I have recently been offered a position somewhere in the general area of Cleveland, Ohio and I wanted to put a few things forward. Much as I would like this job, which involves writing and editing in some manner, I do have some requirements for the position. Not the least of which is the simple fact that Cleveland must stop sucking.
I grew up in the general Clevelandish area, in a god-awful place known as Northfield (yes, by the racetrack) and I used to defend the city vociferously. However, a few years away have taught me a few things and I have come to the conclusion that the city of Cleveland must stop sucking in order to be taken seriously.
I know, I know, all you Cleveland people out there are saying, "Cleveland is awesome! It's got (name of something nobody notices) and (something nobody visits) and (something nobody cares about)," but nobody outside the city is buying it. Cleveland must get its head out of its ass and start getting on the bus of non-suckitude.
Thus, I have a few resolutions for the city of Cleveland. Think of them as points of future pride. Read this list and resolve accordingly.
Suck it up and deal with it, Cleveland is a dump. Stop defending your city as though it is some sort of holy crusade to make everyone love the Mistake by the Lake. Nobody does (except Clevelanders) and nobody will until the city stops sucking. When somebody says something bad out the reclaimed swampland you live on (read the history), just smile, nod, and take it as a lesson. There is a reason for this.
Simply put, when everyone else in every other city thinks Cleveland is a steaming pile -- but Clevelanders think it's still awesome -- you are outnumbered. We live in a democracy. When every other city in the nation thinks your city sucks, they may be on to something. Take pride in the fact that you have no pride, then suck it up, take the barbs and stop living up to them.
Alright, so you make some good money, but you live about 75 miles from the actual city. Tip for you, you don't live in Cleveland. You live in Mansfield. If you are so proud of the city, why are you living so far away from it?
This is because Cleveland is the poorest city in the nation. Yes, the news is out, the city is broke. Much as I've heard all the arguments, "But everybody lives in the outskirts and in the suburbs." These arguments are bullshit. Detroit was on the same list and there isn't anybody in that entire city who actually wants to live there. When you can move ahead of Newark on the poorest city list, you are not doing well. Clevelanders take note: nobody in Newark is actually proud of being in Newark. In fact, they have developed an unintelligible accept so that, when they say they are from Newark, people will think they said, "New York".
I can't even tell you how many times I've driven up I-71 and been forced to deal with the stink of sulfur before arriving in the grimy streets of the Cleveland. For the love of God, what the fuck is that?! I drive up, I smell some miserable stink arising from the factories and mills down in the valley below I-71 and I can't believe that is the introduction a major city actually provides to its visitors. All the factories are shut down, how the hell can it stink that bad? Which bring me to the next point:
That's right, unless a World War breaks out and we somehow are forced to live without steel from China, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Germany, France, Mexico or Canada, American steel is deader than King Tut. Move on, for the love of God.
Really, what the hell is with that? I've seen West Virginia backroads that are more driveable than the roads in downtown Cleveland. Did the city just keep throwing shovels of tar on top of wagon trails until the downtown arose, or was there an actual plan to turn the city into an off-road course? The Via Appia is kept up better than Euclid Avenue. Do something.
That's right, it's time to get with the program and give up the name Cleveland Indians. Instead, the baseball team should honor the shipping history of the city and change their name to the Cleveland Steamers. That would adequately describe the level of play that the baseball team is accustomed to, if nothing else. Which bring me to my next point:
I have heard a lot of Cleveland Indians fans complain about the fact that the Yankees can buy a World Series title. And I have heard Cleveland fans complains about the fact that the Marlins bought a title in '99. That's nice. So you're saying that Cleveland is a small market team and is too poor to afford a title team? But didn't you just say that the economy in Cleveland is perfectly fine?
If World Series titles can be bought, why ain't the Indians paying? Or for that matter, why are the Cavaliers blowing money on rejects and retards to put around LeBron, and why are the Browns not getting good talent? With all those top-3 draft picks in their most recent history, you'd think that some of them would have panned out by now. Which reminds me:
Unless he comes from Ohio State, because Ohio State is awesome. Which creates a ridiculous segue into:
Every damn time I go up there, I have to face a bunch of schmucks wearing maize and blue and it makes me want to throw up. I'll make you a deal: I'll stop rooting for the Yankees when you stop rooting for Michigan. You happen to have a major university just south of you that is in your home state and, I hate to break this to you, whenever they lose, it is a loss for the entire state... including Cleveland. I realize that you don't care about college sports, but at least stop trying to be cool. You're not cool. I should know, I'm not cool either. Have you ever seen Almost Famous?
Nobody hates Cleveland. They just hate people who keep telling them that they hate Cleveland. There is no rivalry between Cleveland and anybody else. Okay, maybe Pittsburgh, but I'm not even sure that Pittsburgh really cares anymore. Neither does Baltimore. Nor Denver. Nor Chicago, New York, Miami, Dallas, Los Angeles, Boston, Akron, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Houston, Phoenix, Washington D.C., Albuquerque, Sheboygan, Peoria, or Walla Walla. Columbus had a phase, I'll admit it, but it was mostly a case of, "Why are we playing second fiddle to that crumbling rat hole?" Then Columbus went on a wicked bender and was in too good of a mood to care.
Deal with the fact that nobody has a rivalry with Cleveland, nobody wants a rivalry with Cleveland, and nobody outside the city of Cleveland actually bothers to think about Cleveland except to make a joke about the city to spite someone from Cleveland. If you want a rivalry with a city, try Nogales, Arizona. I'm sure that they'd love the attention.
I hate those fucking comic strips. In fact, nobody likes them and people only read them out of a morbid fascination to find out how bad comic strips have become. They suck like a crack whore who hasn't had a fix in three weeks. Replace them with something good. Like reruns of Calvin and Hobbes. Or reruns of Bloom County. Or Prince Valiant. Mary Worth is funnier than these two turd bags.
What I said may anger you. It may frighten you. It may make you (and when I say "you", I mean my girlfriend) force me to sleep outside on the patio. But the fact is that Cleveland is in sorry shape and the only way it will get better is to actually DO SOMETHING. ANYTHING! For the love of God, make it better! If I didn't think that the city could, theoretically, be saved, I wouldn't have written this article! After all, I happen to like Columbus and Columbus needs Cleveland much more than Cleveland needs Columbus. And I'd like to see the city recover. And I grew up near there, dammit, so I don't want to see it fall apart!
In order to understand the problem, I want to point out the simple problem of the supernova. Yes, my point is about a star that blows up. The comparison is simply this:
When a supernova occurs, the star jettisons out a large mass of matter before the entire mass collapses onto itself and creates a black hole. The black hole, of course, is so tightly packed and so gravitationally powerful that not even light can escape. And Cleveland needs some sort of light to make the city a beacon rather than an empty, completely darkened mass. So with matter, so with people. Does the supernova example sound anything like the urban sprawl that has pushed the suburbs so far away from the city that you need to catch a flight just to get to work in the morning?
If Cleveland is to survive, the people there must stop self-referencing the city as though it is the center of the universe. The last time I visited, I saw a weather report talking about how Hurricane Katrina was going to affect the weather in Cleveland. You know what? Fuck Cleveland, let's talk about how the hurricane is going to affect the Gulf Coast! Big deal, it rained a lot a day or two later. It rained a lot from New Orleans to the Great Lakes, let's worry about what's important here. Be a part of the world, rather than thinking about how the world affects the microcosm of Cleveland.
Cleveland is at a crucial moment. It must either fix its problems or it will fall into the same are as Youngstown: a dead city from which not even the light of hope can escape. There is time to save Cleveland. But who is willing to step up and actually do it?