Wednesday, November 4, 2009

open letter #5: Dear Cleveland

Dear Cleveland,

It's really hard to love you sometimes. All your empty homes and broken dreams, annually reselling our souls and our firstborns to men in suits who suck us dry, and girls go missing but no one pays attention because they're from "that side" of town. You get drunk and complain about your losing sports teams. You listen to the same old songs on WMMS or KISS FM. Like a codependent girlfriend, I just can't quit you. I don't mind that you haven't shaved or that you smell funky.

One of my friends tells me that you're like Detroit's younger sister... where she is in 5 years is where you'll be. I think about all those homes going for about what I pay in rent a month, the casinos like alien spaceships landing on a deserted civilization sucking the life out of the city. More people on the street, more desperation. The suburbanites say "oh this will give us something to do!" but they don't like going anywhere anyway because it's "too ghetto" once you hit even the inner ring suburbs.

I think about what you'll look like in a few years, bloated with the salaries of lazy self-serving civil servants, starved in every other way, filled with self-loathing as your lifeblood hemorrhages out of you, leaving behind streets of empty homes and sordid tales. I hope there's something left of you, that you don't die on me.

I sometimes feel like I'm in a dysfunctional relationship with you.


Rob said...

Well said.

Christine said...

I feel the same way. Particularly re: "this will give us something to do!" No, after the casino is built, they will complain that it's "too ghetto" and there's not enough parking.

I've always had a lot of hope for Cleveland. Its roots are good, its cultural foundation. Its people are my people. Well, my people voted for a casino, and I'm disheartened, because you can look at any Rust Belt city and see how little casinos have helped. I think that if I was still living elsewhere right now, the success of issue 3 would be the dealbreaker. I don't know if I'd come back. I wonder if our other wayward sons and daughters are feeling a little of that, too.

Randal Graves said...

Issue 2 bugs me more than 3, but everything will be alright as long as I get to hear Money or Brain Damage for the billionth time. I have become comfortably numb.

Tim Ferris said...

We need more people to get us from 370,000 in the city (county treasurer's more accurate estimate, not city council's bogus hypothetical) back to the 1.2 million we had when I was coming up. There's nothing wrong with this place that allowing more immigration wouldn't cure. Likewise, Detroit. However, this would undercut union jobs.

This is a city that is supposed to be densely populated, right by the water, with low tax rates and a huge labor pool, and lots of traffic in and out of Burke. We have all the basics, except for the people.

michael said...

please read my blog for my view "for heaven's cake" the big problem is corruption and the big business stranglehold thus we have browns stadium where parks should be we have idiotic anti small business like the shaker sq. debacle basically a food court with a CVS in the historic buildings.the list goes on forever.

Anonymous said...

Dear Blogger,

I feel your pain. The solution is to find another city to love. You can give all your youth, energy and passion to Cleveland, and it will bleed you dry. Yes, Cleveland has some interesting aspects to it, I myself have always enjoyed Cinematheque, Westside Market, the Orchestra, etc.; however, it is the attitude of people and the overall economic climate that cannot overcome a couple of hotspots. Move on and move up.

independentblogger said...

Great post!

Cleveland's story doesn't have to be a tragedy. I just did a 4 part series 'On Fixing Cleveland' in my blog. I believe we could turn Cleveland (and the rest of North East Ohio around if we got cooperated regionally, fostered business and did basic things to make the region's inner cities better to live in. We could make a significant beginning in this without spending too much money.

Sharon McMillan said...

I agree with Tim Ferris. When we moved to Cleveland as a young adults I was surprised how similar it was to my home city (Toronto). Situated by the lake, interesting neighborhoods, strong cultural foundation and decent infrastructure.

We've since left Cleveland to return to Toronto and you know the only real difference I see (having a lasting impact - good and bad) is the lack of people - specifically a hungry percentage of immigrants who often have the vision and energy 3rd and 4th generation-ers don't have.

Do we have inefficiencies in city government and even corruption? Check. Do we have crime? Check. Do economic development gurus telling us what we should be doing for hefty fees? Check, check. In fact, Richard Florida lives here a good portion of time as he is part of a Prosperity Development Institute linked to our University's business school.

I believe professors at Cleveland State were looking at Cleveland's past to revitalize the region's traditional focus on attracting immigrants to the city. That's where a good deal of the focus should be directed.