the categorical days: Cincinnati

February 20, 2006

tour of the neighborhood

Shoe repair at Casablanca Vintage Clothing

I spent a few hours on Presidents Day with a handful of ladies from the Cincinnati Arts Association touring Northside.

Some stores were closed (a Monday thing), but we did manage to grab coffee, browse through a vintage store, a musty hardware joint, Bughouse Video and a final bite at Melt.

We went to places I haven't been yet, and I made a checklist of places to check out.

Good times.

Now it's Friday and I'm feeling a little under the weather with a bit of a stomach bug, so I'll likely try to fill in some of the blanks through the week. Pardon multiple inane postings.

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February 17, 2006

Sigur Rós

Live at the Taft Theatre

The quartet Amina opened the show tonight, building loops of strings, percussion and other oddities—a saw, a music box, and a laptop to name a few.

My friend joked they were checking their email, but humor took a back seat as we zoned out and let the music carry us through landscapes of sound.

The respectful silence of the crowd during the quiet bits suggested everyone was enjoying the ride.

This set the tone for the headliner, Sigur Rós, emerging behind a veil with simple lights casting exaggerated shadows. Which was fitting as their sound seemed much bigger than the handful of folks making it.

Half the fun was watching how they made their music. A bow on electric guitar, drumming on the bass, Amina providing a backdrop of strings, tied together with vocals that allow thinking about everything and nothing.

A perfect interlude for dramatic weather.

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February 09, 2006

Summer Skin

Death Cab for Cutie

This link deserves it's own entry as a friend of mine worked on the video and it was shot here in Cincinnati. It's part of the "Directions" project for Death Cab's latest album Plans. Each week, a new video is featured from a different director/group.

Summer Skin is playing this week. (requires quicktime)

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February 04, 2006

Park Chili


It wasn't until a couple of weeks ago when I was chatting with a local band at the radio station that I learned about Park Chili–exactly the type of joint I like to visit on a Saturday.

I'd passed it many a time, but couldn't make out anything through the steamed-up windows.

I've been there a few times now. It's cheap. Food's good. But it's more about the ambience and local color.

The cook/cashier has a brazen attitude, barking at customers to hold their horses as he tends to juggling hats. A worn Arkanoid machine sits by the front door. Jelly or apple butter comes from a big jar as a dollop next to your toast.

For about five bucks you can get a heart attack on a plate. It's called a “Ham Mess” (also available in goetta or bacon). Essentially it's vegetables, potatoes, eggs, meat, and cheese, smothered in gravy. (Here's a photo)

During the meal, mom called and asked me if I'd seen the big flakes of snow outside. I had indeed, but was sad to note, it's not really sticking.

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February 03, 2006


City upside-down

Long, productive week. Hopefully will have time to reflect this weekend.

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January 29, 2006

at the Cincinnati Art Museum

Eve Disconsolate (more about sculpture)

Today was fantastic. The weather was spring-like, but don't think I'm not against a snow day.

Went to the museum to catch Borrowed Time: The Photograph as Music Album Cover. And while it was great to see true prints of some excellent work, I was a little miffed by the small reproductions of the album covers themselves — almost seemed like color copies. Seeing how the crops were made and history behind the works was great. So much that I'd have liked the exhibit to have been twice the size.

There were iPods at a few stations, playing music from the albums, but it seemed uncomfortable to stand there, apart from the work. I'd have liked an audio tour with clips in context.

Afterward, stopped by Trader Joes and stocked up on French style flat bread with ham, carmelized onions and gruyere cheese. Cooked according to directions (avoiding burnt), it's a sin. A tasty one.

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January 20, 2006

crosstown shootout

Rivalry since 1953

Round these parts, if you give a hoot about college basketball, you're glued to the UC/Xavier game.

Me? I see it as an opportunity for wings.

A small group assembled at the Buffalo Wild Wings joint. I remember it as BW-3, but our server couldn't identify what that third "W" was all about. I thought it was for "weck" and everybody gave me a blank look.

According to their site, I am right—and thank goodness for wikipedia, now I know what weck means (basically a Kaiser roll topped with lots of pretzel salt and caraway seeds).

As for the rest of the story, XU won even though they couldn't make a 3-point shot. I was glad for a couple reasons; they were technically the home team (even though these universities are 3.4 miles apart), and all the UC fans around us were drunk messes. Not to be confused with hot messes.

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January 18, 2006


Just a little bit

Tomorrow? Almost 60° supposedly.

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January 10, 2006

‘round Northside

Some artwork by Elaine Lynch hanging by the cash register at the video store

When the work whistle blew I took a walk to find food and entertainment.

A stop at Bughouse and I scored The 40 year Old Virgin and some other stuff. I'm just a few dozen minutes into the flick and I had to look up what a "Cincinnati Bowtie" was. And when I found out the answer, I laughed long, and heartily.

Back to the day, I stopped by a new joint called Melt (can't find a link, but here's a bigger shot of the menu board) which touts eclectic cuisine.

UPDATE: MELT Official website

I got the tuna

The potato soup was weird, so much I thought it wasn't potato soup. But the sandwich was excellent and the house slaw made with ginger and red cabbage was fantastic.

Another high point was the cupcake for dessert. Chocolate caramel with heavenly frosting. Essentially it was rich chocolate cupcake, with a good hint of caramel. I ate every last moist crumb. It was shipped in from Take the Cake.

Okay, now that's outta my system. Back to the movie, it was hilarious.

Support knowledge and the Cincinnati bowtie, visit one of these advertisers:

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January 04, 2006


A new football field for Western Hills High School
Glenway Avenue

A random thought, completely unrelated to the photo:

No, Isaac Mizrahi, I will not clap because you demand it.

I also will not wave my hand in the air for hip-hop.

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December 24, 2005

Downtown lights

Through the window

For the holidays, they light the PNC Bank Building in reds and greens.

On the corner setting up tripod, I heard someone singing a Sarah McLaughlin song at a joint called the Federal Reserve Piano Lounge. Seemed appropriate to have a drink.

Inside was a snapshot of some bygone era, save for the CNN glowing on the tv in the corner.

Another view of the tower from outside.

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December 10, 2005


Wesleyan Memorial Cemetery

Couple blocks back from my place sits this small cemetery. With the snowfall, it almost looked like a real life black and white photo.

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November 29, 2005

The other side of town

A classic

Sunday afforded a leisurely start to the day, driving over to Mariemont for breakfast. The Frisch's was passed for a much better meal at the National Exemplar.

I love breakfast.

Highly recommended: Barb's Bloody Mary

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November 19, 2005


Just in case you forget which city this is...

That building... to the left (zoom)... the one that spells out CINCINNATI in big letters made of angled panels... that's the new expansion to our convention center.

That lettering is apparently a part of the final design, not just a happenstance temporary byproduct of construction scaffolding.

That's not all. The color scheme of the Cinergy Center plays strongly on its Cincinnati home and includes clay or brick color to represent the soil along the Ohio River, which will progress into the indigos and blues and greens of the river along the main concourse. (source)

I suppose the saving grace here, is that there aren't too many vantage points where you can see this eyesore. Though a passing comment made me realize, perhaps this is the new HOLLYWOOD of the midwest.

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November 06, 2005

Autumn, extended

Looking out a friend's window

They (being those pesky weathermen) keep saying it's going to get cold yesterday. But the unusually warm weather keeps hanging on, and I'm fine with that.

PhotosS'more photos (leaves and more leaves)

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October 25, 2005


School was letting out

I usually don't look much beyond my periphery when driving—nervous nelly perhaps. At a stoplight however, I glanced over to a sidestreet up in Mt. Airy and was just sorta taken aback by the panorama, fall spectrum, and a building I'd never seen.

Zoom in, you can see it better.

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September 19, 2005

Oktoberfest Zinzinnati


I once thought that I kept all my old videogame consoles for retirement, where I would go back through and finally finish titles like Kid Icarus and Ico and (the list goes on)...

Now I know what I'll really be doing is sorting through gigs and gigs of photos, deleting the ones I should have decades ago, filing and labeling. Maybe there will be a more natural interface by then, where I can shout at slideshows and everything happens transparently.

The weekend was jam packed and with autumn approaching, there's no shortage of things to do. I'll attempt some recapping.

Oktoberfest was the perfect planned attack on the downtown yesterday, even with the Bengals game and other events that made parking scarce.

I had a beer, a brat and a creampuff.

I'm sad I missed the World's Largest Chicken Dance, led by Uncle Al and Windy (two local tv personalities that had a children's show in the 70's), but it was nice to know they aren't dead.

PhotosSome extra photos from the afternoon.

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September 04, 2005

Riverfest 2005


Been busy this past weekend acting as tour guide of the city, which always reveals some new angle I haven't seen. The big to-do at the end of the weekend was watching fireworks from afar. Cincinnati's big hair rock station has been behind this show for years. Reports say it draws up to 500,000 folks.

I went down to the riverfront once. Once. Where the immersion is spectacular, but the lines to the port-o-lets and beer push my buttons in ways I cannot articulate.

So now I take advantage of any offer to catch the display from a safe distance.

I made Cincinnati style chili dip (chili, cream cheese, shredded cheddar) for the first time and there are no reports of any illness, so I suppose it worked out okay.

The weather was fantastic. Just grand.

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July 13, 2005

Margaret Garner

at the Cincinnati Opera

I went to the dress rehearsal of Margaret Garner last night at Music Hall. They do a full run through for family, friends and the press. The ticket read "No Cameras" and I complied, capturing this billboard on the way home in lieu of something on stage.

And what a something it was...

A while back I declared my disdain for opera. I don't get the cadence of it, pining instead for more distinct melodies. It always seems so... tragic. This makes me fidget.

But this one made the hairs on the back of my arms stand up ever so slightly from time to time, and I actually teared up a few moments.

Long story short, some spoilers: A woman is tried for killing her children so they won't have to grow up in slavery. The courts have to decide if she should be charged with destruction of property or murder. The latter would provide legal discourse that slaves were indeed human.

I was a bit shocked when the judges sang that the law and the Bible was on their side (in support of the "destruction of property" charge.) I was expecting some controversy—just not that angle.

Overall it was thought provoking and well played out (in English mind you.) I think I have a better understanding of how tragedy plays into this art form and I'm proud that Cincinnati is part of the commission that had this piece created.

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July 04, 2005

Northside parade

The Ladies Auxiliary Lawnchair Brigade

So this year's Independence Day Parade in Northside seemed a bit light on the wacky side and a bit heavy on the politicians, but overall—thoroughly enjoyable.

We didn't wave as much or clap as hard for the Republicans. Though I admit there's a certain tiresome antic about wrapping folks into these two political camps. With Sandra Day O'Connor stepping down, I think the label I'm drawn to most is "moderate."

The real fun wasn't on the street though, but over at my mom's place.

She and my brother, with a little help from family and friends, have turned a non-descript house along the parade route into a slice of paradise. Thriving garden out back and lots of interesting bits lining the walls and surfaces inside. Holidays mean themes and that means the place was fit for a magazine spread on Americana.

Quite a spread of vittles catered to every taste and I've got a plate in the fridge for a midnight snack.

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July 04, 2005

Kuliga Park through suburbia

Rozzi's fireworks in Green Township

Delved deeper into the westside last night for a potluck that ended in some excellent fireworks. I didn't know too many folks at first, but there was cornhole, and camera buffs—so we got along swimmingly.

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June 18, 2005

More inside

Dalton Avenue (on the way home from downtown)

A sprawling day that really started to take shape after the work whistle blew and I found myself walking around the neighborhood for no particular reason other than the (incredibly) nice weather.

I wandered into the record store to look for some props in the truest definition of the word. Shake It has lots of good things besides music lining their walls. After some hedging I walked out with a lighter wallet and across the street for dinner. Potluck's combined patio with the neighboring tavern was packed.

Vibrant mood. Hip folks with tattoos and coifed hair in that messy I don't want you to think I care kinda way. I got my cuban sandwich boxed and headed up to the video store to find they had two selections I'd been hoping to catch. I spoke briefly with the man behind the counter there as he questioned the contents of a box I was carrying. That turned into a bit of a soapbox about technology, the distribution of media, and ultimately, how important people still are to the equation.

Back home through alleys, hands heavy with boxes, bags and vittles, I passed some kids smoking out back of an unknown establishment and they looked taken aback by my trespass. They seemed harmless though, and I avoided some puddles looking down.

In all, it seems boring to relay, but I can't contain the optimism that this part of town has under it's rough exterior.

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June 13, 2005

Cincinnati Pride Parade

The day, yesterday

Chris: We're pushed for time, can you sum it up in a word?
Spartacus Mills: No.
Chris: A sound?
Spartacus: Woouueerrrr.
Chris: Spartacus, thank you.

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June 11, 2005


On State Avenue

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June 11, 2005

Hours Apart

Cincinnati skyline

It rained yesterday. The good kind of steady rain complete with lighting and thunder. Not a good day for swimming.

Same view, a bit later

The smoke drifting off in this photo is from "PyroMusical Night" — the post-game fireworks show with soundtrack that happens at the end of (some) Reds games.

We lost to Baltimore.

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June 05, 2005


Putz’s Creamy Whip

No obligations on a lazy Saturday. I woke up early and made myself a big breakfast, going back to sleep during the hottest part of the day. Bored with that, I needed to drive around and charge my phone because I left my wall-charger at the construction site.

Aimless, I gravitated toward a dairy bar Kate told me to try. Putz's lived up to the expectation she set—real bananas in their shakes, none of that yellow artificial squirt stuff.

Afterward I started to drive up around Mt. Airy forest to find a lake she also mentioned. No luck, but I did manage to take a small hike down to a creek and escape the din of urban life.

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May 28, 2005

Memorial Day weekend

Mt. Adams as viewed from Newport, KY

There's been a handful of nice views lately, where I find myself saying, "Man, I like my hometown."

It doesn't feel dense and overpopulated.

Justification? Perhaps. Maybe it's been the nice weather.

For now though, I'll relish, but get outta dodge anyway. It's a holiday weekend and I feel the need to test my social claustrophobia.

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May 24, 2005

Bughouse Video

Northside gets something it needed

It was my first trip to this new independent video store with art house bent. I tried to get What the Bleep Do We Know, but it was out, opting for Tarnation instead.

On a related note: there's talk that a Walgreens is going to move in on the main drag where a lumberyard used to reside. We've already got a pharmacy here in this small community. I'm not sure the big benefit of having this chain muck up the landscape.

What we really need is a nice laundromat and some good Chinese takeout. I thought it'd be fun to combine the two and call the place, Ancient Chinese Secret.

Bad name, I know, but better than (insert something) + Wok.

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May 20, 2005

The corner of 7th and Walnut

Friday evening

My friend Brandon came in town the other day on his way to Colorado—on his way I should add, to live in the mountains and be a rafting guide.

He got to see a slice of my life on Friday as I started the day frantically clicking on last minute projects, then off for a couple events where I wielded a camera.

At one point we found ourselves downtown by the theatre with musicians outside, mounted police and a lone protester urging folks to boycott Cincinnati.

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May 13, 2005

Bacchanalian Society

Pictures got blurrier as the evening progressed

I enjoyed an evening of mega-wine tasting at the Old St. George Church (now a community center with questionable legs for the future.)

It was my first experience with The Bacchanalian Society—a small event that ballooned to venue bursting proportions after an article appeared in the local newspaper a few years back.

The premise is simple—teams of three people bring 3 bottles of a certain wine. Categories change each go round, and this time it was all about Merlot. Two bottles are bagged and numbered and placed on tables. Rating sheets and pencils are provided. The highest bottle I tasted was, I think, #251—I'm sure there were more.

At the end of the night, the "best" wine gets everyone else's third bottle. The loser has to take their remaining bottle back.

There's money raised for charity, but also, it's an opportunity to mingle and check out the latest hairstyles.

Even with my flop sweating, ill-fitted khakis and disdain for Merlot, it was good times.

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April 20, 2005

Riots, restaurants, footlongs and soft serve

The dairy bar is open

I had a meeting downtown. The city bustles in the light of weekdays, but the crowd disappears in the evening. We’ve never recovered fully from the race riots in 2000 they say — that’s apparently one reason why a restaurant like the Masionette is moving to the burbs.

It’s either fallout from riots, or everyone is over at Newport on the Levee because all we have are two monster stadiums on our side of the river.

Gosh, this sounds all negative — when in fact I had a splendid day. After the meeting I stopped by the dairy bar on the way home.

I had a hot dog.
It tasted real good.
I suppose I should now watch a movie from Hollywood.

They do have those nice theaters in Kentucky...

Related entry: October 2, 2003
When I actually posted lyrics for Soft Serve by Soul Coughing

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March 21, 2005

Omni Netherland Plaza Hotel

It's now a Hyatt but I liked the old name better

This National Historic Landmark in the meat of downtown Cincinnati has a supposed ghost wandering the place — the wife of a laborer killed during construction of the hotel in 1930.

Highlights of the interior include a Hall of Mirrors, and lots of deco geometry on a grand scale. I figured there would be good light this afternoon as I headed back from the coffee chain, but really I don't think it's possible to take a bad photo of this place.

More information about the hotel is available on the The College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning website. You can also navigate back out on their site to read up on other significant architecture in the area.

PhotosAlso, here is a larger version of the photo if you'd like to see some of the detail. (330KB)

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March 18, 2005


Good light

Today was almost warm.

Diggin’ it.

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March 13, 2005

Another Flea Market

Fine art for 7 bucks

I was determined when I got home yesterday, to find out the origin of the phrase flea market .

According to Oxford Dictionary experts:

Flea Market comes from the French marche aux puces, a name originally given to a market in Paris. The fleas were thought to be in the goods, because they were of the kind to attract vermin. The earliest English use we have found dates from 1922.

Went up north to Caesar Creek. It was like a small mirrored copy of the market we went to last weekend, saturated with the same type of merchants:

  • overpriced used videogames/movies
  • t-shirts with iron-on hunting scenes
  • plenty of imported knock-off products
  • another scientology booth
  • one vendor (pictured above) that actually sold old junk. He even did it with some sideshow air, complete with bowler hat and a mechanical arm to grab things way up high

Add one tacky framed print into my hands. Oh, and a jar of chow chow from a booth that sold old fashioned candy and whatnot.

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March 12, 2005


Coffee House

I stopped by the coffee house up in Ludlow with a friend last night after some good pizza and salad at Deweys. If my fridge magically had all the ingredients for their house salad, I believe I would eat it every day.

I say that, but I know cravings come in fits and spurts. I barely hit Panera for their potato soup anymore. Maybe it's a lot like earworms, there's some science to the arc of things.

The coffee went down well, but I found using a laptop is pretty useless when you're trying to carry a conversation. A girl at the table next to us did want to get a better view of the Star Wars trailer though. I finally figured out bitorrent. We chatted about expectations and some geekery, then it was time to close the laptop and come up with our own topics.

PhotosA couple more photos from the coffee shop

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