Sunday, November 02, 2014

Cleveland isn't about LeBron, LeBron is about Cleveland

On her September 19 show, Rachel Maddow was wrapping up an interview with Bill Rhoden, who was apparently on his way to Cleveland.

"I love Cleveland," said Rhoden.

"You're the only one," replied Maddow.

Clevelanders are accustomed to such unfortunate jibes, which get more tone deaf every day. Fortunately, the tired old jokes about a burning river are becoming fewer and far between. After all, when two diametrically opposite entities such as the Gay Games and the GOP choose Cleveland for their gatherings, that's saying something.

Then we have LeBron. I wrote about his homecoming announcement back in July, to which occasional Owner's Manual commenter Bill replied, "A basketball player. A basketball team. It's laughable."

You don't get it, Bill. You really don't get it. And if you live in America, you need to get it. Everone needs to get Cleveland. Our future as a country is here.

Watch this:

That is an accurate depiction of this town. LeBron and the Cavs are perfect front men for our dazzling comeback. After all, we've dug ourselves out of a hole with sheer grit and manpower. The best part is that we didn't do it by reinventing ourselves, we did it by rediscovering ourselves.

Cleveland isn't about LeBron, LeBron is about Cleveland.

I am here on the ground, been here forever. I know what the hell I'm talking about. Cleveland is blooming everywhere you look, even in it's darkest corners. What's happening here is about our bones. It's about authenticity--and you cannot fake authenticity.

Swank apartments with rents to match are filling downtown buildings that were considered to be vacant tragedies not so long ago. They have waiting lists--really long waiting lists. To wit: the 1918 Globe Machining and Stamping Co. building leased all 45 of its luxury lofts in the snap of finger when it opened for business this summer. Now there are 50 on the waiting list.

I can think of one project after another that mirrors that success. Our downtown population is skyrocketing. But we've got more than hipster apartments. We've got park systems that are positively magical. I know. I've walked miles and miles and miles of them. We've got water--a lake and a river. (Yeah, I know, algae blooms. We've got a lot of work to do on our public transportation network as well and other problems. We'll get to it. You should have seen the Cuyahoga River back in the 1960s.)

My guess is if you want to get in on the ground floor and purchase a bit of sleeper real estate, you're probably too late. 

Goat and friends

Here in Cleveland, you (yes, you) can walk into a cutting edge maker space at Case Western Reserve University and access a laser cutter, professional 3D printer, circuit board router or 3D stereo inspection microscope for free. You can view gallery after gallery of priceless art, from Degas to Warhol--all for free--at the Cleveland Museum of Art, which just underwent a $350 million renovation. And pretty soon, you'll be able to walk into a gorgeous historic bank and do your grocery shopping. Oh HELL YEAH.

Why on earth, Mr. Entrepreneur, would you go to Silicon Valley when we've got a kick-ass fiber optic network in this jewel of a town?

Oh, and we have an extraordinary dining scene, one of the best in the nation.

There is a staying power to this second act. You can feel it. Clevelanders go in for the long haul, which is why LeBron came back. We love him when he wins. We love him when he loses.

That's because this town is a winner no matter what the happens on the court.

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Anonymous said...

Turd in Punch Bowl.



Erin O'Brien said...

Definitely an issue here, which in itself is astonishing. What I wouldn't do to go back in time and tell a 1975 Clevelander that too demand and money was causing trouble in the Ohio City neighborhood and just watch their laughter.

So, yeah, Cleveland's got a gentrification issue. Who saw that coming?

Big Mark 243 said...

... gentrification is like natural selection ... unfortunate but that is the way it goes ...

...Detroit used to have Emily Gail (yes, Max's sister) rooting for it... I wish that there is an EOB to root for it the way she does for Cleveland..!

Erin O'Brien said...

Sorry. Previous comment should have read: too much demand and money.

Bill said...

All I know about Cleveland is what I've learned from you, Erin. I hope Cleveland continues its resurgence. I wish other communities with crappy reputations, like Detroit and Oakland, would learn something from your fine city. I stand by my earlier comments about a basketball player or team making a city better. Oakland, for example would still suck even if the Raiders were 7-0 instead of 0-7.

Michael Lawless said...

Okay...the "resurgence" is invigorating. But the hype sometimes is out of control. For example: the CHANDELIER at Playhouse's a fuckin light.

Bill said...

Congratulations on reelecting your great governor who undoubtedly contributed to the Cleveland success story!

Anonymous said...

For a differing angle on the basketball team and its employees see if you can dig up a copy of "The Whore of Akron" by Esquire writer(and native Clevelander) Scott Raab. Like most native Cleveland sports fans of a certain age, he's been marinated in the vinaigrette of despair, disappointment, and self-deceit for decades.

Oh, and he's pretty funny too.


Anonymous said...

How bout those Browns!