Tuesday, April 29, 2008

120 Hours in 1,584 Words

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

Thursday.

Nicky and I woke up early and ate breakfast at Nick's Coffeeshop. I went with an egg white omelet as random Beatles songs played on the oldies radio station. We drove up to Malibu and took a long walk up and down Zuma Beach. Parts were empty except for three yellow school buses which emptied a school group onto the beach. As we walked up the northern most part of Zuma, I saw a homeless guy in a trenchcoat. He stood at the edge of the water and gazed out to sea. As we approached, I noticed that he was not homeless... instead he was some sort of businessman wearing a suit and a long green trenchcoat. He looked Middle Eastern and chomped down on a sandwich.

On Thursday night, we saw The Wood Brothers play a gig. The best part of the L.A. music scene are the dozens of medium sized spaces and little clubs peppered all around town. The availability of live music allows you to catch local acts, well, as local as local gets in L.A., which is to say those are musicians that grew up and formed their bands outside of L.A. and then moved to L.A. to further their careers. I finally checked out a venue called The Hotel Cafe. Nicky had been there several times before and the guy who took her to the Prom happened to own it. Anyway, I went the tiny Hotel Cafe to see The Wood Brothers with about 200 people max. We arrived in the middle of Carsie Blanton's set. She's a Philly-based singer/songwriter that had a curly afro who also wore cowboy boats. I described her music as folksy-cute with kitschy lyrics and her songs could have come right off of the Juno soundtrack. One tune called Gutsy and Smart stood out. When her set ended, Carsie walked past me and I realized that she was tiny.

The Wood Brothers came on at 8pm exactly and played for almost 70-75 minutes including one set and an encore. They played a mixture of tunes from their new album and older material. Highlights included One More Day, Luckiest Man, Glad, Loaded, Postcards from Hell, Atlas, and the encore of Make Me a Pallet on Your Floor which included Carsie Blanton on vocals.

Since the venue was so small, we were very close to the action, which made the show even more intimate sort of like a show at Tonic in NYC. The crowd was a mixed bag of hippies and hipsters. I expected the show to be sold out because it was the eve before Coachella and everyone was either resting up for the long weekend or checking out Rilo Kiley's gig at The Glass House.

Friday.

I rushed to complete a shitload of work on Friday before Benjo arrived. He was my Amsterdam roommate... and everyone's malcontent chain-smoking French journalist. He was sent on an assignment to cover French players in the WPT Championships at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Except, all of the players busted out early and he had several days to kill. He flew out to Los Angeles for a few days. He has been to America almost a dozen times for work and only once did he get a chance to see something other than Las Vegas. Imagine that... Benjo's only perception of Americans is what he observed in Vegas, which as everyone who has visited Vegas knows... it's the complete opposite of the daily American existence.

Benjo wanted a taste of old Hollywood so we took him to a couple of touristy, yet historic places. I'm a sucker for places where writers and artists used to get bombed. I drank at the Cedar Tavern in NYC for many years, which was frequented by the abstract expressionists (Franz Kline, Jackson Pollock, and De Kooning). When I lived in Seattle, I drank at the Blue Moon where Tom Robbins, Allen Ginsberg, and Dylan Thomas drank steadily. Just last year, I drank in a couple of bars where Hemingway had frequented (the London Bar in Barcelona and Sloppy Joe's in Key West). I guess I could add Musso and Frank's to that list. I went once many moons ago, but had not been back in a long time. Nicky told Benjo how a slew of American novelists such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Hemingway at some point worked in Hollywood during the golden age in the 1930s and 40s. They wrote screenplays for the major studios and when they weren't writing or chasing tail, they were eating and drinking at Musso and Frank's. After dinner, we wandered around the corner to drink at Boardner's. Two dudes walked in with twin hookers as their fake tits nearly burst out of their tight pink dresses.

Saturday.

The only thing that Benjo really wanted to do was to eat at In & Out Burger. We arrived just after it opened around 11am. I went for a triple cheeseburger. It's off the menu but I got a 3x3. Kick ass. After lunch, I had to host/play in my private tournament on PokerStars. Once that was over, we headed out for a drive in the hills. Benjo wanted to see the Hollywood sign as close up as possible. On Saturday night, we went to the Farmer's market for dinner. I ate a slice of cherry pie and got a blackened chicken poboy and cornbread from Gumbo Pot. We hung out and drank at home that night and watched movies. I had insomnia and stayed up playing online poker. I lost $250.

Sunday.

I woke up everyone early on Sunday so we could grab breakfast at Nick's then drive up to Malibu. We got off a later start that we wanted and got caught up in a clusterfuck of a bottleneck to get into Zuma. At one point, only one booth was open since it's technically the off season. But it was such a beautiful and hot day that hundreds of other people had the same idea as us and wanted to spend a lazy Sunday at the beach. Anyway, we got held up because an SUV in line ahead of us suddenly went ablaze and the fire trucks came to put it out. They opened up a second booth and traffic slowly trickled into the beach parking lots. We found a nice spot and set up camp. Benjo got sun burned and caught a spell of sun stroke. When we got back, he was all kinds of fucked up. The symptoms that he described sounded a lot like an LSD trip. He was worried that I dosed him, but that's such an evil thing that I wouldn't do that to a person. He just had sun stroke. Nicky gave him some aloe and Advil and he went to bed. Nicky and I stayed up late and pulled tubes while we watched random videos on YouTube including several performances from Coachella, like Prince covering Creep from Radiohead. We also watched a couple of hilarious alien conspiracy videos. I recommend the shape-shifting reptilian ones for a great laugh. And yes, Hillary is a reptilian shape-shifter. Vote for Obama.

Monday.

I was up early writing for a couple of hours before I woke everyone else up. We went to Nick's for breakfast because Benjo absolutely loved the breakfast there. I didn't mind because I could eat at Nick's everyday. We caught a 10:25am showing of 21 at The Grove. It's a flick about the MIT blackjack team based on two books by Ben Mezrich. I know one of the guys who played on one of the many MIT blackjack teams. He can't play anywhere in the world without worrying about getting 86'd from that casino or getting his face stomped by an old school thug. Anyway, the flick sucked ass. But it was funny to see all the Vegas cliches. Sheer boredom sunk in and in order to stay awake, I started counting chip stacks that the actors were playing with during the blackjack scenes. They shot several scenes on location in Planet Ho and Red Rock. Kevin Spacey is a good bad guy. But the movie still sucked. After the flick ended, we headed back and played some Chinese Poker. I turned a small profit against Benjo before we had to leave for the airport. We decided to have an early dinner at Pann's Diner. It was on the way to LAX and it happened to be the locale of one of Benjo's favorite flicks Pulp Fiction. They shot several scenes in there. The food was good. I had chicken noodle soup and a grilled cheese with bacon. Dessert was a massive piece of chocolate cake. We dropped off Benjo at the airport and we could tell that he was sad to go. He lives in London now for work, but he was having more fun in Hollywierd than he could in London. Plus he gets paid in Euros and the lowly dollar keeps sinking fast and his money goes a long way in America. It's like visiting a third-world country. Nicky and I headed back to the apartment and wrote for a couple of hours as we tried to catch up on work and watched/listened to more Coachella videos that The Joker uploaded to Coventry. She eventually crashed and I stayed up to pack for my trip to NYC in the morning. I uploaded a batch of photos and then sat down to write this post.

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