Amateur Hour

A month or so ago I was talk­ing with Pultz about all of the things two beard­ed, over-edu­cat­ed, Cleve­land trans­plants are like­ly to talk about when forced by neces­si­ty to drink in a bar they nor­mal­ly wouldn’t fre­quent. I admit to my snob­bery. One of the top­ics that came up was the impend­ing Saint Patrick’s Day Ama­teur Drink­ing Hour Vari­ety Show that Down­town Cleve­land turns in to every year. Pultz, as a self-described pro­fes­sion­al drinker, does not imbibe pub­licly on this day.

I have anoth­er friend, a fel­low Notre Dame alum­nus named Liam, who is a con­nois­seur of the great Saint Patrick’s Day cel­e­bra­tions in the US: Chica­go, Savan­nah, Cleve­land, New York City and Boston. The man knows his Irish-Amer­i­can cel­e­bra­tions.

I have a Notre Dame cap with a sham­rock on it. I wear it year-round, but only feel like an idiot when I wear it on Saint Patrick’s Day.

I wish every day in Down­town Cleve­land was as crowd­ed with peo­ple as Saint Patrick’s Day. Euclid Avenue in par­tic­u­lar feels less like a road through ‘90s Sara­je­vo and more like an actu­al city.

This is the part where I sound like a grouchy old man.

The major­i­ty of young peo­ple who roll down­town on this day, unfor­tu­nate­ly, are ani­mals. The sense of enti­tle­ment and lack of respect for any­one else in the vicin­i­ty was astound­ing. Catholic schools in Cleve­land are closed for the day, and the hordes appear. I saw sev­er­al home­less peo­ple loud­ly insult­ed by groups of drunk­en young’uns who then pro­ceed­ed to run into the traf­fic-packed street, bang on car hoods, and yell pro­fan­i­ty in front of fam­i­lies; gen­er­al­ly not know­ing their ass from a hole in the ground.

Look, the peo­ple I’m talk­ing about are puk­ing green beer on street cor­ners, and hav­ing their friends haul them to West 6th so they can fin­ish the boot & ral­ly. The afore­men­tioned home­less folks have more deco­rum, and [if you par­don the delib­er­ate insen­si­tiv­i­ty for the sake of some lev­i­ty] can hold their liquor bet­ter.

On my twelve block walk to my bus stop, I saw rel­a­tives to this sort of behav­ior pret­ty much the whole time. I was actu­al­ly thanked by an old lady for not run­ning into her and let­ting her have the right-of-way. This is because the crowds of young’uns refuse to devi­ate from their course, which, due to drunk­en­ness, takes up the whole of the extend­ed side­walks on Euclid. They’ll walk right through you.

The bus was filled with passed out kids from Pad­ua head­ing back toward Par­ma, and the bus dri­ver almost had to pull over when one of them lit a cig­a­rette and wouldn’t put it out when the reg­u­lar pas­sen­gers hollered at him. There was an addi­tion­al RTA employ­ee on the bus, whether for secu­ri­ty sake or just head­ed home, who was mocked by the drunk­en white kids for not hav­ing the best Eng­lish.

I’m pret­ty sure the solu­tion to this is to get these mall­fratrats to come down­town more often, so they can get a chance to learn how to act in pub­lic.

Maybe next year I won’t wear my hat.

Weekend Update

  • I went for a run for the first time in a dog’s age today. Put in a lit­tle over 3.5 miles at 11 min­utes a mile. Not so good, but not that bad for a 28 year old with an arthrit­ic knee, a 9 month old, and a year plus of most­ly seden­tary liv­ing. My knee hurts, but the weath­er is beau­ti­ful.
  • What the hell, man. When I come to the cash reg­is­ter to pur­chase my item, all I want to do is exchange mon­ey for prod­uct and get the hell out of your store. I do not:
    1. have the store cred­it card;
    2. want the store cred­it card;
    3. and will not give you my phone number/zip code;
    4. want to search around for anoth­er item that will enable me to save $5 while spend­ing $10 more; and
    5. care about the cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion sur­vey that I can fill out online or by phone that will enable me to get an addi­tion­al 10% off my pur­chase of $50 or more with­in the next five days.
  • Went to a show at Now That’s Class. Wish­ing the hip hop scene was big­ger or more eas­i­ly acces­si­ble, not sure which it needs to be.
  • I was excit­ed that the gener­ic brand of instant oat­meal was on super sale.
  • I’m plan­ning on build­ing a road bike again this sum­mer, hope­ful­ly I’ll actu­al­ly get to do it. The first order of busi­ness is find­ing a 62–64cm ear­ly-80s steel frame from the Ohio City Bike Coop. Some­how I don’t think a frame that size is going to be easy to come by.

Tough Times

Times are tough. Com­pared to mil­lions of Amer­i­cans, times aren’t that bad for my fam­i­ly; but in some ways we’re poster chil­dren for the social, infra­struc­tur­al and eco­nom­ic chal­lenges that the coun­try cur­rent­ly faces. For instance:

  • My home has decreased at least 15% in val­ue since I pur­chased it due to the fore­clo­sure cri­sis.
  • Refi­nanc­ing my mort­gage to take advan­tage of the low­er-inter­est rates is not cost-effec­tive, as I would have to pay the dif­fer­ence in appraised val­ue and pay for mort­gage insur­ance, even though I’m in no dan­ger of default­ing on my loan.
  • We had to spend a hefty chunk of sav­ings (around $3,000) on a new fur­nace this win­ter.
  • Debbie’s char­ter school shut down last year because they didn’t pay their rent, and none of the for­mer employ­ees were eli­gi­ble to receive unem­ploy­ment ben­e­fits because the school admin­is­tra­tion told the unem­ploy­ment folks that the entire staff quit.
  • As soon as Abra­ham left Debbie’s body, he was no longer cov­ered by her insur­ance. Since it took a few days to get him on my insur­ance, his doc­tor vis­it in the hos­pi­tal wasn’t cov­ered and we had to pay it out of pock­et. $200.
  • My old insur­ance, Kaiser Per­ma­nente, refused cov­er­age for Abraham’s first two vis­its to the pedi­a­tri­cian. $1300.
  • Debbie’s cur­rent job as a part-time art teacher is at a parochial school that pays its teach­ers $75 a day. We spend more send­ing Abra­ham to day­care than Deb­bie makes at work. Her school may close after next year because the Dio­cese of Cleve­land can’t afford to keep so many schools open.
  • There is lit­tle hope that Deb­bie can find a full-time posi­tion as an art teacher. Even though Buhrer Ele­men­tary was just rebuilt a block north of where we live, her con­stant search­ing is dis­heart­en­ing sim­ply because there is noth­ing to find.
  • Due to a pre-exist­ing con­di­tion, Deb­bie was unable to get ade­quate med­ical insur­ance after los­ing her job. The six-month pol­i­cy she pur­chased has refused to cov­er all of the care she received dur­ing the time of the pol­i­cy. From what I’ve read late­ly, these poli­cies are a joke, and the com­pa­nies that sell them are rack­e­teers. She’s out anoth­er $700.
  • I lost my shirt with my pen­sion plan and my deferred com­pen­sa­tion plan.

To sum up, banks don’t want to loan, employ­ers screw their employ­ees, the school sys­tem is in an abysmal state, and health insur­ance is a giant malig­nant leech. This is why we vot­ed for Oba­ma. After the matrosh­ka Gauss­ian Cop­u­la-derived, over-lever­aged, shell-game orgy that Wall Street engaged in after being dereg­u­lat­ed and hand­ed a few buck­ets of lit­tle blue pills by the Bush Admin­is­tra­tion, well it was time for some change we could believe in.

But you know what, things could be much worse. We’re lucky in the fol­low­ing ways:

  • I own a solid­ly con­struct­ed home, built in 1900, that has an upper apart­ment that we rent for some sup­ple­men­tal cash.
  • I have a great job that I love, and good job secu­ri­ty.
  • I have much bet­ter health insur­ance, and live just blocks from Metro Hos­pi­tal, which has giv­en me noth­ing but excel­lent care from cour­te­ous staff since I’ve lived in Cleve­land.
  • We have plen­ty to eat, and are warm at night.
  • We have fam­i­ly and friends that look out for us.
  • We live on a street of good peo­ple, who are friend­ly and keep an eye on each other’s prop­er­ties. There are no blight­ed homes.
  • The non-bank-bailout stim­u­lus pack­age might actu­al­ly mean that Deb­bie can get a job as a teacher. She’s got a Master’s Degree in Art Edu­ca­tion after all.
  • The cost of liv­ing in Cleve­land is great. The art and music scenes are vibrant, all you have to do is look around your neigh­bor­hood. I’ve been all over Cleve­land and I’ve yet to be in a neigh­bor­hood that didn’t have reg­u­lar folks doing extra­or­di­nar­i­ly enter­tain­ing stuff.
  • We are all healthy.
  • Abra­ham is awe­some.

Infant Experimentation Project

Now that the infant sub­ject is mobile, I’ve been able to engage it in the sec­ond round of my Infant Exper­i­men­ta­tion Project. I was assist­ed in these exper­i­ments by the infant’s mater­nal unit.


You are like­ly to find the fol­low­ing record­ings quite bor­ing.

Time Trial Mark 1


In which I attempt to gain empir­i­cal data regard­ing the subject’s aes­thet­ic pref­er­ences and gauge its innate toy val­ue cost/benefit ratio analy­sis abil­i­ty. A slight infant mal­func­tion at the end of the video stopped this exper­i­ment pre­ma­ture­ly.



Sub­ject shows inabil­i­ty to rec­og­nize that it is being exper­i­ment­ed upon. Subject’s aes­thet­ic devel­op­ment extends only to taste and tex­ture. Sub­ject has a tum­my ache.

Time Trial Mark 2


Anoth­er iter­a­tion of the exper­i­ment, this time using food as the moti­va­tor, rather than toys. Sub­ject giv­en trail of food to fol­low with lit­tle to no dis­trac­tion and pater­nal encour­age­ment. An eas­i­er ver­sion of the pre­vi­ous exper­i­ment.



Sub­ject is not quite as smart as a dog.

Agility Drill


This exper­i­ment charts the subject’s poise, bal­ance, agili­ty and fast-twitch mus­cle capa­bil­i­ty using a state-of-the-art spring-loaded restraint that was cus­tomized from a sex swing that shrank in the wash. Remem­ber to only pur­chase items made from pre-shrunk cot­ton.



Sub­ject con­tin­ues to exhib­it no knowl­edge that it is being exper­i­ment­ed on. Sub­ject also shows no signs of poise, bal­ance, agili­ty or fast-twitch mus­cle capa­bil­i­ty. Sub­ject does, how­ev­er, appear to be hav­ing a good time.

Cleveland Crocuses

I’m sens­ing new kinds of life in Cleve­land; or at least com­ing out of my year-long infant-induced social hiber­na­tion. In the past cou­ple of weeks I’ve got­ten my mitts, mugs and mallei prepo­si­tioned by all kinds of var­i­ous NEO.neo-creativity.

Of course, I’m sure behind the times with a bit of most of it. My schtick seems to be ‘per­ma­nent­ly late to the par­ty’.

Pink Eye Mag­a­zine — Cleve­land-region­al arts & cul­ture news. Cur­rent­ly seek­ing more writ­ers.

Messy Mag­a­zine — web-only, sub­mis­sion-focused lit­er­ary guer­ril­la art mag.

DEFEND Cleve­land — In-progress [by me et al] site design for a cer­tain beard­ed prophet of Cleve­land sports named Mike James.

Fare Trade Records — emerg­ing Hip Hop label brought to you by the Muamin Col­lec­tive.

I’ve been try­ing to get my fin­gers into these sort of things for awhile now, but I seem to be all thumbs. Hope­ful­ly not so much any more. I’m race­horse ready for warm weath­er action. Are you going to get your hands dirty?