Chris Hine | Wednesday, October 15, 2008
In Tuesday’s paper, scene writer Mary Frances Popit advised you to go to Scranton for fall break. I’m here to save you from making that terrible decision.
See, I’m from West Pittston, Pa., a town that is about a 15-minute drive south of Scranton and a 15-minute drive north of Wilkes-Barre, or as I like to call it, the poor man’s Scranton.
Let me make something clear to those of you not from Scranton. Even though I’m not officially from Scranton, West Pittston is in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area, or as its otherwise known, NEPA (Northeastern Pennsylvania). So I’m allowed to say I’m from Scranton under the NEPA corollary: If you’re from the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area, you’re allowed to say your from Scranton. So really, when people say Scranton, they’re usually referring to all of NEPA. If you lived there, you’d know what I’m talking about.
It’s one of the many screwed up things about Scranton and the area surrounding it so humorously lampooned on “Saturday Night Live” last week. I did a spit-take when I saw the SNL version of Joe Biden say, “You wouldn’t want to spend a weekend there.”
You wouldn’t. Believe me.
There’s not much to do there besides eat pizza, (though pizza is one of the few things Scranton has going for it) go to the movies or go the bars. My, how NEPA loves its bars. Mary Frances said thought it was unusual that college kids and 50-somethings were hanging out at the same bar. Well, if you come to NEPA, get used to it, it’s the norm. I’ve run into many friends of my parents out at bars in NEPA. And then there’s the Woodlands in Wilkes-Barre, a slightly classier version of Club Fever. That’s about it. (Hmm. All there is to do is go to bars and the occasional nightclub. Sound familiar?)
One day out of the year, NEPA is legitimately fun, and that’s St. Patrick’s Day. Do go there for that. It’s crazy. I spent New Year’s Eve on Bourbon Street in New Orleans in 2006 and I have to say, St. Patrick’s Day in Scranton is right up there with that. Other than that one day, though, it’s up to you to make your own fun.
NEPA puts too much stock in its high school sports, (if you’ve ever seen “Friday Night Lights,” the movie or TV show, you get the idea) and is a town where you have to be politically connected to get anywhere. Wilkes-Barre and Scranton have been underdeveloped for decades and despite recent attempts at revitalization, especially in Wilkes-Barre, there’s still not much there to attract people to the area, outside of presidential candidates, who fight for the swing votes of these Catholic voters.
That being said, where am I going for fall break? You guessed it – NEPA.
You can never leave NEPA, no matter how much you say you don’t like it there. After all, it’s home. It’s where I grew up, it’s where my family still lives and whenever I hear it mentioned on “The Office,” a part of me still swells with pride that I’m from there.
NEPA is like any other place – you miss the people and the friends you’ve made there. Any city can seem boring and depressing if you don’t know anybody there.
NEPA may be boring, but that won’t stop me from going back.