19 July 2010


12th and Republic is going to be shutting down indefinitely. Life intrudes. Other formats, other genres, are absorbing my interest these days. Also, I'd be lying like a dog if I said the displacing of the OTR homeless by 3CDC and the city government didn't leave me at a loss for words.

Ordinarily this shell game with human lives would stick in my craw, but to paraphrase Richard Belzer, I had my craw surgically removed years ago so I could sleep nights.

Raj Patels recent book, "The Value of Nothing," examines the idea that the Constitution does not grant rights to those who are too poor to afford to claim those rights. In other words, there is an unwritten "right to have rights."  Exactly: The people in Washington Park who sleep at the Drop Inn Shelter do not have the right to have rights.

I will leave 12th and Republic on line for awhile before shutting down entirely.  Thanks for taking the time to read about some very difficult issues.


11 June 2010


Rereading the Enquirer's June 7th article about City Council's latest attempt to micro-manage the 17 or so people who panhandle downtown.  Council passed "a set of guidelines" for shelters to help shelter staff "discourage" panhandling.  But most of the panhandlers I know cannot possibly feel more discouraged than they do already.

Are guidelines the same as a law?  I can't find that distinction in the article.  Apparently though, one council member recalled the city being sued over previous attempts to control panhandling.  The panhandling guidelines were therefore removed from a larger measure addressing homeless shelter management and voted on separately.

The looniest part of the article was a series of quotes from Mr. Gary Wachs, the general manager of the Garfield Suites.   Mr. Wachs complained bitterly about "aggressive" panhandlers.  One minute Wachs describes panhandlers as coming from "the darkness," the next minute he claims panhandlers are professional criminals who come from the suburbs.  How does that work?

Wachs apparently believes that panhandlers knock down beaucoup bucks, enough to allow them to house themselves, and in the suburbs no less.  His belly aching about panhandler aggression sounds as if he cannot distinguish between panhandling and mugging.

The archive drop down list (Ghosts of Posts Past) includes a posting from 7 November, 2008 called Hey Buddy, a sort of primer for aspiring panhandlers. Panhandlers I've known learn very quickly that aggressiveness equals rejection. Successful panhandlers are largely passive, or at least soft-sell. Begging is like any other business: rudeness runs off customers. And beggars are not muggers.

07 June 2010


Circumlocumin: Directions for Use.

Store this medicine at room temperature in a tightly sealed container.   If you live in a room that’s really hot, store this medicine in a refrigerator set for no lower that 49° F.  Do not use this medicine if your are predisposed to contract salmonella or botulism from food stored at 49°F.  Keep this medicine away from moisture, except for the water you use to swallow it.  Do not store this medication in  direct sunlight.  Do not freeze.  Do not place in microwave.  If a mule offers to transport this medication across international borders in his or her intestinal tract, remove your contact information from the vial before agreeing to anything.

Caution: Do not take this medicine if you have an allergic reaction to it.    The only way to be sure that you have an allergic reaction to this medicine is to take this medicine.  Do not take this medicine if you are currently taking acetaminophen, ion channel blockers, MAOI inhibitors or MD2020.   Do not exceed the recommended dose without checking with your doctor, or your doctor’s attorney, or with the fat lady on the first floor who keeps that Zip-Loc bag full of all those different color pills.

Be sure to take this medicine regularly.  Taking this medicine at the same time each day will help you remember to take this medicine at the same time each day.  It may take 2 to 4 weeks for this medicine to work, during which time you might still die from whatever you’re taking it for.  Before any medical, dental or emergency surgical procedure, tell the doctor or dentist that you are on this medication.  Unless they brought you in unconscious, in which case you are so screwed.

This medicine may cause lightheadedness, dizziness, fainting, nausea or all four at once.  If dizziness occurs, sit up or stand up slowly,  just prior to falling.  This medicine has been known to engender suicidal, homicidal, patricidal and fungicidal ideation.  Do not drive a motor vehicle, or operate heavy machinery while taking this medication.  Do not participate in any activity that might require skill, judgment or intelligence.  Use of alcohol while taking this medicine may lessen the medicine’s effectiveness and reduce your ability to perform complex tasks or lie to your wife about where the hell you were all night.  If your rabbi referred you to a mohel who is taking this medicine, cancel the bris now.

This medication caused 83% of a test group to read faster, with less comprehension.  A test on animal subjects was inconclusive: several Norway rats in the control group later admitted Latvian citizenship.  Always remember to drink plenty of fluids during exercise or any activities that may cause sweating and heavy breathing.  Ask your doctor whether your heart is healthy enough for sexual activity, but only if you do not sweat or breath heavily.

Never leave this medicine where it can be reached by children or teenagers.  If your teenager does manage to steal it, offering to trade him for two hits of Ecstasy usually gets it back.  According to your doctor’s attorney, neither he nor MegaPharm, LLC are responsible for diddly squat.  Outside the United States, there are seventeen sovereign nations where you can purchase this medication for significantly less, assuming you can afford all those new fees the airlines are charging.

Federal law prohibits the transfer of this medication to any person other than the patient for whom it was prescribed.  Only your doctor can tell you whether you are the person for whom this medicine was prescribed.

22 May 2010


You see them gathered in front of the old Protestantekirche at West 12th and Elm Street. This ragged little group is not the congregation. The old church has been vacant and neglected for years. The people getting face time out front are the malt liquor multitude, and they are waiting for a delivery. 

They have entrusted one of their group to carry their combined funds --- loose change, ripped and crumpled dollar bills --- to the carry-out.  She will soon return with two 40 ounce bottles of malt liquor, whatever brand is cheapest or on sale that day.  

Later, after passing the bottles around, several of the group urinate onto the front facade of the derelict church.   After three or four people urinate in exactly the same spot, out in front of God and everybody, a river begins to flow toward the gutter.  The odor on a hot day is foul and fecund, and pedestrians had best watch their step.  At least it's only urine.

The curious fact is that this convocation apparently occupies this spot on a rotating basis.  You will see them drinking and pissing there for a day or two, then you find a different, non-drinking group of homeless people have taken over.  The non-drinkers hang out for a couple of days, only to be replaced by the malt liquor crew.  Do they keep a formally agreed upon schedule?  
Possibly members of the malt liquor crew are arrested for public intox now and then, and the group is temporarily disbanded.  But most public intox citations are simply handed to the drunk in question, with a date for him or her to appear before a judge.  If you arrested every publicly intoxicated person in Cincinnati, you would not come close to having jail space for all of them. 

People want drunks and drug addicts off the streets, but most citizens do not want their taxes  used to either house or jail drunks and drug addicts.  As the neighborhood around 12th and Elm, which now includes the new CSPA, is rehabbed, remodeled and gentrified, alcohol and chemical dependent homeless people will gradually find their way to other neighborhoods.  

Other neighborhoods like Lower Price Hill, or Walnut Hills, or West End, neighborhoods that already have enough problems. 


28 April 2010


   A startling coincidence this morning:  Smitty's Department Store on Vine in OTR burned and it’s looking like it might be a total loss.  Many of us think of Smitty's as a perverse, schlock-mongering landmark the likes of which would never debase the National Historic Trust.  Smitty's was so ugly, so relentlessly garish, that it was beautiful.  It is now a burned-out husk.  

   When the fire began to look under control, I accidentally overheard two fireman talking, on account of I was eavesdropping.   Upon entering the burning building, they had found charred columns of inventory stacked to the ceiling.  One could well argue that Smitty's inventory always looks like that, piled high with no apparent organizing principle.  But --- to the ceiling?  Thus the fire was provided with fuel enough to climb to the ceiling, and the second floor.

   We hope there will be an arson investigation.  There are obvious potential motives to burn Smitty's.  Insurance, for example.  Or developers lusting after the block Smitty occupies could have decided to hasten his departure from the neighborhood. There is also the "second wino on the grassy knoll" theory.  A single hapless alcoholic breaks into the building in order to have a place to sleep unmolested, falls asleep while smoking, et voila.   Personally, I discount the second wino theory.  (And yes, conspiracy buffs, I am also convinced Oswald fired the shots.)  Follow the money, and watch for the fire marshall’s report. 

All original text (C) 2007, 2008 David J. Carney. All rights reserved.

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