Thursday, March 31, 2011

Rum O'Clock

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

"It's Rum O'Clock," screamed Nicky.

She was teasing me while I mixed up a mid-afternoon cocktail. I had been up since 5am and been working since 6am so I could take a few hours off to watch the Yankees game, but ended up working through the second half of that. In my estimation, I had put in a full day of work and I was finally relaxing with a well-deserved cocktail.

The previous night was a bit of a blur. I had not drank rum in a week upon my return to NYC. I had two or three beers total during my time home, nothing to sneeze at considering I have been pounding rum in LA. Upon my return to the slums of Beverly Hills, I re-acquainted myself with the rum bottles. I mixed Nicky a cocktail while she watched American Idol and I was in the middle of blazing through 150 un-read and un-answered emails.

The drunker I got, the more angry I got at what I saw on the television. Nicky watched Elton John week on Idol and some of the performances angered me so much that I hurled extra pita bread (leftover from take out at Gaby's) at the TV screen. I really wanted to put my foot through the TV but that would have been counterproductive considering that I'd have to pay for a brand new TV and all. I really don't care much about TV, aside from sports (which I end up sweating more than half of the games online using my laptop anyway) and when we had a brief discussion about a new TV a few months ago, I balked because I really didn't know if we were going to move and I'd rather buy a new TV for a new location rather than buy one and then worry about shipping it later.

The more I think about it, I'm convinced that Nicky watched American Idol in an attempt to tilt me so much that I'd go berserk and smash the TV in with one of my golf clubs. As a result, I'd feel guilty and buy a TV, but not just any TV, I'd splurge a bit and get something gaudy and 25% bigger than anything I really need. Ah, and in the end Nicky would get a brand new TV without having to pay it. Clever ploy. But I'm not falling for it.

If we end up getting a new TV, it's because some knucklehead missed a clutch free throw and I get so pissed off by losing a bet that I flipped over my coffee table or kicked in the TV myself.

At least, that's probably the most likely scenario. Even the most moronic reality TV shows won't send me over the edge like losing a sports bet.

Plus, not too many things will get me to set my alarm and wake up at 4am to watch a the last 6 hours of an 8-hour long cricket match, but that's what I did on Wednesday. By 7am, I decided it was time to start drinking rum and I penned a little bit about my brief encounter with cricket as a youngster and later on in life as an intrepid poker reporter abroad in Australia and Europe.

Check out the cricket-themed post titled Sweating Sachin Tendulkar.

The World Cup final match for cricket is on Saturday starting at 2am. I could stay up all night and watch the match, or I can try to crash early on Friday and get up early to watch it. Who am I kidding? I have chronic insomnia. I'll be up anyway. But the real question is this -- will I be so shitfaced on rum at 10am on Saturday that I'll kick in my TV if India loses the world cup? If that's the case, not only do I lose the amount of the bet, it'll also cost me a brand new TV.

Ergo, I think Nicky secretly wants Sri Lanks to beat India.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Extra Butter

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I missed the food the most. Nothing beats a slice of New York City pizza. I was bummed out when I arrived home from the airport very late and missed a chance at eating a slice at the local pizza joint by my brother's apartment. They closed early on the weekdays -- at 11pm -- but I was pissed because it was not even Midnight and it was supposed to be New York City, you know, the city that never sleeps. Shit, I expected that weak-sauce crap to happen in L.A., when parts of the city shut down at 10pm.

Los Angeles is a weird place like that, shutting down early, considering it's such a big city. Good luck getting grub that late if you're hungry. 24-hour options in my neck of the woods are limited to Jack in the Box, or dealing with drunk hipsters at Canter's Deli, oh and if you're feeling really saucy you do L.A.'s version of running of the bulls, by surviving a meal surrounded by tweaking trannies at the infamous "Trannie IHOP" in WeHo. Nicky and Showcase dubbed it so a few years ago. They were brave enough to check it out a few times, late night, when the freaks roam the streets of West Hollywood, like some dystopian underworld that is right out of Larry Wachowski's dampest wet dream.

For the record, I've never been that adventurous or jonesin' for pancakes at 2am that I'd want to head to trannie IHOP. Now, if I knew there would be a better than 27.5% chance (better than 1 in 4) that I would see a potential riot among pissed off, drunken, pancake flinging trannies -- then I'd be there every fucking night hoping to score some high quality videos to post on YouTube. If any of those went viral, I could expand my Tao brand into a new field -- Tao of Trannie IHOP.

During my brief week in NYC, I spent a lot of time at the Greek diner in the old neighborhood grabbing breakfast sandwiches or a flame-broiled burger to go. The old Jewish guys sat in the back booth. They all bitched and moaned about a variety of sports-related subjects, mainly March Madness, the impact of the Melo trade to the Knicks, and the upcoming baseball season. Yeah, at the time it was hard to believe that Opening Day was a week away, yet it felt good to be in the Bronx and hearing life-long baseball fans kvetch about their teams chances this year.

I popped into the bagel store a couple of times. My local hood has two different bagel shops and this doesn't include the bakeries (three) and Starbucks, where you can also order a bagel. One of the bagel stores is located right across the street from my old Catholic grammar school.One morning after shrugging off the effects of a long day/night partying with my brother and watching/gambling/sweating March Madness games, I woke up foggy and groggy, waked-n-baked, then sauntered three blocks to the bagel store. About two-thirds of the way there, I realized I was retracing the same steps I took everyday for nine years (kindergarten thru 8th grade). It was sort of spooky and the flashback made me dizzy for a few steps. I realized that the majority of the stores on the block had changed, save for the Korean deli and the shoemaker, and the parking meters were no longer accepting coins and replaced by the "box" on the corner where you had to pre-pay for parking and place the slip on your dashboard to avoid tickets from the ticket Nazis that vigilantly patrolled that neck of Riverdale.

I dunno why the other bagel store in the hood (the one away from the school and next to the Greek diner) skimps on butter because it cost less than cream cheese. If you ask for cream cheese, they slop down a thick glob, but they barely butter half of a bagel. It's frustrating and even to this day, I have to boldly request extra butter to get any semblance of butter on a bagel. And every time, I'm met with the most disdain I have ever experienced from any service worker. It's as if I asked them to splice open their palm and drizzle an ounce of their own blood onto my Everything bagel.

For fuck's sake, stop being such a fucking pussy and load me up with some butter.

It's like the store owner whipped them in the back alley if they went over the butter rations for the day or something. Is my request too burdensome? All I want is butter, lots of it, so what's the problem with giving the customer what they wants?

Yeah, even though I haven't been home in a few months, something never change -- I'm also tilted by the bagel people.

The only other time I was tilted (not including my mother, which is implied tilt 24/7/365) during my trip to New York City happened when I attempted to cross Broadway at 86th street. I was headed to the bank to deposit a couple of paychecks. I had a a green light and attempted to cross the first half of Broadway, for non-New Yorkers, Broadway is six lanes wide (not including a lane of parked cars on either side) and divided by a small island in the middle of the historic avenue, with three lanes of traffic flanking each side. I walked East on 86th Street and passed through two of the three lanes when a white BMW with Florida plates drove West and attempted to make a left hand turn south on Broadway, and in doing so, she was on a trajectory to strike me. I was a few seconds ahead of a potential collision and had to think quick. In Los Angeles, cars actually stop cold for pedestrians because you can get a ticket for not allowing a pedestrian to cross the street. Even though that law doesn't exist in New York City, everyone is civil enough to let the pedestrian complete the route and reach the pedestrian island safely beofre they make the turn. Alas, I'm glad I noticed the distinct Florida license plate because the female driving was going a little too fast and I anticipated that the out-of-towner wouldn't slow down, so I sprinted through the final lane onto the pedestrian island, like a baseball player trying to leg out an infield hit. The Florida twat had the audacity to honk at me when I had the right of way and she reckless turned into the flow of pedestrian traffic.

I flipped her off and let the words, "Fuck you twat!" roll off my tongue like they were heat-seeking surface-to-air missiles.

BMW lady could have killed someone. What if an old lady was walking? She would have been toast. Leave it to an out-o- town driver to cause havoc on the Upper West Side.

I rode the subways and forgot how much easier it is to get around a vast metropolis, and it made me curse the sprawl of Los Angeles and reminded me that I'm less mobile in LA because it's a pain in the ass to fight traffic and deal with parking. But in NYC, I'm cover more ground and much more active because of the all mighty subway system. Plus it encourages inebriation because I don't have to be sober to operate a motor vehicle, so I can rip bingers before I hop on the train or nibble on a sliver of oxy before I head out to a museum.

I also experienced the benefits of the Kindle app on my CrackBerry. I read a collection of short stories (blah) and started an anthology of contemporary music writing (hit or miss, but when it hit, I was floored). I wondered if I would ever sink as low to buy a Kindle and be one of those people on the subway. At the moment, the CrackBerry app was appropriate. I dunno if I could endure an entire book or novel on the small CrackNerry screen, which is why short stories were perfect because I'd read a story or two per trip.

On my way back to LA, I took two subways to get to the AirTrain which eventually led me to JFK. I was delayed 20 minutes because I had gotten on the wrong train, actually it was the correct line, but it was heading to a different destination, so I had to get out and wait for the right one. Security line was light for JFK airport, which made up for my lost time on the subway. But that didn't matter, because our plane arrived a few minutes late and the "security check" of the plane was taking longer than usual. As a result, we were delayed almost thirty minutes. That's when I dug into a book by Warren Ellis that I started to read a few years ago, but never finished reading because I lost interest after the first 20 pages. At the time, the book received a lot of hype from friends so I really wanted to love it, but it turns out that the more people rave about something, the less I enjoy it because I allow those expectations to taint my experience. I can cite a dozen or so films and books in the last decade that fell into that category, which is why I try my hardest not to hype up something that I recommend to a friend.

Anyway, I allowed a few years to pass and I totally forgot about the Warren Ellis book until I saw it in a box in my old bedroom in the Bronx. I picked it up and decided to give it a second shot, mainly because of it's compact size -- much smaller in height and width than the average paperback. Since I was traveling light, it was the perfect size and page length. I began re-reading the first 20 pages at the gate while I waited for the delayed flight to finally board. I forgot all of my previous disdain for the book. I guess that I was in a better head space, or just in a better mood to read Ellis' prose.

My flight boarded later than everyone wanted and I lost airplane bingo and got stuck two rows in front of a wailing demon baby and right behind five rows filled with spoiled teenagers from Santa Barbara who were on some sort of class trip to NYC. A few of the girls were jailbait potential, but they were too annoying for me to drool over them. They were so fucking slow to get settled into their seats and wanting to switch back and forth playing musical chairs that the (very flaming) flight attendant got snippy and surly and called out the highschoolers over the PA. They eventually settled down, the plane doors were closed, and the plane finally pulled away from the gate. The baby screeched at the top of its lungs, sort of like a war cry before trying to bayonet your enemy on the pocked battlefields of WWI. I ate some Xanax and dove into Ellis' book while the plane sat on the tarmac for thirty minutes caught in the height of JFK rush hour of 7pm.

I finished the book somewhere over Colorado, and yes, I'm bragging that I killed two books on cross-country Jetlue flights... The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion by Matt Tabbai and Crooked Little Vein by Warren Ellis. Highly recommend both as airplane books.

I spent the last couple of hours of my flight in a faded glaze, watching a reality show about haunted animals on Animal Planet before my plane finally landed in California. I never wanted to get off the plane faster, but the high school kids were lagging, once again and I was ready to hipcheck a few out of the way and make my way off the plane.

I rushed outside and waited for Nicky to circle around the LAX complex and pick me up at the curb. The warmth of the SoCal evening was much more welcomed than the wintry mix that greeted me when I stepped outside JFK airport a week earlier.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Almost Home

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Trips to New York City often spur a tsunami of memories, both good and bad, about my life. It's easy to stumble upon an unchecked memory when you walk down the street and see a face, or storefront, or landmark which triggers your memory banks and a flood of images swirl around your brain. It's hard to pinpoint the origins of these memory dumps, but I'm getting bombarded with memories as far back as the 1970s when I was a little one and as most recent as my last trip to NYC with Nicky.

My old neighborhood is changing like most old neighborhoods often do during a massive cycle. New York is a city that is under constant construction. The new is built on top of the old, and the old is maintained as long as it can be, before someone buys the crumbling mess, and tears it down to put up a new structure. And the new structures are always taller than the original ones. Vertical. That's what is happening, and has been happening since the Guild Age -- a Vertical assault on the skies.

No wonder parts of me are all out of whack -- which is what happens when you spend most of your childhood six stories above terra forma.

I see lots of familiar faces in the old neighborhood, but I also see plenty of news ones. The ebbs and flows of the neighborhood. I wondered how many kids I grew up with stayed here, and how many got out, only to return as an adult due to some unforseen downturn in their lives -- losing a job, getting a divorce, fighting the cancer bug -- because my peers are reaching an age when many of them are struggling with the fallout of their first marriage. Some of them are on their second and breeding with another woman. Man, I haven't even settled down with a first wife, let alone considered having kids in this insane world that is getting crazier by the day...hour...minute...second.

I wandered around the city with the assumption that there's a very good chance that I return as a temporary citizen. Nicky and I have been in deep discussions about leaving the City of Angels. I want to get the fuck out before the Big Quake hits, but there's a small opportunity for us to live in NYC for a few months at the end of the year and share an apartment with a mutual friend. As much as that would hinder me as a writer (I'd lose my office), I've been wanting to live in NYC fulltime ever since I left in 2005 to become a poker writer. After that initial introduction to the nebulous poker world, I got sucked into living in Las Vegas, while roaming the circuit for most of the year. I eventually settled into a relationship and opted for LA instead of Sin City. Vegas was too tempting and too dangerous of a city for me, and besides, the darkness was unappealing to me. I often tell my friends that Vegas had gotten so dismal for me that the hills of Hollyweird seemed like paradise. It's been a few years since I made the move to the West Coast, where I holed up to write Lost Vegas. I spent almost every free waking moment in LA focused on finishing that behemoth of a manuscript. And in the last few months, I re-wrote Jack Tripper in the same space.

Man, it's going to be hard to leave the office behind because I got used to having a door of my own to close and write without distraction. Regardless of the lack of an office for me, we still might just pull the trigger on living in NYC for a few months. I can suck it up for a bit, right? It's not like I'm going to start working on a new project until January of 2012, right? And the cost is almost a wash. If I can pick up an extra assignment or article or two, I should have no problems making the transition. In some areas, NYC is cheaper than LA, but at the same time, LA has its financial advantages.

The cheap food is an interesting aspect to the city. I spent most of adult life as a starving artist and compiled a list of cheap, yet delicious eateries. When in doubt, a bagel or slice of pizza can become a meal and tide you over a couple of hours. Shit, just yesterday, I grabbed a Sicilian slice that cost $2.50 and was probably the 2.5x size of two crappy slices in LA, which cost twice the price. That tided me over in between a late breakfast and early dinner with my mother.

And yes, this was a little bit of a rough trip considering that I had to hang out a bit with my mother and do my taxes. The taxes bit sucked ass. No one likes writing checks to the Treasury to do who knows what with my hard-earned money. It took me a couple of days of prep work in LA and then a full day and a half in NYC to finish everything up. This is my least favorite time of year and I'm fucking thrilled it's over. I shipped my blood money to the federales and now they can lay off me for another year. Because that's what you're really do right? Sort of like paying the mafia "protection money" because they'll leave you alone as long as you pay up in a timely fashion. Otherwise, they will become a pain in the ass.

I spent an afternoon in the museum. I ran into Chuck Andresen at the Met. I had sent him a signed copy of Lost Vegas and he was thrilled to have one. He suggested that I see a couple of exhibits including the Emperor's Private Paradise: Treasures from the Forbidden City. I wanted to see Cezzane's Card Players...for obvious reasons. While I was there, I checked out a bunch of other exhibits. The only ones that stuck out included The Andean Tunic: 400 BCE-1800 CE and Guitar Heroes: Legendary Craftsmen from Italy to New York. I'm usually excited about the other special exhibits, especially photography, but I was let down by what they were showing. Art is hit or miss...and this trip was mostly definitely a miss. At least I got to see an old friend, Chuck, and wander around the museum and subsequent Central Park in an oxy-induced haze.

My brother is in-between jobs, so he had off from work last week, which meant that we could watch the March Madness games without any worries because he didn't have to get up early and head to work the next day. My bro no longer works for "The Sack" and he's moved onto better and brighter things. Lets hopes the insurance industry can handle this financial tsunami that is headed our way. With Portugal completely insolvent now and Ireland next up on the list, I can't stop wondering when the EU is going to sink and when all of the American states/cities start defaulting on their debt. That's when it's really going to get ugly in America.

Until that moment of reckoning occurs, I continued on with my journey in life, as I drifted back and forth between old and new memories of NYC. I mean, will I really be back in a few months? I can't think about that right now -- I still have Jack Tripper to publish, the 2011 WSOP to work, and Phish's summer tour to party hard on before I can consider returning....home.

Monday, March 28, 2011

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

By Pauly
New York City

It's been forever since I did this...
Last 5 Books I Saw People Reading on the Subway...
1. Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
2. Naked by David Sedaris
3. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
4. The Holy Bible
5. Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea by Chelsea Handler
And some things never change.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

LAX > JFK - March Madness Version

By Pauly
New York City

My last few days in Los Angeles were a blur. The combination of rum and Kush were to blame. I have no other excuse other than I've been living it up the last few weeks, and my close friends know about the "high gear" of your soul, when you crank it up an added notch while living life to its fullest.

Shit, I can't think of a better time to be alive. We're on the cusp of revolution with new found freedoms, or we're about to be incarcerated into a totalitarian gulag. Either way, it's time to shine. As one of my friends from college used to say, "Smoke 'em if you got 'em."

Perspective is the difference between ordinary blandness and extraordinary nostalgia. I hate living in Los Angeles...except this time of year. It took coming home to NYC and being greeted by snowflakes in late March before I realize that I enjoy the warmth of the California sun, especially when it's 70 degrees in February. The general consensus is that LA is a seismic-mega-disaster waiting to happen, strangled by hopeless and relentless traffic, and comprised of denizens that are vacant, moraless, vapid, pretty people corrupted by the crippling grips of the entertainment industry...which I suck up because it's 70 fucking degrees in the winter.

The last few days in LA were a blur. I vaguely remember my upstairs neighbor practicing CeeLo's Fuck You on the ukulele, while Nicky was getting paid to write about her afternoon that entailed watching a reckless Swedish gambler play online poker, meanwhile, like a rejected lyric from a Radiohead song, the radiation rain gently fell on the City of Angels.

The most schwasted I was in some time happened at Canter's last weekend. Nicky and I wandered in and I'm shocked that I didn't pass out cold in my pastrami sandwich. I really should not have been in public after drinking rum for 12+ hours and nibbling on slivers of oxy and horking down bingers of a strain of Kush re-branded as "Charlie Sheen." At that point, I was in the middle of a rum-induced bender, in which I was drowning rum in 25 hours out of 36 hours.

I finally stopped drinking to give my liver a rest and to give myself a break before I went home to New York and "cleaned up" a bit. The trip to the airport was the same as it always is. I arrived early, accounting for LA traffic and long security lines mostly filled with irritated and/or clueless travelers dragging along wheelie suitcases stuffed with clothes. Americans grossly overpack for the smallest of trips. Me? I took just my small backpack and paced an energy bar, my March Madness brackets, a spare pare of boxers, a carton of smokes from my mom, three books (including a "pre-proof" copy of JTSMD), and my laptop. I opted out of a full body scan and got my junk grabbed -- in the most professional manner possible. As per usual.

My flight was delayed but it was a hidden delay. As per usual, the airline didn't update their website, but I did the simple "eye test" to see if a plane was at the gate. It wasn't and the plane that we were supposed to fly out on, was still in the air due to a delay on the East Coast. I decided to sit a gate away from my gate because nothing is worse than listening to entitled New Yorkers or LA freaks bitching about a delayed flight once it got announced by the flight attendants, whom wait until the last possible second in order to quell a mutiny.

I slumped over a chair and sipped a $4 bottle of water and gobbled on my last sliver of oxy. I knew it would ward off any inept passengers, especially crying babies. I opened up Matt Tabbai's The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion and breezed through 50 pages during the delay.

I had a nice elderly couple sitting in my row as I manned my usual seat on the aisle. The guy read a book and snoozed most of the flight. They didn't get up once. I barely watched any of the TV provided by JetBlue. Instead, I finished The Great Derangement by the time we reached Ohio airspace. I spent the rest of the time reading a collection of short stories on my CrackBerry's Kindle App until the Knicks game started.

The pilot made up time in the air and we arrived in the NYC metropolitan area just around the time we were supposed to, but due to bleh weather and heavy air traffic, we were caught in a holding pattern for over 30 minutes. We finally landed. With no bags, I sprinted to the taxi stand and was fourth in line. The snow was falling, but luckily not sticky. The cold, brisk air sent a shiver into the deepest part of my gut. My body wasn't used to that type of cold blast. I jumped into the back of a cab. The driver took one of the outer roads of the Williamsburg Bridge and he was slipping and sliding on the wintry mix. I put on my seat belt, but then took it off. If we were going to fall over the side, I didn't want to survive the fall, but then drown in the East River while trapped in my seatbelt. If we went over the rail, I wanted to go in that instant. I unbuckled the seatbelt.

The driver safely navigated the bridge and drive north to the East Village. I had to meet a friend of mine and I sat in a dive bar and watched the end of the Knicks game. My buddy arrived and we caught up on old times. He moaned about a couple of recent life bad beat stories, but he seemed optimistic about the future. He even invited me to play in a new poker club that opened up in Midtown. I declined and headed to the Bronx to see my brother. It was more rain than snow in Manhattan, but the Bronx had more snow than rain when I walked down the slippery sidewalk to my brother's building. When I left Los Angeles earlier that morning, it was sunny and I barely noticed the weather. As soon as I stood inside Derek's vestibule, I wiped off a thin layer of snow that accumulated on my jacket.

Friday, March 25, 2011

More Silver Bears - Part 5

By Pauly
New York City

The Silver Bears hath returned with Part 5of their hysterical, yet controversial series on silver manipulation...

Too bad they aren't a weekly series. For more episodes of the Silver Bears, check out: Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Anxious in the Red Zone

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

My hair knows when it's about to be cut because all of a sudden, it shows flashes of brilliance that are conveniently noticeable whenever I walk by a mirror. It's my hair's last gasp attempt at self-preservation and extending life for a little bit longer before the inevitable beheading.

I have not cut my hair since Turkey Day. I got it trimmed for my first ever special dinner with Nicky's family. The last time I fully shaved was prior to Christmas for my family's special holiday dinner. I began the new year under the assumption that I wouldn't shave or cut my hair until I finished Jack Tripper Stole My Dog. Hockey players call it a playoff beard. Me? It gave me an excuse to be lazy and not worry about shaving or worrying about my feral hair -- what little I had left.

A couple of weeks ago, I shaved down to a goatee when I completed the re-write of the final draft and subsequent read-thru with Nicky. Later this week, I'll get a haircut from Vinny the Barber within 24 hours of my return to New York. I missed a chance to see him around Halloween when I was in the NYC area for Phish's fall tour and three-show run in Atlantic City. Without a professional attending to my slowly expanding bald spot, I had to settle on a McCut at SuperCuts in Beverly Hills. You get what you pay for. The McCut operatives are quick, but Vinny the Barber is a true artist. He's from the old country (via Sicily) and takes his time sculpting out a masterpiece. I can't wait to climb into the chair and listen to him ramble on about world politics, local sports, and his last trip to Atlantic City.

By now it's obvious that I finished JTSMD, but the project is not quite complete. I got the ball in the Red Zone and all I have to do is punch it across the goal line. Yep, the goal is still incomplete. I started the first draft in November of 2002. Eight years and eight months later, I should finally cross that line. At the present moment, this is the quiet before the final storm. The publishing process is fucking brutal, something I learned the hard way with Lost Vegas. I'm much more prepared this time around, at least I hope so. I've climbed the mountain once and survived the descent. I'm confident I can climb it a second time.

Maybe someday I'll eventually write about some of the more tense behind-the-scenes moments and drama involving the final stages of securing Lost Vegas in print -- at one point, the stress had gotten so intense that I got ambushed by intense chest pains. On two instances last Spring, I really thought that I was having a heart attack. Luckily, I've been down the wrong rabbit hole and pulled myself out of some bad trips. Those frightening, mind-bending experiences came in handy last year in trying to sort out the madness that accompanied the ineptness I encountered trying to punch it into the end zone. I dunno if I could have gotten through the final stages without Nicky's amazing patience and support. I spent a fifty or sixty day stretch on mega-tilt trying to deal with my publisher, delays, and unexpected curveballs. It wasn't until August (40 days after the publication) when I was finally able to relax and not stress out about stuff.

For the JTSMD project, I made the easy decision to ditch my former, inattentive, hard-to-reach publisher. I found a new one, Create Space, which is affiliated with But, I'm still a little anxious because I've never dealt with the new guys. In the end, I really won't be able to relax until the book has been out for a month or so. Dates are TBD, but I'm shooting for before Memorial Day. You should follow @JackTripperBook on Twitter for updates.

I've been enjoying this "time out" or holding pattern in between the final draft and the final drive toward the end zone. March Madness could not have come at a better time because I'm looking to numb my senses a bit and stave off any lingering feelings of depression that accompany the completion of a writing project. Yeah, I always get a tinge of somberness whenever I finish a project. You put your heart, soul, sweat, and life force into creating something out of nothing and after you finally complete it, you wake up the next day with a tinge of emptiness because you don't have the same zest and zeal to jump out of bed without something to look forward to.

Yeah, it's been hard to shake at times, which is why I've been rolling with the punches and not forcing myself to snap out of this dreary phase by letting it run its course. In the meantime, I've delved into reading books in my "To Read" pile and zoned out to college hoops.

My favorite part about writing is the actual physical process of writing. Field research is my second favorite part, followed by the act of writing of the first draft in my head as I collect thoughts and internalize the structure of whatever I'm about to regurgitate.

My least favorite parts of writing are the promotional side and publishing phase. I used to hate editing, but I've since warmed up to the importance of having a good editor and letting go of words. The promotional side gives me a stomach ache. It's often a lose-lose situation for me because if I don't like the piece or feel it's inferior, then I feel as though I'm deceiving the reader if I'm trying to promote it. On the flip side, I have a terrible gauge determining how readers will react because the stuff I fucking absolutely love is often met with silence (or worse, the sound of crickets chirping), meanwhile, it's the throwaway drivel that ends up becoming a hit.

On a positive note, I've been debating which future path to take because I've reached an ambitious fork in the road about the next project -- the L.A. novel or the Phish book. I thought it would be best if I alternated between fiction and non-fiction, so after Lost Vegas and JTSMD, the next genre in rotation would be non-fiction, ergo, the Phish book. However, that project is cumbersome and so immense that I really need 2-3 years of research, writing, and editing to finish it, whereas the first draft of L.A. novel could take half that time. The first draft could theoretically be written in less than 3-4 weeks. I'd prefer to get two cracks at a re-write before I trimmed the fat for the final draft, but the ambitious part of me feels as though I can churn out a novel within 14-16 months of sitting down to write the opening sentence. That time frame is specific to working within the same structure and process that I did with the previous two. Of course, if I could get 3-4 months completely alone and unfettered from freelance work, updating blogs, Phish tour, pro sports, and holidays -- then I'm confident I could get a final draft done in less than 100 days. Alas, that's not the case because life intervenes.

Realistically, I'll have to pick a couple of weeks here and there in late 2011 and 2012 and spread out the entire project. Ideally, I'd love to have it out by Halloween 2012, but that will only happen if I can crank out an initial draft sometime this autumn, re-write it in January/February, edit it down that spring, sit on the draft over the summer, re-write it after the WSOP and early September and have it ready to go by Halloween. Easier said, than done.

But let's not get ahead of myself just yet. I still have the ball on the 20-yard line.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Atwood and Publishing

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Margaret Atwood chats about contemporary book publishing...

Friday, March 18, 2011

Around the Horn: Trailer Park Boys, March Madness Betting & Drinking, Meltdown, Tao of Bacon, The Waffles Report, and Anonymous v. Bankers

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

A few items of note from the other tentacles of the Tao octopus...
I'm semi-live tweeting my intoxication levels as I watch and gamble on March Madness.

Insights (or warnings) into my basketball bets.

My new favorite show... The Trailer Park Boys. It's Canadian humour at its finest.

New photos have been added to Tao of Bacon.

I posted a couple of link dumps on the nuclear meltdown in Japan.

It was a good week with a couple of rants from Waffles' latest column...The Waffles Report.

The collective known as Anonymous is taking on the global bankers and the Federal Reserve.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Soaked Sponges with Dirty Water

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

9:30pm. Been a long few days and I've been caught up in my own little world that I forgot that I hadn't posted here in a few days, but it's not just been here, because my poker section has been gaunt because I haven't been playing cards (gambling on sports or commodities instead) and I'm not feeling like being a talking head or a pundit in poker with so much more important stuff going on in the world, which is why Tao of Fear has been the main focus on my attention.

I'm sitting in my office after barely touching dinner. I really dig this Indian joint in Beverly Hills that Nicky found. They serve the best samosa I've had in America and they make it from scratch. The Indian joint is kinda cheap considering the posh neighborhood. Usually, I'm excited to eat it once a week or sometimes once every 5 days, but tonight I sorta picked at my dinner...because... I had too much on my mind...I wasn't hungry...and I had too much on my mind.

After dinner, I locked myself in my office while Nicky watched American Idol. I finished editing a couple of freelance pieces and I still have a few more hours of work to do before I fuck off for four straight days, get snookered, and gamble on college basketball. I have mixed emotions about March Madness this year. In the past, I was always super excited about this time of year because I gambled heavily and the outcome of the next few weeks determined on what type of summer I'll have, meaning, if I win a shit load of money, then I'll have a blast on Phish tour and blow all my winnings on travel and fun stuff, but if I lose, then I'll have a more laid back summer because I'll have to dig into my savings to travel and see Phish, something I'd rather not do with a gloomy financial forecast in the future.

The world is hanging together by the thinnest of threads, so many insane worst-case-scenarios are whipping around my head, that all of that internalized fear mongering has kept me occupied. The last few weeks have been intense between finishing up edits on Jack Tripper Stole My Dog, and the recent waves of civil unrest in North Africa and the Middle East, and as of last Thursday night, the Japan apocalypse hat trick (Earthquake, tsunami, nuclear meltdown), and I've been bogged down in disseminating thousands of pages of info trying to find out what's really happening. It's exhausting and as a result I'm caught up in a odd funk -- I'm not quite depressed, I'm actually the opposite but I'm feeling guilty about trying to enjoy myself living in the moment, so I've been caught up in this weird in-between phase of emotions, sort of like having a subdued celebration. Hence, why I drank rum for 49 days in a row.

I snapped the streak by accident. It wasn't supposed to happen like that --- I was simply too busy with catch-up work and writing on Sunday night that I had worked late in the night and by the time I was done around 4am on Monday morning, I was too tired to even make myself a drink, but not even cognizant of the streak until the next day when I figured out -- holy fuck -- I've drank even day for seven weeks straight and something like 56 out of the previous 60 days going back to the trip to the Bahamas. It's been a while since that's happened -- summer of 2007 when I covered the WSOP -- because I had the worst assignment I've ever had since I got into poker in 2004 and I drank every day at dinner time to shake off the day's tilt that accumulated.

I'm going to do everything to relax and stay off the multiple laptops over the next four days -- by staying off, I mean I'll use them as extra TVs to stream games that I bet on, but won't use the laptops to dick around the internet and watch documentary videos about the evils of the Fed Reserve and the shadow banking industry. Instead, I'll use Twitter via my CrackBerry to unleash my inane thoughts on sports betting into the cosmos, but I really want to enjoy basketball and be in the moment, instead of being chained to my laptop with my hands on the keys and one eye on the TV screen.

I had been trying to string together a nice run before the tournament started. Over the weekend, I went 4-0 in my bets. The money didn't matter as much as the confidence boost. But that went away on Tuesday when I put out some feeler bets and went 0-4. A fucking donut. Fuck me. I had bet small, which mattered because it meant that I wasn't blowing my wad before March Madness began, but it sucked to stumble into the tournament on a blah note.

I'm a little worried for one of two reasons...
1) I'll wake up on Thursday with the "fuck it" voice inside my head that has been calling the shots the last few weeks, which is why I've spent a longer stretches getting blotto because that's the realist in me saying that I know it's the end of the fucking world is coming (at least in a severe paradigm shift in which our contemporary life of leisure, peace, and prosperity is replaced by increased crime, nonstop violence, and constant displacement) so I better party it up while I can because in a few years I'm gonna be up shit's creek wishing that I spent my last days partying like it's 1999 instead of worrying about the controlled demolition of western civilization that I cannot stop, so that guy in my head will entice me to bet more recklessly -- betting over my pre-set limits or making too many bets...


2) I'll wake up and feel completely unmotivated to gamble and make bad bets by not doing as much research as I should because I'll be feeling that with so much other more vital stuff going on in the world that the entire concept of March Madness is futile, so I'll feel guilty about rotting my life away on the couch by brazenly throwing hundreds of dollars at meaningless outcomes of games.

Alas, I'll guess I'll have to wake up tomorrow and see what kind of mood I'm in because it will set the tone for the day -- I'm either going to be raging hard, or continuing my subdued celebration and drink silently while wallowing in my own guilt.

Fun times ahead, eh?

Dammit. This is what happens when I delve into fear mongering and existentialism for too many hours. I'm a sponge and I soak up whatever light or darkness is around me. Gotta wring it out and start from scratch. Tomorrow would be a great day to start.

Monday, March 14, 2011

3am Rum and Fallout Fears

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

3am. It's 70 hours after my last post. I'm still drinking rum and fixated on Japan. This time, it's not an earthquake or tsunami, but the nuclear meltdown that is either being overhyped or under-reported. I hope it's hype and not my biggest fear -- that we're on the cusp of a nuclear winter.

Maybe this is nature's way of saying that nuclear energy is bad, so they are going to destroy the energy source, thereby radiating the populous and wiping out all humans. That's straight out of The Day the Earth Stood Still.

I wish I had a little more enthusiasm to write, but I'm caught up in the "it's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine" mode, which means I'm partying my ass off under the guise that it's going to get really hairy soon, so I must enjoy myself now before it's too late.

The "now" never felt more important.

The tomorrow seems every more bleak and the yesterday seems like years and decades and lifetimes ago.

I don't know what is going to happen in Japan, and if there is an ensuing fallout, how much exposure will North America get? Will any of the nuclear clouds pass by us? Will it get swept up in a different weather pattern and expose a different country instead of us? Is it bleak of me to consider an option to move to South America to avoid any fallout?

It wasn't the earthquake, or the tsunami, rather it's gonna be the fallout. Sure, the earthquake triggered the events that led up to the shutdown of generators that cooled these nuclear reactors that went off line, but when they couldn't cool the reactors -- a meltdown occurred. It's supposed to be somewhere in between Chernobyl and Three Mile Island -- which is to say -- we're kinda fucked.

Who would have thought it could end like this? And not at the hands of a nuclear holocaust unleashed by a war between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, or China, or at the hands of a rogue terrorist group.

Just when it looked like Americans were waking up from their deep slumber after falling asleep at the wheel and letting the jackals in Washington sell the souls of the American people for pennies on the dollar to Armani-wearing suits on Wall Streets. The Wisconsin protests were the first glimmer of hope that I had seen in a very long time, but will the nuclear clouds reach Madison before the concentration of protests dissipates, and everyone goes scrambling for cover and radiation suits?

Ah, my head hurts thinking and overthinking about these dystopian scenarios. But then again, what if my imaginable fears have become a reality and Japan is just the seventh of one hundred steps towards the end of the world?

That's why I'm drinking rum. Heavily. And I cranked up Cee Lo's Fuck You -- on repeat -- so I have nonstop Fuck You action loud enough that I will guarantee to piss off the neighbors.

Friday, March 11, 2011

5am Rum, Aliens Invade Santa Monica, and Wake of the Flood

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

5:10am. I'm drinking rum. Not sipping. Drinking. Semi-heavily in the eerily silent City of Angels. The only external sounds are the rumblings of a garbage truck a few blocks over. By the time the truck reaches my street, the tsunami waves should be reaching the shores of Hawaii. That's one of the reasons I'm sitting here at this hour and consuming rum like it's happy hour in the Bahamas. The same waves should reach the golden shores of California around 8:30am. The morning rush hour. I know some deviant fuckers are going to try to catch some gnarly waves, but a curious part of me wants to drive down to the beach and wait to see... what happens.

Nicky is up as well, very rare for her a this 5am hour, but she's been sucked into the drama. She grew up in California and survived the Northridge jolt, so quakes are indigenous for her. Right now, she's playing online poker, self-medicating with a strain called "Charlie Sheen" (no bullshit), while constantly flipping back and forth between different online news sites and Twitter. I rarely watch the alphabet news networks on TV, heck I've watched more Al Jazeera in 2011 than ever before, along with Russia Today and the BBC, so I have no desire to watch CNN or Fox. If I want to watch puppets, I'll turn on The Muppet Show.


A devastating 8.9 earthquake rocked Japan around 11pm Thursday night -- just as I was ready to head out to see the premiere of Battle: Los Angeles for a Midnight showing at Century City. The movie was Independence Day meets Cloverfield but with M-Rod and a cameo from a Tom Brady's baby's momma. At midnight, the theatre was almost packed. We had assigned seats, which I selected when I bought the tickets online. The theatre was filled with a lot of sci-fi geeks, stoners, and high school kids. Nicky wanted to see it because she 1) loves disaster movies, and 2) loves to see L.A. blown up on the bog screen. I nibbled on a little sliver, had a couple of cocktails, and was ready to escape into the fantasy world of Hollywood and watch aliens invade Santa Monica, meanwhile on the other side of the world, in the real fucking world, Japan is under siege from the worst earthquake that they've ever experienced (and the 5th strongest recorded since 1900). Yeah, as aliens stormed the beaches of Santa Monica, the same beach was expected to absorb the last remnants of the tsunami. I doubt the waves are anything more than a couple of feet, but expect the local news to go ape shit over it and have the alphabet news networks drooling over the change to get viewers to tune in.

Once we returned to the slums of Beverly Hills around 2:10am, I turned on our TV. The ensuing Tsunami post-quake was a good enough reason to watch cable news, especially since the entire West Coast the US was under a warning/watch/advisory. I'm a sucker for disaster porn (ahem, Tao of Fear), but I had to turn off the sound but welcomed the images. Instead, I have Al Jazeera's live feed (in English) running while I sit here and quickly ramble away before it's time to mix another pineapple juice and rum concoction and I lose all enthusiasm to write.

The last time a big earthquake hit -- the 8.8 terramoto in Chile -- Nicky and I were in Punta del Este, Uruguay on a work assignment. We actually slept through the earthquake. A few hours after it struck Chile, I stumbled into the tiny cafe area of our hotel and joined my colleagues (Serge from Sao Paolo and Rey from Costa Rica) for breakfast before we went to work. I was hung over to all hell and ate a croissant while the earthquake dominated the conversation. The next morning before breakfast, Rey knocked on my door to tell me to put on a local TV station. There were riots in Concepcion, well more food-inspired looting than actual riots. People were hungry so they broke into a grocery store and the shelves were plundered by thugs and starving people. When Nicky saw all that mayhem, it kinda freaked her out because there's always that looming fear of "The Big One" will strike L.A. and California will sink into the ocean. She thinks we can survive a bad quake, but that was the first time she saw the fall out -- chaos and anarchy. At that point Nicky finally acquiesced to my interest in owning a Mossberg.

Flash forward to now. Nicky flipped the channels and shrieked, "Oh my God, is that Geraldo Rivera?"

Um, was. He was one of the talking heads chiming in about the tsunami reaching Hawaii (I dunno if he was actually in Hawaii), but as I blurted out to Nicky, "If Geraldo is involved, then you know NOTHING is going to happen in Hawaii. Just like Al Capone's empty vault."

Well the one good thing about the tsunami is that it completely erased Charlie Sheen from the news cycle. By the way, as we're on the verge of entering into the Libya dispute for the third war (or military intervention) since the inception of American Idol, that's nothing compared to the Middle East tsunami that's going to hit shortly. With police in Saudi Arabia currently shooting protesters, and much larger and organized protests planned in the forth coming weeks. Saudi Arabia is home to Mecca and one of the largest oil fields in the world. But I'll save that rant for an upcoming post on Tao of Fear.

For now, I'm glued to AJ online and flipping back and forth between the different news stations. I'm on pace to be completely shitfaced when the waves reach California. Then I can call my mother to let her know that I'm alive and survived the tsunami, so she'll stop pestering me, and I can pass out because at that point, I would have been up for almost 28 hours.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Trannie Taco Shop Brawl

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

The camerawork is shaky. The fighting moves are primal, at best, but hey -- it's not MMA, it's trannies brawling at a taco shop.

The Metamorphosis of a Horrendous Karaoke Singer

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I live next door to someone who was arrested for domestic battery. I found out by accident when I stumbled upon something that I wasn't supposed to see. Our neighbors leave out mail addressed to former tenants on top of the mail boxes. We have a special rubbish bin where we discard junk mail (those loathsome "RESIDENT" pieces and newspaper-like coupons). Because we live in a building that had lots of previous tenants, it's inevitable that you get mail in your box for someone else. Some of my neighbors have poor etiquette and leave that mail on top of the mail box, which is a passive-aggressive move and they'd rather let the mailman deal with it. The other day I noticed 2 pieces of mail addressed to someone in the building next door. I presumed that it got delivered to the wrong apt #8. Whoever found the mis-delivered mail in their box was too lazy to walk it next door.

I took it upon myself to do the right thing because... 1) it's the neighborly thing to do, 2) my karma will improve with a random act of kindness, and 3) if something important of mine was delivered to the wrong address, I'd want that person to do the right thing and make sure it got to its rightful owner (me).

During the twenty-five second walk down the alley and over to the building next door, I glanced at the mail. The recipient had just moved because both were addressed somewhere in West L.A. according to the yellow sticker from the post office that indicated forwarded mail. I wondered if he was the guy who moved into the apartment formerly occupied by the couple with the two big dogs? One piece of his mail was a generic bank statement. The other was from the LA county court system. The letter from the court shifted in the envelope a bit and that's when I saw something in the "open window" that revealed my neighbor's run in with the law -- "Domestic Violence Victims Fund, Past Due: $236." Depending on the city/county, sometimes the scumbags who beat up their wives/girlfriends are also slapped with additional fines that directly fund special programs that give support to battered wives and counseling and for children of domestic abuse. Apparently, my neighbor must let his fists fly against his girlfriend/wife. Great. That's all we need, right?

The odds were high that the victim of his domestic violence incident was probably still with him. And if that's the case, then the odds were even higher that another incident was imminent. Although I never met the guy and should give him the benefit of the doubt, it's hard to ignore the percentages. Once a scum bag, always a scum bag.

Sure, my reasons for not liking my neighbor are also rooted in my own selfishness. I really don't need the cops sniffing around next door at random moments. For the most part, my block is relatively safe aside from all of those barking dogs and the annoying cat that lives upstairs. I'm very lucky in that regard that even though I'm living on the fringe of Beverly Hills, I don't have to worry about my block being a magnet for the criminal element. But with the recent addition of a wifebeater next door, I can't help but wonder how long it takes before I see a squad car outside and freak out at the flashing red and blue lights. It's simply not fair -- I'm paranoid enough as is -- the last thing I need is even more heightened paranoia.

Then again, I'm one who prefers to practice conflict avoidance, but with a wifebeater next door, a situation might occur when I have to make a difficult decision. What happens if I hear stuff breaking and a woman screaming or crying? At some point in the future, I might have an ethical dilemmas where I have to make the tough decision to get involved in someone else's business and call the cops myself because maybe he's beating the shit out of his girlfriend/wife and I might be saving her life because she's too afraid to call. I'm really not thrilled that I might be confronted with that possibility of having to step into a domestic dispute. I'm a live and let live kinda guy. I want my neighbors to respect me and leave me alone to do my own thing in the privacy of my own home, and in return they expect the same thing, but beating the crap out of a defenseless woman definitely crosses the line.

At the same time, just because a man and woman are screaming doesn't mean that he's necessarily hitting her (or vice versa). Would I be dropping a dime on my neighbor if he's innocent and just involved in a raucous squabble with his partner? I wouldn't want my neighbors to call the cops whenever Nicky and I got into a major fight, or heck even during those brief, rapid-fire shouting matches that bubbled up to the surface every once in a while (anyone who has been married or lived with someone for an extended period of time), which are actually invaluable because they release any tension that has built up. But yeah, I'd be pretty pissed if one of my neighbors dropped a dime on me to the cops when I wasn't doing anything wrong.

Alas, the neighbor next door already had me on semi-tilt in less than thirty seconds of discovering that he was a wifebeater.

After I dropped off the mail in front of his door, I rushed back to my apartment. The windows were open to our place and I could hear the actress next door (who used to live with one girl who made a deep run on American Idol last year) rehearsing a song a capella. A couple of songs actually. Her angelic voice wiped away any violent and malevolent thoughts of the wifebeater.

We live in a creative section of the Slums of Beverly Hills: one woman in my building is a painter, the girl above us plays the violin, the girl next door is an actress/singer, and Nicky and I are both writers. We just want to be left alone to escape into our own worlds and create something from nothing (even from that talentless out-of-tune wanna-be lounge singer across the alley practicing -- poorly I might add -- belting out show tunes with a karaoke machine). It's not as easy as you think and often requires a positive environment -- one that's void of cops and wifebeaters.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Q*Bert the New Addiction

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I do weird things when I can't sleep. For example, the other night I was putzing around with Nicky's iPad and stumbled upon an app for Q*Bert, one of my favorite video games when I was a little kid in the 1980s.

Anyway, here's a video of yours truly playing the updated version of Q*Bert for the iPad...

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Sitting on the Dock on My Couch, Vol. 2

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Over the weekend, I put the editing of JTSMD aside and delved into a world of books and films, but mostly documentary films. That's what I've been doing during the "quiet before the storm" otherwise known as March Madness.

A couple of weeks ago, I published the first installment of Sitting on the Dock of My Couch, which went into detail about some of the things I did when my girlfriend went away on a business trip -- and one of those was not sitting in my underwear all day, but rather I sat around on the couch, pulled tubes, and watched documentary films.

Of course, I watched a couple of regular films -- but both were more indie than mainstream. I re-watched and introduced Nicky to Highball, Noah Baumbach's first film that he wrote and directed, but used nom de plumes for both. Would love to know the reasoning behind that. Anyway -- it's a quirky film shot in Brooklyn at the same time I was living there in 1996. A young couple decides to throw a trio of parties with the intent to bring their friends together and have intellectual conversations about philosophy and politics. Hilarity (and banality) ensues.

And then there's The Runaways, based on Cherie Currie's autobiography. In the mid-1970s, she was the lead singer of an all-female group from L.A. called The Runaways. Also in the band? An angry, sexually-waffling Joan Jett, and Lita Ford. Kristen Stewart played Jett and Dakota Fanning played Cherie. Parts of the flick made me a little uncomfortable watching a 15-16 year old Dakota traipsing around in lingerie.

Anyway, here's what I watched on the documentary front...

Toronto G20 Exposed - Protesters and police clashed during the G20 Summit in Toronto last summer. The massive security apparatus (set in place to protect the world's economic leaders) supposed cost over $1 billion, yet the entire summit was marred by news reports of police beating/detaining protesters after blocking them in where they had no place to go. The film uses actual footage from news broadcasts and homemade videos taken by participants and then posted on YouTube. Watch it here via

The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg - A sports doc about the Hall of Fame slugger Hank Greenberg. Although he played for the Detroit Tigers, Greenberg grew up in the Bronx. He was one of the most famous Jewish athletes of all time and played in the 1930s and 40s at a time when antisemitism was rampant. Greenberg had a shot at breaking Babe Ruth's single season homer run record -- and the myth was debunked whether or not there was a conspiracy in the league to pitch around him so Ruth's record would stay in tact. Greenberg admitted that he failed to catch the Bambino because he ran out of gas. Sorry, no link because I streamed the doc on Netflix.

Mind Control: America's Secret War - Short doc about the CIA conducting mind control experiments during the Cold War on unwilling subjects using LSD. That's right... liquid sunshine! They originally conducted tests on federal prisoners in Kentucky and college students -- but both test groups knew they were taking a hallucinogenic drug. That's when the CIA decided they needed to test LSD on subjects who had no clue they got dosed. Watch it here via

Blind Spot - I had high hopes for this film about Peak Oil, but it fell short of the mark for me. That's not to say it wasn't a good film (by the director who shot a few Hootie & the Blowfish videos in the 1990s). It's just that I've seen so many docs about Peak Oil, that I felt this one was a bit redundant. Ah, I'm biased, of course, probably because I've seen too many docs on this haunting subject. Watch it here via Tao of Fear.

Don't Talk About the Weather - I can't talk about this doc about chemtrails because I'm afraid that the government will try to silence me. But look up at the sky on any random day and you gotta wonder --what the fuck are they spraying? Does anyone know? Watch it here via

Howard Zinn: You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train - It's a bio doc about Howard Zinn, the author of the controversial A People's History of the United States, which is a history book written from the perspective of the "losing side" of wars and conflicts. Sorry, no link because I streamed the doc on Netflix.

2210: The Collapse? - More dystopia. This one had an interesting slant -- from the view of archeologists in the 23rd century trying to figure out how our Great Society vanished, just like contemporary archeologists are trying to piece together what happened to the Mayans. In 2210, a group of archeologists sift through barren desert lands trying to piece together what led to the abandonment and destruction of American cities like Phoenix after the disaster struck due to Peak Oil, lack of water, and the energy crisis that crippled America in the late 21st century. Watch it here via
Have you seen any good docs recently? Let me know. I'm always looking for new flicks to watch during insomnia-riddled late nights.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Trashy Paranoia

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I read a book that could be misunderstood or mislabeled as dystopian literature, but The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse is not fiction.It's real. The author lived in Buenos Aires and he survived both the Argentina's financial collapse and the ensuing crime wave the enveloped his city. One of the things he wrote about that stuck in my mind were all of the hungry people who waited until nightfall and then scurried around the dark streets of Buenos Aires to dig through garbage left out on the sidewalk in hoes of finding scraps of food to eat.

How far away are we from that here?

More than a dozen (I've photographed and nicknamed no less than ten regulars/semi-regulars for my own security records) people a day come through the alley looking for bottles and cans in the blue recycling bins. And sadly, their numbers are increasing. The alley people often peek into the dumpster to see if any of the lazy hipsters tossed out valuable recyclables with their trash. Hippies recycled, hipsters with a conscience also recycled, but lazy hipsters who didn't give a fuck tossed out their cans of PBR with half-full cartons of take-out food from the local Thai joint.

On Sunday evening, I looked into my own dumpster and noticed a couple of obvious signs of dumpster dining. The alley people often cut open the bottom of garbage bags (like the one in my hand that I was about to toss out) in search of cans/bottles and sometimes food. The one I saw had the bottom spliced open -- a carton of Thai food was apparently consumed along with stripping the last remnants of a melon. That's when I thought about the hungry people living in the slums of Buenos Aires -- who went into neighborhoods with restaurants and big apartment buildings in search of leftovers.

I must have scanned my dumpster for less than eight seconds, but in that time I could have told you five things about whichever neighbor tossed out that specific bag of trash...
1. They are neat freaks that meet the daily recommended dose of Vitamin C. Evidence: they took the time to neatly crush and fold two cartons of orange juice.

2. They like spicy foods. Evidence: the leftover containers from a take-out Thai place down the street

3. They have a bank account or credit card with Wells Fargo. Evidence: they tossed out a statement and the obvious Wells Fargo logo was staring back at me.

4. They must have ordered something from J. Crew in the past. Evidence: they tossed out the spring/summer catalog.

5. They're careless about their mail and probably has lax security settings on their Facebook account. Evidence: they didn't rip off the address label on the mail order catalog, nor did they bother to shred important bank papers.
I could have dug deeper and looked at name on the catalog or on the banking statement, but I wasn't that interested. Just knowing how easy it was to spy on my neighbors was enough to spook me out for the day.

Paranoia struck deep.

Luckily, Nicky has a shredder next to her desk, which I should use more often -- just to be sure. I actually shred all of my own stuff by my own hands. Call me a luddite, but it's just a habit that I got into. Even while typing this I have visons of my mentor on Wall Street ripping up pieces of paper and tossing them into the grey industrial trash bin right next to our desks. Even though those massive bins were wheeled into a separate room and shredded by the office workers after hours, he didn't want to take any chances on something getting missed, so he ripped his stuff into as many small pieces as possible. His excess/waste papers went through two rounds of shredding. As a result of his thorough shredding process, I learned one of my earliest lessons on Wall Street -- making sure to erase a paper trail by not being a fucking moron.

Then again, maybe the government is spying on me? And their agents are under deep cover, who dressed up like plight-riddled alley people in order to get access to my garbage without it being too obvious.

I'm onto those fuckers.

Sunday, March 06, 2011


By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

One documentary film that I want my friends to watch is Collapse. Although it's not a horror film, it also happens to be one of the scariest films you'll see this year.

Here's the trailer...

Collapse consists of a series of interviews with Michael Ruppert, a former LA cop turned investigative journalist, who sits in a darkroom and chain smokes while delivering haunting mini-lectures about Peak Oil and the financial crisis (past, present and future).

I've seen almost 25 or so films about Peak Oil in the last 24 months and Collapse is probably the best of the best. Collapse also does an excellent job at explaining the complexity of the financial crisis and global meltdown of 2008. If you're not familiar with either topic, then Collapse is a perfect primer.

It's available on Netflix.

I guess this is sort of an obvious disclaimer, but I'll write it anyway... with any controversial subject, don't take any singular piece of information (or even a bundle of info) as an absolute truth. Keep digging and digging and digging until you get enough information to come to your own conclusions. Then dig some more and educate yourself further.

A couple of the side stories revealed by Michael Ruppert in Collapse led me down a few rabbit holes -- for the better -- because it's some of the information that I found in those holes that encouraged me to revise and re-formulate my current world view.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Disjointed - Dead Battery, Contaminated Magnolia Tree

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Dead battery
Contaminated Magnolia tree
Sloshed starlet slipped
Underneath the pollution-tweaked smug smoggy sunset
Short bus winds through the hills
Touristy tours to gawk at mansions and the
Ubiquitous Hollywood sign
Dragged down from the mountain top
Stained towels from No-tell motels
Passed out at the front desk
Empty bottle of gin rattling around the trash bin
World-famous for 15 minutes.
Yet world-infamous for decades.
Bloody gums triggered by the sadist
Controlling the grinding dentist's drill
The salty aftertaste
Amplitude of silence sounds
Misguided derivatives of conceptual art
Entwined pastiche of money grubbers, hanger-ons, and other parasitic wanna-bes
Acquisition of cash is secondary
The vitality of the moment is primal
Entwined fantasies driven by vanity
Circulated pamphlets by the self-righteous
Whom offer salvation for two hours a week
But you have to pay cash -- up front
While the enlightened Plutocrats lurk in the shadows
Wandering down corridors of marble
Remnants from the Gilded Age
Whimsical organisms
Inert government workers, slogging along at a luxurious snail's pace
Denying their fragile customers a broad range of plastic experiences
Sophistication behind the daily mass feedings of the slanted zombies
The off-the-rack suit-wearing middle managers bemoan
The decelerated production process
The cluttered pathways and
No new prospects irked the Oligarchs
Network of the wealthy is paved with gold, platinum, and other precious metals
The vacuous accumulation is secondary
Yet the insipid lives of leisure led by offspring of the Master of the Universe
Contribute emotionless and non-critical functions
Aside from money-driven pursuits of the lazy turds
The fleeting fixation of fame
Leads to sensory overload
Lack of peripheral vision,
Leads to more susceptible to occultism
The grotesquerie of the bourgeois hypocrites
And the undecipherable messages flaunting their fake lives on the internet,
Yet flailing miserably in every day real life situations
Spilled cups of coffee, delayed flights, crawling traffic
Old Jewsish lady that smells like cat urine who cuts you in line at the supermarket
While you're buying Clif bars and Sobe iced tea
You're invisible to her
Yet my unblinking curiosity wonders
"If I kick her in the side, would she feel it?"
The improbabilities of myself not getting incarcerated greatly rise
She consumes Old Grandad while dreaming of a freedomless state
Faulty autonomous fecundity
Incestuous convulsions leave automatic scrap marks
Junkies redefine the act of living
Splatter of blood, from a poorly fixed shot of pure heaven
Missed the spot
Kick start vicious cycle again
A broken record, a skipping CD
Caught in a time warp
The next fix matters
More than the last
More than world peace or 75 home runs in a single season
All worthy moments our society deems worthy of recognition
Mostly drug aided
Another dull celebrity dominated the marketplace
While the incendiary ones are kept the wheels greased in the promotional machine
Swiftly swaying, public sentiment
Dodging the ire of the cabal running Hollyweird
The cultural function of all participants in the City of Sunken Angels is to
Walk three blocks to find parking
Praying no tickets will pepper the windshield
Returning scanter swagger
And the tipsy walk down a not-so crowd streets
Wrinkled pigment
Prophesies ensemble distortion
Spoiled waywardness
Romping sensibilities
Congenial negativism
Irrelevant pristine purses
Mutant squids living in the darkness of a distant ocean crevice
Perennial dissertations
Gazing ineptitude
Neurotic traditions
Brilliant flashfloods
Sonic kinkiness
Celebratory seduction of Tom Jones
The dying tradition of masses in Latin
Downtown modern art, cackling at silk tears
Whispering falsettos, the horrible chord progressions
Mellow syllables, brash jive talk
Seventeen familiar stanzas repeated on a street corner
The jargon of a used-car salesman
Spinning the folklore
Blocking the vistas
Ambushing the minstrels
While arming the polemics
As the twitchy schizophrenic forgets where he left his medicine.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Tao of Hockey Fights: Junior League - Broll vs. Sefton

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Thanks to Tyler for pointing out this gem. I particularly love fights on frpm the Juniors (hockey's minor leagues). In this fight, the combatants were from the Sudbury Wolves and the Soo Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Truckin - March 2011, Vol. 10, Issue 3

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

The latest issue of Truckin' is here. Enjoy these five stories...

1. Matisse's Chorizo by Paul McGuire
Life is so much smoother if you're well-liked by the right people in this fucking town. Or I should clarify -- well-liked by the powerful watch guards of Hollyweird holding the clipboard...More

2. Traffic Jam at the Top of the World by Tim Lavalli
It was then that a cold hard freeze gripped my chest – all of these climbers ahead of me might well be ahead of me on the way back down when oxygen would be short and everyone would be even weaker then they are now. What would I do trapped at the top of the ladder with a dozen people in line in front of me and death staring me in the face? Politeness might just have to give way to survival...More

3. Hard Day's Knight by John Hartness
I hate waking up in an unfamiliar place. I’ve slept in pretty much the same bed for the past fifteen years, so when I wake up someplace new, it really throws me off. When that someplace is tied to a metal folding chair in the center of an abandoned warehouse that reeks of stale cigarette smoke, diesel fuel and axle grease - well, that really started my night off on a sparkling note...More

4. Egypt by Adam J. Weise
The flies here are at the top of their game. They are bred to be fearless and adventurous; they'll sit on your face taunting you. Attempts at swatting them have only ended with me slapping myself in the face. Even in Tanzania whenever I try to show off by catching a fly in my bare hands like my dad taught me I end up just grasping at air and getting laughed at by the boys. Now I know that flies are just a part of African life and the quicker one accepts it the better as they are everywhere. There are days when in order to ward off the flies in Dar es Salaam I'll eat with my right hand while waving my left hand over the food for the entire meal... More

5. Paralysis by lightning36
He knew that he had been an extremely lucky guy. How many men get to date television stars? Crystal was beautiful, well-known, and popular. But aside from the usual Hollywood trappings, she had a heart of gold. She exuded warmth and compassion, yet had enough of a bite to keep herself real... More
Thanks for your support.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

McNugs: Drinking Rum Again Diary, Scoring Adderall, Melo Trade, Avoiding Wall Street Stereotypes. and American Idol WTF?

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I'm a fan of link dumps (reading and creating) because you can share a bunch of diverse links in a simple post. I utilize link dumps on my other sites, specifically the Tao of Fear (Monday Morning Red Pill) and Tao of Poker (which I re-branded "The Nugs" like the "Monday Morning Nugs" or "Hump Day Nugs"). But I realized that I rarely do that here. Maybe we should change that, eh?

So, here are a bunch of random links that I shared with friends, or friends of mine passed along to me this week. Welcome to the first installment of McNugs...
Benjo sent me this piece about Bruce Robinson, a screenwriter and recovering alcoholic who went back on the sauce when penning the screenplay to Hunter Thompson's first novel. I started drinking again because of 'The Rum Diary'. (The Independent)

Faking ADHD to Score Adderall? Be careful because doctors are now onto you. So unless you're a Shakespearean actor or a professional poker player and can pull off a masterful bluff during a consultation, maybe you should improve your poker face when trying to score Addys. (io9)

Re: Carmelo Anthony's trade to the NY Knicks... one of my favorite sportswriters, Steve Rosenbloom, sounded off on the Melo trade (from the Chicago Bulls perspective). (Rosen Blog)

25 Guys to Avoid on Wall Street made me laugh. It's not just humor fall Wall Street. A couple of friends of mine in regular companies said that the list could apply to their office/industry. (CNBC)

Nicky wrote something about American Idol. Don't know what the hell she's talking about, but if you like AI, then check out... American Idol: Good, Bad and WTF? (Pot Committed)
That's all I got.