Cool or Uncool?

A totally fair debate over the Queen City's relevance to young people

Sep 23, 2008 at 2:06 pm

Cincinnatians often find themselves debating whether the Queen City is “cool.” The concept itself is ripe for interpretation, and ensuing discussions often uncover complex social and cultural issues too taboo to speak of publicly.

But for this Cool Issue, CityBeat asked its youngest editorial staffers to do just that: Debate their hometown’s relevance to young people and coolness in general, and do it knowing that most people are going to think they’re dicks either way. The youthful and optimistic Maija Zummo takes pro-cool, and the not-that-young and somewhat angry Danny Cross takes the con. Each was prompted with an anti-Cincinnati quote often attributed to Mark Twain: “When the end of the world comes, I want to be in Cincinnati because it’s always 20 years behind the times.”

Ready? Go.

Maija Zummo: Mark Twain might be one of the greatest American literary figures ever, and he’s funny and all, but there’s another classic Cincinnati quote I’m frequently attributed as saying, which is “Bring it, 2012. This place rules!” And it does. Cincinnati has many of the “urban” qualities that other major cities possess, like a skewed distribution of wealth, a high rate of violence, mediocre professional sports teams, really expensive plane tickets, more than three Indian restaurants and a beautiful waterfront.

So I don’t really care how many of your friends moved to Brooklyn to “live” on a couch in their friend’s efficiency urban loft space for $600 a month or how “cool” it is to say you live in New York. And I don’t really care that people in other cities get to take the “subway” or ride their bikes or eat at more 24/7 diners or pay $7 for PBR in a can. These big-city luxuries don’t appeal to me. You know why? Because I’m from the goddamn Midwest, a place where we instill classic American values like urban sprawl and complacency into our children. Cincinnati is divided into pockets.

Each part of town has its own population and its own nightlife. There’s Northside with the Rock & Roll and the hipsters, there’s Downtown with sparkly Cadillac Ranch people and there’s West Chester with, like, TGI Fridays. Because of these pockets I know that if I go to the right places I’ll see only the people I want to see, all of the time, and no one else. I won’t feel out of place. I’ll know everyone there.

In Cincinnati, we can feel confident walking into a bar alone in “our” part of town and finding someone to talk to. If I don’t want to go to Mount Adams because I don’t want to see people from high school, guess what: I don’t have to. During the day I might go up to the Cincinnati Art Museum or stop at City View and have a Bloody

Mary, maybe get a veggie burger from the Mt. Adams Bar and Grille. But at night, unless I want to act like a young profes sional who enjoys getting grinded on by strangers, I’ll head home. One good thing about seeing all of the same people is that you can, and must, date your friends’ exes here. This is usu ally a total taboo — a “no no.” But in a city this size it’s totally inevitable, so you can stop fantasizing about what it would be like and just go do it. Sometimes you even end up re-dating your exes, like cer tain angsty CityBeat writers who hate Cincinnati but wear tattoos of its iconic skyline on their legs. And with each of these special popu lations comes promise. You have a built-