All posts by Giacomo Ciminello

Cincy(?) Design Week in Review

Since I was a wee smart ass lad, I’ve always been quite stellar at alienating myself. I must admit though, that at times when writing this, I was highly aware that what could come out here borders on career suicide. I know how the Internet works. I understand my little write-ups get a fair amount of traffic. But I would like to think that its all for the better. That perhaps it will inspire others, and myself, to be more proactive in the community that I have been in for the better part of nearly 17 years. Besides, it’s not every day you get to go all William Wallace and shout from the rooftops. So without further ado, my design week recap.

First off, I should commend AIGA, for yet again curating a very good series of events. This is one of the AIGA’s strengths, and I have found that the Cincy chapter can bring in incredible speakers compared to the likes of say, Philadelphia. To all others involved, CODE, Braintrust et al. I really did enjoy each and every one of the CDW events. They were powerful, inspiring, and left me wanting more. However, in that regard, I ask a simple question, “what exactly was Cincinnati about a majority of Cincinnati Design Week?”

Call me a traditionalist, but of the many Design Week functions I have attended in more major markets, it has always been about showcasing the city’s homegrown talent. Now, I know we have a crap ton of designers here. Like a lot. We have extremely large firms like Landor and LPK sucking up some of the best designers that graduate from the #3 design school in the nation, as the really good ones tend to go on to a. major markets or (more likely) b. do their own thing. And it’s really the b. part of that equation that I am wondering about. What are these things that the graduates of the #3 design school in the nation just behind MIT’s MEDIA LAB and PARSONS are doing? Exactly?

Cincinnati famously struggles with identity. Namely from its deign field. This is not unknown, I’ve attended many lectures/workshops/charettes about this. If you think of cities like high school cliques, you can envision a pretty good sense of who they are. NYC is the popular kid, Philly is the jock, Chicago is the most likely to succeed. LA is the stoners. And their designs says as such. Everyone wants a NY design. Philly designs have attitude. Chicago designs are smart. LA work is more socially conscious. Design with morality if you will. But what of Cincy? What do our professionals represent? The Design week events are chock full, CHOCK full of current design students, but current professionals are few and far between. At one event I sat with an Account Manager from Fifth Third Bank and plumber from Mason. Now, I’m not sure what the obsession plumbers have with design, as I actually have a similar plumber experience from a Tufte workshop I attended a ways back, but meeting another designer that was NOT a student during design week was few and far between. Trust me, I was trying. I need more friends, as using my Saturday nights to dictate write-ups for my own profession is not generally on my to-do list. But this has been a recurring theme in this town, and something I noticed immediately upon arrival, designers in this town (and I am at fault for this myself) just don’t seem to want to extend design past 5pm. I wasn’t aware you can “turn it off”, but if someone can point me to that switch I would greatly appreciate it.

So aside from the opening tour of various agencies about town (of which I wanted to attend, not host, but such is life), I heard neither hide nor hair from any of the “bigs”, nor any of the “littles”. Now, there could be a lot going on here. It’s very likely that the format of CDW is just not conducive to it. Meaning, nobody asked them. I understand there is a reputation that the AIGA needs to uphold, and its a good one, to bring in the best, brightest, most exciting designers on the market. And I respect the work of Drapin and Little Big things enough to support these engagements, because it’s important for them to spread their processes and messages. Especially here. Why? Cause the designers in this town think too much. If I had to dig, I would say that there is too much “strategy backed by research” before a thought is even put on paper as opposed to “design backed by common sense” with sketches and crayons galore.

But, hypothetically, let’s start with the bigs. Landor, LPK, Interbrand and Possible. Our hometown Pentagrams and RGA, respectively. Are they so immersed in the blasé of P&G world that they have nothing interesting or unique to engage us with? Doubtful. Landor gave us Lumenocity a while ago, a beautiful mixture of media. Expensive, yes. So is an encore in the cards? Maybe not. But CDW could have had a behind the scenes gallery show with snippets and small talks and a “meet the designers” wine fest. Cause lets be honest. Free food and drinks is the silent dog whistle for designers. Possible is home to some of the coolest, most absurd prototypes and gadgetry around, some of which can be played with at the Cincinnati Museum Center, so you are telling me they have nothing in the ole storage closet that we wouldn’t find vaguely interesting? Brandery, Cintrifuge, HIVE13, 3CDC. I could go on, but this city is teeming with groups and organizations that regularly throw events that the design crowd is incredibly hungry for, but not during CDW apparently.

Sometimes it’s just a meet and greet that is all thats needed. A small but exciting shop known as Peanut Butter & Jelly opened up recently in the new designer neighborhood of OTR. Now, they did recently also have a meet and greet, but another one could have been in order specifically for design week. I suppose your argument here is that we had the tour, but 10 minutes a location does not a vibe create. Sure you can shake some hands and look at the cool laser cut letters on the wall, but to really get to know a place, you need to let them dictate the rules. I guess all I am getting at is, just open it up a little. Let’s look at Design Philadelphia. (here he goes, talking about Philly again). Bare with me.

DesignPhiladelphia is still a curated event to some extent. It personally asks some local artists and designers to submit very specific proposals. However, for the other 51 weeks out of the year, submissions from companies large and small flood their inbox. They range from designer talks, to agency walkthroughs, to (AIGA) scavenger hunts to popup shows. For 10 days, Philadelphia celebrates all things design. Now, that city made a very political and decisive choice to focus on the arts a few years ago. DesignPhilly was fostered within the downtown scene of University of the Arts and has since grown into a organization that can support dozens of events, most of them free, over the 10 day period. And while there is heavy involvement from the local arts schools, namely to volunteer at these events, a majority of those attending are other industry professionals. Why? Probably ego. Philadelphian’s are a proud lot. They love their Eagles, Flyers and Phillies (order depending on seasonal success), and are out to prove they are better than NYC. The hundreds of events taking place might actually convince you of that notion, you can’t attend them all, making your decision making during this time clutch. Not to mention the economic impact of these 10 days alone to the city is enough to make their Office of the Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy blush. Yes, that’s a real office in city hall.

What’s truly beautiful about DesignPhilly is the public exposure, regular old muggles literally trip over random street events showcasing something or other in the vicinity of design. It gets the term “design” out there, as if it wasn’t enough already, and opens up possibility of cross pollination amongst industries. This year, an interesting headliner is GhostFood, where users will experience eating, without physically eating, to show the future possibility of species extinction. Impactful much?

Now, cut back to Cincinnati Design Week. Draplin? Inspiring. Bravado. Proud to be American. Little Big Things? Beautiful. Intelligent. Simple. Floyd Johnson (OAtW)? Most. Diverse. Event. in OTR. Ever. Jessica Ivins? Ok, I missed it cause the Reds were on. But she’s from Happy Cog, in Philly, so couldn’t have been all bad. There were beautiful touches that I wish could have been expanded on more, like the opening reception food experience. Frances of FEAST is doing some truly inspiring things, wether it be pork products or cheese spreads. I would sit in a workshop about this any day. Same with Please. The lunchtime workshops are things I have said should happen regularly (weird, it seems like I am responding to things involving food). I should look into that. All in all the events were, fine, just not exactly Cincinnati, or what I guess I should have expected from Cincinnati.

In my two years here, I have seen this city do some amazing things. Things other struggling metropolis’ would love to see. I know there is a strong desire to change the punchline of every joke from Cincinnati to, I dunno, Boise. (I would say Detroit, but I can’t hit a city when it’s down). I’ve seen a boom of great food (event idea!!). I’ve seen a urban neighborhood redesigned (another event idea!!). I saw George Fucking Takei host the world famous Cincinnati Fucking Pops (why that wasn’t sold out every night is a dod gamn shame). I’ve met amazing, tight knit bloggers and activists. I’ve experienced movies in alleyways, and drank beer with goats. I’ve felt both pride and heartache with your baseball team. I’ve taught in your design schools, and I’ve looked at your local resource problems. I’ve scoped out this wonderful canvas, and begged for someone, anyone to step up. I want you to win Cincy. I want you to win hard. I want your designers to go on tours, and sell merch, and be in the CAC’s and MoMAs of all the other cities. I want you to speak up. I want you to swagger. I want you to own the mid-midwest. I want you to prove me right. That not only can you produce culturally profound work, but that it can get outside of the city’s borders. And no, putting a “Made by Proctor Gamble” sticker on it doesn’t count. Let’s show our Millenials things outside of OTR and show everyone else cool events can happen in places besides Washington Park.

Hopefully, this is just the start, it all has to begin somewhere right? But I challenge the design community here to want more. To expect more. I grew up being told design in America begins in Cincinnati (yes, seriously). We have more better designers here than the rest of the dod gamn  country, problem solved some of America’s biggest hurdles. Skyscrapers? No problem. Suspension bridges? Pssh give us a challenge. Prohibition? Oh we got this. Now is the time, Cincinnati, show the world.

The First 11 Things Out of Your Brand New 3D Printer

People seem to enjoy my Top 11 lists. So it seems that when the office gets a new toy, I immediately become the goto guy for the most absurdly, sardonic uses of the new found gadgetry. (Don’t even get me started on the 3D VR Glasses with accompanying “virtual hands”). But our latest toy is causing a bit of a stir, not just in the design community, but regular, common-folk households alike with the idea of it becoming common place in even my own mothers terminology. Welcome to the Star Trekkian world of 3D printing.Now, after we get past your initial, “ugh” sighs of there being yet another piece on 3D printing on the internet, allow me to entertain you, not with reasons why 3D printing will soon be commonplace, or how 3D Printing will save global commerce. It won’t. In either cases, and there are plenty of articles out there explaining why, but rather, the Top 11 things you will most likely print, now that you have a 3D printer.

11. Nothing. You thought it was a plug ‘n play thing didn’t you? Like that printer your wife got you last Christmas that prints all the photos directly from your outdated Casio point-and-click camera. See, while printing technology has advanced to the absurdity of automagical, 3D printers require a heck of a lot of knowledge to setup, run, and effectively create an object. If you have no knowledge of the 3D world, it’s programs, and multiple nuances, odds are this newfound printer will be as useful to you as a personal submarine is to someone in Idaho.

10. A mound of goo. Congratulations. You figured out how to make it actually do something. Unfortunately for you, that something is the modern day equivalent of a paper jam. On the bright side you could throw some paint on it, and give it to your dad for the age-old ashtray Fathers Day present, on the downside, all that material cost you upwards of $400.

9. The world’s most expensive desk puzzle. Trying to explain a 3D printer over family dinner falls onto the list of bad life decisions, not to mention the fact that even though you dropped a solid dime for this tin can, you haven’t had much success with it. So the next goto move would be to down a demo model that really shows off the intricate capabilities of your new, otherworldly gadget which in most cases is some annoying little puzzle game that will no-doubtedly adorn your desk for some time because you refuse to buy a Cosmojetz every time you walk into Design Within Reach.

8. Your super high-concept-social-media-driven-self-generating jewelry. Because of the high cost of materials, you have now decided jewelry is a good way to build some skills. Then, by pure accident you decide to throw some random math that pulls listings of #Sharknado into Grasshopper which translates it into a fractal mess that some hipster passing by happens to see and think was cool, offering you $10 for it. Suddenly, Ke$ha is all over Deadspin sporting your creation and you become the latest 15 minute 3D printing rage.

7. The (insert car/bike/chair here) of your dreams. I get it. You are an industrial designer, and for years technology hasn’t been able to keep up with your brilliance. This idea you’ve been struggling with in your head since college just isn’t ready for the world yet…or more correctly, the world isn’t ready for it. Forget material trial and error, what is this the 70s? Is my last name Eames? No. I want my idea out of my head now, or in the 16+ hours or so it will take the printer to make a 1/32 scale version of it.

6. Your own action figure. Since you fancy yourself a stud of a prototyping studio now, your buddy suggests during a craft beer infused happy hour that you purchase a 3D scanner. You do. And immediately upon arrival try to reproduce yourself, with action grip.

5. The Valentines/Birthday Anniversary present you forgot about. Since your significant other knows about your success with the 3D printer, (that is afterall how you met them, at the gallery show, of your latest piece of fractal wonder), you will have to produce something a bit more personal. Lucky for you, your recently purchased 3D scanner offers a wealth of possibility. See previous item for instance.

4. The knob/button/switch that broke off your retro television/radio/straticaster. Suddenly the honey-do list that pops up on occasion, most notably on Sundays during football season, seems a lot more manageable. The 1971 Zenith Cathode-Tubed Color TV in the basement that works and looks retro fabulous but has been missing the channel changing knob since you got angry during the ’86 Word Series Game 6? Fixed. The Atari 2400 in dire need of a power on/off toggle? Fixed. Even the gap in your 8 year-old child’s teeth begins to spawn options in your head.

3. A knife and spork. Once the new car smell of your printer wears off, and the tireless hours you are now spending in the studio begin to wear on you. What was once object d’art, is quickly becoming just objects, and much, much less art. Case in point. When you become overly immersed in a Core77 post, are about to dive head first into your lunch and sudden realize you left the silverware aaaaaaaaall the way back in the kitchen, somehow the fabrication of utensils is justified.

2. Another 3D printer. 3D Printers are so blasé. It’s time to move on. No longer does the sudden and rapid development of an object amuse you. In fact, it’s boring. If only 3D printers could just, do all the work themselves. Perhaps if a printer, printed another printer it would in some way become self aware and not need you at all. If only.

1. Anderson Davis. Clearly your thoughts have reverted back to pre-3D printing life

It’s Good to be the Queen

There are few days in your lifetime when you can get away with pretty much anything. Days without resolve, remorse or regret. Days to experiment. Days to be provocative. Days where you don’t need to follow up the next day with a bunch of “my bad” phones calls and texts. Days, to remember. For me, it’s my birthday. Not sure how or why it started, but each year I live vicariously through a historical figure. Living their final year as though it should have been lived had they known what was coming. It’s a dedication to them as much as a celebration of life for me. This year, I landed on Marie Antoinette. For no reason in particular. It had just occurred to me that I never thought of living vicariously through a woman before, and having played a mini stand in for mom recently, why not.

Those that know me are very familiar with my go-big-or-go-home mentality. It’s in my work ethic. My Superbowl parties. Hell, my thesis was literally making 6-foot crayons. So I was not going to settle for some meager pass off of Marie. No. She put herself out there. Was boisterous. Fashionable. Both revered and loathed. Basically a bunch of things I am not. Well, there may be some loathing. I spent so much time thinking and researching her as the woman personality, I never actually put much though into what the consequences of putting on a dress and walking around as A woman, even if for a few hours would Ohio of all places.


Now I, am perfectly content with my sexuality. This wasn’t meant to test that, or provoke. It was literally just a jovial, nonconsequential act of pure reverence. But, something shifted. The moment I pulled out the dress, my immediate thought was, “Shit, I need shoes.” My mind already trying to be, somewhat fashionable. What’s going on here?  Upon donning the dress, my first thought was, “Damn, this makes me look fat.” So I pulled at the front laces. Hard. I tried to force myself into something I thought, in my mind to be an object of beauty. Suddenly the words of Dustin Hoffman in his emotional breakdown about Tootsie started to ring in my eardrums. Nervousness, shot through my stomach and I began to feel sick, granted one could argue that was the dress’ excessive pressure on my waistline as the cause. But I kept searching for something, some accessory, some component that I could clutch or fan or something to rid myself of this sudden swarm of nervous energy. Then, I put on sunglasses. And I was fine. Like some sort of Cyclops moment, I was able to hide my eyes from the world. My fears, my anxieties. No one could see me, and Marie could come out and play.And play she did. The nights host of Neon’s served up just the kind of brilliant absurdity for this moment. Alex, my stunning crush of a bartender welcomed me with the perfect shot of Chartreuse, followed by some, creamsicle concoction (pinkies out). The Queen was now making her rounds. The people within Neon’s loved the company of the Queen. Pictures were taken. Hugs and kisses were handed out along with the two sheets of cake that accompanied me.* Editor’s note, it is imperative to have Kristen as your party planning sidekick. Girl gets it done. And what intrigued me the most, since Giacomo’s brain was just kicking back and taking it all in now, was the very same question, from everyone, and it’s the same question I got when I told people I had moved to Cincinnati on purpose. “Why?”Most, found great humor in it. Some accepted it whole heartedly. But there were a few. A nervous few whom I had made uncomfortable. You could see they didn’t quite know what I was. They couldn’t calculate a reasoning for this thing before them. And they definitely wanted no part of the cake. I became uncomfortable, and questioned for a brief moment, who I was, and what I was doing. It was brief, but it was still there. The Queen, would quickly take over, and jam those emotions down, hard and fast. Even the slightest thoughts on my own part of “how dare you judge me” had to just disappear. Disappear or it would envelop me. The Queen would have none of this. What little moments of uncomfortability I had in my own skin, soon washed away through loving embraces, laughter, and compliments. The official seal the deal moment came when a 6’6″ (with heels) tall of a woman with a deeper voice and a much, more fabulous physique in a dress than myself came up and said, “you are fabulous.” And that’s the thing isn’t it. It’s not just being accepted, but being complimented on how different you are. Visually showing the support system goes a long way.


Now, onto the polarizing part of the evening. See this party was destined to leave Neon’s and travel about the streets. Streets that are not Philly or NY where the weird is the norm and actually, kinda hard to spot sometimes. These streets are in Ohio. Let the stereotypes fall where they may in that statement. With me I have a vast support system of friends and revelers, who were into this story. They were part of The Queen’s entourage and I have no doubt as times wears on that this is infact a story they will retell with such colorful detail, and pass on like a beautiful virus, inspiring others. A little well-wishing I know, after all I am just a dude in a dress, but that’s not the point of it all. The point is to implant notions and ideas of destroying expectations and letting (insert anything here) flourish. It’s a butterfly flapping it’s wings.

Hopefully, the winds of change can destroy notions of those in suits sipping their fancy drinks, at rooftop bars that shall remain nameless, that called me gay or fag. Even if I was, so what? What is this need to categorize someone? As a designer, every day I need to judge and critique work before it gets seen by others. And I do so with vast amounts of prior knowledge, and intensive research on the subject matter. I do not make snap judgements because I dislike the color green. I critique based on reason or logic. So this night, I literally put myself in those shoes. The shoes of a woman that wanted to be beautiful, but was actually born a man. I didn’t mean too, that wasn’t the intention, but it happened. And I experienced a very, very, very small amount of hate. I didn’t like it. And trust me, to be able to still recall this through the haze that was this evening, is a very powerful thing.

I suppose society would be ok if we didn’t make knee-jerk reactions to things like race, income level, or sexual orientation. But we all have eyes and unfortunately a growing number of people with eyes also have smart phones, and putting tags onto things is what we do now right? Hashtag this and hashtag that. Tag who is in the photo with you. Tag your location. Tag you’re it. We are trying to categorize and store our memories into silos to be easily searched and culled through. The problem is, not everything fits into a perfect box, and no matter how brilliantly observant you are, you will never understand until you experience it yourself. So, how can we get everyone to experience tolerance? The Queen has an idea.

Put on your finest dress, and start someone a story. Be sure to bring cake.



Neon’s Shines too Bright

So, during my vacation I did a bunch of soul searching. When you hit your mid thirtysomethings you have a tendency to do this. Daily in fact. An entire laundry list of items fill this search, but generally coral around the existential, “why have I don’t nothing with my life?” and/or “what the hell am I doing with my life?” I consider both of these quandaries the exact same question, as should you. See my entire existence as evolved around being okay at  a lot of thing, but never really utilize what comes naturally. Well, 30 minutes back in the city that I have grow to love, my bestir Aaron asked me to grab a beer. “Sure, why not, not like I haven’t drank enough in the past 2 weeks, on a beach, in the sun, to do enough damage to whatever is left of my internal organs. Let’s get crafty.” And surprisingly enough, it was the destination, that mused me into writing this. To be fair, it’s a topic I was considering writing on a while ago when I first became learn-ed on the situation, but stayed away for various reason. Well, you know what? I found my calling, and dod gambit, I am going to write about it. There’s only roughly 6 occasional readers of this little blog so it’s not like I’m going to be erroneously offending someone. But this needs to be said, and I am the exact pessimistic asshole to do it. I love urban renewal. I love downtowns. I love creative license. But with great successes, there needs to be a polarizing criticism of what is being accomplished. Don’t worry. My opinions will change nothing, much like many other critics of the world. But we won’t learn unless things are questioned. So I take my new self-appointed position as a critic of all things Cincinnati. I do so, knowing very well, that I care about what is going on here very much, have found, in the past two years here, that it has, and will continue to flourish. So criticism at this time, should be taken with a fair amount of aloof. I am but a mere outsider, and like all critics, I don’t know the full story of the why’s or how’s or what-happened-heres. I am simply reacting to my experience. Enjoy, and feel free to rip me a new one below.


So. Neon’s. What the fuck.

I say this with the utmost love. You, were the first bar to accept me, and I you, when I first stumbled into this little one horse town. Having made my living in Philly, sauntering about the various dives and social scenes that did not require expensive tastes or backdoor password knowledge, I found you to be the perfect home to plump my bum. Your bartenders have just the right amount of attitude with the smile to match. Your craft beer selection was unique. Your ambiance was rustic and comfy. I found myself here daily even though there was no happy hour special (I have learned much since). But considering your craft beers were still half the price of Philly’s it seemed like the place to be. I suppose I should have picked up warning signs back then, the little “tweaks” that kept happening from time to time. Out door bar expansion, more seating outside. More mega Jengas. More, more and more craft beers coming in daily. Then, the one thing it was lacking, the one thing I truly missed form back home, was a bar with food. And it seemed as though your management/ownership had plucked into my brain mass and yanked that very thought, as moments later, Bill’s grill arrived.

All these changes, seemed innocent enough. Hell, my brain matter was asking for them constantly, which is what blinded me to the onslaught that was forth coming. Now, it’s safe to say, you’ve gone too far. The only thing that is the same are the bartenders, and depending on the night, you might not even get a chance to get within 10 feet of them to get their attention. The regulars you may have met in passing have become a revolving door of empty nesters, hipster-for-if-only-a-day, and people who simply needed to “find this place cause Yelp said so”.

Fuck you Yelp.

I had learned to adapt to the changes. Hit it up early on Friday and Saturday (if you must), be out by 8pm and all will be well. But, some more lights must have flicked on above Neon’s owners heads, cause now, even that routine is shattered. Part of me, definitely wanted to not even bother going into this, but after a return from the shore, helping my family re-establish it’s small business for the season, I don’t know. Perhaps the chord that was struck here just needs playing out. So here goes. You fucked up the food. Again, I go into this, not knowing a single fucking thing about the politics or decision making going on there. But hear me out.

When I heard Eli’s was opening a spot in OTR, my initial reaction was AWESOME!! which simmered down quickly to waitaminute after my knowledge of development and expansion hit the ole noggin. When Eli’s released their “sorry guys, it’s not happening” letter, you could literally feel a tremendous weight, lift off the shoulders of the owners who seemed flat out daunted by the task of expanding. Expanding is no laughing matter, and I applauded the honesty and depth of their explanation, they truly thought it out. Now Eli’s (which is an article to write about unto itself) could focus more on their current location without messing up, what in my mind is, BBQ gold. Then, Neon’s announced that they were going to feature Eli’s at the grill starting this summer.

I don’t know why, but my immediate response was being irked. I felt completely jaded, like the letter Eli’s released was a lie, and that Neon’s was just injecting a steroid into their already strong pectoral hold on OTR. On the Eli’s side, it seemed like they had no idea what they were getting into. They have been there on a Friday and Saturday night, right? The numbers Neon’s packs in in a two hour window is easily triple that of their entire day at the river location. So food wise, the quantity and prep alone is enough to damage the quality, which was, to my understanding what they were trying to avoid by not opening an OTR location. My mind flipped into store manager mode, and numbers started flying and, I don’t know, it just didn’t the time, like a brilliant idea. But, there are pros, maybe now the river location won’t be so packed. Maybe, Sunday afternoon Eli’s with a bloody mary will be just what the doc ordered. Who knows.

I started to try to balance that idea in my head. It still didn’t quite sit. Something is happening in OTR that needs to be brought to light. While the growth is being carefully monitored and repelling “chains”, the popularity of the independents is creating chains. How many Taste of Belgiums must we endure? How many similar restaurants owned by the same owners are going to spawn? Yes. Success should be rewarded. Stephen Starr owns pretty much every eatery in Philly, and he does so with the bravado of a man that, well, owns every restaurant in the city. But they all have his indelible over-produced fingerprint on it. It’s like watching a soap opera versus a night time drama, you can tell the difference simply by the film quality. I guess my point is, Bill’s grill had a unique fingerprint that fit perfectly with the vibe of not just Neon’s, but what OTR was about. Or at least the original spirit I felt 2 years ago. The 40 or so condiments representing the endless possibility. The “little bit of everything” for the meat eater and vegetarian alike without getting too crafty. The independent entrepreneur, who saw what we call in the design business, an “opportunity space”.

But in one fell swoop, and don’t sugar coat it, it was most certainly a swoop. Neon’s opitimises what OTR is unfortunately headed towards if it stays on this path. Forcing out of independents for others with brand equity. Less choices on the menu, and more of “this is what I’ll be serving you” this evening. And in the end, less possibility.

Tonight for instance, we were graced with $6 burgers that were in some manner “special” because they had caramelized onions on them, some sort of aoili sauce and were, “hand-pressed”. The result was something resembling mustard on a patty half the size that Bill served, over-cooked, and $1 more for the potato chips. Are you serious? Don’t get me wrong, I hate potato chips, but when you are three craft beers in and buzzing like a swarm of bees, they are the greatest thing on the planet. But now, after throwing the chip bags at us for free for two years, now, NOW they are $1?! I also don’t get my choice of honey BBQ jalapeño mustard? Or relish? Or pickle wedges? I kinda just wanted a sirloin burger. Or a Zee burger. But this is the problem, late night eats are hard to come by in OTR, on a Wednesday, so we are left with whatever they feel like serving. Or tacos.

I’d complain, but odds are whoever is running the show wouldn’t hear me over the absurdly loud live music blasting out on a Wednesday night. Shit, did I just walk into Motr by mistake? I must have, cause if I wanted live music I would have gone there. But I didn’t. I wanted to sit outside, grab a decent, affordable craft beer and a decent, affordable grilled burger, and have indecent conversation with my friend that i haven’t seen in two weeks. Now where is a guy to go? Neon’s, you’ve become your very own mega Jenga game. Pieces inexplicably balanced here and there. Pulled willy nilly by overly intoxicated fellows who claim to be engineers aka know-it-alls in their real lives. While also playing the urban hipster card thanks to their JackThreads app. Thank you Macklemore, for informing the bro’s and bro-ettes on thrift stores. Cause Urban Outfitters clearly wasn’t hitting them all. Ok, now I’m ranting. I apologize. I know change is inevitable. It comes with the rapid growth the area is experiencing. What I was hoping would come with growth is diversity, without the loss of identity, but I guess sometimes that’s just asking too much.

I know I am going to get flack for this article. It’s fine. I can take it. Again, I say all this with the utmost love, and respect for the community and what it has accomplished in such a short time. I guess, like most loves in my life, it changes because it wants to keep things fresh and different. I just want them to know, that, they didn’t need to keep changing, we liked you just the way you were, well, except for the bathrooms. Thanks for finally tackling the obvious.

Life’s a beach

It’s a cheesy title. Trust me I know. But I can picture nothing more fitting than this, especially recently. The complete gamut of emotions I’ve been thrown through during this “vacation” has left me more exhausted and more eager to my future than anything I’ve every experienced. I know I know, if you’ve read any  of my previous journal entries you are laughing at such a statement. But it’s true. I swear. See I had 15 vacation days I was super eager to use this year. But Sandy made sure I used a bunch early in January, and my mom having stage 2 cancer is making sure I use the rest. Which I am fine with. My “vacations” often entail me going to my Jersey shore home that I have known since 1981, and working in the shop. Not because I have to, mind you. Trust me. I’ve mastered the art of “letting go” and trust in the decision-making skills of a 16 year-old. No. Truth is I kind of enjoy it. It’s a hell of a lot easier than design work. And the results are immediate. To see a kid light up when you hand her/him a (insert bike/ice cream/surfboard here). It really doesn’t get much better than that.

But this year. This year it’s different. The storm that rolled in and out like a steamroller last year, left it’s footprint hard and fast in the air here. That’s truly the best way I can explain it. It’s like a presence, or a an invisible bruise. I tried not to venture into Holgate too much, as I didn’t want a reminder of what I saw only 6 months ago. But I didn’t need too. No amount of Stronger Than the Storm radio ads or hashtags could hide what I can feel. There’s just no people here. No energy. It’s actually fucking scary. I know I’m a small town kid that grew up in urban hustle and bustle, and I’ve spent a winter or two down here, and let me tell you, this is a ghost of a town right now. It feels like a Hollywood set, walking about. That if I just turned about the corner I would see the duct tape holding everything together. All the smiles and hi’s by the locals seem to be covering a fear and worry. A lot of businesses couldn’t handle coming back (mostly cause insurance screwed them in one form or another, don’t listen to the news, it’s wrong). The really strong businesses should be fine, they will take a hit but nothing compared to those who barely got it together.

I put my mom’s place in that category. Here’s a woman who put everyone ahead of herself during and well after Sandy, and just started on her renovations two months ago. The entire store, lost to damage. Electrical. Flooring. Subflooring. Plumbing. HVAC, oh and all the equipment and inventory. A reboot was needed. I ran the last one, in 2005. That was a little easier. I had about 6 months and I lived nearby. This time there was no time, no money, and no guarantee anyone would be coming back. Add on that my little sister now has to be shipped an hour away for schooling, and some pesky stage 2 cancer. Krakoooow. There’s lightning outside. When it rains it pours right? An optimal time for a flash storm. As I sit here writing this, pellets hit the roof as a reminder for me. This is what is was like, I did this for days on end and youu missed it. – Sandy. Bitch. Krakooooow.

So I came home for the 4th of July as usual. Instead of treading immediately to the beach, I tore open 14 brand new bicycles and began assembling. I cleared out the workshop, still full of sand, tossed parts, and tons of tools and stock now rendered completely useless. 14 more bikes were on the dockett the next day. Broken ice cream freezer. Broken Coke machines. New POS systems. New handicap ramps. It was chaos elegantly hidden under duct tape. Duct tape that my family did the best they could with in the time aloted. It’s brilliant, don’t get me wrong. I can’t believe it all came together. Well, that’s not true. I’m pretty sure mom could force World Peace to happen if she was so inclined. But thats what good moms do. They persevere through tremendous adversity, all while changing a diaper, scolding a teenager that burned down the garage while smoking and putting out their significant others clothes for the next day cause they can’t dress themselves. Moms balance the world. But I could se behind her eyes, she was done. Paper thin skin. A single mear negative and the water of Hoover Dam would come tumbling down. It was like walking on thin ice, in metal cleats, holding cement blocks and being forced to do a duet tap dance with Danny K. The cancer was taking it’s toll. Krakooow.

I’ve always had problems getting mom out of the store. It’s really not a complicated business. Yes. It has it’s moments. Like..reordering things..and I dunno, accounting for the correct amount of money in the register. You know, details. But its bikes and ice cream…40 feet from the Atlantic Ocean. But she worries. All of the employees are south of 18 years of age, so she worries. All the equipment could fail at the drop of a hat, so she worries. All the tourists are from NY or Philly and have their, quirks, so she worries. I was hoping when we adopted Alyssa that that would all change. But I think it’s gotten worse. I hope she takes her to the beach like she used to take me. And Mini golfing. And fishing. I hope Alyssa gets to see that side of her, not the worrying side. So I came on vacation to take away that worry, if only for 11 days, because that’s the only thing I know. She can focus on changing her lifestyle, getting her surgery, and being the amazing mom that I know she is. I can take care of the bikes and ice cream cause I’ve been doing that since I was 13. It’s simple to me. In fact it’s the only thing that’s a true constant in my life. It’s my therapy. Krakooom.

And it’s after that last strike, that things fall apart for me. On the day of the surgery, I fielded one too many calls asking question that I sort of knew the answers too, but didn’t want to talk about. I could do nothing but wait till I found a quiet spot, then scream until my throat hurt. I did all the stuff my mom normally does, open the store, sit there all day, order things, feed kid, walk dogs, wash things, clean house, field more calls, cook dinner, close store. Repeat. I am exhausted. And, now I feel like I am doing nothing with my life. I was asked, “Do I miss Cincinnati?” to which, I really have no response. Truthfully, I don’t know what I feel. I missed my hometown in Jersey. It feels good to be back and trying to help the community get back on it’s feet. I had the pleasure of hanging with the few friends who have had the most impact in my life, and oddly enough I have known them the shortest amount of time. Perhaps, that’s related. I don’t miss Philly. That much I know. Some people there yes, but overall, meh. Cincy though. I don’t know. I want to belong there. Something is telling me that that’s where I am supposed to be right now, but its hard to do when my family has been hit so hard this year. SO what to do?

I trudge on. In a mere 5 minutes I will hit post on this spewing of emotional meck, and go pack my bag to head back to Ohio tomorrow. Forever worried that someone, will do something to cut that paper thin skin my mom has right now, in turn ending up with a FOR SALE sign in the window. Why is that bad? I don’t know. I can’t tell you. The same feeling keeping me in Ohio right now is telling me that’s bad. Ok? Nope. I’ll return to Ohio and try to figure out why I am there. Why I don’t have a house yet, or my own business, or why I can’t fix my job, or why I am just flat out…flat. Regardless. The storm has subsided, and I can see the damage it’s left behind. And if you can see it, you can fix it.

What I meant to say is…

As posted from LivingInCin

There’s an amazing thing that happens when one gets on stage. With house lights in your face, your heart racing at roughly 258 miles per hour, sweat beading up on your brow, I believe it is what some people would call a panic attack. I seem to have developed an interesting way to shove that into a box set to self destruct after one actually leaves stage right. But I must confess it doesn’t go without side effects. Last Thursday I had the glorious honor of participating in IgniteCincinnati 9. Now I have spoken at these before, I love the format. 5 minutes. 20 slides. Go. But last Thursday was different. The event was bigger (500+ people). In a massive theater (Memorial Hall, gorgeous). And most importantly, I had no idea what my presentation was going to be when I got on stage. I had to make it up. On the spot. Ignite Karaoke is what they call it, I referred to it as social suicide.

I had been to these before at previous Ignites. Typically, they are trainwrecks that the sponsor seems to make their minions do to embarrass the hell out of them on stage. They are awkward. They are tedious. They are living somewhere between Seth MacFarlane’s Oscar performance and chewing on chalk, but I had an idea. I feel like, no, I knew that I had an idea about why. When I was nominated to speak at this last Ignite, I felt like I simply HAD to give it  a shot. This time though, there was a new twist. This time it wouldn’t be so all over the place, but instead would at least have a topic. Information Overload is Killing Us. Oh, indeed. Indeed it is. You see my idea was pretty simple. Pictures divert our normal thinking patterns and often throw so much dialog into these processes that it diverts us. The random photos up on the stage are, infact, so extremely random that we can’t process them fast enough let alone string them together into a conscious thought. Brilliant, yes..I will take this subject. I will take this gladly.


So, the original plan, was to basically come up with a speech, and blindly go into it. Adamantly not look at the slides as they appear, but rather just rant on the state-of-the-crisis that our youth will have to be facing. There was just one, minor, problem. I forgot every damn word.

Yes, that’s right. As soon as I stepped out on stage, and all the stares, and lights smacked me in the face, every single piece of what I was going to say just fell out of my head. Now, what happened was truly a tale to be told, by the Internets, whenever the video gets posted. But I really did want to say something worthwhile, that, as it turns out, Ignite Karaoke may not be the best venue for, cause people want to laugh. And it’s hard to prove any absurd notion when people are laughing. That being said, I give you, what I really meant to say.

My name is Giacomo, and I’m an infoholic. While most wake up and start their day with a cup of coffee, I prefer instagrammed photos of other peoples breakfast, as tweeted by 5chw4r7z. I get my news from Reddit, and I share more posts on Facebook than those obnoxious email chains that your grandma, sent to your grandma, sent to your mom, sent to me. And I know it’s killing me.

To understand this, you have to look at the history of communication. Of sharing stories. It usesd to be knowledge was passed, within the physical presence of another, think the written or spoken word. There was a tactile presence, body language, em-PHA-sis on the wrong si-LAH-bel. And such.

Then, something happened. We started playing with the air, and invented radio waves and phones. Then nearly 1000s and 1000s of years of communicating took a step off the cliff. Suddenly we were in each others ears, around the globe. We opened a blackhole that been gaining speed without ever asking what the consequence will be.

Soon, the greatest/worst invention on the planet, affectionately known as the television would enter the home, and nothing would ever be the same again. Physically written, cumbersome newspapers had to begin to give way to …nothingness as the forms of media began to shift.

Think about that for a moment. Think of all the steps involved in bringing a newspaper to fruition, and to do so at the speed it did was a miracle in and of itself. But you could trust it, it wouldn’t really, lie to you. But those airwaves. Something about the nothingness. It pulled us in like flies to light, and it always…ALWAYS lied.

War of the Worlds. Let it begin.

But we didn’t care. We loved not having to read anymore. It was so much faster. We loved not needing to imagine anymore, the tv shows are doing it for us! I no longer have to close my eyes and paint a world, I can keep them open and peer through this electric one.

We like to say print is dead, I like to say our brains are.

But its gotten worse hasn’t it? With TV came 24/7 faster than light information into our homes, then came the internet. It was quiet at first. Too quiet. Infact, it hadn’t really become the absurdly twisted amalgamation until after the quietest day on the planet for me. To my recolleciton anyways. Of 9/11.

It seemed, after that day, we subconsciously made a concerted effort to overshare. To continue to push this “always stay connected” bee hive mantra. Maybe that’s why all the bees left, one look around and they could see the crazy in our eyes. “C’mon guys I’m not liking the looks of this.”

We had a decent handle on technology and information, our generation does anyways. The 30somethings. We lived through Big walkmans and tiny headsets through to invisible music players and massive Beats by Dre enveloping our heads. No I’m not worried about us, I’m sorta/not really worried about the 20 somethings. No, its the kids I tell ya.

Maybe I’ll start to sound like my grandparents here, no I most certainly will, but kids today. Get off my damn social stream you whippersnappers! Perhaps we can trace it back to MTV, the O.G. YouTube, who seemed to prime our inherent A.D.D with 5 minutes “short films” about how Girls Just Wanna Have Fun or Summah, Summah, Summah-times in Philly.

It’s the kids today, who like many adults, face increasingly difficult times focusing, and getting into the proverbial “flow.” You know who you are. You have trouble getting things done at work. You wander during meetings. You tweet while also texting. You take pictures of your food instead of eating it.

You claim you are multitasking. To be clear, you aren’t. You are going through a series of tasks, not necessarily in any order, and those tasks are diverting you from the task at hand. No, you are not multitasking. Only about 2% of the population can multitask, and I’m pretty sure they are all mothers.

No, you lose focus, because you are surrounded by extremely visual, screens. Yes you. You that “doesn’t have a tv” that you proudly tweeted on your smartphone while watching the Colbert Report on your iPad. Nope. You don’t have a tv alright. But you’ve managed to get trapped in one.

And what are we doing, constantly creating new pathways to be “connected” what are the longterm consequences of all of this? We keep bitching about gun control, but mental illness is skyrocketing. Studies show kids under the age of 18 have a hard time focusing longer than 2 minutes when trying to accomplish..a task. A simple one. Like homework. After 10 minutes, forget it. They are lucky they remember their name let alone what they were doing.

Their heads are in the clouds..a virtual one. That we created. Now it used to be a wonderful thing to be in the clouds. We aspired to be up there at one point. We built taller buildings, and flew higher planes, just to challenge ourselves. MANKIND! WE FEAR NOTHING! Now, well, we don’t look up anymore. Instead, we look down. Trapped in a cell.

So in summary, I leave you with this. Data is not information, information is not knowledge, knowledge is not understanding, understanding is not wisdom. Be wise when is comes to how you share your life. With others. With your children. With yourself. Be wise, and maybe we can teach the world how to better understand and communicate with each other.

Now, hug your neighbor.

The Longest Yard

As posted from LivingInCin

Soft Launches. Love them or hate them, we all clamor about to be able to preach to the lands that we were the first to taste, see, smell be a part of something you have yet to experience. This, somehow makes us better than you, or at the very least, better at making connections, networking and/or being the sneaky bastards that we are to get a literal inside scoop. Funny thing though, is that depending on the size of place, a “soft launch” event has little to do with the actual experience of a venue, one that I hope this Little Chain That Could is quick to avoid.

Now, there’s going to be plenty of Yelp reviews, chatter, photos and the like about this place. It’s Cincinnati. We are starved for this stuff. Admittedly having heard a Yard House was dropping in on The Banks my immediate thought was “what’s next a TGIFriday’s?.” I generally don’t do chains, but having visited a YH in Denver, this particular chain is slightly different…slightly. Yes, chains provide a level of comfort value going into a strange place. You know what to expect. But on the flip side, you know what to expect. There’s a level of production that is truly just part of the corporate facade. Each one has the same vibe, energy, food, drink. I actually saw nothing in this latest YH to deter that thinking. For once I’d like a chain to embrace local culture a bit, and I don’t mean adding a few taps of local breweries. Seeing as this thing is parked next to the largest tourist draw this side of the river, it would be nice to educate people a bit. But, that isn’t the Bank’s mission. I’ll keep bitching about it, and they will keep not caring as they suck suburban wallets dry (literally once you see the prices here), but the machine churns on. That being said…

The food is great and you can’t beat the absurd amount of beers.

Architecturally, meh. The Yard House sits like a brick next to what I thought would be a standard-setting Morlein House. Amongst the exquisitely designed Smale parks, you will have something that looks like neither a yard nor a house, but rather a foundation for dark concrete monoliths to come. Amazingly sitting like a gigantic chalkboard, it still sits clean, untouched by the various taggers of Cincy as they seem to be distracted marking up places with actual personality in OTR.

photo 2

The inside doesn’t offer much in this regard either, unless the personality you are looking for is a pretentious NYer who “crafts beer on the weekends in between his triathlon training”. The selling point of 160+ taps requires a steely ceiling of pipes that vaguely remind me of bad windows screen-savers, lending to the acoustic impossibility of having a conversation. Now, this is also a bad side to soft launches, YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE HERE WHEN ITS PACKED. When will it be packed? Thursday through Saturdays, and probably all Reds games.

However, an interior palette such as this does leave for an interesting effect. The generally neutral tones allow for the people to make the space. The nod here, is that the days collective mass is full of the smartest, most character driven people in Cincy. The bloggers. The media types. The socialites. A veritable who’s who of Whoville all amongst you reveling in amazing conversation about food, about beer, and about injesting such libations and the afterward shenanigans that will ensue. People like 5chw4r7z. People like Charles & Ginny Tonic of the Charlie Tonic Hour. I love these people. Hence why, soft launches are quite deceiving, as you will not see this group of marvels collected until the next soft launch of the next thing by the new developer that most of us will gleam on as it is good for Cincy (it is), but will secretly wish it were something more (we will). Why? Because this city struggles with an identity. It struggles with a stigma. It struggles to maintain a downtown population, while in reality ….world, news flash, it’s not so bad. Does YH help erase the identity crisis? Maybe. A little. We seem to be embracing the brewery town heritage, so it most certainly doesn’t hurt. Can it be more? Absolutely. Am I simply asking too much of one place? Probably.

Other things to be wary of, just like Morlein, the setting sun is not your friend, come with sunglasses. Patience. With 100 blah blah taps to locate, and no discernable logic to their placement other than “by genre”, a bartender would have to be EXTREMELY knowledgable about beers to get to what you ordered quickly. The place is new, and beer-cianados they are not, so help yourself out by saying “I’ll take the Wheat (genre) beer White Rascal (name).” This will knock about 15 minutes off your wait. And as much as I love to drop the “Ah, whatever you think” There is a time and place for that. This isn’t one of them. The bar is too large, the taps are too many and the bartender has better things to do than to figure out your palette.

Finally, the last thing that is tough to gauge on soft launches, cause everything is, you know, free, would be price. When I first moved here a mere 18 (going on 68) months ago, a downtown happy hour lasted 5 hours, and totalled maybe $20. Now this could very well be why every five minutes I trip over some drunk hipster proclaiming his socialist ideals and bitching about the city being overrun by the petty bourgeois, but you will spend $20 in 5 minutes here, let alone 5 hours. As a lunchtime traveler amidst the downtown, this would definitely stretch that weekly budget, maybe even monthly.

So it offers yet another place along the river to go on datenight, along with Montgomery Inn, Morlein, and whomever else they feel like bringing in next. But I offer a challenge. For every Montgomery there is an Eli’s. For every Morlein, there is a BrewRiver. For every Yard House, there is a Terry’s. You don’t have to pump exhorbitant money into riverfront master plans. If you do truly want to show what Cincy is about; what is has to offer. Culturally. Gastronomically. Musically. Don’t overthink it. Don’t over produce it. Create a strip with the energy of Mainstreet USA that doesn’t create the pretentiousness of a forced urban oasis for suburbanites too scared to venture north past 7th street.

Or. Keep doing what you are doing and make millions, as you could drop a froyo down here and it would draw a crowd. Oh, wait.

The Forever Tweaker

Every designer creative will tell you that, in theory, a piece can forever be tweaked, changed and plucked and prodded on until the day they die. Notorious historical examples are abound in music, especially classical (see Bach, Tchaikovsky, et al.). If you really need a more pop reference I am sure you can give Mr. Lucas a call on that front. Although, in restropsect, handing over the reigns might be an interesting way to expand a universe rather than constantly rewriting it. In looking at pop music in general, what the factory initially pumps out is far less interesting than B-sides remixes and counterparts. So I commend Mr. Lucas for finally throwing in the towel and letting other creatives take the reigns. Truth is a creative mind wears over time. It becomes painted into corners and stiffled by “being to close”. Varying up your style can be a daunting process, not to unsimilar than throwing a boulder on your back and running a tough mudder. You fight. You claw. Tears fly and sometimes it defeats you. I have been defeated. Time and time again. Seeing other very ingenious artists often pushes my face deeper into the mud, as it is not inspiration anymore but some beautifully brilliant piece that I wish I had thought of first. That my brain had somehow reached out into the Creation Aura that sounds us and I, not then, had published it first, cause, duh, why wouldn’t I?

So getting back up requires pushing up with all fours, curling your back, rising from your belly button, through your mid-section, spine straightening up through your sits bones, and sitting tall. How do I sit tall? I go back to my favorite pieces of personal work. Athletic Logos. I know, someday that these pieces will be replaced and forgotten, hopefully not in my lifetime, but I recall every minute of these projects and the learnings within. I created a mark, that inspires large amounts of people for ages to come. When they are long graduated they will still nuzzle up on a cold night with their well-tattered sweatpants blasting out as they revel in March Madness. Theres even part of me out there that wonders if a sorority woman is galavanting around with a tramp stamp of my mark. Odds? Low. Payoff? Priceless.

The system in creating an athletic logo are intense. It’s not just a logo, or a typeface. It’s home, away, alternate, practice, athlete and consumer, coaches. To be honest during my younger years as a designer, these projects taught me more about looking at a system holistically more so than any education I received elsewhere. LaSalle, I’ve always felt closure with. Located in Philadelphia, the Explorers are a fairly large div 1 team in the A10 conference. It has 64 marks in the system, and have been used to some extent sparringly. As my virgin, cherry popping athletic logo experience, it’s not bad. A simple 2 color guy that fits well with the other Philadelphia Big 5. My sophomore effort, in a chance to come clean, is my favorite, but still feel like its the one that I didn’t finish.

During my time at 160over90, I had the pleasure to work on many college accounts, but none will compare to the very first one, of Chestnut Hill College. A little campus-that-could women’s only educational space in the outskirts of Philly. well, once they opened up the doors for men, an athletic department explosion was very soon to follow, so work began on branding the Griffins. Having already put LaSalle to bed with ease, I felt more than confident CHC would be a breeze, and in all honesty, it was. But it’s not finished. To 160 it is. To the school it is. But the Griffin’s of whom I have a big heart for, I know it can be better. This was one of the last projects I had worked on before my leave. So the concepts were fairly polished, but I never had that complete system closure like I did with LaSalle, but when I get nostalgic and check in with my children to see how they have grown up, I get blown away.

See, LaSalle was extremely refined and had very tight rules. I had each mark worked out for the 4 colors it would ever appear. With CHC I had only worked out the major pieces, never locked up the system. And this tiny athletic program was left to use it at their leisure, but the thing is. I screwed up. Without thinking and just creating, I made a 4 color sleak and aggressive griffin that strikes fear in all of the other div II CACC teams. I mean seriously, in comparison it makes the other schools logos look like fingerpaintings. So in that sense its a win. I honed the “CH” tirelessly. It actually the best part of the system. It has an extremely layered sensibility and the piping around in gold and red was just…well, I love gold and red. Regardless, I had a “griffins” “chestnut hill” and a “g” and a “griffin” all made, but yeah, never quite tweaked them to completion. The whitespacing is off on all the typefaces. The griffin is too complex and has too many colors. The “g” is just flat out unusable. But that doesn’t stop this little college that could. And thats the inherent beauty. With no system, they manage to produce striking uniforms on what I am sure is a tight budget for this little-school-on-the-hill.

I never got to see my marks in action, so I live vicariously through the photos that pop up on the web site. Personally I did the Men’s goalie which has the CH on black. The women’s tennis unis are top notch, and seeing the “Griffins” on the men’s baseball is both proud and irksome as I know it can be better. I do love the group shots on center court though. Seeing the Grif in all his glory, ready to pounce, standing tall atop the “Slayer” inspired Chestnut Hill typeface, honestly makes me proud. And seeing how CHC continues to utilize each of these pieces in its ever growing program, damn near brings a tear to my eye, as they clearly show massive pride in what the marks represent, regardless of my screwups. Seeing them today, I was able to get on all fours, and rise again. You have reminded me how far I have come, and how much further I have to go. So, I bought the last CH red and gold hat you had, even though it won’t fit me, and I will cheer for you every day, because a cheer for you is a step forward for me. Keep Climbing and Fly Along.


Pilates & Cheap Beer

As posted from LivingInCin

There is a level of self surprising that I am starting to go through. If you would have approached me 2 years ago and said, “Giac, soon you will have more hobbies than you can count. More adventures than you can dream up. More miles explored. All you have to do is move to Ohio.” I would have simply laughed at your obviously intoxicated diatribe and moved on. One of the many jaunts in my personal self discovery was an interesting bit I like to blame on the Sunshine Complex. The Sunshine Complex is quite simply this. Being an East Coaster that works east coast hours (roughly 9 to 9, 6 days a week, give or take a full day), you learn to give up on a few things. Namely, sunlight. It’s the easiest thing to cut out. Surrounded by tall, dark and unhandsome monoliths of concrete and steel, sunshine is easily taken for granted. Many urban offices don’t even have cubicles along a window, let alone a few slivers of natural light creeping through to your desk plant. Regardless, your activities quickly become those of nocturnal. Drinking. Dancing. 24-hour diners. Those things just come easy. What can be more difficult, especially if you are not inclinded to use some of your precious time, could be actual, healthier aspirations. Thus, experiencing the Mid-West slowdown, leaving work at 5..ish. and seeing all the wonderful people out and about in the sunlight, can give you a complex.Yes. The scenic vistas filled with active joggers, cyclists, hikers, and generally attractive Mid-Westerns brought this city boy to wonder about his own personal goals. So what started as a simple design experience in activity theory on my own personal behavioral drivers, quickly turned into a game of catchup to the German infueld, blonde haired blue eyed marathoners of the Zin. Diets, workouts, sports teams. p90, Insanity, jogging, running, sprinting. Quickly, I surmised. This sucks. While the benefits have been awesome, higher energy, weightloss, less depression, truth is I am not much of a creature of habit. I can’t do the same day twice. Which, is actually kind of a requirement for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. No, it took a pulled stomach muscle from volleyball to kick my ass in gear. And when my ass landed firmly 3 doors down at Pure Pilates, the fun really began. Now, I by no means intended to turn into a health nut. I live for beer, burgers, and about a 30 other ingredients which may or may not involve bacon, Doritos, ranch dressing and maple syrup. But something happened a session or two into my Pilates training with Jaime Zender. I liked it. I’m still terrible with the terminology and the focus, but my body seems to enjoy the fact that it can do a sit up. Now, mock me if you will, but for the observant, most successful exercise routines, or fads as I like to call them, are based in some similar techniques. Form. Will. And a trainer able to keep you recognizing both of these can change your life.


I’ve dabbled in various motivators over time. Visuals. Music. Turns out I just needed a little faith in myself, and the soreness of unknown muscles brought about by the absurd resistance Pilates puts onto your body. Tree. Swan. Midlines. The assortment of unique equipment leaves me wondering if it was plucked from an 18th century designer torture chamber from a castle somewhere along the hills of Vendée. My motivator is now simply proving I can do it, more so than anything else. So this core is spoken for, now what of the rest of my routine?

Cincy has some of the most absurd landscapes I have personally lived in. Philly is dirty and dingy and odds are, the view from your bedroom window leaves you feeling something similar to aversion/conversion therapy from Dr. Oliver Thredson. The shore, well, I took it for granted. The shore has a beautiful serenity. A different serenity. But no, Ohio is grand. The sun creates beautiful paths slicing through mountains and rivers. Looking out at them I actually have the urge, no, need, to run. To chase the creeping nature like a child in a field. I felt young again. Alive. Well, my shins and chest and knees…all reminded me that I am not a child. Anymore. But, I am getting stronger. The weight is slowly slinking off. I eat slightly, better. No breads, little dairy, lots of beef, greens and beans. I have become conscious of what I intake, and my colon has responded in kind. Now, what I have not given up, is beer.

Between all the beerfests, beer weeks, beer-ness that is this lovely Losantaville, I simply cannot ignore the lovely nectar that Ben Franklin himself lived on daily. And if that wisecracking, pudgy, problem solver can throw it back and still get the ladies, then by God I can figure it out too. Now, craft beers have a high carb/calorie count. I could go into a symantic breakdown of what is better for you, more shit beer, or less craft beers. We could philosophize to no end about such a thing. Truth is I go by the “clear liquid” theory on most nights out. But there is one fabulous moment that I look forward too after an hour of Pilates, and a 3 mile sprint. The glorious cold wash down my throat brought about by pounding a cheap ass beer. Cheep ass beer, as defined by anything that comes in packs of 30 for under $10, is gloriously drinkable. Unlike a fine craft where you want to savor the roasted hops, regional barleys or nods of fruits, cheap ass bee (aka shit beer, cat piss, natty or the like) gives you the thirst quenching pleasure of water, with the devilish back-of-the-mind-snickering-like-a-schoolboy-that-got-away-with-cheating-on-trig feeling of downing a cold one after just putting your body through hell so that all the little lines apear between your muscles before June hits and your now redneckified ass is going to be floating, on a boat in a lake, with all the other highly attractive people of Ohio.

So damn you Ohio. Damn you for being so attractive, and giving me my little Sunlight Complex. And thank you. Now, throw me a Hudy.

Fight or Flight

For those unfamiliar with the above title, fight or flight is an amazing concept first observed and documented by Walter Cannon. To completely copy-and-paste from Wikineedia, fight or flight is in essence “how animals react to threats with a general discharge of the sympathetic nervous system, priming the animal for fighting or fleeing.” Now, the big super obvious way of observing this is, zebra eats grass, zebra sees lion, lion sees zebra, zebra either craps itself and takes it, or starts his ass running. What is not so easy to observe is how we, as human (less lion fodder), attack our own scenarios. For me, lately, I flounder back and forth on both. I guess lately I’ve left myself wondering if that’s necessarily a bad thing. In certain areas at least, sticking it out and trying something different, fighting your own instincts if you will, seems like a good idea. The downside is it is mentally exhausting. Incredibly exhausting actually. After 35 years of fighting for let’s say, what your heart wants, you realize that for your own personal health, it’s time to stop the fight. Ohio, was both a Fight and Flee response for me. Philly had officially kicked my ass, and rather than sit there with my carcass getting picked at, I fled to fight another day. It was an unnatural move for me. I broke every comfort zone I had ever known, and walked into this wonderful ponderosa. Ever since then I’ve been a virtual yes man, giving in to every challenge asked of me. Ben and I became explorers in a foreign land. My life became an act of fighting, as opposed to a literal one. The heart and body began to heal as I broke my own personal norms. As far as norms go, I can also say every relationship I’ve come across here in the Oh, hi is also not exactly normal. Or what modern #firstworld society would consider normal. I suppose that’s what makes the search so interesting. Interesting but lonely. I’ve been catfished (x2) by some, ignored by others, overanalyzed by the polyamourus, and ignored by the monogomists. I can’t spell either of those things, but one thing is for sure, I think for my own personal well-being, I am giving up “the search” as it goes. So my fight, for love, will now be constantly fleeing. The real trick here, is to not turn into my grandmother.My grandmother is alone. A lot of family members have a lot to say about her. Some rather colorful adjectives in fact. There’s two things that scare me right now, that align me with her. A. She gave up on relationships long ago. It was her choice and I’ll be damned if she didn’t have the discipline and resolve to stick with it. This resulted in B. her alienating loved ones because she “fleed” from a loving relationship. G-ma is brash, she speaks without caring about consequence (something I’ve had a knack for since youth), and quite frankly, she is mean. Even her dog is mean, ironically named Buddy, that little fucker sure isn’t yours. So my trick in abandoning Eros, maybe even Venus and a share of Storge, is to not turn into grandma. I think I am going to try to fill that little void with Agape. Diving into charity work and really helping others like I intended in grad school. Yup. That’s where I’ll build my house. Now, my list of exes is, ex-stensive (see what I did there?), and I have done my fair share to add them to that wonderful list. Truth is, I am tired of adding pages. For the wrong people I’ve tried to be something I’m not, and for the right ones I simply didn’t have the resolve and did wrong by you. Either way, I hurt myself. So for that, I start running. Now.

I Once Had a Dog Named Sandy

I also once lived on an island, known by the moniker LBI. Long Beach Island, it’s a funny place. It’s not overly exciting compared to say a, Puerto Rico. It’s not glamorous like the Keys. But when you visit, it traps you. A good trapping, not a bad one, at least by Jersey shore standards. So it is quite humbling, to see the place I have lived, loved, etc, literally get washed away. It’s an island. It’s the inherent risk, for sure. It’s the same risk one would take living in LA via Earthquakes, or NY and its alien invasions. My mom is on this island right now. Not because she chose to stay, but rather because she is the Deputy Coordinator of Emergency Management. She has to be there. She has to somehow keep it all together, as nature washes away an entire island, so that she can get in a really big truck, and drive around to save some really stupid people. Ok, “stupid” is probably harsh, as I understand the comforts that home brings, especially feeling so unconnected to one right now. But seriously people, its an island, approximately 3 feet on average above sea level, and this this is rolling in harder than Lil Wayne…as my buddy Jake would say, “You stoopid.”

The devastation that the Jersey shore has seen, will likely (hopefully) not be matched anytime soon. The Atlantic City boardwalk, made famous by Boardwalk Empire and a rather droll Steve Buscemi? Gone. The Seaside Heights boardwalk, made famous, unfortunately, by the likes of Snooki and Pauli D, where I have memories of my dad’s band playing the clubs during the summer, while I galavanted around throwing rings onto glass bottles, and darts at balloons. Gone. And as to the LBI boardwalk? Well that washed away in 1918, but one place, one chosen namesake that was to represent the feeling and memories of those others previously mentioned, stands strong. And it’s my mom’s shop, The Boardwalk, on LBI. So here’s to you mom, stand strong, save those lives, and get that shop ready for summer, you are the last boardwalk standing.

The Mourning After

There’s a few moments in my life, that inherently tie me to a city. In NY, there was moments of glamour, and culture, and ridiculousness. Like the time I was introduced to Harry Potter because the line at the Union Square Barnes & Noble was absurdly long and full of people dressed in robes. In my possibly inebriated state I stood there, staring, until a young wizard told me to come join them…in line…at midnight…for a book. A children’s book mind you. Through all the chaos that is NY, this moment defined the city for me. It’s magical, and unexpected.

In Philly, well, there are good moments, but truth of the matter is, the city is defined to me perfectly by the : 2 cars and 8 bikes stolen, 1 random act of being punched in the face by a stranger and knowing police by their first name. [Editor’s Note: assume that is not a good thing]. But that’s Philly. As the bastard child of New York, it has an over aggressive chip on its shoulder. It wants to constantly prove how much better it is than the City of Boroughs. Where it plays out in intensity, is sports. No where in my life have I seen such a disgusting display of immoral frivality. During my time there, the Eagles were amazing, the Flyers were consistently awesome (that’s professional hockey for those not in the know), and the Phillies almost got dy-Nasty. Problem was, the people didn’t deserve it. Flat out. They were so ungrateful for the things they had. It played out like sheer greed, you give the kids cookies and they ask for milk. So when the Phils won the World Series, I was torn. My first thought was, “Fine. Finally these people can get it out of their system.” It was almost title town at the time, Eagles were doing well, heck even the Sixers were slated to win something. Maybe, just maybe this will fix this towns inherent problem with aggression. Nope. Gameday violence actually increased. Locals began to get outright feverish. It wasn’t good enough to win, now they felt like they deserved to just be given a title every year. Again, this isn’t the entire population, and I shouldn’t judge them like this, I know. I have a lot of friends that I was notably happy for, but the majority rules, and quite frankly, I think Philly is proud of their machismo.

Thus, bringing me to Cincy. Every time I tell people I “moved here on purpose” or that I “recently moved to Cincinnati” it is almost immediately followed up by a look of perplexion and a “Why?” and/or “On purpose?” Truth is, Cincy and its people have fully embraced me, not as its own, I think it enjoys having an “outside consultant” just strolling around making comments. But, the City Ashamed to be Proud of Itself, for whatever reason, found its stride. Not that the love of baseball has gone anywhere here. Not by any means. But as a perennial Mets fan, I can tell you, its VERY hard to dislike the Reds. The Reds, while I wasn’t here during the “cash the check years”, embodied everything I experienced growing up playing baseball. Who are the Reds? Egoless. Skilled. Humble. And now, Heartbroken. Again, the perfect definition of Cincy, and now I understand. You all deserved this World Series, so the world at large, least the nation can see Cincy’s possibility.

The Reds broke my heart, after such a wonderful 5 month relationship (longest I’ve had here so far, might as well get that in before Zender makes the comment). As an adopted fan, I am angry with Rollens, second guessing Dusty, wondering when Votto will get his power back, but, something about waking up here, in Cincy, the City the Takes a Beating, I am ok with it, and have fully embraced your catchphrase. So without further ado, lift one to the Reds for a tremendous showing, and…

Just wait till next year.

World from a Shopping Cart

I live a visual lifestyle. I hate words. Ask any copywriter I’ve worked with and they will tell you how whiney I get when they keep adding them to things. They are long, complicated, and often times adding an “a” or “the” will make the rag go form perfect to terrible, and kick down a four letter widow. Words. Bleh.

They get especially annoying in visualizations. Info is, well, daunting. It crowds, it muddies, our own dyslexias misconstrue and confound. Which is why I often love to resort to the age old adage I learned while being toted around in a shopping cart. Let’s face it, there isn’t much to do being 2 feet tall, besides imagining you are in a crazy mobil prisoner, then to watch mom do a side by side comparison of the various nefarious fruits and vegetables I’ll be forced to consume for dinner later. Tomatos. Cantalopes, Lift, poke, color, size. Without the use of any words whatsoever, the fate of nature lies in the balance. Literally. Suddenly, mother become a human scale, left, right, left, right. It’s my own childhood Thunderdome. 2 fruit enter, 1 fruit leaves.

Of course, in the world of trending, this is pretty much the best weapon we have. Placing similar objects next to each other gives us all the insight we need to further a project. Things get REALLY interesting though, when you inadvertently start to apply this. I realized this while sitting in Taqueria Mercado watching the MLS game of the week. The game of the week, is often considered the best matchup that would bring high scoring and weekly ratings. But Euro Cup this isn’t. Having been watching Germany, Italy, England and the nauseating Spanish for the better part of a month, going back to MLS is almost laughable. Now, I love me some Donovan. I’m a huge fan of the Union. But the side-by-side comparison isn’t pretty. With all the talk of how far we’ve come, there’s much further to go.

Next up, cities. You’ve all heard my poetic love for Philadelphia. It’s all the good parts of NYC (culture, food, people) without all the bad parts (cost, size, …cost). Recently I had a chance to literally, go from the best Cincy has to offer (a tremendous weekend out and about with friends), to an evening back in Philly (also with friends), to a week back in Jersey. Ok, so you can all mark the date, cause I am going to have it written in documented form here. Like Cincy. I think it’s quite an interesting little city. It was growing on me in leaps and bounds, and dare I say the weekend I wish to reference actually had me thinking, I was back East, if only for a moment. Then, came Philly. One, not even that crazy night, meeting up with friends past, quickly reminded me how far Cincy has to go. In the 8 months I have been gone, so much has sprouted up. More people. More hotspots. More neighborhoods. The city is growing faster than the lawn of the abandoned house next to mine. The speed difference has always bothered me. The side-by-side really put it into perspective however. I don’t know if it’s more driven people, or just the sheer number of them, per square foot in each city that makes the difference.

I always joke and say its like hitting Command+S, grabbing the corner of NYC and scaling down. But, it’s different. The SbS reveals so much more. Density, color, height, weight, food, diversity, art. It’s not just scaled down, it’s flat out different. Over the next few weeks I am going to try to make apps to show these. Again these are just visual observations, made within hours of each other. It’s hard to capture feeling, but we’ll see what we can do.

It’s the Little Things, Reiterated

So, there’s been a lot to say lately about the thriving metropolis that is this Cincinnati. Personally, I was hoping to do a riveting piece about remote controls and it’s history of human interaction with machine before even touching the subject of Cincy again. But, it seems everyone wants to know what I think of this villa. Still. So I might as well have at it, shall we?

*The opinions expressed in this blog post in no way reflect the opinions of the productions company of said blog. So hold the rotten vegetables, and keep the tarring for the winter months.

So this article from has been all a flutter this weekend boasting that Cincinnati is the hip and trendy spot of Ohio. Understandable. I can’t argue this. Please people, keep in mind the baseline here is Cleveland. Now I don’t have any issues with the article itself, or the sense of pride it should give the residents. Actually, for the first time in a while, I am proud of y’all. This little moment of braggard-ness looks good on you. Flaunt it. But don’t get comfy.

Yes. You have all made leaps and bounds over the past decade, as I am constantly reminded. Your waterfront is actually quite beautiful, and can only get better. I have actually never seen such bustle and activity. It’s a different activity than that of NY’s seaports, and Philly can only dream of attaining a fraction of what you have accomplished here. All I am going to say, respectfully, is don’t settle.

Politics here are a bear. More so than any I’ve ever seen or experienced. I’ve heard many a fabulous idea get smothered, or cast aside with nothing more than a learning glare. But don’t settle. You are all fighting, that is what makes you great, not the new fancy bars or the new shiny object. Just do not settle. There’s more to be done. Being called “the best in Ohio” is a start. Don’t settle. There’s more to be done. So long as there are plywooded blocks and abandoned neighborhoods. There is work to be done. So long as there is no walkable food source. There is work to be done. So long as non-Ohioans, cringe when the word “Cincinnati” comes out of people’s mouth. There is work to be done. When someone can’t walk out of their house, at say, 10pm so grab an honest slice of pizza. There is work to be done. On the day that you can walk into a decent coffee house, that isn’t Starbucks, open your laptop and enjoy some artisan biscotti on a Saturday afternoon, not just in Northside…there is work to be done.

Now, I graciously admit that those simply add to the “trendiness” and there are larger problems at hand, but really, it’s the little things. It’s the little things that inspire greater things. You don’t need grand gestures. You don’t need massive redevelopment plans. Hell, you don’t need to even agree. But you do need, small, simple, little, things. Things like a cup of coffee, or a slice of pizza, or a smoothie, or a deli, or the drummer guy on the corner. Little things, begat bigger things. It’s the little things that give neighborhoods a “tone” or “personality.” That personally that resonates with us growing up as children, into the adults that we become. I am proud for you Cincy, and I too want to help. It’s downright inspiring. Now…how the hell does one get their hands on all this abandoned land?!?

Ok, as you were.

11 Things That DO Work in Ohio

Sometimes I forget how public this whole universe of the Internets is. I admit I am, humbled, often, by the fact that people read my words and want to start a conversation. I’ve been taking a while with this one, because I want to do a great respect to it. My latest online compadres have show as much if not more respect than I have ever experienced in reality, let alone this virtual dumping ground. With that, I honor my previous promise of positivity. Prompty. So without further ado, I give you, “11 Things That DO Work in Ohio.”

Honorable Mention #12: Elections. For the rest of the US, Ohio is the great decider. Forever the Magic 8-Ball of presidential elections, this wonderful little swing state has some amazing politics going on. Having grown up in a predominantly Democrat zone my entire life, we are basically at the mercy of whatever the Blues feel like supporting. Not that they have been all bad decisions, but being in an area whose politics COMPLETELY drives its growth, and even divides communities, is refreshingly complex.

11. Drinking. Bare with me. My East Coast patriots will naively say “Well what else is there to do?” But after stumbling onto some history, they should be thanking this little metropolis for some of its wares, in the not-what-you-are-thinking sense. While Philly can brag about being the city of firsts, especially beer (I’ll be addressing this in a project launching shortly), Cincy gave us wine. Yes, wine. I love that. So between the wine, the incoming Germans and their beer, and the ‘Merican bourbonizing, truly, Cin City is at the center of it all. So drink on that.

10. Opportunity. From Cleveland, to Columbus, to Dayton, to Cincinnati to hell, this whole state, there are PLENTY of moments for someone with an idea, a dream, a business, to step up and start something. And, unlike its east coast counterparts, is much cheaper to do so. I would actually encourage any east coasters struggling with a thought, to try it out here first. This was the prototype city for NYC afterall. They might have gotten the full size versions, but they wouldn’t have happened at all if not for Southern Ohios ingenuity. Could have avoided that whole cupcake trend entirely if it went through here first. Shame on y’all.

– which brings me to…

9. Support. People here want something new. They want to see success bred through opportunity. From what I can gather, the evolution of OTR has happened through the sheer will of it’s people. And that’s amazing. Optimism is surprisingly hard to come by unless you are part of these movements, but having been through a few myself, I can see it, and I believe in it. You should too.

8. Social Media. There will be a tipping point to all of these 147 characters or less shout outs. I actually setup 2 personas on various social networks just to view the “static” from 2 cities. Oddly enough, the streams from the larger city roll by too quickly to follow, while the streams from Ohio are digestable. Shocking right? I do think that there is some “congealing” that needs to happen here in order for more people to be “in the know” or to participate, but at least you aren’t missing anything.

7. Running. Man you people like your fitness. I thought I had an average ability to moderately run at least 3 miles in a fairly acceptable time.  Of course, I trained in Philly, where geography is lacking. Translation: No hills. The sheer ease at which you all run from Hyde Park through Eden Park down to the Waterfront through OTR and back makes my heart want to explode just thinking about it. Flying Pig? Yeah…I need one.

6. Sustainability. I should probably define my idea of sustainability. Quite simply, it’s not buying new things, and refurbishing old ones. When we design things, and make things, you have to realize that there is a permanence to it. Doctors have hippa, designers should have one. We are denting the Earth at will, and without warrant. </rant> But there are no shortages of antique, reuse, and junkyards around here, and they haven’t been pillaged by Urban Outfitters yet. And don’t even get me started on the flea markets, where the art of haggling is still alive and well, but it’s not over $10 or $20, but rather $1 or $2. My recently refurbed Faux Eames Lounge thanks you.

5. Professional Baseball. Does this really need explaining? I’ll note the differences anyways. $7 tickets on gameday. Accessible stadium. Amazing fans. The color red. Even if we go the Cleveland route, the Indians are the subject of the greatest sports movie ever made, and have a logo that is always smiling, just like the people in the stands, win or lose. Take a lesson, Philly.

4. College Sports. See previous NCAA Elite Eight. Fin.

3. Waterfronts. Many cities struggle with this. They go under developed, polluted, secluded. It’s ironic that these veins of water that once established our cities throughout the US have become so mistreated. We have always been a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately society, but it’s time to void that line of thinking. Waterfronts are to be celebrated. No where has this movement been so inspiring as in downtown Cincinnati, were what seems to be a decades worth of effort is finally coming to fruition. You rock out those LEDs, Cincy, we’ll figure out the rest.

2. Design. I need some statistics on this, but I feel like there are more designers per capita here than anywhere I’ve ever been. Industrial. Strategic. Graphic. And what’s more important, all those feel good thoughts you may have had in college like ”I want to make a difference” or “I want to change the world” is possible here with companies like P&G pumping out products that actually have an impact. Now, here’s the trick, how do we get these said designers up and at em? If anything the design community here seems a bit secluded. There are pockets, but those pockets don’t seem genuinely energized, and their attempts are muted well below what other cities have accomplished. Granted NY is NY, but Philly took an actual stance and vowed to have design drive many of its agendas. They even went and created an Office for the Creative Economy of the city. Again, I love the designers here, I just want them to do something. Myself included.

1. People. There is something truly different about the people here. People smile. Strangers say hello, people say “please” a lot more often. I like to call it moral adjustment. In my last post I said that Egos don’t work here, in a comment someone said that they don’t work anywhere, and while I agree with that sentiment, it’s just not how some cities operate. Egos drive the day-to-day in a lot of cities. They make up the stereotype that the rest of the world thinks of them as.  NYers, are NYers. I say that knowing full well that whomever is reading this realizes the size that ego must have to be a “NYer.” Philly has a jaded ego, forever being the little bitch of NY I suppose, but there is definitely a certain swagger than Philadelphians have. It’s witty, it’s fiery, it’s smart, it is by no means classy, nor do they expect outsiders to think of them as such. Ohioans, are just different. You display an intense amount of humility. You don’t brag, (college sports aside). Prideful, but not arrogant (again, college alums aside). As a populace, hands down some of the nicest folk I have had the pleasure of meeting. You move at your pace, not the rest of the worlds. You live life. You don’t live for work, but you do work for a living. And most importantly you listen before reacting.

Accepting of total strangers, and always looking to comfort them, I would say that Ohio is the pillow to the U.S. bed. At times you need to shape it and mold it to get comfortable, but once you lay your head down, she will take care of you.

Dislike. 11 Things that just DO NOT work in Ohio

11. Public Transportation. Waaaay to much space, badly planned urban sprawl, general tomfoolery

10. BYOBs. Not sure why, actually, since every store from the local CVS to the gas station on the corner sells alcohol. But that little acronym just flat out doesn’t fly around here.

9. Late Night Bites. Your choices? Taco Hell, some random chili diner, or Kentucky. Either way, your next day is not going to go very well.

8. Casual Biking. Hills, hills..distance and more hills, prevent the casual bicycler from say, taking a leisurely ride along the Ohio…in most instances. But, if you are super hardcore, or enjoy impressing people with your knowledge of Lance Armstrong outfits, you will do well here.

7. East Coast League Nights. Granted, I am the new kid at school, but for the first time in my life, I am not exactly making friends at bowling. The sheer focus, and Ivan Drago mentality that most bowlers display on the lanes reminds me of the times I would get yelled at at the Blackjack table for hitting when the dealer is showing under a 7. Either way, one of these days I’ll cut the damn Russian and at least earn his respect.

6. Egos. Technically, these shouldn’t work anywhere. But don’t try to bring a Jersey Shore, Long Island, Boston, East Coast, Philly, anything to the party. You won’t clash with anyone here, you will just stand out…a lot. They serve humble pie out here, and it tastes good.

5. Fake Southern Accents. Much like a Fake British Accent, the real McCoys know when you are mocking them with a non-authentic drawl, and administer punishment accordingly.

4. Subarus. Actually, this might extend to many overseas car types, but when trying to work on, find parts for, or general maintenance on said vehicle, the best response I’ve had to date was, “Subaru? Who makes that GM?.” So one must take to obsessive online forum stalking to get the job done.

3. Vegetarian Selections. It’s not that there aren’t any, but Ohio certainly doesn’t offer making the option to switch as easy as some coastline city counterparts. Yes it requires a bit more home cooking, but on the flip side there are many local organic farm options.

2. Roast Pork Sammy’s and Pizza. Having been in the city of Porkopolis for a good many months now, I am appalled that this isn’t the staple food item on every corner. Hell I’ll take A food item on A corner. The pork of choice is either Barbecued, Smoked, or Weinerized. The “pizza” of choice is well….not.

1. Online dating. Most people out here found their very normal, very one and only in high school, leaving the rest of us damaged folk in the virtual world. Any interaction with said world leaves you more damaged than when you first entered. So, thanks for that.

Eventually I will post up 11 things that do work in Ohio, as soon as I find 11 things.

the 6 month checkin

So here we are, well over 6 months later, and I am still alive. The move to Ohio has been an interesting one to say the least. I traded civilization and urban bravado for argumentative chirping birds, and “y’alls.” So many differences to account for. The people. The work ethic. The food. The beer. Ah the beer. Amazing how Germans can do that right AND still engineer great cars…cause know, those things totally go together. At least once every other month Zin City here serves us up some kind of festival for beer. Whether that’s Oktoberfest, or Bockfest, or winefest..or legofest (hey, its a 2-day babysitter, bars are across the street), the local breweries truly know how to throw down.

What’s truly still missing is the food. Long in my past are the pizzerias on every corner, ample neighborhood selections on BYOBs and the “goto” spots. Gastropubs are few and far between, and the all-nighter barely exists. There is that “gem” of a spot in Joe’s in downtown Cincy, and Anchor Grill in God-only-knows Kentucky, but truthfully, food is scarce. Once you find it though, broadcast it. The small places that do great things need to be on everyones list. Whether that’s the quesidilla girl at Japps, the deep fried sushi roll at Mr. Sushi, or the Terry’s Burger (which by far and away destroys anything I’ve eaten..anywhere, sorry Philly), we need this culinary excellence to spread, and push out the only other options of Taco Hell, and …Skyline.

As to the work ethic, it’s 9-5. Solid. It’s weird actually. I work, cause well, I still don’t had much to do out here. Shortly I’ll be posting about the boat building that will take over my summer, but as for anything else…meh. Which is a brilliant segway(ridden all over the city) in the people.

Midwesterners. I’ve know one. ..or two in my life time. honestly, the kindest people I’ve ever met. Eager to help, always with a smile. Very “golly gee” whenever their teams don’t do well. Except for Wildcat fans..they are kind of more obnoxious than Yankee fans, but hey they are reaping perfection sooooo… But they also keep to themselves. Most seem to have their mates and 2.5 kids and houses with white picket fences. So meeting people, just like finding good food, is a bit of a struggle. Ironic really. As an interaction designer I find myself better at observation and shadowing. Which, if you actually do this in public can come off as creepy and anti-social. So to be social you have to try pretty much every form of it. Bowling, super competitive out here. Boating, working on it. Biking, i live on top of a mountain. Beer drinking, for the young ins. Online, untrustworthy. Kentucky, seriously? Other options? Columbus..Dayton….eh, right. So yeah, working on it. I definitely amy not as pessimistic as I once was, but, it’s still a struggle.

So for now, I will focus on, the boat project, teaching at UC, and prepping for a few marathons…details all soon enough.

572 mi

Well, this is sudden. In a move not seen since Babe Ruth went from Boston to NY, I have decided to leave the great land of Philadelphia. If you had asked me a month ago, no, strike that, a year or two ago I would have sworn that Philly would have been my home for life. I would have been officially a Philadelphian after having a child there or purchased my first picket fence within the confines of it’s border. But, alas, how things have changed.

You have to forgive me, this has been a strange occurance. I always thought the only thing that would make me leave this city was the lure of LA, or Italy, or some other absurd locale. Instead, after investing over 6,000 days (roughly 17 years give or take), I am departing not for the exotic, but Cincinnati.

Why there? Why indeed. Some seem upset, thinking maybe I’m just giving up. Some think I am running away, God knows I’ve made enough mistakes round here to fill up Fishtown- i do actually avoid a handful of blocks up there for this very reason. Many will jump for joy, some will wish me luck, and a few will be at a loss for words. Truth is I will miss this town. It is on the verge of something great, it truly is. I am proud of having seen it grow so much in the past decades. I am honored to have met the people that i have, they have been such a beacon of life for each neighborhood. Filling it with energy and creativity. You make Philly, so Philly.

It pained me so much to decide to leave, because of these wonderful relationships. In my search for something to direct my life, I always saw these relationships I’ve made as a landline, keeping me anchored, and on track. When that track faltered, or flat out disappeared, many of you picked me up, and were there for me. For that I am ever grateful. I will miss you all terribly, but I suppose, there’s always Facebook.

In 17 years there were 14 apartments, 13 roommates in 6 different ‘hoods with 2 cars stolen, along with 8 bikes. 5 years of teaching, 6 years of learning, 2 degrees, and 2 positions in 2 companies, $5635 in PPA fines -70% was while I HAD a permit (ah..fuck you guys). And of course, 1 arrest record.

Every relationship I seem to have had, every love affair, every fling, has come to an end. So it seems fitting, that Philly and I take a break for a while. She too, beat me, demeaned me, all the while making me think I was right for her. But the truth is, like many others in the world, I want a Ctrl+Z. I want a redo. I want to rediscover the person inside that I know I can be. The optimistic, enlightened, hopeful one. I want to release the east coast hate into the stratosphere, and be someone that my students can respect, that my peers can admire, and that my family -yes including my little sister- can be proud of. This includes myself.

Ah Philly, what hath ye done to me.

I liken it to sitting in church and watching your ex get married, thinking “ah, she’ll be back, she said so.” Then watching them have kids, a house, and grow old, all the while you grow old watching them, and never do anything for yourself.

So off I go, to a blank slate. A town with no history for me. With amazing sports teams. Sarcasm intact. And most importantly, optimism. I leave behind my greatest friends, the ones that still talk to me, and the ones that don’t. An amazing school with students that truly changed my life. As both a teacher, and a classmate, you have all been a source of inspiration, never stop learning, never stop questioning, and most importantly, never say, “I don’t think that’s possible.”

Ah boy. This is rough, but..Cincitunnity. Let’s do this.

What’s the Big To-Do?!

A month at the beach can give one a lot of clarity. Is it the white noise of the ocean waves? The salt air in the lungs cleansing all the internal filters? Or, just the fact that once you get over the mini golf and bar scene, there isn’t much to do besides think. It’s a calculated risk. I heard there were more suicides in shore towns than anywhere else, the mind is a powerful thing. But as I sit here with umpteen minutes to occupy my day, I fill it with just as many projects. So much so that I’ll be damned if they aren’t awesome, but lack that whole, “how the hell to I pay my rent with it?” thing. Thankfully, I don’t overly care about that just yet. I am a firm believer of good things come to those..yada yada. So I have decreed a new…declaration. A complete life switch. Ready? Ready.

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It’s the little things

So I found a list of 10 goals I had apparently written to myself during a moment of self reflection many, many years ago. It’s an interesting read. It had come during a time when I was struggling with things way more than I am now. Someone told me to make a list of goals. THey can be simple, they can be complex. THese goals you should take in phases, give them deadlines, but always work towards them. So now I look at myself 3 years later and see how its going. Not too bad. It is the kind of reading material that inspires me. I was actually hopeful, and whether or not I was being true to myself when I wrote this, doesn’t matter. As it turns out, I have been accomplishing said goals. THat’s kind of something considering I have a knack for not completing personal projects..take this site for instance. So let’s see where we stand.

1. Get back to fighting shape of 175lbs. Well, I am close. Lost close to 15, and am hovering around 190. Almost swimsuit attire again, look out.

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At the end of the first half

Al Micheal’s voice rips through my head, “with the score NY 48, Giacomo 12.” At which point certainly some witty quip stating the obvious would fly in from the color commentary such as, “He’s really going to have to score some points to pull this one out.” Indeed. Time to score some  points. The brain is officially fried. Meditation on the beach made me recant the last 10 months, and to be honest, the Giacomo Years haven’t measured up well. Continue reading

Breaking the Game

Fucking ridiculous. As a society, human species, what have you. We play games. All the time. We play games when we don’t need to play games. We duck and cover. We swindle. We dodge. All for some meaningless sense of control. I’ve played them, and they are great when you are in control, but when you are the one spiraling out, it’s not such a good thing. It’s downright horrifying actually. All of our decisions affect other peoples lives, we know this. It’s the universal duh, but do we care? Do people care that all of their decisions directly effect someone elses…else. From financial to mental, everything we do, every move, every thought, provokes a reaction. This is harsh no? I, am driven by one thing. Love. It’s absolutely true. I’ll never deny it. Not sure why. I suppose if we dive deep into the heart of it I grew up in a home that had it in different places, and never between the people that conceived me. So yes, I am intrigued. I constantly ask myself the question of “is this it?” “Is this what it feels like?” It must be. I don’t want it to go away, I don’t want any of this to go away. So, in my own minds eye, I stage “interventions.” Stupid little tests that poke at the edges. Pinch it, to make sure it’s real. a bad idea. To question love is to question self. We seek to be justified by our own selves, so if that is in fact true, we question ourselves by questioning love, right? No. That’s probably way off. But I question myself because I am stubborn. I truly believe I have found it, but it hasn’t found me. Therefore I try to force it, which is also…a bad idea. Sitting in the world of not ugly but not handsome affords this. You observe. Poke. Prod. Envy other peoples happiness, and wonder why not me? What did I do? Where did I go wrong? Then we realize we are products of our own youth, and in fact, it’s not where we went wrong, but how we were raised. Not by any fault, just by the sheer absorbing factory that the brain becomes. Words beget more words beget more words, as I struggle to find meaning. THe lights get dimmer and the horizon gets further away as I feel everything slip between my fingers. Why? Cause my heart got infected with the one thing I can never have. The one thing that helps me sleep at night, give me purpose, makes me smile, inspires me. Fuck you love.

Counting Down

Never in my life have I been so challenged as these past couple months. There are countless reasons, true, but my very thesis should have made everything fun. Instead, it is (was..please God let me get to was) probably the most mind-cracking, wtf am I doing with my life, I’m going to explode right now experience. To analyze all these wonderful feelings I looked back to some of the books I had read about play, and play theory. I this day go back to the one quote that stuck out at me even before I opened a page of any of that pulp. “The opposite of play is not work, it’s depression.” Ever curious I wonder if my, totally magnificent brain decided to prove this on a subconscious level. If it did I swear to everything holy that I’m going to rip it out through my ear canals and pound the living grey matter out of it. Studying the serious state of play, should be work, yes, and it is. The deeper you seem to go, however, and the more you seem to push yourself, the darker the path. The treatment by those around, particularly “partners” makes you hyper-sensitive. I’ve never, wait, not true, once before, I have wanted to be so far away from a person that you are pretty sure they moved to another planet completely. That every essence of their being has left this plane never to effect you again. Then, 4 or 5 years form now you can stumble onto their Facebook page wherein you feel a sharp pain in your lower spine. The feeling passes and you click forward to the next profile. I want to be there right now. I want to be, 4 years away. A. To see if all of this, wonderfulness of educational spirit pays off. B. To heal. C. To forget. D. To breathe again, normally, and with predetermined sleeping patterns. E. To smile. F. To live. G. To love. H. Peace. So when someone asks me, at the next interview, “So, what’d you learn?” I am going to lean in, real close like, and say, “Mister, I learned that people just want to live their lives. Some don’t play well with others, and really I don’t want to know those people.”

Just get another one.

It seems certain themes keep recurring. I am curious if it has to do with the whole “once you see something once you are wary of it everywhere” syndrome. The theme for me this week, that my mind is coming to terms with is the idea of being replaceable. It’s not a pleasant thing to think about, and I wouldn’t recommend many dwell on it. But it seems like a lot of hostility and frustration comes from this concept. Quite frankly, we are all replaceable. In a world where we are (or at least should be) shooting for sustainability, one would think that it would trickle down to the human. I struggle with this concept now. I am replaceable. It feels better to say it, but in every aspect of your life, you are replaceable. Everyone falls victim to this at some point. Actors, surgeons, lawyers, future NFL players. Maybe the person that steps in isn’t this or that, surely they are not your clone, but they can learn or already do something better than you ever thought you could. You just got replaced bitch. Work. REPLACED! Love. Pitched..then REPLACED (hopefully in that order)!! Bowling teams…all of the sudden you find yourself on the alternate roster. and REPLACED. It is always personal? No, but we almost always take it personally. There’s a little tinge. It’s in the back of your brain no matter how focused you think you are. You might even twitch your left eye when you hear, that you’ve been swapped.

So now the real question, how do we deal with this? I say it aloud, think about the reasons behind it, and try to dissect those. It’s painful. It’s remorseful. It’s humbling. It might not even get you anywhere, and I highly recommend an alcoholic beverage nearby. But you say it aloud. You acknowledge it. Hell, write it down so you know you’ve done it. Then take a step forward. Maybe even go out the door.

The end of the middle

I finally had a mini emotional breakdown. I’m a man. I’ll admit it. It was actually quite soothing. You just feel every pain dump out of you uncontrollably. It takes the form of snot, tears, sweat, sound. For the geeks out there I liken this to a Vulcan 7-year purge, for the ladies..I think it’s just normal. To anyone else viewing this it probably looks disturbing. But sometimes you have to listen to your body, and tell your mind to shut the fuck up. Your body needs to purge. The sensation when its all out is more than worth it. It’s pure joy. My thesis is in search for this moment. Certainly is an odd way to find it….I need to be mentally, physically, financially and romantically broke. I wouldn’t recommend this treatment to anyone. You have to have a strong will, and a sense of drive. Even if that drive has been in neutral (or even park) for a while. It needs to be there. That’s the key. The joy, or feeling of joy, comes knowing that we are about to throw this bitch into gear and pound on the gas. That we just pitched a lot of dead weight, cleared the schedule, and just passed a sign on the highway that said “Future 138 more miles…atta way.” So for those of you that were worried about me, and justifiably had a right to be, take note. I’m coming for you UArts, I’m grabbing that Masters in May, and I’m going to blow shit out of the water. Count on it. No more games. No more trials. I’ve beaten your tests. You can’t stop me. I’m already four on the floor, and I had the brakes removed. Seabass….I am going to kick your ass. </inspirational rant>

Locked & Loaded, My Brain Wishes

It’s funny what can step in and fubar the works. You can be trudging along, minding your own business, then one little thing kinks the rails. You’ll find it’s hard to read all your research when that happens. Because of the density of the text sometimes you find yourself stuck in your own thoughts. Listening to your own voice talk back to you at first, then going off on some diatribe about who this and who that. So pointless. I wonder sometimes if I had a sibling growing up if this inner dialog wouldn’t be so damn loud. That maye just maybe, I would have had an actual dialog instead. It’s something that need to be worked on for sure. This bloggy blog sort of helps. Sorta. It doesn’t help that damn much when the lights are out and you just want to go to sleep but you are so wound up thinking about stupid, and I do mean…stupid things like well, just stupidity. I should be thinking about myself and my life right now. Me. What’s healthy for me, and what I plan on working on for the rest of my living days. It’s hard. It’s draining. Honest to God I wish I could block out everyone. Ok not true. Just some people. Anyways, back to reading. Later interwebs, portfolio is shaping up nicely by the by. New camera here any day now?

My own Pilgrimage

This has been an interesting past few weeks. No, not interesting, terrifying. I managed to go from utter happiness to a complete sense of loss in a manner of 2 short days. It was a hell of a journey, but $200 later in bar tabs I think I’ve washed it all from the system. See this whole time I thought I was missing something from my life, and truth be told, I was. I had this picture, in my head, of the perfect house/girl/job/insert-anything-here, and because I am no where near achieving any of these things I thought I was a fail. Not quite a failure, no, we save that thought for our deathbeds, but at the very least a noobish fail. I thought it all was driven by the L word. In my undergrad I studied it’s themes for a whole semester, tried to visualize it, give it a form. But recent events made me realize that you can’t do that. In the end it’s really about trust. I’ve never trusted myself, therefore, how can I trust others, which in turn, generates a shit-ton of pessimism, ergo darkening the path. The only person I ever trusted, I failed. I let that eat at me these past few months, and it finally bit me in the ass. Someday, I will get that future, like..with Jetpacks. I’m not completely sure when or where to go from here, but I know that in the end I’ll finally have done something for me, and perhaps, someday I’ll be good enough for LA.

DIY Heros & Villains

With this new area of study of mine, many of my fellows (and a tad bit of myself) have to utilize a deep seeded urge that much of society is starting to pick up on. Thanks to channels like TLC, Discover, and even the more mainstream ABC’s of the world, a “Do-It-Yourself” movement has been going more mainstream. Everyone with cable and/or an internet connection is sharing their own tip and tricks to the most absurd of creations. I harken this back to recipe swapping that I would observe my grandmother doing amongst her friends at the monthly Tupperware parties. The recipes have gotten more complicated, and the meetups are no longer over Tupperware, but rather RFIDs, laser beams, and anything else we deem modable. Maybe it’s my exposure to this world that I am starting to make these connections, or maybe it’s the constant observation of my classmates and how they react to problems and discover solutions. Not sure, but I AM sure that throughout film and TV history, there have been some truly inspired DIYers. Geniuses that think on the fly, and don’t wait for technology or others to come up with a solution. Some are quick on their feet; others use their power for evil. All should be admired and the basis of inspiration. So I give you, my list of the Top 10 Fictional Makers: Continue reading

Thesis Pieces

I seriously feel like that snowball running down hill at terminal velocity. I might have maxed out on speed, but I still keep packing on the snow. I feel like I’ll be able to stop and breathe at some point, but only after I smack into a tree and disintegrate. If you are reading this then you really just wanna know what my thesis is eh? Well, I actually changed it about 3-4 times. It went from a bike tracking system, to a smart store, to the holodeck (yes, as in Star Trek), to my final resting place. Which, if it gets approved to move forward could actually BE my final resting place. I chose familiar territory. Not sure why it just felt right. I have issues with this concept that I’ve always wanted to work out. It’s something I’m vaguely passionate about too. It’s weird, besides football and BBC tv shows I could seriously carry on for hours about it. Well, ok I could also go on about The Flash, Team Fortress, Subaru’s, bowling, and well come to think of it, anything else really. Hell this whole site is dedicated to crap I could go on and on about. No, you want to know my thesis, or at least the current amalgamation of it. Fine. It’s working title is Advertising Ethics for the Conscious Capitalist or more appropriately, How I Learned To Stop Hating and Love the Bomb. If it gets picked I’ll drop my hypothesis on y’all. L@tes me fellow Millenials.

And here we go…

Like many other people in the world, I have a Todo list. This Todo list has been growing, extensively over the past 10 years. It’s small, simple things. Make a bowling team t-shirt. Create brilliant app idea. Do your taxes. And of course, on this list, was make something of at least one of my 20 something URLs. So as a means of flighting from my actual task work, I am finally going to complete my web site of all the content that is me. The ultimate in stalker material. Everything you will ever need to know and more. I must say though, when one breaks down their entire life into the barest elements, and tries to lay them all out together, it sure as hell doesn’t look nearly as impressive as one would think. Guess I need to get out more. Stay tuned.