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Issue Date: December 2004 Issue


Party? We'll Cross For That
The signs directed West Siders to enter at the front, East Siders in the back. As if the two groups needed any help segregating themselves
When a friend moves from east to west, we find many reasons to celebrate.

The signs directed West Siders to enter at the front, East Siders in the back. As if the two groups needed any help segregating themselves.

Their host, Michelle Johnson, a Geauga County native who had maintained a "working visa" to the West Side for years, knew they did not. Her recent move from Cleveland Heights to Ohio City was more than a victory for her West Side friends. It was an excuse to throw an "expatriate party."

Some invitees betrayed their biases on the party's Evite message board. One even wondered whether Michelle's move would necessitate a new 'do. ("Since you are now on the West Side does this mean you will now have big hair?") Michelle, who was once a real expat living in Côte d'Ivoire (Africa) as a Peace Corps volunteer, did not poof out her hair for the occasion, but did twist it into an updo set off by tiny silver stars. All night long, she twirled around her new abode in an "expat dress," a little navy-blue bridesmaid's number draped with a silver-starred sash. A perfect ensemble, it turned out, for breaking into the samba, an appropriately neutral dance from the Southern Hemisphere.

Some guests made passport jokes. Those who had crossed over wore plastic skull rings, as might have been handed out on the bank of the River Styx. Many brought food, which amounted to a bicoastal spread of East Side vegetarian and West Side decadence, including egg rolls, Mexican chocolate fondue and big, frosted cookies from Truffles. The libations flowed freely, as did the guests' opinions on Cleveland's longest rivalry. Some even admitted to crossing the river and (gasp!) liking it.

Judith Pindell

Affiliation: East Side (Highland Heights)

Last time she crossed over: This afternoon, for a meeting

Grudging admission about the West Side: Many social-service agencies and nonprofits are centralized on the West Side.

Nanci Ballantyne

Affiliation: West Side (Lakewood)

Last time she crossed over: Last week, for work

Grudging admission: The East Side has the Cedar Lee Theatre.

Heather Majchrycz

Affiliation: West Side (Lakewood)

Last time she crossed over: Today, for work

Grudging admission: She had to stay on the West Side. Otherwise her West Sider parents wouldn't visit her.

Jeon Francis

Affiliation: West Side

Last time he crossed over: A few weeks earlier, for the Feast of the Assumption in Little Italy

Grudging admission: Loves MOCA, the cultural gardens, University Circle, "everything from the landscaping to the architecture."

Samba dancers

Julie Kanter, Claudia Muñoz and Michelle Johnson

Kanter

Affiliation: East Side (Cleveland Heights)

Grudging admission: None. She loves the West Side. "If we didn't go to Case [medical school], we'd live on the West Side."

Muñoz, Kanter's roommate

Affiliation: East Side

Grudging admission: "I love the atmosphere here. It's more down-to-earth, more normal. I love Tremont and the falafel at the West Side Market."

Noel Harris and James Djunaidy

Harris

Affiliation: East Side (Cleveland Heights)

Last time she crossed over: Last week, she went to Talkies in Ohio City.

Grudging admission about the West Side: "Damn, that [Talkies] coffee's good!" Also enjoys the Middle Eastern and Puerto Rican restaurants.

Djunaidy

Affiliation: East Side (Cleveland Heights)

Last time he crossed over: Last week. Often goes to the West Side Market and plays sports in Tremont.

Grudging admission about the West Side: "It's more convenient."

Elizabeth Collins and Mike Sanders

Collins

Affiliation: West Side (Lakewood)

Last time she crossed over: A couple of weeks ago, to see friends

Grudging admission: None. She really thinks the West Side is the best.

Sanders

Affiliation: West Side (Old Brooklyn)

Last time he crossed over: Today, to see his mom

Grudging admission: You can stay out later on the East Side.


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