Sunday, December 31, 2006

Tao of Pauly: 2006 the Year in Review Video

Instead of posting a year end review, I decided to sift through all of the videos I shot during 2006 and splice together a Best of 2006. I did not think it was possible, but I managed to squeeze a full year's worth of traveling into a ten minute You Tube video. Excerpts are from Atlantic City, LA, Las Vegas, Colorado, Amsterdam, Tennessee, and Cincinnati. The only thing missing is the Playboy Mansion because I didn't bring my camera there.

Here you go: Tao of Pauly 2006 Travels (Click on the link if you are reading this through Bloglines or an RSS feed.)


Saturday, December 30, 2006

Photo Gallery and Food Pics

I updated the Tao of Pauly Flickr photo gallery this morning and uploaded a shitload of pics that I took this year. I also created ten different galleries including a detailed forty picture gallery of food. Nothing but food. That's specifically for food junkies, Derek, and Daddy. Take a peek:
Pauly's Food Photo Gallery
Pauly's Sets and Galleries
Recent Google Referrals...
1. Bellagio hooker lobby
2. Teens fucked and tied up against their will
3. Rachel Ray naked
4. Woman getting fucked by canine
5. Moist Alabama housewives

Friday, December 29, 2006

Renoir's Crying Baby

I've boarded JetBlue flights almost 20 different times in 2006. I flew them so much in the last 13 months that I've accumulated 3 free round flight trips from TrueBlue, their Frequent Flier program. Usually I need four round trip flights from NYC to the West Coast, plus one other flight to qualify for a freebie. After my latest flight to California, I'm 12% closer to getting another one. JetBlue allows you stack up your free flights (although they expire one year from issue), so I got four one-way or two roundtrippers in the bank. I'm going to use one of the one-way coupons to fly from LA to NYC after I get back from Australia in early February.

Sometimes JetBlue's flights are so cheap (particularly to Las Vegas) that I don't want to use my free trips since the total flight is a bargain at under $250 round trip. That's what happened when I went to book flights to Florida in March. The rates were so cheap at $99 one-way that I would have been foolish to use my free flights on lower end fares. It's the NYC-LA legs that cost the most and I'll try to save the freebies for future trips in 2007. If I book anything that is under $150 for a one-way leg, then I feel I'm not getting my money's worth.

I've used JetBlue more than any other in the last few years and it's my favorite airline of all time. The planes are clean. The staff is friendly and positive. They have an amazing online site where you can pick your seats and print up your boarding pass. Flights are usually on time and they fly routes to the two places I spent my most time in 2006... Las Vegas and Los Angeles. And they have free TVs. There are no meals, but plenty of snacks. My only complaint is that they cut back on the second snack on the cross country flights. They now give you a bag of Sun Chips when they used to give you a snack pack filled with a cookie, crackers, cheese, and a mint.

Delta and Continental were solid airlines in the early 1990s when I flew those exclusively to and from school. When I moved out to the West Coast to Seattle, I discovered Alaskan Air which was very solid. Since 2001, the majors like Delta, Continental, and United lost their accolades for top notch service after they ran into financial problems and had to pay their workers jack shit in order to boost revenue. Any decent fares went down the crapper pretty quick.

Thank God for JetBlue who stepped up to the plate soon after. Not only did they offer the cheapest rates around, they stood out from the pack of low budget airlines like ATA, Frontier, and the now-defunct National Airlines and EasyJet. In the late 1990s, an Easy Jet plane crashed in the Florida Everglades. No bodies were recovered because alligators gobbled up all the dead bodies, but left the black box in tact. A few weeks after that crash, Senor and I flew to New Orleans for Jazzfest on EasyJet.

Nicky and I flew to Amsterdam on Continental and it was average but still lacks behind the high quality of service of KLM/Royal Dutch Airlines that I flew to Europe in 2005. You can't beat those hot Dutch stewardesses and all the free ice cream. I flew on Frontier a few instances to/from Colorado. The cost of a ticket was low but you do get what you pay for... crappy service and long lines to check in at the counter.

In 2006, I also took flights on American Airlines, Untied, AmericaWest, and Southwest. None of them compare to JetBlue. My biggest concern is that as they keep expanding, their quality of service decreases. Southwest was JetBlue in the 1990s and has slipped in recent years.

When I fly on JetBlue, I always choose an aisle seat about 2/3 into the plane near the back. I don't want to be too close to the toilets, but prefer flying in the rear of the plane on flights to Las Vegas and Long Beach because you are the first group on the plane (which means ample room for your carry on bag) and they deplane from both the front and the rear at McCarran Airport in Las Vegas and at Long Beach Airport.

I changed my flight at the last minute to arrive into the LA area a day earlier after I found out I had to fly to Australia a day earlier. Jet Blue's fleet are Airbus320's which has 30 rows of six seats. My flight was nearly full, with the only available seats a few middle seats and one window seat near the back which I took it because I had no choice.

My flight from JFK to Long Beach was one of the worst of 2006 all because of that fuckin' seat. And why? A crying baby.

Thank God it was my last flight of 2006. I know that as a frequent traveler (and rider of the NYC subway system) is that you have no choice over who you sit near or next to. Usually crying babies don't bother me but this was the worst that I've ever experienced.

I had on headphones listening to the DirectTV at the highest volume and the kid could not stop crying. He did not sleep during the flight and wailed for at least five hours of the five hour and twenty minute flight. Somewhere over West Virginia I went to the bathroom and on my way out, I mentioned something to the flight attendant standing at her station in the back getting ready to start the drink service. I knew that she'd tell me that she couldn't help me but I had to say something.

"Hey, I'm having a problem and maybe you can help me out," I said to the cute stewardess who looked like Reese Witherspoon. "I've flown JetBlue almost 20 times this year. I racked up two free flights since May and I fly JFK to Long Beach all the time. I've sat next to fat people. Smelly people. People who couldn't stop talking to me. People with bad breath. Unruly kids. People who ate foul food. People who kept falling asleep on me. People who hogged the entire arm rest. People who took off their shoes and exposed their malodorous feet. I even sat next to a stripper when I flew to Las Vegas once. But right now I'm having the flight from hell."

"The baby?" she said as if she could read my mind.

She explained that there was very little she could do with that, like I expected her to say. Reese look-a-like apologized and suggested that I write a letter to JetBlue and perhaps they would offer me a discount on a future flight. I guess she liked the way I approached her... sort of humorous and disarming instead of caustic and demanding because she offered me a free drink.

"Do you have baby repellent back there too?" I said.

"I wish," she smirked then winked at me as she handed me a free Heineken on the house.

A young Asian woman with Lisa Loeb glasses sat next to me thumbing through several bridal magazines. I picked up one tip... wear comfortable shoes because you will be standing on your feet all day. The baby irked her too because she kept making faces everytime thirty seconds of silence was replaced by screaming.

There's one thing I found out the hard way... and that's telling people how to raise their children. When I was a security guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I said something to a mother who could not keep her baby from crying in the Impressionist Painting gallery. She scolded me and told me that I shouldn't judge her motherhood on the crying baby.

"Babies cry," she screamed at me in front of Renoir's In the Meadow.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Early Arrival

I got to the airport two hours before my scheduled flight. I'm an airport arrival nerd these days. I waited in the check-in line behind a bevy of perky high school girls. I think they were a soccer team from Virginia. Two of the girls were smoking hot. I popped a half-a-chubby in line when I imagined that at least one of them was a lesbian. I'd pay top dollar to see any of those high school nymphs chow box with Keira Knightely.

I have a lot of time to kill between now and boarding time so I'll write a quick ten minute post. I'm sitting at the wifi hotspot in JFK airport in between a business traveler with bad coffee breath and a well-dressed single mother with an adorable kid that asked too many questions.

"Why are our flights always delayed?"
"Mommy, why does your phone go off all the time?"
"Why do I have to take my shoes off at security?"
"Where's my bagel?"
"Where's Grandma's Christmas gift? I left it in the car."
"Where's our luggage?"

I'm listening to James Brown with headphones, curtesy of GMoney, who gave me some amazing music a few weeks ago. That included.... the Godfather of Soul James Brown. Earlier in the week James Brown and former President Ford passed away. Which man do you think Hollyweird wants to make a movie about? And it's not America's only unelected President. Poor Ford. His life was not exciting enough.

Spike Lee will be directing the James Brown biopic for Imagine Entertainment. I loved the blurb in Variety stating that Spike Lee will be doing the movie before or after the squeal to Inside Man. I guess that depends on if they can find someone worthy (and bankable) to play James Brown. I still say Brad Pitt would be perfect for the role. A well tanned Brad Pitt.

Christmas with the family was average. I wrote for most of the morning and then ate at my mother's which was a chore. There was only five of us at dinner and she made food for 10 people. Too many entrees. There was a pot roast, a Chicken Royale dish, a huge dish of baked ziti, shrimp scampi with pasta, a baked ham, and some sort of potatoes au gratin. Then there was a cheesecake and a chocolate cake. And not to mention the Christmas cookies from the Jewish deli around the corner. The butter cookies dipped in chocolate are always the highlights of my Christmas.

The best part of Christmas 06 was the Jets pulling out a big win on the road, in the rain, against the Fish. The Jets are one more win away from the playoffs which means they'll blow it on Sunday against the hapless Raiders. Ironically, I'll be in the Bay Area on Sunday spending New Year's Eve in San Francisco, so I'll get a chance to see the game on local TV.

Of course last night, the Knicks needed triple OT to beat the Detroit Pistons as Stephon Marbury dropped 41 even though Rip Hamilton scored 51 in a losing effort. The Knicks are the best bad team in the NBA but they have a dim future with their piss poor ownership and management that blows donkey cock.

My haircut yesterday was a success. I gave Vinny the Barber a B+ for his work. He had a picture up on the wall taken at the finish line of the NYC Marathon. He ran it in 4:22. He showed me his split times. He kept a 10:01 minute/mile pace. Remarkable. And he's 61 years old. He wants me to run one with him next year. I told him, "Only if someone offered me $10,000 to do it."

Last Friday, I was given a last minute assignment from a new client. I have never written for them before and although the piece was gambling related (the leveraged buy out of Harrah's Entertainment), it was not about poker. They wanted it in less than a week and about 800-1000 words in length. The editor reads my blogs all the time, so he gave me complete artistic freedom. I worked on that piece all through Christmas and got several quotes from experts.

After rewriting the piece for a third time on Wednesday morning, I finally emailed the article which topped over 1400+ words. I got an email within an hour after I mailed it. The editor liked it so much that he bumped it up to the feature and cover story of the upcoming issue. Yikes. That's like hitting a HR in your first MLB at bat. Definitely a nice ego boost to end the year, especially because it's mainly a non-poker piece which I hope leads to more non-poker work in 2007.

Next stop is Long Beach airport. Nicky wants to go see a Phish cover band tonight in LA. After catching about three hours of sleep in the last two days, that's a definite... maybe.

Last 5 Movie Repeats I've Seen...
1. Hooisers
2. She's All That
3. Ocean's 11
4. Rocky
5. Dazed and Confused

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

23 Hours

I've been up for 23 straight hours. I tried to crash around 5am but ended up laying in bed until 6am and decided sleep was not an option. Again. I don't forsee myself getting to crash for another 14-15 hours either.

I had too much work to do and after writing for about ten hours on Tuesday, my mind was scrambled and I needed a break. I read for most of the morning before I headed out to do laundry. I have a haircut scheduled with Vinny the Barber in a few minutes and a lengthy trip to the post office ahead of me surrounded by grumpy customers. If I can, I will go to the bank and then to a drug store to round out my last few errands before I leave NYC. I wish I had an intern and/or an assistant to do shit like that for me.

At least I'll be able to pawn off a $50 bill that I got in the ATM yesterday. Ever since Grubby told me that $50 bills were bad luck, I stopped carrying them.

I tired and have been fighting off a cold the last three days. I'm not sick but I feel as though my body has been invaded by an infection and war is being waged in my bloodstream as we sepeak.

I have to pack later tonight for 5-6 weeks on the road which includes figuring out what to bring to Australia. It's summer down there. So at some point during the day, I'll brainstorm a list.

Friends keep asking me about being excited about Australia. My standard answer has been an aloof, an uninspired, and an unexcitable, "Not really."

I have been spoiled with a ton of travel in 2006. Plus, I've trained myself to live in the moment and focus on the now while doing my best to avoid worrying about the future. And Australia is not even my next trip. I have to fly out to LA, then I'm driving up to San Francisco over the weekend for New Year's Eve. My mind is focused on getting to LA since that's the next leg in my journey. I'll then worry about SF when I get to California and after New Years... that's when I'll start thinking about Australia.

At the same time, I'm not looking forward to a 16 hour flight from LAX to Sydney (on United Airlines, ughhh) and having to work 16-18 hour days for 10 straight days. Half of this trip is for business and covering poker thournaments can be a tedious chore. I won't really get to explore Australia until after the Aussie Millions tournament is complete. I am excited to see Tool play a show in Melbourne and my buddy Brandon will be in Australia at the same time and had some great ideas for side trips.

And I can't worry about Australia because I'm still in NYC and I have a ton of writing to complete before I skip town. I make a ton of sacrifices as a writer which includes writing for several hours on holidays such as Christmas. Discipline is what got me to where I am today... and I can't slack enough even now.

I would love to do nothing more than sit around and get high, listen to music, and play poker for ten hours straight or watch a dozen of bad DVD rentals... but if I did that, then the work will pile up (freelance assignments, updating the multi-blogs, Truckin', etc.) and I'd have to be writing columns while on holiday in Asutralia.

There's an expression in sports about closing out the half strong. Some teams play tough for most of the first half then let up for the last thirty seconds of play in hockey, basketball, or football. Athletes get lazy and let down their mental toughness. I told myself to close out the year strong and stay focused even in the wake of stressful holidays and upcoming travel.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


A passage from my poker blog was quoted in the Las Vegas Sun yesterday in Jeff Haney's column.
Big Win

The Jets pulled out an ugly victory over the Fish in rain soaked Miami. One more win away from the impossible. The Jets in the playoffs?

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

32 years ago today

Auggie Wren's Christmas Story

I have been posting this every year as a Christmas tradition. Auggie Wren's Christmas Story written by Paul Auster, is one of my favorite short stories written by one of my favorite NYC authors. 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.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Seven Deadly Sins and Poker

Take a peek at a series I wrote over at the Tao of Poker where I weaved the Seven Deadly Sins and my Las Vegas trip report.
Part I: Lust & Gluttony
Part II: Wrath
Part III: Greed & Sloth
Part IV: Envy
Part V: Pride

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Merry Ethan

My cell phone rang at 10:30am on Friday. As I picked it up, I couldn't recall the last hour or so from the night before. I didn't even remember going to bed, let alone the cab ride home. I looked at the caller ID on front of my cell. It read, "The Rooster."

I picked up and barely slurred, "Hello."

The Rooster quickly rattled off about how he went back to Yogi's just before closing so he could bang the hot Indaian/Pakistani/Sri Lankian bartender that kept giving him free shots when we were there seven hours earlier. Instead of taking the foul temptress home, The Rooster witnessed a horrible accident. The other bartender was "Slutty Santa" and wearing a skimpy red outfit with ripped fishnet stockings. Both bartenders were hammered after a long night of drinking shots with the customers. They were up on the bar hootin' and hollerin' to a country song on the jukebox. That's when Slutty Santa slipped. She fell off the bar, smashed back first into a stool then tumbled onto the floor. The Rooster mentioned how she laid on the ground motionless for ten minutes while the paramedics came.

"Holy shit," I said. "It's 10:30 and you're calling me from work after going back to Yogi's at 4ish? Did you even sleep?"

"Barely. And that Ethan Hawke muthafucker is a short mofo. He's shorter than me, Pauly Drama!"

That's when the events from a few hours earlier slowly came back to me as I woke up still drunk from the night before. I was sweating vodka and I almost puked at the smell of my own breath with the sweaty vodka aroma.

On Thursday night, I went out to eat with Derek, The Rooster, and F Train at Big Nick's Burgers. We chowed down on their tasty garlic bread and fatty Angus burgers cooked on Texas Toast with grilled onions and mushrooms and topped with Swiss cheese and bacon. We went barhopping afterwards to celebrate the end of a long year for all of us. When we were in Vegas together two weeknd before and made plans to hang out one last time before I left NYC to go to California before I fly down to Australia for a month.

Derek bailed around Midnight after we hit our fifth bar of the night as we followed The Rooster in and out of several bars on Amsterdam Avenue. We hopped from a yuppie bar, to a hipster bar, to a Columbia bar, and back to a yuppie bar. F Train left one bar after Derek left. That's where I met a twenty-something actress sitting at the bar. She was attractive, sort of a Tara Reid meets Claire Danes.The Rooster bought her a drink and when she said she was from LA, I knew it was time to fuck with her.

"I live in LA too," I said. "Beverly Hills. Olympic and La Cienega. How about you?"

Her eyes perked up as she said, "West Hollywood."

"Lemme guess... an actress?"

"Um... yeah," she said.

"Do any work recently?"

"I just shot a commercial for Purina."

"The dog food company?"

"Yeah, I love animals too."

"Who are you represented by?"

"Buckwald," she said as she sipped on her fruity drink.

"Buckwald? They're a bunch of C-Listers," interjected The Rooster.

Offended, the Hollyweird blonde began to defend her agency.

"We all can't be represented by CAA," I added.

"You've got CAA?" she asked but never let me answer. "What do you do?"

"I'm a writer," I answered in the only truthful thing I'd say during our four minute conversation.

"Anything I've seen?"

"I've done some TV work. I know it's embarrassing, but it pays the bills."

"Like what?"

"Ever hear of Studio 60?"

"Sorkin's show? Yeah. I've seen it. I auditioned for one of the principles," she said.

"Well that's my gig."

"Sweet. How did you land that?"

"I was in rehab with Sorkin," I said as I knocked back the rest of my drink. "I scored him some mushrooms and the rest was history."

The Rooster and I left and walked to another bar. Then another. We'd pop in and out. Sometimes getting a drink. Sometimes not. The Rooster was scouting for bitches (I still have a theory that he's a pimp and he's checking up on his working girls) and if there was a good ratio of The Rooster:bitches, we'd stay at that particular bar.

We walked north on Amsterdam Avenue when The Rooster stooped and pointed at Fred's on the corner of 83rd across the street from Hi Life. The bar was located in the basement on the corner of 83rd and we could see inside. A group of hot chicks were huddled around the bar.

"We're going in here," said The Rooster as he ran down the steps and disappeared into a sea of J Crew models.

The space was tiny and crowded, but lit very well. As I sat down at the bar adorned in white blinking Christmas lights, The Rooster made idle chat with the ladies around us. When a hot blonde bartender asked us for our drinks, The Rooster quickly answered, "A Jack and Coke for me. A Screwdriver for Pauly Drama. And your phone number."

She smiled and said, "I've never heard that one before."

"You've never heard of a screwdriver?" I added. "Where the fuck are you from Iowa?"

I looked around the bar and realized that everyone was dressed up extremely nice. Too nice. The room reminded me of a bunch of LA douchebags. That's the vibe I got even though in NYC, people tend to dress up a lot when they go out or they are coming from work. The crowd in this bar was dressed for the occasion. A special occasion, I noted. Company party? Nah... everyone looked to pretty. But it looked like a private party. People were ordering drinks and not paying.

Ethan Hawke stood up from a table behind me. He had not shaved in weeks and looked like he just got out of bed. I noticed another guy who looked like an actor Josh Hamilton. A very drunk girl in a red polka dot dress held a plastic cup filled with Goldfish. She handed one to Ethan, then she handed one each to me and The Rooster.

I ordered three shots of Jagermesiter which was fitting since we crashed Ethan's Christmas party. I wanted him to have a conversation the next day that began, "Everything was great until I started shooting Jager with The Rooster. He's one cagey mofo."

I handed one shot of Jager to Ethan and the other to The Rooster. Then things got blurry. A second bartender came over five minutes later and told The Rooster and I that we'd could finish our drinks, but when we were done we had to leave since it was a private function. He meant to tell us twenty minutes earlier when we walked in. I knew that we were crashing a private party. I didn't realize that it was Ethan's Christmas party. I obliged but The Rooster took offense to us being asked to leave.

"You're kicking me out because I'm Mexican, right?"

The bartender had a blank stare and didn't know what to say.

"See this is the bullshit and discrimination I have to put up with all the time. This bar doesn't serve Mexicans. Total bullshit."

They handed The Rooster his tab and credit card slip and he whispered to me that he wasn't going to tip. He stiffed the bartenders after they asked us to leave. I stumbled outside and began to piss around the corner against one of their side doors. I looked at a text message I got from Otis.

"Ask Ethan if he can get me Winona's number."

When I was done with my public display of urination, The Rooster stood in front of Fred's with Ethan Hawke who smoked a cigarette. That's when I yelled out, "Yo Ethan, who's better in the sack? Winona or Uma?"

He didn't look at me. Instead, he took one final drag of his butt and then flicked it into the street. He went back down the stairs and into the bar. That's when The Rooster and the owner started to have words.

"You got me kicked out because I'm Mexican, right? I bet you hate Tony Romo too."

"I kicked you out because you're short and fat," the owner said.

"You still served Ethan," I mentioned. "Post-Uma he's short and fat."

"You talk a lot of shit, why don't you step over here and we'll discuss this like men," yelled The Rooster.

The owner was intimidated but he figured The Rooster was just talking smack. He didn't come out to the middle of the sidewalk and stood at the top of the stairs jawing back. He knew if The Rooster made a move at him, he'd have enough time to scurry down the stairs and into the bar.That's when the Rooster unleashed a verbal tirade at the guy trying to egg him into a fight.

"I fucked your mother an hour ago. She still has some of my cum splashing around her pussy."

That was by far the funniest thing I can recall The Rooster yelling at the guy who's only comeback was his standard, "Go drink somewhere else where they serve short fat guys."

"Your momma loved my cock in her mouth. Especially after I put it in your sister's ass," The Rooster screamed as we crossed the street and wandered into the ninth or tenth bar of the evening.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Still Drunk...

I woke up 8 minutes ago... and I'm still drunk. By the way, Ethan Hawke is a dick. STay tuned for the story after I sober up.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Dead News and Casey Jones on SNL

Dead News is a new favorite site of mine. Check out Dead News for all the latest info about my favorite band... The Gratfeul Dead.

That's where I found out that the Dead was nominated for a lifetime achievement award for the Grammy's along with a great SNL anticdote which incudes vids of their SNL performances of Casey Jones and I Need A Miracle.

I decided to post Casey Jones from SNL circa 1978 (click on the link to view video for RSS or Bloglines readers or click through to the Tao of Pauly to view), which happens to be my all-time favorite Dead song.

Last 5 Books I Saw People Reading on the Subway...

1. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Marukami
2. Limitations by Scott Turow
3. The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai
4. Next by Michael Crichton
5. Lisey's Story by Stephen King

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Had I known that Hydrocodone was generic Vicodin, I would have grabbed the bottle out of my mother's hand when she offered it to me. That was weeks ago.

Shortly after Trey's DUI arrest, I brushed up on my pharmacopoeia lingo and discovered that I had access to a lot of painkillers. Sweet. Mother. Of. God.

I fell asleep shortly before sunrise and woke up around 10ish. I wanted to sleep from 2 to 7, but I can never control that aspect of my life. I should have stayed up until 6am working, reading, or playing online poker. Instead, I tried to fall asleep by listening to music and kept digging through my iPod hoping that the next album I'd put on would be the music I eventually fell asleep to. No suck luck.

When I woke, I rushed over to the grocery store to buy bananas, skim milk, and Grape Nuts for breakfast. It was cold and an old Jewish lady with a cane cursed at me under her breath after I refused to let her cut in front of me with a twenty items in an express lane. I pointed up at the "Express Lane 10 Items or Less" sign and she hobbled off. Fuckin' angle shooters.

I loaded up on Vitamin B-12 and C to ward off the inkling of a cold that I detected on Tuesday night. My immune system is in good spirits these days, but the absurd fluctuations in temperatures in NYC (60 to 30) has been messing with my body. Either I'm totally overdressed and sweating my ass off or undressed and freezing my nipples solid.

With less than an hour to spare, I breezed through a second draft of an article that was due at Noon. I thought about getting up early to write it, but felt good that the A-Student in me made the command decision to start preliminary notes on the article on Tuesday afternoon and finished the first draft late last night.

I felt blah while I wrote. Not full on sick, but not quite right. I could tell there was a battle going on in my blood stream. A cold wanted to take control of my body but my boosted immune system was fighting it off. The result was that middle ground where you feel like you are about to get sick or the day after you've been sick and you are starting to feel better. I couldn't tell which part of me was which.

That was fitting since I had seen A Scanner Darkly the night before and I was in the right frame of mind to question my sanity and personal identity crisis. Like most works by Philip K. Dick, I ended up asking a lot of questions afterward I saw the film. Twice. Like... what the fuck happened there? I still don't get it. Maybe I should get addicted to speed? Is the government bugging me? Hacking my email?

I ignored conventional cold remedies like NyQuil or Sudafed and popped a pain killer instead to fight off the germs. I figured whatever aches and sluggish nature would simply evaporate.

I waited for the warm fuzziness to kick in before I started writing for a few more hours. I read for twenty minutes before I forgot about a Netflix movie that my mother wanted me to mail for her. It was The Devil Wears Prada, a chick lit book about the fashion industry that Hollyweird brought to the big screen. Maybe the pills were starting to work, because I decided to put it on and give the flick a watch. I'm a Meryl Streep fan and ever since I saw Anne Hathaway's tits, I've had this odd fantasy that I want to fuck her brains out with a face towel from the Bellagio stuffed into her mouth.

So I watched the chick flick based on chick lit hoping to see Anne Hathaway's tits. I got about twenty minutes in before I gave up. Actually, I got scared because there was a scene where the main character gave her friend a free Marc Jacobs bag. When she pulled it out I immediately thought, "That's a Marc Jacobs bag. Nicky has one just like that but in red... actually it's not red more like strawberry colored or a dark pink."

That's when I jumped up before a giant beer can fell out of the sky and smashed me on the head. I turned off the movie, sealed it up, and decided that the pharmies had kicked in. Time to stop farting around and write...

I wrote for an hour before I worked on something for my poker blog. I rambled on for forty minutes before I decided I sounded like a drug fiend describing the dark side of Las Vegas and how seedy the poker world is. I then realized that's why people read the blog. Everyday.

I stopped to field two phone calls before updating the languishing Tao of Pauly. I think you've been caught up with everything. I still feel blah. What else is new?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


My flight from LA to NYC was delayed a few minutes. Instead of sitting down in the terminal, I stood up and leaned against the wall of Long Beach Airport. I knew I'd be sitting for almost five hours so relished the opportunity to walk around and stand up.

There was a cute college-aged girl with curly blonde hair going home for Christmas break. She wore a sundress, Uggs, a light winter jacket, and a ski cap. She had that tinge of Lindsay Lohan trashiness that she might actually have an eight-ball on her, but only $8 in cash and a Platinum American Express Card in her pocket book. She thumbed through a copy of US magainze, then moved onto the lastest issue of Premiere. Fucking actresses.

I was assigned the exit row on my JetBlue flight, which meant more leg room. I feel confident in my ability to handle the exit doors in case of an emergency. And the best part is that I'd be one of the first people off the plane in case it happens to crash and there's that 1% chance I survive without any broken limbs, then I'll be able to pop that fucker open and slide on out leading the rest of the plane to safety. But the leg room was the best part about the flight, that and the fact there was only two empty seats on the entire flight and one of those was next to me.

I flipped back and forth between the Food Network (Rachel Ray doing holiday meals and treats) and the National Geogrpahic channel talking about volcanoes and plate tectonics. I watched ESPNews cover the brawl in the Knicks-Nuggets game and must have seen that video footage a hundred times before we even got into the Eastern Time Zone.

We arrived at JFK exactly on time due to a heavy tail wind and our flight was a little more than 4 hours and 15 minutes. Like the captain promised, he made up the time in the air. That might have been a record for me, flying from Southern California to NYC in 4:15. And then I got luckier. Although I had to wait forty minutes for my luggage to spit out on the baggage claim belt, I was the second person in line at the taxi stand. It was almost empty at 1am and about twenty cabs were lined up with no customers. The cabbies were milling around in a circle smoking cigarettes while I lumbered up with my bags.

My cabbie asked if my flight was delayed because he had been waiting ninety minutes to get a fare. That was rare for the holiday season at JFK. I felt bad for his lost time and gave him a $20 tip.

As soon as I got home, I began the routine. I put all my mail in a pile and began the sorting process. A few gifts for relatives came and I put those aside. I separated the bills and statements from the junk mail. I put aside a couple of paychecks. I sorted through all of the mail-order catalogues, alumni magazines, film & poker & sports magazines and made two piles. I threw out all of the junk mail, alumni mags, and catalogues. I kept the other magazines and would dig into them on various trips to the bathroom over the next week. I ripped open a couple of pay checks and marked off that I had been finally paid for those freelance articles.

There's a three to six month lag from the time I submit a piece to the time the piece is published and I actually get paid. Yes, I'm finally collecting paychecks from things I wrote this summer at the World Series of Poker. I won't get compensated for some of the articles I've been working on this month until after Memorial Day. If I can get everything by July 4th, I'll consider myself lucky.

I unpacked my carry-on bag which is my laptop and a few items like books and my notes. Then I took on the tough task of unpacking my big bag. I noticed that the straps were undone and as I unzipped the main compartment, I found a buck slip from the TSA. My luggage had been inspected by the powers to be in Homeland Security and they left a kind note saying that they peeked at my dirty underwear and went through my entire piece of luggage looking for Osama Bin Laden or who knows what. I'm 98% sure everything is where it should be.

On Sunday night, I was so exhausted that I fell asleep at 3am and didn't wake up until 10am. I slept for seven straight hours without waking up once. That happens about once a year for me and usually I need the assistance of a sleeping aid or painkillers to knock me out. My body was so exhausted after a seven week bender which included two trips to Las Vegas and a trip to Amsterdam.

When I woke up, I was still tired and felt like I needed another two or three hours. I forced myself to get up because I had a shitload of writing to do, errands to run, Christmas presents to buy, and a month long trip to Australia to prep for. I had no time for sleep and was burning daylight. But I was glad I got seven straight hours. My body needed it.

I found an entire bottle of generic Vicodin yesterday (thanks to my mother). She was going to give it to me a few weeks ago after dental surgery, but she forgot. I stumbled upon those gems and my mouth began to salivate. Nothing takes the edge off a tough day like a Vike and a bong hit. And yes, Trey was busted in upstate NY last weekend with a bottle of the same pills!

Recent Writing Music...
1. Eric Dolphy
2. Brian Jonestown Massacre
3. Tool
4. Galactic
5. Yonder Mountain String Band

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Summer Roberts

There was no traffic driving from Las Vegas to LA. That was a lovely surprise. Nothing is worse than having to sit in traffic after a long Vegas bender. I drove the rental car halfway through the desert and Nicky took the wheel for the final two hours of the LA approach. She safely navigated us back home without any delays.

It was late for LA dining standards, well after 8:30. There were not too many eateries open late on a weekday night that's why Nicky suggested Doughboys on 3rd Street, only a few minutes from the apartment. When we drove by, the place was packed with several parties of people mingling in front waiting for tables. There was no parking within the four or five block radius of Doughboys. After a few expletives, Nicky made a command decision and drove a few blocks to The Grove to eat in the outdoors Farmer's Market.

We headed to the back near Gumbo Pot. I ordered a blackened chicken breast Po Boy with a spicy Creole mustard and a side order of red beans and rice with a glass of mint flavored iced tea. The beans and rice and the chicken were both spicy but not too hot that you couldn't taste the rest of the food. Nicky ordered soup in a bread bowl and all I could think about was that Seinfeld episode when Costanza worked for the Yankees and George Steinbrenner (voice by Larry David) was telling him about eating chili in a bread bowl.

On our way out of the Grove, we had to navigate through a myriad of Christmas shoppers with bags and bags of overpriced material items for loved ones. We eventually got to the elevator in the parking deck. I was the person closest to the doors as we waited for the elevator. When it arrived, the doors opened and Rachel Bilson from The OC stood by herself. She was super tiny and smiled at me as she walked out. I got in and mentioned something to Nicky who said, "In LA, if you see someone who looks famous, it's usually them."

Two days later Showcase called to say he spotted Rachel Bilson walking down Olympic Blvd. He even stopped to snap a photo with his camera phone.

I should have been writing, but we went to see Casino Royale instead. I heard positive reviews from friends, and I had always been a fan of James Bond flicks. I'm in the majority when I say that the franchise progressively went downhill over the years. Sure there were some random good flicks in the 1980s and 1990s, but ever since Sean Connery stopped playing Bond, the other actors who took on the role we're never as convincing as Connery.

Indeed, Casino Royale was the best bond flick in years and Daniel Craig might be the best Bond since Connery. The thirst 2/3 of the film were entertaining, while the final act fell flat on its face for me. I couldn't wait for it to end. Overall, I enjoyed it and was interested what parts of the third act that Paul Haggis (Oscar winner for directing Crash) re-wrote because it was plain awful.

The footchase scenes were spectacular, particularly the construction site/embassy chase. Craig's Bond is in the best shape of his life and we realistically get to see scraped knuckles and bruised faces on Bond after his fisticuffs with the bad guys. The poker scenes were near flawless. Former studio-exec Nicky thought the film was good and gave it her stamp of approval.

I stuck around LA for two extra days while I worked on a deadline. It was a little harder to get back into the writer's mode after that whirlwind Vegas trip. My trip reports took longer to write... because I didn't feel like writing. Period. I had the stories pre-written in my head. Physically, I didn't want to sit down to crank them out. I've learned enough about my craft to understand that when I need to press the issue and force myself to write or when I should just sit back and wait until the words are ready to flow through me.

On Thursday night, Nicky drove downtown near Union Station to buy a Christmas tree. There was a tree auction going on while we walked into the lot as a woman on a bullhorn was pimping off a seven footer. One guy bought it for $45. We headed to the back of the lot as Nicky walked through several rows looking for the right six footer. She had a system and carefully inspected a few that she considered to be possible choices. Even though Showcase was Jewish, he loved having a Christmas tree in the apartment. He never got to experience what that was like to wake up to the fresh smell of fir needles.

Nicky found a noble fir that she liked. The price was $69 for a shrubby six footer but it was tilting. Slightly. A saleswoman came over and offered to knock $19 off as a "Tilting Tree Discount." A couple of books underneath the stand would correct the tiltage, so Nicky agreed to buy the tree for $50. They tied it on the roof of her car and she gave the woman a $5 tip. We careful drove back to the apartment on the side streets all the way down Olympic Blvd. towards Beverly Hills.

I dragged the tree inside and within minutes, Nicky had lights around the tree and for the first time since I was in LA, it actually felt like Christmas. Except that it was 67 degrees.

After a couple of attempts at Doughboys (parking is a bitch around there and Nicky's negative parking chi cockblocked us from finding a decent spot), we finally made it for breakfast there on Friday morning. I had been up for almost six hours before we went so I was famished. They specialize in breads and plenty of breakfast items like stuffed French Toast with cream cheese and strawberries or their infamous Banana and Pecan Pancakes with Butterscotch syrup. That's what Nicky ordered.

I went for the "Breakfast Sandwich" which has enough grease in it to drown an elephant. It's two thick slices of pan di mie bread with two fried eggs with emmanthal cheese and bacon. They grill the sandwich then top it with more emmanthal cheese and gratineed. It was tasty but could have used a little less cheese but more bacon and scrambled eggs instead of fried eggs. Hours after I finished, I was still stuffed and could feel the grease floating around in my stomach.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Happy Birthday Spaceman!

My buddy Spaceman turns 30 today! Stop by his blog and send him birthday wishes!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Trey's DWI and Drug Bust

Trey got nabbed by the federalies with some pharmies. He likes his Zannies! Here's what The Smoking Gun said:
Former Phish frontman Trey Anastasio was arrested in December 2006 by upstate New York cops for driving while intoxicated and illegal possession of a variety of medications (Xanax, Percocet, and Hydrocodone) prescribed in someone else's name. Anastasio, 42, whose real first name is Ernest, was nabbed by Whitehall police just miles from the Vermont border following a traffic stop. He was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, DWI-drugs, and driving without a license.
Trey has a new chapter in his E Hollyweird story. You're not really a rock star until you get a DWI or a drug bust anyway. More details in this article where Trey admitted to smoking hashish before driving.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Stuck in LA

I'm in LA through Saturday. I have deadline(s) and can't leave until I finish. Uggggh.

I've been dealing with some petty stuff which is time consuming and I've already wasted two full days on that bullshit. Don't you hate when that happens and adults act like 5th graders? As is, the little side drama put me behind schedule. I should have just ignored it.

I saw the James Bond flick and saw Rachel Bilson within a 24 hour period at The Grove. Will write more deatils later about both. I have a column to write, a Vegas trip report to pen, videos to edit, and a new issue of Truckin' to publish. I have been up for almost 30 hours and won't sleep until I get all of that work done.

A foul mood has been lingering for a full day and it won't go away.

* * * * * Update * * * * *

12:34pm... Showcase called to say he saw Rachel Bilson on Olympic Blvd. and snapped a photo with his cell phone. Two sightings in a three day period. Yikes.

1:26pm... Finished first drfat of a column due on Friday. Will let it settle for a few hours while I work on a Vegas trip report.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


For the dozen or so of you that knew of my anguish... I just found out I do not have to take a drug test for a freelance job I was offered.


Man, I was sweating like a whore in church on that possibility. Time to celebrate with a Thai hooker and an 8-ball.
Some Vegas Pics

View from my balcony

F Train and Maudie

Chicks dig AlCantHang

Gracie's knife wound

One of Steve Wynn's hundred Christmas trees

Bald spot trivia: Which one is Pauly? and Michalski?

Maudie's tattoo

Early evening view from the balcony

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Two years ago after the first every gathering of the tribes in Las Vegas, I wrote:
There's never a perfect place to start a Vegas trip report. You just have to close your eyes and pluck moments out of the air. Ah, and notes are a godsend.
That's how I feel about this past weekend. There's simply too much for me to construct the events into a running narrative. Hopefully I'll do my best to piece together the past weekend with friends.

I must admit that I've been taking less notes and less pictures these days. For me, I have more time to live life and experience it in the moment while it's happening than worrying about getting down all the juicy details. That sucks for readers and friends who couldn't make it. However, that means the experiences have reached a higher level of enrichment. And I cherish everyone one of those moments.

I have mentioned to more than one blogger that I consider myself one of the luckiest persons on the planet. I have been living the good life and the last two years have been some of the most fulfilling in my three plus decades in this universe. I also live with a morbid fear that the powers to be (pick your higher being: God, Buddha, Allah, Raelians, or Thetans) will take everything away from me at any given moment. It's a matter of time before all this is over. It's inevitable of course. Birth. Life. Death. Because I know there's an expiration date on all this goodness, I'm enjoying every second of it while I can.

If all this ends tomorrow, I'll have zero regrets because I've become friends with some of the coolest people that have roamed Earth (e.g. AlCantHang) and poker has brought me closer to my brother. For some reason whether it's fate, destiny, or pure coincidence... we have all crossed paths at this time and place in the cosmos. Our collective shared experience is what make life worth living. And despite whatever badness and negativity hovers over our daily lives, for a couple of days a year everyone leaves their protective bubbles and heads to Sin City to participate in the gathering of the tribes.

I've been to all five gatheings and aside from the first one, this one was by far my favorite because of you guys and girls who attended. Without all of you in my life, my world is dark without passion and any semblance of meaning. With all of you in it, I'm energized, motivated, and feel secure. My world is brighter because we have crossed paths. For that, I'll be eternally grateful.

I also wrote the following passage two years ago and the words still resonate with me today:
It was a freak accident that all this happened.... from me still being alive and not drinking myself to the gutter, to starting this blog, to discovering other bloggers, to developing friendships, becoming a part of a cool community, and then celebrating it all in Las Vegas... it's absurd to think that my life as I know it today... might never had come to fruition if certain tragic events had not happened.

I lost touch with me for a while. And when I least expected it, I rediscovered myself and found a dozen new friends along the way.

Vegas with the bloggers was one of my five favorite trips all time and I've been overflowing with inspiration since then. And I'm someone who's lived life and cricled the globe. I've traveled to a lot of places, seen a lot of different faces, and certainly done my share of wallowing in the hedonistic rock star lifestyle.

You have to believe me when I tell you the trip was extraordinary...

not because of the poker...
not because of the partying...
not because of the poker pros...
not because of Vegas...

the trip was amazing but because of the people involved.

I'm forged some new friendships, strengthened old ones, and bonded with a group of people whom I am proud to call my friends. I'm not exaggerarting when I say that the poker blogging community (not just those who were in Las Vegas)... saved my life in more ways than you'll ever know. Thanks again.
Well said. Stay tuned for more updates.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Snailtrax, Male Prostitute


Moments ago, my junk was fondled by a hooker with breasts the size of watermelons at the Geisha Bar at the Imperial Palace. Daddy, Derek, BG, and myself were closing the convention with one final drink(s) to celebrate an amazing weekend of friends and debauchery, as we bullshitted about the weekend over a couple of SoCos. That's when the hooker appeared out of nowhere like a cockroach scurrying across your kitchen floor at 5am.

She looked used and abused and about thirty-five pounds overweight. She walked over and gently touched Daddy's beer gut. I wondered about how many tricks she's done in the last two weeks.

"Listen honey, I'll let you have sex with me for $800," Daddy shouted loud enough that one of the dealers from an adjacent Let It Ride table looked up.

"I have to pay you?" the hooker inquired. "What kind of bullshit is that?"

"Yes you have to pay me. You don't get to see the vanilla gorilla unless you show me eight one $100 bills."

As the two negotiated the price, she occasionally rubbed one hand on my crotch as my brother gave me a look like, "this fuckin' chick is nuts and I hope her pimp doesn't see us in action."

"Be careful," Derek warned as he made eye contact with Daddy. "Don't forget about Rule #20."

"You're a freak," Daddy mentioned to the working girl as she pointed out the multiple stains on his Johnny Unitas replica football jersey.

"Yeah? So what? There are a lot of ridiculous things about this fuckin' world. And I'm one of them."

For some reason that line stood out. Hookers pontificating about philosophy on a Monday morning in Las Vegas was the last thing I was expecting as I sipped on my Corona.

She sat down at a video poker machine and made two phone calls. An intoxicated Daddy leaned over and whispered something in her ear. He asked if she would be interested in letting BG sniff her underwear for $17.

"I'm not that kinda of girl," she said.

"Doc will do it for $4," he counter offered.
Bloody Sunday

I had a rough day in Las Vegas on Sunday. I think as of 4:20am I'm stuck 2K and haven't slept much since I got here on Wednesday. My losses include Pai Gow, craps, poker, and betting on the NFL and the NBA.

My bottomless pit of a soul is figuring out what the fuck happened. Regardless if the losses, I'm having a blast with some old friends and a few newer ones. Stay tuned for pics and stories.

Thursday, December 07, 2006


We walked around the corner to the rental agency (only a two minute walk from Nicky and SHowcase's apartment) and picked up the car in less than 15 minutes. We drove one block to Nick's for breakfast (bacon, eggs, hashbrowns, and wheat toast) before we loaded up the car with luggage, water, and CDs and hit the road.

The drive to Vegas was fast with next to no traffic. It took about four hours to drive from Hollyweird to Sin City with only a ten minute stop in Baker to load up on gas and water. Nicky craved Taco Bell even though I warned her about all the sick customers on Long Island and in New Jersey. She didn't care (even after seeing Fast Food Nation the day before) and bought an E. Coli Taco anyway.

I drove the last hour of the trip into Vegas. Nicky does all the LA driving and I take the wheel in Nevada. Most of the bloggers are staying at the Imperial Palace (second December in a row) for our convention this weekend. Usually I like staying at the Excalibur, but the IP is cheap and in the heart of the Strip. We got a decent room on a top floor with a Strip view without having to tip extra. I saved anywhere from $40 to $100 there. After a nap, we wandered across over to the Mirage for dinner and poker.

I ate a delicious desert called the Hot Fudge Volcano at the Caribe Cafe in the Mirage. It's a chilled plate with a bottom layer of hot fudge then topped by three massive scoops of Vanilla ice cream. Four tasty brownies are stacked together to form the base of the volcano. It's topped with more hot fudge, whipped cream, chocolate chips, and a cherry. We could not finish it. Derek ad Daddy would have crushed it, but Nicky and I wussed out about 2/3 of the way through.

I played some poker against really bad tourists at the Mirage. One middle-aged frumpy chick with awful 1980s hair won a $400+ pot off of me and I although I only lost about $200 on that hand, I could have lost twice as much but made an unconventional move to save my chips.

After a couple of hours, I won $100 and decided to join Nicky at a different table for lower stakes. I drank a couple of beers and we eventually left after Midnight before returning to the IP. There were empty seats at a Pai Gow table and I ended up on a rush winning a few more bucks while knocking back two Makers and gingerales. The first one was basically a glass of gingerale with two ice cubes and a splash of booze. The second one was 50% ice but 45% booze and just 5% gingerale. The waitress, with tits the size of Toledo, called me "Precious."

Yes, I am precious.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Wednesday Quickie

Couldn't sleep. What else is new?

I was writing by 5am. Nothing special. Just thoughts and an outline for a high concept film that I'd like to write a year from now if I can find the time.

No sign of the kittens. The alley is quiet and empty. Nicky left out some scraps from dinner last night for the kittens but it's not there anymore. And dinner last night was... Zankou Chicken. For $10 you get a whole fuckin' chicken with extra pita bread and garlic sauce. Best deal in Hollyweird.

Showcase left for the airport at 5:20am. He's going to NY for the Jewish holidays via JetBlue. His girlfriend woke up at 6:30am to go to work. She's in the film industry and does pre-production on a sequel to a movie that I'm embarrassed to say that I've seen the original. I should be shot.

The only time I see movies in the theatre are in cities like Las Vegas or in LA. I've seen two flicks since Monday... Bobby and Fast Food Nation. Both are depressing but I had a few laughs along the way. Emilio Estevez directed Bobby while one of my favorite directors, Richard Linklater, spearheaded Fast Food Nation, the film version of Eric Schlosser's book of the same title. Both flicks feature cameos from several big stars and had violent and depressing endings. Bobby Kennedy got whacked at the end of Bobby and you eventually see the killing floor of a slaughterhouse at the end of Fast Food Nation. I'd write two reviews, but I'm pressed for time.

Leaving for Vegas soon, that is as soon as Nicky wakes up we'll pick up the rental car, then load it up before driving to Las Vegas. I'll be there for a week hanging out with my brother and other friends and bloggers before we drive back to LA.

Last year at his time, my head was in a bad spot. My grandmother had just passed away and I was burnt out after six months of non-stop work and travel. I hated myself. I hated Las Vegas. I hated my writing. I hated losing at cards. And I hated everything poker. I'm shocked that I made it out of Las Vegas alive last December even though I had a mini-breakdown shortly after the bloggers left town. That dark cloud of depression hit me hard. And being down in Vegas is hard to overcome.

It's good to know that I'm in a much better head space this time around with regard to my writing, my career, and my relationships with friends and family. Indeed, this trip to Las Vegas is a true celebration of what I (and many other friends of mine) have accomplished in the last few years.

I met Wheaton for dinner on Monday. He's not gong to Vegas, so I made an effort to see him while I was in town. Nicky drove me out to Glendale so we could check out Damon's Steakhouse which is a tiki themed eatery that's been around for over 70 years. The have a weird house dressing for their salads and their garlic bread is pretty kick ass. The filet was better than average but their double-baked baked potatoes were the shit. I spent almost everyday this summer hanging out with Wheaton, so you can say I needed my Wheatie fix.

After dinner with Wheaton, we headed back to the apartment and watched Heroes and Studio 60 via TiVo. Showcase mentioned that he once did a scene with Hiro (the actor's real name is Masi Oka) a few years ago. They both had small bits in Legally Blonde 2 as congressional interns. And now Hiro is big time due to the success of Heroes.

On Tuesday morning, I woke up early to write and eventually went to breakfast at John O'Graots across from the Fox lot on Pico. That's where they serve the best French Toast and bacon in all of California. I came in my pants three times during the consumption of bacon. Daddy would have been proud.

On Tuesday afternoon, I ran a few errands including going to the drug store to stock up on Motrin. In California, they sell hard liquor in supermarkets and in drug stores so I wasn't shocked to see a bottle of SoCo on sale for $8.99. I bought it for AlCantHang to use as his personal "bathroom" bottle in Las Vegas. He ordered me to crack it open and do a dial-a-shot with him and BigMike last night. He also said, "You better have that bottle empty by the time I get to Vegas!"

AlCantHang consumes that in a single night. On a slow night. And I'd need at least a week to polish off one of those. I estimated that I'd be doing around 20-25 shots of SoCo this weekend. My liver is going to hate me.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Los Potheads

Nicky made Showcase and I an amazing breakfast (crispy bacon & cheesy eggs with toasted baguette slices) on a lazy Sunday morning as I watched the San Diego Chargers game and kept an eye on the Jets game online. The best part about football season on the West Coast is that you wake up at 9am to watch the pre-game stuff and by 4:30pm, all but two of the games are done.

The Jets put an ass whooping on the Green Bay Packers as I got to flip back and forth between the Chargers-Bills game and the New Orleans-San Francisco game. The Chargers game was blah, but the N'arlins game featured some excitement as Reggie Bush rushed for 4 TDs.

Showcase eventually motivated to go to the medicinal marijuana smoke shop and returned with a paper bag filled with some of the finest herbs in Southern California. Nicky and I smoked strains like Buddha's Sister and NYC Diesel in Amsterdam and Showcase was able to get us some of those delicious nuggets along with other tasty favorites such as Sensi Star and Chem Dawg. For non-pot smokers and wine connoisseurs, what we got to feast on would be the equivalent of buying ten out of the top twenty best bottles of wines in the world and getting to drink glass after glass after glass.

Showcase's girlfriend Tina came over and I took everyone out to Sunday dinner. Nicky suggested Zen Grill, which is an Asian fusion restaurant with both plenty of sushi and Thai dishes. Zen Grill was tiny with only a few tables and the workers were adorable Asian women who barely spoke English. But the food was excellent and the dishes were moderately priced.

I drank Kirin and for my appetizer, I ordered the minced chicken in lettuce cups which was served in Zen's famous hoisen sauce. Showcase ordered the table chicken satay and albacore sashimi with sprinkled roasted garlic. Those were super spicy. My main dish was the Mongolian Chicken served in a mini-wok with white and green onions, garlic, and a spicy Zen sauce with Jasmine rice. Nicky ordered an aromatic dish called the Thai Green Curry.

I couldn't sleep and woke up early on Monday to write and watched the kittens in the alley. I greeted Tina and Showcase when they woke up to start the work day. Tina had jury duty and was not looking forward to that ordeal while Showcase headed to a temp assignment in an office building on Wilshire Blvd. We waked and baked. Everyone in Hollyweird gets high before they start the day. Whether its coffee, cocaine, yoga, or jogging... folks got high before they have to drive around in their metal coffins for the remainder of the day shielding them from constant sun and smog.

While I wrote, Nicky picked up a croissants at Yum Yum on La Cienega, which has some of the best 24 hour donuts in LA. I was supposed to meet Wheaton for lunch at a cafe in Pasadena but he had to cancel because the cable guy was coming over. We rescheduled for dinner which left my afternoon free.

Nicky and I drove over to the Grove for a quick bite in the Farmer's Market at the Italian joint all the way in the back by the Gumbo place. They have the best chicken parmesan paninis in LA for $8.50. They take a while to make, but it's worth it.

I needed a pair of jeans and sheepishly mentioned to Nicky about going shopping at some point during my time in LA. She got very excited, which most chicks do when they hear the words "shopping." She suggested three or four stores in the Grove but I knew that I'd buy something at the first (and only) store I'd walk into. I hate shopping with a passion but my two other pairs of jeans didn't fit anymore after I dropped 20+ pounds. Nicky convinced me that I should open up the wallet to get a few nice items instead of gambling my cash away at the poker tables or in the stock market buying dogshit stocks like Brasil Telecom.

She eyed Lucky Jeans and as soon I took a step inside, a young mousey blonde salesperson nearly attacked me. "Can I help you today?"

I just pointed at Nicky and let the chicks discuss my situation. She pointed to a wall of jeans as I just sighed. Nicky picked up five different pairs and I headed to the dressing room. I liked the first pair I tried on and ended up getting that design. In and out in less than 15 minutes. That's how I shop. A different girl at the cash register rang me up and the exotic-looking dark haired waif started hitting on me. In front of Nicky.

"So whatchya doing later today?" she said.

"Um, I'm going home to get high then I'm gonna write."

Without blinking she said, "Cool. Good to see you're getting your work done."

"I should kick her ass!" Nicky joked as we walked out.

It's one thing if she said that before I bought the clothes, but she was flirting post-sale with a guy who forked over $100 for a pair of hipster jeans. Nice straight rich guys are hard to come by in Hollyweird. But she doesn't know that although I'm cash rich today, I'll be broke in a year, two max.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Alley Kittens

The kittens come out at random times. A few weeks ago, a stray litter of feral kittens were born somewhere in the adjacent alley to Nicky's apartment. The tiny adorable furballs rummage through the dumpster looking for food, small rodents, and bugs to feast on and Nicky has fed the saucers of milk from time to time. They are an extremely shy bunch and dart away as soon as make a single motion towards them.

The cellphone reception in Nicky's apartment in mostly average with some horrible spots. I usually made calls in the alley using the long narrow space to pace back and forth. While on one call to Jerry on Sunday morning, I looked up and saw one kitten pop its head out of the dumpster, which overflows on the weekends. I took a step forth and she jumped out and ran off underneath a hole in the wooden fence.

In the mornings I sit at the dining room table and write with my back to the window that faces the alley. I occasionally look out of the window while I let sentences unfold in my head before I type them out. That's when the kittens play around the most... early in the morning while I write.

On late Saturday morning, we went to Nick's for breakfast. I ate a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich on wheat toast with hash browns. I'm addicted to that combination. The staff at Nick's is always happy to see us because I tip them well.

"Most of these LA douchebags are too self-involved," commented Nicky. "And they're too cheap to tip."

Those are the types of people who will piss away a couple hundred dollars on a pair of jeans and have no qualms about stiffing waitresses. Plus everyone else in this town is cash poor and struggling writers and actors don't tip big out of self-preservation. It's good to be missed in two different diners in LA and in NYC like the Greek guys in Riverdale who put salt, pepper, and ketchup on every kind of sandwich.

On Saturday afternoon, we went up Pacific Coast Highway for a drive past Malibu and Zuma Beach over into Ventura County before we turned around and headed back into the city. There was a sinkhole on the southbound lane on PCH due to a watermain break and that jammed up traffic for a bit as construction crews raced to fix the hole.

I watched the end of UCLA's upset of USC before going out to dinner at El Cholo, a Mexican joint in Koreatown that has been an LA standard for over seventy years. I ordered two Coronas, the Dorado Burrito (a beef chili burrito) and a quesadilla with Black Creek cheddar and Jack cheeses. I was friggin' hungry and ate almost everything (minus he veggies). Nicky ordered a Margarita and Tres Tacos al Carbon. Yes, those tacos had bacon in them.

El Cholo was filled with plenty of snooty USC fans on their way back home from the game. On our way out, a tipsy Nicky taunted a few and shouted, "Go Bruins!"

* * * * *

I woke up at 6am on Sunday and couldn't fall back asleep. I went out to the dining room table and checked flights to Florida in March and discovered $99 one-way fares to and from LaGuardia to Ft. Lauderdale. Instead of waiting 24 hours which I try to do before any major online purchases (especially travel), I seized the opportunity to cash in on a sweet deal. The flight cost me $220 in all. I had a coupon for free roundtrip flight but decided to use that on a more expensive flight like NYC to LA. Actually, I've flown so much on JetBlue in the last twelve months, that I'm approaching my third free flight on JetBlue. That's my airline of choice and I don't fly any other airline if I'm going out to LA or Las Vegas. Luckily they have gates in Florida and I can get more points with my recent purchase.

JetBlue awards their frequent fliers free flights when you reach 100 TrueBlue points. Long flights are 12 points each way. That means you need at least four round trip cross-country flights, plus one more smaller flight to get a free roundtripper. Not too shabby for someone like me since I criss cross the country a dozen a times a year.

Last December, I had 110 points and earned a coupon, but had to use my free flight to go home to NYC for my grandmother's funeral since I was on the West Coast when she passed away. By Memorial Day of this year, I racked up 100 more points after four more cast-to-coast flights. And after I complete my flight back to NYC in two weeks, I'll be eligible for my second free roundtrip flight (third inside of 12 months) to anywhere that JetBlue flies.

After I booked my flight, I sat down and wrote for two hours. I touched up one article for a Monday deadline and mailed it to my editor... one day early. I did that twice this week and shouldn't get into a habit of turning in work early because then that's what will be expected of me. I usually turn stuff in a few hours before deadline.

One of the kittens scurried out from underneath the fence and walked back and forth as I wrote about the purplish hues of the Hollywood Hills that reflected through the smog-ridden sunset as Nicky and I drove back into the city after our drive to Malibu.

I tapped my finger on the window and the startled kitten took off and disappeared down the alley.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Last 5 Books I Saw People Reading on the Subway...

Last 5 Books I Saw People Reading on Airplanes...
1. Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
2. Freakanomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
3. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
4. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
5. Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs

Last 5 Books I Saw People Reading on the Subway...
1. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
2. The Holy Bible
3. Chronicles, Volume 1 by Bob Dylan
4. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
5. Happy All the Time by Laurie Colwin