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

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Spaceman in the City and the Rooster Flies at Midnight

As always a hearty thanks to Wil, who dug the intro to a recent post on my poker blog. He linked it up in his most recent post called Eveything we need to know. Of course, Briana is going apeshit over getting her name blogged on Wil's site. I blog about her all the time and she doesn't even blink an eye. But as soon as Wil blogged that excerpt, she called everyone on her speed dial and emailed the link to every poor soul in her email address book... even her parents... who hate me even more.

Moving on...

Four bloggers walk into a bar... sounds like a punchline to a bad joke, right? But it's what went down last night, except we walked into several bars. I had not gone drinking with bloggers in NYC since Otis came to town for the Poker Stars party when I drank fruity rum drinks in plastic coconuts with Isabelle Mercier. I got wicked sick that night and puked in the middle of the street. I have not drank that much since then.

Derek and I hung out with Spaceman last night after his Millionare interview. Joaquin suggested Brother Jimmy's which was funny because it's a Southern BBQ place. I think he wanted Spaceman to feel at home. Our waitress copped an attitude right away with us. I hate that. She didn't even give us a chance to piss her off! That's where we started our bar hopping run that would span several bars on the Upper West Side. We pretty much followed Joaquin around and I got to catch a glimpse of where he goes to troll for drunken NYC chicks. The guy loves women and he hit on a ton. We walked into one bar in particular and he started chatting up the cute bartender.
Pauly: So did you hit that?
Joaquin: No.
Pauly: Not even a blow job?
Joaquin: She gave me a handjob.
Derek: Totally useless. Why do women do that? You're better off stroking yourself.
I'll let Joaquin write up his sexual conquests, but I had to share that conversation we had. We also stopped off at Yogi's near the Beacon Theatre. They play a ton of country & western music and Joaquin sang along with almost every tune. We drank PBR out of a can, and it might be one of the cheapest bars in the city. I used to drink there sometimes with Haley.

Anyway Joaquin tried to chat up a table of women from South Africa and then he zeroed in on he two drunkest chick in the bar. The blonde and her ugly friend. He gave the ugly one a certain blogger's email address. I won't say which one. But if some random chick emails you in the next day or so... please let me know. The blonde was playing darts. Drunk people should never be around sharp objects. She nearly took one guy's eye out with a throw.
Joaquin: Do you know who this is? (Pointing to me)
Blonde: No? Maybe? He looks familiar.
Joaquin: He's a celebrity. Do you watch poker? (He pointed to the TV with had ESPN and the WSOP final table on)
Blonde: Sometimes.
Joaquin: That's Dr. Pauly.
Blonde: Awesome! (as she shook my hand) I thought I recognized you. Didn't you play in the WSOP, right?
Pauly: Yeah in two events... and I made the final table in one.
That's right. I used the WSOP final table line to pick up a soused chick in a dive bar in NYC. It's not really a line... because it's true. At least I didn't waste that line on her friend.

At some point AlCantHang called for a dial-a-shot. He won a feeroll at the Boathouse. I think the Spaceman got sick of having to step outside to smoke ciggies, especially since it's been friggin' cold as fuck in the city.

At Bourbon Street, Joaquin and I ordered drinks. After I told the female bartender what we wanted, Joaquin added, "And your phone number." You gotta love seeing The Rooster in action.

Spaceman had a rough night and spent some time in the bathroom. I walked in to check up on him and he was clutching the porcelain god. When he got out he muttered, "BG pukes and passes out. Spaceman pukes and keeps partying."

Yeah not only did Spaceman reference the infamous Brad-o-Ween incident involving BG (which we'll dub "Nap-gate") but Spaceman also referenced himself in the third person.

It's not a real trip to the big city unless you blow chunks in a random bathroom, while the Rooster milled around outside trying to pick up chicks waiting in line for the ladies room.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Recent Music?

Been on the road and writing a lot. Got to listen to some CDs again because my rental car had a CD player.

Recent Driving Music:
1. Joker's Vegoose Mix
2. Briana's Indie Rock I Wanna Slit My Wrists Mix
3. Galactic from Mardi Gras
4. Jerry Garcia, Tony Rice, And David Grisman's Pizza Tapes
5. BG's Miles Davis Mix

Recent Writing Music:
1. The Flaming Lips
2. Mike Gordon & Leo Kotke
3. Galactic
4. Jerry Gracia Band
5. Beck

Recent Poker Playing Music:
1. Widespread Panic
2. Karl Denson
3. My Morning Jacket
4. Phish
5. Velvet Underground

Last 5 Jazz Artists I Smoked to:
1. Charlie Parker
2. Art Blakely
3. Mile Davis
4. John Coltrane
5. Charlie Mingus

Sunday, November 20, 2005


After spending a week on the road at Foxwoods Casino in western Connecticut and at Senor's suburban digs in Rhode Island, I came to the conclusion that Foxwoods was by far my favorite assignment that I've had as a freelance writer and one of my favorite trips that I've taken this year. Sure covering the decadent European Poker Tour in magical Barcelona, Spain and the side trip to the always insane Amsterdam can never compare to the simplicity and ordinariness Foxwoods and Outside Providence, yet I definitely had the most fun with what I was doing. My time in Europe was hectic, very stressful, mind-blowing, and although I got to hang out with Briana and some old friends that I met in Las Vegas, I partied way too much and didn't sleep at all. I did serious damage to my body. That was the trip that officially burnt me out. By the time I got back to America, I should have went to bed for two weeks straight and sobered up. But I didn't, I kept working and pushing myself.

Having the assignment at the Borgata in September was super tough because I partied for a week straight in Europe then flew all the way from Barcelona to NYC via Paris then Amsterdam, then I had to get in a rental car and drive to Atlantic City. Add one of the longest days (18+ hours) of tournament reporting I ever experienced and I was hurting by the time the Boathouse Bash begun. Yet I somehow managed to squeeze in two nights of partying there with AlCantHang and a slew of other bloggers.

By the time the Bellagio event rolled around, I was going through the motions. I had my mind focused on other projects and thinking about the upcoming Vegoose music festival. Bellagio was a weird place for me, because I was distracted, yet I managed to get the job done. When it was over, all I wanted to do was quit.

At Foxwoods I paced myself, did my share of partying, played a lot more poker, ate well, wrote some of my best stuff in months, and I got to spend quality time with Senor's family along with hanging out with the craziest 2 year-old I know. I guess I was finally in a very good place and I was ale to enjoy what I was working on and fully understood why I was doing the things I do. Nothing feels more empty inside than forgetting the purpose why you are doing things.

It felt good to finally reconnected the navigator inside me. I'm back on track after spinning out of control for the past few months. Ever since I got back from Vegas, I've been living a blur of a life. As soon as Joe Hachem won the World Series of Poker, I had been on one of the longest benders of my life. It was almost four months long and I lost track of myself despite the fact I was traveling all over. I got lucky once again and a few close friends noticed I was losing control. They stepped in and said a lot of things that needed to be said. All of which was a wake up call. I admire their courage. I was able to make adjustments ad changes before it was too late. The cumulation of all the resentment of my assignments, overwhelming deadlines, overflowing booze, easily available drugs, newly ingested fame, tons of money, and tempestuous women fried my mind. There's only so much of your debauchery you can blame on Las Vegas. At some point, you have to accept the fact that the beast within has always been there and roaming freely. Stuck in the middle of the darkness of Las Vegas was just an excuse to let it out.

Foxwoods is one of my favorite casinos, probably because I spent a lot of time there over the past few years. In some ways, it's been a place of healing for me. At Foxwoods, I felt fresh and focused at the task at hand. I pumped out some of my best tournament coverage to date and put a lot of time into improving my photograph taking. I also set aside time for me to play cards, unlike during other tournaments when I adopted a strict work and write first and play some other time attitude.

I needed a relaxing venue after a week in faded madness in Las Vegas during the Halloween bender which I'm still recovering from. My days started out calm. Senor lives on a small lake/large pond. I can see it from where I was sleeping. I'd write for a bit then play with Jodd. Sometimes we'd watch cartoons. Other times I wacthed him run around aimlessly through the house. When it was time to go to work, I either ate at Denny's or Crackel Barrel getting my standard French Toast with bcaon and hash browns. The Foxwoods tournament director gave me a $10 food comp everyday for dinner. I ate southern food at Amy Ruth's twice with BJ. I got mac & cheese both times. I also used up my player's club Wampum points for a few free meals/snacks like plenty of free Ben & Jerry shakes.

When it was time to leave Foxwoods at night, I either stuck around to play poker or I went back home where I played online poker and wrote. I settled into a nice routine and realized that what was lacking from me right now. Being on the road constantly means that I am unable to get adjusted to a consistent schedule.

On Saturday, Senor and I went to go see Trey Anastasio Band in Wallingford, CT. I'll write the review soon. Senor had low expectations and Trey impressed him. For me it was interesting since I've seen Trey a bunch of times already this tour. I felt that his best moment in Las Vegas was during his stint with Widespread Panic. Trey ripped the shit out of Thin Air. Trey had a brand new drumer with his 70 Volt Parade lineup and there is tons of speculation why Skeeto Valdez left the band and why Trey replaced him with a New Orleans drummer. Alas, Trey sounded pretty good and I was pumped to hear an acoustic Harry Hood.

We ate at Friendly's which is good eats. The chocolate shakes are pretty good. The place was swarming with hot high school chicks. I never saw so many hot 16 year olds. Senor and I been talking about taking a trip to Thailand. I was already to buy a plane ticket when I got word that the trip is being called off. Now I'm looking into heading to somewhere in Central America or Peru for a week in February. My first original trip to Thailand got axed too! I'll get there someday.

I watched the Jets game with Derek on Sunday and they blow. The Knicks actually won a game and StephonMarbury is the cancer that's infecting the Knicks. We ordered pizza and I ate two Scilian slices.

I was supposed to hang out with Briana on Sunday night. I was super late because I played in a super-satellite poker tournament online at Full Tilt. I ended up coming in first place and winning a seat in the satellite for next Sunday. First place gets to play in a televised tournament at the Palms. Anyway, I was caght up in the game and a good heads up battle where I just ran over the table and that only remaining guy to win. I finally showed up at her apartment... late but with a good excuse. I had not won a tournament online in a very long time. I chopped Brad-o-Ween in August although I came in 2nd a few weeks ago in a big tournament on Party Poker.

Anyway, time to go kill bain cells by watching TV.
Foxwoods Pictures!

Here are some random pics that I took over the last week.

Men the Master

2005 WSOP Senior's Champ Paul McKinney shows me his bracelet

Spying on Clonie

One of the hot chicks from Absolute Poker

Action at the World Poker Finals!

Smooth: clean cut Andy Bloch

BJ from Card Player hard at work in press row

What is wrong with this picture?

Minneapolis Jim Meehan

Lyle Berman: Round 1 Chipleader and WPT founder

It's a race!

We're close to the bubble!

The action never stops

Media Row: Melissa, BJ, Scott, Sharla, and Heather

Allen Cunningham

Lyle Berman with Oklahoma Johnny Hale

Minh Nguyen and his Golden Buddha

Jen from Poker Wire's huge turkey sandwich

My Jerk Chicken dinner at Amy Ruth's

Lyle Berman

Beind the scenes at Foxwoods

The Final Table

Nick Shulman: 2005 WPT Foxwoods World Poker Finals Champion
11.19.05 Trey Anastasio Band, Wallingford, CT

Set I: Push On Til the Day (w/ Jen & Russell on horns), Cayman Review (w/ Jen & Russell on horns), Shine, Dark And Down, Money Love and Change, Wherever You Find It, Night Speaks To A Woman (w/ Jen & Russell on horns)

Trey Acoustic Set: Invisible (w/ Christina & Jen), Love That Breaks All Lines (w/ Christina & Jen on horns), Harry Hood, Sample in a Jar

Set II: Spin > Sand, The Way I Feel (w/ Jen & Russell), Come As Melody

Encore: Alive Again (w/ Jen & Russell on horns), First Tube (w/ Jen & Russell on horns)

Review pending... Highlights were acoustic Harry Hood and Sand. Senor had a great tme. Good to hear TAB with horns again!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

More Outside Providence Tales

I have a rare day off. That never happens int he world of poker tournament reporting. Here's what happened... the World Poker Tour scheduled a special event for today at Foxwoods and it got canceled. So I have today off and will return back tomorrow at 4pm for the taping of the final table. Although I am going back later this afternoon to play some pokah!

Last night, I played at Foxwoods and trolled around online. A well-known pro (name withheld) offered to stake me in one of the highest games I've ever played (20/40) at Foxwoods. And I lost one of the biggest pots of my life. Hey, at least it wasn't my money. When some stakes you, they pay for your buy-in. If you lose, they absorb the loses. And if you win, you split half your winnings with your backer.

Last night, I ate dinner at Amy Ruth's which is Southern style cooking, with a bunch of folks in the media. Amy Ruth's is infamous fried chicken and waffles. I got the daily special... Jerk Chicken with two sides... mashed potatoes and macaroni & cheese. BJ ordered like 5 or 6 things.

I finally got some sleep after logging a few 16-18 hour days of blogging, writing, and picture taking. This morning I got to work on my book, then I caught up on some email, follwed by writing a Truckin story. It seems as soon as I get one issue out, there's the deadline for the next issue.

Senor lives on a huge pond/small lake and it finally stopped raining long enough for me to actaully take the laptop outside to write. That was pretty cool. I'm calling this place Jodd's Pond in homage to Walden Pond.

Getting pumped to see Trey with Senor on Saturday. Should be fun.

For now, I have a few freelance articles that are due. Back to the grind.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Dog Fuckers and Porn Funk

Yesterday a poker player named Young Phan uttered the Quote of the Year after he was knocked out of a tournament on a bad beat. "I guess I'll go home and fuck my dog," he announced to anyone in earshot.

That was enough fodder and material for me to work with today on my poker blog. Yeah, if you head over to the Tao of Poker, I'm live blogging Day 4 of the WPT World Poker Finals where I'll be devling into porn funk and beating that topic to a dead horse.

Covering poker tournaments is grueling. Yesterday I wrote from 11:30am to about 5am, most of that at Foxwoods covering the World Poker Finals. Today I expect another 12-14 hour day. That's what my job entails. I love to travel, but business travel is difficult. The pressure for me to meet multiple deadlines was getting to me and affecting my personal life. They way I wrote and approached my job was affected by my dour mood. I had to take a step back and remind myself that I have a job that thousands of people would love to have (and maybe only a handful can actually do what I do and that in itself in inspiring).

Seeing Jodd every morning before I go to work at Foxwoods is another nice reminder that there is more to life than poker and work. This morning we watched cartoons again and played catch. For a two year old, he has one helluva arm. I told Senor that the Red Sox found their next closer for the 2030 season.

On my way to Foxwoods I ate at the Denny's nextdoor to Crackel Barrel. I ordered the same thing for breakfast... French Toast, bacon, and hash browns. I also got cheese on my hashbrowns and sausages. The Denny's waitress was 317 times better looking than the Carckel Barel one and she brought me refills of my iced tea which I never had to ask for. The bill was $1 more expensive and it was good, although not as good as Cracker Barrel.

For dinner BJ from Card Player wants to eat at Amy Ruth's southern food which is one of the eateries upstairs in the casino.

Last night I was up until 5am. I wrote work stuff until 3am, then wrote for myself for 2 hours. I wanted to keep going until sunrise, but I know that today is going to be long long long.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Tuesday Link Dump: Crazy Teachers, Sedative Spitting Thai Transvestites, and Puerto Rican UFOs

It's been a while since I shit out a bunch of news links that have been sitting in my email inbox or saved in my bloglines folder.

Got some Tweak, No-mah? Cops bust meth lab near Boston's Children’s Museum.

File this one under... Only in Canada, eh? Foul-Mouthed Teacher Faces Rap: Canadian spewed on gays, Osama bin Laden, Holocaust, MILFs in classroom. That dude sounds like half the guys I used to work on Wall Street with.

I like girl-on-girl action. Here's a tale about a Tampa math teacher whos lept with one of her female students. Hubba hubba.

If you head off to Thailand beware of the Sedative-Spitting Transvestites! Senor has encountered them on more than one instance.

In more news from Thailand, there's a scandal brewing over a certain memeber of the government who got a penis enlargement operation.

This news blurb was disturbing... a Mom was arrested for trying to sell her four-year old on Craigslist for Sex. No rumors on whether or not she replied to Daddy's email.

This bit is for StB! Now introducing the Top 100 Beers!

In pothead news... homeless man arrested with $350K worth of pot.

Scientific Report Confirms an Alien Presence in Puerto Rico? Insert your own joke here.
Outside Providence and Tuesday's Gone

It was a grey day with light showers when I woke up in Rhode Island. I got up early and watched cartoons with Jodd before I headed back to work. I ate breakfast at Crackel Barrel this morning. It's about halfway between Providence and Foxwoods on I-95. Molly used to work at one in Texas and I used to give her shit all the time about working in a cracker factory with Milhouse's dad.

Anyway, Cracker Barrel southern style country cookin' and the breakfast rocked. I got my standard Fremch Toast with extra crispy bacon. I love bacon that's so crisp that you hear a cracking sound when you bite into it, yet melts in your mouth immediately. The hashbrowns were near perfect. Plus they serve sweetened ice tea. I was in heaven for 35 minutes. I think the waitress was hitting on me. She had a nice smile, but her hairy upper lip and the fact that she was bigger than David "Big Popi" Ortiz was a complete turn off. She must have been pumped I left a $3 tip on a $7 meal.

Speaking of Big Popi, all the local media is trashing A-Rod for beating out David Ortiz as MVP of the American League.

Last night I lost almost $200 playing low-limit drunken poker with Brandon Schaefer and two other pros. It was fun and they were running over the table. No one there knows that they were pros so it made the table even more fun.

I missed back-to-back Knicks wins. Man, as soon as I go out of town, the boys pull off two wins. Fuckin' A.

I was up late writing and only got a few hours of sleep. I hope I'm not here too late tonight! But at least I ate a hearty breakfast!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Outside Providence - Day 1

The drive from the city to Rhode Island was super fast. I think I made record time. No traffic on I-95 or the Hutch was the key. Plus the rental car agency had no more economy/compact cars. Instead I got a convertible with Massachutsettes plates. Go figure. And the fucker is fast. Really fast. I should never be given the keys to a fast vehicle. I found myself smoking a doobie, jamming out to Galactic (from a Mardi Gras show from Tipitina's earlier this year), and driving 90 mps as I marveled at all the different colors of leaves as they swooshed past me.

I watched football with Semor and Jodd and the little one is outta control. He runs around half naked, just like his old man used to. And he loves running around in circles on their outdoor deck which overlooks a magnificent lake/pond. I showed Ang some pictures of what I do for a living as a tournament reporter. We went to eat at Freindly's where we had a very long talk about life throwing you curveballs and like any great major league baseball player, you have to adjust quickly or you're fucked. I discovered that my possible trip to Thailand has been put on hold. Now we are cosndiering Belize, Brazil, or Peru. I also left a very generous tip to our college-aged waitress. It was my way of saying, "Hey honey, I'm new in town. How about a blow job in exchange for that 40% tip?"

This morning I nearly punctured my right foot when I got into the shower. The culprit was a Sponge Bob Squarepants doll which Jodd left in the tub. Everyone went to bed around 10pm and the insomniac in me watched the moon's reflection in the pond for a while. I downloaded a few poker sites to Senor's computer and played poker with Jaxia, Eva, April, and Change100. I didn't do so hot overall. Maybe I can make it back at the tables at Foxwoods!

OK, I'm off to work. Have to drive to Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut to cover a World Poker Tour event. Time to grab some donuts and yank a freshie for the ride.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Circles and Poker
"If you don't want to get famous for drawing circles... then don't draw circles." - Trey Anastasio
I've spent the majority of the past 20 days avoiding poker even though I played it, wrote about it, made money through it, blogged about it, and even whored it. But for the most part, I was completely sick of poker. There was no specific reason. I started to spin out of control because I was completely lost inside. I couldn't escape from poker because everywhere I turned it was there and everywhere. I even hailed a taxi the other day and saw a Party Poker ad on the friggin' cab. I had one of those existentialist moments like, "How the fuck did I get here?"

My poker writing career has taken off especially in the print realm (I wrote the cover story for the current issue of Poker Player Newspaper and I have an article in the most recent issue of Poker Pro magazine). All of my poker and writing projects are flourishing. I've been running well at the tables. And some of the strongest friendships that I have today have been cultivated through poker. So why the hell did I have a bad taste in my mouth and a disdain for the game, concept, and notion of poker?

Too much of anything is a bad thing. That's the moral of this story. Stay fresh and take frequent breaks. Moderation is always the key to a healthy life.

My schedule through the end of the summer of 2006 is jam packed with poker. So I desperately needed a break to catch my breath. To throw out a sports analogy, this is halftime. Luckily Vegoose was scheduled just about the time I was headed for a nervous breakdown and ended up disappearing from my blogs for five weeks and resurfacing in brothel in Calcutta with a maxed out credit card, a poorly treated stab wound, and an unidentified STD.

Yeah, thank God for music and Vegoose. In many respects I'm more passionate about music than poker. I'm a failed rock star. When I was 18, I wanted to be the next Duane Allman or Jerry Garcia. In college I followed the Grateful Dead all over the country for 46 concerts. That's when I first experienced my love for the road and traveling from one city and town to the next. Without music I never would have seen America. And there's something invigorating about being 20 years-old, having $17 and a bag of mushrooms in your pocket, and hitching a ride to Florida from Bumblefuck, Alabama with a bunch of whacked out hippies from a Rainbow colony in Oregon, in order to see The Dead one last time before I had to get back to school for my Southern Politics final exam.

Following bands around on tour gave me the rare chance to combine two passions: traveling and music. Since college, I've made a half a dozen trips to New Orleans for Jazzfest and I also racked up 151 Phish shows (including 7 in Las Vegas, 6 epic shows in Japan, 2 in Canada, and 1 in Idaho), almost 100 Widespread Panic shows, and at least 50 or so Galactic concerts (almost 20 in New Orleans). In the last three weeks, I have been on a music binge and it's been sensational (Beck, Flaming Lips, Widespread Panic, Galactic, G'ovt Mule, Ween, and Trey Anastasio Band). I rediscovered a sincere passion of mine, especially seeing live music. I also reconnected with friends of mine who are also heavy into the music scene.

Right now, being a tournament reporter has afforded me the opportunity to combine traveling and poker. And everytime I get off a plane in a different city, I remind myself how lucky I am to get to do what I do. In a few hours I'm hitting the road again to drive up to Foxwoods casino to cover the World Poker Finals and catch another WPT final table. I needed a break away from myself for a few days to get perspective and to realize once again that I'm one of the lucky ones.

It seemed that just when I thought I was drawing dead I caught a one outer, and now I've been pushed the biggest pot of my life. I had to take a step away to see that.

During my mini-break I watched a lot of sports with Derek... football, hockey, and basketball. One of our favorite things to do together is watch our favorite NYC sports teams. Too bad the Knicks suck horribly right now but at least the Rangers are winning. And the Jets? The Jets are still the Jets.

I also spent some time rekindling a relationship with everyone's favorite malcontent elevator button heiress who has fled riot-torn France. As the peasants have siezed control of Paris and are currently beheading the royal family, she quietly settled back into the big city. We've always been on-and-off and trying our best to avoid defining our status. Our mutual friends will tell you it's certainly one of the weirdest relationships they've seen. It's not quite Sid & Nancy but somedays it comes close.
Nancy: I hate my fuckin' life.
Sid: This is just a rough patch. Things'll be much better when we get to America, I promise.
Nancy: We're in America. We've been here a week. New York is in America, you fuck.
I've always liked her more than I ever let on (I have a good poker/relationship face) and when she pressed me about it I did the typical male thing and acted like an aloof tough guy. Most recently we had an intense discussion about the future of us. Some of you knew that I was thinking about moving to Las Vegas in early 2006. I've been mulling over that decision for several weeks. Now that Briana is back in New York, there's that added extra incentive to stick around here in NYC.

"McFucker, you can't move to Vegas," she pleaded. "It will kill you."

The line from Peewee's Big Adventure came to mind, "I'm a loner Dottie, a rebel." As soon as I uttered it she began to cry. Crocodile tears too.

Was she bluffing? Was she being overly dramatic? Was she being honest? She didn't quite issue an ultimatum, but it was close. All I kept thinking was, "Could you have picked a worse time to have this talk? Especially because I think I've fallen in love with a lesbian."

It was like being in the early rounds of a tournament and someone putting you all in for your entire stack while you hold a good, but not great hand. Do you muck and return to fight another time? Or do you take your chances and try to double up?

And before anyone thinks I'm a total asshole, which I admittedly am, I'm not saying Briana is a good hand. She's a great hand. She's pocket Aces all the way. But if any of you saw me in Wil Wheaton's tournament on Thursday, you know how horribly I play A-A.

Anyway, there's no set time for me to make a decision. Right now I have work in addition to a book to finish. Those are my two highest priorities. In esscense, the decision has already been made. Just because a hot blonde waltzes back into my life doesn't mean I'm gonna throw away everything I worked hard to accomplish as a writer during the past decade and more specifically this past year. It's going to take a ton of time and emotional energy to make everything work out between us. I don't think I'm capable or willing to devote either.

Thank you World Poker Tour!

Lucky for me I'm off to Foxwoods where I can escape from this newly added drama. Now that I am back from my much needed break and having a tough time with my personal life, I feel ready for a huge poker binge again. I got my head on straight and I'm ready to head back to work and have tons of fun with poker. I'm skilled at blocking things out and for the next week I can jump into poker and writing. Plus I get to spend time with Senor and his wife in Rhode Island (where I'll be commuting to/from Foxwoods) and hang out with my "nephew" who just turned two. I promised to take him to Friendly's for a birthday sundae.

Like a character out of a Bob Dylan tune, it's time for me to hit the road and leave my lady problems behind. See ya at Foxwoods.
On the Road...

I'm about to pick up my rental car and drive up to Rhode Island. I'm bunking with Senor, Ang, and Jodd for a week while I commute everyday to Foxwoods Casino to cover a WPT event... the World Poker Finals. I get to hang out with some of the biggest names in poker and goof around with all my friends in the media. I also hope to play some cards during any downtime I find.

I really enjoy visiting Senor in Rhode Island, especially in November when the drive up is spectacular with all the trees turning colors. He lives in a quiet area and I'm gonna try to work on my Las Vegas book at some point. We also have a Trey Anastasio Band show to go see next Saturday night in Wallingford, CT. I'm also gonna try to get Senor to sneak off to see a show at Lupo's in Providence.

This past week was busy. I watched a lot of sports with Derek. The Knicks suck ass.

I also wrote as much as I could and worked on the Las Vegas book which seems as though I'm never gonna finish that fucker. I took time off fromf reelance writing to focus on the book and lucky for me, two checks arrived this week for print work I did. As of today, I wrote the cover story on the current issue of Poker Player Newspaper and have an article in the most recent issue of Poker Pro magazine. Both are print publications... so I'm pretty excited.

I played a ton of poker and had some huge swings, especially on Saturday. I was in the hole $210 at one point and ended the day up $5! Go figure.

I spent a lot of time with Briana. We went for walks in the park, ate sushi, knocked boots, and we talked about a lot of things including the future of us. We've been apart for several months and we both lived outside of NYC for extended periods of time in diverse locations (her in France and me in Las Vegas). I took her to see Galactic this weekend at Irving Plaza and she really likes them a lot. How could you not? Galactic is one of the best bands to see live... period.
Last 5 Books I Saw People Reading on the Subway...
1. The Holy Bible
2. A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami
3. Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
4. Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs
5. Saving Fish from Drowning by Amy Tan

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Happy Birthday Jessica!

I've known Jessica for almost 10 years. Yikes, time flies eh? Not only is she one helluva an assistant editor, but she's pretty hot too. I wouldn't be anywhere as a writer today without her help, support, inspiration, and guidance.Today is what we refer to as Jessica Day. I hope it's a good one, Princess!
Trey Utica Setlist Featuring Fishman and Mike Gordon

3/4 of Phish played last night. Hmmmmm.... My buddy Danny sent me a text last night and said it was an average show, but seeing Gordo and Fishman made it special. Here's the setlist courtesy of Phantsasy Tour:
11.11.05 Utica Memorial Auditorium, Utica, NY

Set I: Mr. Completely, Spin, Drifting, Dark And Down, Night Speaks To A Woman, Shine, Money Love and Change, Push On Til the Day, Come As Melody

Acoustic Set with Mike Gordon: Access Me, The Divided Sky (with FIshman on cymbals), Get Back On The Train, Heavy Things, Bathtub Gin> Ghost

Encore: Boogie On Reggae Woman (with Mike on Bass and Fish on Drums)
In the past few days, Trey has played with everyone from Phish. OK, let's hope he gets his shit together and decides to get the band back together.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Trey Anastasio to Play Late Night with David Letterman Tonight

I betcha they are gonna play Shine. Anyway Trey will be on Letterman tonight, Friday November 11th.

Trey and his band will also be on Late Night With Conan O'Brien next Thursday night, November 17th and the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on Monday December 12.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Vegas Book Update

I've reached the 33K milestone. And I haven't even started writing about covering the 2005 WSOP which should take up 1/3 of the book, possibly more. I also have not even started to write the two epic Halloweens I spent in Las Vegas (1998 and 2005). Just when I thought I made a lot of progress in the past 48 hours, I realized I have a long way to go. I took a break from writing to play in one of Wil Wheaton's tournaments on Poker Stars. I took 64th out of 87. Wil made the final table.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Jessica Alba, Yummy Nipples

Thanks to Hollywood Tuna for some yummy pics of Jessica Alba. She's even nipping out in a few.

Click to enlarge
Happy Birthday Jodd!

Today is my "nephew" Jodd's birthday. Senor and I love the kid so much that we named our fantasy football team after him... Uncle Jodd's Band.

I wanted to get him a hooker and a eight ball for his birthday, but Senor said we should wait until he turns 3.

Anyway, happy birthday dude!
Halfway There: Page Plays with Trey in NYC

Wow, talk about a nice surprise! Page McConnell came out and played four songs with Trey during the encrore at Roseland Ballroom. Page is by far my favorite member of Phish and it was a nice unexpected treat to see 1/2 of Phish together. Page played tenatively on Strange Design. He then got a little more aggressive on Waves. And kicked ass with Trey on Waste. For the second encire, Page, John Medeski, and Peter Applebaum came out for First Tube. Trey had four guys on keyboards at the same time. I had been debating all night whether the show was better that the Aladdin Theatre in Las Vegas show. Page coming out for the encore was the tie-breaker. If you skipped Roseland Ballroon, you missed a pretty good show.

Trey Anastasio Band 11.08.05 Roseland Ballroom, New York, NY

Set 1: Air Said To Me, Night Speaks To A Woman, Sweet Dreams Melinda, Money Love and Change, Shine, 46 Days, Push On Til the Day

Trey Acoustic Set: Loving Cup, Pebbles and Marbles, Never, Sample in a Jar

Set 2: Sleep Again, Simple Twist Up Dave, Low, Mr. Completely, Spin, Come As Melody

Encore 1: Strange Design, Waves, Waste (all with Page and Trey on acoustic)

Encore 2: First Tube (with Page, John Medeki & Peter Applebaum

Chris Wood and his brother Oliver opened. They played a Dead song and a Beatles tune. I'll post a review tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Paris Hilton Halloween Bunny Pictures

Thanks to Edgar who sent me these pics of Paris Hilton in her Halloween bunny costume! You can click on each pic to enlarge the view.

Monday, November 07, 2005

I Almost Went Crazy

The best thing that happened on today was discovering that a magazine mailed me a check. It was my biggest check to date for a single piece of writing. They said it was "in the mail" last week but I thought that was just a line and I assumed it wouldn't arrive until sometime next year. Whoooooo hooooo! I haven't even seen my article. Now if I can get the damn UK Racing post to cut me a check from across the pond, then I'll be feeling a little bit better.

The worst thing that happened today was that I had to mail out a check to pay off the remaining bit of past due taxes. Uncle Sam sent a letter to me bitching baout $31 that I never paid for 2003. Sweet Jebus. I think I'm finally caught up with all my back taxes. I paid off two credit cards at some point this year. I only have one now and it surrently has a small balance after I bought some early Christmas presents along with several business expenses that I am awaiting for the funds to arrive so I can pay it off. I'm nowhere close to clearing some other outstanding debts, but it does feel good that I paid off the credit cards which have been raping me in interest along with getting Uncle Sam off my back. My next goal is to tackle my poor payment history with the student loan corporation. Last time I checked, I think they sold my debt to the Russian Mafia. So now I have to pay off a couple of tough guys from Brighton Beach in order to achieve something I never thought would be possible... becoming 100% debt free.

G-Money posted a review of the Trey Anastasio Band Cincy show onto my Phish blog. Take a peek. Good stuff. I'm seeing Trey on Tuesday in NYC so I can't wait. On Friday & Saturday, Galactic comes to town. Then on Sunday, I head up to Rhode Island to spend a week with Senor and the family. I'll be working at Foxwoods Casino during the days.

Everyone's favorite malcontent elevator button heiress is back in town. She even posted something on her blog which she promises she will use for good instead of evil. We hung out in the city last night for the first time since early May. I missed the diner near her apartment. They make the best chocolate shakes.

I'm going to take a break from blogging sometime this week. I'm burnt out on poker and blogging. I need a break from both. I might go see a flick or two with Briana. Who knows? I also have to finsih the damn Vegas book.

That's it for now... I have to play in a big tournament tonight... one of the biggest that I've played in since the WSOP. With a prize pool expected of over $20,000 fiirst place pays over $40K, or roughly what the avergae American makes in one year. I've een playing very solid poker over the past few days, let's hope I can make the money and even make a final table!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Vegoose Day 2: Fear and Loathing in Vegoose

I finally got some rest and felt ready to rage and raise hell for Day 2 of Vegoose. I was excited to see the Flaming Lips and to catch Widespread Panic close out the festival on the main stage in the stadium.

I wore my costume and I realized that you instantly bonded with other people who wore similar costumes. Doctors bonding with doctors. The exchanges usually went like this.
Other Guy: "Doctor!"
Me: "Doctor!"
I also found myself walking up to slutty nurses and fondling them. Only at a musical festival in Las Vegas can I get away with groping women, especially when they are in skimpy outfits and have been rolling on ecstasy for two straight days. For a brief moment, I knew what Frank Sinatra must have felt like.

Like any competent doctor, I took inventory of my party favors. I was well stocked and the Joker, still dressed as an UPS guy, was ready to go after he put together a new batch of packages. On our way in, he handed one package to two girls dressed up like Super Mario Brothers... Mario & Luigi. They were crocked on something and couldn't believe that the Joker was actually giving them a gift.

He also gave a package to a bunch of bumblebee bees. I always thought that people who got dressed up like insects were strange. At any jamband performance, you will most certainly run into at least one girl with some sort of butterfly wings or angel wings on during the concert. I used to joke around with my ex-girlfriend who I followed Phish with about those girls who used to be spun out on acid or molly and dressed up like butterflies. They usually traveled in packs of 2 and 3 other wasted girls. We wondered if they had some sort of process to determine who would wear the wings that day.
Hippie chick 1: "I get to be the butterfly!"
Hippie chick 2: "No me!"
Hippie chick 1: "OK, but you have to be a slutty butterfly!"
Vegoose was populated with a lot of females dressed as insects and pets like cats, mice, dogs, and bunnies. I liked the girls who opted to incorporate cleavage into their cat costumes.

We arrived in the fairgrounds to catch the end of Umphrey's McGee's set. I have been listening to them for several years and they have their moments. I kinda like their stuff from a few years ago compared to today. We skipped Michael Franti & Spearhead which is feel good reggae music. They were opening up on the main stage for moe., who I've seen enough to know that I'd rather skip them and see Ween at the Snake Eyes stage.

The Joker knew a lot more Ween songs then me and they were hit or miss for me. Either I really dug how they were playing a song, or I was waiting for it to end. Thank God their songs were short. The crowd at the Ween show was mixed with a lot more weird skater burnouts and indie rock kids than trust fund hippie kids from Colorado and Seattle. Although more people wore their costume on Day 2 of Vegoose, I saw plenty of people who looked freaky and you might mistake them for actually dressing up for Halloween. This one guy in particular reminded me of a pedophile heroin dealer. He was tall and lanky and had a mullet just like Randy Johnson except he looked like Bob Saget. He could not stop sweating and had a very young girl with him. I could not decide if it was his girlfriend or daughter. Everytime he put his hand up her shirt I prayed to God it was his girlfriend.

Ween eventually played my favorite tune Roses Are Free which Phish has been known to cover. We saw the entire set then wandered over to the Joker's Wild Stage and watched the end of set from Spoon, an Austin based band. I was pretty impressed with their sound, partly whiny-indie rock ballads with a heavy influence of Velvet Underground and a splash of Bruce Springsteen. I was bummed when their set ended. That's how I can tell if I like a band. I wanted to hear more. As the crowd from Spoon thinned out, we made our way to the front of the stage to get a good spot for the Flaming Lips.

The Joker was busting on the indie rock kids at the Flaming Lips show who were too cool to wear costumes at Vegoose. They would ask him for a free package and he'd tell them straight up that he only gives them out to people who took the time to come up with a creative costume and then wear it. After all, it was a Halloween themed music festival.

The Joker delivered Wayne, the lead singer from the Flaming Lips, a UPS package. He and other band members came out to set up their own equipment. The Joker rushed to the front and screamed, "I have a delivery for Wayne!" I caught a couple of pics of Wayne going along with the joke and signing for it.

Wayne signs for a package (left) and the sun slips away at Vegoose (right)

Because we were the first night after day light savings time, it got darker much earlier. I also felt that bands played better at night because the darkness was more conducive to the music. The sun went down just before the show began. While we were waiting for the Lips to tune up, we befriended a group of four girls who were hanging out next to us. They spoke kinda funny and I knew they weren't from anywhere near by. One of the girls sounded just like Joanne and even said "no" and "show" like her. I figured out they were Canadian. I had three guesses: Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver and went with my gut. One of the girls nearly fainted when I asked, "Hey you ladies wouldn't be from Calgary would ya?"

"How did you kn-oooow that?"

They were giving one of their friends a hard time about passing out too early the night before and one of the girls said, "We're not being mean. We're Canadian and have odd senses of humor."

I know," I said, "I've seen Degrassi. It's my all-time favorite Canadian TV show."

She laughed and admitted it was her favorite show too.

So the set was kick ass. The Flaming Lips were the highlight on Day 2 hands down. They had the best set up with a huge motion picture screen behind the band. There was a camera on the microphone for Wayne and sometimes, they'd cut to that shot and you'd see his huge head on screen. All these people got dressed up in costumes and were dancing on stage... all types of animals and weird things.

Before they started, Wayne came out in a huge plastic ball and walked into the crowd. It was cool to see him actually walking back and forth. I snagged a few photos while this was going on. Simultaneously, the roll I took kicked in and I started to feel pretty groovy. The Joker was shocked I got so many decent photos during the Flaming Flips.

The Flaming Lips even did a karaoke session. Using their huge projection screen then put up the words to Bohemian Rhapsody and the entire crowd sung along. It was a little cheesy, but a lot of fun. Wayne would launch these party streamers into the crowds and toss confetti all over the first few rows. They settled into some of their tunes like Fight Test and Yoshi Battle the Pink Robots both Part 1 and Part 2.

Here's some of my Flaming Lips Gallery:

Wayne does a Bubble Walk

So we left just before the Flaming Lips ended to cath the remainder of Trey Anastasio Band in the stadium on the main stage. Sadly, he played a lot of the same stuff from two nights before. We missed most of that. We also skipped The Meters, Jack Johnson, The Digable Planets, and The Arcade Fire in order to catch Trey, the Lips, and Widespread Panic.
Trey Anastasio Band Vegoose Setlist

Set 1: Spin, Push On Til the Day, Tuesday, Night Speaks To A Woman, Sleep Again, Shine, 46 Days, Waste *, The Inlaw Josie Wales*, Back On The Train*, Flock of Words*, Brian and Robert*, Air Said To Me, Money Love and Change > Low

Encore: Come As Melody

Show Notes: * solo acoustic
After seeing Trey close with Low in consecutive, I'm convinced that his best jam out song at the moment. It was definitely the weaker show of the two Trey played in Las Vegas and the crowd was not as jam packed as I thought.

When Trey ended, we moved down from the seated section to the floor which was general admission. We made our way to 10-15 rows back in front of Dave Schools. The Joker gave out the rest of his packages and whatever I had been taking was at it's peak.

Panic came on a little late and started out strong.
Widespread Panic Vegoose Setlist

Set 1: Disco > Space Wrangler > Henry Parsons Died, Don't Wanna Lose You > Last Dance > Sleeping Man, I'm Not Alone > North, Ribs and Whiskey, Solid Rock > Give, Slippin Into Darkness* > Thin Air** > Jam** > Drums > Hatfield > Fixin' To Die***, Tall Boy > Chilly Water

Encore: Goin' Out West, None Of Us Are Free

** With Trey Anastasio on guitar
*** With Col. Bruce Hampton
The first three, Disco > Space Wrangler > Henry Parsons Died, were rockin' tunes and he boys got off to a hot start. George finally has found his groove with the rest of the band and he's playing his best stuff to date. I was faded on some hash about half way through and pulled my shit together during Sleeping Man. I'm a big fan of Ribs and Whiskey and I though Schools showed me why he is one kick ass bass player.

Trey Anastasio came out for two songs and that caught me by surprise. I should have expected a special guest, especially at a music festival. But I was too faded and it didn't occur to me that Trey was still in the building. He tore it up and jammed out harder with Panic than with his own band. Maybe, the boys should kick George out and hire Trey full time? Seriously, download the Vegoose show just for Trey's jam on Thin Air Smells Like Mississippi. "Pure sickness," as Daddy would say.

Col. Bruce Hampton came out for Fixin' to Die and that was a lot of fun. By that point, both the Joker and I were tired and we moved to the back of the stadium for a session and to relax. Panic closed out the set with two kick ass tunes and favorites of mine Tall Boy and Climb to Safety.

As we sat in te back of Sam Boyd Stadium, we reflected on the past two days of music. Vegoose was definitely one of most favorite music festivals that I've attended over the past few years. Panic played the best show out of all the bands I caught inside the stadium (Phil Lesh & Friends, Dave Matthews & Friends, Trey) and the third best overall behind Beck and The Flaming Lips. I left knowing that they were going to play one wicked show the next night on Halloween.

I made the drive home a lot easier since I was much more awake than the night before. When we got back the Joker was exhausted and passed out. He partied to dawn two straight nights and his body was wrecked. I took a cat nap and headed over to the Mandalay Bay to see of I could get an extra ticket to the sold out Galactic show. No such luck. The only people who had tickets were sketched out locals and they were probably fake and definitely overpriced.

I ran into this guy named Eddie also looking for an extra. He's really from Chino and I knew him from Phish tour many years back. He used to have dreadlocks and I didn't even recognize him at first. He was dressed up like the Baumer from the Royal Tenanbaums. His girlfriend dressed like Gwyneth Paltrow's character from that flick. I dug their costumes. After we couldn't find tickets we retreated to the hooker bar which was swarming with ladies of the night. Eddie was also fascinated by the various hookers doing their deed, even in the middle of a crazy music fesival weekend like Vegoose, where spun out fucked up people who had not slept in three days partied shoulder to shoulder with cowboys in town for the bull riding championships along with high priced hookers looking for their last john of the night.

I hung out with Eddie and his friends from Orgeon in particularly this one dude named Dodger. I never got the explanation of his nickname but he was a squirelly looking guy with a enough acid to dose the entire state of Wisconsin. I looked at my cellphone and realized that it was almost 5am and officially Halloween. Back home in NYC, friends of mine were riding the subways to work on a cheerless Monday morning while Dodger decided that he was going to buy two hookers a few drinks and slip them a dose of liquid sunshine. As one of the girls put a glass to her lips, she glanced at me as she caught her last breath of sober air.

"See you on the other side," I whispered to her across the bar.

I knew that for the next ten hours she'd be accepting a ticket for a mind bending ride that not too many people can stomach, let alone survive. Hookers on acid in Las Vegas. It must be Halloween.

.... to be continued