Monday, April 30, 2007

5 Recent Hilarious Google Referrals...
1. Malcolm in the Middle almost fucks a drunk chick
2. Is the world coming to an end on Decemeber 21, 2012?
3. I want to send photos of my fucked wife to porno world for money earning
4. How to get drugs into Bonnaroo
5. How do you fix your ipod when Gatorade has been spilled on it?

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Vegas Pic Dump

Here are some random photos that I took in Las Vegas over the past week:

The Conservatory at Bellagio

Mandalay Bay omelet

Smoked applewood bacon

Friday, April 27, 2007

Last 5 Hilarious Google Referrals...
1. Mandalay Bay naked girl in the hallway
2. Masturbation and baked beans
3. I want to fuck Rachel Bilson
4. Kangaroo giving himself a blow job
5. I want to see the biggest boobies ever and the longest nipples

I wish I could make this stuff up.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Busy Again

I wanted to sleep in on Monday morning, but I had to get up early for an appointment with a real estate guy about an apartment rental for the World Series of Poker this summer. My guy found a good property less than ten minutes away from the Rio Casino where I'd be working for two months. He showed Nicky and myself the furnished apartment with a big screen TV and free internet. It was in a gated community with tennis courts and a couple of pools. All I could think was... 1. Who the fuck plays tennis outdoors in balmy Las Vegas? and 2. I wonder if the gates are tall enough will keep the miscreants out?

Sure the Redneck Riviera might have been fun to read about, but it was an unpleasant experience living there. I'm still shocked that my building unit didn't blow up from the homemade meth lab upstairs or that I didn't get clipped in a drive-by-shooting. The bright lights of the Strip don't reach out into those darkened areas of Las Vegas where the sketchy souls operate. Most of them gravitated to where I used to live on Tropicana.

I ended up renting the new apartment for two months. It's not as nice as my apartment with Grubby in Henderson, but it's much closer to the Rio which will cut down on my commute from almost an hour a day. That means about five or six extra hours of sleep per week this year. Plus the apartment in the Bella Vita was the first and only place I had to look at. The last thing I want to have to do is schlep all over Vegas seeking out Tweaker-free apartment complexes with a decent internet connection. I paid my deposit and was set up before I started work.

Nicky and I ate at the cafe in the Bellagio for breakfast on Tuesday. We both ordered omelets. Nicky got the Bellagio omlete which is stuffed with Maine lobster.

The last couple of nights I had to order room service because I was so busy with deadlines and writing that I couldn't waste any time. The chocolate cake was very good but while everything else was blah.

I got off of work early on Wednesday and went to dinner with the Poker Shrink, Nicky, Amy, and her brother. We ate at Trevi, an Italian place next to the fake Trevi fountain ar Caesar's Palace Forum Shops. The veal was good.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Last 5 Hilarious Google Referrals...
1. Traci Bingham's feet pics
2. The Amish Flasher
3. Scarlet Johansen talks about anal sex
4. Women taking a dump pictures
5. Extra cheese salami pepperoni ganja

Monday, April 23, 2007

Monday in Las Vegas

Been super busy with work and had no time to post. I have about ten minutes this morning to write.

On Friday, we had a late start getting the hell out of Hollyweird. We didn't leave the apartment until 11:54am. My target launch was 11:30 and we were off. It was drizzling in LA when we headed to the freeway. That's when it started coming down. It took three hours to drive the first 90 miles. It took about six hours to get to Las Vegas. I originally scheduled a dinner at 6pm at Joe's Steak and Seafood which we had to cancel. Thank God that I booked a back up reservation at the Palm.

I finally got to drive Nicky's new car. It's not too shabby and has plenty of giddy-up. The best part? The aux port so we can hook up an iPod.

I woke up early on Saturday and had a crappy breakfast at the Imperial Palace where we are staying. It was the cheapest room I could find on the strip within walking distance to the Bellagio.

My work schedule had me at the Bellagio from 11am to 9pm covering the WPT Championships for I'm working with some amazing people like Nicky, BJ, Amy Calistri, Shronk, Poker Shrink, and Shecky.

Nicky and I ate dinner at the Mirage from 9 to 10. I got a bleu cheese burger. Then she went to their poker room to play cards while I shuffled off to the room and wrote from 11pm to 3:30am. I penned three pieces... one for Poker News called the Phil Hellmuth and Jamie Gold Show, an update for LasVegasVegas, and a gem on the Tao of Poker called WPT Championship Day 1A: The Golden Bluff and Anna Who?.

I slept for less than four hours and was back at the Bellagio by 11am. I pulled another ten hour shift. I had been in vegas for three days and did not gamble once. I needed my fix so I bet on three NBA games and on the Yanks-Sox game. I went 1-3 in my bets and was not happy. I barely had time to keep my eye on the game. For a boring day at work, it seemed like I was always busy.

When the work day was done, I went to the Mirage again to eat with Nicky. I opted for the chicken fingers. I went back to write and was up until almost 3am again.

The phone rang at 8am. It was a wake up call. I had been up for about an hour. We have to go see a real estate guy this morning who is showing us an apartment in Las Vegas. We need to rent a plce for two months this summer. Let's hope it's not too far away from where I'm going to be working and I hope it's in a better neighborhood than the Redneck Riviera. I don't have much time to look at places this morning and I hope I won't be late for work.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Last 5 Hilarious Google Refferals...
1. Atlanta crackhouses
2. Masturbation as escapism
3. Rachel Ray naked
4. Medication for overactive dogs
5. Kate Hudson fat pregnancy photos eating doughnuts

Friday, April 20, 2007

420 Day... The 10 Minute Version

A gentle rain falls on the City of Angels for 420 Day. The warmth of the California sun is nowhere to be found after a couple of days of amazing weather. I was up at dawn and partaking in the 420 festivities when Showcase woke up to walk dogs. The specialty of the day was Woody Hash. Woody Harrelson's brother grew the stash himself.

I spent the last couple of days hanging out with Nicky and Showcase while prepping for two weeks in Las Vegas for two assignments. There have been a few interesting developments since I arrived at Long Beach on Tuesday and had a not-so-fun conference call with ESPN in Connecticut while Nicky drove me to LA on the 405. Alas, I managed to write a lot and have a nice lunch at a Mexican joint on sunset with our friend Ryan.

The best news I heard in a while was the addition of a poker tournament in Barcelona in October. The EPT usually kicks off their tour with a stop in Barcelona in September and now the WPT scheduled a stop on their tour in October. I might be in London in September for work so in theory I could spent two months in Europe covering three or four events with two of them being in Barcelona. That definitely beats working in Las Vegas for the entire summer.

On Wednesday Nicky took me shopping for a few items. I decided to travel as light as possible on this trip. But with a two week Vegas stint along with almost a week in Hollyweird, I did not pack enough items for a three week adventure. I decided to take only a few items and buy everything else on the road. That included toiletries, underwear, a nice blazer, a pair of pants, and a couple of shirts.

I bought two new pieces of luggage last week. My backpack that I've had since 1999 broke en route to Australia. When it was completely full, it was a chore to carry on my back. Trying to carry it as a normal suitcase was a pain in the ass. Regardless, I was bummed to see it go. That was the largest bag that I owned and I had gotten used to all the different compartments. I knew every inch of that bag. For many years while I followed Phish, I lived out of it. And over the past three years, that's been everywhere I've been.

I bought a bigger duffle bag to replace the expedition backpack. I figured I would not need anything that big to go camping with or to travel with. The new duffle bag will utilized for long stays like month long trips such as Australia or living/moving to Las Vegas for two months. It has wheels and that makes it so much easier to travel with.

I bought a medium-sized backpack that fits perfectly into plane overhead compartments. It's travel friendly and I brought that bag in on this trip. I packed light which meant I still had about 20-25% room remaining. It felt good to not have to check a bag and quickly get on and off planes. I'm hoping to use that for trips with durations of two weeks or less. Since I spend a good amount of time on the West Coast in LA or Las Vegas, I decided to build up a new set of essentials like a basic wardrobe and toiletries. That makes it easier to travel lighter. Now I have enough items on both coasts after our latest shopping spree where I got my ass grabbed by a homosexual sales clerk at The Grove. Nicky wrote all about it on her American Idol blog, where she's been spending a lot of time writing about her favorite TV show.

We're driving to Las Vegas very shortly and I'm hoping the rain doesn't slow us down. We get to celebrate 420 day in two cities.

And yes... Happy 20 Day to all you potheads out there. As we used to say in college, "Smoke 'em if you got 'em."

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Hold'em Radio Spot

Just a reminder that I will be on Hold'em Radio tonight. Amy Calistri and Lou Krieger have a weekly radio program called Keep Floppin' Aces and I'm fortunate that they booked me as a guest on their show tonight. Their show airs at 9pm ET (or 6pm for all you Left Coasters). I should start my segment at 9:15pm or so.

Stop by the Hold'em Radio website or to listen in...
PC users click here to listen
Mac users click here to listen
Let's see if I can squeeze in POB, The Hammer, and at least one mentioning of the Redneck Riviera during the segment.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Ode to John Paul I or Why I Won't Be Working at ESPN

Remember Pope John Paul I? His stint as pontiff lasted less than one month.

Remember my gig at That lasted about one week.

Why? I will not be working with ESPN at the WSOP this summer due to creative differences. We have since parted ways.

To read the rest of this post, head over to the Tao of Poker to finish reading Ode to John Paul I or Why I Won't Be Working at ESPN.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Mile High Karma

Perhaps I was due for a decent flight or maybe I had some good flight karma coming my way, but my flight from Amsterdam to New York was one of the best I had this year aside from the lucky 14 hours when I flew business class from Sydney to Los Angeles.

There were two kids sitting nearby but they were well behaved. I attribute that to the young woman sitting next to me. Her mere presence made the entire flight enjoyable.

Normally, I avoid conversation with the people I sit next to. I make the occasional small talk but I keep to myself. I'm sure I had the opportunity to sit next to some amazing and interesting people, but in an attempt to seek out the better ones, I inevitably get stuck next to chatterboxes who spew shit and bombard me with their problems in life. I'd rather not subject myself to their narcissistic psychodramas so I avoid any conversation whatsoever.

I deviated from the norm on my last flight. I first noticed her while I sat at the gate. She wore beige cowboy boots and faded jeans. When she bent over to get something out of her bag, her pink g-string caught my attention. She was tall with an athletic build and reminded me of actress Piper Peraboo from Coyote Ugly. I wondered if she was an American or European. She had high cheek bones and wore funky glasses, but the cowboy boots were telling me she was a yank.

I boarded my flight, stashed my gear, and sat down in my aisle seat. I listened to James Blunt on my iPod for about ninety seconds before I spotted her walking towards me. She stopped in the row in front of me and put a bag in the overhead. That's when she said hello and motioned to the window. Luck of the draw.

She sat down and introduced herself and that spurred on a conversation that lasted on and off for the next seven hours. I gave her some quick background about myself... I was a writer and just came from Monte Carlo. I had to frequently travel for work and have been on the road for about three years straight living out of my backpack combining both business travel and personal travel and trying to squeeze in a long distance relationship. I told her about all the screaming babies or the smelly people or the annoying people who would not leave me alone. I explained that I had horrible flight karma and she smiled while she listened.

"Sometimes you have to put the vide out. Say it with me... 'I'm going to have a wonderful flight to New York.'"

I laughed and humored her. After all, she was a blonde from the West Coast. Figures.

She explained that she firmly believed in the power of positive mental thinking. According to her, if you put enough good vibes out into the universe, eventually some of that positive energy will come your way. Instead of me worrying about all the bad things that could happen on any particular flight, I should have been focusing on the positive attributes. In short, she said that I created my own bad luck.

"What about the rest of the people on my flight? Where they all thinking negative thoughts?" I said as I found an obvious hole in her theory.

"Maybe," she said. "At least on this flight, you have my positive thoughts to keep us safe."

She currently lived in Alaska but grew up in Seattle. Her parents lived in Boulder and she visited France and Austria on a ski trip. I was shocked to learn that she didn't smoke pot although she sat in a few coffeeshops during her two days in Amsterdam.

She carried Barak Obama's book and was about two-thirds of the way through as I stared at her frilly pink book mark. Matched her g-string, I thought. She had graduated from Washington State in the late 1990s. When I mentioned Ryan Leaf's name, she flew into a fit of rage. She played volleyball for Wazzu and frequently encountered Leaf int he weight room.

"He's a total asshole," she mentioned. "It's no wonder he was a bust in the NFL. What a complete jerkoff."

She shared some horror stories about the egotistical quarterback and I got the skinny on the behind the scenes for Pac-10 volleyball.

As soon as our flight took off from Schipol Airport, she took off her cowboy boots and busted out an old-school discman. She also had about twenty CDs and favored angry women artists of the indie rock genre. She listened for a few minutes before the first movie came on. It was the Hilary Swank vehicle Freedom Writers. I skipped it and focused on reading the rest of The Iliad. She loved every second of it and every seven minutes or so she'd turn to me and say, "You're missing out!"

Since our flight was delayed by three hours, we were offered free beer and wine. I opted for the free Amstel and we talked for a little bit longer about our favorite parts of Amsterdam after the first movie ended. The second flick was Pursuit of Happyness starring Wil Smith. I had been wanting to see that and watched it all. Not a bad airplane flick.

The Alaskan girl taught me a few lessons about the powers of positive thinking and I gave her a few travel tips on packing light and a couple of pointers about Denver airport.

* * * * *

I have a personal driver now in NYC. For the second time in a row, I got the same guy to pick me up from a local car service that I use for rides to the airport. He looked just like Big Pussy from the Sopranos and drove me to the airport when I had to go to Monte Carlo. He gave me his card this time and told me to call him to personal book appointments. If he's not going to be gambling at Mohegan Sun or in Atlantic City, he'd be happy to take me anywhere, not just to the airport.

He remembered me. Actually I'm pretty sure he remembered my fat tip because he drove like a NASCAR driver to the airport. Even though it was the tail end of rush hour and he was going the other way, we managed to get to JFK in a record time for a mid-morning drive.

Along the way he told me about an old friend who killed himself when he ran up over 40K in debt to a bunch of local bookies. We also spoke about what it took to be a professional gambler and a successful businessman. They both had similar traits.

When his phone rang he quickly answered, "Where's my fuckin' money!"

It was Tuesday and most bookies collected on Tuesdays (and paid out on Thursdays). That was the drill. He had mentioned to me last time that he booked bets on occasion.

"The fuckin' NBA playoffs are starting up. It's time for the fuckin' idiots who lost during fuckin' March Madness try and chase their fuckin' loses."

"You got any tips for me?" I asked. "I'm about to got to Vegas."

"Everyone and their fuckin' mother is betting on the fuckin' Raptors. You know what that fuckin' means kid? Don't ya? Bet the fuckin' Pistons."

Big Pussy said bet the Pistons. I'll be keeping an eye on his pick.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Ten Day Week

I've spent ten straight days in NYC. That's the third longest stint I've had in 2007 where I've logged consecutive days in one place. The other two were LA at the end of February (15 days) and Melbourne at the beginning of the year (16 days). March was a crazy month. I started out in Hollyweird for work, flew to NY for less than two days, spent a week in Florida for Langerado, a week in NYC, followed by another week in Las Vegas for March Madness with Senor, then an intense week in Monte Carlo for work and a few days in Amsterdam before a much welcomed ten day reprieve in NYC.

During my second day back in the city, Shecky had called and asked what I was doing.

"I'm sitting on my brother's couch, yanking tubes, and watching the Yankees game. I'm about to order in a pizza," I said.

"That's very American of you," he joked.

"It's one of my favorite past times."

I'm caught in the middle of strange routines where I have a few moments of anxiety every morning because I forget what city I'm in. I'm constantly fighting for elbow space on cross country flights. I'm checking in and out of over-priced hotels at odd hours and fielding the most asked question that I seem to get these days from friends, "Where are you and where are you off to next?"

Usually I'm looking forward to getting to the next destination or I'm bummed that I have to leave a particular place. This past week I've been content with not going anywhere. The only traveling I've been doing is swiping my Metrocard to hop on the subway. And of course in less than 24 hours, that's all over for a while as I fly out to Hollyweird for a couple of days then drive to Las Vegas for two weeks and two assignments. I eventually get back to NYC in early May and will have anywhere from two to three weeks of non-migration. I'm anticipating that being the longest stretch of time this year that I don't go anywhere before I have to move to Las Vegas for two months to cover my third World Series of Poker.

I'm looking forward to that time next month to explore NYC in the spring. That was supposed to be the last ten days, but there was a bitter chill followed up by a Nor'easter that has dumped buckets and buckets of rain and wind onto the city. It may or may not threaten my JetBlue flight tomorrow. I was caught up in their Valentine's Day Debacle, which ruined my V-Day plans with Nicky and it took me close to 60 hours to finally get the fuck out of freezing NYC and to where I wanted to go... the warmth of the California sun. I was one of the lucky ones who actually got out of town the Friday after the blizzard struck and almsot destroyed that entire airline. I had never been happier to be in the Valley. That's where the only flight to the Left Coast that I could find landed. At Bob Hope Airport in Burbank of all places.

The best part about being home (aside from watching A-Rod shoot his load for the .500 Yankees) and watching the Yankees or Rangers playoff games with my brother, is getting to watch the first two episodes of The Sopranos and Entourage. I've been critical of The Sopranos over the last season which has been spread over three years. There are individual scenes and bits of dialogue in every episode that remind me why that was an amazing show. But overall, they missed the target. The shows are edible and have delicious moments, but where's the outstanding feast I'm used to dining on? And as Derek mentioned, those cancer scenes last night were uber-depressing.

I wanted more scenes with the mobsters making horror flicks. I think that should be an amazing spin off. Here's my pitch... a group of New Jersey thugs move to Hollyweird and start their own production company, where they launder money from back East and wash it through various studios. It's also a fish out of water tale where the brash tactics of the mob meets the sleazy underworld of Hollyweird. Sort of a mixture of Entourage meets The Sopranos meets Get Shorty.

Benjo, a fellow journalist that I met in Monte Carlo happens to be French and a huge Sopranos fan. He told me that he helps transcribe the episodes into French subtitles. That helped him to learn better English as he picked up on some slick slang. He told me about his admiration for the camerawork and how certain scenes are framed. I must give Benjo props for pointing that out. And I must give them credit on the aesthetics of the show. It's as beautiful as ever... I mean how can you really photograph the burbs of New Jersey without having it come out like slop? The DP and camera crew gets credit there.

Overall, the first two episodes were average. Since it's the last run, I had expected it to be packed with non-stop action. I think that was everyone's expectations. Perhaps I've been spoiled with a show like Heroes which delivers a punch every few minutes. In fact, I can't wait for the final episodes of Heroes to wind down Season 1. They saved the cheerleader. Now it's time to save the world.

I have to lower my standards for the remaining Episodes of The Sopranos in order to enjoy the last bit. I don't have to do that with Entourage. The first two episodes met my expectations as Johnny Drama steals the show every week with some of the best lines. I think you could spin off an entire series and call it Johnny Drama where it's just him and Turtle getting into hijinks.

Maybe I've been spending too much time in LA, but I appreciate some of the inside jokes a little better and savor the thickly layered dialogue. It helps when I watch the show with Nicky, who's no stranger that the entertainment industry and points out the more obscure references and random homages to old Hollywood that are peppered throughout the episodes.

I'm also starting to recognize specific streets that they've been filming on. When I think about Hollyweird, I mainly think about navigating traffic while driving around a lot in Nicky's shitty Saturn (I should say... "used to" drive around). I spent a lot of time looking out windows and get an insulated feeling about the City of Angels, unlike Amsterdam or New York City where it's a pedestrian society and I'm forced to physically put my feet on the ground and explore the city under more genuine circumstances.

* * * * *

I've been writing much more since my return to NYC. I cranked out Truckin', wrote a couple of assignments, and did my best to keep up the blogs. Ever since I was hired by ESPN, I've found myself reading less blogs and online stuff and more books and literature. I spent about three or so hours in various bookstores last week such as Posman Books in Grand Central Station or at Barnes & Nobles in the Flat Iron district. I always gravitate towards the religion and philosophy books, but I found myself thumbing through books from my favorite authors. I'd pick out a middle page and start reading for about ten or fifteen minutes before moving on to a different author. It's sort of like a "mix tape" of my favorite books and writers... passages here and there.

It's important that I do everything in my power to be at the top of my writing game this summer. There is some pressure for me to be cranking out my best possible writing for any ESPN assignment. But I don't want to exclude any other outlets and crank out average and mediocre content for my other assignments and sites. I've been slowly scaling down my workload and trying to find a healthy place where I can give more time to each blog, column, or assignment and still have enough time to enjoy my social life and manage a couple of other projects and business ventures. I still have a long way to go.

Time management is my biggest headache. And I never seem to have enough time. Like NYC time for example. There are dozens of friends that I haven't seen in a while and want to. But I simply don't have the time when I want to catch up on The Yankees or finish a few assignments or have to catch up on family obligations.

I was fortunate to have a very nice celebration dinner at The Palm with my brother, The Rooster, and F Train. We've been having random meet-ups every few months. And the last time we gathered, it was just before Christmas and we headed out to Big Nick's for burgers and then barhopped with The Rooster as our trail guide. By the end of the night, we stumbled into Ethan Hawke's Christmas party and was eventually thrown out. I pissed on their side door and scared off Ethan while The Rooster wanted to fight the asshole owner of the Upper West Side joint that catered to NYC hipsters and Hollyweird douchebegas.

That was last December. We were in the middle of April and I was under the weather. We managed to have an amazing meal. We all ordered the filet mignon as The Rooster embarrassed me and told our waiter that I was ESPN's latest writer. He happened to watch "the poker" on ESPN all the time and asked about Phil Hellmuth.

After dinner we wandered down the street to Bamboo 52. That's a gay sushi joint in case you were wondering as Hell's Kitchen has slowly been morphing into the next Chelsea. When the West Village got too expensive, the gay community slowly expanded into moderately priced Chelsea in the early 1990s. And after that got too expensive, they continued the northern migration into regentrified Hell's Kitchen. When I was a kid, my father told me to avoid parts of the West 40s and 50s because that's where all the hookers, druggies, and the Westies (the infamous Irish mafia) operated. Now the Chelsea Army has invaded.

So yeah, The Rooster took us to a gay sushi joint that had tables in the back. He said he wanted to go because of their happy hour. Of course, happy hour was over and we went anyway. The Rooster was still the Rooster. He managed to get a Mento and a phone number from one 30-something women wearing a gaudy flowery dress that would have landed her on Nicky's Fashion Dont's list.

The night was tame compared to previous adventures like my birthday or Christmas. I was sick and we were all a little tired. We ended the night early which was fine by me. The last thing I needed was to have a two-day hangover.

* * * * *

I had a couple of New York moments in the past few days that made me miss the city. I was pretty pissed off when the first one happened. It was raining pretty hard. It was cold. The subway was approaching and I sprinted towards the station. That instance, it was an elevated track and I had to run up a good 1.5 stories of stairs past an old lady with a cane that I almost clipped. I managed to slip my hand in my wallet and remove my Metro card in one swift moment as I approached the turnstile. As soon as I swiped my card the subway doors opened. Of course the turnstile was still locked as it displayed the "Insufficient Funds" message.

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

That was a waste of a subway sprint. Dejected, I shuffled off to the Metro Card machine to reload as the subay closed its doors and pulled out of the station.

Another moment happened on the subway when I was riding downtown with Derek. An ethnic mother and her two sons got on the subway with McDonalds bags. The kids were young and... fat. Chubby would be kind, but these kids were not fit at all.

"They are built like rottweilers," mentioned Derek. "And of course, they super-sized it."

The kids stuffed their faces as the subway raced downtown. At one of the stops, I heard a crashing sounds followed by a spilling sound. One of the kids walked over to the open door and threw his supersized drink. It hit the tiled wall of the subway station before it splattered on the platform. The fat kid would not stop laughing as the doors closed.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Some Friends

Good friend Jon Schanzer has a new job in DC and he has been cranking out several excellent articles. Check out his latest two. One is a book review of Global Financial Warriors:
Freezing Terror
Iran's Influence Threatens Sunnis

My buddy BTroetch is in Antartica on a scientific expedition. He's been keeping us in the loop by posting videos to You Tube. His adventures are wild. He even takes a Polar Plunge and jumps into the Antartic Ocean. The dude is crazy! And his videos are great which include some amazing snapshots.

Here's his latest video:

Click here to watch Alan's latest video.

And lastly, Brandon Schaefer has been in Europe the past few weeks. We hung out for a bit in Monte Carlo. Stop by his blog to see some random pics of his adventures in Belgium.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

60 Hours in Amsterdam: Part II

5:30am and the phone rang for a minute straight. The darkness of Amsterdam kept the room dim as I struggled to find my cell. Wrong ringing phone. Ten seconds of silence passed and the room phone rang again until I picked up. A guy in a funny accent said, "Good morning, this is your wake up call."

Fuck me. I forgot to cancel the friggin' wake up call. When I requested it, I expected to catch a 6am train to the airport. But since I decided to stay an extra day in Amsterdam, I did not need to be woken up so early. I was suffering from short-term memory loss and I blame the hash. I had passed out only 30 or 40 minutes before and was in the middle of a weird dream where Nicky and I were in a hotel in downtown Manhattan on the morning of 9.11. Thank God that the shrill ringing of the phone woke me up.

I slept for three more hours before I flipped on the TV and watched a local Dutch station for a few minutes from the warmth of my bed. I fired up the laptop to check my email and the weather. I had a deadline due in about 36 hours and made a note to send off my column as soon as possible. I also made a second note to finish my column as soon as possible. I spent less than five minutes online in total before I decided to skip a shower.

I had bought two big bottles of water and filled up a smaller bottle to carry with me in order to cut down on European water expenses. Bottles go for 2 Euros in some places which is like $3 US. And those are bottles I'd buy for a $1 in NYC bodegas. I consume tons of water especially when I'm smoking tough and walking around a lot. With a water bottle, my iPod, The Iliad, my camera, and my stash carefully stowed away, I rushed out of the Victoria Hotel past a girl's youth soccer team that was checking out. I walked briskly to the bakery along the Damrak as a handful of tourists were sitting in cafes and eating English Breakfast consisting of beans and toast and sausages that even Daddy would have a tough time getting down.

I was greeted by the strong aroma of my impending breakfast from almost two hundred meters from the bakery. There was no line and I walked up to one of the windows. I ignored the old Dutch lady at the counter for about fifteen seconds as I admired all the different varieties of breads, pastries, and other baked goods. I eventually bought a plain croissant and a chocolate one. 2.50 Euros for breakfast was a steal.

I'm fortunate that traveling in the last year or so (especially Australia) was not a problem because of a comfortable budget that I had set for every excursion. I never felt like I couldn't do anything that presented itself. I traveled lighter knowing that if I really needed a specific item, that I could buy it wherever I went. And even if I spilled over my initial budget, I still had savings to dig into. The fear of being in a strange land with no money and no resources has since evaporated. In that aspect, traveling has been easy especially since I do not have to worry about limiting myself to less expensive places to eat, drink, and stay. And I've been very good about staying under budget. I actually spent less money in San Francisco for NYE and in Oz than I anticipated and that surplus went to fund my March Madness Vegas trip.

I made myself a challenge: Don't spend more than 50 Euros on my last day in Europe. I knew that was a nearly impossible task because of my hefty ingestion of herbal and fungi products. But I wanted to try because the attempt could be the source of great piece for a travels site or magazine one day.

So my first tip on saving money was to cut back on water expenses. Second was to spend as little money possible buying nugs in coffeeshops. That all added up and I'd end up flushing most of the local product anyway. I had plenty left over from the night before and took that with me. I decided to pop the rest of the happy Thai mushroom at even intervals so I would have to smoke less overall. I also decided that I would not drink as much beer in cafes and pubs. Booze is pricey. I was gonna brown bag it, if possible.

The 2.50 breakfast was almost for free because I used all the smaller coins that accumulated in my pocket during my travels in Monte Carlo and Holland. I had a stack of 10 cent and 20 cent coins and that covered the croissants. I old lady frowned at me as I handed her a fistload of change. I didn't care.

I discovered glass bowls with little chocolate eggs that could be found all over Amsterdam. It was the Thursday before Easter and every shop or cafe or any establishment had a glass bowl filled with chocolate wrapped in colorful foil that sat right next to the cash register. I started snagging a few here and there and the next thing I knew, the right pocket in my jacket was filled with chocolate. Throughout the day, I would nibble on the chocolate after I popped a mushroom, since they gave off a horrendous taste and I often wanted to puke - a natural reaction since I was technically ingesting poison.

I walked to Pablow Picasso coffeeshop, which opened at 8am. Before noon, it's a local tweaker hang out. The speed freaks had been up all night and knew that Picasso is one of the few places that are opened early. They also served free breakfast and abused the generosity of the weird Buddhist owner who was constantly clad in a scarf.

Picasso was multi-leveled and I could smoke upstairs without buying anything. I ordered a hot chocolate and climbed the steep staircase. In Amsterdam, most stairs were more like glorified ladders. I carefully scaled to the top and sat down at a table with a Dali-esque backgammon board painted onto the top. Two of the tweakers chain-smoked and played darts next to me. I sat and read The Iliad while I ate both my croissants and nursed the hot chocolate.

After a couple of hours of sitting in Picasso, I walked through Jordaan snapping photos while I listened to the Velvet Underground and Thelonius Monk as I made my way to the Grey Area. Not yet noon, the Grey Area was closed. I had some time to kill and walked around the corner where I found a bench near the canal. I sat and read for almost an hour until an old man with an ugly dog stopped and sat down. He told me the time and I quickly gathered my things and beelined for the Grey Area.

There were two scruffy hippies with pony tails getting leaving the Grey Area when I walked inside. The rest of the place was empty aside from one of the owners. We made small talk and bullshitted about the chilly weather. I bought a gram of the Grey Haze for 11.50. I had 37 left to stay under budget.

The Grey Area is the tiny coffeeshop with three tables and mirrored walls with stickers on them. They also have glass bongs to use for free. I picked one and ripped a few bingers before the place started to fill up with clients, mostly American hashheads looking for some decent deals.

I explored more of the Jordaan neighborhood, particularly streets I had not wandered down. I stopped by the Houseboat Museum and didn't go in. A Swedish teen tour milled around outside the museum. I continued on to the Leidseplein. My favorite waitress, who looked like Rachel Ray, was absent from Cafe Kroon. I ordered a fizzy water from a different and less perky waitress, giving her 2 Euros which included a 30 cent tip. 35 Euros left. I nibbled on chocolate eggs and read more of The Iliad.

I walked across the Leidseplein into the Grasshopper coffeeshop. Places like that are always crowded. I used their toilet and smoked in their back room that was a former jail cell. I stopped at a Travelex exchange booth down the street and cashed the last 500 Euros bill that I had in my possession. I converted that to US dollars and only got $630. Bastards. I had about a hundred or so Euros in my pocket and there was no way I'd spend that much on my last day. I had less than 18 hours before my flight departed Schipol and I was being vigilant about staying under budget.

The Dampkring was crowded when I first arrived. The line to buy goodies was ten deep thanks to the boost in popularity after being used as the backdrop in a scene from Ocean's Twelve. I headed to the bar and picked up a fizzy water. 33 Euros remaining. I picked a seat near the front window. A French couple in their 60s were puffing down on a massive joint. I giggled to myself as I sipped on my fizzy water, unwrapped a chocolate egg, munched on a mushroom, chased it with the egg, sipped the fizzy water, then took a huge drag off their joint after they passed it to me. Damn Europeans and tobacco in the spliffs. What the fuck?

We talked for about an hour. I found out than Henri was obsessed with Charlie Parker and Chet Baker. Henri was a lanky man with big hands who spoke softly. He loved all forms of jazz music and he formed a band in the 1970s. They played small clubs and cafes on the Riviera. That's where he met his wife, Olivie, a tiny woman with "benevolent eyes," as he described them. I guess they were French versions of beatnik/bohemian/hippies.

Henri and Olivie laughed when I told them about the 20 Euro cheeseburgers in Monte Carlo and kept asking me specific questions about my various experimentations with psychedelics. They were hip on mind expansion and exploring the inner workings of the self to make better art. They asked to read my writing samples. They gave me their email address (which they admitted they checked about once every three weeks).

Henri offered to take me to Prins Hendrik Hotel (across from Centraal Station) where Chet Baker may or may not have committed suicide. I heard stories that he was wasted on too much blow and smack and simply fell out the window, while other rumors suggest he was whacked.

I wished that I had more time to smoke and chat with them, but it was 4:10 and I wanted to be at the 420 Cafe by 4:20. I excused myself and rushed out. I arrived at the 4:20 cafe at exactly 4:19, sweating profusely as the chilly weather eased up a tad. I threw my stuff on a stool against the wall and ordered a green tea from the hot barmaid. The budget dwindled down to 31.50 Euros. I smoked for a bit and read more of The Iliad.

"I never should have left the Dampkring," I kept thinking. That French couple was hilarious. It's not too frequent that you meet other travelers that you could sit and bullshit for hours. They would have been cool to hang out with all night. Alas, I was in Amsterdam raging solo as Otis would say. I had no time for old French hippies who named their pets after horn players. I had escaped a few days away from the grind and I still had some serious thinking to do and also had to organize my thoughts and set up a game plan for the next few months.

One thing that was a high priority on my list was to find more time each day to write. I must have wrestled with that issue a dozen times since I departed Nice. Write more. That's always a struggle. Time is the one thing that I could not buy nor could I afford to waste.

My stomach growled like a bear fucking a monkey indicating that I was starving. I rushed out of the 420 Cafe and bought a can of Heineken for 2 Euros along with a ham and kaas sandwich on a baguette for another 5. With 24.50 left as I sat in Dam Square. I watched all the tourists take photos with the street performers. I slowly drank my beer and ate my dinner.

I walked down a street that I normally avoided and came across a coffeeshop called Barraka. Two very good looking girls sat in the front window and the eye candy suckered me inside. The place was small and crowded with long tables. A small bar was nestled in the back and a separate seating area with two couches was wedged underneath the staircase. The place featured overpriced weed and hash. Most of their top end stuff was super expensive and you had to buy at least 2 grams of anything decent. I bought the cheapest thing on the menu... Afghani hash for 7.5 Euros. It was kept in a baggie underneath a coffee cup. So ghetto.

I had 17 Euros remaining. I ate the last mushroom and chocolate as I sat underneath the stairs on a plush green couch and rolled a joint sprinkled with hashish. I smoked about two-thirds and split. The music sucked and the hot chicks hit the road.

Next up was Kandinsky's bar and cafe. I wanted to go to their coffeeshop but it was packed. I sat at the bar and drank a glass of La Chouffe. That Belgium beer cost me 2.50 Euros. I had only 14.50 left but after I counted up all the change in my pocket, it was more like 16.

I stopped back at the Grey Area and bought a gram of the Grey Mist. It was only 8.50 Euros which meant that I had about 7.50 remaining. I had enough for three drinks or four which I'd end up spending at Rokerij, Pink Floyd, and at Barney's.

When I passed the Irish Pub on Haarlemmerstraat, I noticed the broken glass on the front door. It seemed about head high and I wondered which drunk fucker got his noggin slammed into the door. When I saw the shattered glass my initial impression was, "I gotta have a drink here."

I went inside the darkened pub. A few Brits were huddled around the TV at the end of the bar as a football match played. The bartender nodded to me in that universal motion that meant, "Whaddya have?"

I asked for a glass of Amstel and he poured me a pint. That was the last of my money. I went over budget a couple of Euros because I wanted some frites with mayo and ketchup after I stumbled out of the pub. That 2.35 purchase put me over. When I decided to crash around Midnight, I had spent under 55 Euros. That was closer than I thought and I proved to myself that I could get by on a budget. If I didn't go to Barraka, I would have made it under 50.

I couldn't sleep when I got back to the hotel. I packed everything and watched Babel on PPV. I'm a big fan of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's flicks especially Amores Perros, which is one of my favorite films of all time. I eventually passed out around 3:30. I had a wake up call ready to go at 5:30am. And it seemed like I was asleep for ninety seconds when the phone rang.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Amsterdam Pic Dump: Part II

I finally finished my Amsterdam II photo gallery over at Flickr which features 90 pics that I took last week during my 60 hour getaway. You can also check out the Amsterdam II slide show, if you like those sorts of things.

Here are some pics from Amsterdam:


The Land of Chocolate

SoCo in the Dam

For the Joker

Bulbs for sale!

There are more photos over at Amsterdam II photo gallery. Enjoy.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

My 5 Favorite Kurt Vonnegut Books:
1. Sirens of Titan
2. Breakfast of Champions
3. Cat's Cradle
4. Mother Night
5. Slaughterhouse-Five

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


I have good news. I'm the newest feature writer for Yes, it's true. Andrew Feldman hired me to cover the 2007 WSOP for I have huge shoes to fill... following in the footsteps of legendary sportswriter Steve Rosenbloom who provided the content for ESPN last summer.

I guess this makes it an official announcement. I'll be covering the WSOP for and writing feature articles for their poker section. I'll be focusing on writing features and not blogging... which is something I really wanted to do.

The official media guidelines have not come out yet, so I have to wait and see which other outlets that I will be working with. Rest assured that I will be posting on the Tao of Poker and contributing to as well, I just don't know in what manner or frequency yet.

The ESPN gig is a major milestone. Aside from getting a book published, selling a screenplay, and writing for Rolling Stone... landing the ESPN gig is one the four major goals I wanted to accomplish as a writer. ESPN has published some of my favorite writers including Hunter Thompson, Chuck Klosterman, and Steve Rosenbloom. I'm still a little dazed and confused over the good news.

This has to be of the most humbling and exciting moments that I've ever experienced. I was dreading the WSOP and now I can't wait for it to get here.

I never could have made it this far as a poker writer without the support and friendship of my brother and so many of you... friends, readers, and bloggers alike. Special thanks goes out to Flipchip and the Poker Prof for being the first organization to hire me to cover the WSOP back in 2005. Without their initial support, I never would have been in a position to be hired by other outlets and get recognized by ESPN.

And an extended thanks goes out to people who had faith in me and hired me to write for them over the last couple of years. That list includes Flipchip and Poker Prof at, Wilko and Mickey, Stan Sludikoff at Poker Player Newspaper, Otis and everyone at PokerStars, Trey at FoxSports, Lou Krieger, John Caldwell at Poker News, Johnny Quads at Poker Pro, and last but not least.... Feldman at ESPN.

My first featured article will be published in a couple of weeks. Now I just have to come up with something to write about.

I'm still a little buzzed from the news. E. S. P. N. No fuckin' way.

Photo Credit: Thanks to Otis for the original photo and to Mookie for the photoshopped version!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

60 Hours in Amsterdam: Part I

I was worried that the Air France ticket agent in Nice was going to send my bags to Paris. He kept asking me if I was going to Paris and I responded with "Amsterdam" everytime he asked.

I booked a KLM (Dutch Royal Airlines) flight from Nice to Amsterdam but that particular segment was in conjunction with Air France. So although I was billed by KLM, I was virtually flying on Air France.

The security line at Aeroport Cote d'Azur featured several people who blatantly ignored the rules. They'd have to walk through the metal detector three or four times before they were cleared. One woman was snooty and giving off the vibe, "I'm rich. I'm old. I'm French and I don't have to put up with your stinking peasant asses." She argued with the French security guards for five minutes while they tried to get her to take off all her jewelry.

I finally made it through security and found Stephen from Gutshot, a member of the British poker media, sitting at a cafe near my gate. He was heading back home to London. We originally met at the WSOP in Las Vegas last summer and I spent a lot of time talking about similar interests in media row at Monte Carlo. Turns out he might be one of the biggest baseball fans in the United Kingdom. We bullshitted for a few minutes before he boarded his flight.

Neither Air France nor KLM flew me to Amsterdam. Both were too busy or delayed for that flight and ended up handing over operations to Martin Air. I had no idea if that was a Dutch or French airline. All I can tell you was that their seats were cramped. At least I had the entire row (and last three rows for that matter) to myself.

I knew 50% of the passengers on my flight. It was about 40 people in all and most of them were Dutch or Swedish poker pros or media reps heading on home. There were a few well named European pros on my flight, a famous Swedish pop singer who has been playing a ton of poker (and may or may not be dating a Swedish pro), and random bloggers and writers from Holland and Sweden. I had about an hour or so of sleep and was burnt out on poker, so I avoided the lot of them as the congregated at the gate for another delayed flight. I waved hello and made some small talk but all I wanted to do was to avoid all things poker and arrive into Amsterdam as quickly as possible.

I barely touched my meal... apple slices, yogurt, and a cheese sandwich on a whole wheat bun. There was packaged OJ and a few cookies which were the highlight. All I did was listen to John Coltrane and James Brown on my iPod and look out the window as we flew over the French Alps and Switzerland. I fell asleep for a few minutes and when I woke up, we were about fifteen minutes outside of Amsterdam.

The European Union thing was nice because I avoided any passport control areas and walked off my flight down to baggage claim. My bag magically appeared as my paranoia over the Air France was all self-fabricated. I quickly left that area and wandered in the train station. I bought my fare and it was right around 5pm on Tuesday. I was caught in rush hour on my train to Centraal Station. By the time the train arrived in downtown Amsterdam, I'd had exactly 36 hours of R&R before I had to leave for the airport at 6am on Thursday morning.

I originally booked the Amsterdam side trip with Tim aka the Poker Shrink. He threw out his back in Las Vegas and was unable to make the gig in Monte Carlo which also meant his side trip was canceled as well. I had two nights booked in the Victoria Hotel, one of Amsterdam's swankiest hotels and the closest to Central Station. That's where Nicky and I stayed last November.

It took about five minutes to check into my room and I almost got the same room as last time. Nicky and I were in 566 and I was given 565. I dropped off my bags, tossed some cash and my passport in the safe, and added a jacket to the fleece I was wearing since it was chilly in Amsterdam. I took a book to read and my camera. No cellphones. No watches. That was it.

I stopped off at one of those tourist t-shirt shops to stock up on supplies. The glass pipes were expensive (around 20 Euros). I found a wooden grinder for 7 Euros and bought a lighter for 1 Euro. I decided to grind up my own weed and roll joints. Papers and filters were free in coffeeshops.

I walked into my first coffeeshop at around 5:45. It was the 420 Cafe and I first discovered it with Briana in September of 2005. I was on my way to Barcelona for a writing assignment and stopped off in Amsterdam for two days. Briana took the train up from Paris and arrived one night early. She wandered around the Damark and spotted the 420 Cafe down one of the alleys. She assumed by the name that it would be a place to score some weed and hash. She was right.

Considering it's location to Centraal Station, the 420 Cafe has reasonable prices. What I liked about it the most was that they sold NYC Diesel and it wasn't even the most expensive thing on the menu. Their drinks were low priced and they used to serve beer. Amsterdam enacted a new law where establishments that sold marijuana or hash could no longer serve liquor and beer. They went back to an old rule where only bars and restaurants served booze and where coffeeshops could only sell pot and hash and only serve non-alchololic drinks.

The 420 Cafe featured really hot Dutch bar maids and glasses of Amstel for 1.80 Euros. I had been craving both since my last trip 4.5 months ago. When I walked into the cafe, they had upside down glasses over the taps as one British tourist quizzed the blonde bartender why he couldn't get a pint of beer with his hash joint. She explained to him the new laws as he ordered a bottle of Coca-cola instead.

I wandered into the back and one of the the owners (who looked like Geroge Carlin and I'm pretty sure is an American or Cannuck) manned the weed counter. I didn't even look at the menu and asked for a gram of NYC Diesel. I sat down at the bar as I inspected my purchase and ordered mineral water. They call it fizzy water in Monte Carlo and England. They called it "water with gas" in Amsterdam.

"Water?" asked the barmaid. "Do you want that with gas?"

It's a weird question and I shrugged my shoulders. Gas it is. I really wanted a glass of Amstel to wash down the weed. I rolled a couple of joints and sipped my gassy water. An Irish guy sitting a the table nearby asked to borrow the wooden grinder. When he returned it he asked to take a look at my book. I had about a hundred pages left of The Tender Bar a memoir by J.R. Moehringer. Nicky had bought it on her way to Amsterdam last November. Fitting that I should finish it while I was there a few months later.

I walked down towards Dam Square and noticed that I had not really eaten all day. I grabbed frites with mayonaise from one of the stands and ate a half of ham and kaas sandwich on a baguette. Total price for dinner was around 5 Euros. The sun was still out at 7:30pm. I wandered over to Grey Area on Oude Leliestraat (Quickie Dutch lesson: Oude Leliestraat = Old Lelie Street) to pick up some of my favorite strain of weed but the smaller coffeeshop was closed. Fuck.

I whirled around and walked back to Dam Square. I popped into an internet cafe and sent an email to my brother and Nicky. I told them that I arrived safely in Amsterdam and would be avoiding the internet until I got back. I wandered into one of the overpriced cafes and pubs off of Dam Square. I didn't care. I was thirsty for some liquor. I sat down at the bar in the Euro Pub. I drank a pint of Bavaria beer for 5 Euros. The guy sitting next to me looked like and sounded like Hank Hill from King of the Hill. He was from Texas and in town for a day before he headed to one of those runaway Soviet republics. He was sent in to close a big oil deal.

I bought him a round and he bought me two in return. I had four beers in total as we talked about the pros and cons of business travel. He's been on the road for almost twenty years and he said it made him have a stronger love for Texas, especially his home. We also talked baseball for a bit. Afterwards my last beer, I said good-bye and told him to walk around the corner and get a blow job from a Romanian hooker.

I headed over to Pink Floyd coffeeshop and did not find any Buddha's Sister. I settled on the Mako Haze. It was better than average and I smoked one joint before I went around the corner to take a piss. All those beers caught up with me and I felt a good ratio of being stoned:drunk.

Nicky told me that I had to visit Barney's. It was a block or two down the street from Pink Floyd and we never managed to wander over to that street. Barney's cafe is on the corner and next to that was the coffeeshop. Both served amazing breakfast according to word on the street and several guidebooks.

Barney's was popular because it was one of the only places in town that sold the strain that won the infamous Cannabis Cup two years running. In 2005, a strain called Willie Nelson won while last year it was G13. I bought a gram of Willie Nelson for 11 Euros and found the only empty seat in the place against the wall next to the vaporizer. Barney's was packed tight with people getting lit up. I rolled a joint, smoked 2/3 of it, then hit the street. I walked around for about a half hour through the Jordaan district while I finished off the joint.

I found myself in the Rokerij. They have four shops in all and I had never been to the one of Singel Street. It was very dark and decorated in a Picasso meets Africa theme. Since it's a chain, the prices tend to be a little more expensive. I ordered a water with gas and bought a gram of Laughing Buddha. By that point, the biggest drawback of rolling joints was that you couldn't get the full taste of the strains, like you could in a pipe or a bong. I made a note to find a cheap pipe the next day.

It was around 11:15pm when I noticed the clock near the bathroom. I expected it to be about 1 or 2am. I had no way of telling time and kept wandering around. I was exhausted and headed back to my room. I decided to rest up for a bit then either start writing or go back out. I figured I'd get an hour nap. That didn't happen.

* * * * *

The first time I woke up was at 7am. I had slept for seven straight hours and that had not happened since I got back from Australia and slept off a month of hangovers at Nicky's. I had been logging insane hours in Monte Carlo and barely slept. My body told me something... that I was in desperate need of rest. I was also bummed out because I had less than a day in Amsterdam. I decided to price return flights to New York on Friday instead of Thursday. I figured they would be outrageously expensive but had to check anyway.

The first time I called Delta, they told me the fare differential would be about 150 Euros plus another 150 Euros as a change fee. I told them I'd think about it and hung up. I took a dump, jumped in the shower, smoked a couple of hits and then called back. I decided to stay an extra day. That's when I found out the price changed... in my favor. Not only was it less, it cost me about 130 Euros in all to change it. Talk about a nice swing in my favor.

I had to find a hotel room for another night and checked online. I found something around the corner for 90 Euros and the couple of hostels I looked at were booked. I went downstairs to get a rate and that's when they told me I had a credit. Apparently I booked the room for three nights and canceled one night online when the EPT Championships were extended a day and I had to stay in Monte Carlo through Tuesday instead of Monday. But, the Victoria did not get notification of the cancellation so they already billed my credit card for three nights instead of two. Since I had paid for three nights already, I didn't have to go through any trouble of getting the extra night.

It would only cost me 130 Euros to stay an extra 24 hours. Best deal I got all trip.

I wrote for a bit and by then it was closer to 9am. I grabbed my iPod and walked down to the bakery near Dam Square for breakfast. I ate a plain croissant and pocketed a chocolate one. I wandered over to Grey Area which was still closed. I later found out it opens up at noon.

I discovered a cheap souvenir shop that sold me a glass pipe for 8 Euros. I walked up to Barney's which was open early. I bought one gram of the G-13, the latest prize winning pot, from a guy who looked like Eddie Vedder. The G-13 tasted pretty damn good. Not even 10am and I was baked out of my tits. I ordered an orange juice from the girl at the counter who looked like a hipper version of Winona Ryder (circa Reality Bites) asked me about the book I carried. I let her thumb through The Tender Bar and she joked that she should write one about working in coffeeshops.

I walked through Jordaan district again. Instead of night, it was in the day and I cranked up my iPod and listened to a couple of Phish bootlegs. That neighborhood features plenty of smaller cafes and art galleries. It was not very crowded, just a couple of locals and very few tourists. I'd pick a random street and walk along the canal, checking out the houses and stopping every few moments to sit on stoops to munch on the croissant and think.

"This would be a great place to live someday," was the thought that kept running through my mind.

I found myself near the Leidseplein after my detour through Jordaan. I sat down at one of the cafes and drank a beer while I read my book. My waitress was the Dutch version of Rachel Ray and I expected her to whip something up for me in the back. She didn't and left me alone.

I wanted to smoke and walked into the Rokerij a few blocks away on Leidestraat. I picked up a gram of NL50x Haze and drank a hot chocolate as they played a couple of Elliot Smith songs. A table of French guys with one hot American chick next to me had troubles rolling a hash joint. They asked for my help and I did my best. They were smoking tobacco and hashish and I offered them a toot of weed and hash in my bowl. They offered me a hit from the joint I rolled. I normally avoid tobacco, but I did not want to be rude so I took a couple of hits.

The hash made me hungry. I was starving and ate a bowl of pasta Bolognese at one of the Italian joints next to the Rokerij. It cost me 8.50 Euros and I left 10 in all. I listened to a Grateful Dead bootleg from Winterland in 1977 as I walked through the flower district and over to the Red Light District. Groups of Russian teens, old Japanese women, and middle-aged German tourists were wandering through the hooker zone gawking at the day workers. The Red Light District has become more like a freak show than anything else.

I found the Jolly Joker coffeeshop and took a pic for the Joker. I wandered inside and decided to just buy a drink to cut down on weed expenses. I had enough of a stash by that point and didn't need any more product. I drank a coffee up in the loft area and smoked tough while I finished the book.

I walked back to my hotel to drop off my book, my iPod, and a large bottle of water that I bought. I also dropped off excess herbage and just carried a little. I added a second jacket because it was getting chilly and slipped a pad and pen into my pocket.

I wandered back over to the 420 Cafe. Another hot Dutch barmaid said hello as soon as I entered. I ordered water with gas and sat in the front window. I smoked while a family of four stood in front in the alley and watched. The kids were 6 and 9 years old or somewhere around there and their parents let them watch. The father carefully explained what was going on before they walked away.

I walked over to the Grey Area for 4:20. It was finally open and I avoided the high ticket items and bought the Grey Mist. For 8.50 Euros a gram, it's the best buy in Amsterdam and by far my favorite strain. The Grey Area is super small and features mirrored walls with stickers on them. There are three small tables and a tiny counter along the wall with three bar stools. You can seat less than 15 people there and a total of 20 people can be in that space at once. I was surprised to found a spot along the wall as I fired up the Grey Mist and stared at the stickers.

The coffeeshop is owned by two Americans and they have plenty of famous bands and musicans stop by. The Willie Nelson picture is hilarious, if you can find it. And the picture of the guys from Phish hanging out at the Grey Area always gives me goosebumps.

Two wasted American college girls sat at the small table near me. They struggled to take pics of each other. At one point they handed the camera to me and I snapped a couple of photos for them. They asked me how to get to some club that I never heard of before.

I left the Grey Area and wandered back through Jordaan past the galleries and over to Pink Floyd. Nicky and I spent plenty of time there in November. The music was good with penty of classic rock. They have three stories which means plenty of room to hang out. I also like crowded coffeeshops or multi-level ones because you can get away with getting high in those places without buying their product. I'd just buy a drink (water, juice, coffee, hot chocolate) for under 2 Euros and sit in the corner to blaze up.

I sat next to a 40 plus year old German woman with her teenaged nephew and his girlfriend. They were fun to talk with and we must have bullshitted for an hour or so. They invited me to dinner and I declined. I wandered back down to Dam Square and bought frites and a half of ham and kaas sandwich. My second consecutive five Euro dinner.

I went back into my room to rest for a bit and checked my email. I told Derek and Nicky that I was sticking around another day. I watched a little Dutch TV and they had an interview with Flava Flav on a local station.

I chatted with Nicky on Skype for a few minutes and decided to go back out and buy magic mushrooms. That's when Wednesday got even more blurry. I picked up Thai happy mushrooms at La Canna and popped a few as I chased them with a Kit Kat bar. I wandered around the city for a couple of hours. I got a beer at Kadinsky's cafe which is right across the alley from their coffeeshop. The had La Chouffe which is a Belgium beer I was told to drink by a woman I met in Monte Carlo.

As the shrooms kicked in, I stopped off at crowded hash bars where I didn't buy anything, but found a corner to smoke in and check out the scene. That included Dampkring, Kandinsky, and Abraxis. The music being played at those coffeeshops were an interesting mix and featured random fusion music such as Euro-techno-house-hip-hop or then you'd hear old school reggae.

I walked into the Free Adam coffeeshop and it was packed with rastas. I had not been there since my first trip to Amsterdam with Senor. The prices was expensive with overpriced hash and bud. I settled upon the cheapest thing on the menu; a chunk of Nepali hash. A fat black guy with the longest dreads I had ever seen weighed it out for me.

I sat near the front window and smoked a little of the Nepali hash and ended up giving the rest to a Spanish guy sitting next to me. He handed me a copy of Homer's The Iliad. It was an English version and he said I could have it in exchange for the hash. I agreed and we laughed for five straight minutes when we realized that we had variations of the same name. He was a Pablo. The shrooms were definitely working.

It was close to 2am when I wandered down Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal and stopped at Resin coffeeshop. I had not seen the place before and I loved the name. The place was empty and I bought a gram of AK47 and some mineral water for 10 Euros in all. I sat down and smoked a bowl before I decided to bust out the Grey Mist. I finished the rest of that off and read about fifty pages of The Iliad before I left. I realized that the Resin was the 11th coffeeshop I visited and smoked in that day. I was super tired and needed one more to tie my record. That's when I pushed myself to stay awake and walked down the street into Double Reggae. It had the mural of Jim Morrison on the window and I bought a bag of something I had no idea what it was. When I'd wake up the next day, that bag was the only one I could not account for since I had been carefully labeling my bags.

I stumbled into my hotel and carefully tried to recall the 12 coffeeshops I went to. Barney's. Rokerij (Leidestraat). Jolly Joker. 420 Cafe. Grey Area. Pink Floyd. Free Adam. Dampkring. Kadinsky. Abraxis. Resin. Double Reggae. I also bought shrooms at the smart shop attached to La Canna, but never went inside to smoke. The list of 12 coffeeshops was the last thing I remember writing before I passed out with my clothes on.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Amsterdam Pic Dump: Part I

Here are eleven pics that I took in Amsterdam last week. Enjoy!

View from the rooftop of my hotel

On the wall of a bicycle rental place

Window shopping

Hotel Ibis

We will tow your ass...

Rocket: On Sale Now

Corner Market

Street art

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Monte Carlo Flickr Gallery

I uploaded 34 pics to Flickr. Take a peek at my Monte Carlo photo gallery. I posted a few pics here already, but you have not seen the rest, like the pic of the 23 Euro cheeseburger from Room Service!!

I will post Amsterdam pictures to the Tao of Pauly very shortly.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Florida Wins Back-to-Back Championships; Stoner Blonde Chick Wins Pauly's Pub March Madness Pool; Hell to Freeze Over

These are considered unofficial stats. They become official when I get back to the States.
Money Winners in Pauly's Pub March Madness Pool:
1 Capt. Tom and the P.O.B.s (Change100 aka Nicky) 1330
2 Jack Tripper Stole My Dog (Pauly) 1320
3 The Marcus Hookers (Schanzer) 1290
4 Logan's Run (Gracie) 1230
Yes, not only did two chicks place in the money, Nicky won it all. She had Oral Roberts going deep until I scolded her. Unreal. I lost by 10 friggin' points. Congrats to both chicks in the pool for cashing. Nicky takes home a cool $400. Lucky mofo.

At least Florida covered and I won a few dollars after losing about 3K in Vegas last weekend. Since I arrived in Monte Carlo, I have not gambled much. I lost 41 Euros playing poker late last night/early this morning with Otis and some drunken Brits and one wild Swede. I managed to win 2 out of 3 Final Four Games and cleaned up on prop bets with Otis and with other bloggers/journalists in media row at the European Poker Tour Championships. I schooled the British media, Snoopy from Blonde Poker and Stephen from Gutshot, although I lost smaller bets to the Norwegian and French press.

Here's a pic of Snoopy settling his debt. He's not happy:

I leave Monte Carlo in a few hours. I fly from Nice to Amsterdam where I shall disapear for a few days and unplug. Can't wait.

Here's the Poker News article that I wrote for the EPT Championships called: Gavin Griffin Wins EPT Grand Finale. For a second year in a row, an American won the biggest tournament in Europe. The winner took home 1.8 million Euros. Lucky fucker.

That's it. Signing off from Monte Carlo.

Sunday, April 01, 2007


Pauly in Chinese

Here are some articles that I wrote for Poker News which were translated into different languages:

Pauly in German

Pauly in Polish
Pauly in Italian
Pauly in Finnish
Pauly in Greek
Pauly in Portuguese
Pauly in Japanese
Pauly in Chinese (Mandarin)
Pauly in Chinese (Cantonese)
Pauly in Hungarian
Pauly in French

Here are some screen caps:

In Greek

In Polish

Nicky got one of her aticles translated into Hungarian. I always wanted to be read in Budapest. Those Huns have read my shit. Sweet Jesus!