Barack Obama set off metal detectors Friday on his way back into the White House. "I just wanted to see what it was like getting in here," Obama said. "I think I beeped a couple of times." Obama shook hands with the gatehouse guards and talked football as he set off the metal detectors. The guard told the president it was probably just his cellphone and then asked if he was going to put Aaron Rogers in his starting lineup for his fantasy team. Obama replied, “Oh, Jeff. You know I can’t tell you that. I will tell you, Rogers will throw 17 for 30 for 281 yards and two touchdowns.” But Obama declined to predict the future regarding the latest Republican tax cut bill.
Eighties mall girl-turned-pop star-turned-Playboy pin-up Tiffany swings through Hollywood Casino's Boogie Nights club Saturday!
Every time I visit other cities or countries I tend to notice how attractive people are compared to my hometown. If you go to New York City, yeah you are going to see movie stars and models, but the population in general always seems to be more attractive than any of the major cities in the Midwest.
I¹ve been celebrating Father's Day for well over 50 years now. In its earliest incarnations, I'm sure gifts and cards were bought on my behalf, but eventually it was time to take the reins and handle the responsibility myself.
For a long stretch, my go-to present for my father was the lastest Bill Cosby record, partly because he truly enjoyed Cosby's work, but mostly because I wanted to hear it, too. Some might look at that as a selfish act, but I prefer to look at it this way; it was something that we were able to bond over, and at least it wasn't an ugly tie he¹d pretend to like and never wear.
My relationship with my father has always been complicated. I'm sure he loved me, although it was many years before he actually voiced the sentiment. The problem was that my mother, who likely would have been the perfect bridge between us, died when I was not quite 4 years old. My father's grief and depression were all-consuming and because he was afraid his emotional state would degrade my own, he left me with my grandparents (my recently deceased mother's parents, which, considering their own overwhelming grief, was an interesting paradigm of its own) and moved 30 miles north, removing himself from everything that would remind him of her.
Thus began our 12-year routine. He would arrive on Saturday afternoon, pick me up, take me back up to his apartment for the night, then we'd hang out until Sunday evening, when he would return me to my grandparents. It never really mattered what we did, I just enjoyed being in his company. He had a sense of humor that ranged from cuttingly dry to wildly inappropriate, largely dependent on the amount of scotch in his system, but he was always good for a laugh. Until he wasn't, of course, but that's another story.
The defining characteristic of our relationship was its short term nature. He was my actual, hands-on father less than two days a week; sometimes our weekend consisted of going to his friends' parties and me hanging out with his friends' kids all night, then watching TV for a good part of Sunday while he nursed the next in a series of monolithic hangovers. But there were lots of movies and restaurants and plays and a couple of girlfriends and a couple of stepmothers and extended families.
Sundays in summer were mostly spent on golf courses as he tried to teach me the game. Sundays in winter were for watching football, sometimes skiing or ice skating. Fun is where you find it and we found it everywhere. My grandparents were of sturdy Methodist stock and involved me in church as much as possible, while my father was a card-carrying hedonist.
When I was 5 or 6, after we'd been doing the weekend trip for some time, my grandmother was concerned that I wasn't attending church on Sundays and asked Dad if he could find a church and start taking me. My father took a long drag on his unfiltered Camel, exhaled slowly and said, "Molly, if he can't find Jesus in five days with you, he's not going to find him in two days with me." That unassailable logic ended the church discussion.
I was maybe 12 or 13 before my father really talked about my mother to me. To this day, he finds it generally impossible. I've asked if I could tape him telling stories about her so that I'll have some concrete memories to draw on, as I don't remember a single thing about her, but it is beyond his capacity to bring it all out. Occasionally, he'll get expansive and let things go, but at this point I only see him twice a year so the information comes in fits and starts.
As long distance relationships go, my father and I had a pretty good one. And as it turned out, it was something of a blueprint for my relationship with my own son. Just before his second birthday, my troubled marriage finally crumbled and my wife informed me one night when she got home from work that she was moving and I was not. She moved into her new apartment with our son, and I moved back in with my grandparents for three weeks before I made the decision to move to Cincinnati to look for work. The relative stupidity of moving from Michigan, the state with the highest unemployment rate, to Ohio, which had the second highest unemployment rate, was not lost on me, but I didn't want to be impossibly far from my son. I wanted to be a presence in his life.
I found work within a couple of months and went home for my son's second birthday in April. I hadn't seen him since January, but I talked to him constantly, at least as much as you can communicate with a toddler on the phone. He was asleep at my grandparents' house when I rolled into town, and I wound up going out with friends that night, coming home at maybe 3 a.m.
When Josh woke up the next morning, my grandmother went to get him while I waited in the living room. She brought him downstairs and sat across the room with him on her lap. He rubbed his eyes and clung to her, looking at me like I was a stranger. She kept saying, "That's your daddy, that's your daddy," and he kept hiding his face in her neck.
I've never been shot in the chest, but I'm fairly certain I know how it feels.
After the longest four minutes of my life, his face slowly lit with recognition, his eyes brightened, he shouted, "Daddy!" and then climbed off my grandmother's lap and launched himself at me. I can still feel that endless, exuberant hug to this day.
The distance between us was 10 times greater than the 30 miles that separated my me and my father, so my trips were once a month, rather than once a week, but they were regular, and we both came to depend on them. I was determined to remain a father figure, not the once a month sugar daddy who shows up for an anything-goes weekend, and that was clearly the right strategy, given our excellent relationship both then and now.
We had a few bumpy patches along the way, including a stretch when he was 8 where he got a bit bored with the weekend trips; although my feelings were slightly bruised, I cut back to every other month for a couple of months until he realized how much he missed our regular time together. We maintained the monthly schedule until he was a teenager, when he started having an actual life with parties and school events and things he needed to work around. By then, I had my own issues; a full time design job, part time writing gigs and my first shot at being an honest-to-God full-time father with the arrival of my daughter, Isabelle.
Josh was absolutely ecstatic about his new sister (he actually snapped at his mother when she correctly but thoughtlessly used the term "half-sister"), and although their time together was fleeting, he was a doting big brother.
In 1998, Josh left to attend Reed College in Portland, Ore.; given his tenuous relationship with his mother, my favorite joke at the time was that he had gotten as far from her as he could without swimming. We talked by phone quite a lot those first few weeks and kept up a regular email exchange as well. It was one of those messages that forced me to question the state of our own relationship.
It was about two months into his first semester. Josh had emailed me with a rather non-descript account of his days — classes, roommates, school environment — but as I scrolled to the bottom of his message, there was this brief sign-off: "Oh, and there's this guy in one of my classes that I¹m interested in, and I think I might be bi."
It wasn't a complete surprise; Josh had two girlfriends in high school, but both were damaged in fairly significant ways (OK, one was batshit crazy), and I had wondered if maybe he was having trouble with his relationship radar. Turns out he was picking from the wrong gender pool, so it made sense.
The timing of his announcement was odd, though; a good friend had just died unexpectedly at the horrifyingly young age of 36, my boss had informed me that I was in danger of losing my position and my wife had mentioned casually that she wasn't sure if she wanted to be married anymore.
Josh's coming out was the best news I'd had all week.
My problem was with the way he chose to tell me. Not in a phone call where we could talk about what he was going through, and not in an email with an appropriately portentious subject line like, "I have something serious to discuss with you." His rather life-altering news was tacked onto a laundry list of activities like a pork barrel project attached to an unrelated bill.
I was a bit skinned that he had resorted to this kind of subterfuge to enlighten me about his sexuality. And then there was the issue of tentatively identifying himself as "bi." I was sure he had used that terminology in an effort to cushion any potential shock with a switch hitter gambit, giving him a fallback position in case I reacted badly. It reminded me of the episode of Friends when Phoebe lost her singing gig at the coffeeshop and wound up playing to kids at a local library. She started off trying to sing children's songs but she ran out of material quickly and started making up songs about life in general, and in typical Phoebe fashion, the songs were brutally honest, relatively inappropriate and, of course, exactly what kids should probably hear.
The one song that I remembered from that episode had some relevance in this situation: "Sometimes men love women. Sometimes men love men, And then there are bisexuals. Though some just say they're kidding themselves."
I didn't respond to Josh's email, partly because I was slightly hurt and partly because I was busy. The weekend after his message, he called and we talked about fairly innocuous subjects for an inordinate amount of time. I waited for him to broach the subject, because I felt as though he should, but he never brought it up.
He finally noted with a sigh that it was getting late and I knew he was ready to wrap up the call without addressing his news, so I decided it was up to me. Being my father's son, I chose the inappropriately direct method (my particular genetic curse is that I rarely require alcohol to be inappropriately direct and lack a distinct filter to avoid it).
"Oh, by the way," I said casually, "I understand you're sucking cock."
There was an extremely long pause and finally Josh said, "So you did get the message."
I gave him a loving earful about our close relationship and the trust and love and responsibility that came with that bond, and gently upbraided him for the rather cloaked method he had chosen to come out to me.
He stammered in complete agreement, saying, "I was afraid of how you would take it."
"Joshua, there are plenty of things in the world to be afraid of and I am not one of them," I said. "I may not agree with the things you do, but I will always love the boy doing them. In this case, this is who you are. It's not a choice you've made, it's a discovery. It's bloody hard to find love in this world, and you've taken a first step toward finding it for yourself. That's fantastic. My only advice to you is the same, straight or gay; be careful. Sex these days can kill you. Wherever you poke it, wrap it up.
"I just had to bury a friend," I continued. "If you make me bury a son, I swear to God I'll dig you up and kill you again."
He laughed a most relieved laugh and that was that. He was out. He pursued a couple of different relationships with guys at Reed which didn't pan out. After two and a half years, he returned to Michigan to enroll in the forensic psychology program at Michigan State, where he met Sean. They've been together for over 10 years now. We love him like a son-in-law because, even though they can't make it official, that is what he is to us.
These memories and God knows how many more come around each Father's Day, a good many including my grandfather, who was as much, if not more, of a father than my own father. I'll get a wonderfully skewed card from my sons and dinner and a card and something sweet from my wife and daughter. I'll send a funny card and a golf-related book to my dad and call him on Sunday, just before I get a call myself.
Life may be complicated sometimes, and God knows the complexities of family relationships can be like putting together a jigsaw puzzle of the White Album cover, and yet there's a fairly basic — and rewarding and maddening and beautiful — simplicity in being a father and having a father.
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.
Last week I randomly found myself bending over and examining my crotchal region from behind in the bathroom mirror. Well, and my sphincter region, if we’re being honest. This newfangled vaginal narcissism was all spawned from a recent conversation with my good friend Leroy over drinks at NST, where most ridiculousness o’ this ilk begins.
Dodgeball: the gentleman's ball game. It seems like this sports fad would have died out after people got sick of quoting movie lines from Dodgeball, but it didn't. Probably because people still quote that movie, and because people take dodgeball very seriously.
Every Tuesday from 10 p.m. to midnight a bunch of dudes in basketball shorts get together and throw balls at each other at the Raymond D. Sheakley Lawn at UC. According to the group's Web site dodgemyballs.net, "Anyone and everyone is welcome to join - no one will be turned away ... unless you're a cheating little bitch." A "cheating little bitch" would be anyone who doesn't follow the strict honor code of dodgeball, which is, "If you get hit by a thrown ball, guess what - YOU'RE FUCKING OUT. Even if you get hit on your hangnail on your pinky, you're out." If you're a girl, you can play, but judging from my brief experience the guys either a) throw balls at you really hard or b) never throw balls at you. It depends. Either way, it's a big group of people getting together to talk shit and throw stuff.
There were about 40 people playing last night and a handful of spectators. Go to the entertaining Web site for a recap of the last match, rules and regulations, bios about each of the balls and it looks like they're putting photos up (which will no doubt be of a much better quality than mine). I have shitty camera and I'm really afraid of getting hit...
This Sunday, the Golden Globes (aka the one show where TV and movie stars mingle while drunk) will be hosted by women for the first time ever! OK, the show has only had an official host since 2010, but it’s been Ricky Gervais every year since. This time around, dynamic duo Tina Fey and Amy Poehler run the show. The pair have a long history, back to their improv days at Second City in the ‘90s. Over the past decade+ they’ve proven their comedic chemistry on Saturday Night Live and in Baby Mama, but they’re also awesome in their respective rights, as seen on 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation. Check out some of my unlikely-but-hopeful Golden Globes picks here.
The Chinese calendar may deem 2013 the Year of the Snake, but according to my diva calendar, this is definitely the Year of Beyonce. The musical maven, who just celebrated baby Blue Ivy’s first birthday with hubby and baby daddy Jay-Z, is set to sing the national anthem at President Obama’s inauguration Jan. 21. Next, she’ll fly down to New Orleans to headline the Super Bowl halftime show on Feb. 3. Bey is rumored to perform with a reunited Destiny’s Child (FINALLY) and the Hov. Just two weeks later, HBO will premiere Queen B’s full-length documentary on Feb. 16. The Bey-directed doc touts a personal, never-before-seen look at “Beyonce the person” (there’s no way she’s 100% human, but whatever) as opposed to Sasha Fierce the performer. A few things I’m really hoping to see: Jay-Z changing Blue’s Egyptian cotton diaper; Beyonce eating actual solid food; a baby bump shot to put those pesky rumors to rest; at least 13 different hairstyles/weaves.
The Walking Dead returns to AMC for the second half of Season Three on Feb. 10. We’ll pick up with the new Woodbury/prison storylines introduced in early December’s mid-season finale. Fan fave Daryl has been captured by the Governor, who places him in the demented fighting arena against his brother Merle (who was pretty much presumed dead by the group after leaving a trail of blood and sawed-off hand behind in Season One). Loyalties will certainly be tested when the Dixon bros meet for the first time and, according to this sneak peak, the Woodbury clan wants them to battle to the death. Back at the prison, Rick questions his leadership role and Tyreese (a character plucked from the comics) will step up as the group’s token black guy. On the other side of the camera, showrunner Glen Mazzara, who took over for Frank Darabont after a rather sluggish second season, will be stepping down. Some speculate the move may be due to a lackluster second half of this season, but Mazzara, AMC and comic creator/exec producer Robert Kirkman all claim the departure is on good terms. We’ll see for ourselves next month; meanwhile, check out this preview:
At first glance, Game of Thrones did not seem like my small screen cop o’ tea. I generally don’t read or watch anything too fantastical/mythical (but bring on the zombies and True Blood), plus the number of characters and settings almost make fictional family trees and note-taking a must. Regardless of TV preferences, though, GoT is an addictive epic. And on March 31, fans will return to Westeros for a third, slightly super-sized season. See, in the past, episodes were generally just more than 50 minutes long. This season promises several eps as long as 57 minutes, ultimately adding up to almost a whole extra episode. Way too nerdy and nitpicky? Well, that’s Thrones for you. But another fun addition to this season is that fans can now drink along with the show as New York’s Brewery Ommegang releases a series of Game of Thrones beer. The first, Iron Throne Blonde Ale, is set to debut in time for the season premiere.
And speaking of TV show beer tie-ins, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia will also get its own brew with Aleman and Two Brothers Brewing Co.’s Dayman Coffee IPA, also slated to come out this March. Let’s just hope the gang hasn’t touched the stuff.
And since you can’t even read the word “Dayman” without singing:
Moving along to May, you better scratch those Star Wars Day and Cinco de Mayo plans. Cult hit Arrested Development is coming back with a new season, to be released on Netflix in its entirety on May 4. Of course, everyone is happy to have a little more Tobias Fünke in their lives, but this is a huge, possibly telling move for television in general. Plenty of failed shows gain a following after their demise on TV, but rarely do these shows actually get picked up again, and certainly not 7 years after cancellation. My only fear is super-fans’ high expectations will be hard to meet in just a single season. 'Til the release, catch up on the series and look out for these Easter eggs.
After being pushed from its original Christmas 2012 premiere date, Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby will hit theaters May 10. The director is known for his visually exciting films, such at Romeo + Juliet (which starred Gatsby himself, Leonardo DiCaprio) and Moulin Rouge, and likes to blend contemporary music and themes in with those of the films’ eras. For example, in the following trailer, Kanye West's “No Church in the Wild” juxtaposes the 1922 setting.
If that's not enough for ya, stay tuned for more 2013 pop culture previews for summer and fall.