Market Street Eats - Portland, ME

How to Impress Girls

According to An Eleven-Year-Old Boy


Do a High Kick:

If you kick really high when a girl is watching, she’ll have to like you.


Perform The "Near Fall”:

Or, surprise her with this one:  pretend to fall and then, at the last second, roll out of it and stand up like, “oh you thought I was gonna fall?” Girls love agile guys.

Scratch Baking Co. - South Portland, ME

“Chief,” said Nell, sauntering into my office. “You called for me?” She closed the door and sat without asking, her diamond earrings glinting in the hollow yellow light of my desk lamp.

            “I have a confession,” I said. I lit a thick Cuban cigar with a lighter held in my giant, brown flipper. “I’m a walrus.”

            Nell’s walnut-brown eyes narrowed. That was all the reaction she allowed.

            “You,” said Nell, picking her words carefully. “You’re a… a walrus…”

            “Correct,” I said, blowing smoke between my two-and-a-half-foot-long tusks. “I’m sorry to break it to you like this. I tried to think of a better way, but none appeared. I’m sorry… baby.”

            Her breath probably quickened and I bet the heart underneath her glorious chest might have even skipped a beat, but I’ll be damned if she showed it. She was a hard dame, Nell. That’s why I’d hired her. That’s why I loved her.

            “So, you want me to believe,” said Nell, straightening her back. “That the best goddamn precinct in New York City is run by a four-hundred-pound aquatic mammal?” She shook her head. “Nuh uh… I’m not buying it.”

            She was so beautiful like that — angry, confused — it nearly broke my enormous heart. “Nell I—“ I said. She cut me off with a flat palm in front of her. Her hard façade was cracking. Below us, sirens from the city street wailed up at the closed window. Nell sat up, shaking her head.

            “You’re a walrus,” she said. “You think I’d fall asleep every single night thinking of a walrus? You think I’d write out drafts and drafts of the words I’d use to break it off with my fiancé for a walrus? You think I would have felt my stomach do a somersault when I heard that I was wanted in the office of a walrus?!”

            She got up and stormed for the door, wiping quickly at her eyes. I felt the need to say something, but what could I say, propped as I was with both flippers on my mahogany desk? I thought of something.

            “Nell,” I said.  “Just listen.” She stopped, didn’t turn. Standing there, her black hair framed against the smoked glass of my door, she looked like a silhouette of a dream. God, the professional way she dressed, trying to hide curves that refused to be hidden; I’d have swam through arctic waters just to be with her. “I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I’ve gone crazy. But no matter what I am and what you believe: I still want only you...”

            It was pretty good for off the cuff, I must say. Nell turned. Her eyes shimmered red; she wanted to let me keep talking. She wanted us to work out no matter what. I wanted that too.

            “Please, Nell,” I said.

            She started to say something herself but Detective Alvarez burst in the door without knocking. Nell casually hurried to the window.

            Alvarez’ eyes were bloodshot and his red hair askew. The thin, red mustache that lined his upper lip like mascara quivered with sweat. “Chief!” said Alvarez, panting. “Chief we have a triple homicide out in Jersey City and… hello Nell."

            Alvarez was Nell’s fiancé.

            “Hi,” Nell said, turning from the window, the picture of normalcy.

            “If you’re telling me about a homicide in Jersey City,” I said. “That means it’s him again, right?”

            “Party kids. Spring break from Oklahoma,” said Alvarez. “All eighteen years old. Two males and a female. Yeah Chief, we think it’s him.”

            “Goddamn it,” I said, slipping my government-issue suit jacket over wherever a walrus’ shoulders are. “Nell, we’ll finish this conversation later.” Nell nodded, a true professional.



I flopped out of the squad car onto the frigid pavement. Red and blue lights painted the lone building abutting the lot. Eight motionless officers leaned against their squad cars, sipping at lukewarm coffee in the weed-strewn lot. We were out in the boonies of Jersey City, no place for three revelers to end up. What a shame.

            “Same arrangement,” said Detective Alvarez, getting out of the passenger’s side. I nodded. The kids’ bodies were arranged on the ground, two prone, one bent at the torso. The dead skin of their pale, skinny bodies glowed opalescent in the full moonlight. Their bodies formed a W shape on the ground. Or was it an M? We’d seen this two times before and it was starting to get on my nerves.

            I hunkered down to look at them. These murders were all alike, three young, innocent kids — two males, one female — taken from their natural habitat in the packed jungle of bars that made up the meatpacking district, brought to a foreign place, poison froth leaking from their mouths. Who was this maniac? What was he — or she — trying to prove?

            “Chief!” said Alvarez. “Look.”

            I humped next to Alvarez; he had the girl’s skirt lifted. “He’s taunting us,” he said, pointing to words etched over the faint blue veins of the girl’s pail thigh. This was new. He’d never sent us a message.

            The handwriting was hurried, the blood still not fully congealed. It read, “Monkey see. Monkey do.”

            I was inclined to agree with Alvarez — that this was just another taunt, another piece of the puzzle — but it didn’t sit right. I scanned the scene again, two guys and one girl. Far away from home. I gazed up at the lone abandoned building looming behind us. Its façade was grim, chipped brown concrete framing rows upon rows of windows. So many windows. He’d underlined see. He sees. He could see us.

            “He’s still here,” I said, rearing up on my hind fins. “He’s still here! Form a perimeter!”

            The scene sprung into action. Coffee cups rattled to the ground and service pistols were cocked. Policemen bristled from behind the parked cruisers like some epileptic phalanx. I caught my breath behind my vehicle — walruses aren’t meant to hustle. Alvarez, seated next to me, his pistol up in front of his flushed, red face, gave me a look that said I was either nuts or a genius.

            “What the hell is going on, Chief?” he asked. I twitched my tusks towards the abandoned building. It stood not fifty feet from us, five stories of windows, some broken, some yellowing to opacity, lining its five dilapidated floors.

            “He’s in that building,” I said. “Let’s go catch this maniac.”





The front door opened with a grating shriek, as if its hinges hadn’t been moved since the twenties — they probably hadn’t. Behind us, police officers spread out in a perimeter in case our killer tried to make a slick escape. I shuffled in first, a flashlight raised in my flipper; Alvarez followed close behind. I could hear his pistol rattle in his shaking hands.

            Around us oily dust was pushed up in piles next to skeletons of machines. It was just another manufacturing plant, from back when Jersey had jobs for the middle class. My thick brown hide rasped against the aged concrete. Chipping paint and the odd spray of graffiti littered the walls and girders that somehow held this hollow carcass up.

            “Chief,” whispered Alvarez, shaking. He pointed to footsteps in the grime. They were fresh, leading deep into the back. I nodded and we trudged deeper.  

            My flashlight created more darkness than it pierced, shadow darted behind shadow. Crack heads and squatters had taken everything of use; only forgotten debris remained. My thick torso’s scrape echoed against the concrete walls. We followed the footsteps back and back until they came to a door. Painted on its cracking wooden face, in what used to be beautiful hand-written calligraphy, was the word  “Foreman”. I motioned to Alvarez and he raised his pistol, releasing the safety. We got into position beside the door and I started counting. Even my whisper echoed.

            “3… 2… 1…” I threw my girth against the door, splintering it like Styrofoam. I bellowed for the killer not to move. First, there was silence. Then a bang echoed through the darkness and a blunt stick knocked the flashlight and gun out of my flippers. Both went clattering uselessly toward the far wall.

            “Alvarez!” I yelled. “Get your light on!” But there was only silence again. The smell of the place inundated me, engine oil mixed with dirt and mold, a forgotten smell. But there was something else… something acrid to it that I just couldn’t place. Maybe it was my own fear. I tried to slide toward a corner, I had no idea where this maniac might be or what he’d done to Alvarez.

            As I flopped helplessly, I heard a chuckle.

            “Chief,” it said. It was a deep voice, more gravel than I was used to hearing in it. But it was a voice I knew.

            Alvarez flicked a light on his face; it was pinched up, rage or madness or some admixture of both boiled on the surface. He was across the room, sitting with his feet up on a desk. “I know you’re a walrus.”

            What? How could he know? I’d never told him. Alvarez shined the flashlight in my eyes.

            “I’m a what?” I said, squinting against the glare.

            “You think I didn’t notice?” He said, his voice a sickly growl. “All those pounds of whole fish sent to your office? The way you never talk about family, where you came from. Oh I picked up more than you think.”

            Alvarez turned the light’s beam back on his face. “I know about you and Nell. I know the way you two skulk around like your feelings aren’t on your sleeves! But you don’t know Nell like I do. And that’s why you’re here. That’s why I wanted to show you this…”

            Alvarez flicked a switch and electronic buzzing filled the room. Halogen lights jittered on, dazzling my eyes. Slowly, the images coalesced. The walls were covered in pictures. That had been the acrid smell. Pictures, so many, but of whom I couldn’t tell.

            “Look,” said Alvarez, cocking a silenced pistol and leveling it at my brown dome. “Look at them!” I raised my flippers and complied. Sidling to the wall I focused on the one closest to me. It was of Nell, younger than I’d ever seen her, looking happy, eating a banana. The next photo showed Nell prone in a cage, naked, a dart sticking out of her neck. The next she was sitting in a tree, people were watching her through bars. And more and more: people in lab coats teaching Nell sign language, Nell picking mites out of someone's hair. There was something connecting all these, some pattern or reason in all these images… I just couldn’t figure it out.

            “What are you trying to show me?” I asked. Alvarez cackled, his mania growing by the moment. “You know, Chief. I know you know.”

            I didn’t know. Did I? Hadn’t I suspected this since the moment I laid eyes on her? Hadn’t I felt it in the way she walked with her knuckles lightly grazing the floor? Hadn’t I noticed her swinging from the pipes of my apartment when she was happy? A tear rolled down my giant wrinkly cheek. “Nell is a chimpanzee.”

            “Yes!” shrieked Alvarez, spreading his arms wide. “And how does that make you feel?” Alvarez leapt onto the desk, kicking a stack of dusty paper to the floor. I was confused. Nell, is a monkey? It blindsided me, sent me reeling. I slumped into a corner.  “How does it feel to have something hid from you?! Still love her? Can a walrus love an ape?!”

            “Nell is my love,” said Alvarez. “My love. You can’t even begin to know what that means. You love Nell the person. You could never love Nell the stinking simian!”

            I straightened my back, shook my girth. What was I thinking? What did that change? Nothing!

            “Of course I still love her,” I said, puffing my chest out to its full barrel splendor. Alvarez stepped down from the desk and raised his gun. I began to ebb towards him. “Did you kill those girls? What the hell is wrong with you?”

            Alvarez’ gun shook slightly. “You think I could get the chief of New York City’s most honored precinct out to just any old crime? You think I could get such a figure — such a walrus! — to join me into any old dilapidated building? You think I didn’t know that there was only one way I could break you and Nell up and still get away with it?”

            Alvarez shot me, the bullet hit just below the sternum, taking some meat on its way out my back. I groaned, stopped.

            “Do you think they’ll find you?” Alvarez pulled out a remote with a red switch on top. “I mean… five stories of brittle steel and chipped concrete. That’s a lot of shrapnel.”

            I didn’t know what he was talking about. I was focusing on the next breath. It felt like an elephant seal was sitting on my chest.

            Alvarez kicked open a back door, letting in the sound of sawing crickets. The room hovered at the very extremities of focus. I had to get him, but I didn’t know where he was. My body felt heavier than it already was.

            “Well,” Alvarez said from somewhere in the onrushing blackness. “Got to get back to Nell.”

            I heard a click and then the shut of the door. I didn’t even have time to bellow for help before a dull thud rumbled out from deep in the factory. A large pillow of shrieking warmth wrapped itself around me, lifting my body from the ground. Everything seemed to suck inward as the air was filled with the unthinkable wrenching shriek of falling steel.





I woke up to blinding light and the soporific beep of a heart monitor. Phosphorescent light stabbed my pupils, so I squinted until it only hurt a lot. I tried to roll over and stopped immediately as pain tore through my chest.

            Next to me on a little tray was a piece of paper, folded in fourths. I gingerly moved a flipper, the same pain growling with every inch. I flipped the note open. It read:




            I know you know. Alvarez disappeared. I can’t see you, not anymore.




            I lay in the bed listening to machines tell me I was alive. I didn’t believe them. I’d get Alvarez for this, all of it. I’d make Nell understand it didn’t matter what she was. I’d fix everything if I could only move.







4.3 Stars

*bows at the foot of a bagel altar*


Light on the Dough

$1/2 — For the quality of the eats, the money is well worth it. Bagels themselves aren’t pricy; the baked goods by the counter can run a bit more — in the $4.00 – 6.00 range. Scratch is filled with fluffy pastries that won’t leave your wallet light.


Goods on Display

Bagels are fresh and copious. A horn-of-plenty’s worth of savory and sweet delights await you by the front counter. Fresh cream cheese awaits in the fridges. It’s a walk-in-and-get-what-you-need sort of place with a nice, homey ambiance for good measure.


Swift Lines

Chipper, fulfilled-looking people manned the cash register. Working at a place that’s producing a product of very obvious quality certainly pervades the workspace with a feeling of wellbeing.



If you hadn’t already guessed, Scratch has my number. The quality and care they put into their baked goods is abundantly apparent first in the layout of the shop — baked goods cover nearly every flat surface — and second, upon biting into one of their heavenly bagels. A Scratch bagel’s crisp crust enwraps a matrix of fluffy inner-bagel-flesh that, when lathered with their insanely tasty, made-from-scratch cream cheese, is a piece of gustatory splendor. Seriously, I’ve been back already this week. I will not, however, give Scratch the nod over my all-time favorite bagel spot, Brookside Bagels, but it is a close — and delicious — second. Go there. Eat bagels. Love life.

Scratch Baking Co.

416 Preble St, South Portland, ME 04106

Little City Pizza - Simsbury, CT

March 14th, 2015 was an odd day because at 9:26 AM everything humanity had ever made started using itself.

            I was thirteen. My bed bucked me onto a floor that wobbled under my feet. The steps downstairs tripped me onto a carpet that shuffled me, naked, out the front door to a morning-dewed lawn. Outside, clippers were sculpting the hedges, hoses were watering the plants and lawnmowers were cutting perfect, parallel lines in every yard. My Dad, also wearing nothing — all the clothes were wearing themselves, walking around in front of mirrors polished and reflecting perfectly — was wrestling with a pair of sheers that bridled in his hands. He cursed them as they went scrambling off under a Corvette that had taken itself out for a cruise.

            “Crap,” my Dad said, trying in vain to open our firmly locked front door. Sun beamed through the sparkling, newly washed windows and our vacuum cleaner could be heard hoving ceaselessly across the floor. All down the street people, like newborn hamsters, naked and shouting, were being expelled from their homes.

            “What’s happening?” I asked.

            “The stuff!” my Dad yelled, fish white body darkling with black hair in the bare sun. “It’s all just doing it.”

            Though poorly articulated, he had a point. Everything was simply doing what it was intended for, nothing more. Our house's clapboards and formerly sinking roof had all straightened themselves. The couch inside had plumped itself. And my Dad’s den was spotless, for once, his computer tip-tapping productively away. The house looked nicer than it ever had. But we were no longer welcome.

            In the living room a newly dusted TV was watching the news on itself. My Dad and I peeked through the bay windows from the backyard. The camera equipment over in New York was doing a fine job, with the microphone sounding crisp and clear and the camera framing the shots just right. The show was really entertaining, a perfect mix of humor, professionalism and introspection about the morning’s surprising events. In totality, it was better than any group of people had ever put on.

            We learned that all the guns had shot themselves. All missiles, grenades, mortars and even nuclear bombs met up in the middle of the pacific and blew each other up. The markets were soaring as money shrewdly invested itself or spent itself on mostly assets with a few, fun casual liabilities mixed in. New technologies were inventing themselves while commercials wrote and directed themselves so that new products could buy and use themselves.

            Simply put, all us people had nothing to do.

            Through the kitchen window we watched our food cook itself to perfection, plate and dispose of itself.

            “We’re going to the woods,” my father concluded. And to the woods we went.

            On our way out of town we saw pens scribbling heartfelt, perfect stories under their own volition. The materials for concrete climbed from the earth around us, mixed themselves and with the help of steamrollers and backhoes rolled out perfect new streets. The formerly low buildings of downtown Simsbury were already demolishing themselves and building themselves anew at random. It was clockwork the world over.

            Most people we met looked shocked, some terrified. Everybody wondered aloud why it had happened. Why everything we’d ever endeavored to create had suddenly found no use for its own creators. We didn’t talk much about how nicely they were all performing, though. Why add insult to injury?

            From up on the promontory next to our house where the Hublein Tower sits we could see people streaming from town, eddies of beige and brown. The cities of the world were probably in chaos. Of course, there was a lot of strife among humanity, everyone being forced from civilization and all, but it didn’t take too long for the majority to die away. It was only days before we began to spot people’s remains, behind bushes or by the road, burying themselves in the dirt.

            “Look,” my Dad said. “I made a weapon.” He held up a sharpened stick that promptly bent, broke and stabbed itself into unusable splinters. Luckily, fires made themselves in the woods and though animals turned out to be too hard to catch without tools, we made due with tubers, fungi, rainwater and roots — my Dad had been a mountain guide in his twenties.

            Now, it’s been two years of foraging in the woods and huddling for warmth. The air is already clearer, though the sunsets are less brilliant. My Dad and I don’t do much but sit in our filthy mountain cave, watching our former world expand and perfect itself. Rockets of unimaginable size light the sky morning and night, searching out new worlds. Buildings stretch across the horizon, lavish architecture of stunning materials. We wish we could be a part of it. Everybody left does. But we also have come to a kind of peace, knowing that us people will at least be remembered in history books that will no doubt write themselves, unbiased and pure accounts of humanity’s brief existence and the dreams it strove for but could never achieve.




3.9 Stars

As good as New York (but not New York’s best).


Little Town

My brother and I went and both guessed a full cheese pie would be around $18. It was $12. And it fed a virile family of four. Very pleasing.


Traditional Italian Pizza Place Attacked With Comic Book Grenade

Really, this place has vintage Marvel and DC comic memorabilia everywhere. Pages laminated into the tables, comic book art on the walls. It’s cool. I like it.


Simsbury’s Finest

It’s solid service. Takeout is quite fast. Dining in has always been a breeze.



Little City proves that Connecticut’s pizza can stand toe-to-toe with New York City’s classic thin-crust icon. However, with New York’s recent proliferation of bespoke, artisanal, gourmet pizza shops in the past decade or so, I can’t say it is the best slice of pizza I have ever put past my lips (then again that slice cost me twice as much and I got -2 times the pizza). However again, if you’re looking for a classic NYC-style pie Little City is the only city you’ll need to visit.


Simsbury Town Shops Shopping Center

926 Hopmeadow St.

Simsbury, CT 06070

PH: (860) 658-4001


Street and Company - Portland, ME


Jerry Dresden, Hake Diver Elite, scooted up Lexington Avenue on a brilliant, late-fall Sunday. His SCABA equipment was working swimmingly. Against all odds he would, were his mission successful, be the first hake to successfully accomplish two of the most impressive feats the Phylum Chordata had ever attempted: to not only navigate New York City, but to fly.

            His grandfather, Budge Dresden, the pioneer of hake exploration, had chosen New York City to explore in 1990. On a rainy summer day Budge had flopped onto land in his rudimentary Walking Bell, only built to last for two hours above water. Budge’s series of yanks on the water supply-line — a one, two, two, one combination that signaled, “Haul me in” —came after an even ten hours. Despite his excessive, fresh air exposure, he insisted, to the protestations of his underwater research team, on going back ashore the very next day. He was up for a full eighteen hours before his team felt tugging at the line. When they reeled him in, only the dorsal fin-shaped fabric to which the hose was connected remained.

            Budge’s journey, though unsuccessful, had yielded enough data to spark the hake public imagination and other expeditions were undertaken. Bilton Peabody, a closeted alcoholic and wife-beater, made deep and fruitful forays onto the boardwalk of the Jersey Shore from 1993-96. Renaldo Nestle, brother of famed conservative hake politician Dill Nestle, traveled up the Seine in 2001 and made four  tours of Paris that were later adapted into the blockbuster hake film, “Paris by Land and Love.” Recently, though, there had been only quotidian trips: beach buzzes, dock flop-bys, coastal sneaks, but nothing groundbreaking thanks a tightening of the THE — Terrestrial Hake Expeditions — budget and a contracting public imagination.

            An impressive mission was needed to reignite the public imagination. And so, instead of piddling the rest of THE’s meager budget into more flop-bys, the hake powers that be had decided to bet it all on one last-ditch act of bravado. That was why they’d chosen Jerry. He was the grandson of a hake hero, the best in the THE class of 2014 and, likely, the best ever. He’d been proven stalwart, unflappable and generally a nice young fish, genial to a fault.

            The stakes were immense. If his mission failed, it would most likely denote the end of above ground hake exploration indefinitely. Success, though, promised an expeditionary resurgence and possible rallying cry for all hake-kind.



Jerry’s SCABA whirred across the street at 21st and Lexington in search of Madison Square Park. Looking up at the buildings he felt a pang. Something about the way the buildings hemmed the streets and tipped…

            Jerry stopped where his mind was going by focusing on the humans.

            With no known predators but themselves, homo sapiens sapiens seemed oddly nonplussed at Jerry’s SCABA suit. The suit’s fuselage was built to resemble a Cairn Terrier — the only archival footage available to THE researchers in constructing this newest suit had been, oddly enough, the Wizard of Oz — though, hair being a sticky wicket for hake craftsmanship, the suit looked less like a dog and more like a slimy badger.

            But none of that mattered. His grandfather’s first expedition had delivered the invaluable discovery that no humans really cared about hake explorers. With no known predators but themselves, humans had seemingly regressed to a state of permanent un-vigilance. Certainly some were curious enough to glance at the SCABA suit— usually these inquiries came from adolescent humans, older ones tended to simply go about their business — but most lost interest quickly.

            It couldn’t be ignored. The restriction of movement aboveground affected Jerry more than he’d imagined. He had the urge, as any fish would, to explore all the surroundings: up, down, left and right. Being stuck to one surface was altogether disorienting… Everything felt too close. Jerry’s extensive training had never prepared him for this intense a feeling of immobility.

            Jerry pushed it out of his mind again. He had not been chosen for nothing.

            After gathering up a NY Daily News, a gum wrapper, seven cigarette butts and a paper plate he activated “Service Dog” mode and artfully snuck aboard a bus bound for JFK.

            While snappers were hailed as being the most technologically advanced and bluefin were known for their nearly religious investment in terrestrial research, no fish in the sea could beat the ingenuity of a hake. It was why hake-kind had always gone farther and seen more: they could get places. And Jerry was doing just that.

            Human flight had long been a fascination of the hake researchers. Attempting to glide through air as fish so effortlessly danced through the water seemed the ultimate act of hubris. Impossible even. Yet, they had accomplished it and the fish were determined to understand its implications firsthand.

            In the terminal Jerry slipped effortlessly past the nitrile rubber gloves of security.

            Feeling the hubris of success, Jerry fished in a trashcan for exploratory samples of a pumpkin spice latté, one of many boons desired by the THE.

Though he was closer to the plane, Jerry’s mind remained an un-ruffled slate. His movements precise and his manner perfected. I’ve got this, Jerry thought. Easy.

            Yet in stepping aboard the plane, he thought have planes always been this… tight?



What sort of tube had he crept into? Surveying the plane’s less-than-crowded interior Jerry secreted himself under a seat about midway-back in the plane. The flight attendants announced that the cabin door had been closed. And like a stiff, wooden frame, gnawed and gnawed by tiny termites, Jerry began to feel his poise crumble.

            Through his suit he could smell the noxious recycled air inside the cabin — acrid propane smog. There were bangs, the sounds of grunting drills. Surely the humans knew what they were doing, Jerry thought. But then again, thought Jerry, perhaps they didn’t. Gill-tightening claustrophobia seized him. The clinical walls of the fuselage crept inward. Jerry felt the water rushing through his gills. Panic caromed through his head. His SCABA suit felt as if it were constricting. He had to get out. Had to get out!

            Jerry ejected from his SCABA suit and leapt onto the carpet. Blind with panic, no plan of escape, Jerry’s mouth gawped helplessly on the mid-century modern rug of the plan. He was flopping and his gills burned and he felt the life draining… seeping out of him…

            “You gonna stick this one out, Jerry?” said the voice of Budge Dresden, hake explorer.

            Is this what happens when you die? Jerry thought as his last watery breaths escaped him. Hearing the voice of your hero before an ignominious death?  

            “Hey,” said Budge. “I’m talking to you.”

            Jerry turned and forgot everything he’d been thinking. Sitting in a fine tweed suit, cane at his side, bowler hat resting upon his lapless lap was Budge Dresden himself. Alive, 5-feet long from unchecked growth and breathing recycled air as if it were crystalline Bermuda reefwater.

            “You don’t need that muskrat suit,” said Budge. “Come up here.”

            Jerry remained limp.

            “Stop holding it in,” said Budge. “Let yourself breathe.”

            Jerry did. The cabin air had cleared of its dreadful stench and passed cool and crisp through his gills. He lay, breathing, for a little while, feeling the walls decompress, his mind return to its familiar, calm state.

            “Now get up here,” Budge patted the seat beside him with a flipper. Jerry, using the terrestrial movement techniques he’d practiced, flopped up.

“How—“ Jerry said.

“Not right now,” said Budge, flapping a fin at the window. The plane was taxying itself into position. “Don’t want to miss the fun part.”

            The engines cascaded to life, their hurricane gyrations rumbling the fuselage of the ship. No longer was Jerry worried; he was confused, in awe. Jerry looked over at Budge, the same Budge Dresden captured in a coral statue outside the hake Memorial Museum of Exploration: impressive jaw jutting outward, un-shuttable eyes looking patricianly upon him.

            “How are you still alive?” asked Jerry.

            “Don’t you know?” asked Budge.

            “Know what?” asked Jerry,

            Budge nodded at the words they were made of. The bedraggled manchild at his computer, blearily typing at six in the morning on a damn Tuesday trying to finish a story that was already beyond the pale of implausibility.

            “This is a story,” said Budge. “None of it made sense so far. Why should it start now?”

            Jerry gaped. “Story?”

            “A story,” said Budge. “A modality of speech with the intention of evoking emotion or understanding in the reader.”

             Jerry, or at least the words of which Jerry was made, shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “What does that mean for the mission?”

            “Well,” said Budge, rolling the bowler onto his sloped brow with a deft flick of his flipper in a movement that could never in real life be physically accomplished. “That depends.”

            “OK,” said Jerry.

            They sat in silence for a spell, feeling the plane gently rumble up into the crystalline sky.

            “Depends on what?” Jerry asked.

            Budge, or the brain of budge that was really the writer’s brain, thought about it for a second.

            “Considering,” Budge said.  “That you’re just an analogy meant to represent realistic human emotion and hopes, I have two options. One, I could disappoint the reader by actually remaining real, thus returning with you to the hake kingdom as the true hero: the one who learned how to live on land. That would, of course, make you a less than stellar side note in history and leave the question of how the heck we’re both breathing up here in a plane in the sky that the writer still hasn’t fully figured out how he wants to handle. That’s not what the readers want, though.

            “My second option is to remain what the readers most likely think I am right now: a figment of your imagination — a deus ex machina of an image meant to calm your crippling claustrophobia long enough for you to get back into your SCABA suit and complete this daring mission, sending you back to the hake kingdom to the fanfare and veneration you truly deserve.”

            Jerry nodded. He kind of understood. It was all getting a bit heavy.

            “Which do you think it’ll be?” asked Jerry.

            “Well,” said Budge, turning to look Jerry full on. “The writer is looking for an easy way out and there is none simpler than old deus ex machina. Plus, I’ve had my glory, I think it’s time you had yours too. You’ve earned it.”

            Jerry nodded as his mouth pulled into a slimy, involuntary grin. Beneath them the fang of Manhattan slid into haze. The two hakes gazed out the window — silent together in mutual admiration and contemplation — while the sapphire sky and sea melded into one endless horizon.







I’ve been saving this review for quite some time. Before Central Provisions slapped the Portland culinary waters with its formidable flukes, I would have said that Street & Co. was the best meal to be had in Portland (yes, even over Fore St.). I know that probably galls many of the Fore St. fan  club (it’s the better Street restaurant damn it!), but it’s purely from my experience living here for the past two-ish years. Street & Co. with its fisherman’s stew, its sole francaise and, last but not least, one biblically moist swordfish steak has proven itself to be a sumptuous pescitarian feast waiting to happen.


Thar she blows

It’s not cheap by any means, but it’s not going to bust you wide open like a Hugo’s, per se. It’s a restaurant made for “occasions.” Take a date. Take your parents. Take yourself. Unless you summer on an island, you probably won’t be able to afford to make it a daily excursion.


Foxy Fo’c’sle

Not that this place actually feels like the below decks living quarters of a working ship, but it’s got a comfortable and intimate feel that lends itself perfectly to their fish-focused menu.


At the Ready

Most often, when the prices rise, so does the service quality. S&C is no exception.



I said it before and I’ll say it again, this is a Portland staple. Street and Co. has yet to serve me a meal that was less than belly-pattin’ fine. Even Ahab would (perhaps) crack a smile.





LFK - Portland, ME


Verily did Kent Spoonthistle, dandy of limber limb and virile vivacity, flounce up yon street of Congress in lively Portland-town. His 17 years did belie his aged elegance — or so Kent bethought.

          Darkening the doorstop of one LFK — bar of swell repute — Kent hied for frothy quaff to sop his drythirsted throat. Yet into a doorwayman did he dap.  

          “I.D.” said the doorwayman, a rascal of generous structure and rustic eyebrow.

          “As you wish,” quoth our man Kent, prestidigitating from a money-pocket of chrome tanned leathers the aforementioned item. With necessitous fastidiousness did our swarthy doorwayman scrutinize the flimsy card. In this capturing of his countenance Kent Spoonthistle appeared even more the cub. Yet upon the card there lay a trick! A delectable ruse! This writ of passage had been bedeviled, the age of Kent’s birth ingeniously re-writ. 17? No! This babe-faced bouncing boy was 25!

          Swinging a-to and a-fro didst the benighted brow of yon doorwaybluff trace the contours of both Kent’s likeness and that of his authentic, scruff-bereft prognathous chin.

         Despite this scrutiny, not a touch of flop sweat did spring from smooth Spoonthistle’s pate. In Kent, the nickel-plated confidence of youth was at full burnish.

         With one last glance and an absence of flourish, Kent’s card was returned by the brobdingnag’s paw.

         Entrance achieved!


~ Intermezzo ~


Packed ‘mongst rowdy ruddy rapscallions Kent hailed ye barmander with a hale haloo. “Prithee,” sung Kent, voice a-crack with puberty’s parting vicissitudes. “Perchance wouldst I swig a dram.”

         “Wazzat?” questioned the beau barmander, clad in tee of black, a bewitching maiden. Truth be known — upon reviewing our young dandy’s porcelain grin — a spark of uncertainty did tickle our barmander’s countenance. But professionalism was the day’s wont and she asked his druthers.  With glove-shorn hand did Kent flag the West End Mule. Presently, the barmander gathered spirits to concoct the admixture and Kent, our voluptuary, didst not long wait.

          Naught but a sip of the proffered sup and Kent’s dome was a-swoon with a spirituous elixir his puerile liver would dismiss with the alacrity of mother’s milk. Oh frabjous day! thought Kent. That he had secreted his underage self into this apotheosis of bars. Suckling at sweet ambrosia’s glassy teat, Kent Spoonthistle was whisked to his own inebriated hosanna.

          But sooth! How the Gods weave fates anew. For each flower of fortune is sprinkled with life’s fertilizing manure.

          Into the door burst a procrustean guard of lawfulness! 5-0! Hand to buckl’d hip, our officer, gimlet-eyed, scanned the rabble.

          And lo, did his gaze fall on Kent.


~ Intermezzo ~


Had our Kent not been bathing in lovewarm pools of ethanol, had he not been garbed in his puce dandy’s nightsuit, had he not been ‘pon the stool closest the point of ingress, perchance he could have absquatulated from the thrall of that bilious martinet. ‘Twas not to be. Kent did not even note the policeman’s arrival.

          Patrician claw falling upon Kent’s shoulder, yon officer slavered over swift justice’s proximity. Kent whirled, loosing a mephitic zephyr up the officer’s madwide nostrils.

          “Chuff!” our official-officer bellowed. Egads, thought Kent, as his spirits fell from elation’s elevation to dread’s dungcave. Trapped! Caught! Ruined!

          “ID,” bellowed Hammurabi’s herald.

          Mano a-tremble did Kent sacrifice his fabricated card. Steel-eyed, with pain’s precision, did the officer peruse Kent’s particulars. And all the while a mute orison Kent sent to whatever pantheon watched over this folly; deus ex machina deliver me from this catastrophe! Though time’s hammer tapped on and with each tick Kent succumbed to resignation’s chill.

          From his side, our officer produced a pamphlet, into which he began to scrawl. Surely, this was Kent’s epitaph he writ. A summons to the court of law. The judgement? Immediate death by pancuronium bromide no doubt.

          But the officer’s scratching was interrupted by a sight unequivocally unexpected, through yon ingress strode two more keepers of the peace. At their arrival, didst Kent’s bowels further sink. Yet so too did our officer evince unduplicable fear. Indeed where fate’s manure is cast, so too do luck’s wildflowers spring.


~ Intermezzo ~


Still clutching Kent’s ID, our primary officer dallied for the point of departure. “Stop!” boomed the rightborn sentries of most recent introduction.

          Thence did Kent spot the perfidy of his putative jailor’s garb. Primary point, his badge of cheap plasticine. Point the second, his billy club naught but a scuffed plunger-handle. Third, his garb a wrinkled sham. And most fourthly, a lack of holster’d weapon altogether. He’d been a scurrilous scalawag. An ignominious imposter. A ruse of a rapscallion. Disabused of this mendacity, Kent’s amusement returned.  The fake-officer’s come-uppance was swift in hand.

          Lex talionis thought cackling Kent.

          From his perch, Kent cachinnated as the scene evolved: a less-than bradykinetic brouhaha. Our lying lawman was tackled to the terre. Yelping, the ID clattered from his unmentionable mitts, falling by Kent’s swiveling stool where it was swiftly returned to Kent’s pocket. Our true officer’s barked, our impostofficer yelped. Soon justice’s steely claws clutched his wrists. Weeping was the un-offiver pulled by law’s long arms through the door. And Kent Spoonthistle, illegal imbiber, new-freed luck-haver, didst order another round.




3.7 Stars

If a bar can be described as literary, then LFK is just that. You’re coming for the drinks and the ambience; the food is a cherry on top.


The Right Stuff

Drinks range from quite cheap (~$3) to soberly reasonable (~$12). The craft cocktails will run you in the upper range but they’re all well worth it. The food is also worth the drachma. Protip: if you like deviled eggs, GET THE DEVILED EGGS.


Cat’s Cradle

With enough writerly equipment — typewriters lining the walls, books aplenty, an actual story built into the bar — to keep fartsiest of artsies happy, this really is a wonderful nook in which to exchange some solid conversation. Just beware, it gets crowded on weekends so if you want a seat, come early or late.


Rabbit, Run

They bring the drinks, remember who ordered and split the check like pros. Great great great.



LFK is the spot to come after — or during — a long workweek when you just need to cozy up to a regenerative boozy drank.