Saturday, December 25, 2010

Lost Vegas for Kindle, Nooks, and iPads

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Merry Christmas to everyone. Were you a good boy/girl and did Santa hook you up with a new Kindle, Nook, or iPad? If so, you're in luck because the e-book version of Lost Vegas is only a few clicks away!

Click here to buy Lost Vegas for Kindle and iPads

Click here to buy Lost Vegas for the Nook

For print copies, you can always head directly to page for Lost Vegas, or if you want to save a few bucks, right now through December 31st, you can get 10% off of print copy of Lost Vegas via Lulu using coupon code: PEARTREE.

Thanks for your support.

The Annual Re-Telling of "Auggie Wren's Christmas Story"

By Pauly
New York City

One of my favorite NYC authors, Paul Auster, published something many moons ago titled "Auggie Wren's Christmas Story." I re-read it every Christmas. So should you.

Click here to read Auggie Wren's Christmas Story.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Mini-Cooper

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I'm pressed for time, but I'm doing that "ten minute" blogging routine that I often tell my friends they need to do when they get into a blogging rut. So, now... I'm on the clock.

I live in a semi-religious neighborhood. It's a mixture of hipsters, Orthodox Jews, and a few Kabbalahists dressed in while. So it's not unusual for me to see cars driving around with oversized menorah's on the roofs. I grew up in a Jewish neighborhood in the Bronx and got used to see that around Christmas time. Since it's so sunny outside, I think that the locals go out of their way to display their holiday cheer because it's easy to forget you're in the middle of a holiday season when it doesn't feel like Christmas (or Hanukkah).

The one thing that freaks me out are the hipsters who dress up their cars in Christmas decorations -- specifically Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. One of those tards lives on my block. They also drive a Mini Cooper that is decked out with antlers on the roof and a big red nose on the front grill of the car. I saw at least two other cars dressed very similar while running errands the last two days. I guess that's better than gaudy Christmas light displays. I haven't seen any on my block, but the folks across the way have an elaborate display of blue-themed Hanukkah lights.

I really wouldn't know it's Christmas in Los Angeles, because I avoid most retail outlets and the malls, so I don't get bombarded with all of that consumer-driven holiday cheer disguised as cheesy decorations. I get random reminders when I'm at the coffeeshop and a Christmas song comes on the radio. This morning, it was Bing Crosby singing Silent Night as I devoured a plate of chocolate chip pancakes. I wore my sunglasses while all of this went down. I know, sounds like a douchey thing to do, but when I sit at the table in front of the big window, there's too much light for me to deal with especially early in the mornings when my vampire self is struggling to adjust to the radiant California sun.

Yes, I can't get into the holiday spirit in SoCal. This is a blessing in disguise because the holiday that was supposed to celebrate the birth of Jesus has been hijacked by corporations -- all of whom properly brainwashed our citizens into acting like barbarians especially on the even of Black Friday when people line up in the middle of the night to buy stuff, and then they bum rush the doors and trample anyone in their way. A religious holidays has been turned into a consumer frenzy. Much how St. Patrick's Day used to be a holy day in the Catholic Church, it had been hijacked by beer and booze companies to promote binge drinking.

Oh, well. The Catholic church used to be one of the most powerful entities on the planet. Their power has since waned and priests have become fodder for late night talk show comics, who toss out the occasional altar boy/pedophile joke. I know one or two, but I'll save that for another post.

For now, the sun is breaking through the curtains in my office and I'm shocked that it's December. My allotted time has now run, so now it's time for me to be on my way and finish up a shit ton of errands and writing before I head to Vegas this week to spend time with my brother and some other close friends.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Lost Vegas - Christmas Shipping

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

FYI... right now through December 15th, you can get 15% off of a print copy of Lost Vegas via Lulu using coupon code: STOCKING305. Books are print-on-demand, so I suggest you order in the next few days to guarantee a Christmas delivery of Lost Vegas.

Click here to buy a copy at Lulu. Use coupon code STOCKING305 at checkout to get 15% off all orders.

If you're going the Amazon route, you can procrastinate a little longer. Here's the page for Lost Vegas.

Oh, and some stunning news... the e-book has been on Amazon for almost two weeks and Lost Vegas cracked the Top 10 in a few categories.

Thanks for your support.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010


By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I read books in phases and clusters. Most recently, it's either been non-stop book reading or nothing at all. When I'm devouring books in LA, that often coincides with positive writing streaks. It's no secret that I find inspiration in books, and at the same time, I often write better when I'm reading well written material. I suppose my brain is a sponge that adheres to the "you are what you eat" school of thought, but in this case, "you write what you read."

Sometimes, the internet gets most of my reading time, which I often compare to fast food reading mainly because my diet is blogs and some media outlets (mostly meta-sites with lots of link dumps). Even the most long-form pieces of journalism on the net clock in at a few thousand words, which is hardly a hearty meal compared to what you can devour when you pick up a book.

When I'm on the road and traveling (especially spending lots of down time in airports), I might be able to knock off a couple of books a week, but because I'm mobile, I'm not writing as much. But the road is also where I pick up new books or discuss books with people I meet along the way. I always write down book recommendations. I don't always act upon those, but that list comes in handy when I'm in search of new material. About once a month, I create a pile and stack four or five books on top of each other on the desk in my office. Those will be the "books of the month" and my reading list. On average, I'll finish three out of the five. I'll lose interest in one very quickly, and the last one is often one of those books that I pick up, put down pick up again, and put down again -- but for some reason -- I don't go back to it because when the new month comes around, I have a new pile of books.

Once a year, I'll create a pile of start-stop books -- books that I started to read and stopped, but I really want to finish. Sometimes, it takes effort to plug through to the end of the book that has been slowing you down. Otherwise,, you have to be an expert skimmer.

Christmas is always a good time of year for me because I'm the recipient of a lot of books along with giftcards to Amazon and Barnes & Noble. My reading pile every January includes a dozen titles, and nothing is a better start to the new year, then delving into a stack of new books.

Nicky has been voraciously reading the last two months -- exclusively on her iPad. The Kindle app is good, but it bothers her eyes, and now she's looking into picking up a real Kindle. I'm not that jazzed about e-books. I've warmed up to them after I realized that e-copies of Lost Vegas were in high demand. I was sorta surprised when e-book sales eclipsed print copies shortly before Thanksgiving. But once Black Friday and Cyber Monday hit -- print sales took a healthy bounce upward and regained the top spot.

I'm a luddite when it comes to books. I want to read a physical copy. I want to turn the pages. I want to have a proper book mark. I want to be able to flip back and forth if I want.

I also get off on buying used books. I'm not a bargain hunter mainly because I don't buy too much stuff. Most of my disposable income goes toward traveling, music/entertainment, and funding my own art. However, I'm an avid book hunter. I'm partial to the smell of mildew from books stashed away in someone's basement. I think that stems from parts of my childhood when my mother was an avid flea market attendee at Yonker's Raceway, so while she browsed for different items, I found myself digging through splintery wooden crates filled with used books for as little as a penny (presumably those books were found in an attic somewhere or inherited from a dead relative).

When I lived in NYC, I used to stop at street vendors and inspect every book in their collection. I've bought a few gems on the street for $5 and $6 over the years. When I was completely broke, I used to spend a full day inside Strand bookstore off Union Square and find a secluded aisle and read books that I was too cheap to buy. When I really got into poker and wanted to improve my game, I devoured different poker and strategy books (with aided my poker education -- for free) at different Barnes & Noble throughout the city.

Late nights, I get a rush hunting for bargains online for less than $2 through Amazon's used book sellers. The big scam involves shipping. Well, not much a scam, but how those sellers really make money is over-charging anywhere from $3 to $4 for shipping and then go the cheap route at the post office and send it media mail. So a $2 book is really $5 plus -- but the only downside is that it might take up to two weeks for the book to arrive, but I don't care too much about that because I'm excited to get any book for under $5. I recently picked up Scandals of '51, a book about the 1951 college basketball point shaving scandals for $1.38. I read the first four chapters and already got my money's worth.

In May of 2010, I became a member of's Prime Shipping club, which offers up their members free two-day shipping for an annual flat fee of $79. My buddy Ryan said that it was the best deal on the interwebs if I devoured books and DVDs as much as he did. I decided to give it a whirl and I definitely made out in that deal by the beginning of the summer. I also found myself shopping for non-book items (like household items such as fly traps and plumbing tape) on Amazon because I got free shipping.

But, maybe I'm not the one who is taking advantage of Amazon? For one, they get discounted shipping from the big boys, so what they would normally charge me is an inflated price to begin with. At the same time, I noticed one slight problem -- the Prime shipping affected the amount of used books that I buy because Amazon offers up new copies of books at super-deep discounts.

For example, I wanted Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, a collection of essays from David Foster Wallace. Used copies were going for like $6. I don't get free shipping on third-party sellers, so that book would cost me around $9. For an extra $1.25, I can get a brand spanking new copy on Amazon (and get it delivered in two days).

Maybe that's the catch? I found myself opting for the upsale on more than one instance. I need to do a better job at tracking those transactions in 2011, because I'd really like to see how much extra money Amazon got out of me over the long run.

But for now, I'm more than satisfied with their Prime service, especially with Christmas three weeks or so away.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

"Are you sure the screenplay has to be about hookers?" said Nicky as she snapped back into her former development exec role. "If you use hookers, then the film will get an R-rating."

I stood my ground. I'm going to write my screenplay the way I want to write it. If a studio wants to buy it ( if we ever get to that phase), then shit, you bet your ass I will make whatever concessions that need to be made in order to cash a check.

Most not-creative people think that writing entails the physical act of writing. What they don't realize is that that is just the next-to-last-step (and the last step being editing what you write, which is something that NEVER HAPPENS HERE, which is why I love blogging, because I can be lazy and just turn on the mic, pollute the airwaves with my propaganda, and then exit stage left). Writing encapsulates many layers of pre-writing. This is what happens when I'm walking down the street, flipping through the channels, reading a book, or discussing a potential screenplay with my girlfriend. Most of the writing is done inside my head -- that is to say, only on thought out pieces because my afternoon writing (freelance stuff) is more calculated.

However, there are times like right now, when I just go for the stream of consciousness and open up a blank page in Blogger and begin typing, and that's what I think people think is writing, when that's more like dictating -- the pundit inside my head is preaching and I'm acting like a court reporter and just jotting down all that excessive verbage. I thoroughly enjoy that free-form for writing which I get to do most of the time in the early mornings. I can't think of a better way to start my days. I usually do my best writing after a free-write and a break when I can gather my thoughts into a more coherent structure before I sit back down to write a second session.

Even though I was not actually sitting down to write late last night, in just one thirty-minute conversation, I trashed two potential drafts as a screenplay and then decided to take the story in an entirely different direction. That's one of the benefits of living with someone who spent a decade in the entertainment industry, but then again, one of the downsides is that guidance can often hinder the creative side and all I start thinking about is commerce instead of art.

I had an idea to write a futuristic dystopian thriller about a zookeeper, but the humans are the animals so he's enslaving his own race, meanwhile a cross-bred race of human and reptilian-aliens are controlling the world. The zookeeper falls in love with a hooker seeking redemption -- one blow job at a time.

Of course, if I were trying to get a gig in Hollyweird, I'd be writing young adult screenplays about mopey vampires, or trying to write a spec script called Hangover 4: Puking in Prague, rife with plenty of homophobic jokes, S&M humor, and non-shaved nether regions on Eastern European women because most of the flick is filmed inside a Czech brothel.

These days in Hollywood, the bean counters only want to fund established brands, sequels, and whatever is trending. That's why everything kinda sucks or you see so many re-makes. I dunno how many times I've moaned, "For the price of this bomb, they could have funded ten indie flicks." And yeah, six or seven smaller indie films might be self-indulgent fodder, but I betcha you will find two or three compelling stories told in a unique and artistic way that doesn't involve any CGI or three-story high explosions in the sky.

And just so we're on the same page -- I love Michael Bay as much as Noah Baumbach. The thing about Bay is that he knows what he is doing is total bullshit, so he just decides to crank it up to the Nth degree. Instead of the Spinal Tap analogy of "11", Bay pushes it to 111. Meanwhile, Baumbach pushes the limits in his own nerdish-intellecutal New York mishmash. My point is this -- you can make three Baumbach films and five Jim Jarmusch films for the same price as a Michael Bay production -- but the bean counters in Hollywood don't want to gamble their money on spreading around the wealth. When they bet, they want to bet huge -- which is why so many sequels get a juiced-up budget compared to the original.

But I do like to see things blowing up -- mainly because I don't write about stuff blowing up. I don't think I can write a screenplay about that sort of stuff, which means I don't expect to find a job as a screenwriter in this town anytime soon. I know my screenplay concept is a derivative of "Blade Runner meets Pretty Woman meets Planet of the Apes", but that's not going to deter me from writing my "dystopian, Reptilian overlord, zookeeper falls in love with a hooker" tale.

Save a hooker, save the world.

Monday, November 29, 2010

SoCal Turkey

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Despite my proclivities to wander around aimlessly, I have spent every Thanksgiving in New York City aside from three instances. That's a surprising stat as I approach four decades on this planet.

In the late 1990s, I spent a Turkey Day in Seattle and another in Texas. When I lived in Seattle, I couldn't get the time off from work and when I was in Texas, I was too broke to fly back to New York, so I stayed put. My Seattle Turkey Day was strange indeed, which is what happens when you're friends with hippies and vegan hipsters. My friends had a vegetarian Thanksgiving, which meant zero meat products. I woke up that morning, went to the front of my house, fired up the BBQ, and got strange looks from my neighbors as I grilled up burgers on the morning of Thanksgiving before I headed to my first and only veggie Thanksgiving.

I spent the last five or six years on the road for poker, but I still managed to return to New York in November, even if it was just for a day or two. But sometimes, you have to alter tradition. For the first time in 10+ years, I skipped a NYC Thanksgiving.

I'm not going to bullshit you -- last year was a disaster in NY because my mother flipped out around 1pm (after she polished off 2/3rds of a bottle of Amaretto) and accused me of ruining Thanksgiving (even though it had only just begun) and the rest of the evening (and holiday weekend) was bloody awful. I ended up eating painkillers to dull the excruciating silence as my mother shunned me the rest of the day/night.

The worst part? I paid big bucks for that misery because airlines rape their customers during peak holidays, then toss in a couple of pricey cabs to/from JFK, and when I see that number flashing in my head, I get pissed because I could have used those funds to travel elsewhere or to fund Phish adventures. In addition to the hit in the wallet, I flew on the worst day of the year to fly -- the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I'm an expert traveler but the holidays, especially Thanksgiving, brings out the worst in people. Airports are flooded with amateur travelers and cheapskates trying to buck the system and not pay for checked luggage and they lug oversized bags as their carry-ons. I kept telling myself that the money and arduous travel was a small price to pay to see my family -- more specifically -- my brother. But when I was absolutely shit on by my mother for no reason whatsoever, she brought me to an easy decision -- no more Thanksgivings.

2010 had the added stress of TSA cock checks and radiation scans. Luckily, I made my decision to remain in California before any of that stuff really blew up. But if I were traveling, it would just be another layer of bullshit that I'd have to endure just to see my family and be ridiculed by my mother.

At some point, you have to make a stand. If my family were paying my flight, then this would be a different story because I'm getting paid to get shit on. I have to do that with freelance work -- essentially I get paid to be abused by whoever my client happens to be at the time. Family misery is not a paid gig, unfortunately. I'm a whore for the buck and I understand that life is short, so I made the easy decision to skip Thanksgiving.

Here's the thing, my family is always crazy, but they get hyper crazy during the holidays. So, I knew that I was going back East to see Phish for Halloween, so I added a week or so in New York City to see my brother and watch a few Yankees playoff games. Derek is the only reason I head home for Thanksgiving, so I just moved up that time by a month. The rest of the family was not as stressed out, so they didn't give me too much guff when I was home in October. If anything -- the flights were cheaper and it was less stressful. Too bad we couldn't do Thanksgiving in October.

By the way, I put up with the bullshit for Christmas, mainly because you get gifts at Christmas and you get nothing but heartburn for Thanksgiving. Besides, nothing is quite like New York City during Christmas time. It sounds cheesy, but the song Silver Bells is somewhat accurate when describing NYC. And the more time I spend in Southern California, the more I can't wait to go back to NY in December to soak up the scent of pine needles and capitalism.

Here's what drives me crazy about LA at this time of year. It's sunny and 60+ degrees. It's only a few days after Thanksgiving, but the radio stations are cranking out Christmas music. If you go to the Grove, Beverly Center, or Century City -- all of those malls have been transformed into outdoor winter wonderlands -- except you're in Southern California so like so many things in Los Angeles, Christmas is plastic -- it looks nice, but just doesn't fit. Because the SoCal weather reminds you of the opposite of Christmas, vendors do everything possible to fabricate a cheery Christmas vibe, which is just utterly disgusting and disingenuous because no one wants to take a photo of their kid with a jaded and out-of-work-thespian in a Santa Claus outfit sporting sunglasses, a spray tan, and a guild card.

Fucking Hollywood, man.

Moving on...

I got way off topic. I wanted to write about the first ever California Turkey Day. It also marked the first holiday that I spent with Nicky. We've been going out for almost five years and we have always been apart during Thanksgiving and Christmas. Nicky was well aware of the problems that I had back in NYC, but she was also hoping that I'd join her with her family's Turkey Day festivities mainly because (these are her numerical bullet points)... 1) they "love me" more than her, and 2) they won't ask her as many annoying questions.

It's true -- her parents like me, especially her mom (who was also born in New Jersey and migrated to the left coast) because she's a lifelong Yankees fan. I instantly won her over when she found out that I was from the Bronx and also a diehard Yankees fan. Yes, that was enough to make Nicky's father distrust me since he bleeds Dodger's blue, but he's taken a liking to me as well, mostly attributed to the ability to make him laugh with all the off-color jokes and random stories I tell them. At least I hope so; her family is mostly German, and they've taken all the Gestapo jokes in stride.

I spent many meals with Nicky's family (BBQs at her parent's house in Westwood or at the local Italian joint around the corner) and they have always been fun and not as stressful as most in-law experiences and horror stories that my friends shared with me over the years. At heart, Nicky's parents are good people. Nicky thinks that all of her personal issues stem from the darkside of parent-children relationships -- and that might be true for all of us -- however, some of the more endearing qualities that she and her sister share have origins in the fact that her parents are good people.

Luckily, I was able to share Turkey Day with them, and I wasn't lying when I said it was the best that I had in years. I know my brother is cringing as he reads this now because he knows how crazy my mother gets during the holidays when you toss it all the booze, it's a recipe for disaster. I hoped that my brother's Turkey Day back in NYC was a lot less stressful this year because my mere precense is a volatile chemical that causes an explosion whenever I'm withing a hundred foot radius of my mother. Without me in the equation, you would think that things would have gone much smoother.

But it's not me, because Nicky's family didn't go crazy because I showed up. We had a pleasant meal and they were more than accommodating to have multiple TVs on so I could sweat my bets on the different football games. Man, talk about getting the red carpet treatment. For any degen gambler like myself who paces constantly, that's as good as you're gonna get -- multiple places to watch a game and understanding people who won't give you shit for wanting to watch sports during a holiday. Shit, betting on the NFL on Thanksgiving is more American than watching the Macy's Turkey Day parade. If they start booking bets on which balloons deflate first, then I'll pay more attention to the parade. Until then, I'm betting the Cowboys game every fucking Thanksgiving. It's tradition -- Turkey, gravy, pumpkin pie, and a c-note on the Cowboys.

I used to think that I was a shitty person because my family didn't like me, but it had more to do with my choices to escape the shackles of Wall Street and pursue a career as writer which they took as an insult and indictment on their philosophy of life. I don't give them shit for living the way they do, so why should they give me shit? Alas, that's what happened over the years until I finally made a stand and broke away from the herd mentality.

So it's not me that's evil. It's just my mother's reaction to me. Maybe she really hates me, or maybe she sees my father in me which happens to be her least favorite person in the world. If anything, she's projecting that negativity of her failed relationship and marriage onto me. That shit happens all the time. It's unfair, but it's never going to change. That's why I opted out of my family's holiday gathering. No cock check at the airport. No kick in the junk at Thanksgiving.

Sometimes people just don't get along, and that's why the holidays are extremely stressful because you are forcing people to mix together who normally wouldn't speak to each other if they didn't have the same last names or shared a significant amount of DNA. Hollywood makes movies about it all the time. Books are written on the topic. Blog posts, Facebook updates, and tweets fill up the twitterverse about the stresses of the holidays. I suspect that we're all addicted to food because that seems to be the only reason people put up with the hectic travel, annoying relatives, and heartburn. They love food more then their loved ones.

My Turkey Day 2010 kicked off with rolling out of bed at 9am because I stayed up super late (past 5am) listening to old school rap videos on You Tube and playing StarFall on the iPad. Football was on at 9:30am because games started at 12:30ET on Thanksgiving. I wasn't even up an hour and was already sweating my first betting action of the day. Nicky woke up and whipped up two side dishes for the meal. One of those involved a corn dish with bacon, so Nicky cooked up an entire pan of bacon bits. Her dish got ruined by all the veggies she added to Emeril's corn/bacon recipe. When the first game was over and the side dishes were ready, we made our way to the West Side. LA is amazingly empty during Thanksgiving weekend because LA is a city where most people are transplants and the ones that are born and bred have bled to the burbs. The city is empty and a trip that could sometimes take 30 minutes to drive took less than ten.

The turkey, stuffing, gravy -- all top notch -- but it was the pie that stood out as the highlight. Nicky's mom bought me a special pie -- chocolate satin -- and I got to take it home with me. I ate most of it within 24 hours including a slice for breakfast on Friday and two slices for dinner later that night.

I watched the Jets game because Nicky's parents have a dish with the NFL network, so I was able to watch a rare instance when the Jets played on Thanksgiving. Once the game ended, we returned to our apartment in the slums of Beverly Hills to play online poker. I host a tournament every Thanksgiving and this year I actually hosted two. My brother played along with a lot of other friends seeking to wind down a long day with a little poker.

Who knows...maybe I can sneak my brother out to LA next year so he can experience a stress-free Turkey Day?

Thanksgiving is over. I survived. It's 60 degrees outside and sunny. Cue the puke-inducing Christmas music.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Museum Photo Dump

By Pauly
New York City

Here are a few pics that I snapped while roaming around the Met the other day...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Lost Vegas e-Book Now Available

By Pauly
Denver, CO

Heya gang, this is good news if you've been waiting for an electronic version of Lost Vegas. However, the bad news is that at the present moment, only a PDF version is available. An ePUB version will be out in a couple of weeks (Halloween the latest due to a snafu beyond my control). These things matter to a small section of uber-geeks, so, if you're someone who has a device that only reads ePUBS, then you'll have to wait a little longer (that includes iPads, iPhones, iTouches, and the Nook).

Click here purchase a PDF of Lost Vegas for $10.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

In the Land of Lost Violinists

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

"He said you two were screenwriters."

I smirked at my new neighbors. They knocked on our front door the other day in order to officially introduce themselves. A couple, in their mid-to-late 20s, stood in the doorway with warm wide smiles.

"They're obviously not from around here," Nicky said later on.

And from here, meaning Los Angeles, and probably not even from California. They had the fresh-faced eager-beaver look to them. We wondered if this was their first or second year trying to make it big in the City of Angels. And yes, only good wholesome people from the South or flyover states would introduce themselves to their neighbors. Los Angelenos are too self-involved to care about who's around them, unless you've stolen their parking space, then you won't hear from them. The New Yorker in me is a "live and let live" person when it comes to habitation. To clarify: leave me the fuck alone and I will leave you alone. I gotta be honest, I never made an effort to get to know any of my neighbors mainly because I like living here on the sly. I'd rather not have nosy neighbors getting into my business.

However, the folks who will be living above us is another story. We're sorta forced to interact, if anything, because we're in units stacked on top of each other and the noise issue comes into question. Plus, in the past, we've had internal disasters with the plumbing due to our lazy and cheap slumlord in the slums of Beverly Hills. So it was a good thing that they initiated contact. They seem like nice people, which is good. I just hope they can put up with all of our quirky habits like Nicky singing along with Glee, or me shouting at the TV on NFL Sundays while I'm sweating bets or frantically moaning about how much Joe Buck tilts me during Yankees playoff games.

And then there's the smoke issue, let's face it, we're heavy smokers. The former tenants above us were awesome as far as neighbors go and rank among some of the best that I've ever had in my life. If we could live the rest of our lives with those two guys as our neighbors, I'd be totally cool with that. They were two late 20-somethings (or could have been early thirty-something) guys kept similar hours as us. They were respectful, gave us space, and kept an eye on our apartment whenever we went out of town. They were sorta in the entertainment business, both tokers, one of them (if not both) played guitar, got crazy for football on Sunday mornings (both were Tampa Bay fans -- their region of origin because no one in LA is actually from here, with the one exception being Nicky, who was born and bred in West L.A.), and most importantly they stayed up to 3am playing video games, which meant that we could stay up late and blast the TV and/or stereo way past Midnight without worrying about bothering our neighbors. Those two guys were used to our unusual sleeping habits. They loved the fact that we were burners and jammed music at odd hours, although I do suspect that they might have groaned on occasion when I cranked up Phish on lazy early afternoons when they woke up past noon to the bong-rattling bass of Mike Gordon bouncing off the floorboards below them. Hey, I had my own rule -- I only jammed loud music from noon til 10pm. I either listened to music at a low volume (the early morning jazz was never more than a few notches over a "whisper") or with headphones.

"He said you two were screenwriters."

Our new neighbors thought we were screenwriters because that's what our slumlord told them we did. We complained recently about all of the crazy and loud construction at early hours because we had to work at home, so he assumed we wrote screenplays. I dunno if he had any concept of what a poker writer was, but screenwriters are usually the type of writers that would be living in LA, and he also knew that Nicky worked in Hollywood when she originally rented the apartment from him six plus years ago. He's so fucking old that he referred to the film industry as "the pictures." And yeah, it's hard to think that when I first hooked up with Nicky she was deeply entrenched in the studio system recycling trash for the pop culture masses. That's my snarky comment on what she did, a definite cheap shot and sort of a rip off of Woody Allen's joke: "In Los Angeles, they throw away garbage and turn it into television shows."

The post-modern version is "they toss away garbage and turn it into reality TV shows."

Over the weekend, I stumbled upon the film version of Land of the Lost, a semi-erotic-throw back to my youth that started the trend of fawning over blondes, and later led me on the open path that aliens exist. I'll get to that elaboration in a second, but lemme tell you rant about how fucking bad Hollywood is these days. The studio heads are spineless gamblers who are afraid to back original concepts and only place big bets one established brands.

Land of the Lost cost in excess of $100 million for Universal to make the film. They could have made five lower-concept films that would have been more entertaining, but that's how they operate and make financial decisions -- they think that a parody film of a popular 70s TV show would be a way to print money because it's worked in the past. This time, the concept was poorly executed and their $100 million bet was a bust. I knew it was going to be a bombtastic bomb before I even saw a preview. The entire notion of the film should have been an indication for a disaster.

I stumbled upon one of the seventy versions of HBO, but this one was the Spanish language version and showed all films with a dubbed audio. Alas I got sucked into Land of the Lost not because it was funny, but hearing it in dubbed Spanish made it hysterical. Nicky was out running an errand and when she returned, I embarrassingly turned it off, sort of like get caught whacking off to porn, except I kinda wish I got caught rubbing one out to a Sasha Grey fetish video instead of howling over a Spanished dubbed version of a shitty Will Ferrel vehicle.

Land of the Lost had a budget that was "estimated" at $100 million, because in all the places I looked it up, they never specifically mentioned a hard number, which meant it was probably much more and the powers to be were embarrassed by how much they pissed away on the film that barely generated $68 million at the box office. Even DVD or international s ales could save it. Nicky reminded me about advertising and marketing which is another $20-25 million tossed on top. In the end, the film version of Land of the Lost lost millions of dollars. Chaka couldn't save it, neither could the Sid & Morty Kroft branding, nor Will Ferrell's fans, nor the funny fucking dude from Pineapple Express.

I used to watch the original TV show of Land of the Lost on Saturday mornings. It was a simple story about a park ranger and his two kids, a boy and the girl. The girl was named Holly and before I knew what erections were, I felt a pulling in my loins for her blonde braids, as I sat in my tightey whities slurping on cereal in a bowl and wondering why I always felt a little warm whenever Holly was in a scene. I especially got the hot sweats whenever she was tied up. I mean, that's as Saturday morning fetish theatre as you're gonna get.

Anyway, as the story goes, the park ranger and his kids go on a rafting trip and then an earthquake hits and rips apart the earth and the river drains into the center of the earth (or the theory as put forth in the film version -- the earthquake triggered a worm hole). They end up in the "Land of the Lost" where dinosaurs are still alive. There's also an bunch of bad guys named Sleestaks, which are sorta reptilian creatures that walk on their hind legs like humans. But dammit, if Sleestaks were fucking creepy, especially when you are eight years old. Former Detroit Piston bad boy, Bill Laimbeer, worked on the show when he was in high school/college because the studio needed tall extras to play the Sleestaks.

If I was David Foster Wallace, I would insert a two-thousand word long foot note on my unification theory of aliens, but since I can't figure out how to do that on the blog, I'll just use this new paragraph to willingly delve off topic for a minute and explain part of my overall theory of aliens is that the original dwellers of Earth are reptilians, who now live underground, but once ruled the Earth, but many perished during that cataclysm that wiped out the dinosaurs. The reptilians are often mistaken as aliens, when in fact, we're the aliens who invade their planet. The reptilians are in a cold war with the greys (E.T.s and traditional aliens seen in pop culture like on Stargate), who created humans as a genetic experiment by crossing their DNA with monkeys -- hence no missing link. So there you have it -- one of those wild and wacky theories of life and aliens that I've heard many times before in different incarnations and scenarios.

Land of the Lost went with a standard television show formula and added a sidekick, this time it was a furry creature named Chaka. Derek and my friends have a huge inside joke about Chaka, so we always have a little snicker with any Land of the Lost references that include Chaka. At one point during a Las Vegas trip many years ago, both StB and GMoney told people that they played Chaka on Land of the Lost. It's so fucking random and funny and a total retarded inside joke that only drunks and potheads will find any sort of amusement with it, but at the time, we all couldn't stop laughing.

A "Chaka-like" voice was created among G-Money and myself that we use to talk to our friends when we're super wasted, or in an attempt to annoy them, because the Chaka voice is a high-pitched squeal that is both hypnotic and/or highly annoying, but it's funny as hell when we do it. Iggy told a story once about how he was on tilt driving from Indiana to Wisconsin because we got stuck in Chicago traffic while GMoney and I would not speak in anything but a Chaka voice to each other. In a separate incident, I almost got slugged by Nicky on a drive from Vegas to Los Angeles, because I was singing every song that played on my iPod in a Chaka voice. By the time we reached the El Cajon pass (about three hours into our four-hour return trip to LA), she screamed at me as we sped down the mountain and begged not to hear another sing along with Chaka. The Chaka voice was killed that day, and has appeared only once in a blue moon.

You see, Chaka is funny, and Hollywood should have been able to make money off of one of the halcyon TV shows of my youth, but they failed to replicate those warm memories of Saturday morning freedom and innocence (with a splash of burgeoning sexual sensations). Instead, we were force fed an unpalatable post-modern update of something we held dear to our hearts. In a way, the new version was an indictment on what's wrong with us, what's wrong with society, and what's wrong with Hollywood. If the suits at Universal are going to bank on established brands, then deliver on the things that make those brands amazing in the first place. If you want to put a new twist on it, then go for something totally different. It was sort of like Universal had been sitting on a script about a scientist who has a theory that dinosaurs disappeared in a worm hole that they couldn't get made, but they had a shit ton of dough to do a re-make of Land of the Lost, so they forced a marriage between an unrelated script and the re-make.

As a result, we got that trainwreck of a bomb that is only funny if you're stoned to the bejesus and watching it with an outrageous dubbed version in Spanish.

"He said you two were screenwriters."

My new upstairs neighbor was explaining to me that she knew what we did and wanted to make sure we were not disturbed because she is a musician and needs to practice at home frequently.

"I'm a violinist," she said.

Wow, a violinist in LA? That would make more sense in New York City, but LA? Go figure. This city attracts creative people from across the spectrum. She said that her practice room would be right above the room that Nicky fixed up for my office. So, as I'm finishing off the tail end of this post, I can hear some of her notes penetrate the floorboards, while a few notes echo out the window and down the alley. The barking dogs are silent for the first time in I dunno how long, and the sweet sounds of a violin are... comforting.

At least someone in this town is making beautiful art. It sure as hell ain't me, or those fucktards in the studios up in the Hollyweird hills.

Monday, October 04, 2010

e-Lost Vegas

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

This is the news that all of you uber-geeks have been waiting months for...

For more info, follow @LostVegasBook on twitter, or visit the site at

Click here to buy a regular copy of Lost Vegas.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

The Good Fences Defense

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

When I lived in Seattle over a decade or so ago, at any given time in a our humongous four story house, we had anywhere from 9 to 13 people there. During my earliest stint, a baker's dozen were among us denizens in the Big Red house a block off of UW fraternity row. Four lived illegally, which meant that they did not pay rent. Of course, the biggest moochers in the house were those fuckers. A guy we had nicknamed Crackhead Stu (for obvious reasons -- he was a legit crackhead and the black sheep of a prominent Chicago family of attorneys) got kicked out of the house for failing to pay rent, so he took up refuge in the basement and moved into a small room that was created as a practice room for former, current, and future musicians -- available to whoever was musically inclined that lived in a house that had a tremendous turnover and was comprised of mostly UW students. Crackhead Stu moved into the practice room and picked up two street kids, a young couple of runaways from Fresno, and charged them a few bucks to sleep on a tiny couch wedged next to a washer and dryer. That's how I cam across them the first time -- when I woke up early to do a load of laundry before work. I had no clean shirts and needed to do a batch. I walked in and saw a girl who barely looked 16-years old, curled up on the couch while a lump inside a sleeping bag slept at the foot of the couch. She said she was Crackhead Stu's friends and that it was OK if I did my laundry. Well fuck me, like I needed permission from a squatter to clean a shirt that I needed for work? Anyway, I felt bad from them. Crackhead Stu kicked them out three days later after they blew through whatever money they had on a bag of couple of bags of Nazi crank. Crackhead Stu promised them it was an awesome investment and that they'd triple their money and be able to afford a place of their own. They were naive and Crackhead Stu transformed into Tweaker Stu for that week he was flying high on their meth.

The Slums of Beverly Hills

The apartment building where I live in the slums of Beverly Hills might be similar in square footage as the Big Red House in Seattle, except it's only two stories and broken into seven individual units. From my understanding, Nicky and I live in one of two of the two-bedroom units. Four are single bedroom, and there's one studio.

A female artist in her late 50s lives in the studio, at least that's Nicky's theory. I'm convinced that it's a true studio and that she lives elsewhere and just goes there to paint. I'm up at odd hours and her car is not always parked there and can be vacant for days at a time. With the exception of us, she's been here the longest. The other five have moved in during the last year.

For the longest time, we could not figure out who lived in one of the upstairs units. I suspected a ginger lived there because I saw him walk in the alley a few times. I didn't know for sure if he lived there or was visiting somewhere else. But then I figured out that he was indeed a resident. On my way back from Jack in the Box one early evening while fetching a Big Assed Iced Tea, I noticed that he has parked his car, a slightly queer version of a Jetta, and slung a laptop bag over his shoulder and started walking toward our building. I slowed down my pace and let him gain lots of distance on me. I wanted to see which apartment he went to, and sure enough, he opened up a door to one of the upstairs apartments. We have six parking spaces for five units, and he got the shit end of the stick. My guess is that our landlord doesn't like gingers and made the kid resort to treacherous street parking which blows in the slums of BH. Anyway, I found out his name because the mailman couldn't fit a small box(from, so some lucky fucker won a woot off) into the mail chute, so it was left out underneath the row of mailboxes. His name was so whitebread it was disgusting. He had one of the pretentious WASPy names you'd meet at Connecticut boarding schools, who some Dun Hills, date rape their co-ed classmates with Arcade Fire blasting in the background. Yes, if there's anyone on our watch list -- it's the Ginger.

A 40+ year old woman, who drives a convertible, lives in the apartment below the Ginger. I didn't know much about her. Aside from the artist lady, she's the only other neighbor who says hello to me. She seems polite, but not intrusive, which I dig. She smokes Capris, only because I noticed she sometimes leaves a pack in her car's console. Nicky and I park next to her, so it's hard to not see that distinguishable box. The first thing that I noticed about her when she moved in was that she had a shitload of cookbooks in her kitchen, like five milkcrates stacked on top of each other with cookbooks. Since she kept odd hours, I assumed she was some sort of restaurateur or perhaps a sous chef. One afternoon, I passed by her apartment and she was engrossed in a loud conversation -- but in French. That baffled me even more. I noticed that she spends her nights alone watch cable news programs, in the dark, while chain smoking cigarettes and drinking wine.

The guy who lives in between us, is what we call angry BMW guy. He's a suit, late 20s, and dives a BMW. Nicky is convinced it's leased, and it's this is the exact reason why we joke about living in the slums of BH. Anyway, I have yet to say a word to the guy and we've been neighbors for over six months. Maybe's he's shy or depressed or just a dick. Who knows? I never had a chance to say anything because he blows me off whenever I see him. He wakes up early, out of the apartment by 8am or 8:30am the latest and the returns anywhere from 6:30 to 8pm. He spends his evenings in front of a massive big screen TV, either watching baseball or Sportscenter. I caught him playing video games once. He always orders in food and sits around in shorts and a white beater t-shirt. We presume that's why he's angry all the time -- that he's sitting around at home instead of getting laid.

The 20-something young woman who lives above the angry-BMW guy is a recent college grad (I noticed her student parking sticker right away), and like most recent grads, she's humping a shitty service job somewhere. Whenever I see her, she's wearing black pants, comfortable black shoes, and a pristine white dress shirt. Yep, standard waiter/caterer attire. Sometimes she's gone very early in the mornings. Most of the time, she leaves around 10am and returns in the early afternoon, only to bail again for the dinner rush. She goes out the most out of any of our neighbors and I'll hear her creeping up the stairs at 3am. She's given me the tepid head nod when we've seen each other.

The new neighbors above us are a twenty-something couple. I have yet to meet the guy, but he's seems a bit unfriendly during the one time I walked by him. In his defense, he was in the middle of moving in and obviously pre-occupied. I've said hello to his girlfriend a couple of times. Don't know much about them other than one set of their parents moved them in, and I wonder of they are helping these young kids pay rent while either of them chance the Hollyweird dream? Just in the apartment building next door to us (with the barking dogs), the actress/singer/waitress who is always singing in the shower (and who used to come over with her boyfriend to get shitty with us before she kicked him out) had a roommate who went deep on this season of American Idol. Who knows what their deal is -- all I know is that they got only one car, and may or may not have scratched the SUV in the driveway next door, that is owned by the guy with the loud fucking dog, who knocked on our door on Saturday morning and told me what happened. He looked pissed. I should have said something about the dogs, but then I thought he might he thought that I was the culprit and keyed his car, which I considered before I bought a dog barking zapper which shuts those fucking howling pooches up and reduces them to whining pussies.

I wonder what our neighbors think of us? "OH, THOSE DAM POTHEADS WHO PLAY THAT DAMN MUSIC AT ALL HOURS!"

Friday, October 01, 2010

The Alley Cat Wars, Vol. 1

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Diablo is an adorable pain in the ass. It's no coincidence that his name is Diablo. You see, Diablo likes taking a shit underneath our window on a patch of dirt in between two bushes. I never noticed the pile of turds until Adam (former upstairs neighbor) pointed it out. After watching all of these Hoarding shows, especially ones with tons of cats shitting all over houses leaving mountains of cat shit behind them, I sorta freaked out and took it as my personal mission to make sure Diablo found a different spot for daily deification. I cleaned up as much old cat shit as possible and hit up the internet in search of homemade recipes to prevent stray cats from shitting on your property. I found dozens of ideas from different gardening sites detailing what you can do to prevent cats from shitting in your flowerbeds.Supposedly cats dislike citrus and Cinnamon. During a late-night speed freakout, I sliced up the remnants of a couple lemon peels and grabbed a small bottle of Cinnamon. I walked outside, spread the lemon peels around the dirt patch and then sprinkled Cinnamon. Well, my intentions were to sprinkle the Cinnamon, what actually happened was that 80% of the bottle sort of rushed out and created a small reddish-brown mountain. I had to spread that around. The next morning, as soon as the SoCal sun began baking everything on the ground, I noticed the not-so fun pungent aroma of decomposing Cinnamon. It smelled just as bad as the cat shit. The next evening, during an internet search, I found some sort of pellet mixture that kept cats away. These pellets were made up of coyote and fox urine, which I learned are natural enemies to cats. Instinctually, if cats smell a hint of coyote urine, they will stay away, far away. So I dropped $20 on a can and a few days later, it arrived in the mail. It looked like a can of supermarket brand Parmesan cheese, and smelled very similar. I sprinkled it outside on the dirt patch and it looked like someone dropped a bag of cocaine. So now, this dirt patch, which formerly contained Diablo's cat feces (and who knows what other feral alley cats were also using that bit of dirt for their morning dumps), was covered in lemon rinds, Cinnamon, and now a flaky white substance that supposed contained coyote urine. I was not about to lose this war and escalated the ground attack. As a form of protest, I found Diablo sitting on top of Nicky's hood. You could see his little paw prints trekking up the semi-dusty window shield (the lack of rain in SoCal often creates a thin layer of dust that is more visible on black cars than you would think) and he plopped his fat ass on the top of the roof. I caught him hanging out there many times in the past, but when Nicky was in Argentina, he had been making that his nightly ritual. I feared that he was gonna piss all over the roof to retaliate the fact that I had taken away his favorite shitting grounds. But fuck man, I as not going to let a fucking black alley cat get the best of me.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Don't Stop the Double Roy G. Biv

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I walked into the coffeeshop. Don't Stop Believing pumped through the sound system at a moderate volume as restaurant sounds tried to drown them out. Dishes clanked as the bus boy tossed them into a tub. The grill behind the counter sizzled with bacon and a veggie burger. Snippets of conversation swirled around, while the outdoor sounds of Los Angles (mostly cars honking) rushed in whenever the front door was opened.

The TV at the end of the counter showed an episode of TMZ. I sat down three seats from the end and noticed a trio of paparazzi sitting in the back booth chowing down on a meal. Appropriate. They must be grabbing an early lunch before they stalk the Beverly Hills eateries in search of young starlets to snap and exploit.

Two booths in front of them sat a couple of folks that I'd call LA douchebags. One of them talked about starting a Facebook page for his girlfriend's dog and that's when I realized that he was trying to hire the other guy to do it for him.

I unfurled a couple of printed pages -- two different things I wrote over the week that needed editing. I scribbled down notes in the margin using a red pen and sliced and diced my way through the pieces, hoping that these quick edits will improve the quality, or at least, assuage any fears that I've gotten lazy with my work. There was a time when I was overworked and swamped with deadlines that I didn't have a choice of turning in only rough drafts or first drafts. One of my editors was kind and send she barely noticed a difference. Another assured me that a first draft from me was 1000% better than third and fourth drafts from the rest of his half-baked staff. After a while, I had to triage each assignment and determining on the importance of the publication along with the amount I was getting paid had determined the amount of time that I set aside to work on said project. For example, the lowest paying gigs got the least amount of attention and rarely got a second or third draft. Sometimes, I'd have less than a few hours to work on a piece, often starting them at 6:30 am for a 9am deadline. Conversely, for the more important clients, I used to set aside a full day of research and writing, along with additional day of re-writing and editing if necessary.

But when it came to myself (here and Tao of Poker), I was really pressed for time, and went for the super speedy write up, when I don't even look up at the screen and just type for fifteen straight minutes and then hit publish, which is my mea culpa for the abundance of typos, run=on sentences, and other gaudy grammatical errors.

It's not that I don't care about you, it's that I don't care about me and I sacrifice that time and reallocate it to those who pay me, which is important sometimes and resentful at other times, especially when I lack free time or don't get paid on time or compensated to the fullest extent of my ability.

I sat in the coffeeshop and my food arrived at the same time that TMZ ended, which was followed up by one of those home video programs where average Americans who live in flyover states submit home videos of their dogs singing like James Brown or their kids swinging whiffle ball bats into their unsuspecting dad's groin region. Most of that stuff is laugh out loud funny, but it appeals to the lowest common denominator and should have been a precursor to the popularity of YouTube.

I got a few stains on my pages and re-read my pieces a second time before I left a 30% tip and paid my bill. A couple of motorcycle cops walked in while I walked out. I hoped that I didn't smell too much like weed.

I walked back to the apartment and I gaze up at a few sporadic clouds in the sky. The previous nights was sort of like a carnival in the sky with a odd sun shower that sprinkled over our building for 10 minutes while the buildings on either side were spared any water. My neighbors stood in the street and pointed up at the multi-colored sky, something that resembled a Bob Ross painting with pink and orange puffy clouds. Nicky had left a few minutes before to pick us up Indian food in Beverly Hills and she sent me a text that it was pouring there and that a couple of hipsters were standing in the middle of the street snapping iPhone pics of a double rainbow.

Usually, LA fabricates double rainbows, but we've been blessed with one. A real one. And we didn't have to put on special 3D glasses to watch it.

I never heard of a double rainbow before that crazy wook in the YouTube video got his fifteen minutes of fame jizzing in his pants over the bows. I saw one at Jones Beach this summer before a Phish show. It was kinda funny to hear people screaming like the wook in the video, poking fun at the absurd enthusiasm.

May your world be filled with double rainbows.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Mad Men Haikus, Vol. 1

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I dunno why I wrote one in the first place, but I'm hooked on writing haikus after watching an episode of Mad Men.
Haiku #1
Duck's dookie attempt
In Roger Sterling's office
Foiled by Peggy

Haiku #2
Betty chugs vodka
Don sucked off backseat taxi
Wet blanket Peggy

Haiku #3
Bad mother Betty
Sally runs away from home
Future lesbian

Monday, September 20, 2010

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Experimental Poetry: 3:34am

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Sullen faces sold
Jealous days follow wanton blurred nights
Mannerless mimes, sloppy haircuts
God-fearing and patriotic citizen
Hustling ideas
Pitched from businessmen in faded polka dot ties
Gazing at a Tokyo shrine to set the mind
Forget to set the table
Gazing at expressionless silence
The beaver revival vaguely looms outside Strawberry Fields
Brilliant tactics to drown the static, cotton for earplugs
Stale sensibilities create shy horizons
Lusty enlightenment of a Sunday backyard barbecue
Angular persona
Sonic textures and crinkles
Street corner musicians shouting falsettos
Another dying tradition
Watching skin flicks
Aging starlet's fabricated boobs resemble bruised fruit
Organic masturbation for schizophrenics

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

In Case You Missed It... This Week in Poker

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Here's my appearance on This Week in Poker that we recorded live on Tuesday afternoon in the This Week In studios in Santa Monica. We discuss Lost Vegas, but touched on the Phish book that I'm writing and I sneak in a nice little rant about the media being nothing more than propoganda.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Discussing Lost Vegas on This Week in Poker

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I will be a guest today on This Week in Poker, a weekly webcast about all things poker hosted by my friends who run Wicked Chops Poker website. This Week in Poker is part of This Week In web TV network and airs every Tuesday at 7pm ET or 4pm PT.

You can watch/stream the episodes live at

I will be an in-studio guest on this week's episode talking about Lost Vegas. Other guests this week include Lacey Jones, Andy Bloch, and Jess Welman (aka the Tina Fey of poker).

Tune in live today at 7pm ET or 4pm PT (and 5pm MT for all the Colorado freaks). This Week in Poker in interactive, which means that you can even ask questions during the webcast on the site or via Twitter. Send your questions via @replies to @twi_poker.

Anyway... I was fortunate enough to be a guest on the inaugural episode of This Week of Poker with Jen Tilly a few months ago. You can watch that episode below...

Here's last week's episode with Scott Huff...

Don't forget to tune in today at 7pm ET/4pm PT to watch This Week in Poker.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Experimental Poetry: 5:14am

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I'm a bit wired and trying to wind down the night after my assignment ended a few minutes ago. I flipped on the TV and decided to extract bits of dialogue (lots of infomercials at the 5am hours) and turn them into a nonsensical poem with other random words jingling around my head. I have no idea what to expect, but sometimes you have to shake things up. Welcome to a new installment of Experimental Poetry.


Warmth on this September morning
Free samples for tragic dolphins
Profound goodness for the uncontrollable talking heads
Somber feelings lingering on innocuous depression
Emotional faces on the hypersensitive pedestrians
Limp, tender fingers slide over a wrinkled teal sweater
Recognize an unreal surrealist painting, if only to impress
Spirals of laughter fade into the cacophony of pre-rush hour traffic
Above ground swimming pool leaking chlorine
Avoiding success, ignoring the lack of a defined objective
Echoing octaves, sharp spasms
Frightening scrambled eggs
Hefty commodities, fragile dreams
Deep red petals melt in the precious morning sun
Painful protesters blurting out anti-police rhetoric
Dizzy winds swirls to a point of misunderstanding
Shallow pools of creativity from exhausted musicians
Bedroom ceilings crack under the weight of the elephant races on the roof
Glistening crystals dangle from vague necks
Curves tangled, keys jangled
Interrupting the monotone voice of the business reporter
Slender actresses in black tights yapping on cell phones
Disrupting elders, losing decade long allies
Awaken by the smells of exasperating chemicals
Ignoring invitations to a child's birthday party
Plucked parrot feathers overhead
Sweet moonlight illuminates the triangular tower
Floating diseases taunt melting spirituality
Critics group everyone together
Individuals ignore the traditional aesthetics
Jolted rhythms, shuddering memories
Shrill machines and circular saws
Squinting to see spaceships pause in the desert sky
Stuck in line again, unable to see the possibilities
Clinging to new batches of pudding

Monday, September 06, 2010

Hot August Night (Fiction)

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

In high school when things got rough, Birdy ditched class and drove to Denny's on the outskirt of town. She sat in one of the back booths and drank coffee for hours on end. Always with lots of milk and lots of sugar.

"The waitress was named Doris or Dorothy or Dee or something like that," Birdy told me. "She knew that something was wrong with me, but never said anything. She was polite and never asked questions. The last thing I wanted to do was talk... to her... about my problems. It's never easy being 17."

When Birdy ditched classes for a week straight, school officials notified her grandmother who acted as her official guardian for the last two years of high school. Her mother had a nervous breakdown, which was a polite way of saying that she ran off to Reno with a wanna-be wiseguy who was a third-rate check forger and second-rate safe cracker. Birdy's alkie father was long gone -- a distant memory aside from a faded picture that she used to obsessively stare out for hours on end. To this day I don't know if he died or he just left the family, because she never talked about him. Birdy was stuck living with her grandmother, a religious nut who clipped coupons all day and watched reruns of Little House on the Prairie.

"That's one of the many reasons I life Ohio," she said. "Well that, and all the redneck methheads."

These days, Birdy reverted back to old behavior whenever she was grief stricken. When things got too crazy at the office, she skipped out and hung out at a Greek diner on Third Avenue. She walked seven blocks out of her way, and past two other more popular diners, to make sure no one at her office saw her. I became fascinated with her routine -- she'd sneak out of the office, smoke a cigarette, buy a magazine at the newsstand and head to the diner. She always sat at the counter, ate wheat toast, and drank coffee with lots of milk and lots of sugar. She sat there until she finished the magazine, then she went outside, smoked two more cigarettes, bought another magazine, walked to the park and read until lunch time, then headed to the museum. It was closed on Mondays, so that was movie day and she went to the artsy theatre near Lincoln Center that played indie flicks. She'd sneak back into the office just before mostly everyone left for the day, which drew the stink eye from many of her co-workers. Birdy didn't care. She hated them all out of principle and was doing everything possible to get fired.

To cut up lines or crush up Ritalin, Birdy always used a Neil Diamond CD. Hot August Nights. It was missing Disc 2. Don't ask why, Neil Diamond just sort of happened like that one night, and ever since it became part of the ritual. Just like how most cocaine addictions begin, it started out casual and escalated. Birdy was originally a weekend dabbler when she moved to New York. She limited herself to a few keys bumps in bathroom in different bars on the Lower East Side. When things got a little boring with her life, Birdy graduated to buying her own eight balls from the elderely Dominican gypsy cab driver that a friend of a friend of a friend.

Birdy's weekend binges started earlier and earlier -- Thursday nights, then Wednesday nights and Birdy began skipping work on Mondays, which she spent most of Monday mornings ripping lines and watching Regis and Kelly. Everyone in the office noticed and hated her for her habitual absences. For the last month, I was running a "When Does Birdy Get Fired Pool" and the prize pool jumped up to over $1,500.

I never particularly liked Neil Diamond. I always thought that he was fake cool and not tough, like if he and Van Morrison got into a fight, Van would kick the living shit out of him. But then again, Van had a mean Irish temper and was a bit on the crazy side. Neil seemed to be too much of a pretty boy to win a physical test of strength.

"They used to call him the Jewish Elvis," explained Birdy. "That's what my grams called him, except she didn't say that in a fond way. Grams was full of hate when it came to..."

"Elvis?" I blurted out.

"Yeah," said Birdy. "She hated Elvis... and Jews too."

Birdy didn't like to talk much, so when she did, I attentively listened. I always felt a bit sorry for her. She was always in a dour mood, but she was hardly a negative person. I guess that's why she preferred cocaine and other stimulants -- to help pull her out of the doldrums.

I was curious about where Birdy went when she was in one of her moods and left the office, so I invited myself along without her permission. I guess you can say that I stalked her -- I waited for her to slip out of her cubicle and trailed her all the way to the diner. She never saw me, until I walked into the diner. I was surprised that she invited me to join her for a cup of coffee -- with lots of milk and lots of sugar.

Shortly after our encounter. I willingly joined her on Wednesdays -- it was the perfect way for me to split up my hellish work week. I'd fuck off all Wednesday and that way, I had only a four day work week. After a while, Birdy and I skipped the diner and just went back to her apartment to get jacked up and watch Regis and Kelly.

"That bitch Kelly Ripa is so fake," said Birdy as she gave the TV the middle finger. "But I betcha she gets some good coke."

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Howling Dogs, Dead Cats, and Back to School Books

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

6am. I heard loud thumping sounds from upstairs in the vacant apartment. That's not supposed to happen. I got out of bed and heard commotion outside on the stairwell. I peeked through the peephole and a guy dressed in white carrying a bucket passed by. Ah, he was the painter who arrived at 6am to work on the upstairs apartment without any care of the tenants below (us). As per usual, your slumlord failed to tell us that they were going to be doing work on the apartment and that it was going to be loud.

Luckily Nicky had to wake up at 7:30 to get ready to interview someone for a column. I had to get up anyway, but I'd rather not be disturbed by someone doing work at 6am. It set a bad tone for the day considering I scheduled Monday as a writing day. It was difficult to write with all of the noise. For someone who was supposed to paint, it sounded like he was bowling up there. I couldn't win either, when he was making too much noise in the room above my office, I migrated out to the living room, only to be pestered with barking dogs that our neighbors leave in the backyard when they go off to work. Just when the dogs stopped, the painter decided to sand the walls right above me. One distraction to another. I did what I can and cranked up the music and attempted to write through it.

The day was not as productive as I would have liked, which always bothers me because I hate wasting writing days. The landlord is trying to justify an increase in rent to the potential new tenants -- by renovating the apartment above us, but at the expense of pissing us off. It's not like he's always rushing to fix our stuff. So, I don't except him to help us out with trying to rectify the barking dog situation. Nicky mentioned that it would be in his best interest to make sure he was renting out an apartment that did not have annoying barking beasts.

The barking dogs encouraged me to check out local services that could help us out. I knew that the last thing I wanted to bother the federales with was a barking dog. Besides, they probably wouldn't even bother showing up. I turned to Google with "Barking dog complaints LA" and found a website for Los Angeles Animal Services who handle all barking dog complaints. The city is completely broke and they recently created a law that allows that agency to fine pet owners $100 for each barking dog complaint. All we have to do is set the wheels in motion and write a formal letter of complaint. The agency will then write the evil pet owners a letter informing them that a complaint has been filed by one of their neighbors. If the barking continues after a 15 day period, then we can file a second complaint. The agency will then send out an officer to assess the situation to determine if a fine is necessary -- which it usually is. Normally they wouldn't be quick to rush to help us out, but since the city sees this as a means of extra revenue, they are gonna expedite every original complaint as quickly as possible.

In the meantime I looked into foghorns, dog whistles, and a device that looks like a garage door opener, but emits high frequency sounds that supposedly silence the pooches. I have my doubts, but I'm curious to see if those things actual work. Otherwise, I have to crank up the music to drown out the howling dogs.

When things got really shitty with the noise, we decided to leave the apartment for an hour. Nicky drove me up to Beverly Center to find a pair of hiking boots. I needed something for the upcoming seasonal change. While I tried on new boots, she ended up wandering around the camping section and purchased a knife sharpener. I guess the guys at Whole Foods are thrilled that they don't have to sharpen her knives.

The other day, I made a horrible decision and went to Staples early on a weekend morning. I forgot that it was the weekend before kids went back to school, and a dozen other families had a similiar idea -- beat the rush and show up as soon as it opened. All I wanted were printer paper and padded envelopes so I can mail out a few books, but I got stuck in a long ass line with parents holding shopping carts overflowing with supplies. I got was flashback of negative emotions. Shopping for school supplies with my mother was always a nightmare. Shopping for anything with her was, so I definitely did not associate that time with pleasant memories. Nicky was a bit of a nerd growing up and she said that her favorite part of the school year was getting to go shopping for school supplies with her mother and her sister Mandy. But I was on the opposite end.

I really hated buying books in college. I knew some of my fraternity brothers, the few that were not uber-rich kids, had to steal an occasional text book if it was too pricey. Me? I had a scam were I pulled off yellow "USED" stickers off of used books and put them on new books. I figured that a text book was too hard to steal, but I wanted to get some value out of my limited budget for books (even though I tossed it on my credit card), so I wanted new books at a discounted used price.

I drove to In-N-Out Burger a couple of late nights, which tortured Nicky because she is back to her LA-starving diet. I had been eating breakfast at the crack of dawn and skipping dinner in favor of lunch in the late afternoon. But by Midnight, I'm starving and still have an hour or so of work to do, which is why I the run to In-N-Out has been clutch. It only takes less than ten minutes to get there. One of the nights, a SUV in front of me was blasting Iggy Pop as marijuana smoke billowed out the open windows. Isn't that how Paris Hilton got caught in Vegas?

By the way, I penned a piece about Paris Hilton on Saturday morning a few hours after she got busted for cocaine possession. It is titled Cocaine Cowgirl. Been hearing whispers in the hills of Hollyweird that she was set up by the cops because the blow was not hers. Um, I don't believe that. But I do believe that her legal team will attempt to get the case dismissed on terms of an illegal search. Whoever is Paris' criminal attorney must be making a shitload of cash because his client is always getting into trouble.

After watching a bit of Hoarders, Nicky and I went through my sparse wardrobe that I accumulated in the two years that we've been shacked up together. She was surprised of 1) the specific colors in my wardrobe and 2) the fact that even though this is probably the largest my wardrobe has gotten since we've been going out, that I still didn't have much stuff. She persuaded me to get rid of the items that had holes and that were ripped. She also made me toss out one of the two Hawaiian shirts that I own. It was a coin flip, but she snatched out the older one that has a cigarette burn on the back.

I also have about ten books that I read and want to get rid of, but couldn't think of anyone to give the books to. I might have another book sale here with all proceeds going to fund fall Phish tour.

Yeah, after watching that Hoarders episode with the cat lady, I got a bit freaked out. She had over 70 cats in her house and cluttered garage. More than half of them were dead, most of them kittens. The cleaners were uncovering skeletal remains and other feline corpses every time they moved a box. It was incredibly sad and disgusting. Dead cats inspired me to get rid of some books. Stay tuned for a list if you're interest in taking them off my hands.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Melody Fakers

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

BTreotch recommended a podcast from a Texas sports radio station that included an interview Chuck Klosterman, one of my favorite contemporary writers. He has an amazing grasp of music history, sports, and popular culture. His versatility as a writer and journalist landed him many envious and sweet-ass gigs. Many moons ago, I spotted someone on the subway reading Klosterman's Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto. The titled fascinated me and I found a copy at Strand a few days later. I've read Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs three or four times since then, with some essays over a dozen times, and it still holds up today as my favorite Klosterman book, along with IV: A Decade of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas.

Random side note...I know two guys who look like Chuck Klosterman.

One of the co-hosts of the show inquired about Klosterman's writing process, specifically how he comes up with the ideas to write about. Klosterman admitted that was hard question and did his best to answer, but that's a complicated and complex issue. Inspiration is not something that can be easily described. Sometimes it's all around, other times it's drought.

On most days, I can't afford to sit around until inspiration strikes. On the best days of the year, I'm jumping out of bed and sprinting to the laptop. On the worst days, it's a grueling mental battle and I have force myself to write. Even if the words suck cowballs that day, I gotta get through it. Everyday. No matter what. That's one of the secrets. It wouldn't be a chore if I was fired up or passionate about something to write about. But on the bad days, it's rough.

When I go through stretches of inactivity, my problem is that I give up before I even start typing the first words. That's when the confrontation of fear takes place. On the uncourageous days, I feel like shit because I hate wasting time. That's when I do something to find inspiration or jump start the creative area of my brain. Usually a little weed and John Coltrane do the trick, but on the bloody awful days, I have to dig a little deeper and find inspiration elsewhere.

Books are a good start. I hope that inspiration will jump off the pages and smack me in the face. When that doesn't work, I turn to music. It's no secret that I write with music on in the background. Like peas and carrots. If that doesn't work, I give the cinema a shot, particularly documentary films.

If that doesn't work, I go slumming for inspiration on the TV. I put on the History Channel and watch WWII-themed programs and wait until Hoarders comes on and I watch in a stoned glaze at the excessive clutter and filth inside the disastrous homes of hoarding addicts. That show, and others like it, became the inspiration for a few hundreds words of verbal diarrhea here on Tao of Pauly. It also inspired a short story about hoarders titled... Everest.

I'm reading Imperial Bedrooms by Bret Easton Ellis, which details the shallowness of LA -- a subject very similar that I'm interested in because I'm writing a novel about the shallowness of LA. Instead of getting spooked or jealous, I'm excited to read it and get a grasp of his take on the same city. I always sit down and write up notes and random bits of dialogue after a read a few sections of Imperial Bedrooms.

Anyway, traveling and people are valuable inspiration jump starters. Travel stories write themselves. My problem is that sometimes I was traveling too much and didn't have enough time to write about what happened. It took a while, but I found a happy medium where I write less and live more, because at some point, I'll have to shut out the world and withdraw while I write about those experiences.

So if I'm not writing, I better be living.

Friends are amazing launching pads for inspiration. There's no coincidence that some of my closest friends are the ones who inspire me the most. I could say that Matisse is a major influence on me (I often try to write like he paints), but I have never met the guy. He's been dead for a while now. But I see my friends as much as I can, which is amazing because I can interact with the very people who get me fired up to write. Those are the ones who also get me back on track when I'm headed toward an catastrophic derailment -- whether it's life, work, or writing.

In the end, you just have to start typing.

And you have to write a lot. A shit ton. Because you never know when that perfect groove is going to pop up. On magnificent days, you're running right out of the gates and hit the groove 30 words in. That's what we're looking for, that moment when all those internalized thoughts make an effortless transition onto the pages. On the craptacular days, it takes you 3,000 or more words before you even get warmed up, but that's part of the hassles of writing. Some days it's not there and you won't hit the groove because you don't have enough time to keep plugging away.

It's a queasy feeling when you keep falling short. But when you hit that groove, you never want to stop.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Indigents with Cell Phones, Howling Alley Dogs, and Orphaned Socks

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I guess you can file the following incident under, "I thought I had seen everything in LA, until..."

I encountered a homeless guy with a cellphone and a charger. The charger baffled me the most. I could see a potential scenario where a homeless dude found a lost cell and used it until the battery ran out or until the service was disconnected, however, this disheveled guy looked like he had not showered in months. He clutched a contemporary model (nothing resembling a smart phone, but let's just say the phone is no more than two years old) that seemed out of place in his black stained fingers and grimy hands.

I wandered inside Jack in the Box very early for a Sunday morning because I was in search of my early morning fix -- Big Ass Iced Tea. The homeless guy sat in the back booth near the bathrooms. A writer-type sat on the other end of fast food joint. He pecked away on his laptop while he sipped on a cup of coffee. I once saw that same guy many months ago only because he was the one who clued me in on the secret of the Jack in the Box ceiling. He needed juice for his laptop and reached up to plug his chord into an outlet located on the ceiling. Yes, the ceiling. I quickly learned that an electrician had re-wired this particular Jack in the Box with ceiling outlets.

I purchased my Big Ass iced tea and made my way to the exit. I initially saw the homeless guy stand on his seat in his back booth, but I figured he was deranged and his bizarre activities were none of my business. Growing up in New York City, I found it best to simply ignore peculiar behavior from homeless people, because the one time you might make eye contact with them, they will lunge at you with a box cutter and attempt to sever your jugular. Alas, I ignored the guy until he pulled a power adapter out of his long frayed winter coat and then plugged it into a ceiling outlet. He pulled a cell phone out of his other pocket, hooked it up, and then sat down.

And that's how I encountered a homeless guy with a cell phone and charger. Only in LA, and only at Jack in the Box at 7am.

I learned valuable lesson that took me a couple of years of being in LA to figure out -- do not put out the recycling stuff at night because the homeless dumpster divers will rattle around said aluminum cans and bottles at 6am and wake up everyone within earshot of the alley. Even with our bedroom windows closed, we can still hear the ruckus. At least four or five can fairies stop by per day, so if we put the recycle stuff out in the early afternoon, it will get picked up by nightfall.

The annoying dogs next door is a different story. Sometimes, the douchey owners of the big dogs let them roam in the tiny backyard parallel to our alley. The problem arises when they let those dogs out in mornings, especially on the weekends when everyone is trying to get an extra hour or two of sleep. Well, they dogs go berserk whenever a someone walking a dog passes by and they really lose it when a homeless person sneaks down our alley in search of cans. They can smell the perpetrator a half a block away and they bark progressively louder and louder and scratch at the wooden fence separating the two properties. In one sense, it's good to have a guard dog, but since the dog is behind a fence -- it's virtually ineffective and the result is just noise pollution.

I fear that one morning, one of the big dogs is going to break through the fence, much like out of an old Warner Brothers Bugs Bunny cartoon, and the outline of the dog's body will be punched out of the fence while the dog mauls the homeless guy and chews off his arm. That's why I always keep a camera close by because you never know when a mauling like that is going to happen and you'd hate to pass up a chance at snagging the next viral video on YouTube -- "German Shepard tears off arm of homeless person."

The dogs have been extra annoying recently. I have to assume that their home life has been rough, so they take out their misery on the rest of the denizens of the slums of Beverly Hills. While I sat down to write this, the dogs had an incident when a few upset neighbors were shouting across the alley. I even joined in on scorning the barkfest and unleashed a loud "Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! People are sleeping in. It's the weekend for fucks sake."

The apartment upstairs has been vacant for a week. I miss our neighbors, who always smoked cigarettes at odd hours -- which means they constantly watched the alley because someone was out there at least once an hour. We're more worried that we're going to have to deal with inconsiderate neighbors. We also wonder how long it will take to rent out the place -- our slumlord is cheap which means he offers very little in return for what the market considers is a high rental price for the neighborhood. It's not a surprise that it often takes him several months (even with the help of an agency) to find a tenant -- mainly because once they see the shit hole, they know they can find a similar place a few blocks away for a few hundred less per month. Shit, whenever I take a walk down the adjacent side streets, all I see is "For Rent" signs. Why pay more for less? Which is why the slumlord either has to fix up more shit or reduce the monthly rent.

The slumlord hired a cleaner to tidy up the vacant apartment so it looks clean while they show the place to prospective renters. We're on the cusp of a new month, so he better get cracking or he'll miss out on revenue. The guys who lived upstairs left a shitload of random food in the kitchen and pantry because the cleaning service dragged one of the big ass dumpsters to the side of the building (right in front of the window where I prefer to write). The vacant apartment is located on the second floor and the cleaner was obviously lazy, so he threw trash out the window, rather than collect it in trash bags and bring them down to the dumpster. For two hours, we were treated with the sight of random jars, stale bread, and unknown condiment containers steadily fall from the sky and an echo rattled around the alley whenever something hard clunked into the bin.

Moments like that make me want to reduce the material items that have slowly been accumulating in the apartment. I usually get freak out whenever after an episode of Hoarders, and I slip into an OCD spurt and clean the fridge, removing expired items. Then, I rummage through my closet in search of clothing items to toss or donate. I also go through my collection of books, especially the ones I started and never finished, and determine which books I can give away to friends.

And what's the deal with the three solo socks that I discovered. Each sock is not even the same length or color, so it's not like I can mix and match. I have one long white tube sock and two ankle-sized socks -- but one is black and the other is white. I assume that the socks are gobbled up by the gremlins who live in the washing machine. At least one sock a month gets stuck underneath the spin thingy, and the other socks hide out in the most random places, usually underneath couches or the bed, or they wedge themselves in between other odd spaces.

Orphaned socks. Who is going to save all of the orphaned socks in the world? I considered handing over the orphans to the homeless guy at Jack in the Box, but then again, they guy has a cell phone, so he must be doing pretty good in life and presumably does not need orphaned socks.

Please, someone claim these orphans fast, otherwise, I will be forced to euthanize said sock orphans.