Reflections on the Coffee Buddha Part Two: Holistic Boogaloo

“The edge… there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.” – Hunter S. Thompson

It’s written on a print on the room I am in on the second level of the Coffee Buddha.  Dr. Thompson said it, but it’s not true.  I have been there, “The Edge,” outside of the Fulton Grand many years ago.  I slipped into another string of time and came back.  That was the edge.

You can get to the edge and stop. Going over the edge is a choice that you make, and just like all choices it has consequences.

It’s snowing and cold here on the eve of St. Patrick’s Day and I will be spending the next two days selling beer to the people.  They enjoy it I think.  Even if most have bad taste in it.  To each their own.  Without Miller Lite we would have nothing to compare good beer to.  Extremes are only extreme in comparison to the very middle.  Pittsburgh is the very middle.

Sometimes I try to sit and think about exactly where I was on this date each year passed and how different my life was.  Here we are in season 35 and I am a husband and a father.  I got to play in the basement with Bennett this morning and we dunked basketballs on his mini hoop and made toy cars go vroom.  Best of all he sat next to me with his head on my side as I read him stories.

Being a father is by far the greatest role I have ever played and all other roles I have played in life in the years passed have been preparation.

I sold wine to the people of Greenpoint for two and half years.  I was the guy on the corner of Norman and Newell who said hello and chatted with the neighbors.  Working at Greenpoint Wines was an important experience in my life.  For all the good memories I had there the most important lesson I learned is that customers are not friends.  I’ve never made that mistake again.

Those were good people and I enjoyed being part of their lives.  I enjoyed selling Craig Finn wine and chatting him up on Saturdays.  I always enjoyed visits from Homer Murray.  He was a good guy with a darker sense of humor than his father’s.

Craig was perhaps the one that made me rethink my stance on never befriending a customer again.  We went to his show at Brooklyn Bowl with Titus Andronicus and when I walked past his lady she stopped me shouting “it’s the wine guy!”  We chatted for a few and waited for beers as Craig played.  She was a genuine human being.

If I was a better person those would be the memories I took away from that place.  However, what I really remembered was constantly being looked down upon and treated poorly by my boss who had me  run her entire business for $10 an hour under the table.  I thought she was nice at first but she turned out to be an awful human being.  I don’t think it was a case where I was mistaken.  I think she was a good person at first and then something happened.  I am willing to bet a lot of it had to do with what a loser dickbag her husband was.  She changed, and she took her anger out on me.  She went out of her way to make me feel small and it was unnecessary.

So when I quit at the end of a shift on Saturday night I didn’t feel so bad.  I was left with a bad taste in my mouth about how it all went down though. I basically had to just cut ties with everyone I knew from there and it was awful.  I still had to live among them because I played in the Word Basketball league.  I had to change my routes.  I couldn’t get my coffee at the same places.  It shouldn’t have been that way, but it was in fact that way.

Everything was changing so quickly anyway.  It was a really strange time in my life.


Reflections on the Coffee Buddha: Volume One

Note:I just started writing and something came out.  It had been quite awhile.  Maybe I found something.  So we are calling this Volume One.

I’m sitting here at Coffee Buddha on Perry Highway taking in the scene wondering why it has been so hard to write anything for the past year and a half.  In the end it comes down to a simple fact… I have been in a permanent state of ‘everything sucks” for far too long and I really have nothing all that positive to add to anything, and perhaps more importantly even if I did it would get shot down quickly by the internet masses and I do not have it in me to take them on again.

For 4 years I wrote for We Party Patriots.  They were the prime writing years of my career, and it was all for nothing.  Worst of all it was all a lie.  I was told what to write and it was heavily edited.  I viewed it as practice, honing my trade, but in the end it killed all my energy for writing.  I wish I took everyones advice and never taken that gig.

Now I sit here with about 8 years of short stories and journal entries detailing my life in New York and absolutely no desire to share them.  I have no passion for any subject worth writing about, if I have passion for any subject at all.  Even my beloved Buccos are somehow a hot button topic trending toward negative.  I seriously can’t even say that I like a baseball team without people siding with a fake internet boycott that will do nothing.

Out the window here at the Coffee Buddha is a backyard with two trucks lined by a picket fence.  There are patches of snow on the ground, it is cold. People come in and order their daily drinks.  Some stay, but most go.  It’s interesting to be a bystander in people’s routine.

It is the part of March where all though the days are made artificially longer by daylight savings time there are few signs of spring.  It will snow for the next few days.

Winter in Pennsylvania is particularly dark and it makes me wonder how one lives in a place like Nova Scotia without becoming an alcoholic or a psychopath.

I wanted to be Hunter S Thompson and I’ve become Orson Welles, but not the amazing Orson Welles, the obese Orson Welles who cursed the sunlight and lost the will to groom himself.  Work is the only place I feel comfortable and I don’t like talking to a majority of the people who come in.

Coffee Buddha is a slight refuge but the clientele is amusing, but not in a joyful way.  Since I’ve sat down I’ve overheard conversations about movies, but jumping in seems useless because anytime anything comes up that I am interested in it gets shot down.  I guess this is a group that is down on anything to do with James Franco, but is very pro original Planet of the Apes.

Briefly it was brought up that Rex Tillerson was fired and it was greeted with a slight joke that Hillary Clinton should get the job.  Therefore the conversation was over.

Chris Paul Stelling is coming to town and I would love to sit with him here and have a conversation.  I miss the coffee shops in Brooklyn.  I miss Bedford Hill (what? did I say this?), I miss Coffee Mob (huh?), I miss Daily Press ( actually I was wrong about Daily Press and didn’t take it all in until the end), I miss Blue Oven and wish I didn’t embarrass myself there.  I was so broke.  I never had the extra scratch to truly enjoy their pie.

Here is the problem with writing on the internet knowing it will be responded to by the masses.  Up there, when I used the word scratch I wanted to use the word scrilla, but I knew that would lead to me being made fun of, or people would love it and just focus on the word scrilla and miss the point.

However there is no point, because I have nothing to say.  This is just a rambling vent and it adds nothing to society, but that is fine.  Society is shit and i don’t even feel like I am part of it. Adding a small piece of positivity to a roomful of shit doesn’t make it a room that is NOT filled with shit.

It’s like smoking out a state school dorm room and spraying some axe to cover it up.  We all know what really happened.

Brooklyn was a rough period in my life because it was a constant struggle and the memories I hold most dearly to my heart are indescribable.  Moments when the heat became so overwhelming I worried about survival, only to have the skies open up and pour rain upon me, drenching me to the core and reviving my soul for another day.  Walking the streets of Bed Stuy on a 100+ degree day and seeing kids finding refuge at a fire hydrant that had been busted open, only to jump in for a few seconds and rethink my life as I cooled my core.

Water is the basis of my writing.  My fear of floods is the basis of my music.  Yet I cannot become the water, even here at the Coffee Buddha, a place you would think would be my personal refuge.  There is a buddha statue above a stack of books about wrestling topped by “They call me Bubba Booey: the Gary Delabate story.”  Howard Stern makes sense, society does not.

Iced Coffee cannot be the fuel of a successful and sustained life, but I will let it fuel me for another day.  If I make it through today I may make it through another.  Just like in Brooklyn I am missing it all because I am trying to survive.  However at least when I was there I was part of something, all though I guess I felt like I never belonged.

Looking back I realize that I was not the only one, we were all trying to survive, and I guess here is the same.  Maybe someday I will look back at my days writing at the Coffee Buddha the same was as I view my days in Bed Stuy.

I’ve just lost the childlike wonder I pretended to have in the big city.


The Pirates at the All Star Break


Greetings from the All Star break.

Sitting in 4th place in a throughly disappointing division the Pirates currently have a 42-47 record.  What started as a promising season was quickly derailed through injury, suspension, and visa issues with the Korean government.  Now the Buccos must look to shape their roster for the future, with the goal of getting a head start on competing in the 2018 season.

Their first opportunity will be the upcoming trade deadline.

At the heart of the trade discussion is face of the franchise Andrew McCutchen, in his 9th major league season, heating up after a harsh start to 2017.

The truth is it is impossible to say whether or not trading Cutch is a good or bad decision without knowing who the Pirates would get in return, making the definite opinions of fellow Pirates fans be it pro or con fairly ridiculous.

To keep McCutchen is to have your veteran leader in tact for the 2018 run, it is to keep a wary fan base appeased, it is to finally shed the small market malaise and commit to paying an icon.

Continue reading “The Pirates at the All Star Break”

The Pitt vs. Penn State Rivalry and Other Things Best Left in the Past

I helped the Pitt Panthers defeat the Penn State Nittany Lions for the national championship in 1994.  I was Eleven.

It was played in the stadium made up of both my parents and the neighbors backyards.  I rolled out from intense pressure and threw my neighbor Johnny Lavia the game winning pass in the corner of the end zone.  He had to dive around my neighbors tree to haul it in.

Funny thing is that just two weeks later we both defeated Penn State to win the NCAA basketball tournament, which that year was played in his parents backyard.  He was the starting shooting guard that made the last second shot under pressure and I was the power forward who tipped it in for the win.

Continue reading “The Pitt vs. Penn State Rivalry and Other Things Best Left in the Past”

Donny from up the street has died


I grew up in suburban Pittsburgh on a dead end street lined by trees.  It ventured downhill steeply and then leveled off before ending at a cliff that again fell sharply and then terraced down to Little Pine Creek.  I lived right there at the end of Braun Street. I lived there until I went away to college and then a few times more.  My parents still live there.  It is my home base.

In the middle of the street, on the same side, was a house just a little older than the others where Donny Dankmyer spent his entire life.

Continue reading “Donny from up the street has died”

Pittsburgh Steelers: Day 2 Draft Predictions

Note: I’m just going to be honest.  I ran out of time today.  I am taking my wife out to dinner tonight and I didn’t have time to finish this.  So it kind of trails off at the end. Apologies.

So the Steelers got their cornerback.  It’s quite likely it wasn’t the one they wanted.  William Jackson III of Houston went off the board with pick 24 to the Bungles and Burns was likely the next on the board.  So now he is a Steeler.

Can we please start calling him Mr. Burns?

Continue reading “Pittsburgh Steelers: Day 2 Draft Predictions”

Steelers Draft Prediction: First Round

Here we go….

My annual predictions on who the Steelers will select in the NFL Draft/my annual adding to the record that either I don’t know anything about football or the Steelers draft whoever they want no matter their needs.

Yes.  I started my writing career as a football writer.  No.  I am no longer a football writer.

Take that in consideration when you make your comments.

So even though it likely won’t mean anything to those in the Steelers war room, let’s take a look at the Steelers main needs and how they compare to the draft class’ strengths.

Primary need: Cornerback/Safety

Secondary need: Defensive Tackle

It is so obvious that the Steelers need a cornerback that it is unlikely they will draft one.  Hell, be honest, would you be shocked if they took yet another linebacker?

This year could be the year for a cornerback though. (The Steelers last CB taken in the first round was Chad Scott in 1997)  Things seem to align. The Steelers have the 25th selection of the first round, putting them in prime position to get the 3rd or 4th best corner on the board.  Jalen Ramsey is a top 5 pick and Vernon Hargreaves will be gone soon after.

This leaves Mackensie Alexander of Clemson, Eli Apple of Ohio State, William Jackson of Houston, Kendall Fuller of Virginia Tech, and Artie Burns of Miami.

Of this group the two that interest me the most are Apple of Ohio State and Burns of Miami.

Apple is a winner.  The Steelers have a penchant for selecting Buckeyes.  He fills a serious need.

Of the cornerbacks my selection would be Apple.

But the Steelers could also go the Defensive Tackle route, and to be honest this may be their best bet.  This is the strongest defensive tackle draft class in some time and with the loss of Steve McLendon, who wasn’t very good anyway, they have a giant hole right in the center of their defense.

The three most likely targets for the steelers will be Andrew Billings of Baylor, Vernon Butler of Louisiana Tech, and A’Shawn Robinson of Alabama.

Of these three I see Billings as the most likely choice.  All three are 3-4 nose tackles.  All three will likely be solid.  Butler may be a bit of a stretch at a position where there is no reason to reach and Robinson has been trending downward in recent mocks.

Here is a brief bio of Billings from DraftTek:

Billings slots into the void at Nose Tackle left by Steve McLendon’s departure in Free Agency. The Steelers would like a NT who can play some as a one-gap DT in sub-packages to spell Heyward and Tuitt. Billings shows on tape as an explosive penetrator, almost unblockable one-on-one, but he’s of the stature and powerful build to play a 2-gap NT in the base defense. The Steelers did not bring him in for a visit but sent everybody but the groundskeeper to his Pro Day and took him out to dinner to see what he’s about. The Steelers take lots of fliers on late-round defensive linemen like LT Walton, Nick Williams, and Dan McCullers who are Size/Weight/Agility prospects with decidedly mixed results. Here in the first, they can pick up a player with good tape from a power-5 conference who has similarly-unworldly agility for his weight (4.94- 40, 32″ vertical at his Pro Day) without the long odds.

Continue reading “Steelers Draft Prediction: First Round”

The Pittsburgh Dream Team

Happy Birthday Pittsburgh!  Looking sexy at 200 I must say…


As part of the birthday podcast I am doing the Pittsburgh Dream Team, think 92′ Olympics basketball team made up of non-athletes from Pittsburgh who play other city’s squads in a rock and jock basketball style tournament.

For more in-depth analysis on this team check out the podcast.  Here is the roster announcement, for those who are interested in the roster that we put forward for my imaginary tournament.

Here it is.  The roster, front office and all…

Center: Jeff Goldblum: West Mifflin/Chaos U (Prep to Pro)


Standing 6 foot 4 out of Chaos U.  Jeff Goldblum!  Holding down the front court is one of America’s true treasures, repping Pittsburgh in the perfect way, by never mentioning it and just being a cool ass dude.

Continue reading “The Pittsburgh Dream Team”