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Blog: Cleveland isn't defined by its many slogans

2:48 PM, Mar 8, 2013   |    comments
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With the lone exception of "The Best Location on the Nation," Cleveland has never been defined by its slogans.

For that we are thankful, because one of the worst, in my opinion, was "New York's the Big Apple, but Cleveland's a Plum." Too long, among other things, and everyone said that plums turn into prunes, spawning other jokes.

One of my other least favorites -- but one that always made me smile for its incongruity -- is "Burning River," after our industrial waterway -- the Cuyahoga River -- caught on fire in June 1969.

But let's be clear on a few things. First, that was not the first time the river caught fire.

Records show that sludge from industries along the river regularly clogged it up and it was highly flammable sludge. The river had burned as early as 100 years earlier -- 1868 -- and a half-dozen times more before a 1952 fire caused more than $1.5 million in damage.

The last fire began about noon on June 22, 1969, and was put out in a half-hour after causing only about $50,000 in damage.

The fire was started when molten sparks from a passing rail car set fire to oil- and chemical-soaked debris afloat on the river.

Singer Randy Newman even wrote a song about it that was used in the movie "Major League." That song? "Burn on."

Some of the lyrics?

"Cleveland, city of light, city of magic; Cleveland, city of light, you're calling me Cleveland"

"Even now I can remember, cause the Cuyahoga River, goes smokin' through my dreams."

"Burn on, big river, burn on. Burn on, big river, burn on."

"Now the Lord can make you tumble, and the Lord can make you turn, and the Lord can make you overflow, but the Lord can't make you burn."

And know that the birth of the Environmental Protection Agency is directly linked to our river catching fire.

We've been called "The North Coast," something that more people should use more often because of our wonderful lakefront by Lake Erie.

Another one with lakefront references is "The Mistake on The Lake." That one came into vogue around 1978, when then-Mayor Dennis Kucinich was at the helm when the city went into default.

Kucinich was villified when that happened but history shows he was right to do that. I could write a whole blog about the Kucinich days.

But I digress.

One of my favorites is "Cleveland Rocks!" which was coined by native actor/comedian Drew Carey. Cleveland does rock, as it has been home to the best music for decades AND the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame & Museum.

And Carey used it as the theme song for "The Drew Carey Show."

Then there's Cleveland+ or Cleveland Plus. That seems too ambiguous.

And referring back 40 years to 1969 but with the future in mind, I like 2009's "Green City on a Blue Lake."

And altjough it has not been adopted as a slogan, I like actress Betty White's TV show "Hot in Cleveland."

I really think that says it all...because we are.

Have a great weekend.

WKYC-TV

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