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Friday, September 2, 2016

Video: Fabulous Jim Traficant Documentary Now Available on Vimeo

Posted By on Fri, Sep 2, 2016 at 9:37 AM

Update: Years in the making, the documentary Jim Traficant: The Congressman of Crimetown is finally done and available for your viewing pleasure.

Stream the full movie on Vimeo's on-demand service ($5.99 to rent and view; $12.99 to purchase).

If you didn't know of this cinematic gem's existence, check out the trailer below, full of some of Traficant's greatest and most quotable moments, for a taste (fyi: it'll probably have you scurrying to rent the whole movie immediately).

TRAFICANT: The Congressman of Crimetown from Steel Valley Films on Vimeo.


(Original story 10/17/14): The trailer and initial Kickstarter campaign for Jim Traficant: the Congressman of Crimetown made its first appearance back in November 2011. It looked fabulous and clearly there was no more suitable subject for a documentary than Jim Traficant, the bombastic, disgraced and polarizing politician with the weed-cutter haircut (read: toupee).

With Traficant's recent death, the film's directors and producers are very close to finishing the project, albeit with a different ending than they had imagined just a month ago. So they're back to Kickstarter looking for some funds to put the cap on what looks to be a fabulous project. They'll be submitting to Sundance and other film festivals. 

9/23/14 - After working relentlessly since filming began in 2009, I made a DVD of my feature documentary, Traficant: The Congressman of Crimetown, for submission to the upcoming Sundance Film Festival. In Youngstown and LA, respectively, my producer Jeff Alberini and I celebrated this benchmark.

Later that same evening, around 8pm, Jim Traficant flipped his vintage tractor in an accident that would eventually cost him his life. In that moment, we inherited a deeper responsibility and mission.

Truth be told, we had been prepping this Kickstarter campaign the week before Traficant's passing and decided to hit the pause button.

Now, we feel the time is appropriate to ask for your support. We need your help to finish up this decade long endeavor. We're currently crafting a new ending given the circumstances and buttoning up remaining details.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Katz Club Diner Arsonist Sentenced to 15 Months in Jail

Posted By on Wed, Apr 8, 2015 at 11:58 AM

Update: 46-year-old James Warholak, who's been behind bars for six months already, will spend another nine in jail. He was sentenced this week to 15 months in total for setting the fire that totaled the Katz Club Diner. Warholak had previously been an employee there before being fired a couple weeks before the blaze. (


Original story: 10/16/2014 — Earlier this week, the NEOMG reported that the alleged arsonist behind the Katz Club Diner fire was a former employee. James Warholak, 46, was fired two months ago, according to Cleveland Heights Police.

The fire, set in the very early morning on October 7 (and captured on surveillance footage), completely decimated the diner's speakeasy half, inflicting approximately $400,000 worth of damage, via Cleveland Heights prosecutor Tiffany Hill.

Doug Katz hasn't yet commented on Warholak's duties, but has relocated all 35 Katz Club employees to the Fire Food & Drink kitchen on Shaker Square, keeping up the catering duties and putting on a brave face. In good news, the diner and kitchen portion weren't significantly damaged and were diagnosed as "savable."   

According to county records, Warholak's court date has not yet been set.   

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Friday, October 31, 2014

Scene Podcast: Cleveland's Big Night, The Humongatron, The Downside of Going Viral, the Governor's Race and More

Posted By on Fri, Oct 31, 2014 at 5:20 PM

This week, host Craig Lyndall chatted with Eric Sandy and Sam Allard about the week that was and, specifically, Cleveland's big night last night, including Imagine Dragons (and the bored crowd) and Kendrick Lamar. They also touched on Bac's rough couple of weeks, the Governor's race and next week's election, the Green Party and more.

As always, subscribe to the Scene podcast on iTunes here.

Download this episode here.

Or stream below.

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7 Concerts to Catch This Weekend

Posted By on Fri, Oct 31, 2014 at 3:53 PM


Adrian Belew

Multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, producer, and guitarist Adrian Belew has done it all. He’s released 20 solo albums and worked with acts such as Paul Simon, David Bowie, Talking Heads, Frank Zappa, Laurie Anderson and Nine Inch Nails. For 33 years, he was the frontman, singer and guitarist in the prog rock group King Crimson. Belew has recently embarked on his first tour since the Crimson ProjeKCt tour of 2011. He’ll be fronting the Adrian Belew Power Trio that includes bassist Julie Slick and drummer Tobias Ralph. He'll also debut a new app that will allow him to play snippets of several tunes during the show. Expect to hear about 30 tracks from his extensive catalog. (Jeff Niesel), 8 p.m., $20-$45. Beachland Ballroom.

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Free Donuts, Cheap Chipotle, and Other Halloween Treats You Can Find Today in Cleveland

Posted By on Fri, Oct 31, 2014 at 1:38 PM

National chains often celebrate holidays by giving away freebies, and Halloween, it seems, is no exception. 

Krispy Kreme is offering folks who stop in wearing a costume a free donut of their choice - Here's a handy list of local outlets.

Chipotle is sponsoring its annual Boo-rito deal for costume clad customers. Stop in to a Northeast Ohio location after 5 p.m. today, and a burrito, bowl, salad, or order of tacos is yours for just $3.

Arby's is apparently offering free bacon on sandwiches today to all customers who say "trick or meat." Ha.

And, finally, IHOP is offering up free scary face pancakes to kids or anyone they can reasonably believe is 12 and under (costume challenge, anyone?).

Snag some of these sweet treats, and enjoy your Halloween, everybody!

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Chef Bac Nguyen Issues Public Apology for Hostile Remarks

Posted By on Fri, Oct 31, 2014 at 11:40 AM

Local Chef Bac Nguyen, of Bac and Ninja City, has issued a public apology for remarks he made last month in response to an unfavorable Yelp review.

The hostility of the response spawned a Facebook group which encouraged members to boycott both of Nguyen's restaurants as a public stand against consumer intimidation.

Nguyen's defenders, who felt that the Yelp community does much more damage to the culinary scene than outbursts by chefs, and Nguyen's detractors, who argued that his attacks were indefensible regardless, advanced their positions in a spirited comments section.  

Nguyen's statement is available in full on the Ninja City website, and we've included it below:  

Hi everyone, this is Bac, chef/owner of Ninja City and Bac in Tremont. I'm also the guy that's been getting a lot of controversial press right now regarding an incident stemming from a Yelp review from September 8th, 2014. The fact is, I said some really stupid things. I'm genuinely sorry for saying those things. I wish I could take them back, but I can't. However, I'm here to apologize, and to try to make it right and learn from it.

A lot of things have been said about me lately, and I deserve much of it. I did act crazy, irrational, and said some horrible things. I can't deny that what I did was wrong. However, I am not a racist. I work with and employ people from all different ethnic backgrounds. One of my business partners is an Indian American woman, and she has provided the following statement on my behalf. I thank everyone who has reached out to me regarding the issue of me being racist, as people who know me personally know that this is not the case.

I'm not here to make any excuses. The simple fact is that I lost my temper in response to a negative online review that I misinterpreted as more personal than was intended. As a chef and small business owner, I take a lot of pride in my work. My business partners, family, friends and I pour our hearts and souls into what we do. Sometimes, it's difficult to hear criticism after you've invested so much hard work, time and money in something you're passionate about - especially when your business first opens. I mistakenly assumed that the negative review was written personally and maliciously, and I was wrong. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I don't expect every single person to love our food.

To Ruchu and his friends – once again, I am sorry. I’m sorry for misinterpreting your criticism as personal, and responding so poorly. Shortly after my outburst, I provided both a written apology and a video apology, which I am now sharing out of respect. Ruchu – I have also reached out to you directly one more time as well, as I feel like I still owe you a face-to-face apology for both my original reaction as well as any subsequent actions on my part. However, I completely respect your decision if you’d still rather not meet.

To my fans and supporters, my staff, my business partners, my family and friends - I am sorry. I have always wanted to make you all proud. And to the city of Cleveland, a town that I've lived in my whole life and a town that I take incredible pride in - a town that has always supported and encouraged me, I am sorry to have brought negative light to our great city.

To the individuals who are members of the “Stop Consumer Intimidation” boycott group on Facebook, I’d like to extend an offer to you. If you are a member of this group as of 12:00pm on Thursday, October 30th, 2014, I welcome you to come enjoy a complimentary meal at Ninja City anytime between now and December 31st, 2014 (alcohol not included). All that I ask is that you kindly complete a comment card during your visit to share your opinions with us so that we can continue improving.

Once again, I'd just like to say how sorry I am. I'd like to think that people who know me personally know me as a good guy. But at the end of the day, I am human and I make mistakes. I've learned from this situation and will work to handle criticism better, and to control my temper. Thank you for your time.

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Singer-songwriter Ryan Humbert to Play CD Release Show at Kent Stage

Posted By on Fri, Oct 31, 2014 at 11:39 AM

Akron-based singer-songwriter Ryan Humbert is one of Northeast Ohio’s most active musicians. If he’s not playing solo dates, he’s paying tribute to icons such as Roy Orbison and Bob Dylan with large, extravagant shows. And that’s not to mention his elaborate Christmas concerts. Somehow, he’s found time to record a new album; he plays a CD release show at 8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 7, at the Kent Stage, and the Strange Familiar will open with an acoustic set.

Recorded at the Rukkus Room in Nashville, the album is arguably Humbert’s best.  “We used top-notch session guys in Nashville," says Humbert. "This is the fastest we have ever made a record. We made it in six days straight. I had over 30 tunes and the producers and I sat down and whittled it down to the best.”

He wrote the moody title track about his mother’s battle with breast cancer. “That song was inspired by her struggle,” he says. “I just wanted to write a song that was inspirational.” For “California to Ohio,” he worked with Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter Kim Richey; the song tells the story of Humbert’s grandfather, Ron Humbert, and his 1953 journey hitchhiking from Camp Pendleton, Calif. (where he was stationed as a Marine) to Hartville, Ohio so that he could see his wife Norma and their newborn daughter. “We had a lot of fun with that song,” says Humbert. “It just happened that Kim and I were talking about family and somehow that story came up and we thought it might be a good song. I was so thrilled that it happened that way. I wanted it be specific and tell their story but I wanted other people to relate to it as well. The details help you put yourself in the song.”

Album closer “Space Enough,” a song he co-wrote with local singer-songwriter Tracey Thomas, features the McCrary Sisters on backing vocals; the sisters have recorded with acts such as Elvis Presley, Stevie Wonder and Bob Dylan. “I told them about the song, and they happened to like it and did it,” he says. “I was honored to have them on it. That song has a darker current but we took it in a more positive direction with the choir. We added a little bit of hope.”

Copies of the new album will be available for purchase at the show, as well as new T-shirts, lyric books and a new EP of unreleased material from 2011. Tickets to the concert are $10 in advance, $14 the day of the show. 

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