Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Don't Give Kids (Or Jounalists) Candy

Councilmember Chris Bortz needs to learn something about dealing with the media. If you wave a big piece of candy in front of them, they are going reach out and grab it like a seven year grabbing for a candy bar. In this case the mere mentioning of Chris Smitherman's name will generate a story, and more importantly, a headline.

Hard Ball

If the Cincinnati Police Department wants to play games in the media, then at least they could put their name behind their action like Greg Harris has done. The rumor leaked by "someone" in the police department that 200 layoffs await was anonymous political move that lacked class and honesty.

I don't believe this is a serious plan. This is just Greg talking to Leis about what it would entail or what would be possible. I take this as a "two can play at that game, Chief" towards CPD Police Chief Tom Streicher who has been in the media talking about being forced into police layoffs, an attempt by Streicher to put fear into the public in hopes of pressuring Council to not cut his budget.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Cincinnati Chamber Cut Jobs

The Business Courier is reporting that 7 employees of the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce are being laid off. No detail on what positions were affected.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Council Must Make Tough Decisions On Police Spending

As Griff notes, the Cincinnati Police Division's administration is suggesting that it may be forced to lay off up to 200 officers over the next six months. With $40 million to cut from next year's budget, it's unrealistic to believe that CPD's budget will be untouched. But all of us (including City Council) need to keep in mind that Cincinnati is not Hamilton County.

Last year, Hamilton County went through the painful budget process that now faces Cincinnati. The commissioners were forced to cut the budget of the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office. But they were powerless to address line-by-line spending within the HCSO budget. That's because the sheriff is an elected official who, by law, controls his own budget. Some (including the FOP) questioned whether there weren't additional administrative savings to be made. I still don't know the answer to that. But the decision was left to Simon Leis alone; the Commission could tell Leis how much money he was getting, but not how to spend it.

This is not true of the City of Cincinnati. The police chief is not an elected official, and is subordinate to the City Manager. The chief has no statutory authority protecting his right to set his own budget. Council has the power to set spending priorities--and it must use it. Before a single patrol officer is laid off, Council must examine the CPD's administrative budget.

The assistant chiefs are a good example of possible administrative savings. Do we really need five assistant chiefs? Chief Streicher's redeployment of Lt. Col. Janke a couple months ago would suggest we don't. In fact, we've only had five assistant chiefs since 2004. Of course, reducing the assistant chief compliment by one is just a drop in our financial bucket, but it provides an example of how a bureaucracy can become top-heavy in good economic times.

Beat officers are the lean meat of CPD. They're what are required to keep us all safe. City Council needs to take ownership of the job of finding CPD's fat and gristle. These are policy decisions that need to be made by elected officials, not by the appointed City Manager or the (non-appointed) Chief.

And if you're trying to figure out how to decide who to vote for in this fall's Council race, this is as good an issue as any. Any candidate who cannot give you a clear idea of where they'll find $40 million in cuts--with specifics from each department they intend to cut--probably isn't worthy of your vote.

Haap Agrees: It's A Vanity Campaign

This morning, Cincinnati Beacon blogger Jason Haap appeared on Newsmakers. At the end of the interview, the following exchange occurred:

Hurley: What are you in this for? Are you in this to win, are
you in this to educate, what are you in this for?
Haap: I think I'm probably in this to educate.

In other words, Haap is running for mayor, but has absolutely no intention of becoming the mayor. Running for an office one has no plans to occupy would be like the Reds or the Cardinals announcing tomorrow that they understand that mid- and small-market teams can't do well in Major League Baseball, and that they're just playing the rest of the season to try to teach others how to play ball.

Haap's a valuable voice in the blogosphere (and I know many of you will disagree with me--but guess what? You only disagree because you read the Beacon!). But while "political performance art" (which is how he describes his nom de plum) is an excellent way to get page hits to your blog, it's not such a good thing to inject into a serious political race, at a time when serious challenges are being addressed.

With Haap's admission that mayor's race really is between two candidates, that's how I plan to discuss the race: as one between Mayor Mallory and Dr. Wenstrup.

If you want performance art, go rent Borat. We don't need it in the mayoral race.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Let the Posturing Begin

Well, "someone" is doing their best to scare the public as means to position the CPD into avoiding any pain from the impending Budget Cuts.

I laugh when the word "could" is used 5 times. That makes this article generate the smell that accompanies a leak from the CPD that was on purpose, all the way from the top.

Dear Maija?

Ok, does the Dear Maija column in CityBeat work? I understand and actually like the tone, but is this what is right for CityBeat, as opposed to more hard news stories?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Nasty Council Attitude or PAY ATTENTION?

I can only consider Council Member Leslie Ghiz's "Twitter behavior" to be nothing short of childish. The tone she expressed toward fellow Council Member Laketa Cole was something one might hear in the head of a Student Council Member, not City Council. Instead we got an open display of what Leslie's teenage years may have been like. Here is a series of posts to her account made during Wednesday's Council meeting:
# Environmental Justice Ordinance is passing. New cost to city: 500k. City deficit? 40 mil.3:58 PM Jun 24th from TwitterBerry

#
Here she goes again. Does not know when to shut up.2:45 PM Jun 24th from TwitterBerry

#
Keep digging a hole Laketa. Never shuts her mouth.2:40 PM Jun 24th from TwitterBerry

#
I don't have to go to church Sunday because I just heard a sermon from Cole.2:05 PM Jun 24th from TwitterBerry

#
Cole just said budget isn't about the same old thing. Really? Did I miss something?1:59 PM Jun 24th from TwitterBerry

#
Weigh in: should we lay off more city workers in order to have an environmental dept, keep under utilized pools and rec centers open?1:53 PM Jun 24th from TwitterBerry


I don't know how I feel in general about a council member posting tweets during council. My first thought was to scream "Pay Attention Leslie!" at the top of my lungs, but she was twittering about the meeting, not something else. From Enquirer report Jane Prendergast's Twitter we did learn Laketa Cole slammed Ghiz for that during the meeting as well.
Laketa Cole blasts colleagues who didn't help w/ budget cuts - It's easy to complain and "sit at your desk and Twitter." Take that, Leslie
Cole made her contribution to not paying attention by her dog getting lose at her home during the same council session. The dog was "impounded" up by the SPCA and she was fined.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Farewell, Michael

Like most people my age, I've been glued to the television for the last hour or so, mouth agape at the news that Michael Jackson has passed away. I'm solidly a member of Generation X, so I grew up watching Michael. Many others will write much better obituaries than I could, so I won't even try. Suffice it to say that Michael was every bit (or more) woven into the fabric of my childhood as were the Cosby kids and Family Ties; the Challenger disaster; and (near the end of high school) the end of the Cold War.

Michael's death brings into sharp focus another "death," though: that of MTV. Once I'd gotten my fill of CNN, I turned on MTV. MTV, I was sure, would be covering Michael's death. After all, if it weren't for Michael Jackson, MTV wouldn't even exist. For a while, the network seemed oblivious to the news. Eventually, they started playing Michael Jackson videos, with a crawl reporting the death. It finally struck me: MTV no longer has any live human beings to put in front of a camera (or a studio, for all I know). Twenty years ago, if MTV lacked a "v-jay" for an event like this, a producer would've stuck an intern in front of a camera. Today, MTV is nothing but pre-programmed pseudo-reality shows.

So today is a sad today, leaving us wistful for the music and motion of Michael Jackson, and leaving us thinking, "I want my MTV!"

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

City Council Poised To Break Its Own Rules?

Last night, I watched the replay of yesterday's Finance Committee meeting. (Yes, I do know how geeky that makes me.) It's clear that the Council is facing extraordinarily difficult choices. But there may be an interesting procedural show-down at Wednesday's Council meeting that the press isn't really talking about.

City Council, like any legislative body, operates according to a set of internal rules. These are rules that the Ohio Revised Code gives it leeway to create. City Council makes them, and by a two-thirds vote, City Council can alter or suspend them. A few years ago, a rule was adopted that was designed to protect the City's "reserve" fund. Apparently, it requires that any time Council spends money from the fund, it finds corresponding funds to replace it.

Rules are, of course, made to be broken. And this one can be, too, just like any other rule. The catch? According to the rules, any rule can be suspended by a two-thirds vote of Council.

The plan to balance the 2009 budget that passed in Finance Committee relies heavily on reserve funds. There's no plan, of course, to replace the newly-allocated reserve funds. But as far as I can tell, the proposal is supported by just five Council members (Cole, Crowley, Harris, Qualls, and Thomas). That means that while there are enough votes to secure passage of the measure, there aren't enough votes to suspend the rule--which should be a necessary precondition to passage.

Ultimately, this will leave the decision to Mayor Mallory. When the question is called (assuming the vote count doesn't change), he'll have two options: ignore the rule and and declare the amended budget to have passed, or enforce the rule, thus requiring a two-thirds majority for passage. I don't know what the mayor intends to do.

Before you litigation-hungry types get all worked up, don't bother. I highly doubt there's a taxpayer's suit that can be filed that would prevent Council from breaking its own rules. Just like the US Supreme Court doesn't intervene to stop Congress from breaking its own rules, it's unlikely a Common Pleas court will tell Council how to operate, as long as it acts within the external constraints placed upon it. Enforcement of internal constraints are entirely up to the Council itself. A court would probably rule that this is a non-judiciable "political question."

Reasonable people can disagree as to the wisdom of depleting the reserve fund. Frankly, I lean towards the position that the current economic crisis is precisely the reason a government has a reserve fund. If this isn't a contingency that demands extraordinary action, then what is? If it means poor kids can swim and the uninsured get health care, then dip into the reserve.

But regardless of where you come out on the substantive issue, how can a reasonable person believe it's good for Council to break its own rules? If the rules require a two-thirds vote to cash in the reserve fund, then that's the process that should be followed. I might like the result this time, but that's just the problem: I might only like it this time. Maybe next time there's a rule the enforcement of which would lead to a result I'd be happier with. But if the suspension rule is expendable this time, why would a five-member majority pay it any heed next time?

We elect our Council members to act as a professional, responsible legislative body. They sometimes fall short of that standard. But one would think that at the very least, they can follow the rules they wrote for themselves.

Eating Heart-Healthy in Porkopolis?!?

Is it even possible? I guess I'm going to find out.

For the first time in my life, I had my cholesterol level checked. According to the test, it's entirely plausible that there are bacon bits flowing through my veins and arteries.

Those of you who have met me are thinking, "Duh! Has the guy looked in a mirror in the past decade? What did he think his cholesterol number would be?" You're right, of course. But for a while, I've been operating in a world in which I didn't know with certainty that my cholesterol was high. And in that world, if I didn't know there was a problem, there really wasn't a problem.

Luckily, my doctor is a pretty restrained guy. Rather than whip out a prescription pad, he told me I was to start a "heart-healthy diet" and come back in four months for another blood test. And if the cholerestol level isn't better, he's probably going to follow me around, sprinkling ground Lipitor over all of my meals.

So now that I know, I have to face reality. And that means that my first trip to Five Guys (really more of a pilgrimage, made earlier today) will be my last. And my future gastric adventures involve lots of boiled chicken and salad. I'm trying to figure out if there's anything I can eat at this weekend's Panegyri Festival.

At least my blood pressure is OK. Somebody pass the salt.

Bogus Dangerous Claim, Bad Reporting Across the Board

So I know the discredited "study" really isn't news, but I wanted to make sure everyone got the truth and a press release from 3CDC sums it up well:
Statement from 3CDC in regard to the study by Location Inc, published today on AOL.com on the 25 Most Dangerous Neighborhoods in America.

“The study released today regarding Over-the-Rhine (OTR) focuses on approximately 20 square blocks, some of them not even located in OTR and is based on data that is more than two and a half years old. In fact, reported crime through 2008 in the area of OTR south of Liberty Street, known as OTR Gateway, is down 37% since 2004.

"OTR is 110 square blocks and includes several neighborhood districts including OTR Gateway, centered at the corner of 12th and Vine streets. This area, and other OTR census tract areas, was not part of the study.

“It is unfortunate and intellectually dishonest that the entire neighborhood was labeled in such a negative way. The fact is, $84 million has been invested in OTR Gateway since 2004 and new home owners and business owners are investing in the neighborhood. This past Saturday, a 5K run and day-long Summer Celebration arts festival brought about 2,000 people to the corner of 12th and Vine to shop, eat and listen to music. The only problem was that some of our vendors didn’t anticipate such a large crowd and ran out of food.”
The website that published this list is out to sell subscriptions, so you have to pay to view the underlying data. For free you can see the most pathetic element: where the website made up a neighborhood. Out of thin air they have declared that something called "Central Pky./Liberty St." is a place that has meaning to someone. That's right, in other words, they CHERRY PICKED a part of OTR and claim it is the worst. I am sorry, but people really are going to tell me that our so called "small town" Cincinnati has the worst criminals in the country? Is anyone also going to tell me that zip codes 45210 and 45214 are based in OTR? It is clear the data used by this website is outdated and either manipulated or just mishandled. I think they complied a bunch of data, didn't check for its relevance, didn't make sure it was up to date, chopped it apart based on some magical method they don't disclose, then bam! you get the junk results. If you are a credible organization providing statistical information, you outline your methods and your data. You are not credible if you will only provide for a fee.

Since this website has no credibility, one might think that local media outlets would be skeptical of the results. I guess chalking it up to an act of god, the local Media, nearly across the board, played right along and created a hot controversial topic. The one thing the website did not do: claim "Over-the-Rhine" was the most dangerous neighborhood. Instead the local media refer to the Frankenstein's Monster of a neighborhood ("Central Pky./Liberty St.") as OTR. I guess no one in the media can read a map. The Enquirer, WLW, WKRC, and FOX 19 took no time to analyze what was a clearly a bogus claim.

For the details, check out UrbanCincy for the analysis that the mainstream media is lacking.

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Budget Fix?

Later on today City Council will reportedly announce a plan to fix the budget and wipe away the $20 million deficit. I don't see how this can be done on furloughs alone, which is all the news story from WVXU includes as detail of the plan.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

GOP Candidate Profiled

The Hamilton County GOP's sacrificial lamb had a good profile in CitBeat this week. Brad Wenstrup has the Bio of the type of candidate the GOP should be running for Congress. He makes Schmidt and Chabot both appear like bizarre extremists who have one foot in the loony bin. Granted, that's not a hard thing to do, but he makes the contrast far clearer. Will they have the sense to run him for Congress after redistricting makes the 1st and 2nd less Conservative districts?

The base problem with Wenstrup now is he has the message and views of a mainstream Republican who talks big ideas but has no experience with what it takes to get anything done in a Democratic City, let alone having the best policies. If you want to know what his policies are, then reportedly will announce them in detail in July. He's anti-streetcar and seems to not really know what is going on Downtown. He seems to think Newport is some type of Mecca. That type of rhetoric is so old it I think pre-dates WLW's move from Mt. Adams to Kenwood. Which appears to be where Mr. Wenstrup gets much of his political mentality.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

OTR5K

I started out this morning in the Gateway Quarter for the 3rd Annual OTR-5K. Here are a few photos:





The Winner:


Friday, June 19, 2009

Civil Rights Game

Who's going tomorrow? (I am.) Maybe we should have a meet-up.

As of right now, tickets are still available.

Dems: Don't Let The Far Left Take Control

I've been a life-long Democrat because (at least in my mind), that's always been the party that has stood up for middle- and working-class people, as well as the poor and under-represented. I've begun to worry that my party is moving away from this role.

There's always been a far-left wing of the Democratic Party that has valued "the environment" over all else. For them, there's no human need that can trump the needs of an obscure species of spotted horned deer flies. The voices of that wing should certainly be heard. The problem is, they seem to be taking over the governance of the party.

We see the growing interest of the environmental left both locally and nationally. Locally, the City is poised to create a new "environmental justice" bureaucracy at the same time it faces a $20 million shortfall. Environmental justice is a real issue, and one that deserves attention. But the solutions are relatively easy: Council just needs clear zoning ordinances that prevent noxious, smoky factories from locating directly adjacent to residential (usually impoverished) neighborhoods. My concern here isn't about business vs. the environment. It's about people vs. the cost of the new proposal. It'll be a miracle is anything remains of the City's social services budget next year. There's almost no chance neighborhood pools will open next summer. So if I have a choice between creating an additional level of bureaucracy and letting poor kids swim, I'd choose the latter every time.

Nationally, the "Cash for Clunkers" program shows how the environmental left is pursuing its agenda at the expense of the working class. Here's how it works: the government will get old, lower-MPG cars off the road by offering owners a $4500 voucher towards a new car once they turn the old one in. The old car will not then be returned to the secondary market (e.g., used car dealerss, classified ads, etc.). But here's what people aren't talking about: most people don't buy cheap used cars because they want to. They buy them because that's what they can afford. Getting rid of the market for cheap used cars will hurt lower-middle class and poor people. So again, the environmental left values some unquantified benefit to the environment ahead of the needs of poor people, and has successfully codified this preference.

One of the major reasons the GOP is "wandering in the wilderness" is because it gave too much control over its agenda to the religious right. The party had become all about social issues--issues that, it turns out, don't matter to most voters during a weak economy. The "'small-l' libertarian" wing of the party began to abandon the GOP, and its apathy this past election cycle likely has a lot to do with the current composition of the government.

If the environmental left is permitted to dominate the Democratic party, it'll experience a similar fate. The populist wing of the party will abandon it (or simply stay home), and the party will lose its influence.

I'm not anti-environmentalism. I think recycling is a good thing. I'm in favor of finding ways to conserve energy. But it's hard to notice the environment if a person's basic needs aren't being met (think about Maslow's hierarchy). We shouldn't have to make choices between people and "the environment." But when the choice arises, let's make sure we choose the needs of people first, and strive--within that paradigm--to make the best choices possible for the environment.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Ideas For Budget Cuts

There is a lot of detail coming out about how some Council Members would cut the City's Budget to reduce the deficit. Some of the proposed changes are big and would be seen as non-starters. One idea that caught my eye would be combining administrative departments (HR, Accounting, etc) between the Police and Fire departments. I think this would work. This would reduce some jobs, most notably management jobs, but it wouldn't greatly affect services.

More Changes at CityBeat

Joe Wessels writes this week that this is his last column for CityBeat, at least until Fall. Joe does not go into detail about the reason for the reduction, but does indicate that it is financial. Additional cuts/changes at the paper are rumored, but not confirmed.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Powderfinger

Look out, Mama, there's a white boat comin' up the river
With a big red beacon, and a flag, and a man on the rail
I think you'd better call John,
'Cause it don't look like they're here to deliver the mail
And it's less than a mile away
I hope they didn't come to stay
It's got numbers on the side and a gun
And it's makin' big waves.


The Hamilton County Sheriff got his boat for keeping Cincinnati's riverfront safe from international fiends where ever they lurk.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

City Budget Woes

What should be done to fix the City's budget deficit?

I would like to know how many police chiefs we actually need. That would just be a dent in the budget shortfall, but it would be a good start. There needs to be a combination of efforts: budget cuts, fee increases, and dare I say a tax increase. Unless someone (I am looking at the Republicans on council) care to propose what can be cut without killing social services or city development, I don't see how some revenue increase is avoidable.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

CAC Robot Is Gone

On Saturday morning I witnessed work crews dismantling the CAC Robot on 5th Street in front of the old CAC across from Government Square.







This morning I walked by again and it was totally gone:


I had hear rumors it might being going someplace other than the CAC. Anyone know where it is headed?

For some older photos check out Make Cincinnati Weird.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

ONLY 18 Picks From CityBeat

There is just nothing to do today. I may just have to stay home. I mean, why can't the Buffalo Killers be playing at Northside Tavern? Cool bands like that aren't from here, they only live in places like Chicago where there is no crime or hate or conservatives. Chicago where everyone is the same, just like me! Chicago, the Suburbs for Hipsters!

Ok, that's enough ragging on the hipsters for now. It appears my post from yesterday got under one self labeled Northside Hipster. I just suppose that particular person doesn't get out much and I was surprised he actually didn't really understand how much he exemplified the type of person I was criticizing.

Also for the record, I really like Northside. I think at least one commenter didn't score well on reading comprehension. That, or he just decided to make stuff up. I am going check off both columns on this one. Also, Average Joe, if you really live in OTR, I expect to see you at Second Sunday on Main tomorrow.

Friday, June 12, 2009

"Nothing" To Do Here

Not long ago I would hear from many quarters of the metro Cincinnati area that there is nothing cool to do here. I'm just going to point out three options for tonight:

1. Wilco at the Aronoff
2. MidPoint's Indie Summer on Fountain Square
3. "A Praire Home Companion" at Riverbend

These are a mere three very cool and fun things happening which is only a sample, so I don't want to hear any Exurbanites or Northside Hipsters complaining. If you can't have fun in Cincinnati, it most likely is your fault. Yes, I just called out the hipsters. I expect I will feel the angst bubble that encompasses Lingo Street burst all the way down on Fountain Square tonight.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Corporate Loyalty Means Something Else to Fifth-Third

In the Corporate world hometowns do not matter. I am glad I bank with PNC and I hope all of the National City branchs start taking my ATM card soon.

Buddakan Closed?


I have not read anything anywhere about this, but after walking by the Buddakan Restaurant this weekend I can only assume that it has closed. There are "Coming Soon" signs on the door, but the front door is padlocked.

Does anyone have any information on this? Online news searches turned up nothing in the local media.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Time To Close The Book On Shadowhare

After several quiet weeks, "Shadowhare" made another public appearance, this one at Mt. Adams Pavilion.  (His appearance was not spontaneous; it had been listed as a selling point for the DERF Happy Hour in the Enquirer's "Five things to do:  Friday" feature.)  Mayoral candidate Jason Haap (through his own alter-ego, political performance artist "Dean of Cincinnati") currently has several Shadowhare-related posts, including video of the young, masked man at the Beacon.

I think it's time the media--both "mainstream" and "alternate"--stop giving "Shadowhare" the attention he so obviously craves.  (Yes, I know:  I just wrote a blog post calling attention to someone I think we should all ignore.)  Based on what I saw in the videos at the Beacon, I strongly suspect that there are is some sort of mental illness that underlies Shadowhare's behavior.  Even Jason's co-blogger, Justin Jeffre, agrees that Shadowhare may have a problem:
I feel sorry for the guy if he really suffered the kind of abuse that he claims he did, but I think this guy might have some serious mental health issues and should probably talk to a mental health professional.
So who cares?  If all Shadowhare does is show up and entertain drunk YP's on a Friday night, what's the harm?  The problem is twofold.  First, I doubt he's going to stop at just entertainment.  Eventually, he's going to do something dangerous.  He'll hurt himself or someone else.  And then we'll all wring our hands at why we didn't get this troubled young man some help, rather than encouragement.  Second, he encourages and emboldens others to act without appropriate training or knowledge.  If he continues to garner attention, someone who is like him--ill but functional--will think "crime-fighting" in a mask is appropriate, attempt it, and get hurt.

A couple caveats:

I don't have any formal training in diagnosing mental illness.  But I work with individuals who suffer from various mental illnesses on a daily or weekly basis, and watching the videos reminds me of the interactions I've had with some of them.

Second, I don't blame or in any way condemn Jason for posting about Shadowhare.  Shadowhare was first publicized by the traditional media, and the blogs have simply followed along.  (Jason, of course, is behaving typically--like a pitbull with a young child's leg in its jaws--by putting up multiple posts, suggesting (or at least hinting) that Shadowhare should be prosecuted, and posting about a fictional organization that jokingly opposes superheroes.)  But maybe, on careful reflection, those of us in the "alternative media" should show the restraint and responsibility so often lacking in the legacy media these days.  And in the meantime, we'll all hope that there's someone in "Shadowhare's" life who is close enough to him to get him the help he needs.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Last Day for CincyFringe

OK, it is time to put up or shut up! I am seeing three Fringe Shows today and that will bring my total to 31 shows, which is all of them. You need to get out and see at least one show today. This is your last chance and you will regret it if you don't go.

Here again are my recommendations for today:

It Might Be OK - 2:00 PM
Sex, Dreams, and Self Control! - 4:30PM
Guns and Chickens - 5:00PM
Cinema Fantastique - 8:00PM
April Fools - 8:30PM
7 (x1) Samurai - 8:30PM
Assholes and Aureoles 9:15PM

Go to www.cincyfringe.com for all of the details.

Friday, June 05, 2009

2 Days of the Cincinnati Fringe Festival Left

There are two days left of Cincinnati Fringe Festival remaining and a ton of great shows to see. The Conveyor has show reviews. Here are shows that top my list and the times they are showing:

Friday:
The Edge - 7:00PM
4 Food Groups - 7:30PM
Gravesongs - 8:30PM
Empire of Feathers - 9:00PM
April Fools - 9:00PM
KAZ/m - 9:00PM
The Success Show - 9:15PM
7 (x1) Samurai - 9:15PM

Saturday
It Might Be OK - 2:00 PM
Sex, Dreams, and Self Control! - 4:30PM
Guns and Chickens - 5:00PM
Cinema Fantastique - 8:00PM
April Fools - 8:30PM
7 (x1) Samurai - 8:30PM
Assholes and Aureoles 9:15PM

See as many as you can and then hit the Underground at the Know Theatre for the Awards Show and finale party.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Who Would You Honor?

The Hamilton County Board of Commissioners is considering inviting five "local civil rights pioneers" to enjoy the Civil Rights Game from the county's suite at Great American Ballpark.

Here's my question:  which local, living civil rights figure would you choose?  I certainly have my own preferences, which I'll keep to myself for now.

We'll Always Have Paris....

Well, I won't. Some of you may always have Paris, but I just wasn't hip enough to have heard the Paris-Hilton-is-coming-to-Cincinnati gossip.

It turns out she spent last night right next door to my apartment building. I couldn't figure out why Bang had a bigger-than-usual Wednesday night crowd, but now I know.

I've previously mentioned here that when Bang opened two years ago, I confidently predicted its quick demise. I figured it'd last about six months. I was wrong, and ultimately I'm glad I was. Even though I'm not young enough, pretty enough, or rich enough to be Bang's target audience, Cincinnati needs places like Bang and Bootsy's. (It also needs places like Madonna's and Nicholson's and Jefferson Hall (come back, J-Hall!); my point is that a diversity of club/bar atmospheres is a good thing.)

When the restaurant being built next to Bang (Boss Cox's) fell through, I wondered if Bang's owners were running out of cash. Apparently not: they're relaunching Bang as new club called Lush later this summer. (At least, I hope this is a real re-launch, and not simply a way to close up shop entirely without being embarassed about doing so.)

Paris: if you're still in town, give me a call or shoot me a text message. We'll hang out.

Cincinnatians Embark On Civil Rights Bike Ride (6/4 Bump and Update)

Originally posted 6/2/09.

Today, Cincinnati civil rights attorney Al Gerhardstein embarked on a 1200-mile bicycle ride from Mobile, Alabama, with his daughter, Jessica. Riding a tandem bike, the two intend to trace the Underground Railroad on their way back home to Cincinnati. They plan to arrive in time for the June 20 Civil Rights Game between the Reds and the White Sox.

You can follow Al and Jessica's journey on their blog, Civil Rights Bike Ride. As Jessica explains in her inaugural post, they are riding to raise money and awareness for the Ohio Justice and Policy Center. For those of you not paying attention, for some time now, OJPC has been leading the way in local criminal justice reform efforts. Most recently, OJPC has been working to eliminate the City's blanket prohibition on hiring convicted felons. Donation links are available either at the CRBR blog or OJPC's website (here's a direct link).

And if any of you are questioning whether a desk-bound attorney in his late fifties in really going to slog through a 1200-mile bike ride just as summer starts to heat up, don't worry about it. Four years ago, Al spent his summer vacation riding from the West Coast to the East Coast.

If you want to join in the fun, a group ride is planned on June 20 at 9:00 am, from Pendrey Park in Melbourne, Kentucky, to Sawyer Point. The suggested donation for the ride is $20, and there'll be help available to get you back to your car, if necessary. (The group ride anticipates people riding their own bikes, not one, really long tandem bicycle.)

UPDATE: Al has made his first appearance on the blog. I gave pretty short shrift to explaining OJPC's mission or the purpose of Al and Jessica's ride. Al does a better job:
Read about OJPC. Quietly OJPC is challenging the status quo. A prison population that is 50% black is intolerable. A prison population that exceeds 55,000 in this state is intolerable. Treating as criminal many acts that are driven by drug dependence is intolerable. Sweeping into the criminal system drug addicts and mentally ill folks and then doing little to help them conquer their underlying problem is intolerable.
Go read the whole post. It's well worth the time.

36 Reasons Streetcars Are Better Than Buses

There are more than 36, I am sure, but the Cincy-Streetcar Blog has the list.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Totally Random Observation

Did anyone else know that in El Paso, Texas, there's a group of bars and clubs known as the "Cincinnati Entertainment District?" Apparently, it's so named because the bars are either on or near Cincinnati Avenue....

Another Transportation Alternative

A few weeks ago, a friend suggested a blog post topic: the need for some sort of transportation service that connects Cincinnati's entertainment districts. She was right. We really could use a shuttle or bus that connects downtown, Mt. Lookout/Hyde Park/Oakley, Mt. Adams, Clifton (perhaps), Northern Kentucky, and wherever people gather west of Vine Street (I'm kidding, West Siders....please no effigy burnings today!). This isn't an alternative to the streetcar, since the streetcar, even if it happens, will only connect Clifton and downtown. When we talked about it, I thought the most likely provider of such a service would be Metro, but that there'd be a lot of red tape to cut through at SORTA to make it happen.

My blog rantings have been pretty sporadic lately, and I never got around to it. But a couple weeks ago, this same friend linked to a new business on her Facebook page. It sounds intriguing: the CincyZipLine. They hope to open this July and aim to provide transportation to and from "designated hot spots" for three bucks per person on Friday and Saturday nights.

Cincy ZipLine is apparently too hip for an actual website, but they do have a Twitter feed and a FB page. My initial reaction is that it's a good idea. It reminds me of what, in college, we lovingly referred to as "the drunk van," a convenient way to get to and from establishments where alcohol is consumed without risking an OVI or worrying about parking. Of course, it appears that ZipLine will only ferry you between bars and clubs, and you'll be on your own to get home, but it's still provides a service presently lacking in the city.

Hamburger Mary's To Reopen

Great news for Cincinnati Hamburger Mary's is reopening this summer at the same location (909 Vine St.).