david schrott is everywhere

Timothy Becker

Posted in Uncategorized by thebreakfastdictator on 09/23/2018


One dark February night in 2007, I attended a little gathering in the basement of the In The Blood Tattoo Shop on Carson St in the South Side neighborhood of Pittsburgh. There, I met this long bearded fellow named Peter and eventually when spring blossomed out of that gloomy winter, I happened to leave my little Nokia phone in his car. When I went over to his house to pick it up, I met his older brother Tim and the legendary Matt Bell.

Tim was a student at Pittsburgh Theological and we had many conversations about Christianity. I was ultra-Reformed/Puritan in my thinking then and he constantly challenged it with more ancient ways of seeing the world. Years later, when I first visited an Orthodox church, I called Tim and bluntly asked him – you act like an Orthodox; why aren’t you Orthodox?

In those intervening years, we had many interactions; always charitable and always faithful to the Truth. I did some photos for Tim’s study groups, which eventually became the House of St Michael at the Union Project. And then  a few months after I was christmated, his entire family was received into the Church and they moved back to Philadelphia.

He visited me once in Lancaster around 2015 and I last saw him this April at a gathering for the St Basil spring lecture in East Stroudsburg. Then yesterday, he suddenly was with us no more. I can’t even fathom this. He was someone so close, but yet so far. After I moved away from Pittsburgh, we only spoke or saw each other on miscellaneous occasions. And now, those have been put to an end. Though we know it’s not, Death seems so final. Come Lord Jesus, Quickly.


The Earth is Flat / Hobbits are Real

Posted in Uncategorized by thebreakfastdictator on 08/03/2018


The nihilism of the modern age has pressed so hard into many of us that meaning has been subdued, even squashed out of life. The individual pursuit of pleasure in all forms dominates all Western thinking. It is a horrific and meaningless way to live; the embodied form of Secular thinking, which can be traced back at least to the Reformation, and at least a little beyond it. A few months ago, I attended a lecture by the Orthodox icon carver Jonathan Pageau. And a few months before that, I’d been texting with some friends about the flat earth. My brother in law was in the thread and he kept poking at the idea that the Earth is spherical because he doesn’t seem to experience it as spherical – it appears to be “flat”, so why can’t one say it’s flat. He was certainly on to something.

These strange anti-intellectual groups like the flat earth society have risen up in recent years, but they don’t come out of a vacuum. There is a reason such strange wonders are being pondered upon. People are tired of meaninglessness. Modernity obscures the enchanted. Humanity is so disconnected from a true way of life that we cease to see the beauty in it. Our technology has purposely obscured it. A few years ago, I came across this essay and was quite moved by it. I am even moreso today. What is technology other than the tool to hold back chaos? Or, rather, what should it be? We have made it more than that and now our world suffers under the ecological impact of our insistence on  absolute control of the natural world. But it simply cannot happen. Nature will fight back and it will overtake us. We are only beginning to see the limits of our frailty as global temperatures continue to rise. A little humility is coming our way.

But what does this have to do with the flat earth and hobbits? Few works of the modern age are more true than Tolkien’s. But what do you mean that Tolkien’s works are true – are they not fiction? How can the earth be flat when we’ve known for centuries that it is mechanically spherical? These, of course are metaphysical questions. Meaning is more important than fact. And this is what these crazy flat earthers are aiming at; to bring meaning and enchantment back into view. It’s quite possible that they’re mostly unaware of this, in fact, it’s almost a certainty. However, this is what is happening. The idea of a flat earth is a rejection of nihilism, scientism and absolute rationalism and even post-modernity in a backwards sort of way. And thank God for that, for we all need a little more beauty and enchantment in our day to day existence.

black coffee in the afternoon, baby

Posted in Uncategorized by thebreakfastdictator on 03/07/2018

Now that i’ve made a concerted effort to write every day about something, it is really hard to want to sit down and do it.

The second cup of coffee is never quite as good as the first as the first is never quite as good as what I remember coffee tasting like. So, what does coffee taste like? Or, at least, what does good coffee taste like? Who gets to define good? Is everything subjective? Is a complex Ethiopian better than Maxwell House with peppermint creamer? And what makes it better? There is a joke amongst friends that whenever I get a Starbucks (mostly out of convenience) that goes like this : “they call this coffee, but it doesn’t taste like coffee.” So back to the question that continues to befuddle: what does coffee taste like? and/or what does good coffee taste like?

Maybe it tastes like cold winter days on the South Side of Pittsburgh. Those oh-so-grey never-getting-above-twenty-degree days in the middle of February are just brutal. There is ice and snow and slush and dirt and volkswagens pushed sideways into parking spots in the middle of the night. Maybe good coffee tastes like that white hot Americano from the beehive and maybe it tastes like nothing more than that. Maybe it tastes like the longing for a deep community that is tangible and elusive and never-quite-yet all at once. Maybe the taste is embedded into the grain of the film and the binary of the digital file that clank, clank, clanks out of the shutter. What if it is still in there? Can it ever possibly emerge from the fixer?

If one takes a drive from Pittsburgh to Bloomington and then on to Des Moines, maybe then it tastes like hazelnut; hazelnut is the locus of all interstate coffee songs. It is Dunkin Donuts, the one in Richmond too where maybe a little bit of the North can be found, if only for about three minutes.

And so, here we are going back deep into the past to penetrate these deeper flavors of coffee and we neglect the all important question: what will good coffee taste like in the future? 

Tomorrow, coffee will taste like today. Or at least some glimmer of today. Today, the snow is coming and there will be paint applied to a wall that was black. Like coffee. In the afternoon. While smoking a hand rolled cig in center city Philadelphia.

catechized by pop music

Posted in Uncategorized by thebreakfastdictator on 03/06/2018

Yesterday, instead of delving into hours of lengthy, mind taxing podcasts on heavy topics, I listened to some pop music. I really do think that having had listened to so much of this from ages 29-35 had a net negative effect on my maturation and development. In 2009, I had a pretty mundane existence in Lancaster and I became unsatisfied with it. I wanted to make good on my photography degree and a faster paced version of life. I wanted to let loose and find excitement (which is a pathetic drug). So, I moved to Philadelphia that spring. I left behind some really good friends and my family (who seemed exasperated by yet another move) to live in a tiny little sublet on Titan Street near the Italian Market. Later that year, a friend put on Party in the USA one night in the car and I was instantly hooked on pop. It was all I listened to all the time. I started to go to clubs. My life revolved around this trashy music that was obsessed with youth, immature behavior, destructive tendencies, etc.

In 2012, I read James KA Smith’s “Desiring the Kingdom”. In it, he puts forward arguments regarding cultural liturgies and how they form us. It changed the whole lens through which I see the world. In my early 30s (!!!) I was regressing to some sort of college kid and maximizing childish behavior — and i wondered why I couldn’t get a date! The music I was daily pouring into my brain was forming a worldview that was literally dominated by toxic themes. And I willingly embraced them. Instead of looking forward, I was looking backwards while pretending to look forward. 

I have this tendency to look backwards while engaging in severe nostalgia. It is an effort to minimize the effort needed to adjust and mature. And in some sense, it seems to be an act of self-preservation — “if I could only go back to _______, then all would be well in the world.” I mummify a previous version of myself inside of myself. Then, I don’t have to deal with the present. I can look back, but looking back is senseless and self-destructive. I can only move forward. I can bargain with the future.

On the topic of photography — it comes up a lot in general conversation. I’m no world-beater in terms of photographic skill, but there is something there. I’m more than capable. It took me a long time to accept this. Again, it was an act of self-preservation because, if in the past, I could say that I wasn’t skilled, then that accounted for the fact that I couldn’t monetize my work. Well, that’s not an accurate picture of reality and it’s time to adjust that.

Beauty is objective and the resentment for traditional beauty continues to grow. I am un-studied enough to know that I don’t know when this resentment began, but I could at least manage an assumption that it came about with WWI. But there is objectivity and in a world that is dominated by chaos and lack of real, functional order, it needs to be put forth. I can contribute to this. I am capable and instead of hoarding my skills and letting them deteriorate, it’s time to move forward, out of the muck and self-destructiveness and do my best to let light shine through me.

the path forward

Posted in Uncategorized by thebreakfastdictator on 02/17/2018


There are these deep resentments inside of me that I’ve found by un-earthing just a little bit below the surface. And there are these tendencies and trends in my life that I don’t understand how they came to be. Many days, I act like a 37 year old infant and it struck me the other day – this is not normal for a properly developed man of my age. I dig down in my memory and wonder what happened that kept me in such a child like state? I don’t know, but I’ve always had younger friends – when I was in college, I’d come home for the summer and play whiffle ball with kids who were in high school and middle school. In HS, I always got a long with the class that was one year younger than me than with my class. And even now, so many of my friends are younger and single… what in the world?

I was thinking about my earliest competent photos and so many of them were laden with a deep resentment, even hatred of women (I’m assuming because I always had trouble with dating, but it could have been something else!). Those resentments faded over time and women became idolized – the zenith of humanity, sinless in everything they did, while men themselves were more lowly of a creature. (There is a lot to be said for this given our current political moment!). I wonder how these ideas became so powerful in me.

I was an arrogant photographer and it was bourne out of the fact that I knew I was skilled and saw those others who were lesser skilled as somehow less human. And then when I wasn’t able to secure jobs, my arrogance turned to self-loathing. But now, I can see that I was skilled and that I was not a good marketer and that there is something to be done about both. I’m never going to be a professional photographer, but I can do my best to bring a little beauty to the world that is so full of apathy and nihilism. So that is the goal. And it is the goal to see men and women differently too. Women are not perfectly benevolent and men are not perfectly tyrannical. There is balance to both of those extremes and to live in the extremes is to give in to the poison of the trendy Satanic lie that women are more than men.

And so here we go.

all of the big & little beautiful things in life

Posted in B&W Photography, family, Uncategorized by thebreakfastdictator on 12/14/2017






some tree-scapes and a hurricane on expired pan-f

Posted in B&W Photography, Uncategorized by thebreakfastdictator on 12/13/2017




on beaches and bridges, the grainiest november.

Posted in Uncategorized by thebreakfastdictator on 11/22/2017


there was a sleek (sleak) movement over those grainy grey ripples. we tossed those rocks high in the air and then not so high and then lower and lower till they barely scraped the surface of the river. and the stick was swung harder and harder till it snapped in half because of sheer (shear) torque. find another one and let the game re-begin and re-peat until there is a winner.

fish flop down around the bend while those rocks crack the water’s covering. if you hit it from high enough up, it feels like concrete; it is concrete. at something like 96 feet, you can barely poke the surface; but if you skinny out like a pencil then maybe you have a chance. i’ve seen the townies do it. and more than once. drunk.

there was once this little white dove pigeon. we called him burt reynolds. no one can remember why, but he sat quietly in his cage on the fourth floor of the futon building. we called him forth for some photographs and he produced. at the end of his night he made his truest appearance and it was sung just oh-so-quietly; a whole second at f 2.8. november songs are sung quietly, they say. burt

we can’t access that place anymore. it is full of commercial things and there is a trendy coffee shop below, much the opposite of the one of the great peanut butter scam. that happened damn near 114 years ago, but it’s famous in these parts; so famous it still crackles from the speakers if you listen carefully. really carefully. 

the coffee is still hot there, even at 11pm. the symbolism is latent, so latent it’s intuitive. there is this other one with a watering-can and an upside-down umbrella and a wind-blown scarf (blown gently). it was pointed out well after the fact, but there it is. right in front of you, so quiet you almost miss it.

and when you turn to the right there’s a fuzzy bridge. it’s drenched in grain. that painty painted grain you might see when the winter’s been harsh a few too many years in a row. it starts to rust, then it starts to peel and the sing-songy rhythm of its smoothness starts to ruffle, like burt did when we tried to pry him from his cage. it flakes to the surface below and then one day, when the spring brings new warm air, there is a gaggle of men climbing and jostling for position to clean it up. and by the time the cold air returns, so has the smoothness. just like it was the day that bridge was layed. it’s not fuzzy anymore, it’s just that… that…that…the picture is a little out of focus. the camera may have been dropped or bumped or the wind blew it a little to hard.

one second at 2.8.




Callie’s first train ride

Posted in philadelphia by thebreakfastdictator on 07/14/2017


We took the train to Philly back in May. Trains will forever and always be better than cars. I love Kodak Tri-X.

Here are some film photos from the spring of 2016.

Posted in B&W Photography by thebreakfastdictator on 06/24/2017