Living Out Loud: : Come June

Putting my living where my mouth is

By Larry Gross Where the hell does the time go? I turned around last week and suddenly realized I've become an old geezer.

I had a birthday. Turned 53. While that doesn't exactly make me old, I'm no spring chicken either.

I think I'm in the time of my life where people will remember me for certain things — for who I was, for what I said and for what I did. As a writer, I know all too well what many people will say should I get hit by a bus tomorrow.

No one will remember the short stories I've written or my book of them. Most won't recall any of the news stories I've done for CityBeat.

A few might remember some of my slice-of-life essays that have appeared in this column over the years, but I think most will simply remember me as the guy who always trashed the Nati — for pointing out what I see as problems downtown.

What started me writing about the (local) problems comes from visiting other cities.

I've been to Portland in both Maine and Oregon. Each has a thriving downtown. I fell in love with Boston, a city that has movie theaters downtown. I visit Seattle every chance I get; I love the diversity and friendliness there. I love road trips to Chicago, a city that never sleeps.

When I come back from one of these trips, I feel frustrated with Cincinnati. We have so much potential here, but often we seem stuck in backward, old-fashioned thinking — and when I feel that way and see something I think is wrong, I write about it.

I've written about all of the restaurant closings downtown. I've made fun of our downtown mall that doesn't have an external sign promoting itself. I've complained about how people here aren't friendly. I've put down City Council over silly marijuana laws. I've stated that we're a racist city. I think you get the idea.

Some have supported what I've said, but many haven't. Some local bloggers have come down on me for what I've written, and you might find this hard to believe but I do get some hate mail from time to time.

Most of the bloggers and the mail I can ignore, but increasingly I get asked the question, "Instead of always complaining about downtown, why don't you move down here and help do something about the problems?"

That's a good question I can't simply blow off. And I'm not going to anymore.

Come June, I'm gonna be a downtowner.

This decision has been a while coming. I currently live in Clifton's Gaslight District and, while I've lived there more than six years and for the most part like it, it doesn't mean I have to stay there. Sometimes change can be a good thing.

I've worked downtown on and off for the past 30 years, and I'm currently doing some consulting work on Main Street. I like its diversity. I like the lawyers, the kids walking up from Over-the-Rhine, the business people and the residents all intermingling on the sidewalk.

I see young people, old people, black, white, Hispanic, rich, poor. I see everything there, but what I see most of all is energy. To me, Main Street represents something good about Cincinnati. When I'm there, I feel like I'm in a thriving city.

Come June, I'll be living on the corner of Eighth and Main. I'll be living in the heart of it all, and I'm excited about it.

Where will I get groceries? I don't know. I'll no longer have Keller's IGA down the street from me.

How will I do laundry? I don't know that either. It's been a long time since I've had to go to a laundromat.

None of this really matters to me. I'll figure it out as I go.

What does matter is that I'll be a part of the city and can let my feelings known as a downtown resident instead of giving my rants from a comfortable apartment in Clifton.

I intend to join the Downtown Residents Council and get involved in the city where I've spent so much of my life. I want to be part of a change for the better. I want my voice heard.

Am I scared about the move? Of course I am. This is a bold step for an old geezer like me, but I feel good about the decision.

I've complained a lot about Cincinnati over the years, but come June I'll start putting my living where my mouth is. You'll be the first to know how it turns out.

CONTACT LARRY GROSS: lgross(at) Living Out Loud runs every week at and the second and fourth issues of each month in the paper. And it has its own blog at