Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Bill Blasko Goes Car Shopping

Still standing in downtown and midtown Cleveland are quite a few car dealerships from the 1920s and 1930s. Unlike dealerships today, these multi-story edifices were beautifully designed and built to last. Like the barn-shaped hulks that housed the now-defunct Red Barn fast-food joints of the 1960s, they've proved especially adaptable to creative re-use.

This Pierce-Arrow dealership on Carnegie Avenue just west of East 55th Street now houses a neighborhood center with a Head Start program.

The Packard dealership on East 55th Street seems empty at the moment, but the painted sign has been relatively resistant to Cleveland's harsh weather. In the background is the old WHK auditorium, formerly the Depression-era Metropolitan movie theater, site in the 1950s and '60s of many top rock and roll acts; in the late '70s, nicknamed the Disastodrome and host to most of the punk and new wave bands then touring.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Beautiful Signage

On Cedar Road near East 55th Street. An old inner-city music club, now closed. How long will this vernacular art remain in place? Probably for a while. The worst neighborhoods don't come in for much in the way of development and renewal. The ghosts of Cleveland's past are free to linger in their old haunts.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Hna Hnim Nepo

No business is recession-proof, but Minh Anh continues to be a perfect value in our troubled time, even as available cash dwindles alarmingly. Maddeningly aromatic bowls of Vietnamese soup big enough to drown in holding at $5.95. Affordable yum.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Ghost Croquet

Another inadvertant curbside sculpture, captured on trash night.
Pocket-sized Fuji APS with focus-free 28mm lens.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

China Gate Elegy

The first of April saw the closing of China Gate, one of the oldest traditional Chinese restaurants on the east side. Although the menu had evolved modestly over the years, the decor was gloriously unchanged since the restaurant opened in 1958.

China Gate was one of the few businesses remaining from the original Cedar Center shopping strip, lining both sides of the east-west thoroughfare of Cedar Road, which forms the border between University Hts. and South Euclid. The University Hts. side of the shopping center underwent renovation over the last few years, but the South Euclid side deteriorated as small businesses went under or relocated. After years of contention, the city of South Euclid finally reached an agreement with a developer to raze the old strip and build a mixed-use center, including that most quixotic of concepts, "luxury condos."

Many of the old businesses in the South Euclid strip were understandably upset about their displacement. None will be missed more, however, than China Gate, whose demise recalls the closing, decades ago, of the original Corky and Lenny's deli, also at Cedar Center. Corky's now concentrates its efforts on its Village Square shopping center location in Orange Village, near Pepper Pike, a one-mommy-per-SUV suburb.

Above taken while enjoying oriental corn and chicken soup for two.

Much has been made of the disappearance of the flamboyant tiki lounges and restaurants, but the post-war Chinese restaurant is vanishing fast too, and its loss is equally sad.

Sad update:

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Bill Blasko's Lorain Rd. Archive Project

I was photographing the front of the Bodnar Funeral Home on Lorain Rd. and crossed over to the north side of the street to get a wider view when I heard multiple sirens close by and the sound of gunning engines. A rusty sedan heading north at high speed, 50 or better, on West 40th St., followed by three screaming black-and-whites. Just north of the intersection, the sedan began to fishtail, striking a number of cars parked curbside hard enough that the glass on each shattered to a white opaqueness before collapsing inward. A full-frontal smack into another parked car brought the sedan to a stop. Before the driver could get out, the black-and-whites had hemmed it in, and the police were out of their cars, shielded by the doors, guns drawn.

Decided it was not in my interest to approach and take a few snaps. I trotted back across Lorain to the funeral home, turned around and caught the sun striking the vacant buildings across the street.

1959 German Kodak Retinette 1a, 45mm Schneider lens.