We'll forgo a lengthy and unnecessary introduction here and simply get to the point: Here is some of our favorite writing from and about Northeast Ohio from the past year. It is by no means a comprehensive list — we've almost certainly overlooked or simply forgotten worthy inclusions — so feel free to leave additional recommendations in the comment section.
"Before It Was Hingetown," Belt Magazine, Greggor Mattson:
A thorough and at times scathing look at the history before the branding experiment turned neighborhood built, as the author says, "on the warm corpse of Cleveland’s queer scene."
"One Year Later, Some Lives Will Never Be the Same After Ellet Plane Crash," Akron Beacon Journal, Paula Schleis:
One year after a corporate jet fell out of the sky and crashed, killing all nine people aboard, the Beacon Journal takes an emotional look at the lives of those on the ground and how they've changed since the tragedy.
"The Tamir Rice Story: How to Make a Police Shooting Disappear," GQ, Sean Flynn:
A behind-the-scenes look at the unusual grand jury process that led to no criminal charges for the cops who killed Tamir Rice.
"Donald Trump fans have been sending me racist, hateful messages for months. Here's a sampling," Cleveland.com, Henry Gomez:
The best political writer in the state with a personal essay on the invectives hurled at him by readers while covering the election.
"Crowning The King: LeBron James is Sports Illustrated's 2016 Sportsperson of the Year," Sports Illustrated, Lee Jenkins:
When Lee Jenkins writes about LeBron James everyone should read it. In this one, take a spin through all the addresses LeBron called home growing up while taking stock of the King's amazing year.
"The Promise Keeper: LeBron realizes his dream with a title for Cleveland," Sports Illustrated, Lee Jenkins:
Again, when Jenkins covers James, you should read. This one, penned right after the Cavs' championship, is marvelous for its candor and details.
"Toxic Neglect: Curing Cleveland's legacy of lead poisoning," Plain Dealer, Rachel Dissell, Brie Zeltner
: This vitally important public service series turned a spotlight on the city's long and troubling problem — in just the past five years, for example, 10,000 Cleveland kids have suffered from lead poisoning. At a time when the nation's eyes were on the tragedy in Flint, "Toxic Neglect" looked at the many ways Cleveland's problems were just as bad, how the city ignored the problem, and how it might one day rectify its failings.
"Who We Are," The Players Tribune, Richard Jefferson:
He might be the best Snapchatter in the league, but our favorite RJ dispatch of 2016 came in this essay in the lead up to the NBA Finals where he describes how the team came together and the little things that made that Cavs squad so special to him and us.
"Fight," New York Times, Dan Barry:
It's set in Youngstown and Michigan but too good not to include here. Two men enter the ring, each in their first professional boxing match. One leaves dead.
"I’m With The Banned," Medium, Laurie Penny:
Almost everything that came out of the RNC ended up sounding the same. One exception was this piece, stunning in its writing and insight. The headline does it more succinct justice than we can — "What my evening with Milo told me about Twitter’s biggest troll, the death of reason, and the crucible of A-list con-men that is the Republican National Convention."
"The Life and Murder of Stella Walsh, Intersex Olympic Champion," Longreads, Rob Tannenbaum:
Stella Walsh won Olympic medals and was track's first legit female superstar. In 1980, she was shot and killed in a parking lot in Cleveland. Her autopsy turned that legacy into international news and tabloid fodder.
"Tower Struggle," Cleveland Magazine, Sheehan Hannan:
A look back and a look forward at the city through the history and recent sale of Cleveland's most iconic building, the Terminal Tower.
"You'll Find It Off Market Street," The Akron Anthology, Eric Wasserman:
Eric Wasserman (and his wife, and his 1996 Chevy Blazer) arrived in Akron for what he thought was a temporary gig. What he came to find was that the people and places around you, like Market Street's passage through Highland Square, will define your life more than you can imagine.
"Love, loss and the Indians," MLB.com, Anthony Castrovince:
A lot of people wrote about the Tribe's run through Game 7 of the World Series. Few captured the emotional and personal aspects of fandom like Castrovince in this personal essay about the game, the team, his wife, and the son they lost. Bring ten boxes of tissues with you for this one.