Today’s Brew: Old Rasputin

When, in the course of my years of legal eligibility to seek gainful employment in the State of New York, I’ve found myself fleeing from one job in seek of another, I’ve always kept in mind my own indolence and chronic lethargy: in other words, I sought a job within reasonable walking distance from my beloved living room reading chair.

I spent my senior year of high school at Bob and John’s La Hacienda – I still hold as a testament to their superior product the fact that, despite living in the lactic and oleaginous bowels of the beast, squeezing blocks of spinach-ice in coldest February under the votive cigarettes burning by the open alley door, and reaching my tender arms deep into the black ovens in the hottest peak of July, I still ate their pizza whenever the opportunity arose.  (In fact, I ordered some just two days ago, and shared it with friends at a picnic in Delaware Park.)

I was a Resident Assistant during my time at Canisius; this was perhaps my laziest job, as to perform it, I never had to leave my room.

But, with college behind me, I knew I’d have to fill the two and a half months before I depart for Ireland by, as one Canisius professor sometimes puts it, “doing productive labor for money,” for the sake both of my sanity and my bank account.  I will be leaving the country – perhaps for one year, perhaps four; buying a car would be imprudent.  So I looked three doors down from my old pizza-slinging employer and found what, at this point in my life, I can only call the perfect job: the Village Beer Merchant.

My father joked on Facebook: “The American dream: Go to college and seek out a job in the area where you have learned the most. It worked for my son. He starts his job next month at the Village Beer Merchant”

Really, though, as I’ll probably have to moonlight as a bartender in Edinburgh to offset the cost of my foreign education, becoming something of a beer sommelier in the interim should be a good way to boost my resume.

But it was the unseasonably cold weather of the past two days that led me to this post, the first in a series detailing beers to pair with our fluctuating Buffalo weather.  For craft beer fanatics like myself, this first choice might come as a surprise.

The North Coast Brewing Co. debuted Old Rasputin in 1995, 89 years after the mystical drunk and faith-healer to the Romanovs was beaten, shot, poisoned, and drowned, having temporarily united Russia’s political right and left in their mutual hatred of him.

The beer has an equal and opposite effect: everyone who tries it loves it instantly.  Its makers place it in “the tradition of 18th Century English brewers who supplied the court of Russia’s Catherine the Great,” according to their website.  The Russian Imperial Stout pours black with a brown head – like dark and milk chocolate, layered.  Unlike beers that advertise chocolate tastes on the label, Old Rasputin’s chocolate flavor is subtle, balanced by notes of roasted coffee, just as the warm malt flavor is balanced by the well-played hops.  The saucy pseudo-saint boasts a boozy 9% ABV, but the full-bodied flavor masks it – you might say it sneaks up on you.  Or, at least, it could, which is why I’d suggest sharing a four-pack with a friend or perhaps a lover.

I did say this would come as a surprise, but I wasn’t referring to inebriation.  When listing their favorite summer brews, I can’t think of anyone who’d snap their fingers and name this rich, chocolaty, warming stout.  The hopheads might nod to Southern Tier’s Farmer’s Tan; Belgophiles would pledge allegiance to their beloved sour brews; and I’d be quick to name my favorite wheat beer, Augustiner’s Weiss (and my summer vice).

But yesterday I sat at home, reading Moby-Dick, under skies as dark as a cachalot’s gunmetal flukes.  The day before, I had to drive through a storm every bit as violent as one of Melville’s Nantucket squalls.  There hasn’t been much that screams “summer” about this recent late-May weather.  It’s perfect, though, for drinking Old Rasputin.

Perhaps the beer would be best in the winter, between Black Friday and the first green of March, sipped near a fire in some warm Russian izba, especially after one has just come out from the cold.  The beer’s magic lies in its many fine balances after all – the play of warm and cold would be the perfect environment in which to enjoy it.  But on rainy days like the ones we’ve just had – when the weather dips close to sixty, and intermittent winds make us reach for denim coats, or knit blankets – a stout might be more soothing than a weissbier or an IPA.  And as far as stouts go, Old Rasputin is my unchallenged favorite.

The bottle’s label features a black and white sketch of the elusive Grigori, his deep-set eyes lancing you, his hand raised in benediction – or in warning.  Around his visage is a Cyrillic semicircle, an old Russian proverb which the North Coast brewers translate as, “A sincere friend is not born instantly.”

That may be so, but on a bottle of Old Rasputin there’s something ironic about this.  The Russian stout is no acquired taste – it won’t take more than a sip for you to pledge your undying loyalty to Old Rasputin, who, I’m convinced, will return the honor.  Enjoy the next time summer clouds roll in.

 

Old Rasputin

“A sincere friend is not born instantly.”

Note: I’ve read that the North Coast Brewing Co. has a vintage version of Old Rasputin, aged in bourbon barrels.  This ranks high on my list of brews to track down.  Thanks also to critic and scholar Patrick T. Clancy for his seminal essay on the historicity of Rasputin, “Erotomaniac or Scapegoat?” (1994).

Two Years After Dortmund

This article was originally published in the Sept. 2012 edition of Forever Young Magazine, two months after I’d returned from my first trip to Buffalo’s sister city, Dortmund, Germany.  I’ll be heading back to Dortmund in Aug. 2014 to revisit the friends I made there.  I thought this would be an appropriate time, then, to look back on that first trip.  All pictures are my own.
 

When I arrived in Dortmund, Germany – around six AM on a Wednesday – I was greeted by my dear friends and generous hosts, the Spruchs.  I was tired.  I had left Buffalo at eleven AM the previous day, and, flying economy with Lufthansa, sleep was always just a few rows away.  However, I was in Deutschland on a mission: to immerse myself in Buffalo’s sister city, to embrace the German culture, and to have a rollicking good time.  These goals (especially the latter) did not allow for many naps.  As I was soon to find out, neither would my hosts.  After a breakfast of coffee and tea, fresh rolls, and Nutella, I was whisked away by train to begin my adventures in downtown Dortmund.

Downtown Dortmund

A Buffalonian such as myself cannot speak about downtown Dortmund without a sigh, for an unflattering comparison with Buffalo’s own downtown area is unavoidable.  The two cities are actually quite similar: both were once industrial centers and both have since seen that industry move away.  And while Dortmund boasts a population more than twice that of Buffalo, this population is more spread out; its buildings are shorter and its skyline is less impressive.  Walking through downtown Dortmund, however, one begins to feel just how far apart these cities are.

The most notable feature of downtown Dortmund is the sheer number of people: on every street, in every square, eating at the best restaurants, shopping at the best stores, flocking to curry stands and congregating on church steps at every hour of the day.  Obviously this is a far cry from Buffalo, where even Chippewa on a Saturday night looks like a lurid neon ghost town; but at first glance Dortmund does not seem so different from any other major American city.  Until, that is, one notices the second major difference: the city center’s complete absence of vehicular traffic.

Bookended by two Protestant churches over seven hundred years old and connected to two major train stations, downtown Dortmund is a colorful Candyland filled with family friendly miniature playgrounds and some excellent shopping of every sort: one can find the best in everything from tobacco to toys.  (Incidentally, if one is searching for toys, then Lütgenauis the place to go; tobacco enthusiasts should visit the Tobacco-Volmer in the Corso Passage, where the staff is knowledgeable, kindhearted, and enthusiastic.)  Beyond the obligatory H&M’s and Zara’s, I would recommend the department store Peek and Cloppenburg and the men’s fashion chain Wormland for some brands that one can’t find back in the U.S.  If you still have euros left in your wallet after a day or two in Dortmund, an hour and a half on the train will take you to the German fashion capitol of Düsseldorf, a city whose shopping district could go toe to toe with Fifth Avenue any day.

Dortmund is also home to many wonderful restaurants, which in the summer open their umbrellas and spill out into the wide pedestrian plazas and squares.  Some of the best restaurants can be found in Dortmund’s old marketplace, which has since been transformed into an open square and nightlife destination.  It was here that I had my first Dortmund dinner.

Americans often speak knowingly of the supposedly modest European portions, as if these explain our national girth and their continental trimness.  In Germany, at least, this is proven to be a complete myth.  Whether at home or in a restaurant, the Germans will stuff you like a Christmas hog, piling plates high with sausage and dumplings and several varieties of bread.  At the Peppercorn, however (in the aforementioned square), I ordered a lighter meal – a salad, followed by pork medallions topped in béarnaise sauce and paired with a crisp Weissbier – at least light enough that I could walk back to the train station rather than be rolled.

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If you get tired of brat and kraut, try the German-Turkish Döner Kebab, perhaps second only to street food favorite currywurst and pommes.

 

Speaking of beer, most people know that Germany is the beer capitol of the world, but fewer know that Dortmund is the beer capitol of Germany (or so the Dortmunders will tell you).  I learned much about beer from my gracious hosts, who were more than happy to quench my thirst for knowledge and for beer.  Dortmund specializes in Pilsner, and a visit to Dortmund would be inexcusably incomplete without sampling the local brews.  I recommend Krönen and Brinkhoff’s.

And while most people hear “German cuisine” and think of schnitzel, kraut, and various sausages, a visit to Germany in 2012 would not reach culinary completion without sampling the German-Turkish dönner, a delicious and spicy meal made of pita and lamb, that looks simple but varies widely from region to region, good for late night cravings and quick bites on the go.  I had several dönners in several different cities, and the best by far was found at Anatalya, in Dortmund’s Scharnhorst neighborhood.

Dortmund itself has much more to offer, but it is difficult to profile any one European city without at least mentioning those near it, for one of the most attractive features of nearly all European cities is their ease of access to their neighbors via the train system.  Coming from Buffalo’s single NFTA line, Dortmund’s train system seemed like some high-speed heaven, reachable only by escalator.  It’s not that the rail system is that large or complex; it doesn’t come close to the scope of the rails in New York or D.C.  The real magic lies in the interconnectivity and cooperation between cities.

Imagine that you could hop on the train at Erie Canal Harbor and ride it all the way to Main Street in Williamsville.  Then imagine that, by heading in another direction, you could reach Rochester (a little further than Dortmund is from Düsseldorf) or Niagara Falls.  Then imagine that by switching trains once or twice you could ride as far as Syracuse, New York, Cleveland, or even Toronto.  While staying in Dortmund, I used the relatively cheap trains to travel to Essen for an art exhibit; to Düsseldorf and Münster, a lovely old college town and Germany’s bicycle capital, for some shopping; and all the way to Amsterdam for a day of sightseeing with friends.  Although I took a car to Aachen and Köln, these too can be easily reached by train.

Here I must indulge in a brief exegesis to urge all future visitors to Dortmund to also take the time to visit these two cities.

Situated on the Belgian border, Aachen, a small town of winding cobblestone streets, small shops and even smaller cafes, is today filled with the sound of rain and gypsy accordions.  Once, however, it was a favored residence of the famous Charlemagne and coronation site of the Kings of Germany.  It still holds the twelve hundred-year old Aachen Cathedral, built on the orders of Charlemagne in the year 736.  Other worthwhile sites include its stately city hall, several world-class spas, and of course, the city itself.  Take my word for it, and get lost.  It’s magical.

Nearby Köln (known internationally at Cologne), is less quaint, but holds one of the most impressive Cathedrals in Europe.  The Dom is an absurdly large structure, imposing in its ornate Gothic massiveness – all cornices and towers and statues of saints.  Intrepid travelers can climb some five hundred stairs to the top of one of the Cathedral’s towers, where one can look inward to the twenty four-ton St. Petersglocke, the world’s largest free-swinging bell; or outward, for a breathtaking view of the city.  If this sounds a bit dizzying, then visitors can enjoy the Cathedral from the outside while sipping a Kölsch beer and enjoying dinner on the banks of the Rhine.

There is of course much to do in Germany’s fourth-largest city, but I would recommend walking across the Hohenzollern Bridge, which spans the Rhine.  Here hearts both young and old will be warmed by the sight of thousands upon thousands of padlocks attached to the fence separating auto and pedestrian traffic on the bridge.  Here young lovers will attach a lock (conveniently for sale in kiosks at the closest Stadtbahn station) and toss the keys into the Rhine.  While almost literally in the shadow of the Köln Cathedral, the lovers locks on the Hohenzollern Bridge are also impressive, in their own way.

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The Kölner Dom, or Cologne Cathedral.

Dortmund, however, has more than enough attractions of its own.  Beyond the shops, museums, and restaurants, the city’s most appealing feature may be the lush countryside in which it is ensconced.  Buffalonians sick of ninety-degree days will love Dortmund’s cool weather (fifties and sixties in July): not too cold, not too hot, and never uncomfortable.  Dortmund is situated in the Rhine-Ruhr region (the longitudinal equivalent of Canada’s Newfoundland and Labrador) and has been blessed with a beautiful landscape.  Under the gray skies the trees seem thicker and the air more fresh.  Seen from the plane, the countryside is layered in exquisite greens, a patchwork quilt sewn up with trees.  The forests practically invite one to step in and get lost.  If this sounds a bit impractical, then Dortmund’s spacious and sloping parks, Wetfalenpark and Rombergpark, offer a more accessible taste of the country.

The Florianturm, in Dortmund's spacious Westfalen park.

The Florianturm, in Dortmund’s spacious Westfalen park.

In Westfalenpark, one can ride an elevator to the top of the Florianturm, a pointed needle at the top of which one can see all of Dortmund and its major landmarks: the neon “U” at the top of the old Union Tower brewery, now a museum; the hulking yellow-spindled mass of Westfalenstadion, home to Bundesliga football champions, Borussia Dortmund; and the turtle-shell dome of the Opernhaus, a world-class venue for music and performance of all genres.  If you find yourself in Dortmund and you don’t know where to go or what to see, the top of the Florianturm might just be the place to start.

My intrepid traveling partners on our first day in Dortmund: Steven, left, and Matthias.

My intrepid traveling partners on our first day in Dortmund: Steven, left, and Matthias.

Click below for a photo gallery of some of Dortmund’s best street art.

Gondolier Shirts and Gucci Bags: In Search of the Real Italy

The following is a piece I wrote one year ago, after a Canisius College trip through Italy, originally published (in truncated form) in the Canisius College Honors Post-Journal.  The names mentioned belong to friends and colleagues; all pictures, unless noted otherwise, are mine.

 
capri tree

We sat on metal chairs, hung from a wire, ascending steadily into a cloud of mystic white.  A literal cloud, as we were, at that point, about 1,800 feet above the town of Anacapri, on the Pearl of the Mediterranean.  A sixty-five degree day had dropped to forty.  Behind me, Mike Lillis spouted ejaculations, which seemed a bit premature, as we had yet to reach the summit.  Ahead, Shannon Tierney kicked her feet in the air like a girl of eleven or twelve.

And then we stepped off into the ice-white thick of it.  We weren’t on top of the world; but the rest of the world – Canisius, Buffalo, the United States, the rest of the Italian Peninsula – had fallen away just as easily as the island below us had disappeared in the clouds.

This seemed to be a recurring experience on the Italy Trip.  Again and again, my definition of beauty was challenged and changed – not imposed over some old notion, as a palimpsest, but handed to me complete, like a new world, obliterating all that was.

I found it there, on top of Capri, in the belly of a cloud.

I found it again, on the side of the mountain, overlooking an expanse of water with as many shades and facets as a jewel, Queen Marie’s sapphire replicating itself ad infinitum and stretching off unto the pale blue horizon.

I found it walking the slanted streets of Assisi, every time I reached a gap or a plateau where the houses fell away and the green expanse of Umbria, flecked with brown clusters of buildings, lay spread out like a poem, my own Tintern Abbey, to which I knew I would return, in memory, to sip and take inspiration from again and again.

I found it in the Sistine Chapel, where, with a rather un-Christian impulse, I wished to wipe away all the chattering bodies with their cameras and their earbuds and to stretch out on the floor, alone, and look up.

I found it in Florence, at night, in the rain.

And for this, I thank the anonymous donor who made our trip possible.

 

.     .     .

 

I didn’t sign up for the Italy Trip expecting to spend it in rapture, staring gape-mouthed at this painting or that sunset.  We intended to learn something, to get a hold of “Italian culture,” whatever that meant.  I remember when Dr. Kathryn Williams, our intrepid elder and spiritual Bedouin-chief, asked us what we hoped to see and do in Italy.

“I want to shop,” said someone.

“I want to eat,” said everyone.

Needless to say, we held rather conventional views.  That said, we were a group of Honors students hailing from different majors, different classes, and even different parts of the U.S.  We shopped.  We ate.  But, more importantly, we explored.

My quest for the unconventional actually began with a cliche.  We all came to Italy with certain purchases or souvenirs in mind, many of them cliches: Florentine leather, blessed rosaries from the Vatican.  Well, I wanted a gondolier shirt.

A tourist in Venice can, for 10 or 20 euro, purchase a blue-and-white striped shirt, embroidered with the word “Venezia,” in cheery golden letters, at any number of kiosks along the waterfront, or in the Piazza San Marco.  I thought this was BS.  All the gondoliers wore the same shirts – high quality stuff, I might add – and they had to shop somewhere.

I hailed a gondolier.

“Seventy-five euro,” he said, gesturing to his craft.

“Dammnit, man, I just want your shirt.  Where can I find one?”

He looked puzzled for a moment; then a knowing smile flickered in his eyes.

“Ah,” he said, “the shirt.”

Well.  Without getting too hopeful, I assumed that we were on the same page.  He proceeded to give me directions, which consisted of a few rights, a smattering of lefts, and a trip down a dank and narrow alley.  I set off at once.

Unsurprisingly, the alley took me nowhere fast.  I wound up facing one of the innumerable canals criss-crossing that streetless city, with no stripe-shirt-selling shops in sight.  Luckily another gondolier was docked down the canal.

“Excuse me,” I said.  “Your shirt, where can I find one like it?”

“Eh?” he said.  Completely puzzled.

“Your shirt,” I said.  No reaction.  I wondered: was I allowed to touch Italians?  Would I find myself in some dingy INTERPOL cell, facing sexual harassment charges?  My mother’s side of the family is Italian – we’re pretty affectionate.  And I vaguely recalled something about European cheek-kissing.  I decided I’d risk it, and I pinched the fabric on his arm.

“Your shirt,” I said, “The real deal.  You guys all wear the same thing.  I want one.”

Again, that knowing smile.  I hoped he didn’t think I was hitting on him.

“Eh,” he said, “follow this to the Rialto.  It’s on the other side, a shop.”

“Thanks, brother,” I said.  And I set off once again.

I had to ask about four more gondoliers before I got any answers that made sense.  The common thread was the Rialto, but I kept mistaking minor bridges for this “Rialto,” having no inkling of the scope, the bustling grandness, of the real thing.  Worse still, Mike Lillis kept having sudden flashes of faith in himself.  “It’s this way!” he would shout, and then we would find ourselves at someone’s back door, or in a deserted square, ringed with barbed wire.

Eventually, though, we stumbled upon the Rialto.  “Oh wow,” said Shannon.  That about summed it up – the Rialto was massive.  In the canal, gondoliers poled with cool authority, deft navigators suddenly of narrow straits suddenly in open space, with all the water in the world.  The sun was setting.  We paused for a time, and looked at all the colors.  Then, after asking a confused Asian man “What news?” we set off on an impulse, confident that, though we didn’t know what we were looking for, we were in the right area.

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On the far side of the Rialto, tucked in a sort of grotto, in a spot unfrequented by tourists, I found the shop.  There were a few Italians.  They smiled at me, patronizing but not unfriendly.  I had found my long-sought gondolier shirt – a piece of the real Italia.

 

.     .     .

 

I’m not sure if all Honors students have a nose for dive bars, but it wasn’t long before Jeanette Baker and I found ourselves facing an intoxicated Rasputin look-alike and downing flaming saucers of absinthe not a stone’s throw from St. Francis’ Basilica.  While I didn’t find Oscar Wilde’s tulips, or his truth, I did find a cat, and chased it.

The wily cat disappeared, of course, and left me alone on the slanting coble street, and when I looked up, I saw the Basilica, lit in white-gold and standing sharp and massive against the blackness of the midnight Umbrian countryside.  It was incredible.  The scene that had stopped and stunned me in the afternoon sun, with its greens and blues and stone-whites, dropped my jaw again in this new light and absence of light.

Basilica at Night

 

.     .     .

 

Culture is a living thing.  It exists in the gutters, in the coffee shops, and in the lines on old men’s faces.  We went to Italy to study frescoes and churches and statues, certainly – and while this is large part of Italian culture, it is also history.  The real, vital, living culture – of which these painted ceilings make up only a part – was not written on our itineraries.  No local tour guide could point it out.  We did stumble upon it, though, in each city, whenever we got lost.

Other times, we sought it out deliberately, chased it down and wrestled it to the ground – as I had done with my gondolier shirt in Venice.  This was also, more or less, my experience with the Nigerian purse-buskers in Rome.

For those of you who haven’t been propositioned by a tall Nigerian man holding eighteen purses in his arms, or by a shifty-looking Turk with a whistle in his mouth and a rose in an outstretched hand, go to Rome.  It’s quite the experience.  Some travelers are afraid.  After all, these men can be fairly aggressive.  They don’t leave you alone, they’re full of tricks and unsettling smiles, and you get the sense that even standing too close to them might land you in some kind of trouble.  Not everyone runs away, though.  Some get aggressive, and tell these street-sellers where they can shove their roses.  Particularly native Italians, when mistaken for tourists.  Or Natalia Kuklich.  That girl is fearless.

I remember one point, at the Spanish Steps, when we decided to have some fun with one of the rose-peddlers.  The fellows have a trick.  They’ll approach with a rose, get a woman in the group to take it, and then demand money, refusing to take the rose back.

“Five euro” they’ll say, smiling idiotically.

“What?” the unsuspecting woman will say.

“Flower, pretty lady,” they’ll say.

“I . . . I don’t want . . .” the woman will say.

At this point the male will either get aggressive – “Hey pal, she doesn’t want a rose” – or become completely overwhelmed by the situation, by the language barrier, and begin to turn ineffectually, like a top, on his own axis.

We were having none of this.

“Flower for the ladies?” this poor, unsuspecting Turk told us.

“No,” said Natalia, “I don’t want your flower.”  And then she began to spit Ukrainian fire at the man; and I swear his rose started wilting on the spot.

I jumped into the fray with what little German I remembered from a previous trip abroad – amounting to little more than two phrases, “Keep it dry,” and “Beware the Vagina Police,” which I repeated over and over, in a loud voice.

The man ran away, and no one tried to sell us anything again.

Fresh off this victory, though, I started wondering where these men got their Gucci and Prada purses – how many were fake, how many were stolen; if fake, who made them, and if stolen, who stole them?  So I began to ask every criminal I met.

“Where do you get your purses?” I would say.

“Good price,” they would say, and smile uneasily.

“No, I mean where do you get them.”

At this, they would clam up.  One man said, “You don’t want to buy?  Ok.  We done.”  And he clapped his hands, packed up, and left.  The buskers who would follow you for blocks, chirping, who wouldn’t leave you alone, we literally fleeing from me, as if from a vision of death.

After a while I stopped playing softball.

“Who do you work for,” I’d say, before anything.

One trio of Middle Easterners began to look very nervous, and I kept pushing.  The sun had almost finished setting, and the lights had come on, painting the street yellow and pale blue.  There were ample shadows into which they might slip, and spirit away, should I push further.  And then a thin-faced Nigerian man, lounging on the steps behind them, spoke up.

“What does the boy want?” he said.

The standing men parted like dry brush.

“Where do you get this stuff?”  I asked, expecting more of the same.  The man smiled, though.  He nodded slowly, and I saw that he was different; I entertained the thought, even, that he was higher up the chain of command, if such a chain existed.

“A boat comes into Napoli,” he said.  “Gucci, Prada.  We get them there, bring them here.”

I felt at once exhilarated and rather silly.

“Alright man, cool . . . thanks.”

He nodded.  I didn’t know where to take the conversation from there.  We were hungry, and someone noticed that Mike had gotten himself separated from the group – again.  So we left.  The man hadn’t answered all of my questions, but I felt nonetheless that I had come a little bit closer to that abstraction I sought from the beginning – the real, concrete, Italian culture.

And then I had the best lobster of my life.

So it goes.

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One More Cup of Coffee

Guanxixue and Ian Shoff’s Library Lottery

Or Another Way to Win Friends and Influence People

 

[Originally published on “Backstory,” the website of the Canisius College journalism program.]
 
Ian Shoff graduated from college several years ago with a Mr. Canisius title under his belt and theworld seemingly his oyster. Now he’s  back at Canisius, and he’s unsure what he wants out of life —other than to make sure you have a nice cup of coffee. The tale of a librarian in search of his story.  BY AIDAN RYAN

Picture

By 8 p.m. in Mid-March the view from the second floor of the Andrew L. Bouwhuis Library is limited.  The sun has set and Forest Lawn cemetery is an inkspill.  The houses on Hughes Ave. are dark, because most of their occupants are across the street, in the Canisius College underground clubrooms, lingering around the red and yellow coffeeglow of the campus Tim Hortons, or in the same library, not looking out the windows, because there is nothing to see…

Read more on “Backstory,” the website of the Canisius College journalism program.