Cleveland Scene - May 22, 2024

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REWIND: 1986

| | May 22 - Jun 4, 2024 4 COVER DESIGN BY ANA PAULA GUTIERREZ Dedicated to Free Times founder Richard H. Siegel (1935-1993) and Scene founder Richard Kabat Publisher Denise Polverine Editor Vince Grzegorek Editorial Music Editor Jeff Niesel Staff Writer Mark Oprea Dining Editor Douglas Trattner Stage Editor Christine Howey Advertising Sales Inquiries (216) 505-8199, Senior Multimedia Account Executive Shayne Rose Creative Services Creative Services Manager Samantha Serna Creative Team Ana Paula Gutierrez Staff Photographer Emanuel Wallace Business Business & Sales Support Specialist Megan Stimac Traffic Manager Kristen Brickner Circulation Circulation Director Burt Sender ...The story continues at Take SCENE with you with the Issuu app! “Cleveland Scene Magazine” Upfront ....................................... 7 Feature 9 Get Out 12 Eat 15 Music ........................................ 19 Livewire 20 Savage Love 22 Cleveland Scene is published every other week by Omit the Magazine. Cleveland Scene is a Verified Audit Member Great Lakes Publishing President Lute Harmon Jr. Finance Director Perry Zohos Operations Manager Corey Galloway Cleveland Distribution Scene is available free of charge, limited to one copy per reader Subscriptions - $170 (1 yr); $85 (6 mos.) Email Megan - - to subscribe. Cleveland Scene 1422 Euclid Ave. STE 730 Cleveland, OH 44115 CONTENTS Copyright The entire contents of Cleveland Scene Magazine are copyright 2024 by Great Lakes Publishing. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission of the publisher is prohibited. Publisher does not assume any liability for unsolicited manuscripts, materials, or other content. Any submission must include a stamped, self-addressed envelope. All editorial, advertising, and business correspondence should be mailed to the address listed above. Subscriptions $170 (1 yr); $85 (6 mos.) Send name, address and zip code with check or money order to the address listed above with the title ‘Attn: Subscription Department’ MAY 22 - JUN 4, 2024 • VOL. 54 No 23
The (in)famous Balloonfest of 1986 has been recently and unfairly reviled, but back in 1986 it was a no brainer to celebrate its arrival. 1970-2024



May 22 - Jun 4, 2024 | | 5
40th Annual New Location!
Sunday, June 9 10am - 4pm Saturday, June 8 10am - 7pm
Cleveland Metroparks Polo Field
Chagrin Falls, OH Fine Art and Contemporary Craft Festival Presented by Valley Art Center
P A I N T I N G S | P O T T E R Y | S C U L P T U R E | G L A S S | J E W E L R Y
Endless Possibilities.
440-247-7507 |



FOR ALMOST 80 YEARS, THE Cleveland Muny Football League, the city’s premier youth sports organization for kids aged 5 to 15, has trained tens of thousands of boys in the ways of the gridiron— some, like Troy Smith and Desmond Howard, for future glory in the NFL.

This year, Muny plays a welcome audible.

The league, trailing a brewing national athletics trend, is set to form its first ever girls-only flag football division. Two of Muny’s east side teams, the Garfield Bulldogs and the Richmond Heights Conquerors, will this fall season debut two teams comprised solely of girls. And not just, like in years past, coed teams.

“To be perfectly honest, it’s demand for flag [football] in general,” Steven Green, lead coordinator for the Conquerors, told Scene. “Because a lot of parents started being afraid of tackle, flag was always seen as an alternative.”

“And because it’s high-paced, it’s attractive to the girls,” he added. “I mean, they play baseball. They do track. Why not flag as well?”

Begun first as a city-subsidized youth sports program in 1946, the Muny League has grown in recent years, totaling a record 3,000-plus players signed-up in its 2022. season. Among coaches, coordinators and alums alike, Muny is shorthand for both its reputation as a serious football bootcamp and its coming-of-age community with a knack for keeping kids out of trouble.

And that bootcamp’s just been expanded, and just in time: The 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles will be hosting flag teams for the first time in the games’ history.

One of its central lobbyists, Pierre Trochet, the president of the International Federation of American Football, chalked up flag’s spot in L.A. to its egalitarian nature—meaning the lack of hard hits. It’s “America’s number one sport, in its youngest, most accessible and inclusive format,” Trochet told, citing its “extraordinary growth”

amongst women and girls.

Yet, in Northeast Ohio, the sport’s climb into formal territory among kids isn’t taken as severely. Since 2021, when the Mentorbased Northeast Ohio Flag Football division was created, fans and teachers alike have advocated for the sport’s designation as a “sanctioned varsity sport” within the Ohio High School Athletic Association, the leading state body of its kind. Eleven other states already sanction the sport.

Numerous sports organizations have pushed for OHSAA’s recognition since, from the Mentor High School to the Cleveland Browns.

“In order to become an emerging sport,” a Browns’ pamphlet on the subject reads, “the sport itself must function and run solely on its own, without additional financial support, before it can be considered.”

At the Muny League, which is heavily subsidized by grants from the city of Cleveland and $30,000 annually from the Browns — a number councilman Mike Polensek called embarrassingly low — there are intentions of bringing both girls and boys flag football further into the mainstream.

And of course a kind of jumping off point for Jason Dunn, Muny’s director of sports. He sees the region’s explosion in high school girls club teams—from 27 in the 2023 season to 51 teams this season—as a marker of things to come.

“But to sustain that [growth] long term, you have to have a feeder,” Dunn said. “And we’re going to be that feeder. We want to do our part in Northeast Ohio.”

Both Dunn and Green said that the girls’ flag teams will start shortly after the summer tackle season ends in September. – Mark Oprea

Cleveland’s Parks and Rec Master Plan Leans Into 15-Minute City Concept

A big heap of city projects in the past two years have turned increasingly to a type of planning reliant on what could be called data questions: What do we have? Where do we have it? And where could better things be?

What’s at the data-driven heart of the 15-minute city concept — loosely defined as building a city where most of residents’ needs can be met within a short walk, bicycle or transit ride from their house — was seen at City Hall’s debut to the public of its behemoth Parks and Rec Master Plan, displayed in a sweltering hot room at the Michael Zone Rec Center in Ohio City last week.

In a wall-to-wall display of the plan, culled together by the Mayor’s Office of Capital Projects and the Philadelphia-based OLIN Studio, residents got to see a relatively brainy idea ready for deployment—that Cleveland, over the next 15 years, should spend money to fix and/or install parks, or pickleball courts and splashpads, with a highly-specific walking radius in mind.

“It’s not just about putting a Public Square everywhere in Cleveland,” Andrew Dobshinsky, an associate for OLIN Studio, told Scene at the presentation. “It’s about what amenities do we need? And where do we need them?”

Since January, when MOCAP released its needs assessment, a culmination of 1,500 survey takers and their parks critiques, City Hall’s been working with OLIN and

a slew of other consultants, from ThirdSpace to OHM Advisors, to convert Clevelanders’ feedback into a doable (and fundable) framework. Hence the rule of the walking radius: OLIN’s team found that, in an ideal context, Clevelanders should live within a ten-minute walk of playgrounds and basketball hoops; and a twentyminute walk of swimming pools, baseball diamonds, rec centers, community gardens and a dog park. And yes, a pickleball court. Every single one of Cleveland’s 159 parks would be recategorized into one of six “proposed classifications”—as a regional park, a special facility, a civic space, etc.—which would, in turn, determine what exact amenity or improvement that park would need. That is to say, more bike racks, or paved loop trails, or permanent restrooms, or clear connections to a nearby RTA stop. More importantly, according to both to survey takers and to those present on Tuesday, parks would first of all need to be brought up to par.

“So right here it is: ‘Facilities are not well maintained,’” Jay Rauschenbach, the city’s Parks & Recreation planning manager, said reading a placard citing January’s survey. (About half of Clevelanders think that the city’s parks are in rough shape.)

“That’s why people aren’t going there,” he added. “People just want nice things. They don’t want to go to a basketball court that has no


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Photo Mark Oprea

nets. Or go to a playground with a swing’s not working. They just want the most basic things—and be able to use them.”

To Rauschenbach’s point, the world of park maintenance could evolve nicely if the Parks and Rec plan is impliemented in the near future. For decades, MOCAP has had a staff of a few dozen to maintain both parks and vacant lots across Cleveland, a fact that Rauschenbach said has led to a deep backlog of deferred park repairs.

It’s also a balancing act with funding: Cleveland gets roughly $15 million a year, cash majorly from general obligation bonds (bonds issued by the city), to infuse into new parks, like Clark Field in Tremont, or to brush up those begging for new paint jobs or 21st century seating.

Funding that goes, Rauschenbach said, quite fast.

“I mean, it’s usually like a million dollars to do one single park,” he said. “That’s fully taking everything out, putting something new right back in.

Rauschenbach looked out a south-facing window of the rec center. “If you want to replace that playground with, like, a brand new playground, that in itself is $300,000 to $600,000 just for one playground. Then, there’s the parking lot, the trails, the trees, the tennis court. It’s a lot.”

All of which begs the question heard ad infinitum after any Cleveland study: How are 15 years of massive overhauls to hundreds of city parks going to be paid for?

Dobshinsky said that OLIN and MOCAP will explore a wider range of funding models in the third phase of the parks plan. But ideas seem to be endless— Cleveland could tap into a plethora of sponsors, of donations from

nonprofits, even source dollars garnered from the Shore-to-Coreto-Shore tax increment financing program that City Council passed last month.

As long as, Councilwoman Jenny Spencer said, park refurbishing isn’t solely reliant on Council dollars.

“That’s a very slow process, right?” Spencer said at the meeting. Because of the city’s bonding capacity, it takes a long time to cycle through all the different facilities and green spaces. Our budget will continue to be an essential tool—but is there something more?”

Especially, she said, calling on her Ward 15 residents’ thoughts on their own neighborhood parks. “Things as simple as the condition of a locker room can change your experience of coming and using your own rec center,” she said.

Or outside where baseball diamonds sat in need of work, or rusted soccer posts in need of nets.

Or, say, a small room in the Michael Zone Rec Center, which was so balmy that several attendees had to fan their faces with brochures.

“Yep, this place needs a new A/C system,” Dobshinsky said, smiling. “That’s what we’re talking about.”

– Mark Oprea

Cleveland Soccer Group Seeking $90M in Public Subsidies for $150M Stadium for NWSL Expansion Team Bid

The group seeking to bring a professional women’s soccer team to Cleveland last week released renderings of what a $150-million soccer-specific stadium south of I-90 in downtown seating 12,500 fans might look like and announced that it is seeking $90 million in taxpayer support —

from the city, county and state — to build it.

As the same three groups continue negotiations with the Cleveland Browns on a possible $1 billion renovation of the lakefront stadium or a new $2.4 billion build in Brook Park, it is perhaps not an ideal time to be seeking public subsidies for professional sports, but the Cleveland Soccer Group has remained adamant in its vision for bringing an NWSL team to Cleveland, and Ohio, and what it could mean for the region’s fans.

“We think this is the best women’s sports league in the world, and if we have to build a stadium, that’s a good news story,” Michael Murphy, CEO of the Cleveland Soccer Group, told Scene, citing the momentum in women’s sports nationwide. “This would be the 16th team in arguably the hottest professional women’s league in the world.”

They are, however, working on a tight timeline and in a tough economic atmosphere.

Bids for the National Women’s Soccer League’s 2026 expansion round are due in about a month, and the league is unlikely to award one of its next teams to a city that doesn’t have firm plans for a home stadium. Without a concrete financial commitment in place, Cleveland would likely face stiff headwinds against other competitors.

For their part, Murphy said Cleveland Soccer Group and its investors would spend $193 million of their own cash on not only the stadium but for the team, facilities, and for the MLS Next PRO men’s soccer team that Cleveland was already awarded. That squad was scheduled to kick off in 2025, but with the group’s focus on the NWSL bid and the proposed stadium, it is unlikely that will happen, Murphy told Scene.

The publicly-owned South Gateway Stadium, as it’s currently being called, would host not just NWSL and MLS Next Pro games but also high school and college sports, concerts and events, the ownership group said.

A press release on Thursday included projected economic impact stats not worth citing here, as the study was commissioned by the group and economists have universally declared pro sports facilities poor public investments.

As negotiations with the Browns continue, Mayor Justin Bibb has declined to publicly announce what the city of Cleveland has so far offered except

to say that he wants the team to remain in the city of Cleveland and that the city’s position is competitive. The Haslams, meanwhile, have said that they want taxpayers to split any stadium project 50/50, with money coming from the city (Cleveland/ Brook Park), the county and the state. (Ohio House Speaker Jason Stephens, in a recent discussion of the state’s possible role in contributing $600 million to the project, flatly said the state doesn’t have $600 million to spend on such a project.)

Cuyahoga County Executive Chris Ronayne has been circumspect on what the county will be able to offer the Browns, and he was similarly vague on the topic of a soccer stadium earlier this year when he told Scene it was too early to talk numbers, though he expressed support for the idea of bringing an NWSL team to Cleveland. Similar, general enthusiasm exists at City Hall, but the question has always been how much it would be asked to contribute and what avenues it would have to do so.

Murphy told Scene conversations remain ongoing and productive with Cleveland and Cuyahoga County, but emphasized that firm commitments are needed soon for the bid and to show the state of Ohio, as budgets are finalized, that support exists locally for the project. The group has proposed a mix of admission taxes and bonds to pay for the public’s portion of the project.

“The bottom line is this is a critical piece of the bid,” Murphy said. “Along with ownership, the reason the league would choose Cleveland over others in this round is us putting forward what the league needs to continue its growth. The beset leagues in the world, teams play in venues they control. We have to do everything we can, whether it’s the city or county offering specific sources of funding. That would be very helpful and concrete.”

As far as the ask coming at the same time as the Browns’, Murphy said the comparatively low total should make it an attractive prospect.

“It’s much, much smaller than anything else we’re looking at civically for sports.” – Vince Grzegorek

May 22 - Jun 4, 2024 | | 7 Courtesy OSports t@clevelandscene
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Cleveland poets and couple Kortney Morrow and Quartez Harris are on the rise


that, from afar, drip with more romance than those between two writers.

Some, like that between F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, are remembered as much for envy and bickering as the symbiotic creative force of their relationship. Some, like the marriage of Jonathan Safran Foer and Nicole Krauss, end with jealousy and affairs. Others, of course, flourish. When asked by a journalist whether her husband, the great Italian novelist Alberto Moravia, afflicted her own work, Elsa Morante disagreed. “No,” she told the reporter. “He has an identity. I have an identity. Basta.”

In Cleveland, we have Quartez Harris and Kortney Morrow. Both published, award-winning poets who grew up in Ohio, the couple share a unique affinity for both the poetry of self and the poetry of the other. It’s a relationship on the precipice of evolution: After two years of dating, Harris and Morrow are to be married in Tremont this July, in a small ceremony surrounded by family, friends and fellow writers.

A wedding buttressed by two career leaps: Morrow, after eight years of publishing in literary presses, will come out this year with a picture book on different cultures’ interpretations of rainbows. And big news for Harris: With a $375,000 contract, Little Brown will soon publish three books—including a kid-friendly biography of James Baldwin.

Such a six-figure deal has quickly lifted Harris up to the big league stratosphere. He has two books under his belt already since 2014—one an homage to his second-graders at Stonebrook-White Montessori in Glenville— yet Harris has very little national recognition. Four years ago, he’d dreamt up a picture book on Baldwin, an idol of his, and sent a draft to a literary agent in New York, Tanya McMillon, based off a friend’s referral.

To Harris’ surprise, McMillon called back with praise. He recalls

the conversation easily. “I think that was the first time I ever cried in front of my son,” Harris recounted last August, from a writing studio he shares with Morrow in Lakewood. In a cream button-down, tied dreads and round Windsor glasses, Harris exudes equal measures of erudition and total chill. “I was just like—Yo! The fact that big publishers are expressing interest. From then on, it was a whirlwind, man.”

That whirlwind led to a silent ripple in Cleveland’s literary scene. Harris’ We Made it to School Alive, that collection poeticizing the gunfearing anxiety that haunts Black kids in low-income schools, led to Harris being crowned Ohio Poetry Association’s Poet of the Year in 2021, the year after it published. Local media viewed it as a Covidera document of a distraught school system. Writer Hanif Abdurraqib called School Alive “a brilliant force for the uplift of young Black folks, and the people who love them.”

But still, Harris felt blessings to count when Little Brown gave him the green light. To put it into context, the average advance for a young adult book is about $35,000. ($57,000 for your typical author.) Fewer than one percent of writers receive advances over $250,000, according to Publishers Marketplace. Only 233 of such deals were signed out in 2022 alone.

“It’s absolutely stunning,” Matt Weinkam, the director of Literary Cleveland, told Scene. “For a firsttime author to get a multi-book deal of this size is almost unheard of these days. And for his only previous publications to be poetry is even more unusual.” Weinkam laughed. “It’s become something of a minor sensation in our corner of the world.”

Born in Springfield, Ohio, in 1990, Harris grew up far outside any literary context. His dad, James, worked on cars at a nearby Honda plant, and his mom, Tanishawe, was a janitor for a military base. If anything, books were anathema to

Harris. For most of his schooling, he struggled with a learning disability that made decoding or vocalizing words an endless obstacle. He was teased often. Up until high school, he was assigned to an IEP classroom with three or four other like students. Or, as Harris qualifies it: “A chaotic journey.”

A journey he’d elucidate in “Imperfect Brain,” one of Harris’ first poems that contextualized the link between his disability and writing. “I think I had a sensitivity to language,” Harris said, “because I was always told that I couldn’t use it. I was told that I wouldn’t be able to harness its utility.”

In 2016, Harris got a job through Teach for America to teach English to second graders at Glenville. He had worked as a social worker in Franklin County for two years after graduating from Ohio State, and grew uneasy with the “turmoil” of the disenfranchised. But something sparked at Glenville. He began jotting down notes—things students said, their fears, their


joys. It became, in 2020, a concept book that merged biography and documentary.

And one verging on the cynical. Bullets are compared to beetles. Bullets crash Xboxes. Cops dig up dirt for children’s graves. “Send Them Their Condolences While They’re Alive,” another one goes entitled. “Is it wrong / that my grandma / still has the clothes,” one poem goes, “my uncle / was shot in?” Regardless, it wowed the right people. Tanya McKinnon, who read School Alive in 2022, found that it introduced Harris as a writer who both knows what it’s like to have a child’s heart and have a heart for children. “He has a special voice,” she told Scene. “He knows what it’s like to be a kid who faces a challenge and overcomes it. Frankly, he’s a wonderful role model.”

It’s what, McKinnon believes, sold Little Brown on Go Tell It, Harris’ own exploration of James Baldwin’s struggles stemming back to his childhood in Harlem. Then, as a Parisian expat sick of

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Quartez Harris and Kortney Morrow outside their studio last summer. Photo Mark Oprea

American racism. Then, as a leading intellectual of the Civil Rights Movement.

“He’s just this sort of person who defied every odd stacked against him,” Harris said. “He wasn’t, like, a college candidate. But yet Baldwin became a literary individual who is certainly marveled at.” Harris’ mind shifted back to his former students, and, presumably, his own childhood. “He came from that same environment.”

Kortney Morrow seems to have a certain love affair with itinerancy. In “1999: Mariah Carey, Rainbow,” a prose essay depicting Morrow’s reckoning with the pop star’s racial ambiguity and overt sexuality, she writes:

“As a kid, I used to imagine myself split into two halves, never whole, grappling with what it meant to be half-Black and half-white. When a boundary was crossed with my body at a young age, I imagined all the sensual energy in me splintered off into a foreign object, floating through the ether, traveling away from me indefinitely. After trying to hard to reclaim what I thought I’d lost, I feared the distance too great.”

Growing up near Shaker Square, as, Morrow writes in the same piece, “a super shy kid with anxiety brewing under my chewed up fingernails,” Morrow moved to Chicago to study media and communications, intrigued with language’s ability to lift the self. She took that mentality to New Orleans, in November 2016, where she helped set up the city’s first branch of Dave Egger’s 826 National, a tutoring center. Two years later, itching to be aunt to her brother’s new child, she relocated to Toronto.

In 2019, brimming with a loose collection of poetry, Morrow applied to graduate school. She heard back from New York University and Ohio State, so, feeling the family route, Morrow chose her home state. In 2020, with the pandemic beginning, she returned to Cleveland to finish her masters, and try and finish her collection. “It was a really challenging time for me, both as a person and as a writer,” she said, from her writing desk. “It was the right time to come home.”

Morrow echoes this in “Colorway Crown,” an eight-page crown sonnet about LeBron James’ own path to homecoming. In it, she empathizes with James as person and myth, seeing his free agent status as a gift and crutch. She spent “most of”

2022 perfecting it. “Some people say when you leave, / don’t look back,” Morrow writes. “Others say, take the whole team / with you. I chose the former, ghosting / my past, its people.”

In the winter of 2022, around the same time “Colorway” was written, Morrow received a message from Harris. She was just familiarizing herself with Cleveland’s literary scene and had used Literary Cleveland as a starting hub. She found School Alive. She looked up its writer. She followed Harris on Instagram.

“Well, she was following me, and I followed her back, of course,” Harris said. He had looked up “Mariah Carey” and was enthralled. “I was like, ‘Who’s this poet?’ She’s from Ohio. I have some sort of tie, some depth in this literary culture here—I should know her! I didn’t know her.” Harris reached out to network. He asked her for coffee at Van Aken. “I didn’t have any romantic impulses.”

It went well. Harris called up Morrow on the regular after. That blossomed into Harris, two weeks later, asking Morrow out to dinner at Adega. “I don’t really do fancy restaurants,” Morrow said. The two ate and talked books for hours. They found a mutual understanding of the approach to the writing process. Harris confirmed this when, arriving back at Morrow’s apartment for the first time, he saw a copy of his School Alive on her shelf.

“It’s been very magical,” Harris recalled. “We both have an equal

commitment to the rigor of writing, but also the playfulness of writing. So, it’s been very playful.”

Morrow had her own realization, or at least confirmation, soon after Harris divulged details about the Little Brown deal. “I remember thinking, ‘Is he telling me this to impress me? Why is he sharing this with me?’” she said, looking over across the studio at Harris, smiling warmly. “His excitement is contagious. And also, I kind of felt, I guess, this sense that I want to protect him.” On February 11, 2023, a year after they began dating, Harris and Morrow got engaged, on vacation in a treehouse in Atlanta.

In early April, shortly after Harris turned 34, Harris and Morrow meet at Dunlap’s in ClarkFulton for a variety show called Con Tú, for which Harris has been asked to read.

“Here he is, 2021 Ohio Poet of the Year!” T.J. Maclin, better known as Peach Curls, said manning a deejay booth.

“He comin outta Cleveland,” Maclin’s wife, poet Stephanie Ginese, said from the mic.

“I don’t want to make this about us, but it’s a wonderful thing when writers make their way up into the big leagues,” Maclin said, citing the Little Brown deal. “Upp inn the bigg leagggues,” he sang.

Harris read “I Feel You,” sprawling poem from School Alive, then a short story about his son Levi’s critique of his father’s fashion, how the two see Harris’ floods differently. “We feel it’s unsafe to be


ourselves when we stare out at other people far too long,” Harris read, “imagining what they think when they see us dancing.”

After a long applause break, Harris walked back to a tall table where Morrow sat watching, in a powder blue coat with her hands on her chin. Both their eyes light up with a strong jolt of reunion.

A slow jam came on the speakers. Harris took Morrow’s hand to dance. “Awww,” a woman said at a nearby table.

“I love you,” Morrow mouthed.

“I love you,” Harris said.

What about writing is a lonely act? Hemingway, after all, said the writer is doomed to a life of isolation, even amidst the pretty guise of celebrity. Writing, especially poetry, is both a reconciliation with the spirit and an inner desire to be heard by a tuned-in audience. If writing is prayer, as Kafka once said, then it’s a prayer to the unknowable. A poet rarely writes with a face in her mind’s eye.

It’s a subject that Harris and Morrow were invited to speak about at a recent writing workshop hosted by Lake Erie Ink, a local affiliate of 826 National. From a panel in the dimly lit quarters of the Werner Mansion off Euclid Avenue, Harris, Morrow and a panel of local authors with credibility spoke to mostly teenagers about the neverending vagaries of battle with the page. It’s Harris’ take that is, safe

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Both poets maintain a healthy sense of collaboration. Photo Mark Oprea
May 22 - Jun 4, 2024 | | 11

GET OUT Everything to do in Cleveland for the next two weeks

WED 05/22

In the Heights

The hard-working residents of Washington Heights grapple with love and lust, identity and racism, all while the prospect of a winning lottery ticket hangs in the air. The musical pairs Latin rhythms and dance with hip-hop lyrics to tell the story about what it means to chase your dreams as you cling to your roots. Tonight’s performance takes place at 7:30 at the Allen Theatre, where performances continue through June 9. 1407 Euclid Ave., 216-521-2540,

Walnut Wednesday

Walnut Wednesday is one of summer’s great traditions. Today from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Perk Plaza at Chester Commons — at East 12th and Walnut streets — food trucks gather to serve up lunch to area residents and employees. Follow the Downtown Cleveland Alliance on Facebook for weekly updates on vendors, entertainment offerings and more. The series continues through Sept. 7. Admission is free, but the food will cost you.

THU 05/23

Mozart’s Gran Partita

Tonight at 7:30 at Mandel Concert Hall, the Cleveland Orchestra performs Mozart’s “Gran Partita” with the accompaniment of violinist Leila Josefowicz. The program repeats at 8 p.m. on Saturday. 11001 Euclid Ave., 216-231-1111,

FRI 05/24

Berea’s National Rib Cook-Off & Beer Fest

At this annual event that takes place today through Monday at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds, ten rib teams from all over the country will compete in hopes of winning one of three major awards. Family activities include a rock-climbing wall a “super slide” and swings. Find hours as well as a schedule of musical performances on the website. 19201 East Bagley Rd., Middleburg Heights, 440-243-0090,

Mozart’s The Magic Flute

The Cleveland Orchestra takes on what is arguably one of the greatest operas

ever written. Performed as part of the 2024 Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Opera & Humanities Festival. the staged production will be sung in German with projected supertitles. Performances take place at 7 tonight and at 3 p.m. on Sunday at Mandel Concert Hall.

11001 Euclid Ave., 216-231-1111,

SAT 05/25

Manic Pixie Dream Market — Flea Market 4 the Girls, Gays, and Theys

This traveling queer flea comes to the parking lot across the street from Studio West 117 today. Admission is free, and pets are welcomed. The event takes place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. 11801 Detroit Ave., Lakewood,

United in Song! A Free Community Choral Celebration

The North Coast Men’s Chorus, Cleveland Chorale, the Cleveland Orchestra Children’s Choruses and Cleveland School of the Arts’ R. Nathaniel Dett Concert Chorus will all perform today at this special event hosted by Orlando Watson, a Cleveland native who is currently the senior director

of programming for Pittsburgh’s August Wilson African American Cultural Center. The concert begins at 2 p.m. at Severance Music Center. Admission is free, but tickets are required. 11001 Euclid Ave., 216-231-1111,

SUN 05/26


Two-time Oscar-winning writer and filmmaker Alexander Payne, director of The Holdovers, Sideways, Nebraska, The Descendants and About Schmidt, will appear in person to answer audience questions about his career after a screening of a new 4K restoration of Election, his breakthrough film. The screening takes place at 3 p.m. at the Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque. In addition, Payne will introduce a 35mm screening of the rarely shown Kurosawa classic Red Beard. That screening takes place at 7 p.m. at the Cinematheque. 11610 Euclid Ave., 216-421-7450, cia. edu.

Garrison Keillor 50th Anniversary of Prairie Home Companion

The storyteller extraordinaire brings

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Berea’s National Rib Cook-Off & Beer Fest returns to the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds. See: Friday, May 24. | Emanuel Wallace

the 50th anniversary tour of his popular Prairie Home Companion show to the Akron Civic Theatre. Expect a two-hour show featuring some Keillor standup and various comedy sketches. The event begins at 7 p.m.

182 South Main St., Akron, 330-2532488,

TUE 05/28

Lyrical Rhythms Open Mic and Chill

This long-running open mic night at the B Side allows some of the city’s best rappers and poets to strut their stuff. The event begins at 8 with a comedy session dubbed 2 Drinks & a Joke with host Ant Morrow. The open mic performances begin at 10 p.m. Tickets cost $5 in advance, $10 at the door. 2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., Cleveland Heights, 216-932-1966,

WED 05/29

Shitshow Karaoke

Local rapper/promoter Dirty Jones and Scene’s own Manny Wallace host Shit Show Karaoke, a weekly event at the B-Side Liquor Lounge wherein patrons choose from “an unlimited selection of jams from hip-hop to hard rock,” and are encouraged to “be as bad as you want.” Fueled by drink and shot specials, it all goes down tonight at 10 p.m. Admission is free.

2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., Cleveland Heights, 216-932-1966,

THU 05/30

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

This Tony and Drama Desk Award winning musical tells the story of an eclectic group of middle-school spelling champions. Tonight’s performance takes place at 7 at Cain Park in Cleveland Heights, where performances continue through June 9. 14591 Superior Rd., Cleveland Heights, 216-371-3000,

FRI 05/31

Guardians vs. Washington Nationals

The Guardians take on a rebuilding Washington Nationals team tonight at 7:10 at Progressive Field. As part of a Free Shirt Friday promotion, fans will receive a free shit at tonight’s game. Tomorrow night, fans will receive a Steven Kwan jersey. 2401 Ontario St., 216-420-4487, mlb. com/guardians.

Yugo Rock

Local DJ Stanislav Zabic will spin classic Yugoslavian rock bands at this special event that takes place at 6 tonight at the Club Room at the Diemer behind the Slovenian National Home. Slovenian sausage as well as various sides and drinks will be available for purchase. 6417 St. Clair Avenue, 216-361-5115.

SAT 06/01

Beachland Flea

Expect to find vintage clothing and vinyl records at today’s flea that takes place at 10 a.m. at the Beachland. Admission is free.

15711 Waterloo Rd., 216-383-1124,

Joshu Seth — Mentalist

Winner of the Magic Olympics at the Magic Castle in Hollywood, Joshua Seth has become one of the top comedy mentalists in the world. He reads minds and conducts psychic experiments while blindfolded. He performs tonight at 7:30 at the Hanna Theatre. 2067 East 14th St., 216-241-6000,

Loud and Proud Starring Nina West

This concert will feature the locally based North Coast Men’s Chorus and drag sensation Nina West performing together in a special Pride concert. Performances take place at 8 tonight and at 3 p.m. tomorrow at the Mimi Ohio Theatre. 1511 Euclid Ave., 216-241-6000,

A Tribute to our Armed Forces

Tonight at 8 at Mandel Concert Hall, the Cleveland Pops Orchestra performs as part of this annual concert featuring stirring patriotic music along with a special tribute to NASA featuring videos taken from actual space flights. 11001 Euclid Ave., 216-231-1111,

TUE 06/04

Guardians vs. Kansas City Royals

The Guardians take on the Kansas City Royals, a young team that’s played well so far this season, tonight at 6:40. It’s the start of a three-game series with the division rivals that concludes with a day game on Thursday, June 6. 2401 Ontario St., 216-420-4487, mlb. com/guardians.

May 22 - Jun 4, 2024 | | 13 t@clevelandscene
| | May 22 - Jun 4, 2024 14


Antica rises above your usual neighborhood Italian joint


I’ve been dodging tips from friends and readers, who’ve suggested that I travel across town to dine at Antica Italian Kitchen in Avon. When it comes to driving long distances to review Italian restaurants, I’m definitely a “once bitten, twice shy” kind of guy.

But earlier this year, I ran out of excuses. That’s when owner Fadi Daoud opened a second location of his popular Italian restaurant, this one on my side of town. After a recent visit, it’s easy to see what all the fuss is about: Antica rises a few rungs above the typical neighborhood trattoria to deliver a reliable, consistent and satisfying dining experience. All the classics are here, deftly prepared using highquality ingredients and delivered in a professional manner in an attractive space.

I was at this busy little corner a year ago when I was checking out the owner’s other popular restaurant, Hecks. In 2005, Daoud bought the 50-year-old burger bistro in Ohio City. He later added a location in Avon and, last year, a third in Beachwood. Hecks is situated in the former Moxie property, which comes with the

adjoining space long home to Red. That sexy little steakhouse, the owner believed, was an ideal fit for his stylish Italian restaurant, a concept he was eager to expand as well.

The 100-seat bistro was attractive from the start, with its appealing two-room setup featuring a bar and lounge on one side and the main dining room on the other. Like that flexible arrangement, the menu offers countless ways to dine. There are plenty of shareable starters, a half dozen pizzas, loads of salads and vegetable side dishes, a sort of greatest-hits pasta selection, and enough meat and seafood dishes to please everyone at the table. That ritzy barroom would be the perfect place to meet for after-work martinis, sipped alongside a few appetizers like Kobe beef meatballs ($16) and a platter of arancini ($13). Each of the starters could double as a light meal, with three nearly softball-sized meatballs on the one hand and four crispy cheese-filled fried rice balls on the other. The airy meatballs are topped with a summery marinara, dusted with cheese and served with plenty of fluffy focaccia, while the risotto balls are served atop a faintly spicy

3355 Richmond Rd., Beachwood; 35568 Detroit Rd., Avon


We were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the pizza, often a middling space-filler at non-pizzeria places. The house-tossed crust was thin, crisp and tender in the middle and well-risen and crackly on the edges. Ours – the Mamma Mia ($19) – comes topped with ground sausage, salami and mozzarella. If ever there was a candidate for a local “food challenge,” it’s Antica’s chicken parmesan pizza. In place of the customary pizza dough is a base made out of shaped, breaded and deep-fried ground chicken. It gets topped with sauce and cheese and baked.

Every pasta we ordered was perfectly cooked, with the short rib ravioli ($26) taking top honors. Made from fresh pasta, the chubby little meat bombs arrive in a light cream sauce studded with caramelized mushrooms. An

even lighter lemon-kissed sauce accompanies a sturdy bucatini ($29) tossed with plump shrimp and cherry tomatoes.

Beachwood’s menu largely mirrors the one out west, save for the addition of a few more steaks and chops. There’s a 32-ounce porterhouse, for example, and grilled lamb chops with labne. In the veal piccata ($32), three fork-tender cutlets are capped with a lemonbutter sauce loaded with capers. Like most meat dishes, this one comes with a side of fresh pasta. A butterflied whole branzino ($38) is sweet, mild and perfectly cooked, including the crispy skin below. A buttery cream sauce boosts the natural richness of the fish. Included in the bargain is a large platter of roasted potatoes and crisp-tender broccoli rabe.

Antica on both sides of town offers a level of service that is quickly becoming extinct for midlevel restaurants. Our server was well versed in the cocktail and wine lists, able to offer up suggestions that were well received. Special requests are fielded with grace and we never felt ignored or pestered. An affordable bottle of Montalcino ($39) joins pricier options from the glassy wine cellar.

The owner describes Antica as “fine-casual,” and I can’t argue with the label. From the elevated service and setting to the quality – and cost – of the food, the restaurant is knocking on the door of fine-dining. But like its more affordable sibling next door, this is a place where diners can come fresh off the golf course or pickleball court.

May 22 - Jun 4, 2024 | | 15
ANTICA ITALIAN KITCHN Photo by Doug Trattner t@dougtrattner
Photo by Doug Trattner
| | May 22 - Jun 4, 2024 16


Cha Pizza in Ohio City to close, Issho Ni team to open izakaya and omakase sushi restaurant

SUSAN WALTERS HAS announced that she will be closing her pizza restaurant, Cha at Tinnerman Lofts, at the end of May. The Ohio City restaurant, which is located in a beautifully restored century home, opened in early 2023 as the third iteration of the concept.

But the unique restaurant property at 2054 Fulton Road already has been claimed by another operator. Johanes Jonathan, who runs Issho Ni Ramen and Sushi (34302 Euclid Ave., 440-306-8020) in Willoughby, has ambitious plans for the place.

Out in Willoughby, Issho Ni has been offering exceptional ramen and sushi since 2019. Recently, the restaurant rolled out a weekly omakase, a special reservationonly, multi-course sushi event. The dinners give the sushi chefs a chance to spread their wings with higherend offerings flown in from Japan.

In Ohio City, Jonathan has plans to open a two-level eatery, with different concepts on each floor. The first floor will be devoted to a casual, high-energy izakaya, often described as a “Japanese-style tapas bar.”

“The izakaya will not be fully authentic Japanese because I’m going to infuse it with international taste, because I’m from Indonesia,” Jonathan explains.

The upper floor will be the new home of the omakase dinners. With just eight seats, the sushi eatery will be reaching even higher than those weekly events in Willoughby. Diners who make a reservation can expect to experience between 20 and 23 courses at a price of around $350 per person.

“I want to introduce the Cleveland people about the omakase experience,” adds Jonathan.

With partners like chef Ryan and chef Kwan, who comes from the highly esteemed L.A. sushi eatery Kogane, diners can expect to be blown away, says Jonathan.

“This will be traditional Tokyo-style omakase, with more

luxurious and rare fish,” he says.

Plans for the interior renovations have been submitted to the city, says Jonathon. If all goes as planned, the as-yet-unnamed restaurant will open in late 2024 or early 2025.

There will be no changes out in Willoughby.

One Pot Hot Pot & BBQ Now Open on Coventry

Korean food fans owe Hang Zheng a debt of gratitude for building one of the hippest barbecue and hot pot spots in the region. Upon their first visit to One Pot (1825 Coventry Rd., 216673-3888), guests will be blown away by the sleek, futuristic vibe and attention to detail.

Last summer, Zheng shuttered Taco Roosters to ready the space for something better. Working with designers, the team generated detailed renderings of the future restaurant, which were sent to a manufacturer in China. The resulting pieces and parts are then shipped halfway across the world and assembled on site. The space has come a long way from its old Hyde Park Grille days.

One Pot seats 100 guests, who are seated at tables with built-in grills for barbecue and burners for hot pot. Tables can elect to order BBQ, hot pot, or both. There is a large central grill station and individual hot pot spots for each diner. The table also can elect to swap the main BBQ grill for a hot pot if the whole table chooses to go that route.

If you’ve dined at a Korean BBQ joint that smells like an indoor backyard barbecue, take comfort in the high-tech systems installed here. Every grill and hot pot station employs a downdraft system that whisks away smoke, grease and odors, says Zheng.

One Pot is all-you-can-eat, with different prices for lunch, dinner and children. Diners going the BBQ route can choose between

20 different meats like bulgogi, spicy pork belly, garlic chicken and tongue. Seafood choices like jumbo shrimp and salmon join veggies like mushrooms, sweet potato, onion and zucchini.

Hot pot fans have eight different broths to choose from, including spicy Szechuan, kimchi, tomato and Thai tom yum. The meats range from thin-sliced pork belly and ribeye to beef brisket. In the seafood department there is squid, baby octopus, shrimp, crawfish and fish filet. But that’s just the start: there are multiple tofu choices, crab sticks, fish balls, beef tripe, Spam and more. Another two dozen veggie choices and seven different rice and noodle choices round out the options.

Diners can order through servers and/or use their phones to summon additional ingredients as desired. A buffet area will be set up with dozens of sauces, sides and condiments.

One Pot has a full liquor license, so diners can expect a roster of colorful cocktails, beer, sake, soju and soju bombs.

Zheng is hitting this trend at its zenith, he feels. But rather than being a short-lived fad, KBBQ and hot pot continues to attract new fans, who might have been intimidated by the concept a few short years ago.

“Now, with TikTok and Instagram, people are more adventurous – they watch videos from different parts of the world and say, Oh, I want to try that. And if you are familiar with BBQ and hot pot places, they can come here to show their friends,” he says.

Yi Er Chuan Brings Malatang Hot Pot to Asiatown

Kitty Wang opened Yi Er Chuan (3709 Payne Ave., 216-2660573) in April, bringing one of the first malatang – or spicy hot pot – experiences to Asiatown. Not to be confused with typical hot pot restaurants, where diners add

ingredients to a simmering broth at the table, malatang cooking is all done in the kitchen.

The Chinese street food concepts are beginning to pop up around the country, popular with diners looking for quicker version of the hot-pot experience. At Yi Er Chuan and places like it, guests select a broth and any combination of meats, seafood items, vegetables and noodles. A paper check liststyle menu makes it easy to pick which of the nearly 50 items a diner wants in his or her bowl.

The main broth is spicy thanks to dried chili and Sichuan peppercorns, but there’s also a non-spicy tomato version. From there you move onto meats and seafood like beef, lamb, shrimp, squid, ham and sausage. But also pork ball, fish ball, pork intestine and chicken gizzard. Veggie options include cabbage, corn, wood ear, lotus root, soft tofu and tofu sheets. Finally, there are four noodle options: ramen, udon, egg and sweet potato.

In addition to the build-you-ownbowl format, the menu offers five combination bowls starring the meat or fish of one’s choice and the kitchen picks the rest. For example, the beef bowl includes beef, beef balls, beef tripe, cabbage, tofu skin, potato and choice of noodle.

The restaurant also prepares “dry pot” versions, which are stir-fried dishes as opposed to broth-based.

Other street food-style menu items include scallion pancakes, cucumber salad, spring rolls, fried dumplings, lamb or beef skewers, crispy salted chicken, rice cakes and Taiwanese sausage.

Yi Er Chuan is in the former Rising Grill spot directly across the street from the plaza with Han Chinese, Map of Thailand and Koko Bakery.. The restaurant joins two other newish restaurants on that block, Ice or Rice Cafe and Alpha Ramen.


May 22 - Jun 4, 2024 | | 17
Photo by Vince Grzegorek



Hype continues to build for up-andcoming singersongwriter Chappell Roan


Roan is having a breakthrough year is an understatement. The 26-yearold pop star, who brings the second leg of her Midwest Princess Tour to Jacobs Pavilion on Tuesday, May 28, is fresh off her gig opening for Olivia Rodrigo’s GUTS arena tour. The singer-songwriter also played Coachella, delivered an NPR Tiny Desk Concert and made her TV debut on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert – all in the first few months of 2024.

Roan has amassed over 14 million (and counting) monthly Spotify listeners by being herself. Her drag makeup, perky dance-pop anthems and honest lyrics narrating gay panic have made Roan an icon in the LGBTQ+ community.

But lately, she is gaining just as much traction in the mainstream.

Roan’s latest can’t-get-out-ofyour-head catchy single, “Good Luck, Babe,” debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 last month. It comes on the heels of the track “Casual” that’s trending on TikTok despite the Universal Music Group dispute leading to the official audio for Roan’s music, and a large percentage of other commercial artists’ music, being removed from the platform.

“A lot of my songs have been so difficult to get to the finish line, but it’s for good reason. It’s like they pushed their way into this world,” says Roan in a recent phone interview

“[‘Casual’] was locked in an email for a year and a half. I was like, ‘I don’t know what to do.’ We rewrote the whole thing twice; it was so frustrating. At first, I was like, ‘I

want it to be really upbeat and big,’ like a power anthem; it just was not meant to be that way.”

“Casual” was Roan’s favorite song to perform live on the GUTS World Tour.

Every night, unprompted by Roan, the fans would hold up their phone flashlights while she performed the kiss-off. The Missouri native compared the views to a total lunar eclipse she had seen back home.

“Teenage girls rule the fucking world,” says Roan of Rodrigo’s cult following. “They are the best, most enthusiastic fans, and the most loyal.”

Seeing the even younger kids in the crowd have the time of their lives stirred a deep nostalgia in Roan.

“I just remember crying when Hannah Montana came out onstage and just being like, ‘There’s no one more important in the world, but maybe Jesus. But maybe not,” says Roan. “For some of these girls, Olivia is their Hannah Montana.”

“Pink Pony Club,” unlike “Casual,” was written in its entirety in just a day or two, according to Roan.

“That one was easy; she did not have to fight,” she says.

The empowering single was inspired by Roan’s first ever trip to a gay bar, where she had an awakening.

“It was exactly what I think church was supposed to feel like – this freedom, and this allencompassing love and acceptance. If the Holy Spirit is real, to me, then she’s in a fucking gay bar, because


that’s what I felt,” says Roan. “What’s so crazy is, I went with my boyfriend at the time. I felt so removed from him. I remember just kind of floating away from him, and being like, ‘There’s nothing more that I want than to be with this community.’”

The song was written about a week after this experience.

“It was very, very spiritual, very emotional, and that’s why I think it came so easy.”

Roan’s 2023 debut album is equal parts upbeat and intimate.

One of the most heart-wrenching songs, “California,” is a ballad originally released in 2020, that she decided to include as a thematic centerpiece.

“It was such a big element of The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess, because it’s where I talk about how I miss Missouri so much,” says Roan. “I just think it was so important to be like, ‘You know what? I don’t actually even like Hollywood, so, I want my dad to come pick me up. I’m really sad, and I have no money.”

The song was, of course, written before Roan’s career had taken off. Now, she could not feel more vindicated.

Roan sold out the 2,000-capacity Agora so rapidly that her Cleveland

date was upgraded to the 5,000-capacity Jacobs Pavilion. It’s on the same day as wildly popular singer-songwriter Noah Kahan’s sold-out Blossom show, nonetheless.

“I feel complete, satisfied, and content,” says Roan. “I’m just very proud of everyone, cause it’s not just me [making the artist project of Chappell Roan happen]. Right now, it’s a team of like 70 people across the board, holding it up, altogether.”

Although her wildest dreams have already come true, by being able to release and promote an album and go on headline tours in the first place, Roan still has career goals. She’s only human, after all.

The singer-songwriter strives to tour globally and put out many more albums. She’s currently working on her sophomore LP.

“I have it all. I’m set is how I feel,” says Roan. “The only thing that I really want more in my creative career is that I don’t think I’ve written my best song yet. So, I think, that’s where the hunger comes from. I want to write my best song.”

May 22 - Jun 4, 2024 | | 19 t@jniesel

LIVEWIRE Real music in the real world

THU 05/23

Stress Dolls

This Buffalo indie rock band worked with Cleveland-based producer Jim Wirt (Something Corporate, Jack’s Mannequin, Incubus, Fiona Apple) on its new album, Queen of No. On tour to support the release, the band plays at 8 p.m. at the Beachland Tavern. Girl Cologne, Mosant and the Shoehorns open.

15711 Waterloo Rd., 216-383-1124,

FRI 05/24

Gary Clark Jr.

On tour to support JPEG RAW, his first new album since 2019’s This Land, the celebrated blues singerguitarist comes to Jacobs Pavilion tonight at 7. The ambitious album draws from jazz, world beat, rock, R&B, hip-hop and blues. Songs such as the noisy opener, “Maktub,” feature gospel vocals and distorted guitars

with inspirational vocals about unity and revolution.

2014 Sycamore St., 216-861-4080,

SAT 05/25

Laura Jane Grace

Earlier this year, inspirational punk rocker Laura Jane Grace released Laura Jane Grace released her latest effort, Hole in My Head, a collection of tunes that highlight ‘50s rockinfluenced guitar riffs. Drive-By Truckers bassist Matt Patto guests on the album. On tour in support of the release, Grace performs tonight at 8 at the Grog Shop in Cleveland Heights. 2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., Cleveland Heights, 216-321-5588,

Knocked Loose

Originally just a group of kids playing in their Kentucky hardcore/punk scene, Knocked Loose has crossed into the mainstream and garnered support from acts such as Demi Lovato, Post Malone and Ethel Caine. The group performs

tonight at 6 at the Agora. Loathe, Show Me the Body and SPEED open. 5000 Euclid Ave., 216-881-2221,

SUN 05/26

Lynne Arriale

Jazz pianist Lynne Arriale celebrates the release of her new album, Being Human, with tonight’s show at the Bop Stop. The disc celebrates the ways that our lives are “enriched by acts of passion, courage, love, persistence, heart, soul, curiosity, faith and joy,” reads a press release. Greta Thunberg, Amanda Gorman and Malala Yousafzai inspired the album.

2920 Detroit Ave., 216-771-6551,

Diet Lite

This Milwaukee-based band has acquired a significant following in its hometown. The group recently played sold-out shows at venues such as the Vivarium and Turner Hall, both of which have capacities of several

hundred. The group brings its 14-city tour to the Grog Shop in Cleveland Heights. Who Saved Who, Honey Pocket and Whiffler open. The gig begins at 8 p.m.

2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., Cleveland Heights, 216-321-5588,

X Ambassadors

X Ambassadors have had a busy year. They recently moved from their hometown of Ithaca, NY to Brooklyn, embarked on a global tour, and collaborated with acts such as Lizzo, Rihanna, the Weeknd and SZA. The group brings its Townie: North American Tour to House of Blues tonight at 6:30.

308 Euclid Ave., 216-523-2583,

TUE 05/28

Noah Kahan

This Vermont-based singer-songwriter has catapulted to fame thanks to the success of his single “Stick Season,” a break-up ballad that shows off

| | May 22 - Jun 4, 2024 20
Gary Clark Jr. brings his gritty blues jams to Jacobs Pavilion. See: Friday, May 24. |Mike Miller

his brittle voice. Expect to hear it when Kahan performs tonight at 8 at Blossom as he brings his tour in support of his Stick Season (We’ll All Be Here Forever) collaboration series to town.

1145 W. Steels Corners Rd., Cuyahoga Falls, 216-231-1111,

WED 05/29

21 Savage

The American Dream Tour that brings rapper 21 Savage to Blossom tonight celebrates the release of the Grammy winner’s third studio album of the same name which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, maintaining the spot for two weeks. This trek follows a busy 2023 that found the rapper touring across across North America, Europe, and the UK. The concert begins at 7. 1145 W. Steels Corners Rd., Cuyahoga Falls, 216-231-1111,


Earlier this year, Khruangbin released its new album, A LA SALA, their first LP in four years. The atmospheric album consists of stockpiled ideas originally set down as off-the-cuff recordings (voice-memos made at sound-checks and on long trips). The mostly instrumental group performs tonight at 7 at Jacobs Pavilion. 2014 Sycamore St., 216-861-4080,

THU 05/30

Lauren Daigle: The Kaleidoscope Tour

The Christian rock singer-songwriter brings her Kaleidoscope Tour to Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. The concert begins at 7 p.m., and Ellie Holcomb opens. One Center Court, 216-420-2000,

Maggie Rose

Since her breakout a few years ago, singer-songwriter Maggie Rose has shared the stage with artists such as Kelly Clarkson, Heart, Joan Jett, Marcus King, the Mavericks, Fitz & The Tantrums, Kingfish and the Revivalists. Currently prepping a new studio album, she also hosts her own podcast, Salute the Songbird, which is now in its fourth season. She performs tonight at 8 at the Beachland Ballroom. 15711 Waterloo Rd., 216-383-1124,

FRI 05/31

Dru Hill

Founded in Baltimore back in 1992, this R&B group has somehow survived

all the ups and downs of the music industry to still tour and record. The group’s biggest hits came in the ‘90s when collaborations with Redman and Ja Rule topped the charts. It comes to MGM Northfield Park — Center Stage tonight at 8. 10705 Northfield Rd., Northfield, 330-908-7793, mgmnorthfieldpark.

Chris Stapleton’s All-American Road Show

Gruff-voiced country singer-songwriter Chris Stapleton brings his AllAmerican Road Show back to Blossom. The prolific Stapleton teamed up with uber-producer Dave Cobb (Brandi Carlile, John Prine, Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell, Take That, Rival Sons and Zayn Malik) for his latest effort, Higher, another collection of carefully crafted introspective tunes. Singersongwriter Marcus King and the War & Treaty open.

1145 W. Steels Corners Rd., Cuyahoga Falls, 216-231-1111,

SAT 06/01

Toronzo Cannon & the Chicago Way

This Chicago bus driver has become the latest highly rated blues export from the Windy City. Unhappy at being told to keep his opinions to himself, Cannon uses his latest album, the aptly titled Shut Up & Play!, to express his views about the world. He comes to Music Box Supper Club tonight at 8 in support of the album.

1148 Main Ave., 216-242-1250,

NEEDTOBREATHE and Judah and the Lion

Formed in South Carolina in 2001, NEEDTOBREATHE has garnered two billion career streams and scored multi-platinum chart topping hits. One particularly popular anthem, the gospel-inspired “Brother,” pairs the group with singer-songwriter Gavin DeGraw. The group brings its coheadlining tour with indie rockers Judah & the Lion to Blossom. The show begins at 7:30 p.m.

1145 W. Steels Corners Rd., Cuyahoga Falls, 216-231-1111,

Tank R&B Money Tour 2024

R&B superstar Tank will draw upon two decades worth of material for tonight’s show that pairs him with Keri Hilson and Carl Thomas. The concert begins at 8 at the Akron Civic Theatre. 182 South Main St., Akron, 330-2532488,

May 22 - Jun 4, 2024 | | 21 t@clevelandscene



I’manintelligent,open-mindedmom of a 13-year-old boy. Recently, I’ve found out that my son entered into an online Dom/sub relationship where he asked his “Mistress” to give him degrading tasks like drinking his own semen. Of course, his “Mistress” asked him to “prove his loyalty” by providing her with money in the form of gift cards. This is how I found out about this relationship. My Amazon account was suddenly filled with gift card purchases for this person signed from “Your Slave.” I immediately contacted this “Mistress” and advised her that she was engaged in an inappropriate relationship with an eighth grader. This kid hasn’t even had his first kiss, Dan, let alone a physical relationship with anyone. I don’t want to shame his kinks, but I’m also very concerned that this is far too advanced for a kid his age to even understand. Over the years, he’s had a fixation with women’s feet and giant women stomping on small figures (all of this in anime/ manga). Again, I really want him to grow up with healthy attitudes towards sex — but this is parenting at a whole new level. Is it possible for me to dial back this very adult behavior? I’m overwhelmed already and puberty has just begun!

Mostly Understanding Mom Oh, momma. You are in for an exhausting five years.

You’re gonna need to remain vigilant monitoring your son’s online activities while running interference. You can’t reprogram your son’s erotic imagination, MUM, nor should you waste your time trying. You can’t prevent him from getting online, but you can put filters on his devices, regularly check his browser history, and regularly remind him you’re checking his browser history — not to shame him, but to keep him safe from predators, scammers, and the kind of malicious sextortionists who’ve driven young people particularly young boys — to suicide. The fact that your son likes following orders makes him particularly vulnerable to people tricking boys into sending them intimate pics and then blackmailing them with threats of sending their pics and videos to classmates and family members.

In addition to telling your son you’re monitoring his online activities to keep him safe, you should tell him that you understand that he thinks he’s ready. But anyone who would give him the time of day right now much less dominate him — is by definition a terrible person who can’t be trusted with what he wants to share with someone. (And anyone who demands money and/or gift cards is highly suspect.) Let him know there are good people out there who enjoy all the same things he does but the good ones — the people he’ll be able to trust — won’t go near him until he’s an adult. So, for now he’ll just have to content

himself with fantasizing about his kinks and masturbating to your part’s content. And if you can get him safely through high school…

Your son can be a kinky adult and have a healthy attitude toward sex. The chief concern expressed to me when parents learn that their kid is kinky — when parents find the latex gloves or the diapers or the handcuffs — is their kid will never find love. Pre-internet, being kinky definitely complicated a person’s search for love; the kinky person had to meet people the normal way, e.g., at work, in bars, through friends, etc., and eventually disclose their kink. This often resulted in the kinky person getting dumped and having to start over. Nowadays, kinky adults have the option of getting on kink dating and hookup sites and searching for partners who share their kinks.

P.S. I’m sure MUM would love to hear from some readers who once kinky at-risk youth and who are now healthy and functional kinky adults. What did your parents — if they found out you were kinky — say or do? What was helpful? What was harmful? Jump into the comments and share some advice with MUM. Isitpossibletobeinmourningfor a fantasy that will never be fulfilled? I’m a 44-yearold cis het man, and since hitting puberty I’ve fantasized about sleeping with an older woman like, a much older woman. The fantasy was always about the mature older woman and, well, that younger and more virile version of me at eighteen. But it never happened. I got married right out of college, got divorced young, and quickly married again. Now that I am solidly middle aged and in a monogamous (and very happy) relationship, not only has the prospect of realizing this kink most likely ended, but I am finding it increasingly difficult to even fantasize about it anymore. I’m just too old to have this sort of situation be a realistic scenario. I’m not finding an older woman to sleep with anytime soon, and I’m not magically turning back into a twentysomething anytime soon. Knowing that I’ve aged out of my ultimate fantasy without ever acting on it makes it almost sad to think about. I’m not asking you that dumb and obvious question (“Is this normal?”), as I’ve reading you long enough to know the answer to that. I guess what I’m asking is for advice on how I can deal with the sadness I’m feeling about this.

Often Life Disappoints

Seeing as you’re mourning a fantasy that will never be fulfilled — you’re never gonna be a young stud seduced and/or seduced by a mature older woman — the answer to your first question (“Is it possible to be in mourning for a fantasy that will never be fulfilled?”) is obviously yes, OLD, as demonstrated by own feelings of grief. As for what to do about the sadness you’re feeling, well, you did something very useful with your sadness today by writing to me. While it may be too late for you to do something about your fantasy, your letter will hopefully inspire others — young and old alike — to act on their fantasies before it’s too late, e.g., before they’re too married and/or too monogamous and/or too old. And here’s a fantasy-fulfillment pro tip for them: creating opportunities >>> seizing opportunities.

And you’re not actually too old to realize this

fantasy, OLD! While you can’t play the young and virile stud for a 50-year-old woman — you need that age gap to gape — you can play the younger and still virile stud for a woman in her mid-sixties. To do it the right way, i.e., to do it without being a cheating piece of shit, OLD, you’re gonna need your wife’s permission. If your wife one those people — one of those insecure, irrational people — who expects all of her partner’s sexual thoughts and fantasies to revolve around her, then she’s unlikely to react positively to your request for a hall pass. But if your wife doesn’t expect all of your sexual fantasies to revolve around her… if your wife doesn’t have a problem with you looking at porn… if she doesn’t get angry when she notices you noticing the host barista… getting a little tipsy and/or high together and having a conversation about your sexual fantasies and hers — AND HERS AND HERS AND HERS might you that hall pass.

P.P.S. Go into that conversation prepared not just to ask for a hall pass, OLD, but to offer one.

P.S. And if your wife’s been fantasizing about fucking some young stud… Yahtzee!

Herearethebackgrounddetails:My son was once a 16-year-old junior in high school and very introverted kid. He never expressed any interest in girls or boys, but one day he comes home with a dress he bought at Goodwill. I asked him then if it had anything to do with his sexuality and he said it didn’t, although he would later come out to us as bisexual. It’s now 10 years later, and on my now 26-year-old son sometimes wears a skirt to his job as a legal assistant. I am not against him wearing a skirt if that’s what he wants, but I worry about his safety. He lives in Chicago and takes public transportation. Do I need to be concerned, or should I just let him do as he wants? He’s adult now, and he’s a smart and wonderful person. I want him to do what is right for him, but I worry about the rest of the world.

Loving Parent In Chicagoland I wanna live in a world where people can wear whatever they want without having to worry what other people might say or do. We don’t live in that world, LPIC, but your son — by being himself and wearing whatever he wants is helping to create that world. There’s a risk, of course, that your son might attract some negative attention when he leaves his apartment in a skirt. But your son is a grown-ass man, LPIC, and I’m confident he’s calculated — and can control for — whatever risk he’s running.

P.S. Chicago, my hometown, is one of those big and diverse and consequently tolerant cities where the sight of a dude in a skirt on the Brown Line is unlikely to cause a riot. And I rode public transportation in Chicago when I was in my teens and twenties in crazy fucking outfits and lived to tell the tale. Your son should be fine.

P.P.S. Every kid in Chicagoland — regardless of sexual orientation or gender expression — should be so lucky as to have a mom like you.

I’m a married straight woman. Afriend was visiting recently with her husband. Things were rocky between them for some time and yet they seemed to be doing very well. They were very attentive to each other and even a little lovey-dovey. I privately asked her what

made the difference, and she told me that by her husband’s request they started having an ANR (Adult Nursing Relationship) over a year ago. She was initially hesitant about the idea as well as the commitment, yet as time went by, she noticed the benefits to their relationship. A short, non-scientific online research confirmed her assessment. This has me wondering if I can apply the same approach to my somewhat dwindling marriage. I’m not sure the everythree-hour routine can work for us and have me producing milk again. Even if it could, my husband was reluctant to touch my breasts while I was breastfeeding our two children, now adults. Yet the idea of doing it “dry” while maintaining an eye contact and “lending a hand” in case the need arises is enough to excite me. My husband was always the initiator in our bedroom situations, and I wonder how I can introduce the idea without him feeling “demoted” or infantilized. Your thoughts and the thoughts of others are welcome.

American Nursing Resources

To be perfectly honest, ANR: your letter sounds like it was written by a man.

Lots of kinky straight men wanna live in a world where instead of having to beg their wives to peg them or cuck them or nurse them, their wives hear about pegging or cucking or adult nursing relationships — even once — and suddenly can’t wait to peg or cuck or nurse them. They don’t live in that world, but writing fake letters to advice columnists makes it a little easier for kinky straight men to pretend they do… and to masturbate about it.

For the record: there are kinky women out there — I get letters every day from women who, unprompted/unbegged, wanna peg their husbands — but it’s rare for women in long-term, vanilla, heterosexual marriages to suddenly acquire a very specific and very niche kink. But on the off chance you’re for real, ANR, here’s what you say to your husband: “Martha and George have been doing this kinky thing and it’s a real kink with websites and books and subreddits of its own — and it sounds like fun and I wanna give it a try.”

Even if your husband isn’t interested in being nursed, ANR, don’t lose sight of what it was that improved your friend’s marriage: it wasn’t what they were doing with each other — ANR, the kink, doesn’t have magical marriageimproving properties — but that they were doing for each other. They were communicating, they were taking risks, and they were having an adventure. It was the listening and playing that revived their relationship, not the popping of a tit into a mouth. It could’ve been pegging, cuckolding, nursing — it could’ve been anything — so don’t despair if your husband isn’t into this particular thing, ANR. Suggest something else.

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