Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Catman, Policeman and Pusherman

By Pauly
New York City

Mustafa gave me the pills.

One of the benefits of being shot four times, Mustafa explained, was a perpetual prescription to various pain medications and opiates. I can't recall if there's an actual bullet wedged behind his spleen, or if that was part of the urban legend which accompanied Mustafa wherever he went. He was shot for sure. That's no bullshit. If you ever spent time with him, he'd be more than happy to pull up his shirt and show you his different scars. He'd even give you the run down on the ballistics report.

It had been a couple of months since I last hung out with Mustafa. I always see him when I go to NYC. But this instance, when I ran into him last week, he had just gotten out of jail.

"They fast track those Occupy protesters," he said. "There's fucking hundreds of 'em. All processed first. When all the protesters are cleared out and it looks like I'm gonna get called, the fucking cops bring in a new batch. Another fucking hundred hippies. Occupy always gets called before me. They fast track 'em. Easy money for the city. Me? I fucking sat around for three days. Three. Fucking. Days. I didn't take a shit for three days. Not once. I held it for three days."

Mustafa gave me the pills as a gift the last time I was in the City. I left a few behind as an emergency stash, because I can never predict when my back will go out. At the same time, I hid a few at my mother's apartment -- cached in a stack of boxes of old books and Dead bootlegs. Sometimes my mother gets a little out of hand and in order for me to deal with her, I have to be faded to the tits. That's the best way I figured out how to cope with all uncomfortable family situations -- get schwasted and numb to everything around me so I'm able to insulate myself from all insults, critiques, and attempts to goad me into an unwinnable argument. Any kind of discussion with my mother gets twisted and mutilated into a quagmire of circular logic resulting in migraine headaches and the desire to throw myself in front of a bus.

Anyway, Mustafa got pinched for smoking a blunt in the middle of the street. He knew better than to blatantly flaunt behavior like that, but he was wasted and made a terrible mistake. Cops don't care what you do in your own home, but they don't want you to rub in in their faces. That's what happened to Mustafa. He was blazing up at the wrong time and wrong place. When he got pinched, he thought he was being set up or got taken down as part of some vast stake out.

"Are you DEA, FBI? Homeland Security?" he quizzed the cops the moment he was taken into custody. It turned out he was collared by a regular narcotics officer who was looking for someone else but Mustafa happened to walk by him at the wrong time. Let that be a lesson to you kids!

* * *

I didn't come face-to-face with the guy that my brother and I call the "serial killer" -- a weird guy who lives in my mother's building. My brother said he used to see the guy crying in the stairwell at different times. Anyway, I saw the serial killer down the hallway, but purposely slowed down so I didn't have to ride the elevator with him. I lingered when I passed his apartment and it smelled like cat piss. It made me wonder... was he an animal hoarder?

Sure, I've been watching too many hours of hoarding-themed reality TV, but there were a significant amount of old people living in my mom's apartment building. The percentages suggested that at least one of them is an extreme hoarder with a hundred boxes of stuff everywhere and that someone in the building is an animal hoarder, you know, the proverbial cat lady. All signs pointed toward the serial killer as the guy who also doubled as the weird, lazy cat dude who let his cat(s) piss everywhere and multiple towers of crusted cat feces are constructed throughout the apartment.

* * *

It's always mind-boggling to walk around the old neighborhood. Some things change, while others stay the same. The stores that stood the test of time are firm anchors in my fuzzy memory, but then there's new businesses in storefronts that seem strange and out of place to me because that particular space had always been the same thing since I could remember. For example, a local drug store was always in one big white brick building. It was the place to go in the neighborhood for most of the 1980s and early 1990s until the chain drug stores moved in on the racket and the local store was getting squeezed by the big dogs. The had to raise their prices while the chain drug stores undercut everything. I'm surprised the old store stayed in business, but somehow it survived but with a drastic change. The old store had to move a few storefronts down the street to a smaller property. Rents were getting high and they couldn't afford to stay in the same spot. So they consolidated and opted for a smaller store. At least -- it still lives. I wish I could say the same about the book store or the Greek diner.

Yeah, I was bummed out when I saw all the white paper blocking out the windows at the Greek diner. A small hand written sign indicated that the diner had been sold and the new owners would be opening up soon. They didn't indicate a specific date. The place was empty and I was without an opportunity to enjoy the best bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches on the planet.

Man, I expect the neighborhood to change, but I missed the Greek diner. I used to go in there half asleep, mumble my order, and listen to the old Jewish guys in the back booth argue about sports, specifically verbally castrating the quarterbacks -- Eli Manning and Mark Sanchez. For some reason Eli drew the most ire from the old guys.

Without the Greek diner and access to bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches, I was rudderless every morning.

* * *

I spent a full day wandering around the Met and meandering through Central Park while listening to music. A visit to a museum is something that I do every time I'm in town. If I have the chance, I'll hit up three or more, but even on short trip, I make an effort to pop into the Met to see a few old friends.

Thanks to Mustafa, I got faded on some of his powerful pills, and stumbled through a couple of special exhibits. The Stieglitz stuff was interesting -- a mixture of photographs and friends of his who were painters, but the subject matter was popular because it included Georgia O'Keefe paintings. The special exhibit gallery was crowded, so I rushed through that show. O'Keefe's subversive vag paintings reminded me of the Rhino in Vegas. Alas, I doubt that was her intention -- but when I see her paintings, I can't help but think of -- strippers.

Although parts of the museum were crowded, I found a few empty places where I could sit down and think. Sometimes I got lost in the art, but mostly, I got lost in my own thoughts -- trying to figure out the long term, dreading the near future of Christmas with the family, and letting random flashbacks of my previous lives in New York City enter my bloodstream. I used to fight the waves of memories, but now, I welcome them with open arms. Sometimes they are too immense and I have to sit down to absorb all of the energy that is jogging my memory. It's never easy to explain how/why we get blasted with memories from two or three decades ago.

I spent all afternoon in the museum juggling the variety of emotions that accompanied decades of flashbacks and got lost in the American Wing, which included all of these period rooms, mostly empty aside from a few curious tourists of the German and French persuasion. I hung out in different alcoves in secluded galleries in the Asian Art section after I got a rare batch of claustrophobia when I tried to check out the newly, refurbished Islamic Art galleries.

After an intense visit to the museum, I cooled off by walking through Central Park and listening to a Phish bootleg. Mustafa said to call him in a few days. I hoped he didn't get into trouble again.

Monday, December 26, 2011

New Kindle User? Buy Lost Vegas and Jack Tripper Stole My Dog

By Pauly
New York City

Merry Day-After Christmas everyone!

Were you a good boy/girl this year? We're you naughty, dirty, and got into tons of trouble? Did Santa Claus hook you up with a new Kindle Fire? If so, you're in luck because the e-book version of Lost Vegas is only a few clicks away.

Click here to buy Lost Vegas for Kindle and iPads.

Click here to buy Lost Vegas for the Nook

Click here to buy a print copy of Lost Vegas on Amazon.com.

* * * *

And if you're totally bored and looking for a trashy novel, then indulge yourself with an e-book Kindle version of Jack Tripper Stole My Dog.

I recorded a podcast with Nicky six or seven months ago. She asked me questions about the origins of Jack Tripper Stole My Dog. If you haven't heard it yet, well, here it is via SoundCloud...

JTSMD - Episode 1: The 10-Day Novel by taopauly

* * * *

And if you like opera music, then here's the trailer...

Thanks for all of your support, kindness, tolerance, patience, understanding, and gratitude. Oh, and thanks for the cashola. Every book you buy indirectly supports my drug habit, which in turn fuels my passion to write dark, crazy smut like e-book Kindle version of Jack Tripper Stole My Dog. Keep supporting the arts and I'll keep churning out cheese-slathered tripe.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Advice to Chip Bitch and Recent College Graduates

By Pauly
San Francisco, CA

It's a little strange what happened in the poker world the last few years, especially after the Poker Shrink retired, because I became the resident head shrinker at the WSOP. I was the on-site psychiatrist in the press box. It happened because I was one of the veterans in the industry with the most experience (and if I wasn't going through what they went through, I knew someone who was faced with a similar situation) and more importantly -- because I had access to a cornucopia of pills.

On a typical day at the WSOP in Vegas, I usually spent at least an hour talking to different friends and colleagues about a variety of topics. I mostly listened because most of the time, people don't want actually answers -- they just want someone to listen to them work things out in their head. More often than not, I dispatched words of encouragement telling them to focus on the light at the end of the tunnel. Unlike life, when you never knew it would end, the seven-week long WSOP had a finish point. So as long as I could get everyone focused on something positive, I felt as though I did my civic duty.

Part of me felt compelled to help friends and colleagues because deep down I wish I had someone to give me words of advice, especially when I was stuck in a rough spot. I had a few mentors along the way like John Caldwell and Flipchip, but never had a consistent go-to guy (or girl) that I could chat about my woes and fears.

Anyway, over the last few years, I found myself mentoring a couple of the younger writers/reporters that came through the biz. One of them, Chip Bitch, just graduated college. Our little side kick is all grown up now. He's come a long way from the days when he worked for peanuts (literally: zero dollars) and snorted crushed up candy for peanuts (literally: zero dollars). Chip Bitch posted something where he reflected on what it's like to be a college graduate and taking his first steps in the real world. He thanked a small group of my colleagues for keeping him on the right track over the last few years. Check out his post... Thanks.

I wanted to give him some words of encouragement in a comment, but realized I was getting a little too verbose, so I decided to post my thoughts here. Anyway, in honor of Chip Bitch, here's a list of 10 Things I Wish I Was Told When I Graduated College....
1. There is no permanent record...unless you count the Echelon project that has downloaded every single email, DM, text message, and whatever update you posted on Facebook.

2. No matter how much you've drank and no matter what you've ingested, smoked, or snorted... you CANNOT fly.

3. Contrary to what she said, she actually faked 98% of the orgasms.

4. You're professors drank as much, if not more, than you. Many of them we're popping pills... just before class.

5. Dick Cheney shot JFK. Courtney killed Kurt. The "Moon" landings were real.

6. Always wipe and stay off the (crack) pipe.

7. Avoid the shrimp and seafood in any buffet that cost less than minimum wage.

8. Read every day. Just because you're done with school doesn't mean you have to end your education. Your mind is a terrible thing to waste on The Jersey Shore.

9. As Polonious said in Hamlet, "Neither a borrower nor a lender be." Don't loan friends money. More importantly, credit cards are evil. If you can't afford it, then don't buy it. If you really want it, I suggest that you steal it. Whatever you do, don't charge it. Banks/credit card companies are more ruthless than the mafia. Don't become a debt slave.

10. People generally suck and will always let you down. Don't sweat the small stuff. Don't worry... just be yourself.
I hope some of this helps. But no matter what you do, never forget rule #2. Oh, and the ubiquitous Golden Rule of Las Vegas.... don't get rolled by a hooker.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Four Haikus: Lost Vegas

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

Photo by Flipchip

Four Haikus - Lost Vegas

Stale cigarette smoke
Boulevard of broken dreams
Cowboys shooting dice

Wafting puke odor
Bright lights of white trash city
Cheap liquor cheap thrills

Porn slappers on post
Hustling cocaine-eyed strippers
Hooker or a ho?

Cougars and hipsters
Desperate degradation
Vast cesspool of filth

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Divisidero Dog Fight

By Pauly
San Francisco, CA

Several friends asked me when I was going to write lengthy diatribes about living in San Francisco. I appreciate the interest but I'm in "L-I-V-I-N" mode right now when I soak up as much experience as possible before I sit down, patch my bones, and write about the previous few months.

Soon come. The SF stories will be coming soon. But for now, here's a random tidbit that I acquired wile wandering around the dirty streets of San Francisco...

* * *

I was almost attacked by a cougar carrying a wicker reindeer. I had been holed up writing all morning and afternoon and needed a break. I went outside to grab a cup of hot chocolate from the corner cafe. On my way, I nearly collided with a peeved scion that almost gorged me with a wicker reindeer.

What the hell is wicker anyway? All I know is that you can't smoke it. I gleaned this intel NOT by personal experience, rather from someone I know who once attempted to smoke wicker. Or maybe it was marijuana soaked in PCP? I forget. Either way, wicker will not get you stoned.

Cougars, on the other hand, are detrimental to your health in Lo Pac, which is my nick name to Lower Pacific Heights. It's San Francisco's equivalent to Beverly Hills Adjacent or the Slums of Beverly Hills.

The coug bolted out of one of the many antique stores situated around the corner from my apartment. She was carry a big, white wicker reindeer with a nifty red bow tied around its neck. She screamed into her mobile phone and was too self-involved to see me as she stormed out of the store.

Sometimes, I'm just an invisible peasant.

Cougars abound in my hood. In New York terminology, it's sort of like the Upper West Side meets Park Slope. Plenty of nannies pushing double strollers. Lots of tiny purse dogs shitting all over the streets with owners too lazy to clean it up. The filthy sidewalks are congested with 20-somethings in tight black yoga pants with pastel-colored yoga mats rolled up under their arm. Street parking is non-existent in the LoPac and Nicky is constantly fighting Lexus SUVs and Minicoopers for the last available spot.

I walk everywhere, but had a few close calls -- I was almost hit by a vehicle at least four times. Near misses. One scared the bejesus outta me. I lived in LA for four years and only had once close call in the parking lot at The Grove. But three months into San Francisco, and I've almost got nailed by four different SUVs driven my myopic morons on their phones.

That's nothing compared to the mauling I escaped on Divisidero when two yapping dogs wanted to go at each other. The female owners of the hellions were distracted multi-taskers -- a pair of hipsters: one a member of the brown boot mafia in skinny black jeans and the other was your typical neo-eco-crunchy trophy wife in the ubiquitous tight black yoga pants. Their purse dogs looked like over-sized rats. What have such tiny animals? Why not get a cat?

The women stood on the same corner, backs turned and about five feet apart from each other. The both talked on their iPhones while their respective dogs anxiously clocked each other. The tension thickened as I approached. I wanted to avoid the potential clusterfuck as the dogs snarled and growled at each other. A dogfight was nigh. Blood would be shed on Divisidero. Iconsidered whipping out my CrackBerry to record the fight -- but then I'd get hate mail from PETA for supporting cruelty to animals.

Instead, I foolishly tried to walk in between the distracted women at the same moment their dogs lunged at each other. The brown-booted hipster yanked on her leash and her dog yelped. The woman in yoga pants dropped her cell phone to grab her dog when it attacked the cuff of my jeans. That little fucker almost chewed up my Achilles.

Small dogs in Lo Pac. What's the fucking point?

Our downstairs neighbor has a big-ass dog. BIG. DOG. How big? It bangs up against the front door whenever someone is outside. The big dog scares the shit out of the mailman. Some of them are afraid to deliver mail. I'm convinced my packages are always late because of the monstrous, fear-instilling dog.