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Monday, June 22, 2009

Louisville Party This Saturday

Just wanted to drop a line and invite my Kentucky and Ohio friends to what is going to be a large party on Saturday, June 27, in Louisville.

I'm one of about 40 or 50 artists who will be displaying just a couple of pieces at "Dreams: A Journey Within," an event being put on by a new group of artists with big plans for future events like this one around the midwest.

I was very flattered when Will Sieg asked me to participate, and I was further pleased when many of you took the time to answer my call for feedback a few weeks ago. I've already shipped my three pieces to Louisville. Come on out on the 27th and see which ones you helped me pick!

Also, my good friend Jason Buroker, who is going to be huge some day with his phospherescent pieces, will be coming down from Cincinnati to set up a dark-room display for you to ooh and aah at his glow-in-the-dark work.

This ain't your typical, quiet, boring, polite art show. There will be lots to drink, fire-eating freaks and at least a dozen musical acts over the eight-hour event. All for just $5 at the Ice House on Main Street near downtown Louisville. Peep the site below for details, and tell everybody you know:

The Art Cartel

OK, hope to see all of you on the 27th.

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Mike Check

You've probably read about my stepdad Mike on here a time or two. He's in a lot of pain. I saw him last weekend when I went home and this bully called cancer is really making things tough for him.

Mike muscled through the radiation last year, but the post-treatment medicine brought with it some unpleasant side effects. The bone in his lower jaw, in fact, began dying months ago, and doctors had planned to replace it with a stretch of bone from his leg in a couple of weeks.

But the pain has become so great that the doctors now are going to do the operation on Monday. This is where you come in.

I know you don't know Mike, but he's a nice guy and he kind of rescued my mom from a difficult life, so for that I owe him dearly. The most I can do from 500 miles away is hope and pray. And of course, publish a blog post where I ask you to keep a stranger named Mike Evansa in your thoughts as well. And you can of course leave a Get Well message right here.



Monday, June 08, 2009


Home is usually a great time, but this weekend was especially memorable.

Last summer, I missed my 20-year-high school reunion, which I would have loved to have attended. But what went down in the great city of Cleveland on Friday could not have been topped.

About 500 of us jammed into La Vera Party Center to raise some money for our old bud Brian Ganim. Our boy has been recovering from a stroke this year, and it's been nothing short of awe-inspiring how a community seems to have rallied around a small town's favorite son from a generation ago.

Beeg, as we called him, was one of my first friends when I moved to Richmond Heights in 1979. When he and fellow neighbor Jeff Dewerth convinced me to take the open paper route in our neighborhood, I did it without hesitation. But not long after I started, the pair finished their routes an hour early so they could follow me on mine one day.

When I came home from delivering The Plain Dealer that morning, there was a waist-high stack of papers waiting for me. The two had picked up most of the ones I'd laid down and left them on my front porch. A paperboy hazing ritual, perhaps.

Over the next couple years, Ganim would continue to get the best of me. He was an ace pitcher in Little League, and struck me out at least a few times. He'd go on to become a pretty solid pitcher for the mighty varsity Spartans, and was even drafted by the Kansas City Royals after his senior year of high school.

As if Ganim's dark curls weren't enough to make the girls pass notes around study hall, his grandparents bought him an IROC for his 16th birthday or graduation or something. I didn't have near the luck he did with the ladies, but that didn't bother me. What did bother me was that stupid Pittsburgh Steelers jacket he used to wear. You're in Cleveland, bro.

We stayed in occasional touch for a few years after high school, saw each other at parties and what not, but once people find new paths, old ones disappear. I haven't lived in Cleveland since I left for college, and average only about two visits home each year, but I didn't flinch when Bob Lewis (pictured) and Gena Henretta told me two months ago about the June 5 fund-raiser for Brian and his family. I had to be there.

Brian is in a wheelchair but hasn't lost the dimples those Heights girls also used to love. It was great to see him, as well as dozens of old friends from high school, even many of their parents.

(Twenty years later, mystery still surrounds Globegate. Contrary to what Dale Baker Friday night told Bruno Kirby, er, Mr. Lewis, I did not steal the Henrettas' globe.)

We all enjoyed a great meal, a million laughs and almost as many beers. I was one of many auction winners, which means Mom got the gift basket packed with wine and candles and some other shit when I came home the next day.

And just when it seemed the smart move to call it a night and go home, about 30 of us went to a bar next door for another round. OK, several rounds.

Neck-deep in nostalgia, I spent much of Saturday driving past the old neighborhood haunts. I visited for several hours with my Aunt Marilyn, who has a great memoir she needs to write because the history of her side of the family is a collection of fascinating stories. The big news around town over the weekend was the death of Dick Jacobs, who bought the Cleveland Indians in the 1980s and helped turn them into postseason contenders.

The reporters this weekend said Jacobs saved baseball in Cleveland in the 1980s, but that title even moreso belongs to Patrick J. O'Neill, who served as a bridge between the previous regime and whichever new buyer promised to keep the Tribe in the city. Before selling to the Jacobs family, Mr. O'Neill resisted a larger offer from a young developer named Donald Trump, who'd hoped to move the team to Atlantic City.

Why this part of the story is relevant is because Mr. O'Neill was my uncle, and he and Aunt Marilyn enjoyed a nearly 30-year marriage that produced six great sons.

"I asked him where we were going to move to if we sold to Trump because there was no way we'd survive in Cleveland if the Indians left town," Aunt Marilyn said Saturday. Too bad Art Modell and his wife didn't share that logic a decade later.

At least PD writer Terry Pluto gave Uncle Pat, who died in 1988, the proper nod in Saturday's editions.

Once I got home, there was more of Mom's great shrimp salad and a pitcher of homemade sangria. A weekend at home is like a three-day banquet. The only complaint is that Mom is so adventurous in the kitchen that she rarely cooks the same thing twice, even though I rave after everything she makes.

Later that night, I drove back to Euclid where Mom and Mike used to live, and took some shots of the sun setting over Lake Erie (pictured). It was a little cloudy, so things didn't turn out great, but what was enjoyable were the next 90 minutes I'd spend driving around Richmond Heights and Beachwood.

I hit the old condo neighborhood where I grew up, drove past Ganim's house and up Catlin Road. Or was it Catlin Drive, maybe, then a right on Trebisky and into DeSan Park. That's where I noticed a full moon, so I got out to take some pictures from the pitcher's mound of the 2A diamond, and of course, because it's Richmond Heights and the cops don't have much to do on a summer Saturday, he shone the light on me, indicating it was past park closing time and I needed to split.

But I did make it up to the high school, where the gate to the football stadium was wide open. I finally ran that game-winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter on a quarterback keeper. Of course I had to do it twice because there was a holding penalty on the first one. But once I won yet another game for the home team, the crowd did not go wild, since it was a Saturday night in June and no one was around at 10 o'clock. There I was, all victorious and popular and heroic, at the same time alone and nearing age 40. Who does this?

When I say, "no one was around," that was an exaggeration. As I left the stadium, fleeing from adoring cheerleaders and the media of course, and neared my rental car, along came another one of Richmond Heights' finest. He said nothing, just pulled up behind my car as I turned the ignition and waited for me to leave. And as I pulled away, I put the window down and detected yet another welcome surprise, that even the splendid stink of the spray of a skunk was a precious reminder of the old days.

Sunday I ran some errands and visited my dad's stone at the cemetery. I told him what I told him the last time I visited, that I'd finally get my shit together and lead a healthier, happier, more productive life. We'll see.

But then I felt pretty good about things when I brought mom to tears a couple hours later. I bought her a brand new laptop with the money I'm saving on rent now that I've moved out of Manhattan. We spent the rest of the day getting it set up, and of course eating something I'd never had of hers before -- short ribs, prepared, of course, to perfection.

Mike, meanwhile, continues to spend most of his time at home, as he's in great discomfort. That's what happens when you fight cancer for 18 months. I feel so bad for him, but stay tuned because I think there's a way all of you can lift his spirits in the next week or two.

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