Inspiration is something I wish you could bottle right alongside chemistry. Wouldn't that be cool? Not to mention amazing and extremely profitable. I'm not sure which is harder to find or explain, but damn I spend a lot of energy looking for both. Actually the truth is when there's chemistry there's usually inspiration -- or is it the other way around? Who cares? I just want it!
When I was walking up to Calhoun Street facing bitter cold wind last week, I was cursing not only approaching winter but also any event ever conceived for a Monday evening. It surely is a night to stay home and cuddle with hairy pets or males of the hairy persuasion. Seeing as how this was an industry event honoring musicians and thespians who work every other night of the week (and double up some nights), I guess Monday night is understandable and forgivable.
The wind practically blew me in the doors of Old St. George for the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards show, where the talent had already taken the stage. The crowd was dense and the body heat welcome as the church was stunning in stature but drafty indeed. It was as if there was a life inside these walls that wanted to reach out onto the streets but yet was content to fill the Great Hall with throws of talent. I was mesmerized and inspired simultaneously, all the while grateful that conventional religion built this place.
Of course, Jake Speed, who would later be named Artist of the Year, made light of the whole church thing with his joke about how to make holy water and I quote, "You boil the hell out of it."
Even though gloves were needed to hold the damn drink, I figured music and theater are meant to be enjoyed with beverage of choice. I found my way to the drink tent deciding to try the new Bacardi cocktail in a bottle and was tempted to rub noses with the musician to my left. He was the right amount of bad boy, and he had a body temperature of 98.6 degrees. Of course, the actor to my right would have made a nice sandwich of body warmth. Plus the fact that everyone seemed to know each other enough to make the whole idea somehow sane.
The music beckoned most of us back to the action, and I found a spot near the sound booth to watch and listen. I scolded myself for not being more up on the nominees but decided this was a quick lesson on what's going on in Cincinnati music and theater. And trust me, there's a lot going on. Who knew so much talent could be in one place and in a place like Cincinnati? Though, in defense of this city, I always have believed it's just as cool to knock it as it is to celebrate it.
Preferring the glass half full as opposed to empty, I found myself in good company here. As the winners took the podium to accept their awards in categories from Rock to Hip Hop and from supporting actor to lead actress, the overriding feeling and sentiment is this city rocks with talent and venues that, while they might not be mainstream, are alive and kicking. Hey, this might be the best news since the Hustler store opened downtown and on I-75, saving on all those shipping and handling charges!
The idea that I didn't know the places and people being featured on the gigantic video screen spewing categories and nominees with lightening speed was turning me on. For a fact, I know I would like to see Brian Isaac Phillips, the winner in the supporting and leading role categories, in anything from a live performance to a private audition. Also, it would be incredibly cool to party with the group at Bootsy Collins' table because he's so incredibly talented and humble that he must be surrounded by equally great personalities. I wouldn't turn down an invite to Dale Hodges' Christmas party, as she impressed the hell out of me with her acceptance speech for being inducted in the Hall of Fame along with Bootsy. Last but not least, I would enjoy meeting Nicole, who is Boom Bip's Muse. Forget lover and/or girlfriend -- I aspire to be a Muse!
While waiting in line for the ladies room, I asked the girl in front of me where Boom Bip plays live. She didn't know but said her boyfriend who's in a band might know. Turning to the gal behind me who was sporting a few piercings and punk hair, I asked the same question: "Where do I hear Boom Bip?" She didn't know either, but we all agreed that if this Album of the Year winner is indeed a winner we'll be in the know soon enough. Lord knows Nicole, the Muse, will be there with us.
-- Wendy Robinson
Down On Main Street
There have been a bunch of advertisements highlighting downtown Cincinnati as a place to visit and shop for the holidays. I decided to support my local downtown businesses and take in the arts by going to Final Friday on Main Street to begin my holiday shopping. I picked up my friend Cathy and headed down. I hate parking downtown near Main Street at night, because it's nearly impossible to find a "safe" place to park without paying $5. I decided to be cheap and parked on Sycamore Street across from the School for Creative and Performing Arts.
The first place we stopped into was The Dutcher Collection on 1313 Main St. This storefront has had more lives than I can remember over the years and is now a store full of New Age techno accessories, with a few Feng Shui items thrown in on the side. I found an adorable egg-shaped soapstone from Swahili for my mother, but I didn't see anything there I wanted to buy for myself.
We then headed north on Main Street to a photograph gallery I forgot the name of that was showing a series of photographs titled White Women. The photos were huge close-ups of what appeared to be women's underarms, knuckles, back of knees and other parts of the anatomy. I was impressed by how much contrast there was in the pictures. There was only white skin, with small black areas of shadow or hair, but no grays at all.
While I was looking at the photographs, I noticed a group of about five women standing next to the cheese and wine table, and I decided to strike up a conversation with one of them. Then the strangest thing happened. As I got close, all five women moved as a group away from the table. In order to not look even more like an idiot, I grabbed a piece of cheese and went back to talk to Cathy. As soon as I left, the women all moved back to the table. It was like watching a shark swim near a school of minnows on the Nature Channel.
Our next and final stop of the evening was BASE Gallery, the first time either of us had been there. There were four small rooms in the front of the gallery, dedicated to four different artists. My favorite room was the one focusing on abstract multimedia paintings. The back of the gallery was an open area that featured mostly metal sculptors of "Space Flowers" and a great series of photographs of boats on the Ohio River.
Cathy and I talked about how hard it must be to keep small galleries open on Main Street. I admitted that since the riots I hadn't been near Main Street nearly as much as I used to, which sucks because I love going to Kaldi's and even the Main City Bar every once in a while.
But that was all before we got back to my car and realized that it had been broken into. Neither one of us were too upset about it, though. It's kind of sad, but when I go to Over-the-Rhine these days I half expect something criminal to happen to me.
-- R.L. Newman
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