Monday, November 30, 2009


Posted By on Mon, Nov 30, 2009 at 1:00 PM

The BBC reports on the trial of former Ohioan John Demjanjuk:

Over 60 years after the end of World War II, this may be Germany's last big war crimes trial.

But the BBC's Oana Lungescu in Munich says that, as the first to focus on a low-ranking foreigner rather than a senior Nazi commander, it breaks new legal ground.

Defence lawyer Ulrich Busch said it should never have gone to trial.

"How can you say that those who gave the orders were innocent... and the one who received the orders is guilty?" Mr Busch told the court.

"There is a moral and legal double standard being applied today."

Mr Busch has said even if it could be proved his client — who was captured by the Nazis while fighting in the Soviet army — was in Sobibor [a death camp in Poland], he would have been there under duress.

Demjanjuk, you may recall, has been tried before, in Israel. In its new issue, Esquire reviews the evidence against him and finds it as suspect as the motivations for trying him again, in Germany:

"The whole world is going to be looking," [prosecutor Hans-Joachim] Lutz says, and this undoubtedly is true, because if there is a global cultural evergreen, it is Nazi Germany, where pornographic violence and unbounded hate were not only official state policy but dressed in shiny leather. Who can turn away?

But guilt and innocence, not to mention truth and justice, are beside the point in this case. The Germans did not bring Demjanjuk here to determine his guilt, but to assuage their own. Regardless of the verdict, the old man's fate will be the same: Demjanjuk they brought here to die.

Read the whole thing.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Posted By on Wed, Nov 25, 2009 at 11:53 AM

We're beginning to see a pattern. Last week, Plain Dealer columnist Connie Schultz chided readers who'd complained about the paper's relentless coverage of the Imperial Avenue serial killer, suggesting they were too sheltered, rich and white to have a point. This week she took a gratuitous swipe at John Tidyman's new book, Gimme Rewrite Sweetheart: Tales From the Last Glory Days of Cleveland Newspapers—Told By The Men and Women Who Reported the News.

It started with this Facebook status post: "Why do I think Cleveland's women journalists will not have a starring role. The title, maybe?"

Some of Schultz's Facebook friends weighed in to set the record straight. "I really think you are being unfair, Connie. You are literally judging a book by its cover, even though its cover — or title — is faithful to the lexicon of the old days in this biz."

Another: "C'mon now, Connie. . .let's not be too sensitive here... the Tidyman name is synonymous with Cleveland journalism, particularly the Cleveland Press in the 60s and 70s."

Another: "There is an entire section devoted to women journalists, and many are quoted in all other sections. It is truely a fun read."

And another: "The title is a take off on the famous poster from More! magazine in the 1970s, "Hello Sweetheart, Get Me Rewrite!" In the 80s, it was updated to female and male versions of a '40s reporter on the phone."

Schultz returned to note that someone had forwarded her FB post to Tidyman ("Feel free, by the way, to let me know who you were") and that he'd emailed her a response. She posted it in full; we're skipping to the most relevant part:

Connie, Connie, Connie … One of the difficulties speaking with you is your age. You're so young you don't remember when women were blatantly discriminated. It was a sad time when women were treated as inferior. …

Between the covers [of the book] are stories from: Barb Weiss, Helen Moise, Harriet Peters, Teddi Gibson-Bianchi, Doris O'Donnell, Dianna McNees, Marge Alge, Rusty Brown, Alana Baranick, and Zina Vishnesvky. More than once I tried to talk Betty Klaric into an interview, but she said no. I regret that because Betty was one of journalism's first environmental writers.

My book is what I call an informal oral history. My last book, "Cleveland Cops: The Real Stories They Tell Each Other," was similar in editorial design. I tell you that because no one has a 'starring role.' With both books, I presented intimate looks at important Cleveland institutions.

Far be it from me to make any reading suggestions to you. Let me suggest, however, what you not read. Don't read my book. Don't buy it, borrow it, or take it out of the library. That way, you won't feel obligated to broadcast on Facebook a half-ass insult about a book you haven't even read.

Oh snap! as the kids say.

Schultz then tried to justify her initial slam: "Thanks to all who offered their perspectives here, especially in pointing out the number of women who are featured in the book. I do think we're entitled to our opinions about book titles. They are, by design, meant to inspire reactions. My reaction was the question I posed."

So, Mr. Tidyman, we hope you've learned your lesson. Next time you plan to write a book whose title invokes antiquated attitudes toward women, you might want to run it by the author of … And His Lovely Wife first. — Frank Lewis

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Posted By on Wed, Nov 25, 2009 at 10:00 AM

Blossom will not host its Holiday Lighting Festival this year. Who pulled the plug on the Christmas lights? Live Nation says Hoosiers called Humbug; an Indiana company says Live Nation cut the cord.

Since 2006, the Cuyahoga Falls concert facility has opened during the holiday months for a scenic two-mile drive past 300 light-outline displays on its wooded grounds, from blinking snowflakes to sliding penguins. The penguins won’t be back, and the organizers are pointing flippers.

The event was promoted and hosted by the Cleveland Live Nation office, which runs the rural Cuyahoga Falls amphitheater. The visuals were run by Indiana-based light-park company Winterland. A marketing representative from the Cleveland Live Nation claims they’re not the ones who cancelled the popular Christmas event. The Live Nation rep said 2008 was the final year in a three-year contract, and Winterland chose not to return.

However, Winterland President R. David Fred told Scene Live Nation had tried to cancel the light show the year before, but did not want to pay the buy-out cancellation fee. According to Fred, the Indiana company wanted to return this year, as a “joint venture,” with Live Nation, which the local office declined. “It is shame,” says Fred. “It was a really great show.”

If you’re in the 330 area code and looking for lights, try Barberton’s annual Lake Anna Christmas walk or Stan Hywet's Manor House, which has expanded its display through the historical house and grounds. — D.X. Ferris

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Posted By on Wed, Nov 25, 2009 at 8:00 AM

Afternoon drive DJ Maxwell and WMMS have parted ways.

Benjamin “Maxwell” Bornstein has hosted the shift since 2004. His contract was set to expire in 2010, but relations turned sour over the past year. The Clear Channel station placed Maxwell on probation in April, after the DJ’s prank announcement that Metallica would play a show in the WMMS parking lot. The Maxwell Show was No. 1 in Arbitron’s spring figures for the ages 18-34 audience.

Since then, the over-sharing talk jock has told listeners that ongoing negotiations for contract renewal have been going poorly. Monday, Maxwell was gone, as was co-host Dan Stansbury, who also served as the station’s music director.

“No agreement could be reached with the [Maxwell] show,” wrote program director Bo Matthews in a Twitter post. “We really tried. No secrets. He has talked about it. The process played out.”

Maxwell, Matthews and Stansbury didn’t return Scene’s calls.

For now, WMMS is filling the slot with the Dumb & Charlie Experiment, a feature-length extension of a regular bit from the station’s morning drive show Rover’s Morning Glory. (After years of feuding with Maxwell, Shane “Rover” French signed with ’MMS in April 2008.) “These guys are trying out,” explained Matthews in another tweet. And in another, he wrote, “I didn’t care for the MWL talk either. They are moving on and going to TRY and do a show.” — D.X. Ferris

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Posted By on Tue, Nov 24, 2009 at 3:48 PM

Ohio native Kevin Huffman is the winner of the Washington Post's America's Next Great Pundit Contest. An exec with Teach for America who now lives in D.C., Huffman hails from Bexley, outside Columbus.

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Posted By on Tue, Nov 24, 2009 at 3:17 PM

The Beachland Ballroom (15711 Waterloo Rd.) will host the first Genghis Con, a different kind of comics convention, Saturday, November 28. The locally organized event will welcome independent and small-press cartoonists, zinesters and artists from Pittsburgh to Los Angeles, in addition to some big names in Cleveland cartooning.

Organizer John G says you should skip the con if you’re looking for X-Men back issues and meet-and-greets with TV actors of the past. But if you’d like to talk to Derf or poster artist Mark Brabant one-on-one, this is the perfect opportunity.

“We are going to try to emphasize the importance of face-to-face communication between creators and readers,” says G, who also runs Cleveland-based Shiner Comics. “If you’ve ever attended a regular comic con, you’ll notice an artificial distance between the two. We are trying to figure out a way to break down that barrier. It is also an art show and a gathering of storytellers.”

Exhibitors include Akron’s Bark and Hiss group, Chicago cartoonist Neil Brideau and California artist Abhay Khosla.

“One of the driving factors of the entire show is to demonstrate the incredible creativity emanating from this part of the country,” says G. “Also, it’s Thanksgiving weekend, so people [can look for] unique gifts for those weirdos they can never find anything for.”

The con runs from noon-6 p.m. A $5 admission fee includes a binding for free samples from participating artists. — D.X. Ferris

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Posted By on Tue, Nov 24, 2009 at 10:58 AM

Cleveland City Council leans on Jesus for guidance, but a watchdog group says that’s not fair to the countless other deities waiting to pitch in some cosmic love at city meetings.

The council’s practice of inviting Christian pastors to open meetings with prayer is unconstitutional, says Washington D.C.-based Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. The group has tracked council since January 2007 and says city leaders repeatedly begin their sessions with Christian prayers that overwhelmingly “invoke the name of Jesus as the Savior,” according to a letter sent to council this week (PDF).

“Cleveland officials are clearly endorsing Christianity through their actions,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United, in a statement. “They appear to be knowingly violating the law, and it’s time for them to stop.”

AU says it may sue the city, which it says has ignored or dismissed two previous requests for council to adopt a policy of nonsectarian prayer. Council could at least invite a more varied group of prayer-givers to perform invocations, the group says.

Besides, it’s not as if Jesus has helped them make wise decisions. — Damian Guevara

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