Rumors that I've kidnapped America's favorite nihilist doctor are only slightly exaggerated. Pauly has indeed been recovering from his nasty bout with tonsilitis and boosting his immune system by popping steriods and breathing in the soupy, chemical-tinged air that hangs over the Los Angeles basin. Showcase and I are always happy to have the company, and most nights he's out anyways with his Gucci-clad, alcoholic, sex-crazed Orange County girlfriend. Last week Stacee showed up here to pick him up with a $2000 purse slung over her shoulder. I didn't know whether to vomit or drool.
Pauly blew into town with the rain on Monday. I picked him up in Long Beach just as the sky opened up over the 405 freeway. Traffic was mercifully light and we made it back to my place in plenty of time for Iggy's Blogger WSOP Satellite on Poker Stars. The little man is so fuckin' money he threw in over $200 of his own coin just so he could send two of us goofballs to the show. I'm hard pressed to think of a more generous guy. As the tournament got underway, I finished up a batch of garlic meatballs and got them ready to simmer in a happy little sauce born out of a dark roux, onions, cayenne, and beer. They were ready just as we went to the first break. The meatballs went onto french bread lined with provolone and creole mustard and I nursed an average stack as I dug into my first bite. The deep stacks format was the nuts and still feeling the sting of an awful March I was playing some super-patient poker. Unfortunately I busted out before I even got through the first half of the sandwich. I got all-in with KK vs. TT on a 7 high flop and he turned a T.
Hiatuses are good and everything. They can help you refocus or at least de-tilt. However, I discovered a few days ago that I had a Party Bonus that was about to expire and I still had about 650 hands to rake in order to clear it. I mean, a hundred bucks is a hundred bucks. But Pauly convinced me of what I believe was a good decision-- to take all of Tuesday off from poker. I still had over a week to grind it out. And it was still raining.
We saw Thank You For Smoking that afternoon in Century City. I'm in love with the swank new theatres there, though my familiarity and comfort level with the place is irreperably damaged. I must have seen hundreds of films in the old Century 14 over the course of my lifetime. I had my parking and pre-cinema food-fetching routine down to a seven-minute science. I suppose I'll adapt eventually.
The film was fantastic. Sharp, funny, great performances. Even by Katie the War Bride. Very well-directed. A film I'd totally wanna make. Seeing it almost reminded me of why, at one time, I was ready to stop at nothing to produce great films. Almost...
Maybe I just need to write a great film. Or at least a commercial one.
On Wednesday Joe Speaker invited us out to his cavernous Moreno Valley home. Pauly managed to get us lost along the three minute drive from the freeway off-ramp to Speaker's house.
"Dude just keep making rights."
"But what street do I turn on? Rambla Marino?"
"Yeah, Rambla Marino."
"I made that up. You so weren't paying attention."
Speaker has a swannnnnk big screen TV and something called the YES network, a satellite channel which broadcasts all the Yankee games. Tonight they'd take on Joe Speaker's beloved Oakland A's. Over pizza and beer, Pauly tried to explain baseball to me in terms he knew I'd understand-- the language of a degenerate gambler.
"See, that pitch there? That's like Jack-ten suited in early position. It looks good but you don't want to mess around with that hand out of position. He shouldn't even be swinging at that. Just... let it go by."
The Yanks went out to an early lead, but blew it and lost 9-4. Al Can't Hang gave us a dial-a-shot somewhere around the 5th inning.
Thursday afternoon we had lunch with Wil at the Pasadena Hooters. Our waitress was dumb as shit. She carded both of us when we ordered our beers and though she had no problem locating my birthdate on my California Drivers License, Pauly's New York State model proved a bit more difficult for her to decipher. Pauly took it back and led her to the red-stamped 9-20-72 that sat atop his home address.
"Bronx? Is that like, a city?"
"It's a borough."
"I always thought it was THE Bronx. Not just Bronx."
"Well... it is"
"Then why does it say 'Bronx?'"
There really was no easy way to explain it to her.
After devouring some wings, we headed over to Lucky Baldwin's, Wil's favorite neighborhood dive bar. Wil had a pint of Guinness and Pauly and I sampled a Belgian beer called Stella. Unfortunately, I forgot to feed the meter on my way from Hooters to the bar and ended up with a $35 ticket on my car. Not my first, sure as hell won't be the last. Unlike jaywalking citations from douchebag cops, parking tickets don't tilt me. I accept them as a fact of life in Los Angeles.
Showcase turned 29 on Friday. After spending the day hiking in Topanga Canyon and smoking freshies on El Matador beach, Pauly and I returned home to find impromptu party preparations well underway. Showcase had bought out the local 7-11 and was filling dishes with gummy bears, Reese's Pieces, M&Ms, and powdered donuts. Within half an hour, our tiny living room was packed with friends, the air completely bathed in a cloud of sweet smoke. Pauly took quite a liking to Showcase's new vaporizer and by the end of the evening was as faded as I'd ever seen him. I was pretty messed up myself and at one point had to take a BG-like "rest my eyes" break in my room, away from the crowd.
I'd been cooking so much for Pauly that he decided to return the favor on Saturday morning. He made me a truly spectacular breakfast-- crisp bacon and Eva Can't Hang's special french toast topped with sliced stawberries. I was really impressed. Most guys say they're gonna cook for me and I'm ready to head for the hills. This was quite lovely and unexpectedly delicious.
After devouring my meal I fired up Full Tilt for the second Ladies' Bracelet Race. I was rivered out of three pots where I got in ahead-- overpair vs. underpair ended in a 2-outer hitting, AJ lost to AT when the T hit the river, and 44 fell to K8o when the K came on the river. I ended up 25th of 71 and on mild tilt.
Our week ended on a high note. Joe Speaker's real estate guru Mom scored us tickets to the Angels-Yankees game for Sunday afternoon. The guys were psyched and I put my own mother on tilt when I told her of my good fortune. We met up under the big red hat outside the stadium gates and Speaker walked up hand in hand with his super-cute date, the child who will rule the world, little A.J.
Devastating. Watching him tear into a wad of pink cotton candy with an ear to ear grin made my heart melt.
It also happened to be "rally stick" day. You know, those inflatable things that drunk morons hit together when they want some overpaid douchebag to hit a home run? Well, A.J. was in love at first sight. Joe Speaker blew them up for A.J. and he instantly started pounding Pauly in the head with them and laughing maniacally. Watching Pauly relate to a child was definitely interesting. He talks to them like real human beings. The two of them had quite the critical discussion of The Chronicles of Narnia.
Speaker has A.J. well-trained in terms of American League baseball.
"Who are the Yankees playing today, A.J.?"
"The stupid Angels."
The stupid Angels lost 10-1. Sweeeeet.
What, a whole week in Los Angeles without a celebrity sighting? Not a chance. This morning I spotted American Idol's Taylor Hicks (aka the gray haired guy with Joe Cocker's voice) eating at the end of the counter at Nick's Coffee Shop as Pauly and I waited for our food. He was with a metrosexual-looking guy and they looked over what looked to be a binder full of music. As he walked up to the register to pay his check, a blonde girl in a teal Juicy Couture track suit shouted out, "We love you Taylor! Don't listen to Simon-- you don't need to diet!"
I was genuinely star-struck. And I don't usually get that way. There's just something about catching someone right at the height of their 15 minutes that makes my heart flutter.
Just another week in L.A.
And I cleared that bonus too.