Archive for Ohio


Posted in Ohio, Travel with tags , , on February 25, 2011 by melvisx

So I was revisiting my blog from my journey to Ohio and thougth I should come clean that the photo in the header is actually from Fells Point in Baltimore.  Phew, I can sleep now.


Gas is how much?!

Posted in Ohio, Travel with tags , , on July 16, 2010 by melvisx

I returned yesterday, took the shuttle to my car, realized I didn’t have enough gas to get home.  I thought I had enough to get to at least Livermore and I didn’t want to pay 3.19 a gallon by the airport.  After getting turned around and misguided in the pretzel of roads, freeways and onramps by the airport I had even less gas.  “I can make it”, I thought.  Well, around the “last SF exit” toward the Bay Bridge I figured I’d better not risk it, so I got off and found a Shell station with gas for the low, low price of 3.49 a gallon.  Sometimes I’m just not that smart, but after filling up I had a stress free drive home.

This will be my final post for this adventure as I am no longer in Ohio.  Wednesday we went to the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame from which I only have one picture because I didn’t know they did not allow photography inside the museum.  So if you haven’t seen it before, here it is:

There was much to see inside.  My favorite part was the music video room, lots of videos edited together nicely.  They also had a special exhibit dedicated to Bruce Springsteen, that was cool especially seeing handwritten lyrics.  Among the unexpected things, maybe unexpected isn’t the right word as I really didn’t know what to expect, was a collection of drawings done by Jimmi Hendrix when he was a kid.  Speaking of kids, there was this one there that was definitely obese.  I’d say he was between 7 and 10 years old and 500 pounds.  Ok, maybe not 500 pounds but easily over 100, and under 4 feet tall.  I didn’t want to judge, I mean, maybe he had some sort of genetic issue, but I don’t think so; maybe he’ll grow real tall and his girth will stretch out.  Man he was big.

At lunch I remarked how weird it was to be looking over a large body of water, lake Erie, and not see any waves.  Ten pointed out that it was a lake and I said, “Oh, duh.”  The rest of the afternoon was spent waiting for Ten’s car to be delivered then we went to the Mt. Carmel Catholic Church festival in Niles, OH, a suburb of Youngstown, or more correctly the white trash suburb of Youngstown.  I am not kidding.  We saw some kids there that Ten’s mom referred to as “dirty high school kids”, and they were dirty.  Beyond that the festival was full of good food and entertainment including the, Rudy (I think that was his first name) Chiciglia band, consisting of a lead guitar, bass, accordian, and drums.  All of the members, except the drummer, were probably over 70; fun to watch.  That evening we hung out with Ten’s cousin and some of her friends two of which were riding tall bikes.  These are bikes that this guy built by welding several bike frames on top of one another.  Imagine a bike that has about three stacked frames and you’ll have a tall bike.  One was about 6 ft at the seat, the other was 9; crazy.

When I first was heading out to Ohio and was discussing the itinerary with Ten specifically driving through the not so good parts of Youngstown she said, “Be ready not to give a fuck.” I didn’t get that at first, but it’s clear to me now.  All over Youngstown, and I mean all over, are neighborhoods that were once full of houses.  Now those neighborhoods are full of blocks with empty lots where houses used to be and houses that are on their last legs, and homes that people shouldn’t be living in but are; it’s sad.  There are good neighborhoods but urban blight is everywhere.  We went into one house in town that had burned not to long ago that also had bullet holes above the fireplac and Trivial Pursuit cards on the windowsill, just a few houses away people were hanging out on their porch.  There was another we went into on a different block that still had a family picture on the wall.  Not sure what, if anything, can be done for areas like this, but it was definitely a new reality for me.

Note 'Trivial Pursuit' cards

 Overall an awesome trip.  Suffciently planned yet random, lots of cool tangents just the way I like to travel.  I was the beneficiary of a phenomenal tour guide and gracious hosts. (that sentence sounds funny)  Ten’s mom, while she could possibly talk your ear off about nothing, was great, even packed me some pie to eat at the airport while I waited for the plane.  And how can I forget Kadence, the sweet 12 year old yellow shepard/lab, and her one ear that sticks up all the time; silly bowlegged dog.  Thanks to all who followed along and commented,  I had fun!

Hey, ho, Ohi-o

Posted in Ohio, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 12, 2010 by melvisx

After lunch in the Coventry neighborhood of Cleveland we saw:

Crazy Mullets

Driving through Warren, Ohio, a suburb of Youngstown we saw:

And wondered, “How do you get in?”

Just a little further down the road we saw:

And thought, “What a great place for this, right in front of the Super K-Mart.”

Hey, ho, Ohi-o

Posted in Ohio, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 12, 2010 by melvisx

Saturday started with a trip to Kravitz Deli a place that has been in operation since 1943, and the owner Rose Kravitz still works there, she’s in her 80’s. On the way there we heard polka on the radio, and the silly Germans in the previous post. From there we headed to Mill Creek Park one of the largest urban parks in the country; bigger even than Central Park. The park was gorgeous and was definitely an oasis. Within Mill Creek park is, well, a mill built into the hillside on the river. The mill itself has been there since the mid-1800’s and was grinding flour when we visited. It was amazing to see the engineering involved in the workings of the mill. We meandered back to Youngstown to meet up with Ten’s folks at the Art and Jazz festival and on the way back saw a closed down gas station that apparently also sold kerosene; hadn’t seen one of them before. Wandered around the art show for a bit, grabbed a gyro, then hopped in the car in search of a Pabst Blue Ribbon sign painted on the side of a building.

We saw the sign in a slightly mediocre documentary about Youngstown produced by Ray “Boom-Boom” Mancini. We were obsessed with finding the sign until we got distracted by the silly gas station. I say silly gas station because there was a LOT going on. First we were trying to turn into the station but some lady had tried to turn down a one way street next to the station and was confused as to how to get herself out of the predicament; she was blocking the entrance to the station. Fortunately a good samaritan guided her into the station. The confused woman entered the mini mart at the station shortly after us asking for a pencil because she wanted to play the lottery. She was having trouble communicating this to the Middle Eastern cashier behind the plexiglass in her thick Asian accent. Fortunately the tall black woman with gold hair stepped in to help, “Why you givin’ this lady such a hard time?! All she want is a pencil; GIVE HER A PENCIL.” Meantime several people on their way to work at the hospital came in and got stuff and the confused asian driver seemed to know several of them, chit chatting with them. While Ten was pumping gas the tall black woman was trying to get some kids to pump up the bass on their tunes and Ten pointed out a crackhead prostitute by the door to the mini mart (this was explained in more detail in a previous post). We left the prostitute, doctors, and confused driver in search of the Pabst sign.

While driving around Ten decided to pull over in what I thought was a fairly random spot. She parked in front of an abandoned office/warehouse that we found an open door too and let ourselves in. Among the dirt and piles of stuff on the floor were several pay checks that were apparently never mailed, some furniture and I tire or two. We walked up the street from there and gained entrance into another warehouse that filled our lungs with nastiness, so we exited fairly quickly. Down the street from there was a school built in 1929 that we explored for a bit. In each place I found it odd that there was so much paper, and books, and other such stuff left strewn about. In the school there were whole bookcases with books left, as if people just walked away. It was all pretty fun and surreal at the same time, and neither of us fell down a hole or had anything fall on our heads.

Abandoned office

Side of abandoned office

School down the street from the abandoned office.

Thought the sold sign was ironic

Almost forgot. After the art show we walked over to the Arms Museum of Local History which was located inside an awesome Arts and Crafts style home. In the basement of the museum was a hands on room where kids could play with different period things, and games. There was one activity called, “Place the immigrants in steerage”. Priceless.

Gorgeous Craftsman door on Army Museum of Local History

Place the immigrants in steerage. This made us laugh out loud!

For dinner we went to Avalon Gardens Pizza located in a neighborhood that is, well, not so nice as evidenced by the warning in their parking lot and the bullet holes in the door right next door. The pizza was awesome, best I’ve ever had, and we escaped without incident. We headed back downtown, went to a martini bar, walked into the jazz festival to hear some Spyro Gyra, decided rather quickly that was a bad idea, seeing as how Spyro Gyra sucks, and left. We wound up hanging out with Ten’s friend Robert who showed us the patio he was making out of granite scraps from his job installing countertops. As we stepped into the back yard we were serenaded by Roberts neighbors who were having a fire in their back yard and singing Guns ‘n’ Roses songs; they weren’t bad…until they went for the high notes.

Mill at Mill Creek Park

Bridge at Mill Creek Park with mill in background

Me at Mill Creek Park


Sign in parking lot of pizza place.

Door next to pizza place.

Ethnic Diversity

Posted in Ohio, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 11, 2010 by melvisx

I grew up with the misguided notion that California was ethnically diverse, or maybe I just confused ethnic diversity with being accepting of people who were different from me. The eastern part of the country is far more diverse than California. At the museum of Labor and Industry there were all kinds of people represented, mostly Italian, but also Polish, Czech’s, Slovaks, Hungarians (Hunky’s), Greeks, and numerous others. I was particularly struck by this diversity as Ten was surfing the radio dial and tuned in some polka music and the German tunes which you can hear by clicking here: \”Silly Germans\”

Hey, ho, Ohi-o

Posted in Ohio, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 9, 2010 by melvisx

It’s a little damp and threatening thunder and lightening today so we hit a couple of museums. The first was the Butler Museum of American Art which normally has an Edward Hopper piece hanging, but it is currently on loan to a museum in Rome; doggone it. The Butler was the first museum exclusively dedicated to American art. Saw some great landscape paintings, the Lincoln “Rail Splitter”, some Wyeth’s, and some fun hologram art. One installation allowed me to take a picture of 121 images of myself; who wouldn’t want to see that? After that we headed downtown for some pizza and I snapped a photo of the plaque dedicated to the Warner Brothers, yes, the people responsible for Bugs Bunny are from Youngstown. While munching on pizza some dude came in to use the facilities then had an angry conversation with someone on his cell phone involving lots of expletives and stuff like, “I’m not gonna do that shit man!” We exited the pizza place into an apparent crack deal. It seemed like one dude was giving a crackhead some money for food, and the crackhead wanted to give him some crack in return, but the first dude said, “I don’t get high”

“You don’t drink, smoke, or nuttin’? Dat’s gud.”

“Ain’t no thing, man.”

From there we went to the Museum of Industry and Labor which is dedicated mostly to the steel industry. It was a well done museum and I got to dress up like a steel worker and pose with some as well. The museum also had some very informative and helpful signs for the workers which you can see in the photos. We arrived home to a mildly panicked 12 year old german shepard/lab mix named Cadence. She was sensing the impending thunderstorm we think. She’s calmed down….for now.

Bierstadt-forgot to get the title

121 images of me.

Wonder if the buffalo are fooled

Yosemite Valley

Youngstown, home of the Warner Brothers

I see these all over.

Only half the gear and I was super hot

Samuel P. Gompers quote for my history peeps.

Multilingualism is ingrained in our history.

Guess it

Hey, ho, Ohi-o

Posted in Ohio, Travel with tags , , , on July 2, 2010 by melvisx

When asked what I would be doing this summer I reply, “Among other things I’m going to Ohio for a week.” This reply is often met with a quizzical look and curious tone, “Ohio? What’s in Ohio?” To which I’d like to say what isn’t in Ohio? And, c’mon, where’s your sense of adventure? So come along as I visit the state that is round on both ends and tall in the middle where I’ll see the Mansfield Reformatory (Google it), the house featured in “A Christmas Story” (It’s a major award!) , drive through liquor stores, run down factories and maybe an OG or two. The adventure begins July 7.