Monday, October 12, 2009


This week was another of those “I’m doing what?” times. Always on the lookout for off-beat events, I managed to stumble over one or two.

Tuesday I was invited to go with friends to the annual Russian Festival out in Mogadore. Not one to pass up good food made by old woman at a church, I happily went along. The place was packed and the food was terrific! My stuffed cabbage roll was delicately flavored and tender but the BEST part of the whole thing are their potato pancakes. Tender on the inside and flavored with onions, these 5-inch patties are fried until they get a deep golden crust. At $2 each, they seem a bit pricey, but they are well worth the cost.

An invitation came to the office for a gallery opening for a local artist and I decided to attend myself. I can easily state that none of the men in my office would have cared about this opening so I didn’t feel badly about not passing along the invitation. Besides, they were all away to JAX at a golf outing and left me behind to mind the store.

The opening was for Jack Carlton, of whom I’d never heard. But the promise of free food and a little culture was enough to detour my trek home enough to see what it was about. Mr. Carlton works in sculpture, iron work, mosaics, and drawings using bits of this and that to create his art. He gave a tour of his works and was a cross between a bashful 12 year old and a prankster imp. What a charmer! He’s a fascinating and funny guy, the type you’d want to sit down and share a beer with. Self-deprecating but so much wanting to share his art, we followed him from wall to wall getting the history of his pieces – everything from the fact that he felt justified to sculpt horses because he taught riding for a couple of years (what?) to a project he put together with some inner city kids where they shot paint-drenched rubber bands at each other (which wasn’t entirely successful but the technique stuck with him and he pointed out the use of it in several pieces on the walls).

If you drive through Youngstown proper you will likely still see murals hanging inside buildings facing the street where he made an attempt to make the downtown area look better. Obviously he's an artist with a sense of community. I’ve found little reference to him on the web, but if you’d have an interest in this art, it is hanging at 450 Grant Avenue until next May. I borrowed this photo of Jack standing in front of his Youngstown project from the YSU newspaper archives.

I must be one of only a couple of hundred people in the Akron area that likes organ music - I could find no one else interested in attending a concert with me on Friday night. The local Trinity Lutheran Church hosts a series of organ concerts every year and I attended one early in 2009. Let me just say that frankly there is nothing quite like the sound of a big pipe organ filling a large hall. I used to attend silent films events at the Akron Civic Theater years ago when they were accompanied by a guest organist (and NO, that was not in the 1920’s…I’m not THAT old!). The Mighty Wurlitzer organ was (and still is) a sight to behold as it rises majestically out of the orchestra pit at the theater. Seeing the organist playing along and creating the moods and backgrounds for the silent films has always been a joy.

But I digress. There truly is nothing like the sound coming from those huge pipes surrounding the chapel walls and covering you completely with their resonance. The concert this week was performed by Olivier Latry, organist for the Cathedral of Notre Dame, Paris. As in the main guy that plays the organ in one of the worlds most notable cathedrals! Now tell me, how often do you get to hear someone like that play? In Akron? Never. And the setting was beautiful - the church was built in 1914 with high vaulted ceilings, German crafted woodwork, tall stained glass windows surrounding the nave and, of course, the organ pipes embedded into the walls.

Frankly I’m not that enthused by classical music and the concert agenda was filled with it with pieces dating from the 1500's all supposedly around a dance theme. I'm not exactly sure how people could dance to this, but the music was good anyway. The highlight of the concert was a rousing rendition of the Saber Dance. Mr. Latry had feet and hands flying making the hall sound as though it was filled with a full orchestra.

The worst part of the evening came at intermission. As the lights came up there was a call from behind me asking if there were a Doctor in the house. A man a few rows behind apparently had a heart attack. He looks as though he were about 90 and pretty frail. They got out a portable defibrillator but I didn't see them using it more than once. EMS finally came and took him away. It seems that he could easily have died at some point before intermission and only been discovered as the house lights came on. I suppose there could have been worse places to go than sitting in this lovely church surrounded by the sounds of organ music.

Nancy sent out an email last week about the newly revitalized section of Cleveland called Gordon Square. I liked the looks of the menu of the Luxe Kitchen there so Bev, Nancy and myself hauled ourselves up there Saturday night to browse the neighborhood and eat dinner to help celebrate Nancy’s birthday. The neighborhood is an older section of Cleveland that is just beginning their rejuvination efforts. It has potential and seems to be working to engage a theater crowd with the renovations of 2 or 3 theaters. It's a stretch of maybe 3/4 mile with the center point being Detroit Ave and E 65th St. It doesn't yet have the charm of the Tremont area, but perhaps in a couple of years it will get that same vibe.

Well, we didn't make it to Luxe, but we started the early evening wandering the three shops that are open on Detroit Avenue then walking down 65th to Stone Mad Irish Pub for pre-dinner drinks. The shops were cute and kitschy - hopefully more will open soon. We definitely liked the Pub. Since we got there before the crowds (don't we always!), we had a chance to roam the rooms to see all the renovations and what a cute place! There's a bocci ball alley in the back dining room, a cozy patio with a stone fire place and a great bar in the front with friendly wait staff. The owner was there and chatted with Bev about the building renovations. It was a labor of love since the original building was a mess and a half. We wished there was a place like this is our neighborhood, it was busy and friendly and would be well worth coming back up for dinner another night.

After drinks we walked back down to Luxe but without a reservation (at 7:30) they wouldn't seat us so we turned around and walked down to the newly opened La Boca. Already with a reputation for salsa dancing, the place was busy but we were happily seated in the bar for our dinner. We shared Duck Empandas and I had an entree of butternut squash ravioli that was delightful. Salsa classes began just as we were finishing our meal. The music was lively and the dancers were stretched across all 3 rooms learning their steps as we left to go home. Check out their website at

Overall it was a pretty good weekend. Sunday I managed to get the last (I hope) lawn mowing of the season out of the way. After a failed attempt to put up a kitchen storm window, I gave up and spent the evening curled up in my cozy chair with the cat on my lap snoozing away. I forgot how nice it can be to have a cat around the house, Peppermint is a sweet cat and it's been a pleasure having her visit with me for awhile.

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