Friday, October 30, 2009

all souls

I'm not the world's biggest fan of Halloween, never got into the whole turning my yard into a place of reenacted ritual slaughter and whatnot, but little kids in costumes are so freakin' cute and I honestly think the day is what you make of it. Every day is a gift from God and I don't see why people make such a big deal about this day being so dark and evil.

I grew up Catholic-turned-evangelical, and the Catholics I know don't talk about how Satanic the day is. Heck, at St. Bridget's we could wear costumes instead of our school uniforms that day and that was awesome.

I wasn't allowed to tell the other kids I was friends with that we went trick-or-treating because even though we saw it as you get to express your creativity and make the elderly neighbors happy, this of course would lead to future teenage devil worship, what with that and my dad's Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath records. He explained to me once that not only did early Sabbath rock, it was more of a political thing than anything else.

I'd meet other kids whose parents told them the same thing. Never underestimate the power of peer pressure on our parents. I was told that as long as I wasn't anything "bad" I could do whatever I want, and then came up with costumes like Cleopatra and a flamenco dancer and a geisha, none of which I have the coloring to pull off but you'd have one of those nylon colorful jackets on anyway since it was the 90s and we live where it's cold.

Halloween was the biggest holiday ever when I was at Kent and I only went out for the big street celebration once. That was enough for me, honestly, since I didn't drink back then and found the sheer mass of drunk people overwhelming and ended up wondering how many girls were going to get date-raped later on that night. Not to mention the local cult with their megaphones and posters of Jesus with a machine gun yelling through megaphones and the Hare Krishnas chanting across the street.

My friend Josh and I used to carve pumpkins and throw in leftover supermarket pyrotechnics of various kinds and the kids with too much time on their hands and a video camera take this just a bit further...

So at church tomorrow night we're throwing the 5th annual "Holy Ghost Party" where the kids from the neighborhood get the chance to walk through, get good candy, and play games. After that I might hit up the Sachsenheim for music and merriment along the lines of local talent and people dancing with fire.

Evidently there's a market for "graveyard tourism" which makes a whole lot of sense because old cemeteries are awesome. I would totally take a road trip and go to old cemeteries but I wouldn't want to go in a group and I sure wouldn't want to go around Halloween.

Then again, I don't know what it says about me or my city when people ask what cool places there are to check out and you recommend the Funwall and Lake View Cemetery... abandoned factory complexes and graveyards, you know, good times.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

best of the blotter: beagles, rusty cars, and leaves of grass

SUSPICIOUS, HASKINS ROAD: A resident complained of several loud explosions that shook the house over a three-hour period Saturday night. Police solved the mystery after receiving a noise complaint call from another resident that pointed to several teens in a nearby park. They were attempting to determine how far away their car’s high-performance stereos could be heard.

SUSPICIOUS ANIMAL, FRENCH CREEK ROAD: A woman called police Oct. 17 to say that a “beagle” was playing in the lot of St. Clement’s church, preventing her from getting out of her car. Squads arriving on the scene discovered that the dog was in fact a pit bull and took it into custody, pending further investigation.

SUSPICIOUS VEHICLE, WALNUT CREEK DRIVE: An anonymous caller reported Friday that a red pick-up truck parked near her home was making the neighborhood look “crappy.”

MENACING, ACADEMY DRIVE: A resident reported Oct. 12 that the owner of landscaping company threatened him during a dispute. The owner allegedly threatened to kill all the grass at the resident’s house.

Monday, October 26, 2009

high culture, low class

Lindsay had to go see a play at the Cleveland Public Theater for her English class so we checked it out Friday night. Evidently the pay-what-you-can thing is hard to actually pull off in real life, and we felt a little scammed by $19 student tickets. I know one should be supporting the independent arts, but really now...

I know its intent was supposed to be some metaphysical Appalachian gothic tale of grief and loss, but it just came across as profoundly cliched and absurd. Maybe that was the point. I couldn't stand any of the characters (crazy wife lady, psycho next door neighbor who keeps yelling "I AM THE LAW!," husband who goes and cheats on her but actually makes more sense than anyone else).

And honestly, I found the whole Appalachian thing kind of insulting (especially since I've got loads of extended family down in St. Clairsville)> But it seemed like the writer watched "Deliverance" a few too many times and decided to try and make it all deep and literary. Shotguns, bad accents, Jack Daniels, ignorance about doctors and technology, cheatin' on yer wife down at the pool hall? PLEASE.

The two of us being English majors of course meant that we took a walk around the neighborhood and spent the rest of the evening at IHOP eating pancakes, drinking coffee, and gleefully deconstructing. So all was not lost. We were immensely entertained.

I'm convinced that as a writer you have to either be doing serious research or write what you know, because if you don't, it's almost always a disaster.

Friday, October 23, 2009

To throw away the pen and pad and simply be the poem

I wasn't planning on doing much last night.

I had a radio station meeting that I had to go to and unlike most times after sundown during the week when the city is deserted, there was both the circus and Jay-Z downtown. It actually felt like we lived in a thriving metropolis for a little bit there.

I had a ticket to the Saul Williams show last night and wasn't feeling terribly motivated but then me and a fellow DJ stopped at A.J. Rocco's and I got some caffeine in me and then we caught the show downtown.

I am so glad I went.

I missed Saul when he came to Kent State, and I've missed him at least three times since I moved back to Cleveland and he is easily one of the most charismatic performers I've ever seen, wish I could put words together and make them powerful, enunciate them like that. And he covered one of my favorite U2 songs:

I wasn't feeling the other acts so much so I used that time to run to the restroom where this random girl from Akron got talking to me. She was either very friendly or somewhat inebriated because she ended up going up to him as he was chilling in the hallway and we ended up hanging out with him while the other band was going on. I didn't really say too much because I could barely hear but he talked about his kids and Paris.

So yeah, glad I stayed out that night...

"...To manifest your dreams before you manifest your fears
To navigate beyond the treachery of self despair
To find the balance between all you sense and all you see
To find the patience and the strength it takes to let it be
To stand amongst the crowd and have the strength to hold your own
To throw away the pen and pad and simply be the poem
To rise above hatred to love through seeming contradiction
To seldom take a side and learn to compliment the friction.
To bring about the change within that we can't live without.
To shift and re-arrange ideals and learn to deal with doubt..."

Friday, October 16, 2009

best of the blotter: Dr Dre & the Drano Bombs

This one was passed onto me by a coworker.

HUNTINGTON BEACH -- Police responded to a call that several people were arguing outside an apartment complex at 5:20 a.m. about who sold the most albums: The Beatles or Dr. Dre.

Police told them it was The Beatles, which ended the argument, according to police documents about the Saturday incident in the 17100 block of Oak Lane.

The people agreed to go back inside their apartment and be quiet, Huntington Beach police spokesman Lt. Russell Reinhart said.

"The officers are always trying to resolve disputes when they go to calls like this," Reinhart said. "For this call, at 5:20 in the morning, this is what worked."

A quick Internet search shows that The Beatles sold about a billion albums and Dr. Dre sold about 80 million.

And a little bit closer to home...

THEFT, MIRAMAR BOULEVARD: Someone stole from a woman’s lawn several rented yard displays posted in honor of a child’s birthday. The display cost $100 to rent, and owners of the company that rents the display said it would cost $150 to replace the sign, and another $250 to remake the plywood alien heads and smiley faces stolen. The theft was reported the morning of Sept. 19.

SUSPICIOUS SITUATION: A caller reported seeing three fingers sticking through the blind of a storage facility on Royalton Road Friday night.

The fingers are part of a fake hand that has been there about five years, a report said.

FIREWORKS COMPLAINT: Residents on Stoughton Drive complained July 21 about neighbors setting off fireworks, but police found the culprits were exploding "Drano bombs," not fireworks.

The suspects had left when police arrived. They questioned the neighbors, who said they had come out to investigate, but the explosives were set off by two boys who rode away on bikes.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Open Letter #4

Dear Cleveland Municipal Court

You suck.

It must be nice to only show up to work 7 hours a week and take home $150,000 a year and then some for not doing anything and having a crappy website that doesn't work and hasn't been updated and for leaving you on hold for indefinite amounts of time when you finally DO get through, we get to deal with your minions who don't know anything except how to be rude and bureaucratic. Yay nepotism. Too bad I'm not Democrat so I can't get a slice of that pie.

I know we're poor and all and it seems like there's a lot of revenue generating action going on right now at $190 a pop since evidently the traffic cameras aren't doing the trick anymore. I got pulled over a few weeks ago, my brother-in-law got a ticket, my dad got pulled over, and you'd think that there'd be, you know, bigger problems in the area, like, you know, gangs and slumlords and crack and people getting murdered.

Hello? We're in Cleveland. We're poor. You might not realize this because you're taking so much of our paychecks. But most of us can't come up with that kind of money. Heck, most of us can't afford to take the RTA anymore.

So I call your office of to see if I can mail in my ticket and check and you say it takes 7-10 days to get there. I got my ticket on Saturday and my court date is this Friday.

Awesome. It REALLY takes that long for the mail to get there? What the HELL do you do all day? Because I have a desk job too and I KNOW it doesn't take mail that long to get there.

Thank GOD I didn't mail in that ticket the same day and hope it'd get there in time.

As for you, thanks for nothing.

playlist 10/13/09

twilight singers- teenage wristband
duke spirit - dog roses
martina topley-bird - too tough to die
morphine - let's take a trip together
dead weather - will there be enough water?
locos por juana - tantas veces
angelique kidjo - gimme shelter
extra golden - tusslin' & fightin'
the meters - people say
soul coughing - soft serve
nneka - africans
joe strummer & the mescaleros - tony adams
dennis brown - concentration
mariam makeba - ndodemnyama verwoerd
blessings nqo - isigungugungu
pharaoh's daughter - askinu
boubacar traore - baba drama
nahawa doumbia - sifolo
lobi traore - wolodemu
malatu astatke - asmarina
djeli - almany
ali farka toure - yer bounda fara
rasha - azara el hay
ataxia - the sides
cafe tacuba - encantamiento inutil

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

playlist 10/6/09

ben harper - whipping boy
oumou sangare - djorolen
massive attack - 5 man army
jurassic 5 - remember his name
the fugees - fu-gee-la
pete rock & c l smooth - on and on
p.o.s. - goodbye
martin luther - sleep walking
k'naan - struggling
morcheeba - blindfold
calla - televise
pigeonhed - marry me
gutter twins - who will lead us?
daby toure - baye
ngata - telele
tinariwen - chet boghassa
djezair - kadda cherif hadria
d.o. misiani - atila mi japonesa
abaji - gibran
les troubadours du roi baudoin - credo
green arrows - huringwe
wendo kolosoy - toko wela wela
nahawa doumbia - minia
amadou & mariam - lailahallah
jane's addiction - summertime rolls

Monday, October 5, 2009

alive in the superunknown

I haven't done much all week, coming home and crashing on the couch, not going anywhere except to the store to get Theraflu and gallons of orange juice for me and the roommate.

I was finally able to get out of my blueness this weekend, going back to Parma to hang out with my mom and then hit up my old familiar haunts from my adolescence, visiting the library I used to work at as a page, giving up on the clothes racks at the Goodwill but finding copies of "Dirt" and "Superunknown" to rock out to in the car on my way down to Cuyahoga Falls to catch up with some people, pick up the roommate, and take a long drive with some good tuneage. It's amazing therapy and now that the weather is getting colder, I'm totally ready to dig out the flannel I more or less permanently borrowed from my dad.

Sunday was fabulous, as Lindsay and I went to see Neil Gaiman speak at CPL. Of course he was wonderful and read to us from his new book and talked about how he loved C.S. Lewis and Lord of the Rings as a kid. The people-watching was fabulous and we ducked out during autograph time to grab a pizza at Georgio's because we were starving.

I got Neil's autograph for Randal and then we went forth to get lost in East Cleveland and she took pictures of overgrown lawns and random signage. I would've too if I'd been able to find my camera that morning. Everything seemed to be glowing and golden even if we were in an area that most would see as anything but.

And for some reason I feel like posting this for the heck of it because it's just good in that fuzzed-out early 90's should've been bigger Northwest kind of way.