Saturday, May 31, 2008

Welcome Back...

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

This is going to be one of those sloppy posts written in ten minutes so expect a lot of grammar errors and tons of run-on sentences.

I started work around 10:30am and left at 1am. That's a below average day compared to last year. I was up to 3:30am writing for a 17 hour work day. I figured that would be the norm.

I had fun my first day at the 2008 WSOP due to the fact that I'm working a less stressful job and I have more time to hang out and talk to a alot of friends of mines that I met through poker. There are a bunch of folks that I only get to see on the tournament trail or exclusively in the summers during the WSOP. A couple of folks I last saw in Copenhagen or in Australia. It was really sincere to catch up and hear how everyone is doing, where they have been (like Costa Rica), or who they are working for.

Poker media seems to have a revolving door. If you have been in the business since 2000, chances are you worked for at least every major player in the industry. Every year at the WSOP, there are people who are working for a different outlet, me included.

A few friends won't be joining us tis year like Amy and Otis is not coming out to the end of June. But Spaceman arrived and is looking like Jim James from My Morning Jacket. Holy shit, talk about a mountain man! He's here along with some other chill folks like Owen from Vancouver and my buds at the Pokerati crew: Michalski and California Jen. In true Pokerati slacker fashion, Jen showed up totally hungover and Michalski showed up at 5pm (for a noon day start) then left before the stroke of Midnight.

Of course, I'm awaiting the arrival of everyone's favorite chain-smoking French journalist... Benjo!

Nicky had a brutal job this year, much like she and I both endured last year. It's not easy. Lucky for me, I managed to secure an assignment that will let me float around more and write about stuff that I want to write about. The best part about Day 1 was that everything I did... was what I wanted to do. Unfettered. Unrestrained. And you know what, I had a ton of fun and still managed to write at an elevated level, something I only attained a handful of times last year.

I only drank two beers all day... spread out between 5pm and Midnight. I didn't smoke much. I didn't spend a ton of money on food, but then again, Nicky and California Jen both failed to finish their ceasar chicken wrap or turkey sandwich and I got a free lunch! I ate a Cliff bar, a $6.50 cold personal pepperoni pizza from Pizza Hut, and a hamburger. No cheese. No fries. I spent $4 for one water. Unreal. I must have spent under $35 for food and another $20+ on beers and buying rounds.

Back to work in a few minutes... the commute is gonna suck!

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Clam... Before the Storm

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

Before you spelling Nazis get on my case, I intended to use the word clam instead of Calm.

In less than an hour I begin covering my fourth WSOP. I'm excited a tad, but for the most part, I'm looking forward to the last day. I wish I could just fast forward through time.

I ate all you can eat BBQ yesterday during a catered staff meeting for Poker News. I got to meet new staff members and catch up with old friends like Mean Gene, BJ, and F Train. Poker News is a global corporation and they have a lot of international workers which I befriended such as the Brits (Snoopy & Jen), the Aussie (Slippers, Tom, and Tassie Devil) and even Felipe, the crazy Portuguese guy who takes photos with Flipchip. Good folks. They love America since it's so fuckin' cheap these days.

I'm starting to get used to living in the big house that we nicknamed Scheckytown. The pool is key and the pool guy came early this morning and scared the shit out of me while I was smoking and writing poolside. He snuck up on me.

My housemates included Schecky, JenLeo, Nicky, and Kristy who's a poker pro. She recently won the WPT Ladies Night. I had not seen her since Australia in January. She's tons of fun and picked up a shitload of healthy snacks from Whole Foods. We hung out and watched the latest episode of Top Chef. I'm totally addicted to that show and I'm bummed that I'll miss the final few episodes because of work. Thank god we have a TiVo.

Oh, I almost forgot, it's Jen Leo's birthday today. Happy birthday!!

In the last couple of summers, Tao of Pauly suffered since I focused on Tao of Poker and the WSOP. I'll do my best to write something here everyday. Drivel is drivel, right?
Tao of Cats

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

I'm considering starting a cat blog called the Tao of Cats even though I'm allergic to cats. I'll just post pictures of cats. Here's two pics of Friedman's cats that I took on Thursday...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Pauly Logos

By Pauly
Las Vegas,NV

I have some creative friends who helped come up with banners for my blogs.

Maudie whipped up Truckin' and a Tao of Poker banner:

Kat made me one for Jack Tripper Stole My Dog:

And Mookie hooked me up with this gem:

Thanks guys and gals!

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

Had a sensational dinner at Sushi Roku with Nicky, Poker Prof, and Flipchip. The special was sliced Kobe beef with garlic sauce that you cooked yourself on hot stones.

Here's some of our desserts which included mochi and the Volcano.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

hollyweird > las vegas

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

I woke up early and wrote. I was shocked when Nicky magically appeared in the living room without me having to wake her up. Since she was up earlier than expected, we headed over to Nick's since that's where I always go for my last meal when I depart Los Angeles. On Tuesday morning, Nick's was closed due to some sort of work on the gas line. We settled on our second choice... O'Groats. We didn't have too much traffic to sit through even though it was rush hour on the first day back to work after a three-day weekend.

I usually get the same thing at O'Groats which includes an iced tea, French toast, a side of bacon, and home fries. After breakfast we loaded up the car and dropped off the keys at the housesitter. We left LA at 11:20am and made good time despite stopping twice, once in Victorville where I took a leak on a tree behind a Denny's and the second time in Baker were we smoked up behind a Dairy Queen.

I drove from Baker to Vegas and listened to a bunch of selections from different Phish shows I saw in 1998 and 1999 which I downloaded from

During my turn to drive, traffic was light, except at the poorly designed 215 interchange which slowed us up a bit. We technically reached the Las Vegas city limits within four hours, but it took us another 27 minutes to reach our house in Summerlin. We pulled into the driveway of Scheckytown at 3:47... two minutes later that the 3:45pm ETA that I texted Jen Leo a couple of hours earlier.

The first time I saw the house it was empty because Schecky and Jen Leo had not moved in yet. The best part of our room is the king size bed. Our bed last year was a little on the small side. The worst bed I had to endure in the last nine months had to be the one in our apartment in Barcelona... which was built for hobbits.

We didn't drag as much stuff through the dessert as we did last year. Unloading Nicky's car was a breeze. It was on the warm side in Las Vegas and jumped in the pool to cool off.

Jen made me a great dessert that involved shortcake, sugar, strawberries, blueberries, and vanilla ice cream. Yummmmo!

I drove around to familiarize myself with my new digs. We're only a couple of minutes from Red Rock casino and fifteen minutes from Red Rock Canyon national park. I located the closest bank and found important places like Whole Foods and the closest head shop. Nicky sent me on a mission purchase a suitable smoking device. I haggled with the Persian guy behind the counter. I worked out a deal (and saved $10) and got a free ash tray thrown in.

I ate dinner with my roommates at Nora's Wine Bar, which is this yuppie eatery located in between a Williams & Sonoma and a Baby Gap just across the street. The wine seemed a little overpriced but they had reasonably-priced Italian food. We got two special starters involving meatballs. One plate was a risotta, peas, and meat ragu balls and the other plate had sweet and sour Italian meatballs.

After dinner, we watched the end of the Lakers game. That's when Schecky busted out Guitar Hero III. I had to make a few phone calls and I sat by the pool as I heard everyone having a good time inside. Nicky did better than me. I'll need to practice. Oh, and Schecky also has a wii which I'm sure I can figure out how we make outrageous prop bets.

I have a meeting on work meeting on Thursday and the World Series of Poker begins on Friday, which means I have one day to myself before it's non-stop work.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Moving Day

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

Today is one of the saddest days of the year... because it represents the end of my freedom and the beginning of my seven week stint in Las Vegas. My assignment to cover the WSOP might as well be prison sentence of hard labor, bad food, and having to sit around and listen to everyone bitch and moan.

In some ways, I am the most prepared this year than in previous years. This will be my fourth summer that I sacrificed to cover the largest poker tournament on the planet. I'm actually brining less clothes than last year but I'm taking along a portable printer this year.

In the last two years, I went into the WSOP totally burned out on poker. I actually completed a seven month hiatus (that only included one two-week assignment in Australia) so I'm ready to jump back into the fight.

I looked back at 2005, and I had to live at a place called the Budget Suites that I nicknamed The Redneck Riviera. Talk about some sketchy people living there. I guess that was my first glimpse of the underbelly of Las Vegas that most people don't get to see when all they do is stay on the Strip. They have no idea that most of Las Vegas is inhabited with the lowest forms of life...junkies, tweakers, pimps, hookers, hustlers, and other assorted criminals. But heck, it was free and ended up becoming an integral part of my moving to Las Vegas and coming of age in the poker industry story.

In 2006, I fled the rough and tumble Tropicana Avenue and headed to the swanky hills of Henderson. I moved in with my buddy Grubby who lived in a gated condo at the foothills of Anthem. When I moved in, there was ton of construction leading up and down Eastern Avenue. By the time I left, most of the empty lots had been filled in. Ironically, most of those storefronts are half-full. Or half-empty?

I really enjoyed living in Henderson because we were so far away from the Strip that at times you actually forgot that you were in Las Vegas. If we wanted a casino environment, all we had to do was drive less than five minutes to Green Valley Ranch, an upscale locals casino with inexpensive food options like a 24 hour cafe and a 24 hour Fatburger.

Grubby was a great roommate in the sense that he was a degenerate gambler and rarely around. The flip side to that was he had to keep his living expenses down so he could allocate whatever extra money towards the slot machines. That meant... no cable TV and using the minimal amount of electricity. It would not be uncommon to find us sitting in the dark and playing online poker. The only downside of the Henderson condo was that I couldn't smoke indoors and had to settle on firing up on the porch.

Since I worked for PokerStars in 2006 during the two-week main event, they put me up at Treasure Island which was a five minute drive to the Rio. Although I had to live in a hotel for two weeks (something I'm used to doing), that location allowed me to cut down on my commuting by at least an hour a day - which meant that I got three hours of sleep instead of two.

In 2007, I went looking for a place closer to the Rio Casino where I ended up spending 100-120 hours a week. Nicky and I hired a service and they found us a gated and furnished apartment less than five minutes away. They pretty much jacked up the prices at Del Bocca Vista but since it was so close, I sucked it up and paid the hefty price. I really didn't like the apartment... but we we didn't spend too much time there. The worst part? Our building was all the way in the back of the complex and you had to drive over like forty-five speed bumps just to get out of the complex. It was super annoying. But heck, I could go door-to-door in about ten minutes.

This year, we're back to the burbs. I let Nicky handle housing this year and we ended up getting a free house in Summerlin courtesy of the company that she will be working for this summer. She worked out free rent as part of her compensation package and I got to sponge off her. Lucky for us, we'll be living with a married couple (Jen Leo and Schecky) who also happen to be two close friends. Two couples in one big house at the end of a cul de sac... and we have a pool... and we have a Whole Foods around the corner.

So after three WSOPs, I finally got to live in a big house in the burbs. I'm not looking forward to the commute since traffic is awful in Las Vegas. I also have to rent a car, but I found a seven week rental for under $1K. Hey, I'm writing it off anyway as a business expense (in addition to gas which is just a shade under $4). The only thing that sucks is the fact that I have to curtail my late night drinking since I have to drive home every night.

But I'll be close to Red Rock Canyon which is my favorite part about Las Vegas. I hope to be able to drive out there three or four times a week to relax and think and meditate. I don't necessarily write better when I'm calm and serene... but I definitely think better in those optimal circumstances.


We spent all of yesterday packing up our shit so we can leave first thing in the morning. I'm brining my backpack and a garment bag. That's it for clothes. Nicky's "shoe bag" (essentially a suitcase filled with shoes and other footwear) is bigger than my backpack.

We survived a great BBQ at Nicky's parents house. Her dad makes great burgers. I took a cool pic of their cat...

Nicky's sister Mandy finished work on a couple of reality shows and she spilled the dirt on a couple of TV's most annoying stars. She had a couple of really good stories and I wish that Nicky would let me write about some of them. But that's a no fly zone.

After the BBQ, we returned home and relaxed and watched the rest of the Top Chef marathon on Bravo. I never get into reality shows, but I got sucked into that one. Even our gay waiter at this Thai food place we went to on Friday with Showcase was into Top Chef. He said that's all anyone at his restaurant talks about. We also found out that Antonia's restaurant, Foxtail, is located about ten minutes away in WeHo.

Time to answer some email before Nicky wakes up and we go get breakfast and drop off our keys to the housesitter. And then it's time to drive off into... hell.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Float with the Stone

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

The last few days have been bittersweet. I'm forced to deal with polar opposites... either I'm trying to relax and enjoying myself or I'm running around like a nut nailing down errands and feverishly writing to finish off future assignments and/or working on the blogs.

The weather was kinda crappy in LA. We were hoping to squeeze in the beach a couple of times this weekend, but alas, it rained on Friday and the blah weather continued through Saturday.

I was on work tilt on Friday. I've been trying to work out a deal and the person on the other end has not responded to my emails. They are either lazy or blowing me off. Either way, it didn't sit well with me and set the tone for the day. I also had several other fires to put out which irked me since I wanted to relax during my last weekend before Las Vegas. That never happened... and I ended up pulling an allnighter (my second of the week) in order to catch up with work. I'm slightly worried that I'm entering Vegas a little stressed and tired instead of calm and relaxed.

At least I'm used to staying up to dawn and have been getting in a few sleep deprived nights.

On the good end of things, I have been enjoying one particular writing project involving Phish's Japan Tour in 2000. I have been chasing down the flashbacks and writing and researching those epic concerts. It's been a lot of fun returning to warm memories of one of the greatest trips and adventures that Senor and I ever embarked upon. In 2007 I got sent all over the world, but even those travels could not compare to the vibes that we encountered in Japan. Fun times for sure.

As much as that project took up a ton of time over the last few days, I hardly noticed it since it was sheer enjoyment to explore those memories.

On the opposite end of that spectrum, I struggled to write up a article on an online poker tournament. I admit that my research was a half-assed effort because I really didn't want to do the assignment which landed in my lap at the last minute. But shit, money is money, right?

The good news is that I completed all those assignments in the can. I have a deadline in less than two weeks but once I get to Las Vegas, that assignment will write itself.

So late Friday night and early Saturday morning was the dead zone for me as I methodically put out all those fires that sprung up. Even when I was done, I was wide awake and had a severe case of insomnia which I tried to cure by watching bad movies on cable (like that awful Jessica Beil vehicle London) or flicks that I had seen before such as Running with Scissors or Pirates of the Caribbean 3. The best thing I caught was a German flick called Das Leben der Anderen (translated... The Lives of Others) which won an Oscar in 2007 for Best Foreign Film. It was set in East Berlin during the Cold War in the 1980s and involved the East German secret police, the Stasi, spying on a writer and his lover, a famous stage actress.

On Saturday night, we ate dinner at a cheesy Hawaiian burger chain called Islands and caught a flick at the Landmark Theatre. They had reserved seats and when we bought tickets to War, Inc. there were only a handful of seats together. We settled on the last row. Since it was opening weekend and War, Inc. was only released in one theatre in all of Los Angeles, it was a sold out showing.

I watched a lot of baseball, hockey, and hoops over the weekend. I caught every Yankee game this week in and got my money's worth. I guess that I subscribed to the service at the right time since the Yanks ran off five straight wins to pull to an even .500. Granted, they swept the lowly Mariners which is the worst team in the league. They should have whopped them good.

The Lakers are up 2-1 after dropping last night's game. For the first time in the entire NBA playoffs, the Lakers got spanked. They had been the dominant ones and went from crushing teams to looking flat and lifeless. The Celtics have their hands full with Detroit but are two wins away from returning to the NBA finals.

On Sunday, I had to buy a new phone. I only wanted a new battery but for the same price, I could have upgraded to a new phone. Verizon had crackberries on sale, but I stayed strong and avoided the temptation. Instead, I got something that was on sale that included a rebate so I practically got a new phone for next to nothing.

I kinda preferred Nicky's phone better than mine. She's a Sprint customer and Verizon did not sell her model of phone. I had to settle on Verizon's equivalent. I'm still on the fence about the new phone but at least it has a qwerty keypad which will allow me to write text messages faster and I could write more extensive notes.

I spent most of last night doing laundry and reorganizing my iPod. I ran out of space! I had to remove a lot of video stuff that I accumulated like old episodes of 30 Rock and The Office and a couple of documentaries on Metallica, Neil Young, and Bob Dylan. I also had to get rid of a lot of below average sounding bootlegs (including random jazz, Radiohead, Phish, and Galactic). That took longer than I wanted and I was up late last night organizing that clusterfuck.

Now it's Memorial Day and we're supposed to head over to Nicky's parents house for a BBQ since that will be the last time Nicky gets to see them for two months. Her sister will also be on the road for a while shooting a film on location in Utah. Once the BBQ is over, the countdown to Las Vegas begins as we start packing up all our gear for a two month stint in Vegas.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Keith Olbermann Gives Hillary the Business...

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

Keith Olbermann went off on Hillary. I think he was far too kind...

I read somewhere (I think on Wil's blog) where he referenced Hillary as the psycho ex-girlfriend of the Democratic party.

Ah, I remember the good old days when Olbermann was a Sportscenter anchor with Dan Patrick a decade ago, when Hillary was still in denial about her husband Slick Willy stuffing his sausage into Monica Lewinsky's mouth. Time are a changin'!
War, Inc.

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

I read an interesting Salon article the other day titled Moliere and Sesame Street go to Iraq. The title caught my attention. I'm glad that it did because it included an interview with John Cusack and his latest film War, Inc.

I had no idea that he was in a new movie, especially in a subversive anti-corporate and anti-war satirical comedy. Nicky and I checked out the trailer. We liked what we saw and decided to go see it. Unfortunately, Wat, Inc. opened this weekend in limited release in New York and Los Angeles. It was only playing in one theatre in all of Los Angeles. We went to a prime time showing and the theatre was sold out. We had tickets in the last row.

Did I like it? Yes. Lots of laugh out loud moments. And Marisa Tomeii is still hot.

Here's the trailer for War, Inc...

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Off the Grid

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

I watched a documentary last night on the Sundance Channel called Off the Grid: Life On The Mesa. It's a piece of land in New Mexico where a small underground community of people life off the grid. The Mesa is made up of hippies, Vietnam and Gulf War vets, runaways, and other lost souls who want to drop out of society and be left alone. The Mesa is their anti-establishment Mecca but it's a gritty and bizarre place.

Life off the grid includes zero electricity and no running water. Residents live in the middle of the dessert in make shift shanty towns. Their area is not patrolled by a police force and residents take matters into their own hands. It's sort of a cross between a tribe-like culture and a post-apocalyptic movie.

One critic described the Mesa as a "post-modern wild west" where "many residents are extremely patriotic and believe in the basic tenants of the U.S. Constitution."

Here's the video...

Friday, May 23, 2008


By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

With less than a week before I move to Las Vegas, I spent the majority of this week making necessary preparations for my migration. Lots of writing and lots of pre-writing. I must have gotten five or six columns/articles in the can and also edited several Truckin' stories.

I also put in at least 50+ hours on Coventry in the last week and expect to work another 20+ hours over the weekend. There's a still slew of material that I need to pre-write that can be published in a couple of a weeks. Coventry has evolved into a music blog but at heart, it's still a Phish blog and I write most of the "Today in Phistory..." posts. I'm currently working on a project that involved Phish's tour of Japan in 2000. And that's my main focus the next couple of days.

The good news is that the hard work has been paying off. On Monday of this week, we experienced our highest day of traffic at Coventry... 2,227 visitors. That's peanuts compared to Tao of Poker traffic, however, on consecutive Fridays Coventry actually posted equivalent numbers to Tao of Poker. Those happened to be among the top 5 traffic days since the inception of Coventry while those same days represented some of the lowest traffic this year on Tao of Poker.

A tale of two blogs. I never get excited about certain things with Tao of Poker. It's been a job for a couple of years now and will continue to do so. Whereas Coventry is still a "cool website that I write on with my friends." I love the community aspect of Coventry and the music scene. After spending three plus years in the poker industry, I was reminded of how much I missed music.

Coventry grows every day and with that comes growing pains. We got our second ever cease and desist order earlier in the week when an indie record company was in a hissy because BTreotch posted a link which had a download to a band's upcoming album that had not been released yet. They left passive aggressive comments. The Joker and I didn't want to give in. We were ready to take a hard stance since we were like the fourth or fifth website to mention the link and we didn't even upload the original. Why were they getting on our case? We were trying to promote them.

In the end, I left the decision up to BTreotch since it was his post. He elected to take it down and we supported his decision. Of course, they blew it.

BTreotch is also a musician and has an amazing musical ear. He's particular in the stuff he recommends. His mixes are infamous and weird and refreshing. He went out of his way to say amazing things about the band. They would have gotten a lot of new fans and converts had they left us alone. They underestimated the power of BTreotch and Coventry. Their loss, not ours.

What pisses me off the most is that Btreotch mentioned that band no one ever heard of on the highest trafficked day in the history of the site. Our coverage was heavy on Radiohead and Phil Lesh & Friends (since hey just finished two big tours) and that band no one ever heard of got mentioned in the same breath as one of the most popular bands on the planet and in the same breath as one of the original members of the Grateful Dead. That tiny little band was mentioned among legends in the music industry. And instead of thanking us, they were threatening us with lawyers. We're web hippies and they want to stomp us with lawyers. Talk about blowing a chance to be discovered by sincere music lovers. It's that sort of antiquated thinking that will run that band into the ground.

There is a major paradigm shift happening in the music business. The power is no longer within the record companies since no one is buying albums these days. Kids are spending their money elsewhere and get their music for free on the internet. Only hip hip and country sales seem to be driving the market and ironically those genres also represent purchases from a fair amount of people on the lowest rungs of the socio-economic ladder. Aside from niche tastes (Classical and Jazz), only people with an aversion to technology actually buy CDs... and those seem to be people 40+.

When was the last time you actually bought a music CD?

I have picked up a couple of albums on iTunes in the last few months. And that's my last resort if I can't find a copy somewhere on the intertubes or have a friend of mine upload a copy to a file sharing service like mediafire, megaupload, or send space.

I bought a Live Phish release on CD a few months ago because it came with a bonus CD and a cool t-shirt. I just wanted the t-shirt. I recall that my brother bought me a series of Jazz CDs a couple of Christmases ago. My buddy TC gave me an Ali Farka Toure CD for my birthday. But I really can't recall the last time I went into an actual record store and bought a CD.

I get a lot of promotional CDs from PR companies. Just before I left NYC, I got a copy of Steve Winwood and Newton Faulkner's CDs. I couldn't even give both away.

The first CD I ever bought? I was in high school. It was the summer before my senior year. A friend of mine went away to college and since his roommate already had a CD player, he loaned me his. He also loaned me few CDs that he didn't take with him like Van Halen, The Cars, and The Band. At the time, I was on a Grateful Dead kick. I went to Tower Records in the Village and bought Skeletons from the Closet. I was obsessed with Uncle John's Band and Casey Jones... both songs that the classic rock station WNEW played all the time.

That was almost 20 years ago.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

MySpace Intervention

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

I rarely laugh out loud at videos people email to me. I mean the last time I really let out a screeching howl was when I first saw 2 girls, 1 cup.

This video of Internet Party 2: An Intervention for MySpace might be funny for like four of you, but it gave me a hearty laugh.

Oh and here's the first internet party video.

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

I wrote a couple of interesting posts over at Tao of Poker which are less pokery than normal. Check them out...

Just Because You're Not Paranoid, Doesn't Mean They're Not After You

Poker Movies: Harold and Kumar Go to the World Series of Poker

The Road of Excess Leads to the Palace of Wisdom

And then there's this gem from Coventry... Dear Scarlett.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Solo, Shirtless, and Souless

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

I pulled an all-nighter on Sunday working on Coventry. I passed out for about forty minutes sometime around sunrise after diligently "live blogging" the setlist from the epic Phil Lesh and Friends show at the Warfield. They played three sets and played past 3am. I spent the rest of the wee hours updating the site. I passed out sitting on the couch and woke up to finish working.

I struggled, but still wrote for a bit before Nicky eventually woke up and we wandered over to Nick's for breakfast. I was dragging ass, but we wanted to get a day at the beach in since Nicky had to fly to New Orleans for a work assignment on Tuesday. Once we got back to the apartment, we shifted into going to the beach mode and made necessary preparations such as gathering up beach books and proper attire and sun block and filling up the cooler. We've been going a lot and we actually have a routine.

The drive up to Malibu was quick. No traffic on PCH. The weather was perfect in the low 80s with sunny skies. There was a light wind but the first thing we noticed were the humongous waves. The only time I saw the waves that high... were once when we went to Zuma in February and too a walk while the ocean was roaring.

We stayed for several hours. I didn't sleep. Instead I read for a bit and jotted down notes for a couple of posts. I let my thoughts drift out to sea and allowed my mind tor ace and wander. Brainstorming. I came up with some refreshing ideas. I let go of some bitter grudges. And I reminded myself what my goals were for the upcoming two months. When I left the beach... I felt lighter... sort of like taking a mental shit. I used to be all sluggish but now I was walking swiftly and with more confidence.

On the way back to the apartment, we stopped off at Zankou Chicken. For $10 you can eat a feast for two. There were times when I was traveling in Europe or Australia and I'd wake up in the middle of the night craving the garlic sauce from Zankou.

After dinner, we settled in and watched a flick... Margot at the Wedding. It was writer and directed by Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale). He's sort of my generation's version of Woody Allen. I adored Squid and was looking forward to his next project which was Margot which included Nicole Kidman, Jack Black, and Jennifer Jason Leigh.

Kidman plays Margot, a self-absorbed writer from Manhattan, who travels out to Long Island with her son to attend the wedding of her slightly-odd sister Pauline (Leigh) who is about to marry Malcolm (Jack Black) a nebbish slacker who dabbles in the arts but doesn't appear to have a job. He reminded me of myself in the late 1990s. Margot couldn't stand Malcolm and felt he wasn't good enough for her sister.

"He's not ugly. He's completely unattractive," she flippantly said.

The witty and snarky script is the strength of the film. Here's one of my favorite exchanges:
Pauline: I was dating that guy Horace back then. Do you remember him?

Margot: Was that the guy who liked to rough you up?

Pauline: No, that was our dad.

Margot: Our dad used to strip down to his skivvies and beat us with a belt.

Malcolm: That man had a sexual screw loose.

Pauline: That's awful, that stuff that happens to kids. Malcolm was fondled by a male babysitter.

Malcolm: Just use that information however you want.
This is not a dark-comedy about a dysfunctional family... rather a dark film with some comedic moments. Jack Black really plays a serious character with a penchant for teen-aged girls. I won't spoil the ending.

Like Squid, I might have to see this a few more times and even read the screenplay before I can fully appreciate the depth of characters.

My favorite line? Jack Black is standing in the mirror inspecting his junk... "My scrotum is longer than my penis."

Here's the trailer...

On Tuesday, we grabbed breakfast at Nick's something I always do on the morning that I leave LA. This time it was Nicky's turn. There was light traffic to LAX. I dropped her off and drove back to the apartment. I got stuck in traffic and it sucked.

Once I got back to the apartment, I enacted Operation Boxer Shorts and Bong Hits. I had the entire place to myself for 48 hours. I cranked up the music. I wrote. I played online poker for a small profit. I watched the Yankees get spanked by the Orioles. Jeter got drilled which sucks since A-Rod finally returned from the DL. And in true A-Rod fashion, he hit a meaningless solo HR when the game was out of reach. Nice way to pad your stats, pretty boy.

I also watched the Celtics take game 1 from the Pistons. The Celtics covered and I didn't bet on the game. The Lakers play the Spurs tonight. Should be a good game.

Showcase stopped by to pick up his mail and we hung out for a bit and caught up. Since he's no longer Nicky's roommate, I never get to see him anymore.

I spent the rest of the evening writing and listening to different music. We had gotten in trouble with a band from Portland called Au because BTreotch posted a link on Coventry which pointed readers to a download of their upcoming album which hasn't been released yet. There was some minor drama but everything was cleared before Midnight. We took down the link but I managed to snag the new album before the link disappeared. My reaction to Au's new album? Interesting, different, peculiar... but I didn't like it.

I passed out around 1am and woke up by 5am to write. I even went for a long speed walk down Olympic before I returned home to write.

I have 24 more hours of raging solo before I have to pick Nicky up at the airport tomorrow morning. I actually have a ton of work to do... so I'm better get to it.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Simpsons Videos - Intros and Homer's Picture a Day for 39 Years

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

This is one of my favorites... a compilation of different beginning for The Simpsons (specifically when they run into the house at the end and sit on the couch).

And here's one that keeps getting pulled by the You Tube police. Anyway, I found another upload of Homer A Day For 39 Years...

Monday, May 19, 2008

5 Days in 1,000 Words or Less

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

On Wednesday afternoon, Nicky drove up to Runyon Park and we went for a hike. I had never been to that park before. Showcase takes his clients' dogs there frequently for a work out. It's a park that's located at the base of the Hollywood Hills and features steep trails all the way up the canyon. We saw plenty of dogs and lots of pretty people working out. I never saw so many over the hill models sweating their asses off before.

After the hike we hung out at the apartment before dinner. I had a bad run at the online poker tables and dropped $600 inside of an hour. Thank God we had to go to dinner at Taste of India. The meal started out great but somewhere along the line, I got sick and had a rough night.

I couldn't sleep for most of Wednesday and spent the entire night on the couch ripping bingers and watching a Top Chef marathon. I eventually passed out and slept for 95 minutes before I woke up at dawn to write.

I edited several Truckin' stories and wrote two future columns to get as many in the can as I could.

On Friday, I met Joe Speaker for lunch downtown. We caught up on life and discussed his son's little league games. We both reminisced about playing little league at a time where we wore jeans and a really cheesy team t-shirt as our uniforms.

After lunch, we drove up to Zuma beach in Malibu. Nicky read the new James Frey book about LA and couldn't stop talking about all the things wrong with it like names of freeways. Since we went in late afternoon, we were able to get a glimpse at the sun set. Amazing. Sensational. Zuma is one of my favorite places to go and sit and think. I always felt that I write better in Las Vegas when I visit Red Rock Canyon. Well, the same goes for Zuma and LA.

On the way home, we stopped off at In & Out Burger. I was starving and went for a 3x3. A young black couple on a date sat next to us and got into a fight because the girl was pissed that the guy took her to In & Out.

On Saturday, I woke up early and it was almost 90 degrees. We went for breakfast at Nick's and sat outside. Our waiter joked around that it was so fuckin' hot and that he was sweating his ass off and hungover. He was definitely hustling and it was wicked hot and only going to get hotter.

After breakfast, I watched the Yankees/Mets game on, which came on at 10am. I wrote for a bit then played online poker in the afternoon and watched the Preakness.

On Saturday night, we headed to West Hollywood to see STS9 at the House of Blues. STS9 is a band I have been seeing for almost a decade at different places all over the country such as Florida, Texas, Colorado, New York, San Francisco, Las Vegas, and now in Hollywood. They sort of fall into the jamtronica genre... a jam band meets electronica. It's the sort of music that sounds great at 2am after your second hit of ecstasy kicks in.

We got there early and Stellas cost $7 to drink. Two DJ opened up for STS9. The boys finally took the stage and we were fairly close to the action. First set was average and they played a couple of new songs. The second set had several epic moments. Lots of wasted people as hippies and hipsters danced their asses off.

Before the concert, I hurt my shoulder trying to shut a closet door in the apartment that was stuck. By the time the show ended, it was killing me. I had to grease up with Ben Gay and pop two Xannies to fall asleep. When I woke up, my entire arm and shoulder and neck was stiff. It felt like I pitched both ends of a doubleheader.

Nicky slept in and we had a lazy Sunday. We didn't motivate to go eat breakfast until after 3pm. We went to Canter's Deli. I guess we looked like we just came from the beach because our very gay waiter asked us if that's what we did.

"The beach? We just woke up. This is breakfast!"

The waiter fucked up my order. I asked for a pastrami on a kaiser roll. He specifically said, "Kaiser is fifty cents extra. Is that OK?" I agreed and he went to place our order. Five minutes later, he returned with a pastrami on rye.

It wasn't the end of the world and I was too hungry to send the food back. I ate half the sandwich when he came over to apologize for fucking up my order. He didn't have to, but I appreciated his candor. I'm so used to horrible service in Los Angeles basically because most of the wait staff are either slackers, stoners, and thespians waiting tables while they wait for their big break. I'm just happy to get any semblance of food in LA that I automatically lower my standards of what I think is good service.

OK, but the very gay waiter kept touching me. Every time he stopped by the table, he would put his hand on my shoulder or back. Really weird.

We rushed back home so I could watch Sunday night baseball which came on at 5pm on the west coast. The Mets spanked the Yankees and it was brutal to watch. I played more online poker and lost again. My losses for the week totaled almost 1K.

Nicky went off to write and I got stuck watching the end of the Yankees game and working on Coventry and uploading photos to Flickr.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Bar Scene from A Waking Life

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

Here's one of my favorite scenes from one of my favorite Richard Linklater flicks...

My favorite line from the clip... "A well armed populous is the best defense against tyranny."

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Beach and Food Pic Dump

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

Here's a few pics that I took this week...

Chocolate Mousse

Kim's bacon from bld

Goat cheese omelet with chrizo home fries

Nicky made Tortellini



Friday, May 16, 2008

The Yankees Suck - Late May Edition

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

Over the past few days, I have been in an email exchange with my brother and Jerry discussing the Yankees. I usually have very brief observations such as "Moose rules" or "Yanks suck."

But I finally had something of substance to say and the next thing I knew, it was fifteen minutes later and I wrote a bullet-pointed email.

Anyway, here's the meat of the email I sent to Derek and Jerry...

Let's really look at why the Yankees suck.

1. Injuries do matter. A-Rod was last year's MVP. He's an all-star and a future Hall of Famer. Posada is really the glue of the Yanks and keeps the young pitchers in check. No A-Rod leaves a monster gap in the line-up. What good is getting Jeter or Damon on base when Matsui has no one to protect him? I mean Giambi is just an average player post-steroids and Shelly Duncan is way to inconsistent.

2. Hank Steinbrenner is being a retard. He's acting like his dad during the 1980s and early 1990s. Remember when George finally chilled out and stopped throwing the Yankees players and coaches under the bus in the media? The Yanks finally turned it around right around that time the Boss' philosophy changed. He let his employees do their jobs without interference. Baseball players, even high priced ones, don't play when there's too much pressure on them, especially in a 162 game season and it's May.

3. Joe Giradi is no Joe Torre. I think this is the most underrated aspect that no one has talked about in the newspapers that I read. The Dodgers are 21-19 and in second place in their division. Obviously Torre makes the Dodgers a slightly better team. I was never too keen on Giradi's hire. He played his ass off as a Yankee and is one of the more intelligent guys in the organization... but he lacks experience. I also hoped that Torre would finish out the decade with the Yanks and then Willie Randolph would take over since he was an integral part of those epic teams in the late 1970s and early 1980s. And then Giradi could take over in a decade after he got several years of experience under his belt. So that didn't happen. Torre flew the coup. Willie is coaching the Mets. And we got Giradi who I always thought was a better broadcaster than coach. I accepted the fact that I wasn't high on Torre either when he took the job, but Torre quickly won me over. Giradi hasn't done anything yet to impress me as a manager. In fact as we'll soon see from below, some of the Yankees problems have been lingering because of Giradi's ineffectiveness in handling those issues particularly with the media.

4. Joba Chamberlin is on thin ice. There's two issues at hand. First, the fist pumping stuff is something that I don't think is an issue. But the media vultures have been fanning the flames. Torre would have nipped that issue in the butt immediately. I fault Giradi for not addressing that sooner and letting it get bigger than it really was.... just a display of youthful exuberance. Torre would have told Goose to shut up and not say anything in the media and handle it internally between Goose, Joba, and Torre. Chalk that flare up to Giradi's inexperience. He has to know that a vital requirement of his job is also putting out fires in the media before they even ignite. OK, secondly, the more important issue with Joba is the entire Starter vs. Reliever debacle. Right now the Yanks upper management is split between having him start and remain the set up man and heir apparent to Mo Rivera's role as closer. Bottom line - Torre would have nipped this in the butt with the media before the season began and beat reporters would know not to pester him and his players about that distracting question. If beat reporters don't write about it, the national press doesn't get wind of it and have nothing to ask when the Yankees hit the road. And yeah, Joba should stay in the pen despite the starting pitching woes.

5. Starters 4 + 5. Moose, Wang, and Pettite are pitching solid like a 1-2-3 should. But didn't a lot of pundits predict that Moose would be the #5 starter? He's having a great year at 6-3 and lost a couple of close games. He has 30% of the Yankees wins so far. The young guns have been young duds. Rasner looked good as a call up but Kennedy and Hughes have been pitching like chumps. Maybe they aren't that good? Maybe they can't handle the pressure? Maybe we should have traded both for Johan Santana. What will happpen in July when Moose cools down or Pettite gets hurt? Will any of the young guns step it up or will Hank freak out and start trading away prospects to get a second-rate pitcher? Ineffective starting pitching in May will come back to haunt the Yankees at the end of the summer when the toll on their relievers starts to show.

6. Ghosts of Yankee Stadium. The Yankees are an unimpressive 9-9 at home and 11-13 on the road. What happened to home field advantage? Bottom line - the Yankees switching stadiums is a minor distraction since everyone is talking about it. More importantly, maybe the ghosts of Yankees past are wicked pissed?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The 420 Guy on The Price Is Right

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

I thought it was just another urban legend... but then I stumbled upon the video on You Tube. Here's the infamous video where a stoner kid bids "420" multiple times on the game show The Price Is Right.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

These Are the Better Days

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

This is sort of the calm before the storm. A semblance of peace before the war. In less than two weeks, I'll be relocating to Las Vegas for most of the summer. For now, I'm spending as much time in Los Angeles and relaxing and gearing up for a seven-week assignment. I'm sort of itching to get to Vegas. I can't wait to do some real writing but as soon as I get there... I'll be itching to get the hell out.

Since my arrival in California on Saturday, I have been engaging in activities that I probably won't do in Las Vegas... such as going to the beach, watching random TV shows, quality time with the girlfriend, having leisurely lunch with friends, and seeing live music. You would think that I could accomplish all of those things in Las Vegas, but I know better.

Once I get to Vegas, I get tunnel vision and only focus on the task at hand... which is the next deadline. That's all that really matters.

The last couple of days entailed plenty of pre-writing assignments for a couple of clients. I'm working on several future assignments and writing columns which I can have in the can and ready to email on the day those pieces are due. This is a task that I have been doing in May since 2005. Gotta get those stories in the can so I can focus on other deadlines once I get to Vegas.

I also cranked out 80% of the next issue of Truckin' including edits. Yep, the June issue will feature six stories including a flashback from the original issue since Truckin' turns six in June. I'm going to try to finish up the issue today and begin work on the July issue.

I'm trying to get all the heavy writing done this week so I can relax next week and read and do nothing except not think about poker.

* * * * *

On Sunday night, I was starving. It was late and not too many places were open as we drove back from the Greek Theatre. We passed the infamous diner that was used to shoot scenes from Swingers. It was crowded and crawling with hipsters so we opted for Mel's Diner near Hollywood where the food is average and the prices are on the high end for a diner. I ordered a three-cheese omelet which I ate on an English Muffin. They had old school jukeboxes at the tables. I played a Beatles tune and went waaaay back and put on a Martha and the Vandellas song.

Monday was a blah day. Nicky slept in and we headed to lunch at Nick's Coffeeshop around noon. I went with something completely different... chocolate chip pancakes with hashbrowns and Italian sausage. It ended up being a nice change of pace.

I wrote for most of Monday morning (my review of the Phil Lesh show for Coventry) and wrote in the afternoon (column for Poker Player Newspaper) before we caught a movie at the Grove. We settled on Iron Man. I used to read the comic when I was a kid and Nicky was interested since she's a big fan of Robert Downey, Jr. I thought it was above average with some entertaining moments and several moments of pure cheese. It killed several brain cells and I know why it did so well at the box office. Plenty of action. I had no clue that Jon Favreau directed the flick until the end credits rolled.

Nicky cooked me jerk chicken for Monday night. Delicious. We watched most of the original Bad News Bears before we watched a slow-moving flick called The Dead Girl. The Bad News Bears was much better. Obviously.

I found out that Tatum O'Neal made $350K for her role as Amanda. She also had 9% of the gross. Sick deal for the kid who just won an Oscar.

Here's a "Where are they now" video...

On Tuesday morning, I was up super early... by 5am. I wrote for a couple of hours then took a break to play some online poker. I turned a small profit (almost $100) by 7;30am and was smoking tough on Nicky's couch and sitting in my boxers while ripping bong hits to John Coltrane/Thelonius Monk.

We met up with our friends Ryan and Kim for lunch at bld. They brought their one-year old and he was chill and mellow. Why can't all babies be like that? Ryan gave us a hilarious introduction to his kid. He pointed at us and said, "Son, these are potheads."

Catching up during lunch was fun. We didn't know what to do afterwards. Since it was super sunny out, I suggested we go to the beach. Nicky drove up to Malibu around 3pm and there was zero traffic. We might have even set a record time getting up to Zuma. The beach was empty when we drove in... which got Nicky suspicious. We soon found out why... it was super windy. We hung out for a bit but it was too cold for Nicky and not much fun. We smoked a bunch then drove back into the city.

I convinced Nicky to let me cook dinner. I was craving a burger and I whipped up mini-burgers which I served on English muffins... two were topped with swiss cheese, sauteed onions and portabello mushrooms, while the other two were cooked with a BBQ chiplote rub and topped with cheddar cheese. That was OK, but I preferred the swiss & shroom burger.

Well, now it's Wednesday. I've been up since 6am and wrote for a bit. Gonna check the weather and see if it's a good beach day. If not, then I'll stay in and write.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Best of Twitter: The Skippy Chronicles, Vol. 1

By Pauly
Hollyeird, CA

I've been on Twitter for a couple of weeks and encouraged Skippy to join because he originally got me into blogging. Time to pay it back. I figured that he's get hooked on it... and he did, which is great because his tweets almost always make me laugh my ass off.

Twitter is sort of tough in that you have only 146 characters to speak your mind. Brevity is essential. There's a lot of good content out there, but Skippy's fodder always rises to the top.

Here's the Best of Skippy on Twitter over the last few days...
Speed Racer is getting blistering reviews. Perhaps I will save my money. I will put Skittles in a blender and watch that for two hours.

I had a brilliant idea but I already forgot it.

I am going to write "The 18 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork" just to prove the guy the wrote the book about 17 laws wrong.

Re: today's Family Circus: Who got finger paint all over mom and dad's S&M dungeon? Once again, Billy and Dolly pin the blame on Not Me. about 6 hours ago from web

Stopped at a red light this morning, I looked in my rear-view mirror and saw a woman slap her kid.

Chinese food for lunch. Will keep leftover rice to sell on eBay to third world at enormous profit.

Do I like Madonna because I'm gay, or am I gay because I like Madonna? Either way, I'll pick up her new album this week.

New superhero idea: Irony Man
Keep it up, Skippy...
The Last Few Days at Coventry

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

We had some quality coverage at Coventry the last few days. Definitely download BG's jazz mix. Also, check out Strawberry SHortcake's hilarious post called It's Just a Plant which has hilarious excerpts from a marijuana book for children.
It's Just a Plant
BG's Coventry Jazz Mix - A Few Of My Favorite Things
My Morning Jacket SNL Videos
Radiohead Videos - YouTube All-Stars
Radiohead MP3 Download - 5/5/08 West Palm Beach, F...
Obama & Reckoner!!!!
Grateful Dead Videos - Acoustic Ripple
Talladega Nights Bar Scene: How Rednecks Hear Jazz
Widespread Panic Best of St. Louis Mix

Monday, May 12, 2008

Sunday at the Greek Theatre; Grace Potter and the Nocturnals Open for Phil Lesh & Friends

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

Right after the Langerado music festival, I bought a ticket to Phil Lesh and Friends' concert at the Greek Theatre in LA. I thought Phil Lesh's latest lineup was the best that he had in years and they were one of the many highlights of Langerado. When I scanned their tourdates, I jumped at the chance to see them at the Greek.

I found out several weeks later that Grace Potter and the Nocturnals were opening up for Phil Lesh, which is sort of big because Phil usually doesn't have an opening act. It was great news because both Nicky and I have been on a huge Grace Potter kick over the last couple of weeks.

The Greek Theatre is nestled in the hills of Los Feliz. I had only been there once before for a Trey Anastasio Band concert in the summer of 2001. Since they had an early curfew of 11pm the door opened at 4:30pm and Grace Potter was scheduled for a 5:30 start time.

Nicky woke up early to take her mother out to brunch. I stayed in and worked on a deadline. We left before 4pm and got up to the venue around 4:30pm. The Greek has stacked parking for $15 which means once you get into the parking lot... you're stuck until everyone in front of you leaves.

We hung out for a bit in the lot. I have never seen the Grateful Dead in California, although I caught a couple of Phil & Friends shows, it's not quite the same. Sure, there are Deadheads all over the globe, but the hard core ones live and still live in California. I was quickly reminded of that after being in the lot for a few minutes. When I used to follow the Dead in the early 1990s, I was part of the Gen-X crew of Deadheads which meant that my hippie counterparts were two decades older. That still held true at Phil and Friends. It was kinda cool to be around real hippies, the originals and the ones who started it all. A couple of them saw the Dead as far back as the Acid Tests in the early 1960s.

We didn't hang out for too long in the lot because we really wanted to catch Grace Potter's set. We motivated shortly after 5pm and stopped at a bathroom in the parking lot on our way over to the venue. It was a tiny bathroom with three urinals. I stood in line at the doorway. An older Deadhead (a dead-ringer for Richard Dreyfuss) wearing a tie-dyed shirt rushed past me. We had to tell him that the line started behind me. He apologized and I noticed right away that he was far gone.

"We're in California, right?" he asked.

"Yes, sir. Los Angeles to be exact," I assured him.

"Right on."

I pissed in the far urinal and the hippie guy took the one next to me. There was a window where you could see out into the parking lot. He commented on the big old school bus that had a cut out of a VW bus on top of the roof.

"It's the bus," he said. "Here, have these."

He held out his fist. I finished up my urination and zipped up before I unfurled my hand. He dropped tiny two cubensis mushrooms in my palm. By the looks of him, he must have ingested a fair amount.

I usually turn down drugs from strangers especially psychedelics. I made an exception. Buy a ticket and take the ride. The mundane always becomes extraordinary when you involve mushrooms.

Nicky and I made our way into the venue and there was no pat down by security. We bought $10 beers and found our seats towards the back of Section B. There's no really bad seat the Greek and we were almost aligned with center stage. The walk in music was bluegrass covers of Phish... Rift and Cavern.

Grace Potter came on at 5:30pm. She played for less than 45 minutes.
5.11.08, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, Greek Theatre, Los Angeles, CA

Set 1: Ain't No Time, Treat Me Right, Stop the Bus, Nothing But the Water > Drums Jam > Nothing But the Water, Apologies > Mastermind, The Big White Gate
Grace is the obvious shining star with a sultry voice that reminds me a bit like Edie Brickell mixed with a tinge of Janis Joplin. Grace also plays piano and guitar. Depending on the song, she'll even play both.

I recognized every song they played and Nicky wrote down the setlist since she knew the title to every song. The highlights for me were Stop the Bus and the Nothing But Water sandwich which included a drum jam where everyone in the band got up on the drummer's riser and beat some sort of percussion.

At one point, Grace mentioned, "I love hearing all the random shit that you guys yell. Keep it up, because we'll actually answer you."

One guy from the back screamed, "Show me your tits!"

The shrooms weren't extremely strong, but they definitely kicked in towards the end of Grace's set.

It would be almost an hour before Phil Lesh took the stage. In the meantime, I drank a couple of more $10 beers as the venue eventually filled up. I dunno if it was sold out but there were plenty of open spots. I'd say it was 85-90% full by the time Phil's set began.

Two older hippie guys sat in the row in front of us. Next to them were two hipster chicks sipping white wine. There was also a family of four nearby. I forgot that Deadheads often brought their kids to the show. The old guys befriended the hipster chicks. One of them pulled out a tiny prison joint and they smoked up only to be caught by a security guard since our section was not filled up by that point. The guard didn't throw them out and only said, "You can't do that here."
Set 1: Shakedown Street, Friend of the Devil, Bertha, Ball and Chain, Beat It On Down the Line, Cummberland Blues, Sugaree
Phil Lesh took the stage around 7:15pm. The tuned up for about five minutes before they busted out a crowd pleasing and blustery version of Shakedown Street. The gang jumped into a jam right away and didn't wait to get heated up. Right off the bat, it was obviously that it was Larry Campbell's night to shine. He and Phil ripped it up during Shakedown. There was one section where Phil soloed a few notes and then Steve Molitz on keys replicated them before they transitioned out of the jam and back into Shakedown Street. I thought they were going to segue into The Wheel, but they abruptly stopped. Jackie picked up an acoustic guitar and Larry went for a fiddle as they played Friend of the Devil. It's one of those songs that make me miss Jerry whenever I hear it.

Bertha was high energy and Larry continued to lead the way. The great thing about bands with accomplished musicians is that on any given night, someone steps up and is the MVP of the show. Jackie took those honors at Langerado. Even though it was still the first set, Larry's stellar playing early on set the tone.

I thought the flow of the set was disrupted by Ball and Chain (not exactly what I wanted to hear) and BIODTL (a sloppy version). The shrooms started to fade away and smoked heavily during those tunes while the hipster girls in front of us hit their peaked wastedness.

They saved the set with Cummberland Blues. That song was one of the highlights of Langerado and they did not disappoint with their version at the Greek. They closed the first set with a mellow yet powerful version of Sugaree, although I expected Jerry to materialize on stage and finish it off properly.

I drank a couple of more beers during setbreak. Those 24 oz. Coronas for $12 pack a punch.
Set 2: New Speedway Boogie, Devil Take Your Mind, Jack Straw, China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider, Unbroken Chain > The Wheel > Franklins Tower

E: Box Of Rain
I always have this weird theory that if you listen to music in the car on the way to a concert and happen to be listening to the same band you are about to see, inevitably, that band will play at least one song that you heard on the drive to the show. Phish used to do it all the time and it was always cool when it was an obscure song or a serious bust out.

This instance we listened to New Speedway Boogie on the way to the Greek. I mentioned it to Nicky that I hoped they played it and sure enough, they opened up the second set with a resounding version. Devil Take Your Mind was a classic Pauly Takes a Piss song. The trio of Jack Straw followed up by China > Rider was the highlight of the second set. Jackie stepped it up but Larry continued to plug away.

The second set ended with a three tune sandwich of Unbroken Chain > The Wheel > Franklin's Tower. It was a unique choice of songs to segue into each other. I kept hearing them tease The Wheel since the start of the show and it magically appeared. Franklin's came out of nowhere for me. Never expected that! Stellar version.

The encore included the standard donor rap where Phil expressed his gratitude for the kid who died and donated his organs which Phil desperately needed after decades of damage. That was followed up by Box of Rain.

Overall, it was an above average show highlighted by Larry Campbell's guitar playing. I thought some of the song selection was blah, but they managed to do a solid job with the songs that I didn't want to hear. The crowd was friendly but my section was super mellow.

I had high expectations for Phil and Friends after Langerado and they didn't quite meet that high standard which I set. In Langerado, my expectations for Phil and Friends were low because historically speaking, festival sets rarely stand out. Phil kicked everyone's ass to close out Langerado and that's why I expected them to do the same at the Greek.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

jfk > burbank

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

I woke up early still giddy from the record-setting day at Coventry. I checked traffic first thing in the morning and we were still on fire and of to an extremely great start for a Saturday. There was a very good chance that it could outgun Tao of Poker for a second straight day (which it did).

Over the last week, the Joker and BTreotch hand been following Radiohead and caught four shows in three states. The Joker live blogged the setlists and hilarious commentary from the shows via his crackberry. He wrote some gems including...
I gave a high five to the kid playing YEM and a kid with a clemson plate is puking off the bed of his 4 door diesel dodge pickup while his girlfriend waits to drive out of the lot...

in our observation, the girls wearing black dresses with sleeve tattoos at radiohead shows are usually pretty hot, but not very talkative or warm and friendly...

We pass up a face value 14th row seat from a pregnant girl. Lots of pregnant girls at radiohead shows for some reason. We have seen 5...

Weather looks threatening. Ticket scalper with baby stroller is shaken down by cops...

Strawberry Shortcake is going through her crystal/stone bag to give a guy something to hold to change his energy, cause he is mad about something...
That stuff was gold! for sure. I'm not a crackberry kinda guy, but I'll do my best to update the setlist(s) on Twitter for tonight's concert at the Greek Theatre. Nicky and I are seeing Grace Potter and the Nocturnals and Phil Lesh and Friends show on Twitter.

Anyway... I wrote for a bit on Saturday morning before I went to the Greek diner for the last bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich that I'd have for a while. I'm gonna quit bacon cold turkey for the rest of the month.

I packed 95% of my gear on Friday and finished up the process in less than two minutes. The car service showed up early and my driver was the Big Pussy look-a-like. He had not driven me in a while and was in a a jovial and chatty mood. He drove super fast and dropped an f-bomb on every fourth word.

Big Pussy loved to talk about sports betting. He said that he used to be a bookie many moons ago. He also boasted about "a great fuckin' system" for winning at baseball. He couldn't stop talking about the big bet he hit early in the week when he nailed back-to-back four-team parlays in the MLB for almost four grand.

He handed me a copy of the NY Post. He asked me to turn to the sports section where he scribbled down his picks for Saturday's games. Several teams were circled and a couple of team names were written down in the margin... Yankees, Mets (in first game of their doubleheader), Cardinals, and the Phillies. I told him that I didn't like the Cardinals or the Phillies... but I liked the Cubs and Red Sox with both New York teams instead. That's when he said he was going to bet both... his way and my way. (By the way, I would have won my end of the four-team parlay and he lost his end!)

Somewhere in Queens, Big Pussy clued me in on how certain umps in baseball and refs in the NBA and NFL are on the take and helped fixed games. He bragged about how his crew had a couple of college hoops refs in their pocket during the early 1990s. Most of them worked the lesser know leagues like the MAAC and Patriot League.

"It was so fuckin' easy to get to the fuckin' refs because they suckin' didn't make a lot of fuckin' money and some of those greedy motherfuckers all had fuckin' gambling habits."

Big Pussy told me about one game involving Rutgers and "Fuckin' Delaware State Community College by the Fuckin' Sea" where they made a killing on the game. Their guy on the inside kept Rutgers' two best players off the court with several ticky-tack fouls. They got bench by their coach when they got in foul trouble. Rutgers won by only a few points, but they didn't cover which was the most important thing since Big Pussy and his crew had all bet against Rutgers.

Of course, he could have been lying to me or re-telling a story that he overheard and he inserted himself into the hero roll. I'm too lazy to sort through every single game that Rutgers played in the 1990s so his story is unconfirmed. It didn't matter... I believed him because tons of games are fixed. I just wonder how many games that people trued to fix... but failed?

There was light traffic on the roads for a Saturday and it only took us 25 minutes to drive JFK airport. There was a super long line at security and at one point it didn't move for ten minutes. Some fat guy wearing a TSA vest and sporting a bad combover was barking at everyone in line.

"The line is not moving because people are carrying liquids through the x-ray machines. Remove all liquids immediately!"

I had an hour to kill before my flight so I grabbed a couple of Cliff bars and called BG. We caught up for a bit before I went to find my gate... which ended up being in the temporary terminal and you have to take a shuttle bus to get there. I got caught up waiting for a bus and stood behind a woman with two screaming kids. She wore Chanel sunglasses and had a super expensive hand bag. She had a nanny... a smoking hot Russian chick. I spotted a back tattoo when she bent over to pick up something that the kid in the stroller tossed. I prayed that they were not going to be on my flight.

As I stood in front of the gate, the Chanel woman and her Russian nanny and two screaming kids rolled up. I overheard the mother say, "If you be quiet we'll have ice cream on the plane."

That's when the kid began incessantly screaming about ice cream.

"Where's my ice cream!"
"I want ice cream!"
"Mommy! Where's my ice cream!"

The mother fucked up big time. What was she going to do when the kid got on the plane and realized their was no ice cream?

I must have had some bad plane karma because the rambunctious ones were seated in the row in front of me. They got on the plane first during pre-boarding and almost ten minutes passed before the time my rows were called. They were still getting settled into their seats. The oldest child (about five) was sitting in the aisle and wouldn't get up. I glimpsed at one of the flight attendants. She had her hands in her face and looked like she was about to cry. My guess was that she spent the last five minutes trying to help them get settled in and it didn't work. The kid from hell began throwing things before the nanny shoved her in the row to let everyone else pass by.

I sent a text, "cryin baby in front keeps askin 4 icecream. does pfizer make chewable valium?" Then I called Nicky to tell her about my impending anguish. She said she could hear the kid screaming on the other end.

I popped a Xanax and for the next six hours, that kid terrorized plane. If we had an air marshall, he would have shot her before we left JFK. She was a bad seed and would get her sister all jacked up and the result? She would start crying. The mother did nothing to quell the mutiny except to occasionally bark out an idle threat every fifteen minutes. The hot Russian nanny with the back tattoo had her hands full and she was doing a horrible job. I started to think that the nanny was only hired as a fuck toy for the husband, because she had no idea how to handle the kids.

Since there was bad weather in the midwest and south, the flight was a little longer than normal. Our flight pattern took us up to Canada and over the Great Lakes before flying southwest towards Los Angeles. Somewhere over Nebraska, the kid from hell ran up and down the aisles doing gymnastics and used the arm rests. I had the aisle seat and she wouldn't leave mine alone. That's when I complained.

The little hell cat tilted the entire back of the plane. I had never seen so many adults that angry. I'm surprised someone didn't snap and lock the kid in the bathroom.

Then it go ugly. One female New Yorker in her 40s finally lost it and confronted the mother. She said something to the effect of, "I have two kids and know that they can be a handful but your kids have not shut up for three straight hours. You're a terrible mother and ruined the flight for everyone on the plane."

I thought the two were going to have a slap fight in the aisle in front of me. The flight attendant stepped in and gave the mother a stern warning. She told the mother to calm the kids down immediately otherwise the mother will get thrown in jail for not controlling her child's air rage and law enforcement officials will be waiting for her as soon as she got off the plane in Burbank. At that point, the mother switched seats with the nanny and sat in between her children.

The other lowlight of the flight was discovering that there was no more BBC America on the channel roster. It was replaced by CW. I watched ESPNews which had breaking news about the NY Knicks new coach... Mike D'Antoni. Isiah is gone. All we need to do is get rid of Marbury and maybe the Knicks can start doing something.

I watched the Yankees game and they won. I also watched a bit of the NBA playoffs for the rest of the flight. We were ten minutes late to Burbank. I always forget how sunny California until I leave step outside the airport and have that moment of temporary blindness as my eyes fight to adjust to the sudden influx of sunlight.

Nicky picked me up at airport and was actually on time. It was only 5pm local time but my body's clock read 8pm and I had not eaten in almost 12 hours. We went to Mo's since it was very close by and on the way home. They specialize in burgers and I went for the bleu cheese burger with caramelized onions.

As drove back over the hills down Laurel Canyon, we listened to Radiohead. A slew of fire trucks and ambulances raced by us as we waited for a light at Sunset Blvd. That's when Nicky noticed a huge fire in Hollywood hills.

I wanted to go see Stanton Moore play at The Mint, which was located five blocks away from Nicky's apartment. We motivated around 10:30pm and walked over to the club but it was sold out! We walked back home and watched My Morning Jacket on SNL instead.
Truckin' - May 2008, Vol. 7, Issue 5

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

Your favorite literary blogzine returns with issue #72. This month includes a special Iraq story from Dr. Chako.

1. Sundays by Paul McGuire
I held four crappy jobs and had to work on Sundays at an art museum. Most of the time, I got baked in the parking lot and just stood around making sure the post-church and post-brunch crowd kept their grubby mitts off the paintings... More

2. Prison Justice by Dr. Chako
Hateem's crime must have been grave. They broke his ankles and elbows, of course. What happened next is beyond human understanding. At least five executioners must be involved. After the arms and legs, you'd think Hateem's spirit would be broken, but you'd be wrong. They must be swift. From the time the gag comes out, the screaming must be intolerable... More

3. Egotistical: Three Examples by Sean Lovelace
The radio was playing angry girl bands. I love and have always loved angry girl bands. They have what I call fuck you. Also I was waiting on a girl. A cute bra-less girl who would soon leap off a balcony... More

4. High School Reunion by Johnny Hughes
He kept asking me if I remembered people which I didn't, but he told me all about them anyway. No one would ever forget Bobby, especially me. Now the most mellow guy in West Texas had a license to carry a hand gun... More

5. Ode to.... by Dusty Rhodes
Death is natural. We will all die and we will all have friends and family that die. It is a hard thing to deal with but it has to be done. People cry, people act strong, people try to empathize but can't truly understand what it is that you are going through. Our experiences are all different but I can't imagine anyone who likes dealing with these things... More
Tell your friends about your favorite stories. The writer's write for free and appreciate the support. Thanks again for wasting your time with Truckin'.

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker at All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Last Days of NYC

By Pauly
New York City

I realized that today will be my last day in New York until after Labor Day. I thought about returning to NYC after the World Series of Poker ended in July. I checked the flights and they were pricey ... even from Vegas. I'm supposed to get travel expenses paid for a flight to the East Coast for an assignment in Atlantic City in September. I decided to wait until then and fly to NYC one week before my assignment.

Here's the thing... I have no idea what I'm doing from October onward. I don't have any work assignments but I will return to cover tournaments again in the fall so I have a feeling that I could be and will be going anywhere. As far as holidays... I'd like to go to Amsterdam in October with Nicky for a week or so but aside from that I could be in Hollyweird the rest of the year or jumping around covering tournaments. North America. Europe. Asia. Australia. WPT? EPT? APPT? Who knows?

I made the decision to jump back in for another year and make as much money as possible to fund my side projects. And who's to say that I don't switch paths and start focusing on music? I really have no idea where I'll end up. But I have a feeling it won't be in NYC for a while.

I spent the last week saying goodbye to different people in New York. I know deep down that I'm going to be on the road a lot over the next year or so. It seems that I spend less and less time in NYC and yet my attachment grows deeper and deeper. I keep telling myself that I just need one more big score which will enable me to set up shop permanently in NYC since something of that daunting task takes a lot of financial stability.

I wanted to really hunker down and write and run and workout in NYC, like I wanted last year. I did none of those things (just like last year when I had a slew of out-of-town friends visit in a short period and I spent more time fucking around then working out and writing). Drinking with Iggy and the gang really kicked my ass. It took me a couple of days to recover from that epic four day bender.

I kept pushing off two poker-related writing assignments. One of them was a pending post on Tao of Poker. I rarely pre-write stuff for my blogs. My philosophy on blogging is that it's like an open mike on a stage. I get up and say my piece and then exit stage right. No rehearsals. Just writing from the gut. In the past I've written stuff (sort of recorded live to tape) that I saved and then posted at a later date usually because I had to get on an airplane or some travel thing like that. But this particular topic for the Tao of Poker requires hefty research. I didn't really have the time or energy to set aside a couple of hours. I slowly did the research and sometime this weekend, I'll re-read everything in one sitting and then write my reaction in one blathering post it instead of forcing the action. Then again, I had to be honest with myself... do I really care about what I'm writing about. The short answer is no and that's the real reason why I didn't write about it yet.

The other piece I blew off this week was for a column. Luckily, it was due a week later than I anticipated which means it will be a much better piece. Instead of working on it over the last few days... I blew it off. It was always #1 on my To Do List, yet I couldn't get fired up to work on it. I received several compliments on my last column from a few people in the industry that I respect and admire. When I hear something like that all I want to do is push myself to write a better piece. And I almost always don't because I write better when the words flow out freely than the instances that I force it out... which I often do when I write for others versus when I write for myself. That's why some of the better columns had originated from pieces on my blogs or taken from my personal journals.

I watched a lot of baseball with my brother and a little playoff hoops since we won't be able to so that for a very long time. The Yanks are very streaky this year. They'll lose three, win three, then lose two. They are struggling but I hope they get their shit together. I haven't made the decision to buy the package this year. I did it in the past but do I really want to watch crappy Yankees games this year? Besides, I'll have more time this summer so I can watch a couple more games in the different sports books around Las Vegas.

I put a lot of time into Coventry this week. It's a creative project which I have been having tons of fun with. We had another record setting day on Coventry on Friday. We smashed our previous record by 3pm on Friday afternoon. At that rate, I predicted that Coventry would get more traffic than Tao of Poker. It ended up being close. However... Tao of Poker has thousands of RSS subscribers compared to under a hundred for Coventry. More eyes might have see Tao of Poker, but I got more new eyeballs on Coventry... something I didn't think could be possible. I'm wondering how long this spike can last before it plateau's and then spills off or levels out. I get fired up when I think about Coventry or talk about it. That enthusiasm is spilling over into my other creative projects like the other blogs or the photo galleries and even Truckin'.

I'm looking great for the next two issues of Truckin'. I have never had this many stories in the can before. In the past it's been a struggle to find contributors and the summer's are always tough because I don't have too much time to work on the issues. They are always late and the quality suffers. My goal is to get the June and July issue done before I move to Las Vegas at the end of the month. And if I get off my ass, I can get 50% of the August issue done as well. Thanks to everyone who has been helping out the last few months with Truckin'.

I spent the last few days running errands and getting mys hit together before I leave for Hollyweird. I did a load of laundry. I paid bills especially an late estimated tax payment. I ate a lot of NYC-centric food that I know I'm gonna miss like bagels, knishes, pizza, and stuff from the diner. I also went out to lunch with my mother as an early Mother's Day treat since I won't be in NYC on Sunday. In a somewhat related incident, I went out to the bodega this morning to pick up my mom a pack of cigarettes. The middle eastern guy behind the counter carded me. I showed him my bald spot. Is that proof of age, or what? The funny thing... the cigs were for my mother.

I leave for the airport in a bit. Saturday flights are either very quiet or totally crazy. I'm hoping my flight to Burbank is not full and no screaming babies!

Friday, May 09, 2008

Seven NYC Videos

By Pauly
New York City

Here are a couple of videos that I shot last weekend in NYC. The three White Gold videos are priceless! The last one included the part where he pitched us the movie about a pug...

1. The Rooster - After Midnight: The Rooster gives us tips on how to pick up women in NYC...

2. Phone Booth Urination: Title is self-explanatory

3. Random Clips: Such as Bobby Bull Balls, the Rooster mops up, and a late night taxi ride...

4. StB Votes for Obama

5. White Gold, Vol 1: This guy was hysterical!

6. White Gold Vol 2: More hijinks...

7. White Gold Vol 3: The movie pitch about a pug and Patrick Swayze