Monday, December 31, 2007

On the Road in 2007 - Video

By Pauly

I finally completed the highly anticipated end of year video where I highlight all of my travels in 2007.

Click here to view the video via RSS or Bloglines....

Here's a brief explanation:

A Tao of Pauly movie highlighting different adventures on the road in 2007. This short travel film was shot on location in Australia (Melbourne, Gold Coast, Sydney, Great Ocean Road, Philip Island), Barcelona, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Monte Carlo, London, New York City, Sunrise FL, Key West and Las Vegas.

Footage includes the Langerado music festival in Sunrise, FL featuring Galactic, Trey Anastasio Band, My Morning Jacket, and Medeski Martin & Wood. The music festival footage of Jet and Muse was shot at the Big Day Out festival in Gold Coast, Australia.

The soundtrack includes the Beastie Boys, Wu Tang Clan, Jens Lenkman, and Thievery Corporation.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

nyc > burbank

By Pauly

It was dark on Friday morning as I silently dressed and packed the last few things. I only brought a small back pack home to NYC with me (including my laptop) and just the clothes on my back. I knew that it was warm in Hollyweird and it's the summer in Australia, so I avoided bringing any heavy winter stuff.

The car was waiting for me when I arrived downstairs. My usual guy was not available. They gave me some other dude. I told him, "JFK. JetBlue terminal." And that was it. We didn't say anything to each other the entire time. He left me alone, which I prefer, especially at 6:40am.

The trip to JFK was fast and took less than 30 minutes door to door. The driver did not say a word until we got into the airport and a gypsy cab had stopped in the passing lane to change his tire.

"Fuckin idiot," the driver snapped.

That's all he said. I thought about giving him a fat tip for such a quick trip, but the lack of traffic was not his doing. Traffic was light because of the time I went to the airport coupled with the fact this is a holiday week and a lot of people were off from work or out of the city.

Although the road were empty, the airport was super packed. I guess people were going away for NYE or returning home after Christmas.

Lines. Lines. Lines.

Lines to get through security. Lines to get to the Dunkin' Donuts. Lines to get into the bathroom. Lines at the newsstand. Lines to get on you plane.

One kid crawled on the floor next to me as I fired up my laptop and checked my email. He played with a toy garbage truck, an obviously Christmas present. The truck made sounds and announced, "Backing up!" and then it would beep like a real garbage truck.

The kid was crashing his truck into my backpack and messing around underneath my seat. I was worried that the kid would have dug into my backpack and found my pharmies. The last thing I wanted was a three-year old jacked up on my Xanax.

I bought Iceland Spring water at one of the gourmet stores at JFK. It was not as expensive as Fiji, but I wanted to try it. Not too bad. I ended up drinking 40% of it then dumping an Airborne packet in there.

A super hot chick stood behind me at the security line. She was on her cell yapping to one of her friends and complained the entire time about the line and how JetBlue fucked up her flight and she would be delayed. I noticed that she wore a NY Giants football jersey underneath her winter coat. When it was her time to put her things through the X-ray machine, she took off her Uggs and her jacket. Then I noticed she had a Jeremy Shockey jersey on. What a friggin' tool.

My flight to California was full of random SoCal freaks and LA Douchebags. I usually fly into Long Beach, but for some reason Burbank was like $50 cheaper, so I flew into Bob Hope airport instead.

There was a baby in the row front of me, but it didn't act up at all. I popped a Xanax as soon as I got on the plane. I watched Sportscenter for the first hour, followed up by an hour or so of the Food Network and a couple of episodes of that Dog Whisperer dude.

My flight was delayed by about twenty minutes but aside from that, it was smooth. I got ever so closer to another free roundtrip flight. I have one in the can which I have to use by this summer. Hopefully by March, I'll have two free round trippers.

Nicky picked me up at Bob Hope Airport and we went to lunch at Mo's in Burbank. They supposedly have the best burgers in the Valley. I had never been before and was excited to try it out. The curly fries were bland and nothing special, but the burgers are thick and juicy. There's a special fixings bar where you pick up your burgers at and add whatever you like to your already monster burger. I ordered a bacon and bleu cheese burger. Heaven. The lighting was poor inside Mo's otherwise I would have taken a photo.

When we got back to the apartment, Nicky showed me her nasty burns that she got when a container of hot wax exploded all over her hand. It was pretty nasty but she didn't bitch and moan or ask for extra special attention. She's a trooper. We had already exchanged presents before I left for NYC, but she had another one for me... it's was a pack containing all three of the Jason Bourne flicks... Bourne Identity, Bourne Supremacy, and Bourne Ultimatum. Very nice.

On Friday night, we watched Stardust Memories. My brother had bought me a collection of Woody Allen movies on DVD for Christmas. That by far was my favorite gift. And Stardust Memories was one of the flicks in the batch. It was always one of my favorites, but these days, the themes running through the film have a lot more sentimental value then when I saw it five, ten, or fifteen years ago.

* * * * *

I woke up early on Saturday and set up my laptop at the dining room table. I opened up the window and wrote as I listened to Grateful Dead radio and a Charlie Mingus CD that GMoney gave me. I worked on Truckin' and finished up editing a video.

During lunch at Nick's coffeeshop, Nicky suggested that we go see a movie at The Grove. I wanted to watch the football game, and she was totally cool with that, which is one of the many cool things about Nicky. We postponed the flick (either Juno or Charlie Wilson's War) until Sunday night.

I watched the game and couldn't believe that the Giants were actually ahead in the first quarter. I called Derek to discuss the game and he had forgot that it was on. During the game, I paced around a lot in Nicky's living room, something I do when I have money on the game... but that time I didn't. I'm not even a Giants fan, but I wanted the Pats to lose badly. At the same time, friends of mine had bet heavily on the Giants +14 or 14.5 depending on where they put the bet in (online or in Vegas). So I had plenty of other reasons to root for the Giants. By the time the 4th quarter hit, I knew that Eli would get cold and act like the total goober that he is. Alas, the Giants lost and the Pats ended up undefeated. Once Moss scored that TD to put the Pats ahead, I told Nicky that it was time to go to dinner.

Showcase joined us for Mexican food. Since we'd be spending a month in Australia and New Zealand, we picked foods that we wouldn't have access to... like Mexican food. El Cholo is a favorite of mine, located near Korea Town on Western and Olympic. Showcase and Nicky drank Cadillac margaritas and I went for beer. We drank a bit and Showcase and Nicky told me some random stories about kids from the musical theatre department that they went to Northwestern with.

El Cholo's chili burritos are kick ass with big chunks of beef in there. And when you order a bowl of guacamole, a waitress comes up to your table and mixes the dish right in front of you.

I was in a food coma when I got home. I played a little online poker, then logged off and passed out. I woke up at 12:30am and didn't get a chance to write. I smoked a bit, watched a couple of minutes of Star Wars, then crawled into bed. Around 5am, I was wide awake and slowly made my way back out to the dining room table, which automatically transforms into my office when I'm in Hollyweird. I fired up the laptop and finished off my Year in Review post for Tao of Poker.

And that's when I finally had the chance to write this post as a cover of the Beatles' Julia is playing on Phish radio. It's Sunday and football comes on TV early on the Left Coast. I have just three more hours to write before it's time to fire up the bong and monitor the games. I have an outside shot at cashing in the Pauly's Pub football pool. That would be cool since I took second place during the March Madness pool.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Today in Phishtory

By Pauly

If ypu read my Phish blog, you know that I sometimes post something like "Today in Phishtory" where I talk about the significance of a specific Phish concert, or perhaps it was a show I had a bootleg copy of, or maybe I happened to be at that show.

Anyway, December 29th is a special day for Phish because they played a lot of different shows on that specific date over the years. I attended the last three concerts they played on 12.29... in 1997 (NYC), 1998 (NYC), and in 2003 (Miami). Check out something I just posted called Today in Phishtory: 12.29.97, 12.29.98, and 12.29.03.

Friday, December 28, 2007

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

By Pauly
New York City

Last 5 Books I Saw People Reading on the Subway...
1. Can You Keep a Secret? by Sophie Kinsella
2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling
3. Cross by James Patterson
4. Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters
5. Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Random Christmas Pictures

By Pauly
New York City

Flowers for Mom

Christmas breakfast....

Chocolate babka

Derek gave me the coolest present...

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Story of the Ghosts

By Pauly
New York City

The other morning while on the shitter, I thumbed through the latest issue of my college alumni magazine. It's a glossy and overproduced magazine with pictures of diverse students and little blurbs about how other graduates are making a difference in the world. I skip over those fluff pieces and head straight for the back.

I always check the obituaries section first. I wanted to know if any former college classmates kicked the bucket. That time... there were none. Then I checked out the latest news from various alumni from my graduation year. Out of the twenty or so listings, I only recognized three names. One guy from my fraternity announced that he had another kid and named her "Angelina." That was pretty lame. He used to be such a wild and creative guy. He once drank a half of bottle of Jagermeister and ran down fraternity row completely naked. He's now a cardiologist living outside of Chicago.

The other name I recognized was a girl who I had a slight crush on during my junior year. She was from New Orleans and we had a couple of poli sci classes together. She used to date one of my friend's fraternity brothers. Rumor had it that she loved to suck cock, but wouldn't swallow. When she was a freshman, she blew one of the guys on the swim team. She tried to swallow and ended up puking all over the guy in the backseat of his car. That was 15 years ago. Now, she proudly announced that she had her second kid and is happily married to an attorney in Virginia.

I have been wandering around the streets of my old neighborhood. Some of the shops have changed while others have remained the same. I recognized some of the faces while a whole new wave of people have moved in. A couple of times I passed people on the street who did a I was the ghost... that had not been seen in a very long time.

On one of the main streets, there now stands a Starbucks and a Subway franchise. That corner used to be the crossroads of South Riverdale. At different times, the corner store had changed hands from an Irish deli when I was a kid to a gourmet deli in the 1980s to a Travel Agency in the 1990s and now it's fallen under the corporate shadow of fast food entrepreneurs. It has become a Subway. Same for the spot across the street. It changed from an art supply store to a video store to fast food chicken joint to a Kosher Chinese restaurant to now a Starbucks.

On one of the corners still stands an independent pharmacy. It's been like that since as long as I can remember. They have not been driven out by the larger pharmacy chains like Eckerds and CVS... which both have stores within a block of the mom and pop one. I wonder how long before they are forced out by higher rents or squeezed by the drug store conglomerates?

Within a 24 hour period, I ran into the biggest former crack dealer from my neighborhood and Derek ran into the girl who I took to my high school prom. Talk about flashbacks.

Pedro was a former crack dealer and he attended the same Catholic grammar school as me. When I was busy prepping for the SATs and playing varsity hoops in high school, Pedro had dropped out of his public high school and was hustling on the streets. He pulled in twice as much as my father made and drove around in a white BMW while slinging crack at its peak in the late 1980s. Pedro started out as a lookout and eventually was promoted to a runner. He eventually went out on his own and would ride the subways to do deals in stations on the platform or actually on the train. It was an amazing system and provided Pedro a means of escape if the police happened to show up. The subway also allowed him to reach a larger client base as he amasses a small fortune.

I heard that he had gotten busted at some point but I still don't know what he does today. Is it legal or illegal? I didn't care. But he had five or six kids from three or four different girls from the neighborhood. When we saw each other, he said that his kids were getting bigger and bigger by the day.

"How many do you got now?" I asked. "Five? Enough for at least a basketball team, right? Can you field a baseball team yet?"

He wished me a Merry Christmas and I did the same.

On the same day, at separate times, Derek said he saw my high school prom date. We both attended the same grammar school and she went to high school in Manhattan right across the street from me. She was an interesting mix. Her mother's family were Irish and her father was from the Dominican Republic. Irish-Catholic-Latina. That's the Bronx for ya. I had not seen or talked to her in almost fifteen years. I bumped into her once many moons ago when we were still in college. I had not seen her since.

Then on Christmas morning, I ran into a kid who I used to play Little league baseball with almost 25 years ago. He was with his wife and they were headed to his parents house for Christmas with a couple of big bags of gifts. We made small talk... the entire conversation lasted less than twenty seconds. It was chilly and he needed to get going. That was fine with me because I really don't like talking about myself. I really never know what to say, especially when people ask, "What do you write?"

I hate saying "poker" because it gets such an unusual reaction and then people (not in the industry) start asking me a million and one questions or worse... they tell me a bad beat story or want to discuss poker strategy. Poker is my job and a part-time hobby. It's not something I actively seek to discuss while bumping into old friends on cold street corners. That's why I say, "I write freelance for a bunch of magazines. Boring stuff. So how are your kids?"

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Monday, December 24, 2007

Auggie Wren's Christmas Story

By Pauly
New York City

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


Written by Paul Auster

I heard this story from Auggie Wren. Since Auggie doesn't come off too well in it, at least not as well as he'd like to, he's asked me not to use his real name. Other than that, the whole business about the lost wallet and the blind woman and the Christmas dinner is just as he told it to me.

Auggie and I have known each other for close to 11 years now. He works behind the counter of a cigar store on Court Street in downtown Brooklyn, and since it's the only store that carries the little Dutch cigars I like to smoke, I go in there fairly often. For a long time, I didn't give much thought to Auggie Wren. He was the strange little man who wore a hooded blue sweatshirt and sold me cigars and magazines, the impish, wisecracking character who always had something funny to say about the weather or the Mets or the politicians in Washington, and that was the extent of it.

But then one day several years ago he happened to be looking through a magazine in the store, and he stumbled across a review of one of my books. He knew it was me because a photograph accompagnied the review, and after that things changed between us. I was no longer just another customer to Auggie, I had become a distinguished person. Most people couldn't care less about books and writers, but it turned out that Auggie considered himself an artist. Now that he had cracked the secret of who I was, he embraced me as an ally, a confidant, a brother-in-arms. To tell the truth, I found it rather embarrassing. Then almost inevitably, a moment came when he asked if I would he willing to look at his photographs. Given his enthusiasm and good will, there didn't seem to be any way I could turn him down.

God knows what I was expecting. At the very least, it wasn't what Auggie showed me the next day. In a small, windowless room at the back of the store, he opened a cardboard box and pulled out 12 identical black photo albums. This was his life's work, he said, and it didn't take him more than five minutes a day to do it. Every morning for the past 12 years, he had stood at the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Clinton Street at precisely 7 O'clock and had taken a single color photograph of precisely the same view. The project now ran to more than 4 000 photographs. Each album represented a different year, and all the pictures were laid out in sequence, from January I to December 31, with the dates carefully recorded under each one.

As I flipped through the albums and began to study Auggie's work, I didn't know what to think. My first impression was that it was the oddest, most bewildering thing I had ever seen. All the pictures were the same. The whole Project was a numbing onslaught of repetition, the same street and the same buildings over and over again, an unrelenting delirium of redundant images. I couldn't think of anything to say to Auggie, so I continued turning pages, nodding my head in feigned appreciation. Auggie himself seemed unperturbed, watching me with a broad smile on his face, but after I’d been at it for several minutes, he suddenly interrupted me and said, "You're going too fast. You'll never get it if you don't slow down.

He was right, of course. If you don't take the time to look, you'll never manage to see anything. I picked up another album and forced myself to go more deliberately. I paid closer attention to details, took note of shifts in the weather, watched for the changing angles of light as the seasons advances. Eventually, I was able to detect subtle differences in the traffic flow, to anticipate the rhythm of the different days (the commotion of workday mornings, the relative stillness of weekends, the contrast between Saturdays and Sundays). And then, little by little, I began to recognize the faces of the people in the background, the passers-by on their way to work, the same people in the same spot every morning, living an instant of their lives in the field of Auggie's camera.

Once I got to know them, I began to study their postures, the way they carried themselves from one morning to the next, trying to discover their moods from these surface indications, as if I could imagine stories for them, as if I could penetrate the invisible dramas locked inside their bodies. I picked up another album. I was no longer bored, no longer puzzled as I had been at first. Auggie was photographing time, I realized, both natural time and human time, and he was doing it by planting himself in one tiny corner of the world and willing it to be his own, by standing guard in the space he had chosen for himself. As he watched me pore over his work, Auggie continued to smile with pleasure. Then, almost as if he had been reading my thoughts, he began to recite a line from Shakespeare. "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow", he muttered under his breath, "time creeps on its petty pace". I understood then that he knew exactly what he was doing.

That was more than two thousand pictures ago. Since that day, Auggie and I have discussed his work many times, but it was only last week that I learned how he acquired his camera and started taking pictures in the first place. That was the subject of the story he told me, and I'm still struggling to make sense of it.

Earlier that same week, a man from The New York Times called me and asked if I would be willing to write a short story that would appear in the paper on Christmas morning. My first impulse was to say no, but the man was very charming and persistent, and by the end of the conversation I told him I would give it a try. The moment I hung up the phone, however, I fell into a deep panic. What did I know about Christmas ? I asked myself. What did I know about writing short stories on commission ?

I spent the next several days in despair, warring with the ghosts of Dickens, 0. Henry and other masters of the Yuletide spirit. The very phrase "Christmas story" had unpleasant associations for me, evoking dreadful outpourings of hypocritical mush and treacle. Even at their best, Christmas stories were no more than wish-fulfillment dreams, fairy tales for adults, and I'd be damned if I'd ever allowed myself to write an unsentimental Christmas story ? It was a contradiction in terms, an impossibility, an out-and-out conundrum. One might just as well try to imagine a racehorse without legs, or a sparrow without wings.

I got nowhere. On Thursday I went out for a long walk, hoping the air would clear my head. Just past noon, I stopped in at the cigar store to replenish my supply, and there was Auggie, standing behind the counter as always. He asked me how I was. Without really meaning to, I found myself unburdening my troubles to him. "A Christmas story ?" he said after I had finished. "Is that all ? If you buy me lunch, my friend, I'll tell you the best Christmas story you ever heard. And I guarantee that every word of it is true".

We walked down the block to Jack's, a cramped and boisterous delicatessen with good pastrami sandwiches and photographs of old Dodger teams hanging on the walls. We found a table at the back, ordered our food, and then Auggie launched into his story.

"It was the summer of '72", he said. "A kid came in one morning and started stealing things from the store. He must have been about 19 or 20, and I don't think I've ever seen a more pathetic shoplifter in my life. He's standing by the rack of paperbacks along the far wall and stuffing books into the pockets of his raincoat. It was crowded around the counter just then so I didn't see him at first. But once I noticed what he was up to, I started to shout. He took off like a jackrabbit, and by the time I managed to get out from behind the counter, he was already tearing down Atlantic Avenue. I chased after him for about half a block, and then I gave up. He'd dropped something along the way, and since I didn't feel like running anymore, I bent down to see what it was.

"It turned out to be his wallet. There wasn't any money inside, but his driver's license was there along with three or four snapshots. I suppose I could have called the cops and had him arrested. I had his name and address from the license, but I felt kind of sorry for him. He was just a measly little punk, and once I looked at those pictures in his wallet, I couldn't bring myself to feel very angry at him. Robert Goodwin. That was his name. In one of the pictures, I remember, he was standing with his arm around his mother or grand-mother. In another one, he was sitting there at age nine or ten dressed in a baseball uniform with a big smile on his face. I just didn't have the heart. He was probably on dope now, I figured. A poor kid from Brooklyn without much going for him, and who cared about a couple of trashy paperbacks anyway ?

"So I held onto the wallet. Every once in a while I'd get a little urge to send it back to him, but I kept delaying and never did anything about it. Then Christmas rolls around and I'm stuck with nothing to do. The boss usually invites me over to his house to spend the day, but that year he and his family were down in Florida visiting relatives. So I'm sitting in my apartment that morning feeling a little sorry for myself, and then I see Robert Goodwin's wallet lying on a shelf in the kitchen. I figure what the hell, why not do something nice for once, and I put on my coat and go out to return the wallet in person.

"The address was over in Boerum Hill, somewhere in the projects. It was freezing out that day, and I remember getting lost a few times trying to find the right building. Everything looks the same in that place, and you keep going over the same ground thinking you're somewhere else. Anyway, I finally get to the apartment I'm looking for and ring the bell. Nothing happens. I assume no one's there, but I try again just to make sure. I wait a little longer, and just when I'm about to give up, I hear someone shuffling to the door. An old woman's voice asks who's there, and I say I'm looking for Robert Goodwin. 'Is that you, Robert ?' the old woman says, and then she undoes about 15 locks and opens the door.

"She has to be at least 80, maybe 90 years old, and the first thing I notice about her is that she's blind. 'I knew you'd come, Robert,' she says. 'I knew you wouldn't forget your Granny Ethel on Christmas'. And then she opens her arms as if she's about to hug me.

"I didn't have much time to think, you understand. I had to say something real fast, and before I knew what was happening, I could hear the words coming out of my mouth. 'That's right, Granny Ethel', I said. 'I came back to see you on Christmas'. Don't ask me why I did it. I don't have any idea. Maybe I didn't want to disappoint her or something. I don't know. It just came out that way, and then this old woman was suddenly hugging me there in front of the door, and I was hugging her back.

"I didn't exactly say that I was her grandson. Not in so many words, at least, but that was the implication. I wasn't trying to trick her, though. It was like a game we'd both decided to play without having to discuss the rules. I mean, that woman knew I wasn't her grandson Robert. She was old and dotty, but she wasn't so far gone that she couldn't tell the difference between a stranger and her own flesh and blood. But it made her happy to pretend, and since I had nothing better to do anyway, I was happy to go along with her.

"So we went into the apartment and spent the day together. The place was a real dump, I might add, but what else can you expect from a blind woman who does her own housekeeping ? Every time she asked me a question about how I was, I would lie to her. I told her I'd found a good job working in a cigar store, I told her I was about to get married, I told her a hundred pretty stories, and she made like she believed every one of then. "that's fine, Robert", she would say nodding her head and smiling. "I always knew things would work out for you."

"After a while, I started getting pretty hungry. There didn't seem to be much food in the house, so I went out to a store in the neighborhood and brought back a mess of stuff. A precooked chicken, vegetable soup, a bucket of potato salad, a chocolate cake, all kinds of things. Ether had a couple of bottles of wine stashed in her bedroom, and so between us we managed to put together a fairly decent Christmas dinner. We both got a little tipsy from the wine, I remember, and after the meal was over we went out to sit in the living room, where the chairs were more comfortable. I had to take a pee, so I excused myself and went to the bathroom down the hall. That's where things took yet another tum. I was ditsy enough doing my little jig as Ethel's grandson, but what I did next was positively crazy, and I've never forgiven myself for it. I go into the bathroom, and stacked up against the wall next to the shower, I see a pile of six or seven cameras. Brand-new 35 millimeter cameras, still in their boxes, top-quality merchandise. I figure this is the work of the real Robert, a storageplace for one of his recent hauls. I've never taken a picture in my life, and I've certainly never stolen anything, but the moment I see those cameras sitting in the bathroom, I decide I want one of them for myself. Just like that. And without even stopping to think about it, I tuck one of the boxes under my arm and go back to the living room.

"I couldn't have been gone for more than three minutes, but in that time Granny Ethel had fallen asleep in her chair. Too much Chianti, I suppose. I went into the kitchen to wash the dishes, and she slept on through the whole racket, snoring like a baby. There didn't seem to be any point in disturbing her, so I decided to leave. I couldn't even write a note to say goodbye, seeing that she was blind and all, and so I just left. I put her grandson's wallet on the table, picked up the camera again, and walked out of the apartment. And that's the end of the story".

"Did you ever go back to see her ?" I asked.

"Once", he said. "About three of four months later. I felt so bad about stealing the camera, I hadn't even used it yet. I finally made up my mind to return it, but Ethel wasn't there anyrnore. I don't know what happened to her, but someone else had moved into the apartment, and he couldn't tell me where she was".

"She probably died".

"Yeah, probably".

"Which means that she spent her last Christmas with you".

"1 guess so. I never thought of it that way".

"It was a good deed, Auggie. it was a nice thing you did for her".

"I lied to her, and then I stole from her. I don't see how you can call that a good deed".

"You made her happy. And the camera was stolen anyway. It's not as if the person you took it from really owned it".

"Anything for art, eh Paul ?"

"I wouldn't say that. But at least you've put the camera to good use".

"And now you've got your Christmas story, don't you ?"

"Yes", I said. "I suppose I do".

I paused for a moment, studying Auggie as a wicked grin spread across his face. I couldn't be sure, but the look in his eyes at that moment was so mysterious, so fraught with the glow of some inner delight, that it suddenly occured to me that he had made the whole thing up. I was about to ask him if he'd been putting me on, but then I realized he would never tell. I had been tricked into believing him, and that was the only thing that mattered. As long as there's one person to believe it, there's no story that can't be true.

"You're an ace, Auggie", I said. "Thanks for being so helpful".

"Any time", he answered, still looking at me with that maniacal light in his eyes. "After all, if you can't share your secrets with your friends, what kind of a friend are you ?"

"I guess I owe you one"

"No you don't. Just put it down the way I told it to you, and you don't owe me a thing".

"Except the lunch".

"That's right. Except the lunch".

I returned Auggie's smile with a smile of my own, and then I called out to the waiter and asked for the check.

This story was originally a NY Times piece and also appeared in the film Smoke staring Harvey Kietel and William Hurt.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Homer Simpson: A Picture a Day for 39 Years

By Pauly
New York City

Fascinating tribute. Originally aired last weekend.

Click here to view the Homer video via RSS or Bloglines...

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Benson and Hedges

By Pauly
New York City

The loneliest pimp on the block is often the most successful. After all, we're all hookers or pimps. If you ain't chugging cock, or slinging rock, you are pimping off something. A girl. Your soul. Your identity. Your ideals. Your morals. Your self. The hustlers never cease to exist. And when an old whore dies, a priest sneezes in his sleep. It's a sign to let the angels in heaven know that a working girl is headed their way. But that's one club she's not going to get in. Hookers don't have much chance at the afterlife.

Late nights, when I can't sleep, I would sit in the dark and listen to jazz albums from Ornette Coleman and Charlie Mingus and Bird. I'd open every doorway inside the hallways of my mind and let my thoughts wander. I always hoped that if I let it run amuck long enough, my wound up mind would eventually grow tired and I'd finally be able to shuffle off to slumber. Never works.

The last time I can recall being able to get steady sleep was when I lived in Seattle. Towards the beginning of my stint there, I would have the occasional sleepless night. I would drive around and get lost all over the city. That's how I got to know it much better. I'd drive around with the windows down and listen to the radio since I didn't have a CD player or even a tape player in my 1984 Chrysler La Baron, the one I wrecked a couple of months after I moved to Seattle.

Once I lost my car, I had nothing to drive around on sleepless nights, so when insomnia struck every few weeks, I would sit out on my porch in the dark and listen to the rain. My roommates and I used an old Folger's coffee can as a communal ashtray which we sometimes left it on the ledge of the railing and the ashtray would get soaked in a soupy like substance of dirt, ash, used chewing gum, matches, and cigarette butts... a few of them were green because one of my freaky roommates used to wear green lipstick.

She painted her fingernails black and wore weird jackets with ruffles or feathers, and sometimes both. She always looked like she just woke up. It was probably all the Valium she digested on a daily basis or the myriad of bong hits she ripped moments before she stepped out of her secluded museum to herself which was room #5 in the big red house. I only got to see her room once, and that's when the light blew out and she needed "someone tall" to stand on a chair and screw in a new one. She said she was a poetry major and her floor was littered with crumbled up pieces of paper. Those were "unconnected thoughts" she explained. She could not connect what was inside her mind to the outside world and physically from pen to paper. There must have been almost a hundred of little balls of paper all over the floor, underneath her desk and at the end of the bed.

She had random CDs cases, most of them empty, scattered throughout her room and on her bed. Her brother worked for Sub Pop and she got dozens of promotional CDs from random bands like The Helio Sequence or The Reverend Horton Heat or those dykes from L7.

She didn't say much and out of all my roommates that could consider commit suicide, she was #1 on my list. There was always that possibility that I'd come home from work and find her limp body in the hallway after she choked on her own vomit from swallowing too many happy pills and wine. A couple of months before I moved into the house, one of the guys who lived in the room next to mine had committed suicide. He hung himself in his closet and no one noticed until six days later. The roommates smelled something funky after the fourth day, but they just assumed someone in the house scored a bag of the dankest pot on the planet. The big red house was haunted and there were rumors that Ted Bundy lived in the house next door when he was in the middle of his killing sprees. One of his victims was found dead in an alley way two blocks from the big red house. Seattle and the Pacific Northwest was the serial murder capital of the world.

Seattle also had a high suicide rate, especially among females aged 15-21. My roommate was exhibiting classic signs of a potential suicide victim. But she also struck me as the type of girl who would attempt to kill herself but not go all the way... she'd just get fucked up enough to get hospitalized and cause a stir to draw up some attention. I looked at her arms and wrists. She didn't appear to be a cutter, but she listened to a lot of angry indie chick rock and idolized Ani DiFranco.

Her sullenness always bothered me. I wanted to try to talk to her, but it was not easy. She used to sit in her room and drink alone. She preferred white wine, the cheap stuff that you saw on sale at Safeway, which she sipped in a purple UW coffee cup. I knew that she drank alone because she would hide the empty bottles in her room and then bring them down to the recycling bin very early in the morning.

She spent most of the time in her room and rarely hung out in the living room or kitchen. She would emerge from her room every hour or so for eight minutes, and migrate to the porch for a smoke break. She smoked Benson and Hedges and my other roommates teased her for her choice of death sticks.

She walked around barefoot and I thought she had sexy feet for such a depressed girl. She painted her toe nails in different colors. Sometimes they were metallic blue or greenish-grey. One time they were pink and I thought that was odd, since pink was a happy girl's color and not brown or black and depressing like most girls I met in Seattle in the late 1990s.

She moved out of the house unexpectedly. Before she left, she knocked on my door. I was watching the X-Files and sitting in my boxer shorts. She told me that she was moving into an apartment with a her best friend. That was odd because I never saw anyone visit her. Anyway, she held a desk lamp in her hands and presented it to me as if it were a Oscar or a Golden Globe award.

"I wanted you to have a reading light. I noticed that you didn't have one."

She told me to wait right there. So I stood in my doorway, in my boxers, holding a lamp. She returned thirty-five seconds later and handed me a box full of CDs that she didn't want to take with her. That's how I inherited albums from Zen Guerrilla, The Supersuckers, Fluid, Water Of The Delay, Kumquat Orb, and Chartreuse Tick Of The Demonic Fusion. I sold all of those at a used bookstore on the Ave. I got about $60 for thirty or so of her CDs. I used the money to buy a Pesto and mushroom pizza from Pagliaci's and a bag of weed, which I smoked on my porch late at night when I couldn't sleep.

A couple of weeks after she moved out, I wondered if she wasn't really moving and decided to commit suicide. In a way, she tried to reach out one last time when she knocked on my door and gave me some of her things. It was kinda creepy how she said, "I won't be needed these things anymore." She wasn't really headed to a new apartment, she was finally going to jump head first into the abyss.

I became obsessed with finding out if she had killed herself. I checked all the newspapers and scanned the interwebs looking for any sign of her. Every day I'd check the obituaries and ask my roommates who were UW students if they happened to run across her. They always said no and gave me shit for having a crush on the wine guzzling chick with green lipstick.

Then one day, it must have been two or three months later, I sat on a bus coming home from work. I saw her walking down the street wearing on of her black suede feathery jackets. I got off at the next stop and ran down the street looking for her. I couldn't find her and started to think that I was doing too many mushrooms, or acid, or just seeing a ghost. Just when I was about to give up, I spotted her standing online inside the 7/11 buying a pack of Benson and Hedges.

She gave me a half-smile when she saw me rush into the store. I embraced her and she seemed surprised initially that I hugged her while she stood online at the 7/11 buying smokes. After an awkward two or three seconds, she hugged back. We must have stood there for about fifteen or sixteen seconds total. I finally let go when all that built up guilt inside of my guts evaporated into thin air. I thought that I let her die and she miraculously sprung back to life. I said goodbye and walked out of the store as she stood at the counter completely stunned and confused.

I never saw her again.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Sea Groove

By Pauly
New York City

I was still in bed when the Joker called me on Thursday. I glanced at my cellphone, which said it was 10:31am. I was up until 6am editing a video and had woken up a few minutes earlier and in the process of rolling out of bed when my cell rang.

It's not a good thing when people in time zones earlier are calling me before I get out of bed. It's not unusual for my friends on the East Coast to get a phone call from me very early in the morning... usually because it's probably 6am or 7am on the West Coast and I haven't gone to bed yet. That's normal. But people calling from earlier time zones while I'm still in bed is very rare.

"Dude, do you think the RIAA will go after us?" wondered the Joker.

He published a post on our music blog which linked up sites that offered free downloads of various albums that were on different the Best of 2007 list. Most of them neither of us would ever buy, but we're open to all kinds of music and we'll give anything a listen once, with the sole exceptions of The Shins new album. And I was surprisingly disappointed with the latest album from everyone's favorite Brooklyn hipsters and indie rockers Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah. They impressed me when I saw their set at Bonnaroo in 2006, but they failed to meet my expectations.

After the brief phone conversation with the Joker, I motivated and walked to the Greek diner. It was 45 degrees outside pushing towards the upper 40s. Those nits in Hollyweird would go apeshit at those temps, but for me, it was like a warm spring day. Perspective. The weather is all about perspective.

There are two diners that I frequent... the Greek diner and the Riverdale Diner. The Greek diner is small, closes early, and has about six or seven booths with six counter seats. The Riverdale Diner is almost open 24 hours, and functions as a massive full blown restaurant. I prefer the Greek diner better because it's much smaller and the guys have been working there for as long as I can remember. They treat you better there. Random pictures of Greece are taped to the walls behind the cash register. They are also die hard Yankees fans and have up small posters of team photos from different championship years.

The diner reeked of old lady perfume when I walked inside. Someone must have fallen into a vat of it because the pungent aroma overwhelmed the usual diner smells of bacon grease, fresh coffee, and pickle juice. It was closer to lunch time, but I got the usual breakfast sandwich... bacon, egg, and cheese on a roll. A group of old Jewish guys sat in the back booth and debated the Knicks debacle and the Clemens steroid scandal.

On the way back from the diner, I bumped into an older Irish woman who lived in my mother's building.

"Which one are you?" she asked. "Derek or Paul?"

She always confused me and my brother. I'm used to it. My own mother does it all the time. I told her I was Derek and told her, "Fuck off, old woman!"

Just kidding. I told her that I was the oldest son and I wished her a Merry Christmas.

BTroetch sent me his Best of 2007 mix and I gave it a listen while I ate my morning breakfast. It was an eclectic mix and included Radiohead, Ween, Beastie Boys, Arcade Fire, Wilco, Architecture in Helsinki, and the god-like Jens Lenkman. Good stuff. Thanks for sharing, bro.

I bought my brother an early Christmas present... The Simpsons Movie on DVD. We watched it the other night and I have yet to dig through the deleted scenes and alternative ending. I also rented Bourne Ultimatum. I caught it in Hollyweird at a Midnight showing in a packed theatre before I went to Australia in October.

I finally finished the SNL book Live from New York and I started up an book of essays from Bertrand Russell. I'm anticipating a big reading binge over the next few weeks including Chabon and Kerouac, not to mention whatever books people bought me for Christmas.

On Wednesday, I had to meet a friend in the Flat Iron District. I was early and wandered around looking for presents for family members. I walked into Barnes and Nobles and it was a zoo. I noticed that the book section is getting smaller and smaller. At that store, there's a cafe, a magazine section, a children's sections with toys, a greeting card and stationary section, a calendar section, and a massive DVD and music section. Pretty soon, Barnes and Nobles will barely be selling books. Just coffee and sex toys. The world needs more orgasms. Believe me. With all the uptight assholes I meet on a daily basis, they need to get laid more.

One more week in NYC, before I fly out to Hollyweird for a few days, including NYE. Then it's off to OZ on the first of the year.

I just heard a rare Christmas song from Miles Davis circa 1962 via Fordham U. radio. Columbia had been pressuring him to record any sort of Christmas themed song. Davis finally agreed and cut Blue Christmas: To Whom It May Concern.

On Sunday, I finally completed my Las Vegas trip reports. There are three of them.
Act I: Cowboys, Brits, and Bloggers
Act II: The Procedure and the Final Table Bubble
Act III: After Midnight
And check out my Las Vegas Flickr gallery which includes food pics.

And before you go, head over and read my brother's blog for Derek's infamous Las Vegas trip report.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

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

1. Franny and Zoey by J.D. Salinger
2. The Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
3. The Holy Bible
4. State of Fear by Michael Crichton
5. Little Earthquakes by Jennifer Weiner

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Somebody Spoke and I Went into a Dream....

By Pauly
New York City

I rolled the perfect joint. Sometimes I amaze myself. The last few before that were blah. I sat and let my mind wander as a Phish bootleg played at a medium level in the background.

The Joker posted something on our music blog about a link to a bunch of Phish bootlegs (audience recordings) from the summer of 1996. I downloaded a show from Duomo Square in Italy. They opened for Santana that summer in Europe and usually played one set. Carlos Santana would sometimes sit in with them. Obviously something happened to Phish after that summer and their encounters with Santana both onstage and off stage. The entire band elevated their playing. 1997 and 1998 stand out as some of the best years for that band's twenty plus year history. And 1996 was a stepping stone along the way.

I have been sick ever since I stepped off the plane at JFK, on a cold wet December day. Nicky caught the VegasFlu and I somehow managed to avoid getting sick... until now. The infestation got progressively worse over the weekend and hit me like a ton of bricks yesterday. I popped some cold medicine around Midnight and did my best to stay in bed for eight hours. I slept for about six (and five straight) which is a lot for me.

I felt better this morning and I woke up and got out of bed. I headed out into the old neighborhood to run errands. I had to buy stamps and the lines at the post office always irk me. The two women who work the windows are very sweet, patient, and tolerant. But it seems that whenever the line is the longest, one of them is on their scheduled break. Ah and the people who are in line with me are always the top ten most annoying and least patient individuals on the planet. Add the Christmas rush, and the post office was a zoo. Little kids ran amuck, much to the dismay of their sedated mothers or careless nannies. There were five strollers in there. Five white babies, and three brown nannies, two white mommies, and an old Russian pedophile with a cane who leered at them all.

After I survived the post office, I walked across the street and popped into see Vinny the barber. I didn't need a haircut, but I wanted to give him some shit. He was in the middle of cutting a client's hair. He stopped and walked over to shake my hand. Vinny the barber, who is in his early 60s, ran the NYC marathon a couple of months ago and had a photo of himself up on the wall.

"Vinny, I heard that the NY Racing Federation is disqualifying your results in the marathon this year for steroid abuse. It was all that HGH you were taking with Roger Clemens and Andy Pettite."

He laughed and said that Clemens was guilty and probably half the league was too.

I could not find ripe bananas this morning. The Korean grocery was out. One of the bodegas didn't have anything edible. And the supermarket had lots of green bananas. Swing and a miss, strike three. I bought skim milk and headed into the bagel store. The workers there are always swamped and probably don't get paid much. They get hassled by all the school kids or old Jewish ladies on a power trip. Anyway, they fuck up my order about one time in five. I always ask for extra butter and most of the time they don't do it. Sometimes, they give me cream cheese when I ask for butter. They give butter when I ask for cream cheese. They give me a plain bagel instead of cinnamon raisin. You get the picture. It's always something, but by the time I notice the error, it's too late and I'm home. Today they fucked up. I asked for an everything bagel with butter and I got cream cheese.

Despite the cold, after a two week layoff, I finally got back into the swing of writing in the mornings and editing in the afternoon. I cranked out two articles to cover my assignments for January while I'm away in Australia. I also completed my final article for the Swedes. I just have to tweak it a bit and then our project is complete. I started writing my column for Bluff and realized it was over 4,500 words and I still had another 1,000 or so to write. I decided to chop it up into two parts. I should be done with it later today. Although I set out to write one column, I got two in the process. Now I don't have to worry about any deadlines until the middle of February.

I have about 60 pages left in the 600 page Saturday Night Live book. I just read the section on Phil Hartman's murder and Chris Farley's OD. Both Farley and Belushi died when they were 33. So did Jesus. I outlived them all.

Skippy and Britt sent me a holiday card. Thanks buddy! Skippy sported a nice Hawaiian shirt. I only got two other Christmas cards... one from my broker in Boulder, CO and the other from an ex-girlfriend turned Jesus Freak. One just wants my money and the other thinks I'm a hedonistic sinner. I haven't figured out which one is which.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Monday Food Pic Dump

By Pauly
New York City

It's Monday and I'm starving. How about some random food pics that I took over the last two weeks in Hollyweird and in Las Vegas...

Showcase's black & white cookie from Canters

O'Groats bacon

O'Groats homefries

Bellagio's bacon omelete

Gracie bought AlCantHang bacon flavored crickets... and he ate them

Fondue from Nobhill

Flavored butter from Nobhill... the cranberry was yummy

Nicky got the Lobster pot pie at Nobhill

I ordered the kobe filet...

Dr. Jeff's dessert at Nobhill

Nicky's creme brulee at Nobhill

Chocolate Raspberry Cake

Chocolate chip pancakes from OHOP at Green Valley Ranch

Bacon from OHOP

Friedman's strawberry pancakes from OHOP

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Dead on SNL

By Pauly
New York City

This is one of my favorite You Tube videos... the Grateful Dead playing Casey Jones on Saturday Night Live on November 11, 1978...

Click here to view the Dead on SNL... via RSS or Bloglines

Man, I would have loved to be at the after party of Saturday Night Live in 1978 with the Grateful Dead. Talk about one of the most epic parties of all time. Anyway, it's a quickie version of Casey Jones. Bob Weir plated slide guitar and that made me laugh. Phil Lesh chilled out in the background and Keith Godchaux sported the shades indoors. Jerry showed touches of grey in the video... just about the same time he started using heroin. I love how long Donna Jean's hair is... down to her ass.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

hollyweird > nyc

By Pauly
New York City

I woke up early again and wrote for a bit in the dining room with the windows open while I listened to some Cream and Traffic. GMoney hooked me up with their greatest hits and I got reaquainted with a lot of their lesser known work. Nicky finally woke up and looked a lot better than she had been the previous few days while she wrestled with the VegasFlu. But she wasn't well enough to venture outside.

I walked down the street to Nick's and sat at the counter. I tip very well there so they all know me. I get top notch service and got served before a table of LA cops who were there before me. I ordered a breakfast sandwich even though it can't compare to the Greek diner in NYC. They do their best and it's served on wheat toast instead of a kaiser roll. I read a poker strategy book at the counter while I waited.

Nicky requested a chocolate shake to soothe her sore throat and I got one to go because I'm such a loving and caring boyfriend... hahahhaha.

I did a load of laundry and watched Mean Streets. Man, I forgot how much I loved that flick. Johnny Boy is one of Bobby DeNiro's best characters. I also forgot that one of the main characters ended up playing Richie Aprile in The Soprano over twenty years later.

I played some online poker in the late afternoon. I started out hot and then cooled off.Eventually Nicky felt better and wanted to grab a quick bite before she drove me to the airport. We decided on Canter's so she could get soup.

Our waiter was very gay, most likely an out-of-work actor from Nebraska or something with his corn-fed good looks and polite manners. I ordered a pastrami on a kaiser roll. Their chocolate cupcakes are yummy and I got one for dessert. We picked up a black and white cookie for Showcase.

There are always homeless people hanging out in front or near Canter's. One bum tapped out a bowl in front of Canter's parking lot. I could recognize that distinct sound anywhere. Everyone is a pot fiend in Hollyweird.

We stopped off at 7-11 on our way home to load up on supplies.

"I'm so sick of LA people. I need to get drunk," a hipster grumbled as he exited 7-11.

That was the quote of the day. Sometimes I feel his pain.

It took 90 minutes to get the airport due to Friday traffic. When I finally got there, I played online poker at Long Beach airport with Daddy, Iggy, Aussie Garth, and Donkey Puncher. I was early by two hours and killed some time since the airport is very small with only four gates and two flights were scheduled to depart my gate before my flight, so that area was packed.

I'm not a fan of red eyes and only take them if it is absolutely necessary. Since I had to change my flight at the last minute due to the weather, I had no choice.

The last time I flew a domestic red eye was at the end of March when I flew Las Vegas to NYC. Then had to return to the airport nine hours later for my flight to Monte Carlo via Madrid and Nice. That was one of the most brutal legs of travel I experienced this year. Lucky for me, it was just a quick five hour flight from the coast to coast.

I bought ESPN magazine at the newsstand. I had been trying to avoid any sort of mainstream media, including magazines (aside from the poker rags that I thumbed through in Las Vegas). Joba Chamberlin from the Yankees was on the cover so naturally I picked it up. Of course, I got duped and the article was a short piece. Bastards.

I didn't have much choice of seats. I originally had a middle seat and got the last window seat. I had not been taking pharmies since my flight back from Oz. Since the Xannies would help me sleep, I took one just before take off.

I passed out and woke up somewhere over western Pennsylvania. We were less than forty minutes from NYC and I was out for four hours.

I didn't have to pick up nay bags since I traveled super light and only took the clothes on my back and my laptop. I got lucky and there was no one in line at the taxi stand. It took less than 25 minutes to get me home.

I thumbed through some mail and put it aside. I crashed for another four hours, from 7am to 11am. which is rare. But I welcomed the sleep. When I woke up, I tore into a pile of mail and magazines.

Friday, December 14, 2007


By Pauly

I'm always up early and settled into the chair at the dining room table next to the window. As soon as I opened it up, the cool (yet polluted) Southern California air rushed inside the apartment. Sometimes I pluck a book off of Nicky's shelf and sit on the steps outside in the alleyway catching random rays of sunshine. But most of the time, I sit down and write for a while.

Eventually the neighbors upstairs wake up for work and I can hear their shower running. They finish their morning routine and shut the door before they rumble down the stairs and start the car for the morning rat race. I'm glad that I don't have a 9-5 job and I'm super happy that I don't have to fight an LA commute.

The extended time in LA threw me for a loop. I wasn't prepared to do nothing when I had pretty much planned out the remaining days of the year in NYC before I headed to Australia. Nicky was still sick, so we couldn't actually head out anywhere. Lucky for me, I can entertain myself. I caught up on reading and listening to a slew of new music that the Joker had linked up on our music blog, including some Bob Marley remixes and a bootleg recording of the Led Zeppelin reunion concert in London.

I wrote a lot and tried to patch up my weary bones after a five day bender in Las Vegas. I lost my voice at some point on Sunday and that has been slowly coming back to me. I also put on six of the 15 pounds I lost in NYC. I went for a few walks, which is odd in LA, since the only people who are walking... are walking to their cars. Definitely did some serious damage to my body during this trip. But I had a blast and it was totally worth it. But like the Key West trip, I figured it would take a week before my body returned to normal status.

Nicky felt good enough for brunch at O'Groats. We passed by striking writers picketing in front of the Fox lot. About 55% of them were yapping on their cellphones. We were stopped in front of a light and the picket line walked by us. Nicky honked in honor of her support and we drove on.

I played a lot of online poker since I got back from Vegas. I ran great in Vegas and won a few bucks. I hoped that winning streak would continue online, but that never happened. Was down $1,200 at one point inside of a 24 hour stretch. I wasn't playing very good and when I finally got my shit together and stopped the bleeding, the damage was done. Since that ugly point, I've won a little of it back.

A former Broadway actress stopped by the apartment along with her roommate during one of my sessions. She was friends with Showcase and helped him walk dogs, because when actors aren't working in Hollyweird, they are broke and need money. She noticed that I was playing online poker.

"Like, are you playing poker for money? Like real money?"

I had over $1,100 on the virtual table at the time. I was up $100. By the time the girls left, I was down $50. They were nice girls, but were unlucky.

We drove Swingers around 9pm for dinner last night and the place was overrun by hipsters, like always. The waitresses dress like slutty chicks and that's always a bonus. They're like rock and roll dirty and not plastic dirty. They look like the type of chick that will knock back a shot of tequila before they blow you in an alley while you smoke a joint.

With Nicky sick, I've had to entertain myself the last few days. I watched a lot of movies on cable. I finally watched Apocalypto from beginning to end. Kinda violent, but OK. I was super disappointed with The Last Kiss. I swoon over Rachel Bilson but I had to sit through a Zach Braf movie. That's what they make enemy combatants in secret CIA prisons watch in order to torture them. The only reason I endured that sort of abuse was Rachel Bilson. Nicky and I watched it on demand. As soon as I remembered that I could rewind and forward, I took advantage of that option. At one point, I skipped every single Zach Braf scene that he was in without Rachel Bilson. That was the only way I could watch it. Not one nipple shot from Bilson. Boooooooo. What a waste of my time.

Waiting... was a nice surprise. Lots of random funny moments in a quirky comedy about a dysfunctional crew that works in a chain restaurant. Plus I'll watch any flick with Luis Guzman in it. Dane Cook was in it too and didn't realize it was him until the end credits. I'm one of those people who think that Dane Cook is overrated as a comedian, but I thought he was good in the flick.

Nicky was fast asleep when I watched Cocaine Kings. Showcase had stumbled home drunk in the middle of the documentary about the Miami drug trade. When he saw what I was watching, he blurted out, "God, I wish I had some cocaine."

So did I. Especially after they kept showing cocaine non-stop during the documentary. Kilos and kilos of it. Man, all I wanted to do was get high! About ten minutes after Showcase passed out from drinking too much, he ran into the bathroom and puked a couple of times. Nice.

Last 5 Flicks I Watched on Cable...
1. Little Miss Sunshine
2. Waiting...
3. The Last Kiss
4. Cocaine Cowboys
5. Apocalypto

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Still in California

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

JetBlue sent me an email suggesting that I change my flight to NYC. A big storm was a brewin' and they encouraged their customers to change their flights... free of charge before the storm hit. I opted to leave on Friday night instead of this afternoon. Of course like most storms, this one was overhyped by the weatherarti and I could have flown without any issues.

The bad news is that I had a lot of work I wanted to get done in NYC and finish up last minute Christmas shopping. The good news is that its 65 degrees in sunny California and you can't put a price tag on lovely weather. So I've taken it in stride and have been enjoying my extra time in Hollyweird.

The last couple of days have been tough since Nicky has been sick. Nicky got ill on our last day in Las Vegas. It's a combination of something we call the VegasFlu. A lot of our friends get it after a long bender in Sin City. All the partying, smoking, and dry dessert air contributes to a sickly environment. Nicky got nailed and she got worse since our return to Hollyweird. Me? I lost my voice by Sunday afternoon and could barely talk on Monday and Tuesday. It's a little better now, but fortunate for me, I avoided the VegasFlu. After all, I was sick for over two weeks in NYC before Vegas.

I posted two parts of a trip report over at my poker blog. There's some funny stuff in there and I encourage you to head over there to read it, especially sine it's only has a little gambling content and a lot of random Vegas weirdness.
Act I: Cowboys, Brits, and Bloggers
Act II: The Procedure and the Final Table Bubble
And check out my Las Vegas Flickr gallery which includes food pics.

I spent this morning on the phone with my Las Vegas hotel and my credit card company. I was fined for "room damages" because supposedly I trashed my suite. I wasn't happy that they charged my room without telling me. I was livid when they left me on hold for over 35 minutes and then failed to specifically tell me what happened.

I guess that was my Keith Moon moment of the month. Bastards.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

I'm back from a five day bender in Las Vegas. And yes, I am hurting all over. I crashed at 11pm last night and woke up at 7am. It wasn't a straight sleep, but I stayed in bed for eight straight hours. For me that's a ton of sleep. I don't think I got 8 total for the entire trip.

Gracie posted pics of me eating broccoli at the Bellagio for hard cold cash.

It was a fun trip and I got to see a lot of my friends. I made a few new ones along the way. And the best part? I won enough money to cover the entire trip.

I will eventually write everything up and add photos to my Flickr page.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Rooster Wins Holiday Classic in Las Vegas

By Pauly
Las Vegas

Somewhere around 10am on Sunday morning, I interviewed the Rooster about his victory in the annual poker bloggers championship in Las Vegas. I must have watched this 100 times and at the end I almost always piss my pants because it's so friggin' hilarious. Check it out...

Click here to view the Rooster interview via RSS or Bloglines....

Congrats again to the Rooster.

In case you were wondering, out of 120+ players, I came in 11th place. I won some prize money but not much. Nicky made the final table and she came in 9th place.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

hollyweird > las vegas

By Pauly
Las Vegas

I had another restless night and woke up at 5am. Couldn't go back to sleep so I wrote until sunrise. When Nicky eventually woke up, we headed down the street to Nick's for breakfast. I went with their version of a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich on wheat toast.

After breakfast, we packed and loaded up the car. We traveled super light, and all this recent traveling has made Nicky into a light packer. She used to bring a few bags to Vegas for a weekend jaunt. Those days are over!

However, since Nicky is a California pothead, she totally spaced on a few things. As we pulled out of the driveway and drove about ten feet up the street, she screamed, "Awww, shit!"

She turned the car back around and ran inside. She forgot her cash, which is a necessity in Las Vegas.

Take 2. We drove a few blocks and gassed up the car before we went on the freeway. That's when she realized that she forgot her coat. Sigh. We drove back and got the coat.

Take 3. We were behind schedule 20 total minutes. Lucky for us, we missed any congestion getting out of LA. In fact we made it to Las Vegas in less than four hours including one piss stop in Baker. The drive went by so fast, that all of a sudden we were at the Nevada state line. Time flew.

We checked into the Bellagio. Nicky had won the media tournament at the WPT Championships in April. Part of the first place prize package was a free room at the Bellagio and a free diner at any of their restaurants. The room was super swanky with marble floors and a bathroom bigger than most NYC studio apartments.

While Nicky got ready for dinner, I headed down to the sportsbook. I put a bet on the fight. All my British friends keep telling me that Hatton is gonna whoop Mayweather. So I threw down $100. Just enough to keep me interested in the fight.

For dinner, we decided on Craft Steak, which is a high end steak joint at MGM instead of Michael Mina's joint at the Bellagio. We had a $600 credit and went to work right away with an expensive bottle of wine. $125. It was probbaly worth about $50 but all wines are grossly marked up.

For starters, I went with prosciutto and it melted in your mouth. Nicky ordered some sort of yellowfin tuna dish and that also melted in your mouth. We both ordered the same thing for our main course. It was a 10 oz. Waygu Kobe filet. It cost $110. I never had a steak cost that much! We first tasted Waygu in Australia, and we discovered that it's top of the line Kobe that is raised in Australia, then flown back to Japan. Amazing.

The sides were a mushroom mix and a potato and leeks gratin. Since it was a classy joint, I didn't bust out my camera. We ordered two desserts and shared them. One was a chocolate molten cake with hot chocolate insides and served with ice cream. The other was something called cinnamon monkey bread. Also pretty yummy.

We didn't spend the entire comp and I was surprised that they didn't allow us to comp the bottle of wine! Had I know that booze was not included, we would have gone for a cheaper bottle. Alas, we had a $500 meal for like $140 plus tip. Good stuff.

After dinner, a few friends had arrived in town. We showed Maudie our swanky room at the Bellagio, and walked around the flower conservatory in the lobby. Then we met up with Gracie and Sweet Sweet Pablo at the Imperial Palace. They arrived in town shortly before Midnight and we knocked back drinks at the bar.

When Nicky and I left the Imperial Palace around 2am, the entire Strip was empty. I dunno if I have seen Las Vegas so... desolate. It's weird. I actually like it less crowded.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

82 Degrees in December

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

It was 82 degrees at one point on Tuesday. Lucky SoCal fuckers.

I wrote for about two hours in the morning then played online poker. I won a bit and logged off. Nicky eventually woke up and we drove to O'Groats for breakfast. We passed a slew of striking writers who were picketing in front of Fox. At O'Groats, we didn't have to wait for a table. I ordered my usual French toast, bacon, and home fries with iced tea. I write this phrase every time I go to O'Groats... because it's so true.... best French toast in Hollyweird. Hands down.

I went to the bank to withdraw money for a week in Las Vegas. ATMs give you $50 bills and $20 bills and $50 bills are bad luck so I go on mega tilt when I get an odd $50 bill from an ATM. Even if I took out cash at the ATM, I'd have to go inside to the bank and ask them to change the $50s. So I skipped the ATM and filled out a withdraw slip and stood in line. That took twenty minutes. That's how long I stood in line. I wanted to die, because I was first in line the entire time!! There were only two windows open and both customers were special needs and required a ton of attention. My transaction took less then two minutes. That's why I was irked that I had to wait twenty for a simple transaction.

The bank played Christmas music when I walked in. As I waited in line, the song changed to Suspicious Minds by Elvis. Fitting, I thought.

We went to the Grove to do some shopping. Nicky wanted to buy me a cashmere sweater for Christmas. I objected and she persisted. We didn't get it, thank God.

I went home and took a nap. Slept for like twenty minutes. Then I did a load of laundry and played more online poker. I bought a couple of presents online. Showcase came home and mentioned that it was Chanukah. He lit his Jewish candles. He wanted Nicky to get a Christmas tree. We agreed to pick one up when we get back from Vegas. Last year, I got to tag along while they bought a tree for the apartment.

I made a couple of phone calls before dinner including a call to Otis to wish him a happy birthday. I said something to the effect that he needed to stop being a pussy and he should pull the tampon out of his ass or something heart-felt like that.

I wrote something on Tao of Poker called Pusherman, which touches on addictions in America. Check it out.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

nyc > hollyweird

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

I almost had a perfect travel day. I actually slept the night before my flight. I woke up very rested and on time. The car service I called for was downstairs waiting for me (five minutes before the scheduled pick up). My usual driver who looks like Big Pussy from The Sopranos was not working. I had a chatty older Puerto Rican guy who was happy that all the late night rain washed away the snow from the day before.

There was light traffic to JFK. I used a self check-in kiosk which took thirty seconds to spit out my boarding pass. Security lines were about average and the line I picked went as fast as possible. All I took with me were the clothes on my back, and my laptop, cell, and camera. Oh and a book to read and two copies of the manuscript. I left most of my gear at Nicky's before I came home to NYC for Turkey Day. It felt great to travel very light.

I bought a chocolate croissant and a power bar. That was the longest line I found myself in all day. Two cute British girls stood in front of me and kept asking me about the different coins, like how a dime is smaller than a nickel.

I continued my media blackout and skipped buying any newspapers or magazines, although I wandered through the magazine section and I marveled at all the tabloids. I bought a water and took some Airborne, which they gave away free at the check-in kiosk.

I wandered over to my gate and read for an hour before it was my turn to board. That was an easy and orderly process. My plane was full and the only empty seat was next to me in between my aisle seat and the middle-aged suit at the window seat who read a book called The World Without Us. The flight left on time and arrived exactly on time. No crying babies. No smelly people. No distractions.

I read Texas Poker Wisdom, a novel by Johnny Hughes, during my flight. Hughes referenced Tao of Poker in his book. One of the characters mentioned that they read my poker blog. Super cool! And it was a great and quick read with rich characters. I will write a review next week. I finished his book somewhere over Nevada, which I thought was fitting.

I almost always watch TV on JetBlue flights, but I couldn't put down Johnny Hughes' book. When I completed it, I watched a little TV, mostly ESPN to catch up on the football scores and see who made it into the BCS. Then for the rest of the flight, I watched a little Food Network.

When I landed in Long Beach, I picked up some more frequent flier points. I have one free roundtrip flight in the can, and I'm just four more cross country flights away from getting another free round trip ticket. I should reach that when I fly back to NYC after a trip Australia. I used to rack up free flights on JetBlue when I worked more out of Las Vegas. I have been skipping Vegas assignments for overseas ones which means a lot less time on JetBlue and more time on airlines like KLM and Quantas. Regardless, by March, I should have two free roundtrip flights on JetBlue.

Nicky picked me up at the airport and was dressed very warmly in a hoodie and Uggs. It was 72 degrees and she said it was chilly. Unreal. SoCal folks have no concept of chilly and cold. We listened to some Widespread Panic bootlegs on the drive to her apartment.

I caught up on some old episodes of Weeds and finally saw the last show of the season. We also watched a chunk of a four hour documentary on Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers that was on the Sundance Channel. Good stuff. It seemed to be on forever.

We went to Canter's for dinner with Showcase. Nicky and Showcase proceeded to sing show tunes on the entire drive from Beverly Hills to Canter's. I almost jumped out of a speeding car. Utter torture. We ate during halftime of the football game. I had not been to Canter's in over a year. It's one of the few late night restaurants in all of LA. I ordered a grilled cheese and a knish. And for dessert, Showcase ate a black and white cookie, while Nicky and I opted for the chocolate cupcakes. Yummy.

After dinner, I watched the Patriots come from behind on Monday Night Football to keep their undefeated streak alive, before I caught the last episode of Heroes. I liked the first season, but this year is not as good.

It's weird being in some place warm during Christmas season. Doesn't feel like Christmas. The only way I know is from the random decorations and the Christmas music on the radio.

Now it's 6am and I can't sleep. Passed out around 1am and woke up at 5am. Laid in bed for an hour before I got up to read. Maybe I'll post some pics if I can't fall back asleep.


It's 7:20am and I uploaded a few pics.

Chocolate cupcakes from Canters

Sign in Canter's parking lot

NYC reading list....

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Snow Day?

By Pauly
New York City

Wait, it snowed while I slept? I never saw that coming, mainly because I had been avoiding the media and news. Luckily it turns into rain at some point and hopefully it won't affect my flight to Hollyweird.

I have been sick for 15 days. I have not been able to shake the bug, no matter what I try. Yesterday was the worst I've felt since my return to NYC. I got extremely frustrated because I had a lot of work to do and only got a small percentage of it done. I took a nap in the afternoon but that didn't help.

I was really looking forward for this time all year long. I busted my ass on so many different assignments and had to deal with bullshit business travel and wasted so many hours in security lines and checking in and out of hotels and stuck in taxi lines and sitting around in unknown airports while my flights were delayed. So when I finally get time to myself... I get sick. This was supposed to be the time when I really stepped up my writing game, instead I have been operating on 74% capacity and everything I wrote is not at the level I expected. And it's hard as balls to write with a nasal drip. My laptop is covered in snot because I'd rather keep writing and get the thoughts down that wipe my nose.

Now I have to fly out to the Left Coast for ten days which breaks up whatever writing rhythm I got myself into. Then I come back for two weeks but there's Christmas stuck in the middle of that and I have to pre-write a ton of shit before I leave for Australia/New Zealand for a month. In short, I'm pissed that my vacation was ruined by a lingering cold.

However, I penned a solid 32,000 words, even though I wasn't physically up to the task. I'm showing it to a friend in the movie business on Monday and hopefully I won't get laughed out of that town.

The only other good news is that I cranked out two pieces for the Swedes and only have one more piece to write and our project is done.

The Joker got hooked up with all these links to different soundboards from over a dozen Widespread Panic shows from their fall tour. He posted the links over at Phish blog and if you are a Spreadhead, then go enjoy yourself with a ton of yummy music. I have been listening to several shows non-stop and that has been soothing my soul. Oh, and we had a banner month at the live music and Phish blog! We had 27 posts on 25 different days in November. I'm glad that the Joker got fired up to post and he provided a ton of content over the last few weeks, which allowed me more time to work on other projects.

OK, I don't have much more time to write. I have to finish up Truckin' and then I have to work on a post for Tao of Poker and make a copy of my current writing project to bring with me to Hollyweird... and fuck, I almost forgot to do my football picks before the games start at 1pm.

Ah, since I dropped 15 pounds over the last few weeks, I ate breakfast twice today. I was up by 8am and went for an everything bagel with butter. Then I grabbed a bacon, egg, and cheese from the Greek diner.