We all know the score. Cleveland's down and out. Manufacturing is gone for good, the middle class is about three layers out from the city in our bullseye-style concentric zone of suburbia. The rust belt is only getting rustier and those who don't get out now are doomed.
etcetera etcetera etcetera
One man, however, apparently didn't get the memo. That must be the case, because not only did Vince Slusarz recently open a small manufacturing plant in Northeast Ohio, he did it downtown. Add to that, the plant presses vinyl records and you'd think this blog post would be written in the 1960s. If, you know, they had blogs back then. Which they didn't. But I digress.
Slusarz's Gotta Groove Records plant is one of the success stories filling the new and heartwarming Tyler Square redevelopment project (also home to firms like Indigo Imp, Front Room Gallery, and John G's mythical monastery) located at E. 36th & Superior. In their industrial space, they churn out custom record pressings, ranging from 7" singles to full-length albums. Check out this clip below for a little more insight on the process (or check out the photos I took when I had the opportunity to tour the plant in November).
Clearly, this is as cool as manufacturing gets, but what makes it better is Vince's dedication to the city. Slusarz is a man who lives and breathes Cleveland, the kind of person who is going to eventually make this city work. I'm proud to include him in this series of interviews with Cleveland's best people.
1) How long have you been in Cleveland? And if you didn't grow up in Cleveland, where'd you relocate here from?
I was born in Cleveland. My family moved to Willowick when I was 4, and then to Chesterland when I was 12. I lived in Little Italy on Murray Hill my first year of law school at CWRU. Despite living in Chesterland for most of my life, and spending my working career in Geauga County, I felt it was important to locate Gotta Groove Records in Cleveland.
2) What is your favorite Cleveland memory?
Way too many to count, and even more that I've forgotten. Many nights coming out of the Beachland after watching yet another incredible show. Our 25 years of the baseball party known as "Armageddon", celebrating the opening of another Indian season. Saturday nights in the early 80's at The Euclid Tavern with Mr. Stress and the joint beginning to levitate around midnight. And for some reason, my first Browns game with my Dad, sometime in the early 60's when I was around 8. He was getting us a hot dog, and we were on the upper deck concourse of that monstrous stadium. My Dad was turned toward the concession stand, so he couldn't see me. Another kid my age was pushing paper hot dog wrappers over the edge onto the folks in the lower deck below. It seemed like it took forever for them to float down. That looked like fun, so I joined in. The policeman nearby did not seem to share our enthusiasm.
3) How does (if at all) Cleveland influence your work and/or art?
Cleveland was a city that works; that is, it had a strong manufacturing base, and that base provided the fuel for solid neighborhoods. We need to invest in and support manufacturing operations to help restore the city.
4) If it was your birthday and you decided to have a Cleveland-centric blow-out bash, how would you celebrate? That is, what would you do, where would you do it, etc.?
Rent out the Beachland. Have dinner catered by the Grovewood. Afterwards, a lineup of bands from Cleveland's past and present.
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?
I would try to tailor it to things I knew my friend had an interest. But, not knowing what friend, here's a pretty conventional list chock full of shameless plugs:
Breakfast- Tommy's in Coventry (OK, technically Cleveland Heights)t
Morning - A hike through Lake View Cemetery, climb to the observation platform on the Garfield Monument
Mid-morning- short tour of Gotta Groove Records, crack a beer out of the fridge from our neighbor, Indigo Imp
Lunch at Superior Pho.
Afternoon at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. You can be jaded and say the spirit of rock and roll can't live in an museum, but after a number of visits, I'd say it's there if you look in the right places. I've yet to hear anyone who visited say they were disappointed.
Dinner at the Great Lakes Brewing Company, or if feeling more upscale, head over to Momocho, or Crop, or Lola, or.................no shortage of great restaurants in town.
Catch a post-game show at Wilbert's or the Beachland. If the Beachland, check out what's new at Music Saves and Blue Arrow between sets.
6) What is something from another city you wish you could import to Cleveland?
San Francisco and Austin- the knowledge that you have a unique city, and you don't have to be the biggest city in the State to validate your existence.
Minneapolis, Boston, Chicago, NYC, Philly- Hey, it gets just as cold there, too, but we seem to complain about it more
Oz- the Wizard. We need a brain, heart and courage.
7) If you had the undivided attention of the mayor, city council, and county commissioners, what would be the one thing you'd ask for or tell them?
That while it's great to have wonderful sports and entertainment venues, fantastic restaurants, the best medical facilities, etc., it doesn't mean much if they are largely used by suburbanites who drive past the bulk of the city to get to them. We need to attract people to live in the city, but they aren't going to do so based upon solely service economy jobs. The city must be more aggressive in procuring manufacturing operations.
To meet Vince and check out the Gotta Groove plant for yourself, give him a shout at vinceATgottagrooverecords.com OR by phone at 877.383.2455.
And if you found this post interesting, check out previous Proper Noun of the Week conversations about Cleveland and culture with the following interesting folks: Frank Revy, Bill Rupnik, Mina Hoyle, Brendan Walton, Leia Alligator, Arabella Proffer, Becca Riker, Greg Ruffing, Mallorie Freeman, Dave Desimone, J.R. Bennett, Jeff & Mike from CLE Clothing Co, Paulius Nasvytis, Lawrence Daniel Caswell, Curtis Thompson, John Ewing, Shannon Okey, and John G, Sean Bilovecky, Dana Depew, Fred Wright, Amanda Montague, Ryan Weitzel, and Garrett Komyati.
4 years ago