Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Seti's Polish Boys

Dean's Supply Parking Lot
3500 Woodland Ave
Cleveland, OH 44115

by Beau Cadiyo

I'm worried about Cleveland's reputation.

Here's what I mean: anyone who has lived in Cleveland in the last ten years should be able to feel - palpably feel - the change in how the city perceives itself.  We all know the story of its "Renaissance"; back in 2005, Ohio City was just the West Side Market; downtown was still dead; etc.  Ten years later, LeBron is back, jobs are up, and a national political party thinks that Cleveland would be a great place to hold its convention.

That last point is what worries me.  The Republican decision to come to Cleveland meant a lot to Clevelanders.  I mean, sure, it wasn't the Democrats, but one of the parties looked at what was happening in Northeast Ohio and said: "Yeah.  We want to be associated with that."  Cleveland told itself that this - this - was the opportunity to shine in the national spotlight, because even the NBA Finals wouldn't bring the world spotlight that a Convention would.  It was supposed to be positive publicity that money couldn't buy, and everyone would know that Cleveland was back, baby.


For the last two weeks, I've been mulling over the possibility that the Convention might be a Pyrrhic victory.  Cleveland beat all of the other cities in the country for the Convention, but a year later, we have to face the fact that it might instead be the site of a coronation.  America - and, really, the world - will, for decades, see Trump on that Cleveland stage; Trump will be surrounded by Cleveland confetti, and all right-thinking people will watch, aghast, as America's lowest, darkest moment occurred in Cleveland.  No fire on the Cuyahoga, no Decision, no industrial disaster could ever take the same negative toll on a city's reputation.

Then this morning, while I was bemoaning Trump's seemingly inevitable victory and the disastrous effect it would have on Cleveland's image, I had the thought that rather than be a mortal wound for the city, perhaps Cleveland could turn this into a victory after all.

Because what if Trump wasn't able to get to the convention at all?  What if, through the great tradition of civil disobedience, Clevelanders united to ruin his party?

I had a vision of Clevelanders taking to the streets - literally - in the same way that they blocked the Shoreway during the Tamir Rice protests, but for an entire week.  Imagine the streets of downtown filled with thousands of Cleveland citizens, mulling about, blocking traffic, getting arrested on international television, filling jails.  Eventually, there wouldn't be enough police or jail cells to detain them all, and, when they couldn't do any more, they'd have to just...let them go.  No vehicles would be able to move; Trump himself wouldn't be crazy enough to try to force his way through the surging crowds.  Sure, no work would be done, but let's face it - no work was going to be done that week anyway, since downtown was going to be effectively shut down.

And the convention would also be shut down.  None of the candidates or delegates would be able to get within miles of the Q, or the Convention Center; even getting around the perimeter of the city would be a nightmare for delegates.  The Republicans crowning Trump would be miserable, and, I suspect, many would just go home.

The best part: the world would see that Clevelanders cared, and united, and acted, and wouldn't back down in the face of a man who sees fascist dictators as role models.  If Clevelanders rose up and took the streets, they would earn the reputation of actually doing something to support our American Democracy when people elsewhere could not or would not.  The international image of the city would be enhanced instead of being destroyed, and the world would forever associate Cleveland not with the lowest moment of American history, when half the country united behind a proud and violent bigot, but with one of the highest points of our constitutional democracy since its founding, when we exercised our right to assemble, to speak, and, if necessary, to exercise other Constitutional rights in the first few Amendments.

It struck me that by destroying the convention, Cleveland and its citizens can protect our democracy.  It might be America's last, and best, chance.

Also, since Freddie's closed, Seti's has the best Polish Boys in the city.

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