Wednesday, August 28, 2013

When Flying Monkeys March Through the Flooded Streets Like Saints

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Flying monkeys.

It's a Wizard of Oz thing. First time I ever saw that flick, I had nightmares about flying monkeys. I must've been five or six years old. Perpetually scared that an armada of flying monkeys would swoop into my apartment in the middle of the night and steal me away from my family and drag me to a cave underneath the Palisades.

Something about flying monkeys that is very anti-catholic. It's almost something out of the bible. Like Satan's army of flying monkeys that he put into action to fight angels in a bloody battle to the death.

Fighting for our hearts and minds.

Flying monkeys win. Most of the time.

Now, if I ever see flying monkeys, my immediate thought would be... Who the hell slipped me a tab of acid? I must be tripping, right, only way I could see flying monkeys is on psychedelics.

Unless of course it's the obvious. That the Armageddon and Jesus showed up with an army of flying monkeys to help sort out Judgement Day. You figure that the Lord Almighty would outsource the security aspect of the Armageddon to a bunch of rent-a-cops... er, min-wage flying monkeys. They'll handle traffic jams and all media requests. Archangels are more like special forces and Jesus tasked them with more serious responsibilities and missions during the Second Coming, such as rubbing out high-profile sinners (Every Kardashian and anyone with a Lady GaGa record) and religious leaders (like any TV evangelist, Dick Cheney, and Paula Dean).

Last time I made a half-baked flying monkey joke in Vegas, someone got a little sand in their vagina and bitched and moaned about how insensitive I was. Too bad. It was a pretty fucking funny joke too.

I made flying monkeys reference to a friend a few months ago. We were making fun about billionaires so rich they could afford their own island. No one will ever be rich enough to own all of Manhattan Island, but you never know. Supreme power is possible if you can harness the power of an army of flying monkeys. No one expects the Spanish Inquisition. Same could be said about the flying monkeys.

Who needs drones when you can have flying monkeys patrolling the skies above Gotham?

Or how about Flying Monkeys vs. Drones? Now that would be a silly, yet sick video game. The monkeys have swords and a few Jedi-like monkeys have light sabers. They swat slower drones out of the sky while the speedy drones decimated entire flocks of flying monkeys with their advanced weaponry.

Until... one of the flying monkeys figured out how to hack the drones. And then the flying monkeys took out whoever was controlling the drones... Dick Cheney's brain... floating in a jar with a mixture of formaldehyde and liquid cocaine.

When you're Dick Cheney, you have access to high-grade pharmaceutical cocaine. Top shelf. Anything inferior? And Cheney shoots your face off.

In the drones/flying monkey sequel... Dick Cheney's pickled brain cloned itself and he's trying to create a super-weapon to destroy rebel Flying Monkeys hiding out on an ice planet on the edge of the galaxy.

I don't have any ideas on a third film. I ran out of cocaine. Time to end this chicanery.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Real World LA Flashbacks: Cowboy Guy, Drunk Irish Dude, and the Chick Who Got Knocked Up By Kenny Anderson

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

1994. My friend Mophy told me about the Real World. "It's these kids living in a house out in LA and everything gets filmed."

Mophy lived off campus and had cable TV. We didn't have cable in my fraternity house and I got four or five fuzzy channels including the "Superstation" TBS (because we lived in Atlanta). In the early 90s, TBS only aired Braves games and Andy Griffith. Instead of TV, we watched a ton of movies (VHS tapes) and played video games (NHL 94, Mortal Combat, PGA Tour).

I hung out at Mophy's apartment and bonged out and watched my first episode of reality television that's wasn't COPS. I missed the first season (New York), but got my feet wet with the second season. The house was in Venice. Seven strangers. Getting wasted in front of cameras. The cast of the Real World: Los Angeles (Venice) were still the guinea pigs. That was 20 years ago.

Nowadays, everyone gets their own reality show. That's the updated version of Andy Warhol's fifteen minutes of fame. In the 21st Century, at some point you will appear on a reality show.
Real World LA had an interesting cast of characters. One of the girls (Beth from Cleveland) was an aspiring actress and she became the first smarmy character to manipulate and really work the cameras in hopes of it getting her big break. Most reality show participants have aspiring show biz dreams, but what they don't realize is that their reality show is the pinnacle. It's as good as it gets. Very rarely do they break out into sitcoms and feature films. Otherwise, they get recycled on other reality shows. It's like being a baseball player who had a cup of coffee in the pros, but gets stuck dicking around the minor leagues for the rest of their career.

What reality stars du jour never realize is that they'll never get more famous than that moment. It's all downhill. Fast and steep hill down too. I found that out the first week I started dating Nicky and we went out to a ritzy sushi joint in West Hollywood. An Oscar-winning author sat on the patio (Nicky and her boss had referred to him as "frog face") and one of the Red Hot Chili Peppers sat two tables down from us. But it was the pretty girl at the bar that caught my eye. She was a former cast member of Road Rules (another MTV reality show) and like most aspiring actors, she showed up in LA and got a harsh dose of reality. Unable to book any commercials or roles, she turned to bartending to make ends meet.

One minute your face is splashed all over MTV and the next you're pouring drinks for one of the Chili Peppers and an Oscar winner. Hollywood is a tough fucking town, especially for reality stars... the red-headed stepchildren of the entertainment biz.

Tami, one of the Real World Venice cast-members, was called an NBA groupie by Chuck Klosterman in his infamous essay about the Real World (he was comparing archetypes from St. Elmo's Fire). When I watched the show on Mophy's couch in 1994, Tami was an aspiring singer in a waterered-down, third-rate knock off of Destiny's Child. When the singing career never went anywhere, she looked to NBA players for a fat paycheck as one of their "baby's mama." She even married Kenny Anderson1 who was like a god among mortals. Kenny Anderson was one of only two highly-touted teenagers2 that I was super geeked out to see in real life.

In the "small world department of six degrees of Kevin Bacon", one of my roommates (when I lived in Brooklyn) was from the same hometown in Kentucky as the "Cowboy Guy"country singer who always wore a cowboy hat. Anyway, Mophy said his favorite character was the Cowboy guy because he sat around and watched TV all day.

I identified with Dominic, the drunken Irish band manager. No stereotypes there, eh? In the first episode I saw, Dom had passed out on the beach. Shades of Three's Company when Jack Tripper tied one on at the Regal Beagle and took a nap on the beach. Dominic struck me as the kind of guy who would have been the village drunk no matter what century he lived in.

At one point they kicked out the TBG (token black guy). David Edwards was a comedian but he supposedly roughed up Tami and got booted off the show. He was the first person to get kicked off a reality show and he wasn't the last. He was replaced by a white lesbian. I loved that she showed up one day wearing a shirt that said something to the effect, "I'm not a dyke, but my girlfriend is." Beth the Lesbian (not to be confused with Beth the self-absorbed actress) freaked out Tami for some reason.

I don't remember much about the rest of the cast (and I don't want to Google it, otherwise I fall down another rabbit hole and lose 17 hours watching old episodes of the second season of the Real World). But there was some toe-head surfer dude (who looked like your typical frat boy date rapist) and there was a tough Latino chick who was a cop.

Without cable, I watched a couple of episodes of the Real World at Mophy's flat but that was it. After graduation, I stuck around Atlanta for the summer before I returned to NYC and got a job at the museum. I didn't even have a TV during my first year back from college. When I moved to Park Slope to share an apartment with Ursula (who went to high school with Cowboy Guy), I finally got a TV and cable. I recall binge-watching a Real World LA marathon and that's how I caught up all the episodes I missed. I found out MTV were airing single episodes of the first season... Real World NYC. I started taping those (ah, via VCR) and eventually caught up on the first two seasons.

In another small world situation, Ursula and I worked with a girl we called Jersey Jen (we worked with six Jens). Anyway, Jersey Jen went to high school with Eric Neis (cast member from original Real World NYC). She said Neis was kind of a dick because his father was a NBA ref and he thought he was hit shit, but his sister was really cool and laid back.

I watched the third season of Real World: London with my roommates in Brooklyn. Ursula had a huge crush on the British dude. I fancied the Australian model. But that's a post for another time. Just like the story about how I played poker with Trishelle from Real World: Las Vegas. It'll have to wait until I have more time. For now, it's back to work.

1. When I was a kid, Kenny Anderson was like a god among mortals. Anderson was the best high school basketball in NYC and maybe even the country. He snubbed a scholarship offer at UNC because he "didn't want to be a pony in Dean Smith's stable." Anderson also went to college in Atlanta... at Georgia Tech. But Emory was a DIII school so we never played Tech. Luckily I watched Anderson play a lot in NYC.

2. I've only been super excited to see an 18-year old phenom twice in my life. Once was watching Kenny Anderson scrimmage at my basketball camp (when he was a senior at Molloy), and the other was getting a first glimpse of Annette_15 (a wunderkind online poker pro from Norway named Annette Obrestad who held her own against the world''s top pros as a teenager still in high school), when she played in one of her first live poker tournaments in Monte Carlo.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Feed All the Kangaroos

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

"Steely Dan? My 12th favorite band."

Nicky was shocked... that I had a list and that Steely Dan was up so high.

Of course, I didn't. I was fucking around with her. But I'd say if I had to rank bands (no solo acts) it's around there.

"Steely Dan was in the Top 10, but they got nudged out by My Morning Jacket (10th) and LCD Soundsystem (11th). Hence. Twelve. Steely Dan. My 12th most favorite band."

There are two types of people in this world.....
1) People who like a few Steely Dan songs.
2) People who think Steely Dan sucks.
The haters are like 99% of America. Steely Dan fans are in the 1%. Which is funny, because you really have to be a One-percenter in order to afford a ticket to a Steely Dan concert at the Nokia Theatre in downtown LA. Seriously.... $295 for a pit? $175 for an orchestra? Even the cheap seats (with added costs like juice and other corporate shakedown fees) were $60 for the privileged of sitting in the last four rows of the mezzanine in the back corner of the theatre. No man's land. Where the sound was muddy and drunkards loudly talked and spilled over-priced warm beers on everyone.

I listened to a significant amount of classic rock on the radio in my teens and 20s, so at some point you cannot listen to a couple hours without hearing at least one Steely Dan song. Usually it was Peg. Sometimes you'd hear Reelin' In the Years. I always thought it was funny that Diane Court's dad from Say Anything listened to Ricki Don't Lose That Number in one scene when he was elated and driving down the street and singing along.

In college, Jerry had Steely Dan's greatest hits and he used to play it all the time because he loved Peg. That's how I learned all the lyrics. I lived next door to Jerry that year, so after the first week or so, I had Peg down. The rest? Not so much.

I was swamped with work and exhausted after finishing up a crash course on the upcoming NFL season. I had a couple (looming) deadlines, a book to read (before Monday), and a couple of fantasy drafts to prepare. But I still wanted to squeeze in a quick concert. Steely Dan. Downtown at the Nokia Theatre. I heard they were performing the AJA album -- all seven songs -- plus a smattering a greatest hits. On this summer's tour, Steely Dan performed the same setlist every show which included four songs off of AJA.

The music of Steely Dane is something of an acquired taste. About a decade ago, my friend Tony gave me MP3 copies of every Steely Dan album. I no longer just had a few single tracks. I had access to deep cuts. I didn't really dig into the archives until I moved to California a few years later. I discovered that Walter Becker and Donald Fagen from Steely Dan were displaced (writers) from NYC living in Los Angeles, which felt like another planet to them. I decided to explore their music and lyrics, especially from their AJA album, in hopes of finding someone who understood the abrasive adjustment period I was struggling with as a New Yorker lost in the shadows of Hollyweird.

The more I listened to Josie (see video above to hear it on vinyl), the more I realized it's the appropriate vehicle to described my particularly twisted NYC-to-LA experience. Eerily similar to Becker/Fagen's fish-out-of-water trip through Hollywood when they moved out here in the late 60s/early 70s. They relayed that East Coast vs. West Coast artistic and emotional struggle through various lyrics and grooves throughout the AJA album.

Nicky was not keen on going to Steely Dan. For one, she didn't like the music. The other was the crowd.

"I'd be like the youngest person there," she protested. "We'd be in a crowd of 7,000 people who are my parents' age."

When I first started dating Nicky, I used to play a lot of Steely Dan because it drove her nuts. She hated it. I mean really hated Steely Dan. I'd put on Peg and in my cheesiest disc jockey voice, I'd scream "Two for Tuesdays!" (even if it was Friday) and then when Peg ended, I'd play a second Steely Dan song. And a third. And a fourth. Until she gave up and ran out of the room. Hey, I don't give her shit for loving showtunes and singing along to Glee. Then again, she recently found out that I saw the Disco Biscuits 27 times in concert, and she was mortified. She's still processing that nugget. I'm surprised she's still with me.

She said she wouldn't go to Steely Dan (even if I paid for her ticket), but insisted that I go by myself. She'd even give me a ride downtown and drop me off.

Raging solo at Steely Dan? Yeah. No one else I know digs them as much as me (aside from Lee Jones and G-Money). I always wanted to start a Steely Dan cover band, but I always got rejected. Besides, Huey Lewis songs are much easier to play.

I have no problems going to concerts, or even movies by myself. I love the intimate feeling of being one of the only people in a theatre. And concerts? It's a lot easier moving around if you're by yourself. I'd really like to investigate different parts of the scene at the Nokia Theatre, but it was not a general admission show, I couldn't roam around.

I was eying a single pit ticket (third row, center) via Stub Hubb. The seller originally priced it at $400, or a $105 mark-up. By mid-afternoon, the seller dropped it to $300. Three hours to show time, it dropped to $275. Over the next hour, the price dipped down. First to $250. Then $225. Then $195. At that point, the seller freaked out and decided to do anything to sell it, even if he took a $100 hit. I set my baseline at $125. I just had to wait another hour until the seller got desperate and dropped it by another $50 bucks. $125 seems steep, but it's third row center and like half price from the amount that those greedheads Walter Becker and Donald Fagen were trying to milk from their (wealthy) fans. I refused to pay $275 for a pit.... but $125 was doable. When am I going to see Steely Dan again? They're old and might never tour again. I had an option... $60 in the nosebleeds with the hoi polloi, or up close with the rich hippies for only $125?

Too bad the ticket got sold ninety minutes before show time. It never came down from $195. I kept refreshing the page until the listing vanished. A fan decided that $100 discount on a third row seat was worth it. Fuck me. I had had only two choices left online... spending $150 for the far corner of the orchestra, or $60 up in the cheap seats.

Or, I could take my chances out front with the scalpers. But would there be any? Most of the pro ticket mongers would be across the street and circling Staples Arena. Taylor Swift was the hottest ticket in town. According to Lefsetz, Taylor Swift is one of the few acts that could sell out Staples for a multi-night run. Her tickets were going for $200+ online and those were shitty seats so far up that they might as well be listed as "roof tickets." Shit, anything close in the 100 levels would cost at least $400-500. I'd hate to be the dad who got stuck shelling out $1,000 on a pair of tickets.

There's a hyper-profitable demand for Taylor Swift... today. Maybe in thirty years she'll be churning out water-down, slower versions of "greatest hits" shows at small theatres. She's the "it" girl today. Who knows what tomorrow will bring. She's just one meltdown and two-week cocaine/pills/vodka bender away from beginning the second act of her E! True Hollywood Story.

That's today's music biz for you. The juicy demographics that actually spend money on concerts are older people with oodles of money to blow on bands they loves as a teenager/twentysomething, or teenagers feasting on pop music. Nostalgia acts from the 70s are one of the few ways you can get away charging $200-300 for a ticket (e.g. Roger Waters, Bruce Springsteen, Eagles or Steely Dan). Otherwise, you have to be today's mega-star du jour (e.g. Taylor Swift or Drake) in order to rake in a triple digit price tag. There's very little in between... unless you're a country act. That shit still sells. And that's why suits loved Taylor Swift. She came up through the country ranks but she had crossover appeal.

Man, I miss the days when I could see 5 bands for $5 at a divey music venue. Nowadays, those millennials have to drop $100 to hear an obnoxious kid on a laptop playing a bunch of abysmal tracks that sounds more like robots having a gangbang with a rabbit unleashing a blood-curdling scream to  as its getting skinned to death.

The drugs are getting stronger and the music is getting worse. That's the best way I can describe Skrillex.

At least I feel young at a Steely Dan concert. Sometimes at Phish shows, especially during the summer, I feel like I'm the old fart in the crowd. This is becoming troubling for me because I intend to never stop going to concerts. Then again, no matter where I go, I feel like I'm the misfit and outsider, so this is a universal feeling.

I often have random flashbacks of being 17-18 and wandering through the crowded hallways at Madison Square Garden or the Omni as the youngest person in a sea of tie-dye at a Grateful Dead show. I was like the little kid who ran away from home to join the psychedelic circus. And now 20+ years later, I'm the middle-aged balding guy at the show trying to relive old glory days. No wonder my Colorado friends poker fun at me by calling me "Brett Favre" because I'm a jaded vet ddicted to painkillers and hobbling around the parking lot.

Steely Dan? Wading through a sea of old hippies... I'm a spring chicken.

* *

Becker/Fagen discuss in lengthy detail about the process behind making AJA (recorded in 1977) in this mini-documentary...

Cameron Crowe wrote a great article about Steely Dan back when he was in his early 20s. It appeared in Rolling Stone in late 1977. Check out Steely Dan Springs Back: The Second Coming.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Story of My Life

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

This scene from Greenberg sums up me in LA...

For more about my fascination with Greenberg, check out Whiskey and Ice Cream.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Sneeze Drizzle and Beating Dead Horses

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

You never want to sneeze when you pee. I guess that was the proper way to start the day. Ahhhhhhhchoo! Followed by a drizzle. Splash.

It could have been worse.

What could be worse than urine on immaculate tile? How about the Vice President of Warner Brothers walking into the rest room and witnessing the sneeze-drizzle combo. Or how about even worse than that? The VP could have been at the urinal next to me, and I accidentally sneeze-drizzled on his sparkly shined shoes and new suit.

For fuck's sake. Those are Italian imports.

A wise soul once said (could have been Ari Gold's flunkies on Entourage), "You're not the only writer who pissed on the floor at Warner Brothers. You won't be the last."

That's the one demoralizing thing about Hollywood. When you think you did something original, some has already beaten you to it.

Then again, I look around and marvel at the fancy houses tucked away in the hills, and sneer at all those gaudy homes infesting the shores of Malibu, and I suddenly realize there's moolah to be made in recycling old themes. Recycling old shit. Repeats of old schtick.

"Beat the fuck out of that dead horse until that last goddamned penny squeezed out of its bloody ass."

I'm clearly doing it wrong.

All this time I thought the key to artistic success was originality. Creating new things. Blazing new trails. I was trying to strike gold by moving froward. It's always foolish to chase down today's fad. But instead of worrying about tomorrow's new thing, seems like there's significant amount of money to be made by going backwards.

Repeat. Reuse. Recycle. Repeat. Reuse. Recycle.

Hey, we're not saving the fucking whales here. I'm just trying to keep up this hustle while there's still a way to hustle. You might dig the written word, but it's getting harder and harder to get paid to do it. Long-form writers for hire will become an endangered species. In 18 months the network news will just be a hologram reading tweets of famous people to you. Oh wait, that's already happening... except the holograms. As soon as mega-news-corps figure out how deliver the news without humans... they'll fucking do it. Robots and holograms never whine about a raise.

I thought I was going nuts. Chasing my own shadow. Losing sleep. Lost in thought trying to create a new website next year. Trying to write a reality TV show. Trying to write a new book. I'm doing it all wrong. Instead of going forward, I need to reverse my caravan. I'll sit out the poker game for a couple more years, then reboot Tao of Poker. Old brand, but new formula! Or more like old formula, new fonts! Whatever. You get the drift. I was ready to stay away forever, but I got a change of heart.

Funny how one sneeze-drizzle can make you change your entire outlook on the world.

I got sick of writing about soulless degenerates, jaded hookers, and old people so addicted to slot machines that they're sitting in their own body fluids. But in a few years, there'll be a huge demand for those tales of desperation and depravity. Again.

Hey, I'm not proud of it... but how else am I going to make a buck? How can I write the great American novel and make up stories about the death of the American dream when all you have to do is turn on the TV and you get a healthy dose of the downfall of civilization. That futuristic dystopia is now. Welcome to the Surveillance States of America. With our friendly skies patrolled by drones that may or may not be run by rogue AI that will someday stop listening to human commands. Even my twisted mind can't compete with all the weird shit that's happening. My fiction is trite compared to what's going in the world. That's why I need to wise up and start beating up dead horses. If it's good enough for the fat cat Berbers running Hollyweird, then its good enough for me.

It comes down to timing. I need to sit out with Tao Poker another year or three. Then wait for a perfect time to go retro. It's like squatting on a fashion trend and waiting until it gets hip again.

That reminds me of a work friend from Seattle. He was into the Swing Revival that swept America in the late 90s (I blame Swingers... fucking Favreau). A couple of my housemates were curious about this Swing craze and they took dancing lessons. So did my co-worker. He and his wife signed up and became so good so fast that they were tapped to teach a beginner's class because the original class got so popular that they had to add more classes. Swing was blowing up in post-grunge Seattle. He got a brand new wardrobe including three, very expensive, vintage zoot suits he had custom made. He even created artwork (mostly concert posters) for a local "swing" big band that was a third-rate knock off of the Big Squirrel Testicle Zipperheads Voodoo Daddy, or whatever they were fucking called. Of course, this swing fad was short-lived and died around the turn of the millennium. The Revival became a faint memory. No one was interested in classes. The swing band broke up. He got divorced when his wife ran off with some dude in an "electronica" band. Worst of all, none of the clothes he wore were hip anymore. Even the first wave of hipsters that blew through Seattle post-Tech Boom wouldn't dare putting on a zoot suit. He had two choices... send his zoots to Goodwill, or hope that another Swing Revival returns and his zoots are in style once again. I hope he has a lot of mothballs.

So yeah, Tao of Poker is my zoot suit. I'm not gonna bust my ass and create a new site. I'll reboot an old one instead. Ain't broke, don't fix it. Einstein said that. Or Yogi Berra. Or neither. Maybe it was a fortune cookie or a Psalm?

Much easier to recycle an old idea. I have dozens of sites too that are boarded up relics of the past that only need a fresh coat of paint and its ready to roll. All I have to do is inject a few updated pop culture references and then deceive the readers into thinking they're getting new stories that are really formulaic bits of tripe I had already churned out a decade earlier.

Shut up and play the hits! Have I told you the last 5 pros I pissed next to? Have I told you about playing Pai Gow with (myself) until 4am and leaving after (I) went on mega-monkey-tilt and screamed at a dealer from Hong Kong?

Hopefully no one will even notice. Most of my readers are alkies and drug addicts, so many they'll be to wasted to know? By then Obama Care will kick in and everyone will be taking their government-issued Happy Pill. You'll have to wait until 2017 before Big(Pharma)Brother issue chewable Xanax in cherry and grape flavors for children (you can sill catch a decent Xannie-buzz on the kids' chewables, but only if you crush them up and snort it... obvious downside is purple boogers).

And the one or two Tao Poker purists who bitch about the recycled retro content? Well, I'll applaud them for their keen attention to detail and being able to differentiate new stuff from derivatives of derivatives. They know a hack when they see one but at that point, I won't give a shit because I'll be crocked on Government-issued Happy Pills.

Besides, I'm returning to the fray with the specific intentions of trying to be as redonklous as possible and see how far I can get away repackaging old schtick.

Like whipping a dead horse. It ain't going to be more dead than it is. You don't need an emo Scandi philosopher to tell you that. But when those whip marks dig in deep, well, that's entertainment son! Give the people what they want. Beating horses to death is how Hollywood studios rake in billions every year. If you can't beat them... join them.


Goosebumps. I get goosebumps when I think about the money truck with the Monopoly Man logo on the side that is rumbling down my street past the swaying palm trees to dump off a couple of bags of cheddar cheese Benjamins.

Oh, and I'll be introducing a new site in 2014. Just to you know... keep it real, so I can get street cred with my friends who are hardcore anarchists, and anti-Establishment militants, And those are my Wall Street friends. I haven't even talked about those Occupy-crazed hippies. But I'm sure they'll appreciate my new website...

Tao of Beating Horses to Death.

Seriously. It's called Tao of Beating Horses to Death. For brevity and Twitter, it will be @TaoDeadHorses.

I can't wait to start answering hate mail from ornery PETA furry fanatics. Those bellicose pet activists are my type of pugnacious folks. They absolutely love all animals unconditionally, but can't fucking stand people. Maybe I should join PETA? But I'm allergic to cats, so I might not pass the initiation test.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Daft Punk Will Never Play At My House In the Slums of Bev Hills

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Catch-22. No win situations. Both can suck my left nut.

If I try to fix shit around the apartment (and shit is always broken) then the landlord gets pissed. If I call him up and tell him something is fucked up, then he's pissed.

No win situation. I fucking hate no-win situations.

My strategy... I try to solve the problem myself and if I can't do it, then I call in the landlord. But plumbing is a tricky situation. I tried to study plumbing via the intertubes. You'd be amazed at what you can find jumping down the YouTube rabbit hole. I needed to develop post-collapse skills. A friend took up woodwork and carpentry a few years ago, which sounded practical and very zen-like. I opted for plumbing. When I was a kid, my uncle used to own a big plumbing company in Northern Jersey. It's sort of in my blood, right? Plus, I once worked as a plumber's assistant in Seattle. It was one of like five part-time jobs I held. The guy I worked for was from South Boston (he had a crazy accent, almost cartoon-like) and he was a huge cokehead. We used to smoke weed in his truck out of different elbows (pipe fittings). Not the best mentor to have, unless you were a total druggie like Mario and Luigi.

I anticipated a stark need for skilled workers in a post-collapse or post-Apocalypse scenario. I doubt I can fall back on the "arts" in those extreme situations. Hey, I'm not that kind of painter, although I once painted apartments with a crew of illegals for like three days before I found a better paying job. So plumbing seemed like something that could be valuable in the long term, but in the short term, it could help out in a pinch.

Our dingbat building is 60+ years old and in cruddy shape. The miserly owner cut corners, which he can do since we live on the wrong side of the Beverly Hills demarcation line. He really puts the slum in slumlord. I mean I shouldn't complain because he could be a faceless ruthless corporation like the one in San Francisco that ran Halli out of our Victorian in LoPac. Or he could a supreme SLUM lord like the cheap bastard who owns the building next door which is a total rathole and the only people who would live there are old Persian jews waiting to die, and a couple of super Orthodox families with five kids (including a wailing newborn that cries constantly) squeezed into a two-bedroom apartment.

In the last few months, I fixed the sink and a leaky shower head. These are not complicated things but not something that should require outside intervention, which is why I went ahead and did them against the wishes of the landlord. Besides, I liked doing it and needed the practice to improve upon my amateur skills. Unfortunately, I failed to fix the toilet. That fucker dates back to when JFK was still alive. I had to bring in help that time and the landlord was a pain in the ass about it.

Our sink clogged up yesterday morning. The new neighbor upstairs finally figured out you can't overload the trash disposal because that shit will back up in both our apartments. I figured wasting $20-30 on Drain-O would be useless because the landlord would never reimburse me for it. I don't have the snazzy equipment to snake a drain so I told Nicky to call up the landlord. If I call him, then he gets nervous because he fucking hates me. Bullies don't like people who stand up to them. So yeah, I really irk the shit out of my landlord because he know I call him on his bullshit. We decided Nicky would call so he'd be more likely to fix it sooner. If I called, then he would quickly rush me off the phone and then blow it off for a few days.

Of course, the landlord made us wait a full day before a plumber showed up. I didn't know how to react. He should have come over last night, but at least he didn't wait until Monday.

Plus, plumber showed up in the first hour of the three-hour time frame he gave us. Usually you always take a bad beat in those situations. If they say 11-2, then they show up five minutes to 2. Many moons ago (pre-9/11), I offered to babysit a cable installation for a friend who moved into a basement apartment in Carroll Gardens. The cable guy give me a six-hour window (11-5) and then he was a no show. The fucker lied and said he rang the bell when I was sitting on the stoop and reading an Arthur Nersian novel for 95% of those six hours (the other 5% was taking a leak, jerking off, or smoking weed... but all those activities were within earshot).

Anyway, the plumber showed up early this morning within the first hour. No nonsense. In and out. I knew he wasn't getting paid much because our landlord is a cheap mofo (I was convinced he used a plumbing service based in Tijuana just to save a few bucks... during another incident when I quizzed about a delay, he mentioned his plumber was stuck in Mexico).

I did a double take because the plumber looked like Chris Rock. Could have been his brother Luther Rock? I left Chris Rock's brother alone with the kitchen sink and watched Ancient Aliens. For ten minutes his sewer snake machine shook the entire apartment. The suit with the BMW next door was hungover and trying to sleep in, but he got woken up by the commotion.

A couple years ago we had a similar problem with the sink when new tenants moved in and found out the hardway about the trash disposal and cheap plumbing. An old Mexican plumber snaked the drain  that time. Deep clog. "Ochocino," he said over and over. This was before Ochocino changed his name, so I didn't laugh in his face. He was telling me the depth of how far the sewer snake went.... 85 feet. His machine was only set up to go 100 feet. Ochocinco.

When he was done, I thanked Chris Rock's brother about this clog. I was about to slip him a $5 tip but he rushed out the door. I couldn't palm him the cash and he was halfway down the alley when I asked how deep the clog ran. He didn't give me a number, but said, "As far back as the bathroom." That's on the other side of the apartment. I was too stoned to do the math.


Writing music: Daft Punk Is Playing At My House by LCD Soundsysem (from the 2010 London Sessions)

Friday, August 16, 2013

The (Melodious) Voice That Silenced the Machines

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I miss the actress. I should say, I miss her randomly singing. Either in the shower, or rehearsing for an audition, or belting out a number out of sheer glee.

I don't miss her disruptive arguments with her alkie boyfriend. Those were ugly and cast a negative cloud over the both of our buildings.

I forgot I had taped them battling each other during a vicious screaming match until one night in Tahoe when we were farting around recording Wook Patrol podcasts. I stumbled upon a sub-folder that housed 20-25 files. All clips of the actress. We listened to a couple, but then I felt weird about sharing those intimate moments of hell. Sure, my friends were all tripping balls and anything seemed entertaining to them, but I felt compelled to turn it off.

The arguments were frequent. Sometimes you could hear her boyfriend, sometimes not. Sometimes she did all the shouting and he was the calm and reasonable one. Sometimes he wasn't there and she was shouting into her phone. One afternoon after a protracted spat that accumulated in the boyfriend slamming the door and leaving, I overheard her leave seven consecutive voicemails inside of a 30 minute period. I think his voicemail would only allow a message up to 4 minutes. She maxed it out every time and when she got cut off, she re-dailed and ranted for another 4 minutes before she got cut off and repeated the process.

I wrote about her a lot. Like in Monday Morning Lurid Gaze or The Actress Took Down the Curtains, or Three Empty Apartments. And now that she's been gone for a while, I miss her... singing.

Sometimes I think the Slums of Beverly Hills is the most boring neighborhood in Los Angeles, which is something I need in order to focus on writing. Isolation and serenity is a positive thing because I get distracted by too many sparkly things. When I lived in San Francisco, even though the LoPac wasn't the hippest neighborhood, there was still a bunch of stuff going on to keep me engaged. Even when I lived in Vegas, I was usually in the burbs (Henderson or Summerlin) but only 5-10 minutes away from a locals' casino and had plenty of chances to get into trouble. But Vegas is one of the loneliest places on the planet, especially when you wander through a maze of slot machines and surrounded by pathetic losers hopelessly addicted to being a loser. I used to think gambling addicts were addicted to gambling, but now I think a large percentage of them are addicted to losing. Makes me think about the actress. She wasn't addicted to drama, she was addicted to dating pretty boy losers because they made her feel like shit, a feel that she sought after more than the adulation of adoring fans, which every actress seeks out.

Jesus, I hate to fucking quote Jim Morrison, but here I am... "People are strange."

I'm surrounded by strange freaks. In San Francisco, I was pretty well adjusted all things considered (like having to worry about stepping on human grenades -- yes, piles of feces), but for such a lame/tame neighborhood in Los Angeles, it's fucking noisy. Mostly with vapid neighbors trying to keep up appearances by getting their yards cut. The manicuring process is never done in an orderly fashion and it seems like 30 different lots are serviced by 30 different landscaping crews. The mornings are filled with the commotion of nonstop leafblowers and hedgecutters. Noise pollution. All for the sake of keeping up appearances.

And then there's the bat-shit crazy people contributing to the chatter. Some of them shout at each other. Like the random ethnic couple a few house down. I still haven't figured out where they are from. Maybe Laos? Maybe Thailand? Greece? Albanian? Maybe from Bensonhurst? The old guy never says much, but his wife unleashes on him like a pissed off head coach with a vein bulging out of his neck tearing his offensive line a new asshole for picking up way too many penalties.

The most twisted neighbors shout at... who knows what. God? Invisible people? Aliens? The TV? Ghosts? But whenever they shout, their echos carrying throughout the alley. I wonder if someone in my hood writes a Tumblr about their crazy neighbors and they go on rants about how I'm a degenerate sportsbetting loser shitbag who loses my shit whenever an aloof 7-footer clanks a free throw.

Time to hold the mirror up to the mirror holders.

In the meantime, I miss the actress. I miss the echo of her voice in the shower. Angelic and soothing and melodious. Her voice drowned out all of the whirling sounds of the machines.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Swapping Addictions: The Eagles for LCD Soundsystem; My Odd Obsession with Music Documentaries

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Addiction swapping. It's the American way. If you're addicted to something bad like booze, alcohol, sex, or drugs... then you swap out that addiction for a different addiction like religion.

I'm at the crossroads. I was seriously addicted to watch the Eagles documentary (specifically Part One). All summer long. I wrote numerous blog posts about my fascination with the doc (e.g. Such a Lovely Place, Lines On the Mirror and Lines On Her Face, and Joe Fucking Walsh and Free Crack Online) and I even referenced the doc in an article for Bluff Magazine with Donking Off Penny Lane, Eagle Poker, and Life in the Fast Lane.

I must've watched the Eagles doc four or five times a week and although I was never a country-rock fan, I found myself fascinated with the music industry in the early 70s. I drew such a disappointing look from Nicky whenever she caught me watching it. It was like "Really? The fucking Eagles? Again?" I felt like an embarrassed junkie hiding their addiction from their loved ones. I only watched the doc when Nicky was at work, or when she was sleeping.

Turns out only one other person had a similar addiction... and it's Bill Fucking Simmons. I love his brainchild Grantland, but culturally speaking, Billy Boy and I are usually at the opposite end of the (pop culture) spectrum.... except with the Eagles documentary. Simmons wrote about his strange fascination in a recent column -- The Eagles' Greatest Hits. Now, if I ever meet Simmons again (the first meeting is a long story), I will corner him and yap incessantly about the Eagles doc. My biggest fear is that he's not as into the doc it as he projected ("Relax cowboy... I was just filling blank space."). Or worse, he's really really really into it and I feel like a fraudster dilettante for not knowing the documentary well enough.

Back to the crossroads...

I'm swapping addictions. LCD Soundsystem's documentary "Shut Up and Play the Hits" is on Netflix. I was home from Phish tour for about a week when I wandered over to Netflix and discovered this fact... and watched it twice in one sitting. I had seen it before, but was waiting for its online release, so I could watch it again. I assume Netflix added the doc during the month I was on the road. Since its discovery, I'm embarrassed to say how many times I watched it since I found it earlier this week.

Watch the trailer here:

Nicky is thrilled. "Thank God I don't have to see Glenn Fucking Frey ever again."

Good bye Eagles. Hello LCD Soundsystem. Swap out the coke, LA, and groupies. Insert ecstasy, NYC, and hipsters.

I lived in NYC at the turn of the century and during those frenetic days post-9/11 when half the city was paralyzed by fear and the other half was partying like it was 1999 on steroids. My friends and I at the time had a "world is gonna blow up" attitude, so we'd better rage it up while we can. That mentality really drove us and part of the underground culture. What we didn't realize was that terrorists were not going to blow us up, rather, we'd become prisoners of our own fear and paranoia. I left NYC in the middle of the 00s and headed out West to fulfill my destiny. NYC's dynamics drastically changed over the decade, but I left at the right time before it got too weird and completely overrun by the hipsterification of NYC.

LCD Soundsystem's break-out hit Losing My Edge was sort of an inside joke, but a perfect way to sum up the sentiment of what it was like to be living at the turn of the century and trying to figure out what is cool in the digital age, but as soon as you figure out something cool, there's a horde of uncool people circling like vultures who quickly co-opt that shred of coolness you unearthed during your excavations of popular culture. As I got closer to 40 years old, the song became less of an inside joke and more realistic. Cool is what you make it and you should always do your own thing. The older you get, you start doing things that make you happy and get you off, rather than worrying about whether or not other people think what you're doing if cool.

It's kind of weird because many moons ago in a previous life we used to hang out and listen to James Murphy spinning tunes at tiny lounges in the East Village. We had no idea that he'd go onto to front one of the more important bands in the first decade of the 21st Century. Murphy didn't either, which you'll discover when you watch "Shut Up and Play the Hits." Yet, it happened. LCD Soundsystem blew up and when he felt as though his side project consumed all of his life, he realized it was time to pull the plug. The timing was impeccable because he was at the top of his game with LCD Soundsystem's third and final album This Is Happening. Even if he didn't want to have a a life that included an exhausting tour schedule, he still could have went with a parsed down touring life by only playing big payday events at American musical festivals (e.g. Coachella) and hit up a few stops on the summer European circuit. We're looking at a minimal investment of two months of touring and another month of practicing. That left nine months for Murphy to have a free swim and tackle other projects. But Murphy had so much respect for the purity of LCD Soundsystem's music that he walked away from it all.... much to the disappointment of their fan base and even some of his friends in the band. Murphy didn't want to half-ass hang around, even with a few token appearances here and there. So, that's it. LCD Soundsystem played a farewell concert at Madison Square Garden in April 2011, some of which was included in "Shut Up and Play the Hits."

"Better to burn out than to fade away."

That's a quote from The Highlander movie. Neil Young sorta said it too.

My recent fascination with "Shut Up and Play the Hits" stems from the fact that I can identify with James Murphy much more so than anyone in the Eagles (although I most feel like Joe Walsh -- the cocaine-crazed, destruction-obsessed outsider who could play a mean slide guitar -- more so than anyone else in the band).

I wrote a little bit about having a deeper understanding of LCD Soundsystem's break-up (check out How I Killed a Purple Cow) because I pulled the plug on a popular poker blog. I reached a rough spot with Tao of Poker because I was super burned out, artistically bankrupt, and conflicted. Do I half-ass it until the government finally legalized online poker? Or do I take a much-needed break and return when I don't have to worry about trying to earn a living in a matter that the federales deem "illegal"? Or do I say "this has all been wonderful, and now I'm on my way"?

Tough spot. I pretty much devoted eight exhausting years of my life to the poker biz and helped make a few people/corporations/juntas a lot of dough. I threw every ounce of energy into Tao of Poker during my 30s, while carving out a successful freelance career and eventually writing a book about the height of the poker boom and the darkside of living in Las Vegas.

But then one day you wake up and realize the government has their own hypocritical agenda and they changed the rules of the game without a debate in a public forum. In the early part of the 21st Century, online poker broke through into the mainstream ether, but the government beat it back to the "immoral" fringes of society. Once again, poker went underground at a critical time in which the biggest banks in the world were rewarded billions in corporate welfare handouts, because their broke-dick execs got caught with their pants down recklessly gambling on derivatives. It was an ugly time; I was drowning in volcanic anger and vitriol (directed at the faceless government and deceptive puppets in DC) and utterly exhausted from running the rat race. Then to complicate matters, I got into a car wreck and for a few months I was psychically unable to do my job. During post-crash recovery, I got caught up in the existentialist mind-fuck of why do some of us live and some of us die. Perspective is a funny thing. As soon as you take a step outside yourself, everything becomes so fucking crystal clear. I realized I didn't need a vacation, but I need a clean break. I caught myself before I took another step forward and fell into a black hole.

I made a difficult choice and walked away from Tao of Poker and a poker industry in turmoil. I was flooded with instant regret, but as each day passed, most of those conflicted emotions subsided. My closest friends understood and respected my decision, although I got a ton of shit from so-called friends and colleagues because they saw my decision to leave as a judgement on their lives, when it had zero to do with it. Sure, some of them stuck it out during the aftermath of Black Friday because they were much stronger mentally than me and could weather the storm, but some of them were in much worse shape than me and unable to leave the circus.

When I started watching the Eagles documentary regularly, one line stood out by Don Henley about the breakup of the band in 1980. "It was a horrible relief." Henley summed up what I felt the moment I pushed the Letter to Ndugu post. But even a year after that post, I agonized over my decision until I saw the Eagles documentary the first time and knew I made a healthy and wise decision to leave a toxic situation. When the credits rolled, I was overcome by a wave of serenity and started thinking, "Stop beating yourself up. You did the right thing. If you want to get down on yourself, you really should have pulled the plug on Tao of Poker a year earlier."

You never want to be that guy who stays at the party too long, but I didn't walk away when the passion dissipated and I mentally checked out. Before Black Friday, the poker scene devolved into a shitshow and I was too chicken-shit to leave the party and walk away from the gravy train. After I finished Lost Vegas, I knew I needed a break, but I talked myself into staying, or let others talk me into staying (coincidentally those were some of the people with the most to lose financially if I took any time off).

I had my foot out the (poker) door once Phish got back together in 2009, but while I was still hanging around, I relied more and more on self-medication techniques just to get me through the day and help survive the grind of the WSOP (a seven-week long festival of poker that was so physically draining and sucked my soul and creative juices dry every summer so much so it took me a month to recover). Every summer, I found myself utterly lonely while wandering through Hades, trying to ward off temptations at every corner, and constantly surrounded by assholes and malcontents. Vegas is hell on Earth and the only way I could get through the day was to self-medicate by creating a protective bubble around me.

Cocaine and self-doubt destroyed the Eagles, so I was glad I left the Vegas scene before I became a full-blown junkie. I saw numerous Vegas friends get sucked into the abyss of addiction(s). Now they're a sorry bunch of schwasted zombies that I stay far away from because they're emotional vampires who only call me up for drugs or to borrow money for drugs/gambling with no intentions of paying me back.

The Eagles doc confirmed I made a good decision to walk away. Like Glenn Frey said, "90% of being in the Eagles was a fucking blast. I was living the dream."

That's exactly how I feel about Tao of Poker and my foray into the industry. It was fun. It was a dream. A sincere fucking blast at that time in space. But let's leave it at that and celebrate the fact that I caught "lightning in a bottle" or I created what marketing guru Seth Godin would call a "purple cow." I was working so hard when all this happened, that I never stopped to smell the roses and fully appreciate everything. Now that it's all in the past, those 7-8 years feel like a dream.

If you're a rabid Tao of Poker fan, you should get a little freaked out because every time I watch the LCD Soundsystem documentary, I'm overwhelmed by this unshakable feeling... I pulled the plug on Tao of Poker one year too late, but it would be foolish to return.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Few More Lingering Flashbacks from the Circus

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I forgot about the ceiling. A snooty art collector would dismiss it. From a distance it looks like a stained-glass masterpiece. Up close, it's definitely not Tiffany glass. Upon closer inspection, you can see the autumn leaves. It's ubiquitous sunshine in Southern California and I rarely get a whiff of the four seasons in a part of the world where its perpetual summer. I missed the seasonal differences of the East Coast. The only brown leaves on trees in LA can be found on the ceiling at Canter's.

I forgot about how trippy the ceiling is if... 1) you see it for the first time, and 2) crocked on psychedelics. Neither was the case for me. I totally forgot about it until we were seated in a booth and Schwilly Meg could not stop looking up. We had our faces buried in the oversized menu, yet Schwilly Meg was gazing at the show up on the ceiling.

I elbowed Nicky and motioned toward Schwilly Meg. Nicky giggled and said, "Yeah, I forgot the ceiling. Must be a dozen people in here still fucked up from the concert and getting a cool after-show."

For a city as big as Los Angeles, there are limited places to eat after Midnight. One of the few 24/7 places -- Canter's Deli -- is not far from our apartment. It was on our way home from the Hollywood Bowl. None of us ate dinner. We drove down from San Francisco to LA earlier that day and woofed down a few beers before heading to the Bowl. We got caught in traffic and never had a chance to grab food... until after the show when we were starving.

Canter's used to be the "Esquire Theatre" (for movies in the 1940s and early 50s) before it was converted into a deli. It's sort of a late-night LA institution and you usually end up there after a night of partying. Canter's was on my radar because I knew it would be open, plus there was a dive bar attached to it, so I knew they served liquor until at least 2am. If you really want a wasted celebrity encounter in LA, then hang out at Canter's at 3:33am and maybe you'll spot someone "famous" at the tail end of a bender. But it was closer to Midnight and Canter's was packed, while Schwilly Meg got lost in the leaves on the ceiling.

The waitress lumbered over. That's when Broseph belted out his order. Four drinks. Water. Coffee. Beer. Whiskey. Pretty simple. I thought she'd screw it up because the place was packed and she was in the weeds. To her credit, the drinks arrived... as ordered. The waitress did manage to fuck up Schwilly Meg's order. She wanted banana pancakes, but the waitress dropped off potato pancakes. Huge difference.

* * * *

One day in Chicago, I met Grubby for lunch. He's been living there for a couple of years and we always missed each other whenever I was in town. He told Senor old Vegas war stories... like the time he tried to pick a stripper but somehow a midget was involved and that added variable threw everything out of whack. Got flashbacks of when I first moved to Vegas and used to hang out with Grubby. But now he's living in Chicago, a safe distance from Vegas. Yet no matter where we go, Vegas stories are always somewhere beneath the surface waiting to bubble up like a batch of swamp gas.

In Chicago, I lost a hit of acid in the park when I fumbled it during the exchange. A gust of wind blew up out of nowhere and poof! The dose fluttered away in the wind. I tried to look for it... but it was the side of a sharp hill. Like finding a needle in a haystack. I hope a squirrel doesn't stumble upon it, otherwise that rascal will be tripping balls.

* * * *

I got addicted to mint M&Ms. In the green bag. I have not seen them in L.A. but I saw them all over Seattle, Tahoe and San Francisco. It's like biting into a mint, but with an M&M coating.

Iced tea was tough on the road. I was brewing my own batch of tea every morning and made it super strong almost equivalent to a cup of coffee (tea is typically 50% the strength of coffee). I don't drink coffee, but Starbucks is fucking everywhere. I don't like to give those corporate-tards my money, but someone had given me a gift card so I busted it out on the trip for a "gourmet" iced tea, which is pretty meh. Starbucks tea is just average compared to Coffee Bean.

We camped out at the Gorge and I resorted to cold brewing Lipton using bottles of water and three tea bags. It's methadone more than anything else. But, when I mixed it with Nicky's lemonade (Hubert's... tasty shit in skinny glass bottles), I made a palatable Arnold Palmer. Just add molly and or vodka.

In Chicago, the W was next to a 24-hour McDonalds. Yeah, I know... an odd pairing. I popped into McDs three or four times a day. Large drinks were $1. I picked up 2 iced teas at a time. In San Francisco, there was a Jack in the Box around the corner. The Joker popped over one morning and got me a big-assed tea, which was perfect because I was about to sit down and write and crank out a review of the Tahoe shows.

* * * *

3:30am. San Francisco. We heard a shooting. Nothing sobers you up quick enough than gunshots. Two quick pops. Ironic that we were in the nicer, more touristy area and one block from Union Square, versus the edge of the Tenderloin where we stayed.

* * * *

We lucked out with the cool cabins in Tahoe. The Joker, Wildo, and Carrie had more of a suite. We had room that overlooked the pool. We were three stories up and I quickly tried to remember my high school physics formulas to see if someone could jump off my third-floor balcony and survived the dive into a six foot deep pool (the answer was no fucking way).  Now the second floor? That was doable. Funny to see a random family sitting at the pool while it was invaded by Phishy types and people trying to a quick nap poolside before the show began.

I got to see Zobo, who I had not seen in years. We met each other in Japan during Phish tour in 2000. He had a cabin really close to the venue, so we could sit on his porch and listen to the soundcheck. He's friends with the Japhans whom stream some of the shows. I even got to meet a former Japanese rockstar, who was enjoying the anonymous life in America... while he embedded himself with hippies on Phish tour.

Nicky went deep in a charity poker tournament. I was a bounty player and busted early again... but not as early as the last two charity events (when I was also a bounty). I was hoping to finally prove my worthiness and had my sights set on the final table. Alas, I took a bad beat and busted mid-way. Jesse Martin, a friend who happens to be a poker pro, took a seat at my table and I didn't get a chance to play a hand with him (the one hand I shoved... he got out of the way). Wildo almost made the final table... but he busted out in 12th place. But Nicky? She's rusty, yet still has tournament skills.

* * * *

Good to see the "2001" stickers made cameos in different cities on this trip. Splattered all over the mean streets of Chicago, Seattle, Tahoe, and San Francisco. I also saw a bunch in the port-o-pots at the Gorge and one vendor in Shakedown let me put up a sticker  on his menu board. I sold a bunch at the Gorge and a few in Tahoe. Rained too much in Chicago and it seriously lacked a Shakedown area, so no real spot to hawk goods.

* * * *

I listened to Wild Belle's album nonstop. You might have heard their song It's Too Late. I had a similar postmodern-hipster-pop phase when I got my hands on Foxygen's album earlier in the year. But there's something about the lead singer from WB. She reminds me of that hot chick from college who flirts with you all night and you foolishly let her snort/smoke all your drugs because you're convinced you're gonna hook up, but you get nadda, not even a hand job as she waltzes out the door and off to another party.

When I was in Seattle visiting old friends, Kung-fu Tom turned me onto Albert King's greatest hits. Some funky-ass soulful blues-funk right there. Glad I got to hang out with Tom... he always turns me onto good music. He wants me to pick up bass so we can start a band together. I said we'd call it... "White Men Can't Funk."

In Seattle, I stopped by where I used to work and wandered around the Seattle Art Museum and the Frye Art Museum. I dug the fact that SAM is "suggested" donation. I offered to pay half price. I usually only donate $1 to the Met because they try to dupe the public into paying redonkulous price. I thought about putting $1 on my credit card, but then thought that'd be a dick move.

But at SAM at a special gallery for Aboriginal art, I got lost in one of the trippiest paintings I had seen in years. This fucker was alive and breathing when I walked by...