Never can say goodbye: Yet another star-studded Invisible City farewell


Saying adios to Cleveland in the fall of 2002 was one of the hardest things I had ever done in my life up until that point. But once we started having these little bon voyage parties… they were so much fun, we couldn’t stop.

READ: Saying goodbye to Cleveland – Coffinberry and Sean & Ian at The Invisible City

In the end we hosted more farewell concerts than a Cher tour.

The Invisible City farewell 2002 Cleveland Ohio Mike Michael Shumaker

Mike called the trash haulers, and they took away everything that wasn’t going to L.A. or Milwaukee for a measly $30! After that, The invisible City was mighty empty.

Who was leaving and why?

I was splitting with Ohio after a thirteen-year romance that started back in 1990 when I arrived to attend Case Western Reserve University. After U.S. Rocker, I wanted a media job. I couldn’t find one in Cleveland.

Read an oral history of U.S. Rocker—Ohio’s greatest rock magazine, Pt. I: The early years 1989-93

Also: I wanted a boyfriend. Possibly many boyfriends. I wanted to live in the sun. I wanted to make some slick shit and make some money. Naturally, Los Angeles was my next stop. [I’m writing this twenty years later in 2022. I’m still in L.A. I’ve now lived here almost twice as long as I lived in Cleveland.]

Mike Shumaker, my roommate and studio partner at The Invisible City, was also flying the coop—at least temporarily. Mike had been in Primitive and Sheilbound.

WATCH: Primitive at SXSW 1996 – exclusive video, photos & more

Now Mike was headed to Milwaukee, Wisconsin and then out on the road with Hey Mercedes, a new band he was doing with the Braid guys.

This meant our recording studio, The Invisible City, which we built up quite literally from nothing with our bare hands—and the incredible creative efforts of dozens of bands across six years and 150 recording sessions—was kaput. Ugh. After all that work—done?  Really?

To this day , it still makes me want to cry. And I miss Mike.

However, in a classic case of ‘life-gives-you-lemons,’ we made sweet sweet lemonade with these many goodbye parties.

The first one, starring Coffinberry and Sean & Ian, was such a blast, well, two weeks later we hosted another! This time with even less furniture and our shit now half in boxes, waiting to get carted away.

Saying goodbye to Cleveland: Coffinberry and Sean & Ian at The Invisible City

We even made The Plain Dealer again, thanks to Laura DeMarco this time, I believe. How about that?

The Invisible City farewell 2002 Cleveland Ohio Mike Michael Shumaker

Did we really charge $3 for this casual event? I don’t think so. Maybe that was to keep the riff-raff out, since it was weird to advertise a house party in the local newspaper. You never know who might show up.

One of the reasons for this particular farewell was to say bye-bye to our beloved studio clientele—all the super-talented CLE musicians, artists and performers who had supported us over the years. Whereas the previous party was a show, this one was an all-star jam session.

And the jams went on for hours. It was so epic. I’m not even exaggerating. Party til dawn. And I hadn’t even tried speed yet (L.A. would solve that). Go figure.

READ: The 100% True Story of How I Met Don Bolles

This was a really laid back, groovin’ time until the end when Sharkey head-butted one of the glass room dividers—instantly fracturing a huge, antique slab of glass. The pane was so brittle, yet somehow had remained intact through extensive demolition back when we moved into The Invisible City back in 1997 or whenever.

But damned if Sharkey didn’t bust the glass wall into a million-zillion little pieces just as we were about to get our security deposit back. Argh.

‘Cuz, you know, it was the early Oughties and if you liked something, the natural impulse was to get all Woodstock ’99 on it. (Sharkey: it’s 2022, you are forgiven.)

READ: Woodstock ’99—A guided tour through hell

I miss everyone in these photos (scroll down—so many friends!) but I’m also relieved that this is history.

Whereas the Coffinberry / Sean & Ian photos make me wistful because I have not seen most of those folks since, I’ve continued to hang with many of the guys in the pics below. And really—after the random destruction outburst (I remember Mike telling Sharkey that we ‘weren’t going to let this turn into another final night at Speak In Tongues.‘)—it was time to go.

“Trying to convey an acid trip with mere words”: Speak In Tongues lives again in a wild new book

Enjoy these never-before-seen photos. I love you all.

The Invisible City farewell 2002 Cleveland Ohio Mike Michael Shumaker

Here’s my dear old friend Isaac Edwards, drummer of Primitive & Sheilbound, standing across from the Invisible City, in the parking lot of the Ohio Lottery Commission warehouse—our nearest neighbor on Perkins Ave. This was where they stored the scratchers! Shh! (True story.) Photo: Sean Carnage.

The Invisible City farewell 2002 Cleveland Ohio Mike Michael Shumaker

Watching the sun set on the artificial foliage place, our other neighbor. Photo: Carnage.

The Invisible City farewell 2002 Cleveland Ohio Mike Michael Shumaker

Sunset on Perkins. I still miss our old ‘hood. Photo: Carnage.

The Invisible City farewell 2002 Cleveland Ohio Mike Michael Shumaker

You can see the Society Bank Tower, aka the Key Bank Tower, aka Key Tower in the background. They built this the first year I lived in Cleveland (1990-91). Leaving meant saying goodbye to my old friend. Photo: Carnage.

The Invisible City farewell 2002 Cleveland Ohio Mike Michael Shumaker

Eek—so empty! It was shocking to see and hear the studio ‘live’ room be so empty & live-sounding. Photo: Carnage.

The Invisible City farewell 2002 Cleveland Ohio Mike Michael Shumaker

We had made fast work of things and cleared out 3,500 sq. ft of space that we had been parking junk in for six years! Photo: Carnage.

The Invisible City farewell 2002 Cleveland Ohio Mike Michael Shumaker

Removing stuff was a full-time job in 2002. Photo: Carnage.

The Invisible City farewell 2002 Cleveland Ohio Mike Michael Shumaker

You can see remnants of the first Sean & Ian show—and the Razak Solar System drums. Next person to use these drums would be Don Bolles. I gave them to him when the Germs got back together in 2004-5. Photo: Carnage.

The Invisible City farewell 2002 Cleveland Ohio Mike Michael Shumaker

Unbelievably, I schlepped all this shit to L.A. Why? God knows! Like I’ve said before, I’m a saver. Photo: Carnage.

The Invisible City farewell 2002 Cleveland Ohio Mike Michael Shumaker

All this—in my L.A. apartments—now in my house. After twenty years! Photo: Carnage.

The Invisible City farewell 2002 Cleveland Ohio Mike Michael Shumaker

Why am I such a packrat? Photo: Carnage.

The Invisible City farewell 2002 Cleveland Ohio Mike Michael Shumaker

You can see the isolation booth Mike and I and his dad built. Photo: Carnage.

The Invisible City farewell 2002 Cleveland Ohio Mike Michael Shumaker

The blue backdrop from the Coffinberry show—destroyed. Heathens! Photo: Carnage.

The Invisible City farewell 2002 Cleveland Ohio Mike Michael Shumaker

Photo: Carnage.

The Invisible City farewell 2002 Cleveland Ohio Mike Michael Shumaker

John Bernard & Sharkey. Photo: Carnage.

The Invisible City farewell 2002 Cleveland Ohio Mike Michael Shumaker

Kevin Jaworski, John Bernard, Sharkey, Mike Shumaker. Photo: Carnage.

The Invisible City farewell 2002 Cleveland Ohio Mike Michael Shumaker

Hot jamnation! John Bernard, Isaac, Jeff Ottenbacher, Ron Kretsch, Mike. Photo: Carnage.

The Invisible City farewell 2002 Cleveland Ohio Mike Michael Shumaker

Same as above, now with Aaron Koonce aka Jack Shit and John Greiner watching. Photo: Carnage.

The Invisible City farewell 2002 Cleveland Ohio Mike Michael Shumaker

Isaac, Jeff-O, Mike, Ron. Photo: Carnage.

The Invisible City farewell 2002 Cleveland Ohio Mike Michael Shumaker

Aaron Koonce. Photo: Carnage.

The Invisible City farewell 2002 Cleveland Ohio Mike Michael Shumaker

Isaac, Jeff, Mike, Ron. This was a great combo! Photo: Carnage.

The Invisible City farewell 2002 Cleveland Ohio Mike Michael Shumaker

The film started warping—the jams were hot! Photo: Carnage.

The Invisible City farewell 2002 Cleveland Ohio Mike Michael Shumaker

Former Invisible City-dweller Tony Erba & Shaun Filley. Photo: Carnage.

The Invisible City farewell 2002 Cleveland Ohio Mike Michael Shumaker

Danny Noonan & Ian Colbert. Photo: Carnage.

The Invisible City farewell 2002 Cleveland Ohio Mike Michael Shumaker

Sarah Wido, Ian, John. Photo: Carnage.

The Invisible City farewell 2002 Cleveland Ohio Mike Michael Shumaker

John Greiner, Danny, Joe Bernard. Photo: Carnage.

More classic Cleveland from 2002:

Saying goodbye to Cleveland: Coffinberry and Sean & Ian at The Invisible City

The best 9 Shocks Terror photos I ever shot, at the “new” Peabody’s

Pointless Orchestra goes all the way out in Tremont

California comes to Cleveland: Annihilation Time, Fields Of Fire with 9 Shocks Terror at the Grog Shop

The best—and last—damn concert I saw in Cleveland

Under the bridge, Cleveland-style, with Brian Straw at Hart Crane Park; Or, how I learned to let loose in the middle of the Zika epidemic

DC’s Black Eyes & rare Sheilbound quartet lineup at Mohawk Place, Buffalo 2002

Electroclash in the Flats: The Foreign Exchange Students with The Cassettes at Pat’s

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