I’ve been a little slow because it’s been an emotional thing for me, remembering and memorializing my final weeks in Cleveland, a place that still has my heart. [I’m posting these photos retrospectively twenty years later in 2022 -SC]
To be sure, this was the first of a series of “farewell parties” we had at the recording studio / loft space I shared with Mike Shumaker (from Primitive, Sheilbound, The Divine Invasion) in Cleveland’s “real” warehouse district near 40th and Perkins Ave, around the corner from CSU. Mike was joining Hey Mercedes in Milwaukee.
I was relocating to Los Angeles and already knew that I’d never be coming back to live in Ohio. It was sad because Cleveland was such an aspirational place for me when I was growing up in Erie, PA, my original home town.
But thirteen years later, with U.S. Rocker having long ago ceased publication, and Razak Solar System done—and there being an almost total dearth of media jobs for me in the Cleveland area—it was time to head out to the highway. Go west, young man. I most certainly did.
Southern California had made a strong impression on me.
So we rounded up all our friends, bought a ton of booze, and had a send off. More gatherings followed, but this was the big one.
The Invisible City deserves—and will get—its own series of posts someday soon. 150 recording sessions in six years is still kind of a big deal. I’m really proud of what Mike and I did there. See the roster on the wall above? We were not fooling around.
Surprisingly I don’t have a ton of memories from this particular night. This could be because I was playing music and that always tends to wipe all details from my brain, as I was mainly concerned with performing and sounding good.
Our Sean & Ian performance was highly awkward (to me) for two reasons. The first being that our friends—mainly punks and Noise Rockers—weren’t really into the lo-fi thing Sean & Ian were doing. Everyone loved us so they were there. But they were just kinda… Hmmm. Scratching heads and beards. It’s okay. Ian and I knew it wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea.
Sean & Ian was really astounding to folks at Speak In Tongues penultimate show, but removed from that friendly D.I.Y. venue where people worshipped Jandek and The Mountain Goats/John Darnielle, we never really connected with the Cleveland crowd.
Soon I’d be living in The Mountain Goats’ backyard and all would be right with the world.
The other reason this gig was super weird is that I invited my mom, who had never seen me play music, to the party—and (horror) she attended!
I have no photos of my mum at the show (I was jamming onstage—I think Sarah Wido probably shot Ian and I and perhaps developed these photos… thank you, Sarah), but it was my first time as an adult (age 30) performing with such a close family member just feet away, staring at me while I sang sweet, crypto-Satanic pop lyrics about anarchy in the streets.
My mom—and everyone else in attendance—would have to wait until 2020 to experience what the fuck Ian and I were singing about. Ha.
Coffinberry were such sweethearts, and a great headliner for a party. People danced and raged and I forgot to be sad for leaving for a little while.
PS. I humbly think the poster for this show is the best one I ever created in Cleveland. Yes, it’s kind of penile. Sorry if that offends you.
Looking back I was so freaking frustrated, and I didn’t even know it. I’m, like, totally gay and need my partner to be the same. Cleveland was always kind of a bust for me in that regard.
I look at this poster now and giggle ‘cuz obviously I was just burning with desire for liberation. I definitely found that in Los Angeles! I definitely took that too far in Los Angeles. But that’s a tale for future posts.
Less than two months from the date of this show I would be sitting in an iconic Beverly Hills high-rise as Larry Flynt’s personal assistant at Hustler, surrounded by sex. This gig flier was a bit of… foreshadowing. Anyhow, just a funny aside. No one, including me, knew where the subsequent weeks would take things.
Thanks again to all who came out this evening. I seriously love every single one of you. I’m still mourning saying goodbye.
Enjoy these never-published photos…
More classic Cleveland from 2002: