Friday, February 28, 2014

Around the Horn: February 2014

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

In case you just woke up from a coma, or if you're a monthly visitor, here's an index of everything that I "blogged" about here (and elsewhere, but mostly here).

The highlights from Tao of Pauly over the previous four weeks...
Super Bowl Pick and Other Handicapping Videos - My pal Buffalo66 is a professional sportsbettor. He shares his daily picks by posting daily videos. Here was his initial Super Bowl pick.

Super Bowl Tradition: Where the Buffalo Roam - Bill Murray played Hunter S. Thompson in this 1980 film. It has it's ups and downs (mostly downs), but some scenes are hysterical like the Super Bowl stuff. That's the main reason I re-watch it on the morning of the Super Bowl. It has become a odd tradition of sort.

PSH RIP - Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman passed away on the morning of the Super Bowl from a heroin OD.

Bad H: The How and Why - Disturbing, haunting, yet honest video explanation on how heroin addiction sneaks up on you.

Smooth Grooves and Melted Clocks - It's all about finding a groove.

Debut of Dope Stories Podcast - After five months of planning, Shane and I launched a new podcast about... drugs.

RIP The Fat Guy - One of the coolest bloggers from Texas passed away after a tough battle with cancer.

Those Wacky Cold (War) Olympics - A prelude to this year's winter Olympics held in Sochi, Russia.

Beatles Invade America 1964 - It was 50 years ago today...when the Fab Four touched down at JFK airport.

Inside Dope: Behind the Scenes of Ep 002 [PSH and 90s Heroin Chic]  - I started writing a companion piece for every episode of Dope Stories, sort of sharing the inside dope or letting you behind the scenes of the recording of each episode. This special episode was devoted to the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman

The Initial Dope Stories Playlist - Shane compiled a list of songs we discussed or used during the recording of Dope Stories.

Inside Dope: Behind the Scenes of Ep. 003  - I did not have the chance to attend the L.A. Cannabis Cup, however, Shane and DJ Trent went. Here's the behind the scenes post about the recording of that Dope Stories episode.

Eight  - I celebrate my anniversary with Nicky on February 14th. It's a way to re-claim the over-commercialized aspect of Valentine's Day. And yes, we've been together for eight years. Unreal, right? Oh, and there's some Violent Femmes involved too.

Binge Watching: House of Cards 2.0 - Another season appeared on Netflix. It only took me 36 hours to polish off 13 episodes. Reminded me of the days when I considered a life in politics.

Subscribe to Dope Stories; We're Finally On iTunes...  - Yes, the subject says it all. Get Dope Stories automatically downloaded to your iTunes when it appears every Thursday.

Central Park: Danger at Dusk - A little something about the craziness of Central Park after dark.

Morning Pollution - Some sort of poem. Maybe it's a song? I have no idea. The morning sounds inspired me... and this wrote itself.

Inside Dope: Behind the Scenes of Ep. 004 [Crack 101]    - This was a highly-controversial episode... in which Shane reveals his experiences with crack.

Grandma's MTV  - Ah more 90s nostalgia. I recalled a month in 1994 when I did not have access to cable TV, so I spent every afternoon visiting my grandmother... so I could watch MTV in the background.

Oral History of Grunge  - I never read a 555 page book faster than Everyone Loves Oir Town by Mark Yarm. Yes, it's an oral history of the grunge scene.

Lost Sutro Souls - I spent several months in San Francisco under a pharmaceutical fog. This piece explains one of my daily routines while struggling with addiction to painkillers.

Stanley Kubrick's Boxes - Great mini-doc on the discovery of thousands of boxes on Stanely Kubrick's estate that included oodles of research for his films.

Inside Dope: Behind the Scenes of Ep. 005 [The Oxy Years] - I delved deep into my addiction to prescription opiates.

And here's this month's writing music (mostly in heavy rotation)...
Writing Music: Maceo Parker's Life on Planet Groove
Writing Music: Freddie King
Writing Music: Giant Steps - John Coltrane
Writing Music: Galactic

A few longer pieces hat I wrote over at Coventry Music or Ocelot Sports....
Pot Rules:  Four-on-Four and New Stanley Cup Finals Between USA and Canada - A post on a half-baked idea on how to improve the NHL by reducing a player and re-structuring the divisions to create a Canada vs. USA Stanley Cup Finals.

Today in Phishtory: Mango Song and Gateway Drugs - Shocker that one of my favorite albums from college had turned 22 years old.

You should download the Bluff Magazine app. It's free and you can view the current issue of the magazine (whereas you have to wait a month to read print content via the web). Here's my monthly column at Bluff from the last three issues (November 2013, December 2013, and January 2014):
Shaniac Mexico Robusto - Yes, my co-host in Dope Stories went deep in one of the largest online poker tournaments of the year, which he had to play in a hotel room in Mexico.
Rounders: 15 Years Later - Over 15 years since its initial theatrical release, I shared some thoughts on the cult classic poker film (with Matt Damon and Ed Norton).

Behind Jesse May's Novel 'Shut Up and Deal' - It's been almost 20 years since Jesse May wrote his renown poker novel, and I chatted with him about his writing process, some of the characters in the book, and how he captured a specific time and place in the poker world.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Inside Dope: Behind the Scenes of Ep. 005 [The Oxy Years]

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

It's Thursday and time for a new episode of Dope Stories.

Introducing episode five... The Oxy Years.

We launched Dope Stories three weeks ago and I'm still amazed we were able to pull it off. The first four shows were a mixture of psychedelic freakouts, heroin, crack cocaine, and medicinal marijuana. The main topic of this week's show was "getting to know Pauly" as Shane put it, with prescription opiates as the center of the drug discussion.

Last week Shane really put himself out there explaining his experiences with cocaine. Truly a courageous feat, considering the sensitivity of the topic. I was inspired to open up a little more about the ups and downs of my addiction issues, specifically the last three years. I have written sporadically about my battle with prescription painkillers, but I tried to answer some of Shane's questions about how I ended up hooked on Oxy after a car accident in Vegas a couple of summers ago.

Here's the "setlist" for episode 005...

Listen to episode 005 - The Oxy Years...

Here is the direct download link (right-click, save-as).

Subscribe to Dope Stories on iTunes.

Sound Cloud:
RSS feed:
Twitter: @DopeStories

Listen to previous shows.... Episode 1 , Episode 2, Episode 3, and Episode 4.

Also, here's my other Inside Dope posts, which give you a behind the scenes look at the creation of the first few episodes:

Inside Dope - Ep 2: Philip Seymour Hoffman and 90s Heroin Chic
Inside Dope - Ep 3: Start Up Dot Weed and L.A. Cannabis Cup
Inside Dope - Ep 4: Crack 101

Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Writing Music: Galactic

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Man... I fucking loved Galactic at the turn of the century.

The New Orleans band was one of those groups you dropped everything you were doing and saw them play whenever they came through NYC. Their drummer, Stanton Moore, is an alien. Seriously. No human can play like he does. I can write three or four books about why I think Stanton is from another planet.

I can't remember how many times I caught Galactic at Irving Plaza. I even flew out to San Francisco with Senor once to see them play the Warfield Theatre. I once followed them through Colorado (playing ski resorts) with my girlfriend at the time. I also can't recall how many times I caught the G-men in New Orleans at various late-night Jazz Fest shows.

If you ever caught them at Tips, or some other joint in New Orleans... Galactic was one of those bands that did not come on until a few hours after Midnight and they played a couple of hours past sunrise. They were the band that you brought sunglasses to see... because when you left the venue at 7am, you needed shades to protect your vampire eyes from the blinding light.

This is a "live" album. The Late for the Future album got heavy airplay by yours truly. Roadtrips. Parties. Writing. Booty time. Wandering streets on NYC. You name the activity, I probably listened to this album in the background.

Yeah, Stanton is an alien, brah.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Stanley Kubrick's Boxes

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Stanley Kubrick. He's truly a man of mystery. Cinephiles have been combing through every frame of every film (e.g. Clockwork Orange, 2001, The Shinning, Eyes Wide Shut, and Full Metal Jacket) seeking out answers to questions that have never been asked.

Someone found a box in a stable on Kubrick's estate. A group of boxes actually. Thousands of boxes. Some boxes contained research from Stanley Kubrick's films... like a room full of boxes that included 30,000 exterior shots of doors, gates, cafes, and pubs in London... that he wanted to use for Eyes Wide Shut. Like the specific detail of the eventual hooker doorway.

Jon Ronson spliced together this documentary about the infamous boxes. Here is what he found in Kubrick's boxes...

Stanley Kubricks Boxes from JAVARING on Vimeo.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Lost Sutro Souls

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Late 2011. San Francisco.

I was told a few months earlier by a Reiki healer that indeed, I had lost my soul during a near-fatal car accident. Missing soul? I knew it. Nothing shocking. I had a huge hole. My cross to bear. I just didn't know how to find it. Or where to find it. Or if I would ever find it. And if I did find it, what would I do with it?

Weird times. Foggy times. As foggy as those nippy afternoons when the fog enveloped my neighborhood in Lower Pacific Heights.

I lived in a late-waking house.

Late meaning that everyone had late-night personalities. Nicky and Halli slept in. Every day. Rarely did they ever wake up before noon. They both stayed up late. Very late. Nocturnal house. Like cats. We were all like cats. Up all night. It's just what we were all doing. It wasn't like we were those Vegas vampires or crack-crazed zombies. Nah. It was much tamer. Our vices kept us up at odd hours.

I could never sleep. Especially in San Francisco. The Vistorian was drafty, which is why Halli dubbed it The Ice Palace. I often slept in a zero-degree sleeping bag. I wanted to move to Colorado, so if Nicky could handle the frigid temps of San Francisco, then I knew she could gut out a Colorado winter.

I was often awake very early. Once the buses started rumbling down our street, it was impossible for a light sleeper like me to stay asleep. Our house shook like a mini-quake. Took me a couple of weeks before I could distinguish a bus rolling down the hill and an actual tremor.

I loved those early mornings when I could not sleep because it felt like I had the entire house to myself. The neighborhood was covered in a medium-shade of grey. Foggy. Cloudy. Fit my mood. I wrote a bunch (rarely hit the PUBLISH button), read books, listened to pods, watched crazy conspiracy docs, and played music at a decent volume in the back of the apartment, which was so long that I could be active in the back and it would be totally cool and not wake up Nicky or Halli.

Some mornings, I just needed to get out of the house. I'd hop on the Metro, zone out to LCD Soundsystem or Coltrane, and take the bus from Lower Pacific Heights to the edge of Chinatown where it rubbed up against the Tenderloin. The bus itself always carried an eclectic mix of passengers. Melting pot. A few suits. Some office types. A slew of hipsters. Few ancient hippies. Lots of elderly Chinese ladies. And of course... myself... the lone junkie.

The bus rides were uncomfortable. I'd be stoned and dope sick. I was thrilled NOT to be going to work. It felt liberating to not have a specific boss or someone to answer to. I was in the middle of the first legit break I had in years and I stopped cranking out non-stop content for the interwebs -- for both my own sites and for clients. But I was still recovering for a car accident. Still taking pills. Still in main. Still walking around with a gaping hole.

I rode the bus stoned and dope sick. Always dope sick. Everyone morning. Until I grabbed some food and had something in my stomach so I could take my medicine. If I took the meds on an empty stomach, I'd be pretty queasy, which was never fun.

I preferred breakfast at a hipster joint in the Tenderloin staffed by waitresses and each could have been the stereotypical 20-something in San Francisco... Emo, nu-punk, Occupy-activist, Geek-chic, art school drop out, neo-hippie, retro-hipster, lipstick lesbians, po-mo-hipster, Burner, angry rich girl drowning in white guilt, and Mipsters (who were denizens of the Mission).

Nicky teased me because the super-hippie-dippy girl always hit on me. She was really in love with Halli's brother. She was being friendly with me because 1) I tipped well, and 2) She fancied Halli's brother and knew we were friends.

She actually dropped the line, "Didn't I see you at Occupy general assembly the other night?" In October 2011, that was a killer pick-up line in the Bay Area.

After I crushed an omelet and drank a pitcher of iced tea, then I could finally take my medicine. Normal... for a short period of time. But normal. Finally.

I wandered down the street to a hole-in-the-wall donut joint that had gigantic apple fritters. I picked one go. The old Chinese lady behind the counter put it in a white paper bag. It about six minutes, it would soak through with grease. I saved the donut for later. Always for later.

Some days, I got back on the bus and rode it up and down the hills of Chinatown before it dumped me off at the tip of the business district and the Embarcadero. I'd kill some time people watching (almost all tourists) before I walked over to the first stop.

Some other days after omelets at the diner, I walked around the Tenderloin to check out all the sketchy shit. Humanity. Rearing its ugly head. You'll never get that stench of urine out of your memory. You know the folks who slip though the cracks of society? They end up in the Tenderloin. Sad, yet disgusting pastiche of rejects from a Diane Arbus photo shoot and something out of your worst dystopian nightmare.

After a dose of reality and as soon as the pharmies kicked in, I hopped back on the bus. Typically, the bus driver gave you a transfer slip when you paid your fare. You had to complete your trip in a set time indicated on the slip of paper, but that was a formality. It really didn't matter if it expired. I never once saw a bus driver actually look at a transfer slip.

So long as you... 1) were not going to slash him/her in the face, and 2) had clothes on, and 3) was not completely bat shit crazy... then the driver let you on the bus.

Dope sick and faded and freaky looking, I was by far the least disheveled individual riding the Metro in SF. In a world of freaks, I blended in and became somewhat invisible.

I listened to more music. Some sad. Some ironic. Some of lifted my spirits. I gazed out the windows of the bus. Somewhat somber. Somewhat bittersweet. Sort of dreamlike. Sometimes it felt like I was caught in my own dream. In a dream loop. Line a 37-second vine that went on for infinity. Stuck in the loop until I finally woke up from my dream.

Until that wakening happened, I had no choice but to sit and look out the window. Life whizzing by. Seeking anything resembling a wispy appearance of my vanished soul.

The people. Those wandering the streets. Billions of steps in the city. Every day. They all had their own baggage. Emotional turmoil. They all had their own sordid and sorry tales to tell. I was just one of a couple million.

The rides back post-morning rush hour were usually one-sided. Mostly empty, except myself and a mix of weary old Chinese ladies with plastic bags filled with veggies and fruits and fish and other items they purchased in Chinatown that morning.

Most of the time I took the bus from the TL to the last stop. Way past Richmond and Outer Richmond. Near Sea Cliff. I wandered down Geary to Sutro Heights Park. I hung out there for as long as I felt it was necessary to gaze out at the Pacific Ocean.

Majestic view.

Sometimes I ate the apple fritter. Sometimes I let the waves mesmerize me. I controlled the music. The soundtrack to my life.

I stayed until the fog started to roll in, or until the dreaded melancholy subsided into palatable sadness. Then I walked back down Geary to the bus stop. Hopped back on the bus, gazed out the window at all the pedestrians, sneering at the hipsters, feeling compassion for the street people, wondering if any of those anonymous faces knew where I could find someone who could help me retrieve my soul.

I got off somewhere close to home, but never at the same spot.

I'd walk the last few blocks home. Hip aching. Mostly exhausted. But glad the hazy bus dream was momentarily over.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Oral History of Grunge

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I never read a 555 page book faster.

I could not put down Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge by Mark Yarm.

The locals and musicians involved in the Pacific Northwest's music scene hated the word "grunge" but that's what stuck. Two decades later, survivors sat down to talk to Mark Yarm to deliver the oral history of the raging scene from the Pacific Northwest 80s and 90s, which blended punk and heavy metal into something bong-shattering and loud as fuck.

The suits (e.g. record execs, MTV, and radio big-wig) overused the buzz word "grunge" to describe the fuzzy, distorted hard rock scene that seemed to have its epicenter in Seattle (specifically around the Sub Pop label). When the money people from Hollyweird and NYC got wind of Seattle, they invaded the town, threw a ton of cash around, gobbled up bands, and got the fuck outta dodge. In a flash, that malestrom was all over.

Yarm compiled thousands of hours of interviews talking to musicians, rock journalists and photographers, road managers, recording engineers, PR people, A & R reps, agents, biz managers, drug dealers, producers, and record label owners to get the straight dope. The author even talked to Cameron Crowe and Courtney Love.

Members from the biggest bands (Pearl Jam, Nirvana) were quoted, but they do not get as much coverage, which is cool because there's plenty of material out there about both bands. The major emphasis is on the scene as a whole... not the bands who "made it big."

A significant amount of the book was dedicated toward the second-tiered bands like Mudhoney, Screaming Trees, TAD, and L7. Those were some of the most compelling stories because those bands were constantly struggling with addiction, creative issues with their labels, and the rigors of constant touring.

There was a fair amount of discussion about Soundgarden and Alice in Chains, but it had more to do with the formation/breakup of Soundgarden and Layne Staley's addiction issues.

The book also went deep into the Seattle scene and talked about Green River, Mother Love Bone, The Melvins, U-Men, and Skinyard. The tragic story of Andy Wood, the Mother Love Bone singer who OD'd, is one of the main storylines in the first half of book. Other bands getting some love... The Gits, Supersuckers, and Cat Butt.

Hundreds of little nuggets spread throughout the book. Random things I learned from Everybody Loves Our Town...

- The Melvins lead singer Buzz used to date Shirley Temple's daughter. He claimed Temple's husband was a CIA spook.

- Duff McKagan from Guns N Roses left Seattle for LA because he wanted to be in a heavy metal band, but he was also scared because heroin had engulfed the music scene and he didn't want to become a junkie.

- Kurt Cobain never really a homeless kid who lived underneath a bridge in Aberdeen. Surprisingly, he actually played little league baseball.

- There's the unfortunate tale of Candlebox, who drew the brunt of the backlash against "corporatized grunge rock."

- The Screaming Trees got jumped outside a bar in Asbury Park, NJ the night before their first-ever spot on Letterman. Even with make-up, their lead singer has visible and obvious black eye.


Everybody Loves Our Town is a perfect companion piece to the HYPE! documentary.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Writing Music: Giant Steps - John Coltrane

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

When in doubt... go Coltrane.

Giant Steps (1960) is Coltrane's first album for the fat cats at Atlantic Records. This particular album  shines a  gigantic spotlight on Coltrane the composer. Giant Steps was the rocket ship that introduced Coltrane’s infamous "Sheets of Sound" and unique chord progressions that influenced his peers and future generations of musicians.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Grandma's MTV

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

One autumn month in the mid-90s, I stopped by my grandmother's house almost every afternoon for the sole purpose of watching MTV.

She thought I was visiting her and being a nice grandson, but the truth is I wanted to watch a few hours of MTV while eating poundcake. My grandmother had cable in her (red) brownstone, but my mom's apartment did not.

It was an awkward month. I returned home from college and stuck in the middle of a not-so-fun job hunt in the middle of a recession. Weird time before Lewinsky cock-smuggling incident, or even before I had my first AOL email address, and still seven years away from my first cell phone.

I did not know it yet, but I'd soon get a job at the Museum and move out and on with my adult life. But while I waited for the position to open up, I was stuck in that uncomfortable holding pattern as one of those recently-graduated-yet-unemployed-Gen-X-shnooks-living-at-home.

I spent those brisk September mornings making phone calls, mailing out resumes, or taking the subway into Manhattan for those dreadful interviews. By two or three in the afternoon, I'd return home emptied handed without a job or anything to do. What did 20-somethings do pre-internet time-suckage? Magazines, video games and TV. My brother took the video game system to college with him. I had limited options with regular TV, but my grandmother had cable. Full package too. So for two or three hours every week day afternoon, I watched MTV at her house.

It sounds kind of sad, and it was, because I felt like a loser watching Warren G at my grandma's while the rest of my college friends knew what they wanted to do with their lives and most of them had already lined up jobs before graduation, or they were off to law school/med school/B-school/grad school.

My post-grad plans were a huge question mark. I went 0-1 in my grad school hunt. NYU Film School said, no thanks. I did not have a student film to submit with my application (today it would be so easy make one with an iphone and a link to YouTube), but I had a screenplay. It was about an ice cream man who could not sell ice cream on the hottest day in Atlanta. I wanted to be artsy and insisted it be shot in black and white.

I applied to job listings I saw in the NY Times and waited for call backs. In the meantime, I spent my nights watching baseball games and listening to crazy New Yorkers call into all-night sports talk radio shows. If I wasn't worried about getting drug tested, I would have been smoking pot. But I was clean and bored to death.

The highlights of the day? Afternoons zoning out to MTV. The schedule included a couple hours of videos, followed by The Grind, and then The Real World. It was San Francisco. The Puck/Pedro one.

I sorta missed videos, back when MTV actually aired videos. Same time as when Comedy Central only aired comics doing stand-up in front of a brick wall. It's so weird that I can't recall what I had for dinner only three nights ago, but I can vividly recall the videos that MTV played in heavy rotation that month.

Lisa Loeb had the number one song in the nation. Stay from the Reality Bites soundtrack. Her video had a cat and she wandered around in an empty NYC loft in a continuous take. Loeb and those hipster glasses before hipster glasses became hip.

Six months had not yet passed since Kurt Cobain's suicide. MTV loved showing About a Girl by Nirvana during their Unplugged performance. You know the video. The one with Kurt wearing a green grandma sweater.

Aaliyah was getting lots of airplay. John Mellencamp had a duet with Me'Shell Ndegeocello that was a moderate hit. Snoop's classic Gin and Juice was a popular selection. That was also right around the time Sheryl Crow blew up. She had that catchy tune. Great hook. I like a good beer buzz early in the morning.

What a great fucking idea, I thought. I'm going to embrace day drinking. All thanks to an MTV video. I did it all the time in college. Day drinking. Sitting on the porch in the hot Georgia sun with a can of cheapo Old Swill.

The next afternoon after an uneventful interview in Midtown, I loosened my tie and stopped into a local pub. Jimmy's something or other. Dark. Dismal. With a surly Irish bartender and a bright red nose making cheap talk with two alkies older than God rotting away on stools in the corner. I drank the cheapest beer they had. Then bailed. I grabbed a road beer at the bodega. A tall boy. In a paper bag. I felt so grown up. I felt like my old man. I drank the beer on the subway platform. I chugged the last 1/3 when I heard the train-a-coming and felt the wind kick up down the tunnel.

I had a good beer buzz when I got to my grandmothers and sat down to watch MTV. Just in time for Coolio.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Inside Dope: Behind the Scenes of Ep. 004 [Crack 101]

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

We released the fourth episode of Dope Stories around Midnight. If you subscribed to us via iTunes, then the new episode should have download automatically.

Oh boy. It's a doozy, and it's not because Shane bought a $20 scratch off ticket. We touched on a couple of things (degen scratch offs, optimal Jeopardy strategy, my chronic insomnia and how I think George Clinton is an alien) but the main topic is Crack 101.

Consider the newest episode of Dope Stories as an introductory course with Shane as your professor. Shane wrote a little something on his blog about his "love/hate relationship" with crack.

This is a truly revealing episode about crack cocaine. Growing up in the NYC in the 80s, it was impossible not to hear the anti-crack propaganda from Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" campaign to Keith Harring's murals ("Crack Is Wack!"). In fact, when I took an express bus to high school every morning, I'd pass the Crack Is Wack mural (on 128th Street) on the Harlem River Drive.

Here is the "setlist" for episode 004...

Listen to Episode 004 - Talkin' About Base: Crack 101...

Here is the direct download link (right-click, save-as).

Subscribe to Dope Stories on iTunes.

Sound Cloud:
RSS feed:
Twitter: @DopeStories
Listen to previous shows.... Episode 1 , Episode 2 and Episode 3.

Also, here's my other Inside Dope posts and give you a behind the scenes look at the creation of each episode:

Inside Dope - Ep 2: Philip Seymour Hoffman and 90s Heroin Chic
Inside Dope - Ep 3: Start Up Dot Weed and L.A. Cannabis Cup

Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Morning Pollution

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Shower running.
Wake up.
Snort the coffee.

Eardrum piercing screeching baby.
Listless daddy, exhausted mommy.
Pebbles of poo.

Cavalcade of homeless dumpster divers.
Mexican Santa Claus and Fred Sanford doppelganger.
Aluminum cans crunching; plastic bottles smushing.

Empty green craft beer bottles.
Passive-aggro donation fund.
Trickle down hipster-economics.

Green-cardless gardeners.
Blowers strapped to their backs.
Spraying power-vacuum-sized packets of earaches.

Another illegal raking the scraps.
Metal scraping against concrete.
Another ear-jolting mess; bad vibrations.

The fat Berbers refurbishing the slum.
Power saws whirling and swirling.
Annoying buckets of noise.

Another cherry stargazer arrives.
While another dream withered up and dies.
Millions of shattered dreams for sale at the 99 cent store.

Dejections, rejections, no more callbacks.
Jilted dreamers.
Pilot title is: Dunzo.

A hairdryer moaning.
If they all go on at the same time, will it cause a black out?
Perfect hair is God's work.

A honking horn.
From a pissed-off mom whose turn it is to carpool.
Those two jewish kids are always late.

Helicopters circling above.
Aerial cacophony.
Ghetto birds, paparazzi, and traffic copters.

Garbage truck coughing.
Garbage man in greasy overalls casually rolling the dumpster bin.
Smashing over potholes.

A hungry cat meowing for food.
A dog barking for attention.
A Facebook addict frowning about the low number of "likes".

A mechanical juicer liquifying fruit.
Bacon sizzling.
Ivory Coast blend percolating.

Alarm clock buzzing and buzzing.
Lost in slumber.
Deaf in real life, but attentive in the slumber world.

Car door slamming.
Engines starting.
iPod cranking.

Shower running.
Wake up.
Snort the coffee.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Central Park: Danger at Dusk

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

In high school, if I didn't have basketball practice, sometimes I would walk through Central Park and grab the subway to go home. But only if it was light out.

I could have taken the 4 train, a couple of blocks from school, which would have transported me from the Upper East Side past Yankee Stadium and into the middle of the Bronx, but then I'd have to hop on a bus to go across the Bronx to get back to Riverdale. The Bronx had several subway lines but all of them fed into Manhattan (north to south) and none of them went across the borough (east and west).

On the days I walked across Central Park, I hopped on the 1 train, which was the West Side local that took twenty-five minutes (sometimes as many as thirty-five on bad days, and sometimes as fast as twenty if it skipped stops) to transport me from the Upper West Side to the Bronx. Once I got off the subway, I had a quick 15 minutes walk from Broadway through Kingsbridge and up the big hill to Riverdale.

As an adult living on the West Coast, whenever I visit NYC I always make time to walk through Central Park (usually to get to the museum). In high school, we used Central Park as a location for gym glass. We also used it for cross country and track practice. I can't recall how many times I ran around the Reservoir. Several hundred. At least. But that was always during the day. Never at night. Never.

My after-school walks through Central Park were always interesting. Usually I'd find groups of teeangers looking for a place to get stoned. I'd ogle at female joggers during their 3pm runs. If they didn't have to work, chances are they were models or married to very wealthy men. Then you had the nannies... usually women of color... who pushed around white babies... the future 1-percenters of America.

Central Park in the afternoons buzzed with activity. Sporting things. Cyclists. Joggers. Speed walkers. Dog walkers. Pick-up hoops. Soccer. Softball. Plus the burgeoning rollerblading craze. In the winter, you could go ice skating. And let's not forget about those freaks with binoculars - bird watchers who visited NYC from all over the world just so they could go bird watching in the middle of the concrete jungle.

But since its creation 250+ year ago, Central Park was also the location for crazy shit. Craaaaaazy shit. Murders. Assaults. Rapes. Robberies. Drug deals gone bad. Everything.

Although NYC cleaned up significantly since its broke-dick days in the 70s, crack was prevalent in the late 80s which meant there was always potential concern for petty theft. I had to be careful about walking around with my walkman (and puffy earphones).

Today, I don't worry as much but I'm still cautious and make sure I listen to music at a low volume so I can hear someone running up from behind me. Just in case.

In high school, I wanted to enjoy music while wandering through the park, but I had to be careful. You never knew when a group of rogue kids decided to surround me and demand my walkman (or tapes). It's a numbers game. They'd outnumber me and easily rob me.

Or maybe worse... what if I never saw them coming and they jumped me? That was always my main concern... get jumped from behind but not hearing anyone because I had INXS cranked up to full blast.

Alas, I devised a plan to be safe yet enjoy music. I tried to stick to paths with lots of people, then I could use the walkman. If it was getting closer to dark, or I was off the beaten path, then I'd put everything away so I could be fully alert.

So long as you did not go into the park at night (just like that Rolling Stones song Miss You), you were generally okay. I never felt unsafe cutting through the park during daylight. Then again, Central Park was the locale of bizarre sex crimes from the Central Park jogger to the Preppy Killer (Robert Chambers) choking Jennifer Levine to death behind a huge oak tree after what he claimed was "rough sex."

Although it happened in 1997, or several years after I graduated, a 15-year old rich girl (spoiled daughter of a Central Park West banskter) killed a homeless man in the park and dumped him in the lake. She was one of those bad girls who hung out in the park and partied with the local whinos. She and her boyfriend set up one of the drunks who lived in the park. She got him blotto drunk then stabbed him 50+ times, then dumped him in the Central Park Lake. Just like an episode of Law and Order, an early morning jogger noticed something floating in the lake. NYPD discovered the corpse. The baby-faced killer said she thought she'd get away with murder because she assumed the corpse would sink because the whino was "a fatty."

Central Park is fairly large (800+ acres) with lots of nooks and crannies. It's always been a gruesome place when the lights went out. You never wanted to be caught wandering around late at night when the freaks came out in numbers. And that does not include all the ghosts... all the souls who never passed over because they met their fate in the park at the hands of a knife, or a rock, or a gun. During the Great Depression, poor folks took up refuge in the park in makeshift Hooverville. Who knows how many people died of starvation in there? Those were among the original wave of ghosts.

When I worked at the Met Museum, sometimes I'd pop outside at lunchtime and burn a doobie with co-workers before going back inside and zoning out in the Degas room. But before I went inside, I wondered how many ghosts roamed the 800+ acres. Central Park was 250+ years old. You figured at least 10 people died per year... so that's something like 2,500 or so ghosts. Or roughly 3 per every acre.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Subscribe to Dope Stories; We're Finally On iTunes!

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

The subject says it all.

Dope Stories is finally available on iTunes. Yes, right HERE.

iTunes is like a mafia-owned monopoly. It's a powerful (podcasting) platform and the right people finally approved Dope Stories. You can now subscribe to us and have episodes automatically added to your queue.

Subscribe to DopeStories on iTunes now.

If you don't use iTunes, you can access our podcasts directly from the Dope Stories website. Or you can head over to SoundCloud or Libsyn. Sound Cloud even has their own app.

Sound Cloud:
RSS feed:

Don't forget, you can also follow us on Twitter at @DopeStories.

Stay tuned for our next episode on Thursday. In fact, check back every Thursday for a new episode.

Please note... Dope Stories will appear in the iTunes search function in a couple of days. So that's why it doesn't pop up when you search for it right now. We encourage you to use this specific link to subscribe to us via iTunes. Thanks!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Binge Watching: House of Cards 2.0

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

"Mr. Vice-President... that is just shy of treason."

"Just shy. That's politics."


I've written extensively about the newest phenomena. Binge watching. In the 90s, we called it being a "stoner film/tv geek." Get a whole bunch of weed, a stack of VCR tapes (rentals from Blockbuster... remember those?) or DVDs, and sink into the couch for an extended viewing session that lasted until the weed ran out, or until you passed out.

Binge watching. Americans have voracious appetites for everything. Beer. Cigarettes. Hate. Fast food. Sports. Celebrity worship. Anything Kardashian. And kittens. Let's not forget about fucking kittens. Sometimes when I think the world is about to implode with a financial meltdown or the start of WW3, I look at a kitten and all those bad thoughts vanish and I think... awww how cute, wonder if little kitty knows how much we're fucked?

Ignorance is bliss.

Binge watching. Something sinister out of the minds of Orwell/Huxley (see Amusing Ourselves to Death). Humans addicted to consuming entertainment in copious amounts. But that's what we want, or at least, we think it is what we want. An escape. A cheap escape. Without having to acquire/pay for drugs/booze, but more importantly, a quick/easy escape without paying the high price of addiction. Life is harsh, so we want to just numb our senses. Losing yourself for a dozen hours into something else. You now have a legit excuse to go a little crazy and embrace your couch and the warm, loving glow of the TV/laptop screen.

Binge watching. It's fun. Trust me, I'm an addict. If you're gonna do something, go balls to the wall. Don't dabble. Fuck this one episode at a time bullshit. Go full-blown muthafucker insane over something. Like fist through a wall, or a Pookie-crack binge. Whether it's binging on kitten memes or playing pocket pool... bring it. Bring your A-game. If you're gonna do something, really fucking do it.

That's why binge watching is becoming a national obsession. It gives us an excuse to be gluttons. I love it. Binge watching is the combination of sloth and gluttony. It's the complete opposite of jogging or fitness fads like Jane Fonda aerobic VCR tapes, Chrissy from Three's Company pitching Thighmaster, that long-haired fitness freak Tony Little, Tae Bo, and the poor fucker who invented stationary bicycles. I'm sure there's a few serious A-type personalities that incorporated Netflix viewing to their workout routine, but for the most part Americans (and some Canadians too) buried their asses into a couch this weekend and watched 13 episodes of the new season of House of Cards.

Perfect timing. Three-day weekend (Presidents Day is a federal holiday on Monday) plus it's Valentine's Day. If you don't have someone special, then you had a date with Netflix. Then again, I was a rare lucky soul who had a significant other who also hated Valentine's Day and she wanted to avoid over-crowded restaurants in favor of getting blitzed on Bubba hash and binge-watching HOC.

HOC episodes are roughly 45 minutes (minus closing credits and FWD through the opening credits). Actual viewing time of all 13 episodes could be accomplished in approximately 10 hours. I think the average American watches around 33 hours of TV per week, or 4-5 hours per day. If the average person devotes their average daily viewing to HOC, then it will take about two full days to watch it all.

But some folks want to watch it all in one sitting. 13 at once. That's the point of these Netflix releases, right? I did it thrice. With both seasons of HOC and the last season of Arrested Development. (FYI... I slowly watched OITNB, but excited to see a second season coming.)

13 in a row? Really not that tough to accomplish considering someone like me from the "TV" generation (Donald Fagen refers to Gen Xers as "TV babies" because we were raised by television). I did not do it all at once. Rather, I probably banged it out over a 36 hour period. I watched the first episode within the first hour it was release, caught 10 more on Friday, and finished off the last 2 episodes on Saturday morning.

I was in bed and couldn't sleep the other night. I had gone to bed early to wake up and write. Nicky was sound asleep, but I couldn't pass out. I picked up my phone and realized that HOC season 2 was released at Midnight PT. All 13 episodes. It was almost 12:30am. I fired up the first episode and watched it via phone... in bed. When the first OMG moment happened, I click off and looked on Twitter and noticed that thousands of others had a similar reaction to a shocking reveal in the first episode.

It was funny, yet curious, to see how others reacted to the "OMG now fucking way!"moments in real time via Twitter. I felt there were two OMG moments... in the first episode and a later episode toward the end... and I could tell how far friends (and strangers) were based on similar reactions.

When Nicky woke up to go to work Friday, I encouraged her to watch the first episode over breakfast and coffee.

"Trust me. You don't want it to be ruined with spoilers by the time you get to work. Someone in your office might have stayed up to watch the first episode, or you'll find out about it via Twitter or those show biz sites you frequent."

Nicky reluctantly said yes. I felt she was humoring me more than anything. But after it was over, she was glad I told her to watch it. By the time she got home from work ten hours later, the word was out. She would have been spoiled.

Binge watchers. I'm one of those poor fucktards. Binge watchers devouring HOC in the first 16 hours were in a unique situation because they had free time and the ability to consume it all on a weekday (Friday). That group included students, unemployed, sick people, retirees, artist-types like myself, or folks who worked from home but decided to watch HOC instead.

For working class 9-5 folks, their first chunk of free time happened on Friday night when they got home (save for a few west coasters who watched an episode or three when it debuted at Midnight PT). Maybe those 9-5ers got as far as halfway on Friday night, but most likely they knocked out three or four episodes and finally polished it off on Saturday. I assume the majority of HOC consumers watched the bulk of the new season Saturday and completed it on Sunday. I'm sure Netflix has specific metrics. Would love to see those.

But I saw a shocking number.... 15% of ALL Netflix users watched the first episode of HOC within 24 hours of its release. Yes, so sick.

I also assume there were a bunch of people who simply didn't have the time (work, kids, Valentine's Day, holiday weekend, bad weather) to engage in binge watching, or in two/three batches. I'm sure they'll slowly watch it over this week and maybe spread it out over a month. But that's tough to do with the material for HOC.

Optimal viewing? Watch three at a time and then spend an hour going back over the previous episodes to watch anything you missed.

Of course, I had a rare chance to watch it twice in the first 48 hours. Nicky was on a much different schedule because of work. So I watched most of the episodes a second time on Friday night and again on Saturday when Nicky binge-watched. I tailed her binge! But for something like HOC, it was necessary so I could fill in the blanks and figure out shit I overlooked or missed.

HOC is broken up into chapters... not episodes... so it feels more like a novel. Sometimes chapters seem boring in books, but you can speed read, skim, or move on. Tough to do with a TV series if they are releasing them the old-fashioned way at one at a time at set intervals. As a novelist, I want to write short chapters to keep stuff moving along. But it's not easy with TV. Sometimes there are a few episodes in a series that seem like nothing is happening. Those are enough to alienate casual (or new) viewers. However, in a binge series like HOC, that snoozer of an episode represents a small portion of your viewing time that day, so it doesn't irk you as much.

With so much fucking entertainment available in the internet age coupled with reduction in attention spans in our ADHD culture, you better create something compelling otherwise you'll lose out to the alternative. You have to fight serious psychological disorders such as FOMO1 and the fact there's something else more exciting out there that is just a click away on the dial or via a rabbit hole search on YouTube.

Binge watching is not a brand-new 21st century invention. I can count days and weeks I lost watching college basketball since I was a wee one. March Madness is catered to hoops enthusiasts and it is a gambling junkie's wet dream.

In college, all we needed was a VCR and tapes to engage in binge-watching marathons. Usually it would be a bunch of Seinfeld eps or The Simpsons jammed onto a 6-hour VHS tape. I remember the time a couple friends of mine had some liquid sunshine and we were blotto forever it seemed, but still not completely sober so we rode out the buzz and watched Linklater's Dazed and Confused three times in a row before we felt like we could properly re-enter Earth's atmosphere. In between the second and third viewing, we went to McDonalds to get biscuits just after it opened at 6am. We then housed the biscuits and watched Wooderson and company for a third time.

When DVD technology came along, you could have binge on your favorite directors or blow through your entire library. Then entire TV shows were released via DVD, so you could catch up with an entire season in one sitting. DVD collections became an arbiter of taste and pop culture coolness. As my pal Shaniac said, "You used to be judged on what DVDs were on your shelf."

But those were the origins of binge watching. Technology and the internet aged ushered in opportunities to binge watch anything. Kitten videos. Hockey fights. Every episode of Cheers.


House of Cards is sort of like a postmodern version of Shakespeare blended with Machiavelli yet set in the treacherous hallways of DC. The original show appeared in the U.K. and was based on politics in the 80s. I still have yet to see that but I will try to binge watch that someday.

I adore the Claire character (Robin Wright). She's like Lady Macbeth meets Hilary Clinton on steroids. The true Ice Queen. And the Frank character (Kevin Spacey)? Sleazier than sleaze and corrupted as fuck all. He's the type of shifty guy who would fuck you in the ass and make you pay for the Vaseline. I love how the Frank character talks directly to the camera. Sometimes it feels like Ferris Bueller grew up to become a smarmy southern politician.

HOC almost made me miss the politics game. Almost. I studied southern politics under one of the greatest minds in the political science realm (Dr. Merle Black, who has a twin brother named Earl who is also a well-known poli sci professor at North Carolina). I never missed a Dr. Black lecture, which says something because I skipped class all the time in college to follow the Grateful Dead or bong out on the couch watching ski flicks like Aspen Extreme and Ski School. Seriously. I never went to class and found the littlest excuse to avoid a classroom. But Dr. Black's lectures were something I would never miss. Such a captivating speaker and he really explained how backroom politics really worked... and not how we thought politics worked after being brainwashed by the MSM. I learned more about politics through Dr. Black (his courses and reading his books) and reading Fear and Loathing On the Campaign Trail '72 book2 than anything else combined.

I was thisclose to pursuing a career in politics. Not as a politician, but using my poli sci degre as a minion. I had worked on two congressional campaigns in college. I guess I'm a mush. Both my candidates lost, including Ben Jones, otherwise known as Cooter from Dukes of Hazzard. Jones was the incumbent (he served two terms as a congressman from Georgia), but he got stomped (only winning 33%) by his opponent, a fellow named... Newt Gingrich.... who was more crooked and twisty than Lombard Street (in San Francisco). I had hoped Jones would win his re-election bid, because I would have hit him up for a job after college, but I backed the wrong pony in that race. Instead of sticking around Atlanta and working tirelessly on different elections, I put aside politics and migrated north. I returned to my hometown of NYC to pursue a career on Wall Street (with a pitstop at an art museum while I was procrastinating the inevitable recruitment as a bankster). In college, I figured I'd be a pollster or grunt in the trenches. I could only imagine a potential career trajectory if I stuck around Atlanta and became one of those congressional staffers... I'd be 41, wearing cheap suits, gobbling pills and writing speeches for low-hanging fruit in DC.

It's funny that House of Cards is a show about politics. Sure, it's fictional and waaaaaay out there, but it's funny how we're being constantly distracted. Sleight of hand. Divisive politics. The powers that be don't want you to pay attention to their affairs. They want to keep you occupied and busy. They don't want you to have free time to think, because if you actually think about things... you start to realize what's really going on and how bad they've been fucking you and lying to your faces.Then there are some people, a small group of folks who figured shit out and know exactly what's up, but they know better than to rock the boat. It's like some Sun Tzu shit about not fighting battles you can't win, but focusing on winning the war. Well, it's better to just load up the bong and binge watch a show about crooked politicians than to actually try to oust those slithery used-car salesmen in DC.


1. Huxley is laughing right now at that big bar in the sky where other writers hang out, drink forever without getting hungover, and troll on hacks like Ayn Rand.

2.  Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 was actually the first time I read anything by Hunter S. Thompson, but it was not on Dr. Black's syllabus. I read it for a different poli sci class.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Writing Music: Freddie King

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

How about some blues? Freddie King went down to Texas and tore some shit up with this live album Texas In My Blues...

Friday, February 14, 2014


By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Eight. I forget what eight is for.

That's a lyric from a Violent Femmes song. I listened to that song a lot in high school. Via cassette tape. Using a Walkman. One of those yellow ones. Waterproof SPORTS brand. Shatter proof technology. I wore down that tape. The Violent Femmes eponymous album. Their first one that everyone had in the late 80s. With the little barefoot girl on the cover peeking into the window of a old house. Or garage, Or whatever. From the outside...looking in. With the curiosity of the barefoot child. That simple image summed up the turmoil and longing.

I was loveless then. Like every other teenager in the Tri-state area. Lost in so many ways, but especially in the ways of the heart. High school was a brutally awkward time, especially when time itself felt like it a prison sentence in eternity. I was hopeful... as hopeful as you could be... that better times would eventually come along. I just had to suck it up, shine it on and grind out the rest of those uncomfortable high school years...and wait until I went to college, where my luck had to improve thanks to keggers and lost inhibitions.

During my last two years of high school, I often trudged the streets of Manhattan under a dazed glaze listening to ironic, melancholic music like the Violent Femmes. I wasn't drunk, nor high. Yet intoxicated on my own loneliness as an entire city blew right by me.

Since I first left home (for college), it took a dozen years of searching and a scattered trail of broken hearts before I finally figured shit out. Experience was a bitch but I took my licks and had my heart shattered, stepped on, and twisted more times than I could count. There's enough material to spawn a couple angsty novels and a few hokey rom-com screenplays too.

All that bad luck changed when I met Nicky in Los Angeles for the first time (get together aka poker home game at my friend HDouble's apt in West L.A.), even though she knew a lot about me already through my blogs and poker writing. I knew very little of her, but I'm a sucker for blondes. It really helped the cause that she was beautiful, intelligent, read a ton, plus she had her proverbial shit together. The rest is history.

Well almost...

I had to let her know who I really was before we could proceed like Dostoevsky what did with his fiancee (I briefly mentioned this in Episode 3 of Dope Stories pod). So I sent her the manuscript to one of my (unpublished) novels. If she still wanted to see me after reading it...then that meant I passed the test. Well, she read it (Gumbo a quickly and poorly written NaNo novel comprised of 10 chapters -- each chapter taking place in a different city and each chapter dedicated to a different ex-girlfriend) and despite the manuscript's self-indulgent wankery, she grokked the pages and learned just how crazy and fucked up I truly am.

She peeked in my darkness, and she still wanted to be with me. Bless her courageous heart.

I'm anti-Valentine's Day. It's one of those annoying in-your-face holidays no matter which side of the fence you're on. If you're not seeing someone and anguished by that situation, than nothing is worse than being reminded that you're inadequate. If being constantly bombarded with fear mongering advertising is not bad enough... the ad men really have to plunge the knife a couple inches deeper. If you're seeing someone, it sucks because you'll eventually buckle under pressure. Plus, no one wants to be reminded that you're a shit brick if you don't make a big deal of it. Alas, you're screwed by the Man and have to participate in one way or another. Another commercialized and over-hyped, fabricated holiday. More moolah for big business. Those fuckers running the Big Choco cartel rake in dough twice a year (October 31 and February 14) and the rest of the year is gravy.

I celebrate my eight-year anniversary with Nicky today. I can't believe it's been eight years. But here we are. I'm truly a lucky man.

We both loathed the silliness of Valentine's Day, which is why we launched a coup against the Man and decided to reclaim the 14th of February as our own. We use it as the day we celebrate our anniversary.

If we made it to 8, there's no reason we can't make it to 80. Love binds everything.

Happy 8, baby.

* * * *

Here's a walk down memory lane with the first Violent Femmes album...

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Inside Dope: Behind the Scenes of Ep. 003 [L.A. Cannabis Cup]

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Two episodes this week? Not bad for a bunch of stoners, eh?

We dropped three episodes of the newly established Dope Stories Podcast since last Thursday. We're ambitious and will attempt to post a new episode every Thursday, just in time for your commute home, or something to listen to over the weekend.

Are you a member of the iPhone cult? If so... pay close attention. You can subscribe to Dope Stories using your iPhone's podcast app... 1) click on the link to our RSS feed [], then 2) click on the "subscribe" button when prompted.

The third episode was sort of topical. Over the weekend, the second annual L.A. Cannabis Cup was held just outside of L.A.. I had to work, otherwise I would have joined Shane (and our producer DJ Trent). They had a pretty dank time. I mean, Shane told me he passed out at 9:30 at night if that's any indication about how crazy things got at the Cup.

Here's the "setlist" for episode three titled: Start Up Dot Weed: The 2014 L.A. Cannabis Cup...

The episode kicked off with addressing the first setback for Dope Stories. Shane's potential new landlord found out about his involvement in Dope Stories and denied him an apartment. Rough. Shane goes into more detail, but this is something he sort of expected would happen when you try to have a discussion about a sensitive subject. Out of that initial segment sprang up something that should be our new tagline... "We're artists, not drug addicts."

The L.A. Cannabis Cup discussion took up the bulk of the show. Our producer, DJ Trent, became our first-ever guest and we interviewed him about his thoughts. DJ Trent had several astute observations about the future of the marijuana industry, as the biz has slowly morphed away from stoners and gravitates more toward the tech field. Shane dubbed this new era "start up dot weed."

We also touched on the dabs phenomena. It's the future of marijuana... but Shane's a little hesitant to embrace it. We're looking at an inevitable showdown between old school joints and dab technology and innovation.

Listen to Episode 3 here:

Here is a direct download link for Ep 3 (right-click, save-as)

Twitter: @DopeStories
Sound Cloud:
RSS feed:
Instagram: @DopeStoriesPod  
iTunes: STAY TUNED... give us one more week!

Listen to previous shows.... episode 1 and episode 2.

Also, here's my other post about episode 2... Inside Dope Stories: The Philip Seymour Hoffman and Heroin Chic.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Writing Music: Maceo Parker's Life on Planet Groove

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

My friends from college -- Dutch & Singer -- used to blast this CD at full volume. Maceo Parker was in James Brown's band but his solo album is one of the most underrated albums ever cut in the history of music. There's more soul and gravitas in three seconds of this album than in all of Kayne's albums put together (uncredited samples included).

This album is so fucking out-of-sight that it includes a disclaimer from Maceo on the opening track: "2% Jazz and 98% funky stuff... this is known as happy music."

When I dream, I dream about being in Maceo's band for just one night.

Here's the full album. Track 2 -- Pass the Peas -- has a special affinity in my heart. It can only be listened on full volume. Anything else? Unacceptable.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Initial Dope Stories Playlist

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Shaniac compiled a playlist for Dope Stories. It's a short list, but it's the first batch of songs we discussed or sampled during the first two episodes. The usual suspects are there (Dylan, Velvet Underground, Grateful Dead, and Marley) but a couple of old school jams (Public Enemy, Dead Prez), bit of deep soul/funk (James Brown, Funkadelic, and Marvin Gaye) and even a lil grunge (Mother Love Bone and Nirvana). The list will gradually grow.

Give it a listen here:

Monday, February 10, 2014

Inside Dope: Behind the Scenes of Ep 002 [Philip Seymour Hoffman and 90s Heroin Chic]

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

We recorded a special episode of Dope Stories Podcast in response to the accidental OD death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman (PSH).

As I stated near the intro of the Episode 2: The Uncool: Philip Seymour Hoffman Remembered, I knew we'd have to discuss a celebrity death at some point during the show's run. I figured it would be Axl Rose or some strung out ex-80s hair band rocker or maybe even Lindsay Lohan if she finally went off the deep end. I never would have picked PSH. He was such a long-long shot that he wasn't even on the board. But that's the dangers of heroin addiction... it can reach up and snatch you up at any moment.

Here's the "setlist" for episode 2...

We touched on several topics in the second episode, but the main topic was anchored to heroin addiction. Shane read a compelling quote from David Carr about the fall of PSH.

Shane and I lived in NYC in the mid-90s, so we experienced the fallout associated with the "Heroin Chic" years. It was truly a weird time in Giuliani's NYC when the public was bombarded with heroin-related messages from music to film to fashion.

We briefly touched on PSH's tremendous acting prowess and his ability to extract sympathy from deplorable characters. We played two clips from Almost Famous and Owning Mahowny. I've seen the "uncool" scene from Almost Famous a couple thousand times, and it always blows me away.

Since Shane and I are both poker players and have witnessed the dark side of compulsive gambling. PSH's portrayal as a degen gambler who turned to bank embezzlement in Owning Mahowny was so stunning that it was difficult to watch.

I shared a couple of OD stories. Not personal per se. I have never OD'd, but I was around someone who OD'd once in a bathroom after riding the H-train and that's the crux of the infamous ice cube story. I also finished reading a book on the oral history of grunge and briefly explained how the death of Andy Wood from Mother Love Bone was pivotal in the formation of Pearl Jam.

We ended the show with Shane reminiscing about a James Brown and a PSA for heroin. It was a somber ending, but fitting to pay tribute to PSH.

Listen to Episode 2 here:

Here is the direct download link (right-click save-as).

Twitter: @DopeStories
Sound Cloud:
RSS feed:
Instagram: @DopeStoriesPod  
iTunes: STAY TUNED... give us one more week!


In case you missed it... listen to the first episode here. Also, here is Shaniac's explanation of the origins of Dope Stories. Here's the first batch of songs on the Dope Stories playlist that Shane compiled.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Beatles Invade America 1964

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

50 years ago today. On my Mom's birthday too. The Beatles invaded America's houses. Beamed right into everyone's living room.

Here's the first performance and two other stints on Ed Sullivan in 1964...

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the Long and Winding Road of Beatles albums.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Those Wacky Cold (War) Olympics

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I grew up during the Cold War. The Russians were the enemy. Those commie bastards were going to nuke the big cities, cut the Alaskan pipeline, and march into the heartland of America.

I grew up in NYC, so I had some solace knowing that we'd be instantly fried and wouldn't have to hole up in the mountains like a Red Dawn scenario and fight the invading Ruskies using guerrilla warfare tactics.

My father was an ex-marine who was stationed in Germany in the late 50s. He was a good shot and studied German in high school. So Uncle Sam shipped him out to Germany and the pseudo-front lines of WWIII, as he used to say.

I had just begun college and was away from home for a month when the Berlin Wall came tumbling down. This was pre-internet. I didn't get an email address yet. I wouldn't get my first cellphone for another ten years. We watched CNN (benefts of  going to college in Atlanta) on a TV in the lounge of my dorm. That was the first images of the end of Iron Curtain and the fall of Soviet Empire.

But then shit got crazy in Russia in the ensuing years. What happens with power in a vacuum? It gets swooped up by organized gangs -- Military/Intelligence Apparatus, Big Banks, Corporations, and the Russian mafia. America won the Cold War without firing a shot. Our banks and corporations found a new market, and in turn Russia was introduced to capitalism and corruption.

During the Cold War, Russian citizens were kept in line by fear, violence, and the threat of banishment to Siberia from "The Party" and KGB. The previous system of order was insane but it was nothing compared to the new tidal wave of graft and corruption. Toss in an unexpected oil boom and you have an interesting mix of new-found wealth coupled with widespread corruption in every facet of Russian society.

No wonder the Sochi Olympics cost $51 billion compared to $11 billion (Vancouver 2010). Sure, Putin and company had build out a sleepy resort into an international sporting hub, but that should not have cost more than $20 billion. So what happened to the other $30 plus billion? Stolen, of course.

Based on the some of the images I saw via social media, shit was poorly thrown together and not everything was ready. Some of that was legit. I know journalists who covered previous Olympics and nothing ever went off without its own set of problems, but you knew something was rotten in Denmark when there was more people following @SochiProblems on Twitter than the actual Sochi official feed.

America is a nation run astray by hustlers, unscrupulous con men, and faith healers. We're more slick about the corruption (or putting up a good ruse), yet the common citizen is in complete denial about living in a rigged system. Ignorance is bliss.

The two things that struck me the most about traveling to Eastern Europe or South America was... 1) the startling and drastic gap between the elites (uber rich) and the poor, and 2) the blatant corruption on the most basic levels.

After a while, I got used to it and was impressed with everything being out in the open. Bribe a judge. Pay off a cop. Get some low-level service mook to steal some shit for you. If you have cash, no problem.

Sure, I was used to paying the Gringo tax wherever I went in South and Central America, but there was no effort it putting up a sham, or put on. At least the corrupt officials and companies in America try to shine you on, which I can't tell if that's a good thing, or a bad thing.

Like Hollywood has completely brainwashed us with a trope of David vs. Goliath films. It's not just rom-com teen comedies in which the geek beats the jock and sweeps the hot girl nextdoor off her feet. It's not just Rudy or Miracle On Ice type of sports films when the underdog overcomes insurmountable odds to defeat an unbeatable powerhouse. They've also got us thinking that the little guy can beat a multi-national corporation, like that Erin Brockovich movie, or those 60 Minutes stories about someone who got screwed by the Man, but never gave up and overcame a mega-corporation.

Hollywood sells us a dream. It allows us to escape from reality. Because in the real world, the girls you desire the most always ignore you choose the bad guys. The Cinderella teams rarely win. And the Man always fuck over the little guy.

The coverage of the Olympics is laughable. The suits created a clone of Bob Costas and shipped him out to Sochi. That's why his eye is all fucked up. His clone is malfunctioning.

Sure, there's a time zone issue, but in today's age with internet live stream capabilities and multiple NBC channels its silly to hold back on coverage until prime time... just to make an advertising buck. A what a buck it is. Sheesh. Everyone is getting rich, or shaping political favor... except the athletes. Amateur sports is the biggest fucking sham in the world. But it's all for nationalistic pride, right?

 In the end, if you're a lazy media consumer, or someone who is not hyper-active consuming nonstop media via the internet, than all you get to see is what NBC wants you to see. It's not like we get unfettered access to every event like you can in other countries. Watching results unfold on Twitter and not being able to watch it is sort of like being in prison or something.

The lack of timely updates, the watered-down coverage, and overwhelming coverage of #SochiProblems seems more like dystopian propaganda than a sporting event. It almost makes me feel like I'm living in the dreadful Soviet Union that I was taught to hate as a kid during the Cold War. The commies were evil because they controlled the media and how stories were presented.

Should I believe everything Bob Costas' clone is telling me? If so... then Russia is still a James Bond-like criminal, meanwhileAmerica is awesome. We have apple pie, snowboarders, purple mountains, California girls, and freedom of the press. Ignorance is bliss.

Friday, February 07, 2014

RIP The Fat Guy

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

The Fat Guy put up a good fight to the end. He's a tough mofo. That's Texas for ya. You haven't lived until you survived a night in Vegas with the Fat Guy and AlCantHang.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Debut of Dope Stories Podcast

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Say hello to Dope Stories.

I'm co-hosting a new weekly podcast with Shaniac. We called it Dope Stories. We hope to have a rational discussion about drugs and drug use.

Twitter: @DopeStories
Sound Cloud:
RSS feed:

Dope Stories. It's not just a podcast about drugs... it's more than that. Yes, the main topic is drugs. But we really want discuss the misconceptions about drug use and debunk any myths or disinformation out there.

Most importantly, I want to tell some good stories pertaining to drug culture. I have hundreds. I've written about some here and over at Coventry. But I have a lot to share from growing up in the Bronx in the 70s and 80s, living in Seattle in the 90s, partying in Vegas and Amsterdam in the 00s, and living in marijuana-friendly California in the 10s. I also spent a significant time on the road chasing the psychedelic carnival while following the Grateful Dead and Phish.

If you don't know Shaniac... he's a poker pro originally from NYC. I met him in Vegas in 2005 and we ran into each other all over the world on the tournament circuit, whether it was the Bahamas, London, Monte Carlo, or Australia.

Shaniac recently got burned out with poker. He's going through what I experienced a couple of years ago. I was so run down that I really should have gotten out a year earlier. I finally took time off and that short break has now been over two years. Anyway, I have a bunch of new projects to keep me busy in 2014. This new podcast is one of them.

Dope Stories was conceived five or six months ago. Shaniac got married over the summer and got a vision on his honeymoon. It was a moment of clarity. Inspiration had struck. He called me right away to ask me if I'd be interested in being his partner in a new podcast. I knew I wanted to do it before he finished pitching me.

We both live in LA, so a partnership was perfect. Shaniac tapped his friend Trent (DJ and radio guru) to produce the podcast. He also lived in LA. All we had to do was find a proper recording studio. For now, we set up a temporary studio in my office. That's always been a positive space to create stuff.

We only had one problem with Dope Stories... timing. We had the idea last summer, but were both busy with work and travel and the holidays. So we had to postpone the launch until February 2014.

The time has finally arrived.The concept is now a reality. Today is Bob Marley's birthday. We're celebrating it with the launch of Dope Stories.

Here is the "setlist" for Episode 1 of Dope Stories.

Listen to the first episode of Dope Stories here...

Here is the direct download link (right-click save-as).

** FYI... iTunes coming soon. Give us another week to get all that sorted out. In the meantime, we're on both Soundcloud and Libsyn.

Bookmark our website:

Follow us on Twitter @DopeStories.


BTW... we recorded a special episode focusing on the death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. Episode 2 (PSH) will be released early next week, and Episode 3 (Crack 101) will be ready by next Thursday. In the future, new episodes will typically be released on Thursdays.

Also... here is Shaniac's story about the origins of this new podcast... Dope Stories (I Got A Few).

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Smooth Grooves and Melted Clocks

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA


Took me a couple of weeks but I found my groove. And it's a smooth one.

Groove. Highly underrated. Better to be in a good groove then a choppy one.

Groove rhymes with smooth. Sort of.

Smooth groove. Groove smooth.

But a groove is he epitome of smooth. Relaxing. Chill. Smooth sailing. May you're cup be full and may you always find your groove.

I started the year out of sync. Unable to find a groove. I could not connect with myself. I picked the wrong day to leave NYC. I got caught up in two weather delays on two different dates and incurred two nasty bad beats from a budget airline posing as a big airline. The week long delay set me back 11 days. Yeah, that really set me back a couple of weeks.

The moment I returned to LA, I jumped into a freelance project and the final stretch of a start up I had to put the novel edits on the back burner. Had no choice. I was burning daylight and so far behind with stuff that every other minute I was being reminded of something I forgot to do... or something I had postponed before I left LA for Christmas. A two week holiday turned into a month long excursion.

But my groove is back. Smooth groove. I finally got back into the swing of... life. The holidays always throw me for a loop. I don't like them. Depression lurks behind every corner. Every fucking corporation puts the screws to you and tries to bilk you for every possible cent like airlines jacking up rates to big box stories bombarding you with nonstop ads to buy shit you don't need while reminding you how much you hate the holidays. You pretty much want to skip November and December. 

January could not come fast enough.

 I sort of become highly unmotivated in December and become a nonfunctional zombie. The holidays scramble my brain. Seasonal depression. Winter wonderland blues. But as soon as the calender changes, I become invigorated. Recharged. New Year's Eve is like a reboot. It's just another day... in theory... but the psychological aspect of celebrating a new year often lifts crushed spirits.
I tend to front load the year with new projects because I have a frenetic batch of energy and feel hopeful about humanity. That bliss eventually fades as the year progresses. But until that raging flame dulls to a flicker, I embrace the tidal wave of positive emotion. The first couple of months of the year are often the most productive for me. I sort of have no choice but to relish the first 10 weeks of the year before I lose my steam.

My enthusiasm dips in mid-March when all hell break loose and I spend 16-18 hours a day watching college basketball and crunching numbers. I typically gamble on March Madness to fund summer excursions. So the better I did... the more stuff I got to do. If I lost... then I didn't do much and had a bleh summer. I paid for Phish tour in the late 90s using March Madness winnings. In the early 00s, I paid for a trip to Jazz Fest with a March Madness windfall. This year? I have no clue what's going on. Complete 180 from last year, when I was consuming ten hours of pro and college hoops a night and gambling on the NBA in a nightly fashion. But this season? I watched the least amount of college hoops in several years. Maybe I'll actually do better? In the end, March Madness almost a crap shoot. Throwing darts in the dark against a moving target. But I'm supposed to be a wiser bettor now. Although the older I get, the more I realize I know absolutely nothing.

Funny how time totally fucks with you. A couple of years ago, I was unmotivated and drowning in my own self-loathing, I desperately wanted time to fly by faster because the days were dreadful and I was looking forward to getting out of gloomy rut. It was like being caught in a rainstorm that never ended. Too bad... I had all the time in the world and no energy to do anything about it. Now, I got all the motivation, but no time.

I wish I could freeze time for three months so I can catch up. On work, life, play...

So much stuff to do. So little time. Gotta go. I'm burning daylight.