A Quick Little Post, About Cleveland, Opinion, Uncategorized

Let’s Take a Break at the Lake: Another Quick Little Post.


The East 55th St. Marina lookng West.

One of the reasons I haven’t been able to write as much as I wanted is because of all the things that have been happening at once. This does not include what is being shown on the news everyday. Last Sunday there was an afternoon with Jerry Springer in Bainbridge Ohio.  Friday, a planning and zoning workshop in Warren Ohio.  This week block watches and ward club meetings once I get home from the job.    I have to use the lunch break on the job just to read the Washington Post Daily 202 just to get my bearings with what the heck is happening to this country.   I wound up listening to NPR’s broadcast of the James Comey hearing in my car as I drove from work to get ready for my dental appointment.

To think that two years ago we would be at this point right now boggles my mind.


A view of the marina looking West.

So, when things are spinning around you and you shoe horn things into your daily routine so they can get done, what do you do?  Well, in my case drive to the East 55th St. Marina Saturday night to hear a band and hang out by the water.   A waitress at a local diner told me about this and in some ways it’s one of Cleveland’s best kept secrets.  The marina, just west of the remains of Gordon Park  and the now demolished First Energy Power Plant, hase been driven past by thousands of commuters from Eastern Cuyahoga and Lake Counties daily as they head downtown to work or go to the West Side.  It’s that easy to miss since it looks like a blur of docked boats with an ugly structure at the end of a parking lot extending into the Lake.   However, there’s a little more to it than what meets the eye.


View of the restaurant/shop from the dock.


Looking North from the shore.

Every Saturday night in the summer, the marina is host to a series of bands just like those held at Edgewater Park on Thursdays or at Wade Oval at University Circle on Wednesdays.  However, with a smaller crowd and ample parking, the ones at the marina seem more appealing.  Also, instead of a bunch of food trucks, there is an outdoor bar and restaurant people can order from.  While the place may not have the bottles of champagne in wine cases that I saw Friday at Warren’s Avalon Inn, there is a pretty full bar there and soft drinks too which is what I settled for.  The menu is basic but from what I see just as good as what you can find at Wendy Park on the other side of town. There’s even a little shop.

Since they took over, the Cleveland Metroparks have taken measure to improve the maria (as they have the other parks and beaches they acquired like in North Collinwood).  However, I think that more can be done.   As I stood on that pier jutting out into the water I looked across to the breakwall.   For some reason, I can see at least six boathouses like I saw up in the Muskoka Lakes Region of Canada being built there.   I can also see a water taxi to downtown and Edgewater Park or better a tour boat like I saw in Erie PA going out on Lake Erie from there going to, let’s say, Grand River Ohio for lunch.  You can dream up a lot of things standing at the end of a dock.

Another crazy week in the news coming up.


Photographs by James Valentino



A Quick Little Post, About Cleveland, Opinion, Uncategorized

Northeast Shores’ Membership Meeting; A Quick Little Post.


The NE Shores Development Corp. Meeting at Euclid Beach.

I truly believe that to have a successful city, you must have strong neighborhoods.  One of the signs of this is to have a good network of local development corporations that work with the community.  The Collinwood area happens to have two of them; the one representing North Shore Collinwood being the Northeast Shores Development Corporation.  This has been around for decades and I remember stopping in their offices in the 90’s when they were actually housed in a building next to Euclid General Hospital. Board members, and executive directors, come and go but I’ve been a fairly loyal member.  However, Wednesday’s Quarterly Membership meeting was the first I’ve been to in a year.  Instead of at the Collinwood Rec Center, they decided to put it across the street at Euclid Beach Park.  That’s where I went a little before 6:00 to the pavilion to see what was going on.


Mary Louise Daily speaks with Scott standing next to her.  New Executive Director Camille M. Maxwell sits to his left.

I knew some of the people already, such as Councilman Michael Polensek’s aide Mary Louise Daley, but the vast majority were new faces. Even the new Board president, a guy named Scott, I never met before.  However, I wound up staying there for over an hour and a half, and not just because of the hot dogs.  They just appointed a new Director and I got to chat with some of the staff for the first time in years.  None lives in the neighborhood.  However, one young lady did just buy a house in Old Brooklyn which at least is in the city.  As for the business development specialist, he lives in the same area of Cleveland Heights where my mother grew up.  As for the new director, I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt.

Actually, a lot of positive things are still taking place here.  Work is still going on regarding the new Euclid Beach Pier.  As for the La Salle Theater on East 185th Street, they are in the process of getting more funding for the renovation project there.  Also, we’re going to get one of the big white Cleveland signs like the one that everyone has been taking photos with at Edgewater Park.  Considering the terrible events last month at Mr. Car, this meeting put things all back into perspective.  While my neighborhood is not one of those targeted in that new Cleveland State Univeristy study commissioned by Mayor Jackson for investment, it still on the cusp of becoming one happening place.  Chatting with some of the people there, I met a lady who moved here from Shaker.  She told me that a realtor told her that the area where she moved to was getting a lot of money coming in renovating those lakefront properties.  Also, like many of the other former Heights’ residents who moved into North Shore Collinwood over the past few decades, she loves the lower taxes from what she was formerly paying.


I hope the Corporation starts renovating their new offices on East 185th St. soon so they can move back there.  I also will try to attend more meetings to see what is going on.


Photographs by James Valentino


A Quick Little Post, About Cleveland, Opinion, Uncategorized

Buying Irises; A Quick Little Post.


The main entrance to the Rockefeller Greenhouse seen on East 88th St.

In light of all that has been going on, not just on the news but also in this blogger’s life, I haven’t gotten around to seriously working on a post that I’ve been researching for weeks. However, I offer to my readers (roughly all three of you) this quick little post!

The Rockefeller Greenhouse had their annual plant sale Thursday May 18th through yesterday.  Fortunately, I was able to get there around 10:15 A.M. yesterday  Organized by volunteers, it may not be as flashy as the sales organized at the Holden Arboretum but this one draws a good crowd as evident by the cars parked on the street and the parking lot in the park on across the road.  I went there determined to buy a few dwarf irises for the garden.  I knew that I could find them there since I bought one last year at a table manned by iris enthusiasts who tend the Greenhouse’s Willott Iris Garden, many of the plants in the pots being grown from rhizomes thinned from it during their regular maintenance.


Ron (left) and Bob (right) pose for the camera.

I wound up striking up a conversation with a man named Bob who sat behind the table with occasional comments from his colleague Ron who was busy for the most par running around.


The Willott Iris Garden.


A view of one of the beds.







The Iris Garden is past its peak bloom but there are still many plants with flowers of a nice array of colors.  I wasn’t able to locate the two that I purchased but spotted some that I hope Bob, Ron, and the others would thin out for next year’s plant sale.    The origins of the garden started in 2008 when the iris hybridizer Tony Willott died leaving behind his rows of hybrid irises.  So, with the support of his widow Dorothy, a group of iris enthusiasts got together, cataloged then, dug them up and by 2012 had them replanted on the grounds of the Rockefeller Greenhouse.  Today, the Willott garden is a big attractions in late spring with its many blooming irises of various sizes.


As for yours truly, I bought two dwarf irises for the yard and they are now in the ground. One, Laurelwood, is a very unique rust bi-colored one while the other, Dainty Design, is an apricot colored one brused with cream. They should be very nice additions to the garden.  However, it will take a whole year to see if they bloom and a lot of things can happen in the meantime.  As for the plant sale, from the way the crowd was even on its’ last day, I’m positive it was a success.


My two purchases .


Photographs by James Valentino

A Quick Little Post, My blog., Opinion

Comey Fired: A Quick Little Post.


The Democratic Action Day at Lakeland.

So much has happened in the last four days that it’s hard to keep up.  Tonight, as I was driving home from my neighborhood block watch meeting, I was stunned to hear on the radio that FBI Director James Comey was fired.  Of course it’s all over the news and will be discussed further in media tomorrow so I won’t write much about it.  After all, this is just a blog and politics, or my life, is not the central part of this.  However, with all that has happened from Macron winning the Presidential election in France, to Barak Obama’s speech Sunday accepting this year’s Profiles in Courage Award, to Sally Yates finally speaking before Congress, so much has occurred to reflect on for me.

Saturday, I went to a Democratic Action Day meeting at Lakeland Community College in Kirtland, Ohio.  There, on an unseasonably cold and rainy day, I spent over four hours there pretty much participating in a format I’ve sat in many times before.  However, when I saw the first email regarding this event, something in my gut told me to be there.

The first part was a political action boot camp conducted by two young organizers with the Ohio Democratic Party.  As I looked around who was in the audience I saw many familiar faces from Lake and Geauga Counties, many not only older than the two organizers but even myself.  Their age wasn’t the point, their passion to do something was.In our little break out sessions, we were supposed to talk about why we were there.  I didn’t get to speak but that was by choice.  While my gut told me to be there, my head was wondering why do this once again.  However, when some of the men and women in my group spoke about why they wanted to be politically active in some way, I must admit I was impressed.  They were willing to do something that many my age, and younger, fail to do and didn’t really expect much out of it but to get some Democratic candidates elected.    For a pretty burned out hack like myself, it was good to hear what they had to say.

The candidate’s forum afterwards was another thing I sat in many a time before.  It was the same format with different people asking for support for the various offices they were going to run for; and in some cases against each other.  As I sat there listening to each on pitch their case, I thought about what was going on in the nation at large; things I have sometimes touched upon in a previous quick little post.  I thought about how my father told me the night before when he came over that he hoped that ‘the guy’ would win the French election; though I reminded him that Marine Le Pen was the one that Trump liked.  Buyer’s remorse is finally setting in, though he hasn’t completely admitted it.

That’s why the 2018 election is important; we can’t wait four years to just vote Donald Trump out.  We need to get people in Congress to be an active check not only on this White House but on people who are so willing to let him get away from it.  It’s also important for Ohio that we, and this is my own personal opinion, more Democrats into State wide offices because I do honestly believe that this party can do a better job helping out everyday people and communities in so many matters.  Though for twenty years of work I may seem to only have a bunch of T-shirts and bad feet, and a chip on my shoulder to boot, I know that despite what so many people I know say that I get nothing for it (and they only want my time and money) I will probably wind up working on a campaign in some form just like those people in that school room at Lakeland.   You have to be part of the solution, not contribute to the problems gripping this country.  All those Macron supporters in France Sunday showed what can be done even despite interference from a foreign power and a strong ultra-nationalist message from a slick operator that can be so appealing.  What Obama spoke about Sunday builds upon this, not just in terms of calling upon lawmakers  to protect the Affordable Care Act, but to be adults and play more than party politics especially during this time when we have an Administration which plays dirty.   We have to each do our part and hope that the potential damage that is taking place for at least a few years will not be too harmful to our country we can find a person who can be a president we can be proud of again in 2020.  So, you all know where I stand.


Photograph by James Valentino




A Quick Little Post, Uncategorized

Friday Night Musings; A Quick Little Post.

IMG_20170421_183538Another delay has occurred in what is supposed to be my next piece for the blog.  Life has intervened and the day has been too busy to write much, let alone again try to call up the Atlantic to get a live person.  Besides, there was a vigil to go to this evening.  At 6:00 P.M. I was one of many people who decided to stop in front of Mr. Tire on East. 185th Street to show their support for the family of the couple shot with their dog on Good Friday last week in what is now considered a pre-meditated planned murder.  The indviduals who did this shocking even took more than two cars in the lot and the pursuit to bring them to justice continues.  Of course, Councilman Michael D. Polensek (whose ward includes the Cleveland part of East 185th spoke and brought many others to come up and do the same.  In the audience not only was State Senator Kenny Yuko there but Councilmen Zack Reed and Jeff Johnson.  However, Mayor Frank Jackson was noticeably absent as were many other Cleveland Councilmen.  Nevertheless, it was important for neigbhorhood residents to be there, and they were.

A Quick Little Post, My blog., Uncategorized

Don Peck’s Pinched Revisited; A Quick Little Post.

Recently, I went to my local library.   there, among the books by Richard Florida, Mark Levin, and at least three Ann Coulter’s, stood out one I read years before; Pinched by Atlantic’s deputy editor Don Peck.  It came out in 2011 and, at the time, I wrote a review of it for the Yahoo Contributor Network.  While for some reason  I could not google the finished product, I discovered on an old flash drive one of my drafts for it so here it is.

In Pinched, How the Great Recession has narrowed our futures and what we can do about it, Don Peck looks at what has happened in the last three years with the economy; and how it has changed the way we live, work, and how we identify ourselves.

He doesn’t say anything that others, such as Paul Krugman or Kevin Phillips had alluded to in their work, but he does organize things in a clear, concise manner and backs them up with the real life experiences of everyday people.  From a former construction foreman only recently found steady work after losing his job in 2008 to the president of a homeowner’s association in Florida development ravages by the foreclosure crisis, Peck gives the reader an idea of how most people are struggling with the new economic situation in America.  

Mr. Peck also went to the Aspen Ideas Festival where those unaffected by the Recession talked about social issues, policy problems; and as he puts it “a near-total insularity from the non-elites, and a personal detachment from the struggles of other Americans (pg. 115).   He devotes full chapters on the plutonomy, a term three analysts came up with in a paper for the wealthy few as at Aspen, to Generation R, those recent college graduates who end up unemployed and living back at home.   However, Peck examines every level of American society on how economic downturns, and not just the recent one, seriously affect people for years.

There is one paragraph that resonates with me.  He interviews the economist Lisa Kahn who has done studies on how economic downturns affect an individual’s subsequent career.   “When Kahn looks more closely at the unlucky graduates at mid-career, she found some surprising characteristics.   They were significantly less likely to work in professional occupations or other prestigious spheres.   And they clung more tightly to their jobs; average job tenure was unusually long.   People who entered the workforce during the recession ‘didn’t switch jobs as much, and particularly for young workers, that’s how you increase wages,’ Kahn told me.   This behavior may have resulted from a lingering risk aversion, born of a tough start.   But a lack of opportunities may have played a larger role, she said, when you’re forced to start work in a particularly low-level job or uneasy career, it’s easy for other employers to dismiss you as having low potential.  Moving up, or moving to something different and better, becomes more difficult.” (pgs. 64-65).

This is a more wide-spread phenomenon than I ever imagined.  I know that, if I understood this in 2004, perhaps I wouldn’t have given up on my like as I did for half of the last decade.  Yes, Pinched hits me on a personal level; very few books have done that.

As for possible measures to address this present state, Peck does mention a few good things.   Some, such as campaign finance reform and unemployment insurance, have been mentioned by other people before (such as Robert Reich), and possibly make far too much sense to even be discussed in Congress let alone passed.

However, Pinched is definitely worthwhile reading and makes you think.   Mr. Peck sums up his hopes best with one paragraph towards the end of the book.   He believes that,

“A society in which the different classes jostle more frequently alongside one another-living in the same communities and cities, harboring the same hopes and expectations for their children-is inherently healthier than one in which they are segregated physically and split by cultural norms.   Broader exposure to one another would foster the ideals of civic equality and equal opportunity that are our cultural bedrock.” (pgs. 186-187).

I couldn’t write it better myself.

A lot has happened in the nearly six years since it was first published.  The polarization we’re faced with today is in some ways even worse than when Peck wrote this book.  One can also argue that, on November 7th 2016, the plutonomy won after all, and I don’t just mean by Donald Trump becoming president.Yet, Pinched seems worth re-reading so that’s what I am about to do. Continue reading

A Quick Little Post, Opinion, Uncategorized

Looking for the American Dream; A Quick Little Post.

Who would have thought Trump’s well rehearsed speech to a Joint Session of Congress Tuesday would be the eye in the storm call his presidency so far?  He almost made it a whole day with people focusing on how well-behaved he was in the Chamber that night when news of Attorney General Session’s meetings with the Russian Ambassador stole his thunder.  Now, he tweets that the former president wire-tapped his phones and bellows for an investigation while violence breaks out in Berkeley between Anti-Trump protesters and his supporters.  Now, our President tweets his predecessor wiretapped his phones in Trump Tower, blames the generals for the botched job in Yemen, and goes back down (at our expense) to Palm Beach for another weekend. For all those people last year who chanted “lock her up” referring to Hillary Clinton and her emails, what are they thinking now?  Do they still say give Donald Trump and his boys a chance?

The Washington Post Daily 202 on Thursday and Friday had some interesting tidbits.  Apparently, four orders were signed under the radar that have nothing to do with renegotiating NAFTA, getting higher wages to working class voters, or making Americans work again; but do sound like something you’d see many Tea Party types in the past applaud; such as making it easier for the mentally ill to get guns..

All though brouhaha the only ones who appear to be benefiting seem to be Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell; especially if suddenly Mike Pence winds up being President.  Talk about a backstage coup.  It would be like the George W. Bush Presidency all over again; with the inevitable consequence. Once again, we will see if in a year how it all plays out.

The irony is that, if you happened to see Fahreed Zakaria GPS today, the American Dream in increasingly a Canadian one.  Former Canadian diplomat (and Conservative) Scott Gilmore discussed with Mr. Zakaria his latest article he wrote for Maclean’s titled The American Dream has Moved to Canada.   Mr. Gilmore pointed out many studies that shows that, on average, that Canada has surpassed us in such things as longevity, obtaining a college degree, even a freer press.  In his article, he referred to the fact that the World Economic Forum has ranked Canadians as the sixth happiest in the world.  What about us?  We’re ranked at thirteenth.

In many ways that fact that Donald Trump is still in office, or not, for a full term isn’t really the main issue for many people.  What is important is if those promises he made on the ‘bread and butter’ issues (let alone restoring the American Dream) really start coming to fruition.  If all that results from all this mess is a Mike Pence presidency with a Paul Ryan budget,  you will have a whole lot more angry people out there than we do now; and incidents like Berkeley will be nationwide.  If that happens, then couldn’t the Kremlin say their gamble paid off?  Let’s see what the next seven days has in store for us.