Tag Archives: Syracuse

Short story: 8 Ball

This story is old. Old, old, old, like nearly two decades worth of mold growth old. But as I’m otherwise occupied today, with writing something new and inventive and much better than this, I thought I’d share. The story here today is not entirely based on a new story, but it certainly has elements of early 1990s Syracuse. Enjoy!

It’s about the size of a typical urban efficiency apartment, with a faded certificate of occupancy stuck on the wall by the front door, probably with some bouncer’s chewing gum, announcing it is fit to house 35 people legally. Thirty-five dyke pygmies, maybe, but not 35 wide-assed people. Smoke hangs next to the low ceiling, hovering around the light over the small and slanted pool table, a cheap but efficient way of adding a dramatic atmosphere to both the serious and poseur sharks who swim underneath it. Most of the patrons use pool-playing as a tried and true method of picking up dates, but this usually leads to them slamming the stick into the cue ball too hard, ricocheting the shot out of the hole and ending in a staccato set of swears as they express their “disappointment.”

My friends and I have just entered the place for the third time in five days because one of them has a new crush on a townie who usually hangs out here. Usually, however, being the relative term that it is, has not included any of these three nights, and has led directly to my frustration at winding up in this dump once again, cheap beer or no cheap beer. Read More…

Empires tame and tacky

 

Emily and Jamie's cat Cindyrella

Emily and Jamie's cat Cindyrella

We started off today with a quiet cup of coffee with my sister Kathy on her porch. Well, rather, I started off today that way. The good doctor started off by getting some much needed sleep, having spent the past several nights up very late either packing or, in the case of last night, driving. We knew in advance there would only be one way to handle breakfast, by going to King’s in Newtown. This is a small building by the side of the road that is somewhat TARDIS like in its interior, with three separate rooms for dining and an outside gazebo. It features crazy, over the top meals like pumpkin spice and mascarpone-stuffed french toast, triple-decker burgers with all kinds of toppings, and absurdly good turkey gravy lovingly surrounding the most flaky, delicate biscuit you could ever sink your teeth into.

 

King's restaurant

King's restaurant

 

 

The problem with going to King’s, really, is the evil flag pole in Newtown. I suppose there are ways to get there without passing what is in fact, a car killing machine, not a symbol of patriotism, but it’s more fun to pass by it and snark about it. A recent Newtown transportation report said, “Because the Flagpole sits in the middle of a busy intersection with five roadway legs, it has been the site of many accidents, which tragically include fatalities.” The flagpole dates back to the late 1800s, and the current flagpole was erected in 1950. But dead people? Come on, residents of Newtown, let’s put something around this thing other than tiny green signs that read, “Keep Right.”

At any rate, the food is fantastic at King’s. Susanne ordered some Frankensteinian monstrosity of brunch cooking when she requested a cannoli cream-filled crepe that tasted amazing. I had the “Asparagus Lenny,” which was a creative way of saying ham, asparagus, and poached eggs with hollandaise sauce over English muffins. My nieces were nearly dismayed that anyone would choose to order something as disgusting as asparagus, but they pulled themselves together.

After breakfast we said our goodbyes and headed out, promising to visit again for Christmas.

New York is a big state, the Empire State, which basically means that all the drivers think the roads are for them to go as fast or slow as they like. There are also more angry bumper stickers out here than in most places–the jerk driver of the day today was a woman driving a small SUV with a hitch, and the hitch had a bad wheel that was wiggling as it went and, replete with the following message: If you hate logging use plastic toilet paper. Gee, I’ll have to make a note of that one. So it’s either . . . decimate our forest land and stress out endangered species and other wildlife . . . or wipe myself with Tupperware? Good to know those are mutually exclusive!

We drove across New York for 4 hours and into Syracuse, where we made a pit stop at my alma mater, Syracuse University, and I gave Susanne a somewhat frenetic tour of the campus, enough to show her the quad, memorial to the students killed on Pan Am 103 in 1988, and give her a sample of how ugly and far away the dorms (actually they’re delightfully called “residence halls”) are from the classrooms. We had some pizza at Cosmo’s, which is where I met my best buddy Lori, and there are only two changes to note from the last time I was there, one sad and one positively liberating–George, the pizza maker extraordinaire, who looked like Mel from Mel’s place, if he got caught in a taffy-pulling machine, has passed away, and the women waitstaff are no longer required to wear skirts or dresses. I’m happy to report that the pizza tastes exactly as I remembered it. I told the new pizza guy that he made it almost as well as George, and his response was, “well thank you, I sure hope so.” Lori’s former boss was there, a not-very pleasant lady who had a rather homophobic and short-sighted way of looking at life, and it was interesting to see that after all these years, she’s still in the same place, literally and figuratively, as if she built her own cell and locked herself right in. I’m not sure if she’s happy, but she’s never looked happy, I guess.

 

Bar stools Cosmo's Pizza in Syracuse

Bar stools at Cosmo's Pizza in Syracuse

We traveled on after our supper, getting back on the New York Thruway and cutting through small mountains, drumlins, and rich, green farmland. I took pictures of cows. I smelled the cows. Rather, I smelled what the cows made, but I know not to complain about the scent of cow manure, for I have also smelled pig manure, and wow, that is one of the worst smells I have ever encountered. It makes cow manure smell like Elizabeth Taylor’s latest perfume creation. Or maybe I have those reversed. Hmm.

Thruways and turnpikes and other toll roads are interesting inventions. Susanne made the point that out in Michigan there aren’t any toll roads because the residents pay taxes that support the infrastructure, but then they have to pay the toll to use the New York roads, too, even though that support doesn’t happen in reverse. I was nice and didn’t mention that no New Yorker was ever going to drive to Michigan. Anyway, though the Thruway may be getting loads of tax dollars for say, new asphalt, it doesn’t seem to be getting many funds in the way of nice printers for its fare tickets. Ours looked like this:

 

New York Thruway fare ticket

New York Thruway fare ticket

I won’t go into the usability of the design here, at least not today. Suffice it to say it was vaguely better than a butterfly ballot.

 

At any rate, we logged mile 710, pulling into the endlessly gaudy Seneca Nation Casino in Niagara Falls. We were at once swarmed by smiling, helpful valet service personnel, who gladly took our car and are, at this very moment, joyriding through Ontario. Little do they know we got complimentary wheel locks on our CR-V, which I’m sure will come in handy. If they blow my trip B odometer count, I’ll be pissed.

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