by Brian Davis
Tony Mel, a man known to the homeless community and pedestrians in the Flats as Mr. Miaggi was killed November 25 in a vacant warehouse in the Flats. Mel suffered extensive bumps and bruises and was killed by a heavy blow to the head. No motive was established, but another homeless person was arrested and charged with murder.
Mel frequented the bars in the Flats and was prone to excessive drinking and abusive language. He was the Charles Bukowski of the Cleveland Flats. He was the fallen quiet man that is a fixture in every big city in America.
Mel was the type of man that is the model for characters in literature as far back as Shakespeare. The remote observer with a simple addiction that was triggered by one event in his life that he never got over.
Bob Gogne of the West Side Catholic Center said, "he was an independent man that always seemed to make money. He would give the shirt off your back." Gogne said that he was an enigma, who had very little contact with anyone.
Ron Reinhart of the Cosgrove Center agreed. "He kept to himself. He didn't frequent the [shelters or meal sites or other social service centers]. Everyone liked him," Reinhart commented.
"All the bartenders liked him," said Robert, a bartender in the Flats. "We had to kick him out for being drunk, and he would shout obscenities, but we knew he was harmless," Robert explained.
"I remember one night he fell asleep looking up at the big screen, and he sat there for hours without moving. We didn't know he was asleep until 3 a.m. when we told him that we were closed," Robert said.
Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine published January – February 1996 Issue 13