The machine is grinding us into food for the system. Fight the system. Fight the machine. It is not your friend. 
Sage Against The Machine.
Libertarian Humanist.

Defining Akron: Poor. Hard Working. Addicted.

December 8, 2019

Knight Foundation gave Akron $104,000 to create new Office of Integrated Development.

I'm pretty sure what we mostly got for that money was this shiny 61 page full color brochure. I have a copy of the printed version. It's fancy.

From this article, our mayor, Dan Horrigan writes:

Vision-driven, community-focused development is not just the right thing to do, its also good business. My hope in the coming years, as we take this more inclusive approach to development, is that our residents find increased economic opportunity for themselves and their families and an overall improved quality of life.

Early on in the brochure the mayor writes:

The City of Akron is not the first community to undertake this type of restructuring. Cities including Detroit, Lansing, Louisville, and Minneapolis have each engaged in this type of process in recent years. While the City of Akron learned from those cities and hopes to inspire other cities, the resulting mission, values, structure, and plan for OID are authentic to the realities and many opportunities present in this community

And in the ABJ article, the new OID director, James Hardy says:

While developers of the strategy looked at what other cities, particularly Detroit, are doing to address similar legacy economic and community issues, this plan is not a cut-and-paste of those other efforts, Hardy said.

It is authentically Akron, he said.

Let me translate that for you: Detroit is cooler than us. We're just going to do whatever it is they are doing.

And let me tell you what else is going to happen: This $104,000 document is going to be put in a drawer and never be revived again.

They talk about all these "indicators" they are going to use to measure success. Who's going to be looking for these indicators? City Council? City council is jut now a rubber stamp for the mayor's office. If they want to keep their jobs they'll shut up and do what they're told.

We've had untold numbers of these kinds of studies. Have you ever once heard of them to be reviewed again? Shoot. Do you remember the commitments the mayor made on his first website when he first ran for mayor? I know he had them. But they certainly aren't there any more. And I've never heard him mention them again.

Let me tell you what ISN'T in this 61 page glossy waste of money:

  • Our gun violence issue.
  • Our addiction issue.
  • Our overdose issue.
  • Our D rated school system issue.
  • Our high cost of water issue.
  • Our high property taxes issue.
  • Our $36,223 median household income issue.

These are issues that are not being dealt with anywhere in this document but are obviously incredibly significant factors in determining the future "success" of Akron.

On page 31 there is a discussion on "inequities":

They bring this up because Akron has a serious race issue. 30% of our population is African American and is no where NEAR represented to that percentage in the city or businesses in the city.

They used business speak to get at the REAL issue: (from here):

Akrons black households earned 59 cents in 2018 for every $1 made by white households

What I didn't see ANYWHERE in this pretty, glossy 61 pages (of bullshit) was how Akron African Americans are going to get the WHOLE DAMN DOLLAR (shout out to Nina Turner at the March 2016 Bernie Sanders rally at the Civic Theater for saying something similar.)

Look: All this glossy print is cover so they can keep doing exactly whatever the hell it is they want.. like our mayor continuing to give his brother-in-law unbelievable pay raises and promotions. (For 10 years Chris Ludle was  a highway maintenance superintendent. Then when his brother-in-law became mayor he instantly got a cabinet position as citys deputy public service director (where he oversaw last winter's snow plowing debacle). And after this most recent election win, Dan Horrigan gave his brother-in-law another upgrade to the Director of Public Service)

They just want you to "look at the birdie" while they do nothing other than make themselves richer.

These people are all in way over there head. The only reason they have these jobs is because they play ball with the big construction companies in Akron. That's the ONLY reason they run this city. It's certainly not because they deserve it or are capable of pulling off this huge transition that is needed to move Akron to its next inevitable identity crises.

I've recently been getting into the punk music scene Akron had.

The Bank was really the start of it all.

From here: Derf's Blog

Akron was, for 100 years, the commercial center of city life. Like most downtowns, it fell inexorably into ruin during the Sixties as white-flight, urban sprawl and gleaming, new shopping malls drained it of its vitality. By the late 70s, half the stores were closed, replaced by seedy bars and porno shops. Plywood covered the windows of soot-blackened buildings. Streetlights, the ones that worked, cast the street in an eerie apocalyptic glow.

This was the backdrop of what was truly the foundation of the entire punk rock movement.

Also from Derf's Blog (this post is SO good. If you want to know more about Akron's punk scene you should really give it a read.)

Most people think punk rock was born in New York at CBGBs... or in London with the Sex Pistols. Neither. The Pistols didn't form until 1976, inspired by the Ramones. CBGBs opened in 1973 and early punk acts started playing there later that year. Devo was already playing gigs in Akron by that time, as was Rocket From the Tombs up in nearby Cleveland. The Ramones were inarguably the most influential punk band, but Devo and RFTT rose out of the societal muck at the same time.

And truthfully, that is who we are to this day. We have spit shined downtown Akron (like lipstick on a pig) but in reality we've been in a perpetual recession for 50 years.)

From here:

Still, he [founder of the Akron Sound, Rubber City Rebels' lead guitarist Buzz Clic] recalls the tenacity and creativity of Akron musicians in the '70s. "On the whole, Northeast Ohio was a pretty depressing place to grow up but it made you tough," he said. "You had to figure out ways to amp up the excitement. They were just smart guys that had something to say and figured out a way of getting it out there."

Ask any smart young person TODAY why they are still living in Akron and 80% of the time you are going to hear the same exact answer: "My family lives here."

We aren't here because a $36,223 median household income and dirty needles and daily shootings and endless overdoses is so exciting. We are here because our families are here. And then we make the most of it.

Ask someone from Seattle what they think of the Midwest. They likely will tell you that all us Midwesterners do is work. That's not too far off.

We work all the time and we're poor. That's the reality of Akron Ohio.

If you aren't living that reality you likely work for the city. Otherwise, you moved to the suburbs and probably work at one of our hospitals.

But here's the thing... we are like the original and perpetual grunge scene.

Tell me this isn't you on your porch last night:

Nirvana in 1989.

We are NOT this stupid $350,000 bronze statue that's going to go in the middle of our stupid multi million dollar roundabout on Main Street:

This is going in the center of our town and is being made by an artist from Zanesville.


Just last night I was talking to a truly amazing Akron artist who creates mind blowing sculptures all over Akron about this "situation."

He was like: "It is what it is. Don't get so stressed out about this, man. You should drink more and smoke more pot."

That's probably my problem. I can't handle recreational drugs. So all I can do is prescribed anti-depressant medication.

This is the Akron way.

Akron is incredible over and over and over again. Each time rising up a little bit only to be shot down. But we just shake it off, say "it is what it is" and keep being us.

Sometimes, when we are REALLY good we leave Akron so we can actually realize our greatness and become successful. People like this include:

  • John Brown
  • Chrissie Hynde
  • Devo
  • Lebron James
  • Black Keys

Akron is a place where we do great, incredible things and never expect anything to come of it. We just do it to do it.

We would all do well to refresh our memory of Bob Dobbs and the Church of the SubGenius.

Devo actively embraced the parody religion Church of the SubGenius. In concert, Devo sometimes performed as their own opening act, pretending to be a Christian soft rock band called "Dove (the Band of Love)", which is an anagram of "Devo". They appeared as Dove in the 1980 televangelism spoof film Pray TV.

Akronites may be the greatest disciples of "Slack" to ever live.

Of course politicians are going to fight this image every step of the way. But fuck them. They aren't us. We are us. They are just parasites making hundreds of thousands of dollars off our Akron tax dollars as they drive us closer and closer into $1 billion worth of debt.

We don't need $100,000 to make a study. We ARE the study. We know who we are.

To that end, I was playing around on Photoshop last night. (Don't worry. I didn't bill Akron tax payers a single cent for the work.) I've touched up our city seal a little bit. Here's my suggestion:

If I had to pick, I'd say the greatest Akron contributor to society is Dr. Bob... the co-founder of AA.

Every year we have Founder's Day here in Akron. (It's June 12th, 13th, & 14th, 2020 this year.)

People from all over the world come to Akron to remember how AA got its start right here in Akron.

You can hear the Akron futility in each of the 12 steps. (Just replace the word "Akron" for the word "Alcohol.")

No one other than an Akronite could have ever created a more perfectly powerless guide of how to overcome our addiction to our city: Akron.

We are the original and forever ever more true founding members of AA - Akronites Anonymous. "Hi. My name is Sage and I'm an Akronite."

Being an Akronite creates our foundation. It gives us a fundamental kind of hopelessness that we will always be powerless to our fate as an Akronite. But it also does a lot of good for us.

  • It makes us stronger.
  • It makes us more compassionate and understanding of others' shortcomings.
  • It makes us more determined not to give up. Every time we fail, which is often, we get up and try again.
  • It makes us realize that we have much to give and offer the world regardless of whether or not it makes us famous or rich.
  • It makes us see that intrinsically we are ALL good and worthy of self-acceptance and love from others.

This is the path of moving through the core, foundational hopelessness that ingrains each and every one of our Akron souls.

We all must recover from our Akron-ness. Yes, we are born out of poverty and failure. But that birthright is ours. And it makes us forged from a furnace of struggle.

We are NOT a $350,000 bronze statue imported from Zainesville.

We are a rusty frog in front of our library in Highland Square:

PR Miller sitting on his frog.

That's what Akron looks like.

Akron is dirty. Akron is punk. Akron is grunge.

Only when we become proud of who we ACTUALLY are will we ever be able to fall into the groove of truth and authenticity.

Be your poor, stoned, loser selves Akron. It makes you beautiful and powerful.

The featured image is of Devo in 1979

Paid For By The People for Sage Lewis

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