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.
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.
Cincinnatians don't like their city to be pigeonholed. At least not in a manner they perceive to be off target.That's so Cincinnati.
BuzzFeed's "BuzzFeed Community" site helps the list-empire target specific cities and regions, resulting in one of the more shared links of the week, at least locally — "31 Ways to Tell You're From Cincinnati."
At first, many seemed to celebrate more attention for our fair city. Then they read the list. It has proven to be far more controversial than BuzzFeed's "11 Cincinnati Foods That Are Better Than Yours" from earlier this year, likely because that list actually reflected contemporary Cincinnati. As far as I know, all those "Cincinnati foods" still exist.
It was clear to many that the "community contributor" who wrote the piece either hadn't been to Cincinnati for a while or was simply parroting one of the Enquirer's old "Cincinnati is so crazy and distinct — we say 'Pop' and 'Please' " articles from the past.
As commenters immediately pointed out, BuzzFeed's list was great … for anyone taking a time machine back to Cincinnati circa 2001 or earlier. While the list was mildly accurate, it reinforced some old stereotypes, like "You will die if you step foot in Over-the-Rhine" and how we can't shut up about George Clooney's Cincinnati roots (he's not from Cincinnati, he's from Kentucky). Elsewhere, items like "You hung in there with Reds’ pitcher 'Cool Hand Leake' even after he was booked for shoplifting" suggest the writer found an old sports page from 2011. That was hardly a big deal when it happened; I would wager most but the die-hardest of Reds fans have forgotten it even occurred. And things like Cincinnatians saying "Please" instead of "What did you say?" or calling Coke and Pepsi "pop" are local quirks that seem to be dying a little more with each more-widely-connected-to-the-world generation.
But what does it matter what Cincinnatians think? BuzzFeed got their big hits surge from Cincy residents and ex-pats. All for something that appeared to take about 10 minutes to put together. "List bait" works.
Yesterday, the folks at the site Cincy Whimsy responded with an "answer list" (oh, if only rap feuds were solved this way). Their "31 Ways to Tell You're From Cincinnati List: An Improved Version" list rang a lot more true to a lot people. The first item set the tone, calling out BuzzFeed for not correctly spelling Servatii and Procter & Gamble. Check it out here.
Last week, the local web buzz was all about the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber's "hip" ad for "Cincinnati USA," featuring a dude in capri pants and sandals talking about how Cincinnatians "do what we love." Unlike people from Pittsburgh, who strictly do things that they hate?
The video was also widely shared and, though well-intentioned, widely mocked.
Enter local comedienne Kristen Lundberg (aka Mammyspanx), whose equally-giddy response video is pretty pitch perfect.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here are some awesome things other people will be doing tonight. It's OK to be jealous of them while you're sipping on Austi Spumante.
Residents of Sao Paulo and La Paz in South America rock out in bright red underwear while ringing in the new year. But only if they're seeking love. If it's cash you're after, yellow underwear are called for. Dollar, Dollar Bill, Y'all.
In Port Clinton, Ohio, they say screw Dick Clark and his ball. The residents gather in the square to watch a 600-pound fiberglass walleye fish descend from a crane. Now that's a party.
Someone called "itsjustmeagain" on a commenting section of yourcranberry.com puts a piece of bread and a dollar in a baggie outside their front door to ensure a steady supply of food and money in the new year. I think I'll put an iPhone ad and a Mercedes hood ornament in my baggie. And no, this tradition does not work for potheads, so leave your bong resin and pizza crust where it is.
To drive away the bad spirits from last year, men in a Scottish village swing huge fireballs made of tar and wire over their heads as they walk through town. You can try this on New Year's Day if you wake up beside someone you don't entirely remember. Nothing says "this was probably a mistake and you should go home" better than a balls of flames mixed with a big helping of crazy.
In Finland, people will melt tin with a blow torch and throw it into water. They then interpret the shape to predict what the next year will bring. Hearts and rings mean marriage. But if by some stroke of magic your lump of tin looks like a ship, you're in for trip, and a pig shape means you won't go hungry. I don't know what part of this is more crazy: trying to argue that your lump resembles a pig or playing with a blow torch and molten metal after a night of New Year's drinking. "Aww, Haliisteen dropped his tin in his Vodka, again." I'm imagining people going into work the next day with their hands bandaged from the burns. "What happened to your hand, Bjocken?" someone would ask. A slightly hung over Bjocken replies, "I'm getting MARRIED!"
Have a great New Year's Eve everyone. Check out the parties here.
So here it is, Friday night and I'm opting to stay in to write. Let's get retroactive.
Last night, Wednesday night, we visited Levi's and FADER magazine's FORT (don't ask me what it stands for) tent to watch B.O.B. and Little Boots. I don't know either of them but they were modestly entertaining. More than modestly entertaining was the free booze with zero lines. My initial thoughts, after waiting for 20 minutes to get our event passes (Pete, Mandy and Josh were all somehow on the guestlist. Me, just a plus-one), are that I have never seen so many hipsters, wannabes, rockers, douchebags and photojournalists ever in my entire life. In one place. Not even Williamsburg can really compete.
Last night after the snow started coming in really thick, I took my dog outside without his leash so we could walk around. I live on a big hill that basically shuts down anytime there's inclement weather. Salt trucks don't even bother with it. So at around 2 a.m. the street was covered with this layer of untouched snow and I filled a red keg cup with some wine and walked my dog up and down the street. It was really dreamy until some college kids, who do amazing and hilarious things in snow, came out with what appeared to be their corn hole set and tried to sled down my street using the wooden part as sleds.