Steve Cohen is a dear friend, and fellow Gunn alumnus, and an Oracle staffer, Stanford grad, son of a famous math professor. He helped edit my ballot pamphlet statement, as he did in 2009.
He is an avid poker player and we talked today about poker mindset vis a vis the election and Palo Alto politics per se.
He recommends a book called Cowboys Full by McManus — “cowboys” being poker slang for “kings”. The book has a chapter about U.S. politicians and their proclivity. I said that Richard Nixon was a poker player and Steve added that Nixon financed his first campaign thru poker winnings.
Palo Alto has a poker champion named Phil Hellmuth. I spoke to him briefly this afternoon, although, in truth, he was more in the mode of fending off approaches from fans than schmoozing. If he was impressed by anything I said, he had a poker face and did not show it. Of course, if he really wanted to be alone, he might not have worn his 3Bet gear. (Steve said that he wore that in a hamburger commercial, as well; Steve is raising me).
“Palo Alto needs some poker mentality on its dias. A little math, a little moxie, a litte luck,” I said.
“You are preaching to the chorus,” World Champion Phil Hellmuth replied. I gave him my card and suggested that he read “Plastic Alto” and then might possibly vote for me come Nov. 6.
In truth, I was bluffing. I have read about poker, and discussed it with Steve, but am not a poker player. If, for instance, Phil Hellmuth put up a $10,000 stake and had up to 12 of us candidates for City Council play off for prize money, I doubt I would win. Maybe with a little coaching from Steve, and about three weeks to prep, I could make a dent; that’s how I think, the liberal arts / lifelong learner / Dartmouth guy / Titensity mind-set.
I am more about “All The Kings Men” by Robert Penn “Red” Warren than Cowboys Full, although even here, I am bluffing a little: I have James D. Hart’s companion to literature and have not, as I keep claiming I will eminently do, re-read the text. I also have, in my pocket, Sherwood Anderson’s “Winesburg, Ohio”. I have a pocket pair of good books to read, by November 4, if you will. (And definitely don’t cheat by watching the movies. Or if you do, the Gregory Peck as Jack Burden version is significantly better than the Sean Penn re-make).
Like me here in the 94304, Jack Burden is “a newspaperman and ‘student of history’ in search of the truth”(Hart, 1986, page 13). In “Winesburg…” from 1919, George Willard is a young reporter who also sought truth: “It was the truths that made the people grotesques…The moment one of the people took one of the truths to himself, called it his truth, and tried to live his life by it, he became a grotesque and the truth he embraced became a falsehood.” This post is about poker, but most of my cards are books. (Sherwood Anderson, p. 6)
When I am not pondering the poker, vote, I am making more progress with the votes of: basketball, arts, elderly, Gunn graduates, Dartmouth grads, residentialists.
Besides potentially a crash course of poker, when I am not campaigning or working on my day job (music management and concert production — free show with Taylor Ho Bynum at Lytton Plaza, September 20, 1 p.m. Saturday — I hope to swim my laps 20 more times by November 4.
Although by some estimation I am trailing in this race, I hope to crack it on the river.
(Phil Hellmuth poker book)
(All the Kings Men)
(James D. Hart Oxford Companion to American Literature; there is a sixth edition, 20 percent more pages than my 5th:
edit to add: according to either James McManus or his readers/reviewers, President of the United Status (POTUS) Barack Hussein Obama also plays a little poker. McManus teaches writing at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Sean Penn plays Willie Stark, the Broderick Crawford role, while first John Ireland and then Jude Law play the character I identify with, the reporter Jack Burden. I was thinking of his portrayal of Atticus Finch some 12 years later when I mentioned Peck, who was in “To Kill A Mockingbird” a book by Harper Lee made into a movie, which was being taught at Gunn this fall and read by my friend Sam Rothstein the football star. K? I’m out.