Thursday, July 31, 2008

Steak with Black Beans, Hot Salsa, Sour Cream, and Cheese

Yes, most of Cincinnati is talking about the news that Ken Griffey, Jr. has been traded to the White Sox.

Whatever. I like watching him play, but it's not going to have an impact on my life. Or yours.

The bigger news of the day--the exciting news, the news that made me giggle with glee as soon as I read it--is about two of my favorite places: Fountain Square and Chipotle. And now they're going to be together. At last. I feel like the first person to taste peanut butter and chocolate together in the same bite. Can you imagine: sitting on the Square, eating a Chipotle burrito on a glorious spring day?

There are those who hate the encroachment by national chains into downtown. I wish I had comforting words of wisdom for them. I don't. I like Chipotle, and I'm not ashamed of it. I'm glad they're coming downtown. Now I can get a burrito, follow it up with a Graeter's ice cream cone, and wash it all down with a beer from Rock Bottom.

I might never leave downtown again . . .

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Monday, July 28, 2008

A Week After

I posted a snarky dig at The Morning After blog from CityBeat. After a week of reading the rest of the blog, I need to give the blog props. It is a huge positive to see young people out having fun in Cincinnati. I hope they fight the urge to stay where they know, and instead branch out and see the rest of the city. People don't explore enough. Take the lead and just try something you know little about.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Open Thread: VP Predictions

With just a few weeks until the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, I wanted to provide everyone with an opportunity to predict the vice presidential candidates. If you're right, you'll then be able to have some concrete record of having been right, rather than just having to rely on your friends' memories. My own predictions:

For Obama: It's a little bit of a dark horse pick, but I really believe it's going to be Kathleen Sebelius, the governor of Kansas. That choice might be attractive to Obama for several reasons. First, her gender (female) may win over some of the PUMA's. Second, it puts someone on the ticket with executive experience who still doesn't overshadow Obama. Finally, her genealogical ties to Ohio (her father is fomer Governor John Gilligan) may win him some votes in the Buckeye State.

For McCain: I freely admit I haven't given much thought to this question. But as much as McCain likes to consider himself a maverick, I think he makes a traditional choice: a governor from a Southern state. My pick is Charlie Crist of Florida, with Bobby Jindal of Louisiana being a strong contender.

Oh, shoot, I forgot to use the one word that makes sure we gets lots of comments here. So let me rephrase the question: If you were able to get on a streetcar and meet the vice presidential picks of Obama and McCain, who do you think they'd be?

Fountain Square Magic

Last night, something pretty special happened on Fountain Square: two of the nicest people you'd ever want to meet became engaged to be married, all while being watched by people they knew, and some bemused onlookers who were no doubt surprised by the mini-drama.

Both the groom-to-be (the GTB) and the bride-to-be (the BTB) are friends of mine. I'm leaving their names off the post, so they can tell their friends and colleagues who weren't lucky enough to be on the Square Saturday night in their own time and in their own way. I've known the BTB for several years. She's one of the nicest (yep, said it again!), most intelligent, hardest-working people I've ever known. I've not known the GTB for nearly as long. But along with the BTB's other friends, I was happy for her when she got involved with the GTB--finally, a man who is worthy of her.

About a week ago, the GTB sent out an email to the couple's friends, informing us of his intention to propose. He invited us to sneak into Rock Bottom Brewery ahead of time (with warnings to be on-time, lest his subterfuge be foiled). He put together a video montage of their life as a couple, which concluded with his proposal, that was played on the Jumbotron. The camera operator then, in real time ("live") , zoomed in on the couple, as their body language made clear that the BTB had happily accepted. (We had snuck out of Rock Bottom to the far eastern edge of the Square, where we were able to watch without the BTB seeing us.) Both the GTB's and the BTB's families were present, as well. Most of the women present teared up.

It was a really nice moment on Fountain Square, and hopefully was a little bit of fun even for those who were just enjoying their weekend and had no idea what was about to unfold. And the men in the gathering were nice enough not to beat the snot out of the GTB, who has now raised the bar way too high for the rest of us single guys. (How do you top that? Get a marching band to spell out a proposal at half-time of the OSU-Michigan game?)

This certainly can't be the first wedding proposal in the history of Fountain Square, but does anyone know: is this the first time the Jumbotron has been used for that purpose?

And it's another sign of how much a part of Cincinnati's life, culture, and community the "new" Fountain square has become.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Do the Math

Another great addition for the Know Theatre arrives in their production of the National tour of Calculus: The Musical! The addition of Sadie Bowman as Education Coordinator for the Know is a good move. I don't know if that will bring her to Cincinnati full time or part time, but it will be great way to pump up the Know educational programs.

Friday, July 25, 2008

1st Annual Cincy Blogger Convention

A big thank you go out the folks at the Mercantile Library for hosting the Blogger Convention last night. It was a nice casual event were people got to put names/urls to faces.

I look forward to a repeat event next year. I think it would be great next year to have more of a discussion or activity that might spawn more focused learning about the best practices for blogging or for discussion as where blogging is going.

I was happy to meet several bloggers I've not met before and it was great catching up with friends.

For those where were there, would you say there are any overall traits you could perceive about those in attendance? Is there something that makes people become bloggers?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Will This Translate to Locals?

It was wonderful to read about the recption Cincinnati police received from the NAACP convention. Will this be repeated by local Cincinnati residents? Will it depend on where you live or what you look like?

We have not heard much about the state of CPD community relations for a long time. I don't know if that means the police are making progress in relating to the public or if there are other reasons. I am sure the police still have detractors, but they are getting as much attention. Articles like this will not fuel confrontations.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Cincinnati's Blogosphere

Soapbox digs into the rich blog landscape in Cincinnati. Yea, you can read about me and see my picture, so don't complain here if you don't like it! Ha!

It is a nice article that gives a good base background on blogging in Cincinnati. It is, however, only one pass at the huge list of local bloggers. Many more blogs, most of which you can see on my blog roll to the left, speak to a great many ideas and topics. Are there other local blogs out there people have read and think should have been mentioned on Soapbox or be included on my blogroll?

Monday, July 21, 2008

A Great Downtown Video

Soapbox Cincinnati has produced a great video of Summer in Downtown Cincinnati.

A Trolley?

So, who in the anti-public transportation camp is going to come out and oppose this idea being considered by the City of Wyoming in Western Hamilton County? This wouldn't be considered a Green part of town, with the GOP holding a firm grip on Wyoming City Council, just in case someone wants to be "blame" this intelligent idea on the Liberals.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sunday Sundae Battle

Brian's post below reminds me that I've been meaning to ask our intrepid readers the following question for some time:

Which ice cream is better, Aglamesis or Graeter's, and why?

This is, of course, one of the most important and divisive questions facing the Queen City.

I'll post my own opinion in the comments.

Iris Book Cafe Opening on Main Street

Last Weekend those who hit Second Sunday on Main were treated to preview of the Iris Book Cafe slated to open by this month's Final Friday. This wonderfully redone space at 1331 Main Street has a front and back room and courtyard out back. Offerings will include Coffee Emporium Coffee, Aglamesis Ice Cream, a lunch menu, a small amount of vinyl for the hardcore music buffs, and ton of great books. Hours I was told will be 7 AM to 11 PM! With Kaldi's closing, the evening hours should do gang busters with the coffehouse crowd. This is a traditional coffeehouse, so without the bar the vibe will not have the edge of Kaldi's.

Who Knew???

Did anyone else in the world know that young adults graduate from college (UC) and then get work out of town? I just assumed that everyone who went to college here stays in town. I mean, isn't Oxford's population something like 200,000 people by now?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

MidPoint Showcase Artists Announced

CityBeat's Spill It has a big updated on who is playing MidPoint this year.

The national acts confirmed so far are:

Robert Pollard and the Boston Spaceships
The Purrs
Backyard Tire Fire
The Swimmers
Oh My God

The showcase list is also here.

Some local bands not on the list that are surprising: Wussy, Lion's Rampant, White Girls, Eat Sugar, Pomegranates, Straw Boss, and the Star Devils - what gives? Are these bands opting out of MidPoint?

Friday, July 18, 2008


Wow, I really would be so 'proud' of a downtown that you could put into the microwave and woosh! there it is, read to it. Who in this world values a home cooked meal anymore?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Broke As A Joke, But It Ain't Funny

The Hamilton County Commissioners have ordered all departments to cut their budgets by six percent for the last five months of the year. According to the Enquirer, Sheriff Simon Leis says he'll comply, but it's clear that he'll make sure we all notice:

Effective August 1, there will be less room in the Hamilton County jail, fewer deputies patrolling county communities and no one manning metal detectors at the courthouse or other county buildings.

Based on the comments linked to the article (I'm still not sure why it's a good idea for a newspaper--as opposed to a blog--to permit reader comments), a lot of people think Leis is whining, bluffing, or both.

I don't think he is.

We've already noticed one conspicuously absent guard in the Justice Center. For those of you who haven't been there, it's comprised of two buildings, connected to each other by a covered bridge at the second floor level. One of the buildings is connected to the courthouse by a covered bridge, as well. Typically, a deputy sits in a control room outside the secured areas of each of the buildings. Until this week. That's when Sheriff Leis eliminated the schedule for the deputy assigned to sit in the control room in the "South" building. So to visit inmates in the South building, attorneys (or probations officers, medical professionals, clergy, etc.) must now go to the North building, check in with the control room there, ride to the second floor, walk across the tunnel to the South building, and then take the South elevator to their final destination. This includes people trying to see inmates in the holding cells on the first floor of the South building, behind the courtrooms where defendants make their initial appearances.

I can't believe that Sheriff Leis is happy about this change. Visitors are all issued badges that show where they're headed. So if someone wanders away from the area to which their access is approved, it's always been easy for the corrections officers to tell at a glance. Now, though, the CO's will have to deal with people walking through the North building even though they have no business there--because it's the only way to get to the South building. The situation has to raise grave security concerns.

I've been interested by my own reaction to the announced elimination of metal detector coverage in the courthouse. I've always had a distaste for the increased security in government buildings over the past fifteen years, and have felt it unfair to have to subject one's self to a search as a condition of entry. But I'll admit: I'm unnerved by the thought of everyone entering the courthouse without passing through security. Lots of emotionally volatile things take place in our courtrooms every day. Once security is gone, lots of us will fear that an overwrought crime victim or family member will show up in a courtroom ready to exact his or her own form of justice.

The county is broke, folks. The question isn't whether it is, or whether to cut the budget. It's not even how we got here. (HamCo Republican Boss Triantafilou has decided to blame the Democrats. Apparently, he's forgotten that it's his Republican President's failed policies that have put our economy (and thus county revenues) into a death spiral, and Republican Bob Bedinghaus who was largely responsible for the terrible stadium deal.)

Now, we have to ask ourselves some real questions about revenue. How do we get more of it? How do we raise enough to provide at least a bare minimum of government services? I'm not sure anyone has the answer.

Flannery Attacked by Extremists

I don't think anyone would be surprised to find out that Mary Kuhl would try to stick it to CPS Board Member Michael Flannery over an email he sent regarding development in Westwood.

Does Westwood Concern (Mary Kuhl's micro-jingoistic organization bent on ridding Westwood of non-Aryans) oppose development everywhere, including in Westwood? Are jobs bad? Does opening a Bed & Breakfast attract the poor blacks too much for their taste?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Something Inside Of That Man Is Broken

With Sunday's column, Peter Bronson has finally jumped the shark. He's gone from merely being a conservative who often misses the point to revealing himself to be a man who displays a total lack of human empathy and whose venom towards people who he can't--or won't--understand is worthy of our condemnation.

Apparently, Bronson spent a few hours following Lou Strigari, the Hamilton County Public Defender, while Mr. Strigari handled felony arraignments for his office's incarcerated clients. Bronson's conclusion? Take a look:
Contrary to what you hear from people who talk a lot about injustice, these guys belong behind bars and they know it.

Keep in mind that Bronson is writing here about pretrial detainees--that is, individuals whose guilt has not yet been established. Moreover, I'm not sure which inmates Bronson talked to, but certainly not any of my clients. I've yet to sit down in the Justice Center or Queensgate (or any other jail, for that matter) and have a client say to me, "Mr. Caster, thanks for coming, but you know what? I belong in here." Instead, my clients--even the ones who acknowledge their guilt--are worried about how to take of their families, about how to change their lives so they're not back in the justice system again after they finish paying for the mistake they've just made, or about that their future will look like if they have to serve time in prison.

What makes Bronson's judgment particularly reprehensible is that he was around inmates and corrections officers long enough to find out that some of the people he met need help. Again, from Bronson's own poison pen:

The jails would be nearly empty without mental illness and drugs. The guards agree that two-thirds of the prisoners have mental health issues, and 75 percent arrive under the influence of something.

(Emphasis mine.) I'm not sure if those numbers are really accurate (they're obviously anecdotal and rough estimates). But for Bronson to write that "these guys belong behind bars" while at the same time acknowledging that the majority of them suffer from mental health issues seems beyond comprehension. Is that what "compassionate conservativism" is about? Incarcerating people who need treatment? I don't understand how to reconcile those two excerpts from Bronson's piece.

This is a difficult week for attorneys who provide indigent defense in Hamilton County. Everyone involved knew that the system wasn't perfect. But reading the National Legal Aid & Defenders Association's hundred-plus page assessment of the provision of legal services here and how much it differs from a lot of places around the country makes me want to go back to bed, pull up the covers, and not come out until the system is fixed. (I certainly don't agree with each of NLADA's findings and recommendations, but overall, they get more right than they get wrong. And remember: the report isn't done by a bunch of nosy outsiders who should have minded their own business; the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners requested and paid for this assessment.) But as tough as it is to read the NLADA's report, it's even harder to read Bronson's hatred of all things--and people--that aren't suburban and just like him.

Griff: sorry about this. I know it's your job to beat on Bronson, but I couldn't hold back on this one.

Obama a Hit on the Square

For the thousands that were on Fountain Square to see Barak Obama speak to the NAACP Convention it was an electric event. I have never been on the square with a bigger crowd, so if you have pictures from above, please post them on line and share the links.

The most entertaining part of the event was hear the WLWT announcers astonishment at how big of a crowd was on Fountain Square for the speech. They thought maybe a few hundred would show up. Instead it was a few thousand.

John McCain speaks tomorrow and I will be surprised if he gets this type of crowd, especially since he is speaking in the morning vs. the evening.

I was greatly impressed with the speech. It wasn't full of a lot of details, which needs to change when he gets to the Democratic Convention. The way the crowd was really interested in what he said was refreshing. People far too often seem uninterested.

As I walked to the Square last night, I was confident that Obama would carry Hamilton County. Afterwards, I am certain Obama will carry Hamilton County.

Chime in if you were there.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Summer Reading

I know that Jack is our resident book reviewer, but I thought I'd commend two books (that couldn't be more different) for your summer reading needs:

1. Kafka Comes To America: Fighting for Justice in the War On Terror. This book is written by Steven Wax, a Federal Public Defender charged with representing some of those who have been held by the United States at Guantanamo Bay. He also represented Brandon Mayfield, the Oregon lawyer who was falsely accused of participating in the Madrid train bombings in 2004. It's a terrific insider's account of the process of defending accused terrorists. One of the details in the books that particularly surprised me: lawyers were permitted to bring food to their clients in Gitmo.

2. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. This is the debut novel of David Wroblewski that has taken up residence on the bestsellers' list for the last several weeks. The bulk of reviews will tell you that the novel evokes Hamlet and White Fang. But I also sense (though I'm far from a literary critic) the influences of Catcher in the Rye and John Steinbeck. It's a terrific story, wonderfully told, that you won't be able to put down until you're through. The last week, I literally haven't been able to wait to finish up at the office to get back home to the book. It's a must-read for anyone who loves either dogs or good stories or both.

Ted Strickland: Meet Clarence Gideon

Today's Enquirer summarizes a report just released by the National Legal Aid and Defender Association on the Hamilton County Public Defender's Office.

Full disclosure: I have not read the full report and cannot find it on the internet, so I take the Enquirer's summary as accurate. Further, a significant portion of my own law practice is devoted to indigent defense as an attorney contracted by the Public Defender to defend both felony and misdemeanor cases. So I operate in this area from a huge conflict of interest, which I both recognize and now disclose.

I'm not going to comment on the bulk of the allegations (at least one of which I find outright unbelievable) or NLADA's recommendations. But one thing is clear from both the report and the comments by those quoted in the article: the State of Ohio needs to step up to the plate with funds to guarantee that indigent defendants receive effective assistance of counsel. I'd hoped that once a Democrat took up residency in the Governor's Mansion we might see some real leadership on this issue, but so far, there's been nothing but silence from Ted Strickland.

This year marked the forty-fifth anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision in Gideon v. Wainwright, which held that the right-to-counsel clause of the Sixth Amendment required the states to provide counsel to those who could not afford to retain an attorney. (It had long been established that the federal government was required to do so in federal criminal cases, but Gideon was the first time the Court recognized that the Fourteenth Amendment incorporated (that is, made applicable to the states) the protections of the Sixth Amendment.) It's clear that nearly a half-century later, we still have much work to do to protect those in our society who are most vulnerable to the loss of their liberty or life at the hands of the State.

A few months after the decision, then-Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy had this to say about Gideon:

If an obscure Florida convict named Clarence Earl Gideon had not sat down in prison with a pencil and paper to write a letter to the Supreme Court, and if the Supreme Court had not taken the trouble to look for merit in that one crude petition among all the bundles of mail it must receive every day, the vast machinery of American law would have gone on functioning undisturbed.

But Gideon did write that letter. The Court did look into his case and he was retried with the help of a competent defense counsel, found not guilty, and released from prison after two years of punishment for a crime he did not commit, and the whole course of American legal history has been changed.

The report of NLADA's assessment is in sharp juxtaposition to this article, also in today's Enquirer, which reports that Ohio's machinery of death is once again churning.

A final note: nothing in this post should be read to impugn the individual attorneys who toil at the Hamilton County Public Defender's Office, or at any other Public Defender's office in Ohio. The attorneys who work there are eager, bright, talented individuals (most of whom could practice in the private sector for far greater pay and far fewer headaches) who are tirelessly devoted to passionately advocating for their clients with too little salary, too few resources, and not nearly enough support. But we need to start thinking about whether--and if so, how--our Public Defender's Office differs from those held out as models of indigent defense, such as the Cook County (Illinois) and District of Columbia public defenders' offices. The answer starts with adequately funding the office charged with safeguarding the liberty of the people of this county.

Warm Up The Moving Trucks

Since moving to my Fourth Street apartment in September 2004, I've had a front row seat to a couple of impressive construction projects. My apartment is in the back of the building, which gave my a bird's eye view of the expansion of the Cinergy--err, Duke Energy--Convention Center. One of the coolest things about that was that during the fall, they'd work past dark, and the glow of their welding torches (I don't know if they were plasma or something else) after sunset was spectacular to see. It's hard to describe....just the solitary, brilliant glow a few stories above street level (and often at eye-level with my windows)....eerily wonderful, somehow.

Now, Parker Flats, right across the street, is in its final construction stages. I thought it was worth a picture today:

Obviously, there's still a lot of interior work to be done before the place is inhabitable. Still, it's hard to believe that last summer, this was just a big hole in the ground.

We've already seen the benefits of the expansion of the Duke Energy Center (the unexpanded version simply couldn't have handled events like the NAACP convention or the upcoming National Baptist Convention). Parker Flats is sure to bring more residents downtown and further helps to revitalize the western end of Fourth Street. Seems like things are looking up. I just hope no one steals my catalytic converter.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Watch Obama's NAACP Speech on the Square

Come on out and join local Democrats and Obama supporters to watch Senator Obama's NAACP live on the Fountain Square Giant LED Board. Obama is scheduled to speak at 8PM Monday night (July 14th). Large groups of local political campaigns will be there to watch, along with the local Obama campaign team.

Fountain Square will be a great national news location to get opinion on the speech, so be on the lookout for the media and be sure to show your support for Sen. Obama and show that he has great support in Cincinnati. Obama is going to win Hamilton County this year!

Friday, July 11, 2008

A Good Idea: Let's Do More Of It

The City and County have been sprucing up downtown in preparation for the NAACP's national convention. If you've been downtown, you've no doubt noticed these stickers, about the size of manhole covers, on the sidewalks:

I've previously lamented the lack of readily available cartographical assistance for visitors downtown. These stickers are a clear sign that our leadership recognizes that problem, too.

Let's find a permanent solution. If we're going to continue to proclaim that Cincinnati should be a destination city, then we have to act like we expect to entertain people who haven't been to our fair city before. And helping them find their way around seems like a good start.
(I really, really hope that whomever is responsible for the stickers--whether it's the City, the County, or the Visitors Bureau--remembers to remove them once the convention is over. Since they're paper, they won't last long, and by mid-August they'll be faded, scratched-up eyesores.)

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

COAST Shows Its Anti-Gay Bigotry

In it's latest news letter the Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST) included the following:
Commissioners Portune, Pepper Proclaim Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Day

In yet a further waste of County resources, Commissioners Todd Portune and David Pepper proclaimed Saturday, June 14, 2008, as Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Day. COAST is just bursting with pride at this proclamation on behalf of our County. We are sure Simon Leis is also proud of his endorsed County Commission candidate. Read about the resolution here.
Yes, you'll want to pay attention to the link, which is to the CCV's website. I hate to link to it, but that is news I want to make sure people understand, COAST and CCV appear to be in bed together. To claim that this somehow wastes county money is laughable. These types of proclamations are common and cost virtually nothing. Where was COAST in 2002 when the Commissioners proclaimed May 2, 2002 National Day of Prayer in Hamilton County, Ohio.?

What's more important, however, is that the CCV article is full of bigotry. Will all COAST members stand by this bigotry? Will groups and individuals who work with COAST stand by them?

A Lesson in Media Bias

In this story you get a slanted spin on the situation. If you reordered the quotes and changed it around, you could have a totally different story. The headline could have read "Departure of Sheriff Deputies has not increased crime in OTR" I'd like someone at the Enquirer state who pushed this story and how much was it edited to fit a point of view?

Monday, July 07, 2008

What Do They Have That We Don't Have?

There's an interesting piece in the NY Times's travel section on Pittsburgh. It's worth a quick read.

I realize that as Cincinnatians, it's our sworn duty to hate all things black-and-gold. But I've always thought that Pittsburgh is a good point of comparison for Cincinnati. We're nearly identical with respect to population. Our weather and geography are very similar (Pittsburgh's is a little more challenging, since the rivers actually cut through the city). Both cities' residents are extremely neighborhood oriented. And our baseball teams play to approximately equal levels of futility (though more turn out to see the Reds).

The Times piece describes a pretty vibrant city. My question: could a similar piece be written about Cincinnati? And if not, then why not: what does Pittsburgh have that we don't have?

For what it's worth, the most significant difference I see between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh is the latter's Oakland area. It's a concentration of the city's colleges (chiefly, Pitt and Carnegie Mellon, but also Duquesne and some smaller schools). There's no equivalent in Cincinnati (though I'm not arguing that makes Cincinnati a "worse" city, just different).

There is one other difference that I keep raising that none of you seem to care about. Inclines. It's all about inclines, darn it!!!

Full disclosure: I lived in Pittsburgh for four years (1988-1992) and graduated from a Pittsburgh public high school. I have never, however, rooted for the Steelers.

Enquirer's New Website

Ok, so I have had some time to evaluate the Enquirer's revamped website and I must say I do not like it. I don't mind the general look of it, what I dislike is the new structure. I can't find where anything is supposed to be.

Other opinions?

A Theatre Bridge

In an update on the effort to move the Cincinnati Playhouse to Downtown we learn that the effort includes putting four theatre spaces over two structures with a shared lobby that spans Race Street. This is an ambitious idea, but one that sounds wonderful.

On a side note, I think I need to subscribe to the Business Courier.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Farewell, LOL Blog

Larry Gross has decided to end his tenure as a blogger, and CityBeat, in turn, has decided to terminate the Living Out Loud Blog.

I (and others at this blog) have taken issue with Larry's sometimes-too-pessimistic attitude about Cincinnati. But that hasn't stopped me from reading (and looking forward to reading) his work on a daily basis. When I do my daily blog reading, I generally check the Cincinnati Blog, the Porkopolis Blog, and the LOL Blog, in that order. (Please, no lectures about using a blog reader. I'm too old school to learn that trick.) I'll greatly miss my daily dose of Larry. (Lately, though, it's a good thing I'm my own boss, since the LOL blog is the epitome of "not safe for work.") Larry's posts always get a reaction--sometimes it's laughter, sometimes disagreement, sometimes just a frown and "What the hell was that about?" But it's a reaction, nonetheless. Larry is lots of things, but vanilla is not one of them.

The good news is that Larry will continue to write for CityBeat. He also reports that he's working on two books.

I may have to stop into Madonna's some afternoon and buy him a drink.

Change Is Needed

When are we going to see change from the usual apologists for the 'homeless'? Why don't people like Georgine Getty of the Homeless Coalition update their tactics? Centralizing every poor person into one part of the city does nothing but concentrate the misery and perpetuate people's problems. The mistake of locating mass numbers of social service agencies to OTR was a mistake made 30 years ago that has not improved in the least over those 30 years. What keeps people like Georgine Getty from changing? Why do they drag their feet on moving facilities that attract a culture of bums outside those facilities? Washington Park is not going to change if we don't do two things: 1. Better enforce the law by cracking down on the bums who hang out in the park and drink beer and do drugs. 2. Push organizations like the Drop Inn center to take responsibility for the illegal activity near their building, creating a horrible place in and around a wonderful block. This activity centers and exploits people who need help, but the activity is perpetuated by those who refuse help and live as bums, coddled and protected by many who think it is better to give a bum a sandwich than drug treatment or ven just saying no when they seek to abuse those agencies trying vainly to help.

The end for the bum haven along 12th Street must come to an end once the K-12 SCPA opens. Start your efforts now, don't play games with confrontations later on, just to get the publicity. Start the change and don't use people's drug habits to try and gain more donations.

So if the City is going to try and clean out the bums from Downtown to help make the city look a little nicer for big national event, I'm OK with it, as long as those getting cleared out are breaking the law. If they go after the bums sitting peaceably in a chair on Fountain Square at 9 AM on, then that is oppression.

Friday, July 04, 2008

The North? WTF?

The Enquirer's "The Street" Columnist Carolyn Pione recently asked the question in her column: "Are you one of those people who has a bias against the north?" When has anyone ever referred the Northern Exurbs as "The North?" I'd happily call it the land of the Milquetoasted SUV or maybe the place where free-thought goes to die, but "The North" just isn't going to make it out of my lips. Beyond being insulting to Dayton, where it would be "The South," I was left scratching my head when I read this column and thinking of who with any cultural foundation wouldn't turn their noses up at least a little bit when thinking about the blandness that is Bulter County. I don't mean to knock it, well I do mean to knock it, but I'm not trying to be overly mean to the people living in Hamilton or Middletown, but lets get real, the area between 275 and 675 may have a "growing population," but there is not a growing culture to champion. Life in the Exurbs is not designed to be culturally enriching, and certainly not newsworthy, outside of little league scores.

I'm more put off by the snotty anti-Cincinnati tone I feel from Ms. Pione. It is like she is sick of all of the reporters/staffers who live inside the 275 loop telling her that Butler county sucks. Well, outside of the IKEA, and Miami University (and other places that know they are cool), it kinda does, from the perspective of a person who likes a little more than cul-de-sacs, strip malls, ignorant Republicans, and a bigoted Sheriff. So therefore when I do finally make my way up I-75 to IKEA, I will back a cooler with rations for the long haul.

On the topic of her column, I firmly state that I am in favor of great medical care facilities, wherever they may be. I really think Carolyn needs to rethink the notion that anything in area, let alone most of Ohio/Indiana/Kentucky, will rival the world class medical facilities in the one and true "Pill Hill" in and around the University of Cincinnati.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Big City, Little City, Mega City

A few weeks ago UncleRando at UrbanCincy asked the question "What is a city to you?" I am going to extrapolate on this and ask, "What is a big city to you? I ask this because often when people think of Cincinnati, they think of it as a small city. They do so I think because of the context and definition that any city outside of NYC, Chicago, and LA is just a small town. This context I believe often stems from those who have lived in cities the size of Cincinnati their entire lives. Be it someone from Cleveland, Atlanta, Tampa, Denver, or Phoenix. I believe the false perception they acquire is that success and growth can only be achieved on a bigger stage or in this context a larger city. They then perceive where live as a small town. That is not unique to Cincinnati, but we have many shining examples of it. To a degree this is also influence by the notion of kids growing up and wanting to leave home, and thus leave the city they grew up in, but that spills over into wanting something "bigger," therefore a mega city is what they think they need.

I'm from a small city. It had a population of about 35,000 when I lived there and it is down to about 30,000 18 years later. For the Couty I grew up in it's MSA has around 133,000 people in it, a number also down. In another comparison, Hamilton county's land size is about 413 square miles, while Chautauqua county (where I grew up) is well more than three times the size at 1,500 square miles. I have two points: 1) My town is shrinking far more than Cincinnati, and 2) I lived in a small city. I knew basically everyone who was withing 3 years of my age. I went to school with nearly all of them. That is the definition of a small city.

Cincinnati is a big city. No matter how much people want to paint this area as a small town, it is not. Also, just to be clear, I am talking about the entire metro area, not just the actual city, but even there, we are still a big city.

What Cincinnati is not a mega city, on that much everyone should be clear. 100 years ago Cincinnati was a mega city, which I believe is why we are a special place still now. We have history and Institutions other cities our size don't have. We are not NYC or Chicago or even Boston or San Francisco. We never will be and I for one don't want us to be, however this city has special qualities that you can't find anywhere else.

I just would like people who live here, especially those who grew up here, to try and see this city from a different perspective. Take off the blinders used by the news media. Ignore the city hates who seek to either build up their own fiefdom out in the outlying areas or those who out to tear down the city from within in in order to enable a futile attempt to gain political power.

The first step is attitude. Don't expect things are going to stay they same, unless you are going to sit back and let them. All you have to is walk, run, ride the bus, hop in your car, or someday ride the streetcar and try out something new in your Big City.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

You can't buy publicity like this.

Jerry Springer the Musical is opening at New Stage Collective tonight. So, naturally, we get tons of protestors...

(Yes, the same ones that protested Know's Corpus Christi a few years ago.)

For me, my thought is "If you don't want to see it, don't see it," however the group America Needs Fatima sees it differently. America Needs Fatima (not a link to them, but a background on their group) is an ultra-conservative, Catholic group that it seems most Catholics think is fringe and freaky. Freedom of speech and all of that, but hey-- they're getting the show more publicity than it could ever pay for.

And, why yes, those ARE jackboots. I'm so glad you asked.

The Banks Demo

The newest buzz at the Enquirer is the recently released "first look" at The Banks. It looks close to I would have expected. I still feel rather ambivalent about it. I want it to be built and succeed, but I don't see myself hanging out there with all of the tourists (aka people from West Chester et al).

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

One More Sign I'm Getting Old: Everyone Else Is Too Young

Is it just me, or is anyone else convinced that for the last couple weeks, Channel 5 has been letting one of its high school interns do its morning traffic reports? She's just so . . . young.

It's amazing how much a little Googling with turn up. The easiest Google hit, this Enquirer article, reveals that the new traffic reporter, Randi Lynn Robison, was previously a ski reporter for a television station in Park City, Utah. She moved to Mason with her fiance.

But Google gives us much better gifts. Here, courtesy Youtube, is Ms. Robison's "hosting reel," apparently a collection of clips from her Utah gig. Watching it, we learn two important things. First, she's not a high school intern (she's 25--she says she was 11 in 1994). Second, she's actually pretty engaging in the clips. So for those of you who aren't quite sure about her early performance, be patient: if history is any indicator, she'll quickly grow into the job and probably be a viewer favorite on the show. Let's hope Channel 5 gives her the time and room to make the job her own (I'm thinking she could be a younger, more feminine version of Bob Herzog, but I can't tell--there were no chicken dancing clips in the hosting reel).

Welcome to the 'Nati, Randi.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Hey Glad Girls!

Great news for the Midpoint Music Festival: Robert Pollard will appear with his new band Boston Spaceships. This is a twist on the MPMF but one worth seeing! Last year the Pollard concert at Southgate House (benefiting Enjoy the Arts) was a big sellout with people coming from Japan and England to see his show! This concert will be the kickoff for his tour, so be sure to see it and rest of Midpoint. It is just over three months away.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Change Ahead?

It appears that in addition to the presidency, the future structure of Cincinnati municipal government may be at stake in the 2008 election. The Enquirer reported Friday that the executive board of the Cincinnati branch of the NAACP has decided to have its full membership vote (this Friday) on whether to attempt to change the City Charter to require Council to be elected through "proportional representation." How does "PR" work? Essentially, voters would be given a ballot on which they would rank their choices for Council. For an explanation of how votes are counted under the system, go to this website and scroll down to "Single Transferable Vote or Choice Voting."

The city actually used the system from the 1920's through the 1950's. According to this history of PR, the end of the system in 1957 was fueled by fairly nasty, racist motives:

In Cincinnati, race was the dominant theme in the successful 1957 repeal effort. The single transferable vote had allowed African Americans to be elected for the first time, with two blacks being elected to the city council in the 1950s. The nation was also seeing the first stirrings of the Civil Rights movement and racial tensions were running high. PR opponents shrewdly decided to make race an explicit factor in their repeal campaign. They warned whites that PR was helping to increase black power in the city and asked them whether they wanted a "Negro mayor." Their appeal to white anxieties succeeded, with whites supporting repeal by a two to one margin.

In the same article (almost as an aside, despite its seeming importance), the Enquirer reports that Jeff Berding plans to ask Council to approve another Charter amendment for the November ballot. His proposal would implement the 2004 Election Reform Commission's recommendation (scroll to page 9 for the pertinent discussion) that Cincinnati move to a true "strong mayor" system of government. As noted in the linked document, under Berding's proposal, the Mayor--not the City Manager--would appoint administrative officers and department heads, like the City Solicitor, the Directors of Finance and Public Utilities, and the Superintendent of Water Works. The City Manager would be replaced by a "Chief Administrative Officer" who would serve at the pleasure of the Mayor (Council's advice and consent would not be required for appointment or removal) and have only so much power as the Mayor chose to delegate to ensure the day-to-day operations of the City. And the Mayor would no longer have a role in City Council (instead, Council would elect its own President, equivalent to the Speaker of the House in Congress, and select its own committee chairs).

Intrepid Cincinnati Blog readers will remember that we had a discussion about these issues earlier this year (here and here). If either or both of these proposals makes it to the ballot, I anticipate that we'll discuss it a lot more. But these are huge changes in the way City government would be elected and operate. If they're on the ballot, I hope we have a broad, City-wide discussion that isn't completely drowned out by the presidential and county-wide elections.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Obama's Cincinnati Connections

Today's New York Times contains an excellent profile of Michelle Obama. Quoted in the article, albeit briefly, is University of Cincinnati College of Law Professor Verna Williams.

As Cincinnati Magazine has previously reported, Professor Williams attended Harvard Law School with Ms. Obama. Her husband, David Singleton, the executive director of the Ohio Justice and Policy Center, was a classmate of Barack Obama at HLS.

The Obamas' ties to the local legal couple is old news, certainly. But now that Senator Obama is the Democrats' "presumptive" nominee, it's interesting to speculate as to who might be part of an Obama presidential administration (especially in light of today's news that the Illinois senator has a six-point lead in Ohio over the Republicans' "presumptive" nominee, Senator McCain). Add to the mix that Mr. Singleton and Professor Williams are each highly distinguished in the legal field--we've previously reported on his litigation successes (his pre-OJPC career is equally impressive), while she's a widely respected, well-accomplished legal academician--and speculation turns into outright daydreaming. How about a Supreme Court Justice Williams? Or a Solicitor General (or Attorney General) Singleton?

Just some food for thought on an otherwise slow day.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Gay Pride 2008

A beautiful day and a fun gathering of a great variety of people who live in our little town. I do think it is time the parade and festival moved downtown to Fountain Square or Sawyer Point. Cincinnati needs a Sunday afternoon convergence of Reds fans, opera fans, churchgoers, lesbian and gay couples with babies, drag queens and kings, and a few beautiful transgendered women that you straight guys out there unknowingly keep trying to pick up at the bar on Saturday night before you head to Crossroads or the Vineyard Sunday morning (both could be great worship spaces if not for being anti-gay -- ask your pastor before you yell at me and tell me I am wrong) --- you and I both know who you straight boys are.

Fountain Square in the Morning

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Gone But Not Forgotten: Uncle Woody's

Via an email from a friend earlier this week, I read a rumor (or at least what I was hoping was just a rumor) that Uncle Woody's in Clifton had closed. I drove past the establishment a couple nights ago and can now confirm that Uncle Woody's is no more. The sign on the front has been taken down. In 1999, CityBeat profiled the bar and its owner, Buzzy.

Uncle Woody's is (was, *sigh*) right across the street from the UC College of Law (my alma mater), so on any given night you could find a bunch of procrastinating law students tipping back a few. The bar is so much a part of law school culture that Buzzy and his staff annually picked a list of graduates to be on its "Bar Review." The students got their names engraved on a plaque that hangs permanently inside; the award was more coveted than selection to UC's Law Review (an academic publication) or moot court. When I was a law student, we generally considered the place "our bar."

Uncle Woody's was born the same year I was (1974), and most of us thought it would be there forever. Generations of law students have fond memories of heading over there for drinks after (or sometimes instead of) class. (And after the last final exam of the semester. Always. For many, many drinks.) The Moot Court Board, as an enticement to alums for judging its competitions, hosted an after-event happy hour at Uncle Woody's; on those nights, the bar would be packed with graduates reconnecting and reminiscing.

I've been skeptical of claims that Ohio's smoking ban would hurt Ohio's bar business, but I wonder if Uncle Woody's might be one of the few actual casualties of the ban. Christy's, about a block away and also frequented by UC students, has a large, outdoor courtyard where smoking remains permissible; it's possible patronage shifted there and away from the mostly indoors Uncle Woody's.

Uncle Woody's, ye shall be missed.

On The Docket: Bush Administration Has Again Exceeded Its Constitutional Authority

In a 5-4 ruling today, the Supreme Court held that Congress is without power to suspend the writ of habeas corpus for individuals being held at the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay. The Bush administration argued that trial by military commissions, as authorized by the Detainee Treatment Act and the Military Commission Act is an adequate substitute for habeas. The Supreme Court, in rejecting this position, has paved the way for Camp X-Ray prisoners to have their cases heard in federal courts.

Justice Kennedy wrote the decision of the Court, authoring an opinion that traces the history of the "Great Writ" back to Magna Carta. Here's a snippet:
The Framers viewed freedom from unlawful restraint as a fundamental precept of liberty, and they understood the writ of habeas corpus as a vital instrument to secure that freedom. Experience taught, however, that the commonlaw writ all too often had been insufficient to guard against the abuse of monarchial power. That history counseled the necessity for specific language in the Constitution to secure the writ and ensure its place in our legal system.
* * *
The Framers’ inherent distrust of governmental power was the driving force behind the constitutional plan that allocated powers among three independent branches. This design serves not only to make Government accountable but also to secure individual liberty. Because the Constitution’s separation-of-powers structure, like the substantive guarantees of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, protects persons as well as citizens, foreign nationals who have the privilege of litigating in our courts can seek to enforce separation-of-powers principles.
(internal citations omitted.)
Let's just remember that this isn't the liberal, liberty-loving court of the 1950's and '60's. And as the Times reports, it's yet another "harsh rebuke of the Bush administration."

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

On the Docket: Successful Challenge To Ohio's Lethal Injection Protocol

A Lorain County Common Pleas Court judge has ruled that the method of execution currently used by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections violates Ohio law. (Enquirer; NY Times.)

The case, litigated (at least as to this issue) by the ACLU, was handled in a novel way. The challenge to the protocol was brought on behalf of two pre-trial detainees. In other words, this isn't the typical, last-second petition for a stay of execution; instead, it's about two men who might be sentenced to death if they're found guilty.

The court's decision is also unique in that it isn't based in the federal constitution's Eighth Amendment. (In fact, the US Supreme Court recently all but foreclosed challenges to the three-drug method of execution based on the cruel and unusual punishment clause.) Instead, Judge James M. Burge relied on an Ohio statute that requires ODRC to effect an inmate's death by using "a drug or combination of drugs of sufficient dosage to quickly and painlessly cause death." The judge's ruling requires ODRC to use a single, large dose of barbituates to kill the two defendants, if they're found guilty and sentenced to death, rather than the three-drug cocktail currently used by most states that utilize they death penalty.

The ruling only impacts the two individuals who were before Judge Burge, but I'd be surprised if this argument wasn't made in capital cases in Hamilton County.

Monday, June 09, 2008

CCV Is Bored

The CCV has grown tired of stamping out freedom for women, gays, and lesbians, and has now chosen to attack the freedom of speech and of the press.

Someone needs to find the Right Reverend Charlie Winburn a demon he can exercise. I'm thinking he try someplace out in Blue Ash or Indian Hill.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Last Day of Fringe!!!

Today is your last day to catch the Fringe Festival. Here are some good shows to try and see!

3:45PM - In Rehearsal
4:45PM - Undertow
5:00PM - Next to Not
6:30PM - UnMasked
7:00PM - Mortem Capiendum
             - Don't Make Me Pull This show Over...
8:00PM - Burning Man Redux
             - Anna the Slut and the (Almost) Chosen One
             - Fricative
9:00PM - Your Negro Tour Guide
9:15PM - Oatmeal and a Cigarette

Don't forget the after-party that beings at the Know Theatre at about 10:00PM, so come have a drink and here the announcement of the Pick of the Fringe.

Friday, June 06, 2008

You Asked For It

With only a little bit of fanfare, Avril-Bleh opened its grocery store on Court Street a couple weeks ago. Based on my quick trip there, the store offers some fresh produce, some dry and canned goods, a couple of coolers worth of beverages and dairy, some frozen food (including pints of Aglamesis' ice cream), and a deli counter that serves sandwiches to order.

The store keeps the same hour as the butcher shop, so it's closed on Sunday and Monday.


This week, my practice took me to Charlotte, North Carolina, for a few days. While I was on the hotel shuttle, I struck up a conversation with the driver about Charlotte. He asked me where I live. When I told him I live in Cincinnati, his immediate response was, "Have things settled down at all up there?"

Just one, isolated conversation, but it's eye-opening to see the lingering impact of the events that occurred in the early part of the decade on people's view of Cincinnati.

Anybody Heard Of Google?

So the Cincinnati School Board names five semifinalists for the position of Superintendent and within twelve hours has to withdraw one of the names -- Earl Watkins of Jackson Mississippi -- because of a male on male sexual harassment charge that no one, including the hired search firm, knew about. How stupid and inadequate can a process possibly be? What kind of politics is driving this process?

As an experiment, I sat down at my computer this morning and Googled the following: "Earl Watkins" Jackson Mississippi. The very first listing on my search results was a December 2006 television report from WLBT of Jackson with the headline -- "Principal Alleges Sexual Harassment by JPS Superintendent". The JPS Superintendent referred to here is Mr. Watkins. Result No. 2 from my Google search was an April 7, 2008 report from the Jackson Free Press (who knew Jackson, Mississippi had an alternative newspaper -- probably has a "creative class" population about the size of Cincinnati's "creative class) with the following lede: "JPS Superintendent Earl Watkins Resigning: After months of controversy stemming from a sexual harassment charge by a male educator, JPS Superintendent Earl Watkins announced tonight that he is resigning, effective June 2009."

Now the Cincinnati School Board paid some search firm $40,000 to vet these candidates. Nobody paid me anything to do a two second Google search --- who generated a better product? So here's a challenge readers, help the CPS out and do quick Google searches on the remaining four candidates and report your findings to the School Board. Maybe we can send them an invoice for our consulting work.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Indie Summer At Fountain Square

Friday nights all summer will start out with Fountain Square's Indie Summer Music Series. Three good local bands will be playing each week. Tomorrow night's line-up has:

Make sure you have a few beers and tip Well! Tips go to support Enjoy the Arts, a great organization.

Stay afterwards for Singer/song writer night from 10PM to Midnight.

RFK - A Remembrance

On this, the fortieth anniversary of the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, I find myself thinking of Kennedy's statement in inner city Indianapolis on the evening of the day on which Martin Luther King was assassinated. He was told by law enforcement and all local elected officials not to go, but he went anyway. Imagine the crowd on that April night in 1968 in that pre cellphone and email and Blackberry day. Most had no idea that King had been killed. In fact, if you listen to the audio of that tape, you can hear the horror and heartbreak in the crowd as Kennedy himself breaks the news to them. Speaking extemporaneously, Kennedy said:

I'm only going to talk to you just for a minute or so this evening, because I have some -- some very sad news for all of you -- Could you lower those signs, please? -- I have some very sad news for all of you, and, I think, sad news for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world; and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and was killed tonight in Memphis, Tennessee.

Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice between fellow human beings. He died in the cause of that effort. In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it's perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in. For those of you who are black -- considering the evidence evidently is that there were white people who were responsible -- you can be filled with bitterness, and with hatred, and a desire for revenge.

We can move in that direction as a country, in greater polarization -- black people amongst blacks, and white amongst whites, filled with hatred toward one another. Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand, and to comprehend, and replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand, compassion, and love.

For those of you who are black and are tempted to fill with -- be filled with hatred and mistrust of the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I would only say that I can also feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man.

But we have to make an effort in the United States. We have to make an effort to understand, to get beyond, or go beyond these rather difficult times.

My favorite poem, my -- my favorite poet was Aeschylus. And he once wrote:

Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart,until, in our own despair,against our will,comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.

What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.

On that day in April, 1968, I typed those words from Aeschylus on a small index card and have carried it with me every day since then as a remembrance of dreams and hopes lost and of dreams that continue to live and of the constant pain of life that gives birth to dreams. Two months later, on June 5, 1968, Kennedy was shot and killed immediately following his victory in the California primary.

On a day when there can no longer be any doubt that a person of African ancestry -- a biracial person -- will be the Democratic Party candidate for the Presidency in November, I find myself thinking of those days in 1968 and of the hopes born in those days, many of which have long been forgotten by many of us in a sea of accumulated wealth and debt and scandal and change and cynicism and irony, and I find myself wondering how much of the symbolic and realized hope and dreams contained in the candidacies of Senator Obama and Senator Clinton find their root in the hopes of Bobby Kennedy and 1968. So on this day, do we offer the image of Barak Obama to those elementary school children creating chaos at Porter-Hays School as an image of exceptionalism owing to his good luck and his rearing by a strong single white mother or do we offer the image of Barak Obama as an image of aspirational hope that points a way to these children beyond the real but, all too easy, excuses of racism and discrimination to hope and success and not failure --- an image that says you too, can be a candidate for President and maybe even President someday if you work hard enough.

Today, I hope that we join with Bobby Kennedy and "dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world."

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Party Politics?

Is the effort to ouster Caleb Faux by Council members Bortz, Ghiz, and Monzel an anti-Democrat tactic?

More Is Not Enough

The last letter to the editor titled Downtown Needs More Restaurants is a hugely telling letter.

I am just dumbfounded that someone would write this letter. I am also equally astonished that the Enquirer would print this letter. I guess someone is going to write a letter and complain there aren't enough big-box discount stores downtown that are open at 6AM.

By the way, Lavomatic is open Sunday morning for Brunch at 10 AM. It isn't that bad of a walk from Aronoff Center, but extreme convenience is something too many people are accustomed.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Cincinnati E.A.T.S.

Food, friends, charity-- three things that go together (or should), and is, in a nutshell, what Cincinnati E.A.T.S. (Epicurians About Town Society) is all about. It's an eating group recently formed by some YP-types (though most certainly not only for YPs!) who want to take over restaurants on their slow days to meet new friends, eat great food, and support good causes. Their first outing is on June 10 at Lavomatic. For $36, you get a 3-course meal (including, I hear, the rhubarb-pistachio pavlova, which is fantastic) , and a portion of the proceeds go to 7 Days for SIDS (started by the de Cavels after their daughter died from SIDS several years ago).

Want to join me? Check out Cincinnati E.A.T.S' website and RSVP by June 8th.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

OTR5K a Success!

Where else in the city can you sit in your bay window and blog about a running race while watching the finishing immediate below your window? This year's event is a brilliant success with a great crowd, fun atmosphere, hard working organizers and volunteers and beer booth! It isn't Cincinnati without a Christian Moerlein at 10:30 AM!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Fringe is On!

Opening Night at the Cincinnati Fringe Festival was a smash! Tonight starts the Performances. We'll be reviewing shows over at, so see the show, read the review give your take.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Mt. Adams, Also Known As Roke Island

I'm quite certain that on an approximately monthly basis, the good people of Mt. Adams rotate all the names of their streets, and quite possibly the permissible direction of travel on those streets.

Or maybe I'm just a big dummy who gets lost every time he's up there for no apparent reason.

Some Random, Tasty Thoughts

Despite being holed up in the office much of the weekend, I was able to get to the Taste yesterday and enjoy much (maybe too much) scrumptious food. Here's a few random thoughts.

1. My brief feelings of nostalgia for when Taste was on Central Parkway ended as I walked the block of the festivities between Sycamore and Broadway. Like Central Parkway, that area is wide open--and almost completely shade-free. The shade of the tall buildings that surround Taste between Race and Sycamore really does help to keep the temperature comfortable.

2. Julie led a discussion here (and at her solo blog) a little while ago about national chain restaurants winning "Best of Taste" awards. I agreed with her that it seems a little off-putting for those restaurants to win awards in a "Taste of Cincinnati" competition. But maybe I'm being hypocritical. Is it really chains that we don't want to see win, or was it the type of chain that won this year that's upsetting? Carrabba's is just so corporate suburban. Red Lobster may as well have a booth. But I don't remember any opprobrium when Hamburger Mary's was winning for best dessert. It, too, is a national chain, but maybe not so off-putting because it's not so cookie-cutter.

3. I wish there were a little more participation from downtown restaurants. I'm also always intrigued by the placement of the booths. For instance, who decided to put Taz next to Andy's? I kept hoping some sort of shish kabob street brawl would break out.

4. Finally, is it just me, or are strollers becoming the size of SUV's? And why do mothers seem to need to use them as battering rams to cut a path through the crowd? Maybe that's just the selfish, single guy in me speaking, but there's a special place in Hell for women who bruise your shin with their fortified stroller.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Taste of Fringe

Two volunteers braved the throng of suburbanites at the Taste of Cincinnati yesterday to help promote the 2008 Cincinnati Fringe, which starts Tuesday night. They are even sporting this year's spiffy volunteer T-shirt. If you want to volunteer, it is not to late. Click here for more!

For full Fringe coverage, please head over to
The Conveyor where we'll be blogging from the bowels of the Fringe festival headquarters on a daily basis.

500 Miles to Modern Music

WOXY's 19th Annual Modern Rock 500 is at full speed, have a listen. Today is one of those days I wish I had an HD radio. The days of wishing may be behind me.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

6 Years Is a Long Time

Today marks the 6th anniversary of my first post to this blog. Six freaking years! It is Memorial Day Weekend, so I find it fitting to remember my first month of posts. On my first day I managed to mention Greg Flannery, Peter Bronson, Darryl Parks, Sensible Don, and the Taste of Cincinnati. Time just goes by quickly.

This blog isn't ending. I don't want to scare anyone that I'm going to quit, though some may want that! I've been posting less lately, and that I don't think that will change. Adding new writers I think has really made this blog a much better place to come for opinion. I'd even consider adding someone else new if there are any other takers out there, email me!

I think much has changed in 6 years, in the city and in the world in terms of attitudes. I think my attitude has changed a lot. I don't know that I've changed my ways much, but looking back on what I was writing about the first day, I think perspective and a little more age has moved me along. I care more now, than I did then, but I care enough not to say as much now. So, we'll see how things change over the next 6 years. In the mean time, check out the for some non-political writing with the second year coverage of the Cincinnati Fringe Festival, kicking off on Tuesday.

Taste 2008

It's time for the Taste of Cincinnati and preparations where underway this morning in earnest.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Way To Bury The Lede, Kimball....

I was shocked at the apparent harshness of a sentence when I read the following opening line of this story in the Enquirer:

Johairo Munoz was sent to prison today for seven years after he admitted to placing a 3-year-old boy in a cold shower as punishment after the child soiled himself.

Seven years? For exposing a kid to a little cold water? Maybe not approved by the Parenting 101 textbook, but still, that seems tough. Seems like a cold shower might even be preferable to a swat on the behind. But, well, whoops, it turns out there's more:

Munoz became outraged with the child soiled himself, prosecutors said. He beat the child with his hands and belt and then held the child under a cold shower for up to 30 minutes. When the child was taken to the hospital, his body temperature was 92 degrees, six degrees below normal.

Umm, he wasn't sent away for seven years for giving the kid "a cold shower." He was sent for beating the crap out of the child, and then leaving him in a shower that was way too cold for far too much time. Sounds like the boy could have suffered hypothermia. Seven years might even be a lenient sentence.

I generally like Kimball Perry's courthouse reporting, but this time his opening line might have been a little too succinct.

What Am I Missing Here?

WEST END - In a passionate defense of herself and her staff, the interim principal of Hays-Porter Elementary School blamed parents Wednesday for the extreme disciplinary problems that have plagued the new school since it opened in August.

Adonica Jones-Parks, addressing the school's "chaos" publicly for the first time, said teachers, staff and outside agencies are trying hard to curtail student violence and other misbehavior. But parents too often don't follow through on discipline, she said.

Let's see, elementary school kids are what --- first grade through, maybe, sixth or eighth grades? So ages 6 to 14 or so, right? Presumably Hays-Porter Elementary School is run by adults and the parents of these children brought them into the world, so have assumed the responsibilities of adults even if they themselves are children. Yet, "chaos" apparently reigns? How can that be? Why should "chaos" be tolerated by adults charged with supervising children? Why should an elementary school simply be allowed to become a training ground for the penal system?

Is education critically important for the lives of these children? Do their parents believe that? Do we believe that? If we all, including the parents of these children, can agree that education is critical to the future of these children, then how can we tolerate "chaos"? How can we as a society not intervene into an environment that allows such "chaos" to occur? What would that intervention look like?

I think about how my late mother handled those moments of "chaos" involving me and my brother and our friends. More often than not it was simply THE LOOK that instilled fear and calmed the chaos, in that we had learned from experience that THE LOOK was to be respected. Embodied in THE LOOK were years of learning boundaries and discipline and respect for those who had authority in the world by virtue of their status --- Now, it seems that such respect has all but disappeared in much of our culture. How do we teach respect in a world where respect is not valued?

Are we to simply write this situation off to poverty or racism? Is that a legitimate response in the face of the world in which these children will become adults --- a world where a black man with a foreign sounding name, raised by a single white mother, is poised to become President of the United States. Are we to simply say to another generation of children in our cities, "we don't know what to do with you, don't really care much about you because your own communities seemingly care little for you, and therefore, we will do nothing about the chaos you create and live in --- other than partition it"? This is not enough. As Senator Obama has said:

"A lack of economic opportunity among black men, and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one's family contributed to the erosion of black families — a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened. And the lack of basic services in so many urban black neighborhoods — parks for kids to play in, police walking the beat, regular garbage pickup, building code enforcement — all helped create a cycle of violence, blight and neglect that continues to haunt us.

* * * * *

For all those who scratched and clawed their way to get a piece of the American Dream, there were many who didn't make it — those who were ultimately defeated, in one way or another, by discrimination. That legacy of defeat was passed on to future generations — those young men and, increasingly, young women who we see standing on street corners or languishing in our prisons, without hope or prospects for the future."

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

On The Docket: (Multi) Million Dollar Verdict

The Enquirer reports here on a multi-million dollar verdict by a Hamilton County jury in favor of a mother and child who were injured by their doctor's malpractice during delivery. The jury awarded the plaintiffs $22,646,023. Assuming the accuracy of the Enquirer's report, the injuries suffered by the child were life-altering, to say the least. And even though Hamilton County juries aren't exactly regarded as overly-generous in their verdicts, the jurors compensated the plaintiffs accordingly.

Folks, this is why the civil justice system exists. As much as "tort reformers" like to vent about the infamous McDonald's suit (which itself was meritorious when one considers all of the facts, not just those commonly cited), far more often plaintiffs who win following a jury trial are like the poor Grows in this case--traumatically injured because of someone else's tortious conduct. Such people deserve to be compensated for their injuries.

The plaintiffs were represented by Patrick Beirne of the Lawrence Firm, a boutique shop best known for its work in medical malpractice cases.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Down By the River

The river's running pretty high right now. Parts of Yeatman's Cove are underwater. What now looks like a real cove, normally is a large concrete platform.

I went on a stroll early this morning and took a few pictures. The weekend mornings downtown and especially along the river are so beautiful on days like today. There are a few metal benches that line the upper plaza along Yeatman's Cove and I sat there for a while this morning with my IPod and coffee and was amazed by both the calmness and fury of the river. It would have been a sight to see this area when the river was the driver of Cincinnati economy. I only saw parked boats this morning. I didn't wouldn't have expected to see many out at 8:30 on a Sunday morning. I think the high waters makes it more of a concern for boaters, so it doesn't surprise me the waters were sans vessels. I really enjoy walking on weekend mornings and going down to the Cove will likely be a regular destination for me this spring and summer. Greenspace and a waterway make a great front lawn for the city.

Cutting It Close

Speaking of Taste next weekend, I have to admit to a little bit of concern: with at least one day of rain forecast this week, will the resurfacing of Fifth Street be completed by Friday night, when vendors begin to set up?

While I understand that the work had to be completed, I was somewhat surprised when it was scheduled for the two weeks immediately prior to the Taste. Why not do it either a) two weeks earlier, to make sure it's done before the Taste begins, or b) two weeks later, after the Taste?

Hopefully the asphalt will be completely sealed by Saturday, and Taste-goers won't have to relive the sticky-street debacle of 2005.

On To The Finals

The Cyclones beat the South Carolina Stingrays last night, winnning their best-of-seven series in five games. Now, it's off to the finals against the Las Vegas Wranglers.

The seven-games series follows the "2-3-2" format. Games 1 and 2 will be in Cincinnati next Saturday and Sunday, respectively, at 7:30. Games 3, 4, and 5 are in Vegas. Games 6 and 7, if necessary, will be back at US Bank Arena on Thursday, June 5, and Saturday, June 7, also at 7:30.

It appears that tickets are now on sale for Games 1 and 2, at the wallet-friendly prices of $10.00 and $22.50 for seats. Next weekend should be a great weekend: folks can come downtown for Taste of Cincinnati, and then stick around for either the May Festival or the 'Clones game.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Wedding Bells In California --- Where Will The Democratic Nominee Hide?

OK, full disclosure, I am a gay man and an attorney, so I am still pouring over the 172 pages of opinions that came from the California Supreme Court today, declaring "that permitting opposite-sex couples to marry while affording same-sex couples access only to the novel and less-recognized status of domestic partnership improperly infringes a same-sex couple's constitutional rights to marry and to the equal protection of the laws as guaranteed by the California Constitution." In short, the Court, made up of 6 Republicans and 1 Democrat, held in a 4-3 decision that attempts to preserve the "marriage" nomenclature for opposite-sex couples, while bestowing all of the rights, privileges, benefits, and obligations of marriage on same-sex couples under the guise of "domestic partnerships" or "civil unions" was to place same-sex couples in a second class category in violation of the equal protection clause of the California Constitution (the case was decided completely under the California Constitution, so is not reviewable by the U.S. Supreme Court). A very similar issue is currently pending before the Connecticut Supreme Court as well.

This is a major victory for those of us who believe that marriage is a fundamental individual right protected by our constitutions, and that implicit in that fundamental individual right is the right to choose who one will marry. It pays to remember that there was a time not so very long ago when the government told whites and blacks that they could not, as a matter of law, marry across their racial lines.

Reactionary religious forces were quick to react. Matt Barber, the Policy Director for Cultural Issues for Concerned Women for America (stands to reason that their Policy Director would be male) said:

"So-called 'same-sex marriage' is a ridiculous and oxymoronic notion that has been forced into popular lexicon by homosexual activists and their extremist left-wing allies. If people who engage in homosexual behavior want to dress up and play house, that's their prerogative, but we shouldn't destroy the institutions of legitimate marriage and family in order to help facilitate a counterfeit."

There will no doubt be efforts made to put this issue on the ballot in California in the fall with an effort to amend the California Constitution.

From a political standpoint, this creates a real problem for the Democratic presidential candidates, particularly Senator Obama, the presumptive nominee. Democrats have been fundamentally dishonest on the issue of same-sex marriage for some time now, trying to hold the center by favoring some form of "domestic partnerships" or "civil unions" for same-sex couples, while preserving the religiously infused and normative category of "marriage" for opposite-sex couples. GLBT persons have let them get away with this because of some bizarre belief that these politicians really didn't believe what they were saying about marriage and that, in the dark of night, they really, really, really were on our side (President Clinton's deplorable and disgraceful signing of the federal Defense of Marriage Act apparently notwithstanding). Now Senator Obama will have to tell us whether he believes the California Supreme Court is correct when it holds that anything less than full marriage rights, including the nomenclature, relegates same-sex couples to some second class status that should not be tolerated in Senator Obama's new paradigm for American politics.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger responded to the decision in this manner, "I respect the Court’s decision and as Governor, I will uphold its ruling. Also, as I have said in the past, I will not support an amendment to the constitution that would overturn this state Supreme Court ruling."

Let's see who the Straight Talkers (pun very much intended) are now . . . . . .

As for me, I am grabbing my man, picking out a gown, and heading for San Francisco.