Fourth of July 1973. Welcome to Cleveland. There was a dead pigeon on the windowsill of my room overlooking Public Square in the Sheraton-Cleveland Hotel. Despite several calls to the front desk, the pigeon remained part of the decor for three long, hot, muggy days. It matched the desolate street scene below. Sure, this was a holiday, but still—at 10 a.m. there was not a single car or person on the street.
I rolled up on my house and parked my bike on my porch. I went in the house, took a seat on my couch, and took a bite into that juicy Big Mac. Life was tough, but it was good. And then something happened that would change the lives of so many people in so many ways . . .
In 1842, two of the world’s great orchestras came to life. In Austria, the Vienna Philharmonic played its first notes at the city’s Imperial Palace on March 28. In Manhattan, nine months later, the New York Philharmonic gave its first perfomance at the Apollo Rooms. In Cleveland that year, cows still grazed peacefully on downtown’s Public Square …
Black Widow. The two words provoke several images, none of them cheery. Most people are aware, at least by repute, of the female black widow spider, notorious for occasionally dining on her male partner after mating. Some are familiar with the archetype of the female serial-killer spouse, memorably rendered in a number of films. Few Clevelanders realize, however, that almost four score years ago their city riveted the attention of the nation for almost a fortnight with sensational news of a serial husband murderess …
I suppose you think that because this column is called “The Great Indoors” its author never goes outside. Just a couch potato who watches TV and eats Smokehouse almonds all night. A shlub who shuffles around the apartment giving himself carpet shocks. A guy to whom nothing happens.
Most of that is right. I do give myself shocks because I don’t pick up my feet when I walk. I’m trying to conquer this. I do watch a lot of TV, but that’s my job. I cover the waterfront. I admit I lie around on my can quite a bit. However, lots of things happen to me—amazing and exciting things. And they happen indoors.
I’d like to begin with my most exciting indoor incident. It involves Irma La Douce and a roach.