Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Happy Birthday Cleveland!

It was 203 years ago today (July 22, 1796) that a brigadier general in the Connecticut militia would found a city on Lake Erie that bears his name. After the American Revolution, Connecticut claimed territorial rights in the Northwest Territory, part of which is now the state of Ohio. Parts of Connecticut had been devastated by the Revolution; British and Tory brigades, some led by the traitor Benedict Arnold, burned down homes and towns that were suspected of being patriot strongholds. These settlers moved to Northeastern Ohio- to this day the area is sometimes referred to as The Fire Lands.

The Connecticut Western Reserve was its formal name, more commonly known as the Western Reserve. The general and his party surveyed the area and set up a new town where the Cuyahoga River met Lake Erie. The general was Moses Cleaveland, and the town was named after him...."Cleaveland".

But a funny thing happened to Moses Cleaveland's new town. There was a spelling error on the original map of the village. And it was mistakenly known from that day forward as Cleveland.

That spelling error could be called the original "Mistake on the Lake".

But I'm not going to go into the usual litany of Cleveland jokes, and you've heard them all. For a guy from New Jersey to make jokes about Cleveland would be like Burt Reynolds making fun of William Shatner's hairpiece.

Yes, there's too much snow....and as my brother (who's lived in the area for about 10 years) has said there are only two seasons in Cleveland; winter and "Orange Barrel Season", when highway repaving begins and never seemingly ends. And yes, the Cuyahoga River did catch fire; but because of that misfortune we now have Burning River Pale Ale.

Cleveland gave us Larry Doby and Jim Brown, the Cleveland Clinic, and The Drew Carey Show

And Cleveland is where Alan Freed gave birth to the term rock n' roll back in the 1950's; its where the Rock an Roll Hall of Fame is located. And Joe Walsh and the James Gang got started in Cleveland.

And who could forget Ian Hunter with this? used the "F- bomb"!

And as for hot wings...forget Buffalo! Cleveland is the hot wing capital of the United States! Check out the Winking Lizard, with its dozen of different wing recipes, and DOZENS of bottled and draft beers to wash it all down.

And I have yet to mention King James...and new arrival Shaquille!

For today, let's forget about the problems of a troubled city. We come to praise Cleveland, not to trash it.

But....203 years old. Maybe its time for just a bit of a facelift?

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