I’ve said it often enough: West Virginia is more a village than a state. Or a collection of villages. The place is small enough to get to know people in what passes for high places around here. Decades back, when Ken Hechler was West Virginia’s Secretary of State, he came to visit my sister-in-law, Barrelhouse Bonni McKeown, in her pre-Barrelhouse days. My wife and I were then living up Porter’s Fork Road in rural Wayne County in the hills south of Huntington. And there Ken sat on a chair near the acquarium, the state’s secretary of state, blowing a harmonica in our living room as Bonni played the piano and old Wayne the Cat brushed up against his legs.
Meanwhile, just yesterday I was strolling down Quarrier Street in the capital city of West Virginia, headed to the grand opening of the way-cool Mission Savvy juice bar and vegan food cafe. Up the sidewalk came a flotilla of men in dark suits, among them Mayor Danny Jones, chief honcho of Charleston. “Hey, Danny,” I said, since everyone who knows him calls him Danny. “Hello, Mr. Imbrogno,” the mayor replied, red tie waving in the air as he strode toward some official business or another. As I moved on, I wondered if I should have addressed him as “Mister Mayor.” On second thought, “Danny” was probably just fine.
I am slightly more on the mayor’s radar since I spent a couple hours in his office down Quarrier Street in City Hall a few weeks back. I was shooting a companion video to a July 8, 2012 “Inner Views” profile by Charleston Gazette colleague Sandy Wells on the popular, sometimes controversial, ever-a-good-quote mayor of the chief burgh of West Virginia. Sandy’s hour-long interview produced a lot of good stuff since the mayor — a former club owner, restauranteur and scaled-back party animal — took an unconventional path to the mayor’s office. He told us he’s likely to run for a third term as mayor of the capital city in one of these 50 United States. And he’ll probably win again. He also talked about getting caught in a federal drug bust some years ago, the rise and fall of his drinking days, the silver spoon side of town where he was born and the prostate cancer diagnosis that has been diverting his attention.
There was such good stuff that I did what I’ve not done before with more than 100 videos posted online — I uploaded a video nearly 18-minutes-long, culled from Sandy’s chat. In this Short Attention Span Age, you’re supposed to keep newspaper videos to under three minutes. Even two. But I do that all the time. Here’s the exception to the rule. Not sure if the video profile will be of interest to someone who doesn’t live in Charleston, but see if it does. Interesting lives are interesting, regardless. Plus, as I said, Danny is always good for a good quote.
Or should I say ‘Mister Mayor.’ No, I think ‘Danny‘ will do.