Friday, August 28, 2009

FACE IT, "THE REAL WORLD" IS NEVER COMING TO CLEVELAND

Posted By on Fri, Aug 28, 2009 at 2:33 PM

We're not entirely sure about this — something about a Cleveland-based reality show and hip young loft-dwellers running around town looking for stuff — but if it even puts a dent in the brain drain, we're down. (Does that still mean "in favor"?)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

BIKE NERD RAP THROW-DOWN

Posted By on Thu, Aug 27, 2009 at 9:00 AM

No matter what kind of bike you ride, you can’t help but laugh at Robin Moore’s rap video “Performance,” featuring the beats and rhymes of MC SpandX. He professionally skewers both the spandex-clad racers and hipsters riding fixies, a rivalry that thrives in every city that has a cycling culture.

SpandX rhymes: “Is that a steel frame from 1988? You might as well use it as an anchor weight.” It hits hard for anyone who loves the old school, which — if you read “The Discipline of Steel” — includes at least one Scene staffer. — Michael Gill

RUBBERED OUT

Posted By on Thu, Aug 27, 2009 at 8:00 AM

Akron’s World of Rubber Museum will close permanently at 4:30 p.m. today. After 61 years, the mini-museum will shut its doors a final time with no additional fanfare, echoing the general reception it’s met in recent years.

The World of Rubber resides on the fourth floor of Goodyear Hall. And, with all due respect to the Rubber City institution, it’s not much of a museum. A half-dozen small rooms house low-tech displays and artifacts commemorating the history of rubber and the company, from natural Indian rubber trees to pictures of Goodyear tires used on the moon rover in 1971. A filmstrip display tells the story of an Earthmover construction tire that stands seven feet tall and weighs a three quarters of a ton. With muffled audio and a scratchy picture, the AV presentation looks like it wouldn’t have lasted another year.

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Also present is memorabilia belonging to Charles Goodyear, the Connecticut inventor who died broke years before the world discovered a mass use for vulcanized rubber. Though he wasn’t connected to the company, it borrowed his name in 1898, 38 years after his death, and a three-quarter-scale statue of him greets visitors in the doorway. Beyond, Indianapolis 500 race cars are crowded into a room with other Goodyear-related products — from an artificial heart to a section of an airplane. None of the attractions are nearly new.

The museum was a better draw in an era when roadside attractions were a hot ticket. In recent years, it could go days without visitors. Since news of the closing broke last week, traffic has taken a sharp upturn. Between100 and 200 visitors daily have toured the facility — numbers unheard of recently, even on the rare days when a tour bus stops by.

Continue reading »

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

NOT WITH A BANG

Posted By on Wed, Aug 26, 2009 at 3:37 PM

The Bang and the Clatter Theater is not packing it in, as Scene theatre critic Christine Howey heard from co-director Sean McConaha earlier this month, but the company is proceeding on what he describes as “a show by show” basis.

McConaha had called Howey to tell her a production of John Kolvenback’s On An Average Day, scheduled to open August 7 at the Akron venue, was canceled, and that the theater was going to suspend operations. “The business issues are a tax credit we didn’t get, the foundations are dried up, and audiences are smaller,” McConaha said.

The tax credit he’s referring to, for adaptation of a historic building for their new Sometimes in the Silence theater on Euclid at East 4th Street, would have amounted to $130,000 to $140,000, McConaha said.

“When we opened last April, we expected to get that money. It wasn’t if but when,” he explained.
Bang and Clatter’s pace of eight Ohio premiere productions per year had earned critical acclaim and generated buzz enough to get their Cleveland space rent free from developer MRN LTD. The theater company had to pay construction costs, and the project’s $700,000 budget was bolstered by a $250,000 loan from the City of Cleveland. But Bang and Clatter was not incorporated in Cuyahoga County in time to qualify for an operating grant from Cuyahoga Arts and Culture.

Without the money they expected from the tax credit, they’re left living show-to-show: “We’re just going to try to just basically pay for the next show with money from this show,” McConaha said.

That next play, Adam Rapp’s Bingo with the Indians (which happens to be about a cash-strapped theater company) is scheduled to open Thursday at Sometimes in the Silence Theatre (224 Euclid Ave., 330.606.5317). — Michael Gill

NOT POOR IN SPIRIT

Posted By on Wed, Aug 26, 2009 at 2:56 PM

Around 100 people of mixed ages and races and with mixed purposes gathered last Friday for the 5th annual Poor Peoples’ March.

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  • Photos by Anastasia Pantsios
Organizers Prisscilla Cooper of the Family Connection Center and Valerie Robinson of Stop Targeting Ohio’s Poor, the two main sponsors, kicked it off by talking about working to change policy to help the poor. Established activists like Larry Bressler of Advocates for Budget Legislation Equality, George Hrbek of the Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry and Greg Coleridge of the American Friends’ Service Committee, economist George Zeller and auto worker Martha Grevatt laid out the facts and figures relating to unemployment and poverty.

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As the march wended its way around Public Square and made stops at the County Office Building, the Celebrezze Office Building and City Hall, before ending up in Willard Park by the Free Stamp, participants brandished photos of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and hand-lettered signs that asked “Why is Cleveland the poverty capital?” and suggested we “End poverty and war,” while chanting things like “One-two-three-four, money for jobs not for war” and “Stop the war against the poor.”

Such informal events draw those with their own agendas. A lone man tried to get a chant of “Stop police brutality” going and someone (maybe the same guy) yelled, “Kill killer cops.” Given that Cleveland police officers were escorting the group and holding up traffic for the walkers, it seemed ungracious at the very least, and at the next stop, MC Silver B. Richards asked for a hand for the officers.

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And there were youthful rabble-rousers: Dvin Branch of the Jericho Project suggested the violence should be answered with violence, causing eyeball-rolling among some of the more seasoned activists. And red-haired Baldwin-Wallace student Caleb Maupin, sporting a T-shirt that said “Read Lenin and Trostsky,” gave a speech as fiery as his hair, shouting, “Power to the workers! Power to the people! Fight on! Fight on!” He should have been born 40 years earlier. — Anastasia Pantsios

ARCHDIOCESE AND PARISH-CLOSING OPPONENTS SHOULD THINK BIGGER

Posted By on Wed, Aug 26, 2009 at 10:06 AM

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When my colleague Michael Gill wrote about the grand, historic churches that have been or will be abandoned in the Archdiocese restructuring, he acknowledged the thorniness of a so-called "lapsed" Catholic weighing in on church affairs. But he went on to explain why it's his business — indeed, everyone's business — given the very public roles parishes have always played in their communities.

For some of the same reasons that you can pick up bargain real estate in the city, the same reason the factories stand empty, soon there will be a whole bunch of closed churches. The free-market system that pits city against city has pulled us apart as a society. Our failure to control our development and our eagerness to discard rather than maintain and repair has at least enabled, if not encouraged, us to move farther away from each other, building more buildings as we go. And now the diocese's leadership is following its flock, following the market into exurbia.

Like many businesses, the church is gradually pulling out of cities to follow its customers, exacerbating a trend that affects us all. Of course, this is neither new nor peculiar to Cleveland. Nor is the argument that some here, calling themselves Endangered Catholics, are making. From the Plain Dealer:

[Bishop] Lennon has said that most of the diocese's 750,000 Catholics live in the suburbs and that's where priests, who are in short supply, are needed. There are not enough parishioners, he argued, to support massive, century-old city churches like St. Procop.

Endangered Catholics disagree. Group member Bob Kloos insisted that a number of urban churches on the chopping block are viable institutions, including St. Peter and St. Emeric in Cleveland and St. James in Lakewood.

Kloos said the diocese should be seen as a family, each church a child of that family. And when hard times hit, he said, "you don't disown a couple of the kids. You say to the rest of the family, 'What can we do to keep everybody fed?'

So the argument is both emotional (invoking family and the poor) and practical (these parishes were not a drain on the Archdiocese's resources). But why stop there? There is an emotional and practical case to be made that Archdiocese — again, because it's not a business — is uniquely positioned to stand against the tide of sprawl and its overwhelmingly negative and largely ignored affects on American society.

What if Bishop Lennon were to call on Catholics to return to Cleveland or the inner-ring ’burbs? He could couch it in spiritual terms: one need not be Christian to know that Christ preached, above all else, the importance of looking out for the poor. Simply buying a house and paying taxes in a city that's been battered by population loss is, arguably, a charitable act. And if Catholics were less far flung, their priests would not be stretch so thin.

The bishop could even offer an incentive akin to the tax abatements that cities often use to lure new residents: discounted or perhaps free Catholic school education for those who make such a move. This could be funded by a surcharge on tuition for those who'd prefer to stay in the exurbs. More charity, and what good Christian would argue against that?

Knowing where they stand with Lennon, Endangered Catholics are taking their appeal straight to lay leaders at other parishes. The wisdom of choosing the defiant route seemed confirmed by the Archdiocese's spokesman's comment to the PD: "We are familiar with the letter, but stand by the previous statements concerning those parishes which are to be closed."

In other words, Lennon is done talking about it. So Endangered Catholics would seem to have nothing to lose by raising the stakes and calling on the bishop to look beyond the symptoms and consider the disease itself (and surely there are many Scripture references that would help make the point). No leader, elected or otherwise, should not to be content to preside over decline. — Frank Lewis

Friday, August 21, 2009

MORE THAN A MOVIE

Posted By on Fri, Aug 21, 2009 at 11:24 AM

LeBron James’ Nike World Tour rolled into Akron last night, shutting down South Main Street for an exclusive showing of More Than a Game, a new documentary about the Cavaliers’ star forward’s rise to fame with Akron’s top-ranked St. Vincent-St. Mary High School basketball team.

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  • Jeff Niesel
James attended the screening along with New Orleans’ Hornets point guard Chris Paul and four of the “fab five” players from the school’s national championship team. Coach Dru Joyce and director Kris Belman were also present. While a thunderstorm made the red carpets outside the Akron Civic Theatre soggy and forced the St. Vincent-St. Mary High School marching band to take cover indoors, it didn’t deter James and crew from walking through the theater’s front entrance, and they stopped to take a few questions and make a couple of comments along the way.

“I hope the film creates an awareness to kids,” James said to a group of reporters. “They are our future, of course.”

Belman spoke about how proud he was to return to Akron with a feature-length film. “It means everything in the world to me to bring the film to Akron,” he said, adding that he still had the stub from his plane ticket he bought eight years ago when he flew to Los Angeles to pursue his dream of becoming a filmmaker.

The movie documents how James and a group of inner-city kids who used to practice on a linoleum floor gym at a Salvation Army managed to put Akron on the basketball map. Belman, who spent eight years making the film, delved into the backgrounds of each of the players in the “fab five” and compiled an extensive collection of never-before-seen footage that includes home movies and locker-room meetings. Slated to hit theaters on October 2, the movie will show at subsequent Nike tour stops in China and Europe before returning to the states to visit New York and Los Angeles.

After the screening, James, Joyce, Kelman and four of the “fab five” answered questions from the audience. Perhaps the toughest question came from a 17-year-old kid who asked LeBron if he was wearing his V-neck striped shirt because he “lost a bet.” And for a minute, the King was speechless. “I’ll get you back later,” he said with a laugh. — Jeff Niesel

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