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


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

Sunday Musings; A Quick Little Post.


A glass of ice wine courtesy of Kosicek Vineyards.

After a busy week at work, and a crazy week’s worth of news, it was time to enjoy the fall colors again gracing Northeast Ohio, drive out to Grand River Wine Country and be with all the other people driving up and down Route 307 on Saturday to stop and buy a bottle of wine here, taste a glass of wine there, and watch the clouds roll in from the south.


Looking Southwest at the South River Vineyard.

Yesterday the wineries out there had their Turkey Trot where many of the wineries participated in pairing wine tastings with dishes for Thanksgiving dinner.   The truth be told, those places which apparently weren’t participating seemed just as busy as those that did.  In other words, it was a very busy time out there on the border of Lake and Ashtabula Counties.  I even met a couple from Pittsburgh at M Cellars who came up to enjoy the wines. It’s nice to see that the Grand River Appellation’s reputation is spreading beyond Ohio.


Two chairs waiting for a couple to sit in at the South River Vineyard.

The first piece I wrote for this blog about the wineries around Grand River was three years ago.  Who would have thought that this blog would be still running in it’s fourth year?   That’s a lot of writing ladies and gentlemen!  It also seems like we were living in a different country, but that is for another time.


Photographs by James Valentino

Opinion, Uncategorized

Once Upon a Time in Venezuela…

When it comes to movies we all have ‘guilty pleasures’ or ‘bad movies we love’ that we really don’t want to admit.   One of them for me, and I’ve never seen it it in it’s entirely, or do I know French, is a rather berserk little film from 1975 featuring French Actress Catherine Deneuve called Le Sauvage (Call Me Savage AKA Lovers Like Us).  From the decade that, in my opinion, where her Chanel No 5 commercials were way better than any of her movies, she stumbles into Bardot territory with this one.  Let’s just say that Francois Truffaut’s The Last Metro didn’t come a moment too soon.

In Le Sauvage then 32-year-old Deneuve plays Nelly, the breathtakingly beautiful fiancée of a Latin American crime boss.  She suddenly realizes at what looks like an engagement party, also known as the opening credits, that she just doesn’t want to be married to him anymore.  Escaping the would-be groom’s amorous intentions, she runs to her ex-boss Alex Fox, played by Tony Roberts, where after changing her clothes in front of him yanks off the wall his priceless French Impressionist Painting (which apparently no owner of a third-rate disco can do without) and runs into the streets of this South American metropolis she’s stuck in.  It is there that Nelly meets Martin, none other than 54-year-old French film legend Yves Montand who is there with his own crack pot scheme; believe it not something to do with perfume.  She asks for his help, he gives it to her, she returns the favor by hiring a plane to take her to the tropical island where Martin lives.  There, Nelly begins to drive him crazy and a battle of wills commences.  He throws her into his boat.  She takes an ax and sinks the boat. He dives into the water and swims after her, still holding onto that painting, back to shore. She steals his food, he whistles after her.  She locks him in his cellar, he escapes.  She runs away, he throws a pineapple at her.  Of course, after all that they fall in love.  However, it’s not just love, it’s SAVAGE LOVE!

Despite the casual sexism, flimsy plot, bad clothes, bad acting on Roberts’ part, and of course the essential gratuitous topless scene, Le Sauvage has a charm of its’ own.   Not only that, it’s all set in a tropical paradise of untold riches where there are gorgeous beaches, world class airports, and natives who speak pretty good French.  A Francophone Costa Rica for the 70’s if you will.

Did I forget to mention that the country was Venezuela?  Despite the irony, what is going on down there now will be left for another time.  However back in 1975 it was the perfect place to apparently make a romantic comedy.  In fact, it seems that back in France it’s considered a classic.

Unfortunately for me, I cannot at the moment see for myself how true it was.  I was watching our heroine’s plane being turned back at the airport when something came up and I couldn’t finish it the one time I caught it on television.  However, from what I saw of it, and clips on YouTube, it was for me a hoot.  So, I really don’t know how it all ends for our couple.  Does Martin take Nelly to Paris where they live happily ever after?  Does she do commercials selling his perfume?  Does Alex ever get back that painting?  When it ever comes back on Turner Classic Movies, or pops up at the Cleveland Cinematheque, I will have to drop everything and find out.


Link to film clip courtesy of YouTube.  Can be deleted at any time.

My blog., Opinion, Uncategorized

Friday Night Musings


This evening, before I attended a sold out Summers at Severance concert featuring Mozart’s Requiem, I visited what was once the Cleveland Botanical Gardens.  I say once because it’s now along with the Holden Arboretum called Holden Forests and Gardens.  Anyway, the first words to come out of the mouth of Librarian Gary Esmonde were “Don’t tell me you are still involved in politics!” Then, he was the one to tell me that he heard Steve Bannon was finally let go and showed me the article in the newspaper he was reading to boot.  Wow, Neo-Nazis converge on Charlottesville last Friday, Steve Bannon gets the boot this one.  Things happen faster than I can write.

What I saw on the television last Saturday stunned me.  I knew that with Trump in the White House much of the discreet bigotry that we still see in Society will roar back into the public mainstream.  However, what took place there, leading to an Ohioan to drive his car like a would be Isis Jihadist into a crowd of people killing Heather Heyer and injuring so many others shocked me.  That day, I did a quick post on the blog regarding this.  Later, I received via on of my social media accounts a comment from someone I know from the neighborhood.  This individual (who I won’t name to protect) wrote that it sounded like sides were wrong in Virginia; just like the President this person voted for in November would say.     Initially, I was so angry I invited others to chime in, and I usually don’t like doing that.   The subsequent cyber-debate between this person and a guy I know pretty much reflects the polarized mood of this country right now.  However, where we are at now didn’t just come out of the blue; and that’s the problem. The thing is, this person is not the only one I know who would side with Trump on this matter.

The mass resignations of CEOs and now members of Trumps Evangelical Advisory Board (of all things) I pray will put more pressure on his enablers in Congress to do something.  Former president Barak Obama’s tweet that went viral said what many people out there wanted to hear. So did John Brennan in his letter to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer where he writes,  “If allowed to continue along this senseless path, Mr. Trump will do lasting harm to American society and our standing in the world.”  Unfortunately, the Donald has apparently already done both.


Is Howard Fineman right in saying his Huffington Post article that Donald Trump will want to be the “last man standing” amidst the chaos he sows or is Tony Schwartz in saying that he will resign by the end of this year if Mueller gives him immunity.  Both choices are tough ones, and so much damage to the nation has been done in the meantime.

I wonder what will happen next week.



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

Thoughts on Charlottesville; A Quick Little Post.

What I’ve seen so far on the television regarding the violence that broke out today in Charlottesville, Virginia, leaving one dead and 19 injured disturbs me.  The debate over removing a statue of Robert E. Lee aside, what happened today, and Trump’s manufactured tweet, is another step down a path for this country that I fear.  This on top of the jitters over North Korea,  and now Venezuela, makes me think about what our president said on the campaign trail and in his inaugeral speech of an America that, seems today far more like what he spoke about than only a year ago.  Despite saying the words “there is no room for prejudice”, the Alt-right and White supremacists are emboldened because they have a few of their own now in the White House.

This American carnage “stops right now”, as Trump said in January, or will it get worse?


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

A Quick Little Post.



View of Lake Erie looking West from the Villa Angela Beach Pier.  Taken Saturday.

The dog days of summer are staring to feel like more like Indian Summer this past week here on the North Coast.  Not one day braking 90 last week and seventies this weekend.  Actually, this is the perfect weather for me and it’s really nice to not to have the air conditioner running.  Saturday  I took a walk at Wildwood and Villa Angela.   The surf on Lake Erie were high and the waves were crashing over the breakwalls with wild abandon.  I myself came more than once being splashed with water on the fishermen’s pier at the mouth of Euclid creek.   For some reason, weather like this make my mind wander north and I kept thinking how it would have been a nice day to drive up I-90 to Canada.   Instead, I wound up at a steak dinner in Newbury Ohio.

This past Wednesday, the Washington Post’s Daily 202 has something on the new book that just came out by Arizona Congressman Jeff Flake.  Having just glanced at this ad hoc review by James Hohmann, I must admit that it’s something I might like to take out of the library if possible.

To be honest, I do respect those on the other side who sincerely believe conservative values and are willing to work with liberals and progressives on major policies if need be.  Congressman Flake seems to be one of those in mind.  It is very courageous of him to stick to his guns at a time when so many Republicans chucked those very values out the window once Barack Obama left the White House.

Again, things are developing so fast when it comes to national politics.  I wonder if the Donald would like to frame a copy of the latest issue of Newsweek for one of his golf courses?   Then again, after seeing that publicity stunt..I mean rally…in West Virginia (“lock her up?”), I wonder what the President of Mexico and Prime Minister of Australia think about us since so many actually did vote for this guy.  Thanks to the transcripts, among other things, we all can get a pretty good idea what they think of the man himself.

Other books of interest are out there that caught my eye from one by Canadian journalist Doug Saunders to the latest by the MIT tech geeks Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee titled Machine, Platform, Crowd.   However, what I really would like to do is more writing, and finding a professional audience who is willing to read and share it.   Let’s see what comes up in the next blog posts.


Photographs taken by James Valentino.