Now Leasing for the 2018-2019 School Year!

Blood, Sweat & Tears Coming to the Ludlow Garage

Blood Sweat & Tears is coming to the Ludlow Garage for two shows on Saturday, June 16. No history of late 60s and early 70s rock is complete without Blood Sweat & Tears. Their second LP was the #1 album for seven weeks, and it produced three top 5 singles. The album received a Grammy Award for Album of the Year, and it has been certified quadruple platinum, with sales of more than four million units in the U.S. Blood, Sweat & Tears also played Woodstock and, along with Chicago, who also added horns to their sound, helped create jazz rock.

Here’s a link to buy tickets to one of the two shows scheduled for Saturday, June 16:

Here is the leadoff single from BS&T’s #1 album, “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy”:

And here’s the second single from the album, “Spinning Wheel”:

Here’s the third single from that album to crack the top five, a song Laura Nyro wrote, “And When I Die”:

And here’s a link to buy tickets to one of the two shows scheduled for Saturday, June 16:

Ludlow Avenue In Pictures – A Magical History Tour

Recently I’ve set out to find old photographs of Ludlow Avenue, the Clifton Gaslight Business District, and the Gaslight District in general. Mostly I’ve been searching for photos of storefronts that have changed over the years, either due to cosmetic changes or new businesses replacing old ones. I feel as if I’m just scratching the surface so far, but I figured I’d trot out some photos just to get things started. As more photos become available, I’ll keep adding to this blog entry and perhaps create new blog entries that are narrower in focus. I encourage anyone who has photos (or knows where I can find more) to add to this collection to contribute. Eventually I suspect this will become a separate page on Gaslight Property’s website, These are some of the photos I’ve collected thus far. At first I was going to write a caption for each one – but after posting them I thought, it’ll be more fun for people to suss out where these locations are. So can you identify all the locations from the past and the businesses/spaces that have replaced them? And can you add some photos to the collection? In any case, enjoy this soon-to-be-expanded magical history tour.




New Hours for Gaslight Gourmet Cookies

It’s been almost three years since Gaslight Gourmet Cookies opened in Clifton, and it was an immediate hit, its baked goods, classic awning, and walk-up window adding that much more charm to the neighborhood. Along with serving walk-in or walk-up fans of cookies, macaroons, and coffee, the store has always had its share of loyal large-order customers, and demand is so strong in that area that it recently opted to trim its hours to be able to fulfill that need. So plan accordingly, cookie fans: new hours for the store, which is located at 272 Ludlow Avenue, are:

Wednesday: 7am to 4pm

Saturday: 7am to 6pm

Sunday: 8am to noon

When I spoke to the owner of the store, Tom Jacobsen, he said coconut macaroons are the most popular item on the menu, and it turns out they earned a “Best of the City” award in Cincinnati Magazine. The best-selling cookie is the dark cherry cordial cookie. When you speak to Tom, he makes it clear that the store is located in the perfect spot. “Clifton is the best neighborhood in the city,” he said, “and it’s been the best neighborhood for 100 years.”

And his civic pride extends to other Cincinnati neighborhoods. Tom donates cookies and macaroons for fund-raisers at St. Boniface, Fairview-Clifton German Language School, Roger Bacon, Elder, DePaul Christo Rey, and other local schools.

And if you’re wondering how to arrange large orders yourself, Tom encourages interested parties to text, all, or leave a message at (513) 602-5253. Also, you should check out his facebook page. Gaslight Gourmet Cookies is one more reason the Gaslight District is a great neighborhood and a great place to rent.

Thank You, Jerry Gillotti

The memory is still fresh of walking into Gilly’s for the first time. I had never been to a jazz club before, and my sense of excitement quickly combined with…well…desperation, as I was informed by the owner, a short, squat man sitting in the entrance and taking money, that the show was sold out. That man was Jerry Gillotti, the owner of Gilly’s. I told him the drive to downtown Dayton took over an hour, and my plea for sympathy worked—he let in me and my posse.

All the tables were full that evening, and the club was beyond standing room only—even finding a place to stand took some doing. While tripping over other people’s feet I noticed that the crowd at this dark, small club largely consisted of well-dressed black people who were a bit older than this white boy who might have been all of 19 by then. The band was already playing, and folks who think of jazz as background music should have felt the energy in that room. Leading the group was McCoy Tyner, who had played on the John Coltrane albums that I purchased after Carlos Santana and other rock stars raved about him in interviews. The group that night was on fire. Band members included the fire-breathing George Adams, a tall tenor sax player whose eyes rolled back into his head during his solos. Constantly switching instruments, Guilherme Franco would disappear and then reappear from behind a percussion rack and throw in other visual effects that seemed almost shamanistic. That performance was intense, and seeing it in a small club made it reverberate even more. I knew I’d be back.

Prior to that night my concert-going had mostly been limited to rock shows at big venues, which was fun, but at Gilly’s it amazed me that I could witness such a high level of musicianship, the playing so inspired and so intense, in such a small space. Although I never lived in Dayton, I drove from Celina, Oxford, and Cincinnati to see two other McCoy shows, Betty Carter, Woody Shaw, JJ Johnson, Wayne Shorter, John McLaughlin, Muddy Waters, Mose Allison, Ralph Towner and John Abercrombie, Flora and Airto, and many other artists.

Most of the shows I saw there were in the late 70s and the 1980s, when the more “out” jazz enjoyed some popularity and was part of the tour and festival circuit. During a performance by Old & New Dreams, (a group consisting of Don Cherry, Dewey Redman, Charlie Haden, and Ed Blackwell), the second set opened with “Lonely Woman,” a beautiful and haunting Ornette Coleman composition, and sitting in the front row while listening to Charlie Haden droning, mournful bass solo was mesmerizing. On another night Sam Rivers brought a heady mixture of free jazz and funk. And there was Jack DeJohnette’s Special Edition with David Murray, Arthur Blythe, and Peter Warren. The playing was so powerful that evening that increased my fascination with jazz, as it amazed me that I could walk into a room and hear such remarkably musicianship by guys who (other than DeJohnette) I hadn’t even heard of before that night. Later David Murry returned with a quartet that included Ed Blackwell.

One of the last shows I saw at Gilly’s was a series of duets by Steve Lacy and Mal Waldron. That was one of two concerts they played in America on that “tour,” and it was my only opportunity to see either of them. When Mal Waldron soloed, the smoke rising from his cigarillo behind his thick white hair while the spotlight shone down was jazz imagery at its finest. To think that, for years, Waldron worked with Billie Holiday in different formats, including duets, as the final verse of “The Day Lady Died” by Frank O’Hara describes:

and I am sweating a lot by now and thinking of

leaning on the john door in the 5 SPOT

while she whispered a song along the keyboard

to Mal Waldron and everyone and I stopped breathing

The fact that Waldron played at Gilly’s begins to tell you some of the history that passed through the club’s doors.

About the time that I started hitting small jazz shows I caught wind of punk, with its DIY ethos, and something similar has always been at work in the jazz world. Certainly it was in Jerry Gillotti’s DNA. (And somehow it makes sense that Gilly’s hosted some early and now legendary punk and new wave shows when that scene was still in its infancy.) Although both Columbus and Cincinnati were larger cities, neither had a club comparable to Gilly’s. To put it simply, Jerry Gillotti booked bands who shortly before or after that gig were performing at the Village Vanguard. Jazz lovers within driving distance of Gilly’s were quite spoiled, as this was all about one person going out of his way to make something happen. Jerry Gillotti passed away on November 23, 2017, and it should be noted that even though he suffered from increasingly bad health he continued to run the club until the end of his life.

Memories of Gilly’s shows always return to his voice, which you’d hear before the show and between sets. (He also did the highly caffeinated phone messages announcing upcoming shows.) He had the perfect voice for a jazz promoter—energetic, enthusiastic, hip. “I always thought that if you did it right you could make money doing it but I was wrong,” he said. “You can’t make any money doing it.”

Did that stop him? No. And why not? Because he loved jazz. The idea of starting a jazz club came to him at a Modern Jazz Quartet concert he attended overseas. That show must have moved him deeply, and that’s something that every jazz lover would understand. Somehow a myth has been passed along that jazz is all about massaging your cerebral cortex, but the truth is it’s a deeply human thing. One song that quickly wipes away the notion of jazz as Think Music is “Left Alone,” for which Billie Holiday wrote the lyrics and Mal Waldron, who decades later performed at Gilly’s, wrote the music. Although Billie passed away before they could record the song, Mal went on to play and record it for the rest of his career, not as a crowd-pleaser but as a deeply-felt tribute to Billie. Thank you, Jerry Gillotti, for bending the rules that first night and for bringing in so many great jazz artists over the years, including the guy who used to play with Billie Holiday. You made the world a better place.

Double Digits

On January 2, 2008, a group of people wearing caps and masks watched someone of similar attire plunge a knife into my neck. But the people gathered around me meant me no harm—in fact, they were trying to do me some good, as I had, it turns out, not one but two cancerous nodules inside my thyroid, so a complete thyroidectomy was in fact in order. The second nodule I never really told anyone about until now (other than some doctors) because I didn’t want to acknowledge it myself at the time, as two nodules is more worrisome than one and while #1 was the least dangerous form of thyroid cancer (papillary) #2 was some sort of papillary/other cocktail that increased the cause for concern (plus I was nearing 50, which for males especially makes those mortality charts change in ways you don’t want them to), that’s the stone cold scary truth.

I had woken up in an operating room before that day, so I knew what to expect: arctic temperatures (they help you to wake up) and chattering docs + nurses (that also helps). This time, though, I came to in a dark room by myself, and everything was silent. All I knew for sure was that I was still in a hospital. I couldn’t hear any voices, and no one was passing by in the hallway in front of me. I could tell it was dark outside, which seemed weird considering that my surgery began early that morning (or was it that morning?). What little voice I had kept asking if anyone was there. Finally a sixty-ish nurse entered the room. She stared bluntly at me and said in a most serious voice:

“You know what happened, don’t you?”

“No, and you don’t have to tell me,” I said.

She told me anyway: I had stayed under so long that standard post-operating procedure had been abandoned. My parents had left the building, and the hospital was now a very quiet place. Later, in my hospital bed, with plenty of morphine to keep me company, I watched television during the awake/asleep cycle that kept repeating itself that evening. In the middle of the night the local news showed some footage that looked like a helicopter crashing into the hospital where the surgery had been performed, and in my altered state I quickly imagined a narrative wherein, as the surgeon was about to make the first and biggest cut, the entire building wobbled. While that wasn’t entirely accurate (and in fact, I came to learn, the accident that occurred was slightly less dramatic than what I first assumed and actually took place the day before my surgery), I have sometimes embellished this story in order to impress my friends with just how tough I am. Much to my disappointment, thus far everyone has read through that particular tall tale.

Again, the date of that surgery was January 2, 2008, which makes it ten years ago today, which takes us to double digit years of cancer-free living, and that’s a really nice number. After the thyroidectomy, four months passed before we ran the tests that determined if the cancer had spread beyond my thyroid (it hadn’t), but I will always mark January 2 as The Big Anniversary because that’s the date (as we eventually came to learn) that cancer left my body. Surgery is no no fun, but those four months that followed were the hard part, and I’ll freely admit that during that time I experienced some good old-fashioned fear. Not a crazy amount, but it was tough sometimes. Everyone who has cancer handles it differently, and I’m well aware, as I’m sure you are too, that some folks respond to a cancer diagnosis with a burst of good karma and positive energy and do a superb job of dodging the heebie-jeebies. That’s a perfectly fine approach, but it isn’t universal, and if these words should happen to reach a person who either has cancer or is being tested for it, I hope you know you shouldn’t second-guess yourself if that diagnosis sends a shiver down your spine. It’s okay to worry, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

On the other hand, when it comes to the regimen of tests involved when suspicions of cancer arise and the treatment that’s required, you need to follow through on all that. Maybe you’re not the Rock of Gibraltar, but you need to give other people permission to save your life. One of the fringe benefits you’ll experience along the way is a deepening of friendships and other relationships that can only happen when you undergo such trials. I can vouch for that, and today, as I began a list of the people whose support during that time is still fresh in my memory, it really hit home how lucky I was to have them in my life. Here my mind travels first to Dr. Timothy Freeman, the primary care physician who ordered the test that revealed something we weren’t even looking for (“Even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes” is how he put it); Dr. Fischer, the surgeon who performed the thyroidectomy, which included some intricate parathyroid work; Dr. Silberstein, the nuclear medicine specialist at UC Hospital; and my endocrinologist, Dr. Denny-Queen.

My mind also travels my brothers and sisters (and I’ve got lots of ‘em), and I should also mention my brother-in-law, Ed Holder, who I saw during that time and was always supportive. Molly and Jack Bredl were there for me, as was Mary Jo Wilson. Greg Bredl and Kristin LaCroix, both cancer survivors, helped boost my spirits. And Jim Schwartzhoff, now deceased, was a pillar of strength.

The list of friends who helped me keep my spirits up during this time included Luke Domet, Pam Sweet, Laura Kristal (thank you for the flowers), Vivian Vinyl, Bill King, and Tom Wendel. The comedy team of Maarten and Ashu, whose wild antics during that four-month period kept me laughing, also deserve a shout-out. Also, Jeff King, who is now deceased, was a bedrock of support during that period.

My mind also travels to people I knew at work, including, definitely, Sonja McLaughlin and Anita Clary. And how lucky I was to have as an “officemate” Asmaa Gharbi Alami, who offered support and prayed for me—and made me laugh, for that woman has a wicked sense of humor. It’s been too long since the two of us have conversed, but we are friends for life, and she knows it.

Looking back on that time, I’m especially grateful for my parents, John and Gary Wilson, who, along with providing emotional and practical support, endured many inconveniences while dealing with the post-surgical logistics (and weren’t bothered a bit by it). Many decades ago, in Des Moines, Iowa, a friend of our family surreptitiously placed in front of our house a huge roadside sign announcing that it was my mother’s birthday and that anyone driving past was invited in for donuts and coffee. That sign brought in many visitors who were previously strangers, and it provided lots of laughs. Anyone who knows my parents will tell you that the same welcoming spirit so prominently on display that day has always defined them. Lest there be any mystery, that’s how we all should live.

Kamasi Washington at the Taft

Occasionally a jazz musician comes along who draws a crowd in both the jazz community as well as the music world in general. Esperanza Spaulding would be an example of such an artist, connecting with different audiences while retaining her jazz creds.

Similar words could be used to describe Kamasi Washington, whose work with such non-jazz names as Kendrick Lamar and String Cheese Incident—that and the blend of musical styles in his music—has added much to his visibility.

On Tuesday Kamasi played at the Taft Theatre in Cincinnati, and while the show didn’t sell out, there was an exceptionally good crowd for jazz as well as a buzz in the air, with rock concert-type yells during some of Kamasi’s fiery tenor sax solos.

The record that put Kamasi over was 2015’s The Epic, a release that, if you bought it on vinyl (and I noticed many concertgoers walking around with newly-purchased copies), was three LPs. No one will ever accuse The Epic of being false advertising, as it’s very big picture, hearkening back to the days when jazz musicians didn’t just record albums, they delved into current affairs and the cosmos. I’m thinking of the 60s and early 70s here especially, when much of the jazz you heard was often quite frenetic and also had a spiritual element. That music certainly resounded with me—two of the first jazz records I bought were Pharoah Sanders’ Village of the Pharoahs and John Coltrane’s The Other Village Vanguard Tapes.

You hear something similar on The Epic, along with a debt to Coltrane and other artists from that period, as well as a focus on civil rights that especially echoes the 60s and early 70s. That’s all well and good, but those are big shoes to fill, and there was never any guarantee that, all these years later, anyone would be able to step up and do justice to that heritage.

I’m a fan of Kamasi Washington and some of his bandmates (I think Cameron Graves’ Planetary Prince, which features Kamasi extensively, was one of the best jazz albums this year), but I had never seen him before Tuesday night. That concert confirmed my belief that he’s a worthy successor to the earlier jazz artists, both as a soloist and as a bandleader who has a penchant for choosing top-notch musicians.

And there’s something else that convinced me he’s a heavy hitter: his compositions. Yes, as a saxophonist he’s technically impressive, and he definitely emotes, but some musicians with the same qualities write songs that sound slapped together for the purpose of launching extended solos. Not so with Kamasi. A few of the highlights from last night: “Leroy and Lanisha,” a clever piece of songwriting inspired by the music from the old Charlie Brown specials; “Truth,” which presents five very different melodies at once—sounds interesting in theory, right?, but it also was very pleasant on the ears; and the closer, “The Rhythm Changes,” a gorgeous song with a nice groove to it. His ability to write music that does justice to his overall vision is central to his relevancy. Far from a flash in the pan, Kamasi Washington is that rare musician who can help battle the popularity-held notion that jazz exists in order to massage your cerebral cortex.

Funky Fridays with Freekbass is Back on the Air

Funky Fridays with Freekbass is a Cincinnati-based radio program that plays two hours of funk music every Friday from 6 to 8 pm. You can access it in one of two ways: if you live in Northside, you can catch it over the airwaves at 1660 AM; the rest of us can stream it online on Gaslight Property is a proud sponsor of the program, which basically picks up where the Friday-night funk show on WNKU left off.

Broadcast from Urban Artifact, Funky Fridays features funk, soul, disco, and hip-hop from all eras; interviews with George Clinton, Ivan Neville, George Porter Jr, Alan Light, Steve Arrington, Ghost Note, and Turkuaz, to name a few; and entertaining banter between the hosts of the show, Freekbass and Chris Donnelly.

Freekbass has been a staple of the Cincinnati music scene and beyond for decades. He formed SHAG in 1992 using the moniker “Freekbass,” a name bestowed by his mentor in funk, Bootsy Collins. Artists Freekbass has collaborated with include Bootsy Collins, Mike Gordon (Phish), Bernie Worrell (Talking Heads, P-Funk), DJ Logic, Steve Molitz (Particle), Jennifer Hartswick (Trey Anastasio Band), and Buckethead.

Along with playing guitar in SHAG, Chris Donnelly is a sales manager at Sam Ash Music in Springdale. As a music history raconteur (you’d be amazed at how many musicians he’s met/promoted/provided moral support for) Chris is nonpareil, and he’s perfect for a radio program of this nature.

Does anyone else remember this? Back in the Sudsy Malone’s days, I used to see Freekbass perform in a band called Sleep Theatre. They packed the place every time, playing music that I might call dark wave…something like that. Those were good times. They put out one vinyl album, and one of the songs on it was this, “Flesh Instructs.” Even in this dark pop vein, there was no escaping the funk:




The Proud Rooster Keeps Crowing

An old-school mom-and-pop restaurant in the heart of the Gaslight District, the Proud Rooster has been getting a lot of attention lately. It recently topped a list of recommended mom-and-pops on the Only In Your State website. And last week 94.9’s Sandy and Holly “DJ’s and Diners” tour made its first stop at the Proud Rooster.

The praise is well-deserved, as the Proud Rooster, located at 345 Ludlow Avenue, provides good diner food and the kind of casual charm that befits a family-owned restaurant that’s been an integral part of Clifton’s Gaslight District since Eisenhower was President. (Before that, it was the Hitching Post.) The Proud Rooster is open for breakfast and lunch, and the hours are 8am to 2:30pm Tuesday thru Saturday and 8am to 1:30pm Sundays; it’s closed on Mondays. It serves breakfast staples like eggs, bacon, sausage, and home fries; lunch items include burgers, fries, and fried chicken.

The Proud Rooster has a relaxed vibe, and in the mornings you’ll see plenty of half-awake morning customers rolling in wearing shorts or sweats. While there, you’ll also see lots of sports memorabilia on the walls—photos of Bob Huggins, Sam Wyche, and other well-known coaches. And you’ll see photos and trophies of basketball teams once coached by the owner of the Proud Rooster, Bob “Chicken Man” Doll, who coached girls’ basketball for 28 years at St. Dominic in Delhi. The team won three city tournaments and were runners-up three other years.

When I asked Bob what he loved most about coaching, he said, “To see kids believe in themselves.” The work was all volunteer, and he made it clear that the benefits of playing sports—and his connection with the students—extended well beyond the end of the season.

“People say, ‘I don’t know if I can do that, I’m gonna quit”—well, that’s too easy,” he explained. “You gotta fight for it, and all my kids have done that.

“They start to believe in themselves. Every time I see them now, I think, that’s all my kids. They seem to achieve more when they get out.

“Twenty eight years,” he added, “and I wouldn’t trade a second for it.”

Just as he had an influence on St. Dominic’s eighth graders, Bob had had a positive impact on the Gaslight District—and for that he deserves a yet another trophy.


Taft’s Brewing Company Opens in Spring Grove Village

Located at 4831 Spring Grove Avenue in Spring Grove Village, Taft’s Brewing Company had absolutely perfect weather for its grand opening last weekend. The event drew a large crowd that including children eager to show their strength at the high striker. The 50,000-square foot space includes a brewery as well as a tap room (“brewporium”) with a wide assortment of beer. Taft’s Brewing Company also serves a New Haven coal-fired, crispy Neopolitan-style pizza and sandwiches. The building benefits from some glass garage doors, which look great and gives the brewporium an indoor/outdoor feel. While there I ran into friends from Spring Grove, Clifton, and Northside, which makes sense as Taft’s is within a stone’s throw of two of those neighborhoods and is part of Spring Grove Village, where new stores keep popping up lately, including Sally’s Treats & Treasures and Flamingo Haven—and I should mention that Flamingo Haven is hosting a community yard sale this Saturday. Taft’s Brewing Company is located near the intersection of Spring Grove Avenue and Mitchell Avenue. Regular hours for Taft’s will be 3pm to 10pm Wednesday; noon to midnight Thursday, Friday, and Saturday; and noon to 9pm Sunday.

So Where Do You Buy A Book Around Here?

You may recall certain pundits proclaiming that books were dead – and by “books” we mean the actual three-dimensional objects with a spine and a cover and actual pages as opposed to words that appear on a computer screen. Turns out lots of people – way more than predicted, and not just the old-timey traditionalists – like the experience of reading an actual book, and now the online juggernauts are opening (whodathunkit) good old-fashioned bookstores around the country.

That’s all good and well, but that doesn’t wipe away that fact that the small independent (but infinitely resourceful) bookstore that used to be on Ludlow Avenue (New World Bookshop) is now gone. So if someone who lived ’round here wanted to purchase a book in an actual store nearby opposed to ordering it online (what fun is that?), aren’t they up a crick?

Well, no – but books aren’t always in the obvious places. One store that has expanded its book section considerably is Shake-It Records in Northside. And while you might expect music books (and Shake-It has ’em), the record store sells more books in other categories, including lots and lots of classic literature (including poetry and drama), plus philosophy and other liberal arts staples. Although Shake-It sells new books, it has greatly increased the number of used books it sells. It sells them cheap, and they have actually been surprised at how quickly they fly off the shelves, which is why their book selection and will only get larger. Here’s some photos I snapped at Shake-It a couple weeks ago, but I know for a fact that their selection has increased a lot (and sold) since then – but this’ll give you a taste:

Many people miss New World Bookshop, which only sold new books, but there is one place nearby that has lots of new books and is well curated. I’m talking here of the bookstore at UC’s university center, which along with a substantial local section had a lot of fiction, including lots of new novels, such as Sarah Domet’s The Guineveres – a humorous and intriguing debut novel by an author who grew up in Cincinnati and studied at UC.

And don’t forget Duttenhoffer’s, a used bookstore which has been around Clifton forever and is doing “extremely well,” according to the employee I talked to this morning. In fact, he said, other than December, which benefits from the Christmas rush, June of this year was the best month they’ve had since he started there five years ago. That’s good to hear. It seems like people are falling in love with books again. They’ve been referred to as “the new vinyl,” and like vinyl records books seemed passé for a minute but turned out to be timeless.








Herzog Music Opens Downtown

Herzog Music opened last weekend in downtown Cincinnati, 811 Race Street to be exact. Walking around the three stories devoted to celebrating Cincinnati’s musical heritage…and providing a bridge to the future, I thought that downtown Cinci just got a little more colorful and music-friendly. Herzog Music is a lot of different things at once, and I won’t pretend that this blog entry captures everything going on at the location, which feels like a combination of a retail store, museum, and performance space – but even an incomplete report should be enough to be of interest to any music lover.

On the first floor the main attraction is a huge selection of musical instruments, with many dating back so far that they predate some of the historic recording sessions that took place in that same building. In a room where guitars, basses, mandolins, dobros, and other instruments hung on the wall, a left-handed girl strummed skillfully on  a right-handed ukulele (“You just do it in reverse,” she explained).

I asked her father if this was family where everyone played, and he said no, that was all her. And it’s funny: after the family disappeared for a few minutes, she slipped back in and grabbed a left-handed guitar off the wall and strummed some more. I believe she’s found her calling!

And there were some other strummers.

The second floor had lots of used LPs, and many more will be put out in upcoming weeks.

And here’s a nice touch: you can play the records that you’re curious about. I threw on Maxayn, an old funk album on Capricorn.

After pawing through some records, I noted to Little Billy Catfish, seen here with Bonnie Speeg, that this particular Three Sounds LP was recorded at a club in downtown Cincinnati. Remember the Living Room?

Herzog Music is also a good place to shop for stereo equipment, including speakers, amps, receivers, equalizers, cassette decks, and turntables.

And don’t forget PA speakers, mixing boards, mics, and all that other stuff you need to perform live:

Speaking of live, when I walked up to the third floor I witnessed a live performance from the same gentleman I saw strumming an acoustic guitar on the first floor. His name is Andrew Hibbert, and he recently recorded an album (some or all of it at Herzog) that will be coming out pretty soon – we’ll have to keep track of that, as he’s a very talented musician whose skills include some first-rate yodeling a la Jimmie Rodgers.

There will be other musical performances at Herzog Music, and there will also be music lessons. So far I’ve only scratched the surface, but that’s okay – you can get a fuller picture by visiting yourself. As I left the building, it struck me that, as much as I enjoyed looking at records and vintage guitars and historical photos, what I liked best about Herzog Music was the way it brought people together. There’s a lot of history in that building, but there’s more to come.


Have You Been to It’s Yoga?

This summer It’s Yoga, located at 346 Ludlow Avenue in the Gaslight District, is offering a deal for brand new students to the yoga studio. Their five-class pass for $25 is good for two weeks after purchase.

The yoga studio, which is located above Ace Hardware, has been an active yoga studio and yoga teacher training school since 2000. All instructors have a minimum of 200 hours of certified teacher training and several have 500 hours.

Whatever your interest and experience level, It’s Yoga has a class that will match your needs. The types of yoga It’s Yoga offers include:

  • Beginner’s Yoga for those curious about yoga and brand new to it. Beginner’s Yoga explores the different styles of yoga, proper alignment, and will build one’s confidence to move on to some of the other classes offered at It’s Yoga.
  • Yoga for 50+ classes are offered several times a week, morning, and evening, and have become increasingly popular with older and wiser adults looking to maintain or add flexibility and strength for aging gracefully.
  • More athletic forms such as Ashtanga, Vinyasa Flow and Core Power Yoga that incorporates some Pilates and Yoga moves to create a stronger abdomen and back muscles.
  • Yin Yoga is a very popular Thursday evening class that uses long deep seated postures and stretches to release deep fascia and promote physical flexibility and emotional stillness and relaxation.

So get in some comfortable clothing, grab your water bottle, and join It’s Yoga on the mat. Good stuff for the body, mind, and soul.

To learn more about classes and purchase passes, check out It’s Yoga’s website, like their Facebook page, stop in the studio, or call at 513-961-9642. Namastè.

Guess Who Makes Great Pizza?

Since the beginning, one of the consistent themes of this blog has been this: The Gaslight District is a great place to live because there’s lots to do AND it’s super convenient. Well, it just got a little more convenient. Clifton Market continues to add more and more new features, and now the deli makes pizza that’s modestly priced and immodestly yummy. Let’s take a look at the menu:

You’ll note that there’s a gluten-free option, and you’ll also notice some veggie options. Note also that you can customize your pizza to your heart’s content – and again, you can’t beat the prices. A couple days ago, based on a rave review from a friend of mine, I visited the deli and ordered a pizza. I got the lowdown on all things pizza-related from Ray and Anthony:

Our conversation ended up drawing a crowd that included Jeremy (“Tell everybody he’s the reason this deli is so good,” one of his co-workers said), Sharon, and Brandy, and they were up for a picture as well:

Our banter as we discussed the pizza (“You better make this good! This guy’s writing a blog!”) and the sense the employees really cared about their customers points to one of the best things about Clifton Market: its friendly and personable employees. Okay, so I ordered a Groovy Pizza, and while I was waiting for it I visited the beer selection, as one needs to wash down the pizza with something.

While there I remembered a conversation I’d overheard recently where someone standing in front of these doors was surprised to learn that the Brewery District also sells beers behind them. I can understand his confusion, as the wording is a little ambiguous, right?

After I took the pizza home I allowed the pizza to cool down a little…or long enough, at least, to snap a photo of it. Like my friend Suzanne, who recommended I try the pizza in the first place, I loved the crust, I thought the proportions were just right, everything tasted fresh, and it was one hot pizza. And somehow the personal touch added that extra something to it. Grab one the next time you visit Clifton Market!

Mediterranean King Has New Owner + Offers Expanded Menu

Mediterranean King has been in Clifton for almost five years now, serving its tasty blend of Authentic Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Cuisine at 3307 Clifton Ave. for both dine-in and carry-out. Recently the restaurant came under new ownership. It’s very much a family operation, as the new owners and most of the staff are a Syrian family. Also, the Manager and familiar face, Kerry Ann McGrath, has been with Mediterranean King since the beginning, behind the scenes and in front. The restaurant also does a lot of catering, and interested parties should call (513) 221-7222 to arrange the perfect, custom spread for their event. The classic, original menu items customers expect and love remain, but there are some new items as well. One new item is the Cheese Boat (Fatayir bi Jebneh), “a Syrian savory pastry filled with a mix of herbs and cheese inside our handmade dough, baked to golden perfection.” I happened to stroll into the kitchen right after these Cheese Boats were baked, and I think you can tell just by looking at this picture, just how succulent they were.

Another new goodie is the Samboosa, “a savory Cheese or Meat filled dumpling in a handmade flaky, golden shell.”

And what about Qatayaf, which are “light, fluffy pancakes filled with “Ishta”(Cream cooked with half and half & cheese) topped with simple syrup.”

And there’s Fatayar Asafiri, “little fluffy pancakes filled with cream and cheese, topped with crushed pistachio and simple syrup!”

And don’t forget Baklava!

Here’s another dessert dish, Kunafa, “a pastry made of shredded Filo dough, filled with Ricotta Cheese & cream, topped with simple syrup.”

Other new dishes and exciting renovations are on their way, along with, as I said before, the original menu. To find out what else Mediterranean King is cooking up, like and follow their Facebook page. And if you have any questions or want to order carryout, call (513) 221-7222. We’re glad to have Mediterranean King in the neighborhood, cooking delicious, authentic food and offering a calm, peaceful atmosphere. I always found the previous owner and his staff to be warm and welcoming and personable, and I got the exact same vibe when I walked in today and met Hanan, the mother in the family (she’s the woman on the right).

This restaurant has long been a dream of Hanan’s, and one the owners, her family, have made a reality. Mediterranean King encourages everyone to stop in and meet the new family, as they love to welcome and personally chat with patrons. That was also the case with the previous owner, and he searched a long time for the right family to take over the business. Fortunately, he found them.


Bruegger’s Is Back In Business

Bruegger’s reopened today, and it’s better than ever, with streamlined service and an even cozier atmosphere (I like the dark walls and soft lighting). A place to grab a quick bite to go or a place to linger for whatever length of time with a laptop or book – or friends. Seems like the Gaslight District just keeps getting better, with our new grocery store, Clifton Market, now up and running, a new barbershopthe Whole Bowl an instant hit – and the Clifton Plaza music series back in action (it’s every Friday and Saturday night), along with the long-established businesses and the real sense of neighborhood. Welcome back, Bruegger’s – we missed ya!

“An Evening In Paris” This Thursday

This Thursday a free concert will take place at the Burnet Woods Bandstand. The event, titled An Evening In Paris, will be a celebration of  French music. From 6-7:30pm on June 1 the versatile Faux Frenchmen will perform their mix of gypsy jazz and other genres. They’ve been a favorite around Clifton for quite some time, combining their high level of musicianship with wit and camaraderie. Here’s the Faux Frenchmen a song Fletcher Allen wrote and that Django Reinhardt recorded, “Viper’s Dream.”

At 8pm the CCO (Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra) Wind Quintet will launch their set of French music, with compositions by Milhaud, Rameau, Tambourin, Bizet, Debussy, and Ibert. These are great composers who wrote beautiful music that’s quintessentially French. To whet your appetite, here’s a wind quintet performing Debussy’s Reverie.



So You Wanna Win A Pulitzer Prize?

On the day our family left Des Moines, Iowa—this happened in August of 1972—my self-image changed completely. Whoever I thought I was before vanished, and the city where I was born and where I lived until we headed upstate also underwent a mental revision. School would start in about a week, and I planned to make sure that my fellow eighth-graders understood right away that the new kid from the cosmopolitan epicenter of Des Moines (population 250,000) had a thing or two on folks from Storm Lake, which only 10,000 people called home. As I walked around downtown—or “uptown,” as the locals called it for some upside-down reason—before classes started I assumed culture shock would soon overwhelm me. Although Storm Lake had its charms, with wide, tree-lined streets, and a picturesque downtown, when I saw farmers driving pickup trucks and walking around in overalls I pictured myself starring in a TV show that was basically the Beverly Hillbillies in reverse. I was prepared, when I met my future classmates, to convey all kinds of attitude.

That plan, it turns out, dissolved almost instantly. As dumb as I was, I soon realized that I was very lucky. Both in and out of the classroom, my grade school years were wonderful—lots of friends, endless fun and laughter—but the junior high I attended, larger and more impersonal than Perkins, was about as laid back as a prison. It was a dangerous school where students were afraid of other students and where law and order came hard and fast, much more so than at Perkins, although at Perkins you got a better education. When our parents announced that, in Storm Lake, their six children would be attending a Catholic school once again after a long hiatus, I thought oh no, here it comes, my assumption being that nuns were even meaner in small towns than in booming metropolises like the one where I grew up.

But the eighth-graders at St. Mary’s were the rowdiest classmates I would ever have, and no teacher could hold us back. I remember a day when maybe half the class stayed after school. At some point the teacher left; I can’t remember if she planned to return or if we were simply supposed to remain there on the honor system. We responded by tipping over desks and throwing books on the floor and basically wrecking the room. No one said anything to us the next day. Now that was my kind of school. I remember wondering if the public school, which was right across the street, was even rowdier. All of my guy friends that year were from St. Mary’s, but the girls I cavorted with were all from the public school; therein lies everything I know about the public schools of Storm Lake between 1972 and 1973 (or at any time, for that matter).

That only begins to tell you what was good about Storm Lake. The house we moved to was bigger and older than the one in Des Moines and had beautiful woodwork inside. It was located across the street from a park, and beyond that was the lake. Lakeshore Drive was part of the route that all the teenagers made as they scooped the loop, and in my mind Storm Lake was one big circle where all the fun people passed our house at least once a day. The soda fountain at Ben Franklin’s, the grain silo on the main drag, the huge motorcycles that all the St. Mary’s student kept crashing, wide alleys, and even, strangely enough, the squealing pigs at Hygrade, all those things and countless more contributed to Storm Lake’s charm. To me it was like a countrified and modernized version of American Graffiti, with nature hippies instead of guys with short, slicked-back hair. When John Fogerty sings “We could make music at the Greasy King” during “Sweet Hitchhiker,” my mind flashes immediately to the burger joint—can’t tell you the name, can’t tell you the street—where we went after the football and basketball games (unless, that is, we were roaming the railroad tracks with the public school girls).

Clearly we had found the Promised Land, but after a year we he headed east, to Ohio. Since then I’ve only been back to Storm Lake a few times. Even though the houses aren’t as big as they were in my memory (how could they be?) and I lost track of my old buddies and your perspective tends to change as you grow older, I still think Storm Lake was the right place and the right time for me.
         With a family of eight, it’s hard, after people have moved around the country, to reunite everyone, but recently seven Wilsons were in the same house, including our oldest sister, who’s now the only family member living in Iowa—close to Storm Lake, in fact. She brought to Celina, Ohio (where my parents now live) a copy of the Storm Lake Times that contained the jubilant article its co-owner and editor, Art Cullen, wrote after the Times won a Pulitzer Prize for its investigative reporting. The judges commended the Times for “editorials fueled by tenacious reporting, impressive expertise and engaging writing that successfully challenged powerful corporate agricultural interests in Iowa.” Along with shedding light on the nitrate pollution caused by bad farming practices, the paper exposed the dark money used to suppress that conclusion. The damage isn’t limited to Buena Vista County, where Storm Lake is located. “It is choking the waterworks and the Gulf of Mexico,” Cullen wrote in an editorial. “It is causing oxygen deprivation in Northwest Iowa glacial lakes.” If you think about it, the story has parallels to Flint, Michigan—or more directly to Celina, Ohio, where similar shortsightedness has forced officials to post a closed sign for entire summers on a lake that has long been a big tourist draw.

There is a message here. Typically the Pulitzer Prize goes to the big city papers, but not this time. The judges deserve credit for recognizing the value of a twice-a-week newspaper with a circulation of 3,000. And the staff at the Storm Lake Times deserve credit for taking their role as journalists seriously instead of delivering the fluff (or clickbait) so many magazines and papers resort to in a desperate attempt to “build their base.” “We’ve always believed that the Storm Lake Times should be as good at covering Storm Lake as the New York Times is at covering New York,” Cullen has written. Ultimately no matter where you are there’s a story to be told. That’s true if you’re a journalist or a fiction writer or a songwriter—meaning you don’t have to move to Greenwich Village to tap into something vital.

And sometimes the wide-open spaces far from the madding crowd are the best launching pads for progressive ideas. No one thought much of it when, in August of 1973, some folks decided to ride their bikes across Iowa. Since then RAGBRAI has become a huge event that prefigured the ecologically-conscious and fitness-minded bicycle craze. Storm Lake was one of the stopping/starting points for that first ride, and Lakeshore Drive was on the route. As a result I found myself chatting, in my own front yard, with some of the Des Moines crowd, including co-RAGBRAI founder Donald Kaul, whose Over the Coffee column was a highlight of the Des Moines Register, and his son Chris Kaul, one of my grade school buds. Here you see Donald Kaul explaining to some old-school Iowans that highways were built not for cars but for bicycles and tractors.

While preparing this screed I discovered that that, along with growing up in Storm Lake, Art Cullen went to St. Mary’s and was probably (based on our ages) one grade ahead of me. No one in my family seems to know him, myself included. Whatever his school history, I hope his class behaved better than we did, as we gave the nuns more than enough grief. Now, though, he’s raising all kinds of hell. I always thought Storm Lake was a good place—and I’m sticking to that story.

The Art of Talking

It’s interesting that one of the most popular places in the Gaslight District is also a bit hidden. Because there are no windows at the Bohemian Hookah Café at 340 Ludlow Avenue, you could forget it’s there—except that, once you walk inside, you quickly realize it’s a go-to place for a hip and diverse crowd. In its own unassuming way the café quickly became a fixture in the community, and at the center of it all is the owner, Farah A. Hagar, who we know as “Blackie.” During a recent visit to the café I learned that Blackie had published a book. Often books are kind of a one-on-one between the book and the reader, but Blackie Bohemian: Book of Questions is different. It’s meant to be a group experience. As you may have noticed, people have a tendency these days, when out in public, to ignore everything, including the people they’re with, while they immerse themselves in this little palm-sized objects with a screen on them. Book of Questions consists entirely of questions intended to be read aloud in order to foster discussion between people who are sitting together. Here’s an example: If you had to wear the same outfit the rest of your life, what would you wear? And this: Who is the worst person you have ever met; what made them the worst? These are the types of questions that, by the time everyone jumps into the discussion, offer a long respite from the screen-staring so prevalent these days. That’s part of the attraction, but I have a hunch that its allure also stems from the popularity of the venue and, of course, Blackie, who’s always been a welcoming and cheerful presence on Ludlow Avenue. Stop in the Bohemian Hookah Cafe and try his cardamon ginger chai, which is the real deal as opposed to the prepackaged variety, or his fresh mint tea, which is grown in  the back of the building.

Steven Paul Lansky Reading at Chase Public

Steven Paul Lansky will read selections from his novella A Black Bird Fell Out of the Sky at Chase Public on Friday, May 5 at 7:30pm. The novella has just been published, and it marks a fresh new milestone for an author whose other publications include two chapbooks (2002’s Main St. and 2009’s Eleven Word Title for Confessional Political Poetry Originally Composed for Radio) and an audio novel (2004’s Jack Acid). Lansky has been published in Cosmonauts Avenue, This: a serial review, Whole Terrain, New Flash Fiction Review, The Journal of Kentucky Studies, and Evil Dog. Those attending the reading can expect to hear experimental, postmodern fiction that, according to Josip Novakovich, details “exploitation of Kenya’s Maasai Mara and Serengeti by Westerners, local mafia, and journalists, rendering the last genuine wild-lands into a theater of deceit and theft….The prose moves with extraordinarily beautiful language, painterly images and poetic logic.” In Michael Henson’s words, “If Ernest Hemingway and Karen Finley had a literary love-child, it would look something like this.” The evening will also feature readings from Keith Tuma and Bill Comparetto. The reading is free, and copies of the new book will be on sale that evening. Chase Public is upstairs at 1569 Chase Avenue in Northside.

QCA Records

Spring Grove Avenue is one of those great old Cincinnati streets with so much history that even if you don’t know the story behind the buildings, as you’re driving along you know that every warehouse and factory stores countless tales tracing back to the days when they were packed with workers and the wide, four-lane street where you now have plenty of elbow room was a lot more crowded. Some places have closed up shop—but not all of them, and you still see semis doing what they did decades ago.

It makes perfect sense that in the middle of all that sits the building belonging to QCA, a company that started making vinyl records in 1950. After all, making records is a mechanical process where you get your hands dirty in the same way that you do in a huge factory. The process involves nickel and silver and cutters and PVC pellets and electro-plating and machines that do everything from making the stamper to ensuring the spindle hole is dead center. The technology of music reproduction has changed a lot since 1950. Some of it has gone away—and some of it has returned. The fact that it in this case the inevitable race to obsolescence wasn’t so inevitable surprised everyone, but that’s what happened after a resurgence of popularity for vinyl. Along with equipment that was used for scrap metal or converted for use in other industries, entire pressing plants have disappeared since vinyl records seemed to have gone the route of dinosaurs.

QCA (Queen City Album) is still here, however. Since 1950, the company has been making records, first as vinyl albums, then cassettes and CDs. Once, like King Records, a soup-to-nuts facility that offered everything from a recording studio to album covers, QCA switched its focus when demand for vinyl plummeted. As vinyl returned, QCA jumped back in, and it’s now involved in several steps in the process of putting together a record. It creates labels for both LPs and 45s, make record sleeves for 45s and is involved in the design of album covers, and I should add that because UltraSuede Studios is in the building, you can once again record on the same premises where your vinyl record might be pressed. And QCA once again masters and creates stampers for vinyl records. Those stampers get sent to Cleveland’s Gotta Groove Records, which means that when it comes to creating a vinyl disc, you can get it all done in the same state.

During vinyl’s initial golden age, Cincinnati was blessed to have QCA, King, Shaw, and Rite cranking out LPs and 45s, a situation that’s extremely rare for a medium-sized city. As a decades-long record collector, I’ve treasured many of the albums and 45s that were recorded and/or pressed at these facilities. Of those businesses, QCA is the only one still going. It’s a place I’ve wanted to visit for some time, but I never had an excuse to go there—not until yesterday, when a friend who’s releasing an album on vinyl invited me to tag along as he talked business with Jim Bosken, the president of QCA. Even with the vinyl revival, newly-recorded classical music seldom comes out on wax. As the music editor of The Absolute Sound, I will write about the making of this record partly because of the unique New Classical + Vinyl combination, but also because Mark Lehman has long been involved with the magazine and I want to spread the word about my friend’s album. I snapped some photos during my visit yesterday, and while I’ll swing back around and say more later about this experience, this is already a lot of words – and besides, the pictures have their own story to tell.

Community Yard Sale at Flamingo Haven April 29

On April 29 Flamingo Haven Antique Mall will host a community yard sale on its lawn. Sellers will include some mall dealers bringing new and different things as well as lots and lots of non-dealers who just have stuff they want to sell—so if you’re interested, sign up! It costs ten dollars to do so, and payment is due by April 25. Set up begins at 8 and the sale will run from 10 to 4. Expect the front lawn to be full of cool stuff; there will also be a food truck, and as long as you’re there, take a look around the antique mall, which has been open for almost a year now. Recently it expanded, adding a new building that’s connected to the original space. For many neighborhoods (including Clifton, Avondale, Northside, St. Bernard, Spring Grove, and Hartwell), it’s easily the closest antique mall, and the fact that it’s located near an intersection (Spring Grove + Mitchell) that thousands of cars pass every day makes it that much more convenient (plus it’s right off I-75). Flamingo Haven is open seven days a week, and its phone number is (513) 541-1812. Its address is 4530 W Mitchell Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45232. If you’re coming from Northside on Spring Grove Avenue, take a left at W. Mitchell, and after a third of a mile you’ll see the building on the right. Pay attention, though, because the building is set back from the street; there are parking lots on both sides of the building. See you on April 29!

Clifton Market

Seven Things To Know About Clifton Market:

The opening of Clifton Market was highly anticipated, and it has turned out to be better than we imagined. There’s much that’s unique about the store, and after I started this blog entry I started remembering other things (Clifton Market can now accept EBT and SNAP benefits, the store sources a high percentage of products locally, the hours are 7am to midnight seven days a week) that also bear mention, but one thing (well, seven things) at a time:

#1 – There’s a café at the front of the store, where you can sit and chat with friends or read a book or people watch. It’s called the Busy Bee Café, in memory of the restaurant that used to be across the street. As the café makes clear, Clifton Market is more than just a store; it’s a gathering place with a real sense of community.

#2 – Clifton Market sells bulk foods.

#3 – It has a walk-in beer cave.

#4 – The butcher shop does everything in-house, with its own cut room. Some of their best-sellers are marinaded pork chops and chicken, and salmon. Some of the more exotic fare included bison and wild boar.

#5 – Clifton Market has a drop-off and pick-up location for dry cleaning, making the store that much more convenient.


#6 – Clifton Market has its own sushi chef.

#7 – It’s a the only grocery co-op in Cincinnati. A couple things worth noting: you do not have to buy a share in order to shop at Clifton Market, and if you’re still interested, you can still buy shares. The fact that it’s a co-op underscores the sense of community that we associate with the store. So while we were sorry to see Keller’s IGA leave, the community involvement in connection with Clifton Market has added something extra to both Clifton and Cincinnati.

Clifton Barbers

Clifton Barbers is officially up and running. As these pictures testify, there’s definitely a neat, old-school, stylish look to the establishment, right down to the classic barber pole that welcomes you as you walk down the street. The address is 337 Ludlow Avenue, the phone number 513-281-3163, and service is walk-in only. Hours are Tuesday thru Friday 10am to 7pm and Saturday 10am to 3pm. Here’s their Facebook link and a link to their website.

It took no time for this latest incarnation of Clifton Barbers to integrate with the neighborhood. Even if you don’t need a cut, Brandon, Blake, and Cody encourage everyone to just stop in and say hi. Along with being another valuable small business in the Gaslight District, Clifton Barbers is a place to gather and chat.

While I was there, a barber was finishing a haircut of a young boy, while next in line was his father. What better way to show that this old/new business symbolizes something handed down from one generation to another, in a neighborhood where there’s a lot of that. Clifton Barbers goes back decades, and Dan the barber was one of those small business owner that make the Gaslight District such a special neighborhood. It’s good to know we have some worthy successors.


This Is What A Neighborhood Feels Like

First, the facts: Clifton Market is open now seven days a week, from 7am to midnight. It’s a coop, which means you can buy a share,  an option that still remains now the store is up and running. That said, anyone can shop there. As I walked around, I saw a store where most of the shelves were filled, plus there were signs announcing that such-and-such would be available soon (in most cases, later this week).

Them’s the facts, but there’s a lot more to it than facts. There’s the whole vibe of a neighborhood that had a grocery store forever and was a bit shell-shocked after it was lost…but slowly recovered its mojo and is in a perfect position to capitalize on Clifton Market. This really hit home for me last night when, as one of the thousands of people who live within walking distance, I realized when I walked outside about 11pm that I could saunter on over to a grocery store and buy a couple things. It’s been awhile since that’s been an option! And when I walked inside I ran into some old friends. I bet I’ll run into more of them during the opening festivities on January 26, 27, and 28.

And there are plenty of other things going on Ludlow Avenue, including the Whole Bowl, which was an immediate hit, and Clifton Barbers, which is about to reborn. Spring isn’t far off, and when it comes we’ll have more activities than ever at Clifton Plaza. As you may know, Plan A for the resuscitation of the grocery store went south and was replaced by the idea for a coop, which got the community much more involved than it would have if a business bought it. Now that’s what a neighborhood feels like!

For more on the Gala Opening Festivities, here’s the flyer – and remember, everyone is invited!

The Whole Bowl Opens on Ludlow Avenue



A warm smile on a cold day, courtesy of Ashlyn

The Whole Bowl is a restaurant that has seven locations in Portland, Oregon…and until recently, nowhere else. But one just popped up at 364 Ludlow Avenue, for reasons that must trace back to the fact the founder, Tali Ovadia, is originally from Cinci. With a walk-up window, the Whole Bowl is a food cart and therefore take-out only. The menu is as simple as can be: basically a 12- or 16-ounce bowl of healthy, gluten-free, vegetarian items (rice, black and red beans, Tillamook cheddar cheese, salsa, black olives, sour cream, avocado, cilantro, and a lemon garlic sauce) that is also available in a dairy-free (and therefor vegan) option.


I should confess here that I am not a vegetarian or a vegan and that my food choices are solely dictated by my taste buds. When I visited the Whole Bowl yesterday, I ordered the 16-ounce size with one simple goal: to eat good-tasting food and fill my tummy.


And I succeeded on both fronts. Partly that’s because the bowls contain what’s been dubbed the “Tali sauce,” which has a top-secret recipe and tastes delish. And 16.5 grams of protein left me feeling full.


So check out the Whole Bowl; their hours are 11am to 9pm daily, their phone number is (513) 751-2695, and here’s a link to their Facebook page. Personally, I don’t think they could have timed their entrance better. Spring ain’t far off, and soon you’ll see people sitting with their bowls of healthy, filling, quick, tasty food around Ludlow Avenue, including Clifton Plaza, which as soon as the weather gets warm always draws a crowd, with movies, live music, Monday’s farmer/flea markets, and so forth. Oh, and one other reason the Whole Bowl timed it well is – well, let’s just say that I snapped this photo on the way home; looks like they’ve got “food carts” of their own!


The New Ron Esposito CD Is Called Triad

Ron Esposito is a musician who plays a very old instrument. Singing bowls go back at least as far as the tenth century, and they continue to be used in monasteries and meditation centers.

And there’s another place once can hear them nowadays: on television.

That’s right, as Esposito’s singing bowl recordings have been played on Hawaii 5-0, Nashville, Touch, Common Law, and Ray Donovan. And you can also hear Ron’s music on John Diliberto’s Echoes.

Ron has just released a new CD called Triad, and while singing bowls are an essential element of the record, they interact with other instruments, including cello, native flute, electric guitar, acoustic bass, voices, and various forms of percussion. The result is a colorful blend of sounds and musical styles.

At times various instruments come together and create a full soundscape, and at other times the performances pare down to one or two instruments. And on some tracks Ron reads from spiritual texts, including Tao Te Ching, with minimal musical accompaniment.

This is music that can be used for meditation, but even non-meditators like myself will find that listening to Triad helps bring the mind into focus and clear out some of the cobwebs.

Lately here I’ve managed to cobble together a decent stereo system, and when I threw Triad in my CD player I was very impressed by the warm, full sound of the recording—that and the high level of musicianship. Ron’s been active in the music scene around Cincinnati for a long time, and when it’s come to assembling an A-team list of musicians, he doesn’t mess around. Names include guitar Brandon Scott Coleman and cellist Michael G. Ronstadt, both of whom are seasoned players both as leaders and sidemen.

You can hear clips from, and purchase, Triad on the following link:

And you can also purchase the CD locally at Shake-It Records and Everybody’s Records.

Here’s a video of Ron in action:

Pop-Up Shop on Ludlow Avenue This Friday


This Friday, December 2, from 6pm to 9pm the annual Holidays on Ludlow will be celebrated throughout the Ludlow Avenue Business District. Here are some of the highlights:

  • 6pm – UC Bearcat leads DAAP Pop-Up Light Parade
  • 6:15pm – Santa arrives via fire truck at Plaza
  • 6:30pm – Story time with Eric at Clifton Market
  • 6:00-9:00pm – Free Horse Drawn Carriage Rides
  • Strolling carolers: Smooth Transitions Barbershop Quartet & carolers from United Methodist
  • Cincinnati Bethel Choir at Clifton Plaza
  • Petey’s Pet Stop & Howell Animal Hospital – free pet photos with Santa + free refreshments

The event will include a pop-up shop where the library used to be, at 351 Ludlow Avenue. Twenty-four vendors will be selling their wares, and items for sale will include jewelry, art, Christmas items, plants, handmade weavings & cards, jewelry boxes, stained glass creations, bicycle recycle, pottery, grass-fed gourmet, and record albums. This is the first pop-up store I’ve heard of in the Gaslight District, and it’s a great idea. Come hang out that night, check out the pop-up store, the carols, the carriage rides, the soon-to-be grocery store, and start getting in the Christmas spirit! Here are some photos of art by some of the artists whose work will be on display that evening:
pop-up-shop-2 pop-up-shop-3
pop-up-shop-clint-wood-iii pop-up-shop-colleen-wood pop-up-shop-african


Holidays on Ludlow to Include Pop-Up Store This Year

holidays-on-ludlow-poster-2016Friday, December 2, from 6pm to 9pm the annual Holidays on Ludlow will be celebrated throughout the Ludlow Avenue Business District. It’s always a fun night, with highlights including carriage rides and a choir singing Christmas songs. This year the event will include a pop-up shop where the library used to be, at 351 Ludlow Avenue. Fourteen vendors will be selling their wares, and items for sale will include jewelry, mixed media art, Christmas items, bonsai plants, handmade weavings & cards, jewelry boxes, stained glass creations, bicycle recycle, pottery, grass-fed gourmet, Libby Boutique, and record albums. Also, they’ll be taking Santa photos at the old library as well. This is the first pop-up store I’ve heard of in the Gaslight District, and it’s a great idea; along with being lots of fun, it’s a stellar opportunity for people to stock up on Christmas presents, although that’s only a fraction of what will be there. Come hang out that night, check out the pop-up store, the carols, the carriage rides, the soon-to-be grocery store (they’re getting closer by the day!), and start getting in the Christmas spirit! See you there.

Vote For Josephine!


Josephine is the daughter of some friends of mine who live in Northside and have some Clifton roots. Josephine is 21 months old, and after her mother posted a comment on Facebook encouraging people to vote for Josephine as the cutest kid in the Gerber Photo Search contest I thought, now that’s something I can get behind! And we should all get behind it, as I went through all the photos and discovered, quite objectively, that Josephine indeed WAS the cutest kid in the contest, no doubt about it. So help my friends out and vote for Josephine!

Here’s the link with her face and number already chosen:

The procedure is basically self-explanatory, except to save time you want to have Josephine’s number handy, which is 238352. Here are the steps (you probably won’t need all this, but in case you do):

  • Click where it says Login to Vote
  • Sign in using your email, then click Next
  • Click Go to Gallery
  • Where it says Baby’s First Name Or ID, type Josephine’s number, which is 238352. Doing so will bring up the photo of Josephine.

After you do that, a window will pop up that will include the words Vote Now; click that and you’re done…except that you can vote once a day until November 25, so bookmark the page in order to keep voting for Josephine. Thanks for helping; here’s hoping she wins!

Ludloween Photos


On Halloween night the weather was perfect and children filled Ludlow Avenue, wearing great costumes and big smiles. We have lots of repeats every year, with children coming back over and over because they love coming here. Enjoy!
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“Ludloween” on Monday Night! Starts at 5!


To celebrate Halloween this year, the Clifton Business District will host “Ludloween” on Monday, October 31. Along with spooky decorations, there will be lots of trick-or-treat candy for kids.  Below you’ll see a long list of businesses that are participating – pretty much every store on or near Ludlow Avenue. The festivities are from 5pm to 7pm, which allows the young ones to fill their bag with candy before it gets dark. Here’s the list of businesses; see you there!

Clifton Market
The Clifton Library
China Kitchen
Favorite Vapors
Gaslight Gourmet Cookies
Biagio’s Bistro
Los Potrillos
Esquire Theater
Lentz and Company
Hansa Guild
CVS Pharmacy
Ace Hardware
Clifton Natural Foods
Petey’s Pet Stop
Grill of India
Toko Baru
J. Gumbo

Dylan Wins A Prize


Word got out today that Robert Zimmerman won a big award, and everyone was talking about it both in cyberspace and real space, and along with the wows and the explanation points there were those who questioned the decision either because they thought Dylan was less than iconic or because lyric writers winning literary awards may have broken some kind of rule. The latter argument hearkens back of course to the belief that poetry is poetry and lyrics are lyrics and the never the twain shall meet.

This happens to be one of those subjects on which I agree with everyone. Lyrics can never aspire to poetry? Sure. There are times when lyrics are so sharp, so focused, so chiseled that calling them anything other than poetry is pure sacrilege? I can live with that as well. In other words, call me with any opinion on the matter and I’ll concur without even trying.

That said, I’m as aware as anyone of all the train wrecks created when people search for some sort of alchemy between poetry and music, whereas lyrics + music is so often a magic combination. So what goes awry when folks try to take the words of a great poet and turn that into music? Why does it so often come across as stiff, forced, unnatural, and self-consciously Artistic, plus—maybe this goes without saying—the music is seldom good. There are exceptions—Steve Swallows Home, with Sheila Jordan singing the words of Robert Creeley, for instance, is enchanting—and the singular Kip Hanrahan, who writes words and (unlike, say, Pete Brown or Pete Sinfield) helps guide them into music even though he rarely plays an instrument on his albums and also seldom sings, has made some great albums. Definitely there are times when I listen to Kip Hanrahan records when the world of poetry and the world of lyrics don’t seem too far apart.


So what does this have to do with Zimmy? Well, a lot, maybe, but expect a long, circuitous route before I try to piece anything together. I first want to address my history with Bob Dylan. Although he’s as front page as a rock star can be these days, when I was growing up in Des Moines, Iowa, you rarely heard him on Top 40 radio, and on underground radio—the only other place you could hear rock and roll—they didn’t play anyone more than anyone else, which is to say, the next band was as likely to be Ultimate Spinach as Dylan or the Stones or the Liverpool Four.

So he wasn’t “in the air” as much as much as you might have thought he was—I mean I’m sure he was if you were in a university or just a little older than I was, but sixth and seventh graders during this pre-Internet era had to work a bit just to hear the guy. You knew he was big and mythical and that he cast a spell on folks not many years before, but by 1970 the folk music of the early 60s seemed a bit ancient, as so many new things had come in so solid since then. The first opportunity I had to sit down and assess the value of Bob Dylan came when a friend bought Greatest Hits Volume 1 and the two of us gave it some serious listens. Although there was nothing on the album that I disliked, I wasn’t smitten. Not all, but some of the songs seemed to already exist in that Classic Rock museum where I’ve never felt very comfortable. Some Neil Young songs (“Heart of Gold” and “Old Man” in particular) hit me like that; actually, a lot of songs hit me like that. And it would have been tough for “Blowing in the Wind” to bowl me over, as anything you know in advance is Majorly Important can be a tough sell.

Oddly, the next Dylan I spent time with was the two-LP volume 2 of the “hits,” but even though that covered some less familiar territory and cast a wider stylistic net, not much of it rocked my world. Even now songs high in the Bob Dylan cannon—“Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright,” “It Ain’t Me, Babe, “When I Paint My Masterpiece”—while undeniably classic, were not, and still are not, my daily bread when it comes to Dylan. “Subterranean Homesick Blues” was more my style, as were “Highway 61 Revisited” and “Tombstone Blues” (and why, I ask, weren’t those last two on either of the first two greatest hits collections?), and that’s not because those songs had a bluesy feel. It had more to do with the words and the way he sang them.


Gradually I became more versed in Dylan, and bought some of his albums, and warmed to this and warmed not to that. But I still wasn’t in that deep—not until the day I brought Blonde on Blonde home from a record store. Even there, I didn’t flock right away to the more familiar songs from that album, like, say, “Just Like a Woman.” For those who by now consider me cra-cra, all I have to say is, I had to get to Dylan in my own way, and get there I did. “Visions of Johanna” I loved, and Side C became, and still is, my favorite Dylan side, although by now three or four or five sides have come to tie it. On Side C he’s all kinds of earthy visionary along with being a wordsmith so on top of his game that he gets positively loosey-goosey about it and still hits bullseyes—in fact, he’s at the top of his game:

     The judge he holds a grudge

     He’s going to call on you

     But he’s badly built and he walks on stilts

     You better watch out he don’t fall on you

And elsewhere:

     The six white horses that you did promise

     Were finally delivered down to the penitentiary

Clever, huh? Well, he ain’t done:

     To live outside the law you must be honest

     I know you always say that you agree

Those are zingers, just great, great lyrics, and Dylan’s delivery—suddenly I loved the guy. Still, though, I continued to approach him from less obvious places. I would grow to love every note of Blood on the Tracks, but when it came out I merely liked it…or what I heard of it, anyway. “Tangled Up in Blue” I didn’t hear until later, which is too bad because even dumb me plunged headfirst into that on a first listen, and it’s the kind of opening track that announces quite boldly that you gotta hear the whole damn album. Desire I connected with more quickly. I liked every song on it, liked the incantational vocals, the harmonies, the sound of the drums, the violin, everything. I liked the words and I liked how he delivered them. Sometimes he’d hard-stress consecutive syllables:

     We’re gonna put his ass in stir

     We’re gonna pin that triple murder on him

     He ain’t no Gentleman Jim

And sometimes he’d rush a few syllables before hammering home the rest of the line:

  • In Patterson that’s just the way things are
  • If you’re black you might as well not show up on the street
  • Unless you want to draw the heat

Although the words don’t fly out as fast, “Joey” shares some of Hurricane’s grittiness and what Allen Ginsberg describes, in his wonderful liner notes to the album, as “tough iron metal talk rhymes.”

That’s where I came in with Dylan, those songs, those albums, that style of lyric writing, that style of singing. Since then my appreciation of different facets of his music grew infinitely, but I need go no further than the lyrics I just quoted to address the connection between Dylan and poetry (remember that?). Those lyrics aren’t poetry. Those lyrics are lyrics. But there is so much poetry flowing through them, with whiffs of Rimbaud and the Beats (and old blues lyrics) running through the lines, and while this ain’t no influence, these lines from Robert Lowell seem not too many streets down from “Hurricane” and “Joey”:

     He tried to convert Bioff and Brown,

     the Hollywood pimps, to his diet.

     Hairy, muscular, suburban,

     wearing chocolate double-breasted suits,

     they blew their tops and beat him black and blue.

To come back to the Beat element in Dylan—you forget that he has in him; in fact, he absorbed it so deeply so early that it could spill out at any time, as it did on “Subterranean Homesick Blues” and “Hurricane” and even as late as “Tweedle Dee and Tweedledum”…and in lots of other places too. When I think of the energy the Beatniks brought to wordifying (Michael McClure and Ginsberg perhaps more than any, although Kerouac got there in prose), I feel that energy and even a Beat cadence in the way Dylan delivers some of his lyrics.

Jack Kerouac on the football field

It’s in his narrative, too. Listening to “Tangled Up in Blue,” it’s easy to imagine one of Sal Paradise’s buddies who was left out of the final draft of On the Road but had a story of his own that was somehow shared by all the everyones who wandered outside the social net during a time when it closed mighty tight. Beat energy and Beat rapid-fire flashcard word delivery and Beat tough iron metal talk—they were in him as much as Woody Guthrie was in him. So if lyrics and poetry are, in the final analysis, oil and water, I’ll still say that at times Bobby D is as close to Beat poetry as On the Road was to Beat poetry, and On the Road was Beat poetry. In early Tom Waits the connection to the Beat tradition is much more overt, but it also feels a step removed from the source. (It’s also great—that is not a criticism.) With Dylan, well, he might just as well have been hanging with Sal and Carlo and Dean. I bet he knew some friends of theirs.

As people discuss Dylan winning the Nobel Peace Prize, much will be made of the meaning of his lyrics and their historical importance and how he got America to question itself. Along with the meaning of his words, though, we should also credit him for how he used them. Words are amazing things—in fact, they can be downright exhilarating, with incredible energy. Dylan proved that a thousand times. So go ahead, throw any award you want at  him. He done this world some good.

University of Cincinnati Alumni Facebook Page

December Commencement


A total of 6,351 people graduated from the University of Cincinnati in the spring of 2016. That’s a lot of people, and when you consider that was just one year, you realize that you could fill a city with all the people who have graduated from UC.

Given those numbers, you would assume that a Facebook page existed for UC Alumni. We have a Facebook page for everything else, right? But when Cheryl Beardslee searched for one a couple years ago, she discovered it didn’t exist.

So she created one. This was in July 2014, and since then it’s been a valuable tool for UC alumni to connect with each other. I caught wind of this Facebook page indirectly, as Cheryl and I are FB friends, and one day she posted, on her personal FB page, an invitation for other people to join the group.

This is exactly the kind of thing Gaslight Property would support, as it’s pro-Cincinnati and pro-Clifton and pro-UC, so I asked Cheryl what inspired her to create the page.

“One goal is to help people make connections whether they’re able to find long lost college friends or find out that friends they have also went to UC,” she said. “I wanted to create a forum for people to support or even mentor fellow Bearcats.”

“I’m hoping it will give members a way to keep some connection to the place and time in their lives that was their UC experience. People post UC news, UC alumni, or sporting events and general Clifton events.”

On a personal level, Cheryl added, “I grew up as an Army brat. Being forced to leave behind every friend, classmate, school and neighborhood over and over again made me wish to strengthen the bonds between people that were forcibly torn from me as a child.”

This is a great idea, and the numbers will swell as people find out about this Facebook page. So sign up, UC alumni, and also tell your friends. The page seems especially timely with UC’s stature as a university continuing to grow, especially y in recent years, and its contribution to the city becoming more apparent. Here’s a link to the page:

Petey’s Pet Stop Celebrates Its One-Year Anniversary

Peteys Pet Stop

Gaslight Property has made no secret of its enthusiasm for Petey’s Pet Stop since it opened a year ago. Everything about Petey’s suggested a perfect fit from the start: it’s next door to the Howell Avenue Pet Hospital (talk about convenience!), it’s located in the same building as Gaslight Property, the managers of the store both love the strong neighborhood feel of Clifton, and the store offers such a wide range of services that it really does qualify as a “one-stop shop” for all pet lovers (of whom there is a multitude in Clifton + nearby). Petey’s has had a great first year, and it wants to celebrate its success with its 1st Year Anniversary Sale and Celebration today (Friday, September 2) and Saturday. The sale includes 10% off almost everything in the store (not on the cat and dog food, however, but all treats, toys, carriers, crates, collars and leashes, candles, art work, and hand made products), 25% off cat condos, $1.00 off the Self Wash Station, and $2.00 of nail clips. Hours for Petey’s Pet Stop are Tuesday–Friday 9 – 7, Saturday 9 – 5, and they’re closed Sunday and Monday.  Their phone number is 513.221.PETS. Petey’s will have the grill open from 12 – 5 both days and encourages everyone to come by for a hot dog and popcorn. If there’s one sour note to this event, it’s that Petey, the CEO of Petey’s (see below), would like the managers to change the wording of “hot dog” to something else. That’s just something they’ll have to work out between themselves, however!
Peteys Pet Stop CEO




Flamingo Haven Sale This Weekend

Flamingo Haven sign

Have you been to Flamingo Haven yet? It’s the new antique mall located at 4530 W. Mitchell Avenue in Spring Grove Village, so it’s also close to Clifton, Northside, St. Bernard, North Avondale, and other neighborhoods, plus it’s right off I-75. All weekend, from Friday thru Monday, there will be a minimum of 15% off everything in the store, though some conditions apply with a few of the dealers. For many people, it will be a good excuse to come check out the antique mall for the first time. Flamingo Haven is open seven days a week, Monday thru Saturday 10am to 5pm and Sunday 11am to 5pm. The phone number is (513) 541-1812. Flamingo Haven has new stuff coming in every day, and the mall owners regularly post photos of new arrivals on their Facebook page—so you’ll want to make sure to “like” Flamingo Haven’s Facebook page. Another new business in Spring Grove Village, Sally’s Treats & Treasures  has a booth there – and don’t forget that Sally’s is located just a few blocks away and is open every Saturday from noon to 6pm.  For people who live in this area, antique malls have always been in distant suburbs and in Northern Kentucky, and it’s nice to have this something like this in our neck of the woods. The owners looked at a dozen other places and knew, as soon as they found this spot, that it was perfect. Come check it out!

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The official Flamingo Haven Antique Mall feline, Winston, is still not for sale, and besides, when they do decide to sell her, other customers should understand that I'll be first in line, because I'm obviously her favorite customer, as you can tell by this picture.

The official Flamingo Haven Antique Mall feline, Winton, is still not for sale, and besides, when they do decide to sell her, other customers should understand that I’ll be first in line, because I’m obviously her favorite customer, as you can tell by this picture.

A Craft Sale at Clifton Plaza Monday

ceresav craft saleFrom 5:30pm to 8:30pm on Monday, August 15 a craft sale will take place at Clifton Plaza. Because that’s on a Monday, the people hosting the event will be in the company of our farmers market friends Niemeyer Farm as well as the flea market vendors who’ve been showing up on a regular basis all spring and summer. The craft sale is a fundraiser for CERESAV, a non-profit group established in 2012. CERESAV is focused on educating the general public on how they can be part of the campaign to end to acid violence around the world, and, through legislation and the raising of awareness, it has already made a real difference. All of the crafts sold during this event were made by acid attack survivors. CERESAV is hosting other events as well during the week, including a lecture by Hanifa Nakiryowa, who founded CERESAV after being attacked with acid by her ex-husband. The attack left her with significant facial scarring and loss of vision in one eye.  During her recovery in the burns unit in Uganda’s Mulago Hospital, Hanifa met many other women and men who had been disfigured by acid. Moved by their stories, Hanifa felt compelled to bring light to the problem of acid violence and bring hope to survivors suffering in silence. That lecture and discussion will take place Tuesday, August 16, 2016 from 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM (EDT) at First Unitarian Church of Cincinnati, 536 Linton Street, Cincinnati, OH 45219. Here’s a link to more information about that event: empowering-women-meet-hanifa-nakiryowa-tickets. Hanifa will also be at the craft sale on Monday, so make sure you drop by then to buy some crafts, flea market, and fresh fruit & veggies, and learn more about CERESAV.


Big Fun (or “How I Evaded Security at Drake Stadium and Made Some Cool Friends”)

Whatever works, right?

Dick Fosbury defying gravity.

Watching the Olympics opening ceremony Friday night sparked memories for me of growing up in Des Moines. For track and field enthusiasts the Summer Olympics is the A#1 event for such activities. I was obsessed by all things sports-connected anyway, but having the Drake Relays in Des Moines (and the 48th Annual NCAA Track & Field Tournament, which I went to with Chris Kaul, son of Donald Kaul, who wrote the Over the Coffee column for The Des Moines Register) plunged me in deeper. Heck, I even paid attention to shot putters and javelin and discus throwers, knew their stats and everything (to me they were cool because they seemed so ancient Greece), and as for everyone else, including the runners and the long jumpers and high jumpers, they were like rock stars.

Watching the Drake Relays (and the NCAA Tournament) wasn’t a matter of just sitting down and seeing other people get all athletic. In fact, I always got plenty of exercise every time I attended. After waiting for the exact moment when security looked the other way, I’d make a quick dash for the infield, where I’d wander from athlete to athlete asking for autographs (and just chatting it up with them). I always got kicked out of the infield, but I always came sneaking back. Although I got plenty of signatures when I sat in the stands, there were those athletes who never seemed to circle the track like everyone else. One of those was Jim Ryun, a Kansas runner who along with holding the world record in the mile was exciting to watch, seeming way too far back to challenge until that amazing kick that occurred during the last lap. I ran right up to him and asked for his autograph—and he told me to find him later. He seemed very inside himself and intense, like the qualifying race he would run later that day was running through his head. I never did get an autograph from him (my brother did, though, the year before), but I did meet Dick Fosbury, and he signed my autograph book. In fact, he signed two years in a row, and if memory serves the second year he looked a lot different, with long, wavy hair.

Jack Bacheler…is my guess.

The better-known athletes I asked to sign my autograph book more than once, and no one seemed troubled by that request. I got repeats of Mel Gray and Jack Bacheler and Frank Shorter and Marvin and Curtis Mills as well as Rick Wanamaker, a Drake athlete who placed second in the high jump one year (behind Dick Fosbury), won some decathlon awards, and, like the rest of his teammates, fought hard when, during the NCAA Basketball Tournament quarter finals, Drake lost 85–82 to UCLA, who went on to smoke Purdue. Drake fans will always remember when Wanamaker blocked a shot by Lew Alcindor. I watched that in the basement of our house on 45th Street, and the message that block sent to our team and their team and the fans was, “We’re in this for real.” We almost won it.

I would talk endlessly with the athletes, and I think they enjoyed the company of such a huge fan who rattled off an endless list of stats. (The Big Peach contributed much to my early education.) Once I asked the two-mile relay team for Oregon if I could have their baton. Their counter-offer, which I considered a worthy compromise, was to have me sign the baton, which was pretty cool because they were going to use that baton for the final round of the relay. Well, they came in first, and since then I have always taken partial credit for that victory.

Frank Shorter?

Of all the years that I went to the track and field tournaments—I started in fourth grade, and our family moved to Storm Lake at the start of eighth—the peak experience had to be meeting Curtis and Marvin Mills, runners #3 and 4 for the Texas A&M 880-yard relay team. Texas A&M was on a tear at that time, and the general consensus was that some sort of major record might be broken that weekend. When it came time for the 880, I sat right where Marvin Mills was going to hand the baton to Curtis Mills. They broke the world record that day, and the next day there was a photo in the Des Moines Register where Marvin handed the baton to Curtis while I was standing behind them with my mouth wide open.

Curtis Mills after the Texas A&M 880-relay team broke the world record. That’s me down at the bottom, with my autograph book; I only asked him to sign it four or five times.

Watching Texas A&M break a world record, seeing the ancient Greeks toss their javelins, signing a baton…those are good memories. And so was seeing Dick Fosbury do the high jump. You really had to pay attention to what was going on to know when a high jumper was getting ready to take his turn, especially when you had someone like Dick Fosbury, who skipped several rounds before approaching the bar. But it was worth all figuring out when Fosbury would go in the air. Nobody jumped like he did. At that time one else turned around completely and somehow got his head then neck then back then legs then knees over that bar by a fraction of a fraction of an inch like he did (and once his knees were over all he had to was straighten his legs). By sixth grade I loved slapstick comedy, and what he did reminded me of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin; it didn’t seem like he should be able to go that high, somehow defying gravity momentarily like pole vaulters did or like Bob Beamon did in Mexico—and like his teammate, Fosbury he won gold there.

I liked the Fosbury Flop so much that I decided to see if I could master it. There was a carpet store down by Place’s where someone told me you could get carpet and (more importantly) foam rubber in the dumpster. How many times I drove my red Huffy stingray down to that dumpster I can’t say, but eventually I got enough to create a mat where somehow all that foam rubber got squeezed into a (well, there I’m drawing a blank). After that, all I had to do was balance a bamboo pole that under normal circumstances was part of the fishing world and start jumping. I tried my best, but I never came anywhere close to defying gravity. I had to try, though.

Mel Gray, I believe.

I lost all my autographs, and I had hundreds. I even had Bob Beamon’s autograph, not because we met but because I got to know one of his teammates, who ended up mailing me Beamon’s autograph. Bob Beamon was the long jumper who, after getting off to a bad start, made a jump at the 1968 Olympics that was positively epic. His autograph was a small scrap of paper torn off a larger sheet—perfect. But I lost it and all the other autographs and the photo of me watching Marvin Mills pass the baton to his brother Curtis. While it would be nice to have that memorabilia, the most important thing about my autograph hunting was that it gave me an excuse to talk to so many athletes, some famous record holders and some (many, actually) not. It was all Big Fun.

Flamingo Haven is a New Antique Mall in a Great Location

Laura Flamingo Haven 5  Good One use at topA new antique mall opened recently in a great location. Near the corner of Mitchell and Spring Grove Avenue, Flamingo Haven is really close to Clifton, Northside, Spring Grove Village, and other neighborhoods, plus it’s right off I-75. The address is 4530 W. Mitchell Avenue. If you’re coming from Northside on Spring Grove Avenue, take a left at W. Mitchell, and after a third of a mile you’ll see the building on the right. Pay attention, though, because the building is set back from the street; there are parking lots on both sides of the building. Flamingo Haven is open seven days a week, Monday thru Saturday 10am to 5pm and Sunday 11am to 5pm. The phone number is (513) 541-1812. Although it’s only been open a few weeks, the space has filled up nicely with antiques and collectibles. I saw some very tasteful and elegant antiques as well as some pop (and cocktail) culture wares while there, and I was happy to learn that Laura from Sally’s Treats & Treasures  has a booth there (and don’t forget that Sally’s is located just a few blocks away). Flamingo Haven has new stuff coming in every day, AND the mall owners regularly post photos of new arrivals on their Facebook page—so you’ll want to make sure to “like” the Flamingo Haven Facebook page.

Flamingo Haven use this one too it is horizontal

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AntiqueLand 1

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We don't have a price yet on Fluffy, but I'm pretty sure that if you're nice to her owner you can get a pretty good deal.

We don’t have a price yet on Winton, but if you’re nice to his owner you could probably get a pretty good deal.


Guns N’ Roses Rock the Jungle

guns roses 10 this is good

When a band you’ve loved for decades finally reunites and tours and is, as the Monkees put it, “coming to your town,” there’s always that fear that they won’t deliver the goods. If thoughts like those were running through the heads of any Guns N’ Roses fans last night, they were soon quashed. This was one of the concerts where everything gelled, including the weather (no rain, plus there was a light breeze blowing in from the river).

guns roses 11 this is good

The show had a special, one-of-a-kind feeling that hit home early in the set when Axl Rose said, “It’s good to here…in the jungle!” As soon as the band burst into “Welcome to the Jungle,” we were convinced that that song was written specifically for us, being as we were in Paul Brown Stadium, home of the Jungle. Much of the first half of the show drew from Appetite for Destruction—“It’s So Easy,” “Rocket Queen,” “Mr. Brownstone” and the aforementioned “Welcome to the Jungle”—plus newer material like the title track to Chinese Democracy. During a well-paced set, songs high on adrenaline were peppered with ballads like “This I Love” and lengthy instrumental workouts where Slash got to stretch out.

guns roses 12 this is good

The one-of-a-kind feeling really hit home when the original Guns N’ Roses drummer, Steven Adler, was introduced and performed two songs from Appetite for Destruction, “Out to Get Me” and “My Michelle.” That album was released in 1987, and rock stars don’t always age well, but Adler looked fresh and youthful with his long golden locks, and he smiled the whole time he was up there. So did the rest of the band. There was joy in the air, and the people in the crowd felt very lucky to be there that night.

guns roses 4 this is good

It didn’t hurt that the sound was great. The balance was perfect, and you could hear everything—even the piano, which mattered for reasons that went beyond notes and chords. When the band dipped into the piano coda at the end of Eric Clapton’s “Layla,” you knew full well they could have hired someone more technically accomplished than Axl Rose to tickle the ivories. But it was nice seeing, at a “spectacle” concert featuring a huge light show and fireworks, Axl, Slash, and Duff McKagan gathered around a piano like they were in a parlor, just some old friends enjoying playing music together.

guns roses 6

Other highlights included “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” “November Rain,” and “Paradise City.” My favorite song of the night was the second of three encores, a cover of the Who’s “The Seeker.” That’s not the most well-known Who tune, but it’s a damn good one, and the band blazed through it with a vengeance. Whatever a Guns N’ Roses fan could have wanted from that concert they got it spades, as the barrage of ecstatic next-day social media posts I saw the next day made clear. To put it simply, Guns N’ Roses rocked the Jungle.

guns roses

MAYA is a New Store in the Heart of Clifton

maya first picture

Clifton just got more colorful and stylish. MAYA opened recently at 323 Ludlow Avenue, and already it feels like a good fit for the neighborhood, with a tasteful, eye-catching window display and a splendid collection of jewelry and crafts inside. The owner of the store, Victor Morales, has been in the business for more than 15 years, but the lineage of Maya goes back farther, all the way to his grandfather, a native Mayan from Guatemala, hence the name MAYA. Recently when I stopped in and chatted with Victor I asked him what was unique and special about MAYA, and he summed it up this way:

  • Their jewelry is handmade and authentic, in other words their designs are original and made by the real creators and artists they represent.
  • The people making the jewelry and crafts are Native American Artists, Mexican Silversmiths, and Mayan Artisans. “I have been working with the same artists for over 15 years,” Victor said. “MAYA is the result of a long journey and great relationships.”
  • Their jewelry and crafts collection vary from traditional styles to more contemporary and very stylish pieces.
  • Value: “Unique and beautiful handmade jewelry at affordable prices.”
  • Promotional discounts: “We plan to have promotional discounts at our gallery on a monthly basis, coupons will be emailed to customers who sign our guest list, and other discounts will be offered to clients who use our website.”
  • MAYA’s clients can bring their jewelry for cleaning two times within 12 months from the purchase date.

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I should add that, while I was in the store, people were wandering in off the street, and the comfortable atmosphere of MAYA combined with Victor’s easy-going personality gave the store a good vibe that put customers immediately at ease. Victor’s very personable and loves the neighborhood. In order to reach out to the Clifton community, Victor is hosting a reception on Saturday, July 23 from 6pm to 9pm. That evening he’ll have special offers, and serve appetizers, wine, and sangria. Readers can mention this blog and get one jewelry item for half price before July 16th, or at by August 30 (coupon name: Gaslight50). Come visit MAYA, and also make sure you “like” their Facebook page, which is Https://

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And make sure to check out MAYA’s website, which is:

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Hours for the store are Tuesday to Thursday 11am–6pm, plus Friday & Saturday 11pm–8pm; they’re closed Sunday & Monday.

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Gaslight Property A Star Sponsor of the 2016 Northside Rock ‘N’ Roll Carnival

Northside Rock N Roll Carnival 2016Gaslight Property is proud to be a Star Sponsor of the 2016 Northside Rock ’N’ Roll Carnival, an event that starts today (Friday, July 1) and lasts through July 4. Free for all ages, the carnival includes sword swallowers, jugglers, magicians, a bed of nails, and dozens of bands, all at Hoffner Park. The music starts at 6pm tonight and continue until late in the evening on July 4. For more information on the event, here’s a link to its Facebook page. Long a sponsor of the carnival, Gaslight Property salutes the wackiness and craziness of this event, the legendary Northside parade, and Northside in general—and we’d like to remind folks that our own Spyglass Apartments are located in Northside, on a top of a private hill, within a mile of Northside’s Hamilton Avenue business district. Here’s a video of the Spyglass Apartments, call our office at 513.861.6000 if you’d like to learn more about these apartments or any others that we have all over Greater Cincinnati.

R.I.P. Patrick David

Patrick DavidClifton’s heart was broken this week when Patrick David, a long-term Gaslight Property employee, passed away unexpectedly. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his widow and son. His niece, Melinda Watson, spoke for everyone who knew Patrick when she said, “He was happiest when he was helping other people. I can’t even emphasize how happy he was to do it; he dropped everything to help other people.

“He was an on-the-go person,” Melinda added, “and he didn’t stop until the job was done.

“Not only was he a hard worker and generous, he had a silly sense of humor. Patrick has a lasting effect on everybody he came in contact with.

“I don’t have a single bad memory of him.”

Patrick left behind a widow and a 16-year-old son, and his widow is ill and unable to work. Funeral arrangements have already been made, but help is needed to pay for everything.

“We want to give him a proper burial because he helped everybody along the way,” Melinda said. “We’re trying to reach out to as many people as we can.”

To this end, a GoFundMe account was created. In order to help, click THIS LINK. People have been contributing different amounts, but more money is needed. Any contribution will be appreciated for this kind and thoughtful man who died much too young. We’ll get there!

Live Footage of John Bender at the No Response Festival

100_7048John Bender performed for the first time in 30 years last night, at the No Response Festival at Woodward Theatre. He made it clear in advance that his performance set to launch the two-day festival would begin promptly at 8pm, and as the people waiting in a line that wrapped around the block saw the line move slowly while Father Time forged bravely ahead, they wondered: hey, am I going to miss the show? And, well, some of us, many of us, missed the first few minutes of the show, but Bender played a nice long set, and somehow it made sense that the legend in the house would launch the show, to help set the tone and get this celebration of experimental electronic music off to a good start. While we were waiting in line Tim Schwallie shared a tale about seeing what was probably the last John Bender show of the previous millennium, when Bender opened for Nico; apparently he was facing certain equipment issues that evening. And after talking to Bender after the show, Vivian Vinyl said there were issues that evening as well. I myself faced certain technological issues when I tried to transer the videos I shot last night to the hard drive of my computer: the first, and longest, evaded transfer, although I’ll come back to that and see if I can make that work. Anyway, the thing about technology is, it’s never as compliant as we’d like it to be, but great things can still happen when we put our minds together.

Free Movie Night at Clifton Plaza Saturday!

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This Saturday Tootsie, the 1982 movie starring Dustin Hoffman, will be playing for free at the Clifton Plaza. A huge hit in the theaters, Tootsie was nominated for ten Academy Awards, and it remains one of Dustin Hoffman’s major roles…and the only one in which he pretended to be a woman. Tootsie will be showing from 8:45pm to 10:30pm. The weather’s going to beautiful this weekend, and the movies always draw a good crowd at Clifton Plaza. In fact, the plaza will already have seen plenty of activity by the time the movie starts, as the Night Owls, a popular blues, soul, and classic band, will be performing there from 6pm to 8:30pm. Also, June 18 is World Wide Knit-in-Public Day, an event that has been taking place around the world since 2005, and everyone who likes knitting or crocheting is invited to do so communally from 11am to 2pm at Clifton Plaza Saturday. To help prepare you for the movie, here’s a trailer for Tootsie; see you there!

Yappy Hour Starts Next Monday!

Yappy HourMondays have been hopping lately with the flea market (soon to be joined by a farmer’s market) populating Clifton Plaza as soon as the weather warmed up a little. And there’s going to be more activity as dog lovers celebrate Yappy Hour from 5pm to 7pm every Monday. So take note: the very first Yappy Hour will take place next Monday, June 6. Basically it’s a social event for dogs – and humans too! All you have to is bring your dog; you can socialize, and so can Spot, who if you haven’t notice has been feeling a bit restless lately, what with all the cold weather keeping him/her indoors. And her’s a nice touch: you can buy and drink red and white wines and Rhinegeist Beer on the plaza. The event is co-sponsored by Petey’s Pet Stop, whose customers are very excited about this opportunity for their canines to congregate. All dogs need to be on a leash, and because this takes place outdoors, yappy hour will only occur on days when the weather is pleasant. Cliftonite (and dog lover), Kathy Parsanko explained why she is looking forward to the event. “Cliftonites love dogs,” she said, “and we also love any chance to get together. Clifton is all about community. So, why not get together with our dogs? Will be fun!”

Spot and Grover looking forward to the Yappy Hour

Lola and Rufus, who you may recognize as daily Clifton walkers, can’t wait for Yappy Hour!

The Healthy Harvest Mobile Market Visits Clifton Every Tuesday

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Were you aware that there’s a new place in Clifton to buy produce, and at discounted prices? That’s right! TriHealth and the Freestore Foodbank worked together to create the Healthy Harvest Mobile Market, a truck of fruits and vegetables are located at Good Samaritan Hospital (near the Dixmyth entrance) from 11AM to 4PM every Tuesday. They sell fruit and vegetables at discounted prices. The Healthy Harvest Mobile Market accepts food stamps, snap, produce perks, FMNP, cash, and credit cards. Anyone using food stamps to pay for the produce will qualify for five free dollars in food at their next purchase. Note, though, that ANYONE can buy produce there.

To clarify exactly where the Healthy Harvest Mobile Market is located, I snapped a couple photos. If you’re standing at the corner of Clifton and Dixmyth, you can see the stand from there, and if you’re driving, it’s the first parking lot on the left. For many of the people reading this, the produce stand is within walking distance, so it’s cheap AND convenient. If you’re wondering what produce is available, the list has included cabbage, kale, chard, chives, cilantro, romaine lettuce, spinach, turnips, apples, grapes, bananas, asparagus, potatoes, and blueberries.

When I visited last week, Nick Reynolds, a mobile market coordinator for the Freestore Foodbank, was working there. He’s very happy with the response he has received thus far, and he encourages everyone to come pay him a visit. This win-win is fabulous news, and we welcome Healthy Harvest Mobile Market to Clifton. Healthy food, a convenient location, good prices—a few more reasons Clifton is a great neighborhood!

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Gaslight Property Wins Uptown Business Award

Uptown Consortium Award photoThe last two weeks have been great ones for Gaslight Property. Last week marked the 25th Anniversary of the company, and this week, at Cincinnati Uptown Consortium’s Fifth Annual Business Awards, Gaslight Property won the Award of Excellence for Large Business. In the photo on the left, that’s Dave Taylor, CEO of Gaslight Property, flanked by University of Cincinnati President Santa Ono, Ph.D. and Beth Robinson, CEO and president of Uptown Consortium. You don’t win an award like that just for being a business; you win it for making a commitment to the community and making positive changes. Gaslight Property is a family-owned business with deep roots in the Clifton community, and they have a brick-and-mortar office in the heart of the Gaslight District, at 311 Howell Avenue. Also, Gaslight Property helped facilitate the Clifton Natural Foods move to Ludlow Avenue and the opening of Petey’s Pet Stop, Gaslight Gourmet Cookies, and others. And best of all, Gaslight Property has brought new construction to the Gaslight District, with The Whitfield, which offers “modern, luxury apartment living.” Apartments have already rented, but there are still some units available. To find out more about these or any other Gaslight Property apartments, call 513.861.6000.

Ricky Skaggs Performing at Ludlow Garage This Saturday

Ricky SkaggsRicky Skaggs has headlined music festivals and sold millions of records. This Saturday, May 14, the country and bluegrass musician will be performing to about 160 people at the Ludlow Garage. The person who Chet Atkins credited with single-handedly saving country music and who, after he returned to his bluegrass roots, helped spark a revival that is still flowering today, seldom plays such small venues. Musicians enjoy these small shows as much as the audience does, as it’s a rare opportunity to get up close and personal. There are two shows on Saturday—one at 7:15, the other at 10:15—for Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder with special guests Hoot & Holler. If you haven’t been to Live at the Ludlow Garage yet, this would be a great excuse to check it out, and if you have been to the Garage, you know that you can count on good sound, an intimate concert experience, and food and drinks before or after the show. Throw some smoking bluegrass into the mix and you have what should be a great evening! Here’s Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder performing “Get Up John”:



The Friday Special at La Mandi


La Mandi put this picture at the topIn August of last year La Mandi, an authentic New York style deli, opened at 3205 Jefferson Avenue in Clifton. La Mandi was an instant success with modestly-priced deli sandwiches, salads, breakfast items (including omelets), etc. Recently La Mandi broadened its horizons with new dishes and a Friday special. New items available on a daily basis are the chicken shawarma gyro, the lamb shawarma gyro, and “the mix” (a combination of lamb and chicken shwarma) gyro, all available for $6.99. Also new, the Friday Special consists of the following:

2 portions of chicken w/rice: $8.99

2 portions of lamb w/rice: $12.99

1 portion of chicken + 1 portion of lamb w/rice: $10.99.

After picking up the Friday Special today, I walked over to the Clifton Library, which recently moved a few blocks, to Jefferson Avenue. The food was delish and succulent. The Friday Special is available every Friday from 12:30pm to 8:00pm. If the special is successful enough, La Mandi will start running it other days as well. Hours are 8am to 8pm Monday through Saturday; the phone number is 513.559.0000, and you can call for carryout, delivery, or catering. It’s great to see this new business having such success while adding fresh new reasons to pay them a visit—yet another reason Clifton is a great place to live!

The owner of La Mandi, Mohammed Nahshal.

The owner of La Mandi, Mohammed Nahshal.

The Friday Special w/Lamb, Chicken, and Rice

The Friday Special w/Lamb, Chicken, and Rice

Rummage Sale for a Good Cause This Sunday at Clifton Plaza

CERESAVThis Sunday, May 1, from 1pm–5pm a rummage sale will take place at Clifton Plaza. The event is a fundraiser for CERESAV, a non-governmental organization created in order to fight acid violence, a sadly all-too-common occurrence in the world today. All proceeds from the sale will go to helping acid burn survivors. One of the great things about CERESAV is that since it was founded in 2012 it has had a real impact, so while acid violence is a horrible thing, definite steps have been taken to help survivors and, through the raising of awareness and legislation, decrease the likelihood of such attacks. More information about CERESAV is available on its website, on its facebook page, If you’re interested in donating items to the sale, CERESAV encourages you to email by Friday. Having attended their rummage sale last year, I can say that A LOT of people donate to this sale, and there was a huge, wide variety of stuff—I bought everything from a flat-screen computer monitor to some skinny 1950s ties. In other words, you don’t know what you’ll find there, plus it’s a chance for the neighborhood to show some support for a really good cause. See you on Sunday!

Happy Hour at the Ludlow Garage

Happy Hour Ludlow GarageLive at the Ludlow Garage is now running full steam, with concerts every week from national performers in an intimate setting. As the crowds last night (see below) made clear, the Ludlow Garage is also a great place to eat a modestly-priced meal, have a drink, and experience the ambiance of the street in a unique way now that, with the warm weather, the doors have opened. Regarding the drinking part…well, Ludlow Garage recently revealed the details of its happy hour. From 4 to 6pm it offers:

  • Tuesdays through Fridays – 1/2 off on appetizers
  • Tuesdays – $2 off any draft beer
  • Wednesdays – $2 off glasses of selected red & white wines
  • Thursdays – $5 martinis
  • Fridays –  $2 off house cocktails

Invariably beer lovers will wonder what kind of beer Ludlow Garage on tap, and for that reason I took a photo last night. Note, on the right, that Stella Artois is now part of their arsenal, along with Guiness way on the left and various craft beers in between.

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And don’t overlook the cocktail specials on Thursdays and Fridays. Although I’ve sipped a couple cocktails at the Ludlow Garage, this warrants some in-depth investigative journalism; I’ll take careful notes in case I forget something.

Miles Ahead Comes to The Esquire

Miles Davis Miles Ahead imageThe Miles Davis biopic Miles Ahead opens at the Esquire Theatre on Friday, April 15. Cincinnati should feel privileged and proud that it’s the backdrop for the film, in large part because it built—and preserved, more than most cities–the classic architecture that has film makers lining up to shoot movies here. And the story should be as colorful as the threads that Miles sports as he hops around in a sports car trying to recover a purloined reel of tape, gun ready, dark shades covering his eyes. I don’t know that a movie could have picked a better period in the life of Miles Davis to examine. It was the one time he disappeared. No records, no concerts, and a whole lot of silence. Miles had entered that limbo where Chet Baker, Sonny Rollins, Bud Powell, Art Pepper, and other great jazz musicians once resided, with drugs, drinking, artistic burnout, jail time, and asylum visits sometimes playing a role in such matters. What weighed down Miles was a combination of drugs, health problems that weren’t lifestyle related, and the fact that the music he was playing wasn’t connecting with an audiences because it was too far ahead of its time; now all people can do is rave about albums like Agharta and Dark Magus. So he disappeared. Away from the stage and the studio, a jazz musician who had been so busy reinventing himself and his music that reflecting on the past was not on his list of options looked back. Those flashbacks in the film seem like they’ll be more than a device, then: for once, during that period between 1975 and 1979, Miles could take stock of his life to date – and get that damn tape back.

April Aloisio CD Release Party at Lydia’s on Ludlow This Friday

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April Aloisio is hosting a CD release party at Lydia’s on Ludlow this Friday, April 8. Along with singing jazz and Brazilian music, April is a yoga instructor, and on her new record, Yoga Bossa Nova, those two worlds are united. Accompanying her on the record is Fareed Haque, one of the most colorful and creative guitarists in both the jazz and jam band worlds. The album has a layered and expansive sound that may make you want to close your eyes and sink into the soundscape—or practice yoga while listening to it. The event, which takes place from 8pm to 10pm, is free, but take along a little extra cash to pick up a copy of Yoga Bossa Nova. (And if you can’t make the gig, you can still buy a copy of the record at this link on Here’s a cut from the album, a sensual and dreamy version of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Dindi.”

Free Tax Service Available in Northside

CAIN for blog entry on taxes 2016

On the off-chance (wink wink) that there’s anyone reading this blog entry who hasn’t done their taxes yet, I have good news: CAIN (which stands for Churches Active In Northside) is providing free walk-in service to help people file their taxes.

Again, it’s FREE.

CAIN is located at 4230 Hamilton Avenue, and Ohio Benefit Bank tax counselors are there Monday evenings from 6-7pm, and Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am–1pm. All sessions are first come, first served.

Those interested in using this service will need to bring their W-2s or other tax forms, an ID and social security card, and the information they will need to have their refund direct deposited. It is also ideal to bring the previous year’s taxes, if possible.

CAIN wants you to KEEP YOUR WHOLE REFUND and take advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit. Some childless individuals making under $14,000, or families making under $53,000, can qualify to get supplemental income in the form of a “tax credit.” One in five families who are eligible for the EITC fail to claim it, and as a result they miss out on potentially thousands of dollars.

Also, people earning under $65,000 per year as an individual or $95,000 as a couple are eligible to e-file their taxes for free through the Ohio Benefit Bank easy to use guided system. Use CAIN’s link to the Ohio Benefit Bank’s self-serve system or go to and click on E-FILE box on home page.

If you have any questions, just stop by CAIN during the above hours, or call CAIN 513-591-2246 or email Monica at

Gaslight Gourmet Cookies Is Open!

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Gaslight Gourmet Cookies, located at 272 Ludlow, officially opened this week. They couldn’t have timed it better, what with the nice weather and lots of new things happening in the Gaslight District, including Live at Ludlow Garage. There were plenty of customers when I visited in the middle of the afternoon today, and I smelled success for this new venture. Hours are 6am to 6pm Monday through Saturday, and the store has a Facebook page – just click this link to check it out and “like” it. Also, they have a walk-up window – how old school charming is that? My cookie of choice today was an oatmeal raisin, which is a very important cookie back where I come from. My father has a soft spot for that particular confection, and you can bet that he’s been feted by daughters and daughter-in-laws who all have their own secret recipe going back hundreds of years. So which is his all-time favorite? “I haven’t tasted it yet,” has been his mantra. Well, having sampled the oatmeal raisin cookie from our new store this afternoon, it seems to me that after my father visits Cincinnati next time, he’ll be able to put that mystery to bed for good….Yummy.

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Photos of the Miles Ahead Premier at the Esquire Theatre

Big doings on Ludlow Avenue last night, what with the premier of Miles Ahead, Don Cheadle’s tribute to Miles Davis that is based on a period when his career (and his life in general) were kind of in limbo. Folks were dressed in their finest, as only befits a film devoted to a musician who, no matter what decade you’re talking about, was known for his stylish threads. I haven’t seen the film yet, but when it opens on April 15th at the Esquire, I’ll forsurely check it out then, as I’ve got good feelings about this one. Shot in Cincinnati, it promises to be both a visual and musical delight.

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Only Yesterday at The Esquire

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The other day I arrived at the Esquire Theatre before the trailers had started for Only Yesterday, a Japanese animated film directed by Isao Takahata. At that point there were only two people in the room, and the person two rows in front of me asked if the movie was overdubbed or used subtitles. “You got me,” I said. “If there’s an animated movie on the big screen, that’s all I need to know.” He told that the movie was done with hand-drawn animation, which sounded even better. Only Yesterday has a simple and realistic plot wherein a vacation the main character, Taeko, launches a flood of memories…as well as some major life decisions. Visually a lovely film, Only Yesterday charms with its indoor school and family scenes and awes with its depictions of the woods and fields and the sky—this is definitely one for the big screen. Just as important, the story rings true. It’s fascinating how the tale unfolds piece by piece, leading we’re not sure where…but hang in there, because the ending is both subtle and powerful. I was glad to learn that the Esquire held this for another week, but it won’t be there forever—get there before it’s gone.

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Steve Katz Plays the Ludlow Garage on April 9

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The next time you’re playing the music edition of Trivial Pursuit, prepare yourself for this question: What member of Blood, Sweat & Tears collaborated with musicians from the Velvet Underground?

The answer is Steve Katz, who will be performing at Live at the Ludlow Garage on Saturday, April 9. If you sift through his discography you’ll find a sweet spot where it seemed like all he could do was contribute to classic albums.

After leaving the Blues Project, Katz was the guitarist (and sometimes vocalist and songwriter) for the early jazz-rock band Blood, Sweat & Tears. Their first album, Child is Father to the Man, impressed the critics while their eponymous second album was a commercial success and then some.

About the time BS&T was losing steam Katz collaborated with Lou Reed, producing Reed’s great live album Rock ’N’ Roll Animal and the studio follow-up Sally Can’t Dance. Suddenly Lou Reed was a commercial success instead of a genius who deserved a larger audience.

In the 70s Katz also formed the band American Flyer with Doug Yule from a later incarnation of the Velvet Underground.

More evidence that Katz had a habit of being in the right place at the right time: he also performed at the two most famous music festivals from the 1960s, Monterey Pop (as part of the Blues Project) and Woodstock (with BS&T).

On April 9 Katz will be performing in a venue that’s much more intimate but that also has a rich history, the Ludlow Garage. It’s a good bet that you know some of the songs Katz has either played on or produced, and if you’re familiar with the second album by Blood, Sweat & Tears—the really famous one, that sold millions of copies and won three Grammy Awards—then you’ve heard this song that Katz wrote and sang, complete with a haunting melody, melancholy lyrics, and luscious harmonies:

What Would A Bookstore Bring?

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Recently on nextdoorclifton someone posed the question, “What store is missing?” in reference to Ludlow Avenue’s business district. Possibly over a hundred people have responded by now, and while the answers have been all over the place, there were some repeats. I was pleased—and quite surprised—to see how many people exclaim that they would love to see a bookstore return to the Gaslight District.

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In a way it seems funny that folks would long for something that in the spiritus mundi tends to be looked upon as antiquated and old-school. As our reading, like everything else, becomes increasingly electronic and digital, the physical book cast set aside for convenience, don’t bookstores have about as much of a place in our world as a zoetrope?

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Well, not so soon (and besides, I’d love to own a zoetrope). You may have noticed that record stores (and especially the independent ones) are suddenly all kinds of popular, after that three or four minutes when everyone was convinced that our musical future would totally revolve around our computers. Recently, and tellingly, I’ve seen ads promoting books as “the new vinyl,” which makes sense. And just as veteran Cliftonites remember what it’s like to have a bookstore in the neighborhood, younger folks brought up on walmart are acutely sensitive to the difference between zero personality and color.

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Having a bookstore (actually there were two at one point) added a lot to the Gaslight District. On someone mentioned—but couldn’t remember the name of—Kellerman’s, a store on Ormond that lasted, I don’t know, maybe a year or two. The owner of that store envisioned, but couldn’t quite pull off, a store like Kaldi’s (which, a few years later, pulled all the pieces together and became an enormous success). New World lasted decades, and the people in the neighborhood never took it for granted. Unfortunately, though, big box stores had a ravitational pull over the masses, and amazon could undersell anybody by a huge margin. Since New World folded ebooks entered the equation, providing even more competition to small bookstores, which folded all over America (it wasn’t just Ludlow Avenue).Bookstore on Ludlow Avenue 010            Well, the big boxes are almost all gone, ebooks sales tapered off long before people expected them to, and amazon has built an actual brick and mortar store because it has learned something those of us with any sense have known all along: bookstores are the ultimate platform for marketing books. Not only do you find out that a new book has hit the shelves (I still remember when Thomas Pynchon’s Mason & Dixon appeared in New World’s window after everyone thought the famous postmodern novelist had pursued a permanent disappearing act), plus the atmosphere of books gets under your skin. A bookstore on Ludlow Avenue would never be able to offer big fancy amazon-level discounts, but people are waking up to the fact that where you buy something can be as important as what you buy. It can erode a neighborhood, or it can help support a neighborhood.

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If a bookstore were to return to the Gaslight District, it would have to do everything right. It should probably do the following:

  •           Include used books. This close to a university, people are constantly purging and collecting.
  •           Have a local authors section—and not just the new ones. How about books by Dallas Wiebe or (to go back a couple more years) Lafcadio Hearn?
  •           Include new novels. Those were popular at New World, and, here’s a case where bookstores + distributors had their system down.
  •           Sell gift cards. New World sold a lot of gift cards; they added up after a while.
  •           Sell records and compact discs as well. Records and compact discs could be both new and used. The new and already highly successful Plaid Room Records in Loveland handles a lot of pre-orders for vinyl, which is an ideal business model.

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I worked part-time at both Kellerman’s and New World, and I still remember what bookstores brought to the neighborhood. Kellerman’s had lots of fun literary readings that brought together people in the literary community. I well remember how, on Friday nights at New World, people would walk in with ice cream cones asking, “Can I bring in ice cream?” (“That’s required,” I would answer). Some had had a drink or two before strolling in, and there was much frivolity on those nights. Sunday afternoons were quieter, with people sitting down and getting lost in a book. I got called in for New World during its last few weeks, and when people walked in the sense of loss to come was palpable. These are things I think about when I think about what a bookstore would bring to the Gaslight District. You can’t bring back the past, but you can start building new memories.

The Latest On Ludlow

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Now that the weather has warmed up a little, we’re starting to leave our cabins again. If you haven’t made it up to the Ludlow Avenue yet,here are some of the new sites that will greet you as you stroll down the street. First, it looks as if one of the storefronts has officially reached the getting-pretty-close-to-being-open phase; more on this development soon:

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Wonder what they’ll be selling…


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Could it be…


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Also, if you’re wondering what happened to the Bead Joint, it has moved to a new location. It’s still on the same side of the street, this time at 314 Ludlow Avenue. It’s in a smaller space now, yet the new location is so neat and tidy that when you walk in you may scratch your head and wonder how they got everything together in such a short amount of time. Martha gave credit for that to her new business partner, Tabitha, who is super-organized and efficient and the perfect complement to Martha. As I snapped photos Martha told me some of her old customers don’t know yet about her new location, so here I am spreading the word and asking other people that the Bead Joint is up and running again, with a new location and the same cute canine/spiritual advisor as before. (Her name is Sunshine.) The hours for The Bead Joint are Wednesday thru Saturday 11am to 7pm and Sunday 11am to 5pm. The phone number is 513.237.3725 and the email address is

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Martha, Sunshine, and Tabitha



Esquire Theatre Hosts Live Music Every Wednesday

Esquire Theatre Live Music Every Wednesday

There’s no need to do suffer from cabin fever this winter, as there’s plenty of live entertainment on Ludlow Avenue. As you may have heard, Live at Ludlow Garage is up and running, already hosting sold-out shows by artists as esteemed as Rickie Lee Jones. Also, Lydia’s on Ludlow has open mics and featured readings three Thursdays a month; there are more details at this link.

And on top of that, the Esquire Theatre recently started hosting live music every Wednesday from 7pm to 9pm. The series features some of Cincinnati’s most popular musicians, including Ricky Nye, the Faux Frenchmen, and the Cincinnati Dancing Pigs. If you’re not aware already, the Esquire serves alcohol, including cocktails, so you can have a drink while you’re listening to the music (and popcorn!). The cover for each event is five dollars.  Here’s a link with more information about the series, and here’s the schedule:



FEB 10 – RICKY NYE & CHRIS DOUGLAS on upright bass






MAR 23 – RICKY NYE & vocalist KATIE LAUR


If you haven’t heard Rickie Nye before, check out this YouTube performance where he pays tribute to another Cincinnati blues musician; now that’s what I call the blues:


Never Mind the Bollocks, H-e-e-e-e-e-re’s Johnny!

Johnny Carson image

I’m not one to embrace new technology too quickly. Although I play CDs, vinyl is still the heart of my record collection, and I’ve never streamed anything. I record my songs not with Pro Tools but a cassette player.

One reason I’ve put off signing up for Cable TV is that I’ve gone for years at a time without a boob tube.

Last year, though, someone called to tell me that I could add cable to my Internet and phone package and actually pay less money, so for the first time I bit. By that point I had somehow amassed not one but two TVs.

In some ways the experiment has been successful. More than anything, Turner Classic Movies has helped satisfy my need for grainy black-and-white movies.

A couple months after I enrolled, however, I discovered that starting on January 1 Antenna TV—Channel 64.2 if you’re in Cinci—was going to show Johnny Carson episodes every night of the week. In some cities Antenna TV is available on cable, but with my cable provider you can only watch it with an antenna.

Somehow that just seems right.

So, I dug out an antenna and started watching Johnny Carson for the first time since his final week in 1992. At 11pm on weekends they show episodes from the 1980s and 1990s, and at 10 pm on weekend nights it’s shows from the 1970s. The weekend shows are 90 minutes long, a tradition that lasted until 1980.

No TV stations have rerun Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show since it ended. Even if you’ve watched clips on YouTube, returning to full episodes will spark a reappraisal.

Was it as great as you remember it being?

Absolutely. Carson is a master, and you can see it in the earliest 1970s clips through the episode that ran the other night with Elizabeth Taylor just three months before he called it quits.

Why was Johnny Carson such a natural as a talk-show host? In part it has something to do with his upbringing. Born in the Midwest, he was a down-to-earth guy who could have been your neighbor down the street.

Yet on the East and West Coasts—his shows took place New York and after that Hollywood—he exhibited a sophistication that was understated rather than flashy. Even the most famous entertainers Carson approached as an equal, and the interviews seem like real conversations as opposed to Hollywood glitz. We all know talk show hosts who are deferential or condescending, but that was never Carson’s style.

Something that becomes clear when you watch the show again is just how weird Carson’s humor could be. Obviously that’s a trait we associate with Letterman, but Carson got there first – somehow, though, with him that type of humor called less attention to itself.

So, the cable viewers whose providers don’t carry Antenna TV need to figure out how to hook their TV sets up the old-school way for an old-school show. And for those people who don’t watch cable, take note: the best show on TV is pure antenna.


A quick note: Antenna TV DOES show up these stations on cable in Cincinnati:

  • Comcast Ch. 253
  • Limestone/Bracken Cablevision Ch. 131
  • Limestone/Bracken Cablevision Ch. 18 (Mount Olivet)
  • Time Warner Cable Ch. 996

And they’re working on adding it to other cable providers.

Open Mic at Lydia’s on Ludlow

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Good news from Lydia’s on Ludlow, aka Om Eco Café: two Thursdays a month the coffee house will host open mic nights, which means that anyone who wants to share their music, poetry, performance, fiction, or creative non-fiction is free to come up and perform. The readings will take place between 7pm and 9pm on the second and third Thursdays of each month, and the first will be on January 14. Already the buzz is on about this new series, which is sure to pull writers and musicians out of the woodwork from both the Gaslight District and throughout Cincinnati. The series will be hosted by Kelly Thomas, who earned an MA at Miami University and an MFA at Butler University and teaches English at NKU and Xavier. Kelly also happens to be a witty, provocative,energetic, and thoroughly unpredictable poet, as the poems on her website attest. Note also that Lydia’s on Ludlow is also going to have literary readings on the fourth Thursday of every month, only these will host featured readers instead of the open mic format – but I’ll save the details of that for a later blog entry. This should be fun, folks—and you can bet there will be a packed house, as ‘round these parts there’s all kinds of poets and fiction writers with no place to go—until now, at least!


Clifton Market Is A Go!

Clifton Market

Perhaps you’ve heard the news, or perhaps you haven’t. Even if you have, it’s worth hearing again, and in fact you may want to say it aloud a few times just to let it sink in:

Clifton is going to have a grocery store again.

That splendid news spread like wildfire yesterday, after this email that was straight from the horse’s mouth: Clifton Market Closed on it’s Loans Today! With our loans coming online today we will be seeing construction starting in the new year!  

Construction is expected to be finished by summer.

It’s appropriate that it would occur during the holiday season and right before the dawn of a new year. This happened because the people of Clifton worked together and refused to give up. It was the same spirit that save the Esquire Theatre, which has been a great success and a cornerstone in the community. 2015 was a great year for our community, and 2016 will be even better!


New Nelson Slater News

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It’s been awhile since we caught up with Nelson Slater; in fact, if memory serves, our last blog entry dates back to the release of his Steam-Age Time-Giant album. Turns out Nelson has another LP in the works, this project involving extensive collaboration with Tom Derwent, who’s worked with Nelson for a long time now. Nelson, who’s had more band names than Kiss has had farewell tours, has christened his present ensemble Andylouisian Dogs, and the release-in-progress is Unknown and Unsung. I’ve heard a rough mix of the recording, and I sent a CD of it to David Hintz, whose DC Rock Live is a much-read blog that does a great job of covering the wide range of music that hits Washington, DC. Dave was impressed with the record, and you can read his thoughts about it here.

Other new Nelson Slater news dates back to 1977 and a live performance by Alex Chilton. One year after the release of Nelson’s Wild Angel—an album that Lou Reed produced and played on—Alex Chilton recorded a live cover of one of the songs on that LP. It wasn’t until this year that an album came out of that performance. Live at the Ocean Club ’77 is a 2-LP vinyl release on Norton Records. It’s a great-sounding record cut straight from the master tapes. The final song on the record was Nelson’s “Dominating Force” from Wild Angel. It’s great to see this affirmation of Nelson’s songwriting talent surface now, after existing in a bubble all these years. Great song, great performance:

David Bowie Tribute at Urban Artifact

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Tonight (11/20/15) a tribute to the music of David Bowie will take at Urban Artifact in Northside, a new club that has quickly staked its claim as a venue where anything can happen, including one-time-ever projects like this one. The performance will take place from 8pm to 10pm, and it’s free. Where so many musicians seem to get lost in the shuffle as the decades float by, David Bowie has achieved a Mount Rushmore status with a new generation, and this event should make for a lively Sunday evening. The band performing hits from throughout Bowie’s career is the Just Strange Brothers, who recently performed a tribute to Sly and the Family Stone at Urban Artifact, and who, it should be noted, have a horn section, which leads one to suspect that they may hit on some of those funky, groove-oriented tunes from Young Americans and Station to Station—songs like this one:


Holidays on Ludlow This Friday

Blog Holidays on Ludlow 2015

Holidays on Ludlow is back! It starts at 6pm this Friday, Dec. 11, and there’s free parking after 5 in the Merchant Lot on Howell Ave. There are all kinds of fun free activities to choose from that evening, including:

  • Horse Carriage Rides
  • Strolling carolers: Transitions Barbershop Quartet & United Methodist Vocal Choir
  •  Kids Art Activities at Lydia’s on Ludlow, sponsored by CCAC
  • Children’s Photos with Santa, courtesy of Cincinnati EyeCare Team
  • Pet Photos with Santa, courtesy of Howell Avenue Pet Hospital
  • Refreshments at Hansa Guild
  • Wine Tasting at La Poste
  • Warm cider courtesy of Clifton Natural Foods
  • Cookies to nibble at Lentz & Company
  • Christmas Jazz performance by Clifton residents at Lydia’s on Ludlow
  • United Methodist French Horn Ensemble will be playing
  • SCPA Guitarist & Harpist will be playing at Live at the Ludlow Garage
  • Sale items at Mizti’s Shoes & Accessories, plus a chance to win a basket of Good Earth natural skin care products
  • Ludlow Wines, will be hosting their Friday night wine tasting

Not to pick favorites, but this is a splendid opportunity for folks to check out Live at the Ludlow Garage, where there will be musicians performing in the lobby (and a Leigh Nash and Gabe Dixon concert in their performing space as well).  If you didn’t know already, Ludlow Garage isn’t just a concert venue; you can have dinner and a drink there as well  Finally, check out the flyer below to find out what else is happening at Lydia’s on Ludow/Om Eco Cafe: 

Blog Entry Om Eco Dec 11 Christmas


Jim Lauderdale Coming To Live at the Ludlow Garage


Live and Ludlow Garage is now up and running, with several concerts under its belt and many more scheduled; check the calendar for more info. Also, the Garage serves food and alcohol every night, regardless of whether music is playing. I wanted to highlight just one of the shows on tap, this one featuring veteran roots and Americana singer and songwriter Jim Lauderdale; the show is on Saturday, December 12. If you’re not familiar with Lauderdale’s music, I’ll bet you know some of his colleagues. He’s collaborated with Ralph Stanley and Buddy Miller, and he’s also one of the few musicians to work extensively with Robert Hunter other than, well, Jerry Garcia from the Grateful Dead. Robert Hunter, of course, is one of the great storytellers among lyricists, and just as Jerry Garcia turned those stories into unforgettable songs, Jim Lauderdale has also established a strong rapport with Hunter over several albums. In the intimate and acoustically fabulous Live at the Ludlow Garage, Lauderdale’s music will have an opportunity to really shine. Here’s a Hunter-Lauderdale gem entitled “Jawbone” (even the name of the song sounds like vintage Robert Hunter):

Ace Hardware Is Now a UPS Access Point (Plus They Now Offer Free Off-Street Parking)

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When Ace Hardware opened at 344 Ludlow Avenue over six years ago the whole neighborhood breathed a sigh of relief, as life suddenly became a lot more convenient. And things just got more convenient when Ace Hardware announced recently that they are now a UPS Access Point for easy parcel drop-off or collection. If you want a package to go out that day, bring it in by 4pm. Owner/manager Bryan Valerius told me today that the service is already popular, with international students taking advantage of it right off the bat. So that small little sign at the entrance to Ace Hardware means a big bunch of convenience for neighborhood residents – and so does the new free off-street parking (see bottom photo for details). We’re super happy to have Ace Hardware in the neighborhood – just one more small business making this a more vibrant (and did I forget to say convenient?) neighborhood.

Ace Hardware 012



Steven Paul Lansky Reading & Performance at Clifton Cultural Arts Center Nov. 14

Steve Lansky photo

On Saturday, November 14 at 5:30 pm Steven Paul Lansky will host an event at the Clifton Cultural Arts Center (CCAC). Steve is a fiction writer, poet, musician, artist, and animated videographer who lives in Clifton. This free event might be seen as an overview of at least a small portion of Steve’s career, with both a literary reading and a multi-media presentation in connection with Jack Acid (which Steve has described as a “postmodern psychedelic picaresque novel modeled after the Appalachian jacktale)” as well as some live music. For this event Steve will receive a little help from his friends, including the singer and songwriter Angel Starlove, as well as the Wilson Snopes band, a two-piece band in which which Steve plays harmonica. This performance is a fundraiser to support Steve’s upcoming trip to the 20th Annual AAWP Conference in Melbourne, Australia. Steve will have plenty of things for sale, including downloads of the Jack Acid audionovel, a CD by Wilson Snopes, original art, and copies of the literary magazine This: A Serial Review, which included an excerpt from Jack Acid. Expect colorful prose and music from someone who has long been an important figure in Cincinnati’s literary scene; you’ll have an opportunity to see a projected image of this animated video in DVD quality that Steve created in collaboration with other Cincinnati artists:

Steve, who has both an MA and an MFA, taught at Miami University for 15 years. Once the poet laureate of Over the Rhine, Steve recently received a grant from the Ohio Arts Council. He has published two chapbooks, Main St. and Eleven Word Title for Confessional Political Poetry Originally Composed for Radio, as well as the audionovel Jack Acid. Recently Steve has published in Cosmonauts Avenue, Whole Terrain, New Flash Fiction Review, Black Clock 20, and St. Petersburg Review Issue 8.

Rainbow’s End, mixed media by Steven Paul Lansky

 Jack Acid is necessarily a trippy story, and by some turn of events this performance will take place in what was Steve Lansky’s fourth grade social studies classroom. The piece will bring the listener to the end of the rainbow where Jack Acid finds a lotus tree that miraculously fixes the bad front tooth that he broke as a child.

What Store is Going in There?

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There’s been so much going in Clifton lately that we can’t keep up with everything. Just the other day when we were walking past the building at 272 Ludlow Avenue, between Subway and Jagdeep’s, we saw a storefront where it looked like a new business in the process of moving in and getting ready to open a new shop in the Gaslight District. Beyond that, though, we don’t know much. We’ve been sending asking people on our Facebook page for any information, and thus far the only response we’ve gotten is this rather cryptic video. Any sleuths out there who have any theories about what business this might be that will soon grace Clifton?



Clifton Natural Foods Celebrates 30th Anniversary

Clifton Natural Foods 2015 30 year

This Saturday, November 7, Clifton Natural Foods is going to celebrate its 30th anniversary. Fortunately we’ll be able to celebrate the event at its new location, at 336 Ludlow Avenue in the heart of the Gaslight District. There will be lots of samples to try, plus discounts, gift basket raffles, and goodie bags. It’s been about a year and a half since Clifton Natural Foods moved to the Gaslight District (an event we wrote about in this blog entry), and it immediately seemed like a perfect fit. The owner, Bob Craig, couldn’t be happier, “We have half the space we had in Clifton Heights,” he said today, “but we have more product, and business has increased dramatically….We’re exceeding our expectations.” When asked how he liked the neighborhood, he said, “We love it. People here are invested in community. They want businesses to succeed. We really feel at home. Every day people tell me they’re so glad we’re in the neighborhood, and when you’re a retailer, that’s music to your ears.” He’s really looking forward to Saturday, and so are we–so come out and join the festivities!

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Zappawen at Urban Artifact Saturday

Zappaween poster

This Saturday, October 31st, the first annual ZAPPAWEEN will take place at Urban Artifact! That means a superband with some of Cincinnati’s finest musicians will be performing a very special Frank Zappa album in its entirety on the most twisted night of the year. There’s no cover. The mystery album will be performed live in its entirety beginning at 9pm, and a set of Zappa favorites will follow at around 11:30. Expect wildness and frivolity–and join in the freak show yourself, wearing your craziest costume and acting like characters in Frank Zappa songs. To slightly misquote a song from the first Mothers of Invention album, “Who could imagine…that they would freak out…in Cincinnati?”

Exactly what Frank Zappa album will be performed, it turns out, is a bit of a mystery. Actually it’s more than that: it’s a great BIG mystery, and I was hoping that, since I knew Dominic Marino personally and have from time to time offered him a little support in the form of social media, he might give the inside scoop if I promised to keep a secret, but his lips are sealed. And that’s a bit troubling, as Zappa’s discography consists of exactly 100 albums. Nonetheless, I put on my detective thinking cap and, along with the help of some other Zappaphiles, made some deductions. When analyzing the clues that Urban Artifact has been leaking about the mystery album, it seems to us that it must be Joe’s Garage. Can we expect a live performance of acts I, II, & III? Will there be more theatrics than just a musical performance? How are they going to pull off things like the Central ScrEnutinizer, Sy Borg, and difficult tunes such as “Keep It Greasy” and “Wet T-Shirt Nite”?

The instrumentation of this Cincinnati superband also suggests that this album may be Joe’s Garage, the musicians in questions being Brad Myers (Ray’s Music Exchange, Jeremy Pinnell & The 55s, Aja), Brandon Scott Coleman (local jazz guitarist who has been playing with EVERYONE lately), Steve Goers (adjunct professor for CCM’s Musical Theater program and session keyboardist around town), Kristin Agee (Us, Today, The Lovers), Devon Leigh (The Qtet, Eclipse), Aaron Jacobs (the busiest bass player in Cincinnati), and Dominic Marino (Blue Wisp Big Band, The Cincy Brass, and founder of Urban Artifact).

The event promises a live performance of the mystery album at 9pm, plus a second set of “Zappa favorites” to follow—and from the special guest appearances list, it seems to me we should expect a horn section for the second set.

This is the first ZAPPAWEEN in what Urban Artifact hopes to be many; let’s make it one to remember!

Zappaween another picture to use

Live at the Ludlow Garage: The Facts


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Everywhere I go people are talking about Live at the Ludlow Garage, the new performance venue that opens next week in the Gaslight District. Because I live in the neighborhood, people assume I know everything about it; no end of questions have come my way, and at first all I could say was, “I don’t know any more than you do.” Gradually, though, I’ve pieced together some facts with the help of Scott Crawford, the owner of the Garage, and Kevin Blum, who books the shows. Since people still ask where it is, I should start by saying that that it’s located at 342 Ludlow Avenue, where Olive’s used to be. Other frequently-asked questions include:

What kind of performance venue will it be? Live at Ludlow Garage will offer a unique concert experience. Expect an intimate, up-close concert experience with superb acoustics. With only 262 seats, it will be like seeing the national acts in your own living room.

How do I buy tickets? That’s simple: go to the website,, clicks the EVENTS tab, which will reveal the acts scheduled to perform there; beneath those pictures you’ll see the word BUY; from there it’s self-explanatory.

Can I buy tickets at the door on the night of the show? Yes, but because these are national acts playing a small venue, many shows will sell out before the night of the concert.

What kind of music will be featured? The list would include roots music of every style (including folk and blues), world music, pop music, jazz, rap and reggae (Matisyahu), and acts like the California Guitar Trio or Jake Shimabukuro, both of whom play a very eclectic style of music. In keeping with the intimate atmosphere, you’ll mostly hear acoustic instruments, some by musicians who always play acoustic, and—in the spirit of MTV Unplugged—some by musicians who welcome the opportunity to perform in a more stripped-down setting.

When does it open? Oct.29th is the opening night; it kicks off the Grand Opening, with four nights in a row of live music.

How do I find out who’s playing there? On the website, click the EVENTS tab, and you’ll all the upcoming concerts. And to learn about newly-added shows as soon as they’re added, click the op-in for email updates on the homepage of the website

Now that we’ve got some details out of the way, let me say something much more subjective. Those of us who live in the Gaslight District are thrilled to see the Garage coming to fruition. Being able to walk to see national artists in an intimate venue, have a drink and dinner before and after – does it get any better than that?  It’s great for the neighborhood, and it’s great for the whole city. There’s nothing better than a great concert, and when it’s up close and personal it’s even better. Welcome, Live at the Ludlow Garage!

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The Latest at Petey’s Pet Stop: Go Get Grover Groomed!

The groomer, Suzanne Whitaker, with the scene-stealing and perpetually photo-opping Breezy and Annabelle

The groomer, Suzanne Whitaker, with the scene-stealing and perpetually photo-opping Breezy and Annabelle

About two months have passed since Petey’s Pet Stop opened in Clifton’s Gaslight District. Petey’s was an instant hit in the neighborhood, and it’s nice to have such a fun new addition to the small businesses that make the Gaslight District a special to live. You can read about some of the services it offers in this blog entry. This week it began offering a new service: grooming. The newly-hired groomer, Suzanne Whitaker, has over 15 years of experience with dog grooming as well as a lifelong passion for animals. Suzanne trained at Nash Academy of Animal Arts in Lexington, Kentucky. She has groomed at several grooming salons in Greater Cincinnati and owned and operated Your Best Friend Pet Salon in Hebron, Kentucky for several years. She’s at Petey’s every Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, as well as some Saturdays. You can make an appointment for a grooming session or try a walk-in; she’s available for walk-in nail trims no matter what. Although it’s not essential, Suzanne encourages first-timers to meet her beforehand and discuss how they like their pet groomed. Price varies according to breed and size. Sounds like Suzanne was, like the store, an instant hit—when I checked in at the end of her first work day, she said she was busy the whole day. Petey’s is located at 311 Howell, right next to–very conveniently–Howell Avenue Pet Hospital. Hours for Petey’s are Tuesday through Friday 9am to 7pm and Saturday 9am to 5pm. Their phone number is 513.221.7387.

Mondays on Clifton Plaza


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Mondays are becoming more active on Ludlow Avenue, and this Monday, September 28, should be the biggest yet. The Clifton Plaza “Flea for All” will have at least three vendors from 4pm until they decide to go home. One of them, Niemeyer Farm, has been setting up for the last few weeks, and it always draws a crowd, as you can see from the photo at the top of this blog entry. On Monday mornings Julie Benthaus always posts what she’s bringing to Clifton on nextdoor.clifton, as in last week’s post: “It’s a PERFECT market day! Visit Niemeyer Farm for apples, tomatoes, plums, basil + rosemary plants, honey and peppers!” New to Clifton Plaza is Stu “VintageKing” Nizny, whose Pixel 19 has been selling vintage and retro clothes, t-shirts, artwork, jewelry, and furniture for decades. There will also be a vendor selling record albums for a very soft price. We encourage other vendors to set up as well this Monday or any Monday. It doesn’t cost anything to do so, and you don’t have to get a permit or anything like that – just show up and sell!

Also, hang around some, as Ludlow Avenue stores and restaurants are either continuing to run or adding Monday night specials.

  • Los Potrillos offers half-price small margaritas;
  • The Esquire Theatre continues to promote “Boomer Mondays”;
  • Habaneros sells burritos for $5 and Tecate beer for $2;
  • Arlin’s charges $2.50 for 23-ounce Yuenglings, Budweisers, or Bud Lights.

Be aware, too, that the vendors and specials will continue for many Mondays to come. As Julie Benthaus put it, Niemeyer Farm plans to keep selling “until it starts snowing.” So come out and buy or sell or just see what’s going on the Plaza!

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Come to the CliftonFest Kickoff Party on Friday!

clifton fest 2015

CliftonFest on Ludlow is back this weekend, Sept. 25-27, with live music, food, arts, retail booths, beer, wine, “the Clifton Chase,” a 5K Race, and some good old-fashioned camaraderie. Gaslight Property is again a proud sponsor of this annual event. Things will kick off Friday night with the Wine & Jazz party at Clifton Plaza. From 6pm to 10pm people will be able to drink wine on the Plaza, catch up with old friends and make new ones, and (from 7pm to 10pm) listen to the jazz sounds of Wade Baker. There will be other things cooking on Ludlow Avenue as well: from 8pm to 11pm Om Eco Café will host a literary reading that will feature writers from the University of Cincinnati. Also, Ludlow Wines will be hosting its weekly wine tasting from 5pm to 8pm. Ludlow Wines was nice enough to donate the wine for the Clifton Plaza event. I should also mention that, at 7:30pm on Saturday, Ludlow Wine will have a prize drawing, the top prize being tickets to visit the Maker’s Mark Distillery. For a full rundown of what’s going on at CliftonFest 2015, check CliftonFest’s website.

OTR Record Fair This Saturday

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A first-ever record fair will take place this Saturday, September 26, from 12pm to 6pm at Rhinegeist Brewery, located at 1910 Elm Street in Over the Rhine. The event, which is free, promises “Vinyl, Beer, and great door prizes from Crosley Radio, Ubahn, Plaid Room Records, and more.” Agar, Rhinegeist, Northside Record Fair, Savantry and Ubahn Festival teamed up for this event. It’s great to see more record fairs coming to Cincinnati. The Northside show has been a hit from the beginning, and the vinyl boom in general has helped a music industry that took a quick, hard dive begin to crawl back and make things interesting again. Although there are lots of other good things you can say about vinyl, I focus on the craftsmanship involved in physically creating a vinyl record; to make one, you have to get your hands dirty, applying old-school (and largely forgotten) technology that they don’t teach you in school. The person spearheading this record fair is Rob Mason, who works for the OTR marketing firm Agar and has met Jerry Springer. And he’s a real music + record lover, as this Q+ A attests:

What inspired you to host a record fair in Cincinnati? I decided to put this event together because I was looking throw a fun, community facing event that coincided with the music community that will be taking over OTR during the music festival.

How long have you been into records/vinyl, and what do you collect? I’ve been amassing records for the past 20 years. I’m a music fanatic and I’m always on the lookout for cool new bands…I’d say I’m probably 70/30 in favor of new music over classic LPs. My wife would say that I have more than enough LPs and 45s but we all know that’s never the case.

Sounds like you’re from around these parts, then left, then came back. What took you away/where did you go…and why did you come back?  Nice Jerry Springer photo by the way. I went to school at Miami Univ…got my start in the music biz at WMSR and then at WOXY… I lived in NYC for the past 10 years working for various record labels and a music distribution company. We recently relocated to Cincinnati (my wife is from here) as we just had our 2nd kid and it was time to be closer to family. I was very excited to meet Jerry at Whispering Beard Fest. He couldn’t have been nicer!

Tell us about your label. I’ve been running Old Flame in various capacities for the past 7 years. It’s definitely been a labor of love but I’ve had the honor of working with some amazing bands including putting out an early 45 for Cleveland’s Cloud Nothings, the debut LP from Northampton, MA’s Potty Mouth, and way more great bands. I’m really excited to be back in SW Ohio and bring more shows and music-centric events to the area!

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Sao Paulo Underground Plays the Loft Society This Saturday

With two musicians from Brazil and one from Chicago, Sao Paulo Underground is a one-of-a-kind band whose music is a heady mix of Brazilian melodies, electronica, jazz, and funky beats. Their music is dense, detailed, ambient, and groove-oriented, with so many layers it’s hard to believe only three musicians can make such a thick wall of sound. Somehow it just makes sense that this trio would end up at the hippest and…well, most underground jazz club in Cincinnati, the Loft Society at 119 Calhoun St. The show takes place this Saturday, September 19, with sets at 8pm and 10pm. Between sets you can check out the memorabilia- and art-filled walls that act as a giant collage. The cover is $20.

On percussion, cavaquinho, and electronics, Mauricio Takara provides the rhythms and polyrhythms; along with adding to the groove, multi-keyboardist Guilherme Granado is a builder of soundscapes. After their Contemporary Arts Center performance in 2012, Granado mentioned touring with the electronica ensemble Prefuse 73, a familiar name in alternative hip hop and ambient music circles. Cornetist Rob Mazurek from Chicago is among the most prolific jazz musicians working today, releasing records at a staggering rate on multiple labels. Mazurek has peformed all over the world, but after the CAC show he said the Loft Society is probably his favorite play to play anywhere. In fact, that evening he praised the Loft so effusively that Granado and Takara were itching to play there. Three years later, they are.

Guilherme Granado's keyboard setup the last time he played Cincinati - we'll see what he brings this time

Guilherme Granado’s keyboard setup the last time he played Cincinati – we’ll see what he brings on Saturday.


Sundry and Vice

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I would like to tell you that my visits to local cocktail joints around Cincinnati are all based on hours of in-depth research prior to walking in the door, but the truth is, this is the second time in a row that my cocktail blog entry occurred because…well, I accidentally ran into the place. This tale begins with the Bootsy Collins concert that was supposed to take place at Washington Park, except Mother Nature wasn’t having it. With just a slight trickle of precipitation drizzling down from the sky and a few scattered lightning bolts, I figured I’d wander down to OTR and see if Cincinnati’s fabled funkster had scared the clouds away with his bootie-shaking bass. No such luck, but on my way back to my car, which was parked a few streets over, I spotted what looked like a cocktail bar. Walking inside Sundry and Vice, located at 19 W. 13th St., I saw people drinking from glasses in all the right shapes. The lighting was soft, and the music was too; a stamped tin ceiling, a wooden bar, and a shelving display of old medical bottles that may have been used when Sherlock Holmes was solving murder mysteries added to the atmosphere. You could sit in one of the large, comfy booths or at the line of bar stools and talk without shouting. One of the things I liked right away about Sundry and Vice was its simplicity. This was a cocktail bar, with its own apothecary theme…and that’s enough. It uses its 1100 square feet well. The servers were friendly and the atmosphere low key. Along with the martini I ordered (gin, dry, good) I was handed a book with a pen, and at first I thought, are they handing me my bill? No, the idea was, here’s an old book with lots of words in it, but drinkers are encouraged to, I guess, add their own post-modern spin to it.

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I’m a little weak on histology, but for some reason these lines of poetry came into my head:

All things are a-flowing

Sage Heraclitus says,

But a tawdry cheapness

Shall outlast our days.

I couldn’t remember who the poet was who penned those words, but I ascribed that stanza to Donald Trump—and who knows, maybe I’m right.

Hours for Sundry and Vice are: Monday closed; Tues – Fri 4pm – 2am; Saturday 12pm – 2am; Sunday 12pm – 12am; and its phone number is 513.721.VICE (8423).

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Big Lazy To Play MOTR Pub

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On September 10 MOTR Pub will host a very special (and free) concert by a NYC-based band that uses three instruments—guitar, upright bass, and drums—to create a rich and colorful soundscape. Big Lazy doesn’t play a lot of notes, yet their music spreads out like a wide-screen Technicolor movie that opens with a shot of a desert sky that seems to go on forever. The soundtrack you’re imagining as you listen to Big Lazy somehow combines a rural setting with a noir narrative. It only makes sense that the leader of the band, guitarist Stephen Ulrich, has composed music for HBO series Bored to Death and the film Art and Craft. If you attend the show, you’ll hear echoes of Ennio Morricone and Henry Mancini, but in a different context. Their music should sound lovely in an intimate setting like MOTR Pub. The opening act will be Cincinnati’s re-energized Tigerlilies, who have been on a roll lately with live shows and new music, some of it in the form of cassettes! Sounds like a good night to check out the merch table. Here’s a video of Big Lazy playing Elephant Walk:


The Visually Splendiferous and Architecturally Wondrous UC

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Classes began this week at the University of Cincinnati, and if you live in Clifton you can already tell the difference. Apparently the college is more popular than ever, with UC projected to have record enrollment this year. One reason we go to college is to be stimulated, and at UC that begins with the architecture that makes it such a unique-looking campus. It’s remarkable that UC has FIVE signature architect buildings: The Vontz Center for Molecular Studies, the Aronoff Center for Design and Art (“the DAAP building,” in other words), the Engineering Research Center, the College-Conservatory of Music, and the Vera Clement Edwards Center. The school’s visual appeal doesn’t stop there, though. Everywhere you look you’ll see a wild mix of architectural styles, and it’s not like each of those styles is tucked away in a different corner of the campus. No, at the University of Cincinnati they pack it all together, making it one of the most colorful and visually stimulating and architecturally diverse campuses anywhere, with fresh shapes and angles jutting out into the skyline from every direction. So while you’re there, don’t just rush to the next class—slow down and have a look around.

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Petey’s Pet Stop Opens in Clifton

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A store devoted to pets just opened in the Gaslight District. Petey’s Pet Stop is located in the same building as the office for Gaslight Property, which puts it at 311 Howell Ave. (It’s also, appropriately enough, right next door to the Howell Avenue Pet Hospital.) The phone number for the store is 513.221.PETS (7387). The hours are Tuesday through Friday 9am to 7pm and Saturday 9am to 5pm. Petey’s offers the following:

  • DIY bath stations
  • Grooming
  • Pet food & healthy treats
  • Pet gifts & toys
  • Pet accessories
  • Photo booth
  • Boarding

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The managers of the store, Beth McCarty and Linda Sterling, are both pet lovers. Linda’s had bulldogs since she was five years old while Beth is more of a cat person; the store is named after one of their pets, who they consider the CEO and ambassador of the enterprise. Their decision to open the store was fueled by their love of animals and their fondness for Clifton, which appeals to them because it’s a walkable community with a long history of supporting family-owned businesses. No doubt Petey’s Pet Stop will be a hit with all the pet lovers in the area, who have had to travel farther (and, quite often, pay more) for similar items. Beth and Linda made it clear that they are also interested in making deliveries anywhere within five miles of the store, something that will appeal to both super-busy and older citizens. The shop is all about convenience—for example, if you’re too busy to bathe your pet, you can drop your dog off at the doggie day spa on your way to work and pick up a clean and happy pet on your way home.

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After leaving Petey’s Pet Stop I ran into a pet lover who had already been to the store and who mentioned something I didn’t think to ask about while I was there. He had talked to them about their prices, and he found that they were quite reasonable, with prices that are Amazon level or slightly higher –a whole lot less expensive, in other words, than some retailers. Think of it, then, as an affordable place to pamper your pet AND take care of the most practical needs for your dogs, cats, or (fill in the blank). Beth and Linda were both nice and enthusiastic, their store looks bright and colorful with lots of windows, they’re in a great location, and it’s clear already that they’ll be a hit. Come welcome them to the neighborhood!

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Attention UC! Making Heads Turn Salon Is Right Down the Street

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Were you aware that there’s a hair salon right across the street from Bruegger’s Bagels? Making Heads Turn Salon (their number is 513.407.3911) is kind of tucked away, and while its address is 3307 Clifton Avenue, you actually enter the business through Terrace Avenue, behind University Nails on Clifton. The salon is run by Saira Huckleberry, who, when she opened the business in 2012, was already an experienced stylist. On the salon’s postcard you see the motto Where All Hair Is Good Hair. That’s more than just a feel-good slogan, for the fact is that the original reason Saira originally decided to pursue her career was that, being a mixed-race child with unique hair, she ran across some hairdressers who had no idea how to style her hair. She made it a point to learn how to work with people with all different kinds of hair, and that’s one of the reasons she’s so popular. The services she offers include extensions, dreads, custom coloring, and Keratin treatments. You should check out on her Facebook page some of the remarkably diverse and flattering hairstyles that are the handiwork of Saira and her assistants. No wonder she’s so popular! Thousands of people live within walking distance of the salon, plus there’s all the people who attend or work at the University of Cincinnati. The re-opening of UC prompted Saira to offer a free eyebrow wax with a haircut or a free conditioning treatment with a blowout. To make an appointment for a haircut, styling, coloring, hair treatment, re-texturizing, or waxing, call Saira at 513.407.3911. We’re glad she’s part of the Gaslight District!

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A New Bar Opens in Northside


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Tillie’s Lounge is a new bar located at 4042 Hamilton Avenue in Northside. About four weeks ago it opened in a building that dates back to 1881. In other words, it has some history, and its name reflects that: Tillie’s is named after a circus elephant who paraded down the streets of Northside in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.


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When I walked into Tillie’s last weekend I’d heard nothing about it. I was just going there to hear a friend’s band. Generally I don’t like bars; usually after ten minutes my eyes glaze over as I think about how bored I am. But I quickly warmed to Tillies for these reasons:

  • Atmosphere: Talk about intimate. Tillie’s is a relatively small inside (although a good-sized patio out back adds some size); it seems like all the bars I actually like are smaller and more intimate. It has soft lighting and a nostalgic vibe enhanced by the old-school furniture, chandeliers, candelabras, and other details like the ceiling tile that gives the impression of a stamped-tin ceiling. I was also happy to see that the two large-screen TVs were both playing (with the sound off) old black-and-white movies; very appropriate.
  • Volume: There was a good-sized crowd that evening, but I didn’t have to raise my voice to be heard. That I attribute to room acoustics plus the fact that the psychedelic sounds of Kite and String were at much more moderate volume than with most live music.
  • Cocktails: The owner of Tillie’s are passionate about cocktails, and they’ll be happy to serve you a drink you’ve never had before, or even heard of for that matter. They like champagne cocktails, including the purple elephant, which combines Absolut Citron, Cointreau,  creme de violet, lime juice, and sparkling wine. All specialty cocktails are paired with macaroons from The Macaroon Bar in Over the Rhine. And note that on Throwback Thursdays cocktails are $5 all night long.
  • Patio: This offers an opportunity to smoke without leaving the bar, plus you can take in the night air.

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This Saturday, July 18, the self-described “eclectic torch pop singer ” Annette Shepherd will be performing duets at Tillie’s with Bob Ross from 8pm to 10:30pm ; there’s no cover charge. Annette is a very talented singer with an interesting mix of songs, as I noted in a previous blog entry.


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Hours are Thursday through Sunday from 4pm to 2am and the phone number is 513.541.1414. It’s run by the owners of Below Zero Lounge in OTR, and like Below Zero it looks to be a hit. While I was there last weekend, I videotaped the closing section of a Kite and String song, and while will accuse me of being a video pro, I like how it turned out, partly because the music sounds so good!


Watch the All-Star Game on Clifton Plaza!

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On Tuesday an All-Star Celebration will be taking place at Clifton’s favorite gathering place, the Clifton Plaza. Starting at 5pm, folks will gather at Clifton Plaza to watch the All-Star Game taking place downtown and to celebrate the history of both baseball and the Cincinnati Reds. Wear red and bring a chair as we celebrate being named one of ten top all-star neighborhoods in Cincinnati! The game starts at 7:30 p.m. Beer and local food trucks will be on hand, so you can pretty much plant yourself and enjoy the event.

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Clifton Plaza is a great place to watch the game, as the All Star Game is all about history and tradition, and so is Clifton. And we’ll have the perfect band on hand: One of the best roots and Americana bands in the area, Jake Speed and the Freddies, will begin playing at 5:30pm. You can bet that they’ll have plenty of songs about baseball in their setlist, as well as other great folk, country, and blues songs from the days of the mighty Red Stockings.

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This is a great idea. If they’re playing the All-Star Game outdoors with a crowd, heck, why not watch it outdoors with a crowd? Everyone is encouraged to don  Cincinnati Reds outfits…or newer Reds outfits…or baseball clothes in general…or dress like Peanut Jim. At 6:30 there will be a contest for the best baseball outfit. (There will also be a Baseball-Themed Photobooth.) So, you might ask, what did baseball players look like back in the day? And what was Peanut Jim’s outfit, exactly? These pictures should help give you an idea; it might not hurt, apparently, to buy some of that instant-handlebar-mustache-growing-cream that Mr. Haney’s been trying to sell you and that you didn’t think you needed.

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Live Salsa Music at CCAC This Wednesday

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Musically it’s been a lively summer for the Clifton Cultural Arts Center, with good-sized crowds showing up consistently for the free Wednesdays on the Green concert series.  The concerts are a good excuse for getting out of the house, mingling, and enjoying the nice weather; many people walk to the show from where they live. Last week I snapped some photos of a concert there, and as you can see, it’s a hit with the kids as well as the adults. This Wednesday, July 8, the salsa band known as Cla’ve Son will be performing.

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As always, there will be food vendors; on tap this week are Kaimelsky’s, Roll With It Café, and streetpops. The music starts at 7pm, rain or shine. (If there’s rain, the event will take place on the first floor of the CCAC.) And remember, Wednesdays on the Green takes place every week through August 12. Here’s some footage of Cla’ve Son in concert; come check them out this Wednesday!




Don’t Forget The Dead Tonight

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I was not among the lucky ones who got tickets for The Dead in Chicago tonight, and if you’re reading this, you probably didn’t either. But second-best ain’t bad: you can head down to Washington Park, check out some jam-oriented bands, and then, at 8pm, watch The Dead simulcast  on the big screen, with fireworks between the first and second sets. Here’s the schedule:

  • 3:00pm: The Almighty Get Down
  • 4:30pm: The Infinity Project
  • 6:00pm: Rays Music Exchange
  • 8:00pm: “Fare Thee Well”: The Grateful Dead Live at Soldier Field
  • 9:15pm: Fireworks show (between sets)
  • 9:30pm: Resume Grateful Dead Simulcast

In addition to games and face painting, hungry families can also enjoy $5.00 chicken sandwiches from The Eagle OTR. Washington Park’s concessions will also offer full bar service, coke products, and craft beer.

As you probably know, there’s been major hoopla about this event, all of which has me thinking about a college buddy we nicknamed Senator Birt, who has always had great concert karma.  The first time he saw the Grateful Dead – and the first time I saw them too – the Senator and I crammed into an MG with Gleason driving. It was quite cramped for two hours, and when we approached the venue I saw a huge sign that said GRATEFUL DEAD – SOLD OUT. It turned out the Senator knew – but didn’t tell me – about the sold-out status of the show. (The Dead was not as huge then as they later became, so sold-out was not a given.)  The Senator seemed unconcerned, and lo and behold we not only ended up with tickets, we had a small stack of them and were able to choose the best seats and sell, for what we paid for them (why be greedy when you get to see the Dead?).

Demand for tickets to the Chicago shows far exceeded supply, and people hoping to procure tickets have enlisted wizards and sorcerers and thrown I Ching in hopes that they would be among the lucky few in attendance. Somehow Senator Birt managed to get tickets for all the Chicago and California shows. He didn’t read his astrology chart or anything like that – I think he just kind of assumed that everything would go well, just like it did for that Columbus show. Because things went so well the first time I saw the Grateful Dead, I have always trusted the Senator to be in control of everything, even on the night that that cop pulled us over for going the wrong way down a one-way after that Neil Young show – well, we won’t go into that. Anyway, the Senator saw to it that I caught the Grateful Dead on about ten different tours. I was lucky to have him watching over me like that and making sure I witnessed one of the best bands America ever produced as many times as I did. So this one goes out to the Senator: the live version of Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London” that the Grateful Dead played as their encore at that first show we saw together in Columbus. That was a couple years ago or so, but the memory’s still fresh. Enjoy the show tonight, Senator; I’ll be looking for you on the big screen in Washington Park:



Audio Swap Meet on July 11


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There’s been a resurgence of interest in stereo equipment in the last few years,with much attention on vintage equipment that, even though it’s decades old, still sounds good – and looks good too! Where do you find such equipment, though? Often record stores have a few components around, but there isn’t much to choose from, usually.

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But there will be gobs of equipment to choose from at the Vintage Audio Swap Meet taking place on Saturday, July 11. For the last seven years this event has been taking place at my friend’s house, but it’s gotten so popular that he’s outgrown it.

So now he’s partnering with Parts-Express to hold the swap meet in conjunction with their annual “Midwest AudioFest” on July 11, starting at 8:00 AM. Here’s a link to the website.

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There will be everything from Audio Alchemy to McIntosh to Marantz, Pioneer, Krell, Acurus, Infinity, Bose, Teac, Revox, Sansui and so much more! Amps, preamps, speakers, turntables, reel to reel decks and plenty of parts, raw drivers and a whole lot more! You can buy equipment – or trade – or sell your own equipment.

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Here’s where the swap meet is taking place: Parts Express• 725 Pleasant Valley Dr. • Springboro,OH 45066 • USA • Parts-Express will have a registration form online but registration is NOT required. If you have any questions, call them at (937) 743-3000.

Northside Rock and Roll Carnival Returns


Gaslight Property is a proud sponsor of the 2015 Northside Rock and Roll Carnival. This all-ages free event will take place from Thursday through Saturday, July 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. The music takes place at Hoffner Park, where the pavilion will be a Beer Garden. Along with music, carnival-goers will be treated to fire breathers and a carnival side show features sword swallowers and a bed of nails.

This year’s carnival definitely features a strong and varied lineup, with some of Cincinnati’s best bands as well as a slew of out-of-town groups. No doubt a huge crowd will be on hand on Thursday night when Wussy, a Cinci band that now has a national audience, takes the stage at midnight.  Of the out-of-town groups, the one I like best is Wildhoney, who start at 8:05pm on Friday. Here’s the schedule for the event:







Don’t forget, of course, that the main event that weekend will be Northside’s July 4th parade; here’s a link to more information on that, and here’s a video of the dark shoegazing sounds of Wildhoney:



Have A Look at The New Clifton Branch Library

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Last week I paid my first visit to the Clifton Branch Library, and I couldn’t have timed it better. This was during what will forever be remembered as The Great Blackout of 2015 – the power was off all over Clifton, and it lasted for a couple hours. I live a few blocks away from the library, and I assumed that even though the power was down in my building the new branch would be fully operational. Turns out the power was off there too, although that didn’t stop lots of people from going in and out of. It was fun roaming around the darkened rooms where Boss Cox used to hold court while getting a taste of both the old and the new. Librarian Eric Davis showed me around the place, and I snapped some photos while discussing features that the new, much larger location offers that the older one didn’t. The new things include two meeting rooms, one with a huge TV screen. The porch has several chess/checker boards, and looks charming; also, there are bike racks. There are more computers than in the old place; the branch now has 12 PCs and 4 Macs in one room, 8 teen computers, and 5 for kids. There’s a solarium that’s already a hit with children, plus a reading room with lots of natural lighting. The new place also has study carrels where you can plug in electronic devices. It seems to me the library did a seamless job of blending new technology with the warm old architecture that characterizes the building and the Gaslight District in general. Below are a bunch of  photos, most of them taken before the lights came back on.

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Prime Numbers, The Debut Album by Jazz Guitarist Brad Myers

Brad Myers Prime NumbersPrime Numbers is the debut album of Brad Myers, a guitarist who’s among the busiest and most high-profile jazz musicians in Cincinnati. The album, which comes out today, has something in common with midcentury modern furniture—sleek, with clean lines, it’s marked by clarity and focus, with an understated postbop coolness. It makes sense that, on this album that primarily consists of the bandleader’s originals, two of the three covers, though decades old, could not seem more modern. Wayne Shorter “The Big Push” and Thelonious Monk’s “Evidence” will forever sound fresh. It’s interesting to hear a tune composed by Monk—who was, after all, a pianist—played without a piano. Here the highly impressionistic and typically sparse harmonic coloring is provided by both Myers and the vibes player Chris Barrick. Without block chords on the piano to potentially gunk up the works, the musicians have all kinds of wiggle room, and their creative use of space takes us to the heart of Monk. The strongest performance may be “Rule of Threes”; it’s certainly the most ambitious, a sprawling and fractured narrative that clocks in at 11:40. The lineup on Primary Numbers is primarily a quintet that includes the tenor saxophone work of Ben Walkenhauer; the tenor can be the heaviest of horns, but here it shares the introspective and lyrical vibe that characterizes the rest of the ensemble. Jazz guitar has a healthy tradition of colorists with a feather-light touch; here Jim Hall and Bill Frisell would seem like influences. Myers may be heard to best effect on his own “You Are Here,”, a sweet ballad that inspires some of his warmest playing. Prime Numbers is a damn good album, and it helps underscore the paradigm shift that has recently taken place in Cincinnati. Last year things certainly looked bleak for jazz in these here parts. The increasingly chaotic Blue Wisp ultimately closed, and we had cause to wonder if the Blue Wisp Big Band would ever find a comfortable home. Well, guess what? Urban Artifact is a hip new venue that hosts lots of jazz, including, every Wednesday, the Blue Wisp Big Band; you can read about it in this previous blog entry. A true tenor heavyweight, recent greater Cincinnati transplant JD Allen released Graffiti, a smoking new album, on Savant in mid-May. The Cincinnati Jazz Hall of Fame was just launched, and Ran Blake just paid tribute to the great composer and musician George Russell, who grew up in Walnut Hills, played in jazz clubs here while in high school, and went on to change jazz history. Blake’s album is called Ghost Tones, and you can count on it and the new JD Allen to show up at the top of best-of lists at the end of 2015. Cincinnati has an amazing jazz history, and it also has a future. If you want a taste of both, check out Brad Myers’ CD release show at Urban Artifact this Thursday; here’s a link to the event. The show is free, but there will be plenty of CDs for sale. Here’s a live performance of “Spherical,” one of the cuts on Prime Numbers:

Come to Global Water Dance on June 20 (It’s Free!)

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On June 20, 2015 at 11am a free performance that features live music and dance while celebrating and raising consciousness about water will take place at Serpentine Wall at the Ohio River. The event, Global Water Dance, is one of 70 such performances occurring on six continents on the same day. Global Water Dance has been here before—it’s a biennial event—and, having witnessed a previous performance, I can testify that it promises a vibrant, colorful, spiritual, and powerful blend of music and dance that is lyrical (with a great and soulful ensemble of singers) but also has a strong world beat element, with a killer percussion section. What makes the event even more colorful will be the hundreds of Paddlefest kayakers who will be watching from the river.

This free event is a peaceful way to spend a Saturday morning; it also happens to raise awareness of the critical need for safe, clean, accessible water to sustain all beings on the planet. The choreography for the event is led by Fanchon Shur, an Ohio Governor’s Woman of the Year; the original music was penned by Event Director Shari Lauter, MEd. The Cincinnati dance also features over 60 yards of hand-painted silk oceanscapes painted by Shari.

The performance will be webstreamed live; visit for the live broadcast link. For more information, you can visit and like their Facebook page at or contact Shari Lauter at, or video gives a taste of the event:









Plaid Room Records is an A+ Record Store

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Plaid Room Records is a record store that opened a few months ago in Loveland. Right out of the gates there’s something really unique about the shop: its location (120 Karl Brown Way in Loveland). There’s no shortage of record stores in the city of Cincinnati, but if you’re hunting for vinyl in the burbs, well, it’s mostly been about the Half-Price Books locations, where their limited record selection seems almost like an afterthought.

Not at Plaid Room Records. This place lives and breathes records and music, and as someone who does the same—and who is hyper-sensitized to the faults of record stores—I know that these guys got it right. Their emphasis is primarily on both new and used vinyl, although I did see and buy some modestly-priced used CDs of modern jazz classics. Here are some of the things I liked:

The Vibe. With record stores, we’ve almost come to expect the employees to be grumpy and condescendingAlong with being knowledgeable and passionate about music, the two brothers who run Plaid Room Records are nice guys. I was probably in the store for about an hour, and I saw them interact with lots of different kinds of customers. Both brothers built a quick rapport with all their customers and made them feel welcome.

The Vibe (part 2). What I also liked about the store was the customer base. Since vinyl began to rebound, we tend to see record store customers as the province of male hipsters. That’s diversified somewhat as of late, but Plaid Room Records was much more mixed than what I normally see. There were as many female customers as there were male, and the crowd seemed, well, mainstream and suburban. Many adults walked in with young children, who, when they held the records in front of their faces, were fascinated by what they saw, as well they should be. As someone who would love to see vinyl continue to grow, and especially new vinyl, it was great to see its fan base expanding. Plaid Room is VERY popular already, and if that can happen, then maybe the vinyl thing can keep growing. That would be a great thing for both musicians and the record labels that support musicians.

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They’re A Family-Owned Small Business. The owners of the store, Terry Cole and Bobby Cole, are brothers. They run a family-owned small business, and you can tell that they love music. In fact, they have their own label, the ultrahip soul-and-funk-infused Colemine Records label. They have live concerts in the store and lots of other activities, and really I’m only scratching the surface here with things going on at the store. You can find out more about them on their Facebook page.

A Great Selection of Vinyl. The store has a combination of both new and used vinyl, with both LPs and 45s. They keep getting in used vinyl, so the stock doesn’t stagnate. They’re up on all the interesting new stuff, and they make it easy to pre-order upcoming releases.

(One Other Thing.) As someone who lives within the city limits of Cincinnati, one reservation I supposed I could have about Plaid Room is that, in theory, they could take away some of the business for, say, Shake-It, Everybody’s, Mole’s, or (in Northern Kentucky) Torn Light. I’ll make a prediction, though: they’ll help increase business at those stores. There were lots of teenagers and young adults walking through the store when I was there, and many of them will end up attending the University of Cincinnati or finding some other reason to move into the city. Plaid Records will instill in them the healthiest addiction I know. My rating for Plaid Records: A+

Free Big Night Clifton Concert at Clifton Plaza This Friday

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This Friday, May 22, from 7pm to 10pm the first in a series of free Big Night Clifton events will take place, with the Cincinnati Contemporary Jazz Orchestra performing a swinging set of jazz at Clifton Plaza. Also on tap: craft beers brewed by our friends at the newly launched Urban Artifact, who I wrote about in this blog entry last week. Should be a great, fun, spring night for the neighborhood. Here’s a video that gives you a taste of the talents of the Cincinnati Contemporary Jazz Orchestra:



Say Goodbye To The Old Library…

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In some respects it looked like just another day at the Clifton branch of the library when I dropped by there near the end of the day today, with people pecking away at computers and reading magazines and one guy returning a pile of children’t books stacked up to his chin. But some of the shelves were empty, or nearly so, and there were plenty of signs letting us know that the Clifton library was moving.

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The last hour of the last day…a good time to snap some photos, I thought, and reflect on all the years that it was part of the main drag in Clifton. It’s moving a few blocks, to a space that’s infinitely larger, and by doing so it will allow activities and events that weren’t possible in what we’ll now call “the old location.”

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But the old library had its charm, and we’ll miss it. Before I snapped a couple photos of the staff members who were there today. The second picture shows them waving – as in waving goodbye – but they assured me that all of the employees in the picture will work at the new place as well. That opens at the end of the month, and we’ll have plenty of picture of that as well.

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Blue Wisp Big Band Finds A New Home

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After the Blue Wisp closed last year, things looked bad for the Blue Wisp Big Band and Cincinnati jazz in general. With the recent opening of Urban Artifact in Northside (the address is 1662 Blue Rock), however, things suddenly seem much rosier for the big band and Cincinnati’s jazz scene overall. Here’s some of the good news:

  • The Blue Wisp Big Band now plays Urban Artifact every Wednesday from 8:30pm to 11:30pm.
  • Urban Artifact hosts live music every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, with jazz on many of those nights.
  • Thursday is always jazz night.
  • Urban Artifact is all ages and has non-alcoholic options like craft soda and Kombucha.
  • There’s no cover charge.

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I visited Urban Artifact for the Blue Wisp Big Band’s live performance last Wednesday, and what I discovered was an old church converted into a club that’s a great space for listening to music. On that night trumpeter Tim Hagans, who I first saw perform at the original Blue Wisp and is now living in Manhattan, was the special guest artist. The acoustics were excellent, and the whole room seem focused on what was happening on the stage; it was clear that much magic will take place there. Here’s a link to Urban Artifact’s web page. Here’s a link to Urban Artifact’s Facebook page.

For those readers who happen to like beer, I also throw in this little tidbit:

  • Urban Artifact is a brewery that serves its own tart and wild beers.
  • “Growler hour” takes place Mondays and Tuesdays at Urban Artifact. You get $2 off for every growler filled from 4-7pm.

Urban Artifact is also very friendly. That night I chatted with Emily Merz & Elese Daniels, who were happy to contribute valuable insights into what beer I ought to drink. I ended up choosing a Nitro Finn, and my professional assessment was: it rocked. Emily and Elese were both nice and helpful, plus they photograph well:

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Free Yoga in Burnet Woods Every Saturday

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Every Saturday from May 9 (this week!) through September 19 free yoga classes will be taking place in Burnet Woods. Each session runs from 11am to noon. Bring a mat or towel, water and sunglasses to the Burnet Woods bandstand and experience nature and get a great workout! Note that the classes will take place even if it rains; they’ll be under the bandstand if there’s a light rain and at the World Peace Yoga studio at 268 Ludlow Avenue in Clifton if there’s a heavy rain. While the classes are free, donations are accepted. These classes are being hosted by World Peace Yoga, long one of the most popular destinations on Ludlow Avenue. They have a great teacher training program that has generated some teachers who now teach globally. It’s also a laid back studio with a come as you are approach. Check out their Facebook page or their website to learn more, or call them at 513-300-9642. Here is the list of dates and instructors for the free yoga sessions in Burnet Woods:

May 9: Amber
May 16: Anna
May 23: Anna
May 30: Donna
June 6: Dara
June 13: Mary
June 20: Caroline
June 27: Mindy
July 4: Caroline
July 11: Amber
July 18: TBA
July 25: Betsi
August 1: Christy
August 8: Dara
August 15: TBA
August 22: Lori
August 29: Amber
September 5: Anna
September 12: Rachel
September 19: Christy

Incline Ridge Apartments Are Ready To Rent!

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Gaslight Property is excited about the Incline Ridge Apartments now available for rent. These two-bedroom apartments are located at 2361 – 2377 Maryland Avenue in the historic Incline District in East Price Hill. The location is fabulous – a hop, skip, and a jump from downtown – and it just got better. Recently construction wrapped up on Route 50, and the distance to downtown is a mere two miles. You can drive to and from work downtown in under five minutes, which means enjoying all the benefits of downtown without having to deal with the hassles and expense of parking if you lived there (parking is free at the Incline Ridge), plus (unlike downtown) the rent’s quite modest (695 – 795 a month).

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These two-bedroom apartments brand new, stylish, stainless appliances, and they feature long balconies — long enough to link the master bedroom and the living room — and those balconies offer a fabulous view. In fact, the view competes with any in Price Hill or for that matter the whole city. Incline Ridge Apartments are also close the Incline Public House and other spots in Price Hill that are themselves destination spots.

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If you have any interest in finding out more about these or any of the other apartments Gaslight Property has to offer, call us at 513.861.6000. Our agents would love to tell you more about these apartments!

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Really it’s “the best of both worlds,” as the apartments are on a peaceful and quiet street on the edge of East Price Hill at the same time that they’re close to downtown and Northern Kentucky.

Buy Tickets Now for the Clifton House Tour on May 10

Clifton House Tour


Every third year on Mother’s Day the Clifton House Tour pays homage to the beautiful historic homes that are part of the reason Clifton has so much character. This year on Sunday, May 10 there will be homes from the 1800s to 1970 highlighting several different styles, including mid-20th century modern, Italianate, and early Shingle Style.

Tickets for the event are already on sale and can be purchased in advance at the following Clifton merchants: Ace Hardware, Hansa Guild, Ludlow Wines, and Skyline Chili. You can also buy tickets online at They’re $18 in advance and will be $22 on the day of the tour. Day-of tickets can be purchased at the Clifton Cultural Arts Center on Clifton Avenue and at Clifton Plaza on Ludlow Avenue.

And this is an event for the whole community. Local businesses throughout Clifton will be open during the tour to provide food, refreshment, and shopping for those looking to extend the day. A free shuttle will escort visitors from two locations: Clifton Cultural Arts Center at 3711 Clifton Ave. and Clifton Plaza at 333 Ludlow Ave.

Along with being a lot of fun, the Clifton House Tour is for a good cause. The tour proceeds are reinvested in the community through the various projects of Clifton Town Meeting (CTM), which include the Clifton Chronicle, and events such as the Memorial Day Parade and Picnic, Lantern Walk, CliftonFest and carriage rides for Holidays on Ludlow.

For more information, email or visit