Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Widespread Panic Halloween Setlist

Amazing show with lots of covers including songs from Jerry Joseph, Bob Marley, The Grateful Dead, REM, Hot Tuna, The Doors, and the Beatles. Review pending. I know I keep saying that, but I've been partying too much to ost pictures, videos, and write up show reviews.
10.30.06 Widespread Panic, MGM Grand, Las Vegas, NV

Set I: Contentment Blues > People Are Strange, You Should Be Glad> John's Other Jam > Pilgrims > Greta > Sharon > Time Zones, Stop Go > Three Little Birds > Imitation Leather Shoes > Chainsaw City

Set II: Can Get It Here, Slippin Into Darkness, When the Clowns Come Home, DOner > Proving Ground > Halloween Movie Theme Jam > Drums (with Carrot Top) > Airplane > Morning Dew, Love Tractor

Encore: ?, Radar Love, I Want You So Bad

Monday, October 30, 2006

Phil Lesh & Trey Anastasio Vegoose Setlist

I give the guys an A for effort and a C on execution. Trey flubbed the lyrics on Row Jimmy. The highlight was Mike Gordon playing banjo on Back on the Train. There was a "roll" theme which was funny because everyone I knew was pretty much rolling. Stay tuned for a complete review.
10.29.06 Trey & Phil, Vegoose, Las Vegas, NV

Set I: Shakedown Street > Sweet Dreams Melinda > Row Jimmy, Let It Ride > Sleep Again, Like a Rolling Stone, Back on the Train > Bird Song > Help's On the Way > Slipknot > Franklin's Tower

Encore: Donor Rap, Not Fade Away
Also in the band were Jon Medeski from Medeski, Martin, & Wood (keyboards), John Molo (drums), Larry Campbell (guitar), and Christina Durfee (vocals).
String Cheese Incident Late Night Vegoose Setlist

The boys from the Cheese played a weird show at the Orleans. Our crew stopped by around 1AM to take in the late night scene which had a monkey and jungle theme.
10.29.06 String Cheese Incident, Orleans Arena, Las Vegas, NV

Set I: Hey Hey We're the Monkeys, Black Clouds, Bam, Piece Of Mine, Round The Wheel > Solution > Birdland > Wheel Hoss > Birdland, Las Vegas > Welcome to the Jungle > Drums > Jam > Welcome to the Jungle

Set II: Shantytown, Rain, Little Hands > Concrete Jungle > Bumpin' Reel, Eye Know Why > Jungle Boogie > Texas

Encore: Doin' My Time, Daryl
Widespread Panic Sunday Vegoose Setlist

Post and review pending...
10.29.06 Widespread Panic, Vegoose, Las Vegas, NV

Set 1: Climb to Safety > Surprise Valley > Henry Parsons Died, From the Cradle > Pigeons, Rebirtha > Tallboy, Blue Indian, Solid Rock > Fishwater, Conrad > Thought Sausage > Barstools and Dreamers > Action Man, Papa's Home, Little Wing > Porch Song, Ribs and Whiskey > Good People > Chilly Water

Encore: Ain't Life Grand
Sick show, BTW!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

STS9 Late Night Hard Rock Vegoose Setlist

Sound Tribe Sector Nine played a late show at The Joint at Hard Rock Casino. Of course, we went and the entire crowd was lit up like a Christmas tree. The Joker busted out his Disco Santa costume and all the ladies were swooning. Here's the incomplete setlist:
10.29.06 STS9 Late Night Setlist, The Joint, Las Vegas, NV

Set I: Rent, Some Song, Pianoir, One A Day, ??, Blue Mood, ??

Set II: (order is off) Low Swagga, F Word, Moonsocket, Aimlessly, Orbital, Arigato, Mischief of a Sleep Walker

Encore: You Don't Say, Gologi
The Joker didn't know the two unknown songs in the first set. And the entire second set's order is off and we're missing a few songs.
Phil & Trey Late Night Setlist

Phil Lesh from the Grateful Dead and Trey Anastasio from Phish joined forces and played an amazing show at the Orleans Arena late on Saturday night/early Sunday morning. Also in the band were Jon Medeski from Medeski, Martin, & Wood (keyboards), John Molo (drums), Larry Campbell (guitar), and Christina Durfee (vocals).
10.29.06 Phil & Trey at Orleans Arena, Las Vegas, NV

Set I: Ghost > Cryptical Envelopment > The Other One > Drifting > Dark Star > Mountains of the Moon > 46 Days > St. Stephen > The Eleven > Plasma

Set II: Dark Star > Run for the Roses > Dark Star > Wharf Rat > I Know You Rider

Encore: Viola Lee Blues > Here Comes Sunshine > Shine
Phil and Trey will be back to play a long set at Vegoose on Sunday.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Trey Rocks Vegoose Late Night

This is the ten minute version of my review.

We arrived at the Orleans early and drank at the bar next to the poker room. We had a good crew with myself, Nicky, The Joker, Friedman, JW and Professional Keno Player Neil Fontenot ready to kick off Vegoose with the first of several late night shows.

The Orleans filled up with plenty of kind faces as the Joker kept yelling at Phisheads, "Trey sucks!" while Neil Fontenot would run up to Phishkids and yell, "Go home hippies!"

At the bar, a drunk chick stumbled over and screamed at the sluggish bartender, "Give me two bottles of beer with the highest alcohol percentage that you have!"

We figured that Trey wouldn't take the stage until after Midnight and slowly made our way into the show. Robert Randolph and the Family Band opened and I've been seeing him since 1999. RR played a few songs that I was familiar with but didn't know the name. I Need More Love got the sparse crowd rocking and shaking their ass.

The Orleans Arena is where a minor league hockey team plays in Las Vegas. The joint was no where close to be sold out and I estimated about 1/3 of the venue was filled or around 1,500 to 2,000 people (estimated by Friedman). The security guards were out in force and busted several people for smoking cigarettes and other things. Perhaps it was due to the late time of the show, but a lot of people in the corwd were drunk. Very drunk which borderlined on annoying. One dude passed out and hit the floor. His friends had to carry him out and he puked on a guy standing near us.
10.27.06 Trey Anastasio Band, Orleans Arena, Las Vegas, NV

Set I: Simple Twist of Dave, First Tube, Stone Free*, 46 Days*, Sweet Dreams Melinda, Push On Til the Day, What's Done, Goodbye Head > Plasma, Gotta Jiboo

Encore: Mr. Completely > Tuesday

* with Robert Randolph on pedal steel
Simple Twist Up Dave started out slow and then picked up in intensity. The second half of the jam impressed me as the band peaked to an amazing freight train rocking jam. That would be a glimpse into what type of show we'd see. Trey has a variety of influences and his shows can take on a poppy, funk, reggaish, or psychedelic air to them. That night, Trey would show off his best rock ensemble. Those oxy jams are a thing of the past, when Trey would be so jacked up that he'd noodle his way onto the other side of the solar system.

We were shocked to hear First Tube so early in the set. I dunno if Trey was pissed at the bad ticket sales, or the group he put together finally gelled after a few weeks on the road together, or maybe he was simply happy to be in Vegas (where he always loved to play). Regardless, he picked up the slack and the rest of the band fed off of his mega-high frenetic energy.

Robert Randolph sat in for two songs including a sizzling cover of Jimi Hendrix's Stone Free, which the Joker caught in Boulder on Tuesday. Next up was a bluesy 46 Days with a nice jam between Trey and RR.

The melodious Sweet Dreams Melinda was followed up by a crowd favorite Push On Til the Day. The jam featured Jen Hartswick playing several Miles Davis riffs as she belted them out in the second half of Push On. I thought that was the highlight of the show and that Trey would end the set. Instead he kept going which meant we'd get one long set instead of two short sets.

I took a piss during What's Done and got another beer as I wandered around the back of the floor. It was sort of empty. Too bad. Everyone who stayed home missed a stellar Trey show.

Goodbye Head > Plasma was an intense twenty minutes. The mood of the show was hard rock and the jams fell more towards the rock and roll sensibility of Trey than spacey or trippy shows I've seen in the past.

Trey closed with Gotta Jibboo which pleased the crowd immensely. The Joker called the encore. "They've been playing hard rock which means Mr. Completely is up next, unless Trey cheeses out and plays Tuesday or something to the equivalent of Velvet Sea."

And on cue Trey came back out for the encore and played Mr. Completely > Tuesday. During Mr. Completely, Trey did that weird thing when he gets really close up to Tony Hall and gazes into his eyes as they jam back and forth. I think Trey likes black men. Nicky called it "the Homo jam."

Overall, it was one of the best Trey shows that I've seen in the last few years. It took on the feeling of one of those hard rocking Phish shows. The best part of the one set format was that once Trey got hot and rolling (somewhere in the middle of the first song), that infectious playing got into the heads of everyone else on stage and they overall level of play was raised.

Instead of getting one of those let down moments when Phish is playing a smoking set and then they end to take a set break, Trey never let up and the more he played, the more comfortable he got with the acoustics of the arena. The result was one of the best Trey band shows I've ever seen.
Trey Vegas Setlist

Review pending of one the Top 10 Trey Band shows I've ever seen. Robert Randolph opened. Here's the setlist.
10.27.06 Trey Anastasio Band, Orleans Arena, Las Vegas, NV

Set I: Simple Twist of Dave, First Tube, Stone Free*, 46 Days*, Sweet Dreams Melinda, Push On Til the Day, What's Done, Goodbye Head > Plasma, Gotta Jiboo

Encore: Mr. Completely > Tuesday

* with Robert Randolph on pedal steel

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Question 7: Decriminalization and Regulation of Marijuana in Nevada

The Poker Prof has been on the ball with his recent foray into blogging with his Las Vegas Business and Politics Blog. He posted a couple of informative videos about Question #7, which will be on the ballots for Nevada residents on Election Day.

The marijuana inititive is gaining support across the state and even some religious right politicans are in favor of it. Jesus Freaks for Weed? Only in Nevada.

Take a peek at Nevada Question #7 - Decriminalization and Regulation of Marijuana.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Pot Dogs

"What kind of responsible pet owner allows her dog around known drug fiends at 2am on a Saturday night in LA?" I screamed as Nicky tried to get her neighbor's dog stoned. "She's lucky we didn't eat the fuckin' dog."

Some pets like getting high but that won't deter that my blog will get flagged by PETA activists and I'll get placed on a hit list. The next time I'm in Las Vegas, a bull dyke with a bigger penis than me will jump out from the shadows and pelt me with a gallon of orange paint as soon as soon as I step one foot into the Bellagio.

On Saturday, I went to dinner at an Italian place in Westwood called Hoboken. I ordered garlic bread with mozzarella cheese and a plate of Penne Arrabiata with pancetta and sundried tomatoes. It was spicy and yummy. Nicky ordered something off the menu since she had been going there for years. In the past I would have cleaned my plate and ate way too much bread. Thanks to my new found subdued eating habits I limited my intake and took about 1/3 of my meal home.

On Sunday morning I woke up hungover after the Galactic show and stumbled over to the fridge. I ate the rest of the cold pasta while standing in the kitchen with the fridge door open wearing just my boxers and looked out the widow and watched a bum rummage through the grabage can in the alley. I smoked a few bingers before I finished up a freelance article.

We went to Zuma Beach in Malibu when Nicky finally woke up. The drive up to Malibu was quick with very little traffic. The beach was empty aside from a few random tourists. I sat and read the rest of a Lester Bangs book as my hangover wore off.

Caught another flick at The Grove on Sunday night. This time it was Running with Scissors. Nicky wanted to go see the film version of Augusten Burroughs' memoir of his childhood during the 1970s. I saw the trailer and it looked funny. I read some of his book, but never finished it.

I must say that the film had just a tiny portion of underaged gay sex and pedophilia than what was mentioned in the book. Since I never finished reading Running with Scissors, it's hard for me to have any other opinion of the material. I do know that ever since the James Frey incident, Burroughs' publisher added a disclaimer to his book just in case someone tries to sue them after calling "Bullshit!" over some the antics in the book. In fact, the real Massachusetts family that Burroughs lived with filed a defamation lawsuit against Sony pictures saying that Burroughs had an overactive imagination and exaggerated the over-the-top experiences with them.

If you don't know Augusten Burroughs wrote a poignant memoir or Momoir since it was pretty much about his mother. She was a delusional poet/housewife and his father was a homicidal drunk who hates his wife. His mother is awful and treats her child like utter shit, putting her own (marginally) artistic needs first before the basic needs of her family as her quest to make art and become famous outweighs the burden she places on herself and her family.

Hopped up on Valium and a dozen other antidepressants, his mother shipped Augusten off to live with her shrink and his odd family. Hijinks and somberness ensue as the film unveils the wacky family of misfits. One daughter dresses like a slut while the other is a bible beater with a penchant for cruelty to animals, even though she claims to be able to speak to them.

As a whole, the film made me laugh and at times blanketed me in sadness. It was not as consistent as The Departed or Little Miss Sunshine, but several scenes were downright hysterical. Brian Cox and Annette Benning gave outstanding performances and both Gwyneth Paltrow and Joe Fiennes eloquently shined in their minor roles. Jill Clayburn wowed me. She displayed her acting chops as the role of Dr. Finch's eccentric house wife who silently watches TV while chomping on dry dog food.

* * * * *

I figured out that my scale in NYC was way off by about six pounds. So when I initially weighed myself after Senor's wife called me fat last month, I was not 205 like the scale read. In reality I was only 199.

Showcase has a scale that is also off by a couple of pounds. When I weighed myself this morning, I was surprised to see that I had lost weight since I left NYC which seemed impossible. That's when I discovered that the scale was off and my initial calculations were way off. I actually weigh 180 pounds after deducting six pounds from two uncalibrated scales.

But I still dropped about twenty pounds which was my target weight. And on Monday morning, I went running. Most of the area where I ran was flat compared to the hills of Riverdale. The weather is much more pleasant too and I was the only person on the empty streets of LA except for a few ethnic nannies pushing around blonde haired babies in strollers.

I had to piss and ducked into an alley off of Olympic and peed (while running in place) in the corner of some dude's garage. If you have to go, you have to go.

After my run I jumped in the shower and Nicky drove me to Studio City for a lunch meeting at Mexicali. I ate a Cobb Burrito with plenty of lettuce, red onions, bleu cheese, chicken, and bacon. Yeah, I willingly went to the Valley and not to sushi row which is the only reason Johnny Drama would torture himself on a rare trip over the Hollywood Hills.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Business Week Blurb

My inflated ego was on vacation for a few days, which means that I forgot to post this Business Week article written by Catherine Holahan called Online Gambling Goes Underground. Yours truly got a mentioning in the first and last paragraphs of the piece. I even got a couple of quotes.

Editor's Note: My inner pothead forgot that I blogged the link to the Business Week article on Saturday.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Galactic Goes Hollywood

The G-men brought their booty-shaking slamming New Orleans trip-funk to the House of Blues in West Hollywood where hippies and hipsters converged to pay tribute to one of the best live bands touring today.

The guys in Galactic are not just stellar musicians, but they are also one of the few direct links between the heart and soul of New Orleans and the rest of the world. For a few hours every night, no matter if they are playing in Tokyo, Boulder, or Copenhagen, they're the vehicle that magically transports the audience back to the Big Easy as they bring the "I hope you brought your sunglasses because we're party to dawn" mentality to your hometown.

Since the Houseman, Galactic's lead singer, left the band they substantially reduced their play list. New Orleans musicians always had a large repertoire due to their ability to cover traditional jazz standards and other local musicians' songs with relative ease and at the same time adding their own distinct sound to flavorful old school favorites. They know that the majority of the audience is not following them from city to city and catching multiple shows in a row, which means they could settle upon a core of 20-30 or so songs which they have been rotating every other show.

My setlist is incomplete but they pretty much played 75% of the songs I saw in Colorado at the end of the summer. And with a band like Galactic, they could play the exact setlist every night and it would still be an amazing ass-shaking experience.
10.21.06 Galactic, House of Blues, W. Hollywood, CA

Set 1: FEMA, The Moil, Tiger Roll > Bounce > Space Headz, ?? New Song, Bongo Joe > Kashmir

Set 2: Garbage Truck, Black Bird Special, Spiderbite, Doo Rag, Shibuya, ??, Bongo the Dog, Little Miss Lover

Encore: Quiet Please
The House of Blues is located on a hill on Sunset Blvd in West Hollyweird which boasts of decriminalized marijuana laws and plenty of tranny hookers. I was told by Showcase that the IHOP around the corner is tranny hooker central, the epicenter of the freakiest of the freaks.

I went to the show with Nicky, Showcase, and his new girlfriend Tina. Nicky drove and we were worried that the valet guys would rummage through the car looking for weed once they whiffed the aroma of a recently smoked medicinal marijuana.

We walked in just at the start of the opening band's set. The Stanton Moore Trio opened up as Galactic's drummer took the stage with two musicians, Will Bernard (guitar) and Brian Coogan (organ), who played in support of his recent solo album. I heard Licorice and Weak Sauce. They were a nice warm up as the late arriving crowd slowly trickled in.

During Stanton Moore's last song of the opening set, I kept my eyes on one corner where a barefoot wookie and his girlfriend twirled around while a few feet in front of them, a couple of industry folks were drinking Grey Goose cocktails while checking their email on their Blackberries.

During the break, Stanton signed a few CDs by the merchandise table. I happened to be walking by after taking a piss and I found myself face to face with Stanton Moore, who I've always suspected was an alien since the first time I saw him play. I'm a few inches taller than Stanton and said, "Hamp's Hump. Time to break it out."

He laughed and gave me a look like, "Not tonight, pal."

I happened to see Galactic's setlist at the soundboard and I didn't see Hamp's Hump on the list. That's why I had to ask.

The House of Blues was almost full, but the floor was crowded for the first set. The G-men opened up the first set with a new tune called FEMA. From the moment they started, the sound at the HOB was high quality and they boys were shredding it up. FEMA is a song inspired by Hurricane Katrina and there are moments when the song takes on a dark and spooky vibe and at times it feels bittersweet. Rich Vogel on keys stepped up right away on FEMA and aside from Stanton, he might have played the best out of the rest of the band.

DJ Kwiki Mart joined the band and scratched away on his turn tables during Bongo Joe. He's from New Orleans and recently relocated to the LA area. After a heavy Bongo they quickly segued into Led Zeppelin's Kashmir which brought an enthusiastic cheer from the crowd as the energy level increased exponentially. Ben Ellman mimicked Robert Plant's lyrical wailings with his saxophone as Stanton Moore kept the hard-rocking driving pace to close the set. The first set was quick, tight, and intense.

During the setbreak, Nicky and I wandered outside while mostly everyone went outside to smoke cigarettes. The late arrivers were valet parking while we sat on the curb admiring one guy who looked like Jesus except he wore a purple bathrobe. One chick slowly got out of her BMW wearing sunglasses (at Midnight) while yapping on her cellphone and rubbing her burning nostrils. She wore black hooker boots and what appeared to be just an oversized white dress shirt as her outfit. I wondered if she had anything underneath as she stumbled over to the VIP entrance.

At setbreak I went back to the bar where one bartender had been hooking me up with triple SoCos. AlCantHang would have been proud. For $10, the guy poured me a glass (all the way to the rim) of SoCo with a little ice. I estimated that each drink was at least three shots possibly more. I had three of those and by the middle of the second set, I was properly intoxicated.

Spiderbite and Doo Rag were the highlights of the set until they boys kicked it into their highest uber-funk gear with Shibuya. The house lights came on and the crowd jumped up and down as the floorboards began to shake. The harder the band played, the rowdier the crowd got during the climax of Shibuya. Jeff Raines' busted out a few licks on guitar that would have made James Brown turn around and shout, "A fuckin' white boy played that?"

Little Miss Lover without the Houseman was interesting since I'm used to hearing him on vocals. That's one of the few Houseman tunes which they kept in rotation and played all instrumental without a guest singer.

They threw the crowd a curveball with a Quiet Please encore. I was expecting a Zeppelin or Meters cover to close the show but their slowed down and spaced up version was impressive nonetheless.

On the whole, Galactic has been consistently tight and solid for the last four shows that I've seen them play. Gets me excited to see the G-men in Las Vegas in a few days. They're playing New Orleans for New Year's Eve and I'm tempted to go down to the Big Easy and see them ring in 2007.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Zankou Baywatch and Malcom in the Middle Smokes Crack

It was still dark when I woke up the other morning. I had left my window open from the night before and the smacking sounds of the precipitation made me quickly read the weather report and check my flight status. Everything seemed to be on schedule but because of the rain, I decided not to go running on my last day in the city. Instead I read for about twenty minutes then wrote for the rest of the time. Because I skipped my morning run, I missed the dead bodies left over in Van Cortlandt Park after that gruesome double-murder suicide where a father shot himself in the head after he killed his wife and he put a bullet in the face of his four year old. That went down a couple a blocks away from my brother's apartment.

I was disappointed to find that my last banana suffered from serious bruising around 50% of the said fruit. I salvaged what I could and threw it in my Grape Nuts. I used to mix Grape Nuts with other cereals because gravel is hard to eat just by itself. Mixed with fruit helps but mixed with damaged fruit makes Grape Nuts blah. I ate about 63% of it and dumped the rest. I went downstairs and waited for my cab to pick me up and take me to the airport. My driver showed up four minutes late.

The traffic to JFK was light but the actually terminal was swamped. The security line was brutal and I had to stand in front of a guy wearing a Boston Red Sox cap who sighed and complained every fifteen seconds. That sucked. I wanted to punch him then I recalled what Buddha said about tolerance even with Sox fans.

The flight from JFK to Long Beach was delayed 15 minutes due to weather. I sat next to a weird looking chick with dark curly hair and thick Lisa Loeb glasses. She drank five cups of coffee and read a book about Heidegger. She didn't turn on her TV but occasionally glanced at what I watched. I freaked her out because after the first hour of Sportscenter, I watched four straight hours of the Vietnam War on the History Channel. The hour about the battle of Hue was insane.

Somewhere over North Dakota, curly haired girl put away her Heidegger book and broke out a Hebrew 101 workbook. She told me that she's learning Hebrew because her boyfriend is Israeli.

"You're reading a book by Heidegger. Don't you know he was a Nazi sympathizer?"

She shrugged her shoulders.

The suit in the aisle across from me read the NY Times, the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. Then he broke out a copy of Newsweek or the Economist before he opened up a book.

My flight arrived in Long Beach twenty minutes late and it took almost forty minutes from the time I deplaned until the luggage arrived. Long Beach is a small airport with four gates and I dunno what the delay was all about. I estimated the over/under on my luggage creeping in front of me would be 8 minutes. It took 11 and I realized that 50% of all domestic airline passengers have the same crappy black suitcase.

Luckily Nicky was already at the airport when I finally picked up my bags. She had some medicinal marijuana waiting for me on our ride to LA. It was mid-afternoon and most of the traffic was coming the other way on the 405.

We headed to Zankou Chicken to grab a bite. For me, it was dinner time. We went to the one on Sepulveda in West LA instead of the location down on Sunset in East Hollywood. The new one was less crowded and much cleaner. As we walked through the parking lot of Zankou Chicken, a convertible Mercedes whizzed by us. Nicky muttered, "West LA douchebags!"

We got in line and ordered the #1 to go... a whole chicken with two pieces of pita bread and two garlic sauces. We also got some hummus. Total cost $12.74. Standing in line behind us was former Baywatch actress Traci Bingham. I had been in California less than an hour and I was stoned to the gourd and bumped into Baywatch alumni. I wondered if David Hasslehoff tapped that ass?

I knew Traci Bingham was on the fringes of the business but couldn't recall her name or where I saw her last. That's when Nicky reminded me that she was the first black lifeguard on Baywatch. I scanned my memory and remembered her as hostess of the Lingerie Bowl (models in underwearing playing football during halftime of the Super Bowl. Man, sometime I fucking love Hollyweird) a few years ago and she appeared on a lame D-list celebrity poker show with Joe Speaker's buddy Morris Chestnut.

Anyway, I checked Traci Bingham's imdb profile. She says that she's a vegetarian, but why would she be at Zankou chicken? And what was she doing riding around with a milk and cookies looking West LA docuhebag driving around in a Nazi sled?

* * * * *

I saw The Departed at The Grove last night.

I've been a fan of Martin Scorsese ever since I first saw one of his movies. He's one of the reasons I wanted to be a filmmaker when I grow up. Films like Taxi Driver and Mean Streets captured gritty life in New York City in the 1970s which is was the era when I grew up. The city had a magical, yet dark vibe to it back in the crime ridden days when the city was flat broke and billions in debt. It was interesting to see Scorcese tackle two different subjects... the Irish mafia and Boston instead of his usual NYC goomba flicks.

The Departed moved swiftly for a 2.5 hour flick. I imagine that the director's cut would have been well over 3 hours. I told AlCantHang that The Departed would have been a magnificent HBO series spread out over a couple of seasons. That way you could expand several scenes into five-ten minutes instead of 45 second splices. At times, the dialogue was hearty and hysterical.

The Departed had a Goodfellas vibe, especially the scene when Leo DiCaprio fucks up the Italian mobsters from Providence in the corner bodega. He understands the thug and gangster life, but the Irish stuff seemed too broad. He should have consulted Ed Burns. He captured a different side of Boston that gets overlooked in the few films about that city.

The Departed is a flick that would have fizzled out if a different director was attached to it. I suspect that the high quality of actors in the flick were only there because it was a Scorsese film. That's the difference between a director/visionary making a film and a studio cranking out crap for cash.

And with any great Scorsese flick, the soundtrack was kick ass featuring some of my favorite bands like The Rolling Stones, The Allmans Brothers Band, Badfinger, and The Band covering Pink Floyd's Comfortably Numb with Van Morrison on vocals. The opening flashback scene with The Stones' Gimmie Shelter fading in and out set the tone of the film.

If you have never been to The Grove, there's a huge parking deck that is several stories high attached to it. You have to drive down a circular pathway in the middle of the deck to leave. On our way out after the movie, Nicky said, "Is that Frankie Muniz driving behind us in a Porsche?"

It was and when you're Malcolm in the Fuckin' Middle, you get to drive around the City of Angels in a pussy magnet like a Porsche. I wonder how much tail that little dipshit has turned down in the last few years?

"Should we follow him?" Nicky asked.

I fantasized with the idea of trailing Frankie to find out he's going down to the hood near 7th and Alvarado to buy a couple hundred bucks worth of crack before he picks up a couple of strung meth addicts from the Sherman Oaks to take back to his house in the hills for a lubricated night cap.

* * * * *

This morning I woke up early and wrote for almost two hours before I went out on a morning walk through Beverly Hills Adjacent aka the slums of Beverly Hills. I liked walking down alleys and trying to see which house would be the best to rob. I wanted to go running but I'm afraid that crazy LA drivers would run me down. The walk was nice during the cool morning (for LA standards) and I did not miss the 50 degree wet and rainy weather of NYC.

After my shower, I walked into Showcase's bedroom where I could hear incessant laughter. He was showing Nicky a cooking show where the host Sandra Dee got dressed up like celebrities in anticipation of Halloween. She did Liza Minelli then came out as someone I had no idea who it was. They couldn't stop laughing at the impersonation and I stood utterly clueless.

"Who's that?" I asked.

"You don't know Barbara Striessand?" snapped Nicky as looks of astonishment fell onto their faces.

"Look, I'm not gay and I'm not Jewish," I said as I walked out of the room.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Happy Modeski Day!

One of my favorite people in the universe is celebrating a birthday today. Yes, October 20th is Modeski Day. I hope it's a good one for you Modeski! If you don't know, he's hooked me up with tons of free Phish tockets and CDs when he worked for their record label in the late 1990s. Of course, my favorite Modeski memory was watching him break dance in front of Wetlands at 4am after we closed out the club after a God Street Wine show.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

"I'm soooo wasted." - Katie Holmes in The Ice Storm
I've been trying to cram two weeks of errands and work into five days. The result? Very little free time and a packed schedule. In the last few days, I cranked out two articles with deadlines. I'm also proud of myself for writing an advance article for a my column in Poker Player Newspaper that's due 15 days from now. It's ready to go. I have one more deadline due on Monday. I haven't started it yet and will work on it this weekend when I'm in Hollyweird.

It's only a few more hours until I see Galactic bring Nola style ass-shaking funky-soul to the House of Blues in West Hollywood, which will kick off the first series of wanderings that I'm doing over the next dew months.

For the most part, I've been running around to the bank, to get a haircut, do laundry, multiple trips to the post office, and of course getting all my shit together to hit the road for a few months.

I finally completed the second draft of Jack Tripper Stole My Dog over the weekend. I wrote the original manuscript in ten days during November of 2002 for NaNoWriMo when I worked on Wall Street. I'm amazed on how quickly I cranked out 55,000 words especially trying to work a 16-18 day. I didn't sleep much those days and used to edit my stuff on the subway. I'm a better storyteller today and JTSMD was a story worth retelling. It's yesterday's story in today's voice. The plot and characters are the same. I deleted about 20% of the book (trimmed the fat) and added 10% new material (added hot sauce). The manuscript is tighter and flows better than the original, which a handful of you had the rare opportunity to read. Over the next few months, I will figure out the best way to self-publish so you can eventually own your own copy of JTSMD.

Some time away will be good so I can pick up the book again in a few weeks and read it with a fresh perspective. By then a few friends would have read the updated version and I can take their corrections and notes before I tweak the draft and decide upon it's future.

I got a haircut on Wednesday morning. It was a so-so haircut. But the conversation was stimulating as always. Vinny the barber said he wanted the Yankees to trade A Rod to the Cubs and that the Mets are toast this year. Vinny loves to gamble and asked me about some random blackjack strategy as we also discussed my last trip to Atlantic City.

Vinny used to run marathons when I was a kid. In fact, he used to be my running coach when I was in the 8th grade. Back then I used to run 10K on the weekends in different parts of the city. And Vinny was my coach. He'd run the race much faster than me then circle back and run with me for the last mile or so. I actually won my age group during the Riverdale Ramble in 1986. Sweet Jesus, that was twenty years ago.

When I started highschool, my homeroom teacher happened to be the track coach. When he found out that I lived a few blocks from Van Cortlandt Park (where the Catholic high schools held their cross country races every Saturday in the fall), he pretty much made me join the team, especially when he found out that I used to run 10Ks. Cross country races for freshmen were only 1.6 miles but he had a tough time finding runners. I made the team without a tryout and even ran a few races with the upperclassmen. I remember breaking the 10 minute mark for the first time, especially on a tough 1.6 mile course like Van Cortlandt. I used to run the Central Park Reservoir in under ten minutes but that was flat and a a little shorter at 1.5 miles.

Anyway, Vinny the barber had not run the NYC marathon in over a decade before he made his return last year. He did it around 4 hours, but he's also pushing 60 years old. When I told him I had been running again, he thought that was great. He told me to focus more on length of time of my runs more so than the overall distance. He also told me that if you run for six hours every week, then you can eat whatever you want and not have to diet all the time. That's my goal... to instill a workout regimen so I can continue to enjoy my favorite foods. But finding the time to run while I'm on the road will be tough. Plus I'm worried that my bum knee won't be able to handle the long term pounding. If I ever sell a screenplay or get a fat advance for a book, I'm going to use the money to get my knee fixed (and the pinky on my right hand which frequently dislocates) for good.

The other day my iPod died. It was less than two years old. I originally bought a refurbished model for like $140. It held up great until the last few weeks when it started doing weird things and making weirder sounds. There were moments it would lock up. Every day it seemed that I was restoring the iPod back to its original settings and that stopped working. It eventually bit the dust the other night only a few days before I go on the road. An iPod is essential while traveling and finding myself with insomnia in random hotel rooms.

I sucked it up and bought my second iPod inside of two years. In the last few weeks, I had to buy a new phone and new iPod which ran me about $400-450 in total. I'm waiting for my laptop to die to make it a complete hat trick.

I headed over to the new Apple Store on Fifth Avenue. I heard it's a 24 hour place so I might have to stumble in there one late night with all the other freaks. The store had been getting a ton of hype since it's opening. And the store was jam packed with a small percentage of New Yorkers on their lunch hour while the rest of the store was populated by tourists. A British woman in front of me bought five Nanos and it took me less than two minutes to get my new video iPod. I had to stand on line for four minutes but if I didn't putz around looking at all the cool stuff, I could have been in and out of the Apple Store with a new iPod in less than seven minutes.

I walked about sixty city blocks in Manhattan on Wednesday. I started out at 72nd and Broadway and then headed East. I walked past the Dakota and cut through Central Park, puffing a joint in Strawberry Fields before I made my way down to Fifth Avenue and 59th Street. After a quick stop at the Apple Store I walked south on Fifth Avenue past Rockefeller Center and St. Patrick's Cathedral, and past the Library on 42nd Street and the Empire State Building. The temperatures were hitting close to 70 degrees and at 1pm the streets were congested with tourists snapping photographs in front of random landmarks and workers on their lunch break frantically chain smoking cigarettes or incessantly yapping on their cellphones.

I met my buddy Bruce for lunch near the Flat Iron District. As we walked towards Sixth Avenue, a bum pushing a shopping cart stopped right in front of us. Here was the short exchange that ensued:
Bum: Sorry to interrupt, but can you spare some money so I can buy some food?
Bruce: No and go fuck yourself. Have a nice day.
The bum walked away and Bruce continued what he was talking about before the bum interrupted him. It was totally random and happened quickly. We we're already a block away before I stopped Bruce and said, "Did you just tell that bum to fuck off?"

"Yeah Bro," he admitted. "But I told him to have a nice day too. Which is more than most New Yorkers will ever tell him."

Here's something completely random... I watched the Ice Storm with a young Katie Holmes. I forgot that Traffic's Light Up and Leave Me Alone plays in the background of the scene when Tobey Maguire's character swipes the prescription pharmies from Katie Holmes' mother's medicine cabinet. Eventually Katie Holmes passes out in his lap and he didn't even have the balls to cop a feel and "dry check her oil" like Daddy would have done.

By the way, I can't tell if this is a good thing or bad thing. The press and exposure is a good thing, but becoming a target of the Federalies could be a bad thing. Check out a Business Week article written by Catherine Holahan called Online Gambling Goes Underground. She interviewed me a couple of times last week for her piece where I get a mentioning in the opening and in the last paragraph. Ah, I always wanted to get quoted in Business Week but I never thought it would be as a result from the popularity of my poker blog.

That's it for now. The open road awaits me.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

5 Random Jogging Pics

I took these photos last week. All of these spots appear at some point along my jogging route.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Cold Jog

Jogging three miles in 50 degree weather is good. Coming home to find out that the building shut off hot water is bad. I missed the cut off time by ten minutes. In the past when they say they are shutting off water at 8:30am, they really mean 9am. I guess I was wrong this time.

I originally intended on running during lunch time but I discovered that UPS is going to be trying to redeliver a package for me today that requires my signature. Of course, they'll probably not come until 6pm and I'll be waiting here all day. At least the hot water comes back on in a few hours. With my luck, they'll deliver the package when I'm in the shower.

The weather was actually warm this morning. Over the past few days, the temperatures dipped to the low 40s when I start my morning workout. The other day it was 42 degrees and I ran a decent time mainly because I was freezing so I pushed myself a little harder. It's probably about 5 degrees colder than I'd like it, but since I don't have too many days left before I hit the road, I have to suck it up and work out.

I skipped a run on Saturday morning because my knee bothered me and I used the break to catch up on Truckin'. That ended up being a wise decision because on Sunday my legs felt fresh and I came close to running 5 miles. I had not run that much since high school when I was on the track team.

Because I slept an extra half hour on Saturday and skipped a morning workout, I found myself with a little extra energy which I used to crank out a ton of work. I did work on five different blogs, published the new issue of Truckin', and worked on a hellacious assignment that I figured would take about ten hours of grunt work to do the research and write the thing. I got more than half of that done on Saturday and by the time I went to a birthday dinner for my brother, I had a sense of accomplishment for cranking out almost a week of work in one day.

I have a few more days before I hit the road. All of the writing for the second draft of Jack Tripper is done. Right now, all I'm doing is reading and editing and re-reading and re-editing. It's time consuming and not as fun as writing, but it needs to get done. I have two freelance assignments (one has a deadline in less than 24 hours) to write over the next two days which will keep me busy. In the meantime, I have to get prepped to hit the road which includes trips to the bank and a batch of laundry.

Last night, Derek and I played in a tournament and we both made the final table. I came from behind and took 3rd place while Derek finished up 5th.

I've been listening to Beck's Information, The Beatles Abbey Road, The Black Keys Magic Potion, and My Morning Jacket's Okonokos straight through while I wrote this past weekend.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Happy Birthday Derek!

Today is my brother's birthday. Hope it's a good day, Derek!

Derek and Liz Lieu at the 2006 WSOP

Sunday Morning Required Reading and Link Dump: Tootie's Bong

Here are some random gems that I came across this past week or were sent to me by friends.
CBGB's is closed for good. (Breitbart) I've done my fare share of partying at that scum infested shithole over the last decade and a half. A few friends of mine had bands that played there over the years.

I recall one night when I walked in front of CBGB's on my way to Bowery Ballroom to see either Charlie Hunter or Robert Randolph play. I was with my friend Molly and a scrawny teenaged suburban kid with a bunch of tattoos and piercings stood in front smoking a cigarette. As we walked by he whispered, "Fuck you yuppie!"

I fired back, "I'd rather be a yuppie than a poseur like you."

A real punk rocker would have bashed me in the head with a Mickey's bottle first before he said anything. I should have head-butted him and stolen his shoes. Instead, Molly and I walked away laughing at the loser.

* * * * *

Rich People Live in the Upper East Side. (Gawker) No shit, really? I think the jackoffs at Gawker just posted that to kiss up to a bunch of blue blood inbred society freaks.

Wow, two Rachel Ray links in consecutive weeks... Rachel Ray My Dinner Hooker. (Salon) She cooked a pound of bacon and crunchy French Toast the other day and I nearly jizzed in my pants.

I wrote about The Killers Daily Booze Schedule over at Las Vegas Blog, how The Killers have some random items on their backstage rider. (Smoking Gun) They specifically request different booze depending on the day of the week, like Maker's Mark & Absolut Vodka on Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays and request Jack Daniels and Gin on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, and on Sundays they slow down and drink Jameson and tequila.

Online Gambling Ban Won't Work. (MSNBC) I sorta agree but I wished the folks who dropped me or made me take a pay cut saw that article!

There's a prostitution boom in New Orleans. (Times-Picayune) Go figure.

This is for BG and all you Rachel Bilson fans out there... A Rachel Bilson Picture Moment. (Hollywood Tuna)

Japanese man's blog makes his demon-wife a media-star and instant celebrity. (AZ Central) Six years ago he started a blog where he vented about some of the crazy things his wife did. Now, she's..."the star of a book, a television drama, a comic-book serialization, a videogame and, coming soon, a movie."

The Tao of Pauly's Dipshit of the Week goes to a New Mexico woman who tired to smuggle in heroin (in a hypodermic needle) in a Taco Bell burrito into prison. (Smoking Gun) In unrelated news,Taco Bell just announced their newest product... China White Chalupa Surprise.

In Sports News, the NY Knicks won their pre-season opener in Isaiah Thomas' debut as head coach. (NY Times) Guess what? They still suck. It's gonna be a long season.

A-Rod's private plane skidded off a runway in California. (NY Daily News) I heard he shit his pants.

And Malawi is trying to block Madonna's adoption of a baby boy. (Yahoo) And the baby's real father was powerless to stop the Material Girl from taking away his son. (Daily Mail)
In case you didn't know, Google bought You Tube (Reuters) earlier this week for $1.65 million in Google stock. Lucky fuckers. Here are four random You Tube videos of the week.
This makes my Top 10 all time... Tootie's Bong. From a classic episode of Facts of Life when Tootie and Natalie buy bongs for Mrs. Garrett. My favorite line... "We're a three bong family."

In case you missed Trey Anastasio Band perform Dragonfly on the Late Show with David Letterman, now you can see it thanks to You Tube.

The Joker showed me this video a few weeks ago... What if George Bush Were a Jedi?

BTreotch sent me a video of STS9 and Joseph the Broseph that he made.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Truckin - October 2006, Vol. 6, Issue 10

I've made two deadlines in a row! That's remarkable considering how busy I've been. This epic October issue of Truckin' features five returning authors including C. Anderson Guthrie with his first story for 2006. The always talented Joe Speaker shares a touching tale as Doog weaves Part II of his Roots series. Sean A. Donahue is also back and I wrote up a few random subway stories that I encountered during my first few weeks back in the big city.
Truckin' - October 2006, Vol. 6, Issue 10

1. October Subway Stories by Paul McGuire
A hunched-over bum slowly navigated his way through the crowded car and sat down in an empty seat next to me. He carried a big black bulky garbage bag which happened to be the standard issue for every homeless person in the city along with the same pair of sneakers four sizes too big and a ratty grey winter coat... More

2. Roots - Part II by Doog
To soothe the ache deep in his soul, Leo G took solace in the welcoming arms of lovely young nubile chickadees, sometimes several sets of arms at the same time. After all, when you’ve got dashing good looks, a mercury-silver tongue, and the willingness to use the above in a less-than-moral manner, why not?... More

3. Gummy by C. Anderson Guthrie
This woman wasn't the kind of woman you bring home to momma, oh no -- she was the kind of woman that takes out her teeth before giving an alleyway blowjob. You know, the considerate type... More

4. Total Recall by Joe Speaker
I was grilling another young co-ed, flirtatious pressure amidst the stench of spilled beer and rampaging testosterone. The scene was cliched, she said, and she marked me down as a typical frat boy, interested only in getting drunk and getting naked... More

5. Until I Am No Longer Needed by Sean A. Donahue
My back felt the brunt of the pain and as the dust settled I examined my predicament. I was ten feet down in a hole of an ancient volcano with my right arm broken and my left leg shattered... More

If you like these stories, then add Truckin' to your blogroll and tell your friends about your favorite stories. It takes just a few seconds to pass along the URL and we certainly appreciate your support. Feel free to shoot me an e-mail if you know anyone who is interested in being added to the mailing list. And of course, thanks to all the writers for sharing their work this month.
Current Writing Music...
1. Beck
2. The Black Keys
3. Phish
4. Thelonius Monk
5. Brian Jonestown Massacre

Friday, October 13, 2006

Four Conversations About Nothing

Inside of an hour, I had four people in four different cities in three different time zones call me about random things while I played online poker and listened to a Tea Leaf Green bootleg. One called while I was in the middle of a conversation while the other two called within minutes of me ending the previous call.

11:04pm... Senor called. I needed him to sign off on a trade that I had arranged for our fantasy team.

"And they want Jamal Lewis for Matt Leinart?" Senor said.

"Yeah," I said. "I don't want to do that. We should be getting something more than a rookie QB."

"Then reject the trade. What did Derek say? I'll do what he says."

"He didn't like it either," I said when I saw that I had another call. It was the Rooster and it was 11:22pm.

"OK, then reject that trade offer and call me tomorrow to let me know if the commissioner approved the trade Brett Favre. Oh and say hello to Nicky for me."

* * * * *

"Yo Pauly. I'm here in a bar with a fan of yours," the Rooster said as I could barely hear him as the sounds of a packed bar echoed in the background. "She's a Jersey girl and she reads your blog."

"Jesus. You called me for this nonsense. Does she have big tits?"

"She's from Jersey."

"OK, but how's her rack?"

"Her name is Carrie."

"Carrie, what does she do?"

"You should she her tits. Their massive. Here she is...."

I heard the transfer of the phone and the Rooster mumbling something.

"Is this Pauly? Tao of Pauly? Oh my God. I love what you are doing over there," she squealed.

"For fuck's sake I hope he's paying you to say that. That Rooster. He's such a playa."

"Don't I know it."

"I think he's a pimp."

"I would agree," she said before she laughed and handed the phone back to the Rooster.

"Dude what's the deal with those suck up city girls," ranted the Rooster, "you know those chicks who go away to Europe and Italy and come back from vacation all snobbish and think they are all cultured and stuff and put down everything American? What's up with that shit?"

"Their definition of culture is banging a couple of Italian guys and letting a dirty Greek guy fuck her in the ass."

"Yeah those Europeans will fuck anything. Yo, my friend Carrie she really reads your blog. She was talking about how that girl broke up with you on your birthday so she could see the pain on your face."

"Er.... thanks for that. I guess. And she broke up with me so that at least once a year, I'd be reminded that many years ago, she broke my heart. That French cuntwhoresnailsnortingtrash."

"Man, that's fucked up. Man chicks are fucking crazy sometimes. It's like when the girl calls you up crying and she says that she has razor blades in her arms. And that she's going to kill herself because of what you said. I dunno man, Pauly Drama you've dated some fucked up women bro."

"New York's the largest insane asylum on the planet," I said. "Hey man, I gotta piss. Talk to you later."

"Definitely. Make sure you say hi to Nicky for me."

* * * * *

Three minutes later while in the middle of a bong hit, my cell rang at 11:31pm.

"You never would guess who were the last two people to call me," I said.

"Um... The Rooster and um... Daddy?" Nicky guessed.

"Half right. Rooster and Senor."

"Awww. How is Senor?"

"He's great but the Rooster made a fan call me. Some Jersey girl with big tits."

"He gets a lot of ass that Rooster?"

"Of course, he's the Rooster. He's got the mojo of Elvis with debonair looks of Ricardo Montalban to back up his suaveness."

"So what happened with that interview with Business Week?"

"They called me to get a quote about the online-gambling legislation."

"And what did you say?"

"I said that Bill Frist was a cat fucker and that I'll be playing on Poker Stars this weekend."

* * * * *

At 12:11am, ninety seconds after my talk with Nicky ended, my cell rang. Again.

"Dude this is the most bizarre thing I'm about to tell you," the Joker said. "I just saw Thomas Dolby perform She Blinded Me With Science at a grand opening gala at a shopping center with an open bar. I'm the drunkest I've ever been and I saw Dolby for free man! It's a who's who of Boulder here. I'm wearing a suit. I've had six Crown and cokes and two beers. And there's some hippie chick in a Subaru in front of me and she's not going on a green light because she's playing with her dog. Only in Boulder."

"Six Crowns? Two beers? Keep up the good work, man!" I added.

"Oh my friend Amy put us down for the String Cheese guest list."

"We're Cheese VIPs?"

"Yes. Yes we are. We're Cheese VIPs."

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Last 5 Books I Saw People Reading on the Subway...

1. Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
2. The Holy Bible
3. Manchild in the Promised Land by Claude Brown
4. Pursuit of Happiness by David G. Myers
5. I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman by Nora Ephron

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Cory Lidle Dies in Plane Crash

Velvet Sea was on the scene moments after it happen and has some pics of the building fire up on his blog. Take a peek.

Photo stolen from CBS


4:35pm... I was watching WCBS channel 2 in NYC and they said that the crash was not an act of terrorism. They did mention that the plane, a Cirrus 20 four seater, was registered and owned by NY Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle. No word on whether he was on the plane. It left Tetoboro Airport in NJ at 2:30pm and crashed into The Belaire at 524 E. 72nd Street on the corner of York Avenue. At least two people are dead and no word on whether one was Lidle. He does have a pilot's license.

4:40pm... I'm getting weird flashbacks of 9.11 and hearing about Yankees catcher Thurman Munson dying in a plane crash in the summer of 1979. I was six at the time.

4:53pm... There's a rumor that at least one member of the Yankees was on board, but no word on who yet. They increased the death toll to 4.

4:55pm... According to ESPN.com... Cory Lidle died in the plane crash. He planned on flying home. He was married and had a son. He was a lifetime 82-72 career pitcher. He made his debut with the Mets in 1997. He has played for seven different teams and was traded to the Yankees this season.

Cory Lidle

5:00pm... I'm watching Mike and the Mad Dog on YES and they said MLB should cancel tonight's Mets playoff game. Mad Dog felt bad for giving Lidle a tough time all year for his spotty pitching.

5:02pm... I checked Thurman Munson's stats. He was 32 when he died. Cory Lidle was my age.
If You Owe Me Money, It's Time to Pay Up

It's been a tough day for me and it's not even 1:30pm.

In the last two hours, I've been dropped by two freelance poker clients who gave me a pink slip without any warning. And I had to take a pay cut for one of the poker magazines I write for. My rate was decreased by 25%.

And last week, I was flagged by Party Poker while they investigate my affiliate account for fraud.

Yep, my account was frozen and they are holding my funds during the investigation. Flagged for fraud, dumped by two clients, and now the pay cut. At least I lost 16 pounds in the past week. That was my only highlight.

After the recent anti-online gambling legislation that was passed last week, the online poker sites began cutting back on advertising in the publications that I write for. And like grains of sand, my career is slipping through my fingers.

I'm just a writer trying to earn a living and my legitimate means of support have been affected. I don't expect my government to help me out. They've never treated artists with respect and that will never change. They actually fucked me here. It was hard enough having to swallow the bitter pill knowing that part of my supplemented income (ad sales and poker site affiliate revenue) would disappear due to the legislation. But I thought that I had my freelance writing career to fall back on. Now the future doesn't look too good.

This puts more pressure on me. It's not enough that I'm on edge trying to finish the book, but now I feel even more pressure to make sure it sells. Otheriwse the 1.5 months I took off to write the book was a wasted attempt. The book has to be good and sellable.

As is, I planned on taking the rest of the year off to write and travel. Now it looks like I'll have to go back to work. That is... if I can find other work. Time to post some resumes.

I told myself to write about my frustration and intense anger for twenty minutes, then I would get back to work. Bitching and maoning is not going to change things. I have about a week left to finish Jack Tripper Stole My Dog and I'm burning daylight.

The pressure is on... the only way I'm going to get out of this... is to write my way out.
Pieces of Pauly: Diet Edition

Back by popular demand! This is dedicated to Modeski.

What did I eat over the last 48 hours? I ate two bowls of Grape Nuts cereal with two bananas, one apple, a Caesar salad, a chicken parm hero, and a six inch tuna sandwhich on wheat from Subway. Although I had some booze at the Trey show, I've been only drinking bottled or distilled water.

The scary thing is that I used to eat all of that inside of a 12 hour period. Now, I'm spreading it out over two days. And yes, I'm starving but I've lost over 16 pounds since I started exercising and dieting.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Monday Trey at Webster Hall and a Review of Bar 17

A few friends told me that the Sunday night's Trey show to open his new tour was a sizzler. I tried to contain my enthusiasm. Over the years I've learned to go into shows with an open mind and not to expect anything special because that way I don't leave disappointed and feel like my expectations were not met.

I still say that most of Trey's solo gigs fall somewhere in between him fronting a Phish cover band and publicly masturbating on stage for three hours. And you know how loyal Phisheads are... they'll happily let Trey jizz in their mouths for $42.50 a pop.

I was a little worried about the show because I listened to Trey's new album Bar 17 a couple of times and I didn't like it. I have to say that every time Trey releases an album... I don't like it right away and I eventually warm up to it. At this point in his solo career it's evident to me that my favorite variation of the Trey Band was one of the firsts when he released his self-titled album. All his releases since then wither in comparison, particularly Bar 17.

Bar 17 is an album that features an interesting mix of dozens of musicians including Mike Gordon, Jon Fishman, and John Medeski. Everyone knows that Trey is a talented guitar player and unheralded composer. Individually some of the songs he put together are remarkable especially when he mixes an orchestra with his acoustic guitar. But when you look at the album as a whole... it's schizophrenic. Bar 17 lacked cohesion and a central theme.

At least on Shine, Trey's album from last summer, we all understood the source of inspiration, energy, and emotions. Trey was crushed after Phish broke up and he hid in his studio aka The Barn and wrote a ton of music while he sobered up and watched his marriage evaporate and he allowed the last lingering memories of Phish to be blown away by the cool Vermont air.

While listening to Bar 17, I felt very lost and I think Trey is also confused. SuperDee said in best in her review of Bar 17 over at Jambase:
"More than anything else, this album confuses me. Does Trey want to be a composer of modern symphonies or musical theater? (This could be an intriguing direction.) Or perhaps he'd like to be a pop darling? (Sorry, my love, this doesn't seem likely.) Does he want to sing lullabies or does he want to be the bad-ass guitar rocker for which we are all yearning? With Bar 17, I just don't know."
On Bar 17 it seems like Trey is wearing too many hats. Perhaps he should have released three or four different albums with each focusing on a specific genre such as symphonies, popish tunes like Lou Reed or go hard-core rocking guitar via the Santana Highway.

Despite the clustered Bar 17, there are some good tracks such as a thunderous Mud City and a mellow Good-bye Head which Trey wrote with his daughter. She obviously didn't arrange the music that Phishkids twirl around and take ecstasy to, but she did write the lyrics and even got a liner credit in the album notes. Of course the biggest disappointment on Bar 17 was Dragonfly which sounded like a weak attempt at a Luna-esque or Velvet Underground Valium-induced version compared to what we saw and heard at the Super Jam. The Bonnaroo version of Dragonfly was 100% frenetic energy and that song nearly busted the roof off the tent we were in.

Trey knows his shit but this thick hearty soup of songs doesn't taste as good as his previous meals. OK, that was my quick review of Bar 17.

* * * * *

I met Bruce in front of Webster Hall an hour before Trey took the stage. Bruce was mingling with a few older Deadheads out front while I tried to recall the last band I saw at Webster Hall. In the 1990s I went there when it was mainly used as a dance club. In the last few years I've caught a few indie bands but no one as big as Trey and I never caught a band of the Phishy genre there.

After you go up 1.5 flight of stairs and pass no less than two bars on your way upstairs, you walk into a nice space much smaller than Irving Plaza. There's a balcony surrounding the stage which was for VIPs only. Bruce and I headed over to the far left of the stage where there was a raised section. We ended up hanging out there most of the show after one of the guys next to us said, "I was here last night in the same spot and the sound was awesome. You missed a great show. Trey's best in years."

Trey's not just a musician, he's a performer and salesman. He knows what the crowd wants. I'd say a good percentage of the fans at his solo shows are there out of respect for his talents. Some are there for his new stuff while others are there because they simply miss Phish and need any kind of fix. For hard core junkies, Trey Band is like methadone. And then there's 5-10% of the audience who's there because deep in their hearts they have this insane notion that Phish will get back together that night. We've been to enough Phish shows to know that the main reason we go to multiple shows is because you never know what might happen. So a crop of Phisheads religiously attend Trey shows on the off chance that Mike, Page, and Fish walk out on stage. They'd hate to skip the night that the band gets back together while they sit at home pulling bongs on their couch while they get a text from their friends at the show saying, "Holy fuck. Phish is playing Tweezer!"

10.9.06 Trey Anastasio Band, Webster Hall, New York, NY

Set I: 46 Days, If You're Walking, Spin, Heavy Things, What's Done, Mr. Completely, Bar 17*, Good-bye Head*, My Friend My Friend > Guyute **

Set II: Push On 'Til The Day, Sand, The Way I Feel, Mud City, Let Me Lie, First Tube

Encore: Divided Sky**, Dragonfly

* with orchestra
** Trey on acoustic guitar with orchestra
Trey opened up with a lukewarm 46 Days and threw all the Phisheads a bone with an average version. I watched the new drummer Jeff Sipe which wasn't hard because we were only about 10 people back from the front of the stage, just off to the left of Ray's keyboards.

"Dude, where's the cow bell bro?" Bruce asked.

I guess he missed Fishman's unique random usage of the distinct cowbell on 46 Days. Trey did some weird semi-gay "I'm gonna gaze into Tony Hall's eyes and try to have a sick bass-guitar duel." It was a little strange to see Trey smiling close next to another man but it looked like he was having fun. And the more fun that Trey has... the better he plays and the more fun we get to have.

They played a new track If You're Walking for what seemed like twenty minutes. I'm sure it was shorter and I used the time to smoke up and watch Sipe some more. The guy is good. Bruce and I saw him play drums with Phil Lesh and Friends at the Beacon Theatre almost a year earlier. My initial impression was that he was solid and consistent. He wouldn't make too many mistakes but I wondered how his improvisational skills would be. The problem with Trey's drummers in his solo projects were that they lacked one of Fishman's strengths... to be able to push a jam in specific direction when Trey is so far gone and out there. I've often compared Phish to a fire engine weaving 100 mph down a crowded street. Trey is out front speeding with his foot on the gas while Fishman is the dude in the back steering the rest of the truck and making sure they don't crash into anything. Although Skeeto Valdez had his moments and could play kick ass rock-n-roll bong rattling drums... he couldn't push or pull Trey out of those jams with the same consistency and confidence as Fishman did every night for over two decades. Shit, that's part of the reason the band was named after him.

I'm a fan of Spin. If you've ever been caught up in depressive funk agitated by drug use, then you can empathize with Trey's lyrics and his message about losing your shit. His version was average but since he doesn't play it too often, I was happy to get that special treat.

Trey threw the Phisheads another bone when he busted out Heavy Things which got the crowd even more excited. It was not as long as the fluffy Phishy versions but Christina and Jen on the vocals were delicious sounding especially the "Ooh ooh waaaaaa" parts along with Ray's magnificent keyboard playing.

Trey had been following a formula... play a old TAB tune or Phish song then play something new. That way he knew that the crowd wouldn't be restless for more than six or seven minutes at a time. What's Done is one of those songs that sounded better live in concert. I'd say that about all of Trey's tunes on Bar 17... they sounded better live which is not to say they were spectacular. I'm still getting used to them and it seems like the band is starting to mesh with the new material.

Mr. Completely was all Trey as he opened up his guts and unleashed hard-rocking guitar riffs as the entire room exploded with chaotic jubilation and the floor bounced up few inches as everyone in the crowd jumped up and down and danced their asses off. Bruce, who's a drummer, often relays cryptic musician speak to me during concerts. I often have no idea what he was talking about when he said, "Bro, Sipe is busting out the extra turbo rolls and fills on Mr. Completely."

Trey brought out an orchestra of six or so classical musicians to play a few songs including the title track off his new album Bar 17. They sat in the back of the stage behind a huge plexiglass sound guard. They looked like they sat in the penalty box at a hockey game. Anyway, at some point Bruce turned to me and said, "Those orchestra guys get to sit in and play for two minutes and now they're sitting there bored as shit waiting for Trey to finish up his ten minutes of noodling before they finish up the song."

Yeah, the orchestra added to the mix seemed awkward like a Saturday Night Live sketch that's funny the first five seconds and then for the next three minutes it's utter torture. The orchestra with Trey playing electric guitar is bad. But Trey playing acoustic guitar with the orchestra is good.

I'm indifferent about Good-bye Head. I've seen good versions and blah versions. I smoked up during Good-bye Head and I watched the group of high school aged Phishy chicks in front of us who were on some very good drugs. They kept dancing the entire set and all I kept thinking was although I get older, Phishy chicks stay the same age.

Bruce called Guyute but I could have swore I heard him tease My Friend My Friend to start before he busted in Guyute with the orchestra. Trey was onstage by himself with an acoustic guitar and just the orchestra. Trey ended his ninety minute first set with Guyute and took a half hour setbreak where I tried to get the score of the Denver-Baltimore game. It was tied 3-3 at the half and I had Denver.

Trey opened up the second set with an early TAB tune Push On 'Til The Day. I dig the song because Trey references to doing lines of blow in a Tokyo hotel room during Phish's trip to Japan in 2000.

With the crowd in high gear they didn't waste anytime before Trey slipped into Sand. Originally a TAB tune, it often gets mislabeled as a Phish song, although it appears on a Phish album Farmhouse and has been made insanely popular by Phish's sick versions. The lights went down as the song drfited into heavy funk riffs and Trey closed his eyes and imagined that he was playing with Phish again... kind of when you are having sex with someone and you are thinking about someone else... that's what I think is running through Trey's mind when he covers Phish tunes with his solo band.

The second half of Sand featured intense jamming between Tony Hall and Trey. But as I stated earlier, they repeated the same jam for over three minutes as Sipe held pace. With Fish at the helm, they would have evolved the jam or Fish would have pushed them in a different direction as the snaked their way into a better place to segue into a different tune.

I've see a few amazing versions of The Way I Feel and since Trey doesn't play it as frequently as other songs, I was happy to hear it. They didn't let up in the set and played one of my favorite cuts off of Bar 17 called Mud City. I caught a version of Mud City with Mike Gordon and the Duo at Bonnaroo and have been hooked every since.

Let Me Lie is one of those Trey lullabies. I hope he wrote that for one of his kids instead of trying to bed 19 year old Phishy chicks as Trey exposed his sensible side swooning the audience. I could sense the wetness in the crotches of all the Phishy chicks in the crowd. The background vocals with Christina and Jen add a nice harmony to Let me Lie and I wondered if Trey ever put his penis inside of Christina.

Trey closed the set with First Tube which started off choppy and bland but they boys picked up the slack and the crowd jumped around as the floor shook while the band built up the intense jam. It wasn't a clean version and nowhere near from perfect, but the packed audience loved every minute of it.

Trey brought the orchestra out for a version of Divided Sky. He played it on Sunday and dedicated it to his mother but decided to play it again. "Tonight, I'm dedicating this to you guys for making me feel so good."

It was a solid version and sounded great with the orchestra. It made me miss Phish though. I kept thinking about the encore at the 12.29.98 show when Phish played Divided Sky at Madison Square Garden to end their second of four shows. Talk about an epic run that happened almost 8 years ago.

Trey didn't pussy out with a lame version of Dragonfly. Instead it was a funkified rocking version like he played with GRAB this past summer. The lyrics are lame but the progressive jamming is intense and Trey shines on.

I've seen Trey play a solo show around 50 times and Webster Hall was a better than average show. I'm still ambivalent about the new stuff off of Bar 17 but Trey is doing the right thing and mixing it in with old material and classic Phish songs, that way everyone gets something that they want at his shows.

I don't care if Phish ever gets back together and I actually hope they don't. But Trey needs to stick with the same lineup for a few years and build a band around him instead of having revolving musicians come in and out. It seems like they have to relearn all the songs everythime a new member is introduced and that kills precious studio time with them getting used to playing with each other.

I'd sure like to see Trey in Boulder, Co on the 23rd but I'll be in LA and eventually making my way to Las Vegas... that's where I'll see Trey next.
Trey Anastasio Band Webster Hall Monday Setlist

Set One: 46 Days, If You're Walking, Spin, Heavy Things, What's Done, Mr. Completely, Bar 17*, Goodbye Head*, Guyute **

Set Two: Push On 'Til The Day, Sand, The Way I Feel, Mud City, Let Me Lie, First Tube

Encore: Divided Sky**, Dragonfly

* with orchestra
** Trey on acoustic guitar with orchestra

Stay tuned for a review.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Fat Music

"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.
Trey Sunday Night Wester Hall Setlist

10.8.06 Webster Hall, New York, NY

Set I: Drifting, Sleep Again, Wherever You Find It, Money Love and Change, Tuesday, Sweet Dreams Melinda, A Case Of Ice And Snow, Alive Again, Skip The Goodbyes, Love is Freedom, Goodbye Head, The Divided Sky

Set II: Host Across The Potomac, Dark And Down, Gotta Jibboo, Plasma, Night Speaks To A Woman, Shine, Shadow, Bar 17, Come As Melody

Encore: Cincinnati

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Sunday Morning Required Reading and Link Dump

Here are some interesting things that I stumbled across or friends email to me over the past week.
Mui posted this gem... Victoria Beckham and Katie Holmes Glam It Up (A Socialite's Life). Yes, it's true. I mentioned last week how Katie is slated to play Posh Spice in a feature film. These days Katie and Posh look like they are BFF!

Michalski sent me this article Blogger book craze could fizzle from overkill (Yahoo News) which covers bloggers who got book deals based on their blog and how the majority are not selling. That's a not shocker. There's a reason for the sluggish sales... blogging is not writing. A lot of folks who have blogs and post stuff all of a sudden think they are writers especially the trend-happy publishing houses who gave them fat advances.

Buck O'Neil the legendary baseball player in the Negro Leagues passed away (NY Times) this week. He hit .350 in 1946 after coming back from serving in the Navy during WII.

The Oil Conspiracy... Is the Bush administration manipulating oil prices to win elections? (Slate) is a must read.

Security barriers of New York Are Removed (NY Times) discusses how all of those gaudy concrete barriers placed in front of landmarks and buildings are going to be taken away... almost five years after 9.11. Even if a terrorist drove a truck packed with explosives into the lobby of a building, the barriers would not prevent the attack. Besides, it seems New Yorks have been using the barriers for ashtrays during smoke breaks.

Outspoken Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya was whacked
(Reuters) the other day. She had been openly critical of the Russian government especially Putin's stance on Chechnya. According to her editor, she was working on a story on torture and abductions in Chechnya when she was slain. When I read stories about this I'm relieved that things are still kosher in America... I can say what I want on my blog without worrying about someone hiring a contract killer to snuff me out. This also demonstrates how dangerous journalist jobs are in most of the world where free speech is an ideal and not a reality. Here are some other related links: Slain Reporter Was Writing Torture Story (My Way) and Death of a Woman Who Shamed Moscow (UK Times).

Elephants are on a rampage attacking villages!
(NY Times)

No More Excuses for Torre (NY Daily News) is an article written by Mike Lupica here he takes the NY Yankees manager behind the shed and let's him have it. Rumor has it that Sweet Lou Pinella is on deck to take control of the Yankees. He's no Isiah Thomas... but who is?

In Defense of Rachel Ray... Why food snobs should quit picking on her (Slate) is a great read especially for someone like me who is a closet Rachel Ray fan. The reason the food snobs and chefs don't like her is exactly why I love watching her show 30 Minute Meals. I can actually make the dishes she's talking about versus the elegant high end meals that friends of mine who went to the C.I.A. have a tough tine preparing. Here's a snippet:
"Unlike most celebrated chefs, Ray seems to have spent more time in supermarkets than cooking in restaurant kitchens. She started out working the candy counter at Macy's Marketplace in New York and then managed the fresh foods department there; later she became a manager and buyer for Manhattan grocer Agata & Valentina. That's probably why she's so good at adapting gastronomy for the masses: She knows how real people shop and eat."
In TV news... I'm Aaron Sorkin and You're Not... The knowing charms of Studio 60 (Slate) discusses one of my new favorite shows. By the way, the third episode "Focus Group" was not as strong as the first two but I still watched it anyway. Let's be honest, I'd give my left nut to be a staff writer on a Sorkin show.

If you don't read my poker blog, then you should check out Prison Tips for Online Poker Players (Tao of Poker) which was a not-so-serious reaction to the recent Internet Prohibition and Gambling Act.

And here are a couple of You Tube videos you should kill some time with:
The Joker posted an amazing video of the Aspen foliage featuring pictures taken by himself and Edyn which includes a tune from Jeff Tweedy.

Ah, this is a classic! Check out the video below of a backstage clip from the Phish documentary Bittersweet Motel when Trey sings a song he made up on the spot called "Page's New Shirt."

This is one of my all time favorites... The Grateful Dead appear on Playboy After Dark in 1970 when they performed a few songs in Hugh Hefner's Chicago penthouse. The roadies dosed everyone at that party. Even Hef was tripping on liquid sunshine that night. Good to see a young Jerry with black hair and a funky poncho.
That's it for this week.
5 Random NYC Photos

I took these pics over the last few weeks.

Upper West Side bodega

In traffic on the West Side Highway

125th Street

Senor & Jodd

Sign in the Riverdale Diner