City Beautiful - Heart Bombs Carnegie South -Fifth Church -Variety Theatre

Submitted by lmcshane on Mon, 02/23/2015 - 12:01.

 With all of the entrenched BS artists in CLE - it is refreshing to encounter young professionals determined to get recognition for significant cultural landmarks that matter to our local history.  Please support their efforts.  

https://www.facebook.com/citybeautifulcleveland

 

 

The Carnegie South is still in limbo due to Councilman's Cummins push for CPL board to sell, Fifth Church of Christ is symbolic of City of Cleveland Landmark Commission FAIL (see also nearby potholes) - but a rare bright spot in dreary, winter CLE - Friends of Variety Theater are showing some LOVE for their great neighborhood landmark:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Friends-of-the-Historic-Variety-Theatre/219445750326

 

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I am just repubishing this here to keep the memory - loss in 2015 of beloved Steve's Lunch -poetry of Blue O:

5004 Lorain Ave
Cleveland, OH 44102

 

It's St. Patricks Day 2015, and today I drove to Steve's Lunch when I got wind that the place was on fire. I had to identify the body of the Cleveland dining zone I grew to love more than anything on that demented strip of Lorain Rd. 



Legendary isn't the word for a place like Steve's Lunch. The interior color was a kind of yellow that can only be experienced and would be impossible to replicate. The items you could order were written on a dry erase board so faded that it was hard to read. It wasn't like the writing was smudged or anything like that, but the cold, stale breath of Father Time had weathered the writing on it. Father Time is indeed undefeated, and he sure was hard on Steve's Lunch. The specials were written on bizarre neon paper with sharpie markers and randomly taped to different parts of the wall. Last time I was in there, I asked why they had a wooden door instead of the old screen door type thing they had, and they said they had been robbed and added the wooden house door as a security measure (WTF?). The OG Steve who founded the place had long since passed away, but there was a xeroxed, blown up copy of his obituary taped to the coffee maker. Oh, and jukeboxes at the counter! They were out of commission, but if you ever find the INSTRUMENTAL version of "Hey Ya" by Outkast in another jukebox anywhere in the midwest USA, l'd be shocked. There was even a circular, spilled-drink stain ON THE CEILING.



This is the inverted, infinite, IMPOSSIBLE ultra-void that Steve's Lunch existed in. An utter vacuum where logic, time, and everything in the dimension we know is inapplicable. 



The food was as strange as the interior. The hot dogs were great, but anybody who has ever eaten there knows that this food damages your body in unspeakable ways. It was a part of the charm, a "take one for the team" mentality. I can't count how many times Steve III (or maybe he was Steve VI) burned my fries. He once passed out STANDING UP at the griddle and was too injured to work. They also had mystery items that nobody bought like the "Western Sandwich". My pal from Montreal came down once and ordered it and even the cook didn't know what it was. 



Interior and food aside, Steve's Lunch had a vibe that operated on its own terms. You could go on a Saturday night because you'd think it'd be wild in there, and it'd be completely empty. Or you could go on a Wednesday during a blizzard and the place would be packed with turnt up heads for no reason at all! I've seen a woman at the counter eating a hotdog turned upside down with all the chili and shit falling all over the place and when someone next to her asked if she was ok, he got a full plate of fries to the face. A buddy of mine drunkenly blew a big fat gator tail of coke off the counter while my other pal was passed out on the counter. Dooley once threatened to taze a mexican, a hispanic, a black dude, a white dude all while efficiently helping get orders out in a timely fashion. What are we going to do without this place?



I remember spending time at Steve's when I didn't know what to do with myself or where to go. If I had anxiety in the middle of the night, sometimes I'd just go to Steve's. In the joy of company, or in the sadness of my solitude, Steve's was a place I knew would never change and always be there. It couldn't change, it was impossible. I even spent a shitty Christmas Eve there a few years back with a pal. Everything is different now.



Everybody at the scene of the fire today said "it just exploded". As a Clevelander, and as a guy who understands the metaphysical nuances of life as it pertains to Steve's Lunch, this realization couldn't be more profound. IT EXPLODED. 



This place was open for 60 YEARS straight, over half a century. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and the damn place goes skyward on St Patricks Day! This is the Cleveland equivalent of 9/11. The last time Steve's WILLFULLY closed was when Kennedy got assassinated!



Sad as I am to see Steve's Lunch go, it's demise couldn't have been any better. The engine just seized up, it's legs gave out. The place just blew up. Amazing! Now when speaking in myths about how singular Steve's Lunch was, when the next out of towner asks to visit the place you can just say: "no, it blew up." 



I'm thankful for the times I spent there with the people I love and for the great hot dogs. 



I'll close my long overdue review with a Jacques Derrida quote that jives situationally:



"What else is there to love anyway? One cannot love a monument, a work of architecture, an institution as such except in an experience itself precarious in its fragility;: it hasn't always been there, it will not always be there, it is finite. And for this reason I love it as mortal, through its birth and its death, through the ghost or the silhouette of its ruin, of my own - which it already is or already prefigures. How can we love except in this finitude? Where else would the right to love indeed the love of right, come from?"

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