Monday, November 23, 2015

Weekend In Review: One Year Since Tamir Rice's Death

It was a sobering sight as hundreds gathered at the Cudell Recreation Center to mourn the loss of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy shot in the abdomen by Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann exactly one year ago on Nov. 22, 2014. As the Rice family gathered under the pavilion, local and national activists filled the grounds of Cudell to show support, holding signs that said "Black Lives Matter" and "Justice For Tamir." 

"Words can't describe the pain we felt the day that we lost you," said LaTonya Goldsby, Tamir's cousin, in an open address at the start of the vigil. "This last year we have tried to mend our broken hearts, trying to rebuild from the hole that was left behind."

Tamir's mother, Samaria Rice, thanked everyone for their support. During a moment of silence, 15-year-old Tajai Rice, Tamir's sister, released 12 doves — one for every year Tamir was alive.

"This year has been such a whirlwind for us," said his great aunt Michelle Thomas. "I just want to thank you, Samaria, for sharing him with us like you did. He brought joy into our lives, and she raised Tamir to be the kindest, most helpful, sweetest young man."

In what was the most emotional moment of the event, kids gathered at the front of the pavilion and everyone present joined in unison to sing, "This Little Light of Mine."

It was one of more than 40 events taking place nationwide over the weekend in honor of Tamir's life. Here in Cleveland, the weekend began Saturday morning when more than 70 people – including councilman Matt Zone and several members of the Rice family — came to the Cudell Recreation Center for a project where guests engaged each other in thoughtful conversation as an effort to heal and streamline everyone's intentions for the weekend. There was also an address from Subodh Chandra, Rice family lawyer, at the Martin Luther King Jr. Branch of the Cleveland Public Library continuing to ask for the removal of Cuyahoga County prosecutor Timothy McGinty. And on Saturday evening, a town hall at the Clark-Fulton Public Library, led by Elle Hearns, central regional field coordinator of GetEqual, Goldsby and Michael Nelson, president of the Cleveland chapter of the NAACP alongside local and national activists reminded the public that Tamir's death is not an isolated incident but one that's part of a national systemic problem of racial injustice.

"The fact that a 12-year-old boy was murdered basically by a drive-by [from] the state-funded police shows that this country has no moral conscience when it comes to black folks," said Ryan Brown, a local community organizer. "When they say, 'We don't want another Ferguson,' what I hear is, 'We don't want black folks building community and standing up for themselves.'"

The culmination of the weekend's events takes place at 1 p.m. today when the Rice family, friends and supporters march from the Free Stamp to the Justice Center to hand-deliver more than 200,000 signatures to McGinty's office asking for his removal from Tamir's investigation.

Community members peacefully come together at the Cudell Recreation Center. Those in attendance included members of the Rice family, councilman Matt Zone, and local and national activists.

Deja Joseph and Tajai Rice bond over the loss of their brothers through an art project as part of a day of healing on Saturday at the Cudell Recreation Center.

Mothers who've lost their loved ones due to incidents involving law enforcement came to Cleveland over the weekend to show support for Samaria Rice, including Tressa Sherrod, mother of 22-year-old John Crawford III who was shot in a Wal-Mart in Beavercreek, Ohio, on Aug. 5, 2014; Deanna Joseph, mother of 14-year-old Andrew Joseph III who died on Feb. 7, 2014, after being ejected from the Florida State Fair by police; and Krystal Brown, widow of 38-year-old Marlon Brown who was run over by a police officer on May 8, 2013.

One year later, people still seek justice for the death of Tamir Rice.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

First Glances: Sarita

When the venerable Players on Madison closed this October after three decades, longtime executive chef Anthony Romano and business partner Sandy Smith purchased the space for their own concept, a polished and likely soon-to-be-favorite neighborhood spot called Sarita.

It was a move Romano says he'd been contemplating for years, prompted by regular half-serious offers to sell from retiring owner Gary Lucarelli. Sarita opened to the public Saturday, Nov. 14 after an overhaul of the interior space.

Gone is the 1980s-esque wall art, muted wallpaper and neutral chairs and linens. In its place is a bold and minimal black and white concept splashed with red, a tie-in with Sarita's logo (shown above on the restaurant's awning). The space is comfortable and clean, though loud due to the openness of the two distinct dining areas and a painted tin ceiling that, while full of needed character, reflects and amplifies bar chatter.

The menu, divided into "this," "that" and "the other" categories broadly defined as appetizers, small plates and entrees, is expansive with nearly 40 total options with wide appeal, such as crispy, fluffy Navajo fry bread — akin to fried pizza dough — with two kinds of pesto ($4), sweet and savory stuffed dates wrapped in prosciutto ($10) and horseradish-crusted grouper ($29) with chanterelle mushrooms, mashed potatoes and a garlicy vinaigrette.

Horseradish-crusted grouper at Sarita, a Restaurant
Serious diners may find this new spot a bit too safe, and regular diners may struggle with the prices for an average night out, but Sarita has at least two standouts going for it.

Firstly, the service is astounding. Most new restaurants can aim only at keeping up with an opening-night crush while struggling to train overwhelmed servers and cooks. Because much of the staff are holdovers from Players on Madison, however, Sarita felt from Day One as if it were already a well-oiled machine (rapid menu changes based on customer feedback notwithstanding nor unwelcome).

Secondly, the olive oil cake ($7). Sure, there's a flourless chocolate cake that will likely sell well because, well, chocolate. But if you take one risk with your visit to Sarita, make it this cake. Citrusy, with a luscious scoop of cinnamon ice cream, just the right amount of crumb and a lingering aftertaste that reminds you the cake is made with olive oil, it was far and away the most impressive dish of the evening.

Sarita, 14523 Madison Ave., Lakewood, 216-226-5200,
Mon-Thu 5-11 p.m., Fri & Sat 5-12 p.m., Sun 5-10 p.m.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Westlake Teen Stars in First Project Runway Junior Competition

Photo by Barbara Nitke
Victoria Cohen is bringing spunk to the first-ever season of Project Runway Junior on Lifetime. The show will host a dozen fashion designers ages 13 to 17 as they vie for a $25,000 cash prize and a feature in Seventeen Magazine by showcasing their design skills in front of a panel of judges that include host Tim Gunn, Kelly Osbourne and Aya Kanai, the executive fashion editor of Cosmopolitan and Seventeen Magazine. Despite the national spotlight her designs will have when the first episode airs at 9 p.m. Nov. 12, 17-year-old Westlake native Victoria is more than a reality TV star: She's showed her designs at Cleveland Fashion Week 2015, studied at School of Rock, toured with her band Rockapocalypse and launched her own graphic T-shirt line PUNX. "A really big part of me is self-expression," she says. We chatted with Victoria about her local roots, how they inspired her and pushed her to the fashion stage of New York City.

CM: How did you get into fashion design?
V: I've been watching Project Runway since the very first season when I was 6 years old.  I always sketched and I always wanted to be a fashion designer, but I never really did anything about it.  But then I heard that Cleveland had a fashion week. The summer before, I started making T-shirts. I called the director and she reviewed some of my work and then they said that I could show, so I started working on my collection. That is when I really knew that I wanted to be a designer.

CM: Do you see the potential for a fashion industry in Cleveland?
V: When I go to New York, it's draining, and it's like a competition. In New York, a lot of people kind of get faded out but I feel like if I were able to bring a fashion scene to Cleveland, it would definitely catch a lot of attention because the people who will succeed and who have the passion — they're gonna shine. I identify with Cleveland. It just feels like home to me.

CM: How do you think your time on the show has influenced you as a designer and do you feel like your art has changed from it?
V: I think [designing] is definitely a part of my identity but being on the show, I think I found another side of myself. I don't ever want to be identified as just one thing. I have lots of ideas and I think I just need to take time to really define them. I think being on the show helped me find who I was and see kind of all of my creativity, rather than just 'I am this designer'.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Restaurant Weekend

The ill-named Cleveland Restaurant Week, which admittedly may sound better than Cleveland Restaurant Fortnight, is winding down. Your last chance to score a $33 three-course prix-fixe meal at some of the city's best restaurants is this Saturday, November 14.

The good news is, there are more than 50 participating restaurants to choose from, so it's a great chance to try out that special-occasion spot you've been nervous to take a chance on. The bad news is, you'd have to eat out four times a day starting Nov. 2 to try all the deliciousiousness.

With only four more nights to chow down on the cheap, we thought we'd help you out with a few of our perennial favorites. See Cleveland Independents for the full roster, plus menus and Open Table reservation links.

At the brand-new Alley Cat Oyster Bar in the Flats:
Course 1: Mediterranean Bisque with rouille (a red chili sauce), Parmesan cheese and toast points OR shrimp dijon with an herb-roasted beet salad made with pistachio, arugula and lemon vinaigrette
Course 2: Saffron mussel risotto with peas, grape tomatoes and preserved lemon OR walnut-crusted chicken thighs served with mashed cauliflower and green beans OR fried catfish with hush puppies, fries, cole slaw and tartar sauce
Course 3: Coconut cheesecake or a chocolate terrine
1056 Old River Road, Cleveland, 216-574-9999,

At eclectic Bistro 185 in Collinwood:
Course 1: Half-order of potato pancake and smoked duck appetizer OR a half-order of gravlax and potato pancake OR calamari misto OR bistro fries
Course 2: Wild mushroom pappardelle pasta with fresh herbs OR fried chicken and waffles OR a salmon special (preparation varies)
Course 3: House-made dessert selection
991 E. 185th St., Cleveland, 216-481-9635,

At modern Italian Flour in Moreland Hills:
Course 1: Beef carpaccio with olive oil, capers, lemon zest, reggiano cheese and arugula OR a local green salad tossed with shredded carrots, tomato, radish, baby cucumber, sunflower seeds and roasted shallot vinaigrette
Course 2: Manilla clams with spaghetti, chili and white wine OR a tagliatelle bolognese OR porchetta alla romana made with roasted pork loin, pork belly, smoky potato purée and a warm French bean salad
Course 3: Cereal milk panna cotta with caramelized banana, cocoa nibs and strawberries OR pumpkin budino accompanied by salted caramel, graham cracker and vanilla whipped cream
34205 Chagrin Blvd., Moreland Hills, 216-464-3700,

At inventive Luxe Kitchen in Detroit-Shoreway:
Course 1: Sweet peppadews stuffed with walnut-honey whipped goat cheese and golden raisins topped with aged balsamic OR spinach salad with pickled red onions, toasted pecans and gorgonzola dressing OR fig and goat cheese fritters drizzled with lavender-infused honey
Course 2: Italian crusted chicken with spicy sausage puttanesca, penne, shaved Parmesan and fresh basil OR pan-roasted grouper over lemon-steamed jasmine rice with olive and tomato tapenade OR crispy pork belly served with smashed parsnip and potatos, cherry chutney and pomegranate coulis
Course 3: Vanilla panna cotta topped with port-macerated cherries oR warm zucchini bread a la mode with a pumpkin-caramel drizzle
6605 Detroit Ave, Cleveland, 216-920-0600,

Friday, November 6, 2015

Avant Garde Arts & Craft Show Unwraps Unique Holiday Gifts

There are no potholders, stockings or dollies at the Avant Garde Arts & Craft Show. Founder Becki Silverstein knows shoppers are after something more special. "People want to show their uniqueness in a way that reflects their style and tastes, while also supporting their local community," she says. Started in 2011, the 14 annual Avant Garde shows are now home to more than 100 local vendors. Kick off the holiday shopping season early by stopping at one of these shows: Nov. 7 in Canton, Nov. 14 and 15 in Rocky River and Nov. 21 in Strongsville. For more show dates, visit If you need another reason to browse the whimsical bazaar, a portion of the show's profits go to different local charities, including North East Ohio Make-A-Wish and Cleveland Animal Protective League. We introduce you to five of the fun crafters you'll spot at the show.

Tiny Star Accents: Creator Cassandra Blasé's love for her home, her pets and comic books drives the vision behind her rustic and homey signs.  From the inspirational to the downright nerdy, her creations speak to all kinds of shoppers — especially ones born in Ohio. "I'm Ohio born and raised, so I want to do a lot more with Ohio."  Her hand-painted wooden signs also include varieties for animal lovers and signs with comic-book favorites Spider-Man and Transformers.
Buy This: "Ohio" sign for $15

Cleveland Candle Co.: Here's your chance to truly find your own scent. The company offers an in-house candle bar at its Mentor store. "You can actually sit around a bar top and build your own candles together," co-owner David Gin says. Those not able to make the trip out can choose from new holiday scents that will be debuting in December.
Buy This: 8 ounce fresh apple candle, $12

Necklascarf: Wearing a scarf has never been easier with the Necklascarf, which combines a magnetic necklace clasp with a vibrant statement piece. Entrepreneur Terri Brewer wanted a product that would appeal to women who found infinity scarves too bulky and complicated scarf knots frustrating.  In addition to being stylish, the pieces give back too. Her designer fabric is cut by Vocational Guidance Services, a nonprofit that helps educate and train people with barriers to employment, and sewn by Esperanza Threads, a nonprofit that teaches low-income individuals and immigrants industrial sewing skills. Helping make the trend more approachable is fulfilling to Brewer too. "I just delight in seeing women that come to shows and put these things on and get a big smile on their faces," she says.
Buy This: Patterned Necklascarf, $36
BootEmUp Designs: Bev Burkhart's boot jewelry takes your favorite cold-weather footwear from simple to eye-catching.  Made by hand, the jewelry combines durability, beauty and versatility: tough enough to withstand Ohio winters, each piece is also wearable as a necklace or even as a belt.  The Columbus-based artist loves sharing her passion for boots. "When people put the boot jewelry on, they have a sense of pride about themselves: they pose differently," she says. "It's so incredibly amazing to watch how this transforms people."
Buy This: Flowered piece, $27.50

Dream In Color Jewelry: Artists Sarah Friedenberger and Erica Speer's desire to break away from more traditional gemstone jewelry lead them to create steampunk-style pieces with found objects such as keys, gears, and typewriter parts. "We are recycling objects that tend to get thrown out," says Sarah. "Our motto is 'find your missing piece', and that's exactly what we want our customers to do." So find unexpected creations such as a wire-wrapped skeleton key that takes form as an owl pendant created from watch parts.
Buy This: "A Piece of Time," $40

By Katherine Blubaugh

Thursday, November 5, 2015

There Will Be Film: Russos Return to Boost the Local Film Industry

Photo by Jeff Downie
Joe and Anthony Russo won’t be coming back to Cleveland anytime soon to direct another blockbuster like Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Instead they are hunkered down in an editing bay to finish Captain America: Civil War one day; while the next day they are in a writers' room working out the details of the next two sequentially shot Avengers films.

The brothers who grew up on Cleveland’s East Side have, however, made time to come back and host a symposium on local filmmaking at the InterContinental Cleveland Hotel at noon Nov. 6.

Tickets start at $150 each and doors open at 11:30 a.m. The annual fundraiser for the Greater Cleveland Film Commission focuses on what film production means to our city.

A study by Cleveland State University indicates that since 2009, the film tax incentive has generated a $300 million economic impact on Northeast Ohio, and created 1,100 full-time equivalent jobs. The Avengers and Captain America: The Winter Soldier both took advantage of the credit and aesthetic locales from Public Square to the Cleveland Museum of Art.

For the Russo Brothers, it’s personal.

“It’s something very close to us and we want to do everything we can to encourage filmmaking in Cleveland, because we love shooting [here],” says Anthony. “It’s another step in the process of us trying to help develop and deepen and broaden the film potential in Cleveland.”

Like Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood, they see a region of untapped potential. In Cleveland’s case, it’s a low cost of living and the richness of sites that look great on the silver screen.

During the luncheon, one of the major talking points will be how competitive the industry is. To remain competitive, Plainview erected oil wells. The Russos are only asking for a soundstage.

“We would love to see a permanent studio and production facility developed in Cleveland,” Anthony says. “Most people probably don’t realize how much of a movie is shot on a stage.”

If the region had one, Captain America, Iron Man, and Spider-Man would have all been here last summer.

“We knew we could have taken Civil War to Cleveland if it had a studio,” Anthony says. “But it didn’t, so we had to go to Atlanta.”

At least we have the Nicolas Cage movie, Dog Eat Dog, shooting here until the end of November. WKYC caught up with one of the film’s producer’s, Mark Burman, fawned over the city.

"I'm telling you Cleveland is the next Louisiana," Burman told the news outlet. " People are wonderful here."

“To me it still feels like it’s moving in the right direction,” Anthony adds. “[The film commission] is building on the successes they’ve had and figuring out how to expand and move forward. That’s a great place to be.”

By John Hitch