I know, I know. Of all the pictures I took in Cleveland over the weekend, why do I have to put a rusting, pitted, algae-infested fountain here? I don’t know. I shouldn’t. I’ve also lost any chance I have of getting that high paying job with the Cleveland Chamber of Commerce. However, the overwhelming feeling I got during my three-and-a-half hour walk around Cleveland on Saturday was one of sadness. Oh, there were plenty of very nice areas of town, with some gorgeous decor and impressive landscaping. But you know what? Nobody lives there to see it. Cleveland needs people, people. They won’t come unless there’s places to work and I don’t mean CVS and Burger King. In my walk, I probably saw fifteen people. I’m serious. It’s a slippery slope, you see. The city is having an endless identity crises. Is it a blue collar city? Or an emerging city for tech companies to cheaply operate? It really feels like they’re one or two major corporations away from really thriving, but walking around there on a beautiful Saturday morning, I couldn’t help but feel like I was trapped on a quiet, desolate movie set or something.
One of the many positive aspects of Cleveland, though, and perhaps its crown jewel, is the second slide show today, some pictures of Jacobs Field. You see, I live in a city where the local ballpark has seats which face centerfield and are only suitable for midgets. I could probably generate fire since my knees are rubbing together whenever I go there and sit in the seats. Fenway is a ballpark where it costs $25 to park and another $25 just to sit in the bleachers. I should add that Fenway is also my favorite ballpark in the world, but Jacobs Field is just gorgeous. Modern and spacious but not overwhelming or huge. Just a great place to watch a baseball game, which we did. We also ate ice cream out of small plastic Indians helmets as Johan Santana and the Twins made mincemeat out of the Indians on Friday night. But it was a beautiful night to watch a baseball game in a modern day park. They should all be this good, folks.
Finally, I’ve mentioned my alma mater (Kent State) more than once here. One of the main purposes of my trip over the weekend was to go back to the place where I made many great memories. This year is the tenth anniversary of my graduation and I hadn’t been back in ten years. Boy, the place has changed. Oh, I knew my way around and navigated the place like it was yesterday, but there’s lots of new buildings, lots of creature comforts we never had and lots of kids who looked way younger than I remember college kids looking! Ugh.
A few notes about the Kent slideshow and the Kent State stigma. Of course, everyone associates Kent with the May 4, 1970 Vietnam Protests and the shooting/killing of four students, two of which happened to be, as they say, “just passing by.” Sadly, Kent will probably always have that asterik next to it and it’s always been quite a liberal school, anyway. The administration at Kent seems to have done everything in its power to pay tribute to those students and, at the same time, try to put it behind them. The memorial to the four students, which always seems to move me whenever I walk by it, is an unassuming area, tucked into a pretty part of campus not too far away from where the event occured. One can’t help but stand there and wonder where Kent would be today had those bullets somehow missed and the school remained a relatively quiet, liberal college tucked away a half-hour south of Cleveland. Oh yeah, one also can’t help but wonder if the National Guard had an ounce of brains in their head, but I just don’t want to go there. The slideshow here contains some interesting pictures of that memorial, where the only words you’ll find anywhere are three simple, but powerful suggestions: “Inquire, Learn, Reflect.” The slideshow also contains a close-up picture of the metal structure in front of Taylor Hall, which still contains a bullet hole, left there for us, the future generations, to inquire, learn and reflect.
You’ll also see the “grave” marked for Jeffrey Miller on the pavement near Taylor Hall. Miller was the student who was hit and killed by the bullet when it hit that metal structure and ricoched, taking a small, deadly turn and wrecking his life. Who would have thought such a small change in path for such a tiny piece of metal could wreak so much havoc? Of course, Miller’s body is the one seen in that famous picture at Kent State which was circulated worldwide and won the Pulitzer. I’ve also included that picture in this slideshow. To me, these are snapshots of today, but they’re not too far from yesterday. Ten years feels like last week all of a sudden. Thirty-four years ago, in May of 1970, the events at Kent State turned a nation and made the university known for one thing. It’s probably helped them tremendously and harmed them beyond imagination. I had a wonderful time at Kent State during my years there and made lots of friends and I realized this weekend how much I miss the camraderie, the life. I don’t miss the schoolwork. But I guess my one key takeaway is this: one second Jeffrey Miller is walking to (or from) class, the next minute, his lifeless body is frozen in time because of somebody’s bad aim and a freak ricochet. Make sure you stop and “smell the roses” today, even if it’s for just one second. Because it probably took only a few seconds for everything to end for four kids in 1970. The whole thing makes office jobs and high gas prices just seem damn ridiculous.
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