Tuesday, May 21, 2013
32 Years of Roldo’s Point of View now online
You can’t tell Cleveland’s story of the last five decades without a word from Roldo Bartimole.
He’s the city’s original alternative journalist, icon-smasher, press critic and radical muckraker. Whether you think the white-haired, reedy-voiced reporter is Cleveland’s conscience or the town crank, he’s a necessary corrective to 45 years of boosterism and power-elite conventional wisdom.
“I don’t have a lot of heroes. Roldo Bartimole is one,” Esquire writer and Cleveland native Scott Raab tweeted last month, when his hero turned 80.
Now, Roldo's life's work has been liberated from library shelves. The Cleveland Memory website has recently scanned and posted the entire 32-year print run of Roldo's Cleveland politics newsletter, Point of View.
The generation of Clevelanders who know Roldo through his Cool Cleveland columns can read him as he takes on his great nemeses of the '70s, ’80s and ’90s: George Forbes and George Voinovich, The Plain Dealer and Alex Machaskee, Forest City and Dick Jacobs, sports team owners and their sweetheart deals.
My quick dig in Cleveland Memory's Roldo archive turned up gems:
• “Buying Peace the Private Way,” June 26, 1968 – Roldo breaks the news that businessmen paid black militants $40,000 in summer 1967 to help prevent a repeat of the Hough riots.
• “Resign Now,” April 26, 1980 – One of Roldo’s many screeds against George Forbes.
• “Sohio Forbes/Shoves,” April 4, 1981 – The story behind the legendary photo (above) of Forbes physically throwing Roldo out of a meeting of city councilmen at the Bond Court Hotel.
• “On to the 90s: White, Westbrook break old guard,” Nov. 25, 1989 – Roldo captures the moment when new political characters stepped up to replace Forbes and Voinovich: Mike White, Jay Westbrook, Jim Rokakis, Pat O’Malley, Mike Polensek, Jeff Johnson.
• “Saying Goodbye,” December 2000 – In Point of View’s last issue, Roldo looks back on 32 years of combat against Cleveland’s political and economic powers.
I’ve blogged about Roldo before – here’s a post about how downtown looks through his eyes, and one about his emergence as a critic of Mayor Frank Jackson. I’ve just posted two articles about him from Cleveland Magazine’s archives:
• “Knight Errant,” May 1972 – In which Roldo describes his journalistic vows of poverty and comes close to calling himself a socialist and anarchist.
• “Last of the Great Muckrakers,” September 2000 – Michael D. Roberts’ profile of Roldo, which explores his single-minded devotion to his work and reveals the origin of his unusual first name (“the hero of… a cheap Italian novel”).
(photo by Timothy Culek, Cleveland Press, from clevelandmemory.org)