Saturday, December 31, 2011

Best of Tao - 2011

By Pauly
New York City

Here's the best of the best from 2011... How to Take Over a Politically Unstable Country in Six Easy Steps. That's my favorite post from the last year.

I compiled a larger list of some of my favorite entries from the last twelve months. Here's the best of the rest... pieces of internal chatter, notes from personal head shrinking sessions, and other inane observations that I spewed for your consumption...

Breaths of Life Through a Filter
Ass Airlines
Ramblings from the Bahamas: Sweet T'ings
Strike Time
How to Take Over a Politically Unstable Country in Six Easy Steps
Breakfast: Best of Times, Worst of Times
Revolution Thursday
You Are Alcoholic, Yes?
Sticky Floors

Random Unconnected Thoughts, Vol. 1: Bacon As a Main Course
Random Unconnected Thoughts, Vol 2: Eight Men Out, Slinging Crack Rock, and Herb/Dorothy
Nine in a Box
Matisse's Chorizo
Buddha Dice, Snake Eyes, and Top Chef
The Lazy Echo
A Prophet
Rubbing One Out; The Last Howl in the Alley

Disjointed - Dead Battery, Contaminated Magnolia Tree
Trashy Paranoia
The Metamorphosis of a Horrendous Karaoke Singer
5am Rum, Aliens Invade Santa Monica, and Wake of the Flood
3am Rum and Fallout Fears
Soaked Sponges with Dirty Water
Anxious in the Red Zone
Almost Home
Extra Butter

April and May
Sleepless Solo and Patti LuPone Is Not Just Corky's Mom
First Flashes of Lightning
LAX > Lima
Spiderman in Pajamas
Lima > Cusco: Coca Tea, Alien Stonework, and Saqsayhuaman
Cusco > Ollantaytambo > Aguas Calientes > Machu Picchu
The Conundrum: Wheelbarrow of Weimar Marks or More Rum?
Viggo Jordans
West L.A. Punk

Home Sweet Hollyweird
Hills, Dive Bars, and Walking Around San Francisco Streets
The Daily Weirdness in the Slums of BH
Intimidating Pancakes
Empty Shelf
Wake of the Flood; Phish Returns to Vermont for Benefit Concert
Paralyzed Decade

Morning Forums and Guns from Greys
Sleep Prived
Flash Crash and the Now Moment
The Difference Between Hope and Occupy
Torn and Frayed
Scoring Dope in the Ghetto, West Coast Speed Freaks, and a Forlorn German Lesbian

Reduction of Word Flow on the Eve of the Internet Kill Switch
Divisdero Dog Fight

That's it. That's all I have for now. Hope you had a groovy 2011 and wish you're 2012 is safe, productive, and as fun as possible...

Friday, December 30, 2011

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Phishy Reports: The Cold Open

By Pauly
New York City

Read about my evening with Phish -- MSG 1: The Feeling I Forgot -- which is the first of four concerts at historic Madison Square Garden.

Here's some pics...

And don't forget about my recap from night 1 at MSG.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Catman, Policeman and Pusherman

By Pauly
New York City

Mustafa gave me the pills.

One of the benefits of being shot four times, Mustafa explained, was a perpetual prescription to various pain medications and opiates. I can't recall if there's an actual bullet wedged behind his spleen, or if that was part of the urban legend which accompanied Mustafa wherever he went. He was shot for sure. That's no bullshit. If you ever spent time with him, he'd be more than happy to pull up his shirt and show you his different scars. He'd even give you the run down on the ballistics report.

It had been a couple of months since I last hung out with Mustafa. I always see him when I go to NYC. But this instance, when I ran into him last week, he had just gotten out of jail.

"They fast track those Occupy protesters," he said. "There's fucking hundreds of 'em. All processed first. When all the protesters are cleared out and it looks like I'm gonna get called, the fucking cops bring in a new batch. Another fucking hundred hippies. Occupy always gets called before me. They fast track 'em. Easy money for the city. Me? I fucking sat around for three days. Three. Fucking. Days. I didn't take a shit for three days. Not once. I held it for three days."

Mustafa gave me the pills as a gift the last time I was in the City. I left a few behind as an emergency stash, because I can never predict when my back will go out. At the same time, I hid a few at my mother's apartment -- cached in a stack of boxes of old books and Dead bootlegs. Sometimes my mother gets a little out of hand and in order for me to deal with her, I have to be faded to the tits. That's the best way I figured out how to cope with all uncomfortable family situations -- get schwasted and numb to everything around me so I'm able to insulate myself from all insults, critiques, and attempts to goad me into an unwinnable argument. Any kind of discussion with my mother gets twisted and mutilated into a quagmire of circular logic resulting in migraine headaches and the desire to throw myself in front of a bus.

Anyway, Mustafa got pinched for smoking a blunt in the middle of the street. He knew better than to blatantly flaunt behavior like that, but he was wasted and made a terrible mistake. Cops don't care what you do in your own home, but they don't want you to rub in in their faces. That's what happened to Mustafa. He was blazing up at the wrong time and wrong place. When he got pinched, he thought he was being set up or got taken down as part of some vast stake out.

"Are you DEA, FBI? Homeland Security?" he quizzed the cops the moment he was taken into custody. It turned out he was collared by a regular narcotics officer who was looking for someone else but Mustafa happened to walk by him at the wrong time. Let that be a lesson to you kids!

* * *

I didn't come face-to-face with the guy that my brother and I call the "serial killer" -- a weird guy who lives in my mother's building. My brother said he used to see the guy crying in the stairwell at different times. Anyway, I saw the serial killer down the hallway, but purposely slowed down so I didn't have to ride the elevator with him. I lingered when I passed his apartment and it smelled like cat piss. It made me wonder... was he an animal hoarder?

Sure, I've been watching too many hours of hoarding-themed reality TV, but there were a significant amount of old people living in my mom's apartment building. The percentages suggested that at least one of them is an extreme hoarder with a hundred boxes of stuff everywhere and that someone in the building is an animal hoarder, you know, the proverbial cat lady. All signs pointed toward the serial killer as the guy who also doubled as the weird, lazy cat dude who let his cat(s) piss everywhere and multiple towers of crusted cat feces are constructed throughout the apartment.

* * *

It's always mind-boggling to walk around the old neighborhood. Some things change, while others stay the same. The stores that stood the test of time are firm anchors in my fuzzy memory, but then there's new businesses in storefronts that seem strange and out of place to me because that particular space had always been the same thing since I could remember. For example, a local drug store was always in one big white brick building. It was the place to go in the neighborhood for most of the 1980s and early 1990s until the chain drug stores moved in on the racket and the local store was getting squeezed by the big dogs. The had to raise their prices while the chain drug stores undercut everything. I'm surprised the old store stayed in business, but somehow it survived but with a drastic change. The old store had to move a few storefronts down the street to a smaller property. Rents were getting high and they couldn't afford to stay in the same spot. So they consolidated and opted for a smaller store. At least -- it still lives. I wish I could say the same about the book store or the Greek diner.

Yeah, I was bummed out when I saw all the white paper blocking out the windows at the Greek diner. A small hand written sign indicated that the diner had been sold and the new owners would be opening up soon. They didn't indicate a specific date. The place was empty and I was without an opportunity to enjoy the best bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches on the planet.

Man, I expect the neighborhood to change, but I missed the Greek diner. I used to go in there half asleep, mumble my order, and listen to the old Jewish guys in the back booth argue about sports, specifically verbally castrating the quarterbacks -- Eli Manning and Mark Sanchez. For some reason Eli drew the most ire from the old guys.

Without the Greek diner and access to bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches, I was rudderless every morning.

* * *

I spent a full day wandering around the Met and meandering through Central Park while listening to music. A visit to a museum is something that I do every time I'm in town. If I have the chance, I'll hit up three or more, but even on short trip, I make an effort to pop into the Met to see a few old friends.

Thanks to Mustafa, I got faded on some of his powerful pills, and stumbled through a couple of special exhibits. The Stieglitz stuff was interesting -- a mixture of photographs and friends of his who were painters, but the subject matter was popular because it included Georgia O'Keefe paintings. The special exhibit gallery was crowded, so I rushed through that show. O'Keefe's subversive vag paintings reminded me of the Rhino in Vegas. Alas, I doubt that was her intention -- but when I see her paintings, I can't help but think of -- strippers.

Although parts of the museum were crowded, I found a few empty places where I could sit down and think. Sometimes I got lost in the art, but mostly, I got lost in my own thoughts -- trying to figure out the long term, dreading the near future of Christmas with the family, and letting random flashbacks of my previous lives in New York City enter my bloodstream. I used to fight the waves of memories, but now, I welcome them with open arms. Sometimes they are too immense and I have to sit down to absorb all of the energy that is jogging my memory. It's never easy to explain how/why we get blasted with memories from two or three decades ago.

I spent all afternoon in the museum juggling the variety of emotions that accompanied decades of flashbacks and got lost in the American Wing, which included all of these period rooms, mostly empty aside from a few curious tourists of the German and French persuasion. I hung out in different alcoves in secluded galleries in the Asian Art section after I got a rare batch of claustrophobia when I tried to check out the newly, refurbished Islamic Art galleries.

After an intense visit to the museum, I cooled off by walking through Central Park and listening to a Phish bootleg. Mustafa said to call him in a few days. I hoped he didn't get into trouble again.

Monday, December 26, 2011

New Kindle User? Buy Lost Vegas and Jack Tripper Stole My Dog

By Pauly
New York City

Merry Day-After Christmas everyone!

Were you a good boy/girl this year? We're you naughty, dirty, and got into tons of trouble? Did Santa Claus hook you up with a new Kindle Fire? If so, you're in luck because the e-book version of Lost Vegas is only a few clicks away.

Click here to buy Lost Vegas for Kindle and iPads.

Click here to buy Lost Vegas for the Nook

Click here to buy a print copy of Lost Vegas on

* * * *

And if you're totally bored and looking for a trashy novel, then indulge yourself with an e-book Kindle version of Jack Tripper Stole My Dog.

I recorded a podcast with Nicky six or seven months ago. She asked me questions about the origins of Jack Tripper Stole My Dog. If you haven't heard it yet, well, here it is via SoundCloud...

JTSMD - Episode 1: The 10-Day Novel by taopauly

* * * *

And if you like opera music, then here's the trailer...

Thanks for all of your support, kindness, tolerance, patience, understanding, and gratitude. Oh, and thanks for the cashola. Every book you buy indirectly supports my drug habit, which in turn fuels my passion to write dark, crazy smut like e-book Kindle version of Jack Tripper Stole My Dog. Keep supporting the arts and I'll keep churning out cheese-slathered tripe.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Annual Re-Telling of "Auggie Wren's Christmas Story"

By Pauly
New York City

One of my favorite NYC authors, Paul Auster, published something many moons ago titled "Auggie Wren's Christmas Story." I re-read it every Christmas. So should you.

Click here to read Auggie Wren's Christmas Story.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Charle Chaplin's Speech from 'The Great Dictator'

By Pauly
New York City

Amazing speech from Charlie Chaplin...

Thanks to the Joker for heads-up on this video.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Poker Scribblings

By Pauly
San Francisco, CA

I've posted a couple of things over on Tao of Poker that I'm pointing out because the content has less to do with poker and more to do with social commentary on popular culture and politics. Check out...
Zombie Poker Apocalypse
The Puppeteers of America
Yeah, that is all.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Advice to Chip Bitch and Recent College Graduates

By Pauly
San Francisco, CA

It's a little strange what happened in the poker world the last few years, especially after the Poker Shrink retired, because I became the resident head shrinker at the WSOP. I was the on-site psychiatrist in the press box. It happened because I was one of the veterans in the industry with the most experience (and if I wasn't going through what they went through, I knew someone who was faced with a similar situation) and more importantly -- because I had access to a cornucopia of pills.

On a typical day at the WSOP in Vegas, I usually spent at least an hour talking to different friends and colleagues about a variety of topics. I mostly listened because most of the time, people don't want actually answers -- they just want someone to listen to them work things out in their head. More often than not, I dispatched words of encouragement telling them to focus on the light at the end of the tunnel. Unlike life, when you never knew it would end, the seven-week long WSOP had a finish point. So as long as I could get everyone focused on something positive, I felt as though I did my civic duty.

Part of me felt compelled to help friends and colleagues because deep down I wish I had someone to give me words of advice, especially when I was stuck in a rough spot. I had a few mentors along the way like John Caldwell and Flipchip, but never had a consistent go-to guy (or girl) that I could chat about my woes and fears.

Anyway, over the last few years, I found myself mentoring a couple of the younger writers/reporters that came through the biz. One of them, Chip Bitch, just graduated college. Our little side kick is all grown up now. He's come a long way from the days when he worked for peanuts (literally: zero dollars) and snorted crushed up candy for peanuts (literally: zero dollars). Chip Bitch posted something where he reflected on what it's like to be a college graduate and taking his first steps in the real world. He thanked a small group of my colleagues for keeping him on the right track over the last few years. Check out his post... Thanks.

I wanted to give him some words of encouragement in a comment, but realized I was getting a little too verbose, so I decided to post my thoughts here. Anyway, in honor of Chip Bitch, here's a list of 10 Things I Wish I Was Told When I Graduated College....
1. There is no permanent record...unless you count the Echelon project that has downloaded every single email, DM, text message, and whatever update you posted on Facebook.

2. No matter how much you've drank and no matter what you've ingested, smoked, or snorted... you CANNOT fly.

3. Contrary to what she said, she actually faked 98% of the orgasms.

4. You're professors drank as much, if not more, than you. Many of them we're popping pills... just before class.

5. Dick Cheney shot JFK. Courtney killed Kurt. The "Moon" landings were real.

6. Always wipe and stay off the (crack) pipe.

7. Avoid the shrimp and seafood in any buffet that cost less than minimum wage.

8. Read every day. Just because you're done with school doesn't mean you have to end your education. Your mind is a terrible thing to waste on The Jersey Shore.

9. As Polonious said in Hamlet, "Neither a borrower nor a lender be." Don't loan friends money. More importantly, credit cards are evil. If you can't afford it, then don't buy it. If you really want it, I suggest that you steal it. Whatever you do, don't charge it. Banks/credit card companies are more ruthless than the mafia. Don't become a debt slave.

10. People generally suck and will always let you down. Don't sweat the small stuff. Don't worry... just be yourself.
I hope some of this helps. But no matter what you do, never forget rule #2. Oh, and the ubiquitous Golden Rule of Las Vegas.... don't get rolled by a hooker.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Five Subversive Film Recommendations - Best of 2011

By Pauly
San Francisco, CA

Here's five subversive films I watched (or re-watched) this year that I encourage you to see:
1. Network
2. They Live
3. Collapse
4. Inside Job
5. Gasland
And here's a longer explanation of each film...

1. Network

If you don't know who Howard Beale is, then you must be re-educated, so see this film. Sidney Lumet directed a masterful piece of social commentary warning us about the negative doping affects of mass media, powerful corporate interests driven by greed, and the fine line between propaganda and mainstream news. Scary thing? Network was filmed in 1976, yet the themes still hold up today over three and a half decades later. Howard Beale's "I'm mad a s hell" rant is the most infamous scene in the film and one of the most compelling rants in all of cinema history. However, it's not my favorite one. The board room scene with Ned Beatty is one of the most chilling, yet honest explanations of how the world and monetary system works today. It's so monumental that the powers that disabled embedding of the video. Click here to see the "money" scene from Network.

So here's the "Mad as hell" rant....

* * *

2. They Live

My brother and I used to watch They Live all the time during the VCR age when it first came out in the late 1980s. It starred my favorite wrestler -- Rowdy Roddy Piper -- but at the time all I cared about were the fact it had a WWF superstar and a bunch of aliens, not to mention the longest back alley fight scene ever recorded in Hollywood! I totally forgot about this campy film until the Joker posted a documentary film on Tao of Fear -- They Live, We Sleep Deeply. I watched the thought provoking analysis of John Carpenter's low-budget sci fi film and was blown away. The themes of brainwashing Americans via the TV are still prevalent today because so many of us are asleep practicing blind obedience and allegiance to consumption. I encourage you to see the They Live, We Sleep Deeply documentary, then check out the actual film.

Here's the scene when Roddy Piper finds the special Hoffman glasses that allows him to see the world for how it really is and not the illusion riddled with subliminal messages that was presented to us...

* * *

3. Collapse

Documentary filmmaker Chris Smith met with Michael Ruppert, a former LAPD cop with ties to the intelligence community, to discuss the CIA running drugs into Southern California. When he showed up for the interview, Ruppert wanted to speak about something else. Smith filmed Ruppert in his basement, chainsmoking the entire time, while sharing his world view on the impending collapse of all of Western Civilization. Smith decided to halt production on his CIA drug running film and began a new project with Ruppert's interview as the centerpiece. The result was... Collapse. I've seen my fair share of Peak Oil documentaries, but this one scared the bejesus out of me because it ties in the financial meltdown with peak oil which will eventually lead to an overall collapse of our fiat monetary system and lead to complete civil breakdown. Ruppert has been labeled a nut job by disinfo agents, but he shrugged it off with one of my favorite tag lines: "I do not deal in conspiracy theories... I deal in conspiracy fact."

This is one of two documentaries that you must see. Here's the trailer...

* * *

4. Inside Job

I've seen a few documentaries on the financial meltdown of 2008, but none of them were as powerful as Inside Job, directed by Charles Ferguson and narrated by Matt Damon. I'm shocked that Inside Job won an Oscar for Best Documentary Film, but then again, it gives me a glimmer of hope that not everything in Hollywood is rigged. Anyway, Inside Job will familiarize with the global catastrophe that triggered a financial tsunami when the sub prime mortage market imploded in 2007-08. Degenerate gamblers running the biggest financial companies in the world went busto and nearly crashed the entire system. After you see the film, you will finally realize how Americans were duped into paying trillions in bailout money to big banks and insurance companies on Wall Street.

Here's the trailer...

* * *

5. Gasland

Filmmaker Josh Fox got offered a nice chunk of change to lease some of his property in Pennsylvania to a natural gas company, who wanted to install a fracking well. Fox is skeptical and starts doing his own research into gas drilling and his results are astonishing including a family with contaminated water that can be lit on fire. Fox exposes how communities have been destroyed by the quest to drill for gas by greedy, profit-driven energy companies.

Here's the trailer...

* * *

So there it is... five influential and inspiring films that I watched in 2011. You might not agree with the themes discussed in each film and I'm not trying to convert you. Rather, my intentions are that the films will provoke you to "think" and ask more questions. Always do your own research.

I encourage to watch at least one of them over the holiday season and make an effort to watch all five.

Friday, December 16, 2011

RIP Hitch

By Pauly
San Francisco, CA

I think I'm the only writer who did not write an eulogy for Christopher Hitchens. Instead, here's a video compilations of his best zingers in The Best of Hitch Slap...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tao of Poker Nominated for Best Poker Blog

By Pauly
San Francisco, CA

The Tao of Poker got nominated for "Best Poker Blog" by Bluff Magazine's Reader's Choice Awards. Bluff lumped me into a category with four other deserving blogs (Hard-Boiled Poker, Riding the F Train, Subject: Poker, and Wicked Chops Poker) and I'm honored to be included among those amazing sites.

You can vote for Tao of Poker here.

Tao of Poker is what Seth Godin would call a "purple cow." I started it in the summer of 2003 because my friends hated reading about poker on this blog. Tao of Poker reached notoriety during the 2005 WSOP, which propelled me into a viable freelance writing career in the poker industry. Without the Tao of Poker, I never would have been able to visit over a dozen countries to cover various poker tournaments. I got to see the world because I loved to write about all things poker. Tao of Poker instilled confidence in my abilities as a story teller and reporter. Tao of Poker fed me. Tao of Poker got me drunk. Tao of Poker got me laid. Tao of Poker got me hired and subsequently fired from ESPN. Tao of Poker became the springboard for meeting groups of diverse people, many of whom I'm proud to call my friends.

Circa 2004

Circa 2005

Over the last few years, I struggled with burn out from the craziness of the poker industry and nonstop travel. Poker had taken up every aspect of my life and I lost the burning passion to write about the one thing that provided me financial security. My focus shifted to finishing Lost Vegas -- which took me five years to go from the original first draft to publication. Over the last few years, I also took mini-vacations away from poker to focus on writing/editing blogs with non-gambling content such as Coventry Music, Tao of Bacon, and Tao of Fear.

More than a half-a-decade later, I'm kinda shocked that the Tao of Poker is still getting accolades. I firmly believe the overall quality writing is as good as its ever been (e.g. A Day in the Life; Phil Hellmuth Denied, Eight Voices and a Sea of Troubles, Rolling Out the Magic, Down With Diseased Monkeys, and The Sahara Doesn't Live Here Anymore) but unfortunately, I haven't had the desire (nor the time) to write about poker every day like I did in 2005-06. After the horrible events of Black Friday in mid-April, when the government pulled the plug on PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, I stopped playing online poker completely. It was no secret that PokerStars was my sugar daddy and Tao of Poker's top advertiser. Once the ad money and affiliate revenue dried up, I lost the financial incentive to write daily musings about poker. Prior to Black Friday, I had completely sold out and became a hired "thug" and shill for the online poker industry. I was a whore for the buck, but once the flow of money stopped... I seriously questioned why I should continue to crank out content on Tao of Poker.

I started Tao of Poker of the pure love for the game. I blogged for free and never expected a dime. Everything else that happened was 100% gravy. But right now, the entire poker industry is in the middle of a metamorphosis and my passion for the game has been exhausted. I'm outta gas. If I want to evolve as a writer, I have to blaze a new path.

I'm surprised that Tao of Poker got a nod this year from Bluff considering I took a significant amount of time away from writing about poker in 2011 for several reasons -- a new blog, a new book, Black Friday, trading silver futures, and health issues. Around this time last year, I launched Tao of Fear -- a blog that would cover all things related to fear mongering. I devoted a lot of man hours into developing the site and creating an audience. If you read the Tao of Fear, then you know I have a grim outlook about the global financial system. In anticipation of the collapse of the U.S. Dollar and Euro, I went back to day trading and playing the commodities market. In addition, I went on a hiatus at the beginning of the year to finish editing and eventually publishing my first novel -- Jack Tripper Stole My Dog. Unfortunately during the WSOP Main Event, I was involved in a pretty bad car accident. Luckily, my girlfriend was not in the car with me and I was the only one injured. Even though I stayed in Las Vegas instead of going back to Los Angeles to rest up and heal (a decision I now regret), I was stubborn and forced myself to go to work everyday and pathetically limp around the Amazon Ballroom when I should have been confined to bed rest. I let my monster-sized ego lead me astray and as a result, the quality of my writing suffered. I betrayed myself and my readers with the Tao of Poker's lackluster Main Event coverage. I fled Las Vegas utterly disappointed with my decision to stick around. I felt like a washed up quarterback trying to re-live old glory days instead of embracing my decline and quietly riding off into the sunset.

When the WSOP ended, I took another huge chunk of time away from Tao of Poker for a much needed break. I finally returned to the Slums of Beverly Hills to heal. In August, I hit the road and went on the second leg of Phish's summer tour visiting Seattle, Lake Tahoe, San Francisco, Chicago, and Denver. I even flew out to Burlington, Vermont to attend a special charity concert. At the end of the summer, Nicky and I packed up all of our stuff and moved to San Francisco. I missed living in a real city again.

The car accident forced me to slow down and think about the wild ride I embarked upon ever since I accepted my first WSOP gig in 2005. It's been a whirlwind adventure and I wouldn't trade it for any other experience. However, the negatives of living life in the fast lane and having to spend seven weeks every summer in Las Vegas wore me down. Sometimes I was working so hard, I forgot to enjoy the remarkable, once-in-a-lifetime journey, but more importantly, I veered off path. I originally took a job in poker so I can stash away some money and write a couple of novels without having to work a conventional 9 to 5 gig as a cubicle monkey. Seven years later, I forgot what I originally set out to do.

Now that I've had some time away from the grind, I look back and feel incredibly lucky to have gotten where I am today. Tao of Poker would have never become what it did without the support of my brother, girlfriend, and amazing friends. Oh, and how can I forget about the loyal readers? Without them/you, I'm just another piece of wasted space on the intertubes.

Even though I took time off to reflect on my future, I still have yet to figure out what I'm going to do with Tao of Poker in 2012. The accident taught me a valuable lesson -- I needed to slow down -- which I did. But since then, I've been also bombarded with the overwhelming feeling that I got super lucky with a second shot at life. Yeah, it sounds like a cliche, but it took an almost fatal event to remind me that life is incredibly precious and short. Things happen for a reason, right? After a few months of reflection, I came to the realization that there's still a lot of other things I want to do... I want to write... I want to see. Unfortunately, most of those things do not fall into the poker realm.

I don't know how writing about poker -- both freelance and for myself -- will fit into my agenda for 2012. I strive to maintain a balanced life, but let's be honest -- Tao of Poker will never be what it once was. Alas, since the inception of my poker blog, I always winged it and never had an exact game plan. I wrote from the heart, rarely pulled punches, and always called things like I saw it. I was always flexible with the direction of the blog, and the content reflected my willingness to surrender to the flow. That attitude will never change. I always took chances. I adapted to constantly changing conditions in the blogosphere and the industry's landscape which had been altered due to the shaky political climate in Washington. But every year at the WSOP, I showed up and always tried to create something new and original. I attempted to enhance my coverage by utilizing different technology and aspects of social media. Sometimes I hit a home run. More often than not, I struck out -- but at least I went down swinging.

What will the future bring? I have no idea because I'm being pulled in different directions and have to follow my gut instincts. I will continue to write every day about a multitude of topics but and I don't know how much emphasis I'll put on poker in the coming year. I guess you'll have to tune in over the next few months to find out what my plans are for Tao of Poker.

To sum up... it's been an insanely fun ride in the poker industry and tons of fun while it lasted. I'm damn lucky in more ways than I can ever explain.

* * *

If by chance you enjoyed my poker musings, then I encourage you to vote for Tao of Poker here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

2011 (Partial) Reading Pile

By Pauly
San Francisco, CA

Here's a few pics of my some of reading pile from this past year.

If I get incredibly bored in the next few days, perhaps I'll compile a complete list of some of the books I read this year, and more importantly, some of the books I started... but never finished.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Writing About Las Vegas

By Pauly
San Francisco, CA

I posted a three-part trip report to Vegas titled Ocho - WPBT. I lost some money, hung out with my brother and friends, and did some random shit.

Read it here: Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Four Haikus: Lost Vegas

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

Photo by Flipchip

Four Haikus - Lost Vegas

Stale cigarette smoke
Boulevard of broken dreams
Cowboys shooting dice

Wafting puke odor
Bright lights of white trash city
Cheap liquor cheap thrills

Porn slappers on post
Hustling cocaine-eyed strippers
Hooker or a ho?

Cougars and hipsters
Desperate degradation
Vast cesspool of filth

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Predicting the Future: Week 13 Picks

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

I'm writing a new column for Wicked Chops Insider... and sharing my thoughts on sportsbetting. So here's my NFL Week 13 Picks.

Just a heads-up, Insider is a paywall site.

I'm in Vegas for the weekend and I'll be putting my money where my mouth is and betting on the picks I suggested in my column.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Divisidero Dog Fight

By Pauly
San Francisco, CA

Several friends asked me when I was going to write lengthy diatribes about living in San Francisco. I appreciate the interest but I'm in "L-I-V-I-N" mode right now when I soak up as much experience as possible before I sit down, patch my bones, and write about the previous few months.

Soon come. The SF stories will be coming soon. But for now, here's a random tidbit that I acquired wile wandering around the dirty streets of San Francisco...

* * *

I was almost attacked by a cougar carrying a wicker reindeer. I had been holed up writing all morning and afternoon and needed a break. I went outside to grab a cup of hot chocolate from the corner cafe. On my way, I nearly collided with a peeved scion that almost gorged me with a wicker reindeer.

What the hell is wicker anyway? All I know is that you can't smoke it. I gleaned this intel NOT by personal experience, rather from someone I know who once attempted to smoke wicker. Or maybe it was marijuana soaked in PCP? I forget. Either way, wicker will not get you stoned.

Cougars, on the other hand, are detrimental to your health in Lo Pac, which is my nick name to Lower Pacific Heights. It's San Francisco's equivalent to Beverly Hills Adjacent or the Slums of Beverly Hills.

The coug bolted out of one of the many antique stores situated around the corner from my apartment. She was carry a big, white wicker reindeer with a nifty red bow tied around its neck. She screamed into her mobile phone and was too self-involved to see me as she stormed out of the store.

Sometimes, I'm just an invisible peasant.

Cougars abound in my hood. In New York terminology, it's sort of like the Upper West Side meets Park Slope. Plenty of nannies pushing double strollers. Lots of tiny purse dogs shitting all over the streets with owners too lazy to clean it up. The filthy sidewalks are congested with 20-somethings in tight black yoga pants with pastel-colored yoga mats rolled up under their arm. Street parking is non-existent in the LoPac and Nicky is constantly fighting Lexus SUVs and Minicoopers for the last available spot.

I walk everywhere, but had a few close calls -- I was almost hit by a vehicle at least four times. Near misses. One scared the bejesus outta me. I lived in LA for four years and only had once close call in the parking lot at The Grove. But three months into San Francisco, and I've almost got nailed by four different SUVs driven my myopic morons on their phones.

That's nothing compared to the mauling I escaped on Divisidero when two yapping dogs wanted to go at each other. The female owners of the hellions were distracted multi-taskers -- a pair of hipsters: one a member of the brown boot mafia in skinny black jeans and the other was your typical neo-eco-crunchy trophy wife in the ubiquitous tight black yoga pants. Their purse dogs looked like over-sized rats. What have such tiny animals? Why not get a cat?

The women stood on the same corner, backs turned and about five feet apart from each other. The both talked on their iPhones while their respective dogs anxiously clocked each other. The tension thickened as I approached. I wanted to avoid the potential clusterfuck as the dogs snarled and growled at each other. A dogfight was nigh. Blood would be shed on Divisidero. Iconsidered whipping out my CrackBerry to record the fight -- but then I'd get hate mail from PETA for supporting cruelty to animals.

Instead, I foolishly tried to walk in between the distracted women at the same moment their dogs lunged at each other. The brown-booted hipster yanked on her leash and her dog yelped. The woman in yoga pants dropped her cell phone to grab her dog when it attacked the cuff of my jeans. That little fucker almost chewed up my Achilles.

Small dogs in Lo Pac. What's the fucking point?

Our downstairs neighbor has a big-ass dog. BIG. DOG. How big? It bangs up against the front door whenever someone is outside. The big dog scares the shit out of the mailman. Some of them are afraid to deliver mail. I'm convinced my packages are always late because of the monstrous, fear-instilling dog.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Jack Tripper Stole My Dog - The Podcast and Trailer

By Pauly
San Francisco, CA

Six months ago I recorded a podcast with my girlfriend and she asked me questions about Jack Tripper Stole My Dog. I recently re-uploaded it to Sound Cloud. If you haven't heard it yet, well, here it is...

Jack Tripper Stole My Dog - Podcast Episode 1: The 10-Day Novel by taopauly

* * * *

If you haven't seen the epic trailer, here it is...

Jack Tripper Stole My Dog would be a great stocking stuffer! The novel and Kindle version are both available on

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Acquainted with the Night, Pulling the Plug, and Nonplussed Dinosaurs

By Pauly
San Francisco, CA

I'm having one of those "I can't win" days.

Instead of punching holes through Halli's walls, I went for a long walk through foggy San Francisco to clear my head and get off mega-career tilt. Work stuff shall always be a royal pain in the ass (by definition, all jobs suck camel cock) and for as long as I traverse the path of a writer, I always struggle with art vs. commerce.

As Hyman Roth succinctly summed it up in The Godfather II, "This is the business we have chosen."

The life of a writer is deceiving -- it looks envious from the outside but it's wrought with agony, depression, self-loathing, alcoholism, drug abuse, and trepidation. And that's the fun stuff. You don't want to know about the horrific aspects that keep me awake at night. Hey, let's be honest, if you're not Stephen King or the British broad who writes the Harry Potter books, chances are you're struggling financially as a writer. Even the commercially successful writers have a small window in which they make a ton of money, then it's all downhill until the residual checks trickle to a halt.

When the writing gods chose me, I accepted a vow of poverty. I've gotten lucky so far, so everything else in life is gravy. Alas, in these woeful economic times and politically inept authorities fuck with my livelihood, the few jobs around don't pay much, but even settling for peasant-level wages, the process of writing is the most rewarded occupation I've ever had. That's why I do it to make money. Well, one of the reasons. Outside of Las Vegas and the poker/gambling industry, I'm basically unemployable. Whenever snarky right wingers yell at me to "get a job", I always respond: "Please tell me where these writing jobs are -- because me and a dozen of my friends will be the first ones in line." The media world has been consolidating over the last two decades. Cable TV expanded to over a thousand channels, yet there are fewer writers on the payrolls at studios than ever before. Sad. Very sad. Everyone gets their panties in a twist when a kitten dies, but no one sheds a tear when a writer gets a pink slip.

During my 20s I held shitty jobs all over the country including so many weird part-time gigs that Nicky encouraged me to compile a book short stories from all the craptacular McJobs. for a decade before I stumbled into poker, I scraped by doing anything short of selling my cock/asshole/hand/nostrils for sex in order to earn enough money for food and shelter. I humped shitty dead end jobs so I could spend non-work time on a novel or screenplay, and blow whatever money I had left over on travel and misadventures with Senor. Ah, I missed my 20s. Maybe I should write that book in homage to Bukowski's Factotum? Shit, I would... if I had time! But it's exhausting fear mongering and kicking off a revolution and betting on pro football. Then again, I spend most of my days writing bullshit for the oligarchs in the poker industry, or trying to self-promote myself to get jobs or sell my own books, and the rest of the work time is devoted to chasing down twats who owe me money.

Most of the creative people I'm friends with often work a day job (and/or two or three other part-time jobs) to pay their bills while pursuing their artistic dreams. I saw it firsthand when I worked at museums in Seattle and New York, when most of the security staff were artists/musicians. They answered stupid questions, directing people to the bathroom, while standing on their feet for 10 straight hours -- all in exchange for a min wage and health insurance. The food service industry in Los Angeles basically runs on two groups: illegal Mexicans in the kitchen and struggling actors/musicians/directors waiting their big break in Hollywood working as servers.

I wish I could find a high-yielding skill that pays the bills so I could donate all of my writing time toward honing my craft and nurturing creative endeavors instead of dividing what little time I have between personal writing and work-related writing. I'm stuck where I am knowing there's a lot worse situations out there, and from that perspective, I'm damn lucky. But on a shitty note -- I often write under duress, longing for optimal circumstances. Ergo, the quality of my work suffers. In short, I'm doomed. I always fall short of my expectations before I even begin, which really bums me out because I know I can do better -- if I just had more time.

The hardest aspect of my career is chasing down delinquent clients. Man, fuck you and pay me! The second hardest aspect is settling upon a fair wage. Negotiations tactics are a bitch. I'm fortunate to have a basic business background, otherwise I'd get exploited even more. That's why so many creative people get screwed over and taken advantage of, because their brains are not wired for the business side of the things. I see it all the time in poker -- and some morons are foolish enough to take the bait and hook. Alas, I often spend so much time trying to negotiate a rate and justify what I'm worth.

It's tricky trying to maximize your value when the marketplace is offering a notch above minimum wage. Sadly, I get lowballed left and right for inbred hacks. Sure, it's a cut throat business but there's zero honor against the selfishly hopeless undesirables in my peer group driven by gambling addictions and the desire to stay relevant. It's one thing if I was up against sincere, passionate artists that wanted to write about poker so badly that they'd do it for free. I can respect those people, but getting undercut by a broke-dick who just needs some dough to stay in the game is out right pathetic. And don't get me started on the scensters.

Ah, I'm venting more than usual. I've been around the block a few times to know to hunker down and return to the basic game plan -- work hard, stay loyal to friends, just roll with the punches, ignore the shallow leeches, and write every day. Every day. And more. Sometimes I even write a second daily session at night instead of sleeping because the biggest edge over my colleagues is my motivation to improve while they spend their waking hours in fruitless tasks of gambling, partying, or embarrassingly trying to act cool via social media.

Keep writing... keep writing. That's the best I can do under the dismal circumstances, and pray that someone out there will miraculously offer me a fair wage. Someday. Until that fateful day comes -- I'm back to grinding out a meager income, diligently writing for a few clients, and spending the rest of my time digging up work.

I wrote for a decade without earning a dime and that's gonna be my future as it comes around full circle. We're witnessing the collapse of the media world and the shifting of the entire paradigm in how people acquire information. It's not just poker that's in flux. Hollywood, the music industry, and the publishing world are in the middle of a revolution and civil war wrapped in one giant burrito.

Poker has been the bane of my existence for the better part of my 30s. Poker is one giant blessing and menacing nuisance. In fact, I often think I'd write better if I had less time to worry about petty office politics, chasing down delinquent clients, churning out drivel that's barely more edible to monkeys like fecal-covered bananas. I'd love to wake up and write on my own schedule instead of having to work around industry timetables and client schedules. Dreams. That's my dream. I thought I was working my ass off for seven years so I can get to a point and make my dream a reality? Nope. In a perfect world, I'd be able to take time off and write -- but not the case after a debilitating car accident this summer, shady backroom deal with DC snake oil salesman in April, and ongoing global economic turmoil.

I've always had a dream -- unplug from the enslaving aspects of maintaining a virtual life. I will never be artistically and mentally free until sever ties to the machines (laptops and CrackBerry) and wiggle away from my energy-draining addiction to the internet. Once I unplug everything, I can fully write with limited distractions in a more natural environment, unfettered of a horrible co-dependent relationship with technology.

Man, I almost sounded like the Unabomber with this post, which might someday get used against me in a court of law, so I should probably shut up and end it now. Then again, once Obama signs the internet kill switch into law, the federales will instantly shut down all of my blogs -- except the Tao of Bacon because as we all know, there's nothing subversive about bacon. Bacon keeps the sheeple happy and keeps them in line by stuffing their faces with savory pork products so they won't question their supreme authority.

Let them eat bacon, screamed the Queen before the chopped her head off.

Bacon writing passes the censors, but everything else is bad. The Man doesn't want me to write incendiary rhetoric about internet censorship, nor are the blog police kosher with my attempts to educate friends about the rampant corruption in the financial sector facilitated by the jag-offs in DC with pockets lined with bribes, kickbacks, and other perks of being puppets for the corporate schmucks whom own everyone.

The truth is this -- I can never spend more than a few minutes away from my laptop or CrackBerry. I'm an addict. A tech junkie. Facebook. Twitter. Blogger. Google Reader. You Tube. All evil. We're all junkies these days. I look around at everyone around me that is under 60 years old -- and everyone is hooked. This is dangerous. The machines have won.

Every few months, I grow super paranoid after I watch The Terminator. I go through a stage where I embark on a purging of all things harmful to my artistic soul after an anti-technology rant and sermon. I respond with drastic measures -- I limit answering email time to ONE HOUR per day and limit the amount of web time. During my anti-web diet, I force myself to read books and spend time outdoors. I usually lose weight and get in better shape during those non-web binges. I used to be a TV junkie, so I reduced the number of shows I watch to just a few guilty pleasures like Mad Men, Hoarders, and Ancient Aliens. Oh, and how could I forget sports seasons? That's a major suckage of time. I tried to do a little something different this year and listened to more baseball games on the radio -- that way I could still do other stuff with the game on in the background. The drawback was that the Yankees radio team is atrocious. Sure, they are better than Joe Buck and Bob Costas, but that's not saying much.

My addiction is fierce, which warrants a Draconian response. I must walk away from the interwebs and disappear from social media so I can focus on writing, and then resurface in a few months once I'm done with a new manuscript. Maybe.

I'm full of shit and spout off too many loud, boisterous empty promises. I can't recall how many times I screamed: "I'm gonna walk away and pull the fucking plug!" My bark is bigger than my bite. Some reason, I can never pull the trigger.

How can you have any pudding, if you don't eat your meat?

Exactly. But after a rough today like today, I keep shed the thought... what's the point writing all of this bullshit (on the web) anyway? It's mostly self-indulgent fodder anyway. Sure, I make few people laugh and that's always a good thing, but aside from that, I've probably done as more damage telling half-baked, crude jokes. It's not like I'm saving the fucking whales or something. What continue to pollute the cesspool? Why add more static to the echo chamber?

Maybe I've written too much. Less is more right?

Why was it a bad day? I can't get paid and no one gives a shit. I've written over a millions of words on the web in various forms/topics, but it's never enough to conquer the insatiable appetite of the parasites -- they consume and consume, yet never pay for their free meals and moan like spoiled trolls any chance they can get. I can't take time off different blogs (where I wrote for free) without getting called lazy. If I focus on a different topic/genre or personal project, then I get guff for being selfish. If I write for money, then I'm a sell out. If I refuse to write for slave-like wages, then I'm labeled "difficult" and blackballed.

Alas... I'm ensconced in anguish because of my decisions. Hyman Roth was right. I got myself into this mess. All of this is what happened when I decide to play the game. The Game. I used to live for it. I wanted to beat it. But why am I still playing the game? What's the point? To make a few bucks? To suck the last blood out of a parched stone? For dollars that are worthless anyway?

What's the point? I paid my dues, rose to the top of my profession, and made some money. It's been an amazing run and I did it the old fashioned way -- hard work and without missing a deadline. At this juncture, it's all downhill with my career. The next stage is the dreadful decline. I'm embracing the reality that blogging hath become an old art form like the opera. It's probably wise that I go out on top and stay classy.... until I taint everything, pull a Brett Favre and get caught in a wretched penis pic scandal.

I was born a couple of generations too late (and in the wrong country) because America has become a nation of spoiled, mindless consumers that will buy every stupid fucking thing -- except books. Maybe I should move to Paris and write books, have Benjo help find someone to translate them, and then sell them to the French audience that reads more books in a year than Americans do in a lifetime?

Paris? Another piper dream.

The more I soul search, the more I keep running around in nauseating circles. I always reach the same dead end conclusion -- the written word is lying in a hospice. Death is imminent.

The dying medium is the message according to writing is on the virtual wall in 140 characters or less. The time has come to pull the plug, head off the grid, and walk away. Begging the question... do I have the balls to do it?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Collapse (Documentary)

By Pauly
San Francisco, CA

Some asked me about Collapse, which is a strange interview with Michael Ruppert -- a former cop and ex-CIA turned investigative reporter. In this 2009 documentary, Ruppert shares his world view including peak oil, the financial collapse of 2008, and how to survive the impeding breakdown in every day society.

I found the entire documentary on its entirety on YouTube. Watch it now before it gets yanked.

Friday, November 25, 2011

5 Million Books

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

What a couple of Harvard geeks learned after reading 5 million books or 5 billion words...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Turkey Day

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Circa 1979

It's been a weird and tough year, but I'm grateful to be alive after walking away from a crash in Vegas this summer. So, everything else is gravy, right?

Count your blessings. Try to stay sane today.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Scoring Dope in the Ghetto, West Coast Speed Freaks, and a Forlorn German Lesbian

By Pauly
San Francisco, CA

Sometimes, it's easy to write a song because life is so weird and yet simple that it can be deconstructed into a catchy song. Lou Reed, Tom Waits, and Jens Lenkman come to mind. They have an uncanny genius-like ability to captured everyday life into song form.

Lou Reed was a junkie and didn't keep his addiction to heroin a secret. His band used to hang out in Union Square at Andy Warhol's infamous Factory. When Lou ran out of smack, he hopped on an uptown subway to Harlem and scored from various sources. As any drug fiend knows, reliable dealers are a rare breed, and most of the time you're dealing with an unorganized flake, or perhaps even a junkie himself. At any rate, Lou was low on supplies and sick as a dog because he hadn't copped in a few days. He wandered around Harlem with $26 and jonesin' to all hell. Yep, only Lou Redd could conjure up a fascinating song about waiting for his dope dealer. The ensuing scene is told in I'm Waiting for the Man...
I'm waiting for my man
Twenty-six dollars in my hand
Up to Lexington, 125
Feel sick and dirty, more dead than alive
I'm waiting for my man

Hey, white boy, what you doin' uptown?
Hey, white boy, you chasin' our women around?
Oh pardon me sir, it's the furthest from my mind
I'm just lookin' for a dear, dear friend of mine
I'm waiting for my man

Here he comes, he's all dressed in black
PR shoes and a big straw hat
He's never early, he's always late
First thing you learn is you always gotta wait
I'm waiting for my man

Up to a Brownstone, up three flights of stairs
Everybody's pinned you, but nobody cares
He's got the works, gives you sweet taste
Ah then you gotta split because you got no time to waste
I'm waiting for my man

Baby don't you holler, darlin' don't you bawl and shout
I'm feeling good, you know I'm gonna work it on out
I'm feeling good, I'm feeling oh so fine
Until tomorrow, but that's just some other time
I'm waiting for my man
I had been listening to Tom Waits for a couple of years before I realized he was white. I saw him for the first time on Saturday Night Live and couldn't believe what I saw. Anyway, Tom Waits had an uncanny ability to turn his daily struggles in anthems. I was always fond of Goin' Out West, because I grew up on the East Coast and went to college in the South, so I was longing for a western excursion. The song always reminded me that some day I was going to make the trek. Someone once told me that Waits was fond of Salinger's Catcher in the Rye and that the Holden Caufield character inspired the theme of Goin' Out West. I often thought Waits was morphing his own experiences about spending time on the West Coast, hanging out with hooligans, and trying to score speed...
Well I'm goin' out west
Where the wind blows tall
'Cause Tony Franciosa
Used to date my ma
They got some money out there
They're giving it away
I'm gonna do what I want
And I'm gonna get paid
Do what I want
And I'm gonna get paid

Little brown sausages
Lying in the sand
I ain't no extra, baby
I'm a leading man
Well my parole officer
Will be proud of me
With my Olds 88
And the devil on a leash
My Olds 88
And the devil on a leash

Well I know karate, voodoo too
I'm gonna make myself available to you
I don't need no make up
I got real scars
I got hair on my chest
I look good without a shirt

Well I don't lose my composure
In a high speed chase
Well my friends think I'm ugly
I got a masculine face
I got some dragstrip courage
I can really drive a bed
I'm gonna change my name
To Hannibal or maybe
Just Rex
Change my name to Hannibal
Or may be just Rex

I'm gonna drive all night
Take some speed
I'm gonna wait for the sun
To shine down on me
I cut a hole in my roof
The shape of a heart

And I'm goin' out west
Where they'll appreciate me
Goin' out west
Goin' out west
My buddy BTreotch turned me onto Jen Lenkmen. The Swedish musician penned a song Postcard to Nina, which was based on a weird relationship he had with a German lesbian. A lot of people can identity with the sad pitfall of falling in love with a lesbian (or a gay guy for all of your habitual fag hags out there). In his postcard turned ballad, Jens recalls how he got stuck in an awkward dinner at Nina's parents' house.
Nina I can be your boyfriend
so you can stay with your girlfriend
Your father is a sweet old man
but it is hard for him to understand
that you wanna love a woman
Nina I can be your boyfriend
if it puts an end to all this nonsense
First time I see you in Berlin
And you don't tell me anything
Until outside your dad's apartment

Oh God, Jesus Christ
I try to focus on your eyes
we're having dinner with your family now
keep a steady look at your left eyebrow

If it's raised, it means yes,
If it's not it means take a guess
Hey! You! Stop kicking my legs
I'm doing my best
can you pass the eggs

Your father puts on my record
he says: so tell me how you met her
I get embarrassed and change the subject
and put my hand on some metal object
He laughs and says that's a lie detector

he Takes out the booklet and starts reading
So i heard you're moving out next season
I say: Yeah, New York is nice that time of year
almost as green as it is here
He says: I thought you were moving to Sweden?

Oh God, what have I done?
i came to Berlin to have som fun
then it turned into buffalo 66
on your fathers wall a big crucifix
guess that's why he wont let u go
his Catholic heart is big and slow
you know I'll do anything for love
but Nina what were you thinking of?

But Nina I can be your boyfriend
So you can stay with your girlfriend
Your father is mailing me all the time
He says he just wants to say hi
I send back "out of office, auto-replies"

Nina I just want to check in
'cause I think about you every second
So I send you this postcard just to say
Don't let anyone stand in your way
Yours truly, Jens Lekman

Don't let anyone stand in your way
Don't let anyone stand in your way
Don't let anyone stand in your way
Don't let anyone stand in your way

Monday, November 21, 2011

Orwell and Huxley: Amusing Ourselves to Death

By Pauly
San Francisco, CA

The Jesuits made a 14 year-old version of myself read books by Aldous Huxley and George Orwell. They were preparing me for the absurdity of the 21st Century.

Anyway, a couple of friends asked me about an illustration that I tweet'd about many moons ago discussing the different dystopian societies that Orwell and Huxley envisioned. So, I found the cartoon and want to post it here because the themes are relevant today...

If you're looking for a book to read during your holiday travels, I might suggest... Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four and/or Animal Farm, and Huxley's Brave New World.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Reality Haikus: Beetles, Lesbian Freezers, and Flattened Kittens

By Pauly
San Francisco, CA

Here's three more haikus inspired by Hoarders...

Filthy stuffed bunnies
Contaminated bedroom
Beetles under bed

Cats hide in ceiling
Ten kittens flattened to death
House reeks of urine

Lesbian hates life
Hides dead kittens in the fridge
Twenty-five sick cats

More reality TV-themes haikus here.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Reduction of Word Flow on the Eve of the Internet Kill Switch

By Pauly
San Francisco, CA

Friends often tell me that they wished I wrote more here and other places on the web about various topics. For that nudge, I absolutely love them. However, the reality that I struggle with is more frustrating than you think.

To publish, or not to publish?

I've gotten bored with writing about poker and gambling, mainly due to the and overwhelming sense of ennui attributed to the shallowness and undesirable qualities of my peers/colleagues. It's an obstacle I've overcome over the last seven years, but these days I'm saying "I'm too old for this shit" instead of joining the echo chamber. Hey, let's be frank here... I'm always willing to whore myself out for the right price. I'd write more if I was paid a fair wage. You'd be surprised how much work I'm offered by shysters who think I'm stupid enough to write for free. I do that everyday... for myself. If you want me to write for you, you have to fucking pay me. That's just how it works.

And shiiiiit, don't get me started on the migraine-inducing process I have to go through to get paid for stuff I've written a few months ago. Alas, I'm reluctant to take on any new assignments for fear of... getting swindled. One former client still owes me a few grand for two feature articles I wrote in 2006. Five fucking years ago. I'll never see that money. Many of my friends have similar horror stories.

Lesson(s) learned. Getting stiffed is one of the many lumps you have to take as a freelance writer. Sometimes you get paid late, sometimes you get stiffed, and it's a miracle if you get paid in a timely matter.

I write everyday. For myself. The compensation, although not monetary, is immediate because my output is exactly what I want to say without worrying about an overzealous editor redlining my sentences, or having some inbred twat with poor reading comprehensions project their personal physiological issues onto me in the form of an unwarranted troll-like comment.

I write every day and by chance I miss a day, I make sure I double up at the next possible moment. Unfortunately, 99% of what I write is not shared in a public forum. I'm getting more paranoid these days and I'm writing the old fashioned way -- pen and notebook. The subject matter is so incendiary that my virtual friends would insta-un-friend me on Facebook, and if the authorities ever read any of it, I'd be hauled off in a paddy wagon and one of three things would happen... I'd be locked up in Gitmo with the Jihadists wearing orange jumpsuits, I'd get committed to a local psych ward, or worse... I'd get hired by Hollywood.

I write for myself. It's a noble yet selfish pursuit, but it's what drives me and keeps the fire inside burning. Without the ability to speak freely, I'd go absolutely insane. I'm already a few cans short of a six pack, because I'm burdened with a severe case of anomie, the cyclical grips of seasonal depression, and the tempestuous mood swings attributed to being stuck in the middle of an eternal struggle of art vs. commerce.

In short, I often feel like an alien trapped on Earth wondering what the fuck everyone is doing, because the majority of it all seems absurd and defies all semblance of logic.

Maybe now you know why I've been selective in sharing what I write, especially with the state of our nation which has been transformed into a police state over the last decade, and accelerated over the last two months. At the same time, web censorship is on the horizon. The kill switch is nigh and the ominous storm clouds are headed this way, so I'll continue to peck and scribble away in the darkness, trying to jot down everything I need to say before the last iota of individuality is beaten out of me by an min-wage agent of the state while the sheeple stand on the sidelines and do nothing about.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

HST Interview 1988

By Pauly
San Francisco, CA

I enjoyed this vintage HST interview (circa 1988) courtesy of @TotallyGonzo....

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Silver Bears Part 8 - The Gold Rush Currency Wars

By Pauly
San Francisco,CA

I was waiting over three months for the new episode of the Silver Bears. After that long-ass wait, Part 8 was finally uploaded yesterday...

Yep, the Silver Bears have been predicting financial gloom, fiat money collapse and a global precious metals manipulation conspiracy for over a year.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Olberman Rant on Mayor Bloomberg

By Pauly
San Francisco, CA

I love a good Keith Olberman rant and this one might have been one of his greatest benders. Less than a day after the NYPD in riot gear kicked out everyone at Zuccotti Park, Olberman went ballistic on Mayor Bloomberg's inept handling of Occupy Wall Street protesters. Oh, and blocking traffic for a new Batman flick, really seemed to get Olberman's blood boiling...

Monday, November 14, 2011

Torn and Frayed

By Pauly
San Francisco, CA

If you were to ask me today... Torn and Frayed is my favorite song off of the Rolling Stones' double album Exile on Main Street.

I know that might come as a surprise to some of my friends because let's face it both Loving Cup and Tumbling Dice are more popular songs from Exile. Plus, at one time or another, both would have been appropriate songs for the soundtrack of my life. It's safe to say that ten years ago, Loving Cup perfectly summed up my nomadic lifestyle seeking out the all-night buzz. Five years ago when I was living in Las Vegas, you could easily point to Tumbling Dice as my personal anthem. I'm really dig both songs, particularly Tumbling Dice, which I listened to nonstop while it played on repeat as I wrote/edited/re-wrote the last chapter of Lost Vegas.

But there's something about Torn and Frayed right *now* that sends a chill up my spine and causes goosebumps. Just listening to the song and visualizing the lyrics sends me into a seizure of emotions -- both pleasant and painful.
Torn and Frayed

Hey let him follow you down,
Way underground wind and he's bound.
Bound to follow you down,
Just a dead beat right off the street.
Bound to follow you down.
Well the ballrooms and smelly bordellos
And dressing rooms filled with parasites.
On stage the band has got problems,
They're a bag of nerves on first nights.
He ain't tied down to no home town,
Yeah, and he thought he was wreckless.
You think he's bad, he thinks you're mad,
Yeah, and the guitar player gets restless.

And his coat is torn and frayed,
It's seen much better days.
Just as long as the guitar plays
Let it steal your heart away,
Let it steal your heart away.

Joe's got a cough, sounds kind a rough,
Yeah, and the codeine to fix it.
Doctor prescribes, drug store supplies,
Who's gonna help him to kick it

Well his coat is torn and frayed,
It`s seen much better days.
Just as long as the guitar plays
Let it steal your heart away,
Let it steal your heart away.

The song itself was written by Mick Jagger circa 1971 about Keith Richards' flirtation with the dark side of heroin. Two decades ago, I honestly thought the haunting lyric was "his arm is torn and frayed"... meaning Keith's arm. The "torn and frayed" title represented the pin-cushion nature of a junkie's arm, riddled with holes from hypodermic needles, and with each prick a little bit of his soul gets released into the cosmos, never to return. Pretty heavy stuff, eh?

It wasn't until the late 90s when I was bored and wandering around a book store in Austin, TX that I stumbled across an anthology of Rolling Stones lyrics. I flipped the pages and noticed I was totally wrong. The correct lyric is... "His coat is torn and frayed."

I had been wrong about the "his arm is torn and frayed" for almost a decade, yet the song still resonated with me, because I knew the ragged "coat" was just a piece of symbolism of the body/soul of the rigorous life of an intrepid rock star always on the move. I'm sure we're all surprised that Keith Richards hasn't died yet -- considering how much junk he shot into his veins and God knows what he ate/snorted/shot/inserted in the last fifty years. He's fucking Rambo meets King Kong meet Count Dracula. He's the Babe Ruth and Michael Jordan off junkies. He may even be a legit vampire, because I really don't know how he's managed to stay afloat over the last few decades.

Anyway, music has this weird thing about invoking an emotional response -- especially when you least expect it. I spent most of this morning contemplating about the last seven or so years of my life, most of which was dedicated to the poker world in some form or another -- living in Vegas for months at a time, holed up in unventilated hotel rooms fighting off maids that can't read the "DO NOT DISTURB" sign, and running through international airports trying to catch a connection to an exotic locale, where I'd pen stories about degenerate gamblers playing cards.

It's poetic in a tumultuous, junkified way that I heard Torn and Frayed pop up on my iPod during today's morning writing session. I halted everything I was doing and listened. Sometimes, the flow of memories can be stopped and plugged up -- like a dam inside your brain -- but oftentimes, those memories are so powerful that the dam shatters, and you're mind is flooded by a raging river of emotions. That's why so many people are fried on anti-depressants -- to keep the flood waters away. Alas, once the dam bursts, you can't control where the flow takes you until the waters recede. During that ride, you're swept up and away in a maelstrom of emotional memories.

During this morning's flood, the lyrics to Torn and Frayed symbolized the struggles (both good and bad, but mostly bad) that I incurred over the last seven years -- whether I initiated them or not. As much as I fought to control my destiny (I know, I know... how foolish to think I can do that), many situations occurred that I had zero influence over like the politicized nature of the online poker industry and the immorality of many of my colleagues. I failed to control how I reacted to those situations. Sometimes I got lucky. Other times things got ugly.

In short, Torn and Frayed reminded me that I spent most of the last seven years chasing a ghost while floating around a circus-like atmosphere, completely restless and never knowing when it was going to end. When I wanted it to stop, I couldn't get off the rambunctious ride, and then add a substance abuse issue to the equation, and you have a recipe for dismal disaster. When I finally thought I escaped the menacing dark side for good, the entire circus showed up on my doorstep and sucked me back in. I can think of three separate instances when I got swept away and sucked back into the echo chamber.

The circus is more dangerous than you think, because after a while, the absurd becomes the norm, and you're entire perspective on life becomes tweaked. It takes me a few weeks, or even months to remind myself that a different set of rules applies to life inside the bubble, and outside.

I still can't figure out how I evaded utter destruction, and I have to re-read Lost Vegas to figure out what I did to escape the first couple of times. I have emotional scars and battle wounds, but I've done what I can to push away the negative aspects of the seven-year sojourn and hone in on the warmth of pleasant times -- good people, fuzzy memories.

Alas, a song like Torn and Frayed shakes everything up and during the four plus minutes the song plays, as each lyric sung by Mick Jagger forces me to deal with the reality of the last seven years from the parasites, to junkies, crooked doctors, the never-ending party, constantly being on the move, and the restless nature of stifled creativity.

It's time to get a new coat, eh?

Before I go, here's Phish performing Torn and Frayed a couple of Halloweens ago at Festival 8...