Sunday, August 31, 2008

burbank > jfk

By Pauly
New York City

On Wednesday, we drove down to Carlsbad to visit Jen Leo and Schecky. They bought a house several months ago and recently moved into their new digs. It was nice to see their tony little neighborhood. As a house warming gift, I gave them an authentic Pauly Painting. That particular one was painted with them, the house, and their location (a mile or so from the ocean).

We checked out Carlsbad which is a sleepy little area just north of San Diego. We ate an early dinner at some Italian joint overlooking the ocean. That was nice. My gnocchi au gratin was the clutch move of the day.

I originally bought three tickets to Radiohead's show in Chula Vista. Schecky was interested in going, so he tagged along with myself and Nicky. Chula Vista is almost smack up against the Mexican Border. We got caught up in regular San Diego traffic, border traffic, and Radiohead traffic. It took us nearly two hours to go from Carlsbad to the show. Unreal.

The last time I was in Chula Vista was to see Phish in 2000 with my friends from Japan. I was there only one other time... and that was to see Phish in 1999 with Angela. That show stood out as one of my favorite Phish shows of all time... and included a tasty 21 minute version of Boogie On Reggae Woman.

Anyway... Chula Vista is an amazing venue with top notch sound. I was excited to see Radiohead and enduring the traffic jam would be worth going through the hassle.

We had the next to last row in the seated section before the lawn. It wasn't the best seat in the house, but it was a much different scene than last Friday in Golden Gate Park. We had plenty of space.

Radiohead put on a better than average performance. I really wanted to hear Just and they also impressed me with an eerie Talk Show Host.

We drove from San Diego to LA and it took about two hours with a ton of road closures.

My last day in LA was bittersweet. I really wanted to stay behind, but I also wanted to go to NYC. I guess I was really enjoying being in one location for a while (LA for almost four weeks straight) and got used to having an apartment again.

The last day was sort of hectic. I had to finish up several writing assignments in addition to laundry and packing. I had been on the road for four months and accumulated a lot of shit. I mailed only one small box back to NYC and had to stuff everything into my backpack. I had two 2+ week trips in the future and had to pack for a different season. Although I'm going to be inside a casino for two weeks in Atlantic City, I also had two weeks in London and Holland... where the weather can be a bit tricky at this time of year.

I dunno how I did it, but I packed a ton of shit into my backpack. I didn't get to take everything I wanted, but it would have to suffice.

Nicky wanted to watch Obama's speech on Thursday night, so we made plans for an early dinner. We got back in time for Obama. I was not really paying that much attention and more focused on playing online poker instead of hanging on every word.

The Obama speech was the only bit of the convention that I watched. Over the previous days, I would get irked when Nicky put on CNN or the other alphabet news stations. I'm tuning this entire election out.

I was more excited to watch the live webcast of Radiohead's show in Santa Barbara. We posted some videos over at Coventry.

On Friday morning, I had my standard good-bye breakfast at Nick's befoe I made Nicky drive to the Valley and Bob Hope Airport in Burbank.

I arrived at the airport early and discovered that JetBlue's computer system was down. They could not issue me a real ticket and wrapped an old school baggage tag on my backpack. They told me I would get a real ticket at the gate and gave me a sketchy looking voucher that was supposed to get me through security. I didn't like the sketchy ticket. Some TSA agents can be total pricks. I've seen it happen all over America. And I had a bad feeling they were going to bust my balls when I tried to go through.

The TSA agent at the podium gave me plenty of dirty and suspicious looks while he inspected my sketchy ticket. He called a supervisor over and that's when I pointed to a sweet old lady standing behind me. She had the same ticket. They mumbled something about the "morons at JetBlue" and let me through.

As I stood in another line to inspect my carry on luggage, a different TSA agent tapped me on the shoulder. He saw a PokerStars patch on my laptop bag.

"Have I seen you on TV?"

He thought that I might have been a pro. I laughed and told him that I was poker media.

The computers were still down by the time I got to the gate. Lots of pissed of passengers, especially families trying to sit together. They had a passenger manifest that was printed out and you could only take the seat that was originally assigned. They only handed out your seat assignment when you boarded... which they did alphabetically. It took almost an hour to board everyone... which put us at least thirty minutes behind schedule.

I still had the same seat that I booked. I usually pick the same seat one very JetBlue flight. Of course when I got there, there was a Russian lady sitting there. She said that she had the window and wanted the aisle seat because she claimed that she was sick. I am a frequent traveler and that's just poor etiquette... You never sit in someone else's seat and you wait until they get there to ask to switch.

I was pissed and everyone was trying to get to their seats. I was holding everyone up. Normally, I never switch especially when someone is rude and takes your seat without your permission. But the plane was a zoo and everyone was already irate because of the computer snafus. I sucked it up and agreed to take the window seat. I gave her a stern warning.

"If you are lying and actually had the middle seat, then I'm gonna kick you out of the aisle seat and reclaim the seat that I paid for."

A couple of minutes later, a nine-year old kid with an iPhone sat down next to me in the middle seat.

I avoided all the political banter on the TV and watched a lot of the Weather Channel. They were focused on the hurricane that was headed towards the Gulf Coast. Ironically, it was three years ago this week when Katrina struck New Orleans. The History Channel had a documentary on Katrina and what exactly went wrong. I followed up that with a special on the fall of the Roman Empire.

There was one celebrity on my flight... one of the actors from "The Closer." I never watched the show so I had no idea what the fuss was all about.

Since we were running late, we missed our window. The result? We had to wait thirty minutes on the tarmac. We would end up being delayed for over an hour. I got into JFK just before Midnight and no food places were open... aside from a Dunkin Donuts stand. I ate a Cliff Bar somewhere over Pennsylvania because JetBlue got super cheap and cut out their second snack service.

My flight was kinda crappy. Holiday weekend. Lots of pissed off New Yorkers and airy Hollyweird types. Too many kids. Families with pets. Two dogs and a cat... that I counted.

My perfect airline? No middle seats. No kids. No pets. Herb friendly with wifi and plenty of TV.

My backpack was one of the first to magically appear at baggage claim. The taxi line was massive. I spotted a couple of gypsy cab drivers hustling for fares. A group of three Hispanic guys approached me. Two of them only wanted to go to Brooklyn or Queens. One would take me to the Bronx but he wouldn't do it for the price I offered. I walked away and a couple of other guys stopped me. They either declined the Bronx or wouldn't do it for my price.

I bluffed and walked to the back of the taxi stand line. That's when one of the Haitian guys agreed at my price. I had to make sure that tolls and tip were included. Once that was squared away, I followed him to his car and realized how long the taxi line was. Yeah, I got lucky.

I finally returned to NYC after four months. As soon as I walked in the door, I glanced at the mountain of mail inside a large Macy's shopping bag that had accumulated when I was gone. A nifty pile of boxes about four feet high sat right next to Macy's bag.

"Christmas in August," I said out loud.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Last 5 Books I Saw People Reading in Airports....

By Pauly
New York City

Well, it's been a while since I did one of these lists...
Last 5 Books I Saw People Reading in Airports....
1. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson
2. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
3. Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
4. The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama
5. When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris

Friday, August 29, 2008

SF Food Pic Dump

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

Been saving these... for now. All pictures taken last weekend in San Francisco.

Kezar Wings

Kezar Nachos

Spicy Pizza

Bacon & Cheese Omelet from the Pork Store

French Toast & Bacon from Pork Store

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Last Batch of Lost Tao of Pokerati Episodes

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

During the last few days of the World Series of Poker, Michalski and I taped several episodes of our podcast... Tao of Pokerati. Those episodes were never published... until now... almost six weeks after the fact. Better late than never, right?

There are seven new episodes. My friends Benjo, Grubby, Michele Lewis, Otis, and Mean Gene all made special guest appearances.

My favorite thing about these podcasts are that they are short... between two and five minutes in length. They match our half-baked short attention spans.

So here are the lost seven WSOP episodes with descriptions blatantly cut and past from Pokerati....

Our sophisticated studio...

Episode 30: The Cost of Donuts (3:19)
Grubby joins the media to talk main event numbers and the price of trendy donuts in today’s oil economy.

Episode 31: Scotchy Poker (4:02)
Dan+scotch early in the WSOP day=talk of Dario Minieri and Isabelle Mercier.

Episode 32: French Warfare (5:14)
Benjo takes over the mic when Dan calls in drunk, and he and Pauly talk more about Isabelle Mercier live from the Day 2 killing fields.

Episode 33: New York & Texas (2:40)
Michele Lewis joins in as Dan and Pauly break down the difference between Texas and New York humor, or at least the difference between Pauly and Dan.

Episode 34: Go Team! (2:37)
Dallas' Raj Kattamuri is going deep, and Pauly tracks down Dan in the poker kitchen to find out what it takes to be patched up on Team Pokerati.

Episode 35: No Wiener (4:41)
Benjo is not his usual jovial self as the main event comes to a close and he bids farewell to his American friends in the penultimate WSOP episode of Tao of Pokerati.

Episode 36: Unhookered (3:29)
The traditional late-late night poker-blogger farewell binge drinking at the Rio’s Hooker Bar, with guest appearances by Otis and Mean Gene.
Stay tuned for brand new episodes! And you can always visit the Tao of Pokerati archives to listen to all of the episodes.

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

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Outside Lands Video Dump

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

I shot some random videos during the three-day Outside Lands festival in Golden Gate Park. Here they are...
1. Radiohead - "Paranoid Android"

2. Everest

3. Grace Potter & the Nocturnals - "Ah Mary"

4. Widespread Panic - "Up All Night"

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Outside Lands Pictures: The Musicians Dump

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

I published a Flickr gallery of photos from the Outside Lands festival which also included random pics my trip to San Francisco. You can check out it out... here.

And here are some of my favorite pics from the music festival...

Fan waving Mexican flag during Manu Chao

Joel Graves from Everest

Devendra Banhart

Ben Ellman (Galactic) with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band

Cyril Neville with pimp hat

Les Claypool & Primus

Toots & the Maytals (from video screen)

Justin Vernon from Bon Iver

The Drive By Truckers

Grace Potter at the keys

Widespread Panic on the Sutro Stage

Don't forget to check out my Outside Lands photo gallery!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Happy Sunday at the Outside Lands Festival in Golden Gate Park

By Pauly
San Francisco, CA

Day 3 of Outside Lands stood out as the most enjoyable day out of the three day festival. The weather was beautiful in Golden Gate Park for a lovely Sunday afternoon. Friday was hectic and madness. Saturday was mellow and relaxing. And Sunday... was the one of the best days that I had in San Francisco even though five acts that I really wanted to see all seemed to be playing at the same time!

We had a semi-late start to the day and wandered over to Haight Street for some breakfast. We loved the Pork Store so much that we went back again. We sat at the counter and devoured their biscuits and I sat next to a Scottish woman on her way to Burning Man.

We caught a cab instead of walking. That saved us like 45 minutes. I didn't get a pat down, but an old hippie chick was working the security checkpoint and smelled the dank OG Kush that I had hidden in my bag. Initially, she let me through. Then abruptly stopped me as she grabbed my arm. She made sniffing gestures with her nose and pointed at my bag.

"Meet me at set break!" she said as she unfurled a smile and let go of my arm.

I just smiled and walked into the festival. We arrived in time to catch the beginning of Toots & the Maytals. It was a sunny afternoon and perfect weather for happy reggae. Toots played Reggae Got Soul and Louie Louie which got the crowd even more excited. Justin from LiveMusicBlog found us as we chilled out for about thirty minutes before we wandered over to check out the end of The Mother Hips set with Chris. He had a sweet spot on the side of the hill... Schools Side... just in front of the VIP area. It would come in handy for Panic later on.

We walked to the other end of Lindley Meadow for Bon Iver. Say it with a French accent. That sorta means "good winter" in French (actual spelling is "bon hiver" but the "h" was dropped). Bon Iver is Justin Vernon's band. The singer/songwriter from Wisconsin holed up in his old man's cabin in Wisconsin to write the material. I wasn't all that impressed with Bon Iver. It wasn't for me. I preferred the songs where Justin Vernon played acoustic guitar over electric. We drank and smoked and caught most of his set.

We headed back to Chris's spot and hung out for the Drive By Truckers. I dug what I saw and heard and they were a nice warm up for Panic. Good to hear some Alabama accents. Patterson Hood mentioned that he had a blast in San Francisco and thanked everyone who passed him a beer and a joint over the last few days.

We left early to secure a good spot for Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. The girlfriend loves Grace, as do I. We hung out in front of the soundboard next to four girls on a blanket. They had a ton of food including a big bag of Oreos that the Joker ogled. Turned out the girls were Swedish and we hoped that their foreign tongues didn't freak out the Joker like it did during Radiohead.

At one point, a spun out hippie chick wandered through the crowd with a duck on a leash. Yeah, her pet duck. The Swedish girls went nuts and couldn't stop laughing. It was the weirdest thing they saw so far at the festival, especially in San Francisco... the city of the weird.

Nice shades, Grace!

GPN started out with a bang. Grace wore the same orange shades as The Joker and threw them into the crowd in the middle of the opener of Ah Mary. Up next were Mastermind > Ain't No Time and Apologies. The highlights were Stop the Bus and Sugar > Paint It Black. First time I ever heard Grace bust out the Rolling Stones cover.

We left at that point to get prepped for Widespread Panic. Went to pee and load up on beverages. We found the crew at Chris' spot and found the guy who gave us the liquid from the other night. We discovered his real name, but had been referring to him as "DeShawn" the entire weekend. For legal purposes, we'll continue to call him "DeShawn"... anyway, he offered me another drop and I respectfully declined because we were doing dippies.

Starting at 5:40 or so... the Sunday schedule became one huge conflict for me. Inside of a two hour period, there were five different acts (Widespread Panic, Wilco, Mike Gordon, Los Amigos Invisibles, and Rodrigo y Gabriela) that I really wanted to see but some of them were up against each other and on different stages on the other side of the park. I made the decision to make Panic my priority since they are one of my favorite bands and I didn't get a chance to see them this summer. My original goal was to see Panic then catch the end of Wilco. I would sacrifice everyone else since we caught Rodrigo y Gabriela and Mike Gordon at the Mile High music festival in Denver last month.

Widespread Panic came on about five minutes late and I assumed that they would run a little later than their alloted 5:40-7:10 spot. The boys opened with a crowd pleaser... Climb to Safety, which segued into Fishwater. The Joker and I were super excited for Henry Parsons. They played one of the recent newer songs Up All Night, which Chris called "radio-friendly Panic." I'm not the biggest fan of Solid Rock but it was a sizzling version. They really ripped it up with Chainsaw City.

Ann Marie Calhoun took the stage and joined the band on fiddle. She would sit in for the rest of the show with the boys. I didn't know the first song that they played and smoked tough. Shit, DeShawn was puffing machine and we packed a bowl at the start of every song!

Ann Marie Calhoun on fiddle

Things took off with a delicious sandwich of Surprise Valley > Blackout Blues > Surprise Valley > Ain't Life Grand. Yeah, holy shit, that was a sensational way to close out their set. And yeah, Panic ran late which bled into Mike Gordon's set on the other end of the meadow.

Panic's performances during festivals are usually hit or miss. They nailed the Golden Gate Park gig. I was kind a hoping that they'd bust out a Dead cover or two like Cream Puff War or Morning Dew. Alas, they didn't have enough time for any covers. Too bad.

The Joker left Panic just before Ann Marie Calhoun took the stage since he really wanted to see Wilco. Since Wilco was on the other side of the park, it would take us about 10 minutes to walk over there. We decided to save time and check out the end of Mike Gordon since he was very close by. Good choice. We ran into Justin and DeShawn over there. Mike got to run over his time as well. His last song was a Beatles cover of She Said. We caught that in Denver, but I definitely liked this jamming version a lot better. Keep an eye (or ear) out for it if you come across the show on the intertubes.

We met up with the Joker at the CrowdFire tent and found Professional Keno Player Neil Fontenot, who dragged us to Jack Johnson because he wanted to pick up wasted high school girls. He told us a crazy story about how he got a handjob from a rolling sorority girl during Radiohead. He asked her for her cell number but she gave him a bunk number instead.

We ate and drank and smoked and hung out in the back of the polo fields during Jack Johnson. We stayed for a few songs before we decided to leave and beat the rush out of the festival grounds. No cabs were around, so we walked back to the hotel which took us about an hour to make the trek out of Golden Gate Park. Afterwards, we headed to the Kezar Pub for a nightcap. We drank beers and watched the closing ceremonies for the Olympics. One Spreadhead played Panic on the jukebox... Greta... which was a fitting way to end a highly interesting and entertaining weekend.

Overall, I had a ton of fun. The costumes drew us a ton of comments. Most of the time we were called the "track suit guys" and my favorites were when a bunch of guys called us Run DMC or when one girl referred to us as the "Kazakhstan track team."

Despite the scheduling conflicts, and the clusterfuck on Friday night with Beck & Radiohead, and the PA going out... we all had fun. Our overall objective was accomplished. We also met some new friends which is part of the reason we go to shows and to festivals.

The summer is slowly coming to an end and partying in San Francisco and at the Outside Lands festival was a fitting way to end the season.

Oh, and I get to see Radiohead on Wednesday in San Diego, which is a special added bonus treat, especially after the mayhem on Friday.

Stay tuned for pics and videos.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Saturday at the Outside Lands Festival in Golden Gate Park

By Pauly
San Francisco, CA

What a difference a day makes.

"It's like we flew to an entirely different city to see a different music festival," commented the Joker.

His assessment was dead on. Saturday was more than pleasant. The audience was in good spirits and the crowds were manageable. We had fun, saw a couple of bands we would have never seen otherwise, and met some new friends. Overall, it was a sensational day and we did not encounter any of the problems that plagued Friday night's clusterfuck.

We didn't sleep a lot on Friday night, but got some rest which was key. We were up early to meet our friend Betty Underground for brunch at the Pork Store. Awesome biscuits and stimulating conversation. We told her about the madness from the night before and she was happy that she skipped it.

We were prepared to walk to the festival again, however, we lucked out and found an idle cab. He gave us a lift and that saved us about 45 minutes of walking. We ended up seeing a couple of acts due to the extra time such as Abagail Washburn and the Sparrow Quartet featuring Bela Fleck. Happy afternoon festival music.

That was actually the first time that we spent time in that part of the fairgrounds by the Sutro and Presido stages on Lindley Meadow. We noticed the old fence that was knocked down by the night before frantic fans who couldn't get out of that area. A new fence replaced the old one. The Sutro stage was rather small for a popular artist like Beck. No wonder it was so bottlenecked in there. I hope it's not like that for Widespread Panic's stint, who got bumped over to a secondary stage instead of the main stage. I betcha they were pissed and will tear it up on Sunday.

Lucky for us, Everest was playing just a few steps away at the Presido stage which was located at the other end of Lindley Meadow. I heard one or two of Everest songs before. I knew they opened for My Morning Jacket in Europe and were signed by Neil Young's record label. The rocking quintet from Los Angeles more than impressed us. We walked away as converts and can't wait to see them again. Too bad their set was only 30 minutes.

We walked back down to the other end of the meadow for Devendra Banhart, where we smoked tough. He's most known these days for the guy who gets to bang Natalie Portman. In fact, SomeDude from Hidden Track saw Nat Portman walking around. Devendra made a comment that he wanted to see Tom Petty especially his guitar solo on Breakdown.

We headed out to the main stage for Galactic and their ensemble called The Crescent City Soul Crewe which featured members of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and Cyril Neville. Man, I missed seeing Galactic without the rappers and the hip hop acts. That was an interesting side project and it was refreshing to see them take chances and move their music in a different direction. I'm a huge fan of hip hop, but I really missed the good old fashioned NOLA slam funk. We got that and then some. The extra horns was delicious and Cyril Neville sat in on vocals.

"I think I like him better than the Houseman," said the Joker.

Galactic opened up with Fema and they played a couple of other deep cuts from their early albums like Baker's Dozen. We were fairly close to the stage for Galactic. Nicky thought they were the highlight of Saturday. I agree.

After the G-men, we returned to the Sutro stage for mellow M. Ward and to meet up with some fellow music bloggers. We hung out with SomeDude for the first time along with Justin from Live Music Blog. Good folks and we got to chat about music and the festival and our experiences up until that point.

We returned to the main stage for Steve Winwood. We caught his set at Mile High Music Festival, but we left early because it was too damn hot. The highlights this time around were his classic Traffic tunes such as Low Spark > Empty Pages. Winwood funked out Light Up or Leave Me Alone in a ten minute jam which was the highlight of his set. He segued into another classic... Dear Mr. Fantasy.

We left the last bit of Winwood to catch Donavon Frankenreiter, who SomeDude described as a "funky Jack Johnson." I sort of liked him more than Jack and they reminded me a bit like ALO. Chris described them as "adult contemporary rock" or "fratacular."

We checked out the CrowdFire circus tent and sat down in the lounge area on those huge comfy couches to rest up for a bit. All the walking around kills my knees and back. I need a few minutes to recharge the batteries.

We left the tent and caught Cake. They opened with Frank Sinatra and did a great job on a cover version of War Pigs. Nicky noticed that they played a few of their older songs. We chilled out on the side of the hill and just soaked in the scene. We left early to catch the last thirty minutes of Primus featuring Les Claypool. They had two massive astronauts sculptures or something on stage.

We wore costumes again and fulfilled no less than four picture requests. People loved our track suits and we got hundred of random comments.

We skipped Tom Petty since we saw him at Mile High and expected him to play a similar set. We wanted to get some food before a late night show. We started to walk out of the festival and could hear three or four songs. Found out (via Justin's twitter) that there were some more technical difficulties with the sound and they had to take a five minute break to fix it. Looks like we didn't miss anything epic aside from Steve Winwood sitting in on a few tunes.

When the schedules originally were released, we sort of decided that Saturday was the weakest of the three-day festival. It was a throw-away-day and we had low expectations, especially after the Friday night fracas. Saturday's overall experience surpassed anything we could have hoped for. Yeah, we had a great time.

We grabbed beers and dinner at the Kezar Pub before we made the trek to the Independent to see Garage a Trois. I gotta say, I preferred the initial incarnation of GAT which included Stanton Moore, Charlie Hunter, and Skerik. I saw one of their very first live shows at the Saeger Theatre in New Orleans when they opened up for Oysterhead in 2000. They blew me away.

The current version of GAT features Stanton Moore and Skerik but with Mike Dillon on percussions and Marco Benevento from the Duo on keys. They were weird and freaky and funky and a fitting way to end the night.

Two down, one more to go.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Chaos at Radiohead in Golden Gate Park

By Pauly
San Francisco, CA

Well... where to begin? The thick fog. The surging crowd. The lack of cell access. Radiohead. The sound dropping out?

Our buddy Chris was one of the first people in line. He was in the festival by 3pm and put down a tarp in front of the soundboard for the main stage. We figured that would be our home base.

We caught Steel Pulse to kick off the festivities. About twenty minutes into the set, we got word from other friends that it was a clusterfuck getting to Beck. Manu Chao was up next at the main stage. Ska-punk-reggae. They might have been from Mexico because I saw a bunch of guys waving a Mexican flag in front of me. They lead singer spoke a bit of Spanish, and I later found out that he's from Europe and not Mexico.

Anyway, a few minutes into Manu Chao, we had to make a serious decision. Fight the crowds to check out the end of Beck or defend our territory for Radiohead. Our tarp was being over run and every few minutes it seemed like another thousand people jammed into the area in front of the soundboard.

A few minutes before Radiohead began, a friend of a friend (and I wish I remembered his name) offered me some liquid. He dropped a puddle in my hand. I asked for two. Yeah, that was a bad idea. So our entire crew was dosed and space was as tight as hell.

I did my best to jot down the setlist, but I only wrote down the first three songs. After that it was pure mayhem. When the sound went out the first time during Air Bag, that's when we felt the waves of people pushing and shoving and it felt like being on Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras when you have zero control about where you are going and the massive crowd pushes you back and forth.

I heard there was 60,000 people at Radiohead. The way the main stage was set up, it allowed people to filter intoa triangular area... but no way for anyone to filter out. So thousands of people surged forward and kept pushing forward. The scene in front of the soundboard was chaos. For a few moments, I felt that I was going to get trampled. I grabbed on tight to my girlfriend as the Joker and I stood shoulder to shoulder repelling wave after wave of bodies being hurled at us. At one point a kid tried to crowd surf and I got punched in the face.

I've been to easily over a thousand of concerts and dozens and dozens of music festivals all over the world. I had never experienced a more hectic scene. Same goes for the Joker. At one point, I felt a tinge of panic. That's never good on a head full of acid... maybe, I might die tonight.

"It seemed like the band was clearly flustered. They were off their rhythm. And the crowd had no wear to go," said the Joker.

"If you weren't holding everyone back, I would have gotten trampled," said Nicky. "I had no where to move or dance."

It was one of those moments where you had to surrender to the flow. At times, it felt like I was in a hockey brawl. Other times, it felt like a massive group orgy. During the quieter songs, there were moments of clam and serenity. And during the faster songs, it was anarchy.

Imagine a packed subway car in Tokyo. And then people trying to dance like they are standing in an open field. Somehow, one chick in front of us managed to get some space to groove, while one teenaged girl behind me was sandwiched up against my back. She was trapped. Nowhere to go. The music blared. The crowd kept pushing back and forth and we all swayed. Her entire body was trapped except three fingers. And she used those three fingers to dance by tapping on my back and making circles and letting her three fingers go nuts.

The mayhem eased up a bit for the encore and we had some breathing room (and by that I mean no one with a elbow in your back). The Joker freaked out by hearing all the different languages spoken by fans. Radiohead has international appeal and their fans come from all over to see them play. For work, I travel a lot overseas, so I'm used to working in an international press room. Hearing Spanish, French, German, and Swedish is not uncommon for me. But for the Joker, all of the different languages fried his brain.

"They only speak English in Colorado," deadpanned the Joker.

The set ended and we slowly made our way off of the polo fields. At that point, the doses really kicked in. I could barely see with the heavy fog that descended upon the field and all I recall where the pretty lights reflecting onto the fog cover. Somehow, pure instinct took over and I guided our crew out of the festival grounds despite a short detour through some trees. I heard that people were jumping fences to get out.

The festival organizers fucked up a few things. The sound going out was atrocious and an embarrassment. You could sense how pissed off Thom Yorke was. And the set up was poor. They lacked adequate space to allow people to walk to and from different stages, which caused bottlenecks.

We walked through the park and back to our hotel next to the Kezar Pub. I was drenched in sweat. I dunno how we made it out of the Radiohead clusterfuck mosh pit alive, let alone navigated out of the park and back to our hotel. It wasn't until I jumped in the shower and got bombarded by the insane visuals (multi-colored droplets of water not to mention the breathing wall paper). That's when I realized that I was way wasted. Too wasted. I'm shocked that I was able to keep it together and not freak out during the chaos.

"I"m bugging out!" as Johnny Drama would say.

We skipped the after show at 12 Galaxies. None of us could drive and grabbing a muni seemed to complicated. We holed up in our sweet and blasted Phish and literally starred at the walls until the visuals wore off.

Yeah, two was a bad idea. It wasn't until almost twelve hours after the show where the Joker and I sat down and tried to sketch together the insanity from last night.

One night down, two more to go. Let's hope I don't get my face stepped on.

Friday, August 22, 2008

hollyweird > san francisco

By Pauly
San Francisco, CA

Woke up early and wrote before we loaded up the car and ate a quick breakfast at Nick's before we hit the road. We officially got on the road at 9:05pm. Escaping LA seemed rather easy despite the time of departure. We whizzed out of town, over the hills, through the Valley, and into the flatlands.

The moon was out at 10am and it was sort of freaky. We switched drivers and I took the wheel from 10:05 to almost 1pm. I made great time and there were moments when the traffic was flowing at 85+ mph. There were moments when I was driving 95 and I wasn't the fastest car on the road.

Nicky droved the last hour or so and navigated us into San Francisco. We had not been back since New Year's Day on 2007. The Joker arrived much earlier than us and had already been drinking at the Kezar Pub with Professional Keno Player Neil Fontenot. We parked around the corner and drank and watched the Olympics. I knocked back pints of Pilsner Urquell until it was time to check into out hotel next door.

I booked a two bedroom suite almost six months ago the day that they announced the dates for the Outside Lands Festival. The festival is in Golden Gate Park and I searched for something near the park so we could walk back and forth without having to drive or worry about cabs or local buses. I found an outrageous deal on a two-bedroom suite, but I stayed in enough hotels to know that you have to wait and see for yourself to really determine if we got a sweet deal or got fucked over.

Well, after a quick inspection of the room... we lucked out. It's the top story of an old Victorian house. It looks like it used to be an apartment converted into a hotel suite. There's a massive dining room and kitchen. We could fit a table in the kitchen and two poker tables in the dining room. There's a long hallway that's bigger than some NYC studio apartments. We have a good sized living room and of course two bedrooms. Only drawback? One bathroom.

The Joker said it looked like some grandma's apartment. He was kinda right with the antique furniture (cheesy not rustic) and old paintings on the walls.

We spent a lot of time in our hotel last night because it was so comfortable. It really feels like we rented an apartment for a four nights and doesn't feel like a traditional hotel. That is something that I prefer since I live in so many hotels these days.

Anyway, we ate North Beach Pizza for dinner and went back to Kezar Pub to watch the Niners/Bears game.

Today should be fun. Olympics at the pub. Renting bicycles. Then the festival kicks off at 5pm. The highlights tonight will be Beck and Radiohead. Wow... it finally sunk it as I typed that.

Can't fuckin' wait...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

More Pauly Paintings

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

I bought a couple of canvases last week and went to work. I painted over two nights and cranked out four paintings.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The End of the Summer...

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

The last couple of days whizzed. My memory is foggy, murky, blurry. I know that my time in LA and is fading fast as the summer's end is near. On Thursday, I'll be back in traveling mode and living out of my backpack again as I head up and down the California coast instead of shacking up in Nicky's apartment in the slums of Beverly Hills.

I was up late late late on Saturday and didn't really crash until Sunday morning. I blame my faded state and All the Presidents Men. I watched the majority of the epic flick and I kept thinking was how important newspapers and the written word used to be were when I was a kid growing up in the post-Watergate years and how now newspapers are the last dinosaurs roaming the earth until they become extinct and only exist as online websites. I doubt that the traditional print newspaper won't be completely wiped out in New York City. People still want something to read on the subway aside from the free copy of Metro.

After a couple of hours of dead sleep with lots of oxy dreams haunting my slumbered body, I finally woke up and sometime on Sunday morning, Nicky and I wandered over to Nick's coffeeshop. It was super crowded, which it always is on a weekend, so we luckily were seated at the counter. I don't mind sitting there because you can watch TV or watch the fry cooks in action. I couldn't believe my eyes when I spotted Olympic men's field hockey on TV.

I thought that field hockey was a game for prep school dykes? In high school I went out with one girl who played on a field hockey team for a random Upper East side all girls school. She may have gone both ways at the time, or at least in all of my wildest fantasies, she was fingering her fellow teammates in the showers after practice. She had a very distinct name and I found her within seconds via google. Makes me wonder how many old classmates or random people in my life google me and end up here?

I have been working out every day since Derek left. I attempted light jogging a couple of times since the accident, but I still a little sore so I stuck to brisk walking on the verge of speed walking. Sometimes Nicky joins me and that's nice because we're working out together, but she walks too slow for me and I don't feel as though I'm getting a proper work out so I prefer heading out to roam the streets of Beverly Hills by myself.

On Sunday night, we ate dinner with Nicky's parents at an Italian joint in Westwood. They returned from their vacation and recanted several stories about visiting Yankee Stadium (for the last time) and touring Asheville, NC as a possible retirement locale. They fell in love with Cracker Barrel but never had a chance to eat at Waffle House.

When we left the restaurant, there was an awkward scene with a guy at an adjacent table. I noticed that he kept staring at us during his meal. He called me over to his table.

"Are you Rushdie?"

He thought that I was Salman Rushdie's son. For a second, a wave of paranoia bombarded my frontal lobe. Was he a fanatic trying to kill me? When the novel Satanic Verses was originally published, Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwah against Rushdie and his publishers. Although Rushdie went underground, he was never harmed. Three translators were not so lucky.

I quickly left the restaurant but made sure I wasn't being followed.

On Monday morning, we woke up early because it was beach day. One of the few things that will get Nicky to jump out of bed is a trip to the beach. After breakfast (bacon, eggs, and biscuits at O'Groats), we drove up to Malibu and spent several hours on Zuma beach.

I finished reading one book and started The Road by Cormac McCarthy. The first 95 pages went by fast and McCarthy is a powerful writer and compelling storyteller. I got so lost in the story that I forgot that I was at the beach. I looked up from the pages and had one of those moments where I was in a completely different world and lost for a few seconds in a brief period of disorientation. When I heard the rumble of the waves, I instantly snapped out of it.

"Oh, shit," I mumbled. "I'm at the beach."

Over the last week, I dilligently worked on the upcoming issues of Truckin'. I wrote a new story and edited a bunch of others for the September and October issues. I'll be in London/Amsterdam at the end of next month and won't have too much free time to work on my side projects... so I took advantage of the abundance of free time that I had now.

The best thing that happened to me over the last couple of days was getting a chance to write... fiction.... for the first time in... shit, I can't recall when. Creating something from nothing was a refreshing feeling. Working out definitely affects my brain. I'm always more clear headed after working out and I seem to write better... mainly because I have time to actually think through concepts, thoughts, and ideas.

On Tuesday night, we caught the latest Woody Allen flick called Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Woody loves Scarlett Johansson and casted her in three of his last four flicks. Allen's previous three flicks were shot in London, while his latest gem was shot on location in Spain. Made me really miss Barcelona.

I was disappointed with the sex scenes, I mean, I didn't see any of Scarlett's milky white boobies. Not even a nipple shot. What the fuck? I thought Woody Allen was a pervert? There was one erotic scene where Penelope Cruz and Scarlett make out. I popped a wood there. Cruz was the definite highlight of the film.

Anyway, here's the trailer...

What I admire about Woody Allen is his work ethic. He's cranked out one film a year (on average) since the early 1970s. That's insane. Anyway, after four films in Europe, Allen recently returned to NYC to shoot.

Speaking of the Olympics and Spain... I just watched Spain beat up on Croatia in the quarterfinals of men's basketball. US plays the Aussies in a few hours. If insomnia strikes, I'll try to watch that live.

Aside from hoops, I'm done with watching the Olympics. NBC blows. The recent news that ESPN is trying to get future Olympic broadcasting bids got me excited... except that won't be until 2014 or 216 at the earliest.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Horse Sex Fever

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

I haven't checked the stats on my Flickr account in a couple of months. Brandon pissing behind a bush in Australia used to be my most popular photo. He's been eclipsed by... horse sex fever.

You can view it... here. (NSFW)

You sick fucks. By the way, I can track how many of you actually click through. Some of you are curious, while others might even masturbate to the image. Sick. All of you are deranged motherfuckers.

So, did you like it? If you were afraid to look, I took a photo of a DVD in the the front store window of an XXX video store in the red light district in Amsterdam. There's a beastiality video called Horse Sex Fever. You don't actually see and equine penis penetrating a young blonde's body. But you see her boobies, her snatch, and a horse.

To be honest, I think it's rather ordinary and one of my least favorite shots from the hundreds of pics I took in Amsterdam over the last couple of years.

In fact, I encourage you to check out my Amsterdam collection which is made up of four different galleries from various trips with Change100 or raging solo or when I lived there last summer with Benjo and Johnny Mushrooms.

Oh in case you were wondering...
Pauly's Top 5 Most Popular Photos in Flickr
1. Horse Sex Fever
2. Sour Diesel Kush
3. Pants of the Day
4. Dank
5. Chocolate Chip Pancakes
Brandon slipped to 7th place. And yes, photos of marijuana dominated the Top 10 with three photos. A yellow dildo was in 8th place, while one of my favorites... Uncle Ted and Hot Chick... sits at in the number nine spot.

More links... my Flickr page and all of my different galleries (or sets).

Monday, August 18, 2008

Maisy Wednesday

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

Ryan Mansfield had a Wednesday routine. He woke up at 7:39am, or exactly one snooze allotment after he had originally set his alarm. He showered, popped a Xanax as prescribed by his recently acquired psychiatrist Dr. Levine, and dressed in a pressed suit that the cleaners around the corner had delivered the night before. Wednesday was fresh suit day. It was also a special day for other reasons.

Ryan Mansfield sat on his couch and watched the first ten minutes of Sportscenter before he left his apartment in Murray Hill. He lived seventeen blocks away from his office in Midtown and always walked. He used the time to check his work messages via his cell phone. Ryan Mansfield never answered his work phone past 4pm so every morning he compiled a list of angry clients who would be looking for him later that day.

Ryan Mansfield hated coffee and he loathed the business practices of the evil Starbucks corporation, but he religiously went to the store on the corner of 43rd Street and Third Avenue because of one particular girl who worked there.


She looked like a cross between a J. Crew model and a Suicide Girl. She always wore bright lipstick which brought out a little gleam in her lips. She frequently smiled, but never initiated any sort of conversation.

Ryan Mansfield was infatuated with Maisy. So much so, that he masturbated no fewer than a dozen times a week with her as the major character. He'd get lost in a jack off frenzy in a kaleidoscope of images of giving Maisy the ass pounding of her life while standing in the stairway of his elementary school on Long Island.

In a five day work week, Maisy usually served him three times. So during 60% of his visits to Starbucks, Ryan Mansfield had roughly ten seconds to say something witty, or funny, or something that would make him stand out from the thousands of other suits that Maisy served on a daily basis.

Most of the time, Ryan Mansfield said nothing. He was far too shy. He tried to make small talk once but that was a disaster.

"How's it going?" he said

"Tough day. I'm so hungover," she said.

"Yeah, you totally look like shit."

He couldn't believe that those words rolled off his tough and shoved a stake through the his heart as any future with Maisy slipped between his fingers. Not even a $5 tip could make up for his horrendous mistake.

That's why he avoided speaking at all to Maisy. He just smiled back when she smiled at him and that was it.

For over a year, Ryan Mansfield had thirty seconds a week where he was face-to-face with his crush. It only cost him $25 in coffee and tips. Stalkers literally killed for the opportunity to be in a consistent contact with their crushes. Hollywood cranks out bad romantic comedies based on the same concept. It's a part of the life cycle. There's something you want badly, but are afraid to chase it for fear of being rejected. It's sort of premature rejection, except you do the rejecting instead of the object of desire.

If Ryan Mansfield was served by Maisy, he immediately rushed to his office and headed to the bathroom to furiously rub one out. On the days she didn't serve him, he went to the news stand bought a lottery ticket instead.

When Ryan Mansfield was married, his relationship with his wife deteriorated when he developed an addiction to massage parlors. He couldn't control himself and visited them four or five days a week. He'd eat lunch at his desk and then use the rest of the time to visit one of the seven massage parlors within walking distance of the office. On the nights that his wife was busy, he'd find a hooker from the back section of the Village Voice.

Ryan Mansfield was spending at least $500 a week on hookers. Some weeks he blew a grand. His wife got suspicious. He lied and said that he was lost a few grand playing online poker and was chasing a loss. She was skeptical at first and rightly so, because Ryan Mansfield was a horrible liar. His addiction was his downfall. His wife eventually busted him and they got divorced.

Ryan Mansfield visited Dr. Levine twice a week as he sought out a solution to curtail his abundant sexual appetite. Dr. Levine encouraged Ryan Mansfield to masturbate more and to stop paying for hookers all together. They were financially draining and he was putting himself at risk for contracting various venereal diseases. Ryan Mansfield couldn't quit cold turkey. He was a stone cold junkie and sex addict. He limited himself to one day a week. Wednesday was hooker day.

After his morning meetings, Ryan Mansfield spent the next two hours scouring the intertubes for a quickie in the casual encounters section of Craigslist. Since he was a veteran, he could easily pick out the escort ads from legit postings. It took him a while to sort through all the spam until he found a couple of potential candidates. He'd get monster erections as he wrote sexually explicit emails and ogled naked photos from some of the women. He was so worked up that he'd have to rush out of the office and find the closest rub and tug operation. When he returned from his massage, he'd spend the rest of the afternoon arranging drinks or a meeting time with the women he plucked off of Craigslist.

Occasionally, Ryan Mansfield got laid from a hot chick, but most of the time he attracted soused cougars, horny fat chicks, or total sex freaks that made him seem like a Mormon wandering around the West Village in special underwear. In a couple of instances, Ryan Mansfield picked up a hooker. He thought it was a cheap trick, but most of the time he was so horny that it didn't matter.

That Wednesday night, Ryan Mansfield arranged a meeting with a girl who he knew was fronting for an escort service. He didn't care. Wednesday was hooker day and the one night a week to indulge in his sexual fantasies.

A lanky Eastern European woman showed up at his apartment. She reeked of cigarettes and he could not stop staring at her glassy eyes. She was buzzed, but not completely wasted.

"$250 for a half hour," she said in a lazy accent. "I can do an hour for $400."

"How much to let me fuck you in the ass?" asked Ryan Mansfield.

"$400 for a half hour," she said.

He peeled off a wad of $20 and $50 bills. She slowly counted the money three times before she stashed it in her purse.

"So anything else you want?" she said as she slid her hands up his shirt.

"Yeah, your name is Maisy," he said.

"Sure, Daisy. I'll be whoever you want."

"It's Maisy! Not Daisy you stupid fuckin' slut!" Ryan Mansfield screamed as he seized her by the neck.

Ryan Mansfield squeezed harder as she struggled for air. She frantically fought back and kicked him a couple of times until he finally relaxed his grip and smiled.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Free Books

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

In the spirit of Otis, I'm giving away a couple of books that I read in the last 6-9 months. Some of these were beach books or accompanied me on my travels in Europe, Australia, or New Zealand. I actually acquired one of the books on a recent trip to Colorado.

Instead of letting these books collect dust in Change100's apartment, I figured I'd give them away to friends and/or readers who are interested in reading the books and then passing them onto their friends. For example, Spaceman gave me the Richard Ford book two years ago, and I'd like to pass that book of short stories onto a worthy person.

If you want a book, shoot me an email indicating which book you want and a mailing address. First come, first serve.

Here are the books...
1. The Subterraneans by Jack Kerouac
2. Rock Springs by Richard Ford
3. Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer
4. Hotel California by Barney Hoskyns
5. No Logo by Naomi Klein
6. Miles by Miles Davis with Quincy Troupe
Two of the books are related to music... the Miles Davis biography and Hotel California which focuses on the music scene in LA during the 1960-70s and includes stories about CSN, Neil Young, the Eagles, Jackson Browne, and Linda Ronstadt.

As I said earlier, the Richard Ford book is a collection of short stories.

No Logo is a detailed account about marketing, branding, and big business in the 1990s.

Under the Banner of Heaven is one of the best books I ever reach about the history of the Mormon religion.

The Kerouac book is self-explanatory.


Editor's Note...

In less than three hours, five of the books are gone! They were gobbled up by Sloshr, Scott, Daddy, Chenzilla, and Cherie. Only one book remains... Hotel California. I forgot to add that Lee Jones knew I was a big music fan, so he recommended Hotel California for to me to read.

So that's the only book still available.

One More Editor's Note...

As of 8pm ET, the book sale is closed. Elliot got the last book. Thanks to everyone who wrote me. Sorry that you missed out. I'll be doing this shortly.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Broken Vase

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

I woke up to a thud and a crashing sound. Broken glass? I jumped out of bed with one thought on my mind... someone just broke into the apartment. I grabbed a golf putter. That would be my only weapon until I made my way to the kitchen and grabbed a knife. I rushed into the living room expecting to see a would-be-robber shimming his way through a broken window. Instead, the living room was empty.

The culprit? A large vase had fallen over. Did it happen at the tail end of an earthquake or was it something else? Nicky woke up and said that she didn't feel an earthquake.

My deduction? Five sunflowers (over a week old) were in a large vase. They were dying and in the middle of the wilting process. The heads of sunflowers are massive and their collective weight tipped the vase. It crashed off the entertainment center and onto the hardwood floor. The vase shattered into several large pieces and thousands of tiny little pieces. Talk about one bitch of a project to clean up.

As per the usual, Nicky went back to sleep and I was left with the task of cleaning up the broken vase. That's when it occurred to me that perhaps it was a ghost. This is an old neighborhood so you never know.

Phase 1 of the broken vase is finished. I removed all of the visible pieces of glass at ground zero. Phase 2 will be Nicky's job when she wakes up... a more thorough cleaning of the entire room since I already discovered a couple random pieces of glass out of the range of the original impact area. Lucky for her, the glass was red so you'll be able to see the pieces.

I'm still deciding about the impact of Twitter on my life. I have been curtailing my online reading over the last few days and I only catch up a couple of times a day instead of refreshing everyone ten minutes, which I used to do with Bloglines.

One of the things I like about Twitter is the ability to go back and make a rough timeline sketch of what I did on a particular day.

Here's an example of yesterday's tweets (all times ET):
11:38 AM Early morning writing music included Thelonius Monk, Girl Talk, and Galactic

12:01 PM My appearance on LouKrieger's Keep Flopping Aces radioshow is ready for download -

1:03 PM worked out two mornings in a row. attempted heavy jogging for first time since car accident. im a little sore & still out of shape.

2:07 PM Georgia news reporter covering Russia incursion was shot while doing a stand up. heres the video:

3:20 PM jack cheeseburger at nick's with well down hashbrowns followed by a trip to the smoke shop for blunt wrappers. time to write a short story

4:01 PM Who eats more in a day? @SnailTrax or Michael Phelps?

6:20 PM I watched Thao's Bag of Hammers video 5 times in the last 20 minutes. Now I know all the lyrics

7:45 PM Finally got to write some fiction. Short story. Needs some more work. Listening to Girltalk while I write.

11:56 PM @wilw that's the vicodin talking

2:03 AM Sweet Svetlana sat down at one of my tables on Full Tilt.
And in case you were wondering, here's the Thao & the Get Down video that I watched like a dozen times last night...

Yeah yesterday was sort of a lazy, yet productive day. I have been eating better (and a lot less than I had been) and I actually worked out three days in a row. As soon as I'm done writing this, I'll head out and walk two miles and try to jog one.

Yesterday was a special day, because for the first time in a while, I set aside time to write fiction. No more excuses. Just write. And I did. Nothing too extraordinary. I'm very rusty, but it felt good to explore the creative side of my brain again. Reminded me about how much I missed fiction and that my real goal is to write short stories and novels. The current path is just that... the path that I have to take on my journey towards a life that I'm trying to finally get to.

I have been playing online poker every day this month. Sometimes, I'm only play for about a half-hour at most and I have never played more than a couple of hours in one sitting.

I also finally caught up with the latest episodes of Weeds and Generation Kill. I stumbled upon a ton of YouTube videos for GK, if you are interested in that HBO series.

I also spent a lot of time studying London's underground maps. I'll have to take the tube to work every morning during a work assignment in London at the end of September and the beginning of October.

That's the work side of my trip. London will be all work, but Amsterdam is all play. I have two Amsterdam legs set up... before and after my London assignment. I'll rage solo for three days, head to London for a week or so of work, then Nicky and I will head over to Amsterdam for five days and nights of mayhem.

I found a great deal and rented a couple of apartments. The same apartment in fact for both legs. Much cheaper than staying in some of their hotels and a much healthier alternative than staying in a fleabag hotel in the red light district.

Man, I can't wait to get to Amsterdam. But I have other trips first to worry about. Next week, it's San Francisco and the week after that it's San Diego and then onward to NYC.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Radio Free Pauly

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

Last night, I made an appearance on Lou Krieger's radio show Keep Flopping Aces. It was a lot of fun.

The podcast is currently available which you can download here.

We spoke for an hour about a wide range of topics. Usually there's a ton of prep work that has to go into a one hour show, but Lou and I just bullshited for the duration of the show. That format was a ton of fun. Making stuff up as we go along.

So, check it out... Pauly on Keep Flopping Aces.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Registry Blues

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

I'm not the marrying type. Much to the chagrin to my girlfriend, marriage is not something I'm interested in. However, after I browsed through the various wedding registries for a friend of mine, I sort of got... jealous. Yeah, jealous that married people get tons of cool stuff like knives and Wii accessories for their friends and families to buy for them.

For me, I feel somewhat cheated mostly because my friends get married then get divorced. I spent thousands of dollars over the years on wedding gifts and even more money traveling to weddings, when I'm not going to get anything in return. I'm only there to share in the joy of their union. A completely selfless act on my part. Sure I've gotten plenty of exquisite thank you notes on expensive colored paper, but a couple of instances, I never even got a thank you note or an acknowledgment of a gift, which I always thought was in poor taste.

In some ways, wedding gifts are sort of a cruel joke for people already married and ducking the slings and arrows for ordinary married life. They know how difficult marriage can be and their attitude might be, "Good luck, you're gonna need it. Here's a dozen wine glasses. Maybe at some point, you'll throw them at each other."

Maybe I'm too naive and my parents were the only married people on the planet that threw kitchenware at each other.

I also feel weird about buying stuff at online registries because the one item I pick will favor one of the married couple over the other. One person might be pumped for a toaster but their bride-to-be might have wanted a bunch of soup bowls instead and it complicate matters. All of a sudden, I'm that guy who bought them something they never use. Hey, in my defense, if it's in the Williams-Sonoma registry, then that means it's something that you want.

I dunno what the exact numbers are, maybe 50-60% of all marriages last in America. Those numbers are not very advantageous for a gambling soul like me. I want better odds. The people involved in the nuptials I attended over the last 15 years have a much higher success rate than the national average, but a couple of friends who got married in their early 20s (a decade ago) have already gotten divorced while a handful of friends are on their second marriage.

So I bought "Kevin" a blender ten years ago. He got divorced and his ex-wife now has the blender. He's going to get married next Spring. So if I show up empty handed, his new bride to be thinks I'm a cheap bastard. I'm in a no-win situation.

How about all that money I spent gifts and on hotels, rental cars, plane fares to get to the obscure spot for a wedding, only to find out many moons later that it didn't work out? Times that by seven or eight other failed marriages. I must have blown thousands of dollars in my 20s and 30s on those folks. Shouldn't I be entitled to a refund?

Maybe I'll have a new rule.... if you get married and it doesn't last at least ten years, I'm entitled to a cash refund of at least $50 per year. For example, if one of my friends is only married for three years before they file for a divorce, then I get back $350. If they last seven years, I get $150. If it goes over a decade, then they are free to do what they want.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Derek in LA

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

I wanted to rent a canal apartment in Amsterdam this August like I did last summer with Benjo and Johnny Mushrooms. However, several factors were in play this summer that affected my decision to decline that option. I had an amazing time last summer and wanted to return, but I didn't because of the Summer Olympics, two music festivals (one in Colorado and the other in San Francisco), and a crappy US dollar (although it's bounced back in the last couple of weeks... at the time of this decision, the US Dollar was near an all time low against the Euro).

So instead of a Dutch August, I opted for sunny Southern California instead. I convinced my brother to come out here instead of a trip to Europe with me next month. It would be cheaper for him to fly out to Los Angeles and stay with me and Nicky than it would for a four or five day excursion in Europe.

Derek spent four nights and five days here and got to glimpse at my domesticated life in the slums of Beverly Hills. He got to experience the Pauly food tour and eat at some of my favorite dives and dinners and other random food stuffs. His highlight? O'Groats and one of their signature dishes Huevos O'Groats. Of course, the worst part was waiting almost 20 minutes for a table. Lucky for us, we went on a Monday. Nicky and I would never dream about showing up there on a weekend where the waitlist is sometimes over an hour long.

On Saturday, Nicky was invited to a birthday party in Hancock Park with famous Hollyweird actors, producers, and writers. I opted out and spent the time with my brother. We got baked and went to The Grove to eat at the Farmer's Market then see the action movie for potheads...Pineapple Express.

Before the flick, we grabbed a couple of slices at Patsy's. It's not the best pizza in LA, but it's like methadone. We walked around the different stalls in the Farmer's Market and I showed Derek the different variations of food stuffs. We were near the Gumbo Pot when we saw a woman have a seizure. Scary and sobering scene.

The flick was a welcomed surprise, especially James Franco as the weed dealer. Nicky had mentioned that when the film was originally cast, Frnaco was gonna play the straight guy and Seth Rogen was going to play the eccentric wed dealer. But the two swapped roles and it ended up being a home run of a decision.

We also watched a ton of Olympic coverage on the various networks. It was a little confusing at first because Nicky's cable station had a couple of east coast feeds so at times we watched the same stuff twice before we figured out what was up. I watched some soccer, fencing, and volleyball on the first day of coverage. We really wanted to check out USA vs. China in hoops action. I woke up early on Sunday only to discover that it was on a tape delay. I followed the game via and knew that the Americans pulled away in the second half against Yao Ming and his squad.

Last night, I watched some swimming, synchronized diving, and gymnastics. I'll write more about the Chinese athletes for a future post.

I bought tickets to two different local baseball games. The Angels game on Sunday was bittersweet. It's so far to drive down to Anaheim and it was sizzling hot out. Derek got a decent sun burn during his first visit to his first California baseball stadium. The game was going good for the Yanks until they lost the game in the bottom of the ninth to get swept. The crowd was about 1/10th Yankees fans, but they were just as loud as all of the Angels fans. I had a 10-year old kid next to me that was shouting some funny stuff. When Derek Jeter stepped up to the plate for his first appearance, the die hard Yankees fans broke out in a chant of, "Let's go Jeter!" The kid next to me had a hilarious retort, "Jeter's a wiener!"

Our seats were better than average and in the fifth row next to the foul pole. We could see Garrett Anderson make a couple of plays. He seems so effortless with his throws. We even caught Xavier Nady be a part of a play at the plate. Just a healthy reminder that it's crucial to hit the cut-off man in baseball.

The Dodgers game was a different story. I thought it was going to be a lazy Monday night game against the Phillies. The Yankees/Angels tickets took some work and money to obtain. The Dodgers tickets were a breeze to obtain and I pretty much paid face value unlike double the price of the Yanks tickets.

Derek digged the vibe and layout of Dodgers Stadium. We had field level seats on the third base side sort of like the same spot we had them for the Angels game. I bought the tickets before Manny was traded to the Dodgers. Once he got traded, I remembered that the seats were in left field which meant we got to have a great view for the Manny Ramirez show.

Everything seemed to go smoothly for the first few innings. A group of four guys wearing Phillies jerseys sat down in front of us. They were OK guys and we chatted a bit. I noticed that when they'd walk up to the concession stands to get a beer, that they'd get vehemently booed by the crowd. Like most of things in LA, everything is superficial and flashy and lacked substance. I underestimated the crowd's deviancy. I figured their bark was worse than their bite.

It was the bottom of the sixth inning. The Dodgers had a big lead and I suggested that we leave a bit early (at the seventh inning stretch) so we can go out and do some other stuff. We probably should have left when I made that decision instead of sticking around for the seventh inning stretch because that's when things got ugly.

A bunch of knucklehead started throwing peanuts at the Phillies fans in front of us. Then beer. We were collateral damage and got hit several times. Nicky got pegged by a beer. Derek stood up and told the Dodgers fans to stop. They continued, specifically two guys in Dodger hats. He stood up and dropped an F-bomb. That's when I got hit by a lime. The next thing I knew it, the two guys in Dodger hats where screaming and they charged us from three rows up. I told Nicky to duck, as one guy ran down the aisle while another jumped the rows and hit Derek in the face. We were both stunned. Usually those situations, people at sports events scream and yell and talk shit... but it ends right there. We were all stunned that the guy threw a punch. It happened so fast. But the guy puled a hit and run. I think he was shocked he hit Derek, so he tried to run away and hide in the crowd.

By that point, security had intervened. When they saw the blood trickling down Derek's face they quickly grabbed both guys and hauled them away. They also called a medic for Derek. They escorted us out of the area as an angry crowd booed Derek and threw stuff at us. That was the lowest point of the game, something you'd see in Philly. Those Eagles fans are tough and booed Santa Claus and Michael Irvin when he got semi-paralyzed. We were shocked that happened in LA.

When we got up to the top of the section in front of the food court, there was a swarm of suits with head sets and things were super confusing. The cops hanfcuffed the guy who hit Derek but his buddy was talking shit and screaming at me. One tough-guy cop warned me that if I didn't stop stirring the pot that I was going to get cuffed as well. What the fuck? So a bunch of drunks attacked my brother and we're the bad guys?

Derek had to make a citizens arrest since the cops didn't see it and they hauled the guy downstairs. We had to go to down to the first aid room deep in the bowels of the Stadium. Derek got one stitch while we waited for the cops to arrive. That was a huge side drama. There are no video cameras at the game so nothing was taped. The guy who hit Derek lied to the cops and said that he hit Derek in self-defense. If he was going to jail, then he wanted to press charges against Derek. Total bullshit. The cop said that he'd have to arrest Derek due to protocol and let the court figure it out since there were no other third-party witnesses. The Phillies fans quickly bailed once the fracas went down so there was no one else there to back up the story.

The only other option was that Derek would have to drop charges and they'd both go free. Hmmmm. Both go to jail? Or both walk? Fucked up situation but we knew that we had zero options.

Derek agreed not to press charges. The cops took our statements and suggested that the next time this happens... drunks throwing things at us at Dodger Stadium... to tell a security guard instead of taking matters into our own hands. Both cops actually told us that they would never take their kids to Dodgers games and that's the reason why they go to Angels games. They were surprised when I told them that things were more civilized in New York, especially during Red Sox games.

The only funny thing about the incident? The guy hit Derek with his hardest punch and Derek didn't even flinch. Derek only got cut because the guy wore a ring. The cop told us that the punk changed his story a couple of times about the strength of the punch. He was embarrassed that he hit Derek with all his force and nothing happened.

In the end, it was a bad beat, but we got lucky. Derek walked away with a stitch and that was it. He didn't have to go to hospital or to jail. Although I wished the cops investigating the incident handled the matter differently, they were up front and could have made things a living hell for us. Also, Nicky wasn't harmed at all, and thank God for that. We didn't have to deal with slimy lawyers and backlogged court system. I also got lucky and didn't do anything stupid like pounce on the guy. I showed restraint mainly because Nicky was there. Perhaps if she wasn't things could have gotten ugly. Because then, we all would have gone to jail. And man, if the Rooster was with us? A full on brawl would have erupted.

Anyway, we missed the end of the game and Derek vacation ended on a not-so fun note. I'm sure we could look back on this in a couple of years and joke around about that night, but at the time it was scary and stressful. Does anyone like dealing with the LAPD after a fight?

If anything, I left the game with a loss of respect for Dodger fans. I know that a couple of drunken idiots shouldn't taint the entire organization, but you know what? It did. The only power that I have these days is where I spent my money. So I'll exercise my power and avoid giving that organization any of my money in the future.

We needed something light on Tuesday to do before Derek went home. Since we dug Pineapple Express so much, we went back on Tuesday afternoon to see it again and brought Nicky along. She's a stuck-up jaded former industry executive so it's tough to get her to actually have a good time at a movie without overanalyzing it. Sure, it wasn't a crowded screening at all (unlike the packed theatre on Saturday) but Nicky was by far the loudest laugher in the theatre. She was probably the biggest pothead which meant all those subtle stoner jokes struck the funny nerve.

The flick put all of us in a better mood and before we took Derek to the airport, we stopped at Pann's dinner near LAX. It's most famous for being one of the shooting locations for Pulp Fiction. They have great soul food including fried chicken and mac & cheese.

I wonder if Derek will ever come back to LA again?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

RIP Chef

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

Isaac Hayes aka Chef from South Park passed away recently. The news of his death was buried behind the oodles of Olympic coverage, the election, and the recent Russian invasion of Georgia.

So, Chef, what's a prostitute?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Yankees-Angels Pic Dump

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

Derek, Nicky, and I headed down to Anaheim to see the Yankees play a Sunday afternoon game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. I scored decent seats. They usually cost just $26, but I had to pay double from a season ticket holder who jacked up the prices. I thought they were good seats, fifth row, near the foul pole. We got a great view of left field and the bullpen. The Yanks lost and got swept by the Angels who tagged Mo Rivera in the bottom of the ninth for the win.

Andy Pettitie leaving the bullpen during a pre-game warm-up

Our seats were next to the foul pole

And sadly, no foul balls came our way...

Garrett Anderson

He's so dreamy!

Lots of Yankees fans at the game

Speaking of the Yankees captain...

A-Rod whiffs

Still out...

Retarded vendor

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Pineapple Express

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

Last night, Derek and I saw the action movie for potheads...

Hysterically funny.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Jerry Garcia Mixes

By Pauly
Hollyeird, CA

Jerry Garcia passed away 13 years ago today. I made a mix to commemorate Jerry's passing.

Download RIP Jerry Mix

RIP Jerry Mix Track Listing:
1. China Cat Sunflower
2. Dire Wolf
3. They Love Each Other
4. New Speedway Boogie
5. Row Jimmy
6. Eyes of the World
7. Mississippi Half-Step
8. Stella Blue
9. Uncle John's Band

And don't forget about the two Jerry Day mixes I made last week...
Download Jerry Day 1
Download Jerry Day 2