A Quick Little Post, My blog.

The Writer’s Group In Akron Revisited.

IMG_20180711_213356Last Saturday, I managed to take the drive down Route 8 again to Akron for the Writer’s Group there.  It was a much-needed dose of support, and constructive criticism, over this writing project I’ve alluded to previously.

If anything, drive forty-five minute drive down there was worth it for the following.  Kora Sadler gave each and every one of us present a copy of the new writer’s group book, Now With Page Numbers, which is their latest anthology.  The book is a collection of poems and short stories by participants in the group in various genres.  Something for everyone, I can see this as the type of book one would read while sitting on a dock at a lakeside inn north of Toronto or take on a train ride across America along with other paperbacks or your Kindle stashed in your overnight bag; the type of book resting, half read, on your stomach as you fall asleep in a hammock with a pina colada on a table nearby.

Prodded on by Kora, I discovered something on the dedication page when took me by surprise.  There right below the Cleveland Writers Group was this very blog.  I never thought this would ever happen and it’s very encouraging.


The group will have an author exhibition on Saturday, July 21st 2018, at the Barnes and Noble Store at 4015 Medina Road in Akron from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM.   If you happen to be somewhere in the area that day, feel free to stop by and say hello.


Photographs by James Valentino.

A Quick Little Post, My blog., Opinion

Another Hot Fourth of July.

IMG_20180704_142422This is the first time in years I haven’t been in a parade which actually is a relief.

Well, I did get an invite of sorts to join the Geauga Democrats today in the hot humid heat but I had to decline.  I was driving out  to Lake County to be with my favorite Trump supporter, my father, in Mentor, Ohio where I knocked a plate with a deviled egg and cubed watermelon off a wooden television tray and on to a carpet.

It’s funny, as I see posts on Facebook of people at parades in Parma, Lakewood, and other places around the Cleveland area, I began to think about all the political campaigns I have worked on over the years, and the T-shirts I accumulated.    Starting with Commissioner Tim McCormick’s race in 1996, I was all over Cuyahoga County as part of one crew or another, walking or running alongside a candidate (be it William Denihan, Jane Campbell, Ed Jerse, or Sherrod Brown)  passing out candy, holding signs, and shouting to the crowds the elected official or candidate’s name.  Then were the many times the long walks back to where we started since there weren’t always enough seats in the car at the end of the parade waiting to take volunteers back.  Now, as I get out of bed limping to one degree or another until my tendons stretch due to plantar fasciitis, I wonder how I had the energy to run all the way down Pearl Road.

Before I headed out into the oven, I started to look for some of my many T-shirts for those races.  Except for the Yuko, Cavanaugh, and Polensek ones, I haven’t seen any of them since I stopped working out at the gym.  Those in the photo are just part of the pile I wound up with.  Over the past few years I have been thinking about finding a T-shirt  with the title I HAVE WORKED ON POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS FOR TWO DECADES AND ALL I GOT WAS THIS LOUSY T-SHIRT but I don’t think we can fit that on the front unless in small letters even though I am now an extra-large.

So, I never got to get an office job with Governor Strickland or with Sherrod Brown.  I am lucky people at the sign in tables know who the heck I am when the Cuyahoga Democrats have an Executive Committee Meeting (fortunately, there are still a few who do!).  Yet, despite the replies I get to some comment I make on Twitter, the replies I receive from someone on Facebook, or my discussions with real life family members, a part of me still believes that you must do something.  If anything exercise your right to vote like I always do.  I will most likely get involved in something related to the Democratic Party in the upcoming months (like I did going to two fundraisers two weekends before) and even see what’s in my budget to spend at a few other events foolish as it may seem.

For those of us, to borrow a phrase from Richard Nixon’s race 50 years ago, the real ‘Silent Majority’ which is suddenly findings its voice, it is important to show the world that what we have now in our Federal Government doesn’t represent the majority of the population, what we think this country stands for, and what we want to be in the future.  It’s time to start putting the dark side of our country which has come out again with a vengeance (starting with the T-Party in 2010, and not just Trump) back into the closet and once again, like we have done so many times before, get our best and brightest people to help reverse the damage and get us back on track.

Of course, this is my opinion and it means to be honest nothing.  However, there was more to it behind all those T-shirts than wishing to work for Sherrod Brown or get experience to become a campaign manager for someone.  We all have to try to participate in making things better and help those who you believe want to do so as well.  No matter how many times you may say, you can’t give it all up.

Happy Fourth of July ladies and gentlemen.


The author (center( with State Representative John Rogers (left) and State Senator Kenny Yuko (right) at a ODP event in Willoughby Hills, Ohio, in June.

Photographs taken by James Valentino.

A Quick Little Post, My blog., Uncategorized

Sweating in NE Ohio; A Quick Little Post.

This morning I ventured out after breakfast to Wildwood Park hoping to take a walk before it got too hot.  Well, it was already really warm at 9:00 A.M. as I walked out on the fisherman’s pier there and caught a weak lake breeze.  For a good ten minutes it felt rather nice as I looked West towards the new Euclid Beach pier now under construction and the skyline of downtown Cleveland shimmering in the haze.    When I walked back to the beach though, the heat hit me again and has been the other times I ventured out of my house today going about my business and ordering a frozen daiquiri and my first crab cakes in a decade at the Standard Restaurant on East 185th Street (and both highly recommended).

So much has happened in the week since I thought about writing up a new post.  I was originally going to talk about how wound up at, you guessed it, a couple of local Democratic Party functions in my area.  Then, it was going to be about all that I heard and read about this week, from Supreme Court Justice Kennedy’s retirement to Canadian tariffs, to what I read in the Washington Post.  Time just keeps slipping away but that’s only fair.  I did manage to get up to the Waterloo Arts Festival for a few seconds yesterday in the broiling heat and took two nice photographs.  However, my cellphone is acting up (courtesy of Tracfone) so I didn’t find them in my gallery to download when I looked today.  Just as well, I wrote about it previously.  Even at noon the street looked pretty busy which is a very good thing for the neighborhood.  What’s even better, I haven’t heard of any problems so the overtime Cleveland police have been doing until they get for officers trained is kind of paying off.

Things should be cooler by Saturday but in the meantime another long hot stinking week!


A Quick Little Post, Community and Economic Development, My blog., Opinion, Uncategorized

Another Drive Out To The Boonies: A Quick Little Post.

IMG_20180608_082131Friday I took the day off from the job for another exercise in sadomasochism (or what my old career advisors would call networking) and attended the NE Ohio Planning and Zoning Workshop at the New Leaf Event Center in Conneaut Ohio.  I even got in the car 45 minutes earlier than I normally do so I can be there on time.

I have written about previous workshops on the blog before so let’s just say that it was worth the $60 and, while I never did get a government job in planning or community development, I still am truly interested in such matters as branding your community or grant writing for an organization which were in fact two of the topics of the four sessions I sat in on.   It gives me the illusion that I am part of something worthwhile, unlike recently my political activism.  When I left the workshop, I took a drive into town.  Once a major port for iron ore to be shipped to steel mills in Youngstown and Pittsburgh, Conneaut is now home of the Lake Erie Correctional Institution.   I tried to see where it was located but the prison is in fact hidden by woods as I drove East on Rt. 20 and unintentionally stumbled into Pennsylvania.  Retracing my way back, I drove onto Main Street and for a few blocks saw the old storefronts that still had plenty of cars parked in front of them.  Of course years earlier that place must have been a lot busier.


The keynote speaker, Dale Arnold of the Ohio Farm Bureau, does his presentation.

The It was only checking the news feed on my cellphone during one of the breaks did I realize the extent of the mess the man who says he’s president is leading us do now on the international trade and let’s be honest diplomatic front with long-term allies.  I felt Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s pain when he was on Meet the Press June 1st and now Trump wants Russia back in the G-7 (6, or 8) fold.

While all this happens everyday life goes on and there is so little time even to write.  But, I do worry about what the state of this nation will be like in a few years.  We will not be great again, I can see that and I fear at the least an economic meltdown just as bad as the last years of George W. Bush     There was an interesting piece in the New Yorker on the last Kaiser of Germany, Wilhelm II, and what I got out of it was that Wilhelm’s bombastic tirades and erratic behavior might have triggered WWI and got himself overthrown 100 years ago this year but it was the forces unleashed on Germany in the years following his exile that truly lead that nation to utter ruin by 1945.  In other words, we can vote Trump out but what he is already unleashed would be something that may harm this country for decades to come.


Photographs by James Valentino

A Quick Little Post, About Cleveland, My blog., Uncategorized

More Rhododendrons at Holden.

IMG_20180603_100915While the recent 90 degree F plus heat wave has now passed and the weather is back to normal, it sure sped things up when it comes to the gardens.   While many azaleas and rhododendrons have faded blooms, not all is over yet.  That’s why I went out to the Holden Arboretum in Kirtland, Ohio, to see what was still there at its two rhododendron gardens.  While the flowers did pass their peak, enough were still in full bloom to make the walk worthwhile.


The main entrance to the new part of the gardens.

With more than 3,600 acres in Kirtland, Ohio, Holden is one of the largest arboretum of its’ kind in the nation.  Though they recently merged with the Cleveland Botanical Gardens to create Holden Forest and Gardens, I personally still treat Holden as a completely separate place from the home of Orchid Mania.  After all, with Corning Lake, the Visitor Center, numerous hiking trails, tree collections, and of course the Helen S. Layer Rhododendron Gardens, it is a completely different experience which is exactly what I wanted Sunday morning.


While Holden is open to the public from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, it does open later for special events (like the wine tasting they had the evening before as all the white tents I saw on the grounds still standing testified), and members can use smaller parking lots to explore the grounds later as well. It is definitely worth exploring for a few hours at least in May.



Photographs by James Valentino

A Quick Little Post, About Cleveland, My blog., Uncategorized

Another Quick Little Post.

IMG_20180501_124248Already a week ago, I drove up to Catawba and, after an hour wait, hopped on the ferry to Put-n-Bay.  As mentioned in a previous piece for the blog, it happens to be a very popular tourist destination in Ohio and a place I have known for years.  Considering how early in the season it was, I was surprised to see as many people around as there were.  While most of the big eateries are still closed on the weekdays, some were in fact open such as Pasquale’s.  I glanced at their website the night before so when I noticed it while walking past it I decided to stop in for lunch.  It wasn’t a large lunch menu but enough to choose from and they did a good job on the cheeseburger and fries.  The harbor was unusually empty, but then again boats are just starting to get into the water at this time of year.  In fact, as I stood on one of the piers I saw two speedboats come in to join the other three already there.  More were out of the water, many with fishermen trying to catch walleye since this is the season to do so.   I have a hunch that Put-n-Bay Harbor will be all filled up by Memorial Day and the place will be like tourists expect it to be.


Inside Pasquale’s.

Considering I haven’t done much recently on the blog, I am surprised that so far it has received this month 28 views.  That’s pretty good considering.  Between the job, the house, the three ring circus called the Mueller and Cohen Investigations, and events like a Democratic Club Dinner in a place called Lake County, there is so little time to sit down and think about a subject for a piece that may be good enough to be published in a magazine but the editors never will.  However, this is not the end of the blog by a long shot.


Downtown Put-n-Bay looking towards the Perry Monument in the distance.

A Quick Little Post, My blog., Opinion, Uncategorized

Fifty year anniversaries.

Today is the 50th anniversary of the assassination in Memphis Tennessee of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.  This was just one of the many events that took place in 1968 that we will be hearing about this year.

In the Washington Post’s Daily 202, James Hohmann gives what I think an excellent analysis of MLK’s final speech.   “His case for the virtue of nonviolent protest, boycotts and pushing the country to live up to our shared ideals is timely. His paeans to unity, economic justice and the moral obligation to look out for the least among us are timeless.”  I also believe that his proposal for a Poor Person’s March on Washington still resonates 50 years later.

It’s like, if things went differently in that year, this country would not have come to the state it is today; and I don’t mean the election of Donald Trump.  His election is really the  final product of things that have been wreaking havoc in my opinion this nation for 50 years and this utter feeling among people who see things have been falling apart.  The idea of a Civil Society (let alone a Great Society or making America Great Again for that matter) has kind of evaporated. Of course, hindsight is twenty-twenty.

Robert F Kennedy was in Indianapolis on that day and that very night delivered what is considered one of his best speeches.  Of the cities that rioted that night, Indianapolis wasn’t  one of them.  “What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or they be black.”  Where is there now in this country a man or woman who can say such things and we can sense that they truly mean it?

While journalists, historians, and talking heads on cable amp up coverage of this anniversary, and many do note how tragic it all was, for many now, it’s just another item in the background of their daily lives.  In fact, for many who lived through that year, all those events that fill our history books in college didn’t seem to hit home then either.  I know in the case of my Father, marrying my Mother in November of 1968 was something that was far more tangible than the Tet Offensive.  Having come back from his stint in Vietnam in the Spring of 1966, that was all behind him and he had a new car, a steady job at a company called the Towmotor Corporation, and got engaged the December of the previous year. He has never mentioned to me who he voted for in that year for president, or even if he bothered to do so.

As for my Mother, she had a younger sister who got married in March of 1968 about a week before Lyndon Johnson announced he wasn’t going to run again for re-election.  Last month, I went to her house to celebrate her fiftieth wedding anniversary to my uncle.  They had a big crowd, and not just family, but many of their friends were there too.  There was a very nice cake, plenty of snacks that made a meal, and champagne to toast the couple.  It was a very nice evening and the weather was much better than it was when they tied the knot.  Later, just for the heck of it, my uncle brought out another  bottle.  It was of a rare brandy from France called Liqueur de Mirabelle.  Flavored with the plum that only seems to grow in the Lorraine region, and, if I heard right, it was a gift from my grandparents in 1968 or he got it somehow to give to my grandfather who never took it. Anyway, for the first time in 50 years, he opened up the bottle and a few brave souls like myself took a sip.   It had become pure rubbing alcohol.

A lot of things in the past fifty years have left a bitter taste in many people’s mouths.  Of course, the reasons vary.  For me, as someone who worked on political races in the past and had a History major in college, I do honestly believe that we have lost a lot as a nation since 1968, and not just in terms of the economy.  We had another armed gunman, this time a woman, attacked YouTube’s headquarters in the Bay Area, wounding three before killing herself; all over how they treated her videos it seems.  Meanwhile, Congressman Rohrabacher (R-California) speculated publicly, with no grounds, that she was probably an illegal alien.   Madness breeds madness.

I think I will look back at those two speeches now.