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Issue Date: January 2009

Most Interesting People 2009

Matt Beargie, Jennifer Bowen, Laura Crawford, Anne Hartman, Nate Hoffman, Jennifer Keirn, Katie Kuehn, Rebecca Meiser, Colleen Mytnick, Andy Netzel, Brandon Petitto, Andrew Rafferty, Kim Schneider, Beth Stallings & Erick Trickey; Photography by Eric Mull
One is a Cy Young Award-winning pitcher. Another can remember details about everything that’s ever happened to him (really). Meet a fiction writer vying to take over where J.K. Rowling left off, a woman who is doing her part for the Flats’ revival and the rest of this year’s MIP class ...
Monica potter
Read more about Monica Potter in our feature story, The Girl Next Door >>
Monica Potter
Age 37 |Actress

Why she’s interesting //
She’s a native Clevelander set to appear in a new TNT drama called Trust Me, in which she stars with Eric McCormack (from Will & Grace) and Tom Cavanagh (from Ed). In it, she proves that she’s not only pretty and a good actress, but also hilarious. This, while raising three children.
Where you’ve seen her before // On the big screen, from Con Air to Patch Adams to Along Came a Spider

On her childhood in North Collinwood // “That was the best place in the world to grow up. It was like a dream, that street. You drove down it, and nothing else existed anywhere else — just hardworking people, big families, struggling. We all looked out for each other, and we’re all still friends to this day. It was a real community.”

Her alternate career // Potter says she seriously considered becoming a nun.

More realistic alternate career // To become a decorator. Her home is an ode to cozy, shabby chic. “It’s my little castle.”

Potter as muse // She briefly dated Adam Duritz of the Counting Crows. “Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby” is the song he wrote about her.

Cleveland connection // Three of the writers on her new show, Trust Me, are coincidentally from Cleveland — Joy Gregory, John Havlin and Angelo Russo.

What they say about her // “She is unique in her physical comedy,” says Gregory. Adds Russo, “There is not a single moment she is on camera that she doesn’t make use of.”

Van monroeVan Monroe
Age 26 | I'm a shoe artist

Why he’s interesting //
With a paintbrush and a pair of Nike Air Force 1s, Van Monroe’s hand-painted Obama Shoe caught the attention of hip-hop musicians Will.I.Am, T.I. and Diddy, who all commissioned Monroe to paint them their own. A pair will also soon be housed in the National Museum of African American History and Culture at the Smithsonian.

Art isn’t easy // After graduating from Miami University in 2005, Monroe got an office job in Cincinnati, but quit to focus on his art. When bills mounted, he took a temp job in a Kohl’s warehouse and eventually became an assistant manager at a Finish Line retail store.

Yes, he can //The day Barack Obama won more states than projected during the Super Tuesday primaries, Monroe was inspired to once again pursue his art full time. That night, he dreamed of the blue-and-white Obama shoe. The next morning, he painted and posted pictures of it on the Web. In just a few hours, it generated buzz on blogs everywhere, including

On being in the Smithsonian // “I actually cried when I got the e-mail.”

His kicks // The only shoes he wears are a pair of black-and-white Jordans.

Keeping on his toes // Monroe doesn’t look to other artists for inspiration, but to musicians. “Mozart, Beethoven and Nas have a talent that I don’t have; they paint pictures with words and notes, and I get so motivated by that.”

Future footsteps // By his 50s, this self-starter hopes to own his own shoe company, direct a movie and have four or five children. But that, of course, “depends on the woman.”

Three celebrities he would like see wear his shoes // President-elect Barack Obama, Nas and LeBron James

Maureen kyleMaureen Kyle
ge 28 | Channel 3 reporter

Why she’s interesting //For the past year, she’s been getting up well before the sun as a reporter for Channel 3’s morning show. Her spirit of adventure has made her the newsroom guinea pig, whether that means teaching you a new workout move or venturing out into freezing weather at 5 a.m. for a live shot.

Her top 3 newscasters //1.) Anderson Cooper, 2.) Ann Curry, 3.) Tom Brokaw

She’s a Mags girl //Attending Magnificat, an all-girls high school in Rocky River, helped develop her character. “When it’s only girls, you have to have a great personality, because most girls don’t care how pretty you are.”

Kyle, by the numbers //She has two alarm clocks, wakes up at 3 a.m., hits snooze twice and drinks “a lot” of coffee.

The thing is ... //As much as she loves politics and hard news, every producer she’s ever worked for has told her she shines when she does lighter stuff. “Why are you the only person that doesn’t realize you’re a morning-show person?” one boss asked.

Name sound familiar? //Her dad, Chuck Kyle, is the football coach at St. Ignatius.

That must have been fun //Not really. “I was like the black plague in high school. I could clear a room full of guys like that. Nobody wanted to date the coach’s daughter.”

Cinda chima Cinda Chima
Age 56 | I’m anauthor

Why she’s interesting //Kids still suffering from Harry Potter withdrawal will love Chima’s young-adult fantasy series set in the fictional town of Trinity, Ohio, which she modeled after Oberlin. The Strongsville-based author’s first book, 2006’s The Warrior Heir, introduced us to 16-year-old Jack Swift, who discovers he’s the last in a line of magical warriors who must defend himself against an opposing band of wizards. Swift’s story continued in 2007’s The Wizard Heir and last year’s The Dragon Heir.

Her earliest works //Steamy romance novels, starring her friends, that were frequently confiscated by her teachers in junior high

Nods to Northeast Ohio //Readers will notice local landmarks throughout Chima’s books: Jack and his friends visit Cedar Point, wizards battle over Lake Erie, and the Cleveland salt mines serve as a handy hiding spot.

What wizards eat //A dietitian turned author, Chima filled her first draft of The Warrior Heir with detailed descriptions of her characters’ meals. “My first agent crossed out everything and wrote in the margin, ‘We don’t care what they ate for lunch!’ ”

Tough crowd //“I laugh when people decide to write for teenagers because they think it’s easier. It’s not. You can’t write down to them, you shouldn’t condescend to them, and you have to take the concerns of adolescence seriously.”

Honk if you love Cinda //The license plate on Chima’s Honda CR-V reads “ENCHNTR” in reference to the guild of magical characters in her books known as Enchanters, the “masters of mind magic.”

Next up //Chima is working on a new fantasy trilogy for Disney-Hyperion Books for Children, with the first book — tentatively titled The Demon King — set for an October release.

John petkovicJohn Petkovic
Age 42 | I’m aPlain Dealer writer and a musician

Why he’s interesting //
One of The Plain Dealer’s most irreverent, stylish writers, Petkovic lights up the Friday magazine with his smart takes on local pop culture. He’s also the lead singer of the rock band Cobra Verde. This summer, he single-handedly researched the After Dark Bar Guide, which carried the headline, “One Man. 168 Bars.”

How long it took him drink at 168 bars //Six weeks

A favorite find //Marcal’s on Pearl Road in Middleburg Heights, a bar with mirrored ’70s décor and a piano player on weekends. “You want to sit there, drink a Harvey Wallbanger and listen to ‘By the Time I Get to Phoenix.’ ”

Royal aide //In the early 1990s, Petkovic worked for Crown Prince Alexander of the former Yugoslavia, helping the prince book tours and interviews as he made the case for restoring the nation’s deposed monarchy. “I’m always interested in things some people say are absurd.”

How he’d describe Cobra Verde’s music //“Nihilist sing-alongs?”

How we’d describe it
//A mix of Kinks-y power pop, Bowie-esque glam rock and Iggy Pop-ish punk

Three minutes of fame //Cobra Verde’s music has been used in several TV shows, including Rescue Me, The O.C., True Blood and Entourage.

Why TV producers love the band: “We always hear that a lot of people think our stuff is very ‘visual.’ I don’t know what that means.”

Scott websterScott Webster
Age 37 | Custom chopper creator
Why he’s interesting //Webster is owner of Leroy-Thompson Handcrafted Customs in Mentor. Hiscustom motorcycles have garnered national attention and recognition within the industry, but in 2006, Webster burst into the mainstream by winning the Biker Build-Off on TLC.

Mentor motorhead //Raised without cable TV, Webster and his brother Keith grew up with motorcycles. “My first bike was a [Yamaha] Trailmaster 50, and even back then we were monkeying around with it, pulling the guts out of the exhaust, trying to make it louder.”

A personal touch //“I really get to know [a customer] before I build a bike for them. ... More than just ergonomics, it’s actually the people themselves that we reflect in the motorcycle.”

Cleveland, a biker town? //Webster says Ohio has the second-highest population of motorcycle owners in the country. “Cleveland is a huge motorcycle venue,” says Webster. “For a state and a city that has how many good days and how many snowy days? It’s cool to see so many people that enjoy it.”

Multitalented //When Webster is not in the shop, he is probably in the kitchen. He’s also picked up a new hobby in recent months:the banjo.

On why we ride //“It’s whatever makes you forget you had a bad day at work or you’re having a horrible day at home,” says Webster. “That’s the whole idea, the freedom.”
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Monday, October 12, 2009 2:44:21 PM by Ann McGuire
When is the deadline for nominating people for Most Interesting People 2010?

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