If you follow us at all, it will have been quite obvious that our post volume has dropped off dramatically in recent months (OK so we completely missed the month of May). We’d like to bump that back up a little bit, so if you interested in writing for CincyVoices, drop me a line through the contact form here, or shoot me a message through Facebook, Google+, or Twitter. We’re interested in anything that relates to Cincy or the surrounding area, and we’re not opposed to delving into subjects that we haven’t touched much, if at all, in the past (sports comes to mind in particular). If you could send me link to or sample of something you’ve written that relates to Cincinnati in some way, that would be most helpful. If you’ve never written anything about Cincy, well, there’s no time like the present!
In a surprise announcement today, an unidentified COAST insider revealed that the organization was started as a prank. The insider, who is not quite ready to reveal his identity, explained that it was all started by a group of friends who wanted to parody extreme political organizations. “To be clear, our group of friends are actually against wasteful spending, but we were commenting on how things like that can be taken too far, and thought it might be a fun exercise. None of us imagined it would keep going this long.”
What’s In A Name
In talking about the origins of the group, he explained there was a lot of debate surrounding the name. “Initially someone proposed Citizens Organized Against All Spending and Taxes, or COAAST, but we thought it would be too over the top.” He went on to say “I thought COAST was still too obvious. I mean come on, you aren’t going to get anywhere in life coasting, and the only direction you can coast is down hill, but I was over-ruled, and turned out to be wrong.”
According to the source, the logo was also carefully designed to hint at the prank. The trajectory of the star is clearly downhill, and even includes a dead-cat bounce at the end. The original design included a shattered star, but that was changed because they felt it was too obvious.
He went on to reminisce about some of his favorite moments in the organization’s history. He felt the Streetcar was a gift from above. His favorite moment was the infamous “We don’t have signs, we can’t afford signs” press conference. He continued “What people did not realize is that this was one of the best instances of performance art in the city. Tom Luken gets a lot of flack for this, but the signs were actually his idea, and he ad-libbed that entire bit on the spot. Outsiders cannot appreciate his sense of comedic timing.”
When asked why he was coming clean, he admitted that it just wasn’t fun anymore. He explained that they have fallen into a rut. “There is only so many times you can retweet someone complaining about something on a streetcar before even you get tired.”
He also pointed to some mistakes. “It seemed like a good idea when we decided to compare the 9/11 tragedy to the City’s policy of browning out Fire Departments. In retrospect, we really didn’t think that one through.” But the real tragedy , he admits, was trying to connect a fire death on a browned out station. “Even if it had been true, it was in bad taste, but the fact that the responsible department was working that day put it over the edge.”
He is not sure how long the others will keep things going, but he admits he is done. “I have mixed feelings about the whole experience. It was a lot of fun at times, but it was also depressing that the general public didn’t catch on to the joke. I always felt uncomfortable when I ran into committed folks that were not in on the joke.”
He imagines that his decision to out the organization will not be popular with the group. He tried to get them to come to a consensus to reveal the prank, but in the end he decided it was time, and today was the day to announce it.
I am so proud of the Occupy Movement! I hope people are getting wise to the contempt Corporate America has for the rest of us. I’m not just referring to the banking industry, either. Corporate goes for all kinds of industry: electronics, textiles, food, energy, etc.., lots of businesses where their primary focus is to make money. Not to serve a community need, to make money. Not to provide a quality product at a good value to the consumer, to make money.
“So what can I do about this and why should I care?” you might say. “Eating healthy / organic / local is too expensive and I don’t have the time / desire / know-how to cook.”
My shopping reflects my values and I vote with my pocketbook. Start small and don’t try to re-invent the wheel in a week. I would rather spend an hour cooking something for my family than watching TV, but that’s me.
Don’t like factory farms? Seek out a local market and shop there. Spending money with local retailers strengthens the community and is a slap in the face of recession. Start a vegetable garden, and share your bounty with your neighbors – defy the “bedroom community” label and chat in person. Know that if we don’t start giving a damn about what we purchase, and where it comes from – that the quality of these things will continue to tank. The rich will get richer from our apathy. Our economy is based almost entirely on us buying stuff, so make every dollar count!
This video of a farmer addressing the NYC Occupy group nearly got me bawling. I can’t help but feel sickened and a little enraged every time I hear a sound bite about how unorganized the movement is, or the “But what do they stand for?” bullshit. The food lies are as insidious as the lies about “trickle-down economics” – don’t believe the hype. There has been a great interview with Chris Hedges making the rounds that I think hits the mark, and I will leave you with this quote from his book, Losing Moses on the Freeway: The 10 Commandments in America: “We watch impassively as the wealthy and the elite, the huge corporations, rob us, ruin the environment, defraud consumers and taxpayers and create an exclusive American oligarchy that fuses wealth and political power. We watch passively because we believe we can enter the club. It is greed that inspires us. It is greed that keeps us silent. Our greed is devouring us.”
It’s been a little over three years since my wife and I bought our home in Northside. The Queen City has been good to us in that time – my wife finished her MFA, we met some wonderful people, had the best pizza I’ve eaten outside of NYC (Northslice!) , and found the real life Hall of Justice. I’ve also gotten to see some horrible things – Kasich getting elected, a fellow New Orleanian shot and killed by Cincy PD around the corner from my house, and meeting one of the biggest misogynists I’ve ever encountered. Like any place there is both good and bad aplenty.
All in all I’ve enjoyed my adventures in Ohio, but now it is time to move on. I was born French Creole from a family that arrived in New Orleans on the first boatload of settlers. The subtropical heat and cultural flambouyance of the Crescent City call to my blood, as do – surprisingly – more concrete economic concerns. A surprising array of new opportunities have opened up for me there recently.
There are some things I pine for. Alligator tenderloin gumbo and frog’s legs with cayenne glaze at Louisiana Bistro. The constant smell of night blooming jasmine. The constant sound of brass, even in the local punk music. And I’ll be honest there is a lot I don’t look forward to, not in the least! Let’s start with 9.5% tax on food at the grocery store and then add in the insane murder rate and post BP toxicity. It’s not ideal, but as flawed as it is it’s home.
I guess it’s a peculiarity of New Orleanians, and one repeatedly borne out by independent observation. Rebecca Corey wrote the following on Kiva: Stories From The Field, and she truly hit the nail on the head (emphasis mine):
Even after Katrina killed 1,835 people, destroyed 275,000 homes and 400,000 jobs, caused $81 billion in property damage, and forced the evacuation of 80% of the New Orleans population, over 140,000 have returned to rebuild. All of the Kiva borrowers with whom I’ve spoken left New Orleans for a while, but each one affirms the same thing: “I always knew I’d come back to New Orleans. There’s no other place like it on earth.” I’ve never seen so many people identify with and love their city with such fervent passion, with such abounding joy, and with such commitment to making it better. I’ll end with a quote from the Talmud that reflects the spirit and determination of the folks I’ve met here. I thank them for their hard work and optimism.
‘Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.’
So it is that I find myself madly packing with very few days left in the Queen City. I’ll still be posting here on occasion, but will be stepping back and allowing the other bloggers to carry the torch. I will do everything I can to make sure that CincyVoices continues to provide thoughtful and entertaining slices of Queen City life. In the meantime I’ll be back for periodic visits, we’re keeping our house in Northside.
It’s been fun. Hopefully I’ll see some of you coming down to NOLA sometime.
I’m going to close with music, as is appropriate for a New Orleanian. This song about sums it up for me.
Keep making waves in the Queen City, and be warned – I’ll be back!
All good words to describe Northside. The Cincinnati neighborhood’s undergone several near-renaissances over the years, but one eyesore remained, the American Can Factory, right in the center of the business district and across the street from Hoffner Park, Northside’s town square. The building is a hulk of an industrial space, built in 1920, empty since 1973, and, as the tallest building in the neighborhood, it’s visible from many angles throughout the area.
The old Can Factory needed someone to show it some love. It took several years, but Bloomfield/Schon + Partners have managed to create an outstanding example of good design using sustainable building practices and community engagement. These are all things we like in Northside. The American Can Lofts‘ 110 apartments range in size from a studio to a big 3BR, beautifully finished. Tenants have been moving in since September, with more moving in each month. The building is about 80% leased. There’s life where there was no life before.
Life needs art. That’s where ParProjects comes in. The American Can Factory sits on several acres in Northside, and the parcel in front on the Hamilton Avenue side of it is owned by the city. So ParProjects proposed an art center for that front parcel. An art center made from shipping containers. Again, the words “good design using sustainable building practices and community engagement” immediately spring to mind. ParProjects’ immediate goal is to build a community-centered art center, made from shipping containers all stacked and arranged as one. These are good goals in Northside.
Life needs parties. So, this weekend, there’s going to be a party in Northside. The Factory Square Fine Arts Festivalhappens Saturday, October 22nd from noon until midnight, & Sunday, October 23rd, from noon until 8pm. There will be shipping containers with art installations, and most amazing sculpture garden pieces installed in the lot. There will be art installations inside of the American Can Factory factory bays. There will be a Prairie Gallery installation in the American Can Factory Lofts’ lobby. There will be music. There will be beer.
And there will be City Flea! The Flea is holding a one-time satellite market at the American Can Lofts in the big high bay, on Saturday, as part of the Factory Square Fine Arts Festival. This is one of the most fun flea markets ever. And did I mention there’s beer?
Would you like to help? Volunteers are truly needed, can you help? As much or as little time you can give is appreciated. Click here to volunteer, or contact the volunteer coordinator Jeni Jenkins at 513-885-0504. Or just show up and you’ll be put you to work. The Festival can use volunteers at any time, but they especially need volunteers for the start up or knockdown periods of the day.