Ashland, Ohio is best known as “The World Headquarters of Nice People,” as well as home to Grandpa’s Cheesebarn and a notorious speed trap on I-71, but it’s also the birthplace of Ernest Cline. The writer now lives in Austin, Texas, but he was born in my favorite pit stop between Columbus and Cleveland in 1972. Though he also wrote the screenplay for Fanboys, Cline is best known for the novel Ready Player One, part of which takes place in Columbus and which is being made into a movie with Steven Spielberg (another Ohio native) directing. This past week his second novel, Armada, was released, and to promote the book, Cline will be appearing for a Q&A and signing at the Barnes & Noble in Union Square today at 7pm.
Being Ohio-proud and, more specifically, Columbus-proud, I’m really happy to see success stories like that of Jeni Britton Bauer, especially since her husband and I used to play basketball together on a regular basis. She is becoming something of a household name and her ice cream can be more widely found throughout New York City since I first wrote about where to find it a few years ago. With one cookbook already under her wing, Jeni has just authored a second, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream Desserts, whose recipes are not confined to just ice cream, but include baked items like hot brown Bettys, berry cobblers, empanadas, and corn fritters.
To promote the new tome, Jeni is on a book tour and this evening makes a stop in Brooklyn. At 6:30pm, she’ll be hosting an ice cream party at the Brooklyn Kitchen. There will be a sundae bar, and they’ll be making boozy ice cream floats with beer and gin. And, of course, the book will be available for purchase and signing. Tickets are still available. She will also be at Seersucker tomorrow at 6pm, where they’ll be serving ginger frozen yogurt and moonshine with corn syrup custard and pecans.
While the version of the OSU campus where I spent my formative years record shopping and sneaking into clubs like Mean Mr. Mustard’s and Crazy Mama’s has long since been razed for corporate retailers, those who attended The Ohio State University no doubt have decidedly different memories. They perhaps resemble the photographs contained in The Ohio State University: Pathways to the Heart and Mind, a new coffee table (or “large format non-fiction,” as they say in the biz) book put together by photographer Robert Flischel. The idea came to him in 2008, when “the seasonal changes, dramatic art and architecture, lush landscapes and a reverence for tradition… were starting to weave a visual tapestry.”
It seems appropriate that Vol. 1 Brooklyn, a self-proclaimed “multimedia project hell-bent on bridging any and all gaps between various forms of high, middle and low culture,” is hosting the New York release party for Rust Belt Chic: The Cleveland Anthology, as the book seems nestled somewhere in those cultural cracks. The book was edited and published by Richey Piiparinen and Anne Trubek, two Cleveland-based writers who run a website of the same name exploring the competing strains of new urbanism and geographical identity (to attempt to summarize it neatly). I particularly like this excerpt from the editors’ description of the book:
All the selections in this anthology take up, explicitly or implicitly, the idea of Rust Belt Chic, a concept that has been bandied about by developers, urbanists and journalists as a possible way to revitalize Cleveland and similar cities.
The book is descriptive, not prescriptive. It tells stories of who we are, not who we are promising or pretending to be. Cleveland is not perfect. But it has a distinct sense of place. And in a world of ever-growing ephemerality and superficiality, our authenticity is an asset. We need to be ourselves, if only to resist the temptation of trying to falsely rebrand ourselves.
While tonight’s reading will include Trubek, most of the writers taking part are Clevelanders relocated to New York. Pete Beatty is originally from Berea and lives in Brooklyn; Mike DeCapite left Cleveland for New York in 1985, as did Phillip Turner; Noreen Malone grew up in Shaker Heights, but now lives in Brooklyn, while her sister Clare, who is also reading, lives in Washington DC; and R. Stephen Shodin was born in Youngstown and now lives in Greenpoint. Of course, Detroit is just as rusty (if not more so) than Cleveland, so it’s appropriate that the city will be represented by Ami Grecko, who also relocated to New York. The event takes place at Public Assembly and begins at 7pm.
As an Iron Chef and now co-host of food-centric daytime television show The Chew, Michael Symon is perhaps the most renowned chef Cleveland has ever produced. The charismatic cook, who still operates Lola, Lolita, and the B-Spot burger chain in Cleveland (as well as Detroit’s Roast), now splits his time between the Big Apple and his plummy hometown. As Cleveland, like much of the Midwest, has always been a meat and potatoes kind of town, it seems appropriate that Symon’s second cookbook is the meat-centric Carnivore: 120 Recipes for Meat Lovers. At 256 pages, the book includes not only such recipes as Ribs with Cleveland BBQ Sauce, Lamb Moussaka, and Bacon-Wrapped Rabbit Legs, but also information on cuts and techniques to help readers at the meat counter and in the kitchen.
Symon will be signing copies of Carnivore at the Columbus Circle location of Williams-Sonoma today at 5:30.
A native of Cleveland, Dave Hill is a comedic jack of all trades now living in New York. His resume includes hosting his own show with the Upright Citizens Brigade, contributing to This American Life, appearing on Comedy Central, MTV and HBO, and writing essays for Salon, The New York Times, and Huffington Post. He has also played in several bands, including, at one time, Cobra Verde. He recently published a book of his writing, Tasteful Nudes. To promote the book, he will be appearing at the Housing Works Bookstore Cafe at 7:00 this evening with Michael Ian Black, Rachel Dratch and Julie Klausner, and at the Bryant Park Reading Room at 12:30pm tomorrow with Janeane Garofalo. Check out the promo video for the book below.
It’s probably safe to say that when Colin Gawel and Joe Oestreich started playing music together they couldn’t have foreseen things going the way they have or even that they would still be at it on a semi-professional level 25 years later. Their band, Watershed, has been signed to (and unceremoniously dropped by) major label Epic, had another label go bankrupt on them, gone through several line-up changes, and generally traversed a bumpy road over its career. Even if the Columbus band’s brand of Midwestern power-pop isn’t your thing, you have to admire the guys for their determination and work ethic.
Oestreich, who has written essays for publications like Esquire and Sports Illustrated, recently had a book published that covers these very travails: Hitless Wonder: A Life in Minor League Rock and Roll. Meanwhile, Watershed has released a new album, Brick & Mortar, with Curry House Records, which is the imprint of the Columbus studio where they made the record. It’s their first album in five years and the first to feature guitarist and keyboardist Joe Peppercorn, also of The Whiles, who replaced Mark “Poochie” Borror in the interim. Watershed will play The Mercury Lounge tonight, but first Oestreich will read from his book at 7pm at The Half King. Check out the leadoff track from Brick & Mortar, “Little Mistakes,” below.