Friday, March 29, 2013

Stress of Cool

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

"If you dig it... it's cool."

Luis Guzman said that line from Boogie Nights. He was talking about a porn actor's impeccably bad taste in designer clothes. Sometimes, I like to make quotes like that apply to life. Not Boogie Nights lines, mind, you just that I love hearing quirky pearls of wisdom said in Luis Guzman's accent.

"If you dig it... it's cool."

According to Luis Guzman, no matter what you like, it is automatically cool because you like it. The flip side is that whatever you don't like becomes uncool by default. That's cool with me but it's not cool with other people. Unfortunately, the biggest pains in the ass want to feel super extra special, which means everyone must agree to what they determine is cool or not. When I meet those types of people, I usually feel sorry for them because they're drowning in self-hate and insecurity.

Those ingredients for low self-esteem crop up when you lack confidence about something you're doing and you get dizzy by obsessing with what other people think it is cool or uncool, when almost all the time those people: 1) don't think about it, and 2) if they did, they don't give a shit.

Yet you obsess over what the arbiters of cool think and stress out how they are silently judging you when they're not, so you're just being a paranoid martyr instead of shrugging it off and living life. The next time you get freaked out about something, just think about Luis Guzman saying: "Who gives a fuck... if you dig it, you dig it. It's cool, man."

Friction rises up when two people have opposing views of coolness. Like when you were a kid and your parents would do something incredibly uncool but they think they're being "hip" when in fact they look moronic? Yeah, the coolness factor helps drive a wedge in between the generational gaps. Parents feel insecure that they are not meshing with their kids and try to be cool, when they often fail miserably and lose tons of credibility with their kids. Best example is soccer moms trying to dress up like slutty high schoolers (e.g. Amy Poehler character in Mean Girls).

You should never worry about what other people think, but if your friends act like assholes, then you're in a tough situation. Like your friends who boss around waiters and waitresses like they are their own personal slaves. It's such a turnoff when you see your close friends treat service people like shit. That's such a serious thing that I once broke up with a woman because she was a total bitch to the waitress.

Sometimes you butt heads with friends over what they think is cool. Everyone has that one your buddy who think he's hot shit because he thinks it's the coolest thing in the world to hit on every chick in a bar, yet he's the only one who realizes how incredibly uncool it is and you get super uncomfortable because everyone else thinks you're cool by default because you showed up with the dickhead? It's like being Jon Favreau who cringes every time Vince Vaughn opens up his mouth in every scene from Swingers.

Back to the coolness thing and why I really don't give a shit about the little things (which has helped me focus on the more important things). I learned to live without hangups on "cool" really early on, so I didn't make too many mistakes looking like a moron in the search of cool. Sure, like every other clueless and angst-ridden teenager, I engaged in some foolish pursuits in high school or college (mostly more musical mistakes than fashion gaffes), but that had less to do with trying to establish an image of coolness than trying to get laid1.

Luckily a couple of handfuls of magic mushrooms helped shed some insight into the uniqueness of individual souls but the collective consciousness of life. After some of those experiences, it was easier for me to embrace the philosophy of 1) not worrying about what other people think, and 2) pursuing the things that give me a greater sense of happiness and accomplishment.

"If you dig it, it's cool."

* * 
1. I once went to an Ani DiFranco concert because I thought that would be a shortcut to bedding a girl I really liked, but of course, she liked other girls. That could be an entire blog post, or an entire novel in itself. Or then again, Kevin Smith did a better job telling a similar story so go watch Chasing Amy instead.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Such a Lovely Place

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I know a documentary is good when I sit through the entire film about a subject I don't care about. In this case, it's was a rockumentary about a band I didn't really like much, but I genuinely like all music documentaries so I went into this one thinking I might have to turn it off because I'm not into the Eagles. But man... I got sucked into the Eagles doc, which was three hours long!

The History of the Eagles is really two different documentaries; first part covers the rise of the Eagles since their formation in the early 70s (as a back-up band for Linda Rondstat) and up until they broke up in 1980, while the second part covers the Eagles reunion in 1994 for their "Hell Freezes Over" tour and subsequent tours. I thoroughly enjoyed the first segment (rise + fall) more the second (redemption and second chances), but I was particularly surprised how much I dug The History of the Eagles, so much so that I found myself re-watching random segments of the first part.

The music is familiar. The Eagles were inescapable on classic rock radio stations. At this point, everyone (even non-music fans) probably knows a handful of Eagles "greatest hits" through sheer osmosis via TV commercials, movie soundtracks, stuck in traffic listening to the radio, getting bombed in a dive bar, or maybe even humming along to elevator muzak. Even if you don't like the Eagles, you've still heard Hotel California more times that you realize. I'd say that any given human has heard parts of the Eagles' anthem at least a thousand times in their lifetime -- spread out in bars, car radios, pop-culture vehicles (especially commercials) -- without them even actively choosing to listen to it. Hotel California is just one of those songs that's everywhere. Ubiquitous. Omnipresent. Plus if you're a fan of The Big Lebowski, you've heard a sick Spanish cover by the Gypsy Kings. That's the only version of Hotel California that is on my iPod, which will pop up randomly and when it does, I often conjure up images of Jesus Quintana in bowling alley scenes.

The documentary spent a segment discussing the recording of the song Hotel California and the ensuing discussion on multiple interpretations (both real and imagined) could have been its own documentary. Hotel California is the prototypical song about luxury, decadence and depravity in the music biz. Henley and Frey wrote a tale about the downside to selling your soul to the devil for a taste of the "lifestyles of the rich and famous." The song heeds a stark warning because everything comes at a price, especially success, and the relentless pursuit of the American Dream can quickly take a turn for the worse and become the American Nightmare.

Although I listened to endless classic rock on WNEW in NYC, I wasn't an Eagles fan. Instead, I got to experience the post-break-up Eagles and the not-so enthralling solo careers by Glenn Frey and Don Henley. Frey cranked out cheesy 80s synth-heavy rock songs that you'd hear on the soundtrack from Beverly Hills Cop movies. Meanwhile, Don Henley took a softer approach with an adult contemporary rock route and teamed up with Bruce Hornsby to crank out a few notable hits that sold records and appeased critics. Meanwhile, throughout the 80s, good old Joe Walsh hit the skids and continued his indulgent lifestyle. He crawled into a bowl of cocaine and a swimming pool of booze for the entire decade. If he didn't enter rehab in the 90s, Joe Walsh wouldn't be alive today.

In college, I got into Joe Walsh's work with the James Gang (pre-Eagles) and thought he was the best part of the Eagles and that Frey was a fucking toolbag. It wasn't until I saw this documentary that I realized that some of the stuff I loved the most was not by Walsh, but rather it was Don Felder (who in the mid-70s was a dead-ringer for Sweet Sweet Pablo) who should get the accolades. Felder is forever known as "one of the other Eagles" that no one ever knew by his name. Heck, I didn't learn it until I saw the film. Felder displayed some serious chops, but he didn't have a strong enough voice or song writing pedigree to compete with Frey or Henley. Felder's eroding relationship with Frey was one of several reasons the band broke up (cocaine and creative differences were others). Although Felder was a part of the reunion tour in 1994 and the second incarnation of the Eagles to end the decade, Frey/Henley eventually cut him out of the picture in 2001.

I saw Almost Famous a few thousand times and Cameron Crowe admitted that the Russell Hammond character was an amalgam of several rock-n-rollers, especially Glenn Frey, but the resemblance of early 70s Glenn Frey to Billy Crudup's Russell character was too uncanny. Almost freaked me out a few times. Crowe also said that Frey was the guy who begged him to just "make us look cool" when he was writing an article about the Eagles for Rolling Stone.

My favorite parts of these retrospective rockumentaries are the random stories that aren't really a part of the bigger picture and seems like filler, but it's those little vignettes that paint the absurd life on the road, or what its like being in a traveling carnival. The doc is peppered with tons of those little entertaining stories (like Frey being Jackson Browne's upstairs neighbor, or Joe Walsh going to a fancy restaurant with John Belushi after they spray-painted their jeans by coloring them black) but it almost could have been a doc about any other band from that era, ya know?

The Eagles internal drama was one of the main story components to this film, while the overall tone of the rockumentary followed the basic story arc of young men heading out west to fulfill the American Dream in the glitzy and cutthroat shadows of Hollywood. Henley and Frey were at the right place and at the right time and had enough talent and ambition to get a shot at a record deal with David Geffen. Yeah, the Eagles story is not like any other story about young musicians trying to hit it big, but then the shit hits the fan as soon as they hit it big and it's a fight and struggle to stay on top, yet they tragically can't handle burning the candle at both ends and ultimately crash and burn... creatively, financially, domestically, and spiritually. Piles and piles of cocaine and jealousy only complicated matters. Pretty much every big band from the 60s and 70s had a similar arc, which is why Almost Famous was such a great fucking film because it gave you a glimpse into what really goes on behind the scenes and explains the mercurial dynamics between band members and their fickle relationships with their own managers/agents and ruthless record company execs and the snooty media elite, not to mention how their interact with their rabid fans and handle the pressures of performing whirlwind tours while maintaining obvious drugs habits and addictions to booze and/or sex.

Check out History of the Eagles on Showtime. Like I said earlier, I loved the first part the best, but after getting sucked in, it makes you really want to watch the second part and see how everything turned out and see who got sober (Joe Walsh), or who was still an asshole (Glenn Frey).

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Quickie Reviews of 8 Random Albums

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

It's never been a better time for music... if you know what you're looking for.  I miss rummaging through music stores, especially those dingy second-hand stores, seeking out hidden gems.

Remember how you used to buy an album? You heard a song. It froze you in your tracks. Maybe it was a hook or a riff or a catchy lyric. You found out the name of the band and then headed to your local record store. You wandered through the aisles alphabetically until you found the artist. Then you bought the album based on one song, rushed home, tore it open, and then listened to that initial song two or three times before you explored the rest of the album.

Man, I used to get so pissed when the rest of the album sucked, which happened more times than I'd like to admit. I can't tell you how many albums I bought over the last two decades that fell into that category. It's rare that you buy something for one song and fall in love with the entire album. If an album had at least three songs on it I liked, then it offered some value. Otherwise, it felt like a total bust.

The way iTunes is set up, you can just buy the one song you want and not have to spend $$$ on the rest. I must have saved a few grand by not buying full albums. At the same time, YouTube gives you a chance to listen to new music before deciding to buy on iTunes or elsewhere.

One of my new favorite things to do these days is search for random music on YouTube. This is an activity that I engage in very late at night after catching a really strong buzz, or while stricken with insomnia. It's been an awesome place to find old jazz records, but I also stumbled across old school videos back at a time when MTV actually played videos. MTV was birthed right around when I was a teenager so I was born at the perfect time to appreciate music videos -- especially the initial wave that flooded the shores of MTV in the late 1980s. To come across those videos is like getting an instant flashback to my youth.

In 2013, I'm at a point in my life when I don't care what other people think of my choices -- especially musical choices. Simply put, I dig what I listen to. If I don't dig it, I'm not going to waste my time.

I'll give anything a listen to at least once. If it's a band I really like, or something I should normally like then I'll give it a second listen. In a few rare instances, I'll give something I don't like third listen, but that is in a rare case if a friend really insists that I give it another try.

I'm in a weird phase in which I'm devouring tons of old jazz records but juggling that with a slew of newer material. Here's some of the newer stuff I listened to, mostly at the recommendation of friends...
"Atoms for Peace" by Thom Yorke - A couple of years ago, Nicky and I caught Thom Yorke play a solo show in L.A. His band included Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers. Yorke was playing music he wanted to play outside of Radiohead, so it was interesting to see what was the soundtrack tinkering around his head. I have a theory that Thom Yorke is an alien who is unable to return to his home planet, so he's perpetually sad and tries to amuse himself through music. Man, I can write an entire book about that Thom Yorke/alien theory. I just might someday. Anyway, Yorke moved to LA for several months to record this album. So it has somewhat of a SoCal influence mixed with his British sensibility to produce a soundtrack for the cosmos.

"People, Hell and Angels" by Jimi Hendrix - I haven't been excited about a new Jimi Hendrix album since the release of his Blues album. I didn't even know about this one until someone tipped me off and I got my hands on a copy before its release date. This new album "People, Hell and Angels" is what I call a money grab by the estate of Jimi Hendrix. This is the first album of new material to be released posthumously. Someone dug through the Jimi vault and uncovered un-released material that was leftover from previous sessions. I guess you can say this is the stuff that was left on the cutting room floor, which means it's okay and somewhat edible. 

"Boys & Girls" by Alabama Shakes - Last year when my friends were listening tot he Alabama Shakes, I dismissed it and blew it off as a knock-off of The Black Keys but with a female singer. Man, I was so wrong. I recently delved into the full album of Boy& Girls and it blew me away. It's not the most peppy music and it's a nice soundtrack for jilted lovers or someone covered with a thin layer of melancholy. It's raw. Powerful. Soulful. From the gut. It's the kind of southern-fried blues music that forces you to experience the same emotions Brittnay Howard conjures up with her raspy, yet gospel-sing-like voice. The Shakes are one of my new favorite bands. I cannot stop listening to this album.

"The Terror" by the Flaming Lips - I dig the Lips, but this is a disturbing and utterly bleak video. There's not enough drugs in the world to get me in the right frame of mind to appreciate this concept album about a world without love. I deleted this album before even giving it a second listen.

"Free Magic" by Medeski Martin & Wood - I don't really listen to MMW live albums much mainly because they are one of those bands that get cooking when you see them live. I was let down by their Radiolarians project (three discs) and those tunes didn't feel right when I saw them play it during live shows. Luckily, Free Magic is the return to the groove-oriented bagaboo jazz that I dig.

"The Next Day" by David Bowie - I'm currently in the middle of a project in which I'm listening to all of David Bowie's albums in chronological order. I started doing this after I read a Grantland article about Chuck Klosterman writing a potential obituary for Bowie when there were rumors he was on his deathbed last year. Anyway, I had a brief Bowie phase last year when I lived in San Francisco and I had cherry picked a bunch of his greatest hits and started listening to that a lot before I lost interest. Anyway, I had finished The Young Americans and started the Berlin trilogy (produced by Brian Eno) when I got a copy of Bowie's new album The Next Day. My initial reaction... it was all over the place. It was like Bowie couldn't figure out a specific direction so he went for a shotgun approach (from post-grunge to Velvet Underground to U2 during the Zooropa years). I preferred the opening track that sounded more like The Talking Heads than the Tom Waits'-like songs or the couple of songs that sound like The Dandy Warhols trying to imitate David Bowie.

"An Awesome Wave" by Alt-J - The Joker raved about this album last year by a British indie band that had become the "hipster band du jour" in the last quarter of 2012. I gave it a listen last year and then forgot about it. I re-listened to it recently and still have mixed emotions. It's not as bad as I originally thought, but not as good as I had hoped.

"We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic" by Foxygen - Broseph tipped me off to this L.A. band that has a unique chameleon-like sound in that they can mimic the tone of different genres from the 60s and 70s. One song they'll sound like Velvet Underground, yet in the next song they'll channel the Rolling Stones from the early 60s. In another song, they'll bask in the warmth of psychedelic rock and then another get a little gritty with heavy surf guitar licks. The lyrics make me laugh out loud. Not that their funny, but inside jokes about Los Angeles or San Francisco or Brooklyn. Hipsters poking fun at hipsters. Reminds me of Beck on Xannax. When I listen to Foxygen, I get flashbacks of sitting on a crowded Muni bus in San Francisco and have visions of sad hipsters staring at their iPhones while the Muni crawls up steep hills.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Think Pieces, No Hats on the Bed, and Utah Get Me Two

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Three films. Whenever I come across any of those three films on TV, I'm compelled to drop everything I'm doing and I will watch the rest of that movie. No matter what. I did it last night with Almost Famous. I was flipping the channels trying to find a basketball game and I came across the scene when Penny Lane is dancing by herself hours after a concert ended and she was dancing around barefoot in the empty venue with trash on the floor. I adore every scene with Lester Bangs (played magnificently by Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Ben Fong-Torres (from Rolling Stone), so I'm compelled to watch Almost Famous whenever it's on.

So about those three films I'm compelled to watch whenever it's on?

Almost Famous, Drugstore Cowboy, and Point Break.

Yes, Point Break.

I know what you're thinking... "I get your obsession with Almost Famous and the appeal of junkies in Drugstore Cowboy, but Point Fucking Break? Keanu Fucking Reeves? Have you been snorting bath salts all morning?"

Yes, Keanu Fucking Reeves. No, to snorting the baths salts. I prefer to shoot those up in the veins in between my toes.

In college, our fraternity house was not wired for cable TV, so we watched a ton of movies via VCR. A few of us had taped copies of Point Break, which we watched three or four times a day. There was one room that had Point Break on a loop. Nonstop. I watched Point Break thousands and thousands of times that I knew the entire dialogue frontwards and backwards. My friends knew every scene too. Over the period of one summer, we smoked a pound of weed and had become Point Break scholars. We started playing a game when we tried to stump each other with the most obscure quotes from Point Break. We knew the movie so well, we could have acted it out. Too bad YouTube didn't exist back then, because we would've made our own version of it with props and everything.

My affinity for Point Break is more nostalgia than anything else. I get flashbacks of happier times. Simpler times. Pre-social media. Pre-internet. I was still a couple years away from getting my first CompuServe email address. You're only 19 years-old once in your life and Point Break is an insta-wormhole back to those mellow and groovy times when I'd be sitting on a dilapidated couch and ripping bong hits with friends while mocking Keanu Reeves.

"I caught my first tube... sir."

Drugstore Cowboy is not on very often. Heck, Point Break or Almost Famous is on at least once a day... somewhere. Whereas Drugstore Cowboy pops up once in a blew moon, usually at 3am on IFC or Sundance. I read the originally book and very rarely do you come across a great film adaptation of a book, but this is one of those rare cases.

In Drugstore Cowboy, Matt Dillon played a real life thief who knocked over drugstores in the Pacific Northwest in the late 60s and early 70s. The thief eventually got busted and spent long stints in jail. He had all the time in the world to write and cranked out the manuscript to Drugstore Cowboy. It got published. Matt Dillon got a hold of the book and it got made into a film. It's really one of Dillon's best roles, up there with his performance as a greaser thug in The Outsiders.

I didn't read the book until I moved to Seattle and one of my housemates told me I needed to read the book that inspired the movie. The movie does a pretty damn fine job (credit goes to director Gus Van Sant) which is why I can easily watch the film without being annoyed at the blatant differences. Like I said, this flick is rarely on cable, so when I come across it, I will gladly immerse myself into the rest of the film. On the rare occurrences, I find it an absolute treat if I can catch Drugstore Cowboy at the beginning.

William S. Burroughs makes a few cameos as Father Tom, or the junkie priest who supposedly shot up a million dollars worth of heroin into his arm. Those scenes with Burroughs are haunting, yet steal the film.

"Narcotics have been systematically scapegoated and demonized."

I also learned about a weird superstition from Drugstore Cowboys involving hats on a bed. Supposedly it's bad luck if you put a hat on a bed. It's not something I always try to avoid, but if I see one, I will often accidentally knock it onto the floor.

Old habits never die.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Girls: Together Finally

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Here are my thoughts on this week's episode and season finale of Girls: "Together"...

* * * *
Yo Adam,

You're fucked.

The Hannah Virus is corroding your insides like battery acid. You've been infected with a fatal dose which is slowly turning you into a demented serial killer.

You're lucky the NYPD transit cops did not taser your goofy ass on the platform of the G train for running shirtless through the NYC subway system. That's the kind of shit that will get you locked up at Gitmo with the other Jihadists. If the cops knew you were rushing off to sweep Hannah off her feet and solve all of her woes, then they would have done you and everyone else in the five boroughs favor by incarcerating your psychotic ass. The Hannah Virus manifested into severe mental imbalance issues, which makes you thrive on perverted sex and fits of rage.

Anyone who runs shirtless after an emotionally immature Hannah is fucked in the head. Did your mom drop you a lot as a kid? Did she smoke crack when she was pregnant with you? Did you eat lead paint chips as a child? Have you been snorting bath salts? That's the only way I can explain why you've been acting so fucking weird and deranged. Bath salts are evil, bro. Stop inhaling those designer drugs and stop hanging out with Hannah. The combo of bath salts and Hannah is like shooting off Roman candles in front of a dynamite factory with pound of C4 strapped to your nutsack.

You're fucked. In six months the NYPD will be photographing your apartment as part of their investigation into a string of serial killings in which the suspect tortured their victims by shoving Q-tips into their ears before bludgeoning them to death with a Tiffany's lamp and then dumping the carcasses into the Gowanus Canal.

You need a priest to help perform an exorcism that will finally help rid you of that demonic possession known as Hannah. Then you need a Native American shaman to assist you with retrieving soul through a spiritual cleansing, and then you can an added layer of psychic protection from the warriors of the ghost world.

You're fucked,

* * * *
Oh Marnie,

Ignorance is bliss. Or something like that. All you ever wanted was money. Greenback. Cheddar. Moolah. Loot. Cashola. Holla for a dolla.

You didn't think Charlie was good enough initially, so you let go of him re-flushing him like a floater than won't go down the drain. You thought you found a new boyfriend who was going to be a rich and famous artist, but instead you got a deplorable Damien Hirst clone who ravished you with the spare parts of baby dolls.

But that's all in the past and you re-snagged Charlie. Back to normal, right? Instead of taking things slow, you got intoxicated on your own freshly fucked glow and forced yourself onto Charlie while making a childish scene at Roberta's in front of other hungover hipsters feeling uncomfortable while sipping bottomless mimosas during brunch.

What the hell is wrong with you? Why are you compelled to ruin all the nice, chill moments by forcing labels and boundaries on everything? Keep smothering Charlie and you'll suffocate him and you're relationship.

Even after you ruined brunch, that pussy Charlie has no balls whatsoever and still gave in and took you back. Never fear! Your redonkulously rich boyfriend Charlie will buy you happiness and the perfectly manicured lifestyle that you always wanted so you can post thinly-veiled brags about your awesomeness to your faux-Facebook friends, plus anything remotely involving normalcy will make Hannah insanely jealous and trigger another bout of OCD and a trip to the ER.

I can't figure out... who is a worst gold digger... you or Shoshanna? At least Sho is up front about it. You try to disguise it as "true love" when the only true love you have is your burning desire for the almighty dollar.

Your mini-existential crisis has been averted, but one day you'll wake up in a large and wonderful house surrounded by expensive, yet quaint things like Ralph Lauren curtains and a plush couch from Restoration Hardware and an entire kitchen furnished by Williams and Sonoma, and yet you'll feel hopelessly vacant and empty because you'll realize that you accomplished absolutely nothing in life, except sponge off the hard work, innovation, and creativity of others (mainly Charlie). Yeah, you can't hide from the sober truth that you'll always be totally worthless. That hollow feeling gnawing away at your insides? It will never go away. You can try to dull it with Bellinis or happy pills or online shopping, but that insipid emptiness will haunt you for eternity.

Someday you'll drown in your own shallowness. Better start learning how to swim.

See ya,

* * * *
Yo Ray,

You miserable fucking tool.

You blew your chance with trying to bed a vulnerable Marnie, but that will never happen because she re-hooked dumbfuck Charlie. Now, you're precious little buttercup Shoshanna finally woke up, wised up and tossed your loser, grumpy, hater ass to the curb where you belong with yesterday's trash and two-week old Chinese food cartons.

While your stuck moping around and sneering at hipster doofuses paying $9 for coffee, Sho is finding herself in a spiritual "renaissance" that entails a lot of pillow biting while she's getting plowed by Scandi pretty boys and every other doorman north of 34th street.

Go back to grad school and go deeper into debt for a meaningless piece of paper. Hide amongst a bunch of other snooty, self-gratifying intellectuals afraid to live life in the real world. It's much better than managing a coffee joint for Colin Fucking Quinn.


P.S. Suck it up and ask Charlie for a job as organic lemon squeezer.

* * * *
Dearest Sho,

You little trollop!

Time to hop up on Santa's lap and tell him who's been naughty and who's been nice. We know you've had impure thoughts about Scandi boys with perfectly messy blonde hair and ethnic-looking doormen. Tell Santa... how many times did you play hide the salami with strangers this week?

What's up with the eurotrash you picked up at that club? I know you want a sugar daddy, but all the Scandis I know are poker players who have a couple of million in the bank now, but they'll go busto in a few months. Those Scandis are "all or none" personalities. One week and showering you with croissant-like purses and taking you to dine out at lavish, uber-hip sushi joints, then the next they fled the country after they donked off their entire bankroll playing online poker against Isildur.

You dumped Ray because he doesn't like puppies, rainbows, ribbons and pretty much everything except Andy Kaufman, Colin Quinn, and Latin studies. You don't like black souls? Or you don't like broke guys with black souls? Let's be honest... net worth, credit scores, and web traffic trumps black souls.

I can't tell who is a worse gold digger... you or Marnie?

Also, it's borderline psychotic that you let Ray have spoon sex with you while you wear a hoodie and think how he's a sad monkey humping you while Taylor Swift plays the soundtrack in your head.

You need a good spanking. I know someone who will do it... for a cheap price too.

Yours in the bun,

P.S. Still waiting on that handjob.

* * * *
Heya Charlie,

You're screwed.

You re-hooked yourself a gold digger. What makes it even worse, is that she's a Grade A clinger. She'll never leave you... ever. Even if you try to ditch her. Shell stalk you to the farthest ends of the universe.

I feel bad for you. Kiss your cash goodbye. Marnie is going to pull a classic Kardashian move and bleed you dry by running up a ginormous tab decorating your apartment with overpriced, gaudy decorative arts and pursue a singing career that will go nowhere. You know this was just part of an evil master plan devised by Ray who purposely tricked Marnie into wanting to follow her dreams as a singer, knowing that you two would get back together and eventually go bankrupt trying to help Marnie make it big.

You're fucked. Marnie has her gold-digging hooks in you and you're thisclose to getting your balls snipped off forever! You could have banged Sho at your party. You should have tapped Sho's ass at your party. Sho gets off on MAUs. I heard Sho goes bonkers in bed when you yank her hair bun during doggie-style. Posting gifs of banging Sho (on the desk in your office) on your Tumblr page would have infuriated Ray to no end and pissed of Marnie even moreso. Marnie is such a gold-dgger that she would take you back no matter what, so you blew a shot at giving Sho the ride of her life on the C-Train.

Your best bet? Transfer all your money to an off-shore account (split it up between Cyprus and somewhere in the Caribbean like Curacao) and then fake your own death. Go live in some remote part of the world on a beach somewhere and trade bitcoins and start a gold hedge fund in Hong Kong.


P.S. Get a pre-nup. If Marnie bitches about it, then you know she's just after your money, so dump her on the spot.

* * * *

You tit weasel.

You got an advance up front and never delivered a single page of a second draft? Figures. Totally expected behavior from a vapid, unprofessional lazy poseur.

I hope you get sued, which will cause a ton of OCD self-destructive behavior and panic attacks thinking about having to deal with lawyer thugs. I assume you'll get blackballed and added to a "do not hire list" where you'll be forced to write bullshit freebie articles for Huff Po just to raise your profile before someone from a fourth-rate gossip fashion rag (and wanna-be XO Jane) hires you to write a watered-down knockoff of a Cat Marnell meth-induced rambling column, but that karma bites you in the ass and they decide to stiff you for like six months of back pay and a few grand in expenses that you incurred researching Adderall addiction among models and smoking PCP with skater squatter kids.

You're so dark than even an ex-junkie wouldn't even touch you, and this is a guy who's standards were so low that he regularly shot up drugs smuggled into the country hidden up someone's asshole.

None of that matters. You got your boy toy Adam back. As long as you have someone special, you can ignore your friends, family, and obligations to finish your fucking e-book!

I hope Adam starts drinking Jack and Ginger regularly and then starts posting Vine vids of your facials.

Yours in Christ,

* * * *

Yo Laird,

Move. Now.

Move as far away as possible. Like Siberia, or Jersey City. You're already been affected by the Hannah Virus. And now you're so ill that you're cutting her hair. If you're gonna stay involved in Hannah's universe, then start shooting junk again.

If I was Hannah's neighbor I'd be as wasted as possible and crocked to the tits on heroin all the time if I had to deal with all of her psycho-dramas, like trimming the back of her head after an impulsive haircut or watching her pass out after whining about cleaning up broken glass after getting intoxicated on an a combination of cool whip, Xannie bars, and a self-hatred smoothie.

Get. Out. Now.

Thank me later,

* * * *
Lovely Jessa,

Where art thou? Please send pics of your new vag ring immediately.


* * * *

Check out other recaps: OCD, Its Back and Jizz.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

St. Puke's Day

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

It's St. Patrick's Day, which feels strange on the Left Coast, especially in Los Angeles, which lacks neighborhood bars with a mixture of well-season alkies and working class folks having a beer at the end of an arduous day at the grindstone.

I grew up half-McCatholic in an Irish and Jewish neighborhood in the Bronx, but every day was St. Patrick's Day when both your parents are alkies. When I was a kid, my catholic grammar school gave everyone St. Patrick's Day off from school, presumably so we could go downtown to watch the parade. Most kids and their families actually did that. I went to the parade once or twice back when it was a legit parade and a celebration of Irish culture (before it got hijacked by booze companies and transformed into a drunken, puke-inducing wild rumpus), but after you've seen the parade once, it's not all that special. Instead of going to the parade on a day off from school, I welcomed the opportunity to sit around and play videogames.

In high school we hung out in the crowd along the parade route on Fifth Avenue and knocked back tallboys out of paperbags will sitting in Central Park.

In college, we were always looking for an excuse to drink and always looking for an excuse to roadtrip out of Atlanta. My buddy Darin and I drove down to Savannah once year at the last minute. It was a spontaneous trip that started out as a half-joke during lunch but then manifested in a full-blown roadtrip. We drank up and down River Street. Vendors and bars sold you a huge green plastic mug for $5 (filled with beer) and then you got refills for $2 at any of the bars or beer wagons on the street. River Street was transformed into Bourbon Street with a Mardi Gras-like festive atmosphere, except it you wandered through a green and tons of binge-drinkers from age 17 to 107.

St. Patty's Day in Savannah is a serious adventure and still remains one of the Top 10 greatest parties I've ever attended. This post isn't doing it justice mostly because I don't remember much. The frantic sojourn in Savannah was a huge drunken and foggy blur. I remember starting at one end of River Street and buying my first beer and then it's all fuzzy. We ended up passing out Darin's car like at 2am, parked on some random side street in Savannah underneath a huge tree with Spanish moss draped over us like tinsel and confetti. I woke up at 6am clutching an empty and sticky green mug and the super strong Georgia sun baked my brain. My head which pounding because of a wicked hangover and I had to take a leak and ended up opening up the car door to either vomit or piss -- whichever came first. I didn't blow chunks but urinated on the sidewalk underneath the huge tree with the Spanish moss tickling my face. It wasn't my best moment, but I felt 10,000 times better after reliving myself of gallons of Killian's Red.

I moved back to NYC after college and worked at the museum with a bunch of ex-cops and on St. Patrick's Day, we drank at an old man's Irish pub on the Upper East Side before I left the party early to hang out with a bunch of stoners and we wandered over to Central Park to smoke blunts.

I worked a couple of St Patrick's Days behind the bar. One shift (and it was actually 2/3 of a shift) was the most cash I ever made in the shortest amount of time in my life (that did not involve gambling). While another hellacious shift was one of the most difficult and labor-intensive work experiences I ever had (and this includes a stint when I dug ditches and graves in a Georgia cemetery). I often struggled to find steady work as a bartender in NYC, but every bar in the five boroughs was looking to hire extra bartenders for St. Patty's Day. It was the hugest day of the year if you owned a drinking establishment and tavern owners from Hell's Kitchen to Bensonhurst needed as many fresh troops behind the bar as possible to keep all the parade revelers, and thirsty local Irishmen, and amateur-alkies happy and drunk and drunk.

You view the world differently if you've ever tended bar because you get to be on the sinister "pusher" side of alcoholism because you're hustling hopelessly addicted souls a few bucks at a time. The average customer is riddled with serious life problems, yet they are avoiding dealing with those issues by hiding out in a bar. In one sense, you're giving desperate and lonely people somewhere to go and nurse their wounds, but at the same time, most of the time you're just enabling them and providing shelter from the slings and arrows of the real world. Being a bar owner is tough on your karma because you profit off of other people's misery. You flirt the fine line by creating a place where people can relax and kick back with a few drinks, or taking advantage of our society of lowlifes by siphoning off the last bit of their dignity one shot of whiskey at a time.

In the 21st Century, St. Patrick's Day is just like every other holiday that has become over-hyped by the media and hijacked by corporations whom profit from a seasonal money grab. Beer companies don't give a shit about Irish or Mexican heritage, yet they'll go out of their way to promote Cinco de Mayo or St. Patrick's Day. Hey, it's in the best interest of the wine-booze-beer-spirits-industrial complex to create as many holidays -- both real and fabricated -- as a means to profit off of insane amounts of liquor consumption.

We need at least one of these booze-drenched holidays once a month. A few months are already taken with known binge-drinking holidays (New Years, St. Patrick'S Day, etc.), so we need to manufacture four or five new ones.

Might I suggest morphing Talk Like a Pirate Day with Copious Rum Consumption Day, and then everyone will get dressed up like pirates and wear eye patches and get blind dunk on rum concoctions. Or maybe celebrate hurricane season in September with Hurricanes (a New Orleans' inspired cocktail that incorporates a shit-ton of rum -- Bicardi, dark rum, and 151 -- mixed with both orange juice and cranberry juice, with a splash of grenadine).

I'm surprised Coca-cola hasn't teamed with with Jack Daniels to create a national Jack-n-Coke Day in April, and for those of you watching your figures, you can drink Jack-n-Diet Coke. It could be a special celebration in which people drink buckets of soda and whiskey and then you can close off huge sections of the city and let people fight and maul each other to the death in a royal rumble street brawl. It's like the Running of the Bulls except you're trying to survive and outrun several hundred volatile miscreants completely tanked on whiskey. Vegas will be able to offer up betting odds and you do a Pay-Per-View livestream to watch the carnage while hosting your own Jack-n-Coke parties.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Actress Took Down the Curtains

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

The actress took down the curtains, which indicated she was either 1) moving, or B) bought new curtains/blinds and was going to install them.

I had not heard much from the actress in the previous two weeks. Not a peep. No theatrical performances or fits of screaming. Ever since the big blowup with her boyfriend, things were super quiet I assumed he finally moved out and they broke up.

Part of the break up entailed abandoning the apartment, which had become a vortex for negative energy. Besides, a struggling actress couldn't afford to live in the Slums of Beverly Hills by herself, so who knows where she ended up. I noticed her mother was here last weekend and assumed it was a visit, yet the more I think of it, maybe she she's giving up the "dream" and moving back to the Midwest? She came so close, but was never more farther away from cashing in on her talents. Her former roommate had a brush with stardom and went deep on American Idol, but the actress never landed that sitcom during pilot season, or got callbacks on auditions for cell phone or light beer commercials. Despite the constant rejection and degradation for almost seven years, she lasted a pretty long time waiting for her big break that always seemed to be within grasp, yet so far out of reach. She wasted weeks and months of her life stuck in traffic trying to race across town from audition to audition. All things considered, the actress had already beaten the odds and survived much longer than the average aspiring starlet.

The actress took down the curtains yesterday. When I looked up from my desk and gazed out of the window of my office, I saw naked windows for the first time. Nicky said she heard rip-like sounds of packing tape all afternoon, which confirmed my initial suspicion that she moved out.

I'm going to miss her... the actress... mostly her voice. Kind of angelic at times. Never knew when it would pop up out of nowhere, often when she was in the shower. One second.... nothing and the next... something melodious and harmonizing. Come to think of it, I'll miss the random blow ups too. Cheap, yet enthralling entertainment.

You never knew when an explosion would happen. 3am. 3pm. 10am. 10pm. The skirmishes and shouting matches (mostly her shouting and her drunk boyfriend not saying much) flared up around six months ago and had been increasing in volume, volatility, and frequency.

What was once a "once in a blue moon" spat had become weekly hysterics, which quickly accelerated into daily occurrences. Then it got even worse. I almost started a Twitter account (@HipsterNeighborsFight) because the actress was on the warpath and had become a dangerous volcano blowing her top two or three times a day. I guess her boyfriend's boozing and coke-totting had gotten to an all-time low and the two crashed into each other like speeding freight trains. What's worse than one trainwreck? How about two of them?

Both the trainwrecks lived next door.

What if he was getting wasted every morning and every night because his girlfriend was a narcissistic wanna-be actress who turned into a psychopath and took out her frustrations and failures by yelling at him nonstop? At some point, what came first... the chicken or the egg? The psycho girlfriend? Or the alkie/cokehead boyfriend?

This is a tough town. Hollywood really beats people down and makes you feel utterly worthless. Even if you do succeed in your field, you're constantly on edge and paranoid that someone is scheming to get your job, yet constantly self-conscious about how you're not good enough, or worried that you'll wake up one day and not be able to do what you do, or sometimes you feel totally manipulated and unappreciated and used like a pawn or some other disposable piece of garbage. It doesn't take more than a few days living in Los Angeles to realize that dreams are just that... dreams. Reality is hell. If you get an audience with the devil's minions at CAA, then you might be able to sell your soul for peanuts while your pimps rake in mega bucks for your sweet ass. Everyone else struggles on the fringe and becomes starving cannibals, slowly and brutally eating each other, one chunk of flesh at a time.

The face-offs between the actress and her boyfriend were so captivating that a couple of times you could hear everyone (who lived in my building) dropped what they were doing and positioned themselves quietly along windows facing the alley so they could listen in to her verbal lashings. Better than reality TV. Too bad she didn't have a camera on her, because this was juicy entertainment and raw emotion. Two people who once had tons of potential who were beaten down by the system and their dreams mercilessly crushed. I guess we were all curious after all, we lived next door to the drama and became a built-in audience by sheer geography, but deep down we knew that we were all just one bad day away from being in the same situation. One of my neighbors is an old hippie lady struggling as a painter, and another is a young violin player. Will the violinist be able to still do her art in three decades like the old lady? Or will she get eaten up and crushed by gears of the Hollywood machine, just like the hysterical actress spiraling into a black hole of despair, desperation, and mutual self-destruction?

* * *
For more stories about the actress and the Slums of Beverly Hills, check out...
Monday Morning Lurid Gaze
Neighborly Turbulence, Squabbles, and Brouhahas
The Slums' Swing

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Muted Alleys

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Quiet. Mostly quiet. The alleys were still at that tranquil time of the morning just after the dawn broke and the Carolina-blue sky was scattered with the last remnant of dissipated chemtrail.

The calm before the storm.

The familiar echo of rattling empty bottles drifted down the alley. The constantly clanking indicated one of the can fairies had hit a jackpot. Previous dumpster hunters somehow missed the buried treasure or that particular fairy had the perfect timing because someone had just taken out their trash from the previous night's festivities. Competition for empty beer and soda bottles is fierce in this neighborhood between couple of professional recyclers with vehicles, a guy on a bicycle with a large blag hefty bag, the mumbling old toothless guy who wore a smock and pushed a grocery car around, the Mexican couple who wore gloves and used a long wooden walking stick to poke around the bins, not to mention the random junkie or two who stumbled through looking for who knows what.

Aside from the random jackpot winner (who I never saw but heard somewhere in an adjacent alley), I did not see anyone this morning. On a typical early morning (early even for early morning people), in the first mile or so I'd pass two types of people: joggers and dog walkers.

Almost 90% of the time, when I came across someone running, that jogger was a middle-aged female in dark workout clothes. Meanwhile, 90% of the dogwalkers wore their pajamas and more than half the time they'd be smoking a cigarette. I like multi-taskers. Juggling two birds with one stone. Or something like that. The dog owers were friendly and said hello outright (or some derivative a a greeting) or nodded 90% of the time, while the joggers never ever acknowledged me. Maybe they were traveling too fast, or simply too stuck up to bother.

If I went for a walk an hour later, the activity of the side streets picked up. The normal weekday hustle and bustle. You don't have to set an alarm because around 7:50am every morning you'll hear the first leaf blower from one of the neighbor's gardeners. Over the next four hours, the neighborhood is polluted with whirling buzzing annoying sounds of leafblowers and weed whackers, which fill every nook and cranny of the alleys. Every block has at least one crew working on a lawn. Sometimes you'll see two or three! You can't wander down a single street without seeing yard work. Appearances are everything. Substance is overrated in these parts. The perfectly manicured lawn projects perfection and success. Without the meticulous work from $5/hour illegal immigrants, then the neighbors would have to actually do their own gardening.

The mechanical sounds of the landscapers' collective toil competed with the overwhelming screeching and groaning from garbage trucks. Trash pickup happens before the dawn when the vampires are scurrying home before sun comes up, but sometimes they get behind schedule. When trash collection coincided with the first wave of morning rush hour, you were guaranteed to experience an ugly encounter.  The behemoth trucks blocked the side streets (two lanes) and if you got stuck behind one, then you were screwed until they moved to a space where you might be able to squeeze past them, otherwise you're stuck until they're done with the end of the block. The truly impatient ones turn around and go another way. The selfish dickheads refuse to back down and honk their horns with reckless abandon. Without fail, there will be a self-absorbed suit behind the wheel of a foreign model car (which is worth more than the yearly salary of the trashman) who will honk loudly and roll down his windows to curse out the truck. Nothing gets garbage men fired up more than sticking it to BMW-driving douchenozzles. The more you honk, the slower they go. The trashman don't give a shit. They're union jobs anyway. Sometimes they'll create a bottleneck purpose just to rile up the sheeple. Being a commuter is tough enough, but do you need more anguish by getting caught up as collateral damage in a pissing war between a BMW assclown and a bitter trashman.

Garbage trucks grinding. Honking horns. Road rage. Leaf blowers. Bottles and cans clanking off each other. Maybe even a few birds chirping. Morning weekday sounds. I prefer the calm moments in the hour before all of that maddening bustle begins. I drowned out all of those negative sounds of commerce, industry, and scavengers. I plugged my ears and listened to music. Nothing special. Anything was better than hearing the nauseating cacophony of West L.A. side streets and alley ways during the peak of morning rush hour.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Hell Cats and Procrastination Street

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I have the opposite of writer's block. I cannot stop writing about stuff that I probably shouldn't be writing about. For example, last Saturday morning I should have been working on a work project, but instead I re-listened to Beck's Mellow Gold and Odelay from start to finish and wrote an essay about how Loser was released twenty years ago. I do shit like that all the time. It's frustrating in one aspect because I should be doing other work, but at the same time I'm actively trying to avoid doing one thing means I'm using creative muscles to do something else.

This is a nagging, yet nasty habit that's hard to break out of mainly because I feel as though writing and self-expression is a good thing and necessary activity if I want to progress as a writer, especially after stunting my growth for a few years grinding out articles about the genius of pro poker players. It's one thing if I wasn't writing and using my time to sit around and drink in dive bars, or playing Grand Theft Auto, or binge-watch Cheers1 from the first season. The fact that I'm writing (and reading a ton), is the sole reason I haven't completely flipped out on myself.

Procrastination. How bad is my procrastination? I'm writing about the act of procrastinating. In fact, this is the second post I dedicated to the topic of procrastination in the last couple of weeks (see the first one here: Tico Tico, Procrastination, and 28 Pairs of Underwear).

My new daily activity is reading articles about procrastination. There's a ton of content about the subject and I spent several hours over the last week digesting hundreds of those articles about people who put off things (like Good and Bad Procrastination and Procrastination Is Not Laziness). I even read one article that suggested that procrastination was not something to be vilified, rather celebrated because it is a quirky trait in really talented people. I got a little punch-drunk on that argument, and then I got a little miffed. So if keep on putting things off, I can achieve the same level as "really talented people." Sheesh. I've been doing it wrong all these years. I thought hard work and discipline was an integral part of the so-called "10,000 hours" which you need to devote to something in order to become highly competent. It turns out that I can achieve greatness if I simply wait to the last minute to do everything,.

Success falls somewhere in the middle of being highly prepared under some semblance of pressure and totally winging it by the seat of your pants. Without deadlines, I don't finish anything in a timely manner. I'm the guy who took five years to write a book and if it were up to me, I would have taken another six months to do one more edit. At the same time, I'm someone who rejects the entire concept of authority so having a stern deadline is something that makes me standoffish. I've been around the block enough to know that nothing is worse than forcing something to happen versus allowing it to evolve organically. My best work happens through the organic process versus force-feeding a square peg into a round hole. The trick is to be able to balance everything... have a target deadline and do some preparation and then wait around for inspiration to strike.

I usually won't put anything down on paper until two or three days before the deadline. A better organized person would have already written the column by the time the editor reminded everyone that the deadline is upcoming in a week or so. Alas, I don't do my best work that way. So therein lies the problem.

I have an addictive personality. It used to be highly self-destructive, but I figured out how to channel those personality flaws into more productive ways. I went a huge stretch of 7-8 years in which I constantly traveled and wrote for myself and others and kept a job in a brutally tough industry despite the fact the media paradigm is shifting and the government cracked down on online gambling. When I finally took a break away from the grind, I realized how much I enjoyed the time off when I lived in San Francisco. In essence, I got addicted to doing nothing2. I needed the break but I didn't want to get addicted to laziness, which is why I decided to shake things up at the end of 2012.

This year's output on the Tao of Pauly is the opposite of my "gun-to-the-head" creative process. My current philosophy with this blog is to use it to help me break out of a (bad) routine and force myself to write at a given time (and length) every day no matter what. Initially, I was worried that I would rebel against my own personal challenge and crank out crappy posts, which has happened a lot actually, like take this post for example -- a fluff piece about procrastinating. I'm filling my morning blog quota by writing about how I keep procrastinating other things that need to get done (taxes and work projects). Then again, I hit a couple of homeruns here when I wasn't expecting to even step up to the plate, which is why I extended this process from just the month of January to an indefinite blogging philosophy (minimum of five posts a week and one link dump, plus a couple of fiction pieces per month).

I can only justify procrastination if it's going toward a greater good. Any creative activity is a positive thing like watching documentary films, or reading books because those help massage the brain and keep the creative juices flowing. Then there's work-related activities that I could do like catching up on reading articles about online gaming legislation, or crunching numbers for sportsbetting purposes, or listening to sportsbetting podcasts, or scouting college hoops games for March Madness.

Then there's the utterly stupid shit that I did over the weekend that I had absolutely no excuse... like getting sucked into a five-hour marathon of My Cat From Hell (the host looks like the hipster version of my buddy Human Head and he helps cat owners who have a hell cat). Wasting a full day's of work watching My Cat From Hell is inexcusable and that I'll never get that time back. I don't do stuff like that very often, but when I do, I feel horribly guilty and feel as though I have to read at least ten hours to counteract the five hours of being lobotomized by the boob tube.

Good news... with college basketball fever ramping up, I can guarantee you that I will not be wasting any time on stupid cat shows over the next few weeks. This is my favorite time of year when I park myself on the couch and don't move for the rest of the month while conference tournaments finish up this week and conclude this weekend, and the March Madness tournament beginning next week. I can justify investing hundreds of hours into watching college hoops the next three weeks because I make money doing it. But the silly cat shows? Just mindless entertainment for procrastinating stoners.

* * *
1. I read an article about the oral history of Cheers and I was pumped to discover that Amazon Prime members were able to stream episodes of Cheers for free, so I watched six or seven before I stopped. If I went any further, I would have devoured the entire first season.... and second season... and then the entire series.

2. 'Nothing' is a strong word. I stepped back from being a daily content generator on multiple sites as my output trickled to almost nothing. I wrote at my own pace and slowly worked on an anthology of short stories which is taking forever because I refuse to give myself a hard deadline.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Jack 91

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

"I wrote the book because we're all gonna die."

Jack Kerouac wrote those words in On the Road. I'm writing about Jack today because it's he was born on this day 91 years ago. Jack lived a brief life because he died at age 47 after drinking himself to death.

The constant wandering Jack did in his late 20s became the focal point of his novels including the one that made him super famous -- On the Road. In post-WWII America, it was much easier to hitchhike on the interstates and make a little money go a long way. Jack crossed the country numerous times in the late 1940s and he extensively wrote about what he saw and experienced. His novels became a snapshot of America in the late 40s and early 50s before it morphed into a consumer society.

The road became a constant source of inspiration early in Jack's life, but it was a direct root of pain later in life. The wandering adventures fired up Jack and he tried to write down every detail of every moment when he was living life on the fringe.

The Beats tried to make living an artform. A few succeeded particularly Neal Cassady. I can only imagine if Neal were alive today. He had more gravitas in his little pinky than the entire Kardashian clan. Neal was born in the wrong era. He became America's first "reality show" all because Jack took the time and energy to jot down every meticulous detail about the Neal Cassady experience.

Jack did too much living on the edge. The edge is what made him and formed his outlook on life, but the edge what destroyed him. Later in his life, those epic journeys and frenetic moments during his seven nonstop years on the road became a rampant source of melancholy. The excitement of life was no longer there. He could never replicate the boundless energy of America in the late 40s and the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants frenzy of traveling with Neal Cassady. The characters were no longer alive inside his head; Cassady died in Mexico walking along the train tracks and Ginsberg had embraced his fame as a hippie icon and elderstatesman for the 60s generation. By the time Jack hit his 40s, the openness of the American frontier started to evaporate and regional differences were getting smoothed out. The music changed... his once precious jazz was pushed aside by the surging popularity of rock and roll. And when Jack tried to make art, well if empty bottles of hooch did not give him writer's block, then the hipness of his words got swallowed up by the chase pack and Jack struggled to compete with a new batch of writers he inspired.

* * *

I was a freshman in high school when I read On the Road for the first time. I really didn't get it then at age 14, which was expected because it was the late 80s when I didn't fully appreciate the written word and spent more time on video games than delving into literature.

I re-read On the Road again one summer during college and finally got it for the first time because I had started traveling a bunch for the first time in my life. During the summers, I lived in my fraternity house in Atlanta and we did not have cable TV to zone out in front of, so I spent a lot of nights sitting on my porch reading books. During the last two years of college, my friends and I devoted a significant amount of time traveling throughout the South following the Grateful Dead, or taking roadtrips to New Orleans or Biloxi (to gamble on the river boats), or down to the Florida panhandle for other festivities. Atlanta had its own flavor, but I really didn't get to see the real South until I left Atlanta and wandered around. I can never thank the Grateful Dead enough for luring me out of the classroom and egging me to get on the bus and head onto the open road to see America.... to see my future. After college, Phish helped shape my world view by getting me out and about on the road and even got me to see Japan in 2000. I traveled a shit-ton across America because of those two bands. My love of their music coupled with a passion for travel made touring with both bands the perfect synergy. I would not be here today without those intrepid experiences.

Jack drew this map of his wanderings
(Click to enlarge)
I re-read On the Road a third time when I had just moved back to NYC after college in the mid-90s. I moved in with my girlfriend, who was a chronically-depressed artist and two of our roommates were drag queens. We lived around the corner from the Chelsea Hotel, or just seven blocks from the West 20th Street apartment were Kerouac penned the original manuscript. My ex-girlfriend was obsessed with the fact that Jack Kerouac was madly in love with Neal Cassady. She underlined all the passages in On the Road (and a couple of other Jack's novels) she thought alluded to Jack and Cassady's potential love affair. Her obsession with it freaked me out more so than the reality of their peculiar and dynamic relationship. I didn't get much out of that re-reading of OTR, but my ex-girlfriend turned me onto his other books and I devoured Dharma Bums, Desolation Angels and The Subterraneans. It didn't even get half-way through Dharma Bums before I declared it was better than OTR. After reading almost novel Jack penned, I can safely say that Dharma Bums is not only my favorite Jack novel... but it might be his best.

I picked up On the Road again when I lived in Seattle in the late 90s during the post-grunge era. I was closer in age to Kerouac at the time he wrote the initial manuscript, so I felt as though I could identify a little bit better. I had just driven across country with my buddy Senor and we moved all my shit from Brooklyn to Seattle in a shitty Chrysler LeBaron (not quite Jon Voight's car, for you Seinfeld fans).

I cannot recall when I re-read On the Road again next, but it happened sometime between 2003-04. I re-read huge chunks of it from a Barnes and Noble on the Upper West Side when I was super broke and didn't have a job, so I went into the bookstore to kill time and read. When I started to play poker in the underground cardrooms around NYC, I often popped into Barnes and Noble while I waited for games to begin (near Union Square or on 22nd Street). I flipped through different poker strategy books and got lost in different sections of the megastore, but I'm sure I read 10-20 pages from OTR a couple of instances while waiting to play poker.

A couple of years ago, I acquired an audio book of On the Road. I listened to it on a long flight to/from Australia. I was bummed I didn't get the one with Jack Kerouac reading the entire thing.

One of the better things about the introduction of YouTube was digging up old clips of Jack Kerouac appearing on TV shows, like the time he was shitfaced on the William Buckley show or the time he was super uncomfortable reading passages from On the Road on the Steve Allen show, as Allen pecked away on the piano.

Speaking of YouTube, I cam across a lecture from a well-known Ivy League school that discussed On the Road. Holy shit, it was a terrible class. I'm not a professor and barely stayed awake in my English classes in college, but I could have done a much better job explaining On the Road to these kids. Sucks that their view of Kerouac, the beats, and post-war Americana was shaped by a professor who had no idea what she was talking about.

I recently saw the film version of On the Road. It wasn't all that, but you get to see Kristen Stewart's nipples. At least the set designer did a great job making everything look like the late 1940s.

* * *

You can listen to the audiobook of On the Road here (ironically on YouTube)...

* * *

Happy birthday, Jack. Do yourself a favor and buy Dharma Bums.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Girls: Jizz

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

My thoughts on "On Al Fours" (episode 9, season 2) of Girls...

* * *

Yo Adam-

You got the Hannah Virus. AA is too Draconian for artists and won't cure you, but you need to get your ass to a shrink after humiliating that sweet girl Natalia by jacking off on her tits. The Hannah Virus is like an infestation of termites that methodically gnaws away at your internal mental frame, until one day the walls come crumbling down, triggering you to snap because one moment, you're inside the Starbucks on Astor Place and the next thing you know... you bludgeoned everyone to a bloody pulp with a broken chair leg.

You're a weak man. The first sight of Hannah and her bloody Q-Tip sent you off the wagon... so far off the wagon that you went on a Jack and Ginger bender, which transformed you into a primal pervert and you molested your adorable girlfriend by making her re-enact a scene from a Sasha Grey domination video. Sure, she might have had dirty tendencies (like the time she blew her college friend's cousin), but forcing her to role play as Deviant Hannah was depraved. Making Natalia crawl on all fours in your dingy apartment was demeaning enough, but you topped it all off by dropping a load on her breasts. The only thing worse would have been a full-blown facial. At least you offered to clean up the spooge with your t-shirt. Hannah used to let it air-dry and cake on her chest before she finally washed it off eight days later.

Don't expect Natalia  to ever call you again. And if she does call you back, then don't see her. The last thing you need is back-to-back psycho girlfriends.
Get your shit together, bro. You've been infected by the Hannah Virus. Better quarantine yourself before you infect any more people with your self-destructive behavior. What you really need is to move to Bangkok for three or four months and hate-fuck a couple hundred trannies until you finally get Hannah out of your mind.

Later on,

P.S. Don't go back to the same AA meeting where you met the cougar (a.k.a. Natalia's mom). She's liable to jump you before the meeting and shank you with a screwdriver. Or worse, she'll beg you to rub one out on her chest too.

* * *
Dearest Marnie,

Keep practicing otherwise you'll never get out of your YouTube self-wanking phase of wanna-be Katy Perrys. The voice will not happen overnight. You gotta put in the time and do some hard living in the real world, but I don't think you have the intestinal fortitude to grind out the starving artist lifestyle. Start chain-smoking Marlboro Reds so you can get a raspy voice like Janis. Drink a ton of whiskey out of the bottle and watch old Steve McQueen movies, which will help get you all surly and make your eyes look mean. Heck, you might as well get addicted to downers, but do something totally Amy Winehouse level of crazy and mix up downers with a cocaine addiction. Then, and only then you might be able to add a little soul to your singing and sound like someone with real fucking problems instead of a whiny princess ensconced in her first existential dilemma.

You need a new schtick. It was fucking hysterical the first time I saw a whiter-than-white whitegirl belt out a bubblegummy cover of a hip-hop song with incendiary lyrics.  But now, it's meme that's been beaten to a dead horse. Try to do something completely different for a change and think out of the box. Like do a punk version of Motown songs, like pop hits by The Supremes but give it a "fuck you" CBGB's gritty edge and break empty bottles over your head during the chorus. Don't forget you're in a room full of jaded hipsters who already have 500K hits on their Harlem Shake video and already did their own ukelele version of 2 Live Crew's "Face Down Ass Up." Just so you know, before you even finished humping Charlie, half the room already Vine'd your shaky Kanye West cover.

You're a sly one. You need a sugar daddy to pay the bills while you pursue your dream of becoming the next Lana Del Rey. You're too prissy to suffer for your art, which is why you're trying to re-hook Charlie. He's got big bucks now and can bankroll you're journey toward stardom.

You're still a hot mess. I'm telling you, better start working on your Burning Man costume right now. Nothing is worse than waiting until the last minute. You can build your own eco-friendly mini-stage out of recycled delivery boxes and use a solar power rig to power up the trippy lights and sound system. Every night, you can perform an entire set of hip-hop covers naked but your private parts covered in body paint.

See ya on the playa,

* * *

Yo Ray,

You're still a schmuck.

Your so-called best buddy Charlie made a shit-ton of cash with an app and launched a big-time company and yet he never bothered to offer you a job? Not even as lemonade squeezer? He must be a total dick for keeping his success to himself, or knows you're a lazy malcontent who hates everything?

First off, you fell in love with Shoshanna after she got all whacked-out by accidentally smoking crack in Red Hook and then you unceremoniously deflowered her. Since then, it's been a twisted relationship. Instead of dumping you outright, Shoshanna passive-aggressively punished you by nailing a doorman (I assume he was in the union). She's the worst emotional poker player on the East Coast and couldn't hide the fact she got long-dicked by some other dude while you were moping around the apartment in dirty boxers. When she confessed to her infidelity, you quickly took her back without a fuss. What the hell is wrong with you? Man, you're such a fucking pussy.

If you let her cheat on you the first time... then she's going to keep doing it. This is not a one-time affair. It's like the scene in Jurassic Park when the velociraptors were testing the electronic fences to see if they had any weakness. Shoshanna is like the raptor and telling you about the tryst with the doorman in the mailroom is like testing the fence. You failed the test bro. I expect a long and tortuous future of Sho smuggling more cocks than Liberace on Gay Pride Day.

The next time you catch Shoshanna giving the pizza delivery guy a rimjob, don't come crying to me. I warned you about that naughty little, Jappy vixen, and you just gave her permission to shag anything that moves. Well done, Mr. Pushover. Is she going to start fucking you in the ass with a strap-on next?

Ray, you're a pathetic shitbag and put up with Sho's promiscuity because you're desperate for a place to live and want the comforting blanket that makes you feel normal that you have "girlfriend." How can I have any respect for a man, who cannot respect himself?

I really hope all this is a slick ploy and you're putting up with Sho's cheating bunhead because it allows you to stay close to Marnie. I get it. She's hot and vulnerable and you hide your erections in your waistband when you give her tutorials on Garage Band. I wonder if she knows you sniff her panties when she's not there? You're a sick and twisted fuck.

The more I think about it, the more I like your "possum" style or opting for the rope-a-dope. It's twisted, demented and bonkers. You make everyone around you think you're just a dumb grump but in reality you're pulling off a sleeper cell Tony Clifton performance like your hero Andy Kaufman. Keep on manipulating a guilt-ridden Sho and parlay this into at least six months of free rent, which will give you ample enough time to make the moves on Marnie. Wait until she gets re-dumped again by Charlie and catch her when she's super vulnerable and if you got any game, you can magically work a Shoshanna/Marnie threesome. Until that happens, you're a fucking mook in my eyes.

See ya,

* * *
Oooooh La La Shoshannah,

You dirty little trollop! It's that time of the week for you to hop up on Santa's lap and tell him how you've been naughty. How many doorknobs have you waxed this week? Don't be shy. Tell me everything.

You need to kick Ray out of the apartment. He's dead weight, a min-wage lifer who called his car his home. I know people who live out of their cars and they're called degenerate gamblers. Ray was born under an unlucky star. He's the hipsterfied version of Ignatius J. Reilly, who sits around in his underwear all the time and goes around collecting Marnie's stray hairs because he's a creepy fuck who preys on young 20-something girls. Do the nice thing and put him out of his misery already. No sense in drowning yourself in guilt. Give him the boot then you can play hide the salami with every doorman on the Upper East Side.

What's the deal with the danish on your head? It's like a twisted Jewish version of Princess Leia because it looks like a Kaiser roll. I look at your head and think, "Hmmm, I'm hungry. I'd really like a pastrami on a  Kaiser roll with a Dr. Brown's black cherry soda." And what's up with your old lady dress? I mean, my mom wore that shit in 1965. You're turning into a Jewish version of Hannah. You have a fucking bun on your hair and you think you're on Mad Men and you can't hide the fact that you cheated on your loser boyfriend with a doorman. No wonder you hate yourself with the hateful desire of a thousand burning suns.

Nice try offering yourself up to Charlie like that after complimenting on how hot he looked and how he could have sex with anyone at the party. But you're too neurotic and have a suicidal boyfriend and obviously a miserable gold-digger, which is why Charlie ended up doing the freaky freaky with Marnie on his desk illuminated by the warm and sensuous glow of his computer screens. It's disturbing that you're turned on by his 20K MAUs. Thanks for revealing more sexual weaknesses and vulnerabilities.

Note to self... Sho gets moist by doormen uniform and web numbers.

If numbers get you hot and bothered, then I want to show you what Tao of Poker's traffic looked like during the WSOP Main Event. We put Charlie's numbers to shame. Or how about Coventry's traffic whenever Phish is on tour? That redonkulous spike in visitors should get you all hot and bothered. My traffic report is better lube than KY jelly.


P.S. Still waiting on that handjob.

* * *

Yo Charlie,

What will happen when your 20K a month customer base finds out you actually nailed the ex-girlfriend who inspired your app? I smell a class-action lawsuit.

Or will this recent romp inspire another new app? You pay $100 every time you sleep with an ex-girlfriend?

I envy you, bro. You make the interns squeeze fresh lemonade for you from the organic lemon trees you have on your roof garden. That's pretty baller.You're so powerful that you have an entire office full of hipster-geeks (or geeksters) at your mercy, you give them a pittance of peanuts for pay and no health insurance, yet think they have the coolest boss in the world because they get to eat free candy from over-sized community bowls and make weekly meme videos on company time. Your minions deified you for raking in millions on the Marnie inspired-app, yet instead of cash bonuses, you reward them with cheap beer, cold pizza and a boring DJ, who is yet another dickhead with a Macbook who thinks he's Girltalk.

You demonstrated that if you treat women like shit, then they'll fall for you. You blew off Marnie for lunch, which whipped her into a sex-crazed manic episode that inspired her rendition of a Kanye song. You insulted her singing and her stalking ways, and you still got busy on your desk. Bravo.

Seriously, why haven't you gotten in touch with me about the sportsbetting app? March Madness starts next week. We're missing out on a huge potential here. Degens drooling to piss their money away. Give me a buzz.

See ya,

P.S. I hope you left your webcam running during the wild rumpus.

* * *

It's bad enough to pick wedgies out of your ass eight times, but it's even worse to put the same finger in your ear eight times. Are you trying to transmit fecal diseases to your ears? And where the fuck did you buy that dress that looks like the curtains from the Holiday Inn circa 1978?
Only a dumbass lives in a Brooklyn apartment with hardwood floors and sits bare-ass in the living room. The splinter is a trite metaphor... you put yourself out there emotionally and you got wounded and had to fix yourself back up and pulled out the splinter yourself with a pair of tweezers by looking awkwardly in the mirror.

Poking your ear drum with the Q-tip? Another trite metaphor. You want to impair your hearing so you cannot hear the truth. The first time might be an accident, but you crossed that danger zone a second time using the same fucking Q-tip. You might try to let everyone think your OCD caused the ruptured eardrum and bloody ear canals, but the real reason you punctured (both) eardrums is to make sure cannot hear everyone around you tell you about how horrible you are.

If you can't hear the truth, it doesn't exist, right?

Hey sweetie... put down the jar of olives and stop stuffing your face eight olives at a time and wake the fuck up. If you accept the stone-cold fact that you are not the center of the universe and you have to get along with people and make sacrifices and accept responsibility for your decisions... then and only then, people will finally start to genuinely like you, well maybe not like you... but feel sorry for you. You only have friends because they want to feel better about their pathetic lives, so they hang out with you. As soon as they get their shit together, they'll toss you out like lumpy, sour milk that is three months past its expiration date.

Stop the fucking amateur bullshit, get your lumpy ass in gear and start writing. You got a deadline to meet so stop whining and dicking around and deliver the Anais Nin-knockoff, crotch-tickler that your flaming gay publisher is paying you good coin to write. You're a sad sack of shit that would rather run up an unnecessary ER bill than finish her e-book. A million writers would kill for a book deal and you're totally ungrateful and feel grossly entitled (only you would want a book deal and have mommy and daddy to pay your rent). Yeah, you're one of those wanna-be writers who likes to say they're a writer but when it boils down to it, you're nothing but hot air and thousands of empty pages because they are too chicken shit to sit down and write.

Yours truly,

P.S. Say it with me...

Everyone hates me because I put Q-Tips in my ears.
Everyone hates me because I put Q-Tips in my ears.
Everyone hates me because I put Q-Tips in my ears.
Everyone hates me because I put Q-Tips in my ears.
Everyone hates me because I put Q-Tips in my ears.
Everyone hates me because I put Q-Tips in my ears.
Everyone hates me because I put Q-Tips in my ears.
Everyone hates me because I put Q-Tips in my ears.

* * *
Here is last week's take... Girls: OCD, It's Back.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Beck's Loser Turns 20

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Time flies. Twenty years ago, Beck hit the mainstream with Loser. Grantland posted a good piece Choking on the Splinters, which analyzed Beck's career on the 20th anniversary of the release of the original Loser single.

Flashback to 1994. Loser was blowing up. MTV aired the video at least once an hour (this was back when MTV aired videos 20 hours out of the day). Every radio station had Loser it in heavy rotation. It became an overnight hit months before. Beck recorded Loser in 1991 as a bad inside joke among friends and he treated it more of a throwaway song. Yet one man's trash is another man's art. Bong Load, the indie label that produced Beck's record, released Loser as a single. One local DJ started playing it and that sparked what would become a raging inferno. Although Beck was on the radio or MTV all the time at the end of 1993, we had to wait until early 1994 to buy the new Beck album (his third), Mellow Gold, which included Loser as first track.

The massive machine of consumption gobbled up Loser and spit back out again and again and again and again and made a ton of dough in the process. At my first Beck show in 1994, after every song a drunken moron shouted, "Play Loser!" Beck did not play it during his set, but at the end of the show for the encore, Beck pulled out a boombox and put in a tape (or CD) and blasted Loser, while he nodded his head and gazed at the stunned crowd.

Music critics and the gatekeepers of the establishment pegged Beck as a spoiled brat. You could tell Beck was embarrassed at Loser's success more than trying to stick it to the fans. Besides, it's a tough song to play live because of all the loops and samples. Stiff white squares in suits tried to peg Beck's Loser as the slacker anthem. The older generations used Loser as the perfect example why Generation X were a worthless bunch of stoned and ambition-less losers who overdosed on pop culture and brand bombardment.

A couple of music geeks tried to say Beck was the Bob Dylan of Generation X. Kurt Cobain had (supposedly) just blown his head off, so it was up to Beck to carry the musical torch for Gen X. It was a ridiculous comparison. Beck was talented, certainly more talented than his peers, but he was no Bob Dylan.

I don't recall much about One Foot In the Grave, the album between Mellow Gold and Odelay. But I listened to Odelay to death. I lived in Brooklyn in 1996 and threw a birthday party at my brownstone. We blasted Odelay all night long and played it nonstop on a continuous cycle while thirty people danced in my kitchen and we drank cans of MGD and ate mushrooms with peanut butter and Ritz crackers. The entire album clocked in under 55 minutes, but it was a rager from the first note on the opening track of Devil's Haircut, to the catchy "two turntables and a microphone" bit from Where It's At, to the "hidden track" of computer-blips at the end that freaked out everyone who was shroomin'. A bunch of friends had not heard the album (maybe just heard Devil's Haircut, but that was about it) and they were blown away by hooks, samples, loops, lyrics, and hokey country funk. The one girl I was crushing on the most had shown up to my party. I impressed her with my musical tastes, particularly Odelay. She loved it and begged me to make her a copy. I was trying to be cool and wait three days to call her, but I was going apeshit and gave in on day two because I was afraid she was going to go out and buy it. In the end, Beck's Odelay got me laid, which is why it's one of my Top 10 all-time albums.

Listen to Odelay and the full album here:

I lost track of Beck when I moved to Seattle in 1997 and then got lost into a bunch of different music. It wasn't until a couple years later when I befriended the Joker, who turned me onto the three albums I missed (Mutations, Midnight Vultures, and Sea Change). We listened to a ton of Beck while on Phish tour in the summer of 2004. I was back on the Beck train and I couldn't wait to get my hands on his next two albums -- Guero and The Information. I listened to both nonstop when I lived in Las Vegas, and both were perfect driving music or background music when I played online poker.

When I moved to Los Angeles in 2007-08, I had a developed a new-found respect for Beck as I slowly adapted to my new home. Living in L.A. gave me a chance to soak up all of the random local references Beck slipped into lyrics throughout his entire career. I remember the day when I was driving on the freeway with my girlfriend and finally understood all the lyrics to Debra (by the way Zankou Chicken fucking rocks). It was like a moment of clarity hitting you in the junk.

With the Guero album, Beck made music that was accessible to more people by dropping Spanish slang and Spanglish (a fused mixture of English and Spanish). Los Angeles' diversity became a cultural ingredient and component to almost every Beck album (especially Guero and its Spanglish blend).

A couple of years ago, I caught Beck on the festival circuit when he played at Vegoose and Bonnaroo. Beck's sets were among the highlights of both festivals. He put on a true show with lots of busy shit going on stage. Beck had an outdoors boy scouts theme. It was part performance art, part Vaudeville. He even paid one guy to run in place most of the show. He also had a puppet show at Bonnaroo... sort of. The band did a short film with the puppets (poking fun at hippies), which aired before Beck took the stage.

A couple of years ago, Beck spearheaded a cool project in which he and friends covered entire albums in a single jam session. Most of it was super loose and weird as fuck, but hey, it's what Beck wanted to do at the time. He was having fun and paying homage to musicians who inspired him the most.

Beck is a Scientologist, which is just way to sketchy for my tastes. I don't know much about his personal life and don't care much. It's not like he's jumping up and down on Oprah's couch. Funny thing is that Beck might have been one of the original hipsters. He dressed pretty fucking rad for 1993. That was the pinnacle of grunge and everyone wore ripped jeans and flannel, but Beck had a unique style... retro-cowboy meets 70s pimp. These days every fucking dweeb in Silver Lake or Williamsburg dresses like Beck did in the 90s.

It's 2013 and Beck embraced more avant-garde hijinks like releasing his new album as sheet music, so it is up to his fans to figure out how the record goes. I'm sure his record label was thrilled with that idea. That's the kind of artsy stuff that give suits ulcers, but it's the kind of innovation that reminds everyone why Beck is, and always will be cutting edge.

Time fucking flies. Seems like just yesterday that Beck's Loser hit the airwaves. Man, was it really twenty years ago?