Friday, December 27, 2013

Around the Horn: 2013 Review

By Pauly
New York City

Dickens summed up 2013 best: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Me? Weird year but glad it's over. The last twelve months were more like an extensive pre-season or a prelude to something else. Which sucks because I hate waiting. The rough stretches were inevitable and something I had to go through considering 2013 was a transitional year. I needed to fight a few rigorous battles (which all took place in innerspace the few inches inside my head) before I moved into the next phase. Planning and uncertainty are stressful. I'm more of a man of action and want to jump into the fire.

I took off 2012. Literally. A respite from the craziness. But, I got damn too comfortable "doing nothing" in 2012 and partied a little too much. I was eager to move on. On the positive side, 2012 was a year of reflection, healing, self-discovery and moderate political activism. I welcomed the time away from the pressure to constantly create things because everything I created felt stale and had becoming less organic and more akin to an assembly-line. That's an efficient way to pay the bills, but I had hit the wall.

I needed to replenish the so-called artistic batteries. Everything that I churned out from 2004-2011 was a byproduct of a decade or more of hard living from the roaring 90s to that peculiar era of paranoia in the years right after 9/11. My brain was a mental sponge that mopped up a decade worth of experiences, travel, indulgence, gambling, and (pop) culture. Eventually, I wrang it all out in blog form. Fine line between sculpting art and taking a shit. I got lucky for a few years because I was taking brain dumps... and got paid for it.

The creative juices are like your laptop battery after a couple of years. It doesn't power up as quickly and as long as it used to, like when you first got it. Remember when you first got your iPhone? Seemed like you could use it a day or two on a full charge. Now? It goes half-empty after an hour.

I got stuck in that rut. I realized instead of constantly recharging, I needed to start again from scratch.

"I'm gonna get me a new Bob Dylan and see how long he lasts," lamented a road-weary Dylan in No Direction Home, while pacing in his dressing room in London, as he fretted over a terrible singing voice.

Ah, if only it were that easy. Go to the store and buy a new me. Maybe Amazon drone will fly me a new me? That way I can get three or four of me to work on different projects and websites while the real me watches four NBA games at once.

Clones are just around the corner, but so are barcodes, Robocops, and galactic credits.

I went from skinny Elvis to bloated Elvis overnight. And you know how the King died? Face down, ass up in his bathroom. The horse tranquilizers and peanut butter, bacon and banana sandwiches did him in. Time to hop in the time machine and kidnap skinny Elvis.

I needed more time than expected to return to full writing speed. I usually have two speeds: off and balls to the wall. That's why 2013 was frustrating. It was like being in football practice without pads. I wanted to go full speed and crack some skulls, but I wasn't ready yet and still rusty. That's why I forced myself to write something daily here.

At the beginning of 2012, I knew I was shutting down everything. In 2013, I started some things back up, but in a consolidated fashion. I wanted to write 500 words a day here. Baby steps. Easy daily goal to get myself disciplined for a return to web assembly-line content production. Churn 'em and burn 'em.

I got into a routine here for about six months until I went on the road for the summer and then again for a month in the fall and again for several weeks at the end of the year. I only had about 10 weeks of non-travel in the second half of the year, which is reflected in the sparse postings here. Overall, I got the best of both worlds in 2013... some quiet time at home to get back into game shape and recharging the creative juices, plus some time on the road to soak up more experiences that I'd eventually wring out onto the pages in 2014 and ensuing years.

Here are some of the highlights from the last twelve months, the majority of it from the first half of last year...

January 2013
Writing Between the Lines - An argument why I should get drunk before I visit the post office.

14 Alaskan Crab Legs , Tax Exempt Hustlers, and Stardust - I went to Las Vegas only one time in 2013. Seriously. Only once. Here are three quick bits on my last trip.

Emo Pandas, Jesus Fence, and Jack's Obituary - A nifty lil post about Kerouac.

Orphans in San Francisco - Several unfinished, unconnected, unpublished things from San Francisco in early 2012.

The Mad Shitter, Mad Pisser, and Fat Naked Guy - Defecation and urination humor at its finest. Three stories (one each from high school, college, and post-grunge Seattle) in which I encountered someone who was dubbed the Mad Shitter or the Mad Pisser

Monday Morning Lurid Gaze - My neighbor, a struggling actress (with an emphasis on struggling) got into a huge fight with her boyfriend. Another typical Monday morning in Hollyweird.

Road Trips, David Foster Wallace, and Really Good Cocaine - Strong candidate for post of the year. This is an essay of sorts about one of my favorite authors, DFW.

Freeze Time (Fiction) - This is a fiction piece set on the fringe of the jazz world in the 1950s. Or the 1960s. I forget. Time gets fuzzy like that.

Illusion of Sanity in an Insane World of Snooki and Cage Matches - Another tirade about the Snookification of the World. Plus, there's a mentioning of a cage match against bears.

Transportation and Fucked-Up People - Potential future novel excerpt about living in NYC in the mid-90s... that is, if I ever get off my ass and finish that unfinished novel. For now, it's a flashback about a conversation I had with a friend before we started work one morning.

Sugar Plum-Stealing Cannibals and Swaying Palm Trees - A rare windstorm and a spooky moon hovered over Los Angeles. Insanity ensued.

Time, Shades of Pink, and Modern Consumption - Another rant about rampant consumerism and the coddling culture of self-indulgence which is destroying culture.

February 2013
Undesirables, Hell on Earth, and the Tao of Ned Ryerson - Amateur philosophizing on Ground Hog's Day.

Disorder at the Border (Fiction) -  Dexter Gordon's album Disorder at the Border had inspired some of Kerouac's passages during the typing of On the Road. This piece was inspired by both Kerouac and Gordon.

Binge Entertainment - I watched the entire season of the new Netflix series: House of Cards.

Russian Day Care, Fleet of Taxis, Chain Smokers, Dog Walkers, and the Old Couple in Matching Track Suits  - Who are the people in your neighborhood? A rundown of the folks in the Slums of Beverly Hills.

Freddy Bones (Fiction) - The weekly fiction series continues. This installment took place in 1953.

Year of the Snake, Lizard Queen and Hillary Clinton Reptilian Shapeshifter - Chinese New Year ushered in the Year of the Snake. What does the Queen of England, Hillary Clinton, and Land of the Lost have to do with the new year? Everything.

Neighborly Turbulence, Squabbles, and  Brouhahas- My neighbors fought all weekend. The actress was an emotional trainwreck and ripped through her boyfriend like a vicious hurricane.

The Trumpet Under Aunt Mary Mae's Bed (Fiction) - The weekly short fiction series continues. This one is set in 1958 and features more junkie musicians than you can shake a stick at.

Permanent Records, Credit Scores, and Chocolate Conspiracy Theories - Nicky and I celebrated our anniversary. Shocker.... seven years with my girlfriend. Plus, banksters prey on the lazy ones looking to buy a shortcut to the American Dream.

Bad Bands - Nothing is worse than seeing a bad band.

The Slums' Swing - There's a huge difference between my neighbors in San Francisco and Los Angeles. More musings from the Slums of Beverly Hills.

Red Plastic Bag - Ever have to take a shit on an airplane? Disclaimer... this is a very disgusting post.

The Music Remains the Same: Vinyl, Cassette, CD, and MP3 - My music collection has expanded and contracted over the years and taken on many different forms as technology has improved.

Surly Sully and Crotch-Grabbing Remo (Fiction) - Another junkie-themed short story set in the jazz era.

March 2013
Tao of Angela Chase and Jalen Rose - Middle-age malaise and nostalgia. I'm almost the same age as the dad from My So-Called Life. Plus, some wisdom from Jalen Rose.

Girls: OCD, It's Back - I wrote the first of several lewd recaps of Girls from the standpoint of a dirty, old man. Yes, I get wasted, then hate-watch Girls with my girlfriend, and then write about it.

Doctor THC - The differences between medicinal marijuana doctors in West Hollywood versus San Francisco.

Pay the Fucking Writer - It's a bitch working as a freelancer and often impossible to get paid. Plus, a video of a classic rant by Harlan Ellison.

Lee Morgan the Sidewinder - I wrote a bit about my affinity for Lee Morgan, the tragic trumpet player.

Writers, Booze, and Drugs - Another candidate for post of the year. If I had a chance to hang out with 16 of my literary heroes, what kind of drugs or booze would I do with them?

Beck's 'Loser' Turns 20 - Us Gen X'ers are getting old. Beck's Loser is now 20 years old. Zoinks!

Girls: Jizz - Another recap of Girls, this one about the highly controversial money shot.

Jack 91 - Jack Kerouac's 91st birthday. Plus, reading On the Road for the first time in high school and then re-reading it as an adult several times while living in different cities.

The Actress Took Down the Curtains - My hysterical actress neighbor finally kicked out her boyfriend and then moved out two weeks later.

St. Puke's Day - The evolution of St. Patrick's Day, as told by me at three different times in my life -- Catholic school kid watching the parade on Fifth Avenue, to party-hound beer-guzzling frat boy in Savannah, to a struggling-writer-cum-bartender in NYC.

Girls: Together Finally - Another dirty-old-man recap of the season finale of Girls.

Think Pieces, No Hats on the Bed, and Utah Get Me Two Whenever I see three certain films on cable TV -- Almost Famous, Drugstore Cowboy, and Point Break -- I'm compelled to sit down and watch it.

The Holes - If you dig Art Bell and other paranormal things, then you want to figure out what the hell is happening at Mel's Hole outside Yakima, WA.

Such a Lovely Place - I was surprised by how much I enjoyed watching the documentary on the Eagles, because I never really liked the band. This would spark a summer-long obsession with the documentary that inspired several more posts.

April 2013
Distracting Red Blinking Lights - The 21st Century will end with a war between man vs. the machines. I'm trying to figure out a balance between staying on the cutting edge without becoming a slave to the machine.

Weird Tales - Music in the form of 'mix tapes' jog the memory when things get hazy.

Binge Reading - Reading books in one sitting... is a good thing.

The Puke Secret - The key to writing is to write... a lot... an regurgitate everything inside your head.

Wind Chimes, Wind Choices - The real living occurs when you stray away from the path of comfort and normalcy.

Bill Clinton and the Battle of Wounded Knee - Did  you hear about the time shitfaced Bill Clinton blew out his knee after tumbling down a flight of stairs at Greg Norman's house?

Twitter Birthdays and Media Obituaries - Wow, five years on Twitter? Waste of time? Or worthy effort? Plus, some thoughts on the future of postmodern journalism and our insatiable appetite for new content every few minutes.

Shadows (Fiction) - The shadow people are real.

Bad Films: Bagger Vance -- I love sports films, but Bagger Vance was one of the worst I've ever seen.

German Speed and Early Beatles - After I watched a documentary on the Beatles documentary, I got fascinated with the early days when they were gigging in German clubs while fried on speed.

Giant Fucking Robots (Fiction) - It had been a while since I published some blog fiction. Here is a conversation that may or may not have taken place on a Los Angeles street corner in the near distant future.

30 Really Really Really Really Bad Story Ideas: Blind Jupiter, Ghost Cats, and the Return of the Shadow People - I wrote down a really bad story idea... one every day in the month of April. Here's the master list of 30 half-baked ideas and I hope I can turn one of them into a long-form project.

May 2013
Rattle and Hum: 25 Years Later - I watched U2's documentary Rattle and Hum again as an adult and have a few things to say about the film, my 15-year old self, Bono's ego, and the state of U2.

Those Superfluous Wankers (Fiction) - Inspired by the documentary film Dig! and the rivalry between Courtney from The Dandy Warhols and Anton from Brian Jonestown Massacre.

Hunter Thompson's Depraved and Decadent Kentucky Derby - On the eve of the Derby, I paid my respects to Hunter S. Thompson's groundbreaking piece of gonzo journalism.

Shut Up and Play the Hits or How I Killed a Purple Cow - I saw the documentary about the break up of LCD Soundsystem and their final show at MSG, which really hit home because I also made a difficult decision to pull the plug on Tao of Poker.

Three Empty Apartments - A struggling actress with anger issues and violin player moved onto the next phase of their lives as a part of the transient nature in the Slums of Beverly Hills.

Scar Tissue and Funky Monks - A review of Anthony Keidis' memoir Scar Tissue, which provided instant flashbacks about seeing the Red Hot Chili Peppers for the first time in high school.

Starbucks Hell, 90210 - The customers at my local Starbucks fall into four annoying categories.

No Soap Radio - As a child of the 1970s, radio shaped my entire life and became a solid foundation for my passion about music.

Whiskey and Ice Cream - I dig Noah Baumbach films, particularly Greenberg, because the main character is a grumpy New Yorker who lives in L.A., but doesn't drive a car.

Speed Men - The latest episode of Mad Men was jacked up on speed. And other things. Plus, I revealed what it was like having a prescription to Adderall and why I don't take it anymore.

Bad Backs, Bad Manners, and I Know Why You Hate Baseball - I figured out why some people hate baseball... it stems from a bad childhood.

2023: Pro Soccer, Green Zones, Internet Speakeasy, and Cat TV -  A glimpse into the future. It's not pretty with rampant crime and limited internet access, but soccer is king and the most popular channel is 24/7 Cats. All cats, all the time.

Get Paid to Be Dick on Facebook - I envy people with jobs that allow them to squat on social media sites all day... every day... all the fucking time. Plus, more ranting about the rise of the internet troll.

Happy 11 - The Tao of Pauly turned 11. Wait, 11? Yes. Derp.

Shaking Up the Establishment, Sitting in Limbo, and Fading the Valley of Death - Thrilled that I don't have to willingly commit myself to a seven-week stint to an insane asylum in Vegas.

Morphine Drip of Binge TV - I binge-watched the new season of Arrested Development on Netflix. Welcome to the future of scripted entertainment.

The Cult of Social Media - Social media... a self-destructive tool of vanity, vapidness, and over-identity issues. It's the new opiate of the mass. Plus, Facebook is a cult. Admit it. You'd like to leave, but you can't. because you loved the flowing robes and hive mind. 

June 2013
Lines on the Mirror, Lines on Her Face - Song lyrics capture the essence of something so specific that you can't really explain why. Plus, I explain why I keep writing about the Eagles even though I don't like them?

Pete Campbell's Magical Mystery Tour - It finally happened. Pete Campbell finally decided to get baked. And yes, I only write about the "drug episodes" of Mad Men.

Foxygen: Subversive Anti-Hipsters or Full-Blown Plasticine PoMo Trash?: I can't decide if I like the band Foxygen or not. I listen to their debut album nonstop. Does that make me a hipster? Or a hipster hater? Or a hipster that hates hipsters? Or a hipster that hates hipster haters?

The Repair Shop: Cougar Spies, Suicidal Screenwriters and Porn Viruses - My laptop broke and I met a crew of interesting folks at a computer repair shop in the Slums of Beverly Hills... cougars, porn addicts, and distraught writers.

Full Moon Fever and Dirty Blvds. - Three albums dominated the crazy summer in NYC when I was 16: Tom Petty. The Pixies. Lou Reed.

Southern Fried Radio and Rise of the Machines - Radio is dead. I had mixed emotions about radio stations in different cities where I lived. |FYI... the future of music (distribution) is in the hands of tech geeks.

Police Helicopters, Justin Beiber's Monkey, Alley Possums - A helicopter woke my ass up. What the hell was going on in the slums of Beverly Hills?

On Green Dolphin Shit (Fiction) - It's about... photographs. I think.

Tony Soprano Trapped in Time - James Gandolfini passed away in Italy. The actor who played Tony Soprano did a tremendous job but it was impossible for anyone to imagine him as anything else.

The Ghosts of Stella D'oro - The death of Tony Soprano got me thinking about one of my favorite Italian restaurants in the neighborhood where I grew up.

Naismith Highway: The Long Run - The NBA season finally ended. It was a long 7.5 months because I was betting on basketball every day. Broke even. Barely.

Off the Wall - Working from home has its advantages... and tons of disadvantages.

Super Moon, Alley Wankers, and Keep the Loonies on the Path - What happens when you have a super moon? Freaks in our alley. That's what.

Joe Fucking Walsh and Free Crack on YouTube - YouTube is like a crack dealer. During my recent crack binge, I cam across a couple of gems from the Howard Stern show including a great interview with Joe Walsh. Yes, I also wrote a little bit about the Eagles again.

July 2013
Linklater's Sappy 'Before' Movies - When I was in college, I wanted to be the next Richard Linklater (at the time he had done Slackers and Dazed and Confused).

RIP Google Reader - I already miss my all-time favorite RSS reader.

Couch Tour, Webcasts, and Live Streams - I've embraced the ability to attended concerts without leaving my home. The technology is here to beam live streams of my favorite bands and music festivals, so now I don't even have to get off the couch.

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

Giant Fucking Robots - Warner Brothers is printing money with their high-concept film Pacific Rim. Yes, Giant Fucking Robots will make at least $1 billion and spawn two more sequels.

Vacant, Nevermore - After sitting empty for a couple of months, we finally have new neighbors.

Rabbit Holes, Prune Hands, and Losing Time - On the road.

August 2013
The Circus of Light; First Wave of Flashbacks - I tried to explain the strangest aspects of Phish tour to non-phans.

A Few More Lingering Flashbacks from the Circus - A few things, thoughts, and wispy memories of the last few weeks on the road following Phish.

Swapping Addictions: The Eagles for LCD Soundsystem; My Odd Obsession with Music Documentaries - No longer addicted to watching the documentary about the Eagles! I swapped that band for a new-found addiction to the LCD Soundsystem documentary, Shut Up and Play the Hits.

The (Melodious) Voice That Silenced the Machines - I miss the actress who lived across the alley. Rather, I missed her voice and the random times she'd sing.

Jump Into the Fire and Drinking Cognac With Harry Nilsson - A walk down memory lane with my initial introduction to Harry Nilsson, (drinking buddies with John Lennon, whenever Lennon visited LA).

Sneeze Drizzle and Beating Dead Horses - If you can't beat them.... join them. Time to recycle some old shit and make a bunch of moolah.

Feed All the Kangaroos - My girlfriend hates Steely Dan with a passion, but I love the band. They came through LA for a couple of shows and I went solo and got to sit in the fourth row.

Real World LA Flashbacks: Cowboy Guy, Drunk Irish Dude, and the Chick Who Got Knocked Up By Kenny Anderson - Flashback to the first time I watched the Real World (season 2 in LA).

When Flying Monkeys Marched Through the Flood Streets Like Saints - You can always win EVERYTHING with flying monkeys.

September 2013
Revolutions? Not During Football Season - America will never have a revolution or civil war during football season because we're brainwashed and would rather glorify extreme violence instead of protesting the scumbags running the government.

2 A.M. Thoughts: Michael J. Fox and Fake Plastic Friends  - Late night brain dump featuring Michael J. Fox's horrible portrayal as a cokehead in Bright Lights Big City.

Silky Back Roads - More unfiltered late night ramblings featuring Miles Davis, Jerry Garcia, and watered-down lemonade.

The Seinfeld Sci-Fi Tangent and Futuristic Grey Overalls - I wondered about something Seinfeld joked about -- would we all be wearing the same uniform in the future like so many dystopian films suggested?

Salinger - I saw new documentary on J.D. Salinger and had mixed feelings. But hey, it took nine years to make the film, so it was worth the wait.

Obey. Cosume. Watch TV. - I read Jonathan Lethem's book about the John Carpenter's cult classic film They Live! Freaky stuff.

Lefsetz's Slanket (Fiction) - I overheard conversation about the state of the entertainment industry and the music biz versus Hollywood. It inspired some new fiction.

2AM: No Expectations - More experimental writing.

Wall Crickets - I have crickets living in my walls. They never see daylight and chirp at all hours.

Everything I Know About Politics I Learned from Watching the TV Sitcom 'Benson' - Hollywood taught me everything I need to know about how the political realm works.

Writing to Live and Feeding F. Scott's Vampire Monkey - F. Scott Fitzgerald ended up in Hollywood cranking out bad scripts for MGM. How did one of America's greatest novelists end up broke, feeding an addiction, and chasing a quick buck?

October, November and December 2013
Bad Films: After Earth - I sat through Will Smith's film that was a subversive ad for Scientology.

Big Air - Mat Hoffman is a BMX legend and daredevil 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 about getting stuck.

iFuture - Apple owns our future. We're just a bunch of addicts and Apple is the super-rich dealer.

A Cocktail of Optimism for Taylor Hicks - Los Angeles is a brutal town, especially when it chews up and spits out creative types.

157 Days and 3 Magic Bullets - When I was a kid, inside of 157 days lone assassins took shots at President Reagan, Pope John Paul 2 and John Lennon. How does a kid process that information? I realized you don't want too much power because that will attract the crazies.

10,000 Monkey Hours - If you do anything for 10,000 hours, will you really become proficient in it?

The Return to the Big Easy - I visited New Orleans for the first time since Katrina.

Dive Bar Sanctuary - Hanging out in dive bars in New Orleans reminded me why I love dive bars so much.

That's all I got for now. As you can tell, I put more time into Tao of Pauly over the first six months of 2013. I seriously slacked the second half, especially the last three months. On a positive note, in November I swapped out time here to pen a first draft of a new novel. Let's see if I can finish a re-write in January.

Thanks for following along. Let's see if I can keep it going in 2014. I'll resume the "500 words a day" limit in order to instill some discipline at the start of the new year before I get busy with other work or have to hit the road.

1 comment:

  1. Happy new year and thanks for sharing your thoughts