Wednesday, December 03, 2008

jfk > long beach

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

Was 90 minutes of my time worth $65?

That's what it all boiled down to. If I took the subway and express bus to the airport, the total cost would be $15 (not including $2 for the subway). If I hired a private car service to JFK, it would be $80 with tips and tolls... but I'd get to leave later. Since I was traveling super light with just one bag with only my laptop and the clothes on my back, I opted for the cheaper route to the airport. The $65 I saved would go towards a free batch of medicinal. Times are tough. Trying to cut back.

I left super early and grabbed the subway. I had roughly 15 pages of my own work to eyeball along with the last two copies of Rolling Stone magazine. The subway took a little longer than expected. The guy next to me on the downtown express read My First Five Husbands an autobiography by Rue McClanahan. The shuttle to Grand Central was also supper packed with a mixture of tourists, a school group, and suits. The group of suits were discussing get new blackberries for their department in January. They were all excited.

I scurried out of the subway and grabbed a black and white cookie in Grand Central Station at Hot n' Crusty before I wandered outside to the alleyway where the airport expresses buses picked everyone up. The ticket line was about seven or eight people deep. There was one bus ready to depart for JFK. The driver was closing the luggage compartments and making a last call for JFK. He pointed to the back of the ticket line and asked if any of us were headed to JFK. I told him that I was but didn't have a ticket. He waved me over away.

I saw this as an opportunity to get a discounted ride. He was hoping to get a cash fare and pocket the fare. The ticket to JFK cost $15. I had a $10 bill. I told him, "I wanted to pay with a credit card and only had a $10 bill."

He was obviously on a tight schedule and said, "This is your lucky day." He snatched the $10 bill out of my hand and let me on the bus. We all won. I stiffed the man. The working class guy got to pocket $10 and I got a discounted fare to the airport. I saved $70.

And you know what? We caught a break getting out of Manhattan and through Queens. There was light traffic out to JFK as I listened to a Widespread Panic bootleg. We arrived in less than forty minutes which gave me three hours to kill in the brand new Jet Blue terminal.

Security was a bit delayed. I had a slow-moving family in front of me with a loud-mouthed guy from Long Island with his even louder wife and two young kids. They looked like they were going on vacation somewhere and held up the line.

After I finally cleared security, I headed up to elevated computer lounge area which included power outlets in the floor. I played online poker for an hour and got my ass kicked.

I ate breakfast around 9am when I headed to the Greek diner for a breakfast sandwich, and aside from the black and white cookie which I devoured on the bus, I was kinda hungry. JetBlue only gives you a snack so I grabbed a late lunch; a Buffalo Chicken Caesar wrap at the Boar's Head deli. Good stuff.

I wandered into the bookstore and I looked for Malcolm Gladwell's new book. I read the first 100 pages in Barnes and Noble the day before and wanted to finish reading it without having to pay the outrageous $27.99 price tag. I couldn't find a new copy and I thumbed through a book about car traffic. The line that stuck out the most was, "You're not in a traffic jam, you are the traffic jam."

I headed to my gate and read one of two copies of Rolling Stone I had with me. The first one chronicled the top 100 singers of all time. Aretha Franklin was number one. The day before, I heard her perform a cover of The Band's The Weight on local Fordham U. radio.

My flight boarded on time. I had an exit aisle seat and they called my row first along with old people and families with kids. The exit row had a bot more legroom. And no babies anywhere! They were all in the front or back of the plane. The guy next to me took a bad beat the first two hours or so because his TV screen did not work. They finally fixed that problem. I mean, that's the entire point of flying JetBlue, right?

I read the other copy of Rolling Stone while we waited forever on the tarmac at JFK. I thought we were going to be late, but we magically made up time in the air. We'd arrived 15 minutes earlier.

After watching a bit of the food channel (Bourdain and Rachel Ray), I watched three documentaries about three different drugs. The first one was about heroin production in Afghanistan. They are producing 30-40% more heroin post 9/11 than before. Of course, North America doesn't get the majority of their smack from that locale. Most of it enters via the Triad or through Mexico. Afghanistan smack ends up in Central Asia, North Africa, and in Europe. Did you know Iran has the most opium smokers per capita?

And then there was a documentary about crystal meth. The best line? "If you know how to cook chocolate chip cookies, then you have the fundamentals to cook up a batch of crystal meth."

Holy shit, really? Why haven't I been doing that all along? I should sell those on Phish tour next year. "I got Meth cookies! One for $3. Two for $5!"

By the way? The majority of the crystal meth in the US comes via Mexico. The drug cartels down there import a shitload of mixing agents from Chinese chemical companies despite drawing the ire of the DEA and other US law enforcement agencies. The Chinese ship their various chemicals and agents to chemists in Mexico who mix it up south of the Border. The cartels employ drug mules to carry them up to the states. Most of the meth gets distributed via motor cycle gangs to the Northwest and Southwest, including California and Las Vegas.

And the last hour of drug documentaries was my favorite; Marijuana starring Lisa Ling. She went on a DEA raid of a growing operation in a national forest. She also went up to Canada to check out a legal grow operation.

Man, after watching three hours of non-stop programs about drugs, all I wanted to do was get high! Nicky picked me up at the airport and I was jonesin'. We had less than 40 hours to spend in Los Angeles before we have to fly to Mexico.

Time to finish up some writing including Truckin'. The new issue comes out... soon.

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