Eric Deters: “Send White Women and Pot”

Those of you who live outside of the Cincinnati area may be fortunate enough to have never heard of Eric “Bulldog” Deters, a lifelong Democrat who conveniently turned into a Teabagger the minute he got a radio spot on “The Big One” 700-AM WLW. (WLW is also home to our own local Rush Limbaugh wannabe Bill “Homeless people should be beaten” Cunningham and other assorted right-wing nutjobs.)

Deters also happens to be a contributor and legal consultant for the Dr. Drew Show. Deters never misses an opportunity to promote himself, and according to his Facebook page, is excited about his new gig on CNN:

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Deters is well-known for making outlandish comments in public, particularly in regards to any ideology that falls to the political left of Attila the Hun. Like most right-wing blowhards, he’s usually smart enough to couch his racist bile in the typical dog-whistle language that affords him some measure of plausible deniability, but yesterday afternoon he put to rest any doubts about his feelings about the African-Americans whose money supports his legal practice:

(via local blog

I have many black friends, and I have many black clients. Why? Because cops are usually tazing naked black men, so I got cases against cops. I represent black men and I have black friends. But let me tell you something about this. On my flag football team, every black guy on the team–this is just calling it straight right here, no political preference here–almost every, AW THE HELL WITH THAT, EVERY BLACK GUY ON MY FLAG FOOTBALL TEAM, went out with, lived with, and was married to a white woman, and smoked pot. I just want you to know that I understand black culture. If you want to conquer, If you want to conquer an African nation, SEND WHITE WOMEN AND POT. This is the bulldog. Every dog has their day. I hope tomorrow is yours.

As Maoglone points out in the blog, this is about the most racist thing to come out of the mouth of a Cincinnati public figure since the days of Marge Schott. Unfortunately, our local media has been silent on the matter. But that doesn’t mean we have to remain silent.

11:08 AM PT: Update: Just got a response from CNN via Twitter:

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12:07 PM PT: Update: CNN has apparently looked into the matter…

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And there you have it, folks. It’s okay to appear on CNN if you’re a racist blowhard, as long as you’re not a racist blowhard on CNN.

12:34 PM PT: Update: Maoglone at has dug up additional videos of Deters being a class act.

Fuel, Meet Fire

10:56 PM PT: Posted without comment: Eric Deters has responded to the controversey on his Facebook page:

I recently shot a videoblog that told a joke about young black men I know liking pot and white women…I immediately thought it went too far. I told my video guy not to use it. When he sent videos to my computer guy, he forgot to take it out. As soon as I heard about it, I removed it. I apologize for my bad joke. As my black friends, clients and fans will tell you, I’m not now…nor have ever been prejudiced.

And Now for Something Completely Different…

This past Friday we had sort of a St. Valentine’s Day Massacre at the office, with about 10% of the staff being laid off. Yours truly was among them, thus ending my 2.5-year tenure at Dattner Architects. I’m not holding any bitterness against my now-former employers; while every job has its good days and bad days, my time at Dattner has been an incredible learning experience, and I’ve never been treated with anything but the utmost professionalism and respect while working there, and I’ll look back with fondness on my time there.

This didn’t come as a complete shock, as the writing had been on the wall for a while. Thanks to a couple of large projects via the stimulus program, our office was able to maintain a decent workload for about a year longer than most other architecture firms, but all good things must end sooner or later. There had been a noticeable slowdown in our workload over the past couple months, and more often than not, I found myself without much to do during the day. The thought of getting laid off had occurred to me, and I had already begun to develop a contingency plan in case the axe dropped. This past Friday, when I was asked to come in to the office of one of the partners for a meeting, I instantly knew what was about to happen. It was time to institute my contingency plan.

As this means the end of my 2.5-year at Dattner, this also means the end of my 2.5 year residency in New York City. I moved here in 2007 with high hopes and grand ambitions. Some of those ambitions have been fulfilled, and some have not. When I moved here, I figured I’d be going to grad school here in New York City, presumably at Columbia or some other big-name school, and get a job with some boutique firm that does ultra-modernist hotels and condominium interiors. Instead, I ended up postponing my grad school plans for a while, and developing a strong interest in transit design, urban planning, and civic architecture.

As the economy went down the toilet, and I came to the realization that I had reached an age where a sense of stability and comfort were much more important to me than being in the middle of all the action. My thoughts increasingly turned back to my hometown of Cincinnati, and what it might mean to move back there for grad school and possibly even settle down there for the long term. Instead of Columbia and a bunch of East Coast Ivy League architecture schools, I ended up applying to the University of Cincinnati, Ohio State, and the University of Kentucky for grad school. At the same time, I found myself increasingly burned-out with New York City. There are still many things I love about this city, and I won’t rule out the possibility of moving back here sometime in the future, but for now, this city simply isn’t my natural habitat.

In the meantime, I’ve become increasingly involved with the local blogosphere and online community in Cincinnati, and have already added my voice to those advocating for improved mass transit and urban planning in Cincinnati. In the relatively short time I’ve been involved with these people who are relentlessly pushing to make Cincinnati into a better city, I’ve already developed a number of good friendships, and I know I’ll be welcomed with open arms when I return home. This is in addition to the numerous old friends and family members who have always been there to welcome me home whenever I found myself in town for a visit.

With my job now no longer keeping me here in New York, I’ve decided to leave NYC and move to Cincinnati at the end of the month. I’m hoping to start grad school at UC (or if not UC, then at least nearby OSU or UK) in the fall, so my unemployment benefits and savings should last until then, and I’m actually pretty psyched about finally going back. That said, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous as hell. Finding a landlord willing to rent to me will be a challenge, and if I don’t start grad school or land a job in six months, I’ll really start to panic. Also, the last time I lived in Cincinnati was 25 years ago, when I was 10 years old. Going back is certain to bring up all sorts of old memories and weird emotions for me.

I’ve reserved a Penske rental truck for the weekend of February 27th, and if all goes well, I’ll be arriving in town sometime on the 28th. As of this writing, I have no idea where I’ll be living, but I have a couple of strong leads.

At this point, I don’t have the slightest idea how this will all work out. In six months I may end up in Columbus or Lexington, or moving in with my parents in North Carolina. At some point I may end up frustrated with Cincinnati’s notorious provincialism, and run screaming back to New York or Chicago. No doubt there will be times I wish I was back in New York City, or longing to expand my horizons even further, perhaps as far as London or the West Coast.

But for now, I’m just happy to be coming home.

‘Nati Weekend

Time for another trip back to base camp. The official reason for the trip was to attend the M.Arch. open house at the University of Cincinnati. Just as importantly, it was an excuse to get the hell away from the NYC pressure cooker and spend a much-needed few days back on my home turf, and look at things that aren’t made of asphalt or concrete.

I arrived in Cincinnati late Thursday morning, and promptly checked into the hotel, took a shower, and crashed for a couple hours. I had overslept that morning, and woke up about ten minutes before I was supposed to be leaving for the airport. The next few hours were a blur, but I made my flight and landed at CVG without incident.

That evening, I attended a debate at UC about Cincinnati’s streetcar project and Issue 9. I met up with Sherman Cahal and Gordon Bombay at the event. Long story made short, later that evening Sherman and I found ourselves having beers with Mark Miller and Chris Finney, the two people most responsible for getting this stupid referendum issue on the ballot. Talk about awkward. Mark Miller turned out to be a nice guy and I found myself agreeing with him on more things than I thought I would. Chris Finney? No comment.

The next day was spent almost entirely at the M.Arch. open house at UC. I didn’t learn much that I didn’t already know, but it was still nice to be on campus and meet people in the architecture program there. UC was my first choice of architecture schools when I was in high school, but I didn’t get accepted there, and I ended up at a few other places instead. Now I’m hoping to go there for grad school. I’m trying not to get my hopes up too high and jinx myself, but I think I already crossed that bridge a long time ago.

That evening I met up with Eighth and State, Maximillian, testell, Caseyc, thomasbw, Kevin LeMaster, and a few others (my apologies if I left anybody out) at Grammers in Over-the-Rhine, and ran into Michael Moore. Not Michael Moore of “Bowling for Columbine” fame, but Michael Moore, the City Architect for the City of Cincinnati. He’s the one working to build a streetcar line through OTR, and he’s got some other good ideas as well. Nice guy, and I wish him the best in making Cincinnati a better city.

The following day was spent driving around the city and checking out routes and locations for my thesis project, a rapid transit system for Cincinnati. I got as far west as Lawrenceburg and as far east as Milford. Google Earth is great, but nothing beats going out and seeing a place in real life. One thing that struck me was how badly aerial photos are at depicting topography.

That evening was spent at my cousin’s place in Silver Grove, eating chili, drinking beer, and engaging in good conversation. I think I had more of a social life in three days in Cincinnati than I’ve had in the past two years in New York.

On Sunday I checked out of the hotel, drove around for a bit, and headed back to the airport. In what’s becoming somewhat of an unfortunate tradition, my return flight from Cincinnati to NYC was yet another clusterfuck.

My flights to Cincinnati from NYC have invariably been on-time and incident-free. My return flights back to New York are another story. A year ago, Delta forgot to load the baggage onto the plane, resulting in 150 angry people about to start a riot at the baggage claim office at Newark Airport. Last June, after a series of delays and mechanical failures, my flight was ultimately canceled and I arrived in New York 26 hours after first checking in at CVG — enough time to drive or take Amtrak from Cincy to New York and back.

This time, the flight was two hours late, there were a half-dozen hyperactive brats in the back of the tiny plane, a screaming infant in the row behind me, and the landing was so hard I thought the pilot was trying to put a crater in LaGuardia’s runway. And of course, arriving in Queens from almost anywhere is like arriving in Tijuana after a weekend in Lake Tahoe. I’ve reached the conclusion that God really doesn’t want me to return to New York from Cincinnati, and I’m inclined to agree with him.

Well, if I get accepted to UC and things go the way I hope they will, my next trip to Cincinnati will be sometime in May, and the purpose of that trip will be to look for an apartment. Wish me luck.

Issue 9 debate at UC:

Main Street on the University of Cincinnati campus:

The old quad at the University of Cincinnati:

Main Street @ UC:

Grammer’s in Over-the-Rhine:

I love beer steins. My grandfather used to have a few, but I have no idea whatever happened to them.

Grammer’s. Some neighborhood thug threw a cinder block through the leaded glass window on the right a few months ago, but it has since been restored.

A name from Cincinnati’s rich brewing history.

Beer steins on display at Grammer’s.

More beer steins. Grammer’s has been around in one form or another since 1872.

The bar at Grammer’s. Lately the hipsters have discovered Grammer’s, but tonight it wasn’t too obnoxious.

Old railroad tracks on the Oasis line. In my thesis project, this right-of-way carries the Blue Line rapid transit route.

An old church along River Road on Cincinnati’s west side. The steeple reminds me a lot of St. Michael’s in Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood.

Northside. I had a great sandwich at Melt.

No visit to Cincy is complete without stopping at Fountain Square and paying homage to the Genius of Water.

The so-called “Short Vine” business district near the UC campus.

Cincinnati’s hills offer great vistas of the downtown skyline from all directions. This one is from a steep street in the Prospect Hill neighborhood.

Prospect Hill:

Cincinnati’s Pendleton neighborhood. Many parts of Cincinnati wouldn’t feel out of place in Brooklyn or Philadelphia.

My survival kit for the winter:

The Inerrant Word of God has a Liberal Bias


Those of us who profess a Christian faith are called upon to conduct our lives in accordance with the teachings of the Holy Bible. Now, there’s plenty of room for reasonable people to disagree over the particulars, given the historical context in which the Bible was written and the various ways it has been translated over the years. That’s why we have about a million different sects and denominations.

Granted, there’s a lot of stuff in the Bible that has become dogma for up to three of the world’s major religions, but let’s put that aside and concentrate on what the Bible has to say about how we live our lives, as individuals and collectively as a society. The basics are pretty straightforward: Don’t lie. Don’t steal. Don’t murder. Work for justice and peace. Be charitable to those less fortunate than you. Don’t be too full of yourself. Treat other people how you’d like to be treated. All that stuff is fairly non-controversial, right?

Most other religions share similar ethical teachings, and even the most ardent atheist can agree that certain ethical behaviors are desirable if only to ensure the continued functioning of civil society. Even if you don’t buy into the whole Christ being the Son of God thing, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Jesus was an all-around good guy and a model of moral behavior, and people of many faiths can (and do) strive to lead Christ-like lives.

However, if you find yourself engaging in behavior that directly contradicts the scriptural teachings you claim to follow, I figure you can do one of four things to remedy the situation:

Option 1: Renounce your belief in the scriptures, and continue following your behavior. If my religion’s holy scriptures told me that I wasn’t allowed to enjoy an occasional dry martini or own an iPhone, then I’d probably leave that religion when I got old enough to make an informed decision to do so. Lots of people follow this route, and there’s no shame in it. I may or may not approve of your behavior, but at least this is an intellectually honest way out of your predicament, and nobody will accuse you of being a hypocrite.

Option 2: Amend your behavior so that it is more in line with scriptural teachings. If your scriptures forbid martinis and iPhones, then you give them up. If your scriptures call upon you to lead a Christ-like life, then you at least make an honest effort to do so. I renounced my right-wing ideology a few years ago when I had spent some time getting my ass kicked by life, and when I finally reached the conclusion that Rush Limbaugh and the Holy Gospel couldn’t possibly both be right, as they directly contradict each other. And I was pretty sure that the Gospel writers weren’t the ones that are full of shit. (Sorry, Rush.) That’s not to say I no longer have any doubts or confusion, or that every Christian who votes Republican is a hypocrite, but when presented with two ways of thinking that are so diametrically opposed, you have to make a choice. It’s simply not possible to love your neighbor and hate your neighbor at the same time. (I’ll be the first to admit that it’s hard to love your neighbor when he’s blasting merengue music from a car stereo outside your bedroom window at 3 AM, but that’s a topic for another day.)

Option 3: Rationalize. Try to convince yourself and others that you really are following your holy scriptures even as you engage in behavior and advocate social policies that directly contradict those scriptures. Try to explain that the martini glass in your hand doesn’t really contain gin, or that your iPhone is actually a knock-off and is therefore kosher. Look for some obscure verse in Leviticus to justify persecution of groups of people you don’t like, or try to pretend that the two contradictory creation myths in Genesis mean that the earth is only 6000 years old, despite all scientific evidence to the contrary. (Therefore, science itself must be the work of Satan and should not be taught in public schools.) Try to explain why Jesus turning water into wine and passing around a cup of wine at the Last Supper mean that nobody should ever drink anything alcoholic. Try to explain why “have compassion for the poor” really means that all poor people are Cadillac-driving freeloaders who deserve contempt, and that believing in Jesus is the ticket to a big mansion and a nice car. This third option has been the time-honored tactic of many Christians for the past few centuries, and we’ve become pretty successful at it.

But you know, all those mental gymnastics can get downright exhausting and confusing, and sometimes it’s hard to keep your story straight. People are more likely to call you out as a hypocrite, and it gets embarrassing when so many spiritual and political leaders who are most ardent about espousing “family values” get caught in bed with young boys or in motel rooms with gay prostitutes, or wiping out the retirement savings of millions of people while enriching their friends, or launching a bloody invasion of an impoverished country that was never a serious military threat. You get the idea.

So, Option 1 is out because you need that facade of piety to justify your behavior. Option 2 doesn’t work because that would show weakness and mean admitting you were wrong about something. Option 3 is just too hard and not very convincing for those who haven’t completely eradicated their critical thinking skills.

That, naturally leads us to: Option 4: Change the scriptures to match your ideology.

Conservative Bible Project Cuts Out Liberal Passages

Lo and behold, the Bible has gotten too liberal, according to a group of conservatives. And it needs a little editing.

That’s the inspiration behind the Conservative Bible Project, which seeks to take the text back to its supposed right-wing roots.

Who knew that King James was such a bed-wetting liberal pinko?

Principles of the new translation:

Framework against Liberal Bias: Providing a strong framework that enables a thought-for-thought translation without corruption by liberal bias.

Not Emasculated: Avoiding unisex, “gender inclusive” language, and other modern emasculation of Christianity.

Not Dumbed Down: Not dumbing down the reading level, or diluting the intellectual force and logic of Christianity; the NIV is written at only the 7th grade level.

Utilize Powerful Conservative Terms: Using powerful new conservative terms as they develop; defective translations use the word “comrade” three times as often as “volunteer”; similarly, updating words which have a change in meaning, such as “word”, “peace”, and “miracle”.

Combat Harmful Addiction: Combating addiction by using modern terms for it, such as “gamble” rather than “cast lots”; using modern political terms, such as “register” rather than “enroll” for the census.

Accept the Logic of Hell: Applying logic with its full force and effect, as in not denying or downplaying the very real existence of Hell or the Devil.

Express Free Market Parables: Explaining the numerous economic parables with their full free-market meaning.

Exclude Later-Inserted Liberal Passages: Excluding the later-inserted liberal passages that are not authentic, such as the adulteress story.

Credit Open-Mindedness of Disciples: Crediting open-mindedness, often found in youngsters like the eyewitnesses Mark and John, the authors of two of the Gospels.

Prefer Conciseness over Liberal Wordiness: Preferring conciseness to the liberal style of high word-to-substance ratio; avoid compound negatives and unnecessary ambiguities; prefer concise, consistent use of the word “Lord” rather than “Jehovah” or “Yahweh” or “Lord God.”

One can only speculate what the new Conservative Bible looks like:

  • The serpent in the Garden of Eden commands Adam and Eve to go forth and bury fossils all over the place so as to deceive future generations into believing in evolution.
  • All those Hebrew prophets who decried the injustices of society are now cable news commentators who lead manufactured “Tea Party” protests against any efforts to remedy said injustices.
  • For the woman who committed adultery, since she is neither a man nor a right-wing politician, Jesus commands, “Stone the slut!”
  • The Beatitudes are re-written to say, “Blessed are the rich, for they got theirs. Fuck everybody else. Blessed are the warmongers, for they ensure high oil prices and continued wealth for the Saudi royal family. Blessed are the loud and arrogant, for they get good ratings on the Fox News channel.”
  • Jesus turns the water at Cana into Kool-Aid.
  • Matthew 6: “But when you pray, do not go into your room; get in front of a camera and pray to your Father, who sees you on television. Then your Father, who sees what is done for ratings, will reward you.”
  • Jesus turns the five loaves and two fishes into enough food to feed thousands of hungry people, but keeps it all for himself and his wealthy benefactors. Others may partake of the leftovers, but only if they pay a thousand bucks a plate.
  • Leprosy and blindness are preexisting conditions, and are therefore not eligible for Christ’s healing services.
  • Luke 19: “And Jesus went into the temple of God, and sat down with all them that sold and bought in the temple, and asked of the welfare of the moneychangers, and further invited those of them that sold doves. And He said unto them, ‘It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it into a brokerage and brought forth the miracle of derivatives.’ Thereupon Jesus adjusted the interest rates of all who leveraged financial instruments, and there was much rejoicing among the hedge fund managers who no longer would be taxed upon their income.”
  • The Pharisees are changed to ACORN workers, and they crucify Jesus.
  • In the John Galt Special Edition Bible, Jesus recites a 40-page monologue from the cross about the virtues of selfishness.

And that whole Matthew 15: 7-9 business

Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, 
This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 
But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

goes right out the window.

And Hugo Was His Name-O

It was just brought to my attention that today is the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Hugo’s landfall in coastal South Carolina. Wow, time flies.

I remember Hugo. We were living in Beaufort, South Carolina at the time, and had been nervously watching the weather updates over the past few days as the storm got closer. That morning, we looked at the forecast, and they said Hugo was expected to make landfall somewhere between Savannah and Charleston… Beaufort is smack in the middle of that zone, so we loaded up the car and got the hell out of there. My dad, a physician’s assistant with the Naval Hospital in town, had to stay behind in case there were mass casualties, so it was my mom, myself, my three siblings, some small family heirlooms, luggage, and three angry cats in an ’87 Ford Taurus for the next 14 hours or so.

The traffic on I-26 was unreal, like something out of a disaster movie. The westbound lanes were a 200-mile-long parking lot all the way past Columbia, while the eastbound lanes were completely deserted except for the occasional convoy of National Guard and Red Cross trucks headed for the coast. It was very erie. Eventually they allowed westbound traffic to cross the highway median and drive on the eastbound side.

We drove all the way to Cincinnati, since every hotel east of the mountains was packed with evacuees from the coast. At least we had family to stay with in Cincy, so we kept on driving all day and for pretty late into the night, not sure how long it would be before we could return to Beaufort, nor what we would have left when we got back. We got to my grandmother’s house in Mariemont at some ungodly hour of the night, turned on CNN, and saw that Hugo had turned north at the last minute and was ripping Charleston to shreds. Beaufort had a fair amount of damage, but was spared the worst of the storm.

We stayed in Cincy for a couple days before heading back. On the trip back to Beaufort, I remember seeing how the storm damage got progressively worse as we got closer to the coast. Around Columbia, it was mostly downed trees and branches alongside the expressway. Closer to Charleston, overhead highway signs, billboards, and gas station canopies were ripped to shreds. As we drove through mile after mile of pine forests, we saw that every single tree had been snapped in half. North of Charleston, all the trees were snapped toward the west; south of Charleston, all the trees were snapped toward the east. You could tell exactly where the eye of the hurricane had passed because that’s where the all fallen trees changed direction.

We were very fortunate. Our house wasn’t damaged, and most of the damage in the neighborhood was limited to some downed power lines and fallen trees. We have some relatives in Charleston who had five feet of water in their house and a tree in their living room. Many car windows on their block had exploded because the barometric pressure had dropped so fast.

The running joke was that Hugo was actually a good thing for South Carolina, because it finally gave them something to talk about besides the Civil War. As for me, I’ll be happy if that’s the closest I ever come to a large-scale disaster.

Bill Cunningham is Beneath Contempt

According to 700 WLW radio host and Rush Limbaugh-wannabe Bill Cunningham, we should “beat the hell out of” homeless people, with “a big old cane, Singapore-style.”

From Media Matters:

Does that include homeless veterans, of which there are many? So much for supporting the troops.

People like Cunningham, Limbaugh, O’Reilly, Hannity, et al are very wealthy white men who have built up their entire careers by whipping up hatred and resentment against people who are less wealthy, less fortunate, and less white than them. They give voice and justification for the most morally reprehensible impulses of humanity, and they seek to deny others the same basic privileges of civil society that they themselves have greatly benefitted from. If the scriptures they supposedly believe in are to be taken at face value, then they’ll have a lot to answer for someday.

According to Cunningham, “Pain is a great motivator to refrain from certain forms of behavior.”

Fine. I propose that somebody beat the hell out of Bill Cunningham with a big old cane, Singapore-style, whenever he opens his bigoted, racist mouth in front of a microphone.

Rediscovering Cincinnati

This past week I took a much-needed vacation back home to Cincinnati, my first real vacation (other than short weekend trips) since my 2001 trip to London. I had been hoping to take a 2-week trip to the UK later this summer, but that was looking increasingly unrealistic from a fiscal point of view, so I decided another trip to Cincinnati was in order. This was the longest trip I’ve taken to Cincy in quite a while, and it felt good to be back home without having to rush around to cram everything into a couple short days.

Most of my time was spent meeting up with friends and family, and wondering around town and taking lots of photos. A couple highlights included:

  • Meeting local bloggers Randy Simes, the Provost of Cincinnati, Sherman Cahal, and a few others for drinks on Fountain Square. Randy was also kind enough to meet up for drinks and give me a brief driving tour of the city the day before. It’s nice to meet up with people who share a passion for the city and who are doing what they can to make it a better place.
  • I had a meeting with a longtime professor at the University of Cincinnati’s school of architecture to talk about the program and have him look over my portfolio. The meeting went well, and I came away cautiously optimistic that, if all goes well, I’ll be starting my M.Arch. degree at UC around this time next year. I’m trying not to jinx myself by getting my hopes up too high before anything is official, but it’s hard not to be excited about the idea.
  • I was able to visit the Cincinnati Zoo, Union Terminal, and a few other spots around town that I haven’t had a chance to visit in far too long.

Most importantly, though, the trip was a chance to remind myself how comfortable Cincinnati feels to me, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to finally move back there.

The only real black mark on the whole trip was the return flight to New York. I showed up at Cincinnati / Northern Kentucky Airport (CVG) at around 6 PM for an 8 PM flight. But the flight kept getting delayed because they were waiting for a crew member to arrive on an inbound flight from JFK, and when they finally loaded us onto the plane at 11 PM, we taxied out to the runway only to be informed that the plane had some mechanical issues. We sat there for an hour while some mechanics tinkered around with the hydraulic system, before finally sending us back to the gate and canceling the flight. They put us up in a hotel, and then I was finally able to catch a 4:30 PM flight the next day. I landed at JFK at around 7:00 Saturday evening, 25 hours after first arriving at CVG for my departure. And people wonder why I hate flying so much…

Here are lots of photos. Click on the title to view the full album.

Fort Thomas, Kentucky

I was born in Cincinnati near Mariemont, but I spent most of my childhood just across the river in Fort Thomas, Kentucky. “Cake Town” is about as middle-America as you can possibly get, a cozy bedroom community strung along the top of a steep ridge overlooking the Ohio River, best known for its excellent public schools and its streets of tidy, well-kept houses. The type of place where you want to wake up on Christmas morning.

For me, it’s always refreshing going back there. Almost every spot in the city has some sort of childhood memory associated with it. No matter where I’ve been and what kinds of sordid ordeals I’ve been going through in my life, I feel like I can always go back and find Fort Thomas pretty much just as I had left it.

Most of my extended family and a few old friends in the Cincinnati area still live either in or near Fort Thomas, so the town typically serves as the hub of my activities during my periodic visits back home.

Prior to my most recent visit, though, it occurred to me that I hardly had any photos of the city, so I made a special point to remedy that oversight with my new digital camera. (63 photos)

Downtown Cincinnati and the Riverfront

While growing up in the Cincinnati area, downtown was like the nerve center of my universe. I was always begging my parents to take me over there. Until I visited Atlanta for the first time in high school, Cincinnati was the largest city I had ever been in. Later in my life I found myself living in places like Chicago and New York City, so downtown Cincy no longer really impresses me with its bigness.

That said, downtown Cincy is no slouch, and there are some much larger American cities that would kill to have a central business district as strong as Cincinnati’s. Many fine old buildings have been preserved and restored, the streets are generally clean and well-kept, and things are looking up. Downtown went through some rough periods through the 90’s and 2000’s, but the mood seems much more optimistic now that vacant storefronts are being filled and more people are choosing to actually live downtown. (108 photos)


To the north of downtown lies Cincinnati’s famed (and infamous) Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, a spectacular collection of 19th Century Italianate buildings that was once the most densely-populated American neighborhood outside of New York City. OTR spent much of the post-war period as a burned-out ghetto, but is now finally being rediscovered and redeveloped. Think of it as Cincinnati’s answer to the Lower East Side. (32 photos)

Union Terminal

Have you ever been given a priceless family heirloom or antique that, despite its incredible beauty and functionality, never seems to really fit anywhere in your home? That seems to be the dilemma Cincinnati has faced with its magnificent Union Terminal complex over the years. Completed in 1933, Union Terminal was not only one of the finest examples of art deco architecture in the world, but it was also one of the best-planned transportation facilities of its age. A large concourse spanned the tracks at the rear of the building and provided stairs to each train platform. At the front, dedicated ramps for taxis, busses, and streetcars funneled passengers to their ultimate destinations in an efficient manner. The central hub of activity was the massive half-domed rotunda.

Unfortunately, Union Terminal opened just as passenger rail in the US was beginning its long decline. Despite an upsurge in rail travel during the Second World War, the building soon found itself empty and obsolete. In 1974, the Southern Railway demolished the concourse to make room for an expanded yard for its freight operations. As if to add insult to injury, all but one of the concourse’s famous murals were relocated to the new airport across the river in Boone County, Kentucky.

In 1990, Union Terminal re-opened as a home to the Cincinnati History Museum, the Museum of Natural History & Science, an Ominmax theater, and a children’s museum. The following year, Amtrak resurrected the building’s original function as a passenger rail station in a limited way, with its Cardinal train calling at the station three times a week in each direction.

With plans underway to develop a regional high-speed rail system, Union Terminal may once again see its place restored as a magnificent gateway to the city. (25 photos)

University of Cincinnati

My earliest memories of the UC campus are from some sort of grade school field trip to Nippert Stadium. Since then, many parts of the campus have been completely rebuilt, and the campus now includes new structures by some of the most prominent architects currently practicing. (46 photos)

Maysville, Kentucky

One of the most frustrating things about living in NYC without a car is that I don’t often get the chance to take a nice long drive on country highways. So, this past week I decided to take a break from Cincinnati and head down Kentucky 8 towards the historic river town of Maysville. The town’s history dates back to before the American Revolution, and it was an important waypoint for travelers navigating the Ohio River. (10 photos)

Mount Adams, Eden Park, and the Krohn Conservatory

The Cincinnati neighborhood of Mount Adams and adjacent Eden Park have always been one of my favorite parts of the city. Mount Adams is a vibrant urban neighborhood that consists of steep, narrow streets that wouldn’t be out of place in San Francisco, and densely-spaced row houses that cling to the hillside for dear life.

Eden Park, although not the city’s largest public park, is arguably the best-known and most popular. The park features the Cincinnati Art Museum, the Krohn Conservatory, and incredible views overlooking the Ohio River. (66 photos)

Cincinnati Zoo

It had been ages since the last time I visited the Cincinnati Zoo, so I decided to stop by and check the place out. It’s the second-oldest zoo in the US (opened in 1875, only 14 months after the Philadelphia Zoo) and is consistently ranked as one of the best zoos in America. (59 photos)

Village of Mariemont

Mariemont was founded as a planned community in 1923, and modeled after an idyllic English village. I was born nearby, so I guess you could say my Anglophile streak goes back a long way. My maternal grandmother, now 86 years old and still sharp as a tack, still lives a few blocks away. (20 photos)

Around Town

Here are a few neighborhood shots and various other photos that don’t neatly fit into albums of their own. This album includes Columbia-Tusculum, Hyde Park, Mount Lookout, Spring Grove Cemetery, and an unplanned late night at CVG Airport. (41 photos)


Truth and fact are two distinct concepts. The story I’m about to tell is truthful, and contains elements that are factual.

The year was 2005, the city was Chicago, and I was on my way back home after building a LEED-Platinum orphanage in Darfur and helping sweatshop workers in a Pakistani rug factory form a labor union. As my Blue Line train from O’Hare pulled into the Damen Avenue station, I put away the tattered copy of Marx’s Communist Manifesto that I had been reading for the 20th time, adjusted my black fedora, and stepped off the train. A group of fellow comrades from the leftist blog site known as Archinect had planned a get-together at a local bar, Rodan, so that we could plot our workers’ uprising against the capitalist pigs and discuss the chances of the White Sox actually making it to the World Series that year (though not necessarily in that order).

Amidst the bourgeois 20-something hipsters filling the impeccably-detailed space of Rodan, there sat a group of fellow revolutionaries who went by the code names of lletdownl, make, postal, and floating tooth. I bought a beer and joined them, and the conversation throughout the evening was engaging and thoughtful.

Toward the end of the evening, our group began to thin out, and looking at the time on my union-made wristwatch, I decided that I too should head back to my modest apartment, located in the nearby shantytown known locally as Lincoln Park. Before leaving, though, I had to made a quick pit stop in the men’s room. After relieving myself and zipping up, a disturbed-looking man-child called out to me from a nearby toilet.

He introduced himself as “evilplatypus”. As I backed nervously out of the men’s room, he followed me and informed me that he was headed to the bar, and asked me if I wanted a drink. I noted that he curiously spoke only in lower-case letters, but never being one to pass up a free drink, I took him up on his offer. “Sure. Extra-dry Tanqueray martini”, I replied.

“whoa!”, he exclaimed. “that shit’s expensive. i’ll get u a pbr instead.”

An hour later, evilplatypus returned from the bar and handed me a lukewarm Pabst Blue Ribbon lager with a hair floating in it. I removed the hair as I considered making a run for the door, but I didn’t want to be rude and decided to stick around just long enough to finish the beer. We were in a public place, so what’s the worst that could happen to me? We found a place to sit down. Rodan’s sound system pulsated with house music, and somewhere out on the street, a dog barked twice.

The conversation with evilplatypus began amicably enough, the same way a conversation with the Jehovah’s Witness on your front porch begins with awkward small talk about the weather. In the back of your mind you know he’s there with an agenda, and evilplatypus was no different. He described his occupation as an architect who makes six figures designing strip malls and toxic chemical factories in poor neighborhoods. In addition to being the architect of record for every Wal-Mart store in DuPage County, he was also the local EIFS product rep for northeastern Illinois.

By this point I was beginning to sense something about the guy that I didn’t quite like, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.

Finally, he sprung his trap. With my back to the corner and my glass of lukewarm PBR still three-quarters full, he asked, “r u familiar with the writings of ayn rand and the objectivist movement? i’m a registered democrat only because the city won’t approve my building permit applications otherwise, but i really think the libertarians have some good ideas. let me explain 2 u the virtues of a free market economy, u pussy fag douchebag.”

Curses! The classic Lukewarm PBR Bait-and-Switch: the oldest trick in the book, and I fell for it. Must have been the jet lag.

For the next three hours evilplatypus recited to me from memory John Galt’s courtroom monologue from Atlas Shrugged. I was able to get an occasional glimpse of the exit sign above the front door, but evilplatypus blocked my every move as he continued to talk. I tried to gain the attention of the attractive bartender so that she could summon the authorities, but she was too busy admiring the ironic John Deere t-shirt worn by some emo kid at the other end of the room. This time there would be no escape; I was in it for a long haul.

Finally, after finishing my lukewarm PBR and agreeing to spec 100,000 square feet of EIFS for my W Hotel project in downtown Prague, I was permitted to leave. “u should come here for brunch sometime,” evilplatypus said as I donned my trench coat. “there eggs benedict has the best traditional hollandaise sauce i’ve ever tasted.”

I nodded and hurriedly walked out the door. Shaken, but now more determined than ever to overthrow the shackles of greed and oppression that enslave the world, I lit a Gauloise and made my way down Milwaukee Avenue. I glanced back toward Rodan to see evilplatypus kick a homeless man in the kneecap and tell him to get a job, and then disappear into the dark streets of the city.

I vowed never to look back again, but deep in my heart I knew this wouldn’t be my last encounter with evilplatypus.

Well, Bless His Heart

In the criminal justice system of Cincinnati, the people are represented by three separate yet equally important groups: the police who investigate crime, the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders, and the goddamn Shadow Hare.

These are their stories.

If the Shadow Hare and his friends are really serious about fighting crime, they’ll need a good Hall of Justice.

Escape from New York

This past Saturday, with clear skies and temps in the 70’s, I decided that it was the perfect day to take a long-overdue break from the concrete canyons of Manhattan.

I picked up the rental car at around noon, and took the Saw Mill River Parkway and Taconic Parkway up the east side of the Hudson River to the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge. After crossing over, I made my way through Saugarties and Palenville to Catskills State Park. Highway 23A is a steep, windy road that heads up through a dramatic gorge that wouldn’t be out of place in the Oregon Cascades.

I pulled over at the trailhead to Kaaterskill Falls and hiked the half-mile trail to the base of the falls. While fairly short, the steepness of the trail and the rocky terrain made it one of the more brutal hikes I’ve taken on either coast. (I’ve noticed that many Northeastern hiking trails tend to be fairly trashy and head straight up the side of a steep hill, while the trails I hiked in the Northwest tend to ease you up a hill through a series of switchbacks.) Probably doesn’t help that I’m completely out of shape and that it’s been months since I’ve walked on something that isn’t made of asphalt or concrete.

Once I made it back to the car, I drove the long way around through the Catskills, passing through a series of some quaint and not-so-quaint small towns and hamlets. Woodstock was particularly interesting; the whole town is like one giant head shop, and I saw a couple people wandering around who appeared to have been “wandering” around town since 1969. It’s sort of like a hyper-condensed version of Eugene, Oregon. (I later learned that the 1969 Woodstock music festival took place about 40-some miles from the actual town of Woodstock.)

On the way back toward the city, I came back down the west side of the Hudson on Highways 32 and 17, passing through Kingston, New Paltz, etc. before eventually finding myself driving through the suburban wastelands of northern New Jersey. I was able to stop in IKEA and pick up a new dresser as planned, and then came back into the city via the George Washington Bridge.

I need to make a point to do something like this much more often. The scenery north of NYC is quite beautiful, and (at least depending on which route you take) it’s amazing how it transitions from urban to almost-rural within a very short distance. Compare to Chicagoland, where you have to drive through almost 40 miles of suburban sprawl before you get anywhere that even resembles “rural”, and even then you’re out in the middle of cornfields rather than mountains and forests.