Monday, July 29, 2013

Gorge Survival Pic Dump

By Pauly
Somewhere in Southern Oregon

I survived the Gorge. Phish throws a two-day party at the Gorge and it's one of the most amazing experience of the year. They did it 7 times now (1997, 1998, 1999, 2003, 2009, 2011, and 2013) and I never missed one. Perfect blend of nature and music. Toss in 20-25K vibe chasers and you have one insane party that lasts 48+ hours.

I posted videos of both Phish concerts (complete shows) from the Gorge over at Coventry Music. Take a peek.

Here are a few pics Nicky and I snapped over the last couple of days at the Gorge...

The ladies decorated the campsite with these flurry things

Miller and Ashu 10am jam session
The Furthur bus parked on Shakedown
Phishy humor in Shakedown
Abby's photo project
Camppossum Crew
My view... with added bonus of Columbia River Gorge in background
Smoky View Nicky snapped this on Saturday after spread of Central Washington fires

Sunday morning smoke from fire was everywhere
Nicky had too much free time on her hands with her Catwang app

Saturday, July 27, 2013


By Pauly
George, WA

I woke up this morning at the campgrounds, turned on my phone and heard the bad news.

RIP JJ Cale.

Update... Watch Phish's tribute to JJ Cale with a cover of After Midnight.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Seattle Pic Dump

By Pauly
Seattle, WA

I returned to one of my favorite corners of the world... Seattle, Washington. I lived there over 15 years ago and it was one of the most content periods of my life. I'd love to move back there someday. Even Nicky warmed up to the idea of relocating to Seattle... someday. Who knows? Maybe I'll reboot Tao of Poker for a couple of years and then sell the fucker and use the proceeds to buy some property in Seattle and/or Colorado.

I hung out with some old friends, like the original Kung-Fu Tom, who tried to convince me to learn bass so we can start a funk band together called White Men Can't Funk. Johnnie also took us out on his boat as we cruised Lake Washington. Check out Nicky's vine of our boat ride.

Here are a few images from Seattle...

View from West Seattle

click on image to see bigger view

Capt. Johnnie

Nicky took this from the Bainbridge Island ferry
Trippiest painting I saw in a long time (via SAM)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Rabbit Holes, Prune Hands, and Losing Time

By Pauly
Weed, CA

I woke up on a plane after nodding out. I was snoring. My own guttural noise woke me up. Shit, what did the other passengers think? Awww, fuck them, especially the fucking suit sitting next to me hogging the arm rest. How long was I out? Five minutes, ten minutes? Where the fuck was I?

I looked at the map. The plane icon was pointed toward west. We were somewhere over Iowa. That's when I remembered... I left Chicago and was heading out west. A quick scan of my red ticket -- bulging out of my breast pocket -- clued me in on where I was headed. San Francisco. That's right. It finally all made sense.

* * * *

On New Year's Day in 2010, I stumbled into Miami International Airport while still tripping balls. We had to sprint through DFW to make our connecting flight to LAX and I knew that our luggage was going to get lost. I had not slept in two days, maybe three? But the visuals were still lingering. I got tracers every time I whizzed by a lit screen. Tendrils of random auras were everywhere. Holy shitballs, I could glimpse into people's energy fields, which was vexing in a populated place like an airport.

I stumbled into ORD early on Monday morning and my running shoes were squishy from still being wet. Most people get 6-8 hours of sleep a night. I don't think I got that much in four days in Chicago. I caught three Phish concerts outdoors and it rained every night. I had prune hands most of the weekend. I ditched half of the gear I brought because it was soaked thru. Maybe Phish are a bunch of alchemists conjuring up the rain gods? Or maybe Mother Nature hates hippies?

Airports in America are very unwelcoming places when you have to deal with the security theatre. Solemn faces. Like at a funeral. Except this represents the death of American freedom. While driving on the road somewhere in Northern California, I saw a sign that said, "Do you feel safer now that Obama is listening?"

Airports are no longer friendly places and I was utterly miserable shuffling through the caverns of ORD, stuck in the middle of a sea of suits and hundreds of overweight, over-consuming Americans on their vacation with more bags that they were technically allowed to carry.

* * * *

I missed San Francisco. It had been almost a year since my last visit. I wandered the streets of the Tenderloin. I had zombie eyes and smelled like a junkie, so I fit right in. I missed the pungent aroma of urine/feces and desperation.

I was super sleepy but had to fight off the lack of sleep for a couple more hours, when Nicky picked me up. I considered crashing in the park for an hour or slow, like all the homeless wooks up in Golden Gate Park, but by the time I got there, I'd be time to leave. I opted for a Starbucks. The big-assed tea perked me up and I thought I could write a review of the concert I had seen just 12 hours earlier. Except, I had lost my notebook during a monsoon and it was soaked through. My memory was fuzzy. Due to the rain I didn't tweet much, so I did not have much to go by. I closed my laptop and considered taking a nap in the corner, but then I'd be "that guy" and you never want to be that guy.

* * * *

Nicky picked me up in East Bay suburbs, somewhere past where Altamont was located. I had not seen her in four days but it might as well been four years. I fell down a rabbit hole, got soaked a couple of times, and was bombarded by more waves of flashbacks than ever before. The older I get, the more memories I have stored up in the bank. People enter/exit your life all the time. But when they disappear for a while and then re-appear, you can't stop the floodgates of memories. Old stories are swapped, but they're much more richer and juicier than anything we can reveal about ourselves today. I saw the first show with Senor and Boogie -- two friends from NYC at the turn of the century. I made a joke that we were the original hipsters living in Brooklyn before hipsters invaded Brooklyn. Consider us the first wave.

Nicky said I kept nodding out in the passenger seat. I was in horrible shape. I can't remember if I told her Chicago stories. I saw friends like Grubby, G-Money, Javier, and Benjo, and I may or may not have gave her the highlights of the weekend. We tried to listen to Phish's show in Toronto via a bootleg live stream. Technology is utterly amazing. My running shoes were still wet and all the intoxicants were flushed out of my system by then. I was running on vapors.

* * * *

We woke up in the shadows of Mt. Shasta. I got around 8 hours of rest, or more sleep than I got over the previous four nights. An RV of UFO hunters were situated next to a family on their vacation. How do kids today willingly want to rough it outdoors without being connected to the grid? It's nearly impossible. Heck, I was in the middle of nowhere, yet trying to check email and Yankees boxscores. Nicky gassed up the car. We ate a delicious, yet inexpensive breakfast at a diner that made us feel like we stepped back in time 40 years. Who knows what parallel universe I leaped into after tumbling down the rabbit hole in Chicago.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Phish Invades the Windy City

By Pauly
Chicago, IL

via @Phish_FTR
 Phish played three shows in three nights in Chicago. The first night was a shitshow and cancelled mid-way due to horrible weather. The second night included an additional set (three instead of two), but it rained during part of that show.

I wrote reviews of the first two shows... 7/19/13 Phishnado and 7/20/13 Make-Up.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Mother Nature Hates Hippies

By Pauly
Chicago, IL

Phish show at Northerly Island was evacuated because of a huge storm that blew into Chicago. Yanked off stage in the middle of the show. Cancelled. LULZ. read about it here.

Watch it here (after Down with Disease):

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Happy Birthday, Hunter

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Today is Hunter S. Thompson's birthday. Good time to re-watch Gonzo...

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Almost Almost

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Limbo. It's a tough place. I'm someone who wants to be doing absolutely nothing, or on a path toward something. Life is a journey, but I need to have a journey within a journey in order to feel... inspired. Sounds strange, but I need something to look forward to everyday, otherwise it's pure mayhem and anarchy or shit gets stale and I lose all motivation to do... anything concrete.

The last couple of weeks have been limbo. It's been tough trying to finish off a couple of work projects while staving off childlike feelings of anticipation of the summer.

I always watch Almost Famous before I go on a big work trip for poker, or before I hit the road to follow Phish. It's a fitting film. Heck, it's one of the Top 10 films I'll drop everything I'm doing and will watch it on TV. But it's also one of the few DVDs that I'll randomly watch... and that's not something I do often. I enjoy lushly-written films in which I can identify with different characters at different points of my life. The older I get, the more I feel like the Lester Bangs character, jaded by the rock-biz after it was getting corporatized and how music journalism got co-opted by record labels.

Anyway, that limbo feeling is slowly dissipating and it's almost time to have some fun in the sun. It's been a rather mellow and tame last few months. You can't have the ying without the yang. And vice versa.

Random thoughts on Almost Famous...

Buy the director's cut on Blu-Ray. It's called Untitled and it's roughly 30 minutes longer.

Almost Famous is set in 1973 and is loosely based on Cameron Crowe's life when he first became a rock and roll journalist (while still in high school) covering the Allman Brothers Band and the Eagles. Russell Hammond looks just like Glen Frey, while Jeff Bebe sounds just like douchey Frey.

Read Cameron Crowe's record and concert reviews from the early 70s here.

Ben-Fong Torres tried to lowball William Miller when he hired him. Initially offered him $700 for 3,000 words, but then bumped it up to $1,000 for 33 cents a word. That's $5,250 in 2013 dollars adjusted for 40 years of inflation. Holy shit... I'd love to make half that rate today. I was born in the wrong era. Would love to be a jazz critic in the late 50s or a rock and roll journalist in the early 70s.

Lester Bangs offered William Miller an assignment to write for CREEM magazine (a much smaller publication than Rollin Stone). He got $35 for 1,000 words on a Black Sabbath concert. That's 3.5 cents a word compared to 33 cents/word that Rolling Stone paid for features. 

The best song in the film is not Tiny Dancer by Elton John, but a David Bowie's cover of the Velvet Undergorund's Waiting for the Man. Don't tell Lou Reed, but it's a much better version.

Man, Philip Seymour Hoffman did such an amazing job with Lester Bangs (in a few cameos) that I wish he'd reprise the roll for a film on the life of Lester Bangs... from the days he was addicted to cough syrup and speed.... to the days he tried to form a punk band in Austin.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

No Agenda

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

The No Agenda Podcast is something that I got introduced to by @UNOlker (from This Week on Lot music podcast fame). He recommended No Agenda as a media deconstruction podcast would be right up my alley. I was living in San Francisco at the time and dabbling in activism, so it was a perfect storm for me to get into it, especially because I had huge chunks of unfettered time to listen to a three-hour long podcast... twice a week.

The No Agenda podcast is recorded live twice a week (9am-noon PT on Sundays and Thursdays). I rarely catch it live and mostly wait until later that night to download it to my iTunes. Because it's so long, I end up listening to it over 2 or 3 sessions, roughly an hour each. The last time Nicky and I drove to Vegas, we listened to an entire episode (that ran long close to 3.5 hours) and it nearly lasted the entire drive from L.A.

No Agenda is the brain child of tech writer John C Dvorak and former MTV veejay Adam Curry (who in his olde age has turned very anti-establishment and aghast at MTV). They have a 2+ hour conversations sprinkled with multiple donation segments, so the show runs around three hours. They essentially play media clips and break it down. They go after the left and the right and the middle. They don't pander to either side, which is refreshing to see someone break down media consumption into Lefty Obama-bots and Right Wing fear mongers

At first glance, No Agenda sounds totally silly with "morning zoo" hijinks and sound effects, but they are trying to be super schticky. That's the biggest turn off with getting into the podcast as a new listener... because it takes you a little while to pick up on the inside jokes and understand the quirks in their personalities. You really need to give it a couple of weeks to finally get it. It took me a while before I felt comfortable with the format and understood all their references (both obscure, personal, and pop culture). I've been listening to No Agenda podcast for a couple of years now, so it's sort of like listening to two old friends have a conversation about current events and media things. These days, whenever a large media event occurs, I can't wait to hear their take on it a couple of days later after the dust settled.

The podcast is free and independent (no advertisers), which allows them to deconstruct everything without hurting their sponsors. The readers support the podcast, so you have to sit through segments in which they list names of people who donated that day. The donators are called "show producers." Great concept. Listener supported. Allows them to do this twice a week. I can only imagine how much prep work they must do to create 6+ hours of programming week after week.

Anyway, check out No Agenda podcast and learn how to break down MSM media clips.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Vacant, Nevermore

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

The apartment sat vacant. Two months. The landlord was quick to cash our rent check this month. He had lost two months of potential income in the empty unit above us. Every day he failed to find someone new to move in, that was money out of his pocket. Two months flew by.

There were better places but for much less.... both here in the Slums of Beverly Hills and elsewhere.

The Slums of Beverly Hills is an eccentric neighborhood mixed with octogenarian cat ladies waiting to die, devout Orthodox familes (roving tribes of "Men in Black"), a smattering of Persian Jews, and more hipsters you can shake a stick at. This hood is a rather un-hip transient section of L.A. for 20-somethings waiting to move to some place nicer, once their financial situation improves or they can move in with their significant other who lives in a much cooler part of town. Shit for this price, you'd might as well have a much nice pad in the Valley, where you could live like a king.

If it was truly cool and trendy, then we couldn't afford to live there. Hence, one of the main reasons I don't live in San Francisco anymore. Maybe I can afford to return if I strike it rich in a new poker/sportsbetting boom, but until then, I'm stuck in the Slums of BeHo1.

The former tenants abruptly left. Those fucking hipsters never said goodbye. One day, violin girl and her husband (who Nicky was convinced was full-blown candelabra) were here and putting me on tilt by giving violin lessons in the space right above my office. Next thing... she was gone. Packed up and left the Slums of Beverly Hills. She came to Hollyweird on the aspiring musician trip. Instead she humped a couple of shitty jobs and gave hourly lessons to snooty kids from Hancock Park and Beverly Hills and Brentwood. They never practiced which is why it sounded like shit. Maybe that drove her crazy and she snapped?

Within the same month, violin girl and struggling actress across the alley both moved out. This is a tough town that is stained and rusted by decades of failure. The pressure got to them and they often snapped. It was better than watching reality TV. I should have set up a webcam and made a couple million. How am I going to be entertained now? How are you going to be entertained without me writing about their exploits? Both 20-something girls were full of nonstop drama. The new neighbors have big shoes to fill.

The actress had a volatile relationship with an alkie out-of-work actor and they had frequent screaming bouts that were something out of a Tennessee Williams play meets a cat-fight episode of the Real World. The violin girl and her hubby fought every few weeks, but most of the time, it was her screaming at him and saying things like "Why can't you be normal?" Yeah, deep down she knew she married a gay guy. Man, she must have been miserable and living above me was not helping anything. I'm a good neighbor because I leave you the fuck alone. I won't butt into anyone's business and I expect my neighbors to do the same. That's the thing about LA... most people are so self-involved that they don't give a shit about you. Of course, the down side to that is you can get a self-absorbed neighbor that won't stop talking about themselves. Luckily we haven't had that interaction. Mostly everyone we encountered just wants to be left alone.

The apartment sat vacant for two months. It felt good not to hear anything in the last few weeks. I was able to get a ton of reading and writing done without any interruptions (save for the fucking gardeners and landscapers with their leafblowers and hedge trimmers)  The former tenants were loud, especially the fucking cat.

For the same price, you can get something smaller (one bedroom versus two) in a hipper neighborhood on the other side of town where all the hipsters congregated. If you wanted more space, you could find a cheaper neighborhoods a few miles away in Koreatown. The vacant apartment was overpriced and without a parking space. At least a dozen other  dingbats on the adjacent streets in my neighborhood had vacancies. Every morning on my walk, I'd see new signs. Tons of places available.  Similar shitty building, similar layouts. The best units with a parking space(s) went quick, while the places that stayed on the market a little longer had some sort of problem with it (like lack of parking, or no windows, or next to a cat hoarder so it smelled like you lived in the backyard of an ammonia factory.
I heard the comings and goings of people looking at the place. The landlord failed to find someone for several weeks until one morning I noticed the FOR RENT sign was removed. He found a new tenant. Who would it be?

New neighbors is like gambling. You never know if you're going to get a neighbor from hell that plays Taylor Swift songs on repeat, or one of those silent but deadly psychopaths... you know... the "he seemed like a quiet guy... never expected him to go on a rampage like that" type.

Someone moved in. Finally. But who? I don't really know much. What I do know (20-somthing female with a cat) is not enough to fill in a post, so I'll save that discussion for another time

I haven't written much about my neighbors recently because there's nothing to report. BMW douche's mom still comes over once a week to clean his apartment, and the other neighbors are pretty quiet. The artist lady is still painting, yet I still can't remember her name. The Indian students from UCLA often cook some delicious dishes. They contribute curry and other spicy aromas to the alley, while I contribute that ole-down-and-dirty bacon smell.

Maybe the new neighbor will do something blogworthy? I hope so. I'm sure you're fucking sick of me writing about the Eagles.

1. I know it should be BeHi for Beverly Hills, but BeHo sounds much... hipper... and more hip-hop.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Around the Horn: Concert Streams, Rock Hoods, $1B for Pac Rim, Sharknados, and Dylan

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Here's what you missed over the last week:
Couch Tour, Webcasts, and Live Streams - I've embraced the ability to attended concerts without leaving my home. The technology is here to beam live streams of my favorite bands, so now I don't even have to get off the couch.

Rock-N-Roll Hood - I finished a book about the music scene from Laurel Canyon in the late 60s and early 70s. Lots of marijuana, acid, and blow.

New Yo La Tengo Animated Video - If I like the new Yo La Tengo video, does that make me a hipster? Who cares. It's a great video. Which makes me miss videos. What the fuck happened to MTV?

Giant Fucking Robots - Warner Brothers is printing money with their new film Pacific Rim. It will make a $1 billion... at least.

Sharknado, WTF?  - What was the buss all about? The hash tag #sharknado blew up on Twitter on Thursday night all because of a campy, D-rate, low budget horror film that involved Steve Sanders from 90210, Tara Reid, and a tornado of sharks invading L.A.!

Dylan the Song and Dance Man - This is the full interview that Bob Dylan conducted with the local media in December 1965 during a trip to San Francisco.

 Here's what I wrote on Coventry Music (mostly reviews of Phish shows from the last week)...
SPAC 7/7/13 Couch Tour Recap
PNC 7/10/13 Couch Tour Recap
Jones Beach 7/12/13 Couch Tour Recap
MPP 7/13/13 Couch Tour Recap
 And then there's my weekly column on the Yankees for Ocelot Sports called Bronx Bums Report.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Dylan the Song and Dance Man

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Here is the infamous Bob Dylan press conference he took part in during a visit to San Francisco in December 1965, where he admits he's a "song and dance man." He gives very brief answers for the first 15-20 minutes,  often joking around, but then opens up a little after that. He also chain smokes the entire time.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Sharknado, WTF?

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Approximately 33% of all tweets in America on Thursday night mentioned: "Sharknado WTF?"

Sharknado almost broke Twitter. I had no idea about it until I saw a lot of people discussing it. Well, fuck... if it's clogging up my timeline it must be important and significant, right?

Sharknado.... a tornado of sharks. A horrible B-horror film starring Steve Sanders from the original 90210 and Tara Reid. With the title, you know what you're getting. This is not some sort of naval gazing exercises with random shots of the ocean (I'm looking at you PTA)

Sharks invading L.A. I love this type of high concept movie.

Low budget. Most of the money went to hiring Ian Zering and Tara Reid, and all of that money was sent directly to Reid's plastic Surgeon in Beverly Hills and Zering's coke dealer in Silver Lake.

Mean Gene mentioned that Sharknado was a more popular topic on Twitter, more so than the night Bin Laden was killed. Welcome to... Zero Dark Sharknado.

Sharkndao was an event made for Twitter. The stream was going so fast that you couldn't keep up. Thousands of tweets a second. The tweets were 10,000% funnier than the movie itself.

Movie was so bad... it's must-see TV. Like a car accident on the freeway. You know it's gonna suck is Tara Reid is in it (sure, she did two good flicks and wasn't a factor in either -- American Pie and the Big Lebowski). We didn't tune in to see her. We wanted a campy shark apocalypse.

Sharknado? It delivered. Absolutely 100% pure Americana trash. I can't wait to see it again.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Giant Fucking Robots

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Pacific Rim is going to make a billion dollars.

"It's hot outside. I think I'm gonna smoke some dope or pop some pills and watch GIANT FUCKING ROBOTS!"

That's America talking. Not me. Every pothead from Maine to Oregon to Florida to Arizona will eventually get so fucking bored out of their minds (the result over over-stimulation and 35,000 cable channels, multiple movie streaming services, torrents, and YouTube) that they'll finally give in to temptation and go see Pacific Rim.

Giant fucking robots.

This film by Guillermo Del Torro is why drugs were made. Enhancing the theatre experience. Get fried to the tits and watch San Francisco get destroyed while giant robots fight giant monsters. It will be a battle for the ages. It will be brash, abhorrent, cheesy, and over-indulgent violence with tons of shit blowing up. Pacific Rim is the prefect representation of America in 2013.

I can't wait to fucking see it.

I have a fetish for bad films. I love Michael Bay for this specific reason. For every Woody Allen film I adore, there's a cheesed-out flick with tons of shit blowing up. I'm a bookworm and don't normally watch a lot of TV, so every once in a while, I want to see a bunch of shit exploding. It's pop culture junk food. Mindless entertainment so I can space out for 90 minutes without worrying about dialogue, structure, and third act denouements.

But giant fucking robots? This is what America has been waiting for. This summer has been a fucking wake-up sign to major studios in Hollywood. Three big films with three huge stars tanked. If those actors can't pull in audience, what will?

Fast cars and giant fucking robots.

The Evil Rat took a bath on The Lone Ranger. Anyone younger than me doesn't know who the fuck the Lone Ranger is. That's why no one went to see the flick. Who the fuck cares? Why the hell would The Evil Rat wanted to re-boot a franchise that saw its glory days in the 50s? They should have done a modern adaptation and incorporate the drug war and Mexican cartels. But Johnny Depp made a deal with the devil which is why he never ages, but his kitsch has hit the wall. His depiction of Tonto isn't exactly flattering, but he hasn't been able to shake Hunter Thompson after playing him in Fear and Loathing. Seems like every character since then from Jack Sparrow to Tonto has had shades of Hunter with a sprinkling of Keith Richards. It was funny and clever the first time in Pirates of the Caribbean, but after a while it gets old. The Evil Rat must have printed a trillion dollars with that franchise, but they couldn't get The Lone Ranger off the ground. At least they didn't bother trying to tell a sci-fi story that's thinly veiled about Tom Cruise's cult, or try to pull off "Die Hard at the White House."

But, giant fucking robots? That's genius. Robots fighting monsters. This is something that a four year old would make up in a stick figure drawing. Hollywood fucking loves high concept films that are derived from the innocence and imagination and simplicity of a child.

Giant fucking robots fighting giant fucking monster. Shit, let's make 3 films and print $3 billion! The suits at Warner Brothers are walking around with erections so stiff they have to consult a physician.

At some point in the next week, I am going to get baked to the gourd and see giant fucking robots. It will be loud, obnoxious, cheesy, and cliche-ridden... and represent everything I loathe about the motion picture industry... but sometimes, you gotta go with the flow.

If you can't beat them, join them. Here you go, Mr. Warner brothers... take my $13 bucks.

Giant. Fucking. Robots.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

New Yo La Tengo Animated Video

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Even if you don't like Yo La Tengo, this is a pretty cool animated video. Makes me miss the days of MTV when they actually showed videos.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Rock-N-Roll Hood

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I saw Laurel Canyon: Inside Story of Rock-n-Roll's Legendary Neighborhood in numerous bookstores and airports over the years. It was hard not to miss the cover. I must've picked it up dozens of times and thumbed through it. I never bought the book. I didn't love the bands and musicians mentioned (I dug Neil Young and was curious about Zappa, but not so much the Byrds, Eagles, Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne and Crosy Stills and Nash), so I always passed on it. But that was then. Over the last few months, I immersed myself in early 70s rock and roll. I blame the Eagles documentary for luring me into the scene. Once you do down the rabbit hole... you get sucked all the way through the vortex. I quickly realized that I was neglecting an integral part of rock and roll history. Even if I didn't like those musicians from that time/place, many of the musicians I do like were deeply affected by what was going on in Laurel Canyon in the late 60s and early 70s.

NYC, Detroit and Nashville were the music hubs for most of the 50s and 60s. Los Angeles was sort of an afterthought. It was so far away geographically and culturally from the music scene that it became its own scene. Nestled up in the hills of Hollywood, Laurel Canyon was nearly hidden to the rest of the city. It's its own wilderness.

By the early 60s, Laurel Canyon was a super shitty place to live. Most of the wealthier residents lived in different parts of the hills (like Benedict Canyon), so Laurel Canyon is where most of the kids ended up when they arrived in Los Angeles, paying cheap rents in dilapidated homes that many Hollywood stars and industry types lived in during the 20s, 30s, and 40s. Hippies flocked to the hills in the later part of the 60s and for a short time, Laurel Canyon became a utopia for music, peace, love harmony, and the epicenter for counterculture in Southern California.

Hardcored hippies lived in San Francisco. The kids who wanted to hit it big in the music industry gravitated to Los Angeles, the crossroads between art and commerce. Record companies were looking to capitalize on counterculture and if you were somewhat competent in the late 60s and early 70s then you had a shot at a potential recording contract. Back then, there was enough money floating around that any company will give you one shot... but that's what you got... one shot. Heck, even Charles Manson was vying for a record contract. When it fell apart, he went on his rampage.

In a short period of time, the denizen of Laurel Canyon became superstars. The first wave of fame hit the Byrds. The original line-up was short lived and David Crosby got kicked out of the band. They were the first batch of musicians to really strike it big and drive around in fancy cars. It seemed to be the antithesis of hippie counterculture... you didn't make art for money so it could be exploited by the man. But eventually the ethos of the 60s gave way to the indulgences of the 70s. Kiss acid, weed, and shrooms goodbye and hello cocaine Quaaludes, and heroin.

The book seemed like a long rambling commentary on the music scene, especially its favorite meeting place -- The Troubadour. The author purposely wanted his sentences to seem long and windy like the Hollywood hills. Along the way, some myths are debunked (like Mama Cass dying after choking on a ham sandwich) while others are glossed over (all the secret caves and tunnels that led to different mansions where supposedly occult rituals took place 20-30-40 years earlier). But the book is broken into two parts with the second part focusing on the darkside of cocaine. the guys in the hills were the cocaine cowboys. The musicians, like the Eagles, were raking in big bucks and blowing it all on... blow. Some of the best tracks from your favorite classic rock songs were cut while crocked to the tits on cocaine, but most of the band broke up because of problems associated with cocaine abuse.

Anyway... I finally found this book for next to nothing at a used store and picked it up. I finished reading it in a couple of days. The reading went quick, but I spent endless hours listening to different sounds and bands mentioned in the book. It's a nice walk down nostalgia lane, especially if you're someone who is a baby boomer and grew up listening to many of those artists.

If anything, the book made me realize that I'm living in L.A. in the wrong decade. Plus, I wish I could afford the rent in Laurel Canyon. I always thought it would be cool to live up in the Hills for a year or so and write a book. At this point, that's a pipe dream. If I had 4K to blow on rent, I'd sure as hell be moving to back to San Francisco, or could afford to live in Amsterdam.

The gang that did the Eagles documentary should do a 10-hour long docu-series (like Ken Burns' Jazz) on the Laurel Canyon music scene and then do another docu-series on the Bay Area music scene from the same era. I'd definitely watch that shit.

Check out the BBC documentary on the Laurel Canyon music scene.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Couch Tour, Webcasts, and Live Streams

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I watched two sets of Phish from upstate New York, then listened to a set of Widespread Panic from a ski resort in Alta, Wyoming, then capped off the evening listening to John Scofield's late night set at High Sierra music festival in Northern California. I did all of this without leaving my couch. Three bands. Three time zones. The future is here. Welcome to couch tour.

Couch tour brings live concerts to you. It's perfect for broke fans (teenagers, college kids, recently divorced dudes who's ex-wife had a much better lawyer) or older fans with responsibilities (jobs/kids) or shut-ins/social misfits. This new facet of our culture allows music enthusiasts to listen/watch streams of their favorite bands and music festivals. Not taped shit. Live. As close to the real life experience without being there. Live performance without a net zapped right into your living room.

Now you don't have to camp out with 60,000 sweaty souls and get eaten by bugs in the middle of fucking Tennessee to catch Bonnaroo.

Now you don't have to wade through a sea of tight, skinny jean wearing malcontents at Coachella.

Now you don't have to worry about a burnout acid casualty dance uncontrollably in front of you at a Panic show.

In the last two weeks, I listened to more Widespread Panic than I did in the last two years. Maybe that's pushing it, but it's definitely close. Panic is a band one of my dorm mates (Wilkins) introduced me to during the first week of school. Twenty years later, I stumbled upon a site called My friends who are Spreadheads were well aware of Panic Stream, a site that provided free ad crisp audio streams of Widespread Panic concerts. In the last two weeks, I listened to four shows at Red Rocks (three free streams and one paid webcast) in Colorado and parts of four shows at a random festival in the mountains of Wyoming. Real time, too. Pretty rad concept. The band usually came on right after I was done with work for the day and ready to unwind with some baseball. Panic was the perfect soundtrack to the Yanks.

Friends from Colorado went to the Red Rocks shows, so I was listening along with them while I followed whatever they posted on social media. Widespread Panic webcast one of the shows, but they charged $25. I got all of this free music through Panic Stream (which is not affiliated with the band, but they somehow get patched into the soundboard and deliver high-quality audio), so I felt compelled to buy the webcast. Plus, I knew I wouldn't be able to see any shows this tour (they're not coming through California and several friends tried to get me to see them in Las Vegas... the farthest west that this tour takes them... but I couldn't pull the trigger one week before I'm supposed to hop onto Phish tour) so I figured $25 was a worthy investment for a webcast. Tickets were around $50. Nicky and I got three hours of music for $12.50 each, or the price of a movie ticket at The Grove. If I caught Panic in person, it would run me and Nicky $100 minimum to see the show, not including travel expenses and miscellaneous costs (hey, weed is legal in Colorado now!). Oh, and then there's the elements to brave for an outdoor show like rain or sweating your balls off, and if you're stuck at the top of Red Rocks, the sound gets muddy on a windy night.

The best part about watching a concert from home is not having to deal with all the drunks and wastoids. I'm all about letting loose and having a good time, but I see too many people who cannot control their buzz. Sure, you're never going to fade your fair share of kids getting complete shitfaced and blotto out of their minds -- been there and done that -- but the saddest cases are guys/gals my age and older who are trying to relive their old glory days and party like their 22 years old. They get out to a fiery start but then they crash hard and its a total shitshow. At home, I'm the most fucked up person in the room, so if there's going to be a shitfaced moron talking throughout the show, then it's gonna be me.

Nothing can beat the visceral experience of a really good concert, but I only see a small fraction of music today that I used to see a decade ago. Weird that I can afford to see more stuff than in my 20s, but I don't, mostly because I don't like seeing shows in L.A. where the crowd sucks and filled with hipsters posting selfies on Instagram and checking in on Facebook and talking their asses off after doing key bumps in the grimy bathroom.

It's 2013 or fifty years after the Beatles hit the airwaves. Baby boomers only had the radio as an outlet for music. Big concerts were few and far between in the mid-60s. You had tiny clubs and the occasional hall. It wasn't until the man saw how much money the record companies and radio stations were making off of the creativity of musicians by bilking teenagers, willing to spend money on records as a form of entertainment and/or means to look cool. Eventually, promoters wanted a cut of the juicy pie and they staged huge rock-n-roll concerts and music festivals. Concert promotion was a booming business in the late 60s and early 70s, and it still is 40-50 years later. The recording industry is on life support and terrestrial radio is lying in a hospice, but if you're a band or musician who has a good live act down, then you'll always be able to grind out a living.

Technology brings live concerts to you. Beamed into your living room, or onto your laptop, or ipad or mobile phone.

It's mind-blowing in one way. Bands/festivals embracing cutting edge technology are giving back to the fans without being exploited by the man.

If you happen to have problems with large crowds then you can still enjoy the live concert experience without falling victim to your phobias. Heck, I love going to concerts, but sometimes those massive crowds can be a bit overwhelming. That's why the home experience is a compelling alternative. The older I get, webcasts become a more enticing alternative. Why go to Coachella and the middle of the fucking desert when I'd rather stay at home and pull bong hits and not have to deal with annoying hipsters and other pretentious music dweebs?

But for now, I have the best of both worlds... I still enjoy seeing live music, but also take advantage of as much "couch tour" moments. In the past few months, we caught webcasts of music festivals like Jazz Fest, Coachella, the Hangout, Bonnaroo, and Mountain Jam. I even listened to an audio streams of the High Sierra festival the other night. Without even leaving my couch. A lazy stoner's utopia.

Phish doesn't have an unofficial audio stream. Any time we get one, it's a total bootleg and someone who is broadcasting from inside the show. Once in a while you get a very clear stream, but most of the time it's choppy. It's like being a heroin addict and getting a fix by eating a jar of Flintstones chewable vitamins.

Over the weekend, Phish webcast all three of their shows from Saratoga Spring, NY. I really wanted to go, but had an unfinished work project and I was saving my money for a fall tour. They offered up a webcast of all three shows for only $40 (or $15 each). Nothing can top being at a live Phish show, but $40 was a small price to pay for a crystal clear webcast (HD video compared to choppy audio from guerrilla tapers). The band is not getting any younger. I hope they can work out a deal and webcast every show, or at least figure out an audio broadcast. It'd be cool if it was free like PanicStream, but I dig Phish so much that I'd subscribe for a subscription service that gives every webcasts. I'd even pay twice as much as I do for or NBA Season Pass. I heard the band is working on something... but who knows what they'll end up with.

In the meantime, I continue to chill out and wait for someone (or the Twitterverse) to remind me there's a good show being broadcast somewhere. Unless you're raging proper at a concert, then any night is a good night for couch tour.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Around the Horn: BRF Doc, Trey PBS, Linklater, RIP RSS, and Hotel California

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Light week. I was busy with other work and then took a couple of days off for the holiday (Nicky had off too). Most of the stuff I did was over at Coventry (traffic has been sick), but here's what you missed on Tao of Pauly...
Watch Bet Raise Fold - This documentary on the online poker book was officially released to the public. You can get an online download for only $9.99. I appear in a couple of scenes explaining random things about the poker boom.

Trey PBS Interview - PBS did a segment on Trey Anastasio. It was only a couple of minutes long, but here's the extended interview with my guitar hero.

Linklater's Sappy 'Before' Movies - I saw Richard Linklater's most recent film Before Midnight. When I was in college, I wanted to be the next Richard Linklater (at the time he had done Slackers and Dazed and Confused). These days, he's collaborating on films that feature the same two characters from two previous films.

Dazed and Confused and the Fourth of July - Speaking of Linklater, here is a clip from one of his films (set in 1976).

Hotel California Documentary on 70s Music Scene in L.A. and Laurel Canyon - I included a link to a full documentary about the music scene in LA in the early 70s. Yes, I'm obsessed with the 70s music scene in L.A.

RIP Google Reader - I already miss my all-time favorite RSS reader. My usage of Google Reader drastically changed over the years as my interests and hobbies were constantly in flux from poker to finance to silver conspiracy theories to UFO forums to Occupy to sportsbetting to modern art to indie music.

I only wrote one thing for Ocelot Sports (@OcelotSports) this week... it's my weekly "Bronx Bums" column about the Yankees: 6/30 Report: Sinking to Fourth Place and 7/7 Report: Yanks Lose 5; Then Win 6 in a Row.

I wrote a couple of "couch tour" recaps of two Phish shows. Here's some of the content over at Coventry (@CoventryMusic)...
Flashback: 2012 Summer Tour, Part 1 - Phish played 33 shows last summer. I caught 24 of them. Here is a rapid-fire review of multiple Phish concerts I saw. Part 1 covers 14 concerts in Atlantic City, NJ > Cincinnati > Pittsburgh > Cleveland > Deer Creek, Indiana > Alpine Valley, Wisconsin > Jones Beach, NY > Saratoga Springs, NY...

Flashback: 2012 Summer Tour, Part 2 - The second part covers the second half of summer Phish tour in Long Beach, CA > San Francisco, CA > Atlanta > Charlotte > St. Louis > Denver. I got tons of material for a new book.

Monday Morning Key Bumps: Ghost-Boogie On - From last year, this was one of my favorite moments with Ghost segueing into a cover of Stevie Wonder's Boogie On Reggae Woman.

Couch Tour Review (and Setlist): 7/3/13 Bangor, Maine - I didn't attend the start to Phish's summer tour but I got to hear an audio stream while sitting on my couch. I wrote a quickie review of what went down.

Couch Tour Review (and Setlist): 7/5/13 SPAC - Phish played the first of a three-night run at SPAC. They webcast these shows and Nicky and I watched them from our couch. Way cool. Phish also played a couple of new songs.

Couch Tour Review (and Setlist): 7/6/13 SPAC - Here's another review of Phish's second concert in Saratoga.

Also, check out videos for the new Phish song -- Yarmouth Road. They also covered an Apples in Stereo song -- Energy. Links to other random videos can be found here.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

RIP Google Reader

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Blogs are a thing of the past. Like dinosaurs, Charlie Sheen's "winning", and Tae Bo.

Even Google is leaving them in the dust. Google Reader ceased operations at the end of June. I was not an early adopter. I was a huge fan of Bloglines, until that site got put out of business (by Google Reader, I believe).

I took me a while to embrace Google Reader, but when I did finally join the cult... I fucking loved it. I traveled a ton and didn't want to miss out on specific content. Google Reader was the best and quickest platform for me to catch up on the world via news and blogs... but more importantly, it allowed me to keep tabs on the poker industry, which I needed to do as a reporter and a wanna-be insider.

My reading habits fell into different cycles. Sometimes I read it constantly, or barely touched it at all. When I was on top of things and able to stay connected... I rarely stopped by Google Reader because I was already informed. But whenever I traveled or had a three or four-day bender, I needed to catch up as quickly as possible, so Google Reader was always reliable. A perfect index.

I always felt like whatever content I published )on different blogs) wasn't official until Google Reader's spiders picked it up. I probably caught more random errors in Google Reader than when I actually wrote the original post.

When I first joined the ranks of Google Reader, the poker world dominated my life. Poker was like 98% of everything. Socially. Artistically. Current career. Future career. Gambling-wise. Dreams. Everything was poker poker poker poker poker poker poker poker poker poker poker poker poker poker poker poker poker poker poker poker. I bookmarked 500 different poker blogs and it was impossible to follow all of them. Eventually that list slowly got trimmed. Some blogs stopped posting. A bunch pulled the plug. A couple of asshats made it easy for me to unfollow them. But for the most part, I started growing farther and farther away from poker even though I was deeply entrenched in the scene. I emotionally detached myself from many aspects... but the first step was in my morning reader. When I curtailed poker reading, I knew that was the beginning of the end (even though it took several years before I finally took a break). I used to read poker blogs and forums for entertainment. It's the first thing I did when I woke up and it was the last thing I did before I went to bed. But right after I finished Lost Vegas, I felt as though I turned a corner artistically and accomplished everything I had set out to do in poker, but more importantly, I achieved a major life goal that I never thought would be possible... the publication of a book. My interest in poker was subsiding. I put in the necessary time for work... but whenever I had down time, I found myself getting drawn into other areas.

My hobby became a career and I needed a new hobby. Google Readers helped me cultivate my career and it allowed me to keep tabs on inspiring things and some of my favorite activities.

I frequented the poker forums less and less (unless I had to do something for work... yes, it was all work, no pleasure to sift through the static). Instead of adding more poker titles, I found myself following financial blogs, news sites and reading more economic forums. After a while I stopped playing online poker (the government outlawed it and forced my hand) and dabbled in trading silver futures. I got a gambling fix and supplemented my income. That was stressful, but fun in many ways. Hey, you didn't think I could live off of being a writer? Hell no! I was a veteran reporter and at the top of my game, but I got paid peanuts. I had to play poker, or gamble on sports, or trade silver on the side to supplement my income.

Trading silver was too stressful (ask Nicky... that was the only time in our relationship when I drank frequently) but that was around the same time I started paying more attention to different financial conspiracy sites (like Zero Hedge) and listened to Peter Schiff podcasts and religiously watched the Max Keiser Report. Those were gateway drug to general conspiracy sites. A new category popped up in my Google Reader.... conspiracy fodder and UFO forums. I was researching a potential screenplay, but it was also fascinating to see so many people completely detached from reality, yet what if one or two of them were actually right? Talk about a mind fuck. I also got involved in Occupy when I lived in San Francisco, but after I attended one March and spotted the FBI and other law enforcement agencies taking everyone's photos, I got a little freaked out. The last thing I needed was being added to a watch list or a drone hit list! I slowly stepped away from the conspiracy forum-tards and found a new hobby.

Last year, I jumped head-first into Tumblr and found a bunch of cool sites. Mostly images and different art. It's weird. I spent a lot of time looking at photos and paintings.... through Google Reader. It was like a trip to the museum... but from the confines of my own home. On the flip side... I also loaded up on sports stuff and sportsbetting sites. The last two years have been a battle between sports (and poker) vs music (and art). Sports edged out the arts... slightly. But, I'm adding more and more music blogs/websites/tumblrs over the last six months.

I forgot that I had a Netvibes account. They bought out Bloglines and I had some old feeds still running. It's not as cool as the OG bloglines. I took a peak at "OLD Reader" but it had some flaws. Looks like I'm using Feedly... for now.

RIP Google Reader.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Hotel California Documentary on 70s Music Scene in L.A. and Laurel Canyon

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I was born in the wrong decade. I got hooked on the early 70s L.A. music scene... not the music per se, but the history of the scene. Check out this documentary Hotel California: L.A. from the Byrds to the Eagles. It gives a decent overview of who emerged from the Laurel Canyon music scene (CSN, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne, Frank Zappa and eventually those fucktards in the Eagles).

Musically speaking, if I could go back and time and live whenever... I'd pick NYC in 1950-51 and San Francisco in 67-68. I'd love to get beamed to NYC in the early 50s to catch a glimpse of Coltrane and Miles Davis and the rest of the jazz greats of that era. I'd love to fall down a rabbit hole and emerge in San Francisco in the late 60s for obvious reasons (pure liquid sunshine by Owlsley and the Grateful Dead as the house band for different acid tests). By I've been slowly gobbling up as much history of the music scene in Los Angeles in the early 70s. Man, I'd love to hang out in the Hollywood Hills in 1973-74 for the blow and to catch a glimpse of rock and roll bands (that currently fill up the classic rock dial) at the height of their powers. Other eras I'd love to live in for a few months would be... NYC in the late 70s for punk, Detroit in the early 60s for Motown, and Minneapolis in the early 80s for the American new wave scene. Unfortunately, I lived in Seattle in the post-grunge era in the late 90s, which was in the middle of a neo-post-punk renaissance. I clearly missed the boat. I was born in the wrong decade.

I'm also currently reading... Laurel Canyon: Inside Story of Rock-n-Roll's Legendary Neighborhood. As soon as I'm done, I'll try to write a review.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Dazed and Confused and July 4th

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Love this clip from Dazed and Confused about the real origins of the Fourth of July...

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Linklater's Sappy 'Before' Movies

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

When I was in college, I saw two films that convinced me I wanted to become a director and make movies -- Richard Linklater's Dazed and Confused and Quentin Tarrantino's Reservoir Dogs. Both were young filmmakers who are still around making movies twenty years later. One went full-blown Hollywood, while the other retained his indie street cred.

After Dazed, Linklater made a sappy film about love called Before Sunrise. Typical American male fantasy -- boy (Ethan Hawke) meets a French girl (Julie Delpy) on a train in Europe and then bangs her in a park. The entire film took place in less than a day. Lots of walking and talking amidst breathtaking shots of Vienna. If anything Linklater captured the quintessential Gen X angst that washed over many of us in the bleak early 90s.

Nine years later in 2004, Linklater revisited those same two characters in Before Sunset. Yeah, he made a second film that takes place in a single day, but a decade has passed between the two original characters, who are walking and talking and walking through the streets of a majestic European city. That time it was Paris.

Flash forward nine years later. In 2013, Linklater released Before Midnight, which is a third film featuring the same two characters. Walking and talking. This time in the Greek Isles. As Nicky sad, "That movie should be called This Is 45."

Three movies. Three days in the life of two characters. When they're 23, 32, and 41. Quite clever. 

I loved the first film. I was indifferent with the second one. But the third one hit home. I couldn't tell if I loved or hated it. If I wanted to see two adults having an argument about their relationship, then I would just videotape me and Nicky fighting about stupid stuff. Most people go to the movies to escape. But in that instance, Linklater sort of held up a mirror on the audience. Sure, it was hard for me to relate with the characters because they had kids and I don't. But since we're all roughly the same age, the other stuff about sacrifice, careers, and relationships really hit home. Hard.

We're not married in conventional terms, but Nicky and I have been together for over seven years now. Man, has it been that long? It certainly feels like a marriage. Anyone who's been in a successful marriage will tell you... it takes a lot of work and sweat on both sides to flourish and maintain a consistent level of happiness.... and even then there's no guarantee. With regard to 'friends', you can slack off for weeks, months, or even years... and not really tend to those relationships, yet you can still have a strong and unflappable bond. That doesn't quite work in long-term relationships, especially if cohabitation is involved. Sometimes it's easy to just switch on the auto-pilot and sleepwalk through life. But if you do that with your spouse or significant other, then you're setting yourself up for a disaster. Just because you're on autopilot doesn't mean you can't crash.

Anyone can get married. It really takes two dedicated, patient, and understanding people to truly make it work.

I expect Linklater to make another film in 2022 and by then the same characters will be 50 or so. And maybe a fifth film again in 2031... if they're all still competent actors and Ethan Hawke hasn't become a heroin addict and Julie Delpy is a pill-popping alkie lush.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Trey PBS Interview

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

You might make an obvious assumption that my biggest influences are a handful of writers. That might be true to an extent, but it might sound weird to you that I'm more inspired and influenced by musicians and painters as a whole, more so than writers.

It's strange, I know.

Then again, I'm like a sponge that soaks up every artform. That's one of the reasons I encourage aspiring artisans to expose themselves to as much fodder that they can process. Books. Paintings. Films. Music. Nature. Whatever.

I also feast on pop culture. Most days I'm squandering my time delving into retro-pop-culture from my youth and early teens. I soak up as much as I can. High art. Low art. Shit in between and totally sideways. Sometimes nothing sticks. Sometimes it takes a while before something resonates with me. Sometimes I can shake the buzz. You know what I'm talking about. That buzz... that just fucking blows you away and you can't get enough of it.

Here is an interview PBS conducted with one of my heroes, Trey Anastasio....

Trey isn't even my most favorite member of Phish, but over the last couple of years, I've grown a deeper respect for him probably because we share the same demon -- an affinity for pills. It's been an up and down battle for me, but Trey has been completely sober for a couple of years. So many other premier guitar players (e.g. Joe Walsh, Eric Clapton. Jerry Garcia) pissed away their prime years because they were completely wasted and bogged down in crippling addictions. Trey sobered up in time to enjoy his peak years. I saw a couple of shows last summer where I got to witness the pinnacle of Trey's musicianship. I hope Trey stays sober and we can get another 5 more solid years of Phish and maybe stretch out another decade of the Phish.

Shit, I hope I can still bring it as a writer in the next decade. But on days when I'm struggling to find the right words or doubting my ability, I'll crank up a Phish bootleg, which fires me up and puts me in a groovy headspace to write.

This is one of those songs that gets me pumped up. It's vintage Trey from a show in Prague in 1998...

Monday, July 01, 2013

Watch the Bet Raise Fold Documentary

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Bet Raise Fold is official available. Learn about the history of online poker in America. Watch this documentary film online for only $9.99.

I make a cameo in his documentary. I'm listed as one of the "interview" subjects. I got interviewed twice -- once in Las Vegas in 2011 and in Los Angeles in 2012 -- but they did not use any footage from the first interview. They recorded the second interview in my dining room, which is why you see some liquor bottles in the background in a couple of scenes.

You can also buy a DVD version of Bet Raise Fold. More details here.

Here is the official trailer: