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Friday, August 31, 2018

City Club of Cleveland Unveils New Mural Near Playhouse Square

Posted By on Fri, Aug 31, 2018 at 5:09 PM

The City Club of Cleveland recently debuted a newly commissioned work of public art at the edge of Playhouse Square. Located on the site of the Bonfoey Gallery at the corner of Euclid Avenue and E. 17th St. in the midst of the construction of a high rise condo unit, the mural aims to “inspire Clevelanders to consider the role of free speech in our civic landscape."

April Bleakney’s 25’ x 50’ mural by is the first of three original murals commissioned by the City Club for its Freedom of Speech Mural Project.

“The Freedom of Speech Mural Project reflects the City Club’s steadfast commitment to stand on the side of free expression,” says Dan Moulthrop, CEO of the City Club, in a press release. “Every week, we invite audiences and speakers to participate in civil, civic dialogue because we believe having a place dedicated to the practice of free speech deepens our understanding of each other and strengthens our democracy. Each of these artists has interpreted our mission in their own voice and from their personal experience to create a visual representation of the challenge and privilege of our right to free speech.”

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Ohio Department of Education Outlines New Vision: Less Testing, More Work on Social Skills

Posted By on Fri, Aug 31, 2018 at 3:09 PM

  • ODE

The Ohio Department of Education wants to turn over a new leaf: less emphasis on testing, and more on building skills that will help students succeed after they graduate.

ODE’s new five-year comprehensive plan, called “Each Child Our Future,” purports to focus on “the whole child” in the state’s K-12 education initiatives, which employ 240,000 teachers in 3,500 schools serving 1.7 million students.

The strategies laid out in the 36-page plan are spread across four learning domains: Foundational Knowledge, Well-Rounded Content, Leadership and Reasoning and Social-Emotional Learning. Among them are emphasis on soft skills and critical thinking, including increasing efforts to grow social skills and self-awareness in young students and teaching problems solving, creativity, so-called “design thinking” and analytic skills.

The goal, according to the plan, is to increase the number of students who enroll in college, vocational training or an apprenticeship, are earning a living wage at a sustainable job or are serving in the military.

Work on the initiative began last July and included 150 educators, ODE board members, employers, community leaders, state lawmakers, students and others, as well as 1,200 attendees at 13 information and input meetings across the state.

There are a number of challenges Ohio schools face as ODE launches the new plan. More than 800,000 of its students — half of all the students in Ohio — are economically disadvantaged. More than 20,000 are homeless. Students are becoming increasingly diverse, as well, with more English language learners coming to Ohio’s public schools. And rapid changes in the world economy mean it’s difficult to know what, exactly, the jobs students are preparing for will be like.

“We’re living in this changing world,” ODE Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria said at the plan’s rollout in Columbus yesterday. “Who knows what the jobs of the future will look like? We have to take that obligation to not only educate our students in math and science and social studies and English, but also to equip them with the skills that will make them lifelong learners.”

The plan has 10 strategies to help move students toward those goals. Unlike past practices, which placed laser-like focus on standardized tests, ODE will look to find other ways to assess students’ learning outcomes to supplement state exams. Also on the agenda: providing more pathways to graduation for high school students.

“So many times, we’re looking at averages and numbers of students that are proficient or better,” DeMaria said at the rollout event yesterday, “and we clump students together when we really need to recognize that each child is different, each child has their own potential, their own inspiration, their own passions, their own interests and pathway to success.”

The rollout didn't quite manage to escape politics swirling around the state's education system. One of the speakers at the rollout was Ohio State Rep. Andy Brenner, a Republican who serves as chair of the House's Education and Career Readiness Committee. Critics, including Brenner's Democrat opponent for a State Senate seat Louise Valentine, accuse him of being too cozy with the charter school industry. Brenner has received more than $27,000 in campaign contributions from Bill Lager, the founder of the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow. The online charter closed in January after the state announced it is seeking to recover $62 million related to lack of attendance among many of ECOT's 15,000 online students.

Democrats also dinged Brenner for the performance of Ohio's public schools during his tenure as chair of the House's Education Committee.

"Why would we let the guy who allowed Ohio public education to plummet from 5th to 22nd in the nation on his watch get anywhere near a strategic plan for Ohio schools," Ohio Democratic Party Chair David Pepper tweeted before giving a plug for Valentine in the coming state Senate election.

Charter schools are mentioned only once in the Every Child Our Future plan in a list of school options. Brenner, who has denied that he's been preferential to charters, was one of a number of lawmakers and other officials involved in drafting the plan.

"This has been an inclusive plan," he said at this week's event. "This isn't just one person's idea."

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Local H to Perform 1998 Album 'Pack Up the Cats' In Its Entirety At the Grog Shop

Posted By on Fri, Aug 31, 2018 at 1:54 PM

  • Courtesy of Grogshop.gs
Just over 20 years ago, the alternative rock duo Local H released As Good as Dead, and it would yield “Bound for the Floor,” the band’s biggest hit.

In the wake of that breakthrough album, singer-guitarist Scott Lucas and drummer Joe Daniels toured for a good year and a half in support of the album. When the tour was done, Lucas spent another six months on the road with the hard rock act Triple Fast Action.

When it came time to write the songs for the follow-up record, Pack Up the Cats, he decided to make a concept album.

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Gold Medalist Aly Raisman to Speak at National Council of Jewish Women in Cleveland on Sept. 26

Posted By on Fri, Aug 31, 2018 at 1:23 PM

  • Courtesy of NBCUniversal

More than 150 women testified against Larry Nassar, the former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics physician who was ultimately sentenced to 60 years in prison for child pornography and 40 to 175 years in prison for child sexual abuse. Two-time Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman is one of those women.

After publicly recounting her experience during Nassar's trial, she's become a prominent activist for changing the stigma surrounding survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Her speech at the ESPY awards this year went viral, and she's bringing her platform to Cleveland when she speaks at the National Council of Jewish Women/Cleveland’s opening meeting Sept. 26 at Landerhaven in Mayfield Heights.

The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) is a grassroots organization of volunteers and advocates who turn progressive ideals into action. Inspired by Jewish values, NCJW strives for social justice by improving the quality of life for women, children, and families and by safeguarding individual rights and freedoms.

The theme for the opening meeting is “Be the Voice. See the Change,” The event consists of a luncheon, dessert, brief remarks by Raisman and her main presentation.

Since sharing her story of abuse, Raisman partnered with Darkness to Light (D2L), a nonprofit committed to empowering adults to prevent child sexual abuse.

“When I started speaking out, I noticed a concerning lack of education and awareness for the prevalence of child sexual abuse in our society and the tendency for some adults to not feel the responsibility for its prevention,” she told the Cleveland Jewish News.

Along with D2L, Raisman created the Flip the Switch campaign, a service offering child sexual abuse prevention training. The prevention education training called 'Stewards of Children' takes only two hours to complete, and is provided at no cost to participants.

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Cleveland's Democratic Socialists Are Offering Free Brake Light Repairs in September

Posted By on Fri, Aug 31, 2018 at 11:24 AM

  • WIkimedia Commons

The Cleveland chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) are holding their first ever Brake Light Clinic, offering free brake light repairs to assist community members in avoiding unnecessary interactions with police by repairing the broken headlights and taillights of attendees for free.

With nearly 50,000 members and counting, DSA is America’s largest socialist organization, a unified coalition of local chapters working vigorously towards creating a more fair and equitable society for all through community activism and political pressure.

Originated by the New Orleans chapter of the DSA, free brake light repair events have been staged by chapters across the country to great success. This is the first clinic in the Cleveland area of its kind. The goal is to strengthen community safety and welfare, and to help attendees avoid unnecessary interaction with a legal system which the DSA believes is disproportionately punitive towards the poor and communities of color.

"Broken brake lights are routinely used by police as a reason to pull over drivers, particularly Black and Brown folks," DSA Steering Committee member at large and racial justice committee chair (and meme queen) Jeanne Li tells Scene. "This not only allows police to search cars without cause, but endangers live, and contributes directly to the prison pipeline."

Cleveland’s chapter of the DSA is now in its third year of existence, and despite being a younger chapter has already helped to build working class power in Cleveland through initiatives such as its collaboration with Clevelanders for Public Transit, which successfully lobbied against a 2018 fare hike for Cleveland’s underserved RTA system, and the election of one of their members, Tristan Rader, to the Lakewood City Council.
  • Courtesy of DSA Cleveland

The DSA is also striving to improve police accountability and says the service could be especially potent in Cleveland, where they say "A number of disturbing incidents involving the Cleveland Department of Police in the last several years have heightened public awareness of some abusive policies and practices within the department."

DSA Cleveland has stockpiled a sizable number of the most common light bulbs and will be replacing them free of charge. The repairs will be done under supervision of licensed mechanics and all community members are welcome to drop in at any time during the clinic for repairs. According to Li, DSA Cleveland hopes to continue these clinics every month, alternating venues between the west side and the east side.

West Side Clinic: Saturday Sept. 22 at Pilgrim Congregational Church (2592 W 14th St.) from 1 to 7 p.m.

East Side Clinic: Sunday Sept. 23 at First Unitarian Church of Cleveland, (21600 Shaker Blvd. Shaker Heights) from 1 to 6 p.m.

For more information about the DSA Cleveland chapter, visit their website here.

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Plum’s Plummertime Cookout Rounds Up Chefs from 13 Restaurants for Good Times, Good Cause

Posted By on Fri, Aug 31, 2018 at 11:05 AM

“It's funny, I started out thinking I would ask a few people to do it with the idea that some of them would say no, but nobody did,” says Plum chef-owner Brett Sawyer. “So we were really lucky.”

And so too will be the diners who snag tickets to Plummertime, which will take place from 2 to 8 p.m. on Sunday, September 30. Numerous chefs from restaurants located in Cleveland, Detroit, Pittsburgh and Columbus will be manning individual charcoal grills spread across the patios of both the Plum (4133 Lorain Ave.) and neighbor Platform Beer.

“We’re going for a very casual backyard cook-out feel,” adds Sawyer.
The $120 ticket price includes food (likely a protein and vegetable dish) from every station plus drinks from Watershed, Platform, New Belgium Brewing and Shacksbury Cider. Sides like potato and macaroni salads will be provided by Plum.

The event is a fundraiser for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, an organization that provides mental health care services to those who don’t have insurance and can’t afford help through traditional means.

The deep bench of talent includes Justin Severino and Nate Hobart from Morcilla and Cure in Pittsburgh, Csilla Thackray and Joey Hilty from Vandal in Pittsburgh, Brendon Edwards, Hailey Enszer and Steve Dudewicz from Gold Cash Gold in Detroit, Jennifer Jacks, Justin Tootla and Kayla Pilato from Voyager in Ferndale, Mich., Jack Moore from Watershed Kitchen in Columbus, and locally Jeremy Umansky and Kenny Scott from Larder, Mike Nowak and Dave Kocab from Black Pig, Adam Lambert from Ohio City Provisions, Matt Spinner from Ushabu, Eric Williams from Momocho and El Carnicero, and Brett Sawyer, Vincent Thomascik, Nolan Tidwell and Chantz Blakesee from the Plum.

“Some are these guys are our friends, and others are chefs and restaurants that we love,” Sawyer says. “I think a lot of these places are already visible to Cleveland diners who might not have the chance to go to those places. This is a way to bring it to them.”

You can purchase tickets here.

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Eminem’s Surprise New Album Includes a Reference to His Appearance at Ohio's Scribble Jam in 1997

Posted By on Fri, Aug 31, 2018 at 10:48 AM


Last night, in a surprise move, Eminem unleashed a new album titled Kamikaze, a biting mix of vengeance (for those who’ve attacked and criticized him recently) and nostalgia, with several references to various points on his road to success.

An important part of the Eminem mythos is his appearances early in his career at rap battles around the country, including at Cincinnati’s own Scribble Jam, which became an underground Hip Hop haven for fans across the Midwest. The annual event’s celebration of the four branches of Hip Hop — graffiti, dance, MCing and DJing — drew enough buzz in its small-ish debut year in 1996 that it returned bigger and better in 1997 and had drawn the attention and anticipation of fans and artists from around the region and beyond. It ended up being a pivotal moment for the fest and sealed Scribble Jam a place in Hip Hop history.

On the Kamikaze track, “Venom,” Eminem shouts out his early days on the battle circuit and Scribble Jam specifically. About 50 seconds in, he raps, “Volkswagen, tailspin/Bucket matches my pale skin/Medal win/Went from Hellmann's and being rail thin, Filet-o-Fish/Scribble Jam, Rap Olympics, '97, Freaknik/How can I be down?”

Part of Eminem lore is that in 1997, he had put everything aside and pooled all of his money to travel to the country’s big freestyle battle competitions in an all-out effort to get some underground and maybe even industry traction. “You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow”? Yeah, basically all of that came from his early battle scars.

At Scribble Jam 1997, there were performances by Cincinnati legends like MOOD and 5 Deez, while the MC battle turned out to be iconic, with the notable final four of Doseone, Rhymefest, Juice and, yes, Eminem. Here is a rundown from oribitalhiphop.com about the battle events at the 1997 fest (read the full fest report from that and other years here). Note: Eminem was so not a known entity at the time, the notes from the event spell his name "Emineim.":

"We recruited heavily for the MC battle this year and we got some nice MC’s, some we didn’t even expect. The MC Freestyle started off with an elimination round which saw 51 mc’s amputated down to 18 for head to head combat. Some mc’s freestyles appeared to take on the shape of Charles Manson in front of the parole board. In other words as Jesus said to Satan each of the 3 times he was tempted "It was written". Not to distract from the contest because as the mc’s involved, the crowd, the judges, and a slew of dead poets stated after the dust cleared, this may have been the best MC Battle of the year, or maybe ever. Key contenders were Juice & Rhymefest of Chicago many a winner of poetical endeavors, last years Champ Mallachie of the highly visible Empire, Dose One of Skillz Scavengers, a 1200 HOBO MC & a regular at B-Boys Underground on air freestyle sessions, Choc of the Mud Kids from Indianapolis, Duece Leader & Crash of Dare Devil Micronauts from Louisville, All Star from All Natural Camp out of Chicago, Eclipse of the Trifiling Nitwits (Super Powers) from Cincinnati and Emineim out of Detroit. From the early rounds the favorites came to the forefront dropping gems on opponents to the crowd's delight. There were probably a record tie-breakers. Hip-Hop quotables were prevalent. One that stands out in my mind which occurred during the best and most difficult to decide battle was Emineim’s quip of Choc’s "using his facial tissue to make it a racial issue". He finished in his choppy style of delivery with "... now your mad and all your boys want to jump me, but go home and tell everyone you got beat by a honky". Dose One dethroned Mallachie of The Empire in a early round killing any notion of repeats. Eclipse represented for Cincinnati by ousting Ill Joe from The Empire by stating that "Your belly is so big your shirt use to say M but know it says Empire". Eclipse bowed out gracefully to Juice under the line "So your name is Eclipse, Things about to get tight, I’ma make it darker than Grace Jones after midnight". Juice and Rhymefest were the masters of punchline rhyming which left the crowd ooing and competitors wishing that they were spectators. Emineim brought a similar flavor and had the battles best punch line when he told Juice "You couldn’t make the crowd throw up their hands up if they swallowed their fingers". Ever contest has it’s politics and this magnificent one wasn’t exempt though it didn’t take away from the event. The semi-finalists Juice, Rhymefest, Dose One & Emineim advanced inside to the arena where it boiled down to Juice and Rhymefest. Rhymefest pulled what some would call a gallant show of sportsmanship or a cop out by not battling friend, rhyme partner and fellow Chicagoan, Juice for the title. The Style Wars must go on! Emineim battled Dose One as 3rd and 4th with Emineim advancing. Juice defeated Emineim to take the spoils."

Juice defeated Em at Scribble and at the 1997 Rap Olympics battle in Los Angeles that is mentioned in “Venom,” Eminem also came in second place. But it was there that he reportedly caught the attention of an Interscope Records employee, who got his demo, passed it to the higher-ups (Jimmy Iovine, who played it for Dr. Dre) and the rest is quite literally music history.

In a bit of serendipity, tonight marks the debut of a new Cincinnati Hip Hop festival very much in the spirit of Scribble Jam, even featuring a headlining set by Scribble co-founder and Cincinnati Hip Hop superhero Mr. Dibbs (you can spot him in the above video manning the turntables during the battles). Read all about Overcast here. The mechanics behind the scenes of Hip Hop, like with most of music, have changed drastically — getting a good buzz on Soundcloud is easier for reputation-building than slaying at an MC battle — but you never know. Maybe you’ll see the next Rhymefest, Doseone, Eminem or Juice at the Overcast battles tomorrow night.

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