Saturday, September 30, 2006

Last 5 Books I Saw People Reading on the Subway...
1. Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman
2. The Holy Bible
3. Something Blue by Emily Giffin
4. Therese Raquin by Emile Zola
5. 6 Rainier Drive by Debbie Macomber

Friday, September 29, 2006

Out of Focus

I don't believe in writer's block. It's a passive-aggressive tool that wanna-be writers use to illicit sympathy from non-artistic types. In college I used to feign writer's block when in all reality I was lazy or lacked motivation.

I woke up early on Tuesday morning to write and I noticed something. I kept pushing my start time back by fifteen minute blocks. Normally I gave myself a two hour cushion to wake up and do other things on heavy writing days. I check my email. Read Listen to music. Get something to eat. Read up on current events or financial news for a little bit. Maybe even do a free write. That's been my pattern since I returned to NYC. Wake up by 6 or 7 and be writing by 9am.

I blocked off Monday to recover from the long weekend of partying and drinking. I also used the time to write up the Boathouse Bash reports. Monday went smooth writing wise. I found myself in overall physical pain from the weekend festivities. When I woke up on Tuesday something wasn't right. I eventually opened up Microsoft Word (and in a random tangent, I happened to know the guy who wrote the first version of Microsoft Word... Richard Brodie who's now a poker player. He's recently divorced and I tried to get him laid this summer in Las Vegas. It was the least that I could do since I penned my five novels and two screenplays using his program) and began writing.

The last two weeks were devoted to rewrites and knocking off 10% of the original manuscript. I'd actually say the real number is like 15% and I added 5% new material. The next two weeks are devoted to writing new material to make up for the 10% that got cut. I'm adding the hot sauce to the manuscript, as Nicky would say in Hollywierd terms.

And although I wrote a couple of pages, something was wrong. Flat. My mind was flat. My voice was flat. The ideas in my head were not flowing onto the pages in harmonious tones like I wanted them to. So I stopped and took a break. I returned after eating only to discover the same problem persisted. That's when I made the command decision to stop writing for the day and call it a loss. I lacked motivation. Physically and mentally I was not prepared to write creatively.

There's an old house one block away that got torn down. Derek and I used to make fun of the old ethnic guy who lived in the house. I dunno if his name was actually Boris, but that's what we called him. We used to play stickball in the playground across the street. Usually if you hit a home run to deep center field, you were going up to his house to fetch the ball. His house was located up on a huge rock formation so you had to stealthily climb a flight of stairs and look for the ball. Sometimes he'd come out screaming in his Slavic language.

Anyway, his house was over 80 years old and it got demolished to build a condo. Since they didn't have heavy rock breaking machines (aside from dynamite) in the 1920s, they built the house on top of the rock. Now the greedy owner of the lot wants to use that extra space so he hired a series of big machines to pound the rock out. They start digging every morning at 8am and don't stop until 4pm aside from a short break at lunch. A constant pounding sound echoes and I have to close the windows and crank up the music to drown it out. That sound never bothered me until Tuesday. I lost focus on the pages and words and allowed external noises to disrupt my writing rhythm.

I read for a couple of hours. Philip K. Dick. Lester Bangs. Chuck Klosterman. All great writers and I hoped to draw inspiration from them. No such luck. That's when I figured out that physically, I'm not 100% after the four day bender. I caught a head cold and suffered two wicked hangovers in the last few days and slowly understood that was the attributing reason to why I lacked focus.

There's a hilarious scene (see the above picture) in Woody Allen's flick Deconstructing Harry where Robin Williams plays an actor shooting a scene in Central Park. He was out of focus. His image in the film appeared blurry and it got worse during the scene. The director sent him home because he was out of focus. And when he got home, his wife and kids all commented on how bad he looked. That's how I felt.

I procrastinated, just like in college when I had a big test to study for or a paper to write. I made a list of projects that will start in October and one of those was eliminating material items in my life. I sorted through two boxes of old books and picked out ones I wanted to keep and put aside 30 or so that I want to sell. That took about two hours. I also threw out a crapload of boxes that were stacked up to the ceiling. I had shipped six or seven things from Las Vegas and LA at the end of the summer. Plus I got a ton of extra boxes lying around from books that I ordered or from random birthday presents. I tossed all of those in the trash.

I then went through my clothes and made a pile that I would donate to the church. I also made a pile specifically for the trash. I would not subject homeless people and the poor to my fashion faux pas from the last two decades.

I still had plenty of idle time. I jerked off, read blogs, then watched two episodes of Entourage. Then I started playing poker, which was a terrible idea since I got my ass kicked and dropped $300 in a couple of hours. I lost my voice at some point over the weekend. I think it was all the shouting and yelling over the bands at the Boathouse or all the blunts I have been smoking that made my voice hoarse. I finally had free time to talk on the phone but unable to speak. Irony kicked me in the junk one more time.

I took a Xanax on Tuesday night and forced myself bed early. I slept better than normal which I needed. Instead of 3 or 4, I got seven hours of straight sleep, which is a blessing for the ailing insomniac. When I woke up on Wednesday, the machines were blaring and I slowly made my way to the laptop. But I fucked off on Wednesday too. I only used up about 15% of my time writing. The rest was devoted to reading books, re-reading the first four chapters of JTSMD, and smoking copious amounts of pot while listening to the Black Keys, The Yardbirds, and Radiohead.

On Thursday, I woke up motivated knowing that I blew off two whole days of writing in order to take a mental/physical health day where in all reality I did nothing aside from clean up some trash, read a bit, smoke pot, and masturbate.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

AlCantHang Day and My Videos

Happy birthday to AlCantHang!

I spliced together a few videos from the past week including hijinks from my birthday in NYC with drunk bartenders doing body shots and from the Boathouse.
1. Top Gun & Body Shots
2. Lewey's First Round
3. 2389 & AlCantHang vs. BadBlood
You can view the complete list of my You Tube videos... here.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Recent Writing Music...
1. The Yardbirds
2. Charlie Mingus
3. Medeski, Martin & Wood
4. Velvet Underground
5. The Duhks

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Moments of Clarity: Bash at the Boathouse Part II

If abused properly, over the counter non-drowsy cold medication mixed with alcohol and herbal supplements allows you to function with an opiated/speedy buzz. It's a total contradiction but the time released ephedrine in the medicine snaps your spine with an energetic jolt every twenty minutes. That described Friday.

Derek, the Rooster, and I arrived at the Boathouse on Friday afternoon. In less than four hours, my levels of intoxication reached a highwater mark where I could not even think about driving back to the hotel even it was only 1.2 miles away. BigMike and Al held court as they took over a corner of the upstairs bar. Poker Wolf and Trip Jax introduced themselves. They've both have been leaving comments on my blogs for a couple of years and we finally had the opportunity to meet each other.

I drank with Spaceman, BigMike, and StB before we moved the party to the downstairs bar of the Boathouse. The shots of SoCo kept coming and at 6:14pm Lewey arrived. In less than 90 seconds, Lewey downed a shot of tequila, an Irish Car Bomb, and a pint of Bass Ale. I'm still impressed by that remarkable drinking feat. It's up there with seeing my buddy Chicago Bob chug 1/3 of a bottle of Pepe Lopez when we were pledges in our fraternity.

Eventually the out of town bloggers began trickling in... Bad Blood, Veneno, Drizz, and Joe Speaker. Soused pontification with friends seemed to be on the agenda for the Friday afternoon Boathouse Symposium. I had a heated and drunken conversation with StB and the Rooster on the patio about 9.11. Prior to that, Joe Speaker and I delved deep into philosophy and religion, specifically the church's influence on his son and our entire youth's culture and why arguing and killing each other over our beliefs in the coolest imaginary friend (GodAllahBuddha) is futile.

I could not drive home and handed to car keys to Flagstaff who guided my rental car safely back to the hotel, where BG hosted a tournament in one of the conference rooms. We had four tables of 28 players with a $30 buy-in. BG also picked up a keg of lager. Originally the tournament was scheduled to be a freezeout, that was until Gavin Smith busted out and changed the format to rebuy. More bloggers and friends arrived like Gracie, Sweet Sweet Pablo, and Brandon Schaefer.
My starting table:
Seat 1: AlCantHang
Seat 2: Gavin Smith
Seat 3: BG
Seat 4: Steve
Seat 5: Lewey
Seat 6: Flagstaff
Seat 7: Your Hero
Lewey and Gavin were two maniacs while Steve (BigMike's cousin) has won tournaments in AC before. The always cagey the Rooster was the first player out while Derek followed soon after.

I took over the chiplead when I busted BG and Gavin in the same hand. With 7-7, I flopped a set on a board of 10-7-5 with two spades. Gavin pushed with 8-9o. BG shoved with As-10s and the nut flush draw while I had middle set and no redraws. The turn filled in Gavin's open-ended straight draw when a Jack hit. The river saved my ass when another Jack spiked to give me a boat. I tripled up as Gavin changed the tournament to a rebuy.

AlCantHang dropped the Hammer, while Gavin bluffed me out of a pot when I folded top pair. Joe Speaker moved to our table after his broke. For the clothing fashionitas out there, Speaker wore two outfits on Friday... his drinking at the Boathouse outfit (red soccer jersey and cargo shorts) and his LA chic tournament outfit (fancy silk shirt over a ratty long-sleeve shirt and hipster jeans). His hair sparkled in the late afternoon Boathouse sunlight and it continued to shine underneath the fluorescent hue of the hotel's conference room lights.

Speaker had been playing and listening to his iPod the entire tournament. When he was moved to our table, Gavin needled him hard before he could stack up his chips.

"Headphones? Headphones are for pussies," Gavin shouted. He had been drinking heavily to shake off the hangover from the night before. He flew in from Atlanta where he had been partying all night with Erick Lindgren and Josh Arieh. They went to the Georgia Tech game and gambled on the entire second half. Gavin proudly boasted that he had won well over $35,000 in prop bets against his buddies.

"Spaceman!" Gavin yelled out as he picked up his empty cup. "Will you mix my drink to the proper levels?"

I busted Speaker when my A-K held up against his A-8. By the break, I was second in chips to Steve who had been running over the table while he and Gavin raised every single pot. Bad Blood moved to my table and he lost a monster pot to Gavin when his K-7 lost to K-6 after Gavin flopped two pair.
The Final Table:
Seat 1: Pablo
Seat 2: Karol
Seat 3: TripJax
Seat 4: Veneno (then Gavin)
Seat 5: Carter
Seat 6: Steve
Seat 7: Dawn
Seat 8: Your Hero

Final Table pic (Courtesy of Carter)

The entire night, Gavin bought chips off of people after he busted out after the rebuy period ended. He bought out Veneno and took her chips at the final table. The action went fast. I won a big pot off of Gavin when I flopped an ace with A-10. That's where things got blurry and I began to lose time again. By the time I made it to the money, all of the liquor I had consumed hit me at once. I had no idea how I was one of the final four players despite being completely hammered. I sold my chips to Gavin and drank with Maudie when she got in.

Steve won the tournament while cash games sprung up on two different tables. F Train and I started pulling out cards out of the muck to play High Card for a Buck. I was on a roll. F Train fell behind and we jumped from table to table pulling out cards. He lost every time and bumped the stakes up to $5. I continued my streak. Then it got ugly. We started playing high card for $20 a pop. Joe Speaker and Steve joined the mix. Steve had the Queen of diamonds when I picked up a card and flipped it over. The Ace of diamonds.

"Ship it!" I screamed.

That was my last memory of Friday night.

* * * * *

I woke up the next morning in my clothes as the rain pelted the open window in my hotel room. I managed to talk myself down from puking as my head throbbed. From 6am to Noon I rocked back and forth in the fetal position wanting to die as my hangover reached category five status.

I finally gathered enough strength to wake and bake and drive Derek and the Rooster to Friendly's for food. Our waitress, a high school kid named Amanda, was slower than a Parisian waitress serving a table full of fat stupid American tourists. The Rooster sweet talked her, trying to persuade her that a life of high class cock smuggling in the big city was better than slinging hash for crappy tips in the middle of nowhere.

I ordered a chocolate shake and had a few sips before I felt like puking. I ate three or bites of my burger and pushed it aside. Only a few hours before the biggest drinking day of the year I could barely move let alone take a whiff of SoCo without projectile vomiting kitten sized chunks of bile. In the last few years, the Bash at the Boathouse surpassed St. Patrick's Day and Elvis' Birthday as the highest amount of alcohol consumed by me in any given 24 hour period during a calendar year. I acted like a Boathouse rookie and foolishly got Albert Finney drunk less than twelve hours before the Super Bowl of Binge Drinking.

The charity tournament took place on the patio and Bad Blood live blogged most of it. I met Loren who won the satellite on Full Tilt and wished him luck.

By the way, congrats to CJ who took it down! The Luckbox prevailed once again. After the tournament, Gavin Smith played people heads up for $100 a pop with all proceeds going to charity. A happy Veneno jubilantly told me she won one of those.

I met a couple of bloggers for the first time like Slb who introduced himself to me at the bar. I spread out my time during the afternoon between keeping an eye on the college football games and watching the charity tournament. I ended up going 9-1 in the college games and had a couple of big bets on Notre Dame against Michigan State.

I did my best to stay away from liquor until AlCantHang bought me a shot around 5pm. Only a few hours earlier, I couldn't even stand up and there I was back on the horse downing shots with Al. I sat at the bar with StB and suggested songs to Al's buddy Phil as he prepared the setlist for his band Vibe Tribe.

I also played High Card for a Buck with F Train, Gracie, Jordan, and Drizz. The Rooster dealt and I couldn't beat Gracie, who ended my winning streak.

The downstairs opened up and the party migrated. The Beer Pong contest began as the first of the bands took the stage. The Boathouse Bash always features local musical acts. Three years ago, I hung out a lot inside listening to the bands. I didn't know as many people in attendance back then... just a handful.

Last year, more blogger showed up and we spent more time outside on the deck drinking and talking. And this year, I hardly spent any time inside listening to Petey and the Bandcampers, Vibe Tribe, and the AlCantHang Experience. I hung outside at the bar and listened to them pump the music out there. I managed to catch Carter, Gavin, and Brandon singing lyrics on a cover of a Killers song.

I was too hungover to be chugging beers and passed on the Beer Pong tournament. There was an open spot at the last second and Carter asked me to be his teammate. I reluctantly accepted. Our first round match was against StB and brdweb. I nailed my first throw and it was all downhill from there. We were down 5-2 and mounted a good comeback but ended up losing.

Brandon Schaefer was a ringer. He had been playing all summer at the house he rented in Las Vegas with Carl Olson, Jen Leo, and John Caldwell. They played beer pong in the kitchen every night. Schaefer and Bad Blood went deep and should have won but lost on a controversial play. They took second place and I was impressed with the Beer Pong prowess of my blogger brethren.

One of the first notes I jotted down was a quote from the Rooster... "When I rubbed her, I thought I made her cum."

I have no idea what he was talking about but it must have been funny at the time because I don't write stuff down too frequently. Even F Train took a photo and added it to his Flickr gallery so it must have some significance. Only the Rooster knows. I won a prop bet against F Train. Dawn and Karol were AWOL. We set the line for their arrival time at 7:15 and he took the under. They arrived much later after ditching F Train and spending the day gambling in AC. They're hardcore.

When darkness fell, the natives grew rowdy. The liquor flowed and stupid shit ensued. I heard rumors of several female bloggers showing their breasts for beads. I missed Maudie flash but she has a funny pic of me. StB and I got into a heated discussion about Hurricane Katrina while Bobby Bracelet brought his A game again but this year he had his eyes set on a 19 year old college chick. Bobby Bracelet looked good at the plate, but the kid displayed his warning track power when he flied out to deep center field.

The Rooster was recruiting more women for his harem when Carter failed to be a good and honorable wingman and dissed the Rooster in front of the ladies. The two had words and stepped out into the parking lot. I knew that Carter was totally bluffing and trying to act tough in front of the ladies. The Rooster twirled a t-shirt around his knuckles and hand as he prepped for a fight so I followed them out. Carter talked his way out of it and I kept an eye on them because the Rooster would drop him out in one punch. The two eventually hugged it out and stumbled back inside.

I drank a shot of SoCo with Al and the guy from HellsSatans Poker who's name I forgot. I met one of Joe Speaker's childhood friends, Donnie, who shared some dirt on Speaker's teenage years. Some of his tales were classics and I hope Speaker writes those up in a book or Truckin' story one day. I hung out with Maudie who showed me her tattoo while Drizz and I kicked back and drank beers with Poker Wolf. At some point in the night I did a dial-a-shot with G-Rob and Iggy.

Bloggers were groping other bloggers. At some point Kat yelled, "If you are going to grope me, do it properly!" as she pulled my hands to her breasts and ass and I coped a feel. I saw F Train getting molested and Gavin Smith with his hands down the back on some woman's pants.

I think Joe Speaker explained F Train as "120 pounds of fury." Or maybe that was F Train describing himself? Derek lost a prop bet against BG as they gambled on his weight. F Train won the Lewey Award last year for Excellence in Public Intoxication. Although he paced himself better in 2006, he still put forth a performance worthy of consideration.

At some point in the night, Derek walked into the bathroom and saw two bloggers blowing chow. The stall was occupied by an unlucky guy taking a dump. With no place to hurl, Drizz puked in the garbage while F Train puked in an urinal.

When Drizz stumbled out of the bathroom, T had already set him up with a glass of water with a note on it saying, "Drizz's Water."

Drizz dusted himself off and kept on drinking. That's why he won this year's Puke and Rally Award. AlCantHang gave TripJax the Lewey Ward, but I think it's too close to tell. Last year, F Train took the Lewey Award down uncontested. But this year's field was rich in drunken debauchery. There were several people worthy of consideration. That's why I compiled an All Lewey Team for this year's Bash.
All Lewey Team: Bash at the Boathouse
F Train
Gavin Smith
Trip Jax
If you don't know, Lewey's drunken performance at the Bash in 2004 became so legendary that we named an award after him. He lost several hundred dollars in a cash game before he shouted out in detailed description his ex-girlfriend's vagina while her mother stood only a few feet away. I never knew that the human body could bounce off pavement like that until I witnessed the infamous Running of the Lewey where he took off down a steep hill and fell before skidding twenty feet on pavement.

We closed out the Boathouse and I was in much better shape to drive home. The good thing about the hangover was that it insured that I wouldn't drink as much as Wednesday or Friday nights. Which meant no inklings of a wicked hangover (like in previous years) when I woke up to drive back to NYC on Sunday morning.

Here are some random pictures:

Late night, we hung out in my suite with Gavin Smith who told us some funny stories about life on the road and being recognized as a pro including turning down sex with a Playboy playmate. He stumbled out of the room muttering, "I'm going to get a Salisbury steak. Do you want one?"

There's nothing quite like the Bash at the Boathouse. There's Carnival and Mardi Gras and Running of the Bulls. And then there's Bash at the Boathouse, which is a combination of all three legendary yearly events. Even if it were held in the middle of Alaska, I'd hire a dogsled to take me to the party to pay homage to AlCantHang and try to help raise money for BigMike's nephew.

I once said that there are very few people who live up to their reputations. AlCantHang is one of those people. As Gavin Smith put it best, "Why do they call you AlCantHang? Because I thought I drank a lot but you drink a shitload more than me. You're a fuckin' rock star."

One of the greatest things about having a blog is meeting amazing people. AlCantHang sits at the top of that list. I've been fortunate to have been invited with Derek to spend the last three years at the Boathouse celebrating life with AlCantHang and his friends BigMike, Lewey, Tony, Landow, Jimmy Dubs, and of course Eva. I don't judge a man's wealth by his material possessions or by the balance of his bank account. True wealth is determined by the number of amazing and resourceful friendships that a person has. AlCantHang is one of the wealthiest people I know. He's a friend to many and I'm a better person having him in my life.

Thanks again to AlCantHang and BigMike for an amazing weekend. You guys are the real rockstars in a world of lip syncers.

Editor's Note: This has been cross-posted over at the Tao of Poker.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Treading Water: Bash at the Boathouse Part I

After the WSOP ended, I did everything possible to forget about the poker world and the carnival-like atmosphere of tournament poker escaping to the nearby mountains in Boulder and the picturesque beaches of Malibu. I avoided the monstrous poker machine for a few weeks as the post-WSOP poker world was peppered by several black eyes and blemishes. Lawsuits. Arrests. Mayhem.

Whenever hefty sums of money are involved, the vultures and angle shooters swoop in like maddened machete wielding children rushing out of the jungles of Sierra Leone in the middle of the night chopping off the hands of other children in neighboring villages. Just like the civil wars destroying the lives and homes of millions in West Africa, the poker world is in the middle of an ugly bar brawl. The WSOP champion is getting sued. The WPT is getting sued by their former hostess and some of the world's best poker players. Then there's the main event chip controversy which is still unanswered.

And how about the gaming industry arrests? Normally, I applaud cops for arresting suits. Not in this instance. They're trying to scare you into thinking that you're next, when the guys sitting at home betting $100 on the Monday night football game or donking off a couple hundred of their hard earned income online are committing harmless/victimless crimes. Right now there are hordes of angry people all over the planet chanting "Death to America!" and burning our flags. They want to kill you, your mother, and your kids. Those are the folks that our federalies should be rounding up and intimidating, and not guys and girls like you and me.

Of course, I missed all that nonsense. I was on vacation. Or "holiday" as my European friends would say. Poker has been an afterthought during the last few weeks and will continue to be so in upcoming months as I devote all my time and energy into traveling and other writing projects. With that said, ever since AlCantHang announced the dates for the 2006 Bash at Boathouse sometime in October of 2005, I was one of the first people to commit since Derek and I were in attendance at the last two.

The Bash has morphed into a Burning Man for Alcoholics, where people travel from all over the farthest corners of the world to gather together in the middle of nowhere to act weird and celebrate one of the greatest cultural icons of the 21st century... AlCantHang.

The Boathouse would be the last stop on a four day bender that started in New York City and spilled over into Atlantic City and eventually landed me at the Boathouse knocking back shots of Southern Comfort with AlCantHang at 5 o'clock in the afternoon. Drinking and gambling can be a soul-munching solitary experience. But when you do it with friends in the right places, you hit highs that you'll be chasing the rest of your life.

* * * * *

After a quick birthday dinner with Derek, Falstaff, and The Rooster, we embarked on a bar hopping binge. We followed the Rooster as he took us down random Midtown side streets to all of his favorite places where we'd check up on "his bitches." He knew the adorable bartender at one hole in the wall where shots were the specialty drink. After knocking back a Snakes on a Plane (pictured above), we ordered a Top Gun for Falstaff, who the dyslexic Rooster started calling Flagstaff. The Top Gun shot featured props and background music as the bartender blasted Danger Zone by Kenny Loggins. She handed Flagstaff a pilot's hat.

"Who's Goose?" she asked as she dangled a pair of aviator sunglasses.

I raised my hand and she slid the sunglasses on my face. The music blasted and Falstaff downed the shot. Next up was the Jose Canseco shot... aptly served in a fake hypodermic needle that you stuck in your mouth and squeezed out all the liquor. We called Balco Bad Blood for a dial-a-shot.

Sometime later, we found ourselves in a crowded college bar knocking back $1 mugs of beers as the Rooster and Derek rated the local talent of twentysomething coeds. After a few drinks we ended up at an Upper West Side dive bar called Yogis. I watched Derek Jeter hit his November 1st homerun in a crowded Yogis during the 2001 World Series.

Yogis features cheap drinks and the jukebox is all country and western songs. It was somewhat empty for a Wednesday night and the Rooster started things off right with a round of Pabst Blue Ribbon... for $8. That began the PBR binge for Flagstaff (who incidentally the last time I saw him around 1:55am on Sunday was clutching a PBR tall boy at the Boathouse).

Spaceman and Jen B. were in town to cover a Hip Hop Hold'em tournament and they stopped by with F Train to join in the fracas. Jen B. is a sweet Kentucky girl (currently living in Texas) and she knew all the words to the songs. Flagstaff is an admitted redneck and Spaceman lives in rural Tennessee so he also qualifies. And of course, the Rooster is a man of many talents including being able to recite the lyrics to several thousand country songs. We were in the right place to get loaded.

The Rooster says he's a suit, but in all reality, he's a pimp. That was confirmed when he whispered in my ear and pointed at the cute bartender, "For $200 she'll let you do whatever you want. She's an actress who said she'd do 'whatever it takes' to make money."

Derek described the two bartenders as Coyote Ugly wanna-bes. The blonde was spunky and girl next door sexy. The brunette was sultry and surly. They drank like bikers and jumped up on the bar to dance at random moments. They made out with female customers and aggressively pushed drinks and questioned your manhood if you nursed a beer.

They also charged $25 for a body shot. One bartender would lie down on the bar and pull up her shirt. The other would hold a lime in her mouth and pour tequila on the stomach of the other bartender. The lucky drunk who purchased the shot would lick up the liquor on the stomach of the hot bartender wile everyone standing in a ten foot radius whipped out their cell phone cameras to capture the timeless moment.

"What's your favorite drink?" the brunette asked me.

That's always changing. I've had a long term friendship with my boys Jim and Jack. I went south of the border for a stint before a nasty accident where I puked for three days straight and urinated on the walkman of a friend's girlfriend. For a while, I was a vodka guy. Most recently, I've been drinking vodka and Redbull or whiskey and gingerale.

"Makers and gingerale," I shouted over the Johnny Cash song that blasted on the jukebox.

"Shot! What's your favorite shot?" she asked.

"SoCo," I shouted.

She whirled around and picked up a bottle of Southern Comfort and jumped up on the bar.

"Let's go birthday boy!" she screamed as all my friends pulled out their cameras.

Kids don't try this at home

I stood with my back to the bar as she pulled my head into her crotch. She poured a shot. Then a second. And third. The fourth one was sloppy and she poured faster than I could chug. The excess SoCo spilled all over my mouth and shirt. Drenched in SoCo, the next few hours became a blur as I lost time. We figured out I had about 16-18 assorted shots and drinks between dinner at 7pm and 2am.

I had only the fuzzy memory of my friends and the bizarre photos that I took on my camera to help piece together the rest of that night. Here are some of the pics:

Body shots

Hot girl on girl action!

* * * * *

I had a category three hangover as I stood in line to get my rental car. I hoped that the guy behind the counter couldn't smell my breath or the odor of the liquor that seeped through my sweat glands. The drive to Atlantic City with Derek and the Rooster was a chore as I fought off the headaches and swirling gastric juices in my stomach.

We checked into the Borgata and got a room on the 43rd floor. We headed down to the poker room to meet up with BG, Flagstaff, and StB who were all seated at the same 3/6 table. Carter was somewhere in the new poker room playing NL. A new blogger came over to introduce himself and we met brdweb for the first time.

I had not been back to the Borgata since I lived there for two weeks in January covering the Borgata Winter Open. I befriended several staff members including dealers and floor people. I got to catch up with a few and it felt nice to know that I was missed during the most recent Borgata tournaments. One of the suits found out that I was in the poker room and left his office to come down to the casino floor to say hello and wish me a happy birthday. He hoped that I could return in January 2007 to cover the Borgata Winter tournament and asked me where I wanted to go to dinner as he whipped out his cellphone and arranged a reservation at the new Bobby Flay restaurant.

Eventually, Derek, the Rooster, and myself were seated with StB, BG, and Flagstaff donking around at the low limit table. I won a big hand off of BG in a capped pot preflop when my Aces held up. The flop was K-K-x and if he held A-K, I was fucked. When a Jack fell on the turn, I was convinced I was beat and check called all the way to the river. He showed Q-Q.

I was involved with a hand against StB that bugged him the entire weekend. I raised with AKs preflop. I missed the flop, turn, and river. But I led out everytime. There was a boat on the board by the river and I didn't notice because I had been watching StB the entire time. He reluctantly called the flop and almost mucked on the turn before sighing and tossing in his bet.

"For some reason I think you have A-K," he said.

With the boat on the board by the river, he assumed I had a big pair and mucked. I showed him my hand and he shook his head.

"I knew it," he muttered.

He knew he should have called that bet, especially in a low limit game. That hand would haunt him all weekend.

The highlight of the day involved a hand with a wanna be gangster in Seat 10 and StB. The guy in seat one who looked like an extra from The Sopranos limped UTG. The Rooster raised and StB reraised. The guy called two bets cold. I think StB had A-K because the flop was K-8-8 and the guy won the pot with 8-4o. When he showed his hand, StB said, "You're playing that crap? To two raises?"

The guy snapped, "Shut up tourist. Stop acting like a sore loser."

"Hey, fuck you man," the Rooster barked across the table sticking up for his friend and fellow blogger.

The guy looked at the Rooster and started shaking. The intimidating Rooster clocked the guy and slightly motioned his head to the door indicating that if the guy had a problem, the Rooster would be happy to smooth things out in the parking lot.

"Settle down pal," Derek added as he crossed his arms and glared at the guy in seat 10.

"Floor!" the dealer yelled as he sensed a fight.

The guy backed down as his testicles shrunk to the size of snow peas. He realized that he was sitting at a table with six friends. Flagstaff and Derek are big dudes. And no one wants to mess with the Rooster, who stopped boxing after he nearly killed an opponent in the ring.

The game broke after BG went to the new race book to play the ponies. My buddy JW was in town on a business trip and happened to be staying at the Borgata. We went to dinner at Bobby Flay's Steakhouse with Derek and caught up on things. We hadn't seen each other since I left Las Vegas at the end of August. JW ordered the Cajun filet mignon which came with chili peppers and crawfish. He also ordered us a round of oyster and crab meat shooters with hot sauce and Stoli. Talk about spicy.

By then, the mental fatigue from writing 15 hours a day for ten straight days caught up with me and the hangover from my birthday the night before lingered all afternoon. I decided to reserve energy for the AlCantHang leg of the trip. With time still left on the clock to run a few plays, I took a knee and ran off the field for halftime. I went to bed early as the Rooster played until 6am. He stumbled into the room and passed out on the floor near the door. He screamed at housekeeping at 8am for trying to come in even though there was a DO NOT DISTURB sign on the door.

to be continued....
Coming Soon...

Stay tuned for a recap of the four day bender that spilled over into three states which included my birthday, a trip to the Borgata, and the Bash at the Boathouse.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Truckin' - September 2006, Vol. 6, Issue 9

We're on time for once. Yeah, the September issue of Truckin' has been published and features the debut of Mean Gene, who wrote one of the most powerful pieces on 9.11 that I've read in five years. Our good buddy Otis shared a story about his grandfather. This epic issue includes the debut of a new writer, Doog, with the first installment of his three part series called Roots. And we have contributions from regulars... Sean A. Donahue, Sigge, and yours truly.

September 2006, Vol. 6, Issue 9

1. Can't Find My Way Home By Paul McGuire
The sharp teeth of depression sinks into my skin and draws blood late at nights when I'm sitting alone in a hotel room and there's nothing on TV and I've smoked all my drugs and I have no one to talk... More

2. Grandpa Was a Gambler by Brad Willis
Grandpa's jaw was stronger than I ever could've imagined it could be. As he stood beside a beautiful and buxom woman that would someday be my grandma, Grandpa looked like movie star from 1940... More

3. Five Years After 9/11 by Gene Bromberg
We spent all that blood and treasure going after Iraq, while the people who attacked us on 9/11 still walk the earth... More

4. Dining with a Celebrity by Sean A. Donahue
I always like finding old friends. The only key is will the friendship that we had still strong enough to last through my divorce and her marriage?... More

5. To Lena; I Hate It by Sigge S. Amdal
A promise is superfluous when what's promised is something I intend to do... More

6. Roots - Part I by Doog
When my father and his brothers were going through Leo G's belongings, they came across a satchel containing $25,000 in cash. In the bag was a handwritten note... More

If you like these stories, then email your friends and pester your co-workers. It takes a few seconds to pass along the URL and everyone at Truckin' seriously appreciates your support.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

About Last Night...

Thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes. My four day bender started off last night in New York City. After dinner at Palm, I knocked back drinks with some random bloggers including my brother, The Rooster, Falstaf, Spaceman, F Train, and Jen B. More pics and sordid tales to come.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


I turned 34 today. I have a gut, a bald spot, and an off-shore bank account. I outlived Jesus Christ, Jim Morrison, and Chris Farley. Considering that I was raised Catholic, developed a Doors and Jim Morrison infatuation in college, and considered Tommy Boy one of my Top 10 All Time films... I hung around the party much later than those three influential men.

I've been living on borrowed time. I once told that to Senor when we drove cross country nine summers ago. In my mid 20s, I never expected to make it age 30, let alone see the day when I'd actually be eligible to run for President of the United States. That qualification also groups me into a new demographic... middle-agedom.

34 is not a bad number. I'm still three decades away from retirement age and I can still get away sleeping with 18 year old girls.

Over the last three decades birthdays have come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some I don't even recall like when I turned 22. Some I vividly recall such as my 23rd birthday when a cunt-whorebag French chick who I dated broke up with me. While we stood on the corner of Astor Place in the East Village she made a point to tell me she waited until my birthday to break up with me so I'd always remember the pain for the rest of my life. I've never struck a woman (not counting sexual intercourse) in anger in my life, but she pissed me off so much that I wanted to tackled her down a flight of stairs and beat her face in with my shoe.

One of my parent's first huge fights occurred on the morning of my 7th birthday in 1979. They followed each other through the apartment screaming at the top of their lungs. I had my birthday party at McDonald's and my parents weren't even speaking to each other when it started. Even though the cute girl with knee socks who I'd have a soul numbing crush on for the next six years showed up, a somber mood lingered the entire evening.

From the day I turned 7, I always had an indifferent attitude about birthdays. Like on my 28th birthday when the Knicks traded away Patrick Ewing.

Most of the time, my family gave me clothes for my birthday. As a kid, that's always a total bummer. As an adult I can appreciate the sacrifices my parents made, especially my father who had to hump a crappy desk job while 99% of his paycheck went to pay bills and the government. But when you are ten years old and expecting a new Atari game, getting a new pair of Tom McAn shoes totally sucks donkey balls.

Luck found my way in 1985, when I got a Commodore 64, which made for all the crappy presents that I got for the entire decade. I ended up wasting thousands of hours playing video games on that C64. I also wrote all of my high school term papers and penned articles for the sports section in my school newspaper.

And I spent most of my 21st birthday in Atlanta puking in the parking lot of Dooley's Tavern after drinking 21 shots of assorted liquor, mostly tequila and bourbon. I managed to make it to Cheetah for lapdances.

I don't feel 34. My body does. I don't party as frequently as I used to a decade earlier, but when I do party I'm still pushing the limits. There were points and moments during benders earlier this year when I partied harder than in my twenties. The biggest difference is that my body needs several days to recover from a weekend of brain damage.

I finally accepted the fact that I needed glasses and went to the doctor in August. I haven't been wearing my specs at all since I left Las Vegas. I only used them for working in casinos and while driving. Since I'm doing neither in NYC, I haven't touched them. That was an obvious sign of aging that jumped out of nowhere for me.

Although I new my vision had been slipping the last few years, I didn't go for an exam. Without health insurance, eye care is one of the first things I never followed through on. Plus I couldn't afford glasses. I still don't have healthcare and had to shell out $600 for glasses and an exam. After the World Series of Poker, I had to use one of my paychecks to buy a pair. I never knew how poor my vision was until I wore glasses for the first time. I could see street signs from a block or two away. I could see the sports scores on the bottom of the TV screen without squinting.

And after Nicky, Grubby, and Derek tried on my glasses they all told me that I had a weak prescription and that my eyesight is still much better than theirs. So I barely needed glasses. And since I travel around so much that's another item that I have to constantly worry about and keep tabs on.

In my 30s I discovered that I had more responsibilities with less time to question things such as the direction of my life.

Discipline and effort. I lacked both in the 1990s and wasted so many opportunities and moments. I let my freedom slip through my fingers and didn't soak up as much as I could have. At the end of Easy Rider there's a line where they say, "We blew it." Decades later, Dennis Hopper explained that was an admission of regret and failure from the 60s generation. They started a revolution and tested the elasticity of freedom and they had chance to change the world... and they blew it.

That's how I feel about the majority of my 20s. I got too caught up in what other people thought about me. And I lost my way. I wanted to be a writer and fucked around too much, not applying myself or working on improving my craft. I wrote frequently, but just enough to get by to justify my existence as a writer.

I was lazy like so many other people both creative and non-creative. I wanted all the attention and respect of being a writer without doing any of the work. That eventually changed the last few years. Here's something I wrote two years ago:

About a year ago I almost hit rock bottom. I live to write and one September day in 2003, I woke up completely uninspired. That was not a nimble mischance. My once vast pool of inspiration had dried up. You could imagine the treacherous confusion that set in as I wandered around unhinged, unbalanced, and under-excited-about-life, surfing the tumultuous waves of postmodern society for several weeks while my mindset was tepid, at best. I was anonymously slumped at the end of a bar, muddied in a mid-afternoon buzz, when out of nowhere, I got up from my stool and walked out into the crowded street. I decided at that point to stop contemplating the big questions and start living. I'd push myself to write, to live, to travel, to explore, and most importantly... to make mistakes. Lots of them. I found something that day. Something I had been missing for several years. I discovered the intangible fearless attitude that I used to give me a glittering swagger when I walked so many years before. Within eight weeks, I penned two new novels, one of which I can proudly say, was my best piece of writing I ever created. Coincidence? As soon as I shrugged off the possibility of failure, I found the energy and inspiration to start more projects. Some of them have panned ut, others fizzled out. But if I didn't take the first steps, I never would have figured out what parts of my vision could become reality.

A year later, I find myself overwhelmed with projects. Instead of pulling myself out of a deep depressive funk where I felt I had nothing pushing me... I find myself, today, slipping into a deep depressive funk because I realize that life is so short and because of that... I won't be able to have the time to do every project that has crossed my mind. Sadness smothers me when I think about all those poems, short stories, screenplays, stage plays, and novels that I'll never have the time to write. Or how about those magazines, paintings, photographs, films, and sculptures I'd like to create? I had so much time... and I wasted it all, mostly, caught up in a haze of conformity. If I just slipped away from the restraints of conventional thinking years earlier, who knows what I could have accomplished by now.

Alas, I am where I am and how I got here has very little importance anymore. It's how I live my future days that counts the most. I'll make myself the same promise; to live, to write, to explore, to travel, and to make mistakes. This upcoming year I shall still be a student of life. I'm a decade away from being a master of both literature and poker. If I study each subject with tenacious focus, I'll reap the benefits of my diligent efforts in the next decade. For now, my energies will be focused on strengthening my liabilities, while capitalizing on my assets, and plodding forth on a path of creativity and personal enlightenment.

I struggled with insomnia and made a deal with myself. Since I slept 3 or 4 hours less than the average person every night, I looked at those hours as a blessing or a gift. I would use that time to write and promised myself to write two hours a day. I might have already been a writer, or born a writer, or evolved into a one. But I knew that if I wanted to become a good writer, then I'd have to write two hours a day everyday for a decade. If I lived to 40, I'd have the life experience and writing ability to pen a piece of literature that I can be proud of. Like an Olympic athlete, I've been training everyday prepping for a moment several years in the future.

I stuck with my two hour a day writing regimen over the last four years and I've noticed a difference. That's why I've been loathing all those moments in my 20s when I didn't apply myself and only write for ten or twenty minutes at a time instead of toiling over the craft.

Writing is a moneymaker, an escape, a drug, and a therapist all rolled into one. I've supported myself as a writer over the last two years, something I never thought was possible, especially when I worked 15 hour days.

I was given a rare chance to write. I blew my first one and took the second one more seriously. That's when the ideals of discipline and effort took a hold. I pushed myself and got lucky with the blogs and a freelance writing career in poker fell into my lap. I was at the right place at the right time. I'm finally seeing the benefits from all the dedicated work I've done the last four years. That's enough to inspire and convince me to keep at it and keep writing everyday.

If there's anything I learned in the last 34 years...
1. I place a high value on not taking life or myself too seriously. That's hard to do, but when I follow that attitude, I have the most fun and experience bursts of happiness. I do make an exception for writing. I'm dedicated to making myself a better writer which means discipline and effort in that aspect of my life.

2. Your time is your most precious resource and it shouldn't be wasted.

3. You need something to live for.

4. If you reduce your TV viewing time by 30 minutes everyday and talk on the phone 15 minutes less everyday, you will create enough time to read 20-25 books.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Recent Hilarious Google Referrals....
1. Maria Sharapova naked banana
2. Upcoming Las Vegas masturbation parties
3. Hot girls in Brazlian prison
4. Scarlet Johansen breasts
5. San Diego grandma pot bust

Sunday, September 17, 2006

9.16.06 Widespread Panic: Saturday's Setlist & Review

"Pure sickness," as Daddy would say. After two nights at historic Radio City Music Hall, the boys were finally ready to let loose as Jimmy Herring solidified his place among the most dedicated Widespread Panic fans. I don't think George McConnell ever got an iota of support compared to the outpour of enthusiasm that the fans in the crowd gave Herring last night. And he deserved it.

When you get a chance to hear the show, listen to Greta. High energy. The crowd went berserk. And Herring ripped the shit out of that jam. The last night of their three show run might have been their best performance as they cranked out fan favorites Space Wrangler, One Arm Steve, Greta, Driving Song, and Chilly Water. Not to mention an old school tune in Walkin and a couple of tunes off of their latest album and a cover of Dr. John's I Walk On Guilded Splinters.
9.16.06 Radio City Music Hall, New York, NY

Set 1: Space Wrangler > Walkin, Can't Get High, One Arm Steve > Christmas Katie > Thought Sausage, Pickin Up The Pieces, Ribs & Whiskey > Stop Breakin Down

Set 2: Holden Oversoul > Travelin Man > Aunt Avis > Second Skin > Greta > Driving Song > Drums > Guilded Splinters > Driving Song > Contentment Blues > Chilly Water

Encore: Let's Get This Show on the Road, None of Us Are Free
Bruce and I arrived early. I did more pre-show drinking and got to my floor seat around 8pm. We were in the first section to the left of the sound board. We had a good area with the exception of the nazi-like presence of the security guards. I saw them bust at least 30 people for smoking. They'd walk down the long aisle and five minutes later they were pushing someone out. One older hippie got caught up in their sting as he puffed down on a one hitter. I told Bruce to keep an eye out for the suits. They actually made it easy because when they'd be leaving the floor to escort someone out, that allowed you a couple of minutes to quickly smoke.

Radio City Music Hall has some of the best acoustics out of any venue I've seen a concert in... and I've seen well over a thousand concerts over the last 15 years. None of the venues compare to RCMH. Some of the best shows I've seen included Phish and Beck at RCMH and you can add Widespread Panic to that list.

First set started out with a one-two punch of Space Wrangler > Walkin. I got immediate flashbacks of my introduction to Widespread Panic when I lived in Atlanta for four years during college. Those were the Panic songs I first listened to over 15 years ago while I smoked cheaped Mexican weed out of three foot bongs and drank too much Jim Beam. I might have saved those epic tunes to close the set, but the boys wanted to get the show started with a couple of heavy hitters and crowd favorites.

The Saturday night crowd was much more rowdy than the two prior nights. It was also the most crowded of all three shows. Everyone was ready to party and the boys did not disappoint. Beginning a show with Space Wrangler reminded of when Phish opened up the 12.11.99 Philly show with Harry Hood then ripped into Mike's > Simple > Weekapaug. What a sick show! You don't expect a band to begin a concert with a power song like Space Wrangler. A rare treat.

The highlight of the first set was the One Arm Steve > Christmas Katie > Thought Sausage sandwich. Bruce dug One Arm Steve which is one of my favorite Panic tunes. Christmas Katie kicked my ass and I love the heavy metal funk of Thought Sausage. Dave Schools picked it up and Todd kept wailing away on drums.

Ribs & Whiskey has become one of my favorite songs. The band reintroduced it during 2003 and it has slowly become a staple. I particularly dug the funky version at Vegoose and I also caught a juicy one this summer at Red Rocks. Even the lyrics are a return to their good old boy southern rock roots... "Ribs and whiskey making my body feel tight."

I could think of three other Panic songs I wanted to hear besides Holden Oversoul > Travelin Man > Aunt Avis. But that's what they opened with and I was content. I love it when a band plays songs I might not have picked or perhaps didn't want to hear, but they win me over with a hot version.

Second Skin > Greta > Driving Song was the highlight of the second set. or some reason the first 1/3 of Second Skin still bothers me, but I freakin' dig the last 2/3 of the song. I cannot explain that. Like I said before Greta was the highlight of the night and the the show run. JoJo and Herring were the MVPs of Greta. And Driving Song is a classic that makes me miss Mikey. I forgot the name of that Panic DVD I saw a few years ago... but Mikey and JB played an acoustic version of Driving Song as they two sat on their porch in Georgia trading licks.

The drums jam featured six or seven musicians on all sorts of percussion, banging away like madmen. Bruce is a drummer and dug that ten minute span of the show. They pulled out of drums with Guilded Splinters. That's the dark side of Panic that I miss. They finished the rest of Driving Song and closed the set with a heavily anticipated Chilly Water. No matter how many times I hear Chilly Water, it still makes me smile and gives me goosebumps. Unlike at the Wiltern in LA, I didn't get doused with water or a beer during the chorus.

The encore was a tad questionable. I would have dug a Conrad or Big Whooly or Barstools or how about a Cream Puff War? The first encore song was slow and mellow and they seem to play None of Us Are Free at almost every series of shows I've been to recently.

The third night at RCMH featured more extended jams with Jimmy Herring finding his way and making his own mark during classic songs such as Greta and Chilly Water. No one questioned if he could handle himself onstage. The guy can play guitar. Panic fans everywhere wondered if he would be the bridge to the old days of Panic. They're not there yet but give Herring and the boys some time to get used to one another. In a couple of months, they're going to be back on track for the first time since Mikey Houser died.

I'm pumped to see the boys in Las Vegas next month and I'm even considering trying to see them one or two more times before then!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

9.15.06 Widespread Panic at Radio City Music Hall Setlist and Mini-Review

The boys returned to NYC for three shows at historic Radio City Music Hall to kick off their fall tour featuring new guitarist Jimmy Herring. Herring is the third (or fourth if you count John Keane's contributions) guitar player in the last few years. When Mikey Houser died, George McConnell took over. During summer tour in Colorado, I heard rumors that they were kicking George out. When I caught the Panic shows in LA, I noticed that George played exceptionally well. I suggested that he was auditioning to industry types for a future gig. Most recently, it was announced that joined the Black Crowes.

I still dunno what really happened, but Jimmy Herring is an amazing musician. I've seen him play with Phil Lesh the most and he sorta/kinda replaced Jerry Garcia in the reincarnation of The Dead. That was one of the toughest jobs in the history of music. It was like when Tino Martinez replaced Don Mattingly at first base for the Yankees. Like Tino, Jimmy Herring did better than expected.

A good old boy from North Carolina, Jimmy started playing with the Aquarium Rescue Unit which featured Col. Bruce Hampton. He's also played with the Codetalkers (along with Hampton) and with the Allman Brothers Band. When Widespread Panic announced the addition of Herring to their lineup, JW said, "A return to their southern rock roots. I love it."

Indeed I was eager to see Herring thrown into the mix. I also knew that the first few shows would have flat moments. The majority of guys on stage have been playing together for almost twenty years, so it would be natural that Herring needed time to adjust and find his own way with the band. I was spoiled for my last four Panic shows. I caught them this summer twice at Red Rocks in Colorado with the Joker. Then Nicky and I caught them in Hollyweird at the Wiltern Theatre, which I thought were raging shows.
9.15.06 Radio City Music Hall, New York, NY

Set 1: From The Cradle > Little Kin > Radio Child > This Part of Town, Jack, Diner, Blue Indian, Dyin Man > Makes Sense to Me > Ain't Life Grand

Set 2: All Time Low > Fishwater, Me and the Devil, Time is Free** > Fixin' to Die**, Surprise Valley > Drums > Surprise Valley > Pilgrims > Climb to Safety

Encore: Nobody's Loss > Love Tractor

Notes: ** Col. Bruce Hampton appeared on vocals
John Keane played on Pedal Steel during the first set and guitar in the second set. Jeff "Birddog" Lane sat in on percussion during drums
I went to the Friday show with Bruce. He's seen Panic a few times, mostly with me. I think his last show was at RCMH. Anyway, we had first mezzanine and that's not a bad place. The sounds gets a little fuzzy if you are off to the sides. We were smack in the middle near a few tapers and everything was solid sound wise.

The boys took the stage at 8:20pm as the late arriving crowd took their seats. Over the first half hour they progressively got better. I don't think I'd pick From The Cradle > Little Kin > Radio Child > This Part of Town as my dream openers, but a funkified Radio Child was the definite highlight in that opening segue. I particularly dig the second half of the set. I had no problems with Jack, Diner, and Blue Indian. Herring was still finding his own during those classic Panic tunes.

They closed the set with a power sandwich of Dyin Man > Makes Sense to Me > Ain't Life Grand. The first half of Aint Life Grand was all smoke even though they lost the intensity towards the end. I don't expect that to happen in future shows as Herring gets his shit together.

It was a drunk show for me as I consumed the majority of my liquor in the first set. Cocktails and beers are $8. With a $50 ticket plus Ticketbastard charges, drinking heavily at RCMH means the show costs at least $100 in all including liquor. The bar lines at setbreak are atrocious, so I made sure I got good and liquored up pre-show and during the first set.

Our area was mellow and the ushers let everyone dance and smoke freely. The mezzanine area ended up becoming general admission and you could sit or dance anywhere there was space. One guy took a few steps in and looked around.

"Who's burning down the skunky shit?" he said as he looked right at me.

I gave him my best poker face and shrugged my shoulders. An older hippie from Australia sat behind us. He was in town on holiday and stopped by the Virgin record store in Times Square. He listened to a few Panic CDs there and decided to check them out. He bought a ticket to Thursday's show. He went in cold and had a good enough time that he bought a ticket to the Friday show. The kids in front of us were under 21. One wore a Dave Matthews Band shirt and the other wore a String Cheese summer tour shirt. I gave them a little shit, but they were nice guys.

The opening of set 2 impressed me. Usually All Time Low is solid and rocking a set closer. One of the best versions I ever saw happened in NYC at the Beacon Theatre a few years ago. I saw that show with Senor. But the All Time Low > Fishwater opener was sizzling. Col. Bruce Hampton came out and sang vocals on Time is Free > Fixin' to Die. As soon as Col. Bruce took the stage, Herring had a boost in confidence. It was nice to heard some of that old southern jam-rock that I was exposed to during college.

Over the last few years, I've developed a fondness for Surprise Valley. I wanted to hear it and they played it. I could not have been happier. After drums, they finished up a tantalizing Surprise Valley and segued into crowd favorites Pilgrims > Climb to Safety.

Widespread Panic knows how to end their shows. They played two songs during the encore including Love Tractor, which I still hear from time to time on TBS as their outro music to commercials during Atlanta Braves games.

Overall, it was a fun night. Good crowd. Great sound. Amazing venue. And Jimmy Herring's addition to the band has gotten me more and more excited about seeing future shows. I he was this good during his second ever show with the band, what will he sound like at the end of the tour?

One more show to go on Saturday.

Friday, September 15, 2006

List of 5

I haven't done one of these big lists of 5 random things in a while.

Last 5 Books I Saw People Reading in Airports...
1. The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus
2. The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy
3. Six Bad Things by Charlie Huston
4. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
5. Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt

Last 5 Books I Saw People Reading on the Subway...
1. The Guy Not Taken by Jennifer Weiner
2. The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt
3. The Holy Bible
4. Only Revolutions by Mark Z. Danielewski
5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Last 5 Movies I Saw...
1. Factotum
2. Little Miss Sunshine
3. Clerks 2
4. Snakes on a Plane
5. The Island

Recent Writing Music...
1. Black Keys
2. Django Reinhardt
3. The Wood Brothers
4. Velvet Underground
5. Karl Denson

Last 5 Blogs I Read...
1. Joe Speaker
2. Raymi
3. AlCantHang
4. Aaron Gleeman
5. Neal Pollock

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Required Reading & Viewing

On Monday morning, I went to a memorial mass for friends and classmates who died on 9.11. I was touched by two pieces... Mean Gene's Five Years After 9.11 and Kid Dynamite's 5 Years Later. Check them out.

Make sure you read one of my favorite posts all time.... How to Leave a Comment by Tony Pierce.

Also check out the Joker's latest video of STS9 at the Fox Theatre in Boulder.

And Mrs. Head is selling her paintings... take a peek.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Recent Writing Music...
1. Medeski, Martin & Wood
2. Johnny Cash
3. Radiohead
4. Velvet Underground
5. Brian Jonestown Massacre

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Zombies, Haircuts, and Divine Invasions

I've been reading a biography called Divine Invasions: A Life of Philip K. Dick In Las Vegas, Ryan recommended the book about one of my favorite writers. In his life, Dick cranked out over forty books and hundreds of short stories. Of course there was that trigger moment in 1974 when he started having visions after he scored some killer pharmies after getting his teeth pulled.

It's sad that his books and stories have been expanded into films, but they all missed the boat and have been flops. I still want to see A Scanner Darkly.

The day before I left Hollyweird, I was offered a role as an extra in a play. Showcase said, "Dude, it's totally yours if you want it. Non-speaking Zombie part. They need people."

Since I was heading back to NYC, I politely declined the interesting offer. The other day I was offered a freelance assignment in Aruba. I turned it down because it was on short notice (scheduled in two weeks) and I scheduled the next six weeks off to write. A few months ago I passed on a free cruise to the Bahamas for another poker-related assignment. If the Aruba gig were a week or two later I'd most likely do it. I had to pass on a gig with the Borgata this month as well. I normally don't like turning down assignments but this time off is necessary. I want to be in one place for a while. I want to enjoy living in NYC again. I also want to take a break away from poker and focus on writing fiction and improving myself as a writer.

I got a haircut the other morning. I went to my personal barber Vinny. The entire time he told me about his preparation for the NYC marathon. He used to run a lot when I was a kid and had not done one in over a decade. He said he's ready. He also told me about the guy who caught four of a kind playing Let It Ride in Atlantic City.

I walked around the old neighborhood and noticed some small changes. Shops open up and close quickly. What used to be an arty marble and kitchen store became a real-estate office. Years ago, that space used to be a bar that my father would drink in. The pet supply store shut down and the cleaners a few doors down moved in. The cleaners became something else that I forgot. Two new apartment buildings are building built within a three block radius. In New York City, there's constant construction on the ever evolving city. In one of the older cities in America, things are being ripped down and new building are being erected.

In Henderson just outside of Las Vegas, the open lots of dessert land is being developed into strip malls, condos, and housing developments. They've been popping up over the last few years as urban sprawl has taken over the Las Vegas valley. In Boulder, Co there are anti-contsruction laws and you don't see too many new man-made things going up. If anything, it's a city of renovations and remodeling. But in NYC, there's a cycle. The older building get torn down and new ones pop up and the cycle continues just like it has been doing for over a century.

I rode the subway for the first time in months. I had to get used to people banging into me and having to stand in close quarters with complete strangers. Driving around in a car for a few months was a luxury in a way. I traveled around in my own bubble and got to choose my own music.

I like to people watch and NYC is one of the best places in the world to do that. But you have to be careful on the subway. You can't get caught looking at other New Yorkers. They hate that and some of them will get annoyed and say something. You have be slick about it otherwise you get your ass kicked. Sunglasses helps out alot.

The media is beating the 9.11 drum loudly as the fifth anniversary approaches. The latest model of the new-downtown has been released... and it took more time than it should have. I have a memorial service to go to on Monday and even got one of my suits dry cleaned.

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."

Thursday, September 07, 2006

LA and Colorado Photo Dump

I took these over the last few weeks. You can click on the photos to see an enlarged view.

Late night munchies in Boulder

Outside of Boulder

This dog is gay, not that there's anything wrong with it...

B&W photo of the day

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Summer Flicks

In the last few weeks, I finally saw a few films that I'd been wanting to see but never had the time to because of work. The locals' casinos in Las Vegas have movie theatres built in... so in one afternoon you can go eat a buffet, watch a flick, then play poker... without leaving the property. That's purposely done so you often find high school hooligans hanging around those parts of the casino.

I caught Snakes on a Plane and Clerks 2 in Las Vegas. I wanted to see Factotum, A Scanner Darkly, and Little Miss Sunshine, but those were sophisticated art house flicks that were not released in redneck surrounded and tweaker heavy Las Vegas. I had to wait until I headed to civilization in Hollyweird to see those two indie gems.

And of course, I was bored and baked to the tits one afternoon, so I fired up the boob tube in Nicky's apartment and watched The Island. I heard it was awful from both the critics and friends so I didn't want to waste my money on the rental. I watched it on cable because I actually like Michael Bay flicks and I want to penetrate Scarlet Johansen so viciously that her eyeballs pop out.

The Island is about clones (Ewan MacGergor and Scarlet Boobs) who think they are real people trying to win a trip to the Island... the only germ free paradise in the late 21s century. However, they were grown to harvest organs or make babies for wealthy clients who have no idea they exist. The evil bio-tech company that created clones for pro football players and actors said that the clones never reach an awaken state. There's the conflict. They do and eventually escape from the lab.

The ethical and moral undertones about cloning are interesting but that cerebral aspect of the film was never explored, instead the thinking man's sci-fi flick turned into a chase and explosion film. Scarlet Johansen's lips are ripe to the touch and every guy who watched The Island fantasized about her lips touching the tips of their penis no less than twenty-seven times. I guess that's why I sat through the entire flick.

My buddy Ferrari told me about Little Miss Sunshine directed by a husband and wife team of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. When I got to LA it was one of the first things I did. Nicky and I headed to the Grove to see it and I had to sit through and awful trailer for The Sleep of Science.

Anyway, Little Miss Sunshine features an ensemble cast who plays a dysfunctional New Mexico family who embarks on a roadtrip to take their daughter to a pre-teen beauty pageant.

Olive has one dream... to become Little Miss Sunshine. Her brother (played by Paul Dano aka Klitz from The Girl Next Door) is a loner who reads too much Nietzsche and took a vow of silence. Her uncle (Steve Carell) is a Proust scholar that just survived a suicide attempt after his gay lover left him. Her grandfather (Alan Arkin) is a grumpy old junkie who got kicked out of his retirement home for doing heroin. Her father (Greg Kinnear) is an unsuccessful motivational speaker. Her mother (Toni Collete) is bogged down with managing her eccentric family that seems to be drifting apart. The entire family jammed into Kinnear's ratty yellow VW bus for a roadtrip were hijinks ensued.

The writing by Michael Arndt was solid and the acting performances were stellar. The girl who played Olive stole the show during her dancing routine at the Little Miss Sunshine pageant.

I was eager to see Factotum, a flick inspired and based upon Charles Bukowski's 1975 novel of the same title. A film like that was hard to come together in America. Alas, Europeans are fond of American writers like Bukowski, so the Norwegians took control and financed the flick. Bent Hammer who's also Norwegian also directed. Nicky and I headed to the Sunset 5 to see Factotum which was less than a mile from some of the dive bars in East Hollywood that Bukowski used to drink in.

Factotum shines the spotlight on an average guy's struggle against mediocrity. Matt Dillon plays Bukowski's alter-ego Henry Chinaski who's a low-life drunken poet that can't hold a job. The book mirrored Bukowski life in the 1940s and 1950s while he barely held menial jobs during daily drinking binges in LA dive bars. Factotum was set in present time and they changed locales... from LA to the sketchy side of Minneapolis.

Dillon jumps from crappy job to crappy job trying to do the least amount of work possible. He smokes and drinks on the job and doesn't even flinch when he gets fired. He lives in flea-infested flop houses and unsuccesfully sends out submissions to magazines while attracting insane women that he meets in urine-stenched bars where old drunks go to die.

Lili Taylor pulled off a remarkable job playing Jan the neurotic promiscuous alkie, who ends up giving Dillon crabs at one point. Bukowski liked the horses as much as he drank, and there were a few racetrack scenes with Fisher Stevens.

Mickey Rourke played Bukowski in the 1987 film Barfly. His version was a loud and rowdier drunk versus Dillon's more subdued, pensive, and outwardly depressed version of Bukowski.

* * * * *

Snakes on a Plane is an awful film but it's one of those that you have to see just for shits and giggles.

For a good laugh and plenty of cum-shit-druggie humor, Clerks 2 does not dissapoint, especially the rambling scene were Randal rails on bloggers. Hey I'm a huge Kevin Smith fan and he can't do no wrong in my eyes.

Since I consider Bukowski one of my influences and favorite writers, it's hard for me nt to recommend Factotum. Besides, after you see that flick, no matter how depressed you might be, you feel 1000% better about your job and your life.

And if you haven't seen Little Miss Sunshine, go ahead because it's light-hearted and instense at the same time and a great date flick.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Zuma Days

When I walked outside my apartment in Henderson, I could see Black Mountain. When I walked down the street from the Joker's house in Boulder, I was greeted by the near by Flat Irons. In Hollyweird, when I step out into the alley of Nicky's apartment, I see Nakotmi Plaza the building that the first Die Hard was set in. It's actually pat of Century City, but that's one of the first things I see everyday in LA.

My intention were to re-read Jack Tripper Stole My Dog five times before Labor Day and that never happened. Truckin' took longer than I expected. Motivating myself to read when I was busy catching up with television and movies was more difficult than expected. Oh and the highgrade medicinal marijuana caused a major slowdown as I slipped into full vacation mode. It was either the Northern Lights or Cali-O that lulled me into writing mode more than reading/editing mode. As soon as I finished the August issue of Truckin', I spent most of my time writing about non-poker things and playing online poker late at night.

On Wednesday night, Nicky and I had dinner with Spaceman who was in town covering the Legends of Poker. Since it was around 9pm, our food options were limited. That's my biggest gripe about Los Angeles... is the sparse late night food choices. Since Doughboys closed at Midnight, we settled on that trendy eatery on 3rd Street that originally started out as a bakery before adding a cafe part with outdoor seating. I prefer eating breakfast and brunch there. Doughboy's specialty is the Stuffed French Toast which is filled with strawberry jam and cream cheese.

I ordered the Monster... a huge slice of focaccia bread topped with melted emmanthal cheese, grilled onions, mushrooms, and tons of beef. It's an open faced sandwich that comes with horseradish sauce. I also ordered a dish of taters White Trash style which comes with bacon, onions, chopped beef, and tons of velveeta cheese. Nicky, Spaceman, and myself ate it for an appetizer and we couldn't even make a dent. With almost 50% of the Monster left over, I surrendered and asked the waitresses for a to-go box. I was forced to bring the Monster home.

During the days when Nicky was away at work, I'd sit around and write in the steamy apartment. Showcase would bring a couple of dogs home with him during the afternoon. He's a dogwalker for uber-rich and somewhat famous clients such as an ex-spouse of a cast member from a popular HBO drama and he also takes care of a dog owned by of the actors from a famous NBC sitcom. The dogs of the stars roam freely in the apartment when he stops by.

Two months ago I was in Tennessee at Bonnaroo and watched a dude with possum-made boots snort coke off a buck knife in the middle of the crowd at Sonic Youth show. A month ago in Las Vegas, I lost $400 because Otis proved me wrong and ate two Keno crayons. And just the other day, I sat in a Beverly Hills apartment and played online poker while gay, nut-biting, toy humping sexually overactive dogs of famous actors hung out on the couch next to me.

One dog was nicknamed Gay Mack because he only liked to hump other male dogs. One was a a tiny red Dachshund named Billy. He was a pussy for a dog and could not leave Showcase's side. Billy would also chew and bite his testicles in order to masturbate. He did it for a few minutes while I sat on the couch and stared in amazement and jealousy. The other dog was a pug named Pug. He was the "biggest fuckin' pug" that I have ever seen. Pug liked to hump a squeeze toy that would moan when he mounted it.

One night after consuming copious amounts of medicinal weed, Nicky and I headed to Ralph's for a late night stoner's shopping spree. We only went in for a few items and $84 and thirty minutes later, we walked out with four bags of things. I dunno why I bought a bottle of Maraschino cherries bathed in sweet brandy. We bought three kinds of ice cream; Haagen-Dazs Vanilla, Ralph's version of Mint Chocolate Chip, and Ben & Jerry's Vermonty Python. We also bought a bottle of Aloe, whipped cream, Snapple iced tea, and Vanilla extract.


There are two types of LA people... day citizens and night zombies. Earlier in the year when I was in Hollyweird, I spent most of my time partying hard avoiding the daylight and roaming the city late at night during one of the most rowdy benders I've undertook in the last few years. We were vampires and slept during the days and partied every night until sunrise. I would not crash until 6am and by the time I woke up, everyone on the East Cast was leaving work for the day.

I tried to get up early on this trip, being a part of the healthy LA scene. Part of that was eating much better... lots of fruit and juices in the morning. For a couple days in a row, Nicky and I were up at 9am and we're out of the door by 10am headed to the beach. We needed to get an early start during the holiday weekend. Since I'm on a donut diet, I could not eat the donuts at Yum Yum on La Cienega, which we would pass on our way to the freeway. I would always order a croissant and an apple fritter. Although a fritter is just like a donut, it's technically not one so I found a loophole in my donut diet. But I've been donut free for over 12 days and counting.

The drive up to Zuma Beach in Malibu was not bad if we left the city around 10am. We'd be physically on the beach no later than 11am in a decent spot too. Zuma is one of my favorite places to hang out. The beaches are very clean and the view is magnificent. We'd stay for two or three hours while Nicky read Chuck Klosterman's Killing Yourself to Live and I tackled my novel. I had a photocopy of JTSMD and a pen from the Excalibur in Las Vegas. The chapters were short (roughly 30 of them) and I pretty much tore my work to shreds.

Before we started going to Zuma everyday, I found it difficult working on JTSMD. There's something about the ocean or the beach or Zuma itself that inspired me to get my shit together.

It's strange re-working something I originally wrote four years ago. I'm a different person now and a different writer. I was working on Wall Street at the time I wrote JTSMD and I rushed it inside of ten days. Four years later, I'm no longer in the trenches and miraculously supporting myself as a writer. I'm a much better storyteller today so in a way, I'm not destroying my previous work. Instead I'm just telling it in a more concise manner. I'm eliminating a lot of the unnecessary filler and I will be adding more backstory to clarify some of the troubled areas in the book. The song remains the same. Ivan the Russian Cab Driver is alive again.