Thursday, May 05, 2005

Just some preliminary stuff before I get back into the trip reports.

First to Joe... congrats on the Reds moving on to the Champions League Finals. Chelsea finished with 2 trophies including the league title for the first time in 50 years. Now I guess I have to wear a 'pool jersey during the Vegas gathering. My only hope is that Liverpool wins it all, then I can be the guy wearing the jersey of the team which one the Champions League yet failed to qualify for the competition next year.

Next, I mentioned a certain voicemail left by two young ladies on BadBlood's cell phone... well he posted it. Go check it out. I certainly thought it would be much dirtier but I barely remember it happening anyway.

For anyone showing up today for more debauchery, you will be disappointed. The following involves neither poker OR booze. Reader beware.


Day 3


That is all.

Actually, Monday was the designated take it easy day. Much poker was played. Landow rented a scooter to tool around on. Pete spent 12 hours poolside. Tuesday we were scheduled to do some deep sea sportfishing and I've learned the hard way to ease up on the partying the night before. Our first trip to Key West many years ago found me stumbling home from the bar at 4am with a 6am wakeup call to hit the dock. I wasn't the first to chum that day, but it happened.
So Monday was relaxing. Minor drinkage but nothing over the top.

Day 4

Fishing day....

6am is a lot easier to handle with proper sleep. Nothing was going to mess up my favorite part of the trip (that's right, I said favorite). Pete, Landow, and Hubukai were relative rookies to sportfishing with Pete being a complete rookie. The biggest fish he bagged before was small mouth bass. That's nothing but bait compared to the fish we were shooting for. We popped the preventative Dramamine before heading for the docks. Call me a wuss, but if you've ever fished the straights between the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean, you know a little precaution is never a bad thing.

We pulled away from the dock as the sun was coming up and tool off for the Gulf side to fish for our live bait. We quickly picked up our day supply of live ballyhoo and other sailfish-loving bait. Once the livewell was full, we made the run to the Gulf Stream.

With a good east wind blowing, we were expecting a good day. The tide wasn't great in the morning but the afternoon seemed promised to be entertaining. The plan was to live bait fish for sailfish with a kite, flatlines, and two lines off the outrigger running conventional reels off the kites and light standup tackle everywhere else. Spinning reels with 20 pound test and very light drag.

We setup our rotation and FatAssBob quickly had dinner in the fishbox (small schoolie dolphin) before the second bait was in the water. Now the pressure was off for dinner.

Since Pete was a complete rookie, he was next up.

Before he could even get nervous, we had the first sail on the line. 30 minutes later, after some fine tutoring by the mate, his sailfish was caught and released. Not bad for his first time.

Landow's first fish of the morning was the rare ass-less bonita. While trying to drag his bonita up from the depth's, apparently it had a run-in with a very hungry barracuda. Bonita's are hard fighting, wanna-be tuna junkfish. Back in the soup with him for the 'cuda to finish off.

Hubukai, the man who's appearance in Key West forced my ass to the couch for 3 days, bagged, tagged, and released his first sailfish later in the morning followed by my wee little barracuda.

The morning finished up with Bob catching his second fish, another hard fighting bonita. 6 fish in the first couple of hours and the day was off to a fine start. The next couple of hours were spent tooling around the open waters, sleeping off my Dramamine coma, looking for fish that weren't interested, and waiting for the tide to change and the bite to come back.

After everyone grabbed their lunch, the mate Jay mentions that the afternoon could be exciting. Pete actually made the mistake of saying he wished we were catching more fish.

Sure enough, with Pete up in the rotation, a sail swims into the spread and quickly decides on one the kite baits. Not 30 seconds after Pete's fish is hooked and running, a second sail hits the flatline bait and is ripping line off the reel. We have Pete and Landow now battling sails when Captain Bennett spied a third sail coming up to see what's going on. Jay grabbed a prepared rig with a live ballyhoo, tossed it back towards the fish, and expertly pulled it right in.

3 large sailfish on lightweight standup tackle. All three anglers are rookies. No chance we're landing this triple. I've seen pro's eff this situation up and Landow already looks like he's going to shit himself. And there's a very good reason. With the kite flying, there is very little the captain can do to chase down the fish. He can't back down to gain line or the kite comes down and he has maneuver around to help out the angler. The problem was that two of the sails went in one direction, Landow's in the other.

Two are better than one so Landow is on his own. The three guys are doing a fine imitation of a chinese firedrill as they work to keep the lines clear and the fish from cutting each other off.

(The entire time this is going down, FatAssBob and I are filming like world's champs. I have the video if anyone wants it. It's only 2GB!)

30 minutes into the fight, Hubukai's was first to the boat. Very little battle in this guy considering he was the last on the line. One out of three landed. Pete's fish was near the boat but Landow was very close to getting completely spooled and running out of line. Pete knuckled down, remembered to breathe, and got his fish to the boat shortly after for a clean release.

Landow is on his last legs. If I had to guess who was winning, I'd say the fish. Landow is the smallest out of our group and he's been fighting a pissed off fish AND the action of the boat for 45 minutes. Once Pete's fish was away clean, the captain looked down at Landow and said, "Let's go get your fish".

With Landow's fish running haywire off the bow, and the kite hanging off the stern, the captain just dropped the boat in gear and let Landow wind like a mofo.

Finally Mr. Sailfish gets near the boat. The first thing the fish did when it saw the boat (and what every sail did) was take off like a bat outta hell again. More fighting, more struggling and Landow gets him back in.

Jay grabbed him by the bill, gave Landow his directions, and in the boat he came.

An incredible experience. 3 inexperienced guys landed a rare triple and handled it perfectly.

Then they all passed out. Landow thought he was going to puke from pure adrenalin. The Captain informs us that those 3 sailfish, bringing our total for the day up to 5, would have been enough to lead the last Sailfish tourney.

But we weren't done. While Jay is setting the kite baits back up, FatAssBob noticed a sail swimming towards the flatline again. No one else saw this but Bob. Since it was my turn in the rotation, he was all mine. Naturally, 15 minutes into the fight after it stripped half my spool, it spit the hook and off he went.

Oh well, we were 5 for 6 and that's not a horrible day fishing.

About 30 minutes before it was time to bring the lines in, we got a surprise hit on the kite bate. Technically it was still my turn in the rotation but I gave up the fish to FatAssBob. It was his bachelor party and he was the only one to never land a sail. Bob worked off some of his excess weight and pulled a monster to the boat. Measuring him against the boat, he was well over 8' long. Not bad for his first sail.

While Bob was working on his sail, I grabbed another fish when it hit the flatline and dove right for the bottom meaning one thing. My last fish is gonna be another junk bonita. Fooker.

The day was complete. We finished 6 of 7 for the Sailfish, 3 bonita, 1 barracuda, and 1 dolphin. And incredible day by any stretch. Jay hung the Sailfish flags from the outrigger, and we cruised back to the marina to brag.

What does this really mean? Like we needed an excuse to celebrate and party, now we had a good one.

Tomorrow, Guinness chugging with Irish Kevin and the first glimpse at my twin.

Here are the rest of the pics. Included is an .avi file of Bob's fish up close.


Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The Conversation 

Al: "I swear the lapdance room is really a time machine."
BigMike: "Yeah, I think Einstein postulated something about tits in your face and time dilation."
After the ugly lights came up at 4am, Landow and I staggered down the wobbly steps to Duval Street. It was completely deserted except for the degenerates emptying out of this establishment.

A handful of people walked one way, the rest the other. I could feel myself swaying to the music in my head. Wasted. We had no chance of finding pizza. They've long since shut their doors on the degenerates.

"Landow, we NEED a taxi."

But there's not a headlight in sight. Just drunks as far as the eye can see. Well, just people as far as the drunk eye can see.

I made my way towards the marina in hopes of finding a cab. I assumed Landow was following me but he might very well have been on his own excursion. Finally I see headlights 'round the corner and head towards us. I threw both my hands up in the air waving to my saviour. No other drunks were between me and my cab so I was a lock. Hopefully he would see me.

Turns out that seeing me wasn't much of a problem considering I was walking right down the middle of his lane. We walked around to the side of the cab and the driver seemed a bit nervous. I've heard the same story from them before.... "You puke in my cab, that's $50".

Several years ago when Lewey had to pull me out of Irish Kevin's after I'd passed out in the bathroom, put me in one of those cabs with THAT guy making THAT proclamation. At the time, $50 seemed like a bargain. This time I didn't even think about it. As the good doctor says, I'm a professional. I've given up my amateur status which means no Drinking Olympics for me.

We crawled into the taxi in the middle of an empty Duval Street and I mumbled the now unforgettable.... "915 Eisenhower". By the end of the week, every cab in Key West had to have made a trip to the infamous condo building with the 7 old drunk guys.

During the quick ride home, I had the opportunity to break down my condition. I didn't think I had consumed more than my average. There was no reason to feel this completely ripped. It was a decent 16 hours, noon to 4am, good time, but I wasn't pounding the shots more than usual. I went back through my day and found the problem.

While playing poker, we grabbed some pies and I pushed down two slices of pepporoni.

That was it for me.

From 4am the night before to 4am this very day, I had consumed a grand total of two slices of pizza while the entire time drinking my weight in Soco.

Egads. Someone call my agent. I'm not ready to go pro. I never forget one of the most important rules of long term binge drinking. Eventually you gotta eat something.

Oh man, this was gonna be bad......

...and then I woke up on the couch.

The worst part of being a drunk. That next morning, waking up, and doing the mental conversation.

"OK, you're on the couch in your own condo. cool, home in one piece. You're fully dressed, also good..... money and wallet are on the coffee table, good, that's means no one rolled me while I was out.... what the hell happened??.... alright, let's try sitting up for a second, see how that works.... ugh.... ok, lay back down for a second.... there ya go..... now think idiot, what happened..... Irish Kevins...Teasers.... ah crap... ugly lights..... this isn't going to be pretty.... by the way, I think a cat shit in our mouth.....get some water, if you don't mind.... great idea.....ah jeez.... being vertical sucks..... why's everyone looking at me funny?"


Tuesday, May 03, 2005


The first night of any bender-bound vacation is always a little overboard. Everyone has been waiting around for months and it's just not possible to contain the party. Not that you want to, but over 6 days, a LITTLE pacing is in order. But not that first night. Drink until you can't drink anymore..... then drink some more.

The morning after is the time to gather information about the previous night and help fill in the blanks in your memory. Sunday morning was no exception. Saturday the group got separated almost immediately. BigMike was out on an excursion, Landow was with me, Bob crashed early, and Lewey was.... well, let's just say we always had a pretty good idea where Lewey was located.

The most disappointing part of Saturday night? After the group had split, BigMike received a call from an unexpected source. BadBlood's mother. You did not read that wrong. Apparently she called his bluff and made a dial-a-shot call. Unfortunately, I was nowhere near Mike and I missed the call. Next time, Mama BadBlood, I promise.

The Sunday morning information session brought up this little gem. An unnamed participant was complaining about a particular female's lapdance technique...

"She talked to me about how she got arrested. I don't care! Talk to me about how you want to #&^@# @$%&@ ^^&#! Otherwise, give me my money back."
You can fill in the blanks.

BigMike finally decided to join us. The last I saw of him was around 9pm the night before. He had very little to say about his night other than comments and questions about the drastic change from day shift to night shift. The only info he was offering up was to say "I need a shower…. And some clorox." 'nuff said.

But enough of the small talk. It was time to put the cards in the air. I handed out the chips, BigMike grabbed the half gallon bottle of soco and off we went. The game was simple and cheap. NLHE with .25/.50 blinds. $40 buyin. The game lasts the entire week. You can buy back in, but you can't cash out until we go out for the very last night.

During the game we survived on nothing but beer, booze, and the box of Twix bars the wifey was nice enough to slip in my bag before we left.

Not much to report from the first day of gambooling. Everyone lost money except Landow. And no offense to Landow's playing ability, but he can't really say he out played us. The deck was hitting him in the head like the boobs of G cup stripper from the ancient silicon days. Hard, heavy, and impossible to miss.

When Lewey was dealing, he threw out some amazing boards. Tons of paint, flushes, straights, sets, and the topper was dealing a boat on the board, kings over aces. He was consistent like that the entire trip.

Landow was +80 after a couple hours. I finished the day second in chips having only lost a couple bucks. That's how bad it was.

After poker (and Mike's de-lousing) we packed up and headed back to Irish Kevin's for some Guinness, car bombs, and more shots. Kevin's was packed but we managed to find a couple of table’s waaaay in the back of the bar. But not before being snagged AGAIN by the guy on stage who stops in the middle of his song to announce that Jesus (meaning me) was in the building. Funny, that's a great one. Never heard that one before. He asked me to turn water into Guinness and he was never heard from again.

We had the world's busiest waitress and the most politically incorrect performer on stage.

"Hey! Chinese people! On the sidewalk! Konichiwa bitches! Come back...we have ping-pong!"

If you're easily offended, Irish Kevin's is not the place for you. Me? I can't stop laughing. They are equal opportunity offenders.

After a couple hours of fighting to get drink service, and since Hubukai had just arrived in town, it was decided to move back over the 'other' bar where we had no problems getting drinks and the girls aren't offended if they overhear someone say "Do you think if I offered to pay her $10,000 she'd let me beat her with a fish?"

Then something funny happened. Time stopped having any meaning whatsoever. I spent a good amount of time enjoying my drinks sitting out on the balcony watching the world go by. It seemed every time I went back in, another member of the party was missing until it was down to just Landow and me. Quickly remembering that I had neglected to call BadBlood for a dial-a-shot. I grabbed the two girls nearest the table and hussled them out to the balcony. Why should I do a dial-a-shot when I can have two strippers do it? Naturally there was no answer because I didn't realize that it was very late on a Sunday night. I can't tell you what message they left. Not because I don't want to, but because I really don't remember. BadBlood promises that the call was worthy. We'll just have to wait for him to get the message down onto mp3 format.

For some reason, I decided to make another call. I picked up Landow's phone and became confused. I told him there was something wrong with the clock on his cell phone. "No Al", Landow told me, shaking his head. "It's really past 3:30"


The bar closed at 4am. Here's my little bit of wisdom.



Monday, May 02, 2005

The Beginning 

Going back to work is brutal. Actually having to wear long pants is brutal. Not being able to crack about a bottle by noon is really brutal.

I'm gonna try and get through the trip report day by day before things really become a blur.

Just to set everyone's expectation. There won't be too many pics of half nekkid girls at the bar. The camera's rarely made an appearance during the night because most nights ended in a certain kinda club that really frowns upon guys with cameras.

So I'll be taxing my limited writing skills to paint a picture for you. Hopefully I won't fook it up too much.

I hope you enjoy.


Day 1

Getting up a 4am is brutal. Even without the hangover.

Some moron (hand up) managed to book a 6:30am flight to Key West via Tampa. My reasoning was that the earlier we leave, the more time we have on the island. Logically sound but still not a lot of fun being up that early. Later in the week, I would find out that coming home at 4am is no treat either.

The airport starts out fine. Long lines for the USAir check-in but we buzzed right through the self-check, got our seat assignments and took off for the gate. We were a little worried about Lewey because he wasn't there yet but he's a seasonal traveler.

Turns out it should be Lewey worried about us. Apparently 10 minutes after we checked in, and before we got the gate, USAir found it necessary to cancel our flight from Philly to Tampa without telling us. Of course with Lewey arriving later, he was automatically booked on another flight complete with his seats. That left for us struggling between calling USAir for other flights or standing in line for the not-really-caring desk jockey/bizatch at the gate. We eventually found a flight for 3 of us to Key West via Miami. Of course, when we show up for that flight, they don't have a seat for Landow and the plane is boarding.

Finally I board my flight and I'm pleased to see I'm in an exit row. More leg room for my fast ass. My joy last approximately 75 seconds.

That's when Mr. and Mrs. Offensive Lineman started eyeing up the other two seats in the row. Both going at least 350 bills each. I generously offer to move from my evil center seat. They of course push to the window seat where I spend the next 2 hours wedged between the bulkhead and 300+ pounds of grumpy, bacon smelling, FIRST TIME FLIER. d'oh.

Once in Miami, you'd think all the problems were over. nah. The mouth breathing inbreds working the desk in Philly screwed up our tickets for the connecting flight on American. It took us 2 laps of the entire Miami International Airport, from G to D, plus talking to the worst USAir customer service rep (yeah, that's like picking out the worst BackStreetBoy, they all suck), getting nailed AGAIN for a complete security checkout, we barely made our rubber band powered puddle jumper to paradise.

Note, if you ever fly with Landow, make as many comments such as "Hey, is the engine supposed to do that?" He LOVES that.

When we make our way out of the Key West airport, we have no idea where anyone else is. After all that, we were only 45 later than our original plans. We found out that BigMike made it down there ahead of us. Lewey was coming in a bit later. And Pete was stuck in Fort Myers for HOURS. We know because he kept text paging people with pictures showing him drinking in the airport bar.

No time for effing around. The condo wouldn't be ready for us to take possession for a couple of hours, the rest of the boys would be landing in a couple of hours, why not spend a couple of hours in the bar.

Landow, Bob, and I took off for Duval Street and Irish Kevin's. This would be our regular bar for the next 6 days. Sloppy Joe's, Hog's Breath, etc. All nice bars but nothing beats Irish Kevin's for consistent drinking goodness.

After the rest of the boys show up, we took off for one of the 'gentlemans' clubs across the street. The previous Truman St. Teasers has moved to Duval. Here's where we find the first quote of the week. The sign over the bar at Teasers....

"It is the policy of this establishment to limit credit card transactions to $5,000.00 per day per customer."
So there you have it. Lewey now has a set limit and he knows exactly where it is.

Landow managed to track down a girl on day shift that continuously talks about her 11 grandchildren. ELEVEN! You just can't make that stuff up. Thank god for low lighting. Bob finds a girl that spent the entire time talking about how she was in the drunk tank for 8 hours the previous day. We can see that there’s a good chance of her repeating that feat. Day shift sucks.

Fast forward, fast forward. The night shift showed up, the cops also. Not much to tell other than sleep deprivation and booze and right bastards.

11 hours later, Landow, Lewey, and myself are sitting at a table at Angelina's Pizza (Best. Pizza. Ever. at least at 4am). Landow has his head face down on the table. I'm digging into a piping hot pizza. And Lewey is looking at 6 similarly dressed smoking hot girls (those are his words, my head was swimming and I couldn't get my mind away from the lava masquerading as pizza). Obviously I missed what the girls were wearing because imagine my surprise when I checked the "quote" book the next morning to see Lewey had written....

"I (heart) cocks!"

Lewey! God damn it. What the hell happened?

Then he explains that the 6 hotties strutted in, and quickly back out, of the restaurant all wearing tight fitting t-shirts reading the above quote. I was frightened for a minute.

The next morning would set the standard for how we would greet Landow....

"Did you fall in love with a stripper again?"