Randy Newman - Burn On (Berlin 1994)
Randy Newman in a 1994 Berlin concert, performing "Burn On", a track from his 1972 Sail Away album. It's about the Cuyahoga River, which flows through Cleveland's industrial center and into Lake Erie. Historically, it was one of the most polluted waterways in the country, and the oil slicks and debris floating in the water caused a number of fires on the river.
Yes, that's right. The freaking river would routinely catch on fire.
On August 1, 1969, Time magazine reported on the fire and on the condition of the Cuyahoga River. The magazine stated,
Some River! Chocolate-brown, oily, bubbling with subsurface gases, it oozes rather than flows. "Anyone who falls into the Cuyahoga does not drown," Cleveland's citizens joke grimly. "He decays". . . The Federal Water Pollution Control Administration dryly notes: "The lower Cuyahoga has no visible signs of life, not even low forms such as leeches and sludge worms that usually thrive on wastes." It is also -- literally -- a fire hazard.
Because of this fire, Cleveland businesses became infamous for their pollution, a legacy of the city's booming manufacturing days during the late 1800s and the early 1900s, when limited government controls existed to protect the environment. Even following World War II, Cleveland businesses, especially steel mills, routinely polluted the river. Cleveland and its residents also became the butt of jokes across the United States, despite the fact that city officials had authorized 100 million dollars to improve the Cuyahoga River's water before the fire occurred. The fire also brought attention to other environmental problems across the country, helped spur the Environmental Movement, and helped lead to the passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972. (Source)
Living in a city where even the river tries to off itself leads to some pretty no-nonsense people, as you can see below.
In 1974, a Browns fan and season ticket-holder named Dale Cox sent the following letter to the Cleveland Browns:
I am one of your season ticket holders who attends or tries to attend every game. It appears one of the pastimes of several fans has become the sailing of paper airplanes generally made out of the game program. As you know, there is the risk of serious eye injury and perhaps an ear injury as a result of such airplanes. I am sure that this has been called to your attention and that several of your ushers and policemen witnessed the same.
Please be advised that since you are in a position to control or terminate such action on the part of fans, I will hold you responsible for any injury sustained by any person in my party attending one of your sporting events. It is hoped that this disrespectful and possibly dangerous activity will be terminated.
Very truly yours,
Roetzel & Andress
By Dale O. Cox
Here’s the response from the team’s general counsel:
Ian Hunter - Cleveland Rocks (a/k/a The Drew Carey Show Theme Song)