Saturday, December 31, 2005

Last Thoughts of 2005

I'm gonna wait a few days to do a recap post of 2005. I did Part 1 on the Tao of Poker and it was 5K words and took me two days to write.

2005 has been one wild ride. I did more traveling in 2005 than in pervious years. I returned to Europe went to Amsterdam with Briana and Spain for the first time and moved to Las Vegas. I was all over the country... Miami, LA, South Carolina, Indiana, Rhode Island, Colorado, and Philly... visitng friends.

My job as a poker tournament reporter was part of the reason I had been living out of my backpack for the last 9 months. It's been fun at times and stressful at others. Business travel is not nearly as fun as holiday travel. The hardest part was not having control over certain aspects of my life and having to eliminate a lot of things/hobbies/cool stuff that I enjoyed doing. I found myself having to focus on time management because I had so very little time to do things, I often found myself multi-tasking. I lost some of the pure enjoyment of doing special things because I had to make it happen while I did something else. Like eating a sandwich while I talked to someone on the phone and played online poker. In the past I could spread all three out into three or four hours. Not anymore. I would find myself with "just an hour" to do things and ended up cramming four or five things into my free periods. That is what I had to make sure I was going to change in 2006. My free periods were going to be just that... free.

Like at the 2005 WSOP. It took me three weeks before I realized I had to stop working on my dinner breaks. I used to just write through it and catch up. It was driving me crazy. Wil pointed out to me that I had to take that hour for myself otherwise I'd go crazy. I'm glad I did. It was some of th ebest advice I got this summer. Thanks again Wil.

I tried to take off this week. I did not write any freelance stuff. I found myself enjoying more free time to take long walks with Briana or watching basketball with Derek or play online poker with friends scattered throughout the country. But I also found myself doing "busy work things" like taking phonecalls and writing business emails. At least it took up a small percentage of my time, but I can never fully ignore the stuff I have going on.

It's also a sham that I have to make myself write on this blog for ten minutes everyday. I've lost the discpline to keep this up. It's OK. It's my way of telling you that I do care and will do my best efforts to keep the Tao of Pauly interesting and fresh. Everyday I'm adding new readers so I can't complain of the growth. I know I can do a better job as far as content and focus. I like the new format where I give myself ten minutes and just rattle things off and take the risk of putting out complete shit in a stream of conciousness way of writing. In many ways it's a healthy writing exercise. Trying to verbalize my thoughts into some sort of blog fodder. It's like watching Jerry Garcia sit down, smoke a ciggie, and then jam out on his guitar for ten minutes. I'd give up my left nut to see that one more time.

I've been trying to read a lot this week and it has not turned out very well. I only read 1 book out of 4 that I wanted to dig into. I also only read a few pages of my friend's manuscript instead of finishing it by today like I promised myself.

That's it. I have laundry waiting for me. Happy New Year. I'll be spending a mellow night for NYE... for the first time in years. In the past decade I've gone to see some sort of concert, even during the time Phish broke up.
1995 New York City - Tijuana Caravan
1996 Jersey City, NJ - My friend Claudia's bash
1997 New York City - Phish
1998 New York City - Phish
1999 Big Cypress, Florida - Phish
2000 San Francisco - Galactic
2001 New York City - Vida Blue (featuring Page from Phish)
2002 New York City - Phish reunion concert
2003 Miami, FL - Phish
2004 New York City - no concert - I skipped Flaming Lips & Wilco
2005 New York City.... ???
Link of the day... 2005: The Year in Breasts
End of Year Link Dump

CBGB's gets a one year extension after they were supposed to close their doors earlier this year. This gives me one more year to blow off that place. I might go back just to get drunk and piss on the floor of the men's room. A few years ago I walked by with my friend Molly. We were headed to see Charlie Hunter play at Bowery Ballroom. A posuer-punk-hipster called me a yuppie as I walked by. He was looking for a fight. I blew him off. A real punk would have walked right up to be and popped me with an eye-jimmy without even muttering a single word.

Are journalists underpaid? It's a question posed in a recent Slate article.

Vote for the Movie Blog Awards! I'm going to because I'm a loser with nothing better to do that vote in meaningless polls while I play online poker. In my attempt to kiss Ron Howard's ass... I picked him for Best Director.

"The Warriors" fight on talks about how the movie is still a cult classic 26 years later.

Jack Black talks about a lost weekend of liquor and ecstasy
during the shooting of King Kong. I heard Naomi Watts is a big pothead too. I'd like to toke up and grope her for a few hours.

In animal fucking news... old man pleads not guilt for sexual relations with a calf. Daddy was quoted as saying, "What a fucking pussy!" However, one man was found guilty of having sex with a horse in Washington state.

Canadian lawmakers lifted a ban on group sex. Swingers clubs open and horny Cannuck couple copulate with strangers, eh?

I spotted a few blogworthy things on The Smoking Gun...
1. Targeting John Lennon
2. 2005 Mugshots of the Year
3. Porn Actress Nailed
4. Famous mugshots of unfamous people

Friday, December 30, 2005

Pizza and Poker

Back to the ten minute thing. It's my attempt to blog more here.

I've been eating a lot of pizza since I returned to NYC. I can never get old of pizza. It's pretty cheap especially for NYC standards, and there have been stretches in my life where I lived solely off of a pizza diet. There's one pizza place near Briana's aparment that has great walk-in Sicilian slices. You have to ask them to make it "not so hot" because their ovens are scorching hot. There's the local joint near Derek's apatment where we order pies from. Got a pepperoni pie and a chicken parm from there the other day. Good ass eats.

I've been eating bagels, knishes, and donuts as well.

I finally caught up on all my email. My inboxes had less than 10 emails total. Unreal. It's never been that low. I've been behind this entire year. My voicemails have been piling up though.

I played a ton of online poker this week. Without any deadlines to meet, I've finally had the chance to sit around and play with friends and in a couple of Wil Wheaton's tournaments. That was one thing I missed the most... playing online for hours straight. About a year ago, I was playing online 30-40 hours a week plus another 10+ hours or so live. It was my full time job for a while and I grinded away a living playing on Party Poker a few hours everyday. I'm hoping to find more time to play in 2006 and try to supplement some of my income from playing in bigger stakes games.

This week has been up and down. I started on a winning streak then had one awful night, followed up by another winning night, followed by a terrible night. I'm in the hole this week and it sucks to end the year on a losing streak. Oh well. You need to have a cool head in order to handle the swings. usually when I calculate my losses, I equate my daily downswing in terms of airplane tickets. On Tuesday, I lost a roundtrip flight to Paris. Last night I lost a roundtrip ticket to Miami. On Wednesday I won a roundtrip flight to Bangkok.

I'm such an addict. I crave action. Grubby and I are awful sometimes. We stand in front of a doorway and gamble on the sex of the person who's going to walk through next.

Ah, I forgot... I also got into trouble for cursing in the chat on Poker Stars last night. If I do it again, I lose my chat privledges. Some one at my table ratted me out for using the word "asscock."

Moving on... Briana got me Clerks, the 10th anniversary edition on DVD for Christmas. I also got 4 copies of Chasing Amy. Hmmm... 2 Kevin Smith flicks this year. How come no one got me Mallrats? I watched Chasing Amy but haven't peeked at Clerks yet.

When I lived in Seattle, I got into Hal Harley films. A friend of mine was infatuated with Hal Hartley and I ended up in a stoned stupor watching his entire collection of films. I'm been on the road so much the past year, I'm way behind in movie watching. I've been trying to catch a slew of new-to-cable flicks that I've never seen before. National Treasure blew ass chunks. In a five year period, Nick Cage did some awful movies with the exception of Adaptation which makes my Top 35 movies of all time list. One decent flick in a five years is enough to keep your street cred in Hollyweird is it? Ayway check out the sad list of flicks:
  1. National Treasure (2004) .... Ben Gates
  2. Matchstick Men (2003) .... Roy Waller
  3. Adaptation. (2002) .... Charlie Kaufman/Donald Kaufman
  4. Sonny (2002) .... Acid Yellow
  5. Windtalkers (2002) .... Sergeant Joe Enders
  6. Christmas Carol: The Movie (2001) (voice) .... Jacob Marley
  7. Captain Corelli's Mandolin (2001) .... Captain Corelli
  8. The Family Man (2000) .... Jack Campbell
  9. Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000) .... Randall 'Memphis' Raines
What is sadder is that I've see all but 2 movies on this list. I should be shot.

Grubby doesn't have TV in his apartment so when we were hanging out in Change100's hotel room in Las Vegas, we watched MTV's Super Sweet 16. It was a car wreck of a reality show featuring spoiled little brats who are bitching about their $100K Sweet 16 parties. I was disgusted at that wasted wealth and resources and yet I watched a two-hour marathon loving every second of that filth. Man, if we didn't have a gambling addiction, we would have watched another two hours of it.

Recent Writing Music...
1. Eric Clapton
2. Pink Floyd
3. Shuggie Otis
4. Lou Reed
5. Vida Blue
War, Family, Christmas & Wil

Wil wrote an interesting essay over at Salon called The real war on Christmas. Check put that piece and make sure you also read Nothing is more imporatant than family, which appeared on his blog.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Gay Dinosaurs

One of my favorite jokes is "What do you call a lesbian dinosaur?"


I'm doing my ten minute blog thing again where I only give myself ten minutes to describe the events of yesterday.

Museums. I got stuck taking little kids to a museum yesterday. It's all Briana's fault. She actually volunteered to babysit her cousin's two bratty, spoiled, white-bread, Greenwich Connecticut offspring of NYC's uppercrust. They weren't that bad in the snobbery area. And for the record, I don't hate kids. I like them in short spurts. Give these kids a few more years. Then they'll be blue-blooded monsters.

Briana told her cousin that she'd watch the kids while she had lunch with some old high school gals. It was her random act of kindness. Everyone in her family was shocked at her generosity. It's funny, I actually knew Briana's cousin before I ever met Briana. We're the same age and we're about 7 years older than Briana. I was dating one girl who went to the same all-girls snooty prep school as Briana's cousin, only a few blocks from my high school. Last year when I saw her for the first time in over a decade, Briana's cousin reminded me that she used to go to my basketball games. Weird isn't it? She was friends with some of my girlfriend's friends and as luck would have had it, we had a gaggle of plaid skirted Upper East side girls in the stands watching me do my best Rex Chapman imitation. We were both #3 you know.

Kids have short attention spans. Even shorter than mine. These kids were like 4 and 6 years old and called Briana... "Auntie Briana." I had the duty of answering museum related questions. I realized after the first few that the kids lost interest about four or five seconds into my long-winded answer. Most of the time, I was bluffing them anyway.

"What the largest dinosaur?"

"Either the Bruhathkayosaurus or the Seismosaurus. Although many argue that Argentinosaurus is the largest to ever walk the Earth," I said.

"What did you get for Christmas?"

"Socks. And a DVD called Chasing Amy."

"What's Chasing Amy?"

"It's a Kevin Smith movie about a guy falling in love with a lesbian."

"What's a lesbian?"

"Something Auntie Briana was during college."

All in all it was an OK time. When the kids got restless, it sucked. Briana did a remarkable job with them. I was pleasantly surprised. She has some maternal instincts in her and talks to kids in a firm, yet non-condescending manner. I can just imagine what the little ones told their mother what they did all afternoon.

"Pauly told us that we live in a dark and Godless universe and that Auntie Briana is a lesh-beans."
Gallery of Champions

I took several winner's photographs at various poker tournaments around the world. take a peek at that entry over at my poker blog called Gallery of Champions.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Last 5 Books I Saw People Reading on the Subway...
1. South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami
2. The Holy Bible
3. A Million Little Pieces by James Frey
4. Night Fall by Nelson DeMille
5. The Final Solution: A Story of Detection by Michael Chabon

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


It felt weird to have nothing to do, that is, not having a deadline looming overhead. I wrote 100% for myself today and it felt great. I read all my daily reads without having to rush it. I even surfed for Swedish porn this afternoon and lost money playing on Poker Stars.

I told factgirl last night that I won't be traveling anywhere for almost four weeks. Usually I know the exact days I have before I embark on a new journey. For now, I'm content being in one place for a while and not thinking about the next destination. Yeah, I wouldn't mind if it was a lot warmer, like in Miami or San Diego. But the cool and crisp air is a reminder of the seasons. Life is about cycles and seasons. Right now, I'm on the verge of starting a new cycle in life. I know that I have to take the last few days of the year to rest and get my mind in good shape before I start a writing binge.

I've been reading a friend's manuscript. It's been my bathroom and subway book. Reading work from my peers is inspiring. I can appreciate the time at the keyboard they spent working in their craft. I know other writers who can grow insanely jealous and freak out in bookstores. Me? I take a moment and take it all in whenever I enter a bookstore... a real bookstore, not one of those megastores with eighteen floors and dipshit $5 hour employees who can't spell Dostoevsky to save their lives. I'm talking about walking into a real bookstore where you can smell the decomposing pages of old books and taste the angst from all the angry artists brooding in the corner flipping the pages of a random art book.

There's a ton of history off the pages of those books. If you set the politics of publishing aside and focus on the work and the sweat from the individual artist, then you just don't see piles of books. You see thousands of hours of passionate thought and selfless creativity transferred from the inner mind to the written page. Sure, I loathe chick lit like no other. I mean how many books can you write about "Oh, I wish I can find a guy who will love me for me" and about shopping binges? Last I checked there were thousands of them. At some point the chick lit bubble will burst and there will be a demand for rambling dissertations on gratuitous drug use in bathroom stalls in trendy Barcelona nightclubs and deviant sexuality in no-tell-motels in yawn-inducing towns such as Salinas or Elko.

In the meantime, I'm still stuck writing about poker and keeping my fingers crossed that someone out there will give me a shot as a novelist. I still have dreams.

I finished Malcolm Gladwell's Blink, which Wil recommended to me. I suggest you take a look at Blink. Definitely a book that makes you think about perception and gut feelings.

A friend (who's entire friendship I have to question now... please read on) sent me a copy of A Million Little Pieces. I was excited to read it until I saw a big fat fuckin' circle on the cover that said "Oprah's Book Club."

I threw it out.

I'm such an asshole. I called that friend up and apologized to her voicemail.

She cried when she called me back. Good for her. Usually I get uncomfortable when women cry. But she deserved this one. She knew better than to give me a goddammed Oprah book. This is the horrible result of a relocation from hipster section of town to a tony little suburb. The change in tap water is enough to melt your mind. She became one of those people... who give real writers commercial books to mess with their heads.

That's the type of shit that gets you on "To Kill" lists just n case anarchy takes form like it did on the streets of the Big Easy in the days post-Hurricane Katrina.

She tried to pitch me on the, "Don't give up on a great piece of literature just because Oprah's involvement."

"I'm sorry, sweetie. But literature and Oprah should not be mentioned in the same breath. I'm naming the next hooker in a future book after you now."

I've been listening to a ton of Pink Floyd. I go through phases where I devour a ton of material from a band in a short period. I like to compare and contrast their different periods. It reminds me that all great creative people such as writers, musicians, and painters all have different periods and styles where their external life and inspirations influence the direction of their work.

It's very important to take a look at the writer I was reading the most before I started a book. That inspiration sets the tone. In the past Haruki Murakami, Philip Roth, Henry Miller, and Earnest Hemingway were a few authors who individually influenced the direction of four different books that I have written. Right now, I've been reading a lot of Kurt Vonnegut and reading a ton of Kierkagaard. I'm sure somehow those two are going to affect how I write.

Time to read for an hour then win some money on Poker Stars.

Monday, December 26, 2005

The 26th

I played a ton of online poker the last few days. I won a fair amount. I was down a ton as of last week and managed to win back 30% of my losses. Ups and downs.

Some presents:
  • Derek gave me a new printer.
  • Molly bought me Raymi's book Marketable Depression. I read it twice and jerked off 14 times to it.
  • Briana gave me Clerks on DVD, the 10th anniversary edition.
  • My mom bought me socks.
I hung out with Briana late late last night. She had an horrible Christmas dinner and I hope she blogs about it. Consider this a sneak preview. One of her family members took too many pain killers and shit their pants passing out in the bathroom in the process. One of her aunts lied and said she was in Maui when everyone else knew she was getting cosmetic surgery. Someone's pregnant and one cousin is gay and living in Portugal with a former-Norwegian pop star. Man, my Christmas was rather boring. Some good food but no drama.

This morning I ate at the diner with Briana. I got a choclate shake, French Toast, bacon, and cheese fries. She barely touched her breakfast special, some sort of omelete. I ended up eating her bacon, wheat toast, and hash browns. Afterwards, I took an almost empty subway to Queens to my buddy Bruce's place. He gave me a ton of Pink Floyd to add to my musical collection including several live shows including Dark Side of the Moon live in Tokyo.
RIP Daddy
"There he goes. One of God's own prototypes. Some kind of high powered mutant never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die." - Hunter S. Thompson
Snailtrax is no more. I'm sad but feel honored that I got to catch a glimpse into Daddy's world. I admire the bravery it took write what he posted and I admire the courage it took to walk away on top. The last thing Daddy said to me before he pulled the plug on his site, "Blogs are gay."

Please out of respect, let the (fat) man walk off into the sunset without any guilt trips.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

My Christmas Wish

31 years ago today...

Last year I asked my friends who were poker bloggers to take some of their bankroll and buy presents for sick kids or poor kids. Many of them took it to heart and did just that. Otis understood what I was trying to get everyone to do and took my suggestion to another level. I was blown away by the impact a few words on my blog can do.

This year, I'm doing the same.

My Christmas Wish? Within the first week of the New Year, I want you to do at least one unselfsh thing and help out someone in your community.

It can be a friend or family member, but try to make it for someone you do not know. I'm trying to inspire you to do a random act of kindness towards a stranger. Hopefully these kind acts will trickle throughout the cosmos. I've done a lot to hurt my karma this past year and I'm trying to repair it with a bunch of duct tape and My Christmas Wish.

I know that at least Otis is gonna do this, so how about you? I encourage you ask your friends and families to do the same. I figure that if at least 100 bloggers and 1,000 readers can do this, then that will mean 1,100 more smiles on people's faces during this holiday season.
Auggie Wren's Christmas Story

Here's some Christmas stats:
Times I said "Feliz Navidad" to hot Puerto Ricans chicks on the subway: 14
Christmas cards I got: 4 (Skippy, Jenna, Jaxia, and one of my editors)
Copies of Chasing Amy on DVD that I got as presents: 4
Times I Watched A Christmas Story: 0
Times I Said, "Fuck, ____ is gay?": 32


One of the most popular Google searches this time of year is for Auggie Wren's Christmas story written by one of my favorite NYC authors, Paul Auster. So this year, I'm gonna just repost it. So enjoy it and have a Merry Christmas.


Written by Paul Auster

I heard this story from Auggie Wren. Since Auggie doesn't come off too well in it, at least not as well as he'd like to, he's asked me not to use his real name. Other than that, the whole business about the lost wallet and the blind woman and the Christmas dinner is just as he told it to me.

Auggie and I have known each other for close to 11 years now. He works behind the counter of a cigar store on Court Street in downtown Brooklyn, and since it's the only store that carries the little Dutch cigars I like to smoke, I go in there fairly often. For a long time, I didn't give much thought to Auggie Wren. He was the strange little man who wore a hooded blue sweatshirt and sold me cigars and magazines, the impish, wisecracking character who always had something funny to say about the weather or the Mets or the politicians in Washington, and that was the extent of it.

But then one day several years ago he happened to be looking through a magazine in the store, and he stumbled across a review of one of my books. He knew it was me because a photograph accompagnied the review, and after that things changed between us. I was no longer just another customer to Auggie, I had become a distinguished person. Most people couldn't care less about books and writers, but it turned out that Auggie considered himself an artist. Now that he had cracked the secret of who I was, he embraced me as an ally, a confidant, a brother-in-arms. To tell the truth, I found it rather embarrassing. Then almost inevitably, a moment came when he asked if I would he willing to look at his photographs. Given his enthusiasm and good will, there didn't seem to be any way I could turn him down.

God knows what I was expecting. At the very least, it wasn't what Auggie showed me the next day. In a small, windowless room at the back of the store, he opened a cardboard box and pulled out 12 identical black photo albums. This was his life's work, he said, and it didn't take him more than five minutes a day to do it. Every morning for the past 12 years, he had stood at the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Clinton Street at precisely 7 O'clock and had taken a single color photograph of precisely the same view. The project now ran to more than 4 000 photographs. Each album represented a different year, and all the pictures were laid out in sequence, from January I to December 31, with the dates carefully recorded under each one.

As I flipped through the albums and began to study Auggie's work, I didn't know what to think. My first impression was that it was the oddest, most bewildering thing I had ever seen. All the pictures were the same. The whole Project was a numbing onslaught of repetition, the same street and the same buildings over and over again, an unrelenting delirium of redundant images. I couldn't think of anything to say to Auggie, so I continued turning pages, nodding my head in feigned appreciation. Auggie himself seemed unperturbed, watching me with a broad smile on his face, but after I’d been at it for several minutes, he suddenly interrupted me and said, "You're going too fast. You'll never get it if you don't slow down.

He was right, of course. If you don't take the time to look, you'll never manage to see anything. I picked up another album and forced myself to go more deliberately. I paid closer attention to details, took note of shifts in the weather, watched for the changing angles of light as the seasons advances. Eventually, I was able to detect subtle differences in the traffic flow, to anticipate the rhythm of the different days (the commotion of workday mornings, the relative stillness of weekends, the contrast between Saturdays and Sundays). And then, little by little, I began to recognize the faces of the people in the background, the passers-by on their way to work, the same people in the same spot every morning, living an instant of their lives in the field of Auggie's camera.

Once I got to know them, I began to study their postures, the way they carried themselves from one morning to the next, trying to discover their moods from these surface indications, as if I could imagine stories for them, as if I could penetrate the invisible dramas locked inside their bodies. I picked up another album. I was no longer bored, no longer puzzled as I had been at first. Auggie was photographing time, I realized, both natural time and human time, and he was doing it by planting himself in one tiny corner of the world and willing it to be his own, by standing guard in the space he had chosen for himself. As he watched me pore over his work, Auggie continued to smile with pleasure. Then, almost as if he had been reading my thoughts, he began to recite a line from Shakespeare. "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow", he muttered under his breath, "time creeps on its petty pace". I understood then that he knew exactly what he was doing.

That was more than two thousand pictures ago. Since that day, Auggie and I have discussed his work many times, but it was only last week that I learned how he acquired his camera and started taking pictures in the first place. That was the subject of the story he told me, and I'm still struggling to make sense of it.

Earlier that same week, a man from The New York Times called me and asked if I would be willing to write a short story that would appear in the paper on Christmas morning. My first impulse was to say no, but the man was very charming and persistent, and by the end of the conversation I told him I would give it a try. The moment I hung up the phone, however, I fell into a deep panic. What did I know about Christmas ? I asked myself. What did I know about writing short stories on commission ?

I spent the next several days in despair, warring with the ghosts of Dickens, 0. Henry and other masters of the Yuletide spirit. The very phrase "Christmas story" had unpleasant associations for me, evoking dreadful outpourings of hypocritical mush and treacle. Even at their best, Christmas stories were no more than wish-fulfillment dreams, fairy tales for adults, and I'd be damned if I'd ever allowed myself to write an unsentimental Christmas story ? It was a contradiction in terms, an impossibility, an out-and-out conundrum. One might just as well try to imagine a racehorse without legs, or a sparrow without wings.

I got nowhere. On Thursday I went out for a long walk, hoping the air would clear my head. Just past noon, I stopped in at the cigar store to replenish my supply, and there was Auggie, standing behind the counter as always. He asked me how I was. Without really meaning to, I found myself unburdening my troubles to him. "A Christmas story ?" he said after I had finished. "Is that all ? If you buy me lunch, my friend, I'll tell you the best Christmas story you ever heard. And I guarantee that every word of it is true".

We walked down the block to Jack's, a cramped and boisterous delicatessen with good pastrami sandwiches and photographs of old Dodger teams hanging on the walls. We found a table at the back, ordered our food, and then Auggie launched into his story.

"It was the summer of '72", he said. "A kid came in one morning and started stealing things from the store. He must have been about 19 or 20, and I don't think I've ever seen a more pathetic shoplifter in my life. He's standing by the rack of paperbacks along the far wall and stuffing books into the pockets of his raincoat. It was crowded around the counter just then so I didn't see him at first. But once I noticed what he was up to, I started to shout. He took off like a jackrabbit, and by the time I managed to get out from behind the counter, he was already tearing down Atlantic Avenue. I chased after him for about half a block, and then I gave up. He'd dropped something along the way, and since I didn't feel like running anymore, I bent down to see what it was.

"It turned out to be his wallet. There wasn't any money inside, but his driver's license was there along with three or four snapshots. I suppose I could have called the cops and had him arrested. I had his name and address from the license, but I felt kind of sorry for him. He was just a measly little punk, and once I looked at those pictures in his wallet, I couldn't bring myself to feel very angry at him. Robert Goodwin. That was his name. In one of the pictures, I remember, he was standing with his arm around his mother or grand-mother. In another one, he was sitting there at age nine or ten dressed in a baseball uniform with a big smile on his face. I just didn't have the heart. He was probably on dope now, I figured. A poor kid from Brooklyn without much going for him, and who cared about a couple of trashy paperbacks anyway ?

"So I held onto the wallet. Every once in a while I'd get a little urge to send it back to him, but I kept delaying and never did anything about it. Then Christmas rolls around and I'm stuck with nothing to do. The boss usually invites me over to his house to spend the day, but that year he and his family were down in Florida visiting relatives. So I'm sitting in my apartment that morning feeling a little sorry for myself, and then I see Robert Goodwin's wallet lying on a shelf in the kitchen. I figure what the hell, why not do something nice for once, and I put on my coat and go out to return the wallet in person.

"The address was over in Boerum Hill, somewhere in the projects. It was freezing out that day, and I remember getting lost a few times trying to find the right building. Everything looks the same in that place, and you keep going over the same ground thinking you're somewhere else. Anyway, I finally get to the apartment I'm looking for and ring the bell. Nothing happens. I assume no one's there, but I try again just to make sure. I wait a little longer, and just when I'm about to give up, I hear someone shuffling to the door. An old woman's voice asks who's there, and I say I'm looking for Robert Goodwin. 'Is that you, Robert ?' the old woman says, and then she undoes about 15 locks and opens the door.

"She has to be at least 80, maybe 90 years old, and the first thing I notice about her is that she's blind. 'I knew you'd come, Robert,' she says. 'I knew you wouldn't forget your Granny Ethel on Christmas'. And then she opens her arms as if she's about to hug me.

"I didn't have much time to think, you understand. I had to say something real fast, and before I knew what was happening, I could hear the words coming out of my mouth. 'That's right, Granny Ethel', I said. 'I came back to see you on Christmas'. Don't ask me why I did it. I don't have any idea. Maybe I didn't want to disappoint her or something. I don't know. It just came out that way, and then this old woman was suddenly hugging me there in front of the door, and I was hugging her back.

"I didn't exactly say that I was her grandson. Not in so many words, at least, but that was the implication. I wasn't trying to trick her, though. It was like a game we'd both decided to play without having to discuss the rules. I mean, that woman knew I wasn't her grandson Robert. She was old and dotty, but she wasn't so far gone that she couldn't tell the difference between a stranger and her own flesh and blood. But it made her happy to pretend, and since I had nothing better to do anyway, I was happy to go along with her.

"So we went into the apartment and spent the day together. The place was a real dump, I might add, but what else can you expect from a blind woman who does her own housekeeping ? Every time she asked me a question about how I was, I would lie to her. I told her I'd found a good job working in a cigar store, I told her I was about to get married, I told her a hundred pretty stories, and she made like she believed every one of then. "that's fine, Robert " , she would say nodding her head and smiling. "I always knew things would work out for you.".

"After a while, I started getting pretty hungry. There didn't seem to be much food in the house, so I went out to a store in the neighborhood and brought back a mess of stuff. A precooked chicken, vegetable soup, a bucket of potato salad, a chocolate cake, all kinds of things. Ether had a couple of bottles of wine stashed in her bedroom, and so between us we managed to put together a fairly decent Christmas dinner. We both got a little tipsy from the wine, I remember, and after the meal was over we went out to sit in the living room, where the chairs were more comfortable. I had to take a pee, so I excused myself and went to the bathroom down the hall. That's where things took yet another tum. I was ditsy enough doing my little jig as Ethel's grandson, but what I did next was positively crazy, and I've never forgiven myself for it. I go into the bathroom, and stacked up against the wall next to the shower, I see a pile of six or seven cameras. Brand-new 35 millimeter cameras, still in their boxes, top-quality merchandise. I figure this is the work of the real Robert, a storageplace for one of his recent hauls. I've never taken a picture in my life, and I've certainly never stolen anything, but the moment I see those cameras sitting in the bathroom, I decide I want one of them for myself. Just like that. And without even stopping to think about it, I tuck one of the boxes under my arm and go back to the living room.

"I couldn't have been gone for more than three minutes, but in that time Granny Ethel had fallen asleep in her chair. Too much Chianti, I suppose. I went into the kitchen to wash the dishes, and she slept on through the whole racket, snoring like a baby. There didn't seem to be any point in disturbing her, so I decided to leave. I couldn't even write a note to say goodbye, seeing that she was blind and all, and so I just left. I put her grandson's wallet on the table, picked up the camera again, and walked out of the apartment. And that's the end of the story".

"Did you ever go back to see her ?" I asked.

"Once", he said. "About three of four months later. I felt so bad about stealing the camera, I hadn't even used it yet. I finally made up my mind to return it, but Ethel wasn't there anyrnore. I don't know what happened to her, but someone else had moved into the apartment, and he couldn't tell me where she was".

"She probably died".

"Yeah, probably".

"Which means that she spent her last Christmas with you".

"1 guess so. I never thought of it that way".

"It was a good deed, Auggie. it was a nice thing you did for her".

"I lied to her, and then I stole from her. I don't see how you can call that a good deed".

"You made her happy. And the camera was stolen anyway. It's not as if the person you took it from really owned it".

"Anything for art, eh Paul ?"

"I wouldn't say that. But at least you've put the camera to good use".

"And now you've got your Christmas story, don't you ?"

"Yes", I said. "I suppose I do".

I paused for a moment, studying Auggie as a wicked grin spread across his face. I couldn't be sure, but the look in his eyes at that moment was so mysterious, so fraught with the glow of some inner delight, that it suddenly occured to me that he had made the whole thing up. I was about to ask him if he'd been putting me on, but then I realized he would never tell. I had been tricked into believing him, and that was the only thing that mattered. As long as there's one person to believe it, there's no story that can't be true.

"You're an ace, Auggie", I said. "Thanks for being so helpful".

"Any time", he answered, still looking at me with that maniacal light in his eyes. "After all, if you can't share your secrets with your friends, what kind of a friend are you ?"

"I guess I owe you one"

"No you don't. Just put it down the way I told it to you, and you don't owe me a thing".

"Except the lunch".

"That's right. Except the lunch".

I returned Auggie's smile with a smile of my own, and then I called out to the waiter and asked for the check.

This story was originally a NY Times piece and also appeared in the film Smoke staring Harvey Kietel and William Hurt.

Saturday, December 24, 2005


I'm back in NYC and slept the entire morning. That never happens. I call it exhaustion after a month on the road and flying NYC to Vegas twice. Got up eventually and finished up the latest issue of Truckin'. Then I wrote for a few hours.

I finally caught up on reading through everything in my bloglines folder. Even the bad blogs. Change100 posted a trip report on her blog about her few days in Las Vegas last week. I loved these excerpts, although I was extremely uncomfortable when the second part went down:
Grubby and I were seated at the same table, while Pauly played at the table behind ours. The two of them continued a weeks-long stretch of prop betting by wagering on my first drink order. Grubby won by taking the more practical choice of Red Bull and Vodka to Pauly’s Soco rocks. The Dr. was thinking with the wrong head on that one.


Not too long after he sat down, Pauly got recognized by a fan. He is, after all, somewhat of a journalistic celebrity in certain Vegas circles, not to mention a huge cult figure in Canada. Of course I had to grab a cocktail napkin and a pen and run over and ask for his autograph to tilt him a little.
I still am way behind in reading email. I seriously need an intern to do stuff like that. I read all of my snail mail which included a few Christmas cards, random magazines, a ton of sales catalouges, junk mail, casino promotions, a few bills, and not one fuckin' freelance check. I'm still waiting to get paid on a few things. I ripped up most of my mail and sorted through the random free stuff that I get like any sort of book on poker or gambling. Usually a marketing or PR person gets my name on some sort of influential media list and sends me a free copy of their client's latest book hoping I'd write a review on my blog or for one of the different organizations that publish my shit. I always think I should read them cover to cover for karmic reasons because I'm afraid that one day a PR rep will send out one of my books and some dickhead reviewer will barely skim it over a early morning shit after eating bad Indian food the night before.

I ate pizza and chicken parm heros with Derek and finally watched The OC Christmaskah episode on TiVo. I also caught some of Tournament of Champions on ESPN. I spotted some friends of mine from the poker media in a few background shots. Also watched a little football with Derek before I played in a PLO tournament on Poker Stars with Nerd and Derek. I had a few railbirds like April and Alan. I came in a disappointing 104th out of 324. Overall, I put up three winning days in a row.

I've been looking for an empty block of time to sit down, write, and avoid the world for a while to concentrate on my art for months now. I got one in early 2006. In many ways I'm putting a ton of pressure on myself. For the first time ever, I just don't have to finish a book, but it has to be fuckin' good and the best I ever wrote. Yep, I'm setting myself up to fail. Don't worry. I'll be OK. I just like to challenge myself before I start a huge project. I know I can do it. The hard part will be the next few days waiting in anticipation to write.

Robert Redford spoke about how it was important to have a place to retreat to especially during periods of hard and intense work. I don't have that unfortunately. I've been on the road most if not all of this year and haven't spent more than 80 days in one place at one time. I'm going to try to take it easy next week and read books in order to prep myself for 15 intense days of writing.

Recent Writing Music...
1. U2
2. Widespread Panic
3. Velvet Underground
4. John Coltrane with Thelonius Monk
5. Wayne Shorter

Friday, December 23, 2005

Catch Up

I posted two winning days in a row in Las Vegas. My losing streak is over. I'm still alive but the friends in my life will not be getting awesome presents this year. My yule-tide generosity has diminished this year due to my gambling loses.

I've got a half-a-million items to read in my bloglines fodler. I'm slowly catching up with them. A ton of NY TImes Opinions & Editorials and plenty of blogs both poker and regular. I skimmed a ton of shit and speed read the rest. I have no time to do basic tuff anymore. I took three hours the last three days trying to catch up with email... and I'm still behind.

I have come to the conclusion that some people on this planet should not be allowed to drive a car, breed, and have a blog. Some of these assholes do all three. You are infecting our planet with a pending car wreck, reatrded children (who will continue to corrupt the gene pool), and God-awful terrible stories on poorly written blogs.

Sure we all think we're more intersting than what we blog about. But in my defense, I have tons of shit that I can't blog about for many reasons. And that's the real intersting shit... the stuff that goes on in my life that I'm holding back.

I'm gonna stop reading blogs for a while. Some poker blogs out there make me cringe. At some point I want to say, "I dunno what you worse at... poker or writing."

I've been working on Truckin' the past two days. It should be up soon! Last deadline of 2005 and I couldn't be happier. I'm finally done with freelance work and I'll be taking the rest of the year off.

"Well deserved," Daddy told me earlier. "You crushed this year."

Man, and the Knicks won tonight. What the fuck?
Tool of the Man

Congrats to Marty who won Wil's Thursday night tournament on Poker Stars. I blew a 4 to 1 chiplead at the final table to Marty and came in 2nd place. Great job, dude. Thanks to Wil for hosting and everyone for sweating at the end.

Here's who made the final table:
1: Tooloftheman aka Marty (Saint Louis), $176.00 (40%)
2: DrPauly (New York), $105.60 (24%)
3: yestbay1 (Grapevine), $70.40 (16%)
4: Darzog (Stevens Point), $52.80 (12%)
5: gristle69 (Atlanta), $35.20 (8%)
6: 787Style (Austin)
7: Arcon (Roy)
8: ZeemJr (Bellevue)
9: Hughesers (Spencer)

In a random side note, Wil was on megatilt in the tourney and he got on even more ubertilt after he was sucked out on twice in a row in an SNG. He called me to vent. I listened and when Wil was done venting, I said, "Dude, you owe $2 for those bad beat stories."

He ended up sending me the funds...
Hello DrPauly,

We have transferred $2.00 to your account as requested by 'Wil Wheaton'.

Good luck to you both.
PokerStars Cashier

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Vegas Slacker

I have not been updating my regular blog much. I have lots to say, but have been too tired the last few days to say it. Been busy losing money and writing. I was sick on Sunday and bounced back remarkable on Monday. I took Nyquil and slept 7 hours straight, which is about almost 2x what I get on a normal night. I've been drinking Airborne and I can't tell if it works or it's just a placebo.

Senor and my team lost in the second round of the playoffs. Uncle Jodd's Band went 1-1 this year in the postseason. We were one victory away from the Superbowl. We took 3rd this year and have improved every year we've been in the league. Next year.

Grubby and I have been eating a lot of buffets here in Vegas. His key to busting the buffet is ordering high end items like the seafood and the special meats. Last week Derek and Spaceman went to the Bellagio buffet and feasted on the Kobe beef. Green Valley Ranch makes you milk shakes in the dessert station.

On Monday, Flipchip bought me, Grubby, and Poker Prof filet mignon's at The Palm. Good ass eats. It was our Christmas dinner of sorts. Change100 drove all the way from Hollyweird to gamble for a few days at the start of her two week vacation. We've been playing and gambling a lot. Unfortunately, I'm down over $3500 since Halloween. I've been in one of the worst losing streaks of my life. Hanging out with Change100 is awesome because shehas tons of Hollyweird gossip, like who's very gay (his intials are VV) and who's pregnant but not by who we think she is? And stuff like that.

On Monday night (or early Tuesday morning), Grubby and I got propositioned by a hooker in the Excalibur. Around 4:45am, we were headed back to chez Grubby. I wanted a Krispy Kreme for the ride home. We went upstairs to the food court and I got an apple fritter. On our way down the escalator, a hooker had just got off the up escalator. She stopped and stood next to me on the way down.

"Is there a donut in there for me?"

"No," I said.

"Awww, why weren't you thinking about me?"

I wanted to say, "Hey honey, if I didnt drop $300 tonight I'd consider the thought of watching you suck Change100's toes for ten minutes straight while Grubby threw peanuts at you."

Instead I shrugged my shoulders. That's when she shouted, "George!"

For no reason at all she yelled "George!"

I laughed because that was the name of the guy I met a few hours earlier. She told Grubby that her grandfather's name was George. There's no point to this story. Aside from the fact that some random hooker shouted out, "George" on an escalator in the Excalibur.

She asked me where we were headed.

"Back home. We live here," I said.

The best way to get rid of a hooker is to tell them that you are a local. That's my Las Vegas tip of the day.

Moving on...

I played in an online poker tournament yesterday at Poker Stars. It was one of Wil Wheaton's tourneys. I came in 28th out of 29. I was seated at the same table as Jaxia. And she bluffed me off of a pot. She almost made the final table and would have it weren't for a bad beat.

I lost a ton of money playing poker last night at MGM. Oh well. Derek called me while I was playing to tell me that the Yankees signed Johnny Damon.

I was supposed to have this week and next week off from covering tournaments and doing freelance work. Out of nowhere, someone who's pretty big in the online community asked me to do some work for him. They pay was too good to pass up, so I agreed to do about three days of work for him (which I spread out over four days). It's nothing too difficult, but it takes a lot of research. The writing part is easy. Anyway it's a nice way to end 2005 with one of the biggest checks of the year.

Speaking of which, I already informaly agreed to a work assignment in LA in February. That means I got about two weeks on assignment in Atlantic City at the end of January and at least one week in California in February. It might turn into two plus weeks. I know I have to be in Las Vegas in mid-March.

Grubby left for Long Beach this afternoon and I have a room on the Strip for a few more nights. I head back to NYC this weekend. I dunno how I'm gonna get home from the airport with the transit strike. Oh well. He took me slot whoring today at Silverton. I won $22. First time I won something all week.

Ah... and Grubby gave me my Christmas present... a copy of Chasing Amy. What a fuckin' asshole!

That's it for now. I have to finish up wiritng for another two hours then I can unleash myself into the casino to play some poker and bullshit with dipshit tourists from Bumblefuck, Iowa.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Daddy's Interview, Meet the Heads, and Cocaine in a Can Baby!!

First of all, I conducted the funniest interview of all fuckin' time with Daddy. It took place last Saturday at the Imperial Palace in the ballroom. If you don't know Daddy slept through the blogger's tournament and we were both obliterated wasted when we did this bit. We also try to squeeze in the phrase "BG is a pussy!" as many time as possible.
Daddy's Donkey Fucker Interview (wav file)
Also, last Sunday night I caught a tender moment with Human Head and his lovely wife. Iggy, Spaceman, and Derek watched the clip looped for thirty minutes straight the other night. It never gets old. You have to check out that clip as well! Loop the fucker and zone out.
Meet the Heads (avi file)
Thanks to Iggy for helping me with the tech stuff. Seriously, these two bits are friggin' classic and is part of the reason I friggin' love all the parties involved.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Random Las Vegas Picture Dump

I took the majority of these last week:

Jaxia, Me, Bad Blood & Jen Leo

Fear Maudie

Derek, Bobby Bracelet, Spaceman, & Me

Goosing Gracie!

G Vegas crew: Otis, G-Rob, and CJ

Jen Leo & Jaxia

Derek, Bobby Bracelet, & Spacemen

Penguins at the Bellagio

Christmas decorations at the Bellagio Conservatory

The Rooster

Friday, December 16, 2005

Back to the Bellagio

I'm currently live blogging the final table of the WPT Five Diamond Classic at the Bellagio over on my poker blog.

I also posted the first two parts of my Las Vegas trip reports over there too. Be sure to check out:
Bloggers in Wonderland Part 2: The Five Boobs and Champion Glyphic
Bloggers in Wonderland Part 1: Midnight Riders
Anyway, I've been staying at the Imperial Palace. I still think it's very ghetto. But as Derek said yesterday, it's got the perfect location and in walking distance of the Wynn and the Bellagio where I've been working all week. It's about a five minute stroll from the IP to the Bellagio. Oh, and the Bellagio has some of the coolest Christmas decorations in all of Las Vegas. I decided to stay at IP instead of getting a rental car and staying with Grubby and driving to work. Tonight's my last night there and I'll head back to Grubby's tomorrow. I'm scheduled to come back to NYC on Christmas Eve, but I'm trying to get an earlier flight. We shall see.

I had breakfast with Bobby Bracelet this morning. He had free buffet comps at the Monte Carlo and I ended up missing breakfast and getting lunch. They make pasta however you want it. SO I asked for garlic, mushrooms, chicken, onions, and sausages sauteed in a marinara sauce. I spiced it up with lots of red pepper so I techically had some spicy pasta for lunch.

Last night Derek and I ate at the buffet at Palace Station. Grubby had two extra free buffet comps. Free food in Vegas rocks. The other night Grubby and I took Derek to In & Out Burger for the first time.

I got more than five hours of sleep last night for the first time in over a month. I was up until 4am writing and managed to sleep until 9:30 when my starting ringing off the hook. I woke up and wrote until Bobby called me. I also had lengthy conversations with Maudie, Iggy, Briana, and a quickie call with Molly. Stop by Molly's blog and wish her well. She just had foot surgery.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Stuck in a Spin

I have not posted in almost a week. That has never happened here. The Tao is the way. And right now, the way is a dark and dismal place.

What the fuck happened?

I'm caught in a heavy spin right now. The dark side of Las Vegas has driven me insane again. An incident late last night set me off. I played in a poker tournament at the Sahara with my brother. I got my pocket aces cracked by a hand where I was a 3-1 favorite. That happens. It's poker. And I cover poker for a living now, so I know that it happens all the time. Instead of just going with the flow and accepting that "bad beats happen in life" I allowed all that negativity to bombard me.

It's only been a week since we buried my grandmother. In that short span of time I've been on a rollercaoster of emotion. The last few days has seen a few people in my life flip out on me. Some of it is deserved but I'm not in the headspace to just move on. The bad vibes and emotions are festering and gnawing at my insides like a cancerous rhinoceros.

I should be feeling super happy. I had a 4 day fun-filled party with some of my best friends who flew into Las Vegas from all over the country. I also met some people that I've been dying to meet for up to two years. So what happened?

The party is over and I'm hungover on life. Somedays you just want to curl up into a little ball and die.

The pressures of work are overwhelming sometimes. The entire weight of the entire poker blogging community and parts of the real poker community are always on my shoulders. That's too much weight for me to bare.

I'm not just burnt out. I'm dead tired. And I don't know what to do. I'm stuck in a heavy spin and I'm just waiting to crash. Physically and mentally.

I've been spending the last few days with my brother and a few friends trying to ignore all these feelings. I've done a terrible job at work. I'm supposed to be at the Bellagio covering a poker tournament and I'm doing the worst job I've ever done. I simply don't care anymore. I've lost the passion to write and the enjoyment of covering poker tournaments has disappeared. I don't even want to escape from my reality into a heavy drug binge.

I've been avoiding posting here because I have too much pride to let my friends see me have a mental breakdown on my blog.

It's too late. I miss my grandmother terribly. I've lost $3K since Halloween. I'd like to cry but I'm too tired for tears. A friend of mine said she'd give me lots of hugs if she was here now. But even the warmth of her skin is not enough to pull me out of this spin.

I have to find the courage and get my shit together myself.

It's 9:30am in Las Vegas and I'm peeking into the dark abyss of humanity.

I keep staring at this picture and it's been soothing.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Back to Vegas

Derek and I arrived in Vegas around 10:30pm local time. F Train happened to be on our same JetBlue flight from JFK. I got stuck in the last row near the bathroom. At least I got to hang out with the flight attendant who knows who I am. My last 4 flights to/from vegas, she's been working that flight. She knows what I want to drink by now and gives me extra cookies.

I watched The OC and saw Trey on Jay Leno.

Grubby and Iggy picked us up at the airport. We dropped out stuf off at the Imperial Palace. I tipped the front desk girl $100 to upgrade us to a better room since the IP is seriously ghetto for a Strip casino. We have a balcony on the 14th floor overlooking the Strip. Tipping gets you a long way in Vegas.

I met up with everyone at the Excalibr and Otis was the first to greet me with a warm hug. I met Joanne for the first time. I played poker with Otis' brother and Derek there until 5am before we headed back to the IP, where I found HDouble, Ephro and BG playing blackjack. I crashed around 6am and didn't sleep very well.

Just got up and waiting for Daddy and Jaxia to arrive.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Pot Bust

There was a huge ass bust of one of the largest home-marijuana-delivery services in NYC. And no, I was not involved.
Recent Writing Music...
1. Galactic
2. Phish
3. Thelonious Monk with John COltrane
4. Charlie Mingus
5. Velvet Underground

Thanks to everyone who sent me well wishes over the past few days via email, text messgaes, phone calls, and IMs. It's good to know I have plenty of supportive people out there.

I'm about to head out to Las Vegas. I have work and a blogger get together. I'm looking forward to having fun over the next few days. Thanks again everyone.

Sunday, December 04, 2005


My grandmother died on Saturday morning of a heart attack. She was 93. I saw her a few moments in the ICU before I left NYC and headed to Vegas. I decided to leave for my month trip because she woke up from her coma and seemed like she would be better. Unfortunately she wasn't and had two (or three) heart attacks. The last one killed her.

When I left the hospital that day I wondered if that would be the last time I saw her. It was. Whenever I embark on a long journey I always made the effort to stop by and she her. I knew that she was old and that could be the last time I see her. The hardest part about traveling so much the last ten or so years was knowing that my grandmother (or any family member or friends) would die while I was away. That was one of my biggest fears... having to cut short a holiday to come home. I had to do that.

I was over 3,000 miles away in Long Beach when I found out she died. And getting home was harder than I thought. I had to drive four plus hours to Las Vegas then get on a plane and fly five plus hours home. I had a free flight coming to me on JetBlue and I could not pick the dates/flights I wanted. I got stuck with a redeye on Monday night arriving Tuesday morning. As of now, there have been no funeral arrangements made but they will be made very soon.

I'm not overly upset at the loss of my grandmother. I feel more sad for my mother and her brothers and sister. My grandmother was old and after she survived a stroke 20 months ago, I accepted that she was in the last stages of her life. That time was bonus time I told myself. And in that span she hit a few slots jackpots at Mohegan Sun. She took down $10K one trip and ht a few small jackpots worth a few grand. Whenever she won she'd always give me and Derek a small cut. I guess that's why whenever I come into money, I'm always sharing it as much as I can.

Some people are just plain lucky and based on her tough life, I'm sure she would tell you that she got lucky in life more than once. Sadly, in the last chapter of her life, my grandmother was severely depressed. Although she had a quick mind, it was slipping and she was not as mobile as she used to be. This prevented her from taking long walks through the neighborhood. She couldn't go to the grocery store a few blocks away without a cane and someone to keep an eye on her.

She also stopped going to church. Everyone thought she had too much pride and didn't want the other parishioners see her have to walk with a cane. The real reason was that she was angry at God. In her eyes, God let her down. I suspect that when she had her stroke, she didn't want to survive. She was stronger than she expected and recovered, but not without a reminder of how awful it is to be stuck in a hospital with tubes sticking out of you and being hooked up to machines and having strange nurses poke you with holes for blood samples. When she was in the stroke ward, the guy next to her was crazy. He would scream uncontrollably because he wanted morphine and pain killers. The doctors wouldn't give him any so he would yell non-stop and rip off his gown until the nurses sedated him. I was watching one of his incidents one afternoon when I visited my grandmother and I was horrified by the wailing naked old guy. In my grandmother's eyes, she was in hell's waiting room and she couldn't get out. She asked God to take her right there on the spot but refused. She's been pissed off ever since.

When I first arrived in LA, I checked my email/messages. My mother wrote me. This was one line about my grandmother that was hard to stomach:
She was saying that when she gets home she was going to jump out the window. Anyway, I hope when she starts to eat something, maybe she'll feel differently. I hope so.
My mother thought it was just a phase or a state of mind that would change that some food would cure. I took those words seriously. My grandmother lived enough life and she wanted to leave the party. When I found out she had a heart attack I was relieved. No one should have to wait to die like that. Last week, when I stood over my grandmother and seeing all those tubes in her, my eyes filled with tears. I wasn't sad that I was going to lose her. I was angry, ashamed, and confused on why we were torturing her like that. That's no way to die. She deserved better and that's a tough decision that certain family members are going to have to deal with for the rest of their lives. She was in too much pain and if there is a higher being, then God finally answered her prayers.

I have to deal with some family stuff in NYC before I return to Las Vegas for work. I am hoping I can make it back before the weekend to see all my friends who are coming into Vegas for a poker bloggers tournament. Honestly, I don't know if that is going to happen. It's out of my hands now.

I have too many sad things to say about my memories both good and bad. I'm going to keep those too myself for now. I have written them out and will continue to do so but will not post them. I think this will be a good time to take a break from blogging for a while.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

West LA Fadeaway

I played poker last night in West LA at my buddy HDouble's place. You can read all about the festivities including the drive from LA to Vegas... here.

Friday, December 02, 2005

L.A. Bound

Grubby and I are about to head out to L.A. for the weekend.

Last night we ate Panda Express and this morning in ran right through me. Late night I got a shake at In & Out.

We played in a poker tournament at Sahara last night. I took 35th out of 121. Grubby finished in 33rd.

Been writing all morning and time to hit the road.
Hiltons Love the Tao

Thanks to Bruce for the picture!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Back to Vegas

My cab driver to JFK airport turned around and said, "I know you."

Alas, he's not a fan of my blog. He used to be a delivery driver from a pizza place I used to order from at least once a week. Because he thought that he knew me, meant to him that he could engage in idle chit-chat.

I fuckin' hate idle chit-chat, especially from cabbies. I was in a weird mood, a combination of exhausted and sad. I always go through a slight stage of melancholy whenever I leave a place I really like. I wanted to stare out and look at all the skyscrapers and the lights on the office buildings and zone out. My driver wouldn't let me. He played techno-sitar music from India and he kept bitching about the traffic. You know you have a bad cabbie when he's complaining about the traffic. That's like a fisherman bitchin' about the smell.

The woman sitting next to me on my flight was smoking hot. Angela Basset hot. And she was a stripper too. She lied and said she did something else... MAW (model-actress-whatever). That whatever part was stripping. She asked me what I did for a living.

"I produce adult films."

She smiled and handed me her business card. It wasn't much of a card. It was a plain white card and has a pair of lips on it. The only text was her stripper name and an email address.

Oh... and her stripper name? Pinot.

I flew Jetblue to Las Vegas since it's the official airline of the Tao of Pauly. You know you fly an airline too much when the hagged out flight attendants recognize you and know what you want to drink without asking. JetBlue has TVs which is necessary on a 5+ hour flight. I watched the WPT Tournament of Champions II, VH1's one hit wonders, and Naomi Watts get interviewed on Conan O'Brien. I'd sever my left nut to play "hide the salami" for 35 seconds with Naomi. Brandt and Daddy have to pay $100 if they wanna watch.

I never check luggage. It's a suckers bet like insurance in blackjack. Checking bags is extremely -ev. But this time, I had a lot of crap to take with me. Lucky for me, my bag was one of the first to come out. At the rental car counter, they didn't have my reservation number in the system. That's when I told them I was a "Fast Break" elite member. They quickly ushered me outside to a shuttle bus. The driver dropped me off five feet from my rental car and I tipped him $5. That was the fastest rental car pick up in my life.

I drove over to Grubby's to pick him up. We headed to Balboa for dinner. It's located in the mall just outside of Green Valley Ranch andit's five minutes away from chez Grubby. I ate sausage and mushroom thin crust pizza and Maui Waui frieds with a spicy horseradish tartar sauce. I lost my first prop bet of the trip. Last time I arrived in Vegas in October, we were hitting on a cute waitress at Balboa. I bet Grubby $1 that she'd be there. She wasn't.

"It's never a good sign when you lose your first bet in Las Vegas," Grubby reminded me.

I did a double or nothing bet. The debate was the seats on Jetblue planes. Grubby said that the seats in the front of the plane had more legroom. I said it was the back. We just checked online and I was right. We're now even with prop bets and I've only been in Vegas less than two hours.

So it's a little past 1am. Time for some tourist poker and strip clubs!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Thanks Everyone

I'd like to thank everyone who wrote me and called me that send good wishes about what's been going down in my world. My grandmother was in a coma the last few days. She's awake now. She's not 100% but she's well enough for me to make the decision that I can travel for the next month. I hope that when I return to NYC around Christmas Eve, that she'll be doing a lot better.

Now I have to rush to finish packing so I can make my flight to Las Vegas.

The past few weeks have been bittersweet. Plenty of highs and lows. One of the highs was seeing Briana a lot sooner than I expected, heading up to Foxwoods/Rhode Island to spend time with Senor and Jodd, and Spaceman's visit to the city. The obvious lows were having to deal with family stuff this past week. That's never fun especially since all of them are virtual strangers to me. Plus this past week I lost over $1K playing poker. That seems insignificant in the bigger picture. But still, I look at $1K and think... that's a flight to Thailand. Plus the hardest part was dealing with losing yet another book deal. I contributed a few pages to a poker book that was supposed to get published next year. The publishing company yanked it. I'm o for 2 this past month in book deals.

I've worked incredibly hard this year. I've always knew I was a good writer and I finally got some recognition. The amount of work I put into my writing might be equivalent to my output on Wall Street. And I used to work 70-80 hours a week then. I'm really looking forward to ending the year on a positive note. I'm still going to work hard and play hard in December, but when 2005 is over, I'm going to have to sit down and re-think everything I do. Shit, Ive already begun to make changes in my head. In 2006, I hope I can carry them out. I'm gonna travel more and write more for myself. That's something that will have to come first instead of trying to squeeze that into my hectic work schedule.

A friend gave me some advice recently and said, "You can always tell people 'No thanks.'"

I'm going to be using that phrase a lot next year.

Next stop... Las Vegas.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Deadheads Boycott The Dead

Take a peek at this article from Rolling Stone called Deadheads Boycott The Dead. Modeski clued me in on it earlier today. Sounds like a bunch of bullshit to me. But here's the jist:
Grateful Dead fans, perhaps rock's most dedicated bunch, are taking a stand against the band they love. Until recently, Deadheads could download countless live recordings of the band for free from third-party sites, including the popular Live Music Archive (, which once hosted nearly 3,000 Grateful Dead shows. All of the downloads were pulled last week at the request of Grateful Dead Merchandising (GDM), the group that handles official products for the band and is overseen by its surviving members.

Deadheads have answered in protest. In an online petition, fans have pledged to boycott GDM -- including CDs and concert tickets -- until the decision is reversed. (The band itself broke up in the wake of leader Jerry Garcia's 1995 death, but in recent years guitarist Bob Weir, bassist Phil Lesh and drummers Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann have toured simply as "the Dead.")

GDM recently began selling live music downloads through its online store. The sudden lockdown could be a simple non-compete strike, or it could foreshadow a long-rumored deal with iTunes that will make the entire Grateful Dead live vault available for purchase.

Fans were incensed that the policy change applies not only to official soundboards but audience recordings as well. Throughout their four-decade career, the Grateful Dead actively encouraged fans to trade live recordings and even designated a special "taper's section" at the concerts. In return, Deadheads largely respected the band's wishes that the concert recordings weren't sold for profit... More
I blame Jerry Gracia's wife... Debra Koons. She's a cunt. If Jerry were alive, he would never let this happen. He wanted his music to be shared with everyone.
Last 5 Books I Saw People Reading on the Subway...
1. Swan by Frances Mayes
2. The Holy Bible
3. The Final Solution: A Story of Detection by Michael Chabon
4. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
5. Lincoln by David Herbert Donald

Monday, November 28, 2005

Congrats Jerry!

My friends in Miami Jerry & Sarah just had twins! Well Sarah had twin girls. Jerry just watched. When I spoke to Jerry he said that everthing was going great. Congrats.
Lost on a Monday

I am giving myself 15 minutes to write this post. I have no time today. I expect my thoughts to be frazzled and all over the place. But I'm in a rush and only have 14 more minutes to write something for this blog.

Yesterday, I had an unexpected family emergency. And that took up most of my Sunday night. The hard part is that I don't know what's up so I'm stuck in limbo. I'm kinda lost because today is supposed to be the Monday before a big trip. Those days are always hectic and crazy for me. I was supposed to hit the road for a month and I have a ton of shit to do before I depart. That includes heading to the post office, paying bills, doing Christmas shopping, packing, laundry, work, watching the Knicks/Rangers/Jets with Derek, and putting in some qaulity time with everyone's favorite malcontent elevator button heiress, and other random shit.

Right now, all of that is on hold while I wait...

My original plans were to leaving this Wednesday and flying from NYC to Las Vegas via JetBlue the offical airline of the Tao of Pauly. On Friday, Grubby and I would be taking a side trip... a road trip... from Vegas to LA. Should be fun and epic and I expect to play cards with some friends from LA. This roadtrip has been on our agenda for almost a year. While I'm in Vegas, I'll have a week of work covering a poker tournament at the Bellagio and participating in a blogger get together. I want to spend my last week in Las Vegas playing cards and padding my poker bankroll while writing about some Las Vegas stuff. I'll be back in NYC on Christmas Eve.

And now, I'm afraid I might have to wait a few days to fly to Vegas, which means that the LA trip is possibly out.

These past few days are always hectic with the Turkey Day holidays. I usually slip into a seasonal depression right around mid-November and it lasts until late February. Part of that is the weather and most of it is the holidays. In order to combat my lingering seasonal depression, I started scheduling trips in December and January, to help break up the cold winters in NYC. It's not a coincidence that I picked Nevada and Florida as two places for to travel in the Winter. Derek and I have been heading to Las Vegas the last few Decembers to gamble on pro football. Last year, our trip ended up being the center point for the first ever poker bloggers meet up. The last two years I have spent time in Miami with Jerry. I headed down to see Phish for their New Year's shows in 2003. And last year I spent some time relaxing and playing cards.

This year, I intended on spending most of December away. I'm trying to secure a freelance gig to cover a poker tournament in the Bahamas. And if that doesn't happen, I've been kicking around the idea of a trip to Costa Rica, Belize, or South America. Yeah, traveling has always been a viable cure for my dour moods. Since May, it seems that I've been living out of my suitcase.

I've been trying to work on the Vegas book and I'm struggling with it. My probelm is dedicating large chunks of time to make a dent into it. I told myself that the first three weeks of January will be devoted to traveling and working on the book. On a positive note, I have been blazing through my writing assignments/freelance work/personal projects. I made a list of 15-20 things I need to write ASAP, I'm churning them out and since I'm in a good head space, the quality of writing is some of my best.

But now, I have this personal situation to deal with and it's distracting me. I can write but only in short spurts.

Anyway, I have a few more minutes left. Here's what I did this past week... I watched a lot of random movies with Derek and Briana. She's getting back into the Netflix flow and Derek had TiVo'd a ton of shit for me over the past few months when I was traveling. I had to watch a bunch of episodes of The OC and random poker programs so he could erase them. I was using up all the memory on his TiVo! Plus he needs the space to record a bunch of stuff for me over the next month.

I just picked up a new book called Blink. Wil suggested that I read it and it's fascinating. It's my bathroomb ook so I've only read a few pages. I want to finish it by the end of the week. Because I have such a crazy work schedule, one of the hardest things to cope with for me is having to lose valuable reading time. I used to read two or three books a week! That was way before I started blogging and reading blogs.

I got into an argument with someone the other day. They argued that blogging was writing. I told them it's not. Blogging is blogging. Writing is another beast. Some of the best writers I know are horrible bloggers and some of the best bloggers I know are horrible writers. So you figure that one out.

And yes, I think I made three or four different women cry over the past few days. I'm such an asshole. I should be shot. Speaking of getting shot, thank God I smoothed things over with Jaxia. I erased her email that included two of her poems for Truckin'. I couldn't find them and in a rush to make a deadline (which was one week late) I published the issue without asking her to resend her poems. Anyway, it's all cleared up. I apologized. She's not going to shoot me for now. She's from Texas where even the women are heavily armed. She's a good shot too she insists, so that made me worry even more. Like the saying goes... a well-armed populous is the best defense against tyranny.

Recent Writing Music Included...
1. Charlie Hunter
2. Vida Blue
3. Bob Marley
4. Wes Montgomery
5. My Morning Jacket

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Last 5 Flicks I Watched...
1. Shaun of the Dead
2. The Girl Next Door
3. Bad Santa
4. The Life Aquatic
5. Meet the Fockers
Sunday Morning News Dump: Nelly's $10K Stripclub Binge, Harry Potter's Ecstasy, Kittens, and Elisha Cuthbert Cant Hang!!

It's been a while since I had a chance to share some random links that I came across or others sent me over the past week or so.

Did ya know that Elisha Cuthbert has a hockey blog? I wonder who's really ghostwriting for her?

In more Elisha Cuthbert news, I discovered that Elisha Cant Hang!! I know that Al Cant Hang is considering adding the Canadian actress to his entourage.

Nelly donates $10K to charity after he feels guilty after he blows $10K on strippers and overprices Cristal. Man this guy makes Grubby and I look like amatuers.

Here is some old fashioned punishment... a woman was sentenced to a nigth alone in the woods for abandoning kittens. I wonder what happens if that judge finds out I drowned a gaggle of puppies?

Anyone score any Harry Potter ecastsy pills recently? I'd like to roll and see one of the movies. Yes. I have never read one Harry Potter book and never saw one Harry Potter movie. Not only does that make me cool, but it makes me feel super special.

Guatemala anti-drug chief caught smuggling is a hilarious tale of cokehead politicans trying to make a few extra bucks.

Let's keep the drug theme going. You gotta love Philly. A kindergartener was busted with heroin! The kid had 8 bags of smack in his pcokets. God damn. Junkies are starting earlier and earlier. I didn't start my illustrious heroin phase until I was at least 22.

In more pot news, Mexican cartels are using our National Parks to grow weed. Guess where I'm going for my bext vacation?

Polly busts cheating husband when parrot utters his husband's mistress' name. I dunno what's freakier... parrots speaking in German or guys fucking women named Uta.

Some dorky kid won the Lego Championships or something like that. That's my next assignment... the European Lego Championships in Stockholm.

In Pishy news, Mike Gordon and Leo Kotke are playing some gigs in late December including NYE in Ft. Lauderdale.

Hey the fuckin' Knicks won a home game in overtime! The Knicks "answer" is not Stephon Marbury. I'm counting the days until he gets traded...

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Ode to Kiera's Nipple

The way it is,
is the way of the nipple.
The upside down version,
is what enters my sightline.

I have stood clueless
on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico,
on plenty of rainy days,
and several somber days.
When you silently wept,
I childishly hid from your sadness, then
you locked the oak door,
and buried the special key on a sandless beach.

Even when I change my scene
your laugh escapes into the atmosphere.
We used to do all the time and
now it's a faded memory, like
last month's soup du jour.

When you curled your toes
against my leg,
spinal shivers paralyzed me
for 17 seconds.

I sink down,
chasing the glorious feeling
that flooded my sedated bloodstream
during my raging days in overcast Barcelona when
crimson dreams,
sweltering inspiration,
trumpets of desperation, and
electric splashes...
remind of our long drives
down the slippery California coast,
where Keira's nipple can easily
be licked upside down.

The way it is,
is the way of the nipple.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thank You Mr. Minor

All I really want to do in life is to write. Some days I'm in shock that I get to do what I do for a living. My dreams have become a reality and I'm floored by what's happened in the past year. I went from being a nobody to being a somebody and that never could have been possible without your support. This is just a quick note saying thanks to everyone who reads this here blog, especially several dedicated friends like Girtz, Modeski, Molly, Jerry, AlCantHang, and Jenna... who read me everyday. Although my poker blog has taken off and I put more time into that than the Tao of Pauly... this blog is my favorite and will always be my favorite. I still believe that in five years from now, Tao of Pauly will be surpass the Tao of Poker in terms of popularity. I'm not complaining one bit about the traffic and readership here. The Tao of Pauly is getting more and more popular everyday.

A lot has happened with my writing career this year and none of that could have bene possible without the support, love, and inspiration from all of my friends. There are too many to name right now, but I think you all know how much I feel about all of ya. Without you, I never would have made it this far. For that, I am eternally grateful.

Today is Thanksgiving and a day of thanks. As my mind sifts through all the humbling memories, I want to take this time to applaud all of you reading this. If you beliveve in fate, then we're all fortunate that we got to cross paths and we're here for a reason. I am truly the lucky one.

Continue to keep inspiring me, and I'll continue to keep writing.
Spaceman Wednesday

It was Spaceman's last full day in the city and I think we both woke up hungover after a late night. Joaquin accussed me of ending our bar hopping festivites early after a phone call from Briana. Sad to tell him there was no booty call. I was tired and needed to crash.

I woke up feeling crappy but rallied to meet Spaceman downtown. Fighting the chilly weather, Derek, Spaceman and I walked through Central Park from the far Northwest Corner at 110th Street all the way to the Metropolitan Musem of Art. Spaceman wanted to check it out and I had not been in a while. I used to get stoned and wander around the Met all the time, so it was great to show Spaceman one of my favorite NYC activities.

Derek was making fun of some of the 20th Centruy art. "How is this art?" he said on more than one instance. I think I freaked one hot chick out when I mentioned (very loudly) that Willem de Kooning used to jerk off onto his paintings. I got to see some of my favorite paintings from Jean Dubuffet and Ricard Pouisette-Dart. I also ran into Charles Andreson who is my favorite contemporary painter. We used to work together and I had not seen him in ages. He's having a 20 piece show in the Detroit area in Januaray, and I'm thinking about heading up there.

We finally saw The Rooster's apartment for the first time and Derek was pissed he lived in a walk up... on the top floor. No elevator. The Rooster's crib is super pimping with plenty of chicks flicks on DVD to entertain the ladies along with plenty of Schnapps to keep them liquored up.

Took Spaceman to Tom's for dinner and I got chicken fingers, cheese fries, and beef barley soup. He headed out to see some comedy shows with F Train.

I headed home to write, do my football picks, playing online poker with Jaxia on Full Tilt. I also had a great phone call with Maudie and Iggy. Late night Molly called too to explain some crazy message that Joaquin left on her voicemail. Now I'm headed out late late night to hang out with Briana.

Derek points to his favorite portrait of Tommy Chong

Penis Man & Wife (Stop laughing Bob!)

Art or not art?

Derek and Action Jackson