Thursday, April 30, 2009

“Rhino Return”

c. 2009 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

Early in this year, while Geauga was still blanketed with snow, I received an interesting request at the Icehouse home office. Members of the iconoclastic Rock group ‘Rhino Bucket’ sent out a call to their dedicated fans in an effort to raise funds for a CD release that had not yet been completed. The offer was straightforward: to pre-pay for this developing project and receive a special price on the eventual product in return.

It was an investment opportunity that I couldn’t ignore.

I met the band in 2006 at Cleveland’s Beachland Ballroom, and was hooked by the minimalist intensity of their live performance. A column in this newspaper followed, describing their gritty, straightforward style of music. They are often compared to Australia’s most famous export, AC/DC. Yet while Angus Young and his cohorts have ascended to high-dollar glory, Rhino Bucket has remained humbly streetwise, and pure. They are a bar band at heart. Seared and scarred from living on the hedonistic pathway first blazed by raucous axemasters like Link Wray.

As I endured the unpredictable weather of February on the northcoast, my anticipation for this new slab of rhino audio grew. Then, lead animal Georg Dolivo wrote about the creation on his own Internet page:

“I am, at this moment, holding the new Rhino Bucket CD in my hands! Wow, it sounds great. And the artwork that we came up with Acetate Records is awesome. And when I say awesome, I mean it kicks good… I've been listening to it all day and it just gets better and better… this rhino is getting ready to roll!”

Soon afterward, a package arrived from the record company. My pulse quickened while tearing it open.

This was the moment I had anticipated throughout Ohio’s freezing rain, snow squalls and hail! In the embrace of nightfall, I sat alone with the recording, and reflected on Georg’s vibe:

“The beers in the fridge are cold. Life is good. I hope it stays this way…”

While listening to their new disc for the first time, I scribbled stream-of-consciousness notes on a pad of paper. The result was a testament written in the dark hue of black coffee after midnight:


1. THE HARDEST TOWN – Hard times in the bailout age. The hardest town stretches from New York to L. A., breathing deep of the gathering gloom and another payday. Beer-stained leather and denim. A fist to the dawn. Hard hearts steeled by the slap of fate. Wounded by want. Yet they travel on.

2. JUSTIFIED – A flat tire on the information superhighway. Rumble and roll on the roadside. Boot heels tap in time to the jukebox. Notes ride like glistening sweat-drops down the guitar neck.

3. KNOW MY NAME – I got a reputation, earned crouching on the stage. Bruised up and blackened, but back for another round… did you catch my name? I’m dirty from highway grit, juggling loose cigarettes and spare change. Somewhere I know there’s a telephone booth spray painted with my name.

4. DOG DON’T BITE – Been there before, humbled and roadworn. Wheels spinning lazy in the night. The air of cologne in our room, but not my kind. What’s the trick? No more brews in the fridge. My newspaper has been read. The air is stale with restless guilt. What is that alarm ringing in my head?

5. NO ONE HERE – Empty hours, riding waves in a bottle. Peering through the vastness of night, cloud-streaked and bleak. The riddles have no solution, only endurance fueled by fate. Will you be laughing at the break of day?

6. STREET TO STREET – Lost in the city. Invisible by design. Alive in the creeping vacuum of a shadow’s fall. I vanish from the corner like spit on concrete. My contrails smoke the alleyway in a blaze of tobacco mist. Run with me if you like. I’m a fleeting echo of laughter, in the night. Ride with me, it’ll be alright.

7. TAKE ME DOWN – There’s a funky taste in the breeze. Standing tall, but I’m knocked to my knees. What’s your magic, angel? The spell you cast has me playing the role of a beggar. My soul surrender is sweet. I am broken, at your feet.

8. SHE’S WITH ME – This anthem is carried on peals of thunder. Given up as words to the unwise. She is mine! Temptation leads the way to judgment. Don’t fall prey to the blind.

9. YOU’RE GONE – Breathing your memory like a bar room haze. Life goes on, they say… but I don’t want to know. Waking up alone and cold in the light of day. Cough through a smoke and I’ll be on my way.

10. TO BE MINE – Stroll down the boulevard, catching grins. The beggar returns, with a tin cup full of quarters. Hooked on the game. Hoping to be unconscious before the dawn. Just one juke-step from the netherworld. Whiskey-soaked and nearly broke. But stumbling on…

11. SLIP AWAY – Spirit soaring, I’m pared down to my electric essence. A wisp of human nature against the sky. My fingers fly over prayer stones and amplified tones. Native blood carries me away. In another life, I was brave and sure. Soon enough, I will be that way again. Chant to the fire and my veins go hot. Fly with me, my friend!

After the music faded, I began to ponder their work more deeply.

I mused that ‘The Hardest Town’ seemed to be a perfect anthem for the bailout era. With American institutions falling into ruin amid the chaotic leadership of our business moguls and elected officials, the nation was literally trembling on its foundation. But the bare-knuckled observation of Georg Dolivo that “this is the only town I know” said more than any political speech could hope to offer. Despite the rhetoric of those gifted by fortune, our plight was unchanged.

In ‘The Hardest Town’ life continued in throbbing pulses of angst and alienation with indifference to the great collapse on Wall Street. For working-class heroes, it offered no more than a footnote to their existence.

Gas money? Quarters for the pool table? The price of a twelve-pack at the corner store? Those needs might prod the street-level human psyche with immediate effect.
But interest in the fate of wealthy moneychangers on the Dow Jones Index?

Not likely for those living on a diet of concrete and road rash.

The universal nature of Rhino Bucket’s message made each guitar riff reverberate with authenticity. From San Diego to Phoenix to St. Louis, to Chicago, Detroit, and Cleveland… the tale was unstoppable.

In ‘The Hardest Town’ no one would notice woeful calamities among the fortunate few.
True inspiration would come on a barstool at two o’clock in the morning.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009


What is this, something out of the next 'Jackass' movie? A stunt for NBC's 'Howie Do It?' Or just an April Fool's Day prank delivered late??

No, it is the wisdom of Clear Channel. In a cost-cutting move, the media giant fired Marty Allen and Paul Rado, producers and on-air personalities that helped make WTAM's number-one-rated 'Mike Trivisonno Show' such a broadcasting success.

I met both of these guys personally, at the station. I also ran across Paul Rado at the Valleyview 'Quaker Steak & Lube' a few years ago. Both men impressed me as being talented, professional, and very personable. They contributed greatly to Triv's success as a local radio icon. So... now what? Will the WTAM schedule be handled by interns and French businessmen with the money to fund their own show?

I'll keep listening to 'The Big One' - but I'll also be shaking my head in disbelief.

NOTE: Here are links to this story from various sources:

Friday, April 24, 2009

“Twitter Tested”

c. 2009 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

It was the end of a marathon session in the Icehouse home office.

My eyes ached from overuse. Scribbled notes lay everywhere, like confetti after a parade. Yet I felt happy to have completed several news briefs, an eclectic overview of traditional Appalachian cuisine, and a manuscript about Link Wray, the late minimalist guitar hero.

Now, I was posting on the Internet networking site called ‘Twitter.’

“Thank God for music,” I wrote. “Sound etched in a groove-track. And thanks also for Elvis… Our king dressed in black.”

Liz, my wife, entered while I was typing. She had been taking an exercise class at ‘Fit Femme.’ Her jumpsuit glowed in hues of pink and lavender.

“Rodney, what are you doing?” she squawked.

“That’s the question!” I blurted out with emotion.

Her thought processes were confused. “What question?”

I shrugged my shoulders with indifference. “THE question! What… are… you… doing?”

“That’s what I asked!” she yelped. “What are you doing!”

“Tweeting,” I replied.

She raised an eyebrow. “What… did you say??”

“Tweeting,” I said again. “Posting on the ‘Twitter’ website.”

Her expression went blank. “Are you trying to be funny?”

“Not at all,” I explained. “This is the cutting edge of social networking. Sort of like ‘My Space’ for those with ADHD.”

“Huh??” she exclaimed.

“Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder,” I said with exasperation.

Liz wasn’t amused. “I know what ADHD stands for!”

“Think of Facebook for those with an abbreviated attention span,” I said. “Twitter is a series of updates arranged in chronological order.”

My wife wrinkled her nose. “Right! So you are posting blog-bits just so other people can read your comments, and write their own? It sounds like a game.”

“Not a game,” I disagreed. “This is up-to-speed connectivity for the modern world.”

She frowned with displeasure. “What really made you join this site, Rodney?”

I sighed forcefully. “When Ezekiel Byler-Gregg linked his ‘Burton Daily Bugle’ to Twitter, that was it. There was no more cause for procrastination. I had to take the quantum leap.”

My spouse shook her head. “Zeke talked you into this? You joined because of a weatherbeaten old journalist from rural Geauga County? I can’t believe he’s even got a computer.”

“Liz, please!” I protested. “That’s unkind. Ezekiel is my friend.”

“Let me guess,” she yowled. “He’s got an old Commodore 64?”

“Stop talking like that!” I shouted.

“A Tandy TRS-80?” she continued.

“Please!” I begged with a chuckle. “Stop it!”

She snorted with the raspy tone of a rabid bunny. “Okay, I’m sorry. But really… you’re going to ‘tweet’ in cyberspace just so other computer geeks can echo your thoughts? That is… pathetic!”

I reddened with embarrassment. “People laughed at Alexander Graham Bell, too. And Steve Jobs. And Mark Zuckerberg…”

Liz burned with defiance. “My husband, the hi-fi tweeter! Sending electronic smoke signals to his pals on the information superhighway. Ohhhhhhh… give me a break!!”

I took a deep breath. “You’re too critical. Think about it for a moment. This is a modern crossroads where people of all kinds are meeting to consider the future. We’ve never had anything like this before. Our consciousness is expanding as a civilization. We need to embrace change, not refuse it. Tomorrow is… today!”

She growled like an irritated cat. “Rodneyyyy!”

“Listen and learn,” I said. Dramatically, I read a paragraph of text from the Internet site’s start page:

“Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co-workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?”

I clicked on my home page. “Now look at this. Watch, and learn!”

With skill, I created a new post that offered a link to the William Smith appreciation shrine. He was an actor best known for appearing in a number of ‘biker’ and ‘teen exploitation’ films in the 60’s and 70’s.

“Can you dig this?” I said with retro cool. “Smith was in nearly every American International Picture from that era… from custom chopper movies to low-buck horror creations. His legend has continued to grow since then!”

My wife was completely flabbergasted. “Who??”

I skipped to the next ‘tweet’ without delay. “The Maple Festival is coming soon. But can we be sure that this local tradition isn’t really a cover for clandestine operations by the Cleveland FBI? The ‘Tube Farm’ controversy continues… right here!”

Liz yowled angrily. “You can’t be serious!!”

My grin grew wide. “Okay… I’m not. But on Twitter it doesn’t really make a difference. Added to the comment is a link that explains everything, in tongue-in-cheek detail. It helps promote my weekly column. Lighten up, already!”

Her eyes narrowed. “Your messages can be read all over the world. Doesn’t that make you take ‘tweeting’ a bit more seriously?”

I laughed out loud, then returned to the keyboard. Words began to flow like stream-of-consciousness poetry. “The 2010 Honda Fury is faithfully chopperific. Are you ready for a stretched-out custom steed from the land of the rising sun?”

“You don’t even like those bikes, Mister Harley-Davidson fanatic!” she shrieked.

“It’s an advertising idea,” I said. “Something connected with a potential job opportunity. Twitter could be an avenue to reach younger consumers. Even President Obama is on the network.”

She hissed like a frightened kitten. “You’re giving me a headache!”

“Listen, you’ve got to stay up to speed,” I laughed. “This is the 21st Century. No one wants to move like their grandparents did. This is up-to-the-minute consciousness. We’ve got to stay active, every second of the day!”

Liz was boiling. “So that means sending bite-sized messages to your friends, on some foolish site with a little birdie?”

“Well, ummm… yes,” I answered.

Her gaze went cold. “But are you ‘tweeting’ or ‘twittering’ online? Aha! Which is it, Rodney?”

I gulped. “Uhmmmm… actually, it could be both. Or neither.”

She pounced on my lack of certainty. “Admit it! You don’t know!”

My face burned with embarrassment. “Okay, you’re right. But as I said, it doesn’t matter…”

Her voice grew stronger. “Of course it does! How can you play a game if you don’t even know the rules?”

I went blank. “Honey, you’re taking this too seriously.”

Liz folded her arms. “I think you are the one going gaga over this new cyberspace fad!”

Fatigue made me yawn. I relented at last by logging off of the site. “Okay… you’re right. This is silly. I’m wasting my time…”

She brightened immediately at my surrender. “Oh well. Would you like some coffee? I’ve got a fresh pot brewing in the kitchen.”

I nodded. “That would be great. Thank you.”

She blew me a kiss. “I’ll be right back!”

Once she had left the room, I quickly signed on to Twitter, again.

“Beware, fellow tweeters,” I wrote. “Not everyone is ready for the 21st Century! Especially in the Ice Household!”

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Saturday, April 18, 2009



Saturday 04-18-2009 7:31pm ET

Cleveland Indians 22 25 1
New York Yankees 4 7 1

NEW YORK - The Cleveland Indians set the bar for Yankee Stadium's new record book Saturday, scoring 14 runs in the second inning of a 22-4 victory.

Asdrubal Cabrera hit a grand slam and an RBI single in the second as the Indians chased struggling starter Chien-Ming Wang and set several marks that could stand for a while at New York's swanky new home.

Mark DeRosa and Shin Soo-Choo each hit three-run homers, Travis Hafner, Grady Sizemore and Victor Martinez had solo shots and manager Eric Wedge earned his 500th victory. Jhonny Peralta had three hits and two RBIs after missing Friday's 6-5 loss with a strained left elbow.

Mark Teixeira and Melky Cabrera each hit a two-run homer for the Yankees, who have been embarrassed in two of their first three regular-season games at their new field. New York lost 10-2 in its home opener Thursday when Cleveland scored nine runs in the seventh inning.

It was the most runs for the Indians since they beat New York 22-0 on Aug. 31, 2004, at the old Yankee Stadium. The 22 runs also tied the Yankees' record for most allowed in a home game.

The 14 runs and 13 hits by the Indians in the second were the most allowed by the Yankees in an inning.

Choo delivered the first big blow in the second, hitting a three-run homer off Wang to give Cleveland a 3-2 lead. Asdrubal Cabrera singled in a run, DeRosa had a two-run double and Martinez had an RBI single before Wang was replaced by Anthony Claggett, who was making his major league debut after being recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre before the game.

Wang (0-3) was charged with eight runs and eight hits in 1 1-3 innings, giving him a 34.50 ERA in three starts this year. He went 5-0 with a 3.23 ERA in six April starts last season.

Peralta doubled in two more runs after Wang left and Asdrubal Cabrera hit a drive to right on a 3-1 pitch for his first homer of the year. Sizemore followed Cabrera's shot with his fourth homer to make it 14-2 as the crowd booed loudly.

The fans started chanting "We want Swisher!" for the second time in the series as Claggett struck out DeRosa for the final out. Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher pitched a scoreless inning during a blowout loss at Tampa Bay on Monday.

Wang and Claggett combined to throw 69 pitches during the half-inning, which lasted 37 minutes.

The "We want Swisher!" chant returned when Hafner hit his fourth homer of the season in the eighth.

Fausto Carmona (1-2) was the beneficiary of the Indians' big day at the plate, working six innings in his first victory of the season. He allowed four runs and six hits.

Carmona surrendered Teixeira's third homer in the first as the crowd of 45,167 found their seats on a picturesque day in New York. Even with the beautiful, 75-degree weather, the 1,800 Legends Suite seats in the first nine rows ringing the plate, which cost between $500 and $2,625 each, had long strings of empty chairs.

DeRosa went 4-for-7 and tied a career high with six RBIs. Cabrera tied a career mark with four hits and five RBIs.

Game notes
Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez (right hip surgery) took 75 swings and hit several long homers during his third consecutive day of batting practice in Florida. Rodriguez, expected to rejoin the team by May 15, also took grounders on the infield dirt for the first time and increased the intensity of his running program. ... Yankees RF Xavier Nady, on the disabled list with an injured right elbow, had a non-dye MRI as doctors try to determine whether he has a torn ligament that requires surgery. ... Indians OF David Dellucci (strained left calf) is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Columbus on Monday. ... Plate umpire Ed Hickox was struck on his helmet by a foul ball off the bat of Cleveland's Ben Francisco in the sixth inning. He left the field for a moment and returned with a Yankees catcher's mask on. But second base umpire Tom Hallion replaced him behind the plate in the eighth.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press, all rights reserved


CLEVELAND - Home of the Rock Hall, yet home also to gritty, under-appreciated citizens wallowing in urban despair. Our companies have been sold to outsiders seeking carpetbagger success. Our factories, breweries, and public institutions have closed. Our banks have been seized and re-sold by the government. Our sports teams have struggled to win a championship since the mid-60's. Our elected officials have attracted FBI investigations and charges of outright corruption, while remaining indifferent. Our schools are crumbling. Our winters are filled with lake-effect snow and insane shifts in temperature. Our streets are overrun with beggars and petty criminals seeking hope.

And yet... we love this city. It is our home. Our identity is here... grappling with fate, sore from failure, bowed by circumstance. We breathe and ingest Cleveland every day of the year. Tough, scrappy, and able to survive. Not so notable as New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles. Yet undeniably part of the American Experience.

We defend Cleveland - because this is who we are.


It's amazing how scam artists from Africa can presume to know so much about a small-town journalist in Ohio... Mr. Dankwa somehow has discerned that I am "advanced in age." Yet not so old as to be disinterested in acquiring scam money?? Thank you, Albert!

Kumasi Main Branch
Adeabeba, Ahodwo Road.
Kumasi, Ghana.

Attn: Dear friend,

I got your contact during my search for a reliable, honest and a trust
worthy person to entrust this huge transfer project with, and a financial
Expert who came in from your country recommended you to me,

my name is Mr. Albert Dankwa I am the Regional manager of the above
mentioned Bank In the western region of Republic Ghana.

I am a Ghanaian married with two kids. I have contacted you so that this
Transaction can benefit the both of us, knowing you are advanced in age
With the fear of God, but if you are not willing to get involved in the
Deal, do not REPLY THIS MAIL, as you will never hear from me again.

I am writing to solicit your assistance in the transfer of
Us$12.500, 000.00 This fund is the excess of what my branch in which I am
the manager made as profit during the last year. I have already submitted
an approved end of the year report for the year 2007 to my head office
Here in Ghana and they will never know of this excess. I have since then,
Placed this amount of US$12.500, 000.00 on a suspense account without a

As an officer of the bank, I cannot be directly connected to this money
Thus; I am compelled to request your assistance to receive this money into
your bank account.

I intend to part 40% of this fund to you while 60% shall be for me. I do
need to stress that there are practically no risk involved in this. It is
going to be a bank-to-bank transfer. All I need is for you to stand as the
Original depositor of this fund.

If you accept this offer, I will appreciate your timely response.

With Regards.
Mr. Albert Dankwa

Thursday, April 16, 2009


c. 2009 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

Note to Readers: What follows here is a news feature written about the late Rock guitarist Link Wray. While his career proved to be unpredictable and visionary, perhaps most incredible of all was his unlikely ability to connect posthumously with Ohio, and Geauga County…

Writing professionally opens doors.

A side benefit of wordsmithing for a living is the ability to interact with people having many different backgrounds and philosophies. They contribute a richness of experiences that could not be discovered through any other profession.

Most recently, I thought of this truism when a message appeared from Eric Moore, who is the force behind a petition drive to get Link Wray recognized by the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of fame:

“Hi Rod, I have read some of your work and… am contacting you to see if you would have any interest in writing about a concert I have organized at the Beachland Ballroom. It is a tribute to Link Wray and I hope will stimulate interest and awareness about his not being a rock hall inductee and his being deserving as a key influence on rock as we currently know it…”

The invitation was one I accepted gratefully. Before long, my prospective newspaper feature had begun to take shape:

Fans ‘Rumble’ For Link Wray Induction

CLEVELAND – The recent 2009 Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies were a source of inspiration for residents of the northcoast, and beyond. Participants and fans literally came from around the world to celebrate this enduring art form on the shores of Lake Erie. Yet notable by his absence was one who offered much to the diverse tapestry of Rock music as an innovator, performer, and iconoclastic hero.

Fred Lincoln Wray, Jr. was the missing ‘link’ during the weekend of festivities.

Born in Dunn, North Carolina, this pioneer of electric guitar composition first played Country & Western music that was popular during his childhood. His vitality and creative vision were supercharged by a Native American bloodline connected to the Shawnee Tribe. But Link was stricken with tuberculosis while serving as a soldier during the Korean War. After losing a lung to this pervasive disease, he was told by physicians that singing would be out of the question.

For many, such a diagnosis would have foretold the end of life as a professional musician. Yet Link responded by focusing on instrumental work, with emphasis on rhythmic ‘power chording’ that would lay the foundation for much of modern Rock ‘n’ Roll. His classic 1958 recording of ‘Rumble’ defined the approach.

Link himself described the technique in basic terms. “Just raw guitar. Lots of amplifiers with the sound wide open, just playing as hard as I can. And just let it fly!”

This turn toward gritty, wordless anthems evoked a sort of cultural revolution that echoed for many years afterward. From the fuzztone of Davie Allan, to the exuberance of Sterling Morrison, to the raucous unpredictability of Ron Asheton, to the insane genius of Robert Quine, his legacy continued to inspire new generations.

Pete Townshend said it best. “If it hadn't been for Link Wray and 'Rumble,' I would have never picked up a guitar," he reflected.

Even after that initial period of chart-topping success, Link’s artistic epiphany percolated meaningfully for many years. He wandered through the minimalist elements of music like a stealthy brave hunting wild game. Though out of the spotlight, he was perpetually active. Those who continued to follow his career were rewarded with flashes of otherworldly brilliance and deep breaths of reverb-stoked oblivion.

Tracks cut in the 1970’s with vocalist Robert Gordon were particularly inspirational. A new generation of admirers took energy from these vital recordings. They helped fortify his position as a six-string wizard of great distinction.

His place as an iconic ‘guitarista’ was secure.

But despite the grandeur of this legendary career, Link remained raw and agile. He eschewed pretentiousness in favor of purity. His sound and image remained indelibly ‘basic black.’

A pair of comeback releases plugged him directly into the modern age. ‘Shadowman’ appeared in 1997, and “Barbed Wire’ followed in 2000. Both were recorded with musicians from Europe, where he had lived since the 1980’s.

Link’s terrestrial journey ended in 2005. This native son of the American south was buried in Denmark, where he had previously lived with his fourth wife, Olive. He was survived by nine children.

When it became clear that the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame had somehow overlooked this incredible artist, a petition drive began to promote his induction. Worded with passion, it expressed the zeal with which Link has been viewed since the dawn of his tuneful journey.

“As of 2008, Link Wray is not an inductee into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,” it read. “I believe he belongs there and hope that you join me in getting him inducted. Countless musicians have named him as an influence on their music. Among them Pete Townshend, Neil Young and Jimi Hendrix. I ask that you join me in doing our part to correct this oversight by the corporate music establishment and sign my petition which will be sent to (the) Rock & Roll HOF every time 500 online signatures are collected. Please tell your friends to join us as we ‘Rumble’ the Rock Halls' walls and get Link Wray inducted.”

Musicians were quick to support this noble cause, like Cleveland veteran Bobby Latina.

“I have had the honor and privilege to not only meet Link but play with him on stage numerous times with my old band The Cowslingers. He was a very kind and gracious man. We did a two tribute records to Link and gave them to him at the show and he was amazed that other bands were covering his songs. He had no clue how much impact he had on rock and roll, just goes to show you how humble he really was."

King of the Fuzz Davie Allan agreed with this assessment.

“This is a no brainer,” he observed. “Of course he should be in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame! I say this even though I did not get to meet him when I opened for him at the House of Blues in ‘97.”

Organizer Eric Moore put together a concert to help spur interest in the petition drive, to be held at Cleveland’s historic Beachland Ballroom. The venue has been well known for offering shows not typically seen at other nightspots in the area.

“I have organized a tribute to Link Wray on May 9th,” he said. “I hope it will stimulate interest and awareness about his not being a Rock Hall inductee and his being deserving as a key influence on Rock as we currently know it. Performing will be Link Wray's Raymen, Webb Wilder, Stuck In Gear w/ Link's grandson Chris, Wraygun and The Topcats.”

The Hall of Fame petition is accessible online at:
For Information, contact the Beachland Ballroom at 216-383-1124.

With my work concluded, I looked ahead to the concert itself. It seemed likely to be a raucous, all night affair. One filled with adulation and exuberance. But afterward, I would be glad to return to my home office…

To begin the next writing project!

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Monday, April 13, 2009





Friday, April 10, 2009

“Dollar Menu Motorvator, Redux”

c. 2009 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

It was a busy, spring morning at the reborn McDonald’s on Water Street, in Chardon.

As I considered a breakfast of hash browns, eggs, and sausage, sunlight streaked fancifully through the windows. My spot by the fireplace was filled with other local journalists who had come to discuss events of the day. They were a graying, serious bunch. I was the youngest in attendance. Each of us sat with our own reporter’s notebook carrying ink scribbles and stray scraps of paper.

Excitement crackled in the air!

Suddenly, Ezekiel Byler-Gregg of the Burton Daily Bugle pounded his fist on the table. With a throaty growl, he called us to order. “May I have your attention, please?”

The annual Geauga Journalist’s Roundtable had begun.

“Who’d like to start our meeting?” Ezekiel asked, dutifully.

Mack Prindl of the Parkman Register volunteered to speak first. He fumbled with a pair of reading glasses while sorting through his notes. “This week, I’m leading off with a story about the ‘Scarecrow Bandits’ in Chardon. One of the young miscreants is from my township and he’s working on a local farm to satisfy the court decree of community service…”

The group nodded in affirmation.

“Very good. Who’ll go next?” our chairman grunted.

Martha Ann Reale of the Newbury Siren-Monitor raised her hand. She cheerfully announced their latest project, while toying with a strand of native jewelry. “We’ve decided to do a historical series across the next two months. Our first installment will be a review of the long-lost Kiwanis Lake Tavern, and its evolution as the community changed from a collection of summer cottages to a residential enclave.”

Ezekiel chuffed with satisfaction. “Sounds like a worthwhile idea. Who wants to be next?”

Before anyone could answer, a stranger walked into the fast-food emporium. He wore a rumpled, yet elegant business suit. His face was covered with a rude outcropping of beard stubble. It appeared that the fellow had been sleeping in his clothes.

Everyone fell silent. Our concentration on the meeting had been broken!

The newcomer ordered a cup of coffee, then chattered at the counter.

“Who is that guy?” Mack said with concern showing on his narrow face. “Is he looking for directions?”

“He’s probably job hunting here in the county,” Martha Ann observed. “The bad economy has driven lots of people to look for refuge in Geauga. You must be right… he’s lost and confused.”

Buzzing with conversation, the counter clerk gestured toward our table.

Instinctively, everyone flinched!

The stranger turned around with a hungry look in his eyes. “Over there?” he said, loudly.

“Yes,” the clerk repeated.

Chairs slid backward as he approached our table. I noted that he wore expensive rings and cufflinks, but no tie. Coffee stains dotted his silk shirt.

“Good morning!” he said with a wounded smile.

Ezekiel was brave. “Yes indeed it is. Can I help you, mister? You seem to be… looking for someone.”

“That’s right,” he agreed. “I’ve driven a long way to Chardon, from a suburb of Detroit. To find one man… perhaps you know him. Rod Ice?”

Fear made me tingle!

“Yes, I know that fellow,” Ezekiel boasted. “He’s sitting here to my right…”

I gulped with anxiety, but offered my hand. “Uh, hello sir. Do I know you?”

The stranger laughed out loud. “Not at all. But I know you, Rod. You wrote to me when I was chairman of General Motors!”

The room quieted immediately.

“Chairman of GM?” Martha Ann screeched.

“That’s correct,” he replied. “My name is Rick Wagoner. Until last week, I was in charge of the nation’s premier automaker.”

Mack bounced pridefully in his seat. “Well, this is a pleasure. I’ve been a Chevrolet man all my life!”

Ezekiel pulled up an extra chair. “Why don’t you sit with us, Mr. Wagoner. We’d be glad to include you in our meeting.”

The GM executive appeared grateful. He sipped coffee and began to explain his visit. “I worked very hard to save my company. But President Obama felt that I needed to step down.”

Martha Ann snorted with indifference. “Isn’t that amazing? Not the head of AIG, after costing us billions upon billions of dollars. Or the leaders of banking institutions that have burdened our nation’s monetary system. No, instead, he forces out a car guy. How is that justified?”

Ezekiel bowed his head. “It sounds like a case of mixed up priorities.”

Mack shook his head. “Our wallets and purses are being looted by the government. To rescue those who used to oppose such federal intervention. By leaders who won’t even pay their own taxes!”

A cheer went up in the restaurant.

“That’s a harsh assessment,” I said. “But it rings true.”

“Regardless of all that, I’ve come here with one humble purpose,” Wagoner said. “To ask for your help.”

I was stunned. “My… help?”

“Rod, you sent us a very interesting idea last year,” he continued. “I was impressed.”

Martha Ann sighed with disbelief. “Interesting idea? About what?”

I shrugged my shoulders. “You mean my column about the Chevy Chevette?”

“Exactly!” he cheered. “The Dollar-Menu Motorvator.”

Mack rolled his eyes. “Okay, you wanted GM to sell cars like items on the McDonald’s budget menu?”

“I wanted us to focus again on giving real value to our customers,” he said. “We did that with the original Chevette. Tough economic times demand that of us… it is the only way to survive.”

Ezekiel stroked his beard, thoughtfully. “The profit margin on a Chevette had to be slim. How could you sell that idea to your company with profits dwindling in modern times?”

“President Obama has talked about sharing sacrifice,” the erstwhile executive proclaimed. “A plan to shed costs and give back to the American people would do just that – and help revitalize the nation.”

“Look, Mr. Wagoner,” I said. “I’m flattered by your praise. But my article was… a joke. A goof on current events. A bit of Dave Barry or Mike Royko.”

The group fell silent.

“My column was intended to entertain readers,” I continued. “Not suggest a plan for your industry’s future.”

The former CEO waved his hand defiantly. “I disagree. It was very profound. A strong sentiment from the heartland.”

Mack frowned. “I’m with Rod. You can’t build a recovery on the ‘Dollar Menu’ at Mickey D’s!”

Martha Ann hissed with irritation. “Be quiet, Prindl! Mr. Wagoner is making sense.”

Our guest finished his coffee. “My time at the helm of GM is over,” he whispered. “Now, it is up to you. Use your soapbox wisely. Sell the ‘Motorvator’ idea through your newspaper work. Be a positive force. The country needs that!”

He stood up, and reached for his overcoat.

“Thanks for letting me ‘sit in’ with you,” he smiled.

Ezekiel shook his hand. “Of course.”

Before anyone else could speak, Wagoner was gone.

We sat in mute reflection for a long time.

Martha Ann finally pierced the wordless vacuum with a lighthearted query. “So, Rod, what are you going to do? Take his advice? Or not?”

My eyes were heavy. A morning haze lingered in my head.

“I’m going with a third option… to finish my breakfast!”

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Thursday, April 09, 2009


Spam messages can be entertaining if they are creative in nature. This one seems to 'peg the virtual meter' by using the professed identity of a clergyman. Unlike any other such scam attempt that I've read, it offers no contact information except for the sender's e-mail address:

Meet Pastor Adam C. Coffin

My name is Pastor Adam C. Coffin married to Sophia Coffin. Sophia is born in Germany and a Nurse by profession,though childless and she died 18 months after our marriage.

I was born on April 12th 1964; I have three brothers and two sisters. I became a Christian when I was 22 years old that was in 1986, I joined a local church where I was disciple and I got deeply involved in prayer and evangelism. 2 years later the lord led me to go to Youth With A Mission, an international Christian Organization to undergo a discipleship-training course. I stayed with Youth With A Mission for 4yrs during which time the lord was developing a leadership and pastoral ministry in my life.

During these four years on staff with Youth With A Mission, I was involved in Evangelism doing school ministries and a lot of Aids awareness programs. This had a music dance and drama approach which was very effective. During the same time with the evangelism tea, we had a European tour where we visited Germany, England, Spain and Switzerland.

Unfortunately, within 6 months,my father, three brothers and one of my sisters were involved in a ghasstly motor accident on a high way. My remaining younger sister,on hearing the sad news,ran into the street and that was last she was seen or heard of.My father was not too wealthy and I was left alone to inherit the sum of US $14.3M he deposited for safe keeping. Death is a transformation to a better life, I thought to myself and forged ahead in life. Life was not easy with me after loosing my entire family.

One penultimate sunday morning,I was getting ready for service when I fell down from stair-case. The next, I opened my eyes and discovered that I was on a hospital bed. Sitting beside me was our family most dreaded enemy. I was disgnosed to be hypertensive and diabetic coupled with the fact that I have long time ashmatic history.My doctor gave me the impression that I have little time to live.

I knelt in prayer and tell God to locate a faithful man or woman to whom I will enthrust with my father's resources to use it in speading the gospel and winning souls for God. After my prayers,I was directed to address this message to you. If you can use the money for things that will glorify the name of God,write back to me with your contact information and I will release the personal identification number to you so that you receiive the money for God's work.

I hope that you will give this message urgent attention. Always remember me in your daily prayers.

In His grip,

Pastor Adam C. Coffin.

I am left with a single question... could one really hope to learn about eternal life from an Internet pastor named... coffin?

Sunday, April 05, 2009


Another fictional album from the Icehouse archives...

Note: The Norton motorcycle pictured here is from a website about recently-manufactured products under that famous name. Yes, Norton lives!

Friday, April 03, 2009



ITEM #140311817609








Thursday, April 02, 2009

“Black Label, Revisited”

c. 2009 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

It was a hopeful spring day in Geauga.

I’d been crisscrossing the county since dawn, checking on shops that were carrying some of my Icehouse Books in their on-the-shelf inventory. With each visit, I became more hungry than the last. And more even ready to quench my thirst.

When evening arrived, I had worked my way back to Thompson. The fading sun seemed lonely in a sky filled with streaks of orange and red. Yet it hovered briefly as I paused at the Montville Country Store.

Jenna, a friend from the long-lost Fisher’s Big Wheel in Chardon, stood behind the register. She was tall and colorful, like a California model. Her smile filled the room with an enduring glow of satisfaction.

I nodded a greeting, but headed for the beverage section. On the way, I grabbed a bag of barbecue potato chips. Fatigue made me impatient. I wanted to find my selections, and be gone!

Their beer cooler was full of flavorful alternatives. But it offered little inspiration. I read through familiar labels marked with brands like Miller, Budweiser, and Coors. Then, a brewing relic met my eyes. One closely tied to the Cleveland of yesteryear… Carling Black Label.

I silently stood in front of the cooler, pondering.

Jenna appeared from around the corner. Her costume jewelry glistened with each step.
“Did you need some help?” she asked, showing puzzlement.

I pointed toward the case. “You’ve got Carling Black Label beer. Really?”

She giggled. “Umm, yes. Really.”

My voice went hoarse. “It used to be brewed right here, on Lake Erie. Did you know that?”

Her eyes went wide. “My father used to talk about drinking Black Label out of stubby bottles and watching Ghoulardi on television.”

I bowed my head, reverently. “That was a different era…”

“Yes it was,” my stylish friend agreed.

“But thanks to your store, we can have that taste all over again,” I mused.

She sighed. “Actually, I’d rather have a margarita!”

I reached for a red twelve-pack. “Not me! I’ll stay with the traditional choice.” My hands cradled the chilled carton of suds.

Jenna wrinkled her nose. “Suit yourself. Did you need anything else today?”

“Just a copy of The Maple Leaf,” I grinned.

During my homeward drive, I fumbled through stations on the radio dial. A folksy tune had begun to take shape in my head:

“I’m gonna get me a twelve-pack of Black Label
Drink with friends as long as I’m able…”

I pulled over and jotted down lyrics on an envelope. Blue-collar karma was at work. Across the vastness of expired days, spirits from the bygone northcoast were reaching out to me, with melodic inspiration:

“Gonna get me a twelve-pack of Black Label
Leave my empties under the table…”

When I arrived home, the house was empty.

It took a moment to remember that my wife had taken our daughters on a family outing with the neighbors. Liz, Soccer Fairy and Leigh were going to Middlefield for ice cream. Amily and Minda from next door decided to tag along for the evening. It was a junior ‘girls night out.’

The silence made me brave.

After taking our dogs outside, I retreated to the home office. My acoustic guitar was waiting. I strummed a few lazy chords, and finished my composition:

“I’m gonna get me a twelve-pack of Black Label
Drink with friends as long as I’m able
Swim my way to another time
Gonna get me a twelve-pack of Black Label
Leave my empties under the table
And finish up with jerky and pork rinds
Gonna time-slip to old Cleveland
When the town could do no wrong
Gonna ride across the lakeshore
Till everybody’s heard my song
Gonna get me a twelve-pack of Black Label
Watch ‘The Tribe’ on digital cable
And count those cans until the next sunrise”

I repeated the song in it’s completed form, while our canine contingent looked on in awe. Before long Riley, our Black Lab, was howling along with his own cheerful vocal inflections. Then, the cats began to meow in protest.

Together, we sounded like a ragged chorus of street performers.

I had just finished the last verse when a shout came from the living room.

“What are you doing in there??”

Everyone went silent. It was Liz.

“Rodneyyyy!” my wife squawked. “Are you having a party in there?”

I shrugged my shoulders. “Just working on new material.”

“Working??” she said in disbelief.

“Hey,” I interjected. “Where are the girls?”

Her face reddened. “Leigh and Soccer Fairy are with their friends next door. Don’t change the subject!”

I shook my head. “Subject?”

“Were you giving a concert for the pets?” she chirped.

I put the guitar back into its case. “Just writing in the moment. I got a bit of inspiration from a drive to Montville, today.”

She laughed out loud. “Were you singing about… beer?”

“Yes,” I confessed. “Carling Black Label.

Her amusement deepened. “Is that something new?”

I took a long breath. “No, not new at all really. Haven’t you ever heard the ‘Hey Mabel, Black Label’ slogan?”

She stared into space. “Huh? Who’s Mabel? Somebody’s grandmother?”

I groaned. “She was a fictional barmaid. Her first appearance was with a sportswriter in an ad on WXEL channel 9, right here in Cleveland.”

Liz was stunned. “You’re making this up… right?”

“No,” I disagreed. “It’s all part of local history.”

“Liar!” she said, accusingly. “This is like ‘The Tube Farm’ or your history of ‘The Burton Daily Bugle.’ Admit it, Rodney!”

After walking to the kitchen, I opened the refrigerator door. With dramatic flair, I plucked the twelve-pack out of its seclusion behind a head of lettuce. My voice swelled in a theatrical crescendo.

“I give you… BLACK LABEL BEER!!”

My wife folded her arms. “That looks like something an old man would drink.”

I nodded. “You are correct, good madam. An old man, or a young laborer…or a captain of industry, or a head of state…this brew will satisfy anyone!”

She frowned. “How much was it? A dollar less than Milwaukee’s Best?”

“Not exactly,” I chuckled. “The beer cost six dollars and twenty-nine cents.”

Liz narrowed her eyes. “Oh Rodneyyy!”

“That’s a bargain,” I observed. “Refreshment and inspiration, all in one twelve-pack carton…”

Her expression softened. “So, you’re going to write about that stuff in the newspaper?”

“Of course!” I cheered.

“Can’t you come up with something more… normal?” she gasped.

My embarrassment was obvious. “I’ve got my own style. Giving that up would be career suicide. Don’t you understand?”

“What I understand is… it’s time for a pot of coffee!” she yawned.

I returned to my guitar while she puttered in the kitchen. My brew melody filled the air, once more:

“Gonna get me a twelve-pack of Black Label
Watch ‘The Tribe’ on digital cable
And count those cans until the next sunrise!”

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Wednesday, April 01, 2009


I enjoy a good 'con' if it is well done.

Some of the e-mail scammers seem to be quite creative with stories of untapped millions waiting to be taken. But occasionally, a message rises above the rest in this virtual cesspool of trickery.

A recent offer from 'Cecilia' caught my attention immediately with over-the-top prose that was immediately irresistible:


I believe you are a highly respected personality, I am writing this mail with tears, sadness and pains. I know it will come to you as a surprise since we haven't known or come across each other before considering the fact that I sourced your email contact through the Internet in search of trusted person who can assist me.

I am Cecilia Garang 24 years old female from the Republic of Sudan, the Daughter of Late Dr. John Garang. Before my late father’s death in Uganda on 31st of July 2005, was vice president and former rebel leader of Sudan and was kill by Sudan President Omar al Bashir in helicopter crash. You can read more about my father in the link below.

I am constrained to contact you because of the maltreatment which I am receiving from my step mother. She planned to take away all my late father's treasury and properties from me since the unexpected death of my beloved Father. Meanwhile I wanted to travel to Europe, but she hide away my international passport and other valuable documents. Luckily she did not discover where I kept my father's File which contained important documents. Now I am presently staying in the Mission in Burkina Faso. I am seeking for long term relationship and investment assistance. My father of blessed memory deposited the sum of US$12.7 Million in one bank in Burkina Faso with my name as the next of kin. I had contacted the Bank to clear the deposit but the Branch Manager told me that being a refugee, my status according to the local law does not authorize me to carry out the operation. However, he advised me to provide a trustee who will stand on my behalf. I had wanted to inform my stepmother about this deposit but I am afraid t

Therefore, I decide to seek for your help in transferring the money into your bank account while I will relocate to your country and settle down with you. As you indicated your interest to help me I will give you the account number and the contact of the bank where my late beloved father deposited the money with my name as the next of kin. It is my intention to compensate you with 20% of the total money for your assistance and the balance shall be my investment in any profitable venture which you will recommend to me as have no any idea about foreign investment. Please all communications should be through this email address only for confidential purposes.

Thanking you a lot in anticipation of your quick response. I will send you details in my next email for you to know me well.

Yours Cecilia

If offers like this were legitimate, I'd be wealthier than Bill Gates. But at least they offer an undeniable measure of entertainment value, if nothing else.