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This is My City

And I love it.

Yesterday, I took my fam to the coolest thing. We got to walk the deck under the Detroit-Superior Bridge. The deck used to house the “subway” portion of the old streetcar line. According to the tiny little “article” in the Plain Dealer two days prior, Cuyahoga County Department of Public Works has been opening this deck once a year, usually on the fourth of July weekend, for about 10 years.

This was my first visit. I never heard of the type of opening like they had yesterday. However, I knew that a few Ingenuity Fests were held on this deck. I wasn’t able to make those Ingenuity Fests and the current year’s site is the lakefront. I heard a lot of noise about possibly opening up the deck to bikers and pedestrians. I don’t see that as a doable task. The security and safety issues are huge. Therefore, I didn’t think I’d ever get to explore this area. So when I saw the tiny little article about this being open, I was so excited. And thankfully, my family’s Saturday morning was baseball and softball game free. That is super rare for a Saturday in July, so I figure this was meant to be.

The “open house” started at 9 am and we showed up at 11. It was packed. Everyone was sporting at least a cell phone camera, and many people had tripods and massive camera bags. The views from the bridge were amazing. And the views of the underbelly of the bridge were equally so.

There was an old streetcar, appropriately named Desire. People weren’t allowed in this but there was an old engine car and a cut-open passenger car that were open for people to crawl around in.

Most of the tracks have long been removed. The wire grid, of which most of the “floor” of the bridge is composed, is covered with sheets of plywood. It was disconcerting for my children to walk out on these plywood sheets as one could clearly see how far below the river is when one got to the joins of the sheets. Heck, it was a bit scary for me also. The rumbling of the traffic overhead and the flimsy nature of plywood sheets can certainly make one feel vulnerable.

We spent about 2 hours walking the span. We went east on the lower deck but walked on the sidewalk on our way back west.

In two hours, we took over 200 pictures. I have some great shots of the sailboats framed under stunning, arching bridges in the mouth of the Cuyahoga. I have amazing pictures of the structure of the bridge itself.

My kids don’t appreciate it now, but once day they will. Hopefully they’ll continue this tradition because I want to go back. I absolutely have to bring a better camera next time.

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Party on the Patio

So this past Friday, my local paper, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, published a patio list. There was a top 10 and 40 “also rans”.

From the top 10, I have to agree with Shooter’s. Back when the Flats were cool, I was here once a week. But the Flats haven’t been cool in 20 years. I haven’t been to any of the others, although I’ve been dying to try Stone Mad. None of the others are even on my radar, even after reading the article.

Of the other 40, Prosperity Social Club, The South Side, Town Hall Café, Treehouse, and Twist are completely great picks. But there are plenty of missed patios.

Here are no-brainers that were omitted:

  • Fatheads – Ok, granted, it’s not for mingling, there’s no external bar. But it is a patio of which I’m particularly fond. I spend a good deal of time on it. The food is great and the beers are better.
  • Panini’s in Westlake – This is a patio to write home about. This is a patio to which other patios aspire. It’s immense. The outside bar is immense. There are multiple sand volleyball courts. I LOVE this place. The only way it could be better is to serve craft beers and gastropub food, but that’s because those are MY things. It’s a solid bar with decent enough beer selections, Sam Adam’s summer ale, Blue Moon, Great Lakes Dortmunder, etc. And the food is good quality bar food. Panini’s is good at what it does.
  • Panini’s in Euclid – This is pretty close to my work so I’ve spent many a Friday evening playing cornhole and tossing back beers with my coworkers here. The patio is not even half the size of the one at Panini’s in Westlake, but that makes it no less enjoyable.
  • Market Restaurant and Bar – The patio here is excellent. Good food, good drinks. I’ve only been here once because it’s not in my normal traffic pattern, but I enjoyed it
  • Cleats in Westlake – This is another patio that’s not really set up for mingling as there’s no external bar. However, it’s a great spot to sit with good friends and enjoy a nice Cleveland night. The wings are excellent and the big named beers are reasonably priced.
  • Stampers – I used to think this place rather sucked. My dad likes it though and always chose this as a place to meet for dinner and drinks. Boy has my opinion changed over the last several years. First, they started adding more craft beers. Nice Belgian beers. Then they improved the menu. What were once average corner bar offerings are now excellent corner bar offerings (the tacos and fries are excellent) and there are some pretty excellent gastropub type items also. The outdoor bar is really nice, and covered in case of a bout of Cleveland weather. Now when I go here, on my own, I can even find beer selections I’ve never even heard of! One of my new favs.
  • Burntwood Tavern – Must be honest, I haven’t been here since it was the Pub. I went to stop in a few times, but between the prices, menu choices, and older clientele, I opted to try elsewhere. Regardless, that beautiful patio with the wrought iron cannot be undone.
  • Mulligan’s in Avon – Huge patio. They have live music inside. Food and beer are the normal bar selections but it’s all executed well.
  • Muldoon’s on 185 – I have been going here, not by my choice, for almost twenty years. I actually hated this place. The food was fried and fried again. But it’s a favorite of many locals. So, time and again, this is THE spot to go to for lunch. I wasn’t a fan, so I begged off for the last 7 or 8 years, until last week. So many improvements. The menu has improved so much; the beer selection has improved so much. The patio is lovely. You completely forget where you are. Now I will completely be attending work lunches at this great spot.
  • McNulty’s Bier Market – This patio is packed, the neighborhood Is alive, and the people watching is fantastic. The beer selections are excellent and the food is too.
  • Tremont Tavern – I’ve only been on this patio in December, for the Santa Shuffle. It’s amazing even then. And super crowded. I need to stop and sit here in the summer. It just has to be amazing.
  • Viva Fernando – It attracts a much older crowd, but it’s an undeniably nice patio. I’ve been here with my dad. There are often live bands here. And dancing. My dad loves to dance. If you want to dance to a live band with a mostly 50+ crowd, this, this is your patio.
  • Scotti’s – This has to be the most surprising, delightful patio in all of Cleveland. You go through this long, narrow, dated restaurant to this secluded, trellis-ed, patio. It’s a magical little place. Be warned, Scotti’s is cash only. But the calzones are huge and delicious.
  • Bistro 185th – Ok, so the patio is not much of a patio. And being right on 185, albeit behind a high privacy fence, traffic can be distractingly loud. But the food is soooo good. And the drinks. I ordered a blueberry mojito. The bartender went to the roof for fresh mint and muddled the blueberries by hand.
  • Harry Buffalo at Great Northern – I haven’t eaten here. I don’t know why. I adore the outdoor bar. Everytime I pass this, I say “I need to be on that patio”. But so many patios, so little money. Maybe that will be my next outing.
  • Brio at Crocker Park – I love to people watch here. Actually, most patios at Crocker Park are fabulous people-watching spots. And the outdoor bar specials during happy hour are yummy; I’ve had them all and can’t remember a bad pick.
  • Vieng’s at Crocker Park – This may be the only patio at Crocker Park without the people-watching bonus. The patio is large and off the sidewalk. There’s a beautiful outdoor fireplace. It’s a great romantic dinner spot.
  • Brew Garden – This place has been changed hands a lot, which is strange because the location is good, right in front of a Regal Cinema, and the patio is big and pretty. The outdoor bar is pretty big and there are lots of opportunities to socialize with people not in your party. I haven’t visited in the current incarnation because it’s out of my normal travel pattern, but when out that way, this is on the short list of places to stop.

When I went to Montreal about 7 years ago, one of my favorite things was that every place, even the littlest hole, had outdoor eating. And flowers. Just flowers everywhere. At the time, Cleveland just really didn’t have a ton of patios. And the ones that were here tended to be pretty utilitarian. Wow that has changed. It’s fantastic. And so much better than that hacky list in the paper would indicate.

Public Art: Year of the Snake 2013

Every year in the St. Clair – Superior neighborhood, also called Asiatown (both of which are part of the larger Midtown section of Cleveland), twenty some Chinese zodiac sculptures are erected for a few short months. This year, is the Year of the Snake. As one of my immediate family members is a snake, we made sure go on a scavenger hunt to see all the sculptures.

I tried to find some history on this annual occurrence but have come up empty. The oldest sculptures I’ve seen are from the Year of the Dog in 2006. I have never seen any sculptures from the Year of the Pig, 2007 in person but one can still find many sculptures from Year of the Rat 2008 on display. My family did scavenger hunts for the Year of the Ox 2009 and the Year of the Tiger 2010. We completely missed the Year of the Rabbit 2011 and the Year of the Dragon 2012 but I found great pictures. I wish the sculptures were up longer.

If you would like to go on your own scavenger hunt, you get the list of sites here. It’s so worth it. When we went today, I included photographed and Dragons and Rabbits I found. If you only have time to make one or two stops, the best place to go is Technical College. There are a couple tigers, a couple rabbits, a dog, an ox, a snake and there is another snake right around the corner at Horsbough and Scott. It’s fantastic. The best place to see a bunch of snakes all in one stop is Asia Plaza, of course, as there are 5 displayed together.

I hope you enjoy my pictures.

The Feathered Serpeant

601 Lakeside Ave E

Golden Tut
1900 Superior Ave

Unexpected Stitch

East 30th Street, outside of Asia Plaza

Cloisonnake
East 30th Street, outside of Asia Plaza

Python reticulatus
East 30th Street, outside of Asia Plaza

Naga; Sagacity Snake
East 30th Street, outside of Asia Plaza

Rocky B. Boa
East 30th Street, outside of Asia Plaza

Madame White Snake
3615 Superior Ave

Serpentes the Sorcerer
3820 Superior Ave

Technicolor Serpeant
3951 St. Clair Ave

Painterly Post Modern Dragon
3951 St. Clair Ave

Golden Heart Rabbit
3951 St. Clair Ave

Blossom
4058 St. Clair

Dragon Pillar

4058 St. Clair – so sad to see this sculpture so ill used

Zig Zag
4515 St. Clair Ave

Copperhead
St. Clair between E 49th and E 53rd

Aqua Snake

1419 E. 40th St

The Guardian

1614 E. 40th St

Treasured Snake

3601 Chester Ave

Blue Racer
3711 Chester Ave

Foo Guard – The Blessing Guard

4005 Chester Ave

Don’t Tread on Me

1374 E. 51st St

Jack Rabbit

1374 E. 51st St

Quick Vic

1374 E. 51st St

The Great Lake Snake
1201 E. 55th St

Nuwa, the Snake Goddess
1274 E. 55th St

Coiffured Cobra
6016 St. Clair Ave

Transformation

6025 St. Clair Ave

Name Your Poison
6409 St. Clair Ave

Look Before You Leap
6111 Lausche Ave

Fatheads Part 142?

I love Fatheads. It’s within walking distance of my house and the food and beer is amazing. We go about once a month or more. Usually our visits are just my husband and I stopping in for a few beers.

My little son just had a birthday. The children are allowed to pick a meal out as part of their present. Imagine my pleasure when my son picked Fatheads for his dining out choice. He’s happy, the other 2 kids are happy, my husband’s happy. Everyone is happy.

They had some really amazing specials when we went: lobster crab sandwich, fried pickles, some chicken prosciutto panini thing. We tried all of that. The bacon cheese fries are good but they need to banish that cheese in a can and melt real cheese over the fries. Cheese in a can is only acceptable on food bought from a movie theater, bowling alley, gas station, or Taco Bell. It’s still not good at any of those places, but it is expected.

The best thing about our trip is always the beers. It has been a while since we had visited and there were a ton of new beers to try. So we did. We got samples of:

  • Fathead’s Udderly S”moo”th Milk Stout
  • Fatheads Head Trip Belgian Tripel
  • Fathead’s Rye’s Guyz
  • Fathead’s Antagonizor Doppelbock
  • Fathead’s Pimp My Sleigh

Our favorite kinds of beers are wheats (particularly unfiltered weizens) and Belgians. We tend to dislike hoppy beers, especially IPAs.

Out of the 5 samples in our first order, I couldn’t pick a favorite. I couldn’t even pick a least favorite. My husband could, he doesn’t really like stouts. These were all so good. The most surprising one was the Rye’s Guyz. I’ve had only one rye beer before and I hated it. The rye flavor was completely overpowering. This tasted like a hefeweizen with a kick.

We decided that we needed a few more samples. Our next round of samples was:

  • Fathead’s Holly Jolly Christmas Ale
  • Bell’s Christmas Ale
  • Boulder Brewing Business Time

And my husband got a Fathead’s Alpenglow Weizenbock. No sample there. It’s one of his favorite beers. They don’t have it all the time so when they do, he orders it.

This batch of samples was not as good. I would not go out of my way to order any of these again. They are all good, but not outstanding. Next to the first batch, they were disappointing. But that is a very high standard.

The food was excellent. In addition to the food I listed above, we also ordered the pulled pork burrito and a meatlover’s pizza. The only complaint is with the bacon cheese fries. Our waitress was great. The service can be less than exemplary here. It’s fine when I’m sitting at the bar and it’s just my husband and me. It’s not fine at all when I have a table of children. I need to be sure we request this server’s section when we come.

After our meal, my son and I decided to jog home. We left the others to take care of the check and all the leftover containers.

We had the best time jogging home and I can pretend that worked off some of that beer. What a fantastic adventure.

Evil Dead, the Musical

(originally posted 10/20/2008)

I spend a lot of time at a local community theater.  I haven’t gone to any of its shows (except the recitals for my kids); I go because it offers many classes in many different artistic endeavors (dance, theater, musical instruments, voice, painting, sculpting, etc).  My local community theater is a wonderful resource for keeping my kids busy and learning.

When I went to sign my oldest, Thing 1,  up for some art lessons, I saw the 2008/2009 season’s list of productions on the wall.  I usually just ignore this because I don’t go to see live theater much (I would love to change that, growing up, my mom used to take me relatively frequently.  I love live theater, ballet, opera, the symphony, etc.  It’s just to hard and expensive –  to buy tickets, pay for parking, find & pay for a babysitter, it’s hard).

So I’m standing at the box office, paying for art lessons, and something on the upcoming productions list catches my eye.  One of the productions is “Evil Dead”.  So, I asked the teenager behind that counter “Evil Dead like the movie?”  And the girl tells me yes.  So I ask “Evil Dead, like the kids go in the woods and get killed by evil spirits?”  (But I was thinking, chubby girl gets raped by a tree Evil Dead?)  And again I am told that this is the same Evil Dead.  Then the girl tells me that not only is this an adaptation of Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead, this version is a musical.  OMG!!!!!

I’ve done a little research on the web (very little) and saw that this musical ran for a while in Toronto.  In fact, according to the Evil Dead the Musical website, this was the longest running show in Canada in the last 15 years.  I’m too lazy to verify this claim or to look up how long the show ran so I’ll take the website’s author(s) at his(their) word.

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Dick Tricks, Obscene Interiors, and Shoparooni

(originally posted 10/18/2008)

If you ever get a chance, you need to check out this store called Shoparooni.  You, yes, whoever you are, reading this, should check it out.  The website is cool, but the store and the owners are cooler.  It’s in this neighborhood that undergoing revitalization (crime-ridden).  Seriously though, there are a bunch of funky little places right around this store.

I saw a few articles about this place in some local publications and it just had such an odd array of merchandise that I needed to go.  I initially tried stopping in at lunch, but they don’t open until 2 pm on weekdays so that didn’t work.  But, one day I stopped on the way home from work – I really needed some funny that day.

The store is gorgeous.  Everything is white and minimalistic and there is a huge skylight in the middle of the store.  So, just walking into the store made me happy.  But then, the assortment of odd products really made me happy.

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Marketing 101 & the Sorry State of Newspapers in Cleveland

(originally posted 9/23/2008)

Now, based on my blog topics, it may not seem like it, but I went to school.  Actually, I received very good marks in school. Immaturity and intelligence can live together.  They fight a lot, and immaturity usually wins (this explains so much about me) but they can coexist, albeit uneasily.

Anyway, I have a business degree, from a real, accredited university that I won’t name (to spare them the shame).  And during the course of my schooling, I took several marketing classes.  One of the most basic rules in marketing is: know your audience.

So I have to wonder who wrote the genius contest/slogan I Get it Everyday.  Now this is not a slogan for a product advertised at night on FOX.  This would be a very good slogan for some “male enhancement” and energy drink combination pill.  I Get it Everyday when I drink my Enzbull ™  male enhancement energy soda.

Unfortunately, this slogan is for some promotion to increase daily readership of my local newspaper, The Cleveland Plain Dealer.  I wish that I were joking.  I’m not sure exactly why they changed the slogan.  The old slogan (miss a day, miss a lot) was much less…. um, how about: inappropriate, suggestive, just plain wrong.

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