Elizabeth Nolan Brown // Blog

media. music. feminism. food. city-dwelling. story-telling. and other things.

Posts Tagged ‘Ohio

Curio: Photo Edition // USA, Pt. 2 // California, Chicago, Cincinnati, Covington, Columbus

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Today, Conor posted one of my photos on the Atlantic for his ‘What America Looks’ like series, which reminded me that I never got around to posting my second round of travel photos. Ahem. Well, here we are. And it’s even, unintentionally, alliterative. California. Chicago. Cincinnati. Covington, KY. And Columbus, OH. Drive-thru liquor & cigarettes, Covington, KY CVS, Venice Beach Isabel, Slake Magazine, Venice Beach You Are Loved by Creepy Children party, Echo Park Andersonville, Chicago // Indoor tent Hazardous Chemicals Chicago, Opening Day Liquor cabinet, Short North, Columbus, Ohio Bikes, Venice Beach, California Santa Monica, New Age Bible & Philosophy Center Bar Ladies Sharonville, Cincinnati, Ohio Wrigleyville

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Written by ENB

April 13, 2011 at 9:13 pm

What Was Lost: Part III

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In Lockland, there was a Welling’s Jewelers (still there today, in fact) on the bottom floor of a three-story building on the corner of Benson and Market Streets. The middle floor was apartments, and the top floor was a burlesque theater. It closed in the 40s or 50s, but my dad’s been up there to do electrical work, and he said it’s quite opulent, all red velvet seats and the like.

Down the street, now, is a strip club in the basement of a bar. There is no stage, but a roped-off section of linoleum in the back corner. People stand around the ropes and throw crumpled up dolar bills at haggard-looking girls in Wal-Mart bra-and-booty-short sets.

Written by ENB

August 16, 2009 at 9:46 pm

What Was Lost: Netflix vs. Rubber Snakes & Dress Slacks

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RKO Albee, Downtown Cincinnati, from vintage postcardMorning coffee with my dad, we’re discussing all the lost businesses, factories and other establishments in our hometown of Reading, Ohio (the conversation is prompted by the fact that my great aunt just gave me the key to the city’s historical society building, and, boy!, am I psyched). He starts talking about the movie theater on the main street of our town that he used to frequent as a kid. All the little cities and towns surrounding Reading (itself one of the nearer suburbs of Cincinnati) had their own movie theaters, he said, and you only went to the neighboring town’s theater if you’d already seen what was playing at yours—a rare occurrence, because even though they only showed one or two pictures each, they switched frequently. He remembered all these great and silly special effects and theatricality, the kind of old-matinee lore—rubber snakes on the ground, or plastic spiders dropping from the ceiling, during horror flix; one movie with a “shocking twist” ending, for which kids were made to sign a waver upon entering that they wouldn’t tell anyone the surprise. There was another theater they sometime went to, and it was a little bit in decline already—the owners had closed down the concession stand and replaced it with vending machines. This was perfectly all right by my dad and his friends, however, who thought the soda machine—which dispensed not cans but little styrofoam cups that soda was then leaked into, like the automatic coffee machines you sometimes see today—was a marvel in and of itself, a sign of the future.

Later, when he started dating my mom (he was 17, she was 15, which would make this 1972), they would sometimes go to the big, old movie palaces in downtown Cincinnati—this was where you took a date, instead of one of the neighborhood theaters, if you wanted to impress her, he explained. In just a year or so, cultural norms would start to change, but that year, you would still put on a dress shirt, a tie, some slacks, to see an evening show.

I listen to these stories jealously. For movie going to be an event! For the awe, the clothes, the red velvet, the smoke! For the community nature of theaters, before they all became National Amusements, or Showcase Cinemas, or Loew’s. For the names—the Emory, the 20th Century, the Gaiety the RKO Albee, the Vogue—of the theaters themselves.

And then I think about Netflix. And how I can get 3 movies at a time, unlimited times, for under $20 per month. How I can find almost any movie I want—foreign films, indie films, those made 20, 40, 60 years ago. That I can have these movies delivered directly to my house, that I can watch them in my own home, or really anywhere, from my laptop, that I can send one back and a new one will arrive in a day or so. Would I trade all this for plastic spiders falling from the ceiling?

It’s easy to romanticize some things. “Oh, it was corny,” my dad says of those matinee theaters of his youth, but he gets kind of animated when he talks about them, nonetheless.

I’m sure, given the choice, most people would take the choice and convenience of services like Netflix (or of online movies, or of DVDs) over the spectacle of movie-viewing past. I think I would, too. But it’s still hard not to feel a little regret about what’s been lost. If I could somehow collectively erase our knowledge of how we watch films now while simultaneously bringing those days back: I would.

Written by ENB

August 16, 2009 at 6:02 pm

Homeless Drifter

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That’s me.

I left Washington, DC, last Thursday; dropped my life’s possessions off at my boyfriend’s place in New York; headed upstate for a friend’s graduation party; returned to the city; flew to Ohio with a 6 hour layover in Baltimore; am currently at my little sister’s place in Columbus, Ohio; and head back Cincinnati, Ohio, tonight. I’ll spend a month living with my parents before returning to New York (Brooklyn to be precise, Greenpoint to be more precise) for good in September.

I want to write a grand, Joan Didion-esque reflection of my time in DC, about The Meaning of It, and all that, but I’m already losing the shape of things there. Is DC so forgettable? I guess I’ll see. Maybe it’s just been all the movement. It’s hard to be reflective and highly-mobile at the same time.

Written by ENB

August 4, 2009 at 4:33 pm

No Touching

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Via $pread Blog: A federal court in Ohio upholds the state’s “no-touch” rule in strip clubs. The law bans strip club employees from having any physical contact at all with customers, from a lap dance to a peck on the cheek to a handshake.

The law was passed on 2007. Unlike other measures restricting or regulating strip clubs—taxes on customer admission (which, however unfair, have the benefit, from a community’s viewpoint, of raising funds), or stipulations on hours of operation—I can see no conceivable pro-community, pro-safety or economic justification. I can see absolutely no justification other than people think lap dances are icky. The community can now can sleep a little more soundly at night, I guess, knowing that some middle-aged truck driver is decidedly not being grinded upon by a girl in pigtails and a pink vinyl bikini. Meanwhile, dancers—for many of whom a large majority of money is earned from lap dances—have to either see their incomes dramatically reduced, or find themselves suddenly criminals.

Written by ENB

July 1, 2009 at 10:00 am

Posted in Culture, Misc.

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Ohio Surprises

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When I looked at the Ohio breakdown yesterday and saw Obama at 66 percent, I was in disbelief. Of course, that was without all precincts reporting, and the actual tally ended up much closer: Obama at 51 percent, McCain at 47 percent (in 2004, Kerry got roughly 46 and Bush roughly 50). Yet someone it doesn’t seem a whole lot less shocking. From the general consensus via facebook status message, it seems—despite all the evidence beforehand that an Obama win in Ohio was possible—no one really thought it would happen. Everyone was afraid Ohio would be some sort of debacle again. Everyone seemed really relieved not to be the butt of progressives the country over’s disdain for the next four years.

Even more shocking … Hamilton County went Obama, at 52 percent. Hamilton County (which is mostly comprised of Cincinnati and its suburbs) went 74 percent for Bush/Cheney in ’00, and 74 percent Bush/Cheney again in ’04. In my Ohio voters article, Chas Veddern, a long-time Reading/Cincinnati resident, said “Years ago, McCain would’ve carried Reading and Hamilton County in a landslide,” but that this year it would be “close. ” I think he meant close, but with McCain still winning. I don’t think anybody really thought Obama would win in Hamilton County.

Cincinnati also voted in favor of civil liberties this election, defeating a red-light camera initiative:

Cincinnatians – the first voters in the country to decide whether their municipality should be able to use cameras to catch drivers running red lights – favor a camera ban.

I’m so proud of my home city and state!

[It did vote down a measure to bring casino gambling to the state, though; boo.]

Written by ENB

November 5, 2008 at 10:46 am

You can take the girl out of Reading, but …

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My article on voters in my hometown of Reading, Ohio:

I am guilty of using my dad as a cultural barometer.

I don’t really trust polls. I find political trend pieces dubious, even in the most respectable media outlets. But when my father, who had voted for John McCain in the Republican primaries this year, announced a few weeks ago that he was switching his electoral allegiance to Barack Obama, I finally began to suspect something was afoot.

My dad, Keith — Keith the Electrician, if you like; he owns his own small electrical company — voted for George Bush in 2000 and again in 2004. He has voted for two third-party presidential candidates in his lifetime (John Anderson in 1980 and Ross Perot in 1992) and nary a Democrat. He is extremely distrustful of anything that rings of higher taxes or government mandates. And he admits he’s not a “huge fan” of Obama.

So why cast his precious Ohio vote for That One?

Go read the whole thing.

Written by ENB

November 4, 2008 at 5:32 pm

AP Rebellion!

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Wow. NYTimes reports that The Columbus Dispatch—the Ohio state capitol’s major daily—announced last week that it would drop its Associated Press service. The Tribune Company had announced the same thing the day before.

The papers, contractually required by AP to give 2 years notice of termination of service, still have some time to figure out how to get by without wire stories and photos, so no concrete plans have been made yet. But the NYT article hints at some interesting experiments:

This summer, dissatisfied with the way The A.P. handles local news, eight papers in Ohio formed a cooperative to share articles, and some of those papers say they might drop the wire service. Newspapers in Pennsylvania are exploring a similar arrangement.

I have nothing against AP, but if the AP backlash leads to greater localism in newspapers, I’m all for it. It will be interesting to see, though, how the medium-size papers would end up covering national and international news without a wire service? My co-worker just wondered aloud if perhaps they’ll give up on even more of that coverage, figuring they’ve been beat by CNN, etc. and that’s that. But—as another co-worker pointed out—cutting back on national/international coverage could seriously limit national ad revenue.

[The perverse part of my reaction to all this: Being a newspaper reporter is probably the only job more precarious than being an investment banker right now, but every time I read stories like this I really miss being a daily newspaper reporter. I felt the same way reading this NYMag article about the folding of the New York Sun.

I also just finished reading A Book of Common Prayer by Joan Didion, which takes place in the fictional Central American country of Boca Grande. This makes me want to expatriate to a fictional Central American country and be a hard-living, tanned, American-newspaper stringer reporting on international affairs from the (wi-fi enabled, of course) patio of the one tourist hotel in town while drinking strong coffee and listening to an old radio playing muffled traditional music in the background, regarding the locals warmly but mostly keeping to myself (save a few love affairs), and eventually returning to the states— when revolution breaks out and gets too dangerous—hardened and wise. But then isn’t that every would-be journalist’s dream?]