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Akron struggles to be cool enough for Chrissie Hynde 

Try as we may, Akron will never be cool enough for Chrissie Hynde. - WALTER NOVAK
  • Walter Novak
  • Try as we may, Akron will never be cool enough for Chrissie Hynde.

When Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic first heard The Pretenders' 1984 hit "My City Was Gone," he was none too pleased. Singer Chrissie Hynde was clearly taking shots at his town.

Hynde, an Akron native who lives in London, had every right to bag on the city. The exodus of the rubber industry left the town in ruins, and Plusquellic had recklessly leveled historical centers like South Howard Street — once the heart of Akron's cultural renaissance — to make way for parking decks and high-rises seemingly inspired by communist architecture.

The city of Hynde's youth was gone. But Plusquellic got revenge when Rush Limbaugh made her tune the theme song for his talk show.

Over 20 years later, it appeared Plusquellic had finally forgiven Hynde. When she opened her VegiTerranean restaurant in Akron last year, the mayor proudly announced, "Chrissie, your city is back!"

But the truce was short-lived.

Just a few months ago, Hynde did an interview with Vegetarian Times about her new eatery. When asked why she opened a restaurant in Akron, rather than London, Hynde sniffed, "I have nowhere to go when I'm [in Akron], so it was out of necessity. I'm ashamed to be from a place where there's not one vegetarian restaurant in the whole town. But Akron has no downtown . . . I'm surprised it took 30 years to open a vegetarian restaurant in Akron and that I had to do it, you know? I live 5,000 miles away, but I had to come back and do it."

Punch is feeling you, sister. We get that same empty feeling when we're summering in London and can never find decent iron-ore burger.

But Hynde also felt compelled to dog her own customers, who apparently weren't cool enough to be down with her beliefs on chow. When asked why she was making her restaurant vegetarian rather than vegan, she answered: "Because they don't understand what vegan is in Akron. It's too radical."

After the article ran, however, Hynde decided to make the joint vegan, and it's proven enormously popular. That's what's really radical: Akronites are patronizing a restaurant whose owner holds them in contempt.

Public-School Math
Calling all Mexicans: After you scale that wall, don't head to the sprout fields of California or the kitchens of New York City. There's only one destination for you: Always-sunny Cleveland, where the streets are paved with Menudo records, and there's 17 jobs waiting for every man, woman, and child.

That appears to be the message from civic leaders, whose creative accounting methods have brought thousands of jobs to Cleveland — at least on paper.

Before Gateway was built, city officials claimed the project would create 27,000 jobs — all of which seem to involve busboy work at Alice Cooper's restaurant. Development at University Circle is supposed to create 30,000. And when the Euclid Corridor project is finished, that's supposed to make for another 9,000 jobs.

Meanwhile, Steelyard Commons supposedly created 1,800, and Cleveland Councilman Joe Cimperman claims to have personally produced 5,000.

According to Punch's public-school math skills, that means exactly 1 gazillion new jobs have landed in the city in the past few years. But for some mysterious reason, residents are having a hard time finding them.

An extensive investigation by Punch revealed that they all went to Jimmy Dimora's relatives, who are kicking back Slim Jims and meatloaf in exchange for their appointments.

But there is an upside to all of this. During the time it took to type that last sentence, 14,000 new jobs were created. One's bound to fall your way at some point.

Cheap Homes Available!
The fine folks at Rysar Properties are encouraging people to use their tax refunds to buy new homes.

A recent mailing by the company is disguised as official government correspondence with the notation: "Attention: Taxpayer. Important Tax Refund Information Enclosed." Inside, recipients will find a $20,000 "check" for down-payment assistance that entitles them to a new Rysar home.

On the surface, it would seem a generous offer from the city's largest homebuilder — if its houses didn't have a history of falling apart.

After receiving millions in government subsidies, Rysar built more than 300 homes in Central and sold many to first-time buyers. But in just a few years, the deal proved too good to be true. Residents came home to slanted driveways, sinking steps, and cracked walls ["Things Fall Apart," May 10, 2006]. The company did little to remedy the problems.

When residents complained to Mayor Frank Jackson, who lives only a few blocks away, he refused to return their calls. After all, Rysar president Ken Lurie served as Jackson's economic adviser during his campaign.

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