Wednesday, December 24, 2008

long beach > jfk

By Pauly
New York City

On Monday morning, I stood next to the Christmas tree and gazed out of the window. A drenched can fairy shuffled through the alley en route to the dumpster pushing an old baby carriage, which hauled his booty that included a large black plastic bag filled with bottles and cans and various items he retrieved on his rounds such as a globe which sat in the baby's seat.

After a couple of minutes of rummaging through the recycle bin, the can fairy wheeled his net worth out of the alley and over to the next house. I'm gonna see more of that plight in the months and years to come. California will be broke soon. No even the Govenator or Manny Ramierz can save them. All of their movie stars have either snorted or flushed away the majority of their massive fortunes and whatever they had left was swindled in a Madoff's good old fashioned ponzi scheme. Shanty towns will spring up in the Valley. We'll have to put bars on our windows and hire illegals as private security guards. The streets of Los Angeles are going to resemble a Philip K. Dick speed-induced futuristic vision of society or something out of a bad post-apocalypse Kevin Costner flick.

I gazed out the window expecting to see glimpses of sunshine. Los Angeles was covered in grey wet blanket of wetness. It reminded me of being in Seattle. My thoughts quickly drifted to New York City. I missed my hometown and was actually looking forward to the holidays... with the exception of the dreary weather.

The cold. I managed to avoid that the last couple of years. I went to Australia in January the last two years. I escaped the winter in exchange for an Aussie summer. I also spent a lot of time in California and Las Vegas in December and February which meant that I skipped a decent portion of the bitter Northeast winter. Sometimes I miss the snow, but I loathe slush and the slippery wetness that's all around after the snow melts.

I wrote for a couple of hours on Monday morning while I listened to Justin85's Salmagundi 2008 Mix.

The only time I see movies in the theatre are in Los Angeles with Nicky. We were looking for something to see that did not involve us having to go to a mall, but alas, anything we wanted to see would be at Century City or The Grove. We narrowed down the choices to Slumdog Millionaire or The Day the Earth Stood Still. Showcase and the Rooster's Uncle both highly recommended Slumdog. Even Ryan gave the nod to Slumdog. I trust his taste in the cinema but in the end Nicky overruled me since she's in love with John Ham and he was in the flick. The Day the Earth Stood Still held my attention for the first two acts but took a nose dive in the last one. Should have seen Slumdog.

We also watched a couple more episodes of Sunny in Philadelphia. That is definitely growing on me.

I packed most of my gear on Monday night and finished off the last bit on Tuesday before I went to the airport. I actually overpacked this trip, which is actually two smaller ones spread out over three weeks.

There was light traffic on the freeway to the airport. Nicky dropped me off and she was excited because she'd be joining me in NYC in less than a week.

The airport was packed and everyone dragged around tons of bags and gifts in stuffed suitcases and shopping bags. Airlines are fucking over their customers and charging extra fees for checked luggage and multiple bags, so everyone was trying to buck the system and take several bags as their carry-on. They were not policing that at Long Beach, so it was jam packed with people with lots of bags which clogged up the security lines.

I waited outside at an outdoor cafe. I ate a chocolate croissant and played online poker to kill time. A family sat down at the table next to me. The mother looked dazed and confused. Jacked up on some sort of prescribed happy pill. Numb to the world around her. The grandma tried to keep the little terrier quiet but the dog kept yapping. Two kids darted in and around the table as the father did his best to police them. He was losing a battle despite his many bribes that included candy.

I don't have kids, but trying to reward kids for still behavior with candy and chocolate bars (which is essential cocaine for kids) is counterproductive because after they gobble down the candy, they get jacked up on sugar and can't keep still. Don't they have the equivalent of pot brownies for kids that will achieve a dual effect of nourishing little ones with tasty treats and at the same time lulling them into a very calm and relaxed and sedated manner where all they want to do is sit down and space out to Dark Side of the Moon? If not, I'd like to start manufacturing that tasty treat.

I'm a regular on JetBlue flight 212 from Long Beach to New York City. Some people grab the same 7:23am train from Port Washington, I'm frequently on the 1:00pm flight from LBG to JFK. I usually pick the same seat too. If anyone ever wants to whack me, all they have to do is set up some sort of shenanigans regarding that flight. In the last twelve months, I started utilizing Bob Hope Airport in Burbank. It's closer but Nicky hates going to the Valley... even if it is to pick me up. But even with diverting some of my flights to Burbank, I definitely spend a lot of time in Long Beach.

It was literally a zoo inside the small terminal with birds flying through the partial outdoor airport and little dogs roaming around. Why do people bring their dogs on planes with them? That's a group of people that make my list of Top 10 Annoying People I Meet on My Travels. They are number four. People with yapping dogs in little carry-on cages.

The gate was actually two gates squeezed into one. There were two doors. An angry group of delayed holiday travelers (some of them stranded for a couple of days) where rushing to finally board their ultra delayed flight, which was also the last one of the day to Chicago. At my gate, a flight from Oakland was de-planing at the adjacent door. That surge of people clashed with the the angry group trying to get onto the last flight to Chicago. It was a momentary clusterfuck. Lots of elbows and angry words exchanged. So much for holiday cheer.

I popped an Xanax that Nicky gave me in the airport parking lot. That would take off the remaining jagged edges of the hardships of traveling during the peak of the holiday season. I flipped through several pages of the Economist and I read about the real plight and injustices in the Congo.

I got lucky and there were no crying babies in my vicinity on the plane. That was an early Christmas present from Santa Claus and the travel gods. There was a yapping poodle a couple of rows back. Do they make Xannie dog biscuits?

I passed out shortly after take off and woke up around Vegas. I watched college basketball for the rest of the trip. Butler upset Xavier and then ESPN Classic aired the 1981 Championship game between North Carolina and Indiana featuring a 50-year old Dean Smith and a young Bobby Knight. The star players were James Worthy pre-specs and Isiah Thomas with an afro. Al Maguire announced the game. Tons of flashbacks. I recall watching that on NBC. They were the big college hoops powerhouse back then before CBS snatched the broadcasting rights away from March Madness.

Despite a delay getting out of Lomg Beach, there was a hefty tailwind and we managed to land on time at JFK. It was a cold, wet. December day when I touched the ground at JFK. Snow was melting on the ground. Sounds like a U2 song.

There was no line at the taxi stand. More people were opting for the express buses back to the city or relying upon family/friends to pick them up. My driver was a 60-year old woman from Guatemala. That was a first. She was listening to talk-radio but left me alone. I prefer it when I don't get pestered with conversation.

When I returned home, I sorted through my mail. I had several packages including a snafu from I ordered one copy of Zagats NYC restaurant guide. I got four, but was only billed for two.

My toes were cold. I counted out loud the number of days until the Bahamas. Eleven.

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