Sunday, August 31, 2008

burbank > jfk

By Pauly
New York City

On Wednesday, we drove down to Carlsbad to visit Jen Leo and Schecky. They bought a house several months ago and recently moved into their new digs. It was nice to see their tony little neighborhood. As a house warming gift, I gave them an authentic Pauly Painting. That particular one was painted with them, the house, and their location (a mile or so from the ocean).

We checked out Carlsbad which is a sleepy little area just north of San Diego. We ate an early dinner at some Italian joint overlooking the ocean. That was nice. My gnocchi au gratin was the clutch move of the day.

I originally bought three tickets to Radiohead's show in Chula Vista. Schecky was interested in going, so he tagged along with myself and Nicky. Chula Vista is almost smack up against the Mexican Border. We got caught up in regular San Diego traffic, border traffic, and Radiohead traffic. It took us nearly two hours to go from Carlsbad to the show. Unreal.

The last time I was in Chula Vista was to see Phish in 2000 with my friends from Japan. I was there only one other time... and that was to see Phish in 1999 with Angela. That show stood out as one of my favorite Phish shows of all time... and included a tasty 21 minute version of Boogie On Reggae Woman.

Anyway... Chula Vista is an amazing venue with top notch sound. I was excited to see Radiohead and enduring the traffic jam would be worth going through the hassle.

We had the next to last row in the seated section before the lawn. It wasn't the best seat in the house, but it was a much different scene than last Friday in Golden Gate Park. We had plenty of space.

Radiohead put on a better than average performance. I really wanted to hear Just and they also impressed me with an eerie Talk Show Host.

We drove from San Diego to LA and it took about two hours with a ton of road closures.

My last day in LA was bittersweet. I really wanted to stay behind, but I also wanted to go to NYC. I guess I was really enjoying being in one location for a while (LA for almost four weeks straight) and got used to having an apartment again.

The last day was sort of hectic. I had to finish up several writing assignments in addition to laundry and packing. I had been on the road for four months and accumulated a lot of shit. I mailed only one small box back to NYC and had to stuff everything into my backpack. I had two 2+ week trips in the future and had to pack for a different season. Although I'm going to be inside a casino for two weeks in Atlantic City, I also had two weeks in London and Holland... where the weather can be a bit tricky at this time of year.

I dunno how I did it, but I packed a ton of shit into my backpack. I didn't get to take everything I wanted, but it would have to suffice.

Nicky wanted to watch Obama's speech on Thursday night, so we made plans for an early dinner. We got back in time for Obama. I was not really paying that much attention and more focused on playing online poker instead of hanging on every word.

The Obama speech was the only bit of the convention that I watched. Over the previous days, I would get irked when Nicky put on CNN or the other alphabet news stations. I'm tuning this entire election out.

I was more excited to watch the live webcast of Radiohead's show in Santa Barbara. We posted some videos over at Coventry.

On Friday morning, I had my standard good-bye breakfast at Nick's befoe I made Nicky drive to the Valley and Bob Hope Airport in Burbank.

I arrived at the airport early and discovered that JetBlue's computer system was down. They could not issue me a real ticket and wrapped an old school baggage tag on my backpack. They told me I would get a real ticket at the gate and gave me a sketchy looking voucher that was supposed to get me through security. I didn't like the sketchy ticket. Some TSA agents can be total pricks. I've seen it happen all over America. And I had a bad feeling they were going to bust my balls when I tried to go through.

The TSA agent at the podium gave me plenty of dirty and suspicious looks while he inspected my sketchy ticket. He called a supervisor over and that's when I pointed to a sweet old lady standing behind me. She had the same ticket. They mumbled something about the "morons at JetBlue" and let me through.

As I stood in another line to inspect my carry on luggage, a different TSA agent tapped me on the shoulder. He saw a PokerStars patch on my laptop bag.

"Have I seen you on TV?"

He thought that I might have been a pro. I laughed and told him that I was poker media.

The computers were still down by the time I got to the gate. Lots of pissed of passengers, especially families trying to sit together. They had a passenger manifest that was printed out and you could only take the seat that was originally assigned. They only handed out your seat assignment when you boarded... which they did alphabetically. It took almost an hour to board everyone... which put us at least thirty minutes behind schedule.

I still had the same seat that I booked. I usually pick the same seat one very JetBlue flight. Of course when I got there, there was a Russian lady sitting there. She said that she had the window and wanted the aisle seat because she claimed that she was sick. I am a frequent traveler and that's just poor etiquette... You never sit in someone else's seat and you wait until they get there to ask to switch.

I was pissed and everyone was trying to get to their seats. I was holding everyone up. Normally, I never switch especially when someone is rude and takes your seat without your permission. But the plane was a zoo and everyone was already irate because of the computer snafus. I sucked it up and agreed to take the window seat. I gave her a stern warning.

"If you are lying and actually had the middle seat, then I'm gonna kick you out of the aisle seat and reclaim the seat that I paid for."

A couple of minutes later, a nine-year old kid with an iPhone sat down next to me in the middle seat.

I avoided all the political banter on the TV and watched a lot of the Weather Channel. They were focused on the hurricane that was headed towards the Gulf Coast. Ironically, it was three years ago this week when Katrina struck New Orleans. The History Channel had a documentary on Katrina and what exactly went wrong. I followed up that with a special on the fall of the Roman Empire.

There was one celebrity on my flight... one of the actors from "The Closer." I never watched the show so I had no idea what the fuss was all about.

Since we were running late, we missed our window. The result? We had to wait thirty minutes on the tarmac. We would end up being delayed for over an hour. I got into JFK just before Midnight and no food places were open... aside from a Dunkin Donuts stand. I ate a Cliff Bar somewhere over Pennsylvania because JetBlue got super cheap and cut out their second snack service.

My flight was kinda crappy. Holiday weekend. Lots of pissed off New Yorkers and airy Hollyweird types. Too many kids. Families with pets. Two dogs and a cat... that I counted.

My perfect airline? No middle seats. No kids. No pets. Herb friendly with wifi and plenty of TV.

My backpack was one of the first to magically appear at baggage claim. The taxi line was massive. I spotted a couple of gypsy cab drivers hustling for fares. A group of three Hispanic guys approached me. Two of them only wanted to go to Brooklyn or Queens. One would take me to the Bronx but he wouldn't do it for the price I offered. I walked away and a couple of other guys stopped me. They either declined the Bronx or wouldn't do it for my price.

I bluffed and walked to the back of the taxi stand line. That's when one of the Haitian guys agreed at my price. I had to make sure that tolls and tip were included. Once that was squared away, I followed him to his car and realized how long the taxi line was. Yeah, I got lucky.

I finally returned to NYC after four months. As soon as I walked in the door, I glanced at the mountain of mail inside a large Macy's shopping bag that had accumulated when I was gone. A nifty pile of boxes about four feet high sat right next to Macy's bag.

"Christmas in August," I said out loud.

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