The fall might be the only time of year when the weather starts getting cooler, but people in Cincinnati spend the entire year being totally cool. Here’s a list of 50 reasons* why the Queen City is cooler than ever this fall.
*In no particular order. Be cool, man!
1/ Cool Bikes: Cincinnati has a lot of hills. We also, for some sadomasochistic reason, have a lot of bikers (enough that someone even finally put little white bike pictures and arrows on major streets like Clifton Avenue). Just go to queencitybike.blogspot.com and connect to all sorts of cycling resources. There’s bike polo, the Cincinnati Goldsprints indoor stationary bike racing, Team Hungry, Monday Night Rides, Full Moon Rides, Critical Mass and so on.
2/ Cool Community Airwaves: As fleeting format changes prove, the overwhelming majority of stations on the radio dial are there for one reason — to make money. This fall, the for-the-people-by-the-people station 95.7 FM WVQC (aka Radio Free Queen City) will attempt to show that radio is still a useful tool for community collaboration and support.
3/ Cool Ethnic Food: Cincinnati’s ethnic food selection rules. Best Indian food anywhere, seriously. In what other Midwestern city can you fight with four of your friends about whether Amol, Ambar, Dusmesh or Krishna has the best Indian? We also have delicious Vietnamese at Song Long, amazing Ethiopian at Emanu and the new, delicious Café Mediterranean.
4/ Cool Trend for Tracking Politicians: It was local blogs, including CityBeat’s, that first broke the news of a major labor union rescinding it endorsement of Cincinnati City Councilman Jeff Berding, an item that didn’t appear in The Enquirer until days later. And it was a national blog, Think Progress, that caught U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt whispering to a “birther” that President Obama’s nationality should be investigated. Thankfully, Cincinnati’s blog scene is among the liveliest, outpacing those of much larger cities.
5/ Cool Future: A cool future’s surely what the Cincinnati Playhouse has its eye on with its Broadway-worthy revival of Anton Chekhov’s classic The Three Sisters. The adaptation by hot young playwright Sarah Ruhl will be staged by acclaimed British director John Doyle: Last time he was in town was to direct a revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Company, which moved to Broadway and won a Tony Award. His cast has lots of Broadway credentials plus a team of top-notch designers. Isn’t it cool that yet again Cincinnati audiences who see Chekhov’s bittersweet tale of siblings who yearn for more will be ahead of the cultural curve? Who says things happen here 10 years later? (Oct. 29-Nov. 21.) — Rick Pender
6/ Cool Tunes: Ooh, the fall colors and the tang in the air... bag that stuff. The best reason to go outside in the fall is to get back inside: MidPoint! MidPoint! MidPoint! The bands! The drinks! The Scions! The standing! The walking! And the amazing and powerful music ... MidPoint Music Festival will define the season in Cincinnati for a very long time indeed.
7/ Cool Revival: Alan Patrick Kenny’s New Stage Collective bit the dust last spring, but the young director will horse around this fall with New Edgecliff Theatre and a great cast in the psychological drama Equus. (Oct. 1-17.)
8/ Cool Jesus: Giant Jesus doesn’t just walk on water, he emerges from it via the man-made lake at the Solid Rock Church in Monroe. It’s like a giant baptism and it guarantees that people on I-75 know what kind of god-fearing town this is. Also proves that Jesus is always watching you, kind of like Santa Claus.
9/ Cool Chicken Dance: Oktoberfestivities are abundant in the fall, but Cincinnati’s celebrations are notable. Every year Fountain Square is home to the World’s Largest Chicken Dance with as many as 48,000 participants. This year’s dance will be hosted by Homer Simpson on Sept. 20.
10/ Cool Drag Queen: Ms. Penny Tration (aka Tony Cody) is one tall-ass diva. Clocking in at more than eight feet tall, it’s hard not to notice the glammed-out performer as she strides through local clubs. Voted Miss Ohio Pride 2009, Penny is the drag show director at Adonis in the East End, hosts a monthly event at Annie’s and is a DJ at Below Zero Lounge in Over-the-Rhine.
11/ Cool Bar (Again): The Gypsy Hut used to be cool. Then that lady ran it and all of a sudden there were hookahs, bad Metal Jam bands and tapestries all over. Sometimes there wasn’t even whiskey! She’s gone now and the Gypsy Hut is in the control of some new ladies/Northsiders, who are renaming it “Mayday” and plan to bring dancing, theme nights, rock shows and other non-sucky stuff back to Spring Grove Avenue. The bar is slated to re-open under its new name in October.
12/ Cool District: Brighton is the art district that refuses to die. Despite a history of too many arts spaces and galleries that keep closing soon after opening — remember the Cloven Hoof Theatre in the Mockbee building? — new ventures keep arriving. At some point, it just has to gel. Maybe it will happen this fall. On Oct. 3, a new alternative arts gallery called U-turn opens at 2159 Central Ave. in a prominent storefront space once occupied by Junior Gallery. Its first show will feature local contemporary artists, including Evan Commander and Rebecca Seeman. U-turn joins the venerable semantics gallery at 1107 Harrison Ave. Meanwhile, pending in Brighton is the opening of the Brush Factory, 2019 Central Ave., as a cooperative fashion boutique and design studio. Plus, reports persist that TODT, the avant-garde contemporary-art collective, is moving into a building at 2133 Central. At this rate, maybe a W Hotel will be opening soon in the old bank building. — Steven Rosen
13/ Cool Art Dude: The Contemporary Arts Center’s fall schedule features the first solo museum exhibit by local sound artist/avant-garde musician C. Spencer Yeh, who many believe is one of Cincinnati’s brightest and most progressive art stars. His work already has been seen at such venues as Issue Project Room in New York, the Ullens Center in Beijing and the Frieze Art Fair in London. At CAC, he will have a multi-channel sound and video installation, including a specially designed chamber for hearing a recording made by him and Amy Granat. This show officially opens October 3 and runs through Jan. 24, but it will be up for a special-preview week (Sept. 24-Oct. 2) coinciding with MidPoint Music Festival. And Yeh is giving at talk at CAC at 4 p.m. on Sept. 26. — Steven Rosen
14/ Cool Castle: Harry Andrews began constructing the Chateau Laroche completely by hand in 1929. Eighty years later, people flock to the Loveland Castle each weekend in October to get the bejeezus scared out of them. These Scary Knight Tours paired with endless ghost stories about the castle make this a Halloween hot spot.
15/ Cool Meat Products: Even if you’re a vegetarian, it’s nice to come from a place that can be recognized for its meat products. Chicago has hot dogs, the South has BBQ, and we have chili and whatever the hell goetta is.
16/ Cool Reason to Visit the West Side: This fall, Harvey’s is looking to change the perception that the only live music on the West Side was formerly written and performed by someone else. The bar-formerly-known-as The Blue Note opens this fall and its new owners have already shown that they are dedicated to giving local original bands a friendly outlet on the other side of the Eighth Street viaduct.
17/ Cool Evolution: As part of its yearlong celebration of the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s Origin of the Species, University of Cincinnati is presenting work by eight local artists that is inspired by Darwin. The show is up Oct. 29 through Nov. 23 at UC’s Philip M. Meyers, Jr. Memorial Gallery, Steger Student Life Center. And if that sounds more staid than cool to you, just remember: There are still a lot of people out there who don’t believe in evolution and will find this exhibit radical.
18/ Cool Film: Many people say Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth, a fantastical art-house favorite from 2007, owes more than a little to the 1977 film Spirit of the Beehive, in which a girl in Franco-era Spain drifts into her own dream world after seeing the movie Frankenstein.
19/ Cool Photos: There’s no shame in looking like a tourist in your hometown. Fall is an especially picturesque time to meander around the city and take pictures of anything and everything you want to remember about Cincinnati in the fall. Mosey through spots like Spring Grove Cemetery, Over-the-Rhine, along the Appalachian Highway and anywhere in between.
20/ Cool Streetcar Info: The city of Cincinnati is hosting 10 open house meetings this fall to provide information on the proposed streetcar line that would link the downtown riverfront, Over-the-Rhine and the Uptown area around UC. City staff will be on hand to answer questions and present information about the line’s economic benefits, costs and route. Learn about the plan for yourself: Sept. 22 Aronoff Center for the Arts downtown, Sept. 24 Bond Hill Recreation Center, Sept. 28 Fountain Square, Sept. 29 Main Public Library downtown, Oct. 13 Oakley Recreation Center, Oct. 20 College Hill Recreation Center, Oct. 27 Corryville Recreation Center, Nov. 4 LeBlond Recreation Center (East End), Nov. 10 City Hall and Nov. 18 Price Hill Recreation Center. — John Fox
21/ Cool Ethnic Pride: They say everyone’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, but in Cincinnati everyone’s German in September. Even for those of us with no German blood, the season’s various Oktoberfests are irresistible. The big one downtown is this weekend, and Newport’s is Sept. 25-27.
22/ Cool Trick-or-Treating: A lot of area attractions offer Halloween-themed events now, but the Cincinnati Zoo’s “HallZOOween” offers two things every kid loves: animals and candy. The kids dress up in costumes and work their way around the zoo to pick up treats during weekends Oct. 10-25.
23/ Cool Pop Revival: Fountain Square’s Bill Donabedian this year will bring back Popopolis, an event that focuses on modern Rock & Roll bands with a strongly melodic Pop sound. Oct. 2 is flashback night, featuring reunions of original Popopolis performers like Saving Ray, Clabbergirl, Rockets to Mars and Throneberry. Oct. 3 will have the new-school of melody makers, with State Song, Wussy, The Seedy Seeds and headliners Bad Veins. Check myfountainsquare.com for the latest lineup updates.
24/ Cool Clown: Thunder-Sky Inc., a new art space devoted to the work and legacy of the late Raymond Thunder-Sky, one of the inspirations behind Cincinnati’s Visionaries & Voices organization for artists with disabilities, opens at 4753 Hamilton Ave. in Northside on Oct. 30, providing a home for his drawings and papers. The beloved Thunder-Sky was known not just for his unconventional work, but also for sometimes wearing a clown costume and carrying a hardhat and toolbox.
25/ Cool Dance (MF): If you don’t know by now that artists collective PROJECTMILL
packs the Northside Tavern every month with DANCE_MF, a themed dance night complete with art installations, DJs behind weird green screens and a polar bear mascot that breaks it down with the regulars, then we don’t even know you. After pretty much ruling the Ohio River with its anniversary celebration on the Delta Queen, DANCE_MF promises to keep it real this fall with more dance-fueled craziness the first Saturday of every month.
26/ Cool & Contemporary: Taft Museum of Art, under new director Deborah Emon Scott, who assumes duties on Nov. 9, should continue to shake off its fustiness — as it was doing under Eric Lee — and keep sharpening its slowly evolving contemporary edge while being respectful of its history. Scott was chief curator at Kansas City’s esteemed Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, and before that was the museum’s curator of 20th Century Art. Among her duties was supervising development of the museum’s new sculpture park. Maybe Taft, under her, could take stewardship of the public sculpture program at nearby Theodore Berry International Friendship Park on the riverfront? It’s a great site for a major sculpture garden. Meanwhile, the Taft continues its contemporary African-American art show The Chemistry of Color exhibition through Nov. 1. — Steven Rosen
27/ Cool River/Cool Booze: People don’t take advantage of this enough. We have a river. Sometimes it’s dirty looking, but living on water is lovely. Drinking on the water is even better. And now that the Purple People Bridge is hosting all sorts of boozing events (like Wednesday-Saturday with Rewind 94.9), you can even drink above the water.
28/ Cool Casinos: Anticipation makes everything sweeter, including losing all of your money. If Cincinnati allowed casinos within city limits, it would be a boring suckfest. The fun part about gambling is actually deciding to gamble. If you have to drive 45 minutes to Hollywood Casino or Grand Victoria Casino, you can’t pussy out. Make a night of it. Waste a bunch of money you don’t have, get too drunk to drive home and spend the night and get a buffet breakfast in the morning.
29/ Cool and Creepy: For eight seasons actor Giles Davies shook things up at Cincinnati Shakespeare. He’s back for Halloween to play Edgar Allan Poe and tell tales of terror — adding new meaning to Cincy “Shakes.” (Oct. 24-Nov. 8.)
30/ Cool Hip Hop Arena Rock: Hip Hop doesn’t always transfer well to the big stage, but if anyone can give off the necessary aura and presence, it’s Jay-Z. The MC — considered a modern legend of lyricism — brings his tour in support of the hotly anticipated Blueprint 3 album to the Bank of Kentucky Center at NKU on Oct. 10.
31/ Cool Changes: Because people love to hate Cincinnati, they are also motivated to make it a better place. The cost of living here is affordable and we have abundant resources and a respected arts community, so if you want to fix something, you can. Individuals have the power to affect change in their city directly. Look at Park Vine, Melt, MoBo Bicycle Coop and so on. Grass roots become real roots. When you see a hole, you fill it.
32/ Cool 85: Chad Ochocinco has spent the Bengals’ preseason coining new phrases, Twittering his ass off and actually playing well on the field. Even if the team sucks again, Ocho promises to make this season interesting in some way. Child please.
33/ Coole Faire: Where else is it acceptable to enjoy giant turkey legs, cheer on mud wrestlers and dress like a pirate, besides a CityBeat intern’s apartment? Why, The Ohio Renaissance Festival! Kick it Medieval style in Harveysburg every weekend through Oct. 25. In one day, you can meet the Queen, watch a glass-blower at work and rollick in the pub with some bagpipe players. It’s basically a L.A.R.P. kid’s wet dream.
34/ Cool Musical: In 1996 Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp starred in Rent. They’re doing it again, on tour. They’ll stop at the Aronoff Center for a “Season of Love” — not “525,600 minutes,” but four days of cool theater. (Oct. 28-Nov. 1.)
35/ Cool Scary Boat: Cincinnati likes steamboats. And we really like haunted ones. For 18 years the U.S.S. Nightmare has been freaking people out on the riverfront with scary stuff like the Rat Lady, people dressed up in old captain’s costumes and really small spaces. Its 40-minute tour through more than 40 frightening scenes is open Wednesday-Sunday through Nov. 1. www.ussnightmare.com.
36/ Cool Bar for Meeting All Types: Unless you have a friend (or a friendly newspaper) point it out for you, you would probably never stumble across the C&D Café in Northside. That’s because the bar is located on a narrow side street, Hanfield Street, away from the business district and lodged tightly between row houses. But the funky little watering hole has become a favorite hangout of people in the know, due to its fun atmosphere and eclectic mix of customers.
37/ Cool Circle: It can be a pretty taxing undertaking in the feverish summer heat, but the five-mile circle around the Lunken Airport Playfield Trail on a breezy fall day can be refreshingly therapeutic. Walk, run, bike or rollerblade around the trail as you watch planes hover in and out across a vast, lush prairie.
38/ Cool Ceremony: It’ll still technically be fall when 20,000 white lights illuminate the Christmas tree on Fountain Square on Nov. 27, announcing the opening of the ice skating rink for the holiday season. It’s no Rockefeller Center, but the lighting ceremony and the ice rink are cozily and charmingly Cincinnati-flavored. Plus, you can’t beat a night downtown for the $2.50 to enter the ice rink.
39/ Cool Decisions: In odd-numbered years, Election Day means city of Cincinnati races and an assortment of local tax levies. On Nov. 3 city voters will choose a mayor (incumbent Mark Mallory vs. political newbie Brad Wenstrup), city council (eight of the nine incumbents are up for re-election) and school board, and pass or fail ballot issues on streetcar funding, selling the water works, continuing funding for the Cincinnati Museum Center and adding funding for the library system. Plus there will be another statewide gambling proposal to consider — this one would put a casino in downtown Cincinnati.
40/ Cool Indie Band Comeback: Fans can probably retrospectively relate to the title of the debut CD by local atmospheric Indie Rock trio mallory. The name of the hypnotic band’s first recording, The First One Hundred Years, probably wasn’t intended to insinuate that a sophomore record wasn’t coming for a long time, but that’s what ended up happening. After an extended hiatus, the band returned to the local club scene and began working on a follow-up to its 2002 debut. The release was originally scheduled for July, but now Oct. 23 is the drop date. The band will host a “whole house” release show at the Southgate House that night with The Sundresses, Stage Song and many others. (myspace.com/mallorysounds) — Mike Breen
41/ Cool ’Cats: Coach Brian Kelly has finally given Bearcats fans (and what a motley group we had become) a reason to anticipate football season instead of dreading or ignoring it. And now with UC 2-0 and ranked No. 17 after totally destroying its first two opponents, things seem to be back on track after losing several players to graduation and the NFL. After being picked to finish anywhere from third to fifth in the league this year, the reigning Big East Champions have already proven that they’re still the team to beat.
42/ Cool Breezes: One of the best things about Cincinnati are the hills, and one of the best things about the hills are the views, and no place offers better views than Mount Adams. You can’t beat wearing a sweatshirt on a cool fall Saturday afternoon on the back decks at The Pavilion or CityView Tavern and watching the river and the world float by.
43/ Cool Tribute: On Sept. 24 at Covington’s Madison Theater, several local Bluegrass and Roots musicians will come together to pay tribute to Katie Laur, a Bluegrass singer/musician who has been at the forefront of the Southwest Ohio Bluegrass scene since the early ’70s. Laur and her band became renowned at festivals around the country, released three albums on the local Vetco label and made regular appearances on A Prairie Home Companion. Laur — who has also carried the ’Grass torch as a radio host for the past 20 years — will be feted by friends and fans like The Comet Bluegrass All-Stars, The Turkeys, Ma Crow and Magnolia Mountain, plus many of Laur’s peers (Laur herself will also perform). Just looking at the lineup shows that the love, respect and influence that Laur inspires spans generations. (www.madisontheateronline.com) — Mike Breen
44/ Cool Designers: Lynda Lucas, the DAAP-grad and designer behind VEIN, a jewelry line that explores legend, myth and magic through found objects like antique keys and bones, is doing her thing here but thinking globally. After a successful recent trip to a New York trunk show where she teamed up with Chris Kitrell from the band Baby Alpaca, their line was picked up to be sold wholesale to shops and boutiques nationwide. The duo is headquartered on Main Street but sold in stores all over.
45/ Cool Celebration: UC’s College Conservatory of Music launched a musical theater program 40 years ago. Hair was a big Broadway hit 40 years ago. Put them together for a cool celebration. (Nov. 14-21.)
46/ Cool Orchard: One of the greatest advantages of living in a city like Cincinnati is the fact that although the center of the city is urbanized, radiate outwards and you’ll stumble upon all sorts of rustic treasures. Explore the charm in the countryside and visit Irons Fruit Farm in Lebanon, where in the fall visitors can pick their own apples from a quaint little orchard. Grocery store apples can’t compare to these fresh-picked treats.
47/ Cool Videos: We all know about the work Lightborne does, making videos for the likes of P.Diddy, 3 Doors Down and Kenny Chesney, but there’s also a plethora of “indie” production companies and movie makers that call the Queen City home. Just to name a few, there’s regional Emmy winner/PROJECTMILLER Pete Ohs, who’s made videos for Wavves and The Fiery Furnaces; Kevin Bayer, PROJECTMILLER and the man behind Soft City Lights, who has worked documenting music events at WOXY and recently released The Seedy Seeds video for “Drive Me to the Center;” and, of course Kendall Bruns, winner of the 48 Hour Film Festival who screened his film Robot Love From Another World at the Cannes Film Festival. — Maija Zummo
48/ Cool Covington: When Natalie Bowers was hired as Covington’s arts district manager last December, she decided the city needed a signature event to showcase its urban resources. Building around the existing Art Off Pike visual art festival, she’s organized “Full Spectrum,” a collection of events throughout October. The month kicks off with Sub-Urban Sprawl Oct. 2-4, with Gov. Steve Beshear in attendance to help shine the spotlight on Covington’s arts and entertainment offerings. Art Off Pike follows Oct. 10, and the focus then turns to music (World Music Fest Oct. 17), movies (Screen Test Film Festival Oct. 25) and a citywide Halloween party (DeComposition Oct. 31). (www.covingtonarts.com/fullspectrum) — John Fox
49/ Cool Media: Along with independent video production, Cincinnati has a booming DIY print community. A recent fair at CS13 Gallery for the release of photographer Jesse Reed's Selections from a Portion attempted to bring some of the heavy hitters together like deadramones (a skate zine recently featured in Thrasher magazine), Forklift, Ohio, Starbarf Publications, Clay Street Press, Southpaw Printing, Milk Money Magazine, Red Panda Comics, Iconoclast and more. The people of Cincinnati have a lot to say and they’re willing to fork out their own money and collate their own pages to get the message out.
50/ Cool Fire: Ann Hamilton, an internationally renown Columbus-based conceptual artist, is creating a unique, site-specific work — “Smoke Licked Wall” — just for Carl Solway Gallery’s Walls, Floors & Ceilings exhibit of installation art, which is up Thursday through Dec. 23. Her contribution is just what it says it is — she will delicately burn walls with a candle.