Friday, September 1, 2017

August 2017

I’ve now been doing these monthly posts for a year. One of the things I like about them is that they’re a visual record, a reminder of just how many things can transpire in a time period of 28-31 days. It’s a good way to remind myself to live in the moment and appreciate what’s going around me rather than just always looking ahead to the next thing. So here’s some photographs and stories that didn’t fit into larger articles or posts here on QC/D, ones made in the month of August 2017. 

Photographs made with a Canon 7DMKII, iPhone 7+, and a GoPro Hero 4. 

- Downtown’s unique collection of buildings spanning various time periods and the parking lots that surround them.

- Parking sign and sticker, Oakley neighborhood of Cincinnati. 

- Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. 

- Fireworks outlet in Michigan designed in the faux-German/Alpine/Bavarian style. 

The above photograph was made while on my way “up” through Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. I spent the whole way “down” wandering about and road tripping, ultimately ending up in Detroit.

- Burt Lake, Michigan.

- Lunchtime view, Downtown Cincinnati. 

Eric (left) and I grew up on the same street as kids. Until the night this photograph was made, I hadn't seen him since I was 7 years old. We've kept in touch online off and on over the years, but 2017 was the first time we spoke face to face since 1996. Through college, he made some friends that hailed from and still reside in Covington, KY. It was great getting to meet all of them and catch up with him, sharing beer and overlooking the city skyline.

- The Metro to FC Cincinnati matches is the best way to go. 

JACK Casino’s upper balcony has an impressive view of the nearby jail (top), but also has a good view of downtown, even if it's raining (below).

- Nick, a key figure in the Waffle House Stories asking in the sun at where else but our Waffle House. Still don’t care for the iPhone’s “portrait” mode. 

- Hey, girl. OTR.

- Hitchcock would've enjoyed this view at 7/Main in Downtown Cincinnati.

My friend Cedric and I both work day jobs in Downtown Cincinnati. Occasionally, we’ll go in search of eclectic, off the beaten path, lesser known, or less reputable places to eat lunch. One day, I passed a sign for Empress Chili on Main St. The sign proclaimed one of the more obscure of Cincinnati’s chili parlors to be offered in a nearby restaurant known as “Americana Cafe.” I remember seeing Empress as a kid growing up, but these days there are only two standalone locations. Its name kind of gets lost in the shuffle of other chili proprietors: Skyline, Gold Star, Price Hill, Pleasant Ride, Camp Washington, Dixie, Blue Ash, etc. I was intrigued, determined that Cedric and I go find this rare chili downtown. Googling “Americana Cafe,” I found an online menu and that it’s actually located within the Federal Building, and not just a publicly accessible restaurant off the skywalk. It’s in the Federal Building. The building where you have to take off your belt and shoes to gain admittance. Undeterred, we went through the whole airport style security screen, explaining to the wand waving guards that we were looking for the cafe and this special chili. They laughed and had no idea what we were talking about. Turns out, “Americana Cafe” is the employee cafeteria and they had no idea it even served Cincinnati style chili, neither of them had actually been in there before. After checking to see if it was ok for us to eat there given that we’re not occupants of the building or receiving paychecks from the Federal Government, they waved us through. I held on to my pants, now much looser since I’ve lost weight (and since I had to remove my belt for the metal detector). I figured I’d make them fit just fine again once I at enough of this chili. The whole admission process takes awhile, but maybe it'd be worth it for a rare variant of the local delicacy.

We entered the restaurant and found a cafe that looked as if the interior designer had been directly inspired by “The Max” on Saved By The Bell. Adult contemporary, “easy listening” music played on the speakers above as restaurant goers sat at tables adorned with bright, 1990’s style colors. At the counter we found some salad bars, notably absent of salad or any kind of food. The menu on the wall advertised a few things, but no chili. Turns out, they don’t actually serve Empress here. As we debated ordering something else from there, Cedric remembered they had Empress at the nearby Red Squirrel restaurant. Despite the hassle to get in, we turned around and left.

As it would turn out, Red Squirrel is no longer Red, it’s just called The Squirrel now. Yet, the menu board in this basement establishment off Walnut St. still proclaimed Empress. I ordered a double decker, chips, and a cheese coney. Cedric went straight for the chili: two coneys and a bowl. I ate all of my food and ordered one more coney, wanting to see if I could taste a difference in the chili.

In the end, Empress was good, but it’s not Skyline and we’re probably now on some cryptic government watch list.

- Remains of the components for a dumbwaiter beneath a popular Cincinnati drinking establishment. 

- My cousin Katie wanted her senior photos done in Newport and on the Purple People Bridge. This won't be one of them. 

- Walnut St. after a day of rain. 

- Riding the train with a bus that looks like a train in the background.

I hate to admit it, but my attendance of Reds games has dwindled in recent years. In 2010, I made it to 33 games (30 at home, 3 on the road) across one season before the playoffs even hit. In following years, I went on extensive road and train trips to follow the team, while still catching them here on the riverfront. In 2015, I only made it to a few, but did have the opportunity to catch the All-Star Game. Then in 2016: nothing. Until the end of August this year: just one.

I think there’s plenty of room in this city for multiple major league teams to exist. Whether FC Cincinnati makes it to MLS or not, there’s enough entertainment go around. Reds, Bengals, Orange and Blue soccer. There was an article recently arguing that FCC was drawing attendees away from Reds home stands. On occasion, the local division 2 soccer club has even outdrawn the Redlegs (although the team in Nippert plays far less home games and the Reds are in the midst of an abysmal season). I dismissed it as divisive click bait, but I think there’s some truth to it. As soccer finally took off here, I was incredibly excited. On the weekends, I found myself at Nippert far more often than I even thought about watching Homer Bailey and a random list of starters attempt to pitch. I’m not a fair weather fan, I love the Reds and try to catch every game on the radio (suffering through 700 WLW’s horribly repetitive promos and the same, grating Home Depot commercial 70x), but it’s hard to split time. In the little free time I do have, it’s often more appealing to just tune in to frustrating baseball on the airwaves rather than go down to the ballpark.

Nevertheless, it was great to finally make it back for a game, joining some old friends who I spent many of those 30+, 2010 games with. This Reds season hasn’t been great and they were playing fellow bottom standing mates, the New York Mets. Yet, even with the threat of bad weather (that turned into a nice night) and the resumption of local schools, I was surprised to hear only ~10,000 announced as attending. Sometimes though, it’s nice to have the ballpark to yourself. I don’t think the low attendance of one, irrelevant game at the end of write off season is a sign of foreboding, but Jesus Christ I hope the Reds can return to some of the winning ways seen circa 2010-2013.

And get rid of Bryan Price.

- Fog in the neighborhood. 

When I was a kid, my parents would take us to the Zoo. Sometimes, we got to eat fast food afterwards, a special treat for young human beings with simple taste buds. Leaving the Zoo near Vine St., I’d ask my dad why we just didn’t go eat at Richie’s Restaurant, as opposed to going all the way back to the McDonald’s near our suburban home. I don’t blame him for passing it up, Richie’s always looked a little rough from the outside and for a guy that wouldn't dare touch a fast food joint connected to a gas station, he certainly wasn’t stopping at Richie's. In the past 20 years though, I’ve always heard the local chain touted as having some of the best fried chicken in the city. Finally, I made the effort to go. No one’s changed the letters on the sign in awhile, the paint on the outside of the building is faded, and the employee may screw up your order, but the chicken is damn good.

- Ending the month enjoying beer and conversation with "The Man with The Camera Tattoo" a.k.a. 5chw4r7z.

The stories from August 2017:

Toynbee Tiles and House of Hades | Cryptic messages embedded into the streets of our city (and others). What do they mean? Who put them there? What can they teach us about how we view each other?

Michigan 2017 | From Indian River to Detroit, a road trip traversing Michigan's massive lower peninsula in one day. Featuring abandoned tourist attractions, a forgotten drive-in, an army surplus store, streetcars, good food, and more.

The Miracle Twin Drive-In Theatre | Near Flint, MI, another abandoned drive-in theatre becomes the fifth one documented on this website, but the first to feature two intact screens.

A proposed Soccer Stadium, A Stalled Development, and a Question of How We Define What Exactly is "Cincinnati" | FC Cincinnati may build their new stadium across the river in Newport, KY. Is it a good location? Is it really "Cincinnati?" Why is there all that vacant land on the KY riverfront?

Abandoned Dentist Office | A quick urban exploration post and a first for QC/D: an abandoned dentist chair.

The Village Troubador | A quick little post about a closed bank, how it became a coffee shop, and how you can enjoy espresso in a former vault.

Solar Eclipse | I didn't care about the eclipse. And then I did. From atop the Carew Tower.

Your Call Could Not Be Connected, Please Check The Number And Try To Call [Metrobot] Again | A social media post leads me looking for a payphone. I found one at the base of a Cincinnati landmark that also happens to be a giant robot sculpture. How it got here, the important artist who created it, and how it all intersects with several other QC/D stories over the years. Also, most importantly: did the phone work?

[Fading Advertisements] Second National Bank? Hidden in Plain View | I've been photographing ghost signs in this spot for years, yet never saw this one right out in the open. 

The Building That Changes Color | A new highrise on the Cincinnati skyline has a unique exterior.

1 comment:

  1. BayHorse!! And, I didn't realize that you went to The Squirrel when I replied to the Frisch's post. It used to be a Frisch's, back in the day. :-)