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#BlameNick

#BlameNick

 

I understand that nobody wants to take the blame for anything. I get that. I do. But there comes a time socially when we have to accept that most of the world is just pointing fingers in an attempt to avoid addressing how to fix whatever the problem may be. Who wants to be culpable for the state of the world? Gods leave their worshipers in a lurch when the shit hits the fan. Deities don’t want to be accountable, so why should men and women? Governments bark, cry, and tattletale like children on a global playground. You won’t find any responsibility taken there.

That leaves our world in a predicament, huh?

Never fear. I’ll take the blame for everything. Sexism, Racism, War, Greed, Anger, Lust … Ebola, Cancer, Crack, Fracking, Religion, Climate Change, Poverty, and more. You name it. If you can point a finger and argue over who should shoulder the weight go ahead and Blame Nick. We even started a hashtag #BlameNick so you can easily let the world know on social media who is to blame for all the shit that’s going wrong from the economy to the Kardashians.

Why?

Because the world will remember us however it sees fit. Cowards are awarded praise and statues while the real heroes watch their own blood leak into the soil of ignominy and anonymity.

The catch? Why would I be willing to go down as the man who was responsible for such catastrophes and atrocities?

Easy. The second you #BlameNick there are no more excuses. You have your scapegoat. Your culprit and monster, so the world can stop bitching, whining, and crying and begin to do something about it.

~Nick


Cleveland Haunts

Cleveland Haunts

 

With the approach of Halloween, Samhain (FYI pronounced SOW-in), All Saints’ Day, Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), and so on with the end of the year/death/harvest cyclic and symbolic motif humanity has struggled with since we crawled down from the trees, my mind turns to legends and stories of the supernatural. This year I wanted to take a closer look at the ghost stories around my home – Cleveland. I also wanted to include my youngest daughter who is having social anxiety issues. Knowledge has always been fear’s panacea, and I hoped if I could help her be unafraid of what most people are afraid of then it would be easier to lessen her fears of the everyday. “You aren’t afraid of ghosts, so why be afraid of people?”

My, some would say obsession, with the concept of infinity necessitates that I emphasize that I am neither debunking nor substantiating these legends and stories. I will approach them with the all but forgotten art of unbiased journalism. I will give you some of the who, what, when, and where if applicable, but the why is yours to invent and decide upon. True to modern journalistic form though, I will also omit much of the substantial history behind these locations (it would only bore most readers and ruin the fun of the season in some cases). Believer or non-believer, the following are buildings and cemeteries steeped in histories that are worth knowing about. Plus, if you’re nearby stop and take a picture or two as we did. You never know what,  or who, may appear in the photo.

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My little ghost hunter watches for a Woman in White at Coe Lake in Berea where she is said to haunt the shores and graves of the nearby Adams Street Cemetery.

Cemeteries:

Lake View Cemetery, the unarguably historic cemetery on the East Side off Euclid Ave, is the final resting place of such worthy wights as President James A. Garfield, Jeptha Wade, John D. Rockefeller and more. Witnesses have reported lights coming from Garfield’s monument where no lights are supposed to be. One legend claims that on certain nights the spirits of Garfield and Rockefeller utilize Lake View’s many ornate tombstones to play an elaborate game of chess.

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James A. Garfield’s Monument at Lake View Cemetery

The plethora of Gothic and religious statuary at Lake View have led to the creation of countless urban legends, of which there are too many to retell here. If a particular monument catches your eye, I encourage you to do some further research and see which legends speak to you.

Chestnut Grove Cemetery located in Olmsted Falls is the home of Witch’s Hill. Legend has it that the townsfolk burned a witch in their cemetery and refused to place a memorial for her. Instead they fenced off the area with old used millstones to keep her spirit separate from the sanctified grounds. Witnesses claim to have seen odd lights around the grounds. Plus ill fortune and bad luck are supposed to come to any who approach or touch the final resting place of the witch.

Myrtle Hill Cemetery in Valley City is home to the Witch’s Ball (or globe). The Stoskopf marker is said to be cold to the touch in the summer and hot to the touch in winter. The legends surrounding this grave marker are elaborate and dissimilar in all regards as to the association of this gravestone and witchcraft, but if you speak with local youths they will all tell you about a friend of a friend who touched it on a dare and a horrible fate befell them.

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The Witch’s Ball in Myrtle Hill Cemetery

Haunted Houses, Castles, and Skyscrapers

The Franklin Castle is said to be the home of many haunts. Witnesses claim unaccountable floating lights and faces, echoing footfalls, and overheard conversations when no one else was supposedly in the house.

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Cleveland’s Franklin Castle

The Drury Mansion, stories of phantom footsteps, and random opening and closing windows began when the Ohio Parole Authority took over management of the property in the 70′s.

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The Drury Mansion

Grays Armory on Prospect and Bolivar is home to a phantom piano player, echoing footsteps, the random aroma of pipe smoke, and many more.

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Grays Armory

Saint Peter’s Church in North Ridgeville is home to echoing footfalls up and down the aisles of the sanctuary.

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St. Peter’s in North Ridgeville

Johnny Mango’s in Ohio City … Despite being ‘cleared’ by the real life physic that the television show “Ghost Whisperer” was based upon – Mary Ann Winkowski, stories continue among staff and patrons that the eatery is haunted. Especially the women’s restroom.

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Johnny Mango’s in Ohio City

The Burrell Homestead in the Lorain County Metro Parks is home to witnessed faces and lights at the windows when no one was supposedly inside the historic building.

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The Burrell Homestead

Squire’s Castle in the Cleveland Metro Parks has been the location of many unaccounted for lights and apparitions. The figure of a woman with a lighted candle has been said to appear in people’s photographs when nobody was there when the picture was taken.

 

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Squire’s Castle

Kohler Hall at Baldwin-Wallace is said to have many wild and at times violent, spirits that haunt the halls of this one time dormitory. Legends claim it was once an insane asylum at one point with a connecting tunnel to the nearby chapel.

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Kohler Hall at Baldwin-Wallace University

The Terminal Tower. Cleveland’s iconic landmark is full of stories from the staff relating randomly flushing toilets and running sinks, phantom footsteps, hostile energies, cold spots, rough phantom coughing and laughing. Plus full fledged apparitions of a man smoking a cigar.

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Terminal Tower in Cleveland

Places and Spaces:

 

The USS Cod is supposedly haunted by a lone crewman who was once left behind. He supposedly looks over the sub and follows people around when they are on board.

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The USS Cod

Within the confines of the Rocky River Reservation is the remnants of Puritas Springs Park. Witnesses have claimed to hear the screaming of passengers that crashed in an accident on the Cyclone roller coaster.

 

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is home to many legends and spooks such as Hell Town (an undisclosed and quite difficult to find place) that was supposedly swallowed up by the park. The much easier to find Everett Road Bridge on the other hand has witnesses claiming to have repeatedly heard pleading, disembodied voices imploring for help.

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Everett Road Bridge

Those are the places we visited this autumn ’14. My little ghost hunter and I did not experience anything out of the ordinary, but we did see some beautiful scenery. Perhaps if you are in the area, and you decide to swing by one of these haunts you will have better luck, or poorer luck depending on your perspective, and come face to face with one of Cleveland’s ghosts.

 


Exclusive Middle Grade Short Story

Goblin Stones

Click on the cover to read this NickShamhart.com exclusive short story.


Dance Puppets … Dance

August 23, 2014

I often wonder what I would turn into if I were really rich. I don’t mean wealthy, or simply comfortable. I mean Dick Cheney buying a new heart for himself in his seventies kind of rich. That kind of money. Those of us without that financial scope typically are that way for a reason. Maybe it’s luck, birthright, or plain stupidity. It happens. But some of us aren’t rich because we don’t like what we see when we look at the world’s super bourgeoisie. We see addicts. Junkies that can never get a strong enough hit, jonesing for a fix, and willing to anything to get it. We don’t want to be that kind of person.

But, personally, if I were…well, some of the things I’d do. Wow! I’d be nothing shy of a monster.

Napoleon is often quoted as saying, “Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.”

Perhaps that was true for the bulk of human history. Lately with the ecumenical decline in faith, as one of those super rich, I’d have to turn to other means of keeping the paltry proletarians, the meager masses, and the worker drones from storming my palatial homes and such. I don’t want your filthy hands touching all my Stuff! Hmm, so fear of a hellish eternity just isn’t cutting it anymore…let’s see, what can I do to keep my coffers full and my fat ass alive? Hmm? Keep you puppets dancing to the tune I’m whistling.

Well, if the masses aren’t afraid of a god maybe they should be afraid of each other. Yeah, that could work. Fear will keep them in line. It always has as long as we don’t take away too many comforts. They have their fast food and TVs still. Oh, there’s an idea. Let’s use those. TVs, yeah that always gets their dander up. Offensive. Defensive. Violence. Outrage. Perfect!

Now how do I go about this? Hmm, well so many of them seem to want what I have. Money, money, money, money! Money! Even in small doses. I can toss it out like stale bread to ducks and they just gobble it up! Why don’t I pick a few who are desperate enough and stupid enough (I suppose that last part goes without saying) that I can pay them to stir up social unrest on the old boob tube, eh? Yeah, I like the sound of that! Wait…what should they stir up? Hmm. Oh duh! Race! Always go with color and creed. Set those masses against each other with their differences! So easy! So simple. Pull a string here. Pull another one there. Dance. Dance. Dance. So… Simple…

…Just one fool with one gun and I can keep them all distracted. It’s worked before. It will keep on working.

~Nick Shamhart


Illiteracy Leaves Little Basis for Comparison

August 8, 2014

I was recently asked to give my opinion on what I felt was psychologically right or wrong with the Fifty Shades of Grey books.

I had my doubts that my contribution would see the light of day because I did not take what I am sure was the anticipated, belligerent yes or no stance that is the hallmark of inexperience (and, sadly seems to be the mindset de jure). I wanted folks to have the chance to read it, so here goes.

“Art is of course subjective. Personally I shudder to label a Bodice Ripper as art, but some people consider Robert Mapplethorpe to be an artist. It’s a matter of personal choice – the externalization of the internal.
That said, to tear apart the Fifty Shades trilogy would be unfair. The phenomenon that the books stirred about had little to do with the quality of story telling, the prose, or the presentation. What happened was that the populace brought it upon themselves. Worldwide reading trends are quite sad. Entertainment on demand fired a bullet pointblank into the floundering corpse that was the publishing industry. The statistics for the USA are nothing shy of terrifying. 58% of Americans will not read a book after high school. One in ten thousand Americans is an avid reader, meaning they read more than one book a month.
What happened with the Fifty Shades books was a direct result of those numbers. When people don’t read they have little to use as a basis of comparison. So, instead of E.L. James’ books being swept into the growing heap of erotica, with the likes of Steele, Collins, and other ladies that have been working that trade for decades, people took notice. 
Social Media, and its fickle trends helped word spread about the books.
It was the same ecumenical ripple effect that Rowling’s Potter books had. They were fine for what they were, in that case fantasy for Fifty Shades erotica, but for true avid readers that could compare the books to a much broader and larger personal library they were nothing special. 
That’s why children like simple, brightly colored toys. They are stimulating, and the child has no previous experience to say whether the toy is good or bad. Most of the staunch supporters of the Fifty Shades book that I have met read very few books annually. Half a dozen at best, so if they have read less than a hundred books in their lifetime. Who is to say what they are basing their love of Fifty Shades against?”
~Nick Shamhart

Misunderstanding Patience

August 2, 2014

Our definition and concept of the word patience varies greatly.

1. the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain without complaint, loss of temper, or anger.
2. an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay.
3. quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence.
In the West we take those ideas and pervert them to our constant need for more. Our delusion of something better, something more, something else, greener grass, bountiful pastures, promised lands – all fuel our fire of desire. We salve our need for greed with a virtue we so blithely dub patience.
We tell ourselves to be patient and we can have everything we want. Be patient and stay the course for great reward! Be patient and you shall have a better job, more money, a bigger house, a golden retirement, a slimmer waistline, a calmer demeanor, and more and more and more.  But, patience is not about acquisition. It’s not about waiting the clock out. Time isn’t our friend who’ll come sweeping in one day like Santa Claus to reward all us good boys and girls who were patient.
The cicada has always held a special place in my mind, when I think of patience. Like many people my wife thinks of heat and summer when she hears their chattering call. That’s how you know it’s hot in a movie, right? You hear the cicadas.
The cicada knows patience better than any human. Some of them remain as nymphs (immature cicadas), buried underground for as long as seventeen years,  and emerging for only a few weeks as matured adult cicadas. Think about it. Some of the cicadas you hear this summer may have been born before Princess Diana died!
Patience. It is not about waiting to get something. The waiting already is something!
Next time your hear a cicada don’t think of it as the sound of heat or summer. No, it is the sound of patience.
~Nick Shamhart

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