Friday, May 09, 2008

What's so great about Ohio?

Lately, I have been taking a lot of crap for picking on Columbia and Missouri at large. Apparently referring to the state as "misery" is too much for some people, even though it's just a pun I discovered when I was in fifth grade. If a fifth grader can catch the subtle humor, shouldn't adults be able to do the same? I'm not actually a miserable curmudgeon. I just play one on the blogosphere.

It's fine that people want to defend their home. They want to raise and wave those flags of two grizzly bears holding up the Bible belt with the immortal words of "united we stand/divided we fall" and holler "M-I-Z" to all their fellow Missourians. But now I must defend my home.

My problem centers around blog-haters equating or
berating my home state of Ohio in comparison to Misery. Although to New Yorkers and Californians, everything in between is just the Midwest, there are clear differences between the two states in question. Additionally, Ohio is actually worth missing. Sure, I complained about wanting to leave the state in which I lived for 30 years, but it was my home and deserves some respect.

Before moving to COMO, I lived off and on in Columbus, OH for twelve years. Columbus is not only Ohio's state capital, but it is also the state's largest city. Yes, it is larger than both Cleveland and Cincinnati. It is home to one of the nation's largest state institutions in The Ohio State University. There are about as many students, staff, and faculty as there are people in COMO. Actually, more people sit in Ohio Stadium on football Saturdays than live in COMO. In other words, Columbus is actually a major city.

Of course, size isn't everything. Columbus has plenty to offer. There is a chain of independent movie theaters known as The Drexel, plus The Wexner Center for the Arts features indie films, world-renowned art exhibits, and the best in indie rock. The music scene is also solid with bands such as Times New Viking, Sinkane, Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments, The Sun, The New Bomb Turks, and many others having packed or still packing Columbus clubs on a nightly basis.

The city also boasts the country's largest non-corporate-sponsored community festival, aka Commfest. The festival features several stages, artists, merchants, restaurants, and plenty of my favorite Columbus Pale Ale. It also coincides with a sizable Pride weekend thanks to the city's very large and very visible LGBT community.

Besides the many entertainment choices, Columbus has a tremendous selection of restaurants of varying cuisines. I have had Indian, Chinese, sushi, Korean, and Ethiopian dishes that would rival restaurants anywhere. Additionally, there are many comfort food choices with Barley's, Thurman's, and Old Bag of Nails leading the pack. One of the most sophisticated and delicious vegan eateries is located at Dragonfly while a hearty vegetarian breakfast can be had at Whole World Cafe or the soups at Benevolence are unbelievably animal-product free. I haven't even mentioned maybe the two best places to eat in all of Columbus: North Star Cafe and Jenni's Ice Cream. North Star makes the best breakfast burrito anywhere (really) and plenty of other great dishes made from locally-farmed products. Jenni's features ice creams made with extra heavy creams and ingredients such as cayenne, Thai chili, local honey, various fruits, wine, etc. That's a lot of food to miss. (My stomach is grumbling as I write this.)

Of course, Ohio is not just limited to Columbus. Cleveland offers several professional sports teams, ethnic neighborhoods, the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame, and plenty of great music venues. Cincinnati has the Underground Railroad Museum and all the history its location on the Ohio River provides. Dayton, the hole that it is, has birthed two of the greatest bands from the nineties indie movement in The Breeders and Guided by Voices as well as Brainiac and Swearing at Motorists. Cedar Point is regularly recognized as the best amusement park in the country from its perch overlooking Lake Erie.

I'm not saying that Ohio is the greatest state in the union, but it's not the backwoods hell hole so many assume it to be. There are good reasons for me to miss my home and to compare it favorably to the state in which I now live. I doubt that will ever change.

You can try all you want to convince me that Misery ain't so bad, but don't trash Ohio in the process.


My Name is Bird said...

You forgot to mention Used Kids, it is hands down my favorite record store. So i give Ohio and Columbus the thumbs up.

Huey said...

You ever think of going into sales? Damn. You sold Ohio to me and I live here already! I gotta write down those food spots for the vegetarian wife of mine.

Cleveland has some suburbs with great energy and unique food spots, bars and other establishments. Also a great orchestra and some good museums.

comoprozac said...

Thanks for bringing up Used Kids. It really the best record store.

Huey, I'll warn you that Dragonfly is expensive and on the fancy side. Save it for an anniversary or V-day or something like that.

Cleveland is a great city. People don't give it the credit it deserves.

Kate said...

It's Jeni's and she's featured in the new Food & Wine.

Elizabeth Hornbeck said...

Man, I'm busted as the Ohio-hating Kentuckian I truly am at heart. At least you Buckeyes aren't HOOSIERS. We tell lots of great Hoosier jokes in Louisville, but really most of them are so obvious as to be painful rather than funny.

Elizabeth Hornbeck said...

That last comment shows that I shouldn't be leaving comments at 1 a.m. I was also kidding, I have nothing against Ohio. For the record, the Columbus band The Bygones played at my wedding, and they were great. (My husband used to be in a band with their drummer.) I have two cousins who live in Columbus, they were born and raised there. And I have several buckeyes, because I was told once that they are good luck charms, sort of like a rabbit's foot but PETA-approved.