Thursday, October 31, 2013

NYC Art Pic Dump

By Pauly
New York City

I hopped off the tour and spent a couple days in NYC with family. Wandered over to the Met museum to chat with old friends including  Chuck, one of the most talented painters in America. He works at the Met and I got to talk shop with the acrylic-slinging genius.

Here are some pics I snapped....

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Another Pic Dump

By Pauly
New York City

Here are a few images from a blurry week  on the road in NYC and New England...

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Cocktail of Optimism for Taylor Hicks

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

The mornings, well the pre-mornings, when everything is still foggy and its still a little dark out and there's the first hint of daybreak tearing down the edges of the sky. The stillness of the early mornings present the most promising moment of the day. It's when you're full of hope and optimism. Overflowing and overjoyed about the possibilities. It's because you forgot about all of the stuff that weighs you down and all of the bad shit that was bugging you out was momentarily erased from your memory banks. Eventually reality sinks in and you quickly remember everything you wanted to forget, and that optimism is shredded into little frayed pieces of pessimism until you make the conscious decision to ignore it.

Some mornings I'm staring at a picture, a signed picture, of Taylor Hicks playing the blues harp. For a two or three week period, he was one of the most famous people in America. But fame is fleeting. The southern guy with salt-n-pepper hair had a shot at winning American Idol many moon ago when the show was the most talked-about program in the land of the free. Hicks used up the majority of his fifteen minutes of fame with Idol. It was more like fifteen days of fame. I had seen him once before at the same coffeeshop while his star was rising and rising and rising. I guess he was staying in the general vicinity and liked the food. I know I do. Greasy spoon diners are getting harder and harder to find. Maybe the comfort food helped him feel a little more at home while he was basking in the ubiquitous sunshine and helping fabricate reality by being a main ingredient for the entertainment biz machine. I wonder if he knew that that moment in the photo was "as good as it gets" before he woke up one day in some generic, sterile motel room in the middle of nowhere, wondering where his entire career went off the rails.

I looked up at the picture of Taylor Hicks and got an unhealthy dose of reality. I was filled with optimism and promise until I saw the picture and remembered how brutal this town is for creative people. It swallows up more people every day and they disappear into obscurity while a fresh new batch of dreamers step off the tarmac at LAX, or exit the freeway. The minute they arrive is the minute their dreams start dying.

The mornings are always the most ambitious before I remember all of the bad, crusty shit that can drive you nuts... if you let it. I shrug it off. Most of the time, I'm teflon and just gut it out. Yes, the world is a dark, chaotic, and meaningless place but that doesn't mean I can't have a good time. There's a certain amount of safety in know all of this means jack shit. But every once in a while, I wake up with a glimmer of hope that's quickly shot down out of the sky like a paper airplane trying to win a dogfight against an F-15.

I woke up this morning and wandered over to the coffeeshop. Along the way, I saw an old Russian lady smoke a cigarette while scooping up a pile of shit with a plastic bag from Ralph's. Around the corner in the alley behind Jack in the Box, a homeless man bundled up in a blanket was trying to catch the last bit of shut eye before he was kicked out of the alley by the morning sounds of commerce, whirling leaf blowers and grinding garbage machines. At the coffeeshop, I could not stop looking at Taylor Hicks while I ate my pancakes. Sure, there were other pictures of actors on the wall. Some much more famous than Hicks will ever be. But they're not out on the road somewhere with a bunch of other burned out musicians completely weary and wondering how long they can stay awake before remembering about how miserable life can be trying to scrape together a paltry paycheck on the road and thousands of miles away from home.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

The future is now. This is the first post created through an iPhone app. 

I finally gave in and joined the cult.

I'm a former Apple cult member. As a kid, I was a staunch Commodore 64 guy but by the time I graduated high school, those antiquated computers got smoked by Apple's new invention -- the Macintosh.

After college ended, I purchased an Apple desktop computer because I found a great deal through a friend of mine. That was when I was living in Brooklyn and worked at the museum. I worked a bunch of overtime for two months to save up for my a computer and dial-up modem. When I relocated to Seattle, I brought that fucker across the country with me. I almost bought a Mac laptop when I was out West, but I used the money to go on Phish '98 summer tour instead. When I moved back to NYC in 1999, I tossed the Apple in the car and headed home.

Shortly after 9/11 I decided it was time to embrace the laptop trend. My grandmother gave me some money for my birthday so I pocketed the cash and bought a Macbook with whatever space I had left on my credit card. It was an amazing purchase. Sort of like having an attachment to your first "new" car. then again, I've wrecked three cars in my life so that's probably a bad analogy.

Some of my best writing occurred on the original Macbook when I was living in a studio up in North Riverdale in 2002-03. That's where I penned my first screenplay ("Charlie's Goldfish") and second screenplay ("Sweet Nothing"). Not to mention where I finished my first novel -- Jack Tripper Stole My Dog (for 2002 NaNoWriMo). Over the next couple of years, I cranked out four more manuscripts on that machine.

I had a very strong attachment to the Macbook and vice versa, but when I moved to Vegas for a job in the summer of 2005, I made a wise choice and left the Macbook behind with my brother in NYC. I had purchased a cheap Dell laptop from online poker winnings and brought that with me to Vegas. I figured if it got lost or stole (when I was living at the Redneck Riviera), then I wouldn't lose much of my stuff like manuscripts, Dead bootlegs, and a ton of music.

I never picked up the Macbook. It's permanently in NYC, so I'll always have a laptop there whenever I visit. By now it's over a decade old. I had four Dell's and a Toshiba (work laptop) since then. I traveled so much and beat my laptops into the ground that I burn through one every 18-20 months. These fuckers really take a beating, but I like having multiple laptops. The travel laptop is stripped down to bare essentials so I won't lose anything important if some sort of shenanigans occur.

I actually bought a Macbook a couple of years ago for Nicky. It was a thank you gift to her after Lost Vegas was published. She put up with a ton of shit during the five years it took me to write that fucker. I got all the glory, but she had nothing to show for her dedication and unwavering support... until I got her a Macbook Pro.

I acquired a Black Berry many moons ago as my first smart phone. I wanted a BB for sole purpose of having a keyboard so I could answer/write emails. I have several accounts and many of my clients/colleagues were European or Australian, so it made sense that we were on the same network because when the initial iPhone was released, Apple was still lagging in overseas mobile markets. They have quickly caught up and the iPhone 5c is Apple's attempt to attract new customers in the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China). At the time I got my first BlackBerry, I had the ability to use BBM (Black Berry Messenger), which is like an IM service that sends text messages through BB's network so I would not incur extra costs when sending texts to the UK, France, Australia, or Costa Rica. Super practical... at the time.

When I was living in San Francisco, my BlackBerry got soaked after a freakish accident when I dropped it in the sink. Alas, due to my butterfingers, I was forced to buy a new phone. I could have gotten a iPhone 4s, which had just came out and was all the rage because it had "Siri", or I could have gotten another BlackBerry model for next to nothing. I went for the cheapo option and continued to stay on the BB network. That was almost two years ago. In that short span, BlackBerry went deep into the shitter. They're on the cusp of going bankrupt. One day you're at the top of your industry and the next... you're a dinosaur. With Blackberry's future looking grim, I jumped on the iPhone bandwagon.

Nicky was kind enough to buy me a new iPhone for my birthday. A truly generous offer. I probably would have opted for a non-iPhone. My BlackBerry contract was up at the end of November, so I was eying different devices. I was on the fence about an iPhone. Tons of pros, but tons of cons. But since my lovely girlfriend wanted to give me something practical for my b-day, it was impossible to say no.

So I gave in.

And I downloaded a few apps. Like Blogger and Tumblr. Makes posting 100000% easier than what I was doing on BlackBerry.

The big downside... email reconciliation. Some of my non-gmail accounts are wonky. Plus, I get so much damn email that it's a pain in the ass to answer it on my phone if I want to write something more than a couple of sentences. The entire point of the BlackBerry was answering emails on the fly, but the iPhone is limiting in that capacity.

Give and take. It's a give and take world especially when dealing with ever-shifting technology. Hopefully the creative things I can do with the new device will outweigh any negatives.

By the way... I started this post through the app, but I got sick of typing on the phone so I saved the post after the third or fourth sentence and then finished it off on my laptop. Unless I have a short blog post planned, I doubt I will be posting shit through the app. Too tough to type on a laptop when my mind moves faster than my fingers can move. It's even more problematic on an iPhone.

I'm now in the future. And my friends can stop making fun of me for using a BlackBerry.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Alley Puke, Grasshoppers, and Passed-Out Suits

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

A circle of puke. Dark orange. Oatmeal texture. I couldn't tell. Human puke? Or cat puke?

I had not seen alley cats in weeks, maybe months. Something happened to them. My mind wandered. Maybe it was a deranged homeless person living in the alley behind Jack in the Box who cooked up the cats one night. There's a couple of restaurants in the area and times are tough. Hate to think that the soup special is really boiled alley cat.

Crickets invade our apartment every autumn. The cycle of nature. Very vexing. A few sneak through and I have an minor internal crisis because I'm convinced that killing crickets is bad luck and it's 100% my fault that the teams I bet on miss field goals because I mutilated a cricket while running to the defense of my hysterical girlfriend.

The entire concept of insects freak out Nicky and she screams like a little girl and it's during those moments I'm reminded that she used to be trained in the theatrical arts and she can belt it out.  And those grasshoppers are jumping ones too. The bigger they leap, the louder the scream.

The insect-induced screams are almost blood curdling. I jump up and fall right into assassin mode. I'm a cold-blooded insect killer. Doesn't matter if it's a spider or roach or silverfish. I'm the iceman and dispose of the critter and that's that. However, I freeze up whenever I see a cricket. It's bad luck in most Asian cultures to kill crickets. Disney brainwashed us as kids and made our generation think of crickets as these sage-like creatures that guide us out of peril. All I want is to cover the point spread man, and if scooping up crickets and taking them outside is going to help the cause, then dammit, that's what I have to do.

Crickets turned me into a compassionate bug squasher. So am I getting karmic retribution for all those killed spiders? Do all of those missed free throws have anything to do with all the cockroaches I stomped on in my day?

Protecting crickets is bad superstition. Once you give into a superstition, then you become a slave to obsessive-compulsive behavior. If I had a cat, then I wouldn't have to worry about this. If the alley cats were still around... the crickets wouldn't be an issue.

The alley is infested with crickets and more are getting through the cracks than ever before. I suspect it's because of the lack of alley cats. The cats fed and feasted off the crickets. Those crickets only flourish because their main predator, a group of feral cats, was living in the crawlspace underneath the apartment building next door. But those cats have disappeared. We have no idea where they went.

I saw one cat scurrying across the street late one night but aside from that, no cats. Where the hell did they go? I assume they found a better spot to live, maybe a block or two over where a crazy cat lady goes out and feeds them regularly. Or maybe someone found the cat(s) and adopted them and gave them a great home. Or maybe they were picked up and fixed? I doubt that scenario because something of that nature costs money and the City of Angels is too broke to send out people trapping feral cats. In all probability, they were picked up and euthanized.

The orange puke was not a cat. It was human puke. Someone booted. It was Friday night. Totally probable. But who did it belong to?

I went out to sushi in Beverly Hills. Something I never do. But Showcase was in town and he wanted to take Nicky and myself to a relaxing dinner. It was fun to catch up and hear stories and tell some more. But the last thing I wanted to see when I got home was the circle of puke.

I totally forgot about it until I woke up early the next morning and went for a walk. On my way back home, I noticed the orange circle, which was sort of dried out. That's when my neighbor (BMW douche) opened his front door and out stumbled a "bro" in a disheveled suit (minus the tie). I can only suspect those wanna-be execs drank heavily after a shitty week of work and the bro puked in the alley and then passed out on my neighbor's couch, only to get kicked out at day break. Well either that, or my neighbor is secretly gay and was sending someone home a booty call and I totally busted him.

But where the fuck did the cats go? My alley smells like puke and grasshoppers are everywhere.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Around the Horn: Hood Chess, Big Air, Furthur, SD Pics, Reggie Watts, and Bad Will Smith Flicks

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Here are a few things I cranked out last couple of weeks here...
San Diego Pic Dump  - I went to visit my brother in San Diego and I snapped a few pics along the way.

TED: Reggie Watts - This is one of the best TED Talks I ever saw that featured musician/comedian Reggie Watts.

Bad Films: After Earth - I have no idea why I sat through Will Smith's film that was nothing more than a subversive ad for Scientology.

Big Air - Mat Hoffman is a BMX legend and he's also a crazy daredevil which is why he was chronicled in a 30 for 30 documentary..

Furthur, No More? - I caught the last Furthur show before the band goes on hiatus next year.

Worm Buffet (Fiction) - Something I whipped up about getting stuck.

Hood Chess - I saw a great documentary about inner city chess whiz kids.
I also post a weekly rant about the Jets over at Ocelot Sports.

Recent writing music of the jazz variety included...
Tijuana Moods by Charlie Mingus 
Red Hot by Mongo Santamaria

Friday, October 11, 2013

Hood Chess

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I caught this uplifting documentary Brooklyn Castle on Netflix...

IS 318, on the outskirts of Williamsburg, is a hotbed for chess. Over the last decade that school has crushed national championships, which is why it was fucked up when the city trimmed the school's budget by a million bucks in the wake if the financial crisis. Despite the cut backs, a group of kids did not let that deter them from competing in events in Texas, Minnesota, and upstate New York. Oh, and they kicked some ass along the way and crushed the chess tables.

You don't have to know chess to appreciate this documentary. I'm eagerly awaiting Hollywood's version of chess in the hood.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Worm Buffet (Fiction)

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

He played one of those cops from Barney Miller.

After sustaining a diet of coma-inducing, watered-down happy meals, life hit the skids. The ubiquitous greyness rained down. Sometimes it violently pelted the ground, causing divots the size of swimming pools.

Long days bled into endless nights, that bled into week-long blurs of sepia-tinged benders. Three and four day periods of vacant self-indulgence led to month-long gaps in time. Lost in a warp, a wormhole where ambition was strangled by the stillness of melancholy.

He was out on the street, or the street reached out and grabbed him. Hard to tell.

From the generous gestures of the kind-hearted, he'd collect sacks of old bread and could be found down at the pier feeding seagulls while sipping a can of warm Budweiser out of a torn paper bag.

Sullen groupings of sour notes played on a loop inside his head. Ghosts hovered like a polluted cloud of torment.

He knew he could never sustain the numerous trips to the hole. If you know where it is, then you're a rare survivor. The hole rarely releases anyone from its grip. Anguished visitors were lured in by an endless hunger, yet snared themselves in industrial fishing nets.

Shit sinks to the bottom. Dead weight.

But like the rapper said, when your soul hits the bottom, it doesn't stop and keeps going and seeping through the cracks in the ground with the rest of all of the rotting waste. Your soul doesn't whisk itself away up into the heavens, it's a buffet for the worms while the rest of it leaks into the upper echelons of hell.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Furthur, No More?

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

We got stuck in the peanut gallery at the Furthur concert at the Greek Theatre. An older guy wore what looked like an armor suit made out of trash lids. Burning Man had been over for almost a month, but this guy was so fucking spaced out and slurring his speech that he thought he was still at Burning Man. We were surrounded by freaks, both old and young. A 20-something wook with nappy dreadlocks was bragging about his latest brush with the law and he wouldn't shut up about his DUI bad beat story. Next to Nicky sat a young college-aged couple who chain-smoked joints. At one point he blurted out,  "Baby, I'm booooombed!" and Nicky burst out laughing.

In front of us, an elderly woman in her 60s sporting a jean jacket and stonewashed jeans was slumped over in a chair and moaning like a whimpering dog bloated on Jager. Her pissed-off biker husband was not enjoying the Furthur show because last thing he wanted to do was take care of a shithoused drunk old lady, who couldn't successfully re-live those old glory days and passed out from too much partying. She gave an embarrassing performance because of her inability to manage her buzz. Hey, at least she didn't blow chunks all over Section B.

You couldn't miss the tweaker dancing like a maniac a few rows in front of us. Speed is a helluva drug, especially when you're on 12th gear of a 5-gear spaceship. He stuck out because Furthur attracts aging Deadheads looking for a mellow walk down memory lane. The crowd at the Greek Theatre was like 80% old hippies. They were much more mellow and stuck with dragging a little weed or on a natural high. They got off on the lingering vibe of the Grateful Dead's music. The older crowd saves their energy for special moments at the show and then they go nuts. They were pacing themselves, but the tweaker guy was letting it all hang out from the moment he arrived with his date for the evening... a lovely, voluptuous working girl with a big bootie and bigger boobs. He would slap her on the ass every twenty seconds or so and then he'd grope her every few minutes. Nicky thought he was a former washed-up actor because of an abundance of Botox shot up in his face and a glowing fake orange spray tan. Upon closer inspection, he was in his late 40s or early 50s and he dressed like a teenage skater punk. He rubbed his nose nonstop and took a few bumps of something during the show. Nicky swears he was riding the cocaine train. I was convinced otherwise and he was railing meth. Either way, both drugs are uppers that rocket your ass into the upper echelons. Tweaker boy was flying high high high high and soaring the entire show.

Toward the end of the first set, someone barged into our row and started yapping nonstop, explaining the entire history of the band. A 40-something guy brought his 70 year old mother. She wore stockings with shorts and a Hawaiian shirt. Her first (obvious) observation was"Everyone is smoking a lot of dope!" She said that as Nicky was blowing out a hit of Purple Kush that we had brought into the show. I eavesdropped on their conversation at setbreak. He was released from jail for some infraction (I think it was possession) and he had to prove that he had a job or was looking for a job with his probation officer, but he didn't actually have a job because he was sponging off his mother and dealing weed to the local high school derelicts who had clue that this burnout was pinching big-ass buds out of their bags.


I caught Furthur over the weekend with Nicky and my bud Darren from Canada (otherwise known on Twitter as @SetlistArt). He had not seen Furthur in a while, but more importantly, he had never seen a show at the legendary Greek Theatre. Los Angeles has two super cool venues that are nestled into the Hollywood hills. One of them is the legendary Hollywood Bowl and the other is the chillax Greek Theatre. It's not quite like the same Greek Theatre in Berkley (on the campus of Cal), but it definitely has a similar intimate vibe in that you're surrounded by nature and totally forget where you are.

The last few years Furthur played a three-night run at the Greek, usually in early October, when they were either winding down a short fall tour, or to kicking it off. It's cool to see these shows in California, because whenever the original members of the Grateful Dead have a side project, all these OG hippies come out of the woodwork. Some of them still have long hair, albeit grey or white. Lots of guys walking around who looked like Gandolf or Santa Claus. You also got to see plenty of acid casualties from the 60s and 70s... some folks never got over that one dose that put them over the edge. I'm almost always the oldest person at a Phish concert, but at Furthur shows I feel like a spring chicken.

I attended the final show at the Greek on Sunday, which closed out their entire tour. This was supposed to be the last U.S.-based show for an indefinite time. The band announced a hiatus for 2014, minus a special event in Mexico in January at one of those swanky all-inclusive resorts. Those destination shows have been a profitable trend the last few years in the jamband scene. Just put up _____ (insert jamband name here) in a remote area like _____ (insert somewhere with lots of sun and good drugs), and sit back and count your money when rich hippies flock to wherever the wind blows.

Furthur's last shows could theoretically be in Mexico before they hang it up for good, or one of the principle members (Bob Weir or Phil Lesh) gets ill or dies. Both members will continue to play music, but with their own bands. That's fine with me. I was not a Bob Weir fan and his side project Ratdog. Sure, I've seen a dozen or more shows over the years, but Weir doesn't appeal to me as much as Lesh's different lineups with his Phil Lesh & Friends shows. Phil never has Bob Weir with him and instead has a much better guitarist (either John Scofield, Jackie Greene, or Warren Haynes).

The Furthur lineup will not be active next year, but who knows if they ever re-join. Lesh is already past 70 and survived a liver transplant almost 15 years ago. And although Weir was always the youngest member of the Grateful Dead (Weir was still in high school when he met Jerry Garcia, who gave him guitar lessons in the back of a music store and became his music teacher), he's no spring chicken. It takes one severe medical issue and either musician is dunzo. The music of the Grateful Dead might live on forever, but the days that they remaining members perform together are numbered.

Bobby and Phil never got along as BFFs. Lesh wanted to kick Weir out of the band in the late 60s and again in the 70s. Jerry Garcia and Weir were tight. Jerry treated Weir like his little brother, so he was always very protective of Weir and shielded him from the rest of the band and management. So long as Jerry was around, Weir was spared. After Jerry died, Weir and Lesh butted heads over the internet of all things. They had diverse philosophies on digital music, specifically if Deadheads can swap music via the internet. They eventually buried the hatchet and the remaining members of the Grateful Dead reunited and even toured under the new (yet abbreviated name) The Dead. That incarnation toured for a bit, but then stopped. I always suspected that as much as Weir and Lesh didn't see eye-to-eye, they both hated drummer Mickey Hart, who was horrendously high maintenance, especially on the road.

Weir and Lesh toured with their solo bands for decades but finally decided to join forces and create a new off-shoot of the Grateful Dead called Furthur (minus the original drummers because Mickey Hart is a dick and Billy Kreutzman loves living in Hawaii and didn't want to tour much). They named their new band after Ken Kesey's bus. The Grateful Dead always had a spiritual connection to Kesey and the Merry Pranksters because they honed their skills as the house band for Kesey's acid tests in the Bay Area. Plus, the whole concept of "Furthur" is pretty rad. They want their music to go on forever, so they decided to pass along the torch to a new generation of younger musicians. Hopefully those guys will continue on the spirit of the Grateful Dead long after the remaining members pass on.

Furthur needed a break, or I should say, Lesh needed a break from Weir. During the last few years, I heard whispers that Weir's boozing was interfering with his professionalism. Sure, it's one thing to eat a ton of acid and play (or not play) for six hours during Kesey's acid tests, but that was 40+ years ago. Today, especially with massive ticket prices, it's not cool if band members were crocked to the tits. It's bad enough we're getting water-down greatest hits, but seeing members stumble around stage is heartbreaking and a stark reminder of the last few years of the Grateful Dead, when Jerry Garcia was so strung out on China White that he'd stare at his feet the entire show and flub lyrics left and right.

It's hard to ignore those two instances when Weir was visibly fucked up during a gig. In the days of YouTube, you can't hide the truth. The first time it happened in New York, the word on the street was that someone dosed Weir backstage, however, the official cover story involved a faux pas with prescription medication. Ha! That's sounded like a typical PR 101 move... when your client misbehaves in public, blame Big Pharma! Earlier this year in April, Weir collapsed on stage. He looked drunk as skunk, but the official story was that he had hurt his shoulder a few weeks earlier and did everything possible to finish the tour (including getting a lighter guitar). On the night in question, Weir was in so much pain that he took a muscle relaxer before the show and it didn't quite work, which is why he tumbled over. I'm sure it had nothing to do with the 12-pack of Heineken he polished off before the show. Lesh suggested Weir sit out the show or even cancel it, but Weir wanted to play through the injury. When Weir fell over, roadies rushed in and gave him a chair. Lesh gave him a death stare, like "You fucking silly drunk!" I almost expected the easy-going Lesh to fly off the handle like Buddy Rich (during one of his infamous rants bitching out his lazy band members).

Then again, only the band and crew knows what really happened that night. Maybe Weir really had a bum shoulder? Or, maybe he hurt his shoulder because he was too drunk and fell down a flight of stairs chasing after a half-nekkid hippie chick? Maybe the word on the street is accurate and Weir is a bad drunk who doesn't give a shit anymore? Regardless of the truth, Furthur is not touring anymore.


I caught the last show for a while. Better than average show, but at this point I always go in with low expectations. It was quite the burnout scene. The venue was understaffed and it took us a while to get inside. It was a clusterfuck to find our seats because there were not any ushers anywhere and everything was dark after the lights went down and the show started. We kind of knew where we should go, but getting their was tough because all these dirty hippies clogged the aisles. By the second song, we ended up in the right row, but we sat the wrong seats the rest of the show.

We got a few random songs that are not in the usual rotation like They Love Each Other, Pride of Cucamonga, and Doin' That Rag. I even got a cover of Traffic's Dear Mr. Fantasy that was the highlight of the second set. I was having a bad back day, so I took a painkiller at setbreak. It hit me kind of hard (it didn't help that I was up at 6am for football stuff and smoking weed from roughly 12 hours before the concert even started) and I almost got a little woozy during a lull in Days Between. It was a slow part of the song and it seemed like I was caught in a slow motion loop and the song got slower and slower and it was putting me to sleep! I sat down for a few moments to catch my breath before the segued into Dear Mr Fantasy and I rallied for the rest of the show. Glad I didn't end up like that passed-out biker chick.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Big Air

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I caught The Birth of Big Air over the weekend. Yet another remarkable ESPN 30 for 30 Documentary about a remarkable story in the 1970s or 1980s that flew under the radar before the internet's explosion a few decades later, and way before the 24/7 sports news cycle took control of the airwaves.

The Birth of Big Air chronicled BMX legend Mat Hoffman. I grew up during the BMX craze but never really got into it as much as some other kids in the neighborhood. But it was short lived because most of the kids I knew jumped over to skateboarding after Back to the Future hit the theatres.

One of my friends, Scott, had a bunch of BMX magazines and I thumbed through them when I hung out at his house. Mat Hoffman was always pictured in the magazine doing a crazy stunt. I totally forgot about the BMX craze until I caught the documentary just as it was starting, and then got lost in nostalgia for an hour.

The Birth of Big Air brought back a flood of flashbacks about growing up in the BMX era. It reminded me of those halcyon days pre-Nanny State when kids could be kids and ride bikes without helmets. This was a time before all these shyster lawyers and rising medical costs kicked in and the government decided to intercede in day-to-day parenting, which took all the fun out of childhood.

Then again, I grew up in the Bronx during the crack invasion. I almost had my bike stolen twice as a kid and the second time was by a crackhead looking to make a few extra bucks by stealing my Mongoose knockoff. I think it's crazy to think that my parents would allow me and my brother to roam the neighborhood on bikes in the 80s... but that was the culture. All the neighborhood kids had to find someway to entertain themselves (pre-cable, pre-internet, and at the beginning of the video game era), which is why playgrounds and parks were filled with kids. Yep, kid being kids. My brother and I pedaled our bikes to Seton Park, where our Little League games were played. Behind the baseball diamonds was a hidden and makeshift area where kids rode their bikes and did jumps and different stuff. We spent hours and hours doing stupid shit back there and I rode all over my neighborhood and adjacent neighborhoods and learned every nook and cranny and street in my area of the Bronx. All of this was without a helmet. The older I get, the more I cherish those idle afternoons riding around without a care in the world and without Big Brother telling me how to protect myself.

The Birth of Big Air told the story of BMX pioneer Mat Hoffman. He flourished in obscurity of Oklahoma, whereas his contemporaries were mostly from Southern California, which was always a hotbed for extreme outdoor sports like skating and biking (and of course surfing). Hoffman had a "secret" practice space inside of a warehouse where he whipped up new tricks. All trial and error. Hoffman was the sports first mega-star before the scene fizzled out. By the time ESPN 2 created the X-Games, Hoffman was a dinosaur and could never really compete with kids half his age. Besides, his body was all banged up after all the hideous damage he put himself through over the years.

Early on in his career, event before he turned pro, Hoffman won over the respect of his peers, especially the pros from SoCal. Hoffman paid a huge price by putting his body on the line. He broke more bones than he could count and supposedly suffered over100 concussions. He busted his spleen and almost bled to death. Personal safety is something that he shrugged off because he was searching for the next big moment -- whatever that might be.

Hoffman got as close to flying that a human could get while only using a bicycle. Once he caught that "rush", he was hooked in for life. The hardest part about being an adrenaline junkie is that you're constantly seeking a new fix, but one that is bigger and more dangerous than the last. In the end, all it leaves you to do is jump off of cliffs and out of airplanes -- both activities that Hoffman accomplished later on in his life after he retired from BMX racing.

Underneath all the daredevil stuff, you got to hear the story about a guy who never gave up when he was told he couldn't do something. Hoffman persisted and pushed on despite the overwhelming odds and detriment to his health. Maybe he's reckless and a little bit crazy, but all you have to do is watch a few minutes of this documentary to realize that Mat Hoffman is the epitome of the human spirit. He lived a dangerous life but followed his dreams even though it almost killed him... numerous times, but we need people like Hoffman to test the boundaries of humanity and push the edge as far as he could take it.

Watch the trailer here:

What the entire doc here before the YouTube police yanks it down:

Friday, October 04, 2013

Bad Films: After Earth

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I saw another bad movie.  

After Earth. 

Holy shit. It was bad. Like so bad I smoked a ton of hash just so I could keep watching it. I'm glad I didn't pay money to see it in the theatres because I hate giving over hard-earned money to Hollywood shitbags like Will Smith aka the Fresh Prince, who leverage his fame to make a shitty vanity film that is thinly-veiled recruiting film for Scientology.

I'm glad I didn't waste my money and see it at The Grove because I would have walked out to go to Nicky's car and smoke hash, then try to get back into the theatre, but I probably would have said, "Fuck that. This flick blows camel cock. I'm gonna hit up the farmer's market and knock back a chocolate shake at Bennet's instead."

I only saw After Earth because... A) I actually like bad movies, and 2) critics destroyed After Earth in reviews due to the heavy Scientology backlash, and for the fact it just sucked.

If your film has a bad story, it's not going to float. You know why? Because shit don't float. It's all about story. If it's a good story, people will invest ninety minutes of their time to listen to it. But if it's drenched in Scientology crapola, then you know it's going suck. Yeah, the Fresh Prince of Bel Air is one of those wacky celebrities who is deeply immersed in the religion cum cult otherwise known as Scientology. The Fresh Prince dragged his entire royal family in too. Supposedly After Earth is soaked in Scientology lore. I guess that's why I saw it. I'm naturally curious about why Hollywood freaks like Will Smith and Tom Cruise are so obsessed about a dopey religion made my a failed screenwriter and fifth-rate sci-fi writer who just wanted to have power over women, get laid a ton, and find suckers to give him money.

There's no shortage of lost souls out there. That's why shysters and hustler rake in tons of dough taking advantage of those lost causes. I lived in Las Vegas long enough to know that churches and casinos weren't built by happy souls. L. Ron Hubbard found a good racket and bilked millions out of easily manipulated lost souls. The more you're lost, the more you're willing to fork over cash to someone who makes you feel better, or at least someone who you think is showing you a shortcut to eternal happiness.

I already filled quota of Scientology films for the decade after I saw The Master in theatres. I was so pumped about the PTA flick that I saw The Master during its opening weekend. I watched it thrice more since then and still have no clue what's going on. I eventually wised up to all of the water symbolism, but it's still a peculiar friggin' film.

After Earth? I have the same gripes as everyone else. I expected tons of bad acting, and they delivered in that department. The only character I watched to bitch slap more was Hayden Christensen's Anakin Skywalker.

Yes, After Earth sank because it had many plot holes. Too many poorly constructed allegories between man's fears and mental slavery. And the big hairy monster was not scary enough. In this CGI-heavy era you'd figure those special effects geeks crate something a little more ferocious than an eyeless alien that spits out thorns.

Will Smith generated a trillion dollars world wide for the fat cats in Tinsel Town. The suits finally threw him a bone and let him have a vanity project and cast his son in the lead roll. Guess what? Will Smith made another bad movie and cashed a monster paycheck. He's going to sleep on a huge pile of money. Me? I sweat a lot when I sleep and have strange dreams, mostly about getting lost to a meeting when I'm trying to sell a screenplay about post-apocalyptic Earth.

At least Bagger Vance was watchable because of all the cool photography and framing of golf shots. Even director M. Night Shyamalan couldn't save this film. Maybe if he put one of those "I see dead people" twists, it could have been more watchable. Instead After Earth was riddled with bad cliches and the Fresh Prince spoke with a bad accident and tried to perform self-surgery in a weak scene compared to the insanity and gore of the self-abortion scene from Prometheus.

The lamest scene from After Earth? When Fresh Prince wouldn't take space-age painkillers because it had a warning label: it caused drowsiness and impaired vision. He needed all his mental facilities in order to successfully guide his son on a life-or-death mission, yet he passed out a couple of times anyway and then his kid lost communications. Shit, if anything the Fresh Prince wasted a good opportunity to shoot up some kick-ass deep space synthetic morphine.

Save your time and your money. Skip After Earth and buy a copy of Dianetics instead.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

TED: Reggie Watts

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Reggie Watts was in a band called Maktub that originated in Seattle in the late 90s. That was my first introduction to Reggie... who is hard to describe... part-musician, part-comedian, full-blown entertainer, and legendary freak.

Here is Reggie Watts at his TED lecture from Spring 2012:

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

San Diego Pic Dump

By Pauly
San Diego, CA

I've been in San Diego the last couple of days visiting my brother, who was in town for a work-related convention. Here's some pics I took over the last few days...

View of Pacific Ocean from the train from LA to SD

Somewhere north of San Diego
Outside Union Station (downtown Los Angeles)