Cleveland's Fantastic Mr. Fox

Arts , Region

Cleveland's Fantastic Mr. Fox

Posted by Ivan Sheehan and tagged with artist, Beachland Ballroom, Cleveland, concert, music; 12:00am, November 12th 2009

Although he's not a household name - and fought hard against media to make sure he never became one - Cleveland's Bill Fox has a cult following among music fans. In the 1980s, Fox lead The Mice, a Cleveland-based power trio featuring his brother Tommy on drums and bassist Ken Hall. With Fox's young Paul Westerberg-like vocals, and music that recalled the pop sensibilities and infectious melodies of Big Star, with the upbeat freneticism of British contemporaries The Jam and McCarthy. The band released one EP For Almost Ever in 1985, followed by the Scooter LP in 1986, before breaking up. Scat Records, managed by Cleveland-native Robert Griffin, released both recordings in a singular LP in 2004, titled For Almost Ever Scooter. It's an absolute must-own record for power pop fans. Fox disappeared from the music scene for years, then returned in the late-90s with two critically acclaimed records: Shelter From the Smoke and Transit Byzantium. The releases were a marked departure from The Mice, with Fox cultivating an inspired folk sound that served to better highlight his everyman lyricism, which often discussed his hometown on the North Coast. And then Fox went off the radar, again. His silence is now the stuff of legend, but who cares? He's been back playing music for months, and he takes the stage at the Beachland Tavern this Friday at 10:30 PM, as part of the two-day International Pop Overthrow Festival. As if you needed added reason to go, Afternoon Naps take the stage after Fox's set. Tickets are $10. 

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In "Closure," Renewed Energy


Posted by Sarah Sphar and tagged with benefit, party, poetry, writer; 12:00am, November 9th 2009

On November 7, The LIT, Cleveland's Literary Center, celebrated its 35th anniversary at Convivium 33 Gallery. A large crowd filled the soaring space to mingle, reminisce and view an exhibit of photography by Cleveland artist Donald Black Jr. (View a gallery of photos from the evening here.)

The LIT reached back into its history and re-created one of the most popular events from its past, the "Mirror of the Arts" series, which combined poetry with other art forms. Titled "For Closure: Visions of Reality, Words of Promise," the night combined Black's images of the devastating effects of Cleveland's foreclosure crisis with a live reading of poems inspired by the photos. Later, an honors ceremony awarded lifetime memberships and recognized the contributions of the group's founding members.

For Cleveland's literati and LIT executive director Judith Mansour, the evening was a coup: a diverse crowd, lots of young people, a successful pledge drive. And though Black's unforgiving images showed the reality of a city with plenty of problems, poets like Shurice Gross, Giao Buu and Kristin Ohlson gave voice to the issue, and the LIT's founding members reminded us to keep building, keep striving, keep creating.

Another 35 years? I can't think why not.

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Food & Drink


Posted by Sarah Sphar and tagged with Cleveland, dinner, food, restaurant; 12:00am, November 5th 2009

Cleveland's Restaurant Week is officially on: Now through November 14, you can enjoy $30 prix fixe meals at many area favorites. Restaurant Week is a genius time to try a place that your budget might not normally allow. Just be aware of a few things before you go, and your sweet deal won't leave you feeling sour.

While there is information about Restaurant Week at the Cleveland Independents website, the best place to get any and all of your questions answered is the restaurant you'd like to visit. Do your homework, because not every Cleveland Independents member restaurant is participating, and some participants may have additional restrictions. For instance, certain restaurants might not offer the $30 prix fixe menu on Friday and Saturday evenings, and who could blame them – these nights are traditionally the busiest for bars and restaurants, and while they'd love to have new customers come in the door, they also don't want to take a hit at the cash register. (FYI, this is very much in line with restaurant week events in other major cities.) Call first, and there won't be any uncomfortable moments when the check arrives.

The $30 cost is per person and does not include beverages, tax and gratuity; generally, you won't be able to use additional offers or coupons on top of the Restaurant Week deal. Some restaurants may offer special wine pairings, drink specials or other incentives as part of the whole experience, but they are not required to do so.

Lastly, make reservations! Restaurants appreciate it and you will, too, when you're ushered promptly to your seat instead of left languishing in a crowded foyer.

Art to Wear

Arts , Home & Style

Posted by Sarah Sphar and tagged with fashion, museum, style; 12:00am, October 17th 2009

If you're always up for a one-of-a-kind shopping opportunity, grab your wallet: tomorrow is the Textile Art Alliance's Wearable Art Fashion Show & Boutique at the LaMalfa center in Mentor. TAA, an affiliate group of the Cleveland Museum of Art, promotes interest in the textile arts and encourages further understanding and appreciation of textiles by offering lectures, workshops and exhibitions. The group's programs are open to the public, and for a $5 admission, the annual show and sale offers an opportunity to shop table boutiques featuring everything from accessories to coats and evening wear. ($45 advanced reservations included access to a preview sale, luncheon and runway show. If you missed the boat, mark your calendar for next year.) The event is a fundraiser to purchase textiles for the Cleveland Museum of Art.

The public portion of the event runs from 3pm to 5pm at LaMalfa, 5783 Heisley Road, Mentor.

Silence of the Slams


Silence of the Slams

Posted by Sarah Sphar and tagged with blog, Cleveland, region; 12:00am, October 14th 2009

On October 12, the Plain Dealer announced a change in the commenting policy on

I wasn't actually aware there had been a commenting policy at, unless "free for all" could be considered a policy. PD editors and/or seemed to be aware of this to some extent, closing comments altogether on stories that would be particularly susceptible to the free-flowing nastiness that often rages in the site's comment threads. Now, the PDs John Kroll says the paper is "fighting back," making an effort to better enforce the site's community rules, including removing comments that break the site's rules, disabling comments when things get out of hand and banning users who continue to behave like – in Internet parlance – trolls. It's a positive development, but naturally the PD is already getting a ration of heat over the announcement. Commenter endlesswar remarked, "...disabling comments on some posts and much of the editing done to comments is not in good the [sic] spirit of an open forum."

Well, perhaps not, but neither is the kind of garbage that multiplies unabated in the bowels of the comment threads. Entering an open forum does not mean to drop your manners and your brains at the door and be as objectionable as you like. You may be sitting in front of the computer in your underwear, happily eating a pastrami sandwich and dispensing your bon mots safe from the prying eyes of the world, but you are still taking part in a very human interaction. The least you can do, then, is be human.

Websites have struggled to create commenting policies that assure some level of civil discourse. And sometimes, they are criticized for seemingly arbitrary decisions about what constitutes an inappropriate comment. It seems that, on the web, nobody's perfect – just like here in the real world. And in the real world, if you don't have anything nice to say...don't create a disposable screen name and say it on the Internet.

Go here to view OhioAuthority's commenting policy.

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