Sunday, March 30, 2008

Wait... Three Days?

By Pauly
Las Vegas

Has it been three days since I posted? I guess so. I always lose time when I'm on Las Vegas and Tao of Pauly languishes.

I guess you can say that I'm having a blast. The last two months (really the last ten weeks) have been spectacular. I haven't worked a real assignment since mid-January so this feels like summer vacation for me. And the trip to Vegas is like the last blowout before the summer ends and the school term begins.

Sometimes I have so many stories to tell that I don't know where to start. But most of them are non-blogable. I'd rather respect my friends privacy and avoid publishing things that are overly self-incriminating. Besides, I'm saving everything for a book.

When I return to New York it's serious writing time. My goal is to be cranking out 5K words a day and running 5 miles a day. Five and five. Let's see if my brain and body can handle both. I'll be blogging everywhere in April. Tao of Pauly. Tao of Poker. Coventry. Truckin'. Las Vegas Blog. Maybe even some other places.

It's Sunday morning in Las Vegas and it's time to get one last day of gambling in before I drive back to Hollyweird on Monday night.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The First 30

By Pauly
Las Vegas

I woke up at 5:05am to get ready to drive from Hollyweird to Las Vegas. I had the car packed and I was ready to leave by 5:37. Nicky decided to sit this trip out and she didn't go but was kind enough to loan me her car to drive to Vegas.

I made great time escaping Los Angeles city limits. I hate driving in L.A., but before 6am the freeways are almost empty. If it weren't for an accident in Victorville, I might have been able to do the trip in about 3.5 hours.

I arrived at Las Vegas airport at 10:05am. Senor's flight landed at 10:14am. Talk about perfect timing. Turtle's flight landed about twenty minutes later. I had not seen him in years. We go back, way back, to our old college days. We also used to raise hell together in NYC in the late 90s.

I drove Senor and Turtle to Red Rock Casino, where we had booked rooms. My room wasn't ready yet, but they got in. We grabbed a quick bite. They went to play golf and I opted out. If I had more time, I would have, but I had to pick up Derek at the airport and I wanted to play some poker.

Derek's flight from NYC was slightly delayed and by the time he got in, our room at Red Rock was ready. We checked in and headed straight to the poker room. We were seated at the same table, before we were both moved to the same table. I had a bad day. I didn't play very well and made a couple of mistakes. Combine that with a lot of bad luck and I had an awful session. The only big pot that I won? I got lucky too.

I lost about $400 and couple have lost more. Senor and Turtle returned at the perfect time. We grabbed a quick bite and then started drinking. The next thing I know, we're in a taxi headed to Spearmint Rhino.

The Rhino was packed for a Wednesday night. Turtle and Derek had never been before. I took Senor for the first time almost three years ago. We went with Grubby and made up fake names and occupations, something we still do to this day.

One stripper with watermelon boobs wandered over. She asked me what I did for a living.

"You're looking at it," I said.

We found a table that had an interesting location. It was prime spot for strippers to stop by and hard-sell you on a table dance or a trip to the VIP room. However, since we were in the middle of the fly zone for strippers, we were constantly bombarded.

Turtle knew better not to tell the girls what he did for a living, but he was pretty sloshed and didn't care.

"So what do you do?" she asked.

"I'm an attorney on Wall Street," he answered.

"That's hot, Daddy!" was her response.

Over the course of the night, I told strippers that I worked in professions that my friends actually did in real life. A wedding DJ. A slot machine designer. A software engineer. Band manager. Classics professor. Even a professional keno player.

One nubile blonde took a liking to me and kept asking me questions about what I do.

"I get paid to write endless drivel."

She didn't know what drivel meant. I substituted, "I'm an entertainment hack."

She said that her name was "Ali." I always say, "Cute name, but what's your real name?"

"It's just shortened," she said. "My real name is Allison."

"I don't believe you."

"I'll prove it," she said as she dug through her tiny purse and dug out a California driver's license. Sure enough, she was in fact an Allison had a Pasedena address. I glimpsed at her birthdate.


"Happy belated birthday," I said.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Jizz F. Kennedy

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

The old governor of New York liked to fuck prostitutes. High class whores too, not chubby interns like Slick Willy, or rubs and tugs from Asian chicks from the ads in the back of the Village Voice.

The new governor? Well he's already admitted to extra-marital affairs and most recently? He admitted to smoking pot and snorting cocaine. He's a man of the people and he's blind.

Only in America.

In California, Governor Terminator used to be a action-adventure movie star who most likely had shruken testicles due to all of his steroid abuse in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The former mayor of Washington DC was even caught buying and smoking crack on tape.

And let's not forget about all those skirt chasers, drunks, money launderers, and dope fiends that hard working Americans elected to represent them in Washington.

I read somewhere in some tabloid, either the Weekly World News or the Washington Post, that Spitzer had unusual sexual tastes. He preferred to not wear a condom and like to have sex with his socks on.

The socks I'll let slide. But the lack of a condom? With a high priced hooker? We hated Spitzer on Wall Street during his Draconian reign as attorney general. I didn't vote him into office in Albany when he won the Gubernatorial race. And I really don't care if he fucks hookers in his spare time. But nailing hookers without condoms is just dirty. Very dirty. Spitzer is such a dirt dick.

I wonder if JFK wore a condom when he was drilling holes into Marilyn Monroe. Or did he pull out and jizz all over her luscious tits?

* * * * *

I forgot how much I enjoyed waking up early and sitting down at Nicky's dining room table to write while I played a Jerry Garcia Band bootleg. I opened up the window and let the sun rush in and the early morning air swirl around the stuffy apartment before the air gets more polluted once every wakes up and drives their metal coffins to work.

Everything was quiet, except for the can fairies rummaging through the garbage bins in the adjacent alley.

Showcase emerged around 8am to get ready for work. He returned thirty minutes later with an adorable little dog, one of the many he had to take care of during the day.

I wrote until 9am when I went on a short walk through the neighborhood and over to the post office. When Nicky woke up we headed to Nick's for breakfast. There were no empty tables and we sat at the counter, which I don't mind doing because I love watching the Mexican guys cook. They are true artists and cranked out twenty or thirty different orders in a short time. I watched them whip up different breakfast dishes including traditional favorites like steak and eggs or a stack of pancakes. The few interesting dishes included strawberry and banana French Toast and a Jalapeno and bacon omelete.

I had been wanting to see Charlie Bartlett since it came out. Nicky had no idea it existed when I suggested different flicks we could see. I told her that we saw the trailer at least once during a previous trip to the movie theatre.

Here's the trailer...

Click through to Tao of Pauly to view the video via RSS...

It's a flick that reminded me of a John Hughes 1980s suburban angst film meets Dazed and Confused. Charlie Bartlett is a Ferris Bueller type character who got kicked out of prep school and forced to attend public school. He wins over the student populous by become their therapist and holds sessions in a bathroom stall. He even dispenses prescription pills... which he would get from a slew of psychiatrists that his mother insists that he sees.

As much as it was a high school kids rebel and gets wasted movie, there are several serious undertones about the negative influence the psychiatric field and pharmaceutical industry has on our teenagers... and why our society says some drugs are bad but other ones are good.

We caught the flick in the Beverly Center and we were the only two people in the theatre! That has never happened to me before. Nicky was pleasantly surprised with the flick. She dug Robert Downey Jr.'s performance as the principal.

After the flick, I received an email from the editor of one of my magazine clients. I always cringe the second or two before I read emails from editors. I always expect the worst. Lucky for me... it was good news. The deadline for the next issue was pushed back five days! I wrote a first draft that sucked and I figured I would write a second draft the night before it was due. The extension is exactly what I needed to help write a better piece.

Then I had a brilliant idea to write about a different topic. I hated my first draft of my column so much that I'd rather kill it and start over from scratch. Anyway, the editor loved the idea that I pitched and I got the green light. Now I can enjoy my time in Las Vegas without worrying about my impending deadline.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

jfk >burbank

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

I took a Xanax on Easter night and managed almost six straight hours of sleep. A small miracle. I even missed two text messages and two phone calls during my deep slumber. I never sleep through the sound of my phone ringing unless I turn the ringer off. The pharmies worked.

I woke up refreshed and packed the last 5% of my stuff. I got a call five minutes before the car service was supposed to arrive. It was the company telling me that the driver was downstairs. I didn't get my usual driver. It was a different guy. We didn't talk much, which was fine by me. I was too baked for chit chat. All he did was listen to the radio on the way to the airport.

And it was a beautiful morning. The sun poked its way through the sky and spewed various orange, yellow, red, and pink colors. It was around 6:05am, but Manhattan seemed so quiet and peaceful.

We arrived at JFK in 35 minutes. No traffic. But I gave the driver a $15 tip anyway. Mostly for leaving me alone.

Security line was backed up. As usual. I eventually got through with no problems. I grabbed a croissant and a water. I had well over an hour to kill. I read the newspaper and sat down at a different gate and people watched. Most people at airports take more shit than they really need to be taking.

* * * * *

"Could you hold this for me for just a sec?"

I glanced at the her engagement ring as she handed me her purple overcoat. An anxious line of passengers waited as she nervously shoved a generic black carry-on bag into the overhead compartment. I handed her the purple overcoat and she tossed it into the empty seat by the window.

She was in her late 20s and looked like the actress from the Scary Movie flicks. For a second I considered that it very well could be that same actress. After all, I was on a JetBlue plane bound for Burbank, California where most of the Hollywood corporate offices were located and where the studios churned out artistic feces for mass consumption. My brother once sat next to a random actress on a JetBlue flight from Las Vegas to New York City. Why couldn't that be happening to me?

I had been sitting in the aisle seat and stood up so she could scoot by. I realized that she wasn't that actress and simply a random chick who looked like someone famous. She plopped down a stack of magazines in the empty seat between us. Bridal magazines dominated the stack. She also slid a Lonely Planet travel guide for Bali into the seat pocket in front of her.

"Lemme guess," I said. "Honeymoon in Bali?"

She smiled and picked up the guide book. "How did you know?" she said as she fanned out the pages in a dramatic fashion like a game show hostess.

"Bali. Now that's a very romantic location. Magnificent and ravishing in the same breath. You're going to have the time of your life. Just don't go during the rainy season and keep your eyes open if you go to Kuta. Fundamentalist Islamic terrorists target tourists there. Especially Americans."

The once smile unfurled into puzzled look that quickly morphed into panic. That's when it hit me. At some future date, that young woman was going to walk down the aisle and gamble the rest of her life on a coin flip. Marriages in America these days are coin flips because about 50% of them end in divorce. Plus, she was about to take the biggest gamble of them all and book her honeymoon in a resort town that was bombed twice since 2002.

My flight was full with a handful of L.A. Douchebags and other industry types. There was so much botox on our plane that I thought the plane was going to explode over a corn field in Iowa.

I watched my new favorite show Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares. Or is it Disasters? Anyway, he got on the main chef's case for mixing salmon and strawberries in a salad. He only made it because his girlfriend thought it was be a great idea.

I watched a bit of Rattle and Hum on VH1-Classic. Wow, I'm starting to get old if U2 is considered Oldies music.

My flight managed to be a few minutes early. Nicky was still driving up Laurel Canyon when I called her from the tarmac. By the time it took my luggage to get spit out twenty-eight minutes later, Nicky was pulling up to the curb at Bob Hope Airport. Perfect timing.

We grabbed a quick lunch at Mexicali, one of my favorite restaurants in L.A., even though it's located in Studio City, which is technically The Valley. Nicky loathes going to The Valley, but Burbank is a little closer than Long Beach so she sucks it up.

While we drove out of the parking lot, I started to think, "Wow there's a lot of fake tits today."

Then I remembered that I was in the shadows of Hollyweird.

When we got back to the apartment, the girl next door was practicing her singing. She pays the bills waiting tables and spends her free afternoons singing. Her talent falls somewhere in between a sensational happy hour karaoke singer and American Idol finalist. She might have been the hottest and most talented girl from her hometown in Wisconsin, but in Hollyweird, she's just another waitress.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Sunday Mornings

By Pauly
New York City

When I was really young, like seven or eight years old, I hated Sunday mornings because my father would wake my ass up and drag me to church. I used to pretend to be asleep or come up with a dozen excuses why I didn't want to go to 9:30am mass. My mother didn't go and I used to cite that as a reason why I did not have to go. My father vaguely explained that she had to stay at home and watch my brother, but that excuse grew paper thin as my brother got older.

My mother has never been a religious person and rarely attended church. She often said that the ones sitting in the first rows in church were often the biggest sinners in the parish and they were only going to church to keep up appearances. Years later, my politically ambitious uncle would be among the hypocrites sitting in the front row. The rest of the family grew more and more disenfranchised with the Catholic church and we started sitting farther and farther away, until we all stopped attending services.

I guess it was that twenties-ridden-angst or the fact that every Gen Xer rejected their parent's religion, but I couldn't even handle cafeteria Catholicism. For almost a decade, the only time I stepped foot in a church was for a wedding. That abruptly ended and a morose trend began with a slew of empty coffin 9.11 funerals. Since then, it seems that the only times I stepped inside a church is for a funeral.

I also have a suit that I call the Grim Reaper suit. For a while, I only wore it at funerals and weddings. And at the five weddings I wore the suit (between 1997 and 2001), only one marriage lasted. That's a 80% failure rate. I'm afraid to wear that suit to anything but a funeral.

In the fourth grade I became an altar boy and my stance on church changed drastically. All of a sudden I looked forward to Sunday mornings. For a while, I'd get up early and serve the 8am mass so I could enjoy the rest of my Sunday.

The late 1970s and early 1980s where the dark ages as far as computers and the internet. My only relationship with the outside world were the Sunday papers. There was the local paper which came with the Sunday comics. Then there was the massive pile of newsprint called the Sunday Times. My father would slowly sift through the pile. The older I got, the more sections I read. Little did I know that an innocuous Sunday tradition were the origins of part of the reason I am a writer today, as I read about subjects that I was eons away from comprehending, like the fall of the Shah in Iran or the energy crisis.

When I lived in Atlanta during college, NBC used to broadcast doubledheader NBA games. That was back in the mid-1990s during the NY Knicks halcyonian years with Pat Riley at the helm. The almost always played the noon game. We had a routine where we'd watch the games in Jerry's room. He and I were among the smattering Knicks fans in our fraternity house, which seemed to be dominated by Bulls and Sixers fans. Sometimes he'd get a big crowd for the Knicks game and it would be standing room only. And of course, the peanut gallery almost always the majority rooted against the Knicks.

My favorite part of Sunday was what we did before the games started. Either Rib or Jerry would wake me up at 11am. I'd be wicked hungover and they'd drive me to McDonalds. That was back in the days when you could eat like a king for $3. We quickly devoured our fast food, washing them down with cheap beer and bong hits before tip off. I loved Sundays when I lived in Atlanta.

When I lived in Seattle, I held four crappy jobs and had to work on Sundays at the museum. Most of the time, I got baked in the parking lot and just stood around making sure the post-church and post-brunch crowd kept their grubby mitts off the paintings. Sunday nights were the fun times. My friends and/or housemates would gather in my room for bingers and a viewing of The Simpsons and the X-Files.

And at the beginning of the 21st century, when I lived in New York City, I had a Sunday routine with my brother during the autumn months where we religiously watched the Jets games. I'd arrive at his apartment at noon with bagels, just in time to watch the pre-game NFL shows. We'd do last minute adjustments to our fantasy football rosters, make a last minute pick on our sheets, or get a bet it just before kickoff at the 1pm game.

A Sunday routine has been void from my life the last few years. I kinda miss that. What I don't miss is the dreaded Sunday Night Blues.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

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

By PaulyNew York City

It has been a while since I posted the latest installment. Here you go.

Last 5 Books I Saw People Reading on the Subway...
1. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
2. The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever by Christopher Hitchens
3. The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon
4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling
5. The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Friday, March 21, 2008

Sloth Thursday

By Pauly
New York City

I was exhausted by the time midnight rolled around. I had been partying hard for twelve straight hours. I barely got off my brother's couch as I watched non-stop college basketball.

The day started out super early, with a run, a writing session, and a load of laundry. I stopped by the Greek diner for a breakfast sandwich. I love it when I walk in and the old guy behind the counter says, "The usual?"

The usual is a breakfast sandwich... bacon, egg, and cheese on a kaiser roll. I have been limiting myself to one of those a week. I could eat two a day if I strayed from my current diet. Those are so damn tasty and the bacon melts in your mouth.

Yesterday, the Rooster asked me if it felt good to be back in New York. I told him about the incident in the diner, and how I miss that aspect of NYC the most. I could be away for weeks or months, but as soon as I pop into the diner, the old guy behind the counter asks, "The usual?"

Even the Chinese lady that answers the phone at the local take out place knows me. Well, she knows my specific order. When I'm around, Derek and I always order from a Chinese restaurant a few blocks from his apartment. We usually get the same thing and before I blurt out the words, she finishes my order for me. I also think that they know us because we're great tippers.

I had an average day on my sheets. I'm nowhere close to the top of the pack, but I'm not too far back. Garth had a perfect sheet for Pauly's Pub. Jesus fuck, nice catch, Skip. Will the Aussie win another one of my pools? I might have to outlaw foreign-born contestants in the future!

The day went by fast. I live blogged the action on Tao of Poker, which was fun but I forgot how hard live blogging was... and I happened to be a bit rusty. I finally got the hang of it again. A few friends called... from the bar for Dial-a-Shots... like AlCantHang and Mean Gene. They had off and caught the games at their local watering holes.

Even Nicky was getting into the games. After all, she won my pool last year after she beat me by 10 points. Anyway, she hates USC and enjoyed their early exit courtesy of Michael Beasley and Kansas State. And her local team, UCLA, crushed their opponent and won by over 40 points.

I gambled on five games. I went 3-2 for a small profit. I was off with my picks. With at least ten blowouts on the card, I ended up picking several close games. The two loses? Both underdogs who I picked against in my pools, but decided to bet money on them with the points for some value. Man, was I wrong. I'm hoping that I make better picks today.

There were 16 games on Thursday and 16 more games today starting at noon. Head over to Tao of Poker to follow the live blog.

Just realized that today is Good Friday, which means no meat for all of you good Catholics. Of course that means Sunday is Easter, which also means that I have to sit through a boring family meal instead of ripping bingers and watching hoops.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Almost Christmas?

By Pauly
New York City

I have been waiting for today for a very long time. It's sort of like Christmas morning for me. Well, at least for hardcore hoops junkies and degenerate gamblers, today is Christmas morning since March Madness is less than four hours away from tip off.

The last seven days or so has been full of excitement and anticipation for me. I've been living a hectic travel schedule and have not been able to watch a lot of sports. However, I immersed myself into college basketball since my return from Langerado. I scouted dozens of teams. I watched as many games as possible. I also took a few notes and made a couple of feeler bets... all in preparation for March Madness.

It used to be a simple basketball tournament. Heck, there was a time when the NIT was the premiere tournament. Alas, times have changed and March Madness had grown into a money-generating beast. Everyone is benefiting except the players. CBS and ESPN make a shitload of cash from advertisers. The NCAA and the universities get a cut. Ah, and I don't want to throw the race card int here, but... the majority of college basketball players are black. I dunno the exact number, but it's always uncomfortable to take a step back and gaze upon teenaged kids (mostly black) doing all the work while some fat cats (mostly white) are getting richer and richer off of the profits. Maybe a dozen or so players will succeed in the NBA and take home multi-million dollar contracts, but for 95% of guys on college hoops teams, their basketball careers are coming to a close.

Maybe that's why I dig March Madness so much, because it's such an American past time. Rooting for the under dog while overlooking the obvious racism and the illegal gambling that's going on from the bookie taking bets at the corner pub to the hoops enthusiasts in your office who is running the pool. Millions of dollars are being wagered on every single game, while millions of fans and bettors are at the edge of their seat waiting the outcome on the last second free throw.

I love the rush and the excitement while watching the games and betting on as many games as I can handle. The opening weekend of March Madness is the perfect excuse to sit around and do nothing for four straight days, smoking hundreds of bong hits, and getting nauseated by the CBS announcers and the same fuckin' ads that by the end of March Madness, you would have viewed over three hundred and fifty-eight times.

I hardly slept last night. I was up by 6am and jogging. By 8am, I finished a 35 minute run, wrote for an hour, and started a load of laundry. I wish I had more time to write, but I have to peek on my clothes in a few minutes.

I struggled to write yesterday. I'm fortunate that those instances do not happen very often. Usually I have no issues with writing and I'm cranking out content and if I have any problems it's with the quality of the content. However this week, I've been lazy. It's not writer's block. I don't believe in such a thing. Simply put... I've been lazy since I'm more excited about March Madness then writing my assignments. The deadlines are not until early April, so it's been hard to motivate. I'll wait until I get back from Las Vegas to finish off the assignments. I'll end up re-writing one and completing the other. For some reason, I write better when I have an impending deadline.

I've been listening to a lot of Ornette Coleman and Ali Farke Toure. Both have been good background music to write to or play poker to. My buddy from Seattle, TC, gave me Ali Farke Toure's Talking Timbuktu CD for my birthday. It took a while before I warmed up to it. Now, it's in heavy rotation. I can't go the day without listening to a least one song.

I stumbled upon a show on the G4network called Ninja Warrior. It's a Japanese imported reality show where contestants try to clear various obstacle courses in a quest to become a ninja warrior. It's has English subtitles. We got sucked in the last two nights. Check your local listings.

Here's an old clip from a previous season...

Click thru to Tao of Pauly to view the video via RSS....

They should scrap the conventional Olympics and add events like Ninja Warrior.

By the way, I'll be live blogging March Madness over at Tao of Poker. Take a peek...

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

NYC Picture Dump

By Pauly
New York City

I took these over the last week or so...

Almost empty #1 subway

Bakery in Grand Central Station

My small collection of travel guides

Poster in a subway station

Bruce gives an outdoor drum lesson

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


By Pauly
New York City

I was so far high up in the cosmos that it took a few days to re-enter normal's atmosphere. Seriously. Even several days after I officially stopped partying at Langerado, I felt some of the side affects many many many hours after the fact. Residuals. Most of the time, it was cool and hilarious because they came in cycles and waves and you never knew when you'd get one. Sort of like a flashback. But I admit, it was nuisance, since I had really hoped to switch gears and get a lot of work done last week.

There were moments, maybe three seconds long, where I sensed something is not quite right. That's when I discovered that I was still a bit loopy. Everything made sense. Those waves of insobriety ended around Wednesday, a good 48 hours after I stopped partying.

Since the bender was extended a few days into last week, I had a shorter amount of time to upload pictures, splice videos, and write recaps. It seemed that every day I completed about half of what I intended to do. I worked at a slow (but definitely focused) pace. And I also slept more than anticipated, which accounted for the lack of time. There were two instances were I got at least seven hours of sleep. That never happens, especially without sleeping aids such as Xanax, Ambien, and heavy quantities of Stolichnya.

I finally caught up on all that sleep I lost over the previous weekend. Then I got sick on Thursday with something I called the "wookie flu." A couple of us from the Langerado crew was smitten with flu-like symptoms. I figured it was a small price to pay for such a fun weekend. My body was run down and luckily, the ailment passed in a day, after I did what I could to boost my immune system. By the time the weekend began, I was feeling better.

After an unhealthy stint in Florida, I have been striving to live in a healthy environment when I'm in New York. I've have been running every other day and eating sensibly. I only binged on bacon once, when I went to the diner yesterday and grabbed a breakfast sandwich.

The old Greek guy behind the counter said that he had won a few grand in the lottery over the weekend. I guess his Pick 3 number hit or something like that. He said he was going to use the money for a trip back home to Greece in the summer.

The better diet and exercise allowed me to drop at least ten pounds since the beginning of March. I can easily shed another five by the end of April. The hard part is keeping it off.

I found a good space to write during my four weeks in NYC in April. I spent most of Monday cleaning up the area. The big test will be on Wednesday. I'll see if I can dig the vibe.

I picked up a feature assignment yesterday, which I couldn't turn down. I figured it's no more than a eight to ten hours of research and writing, which I could do on Wednesday to test out the new space.

And once I complete that assignment, I'm going to be focusing on basketball for ten straight days once March Madness begins. It's the moment I have been waiting for. I came in second place in my pool last year. I lost to Nicky by 10 points. I'm seeking revenge. I'm in NYC for six more days, before I migrate out West with trips to Hollywierd and Las Vegas for ten days.

I avoided the drunken masses on Monday, although I got the sense that it was a tamer St. Patrick's Day than it had been in the past. Being on a Monday did that. Lots of people were partied out since people and bars started throwing parties as early as Friday.

Instead of knocking back cold ones in packed bars with amateur drunks, I stayed inside and watched High Fidelity while I played online poker. That was a bad decision which cost me $600. I should have went out and binge drank instead. I could have had a lot of fun for half the price. Oh well.

I woke up at 6am and went for a forty minute light jog as I listened to a Dead bootleg from 1977. I tweaked my hip a bit, which is why I slowed down a bit. I didn't want to push myself, so I came home earlier than I wanted. It was also cold as fuck, still in the mid-30s.

When I got home, I fired up some Miles Davis. There's a mix on my iPod which is essentially 85 cuts from Miles Davis spanning Sketches in Spain, Milestones, Bitches Brew, and Miles Smiles. I had not listened to that Miles Davis mix in a several weeks, and it felt good to write for an hour or so to inspiring music before most people woke up to start their day.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Clown in the Moon

By Pauly
New York City

The last few weeks rushed by like excerpt from a blurry dream. Like one of those whirlwind scenes from an old movie when they first starting shooting in Technicolor and the exact color matchings weren't exactly right and things were slightly off in a psychedelic glaze, where so much is happening that there's sensory overload and its hard to keep up.

On a flight from LAX to Australia on January 1st, I made a plan for 2008 and that plan was to have a loose plan with lots of unstructured living. That was both a grand blessing and deviant concept. I basically gave myself a pass to fuck off as much as I wanted... in the name of art. I thought that living without boundaries would allow the artist within me to flourish. That didn't happen. I wrote for just a week, although I maximized my writing time. I was more than pleased with my output. Sadly, I never went back to the project. I haven't even read a word that I wrote almost four weeks ago. I thought that I'd get to it when I was sitting in coffeeshops in Amsterdam. That never happened. All those plane trips? Nope. Never cracked it open once.

Experience is understanding your mistakes and doing your best to prevent them in the future. I can write in a structureless environment, I cannot edit and re-write in one. For that, I need discipline and structure. For me, that's my least favorite and most difficult aspect of writing... the re-writing of something. Maybe I'm lazy, or maybe I just write like a jazz musician. I get up on stage and play. Whatever comes out, comes out. The keyboard is my instrument and I'd rather play freely from the heart with lots of mistakes and errors, than sit down and craft something cold and distant and foreign to me since it barely resembled the original thought that festered inside my head and eventually spilled its way onto the empty pages.

I also knew that once I dug into re-writing the script, that I get sucked in deep and focus all my energy into that project. Then I'm a lost cause and nothing else matters and I shut out the world. I did that for the better part of the last three years and I want to explore the world again. The last thing I needed was more work.

Sure, the project needs to get finished, and it will get finished. Instead of fussing over the when, I decided to relax and ease up of the self-applied pressure. Rushing the script will do more harm than good. Sometimes I need to step back and look at things from a jagged angle. And that's when I realize that I've been making bad choices.

Instead of spending my time off worrying about things, I made a concentrated effort to enjoy myself and have fun. The result? I had a blast and now I'm ready to hunker down and write my ass off in April.

I spent the last few weeks living hard. Being. Seizing the moment as it passed each day. The living eventually translates into writing. Someday, I can make sense of all of those boisterous memories of wandering down crooked streets in so many cities that I never thought I'd get to see in this lifetime, let along a thousand lifetimes, and I'm sad to say that there is a Starbucks or a McDonalds on every other street corner on the fuckin' planet. There was a time centuries ago when there was a church or place of worship on every corner. That has been replaced by mindless consumerism.

I didn't want my script to be a fast food version of a meal. I want to take the time and work on every aspect of it. Fine dining. Not a nuked cheeseburger made out of possum and kangaroo parts.

Coffee is such an interesting and integral part of society. New Yorkers buy a disposable cup of java and rush off on the fly. They have too much important things to do than waste the day away. But do they really? Their daily activities are more important than the physical act of drinking said cup of java. Or is it that Americans are simply a nation of junkies and that coffee is just one of a dozen harmful and insanely addictive habits that multinational corporations can profit from?

When Europeans have a cup of coffee, they sit for two hours chain smoking Carolina blended cigarettes, doing God knows what as they take micro sips and read communist newspapers and pontificate about German existentialism and how all Americans are the repugnant offspring of George Bush.

The Brits (and the leftovers of their former glorious Empire) are tea fanatics. Tea time is a sacred moment like praying towards Mecca.

When I think about the cultural differences when it comes to something as simple as a cup of coffee, it really blows my mind. It forces me to re-think how I approach the littlest of things including writing and the future paths that I take as a writer.

Writing is such a blanket statement and I do it so much tat I forget that there's so many different varieties of writing. Over the last few years. I rarely wrote for myself. There's personal writing like journals and there's practice writing where I work on new things or engage in activities that will keep me sharp. I always tried to do that for two hours a day no matter where I was. Monte Carlo. Hollyweird. Las Vegas. New York City. Stockholm.

There's blog writing which is a different beast, especially depending on the subject. Truckin' and my music blog and the poker blog are all different entities, with the only common thread is that I write for all three of them.

There's also freelance writing for clients where I have to adapt to fit whatever their target audience might be. Sometimes I get to be myself, but most of the times, I'm writing like a water-down version or the PepsiLite version of myself.

Web writing is different from magazine writing and vice versa. Sometimes I'm writing in English for people in different countries where English is not their first language. Those are the hardest to write because the result is dry piece because I'm too afraid to include witty remarks that might not translate well.

And poker writing is another beast, let along the subtle differences in tournament reporting.

Then there's email writing, which is broken up into informal and formal. The formal emails are standard bullshit stuff with lots of Dear Sirs and Sincerelys. The informal ones are slang-centric and caters to the lazy. Poor grammar and lack of capitalization are encouraged, especially when forwarding porn to your friends from college.

I finally burnt out on writing and had to break everything down and start for scratch. That's why I decided to take four months off. I spent half of that time getting wasted and thinking about writing.

Holy shit, has it been almost two months since I last worked a real assignment? I'm shocked at the rapid jump in time. I'm angered in the same swoop. Time has been my mortal enemy. The adage is true. Time flies when you have been having fun. Man, there were dreary months and desperate years that crept along at a torturous snail's pace where I wished time would speed up just a bit and I could flash forward to a time where the pains of life didn't sting so much like a sullen scene from a PT Anderson flick.

I went on a couple of benders over the last month. Big ones. One in Amsterdam and the other in Florida. I'd be concerned if I was partying that hard all the time. Alas, I know that my binge was coming to an end and that February and March were the only two months where I could get lit up like a monkey and push the limits. I fried my brain several times over. April shall be a productive month involving writing and re-writing followed by a mellow May which is the quiet before the stormy June and July when I return to Las Vegas for a fourth summer in a row. By the fall, I'll be back to working a lot again (and if I'm not, I'll set aside the time to finish up my project).

Reality set in on Saturday when I sat down to do my taxes. The ominous box with all of my receipts sat in the corner and I slowly calculated the damage. It was the saddest day of my life. I knew that I'd be owing Uncle Sam a lot, but until you see the number yourself, it's hard to believe that I have to write a check that is over six figures. It pains me to think how bad that money will go to waste. And it hurts me even more to know that I can't run or hide. The taxman has me by the balls and I can't do a damn thing about it. Heck, let's be honest. It's payoff money. A bribe. It gets the federalies off my back. I finally got lucky as a writer. Right place. Right time. I had a banner 2007, and the government wants a big cut off of my blood work.

The good news is that I'm paying a few grand less than anticipated. I have no idea what I'm going to do later this year, but I have some extra money set aside for an exotic trip. Or perhaps there will be some good shows (like Radiohead) or festivals to see later this year.

It is a frustrating feeling knowing that the years where I generated my best writing... and the most real writing... was the years that I didn't make one cent. And the year where I spewed forth the most bullshit, was where I was compensated the most. I have no idea what happened, but as soon as I figured out that I could generate more money that I ever imagined spewing out bullshit, then that became my entire focus.

It took me almost two months to rediscover the passion in the written word. I'm finally reminded why I chose this arduous journey where I devoted my entire life to writing. I'm hoping that I can stay on this path for a while before I get sidetracked.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Last of the Langerado Videos

By Pauly
New York City

Finally. I finally uploaded all of the videos from Langerado. Here are the final three.

The first one is a montage that's about six minutes long. It's sort of the "best of" all of the other videos that I spliced together.

The other two are just funny stuff. One of them is called "Langerado Extras" which features random clips and bloopers that didn't make it into other videos. The last video contains classic Uncle Ted hijinks, where he does a hilarious impression of Michael Stipe. Check them all out...

1. Pauly's Langerado Montage

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2. Langerado Extras

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3. Uncle Ted impersonates Michael Stipe, plus toilet paper hijinks

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Friday, March 14, 2008

Langerado Day 4: Phil Lesh Shines

By Pauly

Image courtesy of Otis

"Are you guys going to see the Disco Triscuits?" wondered Uncle Ted.

The band's name was the Disco Biscuits. The cool kids called them Bisco. Uncle Ted had never seen the band before, I doubt that he's ever even heard a song. He simply liked the name, moreover, he loved his tweakage of the name. Whenever he muttered the words "Disco Triscuits," the spun out kids went into a frenzy. They thought it was the funniest thing on Earth.

"I'm going to see the Disco Triscuits. How about you?"

A group of five of us (Otis, Mrs. Otis, Uncle Ted, the Joker, and myself) slowly made our way back to the RV. It was way past Midnight on Saturday at Langerado. Darkness had set in and anyone who was still up and alive wandering Shakedown Street was in serious party mode. A light stream of people made their way back into the festival for the late night shows, as another heavy flow of people left the music area and stumbled back to the campsites to sleep or party or both.

Four of us wore white tuxedos and we were bombarded with offers to purchase various pharmacopoeia from the dealers that lurked in the shadows of Shakedown Street. The wookies were hawking molly, doses, and rolls. The brothers sold the hard shit like opium, smack, and yay-yo.

The tuxedos got all of the attention. We were easy marks. Walking targets. Every few seconds, someone had a comment about the jacket or an interesting offer to sell me narcotics. Some had both.

Whenever a good looking hippie girl gave us a compliment, I'd say, "Thanks. How about a hand job?"

That rapid response never got old. I must have said it a hundred times all weekend. And it was hilarious every time I said it. Everyone within earshot laughed heartily, with the exception of one whacked out chick who flipped out on me. She got up in my face and said something about sucking the unborn child out of her womb, or something to that effect. She lacked a sense of humor or most likely, she was spiraling into the dark side of the abyss after she ingested a batch of bunk drugs. The campgrounds were flooded with products, both good and bad. It's always a gamble when you deal with entities that skirt the law.

"I have everything that you shouldn't be doing," one dealer whispered as we passed him.

Mrs. Otis said that anytime someone would say, "Molly" that she would shoot back with "Ringwald."

Back at the RV, Uncle Ted put on a show. All he needed was a roll of toilet paper and he was on fire while cracking jokes about Obama and whatnot. I have some of those hijinks on video and will post that shortly. Uncle Ted should get his own channel on YouTube.

After a quick pit stop in the RV, we ingested the last of our inventory and headed back out to see the end of Bisco's set. I missed Matisyahu sitting in with them, but I saw was tight. At 2:30am, Uncle Ted and I bailed. We couldn't find a taxi and walked to the RV. On our trek back to the RV, I held out a $20 bill. I offered spun out chicks $20, or $10 a piece to kiss each other. Sadly, I did not get any takers.

I eventually passed out at 5:30am. The most comfortable spot remaining in the RV was the passenger's seat. It was either that or curl up with Uncle Ted.

I woke up at 8:30am with stifling sun beating down on me. I woke up draped in a white tuxedo jacket. I glanced at the photos in my camera to jog my faded memory. I had forgotten about the disco tent which happened only seven hours earlier.

The rest of the gang woke up and like clockwork, Otis fired up the grill for the last of his breakfast biscuits. Uncle Ted had to leave early. Like a tornado, his appearance was brief, yet powerful, and left a trail of destruction in its path. The gang was slow to motivate to do anything. After three long nights of partying, everyone was spent and whatever energy they had left, they were conserving for Phil Lesh. The crew had lazy vibe and hung out in front of the RV drinking and already reminiscing about the previous night's antics. We eventually motivated to see The Funky Meters.

A taxi happened to pass us on the way out of the RV and we hitched a ride. The cute wookette driver asked about the Tuxedos. We decided to wear just the jackets. She said that she recognized us from the previous night. The Joker told her that GRob and Mrs GRob had just gotten married and that we were in the wedding party. As we walked inside, we got more compliments and a few comments from people who recognized us from the night before.

The Funky Meters put on a solid set including their staples Fire on the Bayou and Hey Pocky Way. After their set ended, we left the showgrounds, grabbed a taxi, and went back tot he RV to drink and party some more. We skipped some bands that I originally wanted to see such as Grace Potter & the Nocturnals and Steel Train. I also skipped Gov't Mule and Keller Williams. I had seen them plenty of times before.

We geared up for Phil Lesh and Friends with shots of tequila. Otis found dog tranquilizers, which he gave his dog whenever they went on long car trips. I offered to experiment with them. I figured that two dog tranquilizers would be harmless, but maybe three or more could slow down time in a Quaalude-like buzz and I'd utter witty remarks a la Truman Capote. Or perhaps things would get ugly and I'd get sloppy and pass out face down ass up in the shitter like Elvis. In the end, I didn't get to test out the dog tranquilizers. I think Otis was worried that I'd get too fucked up and stumble off into the Everglades and get eaten by alligators. Alas, for the record, I was more than willing to gamble. Dog tranquilizers would have been the least harmful intoxicants pumping through my polluted body.

We got inside early enough to eat and catch the last bit of Blind Melon. We found a great spot for Phil Lesh on the left side of the soundboard, close to the beer stand and the toilets.

I had not seen Phil's recent lineup, although I heard several shows that they played over the last few months. The addition of Jackie Greene on vocals and guitar gave Phil and Friends a much-needed shot in the arm. Maybe it was adding all the new youthful blood to the mix, including Steve Molitz from Particle on keyboards. His sound mixed in well with John Molo on drums and Larry Campbell (from Bob Dylan's band) on guitar.

Phil Lesh played two sets in his four hour slot to close out Langerado. I've seen Phil and Friends enough to know that they are often hit or miss. I caught dozens of different lineups with Page, Trey, and Steve Kimock, with Warren Haynes and Jimmy Herring, and with John Scofield and Rob Barraco. Phil's recent lineup is one of the most energetic and fluid sounding. I was more than impressed and they surpassed expectations.

At one point GRob said, "Phil is making Michael Stipe look like an idiot."

Its true. Lesh was just a week shy of his 68th birthday and he blew REM away. He joined the Grateful Dead (then called The Warlocks) in 1965 when he was just 25. I'm sure he never expected to be playing forty years later. But heck, even with a liver transplant, prostate cancer, and all the damage that he did to his body from living on the road all those decades and surviving the drug-addled 60s, Lesh still managed to bring his A-game and close out Langerado with a stunning set.

You can download the Phil Lesh show by clicking here courtesy of You will not be disappointed.

Lesh opened with a crowd favorite of Sugar Magnolia before segueing into another Dead classic, Uncle John's Band, which lyricists Robert Hunter had written about Jerry Garcia over four decades ago.

They kicked it into gear for an upbeat Cumberland Blues. Larry Campbell busted out the fiddle for Gone Wanderin' as they segued back into a Cumberland Blues Reprise. They closed the set with a tasty Help On The Way > Slipknot > Franklin's Tower sandwich.

During setbreak, the video screen played some sort of Rock the Vote video. Plenty of musicians from the community spoke like Murph from STS9 and Trey Anastasio. Whenever Trey appeared, he got a few whistles and light applause from the crowd. The Joker kept screaming at him, "Trey, you're a junkie!"

When Murph appeared, the Joker shouted, "Speak like a white boy, Murph!"

After shouting at the video screen for five straight minutes, the Joker said, "I think the drugs have kicked in."

I concurred.

The first hour of the second set was some of my favorite playing in all of Langerado. They opened with a cheerful China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider. They followed that up with a smooth version of New Speedway Boogie which took an unexpected turn when they segued into a cover of Bob Dylan's Hard Rain's Gonna Fall.

Lesh didn't write too many songs for the Grateful Dead, but one of his contributions included Unbroken Chain, which they played and for the first few minutes, I could not recall the name of the song. They ended the set with a sizzling Viola Lee Blues. That made me miss Pigpen. It also made me miss Jerry. If he lived for another decade, I wondered how many festivals both The Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia Band would have headlined.

Lesh encored with Casey Jones, which was an anti-cocaine song written by Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter and one of my favorite Dead tunes of all time. I was fortunate to see a groovy show. Phil Lesh and Friends was the perfect dessert to a lengthy and luxurious feast of music, which lasted for four days. And, I got to share the original experience with some good friends.

Festivals are never perfect and you encounter a slew of problems no matter how prepared you think you are. Most of the time, you have to go with the flow and make your own fun. The music is just one aspect of the festival. We didn't let the weather or the crappy set from REM bring us down. I caught a few gems like New Mastersounds, Beastie Boys, Thievery Corporation, Dark Star Orchestra, and Phil Lesh. We also got into lots of random hijinks which also enhance the festival experience.

I survived the day without any problems and had a little bit of energy left over. I would need that when we returned to the campground and we engaged in the now infamous ice cooler bet. I had an edge. I was one of the most wasted and impervious to all sorts of pain. For example, my feet didn't hurt, nor did my bum knee after four days of walking, dancing, and running rampant through Langerado. Even the fire ant bites didn't bother me a bit. I was in that rare place where I felt bulletproof. Lucky for me, I didn't seriously hurt myself. Although, I'd get a ton of street cred if I lost a finger due to frostbite incurred during a prop bet with Otis.

Check out my Langerado photos.
Disco Tent Video

By Pauly
New York City

This is what I was doing one week ago... partying it up in the Disco Tent after REM.

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More Langerado Videos - Meet the RV and The Taxi Ride

By Pauly
New York City

Here are a couple of non-music videos. They fall more under the Langerado lifestyle category.

The first is a glimpse of our RV...

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The second video covers a taxi ride from the RV camp to the front gate...

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Langerado Day 2 & 3: The 45 Hour Bender

By Pauly
New York City

It had been a while since I embarked on a bender of epic proportions. My future music schedule looks bleak because I have to work in Las Vegas for two months this summer, which means I miss out on all of the festival goodness this season. With that in mind, I was on a mission to rage as hard as I could at Langerado. Since I had to drive last year to attend Langerado, we didn't get as crazy as we could have in past years.

I never intended on staying up for two days. It just happened. I was on a natural high as well as a manufactured one. The combination fueled me for Day 2 and 3 of Langerado.

Friday began when I woke up in the RV. Our group was almost complete, minus Uncle Ted who was scheduled to arrive in the early afternoon. Like a post-modern MacGuyver, Otis rumbled through various cabinets and storage spaces in the RV gathering the necessary items to cook breakfast. While he fired up the stove, I wandered over to my rental car which was parked a five minute walk away. On my way there, I heard someone shouting my name. It was Wilkins, an old friend from college who lived in South Carolina. He had camped out in the row next to mine and spotted me wandering by. I actually had gotten lost and walked down the wrong row. It was easy to do stuff like that at Langerado. Not too many landmarks, and after a night of heavy partying, every camp spot looked the same.

I caught up with Wilkins for a bit and he told me that some dude came through the camp site that morning with industrial insecticide and blasted several of the fire ant hills. I wondered if a group of spun out wookies jumped the exterminator and stole his chemicals to spray on their bud for some super duper insecticide headies.

I gathered up a bunch of stuff from the car and decided to leave the majority of my gear in there because space was limited in the RV. I forgot that I bought a cheap plastic bong from a head shop in Pompano Beach and brought that with me. As soon as I got back to the RV, my breakfast was patiently waiting for me to devour it. Otis whipped up a bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit for everyone. Delicious.

We sat out in front of the RV and enjoyed being outside while sipping drinks and cocktails. We studied the schedule and plotted a strategy for the day. Pablo texted me. He arrived the night before and wanted to meet up inside the showgrounds.

Wilkins and his crew left the campsite early to check out School of Rock All Stars, which was kids that were musical prodigies. I was interested, but couldn't get motivated. Our crew finally took the twenty plus minute walk from the RV to the security check point in the showgrounds. We bumped into Pablo, who was waiting in line to get in. My primary mission for the day was complete. Pablo has been found. All we were waiting for was... Uncle Ted... who had called to say that he arrived in Ft. Lauderdale.

We caught a bit of Indigenous, a blues band from North Dakota with a tight sound. Pablo and I had a tough decision between Ozomatli and Sam Bush. That's always the hardest aspect about seeing festivals with multiple stages. At some point, you will have to skip a band that you really like in favor of a band that you have never seen before or rarely get to see.

We went with Sam Bush because Otis really wanted to see him. I had seen Ozomatli almost a dozen times, but only caught Sam Bush once or twice before. Bush was known as the King of Newgrass and a founding member of the New Grass Revival, before they broke up. Bush a played both the fiddle and mandolin, depending on the tune. Otis had a photo pass and was able to get in the photographers pit. He published several high quality pictures of Sam Bush over at his Flickr page.

Sam Bush courtesy of Otis

I heard a Santana tease in one of the first songs and the crowd dug it. During the third or fourth song, one of BTreotch's friends found the Joker. BTroetch was in Antarctica on a work assignment and was unable to attend. The Joker and I were one group of friends that he had and there was another group of his friends from Tampa who were at the show that we had never met before. That group included a cute bubbly girl with red hair. Uncle Ted later nicknamed her... Strawberry Shortcake. It stuck.

Strawberry Shortcake had read all about our previous exploits on the Phish and music blog. In short, she was a fan and super excited to finally meet us and hang out. I met tons of fans through my poker scribblings. It happens so much now (even outside of Las Vegas) that it's become an inside joke among my friends. However, those moments rarely happen outside of poker, so I was excited to get recognition for some of my music writing.

When Sam Bush ended, Strawberry Shortcake left and headed to see The Wailers. We caught some of The Heavy Pets, a folksy-blues-reggae band based out of Ft. Lauderdale. We didn't stay because we were headed to the New Mastersounds, who were filling in for Vampire Weekend.

I was curious about Vampire Weekend. BTroetch turned me onto them. Some of their stuff annoyed me, while a few other tracks hooked me in. Vampire Weekend is the indie-band-celeb-du-jour and is on the iPod of every hipster from Park Slope to Silver Lake. They were supposed to be playing on Friday afternoon, but backed out at the last minute and "big timed" Langerado. A rare chance play Saturday Night Live came their way and the band (or most likely their management team) chose that precious gig instead of playing at Langerado. I really can't blame them... SNL is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

The good thing about Vampire Weekend's absence was that New Mastersounds stepped in and played in their spot (in addition to their normally scheduled Saturday slot). They were one of my new favorite bands which I had never seen before. I was eager to check out the British funk quartet.

New Mastersounds

New Mastersounds played at the Chickee Swamp. The ground was still squishy even though they attempted to spread hay all over the place. Since the schedules still had Vampire Weekend on the bill, not too many people knew that New Mastersounds were playing instead. The result? A small and intimate crowd. I started up in the front row and slowly moved back a bit. I had a great spot and wondered how many people in the crowd thought that the band was Vampire Weekend?

I recognized a few songs and they played some new stuff. The groovy sounds of New Mastersounds reminded me of Galactic circa 1999. The New Mastersounds also don't jam out as much as Galactic, since their songs are between four and seven minutes in length. They were one of the bands I was excited to see and they did not disappoint.

Strawberry Shortcake got bored with The Wailers and found us at New Mastersounds. When that ended, we headed over to G. Love. He played a few classics like Cold Beverages and teased the theme from Sanford and Son.

At that point Strawberry Shortcake asked, "What's a wookie?"

The Joker clued her in. "A wookie is a long haired, or dreadlocked, unkempt hippie that resemble Chewbacca from Star Wars."

"A female version of a Wookie, is a Wookette. She usually with armpits hairier than mine," I added.

I told her Strawberry Shortcake that I used to be a hippie with wookie tendencies when I lived in Seattle.

We caught a bit of 311 before we left the showgrounds and headed back to the RV. When we returned, Uncle Ted had arrived and was cooking up Bratwursts for dinner. He originally intended on taking the Langerado shuttle from the airport, but ended up renting a car with a couple that he met at the airport. That got him into Langerado quicker and I have no idea how he found our spot in the RV lot.

After some partying at the RV, we went back inside for The Roots. We picked them over The Mickey Hart Band. Aside from Bob Weir, Mickey Hart is my least favorite member of The Dead. I've seen him enough times that it was an easy decision to skip his set.

The Roots played a eerie rendition of Bob Dylan's Masters of War. GRob and Mrs GRob saw them perform it at Bonnaroo last year.

Strawberry Shortcake found us before the Beastie Boys set and we didn't go up too close. We had a nice area with lots of room to dance. Plus it was within fifteen feet of a beer stand. That made Otis happy.

The Beastie Boys played a sensational set. They were among the highlights at Langerado. I've been listening to them since I was in the 9th grade almost twenty years ago. They still have bundles of energy and can work a crowd into a frenzy.

I had been working up a solid buzz all afternoon courtesy of the mushrooms. When the Beasties began, I was soaring. Very high. Like four feet off the ground. And I was in for a treat because I kept going up and up and up...

I noticed how overloaded my senses were during Sure Shot. At one point during the second verse, I found myself dancing like a maniac in between Mrs. Otis and two hippie chicks wearing butterfly wings.

My favorite part of the set was Root Down and Rhymin' and Stealin'. The crowd was receptive and soaking up all of the positive vibes that the Beasties emitted. They closed the set with a frantic Body Movin' and a bong rattling So What'cha Want. They took a short break and played a three song encore of Intergalactic, Ch-Check It Out, and Sabotage.

During the set, one spun out hippie kid asked Mrs. Otis if he could have a kiss. She pointed to his friend and said, "Why don't you kiss him?" They were so wasted that they almost starting making out. In my notebook, I scribbled down a note that said, "Mrs. Otis has a future in directing porn."

At Midnight, some of the crew headed back to the RV. The Joker, Strawberry Shortcake and I headed to the ferris wheel to meet up with Joseph Broseph, another one of BTreotch's friends. He brought a sign with him that said, "Greetings Palmer Station Antarctica." That's where BTreotch was stationed.

We had a choice of three bands for Friday late night. Unfortunately, Umphrey McGee's lost the battle and we skipped them in favor of splitting time between Phix and STS9.

Phix is one of the best Phish cover bands that I have ever seen. They were not playing anymore, any only reunited especially for Langerado, since Phish had played at the same spot for their Millennium concert.

We caught almost ninety minutes of Phix. They opened with PYITE > Moma Dance and I was digging the sound. It's not Phish. If Phish is heroin, then Trey Band is Methadone. And Phix is like generic Oxycontin.

I kept getting flashbacks from the millennium show. So were a lot of other phans in the crowd. We missed Phish, but they are never coming back.

Phix pulled Destiny Unbound out of nowhere and it was a kick ass version. Never saw that coming.

We headed over to STS9 and awaited for the mothership to blast off. I can recognize different STS9 songs, but I couldn't tell you the name of most of them. Their set was solid. Uncle Ted managed to find us by the soundboard. He had been road weary after traveling from Boston earlier that day. He wanted to bail and mentioned something about a storm that was coming. I left with him and we managed to get a taxi back to the RV set up. I filmed a lot of stuff from the back of the golf cart, but it was too dark and did not come out.

Uncle Ted crashed and I went to take a dump. The RV had a "No #2 policy" which meant I could pee inside but had to shit elsewhere. Nothing is harder than taking a dump in a port-o-pttie when you are tripping. I managed to squeeze one out, despite the obvious obstacles and auditory hallucinations. When I returned to the RV, The Joker was passed out. I was wide awake and headed to the rental car. I called Nicky and told her about the Beasties.

Then it started to rain. Badly. A downpour quickly developed and the kids next to us ran out of their tents and sought refuge in their cars. The wind was so intense that it blew a few tents right over. I was trapped in my vehicle for three hours between 3:30 and 6:30 as a mini-hurricane trashed the area.

During that time, I uploaded photos from my camera to my laptop, smoked up, ate a couple of Cliff bars, and listened to a Dead bootleg. I tried to sleep, but got freaked out because I could not figure out how to turn off the interior lights. I was afraid it would drain the battery. All of that anxiety kept me up. When I figured out how to turn it off, the rain had stopped and the sun slowly broke out.

At 6:30, a young hippie girl named Dahlia saw that I had the windows open and wandered by.

"Do you know how to break into a car?" she asked.

"Besides smashing the window?"

"Yeah, besides that," she said. "I locked myself in."

I walked back to her car. A young wookie in training with only two baby dreads growing, frantically wiggled a hangar back and forth to open up the door. He gave up and smoked a bowl, while I took a crack. I got close a couple of times, but couldn't get a good grip. We must have tried to get in for almost ninety minutes before we gave up. I told her to look for the Mounties who could tell her what to do. She didn't want to have to pay $50 for someone to jimmy her door, but had no choice.

Around 8:30am, I headed back to the RV. Everyone was up and Otis was making breakfast biscuits. Deja vu.

We spent a lot of time in and around the RV on Saturday morning. We drank as the Joker played DJ. We studied the schedule and made decisions on who to see. We split up into two groups. Otis and Mrs. Otis headed to Railroad Earth, while the rest of us checked out The Bad Plus, a jazz-pop trio. 2/3 of them were from Minnesota and they formed in NYC. The Bad Plus consisted of a drummer, bassist, and a piano player. They are each excellent musicians and they won me over very quickly when they covered Rush's Tom Sawyer and put their unique angle to it.

Everyone was reunited for The Wood Brothers and they did not disappoint. They covered both Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles and played a lot of their original material. Next up was another delicious set from New Mastersounds. We left early to catch the end of The Avett Brothers set, but they had canceled at the las minute. With nothing of interest to see, we headed back to the RV and partied.

That's when we saw the fight. A woman was screaming at the top of her lungs. Across the way, she and her boyfriend where pushing each other. We couldn't make out when she was screaming. She bitch-slapped him once, and followed that up with rapid punches to his face. We were stunned. It appeared as though he was going to unleash a flurry of punches on her. Instead, the guy had some remarkable restraint. Instead of hitting her, he smashed himself in the head three times extremely hard with a water bottle. I thought it was a drug deal gone bad. Mrs. Otis said it had to do with affairs of the heart.

"He must have slipped and dipped his doodle in some other girl," suggested Mrs. Otis. "You only get that angry if someone cheats on you."

The couple made up as fast as they had their joust. Just like that , it was over. Hippies in love once again.

It was time to put on the tuxedo jackets. Otis discovered them online. The Joker and I wanted to see Thievery Corporation, alas, the others were not into them. We agreed to meet up for MSMW at 8pm.

With out tuxes on, we flagged a taxi who drove us into the show. We got tons of odd looks. Some people had no idea what to make of it, while others thought it was the coolest thing ever. We definitely caught the eyes of several cute hippie chicks who could not stop commenting on how swanky we looked. We even stopped a took photos with people who asked.

We caught the end of Antibalas' set. Good stuff. I was impressed with Thievery Corporation and we saw almost the entire set before we met up with Pablo, Strawberry Shortcake, and the rest of the gang.

Medeski, Martin, and Wood collaborates with guitar player John Scofield in a lineup called MSMW. I'm a big fan of that mix and had high expectations of their set. It was one of the acts that I was dying to see. They opened up with a smooth Little Walter Rides Again. But the rest of the set was just above average. If I went in with lower expectations, i would have not been disappointed. As is, I was.

So when Uncle Ted said, "Hey let's leave early to get a good spot for REM!" Well, no one objected. Not even me.

It was a horrible idea. The REM stage area was empty and it was wet and cold and freezing. The tuxes looked nice, but they were not warm. We sat around for fifteen minutes wishing that we were back over at MSMW.

"Uncle Ted and his fuckin' crappy 1980s bands," I kept screaming.

REM came on ten minutes late. Fuckers. They opened up with a lukewarm What's the Frequency Kenneth. They played a lot of new material off their new album Accelerate and I was not into the show. The band sounded great, but they did not get any chance to open up a song or solo. What we got were short slow morose songs with lots of Michael Stipe banter in between singing them.

"I'm too happy to listen to this depressing music," said Mrs. GRob.

GRob and the misses was not into the set. He left to take a piss and they never came back! I didn't blame them. Michael Stipe was whining and preaching and annoying and condescending to the crowd. The hippies were on his side of the fence, but he had no clue. They were freaks too and understood the inner pain and emotional turmoil that plagued Stipe for three decades. They overlooked all of that bullshit and just want to dance to the music. Instead, an aging pop star from the 1980s and an overrated MTV-dubbed music video genius of the 1990s preached to the soused choir instead of singing with them. Alas, Stipe shot himself in the foot whenever he opened up his mouth.

I was tired. I was wet. I was cold. The drugs had worn off. I was bored. I was starving for music. Real music. None of that pseudo-pop bullshit that Stipe was force feeding the spun out and half-baked audience. I made a command decision. I left REM and headed back to the RV to get warmer clothing, and to save my sanity. I was worried that all of the crazed acid freaks and spun out wookies were going to charge the stage and pummel Stipe like a fish's first night in prison, then afterwards they'd burn Stipe at the stake chanting, "This is the end of the world as we know it. And I feel fine!"

I was running for my life, I thought, and sprinted out of the showgrounds. I slowed down my pace when I got outside, but was quickly swarmed by dealers on Shakedown Street. When you wear funny colored glasses and a white tuxedo right out of 1977, you get a lot of attention. I was giving off that vibe... "I like drugs. I'll snort anything." Because everyone who had anything in Langerado had stopped me. I was cold and didn't have time to shop around.

One big black guy who looked like Refrigerator Perry nearly tackled me and offered me yay-yo.

"Do I look like someone who needs coke?" I said trying to brush him off.

"How about opium? Or heroin?"

"No thanks," I said. "I'm high on Jesus."

And a fist full of other intoxicants.

I took my time and got a warm jacket. I returned to REM just in time for the encore. I missed a lot of Stipe's bullshit and he managed to avoid getting tossed into the Everglades and left for alligator food. REM was the lowlight of Langerado.

Midnight. We had a choice... keep on partying with the Disco Biscuits or back to the RV. Bisco was playing until 4am so we figured that we could go back to the RV and party for an hour, put on warmer clothes, then catch the last three hours or so of Bisco. That was the plan until we heard Michael Jackson'svoice.

"Keep on with the force. Don't stop. Don't stop til you get enough!" echoed from a tent which blasted the music.

We wandered inside and it was a mini-dance party. We were perfectly dressed for the occasion. Some of the people in the tent thought that we were part of the entertainment. We managed to get a spot right up in front and danced for a few songs. The tuxedos were a chick magnet. The Joker was freaked by one chick who liked to point when she danced.

The only Asian woman in the entire festival with fake books managed to hone right in on Uncle Ted. She threw her leg up on his shoulder and started using him as a stripper pole. I wish I was a little faster with the camera and caught that bizarre moment.

That's when Professional Keno Player Neil Fontenot rushed in and screamed, "Thank you for coming to my wedding reception! I love you all!"

As Otis wrote, we were the party. The tent was rocking before we arrived, but we managed to raise the roof off the fucker. That was my favorite part of Langerado. Well, one of them. There were so many, but that special moment will always keep me warm on cold depressing nights.

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Check out my Langerado pictures.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Langerado Day 1: The Arrival and the Battle of the Fire Ants

By Pauly
New York City

I had been in Florida since Tuesday and the Joker since Wednesday. We stayed in a hotel just outside of Ft. Lauderdale and woke up early on Thursday for breakfast and a quick run to the store for last minute supplies like sunscreen and cold medicine. We headed to Langerado a couple hours earlier than expected, which ended up being a great decision.

When I saw Phish at Big Cypress for the millennium show, I got caught up in traffic for about 7-8 hours. We were stuck on I-75 for the about half of that... and we arrived early too. Some other friends were in line for 16 hours. The Langerado crowd was estimated at about 25K people versus 80-90K plus at Phish's New Year's Even blowout. I expected some traffic at Langerado, but not as much.

We turned onto Snake Road without any problem. It was a winding 12 mile single lane road through the Everglades into the Seminole Reservation. The U.S. government banished them to a piece of land that no one wanted in the middle of nowhere. The Seminoles considered it sacred ground.

It took us 2.5 hours as we inched along the road. Luckily we were prepared with some great tunes and party favors. A few people hiked in with their gear, while others wandered up and down Snake Road in search of an extra ticket.

The Joker noticed that a lot of wookies looked fat.

"This is the first festival of the year," I said. "It's like their spring training. They'll shed all that winter fat and be skinny by the time Bonnaroo rolls around."

We eventually entered the reservation and we had officially left America. Big Cypress was making a push to have the Langerado music festival there permanently. They have the large space to accommodate the crowd and it's really in the middle of nowhere.

The Joker did not have a ticket. He called up friends from Boulder who worked for the event organizers. They hooked him up with a media pass which meant that he had free entry. We had to wait from them at the front gate. A couple of the security guards were tearing through a few cars. They made one group of twenty-something kids empty out all of their shit. Security confiscated a ton of booze. There was a "no glass" rule.

I wasn't worried when it was my time to go through security. I had no booze, nor glass, and anything of questionable contraband was well hidden.

An older gentleman in an Event Staff shirt said, "I have three things that I need to know. Do you have any weapons? Any glass? Any drugs?"

I answered no to all three and he let us in without searching the vehicle. Then again, we didn't look as sketchy as some of the other people trying to get inside. Sometimes, it's better to look normal when dealing with law enforcement types, instead of flying your freak flag high. That includes not driving "probable cause" vehicles like VW buses, anything painted too outrageous (like any hippie flowery shit that might scream - "We have drugs in our car!"), or something that was peppered in lots of Dead and Phish stickers. When cops see that, you're asking for trouble. Lucky for me, I look much more clean cut these days than when I used to follow Phish back in the day. No wonder that I used to get searched so much more than these days.

The Joker and I entered the festival in our rental car. Otis, GRob and the wives drove the RV down from South Carolina. Uncle Ted would be arriving on Friday. The RV crew were somewhere near Jacksonville when we got in line. Their original ETA was 5 or 6pm, but I knew they would not even be close. With the long line to get in, we bumped it back to 9pm.

We didn't bring camping equipment since we were going to camp out in the RV for four nights. We pulled into the closest camping site next to the RV sites and hoped that we'd be no more than a ten minute hike to the RV. Everyone around us set up camp and I sorted through my stuff in the trunk. I felt a few stinging sensations on my ankle, sort of like a mosquito bite. I looked down and my left foot had toppled a massive ant hole. The fuckers were angry and swarmed all over my hiking boot. They advanced an attack on my sock. A few crawled up my calf and I went berserk. I ran around the car a few times and thats when you started to hear other campers shouting and screaming. No one was prepared for the fire ants. I felt bad for some kids who set up their tents on a hole.

I stripped of my sock and boot. It took about fifteen minutes to get all of the ants off my boot. The damage was done. I had several bites and the festival had not begun.

The kids to our left were from North Carolina. The kids from our right were from Alabama. He was in a band in Auburn and within fifteen minutes at the festival, he and his girlfriend got into a heated argument.

"They're not going to last the weekend," said The Joker.

Somehow, the girlfriend forgot that they'd be camping out for four nights and failed to bring proper attire like extra warm clothing and rain gear.

At previous festivals that I attended, you got a map and schedule as soon as you passed through security. We did not get anything. I assumed that they were reprinting new schedules at the last minute since several acts had canceled such as Vampire Weekend, Balkan Beatbox, and Robert Randolph.

As I rubbed some cream on my ankle, a custy kid stopped by our vehicle and asked us if we needed any molly. He told us his lot name, Izzy and that he sold the good shit, not like the crap some others were selling. We weren't even there twenty minutes, and we had walk up service.

The shirtless kid like he was in his early twenties. He wore camouflage pants and had a few tatoos over his arms and back. A dark blue Steal Your Face tattoo on his chest stood out.

"Nice tat," I said.

"I have never seen them," Izzy said.

Um, no duh, I thought. You were 10 when Jerry died.

"But the Dead started everything I believe in," Izzy said.

The Joker and I stood in silence and looked at each other as we awaited for him to elaborate on his statement. Instead, he wandered off into the maze of tents and cars hawking his goods to the next available customer. We wondered if we would ever see him again, and really wanted to know if the fucker sold us bunk shit.

The Joker and I decided that we needed lot names. We used to be Joker and Doc, but picked new ones... Gumbo and Emilio.

We scouted out the scene and walked towards the festival grounds. We had no idea where exactly they were, but we saw a ferris wheel and walked in that direction. On our way, we found another kid slinging pharmies. He had Xanax right out of the bubble pack. That was necessary to sleep after a long night of partying. I wish that I bought more.

We found an info booth and picked up got schedules. We also saw a mountie riding a donkey. I thought that her horse looked a bit small. The mounties were there for crowd control and to make sure there we no open fires. A couple of cops would roll through on ATVs, but you didn't see too much police.

We walked inside the showgrounds since they didn't have the gate up yet. We grabbed a quick bite and it began to rain. We grabbed shelter in the general store. When the rain broke, we made a run for our car. At 5:30pm, we put on our rain gear and headed inside.

We grabbed a drink from the beer stand. They had finished setting up an an old guy was asking for a tip. I always thought that was uncouth to ask fro a tip. Besides, our beers took forever to pour and had a ton of head on it. We don't tip for below average service. Learn how to pour a beer, otherwise, seek out a more suitable profession.

The skies opened up as it rained down. Hard. Fast. Big drops. We found shelter in another tent. The Joker has footage of the rain pissing down on us. That was at 5:30pm. All I could think about was the last Phish shows in Coventry. I wondered if the first day of the festival would get rained out. The first bands were supposed to start at 6pm and the fairgrounds were empty.

The rains stopped at 6pm. We walked over to see Ben Jelen. They weren't even on stage and the Chickee stage was flooded. I reamed it the Chickee Swamp.

We caught a band called The Palominos. They won a contest where the winner got a slot to play at Langerado. Their drummer was a fat hippie guy with man boobs. But he was really the best musician out of the mix.

We headed back to the car to change clothes since we were soaked. That's when I got attacked a second time by the fire ants. I forgot about the hole and stepped in it a second time. Although I wasn't swarmed like before, I managed to get more bites. A few got on my thighs and behind my knee. A couple bit me on my hands and arm as I tried to brush them off. Nasty fuckers. I was happy that we had the RV. But where the fuck was it?

Otis called and said that he was in Sunrise. That's where were started out from. I knew he had a good three hours ahead of him. It was closer to 7pm and we figured he'd arrive at 10pm, just before Dark Star Orchestra.

With some clean clothes and a quick session, we made our way back inside for more beer and Les Claypool's 8pm set. I respect Claypool as a musician. I really appreciated his work with Primus, but sometimes his solo act is hit or miss. The guy is a talented freak for sure, but I wasn't into the first 15 minutes of his set. He had some decent moments, but I was let down. The Joker suggested that we see That 1 Guy.

That 1 Guy is actually Mike Silverman, a classically trained musician. He invented The Magic Pipe, which he plays at his show. It's made out of steel pipes with a bass string welded from top to bottom. It also has an Appalachian handsaw and a cowboy boot. Sometimes, it shoots out smoke. It's quite the contraption.

We headed back to Les Claypool. The rest of his set was much better than the first bit that I caught. At 10pm, we headed over to The New Deal. Otis texted us and said that he was still waiting in line to get in. We awaited his call.

We caught about 45 minutes of New Deal in the Chickee swamp. The New Deal is a Canadian trio that plays electronica. I first heard them in 2000. That was just around the same time that the jamband scene had an influx of bands that replicated the sounds and grooves of a DJ. Livetronica. The hippies love that stuff when they are spun night. It's appropriate late night music. Anyway, the excited crowd at The New Deal was filled with abundant energy. They stepped up and played a fun set.

We left a few minutes early to get more beer and a good spot for Dark Star Orchestra. They are my favorite Grateful Dead cover band and usually play shows with the same exact setlist from a previous Grateful Dead concert. Since they were at Langerado, I expected them to play a "greatest hits" set instead of a specific Dead show since they only had a three hour slot.

Dark Star Orchestra - Langerado Setlist

Dark Star Orchestra sounded crisp and busted out a fatty Shakedown to kick off their set. They played tight and Rob Barraco on keys was a perfect fit. Sometimes I didn't like Rob's sound with Phil and Friends because he played too loudly. They mixed him in much better with DSO. His piano/keys are not as loud and his vocals are more audible. Kick ass job all around.

Around Midnight, the gang officially got inside. We left DSO in the middle of Fire on the Mountain and somehow managed to find everyone. We rushed back to DSO and partied it up for the rest of their set including a rare Alligator and a smoking Terrapin. They cheesed out with Liberty to start the encore but closed with The Weight, which made me happy.

We made the long and arduous journey back to the RV. It was dark and chilly. The ground was wet. And we really didn't know where we were going. We slowly followed the mass of people down the main drag to the RV campsite, which was located about a mile away or a twenty minute walk.

The campgrounds were almost full and by 2am, a bevy of wasted souls cluttered the main street leading out of the showgrounds, which had quickly became Shakedown Street were kids were slinging products left and right, with whispers of pharmies, headies, molly, and doses could be heard from all angles.

Mrs. Otis experienced her first festival with a heavy drug scene. Kids randomly wandered up to her.

"Why does everyone think my name is 'Molly'? And who is this 'Doses' guy anyway?"

I had to explain to her the ways of the hippies.

"The spun out kids don't think your name is Molly, rather they wanted to know if you are looking to buy any MDNA which they nicknamed 'molly'. And doses? Well that's doses of LSD."

Speaking of doses, I had not seen that much acid before in a very long time... like over a decade at least during the last Dead tour. I guess liquid sunshine is making a big comeback.

We eventually found our way back to the RV section and stumbled around in the dark until we found the spot. We drank beers and partied it up for a bit before everyone crashed. The RV gang was exhausted after their 17 hour trip. Besides, we needed to conserve energy for the next three days.

I eventually woke up on Friday at 8:30am and started partying. I didn't sleep until 45 hours later.

Check out my Langerado photo gallery.