Archived Story

Cleveland still rocks, starts to roll

Published 11:18pm Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Cleveland Institute of Art’s annual Design Spring Show April 27 featured futuristic cars Batman would envy, clever wooden furniture, imaginative toys and, best of all, our daughter, Savannah, a junior, who will be interning this summer with Rubbermaid in North Carolina.

I hadn’t been to CIA since dropping her off for orientation in 2009 and was excited to see her wall in architect Frank Gehry’s Peter B. Lewis Building at Case Western Reserve University.

The most striking design was the simplest.

“Nesl” is a two-inch-square platform of silicone rubber with nine soft, rounded cylindrical fingers sticking up to hold paper clips, business cards, pens, cellphones or anything else that needs organizing on your desk.

Senior industrial design majors Joshua Dryden, Pete Whitworth and Samuel Li posted a video about their invention on Kickstarter, a website that bills itself as a “funding platform for creative projects” (

Birdhouse Studio is the trio’s collective identity.

The Plain Dealer art critic reported they raised $6,550 of their $30,000, 26-day goal from 193 backers as far away as Switzerland, Austria, England and Russia.

Last I checked they were up to $10,661 from 296 investors with 22 days to go.

Their target amount covers molds, materials, manufacturing, warehousing and shipping for 4,000 units.

Right over the wall from where Savannah and Liz live in Little Italy is Lake View Cemetery, with the opulent tomb of assassinated 20th President James Garfield and the graves of John D. Rockefeller (people leave coins on his headstone) and Eliot Ness.

I was surprised by mosaics, stained glass and a 12-foot marble statue in a 180-foot edifice the size of a lighthouse for a man in office a few months before being shot at a train station on July 2, 1881.

The 49-year-old lingered until Sept. 19. They hung his killer.

The crypt containing bronze caskets of Garfield and wife Lucretia and ashes in urns of daughter Molly and her husband is considered the first U.S. mausoleum.

It even has a ballroom, closed to the public since 1994.

This supposedly haunted sandstone castle with a deck overlooking Lake Erie was completed for $135,000 — in May 1890!

The Plain Dealer reported on the “youth movement” transforming downtown and development creating parking challenges.

Euclid Avenue, which reminds me of Woodward in Detroit, didn’t used to bustle like now. It took a 26-year-old San Francisco woman who sells medical devices for Stryker three weeks to find a place to live.

“Clevelanders are such great people,” she said. “It’s that Midwest charm.”

I’d agree. It’s comforting as the dad of a daughter acclimated to dense traffic coursing through narrow streets.

There is a new convention center. In mid-May the Horseshoe Casino Cleveland opens on Public Square, demonstrating the very-green Forest City’s vitality, though I can’t imagine paying $9 a day to park for work.

The Plain Dealer calls it an “historic migration. Twentysomethings are creating a new and potentially powerful housing pattern as they snap up downtown apartments as fast as they become available.”

Someday I’ll get back to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and see the Indians play at Progressive Field. For now, it’s enough to know the Cuyahoga River catching fire in 1969 is ancient history.

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