Sunday, February 28, 2016

From this world to the next, and from the next back to this.

It has been a long week. My father's ashes were interred yesterday morning. That was odd. The small, black box which held his remains was sitting on a pedestal and they funeral director asked Mom if she would like to see them buried, and she said yes. This was something she hadn't been asked during her father's funeral, twenty-seven years ago.

They backed up a small maintenance vehicle, placed the box in the hole and covered it with earth and sod. I believe we were all very impressed.

We held his memorial at Lakewood Presbyterian Church. Family had come in from out east, from England. Standing in the receiving line, the oddest attendance, not only from his life but from mine. I was impressed and touched by those who arrived for him and also for the rest of us, many I hadn't seen in years or decades.

There followed an afternoon and evening of eating and drinking, telling stories, looking at photo albums. Talking, always talking.

Today my brothers are heading home. A week-long mourning period comes to an end. I have to get back to work.

Distance: 3.6 miles
Route: Forest Hill Loop
Temperature: 45°
Climate: cool and bright
Pavement: dry
Weight: 162 lbs.
Mood: yes.

Perfect day. Like an early spring day. We have a visitor in the pond, it is a swan.

Eleven runs in February. Not a record, but it is remarkable. Thank you for your time.

1993 Playlist
Stay (Faraway, So Close)  - U2
Sober - Tool
Lonely Planet - The The
Sodium Light Baby - The The
Epilogue (Nothing 'Bout Me) - Sting
Hip Hop Hooray - Naughty By Nature
Lies - Cyndi Lauper

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Round my heart I felt an aching pain.

Bay Days Five Mile Fun Run (1980?)
From the image at left, based on the bib number, I am almost certain this is the 1980 Bay Days Five Mile Run.

That was my first race. My number was 623, and it is the same type of unlabeled card, same large font.

That is a light cardstock, by the way. Perhaps there were holes punched into it, not sure.

Dad was running the race, and somewhere I got the idea that I would also. I did not do too badly. But he was out in front of me.

Do you see? His feet do not touch the ground.

Distance: 3.25 miles
Route: Forest Hills Loop

Head down into the light snow and wind. A beautiful run around Forest Hills. Brisk pace, great bpms, good music.

Temperature: 34°
Climate: wind and light snow
Pavement: wet
Weight: 163 lbs.
Mood: all right

2013 Playlist
Fare Thee Well (Dink's Song) * - Oscar Isaac & Marcus Mumford
Pumping Blood - NONONO
Everything (155 bpm) - Nine Inch Nails
Harlem - New Politics
San Fransisco - The Mowgli's
Animals - Martin Garrix
Love Somebody - Maroon 5
Royals (170 bpm) - Lorde

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Figures from the past stand tall.

Heights Six Cities Marathon (year?)
My father ran two marathons. Now I realized I do not know when they were.

One was the Heights Six Cities Marathon, which used to run through Cleveland Hts., Shaker Hts., University Hts., South Euclid, Lyndhurst and ... Beachwood?

The other was in Sandusky, mom believes in 1983. I am sure I can find this information in the house, at the moment I am just ashamed I don't already have this information at my fingertips.

This is what we are doing this week. Excavation.

Distance: 3.36 miles
Avg Pace: 7:56
Duration: 26:40
Route: Boulevard Loop

Running through the cold rain. It was glorious. Maybe it sounds unpleasant to you, but properly dressed, and as long as there is no wind, it is actually very nice.

I put on a cotton hoodie, because I wanted to wear my cap to keep the rain out of my eyes, but needed to cover my ears. Running in the cold with ears uncovered I can feel a little deaf for a period.

I need this time. Time to think.  I my writing my eulogy. It is coming together slower than I had thought it might.

Temperature: 37°
Climate: rain
Pavement: wet, puddles
Weight: 162.5 lbs.
Mood: anxious

Was 1979 the greatest year in pop music history? The wife might agree, so might my brother. I should ask him. This playlist is particularly good.

1979 Playlist
Look Back In Anger - David Bowie
Candy-O - The Cars
Life During Wartime - Talking Heads
Dead Souls - Joy Division
Boys Keep Swinging - David Bowie
Pulsing Pulsing - XTC
Hateful - The Clash
Crazy Little Thing Called Love - Queen
Cleveland Rocks - Ian Hunter


Monday, February 22, 2016

Why must I? Why should I?

Some Police fans were a bit disoriented when Sting started recording solo albums. What's this soft jazz shit? I liked Blue Turtles a lot, and that was actually a hit album. However, fewer of my friends enjoyed Nothing Like the Sun, and I initially found The Soul Cages tiresome.

I really liked Nothing Like the Sun, and I was aware that he had written it after the death of his mother. The mother-son motif was something I could respond to. As Sting's father died shortly thereafter, Soul Cages was about him, which is probably why I didn't care for it.

Because the father-son thing. At the age of twenty-two I wasn't into the father-son thing. I loved my father, but there wasn't much understanding there. I mean, I tried. But it wasn't a thing.

The album grew on my however, even as I stopped listening to new Sting material altogether. We used several themes from Soul Cages in the Bad Epitaph production of Hamlet. The loss of fathers weighs heavily in that play, and my Hamlet in that production has lost his father a few years earlier himself.

One song in particular has always crushed me, even when dad was living; Why Should I Cry For You. It is not a disrespectful question, it is an honest, searching inquiry. It also has perfect beats per minute. It is hard to run fast and cry at the same time. I am glad I wearing sunglasses.

Distance: 5 miles
Avg Pace: 7:56
Duration: 39:45
Route: Boulevard-Noble Loop
Temperature: 30° → 34°
Climate: cool and bright
Pavement: dry
Weight: 161.5 lbs.
Mood: as you might expect

1991 Playlist
- or -
"The Soul Cages" by Sting
Island of Souls
All This Time
Mad About You
Jeremiah Blues (Part 1)
Why Should I Cry for You (162 bpm)
Saint Agnes and the Burning Train
The Wild Wild Sea
The Soul Cages
When the Angels Fall

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Should you have to leave us it'll be all right.

The universe intervenes. Thought things were frustrating last week, with the opening of the outreach tour, cold temps and sidewalks crusted with slippery snow and ice.

That was before I received a phone call from my father's pastor Friday morning that my father had suffered a massive heart attack and that I needed to rush to Lakewood Hospital. It was too late, I found my mother, the pastor and my father - he, dead in the emergency room.

Such a beautiful weekend. High of seventy degrees. Spent almost none of it outdoors. No time to run, no desire to run. You know my father was a runner? Of course you do.

Distance: 3.21 miles
Avg Pace: 7:47
Duration: 25:01
Route: Boulevard Loop

Can't tell you how selfish I felt taking a run. Did anyone see me out there? What must they think. Mostly I felt selfish for feeling good. Not emotionally good, just physically well. In shape. It's been a week, and while my brain cannot cool my body has not had much movement. It felt great last night just to cook dinner for my mother and my brother.

And it was good.

This is going to be a long week. The memorial is on Saturday. Denny and I will go through things, our cousins will all be involved. And we have to keep mom in the game.

Temperature: 45°
Climate: cool
Pavement: dry
Weight: 161.5 lbs.
Mood: as you might expect

Recently, I made note on my other blog that the year 1989 was the greatest year in the history of popular music. This is an argument I would enjoy having with anyone. Go ahead, read the post, in which I highlight only three albums, with the intention of commenting on additional albums in the future.

We shall see if I ever get to that. In the meantime, it is the day for running to the 1989 playlist.

1989 Playlist
Zaar - Peter Gabriel
Garden of Earthly Delights - XTC
Sowing the Seeds of Love - Tears For Fears
Cuts You Up - Peter Murphy
Dreaming I Am - Bob Mould

See? What did I tell you? 1989. Some playlist.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Those roads. These skies.

Mitch's Long Back (2016)
Daniel Maidman
No complaints. Really, none. The past two winters were arduous, and I accepted them as well. This one has been mild, only the past week dipping into frozen temperatures. I could run, I have run while the mercury is in the teens. However, between my children's schedules and my own, plus the deep freeze, it has not been possible.

Soon the temps will rise again. The ice will melt. See? No complaints.

However, I have been feeling pains, strange pains. My left gluteus maximus (yes, that) has been sore, intermittently, for several weeks. I believe I have been sitting far too much. I have had an awful lot of desk work lately and have been in front of that screen a great deal.

Then there's my car, a two-door Honda Civic (2005.) Driving slowly on these slippery roads has become a literal pain. I am used to the discomfort which comes with making a road trip to Athens, say. What is different is getting into my car as I did yesterday to drive the girl to a futsal game, and almost immediately feeling sore and crabby.

Following that, I got to sit in a chilled warehouse-like athletic facility for three hours. I should have watched the games on my feet. I often do more things on my feet. I should find some kind of secure platform on which to put my laptop for writing scripts.

The wife suggests incorporating my stretching exercises into my routine, which I think is a very good idea.

Instead of an image of my own ass, I decided to present you with a much more attractive piece of work, a sketch created by the extremely talented, Brooklyn-based artist and my friend Daniel Maidman.

Distance: 3.58 miles
Avg Pace: 9:34
Duration: 34:16
Route: Forest Hill Loop

Woah. That was a workout. Brilliant day, sun reflecting brightly off the snow, wore shades. The clumpy snow is hard on my knees and ankles, also I took the Forest Hill Park route, most of which was no different from the sidewalks (when I could stay on the paths) but the sidewalk up Forest Hills Blvd. I took back became extremely deep before I ditched it and walked in the street.

I had to walk because I had been lifting my knees so high to play over and through the drifts my heart was racing very fast. My heart is strong, but please. Let's not test that.

Temperature: 18°
Climate: cold and bright
Pavement: deep drifts of snow
Weight: 164 lbs.
Mood: decent

1999 Playlist
Thursday's Child - David Bowie
Futurama Theme - Christopher Tyng
Big Pimpin - Jay-z ft. UGK
Thank You - Dido
The Future of the Future (Stay Gold) - Everything But the Girl
Stars All Seem To Weep - Beth Orton
Porcelain - Moby

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The winter gets cold.

Welcome back, winter. Cold plus snow. Feels like forever since I have moved. Spending long hours in front of the screen, writing and editing materials for the outreach tour.

And Hamilton. Listening to Hamilton. It's true. All of it.

Distance: 3.40 miles
Avg Pace: 8:45
Duration: 29:43
Route: Four times around the block.

Oh God. Oh, my God. That was ... something. It wasn't snowing when I headed out, not really. But it picked up as I went. And the wind, which while not unbearable, numbed my face.

But I kept going. Not two laps, though I though that might be a good time to stop. Not three. A complete circuit of four. And I was a little nervous. Scared of cars which might skid and jump the curb. Of plows going madly up and down short drive. Of anything, everything.

Glad to get out, outside, into the air, to move my body. But it was a little crazy.

Temperature: 19°
Climate: cold with snow showers
Pavement: fluffy

Worked at home today, guy came to install a new fireplace. The old one petered out well over ten years ago. We smelled gas, had the whole thing shut down. Why not? We had very small children, it was an accident waiting to happen. Blocked with a magazine rack since Bush's first term.

Last year the girl said, "Any chance of having a working fireplace, you know, while I still live here?"


Weight: 159.5 lbs.
Mood: not great

Why so anxious? Because I am seriously anxious today. Hmn.  Getting the tour organized? That's nothing new. New script? I guess, it's not really mine. It's Agatha Christie. Mom and Dad were over today. My father has become quite the old man. Slow moving, poor balance, weak voice. Quick to tire. I tucked him into our bed for a nap, that was new.

Yes, yes. I think that's it. Huh. That was a surprise.

Also, the end of Hamilton. That's also upsetting. So there's that, too.

2009 Playlist
Mute (Jokers Of The Scene Remix) - The Brash
Empire State of Mind * - Jay-Z ft. Alicia Keys
Sugar - Flo Rida ft. Wynter
Sea of Heartbreak - Roseanne Cash ft. Bruce Springsteen
The Start of Something - Voxtrox
Lisztomania - Phoenix
I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked * - Ida Maria

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Only the strong survive.

Last night was the annual Great Lakes Gala, held at the Hanna Theatre. After a number of my colleagues went to Parnell's, I had to leave at 1:00 AM but I imagine my coworkers closed the place. I hadn't even had much to drink, but I got very little sleep last night.

Woke at 7:30 AM on purpose to avoid a headache. In that endeavor I was successful. But I have spent the day a bit delirious.

It is fifty degrees in February, and it is a Sunday. I have to run.

Distance: 3.26 miles
Avg Pace: 7:47
Duration: 25:22
Route: Forest Hill Loop

Temperature: 50°
Climate: overcast and cool
Weight: 162.5 lbs. (+1.0)
Mood: tremulous

Yesterday The Current dedicated their Saturday morning Teenage Kicks program to the enduring legacy of "Kraut Rock." I'd never heard Can. But I'd heard of them.
I was there in 1968. I was there at the first Can show in Cologne. But I'm losing my edge. - LCD Soundsystem
There's, like, twenty bands I love that wouldn't exist without the song Mother Sky.

1969 Playlist
Mother Sky - Can
Go To The Mirror - The Who
Only The Strong Survive - Jerry Butler
Come Together - The Beatles
My Pledge of Love - The Joe Jeffrey Group
It's All Too Much - The Beatles

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Too fast for me.

Yesterday I stopped by the corner of West 3rd and Lakeside Ave., just to snap a photo of the Jesse Owens statue. Thousands no doubt walk past it before and after every Browns game, but otherwise it's not a corner anywhere near where I might find myself walking on a given day.

Knowing its location, I made a point of noticing it as we ran past during last year's Turkey Trot. The fact is, the patina on this seven-foot bronze statue appears deep gray and it is shaded by trees. It doesn't catch the eye of anyone driving past.

Located across street from the Justice Center, this piece was created by Cleveland Arts Prize recipient William M. McVey (1904-1995) in 1982.

It is perhaps surprising that this legendary Cleveland native, who achieved four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, has never been depicted in a big-budget Hollywood biopic. This may be for the best, for any film created in the last century would probably gloss over some of the more troubling aspects of the Jesse Owens story and just focus on his success and (supposed) humiliation of Hitler at the "Nazi" games.

Jeremy Schaap's book Triumph: The Untold Story of Jesse Owens and Hitler's Olympics lays out the conundrum which athletes like Owens faced when confronted with a popular sentiment that the US should not participate in the Berlin games. The question was, should we not boycott games held in a nation which has codified Antisemitism and bigotry?

The counter argument was how can the US pass judgement on Germany when she, too, is a nation of entrenched and legal racism, i.e. Jim Crow?

Then there is the argument that it was Owens' responsibility, as a man of color, to best the Nazis on their own turf. Finally, and no one could have known this at the time, the next two Olympics were fated not to happen due to World War II. If Jesse Owens had decided not to run in 1936, he would have been far past his prime in 1948. Today no one would remember who he is.

Jesse Owens is finally receiving the attention he deserves, in RACE, a film opening on February 19 and from the trailer it would appear that many of the issues posed in Schaap's compose the main narrative of this film.

My assumption is that the film will conclude with the athlete's moment of triumph in 1936 and not delve into his later years, through which he was unable to or in fact prevented from successfully capitalizing upon his victories, disappointments he attempted himself to articulate through somewhat clumsy memoirs like Blackthink and I Have Changed.

The Berlin Olympics were eighty years ago this summer, so too was the last time Cleveland hosted a national political convention - the Republican National Convention of 1936. This summer Republicans will once again convene in Cleveland, congregating mere blocks from the intersection of Lakeside and West 3rd. I hope our guests take a moment to visit the statue and to celebrate the triumph of this legendary Cleveland citizen.

After all, Jesse Owens was a Republican.

Stephan James is Jesse Owens in RACE

Distance: 3.38 miles
Avg Pace: 7:48
Duration: 26:18
Route: Boulevard Loop

Beautiful, sunshiny day. Brisk run around the neighborhood, past the boy's school. Definitely overdressed, I should have taken the sun into account, it may be below forty degrees but I was sweating.

Temperature: 39°
Climate: cool and sunny
Pavement: dry

Weight: 161.5 lbs. (-1.0)
Mood: anxious & grateful

1974 Playlist
Autobahn - Kraftwerk
Save the People from "Godspell"
Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo - Rick Derringer
You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet - Bachman-Turner Overdrive
Boogie On Reggae Woman - Stevie Wonder
Chameleon - Maynard Ferguson

New York Times
Cleveland Arts Prize
FOCUS Features
Cleveland Centennial

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

I took a different path.

James A. Garfield Monument
Q: Where is President James A. Garfield buried?

If you answered Lakeview Cemetery, you would be wrong.

When I want a scenic if somewhat challenging five-to-six mile run, then I head for Lakeview. It does take two miles to get there and two miles back, but the mile or more I spend within its ancient stone walls are more than worth the effort.

Founded almost one hundred and fifty years ago, this most awesome Cleveland attraction is the final resting place of such legendary Cleveland personages as artist Victor Schreckengost, Mayor Carl Stokes, inventor Garrett Morgan and yes, President Garfield.

Only Garfield isn't technically buried. He and his wife Lucretia lie in state in the crypt of the Garfield Monument. The Monument, open April through November, the highest point the cemetery and the observation plaza provides a wonderful view.

Personally, when running though I often take a moment to visit the stones for former Safety Director Eliot Ness and comic book author and jazz critic Harvey Pekar, who was and is a quintessential Heights persona. These two grave sites are actually about ten paces from each other, across the road from Wade Pond.

Here is the thing though, if you enter the park from Mayfield in Cleveland Heights with plans to exit onto Euclid Avenue in East Cleveland, that's fine. It's downhill all the way. For this five miler, however, I take a lap around the monument, downhill and back up again. The "up" part can be pretty steep.

If I chose to run eight miles, I would head out the Euclid Avenue gate and turn left into the Uptown neighborhood, swing around MOCA and head up through Little Italy and back home.

Distance: 5.42 miles
Avg Pace: 7:47
Duration: 42:15
Route: Lakeview Cemetery

The wind and spitting rain just trying to cross Euclid Avenue after rehearsal last night was insane! Today the rain has subsided and it's like a windy spring day, but apparently winter is blowing in. I'm glad I got to take this morning run. Feeling strong, feeling good, feeling grateful.

Temperature: 55°
Climate: overcast and a bit blustery
Pavement: wet
Weight: 162.5 lbs. (+0.5)
Mood: positive

2004 Playlist
Whatshername - Green Day
Breathe Me - Sia
Laura - Scissor Sisters
Mike Mills * - AIR
Suddenly I See - KT Tunstall
As The Rush Comes - Motorcycle
Ohh La La  - The Ditty Bops
Fit But You Know It * - The Streets
Golden Touch - Razorlight
Take Me Out - Franz Ferdinand
Short Skirts - Felix da Housecat

Lakeview Cemetery

Monday, February 01, 2016

Running away will never set you free.

Choosing to make a four mile run, I will often head around Lee Road to Cain Park. This is one of the things I love about living in Cleveland Heights, the fact that we have a public park which includes an amphitheater for live musical performances, and locally produced live theater.

Like most great endeavors, the park was conceived of by an educator, Heights High drama coach Dr. Dina Rees Evans. She started a theater company to present works in this park in the early 1930s, their inaugural effort was A Midsummer Night's Dream. 

Education, Shakespeare, Cleveland Heights. That's my life, too.

Last winter the boy was sidelined by an injury and all year (yes, even in deepest summer) how he missed out on sledding last year, at all. He's had the chance to do that twice so far this winter at the sledding hill in Cain Park, which is his favorite and always packed with sledders on snow days and even past sundown.

We shall see if he gets to do any more sledding this year. (sad trombone)

Distance: 4.05 miles
Avg Pace: 7:36
Duration: 30:52
Route: Cain Park Loop

One of the best things about Cain Park - from spring to fall - is the chance for a water break. They put away the water fountains during the winter for obvious reasons. The other great thing is that sledding hill. It makes for a steep incline to get out of the park and onto Taylor Road. Not everyone digs this, but training on it made it possible for me to crush Mile 21 in the Twin Cities last fall.

Temperature: 39°
Climate: cool and bright

Bit distressed a few weeks back to learn I had developed a new cavity. Had that filled today, feel a bit light headed, still can't feel my face. But I want OXYGEN.

Weight: 162 lbs. (-1.5)
Mood: good! woobly!

1984 Playlist
Blue Jean - David Bowie
Doctor! Doctor! - The Thompson Twins
Drive (167 bpm) - The Cars
Let's Go Crazy - Prince & The Revolution
I'm Free (Heaven Helps The Man) (160 bpm) - Kenny Loggins
Dropping Bombs On The White House - The Style Council
Born To Run (160 bpm) - Frankie Goes to Hollywood
Train Running Low on Soul Coal - XTC

That was a totally awesome playlist. No kidding, I was flying. However, I was also afraid I would swallow my tongue. I still cannot feel my tongue.

City of Cleveland Heights
Cain Park website