david schrott is everywhere

Pittsburgh; Frank Bryan, under the Liberty Bridge.

Posted in Uncategorized by thebreakfastdictator on 11/30/2014

 

Frank Bryan Materials Group

Frank Bryan Concrete

These photos are from July 2012 and October 2014. I love this construction depot. It reminds me of everything Pittsburgh. They filmed a portion of the Dark Knight Rises here. I was thrilled to recognize it during the movie. Pittsburgh is just the best.

November Songs (2b): Letterman’s, Daddy & Aaron Penguins

Posted in Black 'n' Yellow, daily life by thebreakfastdictator on 11/29/2014

Since the week before my wedding, I have been overwhelmed with gratitude. There are these incredibly special people who weave in and out of my life at varying degrees and I am thankful for them in so many wordless ways. For some reason, I thought living in Philadelphia would be a good idea. I didn’t particularly care for it in college, so the logic defies me, but in the spring of 2009, I began living in a series of sublets there. That summer, the Penguins won the Stanley Cup and with a talented young core comprising the roster, there were surely many more to come in the near to immediate future.

In the autumn of that year, I’d bonded with some Steelers fans and we’d watch games at the Fox and Hound (a regrettable place to go for games, but games are games). Spring rolled around and the Penguins were in the playoffs so I assumed that all of those same fans were also Penguins fans. That was unfortunately not the case. I went alone and there may have been ten other people in the entire joint that were there for the Pens’ game. One of them was a tattooed fellow in a baby blue alternate jersey who I ended up making idle chatter with. He was there for game two of the same series and after watching a second game in a row “together”, we exchanged numbers and I entered him in my Nokia candy bar phone as “Aaron (Penguins)”.

We love Aaron Penguins.

We love Aaron Penguins.

We watched most every playoff game together that Spring and more or less parted ways when they were bounced by the Habs in round two.

The following year, I met Ian, and when the playoffs rolled around in Spring ’11, we started watching games with Aaron Penguins. Again, the Pens were bounced by an unlikely opponent and we sulked together in Aaron’s girlfriend’ South Philly rowhome.

It’s now four-and-a-half years later and I am married and no longer live/sublet in Philadelphia. Aaron Penguins came to my wedding. And, yesterday, Aaron Penguins took a train to Lancaster and we caught up with Ian in Kutztown for breakfast. We love Aaron Penguins. I love Aaron Penguins.

Hopefully, the Penguins will soon hoist another Cup and we’ll take a jaunt down the Turnpike to see the Parade.

Blake n Daddy

Blake n Daddy

There is a quaint little town up the jaunt along two-twenty-two. There’s Reading and then there’s Fleetwood and then there’s Moselem Springs then there’s Virginville and after that, there’s Kutztown. It is a place where the hardware store hasn’t been put to death by nameless and faceless big boxes; a place, where, on the day after the day after Thanksgiving, the grey clouds saunter in and drop some well-timed snow showers on this idyllic little place.

It is cold but not too cold. Not yet at least. The snow is still on the ground and has retained is seasonal novelty. Here, they open at 5 am on the weekends. We are early risers but not that early.

There is one long bar and maybe, just maybe four other tables. There is one griddle that can sufficiently cook two omelettes at a time. It is divided in half with a pile of potatoes that smother the other. The wait is long, but this is what is necessary. Food shouldn’t be rushed. Settle in. Drink a cup or two or three or four of coffee. It’s cold outside, so how about a fifth? We came in a party of eight; perhaps four have been served so far. Don’t worry. What’s the rush? We’re here to feast, not to flee.

Letterman's Griddle

Letterman’s Griddle

These plates are plates for fat-men in the making. I’d guess about three pounds each. Who can eat that? Who cares. Just another fork-full. Add some hot sauce. It’ll be okay. This was a train car once, you know?

There is the Maine Omelette, and a Pittsburgh Omelette; smothered, no, covered in cole slaw and fries. Add a ‘mater and you have a Primanti’s inside of an egg or two eggs, but probably three. Well, probably two Primanti’s. Who could eat that?

Most no one finishes but that’s okay. The polite ladies who run the bar offer take home boxes. Everyone differs, but that’s okay too. We come here to eat, to meet, to greet.

We’ll be back because this is our place.

We love it here.

And we are loved here.

 

November Songs (1)

Posted in family by thebreakfastdictator on 11/10/2014

Ten years ago, things were so different here. The city was gritty. There were as many vacant buildings as occupied ones. On the first block of North Prince stood the old Futon Building, full of junk and old frames. We bought some birds and named one Burt Reynolds. He was our favorite; a small white dove bought at Pete’s in the Italian Market of Philadelphia for eight bucks. It seemed a common thing whenever I went to buy birds there. It must have been four or five times at least. Each time, Pete would grab the birds mercilessly and shove them in my dad’s 50 year old bird cage. He had fond memories of that cage. He had a little bird named Blue Boy that he would sing and whistle to in my great-grandparent’s house on top of Milford Street. Those are so remarkably some of his best memories. He talks about his grandparents more fondly than anyone else. Neither of them were alive by the time I was born. By all accounts they were these remarkable Catholic people and when I think of it, my heart is moved toward sadness for having never known them.

They built their house from sticks sometime in the 40’s. Johnstown was peaking then. Somewhere along the line, I took some black and white photos of the house. Someday I’ll get around to finding and scanning them. But probably not. It seems like that’s the way it goes. Good intentions are always just good intentions.

Von Steel

Von Steele

Years ago, on a cold Good Friday, we meandered out of Pittsburgh, 70 miles southeast, to the place where we came from. We got a family history lesson that I’ve long since forgotten but thankfully wrote down in my beat up, handmade journal. He built his house in fifty-nine and has lived there ever since. The old wood-stove still churns in the winter. The crucifixes and icons line the walls. I think the kitchen table was purchased in fifty-nine as well, and if not, not too damn far afterwards. The cabinets almost surely have never been replaced but why would they be? Cabinets are cabinets and if they hold things why do they need replaced?

There are these days where my dad looks and acts more and more like my grandfather and my nephew looks like a mini-my-dad and like he was cut and pasted right out of a photo of me from 1984. I guess I am my dad and Von is my dad and we all are my grandfather and his father and his father’s father and his grandfather’s father; reaching all the way back to Austria now, the details get hazy, like the descent out of the West Virginia mountains on an early autumnal day.

Have you ever been to West Virginia? The stereotypes are true. All of them. And it doesn’t take more than a half mile off the interstate to realize it. People do live in campers. There are dirt roads that lead to nowhere and not everyone is all that friendly. It is a wonderful place to be though; the Second Coming of the American Shire. The sharp green slopes eternally cascade into the horizon line, covered with peak autumn leaves. Find a road, make a right, another right, then a left and you won’t see anyone for hours, maybe days. The beauty and stillness will suck you in. Has anyone even stepped foot here before? It’s hard to believe. It must have been this way for the frontiersmen and their families too. We are the new frontiersman, longing for a simple life and natural beauty.

Nowhere, or Somewhere, West Virginia.

Nowhere, or Somewhere, West Virginia.

Now, we are home and just a few weeks later we find out that my wife is pregnant. If it is a boy, what will he father like? And what will I father like? He will be cut from me and me from my dad and him from Francis and him from Karl and Karl from his father and, are we in Austria yet? I don’t quite think so; I know it’s beautiful there but is it as beautiful as West Virginia? I bet it is and they likely don’t have sprawl. Even the prettiest places have their ugly corners. There’s bound to be a place they call Backwards, but maybe backwards is forwards and progress is a myth.

In high school, I learnt that our last name meant scrapped metal in German. How long does that name go back and what was our grandfather’s grandfather’s grandfather doing? Was he a blacksmith? A junkman? A weapons-maker? A trash-man? There were no automobiles back then, he couldn’t have been the Austrian Henry Ford, but maybe he was. Maybe he was a genius in another way. Or maybe he was a working stiff like the rest of us. Blue collar to blue collar deep into the soul.

The sun is peaking up now and the what’s-left-of-it coffee is getting chilled. There’s a fifty-five mile ride ahead and another blue collar day lurking beneath that low-setting November sun. To-day’s beauty will be roiled by Thursday’s winter preview, but that Austrian husk beneath our flannel will prod us on. So we can father the fathers.