Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Work in Progress

I spent Sunday and Monday watching about 10 plus hours of Band of Brothers. The History Channel showed the entire series in honor of Memorial Day and I caught most of it over two days. That's an amazing story and although I've seen it a couple of times, I still enjoy every moment of it. Major Dick Winters, one of the many soldiers chronicled in the made-for-cable series about the fighting done by the 101st Airborne during WWII, has a new book out and I've been looking for a used copy online. I'd love to read his first hand account of what went down during his time overseas.

By the way, I'm totally hooked on Ben & Jerry's American Pie. It happened this weekend with a small taste. Now I'm a full blown junkie. It's a limited edition flavor and Derek stumbled upon it last week. American Pie is an amazing mixture of apple pie ice cream filled with chunks of apples and pie crust. I'd like to have cherries added.

On Tuesday, I woke up at 6am. I set my alarm and snoozed until 6:09am before I got up and hit the shower. It was only a few moments after sunrise and the humidity fought through the small crack in the window that I left open from the night before. After twenty minutes I realized it was simply going to be one of those hot and sticky NYC days. Sitting in just my boxer shorts, I began my daily writing workout. Like a marathon runner, there are days where you don't want to get up and train. This instance, I had no problems getting out of bed. I couldn't wait to sit down and start typing.

I popped my allergy pills and washed it down with a glass of Orange Gatorade before I put on a John Coltrane and Thelonius Monk CD at low volume. I was ready to let my mind take a huge shit onto my Word document page. And you know the best part? After I wrote for an hour, I deleted all my work. I must have got out close to 2K words many personal thoughts and questions I had about myself. Writing is amazing therapy for me and I must have saved thousands of dollars on psychiatric fees by simply digging deep into myself and writing about my life instead of paying some overpriced head shrinker to sit down and pretend to listen to what I have to say before pumping me with mind-frying drugs manufactured by the extremely wealthy drug companies. Besides smoking weed cures most of all my head problems.

Within a few hours, I'd knock off several things on my "To Do List." I made a couple of phone calls, one to my old mentor on Wall Street. We had a six minute conversation and he explained to me everything that was going on with the European markets and how he thinks that will affect the US markets over the next few months. He also reassured me that my stock pick on Brasil Telecom was not a bad one and that he was so confident in my choice that he would loan me money to purchase more shares. Our talk made be feel more secure about my failing stock pick but we both knew that picking stocks had as much luck involved as skill.

Of course the stock market then proceeds to tank on Tuesday.

I did laundry because I ran out of underwear. In between laundry duties, I caught up on most of my email, while I read several newspapers and magazine articles. I went to the Greek diner for breakfast. For $4.65, you get three pieces of French Toast and three pieces of bacon with coffee, OJ, or tea. That's a bargain. The old Greek guys who work there were talking baseball. They are Yankees fans and kept making fun of Pedro Martinez.

I brought my Alan Watts book to read at the diner, but never got past a few pages since my food came pretty quick. I have about 75 pages left in The Book, but you cannot consume more than 20-25 pages of Watts per day. The subject matter is intense. One of the last passages I read blew my mind, "For unless one is able to live fully in the present, the future is a hoax."

Most people that I know are doomed. There was a time in my life when I tried to save people, like Neo in the Matrix, trying to unplug everyone and encouraging hem to live more in the moment instead of worrying about the past or future. But that was met with little jubilation and most of the time, people were pissed when I mentioned to them that their pursuits were meaningless and that they were a fraud for most of their lives, and that life itself was nothing more than mirages. These days, I keep my mouth shut. If you are not willing to save yourself, you will never be saved.

Alan Watts discusses concepts about living a life of fraud in The Book. Like I said, it's a heavy load to chew on that's why I can only read a chapter of his stuff a day. I've also been gutting through Ed Conlon's book Blue Blood which is 560 pages of small font. Conlon went to my high school and graduated seven years before me. I ran on the cross country track team with his brother. The Harvard grad is now a detective in the Bronx and penned the NY Times best seller. I'm learning so many things about NYC politics and life in the NYPD from his book. I also realized that Conlon grew up about 10 blocks away in an adjoining neighborhood in the Bronx and went to the parish that I used to play hoops against. Over the past week, I have been alternating between those books.

A created a new pile of books... books that I just finished reading. That pile is growing higher and is almost as big as the "To Read" pile. For some odd reason I feel that reading a book offers me more self-satisfaction and accomplishment than watching five or six movies. The more books that I read, the better I feel about myself that I'm not wasting my brain and life away.

If more Americans read books every night instead of watching TV, we'd live in a more productive society. If more Americans watched the news and read real newspapers and magazines, instead of crappy programs like American Idol, then I'm confident that George Bush would not be our president. But heck, that's what our leaders really want deep down... a mindless, uneducated populous that will work 40 hours a week so they can earn enough money to buy things to keep them distracted from the evil deeds that our leaders and suits in Fortune 500 companies are conducting everyday under your noses.

In less than an hour, I cranked out an article for Poker Player Newspaper. I have a deadline on Friday and spewed out 645 words on online gambling legislation. Since I'm going to be traveling and partying during the second half of June, I have to knock out 10-12 articles over the next 11 days so I can play without worrying about work. So far my gameplan is working. I was worried that I'd sleep in today and fuck off for several hours and find myself behind. I impressed myself with my discipline.

Over the weekend, I had a rollercoaster ride playing online poker. I dropped a large sum of money on Friday night and have been chasing that loss ever since. I've played more poker over the past three days than I did for the entire month of May. I'm going to end the month as a winner, which means two consecutive winning months in a row. That's something I have not done in a very long time. When I win at poker, it affects my mood and personality. I walk and talk with confidence.

Change100 picked up a hefty sum of cash on Sunday night after she took 3rd in a 988 person online tournament at Poker Stars. At least she had a winning weekend!

Recent Writing Music...
1. Trey Anastasio Band
2. John Coltrane with Thelonius Monk
3. Soulive with John Scofield
4. Bob Dylan with The Band
5. Wilco

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Pieces of Pauly

Back by popular demand, Modeski's favorite installment...

What did I eat today? For breakfast, I went to the Greek diner and ordered French Toast, bacon, and iced tea. I made cheese tortellini with marinara meat sauce (with mushrooms) for dinner. Dessert was Ben & Jerry's American Pie ice cream.
Boxed Memories

I needed a couple of pictures for a post that I was writing for the Tao of Poker. During my search through my past, I sorted through two banker's boxes filled with pictures dating back from college. During a three hour period, I was bombarded with flashbacks. I was in hundreds of pictures. Some I recall taking and other memories are a blur.

The ones that hit home the most are from the ex-girlfriends. The ones in college seem a distant memory, but seeing images of the girls and women I dated in my 20s was a lot for me to handle. This was in an age before digital cameras and I have dozens and dozens of those white envelops from the film developing joint filled with old memories.

Sabine was the French artist. We took pictures one afternoon about 10 years ago. I was working on Wall Street at the time, and we were in the middle of the last spurt of our relationship. We dated on and off for a few years and those pictures represented the last time we were happy together. It was the dead of winter and she met me for lunch on Saturday on one of the coldest days of the 1996. She had never seen my office, so I took her upstairs and she finally got a visualization of "the trenches" that I often spoke of. We headed downstairs for lunch and she was bundled up in a thick woolen green hat with a matching scarf as we walked the near empty streets of Lower Manhattan. French women are fanatically infatuated with scarves and the one Sabine wore stood out. I know it was ten years ago, but I'm still awestruck by the vibrations of that shade of green scarf she wore. I can barely recall the contours of her face or what she used to smell like, but that scarf continued to make an impression on me.

We asked a tourist to take our photo as we sat in the square right in front of what used to be the World Trade Center. I also snapped random pics of the Twin Towers. That was a difficult set of photos to get through. Not only did Sabine break my heart and shatter it into several thousand jagged edges, but I was reminded by the horrible acts of 9.11. People jumped from 100 stories up to their death and landed a few spots from where we were happily sitting. I plunged into a pool of sadness and despair after sorting through those pictures of Sabine.

Lene was my roommate in Seattle. She had purple hair, loved Thai food, and listened to indie Seattle bands like the Supersuckers. We starting sleeping with each other, unknown to the entire house of seven other housemates. After midnight, I'd sneak through her window in the basement apartment and escape before sunrise. When I moved back to NYC, she was in the middle of switching jobs. She was a political activist of sorts and took two or three weeks off to drive cross country with me. She made that epic roadtrip where we drove from Seattle through Wyoming and St. Louis then down to New Orleans, Biloxi, Hilton Head, Savannah and DC before reaching NYC. I smiled when I glimpsed at a photo of her collecting seashells in her shoes as we walked along the beach in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

Sookie sat on my bed in my old studio plugging away and writing something on her laptop. She had no idea that I took her photo. That one in particular is black and white and ads a timeless quality to. Very few people I have met in my life could ignite the creative spark in me like Sookie did.

The photo of Angela was taken somewhere in California in the parking lot of a Phish show. She was holding up a veggie burrito in tin foil trying to sell it for $3. She spent the morning and rolled her own, hoping to sell enough to earn money to help cover gas expenses. Her hair was tied up in a Librarian's bun and eight or nine piercings were visible on her left ear. I forgot she used to wear so many earings. At the time the photo was taken, I never thought I could be more in love with someone.

Of course there were pictures from epic overseas trips that I took which included following Phish in Japan and going to Iceland with Senor. I had pics from fraternity formals, drives down the Pacific Coast Highway, from my porch in Seattle, and random pics of partying with friends in Brooklyn.

It was an emotional three hours digging through those boxes, opening up old wounds and falling in love again with the life I used to lead. And the places I used to live. And the friends I used to party with. And the women I used to sleep with.

Since I've been living out of my suitcase/backpack for the last 18 months traveling all over, the only material items I have are what I can carry with me... and those are very few. The rest of my life... my past... has been boxed up and tossed in the corner stored with old CDs, books, and paintings. I don't take those boxes of memories on the road with me because it's too much for me to carry. The emotional weight of all those photographs combined would equal forty thousand elephants. No person is strong enough to walk through life with such a cumbersome burden on their shoulders.

It is what is was. The past is the past and does not exist anymore, unless I allow those fleeting memories to linger in the present.

I found this pic which I liked enough to post, because I have hair in the photo. Lots of it. It was taken by Lene in a random bar in New Orleans.

New Orleans (1998)

Monday, May 29, 2006

Last 5 Books I Saw People Reading on the Subway...
1. Spellbound by Nora Roberts
2. The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown
3. Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
4. The Holy Bible
5. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Happy Belated Birthday Tao of Pauly

My blog turned four on Thursday. Happy Belated 4th Birthday to the Tao of Pauly!

And I totally forgot. Thanks to Jenna who pointed it out to me.

Encouraged by my old college roommate and author of The Daily Dave 2.0 (at the time it was just The Daily Dave), I began my the Tao of Pauly in May of 2002 to use as a notebook and scratch pad during my time at work on Wall Street.

Since then, I started numerous other blogs. I always wanted to start my own literary magazine and did so. Truckin' will turn four years old next month and in August my poker blog will be three years old. I also wanted to start a music blog, and at the end of this summer, my group Phish blog will be two years old. In about seven or eight months, I'll start up my political blog again to gear up for the 2008 elections. I've also started up a couple of photo blogs.

The past year has been a special one for the Tao of Pauly. Although its sister site the Tao of Poker has been mentioned in numerous publications and drew one million visitors in a week last summer, the Tao of Pauly will always be my favorite blog. Over the past few months I made a bigger effort to publish better writing on the Tao of Pauly. The results have been positive. It's becoming more and more popular everyday.

The Tao of Poker is by far my biggest referral, followed by AlCantHang. Thanks, Al! It feels good to know that the daily readers of my poker blog are clicking over here to the Tao of Pauly. If you don't have the Tao of Pauly linked up on your blogroll, then what are you waiting for? Feel free to subscribe to the Tao of Pauly feed via Bloglines.

As Joaquin the Rooster once said, "I read the Tao of Pauly first. Somedays I'm sick of poker and sick of poker blogs. Thank God for the Tao of Pauly. Besides, I think that's where your best writing is."

Thanks always to Dave for inspiring me to blog.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Humid Saturday and Mr. 2000

Yesterday, I read 117 pages of Neal Pollock's Anthology of American Literature during two different trips on the subway. After I sneezed for about seven straight minutes this morning, and took my allergy medicine, I settled down after smoking a few bowls and drank a Snapple iced tea before I completed the remainder of his book. Parts are hysterical and Pollock's writing seems effortless as he populates his short stories with historical events and obscure pop culture references. His particular chapter on Teenagers stood out as the best bit in the book. He also had a funny bit about going to Russia to secure a mail order bride. I cannot believe that I got the book for a penny (plus $2.49 shipping fees).

I kept my mind sane this morning by reading a few pages of Alan Watts. I have to alternate between philosophy and literature, and Watts is perfect fodder for my brain to consume during lazy three-day weekends. You cannot read to much of his material in one sitting due to the heaviness of the subject matter. Buddhism isn't something that should be taken lightly and only a few souls totally get it. That's why it's taken so long for me to finish The Book by Alan Watts. I started it a few weeks ago and already completed Klosterman's Killing Yourself to Live and Bukowski's Hollywood, not to mention Pollock's book. I expect to finish it before I go to Bonnaroo. I just wonder how many other books I'll finish in between then? I have an Arthur Nersessian book that I never finished. I started last year and got halfway through before I moved to Las Vegas. I began re-reading from page 1 and got past the first two chapters of Lubricated. Books are like women. I can juggle more than one at a given time.

I wrote for an hour and a half this morning listening to a Sonny Rollins bootleg from a gig he performed in NYC in 1957. That recording is almost 50 years old and it feels as though Rollins is playing his horn just a few steps away from me. If I could go back in time, it would be to see certain musicians jam and catch a few epic sporting events.

When I lived on the fringe of society in Seattle, my buddy Noonan and I used to get high on British Columbia's finest herbs and we'd pontificate about which year and city we'd like to go back and check out. San Francisco in the late 1960s was always a popular choice. I liked 1951 in NYC so I could experience and soak up all the melodies from various Jazz musicians playing on Swing Street. I'd also like to catch some of the art shows from the abstract expressionists like Willem De Kooning and Jackson Pollock. 1951 was also during the golden era of baseball and I'd love to see games at ballparks that are non-existent, like the Polo Grounds in what is now Harlem and Dodger Stadium in Brooklyn which is now a housing complex.

Last night, the Yankees lost to the lowly KC Royals. But in the process, Derek Jeter collected his 2,000th hit. That puts him in an elite group of only seven other Yankees. He has a chance to be the first Yankee to collect 3,000 hits in pinstripes. And he's going to do it. The Yankees suck this year and are seriously hurt. And just a few teams have more wins than them. Let's hope they can get their shit together before the July 4th.

* * * * *

I have to finish up the May issue of Truckin' later today. I have a few more hours of work to go. There will be six stories this issue, including my Waffle House story. I'm already working on the June issue as well. This Memorial Day weekend is dedicated to catching up on sleep, writing, reading, and listening to music. Starting on Tuesday, I have less than two weeks to get all my shit together before I start partying like a rock star for a month straight. I will be pouding out a slew of articles starting in a few days.

By the way, the Fat Guy and I both have an addiction to Dibs. I can eat an entire box inside of three minutes.

And thanks to Sean for dedicating this post to me and AlCantHang!

Recent Writing Music...
1. Sonny Rollins
2. Peter Tosh
3. Radiohead
4. Widespread Panic
5. Little Feat

Friday, May 26, 2006

Poppa Purple and Super Silver

I already miss the medicinal marijuana. I traded in Super Silver for Allegra to fight my allergies on another day with high tree and grass pollen counts.

I spent an hour on Thursday afternoon where I bought several items on the internet. The first was an airline ticket to Denver. I spoke to the Joker and he said that he could get us tickets to Widespread Panic's Sunday night show at Red Rocks. I have tickets to the Saturday show and planned on flying in on Saturday afternoon and leaving on Monday morning. I found a sweet deal on Expedia for $180 round trip and booked it right away.

Inside of thirteen days, I'll be flying from:
Nashville to NYC
NYC to Las Vegas
Las Vegas to Denver
Denver to Las Vegas
Las Vegas to Long Beach
Long Beach back to Las Vegas
Six flights. Five cities. Four time zones. Four Widespread Panic shows. 5,500 air miles flown. That's what the end of June is looking like for me. When will I have time to write or sleep?

I estimated that I've flown about 31,000 miles since Halloween and 42,000 miles since my birthday. That includes four round trip flights to Las Vegas from NYC, two from NYC to LA, flights to Amsetrdam and Barcelona, and three flights to and from Las Vegas & LA.

I read twenty pages of Alan Watts and set aside the next five books that I hope to read before I move back to Las Vegas which includes Neal Pollock, Arthur Nersesian, and Ed Conlon. I bought another book on sale. For only $3, I found a hardcover copy an anthology of The Paris Review on its 50th anniversary edited by George Plimpton, the last large work he did before his death. It's titled The Paris Review Book: of Heartbreak, Madness, Sex, Love, Betrayal, Outsiders, Intoxication, War, Whimsy, Horrors, God, Death, Dinner, Baseball, Travels, the Art of Writing, and Everything Else in the World Since 1953. That's a lot of quality writing for $3.

I also found The Last Waltz DVD for $9.99. A steal and it's new. I never had it on DVD. BG gave me all four discs of the Last Waltz soundtrack. I also picked up a used copy of Bukowski - Born Into This, which is a documentary on the life of my favorite drunk LA poet. That was $11. Also a bargain.

Wil took my advice and downloaded a Dead show from Hollyweird in 1971.

Here's what he had to say:
Wow. What a great show this is, and how surprising that it was recorded at the Palladium, which is probably the worst venue in the entire city. The energy, the quality of the recording, and the cool, bluesy strains of their songs is just perfect writing music for today: it's 79 degrees, my patio is covered with finches squabbling over the bird feeders, my dogs are sleeping at my feet, and a gentle breeze is carrying the smell of recently-transplanted lavender into the window... More
I rented Walked the Line. Like in the film Ray, the other brother died (Ray Charles' brother drowned while Johnny Cash's brother had a nasty saw accident) which tourtured the musical artist for decades and is why they both became drunks and drug addicts.

Britney Spears writes poetry now. Sweet.

Be on the look out for killer bees in LA.

I wrote up a story for Truckin' inspired by my trips to Waffle House in Kentucky with Daddy. I also wanted to use the words "nebulous" and "crystal meth" in the same story and finally got the chance.

Last 5 Blogs I Read...
1. A Socialite's Life
2. Wil
3. Rapid Eye Reality
4. AlCantHang
5. Joe Speaker's Obituarium

Thursday, May 25, 2006


I passed out just before 5am and slept for 7 hours straight. That's about twice as much I normally get. For folks who get the standard 8 hours of sleep a night, imagine sleeping for 16 hours. That's insane but the equivalent of what I got last night. After a week of partying in Hollyweird, my body was exhausted. Whenever I head out to LA, Change100 and I party like rockstars and never sleep.

I wanted to crash earlier than 5am, but my body was wired on Pacific Time. I caught up on reading email. I have a bad habit of reading email and then not answering until days later. But when I try to read, then answer I end up wasting too much time. Email is a blessing and a curse.

Five minutes after I boarded my JetBlue flight to JFK, I turned on my iPod while they waited to start the DirectTV service. I accidentally dropped my iPod and it froze. This happened only once before and I have to let the batteries drain out before I can use it again. It wasn't bothered too much. I knew that the Yankees and Red Sox game was going to be on ESPN within a few hours and I'd have the Food Network to keep me entertained during my five plus hour flight.

The best part of this trip was that the flights put me over the hump for a free flight on my JetBlue frequent flier program. I have one year to use it too. They give you a free flight when you reach 100 points. You get double points if you book online, which I always do. So a flight from NYC to LA or Las Vegas is worth 24 points for the roundtrip. Each leg is worth 6 points which is doubled if you book online. I've spent several thousands of dollars flying cross country on JetBlue, mostly on their JFK to Las Vegas run. I'm lucky that they also fly to LA, so I can collect points on flights from NYC to Long Beach. I used my free flight in December to attend my grandmother's funneral since I was on the west coast when she died.

Inside of six months, I racked up another free trip. In fact, I have 20 total points as of today towards a new reward. With an upcoming flight to Las Vegas and a round trip flight to LA from Vegas at the end of June, I should be half way to earning another free flight by the end of the summer. My plan was to use my free flight to fly into LA to cut down the cost of a trip to Thailand at the end of the year since flights are much cheaper to Asia from California.

The flight from Long Beach to JFK arrived at the gate at 9:55pm, only five minutes late. The pilot turned off the TVs and everyone grumbled. The entire flight was watching American Idol and a mutiny almost occurred when everyone started screaming and yelling to put the TV service back on. The pilot obliged and everyone got to see Taylor Hicks win. I was the only person on board who was watching the Yankees-Red Sox game. Yeah, I was the cool kid in a sea of losers.

I watched my first and only episode of American Idol on Monday because I thought it was the last episode. I was pissed when I found out it wasn't! I caught glimpses of the show a few months ago when I was ripping gaggers with Showcase on his couch as I watched one of the early episodes. I enjoy music, but I don't like that crap.

I do have a Taylor Hicks story. It's a good LA story too and I can say that I saw that freak way before he got famous. Nick's Coffee Shop is located around the corner from Change100's apartment in BHA (Beverly Hills Adjacent or as they aptly described it in that hilarious flick The Slums of Beverly Hills). Nick's is a greasy spoon diner and you can catch a random celebrity sighting. But those are celebs who are out to eat rather to be seen. When we walked into Nick's last month, Taylor was sitting at the lunch counter, eating his grits. When he walked out a fan stopped him and wished him luck.

"He's totally gay," commented Change100 as he walked past us.

I didn't say anything. I assumed that everyone in Hollyweird was either gay, a drug addict, or the son or daughter of someone famous. Sometimes you're all three.

Anyway... my cab driver was chatty. I usually don't initiate conversation but I contribute when called upon. He wondered if I wanted to listen to the radio. I asked him to put on the Yankees game, but it just ended. He turned on the classic rock station. They played Black Sabbath then Phil Collins.

When I arrived home, the juice in my iPod was gone. I charged it back up and it was fine an hour later. I read email, took a shower, then turned out all the lights and listened to music for two plus hours. In the last two weeks, I added a ton of music to my collection but I have not had a chance to listen to it all. I finally caught up before I passed out.

I went to the diner for breakfast. It was around 1pm but I was there for breakfast. It was lunch hour and the small Greek diner was crowded with old people and construction workers. There are three large projects going up within a three block radius of the diner. It sucks for parking but some of the local restaurants are relishing the extra business.

I sat down and ordered my food as I sorted through my mail. I was only gone for a week and I got a lot of crap plus two packages which included a digital camera that I bought for my mother and a Neal Pollock book that I bought for 1 cent. The shipping cost me $2.50. That's sad. Pollock is one of America's greatest writers and his books are selling for a friggin' penny in the used section. If he's worth a penny, I'm worth nothing.

I had about five or six credit card applications. Word is out that I'm paying my bills again and that I'm a moderate credit risk. I tossed those aside. I opened up a letter from the alumni department of my high school. They were thanking me for my generous donation which meant I was a member of a special club that entitled me to attend a fancy rubber chicken dinner and other perks. They reminded me that I should donate an additional 3K for a special fund they are running. Sweet Jesus! I already send them $125 a month and they want more.

I sifted through a few bank statements. My credit card and cell phone bills are both due. I had a couple of magazines including the alumni rag from my college. I skimmed the "Alumni News" section and some girl who hooked up with at least fifteen guys in my freshman hall just had a baby. I wondered how many cocks she's chugged along the way to husband #2?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Musical Evolution

I was bored on my flight from Long Beach to JFK and scribbled down a few thoughts as I looked at the crop circles on the New Mexico/Texas border. One of my airborne thoughts was listing random albums and records I had in my collection dating back as far as 7th grade. I actually had a few vinyl records and a turn table when I was a kid. One of my first vinyl records was Thriller by Michael Jackson. Then the medium changed from records to cassette tapes to CDs and now I'm downloading stuff from iTunes and the web.
1. Iron Maiden - Live After Death
2. Def Leppard - Pyromania
3. Van Halen - 1984
4. The Police - Synchronicity
5. Bruce Springsteen - Born in the USA

1. The Cure - The Head on the Door
2. The Beastie Boys - Paul's Boutique
3. R.E.M. - Green
4. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Mother's Milk
5. The Pixies - Doolittle

1. Phish - Hoist
2. Maceo Parker - Life on Planet Groove
3. Allman Brothers Band - Eat a Peach
4. The Jayhawks - Hollywood Town Hall
5. Black Uhuru - Liberation

1. Miles Davis - Kind of Blue
2. Radiohead - OK Computer
3. Ben Harper - Fight for Your Mind
4. Bob Dylan - Blonde on Blonde
5. Velvet Underground - Loaded

1. Charlie Hunter - Natty Dread
2. Grey Boy Allstars - Live
3. Galactic - Late for the Future
4. Thelonius Monk - Monk's Dream
5. Wilco - Summerteeth

1. John Coltrane - A Love Supreme
2. My Morning Jacket - Z
3. Matisyahu - Live at Stubbs
4. Ben Harper - Both Sides of the Gun
5. Black Keys - Rubber Factory
As I moved from NYC to Atlanta and back to NYC then over to Seattle, my musical tastes changed and morphed. It's weird how I started out buying tapes of Metal bands like Iron Maiden and then fell into other genres such as rap, indie bands, jambands, blues, classic rock, jazz, and reggae. I wish I had the time to go back and write up 500-1000 words on every album. I'm putting that on my list of things to do. Perhaps I can write a book about "100 albums that affected my life" or "100 CDs I got totally ripped to the tits stoned to."

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Hollyweird Knit Ball: Cowbells, Porn Funk, and Afro-Tance

I caught the first annual Knit Ball at the Knitting Factory and it was one of the best parties in Hollyweird I have ever attended. Most parties and gigs in LA are inherently lame, with too many hipsters there to be seen rather than to enjoy and listen to the music, or too many industry types congregating in the corners doing too much blow or stroking the egos of the lead singer or random hot chick in the band.

Knit Ball was different. The crowd was mellow and happy and there for the music which included the headliner Particle and other bands such as Lotus, Aphrodesia, Delta Nove, New Monsoon, Blue Turtle Seduction, and Animatronics. The place wasn't very crowded which meant plenty of room to dance and breathe. I've seen shows at the original Knitting Factory in NYC and the left coast version is much different and it some ways a cooler venue. You have to park in a parking deck which turns into a mini-parking lot scene with people having cocktails and smoking up before they go into the show. The elevator takes you a few steps from the box office window.

A long corridor leads into a bigger room, or what is called The Front Room which is one of three areas to see music. A long bar sits on one side opposite several couches. The stage is in the far corner. There are two big sets of grey steel doors that lead into the Main Room and the Alterknit Lounge.

I went with Change100 and we met up with the 19 year-old actress who lives across the hall from her. She brought her father with her, who was visiting for the weekend from Wisconsin. He was totally cool, smoking up, partying, and buying drinks for everyone.

When we walked in, Aphrodesia was on stage. All eleven band members were cramped as they belted out addictive funky Afro-Cuban melodies. Originally from San Francisco, Aphrodesia had recently spent time in West Africa soaking up the local beats and sounds. Their music has a variety of influences such as Afrobeat, Highlife, dub, funk, Caribbean spice and East African trance music. They had two female leads and one of them played the cowbell. They wore a combination of spandex and fish net stockings. We only listened for two songs before we headed into the Main Room to see Lotus.

I don't have a setlist for Lotus, but they played for about an hour starting around 9:45pm. The Main Room had a balcony with trippy decorations. There was a mini bar off to the left side of the stage and a main bar in back. They stocked Red Stripes which pleased me. Random people in the crowd were dressed up. One guy wore a cape and a chick with big boobs wore a slutty Catholic school girl. Some wore pajamas or Asian-themed clothing. One drunk guy wore Evel Knievel pants.

As the floor filled up and the music started it was evident that a good majority of the crowd was rolling on something. Two high school girls who danced near us were totally wasted. They couldn't stop dancing even when the music stopped. The crowd was a mixture of spun out wookies, jacked up club kids, trendoids who looked cooler than they actually were, UCLA frat boys, hipsters checking their cell phones every seven minutes, drunken D-girls, stoners from the Valley, and tripping high schoolers since the show was ages 18 and up.

Daddy turned me onto Lotus. He saw them at Wakrusa last year and burned me a CD of their performance. I was hooked on their Phishy vibes and excited to see that they were on the bill with Particle at Knit Ball. Lotus is originally from Philly and has been around for five or six years. The quintet have morphed into a groove band, with a jazzy and funky flow. Lotus has two drummers and sometimes two guys playing keys. Just like Particle, some of their songs sound like house music and it's like hearing something from a club in Greece performed by a live band.

I only knew the name to one song, Sunrain, which was the highlight of the tight and high energy set. The entire crowd danced and you could feel the floor rattle. It was the first time I saw Lotus perform live and was impressed. When their set ended, I was disappointed that they weren't going to play more. That's how I can tell how much I'm digging the vibe of a band, particularly when I'm sober. They walked off stage and I wanted more.

Here's how Change100 described the scene:
The willowy blonde hippie girl blew on my neck as she floated past me, the stage lights reflecting pink and blue off the the whites of her glassy eyes. She must have seen how hot I was, my damp blonde hair twisted into a knot at the nape of my neck, sweat coursing down my face, ruining my once-perfect makeup job. I suppose the MDMA coursing through her bloodstream implored her to reach out to me in my hour of need, in whatever small way she could... More
We stepped outside for a setbreak. Delta Nove is a funk band from Long Beach and were onstage in the Front Room as we walked outside to smoke. They weren't bad and the crowd was into it. I caught two or three of their songs before we went back inside to see Particle.

Here's the Particle setlist from Knit Ball:
Particle 5.19.06 Knitting Factory, Hollywood, CA

Set 1: It's So Hard > Denmark, Cheap Novelty Hats, Mind Over Matter, Children's Story, Ed & Molly

Set 2: The Golden Gator > Vocoder & Beatbox Jam> Golden Gator > Ramble On > Golden Gator > I Think I'm In Love > Golden Gator, Launchpad

Encore: Truth Dont Die*

*with Luke Miller from Lotus (keyboard), Liz Larson from Aphrodesia (trombone), John Harrington from Delta Nove (trumpet), and Raj Parikh from New Monsoon (tablas)
I first saw Particle during their after Phish show gig in San Francisco in 2000. I've caught them six or seven other times, possibly more. I've described Particle as dance/club music performed by a live band. They recently added two new members, one of them being Scott Metzger, who I've seen play with Galactic. The duo guitars give them an interesting sound with some of their newer songs. I admit, I'm not that much of a fan of the new stuff. However, they're making an attempt to go in a new direction and take some new chances which I applaud.

Their older material is still great stuff, even if I'm not rolling. I don't know their entire song base enough to say that I have a favorite song, but I've seen them play Ed & Molly at almost ever show. The version at Knit Ball sizzled and had the crowd jumping up and down as the wooden floor shook and bounced.

The second set featured a cover of Led Zeppelin's Ramble On that was in the middle of a Gold Gator sandwich. For their encore, Particle invited members of the other bands that participated in Knit Ball such as New Monsoon, Delta Nove, Lotus, and Aphrodesia. It was pinnacle of Knit Ball where everyone's musical influences entwined during the delicious encore.

The music was amazing and new. The crowds were receptive, mellow, and fun to be around. The venue was pretty cool. I haven't seen every musical venue in LA, but from the ones I've seen, the Knitting Factory is my favorite so far. You got to do your own thing at Knit Ball, which ended up as a collection of spacey jams, trance-like beats, addictive Afro grooves, porn funk, and even some old school cowbell. I was surprised that you could find musical substance in LA, especially in a random club in Hollyweird.

Editor's Note: This is cross posted to my Phish blog titled Knit Ball Review and Particle Setlist.
Last 5 Flicks I Watched:
1. DiG!
2. Chinatown
3. War of the Worlds
4. Bittersweet Motel
5. 54

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Pieces of Pauly: L.A. Edition

This post is dedicated to Modeski!

What did I eat yesterday? Lunch was a double chili cheeseburger and chili fries with a raspberry iced tea at Tommy's. I ate dinner at the Farmer's Market... chicken parmigania panini with an Italian side salad. I also devoured a chocolate shake with whipped cream from Bennet's for dessert.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Palm Trees

I woke up in LA after passing out from smoking too much medicinal marijuana. Showcase has a card after being cleared by a doctor. He can buy, transport, grow, and smoke weed without going to jail. He has an affliction that requires him to smoke weed once an hour all day. Lucky for him, he lives in a progressive state where they allow their citizens to smoke dope for medical reasons. Showcase is cleared to purchase weed from various legal pot clubs in California. He picked up Hassan and Black Momba last night. One made me sleepy. The other kept me medicated for a sustained amount of time. I might establish California citizenship so I can get one of those cards and be able to fly with weed. Unreal. Who cares if The Man listens to my cell phone conversations and reads my email. They already know I'm a pothead. I might as well go ahead and get medically cleared and become an official pothead of the state.

My flight to Long Beach started out on a bad note. We were stuck on the tarmac for forty-five minutes in the rain as we watched several international planes from Swiss Air, Iberian, Icelandic Air, Air France, and KLM take off before us. The lady next to me ate an entire chicken Caesar's salad while we waited to take off. I thumbed through a book from Alan Watts and listened to a Sonny Rollins bootleg that GMoney gave me.

During my flight, I watched two bad episodes of Law & Order SUV. I think Bobby Flay's wife is in one of those episodes. She plays the assistant DA. I caught Bobby Flay on the Iron Chef and he made goat cheese and chocolate ruffles with black berries. That made me hungry. The only thing I had to eat was an $8 chicken and panini sandwich. It had a spicy mayonnaise with roasted red peppers. I picked out the artichoke hearts. I watched a Travel Channel special on hot dogs. I haven't had a Pink's dog in several years and it's on my list of things to do.

Somewhere over Nebraska, I watched the season finale of The OC and Marisa Cooper is dead. Awesome. She's the worst character to hit the airwaves since Brenda Walsh on Beverly Hill 90210. And as soon as the producers and writers could, they shipped her character's bitchy ass to Europe and replaced her with that chick from Saved by the Bell who smoked pot and by the end of the series, she sucked off every dude in the 310 area code.

The OC and The Sopranos were both big disappointments this year. My faith rests in the arms of Entourage. The Tao of Turtle is simply amazing. The dual hijinks with Johnny Drama rivals the best comedic duos of all time, even better than Jack Tripper and Larry from upstairs.

I have to finish up an article that due on Monday at 6am. Being in Hollyweird makes it tough to actually do work with the ominous sun. I walked past a magazine stand on Robertson and Pico and spotted three poker publications that I have written for. Must say that gave me goosebumps. And I'm totally narcissistic and vain so I took a peek at my work. I ate breakfast at Nick's. Change100 lives around the corner. She went last week and some of the waitstaff asked about me. I guess they didn't miss me as much as my generous tips.

One of the older waitresses calls me Sweetie. When I gave her my order, she said she remembered me because she likes her hasbrowns the same way as me... with melted American or cheddar cheese. My standard Nick's order is iced tea, French Toast, bacon, and hash browns. I called Daddy for a Dial-a-Bacon, but he wasn't around. Tasty bacon is like a great blowjob. You'll drive 100 miles just to get it.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Jorge, Space Porn, and Kain

I've watched the Yankees win twice against the Texas Rangers in one run games. Last night they picked up a 4-3 victory and Wang went eight innings. The night before, I saw one of the more exciting games of the year. It's definitely going to be replayed on YES and has already become an instant classic. The Yankees erased a 9-0 deficit to come from behind and win 14-13 in the bottom on the ninth. They also tied a record for the highest comeback in team history.

Missing two starting outfielders to injuries (Matsui & Sheffield), the Yanks rallied behind Derek Jeter's three run home run and Jorge Posada's amazing defensive stop. With the Rangers trying to pick up an extra run, Posada survived a collision at home plate with Mark Teixeira, who barreled into him at top speed. Posada tagged him out which ended the inning. But his contributions would not end there. In the bottom of the ninth, after Mo Rivera's crappy performance where he let the Rangers take a 13-12 lead, Posada came up to bat as the go ahead run and launched a two-run homerun into the right field bleachers for the victory. Sensational!

* * * * *

My nose and sinus area are losing a battle with the high pollen count in New York City. My only solace is knowing that I'll be leaving the city for a few days so I won't be waking up unable to breathe and a dripping nose.

Last weekend, I headed out to Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky for three plus days. This weekend, I'm heading out to Hollyweird for four plus days. Since this is a small trip, I packed lightly. I have three categories of packing... weekend trips, week trips, and anything longer. Based on where I go, I have three different bags all varying in size. And I only check my bag if I'm going somewhere more than a week since I'm bringing more clothes and most likely my laptop. For this trip, I shoved a few t-shirts, underwear and socks into a small bookbag and I threw a book, my camera, iPod and laptop into my laptop bag. It's not a lot and I can run through an airport with ease, just in case I have to do that. The best part is that I can ride the NYC subways without having to carry a bulky load.

I could save over $50 if I take the subway to Grand Central Station then take the express bus to JFK, but that takes close to two hours (subway time plus traffic getting out of Manhattan) versus a 45 minute cab ride. Plus the Yankees play a day game today and I can watch it all and still make it to the airport in time for my 6:30pm JetBlue flight. Whenever I get home I think about taking the express bus into Manhattan then hopping on the subway... but by the time I get back, I'm always tired and/or hungry and I just want to go home. Spending an extra $50 to get home quicker always sounds more appealing.

I'm going to a concert at the Knitting Factory in West Hollywood on Friday with Change100. Two of my favorite bands Particle and Lotus are playing at the first annual Knit Ball, which features other bands such as New Monsoon, Delta Nove, Aphrodesia, and Blue Turtle Seduction. Here's how the promoters describe the night:
They call it "Space Porn," and no it isn't based on the opening scenes of Barbarella. A mix of '70s space rock ala Pink Floyd, the swinging wah wah sass of a '70s porno soundtrack, and the speed, grandeur, inspired soloing and dexterity of '70s fusion along the lines of Return to Forever create a sum equal to Particle. This show will feature like- minded instrumental jam explorers embarking on long journeys across the fret and keyboards on all three Knitting Factory stages.
Yeah, bring on the space porn! I first saw Particle at a post-Phish party in San Francisco back in 2000. And yes, I was rollin' pretty hard then. Most recently Particle opened for Trey Anastasio Band last May at Hammerstien Ballroom in NYC. Trey sat in with Particle and performed a sizzling version of 2001 with them.

I'm pumped to see some music while I'm out in Hollyweird. I've never been to the west coast version of the Knitting Factory. Senor and I have seen dozens of shows there in NYC. The original Knitting Factory was located in a building in SoHo that used to be a knitting factory... hence the name. Thousands of illegal immigrants used to work there. Now hipsters snort coke in the bathrooms and buy over priced pints of Brooklyn Lager at the bar while they listen to a dozens bands that sound like poorly orchestrated rip-offs of Velvet Underground. Lou Reed would piss and shit in those guys ears if he heard their noise.

I'm also excited about Knit Ball because I have a writing assignment. It's a spec article, only 500-600 words in length. The pay is next to nothing if it's accepted. I don't care. This marks the first crossover attempt for me to get paid to write about music. I already get paid to write about one of my passions... poker. I'd love to get a few bucks to see concerts and write it up.

I finished one poker article last night/early this morning that's due on Friday. I emailed it a few moments ago. I have one more poker article with a deadline on Monday at 9am. Since I'll still be in California, that's a 6am deadline. I'm hoping to get at least an hour of research in today and work on it Friday and Saturday. If I push myself, I can have this done before I get on the plane. But why rush?

* * * * *

My buddy Wilkins sent me this funny link... I'm getting one for Iggy.

* * * * *

I've been pissed off at Senor. I refuse to speak to him until he comes up with a better name for his kid. There was only one name that he and his wife agreed upon... Kain. At first I suggested that was a bad idea because of the biblical connotations. But since then, he insisted on giving his second son that name, I've been furious with him. I refuse to allow him to scar that child's life!

This morning, the expecting father sent me this email:


GET USED TO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

:) Senor
After I stopped laughing for ten minutes straight, I wrote back:

Make sure you tell that ("Get used to it...") to Kain after he gets beat up for the 283rd time in school. Get used to it? Hell, I'm trying to save your kid from years of embarrassment. I should report you to the Rhode Island social services for PRE-child abuse.

Let's just truly ruin his life and raise him a Red Sox fan.

I'm still not speaking to you until you come to your senses,
Feel free to email me your name suggestions and I'll forward them to Senor.

* * * * *

Recent Writing Music...
1. Beck
2. Essex Green
3. Soulive with John Scofield
4. North Mississippi Allstars
5. Cream

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Slow Recovery

When I got home on Sunday night after my quick trip, I found a few pieces of friendly mail. One was from my high school in Manhattan reminding me that I have until June 1st to send them my yearly donation. Three other pieces of mail were checks for freelance work. I hit the jackpot. Sort of. Poker Player Newspaper, Poker Pro Magazine, and Bluff Magazine all sent me checks for articles. The Bluff piece hasn't been published yet, and at this point I got paid so I don't care if that piece ever sees daylight. I'm assuming it is because they wouldn't pay me unless they were going to use it. The editor told me it will be in the July issue. If you pick up any current issue of Poker Player Newspaper or Poker Pro, you can find my writing.

I have one deadline on Friday morning and another next Monday. I fly out to LA on Thursday afternoon so I'll do my best to get both done before I leave, or at least the first draft of the piece that's due on Monday.

I've pushed off doing a couple of things and relaxed on Monday. I watched the Phish IT DVD and some of the Food Network. I almost jizzed in my pants watching Rachel Ray make a bacon-swiss cheese dip. I also listened to music for three or four hours mainly most of the CD mixes that GMoney gave me. I didn't write much this weekend and I took most of Monday off. Breaks from writing are good. I purchased a plane ticket from Las Vegas to LA for late June when I go see Widespread Panic. That was under $180 and I'm flying JetBlue from Vegas to Long Beach. I love that 40 minute flight.

Last night I wrote from Midnight through 3 or 4am before I passed out listening to old jazz records. I woke up to another rainy morning in NYC. The raindrops sounded like hailstones as they feel down on the air conditioner and echoed throughout the aprartment. That's what woke me up. I've been writing ever since.

I made one of my infamous lists and I'm going to try to do everything before I head to the airport on Thursday.
  1. Laundry
  2. Go to the bank to cash checks
  3. Buy a digital camera online for my mother
  4. Finish Friday's Poker Player Newspaper column
  5. Call my buddy TC from Seattle
  6. Convince Senor not to name his kid K---
  7. Write a Truckin' story about Waffle House
  8. Edit the May issue of Truckin'
  9. Write a strip club review for Las Vegas Vegas
  10. Get passport photos
  11. Renew passport
  12. Finish reading a book from Alan Watts
  13. Food shopping to make dinner for my brother
  14. Watch Andy Bloch's Expert Insight DVD on Blackjack
  15. Pay cell phone bill
  16. Mail book to BG
I told you I had a lot on my plate. I also have to squeeze in time to play poker online and write my standard two hours a day which does not include updating my blogs. And and as far as reading blogs go... I almost quit cold turkey. Watching too much bad TV messes with your head. So does reading poorly written vanity projects... especially about poker. I feel smarter already eliminating that crap from my daily reading list.

Over this weekend I finished two books including Chuck Klosterman's Killing Yourself to Live. Iggy gave me a book from Anne Lamott about writing called Bird by Bird. I enjoyed her stories about being a young writer and creative writing teacher. I finished that one already.

Recent Writing Music...
1. Peter Tosh
2. Sonny Rollins
3. The Wood Brothers
4. The Band with Bob Dylan
5. My Morning Jacket

Monday, May 15, 2006

Public Masturbation

Over the weekend, I asked a few friends this question:
"Where is the strangest place you rubbed one out?"
The results were hilarious. Take a guess at the places where Pauly, BG, Otis, and Daddy confessed to partaking in their most deviant self-pleasuring moment:
1. Jerking off into a potted plant in a bar.
2. Jerking off in the bathroom of a Greyhound bus.
3. Jerking off on the highway while driving.
4. Pulling into the parking lot of a Bed, Bath, & Beyond then jerking off in the car parked behind the dumpster.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Random Weekend Photos

Here are some random photos from my second annual Three Day Three State Bender in Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky.

Daddy's bun in the oven

Cracker Barrel in Kentucky

Mr. T's in Covington, KY

"Sweet liquor eases the pain..."

Post-breakfast at the Anchor Grill

Cracker Barrel's infamous French Toast

Ken Griffey Jr. before he struck out

This product puts hair on your chest...

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Soggy and Groggy

Last night I went to a Cincinnati Reds baseball game with some friends. Just like last year, Iggy pulled a few strings with people he knows at the Reds. He scored us free tickets and got a message up on the big Jumbotron. The foul pole is obstructing "Boy Genius."

After waking up in a hotel adjacent to a riverboat casino in Indiana on Friday morning, Iggy and I found a Cracker Barrel in Florence, Kentucky. I ordered the French Toast with bacon, sweet tea, and a hashbrown casserole. Yummy. I had one of Iggy's biscuits. We picked up Maudie at the airport then checked into our hotel in Covington, Kentucky which is right over the bridge and across the Ohio River from the city of Cincinnati.

Daddy and BG drove in from Indiana to meet up with us. We went to a liquor store nearby and almost bought a pony keg of Blue Moon. I picked up a 12 pack of Red Stripe and we put all out liquor on ice. We headed to the Reds game with GMoney, who contributes to my Phish blog. Friday night was a chilly and soggy night, but we gutted out 8+ innings. I ate waffle fries with BG and also got a hot dog.

Afterwards we retreated to the suite and played poker for several hours. I got my ass kicked. Iggy and Daddy played Roshambo for $20 a pop. Around 4am, Daddy and I went to Waffle House which was about two blocks from our hotel. I think I have a Truckin' story now after Daddy ate the biggest plate of hashbrowns I have ever seen, while constantly hitting on out "pear-shaped" waitress. When we walked into Waffle House, there were two cops, two hookers, a pimp, a cab driver, and a homeless guy sitting in there.

I woke up on Saturday morning in Kentucky. I had to get up early to buy Widespread Panic summer tour tickets for shows in LA and at Red Rocks in Colorado. I fucked up and thought they went on sale at 10am and at noon. They did, but it was 10am Mountain time for the Red Rocks tickets and 12pm Pacific time for the LA tickets. I woke up too early.

A few hours ago, I scored two tickets to WSP at Red Rocks for their Saturday show. So in a few weeks I'll finally do something that I've been wanting to do for over a decade... see Panic at Red Rocks! And just now, I scored tickets to two LA shows at the Wiltern Theatre. I secured Saturday night and Change100 picked up Friday night tickets. Nice... it's official. I'm seeing three Panic shows this summer.

I took a ton of photos and I hope to post them tomorrow.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Hoosier Friday

I woke up in Indiana today. I know. What the fuck am I doing in Indiana?

My flight to Cincinnati on Thursday morning was delayed a few minutes. I sat next to a guy who pulled his jacket over his head and went to sleep. A cute woman sat across from me. She looked like one of those NYC intellectual types with wire-rimmed glasses and a leather laptop bag from Coach. She was a professor of sorts, grading a stack of essays with a green pen. She tore a few to shreds.

Delta offered me a glass of gingerale with three ice cubes and biscoti. The biscoti was good but it crumbled as soon as I took a bite and most of it ended up on Page 187 of Chuck Klosterman's book. I finished Killing Yourself to Live somewhere over Western Pennsylvania. I enjoyed Klosterman's work, but I didn't like the part when he tried to equate all the members of Kiss (and their bold, yet unsuccessful attempt at solo records) to his ex-girlfriends. Aside from that, it was entertaining. The font that the publisher chose made my eyes hurt.

Cincinnati airport reminded me of Denver's airport in looks. I discovered an Outback in one of the terminals. Iggy picked me up. He got up before Noon for the first time in over a year to meet me. Cincinnati's airport is located in Northern Kentucky, so technically I flew into the South.

We drove around Kentucky looking for a Cracker Barrel since Iggy was craving bacon. We couldn't find one. I saw a sign for a tractor pull though. We drove the backroads to Belterra Casino. It's located in Indiana across the river. In fact, Belterra is a riverboat casino and gamblers from Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky flock there because Indiana is the only state in the area that allows riverboat gambling.

The hotel is located on land, but the casino is on an actual riverboat connected to the new luxury hotel. Iggy plays poker there and when we walked into the crescent moon shaped room, there were four tables of action going. As we waited to be seated, I found a copy of Poker Player Newspaper. The issue included the first running of my new column on online poker, which even included a picture of me with the byline. I was a little bit giddy. It took me a year to get promoted to regular columnist.

I played poker for a few hours and lost $73 with a bunch of old guys with rural twangs and Southern accents. We quit and headed to the bar for beer and dinner. I ate Buffalo spicy chicken strips with waffle fries. Iggy ordered a pulled pork sandwich. We watched the Reds-Nationals baseball game and Iggy would order two beers at once because our bartender was slow. The Yankees-Redsox game was on too. Poor Matsui. He fractured his wrist and is out for 3 months. But Ken Griffey, Jr. hit a homerun in extra innings to win the game for the Reds. Later tonight I'm going to the Reds-Phillies game.

For now, I'm in Indiana and some girl in the room next to us has a nasty cough. She sounds like a two pack-a-day smoker and woke me up. I can't fall back asleep so I'm writing about waking up in Indiana.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Waiting on a Plane

I'm sitting at Gate 5 of LaGuardia Airport. My left SHIFT key on my laptop is sticky. I don't know if it's the humidity, but it sticks about 33% of the time when I use it. The Delta terminal is lame. They don't have wifi here (like JetBlue) and I have to use my aircard. About 15 years ago, Delta was the top dog in the domestic airline industry. Now, their airline is bankrupt. They don't serve food. Their mechanics get paid dog wages. The hired their stewardesses from retirement homes. And their service has gone to shit. I'm only flying Delta because JetBlue doesn't go to Cincinnati. Yet. Plus the flight was like $250.

I'm leaving grey and gloomy and New York City for four days. Thank God. The high pollen count in the city is driving me nuts. I'm going to Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio again. I return on Sunday. Then one week from today, I fly out to Hollyweird for five days. I actually miss California.

At the gate, they have TVs with CNN jacked up as loud as possible. Too bad they don't have Sportscenter on and I can watch baseball highlights. I almost left my house keys at the security check in. I also walked through with my belt on and it did not set off the metal detector. Delta does have these self-service check-in kiosks which are great if you are not checking in luggage. And on a struggling airline like Delta, I would never check my luggage. It might end up in Topeka.

Last night, the Yankees won their first game of the year against the Red Sox. Too bad that Mike Mussina can't pitch every game. He's been on a roll. I have never seen him pitch with so much confidence since he joined the Yankees. His fastball has some zip on it. Derek said it's because he took a few extra weeks off (per the advice of closer Mariano Rivera) to rest his arm during the off season. Randy Johnson should be watching tapes of Mussina's 2006 games. That's how an ace handles himself. Everyone is jizzing over ARod's 5th inning HR off of Schilling last night. Too bad Giambi's earlier HR was overlooked. Talk about seeing a hitter locked in. We'll see if the Yankees are for real if they can win the rubber-match game tonight.

I have Chuck Klosterman's book Killing Yourself to Live with me. In this book, Spin magazine sends him to all these places where famous rockstars died. He had to visit the Chelsea Hotel in NYC on 23rd Street where in a narcotic-driven stupor the Sex Pistol's untalented bass player Sid Vicious killed Nancy Spungen. Klosterman also showed up at the field in Mississippi where Lynard Skynard's plane crashed and at the intersection in Macon, Georgia where Duane Allman was killed when his motorcycle was hit by a peach truck. It's also the location where Allman Brothers Band bassist Berry Oakley also got killed in a motorcycle crash almost a year later to the day that Duane Allman died. If I could play guitar like one dude... it would be like Duane Allman.

I read half of Klosterman's book on the subway yesterday and I should be able to complete it by the time in land... in Kentucky. I know, it's weird. Cinncinati's airport is in Kentucky.

Last 5 Books I Saw People Reading on the Subway...
1. Freakanomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner
2. The Partner by John Grisham
3. No Place Like Home by Mary Higgins Clark
4. Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Walking Memories

I took the subway to the bottom of Manhattan. I exited the number 1 train at South Ferry and it felt weird not seeing the World Trade Center. New York City is like your favorite band that keeps touring even after their guitar player died. They got a new one and he's not bad. But it's just not the same.

I was supposed to meet Haley for lunch. She flew in from Santa Fe last Monday and has not been back to NYC since she left two years ago. Has it been that long? It has. And all her New York friends have been pissed that she hasn't been back like she promised. After living here for six years including four years at Columbia plus two lost years of that post-college funk phase, she needed some time to pass before she truly missed this place. I think she might have gone another year without returning if it weren't from the hordes of guilt trips she got. Plus she was invited to Jenna's brother's wedding this past weekend and decided to leave New Mexico for a week.

Haley told me to meet her and a couple of old classmates at Palacinka's. Afterwards we'd find some place to drink. I liked drinking in the afternoons in NYC. It made me feel like I was alive. I've never been to that Palacinka's on Grand Street but it's a crowded Eastern European crepe joint in the West Village/Soho area with grey walls.

I decided that I was going to get exercise and gawk at hot women during my walk from Battery Park to the West Village. Spalding Gray is one of my favorite writers. He used to love taking walks around the city too, except he had an ass fetish, specifically nice asses in jeans. He would find a hot chick wearing jeans and follow her. He'd walk a good ten to fifteen feet behind her. Far enough that she wouldn't freak out, but close enough so her could enjoy the curves. When she went into a building or to the subway, Gray find another ass and follow that one.

I wasn't stalking women, but there's something about the Spring in New York City when women shed their bulky winter clothing and show off some skin, some ass crack, some cleavage, and even some bush.

Within a few minutes I stood at the intersection of Chambers Street. I walked past a payphone that I frequently used several years ago. I bought pot from a guy who worked around the corner. I'd use the phone to tell him I was ready to meet up. Sometimes I waited for him in the Borders Bookstore that used to be located in the World Trade Center. Most of the time I hung out near the West African street vendors that burned off incense. I would try to find a good deal on headphones or AA batteries.

I made my way up Broadway to Canal Street which has become one of the biggest clusterfucks on the Eastern seaboard. During the days, the traffic is brutal and rivals LA traffic. Cars are coming out of the Holland Tunnel trying to merge into city streets or cars on city streets trying to merge onto the Manhattan Bridge which takes you into Brooklyn. You can walk from the Hudson River to the East River in less time that it would take to drive it because the congestion was so dense. The tourists flock to Chinatown for good food and cheap knock offs of anything such as T-shirts, belts, perfume, Louis Vuitton handbags, watches, and jewelry. Everything is fake in Chinatown. I'm starting to suspect that the Chinese people there aren't really Chinese.

I thought about taking some random photos in Chinatown, but it was too crowded and I can't stand walking behind very very very very slow tourists on tiny sidewalks that are clogged with street vendors. I avoided the clusterfuck and headed North through SoHo. I passed a few lofts that brought back weird and wild memories of my puerile 20s. One building housed a gallery where a friend had an art show. She used to paint these random bras on huge 10 x 10 foot canvas. Like most young artists in NYC, she grew bitter with the scene and got sick of starving by the time she turned 30. She married a rich guy and moved to the burbs where she's an art teacher at posh Montessori school.

I walked past the apartment where I used to do a lot of my late night partying in the mid-1990s. Troy was a preppy doofus from Andover that always scored good drugs from LSD to Valium. I spent many nights ripping gaggers on his glass coffee table. He owned a huge loft with a loud sound system. His family was uber-rich and his father was some famous lawyer who got kept another famous rich rock musician out of jail for heroin possession back in the 1980s.

He also sold my co-workers coke. He wasn't a dealer. Troy was just a cokehead who wanted to pay less for his habit so he bought a ton of coke in Spanish Harlem and overcharged casual weekend coke warriors like my work friends.

Troy was in a band with some friends of mine. He was a terrible guitar player too and always got too drunk before his gigs. At the time his major influences included Oasis, Dave Matthews Band, and the Smashing Pumpkins. Yeah, I know... he's a total douchebag

I had sex with Troy's girlfriend's 18-something year old sister in his bathroom at 4:30am one morning. She was a Suicide Girl in training and was the first chick I ever made out with that had both her nipples pierced. I had to turn on the water because she screamed too loud. It wasn't because of my sexual prowess, rather she squealed like a drowning puppy because I kept pulling her hair. When we finished our romp, I wiped my penis on his bath towel.

I never told Troy about one of the my biggest transgressions of 1995. I guess this is my public admission of guilt. So if you're reading this... Troy, I apologize for taking advantage of your girlfriend's neurotic sister's precocious sexual appetite, then luring her into your bathroom where we had intercourse for about four minutes. OK, three and a half. I then wiped my penis clean with your towel because you were a dumb ass motherfucker who kept forgetting to buy toilet paper. What was I supposed to do? What if I had to take a dump?

The sad thing is that I forgot her name. I do recall that she had an unhealthy fondness for Bjork and kept insisting that she was the most innovative musical artist of the end of the 20th century.

No wonder I forgot her name.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Happy Birthday....

Today is Iggy's birthday and it's also Derek's blog birthday. Yeah, today marks the second birthday of Poker in the Weeds. Congrats to both of you dorks!
Peel Slowly

I set aside a twelve hour period where I did nothing except read books and listen to music (non-radio). I used to do that years ago because I was broke and single and had nothing else to do aside from sit in a dark room and listen to music or read via candle light. Today I have to force myself to do just that. For twelve plus hours I did not write or watch TV. No internet and definitely no email. I also avoided human contact and shut off my cell phone. I wanted to allow my brain to soak up a half of a day of literature and music. I don't think my experiment will make me a better writer. That was not the point. It felt calming to detach myself from the hectic world for a few hours and let my brain marinate in the arts instead of being bombarded to buy stuff that I don't need.

I alternated between sitting in silence and reading with lots of light, or sitting in the dark and listening to music. I avoided mixing both in order to allow my mind to focus on one thing. But I usually went in 90 minute intervals.

I completed Bukowski's Hollywood and reread Alan Watts' The Wisdom of Insecurity. Watts book is so short that I finished it in one sitting. I read a few chapters of Blue Blood, which was written by an alumni of my high school who went to Harvard then became a cop in the Bronx. I also have a compilation four Woody Allen screenplays that I pick up from time to time. It had been several months since I flipped through the pages of Interiors, one of his most overlooked films. I finally got to read Allen's words as opposed to seeing his films. You forget how amazing of a writer he is until you see the words on the page.

I immersed myself into a lot of jazz including Coltrane, Bird, and Monk. I also had an old Miles Davis bootleg from France and hearing that was like talking to an old friend. In the past week, I've listened to several Miles Davis records from start to finish including Bitches Brew and Round Midnight. I've also been on a Grateful Dead kick and been taking time to listen to several old bootlegs (1977-78 era) that I've uploaded to my iPod. As the sun rose, kept myself awake with Velvet Underground's Live from Max's Kansas City, Peter Tosh, and the Allman Brothers Band's epic double album Live at the Fillmore East.

When my experiment completed, I wrote for two hours on different topics including several thousand rambling words on the variety drugs that Miles took and how each drug affected his music differently. My mind was allowed to roam unfettered onto the pages. Since I knew no one was going to read it, there was no pride or ego involved. No showing off. Just me unleashing my thoughts. They flowed out quick and fast. I didn't bother to take time to edit and make sure words were spelled right. That's called editing. Writing is when you just sit down and write. Stopping to pee is not an option as long as the train of thought flows. I avoid cellphones when I write. It's my biggest distraction. Email is even worse. That urge to see who won the Yankees game had to be stifled.

After about two hours of non-stop writing, I got a glass of water then went to sleep. I had a dream that I lived in Iowa and I ate at Sizzler four nights a week. I guess you can consider that a nightmare. The Iowa part, not Sizzler.

When I woke up, I erased about 60% of what I wrote. Usually I send 87% of it to the trash. I'm writing better these days and that's been keeping me in a positive mood.

In the last month I had been turning my cellphone off for long stretches of time. I'm blogging less. I'm checking my email less frequently. I'm almost stopped reading blogs aside from a handful. It's hard to read about people struggling when they have no desire to actually improve their current conditions and live more in the moment. A lot of people who blog are lost souls hoping to connect with other lost souls. Sometimes they get lucky. But even the lucky ones are lonely at the core.

My bloglines folder is becoming obsolete since I just erase everything in there anyway. I've been putting that extra time into reading books, watching flicks, and listening to music. Spending less time online and attached to the computer has relaxed me more. I can't explain it. I think all those ads I see are killing more brain cells than a weekend bender with AlCantHang. I'm pretty sure I see more ads on the internet than on TV and in the subways and on billboards these days.

I'm no angel. I have ads on my blogs. I got habits to feed. I guess that's why I haven't been looking at my blogs much the past month or so. I'm sick of it all.

Widespread Panic starts their summer tour and I decided to go see at least two shows... one in LA and the other at Red Rocks in Colorado. I've had Red Rocks and WSP on my "To Do List" for a decade and I keep pushing it off. No more. One of the hard things about covering the WSOP this summer in Las Vegas is that I have to trade poker for music. The summer is when a lot of my favorite bands tour and I'm going to miss a ton of Panic shows along with Trey opening for Phil & Friends. Being stuck in Vegas for two months sucks. That's why I decided to head out to Bonnaroo this year and skip off to see Panic for a night in Colorado and in California.

I got a new assignment for one of the magazines I write for that's due in two weeks. I have another deadline in 10 days or so. I haven't started either piece. I'm pitching the piece I wrote up about the Wall Street Game to a few print publications. Aside from that, I haven't had much work which also means... no money coming in!

You can't put a price tag on free time. Alone time. Time to sit and do nothing but write and listen to music...

Monday, May 08, 2006

Running for Roses and the Big Sneeze

I was going to do a ten minute post, but I'll squeeze an extra ten in there for a full twenty minutes of rambling...

Brother Derek did not win the 132nd Kentucky Derby on Saturday. My brother Derek (the real person) had Brother Derek (the horse) at 60-1 odds, which meant a $5 bet (via BG) would have netted him $300 if his horse won the Derby. Instead his horse finished in a dead heat tie for 4th. I had Brother Derek at 13-1 and if it hit, I would have won $130. I curbed my degeneracy and did not bet on any other races or game. But I had a sweet session playing Party Poker and I'm up over $1K for the week.

A lot of poker players think that online poker is rigged. And that if you win some money, then withdraw it, you fall under a "cash out curse" and the online site enacts a computer program to give you horrible cards and make sure you lose your money to even the score. On Sunday morning I took out a few hundred out of my online accounts because I don't like having too much money in one place --- just in case something happens. In the past I used to live off my bankroll and it supplemented my income. I had been on a six month downswing and since I've been losing, I did not have the chance to spend any of my winnings on myself or gifts for family and friends. Fortunate for me, I have other means of support otherwise I'd be seriously fucked. But I don't like my account balance getting over a specific amount, so I withdraw the overage and add it to my cash bankroll.

I think I want this freaky poster (see the photo), if for the only reason to get really high and look at what German's think of NYC. I like the aliens and the Hasidic dude crossing the street. Click here to see a magnified view of the poster.

When things are going bad in New York, it's easy to overlook what's special and amazing about this city. As soon as I leave, I can't wait to get back especially for the food. I miss the energy and the simple fact it's a pedestrian city with a great subway system. Being in Las Vegas and LA for most of this year reminded me how much it sucks living in a place that lacks reliable mass transportation. I loathe traffic. It's the biggest waste of time possible. Sometimes I think about moving to a cool and exotic place, then I realize that I kinda already live there. NYC is changing all the time including the population whether it's people from Nigeria or Omaha, new folks are always showing up and fed-up New Yorkers are always bailing. When I consider the places I want to head out to for a writer's retreat, NYC always makes it on the list. Maybe instead of traveling at the end of the year, I should find a crappy studio in Chinatown or Spanish Harlem and hunker down to write for 100 days straight? Anyone have a 3-4 month sublet starting September 1?

My buddy Ty sent me pics of his twin boys and his house. He and his wife live in North Carolina now. Ty and I have been friends for almost ten years. We lived in Seattle many moons ago. Ty and my buddy Brad were roommates and we all used to struggle living paycheck to paycheck. Ty tended bar downtown and Brad waited tables. I had four jobs that included being a museum security guard, telemarketer, and a house manager. We didn't have much money and spent what we made on amazing weed from British Columbia, twelve packs of Henry Weinhard's, and on movies. Brad and I were writing a screenplay together when we were all not playing poker at the infamous Trout House in Fremont.

When I saw pictures of Ty's current quaint suburban house, I was flooded with memories of their old places that he and Brad shared in Seattle. In 1997, they lived in a one bedroom on Pill Hill. That was were all the hospitals in Seattle were located and it also became an area where a lot of drug dealers hung out. Brad slept in a huge walk-in closet and drunks passed out in front of their window which had huge bars on it to keep out the derelicts. Ty once watched a hooker perform a trick in his hallway. Ah, don't you miss your early 20s when you didn't give a shit about living a few blocks from skid row?

They eventually moved to a basement apartment in Capitol Hill, several blocks away. Their new neighborhood was an eclectic mix of trendoids and that's where the majority of Seattle's gay population lived. They traded in the whinos and tweakers for drag queens and hipsters. They had an alley entrance and we used to play Alley Whiffle Ball there... for money too. Even though we were broke all the time, I was happy then. Times were tough but some things were much simpler. What I miss the most about Seattle (besides the drugs) was sitting on my porch or any one's porch and hanging out with friends shooting the shit about everything. Eight years later, we have all taken different paths away from the Pacific Northwest. Ty is in North Carolina with two kids. Brad went to law school in Beantown and is now an attorney in Atlanta. And you know my story...

I've been reading books for two hours everyday, not including subway rides. I try to get an hour of writing in every morning followed by an hour of reading. I'm finishing off Hollywood by Bukowski and have something from Chuck Klosterman on deck. Before I go to bed, I've developed a new routine that will try to help me sleep better. I read for a while then I listen to music for thirty minutes and close my eyes and let my mind wander. I'm not meditating per se, but I'm trying to focus on the music or clearing my mind of the day's grind. I found this has been a way to allow me to get a few extra minutes of rest every night. And I need it.

I'm going away on Thursday for a few days heading out to Ohio and Kentucky. I'm coming back late next Sunday which is Mother's Day. Since I'm missing it, I had to take my mother out Sunday night for dinner, which wasn't a bad idea because most restaurants are crowded and jack up prices on Mother's Day. We ate Italian food and I settled on the veal parmigania. The last time I was there, I ordered a filet mignon. It came out five minutes later than everyone else's meal and it was only average. I was disappointed and vowed never to order a steak from them again. They had live music. This dude who looked like the Human Head sung and played piano. His setlist included plenty of Frank Sinatra and he even snuck in a John Lennon and Barry Manilow tune. The service was lame and I tipped 16%.

Picasso's $95 million painting

A few days after one of Van Gogh's painting sold for over 40 million, a Picasso went for $95 million. That's just sick. I wonder how much money my painting will fetch after I die? $95? $195? I always want to meet the dipshits who buy over priced paintings. So in the past week, two paintings sold for about $140 million, both from dead artists and both paintings were not even close to being their best work. If they took $70 million and invested it in living artists, that would have been more beneficial for the future of art. I'm sure that several hundred artists could keep making art for the rest of their lives for a couple hundred thousand dollars...

I got junk mail from Tiffany's. Yikes. It was aqua blue too. I got on their mailing list after I purchased a gift off a wedding registry for my friends Josh and Stephanie who were married this weekend. I'm not bragging, but I had two different registries to choose from... the standard Crate and Barrel and the posh Tiffany's. About half of the weddings I got invited to since 1994 have ended in divorce. I want to enter into a contract with the married couple, that if their marriage doesn't last 1 year, I get my gift back. If it doesn't last 3 years, then I get $50 cash from each of them. If they don't last 5 years, then I get $25 each. I think that's fair considering most marriages in America have a 50% success rate, which means that 50% of the gifts that I bought will be awarded to whoever could afford a better divorce attorney.

Since I'm never getting married, I want to set aside a day where all my friends buy me random gifts like Tiffany beer mugs or a blender or candle sticks. Then we'll get really drunk on Grey Goose and throw 50% of them off the Brooklyn Bridge.

I've been trying to write a lot for myself since I returned to NYC. It's going well especially since I scaled back my freelance schedule. I don't feel like I have a looming deadline all the time. I've been able to devote more time to creative writing projects and exercises. Being able to read books helps me become a better a writer. Since I spend most of my time reading news blurbs or poorly written blogs, I haven't been exposed to high quality material. Getting to read writers I admire like Arthur Nersesian, Charles Bukowski, Alan Watts, and Chuck Klosterman has definitely got my mind back on track.

I read Neal Pollock's blog over the weekend and he took a few shots at Kobe which was 100% deserved. Kobe and his Lakers were bounced from the NBA playoffs on Saturday night by the Suns. Pollock wrote...
"The Lakers are a bunch of thugs, head cases and rapists, led by a cocky, stupid man-child who lords his admittedly superior talent over his opponents (and everyone else), as though he was living out some sort of pre-ordained historical destiny. The Suns are a likable gang of misfits, plus one thug, led by a Communist Canadian with bad hair. Who would you root for?"
And yeah, Pollock agreed with me when he said he wanted the kick ass ESPN gig that Klosterman scored. That should be my job, dammit! I'll do it for 35% of Klosterman's pay.

I've been gearing up for Bonnaroo spending more time listening to music. It should be a great crew going to the Roo this year that includes Change100, the Joker, and Molly. I haven't been to Bonnaroo since the first one. And I might not be able to see a lot of music this year, so I have to get my fix at Bonnaroo.

I've been trying to devote more time to the Phish blog. I think we had five posts this past week is might be a record! Bruce wrote something really cool about comparing the two drummers from The Grateful Dead (Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzman) and from Phish (Jon "Fish" Fishman). Take a peek at... Bruce on Drummers: Hart, Kreutzman, and Fishman.

That's it... 22 minutes later. I'm done and I haven't even referenced The Big Sneeze. My allergies are killing me and I can't stop sneezing. Been sick all week.

Recent Writing Music...
1. Sidney Bechet
2. Neil Young
3. Particle
4. Galactic
5. The Grateful Dead

Friday, May 05, 2006

5 Random Food Pics

Back by popular demand... here are some photos of food that I took in LA, Vegas, and NYC. As always, you can click on the photos to enlrage the view. Enjoy!

Roasted garlic torellini with meat & mushroom sauce

Chocolate fountain at Jean Philippe in the Bellagio
(Las Vegas, NV)

A midnight view from the drive-thru
(Las Vegas, NV)

Change100's chicken & pasta
(Los Angeles, CA)

West Hollywood sushi bar
(Los Angeles, CA)