10.26.06 calling station

NP: "Three Button Hand Me Down" The Faces.
NP: "Most Fair Beauty Bright" Jean Ritchie.
NP: "Concerning The UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois" Sufjan Stevens.
NP: "Foxheads" Close Lobsters.
NP: "Top Of The World" James.
NP: "Alienation #3" The Secret Stars.
NR: still the same stuff listed in last post.

I go and play some poker last Wednesday. Haven't actually played live in forever, and definitely haven't played in NYC in a while. I go to a place that's opened since I was last in town, call it SSSS. I go to play the $120 tournament. I get knocked out the third or fourth hand of the tournament. Fucking annoying. I set myself down at the 1-2 NL table with $250, the max buy-in.

I play a fairly uneventful hour. I'm up maybe $150 at one point, then back down to even. Actually go down to $160, buy another hundred, and then hit the next hand for $100, so I'm sitting there with $360 in front of me and I'm in for $350. Then I get involved in a stupid hand. I'm one off the button with:

I limp for $2, the button raises to $12. 4 players call and it comes back to me. I throw the $10 and close the action. The flop:

A gutshot to the ass-end of the straight. 4 players check, I check, the raiser bets $30. 3 players call. I kinda figure one of them could be on a gutshot or straight draw to the higher straight, but I decide to see one more card and figure out my reads later. The turn:

Nothing. 3 players check, I check, the button checks. The river:

3 players check, I check, the button bets $45. 3 players fold and it comes to me last to act. I sit there and I try to figure out what hand he could possibly have that he wouldn't bet the turn (with two flush draws out there and tons of gutshots), but would bet the river. I finally decide it has to be a bluff disquised as a value bet, and I call.

his hand:

I take down over $300 with a pair of twos, three kicker. guy next to me is mad that he folded his 6. I'm happy to be right.

A couple of hands later I'm on the button with:

I call a small raise in front of me to $12, as does the big blind and one early limper. 4 players to the flop:

2 checks, the original better bets out $35. I decide that he missed, and I call just to see one more card and to set up a bluff on the turn. Other two players fold. Heads up to the turn:

He checks to me. I called just to set up a bluff, but now I'm quite confident I'm ahead. I bet $55. He calls. The river:

The river worries me a little bit, but he checks to me. I bet out $55 again, a bit afraid of him hitting a set of Qs on the river... maybe he had been slowplaying me all along. Or maybe he just called me down with AQ. I'm not really sure how to play it, but I was pretty confident that I was ahead, and wanted to make a value bet for the 90% of the time (or more) that I am ahead there. Other guy announces "raise" and my heart sinks. He throws in the $55, and raises me $150.

I think about it for a 45 seconds, and I realize what he's done: he called me on the turn to set up a bluff on the river, just like I called him on the flop! I'm suddenly sure of. I actually feel myself starting to smile. I point at his raise, I pick up 6 green chips and throw them in the middle. "I call."

He just shakes his head. "That's a great call, man. How do you call that? I've got nothing." He turns over:

The whole table is shocked. Everybody is telling him "great bet", and "that was a fantastic raise, I don't know how he calls there." and "I woulda folda." Then about a minute later everybody starts saying to me "great call" once they thought about it a little more. One guys is like "we've just seen you make two crazy calls in the last 15 minutes" and I say, "What can I say... I'm a calling station." I laugh. He laughs. He goes, "Yeah... But you were right every time so far. You're batting a hundred!". I tell him I'm actually batting a thousand... I hope to be better than batting a hundred.

I look down to see almost $1000 in front of me.

15 minutes later I look down at:

There's a raise in front of me from the guy from the hand above. He raises to $12, I make it $35. He calls and we're heads-up to the flop:

He bets out $35. I don't hesitate a bit and raise him to $85. He thinks about it a minute and re-raises me to $175. I immediately say I'm all-in. He has about another $150 behind him, and calls. I turn over the JJ. He turns over:

his hand:

He just shakes his head. I have him crushed. The whole tables wonders what the hell he was thinking. The turn and river come:

Everybody just gasps. I actually laugh. It's one of the worst beats I've ever actually taken, but it's so ridiculous that I can't even be mad. I definitely say "wow", shake my head, and move on.

In the next 15 hands, I get KK twice. Twice in a row, on the big blind and the small blind. On the Big Blind I re-raise to $65, get one caller, and fire at the flop, and the guy folds. The next hand the same person as the previous KK hand raises, and this time I smooth call. I check raise him on the flop, and he goes all-in. I lose $150 as he turns over AA. I'm still around the same $650 that I had left after the JJ vs. 10-8 debaucle.

I'm in late position again. There's a raise in front of me from the guy I called the check-raise bluff and lost the JJ vs. 10-8 to. I look down and see:

I re-raise him to $40. Everybody folds, he calls. It's he and I to the flop:

He bets $75. I raise him to $185. He thinks about it for a minute, and calls. The turn:

He checks to me. I don't know what the fuck he has, but I decide that I'm ahead, and that I want him to go away. He has about $400 in front of him, there's $450 in the pot. I go all in. He thinks and thinks and thinks. And then finally calls! Once he took that long I knew I was really far ahead. I immediately turn over my AA, and he just shakes his head again. He asks me if I want to do business. I'm like "you haven't showed me your cards yet!" He laughs and turns over:

I just laugh at him. There's no way I'm doing business against J3. The river comes:

and I take the $650 off of him that should have been mine from the bad beat he had given me a half hour before.

Two hands later a new guy sits down at the table with $200, I call a raise in front to $25 with 68suited, the new guy raises to $75, and the initial raiser calls. I say fuck it, throw in the $50, and see the flop. The flop comes 567. First guy checks, I check, new guy goes all-in for $125. I have middle pair and I'm open ended. First guy folds, and I call but don't turn over my cards. The turn comes a 2 and the river comes an 8. New guy turns over QQ, and I turn over 68 to take it down. The dealer push comes the next hand, I look down and I have $1450 in front of me, and I call it a night.

I walk home VERY happy.

10.25.06 burned

NP: "Rescue" Echo & The Bunnymen. So. It's 8:25 AM. I'm stumbling into the McDonald's in Limon, CO. Getting ready to drive the other 7 hours to Lawrence, KS. Half asleep, I realize the reason for my confusion: "Rescue" by Echo & The Bunnymen is being played through the speakers.
NP: "Suspicious Minds" Elvis Presley. Then this comes on.
NP: "Crazy For You" Madonna. And then this. (They're VERY slow at the Limon, Colorado McDonald's.
NP: "(Nothing But) Flowers" Talking Heads. And then Talking Heads come on as I'm walking out the door. Best McDonald's playlist ever? I would think that MUST be true.
NR: still the same stuff listed in last post.

Some links from the We Are Scientists tour. Chris Cain does take some lovely photos and is a very funny man. I hate him.

I don't hate him because he takes lovely photos nor because he is a funny man. I hate him because he just might be a better man than me. I lost a $1000 wager to him. I need better documentation, and I will post it when I get it, but basically, I bet him $1000 that he wouldn't wear a pink sweatsuit with a yellow lightning bolt sewn onto the front of it and his name written on the back of it in Sharpie for the final ten days of tour. He took me up on that challenge.

Chris Cain on stage in the midst of the wager:

By the way, the button was part of the wager. It lists how much it costs for various kinds of mustache rides.

Video of Chris Cain on the last night of the wager:

photo #1 of me in the We Are Scientists imeem tour diary.
photo #2 of me in the We Are Scientists imeem tour diary.
photo #3 of me in the We Are Scientists imeem tour diary.
photo #4 of me in the We Are Scientists imeem tour diary.
And, of course, no tour diary is complete without "An Ode To Chris Newmyer".

Video of everybody from We Are Scientists, Art Brut, The Spinto Band, etc. performing "Hotel California"in the dressing room in San Francisco (California, duh).

10.24.06 broiled

NP: "Rain Song" The Mountain Goats.
NP: "No Place To Fall (Live At The Old Quarter)" Townes Van Zandt.
NP: "Milonguita Irmita" Glover Gill, Tosco Tango Orchestra.
NP: "Fragile Gang" The Pastels.
NR: Working on "Waterfalls Of Slunj" by Doderer, "Love Is A Dog From Hell" by Bukowski, "The Great Psychedelic Armadillo Picnic" by Kinky Friedman, "Anthem" by Ayn Rand, and "The Miracle Game" by Josef Skvorecky. Haven't touched a New Yorker in basically five months.

I go to the hotel across from the UN Building. It's almost the only time I take the bus. First Avenue, 9th Street to 42nd St. I wait only seconds for the bus. Always a good sign. No traffic. A beautiful woman walks up the steps to Tudor City as I cross the street. Then halfway up she gives a half-turn glance over her shoulder. I'm not really watching her... I don't feel creepy, but it does ruin the perfect noir-ish moment. It's not quite dark enough, not quite black-and-white enough... it's too crisp, too clear to be noir, but i could imagine it slightly sepia-tone; i could imagine that she was wearing seamed stockings and forearm-length gloves.

But she wasn't. I don't even watch her all the way to the top of the steps, instead distracted by the adorable dachsund puppy walking by. Now THAT'S worth a look back over the shoulder.

I love this hotel. I've walked right into this lobby, this elevator, at least twenty times. Never a problem. I did actually stay here once. Trying to open a bottle of beer with the "edge of the table" technique, i lined up the cap of a bottle of probably Stella or maybe Amstel Light with the edge of the desk, and gave it a smack. It was a glass-top desk, I should add. It was now a glass-top desk with a big chip missing and a good-size four inch sunburst pattern cracked into it. And the fucking beer was still wasn't open, too.

This affair was magnificent. An affair that lasted many years, many hotels, many alleys, many construction sites, many parks, many benches, many strange bars in strange neighborhoods, many cities. I'd started to say it was the best time of my life when I realized that while this affair was taking place I was living with the woman that I've often described as the love of my life. Maybe it really was the happiest I've ever been... Two amazing women.

I'm unsure if I'm thinking these things as I get into the elevator. Probably not.

They ask me to sign it at the pool. I've never used anything but my real name. I now remember one time that I signed in the affair's woman real name at the pool and that she was fairly pissed off at me for doing so.

They hand me a towel and a locker key. It really is that simple. I'd go back every day if I didn't think it would start being weird. But I do need to go back again.

The pool is empty. I do jump in, but I'm not really here for the pool. Not when I'm here alone, anyway. I get up from the pool and walk back into the locker room. The sauna is already on as high as it goes. I'm relieved to see it. The last couple of hotel saunas I encountered were room temperature when I approached them, and never got hot enough to even both to sit down in. I wish they could all be like that steam room at Fairmont Hot Springs in Anaconda, Montana.

I feel the pool water evaporate. I feel the sweat start. I breathe deeply. I love it. I would bake myself like this every day if I could. I could fall asleep in here happily. I actually fear that I will do that some day. It fears me less than the "somehow the door gets locked while I'm in here" fear that always crops up if even for a second when sitting in one of these. I do a good twenty minutes. I can feel my back softening and aligning, and I don't even have a bad back to begin with.

Back to the pool. I make myself do ten laps, and it just about kills me. I can't actually do them all freestyle... I do six laps freestyle, then one backstroke, then two breaststroke, finishing with one last freestyle. I feel pretty pathetic, but then when I'm done I can also feel the muscles in my upper back bulging and tightening, and I feel better.

Back to the sauna. This time I'm focused. I can feel my body anticipate... my lungs welcome the hot air, my pores are at attention. I lean slightly forward, my arms across the top of my legs, my fingers interlocked. My head slightly down. I'm sitting perfectly still and breathing deeply. When my nostrils just won't take in any more of the 190 degree air, I finish the breath with my mouth. I've never understood how some runners can avoid mouth breathing. That's amazing to me. I don't think at all. I make myself wait.

The sweat starts to run out of me. Absolutely pouring. It won't stop. I wish the toxins out of me. I will the water to come. I want it to never stop. Their are five drops in perfect symmetry on the wood bench beneath me... a drop comes off of each hand somewhere between the wrist and the fingers in a place that I wouldn't have thought is the low-point of my hands, but clearly is in this position. Another two wider drops come off of each arm about halfway between wrist and elbow, three inches beyond where my elbows are resting on my legs. And in the middle of it all a large drop comes down my face and off my nose. A very large drop. every 4 seconds or so I would estimate. It hits the wood with a lovely solid slap every time. I'm very still. I can see the splash of the sweat hitting the target and I can't think of anything else.

the five points of sweat are perfectly the top half of a hexagon.

         *                   *


*                  *                  *

I try not to think about the Trivial Pursuit playing pieces, but I can't help it.

I count the drops of sweat hitting the center. I decide to let 100 more hit the ground. I count 1 to 50, then 50 again, and then backwards down to 0. I include zero. I know I don't have to include zero, as I already compensated for that by including 50 twice, but... I can't help it, and go to zero. Even though I feel silly for doing so. I try not to think about "Murphy" by Beckett, but I can't. Whenever I find myself counting steps or drops of sweat or whatever, I just can't help it.

I count the steps from the top of the stairs near the platform, to the bottom of the steps leading to the exit at the York Street F train station every time I get off the train there. Never when I get onto the train, only when I leave. There's a splotch of paint that's a bit under halfway up the ramp. It's at about the 39.5 / 40 stride mark, and the entire length of the ramp is right around 93 strides, give or take 2 or 2.5, even though I couldn't tell you why it possibly would vary that much.

The sweat keeps dripping from my nose. I tell myself that I want to stay a little longer, like 3 more minutes.

I decide to take some really deep, really drawn out breaths, like if I were trying to concentrate and fall asleep. They must take like 12 seconds apiece I'm guessing, so I pick 15 breaths.

I take the fifteen breaths and it's absolute heaven. I never want to leave.

03.07.06 sticky thwap

NP: "Step Into The Light" Archers Of Loaf. See below.
NP: "Lowest Part Is Free!" Archers Of Loaf. Ibid.
NP: "37 Push-Ups" Smog. I forgot how much I like this song, from the "Julius Ceasar" album that I don't really like.
NP: "You Threw A Spark" Crooked Fingers. Had picked this song the other night, before the little Archers Of Loaf moment.
NP: "It's All Too Much" Senator Flux. A lovely George Harrison cover.
NP: "Self Portrait With Thing (Tonight Is Not Your Night)" Destroyer. I think I've only listened to the new Destroyer once. Whoops.
NP: "You Come And I Go" Hotel Lights. I want to hate the band featuring my ex's current. But this record is just too fucking good. Dammit.
NP: "Salt The Stings" The Duke Spirit. I have a feeling I'm going to get sick of this band quickly, but for now I'm really enjoying it.
NP: "One" Mary J. Blige Featuring U2. My friend Whitney says that Mary goes for it on this song like no other woman since Tina Turner. She might be right.
NP: "Crabwalk" American Music Club. Was just walking home and say "Crabwalk" by Gunter Grass in the window at St. Marks Bookstore. Thought about this song. Then came home, hit shuffle on the "random songs with play count = 0 playlist" on Itunes, and it was the second song on. Creepy.
NR: Working on a Paris Review from 2004 that I had never read. Finished the Granta that I had never read. Ignoring this week's New Yorker thus far. Going to read "Waterfalls Of Slunj" by Heimito von Doderer again next. Must finish this fucking "Baphomet" by Pierre Klossowski. Worst book I've ever read.

Smith And 9th at 5 A.M.

Outside and on top of the world, or at least Brooklyn.

I spit onto the tracks and surprise myself with the loudness of the launch and again by the sticky thwap.

It's cold and clear and as beautiful as a cliff view or a work of nature. It feels natural, carved. The upward arc and curve. G then F then F. Not my F's but the inverse. I wait.

I feel like I'm rooting for the sun to rise, but I know it's too early for that.

The train is more crowded that I ever would have imagined. I thought I would have my own car. Instead I am passenger #20. But except for two we all have our own bench. Jay Street will change that.

And then something I don't believe I've ever seen. That guy just took a piss in the corner. The back corner. The train is travelling downhill to Bergen. Twin streams of piss are running down the right side of the car, already underneath one pair of sleeping legs and now through one pair of awake sneakers.

I change cars.

I find myself wishing Leonard Cohen was playing. But middle-era Archers Of Loaf comes on instead, and I think it might be even better. I wish it was "Vs. The Greatest Of All Time", but "Step Into The Light" is going to be amazing when it hits the breakdown right when I exit at Houston and 1st.

And it is.

I walk home.

03.05.06 excerpted

NP: nothing.
NR: my own web pages? does that even count?

From "Feathers" by Raymond Carver:

She didn't say anything. She drew in her lower lip and let it go. She turned off the radio as we got close to the house.

A baby's swing-set stood in the front yard and some toys lay on the porch. I pulled up in front and stopped the car. It was then that we heard this awful squall. There was a baby in the house, right, but this cry was too loud for a baby.

"What's that sound?" Fran said.

Then something as big as a vulture flapped heavily down from one of the trees and landed just in front of the car. It shook itself. It turned its long neck toward the car, raised its head, and regarded us.

"Goddamn it," I said. I sat there with my hands on the wheel and stared at the thing.

"Can you believe it?" Fran said. "I never saw a real one before."

We both knew it was a peacock, sure, but we didn't say the word out loud. We just watched it. The bird turned its head up in the air and made this harsh cry again. It had fluffed itself out and looked about twice the size it'd been when it landed.

"Goddamn," I said again. We stayed where we were in the front seat.

The bird moved forward a little. Then it turned its head to the side and braced istself. It kept its bright, wild eye right on us. Its tail was raised, and it was like a big fan folding in and out. There was every color in the rainbow shining from that tail.

"My God," Fran said quietly. She moved her hand over to my knee.

"Goddamn," I said. There was nothing else to say.

From "Tricks" by Alice Munro: (abridged)

Robin thanks her and folds it and takes it to the closet, to put it into her purse. She wants to be alone when she reads it. But she can't wait till she gets home. She goes down to the Quiet Room, which used to be the Prayer Room. Nobody was in there being quiet at the moment.

Robin wants to set this piece of paper in front of someone, some authority.

This is ridiculous. This I do not accept.


Shakespeare should have prepared her... A means to an end, those tricks are supposed to be. And in the end the mysteries are solved, the pranks are forgiven, true love or something like it is rekindled, and those who were fooled have the good grace not to complain.

If she had come a little later. A little earlier. If she had stayed till the play was over or skipped the play altogether. If she had not bothered with her hair.

It was all spoiled in one day, in a couple of minutes, not by fits and starts, struggles, hopes and losses, in the long-drawn-out way that such things are more often spoiled. And if it's true that things are usually spoiled, isn't the quick way the easier way to bear?

But you don't really take that view, not for yourself. Robin doesn't. Even now she can yearn for her chance. She is not going to spare a moment's gratitude for the trick that has been played. But she'll come round to being grateful for the discovery of it. That, at least--the discovery which leaves everything whole, right up to the moment of frivolous intervention. Leaves you outraged, but warmed from a distance, clear of shame.

She wished she could tell somebody. Him.

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All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of The Self-Starter Foundation. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.

However, you may download material from The Self-Starter Foundation website (one machine readable copy and one print copy per page) for your personal, noncommercial use only.

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