Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Sugar Theory

MY Sugar Theory. Time tested, and even peer reviewed, the theory holds true.

You see, for the past 8 and change years, I've had jobs that require driving, and lots of it. Mostly in the Tri State region of PA/NJ/DE, Connecticut, New York, but also within random states at random times all around Americana.

And I enjoy my coffee.

Dunkin', Starbucks, McDonald's. The triple entente of a lonely traveler's brain fuel, in the form of that oh so essential streaming hot black liquid. And I like mine BLACK.

At the same time, I get to see the good, the bad, and the ugly of the American Experiment every day. And one doesn't necessarily need to be a Harvard sociologist to determine what constitutes good, bad, and ugly.

There are not so subtle signs of extreme affluence in the posh gated cul-de-sacs of Greenwich just as much as there are, if I may quote Dave Chapelle, "all the symptoms of the ghetto" in Newhallville New Haven.

And here's where my coffee/sociology connect.

If you want to get the most accurately scientific gauge on what type of area you're in, look no further than the Sugar Theory.

To test, simply pull up to a Dunkin' drive through, and request a medium BLACK coffee.

If the next and last response from the order taker is simply a quick "$1.06, drive up," and you get exactly what you want, then you are in Suburbia.

But if you ask for black, and you get nothing but confusion, or even shock, or even simply feedback like, "Wait so you want a coffee with no sugar OR cream right," well then my friend, you are in the hood.

And there are levels too.

For if all you get is that question for clarification, you might just be in a transitioning blue-collar, slightly-seedy area.

If you get shock, surprise, and disbelief at even the thought of requesting a coffee without even AT LEAST one sugar packet, you are in a straight up Tier 1 boarded up ghetto.

And if you get shock, surprise, and disbelief at your request for black, then clarify more than once before driving up, then drive off and take your first sip and nearly slip into diabetic shock because there must be 7 sugars and 4 creams in it, you are probably in the South End of Hartford.

Like I was, when I finally was inspired to pen this very entry about my trusty Sugar Theory.

See for yourself.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The New West, Updated

Ok so I'm kinda finally getting over the fact that Delaney's is gone, and in its place, which I'm forced to see everyday, is a big old figurative and literal empty space.

And right across the street from this miserable lot where Delaney's once proudly stood is a place I've talked a lot of shit about in previous posts. You see, my neighborhood of Westville is a nice, safe, revitalized place complete with two breakfast cafes, a few coffee shops, yoga studios, and art galleries. Yet only two bars, now, at least.

We have now only two watering holes; Stone Hearth, which serves exquisite delicacies yet is more akin to a high end hotel bar, and The New West, pictured above.

Classy, it is not. Not the kinda place I'd take a hot date to.

But it is indeed growing on me.

I suppose any dive bar you happen to live so close by to eventually does.

Recently though I've been stopping in on my way back from downtown, a pit stop if you will, where I can get a few night caps before the 50-yard commute back home. And let me tell you, I've been having a blast.

This past Sunday after hanging out with friends downtown watching my Eagles get smacked silly, I hit the New West. I met some very interesting characters.

Even got my palm read, by someone I'm pretty sure was no palm reader.

And hey, they have Rebel IPA on tap! In fact, their selection is quite impressive actually.

This could be the start of a beautiful friendship.

Cheers to the New West Cafe.

Monday, November 3, 2014

For years now, since, you know, I started caring about my general health, I've been a straight sucker for these natural, liberal-ass, organic food markets. I mean, if you can afford it, who wouldn't want to eat food free of poisonous chemicals?

Any reader of my previous posts knows how I spent my summer of 2014: quite lavishly. I had a shitload of overtime from work and only one day off per week. I ate like a king, and drank like a fish. But the OT eventually began to dwindle, so I decided to chill out on the mahi mahi wraps, gourmet burgers, and the pounds of fresh oysters (and that was only lunch). Then my favorite bar Delaney's randomly burned down, which obviously coincided with a sharp decline of IPA beer-filled evenings.

So far, this Autumn, I've replaced the Summer of Abundance with, well, a little less beer, natural food products, and at least one vegan meal per day, at quite possibly the only place in CT where eating this healthy can be so amazingly delicious...

Edge of the Woods Market.

For years I drove past it, for it's located in a non descript little plaza in the middle of that somewhat sketchy stretch of Whalley Ave between Downtown and my neighborhood of Westville. I've been here four years, yet I only started going this past March. And let me tell ya boy, I'm making up for lost time.

Edge of the Woods is mostly a normal grocery store, but with all locally grown produce. Every single item from the cabbage to the cleaning sprays are organic. And the prices? Virtually no difference from Stop & Shop (or Acme, or generic equivalent). All this, and they still pay their employees well over CT's "living wage." I don't even know how they do it. But if you want red meat, chicken, or even fresh fish, you need to stop somewhere else. For this place is truly vegan.

And don't get me wrong, I'll never be100%. I love meat, and still indulge in a bacon cheeseburger every now and then. But when I walk into the back room where the hot, soul food-style lunch/dinner buffet is, I don't even miss cows and pigs.

Everyday, each one of the six platters being kept hot over stovetops is something different, and equally delicious. I mean, seriously, how does their meatless meatloaf taste BETTER than meatloaf? How does their tofurkey taste better than turkey? How do their soysage links taste better than real sausage? (Yes, my cousin informed me that I may have lost my man card for even uttering the word "soysage.") There is somehow no difference! Well, the only difference being A LOT less fat, sodium, cholesterol, and calories, yet the same amount of protein, aminos, and vitamins. Truly, the best of ALL worlds.

I'm down 22 lbs since Christmas, 12 of which since early September, right around the time I started religiously lunching at Edge of the Woods. Now I'm sure some of that has to do with drinking less. And some of it due to once again being single. But I'm confident that MOST of it is simply substituting one burger, Subway sub, or chicken wrap, with one vegan meal daily.

Eating right has never been this delicious.

Now go stop in at Edge of the Woods for lunch. You're welcome.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The other day, after a nice 1.5 mile jog in gorgeous early Autumn weather, I looked ahead and saw a group of young guys jogging towards me. I was walking briskly at this point, feeling good. The endorphins flooding my brain, my heart still racing from the run. I veered off the sidewalk, giving this group of ten or so runners an unobstructed path. As they approached, one of them broke away from the group, now heading right towards me in the street. He looked up, we made eye contact, he smiled like he recognized me. He then extended his right hand as he was about to pass me, and said "What's up man?!"

"What's goin on," I replied.

I went to shake his hand real quick, but just at the last second, he faked it, and instead lightly smacked my ass as he ran by.

I was kinda shocked, as I realized what happened. I turned and watched him rejoin the group, jogging away as if nothing happened. And I gotta say, I wasn't even angry. In fact, I smiled and laughed to myself. I wasn't threatened at all, even though I'm straighter than a flagpole. And the more I thought about it, I actually felt flattered, for who better than a gay man to identify and appreciate true male handsomeness.

Now, if this dude WASN'T gay, well, that shit was just super gay.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Chester, PA

I agree that ISIS has got to go. These fuckers, they literally deserve to die. I woke up on September 23rd, my 30th birthday, and CNN told me we began air strikes on them. And hey, if even one of these murderous, decapitating, uber religious scumbags gets offed, well I'll take that present.

What a good distraction it is, these ISIS guys, from the deplorable conditions we have, currently, in our own country.

Without (respectfully) counting the thousands of American soldiers' lives lost in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2002 and 2011, how much of a real national security threat does this atrocious army pose though, truly, against the American Homeland? I believe, so far, they've killed 1, or 2, Americans. Americans, who were only over there out of sheer bravery, being journalists in a war zone.

Sure, on an emotional level, primal as it is, we want to decimate this army of, like, 10,000 and change. And we sure as hell can. Anywhere that American lives are threatened, and anyone who threatens American lives, consider yourself an Enemy of The State.

We hear this repeatedly.

Yet we are in this constant state of denial.

If, as John Kerry says, as Barack Obama says, as Dick Cheney and Bush at one time said, American lives are truly the threshold for going to war over, then admit just for once the real threat to American lives:


Go to the intersection of Ninth and Keystone, in a city I'm sure you not only forgot about, but never even visited, Chester, PA, and just FUCK off about Syria, and Iraq, and ISIS for a second, and take in the fact that there is a systematic massacre, a bloodbath, already here.

I mean, you can take a lesson from those countries, about what happens when destabilization occurs.

And it is occurring, right under your damn nose, domestically, in our own cities, where the likes of even ISIS would dare never go.

Because they'd probably get robbed and shot.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

"You know how, in the Bible, there are Parables....stories, metaphors, of how to live your life constructively and in goodness, in a time of systematic oppression that made one question their loyalty to any institution, because well, the loyal part of the compromise rests solely on the shoulders of the individual? Well, there exists something similar in 2014. But it is called The Wire, and its parables are called Scenes."


The New West

Since moving to CT, I've seen and indeed I label, some towns as "The Land that Time Forgot." Drive through Ansonia or Norwich, stop in their McDonald's or ShopRite, and you'll know exactly what I mean. I say this, jokingly, with much sincerity actually, about entire towns. But last night, I entered a place, an establishment, that could take this crown. And it is called The New West Cafe.

This place is no cafe. It is a bar, of the dive variety, located directly across from the still smoldering pile of rubble that is, that was, Delaney's. It is the most honest dive bar, minus the charm, that I've ever set foot in. I decided to give it a chance, for I've passed it many times in my nearly four years here.

There were about 20 patrons, and 56 teeth, if you count mine. Everyone had their best haircut from the 80s. It was pretty awful. And that's all I have to say.

But credit where credit's due, hey, they have Rebel IPA on tap!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Anniversary

(A throwback poem, well, I guess it's a poem, from 2011)


Third period Theology, and my head was on the desk, as usual. I heard some announcement over the PA about some rumor of a plane crash in New York.

Fourth period Spanish, as I walked in, the tv was already loud. Before I had the chance to see this most devastating broadcast, Mr. Babcock summed it up.

"Gentlemen, you're about to see history." And I quote like a court stenographer.

I got to my desk, first row fifth, and turned.


This is something that I can't and won't be able to shake off. In the front right corner of the classroom, that for bad reasons will stick out in my memory forever, I stared up at the 30-inch tv.


Who knows, but wait, the World Trade Towers??! And both!!!?

There was and is something horrific and confusing about the phrase...


At 17, I had no official worldview. But I immediately knew the significance of this.

Two monstrosities, two of the most important symbols of American excellence, whose roof upon which I recently stood, they both crumbled into powder.

Thousands of lives brutally murdered in minutes, the psyche of an entire country permanently damaged.

Yet at the time, what caused the most horrific twist of my facial expression as I gazed, transfixed, at the most insane of television images known yet to man, was my parents.

My parents worked in the second largest sky scraper in Center City Philadelphia, and I'm pretty sure I heard some pundit talk of rumors of more planes, more attacks.

I tried calling them, but 2001 technology, we'd all later figure out, couldn't handle the volume of the millions of calls, of the distressed and fearful.

We were let out early that day.

And when I got home, the front door was open. Their car, in the driveway.

They were safe.

I shut the door of the car and quickly walked up the walkway in the front yard, twirling my set of keys out of pure anxiety.

I looked up at the cloudless blue sky.

It was perfect.

After two weeks of miserable late Summer rain, we get this, on Today of all Days.

We watched, as the US Army invaded two countries, live on tv.

From the most desolate landscape in the world, a complex Arabic militia hellbent on nothing but blind ideology and provoking the second Muslim Caliphate rose and went head to head with the greatest military the Earth has ever known on barren battlefields.

Looking back, from 10 years later, it was such a simple time.

Monday, September 8, 2014

A Reflection

I'm sitting here on the back deck on the third floor of my favorite place, so far, in the world. A beer in hand, obviously.

This place is a house in the City of Sea Isle, in the region of South Jersey, on a barrier island that literally only exists because nature wants to protect the main land from hurricanes, and in effect, nature.

And oh man, there is something mystical about this place. Something wild, and yes I know this duplex condo was probably erected within the past 30 years.

But its pebble filled backyard is enclosed by a fence, a fence that barely beats back the dense forest from encroaching upon everything we hold civilized.

And this place is quite special to me, for my family has been leasing it for a week at a time since the summer of 2000.

Tonight, it is very blustery.

Usually, I'm here in the Final Quarter of summer, that two week period which only perhaps a person with knowledge and expertise of the Mid Atlantic August, would understand. Yet this is indeed my first experience here in September.

And sitting here, overlooking maybe the last true wilderness that exists in the Northeast, the very southern edge of the New Jersey Pine Barrens, witnessing in real time a vast inlet, a dark and shallow tidal bay, across which are the headlights of lonely vehicles traversing an equally lonely stretch of the Garden State Parkway, well, I do have some time to reflect.

I reflect on a great summer, this Summer of 2014, one in which I could have never imagined being even somewhat decent.

For I worked a lot, without even a weekend off, yet, I made it work, for me.

It started with a week-long trip to Boston, its middle consisted of many a great conversation and pickups, its end, for me, was the destruction of my favorite bar, Delaney's, on August 25th.

It was, no doubt, glorious.

But when I sit, even for a few seconds, on this deck, here in Sea Isle, and I truly realize who I am and where I come from, well, I guess you could say that memories aren't all they're cracked up to be.

No, they make you immortal.

And now, I choose, to stop being so selfish, and put away this very tablet that I type upon, this literal light pollution that clouds out the natural beauty of the bay side of the Jersey Shore, Sea Isle City, at 2:40am, and all the sounds of crickets and winds blowing around the branches of large trees...

...and just dream.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Shadow On The Earth

"The Church says the earth is flat. But I know that it is round, for I have seen the shadow on the moon, and I have more faith in the shadow than the Church."

- Ferdinand Magellan


Just a few minutes ago, ISIS, that black flag-bearing despicable group of religious extremists, the definition of pure evil, executed journalist Steven Sotloff in their preferred manner: public beheading. Live on tv.

We all knew this was coming. This is what they do, they kidnap Westerners in Syria and Iraq, mostly journalists (the only individuals with the balls to voluntarily be over there right now) and they hold them for ransom. Then they go rob Iraqi banks, conquer entire towns, slaughter entire groups of people in the name of a pure form of Islam that hasn't existed since the 7th century knowing full well that the only people capable of stopping them is the US Army. They know this, so their only defense (besides America's own hesitation) is showing these kidnapped journalists on a youtube video, and threatening to cut off their heads if America intervenes. And this is nothing new. This depraved asshole who is thankfully long dead Zarqawi was doing the same thing this time 10 years ago, at the height of the US invasion.

And it didn't work then, and it won't work now. For even though one of the cowardly masked scumbags threatened the life of Sotloff weeks ago if America intervened in their conquest, well, America intervened. We bombed the shit out of a perimeter of ISIS men who had surrounded a town in northern Iraq, causing death and famine in their siege. And it worked. Thousands of lives were saved from hunger and inevitable massacre. It was thousands of innocent Iraqi citizens' lives, or the life of one American journalist.

And I can't even imagine what Sotloff's family is and was going through. I can't imagine, the prayers of his mother, in vain no doubt, that Obama would not authorize any military strikes, and her awful cringe, her personal horror when he did, when she heard that America decided to go ahead and reign hellfire from the sky onto these atrocious excuses for human beings. For she knew what was coming next, what just indeed took place.

And that is the problem with religion. I believe that religion by nature is pure selfishness. It is selfishness in the hearts and minds of ISIS, that leads their belief that God is on THEIR side. Sure they're willing to die, or be martyred, but make no mistake... they're doing it so freely and willingly because they truly believe that something better, paradise if you will, awaits them. That  and many virgins. Religion constantly sells the idea that it really is all about you. That this Creator of the Universe actually knows you, died for you, and gives a fuck about you.

It was love for a child, selfish love at that, that made Sotloff's mother appeal to the leader of ISIS, this walking Satan of a person named al-Baghdadi, for him to not slaughter her son. They say there is no negotiating, or reasoning, of any sort, with terrorists. I say there's no reasoning with religion, which is, no doubt, the root of this terrorism, which is by its very nature, unreasonable. And so the bombs dropped. An entire town, thousands of people at that, were saved. And for it, one man was decapitated.

If there is a Great Creator, well, he or she certainly isn't a Modifier. He or she definitely doesn't care. He or she, if this is fact, created something alright. Then allowed it to go to shit. The Universe is a chaotic, random, and bloody place. It is barren, and harsh, and unforgiving. It is, ironically, exactly like the very place that the most arguably religious extremists in the entire world are currently slaughtering, decapitating, displacing, and crucifying innocent human beings.

In the name of religion.

A Best Kept Secret

Situated at the corner of Edgewood and West Rock Ave in the heart of residential Westville-New Haven is perhaps Westville's best kept secret. Although I've never understood the phrase. Bunyons on your foot? That is a best kept secret. The number of your previous partners, that is sometimes best kept secret. At least from your significant other in the early stages of a relationship. Your personal political beliefs while sitting at the bar, well, that is also best keep kept secret. But Deja Brew needs to be exposed.

Though the name may be more suitable for a downtown night club, and this place is far from that, Deja Brew is an institution of this neighborhood. It is a gem, a quaint brunch and lunch coffee spot far from downtown. I stop in every morning on my jog day, when, after a nice long run in the summer heat I want nothing more than a cold iced coffee. And I very much enjoy supporting this small mom and pop business. That, and I am close to getting a free drink when all ten check marks are stamped on my Deja Brew card.

So please, I ask you, to drive past the Dunkin Donuts on Whalley next time you want a coffee in my neighborhood, and come here. You're in for a treat.

Thursday, August 28, 2014


I'm still kinda upset about the loss of my favorite bar of all time. In fact, a lot of people are upset. Me, and literally like 20,000 people. Including the Mayor. "Kinda" is an understatement, for me, and the other 19,999.

But when I heard about the people who lived above Delaney's, who are now displaced,  and when I talked to the people, my friends, who worked there, well, I guess it came into perspective for me.

I think that maybe sometimes, in all honesty, I like the newspaper so much because it makes me feel better about myself. Maybe I read about mothers who drown their own children, and dudes who shoot up a school full of first graders, or the Israeli military bombing the shit out of Hamas.... because maybe, just maybe, it makes me feel content.

Because I know, that shit ain't happening to me.

I'm not involved.

And I talk a lot of shit about the reality tv industry, and say what a detriment it is to our society. I say FUCK HONEY BOO BOO, that white trash bitch. I laugh at fake ass Kim Kardashian. I don't even know what channel Bravo is. But I know it sucks. I look back at my days of being infatuated with the MTV Video Music Awards and I shake my head in disgust. I think, or like to think, that I'm, I'M, better than that. I like to think that I know what is best for America, and if more people that thought MY way had some power, well, a difference could be made. I brag, at times, that I'm not religious about anything...when in fact, this very thought makes me religious. And I demonstrate my religious beliefs, not by going to church, or professing my sins, or even bowing my head in prayer every now and then. I do it, by BLOGGING... on this very site, that is free of charge. For everyone.

It requires barely a shred of effort.

And then you have, or had, for centuries, individuals who literally DIE for their beliefs, for their religion. And you expect me, us, we, to think that OUR religion is right??? I mean, my Irish Catholic ancestry has a notorious history of lacing up the trunks of cars with bombs, yet an entire army of Islamic militants, most of whom are disenfranchised middle class Iraqi soldiers, is willing to go to battle against the Syrian Army, the Iraqi Army, the AMERICAN ARMY... and win!!?

In 2001, were we not shocked to learn that out of all the 19 hijackers, 2 were from Syria, 2 were from Jordan, and the others were from Saudi Arabia!!!!!!??? Which, I may add , was and still is our biggest Middle East ally!!??

When you raise black flags, when you condone human crucifixions, when you have skulls on your lapel pins and you gas people because of their beliefs... you are pure evil.  But evil triumphs when good men do nothing. And in the case of America, something.

Religious belief will always be here in this world. And for better or for worse.

I will, and actually I did, donate to the Delaney's Fund at Niagara Bank on Fountain Street because I believe, we believe, that this place is important. That this place is worth resurrecting. That without this place, that does nothing more than sell alcohol and food to regular attendees, this neighborhood, and in turn our own social lives and souls, will be meaningless.

But shit, I'll take a beer at Delaney's, some football, and Honey Boo Boo ANY day over a God damn Islamic State.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

There's No Joy In Westville

If the before picture isn't a visual metaphor of the tornadic emotions swirling through my mind right now, then shit, nothing is.

But like a tornado, it hit. Instead of winds, though, it was in the form of swift moving flames.

This was my view yesterday, from my parking lot, when I returned home from work. Burning in the distance, just beyond those buildings and across the street, is Delaney's Tap Room & Restaurant. I heard from a friend that there was an electrical fire. I got a play-by-play actually, for my friend was there drinking on the patio with his dog after a long walk when it broke out. So I knew there was a fire, but nothing could have prepared me for this.

The scene on the street was apocalyptic, when I hurried over. I hoped, even prayed, that maybe that smoke was just a sign that the fire was on its way out, that Delaney's would be spared. Call me selfish. But that place is like a second home of mine. Luckily, though, no one was killed. But two firefighters were injured, tenants who live above lost everything, good people are out of a job, and the great neighborhood of Westville lost its Anchor.

For at around 7:40 pm, the entire building collapsed.

It's going to be tough to see Delaney's a smoldering pile of rubble, when I pass it shortly on my daily jog.

"I'd love to rebuild, but we'll see," said the owner, Peter Gremse to News 8.

For the sake of an entire neighborhood, let's hope he can do the former.

The horror. The horror.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Enter Bribery

I'm being blackmailed.

Extorted, even.

It's almost to the point of a felony, for leaving my own home requires an act of bribery.

And it's at the hands, or should I say paws, of a 10-month old kitten.

You know that old song and saying, Papa was a rolling stone?! Well, it applies to male cats way more than male humans. A male cat, the second they find out there is more to life than just your little apartment, right beyond the front door, they want, they need, to escape. They don't know why, of course, for the very nature of evolution is tricky and mysterious. It is why there are, sadly, so many strays. And at 10-months young, this cat of mine is at his prime. He'll never understand why he has this addictive urge to go outside, but simply put, it's because it's in his evolutionary interest to bang every single little hot piece of feline ass he comes across. And being outside this boring apartment of mine, well, the odds of getting lucky dramatically increase.

And it's somewhat my fault, I suppose. For I allow him to accompany me to the trash chute room. He lives for this 2 minute excursion.

The price I pay though, for letting him out every now and then, is the fact that he expects it. Every time I leave for work, or for the bar, or for the bar, I'm required to lay out four or five treats on the counter. This gives me approximately 13 seconds to distract him, as I dip out.

Enter bribery.

Real text convo between myself and my neighbor last week...

Jim: hey man, are you home?

Me: No, why

Jim: because I just saw a cat that looked like Brooklyn when I got off the elevator, he ran towards your door and I heard it slam then no cat when I turned the corner

Me: wtf

So, you see, this cat of mine, this intelligent little beast, has been simply letting himself out, and chillin in the hallway, unsupervised and uninvited, while I'm away, for Lord knows how long.

Video to follow.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Gun Wavin'

This is what the 200 block of Valley Street looked like this morning, when, while on my way to the gym, I was diverted up Emerson due to the crime scene tape and police cars, both marked and unmarked. The unmarked, presumably belonging to homicide detectives. For at around 2 am, a 58-year old man, an innocent bystander while within the confines of his own home, was fatally struck by a stray bullet. On his birthday. While playing solitaire, on his computer, in, again I'll say, his own home.

Reprehensible. Deplorable.

Although this small neighborhood which is nestled on the side of a gorgeous cliff face known as West Rock is only right around the corner and three blocks down from the gated apartment complex in which I live, it is a world away. Possibly several, worlds away.

And that is the story of New Haven.

In Philadelphia, as well as many other large cities, the crime-invested impoverished areas last for miles. Miles of dilapidation and drug corners, that eventually transitions into slightly more affable areas. And then the suburbs, and then the farmlands. But not here in New Haven, Connecticut.

Here, you have one city block of picket fences, mansions even, such is the case on Huntingdon Street, and one block down is decrepit front porches, boarded up windows and pairs of sneakers dangling from wires. Or in this case, Valley Street, being lined with housing projects and urban decay, yet the very next parallel avenue to the south is Whalley, a posh thoroughfare complete with breakfast cafes and yoga studios. And let's not forget Yale University backs into the scariest neighborhood in the city.

I've never seen anything like it.

But New Haven is my city for now. And this angers me.

Let's just hope the New Haven police, whom I have the utmost respect for, can solve this heinous crime and bring the guy or guys to justice. For I'll never understand how anyone, with the exception of being a soldier in a war zone can resort to gun shots to resolve their issue.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Debonair City

And I mean that in the most utterly sarcastic manner possible. The City of West Haven
has a reputation alright, a reputation that I believe can be summed up in one single word. But the word thus far eludes me. "Shitty?" No, definitely not. That's not completely accurate. "Crime-infested," ah well there's the occasional street robbery, the less occasional shooting, but nothing to constitute an infestation. "Dangerous?" No, not that either. "Trashy?" We're getting a little closer now, but that might be a little over the top. No, the word, it's coming to me... Let me think. Hmmmm. Got it!


Yes, seedy it is, but credit where credit's due, I'll go out on a limb and give it merely, slightly seedy.

West Haven, New Haven's slightly seedier southwestern neighbor is not quaint, or cultured, or anything of the sort. But driving today down the main thoroughfare that bisects the down town area, emptying out onto Captain Thomas Blvd., and the beach, I saw something. Amongst the pawn shops, dive bars, and check cashing spots that dot Washington Avenue, I noticed it out of the corner of my eye, almost missing it, but as my car rolled to a stop at a red light, I got a good look. It was a visual symptom, the initial symptom, in fact, of gentrification. It was, in fact, a coffee shop. The Coffee Boutique, to be specific, with a big ole' grand opening sign in the window. And it hit me, West Haven is the next spot to blow up, to become up and coming. For there is but limited space within the already puny political boundaries of New Haven. And the city, Connecticut's cultural capital, boasting Yale University, high end restaurants, museums, and art galleries, has seen rents sky rocket in recent years, months even. West Haven, Connecticut's Atlantic City minus the casinos, will for better or for worse, mark my words, be the next victim of gentrification's inevitable grip.

And so be it. For I, for one, don't believe it to always necessarily connotate negativity. Gentrification can be done correctly, it just requires a balance, a delicate one at that. A balance between coffee shops and bodegas, yoga and open air drug sales, dog parks and empty lots. But as I continued down Washington Ave, and to the beach, like I do so happily on my off days this summer, I was quickly reminded that the scale is currently favoring the latter. I'm reminded that West Haven is a microcosm of the entire Nutmeg State. It is a place of extremes. See I don't mind paying taxes. I certainly don't like to, you know, see over a quarter of my hard earned money go right to Uncle Sam. But I do respect it. Taxes pay for what we do, what we use, what we need. Stuff that everyone benefits from, yet no one would voluntarily pay for without the coercive nature of the tax system itself. The fact that one is forced to pay taxes is the only way it could work. People are, by nature, cheap, lazy, and greedy. And so state income tax, property tax, even car tax (yeah, we actually have that here) I don't mind paying, just as long as I, we, get something in return. You know, like a beach that isn't covered in shards of broken beer bottles, and plastic bags floating in the water that I can just picture strangling some poor unsuspecting seal. But this is what the beach looked like today, every day, for that matter...

How does West Haven, with their insanely high tax mill rate, that supposedly pays for services like a large police force, with a BEACH PATROL UNIT at that, justify this? Where does the money go? It is inexcusable.

And so I say, get your shit together, West Haven, either now, or when you're forced to, when the artists come-a-buyin'!

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Anchor Of Westville

It anchors the Westville neighborhood of New Haven, CT so perfectly, both figuratively and literally, it, being the most ideal spot in the area and perhaps the entire city to come for drinks with friends, family and strangers. And it sits in the center of the Y intersection where Fountain meets Whalley, in the heart of New Haven's second, unofficial, and much smaller down town. 

I first set foot in Delaney's Taproom & Restaurant in November of 2010 after having packed my entire life into my blue Honda Civic to embark on a journey to a new job and new life in Connecticut. I bought a small wooden dining table with two chairs from Ikea, and four and a half pain staking hours later, after I was done building it, well, let's just say I needed a drink. I wanted nothing more than a six-pack I could Youtube to, while sitting at my new creation, a creation which in fact was literally the only piece of furniture I had (besides an air mattress). And so I went to the liquor store, but alas, it was 9:30 pm, and more importantly, it was Sunday, and this is two years before the CT legislature voted to allow alcohol sales on Sundays. I then stopped in to Delaney's. It was a decent crowd, I remember. I stood there for a few minutes, waiting, till the attractive brunette behind the bar noticed me and walked over.

"Hi, what can I get ya?" she asked.

I replied, "I just want a six-pack to go actually, what do you have to go?"

She looked at me, puzzled and confused.

"Wait, like, do you want six beers...now?"

You see, I'm from Pennsylvania. We have a system there in which the state government controls liquor and wine. So if you want a bottle of merlot, a handle of Jack, or both (wild night that would be) you'd have to go to a "state store." Seriously. And if you want a 24-pack of beer, you'd need to go to a beer distributor. This system is inconvenient, inefficient, and it does virtually nothing to lower prices. But, for as outdated and stupid as this concept is, they kinda make up for it, with the ability to, if one is so inclined, grab a six or twelve pack from the bar. It comes in handy, say, if your party is still going strong at 1 am but your keg just got kicked. Or it's after hours and you want a drink but don't feel like sitting at the bar.

So you see, on this night nearly four years ago, myself and the bar tender were equally confused. Once she explained to me that "to go" beer just wasn't going to happen for me, at least not in this state, I sat down and ordered a Sea Hag IPA. This was the start of a beautiful friendship between myself and IPA beer in general. It was also the first time I'd had or even heard of Sea Hag, which still, to this day, is my favorite beer of all time. Most importantly, however, this was my first of many nights at Delaney's.

At Delaney's, the atmosphere is always, for lack of a better word, chill. There is something for everyone here. Darts, pool, fine and family dining, an unheard of happy hour complete with two for one craft beers and 25 cents a piece buffalo wings, some of the tastiest wings I've ever had. Cool and knowledgeable tenders, an extremely personable wait staff, a lovely patio for gorgeous summer nights, and a menu that is nothing less than a consistent batch of delicacies. At Delaney's, you can have mimosas and brunch in the beginning of a Saturday morning, leave hand in hand with a beautiful woman at the end of a Thursday night, and everything in between. Delaney's is the only establishment in which, not only am I unafraid to divulge, but proud to admit, that I am, indeed, a regular.


Sunday, August 10, 2014


Iraq War #1, in my humble opinion, was completely justified. Iraq War #2 was not. And not only that, but it was poorly designed and poorly managed, with the brave and heroic US Army being pawns on a chessboard in a game being played by leaders who didn't even know or care to know the difference between Sunni and Shia Islam. But we went to war, easy to get in to yet hard as hell to get out of, no doubt, and after about ten years, thousands of American lives, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives, we were faced with only two options: stay forever, or, you know, leave.

Enter ISIS.

Aka the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, a blood thirsty group of about ten thousand men, who swept through Iraq this year, conquering everything in sight like a medieval army, even robbing a national bank to become flush in cash money. Their name is quite literal, for two reasons, as they are all battle hardened fighters who got all the practice they needed in both the Syrian Civil War as well as the calamatous aftermath in Iraq after our second invasion. The other part, being they pretty much accomplished what their name suggests. For no civilized world leaders will officially recognize their state. And historians will be slow to decide as well. But I believe, unfortunately, that they certainly have a nation, and that they have the credibility, the power, and the means to lay down the political boundaries required for a state.

And what an awful state it is, based on ancient religious beliefs that have no business in a modern civilization. But make no mistake... ISIS is here, not because we left Iraq, but because we went in the first place. So what do we do now?

Well. Bombing the shit outta them, back to the Stone Age if you will, where they apparently prefer to live, like we just did, is a step in the right direction. But this will, undoubtedly, create even more disdain for our country. Fighting ISIS, individuals who believe in two powerful things, that God is on their side and in the principle of revenge, will be difficult to say the least. America has the ability to enter their air space, undetected, with not even human pilots, but flying robots, which can remotely reign hell fire with precision guided missiles down upon these evil bastards.

Now let's just hope our defense game is just as good, or, more importantly, better.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Here's To The Rock

I'm a man of routine, a routine of which, at least since June, has consisted of the following: on my off day, I work out, hit the beach, and spend the better part of the afternoon sitting at my seat (yes, I suppose that seat is mine by now, sigh, I am indeed a regular) within the Oyster River Tavern eating raw Blue Point oysters, and their ever so famous mahi avocado wrap. I wash it down with a Two Roads Road Jam, a new favorite beer of mine. Or three.

But yesterday, upon approaching my car after a nice long tranquil beach walk, I looked up and saw it: the Savin Rock Roasting Company. I had been there a few years ago for a night of drinks with a friend who lives nearby. For drinks, not food. This day, I figured, I'd break from the routine and stop on in. I sat down amongst a few grizzled West Haveners and a cute blonde who was spending the last few precious minutes of her lunch break from a local bank over a tall glass of red wine.

I ordered a Two Roads White IPA, not a favorite IPA of mine but it was the closest thing to my hoppy and bitter beer palette on tap. The bar tender then competently sold me on the scallops, which came wrapped in bacon. A pleasant and tasty surprise. I asked the bar tender where the "roasting" part of the name comes from, and he told me to hold on and he'd show me. Three minutes later he returned with a small sample of corned and roast beef and pastrami, at no charge. A bar that roasts its own meats, with Two Roads on tap, across the street from a beach.

Hell yeah.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

" The Wu is comin through, the outcome is critical
Fuckin wit my style is sorta like a miracle
On 34th street in the Square of Herald I gained Ella
The bitch caught a Fitz like Gerald...Deen Ferraro, who's full of sorrow,
Cuz the hoe didn't win but the sun will still
Come out tomorrow "

They're back.

And holy shit, really?

See I came of age when rap was real. It was hip hop. People in my camp were blessed to grow up listening to the likes of 2pac, B.I.G., Nas, Bone Thugs, and of course, these 9 obscure and talented guys from the Five Boroughs of NYC, or, The Shaolin.

The Wu-Tang Clan.

They entered the scene, all of the aforementioned, before rap was corporatized. Before it was corny one liners (see, Drake, Lil Wayne) set to the background beat created in a lab by some Harvard educated computer geek. Way before a hip hop artist gave a shit about Mainstream America, because well, Mainstream America rejected them.

They're back (with one exception - R.I.P., ODB!!!), and after listening to two live performances on the Daily Show show morning re run just now, they're better than ever. And wow, they must be all close to 50!


I, for one, will be going out and actually buying "A Better Tomorrow."

They're worth not only listening to, but supporting as well.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

West Haven, Conn.

The coastline of Connecticut has the misfortune of being totally obstructed by this large land mass known as Long Island. Standing on the beach in this state, you cannot see it, for it's too far out. But out there it is, and its very presence is the reason you hear about people vacationing at the Jersey Shore, or the Outter Banks of North Carolina, or the pristine sands of Florida - but never Connecticut.

The behemoth that exists somewhere out there on the horizon, for lack of a better word, kinda fucks us over. For what you see in this very picture is not ocean water, no, it is still and dirty water, not unlike that of a giant lake. The weather yesterday when I snapped this photo was sunny and cloudless, so the water definitely appears blue. But make no mistake, it is not. It is brown, polluted, muddy, and gross. It is, what they call, a Sound.

So gross, in fact, that when I told a cute lifeguard chick I wasn't from around here, and was wondering if it was to dirty to go in (more so just an excuse to talk to her, obviously) she replied, no, it's fine to jump on in, for there was no "pollution advisory" today. Or at least she was pretty sure there wasn't.

Needless to say, I wasn't encouraged.

Places like California and Australia have shark warnings. Lifeguards in Jersey warn swimmers about strong currents. But pollution advisories? You know what I'm about to say, right.

Only. In. Connecticut.

But a beach, after all is said and done, no doubt, is still a beach.

And this one happens to be 10 minutes from my apartment.

Ah, the perpetual bittersweetness of living here.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Cheesesteak Once Removed

I'm from Philly. So cheesesteaks, or at least the appreciation, the craving, the nostalgia, for them, is in my DNA. It's my favorite food (besides a Maryland soft shell crab). They're hard to fuck up, at least in the Three Corners that I love and miss so dear, that Philadelphia/South Jersey/Northern Delaware region. I've heard it's our water that somehow adds the perfect component to the ingredients of that deliciously dusted Italian roll from Amoroso's, that is oh so crucial. So I say, anywhere you go in this region, any old pizza shop or deli, you're gonna get a good cheesesteak when you order it. A GOOD one. But to get the exceptional, the superb, the best, you would need to go to a place in South Philly called John's Roast Pork. Pat's Steaks, being a close second. Besides a fictional movie character, it's our claim to fame. It's what we do. Never mind the fact that we birthed America back in the 1770s. No, the cheesesteak is our life blood. I mean, seriously, it's everything you want and need in a meal. You got your carbs in the roll, your protein within that delicious trans fatty meat that drips with protein packed cheese like the aftermath of a drenching cholesterol monsoon, and, if you're like me, you got your veggies too. For any cheesesteak absent the sauteed onions is a travesty.

But alas, I'm in Connecticut now. And needless to say, I would never order a cheesesteak anywhere in New England, let alone anywhere north of the I-195 corridor that separates New Jersey culturally, and so perfectly.

The closest thing, though, I've had up here, is not the pizza that New Haven is so famous for. They say, boldly, that it's the best pizza in the world. I don't know about that. Literally. Just not sure, for I've never had Chicago's, and I'm fairly certain there's plenty of best kept pizza secrets throughout the land. I will say, though, that New Haven has excellent pizza, and the best in my opinion is at a bar/brewery/night club/restaurant called, well, Bar. No, the closest thing to a cheesesteak up here is a good old cheeseburger from Ted's Restaurant in Cromwell. The place has been around since the 50s, which, right there is respect. They also STEAM cook the patties, which I believe at least partly contributes to the succulent taste. But I think the other part to this is one simple fact: the meat comes from grass-fed cows. Now, even a four year old can tell you this answer, when you ask the very basic question, What do cows eat?


Yes, seems like a no-brainer. But that answer, at least here in 'Merica, is dead wrong.

Cows want to eat grass. They're supposed to eat grass. But for a long time now, we've been feeding them grains and other unnatural shit to maximize output, or, profit.

And to our detriment.

For, for so long, we were told that red meat is bad. It causes everything from obesity to high blood pressure, diabetes to cancer. But let's give our cow friends some slack. There is nothing wrong with a little beef every now and then. It's what we've been feeding them for so long now that is wrong. And unnatural.

So go out and make some burgers for your bbq, or a nice homemade meat loaf. Just remember to get grass-fed. And do yourself a tasty favor and add some chopped yellow onions to the mix. At least for me, meat and yellow onion go hand in hand.

But if you ever find yourself, as a tourist, in my great city one day, standing in a line of drunken hungry people at Pat's Steaks at 1:00 am... Don't ask for grass-fed meat.

You might get beat up.

A Critique

I've said it before, I'll say it again. True Detective is the single best piece of work HBO has put out since The Wire. For those who haven't had the pleasure of viewing, it is a visual crime novel, a modern detective murder mystery. It takes place in the deep swamps of southern Louisiana, one of the more fascinating places, in my opinion, in Americana. Almost jungle-like, with looming oil rigs sucking the life blood of our economy from the Gulf in the distance, it is almost Apocalyptic. It is dark, gritty, mysterious. It is, the perfect geographic setting for this story. If you haven't seen it, binge watch the 8 episode first season. Now.

Compared to my current show, also on HBO, The Leftovers, well, let's just say it still remains the best since The Wire. Without spoiling, The Leftovers is simply about a random day in which 2% of the world's population simply vanishes into thin air at the same time, and how those left behind are dealing with it. Some believe it's the rapture, others believe it's simply a scientific mystery. And although it's dark, depressing, and strange, and although I can already tell it will never reign among the Kings of HBO (The Wire, The Sopranos, True Detective), it might just be exactly what we need to see right now, in A.D. 2014.

We are living in uncertain times, no doubt. A large plane just recently disappeared off the radar, carrying hundreds of people, without even a trace.

And they say, at least about a democracy, that the people get the government they deserve.

Well, I believe that rule applies to television as well.

Sunday, August 3, 2014


Bodie: "He's a cold mother fucker."

Poot: "It's a cold world, Bodie."

Bodie: "I thought you said it's gettin warmer."

Poot: "World goin one way, people another, yo."

This is Brooklyn. My ex and I adopted him when he was only two months old. The people at the cat foster home that we got him from, which happened to be in the Brooklyn section of Waterbury, CT, told us he just showed up one day recently, clawing at the front door. In the world of stray cats, rumor of sanctuary spreads quickly I suppose. So he came from the streets of Brooklyn, and hence his name.

It's been just over eight months now, since the day he first set foot in his new home with me. And he's taught me a lot.

The world is currently in turmoil. Islamic militants are turning Iraq into a blood bath. Russia is at war with Ukraine. Drug cartels are littering the streets of Juarez with human heads. The American political system is broken beyond repair. Ebola is back.

Even the cutest infant can one day grow up to be cruel and corrupt.

But when this little guy wakes me up at 3am by nibbling on my toes because he wants to eat, when he knocks over every item on my coffee table, when he rubs up against my leg and purrs... I'm reminded that there still is good, innocence, purity, in this world.

But it ain't people.

The Paradigm of Dumbness

"Journalism is printing something that someone else doesn't want printed. Everything else is public relations." -H.L. Mencken

Years ago, when I took the subway (in Philly we call it, "the El") into Center City for my summer job, I chose a daily copy of the Philadelphia Inquirer to pass the time on the 25 minute ride. It became an essential part of my morning. It was, is, and always will be a great and perhaps the greatest newspaper in the world. But it was the writings of one of their best journalists at the time, one John Grogan, who got me hooked. For the many of you who don't know, he's writer of the  the book Marley and Me, and he's played by Owen Wilson in the movie. Long before the movie, though, he had an editorial column in the Inquirer, and in it he did wonders for Philly, from exposing an arrogant and deplorable plot by Pennsylvania politicians to vote in their own pay raise, literally in the dead of night so the public wouldn't even know, to incessantly writing on the horrific gun violence that gripped the city in the Mid-2000s. In both cases, Grogan was not only able to bring relevant issues onto center stage for the otherwise clueless public to see, but he was also able to affect policy. His thoughtful, meticulous, and honest journalism was able to inform a society. And that is the role that a free press in a free society plays.

After moving to CT, the newspaper, at least in its physical paper form has eluded me. But I still crave it just as much, so I settle for the Washington Post, as well as New Haven and Hartford local online newspapers. And you better believe I still keep up with my old hometown via Philly.com. The other day, however, when I logged on to the Washington Post, something happened that I wasn't expecting. I had clicked on an article, and was redirected to a site that said I'd need a paid subscription to read it. I went back and clicked on another article, and another. They all said the same thing. I got extremely angry. How could I possibly get through a half hour bike ride at the gym without the Post editorial page to read on my smart phone!? And the nerve! How dare they charge.....for a service they provide, a service that happens to be honest journalism informing a democracy.....a service that has been totally free for years now online. My heart and mind quickly changed, and I decided to purchase an online subscription.

It wasn't easy choosing to pay for something that before was always free. Yet is this not one of the contributing factors to the decline of real journalism? Definitely one factor, at least. Another big one, being the proliferation of 24/7 Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, etc which makes Americans regard a newspaper or even a Yahoo AP headline as snail mail. Americans want sensationalism, and they want it fast.

And we are ALL dumber for it.

Call me old school, nostalgic, or stubborn, but I don't trust a news story that takes less than 24 hours to break.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Connect I Cut

I moved from Philly to Connecticut in 2010, and finally, nearly four years later, I'm starting to gain appreciation, slight as it may be, for this state.

Sure, Connecticut has horrific income inequality. It's cities are messes. Taxes are high. Our politicians are too dumb to even do corruption right. The drivers are awful. Roads are pothole'd. And you can't buy beer to go from bars.

But recently, on my few and far between days off, I've been going to the beach, which is only two miles from my apartment, then feasting on local oysters, soft shell crabs, and mahi mahi at a newly discovered and totally awesome establishment right on the Long Island Sound, The Oyster River Tavern.

My off days, here in CT recently, have been days in paradise. Beautiful weather, deliciously fresh seafood, and a beach nearby... I'll take that!

Of course, however, the water is too polluted to even dip my toes in.

Ah, Connecticut. The Nutmeg State. Or the Constitution State. Neither of these official nicknames make a whole lotta sense. I call it, Connecticut: The Land of Mediocre Strangeness. There is definitely a love/hate thing going on here.

Almost Verbatim

Real, almost verbatim, conversation between my dad and I, over beers, in the Summer of 2005...

Me: "You know, dad, growing up as an 80s baby in Middle Class America, it was almost dull. For awhile at least. I mean, we had no war, no Depression (paraphrasing Fight Club, no doubt), everything was just perfect. Then the 90s ended, religious extremists destroyed the Twin Towers, killing thousands of American citizens in downtown Manhattan, and we invaded two countries. If nothing else, at least the time period got...interesting."

Dad: "You know that's an ancient Chinese curse, right."

Me: "What is?"

Dad: "May you live in interesting times."


I don't know about you, but I feel that it is totally miraculous, mind-boggling, and beautiful that FRUIT, this very essential and nutritious gift to us from nature, exists only to protect seeds from danger and destruction.

The Nation & The State

Recent events between the Israeli military and Hamas in Gaza Strip have brought me back to 2006, sitting in evening lectures given by a very intelligent professor named Kenneth Fuellhardt. The class was Cultural Geography, one that I mistakenly thought was required for my major. It was, in fact, one of those good mistakes, for this class was the most fascinating 3 hours a week in my educational career.

In it, the main theme was the difference between states and nations. A nation is, simply put, a group of people sharing common beliefs, traditions, culture, language, etc. A state is just an arbitrary political boundary around a given land mass. America, by definition, would be a nationless state, while Kurdistan is a stateless nation. Israel is a perfect example of a nation state.

These two terms, often, are used synonymously, yet this does such an awful disservice. For the difference between them is vast, and the sooner world leaders become aware of this fact, the better off the world will be.

McSkillet Burrito

Anyone who knows me, even after having just met me at a bar, knows there are a few constants in my life. Unchanging facts around which I govern myself. One being that I have the appetite of a medium sized brown bear while standing against the swift moving waters of a river, mouth wide open and salivating over the fact that any second now, some poor little pink protein packed salmon will soon land within its jaws. My penchant for Dunkin iced dark roast coffee is another truth. And, to prove that not every world view of mine involves food, ANYONE who knows me, is certain that my all time favorite show is David Simon's The Wire, although I would slightly disagree.

For, to me, The Wire is less a show, and more so an explanation. Not a justification, or an excuse, or a spiteful jab... but an explanation. The Wire explains, in effect, America in the post-Industrial Age. It is, to me, Biblical, for just as Jesus Christ himself, 2,000 years ago made political head waves selling the idea that we, the individual, are never supposed to be part of any institution, The Wire explains what happens when we do in fact become part of one, and all the going-against-our-own-conscience that is inevitable in the process.

So, to me, The Wire isn't the greatest show. It's a way of life, the closest thing to religion that I have. It is, indeed, the inspiration for this very blog's namesake. No, the greatest show is Breaking Bad. This is an epic gift from Vince Gilligan and AMC, though personally, it may be tied with HBO's True Detective. We all know that HBO does nothing but gold, but I must say, this show is special. The acting of McConnaghey and Woody Harrelson alone justifies the short season and unanswered questions. Currently, I decided to give HBO's The Leftovers a try. So far, halfway through, I will say that I am wholeheartedly fascinated. It is slow, strange, depressing, yet like the scene of a gruesome highway accident, I can't look away.

So I say, give The Wire a shot. And if you haven't seen Breaking Bad or True Detective, do it. And if you ever happen to come across a McDonald's that has the McSkillet Burrito still, please, let me know. Because that shit is the best meal I ever had, and ever will have.