Friday, May 15, 2009

Kids Are Different Today

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

I had a long talk with a friend of mine. He's veteran poker writer who has done a little bit of real journalism before he wandered into poker, I told him that we really should be lucky to do what we do. We're living the good life. We have lots of bad days and sometimes we have to deal with utter nimrods and plenty of scenesters in our profession. Plus I get sent all around the world and we frequently work in Las Vegas, aka America's playground which can also just beat you senseless. However, I'd say I would not want to do 95% of the other jobs out there... which means I'm working in a dream job. We're extremely lucky, and we could be smuggling cigarettes in the Balkans or working the oil fields of Alberta.

Which leads me to the third draft of Lost Vegas. I no longer loathe the editing sessions and they are slowly growing on me. Some days I can't believe how close I am to finishing this project. Over the last two weeks, I conducted a tedious line-by-line read through of every single word in the 149K manuscript. We're about 80% done. My goal is to be finished by Friday night. I'm gonna take the weekend off, print up a final copy, and then take the third draft to Malibu on Monday, dig my feet into the sand, and read it from start to finish.

I have been ruthless with the edits. I trimmed more fat in first half of the book. So far the second half of the book has been escaping the butcher knife. We had to cut one line about Guatemalan fruit and cum shots. I fought to keep it in, but in the end, I understood why it needed to be omitted. At least the 'douchebag' count was lower than we expected. I was told to curtail my usage of the word and I managed to find suitable replacements.

I really need to rest my eyes and my brain because I have been living, talking, seeing, breathing, thinking about Lost Vegas non-stop since I got back from the Bahamas in January. Heck, I'm even blogging about it right now. It can't escape me and I need a vacation from the book. I'm gonna take the summer off and work at the WSOP and go see a few Phish shows and then when all of that is over, I'll sit down and read it start to finish. I'm sure that I'll get a couple of ideas or two during the time off and I might even add or re-write a couple of the weaker chapters. (Not that there's weak chapters, but rather some are significantly stronger than others).

Six or seven weeks away from the project will give me much better perspective before I sign off on Lost Vegas. Then I'll finally have closure on so many things that I need to let go. Then I can focus on re-writing Jack Tripper Stole My Dog in 2010 and completing the Phish book in 2011. That is, if I can pull that off. Time is money and free time costs more money than you think. Obviously, I'm hoping to set aside 25% of the proceeds from Lost Vegas to fund the next book... essentially covering my rent and basic expenses for a couple of months while I work on the next project.

It's mind-boggling that I sliced away over 60,000 words since the first draft (actually the third of four versions of the first draft, that's a very long story but it's not important right now). I mean, NaNoWri novels are 50,000 words (Jack Tripper is like 55K) and I'm flushing the equivalent of that and then some down the crapper. Then again, there's a reason why I'm cutting those sections, usually because there are obvious passages that are speed bumps and slow down the pacing, which means it's long-winded rambling run-on sentences where my mind takes several twists and turns and never really settles on one coherent thought so it kinda annoys the reader sometimes, but then again, sometimes the words form into a nifty rhythmic pattern.

I woke up early on Thursday to write my column. These days, I have been writing about high stakes cash games at the online poker sites. For non-poker people, the size of some of these pots is absolutely astounding. It's not uncommon to see at least one pot per day that is more than I make in a year. The pots surge over $250,000. Sometimes they get as high as $350,000 and $400,000. Huge swings for some of these pros. Millions of dollars exchange hands back and forth every day between hot-shot young guns from America, Las Vegas sharks, and a group of Scandis and Fins. And yes, I get paid to write about that decadent depravity without even leaving my apartment. I wrote the column with the bong in one hand, Miles Davis' Sketches of Spain playing in the background, and yes, I wasn't wearing pants, just my boxer shorts while sitting in the living room with the windows open as the early morning Los Angeles pushed out all the stagnant hashish remnants from the night before. Yeah, I'm nothing more than a swill merchant and a whore for the online poker industry. But that racket pays my rent and allows me to tip the kind folks at the coffee shop at least 35-40% every morning.

After I finished my column, I walked over to the coffee shop. I forgot about the apartment building across the street where attractive woman lived. She walked a white shaggy shi tsu on a long red leash every morning, and walked the shi tsu again when she gets home from work. In the morning she's wearing sweat pants and flip flops. I've seen her in a robe and even wearing her pajamas and either holding a cup of coffee or talking on her cell phone. At night she wears all black and I think she's a waitress or works for a catering company because she comes home, walks the shi tsu while smoking a cigarette, then hops in her Jetta and goes back to work.

Anyway, that morning she was clad in gray sweat pants and a tie-dyed tank top. The shi tsu took a dump on the lawn of the building next door in front of a wooden FOR RENT sign. I snickered and continued my short walk to the coffee shop. A trio of under cover cops sat in the back booth, while the cooks whipped up a chorizo burrito for a couple of nurses sat in the front booth. I wondered if any of them actually worked in the numerous medicinal marijuana dispensaries in our neighborhood? Since we lived on the fringe of Beverly Hills, the dispensaries were in the perfect place to cater to high end clients. Rich potheads.

I passed a new "weed store" the other day during a 2.2 mile jog through the neighborhood. I told Nicky about it and she never knew it existed. It was literally the closest place to legally buy weed without actually being in Beverly Hills. The street it was located on the actual demarcation line. On the right side was Beverly Hills, on the left side was the office building with the dispensary.

I sat down at the counter and ordered a breakfast sandwich. I finished Panic by Michael Lewis and I did not have a new book to read. Instead, I read an old copy of L.A. Weekly, which is their version of the Village Voice or Seattle Weekly. When I lived in Seattle, I always wanted to write for them. It seemed like I was spamming them every other week with something. Rejected every time. I think they felt sorry for me and published one of my letters to the editor.

I thumbed through the music section of L.A. Weekly and scoffed at the bands that I'd miss during the summer when I worked in Las Vegas. A couple of bands I wanted to see where playing at the Hollywood Bowl or at the Wiltern Theatre in June. I also kinda laughed when I saw some of these nostalgia acts from the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and even the 1990s hitting the road. It's usually billed with two or three similar bands from that era. I think I saw the that tickets were on sale for the Doobie Brothers, who were opening for the Allman Brothers at the Greek Theatre. Man, that would have been an awesome show in 1971, when Duane Allman was still alive. And don't get me started at the flashback show at the Greek with Jefferson Starship, Canned Heat, Tom Constanten, Ten Years After, Big Brother & the Holding Company, and Country Joe McDonald.

In some random music trivia, Tom Constanten played with the Grateful Dead from 1968-70. He appeared on Aoxomoxoa and Anthem of the Sun. If Jerry, Janis, Jimi, and Morrison were all still alive, you think they'd be hamming it up and playing summer festivals? I mean, Leonard Cohen played Coachella for fuck's sake, so that probably answers my question.

On Thursday night, I went to the store to pick up dinner and on my walk back to the apartment, I saw the woman with the shi tsu. She must think I'm stalking her or something because I saw her twice today. Anyway, there's also a high school girl who lives in the same building. Every afternoon, she and two of her friends stand outside and smoke cigarettes. Only one of them is actually smoking the other two are sorta faking it while they smoke and text and talk on the phone. I wonder if any of them are on Twitter and making fun of me.

"OMG, creepy pedophile across the street leering at us."

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