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

One More Quick Little Post.

IMG_20180311_115315It’s hard to write on a blog when you have so much else going on.

Recently, I went out to a local garden center to check a few things such as what spring bulbs and seeds have arrived and fertilizer for my spruce tree.  While there, I stopped in their houseplant display room where everything was in bloom.  From potted gardenias with their fragrant white blooms to florist cyclamens and African violets, they were are welcome sight to see right now as my snowdrops try to keep growing despite day temperatures not reaching 40 degrees F.


I have written enough about spring here in Cleveland for all of you who don’t live here to get an idea what it’s like.  Soon places like the garden center will be packed with people buying things for their yards and so will I.


Photographs by James Valentino

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

The State of the Neighborhood; A Quick Little Post.


East 185th Street looking North.

While the mayor and his merry band at City Hall figure out how to hire more policeman by the end of this year, I didn’t let this fact stop me from taking a walk down my street this Sunday.  After all, one of the supposed advantages of a Cleveland neighborhood over moving out to the urban fringe is their walk-ability.  On a sunny, almost early March-like Day in January, I took a stroll up to see what was going on with the La Salle Theater.  From the photos you can see how much work has been put into renovating this place.   It’s a great thing that the councilman, and Neighborhood Progress, came up with the money to finish this. While we may not have a street like Pittsburgh’s Walnut in this city, places like East 185th have the potential to do a whole lot more and, right now, it looks like it might just happen.


The La Salle Theater with its’ new marquee.

Then, it was a stop at Gus’ Diner East 185 for lunch.  It wasn’t packed like usual but I just missed most of the lunch crowd and got one of the two booths that were still empty.  As I ate a corned beef sandwich and fries, I continued working on a project of mine that is now 43 pages long.  Some of it does cover what is going on here in North Shore Collinwood and the vast potential this place, and other Cleveland neighborhoods, have.







A few days later, while the national news swirled and buzzed with the unthinkable only two years before, I had to take a long walk home from my mechanic who has a garage off the Shoreway in neighboring Euclid.  Getting back on my street, I had an opportunity to see some of the houses that are for sale or recently had a history of foreclosure, vacancy and neglect.  Just like everywhere else in the city of Cleveland, the streets off of East 185th St. were really hit by the mortgage crisis.  However, for those who follow this blog know, things have stabilized since 2010 and slowing rebounded.   Yesterday I had even more encouragement seeing a new driveway in a Cape Cod that is apparently being renovated.  This is significant because of what I remember as a kid growing up here.  Thirty to Forty years ago, the owner at that time was a woman in her 50s and she had a thing about her lawn.  It seemed like every year she would have it ripped up and re-seeded so it would have that golf putting green look.  I would sit in the back seat of the car my parents were driving and sometimes see her standing on her front lawn.  With her curlers still in her hair and covered by a scarf she would look down at how the germinating lawn was growing.  Flash forward to 2010.  She was already dead by then, the house had a few owners, and by that year was vacant.  The front lawn was not only full of weeds but not even cut.  If by a miracle she came back to see this, the lady probably would have had a fit; just like many of the other old homeowners I remember living up and down Cherokee.  Well, yesterday, for the first time in years, not only was there a new driveway but that Cape Cod looked almost like it used to be.


A Cape Cod with a brand new driveway.

As I finish this so I can watch another State of the Union Address, I think it is fitting I should at least write about this place.  Let’s see what interesting things happen along these streets during this year.


A view of Cherokee Avenue looking West.



Photographs by James Valentino





About Cleveland, Community and Economic Development, Uncategorized

Northeast Shores Membership Meeting.

IMG_20180116_181313For those who read this blog, you may know that the neighborhood I live in has a community development corporation called Northeast Shores.  Yesterday, January 16, 2018, it had their membership meeting at the Collinwood Recreation Center on Lakeshore Blvd.   In a surprisingly full room, local residents, merchants, and representatives of such groups as the Hospice of the Western Reserve learned what has been going on with the local development corporation.  There were elections for new board members, and the candidates got to tell the crowd a little about themselves.  Many of them seemed to have moved to the area in the past decade.  That is an encouraging sign but also means that there were very few people I knew in that room.

Another thing on the agenda was a short speech by the owner of an accounting firm doing their books.  He stood up to tell everyone that they should have their report ready by the next meeting.  It would be interesting to see since Northeast Shores has had to let go most of its’ staff last year and move into space given by the Hospice of the Western Reserve to which the executive director, Camille Maxwell (who became director last year after her controversial predecessor left), is sincerely grateful.

What would a community meeting be without of few words from Mike Polensek?  The councilman gave give everyone the run down on what has been going on in the ward.  while I heard half of it before, such as Cleveland’s police officer shortage, Mike did talk about some of the major projects in the neighborhood such as the ongoing LaSalle Theater renovation and the new Oliver Hazard Perry Elementary School under construction.  He also said a few words about how people should be supporting the development corporations and try to make them as strong as ones elsewhere in the city. Last but not least, the Power Point presentation showing the new marquee of the LaSalle Theater, all lit up at night, drew a lot of applause from the audience.  I can’t wait to see the LaSalle when it’s finished.

Last night was kind of encouraging.  I keep telling people that it’s a toss-up on what’s going on here but there are a lot of committed people who seem to be investing a lot into the future of North Shore Collinwood and that’s wonderful.  Now, if we can City Hall to give us our income tax increase money’s worth this year, as in more police patrols and funds for home repairs for residents, that can be a great boost.

When I drove home, I had to stop at the light at East 185th Street and LaSalle.  There across the street from me was the theater and its’ brand new marquee.  This is something people would notice driving in from Lake County to dine at the Standard or get a beer at the Cleveland Brewery.  It also shows that our development corporation managed to pull this project off and it’s something the staff should be proud of.  So should Councilman Polensek.  There will be more news about the neighborhood to come.


Photographs taken by James Valentino

About Cleveland, Uncategorized

The Jazz Age: American Style in the 20s.


Exhibition sign featuring Josephine Baker.

Over the years, the Cleveland Museum of Art has held many world-class exhibitions such as Monet in Normandy and Pharoh: King of Ancient Egypt to delight area patrons.  This holiday season is no different.  The Jazz Age: American Style in the 20s is going on right now in the Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation Hall.   There are over 300 pieces in the show, which, as Mark Mezoros wrote for the News Herald, is done in collaboration with the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City.  It was so good that I went twice.



A skyscraper themed desk from the 20’s.


One of the displays.

One of the things that strikes the visitor is how French American Art Deco Style was at the time.  Names like Ruhlmann, Franck, Lalique, Cartier and, of course, Chanel meet the eye among the jewelry, furniture, gowns, and even cars on display.  After all Paris was still the art center of the world at the time, and Americans were the ones with the money. Many had no qualms boarding the Paris or the Ile de France to see the City of Light for themselves.  In return, many Parisian designers, artists, and intellectuals (let’s not also forget the cafe owners with a full bar), were fascinated by America, be it New York City skyscrapers to Josephine Baker and it relected in their work. However, the show also features pieces from American artists and even Bauhaus and the Vienna Workshop so it’s more eclectic than it sounds.


An original Chanel No. 5 bottle and case.


One of the exhibition rooms in the Exhibition.







The show runs through January 14, 2018 so there is plenty of time to head down to University Circle and see this visual delight.



Photographs taken by James Valentino

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

Yum Yum Sweet Shop: A Quick Little Post



The front entrance to Yum Yum Sweet Shop in Peninsula Ohio.

One thing about driving down to Peninsula Ohio in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park is that parking is hard to come by.  With all the people who come down there to walk the towpath trail, rent a bike, or stop in some of the shops, I usually wind up driving through or parking too far to really feel like seeing what’s in those houses lining Route 303.  Well, Saturday, I was lucky enough to get the last empty space on the street and stopped at finally the Yum Yum Sweet Shop which is located just a few doors down from the Winking Lizard.  It was a good thing too because right next to the front door was  a sign stating that the place is moving soon to Cuyahoga Falls.







There was everything for a sweet tooth there from the standard candy bars you were to find at your drug store to those that have become had to come by here, like the Clark bars that I wound up buying.   There was also homemade chocolates on display, gourmet ice cream and popcorn, and different types of soda pop drinks you would not see in your office vending machine.


Yum Yum Sweet Shop in its’ current building.

The owner plans to move to a new place on Front Street in downtown Cuyahoga Falls next to a new ice cream parlor that someone she knows is going to open.  It will be a “sweet corner” as she puts it and said that she would have a lot more varieties of candies to choose from over there for customers to be tempted with.  I would argue that a place like this would also be a really nice addition to the Cleveland scene; say a shop on East 185th Street for example?  We can always dream….


What was brought home.

Photographs taken by James Valentino.



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

Happy Holidays, and all that.

Thanksgiving 2017 has come and gone that the Christmas shopping season is officially here.

While others may be driving all over NE Ohio to stand in line for deals that may not be there at prices that would probably be lower on December 27th, I am here typing a quick little post unrelated to many of the themes of this blog.  In fact, since I wrote about the Ohio Land Bank Conference a few months back, I really haven’t had the time or, shall we say inspiration, to write a carefully researched piece for this site.  I am thankful that a few people actually keep looking at this blog.  So far, 107 views have occurred this month and that’s something.  I am also thankful that my new furnace is running in the basement, the new roof on the garage prevented anymore leaks when there has been rain, and a little bit of snow, and I managed to have found the money to pay for both (at least on an installment plan).  There are other things to ponder….

Dana Milbank in his latest op-ed piece for the Washington Post (Dear Sarah Huckabee Sanders: I’m thankful that Trump has failed) puts it down so succinctly what I feel so far about this year with Donald Trump as president.  I hope and pray that one year from now I’ll be thankful for a whole lot more; such as the Democrats winning back the Senate, the Mueller investigation leading to some individuals going to jail, and a lot more of those relatives and acquaintances of mine who voted for Trump last year get buyer’s remorse and realize what a disastrous decision their vote has been.  Locally, I am thankful that Councilman Michael D. Polensek received ninety percent of the vote in his ward and won another term.

Enough with the politics.

I am hopeful, instead of thankful, that property values continue to increase no matter how slowly, in North Shore Collinwood and more people move in and fix up houses like I see they are doing.  I hope that Mayor Frank Jackson uses the money from the one percent income take hike we voted for last November hire hundreds, and not just 65 like this year, more policemen to make all of Cleveland’s neighborhoods safer.  I hope that the LaSalle Theater, whose renovation is almost finished, will be a catalyst for even more investment on East 185th Street so and be a launching pad for all those plans to redevelop the street that I attended meetings for a couple of years back.

On a more personal note, I am also hopeful that, next spring, an organization or publisher would take a look at this project of mine that I have been working the past couple of months.  Not only that, it would be hopeful to see that, instead of them sending an email a month after I submitted it saying “thank you for your interest be we decided it’s not a good fit” they would say “this is wonderful, can we publish it?”  Of course, that’s way too early to say if the odds are good or not for that to happen.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Holidays and all that.



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

Election 2017; A Quick Little Post.


The Slovenian Workers’ Home for the Ward Eight Election Party.

Another election day is winding down and I am back from Ward 8 Councilman Michael D. Polensek’s party at the Slovenian Workers’ Home on Holmes Avenue.   As we all told him, the councilman had no problem beating his opponent and earned another term.  Cuyahoga County Councilman Anthony Hairston as was winning last time I saw on the television by a large margin.  This is great because, not only do I think he would make a very good councilman for that ward but he is easily beating the previous councilman there; and the reason why in the last redrawing of the city wards things got so messed up in the Northeast Corner of the city.   However, the biggest surprise is the low voter turn out in the city as a whole.  Mike told me around eight o’clock it was 26 percent and that included absentee ballots like mine.  It’s possible that the numbers changed since then but it does seem that the vast majority of eligible voters in the city of Cleveland just didn’t get out to vote.

On the other hand, what has happened tonight in Virginia is wonderful for a Democrat like myself.  The nine-point lead Ralph Northam had over Ed Gillespie is as significant as what the talking heads on the news are now saying.  If this is a harbinger of things to come in 2018, and the Democrats come up with a strong message and real proposals, then there will be some hope.


Photograph taken by James Valentino