What'll it be, the Galley Boy or a Skyhigh?
You're confused, huh? Yeah, I thought so. Oh, Cleveland, you're so uninformed about your neighbors. Borderline oblivious, really. I wouldn't be totally shocked to hear someone on your block held human prisoners in his basement for a decade without anyone knowing. Oh, right, sorry. Culture-wise, Interstate 77 is a one-way street. Yeah, people in Akron are into pierogies and cream sticks, but what do you know about sauerkraut balls or Barberton chicken? We like Great Lakes Christmas Ale.... now what's your favorite version of Hoppin' Frog's Imperial Stout? You send us Michael Stanley, but can Tim "Ripper" Owens get a show booked in the Flats? No. And, hey, I get it. Your city is larger than Akron, and your tallest man-made structure is a completed building. But Akron has so much to offer you. Let me explain.
Archie: Chapel Hill Mall's two-story snowman that assumed Santa's traditional role of promising children Christmas gifts in exchange for good behavior. All the better because kids won't feel anything poking their backsides on a visit.
Barberton: White-trashy suburb known for its indigenous style of lard-fried chicken served with a special rice known as "hot sauce."
Cuyahoga Falls: Parma, but without all that Polish crap.
Derby Downs: Where dozens of children from around the country dream of coming to roll at a moderate speed down a moderately steep hill in a little car thing that their moderately talented dad built.
Ellet: It's like Barberton, but without the chicken.
Firestone Country Club: Famous golf course. Ask your rich people about it. Or the Liberians.
Gyros: We understand the pronunciation of this word is still debated in Cleveland. However, everyone in Akron — even the old Greek ladies at the Orthodox church — agrees it's JAI-row. If you insist on yee-ROW you'll offend everyone in earshot. There's a decent chance you'll either be handed a submarine sandwich or encouraged to move back to Sparta.
Hudson: Home to Greg, that manager in accounting who never comes to happy hour. People from this wealthy Akron suburb will often try to claim it's actually a Cleveland suburb. Well then, Greg, why not come out for a drink? What do you mean, "It's a long drive?" Oh, it's in another county? I seeeee. Also, Greg, if you're from Cleveland, do you even know which side of the river you live on? What? You don't even know there's a river? Just stay home and watch another rerun of NCIS, pal.
Ice cream: After those soapbox derbying kids from Kansas roll down the biggest hill they ever saw, they get the richest ice cream they ever ate from Strickland's.
James, LeBron: Small Forward, Cleveland Cavaliers.
Kent State: Still sucks. If you're from Cleveland and pay for a dorm room in Portage County instead of going to OU, Miami or, hell, Bowling Green, we'll assume you're intellectually deficient and/or trouble-prone, and will be back home living with your parents by junior year.
LeBron James: Small Forward, Cleveland Cavaliers.
Munroe Falls: You've never heard of this little city, but these poor bastards gave up their entire identity so that your river will be less flammable. Named for a squat waterfall that stood for a century, until 2005, Munroe Falls was left looking ridiculous when the EPA had the falls removed for the health of the Cuyahoga. Now, the Cuyahoga flows along a natural gradient and the city looks like a bunch of misnamed schmucks.
Northeast Ohio: The label used to mean not only you, but also us, probably Canton and theoretically Youngstown. Rarely heard in conversation and seemingly used primarily by LeBron James, shuckster economic boosters and Time Warner Cable.
Owens, Tim "Ripper": Scab singer for Judas Priest, inspiration for the movie Rock Star and now owner of Ripper's Rock House, "a rockin' sports eatery" on Manchester Road (see: "Redneck Riviera" below) where you can eat sauerkraut balls and see bands such as Fracture (featuring Tim "Ripper" Owens), Octane and Korn tribute band Freaks on a Leash. Be sure to try the JAI-row.
Pepperoni rolls: White dough wrapped around the greasiest pepperoni available. West Virginians who came up to work in the rubber factories brought these to town along with the term "devil's strip," which refers to the lawn between the sidewalk and the road owned by the city that you must mow, not the gnarly mane on your old lady's FUPA.
Quicken Loans Arena: Oh, right, that's in Cleveland. It's "Northeast Ohio" when it's fucking convenient for you guys, isn't it.
Redneck Riviera: Common name for the Portage Lakes, a series of interconnected lakes south of Barberton. If you thought Put-In-Bay was a sloppy mess of lukewarm Coors Light, non-kosher hot dogs and single moms with tramp stamps, well sir, you've clearly never been aboard a pontoon boat on Turkeyfoot Lake.
Swenson's and Skyway: Rival drive-in burger joints. (Skyway is better.)
Tallmadge: Suburb where the national ebola pandemic almost started. And ... well, other stuff.
Unfinished tower thing: Also known as Rex's Erection or Cathedral Tower, this 494-foot cement smokestack thing in Cuyahoga Falls is the tallest structure in the county and was supposed to be a televangelist's rotating restaurant. Instead, it gives the area great cell phone reception. The rest of Rex Humbard's complex has been run by Ernest Angley Ministry since the '90s. The proximity of the phallic structure to Angley's office is pure coincidence.
Vodom Boulevard: The common name for Vernon Odom Boulevard, which goes up to the abandoned Rolling Acres Mall, the perfect location for ruin porn photos and mobile meth making. The former Wooster Road was named for civil rights lawyer Vernon Odom in 2002, but due to a series of bureaucratic snafus, the freeway signs read "V Odom Boulevard" for several years and we just rolled with it instead of whining.
Winkerbean, Funky: The comic strip is drawn by an Akron native and features a pizza joint just like Luigi's, Akron's most beloved restaurant.
XTC: Legendarily skeezy strip club that was shuttered after a massive raid and a lawsuit in which a man sued the club for $25,000 after a stripper's heel hit him in the face, allegedly causing him severe medical problems. We prefer our boobs with danger and compensatory damages.
Y Bridge: The common name for the All-America Bridge that carries traffic across the Cuyahoga and into downtown. Notable for its many suicide jumpers and for humor related to said jumpers.
Zippy: The mascot of the University of Akron. The most prominent female mascot in collegiate athletics. Also, Moondog might be the dumbest thing ever created. Just sayin'.
Martin Cizmar is an Akron native currently covering the arts and culture world in Portland for Willamette Week. He thinks the only thing worse than the Plain Dealer's sports coverage is Randy Lerner.