Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Sketches of a Lazy Tuesday

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

I woke up at 5:30am and started writing in Nicky's dining room as a couple of cats lurked in the alley. I listened to Mile Davis' Sketches of Spain, a collaboration with Gil Evans which had been buried deep in m iPod. I picked up a used copy of his autobiography simply called Miles for under $3 online. It cost more to ship it to me. My intentions were to read as much of it as I could before I lost all faith in one of the artists I've admired for the better part of a decade. After all, he was an egotistical junkie wife beater. His biography is a big book and I hoped that it would hold my attention for the duration of my Australian journey. The problem is that it's a big and heavy book for a soft cover which I have to lug around with me. If it sucks, I'll ditch it and buy a new one to read down under.

That's what I did with A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers. I ditched it in Australia. I admired Eggers fiction (and prefer his short stories at McSweeny's more so than his lengthy non-fiction narratives). I struggled with A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and got about 75% through it when I stopped reading it. When I stayed in a hostel in Sydney with Brandon Schaefer last January, I shared a room with a Kiwi who liked to read. I handed him the book before I left. I always wondered if he finished it.

Eventually Showcase got up to walk dogs and we chatted about his audition for a national beer ad the day before. He went with a scruffy frat boy look instead of his usual shaven self. He hoped that the extra facial hair would land him the spot.

When Nicky eventually woke up, I made her drive me to John O'Groats, home of the best damn French Toast in all of Los Angeles. It's always crowded but worth the wait. O'Groat is on Pico Blvd. a couple of blocks away from the Fox lot, which means random industry types are sitting at adjacent tables spewing forth bullshit about their latest project that got shelved, ankled, or green lit.

I always order the same thing... three slices of heavenly French Toast with a side of four strips of thick cut bacon and a plate of home fries with an iced tea. The French Toast melts in your mouth and the bacon is crispy... as it should be.

O'Groat's bacon

After breakfast (which we finished around noon), Nicky and went back to the apartment to write. She had an article due in a couple of days for a magazine client, while I had to work on my project with the Swedes. I edited two articles which I wrote last week. I forced myself to write a third article, so I didn't have to do it while I was in Australia. It started out rough and eventually took on a life of its own. It's probably the best piece out of the three I wrote for them.

The Joker called me to tell me about the excitement over his Colorado Rockies. They swept the Arizona Diamondbacks and are headed to the World Series. The Rockies are the hottest team in baseball and can win at home or on the road. It doesn't matter. He went to Game 4 and told me about the crazy scene outside the stadium when the game ended. People were going nuts and on the verge of a good old fashioned riot. a Couple of pinheads jumped up and down on a cop car, which meant that they swarmed, busted some heads, and tossed a few drunks in the slammer.

The Red Sox are in trouble after they slipped to 3-1 after the Cleveland Indians won their third straight against the Sox. The Indians are one victory away from another World Series appearance. I'm pretty sure that I'll be able to watch the games in Australia since they'll be televised on Fox. They are three different Fox Sports channels in OZ and one of them will be broadcasting the games. The last time I was down under was during the NFL playoffs. I watched the Jets get stomped. They have not recovered since then.

After our writing session, Nicky and I headed over to the Grove to catch a flick. We bought the tickets then wandered around. Went into Barnes and Nobles for a bit before we walked over to the Farmer's Market. There's an ice cream shop called Bennet's that makes the best fuckin' shakes in LA. I snagged a $6 chocolate shake, but it was worth every penny.

I wanted to see Into the Wild directed by Sean Penn. The film is based on the book by John Krakauer about a 20-something named Chris McCandless who ditched everything (his savings, family, and car) to live life on the edge as he bummed around the West for two years before embarking on a trip to Alaska where he died alone in the wilderness. McCandless graduated from the same university that I attended in Atlanta. Although I never met the guy, I recalled reading stories about him in the Emory Wheel newspaper when his dead body was found by moose hunters in 1992.

In the Wild was an outstanding book and I read it twice. The film was moving at times and everything was shot on location where McCandless traveled... from North Dakota to the Grand Canyon to Northern California and eventually to Alaska.

The images of Alaska were breathtaking and it reminded me that I always wanted to go. I've been to 46 states and Alaska is one of the four that I have never been to, along with Hawaii, North Dakota, and Minnesota (although I had a layover once at the Minneapolis Airport - but that doesn't count).

After the flick, we headed across the street to Whole Foods. Nicky picked out a couple of juicy steaks and other ingredients for a superb meal. She made me a filet mignon with a cajun rub that was topped with sauteed shitake mushrooms, onions, bleu cheese, and bacon. I picked up some garlic bread which wasn't as good as Nicky's steak. We cracked open a bottle of Shiraz and went to work. I'm fortunate that my girl is willing to cook for me... and that it's always top notch stuff.

After dinner, I rolled a blunt and we watched The Grateful Dead movie on DVD. She had never seen it before and it had been a while. Reminded me about how much I missed the magical energy of attending a Grateful Dead concert. If you have never been to one, you have no idea what I'm talking about. Very few experiences in my life have been able to match the equivalent of seeing the Dead. And of course, I was seeing them 15-20 years past their prime. I often wonder what it would have been like to see the Dead circa 1975, much like seeing Charlie Parker or Miles Davis play in the late 1950s.

Before I crashed on Tuesday night, I popped a Xanax. Nicky got a new prescription filled just in time for the trip. She's a bad flier and I had been warning her about the awful patch turbulence that happens somewhere around the Fiji Islands. She loaded up on Xanax and I popped one to test out the dosage. I was able to sleep for five straight hours without waking up. That was a good sign. I can pop a couple of those fuckers once we get past Hawaii in an attempt to get any sleep. On my first ever flight to Australia. I managed about two or so hours of combined sleep during a 15 hour flight to Sydney. Then again, that was on a United flight that had been historically known as the worst international flight in the world. I never got more than twenty minutes straight before I woke up.

This time, I'm on Quantas and I'm hoping to get several stretches of 60-75 minutes of straight sleep. The Xanax should can help. If not, I'll piggyback with a fistful of Vicodins and a glass of wine. Or three.

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