Cleveland Rocks

by Matthew Curtis
July 26, 2006 4:59 AM
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I believe the great (and vastly underrated) Ian Hunter (ex-Mott the Hoople) once sang that, and after a long weekend and first-visit-ever to the city and its environs, I am in total agreement.

What a pleasant change to have lush, cool, green grass as soft as hair, where all you want to do is lay down and count the lightning bugs. Cookouts with fresh walleye and perch right out of Lake Erie, either grilled or fried, some of the most delicious fish you'll ever get to taste. And an honest to goodness twin Drive-In theater, the Aut-O-Rama, celebrating its 40th anniversary complete with restored 1960's intermission trailers pushing the snack bar "treats" and counting down each minute to showtime with two scary red clowns. I swear the concession stand smelled the same as the last drive-in I attended decades ago (yuck), but having the sound come through an FM channel on your car stereo/radio is a big improvement over the tinny old metal speaker you'd hook on the driver's side car window. Perhaps it loses a little of the retro charm, but with a nice breeze and temperatures in the high 50's/low 60's and the train passing by every so often (just like Popcorn Flicks!), it was still pretty special. Now what the hell this Frankie Muniz vampire flick from Buena Vista called STAY ALIVE (never heard of it) was doing headlining over PIRATES 2 I have no idea, so we just showed up at 11:00 and caught the last 5 or 10 ridiculous minutes before enduring a 40 minutes-late-wait for DEAD MAN'S CHEST. Gee...just like some festivals we know.

Though the Cleveland Museum of Art is closed for some major multi-million dollar renovation (next time...), I was finally able to make it to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. An absolutely beautiful 6-story glass pyramid shaped structure, this museum is a must-see for any music fan who grew up in the 60's. There was way too much to take in for a 4-5 hour visit (a full day is recommended if you really want to be thorough), but the current exhibits I did check out were all very cool: Bob Dylan's early years, Roy Orbison, The Concert for Bangladesh, Sam Cooke, Ricky Nelson, Hendrix, and what I'm guessing is a lot of their permanent collection. Tom Hanks apparently showed up for a visit while we were there, but I was in the middle of a giant screen film installation on all of the inductees and didn't want to leave. He was also at beautiful Jacobs Field--perfectly situated right in the middle of downtown--for the Indians/Twins game the same night (supposedly they showed him on the TV broadcast), the one game in the series I didn't attend. Word is that he's got theater roots in Cleveland and still loves the town. It's easy to see why.

--Matthew

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