Something fucking awesome happened in Cincinnati on July's Final Friday. A dude with a card table, some DJ stuff and a microphone (two turntables and a microphone, even) incited a random dance party with over 100 people around 1212 Main Street in Over-the-Rhine.
Music was pumping, and people flocked to it. I have never witnessed such an amassing of complete strangers and intimate friends. Plaid-clad hipsters were cutting loose with older, baggy-shirted locals. Drunk people who had tumbled out of bars were sweating out all the alcohol they had just paid for to Kool and the Gang. Everyone was incredibly, stupidly happy.
There was no reason for it. No social networking was involved. Nobody knew about it through a text or because they were Tweeted at or received a Facebook invite. It wasn’t sponsored by Final Friday, and it wasn’t even planned. DJ Alcatone, the awesome instigator, shrugged his shoulders when I asked him (over the Funk blaring out from two speakers), why he was playing music on a street corner in OTR. He said he just was. And people were just dancing.
There were three guys dancing in the middle of the damn street, stopping cars to gyrate in front of them. One was dancing intensely, and then he paused and directed traffic around other dancers. An SUV pulled up and four dudes sat on the edge of the car windows, took their shirts off, and held their arms in the air.
An entire two-block span of Main Street was filled with sweaty, writhing people. DJ Alcatone started a soul train in the middle of the crowd. There was a break-dancing competition, and seriously, who knew old people could get down like that? One guy did that thing where he contorted his whole body in the air, resting solely on his hand on the ground. (Yoga has not prepared me to attempt this.)
Cell phones crowded in the air, everyone snapping pictures of the “something” that was happening right in front of them. Cops drove by and didn’t stop. The opposite side of the street was crowded with overflow dancers. A girl with an “I’m the bachelorette!” sash across her torso sashayed in front of cars, darting back and forth between the two sides. There was even a man with a broken leg in a wheelchair. Seriously. He was spinning on his wheels, grooving to the music.
It was like someone had pressed pause on every social, racial and economic stricture and preconception, and hit “play” for uninhibited, good-spirited, uplifting interaction. It was so simple, and no one stopped to think about it. No one stopped to consider “what it meant,” or why it was happening, or how it could be better. Honestly, it couldn’t have been better.
The police were called about two hours in, and were actually smiling when they told everyone the party had to end. That was probably the best time to have the party end — before everyone remembered themselves, the faces we all put on for the everyday world, the way we conduct ourselves around people we want to impress. No one was trying to impress anyone. Even the bad dancers (there were a few) were applauded. It was the fact that everyone involved stepped outside of themselves, without any catalyst or promise of reward, and for two hours, we just were.
Feather hair extensions are one of the trendiest fashion accessories right now (I say this knowing that Cincy's always a little behind the times on all things stylish). Celebrities from Ke$ha to Steven Tyler to Roseanne Barr have been rockin' the look, which may sound like a deterrent, but now these birdy little weaves are everywhere. Even on dogs.
It was Sunday night and television options resembled that of The Banks project for the past 10 years — barren and dull. I was clearly in need of some entertainment. So, like 7,389* other people in the area, I tuned into Fox 19's premiere of Queen City.
I was hooked as soon as the intro song came on — excited to see what shenanigans the four “queens,” Adhrucia, Lauren, Tracey and Katie, would encounter in this local take on the Real Housewives series.
Luckily I didn’t hold my breath for too long.
The Cincinnati Health Department recently released a list of the most popular baby names of 2010. We live in Cincinnati, so there's enough average people to balance out all the Braidans and Jakilynns (read: smooshing two names together or purposely misspelling a name isn't being creative, folks) which means there aren't any big surprises on this list. It just means that in 2020, fourth grade classes everywhere will have Ava S., Ava B. and Ava M. instead of Ashley R., Ashley T. and Ashley O. like when I was a kid.
Besides being mildly interesting, what's the point of a list like this? To point out the least creative parents in the city? To give really dumb preggo people a basis for naming their offspring? Either way, If you're walking around and you hear a little human crying, its name is probably…
The most popular name for baby boys in Cincinnati was a pretty classic one. If names dictate a person's life, these little dudes will grow up to have giant teeth, front a really shitty Hip Hop group or be a general badass sax player:
Or, if that screaming spawn is wearing pink...
Olivia, the #1 baby girl name in Cincinnati, is alright. According to my research (15 seconds on Google), there are a lot of hot hoes by the name, but Olivia Newton John (pre-scary face) is the best of them all. Hopefully these babies will take after her, with a penchant for headbands and first words being "Xanadu."
On their own, the second place names appear to be perfectly normal. Who could have anything mean to say about...
JACOB AND ISABELLA
That's right, fucking Twilight. I can only assume that the increasing amount of teen moms out there are contributing to this fuckery (Thanks a lot, MTV!). There once was a time when I heard the name Jacob and immediately thought of the most perfect man of my John Hughes-inspired dreams...
Isabella is a cute name, too. It has the potential of many 'breves. Izzy. Ella. Sabel? I don't know, but when little Isabella and tiny Jacob have their first kiss on the playground, "Twihards" around the world will feel a sense of glorious satisfaction that I just can't deal with.
The rest of the names are pretty uninteresting, so here's a quick list complete with what people (myself and Google) will probably associate with them:
Obviously because the nearby Creation Museum is building a to-scale (WHAT SCALE?) ark
Would still be cool if it wasn't on this list
Boring interior design
My arch-enemy. Stereotypes are hilarious!
All about the Benjamin...Buttons
Holly Madison, Dolly Madison - They're both full of fake stuff, but probably preserved for all of time.
Go here to read more boring names.
Go here to read part one.
Somehow Saturday morning Jeff and I woke up bright and early. Flavor Flav must have sprinkled some magic dust on us the night before, because we weren't our usual hungover pieces of shit, writhing under covers 'til noon. For this special occasion, we headed to the famous Loveless Motel & Cafe (8400, Tennessee 100, Bellevue), a comfort food mecca and Nashville landmark. Hundreds of country musicians and otherwise famous humans hung their hats here when it was a hotel and have stopped in for grub since it's been a restaurant (seriously, there are countless autographed head shots covering every square inch of the walls).
I opted out of typing music listings and attending sociology class Friday in favor of checking out the conference taking place on the University of Cincinnati’s campus: Pop Praxis: Social Justice & the Media. With discussion topics like, “Disco Stick: Lady Gaga and the Phallus” and a keynote speech from Bitch Magazine’s own Andi Zeisler, I was stoked for an enlightening day of stimulating pop culture discussion.
The conference was the result of a collection of papers, presentations and workshops submitted by speakers ranging from undergrads to professors to alumni from a number of universities. Submissions were required to regard "pop culture as it relates to feminism, race, disability or queer theory, class, consumption, and all forms of political activism or cultural production."
It was an honor for the university to welcome Andi Zeisler, co-founder and editorial/creative director of Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture. She wasted no time launching into a pointed discussion about the importance of feminism today, despite the general public’s tendency to assume that the movement is past and irrelevant.
“Any media needs to make money,” Zeisler pointed out, “and the quickest and surest way to do that is to sell out women.”
In short, while addressing the frustrating roadblocks today’s feminist advocates face, Zeisler commended technology and blogging as new ways to comment on the media and bring important issues to public attention, keeping intelligent discussion going that might not have been able to take place before.
Zeisler said Bitch’s goal is to help people think about pop culture in a more critical way, so it makes sense that the speakers in the sessions that followed did exactly that.
While the main event was arguably Zeisler's speech, the presentations and workshops were fun and eye opening.
During the first session, Sarah Mitchell called out Winnie of The Wonder Years for her textbooks that attempt to make math “sexy” for middle school girls in “Postfeminist Math Barbie: Danica McKellar’s Provocative Education Advocacy.” Lee Serbin also pointed out the shaky, back-and-forth stance Tina Fey’s character holds between feminism and postfeminism in 30 Rock during her discussion, “30 Rock and Feminism in Flux.”
Some women in the media, however, aren’t so bad to look up to. One presenter discussed how Lady Gaga rocked the phallus on the cover of Q Magazine as a response to the public’s accusation that she’s packing a package. While still technically enforcing the belief that a penis equates power, her gender-bending humor puts sexists in their place.
A strong argument was also made for Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Admittedly, she was skinny and blonde, but more importantly, she overcame that image to kick vampire ass. The slayer was decidedly deemed a pretty solid female role model for something popularized by mainstream television.
Feminism wasn’t the only topic of the day, however. One student discussed Batman as an extreme representation of hypermasculinity who tends to equate violence with being a man. That, and maybe steroid use after all the bulk the superhero’s acquired over the years.
During the same session, another speaker addressed the somewhat androgynous image of the emo kid. This speaker deserves props for researching something so fickle in the world of teenage cliques. She concluded that, while the emo subculture allows for somewhat of a break from that Batman-inspired masculinity, only the white boys of suburbia seem to make up this social group.
While it was impossible for me to make it to each presentation, at the end of the day, the message was clear: People need to be careful about what they consume.
There are no clear answers. Watching a Lady Gaga video over 30 Rock isn’t necessarily going to be more empowering, and children who prefer Batman to Chris Carrabba aren’t doomed to a life of violence. The important thing Pop Praxis stressed is that the discussion remains open and that we, as responsible consumers of popular culture, keep a critical eye on it.
Cincinnati's Guerrilla Queer Bar is about to turn one! That means they're celebrating one whole year of transforming popular straight bars (e.g, Cadillac Ranch, the Pavilion) into a flashmob of "queer dance-love-heaven" for one night, the first Friday of the month.
Despite the fact that three businesses have called it quits in Northside in the past month or so (Ali’s Boutique, Shoe-topia and the Northside Art Gallery), two ladies are trying their hand at opening something. Aileen McGrath and Chris Salley are celebrating the opening of their new gallery/boutique/supply store, Fabricate, tonight with an exhibition of Salley’s small, self-portrait paintings and music by PROJECTMILL (along with hors d’oeuvres and beverages).
Danny Cross wrote a To Do pick about the party here. And I e-mailed some questions to McGrath and Salley to learn more about their vision for the gallery/shop. See their answers below:
CityBeat: What is the name of your gallery?
CB: What does the name mean?
F: It means “to make by art or skill and labor; construct.” We’d kinda been butting heads on a name that we both liked and we’d both had that same word on our lists to describe the kinds of things we are going to be doing in there. We liked that it describes working with hard things, like metal or wood, and soft things, like textiles. It also means: “to devise or invent something.”
CB: Do you have a mission statement?
F: A store and gallery hybrid where artists, crafters and designers can be inspired, supplied and showcased.
CB: Who is responsible for the gallery? What did you two do before this?
F: We both are equally responsible for everything. We will both pick what art will show each month and work to constantly be filling the store with consigner’s merchandise. We will also both be working in the store. We will still continue to work our other jobs as well. (Chris as a Program Manager for Girl Scouts of Western Ohio and Aileen as a bartender at Northside Tavern.)
CB: There aren’t generally many galleries in Northside, save for Feralmade, which is now Raymond Thunder-Sky, inc. and Prairie. How do you think the neighborhood will respond to your presence?
F: We’ve already gotten a really positive response. We both know a lot of people in Northside and Cincinnati and it seems like everyone is coming out for the opening. We are kinda intimated actually with how many people have said they are coming. … We think the community will embrace it. There isn’t anything like what we are doing in Northside already. Everyone we talk to is really fired up to have an art show in there and create other things to sell as well.
CB: With the recent closing of businesses like shoe-topia and Ali’s Boutique, how are you two planning to ensure your vitality?
F: Bribery via pie! But seriously, this is our passion project and we both have other incomes, so we are not sweating every dollar even though it is going to be tight. We are able to experiment because we have stability elsewhere. There will be new art exhibits once a month and a lot of our friends are creative people who make amazing things, but don’t have a place to display/sell them except for online, so we are providing them that space. We will have unique items, locally made, that you can’t find anywhere else.
CB: What else will be there besides artworks?
F: Ultimately, all sorts of handmade goods from local indie crafters: art prints, scarves, jewelry, cards, stationary, accessories, pillows, curtains, unique artist T-shirt lines and eventually bigger creations like furniture and lighting. Anything that we think is interesting and would be cool to sell. We will also have art and craft supply as well. All of this we will be building up as we go. It’s gonna start-up small and then grow from there as we acquire more merchandise and, therefore, the funds to stock more art supply.
CB: What are your plans for the future? How do you envision the gallery six months from now?
F: Haha! Hopefully we’ll not still be paying rent out o’ pocket. It’s gonna be a slow build, but we are comfortable with that. We hope the creative community sees us as a resource and an outlet, as well as a great place to see new art once a month along with the other new things that their peers create. And hopefully in turn that inspires them to keep creating more things to display and sell there.
CB: What can gallery-goers expect to see in your inaugural exhibit?
F: Chris’ paintings. The space in general. Us jumping up and down when we make out first dollar…aaaannnnnd probably making sure it’s being documented via various photographic devices. Potable beverages. Their friends! The beginnings of the boutique and us communicating with future consigners about their work. Suggestion box for art supplies to stock. High fives! My mom. Snackage generously supplied to us via Hideaway, Take the Cake and cookies from the now imfamous Mikey B!
CB: You say you enter through Red Polly. HOW? Where is the gallery?
F: We are 4012 Hamiliton Ave. in Northside, but you will enter through 4016 Hamilton Ave. You will come through Red Polly’s front door, we share the same entrance. Walk to the room on the right. Two of the walls in our space will always be dedicated to artwork that will stay up all month.
CB: Tell me bout the party.
F: Fabricate’s grand opening will be on Friday, with the inaugural art show 4 x 6 x 100: an exhibition of Chris’ paintings. What started out as sketches for larger works turned into a series of one hundred 4 x 6 paintings that are self-portrait snapshots of everyday emotions, split-second ideas and random documentation of the images that reside in her brain. There will potable beverages, hors d’oeuvres and entertainment provided by the DJ’s of PROJECTMILL, creators of award winning DANCE_MF. This is your first chance to get a glimpse of the location that will house once-a-month art exhibits and shows, preview the beginnings of the boutique and meet/talk with the owners about consigning your own handiwork in the future. It’s gonna be a lot fun and will hopefully get everyone ramped up for future exhibitions we plan on having each month accompanied by different DJ’s and bands.