Out of all the places I could have been born, I was born in Cleveland, OH. Some may find it difficult or depressing to grow up in a suburb of a dying steel manufacturing city but I myself consider it fortunate. I like where I am from and even though I sometimes wish to live life elsewhere I think, in fact I know, I would miss the city of Cleveland.
Realistically I am admitting that Solon was the city I was born and raised. I grew up in that city and while doing so I saw change. By the year 2000 the population doubled and Solon turned more upper class, a bracket I never fit in. Restaurants and stores were built on land that once housed the city’s first school or marshland. New schools had to be built to house all the children that were brought in to the city. It was change I did not agree with.
One change I dealt with was new neighbors. I watched the forest next to my parents property turn in to a upper class haven full of rude arrogant people I never called neighbors. How arrogant? Let’s just say one of the features of this high rolling development were man made ponds in which one of the new residents saw it as a jet ski racetrack… The successful ass also allowed his kids to destroy my folks property and would frequently dump his yard waste. I never rebelled at him as much as I wanted to but I was happy to hear he had to leave that house for breaking the law. What a jerk.
The good thing about Solon is that I had made amazing friends, many of which I still am friends with today. My neighbors growing up put up with parties my brother and I threw. Growing up was great as a kid but when I turned into a teenager and Dunkin Donuts kicked us out of their parking lot or we wanted to see a show Cleveland was just a short drive away.
Solon was a great city to grow up in. Next to a great school system, there were awesome shops including the one of most missed music shops ever, Disc Den (rip). When I was a kid that was the place to go. Mike at Disc Den ran a great shop but could not afford to move on with sales dropping due to corporately run book stores that sold music as well (yes, I worked there, but in my defense I was a barista!!!).
Important people came from Solon as well. Mike Cartellone, once the drummer of Damn Yankees and now current drummer of Lynyrd Skynyrd, was from Solon and he even played football with me when I was just a little tyke. There were even some pro football players born in the city including Kim Herring who was a few grades above me.
So why did I even mention I am Cleveland and where am I going with this? You might be wondering why I just told you my life story and I know it was not that good so let’s continue…
When you grow up you meet friends and lose friends, it’s a life long process. Luckily my close friends happened to like music and hanging out. As soon as I was old enough I started going to Cleveland to see shows. I can not even tell you how many shows I have been to in my life time but I can tell you most of the most memorable took place in the mid to late 90’s, right about the time when I was a raging punk rocker.
Cleveland has some great music venues. I can write all day about the shows I have seen. Bands that were nothing and are huge now I got to see as they hardly had anyone in the crowd cheering for them. Venues that have shut down or moved to the other side of town, been there.
I really don’t feel like writing about all that right now.
I want to talk about two things that recently happened to me that remind me why I like Cleveland so much:
First off…. The Cleveland Browns. I am a Brownie for life and win or lose will always support the team. I recently witnessed the Browns spank the Giants Monday Night Football style. It was a great experience. Even if almost everyone there was drunk and belligerent well before the game even started it was fun.
My brother and I got a pair of tickets so we decided to truck down early to tailgate. As we made way to the community lot we passed the Great Lakes Science Center and the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame Museum. I got to see Johnny Cash‘s tour bus parked in front of the Rock Hall and after checking to see if it was unlocked (I wanted to go on a joyride) we continued to a parking lot about a mile away from the Cleveland Browns stadium.
Tailgating was a treat alone with some folk starting their partying ritual at 9:00am, almost 12 hours before kick off. By the time my brother and I met up with some friends at the community lot around 6:30pm there were people falling over drunk but smiling on the way down. Everyone was decked out in Browns attire and DJs for a day were doing their best to play requests. Food was being consumed and everytime a brave Giants fan walked past crowds of folk would stop during mid beer bong to point and call that fan an a$$h@le. It was funny to see so many people get into it. It was the first time I engaged in tailgating and it certainly will not be the last.
The game itself was even more insane. Yelling and screaming and more drinking. I can honestly say the Browns have the greatest fans ever. We sat pretty far up but it didn’t matter. All the fans around me, many season ticket holders, were great to cheer along with as the Browns beat the Giants 35 to 14.
Another reason I like Cleveland so much… Last Friday’s trip to meet Derek Hess.
I’ve already interviewed the man himself but this past Friday I had the pleasure of meeting him in person.
Along with my wonderful wife, my friends Matt and Adam joined us to a book store in Tremont, a historic neighborhood just outside of downtown Cleveland. We all went to Visible Voice Books where I get to meet Derek Hess and author Kent Smith who both came together and wrote Please God Save Us. Both gentlemen were very kind and autographed my book that Matt purchased for me (thanks pal!). Kent Smith even asked to get a photo of us all where I look like a complete retard in it (see below for proof)! Once I read the book a few times over I will be sure to post something on here about it. If you are a fan of Derek Hess and wish to venture into his politically charged art, you need this book.
After Visible Voice books we went to nearby Lakewood and had dinner at a local bar. The name escapes me at this time but we dined outside at the patio. Even though it was a tad on the chilly side there were gas powered outdoor heaters that kept us warm.
We all sat around and chatted as we ate our meals. While hanging out, I could not help but think how much I have enjoyed Cleveland all these years. It seems like there is always something to do when you you venture in the city. There is also more still to be done and I know there will be many more trips to that wonderful city.
Like I said I could talk all day about Cleveland but just not today. I am sure other folk from Cleveland can agree it is a hell of a city with a lot to offer.
This was my story, for now. Here’s some other photos I took with my crappy camera (except the 1st, that was taken w/ Kent Smith’s camera):