February 12th, 2014 By Kelsey Kennedy | The Morning After | Posted In: Commentary, Culture

How to Become a Cincinnatian, for Non-Natives

Tags: Cincinnati
fountainsquare-downtowncincinnati-resizedPhoto: cincinnatiusa.com

They say you move to Cincinnati and put on a pair of goggles — the longer you stay, the harder it is to take them off. And why would you want to? I’ve lived here for five years and still manage to fall deeper in love with this city every day. For all you newcomers, here are some necessary guidelines for your initiation into the greatest city in the Midwest.

1. Pick a chili, not a side. The East side/West side rivalry is deeply rooted in competitive turf wars and stubborn rationalizations. When brought up in conversation, it’s usually best to remain indifferent and let your eyes glaze over until the fighting stops.

2. Become a regular at (at least) one bar in Over-the-Rhine. Find your favorite bartender at Neon’s and dance to the ‘8os music at Japp’s on a Saturday night. Discover new music at MOTR or wind down with some jazz at 1215 Wine Bar.

3. Understand that high schools — and the culture surrounding them — are really important here. “Are you from around here?” is almost always followed by, “So what high school did you go to?” Cincinnatians stick to their alma maters like glitter on glue, and everyone has a reputation.

4. See The Cincy Brass play at Mr. Pitiful’s before you die (or move).

Request the song “Let Me Clear My Throat” by DJ Kool. Gyrate on everyone.

5. Get to know Kentucky. Bounce around the Levee and Mainstrasse. End your night with a cheesy goetta omelet at the Anchor Grill. Trust me on this one.

6. Cincinnati has the second largest Oktoberfest in the world (The WORLD!) second only to Munich. Dress like a German, drink like a German, eat like a German.

7. Develop a severe case of road rage while driving on I-75. Perfect the ability to stare someone down after cutting you off.

8. Vote. Get involved with this city’s politics. Picket City Hall or write a letter to an editor. Cincinnati had a record-breaking low voter turnout in the 2013 mayoral election — make your voice heard.

9. Give back to your neighborhood. Volunteer at the Freestore Foodbank or tutor kids at Wordplay Cincy. Teach an art class or buy someone an umbrella on a rainy day. Start a collaborative effort to make this city the best it can be.

10. Master the Metro and make friends with the drivers. Sit up front and strike up a conversation with a stranger. Try not to fall when the metro slides down one of Cincinnati’s many 90-degree angles.

11. Appreciate Cincinnati sports. Tailgate at a Bengal’s game, cheer on the Cyclones and pledge your allegiance to Brandon Phillips’ smile.

12. EAT ALL THE GOETTA. And LaRosa’s. And Graeter’s. Now start training for the Flying Pig.

13. Find your favorite city park with your favorite view of the skyline against Kentucky. Feel safe tucked away in the hills. Ponder about the meaning of life.

14. Roll your windows down and go 10 miles over the speed limit on the Roebling Bridge. Listen to the whirring sound. Just do it.

15. Develop a deep love for all things Cincinnati and defend your city when people talk shit. Recognize that you are a part of something larger than yourself — that Cincinnati isn’t just the Queen City — it’s a community and a network and a lineage of diverse Midwesterners who all contribute to making this place a force to be reckoned with.

Oh, and read CityBeat.

02.12.2014 at 05:07 Reply

Wow she really captured the essence of Cincy!  Rock on!


02.12.2014 at 09:55 Reply

Well put - but don't eat the goetta.  (it's all mine)


02.14.2014 at 01:41 Reply

Good stuff but if moving to Cincy I would first check out Northern KY. All the benefits of the city but in a better area to live.


02.24.2014 at 01:05 Reply

I Lived in Cincy 20 out of my 32 years. Little known fact...Empress was first and slays Skyline and Goldstar. Chili Time slaw dog is incredible for late night drunkeness. ...but, Cincinnati needs to learn a thing or two about diversity, culinarily speaking..Loving Hut in Pleasant Ridge is a step in the right direction...BTW stop downloading and support Everybody's...got me through high school. Cheers friends!


02.24.2014 at 04:50 Reply

Dave is right, live in North Kentucky.  You save on the ridiculous taxes that Cincy has to pay for the Bengals stadium debacle and whatever you do, avoid OTR like the plague, no matter how many "cool" and "trendy" people feel authentic for exploiting that neighborhood's poor.  Even if you hear there is a cool restaurant there, remember that they moved there for the systematic and deliberate exploitation of the impoverished neighborhood.  Who wants to give money to people like that?  Avoid at all costs.


02.24.2014 at 01:18

Anna, what a tired, pathetic and shockingly vacuous commentary you add to what was a great piece about living in Cincinnati.  Your attacks on OTR, and the efforts by many to make it safe, liveable and representative of Cincinnati are lazy liberalism at its very worst.  Come back when you have spent the time to research your claims with detailed analysis of all the "exploitation" put upon the impoverished people who live in OTR.  I can't wait to hear all the facts.