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

Thursday, October 20, 2005

d. a. levy fest The self-conscious lower-casing above is courtesy of the deceased Cleveland poet himself, though he now lives solely as a cultural reclamation project, as an expression, probably, of a lurking desire that has shadowed the shop-now zeitgeist of these last few years, a desire for some 1968-style upheaval. 1968, of course, wasn't simply the year of levy's mystery-clouded death; it was also the year of the Hough Riots (which I heard about in a breathless over-hyped way from my suburban parents, as veritable Halloween tale about black rage, the lesson of which was to be nice to the cleaning lady and to resist comparisons of her ankles to those comic ankles from Tom and Jerry cartoons). In '68, LBJ abdicated, thanks to the escalating debacle in Vietnam, MLK was assassinated, RFK was assassinated, etc. The music was never better: The Kinks did Something Else, Love did Forever Changes, and so on, and the year was so heady, such a turning point (student protests in Prague, Paris, New York), that perhaps one needed to think of it in terms of acronyms, just as Depression-era folks needed to think about Roosevelt's radical rethinking of the American promise as "alphabet soup." In 2004, Cleveland Uber Alles hoped the Mark Kurlansky's book, 1968, had intimated the pendulum swing, pointing to a summer of discontent, of MC5-inspired "fucking in the streets" that would somehow work this time and result (oh, how so many hoped) in the end of the Bush Presidency. You know it didn't work, but few have considered why: these days, almost no one can afford to take to the streets. Miss one day of work--you the non-corporate worker without PTO or sick leave especially--and you're fired. Miss one day of work, renter/debtor nation, and you're bills won't get paid. Thought of this way, by the way, Howard Dean's success is as sad as it is hopeful; knowing few of us could get out of work to do our part for democracy we merely typed in our credit card numbers and clicked hopefully. It's all we've got, I suppose. Anyway, levy and the October 29-30 festival dedicated to him at CSU and Trinity Cathedral, ought to provide the fifteen or twenty Clevelanders who attend it--aside form its presenters, of course--with an interesting, local way to tap into to their own sepia-toned visions of the year when the Zombies sang "Care of Cell 44" and it was possible to imagine a potentially draft dodging boyfriend from a place like Middleburg Heights singing such a song to his girl. I don't believe any but the, well, poorly read will find in his poems enough to qualify the man as Cleveland's Allen Ginsberg, but so what? On his own levy is interesting, and in such a Cleveland way--i.e. for reasons that no one, but a few smart folks, will find obvious. Forget about levy being arrested (who wasn't, it seems, when you're constructing a 1968 era hero?), forget even about the conspiracy theories (saving them, of course, for the Kennedys, and for the very frustration that we just can't seem to take big money or the man or the combine or whatever they call it now out of the driver's seat); instead check out levy's fine work as a graphic artist, which is featured at the top of this post.

Note, too, that levy himself wrote a poem entitled Cleveland Uber Alles. Great minds and all of that, right?

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