Lakewood International News, a magazine store, carried the Paris Review, Partisan Review, Kenyon Review and porn. About half the store was porn.
The proprietor, Gil, was a part-time railroader. He and several railroad buddies manned the elevated counter, which was a lookout tower for nailing shoplifters and pervs.
I went to Lakewood News.
Where else could I read an interview of William Styron in the Partisan Review, and Bustin’ Out in the same visit?
Gil lost his lease. (I wasn’t Gil’s landlord.) I had a vacant store. Maybe Gil and I could do business together. A bank tenant had bailed on me down the street. I thought I was good for 30 years with the bank, but then all banks in the world started merging in the late 1980s.
The bank owed me rent until the bank was re-leased. The bank, through back channels, quickly found a new tenant — the city. The city planned to open a health-department annex. Fine. Cockroach inspectors would be my new tenants.
Except the city didn’t move very fast. There were various “readings” at various city council meetings. Meanwhile, Gil, the magazine store owner, told a couple people he was getting the bank store. A Plain Dealer reporter called me.
Possible PD headline: “Stratton New Porn Czar.”
The old porn czar was Reuben Sturman, a local-boy-made-good and the nation’s largest porn distributor.
I got scared. I hand-delivered a media package to the Plain Dealer reporter. I did a Q&A with myself. I answered: “I believe in the First Amendment and the bookstore would be an asset. It isn’t just porn. Ever heard of the Paris Review? I’ll rent to the magazine store.” I wanted the city to hurry up, so I had created a little tension, via the press.
The Plain Dealer story came out. (Nothing too horrible.) But suddenly the city fast-tracked the legislation and rented the space.
That was the only time I ever spun the press.
Don’t believe half what you read in the papers. For the real story, go to the memoirs 20 years later.
But by then, you probably won’t care. But maybe you care in this instance; you read this.
Here’s the beginning of “Adult store’s Detroit Ave. move thwarted” by Paul Shepard, Plain Dealer, 6/21/89:
At first glance, Albert Stratton, landlord of a prime piece of downtown Lakewood real estate, appears to be a person to be envied.
Over the past month, city officials as well as the Lakewood International News magazine shop have courted Stratton, seeking to rent his vacant storefront at Detroit and Victoria Aves.
But with the City Council’s refusal Monday to allow Stratton’s lease of the store and a proposed ordinance to limit the location of so-called adult-oriented businesses, it appears Stratton will have to sue the city to get the magazine shop as a tenant.
“I’m not happy,” Stratton said yesterday. “I feel like I’m caught in the middle of this dispute between the city and the Lakewood International News store.
“My only goal is to rent the store. Whoever signs a lease first gets it, but I think both would be fine tenants for me.”
I wrote an op-ed, “The Old Seder Table,” for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, online, Friday (4/6/12). The op-ed is the only Passover story ever to mention Yazoo City, Mississippi.