As Scranton made national headlines this week for the inadequate size of the city bank account and therefore the Mayor’s decision to cut the pay of all city workers to minimum wage, city residents picked on our beloved home as much as emigrants eager to pat themselves on the back for having gotten out of the old coal hole. The worst offenders, however, seemed to be the random grabbers-on who have some sixth degree of seperatation to the “Electric City,” and therefore consider themselves experts on how much it sucks to live here.

I had the opportunity to chat about these bewildering responses to our local fiscal crisis yesterday afternoon with E.W. Conundrum host of Free Speak & Some on WFTE FM Community Radio. You can tune in online via www.wfte.org. The episode airs Sunday, July 15 at 11:30 a.m.

The overwhelming eagerness out there to bash Scranton leaves me wondering- where are our cheerleaders? All poverty aside, there’s a still lot to be said about this honest, straightforward place at the top of the Pocono Mountains where I have chosen to live and raise my kids.

OK, so our politicans are behaving badly and we all now have to suffer for it and that’s not fair. But struggle builds character and no victory is so sweet as the one you have to work your ass off to earn. We’ll get through this. Let’s talk about what will we do then.

Has the entitlement culture so soured us that we can no longer appreciate the simple pleasures of living here? Or are the people who love life just too busy living it to stop and tell these bullies to cut it out?

Even when business was booming in Scranton, most of the wealth was held by a few powerful tycoons. The parks may have been prettier but people survived on thrift and because they invested in communities and supported each other. They weren’t holed up at home watching cable TV on big digital screens, eating over-priced processed junk food and complaining about how somebody else better do something because a tax increase means they can’t go back to Florida next year for the fifth time next winter.

Back in the early 20th century when Scranton was thriving – vaudeville was huge. The city was considered a try out town where audiences could be tested and shows tweaked before transfering to NYC, etc.

“If you can play Scranton,” they said, “You can play anywhere.”

I think that’s more true than ever and I take pride in knowing that if I can keep making art happen in this impoverished place without the support structure and bountiful nourishment supposedly available elswhere, then I can make art anywhere. This dream will not be lost.

Yeah, sure, the city could use a break. It could also use some compassion from the people who live here. Stop kicking Scranton while she’s down and let her know you have faith in her ability to heal, to start over, to find herself again. Take a risk. Give a little love.

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