Mr. Bagel - Portland, ME (Part 1)

It was obvious to Mr. Bagel that his tablemates wanted to kill him. In fact, he even knew them by name. There was Jiang “Fang” Leng, Britain’s most notorious left-handed assassin. Beside him was Vlad McFadd, a Russian-Irish master of medieval weaponry and serial roughneck. And on the end, trying hard not to pounce was Danrgus X, an assassin who had tried to change his name to “Dangerous X” at age 6, misspelled it and subsequently lost all the paperwork.


The game was blackjack and the stakes were high enough to bankrupt small island nations. Wind whistled across the table and buoys clanged far below. They were playing aboard the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), biggest aircraft carrier in the fleet. It was an exclusive gala featuring dictators, warlords and drug kingpins the world over. The fact that they held it on an active, Nimitz class carrier was all the more a thumb at the nose of the man. Mr. Bagel had received an invitation three weeks earlier. From whom he did not know.


Mr. Bagel wrinkled his golden brown forehead in mock thought. The dealer’s upcard was jack, Mr. Bagel’s ace. In the center of the table rested a stack of chips, all Mr. Bagel had left. With a flick of his crusty hand, Mr. Bagel revealed his hole card: another ace.


“Split it,” said Mr. Bagel. Vlad McFadd leaned back in his chair and rearranged his matrioshka bagpipe. Mr. Bagel tapped the table. Hit.


The dealer dealt: ace again on the first ace and another ace to greet the second. Four aces now sat in front of Mr. Bagel, who allowed himself a smile. “Split them again,” he said.


A crowd of gawking generals, military medals spangling, began to gather. Danrgus X was sweating and fidgeting. He had his hand behind his back, most likely fingering his gun-chucks – a bullet firing pair of nun-chucks – his weapon of choice. Jiang Leng sat in silence, sucking his platinum teeth.


Four aces rested in front of Mr. Bagel. He paused and looked over at his tablemates. They were itching for an opening. The protuberance of Vlad McFadd’s claymore was easily visible through his red-and-white flannel. Were it not for the wind, the creaking of the massive vessel and the murmur crowd, you could have heard a pin drop.


A lady parted the crowd, silencing their muttering. Knockout. She had blueblack hair and emerald eyes. The curvature of her tight dress-clad body was reminiscent of a perfect sine wave.


“May I join,” she asked. Her accent was thick, Romanian if he wasn’t mistaken. She allowed the sheer fabric of her dress to whisper over the back of Mr. Bagel’s chair.

“Sorry miss,” the dealer said. “We’re mid hand.”

“I’ll just watch then,” she said, leaning back to take in the full figure of Mr. Bagel in his custom suit.


“Split them again. Then hit,” said Mr. Bagel, producing a cigarillo from his chest pocket. He tapped it lightly on the table as the dealer placed four more aces on top of the four aces he already had.


The sexy foreign lady produced a gold lighter for Mr. Bagel, a diamond monogram twinkled on the side: IL. Mr. Bagel cocked a poppy-seed eyebrow.


“It seems I’ve hit the jackpot,” he said, looking into her eyes as she lit his cigarillo.

“That's a good hand,” she said, nodding to the eight aces in front of Mr. Bagel. She slipped the lighter down the top of her blouse.

“I wasn’t talking about the hand.”


*puts sunglasses on* Yeaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh!

Danrgus X leapt for Mr. Bagel first, gun-chucks firing as they whirled. With languid speed, Mr. Bagel leaned back and delivered a curt chop to X’s poorly-tattooed neck. The lanky hulk went sprawling, unconscious. The other two assassins stood, weapons now at the ready. The generals scattered like pigeons.


“You might want to duck,” said Mr. Bagel.  Diving to the ground, he clicked his right cuff link. With a whisper, darts shot from the aces on the table, peppering Vlad McFadd and Jiang Leng. Both crumpled to the deck, snoring violently.


“Nice trick,” said the lady.

“I never show all my cards,” said Mr. Bagel, clicking his other cufflink.


A gunmetal Bentley exploded from the water beside the boat and landed neatly next to them.


“I’d ask you to join, if I knew your name,” said Mr. Bagel, opening the passenger door. By now, the deck was in a commotion. Vlad McFadd was regaining consciousness and the extremely politically powerful guests were crowding for the gangplank, yelping.

“I’m Itsa,” she said.

“Just Eetsa?” said Mr. Bagel.

“Yes, but with an I, not an E. And just Itsa for now.”

“Playing it close to the chest,” said Mr. Bagel, eyes scanning her ample construction.

“Whose chest,” she said.


In the car, Itsa playfully pulled the fabric of her top closed and put on her seatbelt. Mr. Bagel tisk-tisked and depressed a single key on the steering wheel. With a belch of nitrous the car sped off the tanker, diving into the deep.


“What do you do?” said Mr. Bagel, turning to Itsa.

“I am a soprano at the Bolshoy.”

“Opera then,” said Mr. Bagel. “Impressive.”

“My turn,” said Itsa. “Where are we going?”  

“I thought you knew,” said Mr. Bagel, pulling out a Walther PPK. He pointed it at her and cocked his bagel head. “You are, after all, the enemy.”


Itsa smiled.

“Oh, and how did you guess?” She turned to face him and her dress parted, revealing acres of cleavage.

“It’s not enough to count cards. You have to be able to read a poker face,” said Mr. Bagel.

She laughed and told him the coordinates to the lair. Mr. Bagel punched them in and the submarine car sped off.


They drove up the ramp of the docking bay. The car filled with the smell of chlorine, damp air and patchouli. Light from the water rippled off the walls. Before they could get out, a prison-like gate slammed shut across the underwater entrance.


“Warm welcome,” said Mr. Bagel.

“My guru does not take chances,” she said.


Guards streamed in from the doorway, fluorescent automatic weapons at the ready. They wore a tie-dye shirt and bell-bottom combo. On their heads were white pillbox hats, each with a bright blue letter on it.


“I take it he can’t have more than 26 of you at a time?” said Mr. Bagel, stepping out of the car.


“Silence!” shouted Guard C. “Follow.” They put fluffy pink handcuffs on Mr. Bagel.

“None for the lady?” said Mr. Bagel. Guard C yelled silence again and slammed his gun butt into Mr. Bagel’s doughy jaw.  He stayed silent after that.



Continue to Part 2...

The Downtown Lounge (DTL) - Portland, Maine


So tell me bro-lets in training, why the fuck are we packed into a booth in this dark-ass bar with just a shit ton of alcohol in front of us?


Don’t know? Drink.


It’s because bros: you don’t know fuck-all about the universe. The cosmological cunting constant, the red-ass shift, cosmic cock-gobbling background radiation, this shit is what’s real, bros.  And right now I am going to blow the fucking diarrhea out of your minds. But, before we get to atoms, fucking chug that Sam Adams.




Alright, the fucking atom: in the nucleus you have protons – positively charged particles like a lax bro – and neutrons – neutral particles like a burnout stoner. And fucking tear-assing around the nucleus you have goddamn electrons – negatively charged particles like the chick whose roommate you bang.  So here’s the straight truth: we don’t know fuck-all about what happens IN an atom. Everything that’s fucking going down outside the atom? We have that shit on lock.


Inside? Fucking who knows; it’s like a microscopically tiny-ass clit, unknowable by fucking man.


But we learned a sick-ass truth recently, something that happens with the fucking electrons and we don’t know exactly how or why. You listening? You better be able to repeat this verbatim, pledges, or it’s fucking elephant walks all weekend.


So some longdick physicist named Lawrence Kraus just wrote about this new reaction, similar to one spotted by the O.G. of wheelchair-bound brainpower S. Hawking. What Kraus said was that in an atom, two particles can appear out of nothing. No shit, gentlemen. Straight truth. First, you have a normal-ass atom, then bam, an extra electron and a positron.


What’s a positron? Great fucking question pledge, drink for it.


So, every particle has an antiparticle. An antiparticle has equal and opposite motherfucking mass and charge to its bro-particle. So, in this case, the electron is negative and the positron is positive. And the cunt-proof key is that (in the vast majority of cases) when a particle and antiparticle rub each other’s tits, they disappear. As soon as they collide, poof! Gone like my virginity at age 13.


So imagine this wacky shit: you have an electron buzzing around the nucleus of an atom, and all of a cocksucking sudden, ANOTHER electron and a positron pop up next to it. Out of dick-licking nowhere, two particles that, seconds ago, did not fucking even exist. I’m goddamn serious, this new particle and antiparticle pair are like Kappa Nu skeeves, rolling up on a freshmen chick out of fucking nowhere.


Bros, don’t fret for the conservations of energy though, because the two particles have equal and opposite mass. And if you fucking don’t know what conservation of energy is, look up Isaac Newton in any shitty physics book and start jerkin’ your gerkin.


But, and even fucking crazier, this cocksucking pair exists for such a small amount of time, it’s like they were never even fucking there! They appear from nothing, touch, and fucking bam – back to nothing. The universe doesn’t notice! Shit’s quantum fast (and pardon me if I’m paraphrasing I’m not a dick-ramming quantum physicist and plus fuck you). It’s like a bro giving a cop the finger to his face, but it happens so fast the cop doesn’t notice. So like, no bro goes to jail, nothing un-sweet happens, but the fact remains that the law got fucking owned.

Condiments. Indeed.

Image C/O Portland Daily Photo by Corey Templeton 

Why does that fucking matter? You ask. Drink for even making me say that. Chug like your mom chugs dick.


How did Hawking find this shit out? Black holes, bro. So, black holes just suck shit up, right? First, that’s such an easy mom joke I’m not even gonna fucking broach it. Two, shut your fucking herpes mouths because it turns out black holes don’t just suck everything in existence (like your mom) they also shoot out electromagnetic radiation. Yeah, players: black holes bukake the universe with thick-ass radiation.


So how the fuck does that work?


Remember those positrons and electrons? Well there’s this titty-twisting line of no return in every black hole called the event horizon. It’s like the front door to Phi Omega A.K.A. Gnargoyle Manor: a sweet lax bro puts a big toe past that doorjamb, and those gnar-ass birds will make certain he never gets out. Once you pass the Event Horizon that’s fucking it, you’re sucked into the black hole.


So, what happens is, remember those electrons and positrons appearing out of fucking fuck-all? That mamma-jamma happens right on the edge of black holes. And sometimes, a pair will pop into existence in just the perfect fucking spot where one particle is on the event horizon and the other isn’t. So instead of the pair of particles just touching again and disappearing, the antiparticle actually gets sucked into the black hole. Shoop bay-oop, cocksuckers.


And what that means is that the particle/antiparticle pair splits like Baloney Pony’s shitty parents at his fifth birthday party and the electron shoots out into space. And since that means the black hole is effectively absorbing antimatter and shooting out energy, it’s actually shrinking. Meaning no sweet-ass energy is lost or destroyed – conservation of fucking energy again. What that means, cum-gaps, is particles that shouldn't even exist are constantly being shot out of fucking black holes in the form of electromagnetic radiation. Isn’t that some brain-melting bullshit?


And again, you think there’s no point to me telling you this shit? Drink again bitches. Because mini-bros, this is where it gets ass-cock crazy.


So do your infantile peenees remember that titty-licking baus, Einstein? E=mc fuck your dad? Well, one thing E-Bro talked about was relativity. What does that mean? It means if you’re drunk and rimming a gross-ass chick, you might not think it’s disgusting. But if you weren’t drunk and doing the same butt-work to a busted flap you’d be thinking ew and fuck and shit. Meaning: reality is relative. So, what state you’re in/where you are/your velocity/so many other fucking things will change your perception. And perception is reality. 

Fucking relativity. Works for time and space too, cocksuckers.


So, and here’s where some fucking conjecture from yours truly comes into play. We’re saying there was a big bang, right? A big sploogy bang where something comes from nothing. Well, what the fuck else is an electron/positron pair appearing from nothing but another big motherfucking bang? Albeit on a smaller scale, but what is scale but a factor of perception you fucking brownie stabbers?


So isn’t it fucking possible… tit-cocking totally possible, that our universe could actually exist deep inside the nucleus of a randomly generated particle whose equal and opposite antiparticle got sucked into a black hole? Isn’t that a fucking possibility?


You’re goddamn right it is. Bring out the chicken wings.


I have never seen this man at DTL.

Image C/O Downtown Lounge


Why are we eating diggity-delicious chicken wings, dick-horns? Because fuck particles, fuck antiparticles and fuck the origin of everything. You eat those goddamn wings like you love them. Why? Why?! Because even if all that universe shit I just straight school-house rocked you in is true, those sweet-ass wings are the only thing in the entire universe that matters right now. That's straight truth.




3.2 Stars

It may not look like it, but Downtown Lounge has some tasty bar grub. Suffice it to say it’s fine content housed in a rough exterior.


Dive Time

Cheap beers and sub $10 burgers. Fine grub.


Urban Rustic Alleyway

Booths with high backs and a distinct lack of TVs make for great, if close, conversation.


Round and Round

If your drink is nearly empty, you’ll have company.



While it’s not the pinnacle of bars in Portland, DTL is a fantastic go-to for a couple beers and some quality snacks.


Nosh - Portland, ME


“Popular culture,” said the screenwriter to the three immaculately attired TV executives, “is a black hole.” He delivered the statement emphatically, a bit of spit flying from his mouth on the “B” of “black hole.”


In front of him – at the opposite end of a stylishly elliptical mahogany table, nestled into a window-lined boardroom overlooking the sprawling white-and-green-flecked taupe of the valley – the TV executives appeared confused.


The screenwriter – dressed in a suit that fit him not at all – held up a nervous finger, indicating for them to wait, and clicked to the next slide of his presentation.


“Fringe culture is odd,” said the screenwriter. “And it used to start wayyyyy outside, far away from the black hole of popular culture. Nobody knows about it, at first!” The Screenwriter nervously jabbed his finger in the air. “But, as more and more people become aware of this fringe idea, it gets closer to the center of popular culture: the black hole.”


The screenwriter stopped and stared, eyes wide, at the assembled TV executives. One, an old man with cheeks that hung below his chin, leaned back in his chair. The other two – a young man with neatly gelled hair and a middle-aged woman who had had enough work done to look as if she’d had no work done – looked confused and skeptical.


“I’ll continue,” said the screenwriter, obviously shaken by their silence. “Over time the fringe has gotten sucked toward the center…” Another nervous jab. “Meaning, the distance between fringe culture and pop culture has decreased!”



The older executive cleared his throat and put his hand on the table. “So what’s the idea? You want a space show? Something about popular space?”


“Not exactly,” said the screenwriter. “It’s a reality show.” Silence. “A reality mash-up.” All three executives ahhhhed and recline back in their chairs. “I had the idea over a plate of buffalo wings. They were butter-poached, breaded, salted, doused in ranch sauce and then topped with pretzel bits.” The executives raised their eyebrows at this aside. The meeting, as far as the screenwriter was concerned, was going incredibly poorly.


Just noshin'.

Image C/O Portland Press Herald

“Anyway, I just mean to say that because the combination was a bit much and that kind of ties in nicely to my show and– .”


“Go on, but get to the point,” said the young, male executive. “Yeah, I have a meeting in five,” said the female executive, poking at her phone.


“You see, in the future,” said the screenwriter, “what used to be fringe will be pop culture proper. They will merge. But here’s the hook: my idea is from an even further out fringe.”



The older executive sighed and shifted his seat so that the sun wouldn’t hit him directly in the face. The sun then hit the female executive in the face but she pretended not to notice.


“So it’s a fringe-focused, space reality mashup?” offered the older executive, boredom liberally coating his words.


“No,” said the screenwriter. With a click, his presentation star-wiped to the next slide. On the screen was a live feed of the very conference room in which they sat. The female executive cocked her head, the young executive released a clipped “ahh.”


“It’s about this.” Smiling with only his mouth – nerves etched on his brow – the screenwriter reached beneath the table and produced a handgun.


Tension flooded the room.


“That’s not a real gun,” said the young executive.

“Of course it’s not,” said the female executive.

“So, what’s this?” said the older executive.

“It’s a gun,” said the screenwriter. “And this is my show.”


Raising the gun, the screenwriter recited, “This is a Glock 26 Gen4 – a concealed carry staple since 1994.” He then aimed at a floor-to-ceiling window and shot.


Glass exploded outward, raining onto the bustling street below. The female executive screamed, and the two male executives dove for the ground.  The screenwriter crouched, tut-tutting. “Sit up, slide slide your phones to me, or else I will simply shoot you all.”


The executives complied.


Bacon dusted fries. Yes. This is yes.

Image C/O FoodSpotting

“This is the idea,” said the screenwriter, actually smiling now.  Again, from beneath the table he produced a thick bike lock, which he ran through the handles of the boardroom door. “I call it “Death Panel.” And this, lady and gentlemen, is the pilot episode.”


The screenwriter appeared more relaxed than before. It was the calm of a man with a single purpose and goal.  There was no tomorrow for him, no this afternoon or even an hour from now. It was only now, and right now he had a gun pointed at three extremely wealthy white people.


The three executives were grimacing and pale. Their faces appeared, to the screenwriter, to have transformed into white masks covering deflated balloons. Their previous superiority and confidence had been erased.


“Why are you doing this?” said the young executive. The other two looked at him with white-wild eyes. Wind moaned through the hole in the glass.


“Ha ha!” said the screenwriter. “Thank you, my good man.” An aristocratic, creepy joviality crept into his voice. “The same reason anyone does something this drastic: to prove a point!”


“What possible point could come from this?” said the elder executive. “Don’t throw away your life. If you just put that gun away, we can all just leave this situation. No press. No hubbub. Just drop the gun and we can call it even.”


The elder executive’s appeal to reason met with deadly silence. “That’s bullshit and you know it,” said the screenwriter, pointing, one by one, to the security cameras that adorned the boardroom. The elder executive kept his deflated poker face.


A knock on the door. The handles rattled and a large male voice said, “Sir, please open the doors.”


“Nope!” the screenwriter shouted. “You force in these doors, everyone dies.”


“Just be calm sir,” said the large male voice. Another subtle rattle on the doors.


“Stop trying to get in!” The screenwriter said. He swept the gun over and shot two bullets low through the rich, oak particleboard doors. “Holy shit,” said the large male voice, outside. Hurried, leaden footsteps echoed away down the marble hallway.


Turning back to the three executives, the screenwriter smiled, his mustache forming a perfectly flat line above his mouth. “In the comments beside this live video feed, all the viewers are being asked “Who will live and who will die?” The young executive uttered a croaking no. “It’s a crowd-sourced, reality execution show! Get it?”


The board room had begun to darken slightly, shadows stretched across the table and sliced dark lines across the shaking executive’s bodies. They stayed silent.


“Anyway,” said the screenwriter. “On this phone, I will have the final tally. And from the comments,” The screenwriter scanned his phone, his gun still leveled at the executives. “From the comments.” He looked up and hove the black nose of his gun to the young executive. “Looks like you’re the strong favorite.”


The young executive began to cry. Small, peeping sobs that oddly matched the pitch of the wailing, bullet-holed window.


“What’s the point,” said the female executive. The screenwriter raised his eyebrow and shifted the gun’s nose to her. “What’s the point?” he asked.


Is humangus.

Image C/O Foodspotting


“Yes,” said the middle-aged woman, now shrinking into a shirt that had, minutes ago, been far too tight for her artificially engorged bosom. “You said there was a point behind all this.”


Her tone was slow and deliberate, obviously stalling for time. “You’re obviously stalling for time,” said the screenwriter. She, like the elder executive, kept her poker face.


“But that’s just fine,” said the screenwriter. “There is absolutely a point. And this is the part where the ‘evil villain’ gets to air out his grievances. But of course nobody ever listens, and he never gets time to fully explain. But the point…”


Unfortunately, before he could continue, the doors to the boardroom snapped in half with a screaming crunch.


The screenwriter dove behind the table, narrowly avoiding the peppering of bullets that blew out the remaining glass in the formerly whistling window.


 “No!” screamed the writer, scrambling around the table and securing an arm around the elderly executive’s neck. “I was getting to the point!”


At least thirteen riot police emptied into the boardroom. Though only the elderly executive was physically restrained, the two remaining executives stayed riveted to their seats, stunned by the noise and commotion, into inaction.


“Release the hostage,” yelled an officer with a thick, Chicago accent. Saying it like: “release da hostich.” That accent.


“Move and they’re dead.” The riot police stopped their slow march forward.


The Screenwriter composed himself and began to speak.


“The point is that you people are ruining America.” He looked angrily at the backs of the executives’ heads. “I have done the research. The three of you have greenlit shows like: My Dad: My Boyfriend, Meth University, I <3 Dead People, Is It Sh*t?, My 300 Pound Toddler…”


“Sir,” yelled the Chicago policeman again. “Release the hostages!”  


“These shows make people feel good,” continued the screenwriter, redoubling his grip around the elderly TV executive’s neck. The pitter-pat of a helicopter snuck in the blown-out window. Nobody gave up any ground.


“Sir,” yelled the Chicagoan again.


“Listen!” the screenwriter screamed. “People watch and feel excited that they’re not as shitty and backwards and terrible as all the stuff they’re seeing on TV. It’s what they want! But it is not what they need. It doesn’t make them try to be better. It gives them license to be worse. You’re pushing American society to new lows with every show.“


A shot shrieked through the glass and nestled into the wall right behind the screenwriter’s head. The screenwriter emitted an inarticulate burp of rage, cocked the hammer of his Glock and buried the nose deeper into the senior executive’s head-folds. The Chicagoan raised his arm for his men to stay still.


The screenwriter continued his monologue, unfazed. His face was a glowing orb of red determination. His eyes bulged and shot red-hot lasers of accusation onto everything they touched. The sound of the helicopter rose outside and police lights bathed the room with a manic, strobing glow.


“We live in an age of ‘should’ not ‘could’. Our system is regulated by our basest desires, nothing higher, nothing grander. This show! My show is a shock to the system! It is a look into the inevitable future of our society. It’s a gut-check for America. Do we want this? Do we want to murder people on live television? If we don’t, then we must act! We must not continue to accept the next, ridiculous low. We must strive to be better!”


Should you ever need your bacon deep fried and then sauced, this is where you go.

Image ℅ Food Spotting


The screenwriter stopped speaking and his phone dinged. The entourage of riot police’s guns clicked into active readiness. “That’s the end of voting,” he said.


“Sir,” yelled the Chicagoan. “We have a sniper trained on you from that helicopter outside. Release the hostage now, or we will authorize him to shoot… again.”


The screenwriter held up a finger from behind the executive’s exhausted, shriveled head. “One second,” he yelled. “Just one single more second. Read this for me.” He raised his phone to the elderly executive’s eye-level. “Read who should have died.”


The elderly executive, wide-eyed, read the phone’s screen. “Who does it say?” screamed the screenwriter.


“Release the hostage!” said the Chicagoan. The riot police crept forward and now rimmed the edge of the table like eager reporters.


“You,” said the elderly executive.

“What?” said the screenwriter.


“It’s just you.” Exhaustion edged out fear in the elder executive's voice. “There’s a note below the voting. It reads ‘One of you executives needs to pick up this fucking show!’”


The screenwriter let out a chuckle. The chuckle turned into a sickening laugh. Society had chosen, what more was there for him to do?


The screenwriter stood up with his gun to his temple, still laughing. And as the executives scurried away from where they had just been trapped, the shooting began.




3.0 Stars

In some items, it just nails it (like their salt & vinegar fries). In others, it is a pile of gluttonous foolery (their wings). Each dish tastes great on the first bite. But by the third you will be questioning why you are doing this to yourself. The “Smothered Meatload” sandwich boasts: all-natural ground beef, cheddar cheese, sweet grilled onions, ketchup on white bread and the whole rest doused in gravy. Don’t get me wrong, it’s tasty. But eating this gravy-smothered, meat and cheese bomb in one sitting is basically an act of self-loathing.



Sandwiches run ~$12 and don’t come with fries. However, the fries being a tasty! strong suit of Nosh’s, it’s highly recommended you get them. You’ll walk out of there paying a bit more than you would like.


Carefully-appointed Grunge

The tables and bar are situated in a railroad style. You’ll be sitting close to your neighbors. And you will most-likely have neighbors at this heavily-frequented joint.


Yeah Cool

A bit harried at times because of the rush when I’ve been there. But good people who get you in and out with a couple beers (or wines) to keep you lubricated.



Nosh is a place I could only really recommend that you go once. Go to try the ridiculously flavor-packed sandwiches and fries and everything else. But I can almost guarantee that once the glow of “wow what wild flavors!” wears off (plus with all the other high-quality options in Portland *cough* Duckfat *cough*) you’ll find Nosh to be a bit superfluous. It’s not a bad place by any means. They’re just a little too focused on what they can serve, rather than what they should be serving.

Hot Suppa! - Portland, ME

I met Nick at Hot Suppa! about eight months ago. I was completely new to Portland and the biting chill was in the process of being baked out by the high April sun.

Good morning, Portland.

I was perched at their stout bar, reading The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann. A guy about my age with wild brown hair – the kind that perpetually looks as if it just came from under a hat – sat down next to me. He situated himself and pulled out the same book I was reading. His version was older; its pages yellowed and corners creased with use. That was Nick.


He turned to me and we struck up a predictable conversation about the book. Soon, our conversation’s predictability vanished.


Our discourse flowed naturally and powerfully; dialogue went back and forth, building upon itself. Most conversations can feel as if both parties are carrying their separate points to their pre-conceived conclusions, as if the other party is simply a necessity to airing out opinions. My conversation with Nick, however, was an improvised duet. We played off of each other, coming to realizations on the fly, inspiring the other to think more deeply at each turn. It was the kind of conversation that, no matter how long it actually was, could never have been long enough. He impressed me quite thoroughly.


At the end of our meal– I had the waffles with Maine maple syrup, he the benedict – we exchanged numbers and made plans to meet up again. 

Nick, I found during our second meal at Hot Suppa!, was both a published author and semi-professional speed climber. He only told me after I asked him what he did as we waited for a booth to open up.  The word bragging would be about the exact opposite of how he described his daily activities; he tried, in fact, to downplay them, which of course ended up impressing me more.


Once again, our meal and conversation were superb.


At home that night I looked up videos of speed climbing online. Nicke assured me that he was well below championship level. I searched him out nonetheless. After scrolling through a couple pages of results, I found a poorly-captured video featuring Nick on one side in red and a young man in blue on the other. Both were hooked up to minimal harnesses and faced a sheer, blue climbing wall.


At the sound of the gun, both young men shot up the wall, climbing as if the surface were horizontal, rather than vertical. The video was named “NCAA Speed Climbing Men’s Semi-Final 2006”. Nick lost. I could tell which contender he was without any trouble: his hair hadn’t changed.  But his immense skill was evident.


And though he lost, his mastery of climbing was dumbfounding. I’m athletic enough, but nowhere near competition-level in any sport. That sort of skill, where one is talented enough to rival every other driven young person in America, is unattainably difficult. It requires not only innate ability but an almost absolute dedication. Nick had impressed me again.

My feelings can be summed up here.

The next week, we met on a Thursday morning at Hot Suppa! and he brought his girlfriend along.  She was a petit woman, named Erica, with brown hair and luxuriously large green eyes: pleasant, smart, beautiful. She had actually just been hired off of an internship at an in-demand interior design firm. Not that Nick needed the money, his writing supported him well enough.


Again, our meal went by too fast and Nick continued to cement his status as someone truly to be admired. He was so put-together, self-assured and confident with the physical and mental substance back it up. I had never met a person so superior to me in every single way.


I thought about it quite a bit. How superior he was to me in so many ways. Nearly the perfect person – at least as far as my estimation went.


Another couple weeks passed after that meal without us seeing each other. Nick and I had both gotten busy: he, writing an article for an outdoors magazine and me with work.


One steamy, mid-spring night in the Old Port, I was out with my girlfriend, Katie. She was ready to go – she had an early start planned the next day – I was not. She left me among the tourists, trying not to stumble on the frost-heaved cobblestones. I wandered into some dive or other, I can’t remember the name but it had low lights, pool and darts. Ordering a drink from the packed bar, I heard my name. The voice was excited, slurred.


It was Nick.


He was visibly drunk. The collar of his shirt was turned up at one side. He motioned to the open seat next to him. I made my way through the crowd and sat down. I was a bit drunk myself, so his drunkenness seemed another feather in his cap from my perspective: a guy who has everything so much together that he even has time to go out and let loose.


We talked for a bit, though not about much since the noise of the place precluded any meaningful conversation. It was more an intoxicated exchange of admiration, talking about how excellent our chats had been.


Then a girl appeared behind Nick and reached over him to a half-empty cocktail on the bar. She put her arm around Nick’s shoulder and he leaned back and kissed her neck.


She was a brunette, tall and voluptuous. Her make-up was a bit smeared, though it made her look perhaps even more licentious than had it been perfectly situated. Nick didn’t introduce her so she introduced herself. Her name was Hannah and, by her voice, had drank equally as much as Nick.


Looking at Nick’s collar, I now noticed her red lipstick was there. Maybe he’d broken up with Erica? But in the time we talked after Hannah showed up, there was no mention of anything concerning Erica. No explanation from Nick as to this change in women. It was almost as if he was acting completely serene to test what kind of a friend I was. Would I ask about Erica and destroy their mood? Would I simply judge him without knowing the details? Or would I let it slide and assume that whatever he was doing was probably appropriate?


I chose the last option. I chatted as best I could until my drink was gone and announced that it was time to head home. Despite their protestations I nodded my way out. It was only three days before I ate with Nick again.

It took until three quarters of the way through our meal before I found an opening to ask about Erica.

I am the Alpha and the Omega. 

“She’s good,” Nick said. “She just got a big assignment designing a new rec-room for some young couple up in Falmouth.” I nodded, allowing him to go on. “So, she’s been busy.”


Nothing more than that. We had already acknowledged that it was fun to see each other out and I hadn’t had the audacity to ask about Hannah. The majority of my hesitation came from a reticence to delve too deeply into Nick’s personal affairs. It seemed that our friendship had started off so perfectly that any outside factors could only serve to sully the clean and well-defined picture I had of him. He was a perfect person. I didn’t want to believe he was any less than that.


I tried to bury my disappointment over Nick’s complete lack of remorse concerning Hannah. I didn’t succeed. But still, we continued to meet and talk.

About three weeks later, Nick brought Erica again. When we all had been seated, I couldn’t find an inkling of unrest. Not within Nick, nor between him and Erica. This could have meant two things: either they’d made up completely for Nick’s transgressions or Erica was completely oblivious. As the meal went on, there was no doubting that she didn’t know.


That realization sparked in me an electric tension. The sort of tension that increases with prolonged inaction; like when a teenage me was dared to go ask a girl out. It was the the type of dread that made the task impossible to complete, yet more excruciating not to the longer you waited.


As we ate each extended pause felt like a challenge. Nick’s gaze intensified as if daring me to bring up Hannah or somehow hint at her. But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t bring it up because I genuinely liked Nick and wanted to think the best of him. But I am also a coward when it comes to confrontation. So I kept silent on the matter through until we said our goodbyes. I vowed to bring her up at our next meal alone.


I never did.


Two weeks later Nick told me that he and Erica had broken up. That completed the talk of girls. The matter was dropped for good and all, no resolution. But, unfortunately, that’s the way so many relationship-centric matters tend to end. Both parties unfulfilled, nobody happy.


The very next day, at the dentist, I was flipping through Down East Magazine. Its feature article was called “Depths of Flavor,” about a struggling fisherman who’d found a flourishing new market in deep-sea fish. It was by Nick.


After reading it three times, to make sure I wasn’t missing something, I realized that it was simply an adequate article. It felt like just another let-down, concerning Nick. Given our conversations, the article seemed well below his level of thought and humor. Not that it was a terrible piece of writing. It just wasn't what I would have considered worthy of him.


Nick and I didn’t talk for nearly five months. And this, coming after we had not gone an entire week without some sort of friendly meet-up, was a surprise. But so it goes.


In that time I thought about him a little. Mostly about how impressive he’d seemed in the beginning and how he’d eventually let me down. Though he hadn’t let me down, I realized, not really. He’d merely gone from the realm of the extraordinary into the mildly-above-ordinary. He still was a fantastically talented athlete. He still wrote professionally. He just wasn’t the “overman” I’d convinced myself he was. It was more my own fault for expecting to find someone who was perfect. My own selfish hope that there was an ideal person living an ideal life out there. That perfection – as a quality – was attainable. But of course, perfection is only really reserved for the imagination, and only poor ones at that.


It was getting to be the end of shorts weather when I reached out to Nick again. I texted him, suggesting we grab some food that weekend. He responded quickly and with enthusiasm, even throwing out a couple times that worked for him.

The topography of deliciousness.

Being back at Hot Suppa! with Nick was excellent. We talked and laughed and it was like next to no time had passed between our last meeting. The meal flew by. After shaking hands and waving our goodbyes, I left smiling.


Sure, I’d wished that Nick was perfect. I’d wished it for him – because I liked him – and I’d wished it selfishly because I wanted to believe that I could be perfect too. But he wasn’t and neither was I.


Nick may be a little loose and inconsiderate with women. He might not be as groundbreaking a writer as I had, naively, expected. And I could revile him for those traits. I could build a boiling dislike for him and never speak with him again. But what good would that do? He wouldn’t change as a person. I wouldn’t have a chance to possibly help him improve (and he, me). And I would be deprived of a great conversation partner and friend. The world would continue as it was, with two people less happy than they could have been.


In the end, we build the strongest connections around what we have in common and imperfection is the only universal trait.




4.4 Stars

I have visited Hot Suppa! vastly more times than any other brunch spot in Portland. They simply understand eggs better than basically every other brunch I’ve ever been to (their omelet is straight out of France). In overall food, they’re close to equal with Caiola’s brunch, but at a lower price point. It’s both excellent and consistent.


Reasonably Reasonable

Every item on the menu “proper” is well priced. In fact, the Waffle (which comes with breakfast meat, two eggs, and a sliver of grapefruit) is a damn steal. Their only downfall is that their specials tend to be both too little (in terms of portion sizes) and too much (in terms of price).


Boutique Art Show

Its intimate booths and art-smattered walls make for great conversation and a cozy atmosphere. However, it’s slight size means wait times can hit the hour mark any day of the week. And with its popularity ever rising, wait times may well rise commensurate. Go early. Go late. But be aware that it’s worth the wait.


Busy Bee

Overall, great service. Coffee stays full 95% of the time. Peak hours tend to be when it gets the diciest.



I tend to be critical of Hot Suppa! because I love it so much. Like a father to a child, I want to see it improve for its own sake. Meaning, I tend to internally gripe about stuff like the sometimes so-so service, long waits and underwhelming specials. That all being said, in Portland, there is no more consistently fantastic brunch than Hot Suppa!

Binga's Stadium - Portland, ME

Rich Jerscyzkhein: Hi everyone I’m Rich Jerscyzkhein (pronounced “jason”) and this is the Super Bowl XCLVIII post-game discussion, brought to you live from Binga’s Stadium in Portland Maine.

And oh by the way, joining me is former Super Bowl-winning coach, and current Binga’s spokesperson, Bill Trunt. Beside him is Hall of Fame running back Dayved Nardley. And joining us, as always, is former coach of the Carson City Gamblers, Heck Jonson. The score was eighty-four for the Gettysburg Cavalry and zero for the Carson City Gamblers. Gentlemen, what did you think of the game?


Dayved Nardley: W—


Bill Trunt: First off I want to thank Binga’s Stadium for bringing us out here. Delicious wingas and a wall of beers. Fantastic!

Rich Jerscyzkhein: Any thoughts on the game coach?


Bill Trunt: Textbook annihilation.

Enough screens to play every season of Frasier simultaneously.

Image c/o Binga’s Stadium

Dayved Nardley: That’s putting it lightly coach. I mean… I mean… Marcus Lackey, you look at the stats on this guy… as a QB, he basically put up a season’s worth of numbers in a single game.


Heck Jonson: I don’t even want to talk about it.


Rich Jerscyzkhein: Tell me what you mean coach?


Heck Jonson: What I mean is I want to bury my head in a dry old crick. I’m torn up, Rich. I was coach of the Gamblers when Biff Mandingo started at quarterback. To see his career end like this… It's a damn shame.


Bill Trunt: *muffled chuckling*


Rich Jerscyzkhein: OK, let’s look at the numbers. D’Quayson Figgins, always a force for the Gamblers, came up with a net gain of 2 yards. Both of which came when he tripped and was launched into the air by Cavalry linebacker Fred Zuht.


Dayved Nardley: You also have… you also have the crumbling of the Brick Pillow.


Rich Jerscyzkhein: Right.


Dayved Nardley: Russel Armstank, A.K.A. The Brick Pillow, a perennial pillar of the Gamblers’ defense. He let 25 sacks through his line.


Bill Trunt: Put up less of a fight than a roofied prom date.


Heck Jonson: You’re talking from experience now, Bill?


Bill Trunt: You’re a funny guy, Heck. You know what else is funny? *looks straight at camera* How much I love Binga’s fried pickle chips: crispy, tart and delicious. Mmmm mm!

Hey chickens. Bet you wish you didn't have such delicious arms.

Image c/o Blueberry Files

Rich Jerscyzkhein: The list goes on; Veto Threat Jr. tripped himself during the kickoff return, broke his leg and then his pants fell off. Wide receiver Bret Dillinger dropped ten out of ten reception opportunities and then got divorced on the sidelines. And, Gambler’s coach, Larry Popkiss was last seen rummaging naked through arena dumpsters sporting an unhinged gaze.


Heck Jonson: It was a ten-car pileup on top of a train wreck in a concentration camp. Gall dang! I think I’m gonna start crying again.


Dayded Nardley: Then you take a look at the Cavalry. I can’t believe what these young guys can do. You take… You take Ngube Onukafor. This 21-year-old not only ran for 805 yards but set a world record for scarves knit during a single Super Bowl at four.


Rich Jerscyzkhein: They were tastefully made.


Dayved Nardley: The Cavalry defense… I mean, these guys gained more yards than the Gamblers offense. Sweet mercy!


Bill Trunt:  Sweet is right! Sweet as Thai BBQ Wingas. Only at Binga’s


Dayved Nardley: Wide receiver Gibbs Jacoby literally floated five feet off the ground the entire game. Punter, Sagittarius Arkenstone laced a ball so straight that – for a brief moment – it sliced through the very underpinnings of spacetime revealing, to the entire stadium, the tenebrous clockwork of the universe.


Rich Jerscyzkhein: And let’s not forget tight end Robo Liscious… this guy, in the third quarter he animorphed into a seventeen-foot-tall komodo dragon and started picking passes out of the air with his heinous tongue.


Bill Trunt: *Makes a fervent series of exaggerated slurping sounds*


Heck Jonson: *Lets out a keening wail*


Rich Jerscyzkhein: And oh by the way, you have quarterback Marcus Lackey. Talk about game of the century. Any century. In fact, we were just informed that a coalition of every citizen on earth has demanded that his likeness be laser-etched into the moon.

Heck Jonson: Poor Biff Mandingo. Poor, poor Biff.


Gate F, as in, "F*cking humongous."

Image c/o Local Events Authority

Rich Jerscyzkhein: That’s right, coach. Biff arguably got the worst of it out there tonight. Even in the first quart—


Heck Jonson: Let me do this. I can do it... Biff Mand—*sobs*


Dayved Nardley: It’s OK Heck. I can—


Heck Jonson: Biff… Biff! Mandingo! He was a fine man. A *sniffle* a whip-smart student of the game. We don’t need to trot out all the details, so here are the dang keys. Biff Mandingo’s first throw went out of bounds. So far out of bounds in fact that it flew into the Make-A-Wish Sideline Seats, struck a young Gamblers fan in the throat and killed him. Still can’t believe the little scamp is gone… Biff’s next… Biff’s next pass – a dang rocket of a throw – sailed the length of the field and nicked a gas main, incinerating the Gambler’s entire rooting section. Nobody left alive in the Jackpot. Not a one. And if that weren’t enough, Biff’s last pass sailed out of the stadium as if… as if borne on the wings of fallen angels! Biff's errant pass hit a moving truck carrying, of all things, his own possessions. Biff's aim was so unlucky that it managed to knock the back door loose, allowing a personal safe to eject from the vehicle which, upon striking the pavement, unlocked to reveal three hard drives labeled Child Pornography 1, Child Pornography 2 and Child Pornography 4. Biff is currently awaiting trial in Carson City’s sheriff’s office… That’s… That’s all I can get out.


Rich Jerscyzkhein: Thanks coach, that sums it up. Hard to watch. Hard to stomach.


Bill Trunt: I’ll tell you what’s been easy to stomach: *thumps down an enormous bucket of wings on the desk* Binga’s Fantastic 4lb. party bowl. Stuffed chock-full of wingas.


Heck Jonson: Bill, you are a shilling swine!


Bill Trunt: At least I'm a winner, Heck. Don’t see a ring on your finger.


Heck Jonson: You sonuva… I’ll give you a ring!


*Heck tackles Bill and both disappear behind the bar*


Rich Jerscyzkhein: And that’s our post-game analysis. Tune in tomorrow for more highlights on SportMiddle. From behind the bar of Binga’s Stadium I’m Rich Jerscyzkhein, ESPM.





3.5 Stars

Go for the wings. The rest is certainly solid, but the fact that they’ve decided to create an entirely different nomenclature for their wings (dubbed Wingas) says a lot about their ability to prepare poultry.


Have a time

You can really drink and eat to your liver’s content. As long as the budget isn’t tight, you’ll end up pleased.


Stadium Seats

More flat screens than there are people (it seems). If you came to watch sports, watch sports you will.


Rapid Rounds

Waiters, waitresses and bartenders certainly keep you from drying out. Genuinely nice people by all accounts.



If you’re in the mood for bar grub and a big game night, Binga’s Stadium is a fine location. Just make sure to get there well before your game of choice; many other people will have the same idea (and for good reason).


Bintliff's American Cafe - Portland, ME

There she is: the dame. You know the sort, twenty dollars of body stuffed into a ten cent getup. Not that the getup is cheap, this dame's probably got my whole year's rent on her person. And what a person.

We’re at Bintliff’s, an old Portland haunt. I’m at the bar and she’s at the window. Alone. I’d been given succinct instructions to document her near-future activities with a Paypal account to make it worth my while. 

Wonder when her beau gets here? Or maybe he already arrived?

Bintliff’s is full of old wood and smiles. They’ve got knickknacks and yellowed menus on the wall boasting 10 cent burgers. Now that’s a time I wish still existed. I’ve got money problems out the ying, which is why I’m bird-watching – you can’t pay the bill collectors with kind words. So, I took the job. What red-blooded man could say no to that many commas?

Gigantic Lamp Picture

She’s looking out the window. The fog outside gives me a view of her reflection. In it a set of eyes, black as coal, slope down at the sides like Egyptian royalty. The kind of eyes you don’t forget.

Laughs carom off the walls and the air is humid and pleasant against the frost outside. But you can see this dame’s got a frost inside. Something’s dark and lost behind those baby blacks. 

Can’t say this gig is hunky donky, though. Got my hackles up last night when the e-mail appeared. Unknown e-mail address: The message was succinct. 


Attached: (A picture of the broad I’m spying)

Message:  “BINTLIFF’S SATURDAY 8:00 AM” And a link to a paypal account in my name. One click to “Accept Amount.”

You think I hesitated in clicking? You think a gig this simple paying this much would give me pause? Hell no. When you’ve been in this game as long as I have, you learn to take what people pay you. 

This Bintliff’s place is a peach. Good coffee. People waiting out the door. Though, I never understood the whole “waiting for brunch” thing. Sounds a whole lot like the bullshit, “good things come to those who wait” mentality. I find the angles. I was never one to jog the full race. I’m the guy who ducks into the first alley and hails a cab to the finish.

The dame got a Florentine benedict; I can see the flakes of Parmesan from here. Apparently she’s got a figure that doesn’t need watching. But damn is it nice to look at.

Florenteen? Florentine? Either way, mighty fine.

The hash browns, garden-variety potatoes, reds and Yukon golds, mixed with sweet potato. All browned up on the griddle with a savory char. I haven’t had a meal this nice in I don’t know how long. Funny how good a little potato can be when you just…

Oops, almost forgot about the dame. These browns had me spinning my rusty hamster wheel. Bad news. I need to be sharper.

She’s on her phone now, talking quiet. She’s hunched over while she talks, those blonde tresses draping around her face like a veil. It’s not a good call, whatever it is, because soon enough she’s got her hand in the air for a check. 

Huh, no ring. I guess a suspicious husband is out of the question. Her nails ain’t even chipped, means she probably got them done yesterday. This femme is on the hunt for a man. 

Who wants me to watch her? A protective father? No, this has jilted ex-husband written all over it. The way she’s still sitting at a two-person table, rather than the bar. It’s habits that paint the most vivid picture.

This is too easy.

I signal for my check and leave a healthy tip. I’m feeling good about this one. 

Her BMW is pristine as well, black that’s been polished to a silky shine, except for a couple mud flecks from the morning drive. My Corolla? I say its color is “Maine Winter Camouflage.” All black and brown with salt spray up the sides. 

Keeping a car clean during a Maine winter is harder than building a house of cards in a shitsquall.  This broad is some kinda careful.

Soon enough we’re both driving north. She’s weaving a bit on the road, probably talking on the phone again. Dames. Can’t keep them off those things. Sure, maybe I even get a bit sloppy too, tailing her too close. But if she notices she doesn’t let on. 

It’s not long before she’s exiting at Freeport. Maybe to do a little L.L. Bean shopping? Though she doesn’t look like the type to go for Bean Boots. As plebian as I seem, I still got an eye for expensive taste. Just so happens that the expensive things don’t often come my way. Don’t ever, if I’m being honest. 

Lawtta benedicts, guy.

That simple fact cost me a wife. Well, maybe the drinking and cussing didn’t help. She wasn’t too excited about ramen noodles at the end of the month, either. It’s for the best. What I lost in her I gained in a little extra income. Though it takes a couple more beers to supplement an empty bed.

She always thought she could do the private eye thing with me. Thought she had a knack for it. But I can tell you, she never would have lasted. I mean, I’ll allow that a woman may have a keener juju-sense – you know, feeling things in their guts and getting all spiritual on you – but I never had the North Star point me to a fat wad of scratch. 

Though I won’t say business hasn’t slowed down since she left. Odd the way good and bad times tend to attract each other. Like good and bad have some sort of subtle gravity.

Luckily it looks like the good is starting to hove back my way. Where is this dame taking me?

These roads have more cracks than a plumber convention. Signs point us to “The Desert of Maine.” Funny she’d be going here. Probably a clever place to meet her secret man. Looking for love in Maine? Forget the snow. Go where the heat is: the desert!

God, I love how symbolic dames can be. 

I’m tailing her so that I just catch taillights when I hit the top of the crest. She’s a cautious driver when she’s paying attention.

The last crest and there's the entrance to the desert. A cul de sac of a parking lot. And look at that – another car just happens to be parked already. Don’t know who could have predicted that. I was even thinking of calling my buddy Mick for backup. He’s a two-ton gorilla of a judo instructor. Normally backs me up on iffy jobs. 


Now up close, looks like that's Mick's car. Haven’t talked to him in a while, actually. Maybe this dame is his? Mick you old so-and-so, getting mixed up in other people’s lives. And sure enough, I turn in a driveway just short of the desert proper, and Mick’s already getting out of his car. 

Through the trees I can see him lean in the window of the dame’s car. Mick, I didn’t know you had it in you. She’s a looker for sure. 

Is he pointing at my car? Can’t be sure, but it seems like something’s off. Now he’s walking toward me, waving. What the heck is this about?

I put the car in reverse. I don’t want to get caught here, lest that paypal account suddenly dry up. If that’s even possible. Can't take that chance.

But Mick, the lug, he blocks me in. Catches me trying to reverse and plants his moose trunk behind me. Awww now the dame is walking up too. Mid-winter fog puffing out of her mouth.

And as she walks she pulls up her long blonde curls, lifts them right off her head. She’s got the same spiky hair as Sheila underneath. Looks just like Sheila, come to think of it.

Jesus. It’s Sheila. It’s my ex-wife.

“Bobby,” she says, winking at me. She puts her arm over Mick’s shoulder.

“What the hell is this about?” I say. I have no idea what she’s playing at. Her eyes were never black. I tell her so. 

“They’re contacts you idiot,” she says. She’s got her lips done up in a different color too. How did I miss it?

 “You did the job, Bob.” Says Mick. 

“The hell I did,” I said. “Who wants me following my ex-wife?” 

“I did,” says Sheila. “Notice how all your old leads went dry? Notice how your services have been… less demanded.” 

“Maybe I do,” I say. “I’m doing fine.”

Mick and Sheila look at my dirt-mobile and smirk at each other. So what if I haven’t had work in a while. What’s it to them?

“You still don’t see it, do you Bobby?” says Sheila. “You never had the eye for it. You always wanted to take the quick route. The easy buck.”

“Sorry Bob,” says Mick. “Life don’t work that way. Sometimes you gotta wait in the line to get the prize. And Sheila here, you kept her waiting. And she waited good. Now she’s the best P.I. in this town. By far.”

I look at Sheila. No way that muddleheaded broad could rock a case all the way to bed. I’ve got the head for this business. I was born for it. But then again, I couldn’t recognize my own ex-wife? 

“You’re dried up, Bobby,” says Sheila. I look out at the Desert of Maine. 

“So this is your symbolism,” I say to her. “You dames and your hidden meanings.”

“That’s all life is,” says Sheila. “If you can’t read the writing on the wall, you might as well be blind.”

“So who paid me,”  I ask. 

“I did,” says Sheila.

“You can’t pay for that.” I say. One nod to her beamer shuts me right back up.

“So what is this, an intervention?”

“You bet your ass it is,” says Mick. 

“You’re done. You’re through,” says Sheila. “I’m pulling down more dollars in a month than you’ve made your whole career. You still living in that shack on Cumberland?”

I nod. What are you supposed to do when you’re whipped? You nod. You accept. At least that’s what they expect you to do.

“So you’re just giving me that money,” I say.

“Start a new life,” Sheila says. “Go and be a plumber or something. Something you can make some damn money at. Something where you can survive. Live.”

“Funny,” I say. 

“Funny is you thinking you got an eye for anything. Just give it up. How’d you enjoy your Louisiana Bayou Benedict?”

Boom goes the dynamite.

I look down at the greasy steering-wheel, at the dust-littered dash. Getting bamboozled by my ex. Driving this junker out to the desert.

 “OK Sheila,” I say. 

Sheila looks at me with a suspicious eye. Disbelieving. “You’re out?”

“Look, I know I’m a no-good P.I.” She nods. Mick does too. Mick’s nod hurts more. “And I get the point. I never will be good. Hell, I’ll never even be passable. But what you’re talking about is who I am. Here.” I poke myself in the chest like a jerk. But it’s the truth. All I’ve ever been is a P.I.. On the job is the only time I'm happy. Give up my work, and I’m nothing. Nothing at all. I look from Sheila to Mick and back again.

“So the only way I stop hitting the streets is when I get an idea in my head that’s small and fast and made of metal.”

And with that I pull out of the desert to go back to my stinkin’ apartment and my cheap furniture and my shit life. Sure, I’ll never be worth nothing. But when that’s the guy you were born to be, how can you say no?


4.3 Stars

Bintliff’s has been around for years and their menu shows it. Each dish contains no little amount of care and craft. And with a menu this big, it’s surprising the quality remains so consistently high.


(Not that many) Dolla dolla bills y’all

You can pay for a filling brunch (for one) with a twenty and still have more than enough for the tip. Start getting bloodies and mimosy-does though? That’ll cost ya, stranger.


Comfy Attic

Most likely you’ll be upstairs where the lighting is low and the booths are comfy. Old wood and plenty of nostalgic pictures all over the walls will put any workaday drudgeries from the mind.


More Coffee?

They keep your cup full. The hallmark of a fine brunch experience.



Wait your turn. Don’t leave. Just grab a coffee from the bar, put some cream or sugar in it if those are your things, and just have some patience. You will like it. Heck! You might even love it. Rest assured, Bintliff’s is a Portland gem. Give it a try or many. 

Caiola's (Brunch) - Portland, ME

The egg didn’t think highly of herself. Spending all her time with the cream had given her quite the complex. How could it not? The cream was so full of herself; knowing, and constantly expressing, that she was the top of her kind.

Nobody flirted with the egg; the cream got all the attention. The bread would flex its strong crust at her. Bacon would utter just lewd things, so bold. Luckily, the one breakfast meat the egg and cream mutually lusted after stayed silent: sausage.

Oh, how her yolk fluttered for sausage.

She never even dreamed of mixing with him. It was too daring, too audacious. As far as she knew, the people in white would not allow it.

From the scuttlebutt in the fridge, eggs like her had only rarely “mixed” with sausage. Normally, her spotted kind were stuck next to thin toast or put upon a bed of steadfast, earthy hash browns. Not that one could complain. Potatoes were alright. A bit of a bore.


You are looking at obscene deliciousness.

 Picture ℅ Map and Menu

“Dahling,” said the cream.

Not now, thought the egg.

“Oh dahling, you just can’t believe what a good feeling I have.”

“Is that right?”

“How can you be so very serious at a time like this?”

“A time like what?”

“Why girl don’t be so daft,” said the cream, looming imperiously over the egg’s carton. “It’s nearly our turn!”

Sure enough, the carton was nearly empty. The egg saw that there were only a couple of her kind left. She felt a thrill in her yolk.

Would she finally meet her lover on the hot, hot stove? Would she finally be allowed some sort of romance in what had been, to date, a very uninteresting and chilly life? Or would she most likely end up in a lonely lump, sectioned off on the plate to be eaten with overpowering ketchup, that uncouth fellow who seemed fine to mingle with almost anything?

“I’m just so very bothered,” said the cream. “I feel just as rich as the day I was skimmed. Don’t you?”

“Well,” said the egg, “I was laid…”

“Quite, quite,” said the cream, “I’m glad you agree.”

They both heard a sound that made them hold their respective non-breath: the squeak of crocs on restaurant-quality rubber. Soon came the suction sound. Then, a sliver of light opened up to the full, bustling panorama of the kitchen.


Is tat door a basktball Hoop b/c evry meal s a SLAM DuNK! Ohhhhh noooooNonoNonoNooooooOooOo.

Picture ℅ Maine Today


A white apron appeared, raising it’s hand. The hand found the cream, of course, who burbled with delight. But as soon as she was grabbed, her glossy form was quickly scooted aside. The white apron snatched the egg. 

The egg felt weightless, finally chosen. She could hear the cream’s indignation. But the feeling of euphoria didn’t last long; dread swept over her again. She’d be scrambled into a mushy mess. She’d never reach the grandeur of a benedicted egg; that round, gleaming whiteness, covered in a flowing cape of sauce, perched atop a hunk of glistening ham. No, it could never be that good. Always a bridesmaid, never a bride. Whatever that meant.

The egg was placed beside the griddle, staring out over a veritable orgy of carnal delight, the likes of which she had neither expected nor seen before. Bacon sizzled next to chorizo. Eggs and cheese melted into each other’s embrace. A tingling started inside her.

The egg knew she would be scrambled into mush. She just knew it. But the tingling remained. A glimmer of hope inside her dappled shell.

Oddly enough, the white apron picked up a thick slice of bread and cut out a section in the middle, placing the bread upon the slick, oiled cooking surface. And then with a swift motion, before the egg could even think to protest, the white apron cracked her eternal cover, and poured her, naked, into the rapidly hardening bread’s embrace.

The Bird's Nest: it tastes better than skinny feels.

Picture ℅ Cloak & Dagger 

The egg never thought bread could feel like this. Certainly, she’d gossiped about it with the cream and other eggs. But this bread was so tender, yet so strong. He became stiff as she heated up, her form becoming white and glossy, a color the cream could only ever dream of having. It was amazing. The egg moistened with heat and delight.

And then they were flipped, the bread more on top than around her, penetrating her from seemingly every angle. It was getting so hot. A dash of pepper and salt added some spice to their frantic mingling. The pleasure was so intense the egg could hardly stand it. This bread was amazing: so intuitive in how he enveloped her. Like he was reading her mind and reacting to every thought before she could utter it. She and the bread heaved there on the griddle, for all to see.

By the time the white apron laid the two of them onto a cool plate, the egg was shivering with pleasure. The two of them lay there, saying nothing to each other, simply basking in their mutual heat.


Hey. Hey, Cook. Good job.

Picture ℅ Caiola's 

But it seemed that the white apron was not quite done yet. As they lay in each other’s embrace, the white apron appeared with a pot, in which something thick was simmering. A ladle appeared, and the egg gasped.

But what was she smelling? It was something strong, powerful with a hint of spice. No, surely it couldn’t be sausage. This smelled so much fuller, more intensely masculine. It was as if sausage had been distilled somehow, intensifying his most basic, beautiful elements. It couldn’t be sausage. She couldn’t be this lucky.

But it turned out, she was.

With a flick of the wrist, the white apron covered the egg and toast in a powerful, thick layer of sausage gravy. Smooth yet full-bodied. Unbelievable in its potency.

She and the bread both moaned involuntarily. Stores of passion opened up beneath what they thought had been completely spent.

It was an orgy of flavor and texture. Passion rising with each heated moment as they mingled and came to know one another, fully and truly.

They whispered to each other, that trio of flavors. Buttery words of passion slipped between them as they rolled and caressed every inch of each other, the plate, once cold, now warm and steaming beneath them.

All this business, this, sexuality, should have made her feel dirty; a prim egg like herself, completely innocent and unaware of the carnal pleasures that this kitchen permitted. But it felt so right, completely natural. She couldn’t have resisted if she tried. She surrendered herself to the sensations that surrounded her.

The egg was so enraptured with the sausage gravy and toast, she hardly notice that a group of sweet potato fries – shoestring style – had been placed beside them. She didn’t mind their gawking. In fact, in spite of herself, she found that she enjoyed it. Simply, yolk and white-encompassing pleasure. The egg was in ecstasy.


"Why is he writing this?" you wonder. Because I can.

Picture ℅ Blueberry Files 

When they’d done everything imaginable to each other -- their romp complete -- they were placed under a hot light.

In that moment, the egg saw something: the cream. Their gazes connected. Even from a distance, the egg could see the envy on the cream’s quivering countenance.

But it didn’t end there. The cream was picked up and poured into a small burnished pitcher. The worst fate of all! She’d be forced to “know” a pot of chatty coffee or snobby tea. A more quotidian end for that hifalutin tea neither the egg nor the cream could imagine.

The things the egg had felt, the heights of passion and pleasure she had found made her almost sorry for the cream. But really, who could feel sorry for that supercilious dame.

The egg put her mind to the present. She knew that her, and her partners’ end was near. It was the natural way for all food to go; each plate eventually whisked off into the bustling commotion of the dining area, that place from which none came back. At least, not the way they left.

It was time to enjoy herself. The egg had been lucky, she knew, ending up in a Bird's Nest with these unsurpassed ingredients. Here in Caiola’s, she could never have guessed the delights that had awaited her. So, rather than think of any future she simply enjoyed the moment. For there is little worse than squandering pleasure with cold, rational thought.



5.0 Stars

Food porn. There is no other way to describe it. Best brunch in Portland.


Upper Middle Class

For two people, you’ll end up paying ~$40 all told. As opposed to the $35 you’d spend for any other legit brunch. Worth it for sure.


Rural Italy

Wooden tables. Cute pictures. Comfy (not cramped) seating. However that does mean there could be a wait, so go early.


AAA (not major league)

Great servers all around. Smiling. Keeping that coffee filled. Only once did it take a fair bit to get food. But a little more time with your morning coffee? C’mon.



If you are in Portland on a Sunday morning, there is no possible excuse you can make to not go to Caiola’s brunch. Plague? Tough it out. Plane crash? Go as a zombie. Grandma died? Grandmas die. Wait, that last one was mean. Sorry I love you G mama.



Marcy's Diner - Portland, ME

Man A: Are you ready to go?

Man B: If you’ll lend us an ear.

Man 2: As we review Marcy’s.

Man 3: …

Man 2: Um, Man 3 isn’t here. 

Man A: Hmm, the timing is right.

Man B: Wednesday morn on the dot.

Man 2: I’m really sorry guys, but here he is not.

Man 3: …

Man A: Man 2 that was your duty!

Man B: Your call and your charge!

Man 2: I really am sorry, I feel like an ass that’s quite large.

Man 3: …

Man A: Well this is a boot in the jeans.

Man B: A tap to the jewels.

Man 2: Where the hell could he be?

Man 3: Yo, what up fools!

Man A: Finally, good goodness.

Man B: You’ve decided to show.

Man 2: What took you so long?

Man 3: Um, some stuff... Look, let’s go.

They gawt a sense a hume-a!

Picture C/O Tripadvisor

A-5, 6, 7, 8!

Man A: Well haven’t you heard?

Man B: Rave reviews did you see?

Man 2: For a diner in Portland by the name of?

Man 3: Man 3?

Man A: Already, you cooked it.

Man B: Straight into the pot!

Man 2: Dude, we’re rhyming about Marcy’s.

Man 3: That’s not what I thought.

Man A: We absolutely are.

Man B: Marcy’s Diner you know?

Man 2: Open for breakfast + brunch,

Man 3: I don’t know that place, yo.

Man A: What the hell, man?

Man B: Seriously, what the hay?

Man 2: We’re only here to review it.

Man 3: Well why didn’t you say?

Man A: It was on the invite.

Man B: yeah seriously Man 3.

Man 2: Ohhhh, I forgot to give it to him.

Man 3: Haha! Boom!… See?!

Man A: Well we’re doing it now.

Man B: This is taking too long.

Man 2: Alright, we’re reviewing Marcy’s Diner.

Man 3: Yo check out this song.

Man A: Jesus in God’s heaven!

Man B: Poo out a brick!

Man 2: I vouched for you Man 3.

Man 3: What? Why are you being a dick?

Man A: Hey! No more profanity!

Man B: We’re here for Marcy’s, see?

Man 2: Didn’t you eat there yesterday?

Man 3: Is it right on Oak St. and Free?

Man A: That corner precisely.

Man B: Green front, hard to miss.

Man 2: It’s the one with the flag.

Man 3: Wait. Crap. Looks like this? 

Man A: So, have you been then?

Man B: Yeah, you really did go?

Man 2: He was most likely baked.

Man 3: hahahahahahahaha right? Y’know?

Man A: Cease this talk about drugs!

Man B: We’re child-friendly: PG.

Man 2: Oh right, Man 3, play along.

Man 3: That’s one lame-ass strategy.

Man A: Well, gentlefolks love it.

Man B: “peeps” all kinds, you know.

Man 2: We’re doing this mainstream.

Man 3: Shi... I mean, fu.. Whatever, let’s go.

Man A: …OK, so we’re ready?

Man B: Seriously, all set?

Man 2: I know that I am.

Man 3: Yeah, sure. You bet!

Man A: Alright, Marcy’s is fine.

Man B: For breakfast in a pinch.

Man 2: Hash browns that are solid.

Man 3: Though cash only’s a bitch.

Man A: Hey! Though that is quite true.

Man B: And no ATM nearby.

Man 2: Means it’s less than convenient.

Man 3: Like c’mon Marcy’s, try.

Man A: The Hobo Hash is indicative.

Man B: Of the whole place.

Man 2: Home fries, chili, cheese, eggs

Man 3: Straight to the face.

No, that’s not my finger in the side of the picture! IGNORE IT!

Man A: The proportion’s humongous.

Man B: Made with love not finesse.

Man 2: And the end result, while tasty.

Man 3: Is kind of a mess.

Man A: Flavors sink into flavors 

Man B: Meld to form a gut bomb

Man 2: Enough food for a family.

Man 3: Even ur mom.

Man A: ...The best part’s the muffins

Man B: Heated straight off the grill.

Man 2: Though the coffee is standard

Man 3: ...I shouldn’t have taken that pill.

Man A: Seriously? What did he say?

Man B: We were doing so well…

Man 2: Man 3 what’s the deal?

Man 3: What if our skin was a shell?

Man A: Please tell me this isn’t happening.

Man B: Seriously, what did he take?

Man 2: I dunno he’s f-ing out-there

Man 3: Hee! That’s no hat for a snake!

Man A: So he’s tripping now, right?

Man B: Look, he’s crawling around.

Man 2: He’ll be fine in a minute…

Man 3: Sergeant Hissy just frowned.

Man A: Can we do this without him?

Man B: Yeah it’s pretty simple to do.

Man 2: Ummm. *Looks over at Man 3*

Man 3: A plus B equals… moo!

Hello, old friend.

Picture C/O Jemura42

Man A: Forget it, let’s try.

Man B: Yeah we were talking about coffee.

Man 2: So should we move to the service?

Man 3: Yebdo qhi ni Pon Mofee.

Man A: Oh now he’s talking in tongues!

Man B: This is really distracting...

Man 2: I knew I shouldn’t have invited him! 

Man 3: Haha, boom bitches! Acting!

Man A: Wait, you were fine all along?

Man B: You son of a bitch!

Man 2: Jesus dude, I was worried.

Man 3: Chill out y’all, what’s the sitch?

Man A: The “sitch” is you’ve sunk us .

Man B: An abject disaster.

Man 2: Yeah man, I doubt anyone’s still reading.

Man 3: Whatever, you’re lame and I’m plastered.

Man A: Plastered or not... 

Man B: Let’s just finish this thing.

Man 2: *whispering* actually it was pretty funny.

Man 3: *whispering back* Man A’s eyes were all *p-ting!*

Man A: Alright, Marcy’s: their service.

Man B: Been fast and courteous to me.

Man 2: Though the owner has a slight ‘tude.

Man 3: Hey, courtesy ain’t free.

Man A: Her personality is strong, I’ll concede.

Man B: But the food is the point.

Man 2: It’s fine enough for a diner.

Man 3: After a big fatty j… appoint… ment.

Killer selection of SOUCE, though.

Man A: I’ve had the corned beef hash.

Man B: The litmus test of a diner.

Man 2: Yeah we both had that too.

Man 3: And I have had finer.

Man A: That’s precisely the key.

Man B: It seems no matter what you get.

Man 2: It’s stick to your ribs tasty.

Man 3: But it’s never the best bet.

Man A: Yes, indeed it is good.

Man B: But for the rave reviews we've heard.

Man 2: After Caiola’s and Hot Suppa,

Man 3: this ain’t even third.

Man A: Indeed an adequate summation.

Man B: It’s the truth there’s no doubt.

Man 2: The best brunch in Portland?

Man 3: This is not, yo. Peace OUT.


3.0 Stars

The type of meal where the first bite is great, and the last one is a labor.



Nothing to break the bank. You’ll get more than stuffed for $14. Or just take it easy and you can skate out for under $10.



Lots of kitsch and “Kiss the cook... OR ELSE” type fridge stickers. Def cozy tho.



Again, like at home, they’re warm and know your name, but they won’t hesitate to give you some good-natured guff.



Sure, there’s a lot that Marcy’s does really right. It’s just that in Portland, the brunch options abound. For minimally more, and in some cases less money, you can find a brunch that’s about 4x better.