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

My blog., Opinion, Uncategorized

Happy Presidents’ Day From Mad Man On A Great Lake.

Can you believe February is almost over?

There was a time when we didn’t just have a Presidents’ Day but two.  As anyone who has seen the film Holiday Inn with Bing Crosby can tell you, there was once a holiday for George Washington and other for Abraham Lincoln.  While some people out there might have been up in arms to know that government workers and teachers would have had two-day off if this was still going on, nevertheless it would have been nice to still celebrate these two great men individually.

Between work, my writing project, and life in general, it has been hard to write for this blog.  Then again, I think the bad comment I received a few months back subconsciously intimidated me which just shows I have to develop a thicker skin if I am to write for public consumption.  After all, one week later, I received a very nice comment from someone I am acquainted with from the Geauga Democrats who really liked, guess this, one of my pieces regarding East 185th Street North Shore Collinwood.  No politics at all!  That’s the point, I may veer off on occasion because of my concern over the state of this nation right now, but Mad Man On A Great Lake is more than that.

So, I guess I can share the link to this piece in the Guardian I read about the current resident of the White House (I couldn’t post a really good one from the New Yorker about his “Russian Gamble” but here’s a transcript of the indictment courtesy of the Atlantic).  I thought people were going overboard when they said that the man is not a legitimate president but after Friday’s Indictment you don’t have to be just on the hysterical left to wonder.  Well, that’s enough!

I was surprised to see today a few people looking at one of my old pieces on the phantom neighborhood of Beachland in the Nottingham area of North Shore Collinwood (still following me?)  Once our development corporation gets its’ act together they should join with the councilman into getting the city planning department to change our neighborhoods name back to North Collinwood or something a lot more catchy.  Hey, why not Euclid Beach so we can really confuse people looking for Euclid Ohio?  At least that name has a history here.  Actually we have a lot more projects to tackle than just branding the area.  I still can’t wait to take a tour of the La Salle Theater once they really get around to doing it.

Anyway, for those who have read this, thank you very much for your continued interest.

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





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

Happy MLK Jr. Day; A Quick Little Post.

The roller coaster weather here on the North Coast has gotten me in a hibernating mood.  From a high of 60 degrees Fahrenheit Friday Morning to single digits Sunday, it has been one hell of a ride weather wise.

Same with the nation as a whole.  This is not the place to mention what all the media has been discussing since January 1st from Michael Wolff’s book to Donald Trump shooting his mouth off to the point they are now using a swear word in national news shows to quote his high regards for Third World countries.  Yesterday, there was a false alarm in Hawaii about a missile attack on that State and the sloppy way they handled it doesn’t bring me much confidence.  Then again, we now have a president who has to tell the wold “I am not a racist” while having two Senators take another bullet for him while implying that a colleague is a liar.

It’s so easy to forget that people voted for this. I saw that while Saturday while getting my haircut.  The owner and his two colleagues, I guess longtime friends somewhere in their thirties, love what the Trump is doing. They were talking with another of their customers politics while I for one was unusually silent. That guy was telling them that his brother-in-law who was “good crunching at numbers” (or so it sounded to me) claims that everyone will be getting a three percent tax cut with this tax bill.  I didn’t want to break in and say that, even it were so, those cuts will be phased out for guys like us in a few years while the wealthy got as someone said in Florida “a whole lot richer”.  One of the barbers loved the man’s tweet about his bigger button because supposedly Trump called Kim Jong Un.  He called their bluff!  Didn’t the North Koreans finally used that phone to call the South after all these years (tell that to everyone living in Honolulu)?  Many more things were said along those lines while I pretended to be asleep.  As the shaving cream was applied to my neck, I went back to thinking about the piece I read in the Guardian on the United Nations envoy who wrote a report on extreme poverty here int he United States just one month ago.

I wonder what Martin Luther King Jr. would have thought about all this if he were alive today.   My copy of Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury should be arriving at the homestead sometime this week as the temperatures warm up.

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

It’s 2018 And We’re Still Here!

We survived almost one year of Donald Trump.

Now, with that out of the way, here are just few musings of mine.   As anyone can see, the blog goes on.  In fact, this month I have had over 140 views which is quite good for a site like this.  I didn’t know people cared!  However, it seems the thing they most care about is a piece I did a few years back.  Maybe because of the title makes it easier to pop up than the one I just did for the Jazz Age exhibit, or my critique of Atlantic writer Derek Thompson’s World Without work hits a cord with people, that piece seems to get the most views.

I hope and pray that on the national front 2018 is going to be much better than 2017.  Perhaps the Democrats will wind up winning one of the Houses of Congress.  If they following a suggestion by Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin and get their own Contract for America, then people will have more to support them than just trying to get rid of Trump.  Speaking of which, since we have had a year of his presidency, I hope than some of those who voted for him in 2016 have buyer’s remorse and will join people like me in resisting these attacks to common sense, good faith, and let’s just say democracy that he represents; though many others in his adopted party seemed to have done a pretty good job with this for years now.   Of course, this is only my opinion.

As for the neighborhood and Cleveland itself, it’s a mixed bag as well.  As the daytime shootout at Waterloo and East 156th St. showed, the city’s cost saving measures of not hiring enough police officers are definitely paying off.  Councilman Polensek is right in saying that newly re-elected Frank Jackson dropped the ball on this one by only hiring 65 from the academy, when roughly the same amount retired this year.  This is making many residents particularly angry about this because of the 1 percent income tax increase the Jackson Administration got voters to pass in 2016 to prevent, you guessed it, potentially severe budget cuts in such things as police and fire protection.  At least the number of homicides was a few less than the year before so Cleveland barely joins the national trend in this regard.  However, when it comes to police protection and other essential services, Clevelanders want to get their money’s worth.

On the other hand, the La Salle Theater renovation is moving along smoothly and I am looking forward to getting a tour of the place once they set a date.  Our local development corporation will have a meeting sometime soon and I intend to be there to see if they are getting their act together again.  Fortunately, Councilman Polensek got re-elected by a landslide and he can keep trying to get us the resources (if not the police like he wants) from City Hall to keep our long-term projects in North Shore Collinwood going.  We’ve come a long way but plenty of hard work still needs to be done.

As for the blog, I hope I can find a few more topics worth writing about.

Happy 2018 everyone.

My blog., Opinion, Uncategorized

Merry Christmas From Mad Man On A Great Lake.

Another Christmas is almost over.  I hope everyone out there spent a wonderful time with family and friends who liked the presents you gave them.

Next week is going to be 2018.  Who knows what will happen with this site.  I do know that 114 views took place this December and the trend for the entire year is that slowly but surely it’s catching on with at least a few people. With my computer back from being debugged I am back on ‘the grid’ so to speak and can resume work on a few writing projects, and not just Mad Man On A Great Lake.

Merry Christmas to you all!

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.