Joie de Vivre

High Spirits for a NEO summer

July is a good time to re-evaluate your attitude about Cleveland. Overall, our econ-omy is still in the dumps, while pervasive poverty eludes our solutions. And with our leadership more interested in legislating mar-riage and opening casinos than rebuilding our future, our prospects might seem dim.

But through it all, the incomparable beauty of the Northeast Ohio summer shines through. Of all the top-rated places to live in this wide and wonderful country, few can celebrate the full range of seasons like the Cleveland area.

As you know if you've traveled, other warm-weather locales may sport the lovely weather, but after a day or two you're looking around for something to do besides queue up at an air-conditioned restaurant.

But Cleveland's cultural calendar is relentless. After almost three years of listing the creme de la creme in the weekly Cool Cleveland e-letter, we're still waiting for the pace to slow. This month, enjoy our Cool Cleveland party with the orchestra, an unconventional look at Akron, a summer writer series and blues in the outdoors.

Carpe diem!

Cool Cleveland Night Out at Blossom Cleveland's favorite after-work party is all grown up. While still offering an open bar and complimentary hors d'oeuvres, Cool Cleveland's hot networking parties now include a ticket to a major cultural event. On July 9, bring your friends or meet new ones as we host a warm-up party at Blossom Music Center from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., then give you a ticket to hear the beloved conductor Jahja Ling as he leads the incomparable Cleveland Orchestra in Tchaikovsky's blistering Symphony No. 4 at 8 p.m. Register at

Akron Exposed See a side of Akron you've been missing July 16 at 3 p.m. Tour some of Akron's underground art gems while enjoying cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. Call (330) 376-9186 ext. 213 to register. The tour will start from the parking lot between Broadway and Summit streets.

Writers After Hours Highly acclaimed writer Thrity Umrigar will appear at the July installment of the "Writers After Hours Summer Author Series," sponsored by the Cuyahoga County Public Library Foundation and The Plain Dealer. Enjoy wine and hors d'oeuvres July 19 at 6 p.m. before listening to the author discuss her novels "Bombay Time" and "Thicker Than Water" which is expected to be released in winter 2006. For ticket information, call (216) 749-9489. 1801 Superior Ave.,

CanalWay Sunset Concert Series If you haven't visited the Cleveland Metroparks' Ohio and Erie Canal Reservation, with its Towpath Trail, natural meadows and industrial relics on 300 acres that wind through the back yards of six major industries, here's a good reason to go. Groove to the sounds of the Alan Greene Band and Mr. Stress July 29 at 8 p.m. You'll find the concert location on Whittlesey Way, off East 49th Street between Grant Avenue and Canal Road in Cuyahoga Heights. For more information, call (216) 206-1000.

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