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Issue Date: December 2005 Issue


The Ultimate Clevelander


The Editors

 

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Why the Bone Lady is the Ultimate Clevelander

1. She used to walk around with “Art Sucks” on her rear end. (She respectfully retired the saying when the Ravens won the Super Bowl. “It was time to move on,” she says. “I’ve put Art Modell out of my brain.”)

2. She covers herself in dog bones and orange spray paint and wears a beehive.

3. She loves to tailgate. Waking up at 5 a.m. to transform herself into the Bone Lady doesn’t bother her at all. She makes sure to be at the Muny parking lot by 8 a.m. to get “her spot.”

4. She gets frustrated with the Browns. “I want to see a good product on the field. I want to see a team run correctly. Let me tell you, it gets tiring walking out of that stadium [when we lose].”

5. She’s hot. In character and in real life. With her blonde hair and blue eyes, Debra Darnall doesn’t look 46.

6. WMMS, “The Best Damn Sports Show Period,” CNN, The Plain Dealer and of course, Cleveland Magazine. The media is always hounding her — in a good way.

7. She turned a Volvo into a masterpiece. Her ’87 240 wagon (with over 230,000 miles on it) is almost as famous as she is.

8. She’s been to every home game since the Browns returned in 1999 and tries to go to as many away games as possible. She sits in the Dawg Pound.

9. She has her own trading cards and was inducted into the Visa Hall of Fans at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2001.

10. “This is home,” she says. “Cleveland is always home.”

11. She knows her football, especially The Fumble, The Drive and Red Right 88. “I watched them all,” she says. “That’s when our hearts got ripped out.”

12. Many guys have asked for her hand in marriage. “Bone Lady, I love you! Will you marry me?” is their usual form of proposal, followed by her comeback: “If I have to card you or if I could have possibly given birth to you, no.”

Why John Adams is the Ultimate Clevelander

1. Superfan? Try Superman. While Adams is known for drumming in the bleachers at Indians games, he also trains people to teach the disabled at Cleveland State, he’s a water safety instructor for the Red Cross and a music teacher at the West Side Irish-American Club.

2. He’s refused to leave Cleveland even though he’s been offered job promotions to go elsewhere.

3. “This is my town because my heart is here. I’m in love with the folks that live here.”

4. On satisfying the people of Cleveland: “You better be honest and true. We work too hard to spend our money on crap.”

5. Adams misses only weekday day games. However, he has been known to take Opening Day off work.

6. He can speak at length about almost any of our “How Cleveland Are You?” quiz questions. He can explain the lake effect. He’s not only taken off work for the St. Patrick’s Day parade, he’s trained students to march in it. He was at Ten Cent Beer Night, remembers the score and can dispel some wilder versions of the story.

7. The way he talks about Cleveland, you’d think he was running for mayor. “As bad as things are, I see hope.”

8. “I march to the beat of my own drum and I think the spirit of Cleveland is the same. We create. We don’t copy.”

9. He’s played drums in polka bands.

10. He considers The Bone Lady and Big Dawg friends.

11. Everyone who asks gets one hit of the drum.

12. Although he’s not naming names, that’s included some Hall of Fame athletes.

Why Dennis Kucinich is the Ultimate Clevelander

1. His name ends in “–ich.”

2. He has a “Polka, Bowling and Kielbasa” page on his congressional Web site. (He also knows the difference between an accordion and a button box.)

3. He’s not too proud to tell people that his grandfather, John Kucinich, drove a paper-rags cart when he first came to Cleveland. When he got more established, he drove an ice truck. Kucinich used to accompany him on deliveries to restaurants and bars on the lower East Side. “He’d have a leather covering over his shoulder, and he’d have these big tongs that would just crunch into the ice cake, and he’d carry that over with one hand and he’d haul me with the other.”

4. He has lived in several cars.

5. Like Cleveland itself, Kucinich inspires fierce loyalty.

6. People out of town, including actors and authors, seem to celebrate him more than people at home.

7. His Uncle Lenny used to work in a magic shop near Short Vincent Avenue.

8. He had a great failure — his term as mayor, during which the city defaulted — that Clevelanders won’t let him forget.

9. He had a great comeback that makes Clevelanders proud.

10. The first time he took his current wife for a walk around downtown, “She was enraptured by the green on the mall,” he says. They were across the street from the peace fountain behind the library. “She stood there on the spot for a second, looked around and said, ‘Let’s get married. Right here.’ And so we did.”

11. His father was working at Midland Steel when he was born. It’s on his birth certificate.

12. He is frequently underestimated.

Why George Forbes is the Ultimate Clevelander

1. “Everything I am, I owe to the city of Cleveland,” Forbes says. The son of a sharecropper from Tennessee, he came to Cleveland to attend Baldwin-Wallace College, got a law degree, was elected to city council and served as council president for 18 years.

2. Moving to another city “has never crossed my mind.”

3. He and his former nemesis have both lived here for so long, they’ve become buddies. “Dennis and I fought each other, then became friends. That’s Cleveland.”

4. He can still hold a grudge. Clevelanders love the stories about Forbes throwing stuff at his archenemies: a water pitcher at his ex-law partner Ricardo Teamor, a chair at ex-mayor Mike White. “Everybody remembers the chair,” Forbes laughs.

5. He used to have lunch a couple times a week at the Theatrical on Short Vincent. Once a year, the owner cooked a soul food dinner for him and other regular black customers. “Everybody was there. Mobsters, gangsters, politicians. When you went into the Theatrical, you were equal.”

6. “You know us,” say the radio commercials for his law firm. We do.

7. He was at Game 7 of the 1997 World Series in Miami when Josť Mesa blew the save, sitting with his friend, then-Indians owner Dick Jacobs. “It was a long plane ride home.”

8. “I had a house in Florida. My wife and kids, they loved it. I spent five days in three years in it. I said, ‘This doesn’t make sense. I don’t go there, because I stay in Cleveland. This is my home. This is where my friends are, this is where my church is, this is where my business is.’ ” He sold the house.

9. He was always more popular on one side of town (the East Side) than the other. But when he speaks on the West Side today, people approach him brimming with nostalgia about his days at City Hall.

10. Sixteen years after he left council, he’s still Cleveland’s most famous behind-the-scenes power player. Sometimes that gets him in hot water (like his time on the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation oversight commission), sometimes it makes headlines (like when he joined the fall police-shooting protests), but either way, he’s never out of the news for long.

11. He hates the New York Yankees a little more than the Michigan Wolverines.

12. One night, decades ago, during his talk show on WERE-AM, he was heard puffing on a cigarette. Listeners called and said, “If you stop smoking, we’ll stop smoking.” So he did. “I still meet people who say, ‘We do not smoke today because that night, you stopped smoking.’ ”

Why John Lanigan is the Ultimate Clevelander

1. He spent Opening Day 2005 in a Jacobs Field loge with Bob Feller and Drew Carey.

2. He can complain passionately about something that’s been going on for decades. In his case, it’s his 4:30 a.m. wake-up time. “I’ve never gotten used to it, never liked it,” he says. “I hate it. I’m always tired.”

3. He likes to have fun, but on his own terms. Lanigan says he was fired from a job in Denver because he “wouldn’t party with the people in charge.”

4. He can hold a grudge. That same boss later tried to woo him back. It didn’t work.

5. He has interviewed every important Clevelander, including mayors from Ralph Perk through Jane Campbell, as well as congresspeople, senators and governors.

6. “Jimmy’s here because he was born here,” Lanigan says. “I came here and actually stayed here because I like it.” (Lanigan was born in San Diego, but his father moved the family to Nebraska when he was 2.)

7. He likes all different kinds of food, with Italian and Mexican topping his list. Jimmy “eats, like, steak,” Lanigan says.“That’s all.”

8. He may not be the most educated guy in the room (he dropped out of college, where he was studying law, to pursue a radio career), but he’s got drive. (He’s also got three houses: one on the lake in Bay Village, one in Florida and one in Colorado.)

9. As host of “The Prize Movie” on Channel 43, Lanigan made us all feel like winners. He’d spin the wheel filled with images from the station’s shows, and all you had to do was identify the actor, the character or the show.

10. He outlasted his nemesis, Howard Stern, who once burned an effigy of him.

11. If he ever leaves Cleveland, it will be solely for the purpose of being closer to his family. (He has two kids and seven grandchildren living in Colorado and Florida.)

12. He used to worry about what people thought of him, but not anymore. “If you don’t think I'm the quintessential Clevelander, I don’t care,” he says. “Jimmy’s much more concerned about what people think. Jimmy will care a lot.”

Why Jimmy Malone is the Ultimate Clevelander

1. His great-aunt was Eliot Ness’ housekeeper.

2. He was born in Cleveland and went to Cleveland public schools until the seventh grade. He’s still involved with the Cleveland schools, for instance, by throwing benefits for the Cleveland Scholarship Program.

3. He had lots of regular jobs before he became a radio personality: life insurance salesman, Xerox salesman, real estate agent, truck-parts buyer.

4. Back when he was an insurance agent, he rode the bus and the rapid to work.

5. He got his job through tenacity and talent. When he was a stand-up comedian, he was invited to appear on John Lanigan’s morning show. He brought a bunch of newspaper articles, and he and Lanigan improvised a segment about them that eventually became their signature “Knuckleheads in the News.” Lanigan got a lot of calls asking him to bring Malone back.

6. “Cleveland’s definitely a meat-and-potatoes town. I’m a typical Clevelander: I’d much rather have steak than eat fried eel or something like that.”

7. His grandfather worked at Republic Steel.

8. “I’ve stayed here when I could have gone other places.” When he was doing stand-up, a lot of his friends wanted to go to Los Angeles or other cities to make it big. “I was happy for them, but I was happy to stay in this area. I enjoyed, when my daughter was young, putting her to bed at night instead of being out in Hollywood trying to do whatever.”

9. “I knew Tim Couch was going to be a bad pick. … He came from a college that didn’t even have a playbook. He didn’t have an offensive line to protect him. Clevelanders understood that.”

10. “I’m a defender of Cleveland,” he says. “If we didn’t live here, and we were just looking at a city where they completely redid their theater district, they have a new baseball stadium, football stadium and basketball arena, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, you’d say, ‘I’d love to check out that progressive place.’ ”

11. He thinks no other birthday cake is as good as a Hough Bakery cake. So he gets his cakes from Archie’s Lakeshore Bakery, which uses the old Hough Bakery recipe. “One night I was having a cookout, and people, when they walked in the door, said, ‘Is that a Hough birthday cake I smell?’ ”

12. No matter what appearances he has scheduled around town, he’s always home in time to pick up his daughter at middle school.

Why Dick Feagler is the Ultimate Clevelander

1. As a kid in the late ’40s and early ’50s, he caught souvenir baseballs tossed out an upstairs window by his neighbor, Early Wynn.

2. He still has his pennant from John Adams High School (class of 1956) tacked on his bedroom wall.

3. He remembers his mother watching Paige Palmer doing “fanny scoots” on WEWS-TV.

4. He thinks it was a crime against humanity to close Euclid Beach Park.

5. He can name, in order, the entire infield and outfield of the 1948 World Series champion Cleveland Indians, plus the relief pitchers. He also knows which Indian from that lineup went on to the Dodgers and made the last out in the ’56 World Series, giving Yankees pitcher Don Larsen the only World Series perfect game. (“It was the left fielder, Dale Mitchell, who always maintained the last pitch was a ball.”)

6. To get an exclusive for the Cleveland Press, he smuggled Ariane Sheppard into a West Side motel on the day she filed for divorce from Dr. Sam.

7. For his Press column, he created the character of Mrs. Figment, “who lived in the old neighborhood behind Republic Steel where the fallout from the steel mills turned the laundry orange on the clothesline.”

8. He played the piano at Dennis Kucinich’s house on recall-election night in 1978, while the boy mayor wrote two speeches — one for victory, one for defeat. (Kucinich survived the recall by 236 votes, but was defeated by George Voinovich a year later.)

9. He shared a bedroom with former Mayor Ralph Perk at the crowded 1980 Republican National Convention in Detroit.

10. He climbed all the steps in the Terminal Tower in a one-man crusade to keep the observation deck open to the public.

11. He appeared as Moses Cleaveland (without the pigeons) for the cover of this magazine.

12. He served as grand marshal of the gay pride parade in Cleveland in 2004. His opening line: “This is a queer high for a straight guy.”

Why Jane Scott is the Ultimate Clevelander

1. She wrote about Cleveland’s rock scene back when WMMS ruled the airwaves, the Agora was on East 24th Street and the Comfort Inn was Swingo’s, a den of rock ’n’ roll debauchery.

2. Before she rubbed shoulders with rock stars, she rubbed shoulders with Cleveland blue bloods. Her first full-time gig at The Plain Dealer was covering the society beat.

3. Dennis Kucinich used to take messages for her while he was a copy boy at The Plain Dealer in the early ’60s.

4. She’s pretty sure she was the only female reporter in the city to interview The Beatles before their Aug. 14, 1966, performance at Municipal Stadium. “Jerry G [of WKYC-AM] was monopolizing Paul, so I talked to John.”

5. She attended every taping of WEWS-TV 5’s “Upbeat” show from 1964 to 1971.

6. She was one of the first four women admitted to The City Club of Cleveland in 1972.

7. She collects vintage postcards of Cleveland landmarks. “Cleveland is my hobby. I collect anything about Cleveland.”

8. After The Beach Boys played Euclid Beach Park in 1966, she joined them for homemade apple pie at the home of the park’s owner. “Dennis Wilson said that was the best pie he’d ever had.”

9. She knows Michael Stanley’s full name.

10. Her 2002 retirement from The Plain Dealer made international headlines and landed her on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” complete with a taped tribute by Jon Bon Jovi.

11. The long-warring Raspberries reunited to play her retirement party at the Odeon.

12. She still can’t go to a concert in Cleveland without being mobbed.

 


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