city slicker Cleveland

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The Independent Culture
This weekend the Lake Erie port of Cleveland, Ohio, opens the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame and Museum with much aplomb. A tribute to all the greats, it's also the latest symbol of the city's recovery from the industrial decay of the Seventies

Don't remind Clevelanders about: Anything that happened before 1990, especially the time in the early Seventies when the Cuyahoga River - which runs right through downtown - became so polluted it caught fire. Cleveland (aka The Mistake on the Lake) became a kind of national joke, but in a way it was the best thing that ever happened: city leaders were compelled to clean the place up.

Rock'n'roll landmark number one: Rock'n'roll was invented in Cleveland and they've the plaque to prove it. It's in Playhouse Square - the city's theatre district - on the former site of the radio station where in 1951 DJ Alan Freed coined the phrase "Rock'n'Roll".

Rock'n'roll landmark number two: The Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame and Museum cost close on $100 million and is stuffed with multimedia exhibits on the history of rock music.

Local talent: Considering it's the "home of rock'n'roll", Cleveland is short on homegrown talent. One-time Eagle Joe Walsh and singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman were born here, while the most famous acts to have emerged from the scene are Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Eric "All By Myself" Carmen and the "avant-garage" band Pere Ubu.

Top musical celebrity: Not a rock'n'roller but one Christoph von Dohnanyi, music director of the Cleveland Orchestra. Under the German's leadership the adventurous ensemble has become the most frequently recorded symphonic orchestra in the country.

Nightlife: Just down a steep hill from the city centre, is the Flats district. Here, clubs and restaurants occupy grand old warehouses and factories that sprawl either side of the Cuyahoga River, which is crossed by a dozen cast-iron bridges. While there are some lively music venues and fine seafood restaurants, there's also nightlife-by- numbers joints with names like Shooters and Hooters. It's also just a short walk to a couple of other nightlife pockets - bohemian Ohio City and the arty Warehouse District.

Where to stay: Every room in the city has been booked up for months prior to this weekend's opening ceremony. But after the celebrations die down, Cleveland's hotels will be busy selling package deals. At the top end of the market, the Ritz- Carlton's "It's Now or Never" deal, offers a room for two, plus valet parking, museum tickets, commemorative gift and CD for $225.

Summer sport: The sound of this summer has undoubtedly been the screaming of baseball fans as the Cleveland Indians smashed opponent after opponent in the new downtown ballpark.

Winter sport: In recent years fans of the footballing Cleveland Browns have had little to celebrate - though that doesn't seem to stop them enjoying themselves. "The Dog Pound" is infamous in US sporting circles: behind one of the end-zones, hundreds of supporters don dog masks and canine costumes and bark like maniacs at the opposing team.

Famous firsts: The city lays claim to bringing the world gas masks and the modern golf ball, but this weekend, Cleveland-based bank, KeyCorp, unveils the world's first cash machine-cum-jukebox. This essential piece of technology will allow you to withdraw cash to the strains of "Rock Around the Clock" and other anachronistic sounds, while an automated DJ voice advises you to "take five" while the transaction is being processed, and declares "it's a wrap" upon delivery of cash.

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