The fragrance of D'Amico Coffee in Carroll Gardens is intoxicating. They've been roasting beans for 64 years. And yet, with the neighborhood changing, newcomers have complained--I guess they prefer Starbucks. But that was last year, and hopefully they've knocked it off, because D'Amico's is a great place to kick back with a cup of coffee and a newspaper.
At the tables in the back, old-timers sit and shoot the breeze. One person leaves, another comes, the conversation keeps going without pause. Occasionally, someone breaks into operatic song, but mostly it's talk:
"People are blind and retarded now on the street. They don't see nothing. Me, I can see a cockroach if it's walking on the sidewalk."
"Remember Bobby? Bobby Vegas we called him. A Jew. Nice guy. Died of a massive heart attack."
"Do you know the difference between baccala and stocco? One's the male and one's the female. No, the baccala's not the female, it's the male! That shows how much you know about fish."
"Remember Freddy Black? Freddy Black we called him 'cause he walked
around in a long, black overcoat, down to his ankles. Looked like an
undertaker. You'd see him coming and you'd be like, What's this? Satan
coming back around?"
"I can't sleep at night no more. Nobody can sleep at night. But
consider this--when you die, you'll have plenty of time to sleep."