The first part of our Ohio guide left us resting
in piece at ease at the Spring Grove Cemetery in a suburb of Cincinnati. Having reached the Southwestern-most point of our trip, we continued in the diametrically opposite direction, aiming to reach the banks of Lake Erie in Cleveland, the last of the three Cs of Ohio.
Despite Dayton itself being a well-developed city of considerable size and population, it was the Sunwatch Indian Village, a small place on the outskirts of the Dayton metropolitan area, that brought us there. The village recreates the setting of an ancient Native American settlement, particularly its dwellings, agriculture, and handcraft. While it is probably true that the Indians kept a rather simplistic mode of life, and the presented adaptation is in essence correct, the arrangement of the reconstructed village leaves nonetheless the feeling of laxity and incompleteness.
I am no expert in archaeology or Native American culture, but certain questions inadvertently come to mind when you see articles of the present amongst the scenes intended to convey a historical fact. For example, did the Indians rely on any particular model of fire extinguisher,
or how many horses did it take to pull one mid-size pickup truck?
Sarcasm aside, the Sunwatch Indian Village was not destined to become our trip’s highlight.
Though chronologically impossible, a well-substantiated theory about the origin of the name Wapakoneta (“Place of White Bones,” you shameless Wikipedia avoiders) would be that it was coined as a reference to the local
pot-fueled artistic extravaganza entitled “The Temple of Tolerance.” Located in the stadium-sized backyard of its creator Jim Bowsher’s house, it is an indescribable clutter of sometimes meaningless, sometimes unique, sometimes brilliant, and sometimes absurd knick-knacks and installations. The poster hanging beside Jim’s front door says it all.
The most attractive and, dare I say, practical section of the whole shebang is probably towards the very end, at the round clearing with a stone-hedged barrow in the middle.
It is likely that my disparaging appraisal of the Temple is the consequence of not attributing any particular value (other than the aesthetic one) to the things that it is composed of. For example, the following bent “arrow” stuck in a lump of concrete is a fragment of the Berlin Wall. But how were we to find out if Jim’s friend had not showed up the moment we were leaving and had not told us a bit of trivia about this and other exhibits?
So, is the Temple of Tolerance all that interesting? Maybe. But you have got to hand it to Jim, the place is truly unique.
Even as we were leaving Cincinnati, we realized—and with the greatest vexation—that we would not make it in time for the day’s last tour of the Mansfield Reformatory, the place used as the stage setting for the Shawshank Redemption movie. This was especially disheartening for my wife because she is really fond of the film and had been looking forward to visiting the reformatory for months.
Despite the fiasco, we decided to make the best out of the situation and at least see the reformatory complex from across the street, its stately and well-kept look somewhat mitigating the situation.
The summer sun sticking out in the sky way into the late evening hours, we managed to cover a great deal of our Cleveland todo list following our arrival, 7 p.m. onwards. Because our decision to go on was rather spontaneous, and certain places had already closed for the day, we had to improvise a bit with our selection. First, we strolled along a a couple of major streets and avenues—in thereabouts of the Warehouse District—taking pictures of random urban landscapes and the more imposing tower blocks.
As we went, we tried to encompass in our route some of the notable Cleveland sights, such as the Terminal Tower and the Fountain of Eternal Life.
But there were plenty of other, humbly attractive scenes—the ones that in my opinion often leave the biggest impression.
For instance, check out these little guys outside the Cleveland Public Library. Simple awesome.
One of the last things we saw that evening was the Cleveland Arcade, a beautiful five-storey gallery comprising dozens of upscale shops, restaurants, beauty salons, and other things of the sort. At the time of our visit the ground-level hallway was occupied by a wedding party, so we were probably lucky to have witnessed the Arcade in its full decor.
Perhaps, only around Christmas could this place be an even more marvelous sight.
Since it was nearly sunset when we finished with the Arcade, and we had run out of short-range destinations, we had to finally settle for a hotel. Still, our earlier decision to outpace the traveling agenda that evening proved to be a wise one, for the weather deteriorated overnight and made an outdoor stay very objectionable the following day.
In the morning, we immediately set course for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame museum, only making a few photo stops on the way.
Because I have been a rock-and-roll addict and an amateur musician throughout my entire adulthood, I felt compelled to visit the Hall of Fame museum and very thrilled to finally have the opportunity to do so. This place, I thought, was like a mecca for rockers young and old, and it was essential that I made my pilgrimage.
While the titillating anticipation made me set my hopes up high, the actual visit dispelled my fancy in a flash. It was a sobering realization that the museum had been founded to primarily make money and not to immortalize the great artists of the past or embody the spirit of rock-and-roll, as one would expect. Still, I confess that there were some noteworthy exhibits that I got a kick out of, so let me start from the beginning.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame building is a large polyhedral structure situated on the banks of Lake Erie. Its chaotic and absurd appearance suggests no connection whatsoever with rock-and-roll or any other kind of music.
At least, the interior makes ties with music a bit more obvious.
Seeing the familiar faces of the rock-and-roll pioneers and legends further inspires hope to see something unique and learn something interesting: Buddy Holly, James Brown, Little Richard, Ray Charles, John Lennon, Run–D.M.C. … wait… WTF??
It turns out that on the premises of the museum the definition of “rock-and-roll” is to be loosely interpreted as “any popular or commercially successful music.” From that point on I was pretending to ignore all displays dedicated to rappers, pop-signers, and similar heresy.
Gradually, the exhibits grew more pleasing (at least to me): Hendrix’s jacket, Beatles’ Sergeant-Pepper uniforms, Alice Cooper’s jackboots, Rob Halford’s leather coat… and, of course, tons of guitars.
I have to note though that while guitars were in abundance, there were hardly any drum sets. Surprising, considering the enormous footage split across the seven levels.
Then there were a few rooms with posters of musicians both well-known and ones I had never heard (or wanted to hear) of.
Closer to the apex of the glass pyramid there are a few nice-looking installations: one is a pair of confused (?) metal heads, and the other is a group of monsters from the Pink Floyd’s The Wall.
The last two levels were a special exhibitions dedicated to Rolling Stones on the occasion of their 50th anniversary (no kidding!). Honestly, I am not a big fan of the Stones, but I do respect their work and contribution to the rock legacy.
In conclusion, I want to say a few words about the most publicized and controversial part of this establishment—the actual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It is certainly a big deal for most bands to be inducted to the Hall of Fame, although particular stars treat it as an insult. And whereas it is a no-brainer to find such names as Beatles, Led Zeppelin, or Queen among the inductees, a lot of other ones leave you dumbfounded.
As if to add to the shady reputation of the award, the physical “hall of fame” is hidden in a dark narrow passage way next to a movie theater that on its own seems to serve no particular purpose. It is because of this very awkward placement and design of the Hall that quality photographs were difficult to produce.
Though we were swift in our exploration of the museum’s spacious grounds, the weather had degraded further, and it was time to move on in order to commit to our plans.
In just a few minutes we were already parked at the next location, the U.S.S. Cod Submarine. Having no desire to pay the admission fee (and, frankly, to be admitted), I examined the vessel ashore and quickly—for the rain would not cease—made my way back to the car.
By the way, it came as a total surprise that the length (height?) of a submarine’s periscope could reach such proportions.
The Rockefeller Park Greenhouse, where we arrived next, provided us a shelter from the bad weather, but only for a little while, because about a half of the collection is outdoors.
After the greenhouse our sallies become shorter and shorter, until the point when we started taking pictures from inside the car. Neither the Museum of Art nor Little Italy appeared very photogenic under such lighting conditions anyway.
Our final destination in Cleveland was the Lake View Cemetery. It is probably a beauty on a fine sunny day, but even the foul weather could not fully conceal its charm.
Content with the successful completion of the mission, we finally headed home. The time flew by once we left behind the mantle of rain and proceeded further East, towards the calm of the afternoon sunlit sky.
Just to avoid concluding this part of the photo diary with another account of a cemetery, I will add that Ohio has probably the best logo of all the ones we have seen thus far. So, here are a few pictures from the countryside showcasing one splendid logo of one splendid state.
Do not forget to check out the map: