Monday, April 19, 2010

The Jerry Siegel Race, part 2 of 3

First read part 1.

Jerry Siegel’s house is still standing (in the Glenville section of Cleveland):

Taken January 2007.

Joe Shuster’s, alas, is not. This photo was taken about a year before its 10/31/75 demolition:

So technically, the race would be from Jerry’s house to the site of Joe’s apartment. That distance is a sixth of a mile (just shy of how far the first published incarnation of Superman could leap). I figured it would take the average person about four minutes to run. So this would be a race in which even non-runners could participate.

I was hoping that staging what I inelegantly called the Jerry Siegel Race through the largely impoverished neighborhood would be a spirit boost. Yet I also wanted to keep it as simple (and inexpensive) as possible. To do that, I wanted to get the community involved.

I planned to approach local radio stations to find one willing to “score” the race. Say the race was set to start at 3 p.m. At precisely that moment, the station would begin to play the familiar and stirring theme from Superman: The Movie. (Hey, I like to run to it.)

But I didn’t want to have to get into renting and setting up big speakers along the route. Besides, plenty of speakers were already there—in private homes.
So in advance, we’d distribute flyers to the neighbors along the 9.5-block route. We’d announce the date of the race and encourage them to take part as a runner—or a DJ.

To be specific, we’d ask them to turn to the designated station(s), put their radios up to their front windows, open those windows, and at 3 p.m., crank up the volume. Voila—instant and continuous soundtrack, perfectly in sync. I’d never heard of a race like this and thought it would be quite electrifying to witness.

(I envisioned that we could also use the flyers to promote summer reading.)

Perhaps the station(s) that agreed to play the theme during the race would also help raise money by asking each listener to pledge a single dollar toward the cause. The tagline: "Help Superman's hood with a single buck" (playing off of "Leaps tall buildings in a single bound," a famous line from the "Faster than a speeding bullet..." Superman intro).

Also in advance, we’d try to recruit local celebs to be a part of it. I even rounded up addresses for and drafted the letter to invite big-name celebs who are more than casual Superman fans (Jerry Seinfeld, Jon Bon Jovi, Nic Cage, Howard Stern).

At the end of the race would be a block party where people would eat cookies and mini-pizzas in the shape of the Superman “S” emblem. My book would be for sale, and we’d have activities for kids.

I mentioned raising money for a cause. What cause?

While the race would be in Jerry’s name since he was the runner of the story, the event would culminate with the unveiling of some kind of commemorative marker on the site where Joe’s building had stood. (It’s not fair that Jerry’s house is a protected heritage site and Joe’s house is gone.)

I wanted this marker to somehow incorporate the only two known photos that exist of it, both of which I’d turned up in my research.
That way, when fans made a pilgrimage to the site, they would get some sense of how it looked when history crashed to Earth there.

However, it wasn’t just Joe’s onetime apartment that was about to be history.

Concluded in part 3.

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