Tuesday, October 30, 2007


By Pauly
Melbourne, Australia

I'm done with my last work assignment for 2007. I get the next two months off and will be enjoying every moment away from poker.

I'll be in Australia for another eight days before I fly back to Hollyweird. Going to take some time and explore a little bit. First up is a drive along the Great Ocean Road. We rented a car and Nicky drove on the other side of the road yesterday. She said it was weird.

I'll take some pictures of the Great Ocean Road and post them here and over at my Flickr account. We're also going to visit Philip Island so I can show Nicky a bunch of kangaroos, penguins, and koala bears. Then we'll visit friends in Sydney before we return home. Australia is one of the most amazing places I had ever visited. I'm lucky that I get to come back in two months to cover the Aussie Millions.

I'm excited to unplug for a few days. I forgot to set up call forwarding before I left the States. That ended up being a blessing since my cell phone has not been ringing off the hook like it usually does. Peace and quiet. Finally.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Random Poker Photography Pic Dump

By Pauly
Melbourne, Australia

Here are some of my favorite poker themed photos that I took the last couple of days while covering the Poker News Cup...

Andi Lew (she's famous down under) presenting the Poker News Cup with Ozzie praying the background

Poker blogger JL514 flipping me the bird as he gets make up during the taping of the TV table


One of my favorite pics... big stack vs. big stack

Sam Khouiss mucking his hand

Diamonds on the flop...

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Fall Back, Fall Back

By Pauly
Melbourne, Australia

Daylight savings time happened last night. I lost an hour of sleep. In the middle of covering a poker tournament, that's crucial. I needed every free minute I can to rest up, relax, and sleep.

My neck bothered me the last two days. When I was in London, John Duthie (creator of the European Poker Tour and former British TV director) and I had an odd conversation about necks and backs. Whenever he plays poker, it's not unusual to see him playing with a masseuse rubbing him down for several consecutive hours. He said that he's on a laptop a lot and spending a substantial time in an editing room and those two things affected his neck, shoulders, and back. His doctor knew right away that he spent too much time at a laptop since our bodies aren't designed to do that type of work.

No wonder I'm so achy after long assignments.

My neck had been flaring up the last few days. It's stiff and sore. I popped 1.5 Vicodins last night before I went to bed to help soothe the pain. I think that attributed to more weird dreams.

I've been popping something every night before I crash. One night it was a muscle relaxer. A couple of nights it was Xanax. And then Unisom and Ambien. The combination of the pharmies and the mystical energy of Oz combines and the result are vivid dreams.

Earlier this morning, I had several. One involved taking JoeSpeaker's son, AJ, to a Yankees game. Except it was old Yankee Stadium from back in the day when Mickey Mantle played. I kept losing AJ, only to find him after a frenzied search. I caught a foul ball and threw it back on the field. A fat guy next to me made fun of the way I threw.

I also had another dream where I went to a dive bar in downtown Seattle with BG, Bobby Bracelet, and Bobby's girlfriend Lil Bitchmore. I ordered cheese nachos with bolognese sauce... and extra cheese. I went to the bathroom and the urinals were the sink. There was a band playing and they asked me to run the lights and soundboard because their guy was arrested at the last minute for being a deadbeat dad. I kept dropping the bass player from the mix and his girlfriend would not stop bitching at me to turn him up.

The last dream I had involved a friend from college. Gitty drove an old white Colt. We were driving around in the rain and he was making the most precise hairpin turns. We were making deliveries of some sort. The addresses would pop up on my iPod screen and we'd go to drop off the packages that cluttered in his back seat, underneath old fast food wrappers like Taco Bell and Burger King. One time, we got lost in a housing subdivision were all the houses look the same, kind of like the housing development in Weeds.

No spottings of Hugh Douglas in the latest dream sessions.

Anyway, back in real life, Saturday was the first time in a week that I had more than one meal! I ate a healthy breakfast before the work day began. I also ate a ham & cheese panini for dinner. My dessert was a chocolate canoli. It felt good to have a proper meal schedule once again.

I've been betting a lot the last few days on Australian hoops and on hockey in Sweden. Don't ask. My mutual funds had a great week. Finally. I'm up for the week,e specially after I did a coin flip for $2,000 with Schecky. He had just won $30K after winning one of the preliminary events in the Poker News Cup and offered up a coin flip. Like I had been doing in the past, I requested a coin that had kangaroos on one of the faces of the coin. Then I picked kangaroos. It came up kangaroos and I won. Again. It's been a good week, despite the lack of sleep and food.

By the way, I posted some photos that I took yesterday. They look good only because of Shronk's amazing camera. Head over to Tao of Poker to see my poker photos.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Go Schecky and I'm a Stud

By Pauly
Melbourne, Australia

My good friend (and boss) won a tournament last night. Schecky took down Event #4 of the Poker News Cup for a nice $30K first place prize. We gave him shit last week before his wife, the lovely Jen Leo, won a tournament at the Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas and he had nothing to show for it... until now. Schecky answered us by winning an event in Australia.

Here's the picture I took moments after his victory. Several co-workers from Poker News are in the photo.

I've covered hundreds of poker tournaments but this was the first time a close friend won one. Nice job, Schecky!

* * * * *

I dropped a few pounds sine my arrival. Eating one meal a day will do that to you. Last night, Nicky asked, "Where did your belly go?"

Been too busy to eat which is why I've been feeling sluggish. It seemed like I worked longer hours during my assignment in Oz in January, but I managed to squeeze in two meals per day. These days, I can only manage one.

I finally got some sleep. Six hours last night. That's double the norm for me. Imagine getting 14-16 hours if you sleep a regular 7-8 hour day. That's why I got. Schecky gave me an Ambien and I got six straight. Unreal. I felt like a new man when I woke up.

I forgot the World Series was on TV (it comes on at 10am in Oz). I didn't bother to put it on. Instead, I watched NHL hockey and The Blues Brothers. I forgot how much I loved that movie.

FYI, Shronk is the nut low. He asked me to write that. Weird, I know.

* * * * *

Michele Lewis, a friend of mine from Texas, recently interviewed me for her Studs of Poker column. I was flattered that she picked me! Check out Tao of Poker Creator, Pauly, Is a Stud.

Although it's my day off, I had to help out with work. I wanted to play poker, but that didn't happen. Instead I put in a few extra hours. For free of course. Three more days of work, then I'm done. For the entire year. Two months off. I definitely need the break.

I bumped into Aussie Smurf. He's an avid reader from Melbourne and had a work function at the casino. He found me and was kind enough to buy me a shout (or a round as they call it down under). Great conversation for sure.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Dreams; Sweet Sweet Pablo, the Tokyo Subway, and Hugh Douglas

By Pauly
Melbourne, Australia

I'm sniffing a whiteboard marker to staw awake. My latest addiction is the Artline 500A blak marker. Someone left it in media row and I've been taking off the cap at random moments to catch a whiff. The smell is intoxicating and keeps me up.

I worked until past 5am last night and had to be back at 12:30pm. I was so busy yesterday that I had to miss dinner. Again. I ate an omelet yesterday for breakfast around 11:30am. In the last 26 hours, I have only eaten a bag of potato chips. I'm fuckin' starving. Over the last 100 hours, I've only eaten two slices of pizza, a piece of chocolate mud cake, a cheeseburger and fries, along with the chips and omelete. Sometimes, I just don't have time to eat and when I get off of work, mostly since everything is closed.

It was sun up when I got off work last night. I walked through the almost empty casino (aside from a few degenerates at the slot nachines) on the way back to my room. I barely logged a couple of hours of sleep but in that short time, I managed to have a few weird dreams.

I cannot explain why... but I have vivid dreams in Australia. It has to do with the energy and location of the country. One of my co-workers Cory-Ann thinks it's because we're upside down on Earth.

A couple of summers ago during the WSOP in Las Vegas, I worked with a woman named Ali, who's from Sydney, Australia. Everyday she'd tell me these wild dreams which she had. A lot of them involved her dog. She kept a dream journal and when she woke up in the middle of the night, she'd scribble the details down and go back to sleep. She'd show me her dream journal every morning and she couldn't explain why she experienced such enriched dreams. I told her that perhaps the stimuli from being in Las Vegas might have triggered something.

Last January when I visited Australia for the first time, I had a lot of odd dreams that seemed to last for hours and hours on end, but in reality only lasted a couple of minutes. There's something about this place which messes with my head. I cannot explain it but Oz affects the inner workings of my mind.

The other night I had a dream where I was at my friends Garcie and Pablo's house. Nicky was there along with my brother. Pablo walked into the living room playing a diggery doo. We were drinking punch out of plastic cups and waiting to go out to dinner but then the power went out in their house. There was a blackout and we found candles to light. I kept burning my fingers holidng the candles.

Last night (or I should say, a couple of hours ago), I had another series of weird dreams. One invovled me riding a subway in Tokyo and I couldn't figure out which stop I had to get off. I kept walking from car to car and each one was a different color. I realized the cars were actually different subway lines. If you have ever been to Tokyo, their subway lines are color coated which made it easy for me to navigate when I went there back in 2000.

My other dream invovled my buddy TC from Seattle. We were driving around his hometown in Connecticut. We stopped off at a WalMart and a kid from my highschool was folding towels and putting them on a shelf. I had not seen him since 1990. He told me that his wife and kids died in a fire in New Jersey and he started using heroin and crystal meth. He went to rehab in Connecticut to sober up and they made him take a part time job.

After WalMart, TC and I drove to New Haven and we went into a Barnes and Nobles. I bought several books on quantum physics especially about string theory. I bumped into an ex-girlfriend and we started walking around talking about the books I read. She was shoplifting some of the titles I mentioned like Cat's Cradle and Flowers for Algernon. She stuffed them into her purse but I pretended not to notice.

On the way out of the store, my brother stood in front. Some local kids asked us if we wanted to buy some pot. We bought a few bags and one of them sold my brother a couple of joints. We lit them up and went back inside the Barnes and Nobles. One of the security guards grabbed me and told me that I couldn't smoke pot inside. So I put the joint out with my shoe and then started chewing the joint to get high. He kicked me out of the store.

I walked down the road and hitched a ride. I got on a bus full of little kids that were going to the beach. It was a summer camp for retarded kids and I sat up front taking turns driving the bus with a big black guy who looked like Hugh Douglas, who used to play for the Jets and the Eagles. That's when I realized it was Hugh Douglas.

That's when the alarm clock went off and I woke up. What the fuck was I doing on a bus full of retards with Hugh Douglas? What does it all mean?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The First Oz Pic Dump

By Pauly
Melbourne, Australia

Here are some pics that I took over the last few days...

Downtown Melbourne from the Yarra River

Jules & Graham' puppy.... Moe

Everyone loves puppies....

Aussie pizza with bacon

Tree frogs

Jellyfish at the Aquarium

White Stripes


Kind of Blue

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Rhino Down Under

By Pauly
Melbourne, Australia

I walked into the Spearmint Rhino in Melbourne around 4:45pm to check out the afternoon shift. And I was there on work purposes too. I tagged along with Jonno and Shronk, who were shooting a video for Poker News. I didn't really need to be there, but I went anyway. I had to investigate the afternoon shift. Sometimes, life can be good.

There was a DVD release party thrown by a wealthy Aussie who put out a series of instructional poker videos that happened to be shot at the Rhino. While I was there, I bumped into a fan of the Tao of Poker. In a strip club. In Australia. Too bad it wasn't a stripper. Instead, it was a degenrate poker player. Go figure.

I worked until past 4am last night and eventually crashed at 6am. I was up by 10:30am to watch the Monday Night Football game, which airs on TV in Australia on Tuesday mornings.

I took two sleeping pills before I went to bed to make sure I stayed asleep for a few hours. I woke up extremely groggy and had to take a piss. I stumbled into the bathroom and could not turn on the light because I was so wasted I kept flicking the wrong switch. I gave up and pissed in the dark. I ended up missing the toilet completely. I pissed all over the floor of the bathroom. I tried to clean it up. Of course, I half-assed that job and tossed a towel on the floor and just left it there. Nicky told me that I didn't clean all of it up because she accidently stepped in it when she eventually woke up.

Since I didn't have to work until late afternoon, I had free time to write after the game ended. Once I was done, I played some online poker and quit with a $65 profit. I went down to the sportsbook in the casino and looked for anything to bet on. I'm a complete degenrate. I was betting on greyhound racing that was simulcast from South Africa. Or maybe it was New Zealand? Who cares. I lost $20. My dogs came in second and third.

My short break is over. Back to the grind. I expect to be working until sunrise again. Maybe tomorrow I'll post some pics that I took since I arrived in Oz.

Monday, October 22, 2007


By Pauly
Melbourne, Australia

It's 10:21pm on Monday night and I'm dead tired. I got 90 minutes of sleep last night. I had problems sleeping. I tried to sleep but I had too many thoughts rattling around my head about the latest online poker scandal. My head was on the pillow and Nicky was fast asleep, but my mind was cranking... and I was writing a draft internally. At that point, I jumped out of bed and headed to the laptop. I wrote something that I didn't like and started from scratch. Next I knew, it was sunrise. You can read that post called Cheaters, Thieves, and Angle Shooters.

I had the TV on in the background. I had to watch the Tampa Bay/Detroit game because that's what Fox Sports was showing at the time. It was weird watching the NFL at 5am on a Monday, but that's what I was doing.

I tried to sleep and no such luck. Nicky woke up at 10am and I watched Sunday night football. ESPN-Australia aired the NBC feed so I watched the Denver/Pittsburgh game and switched back and forth with the ALCS game 7. I had money on the Indians. The money line was +160 for them to win the series and I dropped a grand on the tribe. It looked like a lock a few days ago when they were up 3-1. But the Sox won three straight and my bet went south. Quickly.

I'm at work right now, on a break. Looks like I'll be working to 3 or 4am. I can't wait to sleep.

By the way, I was asked by a friend of mine to particpate in something called The Well. Tom Murphy is a friend of mine that I met several years ago through poker. He's from Ireland and runs a site called Antes Up which caters to Irish poker players. He also runs a forum and they have a running series called The Well, where they invite someone in and their members ask a series of questions. Sometimes it last for a few days. Sometimes it lasts for over a week. The questions start out with basic poker stuff and eventually branch out into other topics.

Anyway, check out my session in The Well.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

hollyweird > melbourne

By Pauly
Melbourne, Australia

Nicky and I were booked on a 11:40pm Quantas flight. We spent most of the morning in Hollyweird prepping for our trip doing some last minute laundry and packing. I always eat at Nick's coffeeshop on my last day in California before I head back out on the road. It's a personal tradition and we wandered in for breakfast around 11am. I always tip their staff very well when I'm in town. They were happy to see me since I had not been there in several months.

After packing all of our stuff, we had several hours to kill. I suggested a flick. We decided upon Darjeeling Limited which is Wes Anderson's latest film. I loved all his previous work including Rushmore, Bottle Rocket, and The Royal Tennenbaums. I absolutely hated Life Aquatic.

We headed over to Century City which is an outdoor mall with a giant AMC movie theatre. Last time Nicky was there, she saw NPH (a.k.a. Doogie Howser or Neil Patrick Harris) walking out of Borders. As I rounded the corner, I nearly bumped into a woman pushing a baby stroller. It was Posh Spice with a bodyguard at her side. She didn't look as emaciated as you see in all those tabloid photos. I was bummed out that her BFF Katie Holmes was not with her.

Usually, Nicky and I have celebrity sightings at The Grove. The two most random were Rachel Bilson in the elevator and Frankie Munoz in the garage. Anyway, I caught a glimpse of one of the Spice Girls as we headed into the flick. The Joker was disappointed that I didn't heckle her.

In Darjeeling Limited, there's a full on ass-shot of Natalie Portman within the first five minutes of the film. That was the highlight. Everything else was shot on location in India. I didn't like it as much as Into the Wild which I saw the night before. But it definitely sat better with me more so than Life Aquatic.

We had our last meal at Zankou Chicken before Showcase took us to LAX. The check-in line was massive. We arrived 2.5 hours early and Nicky got fucked over. All they had was a middle seat for her and we weren't even seated together since we booked separately. The flight was full and they could not even seat us together. She went on minor tilt and managed to get it together. I asked about how much would it be to upgrade to business class. Heck, if it was within reason (under $1,000 US) I would have gotten her bumped up. Sadly, it was close to 4K and I declined.

I popped a Xanax shortly fater take-off. It only mellowed me out and didn't make me fall asleep. Instead, I stayed up for the majority of the 15 hour flight. I'd doze off for about 15-20 minute intervals every other hour. I got about 2 hours of total slumber. I fell asleep at the end of Ocean's 13.

Quantas has a personal video system with tons of movies, music, and TV shows which kept me sane. I also watched Spiderman 3 and two documentaries. One was The U.S. versus John Lennon, which detailed his deportation trial in the early 1970s after he started supporting big figures in the anti-war movement such as Bobby Seale from the Black Panthers. I also watched a documentary on the life of French painter Toulouse-Latrec, the short dude who lived in brothels in Paris, where he painted plenty of hookers. My kind of artist.

I watched two episodes each of The Office (UK) and The Office (US). I caught a couple of travel pieces on New Zealand and Australia as well. I thought I might read my book on Miles Davis or write. I did neither.

Our flight arrived in Melbourne ten minutes early. Immigration was a breeze, but we were flagged at customs. I wrote down on my entry card that I was staying at the Crown Casino and that got both Nicky and I sent to a line where my bags were inspected. I thought they were swabbing it for explosives. It happened the last time I was in OZ and happens from time to time during random searches at different airports. The customs agent told me that he was looking for drugs and asked if I had been in contact with drugs. I said no. Then, he asked me how much cash I had on me. I told him a few grand. He wanted to know if it was more than $10,000. It wasn't so he let us go. I had nothing to worry about, but it delayed out entry into Melbourne by fifteen minutes.

We arrived at the hotel/casino at 10am. Check-in time is around 2pm and lucky for us, our room was available. I thought that I was going to crash for a couple of hours. I popped two Xanax and didn't fall asleep until almost noon. We both slept to 6pm and wasted the entire afternoon. I guess we were tired. We had to meet work friends for dinner at 8:30. We showered and I took Nicky on a quick tour of the casino. The Crown is massive and the largest casino in the Southern Hemisphere. It's also the most Las Vegas style casino that I have ever been to outside of the US. Most of the European casinos are tiny and the vibe makes you feel like you don't belong. The Crown reminded me of Las Vegas.

We met up with Schecky and two other people I work with, Gaz and Cory-Ann, who are both Aussies. Gaz is a big swinging dick in Australia and he got us a table at Nobu, which was booked for months in advance. I had only been to Nobu once in my life (in NYC many moons ago).

Here's how Nicky described the meal:
For the first course, we had sashimi tacos, filled with lobster, crab, salmon, and whitefish topped with a spicy salsa, as well as Nobu's signature yellowtail carpaccio with ponzu and jalapeno slices. Heaven. Next, we were served a plate of oysters topped with a nest of crispy onion and caviar. I'm not even a big oyster fan but these were absolutely sublime. Two signature Nobu dishes arrived for the second course—crispy rock shrimp (Schecky's personal favorite) and the black miso-glazed cod. That cod is a desert island dish for me-- the fish was sweet, perfectly prepared, and melted in my mouth.

For the main course, we were each served a trio of beef. On the left was a dumpling with sesame sauce, in the middle were miso-glazed slices of kobe beef, and on the right was a skewer of kobe in a spicy chili sauce. As if that weren't enough, the chef prepared us a Waygu steak topped with onions and shiitakes. Waygu is like, beyond Kobe. It is the absolute pinnacle of quality, as our server explained...
Head over to her blog to see pics of our Nobu experience. And yeah, it was one of the Top 10 meals in my life. I thought kobe beef was the shit until I tasted the waygu. Unreal.

We had a few cocktails after our three-hour dinner and eventually passed out. On our second day in Oz, we had a couple of hours to kill before an afternoon work meeting. We walked around Southbank area and Nicky wanted to check out the aquarium. I went there twice in January and it's a fun place. We watched divers feed the manta rays and sharks.

After our work meeting, I went looking for a bottle shop to buy a couple of bottles of wine. My friends Jules and Graham lived about 15 minutes away and invited us over to their house for a home-cooked meal. When I was in Melbourne in January, Jules fired up the BBQ and I had my first Aussie BBQ experience. She traveled a lot for work in the past and knew the value and importance of a home-cooked meal when you're on the road. That's why I couldn't wait to head back.

She prepped a chicken with potatoes, onions, and bacon! She was kind enough to exclude veggies from my plate. We sat around and drank several bottles of Shiraz while Jules and Graham showed off their new dog as we caught up on my previous travels. We eventually stumbled out of their house after Midnight and passed out as soon as we got back to the casino.

I have not gambled. Yet. I might play some poker if I can squeeze it in over the next few days. Otherwise, I'm going to bet on some NFL games. There are three Fox sports stations in addition to ESPN. Fox Sports 3 shows lots of American sports like hockey, baseball, and football.

It's officially Sunday morning in Australia, and I start work in a few hours. I have to work everyday for the next nine days. My schedule is 6pm to 4 or 5am aside from a few days when I have to work noon to 4 or 5am (like today).

I'll post pics when I can.

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.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

nyc > hollyweird

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

"It's nice to see a man with a backpack," the driver said.

I usually have a regular driver to the airport. He looks like Big Pussy from the Sopranos and drops an f-bomb every fourth word. I requested him when I called the car service. They said he wasn't working so they gave me some other dude who looked like former Villanova hoops coach Rollie Massomino. As soon as I walked out to the car, I noticed that he was in a chipper mood for 6:30am on a Monday. He asked me about the back pack and where I was headed.

"Australia," I said.

"Australia? Wow. Never been. What type of work do you do?" he asked.

"I'm a writer," I said.

That opened up the flood gates. Before I could finish the word 'writer' he interrupted.

"Ah, a writer. I'm writing a screenplay based on a poem I wrote. About a sad lounge singer who won't sing anymore because she's depressed."

"That doesn't make sense," I said. "Most lounge singers sing because they are depressed. After all, if they were good enough, they wouldn't be slumming around in some cheesy lounge singing to a bunch of drunks. Now if she quit because she was happy... then you have a story."

"See, that's why you're a writer and I'm a cab driver."

He spoke the entire time about random topics like the CIA, the Bush Junta, and an impending war between China and Russia. Normal Monday morning topics that I usually have with cab drivers who are taking me to JFK.

"China will have a two front attack on Russia," the cabbie mentioned. "They'll go for the obvious move along their border. Then they'll go underground through India and attack the heartland of Mother Russia. They'll capture the bread basket and cut off the food supply."

"Then they'll take all that oil buried underneath Siberia," I added. "So they won't be dependent on the US or the Middle East."

"Great idea, huh?" the cabbie said as we passed over the Triboro Bridge. "And they get to control their population growth. Who cares if they lose a million or so troops. They have 1.2 billion people."

Somewhere on the Van Wyck, my cabbie handed me a copy of his poems. He had them printed up in a small booklet. I was impressed with his presentation.

"I carry them around. You never know who you might meet. I've had random book publishers in my cab so I keep them handy and pass them out."

I meet a lot of random people on the road during my travels. I also meet a lot of closet writers who are working on novels or screenplays. Somehow, they are all convinced that their story has mass market appeal.

Dreamers. It's good to see a dreamer every once in a while. Maybe this guy will do nothing with his lounge singer who doesn't sing concept. Maybe he'll get his book of poems published. Who the hell knows.

I gave him a $20 tip and gave him some advice.

"Start a blog," I said. "It's free."

* * * * *

The lines were out the door at the Jet Blue terminal at JFK. The kiosk self-service machines were down. I liked using that bit of technology since it speeds up the check-in process. Instead, I had to stand in the slow moving lines with the unwashed masses, where a woman blatantly tried to cut in front of me and I called her out on it. She blew up at me. I politely told her if she asked to cut, I would have but since she didn't and tried to shoot an angle, I called her out and embarrassed her in front of a thousand or so passengers.

Nice try, cunt. Now go fuck yourself on the way to the back of the line.

Security lines were also bad. Monday morning at airports are always a fuckin' grind. I eventually made my way inside and stood in my third line of the morning... that time for a chocolate croissant from Aunt Butchie's. They are famous for their chocolate mousse cake but their pastries are top notch. I wandered over to the newsstand and bought the NY Daily News, a bottle of water, and a small snack for the plane ride. Then I found a place to sit down to work on an article for the Swedes.

On my flight to Long Beach, I was seated next to a mother with a small child (like less than six months old). But she was a MILF without a wedding ring, so I was conflicted. Her baby slept all the way through Chicago. Then the baby woke up and cried all the way to Denver.

At one point, I developed gas and the plane was flying through a batch of turbulence, so the seat belt was on and I couldn't go to the bathroom. I made the command decision to unleash a silent but deadly series of farts. I let the baby take the fall and the MILF thought her kid shit himself.

On the second half of my flight, I watched the Dog Whisperer and got hooked. Amazing show. The guy knows how to control dogs. Then I caught up on an Inside the Actors Studio marathon. The episode with Charlie Sheen was great since they talked about some of my favorite flicks such as Platoon, Wall Street, and Major League.

Nicky picked me up at the airport. She was actually on time. She's habitually late for things like airport pickups, so I told her my flight arrived 15 minutes earlier. It worked.

We drove back to the apartment in Beverly Hills and grabbed a bite to eat with Showcase at Swinger's diner. Their waitresses dress up like slutty goth chicks. Ours spaced out a few times. LA waitresses are just unknown actresses who are shitty waitresses.

The table next to us were engrossed in a heated discussion. It was one of your typical deep, meaningful, and intelligent conversations on.... Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan. It was totally cliche... three hipsters in an LA diner spewing off about... absolutely nothing. It made me miss the literate New Yorkers on the subway reading books by Dostoevsky and D.H. Lawrence.

After our mid-afternoon snack, Showcase headed off to an audition for a national beer ad. I relaxed on the couch with Nicky and yanked tubes while I caught up on the entire third season of Weeds, which aside from Entourage, it's one of my favorite shows on cable. How could you not dig the misadventures of a pot-dealing suburban mom? Mary-Louise Parker is outstanding as the single-mom/drug dealer. The cast is peppered with plenty of quirky characters played by veteran actors such as Kevin Nealon and Elizabeth Perkins. One of the Olsen Twins is in this season. She's playing a Jesus Freak who deals weed to other Jesus Freaks. I love it.

Of course, Colorado continued their magical run in the playoffs as the Rockies advanced to the World Series, while the Red Sox dropped a second game to the Cleveland Indians. I bet money on the Indians to win their series and so far the bet is looking good...

Monday, October 15, 2007

Happy Birthday, Derek!

By Pauly
New York City

Photo by Gracie

Today is my brother's birthday. Stop by his blog and send him birthday wishes!

Sunday, October 14, 2007


By Pauly
New York City

I began preparations for a three week trip to Australia. I fly to Hollyweird on Monday then fly to Oz on Wednesday. I have to work for ten days in Melbourne covering the Poker News Cup and then I get 12 off to explore. Nicky is coming with me on this trip and we've been figuring out what to do with our free days. We're going to drive the majestic Great Ocean Road and visit Sydney for a couple of days. We're both returning to Australia in January and we'll work for two weeks for the Aussie Millions and take two or three weeks for some side trips to Byron Bay and New Zealand.

The New Zealand leg of this trip was canceled a couple of weeks ago. I had Moscow and now New Zealand canceled. I had mix feelings for both. Sure, I wanted to go, but I was physically tired and mentally drained from all of this recent travel. If New Zealand happened, I would have lost a week of writing. If Moscow went down, I'd have to skip Turkey Day. We're going to add New Zealand to our trip in January, so everything worked out for the best.

I finished a batch of laundry and will pack my bag later tonight. Shit, three weeks is a short trip compared to the six-week European sojourn or the two months in Las Vegas this summer. I have everything else all set up and rented a global phone so all my calls will be forwarded. The process worked during my six weeks in Europe... except that it was extremely expensive.

I also reloaded my iPod with a batch of fresh music. I've been digging The Duo Tones, which is two acoustic guitar players. I stumbled upon the them by sheer accident. Their Surf Music Unplugged is perfect writing music. Amazing stuff.

I have also been on a Medeski, Martin, and Wood kick including all of their side projects. John Scofield frequently sits in with the Brooklyn-based trio. He cut an album with them after their tour of Japan together. I have been getting into Chris Wood's side project with his brother Oliver aptly called The Wood Brothers. And when The Wood Brothers are on tour, the other two-thirds of MMW, got together and continued to create music. That's where Mago comes in. I've been writing to those guys all week long.

Just when I get used to having a daily schedule, I have to hit the road again. The last two weeks have been highly productive but relaxing at the same time. I started a new freelance project with a Swedish gaming company. I also caught up on my other projects and blogs without having the pressure to rush my work. I was able to take my time and write when inspiration struck instead of forcing myself to write, which is what has happened for the majority of this year. I work better when the words flow naturally. The articles I wrote in New York over the last two weeks are some of the best stuff that I wrote this year.

I also got to watch a ton of sports. Sure the Yankees blew another October post-season but it simply felt great to watch those games with my brother. Even though the Jets suck, I'm thrilled to watch ever down on Derek's couch. The NHL season kicked off and even though the Rangers won their first game, and can't score a lick, it's still fun to get to watch those games again. I missed sports. Especially New York sports and watching my teams with my brother.

I'm looking forward for the three weeks after my trip is over where I'll be able to spend more time in NYC and set aside a large chunk of time to finish up the project with the Swedes and do some personal writing.

I wanted to write yesterday but I'm sick. At first I thought it was allergies. Then the weather abruptly changed from the 80s to the low 50s. My body got caught up in the mix. I woke up on Friday with a nasty head cold. It's been lingering since then. Better now, than when I get to Australia.

The hardest part about writing when I have a cold is gravity. A nasal drip falls right onto the keyboard. Sometimes I'm so stubborn or caught up in the zone of writing that I ignore what's happened and a waterfall of snot tumbles out of my nostrils and runs down my face and chin. A small pool collects on my laptop and I ignore it. The words are more important that bodily fluid. That's dedication to one's craft.

I wrote a check for almost $19,000. That was not the largest check I ever wrote. I sent the IRS a fatter check this year for taxes, which completely pained me to write. The one I cut this week went to pay off my school loan. I'm officially out of debt. I simply stopped paying my loan in 1999. It went into default and no less than a dozen collection agencies tried to get me to pay. While that went down, interest accumulated. By the time the Department of Education stepped in, the juice was almost 50%. I sat down with them and worked out a deal. I'd make small payments of $300 a month for a full year as I rehabilitated my loan. Once that process was complete, they would reinstate my loan (and be able to sell it). That finally happened. The new lender jacked up my interest rate so I decided to pay it in full. Now I am 100% debt free and I have one less bill to worry about.

I never thought I would see the day when that happened. I honestly thought the only way I'd get out of debt as a writer is when I sold my first screenplay. The last two years has been a tremendous ride and I finally started making some money, enough to pay off my school loans. I took a job on Wall Street right after 9.11 because I thought that was the fastest way for me to earn enough money to get out of debt. When I left in 2003, I figured that I'd be carrying around debt for the rest of my life. Four years later... the impossible happened. All because of something called the Tao of Poker.

Everyone has one idea inside them. The million dollar idea. I stumbled upon mine by pure accident. The blog that started out with a handful of readers (Senor, Derek, and Jerry). Then poker exploded. Talk about being in the right place at the right time. I went from an unknown to one of the top writers in my genre in just a couple of years. I've been traveling and working so much that I don't realize what really has happened the last few years. It wasn't until I wrote that check to pay off my loan when it all hit me.

I'm living the dream.

I'm also a free man. I'm no longer obligated to play the game anymore. The man doesn't hold debts over my head to keep me in check. I managed to get debt-free by working outside the system, something that is extremely rare. No debts. No mortgages. No car payments. Shit, I don't even pay rent because I'm on the road so much.

In the last three years, I saved up enough money where I can quit writing in the poker industry today and take four years off to write and set up another studio in New York City. I created a safety net or a golden parachute. If I wanted to live in a cheaper town in the middle of nowhere, I could have a six or seven year sabbatical to write. Shit, if I moved to Thailand, I could live and write for ten years without having to work a single day.

I saved out of fear more than anything else. I honestly don't know if I will ever make that much again as a writer. Even the best artists, musicians, writers, actors, etc... have a small window where they reached a financial pinnacle. My window has been wide open the last two years but I can see it slowly shutting.

I also don't know if I can breakout into mainstream writing and achieve the tremendous success that has come my way in the poker industry. Poker is a small pond. I'm a big fish. I'm hoping that several business decisions I made over the last few months will allow me to focus on writing and not worry about finances.

I'm stuck in the poker industry for at least another year or so, or until the money dries up. Whichever comes first. I guess that's why I decided to work with the Swedes. It was my way to branch out.

When the time comes for me to leave poker (if it's three days, three months, or three years), I'll take some time off to write a couple of books and a screenplay. That day can't come sooner.

I'm waiting for the time when I can finally say, that this has all been wonderful, but now I'm on my way.

* * * * *

Link of the Day: Hunter Thompson on Films is a collection of clips of journalists at a symposium on the late Hunter S. Thompson. Thanks to Sparky for the heads up.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Bull Riding in Key West

By Pauly
New York City

Some of the gang decided to take on the mechanical bull at Cowboy Bills in Key West.

Click here to view the video via RSS or Bloglines...
Sundays with Dr. Pauly.... an Inside Look

By Pauly
New York City

If you haven't figured it out yet, Sundays with Dr. Pauly is 10 week contest that I'm hosting over at Fantasy Sports Live. If you were hoping for a series of online poker tournaments, well you're shit out of luck. However, if you are a fantasy football junkie and would like a shot at playing against me along with winning some prizes in the process, then I encourage you to participate in Sundays with Dr. Pauly.

If you don't have a Fantasy Sports Live account, you can create an account here. My bonus code is Pauly and you will get a sign up bonus.

If you have been participating in the BFFB, the structure and format are very similar. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, please read on.

Here are the rules.

1. Sign up for an account, which you can fund with a credit card. Fantasy Sports Live is 100% legal and within the boundaries set forth by the UIGEA.

2. Weekly contests are $10. Total investment over the duration of Sundays with Dr. Pauly will be $100. We're starting at Week 6 and ending at Week 15.

3. Sign up for any contest that is listed as Sundays with Dr. Pauly. You will be setting up a fantasy football team consisting of a 1 QB, 3 WRs, 2 RBs, 1 TE, 1 K, and 1 D using a salary cap format.

4. Every week, sign up for a new contest and create a new team. You're competing against the players in your individual contest. The top 3 in each contest wins prize money (1st - $45, 2nd - $27, 3rd - $18). Places 4 thru 10 get zilch.

5. You are also competing against me even though I might be in a different contest. To make this fair, I'm only allowed one entry per week.

6. We will be tracking the overall progress of everyone who participates. The top 3 overall point winners over the duration of Sundays with Dr. Pauly will win prizes. See below.
Overall Prizes for Sundays with Dr. Pauly:
1st Place - $100 cash and $50 added to your FSL account
2nd Place - Any football themed DVD of your choice (e.g. Rudy, Any Given Sunday, Brian's Song)
3rd Place - a copy of Blind Side by Michael Lewis
4th Place - a phone call from Daddy

Bonus: If you get more points than me in three consecutive weeks, you win an entry into a season ending freeroll with $100 added to the overall prize pool.

That's it for now. Any questions about setting up an account at Fantasy Sports Live or how to play fantasy football? Shoot me an email.

Best of luck everyone. We will be posting updates of Sundays with Dr. Pauly here and over at Blinders blog.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


By Pauly
New York City

I wanted to stay up until 4 or 5am but fell asleep before 2am. I was wide awake by 6:30am. I went jogging and it was blah out there. I ran faster than normal anticipating a downpour at any moment. The rains never came.

A year ago, I began an exercise routine. I shed excess weight that I had tacked on during the summer in Las Vegas. Getting in better physical shape and paying more attention to the foods I eat helped get me through the last 12 months of rigorous traveling. I'm not in the same shape as I was last year at this time. I was more fanatical about shedding pounds and went on a drastic diet change. I could shed about 5-10 more pounds but I tried to formulate a schedule during my two weeks in NYC that is balance between work, enjoyment, and exercise. When I get back to NYC after OZ, it will be a lot colder so I won't be able to run as much, which means I'll do a better job at eating better. If I want to eat like a pig, I have to exercise. If I'm more careful about my food intake, I can get away without running.

The morning runs have been allowing me to focus and concentrate on what I must do for the remainder of the day. I also think about what I'm going to write that day. In essence, the first draft is already written by the time I'm back from a run. After a quick shower, I'm ready to sit down and crank out what I already pre-wrote inside the hallways of my mind.

These two weeks have been some of the most productive of the year. Sure, the WSOP this summer was an exception. I worked seven 100+ hour work weeks in June and July. Since I was overwhelmed, the quality of my work slipped. When I have time to actually think about what to write, then do it, and then have the time to re-work and edit my drafts... the overall quality improves. Over the past nine months, I've been handing in and publishing first drafts... and getting away with it. Writing without a net.

Last week was my opportunity to catch up and meet deadlines. This week was my chance to pre-write a lot of assignments, so I have more free time when I'm in Australia. I have three articles already in the can for Poker Players Newspaper and Bluff magazine.

I'm setting some time aside this weekend to work on the November issue of Truckin'. I have been updating the Phish blog regularly and wrote another strip club review for the Las Vegas blog.

I also finished negotiating a freelance writing contract with the Swedes at the OnGame Network. I'm going to be writing eight articles between now and the end of the year and then we'll figure something out for 2008. Although I'm not getting my rate and had to give them a discount, I negotiated my pay in Euros which should make up some of the difference.

Books. I can't get enough of them. I have a pile on my faux desk and my mission is to read all of them. I've been devouring books since my return from Europe. I finished off The Bronx Zoo earlier in the week. I'm 50% through Black Spring, a book that Henry Miller wrote for Anais Nin, which details his childhood in Brooklyn. That's two NYC books that I read back-to-back. It just happened that way. But the thing is, I read both books before and decided to re-read them since they have a different significance in my life. I read The Bronx Zoo when I was in high school and picked up Black Spring for the first time when I lived in Seattle as I finally completed my study of Henry Miller. I used to do that a lot. I'd get hooked on one author and read four or five of their books in a row. Like Philip Roth, Charles Bukowski, Spalding Grey, and Carlos Castaneda. I used to do the same with directors and I'd have a binge on all of their flicks such as Jim Jarmusch, Hal Hartley, and PT Anderson.

I wiped my iPod clean and started from scratch. I had over 4,400 songs and trimmed the list to about 2,400. Now I have extra space to add a flick and copies of random TV shows for my 15+ hour flight from LAX to Melbourne. I also had simply too much music. All the Dead, Galactic, and Phish bootlegs were taking up 50% of my hard drive space. I had to cut down on those shows and I also slashed all the jazz that I had on there.

I created a few new playlists for running and writing background music. Over the last six months, I felt as though I was listening to the same stuff over and over. I had 4,400 songs and sometimes, I could not find anything to listen to.

The last thing I bought off of iTunes was Mago. That's the latest collaboration involving 2/3 of Medeski, Martin & Wood or the M & M part of MMW. Billy Martin is on drums and John Medeski is on keys and organ. Lots of groove-oriented jams with plenty of soul, salsa, and latin influences.

JW mentioned that I'd dig The New Mastersounds. And he was right. British slam-funk with lots of roots in boogaloo. Inspirational stuff to write and run to. I have a feeling that their live shows would be filled with frenetic energy.

I'm still obsessed with Rodrigo y Gabriela's intricate acoustic guitar work. And can't stop listening to Eat a Peach and Goats Head Soup. I have become obsessed with both albums, which were released just around the time of my birth.

Goats Head Soup is lesser known Rolling Stones album that features Angie. That's the overrated song on the album and has plenty of other gems such as 100 Years Ago which contains some heavy Keith Richards "I'm pissed off and jacked up on smack" guitar riffs. Dancing with Mr. D and Star Star never get played on the radio or often get left off of Rolling Stones Greatest Hits albums. It's a shame.

Editor's Note: The last bit of this post already appeared on Tao of Poker earlier in the week in a post titled Eat a Peach.

Since my return to New York City, I have been religiously listening to Eat a Peach by the Allman Brothers Band. I had not picked up that amazing piece of music in several years and forgot what I was missing. I could write a book about the significance of that epic album from 1972.

Eat a Peach was recorded in the year before my birth and released just five months before I was born. Lead guitarist Duane Allman was killed in a motorcycle accident on October 29, 1971, several months before it's release. Eat a Peach was a mixture of left-over tracks (such as One Way Out and Mountain Jam) from their previous double album Live at the Fillmore East. Duane Allman's electrifying guitar work appears on several of the new tracks, which they managed to get down in the studio before his fatal accident. The rest of the album was finished after his death.

For many years, music fans believed that the reason the album was called Eat a Peach was because Duane Allman was run over by a peach truck in Macon, Georgia. Although Duane Allman died three hours later in surgery due to internal injuries, he didn't collide with a peach truck, rather it was a construction truck. The "eat a peach" reference originated from a comment he made in an 1970 interview with Ellen Mandel from Good Times Magazine. She asked him, "How are you helping the revolution?" The always slick Duane replied, "Every time I'm in Georgia, I eat a peach for peace."

A bizarre and ironic tragedy hit the band 13 months after Duane Allman's death. Bass player Berry Oakley also died in a motorcycle accident in Macon, Georgia, just a few blocks away from the spot where Duane crashed. For decades, rumors circulated around that Oakley died when he collided with a watermelon truck. Much like the rumors about Duane's accident involving a peach truck, Oakley's fatal crash was not caused by a runaway watermelon truck, rather he was run over by a city bus. Fruit trucks did not kill two members of the Allman Brothers Band, even though it's a great myth.

Eat a Peach has a strong historical significance for me. It many ways it could be used at different times as a soundtrack in my life. Although Eat a Peach was not the first ABB record I ever bought, it was the one I listened to the most in college. I borrowed the CD from my friend Wilkins, who lived at the end of the hall on my freshman dorm during my college days in Atlanta. Wilkins was a good ol' boy from G-Vegas and was one of the best guitar players I had ever met. He played in several bands and taught me how to play electric guitar. He was also responsible for turning me onto bands such as Widespread Panic and Phish.

Anyway, I borrowed Eat a Peach and made a copy on a cassette tape. I couldn't fit the entire thing on one side and ended up taping Mountain Jam on Side B. Mountain Jam was an epic 33:43 song. If I could pick one song to get a lap dance to... it would be Mountain Jam... almost thirty-four minutes in length. If there's one song I want played at my funeral, it's Mountain Jam.

Mountain Jam is not just a really long song without any lyrics or an improvisational jam. It's a journey and an original masterpiece of music where you realize the amazing abilities Duane Allman was blessed with as a guitar player. He was a visionary and we were robbed when he died at a young age. Only 23. This is the same hippie redneck kid who outplayed Eric Clapton on Layla by Derek and the Dominoes.

Duane Allman had a unique sound then and still does today. Allman was heavily influenced by Miles Davis and John Coltrane and often tried to imitate Coltrane's saxophone with his guitar. He played slide guitar using an old Coricidin bottle, originally used to hold cough syrup. The tiny Coricidin bottles fit perfectly around his finger. The slide enhanced his already one of a kind sound.

I listened to Eat a Peach on a constant loop when I first moved to Park Slope, Brooklyn in the mid-1990s after college. Filled with 20s angst, I was an extremely angry and confused individual. I wanted to be a writer and felt the creative energies pulling me in that direction, but I had the beginnings of a successful on Wall Street as a bond trader. Money, comfort, and stability did not appeal to me then and I made the difficult decision to sacrifice those things and wander on the road less traveled. The transition didn't come without heartache and the bittersweet melodies of Eat of Peach kept me sane in an insane world.

When I moved to Seattle, Eat a Peach followed me. Sadly, it would not leave Seattle. I sold my copy at a used bookstore a year later when I ran into financial difficulties. Before I got rid of it, I recall many fond memories writing a screenplay with Eat a Peach blasting at top volume in my tiny room. Eat a Peach also played in the background on my porch during sessions of supercool banality as I watched the rain fall with my slacker housemates, while we drank cheap beer, smoked cigarettes, and complained how we were all broke and uninspired artisans of one type or another.

I endured a dark and dismal summer of 2003 and sunk into the depths of despair. I managed to write my way through it and penned parts of my novel The Blind Kangaroo while listening to a copy of Eat a Peach that a friend was kind enough to burn for me.

Although some individual selections from the album made it into my musical rotation, I had pretty much put the entire album aside. I rediscovered it upon my return to NYC and it's been playing nonstop... from beginning to end... since that moment of reconnection.

As soon as I played the first few notes of Ain't Wasting Time No More, I dove head-first into a psychedelic pool of flashbacks. So many memories of my teen-aged years. My 20s. My early 30s. And my recent travels.

Last Sunday morning, the sunshine felt like rain.... are the lyrics from Ain't Wasting Time No More, the first song on the album. From the very beginning, the boys are setting the mood. Sure it's sunny out there, but I'm fuckin' miserable so it might as well be raining. The opening song has so many influential lyrics that I could go on and on all day writing about them.

Even the title of the opening track on Eat a Peach gets me all fired up. Ain't Wasting Time No More. Whether it's writing, poker, or life... that's a perfect a mantra. Duane Allman died when he was 23. Just another spiritual nugget to remind you that life is short. Too short to be bummed out or depressed or making excuses. Whenever I hear a bit of that song, I'm instantly reminded that it's time to step up and do something meaningful with my life.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


By Pauly
New York City

I have not had a drop of alcohol in ten days. Early in the morning on September 30th, I stood at the bar of The Dive strip club or a place that AlCantHang aptly called Hell, and polished off a beer. That was the last bit of damage I subjected my liver, kidneys, and wallet through. My bender was complete and it was time to heal and repair my body, mind, and soul before I rested before for my last overseas adventure of 2007.

I used to have a two drink minimum back in my broke and starving artist days. If someone bought me drinks, I knocked back a third or fourth, but I would only drink two max because that's all I could afford. Chicks can get away with surviving a night in NYC on $20, but that is a difficult task for a guy. $20 included subway fare and paid for two drinks. It was a struggle if we happened to go out to a nice joint. Dating during my broke days was nearly impossible.

When I discovered a bar that was open at 9am in the Village, I hung out there a lot. They had good eye-opener specials and just $20 would get me through lunch time. If I couldn't shake my inner demons, I'd drink a little more and not have enough money for lunch. If I had a few bucks, I'd get a slice of pizza from around the corner. Sometimes Briana would show up around noon and I'd be able to drink for free for a couple of hours as she continuously talked about her personal dramas. Since I had been drinking alone for three hours before, I didn't mind the banter. After all, she'd pick up the tab and insist that I order some food.

"How can the best writer in New York City write anything on an empty stomach?" she'd often say in a very proper finishing school accent much like Juliane Moore's portrayal of Maude Lebowski in The Big Lebowski.

"You're sitting in a bar during the day hiding from your friends," she'd say as she sipped a Bellini. "And I'm sitting here because I have no friends."

She was a modern day Edie Sedgwick. Minus the heroin. I let her go on her own way and I went on mine. She was a lost soul before we met and even more confused afterwards. We were a poorly thrown together Bukowski poem. We acted like characters from a sullen Raymond Carver short story. The air of desperation in a Tennessee Williams play surrounded us. Her sadness still haunts me like a wispy apparition and has followed me every where.

I don't drink in bars at 10am anymore. If I'm in NYC these days, I'm usually at the tail end of a writing session. And the sad thing is I could afford to be an alcoholic these days but I lost my psychotic-edge which has morphed into ordinary restlessness. I find myself in more manic phases than depressive phases. I hope it's not all going to explode one day and I'm back to hiding out in old man bars in Manhattan attempting the NY Times cross word puzzles in pen. Then again, I'd prefer the cloudy coffeeshops of Amsterdam.

Key West was different. I was on vacation and smoking up a storm during the daylight hours and mixing beer and liquor and knocking back those delicious rum drinks with hip and happy names like Jamaican Me Crazy and Key West Lemonade. It was so firggin' hot that you wanted an ice cold beer to cool off or a tasty cocktail to sit down and relax with.

The detox has been remarkable and my brain cells are slowing regenerating (although the rest of them are being sucked out the other end of the bong). I got the best night of sleep in since Amsterdam in August. I popped a sleeping pill and 1/4 of a muscle relaxer. I slept for seven straight hours which is about twice the norm. Imagaine if you get 8 hours of sleep and managed to get 16! That's what happened to me. I woke up at 7:45am feeling great. It was raining but I went jogging anyway. That's when I had flashbacks of those early morning drinking sessions.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

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

1. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
2. The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky
3. The Holy Bible
4. The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult
5. The Elephant and the Dragon: The Rise of India and China and What It Means for All of Us by Robyn Meredith

Monday, October 08, 2007

Back in the Bronx

By Pauly
New York City

I have been in New York City for a full week and I couldn't be happier. Sure, the weather is not optimal. It feels more like the first week of September than the first week of October. I expected to be wearing a fall wardrobe with lots of sweaters and jeans and stuff. Instead, it's shorts and sunglasses during an unexpected heat wave.

I missed most of the winter. I spent all of January in Australia... where it was summer. The only hint of winter I experienced was the brutal Valentine's Day storm when I was trying to fly to Los Angeles and I got caught in limbo for two days. I spent the majority of February in Hollyweird on a work assignment. I also headed to Las Vegas for a week during March Madness and a enjoyed a week in Florida at music festival. I missed the tail end of winter. Aside from a couple of chilly weeks in December (I had spent a week each in Hollyweird and Vegas then as well), I practically skipped the winter season in 2006-7.

I missed all my favorite local foods. Over the past week, I have indulged in various NYC comfort food. I should have been exercising and eating healthy, but I lost a little discipline. I exercised about 50% of the amount I would have liked to (e.g. every other day instead of every day). Alas, it was hard to stay away from food. Like the local Chinese take out. Nothing beats their chicken in a spicy garlic sauce. Then there's the local pizza place. My brother and I ordered from them twice last week; once for chicken parm heros (I also got a Caesar's salad) and the other time for a mushroom pizza.

Then there's the diner, actually there are two that I frequent. I call one The Greek Diner which is a small diner made up of eight booths and a counter. The Big Diner is about 10 times the size of the Greek Diner and it's also owned by Greeks. The Greek Diner is where I go for my breakfast sandwich. If I walk in before Noon, the old guy behind the counter knows what I want.

"The usual?" he asks.

I always nod my approval, sit down at the counter, and I thumb through the Daily News sports section. Less than three minutes later, he emerges with my breakfast sandwich... a fried egg, bacon, and cheese sandwich on a Kaiser roll with salt, pepper, and ketchup. Breakfast of champions. No one makes a better bacon, egg, and cheese.

There was a moment where I ate bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches for three straight meals spread out over two days. I went out looking for breakfast and wandered into the Greek Diner around 9am. Later that night, my brother and I ordered take-out from The Big Diner. Five minutes after I placed the order, I realized that I ordered the same thing I ate for breakfast... a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich on a roll. It's not as good as the Greek Diner since they make it with scrambled eggs, but it came with a side of waffle fries.

I had fallen asleep around 1am and woke up at 5am. By 6:30am, I was starving and craved an everything bagel. I went downstairs to the bagel store and found out it was closed due to a Jewish holiday. I had to settle on the Greek Diner which was located next door. And that's how I ordered a bacon, egg, and cheese and ate my third consecutive sandwich. I think during college, I once ate cheeseburgers for seven consecutive meals.

The last seven days have been extremely productive writing wise. I completed a column for Bluff Magazine that was due on the 5th. I started it on Monday and had the opportunity to work on it every day for four straight days. I also had three different people proof-read it. I never have time to find extra sets of eyes and have the luxury of several days in a row to work on any assignment with my crazy travel schedule.

That's been the big benefit of being home... that I can take my time with assignments and not feel like I have to crank out copy in order to meet a deadline. Usually I sit down at my laptop and write quickly until the piece is finished. I edit it and usually get Jessica or Nicky to take a peek at it. Sometimes I don't have their assistance and I get a little sloppy when I have to sacrifice time.

The result for this magazine assignment was something I actually liked. I usually don't dig the stuff I write. However, this instance, I approved. The only bad thing? The first draft was 3,500 words for my column that I was told by the editor should be "about 1,000 to 1,500 words." I had to go back in and slash and burn and tweak it. The second draft clocked in at 3,000 words. The third and final draft finished up at 2,450. I couldn't cut anymore and turned it in at that length. I'll let them figure out what to cut. Maybe they'll leave it as I submitted it. I'll find out in December when the issue comes out.

I had the rare opportunity to print stuff out that I wrote and edited my work on paper as my article progressed. I never get to do that anymore. I thought about getting a travel-size printer to take with me, but that's another bulky thing that will slow me down. Finding working printers in hotels is difficult and most business centers charge you a ridiculous amount to print stuff. I had gotten used to editing on the fly and with out a net. Historically, I always catch more mistakes when I see something on paper and in an entirely different context. That extra layer of editing process had been eliminated from my daily routine and a small percentage of my overall writing has suffered. I don't think anyone who pays the bills has noticed. They rarely do and are more concerned about getting stuff in on time than overall content. However, I notice all the flaws and choppy sentences. Hopefully, I can figure out a solution to this problem and discover inventive ways to get more time to write per assignment and find more printers.

I caught up on 97% of my email. I also pre-wrote one future column for Poker Player Newspaper and would like to get at least two in the can so I don't have to worry about those assignments when I'm in Australia. I caught up on several other side writing projects. I published Truckin'. I wrote a strip club review for Las Vegas Vegas. And I finally updated the Phish and music blog. I forgot how much time I waste being on the road, stuck in airports, stuck on airplanes, or checking in and out of hotels.

I played a ton of online poker in the last week. I played a couple thousand of hands which I had not done in almost a year. I'm down but I played better than average... so no complaints. I'm hoping that I can find some more time to play during the rest of the year. I have only one major work assignment (in Australia) and that ends on October 29th. I'm taking the rest of the year off to focus on writing, side projects, and playing poker. My only obligation are three columns a month until I have to cover the Aussie Millions at the Crown Casino in Melbourne in January.

I had a couple of long TiVo sessions. My brother recorded a bunch of shows like the World Series of Poker. I caught up on 20-30 hours of programming. Nicky also hooked me up with the first five episodes of Weeds. I caught two and will eventually finish those off by the end of this week.

During those insomnia hours, I immersed myself in books and music. I finished Atomised by French writer Michel Houellebecq, which my friend Benjo gave me as a gift. I also burned through Death to All Cheerleaders by Marty Beckerman. Funny shit. I re-read and completed Another Roadside Attraction by Tom Robbins on my way home from Key West. Right now, I'm re-reading The Bronx Zoo by Sparky Lyle and Peter Golenbock, which is about the 1978 NY Yankees. I started reading parts of Live from New York, a monster 600 page uncensored history of SNL. I read excerpts in book stores over the last couple of years and my aunt bought me a copy for my birthday. That's a book that is too big to carry along with me on the road, so I have to leave in NYC and read it in pieces over the next couple of months.

I also have three other books ready to go as soon I'm done with The Bronx Zoo.
1. Black Spring by Henry Miller
2. Hotel California: The True-Life Adventures of Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young, Mitchell, Taylor, Browne, Ronstadt, Geffen, the Eagles, and Their Many Friends by Barney Hoskyns
3. Miles by Miles Davis
I hope to get to one of those before I leave for Australia. I read Black Spring a decade ago. I'm thinking about taking Miles with me to Oz. I got it used for under $3.

I have been jumping back into the music listening to a couple of albumns non-stop such as Eat a Peach by the Allman Brothers Band, Goats Head Soup by the Rolling Stones, and Blonde on Blonde by Bob Dylan. I also have been playing a lot of Phish from their 2000 tour. Seven years ago, they completed a fall tour before they went on a two year hiatus. I was following Phish on their last seven shows of that last tour. My group consisted of three Japanese Phisheads in America for the first time. Two of them were musicians I met in Japan months earlier when I followed Phish there with Senor and Beano. I got some heady flashbacks listening to the 2000 Shoreline and Chula Vista shows.

I wanted to write about the Yankees and the bugs in Game 2 and their victory in game 3, but I'm out of time. Maybe later.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Key West Gallery and the Jello Shots Video

By Pauly
New York City

I finally completed the Key West photo gallery over at Flickr. Some of the food photos were added to the Pauly Food gallery (now 195 pics strong).

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Click here to view the Jello Shots video... via RSS or Bloglines

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Truckin' - October 2007, Vol. 6, Issue 10

And we're back with a brand spanking new issue of my literary blogzine!

Truckin' - October 2007, Vol. 6, Issue 10

1. AlCantHang and I Walk Into a Bar... by Paul McGuire
Whenever you walk into a bar with AlCantHang, you're immediately assuming full responsibility for your actions. You always know what you are getting yourself into. There's no false pretense. You will drink and drink and drink and drink as life unfolds around you. You surrender to the flow of the liquor... More

2. Morrissey by Betty Underground
I did my usual, obvious, snooping about, inviting myself in to use the powder room after the long drive. I knew my way around. I knew what it looked like the last time I was there. I was looking for signs. Girl things. Grown up girl things. A woman's touch in the decor. Pictures of the happy couple. Anything. Nothing... More

3. Driving to See Mama by John "Falstaff" Hartness
Well, there was six of us in that car, and we'd been drinking and smoking cigarettes since we left base, so when Briggs rolled down that window, all that smoke just chimneyed up out of that window and that policeman had to jump back... More

4. A Mawmag's Dream by Sigge S. Amdal
I was flirting, no, I was dancing with my own future's certain death. And why? There was no love to speak of. Love can come later in some cases, I know, but if there's nothing, no great emotion to ride on – why on earth was I still dancing? ... More

5. What Might Have Been by Sean A. Donahue
The struggles of life are few and far between. We walk through life looking for the elusive, looking for the elite, or looking to be the elite. Sometimes in our search for what we want, we find what we really need. But we are too self absorbed or blind to see it... More
The October issue Truckin' features a gem from Falstaff and includes returning authors Sigge S. Amdal and Sean A. Donahue. I published another installment of the Existentialist Conversations with Strippers series in a piece titled AlCantHang and I Walk Into a Bar.... Betty Underground is making her first appearance in Truckin' with an impressive showing by hitting a home run on her first submission.

If you like these stories, then please tell your friends about your favorite stories. It takes a few seconds to pass along Truckin'. The writers 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.

Thanks to the writers who exposed their souls to the world, and did it for free. Thanks for inspiring me and taking that leap of faith with me.

Thanks again to everyone for wasting your precious time month after month with Truckin'. Until next time.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Ugly Thursday; Pray for the Yankees on Friday

By Pauly
New York City

I have been excited over the last 13 Octobers because the Yankees made the playoffs in each of those years. Even with my travel-heavy schedule over the last three years, I made an effort to be in New York City at some point in October so I can watch the Yankees play. They haven't gone deep sine their World Series appearance in 2003 and although the Yankees made the playoffs the last five years anything short of a World Championship was a disappointment.

The Yankees of the 21st Century do not have the same chemistry and make-up of their counterparts in the late-1990s. The additions of Mike Mussina, Jason Giambi, and A-Rod have produced zero championships. Bottom line is this... Chuck Knoblauch and Scott Brosius combined are not a good as a player as A-Rod. However, they have more rings. Maybe this year will be different and the veterans like Moose, Giambi, and A-Rod will finally pick up their first championships.

The Yankees were one of the hottest teams in baseball after Memorial Day. They made up for a poor start of the year when it looked like the dynasty had crumbled. Torre was on Steinbrenner's doorstep, the veterans who weren't banged up looked old and Mo Rivera couldn't get a career .220 hitter out with his best stuff. The Mets were the toast of the town at the start of the season and all the shit talking from their fans and anti-Yankee pundits started to flare up.

I grew up in the Bronx. I've been a Yankees fan ever since I can recall rooting for any sort of team. But I also grew up with a mentality that there were multiple NY teams in different sports... and you could only be a fan in one. No exceptions. You hated the other NY team as much as you despised Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago. It was just like that.

I'm a NY Jets, NY Rangers, NY Yankees, and a NY Knicks fan. So is my brother (although he's not that big of a hockey fan and we both admit that we don't hate the NY Giants; we're sick of seeing six games a year against the fuckin' Cowboys, Redskins, and the Eagles).

If you liked the Rangers, you hated the Islanders. There was a huge rivalry in my high school between the three tri-state teams. I went to school in Manhattan and about 40% of the kids commuted from the burbs like New Jersey and Long Island. The Jersey kids were Devils fans (and they sucked in the late 1980s) and the kids from LI were relentless Islander fans and would chant "1940!" endlessly in the cafeteria.

I was a freshman in high school in 1986. Not only did Don Mattingly get robbed of an MVP award, the fuckin' Mets won the world series that year. I was the only kid in my homeroom who didn't root for the Mets. Most of the kids were bandwagon fans and my home room advisor was a die-hard Mets fan. He would watch the playoff games from the platform of the #7 train with his binoculars, a radio, and a thermos of coffee. Since I attended Catholic school, we started every period with a prayer. Even the priests and lay teachers got in on the Mets bandwagon. At the end of prayers, there was a standard, "St. John Francis Regis, pray for us." Except during October of 1986, they all said, "St. John Francis Regis, pray for us. And the Mets."

What bullshit. I caught more bullshit from my classmates because I rooted for the Red Sox in that series. I got taunts like, "You're not a really Yankees fan. A real fan would never root for the Sox."

My reasoning was simple. The Red Sox fans that I knew were not assholes. Every Mets fan I knew in school was an asstard. Enter Bill Buckner. And the rest of the year was ruined.

That was the only time I ever rooted for the Red Sox. Derek and I would joke that nothing is sweeter than a Red Sox loss except perhaps a Mets loss. I finally got some sort of peace of mind when the Yankees finally won a Championship in my adult years. And then they ended up besting the Mets in 2000 an old fashioned (Subway) World Series.

Then something happened to the Mets in the summer of 2007. I wasn't around so I didn't notice it. I knew that when I left for Europe in early August that the Yankees needed to keep up their pace if they wanted to be the wild card and that the Mets had the division locked up. When I got back from London, the Yanks had the wild card locked up (with a longshot at catching the Red Sox for first place) and that the Mets grip had loosened. The back of the local newspapers started to hype up the Mets downward spiral. I was only home for two days before I went to Florida. I was there with AlCantHang and his crew (who were from outside of Philadelphia) and they kept me up to date with the magical run of the Phillies. In the blink of an eye, the Phillies were in and the Mets were out. Not only were they knocked out of first place, they failed to qualify for the wild card.

The Mets took a drubbing in the media over the last week. The word "historical collapse" was thrown around a lot. It was different that the Red Sox's demise in the summer of 1978 when the Yanks caught them after being up by 14 games on July 19th. But the Mets blew it. And now it looks like the Yankees are on the verge of blowing their 2007 season.

Not only did the Yankees lose Game 1 to the Cleveland Indians, they got spanked. They had not been blown out like that in the playoffs since Arizona scored 15 against them in 2001.

Jerry had sent me an email this morning. He wrote:
1. Didn't Wang spit the bit last year as a game 1 starter?
2. Should Andy Pettitte be the #1 for the playoffs based on his experience?
3. After Bobby Abreu's double and they walked A-Rod to load the bases - Posada and Matsui have to tack on there - Matsui looked totally lost against CC.
He made some great points.

Wang historically doesn't pitch well on the road despite 38 wins over the last two seasons. He got too much rest due to the extra days off. A sinker baller Like Wang pitches better when he's tired and gets the ball down. All his pitches were up in the zone and it looked like the Indians were taking batting practice. Wang pitched horrible and gave up nine hits and four walks through 4.2 innings. Let's hope that's his only bad outing of the post-season. That's a performance you could have expected from Mike Mussina, not from your 19-game winner.

Pettitte could have been the #1 starter with his experience, but let's face it, it's not Andy Pettite from 1997. Wang won 19 games this year and 19 last year. He's their ace. Torre is loyal like that. Historically over his career, Pettitte pitches best after a Yankee loss and has an insane record in that situation. So if Yanks went 0-1, Torre knew Pettite would step up and tie the series at 1-1 (which he must do tonight). If the Yanks won game 1, then Torre had Pettitte in perfect position to make it 2-0 before they even get back to the Bronx.

Yanks hitters fucked up in the early innings. In the playoffs it is imperative that you drive in runners in scoring position with less than 2 outs especially in the early innings. The Indians did that early and the Yanks couldn't get the job done. CC was all over the place. Like Wang, he didn't have his best stuff. But unlike Wang, CC got himself out of jams when the Yanks could not manufacture runs aside from the two HRs. A-Rod went 0 for 2 but got on base twice with two walks (one intentional). Jeter, Matusi, Posada, and Melky were a combined 0-16 with 6 strikeouts. Add an inept offensive output to a lackluster pitching performance and you have a formula for a loss.

The only positive notes about the Yankees... Phil Hughes looked great in relief and Giambi had a hit in his first pinch-hit AB of the post-season.

I heard rumors that Wang might pitch Game 4 on three-days rest, that is if the Yanks can get that far. They need to take it one game at a time. Tonight is clutch and should be a low scoring game. Bottom line... Yanks need to win three out of the next four games. It can be done and it's all up to Andy Pettitte's left shoulder. I hope that some of the kids from my high school prayed for the Yankees today. They're going to need it.