The first time I remember meeting Jeremy Ramundo was at Walnut Hills High School during the late ’90s. I didn’t know him as “Roger” — his actual first name by which he’s being referenced in media reports about his shooting death by Cincinnati Police on July 24 (see “The Unexpected Death of Jeremy Ramundo” at citybeat.com) — until we’d known each other for about five years. The day we met we were standing in the back circle of the Walnut Hills High School’s grounds, waiting for our rides home. I lived in Price Hill at the time, and it seemed to me that most of the cooler kids at Walnut were from Clifton. Jeremy was as Clifton as it gets — from living off of Ludlow Avenue in the Gaslight District as a kid to renting a billion apartments in the neighborhood after growing up and attending UC.
It’s really time warping to bookend your relationship with another person with the first time you met them, the last time you saw them in person and the last time you saw them on Facebook. I can do that with Jeremy. Although we were by no means close friends, it is morbid to know these specific parameters of your interaction with someone who is no longer here.
We started talking on a cold winter day when our rides were taking way too long to get us. I had just moved to Cincinnati from New York and was pleased to know that he was cool with the three or four people I knew at that point. Jeremy’s parents or relatives came to swoop him up in a Toyota Avalon, and I remember him calling it “The Avvy.” That always stuck with me, because I have always tried to glamorize what seems ordinary by giving it a flashy nickname.
The last time I saw him was in 2011. We bumped into each other on campus at UC, both thirtysomethings still trying to figure out how education and student loans might turn the key to economic stability and some type of direction in life. He was excited to be doing broadcasts on Bearcast Radio and wanted me to stop by and be on the show. I remember back when he lived on Bellevue Street, he was one of the first people I knew with a plush big-screen TV.
Eventually, he watched so much Fox News that the logo literally burned in the corner of the screen.
Although we disagreed about a lot more than we agreed on politically, it was always refreshing to talk/argue with Jeremy because he actually knew his shit and would frame his arguments around solid data rather than baseless opinion or faith. I remember a lengthy debate about the streetcar around 10 years ago in his third floor bedroom in Clifton Heights. My friend and I were lauding it like the monorail salesman in The Simpsons and talking about how great it would make everything. Jeremy explained why he thought it was a bad idea. Ten years later, it still isn’t built and no one knows for sure if it’s a good idea or not.
After crossing paths at McMicken Hall a couple years ago, we decided to head over to Mac’s to eat fried food and drink beer. We talked and argued for a few hours. We said we would see each other soon and things of that nature, but it was definitely one of those times when you say that sort of thing knowing it’s probably not going to happen.
The last picture I saw of him on Facebook was one from the good old days. He was lying on his stomach on a bed, with a large cat lying on his back. I think the accompanying status somberly marked the cat’s passing. The last time I indirectly interacted with Jeremy, he was upset that his old cat passed away.
Jeremy would never debate an issue he wasn’t informed about, and that is what made him so interesting to talk with. The last time I saw him he was talking about wanting to break into radio broadcasting, and I also remember back in the Bellevue days him tentatively naming his show “The Ramundo Factor.” People thought it was as absurd and unlikely as what your friends in bands think their musical efforts are going to do to change their lives. I was one of those people, mainly because he was super conservative and we never agreed on anything other than hoping our local sports teams stopped losing all the time. Looking back, Ramundo would have made an excellent conservative media personality because he did a better job of explaining his political stance and views than anyone else with whom I have shared such little common ground. When you disagreed with him, he actually listened to what you had to say rather than blanking out and waiting for you to finish so he could talk again.
There’s no way to accurately measure the quality of conversation and what a precious and uncommon commodity that is, but Jeremy knew how to do it with conviction and a willingness to change his opinions that you don’t find often.
I rode my bike to a doctor’s appointment on Wednesday. While stopped at the intersection of Clifton and MLK, I saw three or four cop cars and a police motorcycle run through it at speeds I’ve never seen on those streets, sirens blazing. When that happens, you tend to imagine why the police are doing what they’re doing, and invent some scenario in which you and the people you know have absolutely nothing to do with it.
While I was in the waiting room, I saw on my phone that an unidentified 32-year-old male was dead. I texted my mom to let her know it wasn’t me. Many parents of Clifton kids wouldn’t have to stretch their imaginations too far to picture their son or daughter being out on Arlin’s back porch in the early afternoon hours of a sunny July day.
I don’t know what happened, and don’t think that whatever comes to light will bring any sense of closure to the people who knew Jeremy. All I know is that I knew Jeremy back when we thought wearing Nautica clothing made us cool, and knew him for a long time before his life was cut short.
CONTACT ISAAC THORN: firstname.lastname@example.org