2015 Summer Road Trip – Cleveland

May 21-23, 2015

I was brought low by a bout of food poisoning Monday night but woke up Thursday morning well enough to keep our date with Cleveland, Ohio. We had tickets to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and to a Cleveland Indians baseball game and didn’t want to miss them.

It’s about a 360 mile trip from North Riverside, Illinois to Cleveland. I could tell we were in the east because of all the toll roads. I think we paid in excess of $30 each way with the tolls through the Chicago area, Indiana, and Ohio. It’s especially irritating because the roads are in such terrible shape; and it’s not like the gas prices are lower. Now, I know this is snow country and the salt in the roads is hard on the environment, but many of the overpasses had concrete falling off exposing the rebar underneath. I would hope with the combination of gas taxes and tolls they’d be able to keep the roads in decent shape and the overpasses in one piece.

And the travel plazas are especially irritating. I figure the companies must be paying the states for the privilege of operating; you’d hope that the food and service would be decent. We stopped for lunch and I it was hard to get the attention of the young man at the cash register. I wasn’t sure if he heard me tell him what we had ordered in the line; he just kept looking down. I asked him where to get trays; he asked at a couple of his co-workers (and I use that term loosely because they weren’t working; they were just gabbing); they said something to which he responded “Really?” but then he didn’t bother telling us what the answer was. Aaargh.

Geesh; I sound like an old man! Maybe I just wan’t over my sickness completely. At any rate we didn’t let the aggravation of the drive over spoil our visit. We checked into our hotel in the downtown area and got a room on the eighth floor. I figured something was up because as soon as we got off the elevator, kids stuck their heads out of the room and said  “I don’t know who they are; they aren’t with us.” Within ten minutes of entering our room we heard chaperones twice knocking on the doors telling them to keep it quiet. I called the front desk asking who we were sharing the floor with; turns out it was a large group of middle school kids on a field trip. Now, I love kids – really! But Carla and I have done our time with middle school. The front desk clerk moved us up to a corner room of the  top floor. SWEET! Our room was enormous and we had views of downtown Cleveland on one side and Lake Erie on the other. This was going to be a fun trip.

Downtown Cleveland seems to be revitalized. I don’t know how much business is going on there but they’ve definitely set up the area for fun and entertainment. A key part of the area is Fourth Street where there are numerous places to eat and even a House of Blues.

As we walked around we noticed the moon and a planet rising above the Playhouse District.

Downtown Cleveland, Ohio on a spring night,
Moonrise over downtown Cleveland, Ohio on a spring night,

As we headed down to dinner we passed a bowling alley; we’ve seen way more bowling alleys out in the midwest than we do at home. It’s fun because as you walk down the street you walk parallel to the lanes and can follow the balls as they hit the pins.

Bowling alley on Euclid Ave. Cleveland
Bowling alley on Euclid Ave. Cleveland

Fourth street was hopping and we enjoyed the energy. We strolled around a bit before heading back to our room to sleep.

Friday morning brought the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.

The HoF is right on Lake Erie, next door to a science and industry museum and down the street from the home of the Cleveland Browns National Football League team.

I’m not much of a museum guy – that’s Carla’s gig. But this was different. I know music has been a big part of culture for eons. But I think it’s a different for my age group. As I became a teenager music became portable for the first time: transistor radios and portable record players. That meant the music could go with us wherever we went. I remember riding around in Larry Rangle’s old cadillac with Bob Newlon listening to The Yardbirds. Now, I’m not talking a new fangled stereo system; we had a portable record player on the front seat. Larry drove very carefully to make sure the record didn’t skip.

For the only time I can remember I outlasted Carla in a museum. There are six floors in the museum. We arrived at 10:30 and I stayed until it closed at 5:30 and I only made it through two floors; though the first floor is the largest display area. The thing that makes the museum so fascinating is all the video displays. It is WAY more than just other people’s stuff. I spent an hour watching a movie of the main inductees from 1985, when it opened, to 2015, the most recent class.

I have one small quibble with the film; the focus is on white men. There aren’t many women or people of color represented in the stories of the inductees. We get a couple of minutes of Blondie, of all people, but almost nothing of James Brown.

Nevertheless, there was some great stuff here. Here is a little collage of three random objects I enjoyed. Click on the image below to get a bigger view. [Note on the photo: this is my first attempt at creating a collage in Photoshop. It seems to be more flexible than using the Print module in Lightroom]

Jeff Beck's Guitar; Paul Butterfield Blues Band; Flying Burrito Brothers jacket in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Jeff Beck’s Guitar; Paul Butterfield Blues Band; Flying Burrito Brothers jacket in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Watch a video of Jeff Beck playing the guitar sometime; that man uses the guitar and his Telecaster from The Yardbirds days shows the effects. I remember seeing the outfits that the Flying Burrito Brothers wore so it was cool to see one close up.

And The Paul Butterfield Blues Band! They were finally inducted this year (2015). Their album was one of the first I ever owned – and um, I use the term “owned” loosely; I think I may have borrowed it from Kent Hubbard and never returned it. That just occurred to me today as we were driving and I was thinking about this post. Sorry, Kent. Paul Butterfield is a mean blues harp player and Michael Bloomfield was one of the best electric guitar players, ever; too bad he died young. Bob Dylan loved Bloomfield’s playing enough to use him on Highway 61 Revisited.

There were big exhibits featuring The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Paul Simon. The Paul Simon exhibit featured a lot of video interviews with him talking about the writing process. And there was a longish video highlighting his appearances on Saturday Night Live – he was funny and entertaining.

The seven hours flew by and I’d love to go back. I was touched over and over again by the exhibits, the music clips, the interviews, the culture. Some random thoughts as I wondered around.

  • Michael Jackson was a phenomenon. He could sing, and oh those moves.
  • James Brown. Want to see something amazing. Check out his performance at the TAMI awards
  • The Temptations, The Four Tops and the other “dancing/singing” groups. My older sister was into the Four Tops and I’d listen to her playing their albums.
  • Jimi Hendrix – what else is there to say
  • I need to give Prince a listen. There are a number of inductees that I just ignored.
  • So many of these artists died young.

This got me thinking of my top five favorite albums of all time. These are albums that really moved me when I heard them and albums I can easily listen to beginning to end.

  1. Layla, and Other Assorted Love Songs by Derek and the Dominos.
    Best. Garage. Band. Ever. This album is so full of emotion and blistering guitar playing. Eric Clapton, Duane Allman, and the others mean every note they play. The two best tracks are Have You Ever Loved a Woman, and Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out. My only quibble is that Key to the Highway, while a great blues number, doesn’t fit as well as I’d like.
  2. Highway 61 Revisited by Bob Dylan.
    Dylan’s move to electric with great backing from Michael Bloomfield and Al Kooper
  3. Rubber Soul by The Beatles. This was the point where The Beatles were comfortable both with their musical skills and, at this point, the studio. This is a great love song arc.
  4. Stop Making Sense by The Talking Heads. This is a great album and an even greater concert movie.
  5. ??

They chased me out at 5:30 and I went back to the hotel to meet up with Carla and rest a bit before our evening activity. I don’t know that I’ll ever complete it; but one of my goals is to get to as many big league baseball parks as possible. This year we checked off Cleveland! We saw them in Spring Training but it was fun to see them at Progressive Field.

Progressive Field; home of the Cleveland, Indians in Ohio.
Progressive Field; home of the Cleveland, Indians in Ohio.

It can get cold in Cleveland in May and we weren’t dressed for it. We had nice seats behind the plate (way, WAY cheaper than Dodger Stadium). Cleveland won, beating their cross state rivals the Cincinnati Reds.

A great day of fun. Saturday morning we checked out of our hotel and beat it back to North Riverside to spend a few more days with the kids before heading home.

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