Chuck Orloski in Bacwals in South Scranton. A pint of Yuengling is only $2 there, and the clientele, mostly Irish, are super friendly, so I'd go there all the time if I was living in the area. The only three online reviews of Bacwals are frothingly negative, however:
roadking134, "Great place to go if you want a junkie to abuse your friends and family. Oh and the bathrooms are routinely covered in urine, feces, and vomit. Its obvious that the owner is only interested in the almighty dollar and doesn't care about good customers. Anytime you want to go out and get confronted by a homeless dreg or drink a shot out of a plastic specimen cup, this is your place to go"
Lay Low Matt, "Drug infested place with scumbags and niggers fuck that shit hole"
Marie Schraner, "Keeps pushing good people away."
You'll get my full take on Bacwals in a Scranton Postcard that will be up in a week or so. In the meantime, check out this Scranton report from Chuck Orloski:
I am sorry to let you know (so late) how bad were the front tires on our KIA Sportage. You might have noticed that in order to keep you safe, I avoided traveling on Interstate 81 during our journeys downtown. This morning, seeing another possible fierce Winter on way, and right after completion of my morning school bus run, I went to a business named Eddie's Tire on Broadway, Scranton, PA. This place is frequented by consumers like me who buy used tires due to the cost for new tires. For two (2) steel belted radials, fairly decent tread, the cost was $80.00, including 6% PA sales tax and old tire disposal. Not too shabby, eh?
I parked the KIA, and introduced myself to the clerk behind “Eddie's Tire” counter, named Dave. He offered me to take a seat and indulge a cup of coffee. As you know, my bladder gets filled quite quickly, and after having a drink, I must pee-pee, so naturally, I politely refused, went outdoors, looked east, and noticed an elderly black lady, dressed in colorful housecoat and “pump” footwear, and allowing her two small dogs out to “do their business." Curious as a cairo cat, I realized her apartment was located directly adjacent to the apartment which once housed 16-year old Aaazis Richardson, the youth who on May 23, 2014, rode as sole passenger in Vincent Darbenzio's McCarthy Flowered Taxi Cab.
A fatal ride, Aaazis Richardson reportedly got irrationally upset when Mr. Darbenzio failed to travel a desired route to South Side Scranton's Valley View Terrace Apartments. As a result, Aaazis murdered the taxi driver, two shots in back of Vince's head, robbery of $500.00. As we discussed on friday evening, when I approached Darbenzio's casket during wake, I was astonished to see his casket open--the miracle of wax and modern mummifiers?
At any rate, I made gentle approach to the black lady (Ella) who stood on the small porch located beside Aaazis Richardson's apartment. Introduced myself, complimented how well she looked at 76-years old. Unhappy with life in Scranton, alone with two white Shih Tzu dogs, Ella missed life in her former Manhattan high rise. She told me about her plans to make Thanksgiving dinner for her family, unfortunately her 31-year old daughter would not be around, she “got messed-up with bad-ass crowd, drugs,” and got so bad that Ella had to go to court in order to gain custody of her daughter's child. As she was comfortable with me, I explained how bad I felt about the taxi driver murdered by her neighbor, 16-year old Aazis Richardson. Unknown to me, I learned Aazis lived there with something resembling parents, but Ella indicated how troubled he was, “every time I saw him." "He always walked around with dungarees hanging low, underwear exposed,” Stella sighed, continued, “You know Mister, kids like him learned that sickening style in jail... they wanted to send signals they're ready for sexy.”
Time passed, we lamented a little about the abandoned Scranton city pool, across the street. Ella sighed once again, she said, “I'm damn happy they closed it down, so much trouble when kids tired of swimming, they'd congregate in front of my place, cussing, making mess of things.” Before leaving, I gave Ella hug, kiss on cheek, reaffirmed how good she looked, told her life in Manhattan must have been good to her... on fixed income, she laughed heartily, went indoors with dogs. Ella was happy the landlord allowed pets.
Upon re-entering Eddies' Tires, I greeted two elderly ladies who sat while waiting for used tires to be mounted on their cars. Christ, Linh, I really should apply for a position as your sidekick someday, I do fairly well, but I KNOW you can not (at present) afford my loquacious services. O well, one lady owned a home, going back to 1930s in Scranton's Hill Section, and during the days of Scranton's Financial Free Fall, exorbitant taxes levied upon home owners, crime, she complained about impossibility to sell her house. Suddenly, Dave, fiftyish, the clerk who stood behind counter spoke-up, and with conviction, shouted “I hate Scranton!” I politely retorted, uh, I think you mean the swinish people and politicians who conspired over time and destroyed Scranton?
“OK, Mister, it's early morning. Let me re-phrase, I hate that set of people, and I hope a spot is reserved for them deep into the bottom of Keystone Sanitary Landfill! Nobody ever find them”
That's how the mob used to handle asshole politicians... too bad their cure for corruption ain't around much anymore, and lethal impeachment tactics are only practiced by boardroom decision makers.”
"Know where you're coming from, Mister,” said Dave. He continued, “You know what really recently pissed me off. Everybody but feral cats around Scranton knows how hopelessly broke Scranton is... Right? Well do you know that Scranton just purchased four brand new garbage trucks..., at total cost of $700,000?
Holy shit, Dave! Did not hear about that acquisition. I think the mob better return quick, at least keep local politicians somewhat accountable.”
“O yea... Mister, too bad the movie The Godfather is only a freaking movie in Chamber of Commerce mentality. O well, your bill comes to total $80.00. Hope Scranton D.P.W. plows city streets once in while, and you get Winter out of the tires.”
Like Matt Dillon, I drew wallet and debit card from front pocket..., Thanks, Dave, probably see you come Spring.
Finally, I love your blog photo selection to date, and sincerely Linh, here's hoping there's no national travel restrictions, and come Spring, Orloski's see you (once again) LAND in Scranton, actually take Apollo 11 walks on the dark side of our landscape.
"Back by popular demand….JZ Tours Classic Rock Fest. One night…THREE bands! Dance away your winter blues and enjoy something different to do. There will be food stations, beer specials, and plenty of room to get your groove on!
Event will take place at Hilton Downtown Scranton in the Main Ball Room, doors open at 6:30 pm, first band starts at 7pm.
Bands will include:
Dean's. When I lived in Grays Ferry 29 years ago, it was still mostly Irish. Now, it's mostly black and Dean's is one of the last Irish bars left. Two years ago, I took a photo in Tasker Tavern, catty corner from Dean's, but Tasker is now closed.
As for JFK, check out this article by Laurent Guyénot.
Finally, thanks to a $100 check from a repeat donor in North Carolina, I'm heading to Taylor, PA next week to spend a couple of days with Chuck Orloski. Last year, I wrote about Chuck's family and Scranton. About six months ago, Chuck was laid off but has found new work as a school bus driver.
57-years-old, Dean is from Holland, MI, but has lived in Ohio, Louisiana, California and Oregon. A ex-junkie and life long con man, he has been jailed for 10 years altogether, and when I met him on the train going through Iowa seven weeks ago, Dean had just been released from a Michigan prison. He let me in on some of the intricacies of barcode, check and credit card frauds, and said he's a kind of Robin Hood, "I give money to the poor. I'm stealing for Jesus."
"So how come he lets you go to jail?"
"Because sometimes it's good to go to jail."
Traveling on Amtrak, Dean would buy a ticket for the shortest ride, but stay in the lounge car or steal seat tags to ride for as long as possible, and he's almost never caught and kicked off the train. This time, he was going to Northern California to see some friends, then his 13-year-old daughter in Portland. Born in jail, Chelsea had never seen her dad and was living with an aunt.
"Have you stayed in touch with her?"
"I've never seen or talked to her, but I sent her presents a couple of times."
"Is she angry at you?"
"I don't know."
"Does she know you're coming?"
Dean called a California girlfriend, "You always had the prettiest face, and I sure did look at it. I just got out of jail, yahoo! and I'm coming to play with you!"
When hungry, Dean would go to the dining car and beg the kitchen staff for food, and they'd give it to him, "Good stuff too. They'd just throw it away anyway."
Dean counsels, "You've got to use your brain. I've always used my brain. They steal too, so I steal, but I don't rip off the little guys. I'd never steal from you."
Dean's take on the current situation, "We're coming to the End Time. We have the anti-Christ as the Pope, and an African as the President."
Born in Vietnam in 1963, I came to the US in 1975, and have also lived in Italy and England. I'm the author of two books of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), five of poems, All Around What Empties Out (2003), American Tatts (2005), Borderless Bodies (2006), Jam Alerts (2007) and Some Kind of Cheese Orgy (2009), and a novel, Love Like Hate (2010). I've been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2000, 2004, 2007, Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present, Postmodern American Poetry: a Norton Anthology (vol. 2) and Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, among other places. I'm also editor of Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (1996) and The Deluge: New Vietnamese Poetry (2013), and translator of Night, Fish and Charlie Parker, the poetry of Phan Nhien Hao (2006). Blood and Soap was chosen by Village Voice as one of the best books of 2004. My writing has been translated into Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Icelandic and Finnish, and I've been invited to read in London, Cambridge, Brighton, Paris, Berlin, Reykjavik, Toronto and all over the US. I've also published widely in Vietnamese.