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Sometimes Wi-Fi Takes Back Seat To Live Music — Harrisburg

September 17th, 2011 · Tags:Cities · Coffee Shops · Wi-Fi

River Bound

River Bound

One of my very best college friends is from Harrisburg, Penn. I haven’t talked to him or even been able to locate him for 20 years … even with the help of the all-powerful, all-knowing Facebook.  Wouldn’t it be strange if I ran into him on the street during my visit to The Quaker State?

It remains a mystery. John Frances Reid left Texas after he was graduated with a journalism degree from Texas Tech University. After J school, he headed west and worked as a reporter for a newspaper in San Ysidro, Calif., at the same time they had a famous, terrible mass shooting in the community. But journalism didn’t suit him and he joined the United States Army. In the Army, he became a pilot. The last time I heard from John, he was flying helicopters through The Alps in Europe, and I still have a photo of his bird soaring near the peaks.

That is the last I heard from him … So, as I explore his boyhood home — Harrisburg, Penn. — I think of him and wonder what places he might have shown me. I think about comments he made, and I try to understand them, as I see this fairly interesting, historical, quiet, small state capital.  If memory serves, I think he had a little issue with his home over that whole Three Mile Island thing, and who could blame him?

Harrisburg is pretty cool … and I enjoyed a few hours shooting photos on my first free afternoon. Once again, I found myself in a state capital on a Sunday — when the place closes up and the streets are empty. Pretty great for standing in the middle of the street and shooting architecture shots.

If I haven’t mentioned, this Wi-Fi vagabond has landed in Harrisburg to help out after the Susquehanna River flooded, having its way with the surrounding cities.  Yes … another Dirty Gig … cleaning up office buildings and such …

Away from the DG, I continue to explore … always on the lookout for Wi-Fi … and a long-lost buddy.
My second day exploring H-Burg was 9-11. On this monumental anniversary date, I went to my new favorite coffee bar in Lemoyne, Penn., just across one of the many bridges from Harrisburg. Cornerstone overwhelmed me with goodness on my first visit. Because, my Philly cheesesteak place downtown (Aleco’s) had no Wi-Fi, Cornerstone is the only hotspot I have found.

My first visit to Cornerstone, I had an easy chair in the corner, free Wi-Fi with a fast connection, good people watching, a hand-crafted Italian soda and a huge piece of apple pie. What’s not to like?

Silver City Rodeo

Silver City Rodeo

Well … I am going to be in the Harrisburg area for awhile, so after one visit, I decided to make C-stone my new hangout. But … then … on day two, it was like a bad experience in some alternative universe. The coffee shop looked like Cornerstone, but all the things that made me experience love at first sight were nowhere to be found. As soon as I sat down in the easy chair — the chair that for a lack of a better term, I now call “mine” — the barista came over and asked me to move my arse. It seems a band was soon to be playing, and the space where “my” easy chair once had been, would be the new stage area.

Reluctantly, I moved.

Interesting, the musicians got set up and were actually quite good. I wrote two blogs — headphone free — as I listened to two guys mastering their acoustic guitars. Very nice. I suppose I can take a few minutes out to enjoy the sort of things that have made Cornerstone a local crowd pleaser and award winner.

The first band, I will call two dudes, one with long hair and a beard the second with a shaved head.  I asked for the band name, and they gave me a list of other local bands in which they had played.  So I guess this was just a fun little side project.  As I was leaving, the bushy bearded one fired back, “Nice chops!” (Take that all my friend who delight in making fun of me and say “the 60s called and they want their sideburns back.”)

I digress …

The second band was Silver City Rodeo.  They were a fun group … very “now.”  You know they are “now” when the percussionist is sitting on the wooden box that doubles as a bass rhythm instrument, hiding behind a conga or whatever ..

So this day in Harrisburg Rock ‘n’ Roll history, I gave up my chair for a dude who sits on his drum.  Oh … this was fun.  The soundman for the band was scoping out tables for the group’s mixing board, when he spotted a table near the back, on the side.  It was covered with newspapers.  No one had been sitting there for over a half hour.  The sound man asked me if the table was open.  I looked at him as if he were insane and told him in my best unidentifiable Eastern European accent that  “I don’t speak English. You’re nose is like cabbage.  Where are the girls for which to spoon?”

Ha … just kidding … I told him the table appeared vacant.

No sooner had he plopped his big old multi-channel mixing board with all its computerized gadgetry, lights, knobs, meters, buttons and dials on the table when from nowhere an elder couple — wearing dark, dark oversized senior citizen glasses swooped down on the table and asked him just what in the world he thought he was doing.

Mr. Soundman was very apologetic, but expected the couple to see he was just doing his job.  They didn’t see it that way and asked him to move along.

I, of course, was sitting next to that table (already having relocated), listening to the discourse.  I felt bad for the guy.  And despite my having been ousted by the band, offered my table up for the sake of the music.  (See … I am not always the angry tourist … )

The band finished setting up and a barista came by and remarked that I had moved again.  Glad my musical chairs could be the opening act.

Grace United Methodist

Grace United Methodist

So anywho … I have been back to Cornerstone several times, in addition to photo touring.  Most recently some great jazz/blues guitar player performed.  Ha … He didn’t take my easy chair and he didn’t even have a soundman.  He put his chair right in front of where I sit.  So, as he was picking away, I was clicking away on the MacBook Pro behind him as if I was an accompanying keyboard.  Crud … why didn’t I think to put out a tip jar like his?

As for the Wi-Fi … oh yes … that was the rest of the alternative universe analogy.  The first night it was perfect, free, easy to get on, etc., etc.  The second night, it asked me for a user name and a password.  I told it I didn’t speak English.

Tonight the Wi-Fi is great.

Italian sodas … but rather than real boba tea, some drink with frozen blueberries??? Great chai tea, excellent Wi-Fi most of the time … and good low-key music.  Cornerstone on Market Street in Lemoyne, just southwest of Harrisburg, off I-83 gets 5 pings.





Interesting note … as I wrote a couple of blogs, the coffee shop’s sound system was playing “I Love You More Today Than Yesterday” by Spiral Staircase … which of course was in the last blog.

Know what I sayin?