A trip to the Sugar Bowl

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Located at 857 Dorchester Avenue on the southern edge of the Polish Triangle neighborhood in Dorchester, Massachusetts the Sugar Bowl Cafe simply gets it right.
With weekday hours of 6 a.m.-8 p.m. their regulars get a chance to grab a coffee and a breakfast sandwich to start the day and end the day with a delectable dessert, while the weekend hours of  9 a.m.- 5 p.m. are a little more laid back. the address; the website; the days and hours; whether it is handicapped-accessible; and the closest T stop.

img_20161107_115157Steve Bernath, a recent graduate of UMass Boston who has lived in the neighborhood for three years, appreciates what the Sugar Bowl offers. He said, “This place is a staple of my weekends. You can always find me and my roommates lounging in the backroom on Sunday mornings.  I’ve gotten here before the door is unlocked on more than one occasion.”

img_20161107_171901A short stroll away from the JFK/Umass Red Line station (about 8 minutes), bring your laptop and enjoy the free WiFi while treating yourself to anything from their pastrami sandwich to the hot fudge brownie sundae (which maintains a superb brownie to ice cream ratio.)

“This is a hidden gem of mine,” Bernath said as he sipped his coffee and patiently waited for his breakfast sandwich , “I always make sure to bring friends from out of town here. You can’t sit in an armchair and enjoy yourself at Dunkin Donuts the way you can here.”

One noteworthy quirk is that the Sugar Bowl is a cash only establishment. But don’t worry, they have an ATM inside.

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It All Started With A Red Hat

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WCVB (September 2015)

CSNNE (Tom E. Curran)- I don’t know whether Brady will ever go on-the-record and “correct” Trump on his version of locker-room talk. Maybe deep down he’s thinking if he hadn’t willingly allowed Trump to glom onto him 15 years ago, he wouldn’t be dealing with this crap now.

But at the same time, Brady obviously enjoys the friendship. Fun guy, good golf, nice courses, great cigars and all that.

Saying nothing means remaining loyal to Donald Trump as a friend, protecting the brand and staying above the fray.

But saying something — even something as simple as “I didn’t like the comments…” — will be remembered longer than any cigar or round of golf.

For a man who’s been very much surrounded and formed by powerful, confident, capable women — his mother Galynn, sisters Julie, Maureen and Nancy, his wife Gisele — it’s unfathomable that Brady thinks for a nanosecond Trump’s comments aren’t a big deal.

He really ought to say so. 


Confession. I’m a big fan of Tom Brady. The reality of my life as a New England Patriots fan having already peaked is a sad one, but I wouldn’t trade the memories for anything. I have Tom Brady to thank for that.

Now, let’s just say my feelings for Donald Trump land somewhere on the complete opposite side of that spectrum. So the friendship that has blossomed between the two is a bit of a sore subject for me. Ever since Brady showcased one of Trump’s “Make America Great Again” hats in his locker during media availability the link between the two has been the elephant in the room yet following his silent endorsement Brady has been tight-lipped on the subject.

It always made sense to me. Brady has created a brand, something that very few NFL players are able to do. The league is designed to take from the players much more than it gives. It has the least effective players association and the shortest average career length of the big four American professional sports. But Brady catapulted himself to that tier of athletes who transcend their sport into the public eye. He stayed quiet, deflected questions about Trump just like he would a question about last week’s game. Very clearly his camp identified the questions as toxic and he stayed far, far away. But now Trump has stepped directly into his life. A week following the release of Trump’s tour bus discussion with Billy Bush where they glorified sexual assault which  Trump simply wrote off as ‘locker room talk’, Trump sang Brady’s praises at a rally in New Hampshire.

Brady has been vigilant in his efforts to profess his friendship with Trump while also asking to remain out of any political discussion. This is where Brady draws the line. As Tom E. Curran wrote for Comcast Sports Net New England, this is also where Brady must acknowledge that Trump crossed that line and he would do a lot of good by coming out with a statement and peeling back the curtain a little bit.

This is where I draw the line. This is where Brady needs to step up and say something. In a way, this will always be the difference between Brady and David Ortiz, the two most important athletes of my life. Ortiz was an extravagant force in a sport that is more accessible than any other. A summer with the Red Sox dominating the sports media cycle always meant a healthy dose of Ortiz sound bites and highlights. With Brady and the Patriots, you are permanently on the outside looking in. Brady never gives you a real look behind the curtain. Now more than ever it feels like  I don’t want to know what is really going on between Brady’s ears and that’s just the way he wants it. His brand off the field is the same as the one on it.  Unflappable, charismatic, excellent. But his personal life is a lot like when he is on the field, Brady wants you to enjoy it from a distance.

Maybe I should have listened to Mike Felger after Brady’s incident with the Trump hat when he took to the radio waves to poke fun at the reluctance of Patriots fans to acknowledge that Tom Brady might be a little stranger than we would like. The truth is, Patriot’s fans don’t want to know. But Brady’s actions makes it hard to not wonder how it got to this point.

A Day at the Phantom Gourmet

The 2016 Phantom Gourmet Food Festival had it all. There were creampuffs, meatballs, clam chowder, and endless bags of Utz potato chips. There was a dance contest, a costume contest, and even a VIP party for the friends of Ernie Boch Jr. Rumor on the street was it had everything you’re looking for.

 

 

 

 

Guilty Until Proven Innocent: The Tale of Tom Brady

Training camp is set to take off later this week while hype levels for the defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots are uncomfortably low. Malcolm Butler emerged from the shadows to help reassert the Patriots dominance on the league, but that is a secondary headline going into training camp. Reports are that Tom Brady was waiting for the doors at Gillette Stadium to open on Monday morning, three days before he was expected to report to camp, so you tell me if Patriots fans should worry about the end of the debacle that Deflate-gate has morphed into.

Goodell upheld Brady’s suspension, but I truly don’t care about all that. Consistency is not the NFL’s strong suit. Brett Favre wouldn’t turn his cell phone over while being investigated for sending inappropriate pictures to a team reporter and was fined $50,000. And yet, the fact that Brady wouldn’t hand his cell phone over and later destroyed it was Goodell’s most emphasized point when announcing the full suspension being upheld. Does Brady look a little childish, and even a little arrogant for destroying his phone? Sure. Was it a power move? The type of move that a player the NFLPA is ready to rally around would pull? Absolutely. You must remember he wasn’t handing it over regardless. Requesting someone’s personal text messages for a work dispute is a slippery slope, and under no circumstances was Brady required to turn it over.  Brady admitted to having the phone destroyed, and even received documentation that the information from the destroyed phone was permanently gone.  Goodell continues to push the narrative that Brady has damaged the integrity of the game. I think that Goodell knows he has found a formidable match up for his own ego, which he has recently renamed “The Shield”, and will go to war to protect it.  Likewise, the NFLPA has found the perfect case and the perfect player to rally around in hopes of taking steps towards straightening out Goodell’s path of inconsistency and destruction. Goodell wants to punish Brady, so punish him. Give him four games off and see what happens when he comes back. There is still a chance that Brady won’t miss a single game depending on what happens when the NFLPA takes the case to Federal court. Sports Illustrated’s Michael McCann outlined Brady’s options in court here so take a look at that if you want the legal jargon.

One thing is certain, it’s football season. It’s here. We made it folks.  Now let’s look ahead at the 2015-2016 New England Patriots season, by the numbers.

Zero:  The combined amount of fucks Bill Belichick and I give about Deflategate.

1:   The amount of tears that will trickle down my cheek when Brady makes his season debut at Gillette Stadium and the banner is revealed, whenever that might be.

3:  The amount of games the Patriots will lose this season.

5: The amount of rings Tom Brady will leave San Francisco with next February.

6:  By Week 6 the Patriots will be declared dead in the water by the media.

14:  By Week 14 some people will realize the Patriots are poised for a deep playoff run.

25: The amount of times I will realize how much I miss Vince Wilfork this season.

30:  Combined number sacks between the three-headed monster of Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, and Jabaal Sheard.

35:  The Patriots margin of victory over the Colts in Week Six.

240:  Combined number of catches Brandon Lafell, Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola will have.

When I Look At Danny Amendola All I See Is J.D. Drew

The date is October 20th, 2007, in the midst of the American League Championship Series between the Boston Red Sox and the Cleveland Indians. On a brisk fall night at The World’s Most Beloved Ball Park J.D. Drew steps to the plate in the first inning of Game 6 with the bases juiced.

“Oh great. This overpaid, emotionless stiff again. Why couldn’t we have kept Trot Nixon? Now that guy was a dirt dog,” said every Boston Red Sox fan everywhere.

With one swing of the bat all was forgotten.

That’s just how it is sometimes. Replacing a local legend isn’t easy, especially when the legion of fans consider you overpaid, injury prone, and relatively underwhelming. Red Sox fans were comfortable with Trot Nixon. He showed up to work everyday. The Boston “B” on his helmet was barely visible beneath the globs of pine-tar. He was always going to be second in line if Alex Rodriquez or any New York Yankee needed to get put in their place (first in line was Jason Varitek of course). Five years and 70 million dollars later Drew is calling the vast, oddly shaped right field in Fenway home and nobody knew exactly how to feel about it.

Bringing Danny Amendola on board after watching Wes Welker pack his bags and move out to Denver felt a lot like it did with the Nixon to Drew change over. It was not a change that Patriots fans were prepared for. After two full seasons with Amendola on the roster it appears that Julian Edelman was best suited to slide into Welker’s role as Tom Brady’s security blanket. To this point in his Patriots career Amendola has at times appeared to be a waste of a roster spot. But things seem to be changing right before our very eyes.

Saying Amendola showed up in the Divisional round matchup against the Baltimore Ravens would be an understatement, ending the night with five catches for 81 yards and two touchdown’s. Brady appears comfortable with him, and if the Ravens game wasn’t his J.D. Drew “I’m actually kind of glad we have that guy” moment, I expect it to occur this Sunday in the Super Bowl.

If the Seahawks matchup across the field without any major wrinkles in their scheme we will likely see Amendola with the most favorable matchup for most of the game. Brady will seek out Jeremy Lane, a guy who might be not understand what he is up against considering his recent slander of Rob Gronkowski. Lane is an outside corner forced into the slot due to the elite talent the Seahawks have on the outside and Amendola might be the one who draws that matchup most frequently. I expect him to capitalize.

 

 

Andrew Luck Kills You With Kindness

WSJ – Luck has become famous for congratulating – sincerely and enthusiastically – any player to hit him hard. Any sack is met with a hearty congratulations, such as “great job
 or “what a hit!” He yells it after hard hits that don’t result in sacks, too. It is, players say, just about the weirdest thing any quarterback does in the NFL.

It’s stories like this that make me glad the Patriots already took care of the Baltimore Ravens. As fun as it was going into the Ravens game with a pure hatred for the opponent, I can only take that level of stress so often. With Andrew Luck and his delicious neck beard coming to Foxboro I can breathe easy, for I know he will bring plenty of compliments for the opposing team with him and he will leave with a yet another Belichick-induced loss under his belt. At this point the story lines have been worn out but to be quite honest there weren’t many to start with. The best thing about this game will be whether or not Adam Vinatieri can continue his streak of never missing a field goal when it matters most (Thanks Adam!).

The NFL missed out on the always lucrative Patriots/Broncos match-up when Peyton Manning fully developed into a ghost of his former self, with the new version being transparent for a full playoff football game rather than just the second half. Instead we are graced with a Brady vs. Luck match-up, one that to this point has looked a lot like Maximus vs. The Emperor on repeat, with a huge nod to the running game. (Patriots average margin of victory in the past three games vs. The Colts: 26 points.)

It’s not easy to root against Luck and the Indianapolis Colts. Alright maybe that is an exaggeration. Jim Irsay, their owner, is simply a huge dirt bag. But forget that. For now, let’s focus on the good.

Colt’s head coach Chuck Pagano is the type of guy you want to succeed. His battle with cancer in the midst of his first season with the Colts was captivating and inspirational. Members of the team shaved their heads to show their support.  If you haven’t seen his locker room speech during his first visit back to the Colts locker room, you should really take a look. There is just something about that type of thing that captivates me. That’s a big reason it won’t be nearly as fun to watch Tom Brady and the Patriots blow them out of Gillette Stadium this Sunday as it would have been if Peyton Manning was currently packing his Depends for a trip to Foxboro.

Luck might be “next” in the AFC, but Brady is still the line leader. Somewhere in this make-believe AFC Quarterback’s 3rd grade class Big Ben is stuffing Andy Dalton into a locker.