Meet Peter Alson
Peter Alson didn’t necessarily choose to be a writer. Writing and wordcraft were embedded early into his DNA. Alson’s uncle was the late Norman Mailer, widely regarded as the greatest American novelist/essayist of his generation. Being born under that eminent shadow likely should have spawned some monumental peculiarities. Such was not the case with Alson, one of the sanest and most well-rounded artists I’ve ever met. He’s written two well-reviewed books — Confessions of an Ivy League Bookie (1996) and Take Me to the River (2007). He’s also co-authored two other books — One of a Kind (2005) with yours truly, and Atlas (2007). Alson has also penned numerous articles for magazines, newspapers, and online sites — including Esquire, Playboy, and The New York Times Magazine. Today, he resides in Greenwich Village with his wife Alice, herself a fellow writer, and their daughter Eden. Alson’s website can be found at: www.nybookdoctor.com
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
My inability to come up with witty answers to questions like this.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
That they can….Seriously, though, the thing I can’t abide is willful stupidity. There seems to be an abundance of that in the world today. There are a lot of people out there I would describe as “cocksure idiots.”
What historical figure do you admire the most, and why?
I’m in awe of Shakespeare. I remember when there was a theory floating around that his plays had been written by committee–it is actually hard to believe that his level of genius could reside within one man.
What living person do you despise?
There are so many despicable people in the world today, it’s tough to choose just one. I will say this, though, it’s not the true believers I really despise, nor the fanatics, nor the dangerous nutcases, it’s the cynical manipulators, the Rush Limbaughs, the Ann Coulters, who foment rage and intolerance in exchange for money and power.
If money were not an object, what profession would you choose?
I naively thought when I chose to become a writer that it wasn’t an either/or proposition–and for a select few that is probably true. But for every J.K. Rowling and Stephen King, there are fifty thousand writers surviving on Ramen noodles and hope.
What is it about yourself that you are most proud of?
That I’ve stuck with it despite being one of those fifty thousand.
Name a place you’ve never visited where you still want to go?
There are so many places. A much easier question would be — Name a place that you’ve visited that you would never want to visit again. And eschewing New Jersey jokes, I would probably say ‘Jail.’
Favorite book, favorite movie, and favorite musician?
Anna Karenina, Nights of Cabiria, and Charlie Parker
What upsets you the most?
The selfish, greedy, ultimately self-defeating stupidity of those in power (and I’m not talking about politicians–I’m talking about the people behind the people).
What is your current state of mind?
Depressed and horrified by my fear that we won’t wake up in time to make the world a better–or even tolerable–place for my young daughter.
What bores you?
People without curiosity.
What is one thing you will not leave the house without?
What is a necessary extravagance?
What is your best virtue?
Where would you like to live?
I live on the best block in the best neighborhood in the best city in the world, so I’m not quite sure how to answer that. But I have also always wanted to live in Paris.
Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
How would you like to die?
Knowing that I’m about to embark on a new adventure.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
What is your motto?
“You can’t take it with you.”
Poker players have been notoriously apathetic give our sheer numbers and the size of the industry, which employs tens of thousands. Yet, many have done nothing to help the cause. We bitch and complain, but when it comes to action, we’ve done next to nothing. Inaction has allowed anti-poker activists to make the rules. We abdicated the fight with indifference and a lack of willpower.
Let me be perfectly blunt.
If you tell bad beat stories, you’re a loser.
End of discussion.
Yes, I’m talking to you. No exceptions.
When you tell me about how your powerhouse poker hand was cracked, you transform yourself instantly from someone I probably like into a total bore. You’re a loser. Now get away from me.
Note: Gavin Smith passed away in Jan. 2019. This feature appeared several years prior.
Want to be my little (Twitter) friend?
Fine. Then, listen up.
My time is precious. Got it?
If I so happen to select you from among the millions of people worldwide I could follow, it’s your obligation to perform for me. It’s your duty to provide something I can’t get from someone else.
Try this: Amuse me. Entertain me. Educate me. Question me. Inspire me. Enliven me. But don’t bore me.
If you bore me, then I’ll drop your ass quicker than Paula Deen’s invitation to speak at an NAACP convention.
I hand-pick my people. Carefully. My Twitter peeps are a chosen few. And I only pick 50 or so at any one time. That’s because I want to actually follow those I’m interested in. How or why anyone would follow a thousand people or more is beyond me. Sort of like trying to have a conversation with everyone at the DMV. I want quality, not quantity.
Since I only have fifty people from among 50 million with Twitter accounts, that puts my chosen people in a special class. The friends I select are literally one-in-a-million.
To those who I now follow on Twitter, listen up. Here’s how you can keep me as a loyal follower:
(1) Don’t post too often — That’s right. I don’t want to read 20 posts from you every day. Sorry, your life just isn’t that exciting. No one is. Here’s an exception: If you are climbing Mount Everest or getting ready to fire up in the Space Shuttle, I’ll cut you some slack. Post more. But if you’re a typical slug working a lousy job, or worse — playing poker for a living — zip it. I don’t want to read about every element of your life. A Twitter account should not be reality TV.
(2) Stop posting information only you (and perhaps two other people) care about — Quit posting your chip count at the first break, especially on Day One. It’s sadistic. No one fucking cares! It’s like looking at the score of a basketball game three minutes after it started. It just doesn’t matter. Moreover, I don’t want to read about your dinner excursion to McDonald’s followed by a criticism of the service or the hamburger. YOU ATE AT FUCKING MCDONALDS! You deserve a miserable experience followed by a visit to the ER.
(3) Quit trying to impress me with all your sophisticated street lingo and indecipherable abbreviations — I understand Twitter allows only 140 characters. But the shortcuts have become absurd. Try writing a complete sentence — with a noun and a verb — and perhaps a few descriptive adverbs and adjectives. Your Twitter post shouldn’t look like a fucking chemical composition.
(4) Don’t comment on subjects you know nothing about — Reason: It will be obvious. Remember the Boston Marathon tragedy, followed by the capture of the beastly fuckers who deserve death? During the week-long manhunt, Twitter transformed the chase into a soap opera. Unless you were connected to the investigation or you knew the suspects, nothing you said meant shit. And I’m really not interested in your “take” on the situation. Neither is anyone else. You aren’t CNN. You’re probably watching highlights on SportsCenter while doing bong hits between Twittering your friends. Your 140-character opinion is worthless.
(5) Quit sharing what should be private discussions with the entire world — Must everyone who follows you be subject to each trivial line of every meaningless discussion with a person that’s even duller than you are? Take a hint: Will anyone be interested in reading your post tomorrow? If not, it’s probably not worth posting. Period. Anyone who goes back and forth with trivial insider talk gets axed by me quickly.
So that was a list of things you shouldn’t be posting. By contrast, here’s what you should be posting instead:
(1) Dates, times, places, and directions of interesting events to your followers — Imagine your closest friends, many with shared interests, posting details about events that everyone might find interesting? Too bad this rarely happens. I’ve missed countless great shows, bands, meetings, lectures, and parties either because few people bothered to post the details about it, or there was so much clutter on meaningless subjects by other people that I simply missed it.
(2) Invites to social gatherings — I like the idea of Twitter being used to round up interest in making plans for a night out on the town or inviting people to parties. In fact, this is precisely what the forum should be used as, which is a bulletin board for you and your friends.
(3) Links to important articles, videos, photos, and other additional content — The Internet is filled with some amazing resources on a wide varity of subjects. Trouble is, there’s so much out there we miss things. Twitter enables you to share a great story or image with those who are inclined to also enjoy it or gain some insight. Use it constructively.
(4) Breaking news, announcements, celebrations, and special occasions — If you witness something remarkable, by all means, Twiter it. If you learn about a breaking story from a source that’s not widely available (or perhaps something truly confidential), then break it to the world. It’s also okay to celebrate and honor those who deserve praise.
(5) Funny lines and quips — Everyone loves a clever remark about a current event or issue of public interest. The more original the comment, the better. But the line better be funny. Furthermore, there are subjects where humor is inappropriate. Here’s a guideline: If you wouldn’t say it in a crowd of people you know, then you shouldn’t write it either.
Richard Turnbull died a few days ago.
He was the oldest dealer on the World Series of Poker staff. Richard may have been 86 in calendar years, but he was 21 in spirit. Richard loved poker and his favorite time of year was traveling to Las Vegas every summer to be with so many of the people he called his friends.
It’s a mystery as to why it happened. Senseless really.
I wonder what Sheldon Adelson would do if — in some alternative universe — he was assigned to cover the World Series of Poker.
Imagine the billionaire casino mogul and crackpot conservative standing out on the tournament floor covering the poker action. How would he report on what’s going on? What would be written?
The third annual “Electric Daisy Carnival” is happening this coming weekend in Las Vegas.
Talk about a fucking freak show!