Inquiring Thug Minds Wonder "Why You Taking Pictures, Man?"

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Sun, 10/07/2007 - 11:12.

Now that I'm settling into East Cleveland, expect to see posted to REALNEO and my other communities many amazing pictures of urban cores of this NEO-Plum... healthy, ill and dead.

Problem Marathon at Lakeview and Euclid

Today's REALNEO header features a typical Saturday midnight at a particularly lawless place in NEO, at the intersection of Euclid Avenue and Lakeview Road... a few blocks from the UCI Police HQ, CIA, Case and UH... in a no-mans-land that is both in East Cleveland and Cleveland and so subject to no authority save the manager of the Marathon Gas Station there, which is the community-center of this dead-zone.

When I was there, last night, there were 100s of thugs lurking, bitching, dealing and hustling in and around the Marathon and surrounding slum-lorded apartments lining this dead-end stretch of Lakeview, terminating at the cemetery. Do not make the mistake of ever driving this street if you are faint of heart.

I was there to get gas as I was patrolling East Cleveland looking for such crises in my neighborhood (I live a few blocks from here), to begin thoroughly documenting the failures of our community. There are many forces and tools available to end such outright lawlessness, and in the process educate the community on proper conduct and provide valuable resources and services, not to mention much higher quality of life, property values, health and prosperity for residents.

I believe effective use of Information Technology (IT) holds the key to eliminating the blight of such lawlessness and I am in the process of proving that. In this instance, the fact that I was taking photos made everyone at the Marathon very nervous, and one thug asked me why I was taking pictures and I said "for the Internet" - his buddy said "You'd better watch yourself... they are pictured below, and probably on "Wanted" posters in police stations all over NEO. Perhaps the cops should start reading REALNEO!

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be careful

 It's going to take everyone a while to figure you out.  Also, don't assume the worse.  One night, I had six tall scary guys walk in on me right before closing.  It was dark and creepy outside and my 5'3" coworker and I did not seem to stand a chance.  They were liberally using f-this and n-this.  I said to them, "Come on guys."   They said, "my bad."  And you will not believe this--they sat around looking at sports magazines and talking basketball and college offers. 

Living with the good and bad

I know lots of hard core folks on these streets and have lots of friends here, and all are armed and dangerous. I saw a friend of a friend let his Pitt loose on a cat and rip it to shreds. My house has been attacked several times, and I bought a Cane Corso and keep my Weimaraner here on guard duty at night. I have installed video surveillance cameras and security lights on the property and an AlarmForce system monitored by the police. We here all know how serious is the potential for violence at any time. Saturday nights are the most explosive... downright insane, at Lakeview and Euclid. When I came upon the photo above, a fight had just been broken up by the Marathon manager... really, the whole scene has the constant intensity of a fight, and the manager is just keeping the gloves on everyone, hoping for the best. The female clerk cowers behind the register. She and the manager appear to be Arab and I imagine they are family, and they know they can get shot at any time, but it is worth it to them. It is my understanding when they applied for the permit to open this Marathon they said they would not sell alcohol, which they do. They do not seem to use any real security, and they allow customers to loiter and disrupt their property and all that is in the environs. I suppose if they get killed they brought it on themselves, as they could keep the customers moving, run a respectable operation, and enhance the neighborhood so fewer dangerous people frequented the establishment. Otherwise, and soon enough, you get what happened recently at the Sunoco at the end of my street, where several thugs in the parking lot were killed. Since then, helped by the fact the city closed down the bar and flop house across the street, that corner has been quiet, haunted by memorial tags to those who died there.

Disrupt IT

Hope and Sanity

While my initial comment may seem naive--I still hold out for maybe one of the lives you portray in your photo or describe in your encounters.  It is sad that life in the city means the devaluation of life, the proliferation of cheap illegal guns, the mistreatment of women, immigrants (that family you describe running the Marathon most likely has to pay off their debt to the person who brought them over), cruelty to animals, and profane bravado to so many people.  In your nod to Habitat--you allude to the other side.  The front porches, the tree-lined streets.  People will wonder why are you doing this?  Some one has to change the culture and set a standard.  I have to hold out hope for you, your family (and me).  Otherwise, what's the point?
I also hope to offer you some consolation in knowing that Gregory Reese and the wonderful staff at the East Cleveland Public Library may provide an oasis of sanity to you and your family in your new neighborhood.  Sanity.  We all need more of it.

Good and Bad Building at House on Roxbury

I've had many bad experiences with people on Roxbury and in the area (Cleveland and East Cleveland) - racism, theft, intimidation... a threat on a worker's life and several threats on my life - and that is just with the people who were hired and paid to work on the job... I don't know if anyone on the outside has caused problems at all. And, even though I have had aweful work and personal experiences with most hires, contractors and subs, I have had good experiences with enough, and seen some good changes in all, to believe initiatives such as this make a positive difference in the people who are part of the effort. I see individuals on the crew working as a team and becoming outcome-oriented, getting interested in the historic character of the building and the quality of the original workmanship, and... better late than never... caring about the quality of their own workmanship in restoring the building. For those on the team who have good character, this project has been a valuable work and learning experience - I'll ask them to share more on that on realneo themselves.

Disrupt IT

there goes the neighborhood

Norm, we ran into a good bit of that in Boston in the late '60s, in Atlanta in the mid-70s, and in Cleveland's Archwood-Denison neighborhood in the early '80s. It's about turf; you're coming in on somebody else's turf, turf they control by intimidation and being indecent. You are the harginger of decency and productivity. You are a threat. As they're saying among themselves as they gaze upon your industrious activity: "There goes the neighborhood."

Hang in there; it gets better. In Charlestown, MA, in 1968 we had a standdown with a mob of neighbors, whom we kept at bay until police arrived, but we had a shotgun and a rifle. Sometimes these things are necessary, and we had after all let off the emergency brake in one of their cars and let it roll away from blocking our driveway and crash into the monument at the traffic circle.

A few weeks later they retaliated by busting out the sliding glass doors, breaking all the downstairs china fixtures, and writing messages with feces all over the walls.

Recapturing equity is not easy; the trick is to minimize the price of the recapture, and be safe and sensible at the same time. Quite often you find that the neighborhood does not play by the same rules you do.

Riverside Cemetery and Lakeview Cemetery

I also want to encourage your family to enjoy Lakeview Cemetery.  I know it sounds strange to say it, but when I lived in University Circle in the eighties--it was my favorite spot in the city for birdwatching, for reflecting, for long walks.  Now, I have Riverside Cemetery, which is just as comforting a place.  I go there and pretend to jog.  I am not alone.  Metrohealth employees come on their lunch break, too.  Sanity breaks.  There will be a horticultural tour coming up this Saturday 10/20 at Lakeview.  Lakeview Cemetery was the original Holden Arboretum, so it has many unusual plant species.  The tour starts at 10 a.m.

From the PD HAPPENINGS 10/13 Metro B2

The public is invited to join a horticultural walking tour of Lake View Cemetery at 10 a.m. next Saturday, starting at the Garfield Monument. A horticulturist will lead the tour through the cemetery, discussing the variety of plants, trees and shrubs. Cost is $5. Reservations are required by calling 216-421-2665. Cemetery entrances are at 12316 Euclid Ave. and at Mayfield and Kenilworth roads in Cleveland Heights.