Q: Where are you from originally and what brought you here?
A: I was born and raised in New York City. I moved here in August 2017, with my wife, Erica Michelle Levy Rivera, of 16 years. She was born and raised in Shaker Heights. Her mom lives in Orange Village. Her dad was a prominent, highly regarded labor lawyer. We started visiting here regularly around 2002.
Q:How much did you know about Cleveland before moving here?
A: I didn’t know too much about Cleveland, other than as a reporter covering stories. I was here for three weeks back in the 1980s. It was freezing cold and gave me a frigid impression of Northeast Ohio.
Q:What has surprised you the most about living here?
A: If you had told me 20 years ago that I’d become Cleveland’s biggest booster, I’d have said, 'You’re nuts.' But what people don’t get, especially since the Randy Newman song about the Cuyahoga River burning, is how lovely the city is. Set on Lake Erie and surrounded by the Metroparks, Cleveland is one of the most underrated places I’ve ever lived.
Chagrin Falls offers unique shops, chef-inspired restaurants and a famous waterfall. / Photo: Tim Evanson
Q:What are some of your favorite neighborhoods?
A: I love the vitality of the Flats and Tremont, and the eastern suburbs are as pretty as any neighborhood gets. We love going to Chagrin Falls, Hunting Valley, Bratenahl and Gates Mills. In what neighborhood do you currently live? What do you like about it? I love living in Shaker Heights. The excellent, integrated public schools and the public services, including the police and sanitation, are terrific.
Admission is free at MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) in Cleveland. / Photo: Dean Kaufman
Q:What are your favorite places to go or things to do?
A: As a boater, I love the Great Lakes. I brought my boat here via the Erie Canal in 2017. I also love the Cleveland Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art, Shoreby Club, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Great Lakes Science Center, Progressive Field & Browns Stadium—especially when they win.
Q:What are some of your favorite restaurants and bars?
A: My favorite bar in the entire world is the Harbor Inn, down in the Flats. It is one of the truly great dive bars anywhere. I also like the Fairmount, Tavern Company and GiGi’s in Cleveland Heights; Cru Uncorked in Pepper Pike; Johnny’s Downtown; Michael’s Genuine at Van Aken District; Marble Room; and Sarah's Place in Gates Mills.
Q:What advice would you give someone moving to the area?
A: Listen to my show on WTAM 1100AM. Check out downtown, the parks and museums, get to know your neighbors, and go Browns!
Q:Is there anything else you would like to say about the area?
A: The 2016 Republican Convention, Cavs’ NBA Championship and Indians’ American League Pennant win show we can do anything.