Saturday, August 23, 2014

A post full of sighs

Hi guys.

This has been one of the sweetest summers I can remember here in northeast Ohio, with mild temperatures, breezy blue skies and the occasional dramatic storm to give it all scale.

Hamburger over Akron

I've walked miles and miles and miles during these fair days, many of them with the Goat along the Ohio & Erie Canalway Towpath Trail--such a gentle gift. I wish every one of you could come here and let me be your guide. We'd meander by bits of history such as the Mustill Store, through Akron's quirky downtown district, and take in my favorite stuff--walking through our infrastructure past and present. The trail goes underneath interstates, beneath towering bridges and past industrial relics. It's all next to that old canal, which was dug with shovels.

Akron underground

How I love this place.

The only thing missing from my August has been Ohio sweetcorn, eliminated as part of my new low-carb eating efforts. And as much as I love sweetcorn, the 20 pounds I've dropped is even sweeter.

At Gay Games DanceSport

The Gay Games were spectacular. You should have seen the ballroom dancing. The dancers radiated pure joy. Lil' OB and I were positively hypnotized by it, so much so that we both misted up. It was that emotional.

You don't see true kernels of freedom too often. But the gay rodeo participants? The athletes from Russia walking into Progressive Field without fear? Two people dancing with beautiful abandon and no judgement?

That's freedom.

Pretty girls on horses at the Gay Rodeo

Well my friends, that's all I know. The Goat's time off is coming to an end and Lil' OB is off to school next week (that kid's a senior!). I'm back at the desk working on yet another large business project.

So while I can't package up the summer's good karma and send it to quell the unrest in Ferguson or melt the guns in the Middle East, I can send some floating your way.

Onward, onward, onward ...

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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Grand bicycle

Spied on Cleveland's Public Square last week

He was playing the original theme from Halloween. I am not kidding.

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Rainbow over Cleveland

In order to pen this feature for Fresh Water, I've been immersed in the Gay Games over the past days. I've never been so proud of my hometown, which came together in ways big and small for this event.

I urge my fellow northeast Ohioans to read the article. You will come away with a renewed sense of this place and it's people.

Now for some additional images and commentary.

Gay pride on the street

The International Gay Rodeo Association teamed up with the Gay Games to host a rodeo at the Summit County Fairgrounds over the weekend. What a blast. the cowpeople came from Texas and California and Canada--and they brought their animals. There were some 100 participants. Spectators included families and kids and gay people and straight people (and the Goat and me).

They took their hats off for the invocation and waved the American flag. They rode bulls, decorated steer and dressed goats. They drank their share of beer. They wore spurs and chaps and belts.

Hats off during the National Anthem at the Gay Rodeo

IGRA members buckle down at the opening ceremony pre-party

Amid all the fanfare, I came upon this. Leave it to the Baptists to mar an otherwise picture perfect moment for Northeast Ohio. I took this photo on Sunday morning. The sign was changed by the afternoon, but the sentiment remained. Nonetheless, feel free to contact the church directly if you care to share some free speech of your own with them. I did.

Baptist bigots

Lastly (and I daresay in start contrast to the previous image), I offer this sight that took my breath away. While there is plenty of celebration everywhere you look in Cleveland during this event, which runs through Saturday, the pure joy on the faces of the Russian LGBT Sport Federation was something to behold.

Let freedom ring.

They are welcome here, Mr. Putin

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Sunday, August 10, 2014

On Gabe Nabors, Mustard Seed Market and Eden Foods

Montrose location
On Friday I had lunch with Gabe Nabors of Mustard Seed Market. His gracious invitation was in response to an open letter I penned to him about his store, how much I love it and why I will never pluck an Eden Foods product from the shelves.

Gabe and I discussed the Eden Foods controversy. I believe the Edens' management is endeavoring to poke a one-way hole in the corporate veil at the expense of women in the name of religion. If the Hobby Lobby decision is any indication, Eden Foods will likely be successful. If the courts won't move to protect my daughter's rights, I will.

"I think it's wrong," said Gabe of the Eden Foods move. Hence, the two of us seemed to be on the same ideological page or at least in the same chapter. Yet Eden Foods products continue to line the shelves of his family's stores.

Per Gabe, the integrity of Eden Foods' products remains impeccable despite the politics of the home office. They are popular with his customers. Gabe was quick to say that he has indeed fielded complaints and opinions about his decision to continue stocking Eden Foods via email, phone calls, social media and in person.

"This is the first lunch," he said of our meeting.

Despite those interactions, Gabe said he does not think the majority of the people who purchase Eden Foods know about the controversy.

"The noise is not loud enough," he said of the collective protest.

Inviting produce at Mustard Seed
Gabe brought up Stacey's Pita Chips and Naked Juice. Both were made by indie companies that eventually got bought up by PepsiCo. The chips maintained their integrity, Naked Juice did not. Despite being one of the store's best selling products, Mustard Seed pulled Naked Juice from its shelves. Stacy's chips remain. Even though Gabe wasn't exactly thrilled about the PepsiCo purchase, he still believes in Stacy's chips and stands by the product--an endorsement that doesn't come lightly.

Which is pretty much where he is with Eden Foods. The product continues to meet his standards and remains popular with shoppers. Protests have not pushed him over the tipping point.

Gabe said he encourages people to "vote with their dollars." While not everyone agrees with that philosophy, Seattle customers voted Eden out of one co-op. Either way, I surely respect Gabe's response.

The most telling part of the meeting had to do with photos. Mustard Seed does not permit photos and Gabe's mom interrupted me as I took a couple of shots before the meeting. She did not know who I was or why I was there. When I explained I was meeting with Gabe, she said if he okays the pictures, it's fine to use them.

So I showed Gabe the photos. I only had a couple, one of which showed some of Eden Foods products on his shelves. His brow collapsed as it flashed on my tiny camera screen.

"You don't want me to use this?" I asked.

"I'd rather you didn't," he said, "but it's up to you."

So while the contents of the Eden Foods' packages remains pristine, the exterior of them has been sullied, ideologically speaking. In that, I sense a subtle victory.


Dear reader, I urge you to shop heartily and often at one of northeast Ohio's finest family run businesses, Mustard Seed Market, which continues to garner my enthusiastic endorsement. During our chat, I learned that Gabe's family owns a giant blueberry farm, which I intend to visit. The company is constantly engaged in community service, such as supporting the Cleveland Children's Hunger Alliance and offering an array of educational classes. The store's produce is usually picked from an Ohio farm within 24 hours of being displayed.

But please leave the Eden Foods products on the shelves. Better yet, call the store, contact Gabe on Twitter, or chime in on Mustard Seed's facebook page and tell the Nabors family what you think about Eden Foods. Maybe we can get those cartons and cans so dirty on the outside, Gabe and his staff will reach the tipping point and take them off the shelves just like Weaver Market did in North Carolina.

Confidential to Mr. Gabe Nabors: Thanks for lunch. The sushi roll was delicious and it was an honor to chat with you.

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Friday, August 08, 2014

Talhotblond, marine sniper and beefcake

Talhotblond is 75 positively riveting minutes, folks.

Whatever you do, get the original documentary. Do not make the mistake of getting the Lifetime based-on-a-true-story docudrama, which I did not see.

It might be very good, but watching Thomas Montgomery tell his story first hand and seeing the real photos of the real people and their sexts scroll down the screen will chill you to the bone.

The people in this story are the ones behind you at the Walmart checkout, with a package of Oreos, some tube socks and Renuzit in their cart. This movie takes you far beyond that, into the darkest corners of their minds. You will not soon forget what you see there.

I won't give any spoilers, but oddly enough, while this story is completely plausible for 2006, there is no way it could happen today.

Don't read up on the story online. Get the movie and watch twice in a row. It is absolutely jaw-dropping.

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