Tremont is Dead. Long Live Tremont.

DSC01111When I first moved to Tremont almost two years ago I only knew two people in the neighborhood. They’ve since moved to New York City, greener pastures, and better opportunities. As I’m not very good at making friends, I decided that a good way of meeting people in the neighborhood would be to start a weblog and forum that would provide residents and visitors with a space in which to interact. Thus, amid spring rain and mud, was born Tremonter. Little did I know the impact it would have, or that I would become a nationwide contact for neighborhood websites and a nationwide ambassador for my neighborhood.

But that sort of laudation is a distant second to the true benefit that I have derived from the site. Through it, I’ve made connections with Lou Muenz, Matt Wascovich and R.A. Washington: independent soldiers of the Cleveland art and music. These guys are the ones who bring me out of my grim moods after a day in my cubicle and make me want to stay up late on weeknights, even if they don’t know it. These guys are my friends.

When someone messes with my friends, I get pissed. The night before last, The Cleveland Church, The Church of Ayler, The Best Unsung Music Club in Cleveland was shut-down by the Second District Vice Squad for an occupancy violation. Nevermind the rampant reports of theft, nevermind the crack-dealers and knifings, The Cleveland Police Department has bigger fish to fry.

Including, apparently, a struggling music venue like The Church.


This is not the first time that a vendetta has resulted in the closing of a Tremont institution. The Starkweather had been a bar at the corner of Starkweather and Scranton for years. In the first year that I moved to Tremont it was completely restored to the beautiful brick building it is now. They had the best dart boards in the neighborhood and poured a good pint of Guinness. But one man with a vendetta managed to hassle and keep them closed just long enough for them to run out of money.

This must not happen to The Church. First off, they have no money. The Church is not around to make a profit. They are around to provide young Cleveland residents with music they like at a price they can afford. Tickets are never more than $5, and it is a lucky month where they make enough to pay rent or fix the PA system. The Church makes no more noise than the Guatemalan Pentecostal Church that had occupied the space previously. At least The Church of Ayler keeps its doors closed during its services.

The Church provided a venue for bands whose experimental nature and emerging sound would not be accepted at places like The Grog Shop or the House of “Blues”. Unsigned bands, touring on their own dime, knew they could play at The Church and crash on the floor after the show. Steve Goldberg had his first reading as a featured poet there. Transgendered and feminist bands were welcome, bands with homemade instruments, bands with no instruments, bands from around the country and international knew of The Church as a place where they would be welcome. Tremont was revitalized exactly because of places like this.

This is the exact type of space that Cleveland needs. This is disruptive innovation at its heart and soul. This is economic development. And it has been shut down because of a vendetta and lack of vision. It sets a bad example and a bad precedent as well. Hundreds [and I’m not kidding] of young Cleveland residents now hate their city a little bit more, will be a little more likely to leave Cleveland, have a little less faith [as if there was any to begin with] in justice among city government. Other people will be less inclined to provide a venue for fringe bands both national and international to play. These bands will have no place to play in Cleveland and will drive on through to play in Chicago or Detroit or Columbus or Pittsburgh or Buffalo. Cleveland becomes poorer.

R.A. Washington is DJing tonight at Lava Lounge in the hopes of raising enough money to reopen The Church. Please stop in if you can. If you can offer assistance dealing with the mad wall of bureaucracy that is City Hall, please do. If you love The Church, help keep it open. If you love Cleveland, take a stand.

Apologies for the purple prose. You can see all my pictures from The Church here.

13 thoughts on “Tremont is Dead. Long Live Tremont.

  1. What does the occupancy violation mean exaclty? That they didn’t have a permit to do what they were doing? Let me know…I have a few contacts that may or may not go anywhere.

  2. I know some people in City Hall and the Justice Center. At the risk of sounding like an old fogey, it’d be a lot easier to shout injustice if they did have the proper papers. If fundraisers can cover the fines, they should apply for the proper permits and forget this episode. Though one has to wonder if Southside, the Treehouse and Prosperity have the proper permits to have bands.

  3. They had a permit for an art gallery, not a music venue, I guess. I know the Chairman of the Board of Zoning Appeals, which is good, but her integrity is impeccable, which is also good, but not in terms of string-pulling.

  4. That’s the problem. Getting the correct permits is on the order of thousands of dollars. The police have been around, stopping by and checking on things, and just chatting plenty of times before. Some guy gets a bee in his bonnet though, because he doesn’t want kids hanging out in “his” neighborhood and the place gets shut down.

  5. The venue sounds great, but there is no way it should have opened up without proper permits, especially in light of some of the tragic fires in nightclubs in this country lately. Fire and Building codes are there for a reason, and they have nothing to do with the “type” of people who will use the venue. I’m sure that the Councilman and City Hall would be glad to work in cooperation with the operators, but to just open your doors without proper fire and building inspections definitely ain’t the way to do it, and one shouldn’t criticize fire, police, or building inspectors for doing their jobs.

  6. It’s sad to think that one bitter person – and you know who you are – is now causing trouble in another part of Tremont. It’s not enough that this person has made business owners and residents in Ward 14 Tremont miserable; now this person feels the need to make others miserable. I heard this person also is going after Envy in Ohio City, even though the neighbors there have no problem with it. If this person put all this negative energy to positive use, there’d be a cure for cancer by now. Or at the very least, Tremont would be the awesome place to live we all know it can be.
    Long live free enterprise! May the gods of city permitting smile down upon the Church.

  7. Very well said Sandy! “THAT” person needs to stop draining the positive energy everyone else puts out.

    Maybe the businesses and people he targets should get together and file a harassment or stalking charge against him.

  8. Is Envy the club on the corner of Chatam and 25th? My friend used to live there and we’ve heard multiple gunshots from its parking lot on more than one occasion.

  9. fuck the police. i disagree that one “needs” the correct permits but without the correct permits ya gotta be ready to take the shit that WILL come down hill at ya someday. Speak in Toungues took that shit so quite awhile.
    if it is a capacity issue it may not be that hard to get around (often it is based on the # of seats)and i believe that would mean that the fine is from a citation (city ordinence) not a zoning violation.

  10. is there some reason why ya’ll won’t name “that” “one bitter” person? is it the wizard? will he strike us dead? are you actually afraid? is it a local business owner? i would like to speak with them.

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