Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Arcade - A Photo Update

As a post script to my blog entry of November 26, here are some updated photos of the Arcade, decorated for the holidays. These pictures were taken on November 28, 2007.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Favorite Places: The Arcade

Image from WikiCommons, a public domain photo (2006)

Pronunciation: \är-ˈkād\
Function: noun
Etymology: French, from Italian arcata, from arco arch, from Latin arcus
Date: 1725
1 : a long arched building or gallery
2 : an arched covered passageway or avenue (as between shops)
3 : a series of arches with their columns or piers

Dictionaries can provide a definition of an arcade, but one really understands the concept upon seeing downtown Cleveland’s Arcade. The Arcade is a favorite place for many Cleveland area residents and visitors.

A brief history

The Arcade opened in May, 1890. Construction costs were reported at $867,000, a small fortune in the day. Some references list John Eisenmann as sole designer and architect, although the on-line “Encyclopedia of Cleveland History” also lists George Smith as co-architect. Financing came from several wealthy Clevelanders; including well known names John D. Rockefeller, Marcus Hanna, and Charles Brush.

The Arcade runs between Euclid Avenue and Superior. As the two streets are not at even levels (there is a 12 foot difference), it can be a little disorienting when you come in one street and leave on the other.

In 1975, the Arcade was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, the first Cleveland building to receive that honor. After going through the 1980s as a place to shop and eat, it was later renovated and redeveloped by the Hyatt Corporation. The Arcade now serves as a key part of Cleveland’s Hyatt Regency Hotel, which re-opened it in 2001.

There is much more history behind this building, but I’m really interested in just sharing some pictures so others who haven’t seen it can take a peek at a true architectural beauty. As a bonus, I’ve also included an old shot of the smaller close neighbor, the Colonial Arcade.

Photographed in 1986

Christmas, 1981

Colonial Arcade, 1986

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

WOIO Channel 19 – How low can they go?

WOIO Channel 19 is the CBS affiliate for Cleveland. CBS strikes me as being a network that takes news seriously (the Walter Cronkite legacy, shows like 60 Minutes, and hiring Katie Couric to anchor their evening news). Could CBS be as ashamed of the tabloid journalism style of Channel 19 as I am? Many Cleveland area residents I know are also embarrassed at Channel 19’s sensationalistic news reporting. I sometimes interpret 19’s styles as clear dislike for the city and its residents, seeing that the station appears to go out of its way to make the city look as bad as possible.

I have no problem with any station reporting the news in a hard-hitting fashion. I do have a problem when the news story stoops to serve the lowest common denominator, or sensationalizes even the simplest stories. I'll give you some examples:

Watch their traffic reporter Rick Abell and you’ll see a true unprofessional. Almost every driver is an “idjit” in his eyes, regardless of the reason for the accident or traffic problem, sometimes before he knows if the accident victim is seriously or fatally injured. Their reports on restaurant inspection violations would be informative enough, without the shouting of “CLEAN UP” at the end of every story. Let’s not forget the constant over-promotion of Sharon Reed's "over-exposure" in her story called “Body of Evidence” where she posed nude, along with many others, for a nude photo shoot by Spencer Tunick in 2004. Also a topic of much discussion was Sharon Reed’s shameless sensationalism and self-promotion when she received a phone call from a friend of alleged killer, Bobby Cutts, Jr., providing some details, albeit sketchy, of the incident. I could go on, but you already get the idea.

Now, Channel 19 reached deep into their garbage bag of stories to bring Cleveland viewers “The Orgasm Diet” on the 11:00 PM news for Monday, November 26, 2007. Yes, I did say “The Orgasm Diet.” The promotions for this story are running at various daytime hours, insuring that someone’s kid is going to see it and probably ask some questions. Now really, is this a topic fit for a real news show? Maybe it’s something more appropriate for the Jerry Springer show, but not something I need to hear from the local news.

When I see the local news rankings in The Cleveland Plain Dealer, Channel 19 appears to always been in or near the rating basement for almost every time slot. This should tell them that what they are doing is not working to gain viewers. It’s great to want to differentiate one’s newscast from the rest, but Channel 19 shouldn't dumb down the content in order to gain viewers. It’s great to want to expose problem issues and areas and bring them to the forefront, but do it in a way that reports the news impartially, factually, and without all the personal opinion or derogatory comment.

Am I going to watch “The Orgasm Diet?" No way. I’d rather not waste my time. But I will tell Channel 19 that if they ever want to be considered a credible source for news in the Cleveland area, they really should look at themselves first and “CLEAN UP!”

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Exploring Cleveland Neighborhoods: Tremont

Cleveland Skyline from Lincoln Park
Photo by Christine Zimmer (used with permission)

The Cleveland west side neighborhood of Tremont has been in the news a lot lately. Michael Symon, owner and executive chef of Lolita on Literary Rd., just won the Food Channel’s Iron Chef competition. The house where some of the movie “A Christmas Story” was filmed is located in Tremont (at the intersection of W.11th and Rowley Avenue), and is now a museum. For years now, this former industrial-influenced neighborhood has become a magnet for restaurants, small shops, and artists. This translates to a sometimes very vibrant nightlife. It’s been a great revitalization for the area, and serves as a model for resurrecting other Cleveland neighborhoods.
Lincoln Park
Photo by Christine Zimmer (used with permission)

The area contains many old churches, and a quick drive down West 14th, or a stroll in Lincoln Park at the center of the area, will bring them into view. Restoration continues on the older homes in the area, further erasing the gritty industrial past. There are nice views of the Cleveland skyline from Lincoln Park and from a Tremont mainstay, Sokolowski’s University Inn. If you like huge portions of simple ethnic eats served cafeteria style, this is the place for you. You won’t leave hungry.

So if you’re looking for something to do, and haven’t been in Tremont for a while, take a drive or walk through the area and check it out. A Christmas Story House is open for the could always drive down to Sokolowski’s to grab a bite – and check out the view – afterwards.

Skyline view from Sokolowski's University Inn

Photo by Christine Zimmer (used with permission)

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

East Side Vs West Side – Which side are YOU on?

Image from Google™

Even people living far outside of Cleveland seem to be aware that Cleveland and its metro residents define themselves as “East Siders” or “West Siders”. I was born on the West side and lived in that area for 9 years, but then became an East Sider. While I live out of Cuyahoga County, I’m still considered an East Sider and would never consider moving to the west side. Some people are fiercely local to their “side”.

Depending on whom you ask, the actual line of demarcation can vary. I’ve always thought of the dividing line as the Cuyahoga River, since it splits a huge part of the entire county. For some, it’s the Terminal Tower, for others it’s I-77, etc. While everyone has their own idea, somehow almost every concept puts people in the same east/west category.

Looking at the split on a citywide basis, some draw general impressions about the people who live there and the type of life they live. For example, the east side is has areas crippled with poverty, the west, not as much but it is still a problem. It used to be that crime was more of a problem on the east side. Sadly, the problem has permeated west. Let’s not forget the painting “My Home Town” by Michelangelo Lovelace, which showed city landmarks along with crowds of people representing Clevelanders. The Cleveland Clinic removed the painting due to controversy that it depicted a racial bias of the east and west sides.

As one moves farther out of the confines of the city of Cleveland, though, the east/west side demographic seems to change. The perception is that East Siders are more affluent and snobby; West Siders are hard working “real” people. West Siders usually get small amounts of snow; east Siders get buried with snow fueled by the dreaded “Lake Effect”. Then there’s the debate about who has the better restaurants. I could go on.

I’m interested in what you thing about the whole issue. Where do you put yourself and how do you feel about your “side”? Where do you draw the east/west line, and have you ever crossed it to move to another location? Would you even consider moving to the other side? Comments are welcome.

One constant: East and West Siders are rabid sports fans, and are both lovers AND haters of the local sports teams (depending on how the teams are playing at the time). Oh yeah, we all hate the Steelers. There ARE some things that East and West Siders can agree upon.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The "New" Morning News Anchor in Town

Local TV news is serious business in Cleveland. With ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC all having affiliates here, the competition for viewers is a very big deal. Every channel has news 4 times a day, an early slot (5:00 – 7:00 AM), noon (12:00 – 12:30 PM or 1:00 PM), late afternoon/early evening (anywhere between 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM), and evening (starting at 10:00 or 11:00 PM). Each has the requisite local and national news, weather, traffic, and “light” news segments.

It takes a lot for a local channel to stand out or be different, and grab viewers.

Recently, WKYC Channel 3 (owned by Gannet, and affiliated with NBC) made a change that seemed to take viewers by surprise. When John Anderson, long time morning news anchor, took his leave to anchor Good Morning Philadelphia for Fox29, the morning anchor slot became available. It was announced a short time later that Mark Nolan, chief meteorologist and weather forecaster, also with Channel 3, would make the leap to morning news anchor. (He'd now have to be awake long before 5:00 AM, the start of the show.)

It was a smart move for Mark. While weather is a big deal here in Cleveland, it hasn’t been a career path to the big time – or anything for that matter - since Al Roker left in 1983 to head to WNBC in New York City. (Al later went on to national fame on the Today show.) Weather people are virtually a dime a dozen in Cleveland, with most stations having several regulars on staff and a few waiting in the wings for temporary fill ins.

Mark was an adequate weather forecaster, but really shined when he hosted “Lake Erie Beyond the Surface”, a high definition series for WYKC. He exhibited good camera presence and his relaxed style was a perfect fit for the topic. Mark began his stint on the morning news show in early November. So far, he’s made a smooth transition to the anchor desk, along with his new co-anchor Abby Hamm. The measure of his success will be how well he can grab onto, and hold, ratings. It make take some time before we know the results.

Best of luck, Mark.

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