they heart cle: a city's biggest fans are often the bloggers

With more than 41,000 "Likes" on the "Cleveland, Ohio" Facebook page, and the Twitter hashtag #cleveland constantly chirping on, the North Coast certainly garners its share of online action. But a quickie status update or 140-character blurb doesn't leave much in the way of breathing room. To stretch out properly, local scribes more and more are turning to blogs, where they reveal Cleveland on the city's own terms.

Fresh Water writer Erin O'Brien shuffled through a slew of blogs in order to round up the area's sharpest online quills. These intrepid Clevelanders expose Northeast Ohio's hidden delights with a keen street-level point of view.

Blog name: Writes Like She Talks

The Gist: Jill Miller Zimon reports on the day's hottest political topics, from the proposed Cuyahoga County suburb merger to John Boehner's Ohio influence to Presidential politics. Having lived in the area for more than 20 years, Zimon views all topics through a Northeast Ohio lens. But her unflinching eye for feminist and environmental issues gives these pages a definitive voice.

The Deets: Zimon updates frequently, as often as four or five times a week. Her entries are peppered with videos, links, and quotes, and plenty of her own commentary. Zimon's occasional humorous tidbits shimmer like rare jewels amid the serious business. She's been writing like she talks since 2005.

Quotable: On the additions of hosts Christiane Amanpour and Candy Crowly to the Sunday morning political talk show line up: "Better than five old white guys for sure. Now, if only we could do better with the guests."

Don't Miss: Zimon's Moms Clean Air Force posts monitor the pulse of today's environmental issues with respect to how they will affect our kids' futures.

Blog Name: Bridget Callahan Is Your Best Friend

The Gist: Meet Cleveland's A-list girl. She goes to all the best parties, places and events, and then recounts her shenanigans in irresistible prose. Reading Callahan feels a lot like eavesdropping on a tête-à-tête between two women whispering over martinis. Sophisticated, poetic and a wee bit naughty, Callahan's blog posts make you feel like you're on the receiving end of a good friend's gossip.

The Deets:
Lifelong Clevelander Callahan has been blogging since 2007. Updated once or twice a week.

"I spent the weekend taking pictures of Jamison bottles, and turning down strange men in bathrooms, and watching a bridal party dance to the Pixies in Akron, and seeing great movies."

Don't Miss: "Places I've Been Where I Shouldn't Have" on the right-hand rail, where Callahan muses about trips to Pittsburgh, Hoboken, and the Masonic Temple, "where good chairs go to die."

Blog Name:
Cleveland SGS

The Gist: All Cleveland images all the time, but you won't find predictable postcard snaps of the skyline and lake here. Behold the things nobody notices: Stink's Bait and Tackle on W. 25th or two gents lounging outside of Kristina's Family Restaurant on West 65th and Lorain. The site's collection of vintage playbills and ads is utterly fascinating.

The Deets: Run by "a loose-knit group of men and women who have deep respect for the City of Cleveland," the anonymous team updates Cleveland SGS about once a week. Entries often feature captions with links to more pix and info. Budget at least an hour or two to peruse the archives, which date back to 2008.

Quotable: Lifted from an ad in a 1977 underground gay newsletter: "Grab it for $1.00 -- a locker every Monday. Under 21 Free on Wed. Cleveland Depo Baths."

Don't Miss: The group's flickr page, which has a treasure trove of in-depth photo essays for locals-only, such as work by edgy urban artist Harry Bell.

Blog Name: Mirandized

The Gist: Self-described single, black, bisexual female blogger Maria Miranda comments on all things LGTB in Northeast Ohio and beyond.  She covers evocative topics with in-your-face candor and an occasional giggle or teardrop. She is so engaging that once you start reading her you can't stop, regardless of which way you swing. There's nothing predictable about her point of view. Gay marriage? Miranda isn't worried so much about the far right as the "hypocrisy" of the LGBT community's straight allies.

The Deets: "Mirandized" is an occasional column that appears in Spangle magazine. She joined the publication in 2009.

Quotable: "I haven't slept with a man in more than two years. This is clearly affecting my ability to craft thoughtful opinion pieces."

Don't Miss: Miranda's devastating column on domestic violence. If it can happen to a woman as strong and powerful as Maria, it can happen to anybody.

Blog Name:
Clue into Cleveland

The Gist: Amanda Hicken may not be a Cleveland native, but you'd never know it by reading her pages. From the Avon Duct Tape Festival to the Cleveland Museum of Art's Armor Court, Hicken goes everywhere and reports like an insider.

The Deets: Hicken landed in Cleveland in 2007 and has been blogging since 2010. Her pages are easily navigated, with new posts about once a week. Each entry brims with event and venue suggestions and includes all the links you need to dive into the fun.

Quotable: "Having a drive-in movie theatre in Cleveland's backyard is one reason why I think this city is the best," she writes regarding North Ridgeville's Aut-O-Rama Twin Drive-In.

Don't Miss: Hicken's musings on a recent "Hidden Cleveland Tour" will make the Clevelandiest of Clevelanders feel like a giddy tourist on their home turf.

Blog Name:
Cleveland Food and Brews

The Gist: Thirty-something Bradley Gillette serves up the Northeast Ohio food scene with in-depth reviews of restaurants of every ilk, from Winking Lizard to the more upscale Lockkeepers in Valley View. Event-based culinary events such as the recent "Brick & Mortar" pop-up at Noodlecat featuring chef Lee Anne Wong round out Gillette's menu. His first-person reviews take you through the entire dining experience with descriptions that tempt at every turn.

The Deets: Gillette is an amateur Cleveland foodie who began blogging in 2010. Restaurant and beer reviews are thorough and clearly listed. An "Upcoming Events" sidebar lists top-shelf epicurean happenings in and around town.

Quotable: On the beef sushi brochette served at last month's Sushi at Sunset event: "The texture of the beef was so soft it just melted in my mouth. Add the butter, scallion and slightly garlic flavor of the beurre blanc with the smoky flavor of the beef and you have a dish that I could have eaten all night! Simply amazing."

Don't Miss: Gillette's Craft Beer page, with more than 130 reviews of high-end suds from Cleveland and points beyond. Novices will understand the beer stats, ratings and recommendations while aficionados will appreciate Gillette's insight.

Blog Name: I Rock Cleveland

The Gist: Native Clevelander Bill Lipold keeps his ear to the rail of Northeast Ohio's vibrant rock scene with monthly concert calendars, event previews and reviews. His incredibly knowledgeable commentary on music adds fresh dimension and texture to a genre that is so often predictable. Mix in the quirk and trivia that pops up on every page and this site sings with a rock and roll heart, a hipster's soul and a nerd's brain.

The Deets: Lipold's been rockin' Cleveland with his blog since 2007. His frenetic pages are updated a few times a week, often with two or three entries posted per day. A meticulous tagging system makes navigating a breeze, whether you're in search of local news on garage rock, folk or punk jams.

Quotable: Lipold describes "Windshield Wipers" by the Black Swans as "filled with sadness and regret… while the wandering violin melody adds the country flavor every good and downtrodden barroom lament needs. Damn if I don't want a shot, a High-Life and a good cry myself."

Don't Miss: the site's eclectic playlists. These aren't just hit-or-miss lists of songs, but well thought out collections Lipold has spun during his moonlighting job as local DJ for hire. Also, his "Moving Pictures" posts feature the best music vids you've never seen with liner notes that include plenty of factoids as well as pertinent local info.

Blog Name: Cleveland Sports Torture

The Gist: "Our Town. Our Teams. Our Torment," reads the banner. Seven lovelorn Cleveland fans report on the Cavs, Browns and Indians with an eagle eye for incite on picks, trades, scores and plays. But these contributors do it with a personal flair that counts plenty in a town like Cleveland.

The Deets:
CST is updated often, sometimes daily. Links, embedded videos and sidebars brimming with sporting news augment well-written posts. Since 2005, CST's bloggers have promised to "console you after the latest Cleveland sports disaster" -- and they've had plenty of opportunities.

"As dorky as it is, my personal man-crush for [Joe] Haden is akin to George Costanza's feelings for Elaine's easy-going, rock-climbing boyfriend Tony in the episode of "Seinfeld" called 'The Stall."" -- Doug Guth

"I don't normally believe in grudges, but lately, ESPN's coverage of the Cavs, Indians and Browns seem very curious. If it's because I heckled Gary Miller at Wrigley Field in 1998 after he was arrested for urinating out a window in the Flats, I apologize to all Cleveland sports fans." -- Brian Pokorny

Don't Miss: The team of guys harbors a sad and endearing obsession with (of course) LeBron James. If that isn't a Cleveland tragedy, what is?

Blog Name: Bitter Orange and Brown

The Gist: Five Cleveland chicks dish on what they love and hate about the Browns. You'll find things here no male Dog-Pounder would dare touch with a first-down marker. Little girls dancing in Brown's jerseys? Check. A sheepish admission to following Pittsburgh Steeler Hines Ward's Twitter feed as he dances with the stars? Yep, they've got that too.

The Deets: The blog is run by the Bitter Chicks, who update about once a week, more when football season is in full swing. The ladies have been making passes since 2009.

Quotable: "Deep down, I'll always be a Cleveland girl but my back-up city is Chicago. After the Indians, I'm a Cubs Fan, and after the Browns, I root for 'Da Bears." -- Paige Boyer

"Sometimes I feel like the Browns' Jewish mother. I worry. And I kvetch." -- Kristen Kaleal

Don't Miss: Marie Cauley's Playoff Memories (Or How The Browns Stomped On My Heart), on being a teen in Cleveland in love -- with Bernie Kosar,

Photo Credits
- Photo 1: Bob Perkoski
- Photos 2 & 3: Bridget Callahan at the chalk protest to save the Columbia Bldg - Bob Perkoski
- Photos 4 - 6: Photos by Bridget Callahan
- Photos 7 & 8: Amanda Hicken participating in the Blogger 5K Run for the Peirogies - Bob Perkoski
- Images 9 - 12: Cleveland SGS
- Photo 10: The girls of Bitter Orange and Brown, L-R Paige Boyer, Alanna Klapp, Kristen Kaleal, Marie Cauley, missing is Kristine Meldrum Denholm

Erin O'Brien
Erin O'Brien

About the Author: Erin O'Brien

Erin O'Brien's eclectic features and essays have appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and others. The sixth generation northeast Ohioan is also author of The Irish Hungarian Guide to the Domestic Arts. Visit for complete profile information.