Posted on September 20, 2018
So, happy anniversary to Pennie Smith for the most iconic photograph in all of rock history. I’ve seen a host of variations of this photograph, and I’m sharing my favorite one here.
Many thanks to Dave Marin for his detective work and confirmation that September 20, rather than September 21, is the proper date of this gem of a click. Even the Wall Street Journal took an interest in this historical tidbit.
You can find my book at respectable shops around the world, or go directly to PM Press and, free with every purchase, take home a digital copy, too.
Posted on September 19, 2018
1972 was a good year for dynamite and the wrecking ball. In St. Louis, the razing of Pruitt-Igoe, a low-income housing complex built in 1956, led Charles Jencks to conclude that “modern architecture died in St Louis, Missouri on July 15, 1972.” Postmodern architecture embraced a less functional, more playful spirit, which culminates in Cleveland with the swirling sheets of titanium of the Peter B. Lewis Building. It also fueled a preservationist ethic, which Raymond K. Shepardson and the Playhouse Square Association (est. 1970) leveraged to great effect. Shepardson and his team got the death-by-wrecking-ball sentences of the State, Ohio, Allen and Playhouse theaters commuted, and it’s this moment, for Scott O’Con of Tours of Cleveland (TOC), that kicks off the contemporary history of Cleveland.
I recently joined Scott on TOC’s walking tour, which begins with Shepardson, jumps back to the 1796 survey work of Moses Cleaveland (two “a’s” is correct), and covers key moments in culture and industry, politics and architecture, from the mid-19th century to today. This two-hour tour begins on the north end of Public Square (architect: Cleaveland), proceeds across the Cleveland Mall (est. 1903), and wanders through the Arcade Cleveland (est. 1890), the Cleveland Trust Company Building (est. 1907: now a Heinen’s, of course), and the exquisite lobby interiors of the theater district.
Scott takes pride in the scale of the city and the scale of this tour. In May 2017, he moved from Fairfax, VA, to Cleveland with his husband, the current pastor at West Park United Church of Christ. Shortly after his arrival, Scott wandered into the Arcade and thought, “Oh my god, what is this? Sure it’s old and historic, but what’s the story?”
So Scott read up on Cleveland’s department stores and Millionaires’ Row, studied the competition, and assembled a tidy, two-hour tour. He understands the attraction of Lolly the Trolley and the neighborhood-centric routes led by Take a Hike. To see what Scott covers in two hours–”all the highlights”–with Take a Hike would take close to four hours. He also celebrates the experience of urban life on foot. “The walking tour is more intimate,” he said. “We’re going into buildings, and it’s 20 people maximum per tour.” Check out toursofcleveland.com/ for rates and different tour options.
Scott’s an excellent storyteller, and his love for Cleveland radiates without the agony of defeats at the hands of Willie Mays (‘56), John Elway (‘86, ‘87, ‘89), or Édgar Rentería (‘97). “I like to show off the city I live in,” he gushed. “We’ve been here a long time and we’ve gone through so much.”
I’m now an 18-year veteran of Northeast Ohio, and I learned plenty on my tour. One of my favorite tales was about the other Linda Eastman, who served as the head librarian from 1918 to 1938, and helped institute the “open shelf system,” which allowed patrons to browse the shelves freely, rather than ask library staff to retrieve titles from guarded stacks. Upon her retirement, the CPL was the third largest in the nation. In Eric Klinenberg’s Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life, he argues that libraries serve as the bedrock of civil society. With Scott’s help, and a fair share of walking, maybe residents and visitors alike will boost their understanding of the glories of Cleveland’s history and, in turn, be better poised to repeat them.
Posted on September 7, 2018
Happy Friday, folks!
This morning I attended an impressive talk by Dorie Clark, author of the 2017 Entrepreneurial You: wow, what a smartypants and so winning, too. A big thanks to J2H Consulting and all the members of NAWBO Cleveland for hosting such a great event.
I’m continuing my hot takes on mission statements and taglines for athletic apparel companies, and today it’s all about Reebok.
Reebok, which is a subsidiary of Adidas, sets itself off from its parent company with the modest “be more human.” (Adidas’ current tagline is “Impossible is Nothing.”) In an era characterized by humans as inseparable from their digital accessories (Bluetoothed phones, Fitbits, etc.), it’s an interesting move to emphasize our analog capacities, especially as it dovetails with their marketing campaign of female empowerment. Recently, Reebok took impressive strides to walk the walk by hiring three new women to its executive team, which is now 50% female.
For Reebok, it’s all about fitness, too, except for their mission statement, which I think is a bit lazy at 38 words:
I wonder why the subhead indicates “always,” and then the statement indicates contingencies: “when we’ve had the courage”–or, not always. Likewise, why “a little differently,” in terms of their worldview? Even if Reebok targets a kindler, gentler market segment (compared to Adidas), the mission statement should be logical and concise.
Leading Through Creativity
At Reebok, we view the world differently, and our ongoing defiance of conventions takes shape in the delivery of creative products to a clientele dedicated to style and performance. (29 words)
Or, if “defiance” is too strong,
Always Challenge and Lead through Creativity
At Reebok, we view the world differently, and our ongoing tweaks to conventions take shape in the creative design and delivery of every product to a clientele dedicated to style and performance. (32 words)
Even if this mission statement is geared especially toward employees, they’re consumers, too, I figure.
Thanks for reading my words. Cheers!
Posted on August 6, 2018
Last week, I took a tour of The House of Blues in Cleveland, and even stood on the stage–which, little did I know, approximates hallowed ground, since each HoB stage has beneath it a metal box of mud from the Mississippi Delta, so that each musician onstage “has the roots and the spirit of the South planted beneath their feet” (HoB page). HoB also houses the largest collection of “outsider art,” and founder Isaac Tigrett has an affinity for India, too, and it’s on full display in the Founders Room.
Strangely, I found a lack of blues cadence in the prose at http://www.houseofblues.com/about. The whole page could use some work, but I’ve included my hot take below on section included below. (I hope this image appears cleanly on your screen.)
The House of Blues grew out of founder Isaac Tigrett’s love for the quintessentially American art form known as the blues. Weaned on the blues during his childhood in Jackson, Tennessee, Tigrett has dedicated his life to spreading “the gospel” about the music of the rural South, including the blues, jazz, gospel (of course), rhythm and blues, and rocknroll.
The first House of Blues opened its doors in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1992, and our 11 houses now showcase original folk art and serve up healthy portions of live music and Delta-inspired cuisine.
Our mission: sustain a profitable, principled global entertainment company, in order to celebrate the diversity and brotherhood of world culture, and to promote racial and spiritual harmony through love, peace, truth, righteousness, and nonviolence, three chords at a time.
History and Community
The House of Blues celebrates the legacy of African-American contributions to music and art.
Our “crazy-quilt” stage curtains pay respect to runaway slaves who used the Underground Railroad as a passage to freedom.These curtains cover the stages stage at all of our venues and took over one thousand hours of craft labor to complete. The walls of every House of Blues display canvasses of “visual blues”: namely, folk and outsider art. The House of Blues currently holds the largest collection of outsider art in the world.
Concluding the mission with “three chords at a time” may be slightly precious, but c’mon: you gotta mention music in the mission, right?
Posted on July 28, 2018
I’m working on a handful of projects this week, but what caught my eye, prose-wise, is Alice Gregory’s description of the appearance of filmmaker Claire Denis, in her denim jacket and jeans, as “a tiny Edwardian greaser.”
The phrasing’s solid, and the contrast of images–English history from above and American history from below, and 40 years between the two–is striking, but not arresting. It’s not a needle-skipping-a-groove phrase, so it works. Brilliantly.
Posted on July 20, 2018
I’m taking a respite from writing about writing to writing about one of my favorite things in the world: bikes! I’m a nutter, and I have been since I went to school at UC Santa Barbara, when I bought my first road bike: a pearly white Windsor Pro from the mid-1970s, with a full build of Campagnolo Nuovo Record components. So smooth.
So, some of my favorite news of 2018 has to do with growing bikeshare options across the country–and overseas, too. With tariff wars looming, few predictions noted the tariff impact on the US market for bike computers, bearings, spokes, and bikeshare bikes in particular. (See https://lnkd.in/dRC9wUt.) It seems clear that component builders like Paul, White Industries, Chris King–NorCal represents!–are bound to suffer. I can find little news on this topic, though. If you have any insights on tariff impact on the bike industry, please be in touch. Thanks!
Posted on July 13, 2018
As kids, we knew that summer commenced in June, ended in August, and school resumed in September. As adults, we learned about equinoxes and solstices and that days got longer all winter–even if it didn’t feel that way. For many kids, this weekend marks the halfway point of summer. I find it’s a good time, too, to review my goals for Q3, for it increases the chances that I can check off some big items on my quarterly to-do list in its final weeks.
I find that the making of manageable-sized goals, assigning compassionate deadlines, and crossing items off my to-do list is a huge part of adulthood. It’s essential, too, if you’re running your own business. You are repeatedly called upon to impose something (deadlines) onto nothing (the calendar) and to see it through. It’s an odd dance. So, how do you move through the rhythms of the day, the week, the month, and the season? What do you do best in the morning or in the afternoon? Can you set up your day accordingly?
John Cage’s “Lecture
on Nothing” (here) (1959) is one of the oddest things I’ve ever read, but it’s something you might enjoy this weekend, especially if you have something better to do.