Cleveland, The Treatment. Chapter 1: Welcome to Cleveland

40 Turning on You.
January 10, 2012
Can You Be a Huge Success in Cleveland? Or Do You Have to Go Somewhere Else, First?
January 19, 2012


Nearly five years ago I set out with the ambitious goal of writing my first script. Since then, it’s been rewritten, edited, re-edited, read by several producers, a few family members and even some friends; people who generously gave of themselves to help this project reach a certain place that it hasn’t yet reached.


What has happened is that while first concepted in 2008, the story featured Cleveland’s first casino, several years before Dan Gilbert opened one here.


A few months ago, I was doing some thinking. This included killing the project entirely. Another was to start from scratch. Neither felt right. There’s something about this story that still keeps me up at night.


So I came up with a third plan of action: I’m going to take another stab at it, but, this time, as an old school treatment, but with a twist. I will write it as a novella and, at the same time, include script-formatted dialog. I’ll also be including other media, breaking traditional treatment rules and, instead, morphing the writing into whatever feels most natural, chapter by chapter.


I’ll also be sharing the chapters with you and if you have ideas, thoughts, feedback, etc., I encourage you to share them with me with blog replies, social media, email, etc. This is the modern world and the interactive relationship between writer and reader is far more intimate and immediate than in the entire history of the arts.


If you begin to care for a character, let me know. If you aren’t clear about behavior or motivation, share this confusion as, chances are if it’s not clear to you, it’s not clear to others. If  a setting or a room lacks description to be as vivid as it possibly can, I’d love to hear what details you think will make it real.


Another stylistic decision I’ve made is that with each entry, I’m going to include a link to a music video so that each chapter has its own soundtrack. I wrote the original script with multiple songs in mind. Additionally, I’ll be including original photography, all taken on my various Cleveland excursions. Sure, the writing has to set the tone, independently. But, why not liberate the senses and have fun along the way?


Finally, I’m aiming for a very specific genre with this story, but will first write the tale and then let you decide what genre you think it conveys. If you and I agree, I will have succeeded.


Thank you for your time and energy. I hope you enjoy the ride.




– Alex,


January 15, 2012


“Look Out, Cleveland, the storm is comin’ through,

And it’s runnin’ right up on you.” – Robbie Robertson, 1969


Chapter 1: Welcome to Cleveland


Song Selection: My City Was Gone, by The Pretenders


A city has its own heartbeat. Its own rhythm. Its own way of doing things. Each city has its own norm and either your behavior is within one standard deviation of that ideal or you are cast as an outsider, looking in, hoping to blend. Because in most cities, large or small, to blend is to thrive. Each geography, thru its clothes, music, food, hair styles, traffic patterns, education, industry and real estate, defines the leadership and success of that city, of that place.


Having a sense of place is critical because that sets the compass for one’s behavior and the choices he makes. And those choices, some open and some discreet, propel an individual towards each decade of his life.


A city’s success or failure is the result of a number of collective choices, made by individuals over the course of the city’s history. And, while some cities encourage exploration and travel, some cities prefer things familiar.


Cleveland is that kind of city. Cleveland prefers its people local. Cleveland trusts the locals and is suspect of outsiders. “What’s a girl from L.A. doing in a place like this?” You can replace L.A. with any other big city of choice and hold tight if that city happens to be outside America’s borders.


And, for many years, this focus on nurturing home soil with more local dirt worked for many years. People had their steel mills, their churches and their sports teams. Cleveland served all the needs of people who craved the American Dream.


But, nearly half way into the twentieth century, the world changed and many American soldiers risked and lost their lives fighting the overseas enemies to protect the home soil. This also meant that the local geography could never operate in the days of the past. Some cities caught on, some were lost in nostalgia. Steel meant life, so without all those mills, what was left?


Cleveland, nestled strategically underneath Lake Erie and founded by Moses Cleaveland, was built with hope and ambition by immigrants and African Americans, neither really locals to the land until many generations were born. A population indoctrinated with the, “This is how we do things,” philosophy, looking inward, eventually, had its price.


The gift of all that decay, though, was that it left crevices and within those crevices, secrets could be kept. Every city has its own underground and Cleveland is no exception. The difference is that it has its own secrets, unique to its land, its geography. And, this underground is not limited to the poor or the outcasts. No, moral decay permeates itself into the lives of those who are members of high society, because, at a certain point, people stopped questioning how they got there in the first place. What rules did they have to break? Which politicians received their black bags? Which newspapers did they sponsor?


It’s not to say that no one who made it big did so without a moral compass. That would be a generalization unwarranted for this one, solitary story. Besides, each city has its own level of crime and, as everyone knows, criminals rise thru the trenches when economic times worsen. But this story, this is the story of the 216 area code, one that, unlike much of the local population, crosses the Cuyahoga River, back and forth, constantly, with no apologies and no remorse.


And, on the eve of the city’s resurrection, on June 14, 2007, before the restaurant explosion, before the film industry moved in and exposed the hidden alleys – full of mystery and fog – and during the Cavs final championship game against the Spurs, a few crimes took place. These crimes then led to the unveiling of more crimes. And so on.


Before a church becomes a cathedral, it is first a brick. And, before the first construction worker lays down that first brick, he first lays down the foundation. That foundation will either hold the cathedral in place, for century upon century, or it will, one day, force the cathedral to topple, propel white plight or burn down a river.


This is the story of such a toppling. It’s a story of destruction. It’s a tale that could happen to anyone, anywhere. Except this one happened in Cleveland.


  1. Nonna says:

    1) so with Apple’s announcement you can now publish the novella using their new swanky publishing software.
    2) the good: you have me hooked and my morbid curiosity about the crimes
    3) the question: it this a fictional account? the tone feels more like a non-fiction in Ch.1.

  2. admin says:


    Thank you so much for the feedback!

    I will def check out the Apple software.

    And the script is fiction. These characters have been living in my head and heart for 4 years. I hope you enjoy meeting them.


    – Alex

  3. […] Cleveland, The Treatment. Chapter 1: Welcome to Cleveland Comments […]

  4. admin says:

    Thank you, Nonna! Chapters 2 and 3 are both live, for your reading pleasure!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *