Miles Writer Thoughts, observations and conversations on things literary and not so Sun, 23 Jun 2013 00:59:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 A Gallery of Camera Phone Photos Sun, 23 Jun 2013 00:59:31 +0000 Nothing more than a sampling of some camera phone photos I’ve taken over the past year or two.








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A Tourist in My Own City Tue, 21 May 2013 17:06:28 +0000 Last week during some time off, I spent a half day wandering around downtown Cleveland. The weather was a typical beautiful May day, with comfortable temperatures and nothing but blue skies above. If you haven’t been downtown lately, well, a lot has changed and continues changing. Every once in a while I like to take some time and reacquaint myself with the city from the point of view of a pedestrian, the way a city was meant to be experienced.

A few photos follow. (Click on the image to see it full size.)


Work on the new Innerbelt bridge continues.



More bridge work.



The new Transformer Station in Ohio City.


The Transformer Station in Ohio City.



The frieze of the older section of the Transfomer Station.



The Ernst & Young building, part of the Flats East Bank Project, almost completed.



The fabled Medical Mart, almost ready for its grand opening.



Artsy close-up view of the Medical Mart.



The Standard Building.



The old National City Bank Building on Euclid Ave.



A facade upgrade for the building housing the City Club.


The Breuer Tower, former Ameritrust Tower.


The old skywalk connecting parking garages with parking garages with buildings (which will hopefully be coming down soon.)


Facade close-up of the Rose Building, E. 9th and Prospect.

]]> 0 April Photos Sun, 14 Apr 2013 19:06:18 +0000 Some photos taken between movies at the CIFF (Cleveland International Film Festival) this past week:















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March 2013 Photo Round-up Sat, 30 Mar 2013 14:39:15 +0000 The old, the new, the enduring. (Click on image to get the full size.)

Carter Rd. with the new Columbus Rd. bridge deck in background

Carter Rd. with the new Columbus Rd. bridge deck in background


Demolition-in-process, Carter Rd.

Demolition-in-process, Carter Rd.












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Some New Photos, Feb ’13 Mon, 18 Feb 2013 02:12:05 +0000 A few recent photos of the Innerbelt bridge project and surrounding environs.








]]> 0 The Next Big Thing: A Literary Q&A Chain-letter… sorta Wed, 06 Feb 2013 12:18:44 +0000 So a few weeks ago, my poet friend and co-press mate Nancy Flynn tagged me in The Next Big Thing, which she aptly described as “six degrees of separation meet a literary chain letter.” The idea is that you answer some interview questions and post them to your blog and tag some friends of yours who will do the same the following week. Below are my answers to the questions about my recent book of poems “Departures.”


What is the title of the book?

The title is “Departures.”

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Initially, the idea was to just put together a manuscript of poems and submit it to a few presses and see if anyone would bite, so to speak. I had a bunch of poems written, some of which had been published in a variety of places, and so I figured I had enough material to put together a small book.

What genre does your book fall under?

It’s a book of poems. Most people would say they are very short poems, no epics here.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

I like the fact that this question doesn’t really pertain to my book, since it’s not a novel or short story with characters but a book of individual poems. Although, I suppose one could take the voice of a particular poem and imagine or bring a character into being based on that voice. Anybody out there interested in making a poetry video?

Oh. What actors? I have no idea. But I suppose if an actor had to play me, I might say James Franco, who played a wonderful Allen Ginsberg in the movie “Howl.” Then again, I’ve been told I resemble Ray Romano, so there might be a role for him as well.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

This is where I’ve been, and now I must be leaving, heading onward, ever onward.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

The individual poems were written over roughly a four-year period. I didn’t set out to create a single manuscript with a single theme in mind, but rather looked at what I had and selected what I thought was my best material.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

After several years of writing poems and having some of them published, I felt my writing undergoing a gradual change in direction in terms of my own developing voice as well as themes that I was beginning to explore. So I gathered up what I had and looked at the result. And that’s actually where the title for the book came from. I could see a sort of departure on several different levels; a thematic departure that was probably connected to certain changes in my personal life as well. Also, as a writer, I felt that I’d arrived at a place where I didn’t have much left to say in the way that I was used to saying things, if that makes any sense at all. Hence, the last poem in the book, “Early Departure,” hints at themes that began to occupy my imagination more and more, such as the looming presence of history, both collective and personal family history, and our sense of individual identity, themes that are more urgent and pressing to me at this time in my life.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Well, the devil and a vulture make brief appearances, and there are a few poems dedicated to some dear literary friends who have had a big impact on my life.

Is your book self-published or represented by an agency?

It was published by Burning River Press, a small press based in Cleveland, OH run by Chris Bowen.

My tagged writers for next Wednesday, February 13th are:

Bree (poet, author and small press publisher extraordinaire)

Sarah Marcus (Sarah has a forthcoming book, “Backcountry” from Finishing Line Press)

John Dorsey (legendary underground poet and screenwriter, John has a new book, “Tombstone Factory,” forthcoming from Epic Rites Press)

Mike DeCapite (author of the underground Cleveland classic “Through the Windshield” and more recently “Creamsicle Blue” and “Radiant Fog” from Sparkle Street Books)


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New Orleans 2012 Tue, 01 Jan 2013 15:52:05 +0000 There’s a reason I’m posting these photos from New Orleans here on my blog instead of where I was originally going to post them. I had seen an announcement for a photo contest and was thinking of submitting a few photos. I was all ready to upload when I read through the agreement and abruptly changed my mind. Why? Because by submitting anything (including the photos I was going to submit) to this website, I would be granting this organization (a news organization, no less) absolute free reign with my photographs to do whatever they see fit with them (to publish, distribute, edit, alter, promote, etc. etc) in perpetuity, with absolutely NO attribution or compensation. Call me crazy, but that doesn’t sound all that fair to me. So I’m posting some photos here on my blog instead.

The other reason is that on this cold, cloudy and snowy January 1st, I want a little reminder of what a steamy and humid August in New Orleans feels like.

Morning at Jackson Square

Morning along Royal St. in the French Quarter

Morning shadows along Royal St. in the French Quarter

View along Magazine St. in the Warehouse district


Washateria along Esplanade Ave, Mid City

House in the French Quarter

Indecipherable natural language, Audubon Park

Sidewalk evangelism, Bourbon St.

Fading advertisement, Warehouse district

Typography, Bywater district

Sculpture garden at Museum of Art, City Park

Side-of-building art, Treme

Self-portrait among demolition debris, Warehouse district

Sky and wires, Bywater district

Cloud reflections in St. John’s Bayou, Mid City

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2012 CLE Photos Thu, 27 Dec 2012 01:49:11 +0000 A very brief and subjective look back at some of the photos I took around the city this year:

Self-portrait with the remains of the CSU Art Building on Chester Ave. (March)

Peter B. Lewis building (April)

Skyline from Abbey Ave. (July)

Road work on Abbey Ave. (July)

Towpath extension groundbreaking ceremony, Scranton Rd. (July)

Towpath extension groundbreaking ceremony, Scranton Rd. (July)

Port Authority door, Ingenuity Festival (September)

Carter Rd. bridge in the Flats (October)

Carter Rd. bridge in the Flats (October)

Peter B. Lewis from inside the new MOCA building (November)

Triptych street scene from inside the new MOCA building (November)

Looking out from within the new MOCA building (November)

Wall, inside the new MOCA building (November)

Demolition dust, Euclid Ave. (December)

 CSU Viking Hall demolition (December)

CSU Viking Hall demolition (December)

]]> 0 In the Publisher’s Studio Sat, 08 Sep 2012 16:54:39 +0000 During my recent New Orleans vacation, I stopped in to see my friend Joseph, founder, publisher and chief idea man behind the Language Foundry, which was birthed in Cleveland a few years back, now with a New Orleans “branch.” He was kind enough to let me wander around his studio and take some photos.











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Uncovering Harmonia’s Newest CD “Hidden Legacy” Tue, 04 Sep 2012 12:20:24 +0000 The newest CD from Cleveland’s Harmonia, masters of folk and Gypsy music from Eastern Europe, is titled “Hidden Legacy.” It could just as easily have been called “living legacy,” which is exactly what this talented band of musicians is doing by playing the traditional music of Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

The CD title, especially, resonates with me because I grew up in just the kind of world that bandleader Walt Mahovlich describes; the close-knit immigrant communities that seemed far removed from the mainstream culture surrounding them, and which few people outside of those communities even knew existed. Of prime importance within these communities is music, coloring and animating every major life event and then some; births, christenings, weddings, holidays, feast days as well as everyday life.

This music survives and thrives in America, thanks in large part to the successive waves of immigration from Easter Europe. Most recently, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War saw a new influx of immigrants from Eastern Europe, adding vibrancy to existing immigrant communities and bringing many classically trained musicians to these shores, including Harmonia’s Alexander Fedoriouk, master of the cimbalom, a variation of the more familiar hammered dulcimer.

The liner notes produced by the band’s accordionist Walt Mahovlich brings an ethnomusicologist’s depth of knowledge, providing background on every song, including cultural factors such as whether the songs are played at weddings or in cafés or after a long night of partying, and also includes notes on some of the instruments.

The opening violin strains on the CD’s first track “Romanian Ritual Dances” sets the stage for the rest of the CD with its instrumentation and it’s changing tempo, the familiar 4/4 time groove grounds the song, making it feel familiar. Then about half way through the tempo doubles, as does the energy.

“In the High Pasture” slows things down a bit and features the stellar voice of Beata Begeniova.

The very next track, “Ukrainian Polka,” has the cimbalom keeping rhythm, giving the driving melody over to Andrei Pidkivka playing the “sopilka”, a type of flute.

And so it goes throughout the CD, alternating between fast, high-energy pieces and slower, even melancholic, numbers. From the “Slovak Shepherd’s Song” featuring the “fujara”, a six-foot long flute, and “The Mother’s Lament” with Andrei Pidkivka on the “nai” or pan flute, to the “Seven Step Hora” featuring the violin playing of Steven Greenman, and “Ukrainian Mountain Music” which closes out the CD with a fiery mix of music from the Carpathian highlands, featuring the beautiful voice of Beata Begeniova once again.

This eclectic mix of instruments and songs and influences from across Eastern Europe is what gives Harmonia its distinctive sound. Coincidentally, it’s what also makes Harmonia a uniquely American band, in the sense that its members trace their heritage back to Croatian, Hungarian, Ukrainian, Slovak, Rusyn, Jewish, and Czech roots, yet have come together to continue the shared musical and cultural legacy of the peoples of these once Austro-Hungarian lands. And for a new generation they provide a window into a world that in one sense has long ago passed away, but in another remains a living, and a little less hidden, legacy.

You can catch Harmonia in concert this month at Nexus, 627 Prospect Ave., Cleveland, OH 44115, 216-912-2816, on Friday September 28th at 8:30 PM. Tickets are $15.

Or next month, Thursday, October 18th with DJ Kishka, at Sterles Slovenian Country House, 1401 East 55th St., Cleveland;, 216-881-4181.

Check them out at or on Facebook as Harmonia Band.

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