Sunday, April 30, 2006

5 Random Las Vegas Pics

I took all of these photos last week at the Bellagio Casino, while I was covering the WPT World Championship. You can click on the photos to see an enlarged view.

What $3.7 million looks like...

Spaceman in action

They call this guy "Men the Master"

A peek at the action

Rainbow appears during the Bellagio's water show

Saturday, April 29, 2006


I have not been this excited about the NFL draft in years. The Jets have #4 and the last week has been filled with discussions from Gang Green's faithful over who they should take.

The Texans made a sketchy decision late last night and decided to pick with Morris Williams (DE, N.C. State) at number one. Sure Williams is gonna be a Pro Bowl player at some point in his career, but Bush is pretty studly. Will the Jets trade up to #2 to get Reggie Bush? Or will the cash-scrapped New Orleans keep the pick and take the USC running back?

12:25pm... The Rooster called to say, "The Jets are gonna make a move!"

12:28pm... The Saints picked Reggie Bush (RB, USC) and he looked so disappointed. As one Jets fan in the upper deck of Radio City Music Hall mouthed, "Booooooo! What the fuck happened?"

12:29pm... Derek mentioned that the Bush case isn't closed, "The Jets can still make a trade for Bush."

12:35pm... Vince Young (QB, Texas) went to the Tennessee Titans. Wow. "Matt Lienart just lost millions," said Derek.

12:36pm... The Jets are on the clock...

12:47pm... The Jets fans at the draft seem to like their pick D'Brickashaw Ferguson (OT, Virginia), who got named after the priest in the Thorn Birds. The Jets needed to fill holes on the offensive line and Ferguson can step in right away. Plus, the Jets can still get a QB later in the draft. Looks like Lienart might be Brett Favre's backup in Green Bay.

12:55pm... This is a true NYC sports day with the NFL Draft being held in MSG, Jets with a #4 pick, the Rangers-Devils playoff game in the Garden, the Nets NBA playoff game, and the Yankees are playing the BlueJays at Yankee Stadium. I'll be watching games all day on my brother's couch.

1:35pm... Matt Lienart (QB, USC) finally got picked by Arizona after he slipped to #10. The fans in the crowd shouted, "Overrated! Overrated!"

1:44pm... "Randy Johnoson sucks," mutered Derek.

4:35pm... The Yanks are romping the Bluejays 18-6, the Rangers coughed up a 1-0 first period lead to the Devils, and the Jets are on the clock with the 29th pick...

4:44pm... Jets fill another hole on the offensive line with Nick Mangold (C, Ohio St). They have another pick coming up at #35.

5:20pm... Rangers are down 3-1 on the verge of a sweep. The Yanks prevailed 17-6 (sounds like a football score) and the Jets traded their pick or a 2007 2nd round and the 53rd pick today. Derek wanted them to get Lindell White (RB, USC) instead of a trade. I'm watching the Diamondbacks-Giants game on

6:42pm... The Jets traded up to #49 with Dallas to get Kellen Clemens (QB, Oregon).
Politico Pot

I spotted three blogworthy blurbs... and two involve marijuana or the sweet sweet cheeba or whatever you call it.

Mexican Congress Passes Law Decriminalizing Pot and Cocaine. Yep, you can carry around enough smack, blow, or weed as long as you are using it for personal consumption. Good Lord. Who's moving to Mexico with me?

The politics of pot was included in the editorial section of the NY Times. Here's a bit:
The Bush administration's habit of politicizing its scientific agencies was on display again this week when the Food and Drug Administration, for no compelling reason, unexpectedly issued a brief, poorly documented statement disputing the therapeutic value of marijuana.
Lastly, the lead guitar player from the Rolling Stone, Keith Richards, had a concussion while on vacation in Fiji. And he forgot where he got it from. Could it be the lingering result of a three decade smack binge?

Friday, April 28, 2006

A Birthday Poem for Jessica Alba

Ode to Alba: Dark Angel Lips

Thy lips are ice.
But different ice.
Ice that melts.
The slippery slope of
Your frictionless surface area,
Allows easy lubrication for fellatio.

I sweat profusely at the notion,
Of nibbling on your luscious lips,
Supple to the touch,
Glistening to the eye,
Orgasmic to the lick.

Purity of the puffiness,
I want to taste every ounce of Albaness.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Ten Minutes at the Gate

I'm at my gate in McCarran airport ready to board my JetBlue flight back to NYC. I spent almost 70 of the last 80 days on the West Cost. I'm eager to get back to the city for a few weeks before I have to move back to Las Vegas for two grueling months to cover the 2006 World Series of Poker.

My internet connection keeps going out so I stopped surfing the web and decided to write something. The past week I have been consumed with poker and for the first time in almost a year, I enjoyed nearly every second of it. I don't know what happened, but at some point I said, "Fuck it!" and stopped worrying about the petty things and focusing on the negatives of what I do. I came to that realization when I was driving down Pacific Coast Highway gazing out at the Pacific Ocean.

I took a new attitude into the Bellagio with me and I flourished. My writing is at it's peak this year. A talk with sportswriter Steve Rosenbloom also got my head on straight. Once I got the writing on track, the gloomy skies lifted in my world. When my writing is not in sync, I slid into a deep hole filled with despair, self-loathing, and substance abuse.

The last few days have been hectic. I had 6am deadlines on consecutive days. I got one in at 4am. And I had follow up questions from the editor via email at 7am. I didn't sleep. I tried and passed out, but woke up when Grubby had to go to work at 5am.

I played some live poker last night for the first time in a week. I actually won money and played in two different casinos, including the newly opened Red Rock Casino. I also had to house sit and cat sit for Friedman. There was a family emergency and he had to go back to Pennsylvania. I had to take his cat to the vet and hang out with him. Cats are weird, especially when they are jacked up on cat nip.

Friedman lives in the northwest suburb of Las Vegas called Summerlin. A lot of pro poker players and strippers live up there. I live with Grubby in Henderson, which is a southeast suburb. To get to one burb to the other can be a pain in the ass. But getting to see a different part of town was beneficial. More importantly, I learned different highways and parkways and picked up a few shortcuts.

In the last day, I had to do laundry, pack, gas up the rental car, feed the cat, and meet a deadline. I left some clothes behind for this summer, since I'll be back. I rarely return from a trip with less stuff. I also tend to pick up random things along the way.

Grubby and I ate breakfast at Ellis Island this morning. He was on his "lunch break" from the radio station where he works. I got French Toast with bacon, breakfast potatoes, and ice tea for under $5. Not too shabby. Ellis Island is super cheap.

The day before we ate at the new buffet at Silverton. Grubby had two free buffet comps which expired so he needed to use them. The room looks nice and the food is better than average. The roasted chicken and baked beans was different.

They are boarding in a few moments. For the first time in over a year, I'm leaving Las Vegas and wished I got to stay a few more days. The last several trips here, I've been anticipating the day I leave. I rediscovered what's great about Las Vegas, poker, and writing.

Next stop JFK...

Saturday, April 22, 2006

I Didn't Forget About You...

I've been busy covering the World Poker Tour Championship at the Bellagio. It's the final event of the season and is the largest WPT event of all time with a record number $3.7 million going to the first place winner. 606 players bought in for $25,000 each and at the end of Friday's action, there were 71 players remaining. The final table is scheduled to be taped on Monday night.

I've been hanging out atthe Bellagio and soaking up the scene. I'm having fun because I have a lighter approach to covering this event which allows me more freedom and the chance to explore the writer in me instead of the reporter. I've written three quality posts on the Tao of Poker. I had been bumming about my lackluster performance with regard to my poker writing. I felt as though I hit the wall. With a new attitude and approach, I'm enjoying myself at work for the first time in months. I had an enlightening conversation with a Steve Rosenbloom, a real sportswriter who writes for ESPN and the Chicago Tribune. Since that moment, I feel as though I'm on the right track again. And my work is flourishing.

Here's three posts I wrote that you should read:
1. Rebirth
2. Dazed and Confused: Day 3 at the WPT Championship
3. Hump Day Friday
I recommend that you read all of them. There's very little technical poker content in them. I tried my best to describe the circus-like scene that's taken over the Bellagio everyday the past week. I'm inspired by the direction I took with my coverage and that I wasn't afraid to take a risk and do something different. Writing is about making decisions and choices. I made a crucial one and it saved me. I guess you can say I'm no longer lost as far as where I want to go with my writings.
Red Rock Canyon Pics

I woke up super early around 7:45am. That's impressive for a Saturday in Las Vegas. I was a little hungover, yet managed to crawl out of bed and drive from Henderson up to Red Rock Canyon. It's located a few minutes west of new Red Rock Casino in Summerlin, and is less than a half hour drive from the Strip (without traffic). As you can see from just a few of the pics that I took, Red Rock Canyon is an amazing park.

My buddy Friedman and I went hiking up on one trail that took us to the foot of the actual red rocks. We did some light climbing, nothing spectacular, but I defintely broke a sweat. We saw some a few lizards and a frog. By 10:15am we were climbing over and sliding down smooth boulders.

Now that I'm home, I'm exhausted which blows because I have to go to the Bellagio for a few hours for work. At least I was able to experience a part of the spectaular mountains that encircle Las Vegas.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

A Monday in Las Vegas

On Easter Sunday night, I played in a charity poker tournament on Full Tilt Poker and came in second place. My buddy Easycure ran and set up the tournament to raise money for the American Cancer Society. He got over $1K in donations so it worked out well. Derek and I both made the final table! We had played in almost 100 tournaments together (both live and online) and never once made the final table at the same time, so it was an epic moment. Derek finished in 9th place out of 61 players and I took second. In February, I made the final table at the LA Poker Classic Media event at Commerce Casino and came in third place, so it had been a while since I made a final table. The good part is that the Easter tournament counted towards WPBT-POY points. My performance rocketed me up to 8th place in the WPBT Player of the Year standings. Derek is currently in 12th place out of well over 170+ participants and the poker blogger with the most points at the end off 2006 gets dubbed Player of the Year.

I woke up early yesterday and wrote for several hours, while listening to Dead and Galactic bootlegs. I got the bulk of my work done before Noon, which included finishing up an article of poker players and prop bets. I started the difficult task of answering over 200 emails and fan mail. I would not complete that task until almost 9pm. That took me all day to read through everything and take a few minutes to write people back.

I also spoke to the owner/publisher of Poker Player Newspaper. I've been writing for their online site as well as their print publication which comes out every other week. After writing for Poker Player Newspaper for one year as a features writer, I was finally offered my own column with the topic being online poker. The owner is old school and I had to pay my dues for a year before he gave me the prestigious honor. His roster includes a few poker legends and few hacks as well. I get a small picture added to the top of the column and I also get a two sentence bio on the bottom where I can pimp my poker blog. Here's the bad news... regular columns pay less than features and about half the price of getting the front cover story which I've done three times. Anyway, I have 650 words due every other Friday and I already have my first article complete. He wanted a few more to keep on file just in case I get sick or miss a deadline for some odd reason.

Anyway, I guess you can say I got a promotion. I also write a monthly column in Poker Pro magazine, so that makes two major publications where I have regular columns. Sure it's not the NY Times or Sports Illustrated, but I'll take it. Poker Player Newspaper can be found in poker rooms in various casinos and in other card rooms all over America. Poker Pro is in limited poker rooms but it can be found in newstands and in places like Borders bookstore. So the next time you are in Borders, look for Poker Pro magazine in the sports section and you'll see something I wrote

* * * * *

I wandered across the street to Smith's supermarket to pick up some food for Grubby's apartment. I bought Texas Toast bread (which are super thick slices) to make sandwiches. I also bought a 1/2 pound of Boar's Head Buffalo spicy sliced chicken breast and some Jack cheese. I needed a nail clipper because you can't fly with nail clippers because according to Homeland Security, that's how terrorists can hijack airplanes and fly them into buildings... with a nail clipper. I bought one in LA and had to leave it at Change100's apartment. Anyway, I was using the cool self-checkout line and it went quick. I scan and bag my own items and pay by credit card. I have a Smith's card now which entitles me to savings on certain items. I saved $1.59 during that trip. Weeeeeee.

While I was checking out Grubby called me. It was just past Noon and he got off of work early from the radio station and wanted to know if I wanted to grab lunch. We went to Sunset Station one of the local's casinos here in Henderson. It's about 10 minutes from Grubby's apartment and he treated me to a free buffet. Sunset Station has a newly renovated buffet that resembles Green Valley Ranch's buffet. Grubby is a Platinum member which means he gets to stand in a different line. The normal line was about 30-40 people deep but usually there's only one or two people in the Platinum Club line. Recently Sunset had been running a promotion that people 55+ can get a discounted buffet Monday thru Fridays during April. They also allow these folks to stand in the Platinum Club's line to gain entrance to the buffet. That infuriated Grubby.

"They shouldn't get to stand in my line," he grumbled.

Grubby is a pretty positive person, even in the face of a tremendous losing streak since he moved to Las Vegas. But I understood his frustration. He lost a ton of money in the Station casinos and earned the right to not have to stand in line and wait to eat. He had to share the line with people who were there for the promotion and backed up the line.

We got a table in the non-smoking section and I headed to the buffet stations. I started left to right with the Asian section. I piled a small portion of steamed white rice and General Tso's chicken. Grubby piled some Generals onto his plate in addition to a few chau su bau. Next up was the Italian section and they had gnocchi, which is one of Derek's favorite dishes. It was served in a pesto sauce and I added a few scoops to my plate. I also eyed the meatballs and garlic bread sticks. At the American section I grabbed some roasted rotisserie chicken, rice pilaf, and macaroni & cheese. I skipped the carving station due to the long lines and head over to the International section, there was a Mexican food part. They also had a rare French section with Vichy carrots, coq au vin, and steak poivre. Outside of the Paris Casino, I had not seen too many French dishes at a buffet, especially one off the Strip at a local's casino. I spotted the dessert station at the far end and made a mental note as I went back to me seat and began the first wave of food.

I always eat dessert during my second trip which ensures me that I have room. They had gelato which is something I've started to crave since I worked for two weeks at the Borgata Casino in Atlantic City. They have some of the best gelato in America. Anyway, the gelato selection at Sunset's buffet was limited and I got the chocolate. But they also had spumoni, which I had not seen since I was a kid. My parents would take Derek and I out to eat at Stella D'Oro's restaurant. You might be acquainted with their cookies and breadsticks, but for several decades the Stella D'Oro family also owned a family restaurant in the Bronx about ten minutes from where I grew up. Derek currently lives two blocks from the cookie factory and the building that used to house the restaurant. When you walk to the subway, you can smell the cookies baking on some days. The restaurant closed down in the early 1990s, which was a shame. It had some of the best ravioli I ever had and I loved their desserts. Anyway, I had not seen spumoni in over a decade and Grubby got a few scoops. Spumoni is basically three kinds of gelato in a colorful (green, brown, and pink) array of flavors; chocolate, pistachio, and strawberry. Neopolitan is more common and is the standard chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry.

I also had a few pastries, a cannoli, and a slice of sugar-free chocolate cake which tasted like cardboard. I went back up for round three of the buffet which included some penne with Bolognese sauce, a couple more meatballs, mashed potatoes with turkey gravy, and some Vichy carrots.

After ninety minutes, we were stuffed. I always have to take a huge dump after I kill myself at the buffet. Luckily I waited until we got home before I dropped the kids off at the pool.

* * * * *

I had not spoken to my Mother in weeks, since I left for California-Las Vegas. I called her late on Easter Sunday. She wanted to know where I was... "Las Vegas," I said. "I'll be back in less than two weeks."

That's when I started to worry. I thought I forgot about Mother's Day. I realized it was in May. Anyway, she started describing all the mail that I got which included several packages, mostly books that PR firms send me to review on my blogs which I rarely do. Those books inspire me and piss me off in the same instance. Most of them are written by hacks (with the exception of the Steve Rosenbloom book... he's a legit sportswriter) and I know I can and already have written better books. When will I get my shot? I also got a couple of checks from magazines that I write for in addition to a ordinary lot of junk mail, a couple editions of high school and college alumni magazines, and credit card applications.

In the last two days, I've had lengthy phone conversations with BG, Molly, Iggy, and Poker Prof. I rarely spend more than an hour a day on my cell, but if you add up all those calls it was a good 8+ hours that I spent jacking up my phone bill and getting brain cancer. If you add up the business calls I made on Monday morning and this morning, you can add another 2 hours to that. Wow, 10 hours on the phone since Monday morning. I haven't done that since I worked on Wall Street.

That's it for now. I have more writing to do...

Monday, April 17, 2006

Windy Monday

I'm back in Las Vegas after a two week stint in California. I spent last Easter Sunday in Las Vegas. That's when Grubby and I went strip club hopping and the drunkest stripper on the planet almost threw up on me. Anyway, I spent a second straight Easter in Sin City, although my day started out in LA where I watched Change100 and Showcase perform a karaoke duet. That was after we made a quick run to Nick's Coffee Shop, one of my favorite places to eat in Los Angeles.

There was an incident on my JetBlue flight from Long Beach to Las Vegas. Due to the heavy winds, we had a rough landing. On our descent into Las Vegas McCarran, the plane dropped several hundred feet in a millisecond on more than one instance. It was fun the first two times, but when it kept happening I started to get a little scared and I never get scared on airplanes. The landing was even more frightening. I felt that we were going in too fast. The winds were blowing our Airbus320 around like it was a small toy. For a second I thought our pilot was drunk because of the bumpy landing and the fat that we almost skidded off the runway. Yikes.

Grubby picked me up at the airport and I got home to Henderson in time to play in an online poker tournament. Easycure set up a charity tournament for the American Cancer Society. Not only did I play, but I took second place! It had been a while since I finished that high in a tournament. The best part was that I made the final table with my brother. We have never gotten that far together. It also felt good to know that I was helping out a worthy cause. My friend Shirley, who is a professional poker player from California, was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. She played in the tournament and we even got to sit at the same table! She's one of the mentally toughest people that I have ever met and I know she's gonna come out of this on top.

* * * * *

I drove from LA to San Francisco on Thursday. It was a spur of the moment roadtrip. Change100 and I rented a car (because I can't drive her car because it's a stick shift and I'm a New Yorker who never learned how to drive manual transmission.) The gas cost more than the actual rental. Oh well. My goal was to drive down Pacific Coast Highway and do some serious thinking. We spent Thursday night in San Francisco and I won $5 on a prop bet. I ate broccoli for $5. If you know me, you know how much I loathe veggies, especially broccoli. But $5 is $5 so I did it.

We woke up the next day and ate at Sears' Fine Food which is infamous for their "18 Swedish pancakes" special. I ate all of mine and Change100 barely ate 14. They are small silver dollar sized pancakes that are really tasty. I also ate an entire a side order of bacon and promptly called Daddy for a "dial-a-bacon." Parking on the side street near Union Square was ridiculous. It cost me $1.50 for 30 mins. And I had to run back out and feed the meter because it was a thirty-minute time limit.

The drive down the coast was nice. Change100 did all the hard parts just south of Santa Cruz where one wrong turn and you can drive several hundred feet off a cliff and into the Pacific Ocean. It was raining slightly so there was not much traffic. We listened to some good tunes and I got to clear my head and think about a lot of things especially about the direction of my writing. Driving down Pacific Coast Highway is one of the most thrilling and humbling experiences that you can undertake. You understand how immense nature is compared to man and at the same time, you gain respect for those workers who built the entire PCH. They basically made a road on and through mountains. Amazing. Plus the Pacific Ocean is just fuckin' huge. I'll post some pics later this week.

* * * * *

I watched a few rentals in the past week including Broken Flowers, the latest film by Jim Jarmucsh that stars Bill Murray. It's a story about a wealthy bachelor who discovers he might have a son from a relationship he had twenty years earlier. He embarks on a road trip and shows up at the homes of four random ex-lovers that include a professional closet organizer (Sharon Stone) and an animal communicator (Jessica Lange). French sex kitten Julie Delpy appeared in the first scene and I wished she got more screen time. The script was good but the first act dragged on. I'm starting to wonder about Bill Murray playing the same character (or a derivative) of the guy he played in Lost in Translation.

I caught Festival Express a few nights ago. It's a documentary about several of my favorite bands hitting the road in Canada during the summer of 1970 on a train. Janis Joplin, The Band, Buddy Guy, and the Grateful Dead all had gigs booked in large Canadian cities and lots of hijinks took place on the train as it took them from Eastern to Western Canada.

The film has sections of interviews with the musicians spliced together with concert footage and jam sessions from the different cars on the train. Each car had a different type of music playing from bluegrass, jazz, and blues.

At one point, they ran out of booze and had to stop in Saskatoon to pick up more supplies. They had a huge party on the train that night and Bob Weir mentioned that most of them were dosed out. It was great to see younger version of Jerry with all black hair and Pig Pen playing harmonica on New Speedway Boogie.

* * * * *

While I wrote, I listened to different Grateful Dead shows that my buddy Bruce gave me including some Dick's Picks from 1976 and 1977. The Dead is always great background music when I write.

I also finally got a chance to listen to Ben Harper's latest two-disc album called Both Sides of the Gun. The first disc is super mellow and the second disc is more funkified. I first got introduced to Ben Harper in 1997 when I moved to Seattle. I went to a concert on the pier and he happened to be playing. I never heard one song before that show. I didn't even know Ben Harper existed and he blew me away. A friend described him to me as a cross between Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, and Lenny Kravitz. Anyway, it's a great CD and you have to pick it up.

* * * * *

I'm here in Las Vegas for 10 more days. I have an assignment for a magazine that I write for and will be spending time at the Bellagio covering the World Poker Tour Championships. It cost $25,000 to buy into the tournament and will feature the best poker players in the world.

I also have a a shitload of assignments and deadlines this week. I'm gonna spend the next 60 hours in full blown writing mode. I'm gonna be holed up in Grubby's apartment until I complete everything on my "To Do" list.

And as soon as I'm done writing, I'm going to hit the casinos and play cards. I'm also looking to try to get unstuck. I've lost a large sum of money since Halloween gambling on college basketball, pro football, and playing poker. I'm hoping that I can play smart and actually leave Las Vegas up a few bucks.

I miss NYC. Badly. Being in Vegas, LA, and San Francisco is fun but I can't wait to go home and order a pizza with Derek and watch the Yankees game. 10 more days.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

5 Random L.A. Photos

I took all of these in the past week...

El Matador Beach

The path to El Matador

Random graffiti

Tire truck on the 101

"On a freeway in Los Angeles..."

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

A British Blurb

"Pauly pauses for a breath" made me chuckle. It's from the UK Times. The hiatus from my poker blog has become fodder for the British press. Take a peek.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

A Week in the Life
"My 'fear' is my substance, and probably the best part of me. - Franz Kafka
I've been in Los Angeles for a week. I had been losing so much money in the last few months so I decided it would be in my best interest to stay away from Las Vegas for as long as I could. In the past week, I completed my steroids cycle and my throat completely healed. The steroids were making me tired and around 4 or 5pm everyday, I'd need a nap. I discovered that I had been sleeping an extra hour or two per day. I dunno if the medications were making me tired. I got 16-18 hours of extra sleep in the past week since my arrival in Hollyweird which is something my wayward body needed.

I didn't write for almost a week and took a break from my daily grind as a freelance writer. After a few days off, I cranked out two well-paying articles this weekend and wrote a few other pieces but I primarily avoided the laptop as much as I could. There were stretches of time when I turned my cellphone off completely. I spent less than an hour online everyday, one of the goals I set for myself. I had been spending 16-18 hours a day attached to my laptop writing, reading various stuff, or playing poker. I took a hike up in Topanga state park and headed up to El Matador beach in Malibu in an attempt to get back in touch with nature. I would have spent more time outdoors but it had been raining for three days straight upon my arrival.

I needed to free myself from the addiction of being online and chained to my laptop, blogging, and playing online poker. I spent more time in the real world and away from the computer and feeding the fuel to my cyber celebrity status. Being in LA can be extremely humbling. I'm by far the least interesting person around and that's an inspiring feeling. Shit, on Monday morning I walked into Nick's Coffee Shop around the corner from Change100's apartment. Sitting at the counter was one of the dudes from American Idol. A few fans said some encouraging words to Taylor as he left. I wonder if he tipped well?

"You're catching him during the eighth minute of his fifteen minutes of fame," remarked Change100 who was flustered at his appearance.

In March during my last trip to LA, I spotted Rebecca DeMornay at Nick's. For a greasy spoon diner on Pico Blvd., it sure gets a lot of random celebs eating there. The breakfast there rocks and I'm a fan of their 2/3 pound bacon and Swiss burger.

* * * * *

Baseball season started last week, and I watched five out of the first six NY Yankees games during their West Coast swing through Oakland and Anaheim. I made plans to watch one game with JoeSpeaker, who is one of the biggest A's fans that I know. Change100 drove me all the way out to his house, about a good hour outside of LA. On the way up to the edge of the mountain where JoeSpeaker lives, there's a donkey crossing sign. Supposedly, wild asses trek down from on top of the mountain and wander through his neighborhood.

I walked into JoeSpeaker's massive yet empty suburban house. I felt as though I was stepping onto the field a day after the battle of Gettysburg. Instead of massive bodies piled up, the emptiness of the house was a vivid reminder of the harsh and brutal reality of divorce. Luckily he still had his big screen TV which was perfect to view the baseball game.

We drank beers and ordered pizza, while we watched the Yankees blow a four run lead against his A's. He suggested that his mother could get us Yankees tickets during their upcoming trip to LA to play the California Anaheim Los Angeles Angels. And she came thru for tickets to Sunday's game. Thanks to Mama Speaker!! Watching a baseball game is something that needs to be experienced with a dedicated fan like JoeSpeaker. Plus getting to see my favorite team in a stadium I've never been before was an added bonus.

On Sunday, we met JoeSpeaker and special guest AJ in Anaheim at Angels Stadium. AJ is JoeSpeaker's four year old son who's one of the most adorable kids you would ever meet. AJ is an A's fan just like his father. He refers to the Angels as "the stupid Angels" which made me laugh. AJ is like any four year old. He's initially shy but once he opened up, he didn't leave you alone. Watching JoeSpeaker with AJ made me realize that kids are exhausting to have and I developed a new found respect for parents everywhere who have to deal with little ones jacked up on sugar highs.

AJ and I bonded after he smacked me in the head with a blown up rally balloon. It was fun the first ten minutes but the fun got stale after the third straight inning of AJ using my head as a punching bag. I blame the cotton candy that JoeSpeaker bought him. Pure sugar makes kids go crazy. It's like pre-school crack.

Spending time with JoeSpeaker at the ballpark was one of the highlights of the week. Plus getting to meet his kid was also a special treat. The Yankees avoided a sweep and jumped out to a 10-1 lead, led by Jorge Posada's two HRs and a solo shot from A Rod. Change100 did her best to fake her interest in the game. I think the 24 ounce Corona's helped ease the boredom. When I showed my ID to the beer lady, she scoffed at my NYC address.

"We usually don't serve your kind around here," she joked.

I tipped her a buck as she handed over my $12 beer. I appreciated her sense of humor.

* * * * *

I met Wil for lunch in the Old Town section of Pasadena. It's experiencing a revival with plenty of hipster stores and trendy eateries. Old Town is also the location of Hooter's which plays a significant role in one of Wil's books, Just a Geek. His book leads off with him having lunch at Hooter's and experiencing an awkward moment with a Hooter's waitress.

And yes, we actually ate at Hooter's. Our waitress looked a little bit like Molly, except Molly is way cuter and has bigger and more beautiful eyes. Our waitress was also not very bright and didn't recognize Wil. I ordered the Buffalo chicken strips, which is an amazing invention because I can experience a Buffalo chicken wings without getting my hands super messy. The cheese fries were average. And we decided that sex with the waitress would have been less than stellar.

We walked around the corner and checked out Wil's favorite bar called Lucky Baldwin's. Change100 and I sat in the back at a large wooden table with Wil as a random English League soccer went on in the background. They have plenty of British flags hanging from the rafters and the exposed brick walls were a nice treat. I drank a pint of Stella and bullshitted with Wil for an hour or so.

* * * * *

I spent a ton of time wasting away watching movies. V for Vendetta did not appeal to me as much as I hoped it would. I fell asleep a few times. That whole relationship between Hugo Weaving and Nat Portman put me to sleep. The political undertones are blunt, but the flick had serious pacing issues. They could have made the 2 hour movie and cut it down to 1:40 and I would not have fallen asleep at a few points.

Thank You for Smoking was one of the funniest films I had seen in a while. Too bad Katie Holmes didn't show her tits in her sex scenes. It's about a lobbyist for the tobacco companies played by Aaron Eckhart. He was great as the lovable scumbag.

The Aristocrats was hilarious. It's a documentary about 100 different comedians telling the infamous Aristocrat joke. It featured some of the biggest names in comedy and Robin Williams had one of the best one-liners in the flick.

The Squid and the Whale was written and directed by Noah Baumbach. It's an interesting indie flick with Laura Linney and Jeff Daniels that is somewhat based on Baumbach's life. The movie draws it's title from an exhibit at the Museum of Natural History where a sperm whale fights a giant squid. It was one of my favorite parts of the museum and has been for over twenty-five years. The flick is about the life of a divorced couple, both writers from Park Slope circa 1986. I lived in the Slope about 10 years after that, and most of the flick was shot on location. The best character by far was Frank the youngest son, a confused ten year-old (played by Owen Kline, the son of Kevin Kline and Phoebe Cates) who flips out about his parents divorcing. He's left unsupervised for large chunks of time part of the casualty of a newly divorced dual household. He walks around his mother's apartment, shirtless and drinking beer out of a can. He also knocks back whiskey and is a chronic masturbator. Some of the most hilarious scenes are some of the most disturbing. Frank jerks off in the school library and wipes it all over the books. He also jerks off into his hand and spreads his love juice on the locker of a girl he has a crush on. Funny and disturbing. That's how I'd describe this flick and Owen Kline stole the show.

* * * * *

I've spent a large amount of time watching the Food Network. I've been on the road so much the last year and a half, it's been hard to get large chunks of time to do absolutely nothing except get stoned and ogle at the Food Network, which is basically food porn for food addicts.

I've also been eating very well. I put on all that weight I lost last week.

On my first day in LA, Change100 made me a garlic meatball sub, cooked in a mustardy beer and onions sauce. The next night, I cooked her cheese and roasted garlic tortellini in a light creamy pesto sauce with extra parmesan cheese. We had some nice Vermont cheese spread on a baguette as an appetizer. I rarely drink soda, but I bought a bottle of Dr. Brown's black cherry soda.

I ate at John O'Groats for breakfast one morning. Change100 is addicted to the Oreo FrenchToast. I'm a fan of their regular French Toast. It might be the best French Toast in LA because they use slices of cinnamon bread! I always get a plate of home fries and a full order of bacon in honor of Daddy. They give you four thick slices of crispy melt in your mouth bacon. Yeah, O'Groats has some of the best bacon and French Toast in all of LA. That's why it's always crowded and you have to wait for a table.

The day after Showcase's birthday, I made him and Change100 breakfast. I used EvaCanHang's French Toast recipe with nutmeg as the secret ingredient. I used honey baked bread because it was sliced thick and soaks up the mixture. I used extra cinnamon which made my French Toast sweet. I added two slices of bacon for substance and a couple of fresh strawberries for color.

I ate Thai foo one night from a place down the street. The chicken panay was OK. I liked the Beef Waterfall, which is spicy beef sirloin tips in a chili and lime sauce with red and green onions plus carrots.

Change100 and I ate at the Framer's Market next to the Grove. The donuts at Bob's are scrumcious. I also can't leave without getting a chocolate shake at Bennett's. In the back, there's a Cajun place off to the side called The Gumbo Pot. I ate a blackened spicy chicken poy-boy with a Creole mustard sauce. I also ate a side of red beans and rice with andouille sausage. Change100 got the Gumbo Ya Ya and it looked tasty.

Last night, Change100 made me Italian marinated chicken in pasta with a spicy aribiata sauce. The garlic bread was also tasty. I'm finally getting decent food in this town and I took some pictures for Derek, which I posted on Sunday.

* * * * *

Showcase had some friends over for his birthday on Friday night. It was a pot party or a "smoke in" with twenty of his closest pothead friends getting wasted on the Purple Kush and eating munchies, all of which Showcase purchased five minutes before the party from the 7/11 around the corner. He had gummy bears, Oreo cookies, sun chips, peanut M&Ms and some sour green candy that I spit out after two chews.

Showcase told everyone the story how he ratted out one of his neighbors after 9.11. He called the FBI and reported his next door neighbor because he was "foreign looking" and "suspicious" Yes, Showcase freaked out about a young Arab male who lived nextdoor and took upon himself to fulfill his patriotic duty and reported him to the FBI. Right now, there's some guy sitting in Gitmo and wearing an orange jumpsuit because Showcase dropped a dime on him. I wondered if he ever sent him cookies?

Oh, and Showcase and Stacee are still knocking books six weeks after he picked her up at Sushi Roku. She bought lingerie for a striptease on the eve of his birthday. I could still hear her moaning...

* * * * *

My friend BJ went missing for a few days. Actually it was more like a few weeks. He's safe and sound right now and I'm still dying to know what really happened. I was so desperate to find him, that I searched kennels in Las Vegas and asking for his dog's name (Rhapsody) in a weak attempt to find him. That was my only lead. Luckily, BJ wrote me and his other friends to let us know he's alive and well.

BJ and I were considered the top two poker tournament reporters in the business. I burnt out months ago and don't want to cover them anymore and BJ had this most recent freakout incident. I'm chalking it up to the stress of the business. It's insane and very few people understand the pressure to perform for thousands on an instant basis, like both BJ and I have done for the past year. It's like being in the jungle for an elongated stint or soldiers deployed for a month too long. You develop that thirty-yard stare and nothing seems to matter except chip counts and bust out hands. I learned the hard way that there's more to poker than tournaments and there's certainly more to life than poker.

Which leads me to some of the reasons of my most recent freakout or mental breakdown. Too much of anything is bad. I love playing poker, and I thought I enjoyed writing about poker, but the bottom line is that when you are passionate about one aspect of something and have to be forced to deal with another aspect of the same thing but for work and your career, it doesn't leave you any wiggle room or breathing space. My entire life was poker, poker, poker and although I'm fortunate to get to write and be paid to write...writing and working in the poker industry was suffocating.

A friend of mine from Seattle is a clairvoyant. He hates hospitals because the ghosts speak to him and he senses pain and anguish on the souls of everyone there, even the staff. Although I have zero super natural abilities, I can sense the loneliness in the tortured souls of the losers that populate Las Vegas. All those bright lights are paid by loser's money and it's hard to have to get myself pumped up to walk into work everyday when I work in a casino environment.

The other hard part about my job was covering the fact that day after day the luckiest player won. It wasn't the best player, always the player who caught cards or sucked out or issued bad beats. Poker experts say that over the long run, the professional poker players will win more tournaments that the lucky ones. I've yet to see that happen. And the media, which I'm a central part of, extols these lucky fucktards and we willingly make them the new superstars. I have an issue with that, and I'm very hesitant to dub a new young player the next superstar just because he won a $1 million in a poker tournament. I'm a firm believer that tournament stats are an indication of short term luck, not a true indication of talent and success.

Of course, I can't be honest in the publications that I write for. I want to say, "This dipshit is the luckiest guy in the casino, heck in all of Las Vegas. He's so fuckin' lucky that if Britney Spears walked by him, she'd stop and give him a blowjob."

But I can't and the frustration sits in. That's why I toned down my travel and work schedule for this year. Unless I can rediscover the passion in covering poker tournaments, there's very little appeal for me to continue to do that activity in the future. The 2006 World Series of Poker might be the last tournament that I ever cover.

In the meantime, a break is necessary and that's where I'm at.

* * * * *

I was only going to write for ten minutes but ten minutes turned into almost ninety minutes. That's OK. Three thousand words in, I realized that I actually have something to say.

I'm enjoying my time in LA. I'm much better health wise and I'm sleeping more and eating well. I'm catching up on movies that I've been wanting to watch for almost a year. I'm also taking time to head out into nature whether it's the mountains or the beach and spending as little time on the computer as possible. I've been watching a lot of baseball and stopped gambling for now. I finally have large amounts of time to think about the direction of my life and where my writing is going. At the same time, the arduous task of finding a literary agent continues. But if I'm gonna find anyone competent to represent me, it's going to be in Hollyweird. I head back to Vegas in less than a week.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

5 Random L.A. Food Photos

Back by popular demand...

Gumbo Ya Ya with Cornbread

Roasted GarlicTortellini with Parmasean Pesto Sauce

Showcase's Birthday Party Snacks

Change100's Garlic Meatball Poyboys

French Toast ala Eva

Monday, April 03, 2006


I went to the doctor this morning and he said that I had a remarkable recovery in the last 48 hours since he last saw me. The fucker wanted to cut me open too. Bastard. The steroids and antibiotics worked and I was spared a trip to Mexico to get my throat spliced up in a clinic in Juarez. I woke up on Sunday feeling chipper. I think it's because I haven't smoked weed in days.

I'm well enough to travel and I'm heading back to Hollyweird in search of a literary agent and to see some old friends as well as some new ones. When I'm in LA I'll do some freelance writing. I have 7 assignments due this month and will try to get as many done as possible. I'm also going to be taking some time away from the blogs, aside from working on Truckin'. I need some rest and time alone to think about what I'm doing here on the web. I'm always questioning the direction of my writing.

I fell into a depressive funk the other day. I'm sure you had those moments when you were sick as a dog staring up at the ceiling thinking that death was just a few seconds away. I was thinking about all the things I never got to do and that made me sad. My goal of taking off three or four months at the end of 2006 to write and travel is getting more and more important to me. I would love to take a full year off. And I'm gonna take the next two weeks to figure out how to make that concept a full blown reality.

I lead an unhealthy lifestyle. I eat crap. I party too much. I don't sleep enough. I fall for "bad girls." And I'm a workaholic. I'm shocked I made it to 33. I thought I'd slow down in my 30s... instead I picked up more steam. Just like when I got that jaywalking ticket last month in LA, I felt as though it was the least illegal thing I did during my entire trip and happily accepted my fate. If catching tonsilitis is the worst health issue I experience this year, I'll take it.

My problem is that there's only one way I know how to live life.... fast.

I'm going to be taking the next few days off to reflect about a lot of things. Some times you have dig deep and ask yourself those tough questions, the ones you are afraid to ask because of the answeres you might get in return. I've reached a fork in the road and before I keep going, I need to do some soul searching.

See you when I return. In the meantime if you get bored, go read old issues of Truckin'.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

I Love Getting Blogged

I was mentioned in a few blogs from friends of mine. Take a peek.

Change100 posted a funny scene from last Saturday and what she saw as the 8 of us stumbled out of the shuttle bus coming back from the Playboy Mansion. She also included her version of taking me shopping for new clothes called Outfitting the Doctor. By the way, I hate shopping. Here's a bit:
"Our first stop was Hugo Boss, where Pauly declared everything gay."
Joe Speaker also posted his version of our visit to a strip club last Thursday with myself, Change100, Grubby, and Senor. It's called Keeping Scores and here's my favorite part:
"The strippers were flocking to Pauly. He had the hardest-to-reach seat, the bottom of the 'u' in our semi-circle, but the man is a magnet. He turns strippers into bloodhounds. Every time I turned around, he had another female on his lap. And then every time I turned around, he had the same female on his lap: Nikki."