The one with the Cleveland Creep

June 13, 2011

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Finally I’m getting around to posting this. Way back on June 4th I had the privilege of being part of a Books for Bloggers event. It was held at Visible Voice Books in Tremont and allowed an intimate conversation between Cleveland bloggers and Cleveland mystery writer, Les Roberts.

When I received the email invitation I was excited. It allowed for me to bring a guest and I chose my lovely Wifebot, who of course could have attended as a local blogger herself.

A little bit of honesty time. When I first move to Cleveland way back in 2002 someone suggested I read one of the books in Les Robert’s Cleveland series. It went something like this:

Person: Hey yo you’re into writing and new to Cleveland. There is like this author who writes mysteries set in Cleveland.*

(*Nowhere near how it happened.)

I looked up the name and picked the first book in the series—Pepper Pike. I read it pretty fast and really liked it. I decided right than that I was going to get to know Milan Jacovich real well, but you know things come up. I hadn’t read another in the series since. I sort of forgot all about it until I received the email.

The event was to promote his new book, The Cleveland Creep and was sponsored by Roberts’ publisher Gray & Company.

Les met with us in Visible Voice Books’ quaint upstairs meeting room. I was happy to see the room because I’ve been considering it for a reading of one my plays.

(More on that later bitches!)

It was intimate and the author easily fell into a back and forth conversation. It wasn’t long before he was weaving story after story for us, and it felt like we were all old friends. He (obviously) can really tell a story. It was interesting to hear about how Cleveland grew on him and you could tell the love he had for the city.

The meet and greet was very lighthearted and filled with humor. He answered questions and signed the books.

(Free bitches!)

I was happy to meet @ADHicken who I’d enjoyed on the twitter.

(Wait that didn’t come out right.)
(T.W.S.S)
(Not her but you know the royal her–nevermind!)

And her blog Clue Into Cleveland is always a fun read. It was cool to meet her hubby @ScottHicken and @timzaun (who you’ll see more from down below.)

(That’s what she said!)
(Sorry.)

Roberts’ has lived in both Chicago and L.A. but fell in love with Cleveland and couldn’t leave. He’s lived here 21 years and tells how the city has influenced him and his writing. When asked about what needs to be done for the future growth of the city his first reaction was said with humor and care:

“Oh Boy”

After a chuckle he dove into what he felt needed to be done. I snagged this from TimZaun.com because it was a little more thorough than my notes. His site is a very good read. He snapped the picture above too (Hooray for lazy jimi!)

• We need to stop the brain drain of Cleveland’s upcoming talent-young residents or transplants, choosing to be educated here; and then leaving town for larger, more progressive cities.
• Government needs to make it easier for businesses to locate here with tax incentives, etc.
• Officials who embody the “What’s in it for me?” mentality need to be replaced with individuals committed to helping Cleveland thrive.
• We need more writers to promote Cleveland’s assets.

The Cleveland Creep is Roberts’ 25th book and more importantly 15th featuring Cleveland private eye Milan Jacovich. I will have a longer review up soon but I will say that it is an excellent read. Once you talk to him it is hard to hear his voice as you read. It was near me and I opened it up just to read the first few pages and was instantly hooked. The story is a fast and smooth read. The book is filled with some wonderful prose. Jacovich’s humor and love for Cleveland mirrors that of Roberts. There is a tinge of sadness to the pages as the Cleveland private eye deals with age and loss. This only adds to the gritty realism and edge the series has.

Les Roberts will return in 2012 with Whiskey Island. The story will revolve around a Cleveland city councilman—who is corrupt—sound familiar?

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I feel Rambo’s pain

April 16, 2010

Going out of my way to do (social) things and take advantage of opportunities on my own experiment #2

Event: Paul Muldoon Poetry reading.
Where: John Carroll University
When: 7:30pm

Obstacle: You may or may not know this but I’ve got like 5 (1 being my wife) actual friends. So the problem went like this. 1 of them never heard of Paul Muldoon and was busy. The one who knew who Paul Muldoon was couldn’t make it. The wife had class and well the other two—I wouldn’t even ask because they’d just laugh and laugh like stoned hyenas. cute little friends* So I had to go it alone.

To save time I had the wife drop me off down at the campus. What? It made things easier—I’d have to take 2 buses to get down there and I’d rather not. So she dropped me off but it was of course about 2 hours early. So I sat outside the University in the sun to read. It was nice out and there was sort of a breeze. I pulled out first a book of his poetry and then after the first person interrupted me to talk boring shit I switched to On the Road.

It was weird. There were way too many children there for whatever reason. Also dogs—one of which was being carried in a girls book bag. So as I sit there a dude comes up on his phone and this happens:

Dude: Hey is your name Steve?
Me: Yeah.
Dude (to phone): Hold on a sec. (to Steve): Yeah? We had Mr. So and so (not actual professor name) in such and such class (don’t remember that either)?
Steve: Totally.
Dude: You remember his hair? Big and like—
Steve: It was crazy.
Dude: Well I gotta run but see you around…
Steve: (goes back to reading)

That interaction was sort of fun but I guess it was wrong too, because it opened the flood gates. I guess that was karma? I dunno. The thing was from that point on little kids would talk to me for no reason and other people would too. I kept getting weird looks like nobody ever sat outside and read. So when I heard the statement “good choice in reading” I was ready to be not again! I somehow didn’t register the Irish accent until I looked up to see Paul Muldoon. Yeah! I got to talk to one of my favorite poets about the beat poets and etc for a few minutes! Double yeah.

Anypoet I tired of sitting because that’s really all I do these days. I decided to take a little walk, accept I really just sort of wandered around in front of the business down the block. I was writing some notes on some poems I was working as I did. When I passed a bunch of these older couples they all sorta stared at me and seemed bothered by me. I took up residence near a no loitering sign because of this. After a few more minutes of reading and some looks one of the people went into the business establishment. About a minute after the customer came back (not that I know they asked the guy to but it was a neat coincidence) to the table an older dude wearing an apron came out and:

Guy in apron: “Time to move on?”
Me: What?
Apron fucker: Did you need anything? I saw you walking back and forth?
Me: I’m just waiting for something to start at the school.
Apron Fucker: Oh well if you need some help or something.

What the hell did I walk into Rambo remake (albeit a lame whimpy one where he is a poet) or something? I was waiting for Brian Dennehy to offer to give me a ride outta town. I must say I was pretty menacing with my Star Wars messenger bag and my tye dye Lake Eerie Monsters tee. Then hilariously as I walked back toward the campus I’m pretty sure a student driving off yelled “hippie” at me.

Anystallone I get back in and find it starts at 7:30 and not 7pm. Oh well. I read and listen to people talk until I see my arch nemesis former professor. I did well to overcome this obstacle and avoid her for the entirety of the reading.

Was that the last obstacle of the night? No. The next one was sitting through the young guy making sure the lights and mic worked. He felt the need to discuss everything from dreams to poetry to comedy. He thought he was funny (and I suspect desperately hoped he was) but he was not. He offered to speak in an Irish accent (Muldoon is Irish) and then proceeded to use the worst one almost ever. Then he went into an old Billy Crystal sketch. I still don’t know why. He was painful to watch. I bet he drinks his breakfast and will soon eat the barrel of a shotgun.

Damn that was harsh.

Finally the poet was in front of the room. He graciously read for about 50 minutes and was wonderful. Hearing the motivation behind the poems was great. After the reading he hung around and signed books and just chatted with you. I got to talk to him for about 10 minutes. It was pretty awesome.

The verdict: A major success. I mean sure it got a little odd there and I had some weirdo yell at me on the bus for telling him I didn’t go to John Carroll. He was all “whhhhhaaaaaat whaddaya mean. The nerve of some people!” but I suppose that was fun too.

*Stems from an incident in which I tried to share a poem that meant a lot to me (and really hit home) from one of my favorite poets. Paul Muldoon. The only problem was that the two silly laughing twins wouldn’t let me get past Paul Muldoon, without laughing. I of course made the mistake of continuing to try and read the poem and of course they found this funnier and funnier. It wasn’t helped by the fact that they thought his name was Robert and I tried to tell them they were wrong but they wouldn’t believe me. Now when they remember I have to sit through calls or tweets of Roberrrrrrrt.


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