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.

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