Tag Archives: Lakewood

Calling for integrity from Lakewood city council

On December 7, I joined around a dozen other people speaking against what is a frankly laughable rush by Lakewood City Council to turn over Lakewood Hospital and all its assets to Cleveland Clinic for dismantling and recycling. This was a first for me. Apparently I nonetheless did reasonably well—aside from achieving any interest from the addressees of my comments. I see this morning that Scene‘s Eric Sandy even quoted from me, though his suspicion about council’s reaction is the same as my own: “No dice, it would seem.”

Ah well. Some times, you have to stand up and speak for the record even if the people who most need to listen have blocked their ears. A time may come when statements I have made on this issue will, like those of many others, be remembered and thereby yet lead toward wisdom.

For now, for that record, my remarks to city council:

Prior to this year, 1996 was probably the last time that Lakewood performed a commensurate evaluation of health care. Although I am guessing, it may be that at least one member of council had yet to begin high school in that year, and at all events few of our public servants occupied their current roles.

For this reason I would like to regard some of the instances when opportunities may have been missed, as well as the drawn-out pace of affairs overall, as indicating something of a learning process rather than any intentional oversight. I would like further to note that on more than one occasion, city officials have demonstrated patience and understanding that seems highly appropriate given the uncertainties faced by all parties in this process, rather than fixating on whether or not every “i” is dotted in the first draft or on whose responsibility it is to reach out at a given moment.

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The Rust in Rust-Belt Politics

I have spent months, at this point, mentally drafting various summaries of my year in local politics. While I have believed for quite some time that the saga of Lakewood Hospital would not genuinely end with this fall’s election, regardless of its results, now is probably nonetheless as good a time as any to make some conclusions about what I’ve learned.

I must confess that, while I did not take victory for granted, none of my draft versions were really about specific results one way or another… but faced with multiple bitter losses, that suddenly pushed aside most other musings. During many restless hours last night, I basically threw everything out and started my analysis over from scratch.

One of the blessings of age, I suppose, is that at this point I have seen electoral fortunes violently reversed more than once, and some kind of life goes on. Discouraging as this may be in general, it’s now more difficult to react to any specific reverse like it’s the end of the world than it was, say, 11 years ago. It’s even more difficult since I always recall the column turned in by the local media’s token conservative* after Barack Obama’s re-election; even accepting just for argument’s sake his very different perceptions of the outcome, coming from a middle-aged adult it was just so absurdly fucking over-the-top that the memory acts as a check any time I get close to a similar reaction. Even I can’t take one election result that seriously any more.

As useful as this probably is, however, it also leaves me with a bit of a dilemma. I feel silly going to that extreme. But I find the opposite extreme equally silly. One Lakewood personality** seems to demonstrate this regularly, including this morning, i.e. “hey, we’re all neighbors; so many people on both sides tried very hard to do what’s best for the community, that’s something great.” Yeah no. I don’t believe anything of the sort. But what do I say instead that doesn’t shade into childish pronouncements of doom?

I believe I’ve figured it out. What’s more, a lot of it has already appeared here on this blog, and much of it wasn’t even my own opinion. In one of the many ironies of this whole shambles, I can base most of my complaints about what yesterday’s defeat represents on statements by the very same editorial board that has lobbied consistently for said defeat.

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The Street Fight for Lakewood Hospital

It has been quite a year in the campaign to defend Lakewood’s community hospital. Since exploring my reasoning, back in March, I don’t think I’ve had anything further to say here aside from a small jab at Northeast Ohio Media Group. As I have been co-manager of the Save Lakewood Hospital web site, it has generally made sense to present my observations and experiences there.

Events yesterday have motivated some more casual and personal comments, that can’t really be formatted into detached editorial voice. So, a few updates on what feels like a turning point in the long war…

First, my thanks to former congressman Dennis Kucinich. When I heard that he planned a press conference and community forum to discuss Lakewood Hospital, I was frankly very skeptical, of the timing if nothing else. Nine months into our campaign, I did wonder whether Save Lakewood Hospital would be boosting Kucinich’s profile rather than vice versa. I was very happy to conclude that my suspicions were groundless; I don’t think there is any way that Mr. Kucinich could have made yesterday’s press conference less about himself. The planned program was nothing fancy at all, in fact; he collected documentation of Cleveland Clinic’s fraud and maladministration, spoke in extremely measured fashion about its significance, then presented copies to the several media representatives who dutifully turned up when summoned. Thoughtful, mature, good civic participation.

That, at least, was the formal program. The informal program of certain attendees was rather different…

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Urban form: Lakewood vs Petaluma

Over the weekend I made a flying visit to California, attending one old friend’s wedding and visiting another for the first time since, I think, 2006.

I spent most of my time near the far fringes of the San Francisco Bay Area. Friday afternoon and Saturday I was in Petaluma, and Sunday I zipped down to Santa Cruz before a red-eye flight out of SFO. I saw more of Petaluma, though both towns (in addition to their inherent attractions) made an interesting comparison with my adopted home of Lakewood.

Giant-size electrical outlet in Petaluma

Found in downtown Petaluma: kitschy, sure, and PG&E is also a horrible company, but this installation is fun all the same

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Ten years in exile

The other day, I recalled that this spring I passed the one-decade mark since moving to Ohio, and have made no real comment. Honestly, I suppose that I really have little of great interest to say.

I have spent a large part of my life here, at this point. More than I spent in central Iowa, even if one rolls together the years in Des Moines and the schoolyear residencies in Ames that preceded them. More than half my adult life, even if one starts that clock at 18.

Yet my living here is really still the product of a random life accident. (So long as I remain, people are never going to stop asking “how ever did you end up here?”) I found myself here largely by chance, and have remained because… Let me put it this way:

Cleveland is okay, but it’s just a place. Lakewood is a comfortable corner, but it too is ultimately just a place. I recall the final issue of the 1990s Starman series, when Jack Knight is heartbroken about parting from his beloved Opal City; if any character’s Opal fetish surpassed Jack’s it was the Shade’s, and yet the Shade offers a reality check to Jack’s handwringing: “Opal is a city. Beautiful, but in the end just a city.” That’s about where I am, at this point in life, not just with Cleveland but anywhere else.

The starry-eyed dreams of my 20s are put away. I realize that some people’s lives really do change dramatically as the result of a change of address, whether because a community offers these or those particular advantages, or because they simply fall in love with it. I’m happy for those people. But I’m not one of them and don’t expect to become one. Falling in love is not my strong suit; buy-in is not my strong suit. I always see the flaws. This goes for Cleveland—the decay, the corruption, the incompetence, the hang-ups, the disgraceful senescence of the local media—but it goes for the alternatives as well.

I know that utopia means “no place,” now. I know that incompetence and corruption flourish in most communities. Meanwhile, potentially offsetting advantages are usually offset, themselves, by other drawbacks. Appalling climate. Too far from my family, commercial and social ties. Expense; most cities are too expensive compared with Cleveland, and local wages are unlikely to affect my remote-working freelance income. I keep an eye on things, and some day circumstances may change. I have lots of boxes ready to go should that happen.

Meanwhile, here I am, and I really have no deep observations about Cleveland or Ohio. The closest I can come is to explain that in a lot of ways I have never really left the place I grew up in; a lot of America and indeed the modern world is increasingly generic, these days, but within the prairie core of the Midwest the differences are vanishingly small from one end to the other. There is variation, I’m sure, but I don’t think it has much to do with which region you’re in, within the Midwest. Having lived in all three, I can say with some confidence that the difference between life in a small Iowa city and a large Iowa city is much greater than the difference between a large Iowa city and a large Ohio city.

I do prefer the city, and I think I prefer a city on the scale of Cleveland a bit over the scale of Des Moines (though the difference is shrinking year by year). Otherwise, one Midwestern city (or inner suburb thereof, for the pedantic) is much like another for my purposes, just now. I live in one, it’s okay, and such things as I want to change about my life seem unlikely to be furthered much by exchanging this city for any other within reach.

Unless anyone has an artist-in-residency program, or some other grant incentive they want to talk about. No? Right-o, then.

Save Lakewood Hospital

I feel like I ought to make a few notes here about Lakewood Hospital, and the grassroot campaign to save it, since I have been assisting said campaign for several weeks now.

Logo for Save Lakewood Hospital; links to campaign site

My work. Probably not destined for any design annuals, but my clients are pleased and I can argue for everything going on here.

At the risk of me-centrism, I think there are some notable aspects to the fact that I am interested in and supporting this effort.

I certainly do not seem to be from central casting, based on the other people I have met. Most of the people exercised about keeping Lakewood Hospital in business are middle-aged or older, and long-term residents. Many were born in the hospital, most have at least some personal interest in it. More than a few have longstanding axes to grind with city hall, as well.

This is not me. While it feels like I have been in Lakewood for a remarkably long time, at this point, my seven years still make me new guy compared with residents of 40, 50 or more years. Despite the fact that I have had more than enough run-ins with local healthcare, I have never been inside Lakewood Hospital for any reason; others’ fretting about having to travel a few extra miles for non-emergency care seems rather abstract to me, at best.

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Lakewood, McDonald’s and community

This one feels a long time past. I originally wrote it in mid-2011, but it seems like so long ago.* I have always felt that I did some good thinking here, however. Meanwhile, I’ve decided now is the time to repost it here in my long-term archive. Lakewood is currently confronting another top-down plan to replace a familiar piece of the community** with some sort of corporate wheeze, and one of the most vocal critics has even declared the pending liquidation of Lakewood Hospital “another McDonald’s.”

No, no and no. Among many other differences, Lakewood Hospital actually matters, I think. Whereas the arrival of McDonald’s on Detroit Road, I argued and still argue, was mostly just a petty annoyance. Unfortunately I have a growing sense that too many people cannot tell the difference, a want of perspective that cannot be helping anyone, except those powers that are content to see citizen “meddling” diffused into griping about a dozen issues rather than concentrating on doing something about one.

For this reason among others, I’m going to skip most of the opening paean to Lakewood…

Lakewood is packed with locally-owned bars and restaurants; I even did a cartographic guide to the bars once. Meanwhile, fast-food chains and big-box stores are almost unknown. The biggest “big box” is a supermarket and there’s really just no room for a walmart or home despot, etc.; there are a few chain establishments like a Schlubway and a Domino’s and a Dunkin’ Donuts, but aside from one Taco Bell the only big-league standalone drive-thru greasepits are banished to the fringes of the city and completely absent from “mainstream life” in Lakewood. (Cue ominous piano chords.) That is, for now

This morning, I got up, stumbled around through the usual re-orientation to consciousness, pulled up teh intarweb and read with dismay of the “potential McDonald’s move to Detroit Theatre property.” Sacre bleu!

Oh the ignominy. When the theater closed several weeks ago, I wasn’t really concerned since it had always looked kind of shabby and I go to a movie theater at most once every two or three years anyway. Had I known, though… the Detroit Theatre is hardly “paradise,” but on the other hand “a parking lot” would be far less demoralizing than a McDonald’s.

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Holmes, Bookshop notes Nov. 2014

Some updates on my Sherlock Holmes collection, with a visit to a new Lakewood business on the way…

After keeping my eye out for a copy for some time, I finally picked up A Study in Sherlock recently. This is now item #44 in my collection.

This is as good as I could have hoped; I believe it’s the best Holmes anthology I have read so far. (Maybe Exploits of challenges it, but only if two authors counts as an anthology.) Great variety, with a lot of tangential extrapolations of Holmes of a more thoughtful nature than, e.g., “let’s do a Holmes story but with Martians/ghosts/zombies.” No doubt these things can be good, but the inherent novelty of this kind of mashup wears off rapidly and I think you’ve got to work very hard to add some other merit. The inventive approaches in A Study in Sherlock, by contrast, offered both freshness of concept and, in most cases, quality of writing.

Lots of good stories here, and even a short, delightful comic by Colin Cotterill. Neil Gaiman will be the headline contributor for most people, and I enjoyed “The Case of Death and Honey” though I’m not quite sold on the premise. Perhaps I’m just nettled by any stories that revolve around “explaining” some major element of the canon that the author finds unpersuasive. I don’t think I’m fundamentally opposed to such efforts, but my reaction here was similar to my objections to The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, if not quite as intense. Anyway.

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Good things, August 2014

I had some tests done today. At the moment, the internet does not need my complete medical history, but I feel like noting that the whole process (though it is quite a process) went relatively well. And, all of the results were what one would hope they would be.

This has really been a good summer in fact, on a personal level. So I feel like briefly remarking on a few positive items from the past month or so (which has witnessed much that was negative, on a larger scale).

Lakewood has a nice farmer’s market every Saturday. I usually walk or bike up and buy some produce. A variety of other goods are also on offer, though, as is entertainment on may weekends.  A couple of times this summer, Diana Chittester has performed. I did not know who she was, but I liked her sound, and last Saturday I just sat listening for a while. Wonderful stage presence, even when the stage is a tiny temporary pavilion between the farmer’s market and Marc’s parking lot. I also bought her new CD, which along with all of the others she priced at “what you feel comfortable paying.” I see that it’s basically the same system online, too. Pretty cool.

I went up to Holden Arboretum for the first time a few weeks ago. That was lovely. Beautiful central area and ornamental gardens, plus some excellent hiking, at least for me. I hiked way back on the optional loop trails, and felt it for days afterward. (Fortunately I’ve at least done enough hiking that I knew to wear boots.) But it was wonderful, just getting away from everything into plain peaceful trees and nature.

A Twitter friend pointed me toward another list of archives that emphasize sharing their content to use, rather than hoarding it with copyright threats and usage tolls.

Warren Ellis has been updating a blog again. I’m not entirely sure why it’s here rather than at his main site, but whatever. I’ve been enjoying these little entries since the discovery. Meanwhile I created a favicon for my own site, here, a few days ago and its humorous homage still makes me smile.

Finally, the Opportunity rover set a new record last month. I can’t find where I saw it, now, but I recall someone making the observation around the same time that “Mars is now the only planet in our solar system populated entirely by active terrestrially manufactured robots” or something to that effect. That’s also pretty cool. Manned space flight is not really producing much excitement… but, it is possible to look on the bright side and recognize that some kind of colonization of Mars is under way.