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Remember: What I used to do (and am still doing a bit, and want to do again)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What I used to do (and am still doing a bit, and want to do again)

I worked at Hava Java on 19th Street in Allentown from 2002-2007. The highlight of my tenure there was creating a series of performance events that ran on Sunday nights. These events provided an outlet for the great and too often hidden artistic talent that is buried in the neighborhoods of Allentown.

At first, these events were small. They attracted mostly the regulars of the shop and few groups of folks from Muhlenberg and Cedar Crest college. Over time, these events grew to standing room only affairs that required people to be turned away at the door.

I had performances from groups and individuals as diverse as The Lehigh Valley Storytellers, great local poet Paul Martin, and college musicians that have now moved on to gigs in New York City and Philadelphia.

On the night of my last event I held a raffle that was created with the help of all the businesses in the 19th Street Corridor and The West End Theater District. I had managed to secure donations from almost everyone around and with an address to the entire student body at Muhlenberg College and with a heavy push of vibrant marketing; a new era of visibility began on 19th street.

I unfortunately had to leave Hava Java and 19th street shortly after that performance. The events have ceased and the great potential of 19th street as a gateway to the city of Allentown has been diminished once again to just a hope.

I had managed to make it happen once though and it was a wonderful moment and a great feeling.

On Saturdays I am running an Open Mic at a fantastic coffee house in Northampton. I am proud of my work there and encourage all of you to come and check it out.

My heart however; despite attempts to distance myself from it and deny it as a possibility, is forever entwined with 19th street in Allentown. I sincerely hope that one day, the potential I saw and that I helped come to a brief fruition can again exist.


Blogger dick nepon said...


I saw your name, and had to write. There are not a lot of Kleiners in the world. My mother's side of the family are Kleiners, from Newark, NJ, after beginning in NYC after migrating from Germany. I doubt that we are related, but you never know.

I have been living in the 19th street area for years, on 19th, Congress, and now 18th & Linden. In fact I grew up at 1803 Allen Street, and 19th was my playground.

I also should point out that I am runing for Mayor of Allentown. See my info sheet at info.

I was very active with the Theatre Outlet, and Open Space Gallery, so it is amazing we never met. I did not frequent the Hava Java, but I had the orange Austin America that used to drive by regularly and backfire. Some of my kids did, but probably before your time there.

Let me know if you would like to discuss your ideas for Allentown.

April 29, 2009 at 8:52 PM  

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