"You look fat," Ang said to me a coupe of weekends ago. This is the same woman who fed me everyday and night while I lived in her and Senor's basement in Narragansett, Rhode Island in 2004 and wrote my novel Gumbo. I was much thinner then during the tail end of my starving artist phase. Every since I completed that book, I stumbled upon a freelance career that fed me well. Too well according to Ang who thought I looked fat.
During the last two WSOPs, I put on anywhere from 15-20 pounds during that two month stretch where I spend 16-20 hours a day in a casino, eating bad casino food, and indulging in fast food and buffets. I stopped drinking soda (minus gingerale) almost five or six years ago but the only two instances I can recall drinking cola products frequently was during the WSOP. The media room at the Rio had plenty of free soda. Last year I drank a ton of Dr. Pepper. This summer it was Sierra Mist.
Since my return to NYC, I had been hitting up all my favorite eateries and relishing the fact I can eat amazing bagels and the best pizza on the planet. Of course the recent binge affected my weight. Instead of losing pounds, I leveled off.
I first started cutting out donuts when I left Las Vegas. Yes, I've been donut free for almost 60 days. I also stopped the pasta consumption. That was hard to give up, especially with all the kick ass Italian food in NYC. I haven't had any since a few days before my birthday and I don't anticipate eating any until Derek's birthday dinner with the family. This past week I gave up bagels. That was hard for me to do. It was either give up pizza or bagels and I went with the bagels.
I had been consulting a few different diets and created my own special plan of attack. For a three week period I wrote down everything that I ate and made a list of foods I should cut down and eliminate. And for fuck's sake 95% of my diet was on that list... bread, white-grain rice, chocolate, pasta, starches, and fried foods.
Pizza was tough to give up because it's so damn delicious and inexpensive and a quick hunger killer. Alas, the bagels are no more. I'm an iced tea drinker but my habit has gotten out of control. I had been consuming four or five Snapples a day along with orange Gatorade. My body couldn't handle the jolt of high fructose corn syrup, so I stopped drinking anything aside from bottled/distilled water for a week to see how my body reacts. I've been craving iced tea for several days and it's killing me.
I've been on a health kick for the past week and also introduced exercise. My knee (damn old hockey injury) is not in the best shape so I decided upon brisk walking. Those of you who know me, know that I walk pretty fast. So you can imagine how fast my "brisk" walking speed is. I've been doing about 3 to 5 miles a day covering the hills of Riverdale and Fieldston.
I don't see the walking as exercise as much as it's been walking meditation. I put on my iPod and I think about the rest of my day. Sometimes I'm visualizing my tasks. Over the weekend, I spent a lot of time thinking about who I'm going to start for Uncle Jodd's Band in the Lamont Jordan FFL or who on my team I'm going to trade. I also thought about Jack Tripper Stole My Dog and what I wanted to write when I got back home. In a way, the physical act of walking an hour to ninety minutes a day is exercising both my mind and body.
And the coolest part is that route I take has very little pedestrian traffic and the trees are starting to turn colors.
My mornings began with a wake and bake session, then I'd walk for a while. I'd come back home to shower then sit down for my two hour free write. By 10 or 11am, I had a fleeting feeling of self-worth that I spent the first few hours of the day honing my craft and taking care of my mind and body. I don't think I can recall a time when I paid such close attention to all three aspects of my life. I don't expect all of this to continue because in less than two weeks I'm embarking on a three week bender.
That's why my last few days in NYC are going to be spent focusing on those three aspects and I've dropped at least 12 pounds since I started. Besides, with the Yankees out of the playoffs, I have three to four hours a day with nothing to do.
I missed out on some good bands and musicians last weekend in New York City. I didn't get tickets to British indie rockers Gomez at Bowery Ballroom or the Latin porn funk gurus of Los Amigos Invisibles because I knew that the Yankees games would conflict. But I have a ticket to Trey Anastasio tonight at Webster Hall which kicks off one helluva week of music in the big city.
On Wednesday, The Supersuckers are opening up for Social Distortion at Warsaw in Brooklyn. The Supersuckers are playing a ton of shows in NYC all week at Irving Plaza while they are on tour with Social Distortion. I first saw The Supersuckers perform when I lived in Seattle. One of my roommates had a crush on the guitar player and she dragged me to a few shows down in Pioneer Square. I dug their hybrid country-rock sound. Although the band relocated from Arizona, I consider them a Seattle band especially since they were on the infamous Sub Pop label. During the years I lived in Seattle, The Supersuckers were trying to discover their identity as they jumped back and forth between country music and rock and roll. Of course, you can get away with playing country in a music rich city like Seattle. Most of the stoners, drunks, and pillheads will dance to anything.
On Thursday and Friday, Jenny Lewis and The Watson Twins are playing at Town Hall. The lead singer and guitar player from the LA indie-hipster rockers Rilo Kiley released her first solo album with the Watson Twins (LA transplanted sisters originally from Kentucky) earlier in the year which features a sweet cover of The Traveling Wilbury's Handle with Care. On Friday the Violent Femmes play at Warsaw in Brooklyn. Man that would have been a great show twenty years ago!
On Saturday Tea Leaf Green will be playing at Irving Plaza. For a while TGL was my new favorite band but that distinction got snatched away from My Morning Jacket. TGL caught my eye a few years ago when a friend gave me one of their bootlegs. I recall that she emphatically screamed, "You have to listen to these guys!" I saw them first play in their hometown of San Francisco but it wasn't until their 2003 show at the Knitting Factory in NYC where their sound clicked inside of me and I shifted from a curious observer to a fan.
Several jamband pundits labeled Tea Leaf Green as "the next Phish" while Justin Kreutzman (son of The Grateful Dead's Bill Kreutzman) shot a documentary film about TGL which he chronicled over at his blog Rock and Reel. Their song Taught to Be Proud won Song of the Year at the 2006 Jammy Awards and their Wilco meets Phishy sound makes for great writing music. Out of all their albums, the one I listened to the most had to be their live album from The Great American Music Hall in San Francisco.
With the Yankees out of the playoffs, I can spend my free time seeing shows. Next up... Trey at Webster Hall.