Monday, June 27, 2011

Ontario Street Cafe

2053 Ontario St
Cleveland, OH 44115
(216) 861-6446

by Beau Cadiyo

The TSA recently revised its methods of patting down children at airports. The practice has lots of critics; after all, how many five-year-olds are going to kick down the door of a cockpit, fire bullets into the heads of the pilots and commandeer the plane for terrorist activity? The answer: very, very few (I've learned recently that anything, really, is possible, and not to underestimate children.)

This video starts out with John Pistole, the head of the TSA, proving that he deserves to spend eternity in a special hell of being molested by TSA agents armed with metal-detecting tridents and rubber gloves slathered in hot sauce. Then Rand Paul, Ron Paul's son and current US Senator from Kentucky, has a nice little monologue where he accuses the TSA chief of "not getting it" and "missing the boat" in targeting TSA searches.

For the most part he's right, but his justifications are absurd. He indicates that the children aren't going to be the terrorists and, of course, he's right. What he somehow misses altogether, and what Pistole corrects him on, is that these children can make effective weapons when deployed by adults. In addition, they are usually traveling with adults, all of whom might be capable of carrying out a terrorist attack as ably as the Saudis of 9/11 and can use the children as mules for everything from weapons to drugs; the adults traveling with those children might be the ones that the TSA actually has their eyes on.

Then he goes on to say, "I think you ought to get rid of the random patdowns. The American public is unhappy with 'em; they're unhappy with the invasiveness of 'em; the internet is full of jokes about the invasiveness of your patdown searches; and we ought to just consider is this what we're willing to do." I guess this goes to the heart of democracy; what is the role of the government? Is it to do what is right or to perform the will of the people? If it was to do the will of the people, some might say that government should stop whatever it is doing and serve ice cream to everyone if the temperature hits 90 degrees. If it is to do what is right, though, then the justification of "people are joking about this on the internet; get rid of it" is ludicrous. I suppose it must be somewhere in between, where politicians perform the will of the people to the extent that they feel it is beneficial.

These things need to be discussed and hashed out every few years by the new generation of leaders, preferably in dingy bars with intimate booths that lend themselves to conversation, random friendly strangers stopping by to contribute to the conversation and, most important of all, good food and cheap drinks to stimulate and lubricate the flow of ideas. The Ontario Street Cafe fits that bill perfectly. When I first walked in it was loud - VERY loud. Beyonce was on the jukebox and all of the ten or fifteen women sitting around the bar or shuffling drinks to patrons was singing and dancing; the men were sitting back laughing. Frank Meuti and I - wide-eyed and somewhat disoriented by the onslaught of visual and auditory information - found a booth in the back corner and sat down; the music was loud, but they had somehow found the volume level that matched Jordan Baker's requirements for parties: it was loud enough that you could have a private conversation.

The Dos Equis lagers we ordered were brought within thirty seconds; the hot corned beef sandwich was brought within three minutes. I am usually not impressed by quality when I am impressed by speed, so it was with some amount of trepidation that I bit into the first half of my sandwich. It was, like Slyman's, packed high; unlike Slyman's, they gave me the choice of various sauces, of which I chose the mayo/horseradish.

If there is any sauce that should be consumed with a corned beef sandwich, this is the sauce. It was creamy and moist and spicy, adding to what was already incredibly tender corned beef that I suspected one might be able to gum to edibility. The bread was standard white bread; some Swiss cheese was melted perfectly on top. I forced Frank to eat some, at which he took half of the other half, devouring it in between observations on developments in Cleveland he either was a wholehearted supporter of or was deeply skeptical about. We were approached, at various times, by people who were very sorry to interrupt our conversation but wanted our opinions on something; rather than get annoyed, the fact that we were fish out of water made us open and accepting, which made them the same way. Then, we went back to discussing the role of creativity in economic development, intelligent city planning versus unintelligent city planning, the Medical Mart and the Cuyahoga County Democrats. A few Dos Equis bottles later, we got up from the table and headed out the door. Frank pointed out the price chart on the wall: $3.25 for top shelf drinks, and much less for well. I scanned the shelves; Dewar's, Black Velvet and Jack all had representative bottles, and I made a mental note that I'd be getting those next time instead of the flash $3 bottles.

The key statement that Senator Paul makes toward the end of his monologue is that "no one's thinking." With the TSA and the state of government in our city, county, state and nation, he hits the hammer right on the head; with the future of our democracy, though, I think there's a younger class rising up who will prove him wrong.

Ontario Street Cafe on Urbanspoon

No comments: