Friday, July 29, 2011

There's no place like home

Clevelander Katie O'Keefe takes to the streets. Photo by Bob Perkoski

Meet Cleveland's Super Hero.

That's what Katie O'Keefe's friends call her. Any why not? I mean come on: Look at this chick! She doesn't even need a cape. Hey Gotham City? Our O'Keefe will kick your Batgirl's ass any day of the week.

"In Cleveland," says O'Keefe, "you can have everything." And when you meet her, you'll believe it.

O'Keefe is one of seven incredibly fascinating people I interviewed for this story in this week's Fresh Water about boomerangs--Clevelanders who've left the city and then returned. Every one of them loves this town as much as I do. Like me, they know that Cleveland is the best kept secret in the country.

I've been here a long long time and I've seen it all, from the heartbreaking sports debacles to the collapse of the steel industry, but our unfailing Rust Belt grittiness has never faded. Clevelanders are authentic and tough. The heart of this city is what the boomerangs missed most and what they fell in love with all over again when they returned.

Cleveland's energy is returning right along with the boomerangs. For those of us on the inside, the evidence is everywhere. For anyone on the outside who doesn't believe me, just try to rent a downtown apartment. Waiting list lengths range from a few dozen to hundreds.

Yep, you read that right. The Residences at 668 has a waiting list of 600. I know. I checked.

"Apartments are usually only vacant for a few hours," said the rental agent to me.

So the secret may be out of the bag. That shouldn't come as a surprise. Cleveland's got cool new stuff and cool old stuff. We've got great sex milkshakes, a Blimp House, and the toughest Thinker on the planet.

And oh yeah, and I live here--so there's that.

* * *


Bill said...

Gotta feel for the husband that Katie dumped for Cleveland.

Anonymous said...

"In 2007, she married and settled in Alabama."

Enough to make anyone homesick.(Unless you're from Alabama)

I like her tats. Maybe I should come to Cleveland to get inked.


danb said...

Yeah. I totally know what y'all are talking about, since I am a former Clevelander living in South Carolina. The GF and I talk about moving back to Ohio all the time.


By the way, my word verification thingy says "cropr", which reminds me of "crapper" (tee-hee giggle snort).

alphadog said...

Ah Bill, maybe Katie's ex was a just a jerk. There is this after all from Mary, "I leave for 15 years and I traveled all around the world. I come back and meet the love of my life. There must be something special about Cleveland."
How can you argue with that?

Bill said...

I try not to argue too much with women. I'd probably shake my head in agreement if she said "there must be something special about hell."

Vince said...

I'd have thought Alaska and virtually any other state of the union before I would have said Alabama for any Ohioan.

philbilly said...

Twice I've attempted to move away, once to the Rockies, once to Chicago. Considered Pittsburgh not long ago. Now I'm married to 14,000 square feet a mile from the Lake. It's not something in the water, it is the water.

And slowly, ever so slowly, as the dinosaurs die and go to prison, Cleveland pulls its parochial head out of its corrupt ass and allows the Lakefront and Downtown to develop into destinations. Joints like Cropicana and the hip food trucks on Walnut Wednesday are a snooty start. Get over yerselves, this is Cleveland, and that seven dollar "creation" you're hawking is a hamburger. And use better bacon, did you think I wouldn't notice shitty bacon?

In Chicago, one of my favorite things was reading the Sunday paper at any one of many lakefront parks I could bike to. In Colorado, it was the sturdy tattooed women with pink hair.

Slowly, ever so slowly...

Once Known as The Badger said...

You're making a return ever more attractive!

Marc Mannheimer said...

so funny -- I keep seeing her biking Detroit by the shore. saw her today, the bright red hair and the gray shoulders (tattoos).

Cleveland Blows said...

the only way i'm coming back to cleveland is in restraints. you guys can glorify the isolated pockets of mediocrity all you want. as a whole, cleveland is a festering sore on the ass of the world.

Anonymous said...

@Cleveland Blows-
I'm with you, dude...the only way I'm ever coming back is in restraints...or a box...
Anthony Sowell

Erin O'Brien said...

Dear Blows,

On behalf of all Clevelanders, I thank you for your helpful and heartfelt comments. I can hardly imagine how we've gotten along without you.

philbilly said...

Excellent. Two more parking spots.

Al The Retired Army Guy said...

@ Cleveland Blows:

I am a retired Army officer, and have lived in the following places: Killeen, TX; Columbus, GA; Fayetteville, NC; Seoul, South Korea; Baghdad, Iraq; Springfield, VA; Cleveland, Ohio; Columbus, Ohio. I've spent the most time over the past twenty years or so in Fayetteville. I figured I'd comment on each place with a perspective, with the amount of time spent at each place in parentheses.

Killeen, TX (four years): small town outside an Army base. Has typical strip mall, same-as-anywhere-USA chain stores and restaurants. Downtown looks like a war zone most of the time. Nothing to do in the place at all, which is why most folks drive an hour to Austin (which is a rocking place, trust me). I got married there (actually on Fort Hood), but that's about the only good thing I can say about the place.

Columbus, GA (1 year): Much like Killeen, only bigger. We used to drive to Auburn, AL or Fort Walton Beach FL to find things to do. Or Atlanta (another rocking place).

Springfield, VA (two years): Traffic. Congestion. Expensive. Traffic. Lots of things to see and do, provided the traffic isn't too bad. Traffic.

Baghdad, Iraq (8 months): I was deployed there. Lived in the Green Zone for 8 months. Hot. Hot. Hot. Crappy AFN TV Channels. Got shot at occasionally.

Seoul, South Korea (one and half years): Loved it there. Great public transportation. Street food. Shockingly fresh seafood. Being able to cook your own food at the table in restaurants. Warm, friendly people. Haggling in markets. Myongdong. Kangnam. Nightlife. I'd go back in a heartbeat.

Columbus, OH (four years): Great town. The Central Market downtown is awesome. Home of The Ohio State University. German Village with cool shops and restaurants. Drive 20 minutes, and you're in the country. Tommy's Subs. One of the first places Buffalo Wild Wings went (used to go to fifteen cent wing night on Tuesday to get twenty wings - the line was out the door). World class research hospital at Ohio State. Football games at Ohio Stadium. State capital.

Cleveland, OH: City of my birth and childhood. Has seen better days, but ... it has more to offer than most realize. A world class orchestra. Michael Symon (of Iron Chef fame on the Food Network) and all of his great restaurants. The West Side Market. The Sausage Shoppe on Memphis Avenue (where they are, in fact, doing the Lord's Work by preserving smoking/sausage making techniques not seen anymore). Sledding in the valley in the winter. Swimming at Edgewater in the summer. Hot Sauce Williams. Little Italy. The Warehouse District. The West Bank of the Flats (the East side has seen better days). Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Low cost of living compared to a lot of other major cities. The Cleveland Metroparks System (known as the valley, a great place for recreation, picnics, and general relaxation year-round). Home to no nonsense, no bullshit folks. Home to Bob Hope, Oscar winner Halle Berry, John D. Rockefeller, Debra Winger, Anne Heche, President James Garfield, Drew Carey, Emmy winner Patricia Heaton, Jesse Owens (born in AL, but raised in Cleveland - won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics), Oscar winner Paul Newman and more. The Cleveland Clinic, consistently rated as one of the top hospitals in the country. Cleveland State University. Case Western Reserve University. John Carroll University (Don Shula is a grad, and also a Cleveland native). Baldwin-Wallace College.

I'd say that based on my experience, Cleveland's a pretty cool place. If you don't like it, fine. Don't come back. For me .... I'd go back in a heartbeat, and I savor every moment I spend in this great town. I just love the place.


Anonymous said...

@ Al-Bravo! Well conceived and executed, Sir.
Mike R
wv: trograg-Neanderthal women's best friend every 28 days.

Bill said...

It doesn't matter where you live. It's who you're with that's important! That's why I'm blissfully happy living in the belly of the liberal beast, the SF Bay Area.