Erie Make Me Happy?

A port town sits on the edge of one of America’s Great Lakes, dying and thriving, green with the blossoming renewal of park and playground and chalky grey with the dirt of abandoned industry. Thick with the scent of summer surfing off the bay, sun burns and children playing in sandboxes, skateboards rolling over chalk strewn streets from festivals bursting out of the city’s own blocks. Frigid and coated in the driving, forcing, blanketing decimation of a seemingly eternal winter. This is Erie, PA, and I can never decide whether I love it or hate it. I know for certain that I want to leave this town. I just don’t know why.

Regardless, here are the top ten reasons to live in Erie, PA (keeping in mind we have a population of only 130,000):

City-wide WiFi Access Winbeam provides wireless internet access within a 10 mile radius, in addition to these (many of them free) hotspots throughout the city.

Papa Joe’s located at 402 West 8th Street, downtown, this little pizza/coffee shop has all the trappings of a cool arthouse�local artist paintings for sale on the wall, couches and recliners to sit on, fat glass mugs full of steamy exotic teas and coffees, as well as live poetry readings on occasion�and the clientelle is diverse, from your average business guy looking for a slice of pie to the artsy poet toiling away in his journal to a whole fleet of the mentally ill and homeless.

The Roadhouse Theatre – their website looks as though it was made pre-1996, but this little theatre is all the rage. They once put on a performance of Night of the Living Dead in which all of the actors & props were totally made up in black and white, and the only color was red blood spurting here and there and everywhere. They have local art hanging on the walls, a very every-decade-since-1950-mixed-together feel, and in the back is a small lounge/bar fit for the Rat Pack.

Forward Hall – once again, their website couldn’t suck more, but this is a great spot for local Erie music. The place is decked out to look like a castle, with tapestries and the like hanging from the ceiling, really quite half-assed, but it’s a huge hall and I’ve seen some really cool bands here and have met quite a few interesting people. Easily the best bar in Erie for communicating without fear of tough-guy syndrome. The owners are also responsible for Grasshopper, the local hippy head shop right down the street.

The Guelcher Film Series at Mercyhurst – independent and foreign language films every Wednesday at Mercyhurst College.

Celebrate Erie is a festival that blocks off about 16 blocks of the city’s downtown to bring live music, local food and drink, and all sorts of craziness. Plus, here in Erie, it is completely legal to drink beer in the streets. Or so says the mayor, anyhow.

The Erie Blues & Jazz Festival combines these musical genres with oldhead hippies drinking Railbender on a giant grass lawn and everyone generally rejoicing in the summer sweetness.

Presque Isle State Park, arm around the bay and home to some ridiculous number of species of bird and frogs, plus one of National Geographics 100 Best Sunsets in the World.

Brig Niagara – how many cities have one of these docked in their bay?

And finally, local creationists will have a place to live cheap and display their work in the soon to come artist colony being sorted out by the Arts Council of Erie. There will certainly be more to come on this in the future, and if it all works out and I can get in, I could easily see myself living here for a few more years.

Well, that was fun, and time consuming…

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