Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Sept. 25 memorial party to honor Connie Bloom

There will be a memorial party September 25 as a tribute to the late Connie Bloom, premier Ohio fabric art guru and retired BJ Features Department editor/pet columnist.
It will be 3-6 p.m. in Sumit ArtSpace, where Connie was the resident quilt artist.
There will be a sale of Connie’s fine art quilts t benefit the Artists of Rubber City and Summit Artspace.
Elaine Guregian reports that Connie “asked for music from a favorite band, food from Moe’s and beer and wine to be served, so it should be a lively party and a lovely tribute to Connie."
I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

Connie passed away Monday, August 29.
Connie captured the spirit in her quilts

The late Connie Bloom's description of how the 2008 Brooke McMahan tribute quilt came about typifies Connie’s approach to her work and to people.

Connie’s attention to detail was incredible in her fabric art masterpieces.

I’ll let Connie tell it, from her web site:

Brooke’s Memorial, 2008

The large quilt was made for Beacon Journal reporter Kim McMahan in 2008 from the belongings of her beautiful daughter, Brooke, who died in 2004. I felt the presence of this talented young woman guiding me throughout the eight months it took to create, and during that time, my own mother died.

Making this quilt was an exercise in compassion, a meditation, a prayer, and when my grief was at its worst after my mother's death, Brooke and her quilt pulled me through a storm of misery. I came out the other side understanding things that I still can't articulate.

I set Brooke's quilt against a water background, because she was a swimmer. Her Special Olympics gold medal dangles from the zipper pull of the pocket at the center top. If you look closely, you'll see Brooke's photograph peeking out of the pocket. Her jewelry, class pin and buttons from her clothes are embedded in the piece, bright sparklies that call the viewer closer but don't show well in photographs.

Brooke loved the Titanic, so I made a photo transfer of a sign from the great ship and stitched it in. A piece of her swim towel, which says McMahan, floats along the right hand side. The three large pink squares began with three of her favorite T-shirts. The dogs and cupid and other motifs were cut from her clothes. The entire quilt was pieced, an engineering feat that requires special knowhow when combining fabrics of different weights and textures.

Brooke's mom told me that Brooke loved all of God's creatures, so I introduced other elements to express that, including fish and flowers. Abstract elements such as checkerboards were made from her favorite knits and cottons -- sweaters, dresses, parkas, blouses, skirts and other garments, some thin and stretchy, some thick and nubby, all combined in the finished piece. That is a feat of engineering that strikes fear in the hearts of many a stitcher.

Kim was emotionally overwhelmed when she came to pick up the finished work, which was roughly 3 x 5 feet. The art quilt hangs in her family room.

As an appropriate postscript, Kim wrote that she told her husband, in case their home caught on fire, to grab the Brooke memorial quilt and then run out of the house. That masterpiece means so much to Kim, and it meant so much to Connie.
After decade, traffic deaths rise

Of the 10,000 people alive today in Ohio, one will die in a traffic accident this year.

That’s 9% worse than a year earlier, according to traffic fatality statistics.

Safest place to be on the highways: Rhode Island. Not because it’s the smallest state, but because the deaths per 10,000 is lower than anywhere else. Maybe they commute by boats.
Wyoming has the worst per capita traffic deaths record.
Summit County ranked 9th in Ohio in total traffic deaths last year. Franklin County, which includes Columbus, was No. 1 in an unwanted category.
The increase in traffic deaths, with signs on the roads keeping track of the climbing total, ends a decade-long trend of fewer traffic deaths from year to year.

Not to be catty about it, but I think Ed Suba, Jr., who retired April 29 after 33 years as a BJ photographer, may be entering a, shall we say, hairy phase of his life.
He’s made his four cats the stars of his comic strip, “The Kitty Kingdom.”
Ed takes photos of his cats in various poses (whatever they’re in the mood for; you know cats) and puts comment bubbles above their heads.
My favorite is the one about Michael Phelps, who has won some many Olympics swimming medals that he would drown if he dived in the water wearing them all.
I looked over a dozen or so. Most are funny. Others are philosophical.
Cat people would purr over the comic strip. What we used to call old maids would be delighted and chattering among their friends in the nursing home.
The comic strips are on Ed’s web site, the Kitty Kingdom.
Explains Catman Suba:

“Each cat has its own personality and I base the strips on events in the world, my family and pretty much anything that looks interesting. Most try to be funny while some can be thoughtful and serious. It's something

I've always wanted to try and helps me keep the creative juices flowing, writing and photography-wise.”

It’s Ed’s version of “What’s New, Pussycat?”  Tom Jones, eat your heart out.
I’m trying to decide whether Ed is bonkers or a creative genius. I lean toward CG since Ed has been Ohio News Photographers Association Photographer of the Year three times and was bestowed the Robert S. Carson Award, the organization’s highest honor. He was ONPA president for about 20 years.
He calls it “my first retirement project.”
To go to Ed’s web site, click on http://kitty-kingdom.strikingly.com/
His email is ESUBAJR@neo.com and his phone is (330) 873-9868 if you want to cat … er, chat … with Ed. If you hear screetching on the other end of the line, it may be Ed playing the violin or one of his fabulous fearsome fantastic foursome frolicking favorite fixative flexible fuzzy feline friends.
I think I just broke the world record for alliteration.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Knee surgery for Jane Snow

Jane Snow, the best food writer in BJ history, had knee replacement surgery and is studying the room service menu until her hospital departure.

Women are more than twice as likely to have knee replacements as men.

In a decade, there have been 5.2 million knee replacements in America.

That includes my right knee, which is averaging 48 strokes for 9 holes on the golf course this year at the age of 83.

After her BJ retirement after a 28-year stay, Jane writes a weekly Internet newsletter, See Jane Cook, which former BJ advertising vice president Mitch Allen publishes, after selling advertising for it.

Her cookbook, “Jane Snow Cooks,” is in its fifth printing, maybe sixth by now. It contains her best recipes from her years at Ol’ Blue Walls. My daughter in Aurora swears by it. So do a lot of people who cook at home.
Jane has a potful of national awards for her food writing. James Beard's name is on some of them.

Rehab takes a while, I know. But once that’s behind you, it’s a whole lot better than the pain the knee gave you before a doctor put in the store-bought version.
Good luck, Jane. Maybe you'll be able to join me on the golf course once your store-bought knee does its intended job.

Former BJ Features editor/pet columnist Connie Bloom, the premier fabric art guru of Ohio and, to quote her Facebook description of herself, “journalist, activist, artist,” passed away this morning (Monday, Aug. 29). She had cancer.

Connie was a fervent supporter of Bernie Sanders’ presidential bid, “giving monthly, added another donation today, icing on the cake,” to quote her Facebook post of March 9.

Connie loved dogs and cats. Fittingly, her final post August 3 was a video of a cat chomping on a cake.

Besides Feeling the Berne, Connie also railed against companies destroying the Indonesian rain forest to make a profit from palm oil, Big Pharma “torturing” and over-charging to make a profit and cheered on former BJ political writer Abe Zaidan’s online columns taking the now-dumped University of Akron president Scott Scarborough to task.

“Wit and wisdom from Abe,” Connie wrote, “is always a romp.”

Connie waxed eloquently about Lily, “the white Wonder Whippet,” providing Lily with a brother, Steeler Dittinger, a 10-year-old she took in, too. Connie’s fabric art of Lily is a classic. She also did quilt art for others, including one for recent BJ retiree Kim Hone McMahan about Kim’s late daughter on Connie’s sewing machine, which she called “Bella.”

Writes Kim: “She put so much soul into that work. At times, during the making of it, she expressed a spiritual attachment to Brooke,” Kim’s departed daughter.

Maura McEnenaney had Connie do a pet fabric art for Maura’s husband, former BJ sports editor Ken Krause, that Ken still cherishes in his Medford, Massachusetts home. The subject was Belle, a lab mix that Maura found tied to a fence in Firestone Park in Akron years ago. It took Connie six weeks to transform Belle’s memory into fabric art.

Before Connie did her pet fabric art masterpieces, she visited the family and the pet. She wanted to feel their spirit and their history so she could translate it into another soulful quilt.

Connie wrote that she has “a deep and abiding love of animals and is especially soft on pet portraits, from llamas to snails and dogs, dogs, dogs.” And cats.

She wrote that she “also heeds a higher calling to the creation of memorial art quilts and cloth books, made from the clothes and personal effects of people who have passed.  The finished piece becomes a family heirloom to be passed down through the generations.”

Connie and “Bella” did everything from scratch. “I don’t like following other people’s patterns,” Connie told Megan Combs for a Devil Strip article about Connie. “Everything on my quilts is original. There are no little things from Pat Catan’s.” Knowing Connie, that was no slap at Pat Catan’s, just her preference for doing it, as Frank Sinatra sang, “my way.”

“I riff on it,” Connie told Megan. “I just let go like a guitar player.”

For her Magic Realism art quilt, Connie hand-sew 600 Swarovski crystals into her masterpiece. One at a time.

She hand dyed, hand painted and hand printed much of her cloth.

She began sewing when she was 2 years old, and never stopped till her passing.

Connie was publisher/editor of QSDS (Quilt Service Design Symposium), Ohio’s #1 quarterly online magazine about fabric art. Her fabric art web site has nearly a half-million hits. In 2010 she attended a fabric arts tour in Mexico City.

Pets weren’t always Connie’s modus operandi. After she bought a house in Highland Square with a security system that didn’t keep thieves from breaking into her garage and stealing her new bike, Connie, went to the local animal shelter and adopted Emily, a pooch that was 5 or 6 years old.

“I didn’t like dogs because I had been bitten in the past,” Connie told Megan Combs, “but I knew I had room in my heart for a creature.”

Indeed. But not just one.

She got a two-week maternity leave from BJ management to take Emily, who has since gone to Dog Heaven, to PetSmart training classes. That was Connie in a nutshell: She went in full-bore with her passions.

Ironically, Connie’s 350 square foot Quilting Arts Studio on the third floor of Summit ArtSpace also was targeted by vandals, who smashed the windows to her studio.

WJW-Channel 8 brought its camera to Connie’s studio to do segment on her work.

Paula and I often visited Connie at her 140 E. Market Street studio. She was the resident quilt-maker.

She moved there from her Red Light Galleries, 111 N. Main Street, next to Luigi’s. Red Light was the name chosen because the building once contained a bordello.

We also came across Connie at her tent at the Taste of Hudson that included artists in a variety of media. And at Hardesty Park’s Akron Arts Expo.

She was as immersed in her fabric art as she was in doing a yeoman, often thankless job, at the BJ, including tasks that others considered menial.

BJ reporter Paula Schleis wrote that “only a few people in the art community knew she was ill. Connie had an incredible gift for unique quilt-making. Her talent always left me breathless.”

BJ photographer Mike Cardew wrote: “I never knew what to expect when we worked together on assignment. I did know that I'd have fun and have a good story about the day. She was a kind-hearted person who was a gifted artist. The last time I saw her we talked and she was very happy about her art. She was a good soul.”

I heartily second that emotion, Mike. I worked with Connie in the BJ Features Department. She was a tireless worker and editor and pet columnist. And a damn good person.
The former Garfield High majorette’s husband is Bob Shields. They married in 2008 although they were together for nearly two decades. Connie told me: “Bob is an affable guy with a heart of gold, very supportive of my work. He calls himself my roadie.”

Previously, she was married to former BJ Sunday Editor Lary Bloom.

Connie was part of the 2008 BJ exodus that saw more than 400 years of experience walk out the door. Others included copy editors Charles Montague and Betsy Lammderding, reporter Tracy Wheeler, sportswriter Brian Windhorst, photographers Ken Love and Lew Stamp, librarian Diane Leeders, line-drawer/photographer Ted Schneider and artist Dennis Earlenbaugh.

After one of our reunions, Connie wrote:

“It was wonderful meeting you again, John. I have many fond memories of our working together.”

That goes manyfold for me, Connie. Say “Hey!” to Michelangelo and Picasso for me. You were near their ballpark when it came to fabric art.

RIP, Connie. Lily misses you already. So do I.
To get a greater feel for the spirit that is Connie Bloom, go to her web site by clicking on http://www.conniebloom.com/blog/ Prepare to be dazzled for hours.

For even more samples of Connie’s fabric art masterpieces, click on http://conniebloom.com/portfolio/commissions/4/
BJ 6th in circulation in Ohio

Dayton paper has 54% more staff

Interesting comparisons:

Audited and reported circulation figures.

1.The Plain Dealer – 246,571

2.The Cincinnati Enquirer – 146,511

3.The Columbus Dispatch – 136,023

4.The Blade – 94,215

5.Dayton Daily News – 93,425

6.Akron Beacon Journal – 88,040

7.The Repository – 56,789

8.The Vindicator – 45,012

9.The News-Herald – 32,493

10.      The Lima News – 29,120

So the BJ is 6th in circulation in Ohio, 5,421 lower than the Dayton Daily News, where I was in the sports department as the No. 2 man for 13 years.

Today, the BJ, according to the staff listed on its web site, has 63. The Dayton Daily News, according to the staff listed on its web site, has 97. That’s 54% more staff than Ol’ Blue Walls.

Don’t shoot the messenger.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Health report on Earl McDaniel

Earl McDaniel
Former BJ deputy Metro editor Earl McDaniel, who lives in North Versailles, Pennsylvania, reports good news about his esophageal cancer.

“My most recent scan showed less cancer on the liver. The doctor told me he can't say for sure whether or not the tumor in the esophagus has shrunk or not, but he says it has not grown. He called the news ‘wonderful.’ “

Earl’s career included writing for the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, teaching English at CIS Academy and Metro team leader at the Daily Press, the York, Pennsylvania Daily Record. 

His college education included Pitt and Penn.

Rich Heldenfels, who came to the BJ in 1994 as the TV critic, with Mark Dawidziak switching to critic at large, will retire from Ol’ Blue Walls on Wednesday, August 31, his 65th birthday.

Rich writes:
“Folks: I am retiring from the Beacon Journal. I have some pieces that are set to run after that (retirement) date. I will continue teaching at the University of Akron and expect to keep writing in some fashion. And Connie (his wife) and I will remain in our stately local manor. But it's time to chart a new course.”
Well, this completes my triumvirate of TV critics who created masterpieces under my skillful direction, which I learned from the master, Patrick T. Englehart.
The first was David Bianculli (1980-83), who was responsible for the sun shing in Fort Lauderdale, Florida before he came to the BJ, then moved his vaudeville newsroom show to the New York Post, setting him up for a lot of ridicule, before later switching to Rowan University professor in Glassboro, New Jersey, National Public Radio’s “Fresh Air” and his “TV Worth Watching” web site. David lives in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.
Next came Dawidziak, who brought his wife Sara Showman from Bristol, Virginia and Kingsport, Tennessee with him in 1983, and who later took his talents to the PD, and who puts on shows with Sara and sometimes daughter Becky, about Mark Twain, Edgar Alan Poe, Charles Dickens and anyone else who has white hair and a mustache. And knows more about the “Columbo” TV series than star Peter Falk.
And has written a dozen or so books about some of those personalties.
Dawidziak was still at Ol’ Blue Walls when Rich showed up – but with an R.D. Heldenfels byline at that time – as TV editor. Rich schlupped to Akron from Schnectady, New York. Rich had 32 impressive years at the BJ.

Dawidziak started at the Beacon in October 1983. He was the TV critic until 1992, when he became the movie critic. In 1994, began the critic-at-large title, which meant he reviewed movies, did TV, theater and books and probably swept the newsroom floor before he went home. He left the Beacon in June 1999, moving to the PD as TV critic.

Mark was born in Huntington, New York, not Brooklyn as I once thought for years. A graduate of Harbor Fields High School, Class of 1974, and George Washington University, he was in the Washington bureau for both Knight-Ridder and the Association Press.
Whoever takes over Rich’s TV coverage at the BJ won’t have the benefits of my tutelage.
I retired from Ol’ Blue Walls in 1996, and ever since have been traveling to 55 countries, 44 states, Mountaineer Field for every WVU football and The Villages, Florida for winterizing with former BJ State Desk reporter Paula Tucker when we aren’t at our Tallmadge home.

When I attend the Hudson Art on the Green, I always look for former BJ chief artist Dennis Balogh (a title held at various times by Joe Grace, Bud Morris and Art Krummel).
Paula and I found him today wandering about other 36th anniversary HAG artists although his tent (#80, in case you’re looking) already was open.

Dennis and I have a lot of Ol’ Blue Walls history together.
Dennis drew some of the most memorable covers for the Channels TV guide that I gave birth to in 1980, under the sprvsn of Jim Nolan (those who remember Nolan know that he never used vowels in his memos, so sprvsn stands for “supervision.”).

When Jim and I were preparing for the launch of Channels, on the Sunday of the Super Bowl (which we hoped in vain would be the Siper Bowl, for Browns QB Brian Sipe – damn Red Right 88!), Jim had me provide him with another page proof for every period or comma he inserted.
Hey, I didn’t complain, because the $10,000 in overtime that year (really!) paid for The Pool That Channels Built on Morrison Avenue in Cuyahoga Falls. My children and grandchildren and my late wife Monnie and I enjoyed Nolan’s obsessive behavior for more than two decades. Every supersplash cannonball into the pool was dedicated to Jm Nln.
Dennis and wife Patty have three children, graphic designer Lori in New York City and two sons.
In other years at the Hudson show Paula and I ran into retired BJ photographer Denny Gordon’s wife, Bonnie, and her sculptures; former BJ chief artist Art Krummel, with his paintings; and former Features Department editor and columnist Connie Bloom, with her fabric art (formerly know as quilt art) as Ohio’s fabric art guru. 
The National Association of Black Journalists, National Headliner Awards and Creativity Annual are among Balogh’s awards.
He did portaits of the past presidents of Samford University in Alabama that hang on the campus walls.
He has illustrated the top CEOs of the year for New York Stock Exchange Magazine.
But I take credit for Dennis getting his training wheels by doing Channels magazine cover illustrations for me during my days as television editor at Ol’ Blue Walls. Yeah, right. He already was a legend by that time.

Balogh went from Cooper School of Arts in Cleveland to the Cleveland Press to the Columbus Dispatch to the BJ. Today, he and his wife live in Broadview Heights – phone (440) 546-9223 or email baloghstudio@yahoo.com if you want to renew old times.

After 21 years at the BJ, starting in 1985, Balogh was part of a major exodus in 2006 when 335 years of experience walked out the door. The place has never been the same, with the staff shrinking from 250 to less than 60. Those who remain are just as dedicated, but there are too many ownership downsizing alligators encumbering their efforts.

In 2000 the Beacon art staff included Terence Oliver, John “Derf” Backderf, Art Krummel, Rick Steinhauser, Phil White, Dennis Earlenbaugh and Dennis Balogh. It used to be if you said, “Come here, Dennis,” when Dennis Haas also was there, a crowd would show up.
Now, they’re all enjoying a second life without the BJ, just as I have for 20 years. But our beautiful and fun memories will live with us till we move into the cemetery permanently.
They are painting, making fabric art history in Connie Bloom’s case, enduring earthquake tremors in New Zealand every week in Massey University Journalism faculty member Cathy Strong’s case or traveling to 55 countries and 44 states, in my case (with Paula Tucker, former State Desk reporter, at my side), when we’re not spending 4 to 6 months in Paula’s 2nd home in The Villages, Florida, where we escape Ohio’s winters that overwhelm our Tallmadge home.
Dennis reports that Art Krummel and wife Charlene Nevada sold their retirement home in Garden City, South Carolina because the nasty weather in Ohio they were trying to escape followed them there. They bought the place in 2010.
That’s why Paula and I rotate between The Villages, where it’s not as nasty as Ohio’s snow and ice in the winter, and Tallmadge, where it’s not Devil’s Oven weather like The Villages in the summer.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

BJ Newsroom retiree has a fabulous trip awaiting him.

Instead of going to Alaska, he’s making a sharp left turn to Santiago, Chile and Ushaia, Argentina where he will board a small ship to cross Drake Passage to Falkland Islands and St. George Island.

Writes Chasm, an Ohio University and Steubenville High grad who lives in Stow:

“With good luck and weather, will be able to use ship's powerful navigation binoculars to get look at Antarctic Peninsula. Should be interesting.”

Indeed, Chasm.

You will be hitting places where I’ve never been, despite visiting 55 countries and 44 states.

Bon voyage!

He’s not the only BJ traveler. The folks in that Primo’s Deli photo have been to Japan, South Korea, China, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, just about every country in Europe and several in Africa and nearly every state in the USA.
And that doesn't include the BJ escapees in the next article on this blog featuring the travel of Sarah Vradenburg and Diane Wright.
Chasm began at the BJ in 1970 and joined Ted Schneider, Jr. and Lew Stamp in walking out the door for the last time in 2008. My math tells me that’s 38 years at Ol’ Blue Walls, or 12 years more than I put in under the tutelage of Patrick T. Englehart and Harry Liggett.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

No moss growing on BJ’s rolling stones

Escapees from Ol’ Blue Walls certainly get around.

I just returned from five days in North Carolina.

BJ newsroom retiree Sarah Vradenburg out-did me. She’s on a Danube River cruise in Europe.

I loved the Danube cruise with Paula from Budapest through Vienna to Nuremberg, Germany.

Former BJ librarian Diane Wright will be out-doing both of us.

Diane will be doing a fall foliage cruise from New York to Halifax in September, a trip to Iceland in October and then a journey to Thailand, my favorite country of the 55 I’ve visited (along with 44 states).

Monday, August 22, 2016

This is a photo of me on Grandfather Mountain. As promised, Grandfather Olesky met Grandfather Mountain, which is 5,946 feet high near Linville, North Carolina.

The swinging bridge we walked across is exactly 5,280 feet high, which is one mile, therefore it’s called the Mile-High Bridge.

On the same day I visited Blowing Rock, frequented over the century by Cherokee and Catawba tribes, which is 3,566 feet.

And Mount Mitchell, at 6,684 feet.  The nearest higher peaks are in the Black Hills of South Dakota and the highland foothills of Colorado.

So in one day I ascended an accumulative 14,792 feet. Mount Everest in the Himalaya is 29,029 – highest in the world. I think I’ll skip that one. After all, I am 83 10/12 years old.

But it’s good to be home in Tallmadge . . . till the next trip.

After 54 countries, 44 states, 20 winters in Florida . . . who knows where that will be?