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Issue Date: December 2007 Issue


The Cleveland Joke


Steve Gleydura
Poor us. The butt of one-horse-town jokes. The sad-faced clown of ridicule.

Once the best location in the nation, we have been mocked, badgered and beaten down from a plum to a mathematic symbol where one plus three is somehow so much more than four.

Oh, woe is our fragile ego. There must be something wrong with us. Why else would LeBron wear a Yankee cap to Jacobs Field after we rose up, after we cheered for him?

We must be the mistake on the lake.

Yet we possess this burning river of desire to overcome, to scream, “Go to hell, ‘Laugh In.’ Screw Johnny Carson and his ‘Tonight Show’ monologue,” to show the rest of the country we really are players.

Beginning in 1972 and again more than 30 years later, Cleveland Magazine’s premise was simple: Give the city’s best advertising agencies a chance to repair our psyche. Ask them to create a campaign to lift our self-image to heights not seen since the Terminal Tower was built.

“For years it has been the fate of Pittsburgh, Buffalo or Philadelphia to provide the punch lines. But lately the gag writers have discovered Cleveland,” declared Dix & Eaton’s 1973 ad. “We shouldn’t over-react. But the next time some network joker turns Cleveland into a punch line, let’s mail him a twenty-pound salami from the West Side Market along with instructions on what to do with it.”

We’re guessing there wasn’t a sandwich involved.

Dix & Eaton boasted of (what else?) the orchestra, the Browns, the art museum and the city’s “incredible scope.” Carr Liggett Advertising promoted our people: “At last count, Cleveland had 2,640,194 good things going for it.” (So what if we’ve lost more than a few of those reasons since then.) And Meldrum and Fewsmith urged “unity, optimism and determination” by replacing Cleveland’s “v” with a two-fingered peace sign.

In 2004, the good vibes had worn off. Cleveland seemed to be suffering from a late-’90s hangover.

The magazine jokingly blamed our bad rap on “the water” (Wyse Advertising) and our 50 years of sports failures on “unselfishness” (Brokaw). We realized the value of our unpredictable weather and declared it a “beautiful day to do business in Cleveland” (Point to Point). We appealed to our inner child and took a walk with “Moses the Downtown dog” (Liggett Stashower). We were transported in our travels around town and urged to “Explore Cleveland” (Marcus Thomas).

There is magic in the slogan, like the allure of the three-ring circus: If only we just believe in Cleveland, others will too.

Maybe that’s the real punch line.

Seriously, lighten up, people.

That salami sounds pretty good.
Comments:
Friday, January 13, 2012 12:58:40 PM by NOKE
ROCK HALL OF FAME CITY , ? A JOKE , WE LET NEW YORK GET THE GLORY , THE RADIO STATIONS HERE ARE A JOKE THE SAME SONGS OVER AND OVER THE ARCHIVES OF GREAT MUSIC , RADIO FRIENDLY DJ'S ARE OBSOLETE THEY TALK I DONT WANT TO HEAR SOME GOOFBALL TALK ABOUT HIS PAST DRUG ADDICTION OR SOME OTHER DUMBSHIT I WANT TO HEAR ROCK AND ROLL I COULD BRING BACK CLEVELAND AS A ROCK GIANT THAT IT SHOULD BE SIMPLY,A GREAT OPPURTUNITY HERE WITH ALL THE BANDS WE PROMOTED OVER THE YEARS WHY DONT THEY PROMOTE US. JIOHN CONDUPI.

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