we’re taking a break from blogging for a bit — hey, think of it as our gift to you: now you have a little less to read, which gives you a little more time to get outside and enjoy the spring!

[not buying it, huh? okay … we’ll be back.]

what imports you got on tap?

busy real-life weeks make for slow blogging weeks, but we do have a nice nugget for thursday. this evening at the oakley pub & grill, liz, avani, and lauren over at cincinnati imports are hosting the first-ever get-together and happy hour for, um, well, cincinnati imports.

as what you might call a mixed family (i was raised here, carole not so much not at all), we wondered whether we qualified, or whether i would be asked to stay home while carole mingled with a crew that didn’t care where she went to high school and didn’t get the whole east side/west side thing and thought that “cornhole” and “three-way” were terms not mentioned in polite company, and certainly not with the gusto and enthusiasm displayed by many queen cityites.

but we’ve been assured that all are most welcome, that being an import is as much a mindset as a geographic fact, that all it takes is a little curiosity about other people from other places. maybe we’ll see you there.


this was almost a post about terry’s turf club, but we had been advised to get there around 5:30 if we wanted a seat and we did not heed that advice. so when we showed up, friends in tow, at 7:30 the place was PACKED and the wait was long and we thought perhaps it would be best to go elsewhere. and that elsewhere was nada.

now, nada is not the kind of place we intended to head on this particular saturday evening. we were seeking a casual joint for a quickish, comfortable bite to eat; nada is a little pricier, a little more sit-down-y, a bit more scene-y than we were geared up for. but we shifted gears, headed downtown, and made a mexican night of it.

it took a while to get a table, but the people-watching and margaritas eased the pain. it really is a scene — even the best-dressed real man in america showed up. so did a quintent of blondes, loudly celebrating their bff’s last night as a single woman. and i’m thinkin’ a few things didn’t show up: the rest of the poor black skirt that otherwise ended at a nice young woman’s crotch; the back of a dress that dipped low enough to reveal a colorful thong. no wonder i was worried about overdressing.

fortified with tequila and a few good shots of snark, we sat down to a fun meal of really good food . apps included the sopes and queso fundido, which we inhaled and would certainly return for. entrees included tinga poblana cazuela (a tasty spiced shredded chicken stew served in an iron pot) and the mahi-mahi soft tacos. (i liked that the fish was oh-so-fresh. i did not like the absence of mango, which for better or worse, i really gotta have in my fish tacos.)

the scene at nada may not have been our scene (or more accurately, was a bit more scene than we were ready for), but at least now we know how to dress to fit in next time.  and the food is the real deal — good stuff, well-prepared, and most definitely not your average tex-mex take on south-of-the-border cuisine.

but we still gotta get to terry’s. i’ve a feeling we’ve already got the right attire.

heartless bastards

perhaps the folks at the nytimes have decided that if the local paper ain’t going to cover much of the local cultural scene, they’ll pick up the slack. for the second week running, the sunday arts section has an article on cincinnati music — or maybe more accurately, music with cincinnati roots.

this one’s on the heartless bastards, more specifically a piece on frontwoman erika wennerstrom, who’s got “a voice as big and lonesome as the prairie and a mild presence that grows tenfold when she plugs in her guitar.” a couple of years ago, before we moved to cincinnati, i remember hearing this song and really liking it. little did i know i was supporting local music even then. 

the article’s narrative is one of both rebirth and return: wennerstrom, having broken up with  her former bandmate and moved (to austin, tx), is now fronting the original lineup of bastards  — all of this, of course, in time for a new album, the mountain, just released this week.

biggs & sunoco

we do most of our grocery shopping at biggs. not all of it, but enough of it that it seemed worthwhile to sign up for their gas program with sunoco. it works like this:

every $10 dollars you spend at biggs earns you a discount of 1¢ per gallon on gas at (participating) sunoco stations. some items earn you additional savings: for example, last sunday every gallon of milk purchased earned you an 15¢ discount per  gallon .

now, i wasn’t sure how this would add up when it came down to it. i didn’t want to be tempted to buy things i don’t usually buy, or eat, or need, and i don’t usually buy gas at sunoco.  (in fact, up until a few weeks ago i couldn’t even have told you where one was located.) but it seemed worth trying, so i signed up.

and! last sunday i filled our tank for the first time using our accumulated discount. as i watched the digital numbers flip past on the led screen i thought something was wrong. it took a few moments for me to register what was up (or rather, down): for the first time in my gas-buying life, the numbers showing the gallons purchased was lower than the numbers showing the cost to me. that’s right, folks: gas under a buck. actually, gas at 79¢/gallon.

i dunno where you buy your food or your gas. but if you’re looking for a discount, and there’s a participating sunoco station near you, this just might be your deal of the week.

king records in nytimes


courtesy of cincinnatilibrary.org

courtesy of cincinnatilibrary.org

there’s a full-page article in yesterday’s ny times about cincinnati’s own musical legacy, embodied by king records. the author illustrates (unintentionally or not) the patchwork heritage of the city. according to the article, king records’ influence was neglected in part because, as locally based music editor and author larry nager points out, “‘cincinnati was settled by good, solid german folk’ …. ‘to them, honest work was making soap and killing pigs, not making music or cutting records.'” on the other hand, when mentioning a visit to the grave of a king bandleader in a formerly blacks-only cemetery, the author mentions parenthetically that cincinnati is “in many ways a Southern town” (ostensibly to explain a segregated cemetery). to say nothing of the jewish influence that played a big role in king records. the heroes of the article have to be bootsy collins, who takes seriously the mission of keeping king records’ legacy alive, and syd nathan, the contrarian owner of king records, who brought together hillbilly and r&b, and exhibited a color-blindness rare in the day in the running of the record company.

so that’s us, just sittin’ here on the ohio river confounding categories for over two hundred years. king is the perfect musical legacy of a city founded by germans, with a significant but largely separate jewish population, and balanced (or occasionally not) by an influx of african americans and appalachian scots-irish. oh, and even though the point that king records is a “neglected landmark” is made several times throughout the article, i think it’s safe to say that — with bootsy’s hard work and other recent acknowledgments and celebrations (yes, including this article) — that claim just ain’t true any more.

i love you because….

a sweet hit of an off-broadway show, “i love you because” is currently running at the know theatre. the surprisingly good thesis project of two nyu students, the show follows the lives of four youngish new yorkers in search of, well, that elusive “something” that draws, and maybe even keeps, two people together.

fang du’s austin is so adorable as an uptight, tie-wearing republican that you just want to wrap him and shake him ’til he rattles and loosens up and starts ordering electric-colored drinks with cute little umbrellas. as his brother jeff, daniel s. hines and his ’80s fashion (non)sense — the too-high-waisted jeans worn with white tennis shoes, the moussed-into-spikes-hair — hits a nice counterpoint to his sweet vulnerability (how many guys do you know who would cry over a my little pony abacus?). courtney brown’s marcy fitzwilliams is a believable bohemian who unintentionally sweeps austin off his feet, while jenny guy as diana bingley seems to capture exactly what it is like to be a sex-starved actuary (at least, i think she does…since i’m not much of a number girl myself it’s hard to say).  

“i love you because” is a musical, which after seeing “christmas yet to come” i believed was not the know’s strength. while i’m still not sure it is, this production has better-balanced sound and fewer out-of-tune tunes, making it much more enjoyable. the show’s instrumental quintet sits behind the stage in the midst of the new york city silhouette that is the play’s backdrop, and while at times i wanted their volume to drop so that i could better hear the actors’ voices, it’s a nice touch to have live music as a literal backdrop to the play.

my favorite things about the know are still the space and the ambiance. the bar/lounge area is a nice spot for a pre-show drink, with an eclectic decorative mix of urban industrial and public-school cafeteria. plus i like being able to sip slowly on my cocktail and take it with me into the theatre instead of guzzling it (or tossing it) at the door. the theatre space itself has a funky urban feel, with its steel stairs and metal grates leading up to what is basically a black loft with a stage area. given the group’s smallish space and minimal funds for sets and props, the shows we’ve seen imaginatively create various senses of place to carry the actors through their scenes. it’s a theatre for our times: economical and funky, doing good work with the resources at hand, it provides work for young up and coming actors and affordable entertainment for those of us who love theater.

i miss my days as an undergrad when i could get a rush ticket to big-city theatres for $5. but with $12 tix (shout out to the know for that one!), as well as a ticket stub worth 20% off a meal at the nearby mixx, a night at the know can fit into even a frugal budget. and everybody loves that.

“i love you because” runs through february 21. showtimes and more information about tickets at knowtheatre.com or 513-300-5669. curious but not ready to commit? check out a youtube clip, here.