Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Chill times in the Big Cleve

(Saturday, July 16th - Sunday, July 17th)

I said seeya later to Chicago at 8:15 am and after a quick stop in Toledo, was in Cleveland by 3:30. Either time flies on the megabus or wi-fi is a time machine. It felt like two hours.

(Photo credit: Avogadro94, Copyright: Wikimedia Commons)
My impression of Cleveland: Post-industrial, slightly depressed with a great arts scene and an increasing number of dedicated young locals.

Immediately after meeting up with my friend Peter at the the fountain in Tower City, a mall overlooking the river—we made our first stop: Ohio City, a trendy district in Cleveland, where we checked out The Glass Bubble Project.

A studio that specializes in recycling glass and scrap metal into art.
Chandelier made of wine-glasses and recycled glass bottles.
And West Side Market.

A cathedral of produce
 and eccentric grocery items...

 My hosts of the century, Peter and Oliva, are amongst the scores of young locals devoted to reviving Cleveland.

Olivia is a librarian pursuing a masters in Public Administration. And Peter, when he's not busy pursuing his MFA in Playwriting at Carnegie Mellon, works at the Art Museum.

They invited me into their home:

Their neighborhood viewed from their backyard.
And showed me what Cleveland hospitality is all about:

well beyond the flowers, welcome card, chocolate covered espresso beans and dried strawberries (West Side Market goodies) they left for me on the dresser in their guest room.
Over the next two days, they shared Cleveland with me from the perspective of a long time insider—history and all—from the story of an infamous local serial killer to a high school next to a small airport that featured the coolest elective ever— aviation lessons.

They also shared their deft cooking skills and excellent taste:
Peter and Olivia. Our dinner: raw oysters, escargot and grilled chicken.
The escargot experiment: 400 degrees for ten minutes in a toaster oven.
 This was followed by...

Olivia’s homemade green-tea-honeydew-melon-mint sorbet.

And if that wasn’t enough, the next day they took me to Taste of Tremont:

(photo credit: coolcleveland.com)
Followed by our own taste of handmade artisanal chocolates at Lilly Tremont.

My favorites:
*Hot Mama (the square shaped one with red and green flowers): Cayenne pepper, sichuan peppercorn honey--dark chocolate.
*After Midnight (the round one)- a hand rolled truffle with cocoa—Nongne-o-imperial stout dark chocolate.
*L.O.O.P (oval with the white houndstooth pattern)—fresh lemon zest, extra virgin olive oil, roasted hazelnuts, espresso infused salt-- milk chocolate.

In 1.5 days, Peter and Olivia made sure I saw Cleveland, in all its glory.

From abandoned warehouses:

to a park with gardens sponsored by the many ethnic groups that populate Cleveland, toThe Hope Memorial Bridge, named after Bob Hope's father. It features the Guardians of Transportation.

(All three photos compliments of google images)

I was disappointed to learn that laser beams do not shoot from their eyes.

You have to admit, they look like a cross between: 

(<--It is Cleave-land.)

Lord of the Rings and Neverending Story.

Awesome fact about Cleveland: The Cuyahoga County's Cigarette tax has generated millions of dollars to support the arts, including  40 annual independent artist fellowships, each $20,000.

This tax does not apply to candy cigarettes. Disgusting habit.
Peter and I both picked it up in Omaha from a friend at the Great Plains Theater Conference earlier this summer—where we initially met.

 Caught ashing my candy cigarette during a drive through Cleveland.

We skipped the Rock & Roll hall of fame for the Cleveland Museum of Art, which was:

FREE. Oh, Cleveland-- how do you know me so well?
 (The provenance of the Free Stamp downtown is too complicated to post. It involves BP.)

The Cleveland Art Museum is top notch, featuring the best of each art movement:

They even have the only original work by Praxiteles (a much-written-about ancient Greek sculptor) ever found.

Apollo Sauroktonos (Apollo the Lizard Slayer):
Peter's favorite exhibit.

Mine too.

 They have one of the original casts of Rodin’s “The Thinker.”
He probably spends most of his time wondering—“Where did my feet go?” It was devastated by a pipe bomb tossed in 1970 by radical anti-war protestors.

Did you know that artists from Cleveland were original pioneers in the Op-Art movement? They have an entire disorienting room in their modern art wing dedicated to their work.

Also, in honor of Cleveland's early steel industry...
They have an entire room dedicated to armor.

We took advantage of the gorgeous weather by taking a quick jaunt around the Art Museum’s exterior

Where I captured:.

The monster koi of Wade Lagoon. (Artful shot from my phone.
Not photoshopped.)

 The foliage at the bottom is a reflection. 

It’s a Cleveland tradition to take a picture with Wade Lagoon’s amorous mermaids.

 (I might have made that up to justify posting this  image).

Can you sense my urge for magic?

In the evening, I finally caught a late night showing of...

This was followed by a midnight ride through the Rocky River Reservation and a full blown case of Harry Potter syndrome. As Peter drove us through the thick of the woods, I half-expected the car to swerve as we narrowly miss a stag patronus.

My only mistake was booking only 1.5 days. But to be fair, at the time I organized my megabus adventure, I had no idea I'd be staying with two Cleveland enthusiasts, who according to my next host Murphi, Peter's classmate in Pittbsurgh, love Cleveland more than anybody she's ever met.

On to Pittsburgh!

1 comment:

  1. Minnesota has much the same program as Cleveland: a tax set aside specifically for the arts. In Minnesota, it's a bit broader (it's called the Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment) and funded through a .375% addition to the sales tax. It's allowed for a lot of programs to happen, including concerts in numerous smaller communities, funding for programs through MPR, some free museum days, along with money for the DNR (which actually makes up a lot of the actual monetary flow.) Whether it's worth the .375% in additional tax could be debated, but it has brought in a lot of things to Minnesota that wouldn't have happened otherwise.