Thursday, 1 August 2013

Cleveland – a blue collar, Bruce Springsteen kind of place

Travelling in a cab from downtown Cleveland out to an area called Beachwood and my taxi driver tells me that Cleveland is very much a blue collar town, similar to Pittsburgh. It's a good sort of place, he said, although it does have crime issues associated mainly with drugs.

View from Room 2318 of the Marriott Downtown in Cleveland, Ohio.
It seems like a nice enough sort of place, although we did discuss Aerial Castro, the guy who kidnapped and held captive three women. He gets sentenced today. The house in which he lived will be knocked down, but my cabbie told me, but it was only about five minutes' drive from the hotel I was staying in.

Sadly for Cleveland, it's what the place will now be remembered for, along the lines of, "You're going to Cleveland? Isn't that where that guy held those women captive?" Sad when you consider it's rock 'n' roll associations and, if it's right, the assertion that Cleveland was the birthplace of Superman. My cabbie, Rich, says that the rock 'n' roll link with Cleveland is linked to a Cleveland-based DJ who, apparently, coined the phrase 'rock 'n' roll'.

What was both alarming and mildly amusing was a situation that arose with a traffic cop. Rich thought it was clear to go because of a green light and because he thought the cop was beckoning him to start up, but no, he wasn't doing any such thing and instead came over and launched into a tirade of abuse and threatened Rich with a ticket for laughing at him. He wasn't laughing at all, he was merely taken aback by the cop's reaction. According to Rich, he's probably a regular cop on traffic duty. Most regular cops don't like doing traffic duty, hence his bad mood – perhaps. Perhaps he's just a nasty cop, who knows?

After my work was done, Rich picked me up from Beachwood and drove me back to the Marriott. I prefer dealing with taxi drivers I know and have established some kind of rapport with; Rich will drive me to the airport later today for my flight to Pittsburgh.

Outside the weather looks pretty good. Less cloud than yesterday. My room looks out over the First Energy Stadium, home of the Cleveland Browns and formerly known as the Cleveland Browns Stadium. In addition to being the home of the Cleveland Browns, the stadium holds other events, like school and college football and rock concerts. The Cleveland Browns are in the National Football League. The team's official colours are burnt orange, seal brown and white and they were founded in 1945 by businessman Arthur B 'Mickey' McBride.

Beyond the stadium is what looks like the sea, but is, in fact, a huge lake – so huge it has a horizon and waves. The lake in question is Lake Irie and Cleveland sits on its southern shore in Cuyahoga County. In 1969 the Cuyahoga River caught fire and Cleveland was once known as 'the mistake on the lake' as a result.

The sentencing of Ariel Castro is, in fact, the big news of the day here today. Castro held Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight in captivity for a decade, fathered a child with one of them and played Russian roulette with them using a loaded gun, it transpires. Needless to say, he'll be going to jail for a long time.

More later...

In Cleveland, Ohio

Probably one of the best flights from London to Chicago (eight hours) was the BA flight out of Heathrow at 1150hrs yesterday (Wednesday). After we broke through the cloud it was plain-sailing all the way across and I had a decent seat, by the window, with plenty of leg room.

Eggs Benedict at Heathrow Airport – not brilliant.
During the flight I watched Toy Story (Toy Story 1) my favourite movie, but what was really worth watching was Karl Pilkington and Warwick Davis in An Idiot Abroad. What a fantastic programme.

The food was good too: a choice of seared fillet of British beef with barbecue sauce, spicy potato wedges and Mediterranean vegetables or roasted corn-fed chicken with summer truffle and wild mushroom sauce, herb mashed potatoes, baby fennel and carrots. For dessert there was vanilla strawberry checsecake, although I don't think that was on the menu as I recall a kind of chocolatey mousse thing, which was good. Tea followed and they were generous with the wine. All in all a perfect flight.

Daniel Day-Lewis at Chicago airport
I had to hang around Chicago airport for a few hours so I went to Romano's Macaroni Grill for Pollo Caprese, a glass of cabernet and half of a rather large cheese cake. Oh, and soup to start with bread. Very nice, but now I know why it's called the Windy City.

Flew out of Chicago for Cleveland at 1840hrs last night and, by the time I got to my hotel room, Room 2318, I was tired out. For me it was something like 0300hrs. Still, I've had around seven hours sleep give or take and I've just had an amazing breakfast, courtesy of the Marriott Downtown here in Cleveland. Tea (in a pot without a lid) but we'll let them off as the main course was excellent. Only the Americans can eat skin-on potatoes for breakfast. I enjoyed them with scrambled egg, some cheesy potatoes and a couple of sausages and this was all prefaced by a bunch of fresh fruit: melon, mandarins, that sort of stuff, not forgetting a large glass of orange (well, two large glasses of orange juice).

Feeling suitably refreshed, I organised a late check-out for 2pm and now I'm ready for work.

Cleveland, by the way is where Superman was invented (or, I guess, created). At least that was what it said at the decidedly deserted 'sorry for our dust' Cleveland airport last night. It's also home to the rock 'n' roll hall of fame museum, so I'm told, but I doubt I'll have the time as I've got to fly to Pittsburgh this evening.

Better call it a day there. Will report again later, probably from Pittsburgh.
Marriott Downtown Cleveland