Why Cleveland is Not Cool
'Along with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which Cleveland landed by stuffing the ballot box in a USA Today survey, the West side is supposed to represent Cleveland's new-found hipness. This is all wrong. Cleveland is not cool. Cleveland can never be cool. Think of Cleveland's greatest entertainers: Drew Carey wears thick horn-rimmed glasses and a Marine buzz cut. Fred Willard has played so many cluelessly gregarious suburban dads that you can't film a tasteless summer comedy without writing him a cameo. Fellow Clevelander Martin Mull put Willard's talent to use in The History of White People in America. Cartoonist Harvey Pekar--record collector, file clerk, irritable bachelor schlump--knew "From off the streets of Cleveland" would clash perfectly with American Splendor, the title of his comic book. Their uncoolness is so much a part of Cleveland's character that the city is cooler when it's uncool than when it tries to be Brooklyn or San Francisco. This might be Cleveland's moment, too. In America's hippest urban neighborhoods there's nothing cooler than looking uncool. From coast to coast, alienated, countercultural twenty-three-year-olds have raided Cleveland's closet for Penguin sports shirts, Jack Nicklaus golf slacks, chunky glasses, and granny skirts (preferably worn with sneakers). They think bowling and Pabst Blue Ribbon beer make a great night out. Cleveland's thrift stores and alleys could become major tourist attractions. But Cleveland isn't cool enough to pick up on that. Instead, it flogs the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Rock and roll isn't even cool anymore. Rock and roll is the music of baby boomer dads. It's the soundtrack to investment ads. Memphis was the logical winner of that USA Today poll, but I've come to agree that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame belongs in Cleveland. Only Cleveland would think putting rock music in a museum is cool. that's why you should go to the polka hall of fame instead. It's up front about being uncool. Which makes it so much cooler.'
--from The Third Coast--Sailors, Strippers, Fishermen, Folksingers, Long-Haired Ojibway Painters, and God-Save-the-Queen Monarchists of the Great Lakes, by Chicago-based writer Ted McClelland.