Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Everything Almost In the Right Place

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Any day that you get paid, it's a good day.

I'm very fortunate to have a job. Every few months I come to realizations or moments of clarity. This week, I'm pretty darn appreciative of what I have. The industry where I work is infested with problems and corruption, but what media institution isn't tainted? The media has always been manipulated as a piece of propaganda from the power brokers, whether its the government or corporations or both.

I've accepted the fact that I facilitate the ill will of others. Some times I rebel against that hypocrisy while other times I launch coups from the inside. Most of the time, I'm willing to stay neutral, like Switzerland, out of self-preservation. Other times, I'm in on the graft. I wipe my conscience clean with paychecks. I have a staggering drug habit, artistic vision, and a newly-retired mother to support. They got me by the balls.

I'm very fortunate to have a job considering the fact that my industry has been trimming the fat more and more. I'm surviving the lean times and expecting the future to be even worse. I'm confident that I have the necessary skills to weather the storm mainly because I've been diligently honing my craft the last few weeks. I firmly believe that no matter what happens with the explosion of micro-blogging (e.g. Twitter) and the demolition of the newspaper and publishing industries... that good scribes will always be in demand. Those positions will be few and far between, that's why I need to improve quickly in order to keep my abilities relevant.

The editing process exposed all of my weaknesses. In poker, you have to plug your leaks or you'll lose your shirt over the long term. I'm trying to apply the same thing to writing. Despite the liabilities, I'm still getting paid, which some days still amazes me. Of course, I don't always get paid on time, one of the many nuisances about working for yourself, and you really have to be on top of things otherwise you will be taken advantage of by heartless scumbags. I still have one client who stiffed me for a few grand of work that I'll never see. Like I said, I'm glad to see checks and I'm even more ecstatic when the checks clear.

One habitually tardy client made me sweat, but the wire transfer finally went through. Overseas financial transactions always make me edgy. You never know if someone or something fucks up. Good blessings come in bunches. I also received a check for two months of magazine work and another client sent me a month of wages in the form of two checks.

I guess you can say that I'm flush right now, especially since I'm in the middle of a minor winning streak playing online poker and wagering on fantasy football over at Fantasy Sports Live. Since the NFL season began, I finished in second place twice (losing to JoeSpeaker by 0.1 two weekends ago) and won my contest this weekend. I wonder how long that can last? Sports is such a fickle thing and poker? And good cards are hard to come by on a daily basis.

There's a few unexpected expenses that came my way such as a new laptop and dreaded quarterly taxes. I just cut a check to Uncle Sam. I hope he spends it wisely. Since I took off more than six months to work on a personal project and declined a ton of work, my writer's income was cut in half in 2009. Luckily, I'm not carrying any debt and my expenses are fairly low so I was able to risk skipping a few paid gigs in order to finish up this book that has been a 100 pound weight dangling around my neck.

Some day, it will be all over and then I can start all over again with another book.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I signed up for Twitter in 2008 knowing that the concept was on the cusp of something big now that the technology would become obsolete in a less than a decade. I was interested and intrigued, but knew that Twitter could be helpful for what I did for a living.

I'm about to unleash my 5,000th tweet. Thanks for listening if you've been tuning in. 5,000. That's a lot of pollution that I contributed to over the last two years and in places as far away as Hungary and Argentina. During the summer, I used Twitter to update the progress of the World Series of Poker and update my friends with set lists from different Phish concerts. In those instances, Twitter is an amazing tool to quickly release short bits of information to a large group of people.

I'm still on the fence about Twitter. I find it helpful for shameless self-promotion and getting quick feedback about certain matters. I'm a fan of the one-way dialogue something that my friends on Facebook who say they prefer Twitter to Facebook.

I like the ability to stalk my friends, especially ones with amazing senses of humor. Every once in a while, I read a tweet and I laugh out loud. Some friends have eclectic tastes in music and even more diverse interest in food. And mostly every single one of my friends? They hate their jobs.

My biggest complaint about Twitter? Information overload. Sometimes it's too much of a chore to sift through the static. Sometimes I miss gems because of that. Applications like TweetDeck temporarily solved that problem, but now it's starting to become an issue again.

Second biggest complaint? Twitter is a huge suckage of my time at a point where I'm trying to reduce my distractions and addiction to the internet. The last two Saturdays I tried to stay off of Twitter completely except to plug some things that I wrote. I'm starting to think -- less is more.

Third biggest complaint? Too many people I follow are constantly complaining about stuff - even about Twitter. Gasp. Yeah, sometimes I want to fine my friends or throw them a yellow flag for "improper usage of social media devices."

Basically, I spend too much time reading about people complain about things --- and I cannot stop. That sums up what I did with my spare time over the last two years.

But wait, there has to be some benefits about Twitter? Dead people. I found out the majority of celebrity deaths via Twitter. That happened on Friday when Bob Stupak died. It happened last week to Patrick Swayze. I also found out about the deaths of Jim Carroll, Michael Jackson, Les Paul, John Hughes, Ted Kennedy, Steve McNair, Walter Cronkite, Farrah Fawcett, and Ed McMahon.

So there is a positive attribute to Twitter.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Happy Birthday, Al

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

This video is NSFW. I'm shocked it slipped past the censor in our Nanny State.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Misha Glenny and the Global Criminal Underworld

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

One of the most influential books that I read this year? McMafia by Misha Glenny.

Haas, a filmmaker and colleague of mine from Scotland recommended the book to me while we were riding out a delay at a tiny airport in Mar del Plata, Argentina. Within an hour of returning to LA, I bought the book. Within days of its arrival, I finished it off. Friedman was the first (of many) to ask to borrow the book and I handed it over.

The author of McMafia, Misha Glenny, was a speaker at TED this year. Here's his lecture on the global shadow exonomy...

Saturday, September 26, 2009


By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I try to read a book every day. I usually knock off a book every four or five days. Sometimes faster. The new Pynchon book is a little tougher to blaze through. That might take me a couple of weeks of reading 20-30 pages a day because his words are so rich. Too much is overload.

Most recently, I delved into my limited collection of books in L.A. and re-read several favorites of mine. A few were on Nicky's shelves...
Last 5 Books I Re-Read...
1. Just a Geek by Wil Wheaton
2. The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King by Michael Craig
3. Positively Fifth Street by Jim McManus
4. On Writing by Stephen King
5. Dumbocracy by Marty Beckerman
All amazing reads the second time through, especially Beckerman's book.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Red Line

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I love writing, yet loathe writing for others.

Even the clients that I like, I have a difficult time motivating myself to dig deep. The moment I open up a blank Word doc and scribble down my byline, it doesn't matter who is buying the piece or what the topic is for that matter. Any keystrokes that ensues is work. A job. And by definition, all jobs suck. It doesn't matter if I'm writing a bullshit report about a couple of social misfits and degenerate gamblers who played a pot worth over a half of a million dollars or if I'm hunched over a computer monitor and trying to cajole a know-it-all dentist from Tenafly, NJ to pick up 1,000 shares of some bullshit pharmaceutical stock (think 'Farrow Tech' from Boiler Room) that the overlords ordered me to dump onto my prospective clients, who were stupid enough to buy. Work is work.

I used to write solely for myself. Locked up in a dark room illuminated by a single candle. Loud music. Thick smoke. Without a net.

Most of the time, that's my goal, to write for myself. After a while, when I discovered a rapidly growing audience following my the words (with monetary ramifications around every corner) so I made an adjustment and wrote with the audience in mind. Over the long haul, that is a bad thing because you begin to pander to the lowest common denominator (e.g. the demise of network television or some newspapers). However, short term, it's an easy buck.

I vacillated back and forth between writing for myself and writing for an audience. There were mixed results and tons of inner conflict. Sometimes the words shined bright, sometimes they fizzled into the dark of night. That's the way it goes. But at least I was conscious of the two diverging paths and knew short cuts back and forth so I could jump on and off at different moments.

I no longer do that. I returned to the "writing for myself" mode because the bigger picture is more important to me than the short term consequences. That was a fancy way of saying, "I don't give a shit about money now. It's all about the art, man."

Which is not entirely true. But if I can get away with writing for me and still get paid for it, then I pulled off a successful coup. The guys with the guns usually have the power.

In the last month, I found my words at the mercy of two copy editors, which is a good thing. There are times that I have been catering the words towards their tastes instead of writing from the gut.

My recent goal has been -- not to get red-lined.

Long term, that will make me a stronger writer which is my ultimate goal. Short term? Sometimes I feel as though my pieces are too polished and lack a certain zest.

Balance. That's the most important word in all of life. Balance. It's essential in art. You need all the necessary components working in harmony in order to create a piece that impacts people. Sgt. Peppers. The Mona Lisa. The Road.

The editor in charge of Lost Vegas reminds of a German butcher.

Whack! Whack! Whack!

He's merciless and fierce, yet precise. Instead of tawdry piece of shit, were gonna have a sleeker volume of stories about Las Vegas. That's a good thing. No... it's an amazing thing and a sensational miracle. However, it's utterly brutal to see years of work flushed down the toilet like a foul turd.

The other copy editor is a respected journalism professor. When I hand in my work, it feels like being a Top Chef contestant and he's one of the celebrity judges about to critique my food. Since I already know that his expectations are much higher than the average copy editor, I know that I have to elevate my level of writing..

I used to be so spoiled and could get away with turning in a first draft. Not any more. I spend a significant time re-writing and re-writing. It used to be my least favorite thing about writing, but at this juncture, it's essential. The only good thing is that I'm so used to re-writing right now, so it's not as much as a chore as it used to be.

It's a daunting and near impossible task to write a flawless piece, but I like a challenge. In one way, these assignments are taking my mind off the fact that it's work. I'm welcoming the opportunity to have my pieces properly inspected by a professionals something that the poker industry rarely boasts.

Many of my clients allowed me to get lazy and I took advantage of their desperation. Easy money. I could turn in anything and some places would publish the pieces without even reading them. That massages the ego, but it makes me cringe when I see basic copy editing errors. In the end, we both look bad.

Sometimes, it feels good to write without worrying about the red line. But sometimes, it's good to know it's there.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Open Air Modern

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

A friend of mine opened up a used book store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. This one has a twist. Check out... Open Air Modern.
We've moved into a brick and mortar retail shop, still in the neighborhood at 606 Manhattan Ave.

Though we had loads of fun working outside on Metropolitan Avenue, we love our new spot. We've traded truck traffic in favor of trees, as we are at the head of McCarren Park now.

Our product selection has increased now that we have more space and permanent displays. It is still an accessible place to pick up a very good reading copy of classic and contemporary fiction. Also we have beefed up our art, photography, design, architecture, fashion and unusual non-fiction stock.

The furniture we sell, mid century modern is still priced very affordable and the selection is always changing.

The best news though is now it is much easier to shop with us. Our new shop has regular hours and we are still available to show furniture pieces by appointment.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Answering Machine

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

After the Yankees game ended, Nicky flipped the channel. Swingers was on. It was the scene when they walk into the Dresden and Mikey gets the chick's phone number. He goes home and tries to leave a message. The answering machine scene is one of the most difficult cinematic scenes to watch.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Alley Sounds Reprise

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

A cricket sings, but only at night.

At the Midnight hour, the alley sounds are a bit different than their day counterparts. The lack of warm sun changes the environment. There's the crazy Asian lady who constantly screams at her husband in her native tongue. I have no idea what she's saying but her husband must be one helluva fuck up that she's always calling him out on things. Either that, or he's deaf.

The guys upstairs stand in the alley, talk about football, and smoke cigarettes. The apartment building is a no-smoking structure. I should say -- no cigarette smoking -- because there's plenty of herbal toking going on. Sometimes they smoke twice an hour. Most of the time, it's about once an hour.

The out-of-work actress/waitress from across the alley sings at odd hours. Her vocals are better than your average karaoke lounge star but not quite American Idol material. In the mornings, she's singing pop in the shower. In the afternoons, she's practicing her scales. At nights? I assume she's just drunk and happy, one or the other, or both.

I haven't heard the moans and groans from the couple having sex in the pool house behind us. The lady unleashed shrill sounds -- sort of like a goat being shredded to death by a lawnmower -- which echoed across the alley and into almost every room in our apartment. She hasn't been riding the pipe recently.

And sometimes, just before dawn, you hear the can homeless people digging in the dumpster looking for something. Anything. There's more and more of that going around. I have been consuming an alarming rate of canned seltzer water. The result? At least a six pack of aluminum per day. We usually dump out our stuff to the recycle bin once a week, and on that day, the first bum who stumbles upon our dumpster hits the jackpot. And if the dumpster diver catches us on a Monday morning, he'll even luck into an even bigger score when you add in all the empty beer cans that the guys upstairs drink while they watch football on Sunday.

Monday, September 21, 2009


By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

This is the week where I make a stand with Lost Vegas. I finally have the proper editorial direction, and if I can re-write to the best of my ability, the book shall be saved. If not, then I'm fucked. At least it's on me. It feels good to be in control of your own destiny.

While I'm working against the clock, here's your chance to read some other things that I write on the web...
Farewell to the Shrink (Tao of Poker)
You Play to Win the Game (Poker News)
Worlds Collide: Poker and Twitter (Poker News)
Kentucky Waffle House (Truckin' - May 2006)
The last piece made me laugh out loud when I re-read it this weekend. It makes me miss Daddy and his old blog... Snailtrax.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Thirty Years Later

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA


I remember it as an innocent time, yet it marked the point when the tumultuous 1970s ended and the decadent 1980s were ushered in. 1979 was the pre-cable TV and pre-video game era. (I would get an Atari a few months later for Christmas). We had five or six TV channels on a TV set that was wooden and the size of two washer machines.

My parents listened to a lot of radio; my dad was a news junkie and played 1010 WINS in the mornings. Their tag line was "Give us twenty-two minutes, and we'll give you the world." That's how I learned about current events like the Russians invading Afghanistan and the Iranian hostages. Little did I know that those sound bytes from foreign correspondents (with impeccable British accents) would help shape my path as a writer. And my mother used to listen to CBS radio which aired popular music from the 1960s, which we referred to as "oldies" music even in 1979. That was were I got my musical primer with Motown legends, Simon & Garfunkel, the Beatles, and Bob Dylan. It wasn't until I sat down to write this post when I realized that exposure to the radio heavily influenced my life in a very positive manner.

We had a rotary phone cemented into the wall of the kitchen. A long chord, that was always tangled up, was able to reach into three different rooms of our apartment. I have memories of trying to jump over the outstretch phone chord as my mom chain-smoked and chatted on the phone in the living room. I had no concept of an "area code" and our phone number began with two letters followed by five numbers.

Things seemed so... simple. But of course, life is never that simple, even when you're feeling a bit nostalgic and re-living life through rose colored glasses.

The late 1970s was a dismal time for the city of New York. The city itself was bankrupt. The subways only cost fifty cents, but they were dilapidated, covered in heinous graffiti, and rife with crime. Parts of Harlem, the south Bronx, and Brooklyn resembled Germany in 1945 after we bombed the hell out of it. Cops were corrupt. Politicians were more corrupt. The mob kept order in the city. You were more afraid of pissing off the wiseguys than getting in trouble with the police. Times Square was a cesspool of filth; junkies, whores, queers, hustlers. Well, that I kind of miss. After Rudy G took control of the city in the 1990s, he cleaned it up and now it's the center of corporate shilling for the industrial-entertainment-media-complex.

This photo was taken thirty years ago during my birthday party at McDonalds. If you can't tell, I'm the kid in the front with the striped shirt.

One of my parent's first huge fights occurred a few hours before the above photo was taken. They followed each other through the apartment screaming at the top of their lungs. My parents weren't even speaking to each other when my party started at McDonalds. That was probably the beginning of the end for them and I'm surprised that their marriage lasted as long as it did.

Everyone from my class attended, even the kid from the Dominican Republic who didn't speak English got an invite. Things seem so simple when you're in the second grade. I wanted to be a stunt man and crash cars and jump off of buildings for movies and TV shows. I never imagined that thirty years later I would actually live in the shadows of the hills of Hollywood with a beautiful woman and earn my living in the entertainment industry. Yes, I know, I'm the lowest rung on the entertainment ladder as a poker writer, but I can pay my bills doing something I enjoy so I'm very happy about that prospect.

I wish I could go back in time and tell the younger version of myself that someday I'll get paid a shit load of money to write stories about adults playing video games. I'd also tell myself to watch less TV, read more books, and don't stress out about women.

Back to the above photo...

The kid on the left was one of six kids in an Irish family and his dad was a cop. No shocker, there. It was weird that my dad was one of the only Irish dads in my grammar school who was not a cop or fireman. The kids teased me that my dad didn't get to carry a gun to work because he was a suit at an big-time insurance company in midtown Manhattan. Little did they know that suits in insurance companies would be responsible for some of the most heinous crimes against humanity.

Both kids on the right are Italian. One kid's dad had a store in the neighborhood that laundered money for the mob. The other kid's dad was a fireman who worked nights so he was always sleeping during the days.

Guess which kid spent a stint in prison in his early 20s?

Guess which kid had a serious bout with cancer? I wonder if he's still alive to this day.

I stopped talking to the kids in the picture after I graduated from Catholic grammar school in the Bronx and went to high school in Manhattan during the end of the 1980s. Talk about the collision of two eras. No wonder us kids from Generation X were so.... jaded.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Patrick Swayze, a Pug, and White Gold

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

In May 2008, Iggy and GMoney visited NYC and we hung out at one bar where we encountered a very drunk guy who thought Iggy was Patrick Swayze's brother. The drunk guy pitched us a movie concept involving a pug and the Swayze.

RIP Patrick Swazye.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Four Laptops and a Funeral

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

The left shift key on my laptop keyboard doesn't work about 10% of the time. Annoying. I got this laptop two summers ago after my previous one crapped out the day after the 2007 WSOP ended.

Last year at this time, my screen died in London the day before a work assignment. I had to buy a Lymie laptop with a slightly different keyboard. Luckily, my client paid for 50% of the computer (which cost around $1,000 USD). They had AOL software installed on the laptop so when I'd check one of my many email accounts, a very polite female with a British accent would say, "You got mail." It was kinda trippy but I liked it.

When I returned to New York City after the London assignment, I discovered that my broken laptop was still under warranty. I shipped it off to Dell and it was fixed in less than 4 days. All of a sudden, I had four laptops in New York City. The first was my baby, an iBook, that I got just after 9/11. I wrote two screenplays and five novels on that precious piece of equipment. I was afraid to take that to Las Vegas with me when I got my first job in the poker industry in 2005, so I used my expanding poker bankroll to buy a cheap Dell for under $800. That was the first real material item that I bought through my poker winnings.

I had no idea that I'd be sticking in the poker world and having to travel constantly. While the iBook stayed in New York City (the Fort Knox of my precious life - short stories, manuscripts, screenplays, vloumes of porn, endless Grateful Dead and Phish bootlegs), the Dell was flown all over the world. In the process, it got beat to shit.

At one point in the summer of 2006, Otis made fun of my laptop. It was only 15 months old at that point, but it looked like it went through a decade of hell. There must have been a 1/8 of an ounce of marijuana shake in between the keys and the mouse pad was worn out. Although I could afford a new laptop, I stuck with the Dell because I knew how much travel I had to do with work and I didn't care if it got lost or stolen. After all, whenever I returned to NYC, I always pulled anything important off the Dell and stored it onto my iBook or a newly purchased external hard drive.

In case of emergency, like if I die in a plane crash, my brother has explicit instructions to retrieve the hard drive since he inherits all of my intellectual property. There's an un-read un-published novel in there... Bar Hopping with Buddha... that I wrote out of sheer cockiness in 2003. I wanted to prove that I could write two NaNoWriMo novels that month. And I did. The first one, The Blind Kangaroo, nearly wrote itself in the first two weeks of November. I struggled with the second book. It was shit, and one of the worst things I ever wrote, but there were some passages in there that I was howling when I wrote. I don't think I have read any of it in six years.

Sorry for the tangent... so in the summer of 2007, the WSOP ended and my Dell died the next day. I got sick to my stomach and wanted to die. Nicky said that I was having a panic attack. I had never had one before, and now I know why some friends of mine cannot leave the house on some days, after it felt like my lungs were being ripped out of my chest. I really wanted to die because I had not backed up everything that I worked on during that summer. Luckily, I was able to retrieve 80% of everything and although the ethernet connection won't work, the laptop is still functional (and sitting somewhere in my brother's apartment).

I bought another Dell, a slimmer model that would perfectly fit on the food tray on airplanes. It was also half the weight of my old laptop. When you travel as much as I do, anytime you can reduce the overall weight of your load... it helps.

The Dell 2.0 ran awesome for one year before the screen mysteriously died in London. Once I got it fixed, I found myself with four laptops: iBook, Dell 1.0, Dell 2.0, and the British laptop. I only have 2.0 with me and the other three are in NYC. During my last visit there, I enjoyed running two laptops at once; the 2.0 and the British one. I had Twitter, email, and music running on one, while I could focus on writing on the other.

So now that this laptop is reaching the twilight of it's life, I have been eying a new (and smaller) one to take with me on the road while I slowly phase out this one. It's a necessary business expense, since my entire life is attached to this machine. Plus, it would be nice to have two laptops running once in a while.

My cellphone is another story. It died on summer Phish tour in a cornfield in Indiana after a downpour. I thought it was toast, but luckily, it sprang back to life when I reached Wisconsin. Although it functioned, some of the things were off... like the keypad. The entire bottom line s screwy. Ns, Ms, and the space bar stick. I either get nothing or three version of what I pressed. "That's really annnoying mmme."

I get a free phone upgrade in six months, but I dunno if I can wait that long. I'm eying an iPhone, but waiting for them to get off the AT&T platform before I make the leap. For now, the phone I got is on its last licks.

I have been eating a lot of grits for breakfast. I figured that it was a healthier substitute for greasy hash browns. If I slather butter all over them, well, that defeats the healthy part. At least it's a change of pace.

There's a new medicinal marijuana dispensary a couple of spaces down from the coffeeshop. It's literally one and a half blocks from my apartment and is now the closest place that people with "pot cards" can buy Northern California's finest. Nicky said she didn't like the looks of it. "Sketchy" was how she described the set up. There's like five or six within walking distance.

Wow. L.A. is almost like Amsterdam, just add more Mexicans and subtract the canals, bicycles, and window hookers.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Turning the Corner

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

My body was shrouded in pain. Stomach aches. Non-stop sweating. Fever. non-stop sneezing. Seeing spots. I lost nine pounds.

I was ill for about ten days and I'm happy to report that I finally turned the corner. I suffered from flu-like symptoms which originated from serious opiate withdrawal. As you know, I kicked pharmies this Spring, only to get back on the train this summer. Once Phish tour ended, I cleaned up my act and needed a clear head to finish the final edits of Lost Vegas. But about ten days to two weeks after I stopped taking them... I was attacked by those demonic withdrawal symptoms, which happens when you try to quit cold turkey like me.

Kicking opiates coincided with one of the worst batches of work-induced insomnia that I had in a very long time. I was flooded with deadlines and assignments. I pushed myself and attempted to blaze through the work. Every day, I raced against the clock to meet weekly deadlines, looming deadlines for the book, and maintaining my websites. Ah not to mention, the start of the NFL season which is a welcomed distraction but a definite time killer.

I got caught up in that vicious cycle which I could not break out. I was stressed out because of work and not sleeping and my body was run down. The only way to get better is sleep... but I was too busy with work and since I can't due to insomnia, my health was not improving. I spent lots of time lying in bed wanting to fall asleep which never happened, what added to the frustration. With Nicky keeping odd hours, I found myself unable to keep myself sane during these dire bouts of sleeplessness.

A friend of mine is a nurse and Disco Sis #1 told me to knock myself out which will guarantee that I sleep for at least 8 hours. Even 6 hours would be sufficient, which is about twice as much as I normally get and about the total number of hours of sleep that I logged in the previous four days. She recommended a few things, but I can't stand Ambien. It makes me sleep walk and the last time I took one there were horrible results.

A couple of years ago, I was in Australia for work with Nicky. We were smoke-free a the time and i had a tough time with jet lag (something that I normally avoid). I popped an Ambien and a few hours later, I woke up to take a leak and went into the bathrooom. I did not recall any of this because I was sleep walking. Nicky and I were staying at a swanky hotel in Melbourne that featured Italian marble floors in the bathroom. I thought that I was peeing in the toilet, but instead, I was peeing about six inches to the right of the toilet. Yeah, I had Ambien-induced aim and I pissed all over the floor.

A few hours later, Nicky woke up and shuffled off to the bathroom. She was horrified to discover that she was standing in puddle of my cold urine. Yeah, she was wicked pissed. I got tons of shit on the rest of that trip from work colleagues and Australian poker pros. Yeah, I was the butt end of lots of urine jokes, but at least I did not step in it!

After that incident, Ambien made the list of Pauly's Banned Substances. There's not too many items on that list, so that's a big deal. The heavy hitters -- heroin, cocaine, crack, and meth -- are on the list. I do have some boundaries. I would never do any of those drugs (maybe the occasional bump if the opportunity presented itself), but I am partial to pharmaceutical derivatives of said drugs such as Adderall and Oxycontin. Yes, after the pissing incident in Australia, Ambien made it to the top of the list of Taboo Drugs.

Without Ambien how do I fall asleep? Medicinal Hashish + Xannax. Nicky usually takes a half, but I begged for two pills. The compromise? On Tuesday night, I took one and a half and slept for six straight hours, got up to piss (and nailed my shot without any spills or dribbles), then went back to sleep for two more hours. i had eight hours in all with six straight.

Last night, I took a half of a Xannax and slept for five straight hours, which is a godsend. I got six straight and five straight uninterrupted hours of slumber on consecutive nights (and about 14 total hours). I honestly can't recall the last time that happened.

So today, I'm feeling a little sluggish (like I smoked four joints) but the cold/flu symptoms are almost gone. Nothing is worse than trying to write with a runny nose. Gravity always wins. And since I have a little Xannax in my system (an anti-anxiety drug), I'm not feeling freaked out about a deadline for tomorrow and all the catch-up work that my editor for Lost Vegas assigned me. I think I'm almost back on track thanks to a little rest and free medical advice.

Yeah, it's good having friends who are nurses. Plus they swipe me awesome pharmies.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Bottom Drawer

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

When I used to work on Wall Street, I hid a shoe box in the bottom drawer of my desk. the box contained an extra pair of shoes, mainly for the winter months since the excess sprinkled salt on the sidewalks and subway platforms trashed my shoes. Hard to say what sort of other horrible things that could happen, but just in case something out of the ordinary took place, I was prepared with a back up pair of shoes.

I stored drugs in the shoe box. Not illegal ones either. You might find this hard to believe, but I was clean during my first stint on Wall Street and smoke free for several months. That was the only time since my late teens when I was not a daily pot smoker. I definitely drank myself silly which might have caused the stomach pains.

The origins of the pains? Immense stress that I was under every single day trying to survive my rookie year on Wall Street and maintain my quota. Sick days were out of the question. I worked 18 hour days for six days a week and on Sundays, I worked from home.

In order to gut out the pain, I acquired a collection of pharmaceuticals and other products ranging from stomach remedies such as Mylanta, Pepto Bismol, and Rolaids to over the counter medications, especially non-drowsy cold medicine. This was still int he mid-1990s and the meth epidemic did not take root in rural America, so the cold medicines contained ephedrine which is an active component in speed. That extra pep, a swig of Pepto, and a cup of black coffee kept me on the phones, otherwise, I'd be wretching in pain in the bathrooms.

After a while, I started making pocket change selling aspirin, most Aleve, to other brokers who needed a quick pinch. Initially I refused their money, but after a while, I left out a tip jar. I would get a buck for two or three aspirin. By the closing bell, the bottle paid for itself and I had enough money left over to buy a slice of pizza for dinner and a quick beer at the Kilarney Rose at 6pm, before I went back to the office to make sales calls until 10 or 11.

These days, my colleagues hit me up for harder stuff. I have to turn them down. After all, I'm a drug fiend and not a drug dealer. There's a big difference. In fact, they should be putting out the feelers and finding me drugs!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Michael Jordan's Speech

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

My brother sent me the videos for Michael Jordan's acceptance speech for the Basketball Hall of Fame. Like he said, it was pretty funny.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Marijuana, Horse Sex, and Chocolate Chip Pancakes

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

This really is the end of the world as we know it.

How did I come upon this obvious statement? I glanced at the stats on my Flickr (the site that I use to store photo galleries). I specifically was interested in the numbers surrounding the top 5 photos that I uploaded (all but one are NSFW). The results are mind-numbing.
1. Pineapple Express
2. Horse Sex Fever
3. Sour Diesel Kush
4. Chocolate Chip Pancakes
5. Maui Waui X Afghooey
Well, there's a shocker. Three of the top five are photos of supreme medicinal marijuana samples from California dispensaries. The intertubes are flooded with potheads looking for pictures of weed. After all, marijuana cultivation in America is a $35 billion a year business, and that doesn't count all of the Canadian weed smuggled in from up north.

The top pic is a strain named after the stoner-comedy Pineapple Express. It seems that fans of the film hit up Google wondering if it was a genuine strain or made up for Hollywood purposes. In fact, that's why I got over 27,000 views mainly because stoners were typing 'pineapple express weed' into Google's image search and my pic was on the first page.

The other two non-pot pics? Sex and food. Specifically, bestiality and a chocolatey breakfast special.

I took the photo of the chocolate chip pancakes from the 24 hour cafe inside the Green Valley Ranch casino in Henderson, NV. I used to live in a condo with Grubby about five minutes away. The cafe didn't cook the pancakes with the chips inside. Instead, they sprinkled a stack of regular pancakes with chocolate chips, but the real kicker was the bowl of chocolate sauce (hot too) which you poured over the pancakes. They stopped making these pancakes shortly after the photo was taken. Odd side note... if you type 'chocolate chip pancakes' into Google's photo search, my photo will appear.

The horse sex photo was the cover of a porn DVD that I saw in the window of a sex shop near the red light district in Amsterdam. I once saw a donkey show in Mexico, but that's an entirely different blog post. I have never witnessed (in a live setting) a woman having sex with a horse in the Catherine the Great fashion. My only visual experiences were when I once saw a video of a busty German chick blowing a horse but I gotta say, I was unimpressed and failed to achieve an erection.

The first time I ever saw something that just wasn't right was when I was a fraternity pledge in Georgia and the older brothers showed us Chicken Lover. I won't spoil you with the end of the film or rail on the obvious flaws in the screenplay, but the plot is fairly simple... there's a redneck and a chicken.

My, you got a purty beak...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Edits and Eggshells

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Over the last ten days, I struggled immensely with a plethora of writing/work/project issues including deadlines and of course editing Lost Vegas, which has turned into my personal white whale and the bane of my existence.

I already spent four years and four re-writes on the fucker. I had a book deal and lost one. I had another one then the UIGEA (anti-online gaming legislation) happened. And over the summer I secured a kick ass deal with a publisher in Paris to publish the book in French. That's still in tact, thank God, but that all hinges upon me finishing this draft so their translator (aka Benjo) can get a head start on the project.

Alas, Lost Vegas is nowhere near ready, despite the endless days and nights over the last few years where I sacrificed sleep, days off, and personal time with friends, family, and the girlfriend so I can complete this project. Six months ago, I was hoping that this would be the week when I'm working on the book cover and on the verge of submitting the final draft to the printers. Nope. Not even close.

The good news is that we're now on a path that will make Lost Vegas a good book (as opposed to a mediocre piece of Americana trash), but it is going to take a little more time to get there than I originally expected. I have a new editor and co-pilot who believes in my vision, he just doesn't think I'm presenting Lost Vegas in the best possible manner. We're in the middle of a massive shifting in structure. As much as this scares the bejesus out of me, I took a step back and realized that it's the right way to go.

That's the whole point of shunning traditional publishing venues and going the solo route... that I can have 100% creative control and not rush the manuscript in order to maximize sales for the said publishers. I know how much money I made in the poker industry since I began, and those who hired me and exploited my work and good name must have made a killing over the years. The last thing that I want to do is get pennies on the dollar for my blood work.

Since it's all on me, I decided to push back the release date and not rush this process. It might only be a few weeks, but if by chance it takes a few months, I totally cool with that because in the end, it will be a better book. Instead of worrying about commerce, I needed to focus on the art. There's a slim chance that we can still meet my original deadline, but we're not worrying about that.

So, thus begins the fifth re-write of Lost Vegas and the second attempt in 2009. Sigh.

I was hoping to have some time off for the rest of this month and in October, but that's not going to happen. I need a real vacation to unplug and regroup, but I lost that window of opportunity. I doubt that I can get any time off until Spring 2010, but I have to use some of that time towards another new project (e-book for a business project), re-writing Jack Trip Stole My Dog, and promoting Lost Vegas. Oh, and then the 2010 WSOP will begin and then I lose my sanity for the summer.

I would kill for a huge chunk of unstructured time without deadlines or worrying about the multiple web sites and projects I have undertaken. Alas, that's the path I chose.

At one point, the Lost Vegas manuscript was over 300,000 words of material. I trimmed that draft before the summer began down to around 150,000. During the Spring round of edits in April and May, I spliced off more than half the manuscript. To put that in perspective, short NaNoWriMo novels are supposed to be 50,000 words. I essentially killed three of those, and it looks like another 50,000 will be spliced (although another 20,000 added). Yeah, four NaNo novels... gone.

It just amazes me the amount of writing that did not make the cut. Some of it is hopelessly mediocre (and I'm glad I finally had the balls to let it go), while other bits maintain my highest standards of quality, yet the subject matter is redundant or a derivative of something I already stated. For example, the strip clubs bits? I have to cut about 50% of those. As much as I love some of those sections, the material is repetitive. Ergo, their future is the trash bin.

The volume of scribblings that has ended up on the cutting room floor is more than some people will ever write in a lifetime, and all of those words are now gone. I feel like absolute shit because those cut passages represent a waste of time. When I count up all the hours I spent on this project since 2005, the numbers make me dizzy. I started to doubt myself. Is all this really worth it?

This part of the process has put me on edge and the biggest obstacle to overcome is that I'm completely uncomfortable in my own apartment and office. Nicky has to work nights for PokerStars, which means she's sleeping during the days at odd times so I can't blast the music like I normally do when I write, or wander through the apartment when I'm on the phone. I prefer to stand and walk while I talk. I need to be in motion because it stimulates my brain.

Sometimes I get a little stuck on the edits and need to jam out with some air guitar or listen to loud funky tunes that will get me fired up to write, or give me the necessary distraction to take my mind off of whatever has been annoying me (sometimes re-writing a simple sentence takes twice as long as it took me to write the entire chapter). In short, I have to walk on eggshells at a time when I'm going a little crazy and it's adding to the frustration. I'm trying to be respectful, but it's not working. Thank God that Nicky's assignment is only short term and over next week, otherwise, I'd be considering finding a place where I can do my own thing.

I had so much more to say about this and the humble nature of editing, but I'm out of time. I told myself that I'd take today off so I can relax and watch football. It's five minutes to kick off, so now I'm going to just rip a few bong hits, sink into the couch, and watch the Jets.

It's 10am on the west coast and I'm ready for a welcomed distraction and won't think about Lost Vegas until I wake up in the middle of the night in a deep sweat nursing a panic attack when makes me jump out of bed, sprint towards my laptop, and finish the fifth re-write.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Memory jolts rattles my brain at random times. What happens during the actual jolt is hard to describe aside from everything stops for a milisecond. A memory flashes to the front of my brain and I become encapsulated by that exact moment, sort of reliving it in real time. Sometimes these jolts happen while waiting for a subway or walking down the aisle at Target or taking a seat at the local diner.

A few of those memory hiccups included...

... sitting in the back seat of a cab while caught in morning rush hour traffic on Avenida 9 de Julio (9th of July Avenue) in Buenos Aires.

... eating breaded chicken sandwiches smothered in melted American cheese and spicy mustard at 3am on the corner of 34th and Madison after talking to the street hookers a few blocks south during those pre-9/11 years. My buddy asked one of the working girls, "Are you gonna blow me on the stoop?"

... walking past the historic Chelsea Hotel (circa 1995) in a sullen state after getting into an argument with Sabine, who used to put me on tilt for weeks at a time.

.... blind guy tossed old yogurt at me in order to stop me from smoking pot.

Yeah, those memories might be strange, but not as strange as the two pyramid dreams I had this week. The first one occurred during a pre-dream. I had not really fallen asleep yet and dozed off while listening to my iPod. I woke up with clarity of a series of pyramids with electric bolts shooting out of the tops of the pyramids and striking the other pyramids.

I looked up pyramids in those vague random dream interpretation glossaries. I discovered that pyramids...

... are a positive symbol of fulfillment or accomplishment.

... represent "mental regeneration" of sorts.

... indicate that a major change is about to take place.

One can only wonder what the fuck is going on.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Fear and Loathing in America

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Go read this now.

Chilling, isn't it? Hunter wrote that on 9/12/01.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Hood Pic Dump

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

From the slums of Beverly Hills. These were all taken within a five block radius of my digs...

This pic epitomizes the slums of Beverly Hills
(click to enlarge)

This guy's job is to collect these abandoned shopping carts

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Not So Glee

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I got lost in Little Ethiopia.

I had no clue that I lived close to that section of Los Angeles, located a mere one or two neighborhoods away. I woke up early on the first day back after a holiday weekend and while Nicky slept, I took her car out for a spin and drove eastbound on Pico Blvd. to the grocery store in a decent part of town, but much less posh than the huge Ralph's near Chevoit Hills or the swanky Whole Foods in Beverly Hills.

I wandered into the grocery store where the working class stiffs shop for their foodstuffs. You were not going to see a D-list celebrity picking berries like you would at Whole Foods. I opted for that particular store because they sell certain beverage that is very tough for me to find in L.A., so I went there to pick up a couple of six packs of said beverage.

The store was almost empty at 8am, aside from a couple of guys in aprons re-stocking the shelves. I picked up a slice of chocolate cake because the savory treat would not stop calling my name. I only wanted an apple fritter for breakfast but the cake was hard to pass up. I bought both. Life is short.

The apple fritter was freshly topped glaze that glistened underneath the muted florescent lights. I almost jizzed myself when I bit into the fritter. I couldn't even wait to go home to enjoy the delicacy and gave in to every single temptation. I ate 1/3 of the fritter in the parking lot while I listened to a Phish mix that was in Nicky's CD player. I was so perplexed with the sugar rush that I took the wrong turn and ended up in Little Ethiopia.

* * * * *

My girlfriend goes nuts over the TV show Glee.

And I'm talking about the bombardment of the commercials. She sings along to those her best diva voice. Nicky watched the pilot (more than once) and while sitting in the living room and clutching her magical mystery bong, she belted out a few numbers along with the characters in the program.

It was a little scary, but that's the inner showgirl in her. I forgot about her Hollyweird roots. It bubbles to the surface from time to time. Show tunes. Good God, what have I gotten into.

All I know about Glee, is that it's a FOX show about high school musical theatre. I'm a closet homophobe so I don't even consider watching it. I admit, I found myself watching Bring It On this weekend, but that's because I'm a closest pedophile.

Or am I just normal? Who doesn't like high school girls? That's why there's the 18-year old rule to keep guys like me from roaming hallways of high schools.

Since both Generation X, Y, and Z were raised by addictive socializing agents (television and the intertubes), they're so conflicted how to act that they have to carry-two separate lives... one in the real world and the other virtual.

It's hard enough trying to be cool in real life with things like acne, but it's even more brutal if you can't establish a hip corner of the web. Otherwise, you're milktoast and stuck riding the short bus with the Guatemalan kids who don't speak English, the special-ed kids who have to wear helmets, and the albino kid with the oxygen mask (he was the former meth baby who defied the odds of survival) and you got stuck sitting next to him.

Sorry about the tangent. To sum up, Nicky likes Glee and I can't wait for football season.

Alas, football is a bittersweet entity on the Left Coast. I'm living in a city that does not have a football team. The City of Angels boasts two baseball teams (one they stole from Brooklyn and the other out in Orange County in the shadows of Disneyland), two basketball teams (well, 1.5 because the Clippers are atrociously the bottom feeders of the NBA. If the Lakers are Vincent Chase, then the Clippers are Johnny Drama), and one hockey team. Shit, L.A. even has a soccer team but no American football team. That's kinda pathetic but goes to show what sort of town L.A really is.... a lame one.

"So who do we watch on Sundays?" wondered Chicago Bob, a lifelong Bears fan who moved to L.A. this summer and on the cusp of sampling of West Coast football.

"USC games. Sadly."

Actually on Sundays, I'm stuck with San Diego games which means I'll be trying to draft players on the Chargers for my fantasy football teams so I can keep an eye on them. And then there's the odd Raiders/Niners game. I gotta hope that a couple of random Jets games sneak through.

On a good note, the games start at 10am. That's the best thing about living on the West Coast. You wake up and the games are on! Zero waiting time. And the afternoon game ends at 4:30ish pm so you still have a half of a Sunday left without feeling like you wasted your life away sweating your fantasy football team.

* * * * *

Did you know? According to Phish's guitar player, Trey, they collaborated with Ben & Jerry's on the ingredients of Phish Food ice cream and almost added raspberries to the popular flavor.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Cookie Monster

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

"Why is Eric Clapton playing inside an Indian restaurant?"

There was silence for a few seconds while we watched images of Eirc Clapton strumming along on an acoustic guitar as a full orchestra of Indian musicians were playing at the Royal Albert Hall. It took a few seconds before Nicky began to laugh.

We were watching a bit of the heavy-handed Beatles coverage on VH1 Classic. They were stretching a bit and aired a Concert for George, which celebrated George Harrison one year after his death.

"I want cookies," said Nicky.

Although it was 11pm, for Nicky it was late-afternoon. Her latest writing assignment has her up until 6am or 7am every day, sometimes later. Me? I was at the tail end of a long day, heck it's been a long week. I was up at the dawn writing and editing and trying to maintain my sanity while monumentally distracted trying to put together a strategy for our fantasy football team. The draft was scheduled for 7pm on Tuesday, but they opened up the draft 36 hours earlier in order to speed up our 16 round draft.

"I want cookies," she said.

"And I want a blowjob."

* * * * *

It looked like Huey Lewis was riding a bicycle across the parking lot of 7/11. Usually in L.A. if someone looks like a celebrity, they usually are that person. But it couldn't be possible. Huey Lewis wearing a wifebeater and peddling a bicycle down La Cienega? No way.

He pulled right up to the front of the store and didn't bother to lock up his bicycle. He just leaned it up against the window in the same spot where a homeless person usually stands during the day begging everyone who walks out of 7/11 for spare change.

I held the door open for the guy I thought was Huey Lewis and caught a close-up glimpse. To my disappointment, it wasn't one of my favorite 80s pop singers. Rather it was a tweaker in search of ice cream. He made a beeline for the freezer and inspected three different cartons of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. I slid into the back aisle and grabbed a bag of nachos, then wandered down the cookies aisle. I found a bag of Famous Amos chocolate chip cookies for Nicky.

The guy in front of me had two cartons of Nibs, chocolate milk, and some sort of bag of gourmet chips. Yep, only stoners and tweakers go to 7/11 just before Midnight.

I also picked up a bag of Pepperidge Farm cookies. I opted for something called Taiti Cookies. It even came with an explanation on the packaging.... "A rich layer of chocolate bliss lies between two golden coconut cookies. Enjoy a little tropical getaway in every bite."

Fuck yeah. I tore into the bag as soon as I left the store. The walk back to the apartment is less than three blocks. In that short time, I passed a small field of sunflowers that were taller than me and an apartment building with a terrace that contains a huge birdcage so whenever you walk buy, you can hear caged birds begging to be let out. And while I walked that short trip, I devoured a half of a bag of Tahitis.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Five Block Radius

By Pauly
Los Angeles,CA

I watched a hipster chick do a face plant in the street, just off of Olympic Blvd. I snickered and didn't offer to help her up.

She was too busy texting while walking from the sidewalk to a double parked black Prius, driven by one of your prototypical L.A. Douchebags with too much hair gel blasting the latest Kings of Leon album. As she crossed the street, she was preoccupied with writing a text, maybe even a Tweet, and tripped on a piece of cracked pavement.

Her iPhone flew a few feet in front of her and slid underneath a parked car, she fell on her side and jumped right back up. I was surprised that she didn't stay on the ground and start crying. That's what I would have done. I think she was going on a date or something and she didn't want to be embarrassed by her lack of coordination. Her date jumped out of the car and freaked out.

ER doctors are experiencing a wave of injuries caused by people texting and doing other things. The most fatal antics include driving and texting. The most routine injuries? Falling down while texting. A couple of years ago, one famous poker player tore his kneee up pretty badly when he tripped down a flight of stairs in his own house while trying to answer an email on his BlackBerry. He didn't watch his step and BAM!

Of course, that wasn't the oddest thing I saw all week while walking around my neighborhood. That would be the dudes with the rug.

I can't really explain what I saw. but these two guys were driving down the street in a green pick up truck. They looked like construction workers. The young guy was white and the older guy was black. They stopped about a half a block away from me so I watched this go down as I approached them. Both guys jumped out of the truck and pulled a rug out of the back. It was wrapped up with one of those bungee chords. They plopped it on a patch of grass next to a palm tree. The young guy said something and the black guy started screaming at him. The young kid pulled out his cell phone and dialed the phone. As he put the phone to his ear, the black guy bitch -slapped him. He surprisingly did not drop the phone.

I decided to cross the street just in case one of them pulled out a gun. Both guys yelled at each other for about fifteen seconds, then they abruptly stopped. They didn't say another word and bent over to pick up the rug. They threw it in the back of their pick up and drove off.

Sometimes I see the same homeless guy wandering down Pico Blvd. I've seen him plenty of times before by the post office or in front of the Jack in the Box. He looks like he's in his 60s with a weathered face like an old catcher's mitt. He wears dirty jeans and an old courdory blazer, the one with patches on the sleeves. He looks like he could have been a college professor in the 1970s and lost his job and wandered around the streets of L.A. ever since while wearing the exact clothes he used to teach in.

As I stood on the corner and waited for the light to change, traffic sped past us and he peered into a trash can at the bus stop. He rummaged around for a few seconds before he pulled out a newspaper and a box of Jack in the Box fries. It was 85% full, too. I have no idea how old they were, but he stumbled upon a major food score in the trash.

I ran out of printer paper and made a run to Staples as soon as they opened up in the morning. I forgot that it was a Saturday on a holiday weekend just a round the time kids went back to school. Yeah, Staples was flooded with kids running amuck in search of school supplies. All I wanted was paper and a hole puncher. I also bought a binder and a pack of red pens and waited in line which seemed like an eternity since there was only one cashier ringing up a store full of shoppers.

There were three women standing in line in front of me but they had a total of 15 children and no less than half of them were little ones darting in and out of the line and screaming and crying that they wanted whatever items they say in front of them. We were in prime "impulse buy" territory and since the line didn't move, we were stuck in between two rows of random office supplies and candy. The kids were going apeshit and I wish that I smoked more pot before I wandered into Staples on a Saturday morning.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Truckin' - August and September Issues

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I forgot to pimp last month's issue of Truckin', so I'll do it with this month's issue. So if you're looking for something to read, here's two issues of your favorite literary magazine...

September 2009, Vol. 8, Issue 9

1. Tangerine Rockets by Paul McGuire
Lennie was an international legend. His father walked away from a plane crash and passed along some of those good luck genes over to Lennie.... More

2. The Red Pill by Sigge S. Amdal
She dropped the face and began to cry, as tensions rose around me. The waiters stopped waiting tables, people stopped talking; they were just exchanging knowing glances and judgmental comments... More

3. Fine Tuning by Milton T. Burton
He looked perplexed. I slipped my hand beneath my coat, came out with the little silenced .22 Magnum auto, and shot him right in the center of the forehead. The hollow-point bullet exited the back of his skull, making a colorful little jet of blood and brains as it went... More

4. On Scoring by Human Head
One look at the eyeliner, eyebrows, gold hoops and herringbone chains, and I knew this was the Angel we were supposed to see. As she drew closer to the door, the tattoo's left little doubt. She didn't say anything. She just looked at me... More

5. The Joys of Gambling by Johnny Hughes
Saratoga Springs, New York in August was the gambling capital of America in the 1920s, with the horses, the spa waters, large and ornate casinos, and America's wealthiest citizens in a gilded age, when money and wine were treated like water... More

* * * * *

August 2009, Vol. 8, Issue 8

1. Modigliani by Paul McGuire
Rafi handed me $25. The $20 bill was crisp, but the five singles were wrinkled. One of them had the eyes of George Washington blacked out by a pen... More

2. Locust Swarm of One by Sigge S. Amdal
Bright light stung his eyes like an impenetrable carpet of white needles. He winked to dull the eyeball itch, trying to carve out some detail in the white dark. Was it completely clear or clearly a blizzard, he wondered, as everything outside the windows just displayed the distinct sharpness of a void?... More

3. Top of the World by Katitude
The road twisted and curled around the mountains with no guardrails to soothe my fear of heights, and my bike was not handling well at all. The street bike, with the tires that already had a major trip's worth of wear on them, was not made for this kind of terrain. The weight of camping gear raised the center of gravity and with every curve I thought I could feel the rear tire slide a bit... More

4. Maui Rescue by Michael Friedman
I had heard numerous horror stories about unsuspecting people being robbed on the side of highways by people they thought were going to help them. My heart almost pounded out of my chest when two 300-plus-pound Hawaiians got out of the small truck... More

5. Fish Store by Arthur Rosch
He gunned the motorcycle. He turned the amplifier all the way up and thwanged a huge chord. He was going to accelerate into the swimming pool, electrocute, overdose and drown himself all at the same time. Someone would find his corpse in the next couple weeks, sitting there at the bottom of the pool on his Harley, with his Claxton Wanko guitar strapped around his shoulder, his Boogie Amp short-circuited, his blood full of dope... More
As always, thanks for your support.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

The Things I Did... Wednesday

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I woke up early and wrote and wrote while Pucho & The Latin Soul Brothers was blasting and I was irked because my early morning writing session wasn't up to snuff.

I ate breakfast at the diner.... chocolate chip pancakes. I sat near the front window and I watched a couple of security guards across the street at the bank harass a homeless guy. The bank name? Bank of America.

I came in 111th place in a tournament with 131 players for a media tournament on Poker Stars. A couple of my friends were at my starting table.

I watched a documentary about Philip K. Dick. Druggie? Schizo? Who knows what his deal was but Dick managed to write some of the most amazing science fiction stories throughout his career.

I made a shake using Ben & Jerry's Mint Chocolate Cookie with strawberries. Wow, better than expected.

I brewed a batch of organic chai iced tea. I didn't like it as much as Earl Grey.

I edited and re-edited one article four times before I decided to re-write it and start from scratch.

I'm addicted to a new site... The People of Walmart.

I watched Top Chef with Nicky. The new season is in Las Vegas, which is kinda weird and troublesome for me because sometimes I get flashbacks of my time there.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

80s Flashbacks

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I'm short on time. Deadlines looming. Trying to squeeze a month of freelance writing into two days? Didn't happen. But I know that I can do it in four days if I really hustle and more like five days. That's fine. I'll accept that considering I need the rest of the month for edits. Edits. And more edits.

I'm exhausted and mentally drained at the end of the day every since I returned to Los Angeles. Nicky thinks it's the brutal heat. I think it's that along with the pressure of getting the book complete. Writing is easy for me. Editing and promoting? Not my strongest suits but I'm plugging through.

I finished the bathroom book that had me occupied in the mornings. Benjo gave me an out-of-print special edition book commemorating Rolling Stone's 20th anniversary. The book had plenty of photography of 60s, 70s, and 80s icons and plenty of one-on-one interviews. Two interviews that stood out? John Lennon and Bob Dylan. Both were extremely hard and critical of their fan base, somewhat on the verge of disdain and contempt.

A couple of articles stood out... one on Sly and the Family Stone. The other was about Kent State.

Two of my favorite authors who wrote about 80s decadence were featured including a clip from Tom Wolfe's Bonfire of the Vanities. The other was a piece on Roxanne Pulitizer by Hunter Thompson. Former Rolling Stone editor Jann Wenner said that was one of Hunter greatest pieces of writing. Usually I disagree with Jann, but he's dead on there.

My favorite book that Hunter wrote was the first one I read... Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail. The Vegas book was epic, but it didn't affect me as a writer and as a student (at the time I read it my Freshman year in college as a teenager with a deep interest in politics and a future pre-law candidate).

One of my favorite Hunter articles were the Kentucky Derby piece where he was teamed up with illustrator Ralph Steadman for the first time. Steadman had never done psychedelics before he met Hunter and he was spun pretty hard for most of his assignment. His drawings and sketches from that assignments were influenced by the mind-altering substances he had ingest for the first time. His dark and twisted and perverse drawings accurately captured the depravity of the Kentucky Derby that Hunter eloquently described in his piece.

The other favorite of mine was about Roxanne Pulitzer. I had been desperately looking for a copy and was happy to find it one morning during a bowel movement. I flipped the page and there it was. Hunter was perfect for the assignment. Since it was the 1980s, I wonder how much blow he consumed while covering the trial and writing the piece. In many ways, it might have been one of his last great pieces of journalism and writing. He hit a few home runs with some of his ESPN articles, but most of those were smaller gems like his reaction to 9/11 and his rules to changing baseball.

Anyway, now I'm onto a new bathroom book that the Human Head sent to me about Jack Herer and the conspiracy against marijuana. Should be an awesome read.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

L.A. Fires

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I'm waiting for the Governator to come down from Sacramento and put the fires out with a huge stream of urine. He refers to them as "Zee Fy-ahs."

Thick plumes of smoke filled the air in and around LA. The raging inferno in Angeles National Forest doubled in size on Monday. It's creeping closer towards civilzation and two men already lost their lives fighting the fires. Friends in Las Vegas have seen the smoke trickle their way.

I'm nowhere near the area. As Nicky said, "It would have to burn through 20 miles of urban sprawl to get to us." We're no where near harm's way but you can't walk outside without some sort of reminder about the peril. People are getting evacuated as we speak.

Touching and spectacular photos here and here.

And check out the sensational time elapsed fire video.

At 9pm on Monday...
"Los Angeles County-area fires near Mount Wilson, La Canada Flintridge, Altadena, La Crescenta, Glendale, Pasadena, Acton, Agua Dulce...

A voracious five-day-old wildfire that has churned through more than 105,000 acres of mountainous brush across northern Los Angeles County showed little sign of slowing down this afternoon as it threatened 12,000 homes in suburban tracts and desert communities, along with a historic observatory and major array of television and radio transmission towers. With afternoon winds picking up, the Station fire, the largest of eight burning in the state, was plowing through dense hillside vegetation and steep terrain toward residential areas of Sunland and Santa Clarita on the west. To the east, firefighters were hoping that a concerted effort to cut fire breaks and lay down fire retardant would save the Mt. Wilson Observatory and a key complex of communications towers."