I had the occasion on my latest trip to Cleveland to stop by a couple of places that were formative in my early self-education. The first was the former Coventry Road Books, now known as Mac's Backs, which is located in what was once the counter-culture area of the city. It was here that I could find books that were offered nowhere else and be introduced to ideas and perspectives that were beyond those presented by any of my high school teachers. It was in this neighborhood that a seminal indepedent theater company was founded and located, where the first and only Greenwich Village-style coffee shop in the city would be found, and where highly original musical acts would perform. Even in college, when home for holidays, I would make the trek to "the road". It's also the only non-university bookstore where I could find copies of the poetry of James Magner, of whom I wrote a couple of years ago.
[Forgive the 'cloudiness' of the photos; it wasn't smoky, I was using the phone's crud cam.
As ever, click to enlarge.]
Although smaller than it once was, as the aforementioned coffee shop has expanded into the bookstore, it's still a source of uniqueness. As a bonus, next door is Record Rendezvous, where I bought my first "real" album. [It was Sgt. Pepper, in case you were wondering.] "The 'Vous" store downtown was where the term "rock and roll" was coined. Now, it mostly sells t-shirts and drug paraphernalia in a rather poor attempt to evoke the lost relevance of the neighborhood.
Also, 'cash' for old record albums, which are now back in vogue.
The other source of my autodidactism was the Cleveland Museum or Art, which is the finest of its kind in the world, boasting one of the West's largest collections of Asian art and medieval armor, along with impressive collections of Western art. It's also absolutely free to the public.
The new atrium connects all of the buildings of the museum, which is wise given the severe weather of the Midwest, and also serves as a great place for weddings, graduations, and other celebrations.
This was my favorite exhibit when I was a boy, for obvious reasons.
An 8th Century portable altar. Nice, eh?
This is approximately the size of a shoe box.
Shiva dancing above the meditative garden: