david schrott is everywhere

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.



Kansas City, Your Food is Huge

Posted in daily life by thebreakfastdictator on 10/06/2014

It is one of those autumnal mornings. You know, those morningsThe ones where the clouds roll in, drizzle fades on and off. It’s too warm for a jacket but also, not. The AC is still on most places. The windows fog. Steam swirls from the fresh-poured coffee mug. Caffeine excites the nerves. Never let this morning end. Drink more coffee. It’ll prolong the glory of the morning hours.

City Diner; KCMO

City Diner; KCMO

“We should eat. Find a place, please. I won’t be particular.”

“I found a place. It looks glorious.”

“Perfect. Directions, please?”

The sign on the door reads: We Reserve the Right to Refuse Service to Anyone. Perfect. This is exactly the place.

The barstools are black and the countertop checkered. A man in a fedora and jacket sits by the window fiddling on his phone and drinking coffee. The waitress says he’s been there all morning. A regular? No. Waiting for the Megabus. I wonder where he’s headed and where he came from. He’s got a big smile and a happy countenance; the antithesis of the Northeast.

People here are lovely.

Scrawled all over the white-board walls are names. Hundreds of them, for sure. They’re all names of people who’ve devoured two pancakes. Two, you say? Yeah, just two. But good luck. These babies are 14″ across and an inch deep. Fit that in your belly. One lady ate six. That’s right. Six.

Can you eat six of these? Some lady did, once.

Can you eat six of these? Some lady did, once.

We got chocolate chips in ours. The two of us couldn’t eat one if we tried.

The bacon is thick. Like a piece of ham, almost. The rye bread tastes like rye bread and the omelets leak gooey American cheese. An abundance of Cholula hot-sauce sits on the side. There is never enough hot-sauce. Never.

Two midwestern sweethearts serve us. They can tell we’re from out of town and they shoot the breeze with us. It’s been an hour, at least, since we got here and they’re in no rush for us to leave. We shyly ask if we can take a photo of them, and two rolls of film and an hour later, we think we’re content. We tip almost 100%. Waitresses who are good sports deserve a raise.

Closing time is at two p.m. The servers clean up the table tops and we our camera gear. We are full, but not bloated. Satisfied.

We heard a lot of good things about Kansas City. There’s a giant shuttlecock on a lawn somewhere? A coffeeshop that’s more elitist than anywhere back home? Let us galavant. The grey autumn skies wouldn’t want anything less.


Kansas City: too much city for one state.

Posted in daily life by thebreakfastdictator on 10/05/2014

He wears boots and you can see the blue jeans sneak just below the bottom of the cassock. He chants Saturday evening’s Great Vespers gorgeously. Afterwards, there is a short meet and greet and his red flannel shirt peeks out under his sleeve. An usher named Theodore roams about in striped overalls. He is a convert and has had his hand in many of the parish’s projects. Especially noticeable are the magnificent quilts he made that are hung about the narthex. Our encounter lasts no longer than forty-five minutes but we feel at home already.

St. Basil the Great; KC, KS

St. Basil the Great; KC, KS

Have you ever had coffee that is more than coffee? It is an experience. Down on Main at Fortieth, there’s a place we go on cloudy days, but only cloudy days. It’s better if it drizzles a bit. The waft of coffee grounds rise through your nostrils and a tingle of warmth and comfort envelop your insides. You were made for this; this was made for you. The coffee here is roasted with love and each cup is made by hand. It feels a little 2002 as “Is This It” circles out of the speakers. $3.25 is a lot of a cup of coffee. $3.25 is a deal when it comes in a Pyrex beaker and served on a wooden plate. The donuts are heavenly: deep fried, chocolate & peanut butter; smothered in tiny peanuts. Please don’t let this end.

Someone famous once said “shake it like a Polaroid”. Someone famous didn’t know that that doesn’t process the film any faster and it often leaves a chemical stain at the base of the image. There’s a box full of new Polaroids being made with each stop on the interstate. First in Frackville, then Pittsburgh, then Ohio, and Indiana (complete with a super-weed!), the Land of Lincoln, the Mighty Mississippi, Des Moines and all stops in-between. There is something magical about prints and Polaroids in particular. The medium is the message.

“Look at those clouds. Do you want to stop and take some photos?”

“That sure would be nice.”

Ghost towns are numerous in these parts but they’re sure hard to find. Most of them are covered up with autumnal grass and leaves and maybe even some hayseeds. The late hay is being cut and rolled right about now. Just like a fine cigarette. The massive rolls dot the rolling hills and the gray light and intermittent drizzle rolls off them gentlly. 3200 speed film is grainy; just like the day. Stand in front of that hay roll. We’ll take some pictures while we can.

Oddly Correct; KCMO

Oddly Correct; KCMO

“Did you hear about that guy who found a Ghost Town in the Smoky Mountains?!”

It’s kind-of on the way home. It’d be a great stop. Ironic how we were looking for just that sorta thing and a news story drops like that. There must be something in the October air.

The sun sets a little quicker these days. I love the chill in the air. The smell, too. Last night I went out to the car to grab my hoodie and it smelled like a wood-fire was burning. Football is in full swing and the Royals are in the playoffs for the first time since eighty-five. That’s twenty-nine years. We shoulda stayed up for the Wild Card game at the High Life Lounge. It woulda been a memory.

Don’t get stuck on missed-memories. We’ve made a bunch and there’s lots more good ones to go around. Just don’t forget your coffee or beer.

Wedding Week – Day 1

Posted in Black 'n' Yellow, daily life, Pittsburgh, weddings by thebreakfastdictator on 09/14/2014

I am so insanely lucky. The last weekend of my single life couldn’t have been any better. I have no words to describe the gratefulness that pours from my soul. Seven and a half years ago, I moved to Pittsburgh on a dreadfully cold, sun-splashed February day. It was the day I decided to grow up. It was only fitting that the bookend to that chapter was placed here, my home away from home, in a quaint little cabin a jaunt up 28 and of course, at PNC Park.

In years’ past, I rarely lacked words, but in the recent months, I have typically been rendered speechless. I am finding that words don’t usually do much justice to the things we wish to explain. I only wish I could describe how much these guys mean to me and how a weekend like this helps put that into a sharper focus. I love them so much and without their kindness and friendship and brotherhood, I would not be who I am and I would not be capable of marrying my lovely lady.

The last bastion of bachelorhood has been conquered, in the place where it truly began. A story starts anew this weekend but that one couldn’t have happened without this one. And it is to these guys who I owe so much to. I wish words would do justice to the deepest feelings of thankfulness that my heart wishes to express…

772 Runs Through Eastern Lancaster County

Posted in daily life by thebreakfastdictator on 09/03/2014

The drive from Philadelphia to Lancaster is not all that far. Somehow, though, it always ends up taking longer than it really should. The blue emergency lights were visible a few stop-lights down and we tried to push past them anyways. It was impossible and fluorescent clad firefighters moved us right. Right behind and 18-wheeler and right behind Route 30. I don’t know this road but it winds and dives through the eastern part of the county. The thick late-summer air is uncomfortable and small little memories crack the concrete of long-forgotten summers. Out of nowhere, PV High School is there on the right. Remember summer leagues in dark blue jerseys? The gym was swealty and Nicole brought her friend Sara who I was told would be my true love. Then she wasn’t. Then neither was Nicole.

Remember post-Thanksgiving day basketball games in their monstrous gym? And that break away 3-pointer that I rang in and out that could’ve swung the momentum? Remember thinking how if we could keep up with them we could keep up with Mt Calvary (we couldn’t)? How about stripping the ball from Kyle Byler cleanly and being called for a foul? He tied it at 22. That was the autumn, but the summers just never feel as long as they should. There’s 19 days left of the current one. Drag it out. Embrace it. Revel and roll in it’s warmth and glory.

The exhaust pipe is creaky. The trunk leaks. Everything is chaos in the backseat. A truck is needed but so are other things. This Toyota will do for now. The sky is almost purple to the left and the lightning aches forth from flat colored clouds. Due west is a golden sunset, the color-wheel compliment of purple and we drive right into it. Will there be rain or won’t there? A little. Here and there. Enough to close the sun-roof and the perfect amount to be slightly annoying. Will we ever get home?

The summer comes. The summer goes. The winter comes and the winter stays. This is simply a mystery. One flies and one grinds. It grinds to the point of breaking. Will there be relief or will this misery last eternally? Make some coffee. Turn the heat up. It just keeps getting colder. I can’t feel my fingers, nor my toes. The spasms at my waistline ache from never-ending shivering. There are people who love this and I hate them for it. Why do you love such misery? Let’s sweat a little instead. There is no need for snow, for ice for miserable coldness and eternal blackness. Please, oh summer, I beg you, stay awhile. Stay till December, January, yes, even February. How could we live without you?

she and i visit the 212, $85 breakfasts, i’m a sam-girl & an ode to steichen

Posted in daily life, NYC by thebreakfastdictator on 07/31/2011

We planned on going to NYC well over a month ago. In some ways, it feels like forever ago and in others like five seconds ago. We were texting a few days before our first “date” and I’d told her that I’d never had a really good NYC experience. She rattled off a few things that she loved about the city and I simply said “show me”. She said okay and we planned on a July 30 day trip. Later that night, I told Ian and he told me that planning something that far away with a girl I didn’t really know was a bad idea. Somehow, I knew he was wrong.

Earlier that morning, she and I talked about taking the Bolt or the Megabus to the big city. I found $7 tickets on the Megabus : departure time 2.30am / arrival time 4.30am. We said “Let’s do it!”. In retrospect, that was a ludicrous idea and we both were so glad we didn’t follow through with that initial idea.

She’d heard of a place. A breakfast place called Norma’s. Reservations were key and she sent me the link. Later, during a night of delirious dancing, she remarked that she wanted to go dancing in New York. I love dancing with her and saying “no” wasn’t even an option in my mind. This turned our day trip into an over-night trip. The details of where we’d stay weren’t even considered. We wanted to dance and dance we would.

The Yassos picked us up around 10.30 and we headed north — to Brewerytown. Freeman was throwing a dance party and as mentioned before, we simply don’t say no to dancing. Not now. Not ever. The energy felt a little low and the Yassos were dialoguing rather than dancing so we decided to skip out early to our default dance zone — the 700 Club. We love that place.


We’re dropped at 2nd & Fairmount and she realizes she forgot her ID. The bouncer won’t let us in and we hop a cab back to the G-Ho. As with every other recent weekend, sleep will be on short order.

We wake and who-knows-what-time, head to 30th Street, coffee-up and find the bus stop. Two breezy hours and one new talkative Jewish friend later, we land in the heart of mid-town. We find coffee and a storage space for our bags — which was oh-so-typical-New-York. On the second floor of an obscure 36th street building was a room. A tiny room. In it was a friendly young woman who was slightly scatter-brained and who took and stored our bag for the day. Cost: $6. This was, perhaps, some of the wisest six dollars I’ve ever spent.

Breakfast was out of this world. I was speechless most of our time there. We finished up and realized we weren’t far from Central Park. We made our way over there and found some grass + shade. We read John chapter five and talked for a long long time. And it was good. So good. Our talks give me so many insights into her. It shows me a little more of who she is and how I can learn to love her. I love giving myself to her — whether it’s cleaning up a wine glass she’s broken, carrying her bags for her or any other little gesture that shows her just how much she means to me.

Sam & I were freshman at Drexel to-gether. We were mostly acquaintances during college and then a few months ago we caught up and have been trying to do so ever since. I telephoned him the day before we left and made loose plans to get to-gether Saturday night.

He met us in front of our (remarkable) hostel on 17th. We headed to the Flatiron so I could snap a quick photo of it and then ended up at a bar (Mumbles) on the corner of the block our hostel was on. Times with Sam are marathons. Drinks are ordered in over-abundance and conversation slips from serious to hysterical in seconds. I think we sat down around 7.30 and didn’t leave til Meg had five glasses of wine and well after midnight.

Patricia recommended Pyramid for a night of 80s dancing. Conveniently, it was only a 15 minute walk from the hostel. We walked in and that song that I don’t know that they always play on This American Life was playing. The floor was a little sparse, but just before one a.m. is early in the two-one-two. We survived until just after two and our over-extended bodies simply wouldn’t go anymore. She asked me if I wanted to go and I told her I’d do whatever she wanted; sleep, more than anything, was what she desired.

We arrived at the hostel just before three and crashed in seconds. The sun would come soon and every sweet second of sleep would need to be savored.

The Bolt arrives at 9.45.


21 days

Posted in daily life, philadelphia, polaroid by thebreakfastdictator on 07/19/2011

It’s been 21 days since our first date. But was it even a date? She now admits she was ultra nervous and so was I. Ironically, the restaurant I picked was directly across the street from her apartment. I met her out front and my mind went blank. This is the worst possible thing to happen — I had nothing to say… I mumbled something about my friend Josh loving this restaurant and somehow that put her at ease. Conversation at the table quickly turned easy — the server had to come to us four times before we were ready to order.

Dinner was over all too quickly and we walked awkwardly back to my car. I wanted to see her more, but I didn’t wanna push things. I had no idea what she was thinking, but I did know that I wanted ice cream and that I wanted to keep talking to her on this beautiful late-June night.

Ice cream at Franklin Fountain it is! We walked to the river and talked for who-knows-how-long on Penn’s Landing.

(She has the most beautiful green eyes!!!)

Almost three weeks later she tells me she went home and told her roommate that our date (or whatever-you-wanna-call-it was) was horrible — that she talked too much and that she didn’t expect to hear back from me until we saw each other Sunday at church. I loved every second of that night and against my better judgment, texted her within the hour of walking her home. She kindly obliged and I knew this was headed in the right direction.

Apparently, she noticed me the very first week she came to church (April 10th). She asked the only two people she knew there who I was and she’s wanted to talk to me ever since.


Two weeks later (Easter), I noticed her. We shared a long glance, a look-away, and another long glance before the service started. I never talk to girls I don’t know, but on that day, I knew I had to. I was ready to go say “hello” during Passing the Peace and much to my dismay, I looked back and another young suitor had beaten me to her. Frustration itched inside of me and I kicked myself for not introducing myself sooner. Two days later, I wrote Paul an email about how I thought for sure she’d wanted me to go say “hi” but that I’d missed my chance…

In the following weeks, she was introduced to our group by the other suitor and it seemed they were clicking. Little did I know that all along she was hoping to get to talk to me.

There was the night that Chad and I devised the phrase “up to bat” to describe all the guys going after her and how ludicrous it was. That night, she and I shared a few looks, laughs and eye rolls that got me wondering what exactly might be simmering between us. I couldn’t think it was much of anything, but that if I ever wanted to talk to her down the road I’d need to keep a low profile now.

That was early May.

Two months later, I call her my girlfriend (this is still something that despite the reality of it all, isn’t connecting inside of my brain). We push the borders of delirium while staying up til four, five or six a.m. after hours of dancing. I’ve learned the bus routes to her house and spent untold dollars on cab rides home.

She loves spending time with me and I with her.

I can’t get over the surrealty of this all. And for now, I don’t want to. Where-ever this journey may head is anyone’s guess, but for now, I’ll take her hand and simply enjoy her remarkable company.

alright, alright, just dance.

Posted in daily life, philadelphia by thebreakfastdictator on 07/12/2011

We spent two nights on the Moshulu within a week. Both were DJ DeeJay parties and while most wouldn’t consider him the best of DJ’s, he picks a lineup that is hard to beat and we’re gluttons for the boat dancing punishment. There’s another one in under two weeks now, and we’ll certainly be there.

Davey Keips' Summer Bash

Summer nights are the best nights and they keep getting later and later. 5am is now an acceptable bedtime — weekend or work-night. 7 hours of sleep will get us through two weekend nights and maybe just a little more during the work-week.

She’s started drinking coffee now.

I can’t get over this. Two months ago, me and Chad were joking about all the dudes who were “up to bat”. Slowly, they got demoted to the Minors and one off the cuff comment about lucid dreaming on Memorial Day lead to an email a month later which lead to more emails which lead to a dinner in Olde City which lead to… this.

The surrealty of it all has me wondering if this is really my life.

Yes it is.

I sent her the photo above and made the comment that it made sense that the first photo of us was dancing. She corrected me and said it wasn’t the first photo of us. She sent me a picture from a cookout a few months prior and while she was technically correct, it still wasn’t the first photo of us.

The party, while a really good time, wasn’t what we’d expected. Last time it was an all out dance-war and that never materialized. Midnight had rolled around and people were chatting rather than dancing even though Beat Masta J was spinnin’ beats.

“You wanna go find a club if this doesn’t pick up by midnight?”

“Do you even have to ask?”

“Okay. 700 Club it is.”


A little after midnight, we slide out the side door so as not to catch hell for leaving early, catch a cab on Moyamensing, drop Maggie in Olde City and carry on to Northern Libs. Our cabbie is the first non-immigrant cabbie I’ve ever had in Philadelphia and he complains about then navigates deftly around the Greek Picnic. $17 later we arrive at the corner of 2nd & Fairmount and head upstairs into the faux-living room. It’s under-crowded for a Friday. Fine by us. It’s Motown night and every song is killer. I grab her hand and twirl her, pull her close to me and kiss her right on the dance floor. Did that really happen? Yes, it did.  Ninety minutes pass while feeling like only ninety seconds. The music stops and we head out into the warm summer air. The walk back to her apartment is shorter than expected and we sit in the park on the corner of Front & Chestnut. I wrap my arm around her and we just talk. Two hours and an $11.91 cab ride back to Fitzwater has me in bed, exhausted but not.

What a night.

…and there’s many more to come.

Happy Fourth, 44 minute walks and $12 Cab Rides

Posted in daily life, philadelphia by thebreakfastdictator on 07/05/2011

I take her hand to walk her through the monster crowd on the parkway. It’s not the first time but it feels so good for her fingers to interlock with mine. Our palms are sweaty and we loosen our grip to re-adjust. I squeeze hand tighter and pull her through the crowd. I look back to make sure she’s okay. She is and she smiles and we keep going. I love every second of this.

The light is beautiful around Logan Circle. The sky is a gradient of dark blue to light pink, spotted with orange clouds. The warm summer light reflects off the white pebbles around the circle and makes her face glow. She looks beautiful and we walk aimlessly around the circle, paying attention to nothing other than what the other has to say.

A little over two hours later we sprawl out with some friends along Kelly Drive. The fireworks explode overhead and we lock hands again. The weather is perfect and this night is amazing.

Happy Birthday, America.

The Moshulu party is winding down and everyone’s bailed on us. Zeke’s around somewhere but who knows where he’s gone after that four-loco. She needs a water and we head to the bar. She drinks it in about three seconds and we hit the floor together. I take her hand and spin her. The music slows and I wrap my arms around her waist. We put our foreheads together and soak in the music and breathe the hot summer air. I wouldn’t wanna be anywhere else.

We walk back to her apartment and find Zeke a cab. There’s a park caddy corner to her block and we head there and lie in the grass. Exhaustion overtakes us and we barely say a word. We don’t need to. The night has spoken for itself.

It’s 3am now and I walk her home. Fourty-four minutes later I end up on my doorstep. The sun’ll be up in under an hour. Sleep hard. The morning comes fast.