Friday, December 2, 2016

Why We Decorate for the Holidays and Fight the Dark

Posted By on Fri, Dec 2, 2016 at 3:10 PM

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My family owns way too many goddamn Christmas ornaments and every year my mother buys more. She buys each of her three children a new ornament each year that is supposed to represent our accomplishments for that year. She goes to Hallmark, walks up and down every aisle, and peers at the delicate dangling sculptures. Let’s see — Dana’s breaking her lease, so — Santa Claus playing a saxophone? A snowman swimming in a mug of hot chocolate, improbably not melting while doing so? The SS Enterprise with a wreath on it?

When I was 12 years old my mother gave me an ornament of two mice in red pajamas and striped hats, sitting by a fire, stringing comically large popcorn onto a comically large needle and thread. She got me this ornament because I had a best friend. As we aged the tradition continued but what does a 22-year-old accomplish in a year that can be expressed in ornament form? Hallmark doesn’t make a “you left your purse at the bar and went to a house party but that one hot guy from the bar was at the house party too and he brought you your purse and then you made out with him” ornament.

My father thinks we have too many ornaments too. He confessed to me, “Every year I break some. I tell your mom that they were broken when I unpacked them, but really I take them into the kitchen when no one’s looking and snap the leg off of a reindeer.”

Christmas decorations are expensive, impermanent crap. We spend hours first putting up these decorations and then, later, sadder, putting them away. They are a waste of money and time and a burden on all our closets. And yet every year I decorate my apartment for Christmas. I carry on the tradition. It’s 9PM on a Sunday night in early December and I’m in paint-stained shorts and a torn t-shirt and I open my own, personal, box of Christmas decorations. Half of them are broken because last year I did not carefully wrap each ornament in tissue paper. I threw them all together, loose, in a cardboard box and then shoved that box roughly onto a closet shelf. The bottom of the box is covered in glittery shrapnel. I put out the few intact figurines — some lights, a few electric candles in the window, a nutcracker. I look around –– this isn’t Christmas. I look at these decorations and I don’t feel anything. I want to feel the magic of the season. I want to be transported back to my childhood. I want to remember a time when I believed in magic.

I am desperate in that moment to leave my house and go to CVS and take one of their tiny carts up and down every Christmas aisle and fill that cart with plastic penguins holding candy canes, shredded green plastic wreaths, electric elves, shiny balls, glittery snowmen. I want to purchase lawn decorations, animatronic deer slowly lowering their heads as if to feast on a brown, dying lawn, two penguins bobsledding, an inflatable Holy Family, a 6-foot-tall Christmas tree with a Santa Claus climbing it because he’s being chased by a dog who’s removing his pants with his teeth. I want Christmas to throw up both inside and outside of my apartment. My husband asks that I not run out to CVS just then, at 9PM on a Sunday night, that I wait, show some restraint, not waste hundreds of dollars on impermanent Christmas crap.

These decorations are all sparkly crap, but they make me feel safe. The indirect light from hundreds of Christmas lights, tiny 4 watt bulbs all different colors so when you turn them on the entire room becomes a glowing pink amber. It’s what I imagine the inside of a womb looks like.

We used to celebrate the holidays with nothing but a few candles and a nicely roasted turkey, but now we require even more decorations, more items, more stuff, more tiny lights, more candles scented like a pie that we no longer know how to make. What’s the line between consumerism and the need to celebrate light even as it leaves us? It’s gotten easier to create temporary light around our homes so we decorate without even thinking why. Why does my mother buy more ornaments each year? Why am I compelled to travel to the CVS on a Sunday evening in my worst clothes? Why are these temporary, sparkly objects a balm? What are they soothing? Because we have forgotten that we are not decorating for a biblical holiday, or even a seasonal good time. We are celebrating the solstice. We are marking the moment when we have the least amount of light in our lives.

These decorations fulfill a basic need. They allow us to brighten our homes as the world outside grows colder. Strip away the lights and the garlands and all you know is that the trees are bare, the sun is fading, the ground grows colder every day, the darkest day of the year is coming, is almost here. Soon it will be January and we will be cold all of the time and the wind will whip at us and we will leave for work in the darkness and return home in the darkness. We will pay for the warmth and light of summer with ice and snow and shivering sleet.

But we save the horror of winter for later, after the holidays. Now is the time of year when we deny death. The world is sliding into a dark sleep and we choose to celebrate. We celebrate a miracle of light, a birth, the love we have in our lives, the small miracle of people gathering together no matter the driving conditions. We momentarily wrap our lives in colorful paper, put bows on bare branches, tie strands of lights around trees. And then we step back and see that the lights cling to the bare branches as though they have been present the whole time, hiding underneath the green leaves of summer, waiting for this miracle of death so they can finally be revealed. We act as though losing summer and light and warmth is a gift itself – it allows us to see the empty spaces in our lives, in our living rooms, so we can then fill them with temporary objects that glow and gleam. During this tiny sliver of the year the physical edges of the world are softened, sharp corners rounded off by tinsel and holly, cold spaces filled with twinkly lights and the smells of pine, vanilla and cinnamon.

The world is growing dark, quickly emptying of light and warmth. And as the light ekes away, we take time to place items that glitter and twinkle in and around our homes. Cold is coming, so we make warmth.
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Here's the Most Instagrammed Spot in Cleveland

Posted By on Fri, Dec 2, 2016 at 2:17 PM

Ever wonder where the most Instagram shots happen in Cleveland? Given the preponderance of friends posting snaps from the three Cleveland signs dotted around the city, that's not a bad guess. What about Public Square? That's all new and public and shiny. Both would be wrong. According to geo-data, it's actually Quicken Loans Arena. (Given the Cavs and concerts, it's not super surprising.)

That tidbit comes from USA Today, which tracked the most geo-tagged places in Ohio (and every other state).

Cedar Point ranked second, followed by OSU, Progressive Field and Kings Island.

As for the whole planet, Disney Theme Parks, New York City, the Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, Universal Studios and Las Vegas came out on top.


That sunrise this morning was #onpoint. 👌

A photo posted by Cedar Point Amusement Park (@cedarpoint) on


when your boss says you can take off early on Friday 🎉🚿

A photo posted by indians (@indians) on


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Opening Soon: Irie Jamaican Kitchen on East 185th Street

Posted By on Fri, Dec 2, 2016 at 1:19 PM

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For the past three years, Omar McKay accomplished the impossible: he lured diners into the old food court at Richmond Town Square (formerly Richmond Mall), home to such culinary trendsetters as Subway, Auntie Anne's Pretzels and Charley's Subs. He did so by preparing and selling some of the best Caribbean food around. His cheerfully named Irie Patties food stand dispensed heaping portions of satisfying Jamaican street foods like flaky spiced-beef patties, fiery jerk chicken and meaty braised oxtails.

The Jamaican native is trading in his food court setting for one with a little more ambiance. Next Friday, he will open his first brick-and-mortar shop. Irie Jamaican Kitchen (621 E. 185th St., 216-860-4805) sits on the border of Cleveland and Euclid, in a space most recently home to T.B. Hot Dogs.

“I think there’s a need for it,” he says. “It will be traditional but I’m also trying to create new connections. Sometimes people are a little skeptical about Jamaican food; they don’t want to try it. I want to try and make mine more attractive to what’s going on around here.”

McKay says that he first learned to cook from his mother, and then built upon that base by attending and graduating from Tri-C Culinary. The largely take-out shop will feature counter service with a handful of seats for dine-in customers. A larger kitchen will allow the chef to expand upon his core menu of traditional Island dishes. So, in addition to classics like curry goat, braised oxtails, chicken curry and fried plantains, Irie will offer more vegetarian items, salads and wraps.

“I’m going to try and stand out from the rest of them; make mine a little more unique,” he adds.

While technically not a new restaurant, Irie helps bolster a strong and growing collection of Jamaican eateries that includes Ocho Rios, Bratenahl Kitchen, International Restaurant, Taste of Jamaica, and Country Style Jamaican Restaurant.
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Dan Gilbert, Philosopher King, Pens Embarrassing Inspirational Column

Posted By on Fri, Dec 2, 2016 at 1:13 PM

WIKIPEDIA
  • Wikipedia
Billionaire Dan Gilbert is spouting banal pop-philosophical drivel on a brand-new Arianna Huffington platform known as Thrive Global.

The man who's currently asking cash-strapped Cuyahoga County for ~$70 million to fund upgrades at the Quicken Loans Arena wants us all to know that "entropy is the world's natural state" and that with energy and passion, we can all countervail against the world's abiding chaos.

Gilbert, who Deadspin once coined the "Whore of Quicken," has brought his financial wherewithal to bear on a site with content verticals like "Wisdom," "Wonder" and "Unplug & Recharge."

It's a site, according to Huffington herself, that was "born in response to the need to take control of our lives, offering new strategies and tools, based on the latest science, to address the unintended consequences of [technology's] profound and invasive changes."

And what better strategist and carpenter than Dan Gilbert himself to apprise us of the latest science?

"The fact that you have not paid any attention to something in a long time, or ever, invariably means that it did not have your passion, urgency, deep attention and motivation," preaches a solemn Gilbert, a man who last week spent more than a full quarter of professional basketball bothering Fox Sports announcers Fred McLeod and Austin Carr on air by naming names of former U.S. Presidents and inviting them to guess if they were Presidents or NBA second-round picks.

"Because you are reading this blog, I’m fairly certain that just your involvement alone will improve the ‘thing.’" What?

But give us more, Zen Master Gilb: "One of the biggest deceptions in the world is self-inflicted by so-called ‘conservative’ people who, through their myopic lens, are only comfortable when everything remains the same, consistent and reliable. The vast majority of our planet lives in this fantasy state where they convince themselves that they must delay any decision until there is 100% certainty.

"Those with the worst strains of this disease are known as ‘bureaucrats.’ ‘Status quo’ is their religion. They worship the ‘God of Sameness.’ But what they fail to understand is that everything in the universe is subjected to the laws of entropy. Without energy, determination or a counter to these powerful forces, the ‘status quo’ is meaningless. When everything is connected to everything else, you can’t leave one thing alone and expect it to remain the same."

Lord knows what on earth he's advocating here. It's possible his nonsense is directed at the bureaucrats of Cuyahoga County, who, it's worth noting, are much less beholden to the God of Sameness than they are to their staggering debt. That debt is thanks in no small part to people like Gilbert, who like to use sermons about determination to bilk a fearful, prostrate public.

Billionaires are also among the least qualified people to talk about risk, and among the ugliest to regard with contempt the conditions or behaviors of world's "vast majority."  But by all means, read Dan Gilbert's column and recognize the inherent worthiness of your cause. If nothing else, feel free to shake things up in defiance of the world's entropy and blow your life savings at the casino.

#ALLIN.
All heart, that Dan Gilbert.
  • All heart, that Dan Gilbert.

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Documentary Film About EarthQuaker Devices to Screen at Nightlight

Posted By on Fri, Dec 2, 2016 at 12:54 PM

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Known for the effects pedals that its employees make one-at-a-time by hand, the Akron-based effects pedal company EarthQuaker Devices is the subject of the new documentary film, EarthQuaker Devices: A Mini Movie.

Shot entirely on location in Akron, the movie chronicles the “meteoric” rise of the popular guitar effects pedal manufacturer and traces the company’s roots from a one-man basement operation to an international success.

Acts such as Queens of the Stone Age, Modest Mouse and the Black Keys use the company’s pedals.

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7 Concerts to Catch This Weekend

Posted By on Fri, Dec 2, 2016 at 12:24 PM

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FRIDAY, DEC. 2

Tropidelic

Tropidelic started out in Kent around 2008. Various lineup changes hit the band as they relocated to Cleveland in 2011. Influence-wise, founder and singer Matthew Roads has always injected some 311 and Slightly Stoopid-oriented sounds into what he and his bandmates create. We all love a party here in Cleveland, and Tropidelic's brand of reggae-infused jams turns any night at a bar on our mean streets into an equatorial beach bash. You like dancing? You've got it. (Eric Sandy) 8 p.m., $20 ADV, $25 DOS. House of Blues.

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Rubblebucket Brings Dance Party to Grog Shop, Right When We Needed it Most

Posted By on Fri, Dec 2, 2016 at 11:37 AM

Rubblebucket
  • Rubblebucket
Kalmia Traver began last night's show with a simple request: "I want to see your hearts!" The audience was all in, tossing hands in the air and bending index fingers and thumbs into the shape of a heart (although some of us had to, like, tuck our Sibling Revelry IPAs into the crook of our arm awkwardly when doing so).  And the first song of the night, "Pain From Love," dovetailed perfectly with the mania that this country is feeling right now. It was time to dance.

Rubblebucket is on the cusp of dropping a new album, and so last night's show was peppered with new songs. All of them came off really well, and the audience danced wildly through the whole show. (We wrote two years ago about Rubblebucket bringing new material to Cleveland.) Interspersed among the new stuff, like "IF U C My Enemies" and "Donna," were the latter-day Rubblebucket classics: "Carousel Ride," "On the Ground," "Came Out of a Lady," etc. (I'm still chasing "Down in the Yards." And I did hear quite a few people call out for "Triangular Daisies." The old school was vocal.)

One of my favorite parts of the night came during an unexpected cover of Fugazi's "Waiting Room." Funked up and dynamic (in a different way than the original), this tune just felt like such a good call at the midpoint of the show. So much fun.

For the encore, the band played "Silly Fathers" and "Save Charlie," the latter accompanied by a sea of balloons (including a balloon snake) that ebbed and bobbed across a giddy late-night crowd.

Mal Devisa
  • Mal Devisa
Anot her quick note: This was a strong bill. Punch Drunk Tagalongs opened the show, bringing the right sort of energy to a Rubblebucket show, and Mal Devisa held down the middle slot of the night. I was really blown away by her voice and bass phrasings. Like Brittany Howard on morphine (or in Morphine, for that matter).

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