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."