Hooked on Writing

I got my first byline in 1999 when I sent an article to June Field at Poker Digest Magazine and she said Yes, I will buy this. And do send more. Sometimes when I’d get a check in the mail from June, I’d look at it, and I’d hold it in my hands, and I’d get a feeling, so familiar, from so long ago. A sense of unfairness. I’d look at that check and I’d think man, this just isn’t fair. It’s not right.

Flash back to 1981, at three o’clock in the morning, cold, in a dumbster-lined alley, in Whitehall, Ohio, behind The Watering Station. To me, and the people inside, The Watering Station was a palace of fine drink and music. To anyone else it probably looked like a dive bar full of drunk rednecks.

I had just played a gig there, a fluky, thrown-together affair, with me on drums, my cousin A.J. on acoustic guitar and vocals, and some guy we had just met on harmonica. A.J. and I had done plenty of campfires but we’d never played together on stage before. Because of A.J.’s charisma (and great voice and looks!) everyone in the place had a fantastically good time and the cash register rang and the owner hired us on the spot to play every weekend indefinitely. We booked the gigs, and just like that, we were professional musicians, and loving every beat of it.

We traded in the harmonica player for a bass player, and we added a real guitar player, and despite all the usual warnings, we went ahead and quit our day jobs, and within a couple of years we were turning down gigs, we were that popular.

Over the years, we saw a lot of alleys at 3 a.m. When it came time to divvy up the cash, out back, next to our truck, we’d often replay the scene from the very first time, in our first alley, behind The Watering Station in the winter. We’d huddle around, like hobos around a flaming barrel, rubbing our grimy little mitts. We’d eagerly count and distribute the cash. We’d look at that money in our hands, and we’d look at each other, and we’d say, out loud sometimes, otherwise to ourselves, man, this just isn’t fair. It’s just not right. It’s not fair to have this much fun, and get paid for it. And that’s how I feel about writing poker articles.



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