A grumpy spring sky over Harrisonburg a few minutes ago (shortly before noon Tuesday)

A grumpy spring sky over Harrisonburg a few minutes ago (shortly before noon Tuesday)

I was walking downtown today when a voice said, “I recognize you.” There, three decades later, was Harrisonburg’s original gonzo entertainer, The Rev. Billy C. Wirtz. Turns out he played at Clementine this week and was strolling around a downtown he hardly recognized — he was amazed by its transformation into a cool entertainment district. (No chain restaurants!) Billy lives in Ocala, Fla., but the new Burg charmed him enough that he said he could see himself moving back here. I last saw Billy maybe 30 years ago (I once was a lyric in one of his songs, at least in a live version), but he  recalled in sharp detail our encounters at local bars. Amazing guy. Harrisonburg’s favorite BCW song, I suspect, is Mennonite Surf Party, written with his pal, Bob Driver.

I was walking downtown today when a voice said, “I recognize you.” There, three decades later, was Harrisonburg’s original gonzo entertainer, The Rev. Billy C. Wirtz. Turns out he played at Clementine this week and was strolling around a downtown he hardly recognized — he was amazed by its transformation into a cool entertainment district. (No chain restaurants!) Billy lives in Ocala, Fla., but the new Burg charmed him enough that he said he could see himself moving back here. I last saw Billy maybe 30 years ago (I once was a lyric in one of his songs, at least in a live version), but he  recalled in sharp detail our encounters at local bars. Amazing guy. Harrisonburg’s favorite BCW song, I suspect, is Mennonite Surf Party, written with his pal, Bob Driver.

A bit of Dead Man Walking graffiti on Old South High Street, the most tatted (is that a word?) part of Harrisonburg probably.

A bit of Dead Man Walking graffiti on Old South High Street, the most tatted (is that a word?) part of Harrisonburg probably.

The hours at FoodBarFood, the soon-to-open “global comfort food” restaurant on Bruce Street in Harrisonburg (near the Water Street parking deck). Check out the menu below.

The hours at FoodBarFood, the soon-to-open “global comfort food” restaurant on Bruce Street in Harrisonburg (near the Water Street parking deck). Check out the menu below.

The sample menu in the soon-to-open FoodBarFood restaurant on Bruce Street in Harrisonburg (just off of Liberty Street across from the Water Street parking lot). I like the late hours.

Bikram Hot Yoga on Elizabeth Street in Harrisonburg has a new name .

Bikram Hot Yoga on Elizabeth Street in Harrisonburg has a new name .

Palm Sunday outside of Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in downtown Harrisonburg. Latinos make up half of the 4,000-person congregation.

Palm Sunday outside of Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in downtown Harrisonburg. Latinos make up half of the 4,000-person congregation.

Shock! The Downtown is closed, at least for today. A disgruntled employee taped a handwritten explanation to the window, blaming the owners. I won’t go into details about the accusation (it wouldn’t be fair without talking to the other side), but suffice to say this joint has been a mess from the day it opened. It couldn’t figure out its hours, it couldn’t figure out its menu, it couldn’t figure out its marketing. Worst of all, the food was forgettable. Turkish street food, from all accounts, is amazing. This version wasn’t worth a second trip — though I visited many times hoping for improvement (my sense is that Rosevelt could have make the place work if given total control, though that’s based only on my limited interaction with the restaurant). I don’t know if The Downtown will reopen — I suspect it will — but it won’t be worth a second look without major changes. For now, it’s just another in a string of doomed, lousy restaurants at the corner of Water and Main in Harrisonburg.

Lovely jazz at the Artful Dodger …. JMU Jazz Ensemble

Demonstrators get ready to march on the local jail during an anti-deportation rally Saturday on Court Square in downtown Harrisonburg. The protest’s theme was simple: Not One More — a call for the Obama administration to stop deporting otherwise law-abiding undocumented immigrants. It was part of a nationwide day of protest against the policy. About 100 people showed up at the Harrisonburg rally.

Demonstrators get ready to march on the local jail during an anti-deportation rally Saturday on Court Square in downtown Harrisonburg. The protest’s theme was simple: Not One More — a call for the Obama administration to stop deporting otherwise law-abiding undocumented immigrants. It was part of a nationwide day of protest against the policy. About 100 people showed up at the Harrisonburg rally.

Giulio Garner, an Eastern Mennonite University student from Honduras who’s been in the USA two years, gets into the anti-deportation rally Saturday in downtown Harrisonburg.

Giulio Garner, an Eastern Mennonite University student from Honduras who’s been in the USA two years, gets into the anti-deportation rally Saturday in downtown Harrisonburg.

If you’re at a rally, you should yell, yes? Yes. Giulio Garner, an EMU student from Honduras, lends his support to the anti-deportation cause Saturday in downtown Harrisonburg.

If you’re at a rally, you should yell, yes? Yes. Giulio Garner, an EMU student from Honduras, lends his support to the anti-deportation cause Saturday in downtown Harrisonburg.

Faces in the crowd at the anti-deporation rally Saturday in downtown Harrisonburg

Faces in the crowd at the anti-deporation rally Saturday in downtown Harrisonburg

Faces in the crowd at the anti-deportation rally Saturday in downtown Harrisonburg

Faces in the crowd at the anti-deportation rally Saturday in downtown Harrisonburg

Faces in the crowd at the anti-deportation rally Saturday in downtown Harrisonburg

Faces in the crowd at the anti-deportation rally Saturday in downtown Harrisonburg

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