Friday, September 08, 2006

SHAKER SQUARE

- the Van Swerigens's Georgian ill/dill-usion of grandeur still does it for me...












i was born and grew up in Cleveland. St. Lukes. Buckeye Rd. Hungarian ghetto. Ludlow School. Shaker Square was one of my playgrounds. it's where i bought my first 45 ("Bristol Stomp" by The Dovells with Len "1-2-3" Barry. family events were celebrated at Stouffer's when it was a local restaurant and not something passing as 'food' in freezer sections around the world.











i'd ride the Rapid downtown once a week to have my teeth murdered by a sadistic born-again orthodontist ("do you accept AAAWWWOOOHH! Jesus as your savior...now?"), to buy a mono British Invasion LP from Record Rendezvous (couldn't afford the extra buck for stereo), sneak a peek into The English Oak Room at the Terminous Towerus ("a Fred Harvey reataurant"...like Judy Garland as a Hardy Girl??) and gawk at the Vox Super Beatles in Higbee's music department.

on summer Saturdays, the Colony would show two hours of cartoons for a buck.


















even when we moved to the suburbs, driving to The Square on Thanksgiving night to see the Christmas lights get turned on (all that blue!) was a yearly, tryptophan-fueled ritual.

(aside: two semi-related events should be mentioned now:

- i have a dinner with pal Kent Smith - Mr. Democrat in Euclid and a Man Of Such Formidable Brainpower That You Should Vote For No Matter What Elected Office He Runs For. the proposed Beachland show got ditched in favor of hanging for hours on the stone steps on Coventry and a fab discussion of How To Save Cleveland.

- i went to a Meet The Bloggers event in Clevo tonight. t'was fun putting faces to names i've only read in Brewed Fresh Daily (what? you live in NEO and don't read BFD???? shame on you!: http://www.brewedfreshdaily.com/). some good eats/some good poetry (love Michael DeAloia's line about "rich people play money, poor people play drums" in his jazz poem). there was also - or so i was told by A. L. Bird - a sub rosa kurfuffle regarding some of the group's organizers that was a microcosmic example of Why Cleveland Always Fucks Up Saving Itself And Thus Gets The Cleveland It Deserves. i don't/didn't/didn't see it, being blissfully naive and all.)

i had just done a marathon three-day recording session on a tune for a Canadian documentary, and it was reward time - which usually means a movie and cheep eets and for some reason, i decided to go to Shaker Square.

it's still just fabulous.

or rather the architecture is still just fabulous. a plaque on a wall said the Vans (read Invisible Giants: The Empires of Cleveland's Van Sweringen Brothers) were inspired by Amalienborg Square and Palace in Copenhagen, Denmark ("am alien Borg"?...ummmm Jerry Ryan with her tits always in frame!). well, i am a complete Danophile, and i now wonder if my hanging out at The Square was the ur-cause of my love for that country.

it's 1/4 vacant, of course, tho it looked better than in its worst Windows By Weyerhaeuser days. but i began to think that here before me were all of Clevo's intractable problems in one neat i-can-wrap-my-brain-around-something-this-size example. a beautiful place, parking, intelligently laid out (in 1929...oops)...why isn't this place flourishing?

(disclaimer: i am a recent partial returnee after 24 years in NYC. i admit i have the benefit of basically seeking things as a tourist)

to wit:

- cool shops. cool restaurants. all half-empty. that's because there are only 322 active hipsters in Cleveland, and they must spread there limited leisure bucks around all the other Clevo Hipstervilles like Tremont, Larchmere, Coventry, Clifton, Ohio City, et. al.. point: no central bohemian enclave. but that's good!, me thinks...lots of opportunities for cultural diversity! but it's those 322 (despite recent ardent recruiting efforts along the Richard Florida/Creative Class party line) that give these shops & eateries a life span similar to that of the Monarch butterfly's.

- the north side of the Square was mainly where the whites hung out, the south over where Dave's Supermarket was predominently black.

you can't be serious?

you still haven't sorted that one out?

i live part-time in a place where all races & cultures are packed on top of each other/forced to interact, and most of the time...MOST OF THE TIME folks don't have TIME for this shit. is it your flatness, Clevo? your spreadoutness that reinforces these archaic divisions? point: it's 2006...it is just stoopid to gravitate to different sides of a sinking ship...and your ship is sinking and has been sinking for decades. this should be EMBARASSING at this point.

- do knuckleheads run Shaker Square? there are a zillion cool shops in Tokyo/NYC/Shanghai/London (Copenhagen?) that would kill for real estate like this. whose doing the marketing for this place?....on a national/international scale, i mean? point: if its a global economy, well...go global. props to KS for this one - where's the leadership? is Clevo the Poland of the Midwest? - this town makes decisions like a many-times-conquered country that had it's entire intelligencia exterminated. there is energy here/smart folks here...why does everyone seem to have a foot wound?

it was a warm summer night. the cafe coffee is good. i am sitting in a beautiful setting...an acknowledged architectural landmark, no less...and thinking - it does not take a genius to reverse engineer this place into success & profitability. Clevo's problems are OLD, boys & girls...and other places have long sorted them out...or at least are getting on with it. even Akron...AKRON!!!

if Akron can reinvent itself...












well...one has to ask: after all the other successful examples around to look to, after all the blundering PlumsPrunesschemestrythistrythat...

...is Clevo being WILLFULLY self-destructive?




NP: "My City Is Gone"/Pretenders. actually NR = Now Reading Melissa Holbrook Person's "The Place You Love Is Gone".

PEEVE DE JOUR: unrequited lust/i miss my kid/broke/shoulder still hurts.

JOIE DE JOUR: Szlays's sweet corn

N.B.A.T.W.P.:

Bedsit Poets Welcome In Autumn at The Living Room - Saturday, September 23 @ 9 p.m.

Bedsit Poets, featuring Amanda Thorpe, Edward Rogers, Mac Randall, and Nancy Polstein, debut CD has received rave reviews on both sides of the Atlantic. Having performed in Canada, the East and West coasts of the U.S., back from Europe, the Bedsit Poets have spent the summer in the studio to start work on their second album. Many of these songs will be debuted at tonight's show, along with favorites from their first CD, The Summer That Changed. For a preview of Bedsit Poets, go to www.myspace.com/bedsitpoets; www.bedsitpoets.com; www.bongobeat.com

cb...where are you?






STILL IN OHIO

5 Comments:

Blogger George Nemeth said...

Thanks for coming, Chris. There's quite a story behind the kerfluffle, perhaps you'll get to hear the other side of it one day.

That was Michael DeAloia. Last night's reading was better than the one he did @ Bloggapalooza, so he's either been practicing, or wasn't as nervous. I wish I could have gotten a video of you doing the rimshot after the one poem he did...

8:21 AM  
Blogger bginley said...

he says as he fits that bowler on his jedi head to go serve darth mulready...

9:13 AM  
Blogger CBeezwax said...

kidz - i am just a guy w/ a blog who is re-new to the area. i am interested in meeting smart/inspiring people who do things here/get things done. i am Mr. Positive Energy...period.

i leave the intrigue to the pros...

sub rosa kerfuffle = sounds like an alt-skiffle band...or a skin disease!

cb

11:46 AM  
Blogger Tim Ferris said...

It's good to have you looking at things around here with fresh eyes--you'll be a help with the dialogue. Are you just visiting or will you be around a while? Folks who have lived here forever don't realize what treasures they have, and it's good to have a perspective refined by time away.

8:06 AM  
Blogger CBeezwax said...

thanks for the welcome, Tim. i yo-yo back and forth from the NYC area. tho all the earnest/brow-furrowing re: 'saving Clevo'is important, i'm also very interested/have to remind myself that without a sense of fun, any city will suck.

cb

8:58 AM  

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