david schrott is everywhere

(No Title)

Posted in Uncategorized by thebreakfastdictator on 11/24/2015

There was a house, there, on West James Street. It was full of ash and broken glass. The rear side window opened neatly and anyone could get in at anytime for anything they wanted. But who would want?

from-prince-st-garage

North, On Prince.

It was cheap. And someone bought it. An array of earthyish colors cover the facade and the Sun Diner has since closed. They cut hair there now and next to it was a consignment bridal shop turned tattoo parlor. Wonder what it’ll be in twenty more years.

Out back was some boxy old warehouse, caddy corner from the driveway. It’s gone now and lofts have been built in the other boxy old warehouse that’s still standing. Money has come to the city.

There used to be these spaces around. Run down, but oh-so-gorgeous in their lead-paint-covered kinda way. The old futon building, where Burt Reynolds nestled in his four-sizes-too-small-cage on that old window sill overlooking the theatre. Our city was too crowded. So we came here. We enjoyed the space and made photographs on cold November days. The burrito shop brought us back to life. December brought its gray-dark days that drizzled along into the hazy mish-mash of one more winter to be endured. The coffee is hot; but never hot-enough, even if it’s boiling. It is the only thing to look forward to. Well, that and a new box of film arriving in the Post. It is beautiful, and cheap. Two whole dollars a roll. They say it’ll be obsolete soon. They know nothing; digital cameras put photos on floppy discs. Who wants to develop a floppy disc?

Sansom Street is dim and paradoxically incandescent. Rain sputtered from the orange sky and the warm yellow light wafted out of rows of windows. The coffee is still brewing and the spine on this book is still un-broken. It’s too hard to settle in though; the chairs are spewn about and the atmosphere warbles. Does no one care for this place? This book isn’t that good anyways.

The long gray-ish halls of Academic were full of upperclassmen; intimidating. Elevator to 5. Over and over and over and over. Endless days painting perfect grey squares. Not finished? Take them home. Paint for hours, fourteen to be exact.

Elevator to 4. Finally. Remember the day we made pin-hole photos? It was snowing. Grain was everywhere. Even on the photo paper.

 

 

 

 

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2014

Posted in Fine Living Lancaster, Personal Work by thebreakfastdictator on 02/23/2015

5 January 2008; Pittsburgh > Richmond.

Posted in Pittsburgh, Pudendal Nerve Entrapment by thebreakfastdictator on 01/05/2015

Seven years ago today, me and my Dad packed up a U-Haul on the corner of 44th and Hatfield in Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville Neighborhood. We left a chilly, drizzly, grey Pittsburgh and arrived in warm, sunny Richmond a few hours later. This still bothers me. My decision making was so insanely poor; but of course, being an Uber-Calvinist / Determinist at the time, it wasn’t my decision, it was God’s. He made me do it. I couldn’t help it. Blah blah blah.

44 & Hatfield, 5 December 2007.

44 & Hatfield, 5 December 2007.

Richmond seems so hazy in the rear view. It was mostly this miserable experience. I couldn’t find work there, so I was commuting to Pittsburgh once a month, Lancaster a few times and even Philadelphia on occasion. It was this locus of sleep, eternal coffee, Papa John’s Pizza and a lot of confusion.

Today, I am thankful for where I am and for what Richmond taught me, but there is still this paradoxical sense of regret and loathing of that place. Pittsburgh was the place I learned to be an adult; it was this formative world shedding my mid-20s adolescence, Richmond seemed to be the re-embodying of that; making random and immature decisions. Two steps forward, three back, I suppose. But that’s begging the myth of progress question…

As these milestones of immaturity pass further and further into the distance, I wonder what choices I make today or yesterday or the day before will accompany the Richmond decision as a fellow head-scratcher. I guess I’m not that worried about it. The thirties are so different from the nomadic twenties.

Here we are and here we will be. Here we are and here we will stay. Be content; there is wisdom in rootedness.

Hey, See ya later 2014, here’s a Superweed.

Posted in Farm Life, Personal Work by thebreakfastdictator on 12/30/2014
Superweed; Shirley, Indiana

Superweed; Shirley, Indiana

I didn’t post anything in December and December is almost over, so here ya go. It’s a superweed in Shirley, Indiana. We took this on our honeymoon. I started this blog almost 5 years ago. Crazy how fast five years goes. About as quick as a superweed over takes a field of soybeans, I guess.

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.

Superweeds, Central Missouri

Posted in Farm Life by thebreakfastdictator on 10/24/2014
Soybeans overrun by Superweeds; Central Missouri

Soybeans overrun by Superweeds; Central Missouri

A few months ago, I heard about superweeds; these herbicide resistant weeds that were no longer able to contained by Monsanto’s Roundup product. They were supposedly taking over GMO soybean and cornfields in the Midwest. Since reports of these weeds kept appearing in less than always-trustworthy activist posts in my Facebook feed, I was a bit skeptical. Then I saw a piece in the Des Moines Register on them. Fascinating. These beasts were real. So when me and my wife took a road-trip honeymoon that included many Midwestern states, superweeds became my three week long obsession. This is from a soybean field in central Missouri, about two and half hours west of St. Louis (home of our favorite poison manufacturer, Monsanto!). These weeds are obscenely ugly and overtook a large swath (about 20 foot wide section, hundreds of feet long) of the edge of the field. Many of the weeds were taller than I was and were so dense they couldn’t be walked through. As a local farmer-friend said to me “This is nature’s way of telling us the Monsanto way doesn’t work.”

I couldn’t agree more.

round and round fluorescent lights

Posted in family by thebreakfastdictator on 10/18/2014

Floating above the dining room table, the icon of Jesus and the broken cuckoo clock spins green light out of a fluorescent tube. It flickers from time to time. It has been a long four hours on the turnpike and exhausted children zoom up and bang on the creaky old screen door. She always opens the door the same way — peeking around the curtains through the window just to the right of the door. Warm yellow light floods onto the splintered green porch. It probably hasn’t been painted since the seventies. Those antsy kiddos pour through the door, to the playroom, and dump railroad tracks and Lincoln Logs all over the floor. This is what they’ve been waiting for for months.

tubes. fluorescent tubes.

tubes. fluorescent tubes.

Now there’s a new tube. It’s on the second floor, just like the first. It’s the dining room too and there are icons of Christ. The cuckoo clock is missing. Don’t worry. We’ll find one. Do you remember playing baseball in the crabgrass-backyard or watching Pirates game on channel 8? There were only twelve channels but they were so exotic. There were those vines up the hill in the neighbor’s yard. We swung and swung and swung on those. Those colored bottles on top of the blue-brick wall disappeared around the same time.

Years back, there were 11,000 in Cambria City; now, they’d be lucky to clear 1,000. The mini rivers powered the steel mills. Plumes of smoke and steel city iron motored this little city in the valley. Just before 1890, the flood pummeled everything alive. And look at it now: the pride of Cambria County. Will these fat days ever end?

A small brown Dodge pickup winds east. Five days later, it heads west. And on and on; and on and on. Soon, the repetition stops. One hundred eighty two miles separate the two dots. Relocation is permanent. We’ll visit lots, though. The glowing tube, seen through old windows, will be our first greeter.

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.