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Friday, August 7, 2020

The Party of Helicopters Releases Live Album From Last Year's Reunion

Posted By on Fri, Aug 7, 2020 at 1:16 PM

  • Michael Iafrate
Between 1995 and 2004, the Kent/Akron-based rock group the Party of Helicopters became a presence on the local and national scene, reportedly selling more than 3,000 vinyl copy sales of its 1997 debut Abracadaver.

The band also released two albums, 2000’s Mt. Forever and 2002’s Space and How Sweet It Was, on Troubleman Unlimited before dissolving after the release of Please Believe It via Sony-distributed Velocette Records.

Last year, the band reunited for a special show at Musica in Akron as a part of the EarthQuaker Day celebration hosted by effects pedal manufacturer EarthQuaker Devices, the company run by Party of Helicopters singer Jamie Stillman.

The group just released a live album as well as a video of the performance. Alex Owens recorded the performance, and Stillman mixed it.

You can find the music on Bandcamp.
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Hook and Hoof in Willoughby to Cease Normal Restaurant Operations and Reopen as Cocktail Lounge

Posted By on Fri, Aug 7, 2020 at 11:29 AM

  • Chaz Bloom
Chaz Bloom and Hunter Toth reopened their four-year-old Willoughby restaurant Hook and Hoof (4125 Erie St., 440-571-5312) on June 17. Since then they have experienced about 70- to 80-percent of their pre-Covid numbers. But with fall looming, they know full well that business will not remain at current levels. So they have made the decision to stop regular restaurant operations and pivot to a new (and, hopefully, temporary) business model.

Bloom says that the bulk of Hook and Hoof’s business comes from business and pleasure travelers who seek out the destination restaurant for its food, cocktails, atmosphere and stellar reputation. But most of that business has dried up, replaced in some part by local diners. And today’s diners don’t tend to linger, relax and spend.

“The intimate experience is gone,” explains Bloom. “People are flash-eating; they’re in and out. They want to support you and give you their business, but they want to get the hell out of there. Nobody is staying and drinking.”

Following Saturday night’s service, the restaurant will cease normal operations and transition to a speakeasy-style cocktail lounge that will open on Monday, August 10. The food side of the equation will be whittled down to a handful of appetizers, while the cocktail program will be promoted to main attraction.

“The idea is to create the effect of a cocktail bar with louder music, dimmer lights; to create a cocktail experience as opposed to the restaurant experience,” says Toth. “We didn’t feel that we had to do any other tweaks because when you look at the restaurant as a whole, when it’s dimmed down with candle light, it really already matches that vibe.”

On August 24, phase two of the pivot will be rolled out. That’s when Toth will begin offering family meals for two, four, six or eight diners. The move is designed to allow the chef to streamline the kitchen, control labor and food costs and survive another day.

“We’re not happy about the transition, but we’re excited to do something that’s a little different and put all of our passion and effort into that now,” says Toth.

Around that same date, the kitchen will introduce the third leg of the survival stool: premium foodstuffs.

“The last part of our model pivot is going to be premium groceries,” reports Bloom. “We’ve always had limited space where we couldn’t bring in the whole sides of animals and break them down because we were prepping for service. Now we don’t have to do that so we can focus on bringing in local vendors.”

Customers will be able to order premium provisions like steaks, brined poultry, seafood and burgers for contact-free pickup.

“The whole premise of the shift is to allow us to survive until there’s a change in public sentiment,” adds Bloom. “There’s definitely a clear problem, the question is, how do you address it and how do you survive. There’s a storm outside and we’re hunkering down. This will keep us safe until we can reopen.”

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Visible Voice Will Give You Bookstore to Yourself, Pizza and a Bottle of Wine for $50

Posted By on Fri, Aug 7, 2020 at 9:10 AM

  • Art by @emilygrahamillustration, courtesy of Visible Voice
Visible Voice Books in Tremont will soon offer up its full bookstore to small groups for 90-minute private browsing sessions, complete with pizza and beverages from Crust, the pizza parlor on the building's first floor.

The social distancing required to prevent Covid-19's spread has been wreaking havoc on local small businesses. Some are trying innovative approaches to cope with reduced foot traffic.

“While we haven’t yet opened the store for regular hours, this is our first step toward re-opening,” said Dave Ferrante, Visible Voice's owner, in a statement to Scene. “We wanted to give our loyal customers an opportunity to revisit the store in a safe and special setting. This unique offering is perfect for get-togethers with family or friends, a child or adult’s birthday party, a socially-distanced date night, or just a cool opportunity to find some new reading material.”

The store will make these small-group sessions available Wednesday through Saturday late afternoon and evenings, beginning on Aug. 12. A $50 deposit gets a group of up to eight people 90 minutes alone in the shop, a two-topping large pizza and either a bottle of wine or "assorted beverages." Additional food and beverage offerings from Crust will be available a la carte, and a Visible Voice staffer will be on hand for book purchases.

Surfaces in the store will be cleaned and disinfected between groups. Masks will be required when not actively eating and drinking, in accordance with state health orders.

You can reserve a time slot here. Visible Voice is located at 2258 Professor Ave. in Tremont.

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Dan Gilbert's Fortune Explodes to $34 Billion, Impoverished Region Still Paying for Arena Upgrades

Posted By on Fri, Aug 7, 2020 at 8:30 AM

  • FlickrCC/TechCrunch
Dan Gilbert's personal fortune ballooned to roughly $34 billion Thursday, after his mortgage empire was put on the New York Stock Exchange. Gilbert owns fully 73 percent of the Rocket Cos. under which Quicken Loans is housed, and after his bountiul initial public offering, he is now the 28th-wealthiest person on Planet Earth.

Revelations of Gilbert's expansive wealth — the dollar amount of which is at least four times larger than previous Bloomberg estimates — may come as a shock for Clevelanders, who no doubt recall that the region has been saddled with debt on renovations to the RocketMortgage Fieldhouse until 2034.

Why would Cuyahoga County willingly downgrade its bond rating to appease Gilbert by subsidizing these renovations when it's already overburdened with staggering debt on other ill-conceived mega-projects? Why would elected leaders agree to to fork over millions of dollars every year for new upgrades when the public already pays for all major capital repairs at the arena via the Sin Tax, which was created specifically for that purpose?

Why would leaders agree to such an odious arrangement when half of the city of Cleveland's children live in poverty and when nearly half of the city's families are without home internet access? How could these leaders rationalize additional public subsidies when virtually every public and quasi-public agency is begging for new or enhanced taxes to pay for essential services? Why would they agree to such wildly imbalanced terms? How on earth could they justify funding the discretionary spending of one of the world's richest men, and assuming the project's total debt on his behalf?
It boggles the mind.

Yet Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, City Council President Kevin Kelley and Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish all bent over backwards to celebrate the merits of the deal, praising it in terms embarrassing to revisit. But Jackson, Kelley and Budish went a step further. When the public refused to believe their propaganda, these top elected leaders ensured that the public's voice would not be heard, blocking a referendum effort, stalling it in the courts, and ultimately pressuring the opposition's leaders to withdraw the petitions with a key assist from Congresswoman Marcia Fudge. 

Months later, many of these same leaders were scratching their heads over Cleveland's abysmal performance on national economic rankings.

Now, as both the city and the county brace for economic crises spawned by the Coronavirus pandemic, (including a lawsuit that poses an existential threat to the city's income tax base), Dan Gilbert gets to sit back and watch his personal fortunes soar, thanks in part to unprecedentedly low interest rates. Yahoo Finance reported that Quicken Loans alone netted profits of more than $890 million in 2019.

Surely it's no coincidence that the political campaigns of Jackson, Kelley and Budish are all generously supported by Dan Gilbert and his various Rocket Cos. and Bedrock Detroit associates.

After the Larry Householder scandal, in which FirstEnergy orchestrated a vast racketeering scheme to prop up elected leaders and secure a bailout of its nuclear assets, one should recognize the influence of money in politics locally. The Q Deal was a version of the same criminality, whether or not that influence was technically illegal.

One the world's richest human beings and his paid underlings successfully managed to dupe elected leaders into believing (or at least passionately repeating) a few boilerplate talking points about the economic vitality of downtown and the value of temporary construction jobs. The elected leaders, with campaign contributions either in hand or forthcoming, were pleased as punch to mortgage the future of their constituents.

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CMA's Picasso Exhibit Postponed Indefinitely Due to COVID-19

Posted By on Fri, Aug 7, 2020 at 7:19 AM

  • © RMN-Grand Palais (Musée national Picasso-Paris) / Adrien Didierjean. © Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

The highly anticipated 'Picasso and Paper' exhibit originally scheduled to appear at the Cleveland Museum of Art from May 24 to Aug. 23, and then rescheduled to Sept 22. to Dec. 13, has now been postponed indefinitely due to COVID-19.

"Due to European travel restrictions in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic, the CMA has had to postpone the presentation of this special exhibition indefinitely," the museum said in a statement yesterday. "We are very saddened about this but must focus on the safety for the involved staff and artworks. We are hopeful that we can bring the exhibition to Cleveland in the future."

Titled Picasso and Paper, the exhibition is to be a showcase of the artist’s “prolonged engagement with paper” and is organized by the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Royal Academy of Arts, London, in collaboration with the Musée national Picasso, Paris.

Showcasing more than 300 works spanning the artist’s entire career, the exhibition highlights Picasso’s “deep appreciation of the physical world and his desire to manipulate diverse materials.” The exhibit will feature assembled collages of cut-and-pasted papers, sculptures from pieces of torn and burnt paper, documentary photographs and manipulated photographs on paper, and an array of printmaking techniques on paper supports.

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'Inside Out' Pop-Up Exhibition Transforms Coventry Storefronts

Posted By on Fri, Aug 7, 2020 at 7:04 AM

  • Photo by Glen Infante

‘All About Love’ is the theme for the '60s-inspired, reimagined Coventry art walk project launching Friday August 7th from 5-10 p.m.

‘Inside Out' is a street-wide gallery where local artists will be displaying large works in storefronts along Coventry Road. The social distancing-friendly exhibit, which will feature installs by more than 12 local artists and run through the month of August, is a collaboration between Contrast High, Pop Life Universe and Culture Jock.

"We see the retail landscape shifting in the direction of offering transformational experiences, and we hope this exhibition will inspire more Cleveland neighborhoods to embrace immersive public art," said Joda from Pop Life.

Coventry Village is usually a hot spot for summer events and activities including live music, art festivals, sidewalk sales, movies in the park, and more, but all that summer programming has been canceled due to COVID-19.

This reimagined art walk is an attempt to inject hope and vitality in a usually bustling district, to reconnect the close-knit neighborhood to the Cleveland community at large and to support independent businesses of Coventry Village.

The project hopes “to bring value to storefronts left vacant or hampered by the economic downturn,” according to Mallory Phillips of Dreamhouse Marketing and Executive Director of The Coventry Village Special Improvement District.

“This is a place where artists and art-lovers alike, thrive. We want to inspire, connect, spark conversation, and encourage the people who live, work, shop and play in the area. This is our way of supporting local artists, neighbors, and businesses in a unique, bold, and health-conscious way, given the challenging environment," says Phillips.

“One of the challenges we're facing right now in Coventry is the number of vacant storefronts we have. With an ever-evolving retail landscape (even more so now in the "COVID Era") our district has struggled in the last decade to attract new businesses. The Coventry Village Special Improvement District and local organizations like FutureHeights have taken a renewed interest in the revitalization and growth of this incredible and magical neighborhood. We're investing time, energy, ideas, and resources into attracting new business concepts and supporting the existing businesses in the neighborhood. INSIDE OUT provided a unique opportunity to showcase many vacant storefronts in a really stunning and inspiring way. We really hope to fill out all of these spaces again with vibrant, interesting new businesses, art, and experiences, in the coming months!"

Conforti and Scordos, co-founders of Contrast High, initially conceptualized a "walk by/drive up" exhibition while quarantining here in Cleveland. They did a pop-up installation concentrated on "embracing the moment for what it is" at Xhibition, a boutique in the Van Aken district.

“‘Inside Out’ provokes the question, ‘How do we reframe our perspective?’” Conforti said. “We choose to embrace the moment and be optimistic of the future. If real change happens from the inside out and not the other way around, then we choose art to instigate the healing.”

“I consider art a reflection of politics, because art is identity,” said Alexis René Moten, founder of Culture Jock. “Supporting art is now more critical than ever, because art has an audience willing to listen. People want change, they want healing. Art has a way of making people more compassionate.”

The project is sponsored by the Coventry Village Special Improvement District and is reaching out to the community through crowd funding, the donations from which will go directly to the local artists involved. Most of the works on display will be painted on or displayed in the storefront windows, so there is no commission taken from store owners and the works are not for sale, however the artist can be commissioned to do other projects.

The artists and designers include: Joda Mueller, Aaron Williams, Isaiah Williams, Dakarai, Kisha Nicole Foster, Mary Weems, Da'Shaunae Marisa, Candace Cunard and Bruce Conforti among others.

Many of the artists will be available at the opening on Friday.

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The World's Longest Yard Sale Will Stretch Through Ohio As Planned Despite COVID-19

Posted By on Fri, Aug 7, 2020 at 6:55 AM

The World's Longest Yard Sale — or the 127 Yard Sale, whichever you prefer — is going forward as planned this year despite COVID-19.

The annual event, which stretches along the 127 corridor from Gadsden, Alabama up to Addison, Michigan — and right through Covington and Cincinnati — takes place from Aug. 6 to Aug. 9. More than 2,000 vendors will be set up along roadsides, in RV parks and campgrounds, in antique malls and more to sell anything and everything.

And why will the show go on in light of a pandemic?

Organizers say: "In addition to providing essential outdoor recreation, fun, and enjoyment, this event takes place in mostly rural areas in the states where the route passes through. Many of the vendors who participate earn a significant portion of their yearly income at this event. It also provides a significant positive economic impact to many hotels, motels, RV parks & campgrounds, restaurants, and other retail businesses. This year more than ever these businesses desperately need the revenue generated during the 127 Yard Sale."

The website has maps for participating main stops in Ohio and Kentucky (along with the other states), as well as some other COVID-19 safety info.

For more information on the yard sale, visit

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