappy's wife Annette ended up edging out Sarah for the win. I almost came in last place too.

It's always good to party and gamble and BBQ with old friends, especially ones who live in a warmer climate. Whenever I hang out with Jerry... it's all good.
Sunday Picture Dump

Here are some of random pictures that I took during my trip to Miami. You can click on the pictures to enlarge.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

More Hunter

Drinks with Hunter is a chilling read.

There's a cool photo gallery of Hunter from Rocky Mountain News. Check out their news archives for random news on Hunter.

Lastly, make sure you read one of my favorite pieces of writing... ever.... called The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved by Hunter S. Thompson. Here's a bit:
In the air-conditioned lounge I met a man from Houston who said his name was something or other--"but just call me Jimbo"--and he was here to get it on. "I'm ready for anything, by God! Anything at all. Yeah, what are you drinkin?" I ordered a Margarita with ice, but he wouldn't hear of it: "Naw, naw...what the hell kind of drink is that for Kentucky Derby time? What's wrong with you, boy?" He grinned and winked at the bartender. "Goddam, we gotta educate this boy. Get him some good whiskey..."

I shrugged. "Okay, a double Old Fitz on ice." Jimbo nodded his approval.

"Look." He tapped me on the arm to make sure I was listening. "I know this Derby crowd, I come here every year, and let me tell you one thing I've learned--this is no town to be giving people the impression you're some kind of faggot. Not in public, anyway. Shit, they'll roll you in a minute, knock you in the head and take every goddam cent you have."

I thanked him and fitted a Marlboro into my cigarette holder. "Say," he said, "you look like you might be in the horse I right?"

"No," I said. "I'm a photographer."

"Oh yeah?" He eyed my ragged leather bag with new interest. "Is that what you got there--cameras? Who you work for?"

"Playboy," I said.

He laughed. "Well, goddam! What are you gonna take pictures of--nekkid horses? Haw! I guess you'll be workin' pretty hard when they run the Kentucky Oaks. That's a race just for fillies." He was laughing wildly. "Hell yes! And they'll all be nekkid too!"

I shook my head and said nothing; just stared at him for a moment, trying to look grim. "There's going to be trouble," I said. "My assignment is to take pictures of the riot."

"What riot?"

I hesitated, twirling the ice in my drink. "At the track. On Derby Day. The Black Panthers." I stared at him again. "Don't you read the newspapers?"

The grin on his face had collapsed. "What the hell are you talkin' about?"

"Well...maybe I shouldn't be telling you..." I shrugged. "But hell, everybody else seems to know. The cops and the National Guard have been getting ready for six weeks. They have 20,000 troops on alert at Fort Knox. They've warned us--all the press and photographers--to wear helmets and special vests like flak jackets. We were told to expect shooting..."

"No!" he shouted; his hands flew up and hovered momentarily between us, as if to ward off the words he was hearing. Then he whacked his fist on the bar. "Those sons of bitches! God

Almighty! The Kentucky Derby!" He kept shaking his head. "No! Jesus! That's almost too bad to believe!" Now he seemed to be sagging on the stool, and when he looked up his eyes were misty. "Why? Why here? Don't they respect anything?"

I shrugged again. "It's not just the Panthers. The FBI says busloads of white crazies are coming in from all over the country--to mix with the crowd and attack all at once, from every direction. They'll be dressed like everybody else. You know--coats and ties and all that. But when the trouble starts...well, that's why the cops are so worried."... More

Friday, February 25, 2005

Good Morning Springfield

Click to enlarge the cast of The Simpsons

Who are your favorite 5 random characters? I'll tell you mine...
1. Otto
2. Bumble Bee Man
3. Moe
4. Uter the fat German foreign exchange student
5. Ralph Wiggum!

Thursday, February 24, 2005

The Pope, Paris, Lindsay, and a Jacked Up Jessica

BG sent me this interesting email exchange between Lindsay Lohan and Paris.

OK so I called BG earlier this evening. He was chilling at his fortified compound in Western Michigan with Frye the Wonder Dog.

"Yo dude, would it make us bad Catholics if we bet on when the Pope is gonna die?" I asked. A few minutes later he gave me his answer for out Weekly Prop Bet.

11 Days. He said that the Pope has 11 days to live. I allowed him +/- one day. So if the Pope dies 10-12 days from now... March 6,7, or 8... BG wins $5. Here's to a speedy recovery for JP2!
The OC

I'll give you two reasons why I dig The OC.... wet lesbians.

Summer in the rain wasn't bad either.

Click to enlarge
Champagne Monkeys

Expect a random post. My brian is all over the map this morning.

It's not even 11am and I am already down $80 playing poker for less than an hour. February has been a bad month for me. My bankroll has been brutalized. Anyway... at least I am getting paychecks, new assignments, and published.

I had an article published over this weekend, a profile on Howard Lederer. I had another article accepted the other day and will be published this weekend. On a cool note, I was given three new assignments in addition to two I am currently working on. Wow, five pieces in the next ten days. I know I can pull it off. I already got pre-paid for one! An email came my way last night saying that a check was mailed out to me for a future article. That's pretty cool... my first advance.

Briana and Jenna both admitted to me that they drink Soy Lattes. Doesn't that make you want to puke?

Thanks to Tony Pierce who linked up the Tao of Poker yesterday to his infamous blog. Not that I needed his help to increase traffic, but there was a spike in visitors yesterday coming from his site. So thanks Tony!

Man, I'm still shocked that my poker blog is getting 6,000 visitors a week and a lot of them are first timers. 14 months ago, there were thirty readers a day. The Tao of Poker clocks in at 1,000 visits on a weekday and 500 per day on the weekends. Unreal. I should be shot. I'm grateful for the spill over traffic that my poker blog gives the Tao of Pauly and Truckin'. I dream of the day that this little corner of the web reaches 5,000 hits a week.

Aside from a few spikes thanks to Google searches for Lindsay Lohan's boobs, Tara Reid's nipple slip, Scarlet Johansen naked, and now Paris Hilton's hacked Sidekick... the readership here is a smaller niche group. In in the end, I am more happy to know that I have thirty or so daily and dedicated readers (like Girtz and Modeski) here on the Tao of Pauly than the swarms of thousands of poker readers. You guys are the first and I'll pull my poker blog before I ever pull this one.

Here's a bone (thanks to Boy Genius): Paris' address book.

Moving on... It's supposed to snow again tonight. Man, that makes me wish I was still in sunny Miami!

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Miami Trip Report Part I

The High Life

I exited the subway and rushed up the stairs at the Times Square station past a few tourists and an old lady with a cane. I glanced down and saw an orphaned playing card. It was the Jack of Clubs. I snickered. I few weeks ago my brother told me he saw a random card in front of our mother's apartment building. It was the Seven of Spades. I thought about picking them up and starting a collection of found art objects. I wondered how long it would take before I found a full deck. Five years? Six years?

As I reached the top step and bolted towards the Shuttle to Grand Central, one of L. Ron Hubbard's low-level thugs nearly tackled me. The Church of Scientology gave free stress tests to any busy New Yorkers who took the time to chat with them. A black woman sat in a chair while an older woman with blonde hair asked her a series of questions and took her blood pressure. She was holding a free copy of Dianetics. I shook off my mark with a juke step and blew past him.

I stopped off at Hot N Crusty in Grand Central Station for a black and white cookie, an orange Gatorade, and a chocolate donut before I walked outside past the lunch crowd over to the airport express bus stop. I bought a copy of the NY Times from a blind street vendor and gave him an extra $1 as a tip. Really it was a bribe. A pathetic one at that.

The security checkpoint at LaGuardia airport was backed up. I estimated the delay at 35 minutes. With plenty of time before my flight, I read the rest of the Times and dragged my bag behind me. A little girl back in line was whining incessantly. I sighed not because she was annoying, rather I felt sorry for her mother who was doing everything to get her to relax and wait in line like the hundreds of other passengers. The mother promised everything under the sun to the young spoiled princess yet she still continued her tantrum.

"Mommy, everyone is staring at me."

"Yes they are dear. Because you are making a scene."

"It's not polite to stare. No one is polite here."

That got a few chuckles from the crowd.

When I got to my gate, there weren't too many empty seats in the small waiting area. I found one, but it was next to a family who had a dog sitting in their lap. I had a bad feeling I was going to get stuck to them on my flight. The majority of the people on my flight looked like families on a mid-Winter vacation. I wandered over to the Air Canada gate and they had a lot of empty seats. I sat down and read the last fifty pages of Small Stakes Hold'em, hoping that a cute Canadian girl would sit down next to me and start a conversation about Marshall McLuhan and the new Degrassi show. That never happened, so I fielded a few last minute phone calls and ate my black and white cookie. I whipped out a notebook and jotted a few things down.
1:31pm EST... Sometimes airports can be depressing in a solitary kind of way. Not everyone who travels is going on a vacation. And even those who are on vacation, some of them are a little sad that they have to go back home to their real lives. One suit sits across from me eats an over-priced craft services sandwich and tries not to get mayonnaise on his tie. Another suit talks on his phone about his breakfast meeting at the head office. A young woman stares at one of the TVs and tries to lose herself in the CNN broadcast. A lot of sullen faces today at the airport. It's 32 degrees and I can almost feel the warm Florida sun on my skin.
I requested an aisle seat something I like because I frequently get up to stretch my legs and hit the bathroom. I drink a lot of water on flights so I'm always pissing. The family with the dog took up five out of the six seats in front of me. The father looked like Neil Diamond and he was taking the wife, three kids, and Arnold the dog to Florida.

Do I have to tell you what it was like to sit behind a dog who whined and barked the first hour of the flight? I'd rather not relive that awful experience. The flight was full so I could not change my seat. Sure, JetBlue has their own direct TVs for everyone on board, but not even watching the Big Lebowski could prevent me from thinking of 101 ways to silence the pooch. Someone on board had to holding valium. We could give that to Arnold the dog. How about locking the dog into one of the bathrooms?

In the back of my mind I began writing the first draft of my complaint letter to the suits over at JetBlue, how I wish their changed their pets policy and go back to the old days when you chucked Rover or Fluffy down below with everyone's luggage. At least the flight was only two and a half hours and the dog only ruined 40% of my flight.

Jerry picked me up at the airport and it was good to be back in warm Florida. My last trip was special and I had not seen Jerry and his wife Sarah since then. It was Thursday night and we ordered some local Italian food at Steve's. That was one great chicken parmigania sandwich, lemme tell ya. We watched The OC and I saw my first episode ever of CSI. I know that Wil just taped his spot so I know have a rough idea what the show is about. I'm looking forward to seeing how his episode turns out. The one I caught was freaky. First of all, I had no idea it took place in Vegas. Second, the episode had this weird baby fetish thing where people gave each other LSD enemas and shit themselves in adult sized diapers. I'm not making that up either. I was tired and crashed after I wrote for a little bit.

Jerry woke me up early so I could drive him to work. He gave me his car so I could hit up the Seminole Hard Rock Casino. I went back to his house, took a dip in the pool, busted into the liquor cabinet, sat out in the sun for a while, took random pictures, and read. I avoided the temptation to check my email and read my favorite blogs. I focused on watching Dawson's Creek instead and ate cold pizza. I found out that the poker room at Seminole was 24 hours so I jumped in the car. The drive was 25 minutes up the Florida turnpike to the Hard Rock. I parked in the deck and wandered into the casino.

My initial impression of the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood was that it was much bigger than the one in Vegas. In Florida, they only allow slot machines and poker, so there are no table games. It was around 11:30am and I briskly walked past hordes of senior citizens pissing away their social security checks with each pull of the level. I found the center bar, which was empty and looked cool with dozens of TVs everywhere. I asked the bartender where the poker room was located. He pointed and I found it.

The Hard Rock has at least 50 tables. The highest limit is straight $2. They have $1-2 Omaha, Stud, and Hold'em and Straight $2 Hold'em where every betting round is $2 and the blinds are $1/2. I missed the Friday tournament and noticed they ran a $135 and a $250 sit n go. The juice on that was horrible! First place only paid $560 or 41%. The casino kept $245 in juice or 18%. For the $250 SNGs they keep 14% and pay out 43% to the winner. Very profitable for the casino, not so for the poker player.

In case you were wondering, here's the Hard Rock's multitable tournament schedule (subject to change):
Mondays 6:30pm: $250 + $50 entry fee NL freezeout
Tuesdays 6:30pm: $50 + 15 with rebuys
Wednesdays 6:30pm: "Ladies Only tournament" $30 + 10 with rebuys
Fridays 11am: $50 + 15 with rebuys
Saturdays 11am: $165 + 35 freezeout
I never had a chance to play in the tournaments, but next time I'm down there I will.

Anyway, I was shocked I had to wait a half hour before noon on a Friday to get a game. The Hard Rock has an electronic waiting list and they give you beepers that let you know when your seat is ready. I wandered over to the food court nearby. The pizza looked good and I settled on some Chinese food. The General Tso's did me right.

I was finally paged. I played for about three hours before I had to leave to pick up Jerry. My table was nothing special. Aside from one young guy who looked like Frodo from Lord of the Rings, it was all retired guys. One guy resembled Morty Sienfeld. Another one I swore was one of those older doctors from St. Elsewhere.

In the first orbit I had 47o in the LB. In my head I asked the dealer for a 568 flop. And sure enough that's what I got. I maxed out the betting on the flop and had two callers all the way to the river. Two pair and top pair lost to my flopped straight. That was one of the only decent hands I got. Frodo in Seat 3 kept doing chip tricks for the table. Too bad he couldn't keep his stack. He lost $150 in 90 minutes and left.

I lost a big pot with AJo. The flop: 27A. I know, I wish I had The Hammer. Some guy in seat 6 was the Rebuy Guy. By the sixth or seventh rebuy, I was rooting him to stay at the table. He kept pulling $20 out of his wallet and instead of rebuying in once for $100. He insisted that he was playing his last hand but would dig back in when he lost all his chips. Anyway, Rebuy Guy called me with bottom pair on the flop and all my raises with 24o. The turn was a 7 and the river a 2. Oh well. That wasn't as bad as AQ losing to J8o after flopping trips and losing to a one outer gutshot on the river. The guy next to me lost with pocket tens. Overall, I ended up down $50. I gave away a $2 tip for every pot I won, so the majority of my loss went to tips, my bar bill, and the rake.

The players were loose and not paying attention at all. Hey it's low limit madness. The majority of the players were locals, a mix of very young college aged guys and retirees. The Hard Rock offers drink service. Unlike Vegas, you have to pay for bottled water, beers, and liquor drinks. Coffee and soft drinks are free. I got great service because I tipped my girl well when I ordered my first Corona. She always came to me first when she hit the table up for drinks. The dealers were fair. One looked like Jessica Alba and she called me "New York" for her entire down.

I fought a little traffic and picked up Jerry downtown. We hung out for a bit until Sarah came home from work and then we hit up South Beach for some sushi. We found a mellow place, nestled in between a chic French bistro and a Cuban restaurant. Jerry ordered a bottle of Sake right away and a mellifluous conversation ensued. I ordered an Ashai and I happily wolfed down some salmon, tuna, whitefish, eel, and a spicy tuna roll which I couldn't finish. The eel is my favorite. Desert was green tea ice cream and Jerry and Sarah split an order of Thai donuts. If you ever had them, you know that they are delicious.

Coming soon... Part II.
5 Recent Google Referrals in the Last 24 Hours...
1. Chinese rest. in Atlanta busted for selling rats
2. Darryl Hannah mushrooms marijuana
3. Trey Anastasio backstage girl rumors
4. Sex with a horse
5. Hunter S. Thompson Kentucky Derby
Pieces of Pauly: A Photo Essay

What did I eat in Miami? Here are a few samples. Click on the pics to enlarge.

Monday, February 21, 2005

RIP Hunter

Hunter S. Thompson 1937-2005

I was trying to find something in Hunter Thompson's writings that made sense of his suicide. When I first heard about his death, my thoughts drifted to Ernest Hemingway, another one of my favorite writers and like Thompson, Hemingway's words took on the role of the father figure in my life during my tumultuous early twenties. Both men were more similar than I ever imagined. They were recognized as the unique American voices of their respective generations. They pushed themselves into the middle of vigorous and dangerous lifestyles. And when they reached their 60s, living in small towns mostly everyone ever heard of, they both viciously shot themselves in the head. Either they ran out of things to write about, or more tragically likely, they accepted the fact they could no longer live up to the reputation of being the great writer that society had dubbed them.

Two of the most haunting questions looming over the head of every artist are... What am I going to do when I can't do it anymore? And what am I going to do when everyone finds out I am not really that good at what I do because I'm really a hack who got lucky?

I wondered what their answers were as I found myself digging through an old milk crate of assorted books. That specific crate held some of my favorites. I picked up and thumbed through The Great Shark Hunt, an insane book 622 pages in length covering all random ramblings from Hunter Thompson from his early days at the Kentucky Derby (one of my favorites bits of writing no one has ever read, shame on you fuckers!) to covering the McGovern presidential campaign in 1972, to bits on Watergate and Jimmy Carter. That book is full of memories and one of the rare books that has been with me for my entire 20s. It always made the cut and I never sold it, no matter how broke I was.

Over a decade ago, an ex-girlfriend, let's call her Sabine the tortured Prozac-popping artist, gave The Great Shark Hunt to me. Actually, she bought it off a used book vendor on St. Mark's Place in the East Village for $4. One Thursday night, a week or so before we started dating, she tracked me down at my after-work bar. When I was 22, I used to knock back Carlsbergs at an old man's dive on Lexington Avenue called Carlow's East. A surly Irishman named Sean, always in his white shirt and clip-on tie, worked the bar with a pissy attitude. I can recall the moment exactly. I poked fun of Sean's brogue with Tony "Knuckles" Tafullio sitting on the stool next to me. Sabine walked over and plopped The Great Shark Hunt onto the sticky Mahogany bar.

"I z-ought you would like z-is," she said her sultry French accent.


"Shit McGrupp," Tony Knuckles said as he picked up the massive book and began inspecting it, "are ya really gonna read this?"

"Yep. I'll loan it to you when I'm done."

"The only way I'm picking up that fucker is to beat my girlfriend with it. That lazy bitch. I could bust her up good and I betcha it wouldn't leave a mark."

He handed me the book and I thanked Sabine again. I've read it many times since then. I even broke up weed on it in Seattle and cut up blow on it in Brooklyn. Hunter would have been proud.

After that brief flashback, I continued flipping through my ten year old copy of The Great Shark Hunt. I randomly stopped on an article Hunter wrote for the National Observer. A freaked out moment took over. The article was on Hemingway. Coincidence? It was dated 1964 and called "What Lured Hemingway to Ketchum?" In his later years Hemingway left Cuba and settled into a small town ten miles outside of Sun Valley, Idaho. That's where he blew his head off with a shotgun in 1961. Three years later, the 27 year old Hunter Thompson would venture off to Ketchum to figure out why that place at that time for Hemingway.

Here are some chilling excerpts, written by Hunter over forty years ago:
"Anyone who considers himself a writer or even a serious reader can not help but wonder just what it was about this outback little Idaho village that struck a responsive chord in America's most famous writer. He had been coming here on and off since 1938, until finally in 1960, he bought a home just outside of town...

The answers might be instructive - not only as a key to Hemingway, but to a question often pondered, even in print. 'We do not have great writers,' he explains to the Austrian in Green Hills of Africa. 'Something happens to our good writers at a certain age... You see we make our writers into something very strange... We destroy them in many ways.' But Hemingway himself never seemed to discover in what way he was being 'destroyed', and so he never understood how to avoid it.

Even so, he knew something had gone wrong with both himself and his writing, and after a few days in Ketchum you get a felling that he came there for exactly that reason...

Standing on a corner in Ketchum it is easy to see the connection Hemingway must have made between this place and those he had known to be his good years. Aside from the brute beauty of the mountains, he must have recognized an atavistic distinctness in the people that piqued his sense of dramatic possibilities...

From such a vantage point a man tends to feel it is not so difficult, after all, to see the world clear and as a whole. Like many another writer, Hemingway did his best work when he felt he was standing on something solid - like an Idaho mountainside, or a sense of conviction.

Perhaps he found what he came here for, but the odds are huge that he didn't. He was an old, sick, and very troubled man, and the illusion of peace and contentment was not enough for him - not even when his friends came up from Cuba wand played bullfight with him in the Tram. So finally, and for what he must have thought the best of reasons, he ended it with a shotgun." (National Observer, 25 May 1964)
A short time after, with Hunter's words inspiring me to walk out of my job on Wall Street and go home to write a novel, I adopted some of his words as my own personal mantra, "Don't take any guff from these fuckin' swine." A decade later, I would use that quote as an introduction to my third novel.

I've been compared to Hunter so many times that it's really an insult to him. He's a real writer and I'm a hack. I'm much more a fuck up than an adventurer. So who cares if we're both drug addicted writers with wacky sidekicks? Shit, everyone's an addict in one form or another and most of them have vanity sites with blogspot addresses which ironically qualifies them as a writer. And for every wild, reckless story I have to brag about, I have a half a dozen more incidents where I got lucky and escaped imprisonment, a hospital stay, and/or deportation. So I have a knack for stringing together words and can hold my mud a lot better than most idiots who try to run with the bulls in Las Vegas and piss in the tall weeds with the big dogs, but that doesn't make me any better of a true visionary that Hunter Thompson ended up becoming.

Hunter showed me that speaking from within and bouncing past the structured limits of conventional writing is the way to embrace yourself. Trying to write in the style that my educators scared me into thinking was the proper way held me back from achieving my true potential as a writer. Embracing Hunter's style of freedom of expression was a key to my early stages of developing my craft. I figured out the best way to write a story is to throw yourself into the middle of the story and experience it for yourself like Hunter did in so many instances. That is why I felt and still feel that a lot of my everyday decisions in life and the choices I make influence my future as a writer.

I realized that to become a better writer, I had to live life instead of watching it happen from the sidelines. "Write what you know," is the old saying to first time writers and if you don't know shit, then your writing is going to be shit. I knew I needed to take a few risks, so I did that. I pushed myself to the edges of insanity. And was not afraid to seek out the weirdness in the world. Hunter inspired me to do just that.

Of course my dream job is similar to Hunter's all-expenses-paid gig with Rolling Stone magazine... to travel the world and cover random events (like the Tour de France or the Oscars or the National Rodeo Finals) for a hipster magazine with an unlimited room service tab and a suitcase full of illegal narcotics, opiates, and herbal supplements, only to get so wasted that I'd turn in the article two weeks late, nowhere resembling the topic my editor had assigned. That would be pretty cool if I got to do that someday.

I wish I could say something more and have a better entry to pay homage to my favorite writer. But I'm exhausted from a wild trip to Miami and my mind is frazzled because I'm still undecided about the direction of my writing. Plus I'm very sad to hear about Hunter's suicide. I some way I am happy that he doesn't have to live with that pain that old writers get. And in some way I am sacred shitless because just in case I do end up living for a few more decades, I'm going to have to face that same moment that Hunter and Hemingway had to. Right now that's the last thing I want to think about. I need a few more days to allow all of this to sink in.

Poker and blogging were two things I was so passionate about a few weeks ago, but right now they are both unimportant to me. I'm going to take a few days away from the tables, take a break from blogging and from sharing my words with everyone else. I need to write for myself and only for myself right now.

Random Hunter Articles

The Duke of Hazzard (
Thompson's lawyer: It wasn't about Bush (
Hunter Thompson and George W. Bush (
Gonzo Gone (
The Minuteman of the Rockies (Slate)
A Sense of Self and Outrage (NY Times)
Rollin Stone's Obit

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

"It goes to show you don't ever know,
Watch each card you play and play it slow."
- Jerry Garcia
I'm taking some time off from blogging. I'll be in Miami for the next several days visiting friends from college, relaxing in the sun, and taking pictures. Updating the Tao(s) is my last priority. I will be playing poker at the Hard Rock, so expect a full trip report upon my return. Miami is an inspirational place for me and I have not been back in over 13 months. My last trip was epic. I'm positive that I'll have a few stories to tell and a slew of pictures to add to my fotolog.

Whenever I step out of the loop, I am forced to think about the direction of my life and where my art is taking me. I will be asking myself some of those serious questions including figuring out the future of this blog. Avoiding burnout is something I am desperately seeking. I also know that I have to take some time off to write this year. I'm not getting any younger and I've always wanted to write a novel in Europe. I am going to try to figure out how to make that happen possibly later this fall and decide if I can make a leap back into painting. In the end, I know I have to sharpen up by poker game if I want to scrape together a few bucks off of the fish-o-licious players on Party Poker so I can live the bohemian life overseas for a few months.

In the meantime, to get your Pauly fix, you can read the latest issue of my literary blogzine. It features a couple of poker bloggers and my favorite NYC escort, Alexa. I wrote two stories... one of which I worked on for several months and the other one I came up with in less than twenty minutes. Enjoy and thanks for the support.

Truckin' February 2005 (Vol. 4, Issue 2)

1. Mirth by Tenzin McGrupp
In a sun drenched stroll through the blooming gardens, pondering the nearing fatality of an old man's life, I was amazed at the tame discourses I managed to bundle together, otherwise known as the Disease... More

2. Super Bowl by BG
She was so drunk/high off of the booze and meds that I would bet she wouldn?t and couldn?t possibly remember how weird she asked me to get. I actually feel just a little bit dirty just thinking about it... More

3. Felicitous Feces By Alexa
The first hints that something was wrong occurred shortly after I lowered my pants to sit on the toilet... More

4. Hindsight, My Friend by C. Anderson Guthrie
Between the lulls in my niece?s self-imposed humiliation-by-cake and her unintelligible baby talk, my thoughts drifted from my brother's house in the Sticks, to a small Fiat Punto on west coast of Ireland... More

5. Happy Birthday Gladys by Tenzin McGrupp
Justin thought of six ways he could kill himself before he made it home. He could break the window in the bathroom and jump 17 stories to his death onto Sixth Avenue, but he wasn't sure he could break the glass... More

Thanks again for visiting my blogs. If you are interested in writing for Truckin', I suggest you read the Submission Guidelines. I hope everyone has a good weekend.

See ya,
Last 5 Books I Saw People Reading on the Subway...
1. Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty
2. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
3. Othello by William Shakespeare
4. The Holy Bible
5. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Death of a Salesman and Dr. Gonzo

There is no Arthur Miller content in this entry. Rather, I shall point you towards: Death of a Salesman: Was Rafik Hariri's assassination a Syrian hit? The article from Slate discusses whether one of the richest men in the world, friend of the Bush family, and the very Pro-western former Lebanese prime minister opposed to the Syrian presence in Lebanon was whacked by the Syrians in one of the bloodiest attacks to take place in Lebanon in decades.

An importunate international story like the assassination of Rafik Hariri barely makes a ripple in the vast American media pool of nimrods, retards, and freaks. Behold the Michael Jackson trial is getting 1/3 of the press coverage these days along with the closing of the Zoloft murder case, the NHL lockout, and Bill Gates new launch of IE7.

More Americans know what the name of Paris Hilton's dog (Tinkerbell) and have no clue the name of our current Secretary of State. "That's the way it goes in the land of the weird," as Hunter S. Thompson would drone on from his cozy office in his Colorado compound, pounding the keys on his typewriter and taking sips of Wild Turkey in between chain smoking and debunking the daily agitprop churned out by the Bush Junta. Speaking of Hunter, check out his latest article titled Fore!:
Shotgun Golf was invented in the ominous summer of 2004 AD, right here at the Owl Farm in Woody Creek, Colo. The first game was played between me and Sheriff Bob Braudis, on the ancient Bomb & Shooting Range of the Woody Creek Rod & Gun Club. It was witnessed by many members and other invited guests, and filmed for historical purposes by Dr. Thompson on Super-Beta videotape.

The game consists of one golfer, one shooter and a field judge. The purpose of the game is to shoot your opponent's high-flying golf ball out of the air with a finely-tuned 12-gauge shotgun, thus preventing him (your opponent) from lofting a 9-iron approach shot onto a distant "green" and making a "hole in one." Points are scored by blasting your opponent's shiny new Titleist out of the air and causing his shot to fail miserably. That earns you two points
Yeah, life can be absurd sometimes. I'm getting paid the equivalent of a full week of minimum wage work from a pimpled-faced, Ritalin-popping teenager slaving away at McLand in Akron combined with the weekly salary of a tattoo-riddled slacker slinging Grande Lattes at Starbucks in West Hollywood. I'm getting paid to infect the masses with my half-baked assertions of poker and gambling. Yeah, I should probably be shot. I would love to write about life, politics, and sports... in addition to getting paid for some of my short stories. Alas, I am not.

How else am I going to cover my gambling losses? March Madness approaches... can you smell the greed in the air?
Recent Writing Music...
1. Johnny Cash
2. Sidney Bechet
3. Jerry Garcia and David Grisman
4. The Beatles
5. John Scofield with Medeski, Martin, & Wood

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

5 Random Google Referrals in the Last 24 Hours...
1. New Orleans crack whores
2. American Idol score sheet
3. Fucking Ann Coulter with a dildo
4. Pauly's Italian restaurant Indiana
5. German teenaged girls with nipple rings

By the way Daddy, you gotta take me to Pauly's the next time I go to Indiana!
Fish Sticks

I updated my fotolog. Thanks to Molly for that cool postcard!
Required Reading

Let's start off with another Arthur Miller died so let's talk about how much of a genius he is article from the NY Times.

I bookmarked this article (aslo from the NY Times) since it mentions the word "blogs" in the title: Resignation at CNN Shows the Growing Influence of Blogs.

I don't link up enough Neal Pollack. So here you go: Grammy whammy! Neal did a little real-time writing on the Grammys. Take a peek.

Lastly, how about this article from Poker Magazine.... How to Get Thrown Out of a Poker Game written by yours truly. It was published yesterday. That's the third different website in the last two weeks to publish my ramblings on poker.

Monday, February 14, 2005

A Scribe's Weekend

Another article written by your favorite blogger was published yesterday, a book review on Internet Texas Hold'em by Matthew Hilger. I submitted that on Saturday. Nothing is cooler than waking up and being notified that you have a wire transfer waiting in your account. The webmaster at might be one of the best bosses I ever had. He's cool, gives me plenty of artistic freedom, and most importantly... he pays me right away.

For the first time in years, I have finally caught up on all of my email. I read everything (I had over 250 at one point to sort through earlier this month) and as of now, I only have four messages in all of my inboxes. Two of them are saved information on future flights for me on Jet Blue. I read every article and visited every website that every one thought could be blogworthy. Thanks to everyone who sends stuff, that's very kind of you all. I can't blog everything but I appreciate the gesture.

I completed all the edits for the February issue of Truckin'. I'll be posting the new issue in the next 60 hours. This one looks great. And I'm particularly pleased that I'm no longer waiting until the last day of the month to publish each issue.

I woke up early on Sunday and gutted out the third draft of Gumbo. It is finally complete. I am looking forward to blocking out a few hours and sitting down to read it from cover to cover. And then I'll never have to look at it again!

Freelance articles, email, my literary blogzine, and correcting the last draft of a novel... not a bad weekend. Ah, and I also penned a Valentine's Day poem, which I'm sure will get me bonus points. I also read the first 200 pages of Super System 2.

This week, I expect to crank out two more pieces before I take off to Miami on Thursday.

BG poked fun of me when I told him I made up an actual daily schedule. I have been doing my best to stick through it. Last week ended smoothly because I knew what I should be doing at all times instead of having that funny feeling that "I should be doing something important." Yeah it's the middle of February and I'm finally caught up on most of my online life.
Happy Birthday Haley!

The Tao of Pauly's second favorite actress turns 25 today. Hope it's a good one, H!
Last 5 Books I Saw People Reading on the Subway...
1. The Red Moon by Kuwana Haulsey
2. Deception Point by Dan Brown
3. Ballad Of The Sad Cafe by Carson McCullers
4. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
5. Honeymoon by James Patterson

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Scarlet Rules Google

For the sixth week in a row, Scarlet Johansen nude, has been the number one referral from Google. A simple mispelling has brought me new visitors and some of them are coming back. That's great. And for that, I'll throw everyone a bone.

Here are some yummy pictures of Scarlett Johansson (thanks to The Superficial).
Required Reading

Attention Must Be Paid was written by David Mamet where he talks about the recent death of Arthur Miller. Here's a bit:
Arthur Miller's wonder at his country and his time will redound to America's credit when the supposed accomplishments of the enthusiastic are long forgotten. His work and the example of a life lived with quiet dignity are each an inspiration.
For Canseco and McGwire, Little Brotherly Love discusses Jose Canseco's new controversial book about stereoids and how he names names... including slugger Mark McGwire. Here's a bit:
Are Canseco's charges inaccurate, unfair and incorrect? McGwire did not respond to requests to interview him, but Canseco has put him and other former teammates - Jason Giambi, Ivan Rodriguez, Juan Gonzalez and Rafael Palmeiro - in an uncomfortable position with his assertions, true or untrue, embellished or not, that they also used steroids.

Canseco's credibility is questionable: he once threatened to sue a reporter who connected him to steroids. But Canseco spent several seasons in the same clubhouse with these players and has vast knowledge of performance-enhancing drugs.
And what is a Sunday morning without reading Thomas Friedman's NY Times op-ed piece called No Mullah Left Behind. Here's a bit:
As a geo-green, I believe that combining environmentalism and geopolitics is the most moral and realistic strategy the U.S. could pursue today. Imagine if President Bush used his bully pulpit and political capital to focus the nation on sharply lowering energy consumption and embracing a gasoline tax.

What would that buy? It would buy reform in some of the worst regimes in the world, from Tehran to Moscow. It would reduce the chances that the U.S. and China are going to have a global struggle over oil - which is where we are heading. It would help us to strengthen the dollar and reduce the current account deficit by importing less crude. It would reduce climate change more than anything in Kyoto. It would significantly improve America's standing in the world by making us good global citizens. It would shrink the budget deficit. It would reduce our dependence on the Saudis so we could tell them the truth. (Addicts never tell the truth to their pushers.) And it would pull China away from its drift into supporting some of the worst governments in the world, like Sudan's, because it needs their oil. Most important, making energy independence our generation's moon shot could help inspire more young people to go into science and engineering, which we desperately need.
And in lighter news, this made me laugh: Teacher Gets 6 Months for Punching Student. Maybe more teachers should beat the shit out their students. We'd have a lot less idiots walking around out there.
This Morning's Writing Music...
1. Jimmy Cliff
2. Jessica Klein
3. Grey Boy Allstars
4. Rilo Kiley
5. Django Reinhardt

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Death of a Playwright
"Dislocation, maybe, is part of our uneasiness. It implants the feeling that nothing is really permanent." - Arthur Miller
Thanks to Jason Flowers who sent me the quote. If you do not know, Arthur Miller died the other day. I wandered over to Grubby's poker blog to see what he had to say about a fellow playwright. It started out good and then Grubby drifted into tales about his festering addiction to slots since he moved to Las Vegas.

There is some decent coverage out there. Make sure you read:
I read two of his plays in high school... Death of a Salesman and The Crucible. I acted in one scene from Death of a Salesmen and I know that Haley performed in a production of The Crucible. I found myself rereading Death of a Salesman on the subway en route to work on Wall Street. Yeah, the crumbling American Dream in a play format was the last thing I needed when I began to question my reasoning for working for The Man.

Arthur Miller had a grasp of the working class and was plugged into the inner mind of Americans more so than many of his contemporaries. While Neil Simon penned comedy dramas, Miller wrote hard-nosed dramas. I wish I could say more about the guy that hasn't been said already. He spoke his mind and people hated him for that. He wouldn't rat out his friends during the Red Scare. And he used to bang Marylin Monroe. He's the cat's balls.

I read some of his work. It moved me. Some of his themes of how his main characters were internally flawed has influenced some of my writing indirectly. The world has lost a real writer.
Last 5 Books I Saw People Reading on the Subway...
1. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
2. The Holy Bible
3. In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner
4. My Life by Isadora Duncan
5. Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter by Simone de Beauvoir
Dirt Weed and Pirates

High pirate content here. Check out Skippy's new film: Gasparilla. I miss the Daily Dave.

First Grader Punished for Bag of Dirt is a funny read about a girl and a not-so-intelligent teacher who thought a bag of dirt was.... (gasp) marijuana.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Fluffhead Friday

Let's pimp myself. I had an article published yesterday on a European website. It was a player profile on Phil Hellmuth.

How about a funny new blurb? Make me some turkey pot pie, Biatch!! Dare I utter... only in Michigan?

How about a disturbing blurb? Pilot threaten to crash plane into Wall Street. The federalies were not amused.

How about a cool blurb? The new Wynn Casino in Las Vegas will be using tracking devices in every chip. I'm definitely not taking one of those home as a souvenir.

I've always considered getting a snip job. As soon as I get me some insurance I'll look into this more seriously. I shiver to think there might be a little Tao or two running rampant out there.

This is definitely not safe for work... some girl gets caught rubbing one out. Can I give you a hand? Or a finger or four?

If I catch up on some writing today, then this weekend I might be able to crank out both Truckin' and work on Gumbo. That would be nice. I'd be happy to get one done.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Bonus Whore

Penny Hardaway grabs Shaq's package to slow him down.

I wrote two articles this week and both were accepted. 2 for 2. And I just got paid for one of them. God bless wire transfers from Holland! I'm in the middle of writing the third, which I hope to be done by tonight.

Last night, after both my favorite basketball teams lost (UNC and the Knicks), I played online at Empire Poker for five straight hours. I was working off a bonus. Basically I deposited like $500 and I got a $150 bonus. I had to play over 1000 hands... raked hands (which are hands that I actually play and bet with)... in order to qualify. I had to see over 3000 hands before I was awarded my bonus. It took almost a week and I'm done. I got a free $150. Whooo hooo! Free money. That's the equivalent to a one-way ticket from NYC to Las Vegas. Empire just paid for half my trip.

I also made a few dollars in the process of working off the bonus while I watched Jason Spaceman play in a tourney with a $350K prize pool. He made the money and took 46th. Good job, dude.

Before I crashed I wrote for an hour. Some of my best work happens between the hours of 3am and 5am. Go figure. This past month I switched my writing schedule so I could wake up and do my usual two hours (my own workout) and then I would spend the mid afternoon writing or doing research on freelance articles. I couldn't sleep and woke up early to write and read through a few new books that arrived this morning.

I Read the News Today, Oh Boy...

How about this little tid bit in the editorial section of the NY Times called The Whitney Expansion. It discusses the Whitney Museum's future plans to grow whcih might cause some ripples into the historic section of the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

Jen over at Gothamist had some sobering news on the upcoming Metrocard fare hike.

I discovered that Phish has released a two new shows from 1994 to it's Live Phish site. Here's what it said:
This release features two shows from the experimental 1994 fall tour and continues a rich legacy of download and physical releases from the archives. Hold on tight! Phish's back-to-back performances on November 30th, 1994 at Evergreen College in Olympia, WA and December 1st, 1994 at the Salem Armory in Salem, OR are perfect examples of the band's ability to weave their sets of diverse styles of music into cohesive extended journeys. These shows display that talent at its peak, with dynamic sets that showcase Phish's ability to link one song to the next while stretching limits to create a non-stop tapestry of exploration. An added bonus is filler from November 12th, 1994 at Kent State University featuring a transcendent Down With Disease and other gems.

Seriously, the two shows look great. Michelle, a friend of mine in Seattle, went to Evergreen and she gave me a bootleg tape of the 11.30.94 show! And I'm going to download the Salem Armory show (Peaches, Mound, Tweezer to open the second set) as soon as I can.

Speaking of Phish, thanks to Fish over at This Fish Needs a Bicycle for linking up the Tao of Pauly on her Bloggie nominated blog. We seem to share the same unhealthy addiction to Degrassi. I have this weakness for the way Canadian girls say the word "sorry" and "about".

By the way, here's another another segue... fuck Wal Mart, eh! You know that the reason the Wal Mart fail is one of the richest in the world? They do not pay their workers overtime and do not allow unions. When one store in Canada had workers that tried to unionize, the suits over at Wal Mart decided to shut it down entirely!

As I am writing this post, I am seriously mutlitasking.... playing poker online at Party Poker, with Dawson's Creek on in the background and sitting on the couch in all forms of dishabille. TBS is airing one of the initial episodes from the first season of The Creek. Anyway, here's what BG sent me in an IM about my all-time favorite TV crush... Katie Holmes:
although there's something almost embarrassing about those high waisted pants, she's awful cute
Yeah, BG had the day off and I just outed him for watching Dawson's Creek.

I admit... my name is Pauly. I am a compulsive gamblor, alcoholic, and sex fiend. The only TV shows I watch are... The OC, Dawson's Creek, and Degrassi.

Lastly, I must say that my best thoughts go out to my friend Iggy. They had to bury his best friend's wife yesterday and he's stuck in the middle of a dark patch of life. Hang tough, brother. Untimely deaths make you realize that life is so much more important than poker, blogs, and being flamed by purblind bucolics. I talked to him and suggested that he take a week or so off to just get his space together and live a little. Poker will always be there. Life won't.

Time to infect the masses with some more of my words and eat leftover penne bologonese... cold.
Dear Jerry

Bruce sent me a copy of this letter that Greatful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter wrote to Jerry Garcia two years after his death. There are some meaningful passages in there. Enjoy...
Dear JG,

it's been a year since you shuffled off the mortal coil and a lot has happened. It might surprise you to know you made every front page in the world. The press is still having fun, mostly over lawsuits challenging your somewhat ...umm... patchwork Last Will and Testament. Annabelle didn't get the EC horror comic collection, which I think would piss you off as much as anything. Nor could Dough Irwin accept the legacy of the guitars he built for you because the tax-assessment on them, icon-enriched as they are, is more than he can afford short of selling them off. The upside of the craziness is: your image is selling briskly enough that your estate should manage something to keep various wolves from various familial doors, even after the lawyers are paid. How it's to be divided will probably fall in the hands of the judge. An expert on celebrity wills said in the news that yours was a blueprint on how not to make a will.

The band decided to call it quits. I think it's a move that had to be made. You weren't exactly a sideman. But nothing's for certain. Some need at least the pretense of retirement after all these years. Can they sustain it? We'll see.

I'm writing this from England, by the way. Much clarity of perspective to be had from stepping out of the scene for a couple of months. What isn't so clear is my own role, but it's really no more problematic than it has been for the last decade. As long as I get words on paper and can lead myself to believe it's not bullshit, I'm roughly content. I'm not exactly Mr. Business.

I decided to get a personal archive together to stick on that stagnating computer site we had. Really started pouring the mustard on. I'm writing, for crying out loud, my diary on it! Besides running my ego full tilt (what's new?) I'm trying to give folks some skinny on what's going down. I don't mean I'm busting the usual suspects left and right, but am giving a somewhat less than cautious overview and soapboxing more than a little. They appointed me webmaster, and I hope they don't regret it.

There are those in the entourage who quietly believe we're washed up without you. Even should time and circumstance prove it to be so, we need to believe otherwise long enough to get some self sustaining operations going, or we'll never know for sure. It's matter of self respect. Maybe it's a long shot, but this whole fucking trip was a longshot from the start, so what else is new?

Your funeral service was one hell of a scene. Maureen and I took Barbara and Sara in and sat with them. MG waited over at our place. Manasha and Keelan were also absent. None by choice. Everybody from the band said some words and Steve, especially, did you proud, speaking with great love and candor. Annabelle got up and said you were a genius, a great guy, a wonderful friend, and a shitty father - which shocked part of the contingent and amused the rest. After awhile the minister said that that was enough talking, but I called out, from the back of the church, "Wait, I've got something!" and charged up the aisle and read this piece I wrote for you, my voice and hands shakinglike a leaf. Man, it was weird looking over and seeing you dead!

A slew of books have come out about you and more to follow. Perspective is lacking. It's way too soon. You'd be amazed at the number of people with whom you've had a nodding acquaintance who are suddenly experts on your psychology and motivations. Your music still speaks louder than all the BS: who you were, not the messes you got yourself into. Only a very great star is afforded that much inspection and that much forgiveness.

There was so much confusion on who should be allowed to attend the scattering of your ashes that they sat around for four months. It was way too weird for this cowboy who was neither invited nor desirous of going. I said good-bye with my poem at the funeral service. It was cathartic and I didn't need an anti-climax.

A surreal sidelight: Weir went to India and scattered a handful of your ashes in the Ganges as a token of your worldwide stature. He took a lot of flak from the fans for it, which must have hurt. A bunch of them decided to scapegoat him, presumably needing someplace to misdirect their anger over the loss of you. In retrospect, I think Weir was hardest hit of the old crowd by your death. I take these things in my stride, though I admit to a rough patch here and there. But Bob took it right on the chin. Shock was written all over his face for a long time, for any with eyes to see.

Some of the guys have got bands together and are doing a tour. The fans complain it's not the same without you, and of course it isn't, but a reasonable number show up and have a pretty good time. The insane crush of the latter day GD shows is gone and that's all for the best. From the show I saw, and reports on the rest, the crowd is discovering that the sense of community is still present, matured through mutual grief over losing you. This will evolve in more joyous directions over time, but no one's looking to fill your shoes. No one has the presumption.

Been remembering some of the key talks we had in the old days, trying to suss what kind of a tiger we were riding, where it was going, and how to direct it, if possible. Driving to the city once, you admitted you didn't have a clue what to do beyond composing and playing the best you could. I agreed - put the weight on the music, stay out of politics, and everything else should follow. I trusted your musical sense and you were good enough to trust my words. Trust was the whole enchilada, looking back.

Walking down Madrone Canyon in Larkspur in 1969, you said some pretty mindblowing stuff, how we were creating a universe and I was responsible for the verbal half of it. I said maybe, but it was your way with music and a guitar that was pulling it off. You said "That's for now. This is your time in the shadow, but it won't always be that way. I'm not going to live a long time, it's not in the cards. Then it'll be your turn." I may be alive and kicking, but no pencil pusher is going to inherit the stratosphere that so gladly opened to you. Recalling your statement, though, often helped keep me oriented as myown star murked below the horizon while you streaked across the sky of our generation like a *******ed comet!

Though my will to achieve great things is moderated by seeing what comes of them, I've assigned myself the task of trying to honor the original vision. I'm not answerable to anybody but my conscience, which, if less than spotless, doesn't keep me awake at night. Maybe it's best, personally speaking, that the power to make contracts and deal the remains of what was built through the decades rests in other hands. I wave the flag and rock the boat from time to time, since I believe much depends on it, but will accept the outcome with equanimity.

Just thought it should be said that I no longer hold your years of self inflicted decline against you. I did for awhile, felt ripped off, but have come to understand that you were troubled and compromised by your position in the public eye far beyond anyone's powers to deal with. Star shit. Who can you really trust? Is it you or your image they love? No one can understand those dilemmas in depth except those who have no choice but to live them. You whistled up the whirlwind and it blew you away. Your substance of choice made you more malleable to forces you would have brushed off with a characteristic sneer in earlier days. Well, you know it to be so. Let those who pick your bones note that it was not always so.

So here I am, writing a letter to a dead man, because it's hard to find a context to say things like this other than to imagine I have your ear, which of course I don't. Only to say that what you were ismore startlingly apparent in your absence than ever it was in the last decade. I remember sitting in the waiting room of the hospital through the days of your first coma. Not being related, I wasn't allowed into the intensive care unit to see you until you came to and requested to see me. And there you were - more open and vulnerable than I'd ever seen you. You grasped my hand and began telling me your visions, the crazy densely packed phantasmagoria way beyond any acid trip, the demons and mechanical monsters that taunted and derided, telling you endless bad jokes and making horrible puns of everything - and then you asked, point blank, "Have I gone insane?"

I said "No, you've been very sick. You've been in a coma for days, right at death's door. They're only hallucinati! ons, they'll go away. You survived."

"Thanks," you said. "I needed to hear that."

Your biographers aren't pleased that I don't talk to them, but how am I to say stuff like this to an interviewer with an agenda? I sometimes report things that occur to me about you in my journal, as the moment releases it, in my own way, in my own time, and they can take what they want of that.

Obviously, faith in the underlying vision which spawned the Grateful Dead might be hard to muster for those who weren't part of the all night rap sessions circa 1960-61 ... sessions that picked up the next morning at Kepler's bookstore then headed over to the Stanford cellar or St. Mike's to continue over coffee and guitars. There were no hippies in those days and the beats had bellied up. There was only us vs. 50's consciousness. There no jobs to be had if we wanted them. Just folk music and tremendous dreams. Yeah, we dreamed our way here. I trust it. So did you. Not so long ago we wrote a song about all that, and you sang it like a prayer. The Days Between. Last song we ever wrote.

Context is lost, even now. The sixties were a long time ago and getting longer. A cartoon version of our times satisfies public perception. Our continuity is misunderstood as some sort of strange persistence of an outmoded style. Beads, bell bottoms and peace signs. But no amount of pop cynicism can erase the suspicion, in the minds of the present generation, that something was going on once that was better than what's going on now. And I sense that they're digging for "what it is" and only need the proper catalyst to find it for themselves. Your guitar is like a compass needle pointing the strange way there. I'm wandering far afield from the intention of this letter, a year's report, but this year wasn't made up only of events following your death in some roughly chronological manner. It reached down to the roots of everything, shook the earth off, and inspected them. The only constant is the fact that you remain silent. Various dances are done around that fact.

Don't misconstrue me, I don't waste much time in grief. Insofar as you were able, you were an exponent of a dream in the continual act of being defined into a reality. You had a massive personality and talent to present it to the world. That dream is the crux of the matter, and somehow concerns beauty, consciousness and community. We were, and are, worthy insofar as we serve it. When that dream is dead, there'll be time enough for true and endless grief.

John Kahn died in May, same day Leary did. Linda called 911 and they came over and searched the house, found a tiny bit of coke and carted her off to jail in shock. If the devil himself isn't active in this world, there's sure something every bit as mean: institutional righteousness without an iota of fellow feeling. But, as I figure, that's the very reason the dream is so important - it's whatever is the diametric opposite of that. Human kindness.

Trust me that I don't walk around saying "this was what Jerry would have wanted" to drive my points home. What you wanted is a secret known but to yourself. You said 'yes' to what sounded like a good idea at the time, 'no' to what sounded like a bad one. I see more of what leadership is about, in the absence of it. It's an instinct for good ideas. An aversion to bad ones. Compromise on indifferent ones. Poweris another matter. Power is not leadership but coercion. People follow leaders because they want to.

I know you were often sick and tired of the conflicting demands made on you by contentious forces you invited into your life and couldn't as easily dismiss. You once said to me, in 1960, "just say yes to everybody and do what you damn well want." Maybe, but when every 'yes' becomes an IOU payable in full, who's coffer is big enough to pay up? "Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke!" would be a characteristic reply. Unfortunately, you're not around to explain what was a joke and what wasn't. It all boils down to signed pieces of paper with no punch lines appended.

I know what I'm saying in this letter can be taken a hundred ways. As always, I just say what occurs to me to say and can't say what doesn't. Could I write a book about you? No. Didn't know you well enough. Let those who knew you even less write them. You were canny enough to keep your own self to yourself and let your fingers do the talking. Speaking of 'personal matters' was never your shtick.

Our friendship was testy. I challenged you rather more than you liked, having a caustic tongue. In later years you preferred the company of those capable of keeping it light and non-judgmental. I think it must always be that way with prominent and powerfully gifted persons. I don't say that, for the most part, your inner circle weren't good and true. They'd have laid down their lives for you. I'd have had to think about it. I mean, a star is a star is a star. There's no reality check. If the truth were known, you were too well loved for your own good, but that smacks of psychologizing and I drop the subject forthwith.

All our songs are acquiring new meanings. I don't deny writing with an eye to the future at times, but our mutual folk, blues and country background gave us a mutual liking for songs that dealt with sorrow and the dark issues of life. Neither of us gave a shit for candycoated shit, psychedelic or otherwise. I never even thought of us as a "pop band." You had to say to me one day, after I'd handed over the Eagle Mall suite, "Look, Hunter - we're a fucking dance band, for Christ's sake! At least write something with a beat!" Okay. I handed over Truckin' next. How was I to know? I thought we were silver and gold; something new on this Earth. But the next time I tried to slip you the heavy stuff, you actually went for it. Seems like you'd had the vision of the music about the same time I had the vision of the words, independently. Terrapin. Shame about the record, but the concert piece, the first night it was played, took me about as close as I ever expect to get to feeling ! certain we were doing what we were put here to do. One of my few regrets is that you never wanted to finish it, though you approved of the final version I eked out many years later. You said, apologetically, "I love it, but I'll never get the time to do it justice." I realized that was true. Time was the one thing you never had in the last decade and a half. Supporting the Grateful Dead plus your own trip took all there was of that. The rest was crashing time. Besides, as you once said, "I'd rather toss cards in a hat than compose." But man, when you finally got down on it, you sure knew how.

The pressure of making regular records was a creative spur for a long time, but poor sales put the economic weight on live concerts where new material wasn't really required, so my role in the group waned. A difficult time for me, being at my absolute peak and all. I had to go on the road myself to make a living. It was go od for me. I developed a sense of self direction that didn't depend on the Dead at all. This served well for the songs w e were still to write together. You sure weren't interested in flooding the market. You knew one decent song was worth a dozen cob bled together pieces of shit, saved only by arrangement. I guess we have a few of those too, but the percentage is respectably low. Pop songs come and go, blossom and wither, but we scored a piece of Americana, my friend. Sooner or later, they'll notice what we did doesn't die the way we do. I've always believed that and so did you. Once in awhile we'd even call each other "Mister" and exchange congratulations. Other people are starting to record those songs now, and they stand on their own.

For some reason it seems worthwhile to maintain the Grateful Dead structures: Rex, the website, GDP, the deadhead office, the studio ... even with the band out of commission. I don't know if this is some sort of denial that the game is finished, or if the intuitive impulse is a sound one. I feel it's better to have it than not, just in case, because once it's gone there's no bringing it back. The forces will disperse and settle elsewhere. A business that can't support itself is, of course, no business at all, just a locus of dissension, so the reality factor will rule. Diminished as we are without you, there is still some of the quick, bright spirit around. I mean, you wouldn't have thrown in your lot with a bunch of belly floppers, would you?

Let me see - is there anything I've missed? Plenty, but this seems like a pretty fat report. You've been gone a year now and the boat is still afloat. Can we make it another year? What forms will it assume? It's all kind of exciting. They say a thousand years are only a twinkle in God's eye. Is that so?

Missing you in a longtime way.

Wow. I miss Jerry.