Monday, January 18, 2010


By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I fought back the torrential downpour hoping to avoid the stream of gushing water and abandoned shopping carts hurtling down the street. LA was under siege with raindrops the size of serving platters yet I dodged as many as I could and safely arrived at my destination... a fast food depot.

I discovered where all of the homeless denizens of LA retreat on the seven or eight days a year the skies rapidly turn from baby blue to menacing grey before dumping rainfall onto the city. They end up at the Jack in the Box on Pico Blvd. I wandered into the joint during halftime of the Jets/Chargers game seeking to quench my thirst. Iced tea. It's my latest addiction that I swapped for pain killers. I needed a batch to drink during the stressful second half of the playoff game.

Jack in the Box reeked just like when a homeless person passes you on the subway. Stale urine. Fresh feces. You rarely smell that in LA. Too much pollution. Besides, the daily plight is usually hidden. The sun shines too bright to see the unwashed masses hiding underneath cardboard shanty towns in alleys parallel to the east-west thoroughfares of the city.

I braved the storm and returned home. Safely. The iced tea calmed my nerves as the Jets held onto a victory. Never expected my hometown Jets to be a Final Four team in the NFL this year. Sweet Jesus, they are one win away from the Super Bowl... something I thought would never happen in my lifetime. I'm either a realist or a jaded fan. Maybe both.

Even the hypnotic rain could not sour my upbeat mood. The only downside to the Jets advancing is that I lose another day to football next weekend when I desperately need as many free days as possible for work. Even though I try to work around the football game... it's never a productive day... and I end up very distracted. At this point I accept that nothing will get accomplished so I sit back, relax, and enjoy it for what it is.A huge distraction.

Nicky saw ugly storm festering on the horizon when we stepped outside on Sunday morning. We embraced the last moments of sunshine and prepped for the week-long monsoon. LA would never be the same again, but we ate our breakfast at the crowded coffeeshop filled with hungover hipsters and pious churchgoers. The last meal? Who knows. We sat at the counter which was fine because the TV in the corner aired the first football game. I didn't miss a play while I waited for chocolate chip pancakes and drowned out the incessant chatter of the hipsters.

* * * * *

The stories come and go. Most of the same are the same, and I'm just plugging in different names. The sun rises. The sun sets. People find love, they lose it. People die. Babies are born. Some get lucky. Other newborns catch the bad end of the stick and spend the rest of their lives trying to climb out of a hole wondering where it all want wrong. Maybe there's something to be said about karma. Maybe not. Life can be totally random, cruel, chaotic, and Godless. Just ask some of the citizens of Haiti.

The night was restless. Disjointed dreams. Lots of staring into the blackness of night, thinking about mellow things to help me sleep. I tried to avoid thinking about the seven or eight topics that I constantly worry about, yet two or three somehow seep into there.

Been listening non-stop to Miles Davis' epic electric soundtrack to a documentary film about a boxer named Jack Johnson. It was released in 1971, yet Miles cut that in 1970 over two different recording sessions with two different lineups. Herbie Hancock sat in for parts of both tracks. Yes, just two tracks on the album about 25 minutes each. Electric Miles on the cusp of rock and roll. Influenced by Sly and James Brown. Gotta love that he was pulling inspiration from those musicians as he sought to make a batch of jazz music for black people (since at the time, Jazz had a high percentage white fans even though the majority of musicians were black).

Depending on who you talk to, Jack Johnson was a huge bust compared to Mile's previous gem Bitches Brew... or it was a piece of utter genius and sheer brilliance on the fusion of rock and jazz. It's hard to top Bitches Brew, but for me at this moment in my life... I want the smash mouth aggressive soloing from Miles to carry me home for the last stretch of Lost Vegas. Sort of glad that it's raining... it will set me in the mood to want to write. How can I go wrong with Miles and the rain? Time to lock myself in for three days and see what I can come up with.

* * * * *

I can see the linear path of my life ahead of me from scheduled trips (both work and pleasure) along with books I want to read (both for work and for pleasure) not to mention those monstrous projects (both work and pleasure) that I think will only take a few weeks or months but end up taking years to complete. Let's put it bluntly... Gumbo was the last major literary project I completed. That was 2004. Before I got into poker. I've been working on Lost Vegas since 2005. I used to focus on one major writing project per year and bang it out, but somehow I got lost along the way with the Vegas book and got stuck or lost on a different path without any roadmaps or GPS to guide me. Poker stunted my creativity and the business stifled my growth, but I managed to do what I could the last couple of years to keep myself sharp with constantly forcing myself to write about other topics.

I see the path back to the main road. It's a shortcut to my sanity -- but I've gotten lost taking shortcuts before.

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