I can't tell you how happy I am that these Q&As with local folks keep getting better and better. If there is one thing I've learned, Cleveland has a lot of talent, and very little of it is hidden. Everyone I've "interviewed" so far has great love for the city and incredibly reasonable yet wise ideas for helping it out. I hope someone at the mayor's office is reading this blog.
This week is no exception. There is only one person I know of that is able to wrap in falafel breath, a world-record burrito, riding an elephant in downtown Cleveland, and some serious (and hilarious) puppetry chops ... Leia Alligator. I'm happy and proud to call Miss Alligator a friend and even more excited about the upcoming opportunities we Clevelanders have to catch her in action in the coming days and weeks!
1) How long have you been in Cleveland? And if you didn't grow up in Cleveland, where'd you relocate here from?
Leia: I grew up in Valley City, OH- the frog jumping capital of the state. I currently reside in Cleveland.
2) What is your favorite Cleveland memory?
Leia: One time, when I was a kid- I got to take a bite out of a world-record holding burrito. It stretched all the way down Euclid during the Cleveland Kids Fest. Also- I got to wear a suit made of velcro and get thrown into a wall and STICK TO IT! AND I got to ride an elephant down Public Square.
3) How does (if at all) Cleveland influence your work and/or art?
Leia: I think that one can "sense" the Cleveland-basement vibe coming out of my recordings. There's this place down the street from my practice space that sells falafel sandwiches until 3am. Most of the recordings are made between 1 and 6 in the morning- definitely with falafel breath (not that you'd notice it in the vocoder).
4) What would be your ideal Cleveland day? Or, to put it another way, if it was your birthday and your nearest and dearest were all willing to do what you wanted, what would your day be like?
Leia: My ideal Cleveland day starts with a walk to Edgewater Park. Then brunch at the Beachland Ballroom, a stroll down Waterloo, dinner at El Tango or Thai Hut in Lakewood... ending with a dingy noise show at Now That's Class or the Tower.
5) Say you had a friend coming in for 24 hours and had never been to Cleveland before. What would you make sure they saw and did?
Leia: Usually Tommy's and Big Fun on coventry and then the Beachland. Maybe the Rock Hall, too.
6) What is something from another city you wish you could import to Cleveland?
Leia: VEGAN CUISINE! I wish we had Tofu as an option at all restaurants and Vegan cheese/dressings/desserts. How 'bout it, budding food entrepreneurs? IF YOU BUILD IT, WE WILL COME.
7) If you had the undivided attention of the mayor, city council, and county commisioners, what would be the one thing you'd ask for or tell them?
Leia: Please save the Beachland Ballroom. It's my home away from home. There are legendary artists all over the world who consider it their home away from home. I don't have a solution; merely a plea to save a cultural landmark in our fair city. Thank you.
To meet Leia and check out her unique brand of awesomeness, go see her Picklefight! puppet show as she opens for The Presidents of the United States of America this Friday at the Grog Shop. Better yet, check that out and catch a show by one of the bands she plays in. My particular advice is to catch the indie pop all-stars Afternoon Naps. They will be having a listening party for their new album at Music Saves on August 7 and playing live at the Beachland Tavern on August 21. Check them out!