Saturday, May 31, 2008


Hello anonymous friends,

I have a Cleveland question for you.

Exactly one week from today I turn 30.

(That was such a har sentence to type.)

I am looking for the right place to have dinner that night. I have reservations at Crop Bistro, but I think I want something a little more fun. Still nice, of course, but also fun. Any tips?

I'm willing to spend money and open to just about any neighborhood, though I don't want to venture out much farther than the inner-ring suburbs.

I'm also pondering the thought of catching the Gladiators game that night, so a place that seats late (like 10 or 11) would be cool, though not fully necessary.

What do you all think?

Thursday, May 29, 2008


Well, it looks like the Cleveland Bachelor is back to being even more of a bachelor than before. C'est la vie.

Ironically, just this morning, when I was contemplating whether to shave or let the long weekend fuzz that had encroached well into the week, I decided to go for another facial hair experiment.

(Is that irony? Or am I making an Alanis-style mistake with my choice of words?)

So, I guess this particular relationship had a life-cycle of exactly 1 beard cycle. Met the day I started growing one, decided to change romantic gears the day I started the next.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Businessman's Special Karma

So I technically skipped work today. Kind of.

Let's just say I found my day clear. And I was also invited to today's Indians game.

It is just that when we get to the specific ordering of those two things that things get a little murky.

Regardless of how things look demurkified, I find myself with half my face sunburned (the left half).

Lesson learned?


Clevo Cupcake Challenge

A month or so ago I learned about the interesting cupcake competition that the folks over at Feeding Maybelle were putting on. It seemed cool, particularly since it was geared toward soliciting feedback from consumers, rather than marketing folks or professional bakers.

Not that there is anything bad about marketing folks or professional bakers.

OK, at least not about bakers.

Digressions, digressions, digressions.

Upon learning of the contest, I immediately thought of the wonderful cupcakes at Nature's Bin in Lakewood.

Initially, I was concerned that they wouldn't count, as Lakewood is technically not Cleveland (though my friend Ken, with whom I attended today's disappointing Indians game, informs me the differences are getting smaller every day - for what it is worth). However, a quick scan of the fine print indicated that Lakewood falls within Maybelle's Mom's generous definition of Cleveland (as does any other city, township, village or hamlet anywhere in Geauga, Summit, Lake, and Cuyahoga counties). So we were back in business, so to speak.

Before wowing you with the cupcake photography, let me tell you a bit about the place and baker. Nature's Bin is a wonderful store, sort of a healthy person's supermarket. It is also an asset to the community, as many of the employees are individuals with disabilities. Working at Nature's Bin helps these folks develop the sort of skills one needs to live productive and socially fulfilling lives, and does so in a way that is fully integrated with the mainstream community.

(Nature's Bin also has some fantastic microwaveable entrees, made from scratch in their full kitchen, that have immeasurably improved the life of this particular Cleveland Bachelor.)

The baker at Nature's Bin is a charming woman named Traci. Traci brings an artful eye and a creative approach to the art of cupcakery, routinely busting out both traditional cupcake flavors and crazy exciting flavors, all crafted with a visual edge so aesthetically appealing that one wonders whether to eat or frame the special treat. As framing would be messy and, well, impossible, I've always opted to eat, but you get my point, right?

Not only are her cupcakes delicious, they are also good for you. Traci routinely offers vegan and vegetarian cupcake options. (Nature's Bin also stocks baked goods for those who need gluten-free, but I'm pretty sure those aren't made in-house.)

Anyway, without (much) further ado, here are my best efforts at photographing Traci's delightful cupcakes. I sincerely urge each of you to make a trip over to Nature's Bin, do a little health food shopping and support a NEO institution that itself is providing an incredible and laudable service to the Cleveland+ region.

Oh yeah ... and get some awesome cupcakes.

Photos - finally we get to the photos.

Here's a list of what you are viewing. If what follows seem to be less than inspirational, TRUST ME, the fault lies entirely with the photographer (i.e., me).

1) Tag team shot of the apples & cinnamon cupcake and the orange/ginger/vanilla cupcake
2) Close up on the apples & cinnamon cupcake (my favorite)
3) Close up on the orange/ginger/vanilla cupcake
4) At home shot of vegan cookies and cream cupcake (I accidentally smushed the cookie on top - my bad )
5) Display case shot of vegan cookies and cream cupcakes (sorry for the glare)

Monday, May 26, 2008

As we all can attest from living here, the mortgage/foreclosure crisis is a big deal in Cleveland. A very big deal in virtually every part of Cleveland.

Well, it looks like the national media has started to figure out just how bad it is getting here, too. Check out this article from Newsweek about Slavic Village.

Pretty good article, pretty well-researched, pretty darn scary to see how little power even out top-shelf elected officials have over changing anything.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

West Coast, y'all

Off to Seattle in the morning, home of Cobain, coffee, and umbrellas. (Sorry, I couldn't think of anything rain-related that begins with a "c.") It is a quick trip - out first thing in the morning, back on the red-eye Sunday, but there should still be some time for sight-seeing.

Not a lot on the travel agenda so far, which is rare for me when venturing to a cool place. I guess I've just been too busy to research it very much.

As it is, a colleague and I are gonna grab lunch at Mario Batali's dad's restaurant/cured meats shop, and later a friend (my former #1 dog-sitter actually) from Texas, now living in DC, and I are gonna meat up for drinks at this funky Basque place just a few blocks from the hotel where our convention is being held.

Saturday I actually have to work, for a few hours anyway, but then there is some promising-sounding indie pop show at a club called the Sunset Tavern. Then Sunday I think I'm gonna do some urban hiking through hipster neighborhoods like Fremont and Ballard, which I imagine as hybrids of places like Tremont, Ohio City, Waterloo Road, and Coventry. Then back on the red-eye that night for an awesome early-ass arrival in CLE.

At least I'll be back for at least one day of the Tremont Greek Festival. I've been looking forward to that since I realized I was moving up here in January 2007.

Who needs an alarm clock?

A few days ago, my next-door neighbor moved out. That's sorta a shame, as she was quiet and efficiently nice when we would pass in the hallway.

She was also two-faced, though, telling me how good my dog was while simultaneously calling the landlord and complaining.

Oh well. See ya later, I guess.

Anyway, the day after she moved out, contractors went nuts on her place, and have been there doing whatever they do ever since.

Right at 9 AM they start banging and whirring and making all sorts of noise.

At least they wait till 9 AM, right? I mean, at that time most folks are at work, right?

Not I. Not the next-door neighbor on the other side of the now obviously too thin walls.

So here I am, blogging at quarter to ten, when I would be snuggled up in bed.

I guess former neighbor lady got the last word in the end.

Indians troubles

These guys can't do anything right!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A photographic walk down the bridge

A week or so ago, en route to a Cavs home game against the Celtics, Tina and I decided to walk down the bridge rather than scrounge for quarters and take the train from Ohio City to Tower City or pay the ridiculous parking vendors (not to mention the stupidity of driving .8 miles).

It was a short walk, maybe 20 minutes, but good for picture taking. Here are the highlights, more or less in the chronological order they were taken.

The Manliest Food of All

For all you macho foodies out there (an oxymoron, I know), listen up.

On a recent trip to the Euclid Tavern, I discovered the manliest food of all.

Bacon-flavored Hot Wings

For real.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


So I just realized I was tagged by Chef's Widow. Sadly, she's right -- I really don't have anything better to do right now.

So here goes.

1) I am allergic to onions. That in itself isn't weird. What is weird is the reaction I have. They make me angry. Seriously. So do shitake mushrooms.
2) It really bugs me when my hair touches my ears. It makes them feel like they are on fire.
3) I don't have any tattoos, but I'm thinking about getting one in a couple weeks for my 30th birthday. It would be an artist's (Daniel Johnston) rendition of a lonely frog and I would get it on the inside of my right forearm. Maybe.
4) Above my desk I have this cool postcard photo of my friend Tony's hostel in Haiti. I really want to visit it some day. But, well, it is in Haiti.
5) My lease ends soon and I'm wanting to move from my apartment, but I've done absolutely no research on where to move to because I'm completely paralyzed between the following neighborhoods: Tremont, Ohio City, Lakewood, and Cleveland Heights. OK, the last two aren't neighborhoods, but suburbs, but you get the point. Every time I start to lean in one direction, I feel guilty. Don't ask me why.
6) I love the restaurant Melt (in Lakewood), but I always get really mad when I go. Not because the wait is long or the food reminds me how fat I am, but because I always fuck up my order. Every time I go ahead and get something crazy (which is always delicious), but the kindergarten option with a cup of soup would be so much better. Yet I never get it.
7) My dog has really awful separation anxiety and we are perpetually in dynamic negotiations over exactly how things must go before I leave the house.
8) My favorite holiday is Labor Day. I'm quite possibly the only person ever to say that.
9) I love engagement/proposal stories. I also have a really bad problem with controlling my facial expressions when someone tells me their story. The problem being I'm almost always disappointed ... and they can tell.
10) I really don't like it when people talk to me in elevators.

And, to continue this silly game, the following can consider themselves officially tagged:

Really Bad Cleveland Accent
Cleveland's a Plum
Cleveland Love
Even Cleveland
Happy Scribe

Taggees, do with that what you will.

CC throws strikes, you save

This thing totally caught me at the last minute, but in case you didn't already know, you can get super cheap Indians tix for the June 10th game.

Basically, because CC Sabathia and Jensen Lewis combined for 9 strikeouts, you can get $9 subtracted from the cost of up to 8 tickets for the aforementioned game (against the Twins). Just be advised the deal only goes for the crappy seats (i.e., Lower Reserved, Mezzanine, Upper Box, and Bleachers), but still.

Plus, it is dollar dog night, so you can make a whole recession holiday out of the thing.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Barely Legal

Last night I went to prom.

Fortunately, even though I'm less than 3 weeks from turning 30, there is absolutely no chance I'll be brought up on chargers regarding anything remotely (under)age-related.

That's cause I was at the Beachland Ballroom prom.

Nevertheless, despite the large amounts of booze in clear sight and the innumerable hipster tattoos, this prom seems a lot like the proms from back in high school.

Actually, I never went to prom. I went to plenty of Homecomings and Winter Balls and the like, but never prom. Too much money and during my junior and senior year I never happened to have a girlfriend at the time of the dance, thus requiring my promenadal presence.

In fact, that came up in conversation last night, as my date and I were grooving to the sounds a fantastic James Brown cover. She asked if our date made up for not going to prom in high school. The knee-jerk answer was: "Yes!" but on further reflection, it was the correct answer, too. I mean, I picked her up from work, went back to her place, presented her with her corsage (custom-made by the charming guys at Out on the Street on Lorain near W. 25th), got dressed up in semi-dressy fun stuff ransacked from the parts of closets so dark they'd be perfect for growing mushrooms, then stopped at the Grovewood for a nice dinner I could actually afford, then went to the Beachland for a bit to talk and dance and laugh.

All in all, it was a blast. Especially with the Beachland Ballroom location, which is the perfect place to have a somewhat ironic formal dance event. Irony aside, it was a great chance to get dressed up, to abandon the pretensions to coolness one often sees (and brings) at local shows, work up a sweat dancing to great cover songs performed awesomely by local acts. Once you get out of high school, those institutionalized opportunities to do special things with your S.O. become pretty rare, other than the odd grand-scale wedding.

So anyway, next year, check it out.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Spring has sprung

An odd statement to begin with, considering we are about as close to the first of June as we are to the first of may, but it sure doesn't feel like the latter days of spring outside.

Nevertheless, the one true sign that summer is approaching, with or without the traditional warm weather accompaniment: today, for the first time in maybe a decade, I heard the unmistakable twinkling of an ice cream truck, wafting up to my 3rd floor windows.

If nothing else, that is the sound of vernal hope.

Come on, LeBron!

Seriously, King. Can you puh-lease play a full decent game this series? Pretty, pretty please?

Right now, I'd trade you for one clone each of Z and Delonte.

And I'd HAPPILY throw in "Coach" Brown for free.

For real, LBJ - please do that magic thing you do so I can stop being such a petulant baby and go back to throwing my arms in the air and dropping my jaw to the floor in awe of your skills.

Both of us prefer that.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Successful Navigation of a Full Beard Cycle

So I've been dating this girl since late February.

In late February I was clean-shaven (clean shaved?). I had been without facial hair since early January, when I had shaved off the last bearded experiment.

The night I met her, at the Beachland Ballroom, I also bumped into Steve from Shoparooni, who told me about the Cinco de Moustache party he was planning. At that moment, I decided to end my facial hair vacation and commence re-growing.

Yesterday, I shaved off the remaining whiskery, leaving me cleanly shaved for the first time since late February and, to the introductory point, for the first time since I met the aforementioned dating partner.

Last night, when we chatted by phone, I mentioned that I had shaved. She said something along the lines of how she hadn't seen me without facial hair, thus leading to a ridiculously inane conversation (much like this blog post) about my shaving patterns.

After my long-winded discussion (during which I'm pretty sure she fell asleep at least once), she said, "Wow, I guess I've made it through one beard cycle."

Upon further review, I must conclude, indeed she has.

I have no idea what will develop from this particular romantic entanglement, but one thing is for sure: From now on, beard cycles are going to be my primary indicator of relationship longevity. Goodbye months. Goodbye weeks. Goodbye number of existential crises.

Hello beard cycle.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Rise up

Yesterday, I had the good fortune to attend the Cavs game against the Celtics. You know, the one where LBJ still struggled a bit but played better than the previous 3 games and told his mom to sit her ass DOWN to boot.

It was a good time, since we won. But also fun was the decision to walk to the Q and back. The weather was brisk, but dry, and the walk from my Ohio City abode to the arena was a short one. We got there early, checked out the sorta lame FSN Fan Fest (where I again humiliated myself at Cornhole), then decided to grab a beer. We opted for Wilberts, which was mostly empty, rather than kick it in the massively packed sportsbars filled with former frat boys and current Warehouse District residents. (Sorry, dear readers, if any of you feel particularly stung by that burn. I'm just sayin', is all.)

Highlight of our walk around downtown? Easily the moment when we passed panhandler #73, who opted for an unusual rhetorical strategy - honesty. Rather than going with the apparently tried-and-true bits about needing $2 for the train or insulin shots or a sandwich, this guy smiled and lounged in a broken down wheel-chair, holding a sign that said something along the lines of "Why Lie? I Need Beer." I chuckled, and contemplated donating, but was cash-less. My date also laughed, and when we passed, he shouted to her, "With a smile like that, I don't need any Colt 45!"


Sunday, May 4, 2008

Evolution of a Moustache

Yesterday was Shoparooni's Cinco de Moustache event.

This was not something I took lightly.

I began training in late February, when proprietor Steve Brown first told me about the event.

Training largely took the form of not shaving again until yesterday.

Yesterday, I transformed my terrible beard into an even more awful moustache.

Below is a photographic display of the evolution of my moustache.

Photo 1 captures pre-competition beard, a candid shot taken in front of the saran-wrapped bus on Waterloo road.

Photo 2 was taken just after my first round of trimming.

Photo 3 was taken after a touch more trimming, a shower, and post-moustache dye job (designed to provide more contrast for the aid of subsequent moustache-viewing by fellow attendees).

Photo 4 was taken following the last trim, fully dressed and ready to go.

sign of the times

heh heh

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Bye Bye Wizards

Can I tell you how glad I am that we won't have to hear about the ridiculous Washington Wizards anymore this season? God, those guys are lame. I haven't lived in Cleveland for that long, but the obnoxiousness of the Washington team quickly turned my kinda ambivalent embrace of the Cavs into a passionate display of cheering against Stevenson, Arenas, and co. Since when is it OK to publicly acknowledge your team's entire strategy is to rough up the other team's star? I mean, I grew up in Chicago during the Bulls era and even MJ didn't get it this dirty from the Pistons. Way to set new lows in professional sports, Wizards. You guys are like the late-70s Oakland Raiders, minus the charm. And the championship.

Friday, May 2, 2008

mark your calendars

Everyone told me that spring and summer in Clevo are awesome. With the exception of this recently passed Miserable March, I've always liked the city anyway, but now I'm starting to realize what they are talking about.

Anyway, there are so many cool things coming up this month, I thought I'd make a list for you guys. Things are always so much more fun when there is community energy involved. (Case-in-point: Indie Record Store Day at Music Saves the other day -- awesome turnout, and a great experience.)

Cocktails and Art @ Asterisk -- Saturday, May 3
Cinco de Moustache @ Shoparooni -- Saturday, May 3 (decisions, decisions...)
2nd Annual Beachland Weenie Roast -- Sunday, May 4
Ohio Independent Film Fest -- May 7-11
Hipster author/editor Keith Gessen @ Mac's Back's -- Wednesday, May 7
Art Walk in Tremont -- Friday, May 9
Northeast Ohio Chocolate Fest in Cleveland Heights -- May 10-11
Bike Imitates Art gallery show @ Lake Erie Artists -- Saturday, May 10
DJ Racecard soul dance party @ Beachland -- Saturday, May 10
Killer beer dinner @ Beer Engine in Lakewood -- Tuesday, May 13
From Rust Belt to Artist Belt forum @ Levin School (CSU) -- Wednesday, May 14
New show opening @ Arts Collinwood -- Friday, May 16
Inaugural Alley Cat Friday @ Music Saves -- Friday, May 16 (BYOB)
Hessler Street Fair -- May 17-18
Tremont Greek Fest -- May 24-26
Kids in the Hall @ Playhouse Square -- Saturday, May 31

And a little foreshadowing for the following month:

My 30th Birthday on June 7!



Hi. How are you?

I'm fine. Been a bit busy lately, though not with anything of much importance. Went to the Cavs debacle the other night (you know, the one where LeBron though it would be cool to stand at the top of the key for 20 seconds, then chuck up a ridiculous 3 attempt, all while the Wizards were actually trying to win). Ugh. I'm so tired of these damn Wizards.

At least afterwards we went for a nice meal at Momocho. I had the pepite-encrusted trout, again. I can't seem to order anything else, it is soooooo good. We did split an order of the taquitos that come with roasted beets and spinach and stuff - that was also muy awesome. I really like Momocho. You should too.

Other than that, not much. Had lunch with colleagues a couple times at Elements Bistro. That is a surprisingly good place. Good vibe, excellent Ohio-themed menu, all relatively cheap. I think I'm gonna make a habit of going over there once a week or so. Seems like a good way to network with colleagues, at least a fun and affordable way.

Also checked out Bar Cento's patron event last night. I had noted it down on my calendar a while back, probably thanks to some email announcement, but Chef's Widow's comment about the half-naked patron girls sealed the deal. Unfortunately, there weren't any around (at least that I could find, and I looked), but my buddy Mike and I did have the good fortune of interacting with the only off-their-game server I've ever experienced there. Other than the great music and the awesome warmed beets and the fantastic pizzas, the service at Bar Cento is the very best thing about it. It is so good that the slightest deviation is noticeable, especially on a night when your hopes are up for scantily clad tequila mistresses. In reality, Server Girl was probably just having a bad night, or maybe had been dealing with douchebag customers too long. Anyway, we just moved inside, and had great service from a couple of the dudes that work there, just like normal.

Tonight I'm gonna go watch the Cavs game and have make-your-own-Chicago-style-hot-dogs-night. (Do you believe me when I say I'm not afraid of hyphens?) I picked up some sexy all-beef kosher dogs at the West Side Market this morning, but still have to make a run for other toppings like celery salt and sport peppers and the neonest relish I can find.

Tomorrow is Cinco de Moustache at Shoparooni. I'll post more on that later, maybe some "anatomy of a moustache" photos, but in the meantime I'll leave it at expressing how excited I've been for this day to come, mostly because I finally will be shaving the vast majority of my since-January beard off. FINALLY. That shit has been itchy for a while. Tomorrow is also a good poetry day around town, with a Daniel Thompson ceremony near public square and a reading/signing at Visible Voice. Sunday is the Beachland Weenie Roast, with a post-roast show by Film School and Unsparing Sea.

So, lots to look forward to. I'll post a few not-to-be-missed events soon.