Month: February 2008


“The name’s Bond…”

No time for a proper post – need to head down to the Mandalay to stop Michael losing everything at the poker tables. So – bullet points, then…

Last night was a blast – Michael arrived in town and we headed over to the Palms for an evening of dinner and fun.

We met a group of girls who were in town promoting shoe insoles. Micheal said his mother was a chiropodist. They didn’t know what that meant.

Blagged our way in to the club at the top of the Palms. The line that clinched it was certainly Michelle’s “My name? Michelle Bond, as in James.” Class.

Met a bachelorette party from – I think – Atlanta. I got to wear a veil. Always the bridesmaid.

We drank a lot of vodka.

This morning’s hangover was very, very painful. Cured only partially by pulled pork sandwiches, burgers and corn bread.


In Vegas, everyone can hear you scream

57 men are in court today in Saudi Arabia, BBC News is reporting, arrested on charges of ‘public flirting’ in shopping centres around Mecca.

Reading that story anywhere would make the blood boil and the brain weep – but there’s something about reading it in the lobby of the Excalibur hotel in Las Vegas that makes it all the more weird. All the oil in Saudi Arabia couldn’t pay for enough flirting/drinking/gambling prisons for the people here; and this is just one hotel. A Mecca of decadence and depravity, where even the check-in desks have gambling terminals built in and drunken woman on bachelorette weekends line every corridor, clutching two foot tall plastic cups of alcoholic slush. Any one of these tiara-wearing, screeching, near-topless harpies would eat a Saudi flirter for breakfast, which is served 24 hours a day in any one of the hotel’s 40 food outlets.

I finally rolled in to town – flew into town – at a little after 1am local time (4am Eastern time – where my head still was) after an entire day snowbound at JFK. Michelle met me at the airport – she’d been here for six hours and they wouldn’t let her check in because everything was in my name. We were both exhausted and filthy – she was in from London, via Minneapolis – but couldn’t help checking out the hotel casino before sleep. 2:30am, after dinner and a failed attempt to beat the slots, and it was amazing to see how everyone – everyone – was acting like it was the middle of the evening. Children still roamed the corridors, row upon row of bored looking fat women pumped money into slots and the hen night girls – those loud, loud girls – looked like they were just getting started. Sure enough, we were awoken at 7am by them returning to their rooms – happy and singing.

Right! More later – must get some breakfast and some air. Michael arrives at four and it’s going to be a long, long weekend. There’s a sweepstake, apparently, whether I’ll return from the US arrested, married or dead. If you haven’t made a bet yet – this would probably be the weekend to do it.

Luck be a lady.


Leaving, Las Vegas

It’s snowing in New York. Hard. I know this because I’m still here – sitting in the Jet Blue departure lounge at Kennedy airport awaiting my 6:30 flight to Las Vegas. My plan to fly this morning lies melting on the ground, like all this fucking snow. The great news is that Jet Blue is brilliant – cheaper than Easyjet, with leather seats and in-flight DirecTV, free wireless in the lounge and really pleasant staff. The moment it started snowing they told everyone that, if they were snowed in and couldn’t get to the airport, they could reschedule on to any other flight for no extra cost. It took all of ten seconds to do. Splendid. Too splendid. We’re clearly going to crash into the Rockies.

I arrive in Vegas at 10pm local time – only ten hours later than planned, but four hours after Michelle lands. Sorry Michelle. I imagine by the time I land, she’ll have pumped the best part of a thousand Dollars into the Dollar slots and the best part of a bottle of Vodka into her liver. She’ll be fine.

For my part, I’m hungover to hell and mainlining Dunkin’ Donuts coffee to stay awake. The party last night was – as they say – awesome and Jon and Laurel were on the finest of forms. I made some new friends too – including the most Jewish woman in New York who was explaining how she is hoping to turn her daughter into the next Sarah Silverman. Get her swearing in the womb, that’s my advice.

I also ran into a guy who has just finished writing a book about Christian pop culture, and in particular Christian pro-wrestling. Quite how that works, I don’t know but I imagine it involves staying on the mat for three days before getting back up.

Oh, and I ran into Caroline as well, which is always fun. Drunkenness ensued. Which brings me neatly back to my hangover and my cup of coffee which is getting cold next to my foot. I suppose I’d better drink it and then crack open the Dean Koontz novel I just bought. The woman behind me in the queue saw me buying it and asked “is that book good?” For a smart town, there are some dumb fucks here.

Next stop, Nevada.

Inshallah.


And so it begins

The Pod Hotel, New York, NY

Welcome to New York, they say. And welcome to the land of the free. Tick this box if you are a Nazi war criminal or have recently been near a farm, or around livestock. Cell phones must not be used in the immigration hall on pain of being shot. Tired and huddled masses, please make yourself known to the robots.

But the main thing is, I’m here. In New York, New York for the start of what promises to be a Very Exciting Adventure. The last thing I did before going through to departures was to pop the last remaining key to my flat in the post to my (former) landlady – this after checking in the suitcase that contains what little of my life I haven’t sold or given away. My books and DVDs are in storage, my laptop is charged – and God knows what happens next.

Vegas, certainly, at the weekend. Then a drive through the desert to LA in time for the Oscars, then San Francisco for a while before flying to Austin for South by South West and my first assignment of the trip. But beyond that… who can say? Watch this space.

I flew in with Zoe – The Girl With A One Track Mind. There’s a weird twinge that minor celebrities have when they find they’re on the same plane as Bono or Tony Blair. That realisation that when the plane smashes into a field just outside Pennsylvania that they won’t even make the list of ‘also killed’ in the press, fan sites aside. Is it the same for bloggers and journalists? As we sat eating our Starbucks paninis; waiting to board; I found myself thinking that – if all went south – Zoe would be the big sad news, blogosphere-wise, and I’d just be another name on the telephone recording for the victims’ families. So – for that reason – Narcissistic Personality Disorder sufferer that I am – I’m glad we made it in one piece. There wasn’t even any turbulence to speak of.

I’m here – in America, that is, not just in New York – mainly to write. The most exciting news is that I’m writing another book. I’m not quite ready to announce details yet – give me a few weeks – but I’m very, very excited about it. I’m also doing some Proper Journalism including a piece for a broadsheet I’ve never written for but have always wanted to. That will be very interesting. I’m hoping to break the back of this screenplay too – but we’ll see. In between that, I’m just travelling. Seeing places, meeting people, writing shit down. Enjoying life like I haven’t for a long time, and getting paid several times over to do it.

But before any of that, it’s 11pm here but 4am in my head and I need to sleep. Lots to do during the day and a party tomorrow night before my flight to Nevada. Give me 48 hours to adjust to my new life as The Littlest Hobo and proper travel blogging will commence with vigour.

Ooh, the Daily Show’s starting!

God bless America.


Just the facts, ma’am

“The dirtiest book of all is the expurgated book.” – Walt Whitman

So, the libel reading of my book is finally done and my editor at Orion has sent me the lawyer’s report. It’s all very amusing with loads of things that I thought were fine being flagged and lots of things I’d have flagged being fine. But by far my favourite part is the summary at the top where the lawyer has to describe the nature of the material.

It reads, in part:

“In this book the journalist and internet entrepreneur, Paul Carr, gives an insight into his life as he pursues various innovative ventures on the Web. Interesting stories are told, not just about his own ventures, but those of others involved in internet businesses. It is a very enjoyable read, upbeat and witty, and the views he expresses are often explicitly extreme.”

So, in the eyes of the law my views are explicitly extreme. That, I like.
Apologies to anyone who is in the book and is now shitting themselves about whether I’ve been explicitly extreme about them.

Possibly the weirdest flag is my mention of the Daily Express. In the second chapter I talk in passing about the rate with with British newspapers moved online. It’s far from the most exciting paragraph of the book but I can’t resist joking that ‘Even the Daily Express got there in the end, and they’ve still barely worked out how to be a
newspaper.’

This was flagged – they might sue for defamation.

However, a few chapters later, I talk about the ThinkOfTheChildren spoof site I created years ago and specifically the diary listing fake mob events, post Maxine Carr’s trial. And I quote…

“Event: The Soham Mob (Maxine Carr Trial)
Date: TBC
Type: Taunting
Details: Please do come along to what promises to be an enjoyable afternoon’s taunting. Children welcome.

Our thanks to the Daily Express and Manchester United Plc for supporting this event.”

This, apparently is absolutely fine.

I’d tell you some of the people who got flagged too, but that would spoil the fun. Sufficed to say that some of the requests to ‘perhaps check with him/her that he/she doesn’t mind what you’ve written’ had to be met with a polite explanation of why that might not be a good idea.

Apologies again.

Oh, and the title is going to be…

“How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Web 2.0″

Indeed.


Jury trial in civil cases… don’t lock me in dark places

Let’s not either of us pretend you care that I haven’t posted for a while. One of the beauties of RSS is that you don’t need to spend too much time trawling un-updated blogs, only to be disappointed. Now you can be disappointed only when there’s something new to be disappointed by.

So, it’s Superbowl Sunday! As I write this, Americans around the world are sitting on their couches surrounded by nachos, beer and friends celebrating the pinnacle of their television calendar – the 42nd Superbowl final between NFC champions the New York Giants and AFC champions, the New England Patriots. Some of them will have painted their faces in the gaudy colours of their team.

Like all of the 6,344,905,379 people in the world who aren’t eligible for a navy blue passport, I really couldn’t give a toss who wins, but I gather the Patriots – the first team to have a perfect undefeated season since the Miami Dolphins in 1972 – are the favourites. Go Pats!

Of course I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, Paul, you don’t know the first thing about any of that stuff. You looked it all up on Wikipedia to make yourself look smart and cool. And you’d be absolutely right. Apart from the face painting which I remember from an episode of Seinfeld. I did have a brief but genuine, interest in the game last year – even to the point of trying to learn the rules and watching in puzzled awe the play-by-play on NFL.com – but, well, we all know how that ended.

Still, it strikes me that knowing the rules to American football is a useful skill to pick up for surviving the 21st century. Like learning to say ‘let’s do lunch’ in Chinese or ‘don’t point that fucking thing at me’ in Russian.

In fact, I’m pretty sure you could hold a conversation in any American city or town with only two pieces of knowledge: the rules of American football (and the ability to use them in metaphor) and the 27 amendments to the Constitution in order.

Expression, arms, soldiers, search, incrimination, trial, jury, punishment, flexibility, delegation, immunity, POTUS/VPOTUS, slavery, slavery II, Slavery: With a Vengeance, income tax, senators, prohibition, women, terms, antihibition, getting started, DC, poll taxes, succession, 18, greed.

EASSITJPFDIPSSSISPWTAGDPSEG?

And if you want to extend your abilities north of the border, just add a list of twelve famous people who are actually Canadian.

Aykroyd, Shatner, Meyers, Sutherland, Moranis, Cronenberg, Anderson, Perry, Carrey, Furtado, Lavigne, J. Fox, Cirque de Soleil

And you’re set.

In other American news, I’ve just had an email from New York, from my editor who is at a conference there. Apparently the book is still being libel read, which either speaks to the thoroughness of the process or to the defamatory nature of the material. Only time will tell. In the meantime, I’ve made sure it’s all double or triple sourced, so I expect we’ll be fine. I just wish I’d known what the thing would turn in to when I signed the contract. I should have asked for more money, a case of Havana Club 15 Años Gran Reserva and an icepack.

It also looks like the publishers are going to go with Oli Barret’s title suggestion, along with my subtitle. I’ll tell you what they both are when I know for sure.

Next: cover art. That’s going to be a blast.

But first, tomato soup.

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