30 September 2009

Wild Side Snuggie

Get Wild you couch potatoes!!!:

Fantasy Fest in Covington

Just learned about this event. Sounds like a lot of fun. I'll definitely be checking it out.

First Annual Fantasy Fest
Sat, Oct 3 Noon to 11pm, Mainstrasse, Covington, KY
The Festival hopes to attract families to visit the Village, hunt for the decorated doors, explore local merchants, enjoy free entertainment, and browse the art and craft booths.

Evening events are planned featuring the Fantasy Parade at 5:30 p.m. with unicycles, clowns, and stilt walkers, followed by the Razzamatazz Gala at Leapin Lizard, 8th & Main Streets. read more

The Festival hopes to attract families to visit the Village, hunt for the decorated doors, explore local merchants, enjoy free entertainment, and browse the art and craft booths.

Evening events are planned featuring the Fantasy Parade at 5:30 p.m. with unicycles, clowns, and stilt walkers, followed by the Razzamatazz Gala at Leapin Lizard, 8th & Main Streets. The Gala includes a benefit auction for the Baker Hunt Arts Center Scholarship Program.

29 September 2009

Metropole Should Stay

An article in the Business Courier and Streetvibes both report that a deal is in the works to close the Metropole Apartment building and convert it to an expensive boutique hotel. I think this is a big mistake, and I will explain why.

In my short memory, downtown once had many of these kind of places. Now there just two, the Metropole and the Dennison. Sometimes called Single Room Occupancy (SROs) or coldwater flats, these are small apartments, often with shared toilet facilities and minimal if any kitchen facilities, often charging rent by the week. They are just about the cheapest housing to be found. Charging by the week allows the landlord to classify the rooms as hotels and thus avoid leases and lenghty eviction procedures. If the tenant doesn't pay that week, the lock can simply be changed.

The people who rent at places like this are often single and just one step above homelessness:

Often, they are people without family help. They may be collecting social security or they may be dishwashers at a downtown restaurant. They may be a panhandler or an alcoholic. But they live among us day to day and 99% of them cause no harm to other residents or visitors to downtown other than to pass us on the sidewalk and look unkempt or ask for a cigarette.

Like I said, at one time there were many SRO apartments downtown. There was the Milner Hotel, which was on Garfield with 115 units. It was demolished and replaced by Towne Properties' Greenwich on the Park in the 1990s.

There was also the Fort Washington, on Main Street. The Lafayette on 8th, and of course there was the YMCA, which closed it's SRO just a few years ago.

I encourage you to read this Enquirer article from 1999 about the possible closing of the Fort Washington. It paints an honest picture of the people involved.

Fort Washington overall:

Thirty years ago there were over 1700 SRO type units in the CBD. That number is now 325. If the Metropole is closed it leaves only the Dennison with it's 105 rooms and 60 baths:

The back of The Dennison:

There is some cheap housing in the CBD like these units on Court Street. Not really an SRO, but if you can manage a lease, monthly payments and utility bills, this is an option:

But the problem is that many of the people who live in SROs cannot make it in standard rental housing. They cannot sign yearly leases. They cannot collect a month's deposit. They cannot get utilities on in their name, and they especially cannot pay higher rents. And you could blame them as another blogger has and say they are lazy or shiftless, (maybe some of them are) but the fact is they are human beings and this kind housing serves their needs. Without this, many of them will be on the street:

In fact I believe that the continual removal of this type of housing is one of the major reasons for an increase in people staying at shelters like the Drop Inn Center.

Commentors on the Enquirer website don't know it yet, but downtown Cincinnati is changing and growing a lot. Between the Banks, Queen City Square, the new offices, dozens of new restaurants, a constantly packed Fountain Square and the hundreds of new condos, things are moving fast. It is a great place to live and getting better.

Look at this graph of Downtown Residential Growth made by DCI:

In two years they project that the CBD will have over 7,000 residents, and the trend is upward from there. My question is can't we commit to at least 5% (350) of them being very low income people? I don't think that is unreasonable.

After all SROs make the most sense downtown. It is downtown where single men can walk to their jobs at the stadium or as janitor in an office building. It is downtown where a guy can walk to half a dozen places and get a free dinner. Even if someone were to build a new SRO, which I don't think anyone is, why would you build it in Price Hill or Avondale? Yes the land is cheaper, but does it make sense?

In progressive cities, SROs are being newly built as part of an overall housing strategy. See L.A., Chicago, and Portland among many others.

One of the things that attracts people to an urban environment is the diversity and jumble of people. I personally love rubbing shoulders with everyone from the beggar to the councilmember. The older man in the photo way uptop, we met at Skyline, and as we were leaving, we literally bumped into ex-mayor Charlie Luken. I love that. Happenstantial meetings are what a vibrant city is all about.

And many people say they want this diversity, but when the places that house the poor are being removed (and not being replaced) people say "well that is the market". I'm not so sure that this hotel will not receive city funding, but either way, do we want the market to continually drive up prices and drive out people until we have the same segregated type neighborhoods that typify the suburbs? I say no.

Here, we have a place where over 200 poor people live mostly peacefully, next to some of the most upscale places in our downtown.

Kids playing next to the Metropole:

The Metropole should be rehabbed, but not as a hotel, rather it should be rehabbed as a better SRO for the poor.

I think a Boutique Hotel is also a fine idea. There are several vacant buildings nearby that would work well:

Or this block:

Living with all kinds of people is part of the reality of living in the city and I really want people to think about this issue. It goes to the heart of what kind of city we want Cincinnati to be.

Your opinion?

27 September 2009


Posted by Picasa

A Photo of Tinks

...in Frankfort KY:

Blimp at Lunken

We saw this blimp above downtown and raced it to Lunken Field, (where we had a soccer game). I was completely surprised how fast it was. We went as fast as possible along Columbia Parkway, but it beat us. We had to follow the meander of the river and it cut over Dayton KY.  

I Wanted to Ask Him the Same Question

Mr. Beck, what is "white culture"?:
"ehh,,emm, uhuhuuuuhhh.aaaa,.. uhh....duhh.."

25 September 2009

Default Death Panel

Kimi Young, 22 a young vibrant woman with her whole life ahead of her died Tuesday of H1N1 Virus. She had two degrees, worked two jobs, but did not have health insurance:
Young became ill about two weeks ago, but didn’t seek care initially because she didn’t have health insurance and was worried about the cost, according to Brent Mowery, her friend and former roommate.

Mowery said Young eventually went to an urgent care facility in Hamilton where she was given pain medication and then sent home.

On Tuesday, Sept. 22, Young’s condition suddenly worsened and her roommate drove her to McCullough Hyde Memorial Hospital in Oxford, where she was flown in critical condition to University Hospital in Cincinnati.

“That’s the most tragic part about it. If she had insurance, she would have gone to the doctor,” Mowery said.

22 September 2009


I'm going offline for a few days because of work deadlines. Check back next week.

Recess Before Lunch

My kids often return from school with their lunchboxes still full. They say there is not enough time to eat, and they rush outside to play for their already minimal recess time. This article in the Hamilton Journal News. I agree, but also think the whole recess and lunch time should be expanded and the school day lengthened at least half an hour:
...“Teachers and researchers saw better behavior at and after meal time when it followed recess,”

...many districts curtailed or cut recess time to better deal with testing mandates from the No Child Left Behind Act.

...the recess reduction actually takes away from a child’s ability to function in a classroom.

...According to the study, teachers and researchers saw better behavior at and after meal time when it followed recess.

...The CDC, the United States Department of Agriculture, the National Food Service Management Institute and Action for Healthy Kids support the “Recess Before Lunch” initiative.

...“Finding time to engage in social interactions helps children better communicate, share and cooperate,” ...

21 September 2009

I Love KY

It's great having such a varied, mostly rural state so close to us. I'm not really into the horse farms, but the rest of the State, from Harlan County to the Missippi farmlands, it is a fantastic place. A few shots here from this weekend:

East Family Dwelling

Barrels of Bourbon:

Copper Still:

Old Mill Site, Spring coming out of rocks:

20 September 2009

Where Am I

Can anyone name this?

19 September 2009

Shrimp Boil

These Clifton neighbors know how to throw a birthday party for a 5 year old!

18 September 2009

Ordinary Obama is Drivin'em Crazy

During my morning podcast listen, I heard a replay of both Limbaugh and Beck going crazy, insane really, hyping McCarthy and making a schoolbus fistfight into the apocalypse for white people. Ta-Nehisi Coates' response:
....But Barack Obama, bourgeois in every way that bourgeois is right and just, will not dance. He tells kids to study--and they seethe. He accepts an apology for an immature act of rudeness--and they go hysterical. He takes his wife out for a date--and their veins bulge. His humanity, his ordinary blackness, is killing them. Dig the audio of his response to Kanye West--the way he says, "He's a jackass." He sounds like one of my brothers. And that's the point, because that's what he is. Barack Obama refuses to be their nigger. And it's driving them crazy.

It's about time.

Green Cities not Green Gadgets

The problem in the sustainability campaign is that a basic truth has been lost, or at least concealed. Rather than trying to change behavior to actually reduce carbon emissions, politicians and entrepreneurs have sold greening to the public as a kind of accessorizing. -Rybczynski in the Atlantic

Walking To School Controversy Again

The simple act of letting a second grader walk a block and a half to school has generated 186 comments on the NY Times website. Fascinating.

At our kid's school, I have noticed that there are some kids that ride bikes to school, surely a rarity today. I don't know what the appropriate age is to allow this, but I am sure I will recognize it in my kids.

17 September 2009

Northside Woman on Survivor Tonight

I heard Marisa Calihan on the radio this morning. She will be on Survivor tonight. She talked about how great Northside is and about living there while going to high school at SCPA and Purcell. She kept saying how great she thought Cincinnati was. I am not a big fan of the show, but listening to her made me want to watch and cheer her on.

Pohlar Cafe

This old little bar closed last year when someone bought the building and liquor license :

According to Time magazine, this bar was home to a Championship Softball team in 1938.:
...the men's championship went to the Pohlar's Cafe team of Cincinnati (owned by the proprietors of a German beer garden), whose pitcher, Clyde Kirkendall, had pitched 127 consecutive scoreless innings (a record) earlier in the season.
[where: 1432 Vine Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202]

The same person that bought the Pohlar Cafe also bought these buildings in the midst of OTR Community Housing's new project on Pleasant Street, and is giving them a quick once-over:

[where: 1425 Pleasant Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202]

16 September 2009

Objectivist Childhood

.....Around the age of five, Alissa Rosenbaum's (aka Ayn Rand's) mother instructed her to put away some of her toys for a year. She offered up her favorite possessions, thinking of the joy that she would feel when she got them back after a long wait. When the year had passed, she asked her mother for the toys, only to be told she had given them away to an orphanage. Heller remarks that "this may have been Rand's first encounter with injustice masquerading as what she would later acidly call ‘altruism.’ " (The anti-government activist Grover Norquist has told a similar story from childhood, in which his father would steal bites of his ice cream cone, labelling each bite "sales tax" or "income tax." The psychological link between a certain form of childhood deprivation and extreme libertarianism awaits serious study.)

From an interesting article here on Randites and their influence on the GOP.

Everybody's Records CDs and Tapes


Inside they have these MP3 players that work off the UPC code of the CD in your hand, which I've never seen before, but are probably everywhere:

I feel at home in a record store. But with Pandora and iTunes etc, I'm not really buying anymore, just looking.

[where: 6106 Montgomery Rd., Cincinnati, OH 45213]

15 September 2009

Blackwell and Palin Two Peas in a Pod

Local Clifton resident, former City Councilmember, and former Secretary of State (of Ohio), Ken Blackwell clearly has delusional presidential ambitions. He resurfaces this week with an editorial claiming that not only does Obama want to kill Grandma, but your injured war vet too. These idiots have no shame.

A couple responses to his article are excellent:
..."Your Life-Your Choices," was not deep-sixed as you claim by the Bush administration, it was re-issued several times. The Obama administration simply re-issued the booklet with updates to language inside, like any other yearly publication.

Pre-counseling veteran's returning from war with debilitating life long injuries to take note of depression and suicidal thoughts is not "a sharp kick?" towards government murder. It is a booklet to help prevent suicide, and to prepare soldiers who's conditions are life-long to make smart educated decisions about any future care like being kept alive on a feeding tube, or DNR orders on the operating table.

You are lying to anyone who reads this article for partisan political purposes. You are doing our soldiers a great disservice by unfairly painting a document provided for their and their families benefit as a government death squad. You are intellectually bankrupt, and morally specious.

...Getting counseling on how to protect yourself and ensure you own wishes and medical decisions is extremely important so as to EMPOWER patients to have control over their end of life care. The whole point is that countless people end up in situations where they have not made their wishes clear, which can be incredibly traumatic for their families. No one is trying to kill them off: they're trying to encourage people to think seriously about what they DO want, and make sure they've taken the steps to ensure it clearly.

Opportunistic harpies like Blackwell and Palin are using this issue to score cheap points at the expense of an actual and very serious issue. In the process they are going to leave a lot of people without clear directives, access to counseling, and so forth. It's absolutely disgusting.

1810 Elm Standing Open

1810 Elm is a great building, right next to the Findlay Market Playground. It was occupied up until a year or two ago with subsidized housing. Now it is vacant, and recently purchased by Fred Berger. The door is open, and it is obvious by the bottles, cans, condoms and general garbage in the entryway that it is used regularly as a gathering place by people who drink, drug and smoke. If it stays open like this it is only a question of time before it is a victim of fire.

National Debt Revisited

The national debt roughly doubled during the eight years of the Bush administration. It has multiplied almost 10 times what it was when Reagan took office. I blogged about this many times. It is now estimated that it may double again in the next decade. Is there a solution to this?

This article lays out a reasonable series of measures that could control this:
- Reinstate the President's power of impoundment (removed in Budget Control Act of 1974). This would give similar power as a line-item veto, which Reagan was always asking for.

- Start an independent accounting board that would set the rules of accounting for the government. Give it the power to monitor programs and their cost effectiveness. Congress now monitors itself and this is the problem.

- Adopt a limit on total spending so that it could only increase with inflation and growth, unless 2/3 vote to suspend the limit in crisis situations. California had a law like this that they repealed in the early 90's and look what happened to them.

14 September 2009

Graffiti at the Eden Park Springhouse

Have you ever noticed this little gazebo at Eden Park?:

It is right on the road, and cars just zip right past. The building is actually very cool, an architectural gem which apparently has a long history. This is called the Spring House or Water House, and I suppose it was a location of an original spring used to supply water to the city. It is located adjacent to the main waterworks reservoir, which is underneath the ice-skating pond.

There originally was a thatched hut at this location:

These three old images are found at Greetings from Cincinnati, which has an excellent collection of old postcards. Visit them for many more images:

Spring House with old car:

The soft sandstone which forms the perimeter of the building's walls is etched with all kinds of old graffiti, and that is what prompted this post. The photos are not that great, because I was using a camera phone and it was getting to be dusk, but it is fun to look at these old scratchings with the kids.

Bullock 1919 to SOS W.H.S. 1939 (is this SOS Walnut Hills School?):

July 1934 and 1927:

April 28, 1912, J.P.C.:

June 30, 1928, C.S.:

W.J.Mc. 4-27-12:

E.W.O. 1926:


G.H. 1925:

Wire Faces


[where: 1821 Race Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202]

13 September 2009

Extrars Accessories Store

Not sure if this is a misspelling or not:

12 September 2009

China Moving Fast on Trains

China plans to build 42 new high-speed rail lines over the next 3 years. By 2012 it will have added 13,000 km of high-speed rail line. It also claims to have developed trains which can run on regular and high speed rail track.

10 September 2009

New Zoo Entrance

I've been holding back on my comments about the new pedestrian bridge over Vine Street until I had a chance to use the entrance myself. When I saw it under construction, I originally thought they were going to make it work with a gentle ramp up from the lot to a point further north where Vine Street goes downhill. Since both the parking lot and the zoo side of the street both are hills, it seems like there were ways to design this bridge so as to avoid the troublesome elevators and steps. I also didn't like the folksy look at the new entry buildings. There are some pretty nice buildings in the zoo, and until now they have avoided this aesthetic.

So last weekend I finally entered this way, and was pleasantly surprised. Simply put, the new entrance is a great success.

The one problem I have heard reported is that the elevators cannot move enough strollers fast enough. I didn't see any evidence of this, as we took our stroller up the escalator, as did many others.

Vine Street Entry a few years ago:

The same corner today:

The entry in the 60's:

Vine and Erkenbrecker a hundred years ago:
historic photos from here

Here is the new entry building, located in the new parking lot west of the zoo, across Vine Street:

You have a choice of Escalator and Elevator:


Bridge Entrance:

Ticket Gate:

Membership Building. Up close these buildings are not as bad as I originally thought. They actually are pretty nice, and function well too:

Solar Ticket Machines:

A bonus shot of Rhino with missing horn:

Our favorite exhibit lately has been the nocturnal house. Yours?