December 5, 2016

Trolling Cleveland

A few years ago, I decided it would be worthwhile attending some NBDL games. My thought here is it would get me a window into what pro basketball is like below the NBA level from the player and fan perspective while also getting me into parts of America that I usually wouldn't visit. In February 2013, I made my first D-League trip down to Texas to see games in Frisco, Hidalgo and Austin. I followed that trip up about a year later with a New England swing to Springfield, Massachusetts and Portland, Maine and an overnighter to Delaware about 10 months after that.

Last season, I didn't get the opportunity to make a minor league trip. These things can only happen for me when the Wizards road schedule and a couple of NBDL teams' home schedules align and last year didn't work out. But this year did, and I'm happy to say the Canton, Ohio and Erie, Pennsylvania combination that I've been eyeing for years finally happened. I'll be writing about what I found there over the next month or so.

But before heading to Canton and Erie, I stopped in Cleveland and I'm going to start my story of this trip in that city. This is the first of two posts about my one night in northeast Ohio's busiest city. I have a little bit of a love-hate relationship with the city of Cleveland. On the plus side, I fell in love with the midwest when I went to school at the University of Michigan and spending time in the late fall and winter in that part of the world brings back good memories. On the downside, I can't stand the Cleveland Cavaliers, their star player or their owner. Call me petty or jealous or whatever you will.

Before we get going, let me admit that this post would have been a lot more fun had the Cavaliers not managed to win an NBA Championship. It's difficult for a Wizards fan to truly troll the city of Cleveland now they have some hardware. Anyway, here's some of what happened.

The front of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
One of the reasons I love Cleveland is that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is there. It is probably, all things considered, the biggest tourist attraction in the city today. Now, I have my issues with the Rock Hall and its close close close relationship with Rolling Stone magazine but I love any place that celebrates the history of music. And I guess I love that enough to almost overcome whatever feelings I have about the undue influence that the magazine seems to wield over the Hall. If only they would recognize the achievements of The Moody Blues and Mark Knopfler, we'd be in a much better spot.

The Rock Hall, like any other non-profit, needs donations. One of their primary methods of raising money is to have folks like me purchase memberships on an annual basis to help them out with whatever financial needs they have. I've been a member on and off since before the Hall opened; I was a charter member before deciding to fund some other charities and then deciding I should return. These days, I've been renewing my commitment to the Hall each year through my annual membership dues.

In addition to memberships, which get you free admission to the Museum plus some other benefits, there are some ways to contribute which are a little more imaginative and visible. One of the signature ways of donating to the Rock Hall is to purchase a legacy brick which is then placed for all to see in the plaza in front of the building. There are two sizes available and as part of your gift, you can specify the language on the brick. The larger of the two bricks available for purchase is shown below. Not surprisingly, I think I'd see eye to eye with Chuck Degraf on at least one or two bands.

A couple of years ago, I thought it was finally time for me to pony up some dough and get myself a legacy brick in front of the Rock Hall. After all, I believe in this place enough and could afford to give a little more than just the cost of a membership one year, right? There are two designs available: one which is all text and one which allows fewer characters but also includes the Museum's logo. Since they send you a replica brick as part of this program, I opted for the design with the logo.

But what to have written on the brick itself? Well there's no doubt I'd want my name and some kind of nod to Mark Knopfler, who's absolutely my favorite artist ever, on there. I chose to have the name of one of my favorite MK songs ("What It Is", the first song on his Sailing to Philadelphia album) precede my name on the first three lines. One line left.

Since the Rock Hall's in Cleveland and knowing how I feel about their pro basketball team, I decided it might be fun to have "GO WIZARDS!!" written on the last line. It doesn't change the result of the three playoff series we lost to these guys a decade ago but it would bring me a small measure of happiness to know that there was a brick supporting the Washington Wizards in front of Cleveland's number one attraction. So I did. And then I never visited Cleveland. Until this past weekend.

I found my brick this past Friday morning. I got up early, walked from my hotel before the Museum was open and spent about 20 minutes trying to get the best photographs of a grey brick possible. My brick ended up in an awesome spot. It's pretty much perfectly in front of the main door of the building right behind the red letters spelling LONG LIVE ROCK. All told, I spent about 20 hours in the city of Cleveland. This alone was worth the trip. Maybe next time, I'll stay long enough to make my second visit inside the place.

I'll continue to support the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, with or without The Moodies and any Mark Knopfler band being inducted. I'll also continue to support my beloved Washington Wizards. My support is on display for anyone in Cleveland to see and I love that. GO WIZARDS!!

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