Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Fousesquawk Travel Destinations-Cleveland
Yes, Cleveland. If you're thinking of taking a vacation this year and don't have a dime, consider Cleveland. Now don't believe all those skeptics who call it the "Mistake by the Lake". The only reason they call it that is because they couldn't think of a body of water that rhymes with catastrophe.
Cleveland, for all you UC Santa Cruz Community Studies majors, used to be the 4th largest city in the US. That was before Global Warming struck. That's right. About 40 years ago, Lake Dreerie actually caught on fire. They say Al Gore was there watching his favorite football team, the Browns, in sub-freezing weather when it happened. Suddenly Al had a vision that Cleveland was actually going to melt. The rest is history. Al and about half a million other folks got out of town. The others made a better life for themselves somewhere else. Al? Well, you know how that turned out.
* Correction: Actually, it was the Cuyahoga River that caught fire, but who's quibbling?
Cuyahoga River burning. Cleveland's answer to Pittsburgh's "Light up Night".
But I digress, Let's get back to Cleveland (figuratively, I mean). In fact, let's talk about those Browns and the rest of the Cleveland sporting scene.
"Daddy, what's a Brown?"
I'm glad you asked. Back in the 1950s, the Browns were a powerhouse in the NFL. People said they were named after their coach, Paul Brown, or their great running back, Jim Brown. Nowadays, we know the real reason, don't we? If you venture outside the stadium and wander over to the banks of Lake Dreerie, you can see the real source of the name floating along the surface.
But if you happen to go to Cleveland during the peak season, you can catch a Browns game. I recommend an end zone seat in the section called the Dawg Pound, where you can discuss Goethe during half-time and make lifelong friends. Be sure and wear a Steeler jersey. You'll be amazed at all the free beer you get.
Then there is Cleveland's baseball team, the Indians. They haven't won a World Series since Charley Sheen was pitching for them. In fact, only one other franchise has gone longer.........
Well, never mind.
I remember fondly when the Indians (and Browns) used to play in the old Municipal Stadium, a cavernous structure that held some 85,000 fans. It had an open end so the wind from Lake Dreerie could blow through and cool the fans.
Scenic images of Municipal Stadium
When I was working with DEA in the late 80s in Pittsburgh (a grand town), I had to drive up to Cleveland to visit the local DEA office. While I was there, the agents were planning an enforcement operation for that evening. While they were picking an address to raid out of the local phone book*, I decided to catch an Indians game since the old ballpark was right down the street. I walked right up to the ticket window and bought a ticket smack dab behind the 3rd base dugout. There were only about 5,000 people there in a stadium that held 85,000. I left after about the 3rd inning feeling an urgent desire to get back to Pittsburgh.
* (Just kidding.)
Nowadays, the only thing interesting about the team is their name and mascot......
which has outraged real Indians for decades.
Did I mention Cleveland also has a basketball team? Yes, the Cavaliers, which was the NBA's answer to the Browns and Indians until LeBron James came along and made them a contender. Then he left for Miami and it's Browns-Indians-Cavs time again in Cleveland. Some people couldn't understand why James left the Cavs since he was a local native. They've answered their own question.
Hockey? For some unknown reason, Cleveland can't seem to attract an NHL franchise. Go figure.
Enough about sports. One thing you will love about Cleveland is the fantastic architecture, which they say inspired Stalin (or was it the other way around?)
Bet ya can't tell which is which.
Cleveland also has a proud political history. Believe it or not, Dennis Kucinich was actually mayor of Cleveland before he was old enough to vote. Seems like only yesterday.
Cleveland also prides itself on being "an ethnic" city. On one side there are whites, and on the other, blacks. There was a Ukrainian guy living there named John Demjanjuk, but he was deported back to Europe. Something about him being "Ivan the Trerrible" a Nazi concentration camp guard.
Other attractions? Well....did I mention the stadiums? I did. Oh yeah! There is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, where you can see pictures of Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley and other legends right up to the latest stars like LL Cool Jay, Tupac Shakur, 6-Pack Johnson, Little Stevie Tyler, Bobby Brown, Eddie MSNBC Schultz, Molly Ivans, and so many others.
I can't think of any other landmarks right now, but Cleveland reportedly has more union hqs' that any other American city. If you drop my name, you'll get in free and be given a tour of the joint. They'll probably even show you their back room where they work people over.
But if you plan to go to Cleveland, you'd better book your hotel reservations fast. The hotels are closing down faster than a Charley Sheen fastball.