Saturday, November 08, 2008

jfk > burbank

By Pauly
New York City

I had another one of those quick stops in New York City. I arrived at the dreadful Delta terminal JFK airport on Monday night and knew that I'd be back at the same airport within 48 hours which included $150 in cab rides to and fro the Bronx. All those taxis add up over a year... heck, over the last four years. At least it's a legit business expense.

The routine is the same. Empty my bags. Do laundry. Check the weather where I'm going on weather.com. Repack my bags according to the season and locale. Southern California was warm and sunny and I ditched whatever heavy clothes I took with me to Hungary.

I sifted through a small pile of mail, nothing like I have gotten in the past, but snail mail nonetheless. I sorted through the junk mail and all those free offers for credit cards or organizations trying to get me to give them money. Ah, and those cheeky alumni magazines from high school and college. They look sleek with high glossy pages, but I know better. I only read the happenings of my particular graduating year. Guess what? More people that I never spoke to breeding and bragging about their jobs. The gems among the rough? I discovered a couple of paychecks and several magazines that I wrote for.

I made a list of things to do. Things I forgot to do. And things I wish I had more time to do. I like lists. I like crossing off items on my list more. Gives me a tiny semblance of accomplishment.

I charged up all of my electrical equipment. iPod. Phones. Bose headphones. It's on my checklist of things to do and necessary. I also had to switch back to my old laptop that busted when I was in London. I brought the British one to Budapest because I wasn't 100% percent confident in the repair job on the old one. Since it was a work assignment, I couldn't take the risk. I'm bringing the old one to the left coast with me. Now I have two functioning laptops back in NYC... my powerbook and the British one and I have the old one on the left coast. Let's see how it handles Hollyweird and Las Vegas.

I backedup tons of files from the new one and transferred newer files over to the old one. I fucked up that process and left a few things on the British one that I sorta need like pics and videos of the infamous apple bets. Alas, I'll have to wait until Turkey Day to access those files and upload those hysterical videos.

I also think I fucked up a Pauly's Pub update email which is sitting in my inbox on the other machine. Oh, well. I had to resend that on Friday.

I spent my short time in NYC catching up on work, running errands, enjoying local foods, and hanging out with my brother. The Greek Diner reopened when I was away. I ate a breakfast sandwich there two days in a row. The necessary fuel I needed for my morning writing sessions.

The trip to the airport went fast. I had the Big Pussy lookalike drive me to JFK. He wanted to know how I was doing betting on the NFL this year. I told him that I don't bet on sports anymore and he laughed at me. He mentioned that's a good thing, but won't last.

"It's in our nature to gamble," he explained somewhere on the Van Wyck Expressway.

He dropped me off at the brand spanking new JetBlue terminal which used to be part of the TWA complex. Holy shit. I was slightly overwhelmed by the sheer size of the new terminal. JFK in itself is massive. Each of the nine or so terminals are bigger than many airports at major cities all over the world. In a way, it's like nine smaller airports rolled into one. JetBlue's T5 is the newest and most modern airport terminal that I have seen in a very long time. They needed it. Desperately. JetBlue originally had a smaller terminal and couldn't keep up with the expansion.

The lighting is sharp and the new terminal is spacious. Plenty of kiosks to check in. More room. The baggage drop is interesting. You stand in a line, get a tag from a staff, then walk behind them and drop the bag on the belt yourself.

Security lines were always a clusterfuck at JFK, especially early in the morning and during holidays. The new lines moved faster. What sometimes takes 30-40 minutes to check my bag and pass the security checkpoint only took 10 minutes in total.

I roamed around the terminal and checked out all the new stores and shops and spaces. The food court has a couple of new eating options including a pomme frites joint and a philly cheesesteak place. I opted for the Boar's Head sandwich shop. Always a tasty and wise choice.

There are a couple of high end stores which I'll never shop in, but it looks nice. There's free wifi in the new terminal and many more seats per gate. I played a little online poker while I waited for my flight to Burbank. The board said it would take 6 hours and 40 minutes to fly from New York to Burbank. I know that's a bogus number. I've flown the the left coast numerous amount of times to know that real number is under 6 hours. These days the airlines incorporate the tarmac congestion into the flight times. I was flying out at 6pm. That's peak time at JFK for international flights leaving NYC. I feared that we'd be sitting in line for a lengthy amount of time waiting to take off.

That's when I popped a sliver of oxy. I was out of Xannies and went for the next available narcotic. By the time we boarded, I was a puddle. Mush. That was good because the delay didn't bother me as much and flights to Southern California always have a bunch of LA douchebags and self-absorbed vanityfreaks who have no clue how to wipe their ass by themselves let alone board an aircraft. Lost in a sea of schmucks, I welcomed the warm fuzzy feeling...

My personal TV set did not get ten or so channels out of the 36+. I could have complained, but didnot. Those broken channels included the alphabet news networks which was fine with me. The hype on the day after Obama's victory would have irritated me to no end. As is, I watched the Travel Channel, the Food Network (I still want to do deviant sexual things to Rachel Ray while she cooks up a batch of cookies), and VH1 Classics which ran a documentary on The Doors. Yes, Jim Morrison is te Lizard King and he managed to convey a few pearls of wisdom on writing.

I also watched an NBA double-header as I drifted into my own little world. Sadly, no Knicks games. And don't get me started on the whole Stephon Marbury debacle. He's been a cancer ever since he left Minnesota in the late 1990s.

I never really slept but I'd nod out for a few minutes at a time. The old lady next to me did not speak English. She wanted a glass of wine and it cost $5. JetBlue only takes credit cards. She didn't have one. The fight attendant was sort of giving her a hard time. She wasn't really being a bitch, but she wasn't super friendly and accommodating like they are supposed to mainly since it was a full flight and the old lady was slowing down the drink service. I stepped in and offered up my Amex gold card. I solve problems with pieces of plastic. The old lady handed me the $5. I should have charged her $7.

My pilot made up some time in the air and we arrived at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank at least 30 minutes early. I beat Nicky to the Valley. I know she loathes driving over the hills and into the Valley, but that's where Burbank airport is located. It's actually closer than heading down to Long Beach, and I hate flying into LAX's domestic terminals.

My bag was the 27th to pop out. It appeared faster than I anticipated. When I returned from Budapest, my bag was one of the last to pop out as I waited forever. The baggage claim at Burbank is outdoors and I noticed that the weather was a little brisk.

I checked my voicemail and my attorney from Las Vegas called. I hired him to fix a ticket. When I got into a car accident in June, I got a citation for a moving violation and had to appear in court. I thought it was bullshit since a fire engine running a red light was the source of the accident. Lucky for me, the lawyer got the court date pushed back and then got the overall violation reduced to a parking ticket. My total cost? $90 instead of several hundred more and points on my license. Thanks again to Marissa for the recommendation.

I wandered outside and it was around 9:30pm. Nicky pulled up to the curve shortly afterwards and she wore a sweater. It wasn't that cold in general terms, but super cold for LA people. Pussies.

We drove back into LA over the Hollywood hills and passed the Hollywood Bowl. I saw the marquee. It read "Astral Weeks by Van Morrison." I had forgotten than Van was doing two shows this weekend where he plays the entire Astral Week album. We wouldn't be able to go since we'd be in Vegas.

I had not been in LA since late August. I had some mail to sort through and more importantly I had to check out my birthday present. Nicky redecorated the spare room which is my office. I finally have a desk (although I still prefer writing at the living room table in the mornings with the window open and the California sunshine peeking through the palm trees in the alley) and a comfy chair. I had seen pictures and even a video of my new office, but it was the first time I got to sit there and experience it. It was a remarkable gift and I hoped to put it to good use.

When I got home, I was pretty faded still. That stuff I took was strong and it kept me down for almost a full day. Time released buzz. Nothing quite like it.

We passed out sort of early and I was up by 4am. I did some work and then crawled back into bed. I woke up an hour or so later and finished up the latest issue of Truckin'. I also wrote the first draft of a Bluff column about my Budapest adventures. Nicky and I headed to Nick's coffeeshop. I had not feasted there in months and missed their iced tea and their breakfast sandwiches. It wasn't until I took the first bite when I realized that I was officially back in Hollyweird.

I spent the remainder of the day waiting to sober up. I watched a couple of things on TiVo like the last couple episodes of Weeds. Nicky and I headed to the Grove and saw a flick.... Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist. I dug some of the soundtrack and the actress who played Nora has a huge rack. The flick was fast which was fine. Sometimes I pass out in movie theatres during films that last two hours or more.

We headed to Whole Foods to pick up dinner. I found a slice of chocolate cake in the ice cream section that was pretty tasty. Nicky whipped up blackened chicken. I came up with the idea of the side dish... pesto potatoes. Yeah, it was delicious.

On Friday, I finished up a couple of assignments. I researched a bunch of content for the WSOP final table which takes place this Sunday. I completed a couple of other assignments in my new office.

Nicky and I headed to O'Groats for breakfast. Delicious. The owner calls me by my first name, which is slightly amusing but also very soothing. There's something to be said about not visiting a frequent eatery for 10 weeks and then showing up one day and the owner still remembering your name.

The only time I usually see movies is when I'm in LA with Nicky. I have a dozen or so that I want to see and we were catching up. We headed to the Landmark to see the newest Charlie Kaufman flick. It was his directorial debut in Synecdoche, New York. I ot lost about halfway through and ended up confused and disappointed. My buddy Ryan (who reviews films for a living) mentioned that he loved it and I'm going to have to make him watch with me again so I understand the complicated parts. I really enjoyed the first half of the flick and Philip Seymour Hoffman shines as always in his performance based on the tortured innards of Charlie Kaufman.

After the flick, I went home to pack. On the road again. This time, we're driving to Las Vegas for a couple of days. I have some unfinished business to attend to. Head over to Tao of Poker if you have no idea what I'm talking about....

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