Thursday, January 15, 2009

Cleveland Book Club Part II

The world never needed something the way it needed a biography from Cleveland hero Chuck Schodowski… you know, Big Chuck. If you’re from Cleveland, of course you know Big Chuck & Lil John. They’re as recognizable a tag team as Carson & McMahon or even Hulk Hogan & Mr. T. Their lame skits and Parma approved kitsch is strangely charming and more comforting than a plate full of sausage and a Brownies win on Sunday.

It’s too bad this book isn’t as funny as the skit where Lil John finds gas for twenty cents only to look up and see his car is parked in front of fantasy island not the full service island. That was a fucking gas… for real. The book, not so much. The best I can say is that Schodowski lived a charmed life and he is someone to look up to as a true icon in our city. He never left and he had ample opportunity to do so as Hollywood loomed in the distance (I wish I was as smart as him. But that’s personal).

His book would be better on tape (recorded at the Clark Bar) as it reads like a real proud old timer telling stories at the local VFW hall over dollar cans of Natural Ice. And there really are some great Cleveland tales between the name drops and TV8 rhetoric. His days drinking with Ghoulardi could be made into a movie and the more I read about Lil John, the more I wanted to buy him a drink at Shooters or maybe a lap dance at Christies. And who knew the latter got knocked down by Mike Tyson only to pinch the dudes ass post-prison stint?

I love that fact that Schodowski loves Cleveland. And he does it with a passion that is rarely seen in this era of hipster hideaways like Brooklyn, Chicago and LA. If Big Chuck had it his way he would have been just another working class bloke with a house and some kids and a shit load of memories. In a sense he did have it his way but with the house and the kids came the strange fascination of an entire city and the respect of millions of kids who grew up in front of a television.

I know Big Chuck is getting up there in age but I hold on to a hope that I will run into him some Friday evening in a tavern with something like Booker T & the M.G.’s playing on the juke. I will gladly spend all the money in my wallet keeping the drinks coming so that I can hear all of these stories again, from the mouth of Big Chuck and with all the dirty, drunk parts left in.

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