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A Night at the Opera

By Tater Barley Banks | Comment Diversions | November 28, 2009 |

By Tater Barley Banks | Comment Diversions | November 28, 2009 |

I live in Morgantown, West Virginia. It’s the home of a major university with about 28,000 students, and roughly the same number of year-round residents.

Not a lot happens here, except maybe on football weekends, when for a few hours this becomes the largest city in the state. It’s the kind of town where a high school teacher accused of being drunk and dancing with students in class is front-page news for two weeks.

With such a large student population, the downtown stays pretty active, lots of bars and restaurants and such. Storefronts don’t stay vacant for too long, and the local economy is relatively recession-proof.

Pittsburgh is 80 miles away, D.C. and Baltimore about three hours.

Generally, life is good in a town like this, quiet much of the time, but there’s noise if you want to find it.

And there’s not a HUGE nightlife, but there’s stuff to do.

If you came to my town to visit, here’s where I’d take you.

First, there’s a kind of old-hippie burritos and beer restaurant where the food is good and there’s lots of it. It’s called Black Bear, and we’d start there.

A half block up the street is an old art deco movie theater that’s been split up into three sections. It’s an all-movies all-times $5 place that shows second-runs and some indy films and docs. “The Invention of Lying,” “Capitalism: A Love Story,” and “Bright Star” are the offerings as of this writing (10/31; I like to write ahead). I’m sure there’d be something there we could agree on.

Back down the half block and across the street from Black Bear is 123 Pleasant Street, a smoky, dingy, crappy-restroom nightclub that has been in business under various names for more than 20 years (with a brief interruption to have many fire code violations addressed) that usually hosts our strong contingent of local bands but also snags the occasional touring act: White Stripes, Rev. Horton Heat, Nashvile Pussy, Jason Isbell/400 Unit, and, back in the day, bands like Fuga i (dammit, my sideways N key doesn’t work), plus some bluegrass and neohippie bands. There’s almost always somebody worth seeing, and if the band isn’t that good the beer selection is.

That’s it, that’s what we’d probably do if you came to my town for a night.

How about your town? If I came to visit a fellow ‘Jib, where would we go and what would we do?

Go ahead, brag on where you live a little.

And while I’m on this: A few years ago we (“we” meaning the site, not me) did a sort of demographic survey of the readership, mainly focusing on where ‘Jibs live. IIRC there were something like 600 responses to that. There were some surprises, 3-4 ‘Jibs discovering they all live in the same modest town, that kind of thing. Would y’all be interested in doing an updated list as a diversion? And would someone with spreadsheet skills volunteer to assemble the data into a readable chart? (Hell if I’m going to do any actual work here, I’m an Idea Guy). Say yea or nay in the comments. A spreadsheet volunteer gets a personal “Hell yeah!” from the Master.


TATER BARLEY BANKS is not to be trusted. He probably makes up everything he writes about himself, especially the stuff about living in West Virginia. Don’t be fooled. In truth, he lives in Pajibaland, where he speaks gibberish as , (TCFKAB), spends his time sitting on a park bench, eyeing little girls with bad intent, and is developing a 25-letter alphabet, now that his key doesn’t work. He has no blog, no FaceBook page and no MySpace page, so don’t try to find him.


Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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