Columbus, Ohio USA
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Gazette Columnist Christine Hayes
Daughter of the late Ben Hayes – former columnist for the Columbus Citizen-Journal
Christine Hayes Life Essays
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Flamenco del Corazon sparks a Sunday afternoon
Ohioana Library Hears a 'Who' at 2nd Annual Book Festival
Celebrating Ohio's Authors
Croquet, with dogs
On a hot spring day there was Urban Croquet. This event, a fund-raiser for the DooDah Parade, has a history. Friendly folks from Short North establishments have been holding it for years. Goodale Park, the southwest quadrant, was the site.
A beach-scene palm-tree umbrella presided over the croquet-watchers. Dogs lolled in the shade, panting. The downtown landscape with its black windows looked blindly on. Miranova loomed asymmetrically. An unfinished parking garage showed air through its sides. The immediate surroundings were more colorful and fluid. Mexican blankets reflected bold patterns in the sun.
I, the neophyte, pictured flamingos as mallets, hedgehogs as balls, and living playing cards as wickets, ala Alice. Instead, voluminous serious rules were explained. Serious croquet players sweated. The only humor was in the team names: Croq Au Vin, Mike's Bar, The Celts, Ball Busters. Here For Beer. Roberto, of vinyl-decorated DooDah truck fame, had a homemade custom mallet. Otherwise all equipment was standard.
I asked, "How many games do you play?" "It's a mathematical thing," was the answer. No secrets were to be divulged to a scribbling reporter. Tony LaRosa was on the defending championship team. The Grand Trophy had a little orange birdhouse supported by colored balls, supported by four shiny mallets, all based on a square of astroturf.
A courtly gentleman with a guitar played, "I'm Climbing the Stairway to Heaven."
DooDah Deb and checked-shirt-clad King Charlie arrived in the decorated golfcart, mini-poodles and Irish setter in tow.
Clipboards were consulted regularly as the games progressed (several games proceeded simultaneously). The grass was cut on Wednesday but the rains caused new growth by Saturday. I heard much complaining about the lush clover cloying the balls' trajectories.
"Where are the horse-doovers?" The cry went up as hot donuts in a plastic bag were the only foodstuffs. Fortunately, no one seemed to need me to play croquet. There was another outcry for time limits. Clipboard papers blew in the breeze. Jim kept track with a Sharpie pen, Deb took copious fotos, Bill Finzle wore a hat with antlers and carried two trash/recycle bins around.
Paris the poodle chewed on the back of Maggie the golden retriever. The big dog didn't mind. Paris ate grass. Deb: "My dog barks like a monkey squeak." Sunscreen was applied liberally to white skin. Helicopters buzzed over head for a true urban statement.
Rise Up / Dig in / Go local
The fotos speak for themselves. The strong gaze, the mother's smile, the focus on the children. The Dragonfly rationale (see title) is educational, interactive, organic. And fierce. The perpetrators, Magdiale Wolmark and Cristin Austin, defend their vision and dedication whenever provoked. When being appreciated, they're pussycats.
The children, girls, played in the dirt filling the large white concrete pillars in front of the restaurant. We watched them, Scott Williams and I sipped the California no-sulfite Coturri merlot at the front table next to the alley. (Magdiale has a hope that this alley can become a pedestrian walkway.) Raen was wearing her dad's red hardhat and clear goggles. The dirt was moved by small hands in cups and glasses, elaborate castling configurations. The girls did not spill any. (I checked.) Further up the patio, guests who were wine-tasting did not see the intense goings-on.
The Earthday (April 24) festivities included bands, art cars, farmers' market, bakery, kids' activities (especially planting seeds, later to become the embryos for the chef's kitchen garden.) And that innovative food, of course: pawpaw cocktails, wild foraged black walnut caramel turtle tarts, for example. It's more than food, actually; after eating the creations of the day, you're energized. Like those food supplements for body builders, only MUCH more fun. For me and my friends, it is a dining destination, an event. The opposite of what Columbus has been known for: White Castle and Wendy's.
The All-Ohio Prototype Cuisine takes us back to Billy Ireland's vision of the Midwest Farmer, John Deere, Bromfield's Malabar Farm. What Ohio used to be known for, and by Dragonfly's vision, return.
This vision includes a garden in the back. What was once an oil-stained pavement holding a dumpster can be envisioned into a paradise. The beginning is a jackhammer. Magdiale Wolmark wielded it with aplomb. Go behind the restaurant now and witness the progress. Local youth, led by the Greater Columbus Foodshed Project, will be trained in the culinary and agricultural arts on the site. The goal is for 18 community gardens in the next two years.
We, motley car and bike artists, were fooling around there, Greg Phelps spray-painting vegetables upon the pavement. Before we knew it, Magdiale had carted a large table and chairs from the front. We were proud to be the first chef's table occupants. A seat that will become prized in the future, I'm sure.
The Tunnel (in the space next to the restaurant, formerly Byzantium) featured a subway motif; graffiti, but in place of seats a long section of grow-lights and the just-planted seeds. This space cries out for art and parties, ever-changing, high-spirit, and child-friendly. Raen and her friends ran around, Gabriel was held by a series of caregivers and always seemed jolly.
Transform your environment with Urban Relief
Brenda Direen is Urban Relief. If you want to change your life through your work/home/party environment, she's ready to help you. And, she can prepare your home for the real estate market.
She gets her points across with grand Italianesque gestures. With her close-cropped strawberry blonde hair and no-nonsense black clothes, she appears ready to spring into action. I spent some time with her at the German Village Art Crawl while she expertly orchestrated faux palm trees and twinkling lights. Urban Relief was one of the three sponsors of the arts festival/fundraiser benefiting the German Village Society. The Company donated time as Visual Coordinator for the decorating of the four-block-long festival.
Ms. Direen is skilled at preparing your home for the market. She will help you with a detailed plan for each room: decluttering, depersonalizing, with furni-ture arrangements that accent your home's best architectural features. A storage unit is a must, to hold your personal elements that would prevent prospective buyers from visualizing themselves in your home.
There's a checklist for your yard, porch, entry, living room, dining room, kitchen, bedrooms, basement, and attic. Urban Relief can add life to your rooms with decorative accents, color strategy, and lighting - again, to accent your best architectural features.
Her attractive brochure contains hints such as "leave 50% open space in kitchen cupboards to give the impression of plentiful storage." Such hints as these give your house a visual "pick-me-up" to sell the house quickly without price reduction.
Direen hails from Lorain, Ohio. (In fact, her mother went to high school with Toni Morrison.) She describes her life there as "the eccentric politically minded child needing to escape the 'I'm gonna get married and my husband will work in the factory' mentality." She visited her older sisters at OSU from 1979 on &endash; and formed an opinion of Columbus as "a place of art, politics, and intelligent people."
Brenda Direen of Urban Relief loves color, lighting, and the bold statement. One-day room makeovers, special events decorating, and real-estate staging are her specialties. Contact Brenda at 614-263-4178.
Her career choice was in hair and makeup at beauty salons. She managed a chain of beauty supply boutiques and started the second Aveda concept salon in Columbus, through the influence of Jo Johnson, then with Aveda, now with Posh Pets in the Short North. After five years, Direen sold the business and her house and bought a sailboat.
She spent nine months sailing around Chesapeake Bay, then headed south for the winter. After six weeks stranded on Cobb Island with a motor malfunction, Direen "jumped ship on the boat and the then-current relationship." She "tried hair again for a few months," then signed up for boat-building in Annapolis. One day, with knuckles bleeding, knees hurting, she burst into tears, went home, changed into a little black dress, walked into a salon, and announced, "I'm your new Aveda rep!" The proprietor was so stunned he hired her on the spot.
Direen is indeed convincing. She knows her design principles; at the tender age of ten her sister gave her a subscription to Architectural Digest. She believes in thorough consultations with the client to get all design principles clear. And she loves color, lighting, and the bold statement.
Direen considered attending Ohio State in theatrical lighting, interior design, industrial interiors - until the "one-day room makeover" phenomenon hit. She's found her niche: real estate staging, backyard parties (ask her about the Viva Las Vegas one), room transformations, alleys - you name it, she'll decorate it. She has done floral and food displays (ask about "honey-glazed carrots on big palm leaves") but finds that not her favorite.
She will give advice in a consultation with color/texture board, lists of places to purchase items, as well as placement of elements - rather than doing the placement herself (if you're a little shy with her hands on your environment).
You can also find a Decorating Tip Site email@example.com or call Brenda Direen at 614-263-4178.
Admiring Hubbard School
What a landmark! I should like to be a child playing near its curved shape, and look up, and feel secure in its shadow.
The multi-hued concrete turtle contrasts sharply with the worn blackened stone.
I picture children clambering on its back, waiting to be picked-up from school. Today, all is eerily still; a pause before the rain. Mourning doves mull in the barked playground. I sit in forest-green benches with "Hubbard" incorporated in the design.
Whose decision to paint all the double doors and trim plum? I hope there was a contest to decide the color. The yellow-brick façade, with its arched black-framed windows above, looks smugly onto Hubbard Ave. Yet above the double front peaks lies that imposing octagonal dome. What a landmark! I should like to be a child playing near its curved shape, and look up, and feel secure in its shadow. A child of, say, 1900, for the Hubbard Avenue School was built in 1892.
The blacktop sports crisply painted games, hopscotch as well as the more complicated. The pastel map of the U.S. entices the young into geography and imagined journeys. A sturdy plastic rock-climbing unit is a note of modern play on this horizon of playground history.
How was Hubbard School named? There was a William B. Hubbard who was a President of the Exchange Bank of Columbus from 1845 to 1852. Other Hubbards, H.M. and George, were employees of the bank at that time. William was also the President of the Mechanics' Savings Institute (incorporated 1838) and on the Board of Trustees of Green Lawn Cemetery in 1848. We assume Hubbard Avenue and the School were named after him.
I talked to Theresa Sadek, principal of Hubbard School. She gave me some insight: the doors are of bright hues inside (as well as the plum outside). 190 students brighten the halls too, in grades pre-K to 5th. The building still has its original tin ceilings and hardwood floors. Ms. Sadek used to be principal of Medary School, another architectural highlight of Columbus.
She added two more notes of history. The records of Hubbard School are still intact, with students' names, grade reports, and even some exams they took, dating back to the origin of the school - an unburied time capsule. Also, she knows that there used to be an opening in the upstairs floor that enabled a teacher to look below into the downstairs hall. It has since been sealed due to safety issues.
The only change to the building has been the addition of a gym in the 1970s. Ms. Sadek said that the recent renovation of the playground was accomplished through the generosity and cooperation of local businesses. Way to go, Short North! Extra special thanks to the Victorian Village Society, Dooley & Company, and the Short North Neighborhood Foundation.
I stare into the large areas of frosted parquet glass. The entablature of the upper reaches, below the roof, has regular-spaced bumps hanging from the eaves. To count the bumps, lying on the back of the turtle, that would be my job as a Hubbard School child.
Hubbard Avenue Elementary School, located in the Short North Neighborhood at 104 West Hubbard Avenue, was built over a century ago in 1892.
Posh Pets' Jo Johnson
Don't hesitate to enter Posh Pets. It's not just for snooty patooties, it's not just for pet owners; it's for anyone who likes to look at creative stuff artfully displayed.
Jo Johnson, the whirlwind behind Posh Pets, has a blue Doberman named Cirrus. I didn't meet Cirrus upon my visit, but I did see his elephant bed. Yes, it is big and soft and gray and has elephantine appurtenances. The inventors of contemporary pet products have let their imaginations run wild. And, they have created healthier, safer alternatives to the usual fare in food and accessories.
Ms. Johnson has traveled to San Francisco, South Beach, Chicago and Dallas to observe other pet stores. She has some upscale items (as in the store "Fetch" in NYC) and, she says, "there is little comparison to pricing and product in Columbus," but we're fast on their heels. She searches the trade shows and catalogues for the coolest stuff.
It's a great space at 743 N. High, formerly the florist "Leaves of Grass." Ms. Johnson says the other store owners in the Short North have given her invaluable advice and support. The August Gallery Hop will have a pet theme; Jo is the liaison from the Short North to the No More Homeless Pets organization. Short North store and gallery owners will be asked to host a specific pet organization or breed. On August 2, strollers will accompany adult dogs who need loving homes. Cirrus, the above-mentioned Doberman, was adopted from Hand-Me-Down Dobes.
Ms. Johnson is on the steering committee for the Columbus Arts Festival. Her interest in art is evident in the displays around the store. David Lawrence Thomas, a CCAD student of Native American heritage, will be featuring his wood sculpture. Pet portraits in charcoal, oils, and pastels are coming in August. Cindy Sams creates personalized pet mats for Posh Pets. One of her large painted canvas floor coverings adorns the wall. Diane Deam does quirky cat and dog portraits. But not all the art is animal-related. Ms. Johnson is interested in featuring local artists, maybe new to the scene, showcasing their work.
And some (she says approximately 10%) of the pet products are homemade. From Columbus creators: ceramic bowls, hemp collars, cat toys. Other specialty collars and pillows come from individuals.
As we're talking the wagging-tail dog clock barks on cue. I ask her what she's learned in the six months the store's been open. "That I have no time!! I've found myself sleeping on these wonderful dog beds!" (In addition to elephant-themed, there's also orangutang, cheetah, and bear.) All fur is faux. The oversized Dalmatian-spotted stuffed bone and "buddy" dominate the room.
The window display changes monthly. At my visit, the pet headgear hangs from the high ceiling: crowns, tiaras, motorcycle hats, the grad's cap, the Mad Hatter birthday, wedding veil, the medieval-princess pointed look. Of course, there are pet costumes: bride and groom, the Hawaiian ensemble, Burberry coats, terry bathrobes, slickers. Halloween pet-costumers take note. Lines of pet clothing include: Animal Wrappers, Doggie Design, Max's Closet. Anything can be special-ordered from catalogues.
For humans, the purses: upon them depicted, in turn, a rhinestone-crowned Pomeranian, a pink poodle with tiara-d owner, Peggy Guggenheim with a Lhasa apso in Venice. The amazing stuffed pets (faux) are for display only. Rhinestone, studded, and spiked collars can be for pets and/or humans. Swanky Yankee collars feature Swarovski crystals. The Red Tango line includes black cat clocks, bags, T-shirts, shorts, and pillows (for humans).
Designer pet beds by Poochie of Beverly Hills are feathered, velvety, leopard spotted. (Jo can attest they're comfy.) How about mood collars (as in mood rings) - Barbara Walters's dog has one. (Does her dog bark "Baba Wawa?") Doggles, protective canine eyewear, are hot sellers. Fox and Hounds leashes, collars, carriers, and accessories are available, inspired by Reese Witherspoon's dog Bruiser in the Legally Blonde 2.
Catnip cigars have arrived! Also, the real fluff, buds yet, Enchantacat catnip. Yummie Chummies, Alaskan salmon cat treats, prove that what's good for human is good for cats. Ms. Johnson speaks: "There's not enough knowledge out there about what pets are eating." Quality human-grade treats and food are the rule. Also, Jo's supporting small independent vendors like Arfy's natural and hand-cut dog treats, and Teddy's dog treats, flower-shaped, artfully packaged, with a portion of the proceeds going to the American Cancer Society's Dog Walk (CEO: Teddy, a rescued dog in NYC).
More: Yip Yap breath fresheners. Roofles dog waffles. GRRRetzles. Frozen treats for summer months. The entrance to the back room says DINNER IS SERVED above the door. It's a cool food room with the big bags of the real stuff.
To hold the stuff: crown-like dishes - jester, king, queen; hand-painted ceramic dishes, and the ergonomically correct scoop/dish with non-skid bottom from WetnOz. Stainless steel with "haze, moss, or brio" rubber legs. Suitable for cereal, sushi, or dog food! Check it out!
Meanwhile, back to the cats. The World's Best Cat Litter is made from ground whole corn kernels. Sticky Paws invisible double-sided tape keeps cats away from house plants, furniture, and counter tops. The "cat wall" weighs 3 pounds and holds 50 pounds. The "kitty walk" with industrial-strength fishnet keeps an indoor cat safely contained outside. In the same line, there's also a "penthouse" and a "stroller."
There are bicycle baskets (like Toto's) and strapped-to-human pet carriers (like baby's). The pet car seats look safe and comfy, with stash areas for food, leashes, etc.
This is not to say everything is outlandish. The usual grooming items, toys, bath accessories, beds, collars, and leashes, can be found for daily use. There will always be a sale table. There will be pet treats given away every day, treats for humans at Gallery Hop.
Well, we've got carried away. The shop door opens, and it's a doggie client of Jo Johnson's from her pet-sitting service, All Taken Care Of, a project she started six years ago. Jo manages it now, delegating the dog-walking to others. "My reason to open the store was to get in from the weather, but I still want to be involved with pets daily."
Ms. Johnson is from Memphis, migrated to Louisville, then Columbus for the past 20 years. "I've got a mixed-up compass - I thought I was heading south!" After years with Aveda in sales, and then working with the construction business, Jo has mixed-up art, pets, and the Short North. Just a glance at her pet photo board shows some mighty happy customers (lick, lick). To call: (614) 299-pets. To click: poshpetsboutique.com.Jo Johnson, proprietor of Posh Pets, 743 N. High Street, beside her blue Doberman, Cirrus. Jo is also the owner and manager of a pet-sitting service, All Taken Care Of. Visit Posh Pets Tuesday thru Friday 11-6, Saturday Noon-7 or Sunday Noon- 4. Call 299-PETS for more information.
Posh Pets is not just for pet owners. It's for anyone who likes to look at creative stuff artfully displayed: Paintings, sculpture, arts and crafts are included among the fascinating articles of pet merchandise. Ms. Johnson tracks down the coolest stuff from trade shows and catalogues, but maintains a commitment toward and interest in local homemade goods.
Christine McDevitt steps beyond bounds of social work into bodywork
By the time you read this, April Fools Day and beyond, perhaps the landscape won't be large compacted gray lumps (old snow). Maybe that weather has faded from memory. But if your physical self still feels like those lumps, there is help for you.
Perhaps this is the most relaxed column I've written. I've just had an experience where the part of my palm between my thumb and forefinger felt like a flaming flowering oriental fan. The trigger points under my brain opened up a world of lilies and stars. Relief from pain in my lower back made me a supple sapling, enabling me later to reach for the things on the floor and over to the side like a ballet dancer.
All this esoteric sounding prose came to me after a therapeutic massage from Healing Ways' Christine McDevitt.
Two months ago I interviewed John McCutcheon and wrote about his synthesis of art and counseling. Now I find another therapeutic merger of massage and social work in the person of Christine McDevitt.
She, a Columbus native and OSU graduate, veered off from getting a Masters in Social Work and went into massage therapy. An impressive grouping of diplomas on her wall represents her study in different fields of massage: Swedish, Hot Stone, Sports, Myofascial, Polarity, Reiki.
As she sat on the forest green slipcovered couch, with the late afternoon sun streaming through the windows facing Goodale Park, Ms. McDevitt explained how she had wanted to go beyond the parameters of social work. With her gentle demeanor, oval tortoise-shell glasses, short brown hair, lavender polo shirt, and off-white pants, she didn't look as though she'd spent years with referrals of crisis intervention, especially children with severe behavior problems. The standard rule was: "no touching." In more recent years there were "healthy touch" workshops, on handshakes and hugs, but Ms. McDevitt felt she wanted to deal with massage and counseling together. She wanted clients to see her because they wanted to, not because they were told to see her by a judge.
After receiving massage to recuperate from a car accident, Christine realized she wanted a more personal way of supporting people. She calls her oasis of relaxation in the heart of the Short North "social work without the cell phone." The treatment is tailored to the individual. You fill out a health history much like the doctors. You and the therapist reach consensus on the style of treatment.
There's no noticeable sign for Healing Ways. In fact, the comfortable yet professional space is a converted apartment in the Victorian Gate. What was once a large living and dining room is now walled off for a massage studio. The former bedroom is Christine's space; and one finds the lavender and white walls adorned with art: a tie-dye mandala by Athena of Bloomington, Indiana (a Comfest buy - later I would watch it ripple from the heat's rays); Meredith Martin's "Sun Bear"; flower photographs by Monica Brown of Grandview; Linda Apple's prints of her large paintings, ethereal figures; and "Lioness" by Hayes Norris, an Arts Festival purchase.
A cat Buddha beams from a high perch; Christine won it in a raffle. Elliot the small-scale skeleton is used to educate clients about injury and treatment. Posters of "trigger points" (especially sensitive parts of the body; the connections) loom near the massage table (heated, oh so comfortable). Plants, candles, music, incense - all are evoking harmony.
Some great uses of the apartment: a closet transformed into a desk behind a curtain. The health records are kept locked in the kitchen's pantry, under the watch of a sun mirror. The laundry room means immediate cleaning of all linens. A special wheel-chair ramp to the inner, courtyard door.
Healing Ways resided at 22 Buttles for five years (by the decorated pole, recently removed). It's been in the present location, 672 Park St., for one year. The new room is rented by the two practitioners, Eileen Lynch, who practices massage and cranial-sacral therapy, and Donna Adassa, who has practiced aura, chakra and crystal balancing, and energy work for 25 years. The room (Christine at this writing is actually looking for a 3rd practitioner to rent this space) of Eileen and Donna contains an Alex Grey print of a person in meditation, woven fabrics on the wall, a temple-like atmosphere.
I'm interested in the different schools of massage. Swedish, I know, is the hands-on-relax-yet-stimulate kneading of tired muscles and circulation. It's required in the State of Ohio for a massage license. But what about those hot stones?
Christine takes me to - this is a great touch (no pun intended) - a turkey roaster where 20 dark, smooth stones (basalt, collected in Maine and New Hampshire) reside in water, awaiting warmth. Some warmed stones are placed on the massage table, under back and shoulders, on top of the body above the chest and under the belly, while other stones are held in the practitioner's hand in order to massage. This therapy is useful for high-level muscle tension, but should not be used on persons with high-blood pressure or on a pregnant woman. It's four years recent, Christine's teacher was trained in Europe. She calls it a "winter thing", and says she constantly asks for client feedback during this technique. She says her clients love "the little stones between the toes" which really relax the foot and leg.
Sports massage is directed toward sports injury or strain. Ms. McDevitt says she has both body builders and marathon runners as clients. This, as you may imagine, is not total massage but a focus on scar tissue, exterior and interior. Pres-sure is actually applied against the grain of the muscle (cross fiber), using friction and stretching to alleviate micro-tears in the muscles and the toxins in these tears.
Reiki and Polarity are forms of working with energy systems. This is to relieve and inform the client of what they might be doing to stop energy from flowing freely through the body: clenching teeth or hands, bunching shoulders, upset stomach, for example.
Myo-fascial massage addresses the thin film of fascia (like saran wrap around the muscles). It gets bunched-up or pulled to one side. Poor circulation and restricted movement accompany this. The massage therapist applies sustained pressure (90 seconds) until the muscle "melts". It impacts the nerve that is giving the muscle the message to "tighten up". The energy "cysts" come out in this type of massage. The emotional component can be locked in these cysts, too.
On the dark green couch in the waiting room, I sit and look at joggers in the park. It's like being in the country in the city. Massage patients can walk in the park afterward, relax at North Market or a restaurant in the Short North. The oil painting of an adobe dwelling beneath a mountain (above the couch) brings thoughts of ascending to the heights. The painting changes with the light. It has no glass to eliminate glare. All details are thought-out at Healing Ways. As Christine and I sit there, we realize we're on the site of the former White Cross Hospital, where both of us were born. My brain waves curl in realization like the curly bamboo on the table next to me.
Eileen Lynch comes in and explains cranial-sacral massage. It's easy for people who are uncomfortable with massage, as the gentle touching is done without the client disrobing.
Dr. John Upleger developed this technique from the School of Osteopathic Medicine. This technique involves the pulse of the cerebral-spinal fluid. It is especially good for the victim of a car injury (such as whiplash), migraine headache sufferers, those with chronic fatigue syndrome or insomnia.
Special note to those of you intending to volunteer for work at the Channel 34 (WOSU-TV) auction: Christine McDevitt will be coordinating the free massage there for all volunteers (last week of April thur the first week of May). Here at 672 N. Park St. one can sit and think, despite all the world's troubles, there is a ray of hope and equilibrium in the midst of turmoil.
Editors Note: Healing Ways is now located at 3474 N. High St., Ste D, one block north of East North Broadway in Clintonville. Call 614-261-6464. (Updated 2013)
New Ideas Appearing at Lemongrass: Vitt Family Looks to the Future
Lemongrass Asian Bistro, 641 N. High Street, is changing. Stop by and see the new bar area in the front of the restaurant. The piano, always a welcome Lemongrass addition, is also up front. The dining balcony overlooking the street will remain.
The Gallery, known as Lanning at Lemongrass, remains at the back: quiet, serene, filled with diners and the aroma of fresh herbs. Just beyond the Gallery is the Atrium, available for parties and other private gatherings. The lulling sound of a fountain fills the large open space.
Pete Vitt, the owner of Lemongrass, is excited about all the changes. There's more: a sushi bar by the kitchen, scheduled for summer. And many new menu items. Roger Williams, who designed the spare-with-sumptuous-touches décor of Lemongrass, will continue to orchestrate the rearrangements. And the Vitt family will continue to invent the new recipes.
Mr. Vitt sits with me in the long corridor with tables, connecting the new bar area with the future sushi area and the Gallery. He is wearing a crisp white Ralph Lauren shirt, comfortable in his element. He is reluctant to talk about his past at first, wanting instead to talk about the future.
By the time you read this, some of his new menu items should be in place: salmon and crab cake, fried calamari with basil sauce, a lobster entrée, Burmese style beef salad, spicy teriyaki chicken, French bread club sandwich, corn shell wraps with satay sauce, spicy fishcakes. And a 4-7 Happy Hour with free hors d'oeuvres. There's also mention of sauerkraut balls, a special recipe of his godfather, who has German ancestry.
Lemongrass embraces the concept of "fusion" cuisine, taking elements from the French, Italian, Mediterranean, as well as Asian, and combining them into uniquely healthy, fresh American dishes. This trend started on the west coast, California and Seattle. In Seattle the bistros carry on from early breakfast to late night, says Mr. Vitt, but Lemongrass is open these hours: Lunch: Monday-Friday 11:30 am -2:30 pm. Dinner: Monday - Thursday 5 &endash; 10 pm, Friday 5 - 11 pm, Saturday 3 - 11 pm, and Sunday 3 - 10 pm.
Lemongrass is known for its creative use of herbs: lime leaf, basil, lemon grass, shallot, onion, dill, garlic, thyme, cilantro, parsley, peppercorn, and rosemary - many fresh from Florida, even fresher are the ones grown by the Vitt family. Each dish can be cooked to order, to the level of spice desired. Extra virgin olive oil is the only oil used.
Lemongrass has 15 employees. The prep kitchen is downstairs. Mr. Vitt and his wife, Chor, do a lot of the cooking themselves. Mr. Vitt laughs when I ask him how he got to Columbus from his home in Thailand. He explains he was a cultural exchange student, staying with local families, first at the University of Kentucky, and then at Ohio State. He came to the United States in 1969, majoring in business. By 1971 he was in Columbus. He transferred to Franklin University and graduated there. He never finished grad school because by that time the Vitts were married and had their first child. He worked at Rax Restaurant and felt he learned a lot there. By 1987, Mr. Vitt had become an American citizen and he and his wife had their own restaurant.
You may remember with fondness Thai Palace, on route 161 by the French Market. This they continued for 13 years, then developed Lemongrass. They ran the two restaurants for one year, then transferred all their efforts to their jewel-like space in the Short North.
In the meantime, two Vitt sons grew up. Jesse, 20, is the Vitts' older son. He challenges the cuisine with vegetarian preferences, says Mr. Vitt. He credits his son Jordan, 18, with inventing and developing the Lemongrass salad (the best-selling dish, consisting of greens and fruit topped with crispy noodles and signature lemongrass dressing). Jordan, a straight-A student who wants to be a marine biologist, helps out at the restaurant on Gallery Hop nights ("Crazy!" says Mr. Vitt) and also helps develop sushi and dessert recipes.
Mr. Vitt comes from a restaurant/hotel background from his family in Thailand, and still visits there frequently. He laughs once again when I ask what he'd be doing if he didn't have a restaurant. "Travel! My sister retired at 36 and has seen all Seven Wonders of the World!" He's looking forward to his trusty manager, Josh Brown, coming back, so he can get away at times. He also compliments his "great landlord," Sandy Wood. Mr. Wood will be installing a new air conditioning system in Lemongrass, which will hopefully solve any lingering questions about smoke traveling from the bar into the smoke-free Gallery.
Mr. Vitt wants to please his diverse clientele. To this end, he also mentions the "limited but with much variety" wine list, with "low-end wines comparable to high-end tastes."
The art, curated by Ursula Lanning, will change bi-monthly. The rest of the changes are happening as fast as the Vitts and their designer and manager can implement them. If you haven't been to Lemongrass lately, the time is now to see the future of fusion cuisine and understated elegance.
Perspective 24 and Sean Christopher Gallery
Counseling, Coaching, and Creativity are the Gifts of John McCutcheon
In the left front flank of the Greystone building on High Street is a series of rooms, lined up like planets, leading to John McCutcheon's desk. The physical manifestations of his life-art- practice occur here: counseling, holistic coaching, his artwork - along with others'. Perspective 24 is the counseling end ("perspective" is always cropping up in his work - "24" for the hours in "one day at a time") and Sean Christopher is the gallery end (for John and Catherine's two sons, age 13 and 10 respectively).
Plants, a photo of the Dalai Lama, a fountain with peaceful sound, candles; white walls set off the many pieces of art. A fanciful bench features morning glories and butterflies. A Bach Flower Remedy chart hangs near the desk. John uses passages from the Bach Flower Remedy book Affirmations in his work.
John McCutcheon states that his artwork, sense of community, and counseling work are not separate entities. He invites like-minded groups (poets, healing facilitators) to rent the gallery space for meetings and workshops. In the gallery, the largest of the rooms, he holds a men's anger management group, matching advanced members/counselors to novices. He feels the art in the gallery affects the work and the way the men process with each other.
In addition to anger management, John also provides counseling for substance dependency, including 12-step and secular recovery alternatives; individual, family, and couples life-coaching services; bereave-ment and depression workshops as well as expressive arts workshops, enhancing creativity, "play therapy" for children, "inner child" work for adults. Less tradi-tional therapies include chakra balancing, aromatherapy, feng shui - or just getting artists out of creative block!
I looked at Randy Oldrieve's hand-torn paper collages. They made me feel calm with their color sense and spare composition. I looked at Tiger Spreng's acrylic/encaustic/glass/ink work. I felt inspired to do my own collage work. I looked at John McCutcheon's Plums/ Beachfront and thought of the Jersey shore. Some of the ingredients of the piece are confectioner's sugar, sprinkled brick color-dust, and an overlay of paint sprays over paint masks. I looked at his Mayflowers and June Bugs piece and looked forward to the springtime!
You might think that McCutcheon's counseling/art background is a little eclectic. You're right. He earned his counseling credential at Jersey City State College and Rutgers Summer Institute and came to Columbus for an MFA program in sculpture at The Ohio State University in 1986. He was going to teach art at the college level (and did while in the program) but soon began work with the North Central Mental Health Services where he spent nearly a decade, eventually becoming a leader for the Community Treatment Team for dual-diagnosed mental illness plus chemical dependency patients.
Monies were available then for non-traditional methods. The program won national awards (Best Adult Program by the National Case Management Association). But then times changed; monies dried up for creative non-traditional therapies.
All the while, McCutcheon was developing his art career, both in two-dimensional and installation. In the mid-'90s he became "AKA Johnny Aquarius." He used that name first at a performance piece in Hopkins Hall (OSU). He sprayed food coloring with mist bottles to an installation of coffee filters and coconut slivers attached to the wall, symbolizing the connection between air and sky. With a young boy (an impromptu accomplice) he unfolded "Santa's beard material" simultaneously as his spoken word story unfolded about Les Wexner's connection as an art-angel. Meanwhile, a large chunk of dried coconut slivers was passed through the audience "like a large cloud."
Moving on from there, one can see the evidence of McCutcheon's holistic/sensual/elemental side in the photos of Blankets and Pillows, a temporary outdoor installation weaving sky and earth together - actually beds on grass outdoors. (Coconut slices for aromatic effect as well.) Also on display are the painted-napkin pieces, memory images of the Jersey shore where John grew up.
More recently McCutcheon (who is in his fourth year on the Board of the Ohio Art League) did an installation for same called Cocktails on the Rocks &endash; stones with holes drilled holding cocktail umbrellas. It looked like a runner (rug) or "little islands"- we're talking 600 of these in juxtaposition at the gallery at Ft. Hayes!
Arts Impact Middle School (in the Short North) takes field trips to the Sean Christopher Gallery. They loved the November 2002 Sun You exhibit with jungle animals glued to the walls. In March and April (at the Gallery Hop), you'll encounter a show of works from the House of Hope residents (where John also counsels) featuring multi-media sound, line drawings of "heaven" and "recovery" interviews - "anonymous revelations." And in April a book-signing of Mommy Why Do You Drink Drug? from the Amethyst program of women's treatment.
Perspective 24 pulls the art out of the part of people that's walking around numb. Recently we saw a show of art using super-heroes and super-heroines! Look for a rumored exhibit of valentines. Look for Shawnda, the marvelous purveyor of Furniture ETC at the Greystone, pass on across the hall to the Sean Christopher, then further back to the serene office. Relax. Enjoy. Healing and viewing are all one.
John McCutcheon offers counseling and life coaching services at Perspective 24, 815 N. High Street in the Greystone Building. The Sean Christopher Fine Art Gallery at the same location is open during Gallery Hops or Wednesday through Friday from 3:30 to 5:30 pm or by appointment. Call 291-5890 for more information.
"Happy New Year Columbus 2003"
The Divine Bovine
On a cold winter Hop Night –
The Short North swathed in white
A vision benevolent and beatific too
Hove from the hole near K2U.
Out of 670's hole, guided by arches
Came a cool creature moon-white
Lovely horns and lovely skin
Her mooed message above the din:
"Beer-riots following victory
Show our hayseed roots you see
Billboards touting beer as fun
Dot the campus ad infinitum.
Students know not what to do
All their hangouts knocked down too
The herdheads challenge everyone
As they shout, "Mooove over Michigan!"
Let us leave the drink aside.
Concentrate on previous pride.
Health and faith, beauty and art,
Good food fixed with skill and heart.
This is Columbus here and now
I am the city's Sacred Cow.
You can call me Elsinore."
"Yell-some-more?" someone implored.
"Please no more yelling,"
(The beloved cow telling)
As the Hopping crowd listened,
Beatific cow eyes glistened.
"Five stars in your crown
For them you're renowned
Don't let your guard down:
I'm redeeming this town!
On a hunt we'll go scavenge
Five stars of sweet revenge
Taking back the reputation
Of this great city's infatuation
With the finer things of Life.
We can end this mindless strife."
With a snowy toss of head
The beauteous bovine stood and said.
"Out of the pit came you?" queried
Bonnie of Baskets.
"You must be a pitbull."
(Her udders were masked.)
And on her head she sported a laurel
Fashioned especially by that Wild Plum Floral.
The wild and beguiling Elsinore
Wandered to Open Book's open door.
"We'll have to figure," said the Scavenger-elect,
"A way for my stars and the laurel to connect."
Out of Posh Pet's doorway there suddenly loomed
Two figures Doo Wac'd (impeccably groomed).
"We can help!" - said the pair - and in a flash
They drew a small bottle out of their stash.
No alcohol was this, but Elmer's Glue.
'Twere Columbus's own twin glue gurus.
Elmer and Elsie's nostrils flared.
The Gallery Hoppers stared and stared.
Betwixt the bovines a glance exchanged
The Hoppers knew they weren't de-ranged.
These were city cows, of course.
The cows knew The Garden, and JungHaus.
They knew Haiku, they knew L'Antibes.
They knew Antiques and Eccentricities.
The knew Anew and Again and Byzantium.
They knew Chittenden Veterinarian.
A car encrusted pulled up just then,
It shone with crystals and glued little men.
Elsie and Elmer shouldered into their limo,
The be-dazzled duo took off in a brisk blow.
Before the crowd could turn to go
The Sacred Cow blurred in the snow
She succumbed E?L (oh not very nice E?L)
Our Divine Bovine slipped on the ice!
The crowd parted, aghast, at such a spectre.
Quickly a blanket was brought to protect her.
Soon Healing Ways and Vic Village Health
Restored Elsinore to vigor and stealth.
A star of Health glued on her brow
She had the strength of ten snowplows.
Thus bedecked, no galleries were pissed at her,
From Lindsay to Greystone's Sean Christopher.
For Faith's star she went in a lurch
Off to seek the 4th Avenue Church.
Saints Mark, Francis, and Anthony
Held up the second star's prophecy.
That she'd shed a few more tears
For those not behaving due to beer.
The saints looked on while Elsinore, transfixed,
Had her second star affixed.
The third great star, at Insty-Prints?
Maybe Mary Catherine's?
Byfords, Riley, Urban Gardener?
Elevator? Yankee Trader?
Beauty can be everywhere E?L
Pisa Pete's garden or Dragonfly's lair.
It's in the eye of Eyeworks' beholder.
But never in a car that smolders.
Her Art star, retrieved at A Muse Gallery,
She set on to Cameo for more cowaraderie E?L
Artistically Bent, she mustered on to the fore
(Four Winds) with the coveted star number four.
The snow it swirled around Elsinore
Her face was hidden much like before.
When she reappeared her face was glowing,
Reflected in North Market's cornucopia flowing.
Then to Spinelli's, to Skully's, to Eleni Christina!
To Betty's, with no bedeviled demeanor!
To Braddock's, Blazer's, and B. Hampton's!
Leaving aside sophomoric tantrums!
The fifth and final star, Food, did fling
Its load on a city unsuspecting.
From the "split" downtown (70-71)
Came a cry heard at the Short North Tavern.
"Excelsior!" - Elsie and Elmer mooed in delight.
The sound waves smoldered throughout the night.
Burkhart Portrait of Thurber's Mother Mame Full of Mischief and Merriment
"I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it" - Henry D. Thoreau, Walden
"Sunlight on the rusty iron in a junkyard is as beautiful as the crown jewels of England if you have the capacity to see it and appreciate it."- Emerson Burkhart, quoted in Columbus Citizen-Journal July 19, 1965
Emerson Burkhart, the Columbus artist, was a friend of my father's. He spent many of his birthdays with our family, because he was fond of my mother's meatloaf and pound cake, and good conversation. We also took trips with him to Bun's in Delaware (he was a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan). And, of course, we visited him in his large house on Woodland Avenue, both during his annual openings and other times.
Recently, I was fortunate to be able to visit Concord, Massachusetts, town of Henry David Thoreau, and walk meditatively around Walden Pond. I was surprised that Walden (a deep "kettle" lake formed by a glacier) is thought of as the local swimming lake by the Concord residents. It was a brilliant day and many were swimming, sunning, and walking. The air was crisp with the promise of autumn, but warm as summer.
It came to me since I've returned to Columbus that Emerson Burkhart is our own irascible Thoreau character. Thoreau wrote about nature and man's place in it. Burkhart painted it and made us see it in all its glory, but also its quirkiness and unevenness. Burkhart also made us see the city, the train and the automobile. Just like Thoreau, he froze his vision (Thoreau in writing, Burkhart in oils and watercolors) as a legacy to all who came after, to seek out the knowledge if they will.
Walden Pond and several replicas of Thoreau's cabin are still available to visit. And the Walden wayfarer puts a stone on the cairn that marks the original site of the cabin. In Columbus, we don't have such a strong sense of site preservation. But we do have Burkhart's paintings! And some pretty fine quotations from his erratic but articulate discourse.
"For a long time I've had a dream about the Scioto River. I'd like to see it become a great center for beauty. A place where there are statues children can look at and touch. Buddhas from India, maybe; every great country in the world could contribute something. We could call it the Columbus One-World River, and put boats and gondolas there E?L But you can't just buy it or legislate it ... You need a few geniuses in there working for it." - Burkhart quote from the same C-J article
Burkhart traveled and painted the world in his later years. Another thing he did his whole life was paint portraits, his own and others.
Emerson Burkhart was introduced to Mrs. Thurber when she lived at the Southern Hotel in 1951. The go-between was Paul North, an eccentric book and art dealer and collector. Burkhart sketched her at Room 510, then painted the oil at his home. He had just painted a portrait of Carl Sandburg who had been in Columbus doing readings. The two portraits would be paired later.
Apparently Burkhart had promised the Thurber family he would not sell the portrait of "Mame" to anyone else. The Thurbers did not want it; they thought it made her look "old." (She was in her eighties at the time.) This was the opinion of James Thurber's brothers; James was blind and could not see the portrait.
Paul North purchased the painting from Burkhart in the early '50s, soon after it was completed. He annoyed Robert Thurber with constant letters (the letters now in a private collection) harassing the Thurber family to buy it. Robert also advised the OSU Library not to buy it from North.
North tried to exchange the portrait for valuable Thurberana; again no dice from Robert. Robert advised North to "dispose of it to some out-of-state library or collector." (Letter to Paul North, dated Nov. 2, 1964.) Remember that Burkhart was still alive at this time; he died in 1969.
In a letter dated March 30, 1965, Robert Thurber is asking for a "cessation of correspondence" from North. Apparently North was also trying to sell a baseball book to Robert.
Cut to 1984, when Lewis Branscomb, a professor emeritus of the OSU Library, donated the painting to the Library. In his accompanying statement, he says he bought the portrait in 1971 from Paul North. Perhaps he saw it at the large retrospective of Burkhart's work at the Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts (as it was known then) - that show running Nov. 6, 1970 to Jan. 6, 1971. Mrs. Thurber's portrait was paired with the Sandburg painting then, and also previously at a show at the "Jewish Center on College Avenue" (I'm quoting Paul North's statement about the painting, dated Sept. 22, 1971) and the Franklin County Historical Society in 1961.
In all fairness, it is not Burkhart's best work. It appears to have been painted quickly. The background is stark, dark, almost foreboding. And yet, the mischief and merriment shine from Mrs. Thurber's eyes. The folds of the brown dress read well from a distance. The age-lines are handsome, not detracting. The photo of the portrait (not attributed to Burkhart) in The Thurber Album does not do the original justice.
Apparently the lack of acknowledgement of Burkhart (in the book) was intentional and a sore point between the Thurber family and Burkhart. Why use the painting at all in the book if the Thurber family did not like it?
To compare Burkhart's portrait work, see his Roman Johnson at the Columbus Museum of Art, and the portrait of Roman Johnson's mother, called The Matriarch. The Mame Thurber painting now resides at the Thurber House, 77 Jefferson Avenue, in Columbus. Mrs. Thurber is still smiling sweetly but has a demonic look in her eye. She is bathed in controversy, her favorite spot.
Maxine Meets Her Audience
Franny's Hallmark Shop and Gift Gallery goes way beyond cards
Sometimes, you have to wander farther afield for the exotic. I ventured to the outer Sawmill at the behest of my friend Dianne Messick to witness an annual nocturnal ritual.
It was truly Christmas in July. I joined the members of the Capital City Collector's Club (10-12 members, an exclusive club) at Franny's Hallmark Shop & Gift Gallery, 6600 Sawmill Road. Before joining, you have to be a member in good standing in the Hallmark Collector's Club. Members gather once a year at 10 pm for the unveiling of the Hallmark ornaments.
The staff of Franny's Hallmark, including Dianne, wore costumes depicting characters among the ornaments for 2002, i.e., Harry Potter, Dorothy and Toto, Darth Vader, and the curmudgeonness of cards, Maxine. The members of the Club were dressed according to their concept of what "Santa's Night Out" would be (the slogan for 2002). They were mostly wearing bathrobes and p.j.'s and carrying stuffed animals. Flash pictures were ubiquitous. Fortunately it was a cool night so the costumed did not keel over of heatstroke, even in AC.
Food and Games
Refreshments were served: subs, cake, pop, coffee, dips with chips, breadsticks, luscious strawberries, but all on a Christmas table. Franny supplied the food. The expectant murmur of voices preceded the actual festivities, as everyone munched.
Maxine, I learned, was not just on cards, but a doormat, desk accessories, kitchen accessories, a book, a figurine as well. Royal, his real name, just in from Boston, was the young preppy Hallmark "rep" in attendance. One wall of the store was covered with a red cloth (huge) that read "Do Not Open Until Ornament Premiere." Maxine, AKA Dianne, in Santa Hat and bunny slippers, introduced the staff fashion show.
Club members got to judge the costumes. They discussed the judging very seriously, coming up with categories such as Most Adorable, Darkest, Most Magical, and Best Rep of the Club. Maxine's blue hair jiggled with glee. Dianne's Yankee Trader wig was dyed with blue tempera powder, she said.
We played games: Santa Bingo, the letters of Santa in place of Bingo, names of ornaments in place of numbers, much work on this done by Club President Robin Bricker. We did storytelling by using pictures of ornaments as cues (involved 15 minutes for preparation).
Then the unveiling! All Franny's staff had to help in the lowering of the red curtain. Much ado was made over the castle ornament that converted into a jewelry box, which also plays music while a ballerina in castle interior dances. Here's the train and the airplane! Oh look at Scarlett! Maxine pointed out that the centerpiece of the ornament will convert into a Christmas tree come October (superceding Halloween).
Dianne Messick as "Maxine"
The Maxine Ornament says many curmudgeonish things. There's a Yellow Submarine lunchbox ornament and a G.I. Joe lunchbox ornament, each complete with miniature thermos. There's a Death Star ornament (for a Goth tree?) and a Star Trek Delta Flyer that says "We're on a mission of peaceful exploration." The Luke Skywalker ornament is all in black with a green light sword. As I'm admiring the charming earth globe, I'm presented with a free ornament (penguins snow-discing).
There's a tin-covered bridge, 1957 Ford Ranchero ornaments, and even more complex ones: a mailbox that looks like a quonset hut on a stick, with milk and cookies inside, a real rolled-up miniature newspaper in the tube; Tigger and Piglet skating on a lake while Pooh, Roo, and a snowman watch.
Club Members hauled their ornament "loot" out in groaning shopping bags. The foodstuffs were narrowed down to donuts and coffee as the others, non-Club members, waiting on the outside until midnight, were let in. They might have to order theirs, might not get them at all &endash; it was rumored. But there is some instant gratification for them &endash; they seemed to have full shopping bags too.
I got back home around 1:30 am. Franny's stays open til 2 am on this night of nights, reopens at 8 am for more eager ornament shoppers.
"Thanks" to Dianne for letting me be a "fly on the wall" at this frenzy of delight. I also enjoyed a quick tour of the storeroom, with huge movable metal shelves, a marvel of efficiency. I felt like I'd gone backstage at a Broadway show!
Franny's Hallmark goes way beyond cards. It was like a flower that opens at night, and blooms once a year.
Look out Columbus!
Here comes Kimberly Ingram, florist extraordinaire!
Kimberly Ingram of the Wild Plum Floral Company, 938 Dennison Avenue (at Price), wants you to come smell the flowers! She's been in the former Victorian Village Grocery since last September 4. As she nears her first anniversary of business, she waxes enthusiastic about the supportive neighborhood, her clientele, and the Short North. She's featuring weekly specials. She'll do your wedding, commitment ceremony, any kind of party. And she'll brighten your life; she makes people happy when she shows up on the doorstep.
"Wild Plum" in the symbolic language of flowers means "independence," and she is. She has only one employee and rises at 6 am to go choose the very finest flowers. They're coming to you from Holland, Ecuador, and California, among other worldwide locales. The Canadian ones get delivered once a week. The fine, fluffy, picture-of-health green plants come from Delaware, Ohio.
Ms. Ingram's constantly taking floral design classes to serve her high-style clientele. She's searching for that unique look for unique people. And her regulars keep coming back for more.
Come sit at her comfy old oak table and tell Kim your problems. "Getting men out of trouble is my business," she says. Her biggest seller is the "I'm Sorry" card. "I'm right in line behind the psychiatrist," she laughs.
She comes with great credentials. She's worked in the floral industry for ten years. And Dave Phillips's cat liked her. He's the landlord and former owner of the Victorian Village Grocery on the same site. Apparently his cat is very particular. He knew Ms. Ingram was the right tenant on that basis. (He still owns the insurance company next door.)
Let's talk about what you can get at Wild Plum. The former beer coolers - they look elegant holding flowers - display sunflowers, hydrangea, roses, snapdragons, freesia, gladiola, lilies E?L the list goes on and on and changes with the seasons. In plant life, false arealia, alocasia, Chinese evergreen, bromeliads, areca palm, peace lily, ficus, ferns, cactus, and carnivorous plants. In gift items, Colonial candles, silk flowers, Victorian porcelain, mini-books with golden-charmed bookmarks, and unique décor items such as wine glasses, diverse vases, and beaded vases by local artists.
Ms. Ingram will give you a free wedding guide and a copy of Columbus Bride. I liked the antiqued-wood "trog baskets" and the space-age wire-wrapped "16 test tube" holders for 16 individual flowers. "You can make daisies last for three weeks in those."
Ms. Ingram is lithe and natural in her beige overalls and crisp white shirt. She speaks of her "windfall" in starting up the business on three months notice. Under the fuchsia-colored tin roof, the place fairly crackles with order and beauty. She's caught up in "the Spirit of the Short North" with its "individualists." Find her there Monday thru Friday 10-6, Saturday 10-3. Deliveries in Franklin County are $6 each (Teleflora and FTD available). Call 298-0571. Wire flowers worldwide!
A Short Tour of the Short North Bead Truck
How do you recognize the Short North Bead Truck? Well, for starters, it says "Short North" on the tailgate in mirrored tiles. It's crisply painted in bright colors. And there's an arch in the truckbed.
On a recent Doo Dah day, I doffed my chicken costume and sat with Joyce Griffiths in Goodale Park. The Doo Dah Parade had just ended. It was beastly hot, but Joyce's demeanor was cool. She was dressed in cool blue-and-white ethnic-print overalls, a red-and-blue bead necklace, and obviously relished talking about her truck!
It is her truck because she keeps it at her home. But it is a group effort. Her husband Jeff affixed the arch to it and installs the living plants in the truckbed. Mary Martineau, formerly of Transformations and now of the Short North Business Association, is the co-artist and perpetrator. The employees of Griffiths at Byzantium, 1088 N. High, have glued beads and furthered its evolving look.
Griffiths's husband gave his consent, for it was partly his truck. Griffiths and Martineau saved it from a junkyard fate by envisioning the paint/bead job. At this Doo Dah, they decided to glorify the "Short North Possum," as opposed to the Short North Posse (nefarious gang of old). Ms. Martineau was disguised as a possum (she walked) and the truck had a "Possum Crossing" sign (Ms. Griffiths drove).
The two started painting on "the windiest day of the year." This is why many maple seeds are paintedly affixed to the truck. The body of the truck has large blocks of color, like states on a map. The top has stripes like a sherbety spectrum.
On the upper realms of the right side, blue glass fish swim through a sparkly ocean under a night sky with glow-in-the-dark moons and stars. Up-and-coming is a day sky with birds and butterflies. Bead flowers, birds, and leaves already adorn the hood. The purple-and-black Mona Lisa resides thereupon, with earrings, eyelashes, and a heart necklace. Ms. Griffiths hastens to add that the eyelashes and the "Odd Lots" arch have been the only things purchased since the project began. She is "cleaning house" by using up beads and other items that she's stored for "just the right moment."
A "snow globe idea" adorns the back. These are clear plastic boxes with loose glitter and beads inside, meant to jiggle when the truck hits a bump. Jeweled hubcaps swirl in movement. An old African bell and some bird bells jingle from the arch.
The truck will change with the seasons. The jungly plants and the Riddle topiary will give way to, say, a Christmas tree in winter. A beaded curtain will appear at the back window.
The "mylar space blanket upholstery" will soon feature gold 50's naugahyde stripes. And for a crowning glory: papier-mâché Byzantine domes, as in Byzantium's logo. Ms. Griffiths learned in a Caribbean island workshop how to papier-mâché permanently - using Lysol in the mixture to thwart chomping bugs and critters, and overall sealing for that weatherproof finish.
The Mona Lisa is sideways, of course, in keeping with the Short North's logo. Ms. Griffiths points out that "you have to get high to see her properly," meaning one's best viewpoint is from above, on a stepstool or a 2nd story window. So look for this evolving and moving work of art to come your way. We in the Columbus Artcar Community welcome our new "Painted and Beaded Lady of the Short North."
The Savage Sighs of Sam
A friend moved into the North Campus area lately, so we took a walk around the alleys. What we found: a 6-foot backyard alligator, a yard with the most lawn ornaments I've ever seen (the concrete geese covered with plastic bags in the winter, Christo-style), a car repair garage that looks like the Alamo, and Medary Elementary School.
Named for Sam Medary, an implacable newspaper editor and rabid Democrat, the publisher of three newspapers in Columbus: the Hemisphere, the Ohio Statesman, and (my favorite) the Columbus Crisis. All these before and during the Civil War.
Later I came to work at Medary School. I'll tell a tale both HAL-ish and hellish, of the immense chuffling and snorting furnace in the depths of Medary School.
I spent many hours in its adjacent "storeroom," gluing toys onto wagons.
I was upgrading the wagons for their future fate as raffle items at the Cultural Heritage Festival. As a guest artist, I'd sorted and glued the initial round of toys with the members of the Medary Boys and Girls Club, a lively bunch.
Medary School was built in 1892. Its peaked roof, red brick, and gray stone window ledges give off a friendly rather than formidable feeling. It dominates its neighborhood setting.
I assume the furnace has been upgraded since 1898. It has pipes turning back in and on itself like a drunken octopus made of gray rigatoni. I found myself making a mosaic design of convoluted swirls as a result of my proximity.
I later met Mr. Jones, the principal of Medary School. He wore pristine white sneakers, a crisp striped shirt, and a modest set of keys on his belt. He was everywhere at the Cultural Heritage Festival, taking digital photos and later cleaning up. He informed me that the school exterior would be saved, but that the interior "should be gutted and brought up to code." He also informed me the room I'd been working in was the "coal room" for the prior furnace. The room no longer has coal. What it does have is a story-high jumble of desks, chairs, and computers, a Jackson Pollock-like painting, a huge M&M candy character mounted on cardboard, and pottery from ancient art classes left forlornly for years to dry.
Fortunately, the room does not smell. But on a hot day when I'd exit the room, I'd smell that school hallway odor of stale vomit and sweat. I'd like the incense franchise in public schools.
The furnace I'll call SAM instead of HAL. It takes up a classroom-size room. It utters the ultimate sibilant every fifteen minutes, heat or cold be the weather, the savage wheeze from hell. At first I thought I would be killed from the compression and the claustrophobia. I would shift in my skewed chair, for, you see, the "floor" in the coal room was slanted like an Alpine runway, so the coal would roll toward SAM's ancestor. So many toys rolled by me and out of sight that when the school is gutted there will be treasure to burn.
And that reminds me of the story of Sam Medary. On March 5, 1863, a mob moved noiselessly through heavily falling snow toward the office of the Columbus Crisis. Medary, you see, was a protester of the Civil War, which didn't sit well with the citizenry of Columbus and the soldiers of Camp Chase. With bayonets poised, they kicked in the door at the corner of Gay and High. They sacked the place: books, furniture, fixtures destroyed, all doors and windows smashed. Copies of the Crisis were scattered by the thousands in the streets.
However, "Governor" Medary had gone to Cincinnati on the afternoon train. Buchanan had made him Governor of the Minnesota Territory and then the Kansas Territory. Medary's political career was over with his opposition to the Civil War and newspaper rantings about rebuking Lincoln.
Medary's name lives on with the school and the furnace. His opulent sighs of mercy for his CRISIS echo through my artwork. Mr. Jones says the wind blows parts of the school's roof off because of its rakish angle. It's Sam setting his cap for those who wronged him.
Mr. Jones, Principal of Medary Elementary School, located in Clintonville at 2500 Medary Avenue. The school, built in 1892 (photo left), was named for publisher Sam Medary, founder of pre-Civil War newspapers, the Hemisphere, the Ohio Statesman, and the Columbus Crisis.
Tour of Ohioddities: Roadside Attractions
Here's a little cruise I've worked out for you. At last test-drive (recently) there were no orange barrels on it. It takes half a day. Now that it's almost summer, there's no excuse for sitting around in the city when you could be out exploring the back roads. You'll feel refreshed when you return.
This is a motorist's tour away from blight. In recent years, we have seen Columbus malled and subdivided without mercy. You will see this at the beginning of the tour. Then, explore the best of small-town Ohio. This is not a tour with thrills and throbs. There will be curiosities and evidence of hidden blight in the heartland.
Speaking of Heartland, we'll be traveling to, at the center of our tour, Centerburg, which bills itself as "The Heart of Ohio," a heart-shaped state. So, relax, turn off your mind, and float down-stream. The flat landscape gives even the driver time to enjoy the passing scene. And, don't forget to sample some of Ohio's tasty treats along the way.
Here's a list of things to bring along: Yankee Trader plastic flies (12 for $1) and little caskets (4 for $2), the latter filled with jelly beans; meringue cookies, Scottish shortbread, Groucho glasses (I'll explain later.)
Head north on High Street past Worthington (Route 23). What you'll see is development, and then old farmhouses and fields ready to be destroyed for more development. Enjoy the farms and fields part.
Note the Kingman Drive-In sign on right. The Kingman got bulldozed last month. Site of a great flea market, car cruise-ins, and many a teenage tryst. Note the Perkins Observatory sign on right. It is named for Ohio Wesleyan professor of math and astronomy Hiram Mills Perkins (1833-1924) who gave OWU $200,000 to build it, and lifted the first shovelful of dirt in 1923.
Perkins is also the site of the Big Ear Radio Telescope, which received the "Wow" transmission on August 15, 1977, a message from space. The cause of the message was never determined. The radio signal never repeated. Big Ear was bulldozed in 1998 for a golf course and houses, but the Observatory remains (in the golf course).
Next you'll cross the Olentangy River and enter Delaware. Stay on 23 until you see the Williams Street/N. Sandusky Street exit. Take it. Turn left at the light. Cruise down Williams. A few blocks on the right, at the corner of Sandusky, is the Mean Bean Caffeine Lounge. Turn right and park along Sandusky. Delaware is known for Ohio Wesleyan and the Little Brown Jug Horse Race. As you stroll downtown, be sure and pick up on knick-knacks at Pilsner's Five and Dime. Nectar Candyland and the Saltbox Mercantile are across the street.
Side Trip: Backtrack a little - south on Sandusky, left on Olentangy, right on Stratford. At 1812 Stratford, visit Phil Kimball (740-363-5335) and his outdoor sculptures at Riverbend Studio.
Leaving Delaware: Back to the Mean Bean. North on Sandusky, left on Winter. Past poor burnt-out Bun's, the classic brick houses, the Arts Castle. (Site of the bicycle glue-in with Ramona Moon and artistic teens.) Turn right on Elizabeth at the Arts Castle. At the next block turn left on Central. Go a ways. Turn right on Troy Road. You're out in the country. Observe on your right the mysterious 5-pipe metal sculpture.
Turn right on Norton, left on Gillette. Stop at the "Waldo" sign. Here's a photo op. Large silos loom above (Ohiogro). Bring along your Where's Waldo book and wear a red-and-white striped shirt. (Amazing! Incredible!) Waldo was named for the son of Milo D. Pettibone, who laid out the town in 1831.
Turn right at the huge silos at the Co-op Sign. (This is Main Street, but not marked here.) This will take you to the home of the famous Bologna Sandwich at the G & R. Or, you can stop at the Village Tavern where the Walleye Basket, the Ostrich Burger, and the not-so-famous Bologna Sandwich are served. A Village Tavern habitué assured me that the bologna is just as good: "They like you to drink over there, too, but not as much." So it is your choice in downtown Waldo.
Now take 47 south to 229 east. Pretty soon you're in Ashley. Check out the pink house. Continue past Rusk Bros. Car Graveyard. Soon you're in Marengo. Take out those meringue cookies and eat them now. Soon you're in Sparta, home of Tim Belcher of the L.A. Dodgers. Eat the Scottish shortbread as you turn right onto 314 south at Highland High School, home of the Fighting Scots.
It is thought that Marengo's name commemorates Napoleon's defeat of the Austrians in 1800 at Marengo, Italy. Contemplate this as you pass the swamps and swimming holes between Sparta and Centerburg. Check out the "heart of Ohio"
sign as you turn right onto Main Street (Centerburg). Admire on your left the Red Pegasus on the perfectly preserved buff-brick gas station with arched windows and door. Pink house on right. Continue on Main, turn left into Kent's Kones at 3940 Columbus Road.
Kent's ("No tractor trailers beyond this point") has cool toy stuff in five different vending machines. On the menu you'll find: foot-long banana split, dirt sundae, trash can sundae, turtle parfait, sundae in a major league helmet, belly buster sundae, purple lady sundae, cookie monster sundae, green dragon milkshake, blue raspberry dip cone (among many other colors), and fish tails. And just about any other thing you'd want. Go ahead and indulge, Mayor Coleman can't see you.
Go back to the heart of the heart of town, turn right at Long Branch Pizza and the 1st Bank of Centerburg. This is Hartford Street, which turns into Croton farther out of town. Past the town of Hartford you'll find the blank buildings of the infamous Buckeye Egg farm. This is where you eat your caskets full of eggs. And your plastic flies E?L well, you can be creative. Fly swarms of "biblical proportions" have been unleashed from Buckeye Egg. Last September a Licking County jury ordered the company to pay $19.2 million to 21 neighbors. Let's hope they're not swarming as you pass by.
Continue on Croton to 37, turn left into Johnstown, named for Capt. James Johnston, an early landowner. Pink house on right. Jog up through Johnstown on 62 to Sportsman Club Road. Get out your Groucho glasses as we're headed to Fredonia. I could find no reference to the naming of Fredonia in Ohio reference books. So I must conclude it was named after the country of Freedonia in the Marx Bros. Movie Duck Soup. Groucho is Rufus T. Firefly, President of Freedonia.
Mrs. Teasdale (Margaret Dumont): As chairwoman of the reception committee of Freedonia, I welcome you with open arms. Groucho: Is that so? How late do you stay open? Mrs. T: I've sponsored your appointment because I feel you are the most able statesman in all Freedonia. Groucho: Well, that covers a lot of ground. Say, you cover a lot of ground yourself. You better beat it. I hear they're going to tear you down and put up an office building where you're standing. You can leave in a taxi. If you can't get a taxi you can leave in a huff. If that's too soon, you can leave in a minute and a huff.
Now where were we? Oh yes, Fredonia. Continue on Sportsman Club Road, which turns into Chestnut Hills Road to Vanatta (named for William Vanatta who came to the area in 1833.) Watch out for ground-hogs and the Avalanche Ranch. The road dead ends at 13, turn left. Go past the Moundbuilder Railroad Car. Now here comes a tricky part. Pay attention. It's worth it.
Turn right on Snyder. Nice iron bridge. Turn right on Donn Road. Turn left on Horns Hill Road; road takes a sharp right. By going straight you'll be on Newton
Road. This is a true country road. Just as you're thinking the road will get so small it runs up a tree, you turn right on Martinsburg Road. Watch for the duality of driveway ornaments. Two golden lions! Two giant baskets! (Foreshadowing) Two iron horses! Left on Swisher Road "Welcome to Poverty Knob." Swisher dead ends into 79. Turn right.
South on 79 past Eddyburg Road. Leave 79 and continue south on Dayton Road. You come over a ridge and see &endash; the Longaberger Basket Building! (Open in 1998 - hey that's the year Big Ear was torn down &endash; now we need the Big Basket to lure the space people to us.) You see, you took this roundabout route to experience the thrill of sneaking up on the Basket. (This is a good one for unsuspecting relatives.)
At the bottom of the hill, turn left on 16. Pass the Basket on the right, turn right on Marne Road. Go behind the Basket and then into the visitor parking lot. Go inside the Basket. Experience the 7-story atrium and the tasteful arrangement of baskets in home-like settings. (The grand piano was broken when I was there, but I hope they have it fixed for your visit.) Go to the bathroom. One of the women's bathrooms has ivy in urinals. Hey, just thank Longaberger (as you get your free post-card) for making the Columbus area a little closer to the kitsch capital of the world.
Now, you can either shoot straight back to Worthington on 16/161 or head for the Granville Inn for more goodies. I hope you had a good trip. It was fun scouting it out for you.
Those Cars - Coming to Columbus!
Decoration of vehicles: when and why? Gypsy wagons are an ancient display of ebullience and alternate values. Perhaps a transference from decorating one's livestock with bells and festoons. Why are these modern-day gypsies coming to Columbus to mingle with the obsessive car decorators who live here?
It's "Those Cars," a three-day tour-de-force that will pit art cars into the mix with hot rods, souped-up bicycles and motor-cycles, decorated wagons and pull-toys. As long as it moves, embellish it! It looks so good as it whizzes by.
On Friday, May 10, a "Downtown Drive-by," featuring local celebrities in art cars, will end up at Café Brioso, Gay and High, at 7 pm. Admission is $10 for a "patron party" with food and music and meet-the-artists. The expectation is high for these arrivees: Nancy Jacob aka Miss Liberty, Miss Liberty's Car, Hallowell, Maine; Dave Major, AeroCar 600, Benton, Kansas; Christa Ansbergs, Ecco, Vernon, Connecticut; Conrad Bladey, Handy, Linthicum, Maryland; Gary Coover, Yellow Submarine, Fayetteville, Arkansas; Bill Stevenson, Whimsy, Gumboro, Delaware; Joe Ficht, the Pollock-Mobile, Houston, Texas.
From now until June 1, you can see the art car exhibit on the walls, ceilings, and floors of Café Brioso. The infamous DooDah Dune Buggy (Dogmobile) is there; also photos of the Turkey Toyota and Emily Ramseyer's Bead Car: terrific glue art on car hoods and small cars by the talented students of Worthington Kil-bourne High School; and the Blue Bomber and the Pink Pacer, small-scale art cars. Greg Phelps's photos display close-ups of your favorite neighborhood art cars, and diverse moving art from other cultures.
There's the Tap-tap from Haiti, a bus of prismatic colors and designs. The becak (pronounced "bet-chek"), a decorated pedi-cab or rickshaw, is found throughout Indonesia (you can see one at Four Winds International Imports, 921 N. High Street). The Pakistani trucks and buses are a marvel to behold. Most notably, the designs on these painted vehicles depict movie stars, flora and fauna, religious icons, not advertising. Artists specialize in vehicle painting and carry out the whims of the owner/driver. Most car artists in this country "do it for themselves" as the ultimate self-expression to take directly to the public. No art gallery middlemen. No labels to read.
Other countries which feature decorated vehicles: Afghanistan, India, many Latin-American buses. The chivas of Columbia are geometric-patterned, wooden-bodied buses with set-in vignettes of landscapes, portraits, religious themes, humor, or fine art copies. The buses of Venezuela, Peru, and Panama are famous. A shrine to Mary is on nearly every bus; it is no laughing matter to take public transit in these countries. In addition to artwork, the Venezuelan buses also have their own patron saint: Jose Gregorio Hernandez, a mustachioed doctor who administered to the poor at the turn of the 20th century. Going back further, the national symbol of Costa Rica is the decorated ox-cart, with curvilinear and geometric motifs.
We here is Columbus have some diversely decorated COTA buses. I observe them mainly on High Street. On May 11, there will be an event on High Street called High N Seek, featuring 11 neighborhoods on eleven miles up and down High Street. As part of this event, you'll see the art cars again, cruising up and down, having their picture taken at the Doris Shlayn ART sculpture at CCAD, finally landing at Little Brothers, 1100 N. High. The cruisin' will be 11 am to 1 pm, the Little Brothers event will be 1 to 5 pm.
For the most hearty (or should we say fool-hearty), an addendum has been planned for Mother's Day, May 12. A cruise up High Street (Route 23) a little bit further to Delaware for a brunch at the Mean Bean Caffeine Lounge from 10 am to noon. Then, a Roadside Attractions Tour of Ohioddities, ending up at the Longaberger Basket Building. And, for those who can't get enough, the second leg of the tour includes a trip to P.R. Miller's visionary art studio in Canal Fulton. Questions? Call (614) 262-6462 or e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Columbus Artcar Resource Society is hosting the weekend, with the Short North Business Association and High N Seek. Seventh Sun Productions is the presenting sponsor. Other sponsors include the Worthington Arts Council, Max and Erma's, BP, and Café Brioso. Donations are being accepted, and above all, we're looking for more decorated cars! You can add magnets to your favorite stuff and make a "temporary" art car. (But you might get bitten by the bug.)
And, it's in the works: COSI will sponsor an art car workshop at the Columbus Arts Festival June 8 and 9; the Delaware Chamber of Commerce will sponsor the making of a Mother's Day art car. It's catching on. Hitch your wagon to a star. New friends at every stop.
Scully's Serves It Up!
Music-diner is the subtitle of the new Skully's. Up front by the clear glass windows is the best table to watch the passing scene. The best view of the hot-rod sailfish too (must be seen to be believed). Food and style are served up here. Oh yes, and music.
Skully and Michele Webb, new owners and avid proprietors of the building, have more than just bar food at the north end of the Short North. A cozy café atmosphere prevails up front, with touches of red neon and the red glow of candles.
When asked to describe the food, Skully said "Eclectic gourmet American grill." The signature curly fries remain. He's tweaked the pizza to gourmet toppings. Healthy not greasy is a factor. Also many veggie items like the vegetarian BLT with grilled provolone instead of bacon. The extensive 4-page menu also features soups, salads, breakfast, appetizers, sandwiches, wraps, and varieties of chicken.
Chef Brian Hill features a daily dinner special from 5:30 to 10:30 pm. During my visit, it was lemon pepper grilled chicken, with roasted red pepper parmesan, whipped potatoes and jumbo stuffed mushrooms (spinach, garlic, white wine, mozzarella).
Michele emphasized the bottled waters and the high-end brand liquors. Skully emphasized the 16 draft beer taps. They both emphasized that they invite social events to take place there - meetings, fund raisers, etc. "Miss Kitty's Hot Box" was a special presentation that was sold out for three days near Valentine's Day. A Fashion show by Cricket West took place there recently, in conjunction with the Johnson Brothers Band.
Skully Webb was the manager of Mean Mr. Mustard's on campus for 13 years.Both Mustard's and the campus Skully's had to be abandoned to the Campus Partners renovation along High Street. Now with 20 employees, Skully and Michele embark on a venture unlike Mustard's or the former Skully's. They want to appeal to all ages and tastes, not just Ohio State University students.
To this end, here is the music lineup, managed by Mr. Angelo Palma: Monday, Gothic/Industrial Mix; Tuesday, Rocka-billy Rumble; Wednesday, British Psychedelic Rock; Thursday, Alternative Classics with Ladies Night (ladies free); Friday, live bands (all the others are DJ nights). The rock/dance mix on Fridays will start with local bands and move up to national acts. Saturday nights will feature a DJ with old school funk and soul.
One of the secrets to Skully's success is dad Tom Webb, a master craftsman. The polished look of the dance area, with its 19-foot ceilings, large mirrors, theatre-size screen, ample dance floor, and 12' x 27' stage (the band has room!) is largely his doing. The brand-new PA system is also a point of pride. A red curtain will be added to the stage. A back patio is also in the works. (Already there is patio seating in the front.)
The immediate future of the front of Skully's is a huge sign - destined to become a landmark - a flashing, chasing arrow in a 50's retro look. Combine this with the arches-to-come (one will be right in front of Skully's) and you'll be talking Illumination.
This is not a smoky dark club. There are even two theatrical lamps of flame, one demarcating the front bar from the back. The parquet glass on the facade has been de-painted to let light through. The front is the original from the Napa Auto Parts quonset hut, all torn down except the front wall.
Heading back toward the dance floor from the front (a red curtain is drawn across the back during the day to separate the areas), one finds another cozy bar space and another little side room of cushy blue couches.
By this time, you've noticed the theme of fabulous flames and faux fur (leopard). The Webbs own several hot rods. There will be a hot rod show out front on May 11. The bar fridge, a 1949 model, is painted in flames.
The loft above is suitable for viewing the band, the dance floor, and restaurant. Closed in prior clubs on the same site, now it is open to revelers, to watch the "60,000 square feet of fun."
The parking lot to the north of Skully's has lots of space. Skully's shares the lot with Magnolia Thunderpussy. Soon there will be a "pocket park" there too. Skully and Michele feel a strong sense of community with the Short North. They want neighbors to drop in for and to carry out the great food.
Bravos for Bravo - Class Act at Glass Axis
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?
On a recent evening at the always-elegant Columbus Music Hall, the restored fire station of fun, dark-clothed persons lurked in corners. Then they turned to the assembled guests with silver platters of salmon with capers, also crunchy hors d'oeuvres of olives, asparagus, spinach, or brie -and BRAVO's first annual "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" fundraiser was off to a brisk start.
BRAVO is an acronym for the Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization. The organization's stated purpose is to eliminate violence perpetrated on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identi-fication. BRAVO works within and on behalf of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities.
A serious purpose for a lighthearted evening. Endive with bleu cheese wafted by as I met Short North entrepreneurs Patrick McCarthy (Piercology, 872 N. High Street) and Chris Cozad (Alternative Auto Care, 585 W. 2nd Avenue). They and many others had worked hard to assemble the many parts of the festive evening.
A raffle ensued, also a silent auction, and a drawing of names to determine in which of six beautiful homes one would dine. The locations were all over the map - from Miranova to Worthington, German Village to Goodale Park. All dinners were of the most tasteful and exotic ingredients. Half were vegetarian, or could accommodate vegetarians.
The new bar alcove at the Columbus Music Hall twinkled with drink. The night was warm enough to allow gazebo and garden lounging, while watching a Jenny Holzer-like electronic sign on the city skyline. Guests mingled and speculated on the outcome of the drawing. Details of the varied gastronomy were in the program.
The progressiveness of the night's venues was matched by the progressiveness of the thinking. So many times in the last few months of anguish, I think of Rodney King's plaintive "Why can't we all just get along?" Picture a personal anguish when lifestyle choice and sexual preference are persecuted in our society.
The aptly named Willa Young spoke to the group about the way the names would be drawn. She had the audience hanging on her every word. She uses that charisma in her role as head of OSU's Gender and Sexuality Services, rape hotline, and GBLT communities liaison. Students work within the organization and with BRAVO. With practical experience behind them, they go on to grad school to work for change and freedom. A safer place for OSU students is a much-needed goal, rippling out to encompass all. It takes a lot of education and dedication.
The good news is that next year's "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner" date is already set: February 22, 2003. BRAVO's showing of the "Laramie Project" is March 6, 2002, at the new Arena Grand Theater, 175 W. Nationwide Boulevard. The film explores the story of a community re-examining itself in the aftermath of the murder of 21-year-old Matthew Shepard. Tickets are free, but reservations are required. Call 888-845-3681. To call BRAVO, 268-9622. All other area codes, 866-86-BRAVO. The hours of operation: M-F, 10 am to 5 pm. Evening hours: Sunday, Monday, Thursday, 6-10 pm.
Oh, and those fabulous crunchy hors d'oeuvres were prepared by Phillip Pishitelli. The city lights sparkled from the Music Hall's gazebo. And that was just the beginning.
Glass Axis has moved from Cozzins Street near the Nationwide Arena to Grandview, 1341-B Norton Avenue, between 3rd and 5th Avenues. The assembled glass artists throw two parties a year, one on Valentine's day and one on Halloween. A loud and danceable band is always on the premises, and all-you-can-eat fine food and keg beer. But the real kicker is the glass!
Bleachers are set up for artist-watching, of the manufacture of hearts, goblets, vases, and once in a while a loopy wild thing. The glass artists (there is a membership of over 220 amateur and professionals) put on a good show. As the music, food, and drink seep into your system, the ballet of glass to pole to oven to table to lips takes on a dream-like quality in rhythm to the beat.
But you don't have to wait for the parties, or even for your dreams. Glass Axis offers tours and demos all the time. Plus a plethora of classes are offered: glass-blowing to stained glass to bead and marble making (and more). Call 291-4250 for an appointment. And they have really cool stuff on sale!
P.R. Miller Update
Remember our recycle artist in Canal Fulton, P.R. Miller, who was being hassled for his unbounding and prolific productivity? Here are his current projects: He'll do a work for the Visionary Art Group in Baltimore; he's moving his gigantic scene to an 80,000 square foot Akron factory; he's undertaking another work for the Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center of a 110-mile sculpture garden - a 10-15 year project. He just installed a huge metallic flower arrangement in the Akron Art Museum. And in June, he's turning an old Ford ambulance into a frog, with children for the Massillon Museum. Whew!
Zeno's: A Long Bar and Restaurant with a Long History
Zeno's is the little bar that could. It stays open 7 days a week, 365 days a year. It fought, and won, in court and in an election, to be the neighborhood bar on their side of the street. It sports its own parking lot: you get a spiffy yellow tag from the barkeep to display on your dashboard.
Located at 384 West 3rd Avenue at Pennsylvania, Zeno's has the longest bar in Columbus. Room for lots of folks. The long room has two levels- the bar floor, and an upper floor with booths. On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, starting at 9 pm, the upper floor has a DJ and dance floor, complete with disco ball and theatrical lights. The lights glint off the many mirrors. That's Dick Allen's collection of name-brand mirrors, and the knick-knack-strewn mirrors behind the bar.
Cylindrical lights with pert white bulbs shine over the booths, offset by the shamrock-green walls. Zeno's is an Irish-themed bar. St. Patrick's Day is the biggest day of the year. Corned beef and cabbage is served on March 17, amid the Irish step dancers.
What is served on the regular menu? "World Famous" chicken wings (Our own special recipe, big and juicy - Mr. Allen.) Nachos and deep fried veggies serve as the appetizers. Chicken, taco, chef's and garden are the names of the salads. There's a soup of the day; also, chili and onion soup daily. Clam chowder pops up on Fridays. Among the plethora of sandwiches, grilled salmon and the triple-decker club caught my eye. Cajun quesadillas spice it up among the regular quesadillas. Want pizza? Zeno's has it. Steak sandwich? Sure. The biggest sellers are the burgers and the subs.
Carrie Knight is the day cook. She also has a lunch special: ask for it. But how about those drinks? Happy hour occurs from opening to 7 pm daily. Hours are Monday thru Saturday 11 am - 2:30 am; Sunday 1 pm - 2:30 am.
As I walk into the linear spell of Zeno's hospitality, "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" wafts through the room. I take stock of the amenities: TVs at either end tuned to sports, tall bar stools, large American flag, two video games, large gumball machine, an old-fashioned stand-up scale, juke box, popcorn machine. An antique vending machine that used to spit out "Zeno's chewing gum" no longer works ("Won't work with modern gum" - Mr. Allen)
There's a pool room (with its own bar) and a party room downstairs. The large trophy collection is from an era when Zeno's sponsored touch football and softball teams. I admired the couches on the upper level. They're from Mr. Allen's now defunct "Chameleons" restaurant in the Convention Center. The "Terrible Towel" behind the bar is signed by several Pittsburgh Steeler players and fans. The large photos behind the bar are of Champ Henson and John Hicks, who played with OSU's Archie Griffin. They were regular customers, personal friends of Mr. Allen.
What we know about Zeno's is that it's always changing. The prominent I-beams are original to the building's construction: they held up the heavy machines used in the creation of baked goods for the N.E. Shop Bakery. Their claim to fame: they made the first buns for White Castle. At the end of Prohibition, the bakery became the J & J Grill, which held forth at the corner for 50 years. Amid neighborhood deterioration, Zeno's tackled the job of renovation starting August 10, 1984, through the spring of 1985. The bar never closed. Customers sat near the sawing and the tearing of things down. Meanwhile, the gas station across the street became a candle shop. The icehouse nearby no longer sold ice. Zeno's draws its name from one of its owners, Steve Zeno. Chris Miller is another partner; Dick Allen is the general managing partner. Mr. Allen grew up in Clintonville, graduated from Watterson. After some time in Delaware, he moved to Upper Arlington. He has three sons: one at OSU and two at Upper Arlington. He is proud of their state championship football achievements. They help him with remodeling, waiting tables, and cooking. His wife does the bookkeeping: truly a family business.
Three years ago a remodeling job went in: new pressed-tin ceilings over the bar, new bathrooms. But more renovations are on the horizon. The kitchen will get an overhaul, and a new menu before the fall.Mr. Allen talks about "the troubles" as though we were in Dublin. This was a few years ago, when Zeno's had to fight a certain member of the neighbor- hood in court, just for the right to remain open (there had been no complaints from others, either from parking problems or clientele behavior.) During the troubles, Zeno's could serve only wine. They lost patrons, employees numbered 10 instead of the former 30. But Zeno's won a local option election and got back the permit. They have the only permit in the precinct. And they acquired the "$100,000" parking lot to appease the adversary. And they're looking forward.
One customer they never lost was Jack Allman, who has been coming in every day no matter what. Mr. Allen reminisced about the days when legislators and lobbyists hung out- "Once the state budget was signed on that very round table." He's seen the neighborhood change, and he's weathered the storms of slum, boom time, gentrification, and renovation.
I'll drink to that! See you at Zeno's on St. Paddy's Day (or before).
Portal To 2002
A New Year's Fantasy
A string of lights, like a string of pearls, arches overhead
Archie Griffin arches his eyebrows in wonderment unsaid.
Susanne Jaffe and Sharon Weiss look around in glee
A string of establishments let's pay a visit, more than 2 or 3 -
Rigsby's, Zeno's, Blazer's Pub, Gibby's, Europia -
We'll pass out party hats from Yankee Trader when we see ya.
Flatiron, where we'll meet with Deb Roberts-Loutzenhiser,
Ron Arps, Maria Galloway, Eugene the Piano Peddler,
Mary Martineau, Mary Daniels, maybe Gavin Armstrong,
Daniel Koch will help us see when the hours get long.
Hopefully, we'll run into our old friend Fred Holdridge.
He'll tell us, "bring back Centrum, and Blue Serpent Bridge!"
Lighted arches point the way to the past and to the future,
We're confronted in Columbus with the commercial spectre, "newer,"
Trying out restaurants like Ted Turner's Montana Grill,
Bison steaks to munch on, small-batch beer to swill.
Let's take some mulled wine to Magdiale Wolmark,
Hot buttered rum to Byfords - (after a walk in the park),
We'll have high jinx at Highbanks, Braddock's, or Betty's,
Tequila sunrise for John Allen, or maybe tequila sunsettys;
Let's try Grapes of Mirth to cheer up old Bill Moss,
A few drinks on the House of Security (5th Ave.) prevents loss.
And while we pass Plush and all the new at Anèw,
We'll tipple to Extra-Terrestrial and the Gallery A Muse.
Blue Jacket's a drink at Café Hall of Fame,
Landsharks? Have we invented a drink with this name?
My collectible Woody Bobble-head shakes his head no -
He says pointedly: "Polaris Paralysis? Head to Curio-a-go-go!"
He continues: "Did you know Open Book's Open again?
If you're thrown to the Four Winds, buy, then visit Civilization,
They've music, and art, and wine, and for more garnishings,
Visit Antiques and Eccentricities, or Functional Furnishings."
My head was a-swim at Bobble's talk so uncanny,
Until the knick-knacks were mumbling at the Roadhouse of Annie.
I knew New Year cheer had gone far enough -
Wonder Bread Fresh Guy started to look tough.
Those lighted portals! Arching over my head!
Fireproof gave me proof I had nothing to dread.
I bubbled with bubblies on Elevator's Brewery sign,
As I reeled toward Loot and Lanning I was feeling benign.
I found myself drooling over great things at Great Things,
And suddenly I was in a painting by W.C. Hemming.
Michele Mooney was there, Alana Shock, Cristin Austin,
Jim Tressel served fudge buckeyes to our own Irvin Lippman.
And the Brutus's head re-appeared on Brit Kirwan.
It was a confection of perfection from Pure Imagination.
A song called Bobble-heads, Buckeyes, and Blarney
Was sung by Willie Pooch, Teeny Tucker, Sean Carney.
Further, those lights reflected in my wond'ring eye
Brought visions more of cheery Columbus's public pie -
A skateboard park poppping up in empty stores' big box,
Topless men, gay and buff, toiled in a carwash.
Zona Corazon staged a Day of the Dead procession,
Riley Hawk's elegant glass became our civic obsession.
Art cars cruised up and down High, gaudily arrayed,
High Road and Barth Galleries had heavy parts to play.
Literature's afloat: Societies Aldus and Thurber at the tiller,
Recycled art's exalted: Geno Centofanti and P.R. Miller.
Mimi Brodsky Chenfeld reminded us how to play,
And Ed Lentz craftily told us about the good old days.
John Switzer and Tom Thomson made us remember, too,
How Columbus's history was a wild and swashbuckling brew.
(2001 brought us the 200th Gallery Hop,
But 2002 may send us right over the top.)
The Yankee Trader Story Part I
Bob Holler was a trader, a barterer, and a poker player. He ran a wholesale warehouse full of goodies for carnivals at the corner of Park and Spruce, where Axis Advertising Group is now located, 515 N. Park Street in the Short North/Arena District. But back then it was not such a fashionable neighborhood.
Bob, originally from Newark, started the carny supply business back in the 1950's. In 1965, he married Columbus native Edith and helped raise her two daughters, Debby and Lynette. He was 20 years older than "Edie." She began to help him with the business in 1970.
But back to Debby and Lynette (now Debby Williams and Lynette Howard). In a recent interview with them, in the raised office overlooking the present-day Yankee Trader, 463 N. High Street, across from the Convention Center, they recalled childhood bedrooms full of stuffed animals. They loved riding along in a truck to carnivals, delivering stuffed animals, toys, tickets, and other prizes. The Hollers drove all over Ohio. The girls rode on rides, knew all the carny workers, and felt safe wherever they went.
In 1963, the Hollers bought into their own carnival. They traveled all over Ohio and Tennessee. The girls worked the cotton candy, candy apple, and game booths. But after one season, the Hollers sold out and returned to the Columbus business.
Around 1965, the business expanded from wholesale to retail. That was when the present location (just the building with the main entrance) was purchased. In all, Yankee Trader has 55,000 square feet, three floors of retail and ten floors of warehouse, counting basements.
I was invited to ride up to a warehouse floor with Debby in one of the first elevator built in Ohio. The main four-story build-ing, housing the most trinkets, the office, and the elevator, was originally the C.R. Parish Furniture Store.
The plastic rats, and other creatures, had their own section. Other sections included plastic jewelry, weapons, bubbles, and noisemakers. All were carefully catagorized for quick retrieval.
In the years I was gone from Columbus, I made an annual "pilgrimage" to the Yankee Trader to stock up on Christmas presents, glueables for my car's decoration, and supplies for my Montessori pre-school classroom. Now, to be allowed in a stock-room was like being allowed to peek in Santa's toy factory. All that was missing were the elves. But I remember the elf-and-Santa all rolled into one, the bright blonde personality whose voice I heard booming and laughing out from the office upon those yearly visits: Edith Holler.
The glue that held the business together was Edie. Bob passed away in 1976. Lynette was in Arizona doing accounting for Pepsi and other large corporations. Debby worked as a medical examiner for insurance companies. Although her daugh-ters came back to do some consulting, Edie was sole proprietor for nearly 25 years, enduring the years when drunks slept in the doorways (they lived around Union Station and the viaduct area, when it was in disrepair and later torn down.). Later, High Street was closed due to Convention Center construction. She hung on when there was no foot traffic, stuck it out for the future of carnivals and her "causes." For Edie Holler was the "fairy godmother" of Columbus. It says so on her gravestone, which you can see in the Jewish section of Greenlawn Cemetery. She championed the cause of gays and lesbians in our community. She nursed good friends who had AIDS. Yankee Trader allowed her to contribute money and to speak her mind for the causes she believed in.
Her parents were born Russian Jews, so she was no stranger to discrimination. She fought for the underdog, for non-judgmental thought, for the "Open Heart, Open Door" policy. Also, she loved to have a good time, so she totally identified with her party-supply store. As she put it, "I've already had more fun by accident than most people have on purpose." (Quoted from an August 1999 Stonewall Journal.)
Ms. Holler received the Torch Award of the Human Rights Campaign in 1999. She was pleased by the honor, but her perspective for posterity was modest: "To me the greatest honor is to leave behind a good name. I think you can only expect out of life what you put into it."
Edie passed away in 2000. She leaves a legacy of a prosperous business and many friends. Yankee Trader continues to be a source of charity for the Human Rights Campaign, Open Hand, Columbus AIDS Task Force, Special Olympics, the Diabetes and Heart Foundations. They recently gave 400 flags to QFM 96, to raise money for the Red Cross.
The Yankee Trader Story Part II
I recently spent three hours on October 30 at Yankee Trader, located in the Short North at 463 N. High Street, the morning of Beggars' Night in most parts of Columbus. I wanted to observe the action.
I saw a parent buy reading-incentive prizes (hundreds!). Her son sat on the counter sifting through them, having the time of his life. Mom explained the intricacies of the angel costume of her toddler daughter.
I saw big bare body parts (plastic) purchased by fun-loving customers, giant plastic chicken feet, large jars of glitter.
Two women, employees at a credit union, came in for a cowbell. That's all they wanted, they said. When they closed a loan, the cowbell would be rung. They got the bell, but then those Mardi Gras beads caught their eye. One of them decided to be a gypsy. They spent some time deciding on the perfect strand combination. I also spotted a straight-looking woman buying a plastic spiked war club at 10 am.
Meanwhile, in any spare moment, employees of Yankee Trader put out new merchandise. Michael (who has been known to give out a balloon to someone looking sad) sorted out the beads.
Linda, his co-worker, claimed they had "hair-pulling busy" work on the Friday and Saturday before Halloween. "We found bits and pieces of costumes in the luau stuff - as far away as you can get," said Misty, another Yankee Trader comrade.
The best sellers? Mullet wigs ("straight in front - partyin' in the back") and bubba teeth (mottled, showing lots of gums). Monk robes, priest and nun costumes, redneck anything, Afro wigs, cowboy and Indian stuff, Statue of Liberty, Uncle Sam, pirate accessories, and all kinds of makeup sold briskly. They said it was just as well I wasn't observing them on the weekend. "We won't snap at you," said Mark behind the counter.
All employees of Yankee Trader are extroverts. They work hard. Likewise, the customers like to talk to anyone who will listen. They share their creative costume ideas - and bond at the counter.
A policeman bought a bumblebee piñata. The mother of a teen-age girl, who had "searched the Internet to find out what punk was," bought faux barbed-wire jewelry, spiky plastic bracelets, fake piercings. "I just came in for inflatable electric guitars," she said. She got those too. The pace picked up considerably around lunchtime. A Sherlock Holmes costume - hat, pipe, and magnifying glass - was found in three minutes and purchased by a happy man.
Debby, one of the proprietors, was sent up in the famous old elevator many times. She worked the counter too. She said, "Haven't you noticed we're more organized?" And it's true - none of that weekend mess was evident. The stuff multiplies, yet seems more accessible. "Costumes year-round: Let's make Mardi Gras as big as Halloween!" Michael and I had consensus.
You can buy a fake dirty diaper, a huge plastic syringe (shades of my nightmares) and a huge thermometer. Above me hung inflatable candy canes. The skull candelabra beckoned.
Customers talked on cellphones while cruising the aisles. Yankee Trader's only visible concession to modernism (no computer cash registers here) is the intercom: "I need some help on the dance floor please!"
I have commented before on the witty handwritten labels. Those tissue-paper packages are fine reading. Some of the printable ones: "Yup, it's official - I'm annoyed," "Hit that high note, honey," "Tissue paper with attitude," "Don't buy her jewelry buy her tissue paper." On the plastic Weapons of Sunday Mass Destruction box it reads: "Wow, dude, careful, honey we're fragile, spread the love." I also like the descriptions on the toy boxes and the mask labels. Words run rampant and set the kinky tone.
Decor abounds. Having a baby shower? Into vintage rock n' roll? Mexican fiesta-ing? And that luau stuff - the coconut bra is $5.00. Many varieties of hula skirts run $4.50 to $9.00.
I like the giant lion and tiger cardboard standups. Bogey and Count Dracula send you onward to the third building in the floor meander - two more buildings to the south were bought after the Parish Furniture's original (463 N. High) was purchased (see it written in entryway tiles).
The classics are here: inflatable boyfriend and girlfriend, whoopee cushion, belch powder, exploding wallet, plastic dog-do, rubber chicken (the rubber pig is nice too). Decorate your room with corrugated printed cardboard. Wood grain! Snow scene! Snowflakes. Stars in sky. "Greystone" bricks. Red bricks, Have permanent spring, fall, Valentine's Day, or patriotic. There's also: OSU stuff, Tarot cards, wind banners, bandanas, T-shirts for patriots, feather boas and fans. Pricey tiaras sparkle in a glass case. Millions of key chains and those little erasers. Have a smiley face party! A full-size rainbow flag is $45.
Most American flags are made in Taiwan, say proprietors Debby Williams and Lynette Howard. The flags were hard to get after September 11 due to a typhoon in Taiwan.
The daughters of Edith Holler, who continue her good work, had to "eat, drink, and sleep the Yankee" as children – and even though there were parts they enjoyed, they left it and never thought they'd come back to it. Now, they divide the labor (Debby, ordering and buying, Lynette accounting).
They hope to do more marketing and to spend more time getting to know their neighbors. They don't want the uniqueness of the business to fall to the side. They can keep the prices down by their ability to buy in quantity. They have only 10 employees. They each have a daughter. We of humor and creative consumption in Columbus can hope that the Yankee Trader legacy will live on for many more years with characteristic style and pizzazz.
I exited the Yankee Trader when an ancient-looking clock (another Parish feature?) amid the masks said 12:10, past the window with the T-Rex stepping out of a white satin casket interior in a pink feather boa, "ruby" ring, prim black hat with net. The Flintstones, the Lone Ranger, Tonto, and Hopalong Cassidy looked out of another window, pensively.
Treasure Box on Second Avenue: Antiques and Eccentricities
Richard Bauer has created a treasure box at the corner of Second Avenue and Hunter. You have seen it driving by a plethora of eye-candy in the windows of a green, blue, purple and orange vintage building. But you never stopped - it was in an out-of-the-way residential area and you were on your way to somewhere else.
Well, stop! You will see an amazing collection of antiques, lovingly displayed to suggest their extensions and possibilities. And representing the other word in the treasure box's title, the "eccentricities" pluckily show their humor and usefulness amid the objects of elegance.
Mr. Bauer is a fan of usefulness. He speaks of growing up in a farmhouse near Crestline where he thought there were never enough lamps. He wants to fill environments with light. He hastens to add that all his lamps are rewired and come with their shades. (Not sold separately.) He has taken special care to marry antique lamps with comple-mentary shades, and old shades to complementary lamps.
The possibilities of design are fairly bristling under the plum-colored pressed-tin ceilings of Antiques and Eccentricities. Colorful glassware and pottery is inter-spersed with busts. A collection of ewers, looking like a genie may spring out of one at any moment, or looking suitable to be included in a still life, cluster on top of a shelf. Original paintings line the walls &endash; oils, watercolors, and pastels - also the odd photograph and print. There's a box of vintage advertisements suitable for framing.
The building itself, purchased by Mr. Bauer some years ago, was originally a drugstore in 1895. The renovation of the four downstairs rooms, and the addition of a staircase from an 1850's farmhouse (with grain-painted walnut), give a flowing, uncluttered feeling to the space. Period music, blues and jazz, also provides pleasant ambiance.
There's lots of light and nooks and crannies, including a "bargain closet." Architectural elements can be bought in the store, including columns, corbels, brackets, shelves, banisters, finials, and porcelain letters. Furniture, including vintage wicker, can be found here. Among the fun stuff, you'll find old toys, folk art, a fabulous assortment of rooster and hen figurines.
Examine the tapestries, fringes, and tassels. Deer antlers and an elk head look out over bowling pins, tin boxes, spelter work, leatherbound books, and fire irons. Victorian Village residents and interior decorators have plundered the store, but Mr. Bauer has an inexhaustible supply of the beautiful and the unusual.
Cherubs and wall faces, including a wooden Molly and Jiggs, oversee candela-bra, jewelry displays, figurines, hand and head forms, and suitcases usable as end tables/storage. A dealer from New Orleans found the store through its listing in the tri-state Antiquities Journal. He has his things (suggested by Mr. Bauer) shipped to him, as his taste is known. The personal touch.
Assisting Mr. Bauer in the shop is the enchanting and elegant Steubenville native, Stephanie Pratt. A graduate of Ohio State University in photography, she encoun-tered her future comrade-in-antiques at auctions and flea markets and was hired by Mr. Bauer nearly a year ago. He calls her "my right and left hand," but then extends his term to "savior." Her arranging of the elements has enhanced the store immensely, says the owner, along with her charming presence. Haunting photographs of her handmade dolls are subtly placed among treasures.
Ms. Pratt used the word "provenance" in referring to the objects - preserving the age and history, not tampering with the essence. There are a few examples of making the object more accessible, as Mr. Bauer has taken an "1889" that was originally over a church door in West Virginia and built it a case. A wooden boot form purchased from a horseman in Lexington, Kentucky has been glued and mounted on a board. The possibilities of it are pointed out - a cap hangs from one boot.
Richard Bauer's house captures the essence of the store. He is truly a renais-sance man. He holds a degree in Fine Arts from Ohio State University. He works for Centners Interior Designers in Grandview, and has for the last 30 years, a fact that his youthful and self-effacing demeanor belies. He also has private clients in and around Columbus. His floral and holiday displays are not to be missed. And he finds time to sing in a men's chorus!.
But back to the house. Sumptuous, massive pieces of furniture in dark tones inhabit a fantasy land that Richard has created- faux curtain and faux bookshelf wallpapers in the stairwells, as well as different patterned wallpaper in every room - except the red living room, green parlor, and khaki attic. In the parlor the pianist playing My Funny Valentine on the baby grand set the tone for antique humorous framed prints popping up here and there. A huge "Bieres de la muse" poster dominates the kitchen. On every available surface deep-toned statuary, busts, ewers, draped fabrics, cut-glass crystals - what Mr. Bauer calls his "junk." Room after room on the three stories give one the feeling of being in a museum. The attic sports the triangular gingerbread original to the house. Other architectural pieces dot the landscape. A column stands in a stairwell, two stand between the red/green rooms, near the fabulous assymetrical chair. Light touches amid the dark tones are Native American woven rug in the upstairs bathroom and framed antique seed packet in the kitchen. And, one perfect cauliflower on the counter.
Epilogue: Since my visit to Antiques and Eccentricities, and Mr. Bauer's house, I have been looking at my own house furnishings and knick-knacks in a new way. The skill of the team of Bauer and Pratt has influenced my eye. Not only that, I purchased an old-fashioned oval photograph of a little girl leaning against a live turkey. The introduction of the photograph into my eclectic collection has caused a shift, a domino effect if you will, of 2- and 3-dimensional objects. This may happen to you! Are you ready for a change. Visit the "A and E."
Creative Recyclers Should Be Honored, Not Persecuted
P.R. Miller is a one-man recycling center. Standing in his driveway in the rural outskirts of Canal Fulton, where the only evidence from the road are a chunky metal cow with a map of the world for spots, and a graceful metal flower, I am looking into a salvage yard for parts. Parts that would otherwise be cast-off into land-fills. Waste is waste. Somehow, with trash eating bacteria, recycling, and people like P.R. Miller to inspire us, we must reduce our waste to zero. That, and the end of war, should be our top-priority issue or we will drown in our own garbage.
The Ohio State Fair Natural Resources Park had a great display on recycling. It was stuck down in a corner. Really, it should be on Broad and High. And Mr. Miller should be on national television, and allowed to run all the dumps. Dumps ("landfills") in various parts of the nation already have a resident art/salvage person. So why is this man being persecuted?
I watched a video of Miller at the Massillon Museum in Stark County, the monitor ensconced in a large duct-wielding piece. The man spent the entire video defending himself against his critics. He does like to talk. In fact, while examining his desk and environs, lovingly re-created in the museum, I thought I could hear his voice. But it is too bad he has to use much of his energy to fight all the negativity.
He must have boundless energy and imagination. Just looking at his raw-material "stash" attests to this. He hauls and resells scrap to and from Akron's Annaco scrap company, GOJO Industries, and Rubbermaid. He fits the (mostly metal) scraps together into sculpture and furniture. He also uses a lot of extruded plastic (like hardened large toothpaste in many colors) and blown foam (also in many colors). Found objects ice the cakes.
Above all, he is a master craftsman f balance. The huge (and small) things move. They have sturdy bases and the movement is sure but delicate, either set
off by hand or wind. Even though the shape of many pieces are drawn from nature (bugs, flowers, birds, frogs, scorpions), I was most impressed by his chairs. They are comfortable, elegant in design, and they rock. Some are fancifully decorated, some are spare in order to enjoy the metals' shape. One is like a spaceship - I counted 18 appendages - with optional steering wheel and footrest. (I thought: "Close it up and come back for me in an hour.") Outside is a huge gardeny ride for four in a wrought-iron bench and two plastic chairs, among other grand Miller pieces right in downtown Massillon.
The interior Miller room is sophistica-ted enough to be in NYC. There's frosted glass with cross-hatchings and the walls are brilliant Mexican-morning blue and yellow. The sinewy metal trembled with every footfall. (One's called "Seismo-graph" it's so sensitive to movement.) I like the fact that some dirt and spiderwebs were left on (but not too much).
I suppose the eye more accustomed to sterility would be fatigued by all these curls and doo-wops. The museum provides a restful place to isolate the silhouettes, and its lighting provides twiddly shadows. The restful swish of the air conditioning is like an ocean just outside the window. This room gives one an appreciation, more than the jungle of his land/inspirational scrapheap.
Here in the museum, the satire takes over. He sends up Munch's The Scream, Judy Chicago's Dinner Party, and Imelda Marcos's shoe closet. MFA Piece means "Master of Fu Fu Arranging."
So at least Mr. Miller has kept his sense of humor. He is an iconoclast like Emerson Burkhart - his style is his life is his talk is his walk. Instead of persecuting these eccentric-collector individuals, our society should be embracing them with open arms. Unfortunately, our resident recycler, Geno Centofanti, has been forced into mute resignation. What a sad commentary for Columbus! I'm sure Mr. Centofanti and Mr. Miller could create a network of like-minded individuals who would solve a lot of our recycling woes, and have fun in the process, if only given the chance.
Note: I did not get to meet Mr. Miller. He was off to Baltimore perhaps network-ing with other visionaries. Perhaps there is hope. My compliments to Mr. John Klassen who decided to pull Mr. Miller out of relative obscurity and into the Massillon Museum. The show runs through September 9. Call 330-833-4061 for more information.
Two Gems in the Crown of Short North: Comfest and Doo Dah
Sunday was the day I attended Comfest. By then the good juices were flowing. Congratulations once again to all who put their energy into this celebration of local talent and non-corporateness.
The music on the main stage was hot! (Art cars were located there so that's what I caught.) What an eclectic brew of sound. It started at noon with jazz, rolled over into Tony West and the Imani Folk Theater dancers and percussion. The ingenious use of modern fabrics and sewn-on shells made for a wonderful look on the fabulous dancers. Hip hop, rhythm and blues, country, bluegrass, exploded into the triple-header of Ekoostik Hookah, Hoo Doo Soul Band, and Jive Turkeys. The overall effect was the audio equivalent of Van Gogh's Starry Night. Swirls of electric chords coiled around us behind the stage.
Meanwhile, lots of hot shopping and worthy information was to be had at the booths. Many friends could be made and many futures dreamed by perusing the cornucopic wares. Bob Studzinski's photos of ethnic peoples from his many journeys through South America, Africa, and Asian climes were fascinating, heartening, and chilling. Sitting with Iris and Diana in their tarot booth, I watched teeming crowds pour by. The flamenco dancers and African-print wearers stood out splendidly. Also women in gauzy flowered dresses. One couple had complimentary outfits of black and white. I saw child with flaming red dyed hair in a stroller.
And the food! What choices to be made. I'm sure the choices of stage and venue were also mind-boggling. At any given time events were unfolding at the main stage, gazebo stage, jazz stage, Poplar Street stage, and Live Arts stage. Live Arts participant Dan Dougan stopped by long enough to say, "There are no absolutes." Eric Clapton was sighted on the grounds. The weather was perfect. See you there next year for the 30th anniversary.
The Doo Dah gathering was a little sub-doo'd by the morning rain. By 12:30, the goofy spirit was gaining momentum. By 1:00, we were marching in the cool-for-costumes jaunty air. Music was provided by Eugene the Piano Peddler on his electrified piano-bicycle in loud and sweet tones. We had bagpipes accompanying the Peculiar Family Plaid, and of course the Doo Dah band, heavy on kazoos.
The Columbus Disgust provided these headlines for the day: "Tornado Hits Buckeye Egg Farm Residents Scrambled." "Campus Partners To Level Wexner Center It's An Eyesore." Pots To Shots Bourbon Gardener Obtains Liquor License."
Other headliners mocked were a certain errant landlord by a giant cockroach who claimed to live in his apartment; the Bush twins at a rolling Chuey's Bar, protected from the bouncers by Secret Service Men ("If you can blink you can drink"); President Bush by a bonzai tree breathing carbon dioxide; the Fainting Marching Fidels; and a Leroy Jenkins lookalike who carried a giant check (passing it back and forth to a Ben Espy look-alike) with an entourage of meds attending to an Eloise in a wheelchair.
Costumed clusters rode the crest of chaos like inland surfers on the wetted streets. A bevy of well-fed, jump-suited Elvises, accompanied by a hearse, sold kisses in the crowd for 25 cents apiece. Batman and "Halloween in July" vied for attention with a "Rocky Horror" brigade from Studio 35. More ghoulish yet were the "Terror at Cooper Stadium" group. Lest we get too far into October holidays, to balance we had the Doo Dah brides-maids, who got to wear their dresses once again (with matching tennis shoes) and some Turkish dancers (we think they were) who danced the entire way. The Doo Dah virgin and her flamingo-hatted, hula-skirted entourage swayed on by.
We saw Travis Burns as the world's tallest singing (and smoking) Christmas tree. I, as St. Bernarda, blessed the crowd with my little DooDawg Dune Buggy perched atop the Phelps Summer Art Car, although we lost its ceramic pooch passenger somewhere on Neil Avenue. Lara Weigand's "Disk Drive" of patterned colored floppy disks adorning her car looked like a moving board game. John the Bike Wizard brought out his latest two-wheeled creation with pirate and American flags, streamers, and beads, while Scott Williams's Plaid Car brought the newest in artcar contingents, the sign-wielding Family Plaid ("Plaid Power," "Tart N Plaid," "Plaid Y Puss").
Doo Dah Deb looked radiant as she thanked the crowd from her golf cart. Afterwards, I spotted the bonzai Bush costume abandoned on a parking meter by Goodale Park. It blended in with the park. The wave of good humor subsided from the Short North like a melted popsicle. But the ripples seep into your skin. Watch the news and your life for stuff to spoof next year.
Roadhouse Annie's: Cheerfully Timeless
In reading over old forerunners of the Short North Gazette (The Fabulous Short North), some dating back to 1987, I found the many reviews of Roadhouse Annie's and its former incarnation, Toll House Inn. All of them extoll the extensive menu and intense décor! This place has fed the masses and been consistent in style for years. (I also learned that Roadhouse Annie's won for "Best Holiday Display" in December of 1993.) So here's my two cents.
Roll into Roadhouse Annie's for some chow and fun. Eclectic décor and a menu of 17 pages will provide hours of entertain-ment. You can get "Sex On The Beach" and "Wet Fries" (fries with chili sauce). Or how about a "Woo Woo" (peach schnapps and vodka). Okay, okay, "Sex On The Beach" is a drink of mysterious ingredients: Our server said they were out of the "red liqueur" it required.
My mathematically inclined dining companion, Sean Cooper, counted 157 menu items, with side options of yin and yang capabilities. You'll find salads, sandwiches, burgers, fish, Italian, steaks, omelettes, deep fried veggies or healthy. Greg Phelps swears by the Reuben, which comes with fries and coleslaw.
And the hours! 9 am to Midnight, Monday through Saturday; 9 am - 10:30 pm on Sunday. (Try the frittata for Sunday brunch.) It's like a good Mom fry-cook on call at all hours of the day, with ample servings and low prices. I had a refreshing piña colada that was the size of a vanilla milkshake (which was also on the menu) - you can't get one that big even at a Mexican resort. Look for the extensive drink and beer list.
Some of the menu items are written up "home-style" (like mom leaving notes on the fridge) and taped up all over the walls. It does get your attention. But it also gets in the way of appreciating some of the décor: large advertisement signs from eye level up to the high pressed-tin ceiling.
Lovely silk flowers drape the booths, lighting is created by stained-glass lamps. Animal and doll life is artfully arranged above the back toward the kitchen. Plant life is abundant, both living and non-living. Immense politically incorrect cari-bou heads (or at least cousins of caribou) look out at a floating-in-air zeppelin. I'm told there used to be lots of Christmas decorations all year round. But now the décor is "simplified."
We surmised that the nearby Toll House Antiques might have something to do with the interior fantasy, both in and out. For you can't miss the frogs and fat pigs frolicking around the fountain, mini-pond, and pansies outside. Be sure to peek into the garage out back for a view of a nifty vintage auto.
Run into the Roadhouse - look for the Christmas lights and flowerpots at the corner of 895 N. High Street and Price Avenue. Casual neighborhood eating with 60's panache and flash. Try the rum cake and creamy rice pudding - yum! And yes, the Beatles were on the sound system while we dined.
Woody Hayes's Cabin: A Noble Retreat
Sitting on the flat "mound" built-up off the porch of Woody Hayes's cabin: pairs of zebra swallowtails, yellow swallowtails, monarch and other butterflies cavort all around, sometimes actually landing on me as if to show off. I name the zebra swallowtail pair (especially friendly) "Mariah" and "Ike" after my great-grandparents whose farmhouse stood on this spot. I have old photos of them and their brood of 12 (9 boys, 3 girls), among the children my grandfather and Woody's father. I've been up here before with my aunt and uncle, Pearl and Virgil Archer, and my cousins, Cindy Moore and Judy Rose. Aunt Pearl is a Hayes, and she spent a lot of time here as a child, as did my father, as did Woody.
I can see why Woody had his cabin built on this spot. It's a paradise. No sounds but the wind soughing through the trees, the numerous bird-calls, including wild turkeys, a woodpecker's drumming, cows lowing in the distance. Middleburg's a small town in Noble County. Although when my father was born here, there were oil and gas wells drilling night and day: loud. Now, it's sleepy, having lived through oil and later strip-mining. All the land around the cabin was strip-mined in the '50s and has grown back again into forest. So it goes.
Middleburg is a long string of farmhouses and cabins. I got the key to the cabin from Melinda who lives three miles up the road toward Caldwell (Noble County seat). She has a ceramics store in her house. She advised me to lock the gate behind me and to bring my trash out when I depart.
The road up the hill to the cabin is well-maintained. I can remember when it was not; weeds nearly choked my Uncle Virgil's '86 Chrysler Fifth Avenue. Aunt Pearl says that in the old days they walked up there in the winter, leaving the Model T at the bottom. Now, we whiz up to the top. I can see the grass around the cabin has been freshly mowed. Still, violets found the time to poke out. Mariah's daffodils, which clumped all around, had peaked about two days before. The white narcissus were now in bloom. A big block of forsythia yellowed directly in front of the porch on the edge of the lawn. An old shagbark hickory stands directly to the right of the porch, just beginning to leaf out. A buckeye looms nearby.
The sun beats down. I took a lawnchair (provided) out to the mound and sat in my bathing suit. Presently an all-terrain vehicle chugged up the road, a man with a small girl in front, a big girl in back, and a black dog sitting stoically in the basket. The man waved, said he lived "down the road." Maybe he was spying, maybe not. I could have been naked (there's a hot tub, put in since Woody's tenure.)
I walked back of the cabin to where he'd been all-terraining. I found a huge stand of narcissus, now all overgrown with brambles, probably on the site of Mariah's barnside flower garden (I know there were many barns back there at one time, plus another house on the next ridge - the "weaning house" where each son took a wife to start up housekeeping). Also a stand of chives greened up amid trees filled with the white tent-webs of caterpillars, now crawling out.
The cabin itself is well-appointed: double bed upstairs, hide-a-bed downstairs, dining room table with four matching chairs, Woody's recliner, a working fireplace, a "No. 1" rug in scarlet and white, bath with shower downstairs, sink and toilet upstairs, (scarlet sinks, gray toilets), desk upstairs, scarlet and gray woven chair, complete kitchen and barbecue. Lighting could have been improved (I like good light). Photos and memorabilia dot the walls.
Night fell with a bang - thunderclaps, lightning, and rain. The cabin makes you feel nearer the sky. As it got truly dark (there was a trace of pink at sunset 'round the rainclouds), sweet frogs on all sides of the cabin sang up from Little Creek, Hesson Run, and a nearby little swamp. Next day was sunny early.
I sat on the porch and imagined the media frenzy, shouting crowds, and years of hard work that would have sat behind Woody's eyes as he looked at the same view. Could Woody turn off his complicated life-movie while he was here? I sure hope so. I sure hope the lush greenery, smooth hills, and constant bird-chant soothed his soul.
The rains returned. Between them, I ventured out to read in the hot tub and to walk by the narcissus. From the woods came a low crackling sound of life on the move: insects chewing, shoots growing, blossoms and seed pods falling. A wild turkey yodeled.
You can rent this cabin by calling Complete Property Resources at 614-433-0099. Some of the rental money goes to the Anne Hayes Memorial Scholarship for Academic Excellence. "Log" on to Web site www.cprrealestate.com.
Homey Yet Exotic Ricky's Galaxy: An excellent stop before the theater
Cuban, Mexican, All-American, California-style cuisine . . . We had it all at our table. It came out of the kitchen quickly, and the service was excellent. I'm speaking of Ricky's Galaxy at 680 N. High Street in the Short North. We were on the way to The Judas Kiss at Reality Theatre and knew we wanted good food fast. We weren't disappointed.
The cornucopia included a Cuban sandwich of ham, chicken, pulled pork, mustard sauce on a hot French roll, served with a copious amount of black beans. The beans were dusky and firm. Some sweet little corn muffins with corn kernels in, housed in a wire basket, disappeared quickly. Note: the pan-seared vegetables with gorgonzola cream and cornbread crust make the little nuggets redundant. So order one or the other. A chicken burrito as big as a fat wallet came with a plain cabbage coleslaw with a little heat to it, and those yummy beans. The fettuccine with mushrooms (the regular kind of mush-rooms) was oil-heavy; it had large tomato sections, parsley, garlic, peppers. It was so loaded with mushrooms that I ate them between bites of my chile relleno.
New paragraph for the chile relleno. I eat them whenever possible and compare. This was a big one - rather crunchy dough exterior with a smoky taste - a delayed kick, delicate cheese, lots of cilantro (in fact, cilantro was on everything, so if you don't like it, ask that it be left off). A tomato sauce that was truly wonderful. I paired it with more exotica - the fried plantains with a sauce of yogurt, cucumber, salsa, and, of course, cilantro. They were very rich. I took them home and had them for breakfast. Superb.
Upon my second visit, Ricky's was obviously understaffed (which shows that in time of economic strife food wins out over other diversions), but the waitpersons were always most accommodating. Ricky's is open Tuesday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday for brunch, lunch, and dinner, Sunday for brunch. The huevos rancheros will be my next try. Be warned: The salads are large. Specials on one day I went: penne pasta, seafood cassoulet, salmon, and a cheeseburger.
The place has a neighborhood feel, with class. It's casual from the fruit-patterned oilcloth on the table to the wooden slatted bench running the length of one side of the room. Dinette-style furniture and wooden bar at the back complete the room. Patterned wallpaper: '50's barbecue, roosters, awning, leaves, and flowers. Don't miss the shell pattern in the bathroom in the purest shade of green. Against the barbecue wall were some nature drawings in acid colors like Huichol yarn paintings that knocked your socks off. Other artwork was to be found in the foyer: a King and Queen mosaic and a Bahamas couple in mosaic tile.
I admired Ricky's mother-in-law tongues and palm tree in the window, a swordfish and friend on the wall. I sipped my Kendall-Jackson chardonnay, so woody and warming (there's an extensive wine list). While we were there, a laid-back bluegrass band began, with Irish-sounding flute, mandolin, bass fiddle, guitar - but we had tickets for a tour de force right around the block.
David Hare's Judas Kiss: Oscar Wilde Before and After
We entered the Mona Lisa Theatre, the miracle of Pearl Alley, and smelled fresh paint. Prelude music had soothing, haunting melodic violin arpeggios. The set was an off-white muslin wonder, a voyeuristic bedroom: unmade bed, clothing strewn, half-drunk champagne, patterned rug and floor, marble-topped table, chimney lamp (a clue that this was historical drama).
The First Act has to do with whether Oscar has to flee or hesitate and go to jail for his affair with "Bosie," Lord Alfred Douglas. Servants fly in and out the door and the bed like "Three's Company," and Robbie Ross, Oscar's friend, tries to set the scene for Oscar's entrance and supposed escape. When Michael Wilson appears in the character of Oscar Wilde, he does not disappoint, after the long build-up. He endures bickering about arrest or flight, affecting indifference, flailing all over the room, dripping wit, ordering dinner which he cannot eat: "Even the lobster reproaches me. Look at its dead eye." His object of desire, Bosie, shows up and delays things even further. Oscar imbibes an incredible amount of wine, and lavishes the servants with compliments and money out of Rob-bie's pocket.
The Second Act, still in off-white, starts with nudity of Bosie and his last-night's fling, an Italian fisherman. For Oscar has spent his time in jail and is now joining Bosie in Naples (the year is 1887). The nudity is handled tastefully, although the brittle relationship is discussed amid many more drinks: "The purpose of alcohol is to behold full-blown beauty, whereas sober, it's only hinted at." The lights get dimmer and Mr. Wilson as Oscar, playing the part like a symphony of declarations and asides, ramblings, repellents, hypocrisies gives us the feeling we're voyeurs in an all-night bull session. It's a tour de force about behavior and moral example - well done by this small but mighty Reality Theatre.
Gordon Keith: A True Original
There's a slate grey-blue building at 141 E. Goodale Street - Gordon Keith Originals. It's nestled right behind the new blue, green, burnt pink, and orange side of the Convention Center. Presently, the construction fills the street with debris and bulldozers, but Gordon Keith got there first - 15 years ago to be exact! This is the fifth factory he has opened in Columbus. He also had a retail store in the alley near Lazarus downtown where you might have purchased beads, baubles, and decorative items from all corners of the earth.
So what's behind those gray walls? Offices, metal fabrication, an art gallery and a full-color printing studio. Upon my visit, Mr. Keith looked every inch the man of color and style. In his jacket pocket was a gold handkerchief, his tie had gold/black/blue squares. For over 55 years his designs have been transformed into steel, wood, plastics, papier-mâché, and plaster for large displays in major department stores in the U.S.
Now the factory specializes in custom-made metal fixtures to display merchandise in stores. I saw shelving and tables of original designs. I also saw handmade boxes in many colors to simulate merchandise and enhance the Waterford Crystal displays. Other accounts include Macy's, Bloomingdale's, Saks, Neiman Marcus and most major department stores in the United States.
Following the yellow line around the factory-floor "tour," I viewed areas for steel to be: cut, washed, ground, assembled, welded, finished, ground again, washed again, polished, and painted. The Keith factory employs 20-40 workers, depending on the season. If a New York or California-based company comes up with an idea that is "UPS-able" the unit can be designed, built, painted, and in the cutomer's hands within 18 hours.
Now, the art gallery. Gordon Keith is a prolific artist. He creates on the average six paintings a week: watercolors, gouache, temperas, acrylics, and oils. They line the walls, fill the bins, and are stacked to the ceiling: portraits, landscapes, abstracts, cubism, still life, color study, playful, expressionist, involved, humor, along with metal sculpture. A stunning silver metal angel that stands 8 feet tall dominates the space. It is to be installed in a Columbus church. (The factory gallery is open by appointment only.) Gordon's wife Bette organizes his art sales, and works for charitable organizations associated with Pilot Dogs, Grant Medical Center, and the women's auxiliary of AFAR-OA, Inc. (American Federation for Aging Research-Ohio Affiliate).
Greg Keith, Gordon's son, creates multi-metaled mannequin/robot futuristic sculpture; one I saw in centaur fashion. The family oozes art through its pores. Greg also manages the factory. He attended Upper Arlington High School, Otterbein College, Columbus College of Art & Design and spent a year abroad studying in Florence. Both Keiths are tall, affable, and have imaginations that spread out like blue dye in a summer rain.
I heard many stories. One of the senior Mr. Keith's favorite stories is the day the street turned blue. One grain of an aniline dye they used would make a plateful of the sky-hued stuff. However, the dye was not permanent and would disappear in strong sunlight. A rusty can of dye, left behind after a factory move from Hague Avenue, got hauled up the street and down the alley to a dumping site. Came a summer rain. The street was blue, the alley was blue, the cars of local residents and a nearby shoe factory, all were smeared royally. An insurance man employed by Keith arrived and handed out two dollars to everyone who wanted a carwash (the price in those days). Then the sun came out and the blue disappeared.
Mr. Keith and my father, Ben Hayes, were friends. (My father frequented the factory because he liked to smell sawdust.) Ben said Mr. Keith could not sell Christmas decorations to the city in July. Mr. Keith said he'd buy my father a birthday cake if they did buy. Well, Gordon sold the city half of the job, so he had half a birthday cake made for Ben. Another Keith-made present to Ben was a rubber-molded pigeon mounted on a wooden block, complete with droppings and a tear in the bird's eye, ostensibly crying because my father had an anti-pigeon campaign going in his Columbus Citizen column. The bird remained on my father's desk until the day he retired.
Gordon Keith's visions always sprang 3-dimensionally out of his mind. He grew up in Columbus, attended Medary Avenue School, Indianola Junior High, and North High School. He had many scholarships to the Columbus Gallery of Arts School (now Columbus College of Art & Design) when World War II called him away. He was assigned to the 1621st Engineer Model Making Detachment. The 21-man unit made the invasion models for the Island of Elba and southern France. He personally made the city of Niece, France on a 1/5000 scale. Sitting in a slit trench outside Oran in North Africa when "Bed-Check Charlie" flew over every night, he and a friend planned a display business. After the war was over and Gordon did a short stint in the display department at Lazarus, he went to Boston to his friend's home, but his friend could not remember any of their conversations. So, while in Boston, Gordon sold a job to Kennedy's Men's Stores by impressing the owner with his paper sculpture animals. And, Gordon Keith Originals was born.
Now Mr. Keith has transformed many of his visions to inspirational 2-dimensional prints, with a virtual art gallery at www.signatureartcollection.com. "One Thousand Artists in One Man's Art" and "Every Print Tells A Story" are his mottos. He would also like to mention that his works are his way of sharing his God-given talent to give joy to others; he wants to pass along thoughtfulness and caring.
One more story. My family attended a Keith factory employee Christmas party when I was a child, an extravaganza with the very best decorations, of course. On the way there, my mother twisted her ankle in a parking lot. Gordon Keith gave her a cane painted like a candy cane, which we kept in our family for years. We also have little statues that keep us reminded of the diverse output of the Keith imagination: a goat's head here, a dove there, little nuggets of generosity and delight.
Sustenance for the Soul: Food, Fond Remembering
On a dark, stormy night in January, I was taken by two Daughters of Scotland to a Scottish Gathering and Robert Burns Supper at the Eagles Hall in Reynoldsburg, catered haggis and meat pies by Ackroyd's in Detroit. The shortbread for dessert was magnificent.
We entered at the moment of the arrival of the haggis, "piped in" by Glenn Mackie, bagpiper. Mary Wiles, Geraldine Stevens, and I quickly took our seats. Haggis, for the uninitiated, is ground organ meats, oatmeal, onion, and seasonings, cooked in a sheep's stomach.
A Burns' poem, Address To A Haggis, was recited by Dean Shipley. This poem deprecates other cuisines in favor of the "glorious sight, warm-reekin', rich!" of the haggis. Another Scottish delicacy, "marrowfat peas," a rather runny dish, was sampled.
My companions savored their meat pies (ground pork and beef) as we savored more Burns' poetry, dancing by the Columbus Scottish Highland Dancers, and the view of many forms of Scottish garb, from tartan scarves thrown over the shoulder to all-out kilts and sporran, the fur purse worn over the private parts.
A targe, a shield that might have been carried by Macbeth himself in battle, was raffled off. Hornpipes were danced. Wine and beer came and went. Carl Peterson and Bobby Murray led us in a sing-along of "Beyond Bonnie Banks," and then it was time to go.
Robert Burns penned verses to Auld Lang Syne, Comin' Thro' The Rye, (Holden Caulfield's ditty), Charlie He's My Darling, John Barleycorn, countless odes to beautiful women and his hosts at various castles throughout Scotland. His birthday is January 25, and should rightly be celebrated with wine and song and hearty fare, drumming up some enthusiasm in the stillness of winter, the way Mr. Burns lived his life.
Another person who lived life with enthusiasm was Christina Pritsolas of the Queen Bee Restaurant. She "attacked" life with all her energy. She told her stories over and over with gusto. She yelled at people across the room; she yelled at the TV soap-operas; she yelled at her husband John in the kitchen, just over her right shoulder from her "throne" in the dining room.
On a sunny morning in January, I went to the Greek Orthodox Cathedral to say good-bye to Christina. The candles were lit for her. Sun streamed in the stained-glass windows. Her leopard-print blouse and black suit were very "right" amid her red roses. Her granddaughter sang an unquavering song about arriving on the other shore. Christina's body had grown weary of fighting all her aches and pains.
But inside my head she was still yelling at me, "Christina! (She called me) When you gonna get married? Come here and eat your soup! Get yourself some rice pudding! Yan! (She called her husband John) Get the baklava for Christina! Sit down here close to me, honey. Whaddaya got on today?" (Here she examines my jewelry) By the end of the visit she most likely would have given me some of her jewelry, some cookies, candy, and lots of advice. John would press upon me macaroni and cheese, more pudding, more comfort for later.
After the memorial service, I crossed the alley to Benevolence, another comforting pitstop. The staff and clientele there witnessed a woman in black (me) pacing and perusing the wares with her coffee cup. It was a wonderful place to remember and unwind. The sit-down-at-long-tables space has been expanded, so the pacing was better than before, an elongated "L." The shelves were crammed with bright pottery, cards, books, toys, jewelry, attractive gifts of all sorts. I refilled my cup, paced, then took home treasures: a valentine angel that to me looked like Christina, gone to proffer her enthusiastic givings upon a Heavenly Host; a small plate with a tomato design; a book of fine poetry and elegant illustrations; a mason jar of vegetable soup.
Then I ventured round and round North Market, there to peer at faces and more foodstuffs. Such solace in humanity and fine fare! I recommend it as a place to "process" yourself. I bought a dozen of Dorothy's eggs, and took them to my mother.
I write this on February 18, which would have been Christina's 80th birthday. She is imbuing my sensibilities with the sense of wildness and the willingness to take risks - with the gift given with energy and advice. With the heights and the depths of feeling. Not backing off, but wading into the unknown. Good-bye, Christina. I have a feeling you'll be waiting for me on the other shore.
Sensibility How Charming
Sensibility how charming,
Thou, my friend, can'st truly tell!
But Distress with horrors arming
Thou alas! hast known too well!Fairest flower, behold the lily
Blooming in the sunny ray:
Let the blast sweep o'er the valley,
See it prostrate in the clay.Hear the woodlark charm the forest,
Telling o'er his little joys;
But alas! a prey the surest
To each pirate of the skies!Dearly bought the hidden treasure
Finer feelings can bestow;
Chords that vibrate sweetest pleasure
Thrill the deepest notes of woe.
Resolve To Relax and Enjoy Cool Columbus in 2001
Here in Columbus our plate's full and fun,
Here are some highlights for 2001.
Our dapper new mayor Coleman's quite a plum,
Innovation and cooperation are his rules of thumb.
Downtown facelifts and fests keep our city fresh,
At Thurber House humor and literature mesh.
The gardens of Schiller shimmer and beckon,
There's treasure at Helen Winnemore's, I reckon.
We're lucky we have Arnett Howard to toot at us,
Gourmets abound, both Grumpy and gratuitous,
Bakeries Eleni Christina and Piece of Cake,
Mozart's, Benevolence, here nothing's fake.
Planet Pet's catnip mice give our cats a big boost,
Art cars smartly show each year at Artist's Roost.
Whoop up a storm at Little Brother's too,
Check out "petrified burger" at White Castle's HQ.
Let's raise a glass to Glass Axis and Leaves of Grass,
Send a Basket by Bonnie to dashed-hope Democrats,
While visions of Lemongrass dance in our heads,
We'll peruse the headshop Stuff of Waterbeds.
If from holiday spending we find our funds low,
We always can ease the pain with witty Joe Blundo.
And if we catch you in your afternoon nappers,
We'll whisk Gwynyth Mislin to dine (R.J. Snapper's).
And if you're in danger of becoming a cynic,
We invite you to tour the organs Bunn-Minnick.
If new year's resolutions make you a sulker,
Listen up to Willie Pooch or look for Paul Volker,
Joyce Griffiths' Byzantium can give you a lift,
With a raenwater cocktail get Dragonfly's drift.
And after a snappy round of shopping Market North,
We'll whisk Queen Brooks to the Queen Bee on Fourth.
From COSI to Krema our fame's ever-growing,
Wonder Bread and Wild Oats keep the dough flowing,
The diner J and G serves food of high comfort,
Urban Gardener's the scene of great plants and some dirt.
Pick up new threads at the Gallery so Global,
Studios on High's wonderful weavings so noble,
And while you're in the dressing room being fitted,
We'll whisk Bone Lady to Frezno (weather permitted).
On Sundays Blue Collar on WCBE's awaiting,
Tapatio or Strada are perfect for dating,
The snow blows on chainsaw art (Como Mower)
Recycle your goods at ReArt before you throw'er,
Consult Yankee Trader before every party,
Visit happy B. Hampton's hours so hearty.
If you need relief from accept-or-reject polls,
Visit Maramor Candy or one of the Drexels.
From 2CO, Haiku, K2U (really rare finds),
Toast the millennium plus one - it blows your mind!
Horizontal Mona's view looks toward the summer -
There's so much to do - never a bummer.
But if you're in debt from the rent or the heat,
Dream about DooDah or Comfest (so neat).
From Books on High to the High-Buttles Bijou,
Happy New Year! Keep cool until 2002!
- Christine Hayes
There's a Special Place in the Neighborhood ...
Where the Folks All Go When They Wanna Feel Good
Cathy Capuano of B. Hampton's and guess who the celebrity is?
At the corner of Third Avenue and Harrison, just to the west of Neil Avenue, is a great little bar (that a lot of folks already know about) in a residential area. B. Hampton's is in the location of the former Nonni's restaurant. The plain rectan-gular structure houses a jewelbox interior renovation and a recurring cast of characters.
Behind the concept of B. Hampton's is Cathy Capuano, a Columbus native and Victorian Village resident, who learned the restaurant/bar business from her family. Cathy continues to work in her own place ("I do everything but cook," she says). The large-scale family treasures - a suit of armor, a huge sun, a gigantic urn with cherubs - are displayed to maximum effect in B. Hampton's three rooms. And the name honors Cathy's grandfather, Herbert "Bert" Hampton Nixon, who owned a cigar and candy store for many years in Union Station. He appears as a smiling man in a convertible in a photograph from 1933 above the bar (he passed away in 1991), his name framed with lettering by Chris Daniggelis.
Surrounding this large photo are others, an ongoing collection that Cathy says will grow through the years with photos of good friends, customers, and staff. For now the focus is on her "Wall of Fame" featuring Cathy photographed with such celebrities as Tony Bennett, Sting, Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones, Arman Asante, Lou Ferigno (the Incredible Hulk), and John Cooper.
B. Hampton's not only has new decor, it also has a new menu: Pizza, pasta, chicken, salads, the B. Hampton burger, the B. Hampton employee quesadilla, sandwiches of all kinds, an array of fried comfort foods (I had the Creole Fettucine with the homemade sauce and garlic bread - yum). The buffet has been discontinued, but the Happy Hour drinks are still one dollar (both domestic beer and well drinks daily from 4 to 9). The kitchen is open from 4 pm to midnight Monday thru Thursday, to 1 am Friday and Saturday, and to 10 pm on Sunday. There's always free chips and homemade salsa.
I interviewed Cathy on a bone-chilling night in November. She claimed to have the flu, but she looked radiant. She enthused over her trademark sun motif and warmed the room. The sun murals, one in the dining room and one in the bar, are getting their finishing touches from CCAD student Mariana Smith. They sparkle. The sun over the kitchen archway recurs on the menu, as does the image of the immense cast-iron eagle custom-made to fit another archway, and the suit of armor. "These are my trademarks," says Cathy.
Cathy at one time thought she would go into cosmetology, and did attend cosmetology school after graduating from Bishop Hartley. Her personal and professional taste reflect sleekness and sophistication. B. Hampton's formerly had a "Southwest" theme (a sunset over the mesa painting in the pool room still reflects this), but now a "city" look prevails - a cityscape adorns one wall - also some black-and-white pieces by Lee Ann McGuire, many sun-rayed mirrors, grand gilt-framed mirrors. Vestiges of Nonni's are the neon sculpture above the entrance and the restrooms, and the imposing four-foot aquarium in the entry-way. Shining metal scallop shells perch above the bar. The entry also has a comfy banquette of pillows. An ornate wrought iron table holds literature and newspapers - a homey feel. "B. Hampton's" is painted impressively on the entry wall (in case you don't know where you are) and repeated in neon over the dining-room bar (the bartenders work both sides of the bar through an opening in between). And for now, the whole place is awash in Christmas decorations by Buffington Flowers. A large Santa statue beams from the kitchen.
The jukebox grinds out snappy tunes. The three rooms beat and hum, throbbing along with the vivacity of the clientele. I observed all kinds of dress: men with ties, workshirts, sweaters, a woman with a huge paw print on the back of her shirt. French advertising art cavorted before my eyes in the dining room: two macaws gambol on a bottle of Toni-Kola, a red pierrot plays tennis with a macaw riding a bottle of brandy (Sauvion's), a Pernis maiden is dancing on the lip of a glass.
Cathy says more than one couple have met at B. Hampton's and then married. She herself is single and looking for Mr. Right. For now, Cathy enjoys her three cats, two dogs, fish, employees, customers, family, and friends. Many of her employees have been with her most of the eight years she's been open, including Scott Weisman, a downtown attorney by day and bartender by night.
You can rent the dining room for a private party if you want to be a part of the warming environment. Or drop by for Happy Hour or a bite to eat. Thursday seems to be the busiest night, also Friday and during OSU games.
Sitting at the bar across from the beer frig is impressive. Beneath the peaceful aquascape fountain lights (like lava lamps, only with bubbles), Zeke the bartender attends to his regulars during Monday Night Football (three screens, one large). I'm sure the "Wall of Fame" will grow as the successful years pass by.
A business built on spirit, ethics, and aesthetics is an anomaly in mall-ridden Columbus. Yet, here is Byzantium thriving in its new space, having moved six months ago from King Avenue to the Garden District, filling up the fresh space with beautiful goods from around the world.
The former Short Stop Teen Center at 1088 N. High has been totally refurbished. The tribute to Libby Gregory, the late previous owner, is along the back wall, and includes watercolors by Matthew Crouch of Libby's house, the former store, and the King Avenue Coffeehouse; and a poem by Val Poutre. Also watching over the store are a double pair of statues. In the center island are a Baule (Ivory Coast of Africa) carved wood man and woman. At the right rear corner are Yoruba god of thunder Sango and his consort Oba holding a baby, all three figures completely beaded from head to toe in Nigeria. Neither pair is for sale. The latter have appeared in an exhibit at the Boonshaft Museum of Discovery in Dayton and will soon appear at the Ohio Craft museum in Grandview.
But what is for sale? Beads, beads, fabulous beads, and wonderful other stuff. Countries represented: Bali, Mexico, Native American nations, Timor, China, Guatemala, Tibet, Afghanistan, and many African nations, with goods getting more amazing and diversified every day &endash; in the areas of textiles, rugs, fetishes, musical instruments, wind chimes, pottery, baskets, lights, clothing, masks, curtains, jewelry, candles, cards, wrapping paper, incense. The Asante stools are for the grounded. The beaded curtains and a fanciful lamp rise from the center. Haitian voodoo banners on the left. Skeleton boxes from Bali, and Tibetan nomad boxes of leather and handmade brass fittings. Other boxes include: Polish, Egyptian, and Russian Lacquer. Such boxes have the lives of their makers coming out through the feel of them.
By the front door is the "Joel" box, a display case for jewelry, but also the embodiment of a man. It is never to be taken out of the Short North, by request of its former owner, the late Joy Nesson of Design 436. Look at it closely - it has the spirit of its maker and many totem letters.
Byzantium owner Joyce Griffiths has continued the work of Libby. The strange and spiritual coincidence/fate/synchroni-city which moved her into her current position is still a source of inspiration and surprise. As a grad student, she moved to Columbus the month Libby opened Byzantium: June 1985. Libby had been a partner in the Tradewinds store at 12th and High for many years.
Libby's unique abilities at networking, empowering people, treating customers and employees well, are still spoken of with awe. Joyce loved the beads and art, and became friends with Libby, who helped in Joyce's decision to quit graduate school. Libby later asked her to come help with the business, but Joyce declined because she was working on developing her own jewelry business. Two weeks later, Libby left on her last buying trip and died tragically in a plane crash in Los Angeles on February 1, 1991. Joyce felt Libby had wanted her to take care of Byzantium and decided to help run the store after her death. Joyce later purchased the store from Libby's brother.
Joyce, originally from Chicago, had been a pharmacist, a veteri-narian, and was getting her PhD in veterinary pharmacology when, under Libby's guidance, she decided she could no longer take part in research that involved killing horses. Joyce, with her logical science background, is now a true believer in spirit and in keeping an open mind. She advises: "Help can come from unconventional places. I'm a testament you can do anything you want to do, to change the course of your life." Consider these signs:
Some of Libby's old friends visited Byzantium on King Ave. A large piece of rose quartz, sitting back on a shelf for years, "flew out" from its place and hit the floor.
Second: At a meeting of the Bead Society of Central Ohio at 249 King Avenue (two doors up from the former Byzantium), the assembled group was discussing the future move of the store, and specifically moving Libby's altar (a multi-layered collection of artifacts and mementos behind the counter). At that moment a crash was heard. A top shelf of trays had inexplicably fallen to the floor, a minor mess, not taking with it a shelf of ceramic mugs directly below it. The assembly interpreted this as a sign Libby was listening and approving.
Third: An old friend of Libby's came into the new Byzantium. Libby's presence was felt. The next night the office bell was ringing loudly with no one but Joyce in the store.
Some of the shelves for Tradewinds/ Byzantium were purchased at the Central Ohio Psychiatric Hospital when it was razed. Paul Volker recalls walking the institute's zigzag hallways, feeling the anguish of its prior inmates as palpable. He remembers carved wooden pillars with jesters' hats as embellishment, and patients' writings upon the wall. The shelves are still being used in Byzantium, their karma diffused by the power objects surrounding them.
The new store itself was a coincidence/ fate event. The building was on the market at the right time and was the only space ever considered for the move. The store is well-staffed with knowledgeable and personable individuals. They work amid the power-vibes of hand-picked jewelry (from the traders and from shows) and totemic art while concentrating on the smallest beautiful beads. The Timor-made "house crown" of carved wood (roosters of royalty and courage) stands watch above.
Libby had a vision, and Joyce is carrying it out into a new configuration. The new roots are taking hold. The evolution of Byzantium is a true treasure of Columbus.
Byzantium's is located at 1088 N. High Street. They are open everyday: Mon - Sat: Noon - 7; Sun: Noon - 6. Classes in beading techniques are offered: 291-3130.
Bonanza of Baskets by Bonnie:
Provocative and topical window displays are a hallmark
James Thurber used to play telephone pranks by calling folks to ask what's playing at the High-Buttles Bijou. (There was no such place.) However, in the last four years, we have had the High-Buttles corner brightened by an eclectic variety store reflecting the fine and fun taste of Bonnie Segel. Her inner movie has spilled out into the former pharmacy, filling the aisles with a cornucopia of goods.
Ms. Segel, a Cleveland native transplanted to Columbus, said she asked herself what she would do if she had no restraints on her bankbook or imagination. Her store is the result. (Her first location in the Short North was two years across the street.) She hastens to amend the title of "Baskets by Bonnie." She does indeed make up themed, personalized baskets as gifts. But the casual shopper can find treats and treasures to go, unbasketed. It's a mini-mart of stocking stuffers, especially for the man stumped for that last-minute birthday or Christmas present. I would be a willing recipient for just about anything Bonnie has to offer.
Bonnie has gleaned these items from a kaleidoscope of catalogues, doing all the work for you. Here's a partial list of what she's got: cards, candy, cookies, candles, coffee, tea, bath products (especially a line called H2O+), gardening supplies, plush animals, adult items (only tasteful ones), OSU-themed items, Ohio-themed items, jigsaw puzzles, Italian stuff, Tex-Mex items, novelties, glassware, table linens, games, videos, baby gifts, magnets, gift books, Coppola and other fine wines, cheeses, balloons. I'll stop there (whew!). And remember, a lot of these are gourmet, imported, hard-to-find. If you can't find it at Bonnie's, ask her to order it!
She really invites customer feedback. You can probably tell this from the street by her pushing-the-envelope window displays. At my visit a blonde mannequin in wedding garb was ready to marry her multimillionaire, and a bathtub-gin brunette mannequin lolled next to a terry-robed goddess. Other windows have depicted "Mommy Dearest" hacking her roses and daughter's hair for Mother's Day.
Bonnie says, "It takes a village to make a window," and always welcomes ideas and props from her fellow retailers and customers.
Bonnie gets all kinds of requests, so she must keep a sense of humor. She has been asked to create a "Divorce Basket" (included voodoo dolls), and a "Congratulations on Your Promotion" basket that included foot-oriented products for a person who encouraged her vendors in jest to "Wash My Feet." Bonnie's remembrance of the funniest card was for a kidney stone surgery candidate: "Urine Our Thoughts." Bonnie noted that among her "adult" goods are a pair of "fuzzy handcuffs" and chocolate body frosting.
Some of the other gifts she pointed out are "Milka" chocolate from Germany and board games for many colleges (including, of course, "Buckopoly.") She has wedding, baby, and graduation Time Capsules in a Tin. And "baskets" aren't always made up in baskets. Their base can be an enameled steel colander, a little Radio Flyer wagon, a hat (Mexican, beach, or cowboy). Also: Amish baskets that fold flat into trivets in the shape of a pig, teapot, or Ohio; hat boxes or brightly patterned boxes; a pinata; a galvanized steel bucket; a golf ball bucket; a fishing creel; and any number of handsome treasure boxes in wood, wire, or metal. Each container, and any item in a container, is a gift unto itself.
The interior at Bonnie's is spacious and airy, with merchandise running up the walls like geckos on holiday. The windows have been opened to the light. The terrazzo floors have been reground to look pristine (although some iodine stains have been found to attest to the existence of the former pharmacy). The entire property belonged to White Cross Hospital and contained many doctors' offices and a bank. The building opened in 1902, with Herman M. Hubbard as its agent. You can look up at its exterior doorways and see the medical caduceus, the serpent and the staff.
Now, instead of a medical visit, one can visit Bonnie's for the medicine of laughter. How about some "Cowtown Cookies" or a "Siesta Man Margarita Glass"? Pick out some fun stuff to send to an ailing friend. Or the birthday boy. Or--? New merchandise arriving daily &endash; by next week it'll all be different! Go check it out!
Tales of Comfest, Doo Dah, and Dragonfly
It looked like a marriage of Mexican village and Grateful Dead concert, with a little Ohio State Fair thrown in. The ware-stalls featured retro fashion, New Age goods and services, ethnic art, crafts, food of all kinds. The mixture of musical styles wove through the brain from the four stages. The gazebo stage near the lake was the prettiest. Folk and jazz had varied cuisine-smells to enhance. The shelter house stage throbbed. Kids scrabbled over the playground. Dogs smiled. At night, the lights threw an aura of magic on faces.
Some of the faces: Roger Josephson, tie-dye artist, drove straight from Key West, where his son had a Little League tournament, to set up his booth. A representative from NORML spoke from the stage about the by-products of cocaine production being bad chemicals that were dumped onto the ground and fouling the ground water. All bands played for free. No corporate sponsorship. No logos cloying our view of the people. Handmade signs. Hurrah for the volunteers.
The milling-about beforehand is half the fun. Goodale Park had hardly heard the last musical strains from ComFest before it was bombarded with the DooDah Day-Trippers.
The large groups of organized mayhem returned to delight: The Marching Fidels as Elian's Homecoming Parade, "Janet Reno" in drag, riding atop a black Mercedes convertible, smoking a cigar with the best of them. Exhorting "Republicans" - one with a huge speaker system strapped onto him - I heard him shouting about the return of square wheels and the sinister motives of electrons.
The Millennium Virgin and her Court (the Virgin being green and dinotilian) were challenged in beauty by the bevy of July brides in the back of a pickup truck. The truck was covered by white heart balloons and monopoly money. "I Want To Marry A Millionaire" and "Greed Is Good" said the signs. "Driving Miss Rosa" had a queenly waving African-American businesswoman satirizing our goddess of the schools. The bike brigade declared itself "SUV of The Year 2020," with dollar signs decorating the gas pumps. The kazoo-playing Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer band declared itself to be "Untitled."
Individuals had some great satire, too. One was the "Church Of The Subgenius." The 3-legged man in the David Byrne-style giant suit did some pretty fancy footwork. The Coneheads on the bicycle built for two ran into the Gas-Powered Super Duper Pooper Scooper (a machine attached to a shovel). Two individuals (father and son) wore T-shirts saying, "Me and Mini-Me."
The Columbus "In-Mime Skate Club" wheeled by in whiteface. The Cameron Mitchell spoof featured signs such as "Speak Softly And Carry A Big Steak," "I Did Not Have Sex With That Red Snapper," and "Wood-Fired Chief Jackson."
In the same culinary vein, a dancing can of parmesan cheese stopped to visit the mushrooms accompanying the artcars. Scott Williams had a picnic on his Plaid Car hood, complete with brie, French bread, watermelon, grapes, wine, and Perrier. The Summer Art Car of Greg Phelps sported a matching child-size red sports car (also decorated). Gretchen and Max of California St. watched over the Motley Malibu (EYESOAR) in their fairy costumes. And Emily Ramseyer (she and Jennifer were the hot mushrooms) brought up the rear of RIDI's entry with the Happy Face Bead Car.
The tally by the end of the parade (voted on by shouts from the crowd): ART, 123; EYESORE 41; and a combination of the two, ARTSORE or EYESOAR, 3.
A DooDah sidelight were the performing pot-bellied pigs in the park. ("They looked like stuffed dolls," said Carol Hershey Durell of Studios on High.) One was 240 pounds, an enormous pink and gray charmer, the other dark and smaller, with "mind-riveting cute personalities."
To sum up the imagery of DooDah was the inflatable "Scream" figure atop the golf-cart monitors. Once again, the safety of both those in the parade and watching the parade was ensured. Thanks to all concerned with ComFest and DooDah for making "non-organization" look so effortlessly organized.
After an absolutely delicious dinner at Dragonfly, 147 King Avenue, Jane Hale and I agreed that the cuisine could be called "soul Japanese." The Asian lightness of touch combined with the sensuousness of taste, beautiful presen-tation, and the freshest and healthiest of ingredients, gives one a glow of well-being.
The place does glow. It has five kinds of lighting, six if you count the large oval candles in the windows. The shape is echoed by the huge dragonfly wing-like overhead light fixture and the long indented table near the iridescent tiled bar. Aztec red and moss green softly accent the walls; the huge cartoonish paintings are harsh. It's an odd combination of wild kitsch and minimalistic elegance.
The staff extends the feeling of sophistication. They are extremely patient in describing the ingredients of the dishes. During our visit the place was packed. Elegant liquids - from the excellent water to the organic, quirky cocktails - helped me cope with the overbearing music, the blender from the bar, and the conversational cacophony.
The noise level aside, everything else was fabulous. The cuisine is described as "Neo-v" - I assume "v" for vegan (no animal products in the foods.) The nori spring rolls had the longest carrot strands ever (Jane wore one as a necklace). There was high-quality nori on the wrapper (not chewy) and crunchy vegetables (not cooked). You feel at home with comforting large white plates and bowls. The entrees are like fancy hats. We played "name that ingredient."
My "flight" (three-course meal-of-the-day) included a risotto with citrus rind, papadon, hijiki seaweed, and banana lime salsa. Jane's polenta had figs, onions, olives, eggplant, tahini, grilled tofu, celery, and zucchini. The ginger accent was ultra-fresh.
The strawberry fruit crisp dessert was intense after the dinner. (It would have made the best breakfast ever.) Hot strawberry and pineapple "cobbler" with lavender gelato. Lighter was the strawberry and melon gazpacho. We felt we'd been kissed by the muse, with excellent decaf.
The Muse is Magdiale in the kitchen, and his partner Kristen at the bar. They've been open since June 4, 2000, and are working with their hearts in it.
Dragonfly neo-v, located at 247 King Ave., serves fully vegetarian cuisine seven days a week.
Lemongrass, an Asian Bistro
While fog rolled into Pebble Beach, we, David Lehman and I, rolled into Lemongrass, an Asian bistro at 641 N. High Street.
Have you done something nice for yourself to commemorate the beginning of summer? Here's my advice. Take a long bath or a refreshing shower. Put on a Hawaiian shirt or other loose-fitting, light garment. Allow yourself two hours for dinner. Go to Lemongrass.
Here life is unhurried and the food is ample and good. No bitsy gourmet portions with the rest of the plate covered with swirls of sauce. This is real food cooked to perfection. (For lighter fare, there is also sushi - on beautiful plates - and nigiri and sashimi.)
The svelte waitstaff, clad in black, offers no showmanship, only attentive, smiling, unobtrusive help. The pianist is in the back room but the acoustics are wonderful; the music carries throughout the long main room. We heard Rhapsody in Blue, Summertime, the Charlie Brown theme, the Beatles? The Way She Moves, a little Scott Joplin. Eclectic, also unobtrusive.
We relaxed into the Zen box. The stippled walls came more into focus as the evening progressed. Elongated flower lights illumine walls adorned with trompe l'oeil flowers and peppers floating in space, interspersed by rising suns or moons. All the flower arrangements have been placed with deft and loving hands.
Black and white photography by Harry Williams Jr. of Malaysians, also some interiors and exteriors, set the mood of Asian attentiveness to detail. I especially liked the view of the outdoor market. The wine rack "sculpture" in the window is inviting. The chairs have a sea-green molded-plastic 50's look, but are surprisingly comfortable. White linens are used throughout, white paper is changed on the tabletops.
The glasses of wine run $4.50-$7.00. I had two at the top end of that range: Neibaum-Coppola 98 Claret - and I was feeling mellow. The Bombay salad (greens and braised tofu) served with the "signature" peanut satay sauce (oh nectar of gods) had ultra-thin crunchy rice and egg noodles, also carrots cut in thin long strands. The mixture of textures and flavors was exhilarating.
Our other appetizer was stuffed Portabella; the mushroom large, flavorful, and al dente, stuffed with spinach, crabmeat, shrimp, and cream cheese. I noticed I got only one bite before it disappeared. We chose the specials: salmon and filet mignon, the salmon stuffed with shrimp, crab, and cream cheese, the filet mignon paired with a quirky pancake made from onion, shrimp, and crab. The presentation of the entrees was dramatic without being studied: carrots flecked the outer rim of the large round plate. Both were served with mushroom fried rice (all entrees except pastas are served with a choice of white steamed rice, mushroom fried rice, or pasta) and green beans, so fresh. The salmon was seared with a slight crust but pure velvet inside. The filet was tender. We also tried the Padd Thai, a brisk melange of noodles, vegetables, and crushed peanuts, slightly spicy and shot through with bean sprouts and flecks of carrots. This is another of the Lemongrass signature dishes.
Here we must say that we had moved once already to get our "feng shui" correct in the Zen box. Now we asked to move to the back room for dessert and coffee. No one was in the least surprised or upset by our repeated requests. This is one professional and pleasant place.
In the back room were the paintings of Robert S. Wright, large and small, of Asian-style dancing characters: black, white, orange, red, rust. The walls and overhead grid are a créme brulèe color with a sky-blue ceiling. A richly carved wooden screen stands at the rear of the room. There was a large party obviously enjoying themselves in the corner; most tables were filled with twos in intimate romantic fold, but threes and fours were also in evidence, snippets of conversation and laughter murmuring around us as we sipped our flavorful coffee and enjoyed our slice of heaven: "silken" pie- chocolate cake beneath white chocolate mousse, chocolate cookie crust and sliced strawberries at the side. The baby grand with Gary Matheny at the helm soothed us with As Time Goes By. It's a genteel world unto itself.
There's a little world out the back door you won't want to miss: a courtyard for new-age offices with a fountain and a pool with goldfish built right into the red-tile floor. The soothing sound led us over to the back door of K2U, which is a horse of a different color. (See review of K2U in the April SNG at www.shortnorth.com.) We cruised back to Lemongrass - its lighter-than-air twin. The candles winked at us as we exited this calm ambiance.
Lemongrass, located at 641 N. High Street in the Short North.
Peter Rowan at Little Brother's: Dan Hicks at Thirsty Ear
At Little Brother's, 1100 N. High Street in the Garden District, on May 3, one of the most prolific and well-respected musicians of our time appeared in our midst: Mr. Peter Rowan.
What a set! Two hours non-stop. His energy was catching; he had the audience in the palm of his hand, building upon consummate crowd-pleasers, hardly catching a breath in between.
I was embarrassed at the shouting members of the audience and also those who talked through the music. A musician can only play as well as his audience listens. To Rowan's credit, he asked that no one smoke during his set. Dan Dougan, proprietor of Little Brother's, was a little blown away by the last-minute announcement, but said later, given more advance notice, he'd be willing to do a non-smoking event again. (Mr. Rowan handled the shouters good-humoredly, dedicating one song to striking plumbers.)
Mr. Rowan has found the common ground between the mundane and the spiritual. His lyrics bridge Buddhism and Christianity, love and death, getting high and getting by. Instead of alcohol, we should be drinking nectar and honey, sucking chili peppers.
Peter Rowan played one instrument during this set, a growling guitar that he coaxed into lyrical Spanish-style soundwaves, moving from one microphone to the next. (He usually plays various stringed instruments, including a lightning-charged mandolin.) His sweet voice wails from Tex-Mex to Tibetan, bluegrass to blues, holds notes for a coon's age, yodels, chants, tumbles out complex lyrics, moves you to feel the spirit of the West and the angst of the vulnerable performer.
He sings about the Dust Bowl, the Homestead Act, his daughter Amanda, wind blowing on a grave, moonshiners, howling to the moon, the midnight moonlight, the joker moon, the Blue Moon of Kentucky; wild mustangs, mission bells, old Santa Fe, poker games involving the betting of the Rocky Mountains, Jupiter, and Mars; all with firm resonant handling of the guitar and amazing vocal range and stamina. He also did one of my favorites - the Hobo Song by Jack Bonus.
Mr. Rowan has recently returned from Jamaica (he is originally from Boston, has spent many years in Northern California and Texas) where he recorded some fine stuff. He ended his set with reggae
(the Rowan Brothers used to do some) - "No Woman No Cry," and a haunting lyric "I'll fetch the wood I'll carry the water" in a lighter, enchanting beat.
He has honed his skills from touring since he was a young prodigy bluegrass boy. He does the spoken monologue as well as the song. One, the lead-in to the "Free Mexican Air Force" has become embellished into a performance piece about spiritual sport and smoke at Camp Howdy, Beauregard Hooligan with his chi moving like Elvis through the ocotillo cactus and pinon pines. The other is a monologue about his days with Bill Monroe (Bill always called him "Pete Rones") and the touring bus called the Bluegrass Breakdown. (Peter also did a good rendition of this on Prairie Home Companion - nearly upstaging monologist Garrison Keillor.)
Peter may be an "old" (eminently experienced) rocker but his attitude and playing are as energized as a young boy.
Mr. Dan Dougan booked Mr. Rowan as a single performer, although he mostly performs with a band. Mr. Rowan was traveling through Ohio (he said he was a bit scared by the drivers on the freeway) on his way to do a workshop at Jorma Kaukonen's Fur Piece Ranch near Pomeroy.
Little Brother's contained, that night, more Deadheads than bluegrass aficionados. A digression on the name of Little Brother's: before this venue, it was called "Stache's and Little Brother's" for two men: Jim ("Stache" or "mustache") and Kenny ("a shorter fellow" or "little brother"). Before Little Brother's was in existence, Mr. Dougan would book shows on his own outside of Stache's as "Little Brother Presents."
When he started this new place, he wanted people to see it as an extension, thus
keeping part of the name, and also to honor his dearly departed older brother, Terry, who was shorter than his younger brother Dan, and therefore called by Dan "Little Brother."
This is to correct the error of calling the club "Big Brother's," as it was referred to last month in the Short North Gazette article, "Light of the April Moon," on Ramona's International Drive-In art car show. All of us involved with the art car show want to thank Dan Dougan for being the avant garde in presenting art cars in Columbus at Little Brother's. We had eight decorated cars, one decorated bicycle, and a bevy of fools on April 1. We want to thank Greg Phelps for promoting it and Liz James for reviewing it and saying, "Art is useful and joyous and everybody has fun." (Mike Harden, please take note.) Watch for us again at ComFest and DooDah.
Another performer who comes from Northern California is Dan Hicks. He performed April 27 at the Thirsty Ear in Grandview, 1200 West 3rd Avenue. I used to consider him the opposite of a black cat; if he crossed my path to get to his morning coffee as I was driving to work through Mill Valley, it was good luck. He also encountered heckling and talking through his sets at the Thirsty Ear; he was less polite. He managed to override his tightly packed and smoky crowd with some dynamite guitar playing and music choices, most notably "Honeysuckle Rose," "News From Up the Street," and Tom Waits' "The Piano Has Been Drinking." He performed with Tom Mitchell (on guitar as well); the two made for a full sound even though Hicks had to sing the Lickettes' parts. When they marched off the stage (near the front window) and out the front door, they appeared to exit into a car parked in the parking lot. Perhaps both Rowan and Hicks/Mitchell are keeping the overhead down - no tour buses here. We're just glad they choose to play in Columbus.
A note about the Columbus Landmarks Street Party and Tour on June 9 and 10: Three stops on the tour are in the Short North (even though the main party is on E. Gay between High and Third.) The three Short North stops: Todd Horton's artist studio apartment, Brent Higgins' North Market apartment, and the Battleship Building. (There are ten stops in all). View urban living and get some great ideas! The street party is free and the tour is $8 in advance, $10 day of the event. See you there.
Musical Magic on Michigan Avenue
What is that jewel of a building with candlelights in each window in the "factory" district near Thurber Village?
The one with concrete globes and the intricate wrought-iron door?
Photo by Adam Lowe
This keynote building in the Short North is located at 875 Michigan Avenue, quite near the Olentangy River. This building was in complete disintegration, although the basic structure was sound, when Robert Bunn and Philip Minnick decided to expand their pipe organ business from First and Harrison. "Sound" is the proper word for their factory, with their devotion to the goal of making the mystique of religious (and other) music as exquisite as possible.
The building is in a state of half-restoration. It gives one the feeling of being in two worlds, the sacred and the secular, the past and the present, the serious and the comic. There is a charming house dog named Elsa. A bust of Bach wears a flowered hat. A yellow bucket drawing materials up the space between the dramatic three-story staircase is called the "Yellow-vator." (A real freight elevator has been added at the back of the building - but even this was found to be over an underground stream - now re-routed.)
The building, built 1927-28, was formerly part of a huge complex on the adjoining site known as the International Derrick and Equipment Company (IDECO). This company produced steel oil well derricks, steel buildings, aircraft hangers, electric power substations, radio and TV broadcast towers, microwave and radar towers, and mechanical parking garages (one of these garages was located in Columbus). In 1944, the name was changed to Dresser-IDECO. The company remained on the site until the late 1960s. Then it fell into disrepair, a blight on the neighborhood.
One piece of glass remained in the many windows. The copper wire was stolen out of the conduits, the front door disappeared, and water from the four roof drains poured through the building, washing some cast-plaster walls away. Several of the vaults were blown up ("Probably a safe-cracking school was being held here," said Mr. Minnick).
Much loving labor has gone into the reconstruction. It was the beginning of a turnaround for the entire neighborhood. Bunn-Minnick has been sensitive to the historic architectural preservation. One thing they need is more information on the building. If anyone has any photos or history about the IDECO company, please come forward! (Two facts are known: President Bush's father worked there, and the building has the same architect as the Jeffrey Building on Fourth.)
Much of the work they have done themselves. Of course, variations in the structure have been made to accommodate the nature of pipe organ building. Part of the second floor has been removed to make way for the two-story erecting room where each organ is assembled and tested. Skylights, made on the premises, add to the airiness of the third floor work-rooms, which house pipe preparation and washing, leathering, magnet installation, metal cut-ting, graphic arts, and voicing.
The voicer, Scott Gorsuch, a man with perfect pitch, tunes all the pipes to the sound of the compass pipe. Every piece of a Bunn-Minnick pipe organ is hand-crafted (although the computer is used in the initial design); electrical solid state relay as well as antique restoring of relay systems (with cables running the length of the long hallway), and the console department, are on the second floor. On the lower wood-shop level are the machine shop, lumber storage (poplar is used primarily, although other woods are used to match church construction), finishing and spraying areas. The original Aeolian/Skinner factory Glue Press is proudly pointed out, a huge device which is regularly used in wood construc-tion, and as a joke, says Mr. Minnick, is used to discipline contrary employees.
Employees, which number 25, helped design this building's layout. They have their own chapel, lounge, and kitchenette. The fine-motor operations to large-scale assembly is a team effort. It looks like a wonderful place to work.
Bunn-Minnick has designed and installed about 100 organs from the ground up, restored many others, and services and repairs about 500. The busiest time for tuning is just before Christmas and Easter. They restored the organ in the Ohio Theatre. Another great feather in their cap is the restoration of the organ of the Viz-caya Museum in Miami, Florida, James Deering's former home (with McCormick-International Harvester Co.). The organ is the "newest antique in the building" - the carpet was woven for Christopher Colum-bus's grandfather. No Pope or President or Queen has been allowed to walk on it - but Philip Minnick could, to tune the organ.
The big splash came for Bunn-Minnick in 1987, when Pope John Paul II visited the Cathedral of St. Mary in Miami. At this time Bunn-Minnick was completing an organ of three consoles for the cathedral. The place was packed with newspersons before the visit, who chose to focus on the organ, Robert Bunn and Philip Minnick. They appeared on CNN and Mr. Minnick was quoted in USA Today. Also, Mr. Minnick was the only person allowed by the intense security force to move during the Pope's stay in the cathedral, in case the organ needed adjustment. Everyone else had to stay in their seats.
This media attention brought Bunn-Minnick many jobs in Florida. Formerly they had worked mainly in Ohio and adjoining states.
The tour of Bunn-Minnick gives a complete overview of the intricate engineering of a pipe organ - incidentally, some of the pipes are made of wood, not metal - how the airtight channels send air pumping through flue pipes or reed pipes (all shapes to accentuate harmonics). In the 1920s theatre organs took over from orchestras. The various instru-ments are simulated, of course, and organs tend to mimic the language of the country in which they reside. The chest (wooden box with holes in which the toe of the pipe rests) is attached to the console, with valves, stops, and keys to alter the sound accordingly. The physical presentation of the organ has as much detail - gold leafing, Dutch metal, hand-painting.
There is a question why such elaborate engineering, art, and subsequent cost should be spent on such organs by theatres and religious organizations - the answer is the sound is so all-encompassing, uplifting, and just plain beautiful that its value to the soul is incomparable. When a Bunn-Minnick organ plays, "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God," we believe it.
Both Mr. Bunn and Mr. Minnick date their interest in pipe organs from their boyhood - Mr. Bunn read a book on the subject and then built one for a science project, Mr. Minnick observed one being installed in his church when he was a junior high school student and learned to tune them (by adjusting the silver collars at the top.) Their enthusiasm and expertise is evident in the glorious sound swirling through their historic building.
Enter K2U, 641 N. High Street, on a Wednesday or a Saturday night, and you will discover one of the Short North's current best assets: the Chad Eby jazz trio.
The line-up is like this: Chad Eby, tenor sax; Chris Haney, stand-up bass; David Weinstock, drummer. They've been playing jazz their entire lives and it shows.
The musicians range in age from 23 to 31. This is young, inspired, insightful stuff. No set pieces. No unnecessary introductions. Just the music, the solos, and the blending.
Mr. Haney also plays with Pharez Whited. Sometimes there will be alternate musicians. Mr. Eby teaches saxophone during the day, then has super energy into the night.
Amelia Earhart and Toulouse-Lautrec beckon you inside from their painted position at the doorway. Behind their backs lies the bandstand. The place cooks.
The jazz (hot or cool) is not designed for you to converse over. The musicians are into it for the music. Incidentally, you eat. You eat well. The sights and smells confuse you: Are we in Paris (look at the murals), New York, L.A.? No, the swell joint is K2U.
The Chad Triad has been there off and on since December. Now they're the main attraction, setting the tone.
It's toney. Starting with the elegant, high-tech bar: people look like they live there. Then into the cozier dining room. Like two different worlds. The murals of famous people and famous painted people surround you - like mirrors; they make the room seem larger than it is.
Chad Eby has been in town for the past two years. Now he's gathered some friends who think like him, presenting a healthy mix of original and standard tunes in an off-beat way. Coming to us via Iowa and Texas, Mr. Eby's main influences are classical and sax players such as Sam Rivers and Joe Henderson.
A trio without a piano is a modern concept. Chad's original tunes come at the end of the night. They'll play three shorter sets or two long ones, depending on the mood. They play from 7:30 to 10:30 on Wednesday, 8:00 to 11:00 on Saturdays. As drummer David Weinstock says, "We play until we're done."
Chad Eby takes a tenor sax solo that makes everyone take note. Waterfalls of sound ebb. People crane their necks to see who's playing. He's Columbus's best kept secret.
I'm excited by the fact that there are no specials for our server, the fantastic Corey, to tell us about. Just the same fabulous food. The bread (salt and pepper focaccia) tickles your throat with flavor. A glass pitcher of water, so inviting, sits on each table. You help yourself. So simple, so elegant.
There's also a plain red wall, warm and Spanish. The trio plays "Blood Count" by Billy Strayhorn. Natural segueys from solos to tripartite endeavor. Syrupy riffs make way for bop.
Large portions arrive. The grilled turkey sandwich's secret ingredient is sun-dired tomato. We eye the pickle; David finally shares it. It's a winner.
Calamari's crunchy. The trio plays "Isfahan" by Wayne Shorter.
David Lehman, Jeffrey Wein-garten, and I are seated by a fireplace - there's stone bricks painted in it, a raven and vase painted on the mantle. At the end of the room is a huge canvas of a man with an angel clutching his scalp. To his left is an open fire, as though he's stoking it with books or brainwaves, a broken bottle at his feet. The band plays "Footprints" and "Serenity" by Joe Henderson. Cupids are winging off the edges of the canvas.
The bottoms of the cupids get rounder as the night wears on. We've got faux marble columns, a black and white harlequin floor, a Caesar salad with chewy parmesan chunks. The salmon and velvety mashed potatoes take you for a Sunday drive in the country they're so smooth. The trio plays "Sing a Song of Songs" by Kenny Garrett.
I could not eat for listening. I was transported. I was dancing on a cliff above the ocean. The white icicle lights lick the musicians' aura. The endings of the tunes are gentle. There's a brief, polite pause between pieces.
I take a break from the table and contemplate this wall grouping: Marat in his tub, expired from looking at his IRS form; the Scarecrow, Blue Boy, Yul Brynner, a moose, and a hirsute dog dressed as a Canadian Mountie. The Rockies tower in the background. The trio plays "Beatrice" by Sam Rivers.
The room was humming harder as Corey brought the crème brûlée with a crackling carmelized top, the world's richest concoction. The overhead fans spin in time to the beat. Friends cheer each time a new person approaches a long full table. Romantics kiss. This is a place for celebration, is K2U. Haunting chromatic slides steam up the room.
A Flourishing Continuity:
Zanerian Penmanship and Zaner-Bloser Publishing
A trim red brick building at 612 North Park Street, looking out on Goodale Park, has some history. It is the former home of the Zaner-Bloser Publishing Company, publisher of The Business Educator magazine and penmanship teaching books.
Ornate pictorial calligraphy, art techniques, business techniques, teaching techniques, and florid but legible handwriting was taught at the Zanerian Art College, or Zanerian College of Penmanship, founded in 1888 by Charles Paxton Zaner. The earliest listings for the business put it at 101 N. High in 1890 and 49 1/2 N. High in 1900, later moving to the Park Street address.
Legible handwriting was essential in the early typewriter-less business offices. The penman or penwoman was the "computer" of the day, writing by hand most of the documents used by business and industry. Special attention was paid to the forming of numerals for the bookkeepers. Here is a partial list of Zanerian techniques and their uses: lettering, engrossing, flourishing, shading, portraits, pen drawing, and wash drawing, for letter headings, letter writing, catalog covers, resolutions, memorials, diplomas, testimonials, album pages, certificates, title pages, Christmas cards, awards, poems, and quotations.
The Zanerian Manual of Alphabets and Engros-sing (first published as Zanerian Alphabets in 1895) contains the work of 34 artists including Zaner and Bloser. It includes these quotations (written in beautiful script, of course): "Persons who make proper use of this book will find it a money maker, and a great inspiration." "If you desire to succeed, you must work intelligently and faithfully. It is worth trying."
Apparently Zaner inspired profound affection from his students. His teaching philosophy was, in summary: Teach, don't coerce; reason, don't argue; encourage, don't flatter; enlighten, don't prejudice.
Zaner was born in Columbia County, Pennsyl-vania in 1864 and died in 1918. He attended Michael's Pen Art Hall in Oberlin, Ohio, where in 1883 he met his future business partner, Elmer Ward Bloser.
For awhile the "Zanerian" had only three students. Bloser rescued the floundering school in 1891. For a period of time the school took fees in barter. Still, the education was excellent. The college expanded and hired more staff.
The school trained students to become illustrators, engravers, and engrossers &endash; this term meaning specialists in the kind of ornamental writing used for diplomas and certificates. The curriculum included psychology, physiology, and English composition. Students who wished to become teachers of penmanship were expected to study the theory of teaching and to write a 10,000 word thesis.
In 1895, the name was changed to Zaner-Bloser, and the publishing began of professional materials about handwriting and illustration. The company also sold handwriting supplies.
Bloser was born on a Pennsylvania farm in 1865 and died in 1929. Bloser designed a pen nib holder, the "Zanerian Oblique Penholder," which the company marketed for years.
One of Bloser's sons, Parker Zaner Bloser, took company leadership from 1929 to 1971. He personally did all the handwriting reproduced in a group of Zaner-Bloser Penmanship teaching books. The year after his death, Zaner-Bloser was purchased by "Highlights for Children."
The company, now at 2200 West 5th Avenue in Columbus, continues the innovation, comprehensive education, and attention to students' needs that characterized the original intentions of Zaner. They publish K-8 educational materials of language arts, spelling, process writing, grammar, critical thinking, supplemental reading, self-esteem and decision-making, and, of course, handwriting. All materials are tested in the classroom for developmental appropriateness before publishing.
Speaking of develpment, the Zaner Method of Arm Movement was a book published in 1904. Psychologists discovered that young children completed manual tasks more easily if allowed to use large arm movements. This started the use of the chalkboard in teaching young children to write.
Remember those cursive writing charts? The Zaner Method of Arm Movement helped to make those standard. The part of the company involved in ornamental writing is now owned by Capitol Engrossing in German Village.
Robert Treece, retiring president of Zaner-Bloser, found me looking at an engrossing book in the company's library. He commented that the need for handwriting lessons was just as great today, especially for doctors writing prescriptions! (Robert Page, senior vice president in charge of the editorial department, will be taking over as president beginning in March.)
Georganna Harvey, product manager, gave me the gift of her time and enthusiasm in an interview. The upbeat ambiance of the workplace was apparent from all persons I encountered.
The building at 612 North Park now houses these four companies: MTC Document Management, Strategic Mortgage Company, Lee Smith and Associates attorneys, and Conrad Phillips and Vutech, advertising.
I recommend looking at some of the Zanerian texts at the Columbus Metropolitan Library or the Ohio Historical Society Library. Here's a flourishing statement to end this article: "Curved is the line of beauty, straight is the path of duty, Follow the latter and thou shall see, The other always following thee." Picture this done in attractive freehand roundhand by C.P. Zaner.
CALL TO ARTISTS: Look for the Art Car Event on April 1 Gallery Hop! Please bring your art car or other decorated moving device to the Garden District. Look for the Fools!
- Ramona's International Drive-In
Getting the Jump on Valentine's Day
Here is a tale of windows, of fishy waters, of expeditions; and we didn't go far from home to experience it. It begins with the pun "Bar and Gill" and ends with our servingperson, who insists he feels like family there, showing me the Italian sailfish he bought for the aquarium.
R. J. Snappers was a surprise. It was an impromptu pre-Valentine party, but we had expectations of a noisy, overcrowded dining experience. On the contrary, even though the restaurant was full, there was little or no music, and I did not hear others' conversations. Our conversation was audible in our booth-oasis. I could see happy diners; I could see brave waitpersons hauling huge loads of silver-topped platters.
A carved stone on the building housing R. J. Snappers announces it was built in 1947 for religious purposes. The only element inside that harks back to those days is a circular window with painted clouds that could be depicting heaven. This, over a mural of an Italian seafront village. Little white lights zigzag overhead. Faux doorways with faux balconies do make you feel you're in that village, also ersatz windows with shutters and pseudo-stone walls. It's all good camouflage.
Behind a soothing lavender-tinted aquarium, the small but well-appointed bar looks out on the street. Smokers are there, but the smoke does not seem to get to us. The bar crowd rises and falls like the tide. At one point it's a four-deep tableau of trendsetters. Earlier and later, just a few habitués.
Our waitperson, James Hardcastle, could not have been more enthusiastic. He acted his way through the specials, chopping the air with hand gestures reminiscent of Marlon Brando in On The Waterfront. He made it sound like he personally cooked all the food. We like him immensely.
Upstairs, in the Portofino Room, a private party was in session. We were invited by Mr. Hardcastle to take a peek at the sealife mural up there, including a whale fluke. I was impressed by the painting and by the "waves" suspended from the ceiling. The waitpersons upstairs seemed as personable as Mr. Hardcastle. The shutters were closed to the dining room; apparently these are open when regular diners occupy the upstairs. We vowed to return and sit in the upstairs corner "Captain's Table" overlooking the street.
Joe and Tina Pursglove accompanied David Lehman and me. We started with drinks that were well-made but took a while to get. In fact, the entire meal took nearly three hours. We appreciated the fact that we were not rushed. We had plenty of time for conversation, for meandering, and for one of our party to smoke. We liked it. However, if you are a person who wants to eat in a hurry, I do not recommend R. J. Snappers. In all other respects, I recommend it highly. (One other note: there was quite a draft from the door. In winter, dress warmly.)
The bread was appropriately similar to what is served on an Italian village table - a plain, sweet, crisp, long roll - upon asking, we found it to be a baguette from La Chatelaine. We were in competition for knife-whisks on the anchovy/parsley/garlic butter. There's a sweet honey butter, too.
The hot hors d'oeuvres platter is a broad sampling, but the coconut fried shrimp fared best. They were well-seared and flavored. The calamari were not crisp, the crab cakes were too salty, and the oysters Rockefeller suffered from too many flavors. The sauce was not distinguished, a sweet-sour variety, with corn relish that was too tomatoey.
The salads were great. The lovely Caesar was zesty and well-presented. The gorgonzola-pine nut with chopped red onion came recommended by our server, and was deservedly so. Mr. Hardcastle was armed with pepper and flourished it. Our auxiliary server made a conscious effort to fill our water-glasses.
Here we'll take a breather to visit the restroom. The black, white, and beige motif, with lovely tiles, was accented by fish/shell touches. The hallway featured some handsome mosaic tile and mirror pieces.
Joe had the paella, redolent of saffron, garlic, and cayenne. He pronounced it chock full of a variety of seafood, chorizo, and chicken. Tina had the vegetable platter, with a portabella as big as a steak, broccoli, zucchini, a risotto cake with marinara sauce. David had yellowfin tuna, a special, with potato and broccoli. Both Tina and David had exaltation over the broccoli. (I got none.) David claimed the tuna was sweet and tender (I tasted it; it was.) Mr. Hardcastle told us that some of the mushrooms are organic, grown by "The Woodsmen" in Marysville, and that by 2003 the Woodsmen will have truffles. Something to look forward to!
In December our thoughts drift to dolls ...
I recently took up a job in a high-end bear and doll store. An alert friend pointed out that we at the doll store were really guardians of the "inner child." I used to joke that I was looking for my "inner adult." Now I was just that, as the facilitator of play.
One of the most fascinating concepts of the new job is "stands." These are metal devices which lend stability to the standing or sitting doll or bear. We could all use one, figuratively, to give ourselves the carriage of a flat-abdomened flamenco dancer.
Second new concept: the men who love dolls and bears. A small but mighty section of the population. Some are gay. Many are not.
What is the fascination for either sex? Small effigies of the human and animal form. Nurturing the baby. Playing high fashion. Soft fur. Buying presents for real children, yes, but more than half are sold to collectors.
Most collectors are women between the ages of 40 and 70. They are most often named Betty, Doris, Pat, or Nancy. Some were deprived of dolls and other playthings as children. Some are reliving the vivid playlife they had. Many, like me, have all the dolls and stuffed animals from their childhood. This, I think, is the secret to being a healthy adult. It's never too late to have a happy childhood.
One sunny Friday afternoon I decided to take a doll and bear tour of the Short North.
At one end of the spectrum we have Yankee Trader, 463 N. High. Here I found Ohio State beanies for $6.00 (pandas, bears and cows with the OSU logo) and stuffed "plush" animals of all sizes and shapes. Best of all are the huge animals, ranging in price from $80 to $110. These include the horse, bear, gorilla, dogs, lioness, leopard, panther, tiger, and unrecognizable bird. The dolls are funky: two versions of Pocahontas ($6.25 and $8), "Billie" and "Soft and Curly" (both $5). I did notice that the mad sign-writer is still alive and well at Y.T. - a politically incorrect "Indian headdress" ($3.75) was labeled "EXTREME INDIAN PEYOTE DIPPED VISION QUEST HEAD GEAR" (to accompany Pochahontas?).
Global Gallery, 682 N. High, has the authentic stuff. For $8.99 are one-of-a-kind dolls made in Ecuador of incredible hand-woven fabric in earth colors. These dolls are made by an artisan group found by members of the Global Gallery board. The sales of goods in the store provide annual subsistence level income for over 110 artisans and their families around the globe, every year. Some of these dolls are holding a baby. They are wood inside and feature woven trim and faces.
Tim Baker of Echoes of Americana, 24 E. Lincoln, showed me a German bisque doll with sleeper eyes, original wig of human hair, and open mouth with teeth. She was tucked away at the turn of the century and never played with. She has four layers of clothes: bloomers, a lace slip, a pink linen underdress, and a lace-trimmed dress. She can be yours for $250. There are various other antique bears and dolls for sale: I saw an Amish doll, a Chenille-bedspread adorned character doll, and a large bear made from a fur coat ($95).
At the Janfrey Gallery, 20 E. Lincoln, I saw "Iyanla," a rag doll with silver jewelry ($35) made by Jessie Carter, an American folk artist with the Kentucky Craft Marketing Program. At Kukala's, 636 N. High, are "Queenie Baby" dolls ($7.99 or collect all six rainbow colors for $41.99). Also I saw a set of four fuzzy bears in rainbow colors for $29.99. There were handsome rainbow-ribboned fleecy oatmeal and golden bears for $6.99 (small) and $16.99 (large).
I really hit bear-and-doll paydirt at appropriately-named Loot, 641 N. High. Angel dolls for $34 and $36; they had intricate sewing and beading. One-of-a-kind rag dolls for $15; doll furniture; various sizes of Anne of Green Gables dolls for $7 - $36. I admired a huge plush St. Bernard ($103). Some of the fanciful animals were by: Cottage Collectibles, Melissa Ann, Heartfelt Collection, Naito Design, Flavia Plush, Mary Meyer, Delton, Crocodile Creek, and North American. Quite an array of styles and designs. I saw a "New World Enterprises" angel for $15. On the mantle were big blonde stuffed elves and a crowned Santa elf.
Our furry friends get dolls, too. At Planet Pet, 988, N. High, you'll find bear, cat, chicken, seal, and bone dolls in lamblike fur for $5.99, stuffed ducks for $14.99, and black-and-white fluffy bones for $7. For $18.99 you can get fancy: for a likeness of our president, the mailman, or the veterinarian.
On a related fanciful topic, the Planet Pet Halloween Parade, held at the Lanning Gallery next door (990 N. High), was again a barking and meowing success! Some of the highlights: a whippet dressed as a Yellow Submarine, owner as Paul the Beatle (undressed, this whippet had luscious furlike marbleized halvah). The Buckyeye Brood, four dogs and their owners in full OSU regalia, one dog with a giant buckeye for a head. Dogs as Pocahontas (complete with turquoise beads) and Jane Wayne, in tandem with respective Indian and cowboy owners. Two cow dogs with owners as a hillbilly panorama of "Ma Flossie, Paw, and Daisy." A judge of the costume contest as "Licker the Lap Dog" with beanie baby tag ("TY one on" - label featuring a sappy poem like real TY tags) and big red tongue attached to her nose - this judge was eminently qualified to judge others' costumes!
A Catholic schoolgirl dog accompanied by a pregnant nun. A non-Scottie dog and owner in Scottish tartans. A dog-owner wearing a T-shirt reading: "You can't scare me - I have children." Other mentionables: a sharpei dressed as a seal (artfully fashioned from a brown towel), dogs as dragonfly, fire chief, and scarecrow. A cat dressed as a bat - the lone, bravest of all brave cats making its third appearance in as many years! A great time was had by all (no fights), with dog or cat goodie bags stuffed with healthy treats going to all participants and onlookers (Fabulous prizes for costumes too!)
Fancy Dan from Plain City postcards: Never underestimate the power of play. Happy Dolly-Days.
The Ben Hayes MEMORIAL WALKING TOUR #2
The Short North was a flood plain for the Olentangy, with a solid bed of limestone underneath. Shale clung to banks. Lateral valleys would spread natura1ly. The Columbus esker is a little ridge with an accompanying sand plain, nearly obliterated by street excavations and building and grading.
Before the terrain returns to the glacial, I propose another walking tour down the historical path. Once men got hold of the land through land grants, there was no stopping the flood of ideas and designs in the way of building. This is sti1l true today, as the Short North is being reshaped on both ends, from the Garden District to the Arena District.
A true treasure of architecture and art, with one root in the past and one in the present, is the former North High Schoo1, now known as Everett Middle School. The handsomely restored buff and red brick building has a curved brick walkway leading to the Apollo Place (at Fourth Avenue) entrance.
A valiant gargoyle (a flag standard) hangs halfway up one exterior corner. Intriguing are the black-globe standards in front of the main entrance, and carved-wood birds, grapes, and leaves over the front door. A romantic balcony hangs over the west entrance. The original roofline can be seen on the west facade, but most noticeable from High Street now are the arched windows on one of the newer sect ions.
Open in 1898 as North High, with an annex built in 1903, the building became Everett Junior High in 1925. Another section was added in the 1970s. Now it is a labyrinthine series of levels (four) that houses the only Arts Impact Middle School in Columbus.
Subjects are taught here through the integration of arts and academics by dedicated team-teachers. The gym is devoted to the dance. A mural depicting the feeling of Louis Armstrong's "What A Wonderful World" blooms on the stairwell wall backing the mock-Moorish main entrance, a project orchestrated by teacher Bonnie Shiplet. The lushness of collective creativity adorning the halls contrasts with the black and white photos of prior athletic teams, hung there in precision.
Most likely you'll be walking around outside, so do note there the large wooden abstract sculptures, modern totems, a metal four-legged creature, and a blue tower. The school has Doctors Hospital, Hunter Pool, and Thompson Recreation Center as neighbors.
Turn down Apollo to Third, jog right to Dennison, continue to First Avenue, then turn left. At the corner of Park and First you'll find the offices of Daniel Cline and Associates, architects who purchased the building in 1994 from the Second Church of Christ, Scientist. Built in 1914 of limestone blocks, the structure features stained glass in a radiant golden color, which lends the interior a positive feel. Replacing pews and organ pipes are pristine work stations. A robust maiden looms largely where the podium once stood. Walking outside, note the handsome columns and starry doors. Along with the school, this building epitomizes the architecture of the past, updated to serve and shine in the Short North.
Continue along First to High Street, searching out the remnants of history. The Short North has been made and re-made many times. Now it is being re-invented in its own image: the "retail wall" of the 1890s through the 1950s, after falling into misuse and disrepair, is returning, perhaps in a more artistic vein.
The transportation center of Union Station and streetcars might return as the "multi-modal transit terminal" (buses/taxi/rail). The railroad hotels of the past are being reborn in a new hotel (with facade of the past) and bed and breakfasts. Architecture and neighborhood function is being saved.
A LOOK BACK . . .
Buckeye Buggy Company (originally the Tuller Buggy Co.) 482 N. High Street, thriving in 1910, was replaced by a gas station at 478 N. High in 1920.
The almighty automobile replaced and displaced many businesses. North High was the auto dealership strip starting in the 20s and 30s. Masters Family Practice at 777 N. High, 772 N. High (housing many businesses now, like L'Antibes and ACE Gallery), AAA Rentals at 830 N. High, and the Kroger store at King and High were all car dealerships. At First and High was a Tucker distributor who received one automobile before the Tucker company went bankrupt.
The building now housing Haiku at 800 North High was the terminal for the Brewster Bus Co. (charter) and for Trailways, too, for a time. This kind of activity stopped at the site in the 1980s.
Hotels: A successful transfer of use of a structure is the Functional Furnishings store at 601 N. High, formerly the Square Deal Auction House, which liquidated estates. It housed a number of stores before that, each "bay" representing a different business. The upper floors were a railroad hotel.
Retail Service: Simon's Department Store, Capital Clothing Co., the Midland Grocery Co. building at 405 - 413 N. High, to name just a few of the thousands of such businesses in the area over the years. The oldest continuous businesses in the Short North are Fireproof Storage and United Commercial Travelers. Fireproof started as a moving and storage company in 1906, and now stores records, files, and microfilm. It was once designated an air raid shelter when nuclear attack seemed imminent.
Fraternal: United Commercial Travelers is both a fraternal lodge and an insurer. It has been in business since 1903. The Oddfellows and Masons both have historic buildings on High Street. The American Legion Hall on W. Second Avenue was purchased from the O'Shaughnessy family in the 1950s.
Fire: Engine House #4 at 479 N. High Street (also called Flowers house) was later the home of Evans and Schwartz Shoe Store. It was a fire station from 1874 to 1940. Engine House #9 at Buttles and Delaware existed 1892-1960.
Medical: At Buttles and High was a pharmacy that supported. the many hospitals and medical offices in the nearby area. (Note: in last month's walking tour, the word "today" appeared in conjunction with White Cross, Protestant, Women's, and McKinley's Hospitals, and Ohio Medical College. They do not exist today, by Goodale Park or anywhere else.) Lyman Cox, the first African-American phar-macist in Ohio, had the Modern Pharmacy at Harrison and Goodale.
Entertainment: The new hockey arena is following the tradition of an arena in the area: the Arena Airdome existed 1911-1913 at 364 W. Goodale, then became the Goodale Airdome. Later there was Haft's. The Savoia Theatre was once at 649 Delaware. The original Jai Lai Restaurant was at Goodale and High.
The Arch City (Columbus) got its name from the two miles of electrically lit arches over High Street starting at Union Station (the railroad depot formerly on the site of the Convention Center) and extending south. The arches were removed in 1911 and auctioned in 1912. Now an arch will rise again. To see Union Station as it was, stop and look at the mural on the side of Utrecht Art Supply, 612 N. High.
Can you hear those steam locomotives (and later, streamlined ones, throbbing through the heart of the Short North? Maybe we'll hear that sound again, and see that architecture. They're talking about the freeway retail "cap" to be designed in the image of the Union Station Colonnade.
Thanks to my late father, Ben Hayes, for all the info (his files are at the Ohio Historical Society Library), also the Columbus Metropolitan Library, the Victorian Village Society, Cleve Ricksecker, and Bonnie Shiplet.
The Ben Hayes SHORT NORTH WALKING TOUR
The Short North has historically been the heart of Columbus transportation. Passenger trains came through the state-of-the-art building known as the Union Station. People came to Merkle's Union Station Restaurant for midnight supper after the opera. The corner of Goodale and High had tunnels, bridges, overpasses &endash; but all different from today. It was the main transfer point for streetcars. Of course, before that, horses, mules, and buggies carried the cargo and passengers (Columbus was known as the Buggy Capital of the World, since many were made here.) The Short North held the most densely packed neighborhood in town. Here's a walking tour to see how and where all this happened, and some (few) remaining architectural wonders. Wear some comfortable shoes, tuck a Short North Gazette in your pocket for the map and as a reference guide - and enjoy!
1. UNION STATION ARCH:
Nationwide Boulevard between Marconi and West Street.
Union Station was the third railroad station built on its site. Standing in front of its arch (all that's left) on Nationwide Boulevard, I ran through many emotions: (1) a thrill with the beauty of its style and backlit tawny color, its perfect framing of the Leveque-Lincoln Tower and the AEP Building; (2) a pang of grief that it could not be saved in its entirety, or a goodly portion used in the Convention Center (now occupying its site) (3) awe and gratefulness for the work done by the individuals who saved the arch (a long and tedious process) and moved it to this site in the middle of a future parking lot. The hockey arena looms nearby. No more marked contrast could exist between the two structures. (One hopes the saved part of the Old Pen reappears as well.) The station was built in 1898 and razed in 1977.
Move in upon the Arena, up Nationwide to Front. (Front is labeled Park Street on the map, as it will turn into Park in a matter of blocks.) Turn left around the Ohio Moline Plow Co., 343 Front Street, at Naghten, continue on Front/Park to Goodale (Don't forget to stop at the North Market for a bit to eat or drink, or Strada, Tapatio, Benevolence.) Turn right at Goodale and Park to the Greek Orthodox Cathedral.
2. GREEK ORTHODOX CATHEDRAL:
555 North High Street at Goodale
The original, built in 1922, is still part of the complex abutting the new cathedral. This newly completed version has masterful tilework, woodwork, and stonework, and crisp, clean open space for concerts in its auditorium and the annual Labor Day Weekend festival. Look across High Street and you'll see the former location of Union Station. Look across 670 to the north for the once-location of the invention of the banana split: Aunt Lettie Lally, in the year 1904, at Foeller's, 567 N. High. Now turn west on Goodale, cross the street and walk alongside and into the park.
3. GOODALE PARK:
Bounded by Goodale Avenue. Dennison Avenue., Buttles Avenue, and Park Street.
Goodale Park was donated to the public by Dr. Lincoln Goodale in 1851. You'll see his bust nearby. The east side of the park has a medical history. Park Street institutions, in the past included White Cross Hospital, Protestant Hospital, Ohio Medical College, Women's Hospital, and McKinley's Hospital, most of their brick facades finding reflection on the surface of the lagoon of Goodale Park. A dramatic mirroring today, the hospitals, standing between retail and relaxation.
For forty-six days in 1861, the park was a military encampment known as Camp Jackson for the mustering of troops out on the railroads. The new soldiers used all the trees and fencing for campfires.. After that, many improvements were made: two large lakes (the one remaining is half the size of the original), two boathouses, drives, dining areas, a stable, a landscaped terrace, a stage. The caretaker's residence in the center of the park, a lovely structure, was built in 1912. Later, baseball, basketball, tennis courts, and a playground were installed where the drives and lakes were once located. The Friends of Goodale Park have restored some plantings and built the gazebo by the lake. The annual ComFest in June and the DooDah Parade in July use the park as a base. A different kind of mustering nowadays, marching to a different drummer, one with a good beat you can dance to.
As you explore the park and then return to Goodale Street, look to your left at the cars racing down 670. Part of this space was once bustling in quite another fashion: It was Flytown.
Mostly from Goodale Park to the river and Goodale St. north to Third Avenue.
Flytown was so-called because the buildings "flew up" to accommodate the 17 different nationalities and races who were packed into the small area, a port of entry to central Ohio for countless immigrants. It flourished roughly from 1860 to 1930. By 1956, it was a slum, later razed and displaced by the freeway and the Thurber Village project completed in 1967. But in its heyday it housed factory workers in dense rental property. Many families lived above or in the rear of their establishments. An estimated 200 families lived between High and Park on West Goodale. Some establishments that existed there: the Park (later Goodale) Hotel, the Columbus Savings Bank, the Budd House (another hotel), doctors, dentists, insurance men, lawyers, tailors, saloon keepers, billiard parlors, clothing stores, restaurants, fruit stands, bakeries, barbers, boarding houses, grocers, steamship agents, the Adorno and Warner Columbus Macaroni Manufacturing Co., the Arena Airdome, the Goodale Airdome, later Haft's Acre for wrestling. All gone except the Godman Guild, now at 321 W. 2nd, which saved many from becoming convicts. The first settlement house in Columbus, it held dances, sponsored camping, basketball, a preschool, baby clinic, and counseling. Many colorful and successful people came out of Flytown. Say a good-bye to Flytown at Neil and Goodale, Turn right on Neil, continue to Buttles and turn left. you'll find the St. Francis of Assisi church.
5. ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI CHURCH:
386 Buttles Avenue
Built in 1896, it features a 100-foot dome and pressed tin ceilings. As the patron saint of all creatures big and small, the good Saint watches over the flora and fauna of Goodale Park. Head north on Harrison one block, turn right on Hubbard. Turn right on Dennison to the edge of the park. You'll find the Peter Sells House.
6. PETER SELLS HOUSE:
755 Dennison Avenue, Corner of Buttles
Peter Sells was one of four brothers who created one of America's greatest circus empires. Winter quarters were always in Columbus. That location, just west of the Olentangy River and north of Fifth Avenue, housed 50 workers and countless animals, many railroad cars, harness and wagon shops. Peter lived in much more comfort in his mansion on Dennison. He lived there a short time, however, only from the 1890's to 1904.
Go north on Dennison to Hubbard (it jogs a little on its west-east course). Turn right on Hubbard to High. On your left will be the Greystone Court Apartments.
7. GREYSTONE COURT APARTMENTS:
815 North High Street
Started by Lincoln Fritter in 1902, it was to be the finest and most imposing building in town, built of Indiana limestone. Fritter went broke; the structure sat windowless and empty until 1921. Then work resumed. When it opened, it was finished in grand style complete with refrigeration. However, not long after the two facades had to be sliced off and inched back to allow for the widening of High Street. It was an engineering miracle for the time. The Greystone is on permanent "inhale." However, the tenants say it a great place to live.
Now enjoy a stroll down High Street, partaking of the many shops, galleries, and food establishments along the way and on the many side streets. We'll have more about the histories of these buildings in a future walking tour.
But do stop and look at the mural on the side of the building at 612 North High. It's the complete front view of the former Union Station! Put yourself in the painting and hear those steam locomotives (and later more streamlined ones) throbbing through the heart of the Short North.
Hot Time at the Doo Dah: money, Sweat, and Beer
We had Wonder Bread Woman in the Road Rage Combat Brigade: a Mazda Miata with skulls, steerhorns, heads both reptilian and human. Five former Miss Americas (Miss Led, Miss Fortune, Miss Behave, Miss Fit, and Miss Used) rode with Elvis. They informed us that three dated Elvis and two dated each other. Fred and Howard, last year's not-so-grand marshals, waited like pleased Buddhas under a huge furry pink flamingo, last year's nose-picking portrait on the front of their Cushman. Another vehicle sported signs SHORT NORTH MOVE TO EASTON, DRIVE THROUGH GALLERY HOP, CHEAPER ZIMA AT THE WEXCALIBER CLUB. A Volkswagen bug, white with stars and blue net wings, welcomed the Blue Jackets to Columbus: FROM MAD COWS TO FICTITIOUS HORNETS.
This year's DooDah Virgin (for it is the DooDah Parade I've been describing) was a giant green dinosaur. She had shiny streamers, crepe paper, and a Hawaiian lei attesting to her femininity. The Bone Mobile was orange and black and Halloweenesque, with sweaty half-naked painted people. The Castro Crew smoked up the street. The Y2K Bug group asked, IS YOUR TOASTER READY?
Individuals: conehead on bike, Groucho in khaki shorts and pith helmet, a harmonica player in a huge foam hat with a sign on wheels DO YOU DOO-DAH? A duo: on a bicycle built for two, the PROTECT THE UNCONCEIVED/ LADIES AGAINST WOMEN. They took a cigarette break on Neil Avenue, able to weave in and out of the action.
It is quite different to be a participant in the DooDah Parade (this year) than an observer (last year). In my own way, I hope I advanced the cause of DooDah (whatever that might be) in the Turkey Toyota. Two columns ago I was nervously waiting for it to be shipped from California; now my decorated vehicle has "come home" to Columbus. Perhaps better viewed up close than in a parade, it still garnered a hot photo by Eric Albrecht on the front page of the Dispatch Metro section, the caption with my art alias, "Ramona Moon."
I've been in many parades, but to this I'll attest: that was the longest, slowest, and hottest parade I've ever been in. I was behind the "Oddi for Mayor" group, who played good, loud music (most notably, "Money") while throwing a year's supply of Yankee Trader play money in the air. The breeze lifted it fetchingly on High Street (thank God for that bit of breeze!). The man playing Oddi, in orange jail jumpsuit, assured me the soap around his neck wasn't for washing away his sins. (It was for holding on to the soap.) "Hey-what's a few bucks between friends?" was a constant remark on their P.A. System.
What they didn't have in variations on the Oddi theme, they made up for in energy and volume. They stuffed some play money down my bosom, which I wore throughout the parade. I exchanged some for candy with spectator children along the parade route, thereby showing true American capitalist spirit.
The Dispatch article made much of the theory that DooDah was dying, or at least acquiescing. Perhaps the backing-off from complete anarchy (squirt guns, water balloons, hoses) has made it go too far the other way. It's too docile. Some middle ground must be found. Throwing money in the air is a start, and art cars spoofing the American vehicular sacred cow. And as far as Parade viewers wearing Lands' End and Nike instead of spiked hair - I saw lots of tie-dye, whole families of it, and besides, it's not what you wear, it's what your mind is like (DooDah, DooDah).
The tie-dye families behaved better than most. Some straight and sticky parade-watchers in front of the Greystone accosted my car, saying, "Do something! Get out of your car!"- more aggressive than any parade-watchers I'd ever seen. As it was, I was squirted with water once, crazy-stringed once, a beer can put on top (by a man), a condom put on top (by a woman). Got off pretty easy.
The Gay Pride/Garden District Band marched to its own drummer. . . They met the parade half-way and went in the opposite direction, infiltrating the rank and file (or rather, the rank and rank).
At the end, in Goodale Park, I had the pleasure of meeting John the Bike Wizard, who carries his decorated bikes (six) up several stories (five) to keep them safe and splendid.
Many drifted off to the Short North Tavern for libations. I received a giant police badge from the Oddi group. The real police guiding the parade and crowd were all smiling. Do. Dah. Dude.
(From the July 1999 Issue)
The Wild, Wild World of Riccardo Davenport
To enter a seemingly innocent square brick building on Oak Street, hostas lining the steps, large windows upstairs, is to step through the looking-glass. For on the other side of the door is a whimsical world of color and design. This is the world of Davenport and Associates.
Riccardo Davenport redesigns interiors for businesses. He finds the perfect fit of artwork and function, to improve morale and motivation. He inserts the "humanizing element" into the lives of worker drones. Large slabs of color (in Mr. Davenport's own Art Deco-influenced painting) and works of artists brighten the day above desk and cubicle.
Mr. Davenport represents a slew of multi-cultural artists. Their artwork and products of his own current passion, photography, fill up every square inch of wall (and some table) space of his three-story house. He kindly invited me there on a sunny afternoon to view his perpetual "show."
It is hard to get past the threshold. The view up the stairway has a barrage of photo-realism, photographs, surrealism, leading up to a huge "Ghana Queen Door," by LaVerne Brown, the carved panels representing the stages of a woman's life.
Also lining the entryway are Mr. Davenport's collection of briefcases, representing the phases of his life. Riccardo admits he has two personalities, the artist and the businessman. (His father was a draftsman, working for the TVA, and his mother an interior designer.) He has a degree in marketing. After college (in Dayton and Wilberforce, which brought him away from his native Chattanooga), he joined the firm of Rohr Flexible in the state of Delaware as marketing manager of research. After a stint in Cleveland, during which he "dabbled" in painting, Mr. Davenport came to Columbus, which "brought out the artist in me." Thus, the series of briefcases now houses his photography rather than corporate files.
Not only are we able to enjoy the fruits of Mr. Davenport's search for fine artists to show and place (more details about them later), but we are also able to enjoy the findings of his trained eye at First Night Columbus on the cusp of the Millennium. He has been "the Sleuth of the Short North," stirring up and recruiting artists, both visual and performing, to brighten our New Year's festivities downtown, for which he has the title of "Visual Coordinator." This is a large job, as the celebration will spread over a "mile radius." He says there will be "no holds barred," with promises of painted bodies, jugglers, ice sculptures, and art in store windows.
Gesticulating and pacing in front of his own large windows in his aerie/ studio/office overlooking a fine brick building across the street housing the restoration of specialty cars (we have made it up the stairs), Mr. Davenport, dressed in a purple jogging suit painted in golden swirls and moons, looks every inch the artist/entrepreneur. He is a habitué of the Short North Tavern and former executive director of the Ace Gallery in the Short North. The light streaming through the windows and the light in his eyes match the title of First Night: "Share the Light, Ignite the Spirit."
One can tell Mr. Davenport does lectures on careers in art (with slide presentations and handouts). He warms to his subject. The list of artists he represents is a long one: Ray Winburn, Samuel Thais, Michael Bridges, M.J. Jennings (formerly of M.J. Originals in the Short North), Steve Faruka, Shonda Craig (wonderful ceramic woman vessels), Joe Howard, Skip Staten, Gustavo Luis Salazar (Tali), ARAAMAN, Mary Lu Jackson, Deborah Beethan, Anna Sabrima, and Kar-Jee. (I'm sure this is not all.) Their works range from Mayan-like etchings on gypsum and slate, to nudes, to still life, to photographs (family portraits, a waterfall poised in midair), also Hassan Amdur-Hazzaq's geometric "The Measure of Time." Mr. Davenport provides exposure for these artists at rotating shows at: Broad Street Bagels and Deli, Anna's Express, the Workers Bureau of Compensation, and Snaps and Taps. He has a future venture to exhibit his artists at City Hall.
In 1996 Mr. Davenport exhibited his Art Deco nudes, by invitation, at the Primer Salon de Fotografia del Cuerpo Humano in Havana, Cuba. The gallery acquired a Davenport Photograph for its permanent collection.
If you are interested in visiting this worldly and talented art agent and dealer, please call him at 621-1643.
One of the original gay businesses just changed hands. It is not a "venue long gone" as reported in last month's column. My apologies to former owner Brenda Duncan and new owner Jim Crisswell. Kukala's celebrated the store's 7th anniversary on June 26, in the heart of the annual Pride Holiday Weekend. The inside of the store was recently expanded. It's now an airy, colorful space featuring cards, novelties, T-shirts, gifts, rainbow windsocks and banners, a tanning salon, totally cool things and a cooler featuring cool things to drink. Bob was working behind the counter and was enthusiastic about the store and its future. "We've never been bothered by anyone for any reason," he said. "It's just getting stronger."
(From the June 1999 issue)
Mill Valley, CA - The redwoods surrounding the house are soughing in the constant cold wind blowing off the offshore fog. The stream below throws a constant murmur up to my ears. It's plainly blue and green outside, but little warmth gets here except the brief midday
sun on the deck.
Things I like: the 71 steps up the hill (actually a tamed cliff) to the house, providing good exercise several times daily. The odd cut of friends' stylish clothes. I'm surprising people who haven't seen me for a year.
I'm "baby-sitting" my friends' 14-year-old (how do you baby-sit a boy that old?) while they're out of town. I feel so far from the Short North. And yet, trendy downtown Mill Valley (20 minutes from San Francisco, if there's not too much traffic) is quite easily compared to the style-setting Short North. They both have vastly fascinating restaurants, galleries, delis, coffee spots, bookstores, bakeries, shoe and clothing stores. But the surroundings are vastly different.
Many of Mill Valley's homes perch on mountains. Things I don't like: narrow roads with steep drop-offs (some roads, like across the street, have redwood trees in the roadway), also the amount of traffic on the nearby freeway. I've got to get out in it to get this large sweet child to school. In my former life here, I could get to work without going near it.
Columbus freeways are getting nearly as bad sometimes. I use High Street as my main thoroughfare, also its parallels.
I'm waiting for a car carrier man to call, to tell me it's time to ship my art cars to Columbus. I jump every time the phone rings. If this car shipping comes through, I'll be winding up the third and last phase of my movement eastward, my return home. I will be really happy when this is accomplished.
Meanwhile, I'm here sittin' on a fence. You can say I've got no sense. I should be home, protecting my newly-planted impatiens and salvia from locusts. Or walking through Goodale Park, reading the Short North Gazette in a coffee place, plotting my Doo-Dah spoof.
What I am plotting, tucked away here near the edge of the continent, is a "Walking Tour of the Short North." I'm re-reading my father (Ben Hayes)'s historical columns in old Short North Gazettes. Incidentally, I'm finding mentions of venues long gone (and still missed): Mothra, Ritchey's, Lollapa-looza, Kukala's, The Light Show, Major Chord, Moda Verite, Augie's, Gaia's Dreams, Prophet's (all on High St.). Galleries by the handsful have come and gone. Nonni's, the peasant new-wave approach to dining, was tucked away on W. 3rd, a little world of swirling color and good food. We've lost Matreoshka, the Russian Tea Room. The Short North Tavern moved.
The evolution of a neighborhood: all documented in the SNG. Fortunately, this publication has grown and changed with its constituency. Just how much the area has changed, over a long period of time, will be the topic of the walking tour.
We'll try to get fancy and go way back and find out what the geography was like before men and women came to make their mark. First animals? First trees? First birds?
Fast-forward to first buildings. Then, we'll build up to major landmarks: the Park Hotel (later Goodale Hotel), Fat Sam's, I.O.O.F. Temple, Haft's Acre, Cronin's Corner (later Mellman's), all on Goodale before the wrecker's ball ended their existence.
The Sells Brothers Circus had a lot on E. Russell St., and two brothers, Ephraim and Peter, had houses in the Short North. The old Weisheimer Mill (still standing) on King Ave. and the River Road was another circus site: winter quarters. The animals were kept on what is now an empty lot on 5th Ave. in Grandview. Minstrelman Al G. Field also had a home in the Short North.
Streetcars! There was quite a hub at Goodale and High, and a line came up through the Short North, turned over to the fairgrounds at Chittenden. At one time there were many tunnels and overpasses near Union Station, allowing trains to avoid hitting horse-drawn carriages and streetcars. This made quite a mishmash of the area. We'll look at the history of Goodale Park, the Greystone, schools, firehouses, the fabulous history of Flytown and Frog Heaven.
The sun's fading behind the fog. I'm itching to get back to my roots, the firefly-laden hot night air. But first, that phone call. One more of the crazed-Hayes mania (most everyone in this family has one, from Woody to Gabby) returns to Columbus!
(From the May 1999 Issue)
May Meanderings: Spring Sunset in Goodale Park
A House Finch paused in lofty branches to warble sweetly over tennis players, soccer teams, joggers, in-line skaters, the dog people, couples nuzzling by the lake. I stared at the staid brick townhouses' shimmering reflection in the water, neon green trees licking at the red edges. Pink schist, stratified in gray, surrounded the lake, alternating with speckled granite, quartz-shiny boulders.
Weeping cherry dipped above black wrought-iron scrollwork benches and the daffodils' bright heads. Mallards dozed on the rocks in the lake's center. I observed white and purple miniature hyacinth lining the circumambulating path, some hosta, then little blue starry asters in the grass. Church bells mingled with the melodic finch.
The other side of the lake, now: trees poking downward, the gazebo sitting in two dimensions. Can we get someone to skim the sleaze off the surface of the lake? A Doberman won't sit still for a photo with his owner. A fuchsia-panted young girl with an orange-sherbet shirt danced by, followed by a chartreuse-parka'd toddler with his father flying a Batman and Robin kite.
I watched a couple sharing a Styrofoam-encased dinner in the gazebo, talking earnestly in the rosy light. A huge birch with catkins loomed above me. There were violets in the grass too, near Christmas tree row, seeming anachronistic in spring. Cardinals "cheered" a suited man (with red tie), walking a dog and talking on his cell phone.
Mourning doves called over the gray colonnaded United Commercial Travelers Building at 632 N. Park. I counted seven columns per rectangle. Next door, the office building at 612 looked pristine in its white brick trim. The buildings intrigued me in their after-hours emptiness. Amid the smell of wild onions I walked by stone picnic tables with wood and stone benches. I saw great sticks on the ground, ready and waiting to be fetched.
There was the green-faced bust of Lincoln Goodale with pursed lips over a happy raft of mostly butter-colored tulips. Such color! I turned to see a matching dayglo coat and bicycle with training wheels belonging to a gamine-faced dark-haired young girl with gold ball earrings. She was accompanied by her parents, in more darkly-hued attire.
I looked through the trees to magnificent downtown views. Sunset light was bouncing off corrugated white slabs and red cranes poised in inaction over the erector-set Blue Jacket stadium girders. My attention was diverted by shrieking toddlers at the playground, their parents eating their ice cream for them. A bumble bee hustled by.
The columned shelter house in taffy and red sienna brick, with its many-faceted roof seemed a throwback to a former era. At its north and south ends are stage-like configurations, where a child could dance for her parents in sheer joy on a warm summer's night. Very tiny green sprouts were coming out of the dirt in the icing-white urn at the building's north end, guarded by the black, circular wrought-iron fence. The urn also contained, inexplicably, a pair of neatly rolled-up socks.
Virginia bluebells were growing in the fenced circle. Their periwinkle and magenta blooms were noteworthy. Near them, on the grass, my initials were painted in spray-painted orange. A sign? Panting children raced by, accompanied by women with long, straight blonde and brunette hair.
The magnolia grove, in the center of the park, had keenly-felt color and that sweet, sweet smell. The pink variegated from shell to mauve. The white was waxen albino chocolate, almost edible in its succulence.
I approached my car much rejuvenated. Thank you, Lincoln Goodale, for your gift to the Short North, (he of the green face).
Speaking of cars, I have done some research on valets. I've found that the parent companies demand a clean driving record, and do a background check. (If you can make it as a valet, maybe you can make it as a politician.) The valets have some options in the hours they work. Their salaries can vary according to their tips. They are trained in a five-day workshop, in which they have home-work. (I can imagine writing out parking diagrams like football plays). And, oh yes, they need to know how to drive a stick shift!
Have you been to Rupert's? They have a menu-of-the week, so I cannot tell you exactly what will crop up when you visit, but I had some spicy Asian noodles with veggies and peanut sauce, so crowded with baby corn (yum) that I went to my own mini field of dreams (dinner dreams). They are right next to Haiku at 800 N. High. Try the garlic hummus too. I also saw little buckets and shovels that turn into desserts when you use the mix inside the bucket. There's a garage attached to the building that will become an arena for classes and demonstrations by outstanding chefs. This will be in the future. But for now, go grab some good food.
Hope you all had an outstanding Easter/spring holiday. Several of my friends had traumatic stories to tell, from a burnt ham to getting locked inside a storage locker(!). They were mad when I said I had a mellow day. I observed my Aunt Pearl Archer's extensive egg collection, and had the traditional tri-color bread (pink, blue, and yellow) during dinner at the Shurig Cuisine Palace (next door).
I was a tri-cat household until my son, Lucian Moon, left his cat, Ganesh, with me and moved to Philadelphia. So, from the quartet of Ganesh the cat, also Minty, Tiger Woods, and Halo, here's a poem for Sam the Cat, Short North Gazette's poetry editor, (composed after seeing an abandoned tire on the beach in Santa Cruz, CA):
Tired retired tire.
Entirely too tiresome.
In the play, "Love, Janis" I learned that Janis Joplin had a dog named Thurber.
(From the April 1999 Issue)
The Sand Candle workshop/party at Craftview - ODC's participatory wing
(Ohio Designer Craftsmen Enterprises, 1665 W. 5th Avenue, Grandview) took place February 25. A small sand dune was erected in the snowy terrain out front by the inimitable Greg Phelps. Guests took a large, pristine popcorn tub out to the dune, gathered their own sand, and returned to the "candle factory." There they created a shape in the sand, suspended a wick, and had hot wax poured into the impression. It was optional to return to the candle as the wax set up, to adorn with sparkly and nubby things. Entire tubs were taken home by the participants, by pleased guests who had not only a candle, but sand. What uses could this sand have? Garden fill, litter box enhancement, mini-dunes, maybe more candle-making at home.
Tropical drinks (with umbrellas, of course) were imbibed to reggae music. The candle holder exhibit filled the eye with creative ideas. Munchies galore for grazing. Don't miss the next Craftview: April 29. John Matz, stained-glass wizard, will venture to Grandview from Amesville, a hotbed of art in a small town. We hear that he used to own an art car, a rainbow bus. He will lead the lucky attendees in a stained-glass workshop. Also at the event, guests will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite in the "Best of '99" Show. Call 486-4402 for details.
At Zona Corazon, 1198 N. High, you'll find more of those sideshow paintings (to add to the two other locations, Little Brother's, 1100 N. High St., and Curio-a-Go-Go, 17 Buttles Ave). Curioser and curioser. The Zona also has tin hearts, love potions, and spangled Santeria banners. Christina Ramona says check it out.
Valentine's Night at Rigsby's: There were a lot of ties worn (by men). No piano music was played. It was quiet, but that was good. I had Promiscuous Prawns -- they melted in the mouth. David, had swordfish which played well on his palate. I ate both gold leaf and pansies in the dessert course. All in all, a successful Valentine's Night in the Short North.
Doral Chenoweth has advised me to use full names: first names, last names, not poetic references to phantom companions (see above). Therefore, let me identify my cooking neighbor as Mike Shurig, also known as the Civil War Guy. He does presentations to students about the Civil War. You can reach him at 436-4902. (But Doral, what about those "Mrs. Chenoweths-du-jour?")
Big Brother is Watching You: In the March column, I made a reference to Sam Andrew of Big Brother and the Holding Company (a San Francisco band). To my delight, there he was in Cleveland on March 7, at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's "Remembering Janis Joplin" symposium, and at the Cleveland Playhouse, where the musical Love, Janis is playing through April 4. Sam is the music director of Love, Janis - a combination of nineteen of Joplin's songs (performed as she performed them, by a singer) and her letters home (performed by a second actress). Sam looks great, still has long hair, and says he is performing most often these days in Japan. The music in Love, Janis is remarkably terrific, and I make apologies for any remarks I made in last month's column.
Also at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was Chet Helms, an old friend. He started the Family Dog and the Avalon Ballroom in the '60s in San Francisco. They say if you remember the '60s, you weren't there, but Chet has an excellent memory, and he was definitely there. Astute were his recollections of Janis and his commentary on the implications of what happened then for what happens now. Chet is now an art dealer. Laura Joplin, Janis's sister, was also there: look for her book, titled, Love, Janis.
Broaching the subject: Also in last month's column, there was a reference to a "broaching" whale. This was a misprint. The term is a "breaching" whale: a whale leaping from the water. There are various theories why a whale does this. The most plausible: that it feels good to the whale.
Tip: ask for the ornathaglum at Leaves of Grass, 743 N. High. It keeps blooming for a month.
A delicate mind and a dangerous nature: I wonder what valets think about while driving around the Short North? Do they think about arches over the street? If "the cap" will take away parking places? Do they get colds in the winter and heat stroke in the summer? How much do they get paid and how much in tips? Watch this column for future interviews with valets (after tax time - we don't want to be too revealing).
A Wolf In the Kitchen . . . And a Wolf At the Pub
We're sitting in the bake shop of the kitchen at the Hyatt on Capitol Square. I see well-used loaf pans, a roll-making machine, and cookies in Tupperware. Topping this utilitarian display, however, are faux columns and ferns, gold lamé drapings, and candles, candles everywhere. The element of danger (there's a basin behind me with a sign, "No Tocar") in the dim light heightens the senses. There's an enveloping smell of butter, wine, and meat essence. Surreal, high-pitched sounds make me feel I'm in the bowels of the Titanic.
Japanese screens enclose the table. An ice sculpture (forming "Hyatt 15" melts away before our eyes. We are 15 food writers at Chef C. David Wolf's behest in the Hyatt kitchen.
What's up with the 15? It's the Plaza Restaurant's 15th anniversary, and we're here to sample a reprise of 15 special dishes from past menus. These are available in the restaurant Sunday through Thursday until May 30. The price? $15.
The Plaza's bar has a great view of the Bricker and Eckler Building. In the bar we were deluged with beluga, shrimp, sushi, brie, and lobster hors d'oeuvres, while talking of Doral Chenoweth's picketing 70's children and Sue Dawson's Dispatch testing kitchen. The Hyatt general manager, Michael Jokovich, beamed. We toasted Danny Deeds, thinking back on the standard the Maramor set for restaurants in Columbus. This challenge was met by the Chef's Table for the Lucky 15.
We were escorted from the bar's elegance through a banquet room (where another party was in full swing), through the labyrinth of the kitchen to our table. In addition to the aforementioned decor were table decorations of flowers made from vegetables (lotus root, carrot, and turnip - works of art in themselves).
Every dish served to us was a work of art. Presentation was perfect. Soups: five onion, lobster chowder, wild mushroom bisque. Achingly good. My endive salad was a crunchy, rich hat (or so it looked). Entrees included salmon, veal, tournedos of beef, lamb chops, and my potato-crusted snapper. Vegetables were succulent. I began to wish that I could have this dinner served over a period of a week. Desserts arrived in a flourish of swirls, lattices, laces, dollops, and something called a "chocolate purse." They went beyond art, into culinary outer space. And I was served the best coffee I've ever tasted.
Was it the. wine, the company, the setting? I could have supped all night. Alas, it was over too soon. We had to extricate ourselves from these wonderful people: Vernon Hill, Helen Funari, Warren Herman, Greg Meeke, Pauline Perkins, Jeanie Hitchcock, Mohammed Zukar, John Bott, who created the meal, and Chef Wolf, who orchestrated it all.
A Wolf of a different stripe appeared in the Short North. Kathy Wolfe and Wolfhound entertained on a Saturday night at Brian Boru's, 647 N. High St. My companion, David Lehman, and I sat at the back of the bar by the light of the Harp and Beck's signs. We had a view of the inner sanctum of the bar, bartendresses in tight jeans (one put her leather jacket on and left early), good-looking (Irish?) men as bartenders.
Across the room, with their backs to the front window, by the light of the Guinness sign, was Wolfhound: Kathy Wolfe, lead singer; Mary Hough, rhythm guitar and vocals; Jay Michael Loeffert, bass and lead guitar and vocals; David DeWees, lead guitar, and Ryan Parkebich, drums. Three-fifths of the band wore all black. They played blues, covers, and showed us they were comfortable with country.
To the left of the band was the raised television set. We watched as Martina Hingis won a tennis championship and we were repeatedly reminded by commercials that an insurance company has usurped the image of a broaching whale. We enjoyed the strobe effect of cars, busses, and flashing tow trucks zipping up and down High Street behind the band.
I had a hard time finding a dance floor. Some people danced in the back. I want my friends to note that the first song I heard by Wolfhound, "When We're Laying in the Dirt," is what I would like them to play at my wake.
Later songs had geographic references: "Hotter Than The Chicago Fire," and "I Can Do More Damage Than The San Francisco Earthquake." Kathy sang "I'm Standing On Shaky Ground Ever Since You Put Me Down," and made us believe it.
We bopped to "Juke Joint Jump (Clap your hands and shake your rump)." We rocked to "Rock Me Right." Another lyric wove the phrase "Tender Eyes" into "tenderize" and "tantalize." "Got Me Runnin' Got Me Hidin" got us running into some juicy crowd-pleasing covers like "Summertime Blues," "White Rabbit," Tracy Chapman's "Turn Right Back Around," "Chain of Fools," "I Feel Good," "Mean Mean Woman." (Guitar playing put Big Brother to shame, sorry, Sam Andrew.) "Susie Q" (Mary and Kathy trading leads) and "Mustang Sally."
Brian Boru's was not too smoky at first, but cigar smoke did eventually tendril to our nostrils (the man next to us did ask us if the smoke bothered us, which we denied). The band played two long sets during our stay. They were back after a 20-minute break. They have a strong presence and know their stuff.
(From the February 1999 issue)
He brought great flames forth . . . looking much like a wizard.
My neighbor creates excellent sushi and puts it in my refrigerator. This is a sign of a good neighbor. I just finished his latest plateful, then followed it with some linguine with clam sauce that I had leftover. Because you can't write about food on an empty stomach. I am watching the sunset over the snow-frosted woods and thinking about last night's dinner at the Japanese Steak House, 479 N. High St., as the iced branches clack like chopsticks.
We were eight. Culinary writer M.F.K. Fisher claims six is the perfect number for dinner. However, eight is the minimum number of seats in the "hibachi banquettes," each table under a large vent and surrounding a large grill. Some tables can seat 14. At some tables, you can take your shoes off. We kept ours on.
Just about every table in the dining room had a birthday. The gentleman with the loud drum was kept busy. Servings of pineapple with little umbrellas on them (much healthier than sugar roses) arrived with the drummer. Actually, we had two birthday boys in our eightsome, who chose not to be drummed. A greater celebration was that after talking about it for five months, we all managed to bring the evening to fruition. In the snow and ice yet.
We felt warmed and healthy by the food and drink. I had plum wine as an aperitif, which tasted rather like sweet sherry and was served in a small sherry glass. We waited a rather long time in the crowded bar area. Striped and plaid shirts seemed to dominate the men's attire at the bar - winter dress. A papier-maché tiger next to a ceramic cat presided above the bar. The smell of ginger permeated the cacophony. My companion drank O'Doul's - and I had just been to the Lefty O'Doul Bridge in San Francisco.
Large clumps of people kept disappearing into the dining room. Tina said Ohioans build camaraderie by talking about the weather. Marcia ordered a Samurai warrior's drink - a Tokyo Bloody Mary. She pronounced it "different." The real Samurai got so brazen and foppish that they could wear anything - odd hairpieces and outlandish armor. We admired the backlit glass images of Samurai in full kimono, also many geisha on fabric.
We were shown to our table/grill. We all ordered the dinner, which comes with soup, salad, shrimp, vegetables, main entree (chopped and cooked on the grill), steamed rice, bean sprouts, and dessert. After a heart-warming chicken broth with mushrooms and green onion (soup) and a crunchy salad of iceberg lettuce and soy-based dressing, our modern Samurai arrived.
He was dressed in a burgundy folded cloth for a chef's hat, burgundy neckerchief, burgundy apron with a "tool belt" of long fork, sharp knife, spatula, and sharp chopper. (David's taking a photo and holding up the cook - he'll dice your ear if you don't watch out!) By the time our chef arrived, we had almost forgotten what we came for - the sizzling main attraction. He poured a liquid (water?) from a Dewar's bottle onto a towel and cleaned the grill.
He poured oil on the grill with a flourish. He made fried rice before our eyes with white rice, soy, mushrooms, green onion, and an egg. He handed us all small dishes of two kinds of brown sauce. Zucchini, sesame seeds, shrimp, and rice spiraled and cascaded under the knife and spatula. He slung it all onto our plates with perfect finesse.
He brought great flames forth with, I presume, alcohol, looking much like a wizard as he did so. This was certainly warming up a winter's eve. The heavier seafood and red meat came next, then bean sprouts were flicked on and off the grill rapidly. The birthday drums droned on and on.
The use of chopsticks during this feat was optional, and the talk seemed to bend toward children. John and Sue had recently enjoyed a birthday ride in a 35-foot limo with their girls, who liked the "light show" and mirrors inside. Annie does flips on the ice at Chiller and Audrey is practicing to be a minute go-go- dancer. John said the chauffeur called him "Sir." Joe said he'd just come from coaching 9-year-old girls in soccer. He said they were angels, and he's been coaching 13 years. Kurt and Marcia discussed large children (in their 20's) moving back home - the boomerang generation.
As the crowd thinned we could hear the strains of Japanese music and the whir of the vents over the grills. We reeled through air redolent of oil and soy. We saw the honor-system phone by the restrooms marked "Samurai" and "Geisha." The final discussion of the evening turned to nudity - Toys for Ta-Tas? We could not decide on the moral correctness of this after so much food.
We stumbled in slush past Yankee Trader (windows splashed with St. Pat's and Valentine's decorations) to the Char Bar. I ordered an Irish Coffee (which actually came with green whipped cream) in response to the aforementioned window. The former speakeasy mode of the Char Bar showed through - red walls, tin roof, chandeliers. No more words could be spoken, as the din and smoke enveloped us in mystery.
I am making a plea to the Short North community about a garage (or two) to house not ordinary autos, but extraordinary ones - art cars, decorated with toys, beads, bones, shells. Soon I will ship them from California and I would like to house them safely and well. Does anyone have space for these cars - well, even near the Short North, or anywhere?
10 REASONS . . . I LOVE COLUMBUS!
In a time when flags seem to be flying perpetually at half-staff, one can only hope for a niftier tomorrow. The bounty of the earth, the labors of talented people, the efforts of enterprise, all serve us to forget the pains reported in the news. Let us remember the pain, but look for improvement. Let's look into the Short North, still sending out sparks in a world growing cold and dark.
Winter is the time, after being awash in a raft of leaves, when one can renew a relationship with the sky. The sunsets are fabulous, but rapid. Even a sigh heaved while driving around under a roseate early twilight sky can be a form of meditation.
Speaking of driving around, I want to speak about alleys. If you've spent 27 years driving around the streets of San Francisco, like I have, you get to appreciate alleys. San Francisco has no alleys. It has large hills (read small mountains) that you have to drive around (the equivalent would be orange barrels here - if you heaped them into piles). The houses are all stuck together and have little pitiful backyards - and no alleys. The Short North, Victorian Village, Italian Village, indeed all of Columbus has alleys that go on for blocks and blocks. Such freedom! Such traffic avoidance! And I love looking at backs of houses and businesses - where real life takes place.
Now I want to speak about mulch. Never have I seen such preoccupation with a gritty substance. Also, I never knew plants (even grass!) would be planted here in the "dead" of winter. I won't even mention '"ornamental kale," or whatever those weird cabbages are that appear all over Columbus this time of year. Who invented these as decorative items?
Let's get back to the leaves. Never have I seen such voluptuous leaves. Even on the ground, they swell like the ocean. I watch for the "leaf-sucker" that comes around to vacuum pillows of them off the curb (a civic investment, this).
Let's get back to driving. I have yet to see one gas station here where they make you pay before you pump. I always suspect the pay-first stations of cheating you out of your paid-for gas. The trust here is simply wild!
Recently I had to make some phone calls for a volunteer arts organization. The people I called were actually nice to me on the phone! They actually volunteered! Another reason I'm glad I moved back here.
Patient waiting. Doors opened for you. There are many people here who are not angry at you for getting in their way, and who take life at an even pace. Even in the sophisticated Short North.
However, this town, if you know the streets well enough, has some fast getaways, not only in the alleys. At times I've made it from Worthington to Broad and High in fifteen minutes flat, not speeding. Yes, there is traffic. But judicious driving can get you around it. (Of course, I rarely drive to Dublin, and I never take 270.) Despite the hue and cry about parking, just try parking in San Francisco.
Libraries. The libraries here are stupendous. Wallow in their luxury.
Uneaten vegetable trays. As a vegetarian,, I appreciate the fact that most vegetables at gatherings are left for me.
Really good Christmas light displays. The joy of the onset of winter is the veritable fairyland of lights in many businesses and homes, from mansion to bungalow.
My heart has become light in the year- and-a-half since I've returned to Central Ohio. All my best wishes for the continuance of the search to uncover the greatest secrets of living well.
(From the December 1998 issue)
Thurber Suite at Westin Great Southern is Sweet!
By Christine Hayes
I have found myself fortunate to be named to the committee to choose Thurberana for the walls of the Executive Suite, recently renamed the James Thurber Suite, of the Westin Great Southern Hotel. Thurber's mother and brother lived in the hotel, in later years, therein the connection. I and the other members of the committee (Pat Santelli, Huntington Bank; Gary Kiefer, managing editor of the Dispatch; Carol Hershey Durell, artist, Studios on High; Bill Case, attorney, and Donn Vickers, director of the Thurber House) chose cartoons, of course, dog drawings, fables, New Yorker covers, photographs of family, tender small drawings for the bathrooms, and
Thurber's portrait on the cover of Time.
What a wealth of material to pull from! What a painful narrowing-down. I was lobbying for "A Hotel Room in Louisville." This accompanies a story about how Columbusites make bad wanderers, and how one such wakes up in a hotel room in Louisville with a headache, with no remembrance of how he got there. I also lobbied for a Thurber drawing of four rather in-the-cups gentlemen singing their hearts out, for the bar area of the suite. Too whiffenpoofy? They do look a little collegiate. Instead, the walls are graced in that area with three prints by Thurber's granddaughter, Sara Thurber Sauers. She works at her printing at the Center for the Book at the University of Iowa. She and her mother, Rosemary, attended one of our suite meetings, and Sara agreed to hand-print the three fables. Hooray! They are magnificent.
For the bedroom we chose these three cartoons: "All right, have it your way, you heard a seal bark," (this is large and over the four-poster bed), "Who made the magic go out of our marriage - you or me?" (over the desk), "I just love the way there are two sexes - don't you?" (far wall). I heard some chortles from guests inspecting our handiwork at the opening on Oct. 14.
I lobbied for a small clock drawing that accompanies a Thurber short story about his all-night meeting with F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1934 in a bar on 52nd St. in New York. This did not make the cut. I will put it up in my own home.
Mark La Hood, general manager of the Great Southern, is to be lauded for his extreme patience and diligence in seeing the project through. I think we made some good decisions about what will be there for the $500-a-night guests. Some other great Thurber drawings are always visible to the public in the mezzanine of the Great Southern. Go check them out. And while you're there, try the good food and drink in the bar and restaurant.
We had good entertainment at the opening from the Thurber Chamber Theatre's premiere performance of three Thurber pieces. Pat Wynn Brown was a wife who wanted a decent dinner; Polly Pepinsky amazed as the wife who was aiding her own demise in the cellar; and Win Logan died a dramatic death as a wolf.
MARTINI, the restaurant. We did not drink martinis, but the cornbread server, an enigmatic blond with a surfer look, had a large olive on the back of his shirt. The desserts were served in martini glasses: tiramisu, sorbet. Kevin said there's a tiramisu website with 1500 recipes. He's the non-grumpy gourmet who worked
in a deli all summer.
Kristen,our server, who should be deified for her patience and good humor, placated the baffled birthday man with a parfait glass full of frozen berries, cream, crusty sugar,
and a long spoon.
The tiramisu, by the way, had cake soaked in espresso, and mascarpone, which I think is Italian cream cheese. Caramel drippings stuck to the martini glass. Talk about dessert first: life is short. Nick, and Kevin, his brother, had been on the OSU campus for one day, and were full of pep, even before dessert.
Of Martini, Nick said, "I feel like I'm in Beverly Hills." We admired the crimson of the lobster and tomatoes on the fresh, open murals, also the grand depiction of such items as a garlic press. White columns and loopy brown fabric ceiling buffers in the main room contrasted with the rich jewel-like glass and commedia motif in the more
intimate and elevated back room.
We were five for dinner. We sampled the calamari all around: sour, hot, crunchy, springy, light, mild. Kevin told us about his breath "hitting the floor" of the deli cold storage. This contrasted with the warmth of the Martini open kitchen. It was wild with activity. The swing music soared as Nick said: "I feel like there should be some guy reading poetry and we should be snapping our fingers."
Some of us had the spinach and radicchio salad, drizzled with goat cheese and glazed pecans, stocked with pears and red onion, tomato, and kalamata olives. I had the rare tuna salad, the tuna like sashimi, falling apart at the nudge of a fork.
The entrees: Pollo al Ceppo, a robust chicken/pasta dish, noodles al dente, creamy but not too overbearing. The world's largest lasagna; the world's largest salmon and potato dish; and Fettucini Carbonara, pasta with shallots, prosciutto, and bacon. Let it be said that more dinners were made from this dinner - it was a sea of Styrofoam carriers as we made our way to the valet parkers in the sultry September air.
By the end of the meal, the kitchen had restored calm. We counted as many women chefs as men. "An interesting bathroom is the mark of a good restaurant," Nick said, so we all dutifully went and remarked on the loveliness. Not a Grumpy Gourmet column in sight (other restaurants in Columbus seem to place framed copies in their bathrooms).
Too cool for that.
The Ohio Women's Show at the Convention Center was the next best thing to a commercial building at the Ohio State Fairgrounds. In fact, some of the displays looked exactly the same! There were graters for Oreos, crackers, and cheese. Choppers that made fragrant peppers turn into salsa. The difference was - at the Convention Center - there were pieces of carpet everywhere in shades of purple, blue, green, black and white, and the OSU Medical Center had a mock living room with white carpet, ferns, statuary, a fountain, and svelte inviting persons.
In the Kroger's "Flashback" area (were the 50s really that much fun?), women were stuffing shopping bags full of stuff. I think it was food. I had free samples of coffee and doughnuts.
I wandered back out and saw bread bags, Herbie the herb pack, hair salons, a craft store, children crawling, ribbons, jewelry, live bees in a glass hive, cars, a screened-in porch, and women telling other women about insurance and investments. There were coats, watches, dolls, beds, tanning machines, books, and toys.
When it was all over, I saw a women rolling up huge slabs of carpet. I am always amazed at the willingness of people to haul large objects in and out of these shows.It is stunning in its anthill-like activity.
The seething aliveness of the creekbed: water, trees, locusts, crickets, mosquitoes, fish, chiggers, turtles, ants, raccoons, groundhogs, chipmunks, squirrels – inhaling and exhaling, pulsating and throbbing, through the hot summer day and night. The firefly-laden night air, catching the heat and wrapping the earth in moisture. The color and movement of the season, arriving to the urban landscape on trucks, arrayed in heaps for your produce-buying pleasure.
FRESH from North Market Farmer's Festival, where musicians lazily fiddled away the afternoon. Couples kissed and hugged one another (do they think this is Paris?). Perhaps they read the sign on I Scream's passionfruit yogurt: "You can never have too much passion." Elderly moved in slow motion from the counter to the table (don't knock it unless you've tried it). Perhaps they read the sign on lavender and tangerine at I Scream's: "So relaxing you can fire your therapist."
I strolled across the street to the new digs of the Columbus Children's Theatre (512 Park St.) to see The Mystery of Edwin Drood. I saw this show years ago in the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park amid a huge crowd. The voting at the end was accomplished by an army of minions with megaphones.
This Drood was intimate. We got to know our actors, and fine ones they were. Too bad I have to write about their flair at ensemble playing after it's over, so that I can't send you there posthaste.
Don't be fooled by the moniker "Children's Theatre." This play was quite adult. The actors intermingled with the audience as the cast of the very British "Music Hall Royale," young maidens in various stages of undress, the men dressed, one bouncing "devil sticks," another juggling. A cheeky "Cossack" caught my eye. In the parlaying, they found out we were from the "colonies," perhaps convicts, perhaps escaped convicts come to pickpocket the actor-paupers.
The show itself swings like a pendulum (or squeezes in and out like a concertina) from its play-within-a-play Music Hall characters to the actual story Mr. Charles Dickens wrote – and died midway in the writing. Thus, the alternate endings, because there never was one. The action expands into the wings with exuberant flailing, then in a heartbeat is confined to a single spotlight for a moment of portentous meaning.
The mystery unfolds as various characters are introduced. The plot thickens into a goulash of past intricacies, rivalries, and two-sided personalities. The level of professional acting of this troupe is once again proven by this production. Don't miss their shows!
Gone are the kitchen chairs (for the audience) from the other theatre. More sophisticated chairs have taken their place. The music was superb. The costumes were superbly tacky. The lighting cues were masterful, and the accents, of all strata of British society, on the mark.
I reentered the area of the North Market after the show. The farmers and their wares had dispersed, the ostrich-meat-and-vegetables stir-fry-wok demo was packing up, indeed all the merchants were in a state of exhaustion, applying cloths to their displays. The character in their faces a continuation of the incredible caricatures of the actors of Drood . . .
Later I made a beeline to Yankee Trader, my plastics Mecca. It was closed early on Saturday. So I studied the windows – fabulous design and display skills in evidence, although the weird stuffed animals are still here, and the cut-out of Barbara Bush...
Off to investigate Jillian's – an army of people poised to be your valet, server, bartender – where do all these trendy people come from? (Do they think this is Cannes?) Cowtown no more. Lots of black worn here. I counted 18 large-screen TVs in the main bar. I say main bar because rooms and bars abound.
Jillilan's thrusts one into the 21st century. Not just video games, but video games where you sit down right on the motorcycle (auto, skis, gun mount, etc.). Neon-encrusted shuffleboard. Not just food, but food they cook on the tabletop. Not just candles, but candles with moons and stars. Not just music, but a decent sound system. I like loud music at the right place at the right time.
After a glass of good house wine in the outdoor patio, I ventured over to Curio-A-Go-Go where the soaps are good enough to eat (almost). I admired the work there of Derek Hickman, who is re-creating sideshow banners. Go see "Quarter Man" and "Penguin Boy." Apparently these are the smaller ones, as "Sweet Marie," the fat lady, takes up a bigger canvas.
VERDURE. I enjoyed the greenness of the basil leaves on my phyllo-mushroom-tomato special at the King Ave. Coffeehouse ("Down to Earth Fine Dining"). The richness of color was matched by the wheat grass flats above the counter, a large vase holding an arrangement of plantlife, and the smooth, inviting lamps in the windows. Next door, in the window of Byzantium, there's a blue beaded bag that thrills in its beauty.
SURREAL. Check out the Salvador Dali prints at Elements of Art (near Strada). Such genius in our midst! "If in our age of quasi-dwarfs the colossal scandal of being a genius permits us not to be stoned like dogs or to starve to death, it will only be by the grace of God."- Salvador Dali.
NEIL AND FIRST: Anticipation on an empty street. The space is tried out by a remote control car sporting American flags. In the background, the Beatles singing "Girl" emanates from a house. Across the street, a pink stuffed elephant bearing a sign "Grand Pachyderm" gets drenched on a porch railing. A dog scoots along the slick pavement next to its owner, running down the liberated thoroughfare. Bicyclists, one playing a harmonica, and a lone in-line skater take advantage of the pre-parade opportunity. Silly String shooters waste their supply. Smiling police in cruisers slide by.
It is the day the clowns that walk the edge of reality and society come out to play. They are the termites in the crutches of bureaucracy, the spiderwebs in the corners of corporate offices, the road signs in the middle of the business-as-usual desert, pointing the way to "take it – to the limit – one more time."
THE DOO-DAH PARADE: a well-attended event. Rain spattered the waiting crowd, but the lined-up cheer as skies lighten up. Miss Italian Village's crepe paper stuck to her back, but it could only enhance. Fred and Howard smile as their magnetized digit-in-nose photo on the side of the Not-So-Grand Marshal Convertible answers that age-old question, "Where's the Spoof?"
It Is the day of the hastily-scrawled sign, the sound of balloons popping like gunshots, the rasta flamingo heading Santa's sleigh. We encounter fellow newspersons from the Red Eyewitness News ("The News Nobody Cares About") who can interview with fervor, then swipe the video cam away with a "We Don't Care!" when one tries to answer. Persons in the painted van (created downtown by the crowd at the June Artsfest) throw hamburger buns to the masses. (And yet, very few substances transfer twixt paraders and audience, as a welcome relief. Miss Italian Village throws pasta, but sparingly.)
Marching are various Viagra- and Virgin-oriented groups. The Soviet Limo Service is there (Harley of Russia), Ladies against Women, the March of Mimes Wok-A-Thon (wearing, of course, woks). The recyclists wear newspaper hats, tin can lid earrings, and trash bags, with crushed-can lavalieres. Jake, Elwood, and Elvis bring up the rear, their late-model car complete with bumper stickers "Hate You," "Speed Queens" and "White Oats."
The Orange Barrel Queen cavorts in a mini-car replete with street signs and a dragging barrel. My favorite costume of the day was the musician in the cacophonous band wearing a cherry-print tablecloth for a cape, a hat resembling a sheep's head, and World War I leggings not quite reaching his red shorts.
The Short North, where Freedom of Expression exists on the Fourth of July and every other day, Doo-dah, doo-dah.
COMFEST: On other festival fronts, what would Comfest be without social activism and politics thrown in with the music. Booths were staffed by members of the Socialist Party, Libertarian Party, activists of every stripe, even volunteers from the Lee Fisher/Michael Coleman for Governor campaign . . . I can't say I remember seeing the Taft folks around though.
Sunday afternoon of Comfest was full of color as nearly 10,000 people lined up along Park Street for the start of the Stonewall Gay Pride Parade. Thanks are due to BRAVO (Buckeye Regional Anti Violence Organization) for an incident-free parade.
Ceramist Sue Shellenbarger, who encouraged her kids to express themselves from early on, joined her son Dan, painter and photo-columnist for Columbus Alive, and daughter Kerin, a dabbler in papIer maché and wood, as art and craft exhibitors at this 27th annual Comfest
The "Visual Von Trapps," as they jokingly call themselves, took to the streets to unload some of their work after amassing too much in their homes. Kerin's clocks can be seen locally at Transformations Gallery. While Dan is a Short North resident, mom and sis are out-of-towners who like to stay at 50 Lincoln when visiting.
Comfesters Madame Connie Connelly and Friends, including the ever-vivacious Jeanni Ray, returned with over twenty years of prognosticating experience, a Ia tarot. With low prices and fortunate fortunes, festival-goers enjoyed hearing what was in the cards for them.
Fortune: Be wild in the summer, 'cause there's no fool like a cold fool. Corollary: Many are cold, but few are frozen.
I went to California for a week, and all the mayapples bloomed and faded before I got back. Phooey. But the fireflies are back, and so all's set for summer. The pawpaw leaves are pretty much filled in.
I have cats dogging me as I'm trying to garden. But check out this diary entry of my father's: (May 27, 1952) "Fine warm day, the second sunny one after days and days of rain. I messed around in garden after dinner. Chrissie (that's me) following with me. She pretended she was a puppy named Trick, crawling on all fours. What kind of dog? A Chiweese, she said the kind of dog Hawaiians have. It talked, saying 'wake' for rake. That shows what TV does for 4 1/2 year-olds. Trick rode his own hobby horse, and did other tricks."
What some kids won't do for attention. If you want to give your pet some attention, go to Planet Pet, 988 N. High. Munchies for your cat, crunchies for your dog. I had some cake for their first birthday. They handed it out at the Hop. There were little moons around the icing planet. The store has full-spectrum pet need fulfillment.
A new bakery in the Short North: Piece of Cake, (next to L'Antibes) at 772 N. High. From the high wrought-iron chairs to the elegant hanging cherubs, this is a bakery with a statement. The seasons change before your eyes on the walls, thanks to artist Joan Colbert. And there were Bird of Paradise blooms on the collage-top table. Soups, sandwiches, hummus, quiche, or strada (like quiches but no crust) are on the menu. Go early in the day before it runs out, or call to save - and, oh yes - those exquisite cakes and cookies! I wanted to take them all home, lock the door, and take a bite out of each one.
A tie for best flower arrangements sitting out on a table: the afore-mentioned orange-blue "birds," and the lilies and "white rockets" at Gallery V, 694 N. High.
NEW GIRL IN TOWN: Cassandra Chenoweth, 3-week-old daughter of Doral Chenoweth III and wife Robin, spotted at Summit and Warren, the Ohio Art League's gallery. The happy parents were also proud of DC III's photos on the walls, one of Kenyan women at a well, from their recent trip to Africa. (One of the more peaceful places they encountered on that continent, unlike dangerous Johannesburg, where they went with Habitat.) We're glad they made it back safely to grace our city with photos and progeny. The photos of the Columbus Dispatch photographers are crisp, politically charged, blatantly poignant. Eric Albrecht shows a wonderful photo of the Wonder Bread sign in the sunset, as we view out the window the back of the Wonder Bread sign (looking very scarlet and gray, by the way). I recommend standing on that corner and looking up (Summit and Warren). It's just a heartbeat away from High Street.
THE BEAT GOES ON. Music echoed from one end of the Short North to the other on June Hop night. Drums and dancing at the Short Stop Teen Center, 1088 N. High, set the tone; Paradox's a cappella drew crowds, big congas and belly dancers popped up on the corner. The Band Formerly Known as Turkey in the Straw held forth in front of that distillation of the '60s, Waterbeds 'n' Stuff, 685 N. High. The rousing sound is made by violin, mandolin, bass, flute, guitar. The band's logo is a turkey made from male and female symbols and four fingers for a tail. You can reach them at (614) 262-9410. They'll busk at your do.
At Global Gallery, 682 N. High, Yusuf Afoxe features his handmade flutes. He plays them for you and shows you the chambers and nuances. He also plays the pan-pipes.
Brad Marston has a new accordion. He's the musician of many jokes in front of the Short North Tavern on Hop Nights.
No Lemmings Allowed, that stronghold of vintage clothing and accessories, had a svelte black-clad violinist with alluring hair and lipstick in their window.
A little further afield lies the Ohio Craft Museum, 1665 West Fifth Avenue in Grandview. Their hands-on one-night events, a combination of workshop and party, are hot and dirty fun. With kiln or smelting device, for your immediate use. I'm right proud of my raku bowl and glass beads I made there on two occasions. Food's good too.
At the annual Gala there, I met Ruth and Bill Lantz. Ruth makes computer-designed clothing on her knitting machine - such color and pattern! Ruth related that she had taken on as student a girl from Fredericksburg, and they knit her a sweater all in one day. The girl went out the door happy. Ruth was ready to fall on the floor.
Carol Shelton, who makes one-of-a-kind necklaces, said she used to meet with like-minded bohemians at Larry's to remember the great circus man, Adam Forepaugh. She cleared up for me the identity of Lucy Montague - she was a bareback rider. My father, as a former member of the Adam Forepaugh Society, had several curious ceramics and medallions with her name inscribed.
VEHICULAR VOODOO. Whose bicycle was that I spotted in front of Phillip's Coney Island? Four turquoise water bottles, two blue-and-white handlebar tassels, knight-and-damsel stickers, football helmet and skateboard stickers, beads (day-glo) and reflectors on the spokes? I know the decorated car parked in the same spot on Hop Night belongs to Greg Phelps. It features a squid designed by Susan Sturgill, our very own Short North cartoonist. That's hand-cut vinyl sign material on the red Mazda. The car will appear at schools, daycare centers, festivals, and parades all summer long. Children are invited to participate, (add color).
On the Dispatch/Dept. of Parks and Recreation "Open Garden Tour" one Sunday, I fell into the Greg Garden on the first day of the car decoration at the corner of Fourth and Neil Avenues. The garden features a concrete donkey with a Great Seal of Ohio in its eye socket (Greg said his first childhood memory was riding on a donkey), bottle caps patterned in the ground, glass stems and mushrooms, Mac Worthington discards, found objects too numerous to mention, and a table made of a washtub and a piece of round glass, with an interior of bones. Even the compost heap was embellished. Amid all these frills were angelica, lilies, cannas, coleus, morning glories, and "beautiful, invasive" poppies. And, oh yes, a happy face candle. A beautiful child was chalking the stones of the walk. So close to concrete are the tender tendrils of fancy.
Fancy Dan from Plain City postcards: "A firefly in the hand is worth two in the jar, let it fly free and let it fly far."
SUNSET: The western sky creases into petal pink and lapis. The orange ball descends. The sparrows trill their last remarks to the day. The spring beauties close up.
Out in the Japanese garden, the forsythia is holding forth. Myrtles awash in purple. The mayapples fold their umbrella-heads. Fat little Dutchman's-breeches look toothy, while toothwort appears feathery. The dogtooth violet shines a benevolent yellow. Trees limbs reflect in the glimmering stream.
I ventured forth to try "Benevolence Soup" at Benevolence, 41 W. Swan St., as touted by Doral Chenoweth. It turned out to be as good as expected: split pea, and then potato/mushroom. I had nothing else, not even napkins, and trod lightly on the earth at the wooden European-style benches and tables (you eat as a group). People kept pouring in! Admired the sock bunnies (sheep?), beads, books, and bread.
NORTH MARKET NOSH. The sounds, the savory smells, and shoulder brushings rushed up to create entry bewilderment – then, suddenly, I focused on our good friend Queen Brooks, who was painting newspaper boxes with a group of other artists. These are being distributed around our fair city to brighten our views. (Note: Queen's creation sits in front of Studios on High, 686 N. High, and there's another one in front of Chin-Chin.)
I followed up the soup with some Scream ice cream, just about the best stuff I've ever tasted, Vanilla Bean colored slightly green with spinach (this was near St. Patrick's Day), tasted Chinese 5-Spice (clove, fennel, cinnamon, star anise, white pepper) and Coriander ice cream there. Bought noodles from Casual Cuisine, potato salad from Heil Family Deli, cinnamon roll from Mill Creek Farm, eggs from Dorothy Gatterdam. Can you tell that somebody forgot to diet?
FLOWER POWER. Bought roses from Leaves of Grass, 743 N. High, for that other Queen, Christina Pritsolas of the Queen Bee restaurant, and her twin sister Mary. Flowers to the Bee rather than the other way round. The zippy zinnias at An Open Book turned out to be Gerbera daisies from Leaves of Grass. For $2 you too can take home an explosion of color on a stem with some bear grass to complement it (Also called "Boo Boo" grass in honor of Yogi Bear's little friend). And the awesome long-stemmed roses are $2.50 apiece.
GALLERY HOP GALLIVANTING. Listened to a rousing version of "Kiss Him Good-bye" by the a cappella group Paradox, on the street at the Hop. This is a Steam song from the '60s arranged by the Nylons. Paradox features six guys with good vocal range, excellent pitch and powers of concentration. They sway and swoon. They'd like to go places – to your party or event. They said they do Turtles, Boston, Kansas, Billy Joel, Toto, Seal, and INXS songs. Call 436-1724 if you're interested.
Brad Marston gave me an explanation of how an accordion works at the Hop; he, also, was playing (and singing) on the street between the Short North Tavern and Europia. He sings comedic tunes – I heard one about McDonald's fare and one with a chorus of a Bronx raspberry. Ask for the one about Otto and the "44" if you see Brad playing. He gave me his name with the comment: "At least you're not a journalist." I told him not to judge a book by its cover! Also do not judge an accordion by its appearance: Brad's is slathered with duct tape, but plays well.
The Imaginating Dramatics Co. gave a standing-room only production of "The Prince and the Penguin" in the storefront at 772 N. High. I especially enjoyed the leather-jacketed penguin, the singing, and the well-choreographed curtain call.
TIME WITH TOM. Had a pleasant lunch with Gazette publisher Tom Thomson at Strada, 106 W. Vine St. The multi-hued tilework on Strada's front is inviting, reminding one of sun-splashed days in rural Spain or Italy. Inside, an eclectic blend of music, along with curved wine racks. Over what sounded like the Gypsy Kings, we discussed Thurber, Burkhart, birding, taxes, book sales, restaurants, pen names, web sites, and vegetarianism. Bulky wood pieces of various grain and stain are conjoined as jagged wall hangings. I enjoyed my roasted vegetables tossed in penne. Time flew by.
GROWING UP, NOT THROWING UP. Quite near Strada is Columbus Junior Theatre's cozy venue at 504 N. Park St. The audience seating is made up of comfy kitchen chairs! I sank into one while contemplating the sponge-painted backdrop (and floor enhancement) for the production of "Ramona Quimby." The outside leaf-pattern merged into inside wallpaper-pattern and rug. I joined the lively and expectant audience in admiring the wall-less fade from Quimby living-room to grass, and back again. Even the curtain matched the overall pattern.
The two Quimby sisters cavorted through growing-up (Ramona: "I don't want to grow up -- I'm not old enough!")
The performance also featured the shortest wedding on record (Ramona: "Nobody spilled punch and nobody threw up.")
Among the wedded was the girls' aunt, a hippie glam girl whose lifestyle is punctuated by throwing open shutters high above the leafy environment. There were masterful music cues chosen from pop tunes.
After the curtain calls, the young actors were found by this writer out in the lobby, excitedly talking to each other about how many performances remained – a true continuation of the drama.
As Mr. Quimby says, "Nobody's sweet and lovely all the time – if they are, they're BOR-ing!"
The lacework of ice on the ajuga slowly melts in the afternoon sun. Branches crackle, then ice chunks fall on the roof. The cats race out the back door, skid, and want back in. A squirrel slips off the side of the iced birdfeeder.
The greenery stays under the ice. Myrtle, ajuga, lamb's ear, the cuttings from Aunt Pearl Archer, all gallantly keep their green. Geese scissor through the skies.
Bright-jacketed girls play in the ravine. Their shrieks spiral upward. Frost and leaves form tesselation in the stream. Shelf fungus holds a froth of snow. A woodpecker drills overhead.
As the afternoon wanes, it's time to head for warm interiors in the Short North.
ZINGY: Where does An Open Book at 76l N. High St. get its giant orange zinnias in the middle of winter? I spent a delightful fifteen minutes sketching them and filling in the zinger orange tones with my pastels.
THE LONG AND SHORT OF IT: I enjoyed the buskers on January 3 at the Gallery Hop: mandolin, guitar, fiddle, bass. They add zip to the street parade, also the tones emanating from the Short North Tavern's band in the window, Conspiracy.
Throat Culture, Columbus's own a capella whizzes, gave us an amazing concert with the Bobs at Ft. Hayes Performing Arts Center recently. Throat Culture began performing in the fall of 1990 on a street corner in the Short North. They have since appeared on nationally syndicated radio, local radio and TV, clubs, festivals, and events. Try to catch them when you can.
Bought a chocolate croissant at the Coffee Table cafe, 731 N. High St. Ate it the next morning. I used to buy these from bicycle vendors on the beach in Agadir, Morocco, steaming fresh out of a basket. To the beach campground came also a candy vendor, eggman, hashish seller, and a man who sold live crabs. He would pull on a sternum part and make the crab's pincers go up. This croissant tasted almost as good as those of early Agadir mornings.
LUXURIOUS DESIGN IN CAFE LAND: Some words need to be said about the decor of the Coffee Table. The tabletops are indeed a feature, with alternating pressed wood and marbled paint in earth tones. Black vinyl-seated chairs with spackled-canvas backs, spackled base and legs, match the spackled Casablanca fans above.
The huge booths are wooden and wombish, encompassing three-quarters of a circle, with Viking-horned wood cut-outs above joined to decorative struts. From one strut hung a Ken doll dissected and reassembled on a huge tie (or was it a tongue?) by artist DeCross. The white pressed-tin mandala ceilings complete the look – great use of wood, cloth, space, color! The clientele was equally entertaining the day I was there . . .
Basso Bean, 691 N. High St., keeps its papers up front in honey-comb fashion. Under ceiling fans, black duct, and zodiacal light fixtures, patrons chat and sip to cool jazz (the day I was there). I admired their wood inlay counter in abstract coffee and biscotti design, the bright tile in the back hallway and bathrooms. This tile is coyly preserved under a corner couch in the front (a striking mismatch to the rest of the room). And check out the borders of the bathroom mirrors.
At Little Brother's, 1100 N. High St., C.J. Chenier's band included his Zydeco accordion with a. drummer, three guitars, and a washboard player with truly great attitude. They switched back and forth from Zydeco to gumbo-soaked blues.
They looked like they were truly having fun, giving the loudly appreciative crowd one crinkly-hot number after another without pause. They reluctantly left the stage with an encore of a rollicking "Let me be your Teddy Bear." The crowd was up and dancing all night. C.J. and his guitarist strolled through the hall during breaks, C.J. with a big smile and a bright-blue double-breasted suit with dazzling gold buttons.
The Short North Folk Sampler's presentation of "Accordian Masters" at Little Brother's also featured excellent musicians who mingled with the audience. (Yes, during breaks, but also in the middle of a song: John Whelan jumped off the stage, never missing a note, and played from the audience.)
I must say a word of praise for the sound system and its human attendants at Little Brother's: it is excellent. Three accordion virtuosos, Daniel Thonon of Montreal and the band Ad Vielle Que Pourra, John Whelan of New York-based Kips Bay Celli Band, and Chris Parkinson of the House Band and the British folk scene (Parkinson plays the melodeon), rocked the house. I observed heavy hand-clapping, shouted "Whoo!", laughter at the comedy routines of the performers. The selections ranged from Irish folk to sea chantey to Parisian waltzes to "Autumn Leaves" done in a green spolight.
I was mesmerized by the color and texture of the instruments' constantly moving pleated material, as well as the all-encompassing sound.
Little Brother's features, as decor, a huge refrigerator with an impressive sticker collection, also canvas banners from sideshows (recently featured in the Dispatch as an up-and-coming art trend). You will see: SWAMP DEVIL, BLOCK HEAD, JUNGLE BONE CRUSHERS, IRON-TONGUED MAN, CONGRESS OF ODDITIES (WEIRD! ALIVE!)
Fancy Dan from Plain City postcards: Everything is so complete, when you're walkin' down the street . . . Hop Night, in the Short North.
The ginkgo lost all its yellow-fan leaves in one night. The ginkgo is planted right smack where I can see it out my girlhood ravine-oriented window. I mean it's outside the room I lived in from age 9 to 17, in a house on the edge of a finger of forest stretching a mile along a ravine streambed. It's probably all that's left of a much larger forest that was cut down to make way for houses in the '50s.
I stare out into the afternoon mist at the tracery of the twigs. Nuthatches swirl upside-down on their toes around the ginkgo trunk. Cardinals "chip" to each other, twitting from stick to bending stick. I catch the sight of a spiderweb blowing in the breeze.
I've come back to this house after 32 years. My parents built it in 1956. It's the best move I've ever made. Wintry gray skies cannot dampen my delight in it.
The measured clip of the trains up next to Indianola is funneled to my ear by the ravine. I jokingly call my trees a train forest instead of a rain forest. I call the house Druid Hill as my father claimed that Cathbad, the chief Druid, met with his cohorts on the large rocks in the stream at midnight.
In the house, cats laze around on the beds and couch, posing like sphinxes when someone chances by. I'm almost guilty to have this house and the time to think, to sort, to create. The short days pull me to the stream at twilight, to slog the gravity of my corpus at a paranormal rate, to the tune of a heartbeat. I pass by others there who say hello.
My father planted many of these trees, including the ginkgo, augmentation to the woods already here. His ashes I planted here too. I turn left at the white pine and sit on my haunches at the spot.
A dog barks, the cough of the neighborhood. The neighbor kids buried a bird nearby, with a stick cross and a circle of stones. My father's suet-holder for the birds still adorns a nearby walnut tree. It will have to serve as marker.
These trees and this house, and my mother's enjoyment of them when she comes to visit, are a marker of my father's life and times.
I'm the caretaker of a clement retreat. I give a small prayer of thanks as I watch the sunset, like a small jeweled pin, slip out from under a gray cloud. The time's here to look at a brown leaf. Yes, a brown leaf. It suddenly glows red like someone's set a cigarette through the other side, the last glow-promise of real autumn. Then the sun's behind the tree line and down.
1998: A good year to walk a lot, make sculptures out of sticks, and seek the noteworthy. As newsman Scoop Nisker says, "If you don't like the news, go out and make some of your own."
Newsworthy this month is M.J. Jennings of M.J. Originals, 745 N. High St. She has a show of abstract media on rag paper, seven large pieces, at Bagels and Deli, 66 E. Broad St., December 12 through Febuary. See some also in her art gallery and framing shop in the Short North. M.J. effuses enthusiasm as do her fluid rainbow colors. Why? She's just brought forth into the world (in November) Leda Marie Hickey, her daughter, who's "growing daily like a wildflower."
I was mesmerized by the jeweled spiders in M.J.'s case. The heavy sterling bracelets gleamed in the window. The "Baranabas Collins of Dark Shadows" ring looked like it could cast a spell. It had golden leaves and onyx inlay. She gave me a scoop: This is the year of the oversize French advertisement poster.
I ambled across the street to Studios on High. There I saw the shining, life-like vitality of Carol Hershey's polymer clay people. They exuded well-being. They poked out of dark suede backings in acrylic shadow boxes, with identifying names on metal plates. Carol works from photos or from her fancy. She captures the essence. The "skin" glows.
I also admired, there, the woven works of Katie Schmitt. Her loom sits near the front window, a tapestry lies in mid-woof. In the back is a well-appointed clay studio. 12 artists share this space.
To walk into Gallery V and see Han Xin's "New Works" is to walk into another world. "Into" is appropriate, as some of the paintings are as big as doors. The NY subway looms large. Also scenes from Giverney. Paintings of Alcatraz and the Bay made me (honestly) wishful to see the fog. Some smaller ones of Hong Kong, and a triptych called "Sweet and Sour Pork," with the eponymous Chinese dish, Paula Jones and Bill Clinton as Delilah and Samson, and some ravishing chile peppers.
Seen at the Canzani Center, Columbus College of Art and Design: Richard Mayer's installation "From the Ohio Pen," made of pieces of metal, stone, tile, and wood from the Old Pen. These pieces, and things like them, could be part of an Old Pen Museum display and Columbus Historical Museum. This piece ought to be seen by more people. So evocative. How about a museum in the Short North?
I admired, last month, the "wild" trees at the Festival of Trees at the Columbus Convention Center. Birds, nests, tendrils, wisps, pine cones, acorns - you get the drift. After viewing so many trees, my cousin and I retired to Rigsby's where we rejuvenated with onion and garlic soup and brie crouton, warm bread, and a good glass of house wine.
I recommend the chipotle pepper butter at Tapatio Bread Co. in the North Market, also the Jose Madrid raspberry salsa (made in Zanesvillle), also in North Market. They both give free samples on excellent chips and bread.
I observed Lyon Studios filming a commercial for North Market, with golden-earringed Anne-Marie of North Market Poultry and Game having to smile and smile beyond all human endurance, all the while holding a large tray of naked and meaty chickens.
The Short North, an area for me defined by Yankee Trader on the south and Big Fun on the north. Both stores feature, if you care to investigate into the depths, an infinity of small plastic items. The fact that Columbus has two such stores on the same street (High Street) gives the customer cheap thrills. (Run your hands through bins of happy faces.) And I won't even start in about the bins of toys at Mr. Bulky at City Center. The multiples of small items atract.
One of my favorite Short North creations was the High-Buttles Bijou, an invention of James Thurber. I can't go by the corner without thinking of it. Let's bring it back, I say. Some venue should bear that name.
That's all for today's stroll and musings. See you next time.