SALVATORE SCIBONANortheast Ohio's Italian Americans are bracing for some heavy partying at tomorrow's Feast of the Assumption Festival in Little Italy. So it's fitting that Strongsville native Salvatore Scibona would take the wraps off his debut novel, The End, at today's book-signing at Joseph-Beth, since the novel is about a tightly knit enclave of Italian immigrants in a fictionalized neighborhood that looks a lot like Murray Hill. "It's such a grand thing for Italians," says the 33-year-old Scibona. "The feast is the only time - outside of a sporting event - when I've ever been in a neighborhood where there's been a crowd. I was compelled by that group consciousness, and it captivated my imagination."
The book chronicles the five decades leading up to a 1953 festival where the neighborhood's "family man" learns that his son has been killed in a POW camp in Korea. While the story takes place more than 20 years before Scibona was born, he remembers his grandparents' musings about living in Murray Hill. He incorporated them into his story; he also scoured the library's newspaper archive for info. "If I was looking for a particular date, I would get out the microfilm to see what was going on," he says. "The ads are great, because you can pick up on cool things like how people dressed and how much things cost."
Scibona says it took 10 years to write The End, including stints in writers' colonies in New York and New Hampshire. But for every chapter that made it into the book, he trashed four others. "Anything older than a year, I would look at it with shame and contempt," laughs Scibona, who's now the writing coordinator at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts. "I would think that this must be an illness that I have. I've spent enough time learning how to write. But that's how you learn, I suppose." The book-signing is at 7 tonight at Joseph-Beth Booksellers, 24519 Cedar Rd. in Lyndhurst. Admission is free. Call 216.691.7000 or visit www.josephbeth.com. - Cris GlaserANIMALS CREATING ART SILENT AUCTION
Zuri the rhino turns up her horn at paintbrushes every time she gets in a creative mood. After all, her strong upper lip can splash tempura paint at the easel just as easily. You can see some of Zuri's work at tonight's Animals Creating Art Silent Auction at the Cleveland Zoo. "She uses a mix of blues, yellows and greens," says zoo spokesman Tom O'Konowitz. "She dips her lip into the paint and makes her designs all over the canvas. It's definitely abstract and unlike any other piece I've ever seen."The third annual silent auction features more than 50 paintings made by polar-bear paws, kangaroo feet and tortoise shells. Gorilla BFFs Mokolo and Bebac even hand-stamped a canvas for the auction, which benefits the Cleveland chapter of the American Association of Zoo Keepers. But the pair would cooperate only on its own time. "If they're not in the mood, they'll hide their brushes," says O'Konowitz. "But normally, they enjoy painting because it adds some variety to their day and keeps their minds stimulated." Put in your bid from 6 to 8 tonight at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo's Rainforest, 3900 Wildlife Way. Admission is $10. Call 216.661.6500 or visit www.clemetzoo.com. - Glaser
J. ANTHONY BROWN
The way comedian J. Anthony Brown sees it, there's a huge difference between the way white and black parents raise their children. White moms and dads, he says, have no clue what their kids are doing in the basement. "They can't do nothing with their children," says Brown, who's at the Improv this week for a series of stand-up shows. "They say, 'We had no idea he was making a bomb. We can't keep up.'"
The South Carolina-born Brown first stepped onstage in the early '70s, when he won cash in a talent show and used it to pay for his tuition at a men's fashion-design school in Atlanta. After he moved to L.A., he scored a job as the head writer for The Arsenio Hall Show and then landed the role of Pop on the sitcom Like Family. Today, Brown plays Reverend Adenoids every Monday on The Tom Joyner Morning Show (which is heard locally on 93.1-FM WZAK). And he continues to analyze African American parenting.
"Black people! Raise your hand if you could've made a bomb in your mama's house," says Brown. "You couldn't even make a sandwich in my mama's house because she would count the bread." Showtimes are at 8 and 10:15 tonight and 7 and 9:30 p.m. tomorrow at the Improv, 2000 Sycamore St. on the West Bank of the Flats. Tickets are $31. Call 216.696.4677 or visit www.clevelandimprov.com. - P.F. Wilson
RING OF HONOR
While it's often called a "soap opera for men," pro wrestling doesn't have to be a patronizing diversion for folks who believe all the trash-talking and body slams are real. Just ask Cary Silkin, whose Pennsylvania-based Ring of Honor tournament comes to town tonight. "We provide the hardest-hitting, most entertaining realistic pro wrestling around," he says. "The talent is incredible, the storyline is not insulting and the evidence is in the final product."
With a rock 'n' roll vibrancy, the show pulls audience members into the lives of its stable of wrestlers, including the arrogant Chris Hero, masked madman Delirious and scraggly Necro Butcher. As they trade fists in the ring, fans cheer, boo and chant in the stands. And it's not unusual to see a couple of grapplers take their brawl into the crowd. Silkin says that's why his company has expanded since 2002 to include international tours and pay-per-view TV events. "Whether it's New York City, Tokyo or Cleveland, every show is special," he says. "Taking our time is one of our secrets to our success." Bell time is 7:30 tonight at Grays Armory, 1234 Bolivar Rd. Tickets are $15 and $20. Call 215.781.2500 or call www.rohwrestling.com. - Reyan Ali
GOOD RIDDANCE, KEITH CARR! PARTYIf Last Call Cleveland's flyer for tonight's Good Riddance, Keith Carr! Party is any indication, an L.A.-bound Akron comic is in for a big-time skewering by the veteran sketch-comedy troupe. On the poster, the group claims it's "ditching the semi-talented Carr, and we want Cleveland to help us send him packing." The 25-year-old comedian is quick to return the love. "I'm sad that I'm leaving Last Call, but it's gotta be done," says Carr, whose acting credits include commercials for Safe Auto and the Ohio Lottery. "I've gotta give it a shot, because I don't want to live with that What if? I'm sure they'll replace me with another semi-talented actor." Part of the move has to do with Carr being named "Male Actor of the Year" at the annual International Model & Talent Association convention in L.A. in January. After competing against 40 other performers in his age group, Carr signed on with venerable manager Al Onorato, whose stable of clients has included Katie Holmes and Elijah Wood. Once he's settled in his new digs, Carr plans to hit the TV-sitcom audition circuit. He welcomes the opportunity. "With Last Call, you work with an ensemble of people you get to know," he says. "You can play off them well and get comfortable with what you and your castmates are capable of. I think I would love doing sitcom work." The roast starts at 8 tonight at the Powerhouse Pub, 2000 Sycamore St. on the West Bank of the Flats. Tickets are $5. Call 216.861.4982 or visit www.clevelandimprovinstitute.com. - Glaser
SAND SCULPTURE CONTEST To build a winning entry at today's Sand Sculpture Contest, try to work near the lakeshore at Wildwood Beach, advises organizer Erin Kray. She should know. "Every time I've made a sand sculpture, it always crumbles," she says. "So keep the water coming, because it'll be the glue that keeps your sculpture standing."For three hours, contestants will dig into the sand to construct their pieces. They can also incorporate wood, twigs and stones into their designs. A panel of judges will then score each project before awarding the "Golden Bucket" to the victor. The jury will also hand out the "Silver Shovel" for second place and "Bronze Whistle" for third place. "I'm encouraging the most unique sculptures with the best use of resources," says Kray. "If somebody made a likeness of a portrait like the Mona Lisa, that would be pretty awesome." Dig in between 1 and 4 this afternoon at Wildwood Beach off Lakeshore Boulevard and East 174th Street. Admission is free. Call 216.692.9500 or visit www.artscollinwood.org. - Glaser
Silver-studded charros and spirited mariachi bands help pump up the energy in the Lake County town of Madison for today's Fiesta Latina. Dozens of performers visit the 11th annual fest. "It's a vibrant celebration of all things Latin," says spokeswoman Karen Ziegler. "The expressions of culture through music, dance, food and art remain as popular as ever. And the popularity has allowed more acts and traditions of Latin culture to be experienced and enjoyed."
Music by guitarist Ma–os de Seda, El Coraz—n de México and Noel Quintana & His Latin Crew top off the fest's musical menu. "It's fun but also very educational, with explanations of cultural customs, ceremonies, practices and traditions," says Ziegler. "It's great to have many of these artists who perform all over the Cleveland area this year."
Throughout the fest, you'll also see face-painting, flower-making and pi–atas, along with tug-of-war and jalape–o-eating competitions. Meanwhile, food vendors will plate up culinary specialties from Central and South America. "The festival allows people to gain a small sense of other cultures," says Ziegler. "And we are more than happy to keep it going." Olé! The fest runs from 1 to 8 p.m. today at Stanton Park, 5585 Chapel Rd. in Madison. Admission is free. Call 440.428.5913 or visit www.rabbitrunonline.org. - Chad Felton
Like six fellow Playboy playmates before her, Irina Voronina will come to town today sporting a St. Pauli Girl crown. The 30-year-old Miss January 2001 will autograph posters and pour samples of the brew. And she's prepared for all the come-ons she's sure to get from the mostly male crowd. "Boys are silly like that," says the 5-foot-10 Voronina, who boasts a 35-24-36 figure. "I guess I look good, and they get intimidated and say silly things. If they even know what to say."
Before she moved into the Playboy mansion in 2001 from her native Russia, Voronina modeled throughout Europe. When she lived in Switzerland, she crossed the border into Germany to soak up Oktoberfest, where she got her first taste of beer. "It's like a carnival," says Voronina. "People are outside with a lot of food, and everyone literally walks around with beer mugs. Everybody prepares for the long winter, and they celebrate." When she's not hawking beer, Voronina plays a bailiff on DIRECTV's Supreme Court of Comedy, where comedians judge real-life cases. If the defendants get rowdy, she steps in. "I'm there to set people straight, so they don't misbehave," she says. "If they do, I may do a little spanking."
The best thing about being this year's St. Pauli Girl? Free beer. "It's really hard to stay away from the refrigerator," laughs Voronina. "But I'm not going to end up in the tabloids, with pictures of me drunk on the streets." Voronina meets fans today at 3 p.m. at Local Heroes Grill & Bar (2217 E. Ninth St.; 216.566.8100), 3:30 p.m. at Flannery's (323 Prospect Ave.; 216.781.7782), 4 p.m. at the Clevelander (834 Huron Rd.; 216.771.3723), 4:30 p.m. at Panini's (840 Huron Rd.; 216.522.1510) and 6 p.m. at Progressive Field's Batter's Eye Bar (2401 Ontario St.; 216.421.4200). Admission is free. Visit www.stpauligirl.com for more information. - Glaser