Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Ghost and the Tribe

I'm a little late on this, but in case you missed it, Kelly Pavlik was invited up to the SportsTime Ohio booth during an Indians game over the weekend for an interview with Tribe broadcasters Rick Manning and Matt Underwood. He spent the better part of a half-inning in the booth and, as always, represented himself well. Of course, the fact that Pavlik is a Youngstown guy did come up, and Pavlik reiterated the pride he has in the city.

STO has been good to Pavlik, promoting him through this interview as well as through their recent documentary that aired shortly before his last fight. More importantly, though, Pavlik has been great for Youngstown. Others have already explored this topic better than I can, so I won't beat a dead horse here except to say that it's great to see someone represent the true spirit of the city and do so in a positive way. I've written a lot about Maurice Clarett in this space- and, unfortunately, Clarett is only one of many "coulda been" athletes that's come out of Youngstown over the years. Pavlik has emerged as a counterbalancing force, an athlete that people can root for without guilt or serious doubts about his background or his integrity.

Pavlik's image is being controlled well. As people like Kobe Bryant and Ken Caminiti have shown us in recent years, the fans can never really know an athlete, and an image can be wholly different from reality- so, as someone who doesn't know Pavlik personally, I can't say for sure that he's as great as he comes across in the press. At the risk of being proved wrong in the future, though, Pavlik does seem like one of the good guys and sounds like he really "gets it." He and those in his camp know what matters to the people in this area and know how important it is to represent us in a positive way. Although I don't want to sound too sentimental about this, I'm proud of Pavlik and thrilled about what he's doing for this area.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Friday Night Downtown

If you were hoping to spend tonight in downtown Youngstown (and frankly, why wouldn't you be?), then, well, you picked a good night.

Tonight, Friday the 13th, the Mahoning Valley Thunder take on the Albany Conquest down at the Chevy Center (excuse me, the Chevy
Centre). The Albany Conquest, oddly enough, have Youngstown native and former Ursuline standout Chris Curd on their roster. Prior to the game, there will be a tailgate party downtown as well.

Later in the evening, the downtown Buffalo Wild Wings will be hosting another "Party on the Plaza," which is always a good time.

So, if you're looking for something fun to do tonight, come downtown.

By the way, there's a new t-shirt design over at Defend Youngstown, with two more to come in the near future. Show your support and order one (or one of each of the new designs, and also the existing design in all available colors. Also, there's a limited edition St. Patrick's Day version done up in green and gold too- if you can find one of those, grab one for me, too.)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Arts and the Yo

"Youngstown: First in Space."

I saw that written on the bathroom wall at the Draught House on Saturday night (a night where all drafts- ALL DRAFTS- were two bucks. I love this city).

Anyway, I was able to make it to the Summer Arts Festival at YSU on Sunday. Despite the life-sapping heat, attendance was great. The Festival featured artists and craftsmen from all over the country (including a number of talented people from the local area) as well as live musical performances and a great selection of ethnic food from local churches and cultural groups. Our friends from the Oakland were there, too, and they had their schedule for next season on display- one that concludes with "The Full Monty."

All in all, it was a great event. You don't often realize how important the Arts really are around Youngstown- sometimes it takes something like the Festival to remind you. We have the Butler and the McDonough museums right downtown, as well as thriving theatre and music programs at YSU. We're blessed, as a relatively small city, to not only have a semi-major performance venue like the Chevy Centre, but also to have somewhat smaller performance spaces like the recently expanded Powers/DeYor Center and the old Stambaugh Auditorium. The Oakland, of course, is particularly impressive- it's the type of place you wouldn't think you'd ever find outside of New York or Chicago, let along in Youngstown. Recently, too, there has been a bit of a resurgence in the local music scene that's coincided somewhat with downtown revitalization. In addition to being the best place to catch local bands, Cedar's has always been the haven for the more artistically inclined citizens in the area and continues to be an important part of artistic life of the city.

So, there you go- in addition to all of the other great things about Youngstown, you can add the arts to the list.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

City Spotlight: Downtown Draught House

Today's post is the first in a new series of entries entitled "City Spotlight," where we'll highlight different places around Youngstown. We'll start with the Downtown Draught House.

Downtown Draught House

219 West Federal Street

Youngstown, Ohio

The Downtown Draught House (or, as it is sometimes known, "the D-House" or "the D") is a central part of nightlife in downtown Youngstown. Having been downtown for years, it's developed a loyal following, and was a popular spot long before downtown's recent revitalization.

The Draught House has a lot to offer- cheap beer, a central location, and a laid-back, dive-type atmosphere. It's a true Youngstown bar, filled with pictures an memorabilia from YSU, the SteelHounds, and the local professional teams as well as old black-and-white photos from Youngstown's past. This is the place where a religious icon-style portrait of Jim Traficant once hung over the bar and where, according to A&E's City Confidential, Paul Gains was followed home from on the night he was shot. There's clearly a lot of history here, as the building is obviously an old one and one that has witnessed a lot of change in Youngstown.

I'm not sure what the building's original purpose was, but it's clear that it's been a bar for quite some time.
It's divided into two parts- the front, facing Federal Street, with pool tables, old arcade games, and booths, and the back, with the impressively large and ornate wooden bar (featuring inlaid stained glass depicting the YSU, OSU, Steelers, and Pittsburgh Penguins logos) and a few tables along one side. The place has changed a little in the last few years- some of the decorations and wall hangings have been changed, which has altered the feel of the place just slightly. It's also become the post-game hangout for die-hard SteelHounds fans (although you'll find a few at the nearby Buffalo Wild Wings, too). Most notably, believe it or not, is the impact that the Smoke-Free Ohio legislation has had on the place. Before the bill passed, the Draught House was like the inside of an old Brier Hill blast furnace, and drinking there was the health equivalent of working in the coal mines. Although there was a certain charm to it, it's nice that the air is clear inside the bar and you can spend a few minutes there without having to burn your clothes when you get home.

The Draught House offers 16 beers on tap and a wide range of microbrewery and import selections (some of which are hard to find elsewhere in town) that are cheap even by Youngstown standards. There is a kitchen, too, offering wings, fries, and burgers, but forgive me for not having sampled the cuisine myself.

With trendier places like Core and Imbibe popping up downtown, the Draught House is somewhat of a relic. However, that's not a bad thing. It's a place that still embodies a lot about the spirit of the city and will likely continue to be a popular late-night destination for years to come. As many would agree, your last drink of the night should always be at the D.

So, support Youngstown and raise a pint at the Draught House.