Here's the dish on hogs: they rank among the smartest in the animal kingdom and despite the phrase "pigging out," they actually savor their food. On March 1, National Pig Day, Americans across the Midwest don snouts, dress in pink and "eat like pigs" to celebrate their intelligence and contributions to mankind.
If you're looking for your own 15 minutes of fame but find your skill sets are generally limited to things that are superfluous — or, in this case, possibly self-destructive — your best bet might be to take up one of these local eating challenges (these are the ones we know of — we bet there's a lot more of 'em) so you can achieve glory, superstar status and indigestion — right after you unbuckle your pants.
Everybody knows Cincinnati is obsessed with food, probably because there's a lot of it around here. Good food, that is. Whether you want to show off, naturally induce hibernation, experience a lifetime's worth of a particular dish in one sitting or just want a good story to tell, there are plenty of opportunities to make it happen with eating challenges around the city.
The hard work local experimental Rock/Soul/Pop/Prog/Glam oddballs Foxy Shazam have put in on the road the past couple of years is starting to pay off big time. Recent Foxy news includes everything from the impending release of the band’s major-label debut for Sire Records to gigging with Courtney Love in the U.K. to collaborations with Rock legend Meat Loaf.
While I’m not quite a junkie, I am fairly addicted to the “33 1/3” book series from publisher Continuum. If you’ve yet to hear about the series, the books are each dedicated to one specific album that has gained some sort of notoriety in the music world. The records chosen are mostly cult favorites with a few influential blockbusters mixed in. Of the 60 books written so far (each by a different author), the series has covered Pet Sounds, Songs in the Key in Life, Exile on Main St. and Led Zeppelin II but also lower-selling but no less influential recordings by the Magnetic Fields, Belle & Sebastian, Guided By Voices, DJ Shadow and Sonic Youth. (For a great overview, pick up one of the two Greatest Hits volumes released by the publisher.)
The tomes vary in approach, with some offering strictly historical examinations, some more about the author’s personal relationship with the album and others a mix of both. Chicago-based writer and music industry vet Bob Gendron has written what will likely be the only Cincinnati-connected album in the series, telling the tale behind Gentlemen, the major-label debut and relative breakthrough album by The Afghan Whigs. I would argue that records by Over the Rhine and The Ass Ponys, among others, deserve the 33 1/3 treatment, but they’re likely not well known enough to pique the publisher’s interest. I’d also argue that my personal favorite Whigs’ album, Black Love, should get a book, but the chances of having two Whigs stories in the series are just as slim.
Gendron mostly plays historian, telling the story via research and numerous interviews with the prime players, including all of the Whigs (drummer Steve Earle included), Sub Pop employees (Gendron himself used to be one) and other friends and industry connections. He also does a fantastic job of recreating the state of the Whigs at the time, a band of tight friends on the brink of major success yet also inflicted with drug issues and internal and external squabbles.
The story of Gentlemen is bookended by the tale of the band’s beginnings and their breakup, all the way up through last year’s greatest hits album. There are a lot of interesting tidbits and revelations. Gendron gets singer/songwriter Greg Dulli to talk about his serious relationship with the mysterious “Kris,” the dissolution of which led to the album’s tortuous, heartbroken tone. Other fun facts: Dulli recorded several of the album’s lead vocal tracks in one night while flying on coke and trying to impress a girl; Steve Earle was booted for several reasons (alcohol abuse, meddling girlfriend, creative control issues, ego conflict); and labelmate Linda Ronstadt was allegedly furious about the album’s cover (depicting a young boy and girl lounging on a bed), apparently under the impression that it was a naked bellybutton away from being child porn. It was also interesting to read that one of the band’s main friends at Elektra Records was feeding information to the nasty, slanderous 'zine Fat Greg Dulli.
Gendron gets to about every detail of the album, from the cover art’s original inspiration and liner notes to the songs’ inspirations and recording. But he doesn’t just relay facts. He also talks about Gentlemen as an artistic statement, carefully dissecting and describing the individual songs’ and the general album’s mood, cause and effect. Not only does Gendron’s book offer the last word on Gentlemen, it also shows what a compelling story The Afghan Whigs’ entire career remains.
For Whigs fans or even just those who were around Cincinnati to witness the band’s rise from little underground touring unit to soulful, seductive Rock machine, the book is a fascinating remembrance. For those who’ve never even heard of the Afghan Whigs, the story is universal and dramatic enough to be read as a novel (save the music-critic-y song dissertations).
The story is so good, in fact, that it would be great to see Gendron expand it beyond the 113 pages of this book. As his Gentlemen proves, the Whigs are deserving of a long-form biography that tells the band’s complete story. Who knows? Maybe Gentlemen: The Movie isn’t totally out of the realm of possibility.
Too bad John Belushi isn't around to play Greg. And Jimmy Page is too old to play Rick McCollum.
— Mike Breen
Passing gas is sometimes considered a reaction to a good meal from a satisfied consumer, but actually farts are made during the release of gas that your body produces during digestion. My farts however are starting to push my friends away. I have always farted throughout my life, like most people, but recently things have been getting out of control.
500 Miles to Memphis at the Southgate House Revival: Say goodbye to 2013 with the band, one of the best live groups in the area. 9 p.m. $8 pre-sale; $10 day-of. Southgate House Revival, 111 E. Sixth St., Newport, Ky., 859-431-2201, southgatehouse.com.
Big Easy New Year’s Eve: Ring in the New Year New Orleans-style with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and conductor John Morris Russell. The evening will feature jazzy Big Band favorites with trumpeter Byron Stripling delivering Dixieland favorites and a tribute to Louis Armstrong. Following the concert, there will bea ball hors d’oeuvres, cocktails, carnival-style dancing, dinner, live music and a champagne toast at midnight. Concert: 7:30 p.m.; ball: 10 p.m. Concert: $12-$90; ball: $175-$250. Music Hall, 1241 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, cincinnatisymphony.org.
SOLD OUT CityBeat and Know Theatre’s Speakeasy Party: A 1920s-themed speakeasy in the basement bar of the Know Theatre with casino games, dance lessons, food, martinis and a champagne toast at midnight. Benefits the Know Theatre. 8 p.m.-1 a.m. $25. Know Theatre of Cincinnati, 1120 Jackson St., Over-the-Rhine, RSVP to 513-300-5669 or knowtheatre.com.
Hamilton County Parks’ Family New Year’s Eve: A ton of family-friendly fun to fit in before the ball drops at 9 p.m. See live animals, balloon sculptors and magicians and play games, make crafts and more. 6-9 p.m. $4; free for 2 and younger. Woodland Mound, Seasongood Nature Center, 8250 Old Kellogg Road, Beechmont, RSVP to greatparks.org.
First Midnight: Performances by DJ ETrayn, DJ B Sarge and Peter Dressman plus hors d’oeuvres and a champagne toast. Benefits Give Back Cincinnati. 8 p.m.-2 a.m. $40; $30 advance; $50 per couple advance. Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati, 1000 Broadway St., Downtown, RSVP to ffecincinnati.com.
Happy Zoo Year: Ring in the New Year early at the Zoo with the Festival of Lights, a New Year’s Eve Madcap Puppet Theatre black-light show, party favors, costumed characters and appearances by Baby Zoo Year and Father Time. An early New Year countdown begins at 8:55 p.m. at the Wings of Wonder Theater with fireworks at 9 p.m. 5-9 p.m. Included with zoo admission: $15 adults; $10 seniors and children. Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, 3400 Vine St., Avondale, cincinnatizoo.org.
International New Year’s Celebration: Celebrate New Year’s traditions from around the world each hour in the Cincinnati Museum Center’s rotunda. Learn about the different countries and their culture, music, games and crafts. Stop by “customs” for special country stamps and write a letter to troops stationed abroad. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Free. Cincinnati Museum Center, 1301 Western Ave., Queensgate, cincymuseum.org.
Midnight in Munich: Celebrate the New Year in Germany with a German dinner buffet, German festivities and a champagne toast at 6 p.m. — midnight Munich time. 5 p.m. $30. Mecklenburg Gardens, 302 E. University Ave., Corryville, RSVP to mecklenburgs.net.
Mike Davis New Year’s Eve Show: Las Vegas-style entertainment by Elvis tribute act Mike Davis. Includes a buffet dinner, coffee, soft drinks, beer and wine. 9 p.m.-1 a.m. $50. Mariner’s Inn, 7391 Forbes Park, Sayler Park, RSVP to 513-465-9037 or todayselvis.com.
New Year’s Eve Ball: Two DJs on two levels plus an hors d’oeuvres buffet and champagne toast. 9 p.m. $30; discounts for 10 or more. Mount Adams Pavilion, 949 Pavilion St., Mount Adams, RSVP to 513-744-9200 or mountadamspavilion.com.
New Year’s Eve Bash at Blinkers Tavern: Regular menu available plus a three-course dinner, party favors and a champagne toast at midnight. Music by DJ Lunaman. 8 p.m. $65. Blinkers Tavern, 318 Greenup St., Covington, Ky., RSVP to 859-360-0840.
New Year’s Eve Black and White Ball: Includes a two-room suite at the Embassy Suites Blue Ash plus an open bar, dancing, DJ, buffet dinner, midnight continental breakfast and late check-out. Check-in at 3 p.m. $349. Embassy Suites Blue Ash, 4554 Lake Forest Drive, Blue Ash, RSVP to 513-981-3752.
New Year’s Eve Blast on Fountain Square: Food vendors, beverage stations, souvenirs, dance contest, music by DJ Tweet and Rozzi’s famous fireworks at midnight. 8 p.m.-midnight. Free; VIP packages available. Fountain Square, Fifth and Vine streets, Downtown, 513-763-8036, myfountainsquare.com.
New Year’s Eve at Bobby Mackey’s Music World: The 35th annual bash at Bobby’s with line dancing, live music, bull rides and hourly ghost tours. Music by Bobby Mackey and the Big Mac Band plus karaoke. 9 p.m. $10. Bobby Mackey’s Music World, 44 Licking Pike, Wilder, Ky., RSVP to 859-431-5588 or bobbymackey.com.
New Year’s Eve Dinner Cruise: An Ohio River cruise with BB Riverboats including the sparkling Cincinnati skyline, a buffet, entertainment, champagne split at midnight and a late-night snack buffet and party favors. 9 p.m.-1 a.m. $102 adults; $62 children. BB Riverboats, 101 Riverboat Row, Newport, Ky., RSVP to 859-261-8500 or bbriverboats.com.
New Year’s Eve Dinner Dance: Hot buffet, snacks, a wine fountain, hats, noisemakers, music and attendees can BYOB. 8 p.m.-1 a.m. $40. Lakeridge Hall, 7210 Pippin Road, Colerain Township, RSVP to 513-521-1112.
New Year’s Eve at the Funny Bone: A special engagement with comedian Basile. 7 p.m. $45. Levee Funny Bone, Newport on the Levee, Newport, Ky., funnybone.com.
New Year’s Eve Gala at Vito’s Cafe: A five-course prix-fixe menu with music, balloons and champagne. Seatings at 6 and 9 p.m. $60; $15 for ages 9 and younger. Vito’s Café, 654 Highland Ave., Fort Thomas, Ky., RSVP to 859-442-9444.
New Year’s Eve at Go Bananas: Comedian Cy Amundson plus party favors, snack plates and a champagne toast. 7:30 and 10 p.m. $20 early show; $40 late show. Go Bananas, 8410 Market Place Lane, Montgomery, gobananascomedy.com.
New Year’s Eve at Igby’s: Dress in cocktail attire for music by DJ Ice Cold Tony. Advance-order bottle specials available: two bottles of Grey Goose and a bottle of Perrier Jouet Grand Brut champagne for $420; one bottle of Perrier Jouet Grand Brut for $65. 9 p.m.-2:30 a.m. $20. Igby’s, 122 E. Sixth St., Downtown, 513-246-4396, igbysbar.com.
New Year’s Eve Kids’ Countdown at Newport Aquarium: Q102’s Katie Walters takes over the Shark Ray Bay Theater for a kids’ celebration with music, dancing and giveaways plus a special appearance countdown by Scuba Santa at 5 p.m. Kids also get noisemakers and party hats to ring in the New Year. 3-5:30 p.m. Free with admission: $23 adults; $15 children; free two and younger. Newport Aquarium, 1 Levee Way, Newport on the Levee, Newport, Ky., newportaquarium.com.
New Year’s Eve at The Lackman: Drink specials including $5 Bulleit cocktails and $3 select bottle beers. Complimentary champagne toast at midnight. 8 p.m. Free. The Lackman, 1237 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, lackmanbar.com.
New Year’s Eve at Mayday: Great Gatsby-style party with live ’20s-era Jazz and a three-course dinner. Champagne pairings available. Dinner followed by the Koi Pound Annual Carnivolution with DJs, LED spinners and other carnival antics. 6 p.m. dinner; 9:30 p.m. Koi Pound party. $30 champagne dinner; $45 sparkling wine dinner. Mayday, 4227 Spring Grove Ave., Northside, RSVP to maydaynorthside.com.
New Year’s Eve at Mynt Martini: A balloon drop, complimentary hors d’oeuvres from 8-9 p.m., music by Davey C. and a champagne toast at midnight. 8 p.m. $25 advance; VIP packages $400-$2,500. Mynt Martini, 28 Fountain Square, Downtown, RSVP to 513-621-6968.
New Year’s Eve at the Newport Syndicate: Multiple party rooms with music by the Rusty Griswolds, multiple pianists and Q102’s DJ Mark McFadden. Champagne toast at midnight with dinner buffet and open bar. 8 p.m.-2 a.m. $75 piano package; $100 premium; $125 VIP; $150 Best Seat in the House. Newport Syndicate, 18 E. Fifth St., Newport, Ky., 859-491-8000, cincyticket.com.
New Year’s Eve at Obscura: Includes a four-course prix-fixe menu. Seating begins at 6 p.m.; 8 and 10 p.m. seating includes a cocktail or wine pairing for $99; 10 p.m. reservation includes a champagne toast. $75-$99. Obscura, 645 Walnut St., Downtown, RSVP to obscuracincinnati.com.
New Year’s Eve at Perfect North Slopes: Skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing open until 1 a.m. with party favors and a DJ in the lodge. Fireworks at midnight plus a torchlight parade down the slopes by ski instructors and ski patrol. 8 p.m.-1 a.m. Free (except for lift tickets). Perfect North Slopes, 19074 Perfect Lane, Lawrenceburg, Ind., perfectnorth.com.
New Year’s Eve at The Stand: VIP tables available. 8 p.m. Free. The Stand, 3195 Linwood Ave., Mount Lookout, 513-871-5006, thestandcincy.com.
New Year’s Eve at the Rail House: Enjoy a New Orleans-style masquerade ball with live music by the Robin Lacy & DeZydeco plus a three-course prix-fixe dinner package. Show off your best Mardi Gras mask and win a bottle of Perrier Jouet Grand Brut to use to toast the New Year. Reservation times for the NYE dinner package are every half hour between 7 and 9:30 p.m.; early-bird seating 4-6 p.m. $39.95 dinner. The Rail House, 40 Village Square, Glendale, RSVP to railhouse1854.com.
No Hassle New Year’s Eve with Cincinnati Sports League: Party favors, two free Budweisers, one American Honey cocktail, a champagne toast, macaroni and cheese buffet and a chance to win a cruise to the Bahamas. 9 p.m.-2:30 a.m. $25. Keystone Bar & Grill Hyde Park, 3384 Erie Ave., Hyde Park, RSVP to 513-321-2150.
NYE 2K14 Hosted by Grandmaster Flash: Includes a complimentary buffet and party favors plus packages for skip-the-line entrance, open bar, a meet-and-greet with Grandmaster Flash and more. Opening set by DJ Mike B of Animal Crackers. 8 p.m.-2:30 a.m. $75; $50 advance. PLAY, 35 E. Seventh St., Downtown, RSVP to 513-500-6923 or playcincy.com.
Pauly Shore at Boogie Nights: Ring in 2014 with comedian Pauly Shore at Hollywood Casino’s Boogie Nights nightclub. Shore will be mixing, mingling and emceeing the evening. 9 p.m.-3 a.m. $20; $35 per couple. Hollywood Casino, 777 Hollywood Blvd., Lawrenceburg, Ind., hollywoodindiana.com.
Red Wanting Blue: Celebrate New Year’s at the 20th Century Theater with music by Red Wanting Blue and Young Heirlooms. 9 p.m. $25 advance; $30 day-of; $40 VIP with access to a pre-show acoustic set, limited edition signed poster and meet-and-greet. 20th Century Theater, 3021 Madison Road, Oakley, 513-731-8000, the20thcenturytheatre.com.
Rumpke Mountain Boys’ New Year’s Eve Ball: Bluegrass band the Rumpke Mountain Boys host a New Year’s bash with New Old Cavalry and Flatland Harmony Experiment. 7 p.m. $25. The Thompson House, 24 E. Third St., Newport, Ky., 859-261-7469, thompsonhousenewport.com.
Silvestertanz: A German New Year’s Eve celebration with music by Alpen Echos, hors d’oeuvres, a sandwich buffet and dessert. Cash bar. 8 p.m.-1 a.m. $22. Donauschwaben Haus, 4290 Dry Ridge Road, Colerain Township, RSVP to 513-385-2098 or cincydonau.com.
Star Lanes NYE: New Year’s Eve packages for day and night, including complimentary food, drinks and bowling. Nighttime 21 packages include three hours of bowling, shoe rental, passed hors d’oeuvres, a champagne toast and four well-drink tickets. Daytime family-friendly packages available. 21 event starts at 9 p.m. $50. Star Lanes, 1 Levee Way, Newport on the Levee, Newport, Ky., RSVP 859-652-7252, starlaneslevee.com.
Stress Free New Year’s Eve: Music by DJ Simo. VIP tables available. 9 p.m.-2:30 a.m. Free. The Righteous Room, 641 Walnut St., Downtown, 513-381-4408, therighteousroom.com.
Track Bash New Year’s Eve Party: Turfway Park presents live horse racing, music by Doghouse and various packages including everything from buffet and party favors to a champagne toast. 5:30 p.m.-1 a.m. Packages $75-$150; free general admission. Turfway Park, 7500 Turfway Road, Florence, Ky., turfway.com.
Why? at The Comet: Locally based, internationally beloved Indie crew Why? will play its final show of 2013 at the intimate Comet in Northside. 10 p.m. Free. The Comet, 4579 Hamilton Ave., Northside, 513-541-8900, cometbar.com.
Wussy at the Northside Tavern: Wussy and Frontier Folk Nebraska close out 2013. 9 p.m. Free. Northside Tavern, 4163 Hamilton Ave., Northside, northsidetav.com.
Mike Breen just posted a schedule of events on the music blog, so I won't do that here, but the schedule goes something like this: Mark Mallory, The Breeders, speeches, Natalie Portman, The National. I know people are really excited about seeing The National and The Breeders, for free, on a lovely autumn evening. And I know people are really excited about Barack Obama.
But I'm really excited about Natalie Portman.Yes, Natalie Portman. At first I had to ask myself, why is she here? Is she just such an avid Obama supporter that she'll fly to random rallies? Did she have some sort of layover at CVG and had to get out of the airport Max & Erma's? Is she really bored? No. Maybe not. I did some Google research to get to the bottom of this conundrum and I learned that her mother, Shelley, is from Cincinnati. That makes more sense ... especially if Nat Port really likes The National, like most girls do. And we are a swing state.
Another thing that most girls like, besides croony sort of bands, is finding out what beautiful celebrities look like in real life. Sure, with the right lighting and hours of hair and makeup, anyone can look good. I mean you've seen those horrid photos of "celebrities without makeup" in gossip magazines. A majority of them look sub-par, to put it gently. And the paparazzi generally gets shots of these unmade women when they're about to take a bite of their salad or right after they ran like four miles, so that's to be taken into consideration, but still. Women like to compare themselves to other women. That's why that stupid "Celebrities are Just Like Us" thing is so popular in People or Us or whatever it's in. Madonna grocery shops? So do I!
But putting all that nonsense aside, Natalie Portman seems amazing, talented, smart and beautiful. She's a great actress who makes intelligent fashion choices and doesn't make a spectacle of herself. She has sassy hair and great skin. All in all, I take her very seriously as a normal person, which is a feeling I don't have about most celebrities. In general, I think celebrities are gawdy drunk drivers who spend too much money on sunglasses.
I'm looking forward to hearing what Natalie has to say. I feel like Queen Padme Amidala must have come this far to deliver a serious message to our people. And I'm looking forward to seeing what she's wearing. I also want to see how tall she is. I bet she's pretty adorable.
View photos of the event on Fountain Square here.
American Ska legends The Toasters perform a free show tonight at MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine. Showtime is 10 p.m. and — sorry, kids — you must be 21 or older to get in.
The band was one of the leading inspirations behind the "third-wave" Ska explosion of the ’90s, but the band actually began 30 years ago, influenced by the 2-Tone Ska movement in the U.K. The Toasters blend of NYC Rock and 2-Tone made them cult heroes in the Ska underground, as did the band's D.I.Y. approach; founding member (the sole one in the current lineup) Robert "Bucket" Hingley formed the influential Moon Ska Records in 1983 to release his own albums, as well as those by acts like Mustard Plug, The Slackers and Hepcat. The label's various compilations also gave a boost to up-and-coming, non-Moon acts like Less Than Jake and No Doubt.
Here's The Toasters' first music video, for the tune "Radiation Skank" off of the band's debut release, 1985's Recriminations EP (which was produced by British singer/songwriter Joe Jackson; he is to The Toasters what Elvis Costello was to The Specials).
And here is "Modern World America" off The Toasters' 2002 release, Enemy of the System.