david schrott is everywhere

RIP Pap, May your memory be eternal.

Posted in Uncategorized by thebreakfastdictator on 07/26/2016

My Grandfather: 4.6.2007

Schrott – Francis K., “Frank”, 87, Geistown Borough, went to be with the Lord on July 24, 2016 at Memorial Medical Center. Born on December 1, 1928 in Reading Mines, Somerset County, PA, son of Francis E. and Catherine A. (Betts) Schrott. Preceded in death by his parents; 1st wife, Ann (Ramach) Schrott; 2nd wife, Frederica I. (Giles) Schrott and a sister, Sister Monica E. Schrott. He is survived by his loving children, David W. Sr., Quarryville, PA, Matthew P., Geistown Borough, Frances B. Figard, Windber, and Catherine R., wife of Edgar O. Begazo, Columbus, OH; grandchildren, David Jr., Anna, Lydia, Seth, and Sarah, Therese, Nathaniel, Patricia and Monica, and 11 great grandchildren. Frank was a 1944 graduate of Johnstown High School. He was a US Army Veteran serving during the Korean War with the 101st Airborne “Screaming Eagles”. Frank received the Good Conduct; National Defense, Korean Service, and the United Nations Service medals. Frank retired from Bethlehem Steel after 37 years of service. He was a member of St. Benedict Catholic Church and the Menoher Post #155 V.F.W. Frank enjoyed building model planes and trains, fishing and watching the Steelers and NASCAR. He loved gardening and will be remembered for starting his vegetables by seed indoors. Friends will be received from 3-7 p.m. on Friday at the Harris Funeral Home, 500 Cherry Lane, Richland, where Vigil for the deceased will be held. Funeral Mass will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday at St. Benedict Catholic Church, Geistown, Fr. David S. Peles, Pastor. Committal will be at St. Joseph Cemetery, Geistown with military rites conducted by Menoher Post #155 VFW Ritual Team. The family suggests contributions be directed to St. Benedict Catholic Church, 2310 Bedford Street, Johnstown, PA 15904 in memory of Francis.


Memorial Day

Posted in Uncategorized by thebreakfastdictator on 05/30/2016

Wayde & Uni, Ankeny Iowa

So the summer of 2016 has begun! What a great time of year. This weekend was just unbearably hot, which is exactly how I like ’em. We just got back from Iowa a few weeks ago and it got me to thinking about my first trip to Iowa, which is now almost ten years ago. Ten!

2006 was this oddly pivotal summer for me. I wasn’t doing much photography (for pay), I wasn’t doing much drywall; I think there was about a 52 day stretch where there was no drywall work. We watched a lot of World Cup, smoked a lot of cigarettes, went cliff jumping at the Delta quarry as often as we could and I meandered around the midwest in my VW GTI listening to The Format & General Sherman (how I could afford to do that without working is anyone’s guess).

This was the summer that Prince Street Cafe was under construction and when Square One was really the only spot downtown to hangout. One night we meandered around the city in the rain and smoked under the awning of the Lancaster Futon Building, wondering what was being built behind the brown-papered-windows. So much has changed since then.

I drywall (and paint) mostly every day. I still barely take photos for pay, and hardly take them at all. Wayde got married & has 3 kids; I got married & have one. As a result of my first trip, Zach married a girl from Iowa!

That summer was so crazy. It set the path for so many future events. Who knew…?



McDonald’s Sign, Gone

Posted in B&W Photography, Uncategorized by thebreakfastdictator on 05/23/2016


When I was first getting interested in photography, my Dad told me that there was this sign on Columbia Avenue at a McDonald’s. It was one of the old school arches. He said I should take a photo of it before it gets taken down (this was the late 90s). I never did until just a few days before it was taken down (around April 5th this year). I’m glad I did. I’ll miss this sign.

(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?


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.






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.