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35 Years In the Making

Our December issue catches up with your favorite character and looks back through how we covered the city during 70s, 80s and 90s. Here’s a taste of what you can expect:
The 1970s:
When Skin Was In

Perhaps the staff thought it prudent to start the run of fleshy covers with the most incendiary concept conceivable, thereby numbing our faithful to the future. Or maybe they were just on a ’70s high. Whatever the motivation, the result was our July 1973 cover, the one in poorest taste or perfect taste, depending upon your taste. A string of later covers tried to match that legendary look — from a wild-eyed Fred Griffith on a bicycle in hot pursuit of a naked tush, to the kitschy bathtub shot — but none could ever climb quite that high. The “Group Sex in the Suburbs” remains, at least in our opinion, the most interesting cover of all time.

The 1980s:
Our Wilma Thing

It’s not hard to figure out why Wilma Smith appeared on our cover a record five times. Her eyes pierce, virtually taking the $1.75 out of your wallet for you (that’s how much Cleveland Magazine cost the first time she was on it.) It’s the same quality that’s kept her on the air here since 1977. But while the camera’s love for her is strong, and straightforward, ours is more nuanced. In one of our stories, we call her the “Portrait of a Lady.” Other newscasters may sound increasingly chatty and off-the-cuff. Not her. Even her “casual” remarks ring a bit planned, a bit proper. This dignity and decorum has earned Clevelanders’ respect over the years. But it also means that Wilma will always be more revered than adored, more Diana Sawyer than Kate Couric.

The 1990s:
Where Are They Now?
Never Say Die: Jeff Johnson

Jeff Johnson makes no bones about his criminal record. The former state senator from Collinwood and heir apparent to Louis Stokes’ congressional seat continually refers to himself as an ex-offender.

The 2000s:
The Great Divide
It may be our city’s most pressing question: east or west? Be careful how you answer. As we’ve discovered in the past 35 years, there are far-reaching social, economic and historical implications implicit in your choice.
Call it our “split personality” or our “great Cultural Divide” (as we did in December 1974). Call it our “us-vs.-them mentality” or more gently, “two halves of a brain” (as we did exactly 30 years later in December 2004).
We’ve tried to explain it from a historical context (blaming the Indians, Moses Cleaveland and the Irish) and from a geological perspective (you know, the famed Wisconsin glacier of 18,000 B.C.) Heck, we even tried to pronounce it dead (complete with faux gravestone) to finally put the issue to rest.

Check back Dec. 1 for the full stories and our complete 35th anniversary coverage.


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