Thursday, February 18, 2010

Misery loves company and Cleveland

My goodness. Is there no end to the bashing my beloved Cleveland is taking today? Following the Mardi Gras madness and the good feeling generated by the world championship of the New Orleans Saints, there is little doubt that good spirits will abound here for some time to come. But, according to Forbes Magazine, the tiny area bounded by Cleveland, Akron and Canton is the most miserable in the United States with Cleveland listed as number one, Canton at number nine and Akron at 12. When you add Toledo into the equation at number 15 and Youngstown at number 18, Ohio is clearly the runaway as most miserable state with 25% of the top 20. With a notable exception for the league-leading NBA Cavaliers, Forbes determined the combination of lousy weather, high taxes, public corruption and high unemployment present in Cleveland was their clear choice for most miserable city, beating out last year's number one, Stockton, California. Having lived there for close to two years, I agree that the weather is not the nicest. In fact I never knew what it was to see so much snow in all of my days, but I dealt with it as best I could. A good pair of boots is de rigeur in order to walk about during winter and driving in snow and ice was a constant challenge. Nonetheless, I lived through it and my car is still in working order today, almost three years since I returned to New Orleans. There is a lot to love in Cleveland, especially the arts and cultural scene there. The Cleveland Museum of Art was going through a major expansion phase during my time there, but the parts that were opened to the public were quite impressive. The theatre district is home to the largest grouping of theaters in the country outside of Broadway, which most people will find hard to believe. The downtown district is home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and several noteworthy museums. Then there are special places like the City Club, which serves as a speakers bureau nearly every Friday throughout the year and has done so for almost a century. For all of the harsh conditions they must endure, the people of Cleveland have proved to be indomitable. Indeed, many of the young residents have chosen to settle elsewhere after college, yet there are those diehard Clevelanders who will never leave and cannot envision living anywhere else. My sister has lived in Cleveland for more time than she spent growing up here in New Orleans or attending school at nearby L.S.U. She seems to have adjusted and, were it not for a lack of Mardi Gras and other amenities there, I might have stayed in Cleveland longer. But there's the rub. Perhaps, if Cleveland got more into the Carnival spirit, the people there might not be so miserable. I've started in my own way by sending beads to my friends living there. Perhaps some doubloons, cups and specialty throws are needed to pull them out of their doldrums or maybe some good New Orleans cuisine. Recently, Louisiana was given top honors as being the happiest state and I can assure you that New Orleans is the happiest place in our state, despite the sluggishness of the recovery in some areas of town. Yes, we have our share of corrupt politicians, but we're having so much fun, we don't seem to mind as much. The other factor here is the amount of sunlight we experience here and the lack of it in Cleveland. There's little I can do about that other than offer my Cleveland friends an opportunity to visit the Crescent City during the darkest and snowiest of winter days.

No comments: