Monday, January 25, 2010

The Return of the Sun King, Porn Star in Pink Pajamas, and Stoned Grits

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

After a week of dark dismal skies, the usual Southern California sun returned as the denizens of SoCal rejoiced at the Sun King. God? Obama? CAA? None of those are worshiped more than the solar star at the center of our universe.

As much as part of me welcomed the warmth of that shiny object in the sky, another part of me was sad to see it re-appear. I miss the pitter-pater and hypnotic sound pounding the pavement putting me in a better mood to write. OK, there's no scientific proof. Who knows, but I think it gives me an extra boost in confidence.

When I first moved to Seattle, it wasn't until the rainy season began before I hunkered down and began to write. The reason my buddy Singer and I started writing a screenplay together in the first place was partly to keep our sanity during the winter months.

But the rain is gone and I ripped through the first section of Lost Vegas -- which was one son-of-a-bitch. Four work assignments landed on my desk last week including a deadline of only ten days (instead of three weeks) for a magazine piece. Well, shit. Not the best timing considering I was deep into the Lost Vegas edits and re-write and had finally found a groove. But I guess that's par for the course... throughout the entire process of writing the book I was peppered by freelance work which interrupted the flow.

I originally wanted to play poker down at Commerce Casino on Friday, but I took two days off (Thursday and Friday) to brainstorm about the assignments. I banged out three by noon Friday and completed roughly 90% of the last article. I can now focus on Lost Vegas for the next two weeks.

The German Butcher is pleased with the recent round of edits. We're finally flushing out all of the shit and I finally have something remotely resembling a book, yeah it is beginning to get whipped into mousse. It looks like chocolate, but still tastes like shit.

* * * * *

Nicky and I watched Conan every night last week. I ignored him before all this mess, so I was one of the people who attributed to his 50% boost in ratings. I don't feel too bad about Conan's gajillion dollar severance pay and still think Leno is a putz, but in the end, this was not a battle of Leno vs. Conan as the media machine led you to believe. Nope. This is just another skirmish in the good-old fashioned war of the have vs. the have nots.

Commerce vs. Art.

Suits vs. Talent.

Egotistical suits made poor decisions blinded by greed and failed to allow creative people to make art through comedy. They ruined one of the rare and lifelong institutions in entertainment. They tarnished the careers of two hard-working individuals (who scarified many of their our morals to grease the massive gears of the Hollywood machine). In the end, the jagoffs at NBC are paying out more money and look like total jackasses. I think Kevin Smith's character "Jay" said that the best... "Fuck fuckin' Hollywood, man."

* * * * *

The plight gathers at Jack in the Box. I should take black and white photos of the characters I come across at that fast food den of local insanity for a photo essay. During the halftime of the Jets game, I ran over to grab a Big Ass iced tea. I have a scam where I chug about half on the spot and then top off my drink. I like sipping tea throughout the day when I write, or in that case, to keep me sane while I sweat the football games.

Sunday afternoon. Jack in the Box. Family of six chowed down and crowded into one booth with a two year old pantsless kid Just a hoody and diapers. No sneakers. Looked like they were kicked off. Saw one solo sneaker on the floor. The kid ran around in purplish socks with little fish or dolphins designs on them.

An old guy in a Nike hat caused a ruckus in line and argued with the kid behind the counter, who was 15 or 16 at rhe most and wore a hairnet. I hope kid had got stoned behind the dumpster on his break because the old guy was demanding that "those illegals in the back" grill the onions "just like they do at In-N-Out Burger." The kid and the old man bickered back and forth until the manager stepped in and took over.

I stood behind a woman in pink pajama pants tucked into a pair of Uggs. She had porn-star looks (fake melons, orange-spray tan, collapsed nostril) and wore a black puffy jacket. She just rolled out of bed and I wonder how many bumps she took before she finally drove over to Jack in the Box for her breakfast biscuit? I watched her walk back outside and slip into her silver Mercedes.

* * * * *

On Sunday morning, the growling in my stomach woke me up. After a quick writing session, I walked into the kitchen about to make my own breakfast when I realized that it was Sunday and I always eat breakfast at the coffeeshop on Sunday so didn't want to jinx the Jets.... not that I'm superstitious at all.

I marveled at the lovely morning. Not a hint of smog or pollution in the air. Brisk. Crisp. Breathable. I could easily see the Hollywood Hills and Nakatomi Plaza from my walk. On the worst of smog days, both landmarks are barely visible underneath a thick veil of carbon emissions and other gunk that got trapped hovering over the city of Angels.

I sat down at the counter, because there is never any space in the booths or tables on the weekends. Sunday is the busiest day at the coffeeshop; hung over hipsters, the pre & post church crowd, all of the fathers who take their kids to eat out so mommy can catch a few extra winks, and everyone else in the neighborhood. I sat at the end of the counter by three empty seats. Two Beverly Hills cops quickly took the other two seats. When I saw a woman walk to the bathroom wearing a Brett Favre NY Jets jersey, one of the cops and I made a crack (and at the same time), "Wrong jersey today."

I spent the next few minutes chatting with the cops about the Jets chances. One of them was a USC fan and of course was pulling for the golden boy Mark Sanchez. I don't think the cops knew I was stoned to the bejesus. Then again, Beverly Hills cops could care less. The highest paid officers in the country spend most of their time responding to hysterical calls from racist rich people who drop a dime every time they see a person of color walking down the street.

Sun brightly shining. Talking about football with cops. Stoned to the tits. Eating grits. It must be a Sunday in LA.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Fireman Ed Says...

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

J-E-T-S... Jets! Jets! Jets!

The Jets are just one win away from the Super Bowl. That cracker Peyton Manning and company are standing in the way. They want to avenge their only loss of the season. The goombas in Vegas think the Jets are going to lose by more than a touchdown.

One thing is for sure.... in a couple of hours, my football season will come to a close... or... I'll be on JetBlue's website booking a flight back to NYC so I can watch the Super Bowl with my brother.

Time to start nervously pacing...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Friday, January 22, 2010

Karmic Refunds

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

The Seattle-like rain that swept through SoCal the last week has been affecting my brain. Positively. I'm writing better, well at least the words are flowing. The usual non-stop sunshine previously warped my brain and sometimes I struggled with trying to play the notes inside my head. But the rain makes me focus.

That explains why everyone in L.A. is a dumb as shit. Too much sun.

The rain comes and goes, but mostly comes. I'm waiting for the frogs to start falling from the sky. When the rain momentarily stops, little bits of sunshine poke through the light grey sky. I sneak outside to run errands and apparently so does everyone in the neighborhood with a dog. I rarely see people wandering around the streets of the slums of Beverly Hills... but as soon as the downpour stops and the rain pauses, people sneak outside to let their dogs urinate, before the skies open up again and everyone scurries inside to watch TMZ and the Jersey Shore.

I had to make a run to 7/11 and waited and waited for a break in the rain. I also needed to stretch my legs and clear my mind with a column (well, three actually) coming up. I don't have much in the way of ideas or topics so I needed to brainstorm. Walking helps. Rattles the brain I didn't get much as far as inspiration, but I saw lots of puddles and people walking their dogs.

The guy behind the counter at 7/11 gave me the wrong change... in my favor. So fuckin' rare. My stuff (club soda and stoner food like Sun Chips and a Hostess cherry pie) cost $7.02. I handed him a $10 and scooped two pennies out of the cup. I unintentionally said "Here's $20.02." I wasn't angle shooting but should try that again in the future because it fooled him.

He automatically assumed it was a $20 bill without looking. He handed me back a ten and three ones. I didn't notice it at first. I shoved the bills into my pocket and rushed out the store. It wasn't until I got home and realized that I finally came out on the good end of a fuck up. Usually it's the other way around.

I can't tell if that's a karmic refund or something bad is around the corner?

* * * * *

I was waiting for a phone call with good news. Actually, it never happened. News is currently in purgatory. So, now I'm sitting here, waiting for my man. Dunno what will happen. Might have to walk the line with a lot less fire power.

Parts of the wall are smooth, other rough, lots of chiseled plaster. Looks like someone got bored and carved different symbols, words, markings at random intervals. The head popped up through the toilet bowl. Had no idea if it crawled through the pipes or fell in backwards. The eyes were not where they should have been. Instead, rearranged like a Picasso painting of one of his former lovers. Disjointed and fragmented eyes. That's the subtle way of telling you that the world is never what you see and sometimes if you peer through shifted eyes, you might see it the way it was meant to be... whatever that is.

Jesus extends his hand from the ceiling with a choir of archangels tooting their horns. You can't really tel it's Jesus because just his arm is extended from the heavens through the roof of the cell. The time off was the empty hole in his hand. Not a bloody stigmata, just a hole about the size of a silver dollar.

The Devil did not want to be out done and sprung up from the ground flipping off the stuck up crew from heaven. He was slogging it out with all of the masses while Jesus and the angels were kickin' it in heaven watching movies on Jesus' new BluRay and eating deep fried Fig Newtons dipped in chocolate and wrapped in bacon sprinkled with cheese and Marachino cherries.

Oh, and they apparently have good coffee in heaven. None of that Starbucks shit. Heaven is anti-corporate. Self-serve coffee. The never ending cup. Ice cream is not free. You have to pay extra.

* * * * *

Lots of jazz playing non-stop when I'm writing (Monk and Coltrane, Miles, Sonny Rollins, et al). A little live Velvet Underground and Bob Dylan (with and without The Band) in spurts and when sitting around playing a bit of poker. I've been good and avoiding the boob tune and sports this week, and holding off for the Jets on Sunday. TV rots the brain. Just like the California sun. Maybe I'm beginning to see the light?

A few nights ago... I woke up in the middle of the night screaming because of a Charlie Horse. That fucker hurt, like someone stabbing you, the metal piercing your flesh. I was in agony for about thirty-seven seconds until I was able to attempt to walk it off. Seems as though I was dehydrated but that fucker still hurts. I wonder if horses can have charlie horses?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Arks, Arcs, and Noah's Sunspot Dome

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Noah continued to build his ark three doors down.

The Kabbalahists around the corner thought Noah was crazy, but he didn't need their approval. He knew it was coming, so he continued to follow what he knew. The storm was coming. He had to prepare and gathered all the necessary supplies, and more importantly, a cache of weapons to ward off looters, loosely formed criminal gangs, roving cannibals and rapists, and other miscreants who happen to survive the Big One.

Noah was building his ark not because of the recent rain that dumped on Southern California... rather he built the ark for when the earthquake of all earthquakes wipes out all of humanity in California. If he survives (and whatever family members and pets do as well), he'll need his ark because he expects most of the city and Southern California to collapse into the ocean forming several tiny islands. The new California Islands, one of which, he hopes to safely dock and claim as his own.

Noah always wanted his own secluded island.

Next up will be the dome. Over his house. To help deflect the sunspots. Those are coming too, probably sooner than the big quakes.

"And when the sunspots do," he said, "you don't want to be on a cellphone. Your brain will fry. That's why the aliens stay underground. The sun. It's too powerful. They used to look like us, but they had some sort of gene defect that made their skin shrivel up like a raisin. That's why the aliens are grey."

He wondered if I thought he was crazy. I told him, mostly no. Noah is a visionary. His view of the world is bleak. Probably has his own 2012 channel on YouTube. I don't mean to judge people, but some folks have wandered too far off the reservation, while others are firmly planted -- yet can't see or comprehend anything outside of three mile radius of their home.

Noah is a crackpot. Or genius. Depends on who you talk to, on how you view the world. Noah is my most prepared neighbor on the block, or the "crazy guy" that we tell stories about to KTLA reporters.

You just never know. About anything. If I could accurately predict the future, I would make substantially more money as a sports gambler and securities/commodities trader.

* * * * *

The writing sessions this week have been long. 12 hours. 13 hours. 10 hours. Stamina is strong. My concentration is better. My editing skills are sharper. I'm locked in. Focused. Blocking out all the chatter and distractions. Zoned in on the task. Fine tuning the bigger picture.

I'm more aware of my most common errors and those have been jumping right off the pages. Over the last two days I re-wrote a chapter entirely. It seems as though I'm cutting more and more poker scenes that slow the pacing down.

Less is more, right?

I used to hear stories about writers or painters or musicians who supposedly work three, five, eight, ten years on a single piece of art... a film, a painting, an album, a novel, a screenplay, whatever. I always thought how absurd it was that someone would be toiling on one thing for so long. They would go crazy. Want to die. Get addicted to something. Pills. God. Taco Bell.

And then... it happened to me.

Jesus, I'm hoping to finally publish Lost Vegas a few months shy of five years from the day when I was first approached to write a book about my experiences in Las Vegas. Half of a decade. I've been chasing a fucking ghost. Five years? One of my buddies is on his third of three wives in that he met in the same time span. He had three weddings and two divorces. And I can't finish this fucking book.

As the original story goes, one publishers expressed interest and I cranked out a quick 75,000 words... the original draft... but that book deal fell through and thank God. I was not ready. The material wasn't ready. I had yet to get a firm grasp on Las Vegas and needed more time. The draft sat idle. Life intervened. It was more lucrative to write on Tao of Poker and for other people. Books are becoming extinct like dinosaurs and New Wave bands.

No one reads anyway. What's the point? The hippies will only get pissed because I'm killing trees buy printing actual books with pages filled with endless off-color remarks about homosexuals, Jews, and retards. The zealots on the right will scorn me for denouncing organized religion and glorifying internet gaming, illicit drug use, and sexual deviancy.

I can't win.

Thank God for the French. They're the only ones bold enough to offer me a book deal. And that was before the book was done... in English. They haven't even read it in English yet, let alone the French translation. That's faith. I couldn't be more inspired. It's a sincere honor because Europeans actually read books. Real books too. None of this teenage vampires or Oprah book of the month shit. Real books.

Over the last few years, I always seemed to burn out around the same time every year. I get in one of those "fuck the world" modes when I feel the urge to just lock myself in a room and creative something. On all but one occasion, I tinkered with the Las Vegas book. I kept re-writing the beginning parts. As years passed, I had more material to draw upon and it seemed as though at every pass I spent 50% of my time toiling on the original section and the other half of the time penning new material.

I had stories. Plenty of them. What I never had was an ending. Life ends when you die. Everything else is just continues. Without some sort of conclusion or story arc, I really didn't have anything concrete. But then a couple of things happened in the last part of 2008. I mustered up the courage to move forward with the book and hoping that I'd figure out the end as I went along. But then I got a bit of luck, on a drive leaving Las Vegas and heading towards LA of all places... I found an ending. Right around the state line of Nevada and California. A symbol. An epiphany. The elusive ending fused together in my head.

Now all I had to do was write the story.

And I did. But I had too much material but unable to cut. I invested too much, energy and money into that monster manuscript. I was that character from Wonder Boys. I set out to write a 200 page book and ended up with 2,000 pages. OK, maybe not that much, but a good 1,000 pages.

I essentially became one of those head cases on the show Hoarders. Instead of packing my house with garbage, empty boxes, and stuffed giraffes... I was cluttering my manuscript with unnecessary shit. Like those old ladies who can't bare to throw away a stainless steel soup ladle, I found it difficult trying to slash words, sentences, paragraphs, sections, chapters. Thousands of words needed to go. More than I ever imagined.

That was a good thing. It's easier to edit down then fall short of the mark and not have enough. The hard thing was that I had no idea what to cut. Everything seemed important to me. That's when the German Butcher stepped in and whacked it up and pointed out areas where I needed to rewrite and other spots where I needed to expand.

I guess that's the golden rule of show business... leave the audience with them wanting more.

As I'm writing this, it makes me want to go back and cut even more. Shit, I might just do that. The German Butcher would love that. And since we're self-publishing that's a few cents per book that we save on printing fees.

Less is more. Time to channel my inner Hemingway. I'd love to eat a fistful of Adderall and finish this book by the end of the month. Sounds like a lovely idea.

By the way, you can follow Lost Vegas on Twitter. It's @LostVegasBook.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Blue Green

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

First it was dark blue, then light blue, then green. Now it's completely faded.

Sounds like one of Daddy's bowel movements and/or masturbation sessions.

I'm talking about my printer ink. I have one of those cheap Lexmark printers, which I purchased specifically before I started the recent incarnation of Lost Vegas (late 2008). I know that once the book is done, I can finally buy a new printer because the shelf life on those plastic fuckers made in China by 4-year olds, is like 5,000 printed pages, maybe even less. God knows I'm coming close to that mark with the latest batch of re-writes. Cranking them out. I edit better on paper than on the screen. My eyes hurt too after 10-12-14 hour sessions.

The printer prints in color and black. Wow. I love technology. I was operating on the original color cartridge, mainly because I don't use the printer to print anything except what I'm editing. The black ink? Shit, I must have gone through $400-500 worth in the last 18 months. Maybe more. My aunt gave me a Staples gift card for Christmas last year and I used up the bulk of that gift on cheap copy machine paper and printer ink.

That's one of my biggest expenses. Printer ink.

My drug of choice is writing. The fuckers know this. I read somewhere that mentioned printer ink was more expenses per milliliter than oil. Bastards. Fuckin' racket. Damn printer ink cartels. I should find some Jihadists who want to blow up the great Alaskan Ink Pipeline. Then again, that's the sort of disruption that will drive prices up. Then all of a sudden printer ink will be $125 a pop.

Wish I was in on this price fixing scam. I always want to be betting (or working on) the right side of the fix.

And don't pester me with those lame products and ink re-fillers that you see British people with bad Botox jobs hawking on infomercials at 3am. Look, ink is not like buying gas. I have to get a specific ink with a special number. So when I ran out of black ink on Friday, I got irked. It started to fade on Thursday but I pushed it as far as I could hoping to last the entire weekend. Didn't happen.

I got too lazy to change the cartridge. I have three sitting on my shelf sealed away in some sort of plastic that utlizes space age technology. But, I decided to do use up the color one and then replace both at the same time. Hence the shades of blue, then green, before those started to fade.

I just realized that I don't have a backup color cartridge. Fuuuuuuuuck. Yikes. Now I gotta go to Staples and roam their brightly lit aisles, cluttered with tons of shit and junk, trying to find an obscure ink. And if... big if... if I get lucky and find the ink, then I have to stand in line to pay with the rest of the home-office peasants, parents buying kids their school supplies, and disheveled writers working on their screenplay.

The hardest thing is trying to avoid all the impulse buys and candy near the cashier -- seriously, who the fuck came up with the genius idea to sell chocolate inside Staples? Do the suits who run Corporate America really think their citizens are that stupid?

Um..... scratch that last sentence. Speaking of which... I gotta get back to work.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Step Into the Breezer

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

The unexpected rain in LA put a damper on the wankfest of the Golden Globe Awards. That did not deter Nicky and I from getting shitfaced, poking fun, snarking it up on Twitter, and shouting random things at the TV. The Jets game ended just at the exact time that the Golden Globes came on -- so it was a seamless transition. This was the first year that NBC aired the event live on the Left Coast instead of delaying the broadcast until 8pm. With that annoying Twitter thing and the intertubes, NBC finally wised up and decided to go live with the broadcast of their faux awards ceremony.

Makes you wonder if those tin-foiled hat conspiracy theories about Stanely Kubrick and Hollywood helping to record the film landing in a sound stage down by the airport. There's websites and books devoted to that theory. I shit you not.

Of course, I'll never get invited... so the closest I come is sitting on my couch, clutching the bong, and heartily laughing at Rickey Gervais' penis jokes and shameless self-shilling. Man, if I ever went to the Golden Globes, I would never leave the bathroom. I'd be staying in there the entire time ripping lines with Mickey Rourke. Otherwise, I'd be outside getting stoned with Han Solo and Sir Paul McCartney.

* * * * *

The Jets won. Wow. I bet against them. Two weeks in a row. Ha! And they won both times. I bet against them again this week hoping that won't break the jinx. But shit... one win away from the Super Bowl. Peyton better do his homework and do something that other QBs have yet to figure out... don't throw anywhere in Revis' direction.

* * * * *

I found out my next two work assignments... Uruguay and Chile. I get to work with Nicky for one of the events which will be fun. I can't complain about visiting two South American countries that I had never visited before (ironically Nicky has been to both).

When I told Benjo that I get to work with my girlfriend, he said, "The last time I worked with mine, all we did was yell at each other." To which I responded.... we yell at each other all the time, might as well get paid for it.

But seriously... I just realized that Nicky will be my superior for the assignment. Hilarity ensues.

* * * * *

Speaking of Benjo, he's an eager beaver and wants to get to work on the French translation of Lost Vegas. That's admirable, but it's not ready yet. Yikes. We worked out a schedule because let's face it -- I want to get that fuckin' monkey off my back, so I'm contemplating eating a fistful of Adderall and staying up for two weeks straight finishing it off.

The good news is that my editor (aka the German Butcher) and I also figured out an exit strategy. We're on track. After stepping away from the project, I realized how vital his precision edits were. During this round of edits -- the process is less hectic and mind-numbing as the last round. Maybe that's a good sign that the book is actually coming along and there are not gaping holes where I look at in bewilderment and think, "What the fuck am I talking about?"

Nicky and I re-worked the first three chapters the last few days. The structure was all out of whack and she helped me re-arrange sections -- like a jigsaw or a game of Tetris. Once we shuffled everything around, the beginning read much smoother. Even though I kept working and re-working the beginning over the last six months -- I always came up with a clumsy and cumbersome start of the book. That was Nicky's biggest problem with the book ... a choppy beginning. After the editing session this weekend, we're all feeling much more confident about the beginning. It's smoother. Flows better.

Every day, I'm feeling better and better about taking time off from the project and taking another pass at it. Confidence is everything. We're all feeling positive about the recent changes -- so I'm doing what I can to build and feed off of that energy.

Monday, January 18, 2010


By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I fought back the torrential downpour hoping to avoid the stream of gushing water and abandoned shopping carts hurtling down the street. LA was under siege with raindrops the size of serving platters yet I dodged as many as I could and safely arrived at my destination... a fast food depot.

I discovered where all of the homeless denizens of LA retreat on the seven or eight days a year the skies rapidly turn from baby blue to menacing grey before dumping rainfall onto the city. They end up at the Jack in the Box on Pico Blvd. I wandered into the joint during halftime of the Jets/Chargers game seeking to quench my thirst. Iced tea. It's my latest addiction that I swapped for pain killers. I needed a batch to drink during the stressful second half of the playoff game.

Jack in the Box reeked just like when a homeless person passes you on the subway. Stale urine. Fresh feces. You rarely smell that in LA. Too much pollution. Besides, the daily plight is usually hidden. The sun shines too bright to see the unwashed masses hiding underneath cardboard shanty towns in alleys parallel to the east-west thoroughfares of the city.

I braved the storm and returned home. Safely. The iced tea calmed my nerves as the Jets held onto a victory. Never expected my hometown Jets to be a Final Four team in the NFL this year. Sweet Jesus, they are one win away from the Super Bowl... something I thought would never happen in my lifetime. I'm either a realist or a jaded fan. Maybe both.

Even the hypnotic rain could not sour my upbeat mood. The only downside to the Jets advancing is that I lose another day to football next weekend when I desperately need as many free days as possible for work. Even though I try to work around the football game... it's never a productive day... and I end up very distracted. At this point I accept that nothing will get accomplished so I sit back, relax, and enjoy it for what it is.A huge distraction.

Nicky saw ugly storm festering on the horizon when we stepped outside on Sunday morning. We embraced the last moments of sunshine and prepped for the week-long monsoon. LA would never be the same again, but we ate our breakfast at the crowded coffeeshop filled with hungover hipsters and pious churchgoers. The last meal? Who knows. We sat at the counter which was fine because the TV in the corner aired the first football game. I didn't miss a play while I waited for chocolate chip pancakes and drowned out the incessant chatter of the hipsters.

* * * * *

The stories come and go. Most of the same are the same, and I'm just plugging in different names. The sun rises. The sun sets. People find love, they lose it. People die. Babies are born. Some get lucky. Other newborns catch the bad end of the stick and spend the rest of their lives trying to climb out of a hole wondering where it all want wrong. Maybe there's something to be said about karma. Maybe not. Life can be totally random, cruel, chaotic, and Godless. Just ask some of the citizens of Haiti.

The night was restless. Disjointed dreams. Lots of staring into the blackness of night, thinking about mellow things to help me sleep. I tried to avoid thinking about the seven or eight topics that I constantly worry about, yet two or three somehow seep into there.

Been listening non-stop to Miles Davis' epic electric soundtrack to a documentary film about a boxer named Jack Johnson. It was released in 1971, yet Miles cut that in 1970 over two different recording sessions with two different lineups. Herbie Hancock sat in for parts of both tracks. Yes, just two tracks on the album about 25 minutes each. Electric Miles on the cusp of rock and roll. Influenced by Sly and James Brown. Gotta love that he was pulling inspiration from those musicians as he sought to make a batch of jazz music for black people (since at the time, Jazz had a high percentage white fans even though the majority of musicians were black).

Depending on who you talk to, Jack Johnson was a huge bust compared to Mile's previous gem Bitches Brew... or it was a piece of utter genius and sheer brilliance on the fusion of rock and jazz. It's hard to top Bitches Brew, but for me at this moment in my life... I want the smash mouth aggressive soloing from Miles to carry me home for the last stretch of Lost Vegas. Sort of glad that it's raining... it will set me in the mood to want to write. How can I go wrong with Miles and the rain? Time to lock myself in for three days and see what I can come up with.

* * * * *

I can see the linear path of my life ahead of me from scheduled trips (both work and pleasure) along with books I want to read (both for work and for pleasure) not to mention those monstrous projects (both work and pleasure) that I think will only take a few weeks or months but end up taking years to complete. Let's put it bluntly... Gumbo was the last major literary project I completed. That was 2004. Before I got into poker. I've been working on Lost Vegas since 2005. I used to focus on one major writing project per year and bang it out, but somehow I got lost along the way with the Vegas book and got stuck or lost on a different path without any roadmaps or GPS to guide me. Poker stunted my creativity and the business stifled my growth, but I managed to do what I could the last couple of years to keep myself sharp with constantly forcing myself to write about other topics.

I see the path back to the main road. It's a shortcut to my sanity -- but I've gotten lost taking shortcuts before.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Gang Green

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

When I was a kid, Richard Todd was the Jets quarterback. He took the reigns in the post-Joe Namath era for the late 1970s and early 1980s. I never got to see Namath play football in a NY Jets uniform. I only knew him from his Noxema commercials with Farah Fawcett and the drunken incident on the sidelines a few years ago when he tried to smother Suzy Kolber with his tongue.

Richard Todd was the man before Ken O'Brien finished out the 1980s as the leader of Gang Green. A bust named Browning Nagle took the snaps for 13 games before Boomer Esaison stepped in for three seasons at the start of the 1990s.

The mid-90s were a clusterfuck. Glen Foley? That pussy Neil O'Donnell (who hurt himself in warmups) and journeyman back up Frank Reich.

Then we were treated with the glorious Vinny Testaverde era peppered with one season when Ray Lucas and Rick Mirer competed for ineptness as the QB. Vinny was an anomaly considering he played his college ball in Miami, because he could play in any form of weather, especially the bitter cold, freezing ice, and blustery snow. Vinny had a gun and a monster arm, but his huge liability was that he was color blind and threw too many perfect and crisp passes to the opposing players. Testaverde is Latin for "lacking color in sight"... if you didn't know. The Jesuits taught me well.

The turn of the century were the Chad "paper mache" Pennington years. You couldn't help but root for the "awww sucks" kid with his Southern drawl. However, Pennington was constantly hurt which led to so many frustrating years compounded with the fact that there was always that rumor hovering above Jets HQ that Randy Moss would someday sign with the Jets since he and Pennington played ball together at Marshall. Of course, that never happened. Pennington was plagued with injuries during his career with the Jets and Moss ended up catching 346 TDs from golden boy Tom Brady and the evil New England Patriots.

Then there was the abortion of a season led by that redneck Brett Favre. Yeah, he was hurt last year, but everyone is hurt in the NFL. My scorn for Favre bubbled up this season and not last season due his drama-ladened move over to the Minnesota Vikings coupled with some of the shit he said about the Jets staff. And now, he has a monster season with his new team, who are a few steps away from a Super Bowl berth provided they can smoke the Cowboys (highly possible - so much so I bet on Minnesota today) and then head down to the Big Easy and beat New Orleans on their own turf.

Sorry for the tangent. Favre left a salty taste in my mouth, so I welcomed rookie Mark Sanchez when the Jets drafted him. Normally, I'm not thrilled with USC QBs, but this kid was different. Unlike most USC students, he was a kid from a working class family... his father's trade was a fireman who saved lives. And now the fate of the NY Jets franchise rests on Mark Sanchez's arm.

Like Testaverde, Sanchez has a gun, yet prone to turnovers. But the kid is not colorblind... he just forces the action too much and is not afraid to take chances. You know who else used to play like that? Brett Favre in his early days with the Green Bay Packers.

Will the Jets win today? I hope so but it's going to be a tough game to beat San Diego at home. I went with an emotional hedge and bet against the Jets (just like last weekend when I took the Bengals) in the hopes that if they lose... then I'll at least be compensated for the seasoning coming to an abrupt halt. This is not the Jets year, but they have a solid infrastructure and a few (healthy) players away from having a legit chance at going to the Big Game in the next two years.

Then again, anything can happen.

Sanchez is playing as close to home as possible (since LA does not have a pro football team -- then again they do, it's called the USC Trojans) with his friends and family in the crowd. Who knows if that sort of motivation can carry over into his performance. All teams need a leader and the Jets fate today rests in the hands and arm of a rookie... Mark Sanchez... as he ushers Gang Green into the 2010s.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Save Haiti Saturday

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Utter destruction is a word to describe the events in Haiti after an earthquake ripped apart and destroyed the country that's roughly the size of the state of Maryland. With the majority of the governmental infrastructure destroyed in Port Au Prince and the country has plunged into complete anarchy coupled with a humanitarian crisis. Where are all those displaced citizens going to get food and water?

Hospitals are leveled, schools wiped out, and the main prison ripped apart allowing whatever inmates who survived the quake to escape. I sincerely doubt there will be a nation to rebuild. Gangs of machete wielding thugs have taken control of the streets. Opportunists are already hatching plans to seize what little resources the country has to offer. If anything, Haiti as been and always will be a main port for drug smugglers. I fear that situation will only get wore.

I'm most concerned with the events that happen a year or two years from now when all of the media attention has disappeared and another tragedy that captured our fickle attention. Donating money today might make your conscience feel better, but much like the undocumented plight of New Orleans after Katrina, what you do to help in months and years after the fact is even more important than being part of the initial wave of help.

Don't get me wrong, sending money to Doctors Without Borders (aka MSF) is a worthy deed... today... but let's not forget that the fallout from the earthquake is a long-term crisis that cannot be solved so easily by throwing money at it, then forgetting and ignoring it tomorrow. Haiti, much like New Orleans, will need your help and support in the future.

Check out an organization that a friend works for... Save Haiti Saturday. Here's their mission statement...
What started out as a grassroots effort by a group of friends from Miami and Haiti has now turned into a collaboration of hundreds of people around the country from all walks of life, all working together for one cause: to save as many lives as humanly possible in earthquake ravaged Haiti.

The morning after the earthquake hit, Dr. Barth Green, co-founder of Project Medishare, was en route to Haiti on a charter plane (made possible through the generosity of Hank Asher) filled with a team of trauma surgeons. Upon their arrival in Haiti, Project Medishare began working closely with Haitian President René Préval to organize all medical teams on the ground to implement a plan to set up field hospitals and triage centers around the capital city of Port au Prince.

The group of friends, with the help of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine Neurosurgery staff, has been dispatching medical relief and rescue teams from Miami to Haiti. With the help of Beasley Broadcast Group, Inc., their WQAM radio station, and The Miami HEAT, they have set up drop points where people can go to donate medical supplies, water, food, generators, and other necessities. Upon discussing ideas on how best to set up a fundraiser at a local Miami venue, some of the friends noted that with the huge national outpour of support, a national event would attract more attention, and in turn create more donations to send aid to Haiti. Over the next forty-eight hours the group came up with a concept, devised a plan, and have since launched the website to implement it.

Restaurants, clubs, bars, etc. from across the United States have offered to generously donate a percentage of their revenue for "Save Haiti Saturday" which will be taking place this Saturday, January 16th, 2010. "Save Haiti Saturday" is a nationwide fundraising initiative to benefit Project Medishare for Haiti’s massive medical earthquake relief effort. Each participating business has committed to donating either its door cover charges, a percentage of the food and/or beverage revenue, or a fixed dollar amount. The final decision as to how much each individual venue chooses to donate is completely at their own discretion. The more money we can raise, the more support we can provide to our teams of doctors, nurses, and rescue workers who are working tirelessly and selflessly around the clock, performing surgeries and taking care of the sick and wounded during this most critical time in Haiti. People from all over the Nation, from all walks of life are banding together for "Save Haiti Saturday" to help the earthquake victims during their most desperate time of need.
Do what you can to help out. Spread the word. But don't simply give then forget. The people of Haiti will be needing your help for many years to come.

January Truckin'

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Here's the first issue of your favorite literary blogzine. Truckin' was super late in December and only moderately late in January. I'll be back on track next month!

January 2010, Vol. 9, Issue 1

1. Tubes Under Sand by Paul McGuire
The massive and elaborate tunnel system was cluttered with insane Vietnam vets eating black widow spiders, heroin addicts shooting up in the darkness, and methheads cooking up a new batch of Nazi crank... More

2. No Era Mi Intención (I Meant No Harm) by Sean T. Kelly
We weren't the only local wildlife in that town, population 237. Hawks circled overhead hunting for prey. Iguanas scurried aimlessly across the sidewalks heading for the security of the underbrush... More

3. Unpublished by Anonymous
He could look away from the noose he's woven. He could find something else into which he can comfortably slip. He has the power and he's done it before... More

4. Down the Upward Staircase by George Tate
Bebop was one of those guys kind of handicapped in the girl department. He had been shy all his life and never a ladies man. He wasn't strange or picky. He always looked at the girls and when he couldn't go anymore would find his pick in a massage parlor or on his running board... More

5. Dispatches from Miami: The Lot by Paul McGuire
Deviant derelicts crawl out of the shadows and invading the parade of freaks. That's when the inmates eventually take over the asylum... More
Thanks for your support! Shoot me a line if you're interested in contributing something to a future issue.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Naps and Conan

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

What is a nap?

I fell asleep editing Lost Vegas. That's what I get for reading it in a comfortable bed. Now I recall why I don't like to edit things in bed and prefer to sit at a well lit desk. I had heavily re-worked and re-structured some of the first chapter (once again). That was such an intense forty minutes or so that I had to put the rest of the manuscript down and rest my eyes. The next thing I realized... it was dark outside.

The sun disappears around 5pm, but I was out for about three hours. Sometimes I have to listen to my body, something I have been actively doing in the New Year. More sleep. More rest. More downtime. Less time connected, more time unplugged.

I got to thinking, was that mid-afternoon nap just a siesta or not a nap and rather a normal night's sleep? I barely get three hours a night, so you can argue that I had gone to bed and woke up at 5pm. Which would mean that I was not interested in dinner, but starving for breakfast?

I slept about the same amount of time the night before. I crawled into bed closer to five in the morning. Up late. Listening to podcasts. Taking notes. Writing and writing. I was inspired to write a short story that was sloppy and messy, so I had to clean it up when I woke up in the morning. Much tighter and smoother. I'm glad that I started it before I crashed because I probably would have forgotten the story... which is good enough for me to use in a future issue of Truckin'.

It's important to ride whatever wave of creative energy that comes your way. I had one last night and it was essential that I get as much out of it as possible. I fought back fatigue and even though some parts were rambling and coherent (and who's to say anything I write is coherent and structured?), I managed to get the basic ingredients and key elements down before I was nodding off at the keyboard.

The previous two nights I returned to listening to music before I go to bed. It helps me unwind. Both nights I fell asleep sitting in a chair in the living room while I let my mind wander. I woke up 15-20 minutes later, turned off the iPod and shuffled off to the bed room where I had to scavenge whatever covers that Nicky left over for me. At least she remained on her side of the bed. Sometimes I have to give her the lovers shove and make sure she retreats to her territory.

I woke up a few hours later with the short story still on my mind. I knew I had Lost Vegas edits on my schedule, but jumped out of bed to finish off the story before I went to work. I guess that's why I passed out in the afternoon. I didn't have a full battery and still needed to re-charge. The Lost Vegas edits aren't going anywhere -- but those fleeting moments of inspiration are fickle and I learned the hard way that you have to take charge and ride the wave until it crashes.

* * * * *

I watched two episodes of the Jersey Shore with the Friedmans when I was in Vegas. As the Joker said it best, "You only need to see it once because it's the same thing every episode."

Yes, I'd like a full hour of my life back after watching that soiled tampon of reality programming. I needed to watch three full hours of Shakespeare performances on YouTube in order to restore the brain cells lost during the viewing of Jersey Shore.

On the other hand, I'm fascinated (like car wreck morbid curiosity) with the Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien debacle with NBC. Since I'm smack in the middle in the locale of the drama, this is the only thing anyone in LA is talking about. I find myself more interested in the tabloids and what Nicky's friends have to say as this drama unfolds minute-to-minute.

Nicky had a few things to say especially about Jeff Zucker in a post she wrote called Team Conan.

I'm also loving the anti-Leno bandwagon and the outcry of support among Conan's peers for Team Conan. Jimmy Kimmel didn't pull any punches with Leno and Letterman has been having a field day with NBC and his one-time nemesis Leno. Even Howard Stern sounded off and did not hide his disdain for Leno.

I don't think I watched Conan as host Tonight Show one single time mainly because I don't watch late night TV, and when I do it's never the Tonight Show. Heck the last regular late night show I watched was Conan when he hosted Late Night at 12:30. I watched the first few episodes of Jimmy Fallon's version of the show when he took the reigns and haven't seen anything since.

I never watched the Tonight Show when Leno was the host and stopped watching it when Johnny Carson left the show. Back in the 1980s as a kid and teenager, I only watched Carson (I was a Late Night with David Letterman guy) because some nights that was the latest I could stay up and because there was nothing else on. This was in the days pre-internet and cable TV. At that time you either watched reruns of The Honeymooners or Carson. I kinda preferred the summer months when Carson would go on vacation and Joan Rivers (when she was actually funny) would sit in as a guest host. As soon as Arsenio Hall and Morton Downey, Jr. came on the scene, I found myself more drawn to those programs. But I was a die-hard Letterman fan. In my heart, he died when he moved to CBS.

Most of the time I taped Late Night with David Letterman and watched it the first thing when I woke up in the morning before school started. On Friday nights, I got lucky and stayed up all night and got to watch Letterman as it aired which was always a treat because that's when they did viewer mail segments. I dunno how many goofy letters I must have sent NBC over from 1986-89 hoping that they would read something I wrote to Letterman on the air.

My late night pot smoking habit formed in college just at the same time when Conan took control of Late Night. He was weird goofy and his staff wrote jokes that appealed to my slacker/Gen-X sensibility. During my 20s, Conan was often on in the background during those late night bongathons.

And now it seems poor Conan is being pushed out of a job that he's wanted and waited for decades. I definitely can understand the emotional turmoil on what it's like to want a job that only a few people can have that you would almost kill to have (Rolling Stone columnist and a staff writer on SNL). Alas, the stuck up studio assholes are going to win this battle -- but unlike most of the time, they weren't going to let this one happen without getting a little egg on their face and shit on the lapel. Pleased to see Conan fighting his way out of this and I'm rooting for him even though it looks like he's toast.

I'm enjoying all of the biting jokes that Conan's writing staff has generated over the past week. All of those guys uprooted their entire families and left the cool and hip New York City for the culturally bankrupt and ethically clueless streets of Los Angeles... only to soon discover that their dreams of being Tonight Show staff writers have come to a bitter end.

Yeah, Conan is getting all of the sympathy yet hthe sacrifices made by his staff and writers are overlooked. Man bites dog. Suits screw up. More writers fucked by the Hollywood machine.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Future of the Vicodin Diaries

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I'm the worst kind of junkie. A functioning addict. Someone who says they don't cross the line and just dabbles yet manages to get the job done. But that's not even close to the truth. What's the ultimate goal? Wandering up to the brink of sanity and pushing the edge on the cusp of overdosing but without dying. That's it. The life wish.

Those around me are too afraid to say anything or too self-involved to notice. I get away with blatant abuse. I have yet to run into any complications with work due to a fortuitous combination of having a smidgen of talent when many of my peers are mental wrecks, incompetent,and untrustworthy. Any other job or industry, and I'm out on the street. Shit, I'm virtually unemployable outside of Las Vegas, yet I somehow get to earn a living during lean times with rising unemployment. Somedays, I wonder if I push it because I can. Other days I wonder if I push it because I can't stop.

I was never a full blown junkie until I moved to Los Angeles. Is there a correlation? That is something I have been exploring and will continue to explore in a series called the Vicodin Diaries. I will eventually use that material in the form of a novel or screenplay or both. Addiction is popular subject among the masses as long as it's not your addiction being examined. That's why shows like Hoarders or Intervention are widely popular among the dazed masses. Everyone loves watching someone else's trainwreck.

For the last few weeks I have been experiencing intense dreams about the City of Angels, my addiction to painkillers, majestic Pacific sunsets, and a collection of people in my life. Basically, the creative gods are sending me messages while I sleep. They are essentially molding a manuscript inside my head and it's my job to get it onto paper (or onto the computer screen).

I'm bombarded with visions and thoughts as I walk around LA or sit in the passenger seat as I drive around the side streets of the slums of Beverly Hills. My body, my mind is telling me something... hurry up and finish the Las Vegas book so you can write about Los Angeles and your struggles with addiction inside the city limits and in the last bastion of hope at the last bit of land in America before it's cut off by the ocean.

My dream... that I'll find out the true source of what is wrong with me during the process of writing that book and pinpont the source of why I feel as though it's better to be numb to the world that experience it without any buffers.

I use art to solve life's mysteries. Photos. Videos. Paintings. Poems. Satire. Comedy. Social media. Everything at my disposal. I know that I finally exorcised many self-destructing demons during the half of a decade it took to write Lost Vegas. I purged so many personal issues with the last draft that a part of me felt as though I didn't need to finish the last bits of the book and publish it -- mainly because I set out to write it for closure. Once many of those major personal issues with myself and Las Vegas were smoothed over, I sort of lost the drive to complete the project. In short... problems solved and I found the answers I was looking for.

Of course in the pursuit of closure, I had acquired a new set of problems while living in California.... confronted with addiction, balancing a relationship and career, and the never ending quagmire of art versus commerce. Where else would be the perfect battleground than Los Angeles, in the shadows of the Hollywood Hills, and in the streets of the Slums of Beverly Hills.

So that's where I am.... bogged down with a daily struggle to stay clean, on the cusp of finishing a project that is way behind schedule, stuck in an tumultuous industry where I've smacked up against a glass ceiling, and now it seems that every creative bone in my body is itching to write about something completely different.

I set aside time to write four other projects before the LA novel. Yet, that's all the vibes I'm getting from the universe. Thoughts about LA. My mind and my gut is telling me to write about LA. So I've been doing that on nights when I'm unable to sleep, or when I rise early in the mornings while it's still dark outside and jazz music fills the dining room and dices through the stagnant marijuana smoke as I sit down to write. I should be working on my own sites, or whoring those freelance articles, or working on Lost Vegas, yet I find myself scribbling down scenes, soliloquies, monologues, locations, character names, character sketches, and other thoughts about living in LA as a native New Yorker.

The pills come and go. The shakes attack me in unpredictable cycles. Some days are better than others and I don't think about sinking down to that warm and glorious feeling. Even though a bitter chill has blanketed the nation and most of Europe and Southern California is one of the few places in America with any decent weather... I'd rather ingest Vicodin and welcome the pill that provides my entire body with an inner warmth that is ten thousand times stronger than the sun.

Each pill is a log that I throw onto the fire of my soul. It keeps the inferno raging while I feel amazingly good and calm and accepting of everything around me including the insane traffic and suicidal drivers. I can deal with covert racism and classism hovering over the city like a batch of smog that won't evaporate easily. I shrug off the corrupt politics of the nation-state of California that is one step away from complete anarchy. I can handle the LA Douchebags yapping on their iPhones and cutting you off in their Nazi sleds when I'm faded to the tits on Vicodin or some sort of opiates. The annoying actresses struggling for their big break while serving me lunch don't piss me off as much when they totally fuck something up. After all, they were trained in the Mesiner technique and never received and formal culinary training. Sometimes I wonder what pharmies they are taking.

Everyone in this town is on something, trying to get off something, or trying to score something... better. It's the American way.

I knew there was a problem when I preferred the warmth of the pills than the soothing rays of California sun that shot down on me as I wandered through the pedestrian-less palm-tree line streets. Some mornings I wonder if all of this is just a dream and that I died many years ago and that this waking life is nothing more than my own personal heaven. Wouldn't that me a Philip K. Dickian mind fuck to learn that we're already dead and that Earth is nothing more than your personal heaven or hell based on your previous life. If that's the case then when we actually die -- we are born again and get another go around.

Other days I wonder if we're already dead and roaming the Earth is nothing more than waking up in purgatory. We're simply waiting to be sent to heaven or hell. Funny that heaven and hell in Los Angeles are only separated by a couple of miles.

Or then again, maybe none of that exists and when it's finally over (life, that is), we retreat to a big fat cup of nothingness. Fade to black. No credits to roll.

These are questions that have been swirling around my head the last few days and weeks, maybe even months and years. I know that every morning I slide out a chair and sit down at the laptop and peck away unleashing my thoughts. I tackle many of these touchy subjects and difficult philosophical questions. Most of the time I have zero answers and infinitely more questions. Yet, I feel better in a way because I'm trying to find answers to some of my existential questions instead of sitting on my ass and watching Sportscenter or wasting my time reading what the masses are chirping and complaining about on Twitter.

Every morning, I also get bombarded by waves of guilt for retaining my junkie ways, and spend a lot of time justifying and crucifying myself. Sometimes both in the same sentence as I place myself on trial. I'm the judge, jury, and executioner. Some days I avoid twisting the cap to the pill bottle. Some days I don't and my future rattles around with the remaining pills in the bottle.

There's always amazing art through personal struggle. I'm leaning towards publishing most of my morning journals that I wrote while in LA. Sometimes a few of those excerpts filter down to Tao of Pauly, but most of the time they remain hidden somewhere on my laptop. Some of those thoughts are the raw versions of me. The good. The bad. Mostly the ugly.

At any rate, I have my heart set on finishing Lost Vegas in the next few weeks, but on a positive note, I'm feeling the urge to write many more things and I'm not at all inclined to return to being a full-time whore to the poker industry. That's refreshing because sometimes I wonder if I'll ever lose the passion and the fire to write. Rather, sometimes I wonder if I can live life without another paycheck. Part of me felt foolish to walk away from an industry that has money when all the other available options for writers include a reduced wage.

Right now, it's not money that I'm worried about. It's time. That's my enemy. I don't have enough time to write about everything I want to. In the next few months, I'll have to make a tough decision that will affect the next three-four years. I dunno if the LA novel can wait and stand fifth in line (Lost Vegas, untitled e-book project, Jack Tripper, Phish book, untitled screenplay, LA novel) behind other projects that I must write. I guess that's why I've been spending ten fifteen twenty minutes a day jotting down all those thoughts, recapturing all those bizarre dreams from the previous night, and all of those whispers of dialogue rattling inside my head.

I'm supposed to be in Los Angeles, still don't know why, but I'll find out the answers somewhere along the way. It took me a while before I understood that I was given a pass by the writing gods to pen something about Las Vegas and that honor was not to be taken lightly. It's been an epic five year struggle with the Las Vegas book which is finally coming to a close.

As I finally escape the menacing neon and destructive darkness of Las Vegas, I'm running towards the everlasting and deceptive California sun.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

LA > Vegas > LA

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Somedays, I relish the small simple pleasures that make life worth living.... I woke up next to my girlfriend in our bed. I ate chocolate cake. I walked around in shorts. Smoked a strain named after Willie Nelson. I set aside some time for freestyle writing. Free swim, if you will. Writing for the sake of writing, not because I had a deadline looming overhead.

I headed to Vegas for a special assignment. I had been to Vegas many times before to cover non-poker stories such as the Vegoose music festival and March Madness. But this was the first time I was going for the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo. The yearly event happens in January. Since 2006, it seems that I was always working somewhere (AC in 2006, Australia in 2007 & 2008, Bahamas in 2009) in January and unable to head out to Las Vegas. This year, I set aside January to write with the exception of a quick trip to Las Vegas for the porn convention. At the least, I would be able to secure material to a follow-up to Lost Vegas. At the best, I land that juicy story in a major magazine about my adventures at my first ever carnival of porn.

Luckily Nicky was cool with me going to cavort with porn stars and other people of ill-repute in the sex industry. I invited her along, but she rolled her eyes and told me to have a good time without her.

Getting to Vegas was a mini-nightmare. I should have drove. It would have taken less time. We left the apartment before 2pm to drive to Burbank. I would have been in Vegas no later than 5:30pm without any stops. Sadly, JetBlue's plane was broken and it took forever to fix. I sat at the gate and lost $130 playing online poker. I also got a gutache from eating a really bad cheeseburger at Bob Hope Airport. When the plane finally got a new part, the pilots waited forever for a new flightplan. We sat idle on the tarmac for almost ninety minutes. The waitresses, er flight attendants, could not serve booze until the plane was in the air. That menat everyone was grumpy and even more anxious to get to Vegas. Everyone had the same thoughts... "Why didn't we fuckin' drive?"

Due to the original delay, a couple of shmucks from Boston went directly to the bar. They got shitfaced and obnoxious as they stumbled back to the gate. I'm surprised they letthem board the plane they were so belligerent. One fat guy in a Randy Moss jersey couldn't hold his booze and he yaked all over the aft toilet before takeoff. We were delayed an extra fifteen minutes while they cleaned up his mess.

The plane smelled like puke mixed with cheap perfume from all of the skanks heading from the Valley to Vegas for the porn convention. I spotted no less than five or six women who might be in the business or at least working the AEE or the CES show as a trade show model.

The worst part about the flight last Thursday? I had money the BCS game. ABC was the only channel that JetBlue did not have on their inflight entertainment service. Fuck me. Talk about getting pissed off. I couldn't even watch and sweat my bet. I had to keep refreshing my CrackBerry just to keep an eye on Alabama's thumping of Texas. Glad I bet on the right side of that debacle.

Ironically, I spent more time playing poker and writing/researching/sifting through notes than I actually spent on the floor at the convention. I made a couple of hit and run trips. I'm not a claustrophobic person, but there were moments of utter misery when I got caught up in a traffic jam of sex freaks with cameras and boners who weren't moving anywhere because of the logjam of fans seeking photos and autographs from their favorite porn stars.

I crashed with the Friedmans at their new home in the far out burbs. I had my own room with a bathroom/shower and desk to write so it was a perfect set up. I came and went as I pelased but spent my time doing three things: poker, porn convention, and writing.

I watched a little football including the Jets. I would have gone 1-3 had I gambled on every game. The only wager I hit being Dallas and the Over in their game. I bet against the Jets because they always let me down. And man, I thought Green Bay was going to come from behind and pull out a miracle. I had bet them across the board from anywhere to a two point dog to a pick'em to a one point favorite. All of those bets lost, but I did win a first half wager on Arizona and a second half wager on GB to cushion the losing blow of my big bet.

Poker was awful. I made a few mistakes, tilted a bit, yet played overall solid poker making good decisions with horrendous results. For the most part I was a very unlucky player that was spread across a few casinos. I only won a bunch of money at the Venetian, but lost a shitload at Mandalay Bay during a ugly-mofo of a session. I was demoralized so much that even weed couldn't cheer me up. I drove straight to In-N-Out Burger just before it closed and I asked for the largest chocolate shake they had.

I got to do a few fun things like work with Flipchip again, touch the red rocks at Red Rock Canyon, have a couple of meetings with Friedman about upcoming projects, rage solo on the Strip and play poker all night long, and unplugging/going off the grid for hours at a time. It felt good to pull the plug and live life a bit without the constant (distracting) bombardment of useless tweets, molded news, and other remnants of the micro-celeb du jour's personal psycho-dramas.

The flight on Monday night was smooth. Light wait at security checkpoints in Vegas. Flight was on time and arrived five minutes early. I had the entire row to myself. No crying children. Too bad the flight was less than an hour from Vegas to Burbank. I would have really enjoyed that luxury on a longer distance flight. On the way home from the airport, Nicky stopped off at In-N-Out Burger so I could devour a 3x3. She also had a surprise for me at home.... a slice of chocolate cake.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

2010 AVN AEE Montage Video

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Here's some of the non-X-rated material I acquired in Las Vegas over the weekend covering the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo.

Monday, January 11, 2010

AVN AEE Stories

AVN AEE Stories

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

Rather than cut and paste them here, it would be easier to read a couple of items I penned about the AVN AEE.
The Carnival of Flesh
And my NSFW photos of the AVN AEE are here.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

AVN AEE Photo Dump

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

FYI, this is definitely NSFW. You have been warned. I don't wanna get an annoying Nanny State email about how you got in trouble at work. Tough shit. This is your only disclaimer. Otherwise, wait until you go home and wank off in privacy.

Also... I uploaded a photo gallery covering Friday and Saturday at the "porn convention" in Las Vegas. Check out my AVN AEE gallery on Flickr.

So here are some pics from the AVN AEE...

Sampling the pocket pussies

The Bluebirds

She spelled Derek's name wrong on her autographed photo

Interview with a Sex Doll

Interesting concept... a film about Flight Attendants who fuck!

She looks bored

Ass Patrol

Free Penis Rides

Lick me!

The ass of Alexis Texas

Snatch Check!

More pics can be found here... AVN AEE gallery on Flickr.

Also, don't forget to check out Flipchip's AVN AEE galleries... Day 1 & Day 2 & Day 3.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Northwest Corner

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

The northwest corner of my desk is graveyard of memories. Stickers, hotel room keys, casino players' cards, and random business cards from people I met along my encounters form a mound of plastic and paper. A Reminder of the wanderings over the last few months. It's sort of a museum exhibition of life on the road, living in hotels, and wandering around the parking lots of Phish concerts smashed to the tits.

I can see six stickers within my reach. The Joker created two of them -- in an homage to his favorite TV show Lost and our favorite band Phish.

The I Miss Jerry sticker was created by an old hippie with a grey and white beard. We met in Albany on a bitterly cold evening. He's originally from Northern California and had been selling those Jerry Garcia-inspired stickers in order to pay for gas money from Palm Springs all the way to the Northeast. He had the most laid back sales pitch... "Pay what you want." I asked him what would happen when people offered nothing. He said a few people offered to pay zilch and he still gave them away for free. That's why hippies make for bad capitalists and are always broke all the time. Sure they have plenty of stored up karma, but they are cash poor. But for the most part, enough people offered $1 a sticker, which helped keep him on the road.

Two other stickers I acquired in Miami were a play on the "Mile 0" marker sign on US-1 in Key West. And my favorite "Keep Trey Sober" sticker was created by a cute hippie chick with a queer sense of humor. The Joker ran into her at Halloween. I crossed paths with her in Albany and saw her again in Miami.

I visited Las Vegas twice since November, so it was not weird to see players club cards from Harrah's, Mirage, the Venetian, Gold Coast, and Red Rock buried underneath the rest of the rubbish including Vegas room keys from swanky joints like the Gold Coast and the Imperial Palace.

I have so many hotel keys that I don't know what to do with them. I have an odd fascination with the possibility that I could return to the same hotel and have the key work on any room, so I can come and go as I please. Then again, that possibility would freak me out because it means someone else could harness the same power and randomly enter any hotel room. That would be a nifty gadget to have... an universal hotel room key that opens up any hotel room in the world. Imagine how much money I could steal and how much porn I could shoot?

The rest of the hotel room keys on my desk include the Crowne Plaza in Beverly Hills (where friends stayed before Halloween), Paradisus Resort on Playa Conchal in Costa Rica, the Sofitel in Miami, and the Holiday Inn in Charlottesville.

The assortment of business cards are primarily poker-related... my editor at Bluff Magazine, a friend in the marketing department at Card Runners, my French publisher, a writer from the Casino City Press, a freelance photographer from Nevada, and a staff writer at ESPN.

The rest of the business cards are a mixed bag... an artist from Albany, an attorney from Missouri, an engineer from Colorado, a logistics manager in Oklahoma, a teacher from Toronto, and a notary public from Florida.

I have two $5 casino chips. One from the Golden Nugget in swanky downtown Las Vegas and the other from the Jazz Casino in Costa Rica. I doubt that I will be returning to either anytime soon. So for now, they make handy paperweights and prevent random pieces of scratch paper from flying off my desk and getting stuck underneath the rollerball wheels on my squeaky Ikea chair that looks like something out of Clockwork Orange or a futuristic film.

Oh, and I never mentioned the orphaned receipts. The random pieces of paper that I thought might be useful but I really should have crumpled up and threw into the trash. I collect all receipts for tax/work purposes. I don't always use them, but I take them with me anyway and then sort them out after every trip. The important ones go into a special file which I need during the hellacious week when I do my taxes. If I don't need it? It gets ripped into two hundred little pieces and ends up in the trash, only to be disturbed by a deranged homeless person in search of bottles and leftover food.

* * * * *

Erectile Dysfunction commercials intrigue me, particularly the background music. Some of the songs are well-known hits performed by a random cover band. I wonder how that original artist and composer feels about his/her bloodwork promoting pills to help men with penises that don't work. Heck, it's getting old guys laid anyway you look at it. I'm sure they are getting paid big bucks from the pharmaceutical industry fat cats who are swimming in dough. The hookers are the ones who should be the most thankful. A decade ago, there was a smaller pool of potential johns, but with the creation of various boner bills, guys no longer experienced problems getting it up after they lost the usage of their piss pumps.

* * * * *

She lives in the building next door. 40-something Middle Eastern woman. She hangs out of her second story window and chain smokes. Sometimes she talks on the phone. Most of the time she puffs away while ashing into a large empty Gatorade bottle. There's a stack of empty cigarette packs sitting on the ledge. Five? Six high? I always wonder what she's talking about. Some late nights I get paranoid and think she's a double agent.

* * * * *

I'm in the process of trying to unplug to prepare for one last writing binge. Never an easy task. Since the new year began, I have been hiding my phone and keeping the ringer turned off. I have been limiting the amount of time that I read email. The only time I have been dicking around the intertubes has been when I was multi-tasking during online poker sessions.

I have been on a writing binge since my return but I have yet touched Lost Vegas. I have been trying to crank out a month's worth of freelance work inside of three or four days so I can clear the rest of the month to complete the final draft. I missed the grind of waking up early to write in the darkness of the apartment, and closing the door to my office and cranking the jazz writing mixes that I created which spurs the creative process. The fingers peck away at the laptop and every time I write another page... that's more money in my pocket. I have to remind myself that when I'm polishing the final draft of the book. Sometimes I wonder why I attempted a foolish pursuit.

I finally wrote about the hijinks during New Year's Eve, but that fodder is not for public consumption. Even some of the pictures I posted are somewhat incriminating, but oh well. That's just art resembling life, or something like that.

I'm taking off for a few days. Radio silence. Off the grid. I shall return early next week at the latest.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Mixed Bag: LA Brain Droppings and the Saga of the mia > dfw > lax Run

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

A buck-toothed Haitian cab driver blatantly tried to hustle Nicky and I on the way to Miami airport in the eye-rubbing morning hours of January 1st. I was barely sober by the time we packed up our gear and departed the crazy city of Miami. I mean, I was still a bit loopy and jiggy when we checked in for our flight. Luckily, the tracers and hallucinations ceased and I was able to appear reasonably sober when I breezed through security which had been heightened by the Underoos Bomber.

My flight from Miami to Dallas was uneventful. Huge plane. Lots of families returning from vacation. I couldn't sleep. How could I? All those jhuices flowing through my body. I sat and zoned out and realized that I should not been confined to cylinder zipping through the air at 35,000 feet. I needed to be outdoors, listening to music, and riding out the last bits of that mind-altering journey.

Despite my mental purgatory, all the drama occurred after we landed in Dallas courtesy of American Airlines. We got stuck on the tarmac at DFW for over a half-hour (plane at our gate was broken down and unable to move - so they eventually sent us to a different gate in a different terminal) which sucked since we had a super-tight connection. Even though our flight was leaving from a different terminal and we had to grab the "sky link" train, we somehow managed to make the flight. The bad news? Our luggage did not. It got stuck at DFW.

Nicky and I were on travel tilt and it was only the first day of the year. American Airlines said the bags would be delivered to the apartment by 7pm. Yeah, that was bullshit. They eventually arrived before 2am. At least I didn't get anything stolen like what happened in Costa Rica.

Nicky and I sat in different sections on our flight to LAX. I was stewing about my seat -- stuck around two families with multiple obnoxious kids and a screaming baby that must have been the spawn of Satan. That little fucker did not stop wailing until we reached California. I quickly reached for whatever pills I had leftover from Phish tour in order to numb the pain.

For four days, the parking lots around the American Airlines Arena (where the Miami Heat play their home games and Phish played their four concerts) were a haven for drug fiends. The area is normally surrounded by homeless people living in cardboard boxes along the side streets in the shadows of the monorail. Many of them wandered in and out of the psychedelic carnival of Phish fans who came from all over the country, while local drug dealers pushing South Florida's finest Colombian imports competed with the traveling dealers pushing their hippie party favors. Undercover cops were scattered about. It was easy to pick them out from the average Phishead, but a few wasted kids and noobs failed to recognize the fuzz and they got thrown into jail for obvious offenses. The local federales made their daily quota on the amateurs while the rest of the illicit sales went undetected.

I was offered so many pills that I lost count. I even came across a few things that I had never heard of -- which I declined to purchase but wrote down the names so I could do my own research. It hasn't been since the final Phish shows in Coventry, VT in 2004 when I saw that many powders, nitrous, local produce, fungi, liquid sunshine, opiates, and pharmaceuticals. It was sort of a farmer's market of illegal drugs. I was in heaven. I'm getting goosebumps just writing about it.

There was a bunch of DMT in the lots. The Joker and Strawberry were walking around when he noticed the distinct smell -- sort of like burning hair.

"What's that rancid smell that smells like burning hair?" asked Strawberry.


"But it smells like hair. Burning hair."

"Yes. It's DMT. That's what it smells like. Burning hair."


* * * * *

My buddy Chicago Bob came over to the apartment for the Jets game on Sunday night. It was do or die for Gang Green on the very last game of the regular season and all signs pointed towards an easy victory. Even the goomba bookies and the sportbooks in Las Vegas pegged te Jets as a 10 point favorite. The Bengals were not stating their RB and were going to pretty much lay down to the Jets -- thereby sealing a seat in the playoffs. The odd thing? The two get to play each other in the Wild Card game but it's going to be one helluva matchup.

I had won my own football pool last year, but this year I failed to repeat as my editor at Bluff marched towards victory. Lance is a Canuck which means that that's the second time in the last few years that an alien won the Pauly's Pub football pool. Garth took it down two years ago and he's an Aussie. Now, a citizen of Canadia holds the Pauly's Pub title as it heads to the Great White North for a year.

Over in the Grid Iron fantasy football pool, Derek won that league for a fourth time since 2002. He beat me out and I finished in second place. I was way behind most of the season but turned everything around shortly before Thanksgiving and made a run at my brother. I came within striking distance at the end of Week 16, but I couldn't not take him down as I finished in second place. Gah.

* * * * *

I walked down our palm tree lined street and wiped a couple beads of sweat from my brow. I could see the hills of Hollywood due to the lack of smog and low pollution day. The boundless blue skies and a near perfect day with the temps in the upper 70s kept me sane. This is why I live in one of the most plastic cities on the planet. It's hard to have seasonal depression in January in LA.

I have been exercising. Long walks. It's good for my physical well being and I always write better after I exercise. I have a more specific idea on what I want to accomplish. I also love brainstorming while I walk and soak up the neighborhood. It's kinda quiet, and warm, and I'm lucky that I can wander around in shorts and let my mind roam freely.

* * * * *

Nicky is back to cooking again. That means I lose weight and eat healthy organic foods. She made mac-n-cheese from scratch with all organic items including four kinds of cheeses. OK, so it's not the healthiest item she's ever made but it was definitely one of the tastiest I had in a while. The chopped jalapeno's made the dish. I told her it needed bacon. That's what Emeril added to his mac-n-cheese at his restaurant in Las Vegas.

She also whipped up a batch of her famous turkey chili.

* * * * *

I have more books to read than I have time for. My brother bought me the Phish biography for Christmas. That's the bathroom book for me so I'm reading about 5-10 pages every morning. Benjo gave me a book too. Molly sent me a gift card to Amazon. The Prof and Flipchip gave me a Chirs Moore book. I also have the Doyle Brunson autobiography to read that Lara sent me, along with a Nick Harkaway novel that Ryan recommended. Plus, I never finished the newest Thomas Pynchon novel that my brother gave me for my birthday! Yeah, I've been way behind on my book reading as the books are starting to pile up. Time to turn off the TV and YouTube and start reading.

Speaking of books, I saw the film version of The Road at one of the top-floor theatres at the Landmark.. Nicky and I sat in "studio type" resembling a private screening room with six or seven leather couches seating a dozen or so people. I read The Road last year and was eager to see how Cormac McCarhy's post-apocalyptic story about a father and son trying to survive in a dystopian world with roving cannibals eating babies and whatnot. McCarthy is a stupendous storyteller and if there was one thing I learned from his book... it's that you better have plenty of extra bullets if you want to survive the apocalypse.

As we walked out of the film, Nicky said, "I feel the urge to stock up on canned foods."

"That's funny," I said. "Because I have the sudden urge to buy a couple of shotguns and load up on boxes of ammo."

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Miami Video: NYE Montage

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I spliced together the first video of 2010 that features our hijinks from the last few days of 2009 in Miami. The clips of Phish were from NYE including a peek at the prank from a different angle/perspective behind the stage.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Miami Pic Dump #2: NYE

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Broseph serving champagne in the lot

Page during Lawn Boy

The bees in the hive
(This is my fav pic of the weekend. Click to enlarge)

Benjo and the Vermont Maple Syrup Car

The sun rises over Miami

More pics can be found here.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Miami Pic Dump #1: Meet the Crew and Hanging in the Lot

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Here's the first batch....


Futuristic city of Miami - view from our balcony

The Joker in the lot

Teenage Wasteland

Benjo slinging stickers in the lot

Homage to Fishman

Our coffee table

Hawaiian Shirt Day

I love this pic of Strawberry because of the guy
in the background taking a leak on the wall

I gave this guy $20

More pics can be found here.