Number Twenty: Ohio

A Dick Gregory, I think, routine from the 60s, probably:

Gregory: Lord, why is my skin so dark?

Lord: To protect you from the African sun, my son.

G: Ok, why are my legs so long?

L: To help you run quickly through the jungle to catch game.

G: And why is my hair so kinky?

L: So it doesn’t get tangled in the brush as you run through the jungle.

G: So what the [expletive deleted] I am doing in Cleveland?

We found plenty to do in Cleveland without even going to the Air Show that was in progress.

You don’t need to very picky to understand that the Ohio & Erie Towpath Trail is not a railroad to bike path conversion; it is mule towpath to bike trail conversion. It now goes 81 miles south from Cleveland (to Bolivar) and the plan is to extend it another 30 miles to New Philadelphia. And longer range plans to make it part of a 300 plus mile network that goes from Lake Erie to the Ohio River in Cincinnati. Then on to other states.

We did the twenty-five miles between Parma and Cuyahoga Falls, which more or less followed the canal, or what’s left of it. The canal opened in 1827 and operated for 86 years. The canal freight business was dying from competition with trains but this canal was done in by a flood in 1913. Reopening would have taken a prohibitive amount of dredging. Now it would take a lot more dredging after removing 105 year old trees and building new locks.

In Cleveland and Akron, the trail goes mostly through aging (probably a euphemism) industrial areas; we didn’t go there. We rode a well maintained limestone path through historical towns, historical sites, and the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The park is purported to be one of the most visited national parks in the country. (It’s a lot easier to get to than Yosemite.)

Then there is the Cleveland Museum of Art. It is as good as you will find anywhere near here.

And a couple I didn’t mean to leave out.

If you have to ask what Hall of Fame, you need to go to Cleveland. The Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail is one of the Rails to Trails Conservancy hall of fame trails but that doesn’t get you a ten-foot high sign.

The first photo is part of a mural, with a not very subtle suggestion about the influence of Rock & Roll*, that hung over the bar in The Matrix, a soon to be iconic club. It was opened by a founding member of the Jefferson Airplane because the existing clubs didn’t like loud music. The club, the mural, and the mission were quite popular with other struggling local bands like Quicksilver and the Grateful Dead.

[* “Rock & Roll”, before it was a musical genre, was Black slang for a private activity that could not be mentioned on the radio.]

The last photo features a poster promoting a performance by the Staple Singers and top billing to the Rev. C. L. Franklin, with his daughter Aretha.

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