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 Replies

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

Comments are closed.