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Saturday, May 30, 2009


Posted By on Sat, May 30, 2009 at 10:47 AM

Like two drunks ready to back up their boasts about which could better withstand a punch, Nashville and Cleveland are scrambling to stake their futures on the assumption that a shiny new "medical mart" will lure new conventioneers and their expense accounts. (Tradeshow Week has the background on both cities' delusions dreams.) Nashville Scene (no relation) notes that there, like here, skepticism is in short supply.

"But for all of the public conversation about a new convention center over the last couple of years, a skeptical analysis by one of the state's top economists has gone virtually unnoticed," Nashville Scene reports. "Bill Fox at the University of Tennessee, who comments frequently on regional economics and public finance, published (with two UT colleagues) a piece two years ago in that coffee table staple State Tax Notes on the issue of whether new and expanded convention centers are a good idea from economic and finance perspectives."

From Fox's analysis:

[P]ublic funding of a venture intended to benefit private businesses effectively shifts the risk of the project from the private sector to the public sector. Taxpayers will primarily shoulder shortfalls, if they occur, with higher than expected general funding obligations. The track record for recent projects indicates many new or expanded centers perform well below expectations because increases in supply continue to far exceed growth in demand, which suggests higher than anticipated subsidies.

Virtually everything from Fox's analysis applies to Cleveland as well. Read the whole thing here.

Both cities claim to have the medical cred to make their marts the place for wanna-be Houses and Cuddys to schmooze while shopping for machines that go ping. But there's a big difference in their approaches to getting there. As Nashville Scene (and, coincidentally, former Cleveland Scene) editor Pete Kotz notes, "Cleveland is throwing a billion dollars in welfare to a private company to create its mart. Nashville's would be self-financed by Market Center. … We're way too broke to offer the welfare Cleveland is throwing around. But it's far easier and cheaper to get something done here."

Both cities claim to be better positioned to win this race. Both are guessing. And in Cleveland's case, gambling a mountain of taxpayer money on that one drunken punch. — Frank Lewis


Friday, May 29, 2009


Posted By on Fri, May 29, 2009 at 3:33 PM

The club formerly known as Ron’s Crossroads is gone. And this time, it’s not coming back. The building that housed the North Akron club and the former Grooveyard studio was demolished last week, ending the once-proud venue’s years of obscurity.

With a capacity around 300, it was once a significant outpost for metal bands. In recent years it was a black hole where good intentions and half-assed efforts went to die.

Into the late ‘80s, the decades-old bar was the Temple Tavern, and had a reputation for cocaine and violence. On Halloween 1989, the DEA, Akron Police Department and Summit County Sheriff’s Department raided the club and seized the property.

0bd8/1243625485-slaughter.jpgThe 1990s were good years. After 21 years working with Firestone, onetime bartender Ron Trocchio acquired the liquor license in 1991 and recalls purchasing the empty building from U.S. Marshalls in 1993. He envisioned a blues bar, but bands like US Metal proved to be a better draw. Soon, Ron’s Crossroads was a nationally known metal bar. Trocchio partnered with Mitch Karczewski’s Spotlight Talent to bring in national bands like Slaughter (pictured), Overkill and Sevendust. Local bands like Sinomatic, Spawn and a series of Tim “Ripper” Owens outfits packed the room on weekends. By 2003, Trocchio planned to retire. He sold it to a group of partners including Shawn Hackel, local frontman of alt-rock also-rans Cyde.

“I’m not sorry [I sold it],” says Trocchio. “But I wish it wouldn’t have turned out like it did.”

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Posted By on Fri, May 29, 2009 at 1:14 PM


Posted By on Fri, May 29, 2009 at 9:00 AM

f755/1243544860-freddietattoo.jpgInternationally renowned tattoo artist Cecil Porter is at 252 Tattoo's Cleveland studio (11721 Bellaire Rd.) studio for two-week visit. The wielder of needles is known for morbid portrait work, so if you’re looking for a detailed tribute to Gollum, Leatherface, or just a plain old scowling Clint Eastwood, he’s your man. Porter’s also an ace at Japanese art, nature pics, and black-and-gray. Porter will be there through June 11. — D.X. Ferris

Thursday, May 28, 2009


Posted By on Thu, May 28, 2009 at 5:24 PM

Positively Cleveland’s Hastily Made Tourism Video Contest wrapped up this afternoon as the winners were announced at the Positively Cleveland offices. The five judges, including Plain Dealer columnist Mike McIntyre, Cleveland International Film Festival’s Marcie Goodman, Cleveland Film Commission’s Ivan Schwarz, Cleveland Plus Marketing Alliance’s Rick Batyko and Mike Polk, creator of the video that inspired the contest, picked the winners from the five semi-finalists, which were selected based on the number of views and ratings they received after being posted on YouTube with the other entries.

The winning videos were, “Oh Mommy!,” which paired a catchy song with shots of recognizable city spots as a mother and her kids traipsed around town in a fast-motion clip (below). The other winner was "Marissa and Kevin," which included footage from the West Side Market and the Cleveland Heights toy shop Big Fun.

The creators of both videos were present to pick up their prize packages, handed out by Tamera Lash Brown, Positively Cleveland’s VP of Marketing. “This has been such a fun ride,” Brown said, noting that there were a total of 38 submissions, double what Positively Cleveland anticipated. “And just so you know, our entire budget is less than half of the 14 million Polk claims it cost to make his video.” Overall, the contest was a hit as some 20,000 people viewed the videos, which were posted on the Positively Cleveland Web site. The five semi-finalist videos are still posted at — Jeff Niesel


Posted By on Thu, May 28, 2009 at 3:25 PM

Right-wing commentator (and Warren native) Hugh Hewitt has some advice for fellow travellers who think they can or should detail the nomination of Judge Sotomayor for the Supreme Court:


Cryptic references to her temperament by retired clerks eager to be "in the mix" are the worst sort of gossip-dressed-up-as-journalism, and simply lower expectations which she will easily meet and exceed. The judge is obviously a bright and accomplished professional with an enormously appealing personal story which resembles that of Justices Thomas and Alito. This is a great country that allows anyone who works hard to rise, and some to rise spectacularly as has Judge Sotomayor.

Read the rest here. Hewitt is hardcore — last fall he was peddling a book to be called How Sarah Palin Won the Election ... and Saved America. So it's intriguing to hear him sounding like the voice of reason. We'll see how long it lasts. — Frank Lewis

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Posted By on Wed, May 27, 2009 at 5:35 PM

1cd9/1243515623-voegele.jpgThis week’s cover story about Kate Voegele identified her as “the best-selling locally spawned artist” of recent vintage, based on sales of 2008’s Don’t Look Away LP, her full-length debut. It should have identified her as the best-selling solo artist. She’s moved close to 300,000 albums to date.

9458/1243513806-black-keys.jpgThe Black Keys have sold 671,000 records, between five LPs and one EP. The Keys’ recent live DVD has sold another 14,000 copies. Last year’s Danger Mouse-produced Attack and Release continues moving briskly, and is on track to break 174,000 by next week, according to figures Nielsen SoundScan provided Wednesday, May 27.

So the Black Keys are the best-selling locally based band. But Kate is way cuter. And Voegele’s new sophomore LP, A Fine Mess, has sold 38,000 since its release last week. The big numbers landed her at no. 10 on the Billboard album chart. The disc also topped the iTunes pop album chart.

All that reconciling words and figures prompted us to crunch some numbers and try to get a grip on who are the top-selling acts to come out of Cleveland in the last couple decades.

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