If the recession had a face

We arrived in Cleveland, Ohio today after a long day of driving yet another series of tolled highways (Ohio Turnpike was $9.00!!). We parked and checked in quickly so we could get going to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I assumed a couple hours would suffice. I was wrong. The place was amazing. The history of how modern music developed, broken down by era, or person, or theme, or social context. It was so cool to take music to this deeper historical level (beyond statistics) –  especially from someone who loves music. The 2 downsides? 1. Not enough time! 2. No photos allowed. (I snuck a few hip shots and then got in trouble). It’s definitely a must see for any music lover.

Cleveland, on the other hand, was not as wonderful. As we walked down many of, what one would assume were, the main streets, I began talking to Ray about what I was pretty confident must have been an enormous fire. The downtown core is full of buildings that are missing windows or boarded up. The outsides are brick, but they look charred. Most of the buildings are 20 stories tall and empty. There are no restaurants or people walking down the streets. There are 3 sports arenas to walk to, but everything else is (almost) to a ghost town. There was even one closed up Subway restaurant saying they had to shut down because they gave money to the landlord, who didn’t pay the electric bill and their power got shut off. In addition, there isn’t much city transit. The highways are highly tolled, and a mess. They have lots of theaters and parking lots surroundings the stadiums/theaters – but they are mostly empty. Daily downtown parking here is $5, which is a steal given what we have seen in other cities, but even then they are still mostly empty. Churches – beautiful ones, have closed up shop as well. Besides the few tourist attractions, the town seems empty, desolate and depressed. Bank employees are siting outside by the dozens, smoking away and talking as if it’s the end of the world.  Ray turned to me and said, “THIS is the face of the recession.”  And he is right. It is not as obvious in tourist driven towns or rich hubs like Manhattan, but some states (and cities) are definitely struggling, and this appears to be one of them.

On a different note, the baseball game was great. Except for the part where the Blue Jays lost in the bottom of the 9th. It was 4 – 0 for the Jays…and then, bottom of 9, Cleveland gets 1, then loads the bases. Then an out. Then – Grand Slam. Fireworks go off, stadium explodes, we are disappointed, but also kind of excited to witness a cool baseball moment like that. Random fact: Cleveland INDIANS have 4 mascots – a giant purple bird (with his own theme song saying he’s from the bad part of town) and 3 dancing hotdogs (ketchup, mustard and onions). I guess this is better than Red-faced-logo-matching-Indians running around. But if they know that would be racist, why not change the name too? At the stadium no one calls them Indians (out loud anyway). Always “the tribe.”  Just an observation.


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