Thursday, June 30, 2011

Memphis Kiddie Park

Memphis Kiddie Park at 10340 Memphis Avenue in Brooklyn (across the street from the Memphis Drive-In) opened on May 28, 1952. This tiny amusement park includes eleven rides, a concession stand and miniature golf. The first time a child of mine was invited there for a birthday party a few years ago (yes, it is still in operation) I was charmed by the atmosphere. It was sedate, not loud. Everyone was polite. I realized this was because there was no loud music playing, and because of the 50" and under designation for (almost) all of the rides, there was a complete absence of teenagers.

Adults can join the kids on the train which runs around the perimeter of the park, or on the Little Dipper, a steel roller coaster which holds the record for the longest continually operating roller coaster in the United States. It is also the most seriously uncomfortable joyride in the United States for anyone taller than 5'6". Big people can also accompany the small ones on the merry-go-round.

The girl and a friend on the "Space Shuttles" in 2008.

The very first time we visited, my son was just shy of two. He became enchanted by the Speedway and wanted to ride it again and again. So we held his third birthday party there. My folks came, and my father remarked that he'd always driven past this place, but never thought to bring his own kids there.

"Yes," I said. "I know."


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Memphis Drive-In

The Memphis Triple Drive-In at 10543 Memphis Rd. opened in 1954, featuring three screens and showing a double-feature each night. On Fridays and Saturdays, they would then repeat the main feature. The venue held 1000 cars.

In my experience I have attended three drive-in movies, two in Athens, but the first at the Memphis Drive-In in 1986 to see Ferris Bueller's Day Off with my girlfriend.

The Memphis Drive-In closed on September 30, 2006, purchased by the adjacent American Greeting Card Co.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Dark, Dark Hours

The Dark, Dark Hours
Starring Ronald Reagan and featuring James Dean.
Broadcast Sunday December 12, 1954
CBS General Electric Theater

Origins of the Phrase "War On Drugs"
President Dwight D. Eisenhower began what The New York Times then called "a new war on narcotic addiction at the local, national, and international level" with the establishment of an Interdepartmental Committee on Narcotics on November 27, 1954, which was responsible for coordinating executive branch antidrug efforts. -

Murder of Elderly Widow
June 30, 1948 at Cleveland, Ohio, James Buchanan was arrested by police of that city for the murder of a 60-year-old East Cleveland widow. After questioning by Police detectives he admitted his participation in the crime and also accused an accomplice. Buchanan admitted having participated, during the previous 6 months in the brutal attack of 16 women for the purpose of robbing them of their money. He stated further he wanted the money to buy wine and reefers (marihuana cigarettes) which he would consume at the same time. Before venturing out to commit their atrocious crimes, Buchanan and his partner would fortify themselves with wine and marihuana. Buchanan was 24 years of age at the time of his arrest, married and the father of three children. --The Traffic in Opium and other Dangerous Drugs


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Nick Koesters

Nick Koesters
I first met Nick Koesters (b. February 9, 1971) after a performance of Eight Impressions of a Lunatic, in which I played the part of Edouard Manet. A mutual friend had pointed him out to me before, to me he looked like a dirty hippie with long black hair and desperate-looking eyes. 

When he stepped to me I thought he was going to take a swing at me or something and I was ready to duck behind Allen Branstein (which is a trick, let me tell you) and scream for Tracey to protect me, but instead Nick just told me how amazing he thought I was in the show. I thought he was going to cry. I had like, two lines in that show, but he was right, I was incredible. I thanked him and worried about the future.

Nick was a member of Kaiser Permanante’s educational outreach tours at that time, and maybe we never would have done a show together (after one particularly difficult party at Jill’s place on Hampshire he was high as a monster and spent about an hour pitching this sketch improv show at me while I gazed longingly at the front door) only Bohan got a job with Great Lakes (Jesus) and stepped out of Bad Epitaph Theater Company’s production of Wendy McLeod’s Sin. Bohan was playing Sloth, I was cast as Envy. So the director asked me to play Sloth, and brought Nick in for Envy.

With Sarah Morton in "Sin"
Photo by Anthony Gray
(Bad Epitaph Theater Co. 1999)
This made no sense to me, I was perfect for Envy. I am Envy. But I hadn’t really gotten to know Nick. I thought he was dopey and sweet, but he has a deadly mean streak. After a performance one night I asked him to keep it down as he railed backstage about this asshole in the front row who had the nerve to bring a dog into the audience, being blind is no fucking excuse.

“Hey, don’t bad mouth our audience,” I said. I was the artistic director of the company. I thought it was important to keep it cool, especially as we were performing in a dinky art gallery and I was horrified the blind guy or his dog might hear him.

Nick snapped off my jaw and pulled out my spine through my mouth.

That night Nick, Al and I had our first read-through at the Beck Center for The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (abridged), the best production of that stupid play ever produced.

"The Complete Works of
William Shakespeare (abridged)"
(Beck Center, 1999)
Nick was good to Bad Epitaph. Bad Epitaph would have been weak without him. He has a beautiful singing voice. Who thought it was a good idea to make a modern musical adaptation of Lysistrata? Me. Who thought it was a good idea to have Nick perform the rousing R&B number "Welcome" composed by Dennis Yurich? Me. He was in that show, Cloud Nine, The Wayward Angel, The Alchemist and State of Siege.

They called us the next Reuben & Dorothy.

I wrung as much work out of him as possible before he went Equity and I would be forced to pay him.

After that he was forced to stage manage and direct for him. God, I worked him like a dog. He was an ardent supporter of the I Hate This project and was my first stage manager for that production, taking it to the Minnesota Fringe with me where he caught Gwen Hairy Gwen Gloss and asked to direct it with BETC.

With Sarah Morton,
George Roth in "Hamlet"
(Beck Center, 2006)
That show was hilarious. He staged it at Zen Salon in Ohio City, a real salon. Least expensive set we ever had to build. You didn’t see it, did you? That show was hilarious. And you suck.

Let’s see, how else did I use Nick … he was Laertes in that production of Sarah Morton’s Hamlet I directed … and in all of my radio dramas for WCPN, I Hate This, The Machine Stops and Fortitude. We were also naked on the radio together. That was a special time. Naked.

Since then he has been too busy acting in real shows where people pay him money and stuff. And I have been distressed to discover that in my absence he’s gotten … really good. Saw him in three shows this year, Inoculations, Side Effects May Include and My Barking Dog. It’s the best work I’ve ever seen him do. Amazing. Christ, he’s focused. Daniel says he could watch Nick watch TV for hours. Did you miss My Barking Dog? You suck.

So, of course, he's leaving. Not dead, leaving. He was offered a position with a real company to do real acting in Virginia, a real state. I wish him luck. Because I've seen him naked, and he needs all the luck he can get.

ALSO: Why Nick Koesters Is A Genius

Monday, June 20, 2011


This is really dark.
(Click on to enlarge.)

The comic strip Peanuts (October 2, 1950 - February 13, 2000) is the best comic strip ever made, and there are few who would disagree with that statement whose opinions really matter. Created by Charles M. Schulz and drawn by him and only him every single day for fifty years (I'm look at you, Jim Davis) Peanuts did for the comic strip was improvisation did for comedy, arriving at roughly the same time and redefining their genre for the second half of the 20th century.

I have discovered that my own appreciation of Peanuts follows the same path as many others, loving it as a child (I had Peanuts bedsheets, among a million other related materials) with many collections of strips on my bookshelves which I could recite by heart, as well as a love of the animated cartoons, which began to suck when Vince Guaraldi died.

What does the music have to do with it, you ask? Good grief.

As I became an adolescent I found cartoons about kids to be silly, and moved onto Doonesbury, returning to Peanuts as an adult when I finally realized that arch, ironic, sometimes bleak humor Doonesbury could never have existed without Schulz making it possible. Because I got the strip on one level as a child, relating to it but not knowing why I related to it, and then really being destroyed by it as an adult.

Speaking of which, have you seen 3eanuts yet?
Charles Schulz's Peanuts comics often conceal the existential despair of their world with a closing joke at the characters' expense. With the last panel omitted, despair pervades all. - 3eanuts
Very clever, great fun, and the reason it is funny is because its basic argument is true. Unlike parodist online cartoon experiments like Dysfunctional Family Circus or Garfield Minus Garfield, 3eanuts doesn't change the artists' work or even his original intention. It just exposes how the humor works, and how brilliant Schulz really was.

Linus was first depicted holding his "security blanket" on June 1, 1954.

First appearance of Pig-Pen.

Moody Radio Cleveland

Thursday, June 16, 2011

1954 Hit Parade

Rock me, Rosemary.

01. Little Things Mean A Lot - Kitty Kallen
02. Wanted - Perry Como
03. Hey There - Rosemary Clooney
04. Sh-Boom - Crew Cuts
05. Make Love To Me - Jo Stafford
06. Oh! My Pa-pa - Eddie Fisher
07. I Get So Lonely - Four Knights
08. Three Coins In The Fountain - Four Aces
09. Secret Love - Doris Day
10. Hernando's Hideaway - Archie Bleyer
11. Young At Heart - Frank Sinatra
12. This Ole House - Rosemary Clooney
13. I Need You Now - Eddie Fisher
14. Cross Over The Bridge - Patti Page
15. The Little Shoemaker - Gaylords
16. That's Amore - Dean Martin
17. The Happy Wanderer - Frank Weir
18. Answer Me My Love - Nat King Cole
19. Stranger In Paradise - Tony Bennett
20. If I Give My Heart To You - Doris Day
21. If You Love Me (Really Love Me) - Kay Starr
22. Skokiaan - Ralph Marterie
23. Hold My Hand - Don Cornell
24. Changing Partners - Patti Page
25. Papa Loves Mambo - Perry Como
26. Shake, Rattle And Roll - Bill Haley & His Comets
27. Rags To Riches - Tony Bennett
28. In The Chapel In The Moonlight - Kitty Kallen
29. Stranger In Paradise - Four Aces
30. Here - Tony Martin

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Beverly Potts

Beverly Rose Potts (April 15, 1941 - unknown) was last seen at a performance of Showagon, a city-sponsored arts program featuring local kids who sing and dance, on the evening of August 24, 1951.  Beverly was 10 years-old, she had gone to Halloran Park (between West 117th and 120th) with a friend to see the show at 7 pm.  Her friend had to be home by dark, and so left at 8:40 pm leaving Beverly to find a way home on her own.  They had left their bikes at Beverly's house.  A 13 year-old fellow student thought they saw her leaving the park after the show let out at 9:30 pm.  By 10:30 pm her parents had called the police.  She was never seen again, neither living nor dead.

Flying home from Norway in 1979, I was at a loss for something to read. I was just shy of 11 years-old. I picked up a copy of the Sunday Times of London, and read an article revisiting the Moors Murders case.  The details of the case are lost to me, what I remember are the reflections of the aging parents, whose children disappeared between 1963-65 but whose bodies were never found, and were so never connected directly to the case.  Some held out hope, some assumed long ago that their slain children were waiting to be found some day, on Saddleworth Moor.

From that moment in 1979, and for the next two years, I literally feared for my life. I felt helpless against potential abduction, absolutely sure that I was incapable of defending myself against an grown man with (or without) a weapon.  My bedroom window opened onto the roof of our garage.  How easy would it be for some to climb up there, get in, and carry me away?  I took to sleeping on the floor of my parents' room.  At the age of eleven.

During my fourth year in college, on a train trip to visit my brother in Minnesota, I became aware of the case of Amy Renee Mihaljevic (December 11, 1978 – October 27, 1989). There have been other missing children cases. But Amy was from Bay Village. I had no connection with her, I was twenty-one years old at the time. My only personal dread, apart from the horror of the crime, was what happened to her and how. She was a fifth grader attending Bay Middle School, my old school. And she had been picked up by a stranger pretending to be a friend of her mother's in front of Avellone's Pharmacy at the shopping center on Wolf Road across the street from the police station.

When I was a kid, my parents were members of the bowling league at Bay Lanes, at the same shopping center. Often I would accompany them, because my brothers were busy and couldn't look after me, and I would wander around she shopping center, always visit Avellone's for candy or to look at magazines.

What does all this mean? That it could have been me? Who knows. I was sent to therapists for this paranoia, they tried to figure out in what way I had been abused to bring about these fears. I hadn't been. I just had an active imagination. But as they say, just because you are paranoid doesn't mean they aren't trying to kill you.

The fact is, as I have mentioned before, murder doesn't thrill me. Torso murder aficionado, creepy James Badal has also written an entire book about Beverly Potts. Surprise. Even the death of Amy Mihaljevic has been fetishized by James Renner. I cannot stomach living in these places in my head long enough to write a book or a play, I do not wish to go to there.

I have children of my own. And I work so hard to allow them their freedom to run up the street to their friends' houses on their own at the same time I have their physical descriptions down cold so I can recite details to reporters in case the worst occurs.

Did you know Showagon has been around over fifty years and still exists today?

Keep an eye on your kids.

The Charley Project

Monday, June 13, 2011

Dave Brubeck

"Dave Brubeck's the swingingest."
- Jack Kerouac

David Warren "Dave" Brubeck (born December 6, 1920) is the swingingest. He was almost kicked out of conservatory because he couldn't read music, but his talent was so great they let him graduate with the understanding that he would never teach.

Serving in World War II he was allowed to create an ensemble (one of the first integrated musical combos in the Army) and met saxophonist Paul Desmond, with whom he would create his most legendary work.

He and Desmond formed the Dave Brubeck Quartet in 1951, and they were an huge hit on college campuses -- see not only Jazz at Oberlin (1953) but also Jazz at College of the Pacific (1953) and Jazz Goes to College (1954).

"This is incredible music, jazz or whatever, and you should buy it."
— Down Beat review of Jazz at Oberlin

Brubeck once cancelled a television appearance when he discovered they intended to keep his African-American bassist, "The Senator" Eugene Wright, off-camera.

It is true, there were those serious jazz fans during the 1950s who called Brubeck's work "Europeanised and overly formal." Without soul. You know what I'm saying.

But I wish to announce the opening of new sessions, and new fields, Daddy-o! Hello, Dave!

Poetry For the Beat Generation (Jack Kerouac & Steve Allen)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Paris Wife (book)

Paris, 1926. There was nothing more modern.
Twenty years ago this spring I was introduced to the soundtrack for the Alan Rudolph film The Moderns. The soundtrack first, not the film. I was couch-living in the apartment of two friends in Los Angeles. One old friend, and one new. The new friend was an aspiring film composer, his CD and cassette collection was overrun with film scores. The Moderns score was composed by Mark Isham (Romeo Is Bleeding, Quiz Show) and features original compositions and a few tracks from the period.

The music is jazz, some played on piano and sung by Charlélie Couture and there are lush, yearning themes, some based on period melodies.  There are twos version of Parlez Moi D’amour (Speak to Me of Love) both “retro” and “moderne”.

I had no reason to be in Los Angeles in the Spring of 1991, except that I had friends there and thought I was supposed to go somewhere.  I couldn’t stay in Athens (well, I could have) and I couldn’t go home (well, I could have) and I had no imagination of my own so I went where my pals were, on the edge of America.

For two months I slacked. It should have been a vacation, a playground. And I tried to make it one, we shot amateur video, I wrote and recorded a few songs, tried to create a new comic strip (always, always trying to create a new comic strip.)  I read novels, I kept fit, I did not smoke, drank little, tried to do the beach thing, tried to do the bar thing … always wearing the wrong clothes, with the wrong hair.  I wrote desperate postcards to my estranged girlfriend back home.  And I listened to music, all the time.  No TV. Only music.

The sound of The Moderns soundtrack was mournfully romantic to me.  It made me want to go to there, and I didn’t even know where there was. I knew nothing of the 1920s, not really, and certainly not expatriate Americans in Paris. I expressed my interest in renting the movie. My friends said that would be a bad idea.

Finally, the night before I was to head home for a conjugal visit with my ex, the guys thought I may be able to deal with it.  And I didn’t like it, the movie. I had created something else in my head, a different picture that the film could not live up to. It seemed too flat to me, too silly.

But I was wrong. I watched it again, a month later, after I had returned home to Cleveland in June 1991. And I saw that it was not silly, it was funny. A cartoon of 20s Paris, or a caricature like the kind the Keith Carradine character draws.  That’s not Hemingway, that’s an idea of Hemingway, of Gertrude Stein.  When I hear descriptions of the Paris as reflected in the new Woody Allen movie I think, that that is also supposed to be Owen Wilson’s character’s idealized version of Paris and not the place itself, I think, well, I’ve seen that already.

And once I accepted The Moderns on its own terms, the more it sunk into my heart. The longing, the painting, the smoking, the drinking. We risk everything, for love and for art, don’t we?

Only I don’t. I never have. I have only risked everything for love, and never for art. I was also reading Tom Robbins’s new novel, Skinny Legs and All at that time. Art and love. And sex. But never art without love, never sex without love, not for me.  I risked everything I had, once, for love. Thank God I was right.

In the coldest snap of early 1995, I was holed up with my lover in New York for a week.  The divorce would not be finalized until later that year.  We were both sniffly and a little feverish, but we got out as often as possible, to see everything, to do everything.  We saw Rudolph’s new picture, Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle. Soundtrack again by Isham. Same period (more or less) only now New York and not Paris.  Now, writing, instead of painting.  More drinking, more smoking.  Great hats.  Everyone is so fucking witty.

I love that movie, too.  I had a foolish fantasy once upon a time of creating that kind of fascinating life here in Cleveland.  We would have salons and write great novels and plays and created fabulous portraits of each other and so beautiful places and be beautiful people.  Only that’s ridiculous.  There is nothing glamorous about Cleveland, beautiful, sure, but not fabulous.  Important and true and honest and angry and warm and eternally hopeful, that is Cleveland.  I quickly abandoned such pretensions and chose instead in my advanced 20s to concentrate and who we are, in reality. And on, with eternal hopefulness, to be happy.  To have love.

Paula McLain’s The Paris Wife, if you were not already aware, is about Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley Richardson.  And putting her in the center of a novel about that time in that pace is itself a challenge, and also so ideal. Who is Hadley?  She didn’t write anything, or paint anything, she drank as much as most but not as much as some, she promoted her husband’s work and was honest and devoted and had his first child (you know, that we know of) and was there, always there, for him, even if not anywhere to be found in the pages of In Our Time.

The Hemingway of The Moderns is a hilarious supporting character.  He’s young and giving to outbursts of pique but mostly broods drunkenly at the periphery.  He does not have a wife, or even a girlfriend, because that factual picture does not fit the monument he created for himself in his work.

Hadley’s sole (obvious) artistic endeavor is her talent with the piano, but a scheduled recital is abruptly cancelled when her relationship with Hemingway begins to unravel. (Did I neglect to provide a spoiler alert? We know Hemingway’s first marriage ended, right, that’s why it’s called that.) Because some people cannot perform when they hurt. People like me.

I am Hadley Richardson.

The Paris Wife came to me at just the right time. I don’t think I would have enjoyed it, or the protagonist, twenty years ago, though maybe that is a shame.  I believed The Moderns when I was young, the idealized version of art and love, which makes love look like a game, and that love is an inspiration and the art will pour out of you into the universe. This novel reflects the hard fact that love and trust and acceptance are to me as necessary as food or air, without which I cannot work. And that art is work, that art never pours freely from any orifice, that it must be forced out, and wrought.  Life is work, and love is work, and art is work.

And if you are good at your work, then you may be happy.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Sketchbook Cleveland

"Imitation is the sincerest form of plagiarism."
— Oscar Levant

Also one of my favorite places.

Have you been enjoying Julia Kuo's 100 Days in Cleveland? Good, because it's a great blog and I love her work. She has gotten a great deal of attention recently, thanks to me, in the Plain Dealer and on WCPN.

This must have come as a great surprise to Karen Sandstrom, former PD reporter turned graphic designer who has been blogging her sketches of Cleveland for over five years, and even has a column in Ohio Authority called Sketchbook Cleveland where, you guessed it, she has been posting drawings of her favorite places in Cleveland for longer than one hundred days.

Please take a moment for another graphic trip around Cleveland, this time with Karen, to the zoo, the Renaissance, and Gray's Armory.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

McDermott on the Authorship Question

Opening September 30, 2011
McDermott on Shakespeare
The Plain Dealer, Wednesday, October 6, 1954

“The Elizabethans were great giossips. If there had been so astonishing and fascinating a secret about the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays they would have spilled it with energy and delight.”

Monday, June 6, 2011

McDermott on "The Crucible"

Not a photo from The Crucible
Witch Hunting Is Topic Subject of Powerful Drama at Play House
By William F. McDermott
The Plain Dealer, Wednesday, October 7, 1954

The Play House last evening opened its Euclid-77th Street theater with Arthur Miller’s drama, "The Crucible". It is a strong, arresting, powerful plot and the Play House people rise to the opportunity it presents and overcome the difficulties it offers.

Some critics in New York and Europe have said that the play too impersonal and lacking in sharpness of struggle between individuals. I do not agree. It is a story about mass hysteria and necessarily its characters must be numerous and its action diffuse. But within the pattern of his design Mr. Miller has composed a sound and moving play.

The characters are sometimes scantily sketched, but there can be no denial that the principals among them are thoroughly well drawn and that the entire movement of the play is genuinely and excitingly dramatic.

It is difficult to believe that such things as Mr. Miller depicts actually happened in America, but, shocking as they are, they did happen. You can not escape the imitation of the author that something of the same sort is still happening in the world. He does not press the point, but you can sense the underlying suggestion.

Witch Hunts

"Crucible" is a dramatization of the witch hunts of Salem in 1692. This terror lasted for only a few years but produced cruelties and shames which have left lasting scars. These savageries were inflicted in the name of government and God.

Mr. Miller shows his skill as a dramatist in evoking the spell of fear and superstition which overcame a community and led it to commit shocking wrongs. He makes these wrongs more terrible and more real by showing their effect through the medium of ordinary and recognizable human beings. His canvas is broad, but his details are clear.

Innocent women were brought to trial and hanged for witchcraft on flimsy charges created by the imagination of children, or the vengefulness of enemies, all amid pious speeches and the solemn dignity of self-assured and dogmatic judges. This is Mr. Miller’s material and he makes the most effective use of it.

The cast is large and admirably directed by Frederic McConnell, who could not have found the task an easy one. It is one of the most forceful, best-disciplined performances of a difficult play that I have seen at the Play House for a long time.

Well Acted

Kirk Willis is excellent as young John Proctor who has the courage to stand up against the overwhelming forces of fear and superstition ranged against him. In this role, he conveys quiet strength, unquenchable integrity, a sense of justice and a willingness to sacrifice his life for what he believes to be honesty and goodness.

As his wife, Elizabeth, Eve Arden gives a sensitive portrayal of an outwardly cold woman who possesses an inner warmth of feeling and is more than normally forgiving. These two characters are fully developed by the dramatist and completely articulated by the players.

There are many other notable performances. June Squibb, as Abigail, is in key with the role at all times. Ella Apple has some fine moments as Tituba. Robert Allman, as Giles, hovers like a wraith around the fringes of the evening, and is altogether successful. Helen Watkins plays Rebecca Nurse with a moving reality and a touch of pathos.

Rolf Engelhardt is brisk and sure in the important role of the Rev. John Hale, and Max Ellis gives force and a forbidding genuineness to another minister of the gospel, the Rev. Samuel Parris. Some of the younger and less experienced people in the cast carry off their tasks with the skill and understanding of veterans. All honors are due to everybody concerned in the performance, including William McCreary who designed the simple and appropriate settings.

The play is not a pleasant one. But the time and place with which it deals were not pleasant. I found it an exciting and provocative drama.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Cleveland Aquarium

Sculpted glass by Michael Yates
Designed for the Cleveland Aquarium, 1957
Now on display in Primates, Cat & Aquatics House
at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
(Spotted it there with the kids today.)

The Cleveland Aquarium opened at Gordon Park near East 72nd Street on September 6, 1954, owned by the city of Cleveland and operated by the Natural History Museum. It occupied space that was once a WPA constructed bathhouse. Yes.

The Natural History Museum converted the bathhouse into a Trailside Museum, but the construction of Interstate 90 cut the CMNH property in half and they relocated their main exhibits to the (present) University Circle location and closed this building. Completion to that section of I-90 made the building accessible again, and it was made into the aquarium.

The entire endeavor was accomplished by the volunteers of the Cleveland Aquarium Society, offering thousands of hours of their time to create this modest-sized exhibition space.

They featured "sharks, swordfish, sawfish, eels, squid, octopus, and coral."

And at least one alligator (see right.)

For thirty years it was a very popular place to go, but prices were kept intentionally low and it never created much profit. In 1985 the building closed due to structural problems, a year later its exhibits were transferred to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.

UPDATE: The not-for-profit Cleveland Aquarium Society still exists today. However, they are not associated with the Greater Cleveland Aquarium opening in the Powerhouse in Flats on January 21, 2012 which is a for-profit venture developed by New Zealand-based Marinescape.

Encyclopedia of Cleveland History
Cleveland Aquarium website

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Technique for Tomorrow

Seriously, though - how do you make a car?

So glad you asked.

Technique for Tomorrow
Ford Motor Company 1954

Brook Park, Ohio. This was once a farm, and now it is a factory building the world's automobiles.
"Following World War II, Ford built several production plants in the Cleveland area, making it a significant base for the company's operations. Ford's Brook Park complex, established between 1951-55, included a casting plant to make engine blocks, Engine Plant #1, and Engine Plant #2.

Ford also built the Walton Hills Stamping Plant in 1954 which fabricated steel bumpers, hoods, roofs, and quarter panels for the Ford assembly plants."
- Encyclopedia of Cleveland History called the casting plant a "miserable place to work."

"In the summer months it was absolutely brutal," said David Day, who worked at the plant during the 1970s and 80s. "Some wise guy got to wearing a thermometer around his neck and would point gleefully as the temps rose above 110, 115 and higher."

DID YOU KNOW ..? From 1942-1946, Jesse Owens director of minority employment at Ford Motor Company in Detroit? Yes, he did.

Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Moondog Show

It's Friday night in Cleveland, and all through the 1980s that meant that at precisely 5 PM Kid Leo was going to play Ian Hunter's Cleveland Rocks on WMMS.

You know it? Of course you do. You know the opening bit featuring Alan Freed saying "Hello everybody, how are y'all tonight, this is Alan Freed here the King of the Moondoggers,and it's time again for another of your favorite rock and roll sessions as you enjoy the Moondog Show --" cue guitars?

Ever wanted to hear where that clip comes from?

Why it was recorded on April 6, 1954 on WJW. Play it loud, it's the weekend. And grab an Erin Brew.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Brooklyn Goes To Cleveland

Statistics say that half the population of the United States live 500 miles from Cleveland.

And the other half wouldn't be seen within a thousand miles of it.

Is this thing on?

Fivel Feldman (March 29, 1913 – July 8, 1985) wrote and directed several comedy shorts for Universal-International, playing a character only known as Brooklyn, writing his sweetheart Myrtle back home about his adventures. He visited Detroit, San Francisco, Paris, Rome, Philadelphia, Chicago ... and even Cleveland.

These shorts from the mid-50s were credited to "Arthur Cohen" as the writer and director, a name he used early in his career, though by this time he had adopted the stage name Phil Foster, after Foster Avenue in Brooklyn.

People my age best know Phil Foster as Frank De Fazio in Laverne and Shirley.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


"We are 'dump us at the cock' ... I mean, Compass at the Dock."
Severn Darden

Okay you hipsters, would you go and see this show? Is this flyer intended for people who are already familiar with "The Compass" and what they do, or would it draw someone in who is looking for a new thrill? Or would you be there simply for the conga stylings of Ella & Roxie?

What about the "compass" graphic, as if to say, we are called The Compass and this is a small picture of a compass. Because we are a nautical troupe of performers ... with our compass ... down at The Dock.

All smartassery aside, I love this. Because I have made flyers in my time, lots of them. And I appreciate the fact that this is either made of individual letter stickers, or from a sheet of rub-off transfer letters. No corrections, sorry, you forget a letter you have to peel off the ones in its way or scrape of the transfer, which really sucks, let me tell you.

I respect the BOLDNESS of the performing arts troupe (whatever it is they do; Much Ado About Anything? Is that Shakespeare?) following by the "yeah, whatever" vibe communicated by the folk singer legend and the names of the musicians all in lower case.

Guerrilla Theater Company opening night, 1992

But then, what's so special about technology? This is a complete mess, designed on an Apple Macintosh in the early 1990s. Difficult to read, too many fonts, the dotted frame is constricting ... ecch. Anyway, my point is, nobody's perfect. Give me the simple, handmade flyer any day.

The Compass (Janet Coleman)
Studio 207