Gallery includes fiction, essay, poetry, original and vintage photography. Here’s a look inside.
About the cover image
Cover photo by author taken August, 2007. Window washer, Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland, Ohio.
Designed by I. M. Pei, and structurally engineered by Leslie E. Robertson Associates, the building rises above the shores of Lake Erie. It is a combination of bold geometric forms and dynamic cantilevered spaces that are anchored by a 162-foot tower. The tower supports a dual-triangular-shaped glass “tent” that extends (at its base) onto a 65,000-square-foot plaza that provides a main entry façade. “In designing this building,” Pei said, “it was my intention to echo the energy of rock and roll. I have consciously used an architectural vocabulary that is bold and new, and I hope the building will become a dramatic landmark for the city of Cleveland and for fans of rock and roll around the world.” (from Wikipedia article )
To borrow from Pei, it is my intention to echo the energy of life and living in its myriad manifestations and I have consciously used a bold literary architecture in the attempt.
Cleveland represents a kind of symbolic cornerstone for Gallery, so we’ll start there.
A compendium on the Evolution of Cleveland
LAKE ERIE, one of the five Great Lakes, is the tenth largest lake on Earth.
The name “Ohio” derives from the Seneca word ohi:yo’, meaning “beautiful river” or “large creek”, which was originally the name of both the Ohio River and Allegheny River.
The state nickname “The Buckeye State” derives from the Buckeye tree, the state tree of Ohio and an original term of endearment for the pioneers on the Ohio frontier, with specific association with William Henry Harrison, ninth president of the United States. The buckeye confection, made to resemble the tree’s nut, is made by dipping a dollop of peanut butter fudge in milk chocolate, leaving a circle of the fudge exposed. These are a popular treat in Ohio.
The state insect is the ladybug.
Cleveland was named for General Moses Cleaveland, agent and chief surveyor for the Connecticut Land Co., who founded the city in 1796.
While there are numerous accounts of how the appellation became changed, there is one story that occurs most frequently. It claims that an early newspaper, the Cleaveland Advertiser, was not quite large enough to accommodate the name in an identifying banner headline on Page One. Thus, the editor dropped the first “a” and the readers subsequently accepted the new spelling.
1803, Ohio admitted to the Union.
The iron industry obtained a foothold in eastern Ohio as far back as 1803 when Jefferson County began producing nails by hand. About 1811 the Ohio River bank at Steubenville was chosen as the site for a foundry. It was in this locality that cannonballs used in the War of 1812’s famous Battle of Lake Erie were manufactured. They were made by a Scotsman named Grant, who was an early furnace operator. He had the ammunition transported to Lake Erie on pack mules.
The FLATS are located along the CUYAHOGA RIVER within the City of Cleveland where the river pursues a sinuous course through a valley about one-half mi. wide. This bottom land, the floodplain of the river separating the high plateaus on which the city stands, is known as the “Flats.” Although Cleveland’s earliest settlers chose the lowlands near the mouth of the river as the site for their cabins, its swampy character caused so much illness that most soon migrated to higher ground. The unhealthful Flats ultimately were abandoned to commerce and industry. The opening of the OHIO AND ERIE CANAL in 1827 spurred a tremendous increase in lake shipping. The Flats offered abundant room for docks and warehouses. Beginning in the 1850s, the RAILROADS found the broad expanse of the Flats advantageous in the storage and handling of freight. In the second half of the 19th century, the Flats were crowded with iron furnaces, rolling mills, foundries, lumberyards, shipyards, flour mills, oil refineries, paint and chemical factories, and other industries.
THE PLAIN DEALER, Ohio’s largest daily, was established as a weekly by Joseph Gray in 1842. In his antebellum columns and letters in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Charles Farrar Browne, writing under the pen name of Artemus Ward, gained a reputation as a humorist and a debunker whose pun-ridden, misspelled and ungrammatical accounts made readers laugh, including a war-worry-burdened Abe Lincoln (Ward is said to be Lincoln’s favorite writer). He also became a deadpan-comedian lecturer of renown.
Charles Farrar Brown alias Artemus Ward:
“I can’t sing. As a singist I am not a success. I am saddest when I sing. So are those who hear me. They are sadder even than I am.” (1865)
Ohio’s central position and its population gave it an important place during the CIVIL WAR, and the Ohio River was a vital artery for troop and supply movements, as were Ohio’s railroads. At the end of the Civil War, three top Union generals were all from Ohio: Grant, Sherman, and Sheridan. Ohio also contributed more soldiers per-capita than any other state in the Union.
THE UNDERGROUND RAILWAY: The Ohio & Erie Canal was a likely route followed by runaway slaves. Not surprising for something that was meant to be secret, historians have not yet uncovered documents that conclusively demonstrate this role. Yet, documents have been found that indicate Ohio canals were used by runaway slaves traveling north. The Ohio & Erie Canal clearly presented advantages to escaping slaves. This 308-mile canal was a well-marked route that connected the Ohio River to Lake Erie. Traveling under cover of night along the Towpath Trail – the path mules walked as they pulled the canal boats — runaways could journey north to Cleveland. Other runaways might have reached Cleveland hidden aboard canal boats. From Cleveland, escaping slaves would take the final step to freedom by crossing Lake Erie into Canada.
1868 – SEPTEMBER 6, First “blow” of Bessemer steel made at the Cleveland Rolling Mills.
1879, Brush arc lights installed on Public Square 29 April, making Cleveland the first city in the world to be illuminated by electricity.
1884, First electric streetcar run in the city, 26 July.
1901, The Cleveland Blues (predecessor to the Cleveland Indians) are established as one of the first teams in the new American League.
1912, West Side Market opens.
1984, Cleveland named an All-America City for third time.
Cuyahoga Works of United States Steel closes.
1986, Cleveland named an All-America City for fourth time.
Cleveland selected as site for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
1995, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum opens.
2010, LeBron James leaves Cleveland Cavaliers to join Miami Heat.
OK, so Cleveland lost LeBron but regardless the city has a lot to recommend it, despite any comment to the contrary – if for no other reason than “Rock Hall” Cleveland is worth it! Not to mention Sokolowski’s restaurant, since 1923 a veritable shrine to the city’s steel worker past, and let’s not forget, the first NFL “Monday Night Football” game was played at Cleveland Stadium – the Cleveland Browns won over the New York Jets 31-21 (1970).
About “The Yankee Diner” and its image
What defines a diner?
I am a devotee of the all-American diner. It is a bulwark in the fabric of the country. I have taken countless photos of diners as I have occasioned upon them in my travels, including the one used in the book. Here is the back story of the piece in the book titled “The Yankee Diner” by way of explication, and to give a basis for judgment should you encounter a place you think might be accorded this honorific.
What defines a diner? “Official” definitions indicate that a diner is a prefabricated restaurant building (requiring no expensive real estate investment on the part of the restaurateur) – early on these were properly called “lunch wagons” – offering a wide array of mostly American cuisine, served in a casual atmosphere, providing counter service, and late operating hours. Many apply the term to eating establishments featuring traditional diner food and characteristics regardless of where housed. One of the well known diner manufacturers was the Worcester Lunch Car Company of Worcester, Massachusetts (1906-1957). While traveling through in August of 2005 in Quechee Vermont, near the Quechee Gorge – known as “The Little Grand Canyon of New England” I took the photo of this authentic restored classic diner, a Worcester #787 Streamliner, originally built in 1946. Each classic diner has a provenance all its own, as much as any work of art would, and this noble example is no exception. Originally known as the Ross Diner, owned and operated by the Ross brothers, its early life was spent on the south side of Cabot Street in South Holyoke, Massachusetts on a lot surrounded by four-story brick tenements. lt is reported that it was very popular in the early morning, serving breakfast to day shift workers before 7:00 AM and graveyard shift workers after 7:00 AM. The Ross Diner closed in 1990 and was moved to West Lebanon, New Hampshire in 1991. Plans to open there fell through and another buyer moved it to Quechee in 1992. ln 1997, it was renamed the Yankee Diner and attached to the Farina Family Restaurant. Subsequent to my visit and this photo being taken, The Yankee Diner closed in 2006 but reopened soon afterwards as the Farmers Diner. Latest reports indicate that as of April 7 ,2012 the Farmers Diner was closed, but this representative of its “genre” was once more given new life by chef/owner Randy Jacobs – who also owns another local establishment – as the Quechee Diner in June of 2012. ln its September 4,2012 review of the diner’s latest incarnation the Rutland Herald quoted the new proprietor thusly: “‘l believe in all-American comfort food,’ Jacobs said.”
The epigram from the book front matter
The Brooklyn Bridge. I took this photo in June, 2003. The bridge is a true American icon and there are ample reasons why this is so. The story of the bridge, its construction, and its historical significance are all well worth knowing about as ties to the heart and soul of a culture.
About the “galleries” within Gallery
Each section of the book is designated as a separate “gallery” — the first, East Gallery-Elsewhere; the second, West Gallery-Anywhere; the third, North Gallery-Nowhere; the fourth, South Gallery-Somewhere. Many cultures and many ages have ascribed meaning to the four cardinal directions. I particularly am drawn to those interpretations of the Lakota (Sioux) culture where, in simplest terms East signifies beginnings (yellow), West, endings (black), North, trials and tribulations (white), and South, growing and connection (red).
Terezin: Trilogy Of Names
If you have the book and have read my essay “The Poetry of Bearing Witness” you know of the mission undertaken to write Holocaust poetry. The reading presented here of all three pieces comprising the trilogy “The Walk To Terezin,” “The Train To Terezin,” and “The Suitcase To Terezin” was originally submitted for The Missouri Review Miller Audio Prize. If you have the book, please follow along.