Rust Belt Chic: The Cleveland Anthology provides an inside-out snapshot of the city, containing contributions by established authors and newcomers alike. Rust Belt Chic tells stories about failure (mills closing), conflict (Pekar’s constant grousing), growth (a thriving Iraqi immigrant community) and renewal (moving away only to, finally, return home). Put together, these stories create a new narrative about Cleveland that incorporates but deepens and widens the familiar tropes of manufacturing, stadiums and comebacks. The print version contains 38 essays and images; the ebook includes 50. Edited by Richey Piiparinen and Anne Trubek, it is available in print and expanded electronic form.
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Rust Belt Chic: The Cleveland Anthology provides an inside-out snapshot of Cleveland. All the selections in this anthology take up, explicitly or implicitly, the idea of Rust Belt Chic, a concept that has been bandied about by developers, urbanists and journalists as a possible way to revitalize Cleveland and similar cities.
The book is descriptive, not prescriptive. It tells stories of who we are, not who we are promising or pretending to be. Cleveland is not perfect. But it has a distinct sense of place. And in a world of ever-growing ephemerality and superficiality, our authenticity is an asset. We need to be ourselves, if only to resist the temptation of trying to falsely rebrand ourselves.
America is in the grips of a budding “roots movement.” Desires for the splashy are giving way to a longing for the past. Many are turning back toward the Rust Belt and geographies like it to find what’s they’ve been missing. Yes, the Rust Belt is a severe land, a disinvested land, a land of conflict. But the Rust Belt is also a land that lacks illusions. And that is becoming attractive to folks, be they a returning expat from Florida or a young creative type tired of the bells and whistles of Global City, USA. This attraction is captured by the term “Rust Belt Chic”.
Rust Belt Chic is churches and work plants hugging the same block. It is ethnic as hell. It is the Detroit sound of Motown. It is Cleveland punk. It is getting vintage t-shirts and vinyl for a buck that are being sold to Brooklynites for the price of a Manhattan meal. It is babushka and snakeskin boots. It is babushka in snakeskin boots. It is wear: old wood and steel and vacancy. It is contradiction, conflict, and standing resiliency. But most centrally, Rust Belt Chic is about home, or that perpetual inner fire longing to be comfortable in one’s own skin and one’s community. This longing is less about regressing to the past than it is finding a future through history.
The best revitalization efforts occur by bringing the past into the present—or by seeing what was there, understanding how it failed, and then integrating mistakes into a plan for the future. This is how individuals revitalize broken lives. It is a way for communities to revitalize broken cities, too.
And that’s what this book is, too: a community effort to tell the story of a city. Inside these covers are narratives of failure, conflict, growth and renewal, the same themes we find in Cleveland. Our goal for this book is to retell Cleveland’s story, to create a new narrative that incorporates but deepens and widens the familiar tropes of manufacturing, stadiums and comebacks.
Now, before we throw you into Cleveland, a little background on how the book came about. We put it together during the Summer 2012, prompted by hearing echoes of a Cleveland “resurgence” or “revitalization” on various national wires. We—two writers from different perspectives: one a born and bred West Sider, the other a recent arrival, living on the East Side–decided to tell the story from the inside-out rather than have it told by others, outside-in. The result is not pretty or shiny, but it is beautiful. It’s a book about Cleveland after all.
–Richey Piiparinen & Anne Trubek
Richey Piiparinen, “Anorexic Vampires, Cleveland Veins: The History of Rust Belt Chic”
Jim Russell, “Revenge of the Pittsburgh Potty”
Eric Anderson, “Pretty Things To Hang on the Wall”
Pete Beatty, “Pilgrim’s Progress”
Huda Al-Marashi, “Cleveland’s Little Iraq”
Kristin Ohlson, “Drinks on the River”
Clare Malone, “Little Italy’s Shabby Chic”
Lee Chilcote, “The Long Slow Walk of Detroit Shoreway”
Erin O’Brien, “Slavic Village Deli”
Michael Ruhlman, “Unstoppable Houses on Changeless Terrain”
David C. Barnett, “Tales of the Regional Art Terrorists”
Jim Rokakis. “Ward 6’
Roldo Bartimole, “Pray for Cleveland: Reflections of an Investigative Reporter”
Kevin Hoffman, “Strange Love, or How We Stopped Bitching and Learned to Love Cleveland”
Mandy Metcalf, “Rockefeller and Rust Belt Romance”
IV. Growing Up
Sean Decatur, ““When The Number 9 Bus Was Like Home, and Downtown Was My Playground”
Noreen Malone, “Letting Go of the Stats”
David Giffels, “Lake Effect”
Connie Schultz, “Rust Belt Dreams”
Denise Grollmus, “Speak in Tongues”
Susan Grimm, “Not Bullet Points or I Remember Cleveland”
Annie Zaleski, “There’s Always Next Year”
–Ted Sikora, Apama: Cleveland’s Resident Superhero –
Erick Trickey, “Harvey Pekar’s Nagging Muse”
Christine Borne, “Towards a Literature of the Rust Belt”
Nicole Hennessy, “Dangerous Poets”
Jimi Izrael, “Not A Love Letter”
Afi Scruggs, “South Euclid, Then And Now”
Laura Putre, “The Tiny Record Empire In Cleveland”
Rebecca Meiser: “A Cove In Collinwood”
Phillip Turner, “Remembering Mr. Stress, Live at the Euclid Tavern”
Elizabeth Weinstein: “Jane Scott’s Rust Belt Values”
Chris Wise, “Yes, Hardcore”
Alissa Nutting: “A (Really Nice) Drink for the Working Man”
Doug Trattner, “How We Arrived At Beef Cheek Pierogis”
Mark Tebeau, “Lessons of Industrial Tourism”
Douglas Max Utter, “Randall Tiedman: Genius Loci”
Claire McMillan, “The Seriousness of Vintage”
Philip Metres, “A Cleveland of the Mind: Or, Thirteen Ways of Looking at a City”
Jonathan Wehner, “Love Letter to Winter”
VIII. Back Home
Joe Baur, “Why I Am Not A Boomerang”
Stephanie Gautam, “One That Denver Lost”
Laura Maylene Walter, “Crossing the Ohio Border”
Jacqueline Marino, “A Comforting Kind of Shame”
Anne Trubek, “Hart Crane, Poet and Park”
Richey Piiparinen, “Hunting for Gain In A City of Loss”
–Dave Lucas, “River on Fire”–
Joslyn Grostic, “A Cleveland Nationalist Comes of Age”
Mansfield Frazier, “A Vineyard in Hough”