Tag Archives: Cleveland

Hal Lasko, Cleveland Digital Artist

A Nearly Blind 98-Year-Old Man Creates Stunning Digital Magic with MS Paint by Joseph Clark Cleveland Scene

Hal Lasko

Joseph Clark, August 7th

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Coming From Cleveland and Nobler Endeavors

Dreams With Sharp Teeth – documentary on Harlan Ellison

Harlan Ellison

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When Horrible Is Charitable

The cartoonish mascots or characters or whatever, waddling across the court at Quicken Loans Arena was the most amusing moment on Sunday, on Kid’s Day, as the Cleveland Cavaliers were humiliated by the Oklahoma City Thunder. The game was not as close as the 95-75 score, and, the Thunder didn’t need their “A” game to dispose of the Cavs.

It was hard to watch. The high point for the Cavs was 30 seconds of Boobie Gibson playing his offensive game, and a block and an outlet score on the other end by Gee. Otherwise, the Cavs couldn’t have beaten the Washington Generals with their poor impersonation of an NBA team.

I realized TV doesn’t do the dreadfulness of our basketball team justice. Time and time again the Cavs would somehow get the ball in the paint with almost no velocity, coordination, or ability to protect the ball. Then bad things would happen, very bad things.

The Cavs may constitute the most inept collection of millionaires ever assembled. Why isn’t Ryan Hollins playing beach volleyball?

Hat tip this season to John Krolik and Colin McGowan for documenting this travesty at Cavs The Blog. They write so I, usually, don’t have to watch.

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Harvey ’74

Harvey Pekar, Cleveland literary illuminary – October 8, 1939 – July 12, 2010

I first noted Harvey retrospectively, after he visited the record store I worked at, when my boss identified him as Harvey Pekar, with, something along the lines of, ‘notable crank and local jazz freak.’ At this, I realized I had seen Harvey a bunch of times, at DISC Records downtown, and on Coventry, the bohemian culture capital of Cleveland circa 1968-1974. In other words, he was a familiar face to me. Later, I asked my friend and blues mentor Bill about Harvey. He filled in a few notable details, such as, he was a world class jazz hipster, diffident, and, proudly working class.

As it transpired, Harvey was the main force that set my course as a jazz head. He filled my sails over the course of three encounters at Music Madness on Lee Road in Cleveland Heights between 1973 and 1974. I doubt the three encounters lasted more than a total of ten minutes. I wish I could remember the verbatim exchanges. I can’t, but here’s my actively imagined recollection.

Some background is necessary. At the time I was assistant manager of a record store in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. I was 19, very long-haired, and very observant but also callow. The store itself focused on the hippie and prog music of the day. We maintained one row of jazz records. However, since I started working there in 1971, the co-owner–my boss–had exposed me to a few choice records, and foremost among these several classics was Miles Davis’s In A Silent Way and Tribute to Jack Johnson. Still, I knew not much more than zero about jazz. At the time, the paragons of virtuosity in my expanding musical world were Earl Scruggs, Duane Allman, Sneaky Pete Kleinow, Clarence White, and, B.B. King.

Well, You Needn’t – No. 1 (probably happened in the Winter 1973)

Harvey came into the store infrequently. There really wasn’t much of a reason for a jazzer to come into the store. However, on this visit he plucked an Audio Fidelity reissue of a Black Lion Monk session out of the single row of records and walked it up to the counter. I was familiar with Monk from a promo in our listening rack.

Me: Ahh, Monk, I like Monk.

Harvey: Yeah, well this is late Monk. Past his prime. But, Monk is worth investigating every last note.

Me: I’ll check it out.

Harvey: Sure. It’s too bad his Blue Notes come in and out of print. You know I’ve got good connections and hear what’s going on because I’m a writer and write about jazz. I hear that Capitol is preparing to reissue some of the classic Blue Note sides…

Me: Blue Note?

Harvey: Blue Note is a jazz label, past its prime too. It’s a goldmine. You should do your self a favor and keep an eye out for Monk’s Blue Note sides. Forties, nineteen forties. Essential. Bop some would say, but listening to Monk in the forties is listening to the first genius to move beyond bebop. You know bebop, right?

Me: Sure, Charlie Parker, Dizzy.

Harvey: Gotta go.

(note–I would have discovered Monk eventually, yet Harvey’s hot tip zeroed in on music that would comprise my top most desert island selection. In fact, when the Blue Notes were reissued, as Harvey said it would happen, in 1976, I listened to the twofer’s LP over and over and over. Monk came to be my top guy, comes to be the only religion I’m affiliated with.)

The Real Shit – No. 2 (definitely in the early Spring, 1974)

(Kind of Blue is playing on the turntable. Harvey walks in. He fingers the jazz rack, walks over.)

Harvey: Miles Davis. I’m going to tell you something.

Me: Miles, man, I love this stuff.

Harvey: You like this, huh?

Me: Yeah. I like Jack Johnson the best.

Harvey: Oh. Too bad you can’t really check the real shit.

Me: What?

Harvey: Kind of Blue has the reputation. Best jazz record ever? It’s not even the best Miles. Well, it’s not my favorite Miles. You know Coltrane?

Me: Yup.

Harvey: I dunno. Kind of Blue. No, it’s the Prestige records starting in 1955; Coltrane, Garland, Chambers, Philly Joe Jones. You don’t know those guys, right.

Me: Well,

Harvey: Besides Coltrane. They do a song, in 1957, Diane. Oh, it’s all brilliant.

Me: The store should get some.

Harvey: Those sides are being reissued soon. I’ll help you out, get them all.

(He walks over to the jazz bin and pulls out a Trip reissue of Max Roach and Clifford Brown.)

Harvey: You need to realize the history of jazz goes back to before the twenties. Everything has its heritage. Miles Davis, Clifford Brown, and then you have to go back and dig Fats Navarro, and, back to Eldridge. and back to Armstrong. And, then you have to cover people nobody knows about like Shorty Baker.

(He stops, mildly shakes his head.)

Me: I get what you’re saying.

Harvey: You’ll get it, sometime, after you put the time in.

Point Omega – No. 3 (definitely in the late Spring, 1974)

(Harvey walks in and heads to the jazz rack, fingers through it part way, and then notices a record displayed on the pegboard. He lifts it up and out of its holder and walks over to the counter.

Harvey: This is incredible.

Me: What?

Harvey: You have no idea how rare these sides are. This record isn’t rare.

Me: Huh?

Harvey: I mean this LP contains really rare music from Art Pepper. Until now you;d have to hunt for them and probably you wouldn’t find them.

Me: Okay!

Harvey: You don’t know Art Pepper. I don’t even know why this record is here. Art Pepper is an alto saxophonist–is this white cat with a ton of soul. He sort of takes off from Yardbird, You don’t know Pres, Lester Young.

Me: No.

Harvey: hmmph. Anyway, it’s useless to sound just like somebody else. Art found his own sound and, man, all his great records are collector’s items. This is a goldmine, this one right here. Ring me up. How much?

Less than a month later a holdup dude walked into the store and shot me in the back while I lay on the floor of the rear office. I escaped to Vermont, yet I held onto Harvey’s advisories. Sure enough, and soon enough, those Prestige and Blue Note twofers came rolling into my hands and life. All those rare Pepper’s ended up reissued and not so rare. They’re glorious. And, I spent the next fifteen years playing catch-up to all that glowing history.

A history, about which, Harvey was on the money.

There’s a funny last encounter to tell about. I returned to Cleveland in 1992, and by 2000 I was once again managing a record store in Cleveland Heights. Harvey never walked into the store, however I did happen upon him at the local post office. This was probably in 2000, so this moment came 26 years after Point Omega.

He was leaving and I was coming. I recognized him and turned around and curved my head around his shoulder. He wouldn’t stop walking after I announced,

“Harvey Pekar, I know you from what you told me years ago in a record store near here.”

“I don’t know you. What record store?”

“It was called Music Madness. It was next to the old post office.”

I’m still walking with him as we go through the front door, out toward the parking lot.

“Umm, yeah, I remember a record store there, but I don’t remember you.”

At which point I broke away, chuckling.

Dub Collision mix, Blues for Harvey Pekar, available at nogutsnoglorystudios. Here’s a taster.


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And, so it ends, and if one is feeling not very charitable, it did so in ignominy.

There was something inexplicable in watching the Cavaliers scramble to catch up, rather than control their on-court destiny. Is it possible they underestimated the degree of difficulty?

Who’s to say, but a lot of words will start to spill. Discuss.

The Cav’s depth wasn’t an advantage. If there were too many pieces to the puzzle, we’ll have to find out later how Dan Gilbert and Danny Ferry adjust to what seemed to be a problem of too many moving parts and not enough role definition and not enough go-to plays. For this fan and viewer, the Cavs seemed to be a bundle of different experiments throughout the season. But what it looked like was a team trying to gel–but with too many unproven recipes in the mix. There can’t be many fans in Cleveland who endorse the “waiting for LeBron to create” halfcourt O.

The Cavs played only two games in the two playoff series where their effort was controlling and determined for all four quarters. Otherwise, what it looked like, if I were to boil it down, was an uncoordinated effort at high risk, high reward, possessions. The Celtics are way to good and experienced to allow such an approach to work. Much of the time the Cavs were in reaction mode. The pattern of the series was to get the score close and then turn the ball over, or rush shots, or, ignore the weak side. The hallmark of the Cav’s stressed-out mode was indelible: fumbling and mishandling the ball, or, trying to bounce or thread high-degree-of-difficulty passes through the Celtic’s wingy ‘D.’ Oh, but then there was their inability to match the Celtic’s will on the glass too… Painful.

The Cavs had more than enough talent. Until the playoffs, the ride the goosy gang provided was a lot of fun. The Cavs are in a predicament in addition to the King’s uncertain future tenure. They have a large group of young players with uncertain upsides. As for LeBron, I’m with the 2,000,000+ in the area who are holding to a certain wish and hope. Be that as it is, we’ve gone from football town to baseball town to basketball town, and, could circle back if need be. Ha! We’d have to!

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Z’ riffic

Z. . .what a mensch!

During the Lebron era the Cavs have most often described by courtside commentators and b-ball media as being something like the King and his sub-stellar crew. This is a way of depicting secondary cast to be nothing more than a setting for the peerless one. So, as the NBA seasons rolls toward the end games, I’d like to wonder out loud how many other NBA teams would swap two or three starters for their choice among the four off the Cavs’ bench, Z, DWest, Varejao, Boobie? The point could be that having LeBron on your team tends to lead to his surrounding crew being discounted. It’s also seemingly the case, Mike Brown’s schemes elevate tightly defined roles and dial down the potential for a player to break out career-wise.

It also seems the Cavs just wear their opponents down. I like the odds.

My suggestion for the King is simple: it’s a-okay to realize the aspiration to be the greatest athlete to ever put on Cleveland colors. It’s just you and Jim Brown and Bob Feller at this point. (Žydrunas Ilgauskas is already the greatest Lithuanian athlete to ever play in Cleveland.) Go for it, King James.

Hat tip to:

Cavs: the Blog

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Cha-ching & ‘who were they?’

It was great to see paper ballots being used at my local voting place. This is even better than the punch-the-chad method. Sometimes the ancient technology is the least troublesome.

In Cuyahoga County there came to collide in this election two neoliberal fever dreams: issue #3, casinos, with, issue #6, new county charter. The latter implements a new techno-bureaucratic structure for the county. The former is neither a terrible idea or a great idea. But it is a mediocre idea.

It will be interesting to see if a casino sucks the long odds irrational lottery fan to its better odds. If this comes about, then its possible an unintended consequence will also be realized, a hit to education funding.

The new county charter is likely a new gain over the putrid rot of the current set-up, yet its promise rides on the citizenry becoming engaged enough to vet the new executive personnel. Under the box for the failed issue #5—it would have established a charter commission to write a future charter—was a slew of candidates for said commission. Who were they?

Roll the dice…

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In the weeks during which the Cleveland Indians began to kick toward the Central Division crown, the lack of Jacobs Field sell-outs increasingly became the point of talk show conversation. Why weren’t the fans excited enough to start another string of sell-outs? After all, this 2007 team is somewhat in the same young and feisty mold of the legendary John Hart mini-dynasty of 1995-2001 (six crowns, two world series appearances.) Still, once the rebuilding phase commenced abruptly in 2002, the 455 sell out streak had long ended (2001.)

2006     78 84 .481 18.0 1,997,936
2005     93 69 .574 6.0 2,014,220
2004     80 82 .494 12.0 1,814,401
2003     68 94 .420 22.0 1,730,001
2002     74 88 .457 20.5 2,616,940
2001     91 71 .562 3,175,523
2000     90 72 .556 5.0 3,456,278
1999     97 65 .599 3,468,436
1998     89 73 .549 3,467,299
1997     86 75 .534 3,404,750
1996     99 62 .615 3,318,174
1995     100 44 .694 2,842,745
1994     66 47 .584 1.0 1,995,174

It is indicative of our town’s collective sports psychology that the basic reason given for the fans’ inability to ‘re-arouse’ themselves this year is that they won’t subject themselves to the potential heartbreak should they jump on the bandwagon and experience it to stall sometime at or before the final out of the world series.

This is nonsense of course. Psychology doesn’t work this way. Its ridiculous, uninformed assumptions presume the 10,000-15,000 fans who are staying away are all staying away for this reason. This implies the fans who are showing up come for other reasons but no other reasons exist for all other fans, fans who come out of the sports-happy demographic of northeastern Ohio and its population of 3 million peeps.

This reasoning ignores the 300,000+ fans who have watched the team recently on STO and assumes there is in this group a lack of motivation to see the team in person, even if it is okay to assume they all have stilled this anxiety-provoking potential for heartbreak.

Actually, it is worth suggesting that the in-person audience is highly correlated with the at-home audience. Perhaps the figure is about 10% of the former. Yes, fans have to be motivated to invest time in watching their favorite diamond sons play, but the total figure is quite dynamic and quite unlikely to move south simply because people will defer today’s pleasure against the complete uncertainty of anxiety-provoking results in the distant future.

My guess is that the perfect storm of a good young team and a new ballpark in a city stripped of their beloved, inept Browns (1996) and with a putrid NBA team, constituted a marketer’s perfect storm in 1995.

This said, the rationale behind the idea that a critical mass of fans is prevented from re-forming because of a collective fear says an ore boat’s worth about the longstanding narrative floated by ignorant sports commentators, commentators at least ignorant of social psychology! In effect, it’s a meme floated to support the chip on the shoulder even if the sample of truly disgruntled and fearful fans is given only by those both disgruntled yet motivated to blather on over the phone during call-in shows.

Go Tribe. They are a very dangerous team completely unaware of the idea that they aren’t this year’s cream of the crop. Consider a playoff starting rotation of Sabathia, Carmona, Byrd, with Westbrook, Betancourt, Perez coming out of the bullpen, Borowski at the backend, and the simple revival of hitting with runners in scoring position, and you have to like the Tribe’s chances.

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