Monday, December 29, 2014

Dope Year in Review

New York City

I slacked here in the writing department but if you are really ambitious then you can dig through the archives of the first four-five months when I was most active.

At the start of the year, I embarked on a wild adventure with Shaniac and we co-hosted a podcast that we titled Dope Stories. I was fortunate enough to be a part of 27 wonderful episodes. Here's the descriptions and links to every one...

Episode 001: Down and Out in NYC (46:34) -- Stream | Download
Description: Debut episode of Dope Stories Podcast includes Shane's first time getting stoned (at William Kunstler's townhouse), his drug-induced mental breakdown in Amsterdam, medicinal marijuana in the NFL, the origins of Chemdawg strain, and how to get busted for weed in Giuliani's NYC.

Episode 002: Philip Seymour Hoffman Remembered (47:41) --  Stream | Download
Description: Special episode in response to the OD death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. Shane and Pauly are impressed with Hoffman's haunting performance as a compulsive gambler in Owning Mahowny. They also discuss the 90s heroin chic scene in NYC. Pauly shares a few OD stories (DMT, heroin, and the Seattle grunge scene). Shane recalls a James Brown heroin PSA.

Episode 003: Start Up Dot Weed: The 2014 L.A. Cannabis Cup (53:32) -- Stream | Download
Description: An overzealous landlord denies Shane new housing because of his affiliation with Dope Stories. Shane fills in Pauly about what he missed at the L.A. Cannabis Cup. Dope Stories welcomes its first guest, DJ Trent, who shares his thoughts on the heavy tech influence and innovation on the burgeoning marijuana industry.

Episode 004: Talkin' About Base: Crack 101 (51:14) --  Stream | Download
Description: Shane buys scratch off lottery tickets, Pauly discusses his chronic insomnia, and Shane reveals his experiences with crack cocaine. Also, Pauly has a theory that George Clinton is an alien.

Episode 005: The Oxy Years (46:16) --  Stream | Download
Description: Shane and Pauly discuss their origins in the NYC underground poker scene and how Pauly got hired to become a poker writer and reporter in Las Vegas. Pauly explains how a car accident in Vegas altered his life and quickly led to an addiction to prescription painkillers. The accident triggered two tumultuous years of soul searching while battling an addiction to OxyContin.

Episode 006: Tripping in The House I Live In (51:04) -- Stream | Download
Description: Shane's crack article in Slate, 50 Cent documentaries, Eugene Jarecki's drug war documentary The House I Live In, Shane's bad trips, Pauly's turbulent trip at Phish, Ken Kesey testing LSD for the CIA, Shane's friend busted for weed, web series High Maintenance, and Shane's experiences working for a marijuana delivery service in NYC.

Episode 007: Greg Merson (57:31) --  Stream | Download
Description: Shane and Pauly interview 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event Champion Greg Merson. During their discussion, Merson reveals how poker was both his downfall and savior while he battled an addiction to cocaine and prescription opiates. Within a year of getting clean, Merson won the WSOP Main Event. Merson currently travels the international circuit and playing in high roller tournaments and the biggest stakes cash games, yet he knows that a potential relapse is lurking around every corner. After the interview, DJ Trent gets schooled on basic poker concepts that Greg mentioned.

Episode 008: Dr. Carl Hart (1:09:48) -- Stream | Download
Description: Shane and Pauly interview Dr. Carl Hart, Columbia University professor of neuroscience and the author of High Price. Dr. Hart shares the straight dope on certain drug myths. Dr. Hart spoke on numerous topics including his experiments on behavior in crack users, how there's no scientific evidence for addictive personalities, the importance of clever campaigns explaining the real effects of drugs, the dangers of mixing drugs with alcohol and other drugs, a letter he wrote to his son about how to use drugs safely, and his problem with David Simon's The Wire.

Episode 009: Media Dope (41:14) --  Stream | Download
Description: Shane shares some lyrical insight he grokked from Dead Prez and Wu-Tang Clan. Shane and Pauly discuss the Gus Van Sant film Drugstore Cowboy. Pauly's Dope Media suggestions include a biography on David Foster Wallace and podcasts with Duncan Tressell, Amber Lyon, and Dean Delray. Shane watched Drugs, Inc.: Jamaica. Also, Shane explains his recent run in a poker tournament and how $151,000 is not really what it seems.

Broke Stories - Episode 001 (56:01) -- Stream | Download
Description: Shane and Pauly created a new podcast about going broke. Pauly's broke stories include shoplifting CDs in the East Village, meeting a weed dealer at a country club in Atlanta, selling his hair in Seattle, losing a $6,000 bet on a March Madness basketball game, blowing his poker winnings on Phish tour, and getting stiffed by a bookie. Shane's broke stories include winning his first prop bet inside a Bronx diner, panhandling for 25 cents to take a crosstown bus, betting/losing on tennis matches during summer camp in Maine, and taking a wrong turn along the way to a Rainbow Gathering in Montana.

Episode 010: Ridin' Dirty (1:02:05) -- Stream | Download
Description: Shane roadtripped to New Mexico and calls into the Dope Stories studios to chat with Pauly. Shane tells his infamous Amtrak story involving a near bust. Pauly tells a few stories about using a Jedi mind trick with a security guard, an encounter with a drug dog checkpoint on a Kansas freeway, and the time he randomly met Bill Murray in NYC. This week's Dope Media included: High Maintenance, Gil Scott-Heron, Mistaken for Strangers (documentary film), A.K.A. Tommy Chong (documentary), Murder City by Charles Bowden (book about Juarez, Mexico), Lost in America/Easy Rider, and the new War on Drugs album.

Episode 011: Sean Azzariti (1:05:05) -- Stream | Download
Description: Shane and Pauly interviewed medicinal marijuana activist and Iraq War veteran Sean Azzariti, who uses marijuana to treat his PTSD. Sean is most known for being the first person to ever buy legal weed in Denver, Colorado on Jan 1, 2014. Sean explains how he got tapped to be the first recreational buyer along with how he's working on a bill to help get PTSD listed as one of the approved conditions for medicinal marijuana in Colorado. Sean also talked a little bit about his two tours in Iraq with the Marines, including his encounters with trecherous camel spiders and day workers trying to bribe him with bags of hashish. Dope Media segments included: High Times podcast - The Stash, Back and Forth (documentary about Dave Grohl forming the Foo Fighters), Pharoahe Monch's new album P.T.S.D., Roadside Prophets (1992 movie with John Cusak), and Scrapple documentary.

Episode 012: International Dope (57:52) -- Stream | Download
Description: Pauly's girlfriend shares a lost in translation story from London. Shane tells a couple crazy tales about trying to score in Europe and in the Bahamas (including a night involving a character named Mack Daddy). Pauly talks about his first visit to the Christiania "green-light district" in Copenhagen, along with the time he was accused of being a CIA agent in Uruguay. Pauly also tells of the time he met Kate Hudson backstage at Big Day Out music festival in Australia. Dope Media includes books by Tom Davis, Geoff Dyer, and Russell Banks, and the most recent episode of SNL with Seth Rogen.

Episode 013: The 4/20 Show (49:00) -- Stream | Download
Description: Special episode to commemorate 420 Day. Half-baked festivities included sampling pre-rolled joints, vaping "Brown Sugar" shatter, and setting off the smoke detector in Pauly's office. Shane and Pauly had a brief discussion about Gimme Shelter, the documentary on the Rolling Stones and Altamont. Shane told a story about losing an ounce of weed and drinking shroom tea on Easter and tripping at Roseland Ballroom. Dope Media included Dave Chappelle/Neal Brennan, What You Want Is in the Limo by Michael Walker, Don't Look Back (Bob Dylan documentary by D.A. Pennebaker), and Seven Ages of Rock documentary.

Episode 014: The Acid Test (56:45) -- Stream | Download
Description: Pauly read Acid Dreams (book by Martin A. Lee) and shared his notes with Shane that includes Timothy Leary at Millbrook, the CIA buying 100 million hits of LSD from Sandoz labs in Switzerland, Ken Kesey & the Merry Pranksters, Neal Cassady driving the Furthur bus, the history of the Acid Tests, the Grateful Dead dosing Playboy bunnies, and the time Allen Ginsberg gave Psilocybin to Theolnious Monk. Shane re-examines his initial experimentation with psychedelics (including a DMT experience on Halloween) leading up to his psychotic breakdown in Amsterdam. Dope Media included Silicon Valley (new show on HBO), Magic Trip documentary, El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer (The Simpsons episode when Homer trips on Guatemalan insanity pepper), Bates Motel, Broad City, and Acid Dreams: The Complete Social History of LSD: the CIA, the Sixties, and Beyond.

Episode 015: The Acid Test, Part 2: Furthur (54:47) -- Stream | Download
Description: Shane gifts Pauly a vinyl copy of Europe '72 by the Grateful Dead. John Lennon reminds us to thank the CIA and U.S. Army for LSD. Shane reviews the Magic Trip documentary and explains why he wouldn't want to travel on the Furthur bus with the Merry Pranksters. Shane and Pauly discuss Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and why Kesey's problems with the film version of his novel. Other stories include Shane's trip on a Green Tortoise adventure tour, teenaged Pauly "adopted" by older hippies on Grateful Dead tour, and Shane's encounter with a sketchy "leprechaun" in Central Park. Dope Media includes Searching for Sound by Phil Lesh, Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys, Free Your Mind... and Your Ass Will Follow by Funkadelic, Paul Krassner's Impolite Interviews, and The Eden Express: A Memoir of Insanity by Mark Vonnegut.

Episode 016: High Maintenance (Katja Blichfeld & Ben Sinclair) (48:54) -- Stream | Download
Description: Shane and Pauly interview Ben Sinclair and Katja Blichfeld, the co-creators of High Maintenance, which is a critically acclaimed web series about a weed delivery guy in NYC who encounters an eclectic pastiche of customers and characters. This interview was conducted at Thank You For Coming in Atwater Village.

Episode 017: I Get High With A Lil Help From Strangers (55:33) --  Stream | Download
Description: Shane and Pauly swap different dope stories involving strangers. Shane's stories include his first crack experience, getting stoned with his friend Dee Dee and two German tourists, and meeting a Dutch traveler who helped shape his mind about traveling. Pauly's stories include hanging out with spies in Amsterdam hash bars, gambling on basketball with British ex-pats in Jamaica, and following Phish in Japan and meeting generous local hippies. Dope Media included Keith Richards autobiography and Pharoahe Monch's newest album.

Episode 018: We Are So High (52:56) -- Stream | Download
Description: Shane and Pauly sound off on a recent episode of This American Life "I Was So High." Shane has issues with Ira Glass' Us vs. Them theme and Alex Blumberg's segment about his pothead father. Pauly claims he can spot which chefs on Top Chef are high. Shane touches upon recent articles about Harm Reduction in the Guardian and Buzzfeed's Buzzreads, which brought attention to different programs to help heroin users in NYC and cocaine users in the U.K. Dope Media includes Howard Stern's interviewing Doug Stanhope and Billy Joel, and a book on the Oral History of L.A. Punk called We Got the Neutron Bomb by Marc Spitz and Brendan Mullen.

Episode 019: Lost Vegas (49:32) -- Stream | Download
Description: The theme this week is "Las Vegas as a drug" and the nonstop temptations of Sin City. Pauly explains how he chats up strippers and other elements of the dark side of Las Vegas. Shane shares a couple of classic Vegas sex stories including the Glove Scam and he gives tips on how not to get rolled by a hooker. Shane started reading Pauly's book "Lost Vegas: The Redneck Riviera, Existentialist Conversations with Strippers, and the World Series of Poker" and asks Pauly about the book's origins and his Vegas psychedelic experiences from the 1990s. This week's Dope Media includes: Tom Wolfe essay on Vegas, Bob Dylan's Rambling Gambling Willie, Drugs Inc. (Las Vegas episode), and the obituary for Dr. Alexander 'Sasha' Shulgin (a.k.a. the Godfather of Ecstasy).

Episode 020: Dr. Shulgin, MDMA, and New Reefer Madness (48:44) -- Stream | Download
Description: The passing of chemist Dr. Alexander 'Sasha' Shulgin, a.k.a. the Godfather of Psychedelics, inspired a discussion on MDMA. Dr. Shuglin perfected MDMA in the 1970s and authored two books about his psychedelic discoveries like 2C-B and DOM. Pauly reminds us about Dr. Shulgin's philosophy on self-experimentation and his message about psychedelics: "Use them with care." Shane and Pauly warn listeners about the wave of severe depression that accompanies heavy usage of MDMA. Shane reveals an affinity for chocolate and Pauly delves into his recent addiction to Two Dots. Shane sounds off the new 'Reefer Madness' in the media and Maureen Dowd's op-ed in NY Times about overdosing on cannabis edibles. Dope Media picks include Finding the Funk documentary, VICE interview with Dr. Sasha Shulgin, and Believer article on the future of marijuana growers in NoCal's Emerald Triangle.

Episode 021: Dope Economies (40:39) -- Stream | Download
Description: Shane returns from a long weekend in Vegas and asks Pauly about an article in The Believer about the future of marijuana growers in the Northern California's Emerald Triangle. Pauly explains how wholesale weed prices dropped dramatically over the last 10 years. Shane and Pauly discuss the documentary Crackhouse USA, in which narcotics police in Rockford, Illinois set up surveillance inside a stash house. Pauly remarks on the 44th anniversary of Dock Ellis pitching a no-hitter while under the influence of LSD and speed. Dope Media includes Dead Prez and Michael Rappaport's documentary Beats, Rhymes and Life about A Tribe Called Quest.

Episode 022: Jordan Morgan (1:06:39) -- Stream | Download
Description:  Shane is on the road in Las Vegas and calls Pauly in the studio. They interview professional poker player Jordan Morgan moments after he won a tournament and his first World Series of Poker bracelet. Morgan was recently prescribed Adderall and he explains how the cognitive enhancer drug turned his life around. Shane and Pauly discuss Electric Daisy Carnival, Shane's worst festival experience, and Pauly's worst Phish show in Vermont. Shane also asks Pauly about his writing methods and inspiration behind his new novel, Fried Peaches. Dope Media includes True Romance (film recommended by Jordan Morgan), How I Hacked My Brain on Adderall article by Trent, and Supermensch, a documentary by Mike Myers about legendary manager Shep Gordon.

Episode 023: Degens of Summer (49:38) -- Stream | Download
Description: Shane returns from Vegas, where he played poker with Michael Borovetz, a degenerate gambler most known for scamming people at airports. Shane and Pauly discuss heroin experimentation, while Pauly explains how he's too busy with work to be a full-blown junkie. Dope Media selections include Kid Cannabis film and 112 Weddings documentary.

Episode 024: TURBO: Sean Azzariti (20:48) -- Stream | Download
Description: In this special "Turbo" episode, Pauly interviews marijuana activist and veterans advocate Sean Azzariti. Sean talks about the controversial dismissal of medicinal marijuana researcher, Dr. Sue Sisley. Sean updates us on his recent work with Grow4Vets, which offers free cannabis for military veterans. Sean also explains how medicinal marijuana helps him and other Iraq War vets deal with PTSD. FYI... Sean was previously a guest on Episode 11.

Episode 025: TURBO: Mexicali Blues (20:49) --  Stream | Download
Description: In this special "Turbo" vacation episode, Pauly asks Shane about living in Mexico as an online poker exile. Shane answers the popular question "Is Mexico dangerous?" and he describes his weekly routine commuting from Santa Monica to Rosarito Beach, Mexico. 
Episode 026: Phish Tour (51:39) --  Stream | Download
Description: Pauly returns from two weeks on the road following the band Phish for seven concerts and Shane asks him about his psychedelic travels in New York, Detroit, and Chicago. Other topics include: sleep as a drug, habituation and compulsion of social media, the nitrous mafia, Phish as a religion and "what is a wook?" Dope Media segment features Down the Rabbit Hole (a novel by Juan Pablo Villalobos) and Michael Walker's book on the Laurel Canyon music scene.

Episode 027: This Is The End (53:57) -- Stream | Download
Description: Shane explains how he arrived at the difficult decision to end Dope Stories after 27 episodes. Shane and Pauly reminisce about their favorite moments from the show, and they also briefly discuss the New York Times op-ed series supporting the legalization of marijuana. Pauly shares a Las Vegas story about dropping LSD at the World Series of Poker on the day Phil Hellmuth made a grandiose entrance dressed as Julius Caesar. Dope Media includes Drunk History, WTF Podcast with The Amazing Johnathan, Graham Hancock's banned Ted talk, and Pauly’s upcoming novel Fried Peaches.

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Also, check out other Inside Dope posts, which give you a behind the scenes look at the development of each episode.

Quick links: Dope Archives | Twitter | Donate | Soundcloud | Subscribe iTunes | RSS

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Magic Mountains and Tangerine Bubbles

New York City

The ornate bubbles glowed. The incandescent bowl illuminated the darkness. Dream-like, yet somber. Sultry and wispy, yet sullen.

Hypnotic dripping pipes pierced the night time sounds and drowned out a low-fi Latin rumba from down the hall, hissing radiators in the stairwell, clanging gears of ancient elevators, rumbling subways, early morning sanitation trucks, and the screeching halt of gypsy cabs on Broadway.

Eerie church organ echoed in the near distance. Maybe the church doors were open. Maybe it was one of those open-air tourist buses driving through the neighborhood and cranking the organ sounds. I imagined a flatbed truck and old widow from Birmingham with flea bites on her ankles whaling away on a church organ in the back of the truck, while chain smoking like Tom Waits on a Tuesday afternoon.

You never know which relic of the past thirty years will present itself at any given moment. Chance encounters are fickle affairs. You can never prepare yourself for a casual stroll through the mental ward inside the hallways of your mind. Awkward "bump intos" in the middle of a crosswalk. Or in line at the deli. Or waiting for the elevator. Or being flagged down by the mousey woman with the glass eye. Unsuccessfully navigated a conversation with the uneasiness of a wayward stripper who was forced to give up the pole in exchange for a so-called pious life as a born-again.

Addiction swapping is a dangerous enterprise, but no one had OD'd on Jesus... yet.

That's the most dreadful part about wandering the streets of the old neighborhood. Bad enough you're ambushed by ghosts and shrapnel bursts of memories. Blasted by fragmented clips of the past. Black and white. And technicolor. None of them have any chronological order. They just appear and disappear. Jolts of light and tsunami of memories.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

End of the Ebbs to the Philosophical Flow

New York City

Ebbs and flows. More ebbs than flows.

This space used to resemble a raging flow with the occasional ebb tossed in out of sure exhaustion. At its peak, the flow was insurmountable. Like the metamorphosis of a stream in the mountains during the spring thaw that's transformed into a raging river as the winter season's snow and ice finally wilts under the baking sun and the water runs everywhere... wherever it wants.

But over the last few years, the water has been dammed up. Plenty of reasons. Mostly excuses. But I built lots of dams. Some of them were not even mine. Yet as they say, the water used to run through my property. Some shysters dammed it up and made sure I didn't get any more run off. I'm starting to sound like Jake in Chinatown.

I know what it's like to be an addict that is jonesin' for a hit. Any hit. If you're reading this, then you're the last of the Mohicans. A true junkie's junkie. The dope here? Shit. Cut so many dimes it's like snorting baby powder. It has been barely a trickle... at best. It's like scraping the inside of your bong and hoping to get stoned off the gunk. It's hopeless and sad, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

The word river nearly evaporated. Like the so-called Los Angeles river that's invisible. You've seen the viaduct in movies (most notably Terminator 2) but SoCal is in the middle of its worst drought in decades, so there's not even a tiny trickle of water down there. Sure, it gets wet when it rains, but it rarely ever rains. And when it does rain, the droplets are vacant. Dry drops. Like a shell of a drop without any actual H20 in it.

It's parched. Empty. The cracks are showing.

But it only takes one swift kick in the dam to punch a hole in one side. Then the laws of physics take over. The pressure is immense. The whole fucker is ready to blow. But we have to be careful, otherwise we drown everything below. It's a parched valley. Desperate for any semblance of wetness.

I'm ready. And I got the hose. I lost it. Can't figure out if it lost itself, or I forgot where it was located, or if I purposely lost it. Combination of all of those self-loathing excuses marinating in self-pity. It is what it is.

I hope someday to say, it was what it was.

Big difference between is and was. Present vs. Past. The past almost always wins. Or it's the anxiety of the future. That's the root of all depression. Anger/resentment of the past + anxiety/fear of the future. It paralyzes the now. You can only live in the present. The future doesn't actually exist. All that exists is the now. Even the past is not a tangible thing. If anything, it's a series of jagged memories, many of which have been tweaked. Revisionist history. Besides, our feelings and emotions hinder the filter from which we see reality. That's why some people are a pain in the ass and will never change.

A complete immersion of love/hate and hate/love is dangerous. All you have to do is blink and you can see millions of hate mongers. Consumed by hate, paranoid by fear. One of my friends said the other night that "Hate is taught." He's a wise man and 110% correct. So as those dope-smoking hippies once sung in a three-piece harmony... "Teach your children well."

On the flip side, deep, penetrating love of thyself is just as infuriating. Just take a peek on Facebook and you'll see hundreds of people in love with... themselves.... but we all know it's bullshit, because it's not even the real them. Nope. It's millions of acquaintances pretending to be perfect and out-perfect their fake-friends. It's the vapid, PR-glossy version of their resume. Doesn't having a FB account go against one of the Ten Commandments? The one about carving idols and worshiping that instead of God?

Or it's the opposite and it's a self-pity party when everyone is invited. It's the best day of your life, or the worst day. Nothing in between. The extremes. Social media has been hijacked by the extremes, which is why it's difficult to find meaningful and inspiring notions. It's there...but it's buried underneath thousands and thousands of miles of rubbish.

Native Americans had it right. They refused to be photographed. A photographed image supposedly steals their soul. It's ironic, yet truthful. Some of the most soulless people I know take the most selfies.

The same applies to the written word when it's fulfills a role other than providing necessary information. Yet, even all those self-indulgent words don't add up to a portrait. Nope. It's deeper. Refined. Complex. Rooted. Like a chiseled sculpture. It might not steal your soul, but it's an idol nonetheless.

Idol worship. The most disturbed ones need an omnipotent being to explain unexplained answers. Or a foil to fight against. Hitchens said it best... philosophy begins where religion ends.

Friday, December 26, 2014

New Kindle or iPad or SmartPhone? Buy My E-Books!

New York City

Congrats on surviving the holidays, whether it was Christmas or Chanukah or both

Did you acquire an iPad, Kindle, iPhone, tablet, or smartphone? If so, then here's your chance to buy digital copies of my books. Even if you don't have a Kindle, you can download a Kindle app for your smart device.

The e-book version of Lost Vegas is only a few clicks away. It's a memoir (of sorts) spanning four years as a poker reporter in Las Vegas (2005-2008) during the height of the online poker boom.

Click here to buy Lost Vegas for Kindle and iPads.

Click here to buy a print copy of Lost Vegas on

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Do you like raunchy fiction? Indulge yourself with 100% pure Americana trash with an e-book Kindle version of Jack Tripper Stole My Dog.

Thanks for the support. Hopefully, I'll have a new novel to pimp sometime in Spring/Summer 2015.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas 2014 and the Annual Re-Reading of Augie Wren's Christmas Story

New York City

I'm not someone who lusts for tradition, but every Christmas morning I do the same thing... rub one out in the shower. The second thing I do is re-read Auggie Wren's Christmas Story.

If that sounds familiar, it's because I pimp it every December 25th. Or you might have heard the monologue via the Brooklyn-centric film Smoke (directed by Wayne Wang).

And many Christmas blessings to you and your consumer-addled family members!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

RIP Joe Cocker

New York City

How is Joe Cocker not in the rock n roll Hall of Fame?

Here's his cover of The Letter...

Monday, December 22, 2014

Moving Matter: Live in Austin 12/19/14

New York City

My bud Chris shared this video with me. His band, Moving Matter, had a gig in Austin over the weekend. Here's a little taste of Bond & Coke Dealer.

The world needs more Moving Matter shows.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

James Franco and Seth Rogan Interviewed by Howard Stern

Los Angeles, CA

The Interview drama is heating up. Seth Rogan and James Franco's silly movie has become a casualty of censorship. Great interview conducted by Howard Stern on 12/15/14.

I'm not sold on the official story about North Korea. My take: Sony got Snowden'd by disgruntled former employees and they are saving face by throwing North Korea under the bus. When someone kicks over a rock, plenty of shady entities pop up.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Writing Music: Ege Bamyasi by Can

New Orleans, LA

Today's writing music is nothing but Krautrock. The band CAN. They were an early 70s art rock band from Germany that was drenched in psychedelia. They are one of Paul Thomas Anderson's favorite bands, which is why their songs often pop up in his films.

I turned my bud Chris (bass player from Moving Matter) onto CAN and he was blown away that he had never heard of them before and was missing out on them all of these years.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Jack Tripper Flashbacks: Trailer, Book Review, and Podcast

Los Angeles, CA

Help support indie writers and buy one of my books this holiday season. Either will make a great stocking stuffer. Or if you happen to acquire a Kindle for Christmas, then pick up one of my e-books as well.
Buy... Jack Tripper Stole My Dog
Buy... Lost Vegas

In addition, here are a few things for Jack Tripper Stole My Dog (aka JTSMD) that you probably saw before, but I'm posting it again for new readers.

The "trailer" for JTSMD...

This is a podcast that I recorded with Nicky in 2011. She sort of interviewed me and inquired about the origins of JTSMD...

And here is the infamous review that someone randomly uploaded to YouTube....

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Writing Music: A Love Supreme

Los Angeles, CA

Has it really been 50 years?

John Coltrane is timeless. But you already know that.

This morning's writing music has been A Love Supreme. On repeat. This is one of Coltrane's masterpieces, which he penned in 1964 and recorded exactly 50 years ago today at Van Gelder's home studio in the New Jersey burbs. Coltrane's quartet for that particular session included Elvin Jones on drums, McCoy Tyner on piano and Jim Garrison on bass (who shared a name with the infamous DA in New Orleans).

A Love Supreme was not released until February 1965, but twenty plus years ago Schanzer gave me my first copy when we were in college in Atlanta. He dubbed me a cassette tape. I wore it out and have no idea where it found its final resting place. I finally bought A Love Supreme on CD when I lived in Seattle in the late 90s. I still have that copy somewhere in storage at my mom's apartment.

A Love Supreme is one of those desert island albums. It's something I listen to frequently in various mixes labeled "writing music." When I'm burning daylight and under the gun of a looming deadline, I'll often pop in Coltrane and he'll be blowing away as I stumble toward the finish line.

Heavy rotations of Coltrane are sprinkled throughout different junctures over the last two decades... road trips, self-pity trips, cocktail parties, writing assignments, wandering streets of London or Amsterdam or driving through bat country from LA to Vegas. Coltrane penned a universal soundtrack that marked many highlights and pulled me out of the doldrums during the lowest of the lowlights.

100 years from now, people will still be listening to Coltrane's music. He achieved immortality. That makes me feel like there is a glimmer of hope in this bleak world. Art is timeless. Amazing music that tickles the soul is universal. Coltrane's inspiration transcends time and space.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Graham Hancock on Joe Rogan

Los Angeles, CA

Graham Hancock appeared on the Joe Rogan Experience. This interview occurred two months ago, but I finally got around to listening to it.

Hancock is the author of one of my favorite books: Fingerprints of the Gods.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Dinner for Five with Marty

Los Angeles, CA

I miss this series. Dinner for Five hosted by Jon Favreau. He would invite four random entertainers to a meal and swap stories while they filmed. In a departure for the original format, he's a one-on-one conversation with Martin Scorsese.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Nirvana Snark

Los Angeles, CA

Interview with Nirvana. Krist reminds lazy teenagers that more Americans smoke pot than voted for George Bush. Kurt explains how he plays catch with the audience. And Grohl says buy nitrous.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Grateful Dead France 1971

Los Angeles, CA

G-Money pointed out this rare show from June 1971 at a Chateau in France. This overlooked gig occurred the year before the infamous Europe 72 tour.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Tweedy - Lil Desk Concert

Los Angeles, CA

Jeff Tweedy and his son Spencer visited the NPR music offices in September and put on a lil show...

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Painting the Slums of Brazil

Los Angeles, CA

Great TEDtalk about two painters who wanted to help transform rundown communities in Brazil and Philadelphia.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Vegas Podcast: All 11 Episodes of the Wook Vegas Wook Patrol Podcast

Las Vegas, NV

The Joker and I co-host a podcast for CoventryMusic. Like most of the creative things that drift in and out of my life, I gave it a silly title based on an even sillier inside joke because I figured no one would hear it aside from me and the Joker and our friends. Along the way, more and more people started tuning in and it became one of those underground hits. I love the punk-rock DIY guerrilla nature of the podcast with zero production value. Quickie episodes. Hit-and-run. Roughly the same length of a radio song. Episodes are usually 3-5 minutes. Tons of fun to record.

So that's how the Wook Patrol podcast was born. We had no idea we'd even post the first episode, yet five years later we cranked out almost 100 with different friends of ours, which we recorded live all over the country while we followed Phish or attended music festivals. (FYI... here's quick links to old episodes archives: 2010 Summer & Fall Tour - 2013 Summer.)

After a lengthy hiatus, the Joker and I returned for a series of quick episodes (longest was under 6 minutes) with our friends during Phish's Halloween run in Las Vegas. Guests for this batch include Nicky (aka Change100), RambleOnRose, BTreotch, Wildo, Sean W, Doctor Scotch and Butters.

Here is the quick link for the entire playlist of Wook Vegas episodes.

Wook Vegas 2014 Episodes

Episode 01: Halloween Costumes with Change100.... Pauly asks Change100 to describe some of the Halloween costumes she saw at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas before the Phish Halloween show.

Episode 02:The Joker's Fox Costumes.... Pauly asks the Joker to explain his costume from the Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Episode 03: Phish Ditka with Wildo and Butters.... Wildo had the best costume out of the Coventry Crew when he dressed up like coach Mike Ditka.

Episode 04: Amish Girls and the Unabomber with Sean... At setbreak of Halloween, Pauly asks Sean to describe an Amish girl's costume. Also, Sean dressed up as the Unabomber and a local TV crew actually thought he was the professional poker player known as The Unabomber

Episode 05: Btreotch at Haunted House Setbreak with BTreotch... Pauly chats with BTreotch to get his initial impressions of Phish's Halloween cover set of the Disney album The Haunted House.

Episode 06: Haunted House Impressions with Change100... Pauly was too spun to talk at setbreak, but Change100 had some things to say about Phish's Halloween set, in which they covered Disney's "Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House."

Episode 07: Doctor Scotch's Symmetry Thoughts... After the Halloween Phish show, Pauly chats with Dr. Scotch to get his impressions of the evening including the Esther farts and symmetry.

Episode 08: Adopt A Wook with Change100 and Rose... Pauly asks the Joker and Rose about their Adopt-A-Wook process. Meanwhile, Change100 reads over their adoption papers.

Episode 09: Break Up Songs and Phishy Tinder with Sean and Change100... Setbreak during the Saturday night Phish show in Las Vegas, and Pauly chats with Sean and Change100. They try to explain the mellow first set that included several songs that featured "break up or cheating themes."

Episode 10: The Joker Defends His Seat... Joker tells Pauly about his awkward seating situation during the Saturday night Phish concert in Vegas.

Episode 11: BTreotch, Austin 98, and Pauly Tests the Unknown Baggie... Pauly catches up with BTreotch after the Saturday Phish show, which reminded BTreotch of his first show at Austin, Texas in 1998. Also, earlier in the weekend, Pauly volunteered to test an unknown powder inside a baggie (groundscored from Dicks) that no one knew its exact contents, but presumed contained a molly-like substance.
Quick link to playlist of all 11 episodes of Wook Vegas.

You can listen to all of the episodes in a row via the player...

Monday, November 03, 2014

Instant Classic Podcast: Adopt A Wook

Las Vegas, NV

My friends from the @CoventryMusic crew have a podcast called Wook Patrol. We haven't been doing episodes much this year. In fact, the Joker and I only recorded one episode all summer. But, the hiatus is over! We recorded a dozen mini-episodes (all under 6 mins) including something titled "Adopt A Wook." Without a doubt, this episode was by far my favorite of the bunch and it ranks among my all-time favorite pods (and this includes older episodes of Wook Patrol, Dope Stories and Tao of Pokerati). Yes, the Adopt A Wook episode became an instant classic.

Joker and his wife decided to Adopt not one but two wooks. Nicky read over their paperwork while I interviewed them for this episode of WOOK PATROL podcast.

Listen here:

Listen to all of the Wook Patrol Podcast 2014 Halloween episodes here.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Another Vegas Pic Dump

Las Vegas, NV

Here's another batch of pics from Vegas after Phish invaded Sin City for three nights of mayhem...

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Halloween Vegas Pic Dump

Las Vegas, NV

I'm in Vegas for a long weekend. Phish invaded for Halloween. Here's some random pics that popped up on Instagram (@taopauly and @CoventryMusic)....

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

SF Phish Fried

San Francisco, CA

I wrote a couple of quickie recaps of two Phish concerts in San Francisco. Check out Night 1 and Night 2.

Edit: And here's Night 3.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

John Lennon on Dick Cavett

Los Angeles, CA

John Lennon was born on October 9th.

One of my favorite interviews. Lennon and Yoko Ono chain-smoking on the Dick Cavett show in September 1971...

At the 20-minute mark, Cavett and John and Yoko discuss the break-up of the Beatles, which officially happened in April 1970, or a year and a half earlier.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Kutiman Video: Give It Up Featuring 23 YouTuber Musicians

Los Angeles, CA

Chris Lindsy tipped me off to this gem of a video that is comprised of 23 live musical (at-home) performances from other YouTubers...

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Saturday Night Tunes: Ladies Night with Change100

Los Angeles, CA

After a two-week hiatus, Nicky is spinning tunes again. Saturday Night is Ladies Night! Listen live starting Midnight ET or 10pm Colorado time:

Monday, September 08, 2014

Travel Day Soundtrack: Home by LCD Soundsystem

Charlotte, NC

I survived Lockn festival in Nelson County, Virginia.

Another Travel Day for me: 4.5 hour drive + 4.5 hour flight.

After two weeks on the road, cue the accompanying soundtrack...

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Lockn Food Pic Dump

Nelson Country, VA

I ate very well the last few days thanks to the Kentucky crew. I missed Southern grub. Well fed all weekend thanks to our hosts on Wintergreen Mountain, Susan and Andrew.

I spent several days in Nelson Country and sampled the local BBQ joint (Blue Ridge), which was a modest and humble shack on the side of the road, but it's a meal I'm gonna be thinking about for a long time. Festival food is always overprices, but the local booths at the LOCKN festival in Arrington, VA delivered with delicious foodstuffs. I developed an addiction to the jalapeno and cheddar hush puppies that will be tough to kick...

Monday, August 25, 2014

Marge Simpson Melting Walls

Los Angeles, CA

I blew it. I shoulda pitched Vice, or a far-out media outlet somewhere a potential mini-series about a moronic writer (ahem, me) who dove deep into the The Simpsons mega-12-day marathon and ate a ton of Adderall and foolishly stayed up for as many days in the row as possible before going schizo and passing out cold on the toilet, face down ass up just like the muthafucking King... Elvis.

But I blew it, never followed through. 

Alas, I'm somewhat on the fringe of The Simpsons marathon on FXX. I think we are a couple days in and it's been on nonstop in the living room. Day and night. Night and Day. I tune in for an episode every few hours. 3am when I can't sleep. 8pm when I'm done with work. 8am when I should be working.

I forgot about the LSD in the water system episode when Marge starts tripping balls!

Monday, August 11, 2014

RIP Robin Williams

Los Angeles, CA

Robin Williams... gone too soon.

Marc Maron replayed his WTF podcast interview with Robin Williams from 2010.

Here's the Playboy Interview with Robin Williams circa 1992.

Here's Williams in one of my favorite scenes from John Irving's The World According to Garp...

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Inside Dope: Behind the Scenes of the LAST and FINAL Episode of DopeStories [Ep. 27 - This Is The End]

Los Angeles, CA

Sometimes you have to pull the plug. But, sometimes you have to pull the plug early when things are going good, before things get really bad.

I hate to use a poker metaphor here, but we're cashing out while we're ahead. After 27 episodes (and one special episode of Broke Stories), we're officially pulling the plug on Dope Stories podcast.

But why? The short answer: Money, time, and professionalism.

Shane explained more in his post Dope Stories Denouement.

We both want to continue with Dope Stories, but last month we reached a crossroads. In order to continue for the rest of 2014, we needed a huge influx of capital, which we could get from a major crowdfunding campaign. But that would require us to pester y'all for money. Like really pester y'all. Spam your inboxes. Be annoying on Twitter. Yadda yadda yadda. It's easy to say, "Just Kickstarter it!" Sure, all of our friends suggested that route, but we all know that after a week or so, everyone can't wait for the Kickstarter campaign to end so we'll stop spamming and pestering them. Yes, Kickstarter works in theory... but in reality, it's a major pain in the ass with zero guarantees of working.

Look, media consumers rarely pay for content. It's the way the world works right now. We didn't get into Dope Stories for the money. It was truly a labor of love. I didn't get paid a cent. Neither did Shane. Except, Shane shelled out at least one buy-in to the WSOP Main Event in order to launch Dope Stories and keep the podcast on the air for a half a year.

Jeez, we were slightly uncomfortable asking for donations as is via PayPal, but we were really squeamish about launching a Kickstarter or something similar.  The two biggest concerns were... 1) only small percentage of listeners will actually donate, and 2) if we ask for a lot of money and miraculously get it, then we really have to deliver on a second batch of episodes... I mean, really deliver. No time for filler... every episode had to be killer and have a well-known guest. That was the uphill battle that we thought we were ready to fight, but in all honesty, we did not think we could pull it off. It was a struggle just to keep our heads above water and provide weekly content... we knew it was going to be a near-impossible task to pull off another 26 episodes, let alone kick-ass ones.

To clarify... we didn't think we could get close to raising the necessary funds to continue. But if we somehow managed to get the money, we did not think we could consistently provide great episodes. It's one thing to give away a meh episode for free... it's a whole other thing if someone paid for that meh-ness.

I've been on the front lines of the art vs. commerce war for two decades. It's always a bloody mess. Whenever money enters the equation, shit gets fucked up. My biggest concern was the direction of the podcast... we maintained a sense of purity and integrity by 100% controlling out artistic vision by producing the shows we wanted to talk about. But once money starts flowing in from external sources... either via advertisers, patrons, or crowdfunding... things get weirdly complicated and you immediately lose control because the people holding the money strings are always looming overhead. All of a sudden every artistic decision is really disguised as a money decision. You become dependent on the funding, which comes with a hidden cost because you're also getting artistically castrated. Once you start worrying about upsetting the audience or pissing off the money people... then you stop taking chances and lose your prime directive. That's when your artistic vision gets hijacked. I've been in that unsettling position more times that I can count in the last decade. When you're on the wrong side of art/commerce battle lines, it is a miserable and insufferable existence. We didn't want to get dragged into that quagmire, so we opted out of the battlefield.

So while things were great, we decided to end things now before things got really ugly and we lost artistic control by bringing in advertisers (which were extremely difficult to find, even with legal weed in Colorado and Washington state). I'm sure the climate will be much cooler in the future (with more tolerance and push toward national legalization), but at the present moment we hit a brick wall to trying to develop relationships with long-term advertisers that had cash to give us (instead of merchandise and vapor pens). As we anticipated, normal companies and business wanted to be nowhere near us and associated with a "drug" podcast. But we didn't expect a huge difficulty factor in trying to attract pot-associated businesses, who were also reluctant to get involved. I really don't blame them either. With rare exceptions, podcasting is impossible to monetize. Shit, anything creative is impossible to monetize.

The stigma of a "drug podcast" is what also made it difficult to book guests. We had plenty of interest from potential guests, but a few got gunshy. The few that came on? They were awesome. But for the folks who got scared off at the last moment, I don't blame them. But it was just a part of doing business. Unless we could overcome that stigma of being a drug podcast, it difficult to truly have a rational discussion about drug use, especially in a country that is ruled by fear mongers.

It's essential to be ahead of the curve... and we were. But Dope Stories was still a too far ahead of the curve. We debated whether or not it was worth holding out until the rest of the curve caught up to us, but that would have been a costly decision.

Shane wrestled with one of the most difficult decisions of his life... to end Dope Stories after 27 episodes. He funded this entire adventure by himself, which included startup capital to purchase the equipment, website/hosting, and some consulting fees to help us get off and running. Each episode was not cheap. Shane had to shell out somewhere around $250 per week to cover production costs. Yes, Dope Stories was not a cheap podcast to produce, but we wanted to work with one of the best producers in the business, DJ Trent.

Even if we were able to reduce production costs, we were still in the hole. Big time. Donations only covered about 10% of total production costs. We could have hired a cheaper producer, but we were concerned that the overall sound quality would be compromised.

We both wanted to continue. For the record, I did not want to quit and tried to find some middle ground. I initially suggested that we take a break for a few months and end season 1 of Dope Stories and during the hiatus we'd launch a crowdfunding campaign for Season 2. However, for the reasons I stated earlier, even if we got the money, did we have what it takes to really pull off a better season 2? That's when self-doubt creeps and once that fucker sets up shop, he's impossible to shake loose.

It's fiscally wise to stop now at 27 episodes before we went deeper into debt. Sucks to stop after a half of year of episodes, but these episodes don't magically produce themselves. It requires a significant amount of time and money. Shane's out of money and I'm out of time. But even if we were able to alleviate our financial constraints, we'd still have to face scheduling issues for the last quarter of 2014. Life gets in the way of art, and in this instance, I have a book to finish editing and a couple of big trips on the horizon. If we continued for the rest of 2014, then we'd have to scramble and record several canned episodes and do call-in shows from the road via Skype, in which audio is always compromised and there's always some sort of technical issue.

Yep, we found out the hard way... producing an original hour-long weekly show was more than we could handle. We bit off more than we could chew. Now, I know why Hollywood schedule shows for 26 episodes (or 13-episode seasons on cable) and even those are spread out over seven or even eight months of production.

We probably will do a one-off episode in the future, but for now Dope Stories is dunzo as a weekly format every Thursday. We cranked out 27 episodes (plus a bonus episode - Broke Stories - on April Fools Day), which is truly an amazing feat. So many people in LA talk shit about projects they're gonna do, but very few people have the balls to try to pull it off.

Kudos to Shane for have gigantic balls and for putting himself out there. He took a ton of guff for being honest, which was insanely inspiring. Shane stopped by my office once a week to have an open, raw, and brutally honest discussion about drugs in our lives and in society. We never backed down from the moment we turned on the microphones until this final moment. It was tons of fun and I'm gonna miss our weekly discussions.

Time for some thanks...

Thanks to our donors. Y'all rock. We probably would have ended the podcast around Memorial Day if it weren't for a small group of you who helped keep us afloat the last month. And special thanks to a guy named Sonny for a super generous donation. I will be discrete and I will not name all of our donors, but you know who you are, and I'm eternally grateful.

Thanks to our listeners. Without you, it's just me and Shane sitting in my office talking to each other about drugs. Our initial goal was to be "two dudes in a room talking" but thanks for taking an hour out of your week to listen to us ramble on.

Many thanks to friends and family for their support. Due to the sensitive nature of the podcast, I totally understand why many of you did not vocalize your support by publicly sharing us/liking us via social media. The entire point of Dope Stories was an attempt to break down those antiquated stigmas so you could 'like' a drug podcast without being judged, but unfortunately, we still live in a time when petty stuff like that matters to judgmental people. But to the silent majority... thank you for your support behind closed doors.

Special thanks to any of my friends that I mentioned in various stories on the podcast.... I left out your names to protect your identity, but I sincerely thank you for being a part of the wacky adventures.

Extra-special thanks goes out to our significant others.... Shane's wife Shelia and my girlfriend... for putting up with this crazy idea and giving us advice when we needed it the most.

Thanks to all of our guests... Dr. Carl Hart, Greg Merson, Jordan Morgan, Sean Azzariti, my girlfriend, and the duo from High Maintenance -- Ben Sinclair and Katja Blichfeld. To all of our guests who were in line to get interviewed... my deepest and sincerest apologies. I'm sorry we quit before we had time to chat.

Thanks to our producer, DJ Trent, for making us sound awesome. Sincere honor to work with someone of his caliber. Seriously, he's great and he really DJs weddings. Hire him. You won't be disappointed.

Without a doubt, special thanks goes out to Shane for following through on his vision. He funded this entire operation on his own and I'm grateful he invited me along on this wild ride. This is one of the coolest things I've ever done... creatively or otherwise... so thanks for conceiving Dope Stories.

* * * *
So about Episode 27 - This Is The End....

We spent the first segment explaining why we're ending the run. We also spent some time reminiscing about our favorite moments from the show. We actually had a regular segment on the New York Times Op/Ed on why it's time to legalize marijuana. Since it was the final episode and the last chance to tell a story, I decided to reveal the one and only time I dropped acid during the WSOP. It happened to be one of the craziest days of the summer... the day Phil Hellmuth dressed up like Julius Caesar (which I wrote about on Tao of Poker in an entry titled Welcome to the Psychedelic Circus. Our final Dope Media picks included.... Drunken History, WTF podcat with Amazing Johnathan, Graham Hancock's banned TedTalk, and all of my books including upcoming novel Fried Peaches.

And here's the setlist for Episode 27...

Listen/stream the final episode....

Download link for Episode 27.

Subscribe to Dope Stories on iTunes.

Listen to previous shows with full description of every episode... DOPE STORIES - EPISODE GUIDE.

Also, check out other Inside Dope posts, which give you a behind the scenes look at the development of each episode.

Here's Inside Dope for interviews we conducted...
Inside Dope - Ep 7: Greg Merson (WSOP Champion)
Inside Dope - Ep 8: Dr. Carl Hart
Inside Dope - Ep 11: Sean Azzariti
Inside Dope - Ep 16: Ben Sinclar and Katja Blichfeld from High Maintenance
Inside Dope - Ep 22: Jordan Morgan
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