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Posted by on Aug 3, 2012 in General Poker, Personal, Rants and Raves | 6 comments

Trip Report — I Hate Philadelphia (Part 3)

I Hate Philadelphia

 

IX:  PHILADELPHIA

 

I hate Philadelphia.  It’s Detroit — with one major difference.  There are actually people LIVING in Philadelphia.

Which begs a serious question, why the fuck would anyone want to LIVE in Philadelphia?

The first part of this blog will be an attempt to fill in that elusive blank with some kind of explanation.  Call it a Hail Mary of logic.

I always feel compelled to give some background to these rants.  I lived in the Northeast for ten years.  I visited Philadelphia at least 100 times, so I’m no stranger to the scene.  Ninety or so of those visits were passing through on the way to Atlantic City, but many occasions turned into what I can only describe as an anti-vacation vacation.

So, let’s play a little game, shall we?

Question: If I say a word, what word immediately comes into your mind?  What image immediately comes up when confronted with the word “Philadelphia?”  For instance, when one thinks of Denver, the rocky mountains come to mind.  When one thinks of St. Louis, maybe it’s the famous Gateway Arch.  With New Orleans, it’s probably the French Quarter.

My mental flash drive of Philadelphia pretty much is an crash dump of rusted out ship hulls, decaying half-empty warehouses, lead smelters, oil refineries, welfare cheats, and dark, dirty, cold impersonal streets littered with filth.

I know.  Stereotyping is wrong, except for when it just so happens to be dead on accurate.

And so, I arrive in this hellhole on a Tuesday night.  It’s 35 degrees, drizzling and getting dark, which seems like the ideal metaphoric mood for this miserable place.

From the outside, the so-called PHILADELPHIA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT looks EXACTLY like the new Aria (Las Vegas) — only if it were laying on it’s side.  The airport is a giant gray steel and glass structure — kind of a cross between some Orwellianesque stage set and what one imagines the headquarters to the Social Security Administration to look like.

I remind myself that this will be one of three times I will actually fly into Philadelphia within a six-month period — which is three times too many as far as I’m concerned.  I was here for two weeks back in December (nothing spoils the holiday spirit more than spending the Christmas preamble in weary action-starved Atlantic City).

What’s most astonishing is that some people actually take PRIDE in being from Philadelphia — which is sort of like admitting you were birthed out of the ass of a pit bull.  I know people can’t help WHERE they were born.  But show some fucking humility.  Listen.  No one is fucking impressed that you grew up where they filmed “Rocky” — correction.  Make that Rocky 1, Rocky 2, Rocky 3, Rocky 4, and Rocky 5 — or that you flunked out of Penn.  I mean this is a place where everyone in the city looks like Burt Young — and I’m talking about the females here.  You’ve got nothing to be fucking proud of.

When I meet someone from Philadelphia, here’s what I EXPECT to hear.  Takes notes:

“Hi! My name is Sal.  Even though I have lived most of my life in a filthy hellhole with scumbags, it hasn’t rubbed off on me (too much) and I’m actually a pretty decent guy….if you give me the chance.”

I’m reasonable.  I don’t judge.

That’s an introduction I can accept.  Someone who speaks truth, from the heart.

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Posted by on Aug 2, 2012 in Blog, General Poker, Personal | 0 comments

Trip Report — In Search of Black Tail (Part 2)

Florida Vacation

Marieta and Nolan visit a favorite restaurant in South Florida — “Michelle Bernstein’s,” located in Palm Beach.

 

V:  SINGER ISLAND — IN SEARCH OF BLACK TAIL

 

With Orlando mercifully in the rear-view mirror, it’s a two-hour drive south to West Palm Beach.  The game plan is to relax on the sandy beaches of the coast for a few days and then begin a two-week work assignment, when the WSOP Circuit starts in mid-February.

During my previous visits to the West Palm Beach area, we always stayed on Singer Island, which is an exclusive coastal causeway of ritzy hotels and condos located just north of the city.  It’s basically a giant retirement home for people with money.  The sad fact is, however — every time I’ve gone onto Singer Island since, there are at least a half a dozen construction cranes destroying what was once an uncrowded pristine beach, turning into another Miami.  Now, it’s pretty much wall to wall whitewashed high rises stacked along the ocean side, which makes me sad.

Unfortunately, the hotel prices have gotten so fucking ridiculous on Singer island that I can’t afford to stay there anymore.  In the past, it’s always been around$150 a night, for a four-star hotel on the beach.  Now, double that as the rack rate.  And that’s the rate for a room facing the street on the second floor over the loading dock.  It gets worse.  Now, these fucking hotels charge you EXTRA for — an ocean view, a pool view, parking, and a refrigerator.  Shameless thieves double the prices on the rooms and then try to double whack you with the extras.

During my preparations, I obsessed over a dozen websites looking for good hotel deals, to no avail.  My previous favorite was the Hilton Singer Island, which I always thought was a good deal and location during my four previous stays there.  This time, they wanted $279 a night plus tax, plus the extras.   I figured five nights meant about $1,500, which is way over budget.  So, I basically said SCREW THEM, and decided that Marieta and I would instead stay on Juno Beach, which is about four miles due north.

In short, Juno Island is NOW what Singer Island was ten years ago.  Which means the greedy bloodsucking developers are eventually going to skull fuck it to death over the next decade until they milk every dollar out of the sand.  Then, they’ll move on up to Jupiter, and so forth and so on.  That’s how the game works.  They call that “progress.”

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Posted by on Aug 1, 2012 in Blog, Personal, Picture 1, Travel | 1 comment

Bucharest 1989

 

Nolan Dalla just prior to the Romanian Revolution

This photo was taken in December 1989, just after the Romanian Revolution. I’m standing In front of Casa Republicii (House of the Republic) in Central Bucharest a short time after the fall of Nicolae Ceasescu. Casa Republicii, then under construction, was to be the new government center for the Romanian Communist Party. Ceausescu oversaw its construction personally, which essentially bankrupted the nation. It still stands as the world’s largest office building. But he never saw it completed. He was shot by a firing squad on Christmas Day in 1989.

Note to Readers:  Thanks for coming and visiting my site.  This week, I’m playing in several poker events here in Las Vegas (BARGE 2012).  Accordingly, I’ll be posting an unpublished series of trip reports from earlier this year.  Next week, I’ll begin a new series on the events that led up to the 1989 Romanian Revolution and the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe.  This will be the first time I have shared my experiences of living in Romania during this period.  I’ll also be posting many photographs, which have not been seen publicly.  Over the next month, look for commentary on politics, religion, and just about any topic this happens to pop into my twisted mind that day.

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Posted by on Aug 1, 2012 in General Poker, Personal | 0 comments

Trip Report — Confessions of a Twisted Mind (Part 1)

Singer Island in Florida

 

I.  ORLANDO, FLORIDA

 

I am not making this up.

Each and every time I must endure a trip to Florida, I’m reminded of the musings of writer Dave Barry.

Barry is (in)famous for his witty non-stop Florida-bashing.  Since Barry actually resides in South Florida, he gets away with offending just about everyone in the Sunshine State.  For two decades, Barry was a writer for The Miami Herald, penning a masterful column that was eventually nationally syndicated.  Barry’s writings were routinely infused with humor at the expense of all the gator-skinned sun-baked Floridians — which he characterizes as doddering elderly, angry Cuban exiles, and crazed dope dealers all entwined in chaotic bliss.  Okay, so actually that’s *my* characterization — not his.

I suspect that Barry got away with much of what he wrote largely because he’s one of “them.”  It’s sort of like a family, or a fraternity, or a minority group.  You can’t criticize and be funny at anyone’s expense without actually being a member of the crazy family.

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Posted by on Jul 30, 2012 in Blog, Essays, Personal, What's Left | 0 comments

Hitting Life’s Reset Button

Life's Reset Button

 

If you could go back and live your life all over again, would you?

I suppose most of us would answer – it depends.

Let’s say you could turn back the clock  and relive your life with the benefit of all the knowledge you now possess.  Given the inherent wonders of knowing what the future would bring, most of us would agree to a replay.  Let’s say you could go back to 1969 and bet on the New York Jets or take full advantage of MicroSoft’s 1986 IPO, you’d be very wealthy indeed.

Then there is the “Dead Zone” prospect of going back and purposefully changing the future.  For instance, who among us would not feel compelled to try and alter the terrible course of events which occurred on September 11, 2001?

But what about going back in time and facing utter uncertainty?  Would you choose to live your life over again and then be willing to accept the consequences if things were to turn out very differently?

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