CityBeat’s Living Out Loud – Cincinnati Blog

{September 30, 2006}   Shooting Pool

shooting_pool.jpgI go to this bar every Friday night after work and I see him there. He’s usually with his friends, always shooting pool. We’ve made eye contact a couple times and once he smiled at me.

The girls I’m with don’t know this but I like this man shooting pool, like his long legs, thin body and long black hair. I wouldn’t mind being with him.

Sometimes other guys buy me drinks and I’ll sit and talk with them for a while. I’ve gone home with a few of them and it was always all right. That’s the problem – it was just all right.

Next month, I turn 30. Hell, it might as well be 40. I feel the old clock ticking, you know? I should be doing something about it, shake up this old life of mine, get out of my rut. Maybe get out of Cincinnati or just go to other bars and see new faces.

Not on Friday. I’ll be at that same bar, watching that man shooting pool.

Teri Archer


{September 29, 2006}   Nose Blow

Phil Heimlich and I don’t have much in common except that we both appear to have colds. I’m feeling better and I hope Phil is too.

Larry Gross

{September 28, 2006}   Support Our Peace Workers

sit-in-at-chabots-office.jpgchabot-steve.jpgwar.jpgcarew-tower.jpg (Photo credit for the sit-in: Matt Borgerding)

The U.S. military has taken over a foreign country, but I was charged with trespassing for merely sitting in my congressman’s Cincinnati office. It happened Wednesday.

Seven of us went to U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot’s office in the Carew Tower about 1 p.m. and asked his staff to fax him our request that he sign the Congressional Declaration of Peace. We told the staff we wouldn’t leave until Chabot signed.

At 5 p.m. the office closed for the day, and we were asked to leave. We asked if Chabot had yet signed the peace declaration. He hadn’t. We again told the staff we wouldn’t leave until he signed. At 8 p.m. Cincinnati Police officers arrested the seven of us on a charge of criminal trespassing.

Handcuffs are uncomfortable. The paddy wagon was cramped. The jail search was unpleasant. Sitting in a cell is boring. But the war in Iraq is a crime against peace, against humanity. The real criminals — George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld — are still at work, and we are free on bond.

Gregory Flannery

{September 28, 2006}   I Escaped!

I woke up this morning and found this in my inbox.
It’s about 12:30 a.m. and I was just released. John posted my bail.
Going home now. Court in the morning. Talk to you soon.

More details later.

Larry Gross

{September 27, 2006}   A Strange Day

aidsribbon.jpgcover5-1.jpghobo.jpgNo doubt about it, it’s going to be a strange day for me but maybe that’s all right – maybe that’s what I need.

Twelve years ago today, my twin brother passed away. He died of AIDS. Usually on the anniversary of his death, I feel sad and sometimes spend the day feeling sorry for myself – feeling sorry that he’s not here with me. I’m trying really hard to buck up this time around, because I know he would want me to live everyday of my life to the fullest, just like he did.

On the anniversary of his death, I want to say that twelve years later, people are still dying from AIDS. After my brother died, I volunteered for AVOC and still write about the illness as often as I can. I think Jered – that was my twin’s name – would be proud of me for doing this.

I still got that red ribbon that I wore at his funeral and for me and others who have lost loved ones to this horrible illness, it’s a reminder that AIDS is not dead and we need to find a cure.

I wonder what Jered would think of my friend Greg? No doubt, he would think the world of him like I do. Greg’s also on my mind today as, no doubt, he will be arrested for standing up for what he believes in.

He’ll be in Steve Chabot’s office this afternoon. He and others will request that Chabot sign the Congressional Declaration of Peace and they will wait there refusing to leave until he does.

Chabot’s not going to sign it – that’s a given, but Greg and his friends want to stop this war and they stand on their principles. I would normally be with them, but see, I got this book signing to do.

I’ll be at Hobo Books in Northside tonight, reading from my book, “Signed, Sealed and Delivered: Stories,” and also reading from the Living Out Loud column. It should be a lot of fun. We start up at six and my buddy Sara will be driving me on down the hill to Northside from Clifton.

I wonder what Jered would think of Sara? That’s an easy question to answer. They would become good friends just like we are.

All right, one more cup of coffee, then it’s time to start the day. Yes, a strange one is ahead but I think it’s going to be a good one.

Larry Gross

{September 26, 2006}   Noisy Kids Not Allowed

screaming-kid.jpgI was at an Olive Garden one night having dinner with my wife. We don’t go to Olive Garden very often because we consider the restaurant to be somewhat of a treat. We only go on special occasions when we feel we deserve the Olive Garden-type food. Imagine our horror as we were seated next to a family with a very angry kid.

It seemed like every minute the kid would scream at the top of his lungs in anger. His scream made my ears pulsate as if they were wanting to implode in order to block off the evil shriek. The pressure inside my head was so great with each scream that I grimaced in the same way I react when someone runs their nails across a chalkboard or plays with a bunch of styrofoam.

The family eventually left, taking the evil heathen with them. I did not say anything to the family to voice my disgust over the kid’s behavior, but I did give the parents and kid a few dirty looks.

Unfortunately, my encounter with the noisy kid is an all-too-common experience for many people. According to an article on MSNBC (No brats allowed!), many establishments are setting firm rules on the behavior of children. I suppose the logical argument would be, “If parents refuse to control their kids, we will.”

One of the statements in the article was that North Carolina started an online petition to establish child-free restaurants. The petition loosely compared noisy kids with unwanted cigarette smoke. I wish to expand on the cigarette smoke analogy and not give it the “loose” treatment.

Cigarettes used to be okay for people to smoke on airplanes, in restaurants, hotels, airports, government buildings, and a variety of other venues without a second thought of violating some kind of law or ordinance. Currently, smoking in many places is either against the law (or banned) due to various health concerns and customer inconvenience. My question is, would smoking be against the law had the smokers respected the rights of the non-smoker? I can only theorize, but I bet if smokers kept their second-hand smoke out of the lungs of the non-smokers to begin with, there would be no need for smoking legislation.

I’m not trying to compare kids to second hand smoke. I’m comparing the behavior of smokers and noisy kids in regards to their environment. There are places where it is generally accepted to smoke, e.g., bars, clubs, and pool halls. Likewise, there are places where kids are expected to be loud and obnoxious such as daycare, playgrounds, and parks. Just as the general public slowly grew intolerant towards cigarette smoke, the public may becoming intolerant towards noisy kids.

Granted, noisy kids are not toxic like cigarette smoke. No noisy kid is ever going to give someone lung cancer. The bigger point here is that when certain groups of people are inconsiderate of their environment, the public fights back (e.g., cell phone users).

Just like smokers, noisy kids belong in certain places. One of those places is not at an Olive Garden during dinnertime (especially my dinnertime).

Ronald Huereca

{September 25, 2006}   When Is it Right to Rebel?

iranian_troops1.jpggreg.jpgI’m a student of the Holocaust, about which there are many myths. Perhaps the most common and the most pernicious is the myth that, if we were around when people were rounding up Jews for murder — or Muslims or African Americans or illegal immigrants — we would do something about it.

Standing up to the state when it commits a crime is a fearsome endeavor. We don’t want to go to jail, lose our jobs, suffer loss of face.

Yet our society honors the civil disobedience that shaped our moral identity: the Boston Tea Party, the Underground Railroad, the Suffragettes.

Is there a time when you would break the law to stop a crime by the state? What kind of crime would it be?

For me and a small group of others, the time is 1 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 27, when we begin a sit-in at the office of U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot. Our one demand is that he sign the Congressional Declaration of Peace, which would require the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq by March 20, 2007, the fourth anniversary of the war.

The U.S. invasion of Iraq was a crime, and we must end the killing that we started four years ago.

If you would like to support our effort, go to Chabot’s office at the Carew Tower at 1 p.m. Wednesday. Other peace supporters will be gathering in front of the building. You don’t have to break the law. Just stand in support of the peace movement. Together we can stop this war.

Gregory Flannery

{September 24, 2006}   “Satisfy Susie” by Lonnie Mack

Lonnie Mack is a local boy who made good. He only had one real major hit and that was “Memphis” back in the 60’s, but that doesn’t really mean anything does it? He was and is a hell of a guitar player.

Here’s a recording of him made December 6, 1985 at Carnegie Hall in New York City. The quality of the video isn’t so hot, but the sound is pure Lonnie Mack.

Larry Gross

{September 23, 2006}   Willie and His Weed

willie-nelson.jpgmarijuana.gifmaher-0514.jpg Last night on HBO’s “Read Time with Bill Maher,” Bill had some funny things to say during his “New Rules” bit about Willie Nelson’s recent weed problem.

“Until we win World War III and crush the evildoers in what our president calls a ‘struggle for civilization’ – all law enforcement people have to work on THAT, and not on busting Willie Nelson. This week, Willie Nelson, whom Donald Rumsfeld calls the ‘number two man in al-Qaeda’ – was the victim of a pointless search that revealed he had with him a mere pound and a half of marijuana and a fifth of a pound of psychedelic mushrooms – or as Willie calls it, breakfast.”

I was beginning to think Willie got busted in Cincinnati, but no wait, he was here a few weeks back. Bill continued on.

That’s right, cops in Louisiana pulled over his tour bus and searched it based on probable cause, the probable cause being it contained Willie Nelson. The Fuzz then hassled Willie, demanded he cut his hair and shot Peter Fonda off his motorcycle. I mean, Louisiana, come on, your state was under water a year ago – if the man wants some of it for his bong, let him. Yes, he had mushrooms – he’s a hundred year old hippie, they were growing in his hair.”

“Are we trying to send a message to other aging celebrities who might be thinking about recreational drug use? Watch out, Wilfred Brimley. Alberto Gonzales wants to know what you’re sprinkling on your Quaker Oats.”

Now Willie appeared on “Real Time” last season and in part, talked a little bit about his bus. I was glad to hear Bill bring it up again.

Everybody’s got something. But if there’s one drug above all we should be cracking down on, it’s oil. Oil is the addiction poisoning our lungs, and our political system, and our foreign policy. Willie Nelson, high though he might have been, was on a bus that didn’t pollute anything, because it runs on bio-diesel. But bio-diesel threatens the profits of Big Oil, which means the only way we’re ever going to legalize pot in this country is to convince Bush and Cheney it’s a petroleum product. And it may be, all my bongs have a carburetor.”

“Hemp is another product that threatens oil and timber profits, because it has so many uses, like rope and bio-fuel and textiles. The Declaration of Independence is written on it. President Bush could use it to make another “Mission Accomplished” banner. If he could only accomplish a mission.”

And then Bill brings it home. . .

But that’s hard when you lose focus. Let’s focus on defending America, and leave the singers and the medical marijuana patients alone. Because, believe me, when you bite into one of their special baked goods, in about 20 minutes you’ll be saying, ‘You’re doing a heckuva job, brownie.'”

Willie, next time you play at Riverbend, maybe I’ll smoke a joint with you. I’ll ask Bill to join us.

Larry Gross

{September 22, 2006}   A Short Cooking Lesson

boiling-pot.jpgYou have a pot on the stove. It’s boiling over. What to do? Easy: Remove the lid and turn down the heat.

You have violence in Cincinnati boiling over. What to do?

Most of the proposed solutions–and there have been many lately–fall under the heading of tightening the lid. Hiring more cops and building more jail space are metaphors for tightening the lid.

A minority of solutions has called for turning down the heat. Persons offering this solution are ridiculed by the lid-tighteners as “pie-in-the-sky root causers.”

The first thing Cincinnatians need to ask themselves is: Are we trying to cook beans here? If not, what is the metaphor for heat, and where is the dial to turn it down?

The metaphor for heat is society’s laws that attempt to stop actions that have no victims. For comparison, murder and theft have victims. Drinking a beer while standing on a public sidewalk has no victim. Victimless crimes are commonly referred to as vice laws.

In a democracy, vice laws are for expressing the distaste of the majority for the habits and customs of the minority. Vice laws create heat in many ways: They are impossible to enforce. They encourage anti-government rebelliousness. Because they are impossible to enforce, they incite ridicule of government, which is taken out on police in a variety of subtle and not so subtle ways. They create a vicious cycle.

One category of vice laws causes a disproportionate amount of heat. It’s commonly referred to as the War on Drugs. This war, coupled with racial disparities, has evolved into genocide against young, male African-Americans. Absent a war on drugs, the profit in drug-dealing would decline so drastically that drugs would come off street corners and go back into legitimate retail establishments. Street corner drug dealers would no longer be enticed into pursuing a life of crime; a life they are teaching their children.

If Cincinnatians could agree on what’s causing the heat, the next question should be: Do we look to either the chief of police or the sheriff for answers? No. Why? The job of our so-called justice system is to cook beans. To them, that’s job security. If they were ever to produce the tranquility we all desire, they would be out of a job, and they know it. If producing tranquility in society were an experiment being conducted by scientists, police would long ago have been determined to be as useless as are leeches in curing bodily diseases.

Is it possible that removing the lid could truly help stop the boiling over of violence? Perhaps the natural tendency of society, if there were no government “lid,” is toward tranquility, over the long term? Come to think of it, isn’t that the second law of thermodynamics? Our dilemma is that we will not know; at least not in our lifetimes. That’s because the professionals most of us trust to bring about tranquility happen to be the same professionals who have a vested interest in continuing to apply the heat… as well as the lid.

David E. Gallaher

et cetera