Our Miserable Year
f course, it rained the day after he left. July sunshine would've seemed cruel after a loss like that. We've always wanted to surprise the rest of the country with Cleveland's greatness, and he made it happen. People saw us differently because of him. Then, when we ran into a tough time and really needed him, he was gone. It shows our range, our unpretentious respect for the many categories of Cleveland greatness, that so many of the people who raged at LeBron James' Decision to split for the Sunshine State also mourned four days later when Harvey Pekar died.Read More>>
The Elbow vs. The Decision
Some always believed our relationship with LeBron James would end badly. But no one could have predicted its final days would be defined by a mysterious elbow injury followed by a messy, prime-time breakup. Both stomped our civic psyche like Godzilla, and both were truly and utterly shady in their execution.
Uh-Oh Moment: LeBron fires up a dead-duck free throw with his left hand in the final moments of the Cavs' series-ending, first-round playoff win over the Chicago Bulls. Coach Mike Brown's postgame press conference feels like a funeral.
something fishy: Doctors find nothing significantly wrong and diagnose the injury as a strain and bone bruise.
LeBron said: "Cleveland fans have nothing to worry about. They have no reason to panic."
aftermath: LeBron zones out, appears to quit on his team, and the Cavs are bounced from the playoffs.
Charles barkley said: "I've got to wonder about LeBron James' mindset. ... I am 100 percent disappointed."
Believable conspiracy theory: LeBron was not re-signing with the Cavs, so he milked the injury in order to throw the Celtics series and make an easier exit.
we'd still like to see ... someone, anyone ask James this on national television: "How's the elbow?"
Foul BallOh, the 1980s. Remember the good ol' days of baseball futility? Let us remind you.
Jim Brown Bails
Most Embarassing Corruption Moments
Cell phones and cameras seem so innocent, so friendly, until you find out the FBI's been running a sting. Then those buddy-buddy jokes don't stay in Vegas, that carefree party photo gets reprinted next to an exposé, the quiet come-on whispered before your hotel tryst leaves you hoping you can hide behind your federally bestowed acronym. Or maybe, you just really wish you hadn't taken someone's call. The corruption investigation left scores of Clevelanders afraid to Google themselves or stop by the grocery store without fear and shame. Here's who had the top cringe-inducing moments.
Jimmy Dimora. Apparently, a $1,000 Las Vegas massage isn't all it's cracked up to be: "She's good — a little chatty, but good," Dimora told contractor buddy Ferris Kleem, who prosecutors say arranged for the services. Just as the phrase "take my talents to" have forever been tainted, we'll forever cringe at the mention of a "chatty" neighbor. Taped April 9, 2008; case filed April 23, 2010.
Public Employee 39. The benefits package at Bedford Municipal Court must be unbelievable. PE39 not only slept with Jimmy Dimora in hopes of getting a job there (or Solon City Hall), according to the feds, she also told him she enjoyed it. "[Sex with] you is a wonderful thing," PE39 allegedly claimed a day before meeting Dimora at the Doubletree in Independence. Taped March 14, 2008; case filed Sept. 15, 2010.
Christopher Krause. The former Maple Heights schools treasurer ripped off the kids of his district by steering a contract in exchange for a 46-inch LCD TV delivered by Frank Russo's son, Vince. After the FBI raided the county building, Krause, not willing to part with that sweet screen, stashed it in a school warehouse. Delivered Dec. 21, 2007; case filed May 26, 2010.
Ed FitzGerald. The county-executive-elect showed up at a candidates' forum this fall and found reporters hungry to grill him about his appearance in the Dimora indictment, in which he takes a call from Dimora about the Winterhurst ice rink. FitzGerald hasn't been accused of wrongdoing, and he went on to win his race with 45 percent of the vote. Taped March 6, 2008; court filing Sept. 15, 2010.
Frank Russo. No, $1 million in kickbacks didn't make the former auditor blush. But then The Plain Dealer dug up a photo of him at a charity benefit with a big silver flip-phone clipped to his belt. Now that's embarrassing.Shot 2006; published Sept. 1, 2010.
Cleveland's 10 Most Miserable YearsCheer up, Cleveland! At least this isn't the city's worst year ever. Careful historical research has determined it's only the ninth worst.
- 1978 - Default shames Cleveland; Blizzard of '78 buries city; Mayor Dennis Kucinich bullies his way through recall election, disastrous feud with banks.
- 1968 - Fred "Ahmed" Evans ignites Glenville shootout over towed car, seven killed; hopes from Carl Stokes' election ruined.
- 1938 - Great Depression drags on; Torso Murderer kills 10th, 11th, 12th victims; Eliot Ness burns down hobo camp.
- 1966 - Bar fight incites Hough riots, Communists blamed; Rand cancer "cure" fools Plain Dealer and desperate patients.
- 1969 - Cuyahoga River oil slick catches fire, births Laugh-In's Cleveland jokes; 4th of July storm kills 51.
- 1972 - Mayor Ralph Perk sets his hair on fire; declines presidential invite, cites wife's bowling night; asks Pope Paul VI to "pray for Cleveland."
- 1798 - Nearly all of Cleveland's few dozen settlers fall ill to malarial fever and chills, with no doctor and no medicine except tree bark; population declines; families move out of the Flats to escape the pestilence.
- 1837 - East Side-West Side rivalry turns violent as 1,000 men fight Ohio City-Cleveland Bridge War with crowbars, axes, rocks, clubs, rifles; Mayor of Cleveland, trying to make peace, is driven off Columbus Street Bridge with stones.
- 2010 - The Decision, Dimora & Russo, Forbes.com, death of Pekar.
- 2003 -"Comeback" ends; political, business leaders brawl over failed convention center bid; Jane Campbell lays off 250 cops, plans to pull trash barrels from streets, setting stage for Adopt-A-Can.
Rank & BileHey, Forbes. How do you like us now?
The Less MiserablesThese exceptions to the trend cheered us in 2010.
- Peyton Hillis: Gritty grinder as face of franchise fits Cleveland
- Hugo Boss: Factory officially reopens in July
- Zack Bruell: Opens Chinato, his fourth restaurant in town
- Comic Sans: Surge of attention thanks to Dan Gilbert
- April: Warmest ever at average temperature of 56 degrees
- Lakewood: Travel + Leisure names it a Top 10 Coolest Suburb
- Betty White: Hot in Cleveland premiere draws 5 million fans, the most ever for a TV Land show
- Jonathon Sawyer: Food & Wine names him one of country's best new chefs
Best 80 Hours and 26 Minutes of the YearFrom Browns kickoff at 1:02 p.m. Sunday to the final buzzer of the Cavs opener at 9:28 p.m. Wednesday, boy, it was awesome.
- Sunday: The Cleveland Browns dismantly the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints, 30-17.
- Monday: Christmas Ale is tapped at Great Lakes Brewing Co.
- Tuesday: Despite predictions, the Miami Heat will not go undefeated. Boston Celtics win 88-80.
- Wednesday: The Cleveland Cavalier beat the Boston Celtics, 95-87.
#HappyInCLE Twitter hashtag
Of course, it rained the day after he left. July sunshine would've seemed cruel after a loss like that.
We've always wanted to surprise the rest of the country with Cleveland's greatness, and he made it happen. People saw us differently because of him. Then, when we ran into a tough time and really needed him, he was gone.
It shows our range, our unpretentious respect for the many categories of Cleveland greatness, that so many of the people who raged at LeBron James' Decision to split for the Sunshine State also mourned four days later when Harvey Pekar died. In Cleveland, even the literary and indie-film crowds cheer for pro sports, and even the most mainstream sports fan took pride in Pekar's cranky late-night jousts, when he gave smarmy David Letterman the Full Cleveland treatment.
The comic-book author's obituaries were appropriately quieter, more respectful, than the jilted city's howl at The Decision. But the second of our two July losses was actually the worst, and the truest Cleveland moment of 2010. After LeBron crushed our championship hopes, leaving a barren landscape of struggling-toward-.500 teams in his wake, the city desperately needed a midyear correction, a reminder from a trusted voice that we'd stumbled back into a perennial Cleveland mistake: We'd invested way too much hope in a pro athlete. Just when we most needed a strong, angry dose of Harvey Pekar's gloomy realism, he wasn't around to write it.
Pekar's comics included no heroes of any kind, no superheroes, no kings and especially no sports heroes. American Splendor found Cleveland's true essence in the West Side Market's barking vendors, the big two-story double houses where relatives lived a floor apart, sightseeing tours of the steel mill and the Orthodox church where The Deer Hunter was filmed. Pekar refused to visit the Rock Hall and mocked the Dawg Pound because his pessimist's eye mistrusted the comeback stories Cleveland tells itself.
"Harvey, how are things in Cleveland?" Letterman asked him one night, years ago.
"What aspect of Cleveland life are you particularly interested in, Dave?" Pekar asked, his voice lilting with sarcasm. "The climate? The unemployment situation, perhaps?"
Afterward, civic boosters asked Pekar why he hadn't raved about the new Jacobs Field.
"There are people who like me to talk about Cleveland the way it is and be honest," he
That's how we feel today. That's why, looking back on 2010, we're presenting what we feel is an honest account of the year's events. We Believe In Cleveland as much as anyone and chronicle its best for a living, but sometimes we also have to help the city get something off its civic chest.
In December 2010, after LeBron, after Harvey's death, after the torturous wait for Jimmy Dimora and Frank Russo to be arrested already, and after the federal indictments' tawdry embarrassments, we feel the need to acknowledge it: This year sucked.
Even Forbes.com, that shallow list-maker, master of the top 10 hit-and-run, might have been onto something. Cleveland knows gloom. It's part of our atmospheric conditions. We aren't permanently miserable, but misery lived in Cleveland for a long time, still knows a lot of people in town and comes back home to visit pretty regularly. We just hope that after the holidays, it clears out of the guest room and takes its talents to South Beach.
12:00 AM EST
November 22, 2010