The leaves were turning a sickly sort of brown as we went to press. After three months without a drop of rain—capped by that maddening no-hitter Roy Halladay pitched against the Reds in the first game of the National League Division Series—it’s looking like our autumn will be nasty, brutish, and short. But I still believe in a place called hope. Water might fall from the skies again and the Reds might regroup and go on to greater glory in the post-season. By the time you read this, we’ll know. For now, I’m left here praying for rain and for Joey, Brandon, Jonny, Jay, and the boys to get hot.
Hope, as it turns out, is something of a theme in this issue. There’s Ben Bergin’s highly entertaining, if slightly daft, explanation of how he, an Englishman bred on a sport that “actually requires interaction of ball and foot,” fell hopelessly in love with the Bengals. Insane, right? Why do we pour our blood, sweat, and tears into these teams only to watch them get crushed on the collective field of dreams? Only crazy people do that. Or desperate people. Or crazy desperate people. Which brings us to the Chabot vs. Driehaus match-up in the First Congressional District. This election, which feels like it’s been going on as long as Steve Chabot has been driving his Buick, will reach its denouement on November 2, when the good people of the west side beat down the doors of their polling places (with the help of one of those medieval battering rams Sheriff Leis has squirreled away in his armory—just in case) and cast their purportedly angry, anti-politics-as-usual, no-more-bad-stuff-only-good-clean-American-stuff-forever votes. No idea how that’s gonna turn out. But if you’re still making up your mind, we had the candidates fill out an “Everyman Questionnaire” because, all joking aside, everybody knows that the future of American jobs, education, energy, and health turns on one simple question: Gold Star or Skyline?
Some people hope in vain for rationality to return to our world (see Jon Stewart’s march on Washington). Not me. I like to wallow in the irrational. Which is why I really hope you like Chris Varias’s list of the 50 greatest pop songs recorded in Cincinnati. Because there’s nothing more irrational than touting a list of songs that by rights every living Cincinnatian should know about, care about, and in a pinch, be able to hum a few bars of but don’t, can’t, or won’t. As Chris makes clear, these songs are a part of the city’s heritage, something we should be proud of—and milking for every last tourist dollar imaginable. Well, Chris doesn’t come out and say that, but that’s the subtext. Memphis was built on cotton, barbecue, Elvis, and soul music. Cincinnati was built on soap, chili, pork, and a wild mix of R&B, country, and funk. If Memphis can build a museum honoring Stax Records, we should be able to do the same for King Records.
I hope you like this issue. We put a lot of hard work into it. So let me give one last plug: If you really want to know what hope is, read Jacob Baynham’s story about Raymond Towler, the man exonerated after 29 years in jail by a team of UC students and lawyers from the Ohio Innocence Project. Now: Go Reds!
Originally published in the November 2010 issue.