I had never been to Compton before. It's not an area of Los Angeles where I hang out, then again there's plenty of places that I avoid in the greater Los Angeles area, mostly due to the fact that I rarely venture out of my little hood in the slums of Beverly Hills, which can be attributed to traffic complications and the fact I hate driving in LA.
Nicky despises the Valley (it's an LA-thing to hate on the Valley, much like dwellers in Manhattan poke fun at the bridge and tunnel crowd from Jersey), and the only thing that gets her to the Valley is a trip to a marijuana dispensary or an airport pickup when I happen to fly into Bob Hope Airport in Burbank. He little sister Mandy lives in the Valley and even her sister is not enough to get Nicky to go visit.
We stick to the slums of Beverly Hills and West LA. I'm sure if we went out to party in bars or visited more restaurants in LA, we'd hit up a lot more neighborhoods. Nicky cooks for us and we go local. We travel so much domestically and internationally that when we're in LA, we don't want to go anywhere and happy to be home. That's one of the reasons that I never head to parts East and South of Los Angeles, and the Valley to the North of us. Plus, most of the time I'm in LA, I'm there to work. In the last year or so, it was Lost Vegas that took up all my free time. And in the next few months, I'll be re-writing Jack Tripper Stole My Dog.
This week, I had the luxury of not traveling anywhere to cover a poker tournament with an stop on the North American Poker Tour scheduled in Los Angeles. Poker is legal in California, so there's plenty of random card rooms all over Southern California. The card rooms are also pseudo-casinos (no slots, but some tables games) and found a way to get around the laws with loopholes. Anyway, with a tournament scheduled for LA, Nicky and I were thrilled that we didn't have to pack luggage, get stuck in long ass security lines, get my junk grabbed by feisty TSA agents, and stay in a hotel room where maids barge in even though there's a DO NOT DISTURB sign on the door -- in both English and Spanish. Yeah, we have the benefit of sleeping in our own beds, which is an amazing feeling.
But it kinda feels weird to have to commute to work. We purposely stay off the freeways during high traffic times, but we had no choice with this assignment. We had to fight the traffic like the rest of the proletariat.
The first casino I had to work in was called the Bicycle Casino. It was located in Bell Gardens, not the swankiest of neighborhoods, but the Bike offered up inexpensive and really good food. The hardest aspect of my job is being forced to pay inflated prices on casino food -- which is usually sub par. Not the Bike. I was initially skeptical about the breakfast burrito, but it was pretty damn tasty and cost less than $4.
Now, the location has moved to the Crystal Casino in Compton. Insert your own NWA joke here _____. We're here on a remote TV set because the next three days of poker will be recorded. Amazing that the production crew can set up shop in the tiniest or largest of spaces.
The only drawback was the simple fact that I got sick after a trip to Las Vegas. I always get sick after my November assignment, and this year was no different, except it festered a little longer and did not rear it's ugly head until Saturday. Once it hit, there was nothing to do except suck it up. I actually "called in" sick on Sunday. You might think sitting on a couch watching football is fun, but when you do it with a 104 fever it's not really enjoyable. I took some meds on Sunday which fucked up my stomach on Monday, so Monday I felt better with regard to the casino flu, but my stomach was in knots and I had to stay home another day. I wasn't 100% this morning, but I missed two important days of work, and had no choice.
I have to get through Thursday night, then I'm done with work (covering tournaments on the circuit) for the rest of the year. That's a huge bonus for me and I can stay at home and finish up the remainder of assignments for the year. If I'm truly productive and smart, I'll crank out the rest of my work for the year in the last week of November and that way I'll have the entire month of December solely for my own creative endeavors and fully enjoy a trip to Vegas (for play, not for work), the holidays and Phishy New Years in NYC.
I keep telling myself... three more days.
Three. More. Days.