I went to Cleveland this past weekend for what I’d like to call a “Food for the Soul” weekend. And though I currently reside in Boston, I have to tell you that given the opportunity I would put Cleveland on my top 10 places to go for a restorative mini vacation. I’m fully aware that a great many of you are looking at this text right now literally wondering what the hell I’m talking about, and it is precisely for you that this has been written.
Upon publicizing my visit, I was hit with the usual what the hell is a Pittsburgher happy about visiting Cleveland for? or the Why would anyone ever say they were looking forward to a visit there? All of these, my guess is, coming from people that have never actually set foot in the city. Because if they had, they would know without a doubt that it’s one of the places that unconditionally welcomes you no questions asked.
I spent 4 years in Cleveland during my undergrad and spent time in various parts of the city. I don’t remember a time that I ever felt like it wasn’t my home. Literally, can’t tell you one time even though I’m from Pittsburgh. So along those lines, can we please address this worn out “Pittsburgh and Cleveland hate each other” thing? Because that’s exactly what it is. Tired. Fatigued. Outworn. The rivalry is limping, in case you haven’t noticed. Modell took the Browns involved in the creation of that very rivalry between the brother cities, and those days are long gone. After taking other hits, Cleveland has been rebuilding their team since. Hell, I’m rooting for the Browns to have a winning team so that there can BE a rivalry in remotely the same sense. I look forward to it. But it’s outdated to continue to verbally discourage the city, when Pittsburgh clearly is providing an economic example in restructuring for Cleveland. Two formerly industrial cities so close in proximity can’t afford to be so critical of one another. Let’s call a spade a spade with the sibling rivalry and just hold out a hand.
And it’s hardly just the hardcore yinzers that throw the stones. The nation generally speaking knows Cleveland as an exhausted city that in their minds is a lot of asphalt and boxed windows. And in parts of the city that exists. But it exists in all cities. Without belaboring the economic impact of LeBron’s departure and the hope accompanying his return, the city’s had more than its share of heartache in some regards. But it’s still ticking. It’s still rebuilding. And it continues to innovate. Best education I received? Cleveland. Swankiest out-of-my-league party I ever went to? Cleveland. Some of the best, most genuine people I’ve met in my entire life? Cleveland.
So you wanna talk about tired? I’m tired of needing to point out Cleveland’s world class medical system. I’m tired of needing to point out its renowned colleges and universities. I’m tired of needing to point out the city’s vivid history and national firsts. I’m tired of having to watch Cleveland continue to rebuild and restructure in the face of all of the undeserved negative thrown its way. So to summarize what I’d like to say is this- It’d be a step forward for all involved if people could visit the city before jumping on a bandwagon for the sake of being on a bandwagon. That bandwagon screams ignorance and does nothing to help the people that are working pretty hard to change things everyday. People who despite the media’s downward gaze would certainly welcome you if you stopped by. And you know what? You should.