Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Posted By on Wed, Aug 12, 2009 at 3:12 PM

A popular YouTube video has placed Cleveland back in the Internet spotlight — leaving us free again to be united in shame.

Armed with a cardboard cutout of a black bear, Fox 8 News in the Morning reporter Todd Meany turns a Woodmere backyard bear sighting into a report that quickly becomes too intense for it’s own good. Meany runs through the backyard carrying the cardboard bear, helping us imagine how the paper bear can climb trees and “escape into the forest."

But we’re safe, the report tells us, and so are our pets. Then — and we wish we were making this up — he dons a giant squirrel mask that looks like it was made for a college film student's Donnie Darko rip-off — and says in his best Norm MacDonald impersonation, “I’m good. I’m, uh, faster than a bear.”

Another shining moment in Cleveland TV news history. — Niklos Salontay

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Posted By on Wed, Aug 12, 2009 at 8:00 AM

Cleveland steered well clear of the "10 meanest cities" list that was part of Homes Not Handcuffs: The Criminalization of Homelessness in U.S. Cities, a new report by The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty and The National Coalition for the Homeless

According to the executive summary, "The report documents cities with the worst record related to criminalizing homelessness, as well as initiatives in some cities that constitute more constructive approaches to street homelessness." Cleveland is cited mostly in the latter category. For example, this appears under the heading Alternative to Food Sharing Restrictions:

While many cities are imposing restrictions on groups that share food with homeless individuals in public, Cleveland has pursued a more productive approach to help homeless persons obtain food. The City of Cleveland contracted with the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless (NEOCH) to bring individuals and groups who serve food to homeless people together to talk about how to improve services. The coordination effort stemmed from a long-standing public debate related to serving food in downtown areas of the city, especially the center of downtown called Public Square.

As part of the project, NEOCH coordinates all the professional outreach teams providing services to homeless people who are living outside. NEOCH began this process by organizing monthly meetings with outreach workers. The goal was to develop one contact number so that individuals could call an outreach worker in lieu of calling law enforcement about any concerns over a homeless person in a public space.

In addition, NEOCH coordinated a disjointed food sharing system with the goal of eventually moving all the food providers indoors, but still supporting the right of groups to share food with individuals who would like to eat outside. For example, NEOCH found that on Sundays on Public Square in the center of downtown over 700 meals are served by six different groups. However, on Monday nights no groups regularly shared food on the Square. The first step was to eliminate duplication and to get every food provider to agree to a uniform set of standards on the preparation and distribution of food. The next step was to relocate the food distribution from the heavily traveled center of downtown to a parking lot 18 blocks east. This was a hardship especially for those living on the near west side of Downtown. In exchange for agreeing to the move, the food sharing groups were given access to bathrooms as well as an indoor location during bad weather.

The final step was making available an overnight indoor location in which any church can bring food or provide warm clothing or spiritual counseling. Cleveland advocates have thus far opened this indoor location only for two nights a week and only in the winter on a trial basis. In 2009, advocates hope to find the funding for a seven day a week overnight drop in center to serve those who choose not to go to shelters.

And under Trends in Addressing Panhandling:

Cleveland’s campaign will place 15 lime green and red parking meters in the city to raise money for the Downtown Cleveland Alliance's Downtown Homeless Fund. Alliance President Joe Marinucci said that the number of meters will eventually grow to 40. This program marks a partnership between the Alliance, the City of Cleveland, the faith-based community and property owners.

After noting the controversial 2005 anti-panhandling law, passed over the objections of activists, the report explains:

From 2006 to 2008, city officials, including law enforcement officers, worked with advocates to relocate homeless people who slept in sensitive locations. In 2000, the city had signed a binding legal agreement as part of a settlement monitored by a federal court to resolve a case challenging sweeps of homeless persons. In the settlement, the City agreed not to arrest or threaten to arrest anyone sleeping on the sidewalk within the City of Cleveland. In response to a fire started by a homeless person at the Convention Center, the City began working with outreach workers and advocates to relocate homeless people from the Convention Center, the airport and a tent city near Cleveland Browns Stadium. These moves were done in a cooperative manner, and many of those resistant to shelter received housing.

In case you were wondering, the "meanest" cities are:

1. Los Angeles, CA
2. St. Petersburg, FL
3. Orlando, FL
4. Atlanta, GA
5. Gainesville, FL
6. Kalamazoo, MI
7. San Francisco, CA
8. Honolulu, HI
9. Bradenton, FL
10. Berkeley, CA

Frank Lewis

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Posted By on Tue, Aug 11, 2009 at 4:22 PM

I'm all for protecting kids — got two of them myself. But if we're now going to require parents to buy yet another type of car seat (Big Baby's lobbyists were behind this, I'm sure), shouldn't we also try to prevent accidents by banning cell phone use while driving? You'd think, but as the New York Times reported recently, such proposals have had little success, despite the mounting evidence:

Extensive research shows the dangers of distracted driving. Studies say that drivers using phones are four times as likely to cause a crash as other drivers, and the likelihood that they will crash is equal to that of someone with a .08 percent blood alcohol level, the point at which drivers are generally considered intoxicated. Research also shows that hands-free devices do not eliminate the risks, and may worsen them by suggesting that the behavior is safe.

A 2003 Harvard study estimated that cellphone distractions caused 2,600 traffic deaths every year, and 330,000 accidents that result in moderate or severe injuries.

… A disconnect between perception and reality worsens the problem. New studies show that drivers overestimate their own ability to safely multitask, even as they worry about the dangers of others doing it.

I was especially struck by this paragraph: "Scientists who study distracted driving say they understand the frustrations of colleagues who publicized the dangers of tobacco. Like cigarettes, they say, gadgets are considered cool but can be deadly. And the big device companies even offer warnings that remind them of labels on cigarette packs."

The not-so-subtle subtext is that legislatures are negligent and insane to be dragging their feet on this matter.

“I’m on the phone from when I leave the Capitol to when I get home, and that’s a two-hour drive,” said Tad Jones, the majority floor leader in the Oklahoma House, who helped block the legislation. “A lot of people who travel are used to using the phone.”

And a lot of people who drink are used to driving home from bars.

Everyone who drives regularly has stories about idiots nearly causing accidents because they're engrossed in a cell phone conversations. Rolling through red lights, creeping into other lanes, slowing to a crawl then abruptly speeding up again — these are all common on the roads now. I once saw a guy in a pickup using two phones at once, holding one in his right hand and cradling the other between his left shoulder and head. He came within inches of driving head-on into my car while making a left turn, and I don't think he even noticed.

But politicians remain wary of riling the masses who can't stop yapping, resulting in very mixed signals. County Prosecutor Bill Mason just came down on the since-fired RTA bus driver who mowed down a pedestrian in March, because she allegedly was talking on her cell phone when the accident occurred. Use of cell phones on the job is against RTA rules, so firing her was appropriate. But how can she be criminally prosecuted when the behavior that allegedly caused the accident is not illegal? We asked Mason's office if he'd support state or local laws banning cell phone use while driving, but he did not respond. — Frank Lewis

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Posted By on Tue, Aug 11, 2009 at 10:22 AM

I wear prescription glasses. Anyone with similar eyesight impairment knows that there is one of three ways to get your eyes some shade if you eschew contacts but still desire to see the world with non-blurry edges.

There are the gigantic "sunglasses" that wrap around your glasses. Horrible. Old men wear these. So might 10-year-olds who want to pretend to be Cyclops from X-Men. These plastic sheaths large enough to replace a car windshield will also prevent you from getting laid.

Then there's the clip-on sunglasses option. Problem here is that you lose the attachment. And if you don't lose it, you don't really want to carry around a little pouch so that you can clip it on if the sun glare hits you.

(This is not Vince.)
  • (This is not Vince.)
Then there's transition lenses. Normal glasses inside, sunglasses outside. Wonderful invention.

Here's the thing. The FBI in Ohio is moving towards asking bank customers to be free of sunglasses, as well as hoodie sweatshirts and hats — the requisite bank robber uniform.

MILFORD, Ohio (AP) - More bank customers in Ohio will be asked not to wear hooded sweat shirts, sunglasses and hats as police join the FBI in urging people to avoid clothing items that fit a robber's profile.

The FBI is encouraging police near Milford to work with financial institutions in posting signs about the clothing advisory, which federal agents credit with reducing robberies.

When I have to take off my transition lens glasses in the future, and when I write down that I need to withdraw $100,000 from an account that isn't mine — since I can't see a damn thing without my glasses — I hope everyone understands. Just sayin'. — Vince Grzegorek

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Monday, August 10, 2009


Posted By on Mon, Aug 10, 2009 at 4:48 PM

Great Lakes Brewing Company holds its annual Burning River Fest on Saturday, 4-11 p.m. at the Historic Coast Guard Station, located at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River on Whiskey Island. Raise a pint to the "watershed moment" that raised a new level of eco-consciousness, the 1969 burning of the Cuyahoga River. This recognition of the 40th "rebirth-day" will feature live music from 10 bands, including Blessid Union of Souls, Alberta Cross, Zach, Kristine Jackson and more. Food from local and organic farms and eateries will be available and Great Lakes Brewing beer. Tickets are available for pre-sale ($15) at the web site or $20 at the gate. readers can enter a drawing to win a pair of tickets by sending an e-mail to Write "BRF giveaway" in the subject line.

Entrants must be 21+ years of age. Winners of other Scene giveaways within the past 30 days are ineligible. Winners will be notified by email and will need to pick up tickets on Friday, August 14, at the Scene office, 1468 W. 9th St., 8th floor, Cleveland.

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Jon Stewart Has Trouble With Sherrod Brown's Judicial Logic

Posted By on Mon, Aug 10, 2009 at 2:11 PM

The Daily Show tackled newly-minted Supreme Court judge Sonia Sotomayor last week, and more specifically, the endlessly entertaining but absolutely useless speeches both Dems and Republicans gave regarding the confirmation.

Two classics: First, a Republican who admits that he knows nothing about judicial affairs and says that Judge Sotomayor's legal intellect is way above his head. And then says he's voting against the confirmation and he knew it from the first minute her name came up.

Second, Ohio's own Sherrod Brown, who begins to wax poetic on qualifications for the bench and diabetes, and if you can't figure out what the two have to do with each other, you're definitely not alone.

Check out the video below.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
White Men Can't Judge - Sotomayor Confirmation
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorSpinal Tap Performance

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Posted By on Wed, Aug 5, 2009 at 1:03 PM

As the economy continues to falter, concert promoters and nightclub owners are getting creative as they vie for a cut of your paycheck. The world’s biggest concert promoter is dealing in volume. And in downtown Cleveland, one club owner is using a performance-based honor system.

This week, Wilbert’s owner Michael Miller has debuted a model he calls “FPAYG,” which is short for “Free! Pay as You Go.” For 21 of the 27 shows on his schedule, music fans can enter for free. If they enjoy the show, he asks they give the band a few bucks on the way out. (Miller says some bands play just for the door. Some play for a guaranteed minimum. For some shows, the venue and bands split the take.)

In recent months, Miller had been experimenting with suggested donations — usually around $6 — for local acts. He’s usually glad to work cheap: Located just across from Progressive Field, he’ll let patrons in free with an Indians stub. Miller says he got the idea for the FPAYG model from a video of a presentation at this year’s NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) convention. The free model is based on two ideas: to motivate people to come out, and to give people a reason to spend money.

“My thinking is, ‘OK, free, and pay what you think [the acts] deserve,” explains Miller. “What I get from it is, they want customers and I want customers. It’s putting the value directly on the customer: ‘What do you value on it?’”

Miller, who makes his money on food and liquor sales, says the acts understand the need for some flexibility. “Most of the bands I book want to play to more people,” says Miller.

“I don’t know if this is an effective model, but am certainly willing to try it,” says Jeremy Mackinder, bassist of Whitey Morgan and the 78s, a Michigan band that plays Cleveland regularly. “I really look forward to the gig, and I hope that this plan works out well for both the club and ourselves.”
Small independent clubs aren’t the only ones feeling the pinch. This season, Live Nation — the world’s largest concert promoter, which owns the House of Blues chain and books concerts at Quicken Loans Arena, Blossom and Time Warner Cable Amphitheater at Tower City — has been offering “four-pack” deals for most shows. From club concerts to Blossom shows, fans can buy four tickets for a discount that usually amounts to a free ticket.

“It’s very popular and appealing with people who are traveling in a group or on the bubble of whether to got to a show,” says Michael Belkin, senior vice-president of Live Nation’s Midwest division. “It’s no mystery what’s going on in the world in 2009. Our mission statement is to keep people coming to concerts.” — D.X. Ferris

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