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's Final Friday! The best day of the month for sauntering through Over-the-Rhine, perusing local art and sipping on some vino. One of many gallery openings takes place at the Art Academy of Cincinnati from 5-8 p.m. In Context is a thesis exhibition for art teachers working towards their Masters of Arts in Art Education.
Pork-themed festivals are plentiful in Cincinnati, but this weekend marks the first ever Queen City Sausage Festival. Friday-Sunday, head down to Newport on the Levee to fill your belly with brats, metts, coneys and more creative sausagey combinations. To ensure a great time for all, Hudepohl and Christian Moerlein will be serving up brewskies and there will be live music, games and kids activities. Go here for festival hours and more info.
Looking for a fest with a little more history behind it? Schutzenfest is "Zinzinnati's" oldest festival, celebrating all things German since 1866. Enjoy different types of authentic German music and performances at the Kolping Center Friday-Sunday. Don't miss the opening parade and the crowning of King and Queen Sunday afternoon. For directions and a full event schedule, go here.
This weekend's Cincinnati Boutique Sale brings every fashion-savvy gal's favorite independent shops together under one roof - the space formerly occupied by Anthropologie at Rookwood Commons, to be exact. For a suggested donation of $5 (benefiting the Karen Wellington Foundation for living with breast cancer), you can browse clothing, shoes and accessories from top local boutiques such as Soho, The Wardrobe, Sara Benjamin's and more. Go here for all the details.
Laughter is good for you. The act of laughing can lower blood pressure, make your body more resilient and even work muscles in your face and abs. So say goodbye to that double-chin and beer belly with the help of comedian Steve White, who performs at Funny Bone on the Levee through Sunday. You may recognize White from several Spike Lee films, '90s television gold (Martin, Hangin' with Mr. Cooper, need I go on?) or comedy clubs across America. Check out our interview with him here.
How about a little roadtrip? The Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus is an engaging space that celebrates visual art, music, performance art, film and everything in between. Open Saturday and Sunday during the summer, the space's galleries are currently showing three sexually-charged multimedia exhibits. Read all about them here and make the trip soon - these exhibits end July 31. In addition, Wexner's Contemporary Screen series continues Friday and Saturday night. This series promises area and regional premieres, international film festival favorites and all kinds of flicks you certainly won't find at Showcase Cinemas. This weekend you can check out The Arbor, based on the life and autobiographical writings of the late British playwright Andrea Dunbar. Be sure to check out the Wexner Center Store because, well, museum gift shops are always sweet as hell. Go here for directions, hours and ticket info.
At Sunday's OTR Pool Party, you can enjoy all the fun of dumpster diving minus the empty pizza boxes and risk of hepatitis. Back in 2009, hipsters in Brooklyn gained attention by turning unused trash receptacles into little watering holes and it wasn't that gross because the dumpsters were cleaned, sealed and covered with pool liners. And although Cincinnati's always behind the times, we're finally catching on to the trend. With a $50 donation to Chris Seelbach's City Council campaign, you can get your swim on, enjoy free grilled grub and an open bar, get framed by the fabulous photoboothers at Framester and dance to tunes spun by the almost-too-sexy Diamonn Gurr. It's sure to be one of the biggest parties of the summer, so go here for all the deets and here to register and donate early so you can skip the line Sunday.
This is just a taste of all there is to do! Go here for all of our weekly recommendations.
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.
I like to think of myself as a pretty normal person, perfectly capable of interacting with a variety of other humans. I watch bad television and sometimes shop at Wal-Mart, yet I enjoy ethnic food and DIY projects. MFin' renaissance woman. But sometimes, despite a breadth of interests and activities, I cannot deal with people. Enter the Cincinnati Zoo.
This Sunday, instead of burying my head under a pillow until 1 p.m., the boyfriend and I decided to pay a visit to the yearly Zoo Babies attraction. The weather was sunny and warm, and neither of us were hungover - a perfect and rare opportunity to look at little animals.
Nearly anyone can enjoy a trip to the zoo, but I know very well that this type of attraction is particularly appealing to little humans - children. And sometimes children don't know how to walk yet or their biological walking timers shut off and they need assistance, i.e. strollers. I know they're necessary, but some of these devices are more comparable to a slightly smaller Prius. Of course, you have to let kids cut in front of your or you're a total bitch. But, god damnit, I paid $14 to be here and I want to see the manatees, too.
So what are you supposed to do? Wait patiently for the throng of toddlers to peep new baby giraffe, Zuri and then try your damnedest to see past their gooey fingerprints smudging the glass window once it's your turn.
Strollers suck (though they're much more obtrusive at packed festivals - watch out for those bad boys this weekend at The Taste!), but Sunday I found a worse alternative that I thought only existed as a joke in the '90s - baby leashes. I witnessed countless seemingly behaved youngsters strapped in a fuzzy, cuddly, stuffed-animal themed LEASH. How lazy of a parent do you have to be to think the best way to prevent your kid from jumping into the polar bear cave is to attach them to a harness?
However, it's another issue if you're hypoglycemic and hyperactive. A hyper-hypo.
You better believe I gave a big old side-eye to each of these parents. For the love of god, go back to the tricked out, view-obstructing, toe-crushing stroller! Anything is better than a child leash.
Thankfully, dedicated individuals have devoted their time to stop this injustice.
Of course, there's another group of humans that left me mimicking the gorillas:
The I-don't-give-a-fuck crew.
So we're in the Jungle Trails, a peaceful, shaded area with plenty of space and lots of cool creatures. I'm just trying to get a good view of a zebra when I hear a stern, "Excuse me. There is no smoking anywhere in the zoo." Now, this dude was kind of dickish, gettin' up in somebody's bidness while wiping his kid from head to toe with sanitizer. But, holy shit, some bitch was actually smoking a cig by the animals! She quickly extinguished her smoke (possibly into the animal sanctuary - I was trying not to stare) with a raspy "Sah-ree." With that, it was time to escape to the air-conditioned nocturnal animal space.
It was pretty dark and kind of hard to see these critters (hello, nocturnal!) and one particularly grimy child next to me began smacking the window next to me.
"Wake up! Where is it?" he shouted, as a little partner in crime joined him in glass-banging. Half-concerned for the adorable lemur on the other side, half-worried someone might mistake these shit heads as my own offspring, I used my best waitress voice and said, "Hey guys, we shouldn't tap on the glass, OK?" and pointed to the dozens of signs suggesting the same. They continued.
We made our way back outside, to see my most anticipated animals, the bonobos. These apes share 98.7% of DNA with humans and are completely capable of learning many people things, like understanding English and using American Sign Language. (Side note: I'm half-way through Water for Elephants author's latest novel Ape House, in which bonobos play a huge role. It's a great read.) They're sweet.
Once again, I found myself behind a bunch of kids who probably can't pronounce bonobo and probably won't remember seeing them, but I kept my patient pants on. Until grimy kid #1 resurfaced…on the other side of a rope barrier, pounding on the gate. Sure enough, the brat belonged to cig lady who, at this point was enjoying (her fifth?) draft beer.
"C'mon, stop it. You're not supposed to be there," she yawned.
"I wanna see if he'll attack me! I wanna see if he'll attack me!"
This continued for a few minutes. I felt my mouth drop and I turned around to see I wasn't the only one in awe. Anyone who makes me feel like I'd be a competent mother has some serious issues. Maybe child leashes are appropriate in certain situations.
I guess I didn't really learn how to better cope with people, but I did discover this: animals are way cooler than humans, and their babies are cuter.
Deciding which route to take in disciplining children is surely a tough decision. The closest thing I have to spawn is a gang of pets, and they don't know "sit" from "shut the hell up," so I guess training a little human would be even harder.
Today, it seems two extreme concepts of discipline stand out (usually while I'm shopping at a seedy Kroger location): the pulling-the-kid-by-the-arm-while-yelling-at-and-occasionally-spanking-them-onlooking-shoppers-be-damned or the children-deserve-freedom-and-isn't-he-adorable-shit-momma-needs-a-break. Surely, there's a happy medium between publicly berating your 4-year-old and falling into a dopey gaze as you let the kid scale shelves in aisle 6B. Thankfully, that's where Potty Mouth Soap comes in!
Made locally in Maineville, Ohio, creators of Potty Mouth Soap promise effective use of their product will help "nip the lip." The press release, sent to myself at CityBeat's office, is quite well-written, featuring enough alliteration to make Carrie Bradshaw squeal:
"Sick of the sass? Tired of the talking back?…Potty Mouth Soap is an all-natural, safe way to help discipline your kids. What's more, it's fun and effective." Fun? Just tell that to Ralphie.
It was...soap POISONING!
Not sure if it's effective, but hilariously (?) enough, there is a link to this video on Potty Mouth Soap's homepage:
The release continues:
"It's made with all-natural, non-toxic ingredients including coconut oil, palm oil and purified water. So when your little darling dares to sass you can feel completely safe when placing Potty Mouth Soap at the edge of their mouth. And that yucky taste will help nip the lip that you're so fed up with."
I know what you're thinking. "My kids are the worst when we're in public, but how can I keep a bar of soap in my purse?" Potty Mouth Soap gotchu.
Enter Potty Mouth Spray. This portable "Cinnamint" mouth spray if perfect for Krogering. The website warns, "Don't leave home without it!"
On the "How to Use Potty Mouth Soap" tab are four YouTube videos above the text that's printed on the press release. One would think these would be how-to videos on soaping your kids, or examples of children who need to be soaped. The videos include one of a baby "biting" (but really placing her toothless mouth upon) a dog, the infamous "David After the Dentist" and "Charlie Bit Me."
Now in Auto-Tune form
Now, it kind of seems like the soap method might just teach kids to shove gross things in people's mouths when they say something they don't like, but I'm no parent. I guess I've come across some 9-year-olds who might deserve to get soaped, but a freaking baby? They don't even know how to make words yet! And seriously, no person should ever be accountable for what they say when high, after the dentist or otherwise.
"Gotta teach 'em young," you say? "This is probably better than the belt method." Well, bars and spray are $3-$5 a pop and include a sticker reward chart for positive behavior.
No gold star for you!
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.
Drop those pickles and ice cream, ladies! Becoming Mom Spa in Mason is looking for the hottest pregnant gut in the Tristate for its Beautiful Belly Contest.
Knocked up chicks are encouraged to send in a photo of their lovely lady lumps, which will be displayed on the spa's Facebook page for public voting. Because that doesn't sound like it could go horrifyingly wrong.
For every vote on the photos, Becoming Mom will donate $1 to the March of Dimes. Prizes for top-voted bellies include gift certificates to The Polo Grille, Buy Buy Baby, Radiant Hair Removal (which you should probably think about before you submit a photo...) and other businesses. Becoming Mom will also crown Most Creative Belly Shot, Belly Shot that Best Represents the Journey to Motherhood and Most Beautiful Belly with $100 a pop.
Before MomsLikeMe.com hijacks this shit, I want to be clear. Being pregnant is totally cool (as long as you aren't a white trash idiot who learned the hard way that a pregnancy pact doesn't come with an MTV contract). I mean, you and a dude made a person! Holy shit, that's like one of the coolest things humans can do. And it's particularly special for women, because they get to let the thing simmer in 'em, pop it out and then feed it with milk their own bodies produce. That's hella eco-friendly. Pregnant women even look cool most of the time.
Terrifying other times.
Motherhood should totally be celebrated. I don't think a pregnant woman needs to hide her belly under a tent dress by any means, but do you really have to go to Sears, strip down and get a portrait of yourself covering up your boobs and vag like you're some kind of bloated Venus? No amount of retouching in Photoshop is going to make you feel like you look like Demi.
Not pictured: a normal pregnant person
But I know what you're thinking. You're going the tasteful route: planning on the denim/white oxford ensemble?
What a unique idea!
And let's think about who's truly affected by a contest like this: the little tadpole inside. How's Junior gonna feel when he finds out mom whored him out on Facebook before he was even born? All this for a couple bones and some Greater's gift cards. It's bad enough you picked the kid's name off a Web site, then tweaked it to end with "-ayden."
But if you disagree, send your belly shot to firstname.lastname@example.org by April 22. Winners will be announced on - wait for it - Mothers Day. Aw!
This is the caliber of photo Becoming Mom is looking for, so, preggy ladies, take note:
Mariah Carey continues to set the bar high:
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.