Growing up, I was the only boy in our pack of townies that wouldn’t jump off the falls in Chagrin Falls. It was dangerous and illegal, of course, and there were plenty of kids over the years who didn’t stick the landing – primarily because they dove instead of jumping out past the jutting rocks.  But everyone did it anyway. 

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Volume 3, Issue 12, Posted 5:28 PM, 06.04.2016

The Debate on Hiring Foreign Workers

Presidential candidates in this election season are debating the hiring of foreign workers by U.S. firms. The use of H1-B visas by companies is one major point of contention in this discussion.

Employers apply for H1-B visas so they can temporarily hire foreign workers in specialty occupations. Workers on this visa come to the U.S. specifically to work for the company that applied for the visa. They are required to return to their home country or renew their visa if laid off by the sponsoring company. An H1-B is granted for three years.  A maximum of 65,000 visas can be issued each year.

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Volume 3, Issue 11, Posted 4:07 PM, 05.04.2016

Little Big League

Little League coaches hold a special place in our spring and summer memories. It’s been this way since Lundy Lumber – coached by George and Bert Bebble – won the first Little League baseball game played back in 1939.

I’m not saying things haven’t changed since ol’ George and Bert.

My little league coach smelled like Dewers, chain-smoked like a champ, and paid us in cash for singles, doubles and triples. (“Home runs,” he always said, “are their own reward.”)

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Volume 3, Issue 11, Posted 3:43 PM, 05.05.2016

Designing Ideas

Design is a buzz word that permeates the business and entrepreneurial press. Publications such as the "Harvard Business Review, Inc." and "Fast Times' have devoted entire issues to the topic.

The design concept is connected to innovation and creativity, but design means something more. It is a process that depends on innovation and creativity to implement that process.

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Volume 3, Issue 10, Posted 3:20 PM, 04.07.2016

Camp Runamok

When my 11-year-old son went to his first overnight camp in Akron, the counselors encouraged my wife and I to write a reassuring letter that he could read on his first night.

For reasons I now find inexplicable, I decided to write a “humorous” letter from 10 years in the future. In it, I described his little brother’s college experience and his little sister’s new driver’s license.  I also told him we had moved to a new house in Westlake. I thought he’d find my creativity amusing.

By his own account, he cried for three nights.

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Volume 3, Issue 10, Posted 3:37 PM, 04.07.2016

Is Tipping Becoming Obsolete?

Recently some restaurants and other service businesses have started to ask customers not to tip their staff. Moreover, the Food Channel predicted a no-tipping future on its list of 2016 Top Ten Trends.

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Volume 3, Issue 9, Posted 2:47 PM, 03.04.2016

Reel Relief

March is when the Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF) sweeps in like a movie star hero and saves us from our own Hi-Def hibernation. Call it “Winter Washout”, “Slush Syndrome,” or anything you want, but it’s a fact that even the most ardent film fan is vulnerable to some sort of couch–based collapse that leaves one craving nothing more than  a remote control and a family-size bag of Ruffles for the winter homestretch.

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Volume 3, Issue 9, Posted 2:46 PM, 03.04.2016

Entrepreneurship and Depression

Studies of entrepreneurs recently have reported high levels of stress, isolation, fatigue and fear of failure. These are also symptoms associated with people suffering from clinical depression. The connection may not be a coincidence.

In the U.S. more than 30 million individuals age 12 or older have been diagnosed as clinically depressed. Antidepressants are the most prescribed medication for adults under the age of 45. Unfortunately, reports show a 50% failure rate for antidepressants. Half of the people taking them stop, with only 10% of them following up with doctors.

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Volume 3, Issue 8, Posted 3:54 PM, 02.03.2016

Police Officers Are People Too

A police officer is someone who voluntarily makes sacrifices to protect others. In some cases, they make the ultimate sacrifice and lose their lives. They enforce laws to protect society and respond to calls for service.  Officers make split- second decisions that citizens, the media, lawyers, judges, and politicians sometimes spend years debating. A split- second decision may be the last one an officer ever makes. If everything a police officer does is scrutinized, why would anyone want to be one? A police officer chooses to accept the risks and sacrifices.

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Volume 3, Issue 8, Posted 3:52 PM, 02.03.2016

Social Media as a Major Marketing Tool

Social media has become a major source of communication and entertainment for people around the world. Facebook is the biggest social media site with over 1.5 billion people having accounts. Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest are the next most popular sites.

For businesses, the popularity of social media has made it an attractive way for advertising and other types of promotion. This is especially true for smaller businesses as social media has the potential to reach their target customers at a relatively low cost.

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Volume 3, Issue 7, Posted 3:51 PM, 01.11.2016

A Drone for the New Year

New Year’s resolutions are just like your typical Cleveland Brown – unrealistic, misguided and prone to flame out almost immediately. So this year, why don’t we commit ourselves to one single resolution? Why not pick a singular element that really has the potential to improve things in 2016. (While I will concede that Vodka and Netflix are the obvious choices, they are not really in the spirit of my message.)

So, as an example of my one-resolution…resolution, I’ll go first. I’m going to buy a drone.  

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Volume 3, Issue 7, Posted 3:51 PM, 01.11.2016

Greeting Customers: Tricky During Holidays

For retailers, in addition to being the busiest time of the year, the holidays have become more complicated with the controversy over how to greet customers. The traditional greeting of “Merry Christmas” has been deemed politically incorrect and possibly offensive to some.

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Volume 3, Issue 6, Posted 2:41 PM, 11.30.2015

Food from the Fringe

End-of-year Food and Drink wrap-up pieces are tough for food writers to dish out. They have to be hip and deliciously descriptive. A humor writer's recipe, however, lands somewhere between cold pizza and warm beer. 

For example, I’m half-serious when I say that the highlight of my food year was when Dunkin' Donuts widened their curvy, éclair-thin drive-thru lane. No longer will java junkies bounce their mini-vans against the curb like a 7 year-old riding the antique cars at Cedar Point. Now, we are cleared – fritter in hand – to navigate safely back onto Lorain Road.

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Volume 3, Issue 6, Posted 11:54 AM, 12.01.2015

Veterans: Good Entrepreneurs and Employees

Veterans Day celebrates the sacrifices of those who have served in the military. These veterans need meaningful work when transitioning to society. Entrepreneurship can provide opportunities for veterans to own or work for businesses.

Veterans have specific issues finding work when they return to civilian life. The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs said 95% of veterans cannot live on their military pension alone and must look for other sources of income. More than 53% of vets experience an extended period of unemployment.

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Volume 3, Issue 5, Posted 3:43 PM, 11.05.2015

A Slice of Confusion

I was racing sundown with my lawnmower one evening, when my son started a pizza protest in the front yard. He was hungry. I, on the other hand, was hungry, hot, and grumpy with grass allergies.  So, when I finally relented, I was quick to grab my phone out of our minivan, skipping the trip inside to find my reading glasses.  Glasses aren’t required when all you have to do is google "Fairview Dominos."

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Volume 3, Issue 5, Posted 3:54 PM, 11.05.2015

Interest Rates: The Bad and Good News

One of the reasons for the recent roller coaster ride in the stock market has been the anticipation of a possible increase in interest rates. While the effect of interest rates can be seen in the trading of stocks of larger businesses on the major exchanges, its influence on smaller businesses may not be as obvious.

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Volume 3, Issue 4, Posted 1:28 PM, 10.11.2015

Kale Yes!

Area food-fanatics rejoiced as Whole Foods – the high-profile grocery gang that super-sized the natural-food concept, and who once prompted the singer Jewel to tweet “At Whole Foods... Dear Lord, lead me not into temptation” – opened the doors to its brand new location in Rocky River. It was a highly anticipated event that – if nothing else – finally concluded the “Whole Foods is coming" rumor, which simmered in River for what felt like an eternity.

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Volume 3, Issue 4, Posted 1:23 PM, 10.11.2015

School Daze

There are plenty of times during the year when life erupts into a full-blown fire drill. You can’t ramp up for the holidays, vacation, or the relatives without feeling like you’re on a toboggan ride. But in my world, the ultimate calendar chaos unleashes itself in August. One moment, our summer is Fourth-of-July fabulous and, the next moment, a Halloween catalog lands on our doorstep like a grenade, blowing August to pieces.

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Volume 3, Issue 3, Posted 3:29 PM, 09.01.2015

Crowd Pleasing Fall Drinks

Fall is my favorite time of year. There is nothing better than fresh apples, campfires and, most of all, tailgating!  It’s always fun to be the one who brings a delicious drink that can be pre-made and ready to go. The best part about Hard Cider Sangria is that it is super versatile. This recipe is served cold and can be made beforehand with the hard cider added at just before serving. You can play around by swapping fresh cider, mulling spices, or all the new apple infused liquors.

A hot drink is great for taking the chill out of the air and for sharing during a gathering. A tasty variation is this classic toddy that is a creamy and rich Hot Buttered Rum.

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Volume 3, Issue 3, Posted 3:34 PM, 09.01.2015

Catch You at The FlipSide

While driving past the Old River Shopping area, I saw a sign that said FlipSide. I did the normal thing - Googled it and then had to check it out. Hmmm, burgers.

There is an inviting bar with a plethora of draft craft beer varieties, 17 in all. The wine menu is simple but better than basic. For those looking for a burger and a shake, FlipSide does not disappoint - from The Chef’s Special (peanut butter, pretzel, chocolate), Apple or Blueberry Pie, and Date Shake ($5.50).

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Volume 3, Issue 2, Posted 12:33 PM, 08.05.2015

Welcome to the New Season


During this season of revival and renewal, we are pleased to announce the beginning of Phase II of the Rockport Observer community-media initiative: a printed newspaper along with a community Web site, Facebook and YouTube sites serving the Fairview Park, Rocky River, and West Park area, under the stewardship of LuAnn Leonard, the new publisher of The Rockport Observer.

LuAnn brings energy, enthusiasm, and a personal aesthetic to the Rockport Observer project. She also brings a strong sense of mission and purpose to making the Rockport Observer something to look forward to: a small package of enjoyment and enrichment, neighbors speaking with neighbors, schools and businesses. It’s a community forum in which issues and ideas can be discussed, a way to create conversation and build bridges throughout the Rockport community.

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Volume 3, Issue 1, Posted 3:33 PM, 04.16.2013

SPRING FORWARD | Become a Member of the Rockport Ensemble

The Rockport Observer is a community media initiative designed to make use of the latest technology - via the Web site, our Facebook page, and our Twitter feed - to create a dynamic interactive platform for the Fairview Park and Rocky River community. It's a virtual podium, front porch, and bulletin board open to all for the purposes of enhanced civic engagement and engaging neighborhood conversation.

The philosophy of and the mission propelling The Rockport Observer is to create a synthesized media experience that serves as a forum for:

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Volume 3, Issue 1, Posted 8:58 PM, 04.28.2013

Food Trucks Gaining Popularity

Entrepreneurs look for trends to start new businesses. Food trucks are a recent trend that is catching on. These mobile food providers are becoming popular all over the country, and are quickly gaining popularity in the Cleveland area.

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Volume 3, Issue 1, Posted 3:31 PM, 06.29.2015

Every Day is Taco Tuesday on Detroit Road

Last year, some friends and I went on an impromptu taco crawl in Lakewood, where three restaurants featuring tacos opened within months of each other. The unique thing about tacos is that because they lend themselves to thousands of different variations, it comes down to your personal preferences and to the care taken by their creator. There really aren’t bad tacos, there are just good, better, and best. I can tell that there is some guy at Barrio (Lakewood) like me, who lays in bed at night and thinks about what they are having for lunch tomorrow. They also taste some painstakingly braised meat and think, "OOOH! You know what would be good with this?" For me, Barrio in Lakewood is the standard for a unique, well-thought-out taste combination. Also, their tacos are individually wrapped in foil for those of us who need a taco bib.

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Volume 3, Issue 1, Posted 3:31 PM, 06.29.2015

A Senior in the Electronic World

The lack of electronic comprehension is a plague on most senior citizens. I, for one, desperately need help.

Hey, medical professionals, this could be a real moneymaker. Would it be possible to establish a brain “re-habituation” division? A couple of one week sessions in all new things electronic - computers, cameras, cars, and remote anything. It could even be bigger than knee surgery or Silver Sneakers. And maybe our kids will pay for it to stop the constant barrage of needy technical questions.

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Volume 2, Issue 11, Posted 4:42 PM, 06.07.2015

New Businesses Are Decreasing

Past issues of this column and other studies suggest new businesses are the most important source of new jobs in the U.S. economy. They also account for much of the innovation and productivity that create overall economic growth.

Despite this fact, the number of businesses being started in the U.S. is decreasing. New businesses need to replace dying firms. This reported decrease in start-ups slows the growth of the overall economy.

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Volume 2, Issue 11, Posted 4:33 PM, 06.07.2015

Entrepreneurs’ Rights and Discrimination

The passage of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Act has raised questions about the right of business owners to practice their religion and their obligation not to discriminate against any customer.

The Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act provides that a state or local government action may not substantially burden a person's right to the exercise of religion. The key here is the definition of substantial burden.

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Volume 2, Issue 10, Posted 3:40 PM, 05.09.2015

The Rockport Foodie: The Mellow Mushroom

With such deep tradition and customer loyalty, it is always interesting when a trendy new pizza joint opens. The Mellow Mushroom opened recently to much fanfare from my social network friends who live in other areas. It offers salads, hoagies, specialized pizzas and calzones, gluten-free crusts, and a variety of healthy and vegetarian options.

My friend and I went for lunch to the new Mellow Mushroom on Detroit Road. Upon entering, I noticed the colorful walls and rock & roll décor.

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Volume 2, Issue 10, Posted 3:37 PM, 05.09.2015

Introducing the Rockport Foodie

The goal of any restaurant critic should be to offer a relatively educated opinion about a dining experience to the public. In the day and age of smart phones, Yelp, food blogs, and online magazines, getting someone’s two cents isn’t necessarily even that valuable. One of the things that is missing in most critiques is context.

Recently, I walked into a local spot known for creative hot dogs and sandwiches. It also offers breakfast, lunch, dinner, and (my favorite) online ordering for takeout. Some of the local “Best of’s” were just published and River Dog Café won in one category and was a contender in some others.

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Volume 2, Issue 9, Posted 4:41 PM, 03.31.2015

Entrepreneurs Need Good Legal Assistance

A couple of months ago, this column discussed the need for an entrepreneur to choose an accountant as part of his business team. This column addresses the need for a good attorney to help with legal issues when starting and running a business.

As with choosing an accountant, it is critical to find an attorney who specializes in working with entrepreneurial ventures. A good criminal attorney may not know much about corporate or commercial law.

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Volume 2, Issue 7, Posted 11:13 AM, 01.13.2015

Silent Victims of Civil Unrest

Most of the media coverage of last month’s civil unrest in Ferguson, Missouri focused on the legal issues leading to the protests and rioting after a grand jury decided not to indite a white police officer who shot a black man. What the media did not spend much time reporting was the massive loss of property for small business owners caused by the riots.

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Volume 2, Issue 6, Posted 2:39 PM, 12.12.2014

An Essay: November

Perhaps it is the cruelest month of all to those who live in northern Ohio.  The rich amber, gold and purple leaves falling from the exposed brown tree bark remind us of the coming cold winter. The trees are weeping their leaves in winds that start out as lukewarm breezes and turn frigid in minutes. Blue skies turn a brooding grey in a heartbeat. It is a melancholy goodbye to summer and the beginning of winter.

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Volume 2, Issue 5, Posted 2:59 PM, 11.12.2014

Teammates Critical to Entrepreneurial Success

Part of becoming a successful entrepreneur is knowing when and how to choose professionals to assist in the starting and running of a business. This month’s column will discuss issues related to choosing an accountant. The November column will examine the process of working with an attorney.

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Volume 2, Issue 4, Posted 11:52 AM, 10.02.2014

Family Businesses Survive the Test of Time

Family businesses that are managed by multiple generations of family members can create continuity in those firms. But keeping the business in the family may be more complicated than it first appears. Overall, fewer than 30% of family businesses survive to the second generation and just 10% hold on through the third.

While many founders of companies hope or plan for one or more of their children or other family members to take over the business, sometimes the children have other ideas. Children often do not have the same enthusiasm as their parents had in starting and growing the family firm.

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Volume 2, Issue 1, Posted 5:56 PM, 07.03.2014

Probate? Non-Probate? What's the Difference?

Spring has made an appearance, then shrunk back behind a curtain of white, and then reappeared!  The time has come to clean up the garage, pump the bicycle tires full of air, rake out the flower beds, and begin anew!  The time for indoor activities is coming to a close.

Yet there is still time to complete your New Year’s Resolution and finally get that estate planning paperwork completed! You may recall the four basic estate planning documents from my article in the January issue (Vol 01, Issue 7) of this publication:  The Will, the Durable Power of Attorney, the Living Will, and the Healthcare Power of Attorney.  This article concerns one aspect of The Will, properly called the Last Will and Testament.

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Volume 1, Issue 11, Posted 4:19 PM, 04.30.2014

Does an Increase in the Minimum Wage Hurt Small Businesses?

Much has been said and written recently about raising the Federal or state minimum wage. One of the groups concerned about an increase in the minimum wage is the businesses that have employees earning this entry level amount.

One of the challenges of writing this column was to get people to voice their opinions on the minimum wage issue. Several practicing business people declined offering an opinion on this topic presumably due to its politically charged nature.

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Volume 1, Issue 11, Posted 3:56 PM, 04.30.2014

An Essay on Why You Should Write

A friend recently asked me about my passionate drive to write. To compose original short stories. Pure fiction. So, let me preface my reply with a succinct response: Writing seems to be a dying art.

We all know why. It's the computer. It robs us of simple pleasures. When did you last receive a handwritten letter? One written by a former student once taught by the nuns? A work of art. It takes the author extra time and effort to give you the "gift" of their effort.

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Volume 1, Issue 11, Posted 4:30 PM, 04.30.2014

Popular Option for Starting a New Business: Franchising

One of the more popular ways for starting a new business is to buy and operate a franchise. While most people are familiar with the big competitors in this market such as McDonald’s, franchises are available in a wide range of businesses.

In addition to restaurants, automobile dealerships and other more visible retailers, franchising opportunities exist in many service industries, including home repair, business services, and real estate. The Quick Serve Restaurants category is the largest in the franchise industry, while aging Baby Boomers have created one of the newer and faster growing categories — healthcare.

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Volume 1, Issue 10, Posted 5:37 PM, 04.02.2014

When Political Parties Become a Bore

Next week, the absentee ballots will be going out for the May Primaries.  Every two years, members of each of the political parties get to vote in the top-tier leadership of their parties.  There are 33 Districts and each District gets one man and one woman.  This is Ohio rule for both the Democratic and the Republican Parties. But do the citizen voters really have a choice?

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Volume 1, Issue 10, Posted 2:02 PM, 04.03.2014

New Year Creates New Business for Health Care

The New Year brings on resolutions for many. For those of us who overindulged during the holidays, one of those changes is often to take better care of ourselves. For entrepreneurs trying to help people become more fit, each New Year can bring new customers. Moreover, recent reports of increased obesity levels in the U.S. have added fuel to the fitness trend. 

Despite a meager increase of 0.1% in disposable income over the past five years, the fitness sector has grown at an average annual rate of 2.3%. This growth is from fitness clubs, pilates and yoga studios, boxing gyms and clubs, personal trainers, fitness DVD production and on-line sporting apparel sales.

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Volume 1, Issue 7, Posted 12:50 PM, 01.07.2014

Family Affair | Jody Candow meets the challenges of balancing family and operating her full-service Kameryn Rose Salon and Spa on Linda St. in Rocky River

The first thing Jody Candow does after getting up at 6 AM is quietly slip out of her Lakewood home and drive herself to Boot Camp.

“It’s where you work with a trainer every morning,” said Mrs. Candow.

Boot camp fitness mixes calisthenics like pushups, crunches, and other body weight exercises with interval training. The difference lies in the intensity.

“It gets my workout in, which is partly to keep me sane.”

Back from the gym, her house has come to life; her husband, Rich, a Lakewood mail carrier, is preparing for work, and her four children, teenager Riley, twelve-year-old Kameryn Rose, and five-year-old twins Carter and Ethan, are on the lookout for their mother.

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Volume 1, Issue 3, Posted 9:38 AM, 07.27.2012

Graphic Language | A Review of 'My Friend Dahmer,' A Graphic Novel by Derf Backderf

My good and long-time friend, Jerry, who has been a comic book fan as well as a voracious reader and English scholar for as long as I've known him - and who also knew who Harvey Pekar was long before the Cleveland graphic novel pioneer and American Splendor legend ever appeared on David Letterman - he has been giving me - or offering - comic books to borrow and read for years, to which I have always demurred. Maybe next time.

Meanwhile, on a parallel trek, I have been following Derf's career - Cleveland-born and based artist and cartoonist John Backderf of The City fame - since his initial days in the Cleveland Edition, among the first national wave of alternative weekly newspapers that served as a Sid Caesar's Show of Shows for many renowned writers. Derf was the perfect visual complement for the Edition, a nice trine to Greg Paul's iconic design and Bill Gunlocke's ensemble of distinct and evocative writing voices, many of whom have gone to distinguish themselves in various writing genres and media.

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Volume 1, Issue 3, Posted 8:06 PM, 07.17.2012

Rising from the Ruins | Rockport Writer Remembers Friend Who Died in 9/11

I was only one when 9/11 happened, but its effects are felt by even some of the youngest generations. 9/11 is personal to me because one of my cousins was a New York police officer and was cleaning up after the attacks. I recently visited the memorial in New York City and it is a beautiful sight. But it is also very chilling to see thousands upon thousands of names of people whom you didn’t know but somebody did.

My mother lost a friend in the 9/11 attacks. Her name was Flo. But she wasn’t just Flo, she was Disco Flo. Disco Flo could break the ice anywhere and with anyone. Disco Flo worked in the South Tower and her specialty was marine insurance. She was a loving sister, daughter and aunt. Flo was also a fabulous friend. Even though I never knew Flo, I feel connected to her. I also feel like she’s not gone.

When you first reach the memorial, you have to go through an almost endless line of security checkpoints. But it’s all worth it once you get inside the memorial. Inside the memorial, the air is solemn. The two famous pools are where the World Trade Center used to be. The pools are only a couple yards apart. Along the edge to one side is a bank of touch-screen computers in which people can look up names and find which pool they are at and where.

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Volume 1, Issue 2, Posted 1:51 PM, 09.10.2012

Faux Christmas Tree, Faux Christmas Tree

OUR CHRISTMAS TREE TURNED turned 40 this year. It’s artificial, of course. One of those where you insert the branches into designated holes on poles. Each year, it gets more wobbly, loses more needles, is extremely time consuming to assemble and takes up way too much space. But the memories dragging down those fake branches are so real you can almost see them.

My grandparents bought it in 1971, surrendering to the modern age of pre-fab yuletide. Over the years my two brothers, my sister and I enjoyed emptying our second set of stockings (our grandparents spoiled us) on the floor beneath its evergreen plastic fantastic splendor.

Grandma died in February of 1986. That Christmas, Grampa still put up the tree, and every year after that until he passed away in 1992. I, the oldest grandchild, inherited the tree, still in its original box, with all of its lights, the instructions and a handmade sign from Grampa that said “Bought Dec. 1971.” I gave the tree a new home that Christmas, in the living room of my first place on Clifton in Lakewood. In 1996, my husband and I decorated the tree with a lovely collection of new ornaments we got as a wedding shower gift from my great aunt and cousins. Those ornaments are some of the most thoughtful gifts we’ve ever received.

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Volume 1, Issue 2, Posted 2:18 PM, 12.14.2011

Getting in Tune | A Couple of Musical Musings on Fang Island, Best Coast, and Giving It All You Got

My good friend, Matt Weiland, is the editor of the Rockport Observer, and when he began the endeavor, he asked me to write about anything that’s on my mind. When it comes to the World Wide Web, he reminds me: “Content is king.”

In that respect, I’ve decided to write something for the Rock-O that even I can’t describe. I think it’s a concert review – or an album review – but I’m not sure. Maybe it’s neither. Just a commentary on live music in Northeast Ohio.

I was inspired (or, in one case, uninspired) to write this piece after seeing back-to-back live shows at the Beachland Ballroom and the Grog Shop on Cleveland’s east side last week.

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Volume 0, Issue 0, Posted 9:50 AM, 08.03.2012