Cleveland got lucky. Finally, something good has come our way in a very public fashion. Our basketball team got the first and fourth picks in the first round of the NBA draft. Woo Hoo! This after the debacle that was LeBron's "Decision" last summer which left the city's morale in the proverbial toilet. If you aren't from here, you have no way of knowing the stew of emotions associated with that day. I have no intention of going there with you now. If you are from here, you know; if you are not, I cannot explain it to you.
The night that happened, I looked at my husband (a Detroiter) and said, "Oh great, another thing Cleveland will be known for." He smiled the smile of somone who's lived in a city whose sports teams have won.
Being from Cleveland is a unique challenge. It's one of the greatest places nobody knows about because for some odd reason the only thing that ever gets out about Cleveland is all the wrong that happens here. We were at one time the Mistake by the Lake (maybe to some we still are but at least nobody's running around shouting it like a nursery rhyme anymore), and for a little while we fancied ourselves a Plum (Idk whose idea that was but I hear it's still around, much to my chagrin). A lot of people believe we are a city with a sports curse (that, I believe; how else do you explain it?). Our Cuyahoga river has the distinction of being the first, if not the only, inflammable river in the world. Some genius got the idea that no building could be taller than the Terminal Tower, which in its heyday was a tall building. By today's standards, not so much. We also have a group of city officials who believe football should be played and viewed from out of doors, no matter how cold it gets. When you live on a lake and build your stadium on one, it gets pretty damn cold! So we built a brand new stadium with no dome and thought that somebody was going to want to hold a Superbowl here. MmHmmm.
So yeah, there are some pretty interesting things to say about Cleveland. But I've lived here most of my life, with the exception of a few years in Michigan and Toledo and I know that Cleveland has a lot more to offer than what gets out in the press. Cleveland's biggest problem is that socially it behaves like a petulant adolescent.Think Jan Brady (from The Brady Bunch Movie), always in the shadow of her older, prettier sister, unclear how to develop her own identity. That's us! For instance, we were popular because LeBron was, not because we were Cleveland. The reason LeBron's departure was so devastating for us was that we looked to him to define us. We have no public personality that separates us from the crowd other than our rabid sports fans. When he left we felt that he had taken the best of us with him, which wasn't true. We liked him, sort of. We definitely loved him. But we should never have let that be the only thing we took pride in as a city and mostly, whether people agree with me or not, we did. The first thing anybody said (or anybody asked us) was about LeBron.
Detroit is on its way back from the PR nightmare that was its political and social scene because it is the Motor City. When Chrysler unveiled its commercial for the new 200 at the Superbowl I knew that they were on their way back. I watched my husband. His pride was obvious, though he was kind enough not to flaunt it. The soul of the city is in the auto industry. That commercial was genius. It addressed the auto bailout as well as the city's own personal issues and did it in a way that discouraged backtalk. It reclaimed its Motown moniker and reseasoned its badass image from fearsome and lawless to strong and sexy.
Cleveland has no such moniker, unless you count that protuberant plum, which I do not. We are noted for our connection to Rock and Roll and every once in a while we get credit where credit is due but Cleveland hasn't made much of its Rock and Roll heritage other than the Hall of Fame which, if you live in Cleveland you probably never visit. We are also fast becoming a food city. Lots of restaurants. I'm curious to see what the powers that be do with that. And we got a Casino, sort of, if Governor Kasich doesn't piss them off and force them to take their toys elsewhere.
We are not New York or Chicago, Miami or Los Angeles, Las Vegas or any number of other high profile cities but neither are many of the other cities in the U.S. But everything important in the world can be found here: family, friends, industry, a connection to the past, a relevant present and yes, even the future.