Monthly Archives: February 2015

Book Review — AC/DC FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About the World’s True Rock ‘n’ Roll Band

AC/DC FAQ by Susan Masino

AC/DC FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About the World’s True Rock ‘n’ Roll Band by Susan Masino is the history of one the hardest rocking bands over the last four decades. Masino has been a rock journalist for over thirty years, and has written five books, created and hosted the 94.1 JJOLocal Stage radio show from 1997-2004, and produced 8 local music compilation CDs. Masino also appears in the Van Halen DVD, The Early Years, and Let There Be Rock-The Movie.

AC/DC holds a rather unique position in Rock and Roll history. Of those who listen to rock, I don’t think I met anyone who hated the band. Of those who liked AC/DC, ask anyone to name a bad album or a bad song. Chances are they can’t. Critics will say it is because all the songs sound the same. True, AC/DC didn’t fall into the ballad fad of the 80s or change their style as pop music changed. They sound the same today as they did in the 70s. Some people called AC/DC heavy metal and in reality it has just been rock and roll. When the author interviewed the band and asked how they categorized their music, Agnus Young answered “A rock band. Just a rock band,”

I have read many rock band/singer biographies and this one stands out. It’s not necessarily because of the band, but because of the author. In most biographies, the author either wants to sensationalize or scandalize the band. The more dirt dug up the better the sales. Masino is truly a fan and her excitement shows through the entire book. She tells the good and the bad and almost seems to apologize for the bad. I learned some things from the book that after decades of listening to the band I never knew. For instance, “The Jack”, which just seems like an odd lyric is actually a reference to gonorrhea and Rosie is a real person. AC/DC played as hard as they rocked.

The AC/DC FAQ is an in-depth look at the band. Masino’s method of writing is interesting in itself. Rather than a start to finish timeline, she breaks it done into subjects. Band member biographies, individual albums, individual tours, band influences, tech talk with Agnus Young, and some of her band interviews. This style makes it easy to find what you are looking for if you are wanting to use the book as a reference. Masino writes a good deal about Bon Scott and the effect his death had on the band. Brian Johnson as the new lead singer jumped right in with the recording of Back in Black which is now the second biggest selling album in rock and roll. AC/DC defied the odds. Most bands lose their lead singer and quickly disappear like The Doors or become ridiculed like Van Halen – Van Hagar. AC/DC came back stronger than ever and are perhaps a true team of equals.

This is a detailed and professional history of the band. The personal information on band members might surprise many. The members are not Bently owners living in mansions. Brian Johnson, however, does race cars. But to balance that Agnus doesn’t even have a driver’s license although he did have a mansion built. Perhaps another example of balance and teamwork in the band. The AC/DC FAQ is perhaps one of the most detailed band biographies I have read — Informative, searchable, organized, and personal.

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Book Review — Beat Poets

Beat Poets by Carmela Ciuraru

We are a legend, invisible but
legendary, as prophesied.

Allen Ginsberg

This is a small book, almost small enough for your pocket. Inside covers a wide range of poems. It is more than Ginsberg and Kerouac, but they are included. I recognized Leroi Jones’ work, but as his later name Amiri Baraka. Twenty-eight poets make up this collection and the diversity of mood and messages are great. There is the gloom of the world and life without a future. The cold reclining on the steps of the library to a warmer personal type of poetry.

There is a bit of hopelessness in the series.

— There are
enough fascists &
enough socialists
on both sides
so that no one will lose the war.

Diana Di Prima

My address book is full
of RIPs

Jack Kerouac

balanced to some extent with:

And here I am, the
center of all beauty!
writing these poems!

Frank O’Hara

The Lenore Kandel selection was enough for me to purchase her complete works. Although all poems may not appeal to all people, this is a good sampling of the period and will certainly open doors to those looking a new experience.

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Book Review — The Lords and The New Creatures

The Lords and the New Creatures by Jim Morrison

I first bought a copy of this book in 1982 and still had pages marked with cut up strips of post-it notes. I went looking for this book the other day and I could not find it anywhere. It was weird that a book that I carried abound the military in with several moves suddenly was gone. I ordered another copy and re-read it for the first time in several years. Perhaps knowing more about poetry than I did then might change what I thought about this book.

The Lords I read with new interest. The themes are easily recognizable. There is the city and its grittiness. Different rings of death, the city create different vices. There is sophisticated disease in the outer rings of the suburbs and the hard and unkind vices of the inner city. The thoughts of sex being the center ring of death makes sense in the most biological and evolutionary sense of our existence.

The main theme is the camera and cinema. The camera manages to catch the perfect form of the object or subject while the eye is imperfect. The must rely on the brain to save the image, and the brain remembers things as we want to see them rather than they actually existed. What we see is as the prisoners in Plato’s Cave Allegory see. The camera captures the true form and keeps it. Instead of Plato’s Cave, Morrison uses alchemy. Alchemy is not the father of chemistry he insists, but the search for pureness and the true nature of things. It is an interesting analogy that seems to capture the mysticism Morrison enjoyed.

The New Creatures is dedicated to Pamela Susan Courson, Morrison’s partner and common-law wife. It starts as a tribute and devolves to primitive man and finally to animals. The themes are not as obvious, but the work is more poetic in its form and style.

This is an interesting collection in several ways. The poems are not titles and use the pages to keep them separate. Poems that are longer use Roman numerals at the start of the verse to let the reader know the poem is a continuation. It is not always obvious. This is perhaps the first collection of poetry, outside of independent presses, that has no introduction or biography of the author. The back cover simply states:

Jim Morrison was the lead singer, composer, and lyricist for the Doors until his death in 1971.

A nice collection, if not a bit eccentric. Perhaps it is a bit dated when referring to cinema and photography in this age of photoshop and CGI movies. Morrison did have a degree from the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television and that did have an influence on his work.

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Book Review — Crisis and Reform in the Canadian Armed Forces

Forced to Change by Bernd Horn

Crisis and Reform in the Canadian Armed Forces by Bernrd Horn is a look at the post-Cold War Canadain military. Colonel Horn is an experienced Canadian Forces infantry officer and military educator. He has authored or edited more than 35 books, including No Easy Task: Fighting in Afghanistan andNo Lack of Courage: Operation Medusa, Afghanistan.

The Canadian military had a problem. After decades of preparing for war in Central Europe, its enemy was gone. This would seem like a good problem but what happened instead was that it exposed several problems that had been lying dormant.

Prime Minister Mulroney wanted Canada to be part of the post-Cold War international community bring humanitarian relief and humanitarian aid to the world. He wanted Canada to be part of the peacekeeping force in the new world, and Canada came to Somali.

Not everything went as planned and during the humanitarian mission to Somalia two soldiers brutally beat to death a Somali teen. Gruesome photographs were published and the CBC reporter received altered documents and evidence of a cover up. This act lead to the disbanding of the soldier’s unit the elite Canadian Airborne Regiment. Canadian public opinion of the military fell to an all-time low of 28% favorable rating. Horn tells the reader that it is more than simply the act of two soldiers. It is a deeply rooted problem in the military.

The Cold War set up a system of complacency for the military, especially the officers. Canada had a set role in the Cold War and Cold War exercises. It became routine. It became so routine that it had its own acronym “SALY” — Same As Last Year. There was no need for thinking. Military exercises simply became doing the same thing as you did last year. Once the scripted was written, all that was needed was to follow instructions.

SALY also created another problem. Since all one had to do is follow the same instructions over and over again, mistakes were not tolerated. Officers developed a “cover your ass policy.” If mistakes were made, make sure you are not responsible. Although this may save the officer, troops lost their confidence that their officers would stand up for them. Counter to this in my time as a Marine, I made plenty of mistakes and the culture there was different. When something went wrong, I needed to explain to senior NCOs or my officers what happened. If I acted in good faith, I would be told ” Good initiative, but poor judgement. Don’t let that happen again. Carry on.” It might sound a bit demeaning, but it was better than getting burned for making a mistake. The culture here was “if you can think of a better way try it.” Granted, if you did something stupid or outright dangerous you could expect a much harsher response.

Horn identifies the problems in the old system and explains the actions taken to fix them. The military is difficult to change since the senior people are the most entrenched and least likely to invite or accept change. Horn covers the proposed solutions and what he feels would best help the system. This is a detailed book in the area of real life problem-solving and the military system. As an American, I needed to look up the Somali Affair and a few other events such as the consolidation of the Canadian Armed Forces. There is not much for the average American reader, but American military figures are used and quoted in this book. A timely book for Canadians and those interested in the policies of other countries’ militaries.

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Book Review — The Savage Wars Of Peace: Small Wars And The Rise Of American Power

The Savage Wars Of Peace by Max Boot

The Savage Wars Of Peace: Small Wars And The Rise Of American Power by Max Boot is the detailed history of the wars that are not common knowledge to most Americans. Boot holds a Bachelor’s degree in history, with high honors, from the University of California, Berkeley (1991), and a Master’s degree in history from Yale University (1992). He was born in Russia, grew up in Los Angeles. He was and editor and writer for both The Christian Science Monitor and the Wall Street Journal. He is also the Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

A colleague from work gave me this book to read. I looked at the title and saw “Small Wars” and immediately assumed it was about the Marines. I was, however, only partially right. Ask the average American what wars we fought and you’ll get the Revolutionary War, Civil War, WWI, WWII, Vietnam, Gulf Wars, and Afghanistan. A few might add the War of 1812, Panama, and Korea. Not many realize how many (undeclared) wars America actually fought in its history. I was familiar with most covered in the book from boot camp on Parris Island. The Marines’ history is full these small wars throughout Latin America and Asia.

Several aspects surprised me probably more than they should have in reading this book. Up until the beginning of the 20th century, American Naval commanders had quite a bit of leeway in making American foreign policy. In an era of very slow communications, quick actions by captains set policy. Secondly, the United States and Britain had a rather cozy, if unofficial, naval alliance.

The first part of the book stresses America’s naval history and the navy as an arm of American policy and interests. Its rise from six ships commissioned in 1794, (a privileged officer corps, and dregs, foreigners and a high percentage of blacks making the the enlisted ranks) to a premiere navy with an elite amphibious infantry force. An interesting look at the army is also included. Throughout America’s history, there seems to be a division of power. The army is successful in big wars and fighting outside of the urban environment. Boot states that even today Marines clear cities and the army prefers to go around them. There is good reason for that too. A very heavy mechanized army finds it hard to maneuver huge M1 tanks down third world streets.

Some of this history may be based on tradition. The Marines spent much of the pre-WWI years and the interwar years fighting insurgencies in Latin America. It entered Vietnam as the insurgency fighting force based on experience decades before. Even then, the only small wars manual was written by the Marines. It stated, “Small Wars represent the normal and frequent operations of the Marine Corps.” It is the big wars that gain the attention and the prestige in the military…and the budget too.

In Vietnam, Khe Sanh is a battle the US wanted. A head to head fight and a way to confront the enemy. The US poured supplies and Marines into Khe Sahn to make a stand that lasted over five months. Once the siege was over, Khe Sanh was immediately dismantled. In the meantime, the Viet Cong built up strength. Forgetting everything the US learned about insurgencies, the US was happy to fight a battle on its terms instead of the enemy’s. Sadly, the victory really did not accomplish anything.

There are plenty of events covered from the beginning of America’s navy through the First Gulf War. The book was published in early 2002 and does not include Afghanistan or the Second War in Iraq although the tone of the US failure to successfully fight insurgencies is clearly set. It is almost as if this book was written in hindsight to the Afghan and Iraq war. I found this book to be very informative and well written. This is an important book as modern warfare is quickly turning into insurgency and counter-insurgency conflicts. The days of large naval battles and large scale tank warfare seem to be over. The new warfare needs to be quick, mobile, and have the ability to operate in urban environments. Boot gives us a history of our past battles and a commentary on the present.

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Book Review — The Dalai Lama’s Little Book of Buddhism

Discipline is the supreme ornament and, whether worn by old, young or middle-aged, it gives birth to happiness.
Dalai Lama XIV

The Dalai Lama is one of the most recognized men in the world. For such a surprisingly well-known person in the modern world and, outside of China, he has few enemies. Business leaders pay to hear him speak, although he has much more in common with Marx than Adam Smith. He is a man of compassion and peace. His exile from Tibet, although devastating, is probably what has brought him to the world stage and allowed his voice to be heard.

The Dalai Lama’s Little Book of Buddhism is an introduction to Buddhist beliefs. The belief system is formed around a few core beliefs, but none of them have to with a deity. It is about discovery. From the introduction:

“So Buddha might have been wrong, the Dalai Lama might be wrong. Actually they both encourage us to try to find out where they do go wrong.”

That is quite a statement to make about a belief system and quite a system to allow such a statement. In Buddhism, it is recognized that all is change. It is also a belief system that sees purpose in all things:

“The creatures that inhabit this earth — be they human beings or animals — are here to contribute, each in their own particular way, to the beauty and prosperity of the world.”

This ties into the vegetarianism. Buddhism does not explicitly prohibit the consumption of meat. It is killing that is prohibited. Buddha did, however, prohibit the eating of any meat that was killed on the Buddhist’s behalf. Others find some conflict with eating meat and the first precept “I undertake the precept to refrain from taking life.” The Dalai Lama agrees with the former. He tells the reader that animals have toiled to make our lives more comfortable — from our food to our clothes — and we should be thankful to all our fellow creatures. It does make me wonder what Buddha would say about modern industrialized meat production.

Importantly, much of what Buddism is is in our minds. The mind is our tool that must be sharpened. We must be aware of our actions. We must develop a stable and calm mind that remains so even in the hardest of times. It is in the time of greatest adversity that the potential to do good, for others and ourselves, is the greatest.

This book is quite small, smaller even still when one realizes there is a lengthy introduction and the last third of the book is a glossary and a mini biography of the Dalai Lama. That being said, there is a wealth of information in the Dalai Lama’s words. It almost seems like the book is condensed and the act of reading it expands it exponentially. I have only covered a few points in this review and feel that I could write more than what was written if given the opportunity. An excellent introduction to Buddhism and an excellent sermon for those already on the path.

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Book Review — Dawn of the Algorithm

Dawn of the Algorithm by Yann Rousselot

Dawn of the Algorithm by Yann Rousselot is a collection of traditional styled poetry covering unconventional territory. Rousselot describes himself as “a translator and writer living in the Paris region, originally from England, but also from Brittany, and more realistically from nowhere at all, being an expat-brat with serious issues of cultural schizophrenia.”

Good poetry gets short reviews because the poet says it all and all I am left to do is tell people “Wow!”  Wow! Dawn of the Algorithm is a short collection that covers a great range of ideas from what may be a slightly demented mind — and I mean that in the best possible way. Where else would you read of a depressed Tyrannosaurs Rex? The once ferocious creature that nightmares were made of is now a meme with comically short arms. Science does not treat him much better in finding that he might have been a feathered proto-bird. T-Rex has become the Rodney Dangerfield of dinosaurs.

There is cleverness hidden in the writing too. “Looking between the schist and diamonds “– geology or perhaps just an analogy with juvenile humor. “Film” creates an interesting story in a story. There is a rhythm in Rousselot’s that is missing from a great deal of contemporary work. The rhythm nicely compliments the subject matter. The end of the world played on Youtube in 1080p and online zombie warfare romance seem to take on an unexpected acceptance. Even when our politicians declare war on everything we will be comforted to hear it all read in the familiar voice of Morgan Freeman.

Rousselot takes the reader on a wild and exciting trip into poetry that even people who hate poetry will enjoy. Much of the subject matter is firmly in the age range of the Gen-Xers and Millennials, but it is not out of the reach of hip Boomers either. A very unexpected and enjoyable read. Highly recommended.

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Book Review — America’s Modern Wars: Understanding Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam

“It is unknowable how long the conflict (War in Iraq) will last. It could last six days, six weeks, I doubt six months.”
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, February 7, 2003

America’s Modern Wars: Understanding Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam by Christopher Lawrence is a look at the most misunderstood aspects of modern warfare. Lawrence is a historian, a military analyst, and the director of The Dupuy Institute. The Dupuy Institute is dedicated to scholarly research and objective analysis of armed conflict and conflict resolution.

When America goes to war there are many considerations that should be taken into account. War should not be a knee-jerk reaction by political and military leaders as it usually is with the general population. There is detailed historical and statistical information that can be used in predicting the needs of a successful campaign. America has a poor record of estimating its enemies resolve and predicting its own casualties. Not all is bad. The First Gulf War and Bosnian interventions did have a much lower casualty rate than expected. Our quick venture to liberate Iraq, however, was grossly underestimated.

Using up to eighty-three conflicts that had occurred since the end of World War II, Lawrence attempts to create a standard model of small wars and insurgencies. Lawrence’s data confirms and disproves many standard assumptions about warfare. For example, force ratios have been used by some and discredited by others. However, current data show a tipping point at nearly a ten to one ratio in fighting insurgencies. This ratio does not guarantee success but makes it the statistical outcome in the vast majority of cases. Other factors that come into play and some are expected. If the insurgency is for liberation or political reason, there is much more resolve. Other aspects are included such as outside help, population size, borders, estimating insurgency size (usually dreadfully underestimated), and terrain. A look into the Rules of Engagement gives some very surprising data and it’s not what most people would think.

The use of elections during or after the conflict are studied too. One thing that needs to be remembered in elections is that the counterinsurgency force usually determines when elections are held. This typically means elections will be held after the counterinsurgency believes it has one. An example of this is in Iraq and Afghanistan with the electoral ink-stained fingers making the news. The coalition forces were sure of the election outcome when elections were allowed.

America’s Modern Wars is a very detailed look at modern warfare and its results as far as success or failure of insurgencies and counterinsurgencies. The amount of data in this book and the meticulous use of the data is incredible. Not just leaving his research to stand alone, he brings in other studies and schools of thought to compare to his results. The comparison and contrast itself is a wealth of information. In discussing America’s role in fighting insurgencies, Lawrence discusses America’s military responses and training. It was the Marines that first developed a manual for fighting insurgencies. The Marines experience in Central America in the interwar periods prepared it for Vietnam. The army was almost completely focused on a large-scale war with the Soviets. America found itself very unprepared for a war like Vietnam and really has not learned its lesson as the experiences in the Gulf War and Afghanistan show. A very scholarly and enlightened read.

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Book Review: Daniel Jones Doom

Daniel Jones Doom by Mark   King

It is not odd to remember a book’s storyline after two years. It is also not that odd to remember a book in the context of what was going on at the time when you read it. I do think it is a bit unusual when a book takes priority over scheduled events that you have been looking forward to. I was really looking forward to seeing Rickie Lee Jones in Dallas. She has been a favorite singer of mine, but life events and the military kept me from catching even one of her shows. I finally had a chance to see her in Dallas. At the time, I also received a copy of Frenzy: A Daniel Jones Story to review. I started the book a few hours before catching the train. Read it on the train. Read it at the venue before the concert. Regretted when the lights went down and the show started. Read it on the train home, and finished it late that evening. It was that kind of book.

I was happily surprised to hear from Mark King just over a week ago that he had the second book in the series ready and would like to send me one of the first copies. Daniel Jones: Doom arrived a week later and it had a lot to live up to. Mark King is a private man aside from mentions of traveling, his blog, and living in Norwich, he is pretty quiet about himself. From the information on the cover flap, it looks like Frenzydid pretty well.

I gave up fantasy and science-fiction/fantasy a while ago and read mostly non-fiction. When I tried to pick up a book in the genre its been difficult to want to read through it. I read many of these books in the early 1980s but since then, it has been hard to find a match for me. The Daniel Jones series, however, seemed to hit the spot perfectly. I gave the first book five stars which is really unusual for me to award to contemporary fiction. The characters seemed to be just right. There was a mix of experience, youth, recklessness, and caution among the characters on the side of good. Evil held that relentless drive that made them believable and hated; there was little in the way of their weakness. There was hope, blind hope, the darker side of human nature, and a sense of community mixed into the story in a near perfect ratio.

Doom picks up after Frenzy ends with very little time passing. It keeps to the formula set in Frenzy with the same characters, with a few minor additions. The story now lets on a bit more about the characters and exposes new and perhaps unexpected connections between the core characters. The new revelations work well in the story and are not forced to make the plot work. They blend well together.

Although not much time has passed for the characters between books, plenty of time has passed for the reader. It has been eighteen months and more than two hundred books ago since I read Frenzy. Doom very gently reminds the reader of the events in the past book while progressing in the new story. I couldn’t quite place the character Wolf in the story, I knew who he was, but had forgotten exactly what his role was in the first book. The character’s past from Frenzy was reintroduced in Doom by his rival piecing together Wolf’s past while plotting against him. Cleverly done, and very effective. The important parts of the past are recounted in a non-intrusive way and eliminated my need to go back to the first book and use it as a reference.

The story is well done. The plot flows smoothly and moves at a quick pace. The events in the story are all plausible if you buy into the overall premise of aliens occupying the earth — it is science fiction, after all. The actions of the aliens are really no different than any occupying force in history. Maintain dominance, recruit help from the local population, remove methods of resistance– like weapons, organization, and printed communication. Like pacified populations, most people conform, especially decades after the occupation. A few fight and use their differences to build a strong team. Doom is a sequel that fully lives up to the original book. It is part of the plan and not an afterthought. Like the first book Doom brings closure to the immediate storyline but leaves it room for continuation. A very enjoyable read and well worth the effort. Great science fiction.

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Book Review — Where the River Burned: Carl Stokes and the Struggle to Save Cleveland

Where the River Burned by David Stradling

Among the worst of them all is the 80 mile-long Cuyahoga. Some River! Chocolatey-brown, oily, bubbling with subsurface gasses, it oozes rather than flows. ~ Time Magazine

Where the River Burned: Carl Stokes and the Struggle to Save Cleveland by David Stradling and Richard Stradling is a history of Cleveland in the late 1960s. David Stradling is a professor of urban and environmental history at Cincinnati University. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Richard Stradling is an editor at The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C.

I grew up in Cleveland in a Polish neighborhood in the 1960s and 1970s. My neighborhood was very ethnic with many of the older residents still speaking the language of the home country. I enjoyed growing up there and although I have not been back in over twenty-five years, Cleveland is still my city. What was so great growing up there? I would be hard pressed to say anything more than sentimental reasons. We had the worst school system in the state. We had a marginal football team and baseball team that never seemed to break 500. We used to fish for jumbo perch near off the 72nd Street pier, but pollution killed the fish. The steel mills and Municipal Light and Power seemed to darken the skies with pollution. But as kids, we played football and baseball on the red brick streets and there seemed to be something magical about growing up on Vineyard Avenue on the southeast side of town.

Yes, the Cuyahoga River did catch on fire in 1969. It was a major news outside of the city. Those in Cleveland knew the river had caught fire several times in the past. Cleveland grew fast and with fast growing cities there is rapid development and little planning until there are problems. Problems caught up to Cleveland in the 1960s.

Cleveland is now, and was then too, very segregated. Even in white neighborhoods it was segregated ethnically. The main problem, however, was black and white. Blacks were located in several poor areas of the city including Hough which was the site of rioting. Hough was at a time a very nice neighborhood, but people moved out, the tax base was reduced, businesses followed and eventually it became a ghetto. Race issues and poverty became a major problem for the city. One program with some success was the rat eradication program. The poorer areas of the city were heavily infested with rats.

Pollution was another major problem. I have memories as very young child of swimming in Lake Erie’s Edgewater Park, before the pollution closed the beaches. Imagine a city on a lake, but without any water recreation because of the pollution and algae blooms. Coliform bacteria make the water unsafe for swimming and recreation. 1000/ml was the coliform limit that closed beaches. Some areas along the shore reached 110,000/ml. Mayor Carl Stokes wanted to open beaches again he fought to clean up the Cuyahoga and Lake Erie. He had some success, but nowhere near enough. The city came up with a plan to open beaches. Essentially an area (White City Beach) was sectioned off by pontoons and weighted plastic curtains. The area was treated with chlorine nightly, 350lbs/night, to keep the bacteria count low enough to open the beaches. Stokes and his staff were there to swim along with the public. This approach was called “a pool in the lake” and was something the city was quite proud of. In hindsight, this sounds rather ridiculous. Essentially it is dumping poison into a lake to kill other poisons. On the positive side, it did open portions of the lake to the public and was much cheaper than the billion plus dollars of cleaning up the lake — Money that no one had.

Earthday plays a large role in this book also. The air pollution and water pollution were major problems. On the first Earth Day in 1970, Cleveland school children wrote the mayor about pollution. I was in kindergarten at the time and we drew posters that were going to be sent to the mayor. I drew a rocket, billowing smoke as it was taking off. After drawing and coloring it, I was told rockets used hydrogen and oxygen as fuel so it wasn’t really pollution, but rockets were cool.

Where the River Burned concentrates its history on Mayor Carl Stokes terms as mayor. It was a critical time in the city’s history and Carl Stokes was energetic and determined to fix the city. He seemed to be that rare honest person who cared more for his city than he did for politics. He was from that poverty stricken east side and he rose to become the first black mayor of a major US city. He reminds me of President Ford who walked into so many problems when he assumed office and diligently worked to fix them. It was a superhuman task in both cases, but the men put their duty ahead of personal gain. These were not only men of integrity, but politicians with integrity. Not perfect but they did their best. Stokes turned down a request from LBJ to come to Washington for an MLK memorial, Stokes, chose to stay in Cleveland in potential hot spots personally working to stop any violence or rioting. Compare that to the next mayor of Cleveland, Perk, whose wife turned down a request First Lady Pat Nixon, because the event was on her bowling night.

Yes, the joke about the river catching fire did get old, and yes I still get asked if the river really did catch on fire. It does not bother me anymore. In Cleveland, they fully recovered from it and take it in stride with a Burning River Pale Ale from a local brewery. The book for me is full of memories, places, and names of Cleveland’s movers and shakers. It is a virtual time machine to my much younger days. This is an absolute read for any Cleveland native or those interested in urban pollution and the history of race issues and poverty. Simply outstanding.

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