Thursday, August 27, 2009

jfk > burbank

By Pauly
New York City

The last day or so in New York City was hectic, filled with nostalgia, a mouthful of pain and an unwillingness to leave. I missed living in New York City and I spent the longest stint there than I had in a very long time. Unfortunately most of that down time was spent recharging, detoxing (a problem considering I was trying to kick pharmies until the dentist visit gave me a real reason to ingest generic vicodin), and pulling my hair out over the last leg of edits for Lost Vegas.

I also hung out with my brother. We ate local NYC foods and we watched a Jets preseason game and a lot of baseball. He caught a couple of games at the new Yankee Stadium and I finally got a chance to sample the brand new field. I was impressed with the integration of new fan amenities and Yankee nostalgia. The food was top notch and there's a selection of foodstuffs beyond dirtywater hot dogs. Derek and I feasted on $10 pulled pork sandwiches from Brother Jimmy's. We would have gotten steak sandwiches from Lobel's but the line was too long. I took a pic of the butcher slicing meats behind the glass (see pic below). I heard that those cost $15 but are worth every cent.

Derek stained his shirt when he attempted to pour BBQ sauce on his sandwich and most of it ended up on his shirt. I went with the chipotle sauce and chowed down as I watched the tail end of batting practice from the Texas Rangers. We had fourth row seats in section 326 which was the lowest part of the top level. Not too shabby viewing wise, but a tad overpriced at $70 a pop. But hey, it's the new Yankee Stadium. Kaiser Steinbrenner has bills to pay.

We had the aisles seats (in a row of 25 seats) which was good because we could get up at anytime. Sadly, we sat in the family row. One guy had his wife and three kids in the middle of the row and they kept getting up. A twenty-something year old guy and his 4-year old son sat next to me. The little one kept having to pee and they were getting up a lot. The kid was funny and repeated the things the vendors yelled, especially the beer guy hawking Coors Lights. The kid kept screaming, "I want a hotdog. I want a beer! I want a hotdog. I want a beer!"

The Yankees got off to a hot start but Joba Chamberlin blew the lead when he gave up 7 runs... all with two outs. He couldn't shut the door on the Rangers and he got rocked. The Yankees attempted a valiant comeback in the bottom of the ninth, but fell short and lost by one run.

Derek and I walked around for the last third of the game and checked out different sections of the new stadium. We hung out in the standing room only area behind the bleachers and noticed some of the obstructed views, but even those seats out in the outfield had awesome views of the remainder of the field.

On Wednesday morning, I woke up early, wrote for an hour, then walked through my old neighborhood. I stopped off at the old candy store to buy the newspaper. $2 for the New York Times? I plopped down 50 cents for the tabloid rag instead. Better sports section in the Daily News anyway. I wandered over to the Starbucks in search of a free copy of the NY Times. At 8:30am, the Starbucks in Riverdale was filled with old people, unemployed guys my age who used to work on Wall Street that were looking up charts from their lap tops, a smattering of MILFs with carriages sipping on drinks with whipped cream, and two wanna-be screenwriters in the corner working on their romantic comedies who look like they haven't shaved in weeks.

I ate breakfast at the Greek diner and listened to the last bits of wisdom from the old Jewish guys in the back booth. They spoke loudly about the chances of success for the Jets rookie QB and why Derek Jeter should be the MVP this season.

I went back to the apartment and packed. I traveled to NYC fairly light, but accumulated several things on Phish tour. After cleaning up my storage space, I discovered a few items (books, clothes, running shoes, Halloween costume, old screenplay) that I wanted to take back to LA with me. My fairly light bag all of a sudden was an overly stuffed bagged which I had to check-in at the airport. It was too heavy to lug around the airport or carry-on.

My ride was 10 minutes early which was cool. They called just as I was about to leave the apartment. We got caught in traffic and the ride was twenty minutes longer. It took almost 70 minutes and I got stuck listening to talk radio. I could have requested that he turn it off, but then I'd be pressured to talk to the driver. I was way too stoned to have any sort of conversations. If anything, I relished the last bit of alone time as my thoughts drifted as we navigated across the outer boroughs to JFK.

I loaded up on foodstuffs at the airport for dinner (Buffalo chicken Caesar wrap)and the flight (Clif bar and a large oatmeal raisin cookie). I did not have any reading materials with me (all my books were in my checked bag) except the edits/notes that Derek made on his copy of Lost Vegas. He was one of the handful of people who read the draft. His initial reaction? "Needs more trips to strip clubs with Grubby and more Flipchip Vietnam stories."

I thumbed through a few pages before I boarded my JetBlue flight to California. There was lots to watch on the free TV, so I put away the Lost Vegas edits. I watched the Yankees game, some of the WSOP episodes, and the first two episodes of the new season of Top Chef: Las Vegas.

Our flight time on the ticket said 6:10. The pilot got on the intercom and said that the actual flight time would be 5 hours and 10 minutes with 35 minutes of taxi time at JFK. I was flying out around 6:30pm which is the busiest time at JFK airport because that's peak European rush hour traffic - when the red eyes to all destinations in Europe take off in order to arrive in the morning of the next day.

For some reason, we got lucky and bypassed the huge line which saved us thirty minutes on the ground. Our pilot made up more time in the air and we arrived 50 minutes early. That has only happened once before and that was a KLM flight from JFK to Amsterdam (similar situation... we had no waiting time getting out of JFK and made great time in the air). Nicky hadn't even left the apartment by the time my flight was wheels down at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank.

We left the Valley and drove over the hills of Hollywood en route to our apartment in the slums of Beverly Hills. It was much cleaner due to a major overhaul that Nicky undertook over the last week. I realized that I spent a total of 15 days there since mid-May. Nothing is worse than paying rent on a place that you're barely at, but that's why I live in LA instead of NYC. It's much cheaper and a better value considering how much time I spend on the road.

At this point, I don't expect to go anywhere (except a few side trips to the beach up in Malibu) until Lost Vegas is complete. Until that happens, I have only one thing on my mind, locking myself in the my office and writing and editing until...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Yankee Stadium Pic Dump

By Pauly
New York City

Here are some pics I took yesterday...

Seats were removed from the old stadium

Click here to see a complete gallery of new Yankee Stadium photos.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

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

By PaulyNew York City

Back by popular demand! I've been riding the subways this week and here's what I saw...
Last 5 Books I Saw People Reading on the Subway...
1. Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture by Ellen Ruppel Shell
2. The Holy Bible
3. Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
4. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
5. House of Cards: A Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Street by William D. Cohan

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Willie Nelson, So What, and Memories in a Box Reprise

By Pauly
New York City

Kind of Blue is one of those albums that's on my list for desert island selections. It's probably my most listened to album mainly because I love writing to it. Since I try to write everyday, I might listen to it three or four or more times a week. Whenever I put on Kind of Blue, I get all fired up to write mainly because the album kicks off with an inspiring So What. Coltrane was in Miles Davis band in 1959 and he has a wicked tenor sax solo on it that one music writer once described as "arpeggiated nuggets."

Some people need coffee for their morning boost. Other need bumps of blow. I just need the right music to give me the writer's shove. There's something special about mixing the warm California sun and the right amount of Miles and Coltrane.

Sometimes Nicky wakes up at the tail end of my writing sessions with music flowing through the apartment. She announced in an extremely theatrical, yet NPR-ish voice, "You've been listen to the morning jazz hour with your host Dr. Pauly."

Most of the times I listen to Kind of Blue and have flashbacks about living in Park Slope over fifteen years ago. I lived on the top floor of a brownstone just a block away from the park with my friend Ursula, who was an artist. We shared a railroad apartment that was converted into a three-bedroom apartment. She lived in the front part overlooking the street and I lived in the back overlooking the boxed-in backyards to the other brownstones in the neighborhood. Somewhere in the middle of our elongated apartment were two little rooms that opened up into each other. That was the third bedroom. It was perfect for artistic types who could have a bedroom and a small studio/office/practice space. For some reason that middle bedroom constantly changed over tenants.

When I first moved in, a British musician named Simon lived there. He had recently joined a band named Uncle as their replacement drummer. We rarely saw him because he was crashing at the studio, or on the road, or shagging groupies off the premises. After being the phantom roommate for several months, his replacement was another musician, this one a girl from New Mexico named Laura. She played in two different bands including a a stint as the bass player in an all-female punk band called Trixie Belden. She had a mattress on the floor in one room and in the other? An amp and stands with two different basses and an acoustic guitar.

Some of the most inspirational moments for me as a writer included the period of time in lived in Brooklyn with Ursula and Laura. Ursula often sketched in the living room and I could hear Laura strumming on an acoustic guitar in the middle rooms. We were all in our early 20s and living the simple life and were individually creating in our own ways. That fired me up to write at a time when I was taking my first steps towards being a writer.

I loved it when my roommates were at work and I could crank up the tunes and let Kind of Blue echo trough the entire apartment. Those sounds and the energy of the apartment were the driving force for me wanting to be a writer instead of constraining myself to the trenches on Wall Street.

* * * * *

I found a journal that a friend had given me for Christmas in 2002. It was so nice with a Tibetean theme (Om Ma Ni Pad Me Hum) that I only wrote one entry in it... on 12-25-02. I thanked Molly for the gift and even said that it was too beautiful to destroy with my rubbish. That's what the internet is for.

In the past, other friends have given gifts that included leather bound journals and other writing books. Most of them are too cool looking and too nice that I don't want to ruin their original beauty either.

What I do need on an every day basis are smaller notebooks that can fit in my pocket. Phish tour swallowed up three Moleskins. I lost one on the lawn at Camden, NJ. The second casualty got soaked through during a storm in Deer Creek, IN. And just the other night, the most recent notebook was drenched during an unexpected pissing in Saratoga, NY.

* * * * *

I discovered an travel journal tucked away inside the pocket of an bag I had not used in almost a year. The front of the Moleskin had a sticker that said WILLIE NELSON. That was the name of an award winning strain of marijuana that blew the socks off of everyone who smoked it. I didn't think it was as good as the G-13, but it was some of the best stuff I had tasted in Holland.

On the inside of my notebook, I had the number for my UK mobile phone. Just in case I got too wasted in Amsterdam and lost my notebook, I hoped that someone would find it and call me up to get it back.

I had one note that I scribbled on the flight to Amsterdam, "Three annoying Hasidics sitting in row in front of me and arguing Talmudic law the entire flight and constantly changing seats while I watched I Am Legend > Jumper > Sarah Marshall."

Apparently, I had been working in Europe extensively covering EPT events. I flew KLM so much that I recognized one of the flight attendants on my flight from JFK. My flight was an hour early and the apartment I rent wasn't ready yet at 7:30am, so I wandered around Amsterdam at a time when most of the locals were waking up. Only on coffeeshop was open and I wandered into Barney's. I drank a green tea and purchased a gram of Willie Nelson for 13 Euros. It was enough for three joints and I smoked one and a half and got crocked. I walked through the Jordaan neighborhood and polished off the second one.

During that trip, I was convinced that I was being followed by someone from an intelligence agency. I had an odd encounter with a British ex-pat living somewhere on the Pacific Rim and working as a journalist for Al-Jazera. He had plenty of wild stories to tell. I suspected that he was MI-6. We hung out at two different coffeeshops. When we left the second one, he said that I was being followed and pointed out the guy. He was right. I was spooked the rest of my time in Amsterdam and kept looking over my shoulder where ever I went. At that point, I decided to eat mushrooms and ride the trams and hide out in museums.

My travel notebook included notes from a work assignment in London. After reading a few pages about the flat I shared with Nicky and Gloria, I remembered how much I loved the samosas from Sainsbury's across the street. I also loved riding the subway to work and listening to Radiohead's In Rainbows while walking around different sections of London and passing the hordes and hordes of people.

Nicky and I went to Amsterdam after London. Inside of a three week period, I had gone to Amsterdam twice and sandwiched around an assignment in London. Nicky had a longer assignment and only got to visit Amsterdam with me on my second pass.

After we picked up the keys to our apartment, the first place we hit up was Barney's so she could try the Willie Nelson. One day during that half-baked holiday, I visited 16 different coffeeshops. I detailed the names of every single one.

And apparently, the free red wine on my KLM flight back to the States? It sucked.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Seattle Pic Dump

By Pauly
New York City

It's been a week since I left Seattle. Here are some pics...