Friday, April 21, 2006

Just As the Burning River Infamy Slows,
Ten-Cent Beer Night Makes a Comeback

Some time ago, I wrote about how the whole issue of monitoring kids' online presence can be troubling to parents. I'd recommend to anyone interested in this topic, especially those dealing with it as parents, this article. An LA Times staff writer goes on an interesting voyage of discovery with her daughter and MySpace, trying to find the right balance between empowering and protecting her. I feel the mom's pain, and I suspect others will too. Anyway, there's much food for thought here. But these complicated scenarios are only going to proliferate in coming years, as we increasingly webify our lives. And it will make life difficult not just for kids below the age of majority. This article in the John Carroll student newspaper caught my eye: a 21-year-old resident assistant was fired for posting photos of drinking with underage students in the popular Facebook site. She's currently appealing, so we'll be sure to stay with this case and find out how it's eventually resolved.

Some Infamous Cleveland Calamities Never Die; They Just Grow More Legendary. In the new book, oops—20 Life Lessons from the Fiascoes that Shaped America, an entire chapter is devoted to the infamous 10-Cent Beer Riot at Cleveland Stadium in 1974. The authors, both with ties to LA Weekly, call it “the most ill-conceived sports promotion in American history—and a pivot point in the new temperance movement.” They go on to say: “Make no mistake: from the very start, this was an absolute Hindenburg of an idea—grandiose, ill-conceived, and with a potential for explosion that should have been obvious.”

Just when you thought the infamous burning river was receding from the national consciousness, this bit of Cleveland lore seems headed for its own star turn. That's all to the good, I think. As I've always told folks from elsewhere, my hometown--so rich in internationally resonant infamous moments (the burning river, the losing sports teams, the mayor's hair catching on fire and--my personal favorite--the mayor' s wife turning down a White House invitation to keep her regular bowling night) and shoulda-woulda-couldas (losing Rockefeller and his oil empire and barely missing out to Detroit on becoming the HQ of the auto industry)--is actually a great place from which to write. The material certainly never gets dull. Let's face it, sometimes failures and fiascoes are just more riveting than success.


At 1:59 PM, Anonymous Lou said...

My favorite: June 1980, Ted Stepien, a bunch of softballs and the Terminal Tower. Wanna play catch at 700 feet?

At 3:52 PM, Blogger Scott Kovatch said...

&customerAn excellent book sort of related to the topic of 10-Cent Beer Night is The Curse of Rocky Colavito by Terry Pluto. Terry is a great writer, and there's lots of great stories about the Cleveland Indians of the 1970's and 1980's.

At 4:51 PM, Anonymous Sarah said...

I gave that book to my father for his birthday. (I even bought it at Appletree.)

At 8:51 AM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

How could I have forgotten about that crazy Stepien gimmick? But then, he almost needs his own category for memorably crazy Cleveland moments. Scott, you're right about Pluto's greatness, and yet I've still never read that book. I should do so sometime. And Sarah, thanks for your reference (if that's indeed what it was) to my continuing campaign to encourage people to patronize the independent bookstores. Good for you.


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