Midwestern Church: The Yard Sale

yardsaleWhen in Ohio, do like the Ohioans do.

And what Ohioans do in the stagnant, damp, corn-girdled heat of August is gather on their front lawns with the all the crap they’ve accumulated over the last decade, hoping desperately to get rid of that second toaster or vintage Queen t-shirts and make an extra buck.

It would be imprudent of me not to engage in this time-honored behavior just because I’m technically just visiting my old Ohio home. My Brooklyn address does not exempt me from nourishing my roots.

So I will be taking part in the annual Northside Community Yardsale next Saturday in an effort to sell some of the superfluous rubbish that’s taking over my apartment, such VHS tapes (Mary-Kate and Ashley’s Sleepover Party, anyone?), CDs (iTunes now gets all my money), and, of course, the every-meal of champions, fresh-baked bread by your truly (I was Betty “Effin” Crocker in another life, I swear).

The yard sale really is integral to the fabric of communities, like the set-in wine stain that can’t be Oxy-cleaned off. It grants neighbors and communities the opportunity to get to know one another through the exploration of their intimate belongings. It’s benign, yet intensely personal. I was rummaging through my old Goth clothes last night and was having a difficulties deciding what to part with. While I will never wear my fur-lined ladies’ trench coat ever again, the idea of letting out of my sight was terrifying for a few moments.

Someone else could have possession of a relic of my former lives. It could transcend me and begin anew with another. It’s like breaking up with your past and realizing that you can’t remain friends afterward.

It’s sad, yet tacitly liberating too.

Road Map through Europe

Here. It. Is.

The final mash-up map of my European vacation. I visited five countries and over 15 cities. I heard nearly 10 languages on the daily (much like one might on any given day in Midtown), had beer for breakfast, bolstered my German skills, mastered four cities’ subway systems, had wine-drenched picnics by the Seine, heard about Michael Jackson’s death in Brussels in Dutch with French subtitles, hung out at the E.U., NATO, the Bundestag. and the Louvre.

So follow my bread crumbs.

The Daily Upper: Sachsenhausen

Today myself and my RIAS Fellows travelled to Oranienburg, a small town about a hour north of Berlin, where we visited the Sachsenhausen Concentration camp. On previous German excursions, I’ve visited other camps, such as Dachau in Munich. The experience is always informative, yet completely sobering and terrifying. It’s cliche, but you wonder what subtle humors lie underneath the surface of man that allows them to commit such unspeakable acts against their fellow men. 

Enough of that. Here’s a a slideshow for your enjoyment:

Slouching Towards Berlin

TV Tower in Former East Berlin

TV Tower in Former East Berlin

My RIAS Fellowship is officially underway! I arrived in Berlin Sunday afternoon by way of Amsterdam and the afternoon walking around the city, meeting other fellow Fellows, and absorbing the liberty that comes with being outside the U.S.

 

Monday morning, with full-blown jet lag, I descended upon the breakfast nook at the Relexa Hotel –a magnificent edifice in East Berlin several blocks from Checkpoint Charlie– and then went sightseeing around the city, gazing at the vast and numerous monuments and relics of the city’s rich history. Berlin really is like a very active museum, artifacts littered throughout the city: chunks of the Berlin Wall can be found throughout the city, government buildings –such as the Reichstag–have been rebuilt and remodeled to reflect the the newfound, transparent ideology that emerged after the WWII and the Cold War, and memorials of tragedies and history can be found on nearly every street corner.

It’s almost as if Germans have a compulsory need to remember and atone simultaneously for their latter-day atrocities with oddly magnificent structures.

Tuesday, we met with a German journalist and Peter Altmaier, a parliamentarian, at the Ministry of the Interior. Following the interview, RIAS officials hired and a German/ Belgian camera crew to take fellows around the city and film stand-ups for stories we’re working on. We managed to film at the Eastside Gallery of the Berlin Wall and Kreuzberg, the Deutsch- equivalent to Kreuzberg.

I used the landscape to my advantage, filming a dramatic opening and closing at the Brandenburg Gate at dusk. It took a few minutes, but I nailed it eventually. Afterwards, a group of us travelled to the Staatsoper to see Salome.

A standing section of The Wall

A standing section of The Wall

Today I spent the entire day in the Bundestag, talking with German parliamentarian from four of the five German political parties who basically gave us the abridged-version of what their specific party stands for. After about four hours of lecture, we went to the roof of the Reichstag and checked out the dome.

MTK.

Read the Latest “Queen City” Column. Now.

 

Avatar?

Avatar?

My latest “Queen City” Column — my monthly musings on the state of Gay Cincinnati– is now available for your reading pleasure on Soapboxmedia.com.

 

This month, I tackle the Cincinnati Guerilla Queer Bar. CGQB is a Facebook community comprised of Cincinnati LGBTers that invade a local straight bars on the first Friday of every month in order to promote queer solidarity and communal understanding of sexuality and gender identity.

Drinks. Dancing. Homos. It’s better than Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

Read more here.


21 Ways the Midwest and Manhattan Differ

Ohio is insightful.

Having been away for so long, I’ve forgotten how different my life is here when compared to my life in New York City. As I settle back in to my midwest state of mind, I’m reminded of these tiny trivial differences that separate my two lives in my two cities.

Over the next fews days, I’ll discuss in detail the Top 21 Ways the Midwest and Manhattan Differ:

1: Brunch in New York is a way of life. Brunch in the Midwest is an afterthought.

2: I haven’t bought gas in months and I walk everywhere.

3: All day parking in Cincinnati costs $10 on average. All day parking in New York City can cost you close to $100.

4: In the Five Boroughs, you can find every conceivable ethnic enclave, class structure, and spoken language on the planet.

5: In Manhattan, citizens want gays to marry. In the Midwest, citizens want gays to move to Manhattan.

6: Blue laws dictate that New Yorkers can buy liquor by noon on Sunday. However, no one in New York knows this because everyone stumbles out of bed by 2:00 pm on Sunday.

7: You can literally find celebrities at the Whole Foods in the Bowery.

8: New York City lacks cornfields, sprawling farms and tornadoes. It does however smell vaguely of urine.

9: You typically gather most representatives of a midwestern city’s media elite into on small conference room. You’d have to rent out Yankee Stadium if you wished to do this in Manhattan.

10: In the Midwest, being poor means you’re actually below the poverty line. In New York, being poor is the new black amongst hipsters and graduate students whose parents pay their rent.

11: Happy Hours are crucial in Manhattan if you ever want to pay the normal price that Midwesterners pay for drinks.

12: There is probably one Falafel stand for every four people in Manhattan.

13: You can take a water taxi to get to the Brooklyn IKEA. I don’t know what a water taxi is.

14: The Midwest has cool breezes often during the summer. New York morphs into a concrete Tandoori oven as soon as the mercury raises past 79 degrees and walking outside feels like walking through a net of dirty gym socks.

15: Both Ohio and New York are bordered by states no one wants to visit, ever. Ohio is impugned by Kentucky whereas New York is plagued by New Jersey.

16: People in the Midwest watch a lot reality television. New York essentially is the basis for all of television’s “reality.”

17: New Yorkers largely consider Midwesterners to be paunchy, hunch-backed , snaggle-toothed yokels with little education, culture and upbringing. The Midwest largely considers New Yorkers to be a phalanx of debauched, gaunt and unreasonably confident gaggle of Midwestern transplants that use the the status of living on or near Manhattan to justify their existence. Both parties are half right.

18: In the Midwest, they have United Dairy Farmers because ice cream is good. In New York, they have Tastee Delite because fooling your body into thinking you’re consuming ice cream rather than whipped vanilla air makes you thin and unsatisfied.

19: Bar hopping in Manhattan is an infinite enterprise; it could take years to visit every pub. Bar hopping in the Midwest can take about six hours, give or take.

20: In New York, trees and grass are the stuff dreams are made of.

21: I can stuff my $1000 per month Brooklyn apartment into the dining room of my $250 Cincinnati apartment.

 

Nourishing My Roots: Part 1

I’m currently on sabbatical in Ohio for a little while. I believe this is necessary if I’m really going to get to the heart of why New York City  and the Midwest are diametrically opposed. After all, since this blog’s primary function is to isolate, analyze and discuss the dichotomy between Midwest and Manhattan, I can’t aptly do this without spending some quality time in each place.

Since returning, I’ve noticed a plethora of small, but telling instances that epitomized the way Midwest living differs from city living. These things seem trivial and somewhat obtuse, but are vitally important nonetheless.

In no order of importance, I give you the first of many vital difference :

Difference #1: Brunch.

Midwestern brunch is not quite the institution that New York brunch is. This morning I went out with my BFF Julianna to a local eatery called Honey in Northside. Northside is a Cincinnati suburb that strikes me as a diluted version of area around the Morgan Ave. stop on the Brooklyn L line. Hipsters abound here just the same as there, but with less purpose I would argue.

One would think that brunch –the delicate marriage of a hearty breakfast commingling with a lite lunch– is a universal concept that cannot be interpreted widely. However, if the tenets of a good brunch are neglected because of ignorance (or stringent liquor laws), brunch suffers immeasurably. Today,  my huevos rancheros were delicious and my mimosa was palatable. However,  instead of my mimosa being included with the price of my meal, it was a separate charge $8.

That’s correct: eight ounces of tepid champagne diluted with orange juice for the bargain bin price of $8. 

If I were at, say, Elote or Wombat in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, this would have been included in the price of my meal. But no. I got to spend nearly the price I paid for my entire breakfast for one haphazard beverage, a drink I couldn’t garner a buzz from unless I weighed 48 pounds.

The real tragedy about all of this is that I WANTED a Bloody Mary, but I couldn’t have one because I arrived before 1:00 pm, the legal starting time for serving liquor on Sunday in Ohio. This is one of those midwestisms that was legislated long ago that I will never fully understand. According to Ohio logic, one drink before 1:00pm on a Sunday belies a very intense and pernicious craving for alcohol and probably makes Jesus cry in one way or another.

Essentially in the Midwest, a drink at brunch may brand you with a scarlet “A” for alcoholism.

For Midwestern tourists in New York (here’s looking at you, Mommy), a drink at brunch is exotic, but I won’t tell my friends back home for fear of being branded as a lush.

For a New Yorker, a drink at brunch is as natural as low-flying planes on the horizon.

Having spent the last year in a land that neither demonizes nor encourages a time frame for alcohol, I appreciate the option to have that dubious Bloody Mary at brunch if I so choose. Sometimes I partake. Sometimes, I get coffee. But I’m happy that the decision is never one that’s made for me, as it was this afternoon.

That’s what New York represents to me in a variety of subtle ways: the quintessential mecca of personal choice.

Here’s are some testimonials from those in the know:

Brunch = ultimate hangover cure. Where would we be without it?  No matter what monstrosity I’m craving –eggs, burrito, Bloody Mary, mimosa, pancakes, COFFEE– it’s all there within five  minutes walking distance of my house and I don’t have to feel guilty about having a drink at lunch. Perfecto. (Why isnt Cincy like this?!)

I’ve been saying for YEARS that if i fail in New York, I’m going to open a proper brunch place in Cincy. Think of how well you could do with a place serving Bloody Marys, mimosas, and breakfast food on ludlow. Yup.

             ~Erin Lindsey, Graphic Designer and occasional New Yorker

New York understands what a hangover actually is, because half the population mills about on the weekend with one. The best cure is of course is too much breakfast food and another drink. There isn’t enough European infusion in a place like Cincinnati for this concept to be properly understood!

             ~Drew Christien, Williamsburger and brunch enthusiast

 

Better wise up, Midwest. New York might be the king of brunch.