Monday, February 02, 2009

long beach > jfk > long beach

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

I scheduled a quick trip to NYC. 48 hours. Business related. I didn't even pack any clothes, just what I wore on the plane. I had a stash of clothes and toiletries in NYC. No need to pack unnecessary thinks for a quick jaunt. I traveled super light and only took my laptop and iPod and the first 55K words of Project Z so I could edit during the down time.

Now, if I could always travel this light all of the time, my unpleasant travel experiences would decrease by about 15-20%. Luggage can really slow you down especially if it gets lost or you have to stand around for an hour to wait for your bag to get spit out on the belt and then again, it might have been pilfered through by sticky fingered and underpaid baggage handlers at your local airport.

We woke up at 4:30am on Saturday morning. I usually crash at that time. Nicky woke up too to drive me to the airport. We experienced zero traffic from Los Angeles to Long Beach. The local streets were empty and traffic on the freeway was light. In a perfect world, LA would be like that all the time. Too bad, the only pleasurable times to drive around are at 5am on a Saturday.

I arrived at the airport so early that security screeners had not yet arrived for their shift. I was sixth in line at the security checkpoint. We waited for about ten minutes before the workers showed up and got into position.

My 6:30am flight was on time and half full. I had an entire row to myself and buckled down in the middle seat. Normally that seat sucks, but when it's the catbird's seat when you're flying solo in an empty row. The aisle can be rough with large people bumping into you or getting banged into be flight attendants during drink service. The window seat is perfect for sightseeing but it can also be the coldest seat on the plane.

I slept for about ten minutes... during the middle of snack service. JetBlue was testing out a buy-tour-meal service with various snack/meal packages. None of them looked appealing and I skipped the pay food and opted for a free snack of Stella D'Oro biscuits.

I watched a Top Chef marathon and a couple of episodes of Man vs. Food. Yes, it was a food theme as I jetted from coast to coast. There was one crying baby in the front of the plane, but for the most part, it was an effortless flight. No complaints at all. And... my flight landed on time at JFK due to a helpful tailwind.

As soon as I landed, I discovered that the Phish ticket debacle spilled over into Saturday via a slew of text messages and voicemails. More than half the summer tour tickets went on sale on Friday via Live Nation and the rest were sold on Saturday. I got shut out of Great Woods... which I really wanted badly. Looks like Senor and I will have to go through a scalper.

And thanks to some friends, the summer tour is slowly coming together. I have tickets to 8 out of the 11 shows. I'm looking for St. Louis, Great Woods, and Jones Beach (the first night).

It was freezing upon my arrival in NYC. My cabbie drove me home fairly quickly. I spent Saturday night hanging out with my brother. We ordered pizza from the local joint. I devoured the sausage and shroom pizza as we watched the Knicks/Pacers game. I crashed somewhat early to wake up early on Sunday for a important meeting to handle some personal business. That took a good eight hours of grueling and gutwrenching drama. In short, I wanted to die and was enthralled when it was over. There's a massive storm on the horizon, but I'm doing my best to be prepared to survive that shit storm. When that BS was finally over, I had about an hour or so before the Super Bowl and returned to my brother's apartment.

Derek picked up a batch of Stella D'Oro's Swiss Fudge Cookies from the bodega. Those are one of my favorite batch of cookies... all time. You don't see those outside of the east coast very much. And of course, Derek lives within a block of the actually Stella D'Oro factory. Some days you can smell the cookies and breadsticks cooking up. I also drank a couple of cans of Dr. Brown's black cherry soda. I'm not much of a soda guy, but a can of that goodness every once in a while hits the spot.

I played a little online poker during the Super Bowl. I made several small bets including a few props and wagers on the overall outcome of the game. I took Arizona with the moneyline - as a long shot. I thought that Pittsburgh would win by a little (and hence why I bet a slew of you taking Arizona and the points) and figured that I was getting good value with a small moneyline bet.

The game was boring in the first half, just like last year. And the second half was pretty exciting, just like last year. And just like last year, I was on the winning side of the Super Bowl. I had zero emotion invested in either team but had a financial stake in Arizona keeping it close.

Bruce did a decent job with the halftime show. I figured he would play Born to Run but Promised Land was a nice surprise.

I barely paid attention to the commercials. It's sad that every year there's more and more increasingly hype surrounding the Super Bowl commercials. And everyone's buying into it... which insures that the people funding the commercials will get their product's advertisement seen at least once by everyone. What good is getting sneak peak of Super Bowl commercials a week before the Super Bowl? And with the advantages of YouTube and Hulu, you can watch the ads that you missed. Man, it's a great fuckin' scam if you ask me. Even if the sheep missed an ad on Sunday, they will head into the office on Monday morning and watch it instead of doing real work. The Man wins again. Not to mention all those folks who decided to watch the commercials again for a second or third time.

It's not Shakespeare. It's not even art. It's just an attempt to trick you into buying something that you don't already need.

I woke up early on Monday and headed to the post office to mail off a bunch of documents. I ran over to the bank and took out another batch of money. Stuffing my mattress seems more appealing these days.

I walked to the Greek diner and ordered breakfast. The old Jewish guys in the back were talking more smack about Joe Torre and his recent book semi-slamming A-Rod and some Yankees brass. Not one word about the Super Bowl. I took a short walk through the old neighborhood since it was a balmy 45 degrees in New York City... which was double the temperature for when I arrived on Saturday, but almost 40 degrees colder than the high temps in Southern California.

Instead of taking a private car to the airport and paying hefty amount, I decided to sacrifice 90 minutes of my time and opted for a cheaper way to JFK. I hopped on the subway to Gran Central Station followed by a $15 express bus to the airport. Total trip cost me $17.

On my way to the subway, I noticed that two cops blocked the stairway up to the elevated station. One of them stepped aside and a teenager sat on the steps. He looked dazed. My initial reaction was... "Wow, that kid is all fucked up and whacked out on some good drugs!" Then I saw the blood. Lots of it all over his hands. When I arrived at the platform, I overheard one lady tell another that she called the cops because she saw the kid tumble down an entire flight of stairs. He apparently ran after the subway, slipped, lost his balance, and bit it hard. He smacked his head and split it open. The cops were waiting for the paramedics to arrive.

The subway ride went fast... so fast that I was way ahead schedule. I walked around Grand Central Station. I drank some tea and ate a black and white cookie from Hot & Crusty. I caught an earlier express bus to the airport. We had little traffic exiting Manhattan. The bus was fast but it was dirty and dingy. One old lady almost refused to get one.

"This bus is terrible," she barked as she took her seat.

She had a point. The windows look like they haven't been cleaned in a year. The seats smelled funky but mine was fine and not sticky like some of the others. But heck, it only cost $15 to get to JFK. A cabbie could charge you three times as much.

Anyway, I arrived at the airport almost three hours before my scheduled flight. The new JetBlue terminal has free wifi and a couple of tables located next to power outlets. I played online poker for about an hour. I turned a $100 profit and quit.

I read a leftover copy of the NY Times. One article is drooling all over the Boss and called him the Rock Laureate. I almost peed my pants when I saw that.

I grabbed a fatty sandwich from the Boar's Head deli and wandered over to my gate. My flight was 80% full and I had a crying baby in the row behind mine. Yep. I'm a magnet for babies on airplanes. I popped a Xannie or what I fondly refer to as "Baby Repellent" and settled in for a cross country haul. I watched a marathon of No Reservations with Antony Bourdain. Otis had wrote on the subject earlier in the day. I felt it was fate
s way of telling me to watch the marathon.

I also watched Intervention. Man, I thought my friends had some issues, but those people are really fucked up. Anyway, I sort of fell in love with a wounded bird named Lana. She had me the moment that they flashed her daily intake of drugs... 5 Lortabs and 3 Xanax daily. And the Lortabs with 7.5s too. That's packs a punch. Even in the week after the car accident this summer, the most I ever took in a day were 4 or 5 and those were 5s or two-thirds the dosage of the chick on Intervention. I'll take two Xannies if I want to sleep. I dunno if I've ever taken three because if I did, I'd be out cold for 12 hours. I dunno how she can handle three Xannies on top of 37.5 mgs of heavy painkillers ever day... and slamming back a jug of red wine. So with that perspective in mind, you can imagine the dosage of pharmies pumping through the little vixen's blood stream. I couldn't do that. Perhaps I could rev it up for a big weekend bender, but there's no way I could handle that every single day like that chick. I guess that's why she needed an intervention.

My flight left 10 minutes late and landed 45 minutes early. Talk about a shocker. At least I didn't have to sit through another hour of a crying baby.

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