Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Fitz and the Tantrums frontman chats about fall tour and new album

Fitz and the Tantrums has been labeled as everything from retro-soul to indie-pop to a latter day version of Hall & Oates. “You can’t use one or two words to describe our music,” says frontman Michael Fitzpatrick, whose band appears at the Masonic Auditorium Nov. 6. “There are a lot of different flavors going on.”

The band has been riding a high since last year’s release of its sophomore album More Than Just a Dream. The album has spawned two No. 1 indie chart hits – “Out of My League” and “The Walker.” “On this album the only thing we weren’t allowed to do was limit ourselves,” says Fitzpatrick.

Produced by Tony Hoffer, best known for his work with Beck, More Than Just a Dream had plenty of material to draw on as the group produced more than 40 songs following a stint on the road. The last song to make the album, “Fool’s Gold,” is one of Fitzpatrick’s favorites. “It’s about something everybody’s experienced at one point; looking back at a relationship with regret while hopefully learning something from mucking it up,” he says. “Our first record was almost exclusively about heartbreak and love still rears its head on this record.”

The LA-based band has a rigorous touring schedule this year, including a recent performance at the Opening Night Ceremony for the U.S. Open tennis tournament Aug. 25. “It’s a very strange experience to be disconnected from family and friends for years at a time,” says Fitzpatrick of adjusting to life on the road. “Cleveland is special for us because it was one of the first places we felt we were having success. It was really a jumping off point for us in the Midwest.”

By Barry Goodrich 

M is for Marvelous

On my recent stop at Pairings, Ohio's new wine and culinary education center, I tasted a red that blew up my ideas about what could be made from local grapes. The explosion came courtesy of the 2012 Meritage from M Cellars in Geneva. It's a blended Bordeaux-style wine, made with cabernet sauvignon, cab franc, merlot and petit verdot, aged in Hungarian oak. Grower and vintner Matt Meineke calls it  a field wine, meaning the fruit is all picked and fermented together, and he's the only registered producer in the state. More importantly, it's a fantastic, full-bodied sophisticated wine with whispers of berries, smoke and wood. Curious about the who, what and why of this 2-year-old winery, I made it my business to go there the following day.

It's a beautiful spot — acres of grapes, a patio overlooking the fields, a handsome modern tasting room and spacious airy dining room where Meineke, his wife Tara and guest chefs host occasional and exclusive wine dinners. In fact, the next one, a celebration of corn and tomatoes is scheduled for September 5 and the menu prepared by Bob Sferra looks amazing.  I had a chance to preview all Matt's wines that will be served and some not yet available ones as well, and they're all pretty amazing too.

His gruner veltliner, uncommon for this region, is unfiltered with intense notes of apple and pear. He's offering another lovely white, Rkatsiti, that is new to me and made from an ancient Ukrainian grape. Matt describes it as "sauvignon blanc without the grass." I love his dry riesling, and the soon-to-be-released 2013 vintage is even better than the year before  — a terrific balance of acid and fruity with a bigger mouthfeel and his earthy rose. The pinot noir is sturdy and round with lots of baking spice flavor. None are typical for this region.

Jillian Davis, owner of Toast, told me she always tries to keep something of theirs on her list." I agree that the wines are surprising and head and shoulders above what anyone else is doing in this area. I keep telling people they're not just good-for Ohio wines. They're good wines!"In Cleveland, some of his wines are also available at Flying Fig,  Bin 216 and the Market Avenue Wine Bar. But the weather's still fine, the drive is short, and the experience such a nice one, so I suggest planning a trip to M Cellars for a tasting of your own.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Seek Sun, Surf and Stand-up Paddleboarding at Weekend Festival

Photo by Billy Delfs

If you lived in Ohio for any length of time, you know summer doesn't last long here. So soak up some late August sun this Saturday at Whiskey Island Paddle Board Race & Festival featuring racing, live music from local band Analog Union, eats from Boca Loca Burrito Factory, a beer garden and free Inner Bliss yoga classes. "It's gonna be a party," says Lynne Nagy, educator at Nalu Stand up Paddle & Surf in Rocky River. Here are three reasons to hit the beach.

Surf's Up: Dive into a 2-mile loop stand-up paddleboarding race at 8:30 a.m., or go big for the 6-mile, three-lap version, with a kids' course along the shoreline starting at 10 a.m. and a relay race starting at 1 p.m. For paddleboarding newbies, try a demo. In a fun twist on the regular demo, Nalu SUP & Surf combines yoga poses with paddleboarding —  right in the water. Don't have a board? Nalu has some available to rent. 

Keep the Peace: The festival goes from surf to turf when Inner Bliss Yoga Studio's Lanie leads a free lakeside yoga session on the shore. “[Lanie's] regular classes always sell out, because she brings something new every time,” Nagy says. Bring your own mat.

Jam Session: Cleveland surfer Scott Ditzenberger’s band Analog Union will bring a taste of California with their punk-infused surf jams. Stick around for a ukulele performance by Brad Sweet, who invites festival-goers to bring their own instruments and play along. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Former Indians Announcer Pens Gripping War Novel to Honor Late Dad

John Corrigan

Jack Corrigan thought he knew his dad. Everyone knew his dad. He was judge John V. Corrigan, who served Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court from 1956-91. It wasn’t until his sister discovered a 12-page letter written by their father that he learned about his father’s bravest and most terrifying moments. In the letter, John described the horrific scene that he witnessed as a medic on Christmas Eve in 1944, when the SS Leopoldville was attacked by enemy forces and sunk in the English Channel. The attack killed hundreds of American soldiers, and John was part of the rescue crew that dragged hundreds of bodies — dead and alive — out of the frigid water.

After reading the letter, Corrigan, who was an announcer for the Cleveland Indians for 17 years and is now an announcer for the Colorado Rockies, talked to his father about WWII for the first time. Their conversation and the letter inspired Corrigan’s second novel, Night of Destiny (FaithHappenings Publisher, available on Amazon for $13.30). The book, released this June, follows three young soldiers and the battle of the SS Leopoldville on Christmas Eve 1944. Surgical Tech Sgt. Dan Gibbons,  the character based off of John, rescues soldiers, both ally and enemy, from imminent death. We caught up with Corrigan, who penned most of the novel after his father's death, to discuss Night of Destiny.

Q. What was it like to have that conversation with your father?

A. When we actually sat down for that long conversation in Denver, it was illuminating to see the sometimes-scared 24-year-old that he was at the time. To me, my father was always the ultimate in confidence and always being sure. Then, to see him talk frankly about, “Well, what if I mess up?”, “Are we doing the right thing?” or “I don’t want to die, but I want to help people.” Hearing him and feeling the emotion, that was when I was like, I’ve got to do this. No matter how long this takes me, this is a project that I’m going to see to light.

Q. How much did you know about your father’s time in the war prior to that conversation?

A. To be honest, very little. I think he was like so many of that generation. They just didn’t talk about it. When the movie Saving Private Ryan came out, I said to my dad, “Hey, you want to go see Private Ryan? It might be interesting to go see it.” He looked at me, not angrily but, in a serious way and said, “I saw it once, why would I want to see it again?” I think we end up making them heroic figures or making them very one-dimensional in that regard, and you realize it's much more than that. I think that was the first time it actually struck me.

Q. Was writing the book a therapeutic way to grieve the loss of your father?

A. They brought in a hospital bed, and he was getting hospice at home. I was sitting there, and I said to him, “Life is going to be hard. How am I going to go on without you around, because you’ve always been larger than life to me.” He said, “Well think of your shadow. Your shadow is larger than you are, but it’s always there with you. So whenever you see your shadow, you know that I’m always there.” That’s something that has sustained me since his passing, and the book was all part of that. I can feel his shadow, and I could feel his presence as the book was unfolding. It was very therapeutic, and it’s nice now because it also keeps his memory alive in a unique way.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

How Gay Are We: Out in the Open

The Global Rainbow at Aha! Festival of Lights.
The sign read “gender-neutral bathroom.” It was posted at the Cleveland Museum of Art during the pre-Gay Games party, Night Before 9, and for me, it was not just a cardboard cutout – it was a step toward inclusion for Cleveland. Our city hasn’t always been kind to the transgender community — just last year there were a series of attacks that led to the deaths of three women and discrimination from local news sources. To see such an important institution be accepting of gender expression and welcome the transgender community —which has for a long time remained invisible and often overlooked — it was as if the city itself had opened its arms.

As a member of the LGBT community, I was speechless during the opening ceremonies at the Quicken Loans Arena when participants from San Francisco carried a massive rainbow flag as spectators stood and cheered them on. And when the Russian Federation entered the arena, greeted by a standing ovation after having suffered from so much persecution at the hands of their own government over the last year, I cried. I was not only overwhelmed by the tremendous amount of love and grace that was being lifted up, but also from being a single gay man united with thousands of individuals who applauded the perseverance of those who have suffered, celebrating pride in self-expression and honoring all of those who felt they didn’t have a voice. I never thought I would ever see something like it in my lifetime — a place in which everyone was united in their individuality regardless of race, class, sexual orientation or gender. By the end, I was convinced that Cleveland was proud that the Gay Games had arrived in our city.

I returned to Akron telling all my friends how incredible it was that there was so much freedom of expression in Cleveland. Having lived in several small towns in Northeast Ohio where being gay was never openly discussed nor expressed, I couldn’t help but boast how amazed I was that Cleveland was changing the game. My friends saw it for themselves, too — having grown used to suppressing public displays of affection — they were shocked by how many same-sex couples were holding hands and embracing one another in Public Square. They couldn’t stop talking about how great it was that City Hall was flying the LGBT flag, and only after checking with one another whether it would be OK, did they reach for the others’ hand.

Toward the end of the week, I was stopped by a visitor from San Francisco who asked, "Are the people of Cleveland always this nice?" I thought about it as we walked side by side down a dark street toward the rainbow-lit Terminal Tower and away from GG9 Festival Village where hundreds of strangers were dancing with each other under neon-colored lights. When we reached the corner, I stopped and said, "No, Cleveland hasn't always been this open, but it's been getting better over the last five years." He nodded his head, congratulated me on how polite we all were, and then asked if Cleveland had always been this gay. I couldn't help but smile, considering the cover of this month's issue of Cleveland Magazine, but when I finally turned to give him an answer all I could say was, "We've always been here. We've just been waiting for the right time."

There have been more advances in LGBT activism in our country in the last 10 years than there have been in the last 100. With 19 states now supporting same-sex marriages and 21 states offering nondiscrimination laws to protect LGBT individuals, Ohio isn’t that far behind. We’ve created domestic partner registries, we’ve started begin to recognizing same-sex marriages from other states, and we have openly-gay officials in office such as state Rep. Nickie Antonio, who is actively fighting for nondiscrimination laws to protect the LGBT community at home and in the workplace.

As GG9 came to an end, I kept thinking about where we might go from here and what needs to happen next. And while there’s certainly a lot of work left to be done at the state level, I returned to those nights out on Mall C where everyone danced, to those quiet dinners where gay couples reached across the table to hold hands and to those moments when gay athletes were cheered on.

Whether the pride flags come down or they remain flying, Cleveland should hold on to the hope that this has been and can be a city where we all live without judgment, able to love freely and be who we really are 100 percent of the time.

NEO Napa

In June, the region took a big step in branding itself as a distinctive grape growing and wine making district with the opening of Pairings in Ashtabula County. The lovely new center, years in the making and meant to showcase Ohio vintners doing high quality, medal-winning Euro-style wines, features a tasting room for their products — most from the Grand River and Lake Erie viticulture appellations — as well as an outdoor patio where visitors can enjoy wines by the glass or the bottle, and a kitchen and dining room for culinary demos, hands-on classes and special dinners. The center, off Geneva's main drag at the end of a dirt driveway, is also a starting point and stop along the way for local winery tours.

A few grape vines edge an empty field in front of the building now. One day, there will be a complete winemaking operation there that will serve as an incubator for start-ups and a visitor education center. For now, farmers set up shop there on Saturdays. The place is open seven days a week. A chef grills food to go with selected wines every Thursday night from 5:30 to 7:30. A tapas dinner is scheduled for Aug. 30, with advance reservations required.

My inaugural visit to Pairings was all discovery and delight. The facility, a converted barn, is done up in weathered wood with garage doors that are opened in good weather. A copper-topped, U-shaped bar has stools on the two long sides for those who want to spend some serious time sampling flights of reds and whites. And I must say I was pleasantly surprised to find some good, nuanced dry wines being poured. I really enjoyed the 2012 Cab Franc and Cab Sauvignon from Valley Vineyards, located in the Ohio River Valley near Cincinnati. Cask 1013, a blend from Madison's Grand River Cellars, had an intriguing complexity that comes as much from the blending of both red vinifera and vintage years. The number on label meant that it was started in 2010, wine from the 2011 and 2012 harvests added and bottled in 2013. The result was impressive. I learned about how it was made from staff member Nancy Evans. Her presence really enriched the experience. A recent graduate of Kent State's fledgling enology program and winemaker herself, she talked us through our tasting, providing knowledgeable commentary, thoughtful insights, and insider tips. If you end up buying a bottle after a tasting, the retail price is discounted by $5.

Nancy also hooked me up with a really interesting local winemaker that I went to meet the following day. More on him and the amazing wines he's creating next week.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

How Gay Are We:GG9 Ends with Hot 7 Deadly Sins After-party

The Gay Games closed its weeklong event with a rather steamy, sinful bash at the House of Blues Saturday night. With dimmed lights, candle-lined bars and local go-go boys personifying the seven deadly sins, the official after-party was underway. Celebrity transgender model, Amanda Lepore invited Murray Swanby, Pablo Hernandez and Cory Zwierzynski from Andrew Christian, a popular men's underwear line, onto the stage after Real Housewives of New York City star Carole Radziwill hand-selected 10 hunks from the crowd to dress down and dance alongside them. Famous for their music videos and known for targeting the gay community with their brand, the Andrew Christian models threw free underwear into the crowd before joining the party. As the night went on, models danced on elevated platforms while several members of the crowd stripped down, and when the lights came on at 2 a.m., it was clear that no one really wanted to leave it all behind.

Murray Swanby, Pablo Hernandez, Cory Zwierzynski and Amanda Lepore

Carole Radziwill and Amanda Lepore looking fabulous in the Foundation Room

The Andrew Christian boys take the stage.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Pride in the Moment: Day Six

Pride means making a statement. Photographer Billy Delfs snapped this image of a sailor competing in the Gay Games at Edgewater Yacht Club Friday. This week, Delfs and three other area photographers captured participants, visitors and crowd members for Summit Artspace's Pride in the Moment online exhibit. See all of their photos, from a vibrant feature shot of a spectator dangling a disco ball on the sidelines to an exuberant female couple ready to take the dance floor, for a year at and

Sailing, Edgewater Yacht Club, Aug. 15
Photo Credit: Billy Delfs

How Gay Are We: Dad Competes in GG9 to Support Teen Daughter's Coming Out

What is it like having a child come out? Mark Swaim-Fox, the director of the Cleveland chapter of Facing History and Ourselves, a nonprofit that teaches students about social justice issues, stood by his 15-year-old daughter's side as she came out as a lesbian last year. This week, Swaim-Fox joined two of his best friends and his son to compete in the Gay Games in support of his daughter.

    I think my daughter is one of the most remarkable people I know. I would do anything in the world for her. She knew she was gay in the seventh grade, but she came out to us toward the end of her eighth-grade year. We were sitting down together and she said, ‘I’m gay, but I’ve told you already.’ She was dropping these hints that she was noticing girls, and we weren’t picking up on it.

    I cried, not because she was gay, but because I missed it; because this is so important and it’s part of her identity, and because we love her and we’re so close. It was a really tender, sensitive moment. My first instinct was a parental one. I said, ‘I don’t want you to be hurt. I know there’s still homophobia out there.’ Not wanting my daughter to be a target is really serious for me, and my wife and I both struggle with those things. My next instinct was, ‘Oh my gosh, what can I do to support you?’

    We’re really being conscious about our language and really asking about her love interests like we would with our son. Nothing is really different. We’re just making sure on a day-to-day basis she knows that we love her.

     I feel I’m not a father of a lesbian; I’m a father of my daughter. I think she’s got such grace and maturity, and we’ll support her when she’s in trouble and we’ll share her joy when she’s excited — no matter what.

     The PFLAG meetings we went to helped a lot. There is something communal about other parents sharing stories together that help. It’s not a gay-straight sexuality thing. It’s just about paying attention to our children and what they need and making sure they can be whoever they are. — as told to James Bigley II

Friday, August 15, 2014

How Gay Are We: Oven Productions Has Been Celebrating Female Pride for Nearly 40 Years

Debra Hirshberg doing sound production for Oven Productions in the '80s.
Debra Hirshberg was a Case Western Reserve University senior in 1975 when she read a front-page article in the women’s newspaper, What She Wants, about the opening of a female-only production company. As a technical theater minor yearning to use her lighting skills, she called Oven Productions and has been involved with the nearly-40-year-old lesbian-feminist nonprofit ever since. The group hosts Hot Time in Cleveland, a women-only dance party, featuring disc jockey Zoe Renee Lapin at the Trinity Cathedral 8 p.m. tonight. 

         In 1974, the first National Women's Music Festival was held at the University of Champaign-Urbana. A woman in Cleveland came back from that and said, 'We have to start a production company.' It was the beginning of what was known as women’s music — music that stoked feminist and lesbian ideas. No one was producing them. So, we wanted to create a community of production companies to help get their music out. From '76 to maybe '82, we did probably 10 or so productions a year.

   It was a time where you didn't really see much feminist or lesbian stuff reflected in popular culture. We weren't on TV. ... There weren't many out performers.
      We started a lot of organizations, because they weren't there. There was no rape crisis center. There was no battered women's shelter. There was no coalition for women. In 1975, the UN had its International Women's Year Convention in Cleveland. They brought many women together, both lesbian and straight, and ideas came from that.

    We used to be the only place to go to for [lesbian-feminist productions]. We did concerts, music, dance, theater. We did a variety show every year to raise money; initially to buy sound equipment and then to just fund our concert series. In 2015, it’s going to be the 40th anniversary of the variety show, and some of us have been doing it all those years!

      Last year, we said, 'We've got to throw a party for the Gay Games.' It's a big celebration of Cleveland and the lesbian-feminist community. We wanted to welcome the women from out of town — come party with us.

     Bringing the Gay Games to Cleveland — it’s because people in Cleveland say, Why not? I think in Cleveland — we dare to dream, and we do it. We don't let things get in our way. — as told to Frances Killea

Pride in the Moment: Day Five

Pride is not holding back. Local photographer Shane Wynn snapped this vibrant shot at the daylong Flair Fest, held at Akron's Lock 3 Thursday, that encouraged crowd members to accentuate their unique qualities while they took in music from the Indigo Girls and local and regional acts. Wynn and three other photographers continue to capture the games for Summit Artspace's online exhibit Pride in the Moment where new images can be seen daily at,, and Check back tomorrow for another picture from the exhibit.

Flair Fest, Lock 3, Aug. 14
Photo Credit: Shane Wynn

Thursday, August 14, 2014

How Gay Are We: Exhibit Showcases History of Northeast Ohio LGBT Community

From its spot hanging in the Western Reserve Historical Society, an art deco mural from the former Cadillac Lounge, Cleveland's first LGBT bar, resonates a sense of freedom that was limited when the '40s nightclub was in operation at East Ninth Street and Euclid Avenue. See more items chronicling the fight for equality — including pride posters, sports costumes, vintage rainbow flags and issues of High Gear, Cleveland's first LGBT newspaper — in The Victory of Self: The LGBT Community in Northeast Ohio exhibit, open through Dec. 31. We chat with John Grabowski, WRHS senior vice president, about inspiration for the exhibit and what's a must-see.

Cleveland Magazine: Where did the title come from?

John Grabowski: We wanted to do something that related to the Gay Games — victory, winning in the games. What I see happening as a historian … is the struggle to be one’s self — to live the way one was born. It is a victory of self, or toward a victory of self, because for many, it is still not realized.

CM: The exhibit is created from the LGBT Archives of WRHS. What aspect of the archives does it focus on?

JG: It focuses on the diversity of the LGBT community. We have things that show the racial diversity, the religious and ethnic diversity. For people that are not members of the LGBT community, it is the realization that this is not a monolithic community. These are people that have different viewpoints, different ethnicities. That fits very well in Cleveland, because Cleveland is very a diverse place.

CM: What part of the exhibit should we look out for?

JG: We wanted some depth in the gallery. We thought that video of some of the activities was a good way to do that. [Videographer] Chris Rogers put together a stupendous 11 1/2-minute rapid-fire video that looks at Cleveland and also looks at some of our archive. It deals with issues, people, the diversity, the community – there are shots of the pride parade, various award ceremonies. We’ve had some people in tears after watching it.

Pride in the Moment: Day Four

The Gay Games brings out true competitors. Cleveland-area photographer Billy Delfs shot this image of an ice hockey player at the OBM Arena in Strongsville Wednesday. See more pictures from Delfs and three other area photographers in Summit Artspace's online exhibit Pride in the Moment at,, and Check our blog each day for another photo. 

Ice Hockey, OBM Arena, Aug. 13
Photo Credit: Billy Delfs

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

How Gay Are We: Choir Teacher Runs to Raise Funds to Support Youth

Mario Clopton admits he is lucky. When he came out at 21 years old, he had a strong support network. "Whether I came out at 13 or 21, I knew my family was going to be there for me," he says. But he Shaker Heights choir teacher is aware that not every kid is as lucky. So he decided to run in the Gay Games half marathon this Saturday and raise $40 a mile to donate to youth programs at the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland. So far, he's raised $600. “I look at some of these kids and their families are abandoning them, but they are steadfast," he says. "They still have their goals, and I felt that I have to support them in some way. Listening to their stories and how strong they are just inspires me.”

Common Ground: He has been pleased to find people from all walks of life at the games, even those outside the LGBT community. “I was waiting in line for a drink, and the guy in front of me turned around," Clopton says. "It was one of my teacher friends, and he was there with his girlfriend. I mean everyone feels welcome here.”

Chief Moment: Clopton took a year off from college to campaign for then-Sen. Barack Obama. So he was ecstatic when the president expressed his support for the games via a video shown at the opening ceremony. “Sometimes it just kind of seems, as a gay man, that the stars and stripes doesn’t include you," he says. "But when I saw that I was like, ‘The gay community is represented in that flag.’”

Sidewalk Therapy: As a choir teacher, Clopton says there is constantly noise in his head. “Running allows me to just clear that space and just have time with myself,” Clopton says. Struggling with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder as a child, Clopton found that running was a great combatant. “I didn’t want to take medication, because it made me not feel like myself so my doctor said, ‘Well, you should try running to get rid of some of that energy.’ I was going into seventh grade, and I signed up for cross-country. I loved it, and the rest is history.”

Pride in the Moment: Day Three

Pride is the ability to authentically share your identity with others. The Gay Games is certainly bringing that out in athletes such as this martial arts competitor photographed by David Alan Foster at the John S. Knight Center Tuesday. See more pictures snapped by Foster and three other area photographers as part of Summit Artspace's Pride in the Moment online exhibit documenting the international sporting event at,, and Visit our blog daily this week for an exclusive photo from the exhibit. 

Martial Arts, John S. Knight Center, Aug. 12
Photo Credit: David Alan Foster