21 July 2009

Reunion - Does Anything Really Change

My old mates from the 1980s DAAP returned to Cincinnati this past weekend. They came from all over the country had a few beers together, then they all quickly left again. Most of them have not been to Cincinnati in 20 years and will likely not come back soon.

Back in 1989 our lives were completely in flux. Most of us moved several times in that first year out of school. It's hard to remember, but back then, none of us had ever heard of email much less Facebook. We lost track of each other, and I really never thought I would see them again. I kept in touch with one or two of my best friends. Sometimes in my work, I will run into one old classmate who stayed in Cincinnati, but not very often.

But here they all were, re-assembled for a short weekend. I guess my first impression is that the essence of a person does not change over time. It was almost like we had just been away for 20 days, not 20 years. And unfortunately, that was their impression of Cincinnati. Several of them remarked to me that driving down Vine Street from Clifton was like going back into a time warp. Nothing had changed. "So much potential..." I heard that phrase over and over.

I made my attempt at showing the positives. I took a small group on a tour of Downtown, Clifton and OTR. And even though they demanded we see the starchitecturual icons, I don't think they found the Eisenman, Gehry, Libeskind or Hadid buildings the most memorable. I took them to a few OTR rehabs, including a building on Broadway that is being lovingly restored. They were fascinated with the quality of the buildings. And when we went all the way to the rooftop and saw OTR spread in front of us with the church steeples, the distant hills and the curve of the river, they were again blabbering about "the potential" of it all.

So I did my duty as ambassador until Sunday 1pm when I drove some to the airport. Sitting at the Delta Check-in door were three other classmates heading east. I said, come back in 5 years and it will be even better. "Yeah, OK..." They made a crack about Walter Cronkite actually dying 5 years ago, and it just now making the front page of the Enquirer. That was pretty funny.

Then I drove back home through Florence Y'all, back up 75. I turned on the radio and first heard Jimmy Buffet. The next station was country. The next had a DJ saying that Cheap Trick was coming to concert and "Next up.. some Jude-aass Priest..." Ugh.


Radarman said...

You were right to make the effort. It takes a very long time to alter received wisdom. Intellectual laziness is the order of the day, not just her but in the rest of the country as well.

It sure is tiresome doing battle, though.

Unknown said...

I just discovered your blog. Actually, a friend discovered it and shared it with me because she assumed correctly that I would like it. My husband, two-year old daughter and I live on 4th Street in downtown Cincinnati. We really love raising our daughter in the city. I'm really looking forward to going back through some of your archives and keeping up with future posts. Thanks!

Travis Estell said...

Excellent post. Continue to spread the word about Cincinnati's improvements and I will do the same.

VisuaLingual said...

Great essay, Mike.

CityKin said...

I've not been as child focused as I originally intended. But I hope to keep family as an undercurrent through all these various urban posts.

I see from your blog that you already know about the best kept pool secret: the Mt Adam's Pool! Maybe I'll see you up there some Sunday!

Paul Wilham said...

As long as they still use the word "potential" it's a good thing. Means they don't see Cincinnati as a lost cause.

I know where you are coming from. Everytime I take my out of state Historic Preservationists friends/architectural junkies, around though they don't use the word "potential". They use the word AMAZING, amazing so much of it is still here and restorable. BUT equally amazed its not all restored.

But I guess if you are a local or used to be one, you see it differently.

I hope one year the National Trust for Historic Preservation would hold their convention in Cincinnati. It would be, well AMAZING! and put this city on the map architecturally.

Todd McFarland said...

Paul, how could we make a National Trust convention a reality? It doesn't hurt that OTR is on their "endangered list". We can turn that into something positive.