by Dan Smith
“I am down with you crooked river
scarred used but not used up
your glittering refinement glistens
like too much lipstick on an old whore
as night blessed night softens
pocked marked edges and buoyed by dreams
even worn out hulks can pretend love
I am down with your crooked river
on the float with your illuminated banks
bridges all tarted up for some ghost
of a real river festival
when your beauty unadorned
was enough to make us weep”
–two stanzas from “I Am Down With You Crooked River” from Crooked River: Poetry by Dan Smith, deep cleveland press 2005.
Looking at the photo by Garie Waltzer serving as our header today I thought of this—
“Driving through the iron landscape of early Winter, early December: black and white and monochrome: dust of snow on slanted roofs, wide plains of iron, gone numb under a hard low sky, driving blank, gone frozen coasting the lines of longing, slowly scattering all invisible ghosts — even that of loneliness which usually follows all around and as a good friend” —
—which is how Mike DeCapite opens his novel, Through The Windshield, which I’ve been reading on my kindle.
Here’s Harvey Pekar’s review of the novel.
Mike is coming to CLE on 12/20. I wonder if we might get a dusting of snow for the occassion.
Sometimes I think John Hyduk is summoning a nostaglic muse, real-man-for-the-1970s style, from when Springsteen was young. Sometimes I think I’m a fool for thinking that, that what he’s writing is what we keep running circles around looking for and not finding elsewhere, that he’s our zeitgeist after all.
You decide: some tapas from his “Loading Dock Manifesto,” which appeared in Esquire last year:
No job’s perfect, this one especially. I’m fifty-nine. The first two hours of my shift are spent outside. You work outdoors in a Great Lakes winter and you know cold — mind-fogging, finger-stiffening cold. In the summer you head off to work just as the sidewalk cafés and patio bars are filling up, driving past laughing guys and girls with bare shoulders studying the appetizer menu. I don’t know which season is worse….
The contemporary job-search experience can best be summed up by the phrase “part-time man.” I saw that scrawled on an index card thumbtacked to a job board: “Seeking Part-time Man.”…
Big Rick favors a biker’s bandanna and looks like Monsieur Zig-Zag on growth hormones. He’s the king of sports trivia; ask him what number Archie Griffin wore and he’ll say, “Ohio State or the pros?” Then there’s Rob, my buddy Rob. Rob trails dreadlocks, speaks fluent Bob Marley, and always surprises. He’s a cabbage wizard, and if there’s a rarer bird than a Rastafarian who cooks Bavarian I haven’t found one. Dario and Danny are the newbies. I don’t know much about them. I don’t have to…
Read more: John Hyduk – Loading Dock Manifesto Essay by John Hyduk – Esquire http://www.esquire.com/features/essay/john-hyduk-0511#ixzz2DvTfbeo6
Below, three of Philip Metres‘ 13 Ways of Looking at Cleveland. Read the rest here.
2. The scuffed, the soiled, the scarred. The scalded arm of the short order cook now wrapped in a white cast, who watches his girlfriend shake her pitching arm in the sixth inning of work for the Carroll Blue Streaks, in University Heights. She’s tiring. He’d give his arm for her if he could.
3. The magnolia blooming on Magnolia Drive, and the hordes of wedding parties in black and burgundy tuxes, and ivory and saffron and powder-blue chiffon dresses, all assembling in rows for wedding album photos around Wade Park Lagoon. They play starring roles in a film about love, and the need to voice it publicly. Matinees are free, all Saturdays from April to October.
8. One dark night, the twilight of yellow streetlamps echoed by the snow piled on sidewalks and slathering the street, and late for the Cavs game, I barreled through Ohio City, looking for an unfamiliar house, when I saw something glinting in the distance, in the middle of the street. Swinging his body down the center of the snowy street, a man on aluminum crutches.
A revised version of Anne’s essay for the anthology ran over at the Los Angeles Review of Books, and also on Salon.
“A bit too tipsy, plastic cup of Great Lakes beer in hand, I walked up to the couples and families and of the young artsy types to find out what they knew about Hart Crane. A typical encounter: “Do you know who Hart Crane is?” “Who?” “Well, we’re at the Hart Crane Memorial Park.” “What the hell does that mean?” “The park is named after him.” “No, I’ve never heard of him.”
. See more pictures of the Hart Crane Memorial Park here
I want to laugh when I hear that people are moving to Cleveland to practice their art. Then I want to spit in their faces. I want to do them grievous bodily harm. How dare they, I think. The nerve. Cleveland has never been the kind of place where it’s easy to be an artist; in fact, people who want to unravel the greater mysteries or search for universal beauty or answer the unanswerable questions usually leave Ohio, while those who stay often find themselves using art as a way to make life on the North Shore more bearable. In Cleveland, there just aren’t that many careers in the arts to be had. When I told my father I was thinking about going to the Cleveland Institute of Art, he said, “What kind of work can you find doing that?”
In fairness, he knew I lacked any sense of practicality. I wasn’t thinking about a career in graphic design. I wanted something like Warhol, but you know . . . more manly. But I was young and I didn’t have an answer to his question, so I did what he did. I found a job working construction in the steel mills.
–An excerpt from Eric Anderson’s essay, “Pretty Things To Hang On The Wall,” in Rust Belt Chic: The Cleveland Anthology.
We here at Rust Belt Chic do like our Cleveland writers, especially those who deserve more notice. Read Laura Putre’s profile of Raymond DeCapite here. Of his novels she writes,
His oeuvre reads like a long poem to the working-class West Side, the spare descriptions conjuring up the blue chug of steel mills and the 2 a.m. sizzle of fried eggs amid the cold blade of life lived by punching a clock.
Want more? Here’s a great review of the reissue of A Lost King.
I’ll admit to not having read the book, but I just ordered a copy. Maybe you might want to, too.
Read more of Laura’s writing here.
My contribution to the anthology is about Cleveland’s erstwhile poet and the overlooked park in his honor.
And I spent some time with both recently.
Hart Crane is best known for his epic, “The Bridge.” It is not about this bridge.
Nor are these lines from his poems.
But the sculptures are made of steel.
And the view is nice.
image from Cleveland Memory Project, perhaps illegally reproduced and if so will be taken down but, you know, the irony
Anthology contributor Phillip Turner has a great blog post about his piece for Rust Belt Chic: The Cleveland Anthology on a very Cleveland musician and bar. We’re smitten with the piece, which he excerpts here.