I can appreciate cute, charming towns (I’m a huge fan of Charlottesville’s downtown mall), but — in general — I like my cities a little gritty and unkempt, like downtown Harrisonburg.

I can appreciate cute, charming towns (I’m a huge fan of Charlottesville’s downtown mall), but — in general — I like my cities a little gritty and unkempt, like downtown Harrisonburg.

A 12-inch maxi single … never heard of it till I saw this vintage vinyl record on the free strip outside Downtown Books off of Water Street in Harrisonburg. Colors are fab.

A 12-inch maxi single … never heard of it till I saw this vintage vinyl record on the free strip outside Downtown Books off of Water Street in Harrisonburg. Colors are fab.

With the start of college football, this West Market Street store in Harrisonburg (right off of Court Square) was covering all its bases last weekend. That’s stuff from the area’s four most popular teams: James Madison, Virginia, Virginia Tech and West Virginia.

With the start of college football, this West Market Street store in Harrisonburg (right off of Court Square) was covering all its bases last weekend. That’s stuff from the area’s four most popular teams: James Madison, Virginia, Virginia Tech and West Virginia.

This photo was taken a few months ago while most of Harrisonburg was green, with this stubborn tree at James Madison University being one of the exceptions. 

This photo was taken a few months ago while most of Harrisonburg was green, with this stubborn tree at James Madison University being one of the exceptions. 

Bella Luna, the excellent pizza/Italian restaurant on Water Street in downtown Harrisonburg, stresses local ingredients, so — naturally — it chops its own wood for the pizza oven. Damian Deavers was doing the chopping Wednesday.

Bella Luna, the excellent pizza/Italian restaurant on Water Street in downtown Harrisonburg, stresses local ingredients, so — naturally — it chops its own wood for the pizza oven. Damian Deavers was doing the chopping Wednesday.

There’s a little tagging epidemic in downtown Harrisonburg, including this on North Main Street. No idea if this means something in TagWorld. In German, it means “war.” 

There’s a little tagging epidemic in downtown Harrisonburg, including this on North Main Street. No idea if this means something in TagWorld. In German, it means “war.” 

Man about town: Luis, a gay kid from Lynchburg who was a go-go boy in Miami and NYC, asked me to take some pictures earlier this summer — so here he is in gritty downtown Harrisonburg.

Man about town: Luis, a gay kid from Lynchburg who was a go-go boy in Miami and NYC, asked me to take some pictures earlier this summer — so here he is in gritty downtown Harrisonburg.

Downtown Books 1: Bob Schurtz’s three-decade-old bookstore off of Water Street in Harrisonburg (beside the parking deck) has morphed over the years into a captivating avalanche of … well, lots of things: used books, a few leftover new books, old vinyl records, used CDs, used DVDs, used VHRs, buttons, used comic books, trading cards and greeting cards. Outside on the sidewalk, there’s free books, cards, magazines, movies and music (the free stuff, generally, is in lesser condition that the pay stuff, but most is still in pretty good shape). Inside, it’s chaos — in a fun way. It’s a small shop, but it’s jam-packed, and you just have to browse … and browse … and browse if you’re looking for something specific. Don’t be scared off by the dusty mess; it’s well worth a visit, though you might want to wear a hardhat if you’re reaching for an especially well-hidden book.

Downtown Books 2: Bob Schurtz’s bookstore off of Water Street in Harrisonburg (more details in previous post)

Food art? A big mural on Liberty Street in downtown Harrisonburg of a dandelion plant (whose leaves are delicious in spring) and a sunny-side-up fried egg.

Food art? A big mural on Liberty Street in downtown Harrisonburg of a dandelion plant (whose leaves are delicious in spring) and a sunny-side-up fried egg.

Man about town: This guy stared down my camera (which was hanging at my side) as I walked up North Main Street in Harrisonburg today. He had just come from Glen’s Fair Price Store. “I was looking for Kodak film,” he said slowly. 

Man about town: This guy stared down my camera (which was hanging at my side) as I walked up North Main Street in Harrisonburg today. He had just come from Glen’s Fair Price Store. “I was looking for Kodak film,” he said slowly. 

Duck about town: This guy, whose blue patch looked black until the sun hit it, dines in Blacks Run in downtown Harrisonburg on a late summer afternoon.

Duck about town: This guy, whose blue patch looked black until the sun hit it, dines in Blacks Run in downtown Harrisonburg on a late summer afternoon.

Some of the cooks at the Rock ‘n Wolfe Food Truck Park take a break on a summery Saturday afternoon. That’s Belen of Belen’s Thrill of the Grill on the left and Kathleen Mania-Casey of Grilled Cheese Mania in the middle. Belen (pronounced beh-leen) manages the recently opened food truck court, located at West Wolfe and Liberty Street in downtown Harrisonburg, and he said Back Bay Brewing Company of Virginia Beach has expressed interest in joining the fun. The plan would be for Back Bay (or another beer business) to open a brewery/tap-room in the building on the site. Three food trucks are at Rock n’ Wolfe now, sitting just off the street. Eventually, the trucks will move onto two big lots behind the old car wash (there will be tables and restrooms), and the space in front will be used for parking. Possible additions: a taco truck and a Korean truck. 

Some of the cooks at the Rock ‘n Wolfe Food Truck Park take a break on a summery Saturday afternoon. That’s Belen of Belen’s Thrill of the Grill on the left and Kathleen Mania-Casey of Grilled Cheese Mania in the middle. Belen (pronounced beh-leen) manages the recently opened food truck court, located at West Wolfe and Liberty Street in downtown Harrisonburg, and he said Back Bay Brewing Company of Virginia Beach has expressed interest in joining the fun. The plan would be for Back Bay (or another beer business) to open a brewery/tap-room in the building on the site. Three food trucks are at Rock n’ Wolfe now, sitting just off the street. Eventually, the trucks will move onto two big lots behind the old car wash (there will be tables and restrooms), and the space in front will be used for parking. Possible additions: a taco truck and a Korean truck. 

Man about town: Matt Gira, whom I first met when he was a toothpick teenager at Gold’s Gym. He bulked up, got a job downtown at Bank of America and has a beautiful family. Nice.

Man about town: Matt Gira, whom I first met when he was a toothpick teenager at Gold’s Gym. He bulked up, got a job downtown at Bank of America and has a beautiful family. Nice.

A third food truck (cart) has joined Belen’s Thrill of the Grill and Grilled Cheese Mania at the new downtown food park at West Wolfe and Liberty in Harrisonburg … Bareknuckle BBQ

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