Friday, March 30, 2007

Lost in Translation

I have a few minutes to write for the first time in a day and a half. Been super swamped with work. I logged back-to-back 16 hour days at the Bay Casino in Monte Carlo (followed by two hours of work back in the hotel room which means I didn't get tocrach until 6ish). I'm also expecting to log my third long-ass-muthafuckin day.

I'm super tired and can't wait to get out of Monte Carlo and hit up Amsterdam.

I wrote an article that for Poker News about Day 1a at the European Poker Tour Championships and I was happy to find out that it was also my first ever article translated into Portuguese. I also wrote a recap of Day 1b which was also translated on the Portuguese site.

Here's a funny pic that Otis took of me yesterday in media row...

Here are some random pics of Monte Carlo that I took over the last two days:

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Day Trois in Monte Carlo

Today is the third day I've been in Monte Carlo and I cannot wait to leave. I'm an experienced traveler and this is my least favorite place that I've been in a very long time. Compared to Barcelona or Australia (places where I've covered international poker tournaments), Monte Carlo is vastly overrated. Everything appears pretty and cool but in reality, it's just not my scene.

The cliffs and architecture is amazing. The views of the Mediterranean are stunning and the locals are not as rude as I expected, but everything is overpriced and overvalued. And there's nothing for me to do aside from walk from my hotel to the casino.

On my second day here or Day 1a of the tournament, I worked in the Bay Casino for 16 hours without any specific breaks. I worked through dinner and ate a 20 Euro cheeseburger in media row. All I ate yesterday was a half of baugette, a croissant, and a cheeseburger including an OJ. I found a bakery up the hill and ordered the OJ, croissant, and baugette. The girl at the counter said 2.85 Euros. I thought she forgot to ring everything up. It was the correct price and I found the cheapest breakfast in Monte Carlo. I drank three Heineken's and that was it all day.

I got back to my hotel room at 4:19am and I was up until 6am or so trying to finish up the day's work. After an 18 hour work day, I passed out after chatting with Nicky on Skype and was awoken at 10am by my wake up call. I hopped in the shower, ordered room service, and finished up an article for a deadline. I had to leave for the casino at Noon, so I had less than 90 minutes to get everything done.

The best part of Monte Carlo so far has to be waking up and discovering Beverly Hills 90210 in French! I shot a quick video of it.

Click here to view the French dubbed version of 90210.

I fucked up my room service order. I asked for an order of scrambled eggs, wheat toast, bacon, and OJ. When they asked me if I wanted one or two eggs, I said, "Two." I assumed that he meant how many eggs I wanted. When my food arrived (quickly I might add) there were two orders of scrambled eggs and undercooked bacon. What the fuck?

In Japan seven years ago, Senor and I went into McDonalds after a Phish concert. I was shitfaced on mushrooms and ordered a #3 which was a double-cheeseburger meal. I pointed at the picture and flashed three fingers to the cute girl in an even cuter outfit. She assumed I asked for three orders of #3. I was shocked to get three double-cheeseburgers, three cokes, and three orders of fries. Of course in Japan, all the portions are small so it was like eating 1.5 orders. Regardless. Be careful of what you order overseas.

There are 200 international media reps here covering the EPT Championships. The media room is huge and one of the biggest set ups I have ever seen. The best part of the media room is that they give you free Coke, Coke Light (Diet Coke), coffee, OJ, Evian water, and Pellegrino sparkling water. That was a nice treat.

I'm expecting another long night of working until 6am so it's just past Noon here in Monte Carlo which is the start of a very very very very long day.

OK, so I'm bitching about work and bitching about Monte Carlo. The best thing so far... is all the Swedish chicks here in media row covering the Swedish poker players and all the hot ass in the poker room. Here's what I wrote over at Poker News for their live coverage:
Several of his tablemates deeply respect and admire (Chris) Moneymaker for what he's done with poker, especially how he, as an unknown player won a seat online, headed to Las Vegas to play in his first live tournament and eventually take down Sammy Farha en route to his 2003 WSOP victory. One of the players at his table noted about how big the EPT has gotten.

"I started all this," he joked.

Everyone at his table laughed and thanked him for his contribution to poker. I also want to thank him for the international "Moneymaker Effect." Because of him, thousands and thousands of Swedes now play poker. They bring their buxom blonde girlfriends and their friends (for some odd reason Swedish women travel in packs) to poker tournaments and stand on the rail. Thanks to Moneymaker for all the Scandi eye candy. It makes covering tournaments in Europe a lot more fun with plenty of talent on the rail to gawk at.

Photos of hot Swedish ass courtesy of PokerStars

Here are some random pictures that I took from yesterday:

View of the sea from the Casino

The Media Room

The tournament area

My morning breakfast

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Monte Carlo Pic Dump

Here are a couple that I took yesterday:

View from my balcony

Shaniac shows up his new slick shoes

Here are a couple that I took this morning:

Some French lady yelled at me after I took this pic!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Nice Arrival

My cab driver looked like Big Pussy from The Sopranos and he dropped a F-bomb once every six words. It took about an hour to get to the airport. I was there by 4pm after leaving JFK only seven hours earlier after catching a red eye from Las Vegas. I was about to board another red eye, this time to Europe.

Shecky booked me on Iberian airlines because it was the least expensive out of the other options on Expedia. I had a layover in Madrid before heading through to Nice. I knew that it would be a tough flight especially because I was super tired. I loaded up on supplies at Hudson News such as a bottle of water, iced tea, chocolate, an energy bar, and gum. I also bought the baseball preview issue from Sports Illustrated and the latest issue of Premiere, the one with Will Ferrell on the cover.

At my gate, I sat next to a few Brits and I actually had a conversation about cricket, particularly the coach who got whacked. I never thought I'd be pontificating about cricket, but there I was talking smack well enough that I impressed the Brits. All that cricket watching on Australian TV paid off.

As I boarded my flight, I noticed that there were dozens of hot Spanish women all over the cabin. I was on a Spanish airline after all and I prayed that I was seated next to one of them. No such luck. I was in the middle section on the aisle. There was an empty seat next to me and on the other side of the middle four seats was a businessman. The row in front of me was filled with a Hasidic family with three kids. Five people in four seats, including a baby who cried incessantly the first two hours.

As I read SI, I had thoughts of rolling up the magazine and smacking the baby on the forehead to make him stop crying. We had not even left the gate and I was ready to lock the baby in the bathroom. That's what I get for flying coach. I came up with a splendid idea of having an infant and child free airline.

When I stepped onto the plane, I showed the stewardess my ticket stub with my seat 24C. She told me how to get there... in Spanish. That would be the beginning of an odd experience for the entire flight. The Spanish flight attendants assumed that I was from Spain. I did my best to try to pull it off. I'd say things like, "Agua por favor."

When they served dinner, the choices were chicken or beef. I piped up, "Pollo por favor."

Dinner was chicken curry with white rice and spinach. I skipped the spinach. They gave me two rolls with cheese and I nibbled at the salad, which also contained fresh mozzarella. Dessert was a cheesecake in order to complete the cheese theme.

The baby in front of me screamed and screamed. As soon as we reached cruising altitude, I popped a Vicodin and listened to a Dead bootleg on my iPod. I tried to fall asleep but it didn't work. I popped a second Vike after dinner and passed out for a half hour before one of the kids in front of me grabbed my leg from underneath the seat. They had been fooling around there and I thought about kicking one of the rugrats in the face for waking me up. They also bothered the lonely businessman in my row. He did his best to ignore them as he worked through the NY Times crossword puzzle.

The worst part of the flight was when the baby shit itself and the parents waited twenty-five minutes (I kept time) to change the diaper.

I watched the end of the awful Ben Stiller flick Night at the Museum before I polished off both magazines that I bought. I frantically scribbled down a few notes about the crying baby and the stewardesses talking to me in Spanish.

The flight was 6.5 hours in all and an hour before we reached Madrid, they served breakfast. I barely touched my stale croissant. My plane arrived a few minutes early and I quickly rushed off the plane and wandered around Madrid airport before I cleared Spanish customs and headed to the gate for my flight to Nice. That would be the 13th flight that I took so far in 2007.

I had about two hours to kill and bought some bottled water with the few Euros I had leftover from my trip to Amsterdam last November with Nicky. I found a wifi hotspot and checked email. I also chatted with Nicky on Skype for a few minutes. That's an amazing feature for me when I'm traveling overseas. I hooked it up for work purposes but it was nice to chat with Nicky and she let me bitch about another flight with a crying baby.

The weather in Madrid was rainy and my flight to Nice was delayed. It was a commuter airline or puddle jumper that seated 24 people. We had to walk out to the tarmac to board the flight. They had two devastatingly attractive stewardesses wearing red and blue uniforms, scarves, and gloves. The handed out copies of the newspaper... Le Pais and Le Monde. They served OJ in glasses and I passed out after takeoff. I was awoken by the hotter of the two just before touchdown in Nice. I had my iPod on and she wanted me to turn it off. I complied then peeked out the window to see the amazing coastline of the French Riviera as we landed in Nice. The plane also stopped short of the terminal and we deplaned on the tarmac. On Sunday I was in Las Vegas and I finally arrived in France extremely groggy after three flights, two Vicodins, and enduring a baby who shit their pants.

I was quizzed by French customs but they didn't search my bags. They let me through and I headed to the helicopter info booth to figure out the best way to get to Monte Carlo. Right now, I'm sitting in baggage claim at Nice airport waiting for Shronk's flight to arrive before we head to our hotel in Monte Carlo.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Las Slacker

I've been too busy living life to write about it. After four and a half days of intense gambling in Las Vegas, I'm physically and mentally exhausted. I flew the red eye from Vegas to JFK on Sunday night and got into NYC at 6:30am. I did not sleep at all on the flight and the guy next to me annoyed the fuck out of me because I refused to switch seats so he could sit next to his wife. As Derek said, "Not my fault you got a shitty seat. Buy your tickets early and get those good seats, pal!"

I took a cab back home as we fought morning rush hour traffic. I did laundry, napped for 45 minutes, set up Skype for work, ate a cheeseburger at the diner, hit up Radio Shack, shaved, showered, rubbed one out, and packed for almost two weeks in Europe. I had to do all of that within seven hours before another taxi picked me up at 3pm to take me back to JFK so I could board a 6pm flight to Madrid. After a three hour layover in Madrid, I fly to Nice where I meet up with Shronk, who's the video editor for We're then going to Monte Carlo for work.

Las Vegas was a lot of fun. In the past I had to work the WSOP or other poker tournaments. Or I had gone to Vegas for a bloggers convention. Although I have fun at those events, there are other issues I don't have time to write about, but let's just say, it's hard to split time among 100 different people and I rarely get to do what I want to do. That's why this special trip with my brother and Senor felt like old times... when we used to go for March Madness way before poker took over my life.

On Wednesday, Nicky picked us up at the airport after driving out from Hollyweird. We checked in at Red Rock Casino which is way off the Strip. I have never stayed in a local's casino and Red Rock is the flagship for the Station Casinos. The rooms were close to $300 a night with taxes and a bogus $20 per night surcharge. Alas, it was worth it. Aside from the Borgata, the beds at Red Rock were some of the best I had ever slept in. There were two plasma TVs, including one in the bathroom above the bathtub!

We never left the casino aside for a trip to Red Rock Canyon because Senor wanted to go "touch the rocks." We ate all of our meals on property including a couple of outstanding meals. On Wednesday, I met Flipchip and Poker Prof for dinner at Terra Rossa, the swanky Italian eatery at Red Rock. Between five of us, we polished off two bottles of wine considering we're not big wine drinkers.

On Thursday, we ate at T Bones, a high end steak joint which I had eaten once before with Miami Don and Carmen. The filet mignon was as good as always and it was tough eating and keeping an eye on the scores of the game at the same time. Thursday was fun because I can't recall any of us laughing harder at some of the stories that Miami Don, Senor, and myself recanted to the rest of the table. I totally forgot that Senor used to own a language school in Cambodia, where he taught hookers how to speak English so they could make more money. I wish I could make that stuff up.

On Saturday, I ate at Salt Lick BBQ with Amy Calistri and Tim Lavalli. She swears by the original chain which is just outside of Austin. I pussed out and ate the pulled pork sandwich with a spicy BBQ sauce. I also ordered a side of mac and cheese. Everyone else go the all you can eat special which included ribs, sausage, and brisket.

I also got to hang out with Dr. Chako, JW, and Friedman, along with Miami Don who practically lived at the sportsbook with us. I didn't do well gambling wise and lost close to 3K for the trip. If you count the 1.2K I spent on meals for the group and another 1.2K on the room, the entire trip cost me about 6K. That's why I was hoping to win big on March Madness games. In the end, 6K is a small price to spend on my brother and friends. I had a very good 2006 and start to 2007, so I wanted to celebrate with one of my best friends, my brother, Nicky, and Flipchip and the Poker Prof who have pretty much adopted me into their family. Senor said he had a blast, which was part of my objective for the trip. Plus Derek hit his first parlay ever, so he was pretty happy about that. And Nicky won some money playing poker as she got addicted to sports betting.

I'm currently at JFK waiting for my flight to Madrid to board so I don't have time to write about all the wacky and wild stories. Hopefully Derek will do his infamous trip reports. I'm sure Nicky will post something shortly.

I'm off to cover the EPT Championships in Monte Carlo. Otis and Mad from PokerStars will be there, which is a treat. Lavalli hurt his back along with Schecky, so it's just me and Shronk covering the event for with a MAW nicknamed Hotchips doing the video shoots. Oh, and we also have a Portuguese guy who barely speaks English taking photos for us. Should be tons of fun. Actually, the layover in Amsterdam on my way home will be fun. The next week will be a ton of work as I log 16 hour days in a casino and another four or five hours of catch up work back in my swanky room at the Le Meridian Hotel which is supposed to be on the beach. All I know is that it's on Princess Grace Avenue.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Flight of the Stripper

My brother and I were on the same JetBlue flight from JFK to Las Vegas. We both booked separately and ended up getting seated in 19D and 20D. He was right in front of me sharing a row with an old guy. My row was empty and just before the flight attendants closed the airplane doors, two extremely loud women with Fendi purses rushed in and sauntered down the aisles. One was a skinny black woman wearing oversized Chanel shades carrying a pink jacket. The buxom blonde wore a pink Juicy track suit and had the biggest and worst fake boob job I had seen since the days when I lived at the Redneck Riviera. Her tits look like she had two pugs stuffed in there. Her weathered face suggested that she had been living a hard life of booze, drugs, and whatever else accompanied life on the pole. Even the botox could not hide the fact that everyone on the plane knew that they were strippers. And they were seated right next to me in 20E and 20F.

"I think your brother got a better seat assignment," the WWII vet joked with Derek. "He got the broads while you got stuck with the old fart."

Despite all my bad airplane karma the last few months having to sit next to crying babies and having several canceled and delayed flights, I finally got lucky and had two NYC strippers on their way out to Vegas to work the clubs or various hooker bars for the weekend. Man, sometimes I fuckin' miss the underbelly of Las Vegas. Sometimes.

The strippers next to me were like finding 10-10 in a short-handed game with four callers and then watching three overcards flop. It looked good pre-flight, but by the time the plane flew over the Rockies, sitting next to strippers got old.

They retired to the bathroom every thirty minutes (on a five and a half hour flight) to snort lines of blow. The black chick carefully climbed over me. She was thin enough to squeeze by. The blonde was not as limber. The one time she did that, I nearly suffocated in a sea of silicon. The bitches never even offered me a bump.

They yapped incessantly and drank like AlCantHang and BigMike on a bender. The blonde guzzled Skyy vodka and Sprite while the black chick ordered double Bloody Mary's.

"Are you going to drink with us?" they'd squeal everytime they ordered another drink.

"Nope," I said. "I'm high right now. On Jesus."

I lied. I wasn't high on Christ, just generic Vicodin. But I discovered that when you mention the Lord's name in vain, annoying strippers tend to leave you alone.

"By the way, where you girls working this weekend?" I asked somewhere over Ohio.

They were not happy that I called them out on living the total cliche of a life of a stripper and one muttered, "I'm retired."

They constantly rang the flight attendant light which drew the ire of the crew who did not like to be bossed around by wasted strippers. On our descent into McCarran, one flight attendant got snippy with the strippers because they wouldn't stash their purses underneath the seat. The other fussed around with her Blackberry and wouldn't shut it off.

"So strippers don't have to follow FAA rules?" I muttered. Their act was old and I couldn't wait to get off the plane.

When we finally arrived in Las Vegas, the buxom blonde shouted, "Time to double down!"

"If you're working at the Rhino, tell Brandi Hawbacker that Pauly says what's up," I mentioned as I gathered my bags and rushed off the plane. I hope that I didn't contract hepatitis C or some other venereal disease.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

On the Road... Las Vegas and Monte Carlo

A bitter chill greeted me as I walked to the Greek diner this morning. It was about 7:20am and I had five hours before my flight to Las Vegas was scheduled to depart. At least it wasn't snowing, which meant my JetBlue flight at JFK should leave on time. I had to finish up packing for two trips; a quick jaunt to Las Vegas and ten days in Monte Carlo, France, and Amsterdam. I have four nights in Las Vegas before I hop a red eye back to NYC for a ten hour layover (where I pick up my Euro luggage and pick up some cash), then it's another red eye to Madrid before I catch another flight to Nice and eventually a helicopter into Monte Carlo.

In the last five weeks, I spent time at various airports; JFK, Bob Hope (Burbank), Long Beach, LaGuardia, Ft. Lauderdale, and later today Las Vegas McCarran. I had to endure a cancellation, a couple of delays, and picking up the shit end of the luck of the draw when I was seated near or next to no less than six children on my last six flights.

There's one thing that bothers me the most is that people are completely ignorant when going through security. TSA workers are shouting instructions, there are clearly labeled signs, and everyone around you is doing weird things like taking off their shoes and using zip lock baggies for liquid items and toiletries. Yet, I always get some nimrod in front of me who insist on carrying a six pack of dipshit juice with him, while wearing a belt and watch through the metal detector. He holds up the line for fifteen minutes, while my shoeless feet are cold as I'm trying to hold up my pants with one hand and make sure no one steals the tray with my laptop, wallet, cellphone, and carefully packages toiletries.

I spent the last two days writing a few columns to put in the can for various deadlines and running errands such as going to the dry cleaners to get a suit ready for Monte Carlo. I also went to the bank to deposit a couple of pay checks and withdraw a chunk of cash for the next two weeks on the road. The teller was (insert minority here) and counted out my cash twice before handing it over to me. The first thing I did was count the money. I took out close to 10K for Europe and to gamble with in Las Vegas and carefully counted out all the bills. The teller glared at me with the evil eye with that look like, "You're only counting that money because I'm (insert minority here)."

Actually, that's not the time to drop the race card. I don't care if I get $1.28 in change from a bodega or a few grand at the bank. I always count my change and you bet your ass if I'm taking out more money than you make in two months humping a shitty teller job, then I'm gonna count it twice. Slowly.

My biggest concern was getting jumped when I left the bank. Then again, I looked like a total mook and an out-of-work writer. Who's gonna mug me as I'm walking around amidst a sea of suits?

I ate dinner at my brother's. We ordered chicken parm heros from the local pizza place and he had the NIT hoops tournament on. The announcer mentioned his name and I did a double-take because it was a guy that I went to high school with. I knew he was in the sports industry somehow, but not sure what he did. So there he was on ESPN, twenty pounds heavier and not wearing his Regis baseball hat that he sported everytime.

David Letterman caught the stomach flew and had to pull out of taping The Late Show on Tuesday. Adam Sandler was supposed to be the guest pimping his latest film. The producers asked him to step in at the last second. He had live performing chops thanks to Saturday Night Live, but had not done that medium in years. It's one thing to be a guest for two five minute segments split up by a clip while you pitch your latest flick. It's something else to be the host for an hour long program.

Sandler was obviously nervous as moved around a lot during his monologue. Paul Shafer stepped up and tossed him a few softballs to ease the load. Sandler made a lot of Letterman jokes along with his usual form of self-deprecating humor. His funniest joke was about George Bush when he said something like, "I'm not going to be doing any topical humor like politics. I guess George Bush is a good guy. After all, he told me he saw The Waterboy 28 times."

It was funny because it's probably true.

By the way, I got addicted to cricket during my month in Oz. Here's an instructional video endorsed by Aussie Garth, who is a certiifable cricket junkie.

Click here to view the bikini cricket video.

By the way, one of the blogs that I read daily is written by the authors of Freakanomics. They had an interesting piece today called Writing for Money. This passage was dead one:
The Twain book sounds especially fascinating to anyone who is interested in the twin arts of writing and money-making. I always want to sneer at people who sneer at writers who wish to actually be paid for their work. This troupe of sneerers seem to believe that writing is art and that art comes from the soul and that the fruits of the soul shall not be bought...

But this fact remains: Twain's drive for wealth drove him to produce literature. Call it an unintended consequence if you will. But, if you like the unintended consequence of good literature, it makes it a little harder to condemn the "greed" of a writer.
Greed is good.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Sore Shoulder

The Tao had been bombarded with random videos last week. I wish I could conjure up more energy to write. I caught another bug at the end of Langerado which floored me for most of last week. I'm heading to Vegas next week and Monte Carlo the week after for work. I could not afford to get sick and miss work. I did what I could to boost the immune system (thanks to the Human Head's Alka-Seltzer and Airborne cocktail which I added a couple of vitamin C and B-12 pills to the mix) and by Thursday I felt like a normal human being again. Well, somewhat normal healthy person. That was perfect timing considering that the March Madness basketball tournament was upon us.

I finally woke up on Thursday without a sore throat and a fever, so I quickly headed to the laptop. I fired up Rodrigo y Gabriela, my new favorite writing music and cranked out pages and pages of drivel. After an Everything bagel and iced tea, I sorted out my picks for the various pools I entered and crunched the numbers in order to figure out who I was going to bet on that day. I set aside about 5K of my 2007 travel money to use as seed money for my March Madness gambling binge. I'm hoping that I don't lose it, otherwise I might not get to do some fun stuff at the end of the year. If I get lucky and my picks materialize, then I'll have enough money to embark on a nice adventure.

That's how I used to fund my Phishy travels and other adventures during the late 1990s. I'd bet heavily on March Madness. If I won (which I usually did), then I'd have enough money to follow Phish that summer. If I didn't, I'd have to run up the credit cards.

I had a decent day gambling on Thursday but I had more fun sitting at Derek's and watching the games. I had been on the road so much that I forgot how enjoyable being on a couch and ripping bingers could be. I loathe CBS and their over-saturation of commercials, so I usually mute the sound and listen to music instead.

I got a haircut on Friday morning with Vinny the barber. He was telling me about his next trip to Atlantic City and I told him about my work assignment in Monte Carlo. He told me I should skip France and go to his homeland of Italy instead. He was shocked when I told him I had never been.

I got the shortest haircut of my life. Standard US military issue cut. I'm embracing my lack of hair and wanted to see what it looked like really really short. It's a low maintenance hair cut and I could roll out of bed and go without worrying about bedhead.

By the time I left Vinny's, it had started to snow. It was a mixture of ice and snow and it started to come down hard by the time the basketball games started at 1pm. Derek called saying that he was getting out of work early so he got to see a bunch of the games on Friday afternoon.

On Saturday morning something awful happened. It was St. Patty's Day and I woke up with a sore shoulder and right arm. It felt like I pitched both ends of a doubleheader and could barely raise my arm above my shoulder without whincing. It hurt even when I just looked at it. I slept on it wrong and it felt slightly dislocated. Awesome. As soon as I got over a flu big, a nagging shoulder injury crept up on me. Thank God that my bum knee held up at Langerado even though there was one morning when I was dying. Motrin cleared that up.

I popped several Motrin throughout Saturday as the pain dulled but still lingered. I was more concerned with hoops than drinking and opted out of going downtown to get shitfcaed in a crowded bar then either piss or puke on an icy sidewalk. I made a few big bets and that's all I could think about. The timing of March Madness was awful because my mother decided to have a family dinner. She made the traditional Irish-American feast of corned beef and cabbage. I hate that shit. Always have. When I was forced to eat it as a kid, I lathered my food in spicy mustard from the Jewish deli down the street.

The only good thing about the dinner on St. Patty's Day was that my mother decided to hang one of my paintings in her living room. It was a big one too and she liked the colors. No green at all in the painting that was called Heather's Flowers.

Things got ugly in the wee hours of Sunday morning. I slept on my left shoulder and it started to act up. I popped a half of a Vicodin but the pain persisted. I smoked some weed and even jerked off, but I could not fall asleep. I tried everything as the pain in the other shoulder crept back up. I was tag teamed. For about thirty minutes, I was in utter agony trying to figure out how to sleep. If I put my arms down along the side of my body, it hurt like hell. If I did the mummy pose, the right shoulder burned. If I slept on my stomach, the left one hurt. I decided to sleep sitting up in a chair, something I've gotten used to because of so much airplane travel. I grabbed a blanket and sat for ten minutes. That didn't work. The only time I felt normal was when I stood up with my arms at the side as I did circular neck motions while taking deep breaths. I could not do that all night and decided to pop a full Vicodin instead. I crawled back into bed and fell asleep for ten minutes before waking up at 4am in sheer pain admitting defeat.

I smoked more weed through the 4:20am hour and by then the 1.5 Vicodins started to take affect as I slipped into a mellow mood. The agony disappeared. My left arm was fine and the pain in the right shoulder subsided enough that I could use my laptop. I wrote for a bit and edited a couple of videos from Langerado. I mulled over my picks for the day and read the New York Times. Of course with the Vicodin rush comes the cotton mouth and the chornic scratching. In random places. Like my stomach or my forearms. I must have looked like a parched tweaker on Sunday morning.

I had three not-so-fun moments last week.

1. My assignment in Monte Carlo was extended one full day. The European Poker Tour Championships were supposed to end on Sunday Aptil 1st. My plan was to take a helicopter from Monte Carlo to Nice on the 2nd, then fly from Nice to Amsterdam for a few days of high altitude training. My work assignment dictated that I stay in Monte Carlo an extra day. I called Expedia to try to change my flight, but Air France fucked me and I was unable to change my flight to the next day. Non-refundable, no exceptions. Le non. I had to eat the entire cost of the flight. I rebooked a new one and the price had jumped up by almost 50%. I was not happy and took out my ire on the outsourced customer service rep. I had to spend more money to spend one less day in the Dam. Sadly the extra day of work would not cover the extra plane ticket. Grumpy Pauly.

2. I finished my taxes, doing them five times until I got an amount that I could live with. I still owe a sick amount to NY state and the federalies. Think of how much NYC teachers make in a year and that's my tax burden. I'm pissed knowing that NY state will piss it away on welfare checks and the federal government will be using my taxes to fund their next war with Iran. What can I do? I decided to wait until after get back from Europe in early April to file and mail them what I owe. I might as well get one more month of interest on my hard-earned money before I hand it over to those career crooks in DC.

3. High Roller Magazine sucks ass. They owe me freelance pay of over 1K for two stories that I did at a discounted rate and as rush jobs. The managing editor has not returned a single email to me in several weeks. I did the guy two favors and all I asked in return was to be paid promptly. After getting stonewalled by the managing editor, I sent the COO a "you guys are unprofessional" email. He called me up two minutes after I sent it and he promised me that the invoices would be put to the top of the pile. That was over three weeks ago. I emailed him four times last week to check on the status. He blew all of them off. I know for a fact because I gave Tim his email (they stiffed Tim too) and he answered Tim back, but not me. Bush league. When I tried to call the magazine, the number had been disconnected. That's when I got really pissed. They were having financial troubles which is why I had not been paid. Amy Calistri told me that their printer demanded to be paid up front for their latest issue. That's how bad things are for them. What pisses me off is that the managing editor knew about these problems but failed to tell me before I handed in my last assignment. Had I known they might not pay me for a long time (or not pay me at all), I would have shopped the piece around to another magazine and got paid one time and a higher rate. As is, he duped me after I did him a favor and I got fucked. It's ironic that High Roller Magazine can't pay their writers. I sent another email to the COO at a different email address for someone place he runs and he said that he would "get back to me next week" and that he was busy last week "traveling and moving offices." So he has money to travel and to set up a new office, but can't pay me? Yeah, I'm really pissed about that. Totally unprofessional. I'll never write for them again.

That's the bad stuff. The good stuff is that I've been winning a little money, enjoying watching the games with my brother, and I'm about to go to Vegas and Monte Carlo in the upcoming weeks. If I can just stay healthy and get paid, I'd be an extremely happy camper.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Last of the Langerado Videos

Here are three more videos that I took at Langerado last weekend featuring Widespread Panic, Matisyahu, and Trey Anasastio Band.

Click here to view the Widespread Panic video.

Click here to view the Matisyahu video.

Click here to view the Trey Anastasio Band video.

The sound is not the greatest and for some reason the resolution on the Trey video is not so hot either. Oh well. Enjoy!

Friday, March 16, 2007

More Langerado Videos; Galactic, Medeski Martin & Wood, and My Morning Jacket

I spliced together three more videos from footage that I shot last weekend at the Langerado music festival in Florida. This batch features NYC's jazz trio Medeski Martin & Wood (3:19 in length) along with Galactic from New Orleans covering Led Zeppelin's Immigrant Song (2:50 in length). I also posted My Morning Jacket's version of Mahgeetah (5:08 in length). Take a peek:

Or you can click here to view Medeski Martin & Wood from Langerado.

Or you can click here to view Galactic from Langerado.

Or you can click here to view Mahgeetah from MMJ.

Enjoy. I'll be working on videos from Matisyahu, Trey, and Widespread Panic later on today.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Langerado Videos: My Morning Jacket

I started splicing together Langerado videos that I shot over the weekend. Here are a couple of songs from My Mornning Jacket during their Saturday setlist at Langerado. The video is 3:19 in length.

Click here to view the My Morning Jacket video.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Terminal Woes

My aircard was on the fritz. The wifi at the airport was shaky, at best. Getting any catch up work done was impossible. Usually, while sitting around in airports, I crank out an hour of cleaning up my email inbox and responding to emails that were sent to me up to a month ago. It's an awful habit and one of the biggest liabilities that I am not proud about.

The hardest thing was finding a spot to sit while I waited to get on the plane. My initial seat was next to a sweet old lady. However, two 40-something women sat down across from me and would not shut the fuck up. Their conversation was futile and I wanted to say something like, "Can you guys talk a little lower? I don't care about your sister's latest pyscho-drama."

That's why I wish some people had mute buttons.

I moved instead of confronting them. I hoped that the wifi would be stronger at a different gate. That didn't work. A fat guy who has a son at LSU yapped non-stop to the folks in his section. He was sharing his pearls of wisdom about parenting. I wish he had a mute button too.

I moved a third time and everything was great until the old guy busted out fingernail clippers. I dunno how he snuck those past airport security (unless he bought them at the airport gift shop), but he took off his sandals and started clipping away. Disgusting.

I really just wanted to get back to NYC with a reliable wifi connection and away from the annoying people. I generally have a high tolerance and I try to be a patient person, but those folks were driving me nuts.

The flight from Ft. Lauderdale to NYC was uneventful. There was a baby three rows in front of me and aside from a ten minute stretch over the Carolinas, he was well-behaved.

My flight was five minutes early which was a shocker for a flight landing at LaGuardia. By the time I deplaned, I was feeling like crap. I started to catch a bug as early as Sunday morning. I was blah on Monday and sick on Tuesday.

I went home, sorted through my mail, then called up Verzion to figure out what happened to my air card. The lady on the other end of the phone was American. A Texan, I think by the sound of her drawl. I'm completely geeked out whenever I call a toll free customer service number and actually get someone from North America and not an outsourced rep.

I spoke to Nicky and she was sick too. I ended up writing for a bit before crashing early. I had a slight fever and a scratchy throat and feared another batch of tonsillitis coming on. The last thing I need right now is Strep Throat.

I woke up around 6am and wrote for two hours while listening to a few Dead bootlegs. I headed out to the Greek diner for a bacon, egg, and cheese on a roll.

I went to my mother's apartment while I did laundry. There are five apartment units in her wing and there are two apartments where the elevators open up. I saw three guys packing up furniture. It appears that the old man who lived there passed away when I was in LA.

Ever since I can remember, those seven apartments on my mother's wing have had the same people living in them for almost thirty years. That particular apartment had a really short Jewish woman and her husband who was at least 6'9'. That guy was huge and he'd tower over us as little kids.

I wonder who is going to move into that apartment?

There are two apartments where the husband and wife eventually died and the oldest son took over the apartment. Derek and I used to joke that one of them was a serial killer or a possible pedophile.

The other two apartments still have older Jewish couples living there, while the guy next door lives by himself after his wife passed away. He never allowed her to smoke in the apartment, so she would have to smoke in the stairwell.

Today is a busy day. I'm currently waiting on laundry and have to go to the bank and the dry cleaners. I also have to do all my March Madness picks along with sitting down to do my taxes. If I finish all that before dinner, then I'll have to crank out an article or two. And yes, I'm still sick and running on vapors.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Langerado Day 3 Update

We lost an hour of sleep due to Daylight Savings Time. Alas, it was another slow day getting out of the gate. Since it was the Joker's birthday, we went to Chili's for lunch and margaritas before driving to the show. I don't know why, but there was stand-still traffic getting into the show and it took about thirty-five minutes longer to get in than it had been on the first two days. Was Widespread Panic pulling in all those folks?

Happy Birthday, Joker!

Due to logistics, we skipped the Spam All-Stars and the New Orleans Social Club. The NOSC is a band made of New Orleans musicians that settled in Austin after Hurricane Katrina such as a few guys from the Meters (Leo Neocentelli and George Porter, Jr.) along with Henry Butler, Ivan Neville, and Ray Webber.

Wilkins said some positive things about Pepper and I wanted to check out the end of their set, but the intense traffic prevented us for seeing them. Pepper is a SoCal trio that features a heavy Hawaiian music influence along reggae-rots and toss in some a serious head-banging edge. We also missed Band of Horses from Seattle. Two of the members were originally from Carissa's Weird, and now Band of Horses are on now the infamous Sub Pop record label. They have been getting a lot of comparisons to Built to Spill, but I don't hear that.

We caught the end of Taj Mahal's set and some of Rodrigo Y Gabriela. They are two Mexican acoustic guitar players based out of Dublin. Those boys can play. We made our way to the back of the festival grounds by the Everglades stage. The are was jam packed and I had not seen so many people during the first two days. Part of that had to do with Panic as a lot of fans from the South drove down to catch the last day of Langerado. I also think that Matisyahu and Panic were bigger attractions than the indie rock bands which caused a lopsided distribution of people at Langerado on Sunday.

Toots & the Maytals have been around since the late 1960s and it was amazing to catch the pioneers of reggae at Langerado. They played a few of their classic tunes such as "54-46" which has been covered by numerous bands. Once their set ended, we moved into place and secure a spot for our basecamp for both Matisyahu and Panic as Pablo and Chris finally arrived.

I skipped Los Lobos and sat around waiting for Hasidic reggae rocker Matisyahu. He played another amazing set full of energy. He appeals to people of all races and religions and focuses on providing universal messages in his music as he preaches love and harmony and spiritual awareness in all beings. At one point he headed up to the VIP tower and was seen dancing around with his posse.

Matisyahu points to the sky


I skipped Cat Power. We caught Chan Marshall and her band at Vegoose and it was a decent set, but I wasn't about to miss Matisyahu to truck over to the indie rock tent to see her cover the Stones' Satisfaction. I heard she also covered Gnarls Barkley's popular tune Crazy at Langerado. Although I've seen OAR, I must admit that I'm not a fan and had no problem skipping the Maryland band. I could hear a few faint traces of their set as we waited for Panic to come on.

Nicky, Pablo, and Chris headed over to the indie rock tent to catch Explosions in the Sky. The Austin based band formed sometime around 1999. I caught them at some point in Austin, but they were going under a different name. The band is known for it's extremely loud and mind-numbing instruments. There are no lyrics or vocals in their songs. The band is made up of a drummer and three guitar players. One of those guys sometimes plays bass. Explosions in the Sky got notoriety when they scored the soundtrack to Friday Night Lights.

Nicky saw a few songs and found her way back to our spot for Widespread Panic. I was shocked that she was able to find her way back. By then, the Joker and I had been drinking and settling in for the show. We were excited for the new era of Widespread Panic featuring Jimmy Herring on guitar. The last time I saw Panic was at Vegoose and their Halloween show in Las Vegas. And the last time Panic played was New Years Eve. They had been off for about ten weeks as Langerado was the unofficial kick off to their summer tour.

Usually bands don't play their best at festivals due to so many circumstances that they cannot control. The sound is always slightly off because the crew has less than an hour to set everything up. Plus you never know what to expect with regard to the weather, atmosphere, crowd, and time the band is scheduled to play. Panic seemed to be in the best possible spot. Just like at Vegoose in October, they were the headliner closing out the entire festival. They put out an excellent effort at Vegoose and I was hoping for some more magic.

Widespread Panic

The set started out with Hope in a Hopeless World. I had seen that a few times before. I must admit, it was one of the last songs I wanted to hear, especially for the opener. They made up for it in a warm Space Wrangler as the crowd got a little more into the set. They played above average during the next four songs; Time Zones, Makes Sense to Me, Bust It Big, and Radio Child. Then things heated up quickly with Pilgrims > Wonderin > Diner > Lover Tractor. After drums and a brief jam, they segued into Driving Song > Surprise Valley > Driving Song. Jimmy Herring took over during that period and ripped up a nasty display of psychedelic soloing.

The last three songs were played well, but I didn't expect to see Walkin, From the Cradle, and Give. Those are Set 1 closers... not a festival closer. I dunno if Panic went over their time limit or expected a ten minute extension, but they abruptly ended their set after Give. No encore. Nadda. After Give, they left the stage and the house lights came on. Langerado was over.
Widespread Panic Langerado Setlist

The boys played one long 2.5 hour set without an encore.

Set 1: Hope In A Hopeless World, Space Wrangler, Time Zones, Makes Sense to Me, Bust it Big, Radio Child, Pilgrims, Wondering, Diner, Love Tractor > Drums > Jam > Driving Song > Suprise Valley > Driving Song, Walkin', From the Cradle, Give

Highlights included some series Jimmy Herring jammin' on Driving Song > Surprise Valley > Driving Song.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Day 2 Langerado Recap

Day 2 was a more compact day for us and we only caught six bands; Grey Boy All Stars, Yerba Buena, JJ Grey & Mofro, Perpetual Grove, Medeski Martin & Wood, and My Morning Jacket. We skipped The Disco Biscuits, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Blackalicious, The Slip, and Soulive.

Sometimes you get a slow start to the day at a music festival. Day 2 was just that for us. The Joker went to the Disco Biscuits' late night show on Friday night and didn't get back until almost 5:30am. I had woke up at 8am and couldn't fall back asleep so I downloaded pics and wrote a quick recap of Day 1, while Nicky and the Joker were still crashed out. By that point, my back and knee were sore and bothering me. I popped a few Motrin and went back to sleep at 11am for an hour or so. When I woke up from that nap, I felt much better. The pain had almost subsided.

We didn't leave the hotel until after 2pm and hit up Denny's (again) on the way to the festival. We missed The Slip, Soulive, and Keiren Hebden from Four Tet. Sometimes those early acts miss the cut because it takes a while to mobilize the crew.

Pablo and Chris were waiting for us near the entrance to the actual venue and we wandered over to the Everglades stage. On our way, we caught Yerba Buena, a Latin-funk band from NYC that Schecky recommended that we see. They were a nice combo of Afro-Cuban-funk and backbeats with a tinge of hip hop thrown into the stew.

I was particularly excited to see the funkified melodies of the Grey Boy All Stars. When the schedule was first announced, I was initially pumped to see the GBA's on the lineup. They don't play too often and they are one collection of musicians that I rarely get to see. The GBA's took a six year hiatus while their members ripped it up with various solo and side projects. Elgin Park (guitar) has been working in Hollyweird scoring flicks such as Donnie Darko. Karl Denson (sax & flute) had been touring the world with his band Tiny Universe, just as Robert Walters (keys, organ) had been playing with 20th Congress. It had been a while since they all took the stage as a unit and tore it up for their hour set playing a few old tunes and a couple of jazz and Nola standards. The GBA's were one of the special moments of Day 2.

Since the two acts that we really wanted to see next were both at the Everglades stage, we moved up really close after the GBA's to set up camp. After smoking tough, I wandered around by myself and caught JJ Grey and Mofro. JJ Grey is the self-appointed redneck surfer who got to travel the world in his quest for good surf. Along the way, he picked up a few instruments and at any given time he can play guitar, piano, harmonica, bass and drums. In addition, he's a lyrical master and has a better than average voice.

I caught one song at Perpetual Groove. They're one of many bands that broke out of the Athens, GA scene and these guys have gotten notoriety over their live shows. You never know what you are going to get. P-Groove is an eclectic mix of psychedelic jazz, indie prog rock, R&B, and trance electronica.

We skipped Blackalicious and Michael Franti although we could hear the music from both stages during a break or a lull in the music. They were both scheduled against Medeski Martin & Wood. The NYC trio have been sharing their original sound for almost fifteen years which includes over ten albums. They began as an acoustic trio (bass, piano, drums) in the early 1990s, but John Medeski found it difficult lugging a piano around for gigs outside of the city. That's when he added a Hammond organ and the rest is history. Chris Wood plays both electric bass and the traditional stand up bass while Billy Martin keeps the pace on drums.

Wood & Medeski

Martin & Wood

Martin, Wood & Medeski

I thought that MMW's set at Vegoose featuring Maceo Parker was one of the highlights of Vegoose, so I made an effort to see them again this time around. Since I've seen MMW over fifty times, they are one band that usually gets passed over at music festivals so I can get a chance to see other acts. That's how I felt about The Slip and Soulive on Day 2.

We also skipped The Disco Biscuits from Philly in order to catch My Morning Jacket and their two hour set. The Joker said that the show he caught the night before was average so we wouldn't be missing much. Besides, the last three MMJ shows that I saw blew me away. Last year's late night set at Bonnaroo hooked me, along with a sizzling show at Roseland Ballroom in NYC and an epic show at the Fillmore in San Francisco for New Year's Eve. I don't throw around the term "my new favorite band" too lightly. And without a doubt, thanks to Lori, I have been extremely fortunate to stumble upon those guys from Kentucky who remind me of a Southern-fried version of AC/DC. I love the fact that some of the guys in the band look like Pablo and the drummer could win an AlCantHang look-a-like contest.

By the time MMJ took the stage, Wilkins and his crew from Hilton Head joined forces with our base camp. We had ten or so people as we blocked off a nice area to dance and party. MMJ opened up with their standard show-starter of One Big Holiday. Wilkins was floored because his band back in South Carolina actually covers that MMJ song! Next up were some heavy hitters with Wonderful Man, Dancefloors, and Lowdown. The middle of the set was delicious with Wordless Chorus, Phone Went West, Cobra, Golden, and Dondonte. They closed the set with Gideon and Off the Record plus another song we couldn't figure out the name to, so we just jotted down the opening lyrics in our notebooks, "Oh she ha...!"

Jim James

Jim James, the lead singer and guitar player for MMJ, wore moon boots and bounced back and forth onstage like an eight year old jacked up on sugar corn pops and ritalin. His voice is unique and I don't know too many guys who can nail those high notes with such ease. He played one song by himself with his acoustic guitar. I dunno if it was Kentucky to Nashville or "Don't Call Me Out" which I had scribbled down in my notes. By that point things were fuzzy.

The band returned for the last 15 minutes of the set and blazed away with the crowd-pleaser Mahgeetah where several thousand fans were jumping up and down in sync with Jim James the super freak. When the set end, the Joker and I agreed that MMJ was the highlight of both days at Langerado and that all the bands playing on Day 3 will have a ton of work ahead of them if they want to replicate the energy and intensity of MMJ's set. Trey's set felt stale compared to the soul crushing tunes that MMJ busted out.

Day 2 was a short day that featured an acquisition of bunk doses, but the weather was amazing with plenty of sun and lots of breezes. The day was anchored by the return of the Grey Boy All Stars, Medeski Martin & Wood's slamming set, and the epic MMJ set to close Day 2.

Two days down, one remaining.

Here are some random Day 2 pics:

Don't throw away Pablo!

MLB's station

Hot air balloon rides

My Morning Jacket
My Morning Jacket Langerado Setlist

This is incomplete! Alas, no covers but the boys cranked out an ass-shaking two-hour set.

Set 1: One Big Holiday, What a Wonderful Man, Dancefloors, Lowdown, Laylow, Wordless Chorus, Phone Went West, Cobra, Golden, Dondonte, ???, Gideon, Off the Record, "Oh she ha...."

Encore: "Don't Call Me Out" (Jim James solo acoustic), It's Not the Beat, Mahgeetah, Anytime

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Langerado Day 1 Recap

I had never done the Langerado Music Festival in Sunrise, Florida, but was excited to do so considering the lineup which featured over a dozen of my favorite bands. Since I wouldn't get to attend Bonnaroo this summer, I welcomed the sunny three-day music festival held in Markham Park in Florida with open arms. In the last nine months, I've been fortunate to see several of the largest music festivals in the world including Bonnaroo (June 2006), Vegoose (October 2006), Big Day Out in Australia (Jan. 2007), and now Langerado.

Day 1's lineup included nine band and acts that I got to soak up such as The Heavy Pets, Dubconcious, Lotus, Tea Leaf Green, New Monsoon, North Mississippi All Stars, Galactic, Bela Fleck, and Trey Anastasio. A few bands that I wanted to see on Day 1 but had to skip due to scheduling conflicts included STS9, Stephen Malkus and The Jicks, The Hold Steady, and moe.

We had the usual suspects for this event. Nicky flew out from Hollyweird. The Joker came down from Boulder, CO. Professional Keno Player Neil Fontenot and myself joined the crew as were ready to party it up for another music festival. We had special guests such as Sweet Sweet Pablo and his buddy Chris. The night before, we attended two pre-festival concerts to start the festivities on Thursday and caught a Trey Anastasio Band show at Revolution in downtown Ft. Lauderdale, followed up with a late night set of STS9.

On Friday morning, we all eventually met up at Denny's at 10am for breakfast, which was right next to Pablo's hotel. We headed to his room for a session before we drove over to the festival. It took less then a half hour to drive to Markham Park and park our rented Jeep. We lathered up with sunscreen, hid our stash, and headed into the festival.

Professional Keno Player Neil Fontenot tends to wander off at this events. Sometimes we don't see him for hours at a time. He split off right away to hustle some of the spun out crusty STS9 kids in various illegal dice games in the camping grounds.

Security was light and we got a schedule on our way inside. There were three stages laid out in a large rectangle the size of several football fields. Surrounding the stages were various vendors. We were there so early that we got to catch the first two bands playing. I over-estimated how long it would take us to get into the show.

The Heavy Pets played at the Swamp Tent. The Heavy Pets are a local band who won a slot at Langerado through a contest. The squeaked in and ended up opening Day 1. They described themselves as "progressive, high-energy, guitar-driven rock n roll, to funky reggae, to inspired, reflective folk music." We caught a couple of songs and headed over to see Dubconcious, a reggae band from Athens, GA that I had seen a few times before. Those musicians truly believe that their music (and all music for that matter) has healing and emotional energy attached to it.

We headed over to the Swamp Tent and timed how long it would take to walk back and forth between stages. The Sunset Stage was exactly in the middle of the fairgrounds with the Everglades Stage on the far right side and the Swamp Tent near the entrance. It took less than ten minutes for the walk and we expected that it would take up to 15 minutes during the most crowded moments.

The Swamp Tent gave us plenty of shade. Daddy turned me onto Lotus and I've been able to catch them a few times. They are a five piece band from Philly that falls into the same category as STS9, Particle, and New Deal... they are musicians who play and replicate techno/club/dance/electronica music with regular instruments. I wanted to see their entire set, but they were up against Tea Leaf Green.

Tea Leaf Green

If it weren't for My Morning Jacket, TLG would have won Pauly's favorite new band award for 2006. The San Francisco based band has been winning over the hearts of many youngsters in the jam band scene while picking up critical acclaim from the music pundits with regard to their songwriting. Lead vocalist Trevor Garrod, who also plays keys and harmonica, is the heart and soul of the band. TLG busted out two of my favorites, The Garden, Part 3 and Taught to Be Proud.

We headed over to see New Monsoon. Nicky was skiddish because she hates any band with a banjo in it. She and the Joker wandered around the vendors while I stuck around by myself and watched their set. Also hailing from San Francisco, I last saw New Monsoon at Knit Ball in LA last spring. They are an interesting mix of reggae, folk, country, funk, and rock. The band members play a variety of instruments ranging from Latin, Brazilian and Indian percussion, drum set, didgeridoo, electric and acoustic guitars, banjo, mandolin, bass and keyboards. They invited sax player Jeff Kaufman to sit in for a few songs. They also busted out a Led Zeppelin cover of Bron-Y-Aur Stomp which energized everyone in the crowd. The Joker returned and told me about the food he ate, while Nicky showed off her new tapestry (aka concert blanket). It had dancing Grateful Dead bears on it.

Next up was the North Mississippi All Stars. I fuckin' love Luther Dickson's chops on guitar. Wherever the NMA play, they bring good old fashioned Mississippi Delta blues to the party. Chris Chew on bass is one of my favorite musicians on the scene. He's a massive black dude who plays a bass that looks like is 18 feet long.


We skipped the end of NMA and headed back to the Sunset Stage to scout out a good spot for Galactic. At that time, Pablo and Chris were having a slight delay. Pablo locked his keys in his car and had to wait to get them out. My buddy Wilkins had just arrived and we miraculously found each other during Galactic. Their set was better than average. At Vegoose, they had a series of special guests many of which were hip hop artists. They cut an album featuring several legends of hip hop, but the Langerado gig was old school Galactic.

Their Langerado set was similar to the songs they played during the Colorado run where I caught them three times at the end of the summer. The boys from New Orleans all walked out on stage wearing sunglasses (except drummer Stanton Moore who is an alien and does not need shades to protect his eyes from the sun). They opened up with FEMA, a hard driving slam-funk song with dark political overtones. They also managed to weave in classics such as Crazy Horse Mongoose and Black Eyed Pea, along with Spiderbite and a sizzling rendition of Led Zepplin's Immigrant Song to close the set. My buddy Wilkins left Galactic early and headed over to see Brooklyn indie rockers The Hold Steady. I almost went but was glad I stayed to catch Immigrant Song.

I walked over to the food vendors and skipped the alligator meat and opted for a cheeseburger instead, which would be the only food I'd eat inside at Day 1. I managed to drop $40 bucks or so on water and Gatorade. I only drank one beer and concentrated on smoking tough. We found a decent spot for Bela Fleck & the Flecktones and eventually Pablo arrived with Chris. Bela Fleck's highlight was a smooth cover of the Beatles' Come Together.

The Joker headed over to meet friends from Colorado at the media tent where Trey was giving his press conference. He returned with a couple of adderrals and I popped a half of a pill. It didn't do much overall because I was so tired that it just sort of evened things out for me.

Once Bela Fleck cleared out, we decided to skip Moe and Stephen Malkus' set in order to get a great spot for Trey. The Joker led the way towards the stage and we found ourselves in the middle about 15 rows back. Perfect spot. Anything closer and we'd be crushed. We waited an hour for Trey's set. He was slated to close Day 1 with a two hour set and going up against STS9, which we had all seen the night before.

Sober Trey

Trey Anastasio Band came on exactly at 8pm and he set the scene with his opening song, Shine. He opened with Shine the night before which meant that we were going to see some repeats. Shine is a song that The Joker and I make fun of a lot. It seemed like Trey's weak attempt to write a pop song. It actually got plenty of radio air play when his first solo album (post-Phish breakup) was released and they even shot a live video of the song from Red Rocks. Alas, we're not big fans of Shine yet sing along anyway.

I wanted to hear Alive Again and it was one of six songs that Trey did not play on Thursday. I'm sure than only a handful of people saw him the night before and he decided to take the risk and double up on songs because his band probably doesn't know his entire material well enough to do random bust outs and covers. Trey was also very careful to not play any Phish songs. Although First Tube was popular tune played often by Phish (and appeared on Farmhouse), its origins were with TAB.

The highlight of Trey's set was Mud City with Aaron Neville sitting in on keys and First Tube to close the set. He encored with an above average Drifting. During the walk out I commented how it was a below average Trey show and an average Day 1. We definitely had better moments at different festivals. I also knew that I can't judge the entire Langerado on just the first day of a three day festival. Alas, I left feeling fortunate that I got to see nine different bands. However, I also left knowing that nothing really blew me away. Hopefully that's what Day 2 is for.

Here are some random photos from Day 1:

Sweet Sweet Pablo