Monday, July 17, 2006

Poker, Booze and Memories

PokerStars and FullTiltPoker each had a big WSOP Main Event satellite yesterday. Pokerstars' 150 seat guarantee ended up drawing a staggering 7377 players at $370 each, which resulted in an incredible 234 Main Event packages ($12k value). Fulltilt's 100 seat guarantee attracted 3050 players at $535 each, which was good for 127 Main Event packages ($12k value). Unfortunately, I didn't play in either of these satellites.

Last Friday night me and Dan drank heavily in preparation for the dual-billed Bob Weir & Rat Dog with String Cheese Incident show at Radio City Music hall. When we arrived, as Weir was already blazing into Casey Jones, we proceeded to abolish any trace of sobriety either of us had a whiff of. I've never been a big Dead-head, although I am a fan of many of the jam band era torch carriers: Phish, String Cheese Incident, Deep Banana Blackout, etc. Although I had definitely come to see String Cheese, I thoroughly enjoyed Weir's set. Radio City is without a doubt the best mid-capacity venue I've ever been to. The concourse area is unrivalled, and the interior is incredible: wide open and immaculate.

For some reason, although alcohol (I was drinking various machinations of vodka) is a short term memory eraser, I find it to be a long term memory enhancer. As Weir jammed into Sugaree, I had a flash memory of my mom dancing to the song and singing along. I drunk dialed Mom, who got the false impression that my life is much more glamorous than it seems, and that this concert is a much bigger deal than it actually is. Some random drunk dude walking by wanted to talk to her, so I handed him my cell phone in true jam band spirit and laughed as I imagined my mom on the other end of the line wondering what the fuck was going on.

I called my boy Leeroy, as I knew he'd rather be at the show than up in Boston with his girlfriend, but he didn't answer. When Weir ripped into my alltime favorite Dead song, Throwing Stones, I had a flashback to 1993, when I first heard the song in my best friend Greeny's Toyota 4-runner. "Remember that fucked up compass that showed the horizontal balance level of the car?" I called him and asked him, "That was completely useless, but that's what I think about when I hear this song - 1993 in the red Toyota 4-runner, cruising around Needham." Greeny appreciated the memory and laughed, as I jammy-danced around Radio City.

When Weir's set ended, and a group of 4 kids sat down behind us, looking like they couldn't have been a day over 16 at MOST, and took out their barrage of mind altering substances, I immediately thought of my boy Ara, and hit him up on the cell. Ara is my one friend who has a huge penchant for exaggeration, yet at the same time, any story he tells you is likely to be completely true. I remember a party at his apartment on Pratt Street when we were both in college in Boston. It was New Years Eve 1996, and every time I get the spins (you know - where the room starts spinning when you close your eyes?) from drinking too much I'm instantly transported back to the floor of Ara's bedroom, where I had passed out with a vicious, yet thoroughly enjoyable case of the spins. Back in 1996, the spins meant I was drunk - in 2006 the spins mean I better think carefully about how I'm going to avoid puking. So on NYE 1996, Ara comes into the bedroom at 4am, ranting about a brawl and a fight and blabbering like he was under the influence of a plethora of class D substances. Knowing he's one to stretch the truth, I stirred briefly from my alcohol coma, and told him "yeah, uh huh, sure... ok. see you in the morning."

When I woke up in the morning, Ara took me out into the snow covered street, and my jaw dropped as I saw crimson blood stains paving the way. "What the fuck happened?" I asked him. "I told you. Some kid tried to steal a handle of my gin. So we threw down." "What? Are you fucking crazy? The street is covered with blood!" Ara grinned, and laughed: "I told you my roommates and I are not to be messed with." Basically, it was the original "Do you know who the fuck I am?" moment, and every time I drink till the room spins it comes back to me like yesterday.

Anyway, all of this happened before String Cheese Incident even took the stage and whipped Radio City into a frenzy of awkwardly dancing young white kids on mind-altering drugs. I'd write more about SCI's set, but to be honest, it was all a blur, ending with a perfectly Floyd-esque "Shine on You Crazy Diamond," dedicated to Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett. For just one night I felt like Dr. Pauly.

good times...


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