It was a beautiful sunny day in Columbus today, with temperatures in the low 80s. It was perfect biking weather. I know that because when I left the office this afternoon I noticed that every one of the CoGo ride-sharing bikes at the transfer station at the corner of Gray and Third Street in downtown Columbus had been taken from its slot and was out being used. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen that CoGo transfer station totally empty of bicycles.
LeBron James announced today that he is returning to Cleveland to play for the Cavaliers, and for today, at least, Cleveland is the center of the sporting universe.
My friends up in Cleveland are thrilled about LeBron’s decision to return, and not just because it means that the Cavaliers might be able to bring home that elusive sports championship that Cleveland has hungered for for 50 years. It’s also because LeBron’s decision — announced and explained in a nice piece on the Sports Illustrated website — is a kind of recognition of the value of Cleveland, and Ohio, and hometown roots. The fact that an international figure like LeBron James acknowledges them, too, means something.
When LeBron James left, it made people angry — not just because he left, but because it was done so publicly and callously. Some people got rid of their LeBron Cavaliers gear; Russell modified his Cavs #23 jersey so that the name over the number on the back read “me” rather than “James.” But people can grow, mature, and change for the better, and LeBron’s announcement today, made in a carefully considered story rather than a glitzy hour-long special on ESPN, suggests that he has matured, too. I say, good for him!
Part of LeBron’s stated reason for returning is that he wanted to raise his family in Ohio. I can understand that motivation, too. Kish and I left Ohio right after college and I vowed never to return. However, after six great years in Washington, D.C., with a baby on the way, Ohio looked like an awfully attractive place to raise a family — and it was.
I’m sure there will be some Clevelanders who will cling to their bitter feelings about LeBron’s departure and argue that his decision to return wasn’t entirely for the altruistic reasons. I think most Clevelanders, however, will welcome him back with open arms, like the prodigal son returning — which is kind of what he actually is.
Jaws was released on June 1, 1975. Taut, believable, and brilliantly acted, telling the story of a gigantic great white shark that terrorized a resort town and then coldly set out to kill the men who were hunting it, Jaws was perfect fare for the summer. Anyone who saw it in a theater with a big screen, with the iconic “dun-dun, dun-dun” music playing and letting you know to prepare yourself for the awful carnage that was going to begin at any moment, will never forget it and always feel a thrill when they think of it.
Summer used to be the big season for movies. You could relax in air-conditioned comfort, enjoy the movie, and practice the hinge move on your girlfriend in a darkened room. And Hollywood always seemed to deliver at least one great movie that ran throughout the summer. Whether it was Jaws, the original Star Wars movies, E.T., Raiders of the Lost Ark, Ghostbusters, Back to the Future, or Animal House, every year there was at least one can’t miss movie that everyone was talking about. Watch any of those films, or the other summer blockbusters that you remember, and you’ll see well-made films that stand the test of time.
Last weekend Kish and I decided a trip to the movies was a good idea, so we checked the roster at the nearby multiplex. Another Transformers movie. Another X-Men movie. A silly comedy, Tammy. A remake of a TV series, 22 Jump Street, that we never watched in the first place. Edge of Tomorrow. Think Like A Man Too. And others, equally forgettable. And this weekend, the big premiere is of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes — another remake, one that the previews indicate is full of computer-generated scenes of rampaging apes. We yawned and decided to pass — and we’re not alone. With these lame offerings, is anyone really surprised that Hollywood receipts are way down this summer?
In the past, Hollywood at least seemed to make an effort to deliver summer movies that were new and exciting, well-written, well-acted, and well-made. Now, it offers a steady diet of remakes and movies that rely heavily on formulas and special effects, explosions, and groin shot humor. If Jaws were released this summer, it would stand out among this tired and uninspired fare like LeBron James at a junior high school game.
C’mon, Hollywood. At least try!