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The Optimist

by Joe Gabriele Beat Writer
Click here to contact the Optimist

Ni hao, y’all! It’s me, the Optometrist – checking in from the Rubber City on the eve of an annual event we like to call "The Wine and Gold Scrimmage."

Along with TheBron’s Bike-a-Thon, the perennial exhibition is one of two occasions in which we have the chance to celebrate All Things Akron.

I’m sure’s resident Beat Weiner, Joe Gabriele, will fill you in on all the details of the W&G Scrimmage with some cockamamie recap tomorrow afternoon – (including the “debut” of the Diesel). Normally, I would predict the game’s results, but picking one group of Cavaliers against another group of Cavaliers crosses up my wiring.

So, as long as we’re down here in Summit County, I decided to provide another updated list of THE CITY OF AKRON’S GREATEST CONTRIBUTIONS TO MANKIND.

Some of you might be thinking that TheBron is the ONLY great thing to come out of Akron. Nothing could be further from the truth. He’s just the best thing to come out of Akron. Big difference.

Aside from the Chosen One, Akron has given us Quaker Oats Cereal, Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens, the Lime Spider, Alcoholics Anonymous, the country’s best Soap Box Derby and the gorgeous new InfoCision Stadium – whose name rolls off the tongue.

The list only goes to 10 – not 11 – so I had to make some painful omissions, including former Playmate of the Year, Heather Kozar, silky smooth crooner, James Ingram, Melina Eleni Kanakaredes of CSI: NY, the “master manipulator” of Watergate, John Dean, HeeHaw’s Grandpa Jones, former Judas Priest frontman Tim "Ripper" Owens, filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, televangelist Rex Humbard, and, of course, David Allen Coe, the guy who wrote the Johnny Paycheck classic, “Take This Job and Shove It.”

Enjoy the list of luminaries and perhaps I’ll see some of you on Saturday afternoon at
The JAR …


He's got the whole, wide world
in his hands.
Chrissie Hynde

The matriarch of modern rock, Chrissie Hynde has been ahead of the curve, musically and stylistically, since the early ‘80s. The Firestone High grad and founder of the Pretenders currently splits time between her London flat and a loft in the Highland Square neighborhood. Two years ago, Hynde opened an Italian-vegetarian restaurant – “The VegiTerranean” – in downtown Akron.
Brian Windhorst

The capo di tutti capi of Cavaliers beat reporters, the multi-talented Brian Windhorst currently ranks as the third-best thing to come out of Akron and the second-best thing to come out of St. Vincent-St. Mary’s. Among the cacophony of critics, hangers-on and superficial scribes – Brian is the voice of reason and the man Cavs fans trust for the truth.
Coondog O'Karma

TheBron of Competitive Eating, Coondog’s legend began at age 15, when he ate 13 sweet potato pies in a minute. Still the holder of world records in donut and corn on the cob consumption, the Akron native once downed 45 hard-boiled eggs in eight minutes, becoming the WCUE Egg-Sucking Champion. Later that summer, Coondog broke another Guinness world record by consuming 25 Krispy Kreme glazed doughnuts in 15 minutes.

The winner of the 2008 Capital One Bowl contest, U. of Akron’s marsupial mascot has been patrolling the sidelines since 1953. For years, non-Akronites thought Zippy was a man, baby. But she is in fact a female kangaroo. Either way, Zippy will continue to be one of the nation’s most loveable mascots, from her adorable blue-and-gold beanie to her chubby
little FUPA (Fat Upper Pouch Area).
The Black Keys

One of the hottest acts on today’s modern music scene, the blues-rock duo of Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney has toured with acts like Beck and Radiohead. Among their admirers are Robert Plant and ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons. Always expanding their sound, the Black Keys new album will feature heavyweight rappers like Mos Def, Q-Tip, RZA and Ludacris. Their music has been featured in everything from The O.C. to Sons of Anarchy.
The Goodyear Blimp

Nowadays, any corporation with an advertising budget and a bunch of helium will fly their blimp over a sporting event. But for old-school fans like myself, the most dependable dirigible in the skies will always be The Goodyear Blimp. The Goodyear Blimp is not just another aircraft, it was the symbol of a major event and, for years, was the most famous zeppelin since the Hindenburg crashed and burned in 1937. Oh, the humanity!

Founded by the brothers Mothersbaugh in 1973, the synth-rock, post-punk pioneers broke on the scene with “Whip It” in 1980 and continue performing live to this day, with Warner Brothers re-releasing their seminal album Freedom of Choice with a world tour to follow. Last November, they hosted a show at the Akron Civic Theater to support the campaign of Barack Obama, joined on the bill by Chrissie Hynde (2) and the Black Keys (6).
James Harrison

You readers know how much it pains me to put a member of the hated Stillers on this list – exspecially after he ran on the field at the Stadium a couple years ago, tackling an innocent Browns fan who was just looking to party. [pictured] But, after all, the former Golden Flash is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year and just turned in the greatest defensive play in the history of
the Super Bowl.
Terry Pluto

Although Terry Pluto was not born in Akron and has since joined Brian Windhorst at the PD, he will always be synonymous with the Rubber City. The author of over 20 books, including Loose Balls and Burying the Curse, Pluto is a nine-time winner of the Ohio Sports Writer of the Year. If it were possible to judge a writer by how hard he hits the keys on his laptop, Terry Pluto would be the most prolific sportswriter in Northeast Ohio.
(Oh wait – he already is.)

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