Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Back-to-Back

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

I'm kinda in a funk. I'm having trouble finding some work as a writer. Never thought that day would come, but alas, that's my reality. The economy is poor and my rates are too high. Even after I discounted my blood work, I'm still struggling to plug holes into my schedule. I was told by one client, "I'd love to have you, but I can pay three people the amount that I have to pay you."

Flattered and stunned.

I'm struggling to find a middle ground to figure out a happy medium where I'm compensated an amount that I'm worth but at the same time adjust to the lack of available money floating around there.

Anyway, as I try to sort that stuff out, I have dug in deep and really pushed myself to write better. Since I'm not getting paid to write the next few weeks, I'm taking advantage of the opportunity to hone my craft and work on personal projects. As my buddy Johnny Walker said, "I really love it when you have down time from running around all over the world covering poker, this is when, in my opinion, I read your best material."

Well put, Johnny. This weekend was a breakthrough for me and I penned a couple of high quality pieces over at Tao of Poker.
Emissaries from the Land of Indulgence

Peel back the layers and expose Las Vegas for what it is; a playground for the filthy rich amidst a cesspool of hopelessly addicted souls representing the decay of modern society. Just when I thought I knew a town like the back of my hand, I got shamefully slapped upside the head by a dose of poignant reality.

I spent the last four summers in Las Vegas. The first year it felt like a journey to Fantasy Island. The second year was as joyous as a sojourn to summer camp. The third year was a brutal prison sentence and the fourth was a pivotal self-imposed exile.

The bean counters used to say that gambling towns are impervious to recessions because at the core root, humans will resort to drastic measures during desperate times. Gambling your last $500 on black seems like a more logical choice than jeopardizing your money in risky situations like signing away your pension money to the shysters on Wall Street, who have about as much credibility these days as a drunken used car salesman. Credit default swaps turned our most prestigious financial institutions into blathering crack whores.

I caught a glimpse of the economic crunch on the streets of Las Vegas. Construction projects halted. Rusted steel beams shot out of concrete blocks on unfinished architectural superstructures. The vertical ghost towns cluttered the Las Vegas skyline. The illumination of Sin City, once glorious and majestic as the morning light at the dawn of the new day, has been dulled by a morass of financial gloom, so much so that even the languorous hookers were bitching. Shit, everyone was bitching. Cocktail waitresses. Poker dealers. Cab drivers. Valets. And even the crackling snaps of pamphlets from the porn slappers seem a little sullen these days.

... More

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Existentialist Conversations with Hookers: Maelstrom at the Hooker Bar

We were outnumbered 3 to 1 by a spirogyra of working girls. Otis, Howard, and myself sat at one end of the bar when no less than nine of them had taken up refuge at the other end. Sounds like the beginning to a crude joke... Otis, a British journalist, and Pauly sat in the Hooker Bar... Alas, it was just another day in the life.

As the Nevada sun slowly crept over the mountains, we were lost in a supernatural time warp with a distorted concept of time and space. We sat in the darkness of the Rio wanting to be left alone. We sipped moderately chilled beers and shared stories about our exotic travels (Otis in Costa Rica, Howard in Barcelona, and my drunken escapades in Budapest) while several classic rock tunes cranked out on the sound system. In the blink of an eye, they appeared. First one, then two, and a couple of more. We only had a few minutes before they pounced on us. After all, we were the only marks left standing at that time of the morning.

The prostitution industry felt the full force of the credit crunch and quality tricks were few and far between. It's a numbers game. Less conventioneers meant less potential clients. The hookers at the Rio were a combination of famished vultures and parched vampires ready to pick apart any carcass. Any john. Any drunk. Anybody in their path. They were evil personified and depending on who you talked to, they were the absolutely best/worst thing about Las Vegas.

We were their imminent prey and in the vernacular of Otis, we were illequipped.

We had a hurricane a brewing on the western front. The torrential downpour and relentless winds sprang up as soon as they spotted the trio of us. After all, we were drinking at the bar named for them. Nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide. We had to endure the tantalizing menagerie for a couple of hours. Luckily, we all lived to tell about it. No one got rolled. No one got a rash. But there might be a hooker's rotting corpse stuffed in a utility closest somewhere in the Rio.

... More
Enjoy.

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