Everyone lean in close so I don't have to shout. Closer, closer....come on now, don't be shy; alright you in the cardigan, you need to step back a bit, you're in my personal space. Alright, everyone ready? Here goes: I have found the best spot on the globe.
Let that sink in for a second. Does it not blow your mind? And here's the weird part: the best spot on the globe is not only in the continental United States, it is right here in humble Ohio (the best state in the Union if you ask me, but that is a story for another time). I have found a town so quaint that it should be on a postcard, a community so strong that it makes Stepford looks like a gang of Pirates and an area so uniquely American that it should be the Capitol.
Welcome to Twinsburg, Ohio, friends: the best damn spot on the globe.
Twinsburg (the only town in the world named Twinsburg, by the way) is a cozy little suburb located halfway between Cleveland and Akron and about 20-25 minutes away from either city. It is a marvelous city small enough to feel intimate but big enough to keep you entertained. It is a wonderful, diverse place committed to the education of its children, the preservation of its many natural parks and the continuing traditions of old. And with a name like Twinsburg, you know it has to have an interesting history....you will have to go look it up though, I am on a roll here.
Now that the check from the Twinsburg Tourism Board has cleared, I would like to level with you here for a second here and tone down the hyperbole. I can't safely say that Twinsburg is the greatest place on Earth because I haven't seen every place on Earth. But I am willing to say that Twinsburg is my favorite town of every town I have ever seen or lived in. And that list might be a little bit longer than you think. I have spent four years in New York State; two years in Central Ohio; two years in Southern New Jersey and two years in Central New Jersey. My father's family hails from Western Pennsylvania and my mother's hails from Northern New Jersey, so I am intimately familiar with both areas. So that is the context for when I make bold statements and make an ass out of myself.
But in all serious, Twinsburg is my favorite place. The town has let itself grow naturally and doesn't inhibit Corporate America from coming to town, so you can find pretty much anything you need downtown. But in spite of the Corporate presence, the town has also maintained a certain respect for the past and aesthetics. There are preciously old and gorgeous buildings scattered throughout the community and all new edifices do a fairly good job of conforming to the existing style of the town. But unlike most towns that honor their past, Twinsburg does not come across as a pretentious fake old town that strictly enforces archaic rules about development so the 60 year old white men that exclusively make up the town will feel nice and bubbly seeing the 1940s-looking Main Street. No, Twinsburg is very real and very genuine and very current.
The problem is: not everyone is willing to acknowledge that. Twinsburg was recently ranked the 5th best Cleveland suburb by Cleveland Magazine. Now to any rational Twinsburgian, a ranking of 5 would be a huge honor. But I am not quite a rational Twinsburgian, so I looked at the communities Cleveland Magazine ranked ahead of my precious Burg.
4. Rocky River-Okay, I can get it
3. Mayfield Village- Alright, whatever
2.Richfield Village- Fair enough, fair enough
And then I came to number one. And number one was: Solon-Fucking-Ohio.
To those of you who don't know what Solon looks like, just imagine get a mental image of Mordor in your head, then add more flames and more Sears and you've got it. And to those of you who DO know what Solon looks like, doesn't it suck big time?
I should know, I live about 30 yards away from the Twinsburg-Solon border, so I wake up every morning having to inhale the Solon stench. Solon isn't a town, Solon is a two-lane highway with dozens of boring corporate chains on either side of it that occupy buildings that haven't looked cool since 1973. Well, what about the downtown, you ask. I would love to tell you about Solon's downtown, the problem is that it doesn't exist. Twinsburg has a nice, quaint little square with a combination of community barber shops, lots of grass picnic area, a classy old church and some nice shopping centers. The closest thing Solon has to a downtown is four lanes of asphalt and two gas stations.
Solon's schools seem to be a big sticking point for everyone in the town. I can't tell you how many times I have heard: "Yeah, but the schools are soooo great!" The funny thing is that I have never heard one student say this, one parent of a student say this, one teacher say this, or any kind of education expert say this (I actually know of one education expert who LOATHES Solon Schools). The only people who think Solon's schools are good are the people who read Cleveland Magazine. The sad truth of it all is that Solon High School is an over-crowded nearly 50-year-old building where the college prep curriculum is lacking, and the students are barely in class because of their 45,982 Study Hall periods.
So why does Cleveland Magazine think that Solon is so great. It may have something to do with the fact that all of the wealthy people in Northeast Ohio live in a gated community in Solon called Signature of Solon. These people use their wealth and influence to muscle Cleveland Magazine into ranking Solon #1 so their property value will go up. The funny thing is too that Signature is Solon is nowhere near downtown Solon and most of the people I know from Signature spend the majority of their time in downtown Aurora, which is closer to them.
Do you now see why I rarely choose to write about something I feel strongly about? Here I was talking about a trivial ranking in a magazine nobody reads and it almost led me to kill a Solonite. Oh boy, I can get kind of silly sometimes.
But seriously, Solon, watch your back.