Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Happy Birthday Willie Nelson!

By Pauly
New York City

Willie Nelson turned 75 today. And he's still smoking weed. Gotta love the guy.

There's a coffeeshop in Amsterdam that I frequent called Barney's. Their special is called Willie Nelson which has won best strain at the annual Cannabis Cup. Good shit.

Anyway, here's a video of Snoop performing with Willie Nelson in Amsterdam...

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

120 Hours in 1,584 Words

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA


Nicky and I woke up early and ate breakfast at Nick's Coffeeshop. I went with an egg white omelet as random Beatles songs played on the oldies radio station. We drove up to Malibu and took a long walk up and down Zuma Beach. Parts were empty except for three yellow school buses which emptied a school group onto the beach. As we walked up the northern most part of Zuma, I saw a homeless guy in a trenchcoat. He stood at the edge of the water and gazed out to sea. As we approached, I noticed that he was not homeless... instead he was some sort of businessman wearing a suit and a long green trenchcoat. He looked Middle Eastern and chomped down on a sandwich.

On Thursday night, we saw The Wood Brothers play a gig. The best part of the L.A. music scene are the dozens of medium sized spaces and little clubs peppered all around town. The availability of live music allows you to catch local acts, well, as local as local gets in L.A., which is to say those are musicians that grew up and formed their bands outside of L.A. and then moved to L.A. to further their careers. I finally checked out a venue called The Hotel Cafe. Nicky had been there several times before and the guy who took her to the Prom happened to own it. Anyway, I went the tiny Hotel Cafe to see The Wood Brothers with about 200 people max. We arrived in the middle of Carsie Blanton's set. She's a Philly-based singer/songwriter that had a curly afro who also wore cowboy boats. I described her music as folksy-cute with kitschy lyrics and her songs could have come right off of the Juno soundtrack. One tune called Gutsy and Smart stood out. When her set ended, Carsie walked past me and I realized that she was tiny.

The Wood Brothers came on at 8pm exactly and played for almost 70-75 minutes including one set and an encore. They played a mixture of tunes from their new album and older material. Highlights included One More Day, Luckiest Man, Glad, Loaded, Postcards from Hell, Atlas, and the encore of Make Me a Pallet on Your Floor which included Carsie Blanton on vocals.

Since the venue was so small, we were very close to the action, which made the show even more intimate sort of like a show at Tonic in NYC. The crowd was a mixed bag of hippies and hipsters. I expected the show to be sold out because it was the eve before Coachella and everyone was either resting up for the long weekend or checking out Rilo Kiley's gig at The Glass House.


I rushed to complete a shitload of work on Friday before Benjo arrived. He was my Amsterdam roommate... and everyone's malcontent chain-smoking French journalist. He was sent on an assignment to cover French players in the WPT Championships at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Except, all of the players busted out early and he had several days to kill. He flew out to Los Angeles for a few days. He has been to America almost a dozen times for work and only once did he get a chance to see something other than Las Vegas. Imagine that... Benjo's only perception of Americans is what he observed in Vegas, which as everyone who has visited Vegas knows... it's the complete opposite of the daily American existence.

Benjo wanted a taste of old Hollywood so we took him to a couple of touristy, yet historic places. I'm a sucker for places where writers and artists used to get bombed. I drank at the Cedar Tavern in NYC for many years, which was frequented by the abstract expressionists (Franz Kline, Jackson Pollock, and De Kooning). When I lived in Seattle, I drank at the Blue Moon where Tom Robbins, Allen Ginsberg, and Dylan Thomas drank steadily. Just last year, I drank in a couple of bars where Hemingway had frequented (the London Bar in Barcelona and Sloppy Joe's in Key West). I guess I could add Musso and Frank's to that list. I went once many moons ago, but had not been back in a long time. Nicky told Benjo how a slew of American novelists such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Hemingway at some point worked in Hollywood during the golden age in the 1930s and 40s. They wrote screenplays for the major studios and when they weren't writing or chasing tail, they were eating and drinking at Musso and Frank's. After dinner, we wandered around the corner to drink at Boardner's. Two dudes walked in with twin hookers as their fake tits nearly burst out of their tight pink dresses.


The only thing that Benjo really wanted to do was to eat at In & Out Burger. We arrived just after it opened around 11am. I went for a triple cheeseburger. It's off the menu but I got a 3x3. Kick ass. After lunch, I had to host/play in my private tournament on PokerStars. Once that was over, we headed out for a drive in the hills. Benjo wanted to see the Hollywood sign as close up as possible. On Saturday night, we went to the Farmer's market for dinner. I ate a slice of cherry pie and got a blackened chicken poboy and cornbread from Gumbo Pot. We hung out and drank at home that night and watched movies. I had insomnia and stayed up playing online poker. I lost $250.


I woke up everyone early on Sunday so we could grab breakfast at Nick's then drive up to Malibu. We got off a later start that we wanted and got caught up in a clusterfuck of a bottleneck to get into Zuma. At one point, only one booth was open since it's technically the off season. But it was such a beautiful and hot day that hundreds of other people had the same idea as us and wanted to spend a lazy Sunday at the beach. Anyway, we got held up because an SUV in line ahead of us suddenly went ablaze and the fire trucks came to put it out. They opened up a second booth and traffic slowly trickled into the beach parking lots. We found a nice spot and set up camp. Benjo got sun burned and caught a spell of sun stroke. When we got back, he was all kinds of fucked up. The symptoms that he described sounded a lot like an LSD trip. He was worried that I dosed him, but that's such an evil thing that I wouldn't do that to a person. He just had sun stroke. Nicky gave him some aloe and Advil and he went to bed. Nicky and I stayed up late and pulled tubes while we watched random videos on YouTube including several performances from Coachella, like Prince covering Creep from Radiohead. We also watched a couple of hilarious alien conspiracy videos. I recommend the shape-shifting reptilian ones for a great laugh. And yes, Hillary is a reptilian shape-shifter. Vote for Obama.


I was up early writing for a couple of hours before I woke everyone else up. We went to Nick's for breakfast because Benjo absolutely loved the breakfast there. I didn't mind because I could eat at Nick's everyday. We caught a 10:25am showing of 21 at The Grove. It's a flick about the MIT blackjack team based on two books by Ben Mezrich. I know one of the guys who played on one of the many MIT blackjack teams. He can't play anywhere in the world without worrying about getting 86'd from that casino or getting his face stomped by an old school thug. Anyway, the flick sucked ass. But it was funny to see all the Vegas cliches. Sheer boredom sunk in and in order to stay awake, I started counting chip stacks that the actors were playing with during the blackjack scenes. They shot several scenes on location in Planet Ho and Red Rock. Kevin Spacey is a good bad guy. But the movie still sucked. After the flick ended, we headed back and played some Chinese Poker. I turned a small profit against Benjo before we had to leave for the airport. We decided to have an early dinner at Pann's Diner. It was on the way to LAX and it happened to be the locale of one of Benjo's favorite flicks Pulp Fiction. They shot several scenes in there. The food was good. I had chicken noodle soup and a grilled cheese with bacon. Dessert was a massive piece of chocolate cake. We dropped off Benjo at the airport and we could tell that he was sad to go. He lives in London now for work, but he was having more fun in Hollywierd than he could in London. Plus he gets paid in Euros and the lowly dollar keeps sinking fast and his money goes a long way in America. It's like visiting a third-world country. Nicky and I headed back to the apartment and wrote for a couple of hours as we tried to catch up on work and watched/listened to more Coachella videos that The Joker uploaded to Coventry. She eventually crashed and I stayed up to pack for my trip to NYC in the morning. I uploaded a batch of photos and then sat down to write this post.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Last 5 Beach Books

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

Went to Zuma twice since Thursday and spotted a couple of people reading books.

Last 5 Books I Saw People Reading on the Beach...
1. Heat by Bill Buford
2. The Appeal by John Grisham
3. The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
4. The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan
5. Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon - And the Journey of a Generation by Sheila Weller

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Random L.A. Photo Dump

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

I shot these in Los Angeles, Hollywood, and Malibu over the last week or so...

Gruyere and mushroom omelet at Quality

3x3 at In & Out

Saturday, April 26, 2008


By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

Josh Howard dunking the dank!

Yesterday, my brother sent me this article... Josh Howard admits to smoking marijuana.

Normally it wouldn't be such a big deal that a twenty-something year old admitted to toking some reefer but since it's Josh Howard, NBA All-Star for the Dallas Mavericks, it's become a big deal.

"I don't think that's stopping me from doing my job," Howard said. "I think that everybody in the media world and in the sports world knows that NBA players do smoke marijuana."

No word on how owner Mark Cuban or head coach Avery Johnson will handle Howard's open admission of his off-season pot smoking on Michael Irvin's show on ESPN Radio.

I briefly wrote about this subject on Coventry yesterday as a part of our Weed News. I even showed off my crappy photoshop skills with an enhanced photo of Howard dunking a fatty nug of White Widow. The gang at Coventry also bestowed Josh Howard with out first ever award... Pothead of the Week. And we're not giving him the award as something cool... rather, we're making poking fun at him because only a true pothead would go on ESPN radio and admit that he smokes pot.

Howard and the Mavs were down 0-2 to the New Orleans Hornets in the first round of the NBA playoffs, before they won Game 3. If they win the series, the pot-smoking scandal will blow over. But if the Mavs lose, the boo birds and anti-tokers will come out of the woodwork and cite Howard's marijuana use as the reason the Mavs were bounced from the playoffs. I know it's absurd, but that's just how the media circus works.

What people do in their own spare time is their own business. Dozens and dozens of NBA executives, coaches, and players smoke the mary jane. Heck, NBA history is peppered with pot scandals such as Isaiah Rider and Robert Parrish.

Isaiah Rider, from the Portland Trailblazers, got busted in Oregon smoking weed in a coke can in his car by the cops. The dude was pulling in some good cash and he couldn't even afford a bong or a pipe? Anyway, the NBA didn't react too harsh. Rider was only fined two games for weed smoking. That same season, Rider was fined three games for spitting on a fan. David Stern and the NBA suits set a precedent. Smoking weed is not as bad as spitting on fans.

And then there is the Chief! Remember how former Boston Celtic legend Robert Parrish got busted for someone trying to Fed Ex a pound of weed to his house?

But there was a difference... Rider was a troubled player who skipped practices, while Parrish was an integral part of the Boston Celtics championship teams.

For a public figure like Howard to admit toking the weed to the media (on ESPN Radio nonetheless) is an incredibly stupid move. Somethings need to be kept under the radar. But the onus is on Howard. Will he be known as a productive pot smoker like The Chief? Or will be become one of the many wasted-talents of the NBA such as Isaiah Rider?

It's a known fact in the hills of Hollyweird that one of the biggest pot smokers in the entertainment industry is... Harrison Ford. Yep, he's a midnight toker. Han Solo smoked weed. Indiana Jones liked the wacky tabaccky. Of course, Ford isn't going to openly admit his penchant for the ganja. He's too smart to do that.

Howard is a just a 20-something kid and was speaking his mind. But what the hell were his agent, manager, and the Mavs PR guy doing when he said that he was going to go on the air and discuss marijuana and the NBA? They have to shoulder some of the blame.

Marijuana is a not a performance enhancing drug. For many years, the NBA didn't test for it. And as we know, professional athletes are constantly testing the elasticity of other banned substances. Pot isn't something guys are going to be smoking on a regular basis during the season, especially the playoffs. Granted, I'm sure the NBA, NHL, and MLB really could care less about a little weed since they know there's worse problems with rampant abuse of steroids, booze, painkillers, and cocaine.

But for management... the bottom line is that marijuana is still a touchy subject and that kids are getting mixed messages today from the athletes they watch on TV. If it's OK for guys like Barry Bonds to use performance enhancing dugs, then it's OK to smoke pot like Josh Howard.

For the record, if I could write at a level like where Barry Bonds hits homeruns... then I would be juiced up on BALCO products... all the time. As is, I can't score any BALCO, HGH, Cream, or the Clear... but luckily my girlfriend has a medicinal marijuana card.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Ikea Saga Continues

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

In response to my Ikeaphobia post (no need to link it, since it's right below), Nicky took it upon herself to write up something called Domestication by Ikea.

But that's nothing compared to the drama over at Odd Coupling.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

When Nicky returned from Monte Carlo, the apartment was almost spotless but the fridge was bare. I ate the majority of what was in there so we had to make a run to the grocery store over the weekend. We headed to Whole Food across the street from The Grove.

We had a list. Actually, I had a list and Nicky had hers which we wrote on the same piece of paper. Nicky is a slow shopper and that drives me utterly insane and on the brink of suicide. I'm an in and out kinda shopper. No bullshit. No lingering. I make a bee-line for what I want and then run to the register. I'll trample over blue hairs in walkers and stomp on small children if I have to. I just wanna get the fuck out of those massive stores with long aisles and bright lights. And the higher that I am, the less patience that I have with the entire process shopping and that entire drawn out drama that involves lining up. Unnecessary waiting destroys my patience and sends me off the edge and especially when the min-wage check-out flunkies are slower than slow.

We wandered into Whole Foods which was crowded with weekend pre-dinner shoppers. We divided up once we arrived into the fruits and vegetable section. I needed grapes and bananas. I rarely shop for food in grocery stores, but even I can tell the difference in the quality of fruit from Whole Foods and what I'd get from Ralph's down the street or from the Korean fruit stand in Derek's neighborhood.

I snatched up a bag of grapes and whirled around. I bumped into a young woman and quickly apologized. She said not to worry about. That's when I recognized her. I couldn't figure out who she was. An actress? In that part of town it was entirely possible. I wandered away baffled and picked out a batch of bananas. She and a friend stood behind me inspecting lemons. My inability to know who she was continued to bother me as I left the fruit section and wandered into the spices section. I grabbed a small bottle of dry Jamaican jerk spice. I suggested spicy chicken breasts to Nicky and she approved.

I wandered over to the frozen section and looked for some organic ice cream as I continued to smash my brain apart figuring out who the hell that chick was. I kept thinking "Monte Carlo" when I pictured her face. I was in Monte Carlo a year ago for a poker tournament. I didn't recognize her from the poker industry as a member of the media, or as a player, or a player's girlfriend.

I found Nicky and I tagged along with her to make sure she got the remaining items on her list and didn't lallygag. During checkout, the same girl was in the lane next to us, and I still couldn't figure out who she was. Jesus Christ, it was fuckin' killing me.

That's when I gave up and asked Nicky to step in. She connected the dots for me. The girl was an actress named Emily Van Camp. She had stint on a WB teen drama called Everwood and Treat Williams played her dad. Then the Monte Carlo connection finally became clearer for me. I caught two episodes of her show in my hotel room in Monte Carlo. It had French subtitles and I watched it while I ate an overpriced $50 room service breakfast consisting of cold toast, runny eggs, and barely cooked bacon. It's weird how my mind instantly flashed back to Monte Carlo when I saw her face. Memory is a fascinating entity.

Nicky needed a few things for the apartment since Showcase left. That meant a trip to Ikea. I had never been to Ikea before. I have been to Sweden, but never to Ikea. I have thumbed through their catalogues and put together some of their products that friends and/or family have purchased, but I have never set foot into one of those mega-stores of Swedish disposable furniture.

You can't miss an Ikea store. You can't hide a massive blue warehouse, even in Burbank. We purposely went on a Monday morning to avoid the crowds. I made sure that I was super baked for the visit. As we already know, I don't like to shop and places like Ikea scare me because they represent stability and commerce.

I know, I'm already doomed. I visited Whole Foods and Ikea within a 48 hour period. I'm either...
A. Superfan of Stuff White People Like
B. Expressing my hipster self
C. Settling down
D. All of the above
The novelty of Ikea wore off after about twenty minutes. Just about the same time the weed wore off. The first twenty minutes were sort of neat. We wandered through fake living rooms. I kept imagining Swedish people in Sweden coming home from their Swedish jobs and sitting down on their Swedish couches and eating Swedish meals cooked in Swedish pans and served on Swedish plates. I knew a couple of Swedish people. One of my clients is Swedish. I kept picturing random Swedes that I know sitting on Ikea furniture and playing online poker while Bjork played in the background.

Yes. I know... Bjork is Icelandic. Perhaps I should have said... while Abba played in the background?

I carefully inspected all of the book cases. I desperately needed one back in NYC to house dozens and dozens boxes of books that I owned. I was curious about the books on the shelves and went in for a closer look. They were not fake. They were real books... and most of them were in Swedish.

I needed one thing and I picked it out right away. The rest of the time I was bored and couldn't wait to leave. Nicky had a ton of stuff to get and would slowly inspect every single section. I was restless and wandered into adjacent sections. After I checked those out, I'd head back and Nicky would still be lingering in a previous section. That process repeated itself for an hour. I wanted to die. I overheard another couple fighting.

"What's wrong? What's the problem?" the wife kept asking her husband.

That's such a stupid question. The dude pushed around a cart with bath mats and soup spoons. He was lost inside the Ikea maze of furniture with weird sounding names and products that will self-destruct by the end of the decade.

His wife disappeared into kitchenwares as he sulked in the aisle. The guy didn't have to say a word. I felt his pain. He wanted to get the hell out of there. He didn't need his wife nagging him about why he was contemplating suicide. Those knives in kitchenwares looked sharp.

"You've lost it. You'll never get out of this maze," I said.

At one point, while Nicky checked out curtains, I was so bored that I tried out every single pillow in the pillow section. I bought one, only out of sheer guilt. I now have a Swedish pillow that I'll barely use since I rarely sleep. What kind of bullshit is that?

I take a wrong turn and I'm on the wrong path and my mind went to jelly. I succumbed to the subliminal and subtle messages that Ikea pumped over their sound system. I made an impulse purchase on something that I definitely don't need.

Out of all the people who bought pillows on Monday at Ikea in every single one of their 300 blue mega-stores in 30 countries all over the planet, I'm the person who will be using a Swedish pillow the least. I'm so fuckin' weak that I'm disgusted at my patheticness.

I checked out some of the labels on various products. They specifically say something like "designed in Sweden" but the products were made in China, sold in the US, and had directions in Spanish. Globalization at it's finest. That's Thomas Friedman's wet dream. You know two countries with an Ikea store have never invaded each other?

The torrents of helplessness subsided and we finally made it out of the store. My first visit to Ikea started out fun and quickly took a turn into the void. Ikea is a dark hole of consumerism and I ended up miserable, like I do on every other shopping trip. You couldn't make me live inside an Ikea for thirty days unless you paid me $1 million.

By the way, here's a pic of dinner that Nicky made using Whole Foods products and served on her new Ikea plates and palcemats...

And yes, the spicy jerk chicken was deliciously amazing.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Twitter Experiment

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

Jen Leo is one hip chick. She's always on the ball especially regarding cool and creative concepts. She was one of the first people to tell me about Twitter back when they were beta-testing. Over the last year or so, I had signed up for her Twitter updates along with a few friends. You can follow along directly on the website, get text message updates, and/or subscribe to Twitter feeds in Bloglines and other RSS readers.

So what the hell is Twitter? Check out the FAQ.

Well, after a year of encouraging me to join the Twitter community, I made the leap and will be experimenting with Twitter over the next few weeks.

Let the revolution begin... follow me on Twitter.
Recent Writing Music...

By Pauly

Last Five Songs My iPod Spit Out of Shuffle Mode...
1. Arcadian Driftwood by The Band
2. Party at Your Mama's House by Widespread Panic
3. I Am Child by Neil Young
4. Come Together by The Beatles
5. Bubblehouse by Medeski, Martin, and Wood

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

L.A. Paintings

By Pauly
New York City

Here are six of the seven paintings that I worked on last week.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Creative Spikes

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

My alone time has come to an end with mixed blessings. I definitely missed Nicky, but I must admit that I loved being in a place all by myself.

Insomnia affects every day of my life. When I string together several days of insomnia, I suffer dearly. However, my insomnia definitely affects and alters the sleeping patterns of people that I stay with, travel with, and in Nicky's instance... someone I share a bed with. When I'm completely alone, I can allow my schedule to run its natural course since my body is programmed for a 30+ hour day. I'd do very well on Jupiter where days are 12 times as long. Mars? Their days are like 25 hours long.

I felt well rested over the last week mainly because I slept when I wanted and took lots or random naps when I felt sleepy. I had several cat naps or power naps that lasted less than 30 minutes. Those were beneficial when working on the script.

And yes, the script has been 95% re-written. I have one final section left and then I will have a second draft complete. I cut about 15-20% of the material and I still need another merciless edit where I can trim some more fat. There are some fantastic sections and there are several blah sections where I was either too lazy to rewrite on this attempt or I just don't have the ability to make every fuckin' scene shine like the best ones. Consistency is my biggest obstacle.

I also didn't like the fact that I forced myself to finish the draft before Nicky came home. As much as I tried not to rush the work and I wrote at my own pace, I could not help but think about that looming deadline. If I really want to finish this project correctly, I need to escape for an unlimited amount of time. I might do that once the WSOP is over.

The bottom line... I almost have a completed second draft it's leaner and better than the first draft but it still has a lot of work to do. I dunno if I'll be able to seriously work on it between now and the time I move to Las Vegas.

The good news is that something happened over the past week and a lot of things clicked for me. It's hard to explain, but I kept plugging away the last few weeks and months hoping to tap into that inner pool of creativity. I kept getting close, but I finally hit the motherload over the last week. I couldn't turn off the tap. I was bombarded by millions of ideas and rushed to write all of those down. I had not had a monster brainstorming session in several months.

I finally had a firm grasp of my abilities and gained the confidence to carry out those ideas that I had festering inside the hallways of my mind. They finally presented themselves in clear and concise manner.

The result?

I started painting again, something I had not done in five or six years. After the initial painting, I realized that I had to reteach myself how to paint which was a little difficult. The result was a series of very simple paintings where I explored shading and color. I originally was going to paint over those practice paintings, but I liked them so much that I held onto them and waited to see Nicky's reaction.

Upon her return on Friday evening, Nicky was blown away especially since I whipped up seven paintings during her trip to Monte Carlo. She had no idea that I was going to do that. Plus, when Showcase moved out, he also took random items that they used to decorate the apartment. A few walls were sparse and they were in need of something... anything. There's a Pearl paint store only two blocks away. When I went for a walk one morning, I passed the store and my creative juices were begging and pleading for me to stop to buy some canvas, paint, and brushes.

I completed seven paintings and I absolutely adore two of them. I told Nicky that she could have all of them except one that I wanted to keep. I can look at old paintings of mine and instantly flash back to that moment in time. I can recall the music I was listening to and the thoughts that ruled my world as I painted every single stroke.

Painting ended up being a beneficial exercise for writing. It's hard to explain, but when you make your mind do something different, yet creative, it makes you look at things differently. In painting you have to make a lot more decisions and really think them out before you act upon them. In that sense, painting is a lot like chess because you have to anticipate three and four moves into the future before you make a current decision. There were little things that I knew and forgot like making sure you prime the painting with lighter colors first and paint over those with darker colors instead of vice versa.

Compare that to writing and I can easily erase and delete anything that I thought sucked. Or I can save words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, and scenes and use them at some other time. Writing reminded me that there's less room for error so I should take more chances. When you make a mistake in painting, it's very obvious.

Anyway, painting really juiced up my brain and how I perceived things. I'm very fortunate that all of this came to fruition while Nicky was gone. I was worried that all I would do is sit around smoke pot, listen to bootlegs, and watch non-stop sports. Well, I did that. A lot. But I also jumped head first into a slew of creative things.

In addition to the paintings, I also started a digital novel. I had been tinkering with the idea for five years. I finally said, "Fuck it." Chapter 1 is up. I admit... I was so jacked up on pharmies that night when I wrote it. I'm kinda shocked that it turned out pretty decent. I only had a few minor changes when I woke up the next morning and sobered up and realized that I created a monster overnight and that I really shouldn't have embarked on this journey especially with the lack of free time over the next few months.

Alas, I was feeling invincible like Superman and felt up to the challenge. I've already got some positive feedback and will continue forward with the project. I began it knowing that I might not finish it. Or rather, that it might go on forever, like I really need another blog to worry about. Then again, life is short and what's going on inside of me doesn't happen very too often. I'm old enough and wise enough now to realize when I'm having one of these manic-moments of boundless energy and creativity.

I also think that it took me a couple of months to break free from that dark cloud of negative energy (the devilish trinity of poker, gambling, and Las Vegas) that poisoned me over the last few years. I finally broke free of that shitstorm. It took longer than I desired, but I'm finally at a healthy place and I can see things more clearly. I still have to work in the poker industry, but for now, I'm doing things on my terms and have more control. I gave up some of the money, power, and responsibility to find a healthier balance. And right now, I couldn't be happier.

I'm looking forward to spending this summer in Las Vegas. That was something that didn't happen the last two summers. I was loathing and dreading my assignments the last two summers. However, this year, I can't wait to start. My focus is on the people. There are some solid people that I met through poker and I really want to focus on that aspect of the industry instead of the ugly corrupt nature of poker and Las Vegas. I'm even saying a lot of things like, "I can't wait to see (insert name here) this summer in Las Vegas." I have my priorities re-arranged. It's about the people and the stories this year, and not about the work, money, fame, and power.

It took me a while to understand that. All those mushrooms trips in Amsterdam finally paid off. I'm finally back on track and the creative person inside of me is driving the rest of me to new heights instead of the businessman in me pushing the artist into unhealthy directions.

Moving on...

Nicky returned from a tough assignment in Monte Carlo. I turned down the option to work this year. I did it last year and knew that it was a bitch of an assignment. Alas, Nicky needed the money and she has been getting offered all the jobs that I used to get offered, so it ends up working out OK. Again, the one big thing I missed about Monte Carlo was seeing some good friends that I know through poker, particularly the European based media that I only see in Europe and rarely get to cross paths with in Las Vegas.

Of course, I didn't miss the rude French waiters or the ever-sinking US dollar. It was bad a year ago when I was in Monte Carlo and I can only imagine it being worse today.

With Nicky gone, I made slight adjustments to the apartment. Like the toilet seat. It was up the entire week and I got to pee at will and there were several instances where I forgot to flush and I didn't get scorned about it. Nicky is a Southern California girl which means she freaks out at the slightest hint of cool air. I love opening up all the windows in the apartment first thing in the morning and letting the apartment air out. It gets chilly but I love writing with a cool breeze filling the place, especially after a night of heavy smoking.

I rigged up her speakers so we could hear music in the living room. It definitely beats the karaoke machine which is still set up so Nicky has the best of both worlds. She remarked that she loved hearing music in the common areas which was something that didn't happen much before. Nicky also let me have free reign of Showcase's old room. For now, it became my painting studio and it also is my putting green. I set up the putting machine that Nicky had bought me for Valentine's Day. It's kinda weird, but the room is empty aside from the putting green and art supplies.

I wanted to pick up flowers for Nicky. I didn't like the selection at Whole Foods an went to the intertubes. I had a coupon for 1800Flowers and picked up a batch of Ecuadorian sunflowers which they flew up to LA for me. She was pleasantly surprised with the flowers and even happier to come home to a clean apartment.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Happy 4:20 Day!

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

Today is a special holiday for potheads, closeted weed freaks, and the casual toker.

We're have a special celebration over at Coventry which included photos and some of your favorite marijuana themed videos including hilarious clips from flicks like Up in Smoke and Dazed and Confused. Some of the other clips feature Dave Chapelle, John Stewart, Brad Pitt, Anthony Edwards, and Snoop Doog. Check them out.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Sensational Week at Coventry

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

We had one of the best weeks to date on Coventry with a record number of posts. The music blog is coming along and we've been adding dozens of new readers every day and the traffic is growing every week.

Aside from the usual Phishy-centric posts, we also had lots of content on other bands and musicians such as Max Creek, My Morning Jacket, Newton Faulkner, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Galactic, Radiohead, Neil Young, Lotus, Matisyahu, and Scarlett Johansson. Yeah, that's right... Scarlet Boobs' debut album comes out on May 1st where she covers a bunch of Tom Waits' songs.

Anyway, if you haven't been checking out the music blog, here's what we published over the last week or so on Coventry...
Happy 37th Anniversary to Max Creek
My Morning Jacket - Evil Urges Download
Grace Potter and the Nocturnal Videos - Red Rocks 6.10.06
Green Apple Festival This Weekendv
Viral Video Film School - Playing Guitar
Newton Faulkner Video - Bohemian Rhapsody
Rolling Stone Magazine Likes My Morning Jacket
Roots on the Colbert Report: Star Spangled Banner
Headcount Documentary
Scarlet Johansson Album Cover
Galactic on Conan O'Brien and Tour Dates
The Joker's Posters: Radiohead - Houston 2001
Today in Phishtory: 4.15.04 Las Vegas
Today in Phishtory: 4.16.04 Las Vegas
Today in Phishtory: 4.17.04 Las Vegas
Today in Phishtory: 4.17.99 - Trey and Page Play with Phil and Friends
Down by the River Video - Phish and Neil Young
Copper Mountain Sunstation Concerts: Lotus & Matisyahu
Weed News: Get Paid $600 to Smoke Pot
Don't Stop Believing Prom 2008 Playlist

Friday, April 18, 2008

I Must Be Crazy

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

I have so much free time on my hands that I added another project to the mixed bag of tricks.

Without further ado, I introduce you to... Untitled.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I Am the Eggman

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

I used to cook a fair amount when I lived by myself. I was never a master cook, but learned to cook basic things so I wouldn't starve to death. Lots of pasta and sandwiches. Since I started dating Nicky, she takes care of cooking duties when the opportunity arises. I'm more than happy to oblige since Nicky is top notch cook. I'm definitely a lucky guy. By now she knows what types of food make me happy and manages to cook around the fact that I despise vegetables.

She's been away in the South of France for almost a week and struggling to find cheap food in Monte Carlo. She left me in charge of the kitchen and I cooked for myself a couple of times. The highlight was dinner the other night, when I made the garlic and cheese tortellini with an arribiatta sauce with sauteed onions and mushrooms.

I also have been addicted to these shakes that I've been whipping up. I found organic chocolate ice cream at Whole Foods. I have been making chocolate shakes with skim milk and adding 3/4 of a banana. Unfuckin' real. I must take a photo the next time I make the shake. That has been the shining moment of the last two days. I won't make the shake until I'm done writing for the day. It's sort of my reward. Write for several hours. Rip a binger. Make a shake. Watch sports. And yes, I'm pantsless through the entire process. I had been pantsless and shirtless all weekend during the massive heat wave, but it's a bit chilly now and I can't walk around the apartment in just my boxers.

Sorry for the tangent. Back to my kitchen stories... the lowlight of Nicky leaving me to fend for myself was a nasty omelete that I tossed out in the trash. It was so abominable that even alley cats wouldn't touch it.

During one of the Gordon Ramsay Kitchen Nightmares episodes, he berated one of the sketchy chefs for not even knowing how to make a simple omelete. He said that's the first thing they teach you in cooking school and if he couldn't make that, he had no business being in the kitchen.

Only recently did I wake up to the glorious egg revolution in my life. For almost thirty years, I avoided eggs. I know, it's weird. As my mom once said, she fed me eggs when I was a baby. I threw them up in the crib and never ate them again. I just didn't like them and always thought they had no taste. I used to be strictly a bacon with pancakes or a French Toast kinda breakfast guy.

I have traveled a lot overseas he last few years where breakfast choices were limited. Eggs always seemed to be on the menu, so I started eating them out of desperation and desire to get protein since bacon in other countries was horrible slabs on uncooked ham.

I could cook a fried egg and scrambled eggs with ease. But I struggled with the omelete. I made three from scratch and I threw out all three. The last one was barely edible. Three strikes and I was out.

I made a fried egg instead because I was starving. Oh, and I cooked up a batch of turkey bacon that Nicky had bought. It's supposed to be a healthy alternative to bacon. What a fucking hoax! Serious, that's a cruel fuckin' joke. Turkey bacon was such a let down. If having real bacon is like having sex without a condom, then turkey bacon is like having sex with a welder's glove wrapped around your junk.

I can make pretty good French Toast but struggle with the omelete. Like most things in life, you need to gain experience and practice if you want to get better. My immediate goal is to be able to make an edible omelet before I move to Las Vegas and once I get there, my next goal is to perfect a specialty omelet before I leave.

And ten minutes into this post, I start to have an internal debate on the correct spelling of omelete. Or is it omelet. I like the extra 'e' it makes the word seem classier.

So my quest to make the perfect omelete begins. I ate some good ones over the last year or so. The Bellagio makes a pretty kick as smoked applewood bacon and cheese omelete. They also have their signature omelete that is made with Maine lobster. I don't dig on sea cockroaches, but Nicky has gotten it in the past and swears by it.

Nick's Coffeeshop around the corner makes a pretty tasty egg white omelete which I get with mushrooms and red onions. This past summer, I ate a mushroom and onion omelete at the cafe in the Palms casino at least twice a week.

The writing has been going decent the last couple of days. I'm slightly behind schedule, but I'm making progress and trimming the draft. I have at least two or three really good sections and that's important to me. I wish that the other material held up to those standards, but it's so hard to maintain that level of consistency.

I stopped writing just before 4pm on Wednesday so I could make a shake before the Yankees/Red Sox game and Game 4 of the Rangers/Devils hockey playoffs. The Rangers won and took a 3-1 lead. That game was fun to watch and I got flashbacks of watching the Rangers/Devils series on Jerry and Singer and Rib's couch in Atlanta when the Rangers made their Stanley Cup run in 1994. We'd get shitfaced watching the games and then play poker until sunrise. Good old days.

I had so much fun those nights gambling and joking around and getting hammered and getting the girls across the hall hooked on playing poker and being stoned when Rib's three-legged cat hobbled through the living room and listening to Dead bootlegs when we played and how Dutch was cash poor and he had to use Dutch Bucks to play which were IOUs on yellow post-it notes that our friends actually exchanged with one another as a legit form of currency.

Anyway, the Rangers are one game away from advancing to Round 2 of the playoffs, while the lowly NY Knicks ended the season with a franchise low of 59 losses. Unacceptable. I'm ashamed to be a Knicks fan. At least there's one winning team playing in Madison Square Garden these days.

The Yankees and Red Sox had another one of those four hour slugfests. I think the final was 15-9, but it was fun to watch the Yanks beat up on the Sox, especially on ESPN. I have a running bet with Senor. We're gambling heads up on every Yankees and Red Sox game. The season series is tied at 2-2, so right now we're even and no one owes money.

I have about 42 hours left of being alone before Nicky comes home. I have a ton of writing to do and I better get to it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Busted by the Man and AlCantHang Homage

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

It happened to Skippy. Then to Bobby Bracelet. Now to AlCantHang. Bastards.

In homage to AlCantHang, here's a montage of AlCantHang...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

I booked my flight back to NYC for the end of the month. I'm gonna spend two weeks there in early May. I had one free round trip ticket remaining from all that crazy travel on JetBlue. I used the first leg to fly out to California (last week) and used the second leg to fly back. Total cost? $5 in fees. That free round trip flight is probably worth about $500 maybe more. That's not a bad frequent flier program. You get a free roundtrip for every 100 points you earn. You need at least four coast to coast trips plus a smaller leg (like LA to Vegas or NYC to Florida) inside of one year to qualify for the free flights. I used to belong to Continental or Delta's frequent flier clubs and it took forever to rack up any freebies.

I also got an email from JetBlue. It seems that the value of their inflight DirectTv entertainment system is $15. I know because that's the rebate they offered to me... $15 for not having their system functional on my flight from JFK to Long Beach. I didn't even have to send a nasty email to customer service. They nipped it in the ass right away.

I recently got an American Express gold card. I have been using that exclusively for all of my purchases. They have a decent awards program. You have to spend through $30,000 to get a free round trip flight. In the last three weeks, I've racked up $3K in charges (mostly from a week of hotel rooms and food in Vegas and concert tickets like Radiohead).

I had serious problems with my old credit card. It used to have a $10K limit, but I maxed it out after 9.11. As soon as I started paying it down, they dropped my limit. It went from 10K to 7K to 5K and to 3K where it is now. It's been paid off for about two years and Citibank refuses to extend my credit despite my good marks. When I tried to obtain a different card that featured cash back rewards or some sort of partnership with a frequent flier program, I was quickly denied. There I was charging 30K in business travel every couple of months among other expenses. Since I had a line of credit of 3K, I was forced to pay my bill once a week to make sure that I had enough room to stay in a hotel on my next journey.

When I explained my situation, the wizards at Citibank suggested that I use my debit instead if I wanted an unlimited purchases. However, debit cards are much harder to deny a charge of there is any hijinks involving the transaction, plus I got zero rewards for using it. Since I do a ton of internet purchases, I'd prefer to use a credit card and not give anyone access to my checking account.

They were a pain in the ass, especially Citibank's Fraud department which flagged about 50% of my purchases. I also felt as though I had zero freedom because I constantly had to call them up and inform them where I'm traveling otherwise they'd cockblock access to my card. I mean, I don't even tell my mother where I'm going next week, but I had to tell Citibank. What the fuck?

And I almost always got some outsourced nit who had no clue what I was talking about. On two different instances, they made mistakes and listed my dates of travel differently than I stated. That fucked me twice last year. I was furious and applied for an American Express Card. They approved me right away and I got my freedom back! I can travel at will without having to tell the nanny state. Plus, I'll get something back for making all those purchases. Citibank fucked me over the last few years and the only way I can get back at them is to not give them my business. I went from charging several grand a month to under $50... which is just a couple of bills that have automatic payment on my Mastercard. I should switch those and give Citibank Mastercard zero of my business.

That's where you have power as a consumer. We're pretty much enslaved to corporations working for them and giving money right back to sister corporations or rivals. Making choices is the only way you can empower yourself. I used to boycott McDonalds not because their food was unhealthy (I actually liked eating it from time to time and these days I sometimes have to eat fast food when I'm on the road and have limited choices), but I boycotted them because why give a ruthless corporation more of my money when I could support family run business and restaurants. Same goes for Starbucks. I'm glad that I have given very little of my income to either evil corporations over the last few years.

Anyway, off the soap box for a few minutes.

I watched a couple of flicks the other night when I had a bad batch of insomnia. I caught a Thai flick on the Sundance channel. One Take Only is the Honk Kong English title and Som and Bank: Bangkok for Sale is the Thai title. It was a classic story about a drug dealer falling in love with a hooker. Interesting thriller. I must admit that I have not seen too much Thai cinema so I had very little to base that effort against.

I also watched Alpha Dog. I had resisted since it had Justin Timberlake in it, but I really dug Emile Hirsch in Into the Wild and I discovered that Nick Cassavetes wrote and directed it so I gave it a chance. I must admit... I liked bits of the flick based on the true story of one of the biggest pot dealers in Southern California. I was surprised that Justin Timberlake had the most face time... well his character did. I had low expectations and he surpassed them.

Monday was the first day that I did not watch sports. Over the last few days, I sat around in my boxers, ripping bingers, and watching the Masters or playoff hockey, or baseball. I loved having some sort of sports on the TV while I blasted music. I have only a few more days of that before Nicky comes home and she makes me put on pants.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Melba Toast

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

When I'm totally bored or feeling down, I head to My Favorites section on You Tube. Sometimes I laugh out loud, other times I get inspired.

This is one of my favorite scenes from Dazed and Confused...

Sunday, April 13, 2008


By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

I have been on an odd sleep schedule. I crash around 2am and wake up at 5am. Then around 11am, I take a nap for thirty minutes.

I like the vibe of the 5am hour. It's still dark and cool outside. I open up all the windows in the apartment and play music at the lowest possible volume that sometimes I struggle to hear it.

7am for me is 4 in the afternoon for Nicky in Monte Carlo. By the time I wake up, she has been at work for a couple of hours. Although I'm glad I didn't go... I'm a little sad that I didn't get to see a lot of cool people I met along the way. I'll just have to wait until Las Vegas this summer.

I have been re-writing. That's worse than writing. To me it's the least appealing aspect of writing. I'm not a disciplined re-writer. It take tons of concentration and you have to go over every sentence with total scrutiny. It's actually very draining. My brain is fried after an hour of than and it take me twenty minutes to get back into gear. When I write... just let it rip and write... I can go for several hours without a break or even moving. In February I got to write in Las Vegas... and that was tons of fun. Right now? I'm struggling to find the joy in re-writing. I keep reminding myself that this is as important as writing.

Being in the apartment by myself, means that I have been playing a lot of music pretty much all day. I finally caught up on tons of new music that I added to my iPod over the last three months. I caught up on several Phish bootlegs, BTreotch's 1st Quarter mix, and listened to an assortment of older jazz that I had such as Ornette Coleman, Thelonius Monk, and Miles Smiles.

I've also been on a Grace Potter & The Nocturnals kick and listened to a couple of her recent shows. I discovered that they are opening up for Phil and Friends at the Greek Theatre in LA in May. I have tickets to that Mother's Day show.

Speaking of LA based shows, I picked up STS9 tickets for the House of Blues. They are playing two nights and I figured we could check them out one night. I caught Galactic at HoB a year or more ago. Nice venue, but they had over priced drinks and it was hard to smoke.

I woke up early on Saturday to make sure I bought Radiohead tickets. They're playing Southern California shows in August. I'm going to be in San Francisco the weekend that they play the Hollywood Bowl, but they play other two shows close by (and by close by less than a two hour drive). I missed the pre-sale earlier in the week, but I scored tickets to the Chula Vista show via Ticketbastard.

That's a cool venue located just outside of San Diego. I saw shows there when it was Coors Amphitheatre. I caught two amazing Phish shows there... including 9.18.99, which I think was one of the Top 10 Phish shows that I had ever seen. They played a 22 minute version of Boogie On Reggae Women that I still get goosebumps every time I hear the bootleg.

At the 10.4.00 Chula Vista show, I went with my Japanese friends who were on tour with me. I got busted by a security guard for smoking a bowl. He was cool and told me that I couldn't smoke. He let me keep everything and never bothered me again. We had scored some great pharmies in the parking lot from this guy I had met at one of the Las Vegas shows the week before. Those pills would get us through Shoreline.

Wow. Flashback over.

Before the Yankees game started on Sunday, I wandered over to Subway for a quick bite. Except that the line was out the door. They are running a $5 footlong special and all the cheap bastards came out of the woodwork. The two min-wage kids behind the counter were slammed. They were probably making 25 cents per sandwich made. It was balls hot too and I made a command decision to see if Nick's has an open seating.

I didn't think I'd be heading to Nick's because we usually avoid it on weekends since it's always crowded. I wandered inside and the counter seats were empty. I sat baffled for a few moments as I struggled over the eternal decision... breakfast or lunch? I intended on eating some sort of chipolte chicken sandwich at Subway, but all of a sudden I had a myriad of choices. Food options are always difficult when you are baked.

I eventually went with a 2/3 pound bacon and swiss burger. They always have the TV on in the corner. During the week it's usually on an alphabet news station. On the weekend afternoons, it's not uncommon to see sports like the Dodgers or Lakers. I watched the Lakers run over the Spurs while I waited for my burger.

I usually walk to Nick's so after I paid, I went out the door and started walking back to the apartment. I must have walked a half of a block when I realized that I drove to Subway then walked to Nick's. I turned around and headed back to Subway's parking lot. I wondered if I would have been served by then if I waited in the sweltering Subway?

When I got back, I spoke to Nicky on Skype. I cut and pasted the weather channel's current temperature for her neighborhood. 96 degrees. She couldn't believe it. Neither could I. Was it that hot?

Then again, I realized that I was sitting in just my boxers. No shirt. I had every possible window open. Nicky suggested I turn on the A/C but I was trying to tough it out.

I wrote for a bit before I turned on Game 3 of the Rangers/Devils. The Rangers were up 2-0 in the series. I missed the first two games but Game 3 was on Versus. With my luck, the rangers would lose the game that I watched. That's what happened to the Yankees. The first game of the Red Sox and Yanks series was not televised in LA. The Yanks won that one. The Saturday and Sunday games were televised nationally. Of course, the Yanks lost Saturday in a rain delay and were getting beat up on Sunday.

As I finish off this post, Yankees are still getting spanked while the Rangers lost to the Devils in OT. Ouch.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Tao of Pauly Bingo

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

Thanks to BG for wasting several excruciating hours toiling at the Tao of Pauly bingo card!

Awesome. Thanks dude... although, I'd replace Bob Weir with Phil Lesh and kill the Avett Brothers and replace it with some sort of writing vernacular or "deadline." That would make it a really juicy card to have.

Now, I'll have to look at the bingo card after I write every post to see how many references were mentioned.

Friday, April 11, 2008


By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

I dropped Nicky off at LAX. After we said our goodbyes with hugs and kisses, I sped off in her car. It was exactly 12:00. Noon. I would have eight days to myself living alone in Nicky's apartment. Showcase moved out last week and it would just be me, myself, and I.

Being alone for eight straight days is something that I have been seeking out forever it seems. I was fortunate that Nicky had a work assignment and an empty apartment. The hardest obstacle will be for me to stay disciplined and write instead of fucking off and smoking too much dope and watching playoff hockey and baseball and the Food Network.

I was still under the weather on Thursday and didn't write as much as I anticipated. I actually edited and re-wrote the first section of the script... something I have done four or five times now. My goal is to trim this draft down by 20-25%. Cutting words is so hard to do sometimes.

I felt blah most of the afternoon and self-medicated with bingers and Zicam and other over the counter cold meds. I caught up on the last episode of John Adams. What struck me the most about the mini-series is that Thomas Jefferson was about the same age as myself when he penned the Declaration of Independence. I'm digging how Jefferson is portrayed as an aloof, deep thinking, French-loving anarchist who loathed a strong centralized government. Jefferson gave too much faith in man and strongly felt that each individual has the moral rectitude to make the proper decisions.

Nicky and Showcase didn't have a stereo system and instead two karaoke machines inhabited the apartment. Lucky for me, they rarely turned them on when I was around. I love listening to music... especially in a car or when I'm alone. I prefer having it on in the background while I watch sports on mute. Music is also a necessity when I'm writing. In the past, I listened to my iPod with headphones in the apartment. Since I had the place to myself, I sought out a means to blast music. Nicky had JBL computer speakers that I rigged up to my iPod. I put the speakers in the living room and within minutes, I had a sound system. The sound clarity was slightly below average, but it was loud enough that I could hear it from the kitchen, bathroom, and even the bedroom.

The makeshift sound system worked and I got to write in an apartment swimming in music. I listened to a lot of Jazz, specifically Sketches of Spain from Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman, and a mix of John Coltrane songs that GMoney had given me.

Showcase stopped by to finish up painting the bathroom and we hung out for a bit. I was still feeling like shit and didn't work. Instead, I watched Rachael Ray on the Food Network and an episode of Gordon Ramsasy's Kitchen Nightmares.

After Showcase left, I watched the NHL playoffs and some baseball. I played poker for a bit (been on a nice run the last couple of nights) and then eventually decided to call it a night. I took some night cold medicine and passed out listening to my iPod.

I woke up at 5am. I hoped that the cold would have left my body and I could go running. Nope. I was still blah and hocked up a loogey the size of a kitten. I'm in the last act of my cold... which could be the most frustrating to endure because you're on the verge of getting better... yet still sickly. I've had a cold since Sunday that followed me cross country.

I checked email and wondered if Nicky made it safe to Monte Carlo. She had to fly to Germany, then France, before she caught a cab to Monte Carlo. I did the trip last year... except I flew from New York City to Madrid and changed planes there before I continued onto Nice. Monte Carlo is a pain in the ass to get to, unless you can afford the helicopter.

So, it's not even 7:30am. The sun is out and it looks like another magnificent day in Los Angeles. I finished breakfast and I'm fixing to take a short walk before I sit down to write (actually, re-write) for a couple of hours.

Big night in sports tonight... Rangers/Devils and Yankees/Red Sox... and too bad I'm no tin NYC to catch the action.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Bowling for $$$$

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

I finally spliced together a video of us bowling at Red Rock in Las Vegas a couple of weekends ago.

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

By Pauly

So I'm in California, why not post pictures of NYC? I took these over the weekend...

The chair where I wrote...

Drunk guy passed out on the #1 train

Hot dogs for Obama

You can view more pics over at my Flickr Gallery...

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

jfk > long beach

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

I had a solid night's sleep and woke up early on Tuesday to write. My body was still in shaky physical condition after enduring a cold and I didn't opt for a run. I walked a fair amount over the weekend, mostly wandering through the Upper West Side and Riverside Park. That was my only exercise in NYC, and I let my mind wander as I wandered. I definitely got a lot of serious thinking in during my wanderings. Let's see if I can apply what I learned to real life. Execution is always the problem.

I had one major thing to complete before I left New York City... pay my taxes. That might have been the hardest thin for me to ever do... part with so much money. I busted my ass last year only to see a huge chunk of it go to Uncle Sam for him to piss away on an overpriced war that I never voted for.

I went to the post office and experienced a rare moment. The place was empty and I walked right up to the front of the line without having to wait. It cost a total of $1.08 to mail both my state and federal tax returns. Once that was complete, I shed a little tear and said good bye to my had earned money.

I spent the rest of my afternoon packing and then I listened to WFUV for a couple of hours, while I caught up on a horde of unread and unanswered email for close to ninety minutes. Jesus, I have no idea what I used to do when I used to get 4x the volume.

I scheduled a car service to pick me up at 3pm. My flight was at 6:05pm but I wanted to avoid rush hour and left a little earlier. I picked a perfect time since there was light traffic. I got lucky and had a great driver who didn't say a word and drove super fast without me feeling like I might die. He got me to the airport in under 40 minutes and I gave him a $12 tip.

The JetBlue terminal at JFK airport was empty at 3:45pm. I was in that magical time in between the noon rush and the dinner rush where the lines were empty and travelers were sparse. I breezed through security. Considering that it was a major New York City airport, I experienced a miracle. I'm gonna make a note of that time and perhaps try to fly at a similar time in the future. The only thing about a 6pm flight is that the runways at 6pm at JFK is a air traffic controllers nightmare. That's when all of the European based planes are clogging up runways trying to take off for their red eyes to Europe.

Anyway, I had plenty of time to kill and answered another 100 emails inside of thirty minutes. I was a machine and cranked through my inbox(es), slashing and burning my way through junk email, spam, and other random emails from people who want to use or exploit me.

I grabbed a sandwich at the deli and had to wait twenty minutes until a minimum wage flunkie to walked three feet to a refrigerator and presented me with a pre-made buffalo chicken wrap. I sat down and played online poker while I tried to drown out the empty threats from a nearby mother who had zero control over her four-year old daughter. I prayed that they were not on my flight.

The Yankees played a rare late afternoon game and I went to the sports bar to catch the action. It was tied at 2 when at the bottom of the second. I wandered over to my gate and discovered that my flight was delayed for 35 minutes. That's par for the course these days. Wasting more time away in airports. I played online poker for a half hour and killed more time in the Hudson News stand. I thumbed through a couple of magazines like the New Yorker, Rolling Stone, and ESPN. I almost bought one but decided against it. Why waste the money?

I usually have at least one magazine and a book with me at all times. For some reason, I was cocky on this journey or plain lazy. I didn't have a book (the one I had been reading was left in Nicky's apartment) and I accidentally packed my script in my checked luggage. That was a horrible idea in retrospect... it was my only copy with hand-written notes from myself and Nicky!

Basically, I had gambled that I would not need a book, newspaper, magazine, or my own scribblings. That would be a terrible choice as I'd eventually discover.

I walked by my gate and sized up the people sitting there. Like most California-bound flights, there are a handful of L.A. douchebags and hot chicks with too much plastic surgery. What I was scouting out where families with rambunctious kids or anyone with babies.

I also had the opportunity to juice up my lpatop, but didn't. Instead, I answered more email as I waited for my flight.

They boarded us quickly. I had booked the flight less than a week ago. It cost me $2.50. Essentially, it was one of the three free flights I had coming to me courtesy of JetBlue's frequent flier program. All I ad to do was pay the fees... which was a mere $2.50. I got the last aisle seat too on a flight tat was 90% filled to capacity when I booked my ticket.

Seats on airplanes are always a gamble. There are a dozen potential nightmares behind every trip. Not event ninety seconds into settling into my seat, I knew that I was about to face a flight doomed to drive me crazy. There was a young mother with two small children sitting in row 15. The two kids were already arguing about who got the window seat and I expected them to be rambunctious for the entire 5 hour and forty-five minute flight.

Then a young couple sat behind me with their baby. Double whammy. Three kids within a five foot radius of me. Like a stone cold junkie seeking a fix, I tore open my bookbag in search of my pill bottle. I dug out two Xanax. I cracked one in half and popped than along with a whole one. 1.5 Xannies seemed to be the appropriate formula for three kids on a six hour flight.

Then the annoying ethnic family sat down in the row across from me. They were some sort of Middle Eastern family and appeared to be somewhat wealthy. Since the moment they sat down, all they did was harass the flight attendants. They had the arrogant chip on their shoulder and an air of entitlement surrounded the three. One of them demanded that I give up my aisle seat so another member of their family could seat nearby. I was put off by the rude manner in which they presented the potential deal. I listened anyway and discovered that all they had to offer up was a middle seat in the last row. I declined and then caught a barrage of condescending remarks. They tried to guilt trip me and I wasn't having any of it. I barked at them

"This is my seat that I paid for. If you wanted a different seat, you should have gotten to the airport early or asked at check in. And don't even think about giving me lip. You have no right to pressure me or guilt trip me into giving up a seat that I deservedly owned."

After all, it was a free flight. I spent a couple of grand in JetBlue tickets just to get the free seat. I'd be dammed if I was going to get stuck in a middle seat.

Then I caught the biggest bad beat of the flight. JetBlue is popular for me because of their inflight DirectTv service. That's really the only time I get a chance to watch TV... is when I'm flying on JetBlue. Of course, the service was out and the crew offered up an extremely vague response to why it was not working. I had already been on baby tilt and annoying neighbor tilt. The one thing that could have saved my sanity was gone.

I popped the other half of Xanax as I lamented over my lack of preparation. I had gotten lazy this past few trips. I stopped packing essential materials such as a book to read in case of an emergency. I was too cheap to buy magazines at JFK and I thumbed through them instead of buying a stack. And I had poorly prepped the juice levels on both my laptop and iPod. I was at less than 40% for both which meant that I had to ration what little power I had. I also ingested almost all of my drugs. In short, I was on a flight to hell and did not have the necessary items to help guide me through the arduous flight over Middle America.

To make ting seven worse, the baby behind me cried for the first two hours. I have no idea what the parents behind me were doing, but they sure as hell failed to shut their kid up. I wasn't the only one annoyed. A suit sitting in my row seemed super pissed too. He mumbled to me that he had two kids at home and that he would never fly without doing everything in his power to keep his kids from disrupting other passengers. The couple behind me seemed like they didn't care and that's what irked the guy next to me.

I said something tot he stewardess and asked if she had any Valium that I'd be game. She didn't have any pharmies but offered me a free drink to soothe the pain. A cheap glass of red wine was not enough compensation to have a wailing kid scream at the top of his lungs... so loud that it pierced through the protection of $400 Bose noise reduction head phones.

About 2.5 hours into the flight, I gave up and popped another half of Xanax. 2.5 in total. I had only .5 left. I never took that much Xanax and only ventured into that territory after a night of heavy high altitude partying and I'm looking to come down and stay down in order to get any semblance of sleep.

There I was, hurtling through space above Colorado on a JetBlue flight without any TV. One of the kids in front of me insisted in play peek-a-boo and I refused to acknowledge his existence. Once I did, he'd pester me for the rest of the flight. I opened up my laptop and I tried to write up everything that had happened between the time I left for the airport. That proved to be more difficult than imagined... since the head full of Xannies had made me type very sloppy and my thoughts were all over the road. I had to stop writing prose and opted to open up a blank word pad document and ramble on... part in prose and part in poetry... just random lines and disconnected thoughts induced by the Xannie haze and my tired and annoyed soul.

My flight eventually landed and by that time, I was faded. I mean completely wasted. I should have not even been awake, let alone shuffling off my plane and fighting my way through the crowd at baggage claim. As usual, Nicky was late picking me up at the airport. As soon as we got home, I collapsed in bed. I fell asleep with my clothes on. I was sick and tired and drained and jacked up on so much Xanax that I could have sedated 87% of Kansas City.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Masturbating with L'Occitane Products

By Pauly
New York City

On Friday afternoon, I checked into the Empire Hotel. I have only stayed in a hotel in New York City once before, when Nicky and I flew out last summer to see Widespread Panic concert at Radio City Music Hall. Since I've been practically living out of hotels, it seemed like an ordinary experience to me.

The Empire was located across the street from Lincoln Center. It's super expensive, but I found a great last minute deal on Expedia. Sure, I spent a few bucks for the room, but considering how expensive it goes during the weekend, I couldn't pass up the deal.

Like most NYC or London hotels, the room was very small and compact and basic. There was a huge plasma screen and an extremely comfortable bed. I did not have any problems falling asleep and in fact, I slept a little more than normal.

The shower was a bit odd... it was a rainfall shower head which was attached to the ceiling. When you turned it on, the water rushed from above in an attempt to replicate rainfall. The shampoo and soap were from L'Occitane. Very chic. It's much smoother to the touch and easier to rub one out with fancy bath gel instead of the run of the mill industrial soap that you sometimes get in shitty hotels.

I got the room so I could work on a couple of deadlines without any interruptions. I had one run-in with the maid on the first day. That particular hotel had a magnetized Do Not Disturb sign. It was large and round. One side said, "Make up my room." The other side said, "Do Not Disturb."

I was writing on Saturday morning when I heard a knock. I was ready to rip the maid in half. She pointed to the door. There was no sign. In fact, the sign was missing. Someone must have taken it off in the middle of the night. I apologized and she gave me a new sign. That was the last and only incident that I had with the maids.

I managed to make all of the deadlines. I had a little extra pressure on two of them. I have not had that sort of anxiety and intense pressure since the 2006 World Series of Poker. I had an assignment for Fox Sports and at the last minute I was told that it was going to be run on MSN's home page. I freaked out. I drank heavily. I barely slept. And I wrote a crappy piece.

I was setting myself up to fail once again. I kept pushing off the assignment and when I was ready to write, I got sick and then had some family issues to deal with. Well, I was on the clock and spending a nifty penny on the hotel room to insure privacy and concentration. I made the deadline which is like 80% success. Everything is out of my hands right now and my stomach turns every time I check my email because I'm fearing that email from the editor where I get bad news.

I got in hot water a couple of months ago for writing a racy column about going to strip clubs in Key West. It represented one of the best pieces that I wrote in a very long time and I was more than thrilled with the editor's choice to publish the controversial article. There were a few problems after the publication and one of the owners wasn't exactly thrilled. I also got one hilarious but distrubing piece of hate mail suggesting that I promote human trafficking by attending strip clubs. Regardless of that absurdity, I have to scale back the raunchiness of my future columns if I want to continue working with that publication. Since they pay me my highest rate, I'm more than willing to comply. I knew that I was pushing it, and I got pulled back a bit. If anything, I'm thrilled that my editor had the balls to publish the piece even though he knew there was a possibility that it would get all of us in trouble.

I finally completed the latest issue of Truckin' and it was only a day or two late. It had been on time (and even early a couple of times) over the last year or so. For a while, I was publishing it at the end of the month. I should be back on my 5th of the month schedule.

And shit! The content Coventry is fuckin' flying high. The music and Phish blog has multiple posts almost every day from six different contributors. In the last week or so, we had posts on a wide array of music including Radical Face, Widespread Panic, Disco Biscuits, Radiohead, Mel Tillis, Dark Star Orchestra, Thao & The Get Down, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, and of course Phish (Specifically the 10th anniversary celebration of their infamous Island Tour). And let's not forget about BTreotch stumbling upon a pre-op tranny who covers Phish songs. I wish I was making this stuff up.

The TV in my hotel room had BBC America. I watched a couple episodes of Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares. I'm addicted to that show and usually only get to watch it whenever I'm on a JetBlue flight which seems like once every ten days or so.

On Monday afternoon, I watched the Food Network at my brother's apartment. Paula was cooking this crazy insane dessert. It was home made hot chocolate which she poured into a large cup. Then she added two big scoops of chocolate ice cream. And then she added a big scoop of homemade whipped cream. Then she added chocolate shavings. And that's not all... then she busted out the chocolate spoon. She dipped a spoon in melted chocolate (two kinds dark and white) and then let it cool in the fridge. Unreal. That might have been the sickest chocolate themed dessert I had ever seen made on TV.

Rachael Ray came on next and made a bacon and onion pasta sauce. Holy fuck. I jizzed in my pants. I think I need to write a follow up post to Bong Hits with Rachael Ray.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Mean Gene Wins Pauly's Pub March Madness Pool

By Pauly
New York City

Congrats to Mean Gene for taking down the Pauly's Pub March Madness Pool.
The Money Winners:
1. The Mean Gene Experience 1230
2. Paboo's Phighting Phalli 1160
2. Red Rock Red Rocks 1160
4. Killing Ravioli 1100
Congrats to Paboo, Miami Don, Bogey, and Mean Gene for winning this year's pool. Lucky fuckers!

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

By Pauly
New York City

I rode the subways a lot this weekend and noticed a couple of books...

Last 5 Books I Saw People Reading on the Subway...
1. Paradise Lost by John Milton
2. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling
3. The Holy Bible
4. The 5th Horseman by James Patterson
5. A Severed Head by Iris Murdoch

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Truckin' - April 2008, Vol. 7, Issue 3

By Pauly
New York City

Your favorite literary blogzine returns with some of your favorite writers and a brand new one.

1. Bong Hits with Rachael Ray by Paul McGuire
My body sinks into the couch as soon as Rachael Ray comes on the screen. Rachael Ray's smile is intoxicating and any mentioning of EVOO sends orgasmic chills throughout my entire body. And when she grabs a fistful of meat, I wet myself.... More

2. Magpies Are Better Than That, All Wright? by Sigge S. Amdal
Birthdays never set well with me. Today so many days ago I was shoved head first through the vagina of a woman I didn't even know at the time, radically interfering with her and her husband's sex lives, economical situation, causing nothing but general dismay for half a year before they finally got used to me... More

3. Skinny Dipping for Christ by Betty Underground
At the other end of the pool a barefoot young woman, steps to the edge of the pool. Slender. Blonde with alabaster skin. Flawless. Angelic. She steps out of her skirt and pulls her t-shirt over her head. Standing naked, starring down into the pool, still lit from below... More

4. Axel by Kajagugu
My plea trailed off at the end as he put the car in gear and we took off. He pulled a quick left hand u-turn out of the hotel taxi line across six lanes of traffic and barely missed a young lady on her bicycle... More

5. Happiest Place on Earth by Grand Master Pants
Anyone can toss singles onto the stage, but she'd already mastered the art of tipping with style by stuffing dollar bills down her shirt, where the dancers had to be a little more, uh, creative in retrieving them... More

Tell your friends about your favorite stories. The writer's write for free and appreciate the support. Thanks again for wasting your time with Truckin'.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Panic in Spanish Harlem

By Pauly
New York City

When I heard Widespread Panic was coming to New York City, I was surprised to discover that they had booked the United Palace. I never heard of the venue. I looked it up and was shocked when I found out that it was located on 175th Street in Spanish Harlem.

Spreadheads in Spanish Harlem? Are you shitting me? Talk about a clash of cultures.

The United Palace was built in 1930 for vaudeville acts and to show movies. A church bought it in 1969 and renovated it. They have been showing plays and concerts there since then.

I had a hotel room on 63rd Street right across from Lincoln Center, which was being renovated. I checked into my tiny room and wrote for a bit before Derek stopped by. Eventually Bruce showed up for a pre-party before we went to the concert.

We took the A train from Columbus Circle up to Harlem. The train had an interesting mix of commuters, Yankee fans going to the game, and a sprinkle of Spreadheads. We got out at 168th Street and walked uptown a few blocks. I had not been in that part of town in a very long time. I used to be a process server many moons ago and had to served eviction notices to delinquent tenants. Luckily, I wasn't shot.

Anyway, we made our way up Broadway and there were a lot of locals (mostly Dominican) who had slightly confused and amused faces on as they soaked up the scene with wookies and Spreadheads mingling invading a few block radius in front of the theatre.

A guy in a beard and Hawaiin shirt wandered over and said, "Rolls. Molly. Yo."

Bruce was hungry and he kept saying things like, "We're in Dominicanville and I smell rice."

We separated. He went in search of a beef patty. I wanted to go inside and check out the venue. There was no pat down, much like the Beacon, and I walked right in. I grabbed a $7 beer for what seemed like 6 ounces of some sort of micro brew. I wandered up the intricate staircase and was impressed with the original artwork. There might have been new paint on stuff, but for the most part, the theatre looked just like it did when it opened in 1930.

It almost felt like I was in a church. Afterall, they do preform bilingual religious ceremonies in there, so it wasn't too far fetched that the theatre also doubled as a place of worship.

I had very low expectations of the show mainly because I had such a horrible week that I was happy to see any concert. The fact that it was Panic on the first of a two night run in New York City was just a bonus.

Sometimes, it doesn't matter what the setlist was on paper or whether or not the band sounded great. And it just comes down to the enjoyment factor of the show. Some of the best shows in my life have sounded and seemed unappealing to others, but for me they were awesome because I really needed to be at that place at the right exact time. This past week was tough for me. I had a lot of stressful situations with family and work and getting sick earlier in the week. In short, I was having a shitty week and the concert was exactly what I needed.

When the Joker asked me my thoughts on the show, I had to qualify my answer. He understood.Sometimes it's not about who is playing or what or how they played... the simple fact that they played was good enough.

I'll have to listen to the show again to get into more depth about how they played, especially the new stuff. I didn't take notes. I didn't even write down a setlist or bring my camera. I was there just to party it up and dance and have a great time and leave my bad week behind me.

With that said, I had a awesome time. We were in the upper loge area in the center. I was seat 1 and smack in the middle. Old school theatres have odd and even seating, so the aisles was the demarcation line. The sound was crisp, although the vocals could have been mixed a tad better.

Everyone in my section was chill and having a good time. As Bruce said, "Everyone is so fuckin' polite at Panic shows."

"That's because everyone is from the South. They have manners down there," I joked.

I love the crowd at Panic shows. They like to have fun. They get rowdy and drink and get shitty and I like hear the occasional Carolina twang.

4.4.08 Widespread Panic, United Palace Theatre, NYC

Set 1: Holden Oversoul > Better Off, Climb to Safety, Papa Johnny Road > Sleeping Man, Sleepy Monkey > Free Somehow > Pleas > Love Tractor

Set 2: Space Wrangler > Radio Child > Jack, Wondering > Second Skin > Drums > Surprise Valley** > Protein Drink** > Sewing Machine**

E: This Part of Town, Walk on the Flood

** with Warren Haynes
The boys got off to a great start with Holden Oversoul > Better Off before the threw the crowd a huge bone with Climb to Safety. My personal highlight for the first set was Papa Johnny Road. Jimmy Herring opened up a jam and went off the deep end. The boys had the double "sleep" theme in back to back songs from Sleeping Man and Sleepy Monkey. I really dug the Sleepy Monkey because thats when the drugs kicked in!

Lucky we only got two new songs. Free Somehow was one of them, but at least they had it in between a Monkey and Pleas sandwich. Panic closed the set with a booty-shaking disco-funk high-energy version of Love Tractor, which included heavy doses of bong-rattling bass from Dave Schools.

My biggest fear was an overzealous security force and a shitty first set with lots of low energy new songs. That didn't happen and I had a great first set.

Second set kicked off with another crowd pleaser Space Wrangler. I dug Jack and especially Wondering. They had a couple of layered jams with that one. Bruce dug the Second Skin.

After drums, Warren Haynes came out and played the rest of the set. he showed up at Ratdog the night before. Warren is the king of the cameo. Surprise Valley was the highlight of the second set. I'm not usually crazy about Protein Drink > Sewing Machine, but they played it loud and heavy and rocked it out. Solid versions.

The boys cheesed out on the encore. Two songs that I really didn't want to hear. Phish would do that to me. A lot.

The show was perfect for me since I had an awful week, so it rated high on my scale. I have seen much better Panic shows and I have seen a lot of worse shows. I have to wait until Saturday's show to get some more perspective.

The best part of the show for me was getting off on the subway at 79th Street to grab a slice of pizza. I noticed all these wookies and older hippies hanging out in front of Yogi's as I walked and ate my slice. That's when I realized that Ratdog had played that night at The Beacon. When I walked past the Beacon, I noticed all of these empty black balloons on the ground as a gaggle of patchy kids stood on the corner. I walked a half of a block and deflated black balloons cluttered Broadway. Someone must have had a tank! Looks like they were partying it up for Ratdog.

I kept walking South on Broadway when I spotted Gray's Papaya. It was almost 1am. I was still hungry so I walked inside and got a hot dog.