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Cleveland is a swingin' place [Apr. 20th, 2006|02:09 pm]
[Current Mood |cynicalcynical]

Starting tomorrow and continuing until Monday, May 1, the mile of roadway that I walk from work to school Monday through Thursday will be closed. Closed to vehicular traffic, and I suspect closed to foot traffic.

Why? Because Cleveland is host to the Second Unit filming for Spiderman III. Not some single-shots or brief scenes. 10 full days of shooting. That's a boatload of footage, when none of the stars are expected to make an appearance.

My first thought upon hearing about this was, "Coooool!!"

My second thought was, "Why?"

Why Cleveland? Peter Parker lives on in New York City. What are they doing here? I mean, downtown Cleveland, particularly along that stretch of Euclid, is a dump, frankly. Vacant storefront after vacant, boarded up storefront. darlox wrote the other day about the unfortunate contrast between Cleveland and Pittsburgh, both cities that fell victim to the death of the Rust Belt but only one of which (and it's not us) has succeeded in revitalizing itself. Three of the students from Israel with whom I took last winter's seminar are coming to Cleveland in June for another class; walking up Euclid the other day and remembering how vibrant Tel Aviv was, I'm genuinely embarrassed to have them see our fair city.

So what the heck is Hollywood seeing that I wasn't?

And then walking to school yesterday, past the busy set dressers transforming vacant windows into lively storefronts, I realized that the appeal is the emptiness of this street. With hardly any store owners trying to keep business thriving, the producers of SIII had very little negotiating to accomplish. They don't have to take other people's window dressing out of the front and replace it later. They don't have signage to cover.

Downtown Cleveland along Euclid Avenue is so deserted, it's practically a studio backlot all on its own.

That made me imagine the promotional campaign to entice film sets here:

"Come to Cleveland - we won't get in your way."

"Cleveland - the home of readymade false fronts."

"Downtown Cleveland. You need to blow something up? We'll never notice the difference!"

"Clevelanders avoid their own downtown, so you won't have to!"

It's sort of sad and lame, all at the same time.

[User Picture]From: mycorethoughts
2006-04-20 06:18 pm (UTC)
"Cleveland -- the cheapest, easiest date you'll ever have!"
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From: blumindy
2006-04-20 06:22 pm (UTC)
Remember in Spidey 2 he is riding through the Manhattan skyscrapers on an elevated train fighting with Doc Ock? (http://www.imdb.com/gallery/ss/0316654/Ss/0316654/DF16088-16185RD2.jpg?path=gallery&path_key=0316654 )

That is the el in Chicago; Manhattan has nothing like that.

It's sad what you are saying about Cleveland and I get it because I grew up south of Chicago, where the Illinois and Indiana steel industry lived and died. Some of that area is 20th century ghost town just like some of the deserted 19th century ghost towns of the Wild West. Sad.
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[User Picture]From: habiliments
2006-04-20 06:54 pm (UTC)
That's pretty much what I was going to say - I thought they made it pretty clear in the second one that they don't really give two shits about whether or not Spiderman's NYC looks or acts anything like the real NYC. But given my dislike for the second one, I'd kind of love it if the third came out looking as mislocated as Rumble in the Bronx Vancouver.
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[User Picture]From: kmg_365
2006-04-20 08:09 pm (UTC)
Ahhh...Rumble in the Bronx... I think I remember that movie. Isn't that the one that has the snowy mountain peaks in the distance?
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[User Picture]From: mishamish
2006-04-20 06:25 pm (UTC)
DOUBLY sad and lame in that they never gave me a call back to be in that shoot. :-(

However, I know what you mean, and I'm a fairly recent Cleveland transplant.

Then again, where I'm originally from, a sign of neglect and decay is an un-tilled cotton field (which you can really only distinguish about three months out of the year anyway), so... maybe I'm not the best judge.
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[User Picture]From: lyssabard
2006-04-20 06:26 pm (UTC)
Pittsburgh revitalized?

Heh. No, not really. The economy is shot--ask B abt working for Allegheny Co. and the debt and the CYA going. (PS, his mom works for the Heinz Foundation).
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[User Picture]From: darlox
2006-04-20 06:31 pm (UTC)
I've GOT to chime in on this one... we did some contract work for awhile for Allegheny Cty. I'd almost have to say that Pittsburgh is revitalizING almost despite its local governance. The city itself is basically bankrupt, and the county is incompetent.

But they did certain key things. They re-zoned and sold off the abandoned industrial plains. They ceded control of a lot of public services to ever-so-slightly-better managed private entities like the Carnegie Foundation (libraries, etc...).

The city unarguably still has significant and nagging problems. But they're doing a lot better than Cleveland largely because they've thus far had the wisdom to just get out of the way of progress. Or perhaps they've been SO incompetent that they simply failed at throwing themselves in front of it...

Cleveland is really good at impeding progress.
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[User Picture]From: lyssabard
2006-04-20 06:45 pm (UTC)


That's ok, it was mostly my sarcasm/cynicism at being annoyed with city government. (Partner lived in Pittsburgh, I did, too, for 2 yrs way back when...)
They could be better if they got out of the way more, but yes, they are SLOWLY improving. Hopefully, it will continue.

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[User Picture]From: richtermom
2006-04-20 07:07 pm (UTC)
I'm doing a buttload of genealogy and family history research, so I was very amused to find out that the home my great grandfather said he was going to in Homestead was, in fact, bulldozed to either build more steelmills or to put in the parking lot for that Target in the homestead mall complex along the river.

In other news, residential filming can be a bitch: they filmed an independent movie a few years here, and apparently they put fake snow along about a two block stretch, telling the residents that they'd already okayed everything with their alderman. The alderman hadn't heard anything about it. Way to cooperate.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2006-04-20 07:32 pm (UTC)
The history of Euclid Avenue would make you cry. At one point it was lined with mansions, a wide boulevard of elegant life, all the way out to the Western Reserve (about a 5-mile stretch). Most of these were torn down during the Depression and factories built. Most of these have since been deserted or torn down.

What remains are some beautiful old churches that look like they got senile and wandered far away from home. Bewildered, among the ruins.
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[User Picture]From: kmg_365
2006-04-20 06:30 pm (UTC)
"Cleveland - We're cheaper than New York City."
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[User Picture]From: mishamish
2006-04-20 07:01 pm (UTC)
"Cleveland - What else have we got to lose?"
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[User Picture]From: shezan
2006-04-20 07:09 pm (UTC)
It is entirely possible that the Hollywood types want to show a dump, you realise?
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2006-04-20 07:33 pm (UTC)
That occurred to me, but the spiffing up that is going on belies such thoughts.
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[User Picture]From: mzwyndi
2006-04-20 07:42 pm (UTC)
"Cleveland -- The river is good for pyrotechnics."
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2006-04-20 08:11 pm (UTC)
That was a long time ago!

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[User Picture]From: mzwyndi
2006-04-20 08:32 pm (UTC)

Y'all are NEVER living it down. Evar.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2006-04-20 08:55 pm (UTC)
Interesting fact from my environmental law professor: apparently rivers caught fire all the time back then, but the Cuyahoga just happened to catch right as environmental awareness was taking off, so it got a ton of coverage.

Of course, he's a life-long Clevelander, so he could be making it up.
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[User Picture]From: mzwyndi
2006-04-20 09:00 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I dunno. Maybe the small ones. I grew up on the second-largest river on the continent. She got more polluted than most and never caught fire to my knowledge.

OTOH, before the days of CNN and greenpeace and sierra club, I hold it forth as entirely possible that something could happen and never hit the papers, as long as no one died.
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[User Picture]From: nikkif
2006-04-20 07:45 pm (UTC)
There's a town in Washington whose sign off the freeway says, "Cle Elum: Easy Through Access," which I've always found to be sad, since they're basically saying that their selling point is that you won't have to stay for long.
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[User Picture]From: geli_tripping
2006-04-20 08:13 pm (UTC)
I noticed the new "storefronts" on the way into work this morning, I figured they MUST have been for the movie- after all, there hasn't been a new business opened up on Euclid since the House of Blues!
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2006-04-20 08:53 pm (UTC)
Sad, but true.
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[User Picture]From: merle_
2006-04-20 09:15 pm (UTC)
They film a lot of gritty 20s-40s urban things in downtown Oakland, a block from where I work. It has a lot of buildings from that period, and, since the area is on the "wrong side" of the main drag, there are few street repairs and infrastructure projects.

And you know what? It blows. Every month or so the street is crowded with onlookers and traffic is a nightmare.
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[User Picture]From: morgi
2006-04-21 09:51 am (UTC)
"Cleveland, where the Cuyahoga is already a special effect!"

Charles worked for a bit with the crew that shot "You Bet Your Life" downtown. (It was this terrible, terrible movie starring some people who won a reality show, or something of the sort.) There was an awesome photo of the explosion of one of the bridges in the Flats.
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