It’s 6:30 a.m. Friday morning. I find myself staring into my reflection at the Econo Lodge’s employees-only lobby bathroom watching blood pour from my nose and drip all over the sink, diffusing into the water and I ask myself, “How did I get here?” Looking to the floor I admire still more of my blood, peppered across the white tile. I feel scandalous.
On March 15, DHL announced that $47 million would be invested in a new facility at its CVG hub. This new sorting facility will help meet international customer demands and add close to 300 jobs over the next 12 months. The date given for the facility to be operational is Nov. 2012.
DHL has been thriving compared to the downward spiral that is Delta. DHL has gone from 1,600 jobs to 2,000 in the span of three years and has invested around $105 million in the Cincinnati location since it was established in 2009. Not everything that happens at CVG is bad.
During my two years as a baggage handler I experienced a little bit of everything. From holding on to the wing of a plane to keep in from tipping during a wind storm, to seeing a drunk little person getting taken off a plane in handcuffs, to destroying a few bags. There is more to an airport than what passengers see in the concourses. Have you ever wondered where that guy in the orange vest was going when he disappeared behind a door? Ever thought about how your bag was being handled? Well, hopefully with a few of these stories those questions and more can be answered.
During my time as a baggage handler, I saw some incredible things. At the same time, there were weird events that took place. These would occur like lightning; they happened quickly and would never strike the same place twice.
One of those events is about a worker stealing. He wasn’t stealing from the company, but stealing from passengers’ bags, more specifically, female passengers’ bags. As baggage handlers, we would load the bags up into the cargo bins of aircraft. These bins were only big enough for one person, and at times that one person would be in the bin for extended periods of time. Normal workers would write random sayings on the bin walls, or play a game on their phone, but this guy did something different.
When he was up in the cargo bin, he would go through the bags until he found women’s panties — clean or dirty. To show the high caliber of intelligence some of the people at the airport had, he kept all the underwear in his locker at work. There was no attempt to hide anything in his car or house; the underwear was in a bag in the break room. I’m not one to call someone stupid, but he deserves it for this one.
Did he get caught? Hell yes, he got caught. When our supervisors went through his locker, sure enough, there was the underwear. His explanation of it is comical on its own. “It’s for my girlfriend.” His girlfriend, if he had one, fluctuated in weight a lot because the underwear was different sizes. This doesn’t reflect on every baggage handler but it shows there are some strange people touching your bags.
The job of a baggage handler is a dirty one. I came in contact with bags full of unwashed clothes, shook hands with people who don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom and cleaned out the restrooms. Ever wondered who cleans out the lavatory on an aircraft? Well, at CVG, that job falls to the baggage handlers. This task is worthy enough for Mike Rowe and then some.
When an aircraft needed to have its bathroom dumped, a handler would drive up next to the plane in the "lav cart." Imagine a blue electric cart that has never been washed, excrement has been spilled on it, it has a tank full of shit and the sun has been cooking its contents all day. I felt like I should have been wearing a Hazmat suit whenever I was around the damn thing. It made me throw up a little every time I was in the driver’s seat.
When a baggage handler dumps a lav, he or she drives the cart up to the aircraft, hooks up the foulest smelling hose to the aircraft and pulls a lever. What comes out, I’ll leave for the imagination. Once all the lovely contents are inside the cart, the “blue juice” is added, which is the liquid solution that you see when flushing an aircraft toilet.
Some handlers would dump a lav, not wash their hands and then go straight to loading bags. A person fresh from coming in close contact with human goodness would go right on touching, quite possibly, your possessions.
In the movie Fight Club the narrator tells of a policy about holding a passenger’s bag if it is vibrating. At CVG I never once saw a bag being taken because it was vibrating. What we did do was either slam the bag on the ground in hopes of shutting off the razor or toothbrush — not the smartest idea if it really was an explosive. Another way we handled a vibrating bag was to call the passenger down to the ramp where we would proceed to open it to find the cause of the vibration. If you have seen Fight Club you know what is coming next. Sometimes the bag would belong to a female passenger. When her bag would be opened a certain product would be rattling around on the inside. That happened to me once and while the passenger was red-faced, I had to walk away before I began to laugh in her face. Movies can teach you something every now and then.
There is a side to an airport that most people don’t know about. Sure, there are those zoo-like windows in the concourses that allow passengers to see outside, but that is just a glimpse. Does everyone want to know about what goes on behind those doors? Probably not. I’m not trying to scare people away from flying. In a way, an airport is similar to a restaurant. Taken at face value everything is great and everyone has a smile on their face, but behind closed doors disgusting, depraved and weird things are going on.
Living with the Amish is a documentary-style show originally aired on UK's Channel 4 in 2011. In that first season, six British teenagers (three boys, three girls) flew across the pond to live with Amish families in Ohio and Pennsylvania. This time, producers have teamed up with A&E for an all-American version.
"Having spent the last three years working with the Amish we have found them to have great wisdom and compassion in the difficult task of raising a family and this is something we will focus on in the new American series. We are therefore looking for families that feel they could learn something from the Amish lifestyle and way of parenting. For example, a single mother struggling to maintain discipline and authority in her household, or parents worried that their teenage son might be at risk of making poor life choices, or a daughter rebelling against her parents' authority. We hope that the time with the Amish will open their eyes to a different way of thinking and will be a positive and enriching experience for all those involved."
My friend Charlie texted me this morning to ask if I had baseball pants and a jersey (a wooden bat would be great too, he said). Assuming he was throwing together a Halloween costume, I replied: "Of course i do. u can get it tonite. :)"
Charlie said thanks and that he'd come by during the evening. And then he said this: "Write something good about Cincinnati today!"
I laughed to myself because that's not really my thing. I talk mass shit about Cincinnati all the time. I am nearly impossible to hang out with at a Reds game because I spend the entire time I'm not in the $7 beer line complaining about advertisements, stadium architecture, Fort Washington Way, The Banks Project, Cincinnati's misguided re-urbanization techniques, the weather, the Reds' front office and my dad. I'm no fun.
But then I started wondering, "Why does Charlie have such a good attitude? What does that fucker have going on these days that's making him feel content enough to appreciate Cincinnati?"
Charlie and I have known each other since high school, when our JV soccer team kicked the asses of most surrounding schools' young backup players. We've spent a lot of time at college parties and local bars, with recreational sporting events mixed in on the weekends. We were both injured during the past year because we're starting to become old and frail. One time we were going to kiss each other for $40, and Charlie said he'd have done it for $20.
Some time during the day (I think it was right after Jason Gargano, Kevin Osborne and I cornered Maija Zummo just to make her feel uncomfortable), I began to realize why Charlie has such a good attitude: He just spent half a year in South Korea. And this isn't to knock the "Land of the Morning Calm," it's more of a recognition that when people leave Cincinnati they totally miss it.
I've been back in Cincinnati for two years after spending two years in Oregon (where the micro brews flow like the Willamette River). Oregon is great, and people there are intrigued by people from weird places like Cincinnati. But when I returned home after finishing graduate school - broke with no job and twice the student loan debt I left with - I was happy. All the jackasses that I grew up with and met during college were here doing the same stuff we did before I left. They had new jobs and had finished their degrees and changed their facial hair, but they were here and we enjoyed things just like we always had.
Many of us feel stuck here at times, and if our financial or professional situations don't allow us to get the hell out for a minute and observe a better functioning society, we start to hate Cincinnati and ourselves for setting up shop here. There will never be bike lanes throughout the city or functional public transit or efficient recycling or expanded social services. At least not until the Baby Boomer population thins out and our children grow up and help us change things.
But until then Cincinnati is what it is, and leaving for a while allows you to see only the good, and in some ways you even start to forgive the bad. Charlie was in South Korea, presumably drinking on the streets, singing karaoke, dressing funny and enjoying the intricacies of another culture. And in doing so he was also taking the Cincinnati show on the road, offering a glimpse into the persona of someone who grew up in a strange place but knew there was more out there than what his parents had or his hometown offered.
But until Charlie or
you or I break into or rise up through a creative industry (or the
stock market goes back to relying on goods being sold rather than how
likely goods are to be sold), we're going to be living in Cincinnati, and it's
not really that bad. It's actually kind of good.
Don’t have a date for Valentine’s Day? Pissed off about all the publicity that corporate media give Sarah Palin? Mad that shows like Extreme Makeover: Home Edition still are on TV? Just bored?
No matter the reason for your frustration, you can release some of that energy by attending “Cincinnati’s Largest Snowball Fight!,” planned for Sunday afternoon, Feb. 14.
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.
Here are some words by CityBeat Music Editor Mike Breen about Willie’s life and legendary status, which he says transcends music. (“Nelson isn't a Country music icon — he's an American music icon.”)
So it’s kind of weird sometimes to think about Willie Nelson being tight with people like Toby Keith — a decidedly uncool guy who writes songs about the U.S. military putting a boot in anyone’s ass who messes with America and opens cheesy Country music-themed restaurants around the country.
But for every terrorist that Keith convinced via threat of violence not to attack America, there are many people who have enjoyed a song that Keith co-wrote about participating in Willie Nelson’s favorite pastime: smoking the weedus.
It turns out that Toby
Keith can be self-depreciating and kind of likable (if you can
somehow keep the image of this goatee out of your mind while you
listen to the song). So here it is, in honor
of Willie’s 79th, “I’ll Never Smoke Weed With Willie Again”
by Toby Keith and Scott Emerick.
Did you know there's such a thing as National Etiquette Week? And that it's happening right fucking now?
Of course there is. This is America, motherfuckers.
Well, while the rest of the country is practicing their table manners and shit, we in Ohio apparently don't give a damn, according to a recent study conducted by Seattle-based Marchex Institute.
The bitches at Marchex apparently listened in on 600,000 calls placed from consumers to businesses across 30 different industries, and found that out of all 50 states, Ohioans are most likely to go AWOL on the phone.
Washington state was the least likely to curse. They swore about every 300 conversations; we dropped expletives about every 150 exchanges.
According to the findings, Washingtonians were also 800 times more likely to be afraid of caterpillars and use only anti-bacterial soap, while Ohioans were 46 times more likely to crush beer cans with their hands or eat store-bought apples before they even washed them.
We're guessing Washingtonians probably say things like, "Bejabbers!" or "Criminy!" when shit goes wrong. And that's just fuckin' lame.
Oh, and guys, don't forget — tomorrow is National Sea Monkey Day.
So this hasn't officially happened to me yet, but my mom's best friend from high school joined when he became single again and he tells her what my status updates are. BTW my mom doesn't really know what "status update" means. She doesn't even understand what Facebook is.
All of your high school friends are back in town and everyone wants to get drunk before they have to hang out with their families all day tomorrow. Here's a list of some bar events going on around town. I'm sure any bar will be fun tonight and you're probably only going to go to your bar, but it's fun to think about what you could but won't be doing.