Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Denver > LA > Santa Clara

By Pauly
Santa Clara, CA

Denver was a blast. I'd love to live in Colorado for three or four months every year but I couldn't handle the winters. In the summers, Colorado is a magical place with lots of laid back folks. My kind of people. Now I understand why one of my favorite writers settled down there.

I joked with Nicky that if we moved to Denver/Boulder, then we'd become raging cokeheads. Sheeesh. I never saw so much blow outside of South America. On a positive note, Colorado has medicinal marijuana laws and in Denver it's legal to own up to an ounce of weed.

The Joker's friends are all hysterical and fun loving people which made the week away much more enjoyable. Everyone was just so happy to be seeing Phish (some were not loyal fans but casual observors, others were hardcore heads seeing the boys for the first time in 5-10 years) and living in the moment. In Las Vegas, there are plenty people living in the moment, but for some reason they're not as happy. That's the dark side of gambling for you. And besides, the entire point of Las Vegas is to extract every single dollar in your pocket. At Phish concerts, it's all about mingling with like minds and enjoying music. A true social experiment gone good... at least for now.

I was a little concerned with Colorado. The altitude and four night run (five-day bender) was going to be tough. I always go to Colorado after the WSOP and every time I go there I rage til dawn but I'm always so spent due to the exhausting nature of a seven-week assignment in Las Vegas. This summer, I skipped 20 days and went on Phish tour, so although I was a different kind of tired, my brain was not as mentally fatigued as it had been in the past. That really made for a perfect week in Colorado.

Years from now, I'm going to be looking at this trip as one of the best adventures I experienced in this decade. Most of the time, I'm content with tinges of elation and happiness with lots of minor mood swings, surliness, and overall grumpiness. But after Phish announced that they were coming back out of retirement, I have to say that the lowest of the lows are fewer and far between and that has been replaced with more time in the atmosphere. I have much more fun and I worry a lot less about work stuff that normally makes me pull what little hair I have out of my head. Going on Phish tour and hitting the road is something that I missed dearly and I got reacquainted with a former version of myself which I also missed being around.

Nicky and I crashed in the Joker' spare bedroom which is also his cat, Emilio Estevez, also uses as his lounge. There were plenty of times when Emilio tried to jump into bed with Nicky and myself. I'm slightly allergic to cats and loaded up on Claritin before I even arrived so I knew it would be in my system. That made the situation tolerable, but Emilio wouldn't give up. One night, he jumped down from a window sill above our bed and nearly landed on my head. I unleashed a howl and Emilio headed for cover. Most of the time, he hid underneath the bed. And yes, I think the cat is homosexual because it would follow me into the bathroom whenever I needed to take a piss. Emilio constantly stared at my wang.

We ate a couple of times at Pete's Kitchen, a famous local diner and Denver institution. They had an amazing breakfast burrito with two different kinds of chili sauce. The rest of my meals were lot food... or foodstuffs that I was able to secure from hippies in the parking lot of the Phish shows... burritos, grilled cheese, and various ganja/fungi chocolate concoctions.

I ran into some shitty weather on the first leg of Phish tour and had to endure three very wet concerts (Jones Beach and Deer Creek). That's the drawback to seeing outdoor concerts... the weather. Luckily, in Colorado for the concerts, the weather was amazing on Sunday. It was crisp on Saturday. It rained on Friday night and it was chilly and windy on Thursday.

We were up early on Monday for our flight out of town. We're experienced travelers at this point and knew better than to book an early morning flight after a four-day non-stop party (For four Phish shows, but throw in Thursday night and we had quite the five-day bender). Even in mid-afternoon, the airport was teaming with Phisheads and other hippie types.

Nicky ran into an overzealous TSA worker at Denver airport when she forgot to remove her laptop from her carry-on bag. The guy was already having a bad day and he pulled her out of the line and went through her entire bag. He ended up confiscating some lotion. I felt bad for Nicky, but when it comes to clear cut rules, the TSA does not fuck around, that's why I do everything in my power to avoid any confrontations with them on their turf. I keep my mouth shut, move through the line as swiftly as possible, and keep everything neatly packed in my bags just in case they do end up pulling me out for a search. And when they do pull me out of line (because I travel so much, it's inevitable), I start off polite and amicable and then keep my mouth shut. I don't want to give them any reason to bust my balls even more so.

The flight to LAX was kinda quick but bumpy for a bit over the Rockies. I was not thrilled to leave Colorado, but I was happy to get back to LA so I could pack for two trips... the first one is a week long venture to Northern California and the Pacific Northwest. Then we drive back to LA before I fly to the East Coast for two weeks where I'll catch the last three Phish shows for their summer tour and I'll get to go to the Yankees game for the first time in the new Stadium.

We scrambled to run errands on Tuesday before we left SoCal and headed north. We left LA around 8ish and got up to Santa CLara aroudn 1:30am. Nicky drove the first hour and I drive the rest of the way including a desolate Route 152 from I-5 to the 101. Lots of stars.

There was a snafu with our room and I'm glad that I called ahead. Someone fucked up and I had very little time to deal with the situation and luckily got a room at the last second in Santa Clara. When I walked into the lobby, there was a young kid behind the reception desk playing online poker. He told me it was for play money because real money games would get him fired. We chatted a bit about the local casinos in NoCal and he upgraded our room!

Nicky crashed right away and I stayed up to write a bit before I passed out and woke up early to finish off a few pieces. In a few hours, we're heading to Shoreline to see Phish play their first and only California concert this tour. Of course, Halloween is in Indio, and we can't wait.

Don't f orget that you can follow my hijinks via Twitter... @taopauly. I'm also updating the @CoventryMusic feed regularly. If you don't follow @CoventryMusic, then what are you waiting for?

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