Monday, May 25, 2009

hollyweird > las vegas

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

For a fifth straight summer, I packed up my bags and headed to the middle of the Nevada desert. Las Vegas. During the first summer sojourn, I stayed at the now infamous Redneck Riviera in the shadows of the Las Vegas Strip. Writing about those fringe experiences would eventually thrust the Tao of Poker into the cosmos. The Lost Vegas book contains several elongated and expanded scenes from the Redneck Riviera. I was happy to never go back.

The second year, I shacked up with Grubby in Henderson where we lived in a condo in a gated community nestled in the foothills of swanky Anthem Hills. My only complaint was the traffic getting to work. And one night, I almost fell asleep at the wheel because I had been up for 24+ hours covering a tournament.

The third year, Nicky and I drove through bat country and moved into a place we called Del Bocca Vista. It was in a gated community close to the Rio. At the height of the housing market, we sorta got a bad deal on the place only because I went through a corporate housing company and their commission was pretty steep. The entire process was easy though and we took the first apartment we saw. And the condo was less than five minutes from the Rio. However, the bed was built for hobbits and there was a human smuggling ring going on in one of the adjacent apartments.

Last summer, we lived in the posh Summerlin suburb and stayed at Scheckytown which included a pool and hot tub. We had roommates that included pro Kristy Gazes (who later moved out) and of course Schecky and Jen Leo. At the time, Jen Leo was several months pregnant which meant lots and lots of random food stuffs. I had never lived with a pregnant woman before (unless you count my mother when she was carrying my brother around in her womb, but that was in 1975 and details are fuzzy regarding 1995 let alone 1975). Anyway, Schecky had a Wii and Nicky went nuts in an attempt to perfect Guiatr Hero, while I settled in and played Tiger Woods golf.

This summer? Nicky's company put her up in a place modeled after New York City. Our one bed room apartment is almost as big as our two bedroom place in the slums of Beverly Hills. There's a 24-hour gym on the premises and I can see it right now as I write this on our balcony. Mean Gene lived in the same complex last summer and said that there were lots of strippers around. He wasn't joking. When we moved in Garry told us that all the strippers walk their little yapping dogs at 10:30am. It's 9:32am as we speak, and I've seen a couple of pole dancers letting their purse poodles shit on the front grass.

At this point, I try to travel as light as possible because I know that if there's anything I need, I can buy it in Las Vegas. Last summer, I took the usual items which come with me on the road with me in addition to my Swedish pillow, a printer and an indoor putting green. I barely used the putting green and used the printer only a handful of times. This year, the putting green stayed in LA and the printer made the cut along with my coveted Swedish pillow.

I had a very small load while Nicky packed several bags in addition to kitchen supplies. She intended to cook more this summer and packed a ton of spices and kitchenware and even the George Foreman grill.

And yes, her "shoe bag" is bigger than my largest bag. Such is life. It weighed 200 pounds. We needed to hired a Mexican-immigrant-day worker from Home Depot to carry the bag on his back like a Sherpa traversing the Himalayas.

We're Las Vegas veterans at this point and didn't stress too much about the summer move. Instead, we relied upon experience and lists. Yes, a well thought out list is the key to not forgetting anything in addition to organizing exactly what you need. We didn't start to really begin to pack until 12 or so hours before we intended to leave. We essentially packed everything before we went to bed and then woke up, loaded up the car, checked our lists and hit the road.

Last summer, I forgot a couple of things. In December, I forgot an entire garment bag of clothes. This time? I didn't forget anything.

Ah, of course, we stopped off at Nick's coffee shop before we left. My last meal in LA always has to be at Nick's and they played the Beatles on the radio. Sunday Breakfast with the Beatles.

Slight flashback... on Saturday afternoon I had a minor accident. In the dead time between the Yankees come from behind win over the Phillies (courtesy of a bottom of the ninth home run by A-Roid to tie the game) and before the Lakers-Nugs game started, I managed to discloate my pinky finger... by grazing an empty cardboard box. Talk about a freak accident. The sucker popped off the hinge. It looked like this photo from the last time I dislocated my pinky.

And yes, it hurts like hell.

Without any insurance, I had to perform a self-procedure. I couldn't get a good grip after a stressful five minutes. I asked Nicky for her help. She was very freaked out at the site of the mangled finger. I showed her the two bones and how one needed to be pulled back into place. She grabbed and pulled to no avail. She couldn't get a good grip so she gave up. I took a deep breath and snapped the finger back into place. Yes, it hurt like a son of a bitch, but once it was back in place, I was elated as a wave of euphoria came over me because I don't have health insurance. A trip to the ER was out of the question. I had no choice but to fix it myself, which I did. Fuck the system. The system is in place to keep you alive along enough to bankrupt you.

The last time my finger was dislocated in the US (circa 2002), I had to go to the ER which cost me over $3,000. I could only imagine the cost to be double today. And yes, the last time this happened to me in October of 2007 (see the pic I linked up above), I was in Sydney, Australia. My friend Nigel took me to the ER in his neighborhood. Although the nurse said they would charge me $100 AUD, they never bothered to send me the bill. Nigel was enraged that they would even dare charging me since health care is free in Australia. I told him how $100 (in Aussie bucks which was like $90 USD at the time) is such a bargain compared to what I'd have to pay in the US... even if I had insurance!

Anyway, since I knew my hand was gonna hurt all afternoon, Nicky said that it was acceptable for me to take a pain killer. I had a legitimate reason. I had been clean for over a month and it took me at least two weeks to kick all the physical symptoms of opiate withdrawal. I knew that my tolerance was lower so I made sure I packed what I could and did any major work before I took the half of a painkiller.

And yeah, I was faded most of the night and thankfully packed (with lists in hand) before the pharmies kicked in. My tolerance was much lower and I got shitfaced. When I woke up on Sunday morning in a pharmie phase, the finger was still black and blue. I can only write with nine fingers.

Nick's car was packed and we successfully left L.A. in record time. The freeways were empty for Sunday morning. Even with a gas up and a second piss stop, we still made excellent time... a shade over 4 hours. And luckily, our condo is South of the Strip which meant we were a few minutes closer.

Garry checked us into the new condo. Haley, one of my editors (along with Nicky's as well) lives in the apartment above us. Smoke rises which means she's gonna get a contact high at some point this summer.

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