Thursday, January 07, 2010

Northwest Corner

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

The northwest corner of my desk is graveyard of memories. Stickers, hotel room keys, casino players' cards, and random business cards from people I met along my encounters form a mound of plastic and paper. A Reminder of the wanderings over the last few months. It's sort of a museum exhibition of life on the road, living in hotels, and wandering around the parking lots of Phish concerts smashed to the tits.

I can see six stickers within my reach. The Joker created two of them -- in an homage to his favorite TV show Lost and our favorite band Phish.

The I Miss Jerry sticker was created by an old hippie with a grey and white beard. We met in Albany on a bitterly cold evening. He's originally from Northern California and had been selling those Jerry Garcia-inspired stickers in order to pay for gas money from Palm Springs all the way to the Northeast. He had the most laid back sales pitch... "Pay what you want." I asked him what would happen when people offered nothing. He said a few people offered to pay zilch and he still gave them away for free. That's why hippies make for bad capitalists and are always broke all the time. Sure they have plenty of stored up karma, but they are cash poor. But for the most part, enough people offered $1 a sticker, which helped keep him on the road.

Two other stickers I acquired in Miami were a play on the "Mile 0" marker sign on US-1 in Key West. And my favorite "Keep Trey Sober" sticker was created by a cute hippie chick with a queer sense of humor. The Joker ran into her at Halloween. I crossed paths with her in Albany and saw her again in Miami.

I visited Las Vegas twice since November, so it was not weird to see players club cards from Harrah's, Mirage, the Venetian, Gold Coast, and Red Rock buried underneath the rest of the rubbish including Vegas room keys from swanky joints like the Gold Coast and the Imperial Palace.

I have so many hotel keys that I don't know what to do with them. I have an odd fascination with the possibility that I could return to the same hotel and have the key work on any room, so I can come and go as I please. Then again, that possibility would freak me out because it means someone else could harness the same power and randomly enter any hotel room. That would be a nifty gadget to have... an universal hotel room key that opens up any hotel room in the world. Imagine how much money I could steal and how much porn I could shoot?

The rest of the hotel room keys on my desk include the Crowne Plaza in Beverly Hills (where friends stayed before Halloween), Paradisus Resort on Playa Conchal in Costa Rica, the Sofitel in Miami, and the Holiday Inn in Charlottesville.

The assortment of business cards are primarily poker-related... my editor at Bluff Magazine, a friend in the marketing department at Card Runners, my French publisher, a writer from the Casino City Press, a freelance photographer from Nevada, and a staff writer at ESPN.

The rest of the business cards are a mixed bag... an artist from Albany, an attorney from Missouri, an engineer from Colorado, a logistics manager in Oklahoma, a teacher from Toronto, and a notary public from Florida.

I have two $5 casino chips. One from the Golden Nugget in swanky downtown Las Vegas and the other from the Jazz Casino in Costa Rica. I doubt that I will be returning to either anytime soon. So for now, they make handy paperweights and prevent random pieces of scratch paper from flying off my desk and getting stuck underneath the rollerball wheels on my squeaky Ikea chair that looks like something out of Clockwork Orange or a futuristic film.

Oh, and I never mentioned the orphaned receipts. The random pieces of paper that I thought might be useful but I really should have crumpled up and threw into the trash. I collect all receipts for tax/work purposes. I don't always use them, but I take them with me anyway and then sort them out after every trip. The important ones go into a special file which I need during the hellacious week when I do my taxes. If I don't need it? It gets ripped into two hundred little pieces and ends up in the trash, only to be disturbed by a deranged homeless person in search of bottles and leftover food.

* * * * *

Erectile Dysfunction commercials intrigue me, particularly the background music. Some of the songs are well-known hits performed by a random cover band. I wonder how that original artist and composer feels about his/her bloodwork promoting pills to help men with penises that don't work. Heck, it's getting old guys laid anyway you look at it. I'm sure they are getting paid big bucks from the pharmaceutical industry fat cats who are swimming in dough. The hookers are the ones who should be the most thankful. A decade ago, there was a smaller pool of potential johns, but with the creation of various boner bills, guys no longer experienced problems getting it up after they lost the usage of their piss pumps.

* * * * *

She lives in the building next door. 40-something Middle Eastern woman. She hangs out of her second story window and chain smokes. Sometimes she talks on the phone. Most of the time she puffs away while ashing into a large empty Gatorade bottle. There's a stack of empty cigarette packs sitting on the ledge. Five? Six high? I always wonder what she's talking about. Some late nights I get paranoid and think she's a double agent.

* * * * *

I'm in the process of trying to unplug to prepare for one last writing binge. Never an easy task. Since the new year began, I have been hiding my phone and keeping the ringer turned off. I have been limiting the amount of time that I read email. The only time I have been dicking around the intertubes has been when I was multi-tasking during online poker sessions.

I have been on a writing binge since my return but I have yet touched Lost Vegas. I have been trying to crank out a month's worth of freelance work inside of three or four days so I can clear the rest of the month to complete the final draft. I missed the grind of waking up early to write in the darkness of the apartment, and closing the door to my office and cranking the jazz writing mixes that I created which spurs the creative process. The fingers peck away at the laptop and every time I write another page... that's more money in my pocket. I have to remind myself that when I'm polishing the final draft of the book. Sometimes I wonder why I attempted a foolish pursuit.

I finally wrote about the hijinks during New Year's Eve, but that fodder is not for public consumption. Even some of the pictures I posted are somewhat incriminating, but oh well. That's just art resembling life, or something like that.

I'm taking off for a few days. Radio silence. Off the grid. I shall return early next week at the latest.

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