Friday, September 08, 2006


"Dude, Zankou Chicken rocks," Wheaton enthusiastically said at some point to me during the summer while we were in Las Vegas.

I made a mental note of the place and said I'd go the next time I was in Hollyweird. I recalled two useless facts about the rotisserie chicken joint on Sunset Blvd. that I had never been too. A couple of years ago the owner of Zankou Chicken whacked his mother and his wife then killed himself. And for some reason there's a random lyric in the Beck song Debra where he mentions Zankou Chicken.

Zankou was only limited to franchises in the Valley and Pasadena, but Ryan told Nicky about the one in West Hollywood. We headed the other night when we got back from Zuma Beach. A whole chicken costs under $9 and you get a side of pita bread and their special garlic paste. The skin is crispy and the meat is juicy. That was some badass ass chicken.

On Sunday morning we headed to Zuma and got back into town around the middle of the afternoon despite hitting congesting on PCH. We went to Nick's Coffee Shop for a late lunch and sat outside. A street person came over to our table and asked for something to eat. He said that he just came from church and we turned him down. He went to the table next to us and wouldn't leave until they agreed to buy him something. He ran inside and told the waiter his order as he pointed outside to the table. The older lady motioned to the waiter that he should add his order to her tab.

He sat in a chair nearby and anxiously waited for his food. The waiter brought out a bag with a to-go box before the people at the table got their lunch. The street guy took off without saying thank you to the old lady. That pissed her off. She was also ticked that the waiter gave the street guy food before her. The waiter purposely did that to get him off the property since he does that every day. The old lady didn't care and she stiffed the waiter.

* * * * *

My flight to NYC was delayed which meant I was on another late flight. That was surprising considering JetBlue is rarely late. I managed to finish some of the edits on JTSMD and watched a couple episodes of the WSOP thanks to their Direct TV. I even spotted my ugly mug in the background in one scene when Greg "Fossilman" Raymer busted out.

The worst part of the flight was my seat selection. I had a window although I prefer an aisle on long flights so I can get up and walk around frequently. I sat next to a middle-aged guy who got hammered the entire flight drinking vodka with cranberry juice. He read one of the Jason Bourne books in between knocking back the drinks.

The row in front of me was filled with a family of three.... a six year old, two parents and a one year old. The baby cried 86.5% of the flight and the other kid kept staring at me through the cracks in the seat. That freaked me out. In the row behind me were two other small kids that thought the bathrooms were a great place to hang out during most of the flight. They ran back and forth for five straight hours.

By the time the flight touched down at JFK, it was 11pm and all the food places were closed. My baggage took over forty minutes before it appeared on Carousel #4. The taxi line had about sixty people in it and as shuffled over to last in line a slick Middle Eastern looking guy said, "Hey, you need taxi?"

He pointed to a shiny BMW and I could see my reflection. I negotiated $50 including and I jumped in the back seat. Normally I avoid gypsy cabs, especially at the airport. However, that time I was tired, hungry, and after sitting on a plane for over six hours, I didn't feel like waiting in line for an hour to catch a cab.

The BMW was at least ten years old because it had one of those old school car phones in the arm rest. He actually used it a few times. He politely asked me if he could smoke (I didn't mind) and wanted to know what radio station I wanted to listen to. The driver put on the classic rock and I sat through a shitload of commercials along with two Pink Floyd, one CSNY, and a Doors song before getting home.

The other morning I walked around my old neighborhood. I stopped off at the bagel store on the corner to get a real Everything bagel with butter. Man, I missed NYC bagels. In Henderson, Grubby and I lived across the street from a store called Brooklyn Bagels. Although they were the best bagels in Las Vegas... they still were nowhere close to being as good as something I could get on the corner.

I also hit up one of the dinners for a quick cheeseburger as I sat at the counted and rea dthe NY Daily News, starting with the back of the newspaper at the Sports section. The two guys who run the joint are 50+ year old Greek guys. One looks like David Grisman and the other looks like Flipchip. They were excited to see me and mentioned that I had not been around in a very long time. It felt good to be missed. They gave me the nice guy price of $4 for the cheeseburger which is rare for NYC.

I'm slowly getting used to being back to a normal life. I've been trying to re-insert myself after the WSOP and it's always tough. I can jaywalk again and don't have to stand on the corner when the light is red. It's weird going to a bank and getting my cash in denominations of $20 bills instead of $100 bills like at the ATMs in the casinos on the Strip. When I go to wash my hands, the water in the sinks don't automatically turn on like in the casinos and hotel rooms. And I was surprised to see that the supermarkets here do not have slot machines in them.

I had to sort through a huge bag of mail. Picture a large brown grocery bag spilling over with mail. That's what I had, including a second bag that was just for magazines. Since I was gone for almost three months, I had multiple months of issues from random subscriptions at poker magazines (some that I write for) and film rags like the Hollyweird Insider. I also had catalogues from Macmall, Dell, Office Depot, LL Bean Home, Urban Outfitters, and Pottery Barn. I had no idea how I got on Pottery Barn's mailing list. I had not entered one of their chains since before 9.11 and have no intentions in the future.

I sifted through almost a hundred letters from Edward Jones, one of the companies I have an investment account with. I glanced at my statements and realized that the financial markets took a hit in the summer during the Israel-Lebanon rumble, but it's corrected itself since then. Oh and I'm still taking it in the ass on Brasil Telecom.

I threw out fourteen pounds of junk mail from different credit card companies who think I'd be a wise choice to give several thousand dollars in credit. I had plenty of bills for my cellphone or my credit card. I had a wedding invitation and someone sent me a post-card from Italy. I had a few bank statements and four paychecks for various freelance work from this summer. My tickets to two Widespread Panic shows at Radio City Music all also arrived. The checks and tickets were the diamonds in the pile of shit that I had to sort through.

I thumbed through a several alumni magazines from my high school, college, and fraternity. Random people whose faces that I vaguely recall are getting married and having kids at an alarming rate. If I ever sent an update self-serving bragging blurbs alumni mags, it would probably read, "Pauly is an overpaid hack of a writer that spends too much time playing Pai Gow poker at 3am in Las Vegas with people named Otis. Oh and twelve years after graduation, he's still a daily pot smoker and without health insurance."

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