What a fantastic weekend I had in Cleveland. It's easy to become oblivious to your surroundings. The town you live in becomes mundane. I love the advice I once heard about trying to see your city through the eyes of a tourist when you make your daily rounds.
Friday night I met up with old friends at a relatively new spot, The Oak Barrel, in Valley View on Canal Rd. It's in the same space once occupied by Hoggie's. This sunny afternoon found people playing cornhole in an outdoor rec area complete with fire pit. That it was an island in the middle of a big movie theater parking lot didn't really detract from the vibe. A live band was setting up on the adjacent patio.
Inside, the remodel of the Hoggie's space felt warm even in the cavernous room though it does get quite loud. The chatter of the good looking crowd made for a lively happy hour. I hear the food is great too.
Saturday I headed to the upscale sports bar in Rocky River, The Market, to watch the Preakness. I just don't get a good vibe in this place. The bartenders act as if they're doing you a favor. And when I had to surrender my credit card to run a tab while the guy next to me didn't I was somewhat offended by the profiling. I guess longer hair and a Stones t-shirt scares people.
Later that night I made my way to The Winchester in Lakewood to catch Grant-Lee Phillips. I wrote about him on Friday. Of course I ran into some fellow music freaks who's taste in good music mirrored mine. I was even offered a seat at a reserved table by a couple of them. Thanks Matt and Annie.
Phillips was in fine form. His amicable personality never came through in Grant Lee Buffalo shows but this night he told great stories and had us laughing. Phillips warm, resonant voice sounded great in the acoustically ideal venue.
Sunday was Cleveland's day to shine. And I'm not merely talking about another perfect weather day. It was the running of the Cleveland Marathon as I took to my own road race on my mountain bike riding from West Park to University Circle for the long running Hessler Street Fair.
The Hessler Street Fair, with its historic hippie vibe, was made even more far out by a band list stacked heavy with local reggae acts. The juxtaposition of the decidedly liberal Hessler hippies and grads with their families dressed to the nines made me smile.
If I weren't so magnetically drawn to the reggae music I'd have checked out the Asian Fest in midtown as well. Instead I took a break and walked over to the newly opened ABC Tavern Uptown right next to the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA). The calamari app for $6.75 was delicious.
To top it off the Cleveland Indians continued their tear with back to back walk-off wins Friday and Saturday and a blow out on Sunday against Seattle. I'll take Cleveland over Seattle and I'm not only talking about baseball.
Riding a bike from one side of town to the other is so easy now. There's a bike lane that runs along Euclid Avenue from Public Square to University Circle. I'm hoping the one in the works for Detroit Ave. on the westside happens soon.
As I rode along the route, the magnificent architecture looking even more grand in the setting sunlight, I came to feel the palpable change in Cleveland. This town is on the verge of greatness.