I submitted this OP-ED to The Plain Dealer Commentary Section. 

In a perfect world the idea of “re-connecting” Cleveland’s citizens with access to its lakefront–a sentiment often expressed by community leaders, planners and activists–is surely noble and necessary.

However, such “re-connection” must also accompany understanding the significance and importance of the lake’s bio-integrity. If not, then the flood gates will open to more abuse and degradation that our once pristine but still recovering Lake does not need.

The abuse of which I write about is courtesy of the filth that nearby visitors and many residents leave behind. The current lack of understanding or care for such matters is clear every time I am close to the waterfront. Our waterfront is visually filthy with debris–and all coming from human activity and disregard for our environment as well as our everyday fellow citizens.

Please read the entire commentary here:

Posted by Angry Man In The Basement at 5:16 PM No comments:


More of the race to the bottom in America. This time regarding: “Dressing for Downtown”

Before I write this story, I have to offer a disclaimer: Some who read  post this may be quick to label me as writing from a self righteous, conservative, or “elitist” position. Such statements would be rather prejudiced because I am none of the above.. Instead, I hope that many will be open enough to receive and consider the thoughts articulated here and accept them as the “constructive criticism” they are meant to be.. Often by rejecting information that could possibly improve something in our lives, such as our health or well being, we remain stagnant or chose to sit on our laurels. Many of us these days seem to have an allergy to information that challenges the status quo, which just may be a better alternative IF given the chance. The following story is solely a product of personal expereience and is not intended to belittle anyone who simply cannot afford any other alternative.

Now the story….

Once upon a time, a venture downtown in any typical American city or town, large or small, had most folks dressing tastefully and with quality. Whether you were shopping, working, out for a night of dinner and the theater, or simply taking care of some personal business, these activities were considered important enough to look one’s best and this was reflected in one’s choice of outerwear..

As I look at old post cards or photos of downtown scenes where people can be seen taking part in all of the above, I notice how people in the photos were dressed: in the tasteful attire of the everyday folks. Personally I do not interpret their “dressing-up”, as many seem to do today, as being about superficial vanity. Rather, I see it as making an effort to exude some basic self- respect and dignity–and, as an opportunity to engage in and honor important or special experiences. One might note that indigenous peoples of the world throughout history, those once thought to be “savage” by Western cultures, often dress most artfully on a daily basis, and do so especially when the occasion warrants it.

Downtowns that feature historic places and buildings and iconic attractions seemed to be peopled with those who dressed in such a way that even paid compliment or respect to the historical or important significances of a downtown.  Whether intentional or not, it was what it was. While there are still many who make the effort to “dress up” when going downtown-such as professionals who work downtown on a daily basis or those going out for a special night on the town, I witness a disturbing trend that sees many many more doing the complete opposite.

Let’s go to Downtown Cleveland….

Let’s examine a typical local Cleveland scene. Often mistakenly described by apologists who may have never been exposed to any other example  as “casual” or “trendy”, the outfits paraded around downtown these days are really nothing more than the product of downright laziness, sloppiness, and a lack of effort. Heck, even the poor bums I noticed in those old photos and post cards exude more respectful dress than what can be witnessed in most people in downtown Cleveland today! The scene can only be described as sad, sick, pathetic, and even boring, especially on Saturday when you see all the Wal-Mart…or, excuse me.. Casino goers. The project that was supposed to add so much to our fair city and downtown area!

Some of the attire I have seen would not even be suitable for working under a car or doing sweaty dirty yardwork! Here is the sample scene:  Men, typically between the ages of 18 to 35 (but not limited to that age group) wearing the typical “AMERICAN UNIFORM” of dirty tennis shoes, ripped blue jeans and a tucked in tee shirt. This serves to accent their often large pot bellies and is topped off with a baseball cap to round out this most cheerful attire. Not pretty..

Other guys wear pants that are falling off- exposing their rear ends as though all of us asked to see their underwear and more… The pants are so baggy that those who wear them cannot walk properly; instead they waddle and resemble clowns in a circus or perhaps a youngster who has made poo-poo in his pants.

On the other hand we see women in generally the same age range, wearing slippers and sweat pants, or even pajamas in broad daylight. Indeed, they are scenes that more resemble attire for a tractor pull, camping trip, yard work, etc. It is a phenomenon that may be more pervasive in some regions than others, but it can certainly be seen all over Cleveland and all across the United States, I would imagine.

What the hell happened to dress standards?

Having said this-and as I am not here to just pick on our locals in America, I must pose the following questions: Where is the dress standard anymore? Is there a standard? What in the hell happened to standards at all? Have people become so used to operating so far UNDER an average tasteful dress standard, or with NONE at all, that they they actually have become conditioned to believe that making an effort to look nice is elite, superficial, or snobby? Or worse, what if they consider what they are doing to be a decent, if not their best effort? If so, how sad that we have sunk this low to interpret what is and has been an average standard–or everyday thing–to be high society!

Come on guys, you are going out on a pre-planned date downtown for dinner in a rather nice setting with your partner and the best you can do is wear dirty jeans and a tee shirt-or those baggy crap catchers?  I would simply not allow this to cross the threshold of a nice restaurant–and it is too bad for those proprieters who have permitted it–that they have allowed crap to set the example for fear of losing business.

Jeans and Tees can be nice too!…

Hey, don’t get me wrong, I love a great summer tee shirt as much as anyone. I love a quality one, one that will last, not the $1.99 undershirts they pass off as dress tees! And, I  even love a nice pair of comfortable jeans. Such clothing can indeed look nice if it is taken care of and of quality. However, this is not the case with what I witness people wearing downtown inwhat looks to be like clothing unfit for even the homeless!  It leaves me to wonder if some believe that tee shirts, jeans, and tennis shoes are the “one suit fits all” solution to pesky wardrobe problems- a “no-brainer” choice suitable for all people and all occasions.

Discover what you had been missing!….

Many do not know what they are missing to invest, little by little, in a quality wardrobe to discover the joy and fun in artful, clean, and just tasteful dressing, or how easy it can be. They seem to be conditioned to believe common myths like “It costs too much” or “It is too much time or effort” In terms of cost, if we look to days gone by, people generally had less clothing, but it was better quality and what they had they took care of. IN contrast to today where we have a glut of cheaply made clothing that is ready for the donation box in a few months, leaving us the task to go out and spend more money on more throw aways. Add up the costs over time and this is not so economical afterall–NOR is it good for the environment to keep extracting resources to make more short life clothing.

Their are also health benefits of this investment and effort. I used to be going down the path of all I am criticizing in this article. Then it dawned on me one day how NO ONE seems to be making an effort to clean up a little anymore. I discovered the joy and feeling of wearing clothing that is well fitted and made of material that feels great on the skin. My moods changed, I simply felt better physically. I even felt more confident in my work and more respected by customers. So in summary, you could say that a more quality wardrobe has economic, social and environmental benefits!

I hope for change…..

When I am downtown Cleveland, the status in dress in so many individuals seems to be getting worse. Same old same old as I described at the top-outnumbering those who actually make an effort anymore-some seven to three! The filthy tennis shoes thing really has me shaking my head in disappointment. I have to wonder if the shoe shine guy makes money anymore. I often think about how–if more people learned about re-discovering the benefits of artful dressing–especially when going downtown–how it would result in creating a more positive energy, a friendlier and healthier populace of which Cleveland can be proud! It would be interesting to expereiemtnt in this idea alone.

Downtown has plenty of independent clothing stores from which to chose to make the discovery. For me, it is not “dressing-up”. I become annoyed when I hear people say to me with surprise… “Oh, you’re all dressed up today” I tell them that I am NOT dressed up….its just how I dress…and its actually very average. The ordinary has now become the extraordinary so it seems to so many. And so I hope that through the efforts of people like Mike Lang and Cynthia Lundeen, two local champions of artful dress, more and more people can discover the fun, joy, and happiness which can be found in the art of dressing for downtown once again!

I would now like to share sentiments on this topic from a guest who has also noticed the downtrodden state of the way so many of us are dressing these days……

We’ve all heard the expression: “All dressed up and nowhere to go.” but do we really need a special occasion or destination to feel motivated to look our best? Many people have jobs that require them to dress up and look nice and most likely they are in the habit of maintaining a look that is “pulled together”- nice haircut, decent shoes, flattering, well-cared for clothing.  But what about the rest of us? Can and has “casual, anything goes” dressing gone to far?

A look into an old t.v. show or photograph from the 1950’s would reveal a populace that looked quite dapper and chic on a regular basis, whether doing the weekly grocery shopping, running errands, walking the dog, even gardening or putting out the trash. Does how we dress affect how we feel and how we behave individually and collectively as a society? I think we have all experienced the difference in feeling of being caught off guard at one’s worst when people stop by the house unannounced vs. the feeling you get when you’ve just left the barber shop or hair and nail salon or are wearing your new or best dress or suit.

When we spend our daily lives feeling that there is no good reason to dress up, what does that say about how we feel about ourselves and our lives? It’s not that outward appearance is everything, but it certainly is something. When we show respect for ourselves, we also show respect for others and our community, as if saying: “This is my life. My life is an event worth dressing up for. You are my neighbor, or my husband, my wife or my child and I respect you and want you to see me in my light, the same way I enjoy seeing you..”

Stay tuned for information on more you can learn about dressing for downtown right here in this post!

Posted by Angry Man In The Basement at 5:56 PM No comments:

Reducing Litter In Cleveland

For approximately 12 months now, myself and several other dedicated volunteers came together in the interest of doing what we can to help reduce litter in the city and region–And to plant the seeds of change that can alter the mentalities that produce the litter in the first place.

So far, as a result, we have raised the awareness of this issue–and placed it on the radar of several key figures in the city who have graciously offered their cooperation in reducing liter and illegal dumping. Also coming forward have been other volunteers and several neighborhood community development corporations.

Neighborhoods that are aiming at leading the charge in this campaign are… downtown–as Gardens Under Glass at the Galleria will be the voice of the campaign slogan material and educational presentations at the Eco-Tuesday event. Adding to this will be a display in the Re-Source Educational Center courtesy of Keep Ohio Beautiful, that aims to recruit volunteers who will obligate to create Cleveland’s first official chapter of this long time litter awareness and education organization.

Ohio City has also taken on a roll–as this neighborhood has worked to increase recycling/and or availability of trash bins, have a monthly neighborhood wide clean-up announcement, place law enforcement signage, and eventually get the word to schools, businesses, residents, and police on why litter is not acceptable, how it contributes to other quality of life degrading issues–and why laws need to be enforced. Cudell may be another neighborhood emerging and embracing the movement, with a storefront window planned and dedicated to artfully displaying awareness campaign material and its distribution.

Lastly, Edgewater Beach/Park and Euclid Beach/Park have also seen the addition of new anti-litter and educational signage and increased clean-ups. Additionally, a cooperative relationship between volunteers and park management is growing. These are just a few areas that are working toward helping to reduce litter. Other community development corporations have expressed interest in being a par of what hopefully will evolve into a city wide effort.

The above are just a few of multiple other efforts to help plant seeds of litter reduction. All who are dedicated to this understand that change on what seems to most who are concerned, as no-brainier logic, often comes very slow. Therefore, their patience and commitment will drive the ongoing success of the effort. I recently wrote an article for Cool Cleveland to help spread the word about impacts of litter–And, started a petition on Change Dot Org that promotes action being taken on plastic cigar tip/butt litter. Please see the article in the link below…and sign the petition on the Change site. –Thank You!

Posted by Angry Man In The Basement at 7:07 PM No comments:

100 Year Old Columbia Building Coming Down For Parking Garage–Oh, I’m Sorry… I Meant To Say, “A Welcome Center!”

Despite his structure being in good usable shape…. We can say goodbye!

The Landmarks Commission, responsible for delaying demolition of the historic Columbia Building in downtown Cleveland to build a parking garage for a casino, has now given the go-ahead to demolish this handsome pedestrian oriented downtown structure, in favor of a more car dominated street scene. No one can be this short sighted to not explore ideas for saving the Columbia and incorporating it into a design which would satisfy parking issues for visiting guests with cars glued to their rear ends–as well as needs of pedestrians and people who actually LIVE downtown.

Making this even more difficult to swallow, is a planning commission that has not sold me on the idea that they have “looked at all possible alternatives..and none are feasible” , or so we have heard a dozen times! I cannot accept this bone thrown to the public.

Someone whom I have kept in contact with about this dilemma, name withheld, had this to say: “I am now convinced that The Landmarks Commission is nothing but a mascaraed; another puppet on strings. When they say that “none of the alternatives are feasible”, that is nothing more than those strings being pulled. In fact, they are literally mimicking whatever the developer says. They do not actually fight a real fight for historic buildings in this city, even when they are a designated Landmark as this one is.

They just go through some “motions” hoping to make it look like they’re putting up some sort of protest. Some who have protested this demolition are now looking at ways to improve the design of the garage. They were pleased with the large turnout of people who opposed the demolition of the Columbia, and lament that “just because they have lost this battle, that it does not mean we have lost the war.” That, referring to taking more enthusiastic action in the future where other historic buildings may be threatened.

Maybe it doesn’t “mean” we lost the war, but, I guarantee you — we “lost” this war before it even started. This city’s government wants only one thing — someone spending money in this city — especially a LOT of money, as developers do. They will sell the historic City Hall that they work in — also a designated Landmark — and allow its destruction, if the price is right. The situation here is thoroughly pathetic and thoroughly hopeless.

I could not agree with the above comments more. Still, how could there be “no feasible alternatives” It seems many who have attended meetings about the demolition did just that, present feasible alternatives! So what can it be? Why the rubber stamp go ahead? Hmmmmm…..WAIT!!!….maybe there are too many demolition contractors standing to gain by being given the promise they will get a job! No one in city government probably ever expected this much protest to this demolition so ramming it through would be a cinch, no worries. A few in the good old “good ‘ole boys club” can make some fast cash. Sure I am speculating, but one must wonder!

I hope people will realize why it is treading a risky path to allow a gaming industry, parking czars, and a developer be in some kind of position to act as a big benefactor and pillar member of the community. It is as close to a real life “deal with the devil” example as one can get! It is a perfect example of how letting developers, parking lot kings, and some gaming cronies dictate city planning, as I have mentioned before, is like letting loggers dictate forest management!

With the demolition of Columbia, what they want, they get, no matter how bad it is to the vision of creating a pedestrian friendly city-scape. Maybe those who run the show are used to the parking lot scene anyway, so to them they see nothing wrong with this picture! Maybe it is the quicker and cheaper way for them. But what is cheapest for the parties involved in this fiasco is not always best for the many in the long term. Indeed, screw the resident or stakeholder which bares the brunt of the long term costs such as ruining an already walkable infrastructure in favor of more cars and creating a pedestrian dead zone!

It is not as if the developer of this project would have walked away from it altogether had demolition of the Columbia Building been denied by the Planning and Landmarks Commissions. On the Contrary, it would have forced a more thoughtful re-design. The city neglected to use this scenario as leverage that would demand a design that would have integrated the Columbia Building into the plan. Here was an opportunity to achieve the best design possible to satisfy everyone, wasted!

To the rest of the outside progressive city designers and planners in the world..looking in, this demolition and parking garage design represents the poster child of HOW NOT to design a city if you want to promote more pedestrian traffic at street level, create connectivity for such, and create economic diversity and a walkable friendly feel… However, if you want to promote more oil use, pedestrian dead zones, noise, a building that will likely start to look crappy in a few years with its faux frontage cheesy looking building materials…..and build the city for cars and not people..The demolition with the current parking garage design is brilliant. Textbook right out of the 50’s through 70’s!

Yes, I should mention that the more historically significant Stanley Block Building will be saved and restored, (not because the developers were not prepared to knock this down too!–another story.) but to see it juxtaposed with a strip-mall type building, might look as ridiculous or awkward as seeing a new Westlake-style Taco Bell sitting right next to Severance Hall, or Liberace playing piano in a hip hop show. I Would such a “fusion” work?

Seriously, we need to ask.. “For whom are we designing our city?” Certainly NOT for attracting stakeholders…And rather, for fly by night visitors. They come, they gamble, they POOP, they leave…and continue to say how wrong Cleveland gets everything from the comfort of their sprawl-burb home.

If this demolition of an already pedestrian structured infrastructure for a parking garage… Oh, I forgot to mention what they’re calling it.. “Welcome Center” does not create the street pedestrian lively area with galleries, shops, businesses, restaurants, future retail, etc… In my opinion it will be a failure. Afterall, isn’t this the scene Cleveland touts it wants to create?….A walkable, day and night city of choice? Well, if your only choice in life is spending your penny rolls saved in the pickle jar at a casino to help pay for repairing the bungee attached bumper on your rusted car, for more cigarettes, or hungry man TV dinners, then maybe this is a perfect design! (Sorry, I am getting a bit nasty, but I cannot deny the scenes I witness in these kinds of places!)

I actually had a different vision for this part of the city…perhaps a bit more in line with promoting a healthy and more economically productive and diverse population that does not need The Lone Ranger to come in and “save the city” (Ie: MedMart, Casino) The current design of the garage that will replace the Columbia Building is so counter productive to the above described scene many would like to see downtown…as well as so counter productive to promoting a more sustainable city–also something that Cleveland is supposedly trying to achieve.

I cannot say much positive about this demolition/parking garage scenario, but I guess the light at the end of the tunnel is that if more opposition to demolitions as witnessed with Columbia happened every time city fathers partner with very un-creative developers and those with a lack of vision in quality city planning, then just maybe there would be a bit more caution exercised in how we lay out our city’s future designs. Maybe there would be more demand to achieve everlasting appeal, purpose, and style–And in the spirit of a more sustainable future and economy that can spawn from such–there would be more demand in keeping the pedestrian in mind first, the car second! So, looking forward, maybe the opposition can/will result in the changing of the current design of the garage.

Here are a couple good quotes online today that reflect the immediate disappointment and dissatisfaction for this terrible design.

“At the end of the day it’s not about “preserving the past” its about allowing lower prospect to continue a mixed use model that encourages people to use and live in the city and not creating a two block auto oriented dead zone for people who want to stop in for a couple hours and leave. Mixed use is “building for the future”… not lining our streets to make things easiest for temporary guests.”

“I’m feeling quite depressed this afternoon. I just can’t comprehend that we are tearing down this building for a parking garage. A parking garage for the folks of Streetsboro and Madison and Lagrange. The same people who talk crap about this city any chance they get won out. Congratulations to all those who comment on, you are the true winners. You can now come and dump your quarters in my downtown while you laugh at what a terrible city this is from the comfort of your close parking garage and safety of your gerbil tube that “elevates” you above the dirt of the city.Another fine day of Cleveland politics. Still much work to be done ahead about final designs.”

Posted by Angry Man In The Basement at 11:06 AM No comments:

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The Galleria–Downtown Cleveland–New Vision and Life!


The Galleria
1301 E. 9th Street

A photogenic and uniquely designed multi-use facility in Downtown Cleveland’s business district–within a 10 minute walk of many attractions, including The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Playhouse Square, E. 4th Street District and many others.

This cheerful space resembles a giant green house with its all-glass barrel-vaulted arched ceilings measuring some 80 feet high and stretching for an entire city block!

Essentially, the inside of the facility is an indoor street. In here you will find an eclectic blend of small local art galleries, clothing shops, a Hungarian heritage museum, the Gardens Under Glass Re-source Center (featuring eco-related ideas and products which promote sustainable living and local indoor year ’round growing of produce.), a full service restaurant, indoor/outdoor park-like food court–and a variety of businesses including a full service bank and more.

The facility also hosts a myriad of major events, such as weddings, banquets, concerts, dances, wine tasting, farm markets, and fund raising functions. If you’re feeling tired, the property is a fantastic space to take a leisurely stroll, or sit down and read a while and escape the noise of the city. The Galleria brings the light of day inside no matter the time of year!

* Hours are Monday through Friday, 10:00 AM until 6:00 PM. Served by Cleveland Metropolitan Region Transportation Authority, and the free B-Line Trolley Bus which runs every 10 Minutes/7:00AM to 7:00 PM. Close proximity to major hotels, new convention center and interstates. Climate controlled, secure, well lit–underground parking garage off Lakeside Avenue.

Posted by Angry Man In The Basement at 10:21 AM No comments: