Thursday, July 30, 2009

hollyweird > denver

By Pauly
Denver, CO

LAX. Tourists. Businessmen. Families going on vacation. Another airport during the morning rush. But this time, I put up with the hassles of LAX because I was going on a trip for pleasure and not work. A true holiday. I didn't even let the screaming kid in row 3 tilt me one bit, and I didn't have to resort to crying baby repellent (clinical name: Xanax) to get me through the 2 hour flight from SoCal to Colorado.

Colorado is the perfect way to counteract the insanity of Las Vegas. Ever since I started my venture into poker 5+ years ago, I always made a point to visit Colorado either before or after my two-month assignment for a long weekend of music and getting sloppy. That's the best way to describe it. The people I know in Colorado love to kick it... and they throw down hard. And Colorado is the crossroads for so many of my favorite bands and musicians. Someone of significance is always playing in Boulder, Denver, or at Red Rocks.

I started pre-partying the moment I returned to L.A. after Las Vegas. Benjo and his friends were in town for a few days and we drank in hip bars on Sunset Strip and in Hollywood. That's something I rarely do. I just don't drink in L.A. for some reason. But I welcomed the evenings out in order to get my bloodstream used to a steady barrage of liquor. The air is thinner in Colorado and the booze hits me twice as hard.

I had tweaked my back before we left Vegas and took small dosages of painkillers to get me through the day. I ran out of the soft-edged generic Vicodin and resorted to the heavier hitter... my old friend Mr. Oxycodone. Of course, at nights, I was pushing it a little hard and doubling up. It helped me sleep better but I was also prepping for a five-day bender in the Rockies and four nights of Phish at Red Rocks.

Our flight arrived earlier than scheduled. A welcomed gesture for sure considering we've both had some bad plane karma in previous months. I had a coupon for the Super Shuttle and that was a breeze, although there was an Amish woman in front of us. Or maybe she was one of those Mormons who look like they walked off the set of Little House on the Prairie.

The Joker was still at work, but we had the keys to his pad so Nicky and I made ourselves at home. We got the last bits of work done before we switched into full-on party mode. I popped a half of a pharmie and lost $79 playing online poker. I began the trip in the hole.

We met up for dinner at Mexican joint that had old Mexican comic strips plastered to the walls of the men's room. Our waiter was the biggest stoned out space cadet I had seen in years. The Joker's buddies Wildo and Wendy joined us. Wildo is an admitted degenerate gambler who reads the Tao of Poker. He's a poker freak and said that he favorite thing to do in the world is stand at a craps table for six plus hours getting free drinkings and throwing dice.

I drank Mojitos, Nicky knocked back Margaritas, and everyone else drank Tecates. I slowly soaked up the scene. Denver is another planet compared to L.A. and Las Vegas. Talk about three contrasting cities. Out of the three, Denver suited my vibe the most and I get the same feeling when I'm in Amsterdam.... relaxed and eager to chat with the friendly locals. Some of them are outright freaks (in the true sense of the word) while others are aliens hiding inside human bodies and roaming around the streets of Denver waiting for the mothership to take them back home.

And yes, they sure know how to party in the 303 area code. At one point, I realized that all of PKPNF's friends are raging cokeheads. But in a good way. LA Cokeheads are straight up douchebags and all the druggies in Vegas are black holes.

Like veteran Phisheads, we gathered up all of our goodies, party favors, and tickets before the run kicked off. The Joker finally had all of his tickets in hand after going through some tough times to get them including sniffing out two people trying to scam him. That's how hot these tickets to Phish at Red Rocks are... some of them are going for $200 and higher per ticket. Original price was $49.50. I paid a shitload for tickets forboth Nicky and myself.

The Joker has his shot together and even arranged transportation to/from the venue so none of us had to drive. Yes, we'll be on the party bus which means even more deviant hijinks.

On Wednesday night, we hit up a couple of the local Denver hippie bars for some musical enjoyment. Our first stop was at Owsley's which featured Green Sky Bluegrass. Nicky was a little skeptical of any band that has a banjo, but the Joker insisted that the scene was more entertaining than the actual music. There's some sort of monkey-theme with the fans and half the crowd (of a hundred or so) wore monkey hats with ears and tails. The rest of the crowd were out-of-towners who flew in to see Phish and looking to score party favors for the rest of their weekend.

The bluebgrass band was originally from Michigan, but found a tremendous amount of support in Colorado. Hippies dig bluegrass. We were able to toke outside of Owsley's. I used to be able to do that at the Wetlands in NYC before they shut it down. Too bad LA didn't have similar bars, otherwise we'd be there more frequently. Despite some technical problems to start the set, the gang at Green Sky Bluegrass met my limited expectations. Yonder, they are not, but we caught a few tunes including a cover of On the Road Again.

We head over to Quixotes to see The Heavy Pets. That venue did not have all of the monkeyfreaks. While the Heavy Pets were setting up, we headed next door to Cervantes for a few tunes from a group of musicians including two guys from Particle and one of the guys from Karl Denson's band.

We could have kept the party going all night but we decided to conserve our energy for the Phish shows. We didn't want to burn out before the shows even started and headed back to the house to wind down the night.

Nicky cooked us all breakfast burritos this morning while we plotted out our game plan for today. We weren't happy to see the rainy skies and hoping it all clears up before show time. Then again, I have no problems dancing in the cool Colorado rain.

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