Cleveland Uber Alles

Untimely Dispatches from the Neighborhood of the Unrepresented & Inarticulate; Anecdotes that Pedal and Coast Through the Boot-Print of 20th Century American Urbanism

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

No Now, The Land of Begin on Euclid Avenue, near the squat Ziggurut encampment that is the Cleveland Clinic, where the continual broiling and frying of our fast food cartels scents the street with a thick, sweet fattyness, one that overwhelms the exhaust of rusted out hoop-di cars and under-utilized buslines. If there is any now to be found in this city of death, any sense of contemporaneousness, it's here, in front of the strong-armed, and childishly smiling storefronts of the Burger King and Colonel Sanders (names one suspects to be a vestige of the promise, so popular in the 1920s, that consumerism would make each of us, alone in our "affordable" homes, satiated dictators); here, where two construction derricks rise high above the backhoe-scarred asphalt, bringing us one more "state of the art building" with a bodypart or disease in its name, one more room to the ever-expanding hospital of our times. Of course, as the city dies--flashing back through its slummy mind to once proud buildings, like the Hotel Bruce, now signless, further down Euclid Avenue--it can't stop calling for doctors. Whole companies flee and the most well-to-do teenagers board Greyhounds and budget flights out, following those companies, if not their dreams. Entire offices sit vacant, save for the last few who stand outside nervously smoking under the For Rent signs. Neighborhoods sit quietly with their TVs tuned to news custom made for the fears of the suburbs, and panhandlers, wondering where all the commerce went, worry they will have only each other to panhandle. But the doctors keep coming. They might be the only ones left when the whole thing shuts down, just them and a few janitors to turn out the lights, lock up for the distant landlords and close the whole enterprise down. Somehow, when I smell the smoke that raise the roof of of the Burger King, I think of Paris, of Steak Fritte, my favorite dish, and of all those other meals the French must have enjoyed while their empire bogged itself down in Algiers and Indochina on its way to its end. It's beautiful, I think.

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