Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Abroad

By Pauly
Budapest, Hungary

I will be spending Halloween this year in Hungary. Last year, I spent Halloween down under in Australia. Guess what? Both countries don't really celebrate the holiday. However, today is Benjo's birthday so I suspect that there will be hijinks later tonight.

This is one of my favorite YouTube videos. It was Vegoose music festival in 2006 during Halloween.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Budapest Pic Dump

By Pauly
Budapest, Hungary

Here are some pics I took on my first day in town...

A view out my bedroom window

My rented apartment

The local cuisine

Hungarian Bacon

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Poor Isiah

By Pauly

Isiah Thomas ran the Knicks franchise into the ground. He's such a fuck up that he even botched a potential suicide attempt.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Budapest Pukefest

By Pauly
Budapest, Hungary

Yes, it's true. I puked on a hot naked Hungarian woman. It's a long and complicated story that I will write sometime in the future, but not for public consumption.

I ran up a massive bar tab last night and missed Brandon's party. I met up with him before everything began and as our friend Mad said, "Where did you find those two hookers? Were they drinking in the park when you picked them up?"

No, they weren't pros.

I puked all over my shower and in the bathroom. I fell down at some point. When my flatmate Dana arrived she said that I was three sheets to the wind. More like seventy-three sheets. I only get drunk like that once or twice a year. The last time was in Australia in January.

I woke up at 7am and puked again. I called Nicky and told her about puking on the naked woman. She was miffed but admitted that she couldn't stop laughing.

I eventually rolled out of bed around 10:30am. I showered and then headed to work. We walked to the casino and I thought I was going to die. I was sweating alcohol. I struggled to eat a half of a Subway chicken sandwich. I'd be sick all day and afternoon. It wasn't until 10pm or so when I finally felt somewhat normal again. I ate sushi with seven work colleagues.

I know.... weird, right? Sushi in Budapest. We'll see if I puke that up.

Monday, October 27, 2008

nyc > budapest

By Pauly
Budapest, Hungary

I packed fairly quickly on Sunday morning. I grabbed a couple of bagels and a couple of breakfast sandwiches settled in to watch the Jets game with Derek. Lucky for me, I scheduled a car service to pick me up at 4:30pm so I could watch the entire game and then head to the airport. Despite a shitty game, Favre and the Jets managed to win an ugly game. At least I was leaving on a good note.

As soon as I saw my cabbie, I knew it was going to be a long ride. I had this one driver before and knew he was a chatty one. He basically spoke the entire ride to JFK. I prefer to sit in silence and stare out the window and lose myself in my thoughts. No such luck. He told me about a trip he took to Los Angeles. He won a contest from a radio station which sent him to a party at the Playboy Mansion. He was bragging about his epic trip and even showed me a few pictures on his cellphone.

"How many people can actually say they have been to the Playboy Mansion?"

I smiled and didn't say anything. I went once before but didn't want to spend the rest of the ride talking about the Mansion. Some personal adventures are best left unsaid.

Terminal 3 at JFK is sort of s shit hole. Check in went quick because I used a self-kiosk. Surprisingly, the security line also went fast. I found myself with a lot of time to kill. I found a food court and grabbed a $5 slice of chocolate cake. It was stale. Bad beat.

I sat down and played online poker for about 30 minutes and talked a bit with the Joker. He had seen Obama speak only a couple of hours earlier in Denver. I also checked some of my fantasy football scores.

There was a bit of confusion boarding the plane. My flight to Budapest was filled with 90% Hungarians most of which did not speak very good English or other simply ignored the board procedures.

An older guy in a track suit sat down next to me. We sat behind a row of elderly ladies. Delta does not have a swanky personal TV system (like Quantas, KLM, and JetBlue) so I had to watch the one movie that they decided to show which happened to be a shitty Kevin Costner flick.

Dinner was a piece of rubber chicken and some sort of goop that resembled mashed potatoes. The only gem in my meal was the brownie made up of Oreo cookies. There was a gourmet cheese wedge with crackers. It tasted good but I feared that it could cause some serious stomach issues somewhere over the Atlantic.

I popped a Xanax and read the latest issue of New Yorker which included an intriguing article about Marlon Brando. I tried to sleep but kept waking up five minutes after I passed out. I stayed up for the rest of the flight.

We arrived early and I was sort of confused with the local time. I expected it to be six hours ahead of NYC. I discovered that Europe went to day light savings time one week earlier which meant that I was just five hours ahead of the east coast and eight hours ahead of Nicky on the west coast. I gave her a call and she was still up. I let her know that I arrived safely.

There was a problem with the luggage and it came out 20 minutes late. I eventually found my bag and cleared customs. I had a driver picking me up and found a guy holding up a piece of paper with my name. I followed him out to a van and we headed for Budapest. He didn't say a word until we arrived. I paid him €20 for the fare and he took me to the landlady.

The people who own the building are Germans but they are not onsite. There's an old Hungarian lady who gave me the keys to the apartment and collected my deposit. She did not speak a lick of English but handed me a local map. She said she spoke German so we tried to talk in broken German. It wasn't pretty. I asked her where I could smoke cigarettes since there was a massive courtyard behind the apartment. I think she said only outside, but there's ashtrays in the apartment. I have no clue.

I looked out the window. There's a pharmacy and pool hall below. Across the street is a pizza joint, an Argentinian steak house and one block away there's a Burger King.

I'm exhausted but I'm also starving. I'm gonna grab some food and walk around. I need to get a metro/subway/tram weekly pass and scout out the casino where I'll be working.

My colleague Dana from London will be arriving later tonight. And Brandon Schaefer arrives in a couple of hours. He's throwing a party at his place later tonight. Should be fun...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Late October NYC Pic Dump

By Pauly
New York City

Here are some pics that I took over the last couple of days...

Veselka Grilled Cheese

Cambodian Art section at the Met

Damien Hurst's Shark

Friday, October 24, 2008

All Work and No Play....

By Pauly
New York City

I was going to wake up today and do the finger dance of the laptop keys and write and work and pretty much be a slave to the machines and the websites and all of the personal projects. During a walk through the neighborhood to grab a bagel (only a few moments ago), I was bombarded with a sensation, more of a commanding thought that I should not lock myself inside working away at the grind. Instead, I should roam aimlessly through the city, perhaps take a few pictures, pop into a bookstore to read a chapter or two of random books, perhaps wander through Central Park and head over to a museum and be whisked away in inspiration.

Alas, my primary objective for the day changed. Instead of diligent work, it's gonna be all play. After all, it's Friday...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

nyc > providence > nyc

By Pauly
New York City

Quick trip up to Rhode Island. Very quick.

I combined a concert with seeing Senor and the family. I'm short on time and have to consolidate a lot of events these days. The hardest part was figuring out how to get up to Rhode Island. In the past, if I stayed for an extended visit, I always took the bus. It was the cheapest option but took the longest in excess of five hours sometimes longer depending on traffic. For short trips to RI, I usually rented a car and spent an extra night playing poker at Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut. This instance, I was pressed for time with a trip to Budapest starting on Sunday. I opted to skip a side trip to a casino since I'm slowly getting back into playing a lot of poker again but I don't want to go overboard. Moderation.

Plus, I couldn't find an ideal car rental. It's pricey to rent cars in NYC and I'd have to get one for 2 days which added to the price tag. I thought about flying. That's the fastest but also the most expensive and most restrictive. In the end, I settled on the train. Three hours each way. That's faster than driving and much faster than the bus which stops a ton of places along the way. The train ended up being the same length as a plane because of all the hassles of getting into the airport early and security checkpoints at LaGuardia airport which sucks. Plus the train is the most accessible. I took the subway downtown to Penn Station where I caught Amtrak which dropped me off in downtown Providence less than 10 minutes from Senor's house.

I purchased business class upgrade for a few more bucks at $160 total. Those sections actually have power outlets and fold down trays which caters to business people. My biggest complaint about air travel is that it kills valuable time for me because I'm away from the intertubes and that there's always a line (check in, security, boarding) or wasteful waiting time (on tarmacs or at the gate or waiting for luggae). The train gave me the opportunity to stay connected along my journey.

I arrived early at Penn Station. I grabbed a black and white cookie while I avoided the K9 unit patroling the area. My train was bound for Boston with only a few stops which included Providence. I had an empty seat next to me the entire way and spread out all my stuff over two seats which included a laptop, a book, and a notebook to jot down some ideas if inspiration struck.

A group of rowdy Norwegians were in my car headed to Boston. The rest of the passengers were all business types. A few of them were on their cellphones the entire journey wheeling and dealing.

My aircard worked without any problems. I played online poker and won enough money to pay for my ticket. I often gazed out the window at the magnificent foliage of New England. I sort of forgot what time of year it was and the multi-colored trees reminded me that it was late October. This is the pretty time when you get plenty of shades of green along with bright yellows, reds, and oranges before eventually all the leaves turn death brown and fall to the ground. You don't get to see that flying 35,000 feet up in the air.

I arrived just at the same time that Senor pulled into the train station. We headed back to his new house in Providence. I got to see the wife and 50% of his offspring. Jodd was at Grandma's but Deuce was around. He's two years old now and talking a bit. I kept my language clean and only let slip one F-bomb.

Deuce and I hung out and drew dinosaurs together as he emptied out a huge box of crayons and markers on the floor. He is in the middle of a smiley face phase so I drew lots of circles and let him add the smiles. I ran around the house with Deuce for twenty minutes. Afterwards, I was sore and tired. Two year olds have boundless energy. I asked Senor how he managed to keep up. He said he could only keep up for about thirty minutes before he was drained.

Senor and I grabbed dinner at Blake's which is a bar downtown with food that is located across the street from the place we were gonna see Trey perform. We met up with some Deadheads that Senor works with and talked music while I drank beers. I tweaked my back earlier in the morning and took a couple of painkillers throughout the day just to function. That made the beer go right to my head. After two brews, I was sloshed. It was time to go inside.

Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel used to be in a different location. The last time I saw a show in Providence it was Dark Star Orchestra several years ago at the old locale. The new one is much different and reminded me of the Beacon Theatre in NYC or a smaller version of the Wiltern in LA.

Senor and I hung upstairs for the entire show. Good crowd, a mixture of local college kids and older hardcore Phish fans. Senor chugged red bull to stay awake. I only drank water at the show and did not have a single smoke. Talk about a sober show, eh? I was still jacked up from the painkillers which allowed me to dance and groove a bit without any serious pain.

After the show, we headed back to the house. Senor crashed and I stayed up to write a quick review. I attempted sleep, but insomnia had the best of me. I tried to stay in bed in the guest room and let my back rest up but I was limited to listening to my iPod and reading. I passed out shortly before sunrise and woke up in time to catch my train back to NYC.

I hopped on a train that began in Boston and was headed for DC. It was crowded but I managed to find a seat in the Quiet Car. That was welcomed because the rules are no cell phones. I took a thirty minute nap somewhere in Eastern Connecticut. I woke up and finished up a book on Alan Watts.

I was in NYC by lunchtime... almost exactly 24 hours after I began my journey. A quick trip to Providence was complete. I got to see 50% of my nephews, hung out with Senor and his wife, caught a kick ass Trey show, and enjoyed the visual stimulation of a New England autumn.

Only a few more days until Budapest.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Rhode Island Tales: Trey at Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel

By Pauly
Providence, RI

I took the train from New York to Providence. I rode business class which included power outlets. Very clutch since I brought my laptop and I'm addicted to the intertubes. I tweaked my back earlier in the morning, so I took some prescribed pain medication. Although my back was sore and stiff, I had a nice buzz as I listened to a Dead bootleg from 1978 while I played online poker and gazed out the window at the magnificent foliage of New England. I played for less than an hour and won enough money to pay for my train ticket. I did not even arrive in Rhode Island and I was already having a sensational trip.

I went up to Providence to visit one of my best friends Senor. We had seen numerous Phish shows together. Too many to count. He went to Japan with me in 2000 to see Phish. Senor is married with two kids and doesn't see as many shows as we used to back in the day. That's what made the Trey show in Providence a little extra special since I got to go see it with someone who loves music as much if not more than me.

We had a mellow pre-party at Blake's and I drank with some Deadheads. We went inside around 8:20 and the floor was already packed. We headed upstairs to the balcony. We snagged third row seats and were ready for the festivities to begin...
Trey Anastasio, Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel, Providence RI 10/21/08

Set I: Come on Baby Lets Go Downtown, Last Tube, Tube Top Flop, Sweet Dreams Melinda, Cayman Review, Ooh Child, Alaska, Backwards Down the Number Line, Gone, Sand

Set II: Push on Til the Day, Gotta Jibboo, Drifting, Simple Twist Up Dave, Water in the Sky@, Brian and Robert@, Get Back on the Train@, A Case of Ice and Snow, Tuesday

Encore: First Tube*

*w/ Oteil Burbridge, Scott Murawski and Billy Kreutzmann
The last time I was at Lupo's was like five years ago and I saw Dark Star Orchestra. It was in a different location then and I sort of dug the new space similar to the Beacon Theatre in NYC or the Orpheum in Boston. The sound was muffled at times but the overall quality was better than the shitty acoustics of Roseland Ballroom.

I wasn't expecting the opener of Come on Baby Lets Go Downtown. Trey appeared ready to let loose from the start of the show with an uplifting version of a Neil Young cover. Yeah, Trey was just getting warmed up.

Last Tube has several operatic moments. That's what I jotted down in my notes. I'm not the biggest fan of that song. And that's what I love about live shows. Sometimes you are forced to sit/stand/dance through a song that you might otherwise skip if listening on your iPod or in your car. But the magic occurs when you hear a version of a song you really don't care for and it sucks you and simply kicks your ass. You almost feel like a total moron for not appreciating the song much earlier. Well, that's what their version of Last Tube did to me.

Next up was an old school TAB song that the name escaped me. The Joker told me that it was called Tube Top. I knew I heard it before. Delicious version. The first three songs were not songs that would have been at the top of my list to hear, however, each of them more than satisfied my musical needs along with the majority of folks in my section. They were dancing like fiends.

I thought that Sweet Dreams Melinda killed the momentum of the set. A little too slow but a slightly sloppy version. Trey made up for it with Cayman Review, a daily staple that has been in heavy rotation during the Northern Exposure Tour. It's one of my favorite TAB songs because the prevailing Latin-influenced reggae-funk beat gets my ass shaking.

Ooh Child came out of left field. Actually it hopped the left field wall, sprinted across the diamond, and dove head first into home plate. Never expected to hear that bust out. Trey crooned the crowd. I saw one Phishy chick weeping. Tears of joy.

Trey and the band have Alaska down pat. Each version I hear gets tighter and tighter. Catchy lyrics. Upbeat tempo. Senor heard it for the first time and was singing along by the end of the song.

I must have listened to Trey's Brooklyn show a hundred times. I wasn't too fond of Backwards Down the Number Line until now. Again, it was one of those songs not on the top of my list to hear, but man was I wrong. I'm so glad that I didn't make it a Pauly's Gonna Take a Piss Song. I jotted down the word "poignant" in my notes to describe that Backwards Down the Number Line.

Gone was another new tune that I did not see last week at Roseland. It was OK and it appeared to abruptly end early. I dunno if it was supposed to do that or they had technical difficulties. They milled around for a bout a minute or so before they played Sand to close the set. One of the highlights for sure with an enticing sustained climax.

The highlight of the show, the moment when I was like "Wow, Trey is tearing this shit up like John Holmes deep dickin' a high school girl" occurred during Push On Til the Day. The always gregarious Trey was ever more hyper and happy and jumping up and down and all around his little octagon of a Persian rug that he stands on onstage. The second half of Push On seized a hold of everyone in the balcony. They were on their feet. Dancing. Jumping. You could feel the vibrations and slight bounce of everyone grooving to the invigorating start of the second set.

Trey kept up the momentum with a crowd pleaser. Gotta Jibboo had a few mutated solos from Trey and I couldn't get enough.

A mellow Drifting cooled things off a bit before Simple Twist Up Dave. I think that's one of the songs that sounds better when arranged with the horns.

Trey played three solo acoustic songs... a slow and twangy Water in the Sky, a sulky Brian and Robert and a spicy version of Get Back on the Train.

I'm still mixed about A Case of Ice and Snow. I thought it was misplaced in the set. Senor absolutely loved the song. When the first few notes of Tuesday began, Senor turned to me and asked if that was a Pauly's Gonna Take a Piss Song I told him that it wasn't but Ice and Snow should have been.

The encore was First Tube and crowd delved into a feeding frenzy. The first part featured the band with several explosive solos from Big Red. As the song progressed, several friends took the stage. A older guy in a baseball hat appeared from behind the drum kit and started banging on a single drum behind Russ. A couple of seconds later, Russ hopped out of the kit and the old guy slid in. He looked a lot like Billy Kruetzman from the Grateful Dead. He even drummed a lot like him mentioned Senor. Yeah, it was him. Russ stood behind his kit and beat on the single drum, while Tony left the stage and Oteil Burbridge took his place. A couple of minutes later, Scott Murawski on guitar, joined the mix. They jammed out for several more minutes to end the encore and the entire show.

Lupo's blew away Roseland. The sound was better. The playing was tighter. The crowd was much cooler. No one was really talking over the playing like they did at the Roseland show. That sort of puzzled me and bothered me in the same instance. Too many hipsters and scenesters at the NYC show. The Providence show had a lot more respectful fans which added to the overall enjoyment factor to the show.

Editor's Note: This originally appeared on Coventry.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Last 5 Books I Saw People Reading on the Subway....

By Pauly
New York City

And yep, been riding the subways a lot over the last week.
Last 5 Books I Saw People Reading on the Subway...
1. Shopaholic Takes Manhattan by Sophie Kinsella
2. The Holy Bible
3. Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
4. 26a by Diane Evans
5. The Girlfriends' Guide to Pregnancy by Vicki Iovine

Monday, October 20, 2008

Monday Misgivings

By Pauly
New York City

I took it easy over the weekend. I could have pushed myself and did a ton of work but instead, I let all of that slide into today. Procrastination. Instead I watched a lot of sports with my brother. I also slept more than usual. Trying to catch up on the years of lost sleep and finally kick the cold/flu bugs that I acquired in Europe.

Alas, my Monday is jam packed with a ton of shit to do which sorta blows since I have to go up to Providence tomorrow. Which means a quickie post here.

I have been enjoying my time in NYC. I spend so much time on the road that the more time away, the more I miss NYC. I often get asked where is my favorite place to travel. Amsterdam and New Zealand are common answers. But the more time I spend away from NYC, the more I miss it and want to spend more time there.

I took advantage of the last week and did a lot of things that I can't do in other cities or when I'm living in Hollyweird or Las Vegas. I love riding the subways and compared to other cities, the NYC subway is really inexpensive.

I also spent a lot of time wandering around the city walking down streets that I had not walked down in some time. I like to people watch and I enjoy the flashbacks that I get when wandering aimlessly through the city. A lot of personal history on those streets. I often wonder when I'll move back.

I spent some time in Central Park. I missed the place and took a chance for a quick stroll before dusk on Friday. On Saturday night, I milled around the Upper West Side and was disappointed to discover that Yogis, one of my favorite NYC dive bars, had closed their doors. Lots of great memories there. I was at Yogis and watched Derek Jeter hit that infmaous home run in the 2001 World Series. I had just finished a Halloween concert (Medeski Martin & Wood) at the Beacon Theatre near by with Molly and I insisted that we pop into Yogi's to check the score. That's when I saw Jeter hit that homerun which occurred a few ticks past Midnight so they dubbed him Mr. November.

I have been thumbing through several old books that I have read many times before. Sometimes I'd rather re-read an old book than pick up a new book. I was sort of let down by two books that were recommended by friends. I guess I had such high expectations because they raved about it... which always ruins it for me. I like going into a book totally blank and like to form my own opinions. The books were solid but they failed to meet the raving reviews and high expectations.

Marty Beckerman sent me his latest book and I promised him that I'd write a review on Tao of Pauly. It's next on my list along with a book about Jerry Garcia's various interviews in Rolling Stone magazine.

My bathroom book has been one of my Christmas presents from last year.... Conversations with Woody Allen. Several gems inside that book that includes various interviews with Allen over the years.

Of course, I have been killing time in various bookstores in NYC, particularly random Barnes and Nobles stores on the Upper West Side. I love wandering around the Eastern Philosophy section and often pick out a random book and read for twenty minutes. When I used to be super broke, I spent plenty of time in the same stores reading newly released books or other texts that I never had the chance to read. I also used to read a ton of poker strategy books because I was always short on cash.

Over the last week, I brushed up on Budapest and read various travel guides. I bought a local street map and figured out where my apartment is located. I also discovered that I can take a tram to the casino. The stop is located a few blocks from the apartment. It will save me some walking time but then again I often like wandering the streets of cities I have never been before, especially in Europe.

I watched the Knicks and they look exciting with D'Antoni as the new head coach. I just can't wait until they dump Marbury. He's a cancer. He's been a cancer since he arrived.

The Rangers look solid despite their first loss of the season the other night. Too bad that I have to spent most of November away from NYC. I'd really like to watch the Knicks and Rangers these days since they totally sucked in previous years.

And the Jets? Ugggh. That game was ugly. Tons of penalties. Favre looked old and got banged up pretty bad. Derek and I couldn't believe how much the Jets blew several chances in OT. Yep, the Jets lose again in Oakland.

Band of Brothers has been on the History channel all weekend. We caught several bits of the epic series as we flipped back and forth between various sporting events. October is always a great time for sports with the baseball playoffs and being in the middle of football with hoops and hockey season on the horizon.

That's it. Time for me to work on a Truckin' story.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

45 Slices

By Pauly
New York City

I can eat three slices of pizza, maybe four on a good day. Joey Chestnut eats a lot more than me. He's been on fire recently winning the Krystal eat off last month. He won the Nathan's contest two years in a row. He makes Daddy look like a anorexic ballerina.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Trey Returns with Classic TAB

By Pauly
New York City

Trey. NYC. Unexpected show due to a cancellation. Plenty of anticipation while on the cusp of the Phish Reunion 3.0. Yeah, Trey headed down to New York City to kick off his Northern Exposure tour at one of my least favorite venues in the city. I knew about the liabilities of the venue going into the show so I didn't let it affect my overall experience. I was simply happy to see Trey and even more excited to see Phish next March.

After Phish broke up in 2004, going to see a Trey Anastasio Band concert was sort of like methadone compared to full blown smack. Yes, I used the Phish as a metaphor for heroin. However, with Phish's return on the horizon, Trey's NYC show was more like a delicious appetizer to kick off a scrumptious meal. Now that the apps are over, where's my fuckin' steak?

I did not see Trey play this summer when he hit the festival circuit out in Rothbury or Newport. I missed the Brooklyn show and Liberty State park due to work reasons. The last time I saw Trey was for two shows in 2007. He played a late show in Ft. Lauderdale that was above average and the next night he played a weak set at Langerado. I was sort of disappointed with Big Red after that show. And we'd all find out several months later that Trey had been wrestling with some intense demons of addiction which obviously affected his play.

Since the last time I saw TAB... Trey got arrested, went to trial, got convicted, forced into rehab, spent a night in jail, and is now a free man. That experience was no doubt the driving force behind the band getting back together. The immediate result? Fun happy Trey without the deviant Oxycontin-jams that plagued Phish 2.0.

I have seen over thirty Trey Anastasio solo gigs (not counting GRAB or Oysterhead) dating as far back as 1999 which is now known as Classic Trey Anastasio Band with included Russ Lawton and Tony Markellis (also known as the Trio). I've seen several incarnations since then with the horns and Jen Hartswick, otherwise known as the Sextet, which in my opinion was my favorite grouping that Trey has played with. They were a notch above the Trio and that's only because horns make everything sound better. Ah, then there was the 70 Volt Parade which at times was slammin' (when Les and Skeeto were locked in) but other times they fizzled out. Trey tried to capture that old magic with the Undectet. They had their moments but I always thought something was missing from that lineup. And now, Trey decided to go old school. He brought back Russ Lawton and Tony Markellis and added Ray Paczkowski on keys.
10/16/08 Trey Anastasio Band, Roseland Ballroom, NY, NY

Set I: Sand, Cayman Review, Let Me Lie, Gotta Jibboo, Dragonfly, First Tube

Set II: Alaska, Last Tube, Sweet Dreams Melinda, Valentine, Drifting, Brian & Robert **, Chalkdust Torture **, The Way I Feel, Spin

E: Heavy Things, Burlap Sack and Pumps

** solo acoustic
Although I scored two tickets, they were not cheap. I had to pay over face value. I tried not to let the high value of the price of admission affect my expectations of the show. I went with my buddy Bruce and this was sort of a birthday celebration for him. We arrived around 7:30ish. No line to get in but I was hassled by a Nazi security guard who gave me a more than thorough pat down. He put his hands down the front and back of my pants! He grabbed my junk (thank God it was from the outside) and he was particularly interested in my socks. He made me take everything out of my pockets. He got suspicious when he found my mini-Bic lighter.

"Why do you have a lighter and no cigarettes?"

Here's where playing a ton of poker comes in handy. I looked him right in the eye and bluffed. I smiled and then flat out lied.

"This is a non-smoking venue. I finished my last cigarette before coming in. I'll buy a new pack when the show is over."

He didn't find anything incriminating on me even though I sensed he was looking for trouble meaning he was on a power trip and getting off by busting hippies. He let me go because I hide things very well. This ain't my first rodeo.

A friend of mine handed me a pill last week. "Merry Christmas!" he said as realized it was one 15 mg oxy. I thought it was fitting that I was going to see Trey. I bit off a sliver before I went in the show. I was faded the entire night.

Bruce and I grabbed $6 cans of Becks and hung out on the side. I went down to the bathroom and the entire stairs smells like puke. Boot and rally. Someone was already all fired up. Once the crowd started filling up the floor, we headed to the front of the soundboard. Show time was scheduled for 8pm. Trey went on late in true rock star fashion. The lights went down around 8:23pm. Smoking commenced as the crowd got a little more than excited than your average Trey show.

Trey threw all the Phisheads a bone when he opened the show with Sand. It was originally written and performed by Classic TAB. Sand was a song in regular rotation by Phish both pre-hiatus and post-hiatus. It was kinda cool to hear the original guys play it. My notes for Sand were, "Sand started out mellow. Trey noodled a lot in the middle. Build to jam loud & intense. Trey mouth open."

Trey elevated things a bit with a funky-boogie-reggae version of Cayman Review. That fired up the Phishy chick standing next to me. It was tightly packed with very little room to move let alone dance. That did not deter her from letting loose. She was all over the place and kept jumping up and down and landing on my right foot. During the middle of the song she was grinding up against me. I didn't mind too much. After all, I have to pay women $20 a song in Las Vegas to rub me that much. It felt good to get a free lapdance during a Trey show from a spun-out hippie chick. I'd prefer that to the coke whores at the Rhino with fake tits the size of watermelons.

I got a half-chubby during Cayman Review. I couldn't tell if it was caused by the chick grinding up against me or if I was really that excited about the Phish reunion at Hampton.

Trey calmed things down with Let Me Lie. Slow songs always get the Phishy chicks wet. I dug the solo acoustic versions from this summer, but it sounded much better than the version I caught when Trey played shows supporting that Bar 17 mishap of a album.

Gotta Jibboo was the highlight of the set and possibly the show. It started out ordinary and then Trey took command. I sent a text that said, "Trey tearin' it up in Jibboo jam." And then it got even hotter and even more badass. Nothing more to say. Just listen for yourself.

Since the jam out of Jibboo shot me out into deep space, the result was just an average Dragonfly. The entire time it played I kept thinking, "Whoaaaaa that Jibboo was fuckin' sick. Can't wait to hear Phish play that again!"

They closed the first set with First Tube. I was expecting it to close the second set, so Trey threw a curve ball. Solid version but it seemed a bit rushed at the end and lacked spontaneity. The first set was short with six songs for about an hour of total playing time. I graded Set 1 as a B-.

Bruce and I battled the lines in the bathroom as I tried to get a score in the Rays/Red Sox game. I battled the beer lines and Bruce decided to hang out in the back where there was more space to move. I wanted to join him, but everyone was talking in the back. That was the catch-22. No space but good sound, or lots of space with too many chatty hipsters.

The second set opened with Alaska. The crowd was singing along. They obviously heard the tapes. Could be a fun Phish song, eh? When it was over Trey blurted out, "Just so you know, I wrote that song before she (Sarah Palin) came along." He paused for a second while everyone cheered before he continued, "And I did not have sex with that woman!"

Funny Trey. Even he is cracking Palin jokes. Bring back Fishman and the prison joke.

The beer, weed, and oxy all kicked in at the same time... during Alaska. I was a puddle the rest of the show. I kept spacing out on song names. I'd hear a few notes and then send a text only to discover three minutes later that I was totally wrong. That happened with Last Tube. It was a solid version but my area was more concerned with the stench of feces. Yeah, someone walked by and busted some serious ass. I really thought someone shit themselves. I sent a tweet that said, "Smells like total assexplosion. Or someone smuggled a tourbaby inside. Diaper needs changing."

The wook factor was low at the show so the aroma of patchouli was absent and did not mask the smell of busted ass.

Sweet Dreams Melinda was mellow which meant that everyone around me started talking at once. It took me more than half the song to find a better spot that did not have chatty folks.

Next up was a new song called Valentine. I heard it from the Brooklyn show but I forgot the title at the time. My notes included something like Trey was singing about circles and walking the straight line. Again, it was super tough to hear because a new Trey song gave everyone a chance to yap nonstop.

I really felt that the lyrics were alluding to Trey's turn around post-rehab. I wrote in my notes, "No more oxyjams. More happy shit."

I'm always a fan of Drifting. Solid version. After the completion of the song, everyone left the stage and Trey grabbed an acoustic guitar. He played two Phish songs in Brian and Robert and Chalkdust Torture. I flubbed the title and tested Roggae. I always get those songs from Story of the Ghost mixed up.

Before Trey started Chalkdust he mentioned, "We've been practicing this one."

He was alluding to Phish. Wow, I'm even more excited that they have been practicing... now. I figured they would start in January and play intensely for two months before they hit the road. Good signs that Phish has been practicing five-months before their Hampton shows.

After two songs, the band returned. The one song I liked during the 70 Volt days was called The Way I Feel. It used to be a bit darker due to Trey's headspace. Ah, this was a bit softer version but just as intense. It was a highlight for me in the second set. When I first heard Spin a couple of years ago it was an immediate sign that Trey was losing the battle with the pills. I thought it was pretty obvious what he was trying to say. Singing those lyrics now must be therapeutic. I couldn't tell if the song ended and they segued into a different song. The Joker said it was just a post-Spin jam. Trey was cajoling the rock Gods. As I wrote in my notes, "Trey showing off orgasm faces. Russ stepping it up."

Trey played two encore songs. The first was Heavy Things. When it was over, Trey mentioned that, "Some of these songs were written by Russ and Tony including Sand and First Tube." He went on to explain that their buddy Kevin helped write another song which they were going to play. That was Burlap Sack and Pumps. It was warm, affectionate, funky, and plenty of fun. Trey looked like he was having the time of his life. When Trey has a good time, we all have a good time.

I graded Set 2 as a B. Overall, I gave the show a B. There were a few lowlights which had more to due with the sound quality and the rust factor. Of course, there were plenty of highlights and moments of purity like Gotta Jibboo and The Way I Feel.

I'm super excited to see Trey next week in Rhode Island. By them they will have a few shows under their belt. Maybe I'll get see Windora Bug then?

Editor's Note: This originally appeared on Coventry.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Wednesday Good

By Pauly
New York City

I had passed out earlier than usual, which meant that I woke up much earlier. I usually crash around 5am. Instead, I woke up at that time and wrote for a couple of hours. I worked on the second draft of my article about London for Bluff. I decided to go for a run. The weather was the perfect temperature for a morning run. I jogged two miles and although I felt sore, it was a good sore. My back has been wacky since the car accident in the summer. For the first time since then, it felt normal when I ran. The only pains I had were the shins and the knee. Just like old times. I'm used to that so I guess I'm slowly back to normal.

The run was good. I listened to Phish 10.31.98. Halloween in Las Vegas. I was there with Senor, his brother, and Ty. Awesome night and one of my top 10 Phish shows all time. I thought a lot as I slowly made my way through the hills of Riverdale. On my way back, I bought Kashi cereal and organic skim milk with bananas. Back to eating healthy despite the damage I put my body through on a daily basis by partying too much and not sleeping enough.

When I returned home, I rewrote a section of the London article and then sent it off to the editor. I jumped in the shower and when I got out, an email awaited me. He must have checked his email just as I sent the piece. He read it and had a positive response. I'm used to not hearing back from my clients. I prefer it that way. If I do hear back from them, it's almost usually a bad thing. But that instance, it was all good. I don't need positive affirmation in those areas because I don't write for approval. I write for money, so paycheck is enough. However, I had second thoughts about the London piece. So much so that I re-worked it after a morning run.

In the end I was glad that I made the right decision and it fit the mold. With writing and art, it's all about taking risks. Most of the time you fail. That time, I nailed it.

I finally got in contact with Dell about my busted laptop. I was on the phone for about thirty minutes or so and discovered that my warranty will cover any cost to repair it. They sent me a box. All I have to do is load up the laptop and ship it off to them. Hopefully it will be back before I leave for Budapest. For now, I have to use my British laptop. When I log into to check my email, there is a female British voice that says, "You have email." I actually kinda like that.

When I got off the phone, I cranked out a different column. The words flowed easily for that piece. I was done super fast that I had a whole chunk of free time. I rarely have those. I wandered over to the post office to send the Joker a book. The weather was amazing out. Almost 70 degrees. That's when I made the decision to hop on the subway and wander around Central Park.

I popped a pharmie and rode the subway while listening to my iPod. I wandered around Strawberry Fields and found my way near the Great Lawn. I used to have gym class there when I was in high school. The Metropolitan Museum of Art was very close and I impulsively wandered inside. I mainly needed to take a piss but I recalled that there was a special exhibit that I wanted to see. It was called Early Buddhist Manuscript Paintings: The Palm-Leaf Tradition. Suggestion donation is $20. I paid $1.

I wandered through the Egyptian Wing and made my way upstairs to the Asian Art section. I hung out in the Chinese courtyard for a few minutes before I wandered through the section that included art from Tibet, Cambodia, and Nepal. Seeing some of Angkor sculptures reminded me that I have to see Angkor Wat before I turn 40.

I checked out the Palm-Leaf paintings. Centuries old and super fragile. Yet the colors and images still held. Amazing and inspiring.

The Met have been doing tons of renovations over the last few years. It is constantly changing. I wandered around the new galleries of European Art. It used to be just 19th century painters but they added early 20th century to that section and renamed it the "19th Century and Early 20th Century European Painting." And they also renamed the former 20th Century section and now call it the Modern Art section. I checked out the canoe room in Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas which finally opened up after getting a facelift.

I headed up to the roof garden to check out the Jeff Koons sculptures. Swing and a miss. I headed back downstairs and bumped into an old work friend, Mark. He told me about the shark across the hall in the Modern Art wing. Damien Hurst had a real shark embalmed and put on display. Fascinating. He hit a home run with that.

I wanted to like the Giorgio Morandi exhibit but the work of the Italian painter just didn't click with me. Since it was located in the Lehman Wing, I also found my favorite Matisse painting. I sat down in front of it for a few minutes and listened to some Grateful Dead.

I wandered around the bookstore before I made my exit. It was time for a smoke break and I walked across the park over to the West Side. I was at Strawberry Fields again and decided it was time for a beverage. I walked a couple of blocks to P & G and sat down for a pint. I read a copy of the Village Voice and then hopped on the train to head back home.

I hung out with my brother and watched the Rangers game. They finally lost. Instead of the debate, we did the proper thing and got wasted while we watched Dazed and Confused. Man, I fuckin' love Wooderson.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

London and Amsterdam Food Pic Dump

By Pauly
New York

In honor of Derek's birthday, here's some food porn which I shot in London and Amsterdam...

Rashers aka British Bacon

Bad British sandwich

Addictive biscuits in the media room

Nicky's Dutch breakfast croissants

Kobe burger with bleu cheese at Burger Bar in Amsterdam

Exotic fruit from an outdoor market in Amsterdam

Peppers from an outdoor market in Amsterdam

Chocolate dildos

Waffles drenched in Belguim chocolate

For more food pics.... check out my massive Food Gallery via Flickr.

For more Amsterdam pics... check out my latest Amsterdam Gallery via Flickr.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

amsterdam > jfk

By Pauly
New York City

I woke up on my last day in Amsterdam and healthwise, I felt the best in days. Bad timing. I wish that I kicked that bug a day or so earlier.

Nicky packed her massive suitcase the night before and she woke up super early in order to catch a flight to London. I finished up packing my large backpack and walked her to Centraal Station which was about a ten minute walk from the apartment. I dropped off my bag at a luggage locker (which cost me $7) and met up with her on the platform. Most of the airport trains are all on the same platform 14a. We had a couple of minutes to kill before her train. That would be the last time we'd see each other for a while. We went four weeks without seeing each other, to having two plus weeks in Europe together, and now we won't see each other until the day after election day or three and a half weeks.

I grabbed a chocolate croissant and an orange juice and headed back to the apartment. I had about ninety minutes of writing before I had to tidy up the apartment. It was move out day and the Lithuanian chick would be stopping by to check out the status of the apartment. I wanted my €100 deposit back so I cleaned the dishes, took out the trash, and did my best to air out the apartment which still reeked of stinky nuggets.

Nicky called from Schipol Airport. She recanted a bad beat story from BMI airlines. Her luggage went 2 kilos over the limit and she had to pay €50 to check it to London. She had a choice of flying BMI or British Airways for the London/Amsterdam leg. She went with BMI because it was a lot cheaper than flying on BA... even though I was booked on a BA flight from Heathrow to Amsterdam. If you include the checked bag fee from BMI, the cheaper choice to fly would have been BA.

Of course she did not know about their checked bag fee and at the same time she did not think she'd buy a shitload of clothes when she was in Amsterdam. Yeah, Nicky went a little crazy at the Dutch version of H&M. She picked up all these Scandi-looking sweaters. If she actually needed to wear a sweater in Southern California, she'd look Eurohip. Alas, she only got to sport her new threads while we were in Amsterdam. She blended into the crowd and could have looked Scandi or Germanic especially with her Euroscarf.

I went under budget for the entire trip. I had over €300 left or roughly $400. Of course, the laptop died and even though my company split the cost with me, I squandered what I had left over for the London leg. I broke even in London spent about $400 less in Amsterdam during both stops. We saved the bulk of that cash on food by cooking breakfast and shopping at cheaper grocery stores. I was also sickly a couple of days and would have probably smoked a couple of hundred dollars worth of local product had I been up to it.

I have a separate budget for travel so the extra dollars got rolled over into the next trip, which in this case is Rhode Island and Budapest. I splurged and decided to ride business-class ($40 extra each way) on a train from NYC to Providence. I'll also have a few extra dollars in Budapest which I can use for bribes and taxi rides.

I checked out of the apartment without any problems. I only had a small backpack with me and headed to Abraxas 2 coffeeshop around the corner. I wandered over to an internet cafe to do my football picks and write a bit. I still had several hours to kill. I bought Derek an ashtray for his birthday. I grabbed lunch at Burger Bar. I got yelled at by a surly waitress for smoking in a non-smoking section at Grasshopper. I sat in the alley in front of Kandinsky and a group of five Russian teenagers approached me. One kid had a wad of cash and showed it to me. He pointed at the coffeeshop and wanted me to buy hash for him and his crew. He had two hot jailbait Ruskie girls with him. I muttered something about the girls giving me a handjob for hash. He wasn't picking up what I was putting down so I did not buy him anything.

I headed over to Centraal Station to retrieve my big bag. I did a quick repack and hopped on the next train to the airport. Checking in via a kiosk was quick and I tried to change my seat but my flight was full. The line to drop off my luggage at quick drop appeared short but there was a problem with two passengers and they held up the line for ten minutes. The lines around us went by quick and I made a command decision and skipped my line even though I was next. Good choice.

I had some time to kill and ate a bad ham and cheese sandwich on a baguette for €4 and sat in the food court while a group of snotty French chicks trashed America as they stuffed their faces with McDonalds. I love irony.

Nicky called and said that she landed in London. She had a four-hour layover before she flew to Los Angeles. Lucky for her, she was flying British Airways back home and their brand new terminal is super swanky with plenty of things to eat or do.

My flight was on time. I had an aisle seat in the middle section. It appeared that my section was all Europeans, particularly Norwegians. There was a group of 20 or so women heading to NYC on a shopping trip. They would bring empty suitcases, load up on goods, and head back to Norway. I snuck a peak at the itinerary of the woman seated next to me. It was in Norwegian, but I could see all the names of different shops highlighted such as Bloomingdales and Bergdorf Goodman. They also listed different nighborhoods that had good shopping.

I flew on an older plane which meant that there was no individual TV system in every seat. I guess that I have been spoiled on my previous international flights. Instead of getting a choice of 30 or so flicks, I had to watch the flick they played for us. It was Get Smart. I saw it in Hollyweird with Nicky and I fell asleep mid-way through. I was reluctant to watch it but had no choice. They showed one episode of The Simpsons which I had never seen before. It was the one where Homer is an opera singer and can only sing when he's on his back.

The serve free booze on KLM. I got free red wine with dinner which sucked. It was a cab/merlot hybrid and I only took a sip. It came in a small bottle with a screw cap. I offered the rest of it to the old Norwegian lady next to me and she accepted. She knocked back a bottle of her own and even ordered another drink after food service was over. She passed out shortly afterwards.

We landed 20 minutes early which is a shocker. The immigration line went fast but our luggage got delayed for about 20 minutes so we ended up breaking even time wise.

I grabbed my bags and headed out to the taxi line. As soon as I slid in the back seat, I knew that I was finally back home. For now...

Monday, October 13, 2008

Last 5 Books I Saw People Reading on the Subway....

By PaulyNew York City

And we're back with...
Last 5 Books I Saw People Reading on the Subway....
1. The Holy Bible
2. Chronicles by Bob Dylan
3. The Dolphin's Tooth by Bruce Kirkby
4. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
5. The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Dam the Wandering

By Pauly

The bug hit me somewhere in London. Bird Flu? Lymie Flu? Lyme Disease?

I was so amped up on work adrenaline that I barely noticed the symptoms. Sore throat. Fever. Aches. Clogged nose. It wasn't until Thursday in Amsterdam when I full realized that I was obliterated by a nasty cold with flu-like symptoms. The Zicam was no match for the invaders.

Alas, I slept so much on Monday night that that abnormality should have been a warning. I logged 9.5 hours in bed. That's more than three times my daily average. Some horrible weeks of dreaded insomnia will plague me with less than double digits of total sleep... so there are several moments every year where I'd kill to get 10 or more hours of sleep in any given seven day period.

"Are you asleep or really fucked up?" The Joker asked.

Both was my answer.

Somewhere during my slumber, The Joker called me to let me know that the end of the world did not happen on October 7th while I was slumped over in a hash house while some bad Eurotrash techno version of a Johnny Cash cover song blasted my eardrums. However, The Joker confirmed that the stock market did indeed tank as the webbots predicted. It was a brutal week and if I wasn't weighed down by a heavy haze, I probably would have freaked out. Maybe it was best that I was in Amsterdam during one of the ugliest weeks on the Street since 1987. But I have solid game plans in place... I gambled that oil would dip before the election and it keeps going lower which is profitable. And gold futures has been very kind. Those are among the reasons why I haven't lost my entire savings in the killing fields.

Nicky was still asleep by the time I woke up on Tuesday. I ran a few errands in the quiet streets of our local neighborhood while she slept off the last bits of her cold. Despite my goal to unplug, I played online poker and went on a heater. Up $400 in a 24 hour span. Actually I played online poker every morning in Amsterdam for an hour or so. It was the perfect time since the Americans/Canadians were at the end of their nightly sessions. I'm fresh while they're not.

Nicky woke up around 2pm and cooked breakfast. We wandered through the Albert Heijin (the local version of Ralph's or D'Agastino's) the night before and picked out a few items. Eating out can get pricey in Europe so our goal was to cut down on food expenses. Of course, everything at the market was in Dutch but I managed to buy bacon and cheese and butter and orange juice. I picked up three croissants (for €1.90) at Kassland and Nicky whipped up scrambled eggs. I nuked the bacon and we made bacon, egg, and cheese croissants. It was a nutritious way to start our day of debauchery.

Dutch bacon

We managed to get out of the apartment by 3pm on Tuesday. We improved on our turnaround time Wednesday and left by 2pm. We really didn't do anything out of the ordinary this trip. We avoided a lot of touristy stuff since we have been to Amsterdam many times before. We walked around the canals on quaint streets where the trees started to change color. And our other objective was killing brain cells. Other duties included riding the trams (we scored a tram pass). Smoking tuff in coffeeshops. Having the odd beer at an outdoor cafe while we people watched. We also played a combination of a mixed game poker game... Chinese Poker > Triple Draw > Omaha High.

We hit up our favorite haunts near Jordaan... Grey Area (for unpressed trichromes), Siberie (for their green tea and mint tea), and Amnesia (for the best milkshakes in Amsterdam). We'd eat random local treats like the frites with mayo or waffles drenched in chocolate. I took Nicky to one of my favorite Italian joints near the Leidseplein and even ate at Burger Bar around the corner from the apartment a couple of times. The Kobe beef burger were the shit... but pricey at €9 for the patty minus the toppings.

During the late nights, we stumbled back into the apartment and watched weird Dutch TV programs or really bad sitcoms and hour long dramas that I would never watch in America but happened to be in syndication in Holland. Nicky downloaded the last two episodes of Entourage and I was able to get back into the loop. Man... the shroomin' with Eric Roberts episode was perfect since we were in Amsterdam.

On Thursday we set a goal to visit 16 coffeeshops and break our old record of 13. I think I did 14 one night while raging solo but 16 as a duo would be an epic feat. I was super sick by that point. I could not stop sneezing but sucked it up. I was jacked up on cold medication and who knows what else I could get my hands on. All the freshly squeezed OJ in the world couldn't help my walking ailment.

I was up early trying to get healthy... while Nicky finally dragged her ass out of bed. I played a little online poker and turned a quick profit before I even left the apartment for the day. I cranked out a couple of half-baked Pauly's Pub updates and bought a train ticket from NYC to Rhode Island to visit Senor in a couple of weeks.

We were out of the apartment by 11:30am and was smoking tuff with Willie Nelson. Barney's was the first stop and we ate lunch at Barney's Uptown across the street. Delicious omelete. The next few stops were a blur.... Dampkring (formerly Pink Floyd), Pablow Picasso, Siberie, Amnesia, and Grey Area. We logged six different places before we hopped on the tram to the Leidseplein. We knocked out four more places in that area including Rookies, the Bulldog, Rokerij, and Dolphins.

We walked over to the original Dampkring (that appeared in a hilarious scene Ooean's Twelve) and then onward to Abraxas where they had a delicious strain of Creame Cheese. We were up to twelve when it was time for a dinner break at Burger Bar.

We wandered through the Red Light District gawking at the hookers on our way to The Jolly Joker. We hit up Hill Street at the Market and grabbed frites with garlic sauce. I was on vapors as we headed into the last two places of the night... 420 Cafe and Abraxas II. Nicky was ready to pass out while we sat outside of Abraxas.

16 hashbars/coffeshops complete. Next time we're gonna go for 20! For you non-herb friendly folks that's the equivalent of going on a bar crawl and drinking one beer/cocktail/shot at 16 different establishments.

I slept in on Friday. I was still ill and the 16 places in one day drained all of my energy. Since it would be Nicky's last full day --- we had to motivate. We grabbed lunch at a pasta joint and hopped on the tram which took us to the Van Gogh Museum. That was the only tourist-activity of the trip. We smoked a massive blunt in the park outside before we bumrushed the museum. We brought our iPods and cranked up the music as we toured the various floors of the museum.

I had been there a couple of times almost two weeks earlier and the exhibitions were the same. I was cool with that. I didn't mind viewing the same masterpieces. I focused a lot of 1889-1890 or Van Gogh's last year or so of painting. There's something going on there in his work before he shot himself in a suicide attempt... and I finally noticed that there was one specific element of death or dying that stood out in his last couple of works... whether it was a stump on a tree or a fallen flower from a vase or a wilted vine... he was painting the emotional realization that his talent and passion was wanning. That scared the fuck out of me.

I finally caught my last wind around dinner time. We spent the last night wandering around and smoking and gazing at the girls in the windows. We played more cards in several of our favorite coffeeshops. We ended the overall series with me turning a small profit.

It was a lively Friday night in Amsterdam. Travelers and tourists from all over the planet were getting shitty and celebrating life and running rampant through the cobblestone streets. Bachelor parties from the US. Bachelorette parties from the UK. High school kids from Russia. Some moments, we blended into the crowd of locals and avoided the mass hysteria. Other times, we sat off on the side and smoked and watched as the circus unfolded before our eyes.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Images from the Last 48 Hours

By Pauly

Insert your own story using my images...

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

london > amsterdam

By Pauly

I saw Brandon Schaefer on my last day of work in London. A welcomed surprise. We had not seen each other since this summer in Las Vegas. Brandon had been in Germany visiting his brother and partying it up at Oktoberfest. He told me that he was staying in Europe for another month and playing in the Hungarian Open... the same tournament that I'm scheduled to cover at the end of the month in Budapest.

Everyone in the media room that I talked to in London extolled the awesomeness of Budapest, but very few (if any) had actually been there. Ah, but Brandon had been there before and knew several parts of Pest. We made plans to meet up and get snookered in various bars in and around the Hungarian city.

My assignment finally ended on Sunday night. The EPT London at the Vic casino was a rough gig in many ways that it useless to bitch and moan about now since it's over. I felt a greater sense of accomplishment upon completion due to the added level of difficulty. I had a final beer with Benjo at the bar before I made my quiet exit out of the casino.

I took a night bus back to Soho and sat on the top of the double decker. Almost empty. Only me and a drunk passed out in the corner. The iPod blasted Phish. Lost in the moment. Oxford Circus and all of the shops whizzed by.

When I returned to the flat, my old roomie Gloria has been long gone and moved out. Nicky finished up the last of packing her stuff. She had been in Europe for over a month already with completed assignments in Barcelona and London. She was finally ready for a proper holiday.

Woke up early on Monday morning and wrote for a bit before I ran downstairs to grab food as I dodged all of obstacles on Charring Cross Road. The heavy pedestrian traffic. An Army of vehicular traffic. Look left or die. Monday morning in London. Nothing quite like the bustle. Cabs darted by. Double deckers raced by. The vibration of the low rumble of the tube below. Maybe New York City and Tokyo can compare to the sheer numbers of the collective influx of people peppering the streets. Schools and schools of people. Walking. Going. Somewhere. Work. Meetings. School. And then there were the tourists. Hordes of them. With maps and guidebooks and digital cameras.

I bought somosas and chocolate croissants at Sainsbury's for our last London breakfast. We snagged a cab to Paddington Station and then hopped on the Heathrow Express. The train is much cheaper than taking a cab all the way to the airport.

Nicky and I were booked on different flights to Amsterdam. I was on British Airways and Nicky on BMI which took off forty minutes earlier. Terminal 5 is exclusively for BA and they had tons of shit for me to do to kill time. I converted the last of my Sterling to Euros. I read a few magazines at the rack then bought a guidebook... TimeOut Budapest. I ate a chicken club sandwich at Pret and read about 45 pages of the guidebook... a dozen or so of which were a crash course on Hungarian history.

Nicky's flight was slightly delayed... but so was mine. It didn't matter because we arranged a meeting place in Schipol Airport. My BA flight was only half full, yet Nicky's was full. BA served me a chicken/chili wrap and tea. The flight was around 45 minutes and I read a complimentary copy of the Telegraph and a crappy inflight magazine that had an interesting article on Generation X.

Nicky arrived earlier and purchased train tickets to Centraal Station. I picked up my luggage and met her at 4pm exactly. It would turn 4:20 on the train as we raced into Amsterdam. I called the Lithuanian chick who rented me the apartment. Since I knew where it was, we agreed to meet at 5pm.

We had sometime to kill and were starving. We opted for everyone's favorite delicacy... fries with mayo. A German family of six were next to us drinking Fanta and eating their fries with ketchup and mayo.

The apartment process took less than two minutes since it was the same woman and same orange apartment that I rented before I flew to London. I handed over the balance in cash. She gave me the keys and left.

Nicky's first impression? "Wow, the apartment is really orange."

We headed to Barney's to pick up the best shit in Amsterdam. At that point, it was officially time for me to unplug...

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Truckin' - October 2008, Vol. 7, Issue 10

By Pauly

And we're back with a new issue of your favorite literary blogzine. This one features all veteran scribes. Check it out...

October 2008, Vol. 7, Issue 10

1. Maisy Wednesday by Paul McGuire
She always wore bright lipstick which brought out a little gleam in her lips. She frequently smiled, but never initiated any sort of conversation... More

2. Happy Anniversary by John 'Falstaff' Hartness
As we stood outside the courthouse in our newly wedded bliss (which also somewhat resembled the look of people who have just survived a tornado, as it happened much faster than we expected) we decided that since Suzy didn't have to be at work for another couple of hours, we'd go have lunch. So we scraped together a few bucks and trundled over to a nearby McDonald's... More

3. A Lock of Bonnie Parker's Hair by Johnny Hughes
They was real famous and in the newspapers and all robbing them banks, when banks were unpopular. I asked Bonnie for something to remember her by. We didn't have a pencil for an autograph. She pulled this little pair of scissors out of her purse and gave me this.. .a lock of her hair.... More

4. Whiskey Kisses by Betty After Dark
Held apart by distance and circumstance, brought together in soft voices, the pieces of who we are fill the room with every drink we pour. The gaps in our lives slowly closing as the light from the window crept into the room. There was something unavoidable that connected us, but the details were never as clear as they were this night.... More

5. What I Knew? by Dusty Rhodes
Just walk up and ask her you idiot... You've been friends for four years... she doesn't have a date and either do you... Quit being a pussy and ask her... Christ dude... what are you nervous about... More
I can never thank the writers enough for writing for free and exposing their guts, blood, and soul to the universe. Their art and dedication inspires me and I hope it inspires you too. Tell your friends about your favorite stories. The writers definitely appreciate your support.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

A Day in the Life: Two Tournaments, Lots of Shitty French Beer, and the Street Blowjob

By Pauly

When I went to bed on Thursday night (well actually it was around 5:30am on Friday morning), Nicky was still at work. Her assignment was running long. At that point it was closing in on 16 hours.

When I woke up, neither her or my flat mate Gloria were around. I assumed that the tournament they were covering ran super late and they went out for drinks and/or breakfast. I logged online and discovered that the tournament was still running. At that point it was reaching the 20 hour mark.

Gloria and Garry had early morning flight to head back to the States and missed both. Garry was on the verge of missing his rescheduled flight. That's when I offered up my services. Fresh troops. I was supposed to cover the EPT London at a casino across town around noon. I told my partner in crime Snoopy to cover for me and I headed down to Leicester Square.

I sort of felt a bit like Mo Rivera trotting out of the bullpen of Yankee Stadium. I even hummed Enter Sandman as I rushed down Charring Cross Road.

My buddy Owen likened me more to Flash Gordon than Mo. He might have been right. Maybe it was more like coming out of the bullpen to pitch the bottom of the 21st inning in a marathon of a baseball game. And then I get the win.

When I stepped inside the Empire Casino, everyone was dead tired. The audience. The poker players. The staff. The camera crew. And especially my fellow media reps. I bright eyed and busy tailed and ready to kick ass. I prepped for the long haul. Three hours? Five hours? Who knows with poker tournaments.

Garry left and about twenty minutes later, I invoked my cooler powers. Las Vegas pro John Juanda won a massive pot and minutes later he finished off his young Russian counterpart.

I walked Nicky back home to the flat. Rolled up a smoke for myself. Then headed back out. I hopped on the tube just at the same time I would have had I not rushed down to cover the other tournament. I arrived at work and spent 11 more hours or so at the Vic. We actually had an early night all things considered.

I only wanted one beer. My colleagues were hanging out at the bar by the exit. One turned into 8. Pinky and his wife stopped by and we had some very interesting chats about media, London, and episodes of The Office (UK version) that I never saw.

I had missed the last tube and I didn't want to ride the night bus because it would be filled with drunks and hooligans. I luckily found an available cab. I asked him to drop me off a block away from my apartment. There's a 24 hour Subway and a McD's open late. I craved fries and went inside McD's only to discover that 50+ drunks were waiting in line. I wandered over to the Subway which was empty. I ordered a six inch meatball sub for £3.50 or almost $7.

I ate it and crossed the street. There's a club in the ground floor of our apartment complex. I passed by and the music pumped out into the street as party people stood outside smoking cigarettes. Two old immigrant women attempt to sell everyone roses and other assorted flowers. One stopped me.

"£3 for one," she said.

I counter offered £1. She refused to budge. I walked away and she grabbed my arm.

"£2. I have five children to feed."

I repeated my counter offer. She refused to let me go. I took another bite of the meatball sub and ask her where she was from.

"Romania," she said.

"Ah, Romania.... Chauchescu?"

"Chauchescu is dead!" she screamed and then angrily spit on the ground.

I tried to walk away and she finally caved in. She handed me a rose and I gave her one quid.

I walked about forty feet when I saw two people. One guy leaned up against the wall while another figure pulled down the guy's pants. It was another guy and he began blowing him in few view of the smokers and the Romanian flower women. They were a few steps from the entrance to my flat. I had a few bites left in my meantball sandwich and finished it off as I stood in amazement as I watched one guy blow another guy.

Ah, just another glimpse into the streets of Soho at 3am on a Friday night.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Back to the Grind

By Pauly

My first couple of days in London were like Spring Training. It wasn't until Wednesday where the work really began. And for the first time in a very long time, I was in an elated mood buoyed by the news of the Phish Reunion.

I woke up early to write and then headed around the corner for some breakfast. I decided to try the breakfast sandwich at Subway for £1.50. Six inch egg and cheese. Except that I never got to eat it. I got the sandwich to go and stuffed it in the side pocket of my hoodie. When I was sprinted Charing Cross Road (in order to not get hit by a double decker bus), the sandwich must have fell out of my pocket. I returned to my flat empty handed. Dejected, I went back downstairs and grabbed a croissant and OJ from the local Sainsbury's.

I bought an Oyster Card the other day. It's similar to a MetroCard in NYC and you can use it on buses and the tube. The London tube charges you by the zone but with the Oyster Card, you get a discount per ride which makes it worth the while.

It felt kinda cool to take the subway to work at the Grosvenor Victoria Casino. It was only three tube stops on the Central Line followed up by a five minute walk through a very wealthy Muslim neighborhood. The signs on several of the stores are in Arabic and you see plenty of women walking around in burkas.

I had been listening to a ton of Radiohead since I landed in the UK. It's amazing music to listen to while wandering the bustling streets of London.

My co-worker for this particular assignment and partner in crime was Snoopy. He's a hysterical young Englishman and one of my favorite poker writers. He's witty and at the top of his game which forces me to elevate mine. Although I was a tad rusty, I rose to the challenge. I did a average job on the first day and expect to improve as the tournament progresses.

I was also in charge of helping training a very lovely young woman named Jay. We share a bit in common since we're both a Eruo-Asian mix. Part of her family is from the UK and the other half is from Singapore. She knew all the local players that I had no idea who they were so she was valuable to our team.

The media room was very small and there were tons of logistical problems. None of those affected me since I was in highly positive mood. Call it the Phish Reunion Glow coupled with the non-drowsy cold medication that I was taking. I wasn't sick per se... I just like the speed in it because it gives me a little pep in my step.

I had not covered a European Poker Tour event since the Scandinavian Open last February in Copenhagen, Denmark. Work is work, but there are several cool writers and photographers and staff from and other members of the European press that I get to see exclusively in Europe. Benjo was nearby along with Mad and Bartley and Howard.

We had a brief dinner break of 45 minutes on the EPT compared to the lengthy two hour meals that the WSOPE provided. Homer (a fellow poker scribe from Blonde Poker who resides in Leeds) and I headed around the corner to McDonald's. I don't usually eat fast food very often, particularly McD's but we were pressed for time.

As I wrote earlier, the neighborhood is Muslim and I had no idea that it was the end of Ramadan. When night fell we could hear something going on outside on the streets below. Lots of celebrating. Benjo thought it was a bunch of drunks celebrating a big win in a football match. But it was Neil who clued us in on the end of Ramadan. Everyone got to eat after a lengthy fast. Plus it's sort of like Christmas and everyone gives each other gifts. A lot of 20-something Muslim guys showed off their fancy sports cars and drove them up and down Edgeware Road as the honked and cruised and scream out at their friends sitting outside of various hookah bars that peppered the neighborhood.

When I left work around 12:30am, they festivities were in full swing. By that time of night, I missed the last tube and took a night bus back to my flat. I rode the double decker down Oxford Street which was almost empty.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


By Pauly

I'm giddy like a school girl. Three big things happened in the last 24 hours.

1. I got a new laptop.
2. I'm going to Budapest.
3. Phish will reunite.