In case you’re wondering, the fetching couple on the cover this month are not, in fact, naked. Hope I didn’t spoil that for you.We shot them with their clothes on, just not above the shoulders. The point? Hang on, I have to choose my words carefully here…it’s nothing so crass as “sex sells”—though I am reliably informed that the last time we put a naked body part on the cover (someone’s derriere reflected in a woman’s sunglasses for a “Best & Worst” feature in October 1986) the thing sold like hotcakes. No, the idea here is that the exurbs—loosely defined as the ring of well-to-do settlements just beyond the I-275 loop—are not nearly as buttoned-down and squeaky clean as some people would have you think. Which is to say, the people who live there are fine, red-blooded, upright American citizens. And like fine, red-blooded, upright American citizens everywhere, they also like to get their freak on, their swerve on, their insert-your-favorite-fun-sexual-euphemism-here on from time to time. Gentle reader, I think you know what I mean….
But if you don’t, start reading “Welcome to the Outer Limits.” The attitudinal tug-of-war between urbanites and ’burbanites has been going on for years and shows no signs of abating. Everyone, it seems, takes a side in this battle; there is no middle ground. Being a city magazine, with our offices firmly ensconced in the pulsating center of this roaring metropolis, we naturally focus a lot of our attention on what’s happening within the city limits. Which means we’re also predisposed to prefer the proclivities of urban living to life in the ’burbs. (Call us arrogant, but look, someone’s got to stick up for the heart of Cincinnati.) Recently, though, we began to question a number of assumptions commonly held by urban dwellers about the outlying towns and neighborhoods: Is everybody rich? Are the schools truly better? Is exurban growth sustainable? Is it completely overrun by chain restaurants? Is everyone white? Are they all sexually repressed? It was an eye-opening experience. Were many of the “myths” reinforced? In a word, yes. But let’s just say we’ll never look at our exurban neighbors the same snooty way again.
A number of other pieces in this issue pick up the suburban/exurban theme and take it in fascinating directions. Aiesha D. Little finds out what motivated local filmmaker Andrea Torrice to make her new documentary about the perils of suburban sprawl. Polk Laffoon IV gets to the bottom of our bottomless honeysuckle problem. Kathy Y. Wilson tells the story of her brother Kenny and how his ardent quest for success has led him down the path to ownership of one of the icons of the American fast food landscape, a Chick-fil-A franchise. Donna Covrett eats her ever-lovin’ locavore heart out at a new farm-to-table restaurant in Mason. And Brent Donaldson unravels the grisly tale behind the death of Walter Sartory, a solitary man who retired to Hebron, Kentucky, for peace and quiet and ended up the victim of a heinous crime. If Donaldson’s story doesn’t teach you some lessons about the importance of having good neighbors, then little else will.