Tag Archives: akronites

2010 forgotten vignettes

NewYork_2010-09_802-lobbyWhen I first moved into 802, an art deco building in Washington Heights, I adored the mural of the prancing maiden and her leashed—antelopes?—in the lobby. I still love them and the quaint building. But one day last summer, I walked in and saw these hideous sofas placed in front of her. It was clearly a sign: my days in 802 were numbered. Before these, there had been an equally old and musty sofa, but it was less gaudy, and the color at least matched her blouse.

As I packed to move, I heard lots of great stuff on NPR (like astrophysicist Brian May’s Bohemian rhapsody interview) that I wanted to look up and listen to again, undistracted, but didn’t have the time. When I was writing the chrissie/lebron/akron bit, I remembered the Rita Dove piece I heard on Selected Shorts: Strong Men, Stronger Women and intended include her in post (yes, she’s from Akron), but forgot. When I unpacked American Smooth I remembered. It demands a listen. (I listen to stuff when I clean. Makes it bearable.)

Dance is woven through American Smooth and it makes me wish, again, I had more time to dance and time to learn more. But I’ve barely time to do the things I’m committed to do well. It does make me sad that American culture has such little place for gathering to dance. One of the reasons, surely, why we are so fragmented.

Yesterday, I saw Barbara Ehrenreich on PBS. She mentioned her book: Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy. A nice change from her usual reportage about America becoming more and more like a third world country because of government favoritism of the wealthy and the insane wealth disparities that have resulted. (Did you know that “janitorial service” is the fastest growing job in the USA?) And because we don’t dance. My assertion, not hers. Maybe hers—I haven’t read the book yet.

american_smoothMy decision to finally get the internet at home so I could watch PBS (inspired, I admit, by the Circus! ads on the subway) was not misguided.

I just happened upon this line from Rita Dove, from an interview with Robert McDowell: “In African American culture, dance has always been a key element—a communal activity that soothed and united all levels.” From my travels, it seems to be that dance is something that brings people together in most cultures, save white, protestant countries. Though to be fair, some white, protestant ministers appreciated dance. Dance was a part of my Lithuanian family, though mostly in stories of days gone by. After my grandmother died, I went to a party at the Lithuanian-American club in NYC (not somewhere I generally frequent), and we danced and danced until the wee hours. At least, the older folks did. I went to a friend’s elaborate Indian wedding a few months ago, and everyone danced. What a joy!

_________________________________________

Bolero by Rita Dove

Not the ratcheting crescendo of Ravel’s bright winds
but an older,
crueler

passion: a woman with hips who knows when to move them,
who holds nothing back
but the hurt

she takes with her as she dips, grinds, then rises sweetly into his arms again.
Not

delicate. Not tame. Bessie Smith in a dream of younger,
(can’t you see?)
slimmer

days. Restrained in the way a debutante is not, the way a bride
pretends she
understands.

How everything hurts! Each upsurge onto a throbbing toe, the prolonged descent
to earth,

to him (what love & heartache done to me), her body ferocious,
a grim ululation
of flesh—

she adores him. And he savors that adoration, this man in love
_________________________________________with looking.

She feels his look,
his sigh

and she moves, moves with him to the music in the space
_________________________________________allotted them,

spot lit across
the hardwood floor.

the border matters

akronLEbI cannot believe I am quoting a Fox article, but I am. Bill Reiter has confirmed my theory posited in ain’t i a woman, lebron, & akron concrete. Akronites still love LeBron. “The border [between Akron and Cleveland] matters.”

“LeBron is an Akronite—and there’s a huge difference between Akron and Cleveland,” Eric Vaughn says as he sips a beer in downtown Akron. “There’s a natural animosity between Cleveland and Akron, and I think everything that’s played out is an extension of that Cleveland-Akron axis.

“In the end, a dyed-in-the-wool Akronite would do exactly what LeBron did, every time.”

Like I said.

And this was written before LeBron rocked his game last night in Cleveland. It was beautiful. Žydrūnas wasn’t at his best, but he didn’t fuck up. And he’s been the most solid Heat player all season, so who cares if he didn’t score. An Akronite and a Lithuanian out in the world. Awwww.

Now, if the Heat can start playing like a team, well, that would be nice, too.

According to I (tire) Akron, from whom I stole this pic, LeBron James played his very first High School basketball game for St. V’s (where my mom taught) on this day, 11 years ago, December 3rd, 1999, against the Cuyahoga Falls Black Tigers (you know, as in Chryssie’s song My City Was Gone: “I went back to Ohio, but my pretty countryside, had been paved down the middle, by a government that had no pride, The farms of Ohio, had been replaced by shopping malls, and Muzak filled the air, from Seneca to Cuyahoga Falls, said A, O, oh way to go Ohio.”

Happy anniversary, Lebron. And nice work. Thanks for kicking Cleveland ass. And for giving Akronites something to be proud of again.

ain’t i a woman, lebron, & akron concrete


Chrissie Hynde’s Akron
from Blue Green on Vimeo.

A few weeks ago while I waited for my mani/pedi to dry, I grabbed O Magazine (Oprah’s) off the top of the pile and flipped the pages. I stopped on an interview with Akronite Chrissie Hynde, who, at 59, is still rocking. She’s amazing. There was a photo of her in this excellent t-shirt, which I decided at first sight I had to have. So, nails dry and at home, a lengthy internet search ensued. Somehow I found her in this brilliant video she made of Akron, to “Break Up the Concrete.” That’s the t-shirt.

This is gorgeous. Chrissie hits the best of Akron, much of which has been there for decades. Among my faves are Luigi’s, which was (is?) the only place in Akron to get a bite in til 4am (a delicious bite, I might add), and the Sojourner Truth historical marker, which marks where she gave her “Ain’t I a Woman” speech at a Universalist Church in 1851. And, my God, Chrissie’s car. My maternal grandmother had similar wheels when I was little. A Grand Torino, in red (at right). Notice the made-in-Akron B.F. Goodrich tires. My paternal grandmother worked there (Goodrich) on an assembly line and they paid her retirement and prescriptions (she had a $1 co-pay. I deny all stories that I took advantage of our identical names and had birth control pills filled for $1. Flatly deny. They knew us both at the pharmacy anyway, because, before I left, we often went together to get her groceries and scripts) until she died at age 95 in 1999. Imagine that from a corporation of today?

Grand TorinoYes, though it’s been a long time, I’m originally from Akron. And why yes, I still love Lebron (Heat rah!). Most Akronites do. It’s the Clevelanders he has driven to pyromania. At least, the few I’ve surveyed. One of the many things I appreciate about LeBron is that when I answer, “Akron,” the first thing mentioned is no longer Alcoholics Anonymous or rubber. Regarding the Miami Heat, I would be the last person to blame a man for getting the hell out of dodge, especially to a town with better weather. It’s amazing he didn’t do it sooner.

It’s not just Chrissie and Lebron. Jim Jarmusch, a Columbia grad, is from Akron. His dad worked for Goodrich, too. Not on the line, though. And DEVO, of “Whip It” fame. They first played out at a Kent State Arts Festival when I was a few months old. Yes, Akronites are a bit quirky.

Ooooh, the gridskipper blog has a new post on “An Architectural Guide to Ohio.” The Akron Art Museum comes in at #1.

If I get any comments or emails about my mani/pedi and “Ain’t I a Woman” in the same post, I will crack you upside the head. Even if we don’t, I pretend we live in a society that allows us to define ourselves as women precisely as we like. You will not burst that bubble, so don’t try.