Dr. Know: February 2015

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Construction on Mitchell Avenue at I-75 has caused traffic nightmares for months. My small consolation is appreciating the beauty of Spring Grove Cemetery as I crawl past it. Sometimes, though, I see activity that looks out of place: a parade of Segway riders, arrays of old cars, a concert. Is this an attempt at “nontraditional revenue,” and doesn’t it bother people attending a funeral?—Restoreth My Soul

Dear Restoreth:
Drive in peace. Do not fear that while saying goodbye to Uncle Mert, a pogo stick competition may pass by.

Spring Grove’s extracurricular activities are not some recent effort to “grow the brand.” According to official historian Phil Nuxhall, community activities were baked into its original mission in 1845. The founders envisioned not just a cemetery, but an oasis for the entire community to appreciate at all times. And they pulled it off.

Radical for its time, Spring Grove’s vast horticultural acreage set a standard that is recognized worldwide. Non-funereal events happen on the grounds regularly, scheduled so as to never intrude upon the solemn goings-on. Expect to see weddings and tours, antique car shows, family reunions, small concerts, and other activities. Just kidding about the pogo sticks. The Cincinnati Gardens must have won that bid.

 

My young son is going through his Kiss Army phase, which is fun because I was a Kiss fan in my day. But his generation passes around a piece of trivia that mine did not: During the band’s heyday in 1979, they supposedly purchased hundreds of acres near Cincinnati with plans to build a Kiss-themed amusement park. Obviously, it was never completed, but did it really even start?—Cincinnati Rock City

Dear Rock:
This story pops up on several Kiss fun-fact sites, but most are copied and pasted word for word, devoid of verification. The Doctor did find a few random factoids that may suggest how this absurd idea congealed into today’s myth:

1) Kiss was indeed involved with an amusement park in the late ’70s, but only in their TV movie, Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park. Even frontman Gene Simmons agrees with fans and reviewers that the movie is ultra-horrible, so it’s hard to imagine that he wanted to repeat the amusement park theme. 2) Around the same time, Kiss allegedly made regular secret visits to Fairfield to rehearse in the old Muhlhauser Brewery barn. Simmons has said this never happened. 3) An old barn in West Chester did in fact serve as a rehearsal site for former guitarist Ace Frehley—but dude, that was Westchester County, New York, not Ohio.

The veracity of your son’s trivia item rests on little more than these scraps. Perhaps he can ask the guys about it during the next Cincinnati stop on their Farewell Tour, which has been in progress since 2000.

 

In my house, WVXU’s Morning Edition is almost a family member, helping us pace our routine. If I hear the local news finish at 10 minutes past the hour but haven’t finished breakfast, I know I’m running late. If I’m crossing the Brent Spence during the headlines at 30 past, I don’t need to rush. But recently, WVXU changed the intervals of its in-hour breaks without notice! My morning is in chaos. What happened?—Irrational Public Radio

Dear Irrational:
The Doctor feels your pain. Morning background din transmits subliminal but essential signals to our blurred pre-caffeinated brains: “Alert, alert! Matt’s tone of voice changed from Gravitas-Top-Story to Laughing-With-Al-Soft-Feature! News quadrant over but you remain naked! Alert!” Any sudden alteration in the din’s comforting sequence creates a rupture in your morning brain’s space-time-continuum. You are understandably off-balance, but your blame is misplaced.

National Public Radio—not local affiliate WVXU—altered Morning Edition’s hourly structure on November 17, 2014. The reason, collectively, was you. Chris Phelps, Content VP for Cincinnati Public Radio, cited NPR’s research claiming that busy morning listeners only tune in for roughly 20 minutes. As a result, morning news summaries now happen every 20 minutes instead of 30, shuffling other elements (and allowing WVXU a few more minutes for local coverage). Long-timers like you will need to recalibrate your morning rituals, or consider clocking your routine with, perhaps, a clock.

Originally published in the February 2015 issue.

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