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Players Television Network — Looking Back on the Life of Stu Ungar

Posted by on Sep 12, 2012 in Blog, General Poker, Las Vegas, Video 1, World Series of Poker | 3 comments

Photo by Ulvis Alberts (1981)

 

Writer’s Note:   Last week, Stu Ungar would have celebrated his 59th birthday (Birthdate — September 8, 1953).

 

The short-lived Players Television Network debuted at the 2005 World Series of Poker.

I was asked to moderate two panel discussions, which were later broadcast via “On Demand.”  The first show was on the late great poker legend Stu Ungar.  The second show was a panel discussion about the business of online poker.

I wasn’t at all prepared to assume the role of moderator.  I recall leaving the rigors of my job at the WSOP for an hour our so, getting abruptly fitted with a microphone, and then walking out and taking a seat in front of a live studio audience and rolling television cameras with no script.

The good thing about the unrehearsed format is that everything was spontaneous.  The bad thing is the show could have been much crisper had I been prepared.  Looking back now, I certainly would have asked more penetrating questions than what appear here.

Fortunately, the four guests who appeared on the Stu Ungar segment were outstanding.  Madeline Ungar (Stuey’s former wife), Stefanie Ungar (Stuey’s Daughter), Larry Grossman (Las Vegas radio personality and gambling authority) and Peter Alson (writer and my co-author on Stuey’s biography “One of a Kind”) were all in top form.

In the coming weeks and months ahead, from time to time, I’ll be writing more about my personal recollections of Ungar — particularly during that tragic final year of his life when I spent the most time with him.  I look forward to telling some stories that were not included in the book which might interest poker fans.

In the meantime, here’s the panel discussion from 2005 that runs about 30 minutes in length.

 

 

 

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Remembering September 11, 2001 — At the Pentagon

Posted by on Sep 11, 2012 in Blog, Essays, Personal | 1 comment

 

 

Writer’s Note:  This marks the first time I’ve written about the events of September 11, 2001.  I resided at 1201 South Eads Street, located in the Crystal City section of Arlington, Virginia.  My ninth-floor residence at The Bennington overlooked the Pentagon.

 

The memory that still haunts me to this day is of a man whose name I do not know.

The morning after that horrible day, the man stood in solitude a few hundred feet away from the smoldering southwest side of the Pentagon.  He looked and he stared at the scene of horror.  The man appeared to be struggling to make sense of it all.  He seemed to be waiting for someone to return.

That man stood there all morning and all afternoon.  His eyes gazed into an empty chamber, where the façade of a formidable building had once stood.  Now, all that filled the void was a collapsed pile of rubble shielded by grey clouds of smoke rising ominously into the air.

The following day – 48 hours removed from the time of the tragedy – the man dutifully returned once again to the Pentagon.  He stood in the same spot where he had waited in vain during the previous day.  He continued to look and stare into the ashes.

The man was looking for his wife.

That shattered man waited and waited and waited for someone who would never return.

Still shocked by it all and in an utter state of disbelief, he held onto the only thing he had left –hope.  Indeed, hope was all that sustained him — the hope that by some miracle his wife would somehow be found safe beneath it all and somehow leap from the ashes and rush toward into his open arms.

That’s love.

That’s pain.

I remember seeing that man whose wife must have worked on one of the floors that was hit during the attack.  He certainly wasn’t alone in suffering a loss far beyond human comprehension.  His sad story was one of many sad stories – of good people who lost their husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, friends and colleagues.  All gone.

The image of that man staring into the smoke and waiting for his wife holding onto the faintest of hope is the memory I keep above all others from that terrible time in our history.

He’s unlikely to ever find the answer to the question he’s asked a thousand times.  Namely — why?

That’s an answer no one knows.

 

Balcony view from the 9th floor of The Bennington, before the attack

 

The first thing I remember from that gorgeous Tuesday morning was the sound of an explosion.

Such a disturbance wasn’t unusual.  After all, I lived in a congested city with several high rise apartment buildings surrounding the perch.  There was always lots of heavy traffic and the usual ambient noise of horns and sirens.  Washington National Airport was less than a mile away, emanating a steady hum of aircraft engines.  There were always accidents happening along I-395, the main artery for suburban Northern Virginian commuters who were headed into the District of Columbia, many of them were civil servants.

Yes, I heard the loud crash.  So what was my reaction?  I promptly rolled over and went back to bed.

A few minutes later, the telephone rang.  The alarm clock showed 8:55.

My worldview, indeed everyone’s worldview, was about to be jolted.

“Did you see what’s happening?” the voice said.

I recognized the voice instantly.  It was my wife, Marieta.  She was at work.

“What?  What are you talking about? I asked — barely conscious from my peaceful slumber.

“Turn on the TV!  Turn on the TV!  Do it now!”

I located the remote, pressed a button, and for the first time saw an indelible image that remains seared into my mind.

Most of us probably remember our reactions upon first seeing the World Trade Center towers on fire.  Disbelief.  Panic.  Terror.  Horror.  Sadness.  Anguish.

“What in the hell happened?” I asked.

“I don’t know — but there’s a report that something just happened at the Pentagon,” Marieta said.  “Can you glance outside and have a look?”

From the distance, the sky appeared to be clear.  But as I moved towards our sliding glass doors I began to see a haze.  Then, I caught sight of giant plumes of thick black smoke rising high into the air.  Doors opened, next, I heard the wailing sounds of sirens.  It seemed like hundreds of sirens.  Fire trucks and police cars roared by, all headed to the spot where, off in the distance, there was a concentration of smoke and fire.

The next minute or two was a blur.

The World Trade Center was in flames.  Not one tower, but both towers.  The Pentagon too was now burning.

I had been awake for perhaps five minutes.

I returned to the television and stood in front of the screen.  The image of New York’s burning towers was unchanged.

Then, it happened.

The announcer stopped what he was saying in mid-sentence.  The first tower began to collapse.

I’m not sure why — but the distress of seeing the Pentagon in flames just outside my door was not nearly the shock of watching that tall tower crumble to the ground.  My first reaction, quite frankly, was — the end of the world was here.

Seriously.

Perhaps in retrospect — that’s an absurd overreaction.  But that’s honestly what I felt at the time.  Our world was about to come to an end.  Maybe that’s just how shocking it  all was — seeing so many ghastly images within such a short time.  Our ability to make sense of things shuts down.  Logic abandons us.  We all become susceptible to panic.

Marieta too, speaking on the other end of the phone, saw the tower fall — first one and then two.  What was happening?   Were we all under attack?

Since my wife worked on Pennsylvania Avenue, just two blocks from the White House, she had a different perspective on things.  Word came that the White House and Old Executive Office Building were both being evacuated.  Presidential advisors were actually running out into the streets.  There was a rumor that another hijacked airplane was headed towards the White House.  A similar thing reportedly happened over on Capitol Hill.  All along Pennsylvania Avenue, people were flooding out of office buildings and spilling onto the busy boulevard.

Metro service abruptly stopped.  This suspension of subway trains meant tens of thousands of government workers from outside the District had no way of getting home.  Cell phone service also became a problem.  Cars were not allowed into the District.

Marieta and I continued to discuss the events of the day and quickly hatched out a plan.  We agreed that she should leave the building immediately and start walking from Pennsylvania Avenue towards the Lincoln Memorial, perhaps 20 blocks away.  It was agreed that I’d come and meet her on the District side of the Memorial Bridge, which is the span which crosses from Virginia into Washington, D.C.  I estimated that it would take us each about an hour walk the distance and meet.

I was about to get my first close-up look at the Pentagon.

 

 

I had no intention of bearing witness to what was going on at the Pentagon that day, terrible as those events were.  But the five-sided symbol of the most powerful military force in the history of the world stood smack dab between my current location and the Memorial Bridge.

And so by foot, off I went.

The Pentagon is normally an ultra-high-security area.  Aside from the mammoth-sized Pentagon bus depot and metro station, no one gets inside or anywhere near to the building unless they’re wearing a military uniform with lots of brass or have one of the government-issued IDs around their neck, festooned by a chain.

I had neither.

But that didn’t matter.

Once on the periphery of the Pentagon, skirting its northern corridor on foot, I was on the direct opposite side of the crash site.  Hundreds of military personnel — from every branch of the armed forces — were running around in panic.  Some were screaming orders to subordinates.  Secretaries and support workers sat in the grass.  The entire building of thousands of workers had been evacuated.  Many seemed to be setting up some kind of triage.  There were armed soldiers everywhere.  Majors, Colonels, and even Generals were a dime a dozen.  It was like a scene right out of a disaster movie.

I walked across the freshly-mowed green grass, over paved roads empty of traffic, stepping over curbs, until the muffled shouts of important men were far off in the distance.  Minutes later, I could no longer see the Pentagon from my vantage point.  But I could still see smoke in the air and smell its stench — a frightening reminder of death.  It was a surreal experience, walking through Lady Bird Johnson Park so full of flowers along the George Washington Memorial Parkway on such a beautiful day.  On any other say, this would have been a splendid experience.  But here I was perhaps a quarter mile away from the spot where hundreds of people had just lost their lives, headed towards the nation’s capital on foot, which could very well be under attack.

I walked on.  Further still.

Sometime later, I was standing on the east side of the Memorial Bridge, where I saw Marieta waiting faithfully.

The site of Marieta that day was something I will never forget.  I think she looked more beautiful at that instant than any other day I had seen her.

I’m not sure what happened next.  An embrace likely.  A kiss to be sure.  Another embrace, and then another.  We held each other a little longer at that moment.

We walked home tearfully, once again passing by the fringes of the Pentagon.

 

This photo shows the Pentagon and the Crystal City district of Arlington, VA. Above the Pentagon is a white building. Directly above that is a larger and darker building, which is The Bennington — where we lived from 1994 through 2002. Off to the left side of the photo is Washington’s National Airport.

 

In the days that followed, we visited the southwest side of the Pentagon — not out of morbid curiosity but to pay respects.

We didn’t know anyone by name.  But they were still our neighbors.  It took nearly a week for the smoke to go finally away.  Day by day, the fire slowly went out and the smoke gradually dissipated.

But the shock and the pain and the outrage lingered.

I had been so very lucky to find my Marieta waiting for me on that day.  The man who was standing next to the Pentagon off in the distance, all by himself — the man whom I saw standing, the man who I saw staring, the man who I saw waiting — was not so fortunate.

That man could have been me.  And he could have been I.  But by an odd twist of fate whereby his wife just so happened to be employed on one of the floors of the Pentagon and my wife worked a few blocks from the White House, we had much in common.

But at that instant, we had nothing in common.  Nothing at all.

I had survived that day intact.

That man did not survive.  Although there in body, he was no longer there in spirit.

I am so sorry for that man.  I am so, so very sorry.

__________

 

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September 11, 2001 — Poker’s Most Shameful Day?

Posted by on Sep 10, 2012 in Blog, Essays, General Poker, Personal | 4 comments

 

 

I.  INTRODUCTION

This is one of the more unusual columns I’ve ever written.

The spark of inpiration was more like a slow-burning fuse  It came from something that’s been bothering me for 11 years.

Feelings of diappointment and anger have simmered inside me since 9-11-01.  So, I chose today to confront those feelings and ultimately share what I learned and the peace I have come to about this affair with readers.

On the very day when our world changed in a way it would and could never be quite that same as before, I was astounded to learn that not just one, but two major poker tournaments were played on September 11, 2001.

In Los Angeles, an event at the Heavenly Hold’em tournament (No-Limit Hold’em) at the Commerce Casino attracted 122 entrants.

In Las Vegas, there were two major tournaments played that day as part of the Queens Poker Classic, held at the Four Queens Casino.  A No-Limit Hold’em tournament at noon attracted a field of 89 players.  A 7-Card Stud event played later that day had 65 entrants.  So, that’s 276 poker players who seemed to think a poker tournament was more important than the nation and our way of life being under attack.

As I began to write about this and attempt to discover how and why anyone could be so insensitive to such an overwhelming emotional experience, I came to an entirely different conclusion about the ways people deal with tragedy and pain.  In short, I learned not to judge.

 

II.  AT HOME — THE BACKSTORY

First, here’s some background.

By September of 2001, I was technically unemployed.  I left a comfortable job in the nation’s capital to pursue what I really wanted to do.  I spent most of my weekends in Atlantic City playing poker.  I spent my weekdays at home in Crystal City, VA — just across the Potomac River from Washington, DC — writing about poker and gambling, as well as betting on sports.  Life was good.

At the time I followed the poker tournament circuit very closely.  Six years earlier I had created CARD PLAYER MAGAZINE’S “Player of the Year” system.  I tracked all the results from around the country myself and announced who had won the “Player of the Year” honor in my each of my year-end columns, which appeared in late December.  Because I couldn’t miss a single day of results, I followed every major tournament held around the country — including Heavenly Hold’em and the Queens Poker Classic which were played in September.

Like everyone else, I was stunned by what took place on September 11th.  Part of the tragedy occurred within sight of my apartment balcony, which overlooked the Pentagon.  What was normally a magnificent ninth-floor view of the Pentagon, Arlington National Cemetery and all the famous monuments became an observation point of utter disbelief and unspeakable horror.

A few days after September 11th, I returned to my duties and began looking over recent poker tournament results again, which had to be entered into my “Player of the Year” database.

I was astounded to discover that none of the three tournaments scheduled that horrible day had been canceled.  They went on just as planned.  Even more baffling — well over 200 players had decided to enter.  One of these tournaments was the Queens Poker Classic, which took place at the Four Queens in Downtown Las Vegas.  At one time, the Four Queens was a big deal.  It was spread over two weeks and even had a $10,000 buy-on championship.  Stu Ungar won it one year.  All the biggest names in poker used to enter and play.

 

III.  POKER’S MOST SHAMEFUL DAY?

I could not imagine a more revolting decision by so many ill-mannered people.  While our nation was under attack, while the entire nation’s air service was suspended and millions were stranded everywhere, while thousands of bodies were still buring beneath rubble of twisted metal, and while every sane person in the universe over the age of 6 was either in front of a television set or seeking comfort by connecting with others in a giant umbrella of solidarity, a few hundred utterly insensitive buffoons were joking it up at the poker table.  At least, that’s what I thought.

Before continuing — there’s a historical precedent here worth mentioning.  Poker most certainly did not learn from the mistakes of the past.

Perhaps the only similar event in modern history which had such a profound impact on our nation was the Kennedy Assassination.  How did society react to that shocking event?  More specifically, what happened to recreational activities that were scheduled that weekend back in November 1963?

Days after the president was murdered, the National Football League decided to go ahead and play its full schedule of games.  Years later, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozell cited that decision to continue with the games — so soon in the shadow of a national tragedy — as one of his biggest regrets.  In the NFL’s case, that turned out to be three days afterward.  In short, everyone agreed — it was wrong to play those games.

But in the case of a few poker tournaments — and specifically, one event held in Las Vegas, the time lapse between the buildings collapsing and the start of the tournament was just under five hours.

Not a day or two.  FIVE HOURS.

Question:  What kind of moron would decide to go ahead and hold a poker tournament under such conditions?  Couldn’t the competition be delayed a day?  Isn’t there anything that deserves universal respect — at least temporarily?  Moreover, who were these thoughtless players who chose to play, seemingly indifferent to the tragedy that had impacted millions of their fellow citizens?

I mean — what would it take for them to “get it?”  Would they still choose to play poker a few hours after a presidential assassination?  What about an earthquake?  What about a nuclear attack?  Would 276 people still show up expecting cards to be dealt if the missles were flying?  Where does one draw the line?

My anger and disappointment were directed at what I knew and what I was connected to — the poker industry.  It continued to bother me.  My outrage percolated for 11 years.

 

IV.  GETTING THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY

This appeared to be one of our industry’s most shameful moments.  Imagine trying to justify holding such a trivial pursuit to a non-poker player.  You can’t.  So, I had to try and learn more about why this all happened.  I had to try and find out who would decide to spend the whole day playing poker under those extraordinary conditions.

I found the tournament results.  Glancing over the payouts, I wondered if I knew any of the players that made the decision to play that day?  I was stunned by what I discovered.  Not only did I recognize several names — I also saw a close freind had finished in second place.  Even more shocking, this player was from New York!

While his city was being attacked and while his family and freinds may have been in danger, the New Yorker decided to enter a poker tournament.

The only word I could think of to describe this would be — baffling.

So, I emailed him a few days ago.

And, this is where our story suddenly takes a twist.

The person from New York I am talking about is named Scott Byron.

My e-mail to Scott Byron follows:

 

Dear Scott:  

 This is going to come across and very rude and perhaps even accusatory. 

Please forgive the tone of this in advance. 

You and I have been good friends for a long time and none of this has anything to do with that friendship.   Okay, disclaimer done.  Here it goes.  

I am going to write and post something I will call “POKER’S MOST SHAMEFUL DAY.”  This refers to a tournament that was held at the Four Queens back Sept. 11, 2001.  My position is the tournament should have been cancelled (at least the noon event).  Moreover, those who entered are pretty much a disgrace to humanity.  

I was astounded to go back and look at the results of that tournament and discover that you played, and happened to finish second.   Some idiot playing — I might understand.   You, knowing you and being from NYC, playing an event where those towers has just fallen a couple of hours earlier strikes me as absolutely baffling.   Hopefully, you can understand how stunned I was to see that you played in that tournament.  

If you care to, I would like to hear your explanation as to why you would chose to play something as trivial as a poker tournament on what was the most frightening day of our lifetimes?   You may speak on or off the record.  I am not sure I will use any of your quotes, and will not if you ask me not to.  But this is something I simply cannot understand, both from a professional and personal perspective.  

Thanks — one again, I hope you understand the spirit of the question.    

— Nolan

 

Scott Byron replied a short time later.  Here’s his very thoughtful perspective (which I was given permission to make public):

 

Nolan:

Sure, I understand.  I’ll tell you what happened.

First, I signed up for the tournament the night before.  So, it wasn’t an active choice I made that morning.  I set my alarm and woke up with about an hour to go until the tournament started, and by that point the towers had already fallen. 

I sat on the edge of the bed watching on TV for a while, but it was all very confusing at that time; the TV stations had not yet created a narrative out of the pictures.  It was very disjointed.  I remember at one point noticing that my head was tilted while I watched, which was an indication of my confusion about the whole thing.

Nobody knew where I was staying (which was the Lady Luck) except for my mom, who lived on Long Island.  Nobody had called me — as it turns out nobody could get through.  I tried calling my mom, but I couldn’t get through.

Nobody knew what or how to feel at that point.  Certainly not me.  I tried to think if I knew anyone who might be in danger, or if I knew anyone who worked in the towers.  To the latter, no.  To the former, the only thing I could think of was that it was possible that someone was in the subway passing under the WTC site when they fell, but that didn’t seem likely.

Just sitting there staring at the TV didn’t make much sense in that moment.  I decided I needed to find out what was going on at the tournament area.  I sort of assumed that they would cancel the event, and I would get my money back.  I showered and headed over to the Four Queens.

The same vibe was in the room there.  Nobody knew how they should act or what to do/not do.  They made a decision to carry on with the tournament, but offered refunds to people who wanted them.  They announced that they would let people keep their cell phones on the table, which was not allowed for the rest of the tournament.  All of the TVs in the room were tuned to the news.

I had about 15 minutes to decide.  The question was — do I go to my rather drab hotel room and stare at the TV all day, hoping for a call, or do I spend it with these people, watching the same footage, and hope for a call?  Remember at that time the poker world was a lot smaller — these were my friends from the poker circuit, not a mass of strangers.  We already knew at that point that nobody was going to be able to leave Las Vegas for a while, as the flights were already grounded.

So, I decided to play.  It gave me something to do, rather than just sit alone and stare at the TV.  Some people took the refunds, but not too many.  It was a relatively small event — 89 players if I recall?  They paused the tournament when President Bush addressed the nation.  I actually didn’t hear from anyone for 5 or 6 hours — calls just weren’t getting in or out of New York at all.  It wasn’t until dinner time that I was able to speak to anyone, which of course was well into the night in NY.  Some people I couldn’t reach for days.  Everyone was okay.

I don’t know anyone personally who died.  As it turns out there was one regular from the Mayfair Club whose company had an office in the towers, and he lost a few employees, but he wasn’t there.  Late that night watching a list scroll by of businesses which had offices in the towers, I saw his name scroll by (“Julian Studley Associates,” or similar) and my heart leapt.  That’s as close as I came to knowing someone, which surprises me because there were a lot of “business people” among the Mayfair Club regulars.

I don’t regret my decision at all.  Confusion was the primary emotion that first day — not anger or sorrow or even fright.  All those emotions came later.  Of course I felt the need to “do something,” like everyone did, but what could I do from where I was?  It didn’t seem like sitting alone in a hotel room and moping/mourning was the best way to spend that day.  I was scheduled to fly home a couple of days later, but I knew that I would be there for longer.  I had no imperative to go home (no job, then) and I knew that other people would be desperate to get out sooner than I had to, so I wasn’t going to take a seat on the first flight, either.

Much to my amazement, I haven’t had my decision to play seriously questioned by anyone until now.  I’ve told the story many many times, as people want to know my 9/11 story when they hear I’m from New York.  It’s an unusual story, for sure, winning $12K or so (there was a deal heads-up).  That day, it was a distraction, and a distraction was what I needed.  I have other stories from when I was finally able to get home later. I got a few chances to “do something” and I did.

If you want to read an exceptional personal account of the time, my friend Nicole Blackman wrote a piece you can read here:  NICOLE BLACKMAN BLOG

I’m in that piece a couple of times; I’m sure you’ll recognize me even though I’m not mentioned by name.

So that’s the bare-bones story.  Was the tournament trivial?  Of course.  But I spent the day with friends and strangers, watching TV like everyone else, while playing a game. We talked about how we felt, we speculated on what was happening and why.  We shared an experience.  I think that was better than sitting alone in an ugly hotel room.

— Scott

 

V.  UPON FURTHER REFLECTION

There are more than a few lessons here, and I just learned one of them.

I suppose the most important thing is not to jump to conclusions without getting the facts.  Moreover, people react to extreme situations in different ways and given there’s little or no previous example of what to do and how to react, we all respond differently.

In retrospect, September 11, 2001 was not poker’s most shameful day.  Perhaps continuing with the tournaments gave people some measure of comfort.  Perhaps playing in a poker tournament served as a much-needed distraction from the horrors of the day.  And perhaps all people should be entitled to deal with tragedy in their own way.

 

COMING NEXT:  AT THE PENTAGON — REMEMBERING SEPTEMBER 11, 2001

_________

 

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No Satisfaction — Will Someone Tell the Rolling Stones It’s Time to Retire?

Posted by on Sep 8, 2012 in Blog, Music and Concert Reviews | 5 comments

rolling-stones-photo

 

Yoko Ono is probably the most reviled figure in pop music history.

But at least she got one thing right.  The villainess wrongly blamed for breaking up The Beatles expressed one of the most thought-provoking explanations ever for the unwavering idolotry of The Beatles.

When interviewed about The Beatles dissolving at the height of their musical and cultural influence and the lasting impact of their odd sense of timing to abdicate the rock n’ roll throne, she quipped:

“It’s like the story of the Golden Temple:  A guy fell in love with it and burned it down.  He couldn’t stand the idea of it falling apart as it got older, and now the Golden Temple exists in perfect form forever.  It became a myth.”

That pretty much sums up The Beatles — which stand as rock music’s golden temple.

Then, there’s the Rolling Stones — which have become rock n’ roll’s ruins.

The Beatles and Stones stand in stark contrast to the old maxim of quitting while you’re ahead.  The Beatles split up in their prime.  The Stones continue to record music and tour a full generation removed from the era of their most productive musical period.

Indeed, if the Stones were a temple, today they would look pretty much like Stonehenge.

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Republican Sluts — The Party of Political Promiscuity

Posted by on Sep 7, 2012 in Blog, Politics | 0 comments

 

unfaithful repulicans

 

When it comes to political chastity, the Republican Party has no business wearing a white gown.

Oh sure, last week they put on a beautiful wedding.  It was lovely.  The bride resembled a flower of innocence.  She escorted the perfectly-pressed Mitt Romney down the aisle, all the way up to the altar of their party’s presidential nomination.

But before reluctantly tying this uneasy knot and finally settling on the class nerd, the couple went through an ugly courtship period.  While dating Mitt, these same Republicans pretty much screwed the entire football team on the side.

Indeed — before being forced to tie the bonds of politial matrimony, these same Republicans slept with just about every living and breathing soul — both in and out of their class.  They sucked every cock.  Every hole was luciously filled.  Their pre-convention gang bang included men and women, Blacks and Whites.  Call it an orgy of desperation.

Let’s go back and look at this bride’s recent past, shall we?  A warning — it’s not pretty.

LOVE INTEREST #1 — Before the Republican Primaries began last summer, party faithful courted none other than Donald Trump.  Incredibly, the party classroom was so void of a real charmer, they had to look way down the hall where they found an egotistical rich kid, who was only too happy to enjoy a quick romp with the cheerleader.  After Trump had his way and milked a few months of cheap publicity out of the relationship, he pretty much spurned her further advances and went back to being the class jerk.

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If the Presidential Election Were Held Today

Posted by on Sep 6, 2012 in Blog, Politics | 12 comments

political symbols photo

 

So far, I’ve watched every single hour of every single night of both national party conventions.

I follow this practice, not because I aspire to become the ideal civic-minded citizen.  My motives are much more selfish.  Frankly, I follow politics because it’s great entertainment.  It’s the national theater of our society — and there’s a performance every day and night.  Best of all, it’s completely free to watch and enjoy.  Then, there’s the added bonus of participating in the final act by voting for the candidate of your choice.

Indeed, I like to be entertained.  Why would anyone watch a so-called “reality television” show — so much of which is phoney and scripted — when there are bona fide reality shows running day and night which just so happen to have the direction of the country as the storyline?

Yes, politics is great theater.  And I want a front row seat.

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Lon Bronson All-Star Band — Best Free Show in Las Vegas

Posted by on Sep 5, 2012 in Blog, Las Vegas, Music and Concert Reviews | 5 comments

 

Lon Bronson Band in Las Vegas

 

Las Vegas is home to many of the best musicians and performers and in the world.

These artists play shows night after night on the Las Vegas Strip.  Casino showrooms are loaded with great singers, guitarists, piano players, trumpet players, backup vocalists, string players, and drummers.

But let’s face it.  Playing the same set of songs night after night gets old pretty quick.  No matter how great the show is, these are supremely-talented performers with creative minds.  Everyone needs to break the mold on occasion.

Incredibly, several of Las Vegas’ top musicians — virtually all of whom play the expensive headliner shows at the biggest casinos — gather from time to time and put on an impromptu jamming session.  Led by longtime bandleader and trumpeter Lon Bronson, his “All-Star Band” often has a dozen or more of the best session musicians in the city on a single stage.

I mean, where else can you see a show with a ten-piece horn section in a showroom that holds a couple of hundred people?

The band sure isn’t doing this for the money.

That’s because — the show is free.

That’s right — FREE.

In a throwback to the good old days of yesteryear when Las Vegas casinos really understood the entertainment business, when they packed their lounges with some of the best acts in the world and then invited everyone to flood in and enjoy the party at no cost (aside from the added gambling revenue), Stations Casinos has decided to revive that old formula.

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The Changing Face of Online Gaming and How to Pick the Best

Posted by on Sep 5, 2012 in Blog, Essays | 0 comments

 

 

Gambling is no longer what it used to be at one time. While purists might still believe in travelling to Vegas or one of the major gambling destinations of the world, the fact remains that more and more people are looking at convenient ways to indulge in the thrill of money-making.

The drama that revolved around gambling is thus a thing of the past. There’s no need to dress up for a night out on the tables, or the impromptu talks one would have with total strangers. Gambling is now more intimate in every sense possible. You can enjoy a game of slots while lounging in the buff on your bed or whip out your phone and start earning at the tap of a few buttons. Online casinos are on the rise, are not just a trend, and have transformed into a way of life that has revolutionised the gambling industry for the better.

 

However, unlike a land-based casino, where you can get an idea of the environment just by looking at how busy or deserted it is, online casinos require a little bit of analysis. To start with, check for reviews and whether a casino is licensed or not. Just like there are scams nowadays in every form of business, several illegal online casinos exist on the internet. And no matter how good the proposition, it’s better to stand clear of them at all costs.

Once you have a few leading online casinos on your list, it’s time to look at their catalogue and make sure they offer a variety of games. It doesn’t matter if you play them or not, because preferences change and you might one day start liking them all of a sudden. In the simplest of statements, more is better when it comes of games on an online casino.

 

 

Next up, dig deeper to see what all special events the casinos hold. All the casinos have games, but the real kicker is the special events that some hold, which are not only profitable for the players, but also the perfect opportunity to test your skills against other gamblers. One of the very best of these is Casumo, an online casino with enough bells and whistles to really make it stand out from the pack. From poker events to blackjack bonus card event, promotions like these mean that the feature-rich online casino is looking to get players involved and create an ambience that is a lot more exciting and entertaining than a regular casino.

When we look at the popularity of online casinos, slots are at the very core of it all. At one time, slots were considered childish and meant primarily for senior players, or those who did not know how to play card games. Now, online slots are a walking talking entertainment centre with theme-based options that bring alive movies and drama in the most fun way possible. Moreover, they cater to all budgets and tastes, thus becoming the most played online games.

While there is new technology being tested regularly by online casinos, and we already see VR and 3D being integrated into games, there are two aspects that you must consider before joining an online casino. Fist, check for their welcome bonus package.

Remember, the casinos want you as much as you want them, and they will layout a red carpet for you. Secondly, make sure you have all the accounts in order and read up on withdrawal and deposit rules to avoid unnecessary issues later.

Gambling responsibly can be a lot of fun. With the industry welcoming players from all walks of life, its transformation into something unique will only help it expand more in the future.

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Meeting Monte — How a Chance Encounter Inspired Me To Get Healthy

Posted by on Sep 4, 2012 in Blog, Personal | 7 comments

Monte at BARGE

Monte (August 2012)

 

This is the story of a man I barely know and how that man changed my life.

It is the story of someone I rarely see.  It is the story of a person I converse with perhaps no more than once or twice per year.  It is the story of a man who is probably more of an acquaintance than a close freind.

Yet it’s also the story of how a seemingly insignificant encounter in our lives can inspire us to change ourselves and motivate us toward self-improvement.  It’s also revealing that such inspiration has no expiration date — proving that something which truly impacts us can instigate changes which may manifest themselves many years later.

Yes, this really happened.  It happened to me.  I would like to tell you this story.

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