Monday, July 31, 2006

Hiroshima-Nagasaki Commemoration in Downtown Columbus on Sunday August 6

61 Years Later and the Horrors Continue

Commemoration, Reflection and Mourning

Sunday, August 6th
7:30 pm to 9:30 pm

25 Marconi Boulevard
Downtown Columbus

Directions: take High Street south or Front Street north to downtown. Hang west on Broad to Marconi boulevard and look for the Santa Maria reconstruction hanging out on the east bank of the Scioto river. This is Battelle Memorial Riverfront Park, where the commemoration will take place.

This event is planned as a simple, artful event with poetry and music augmenting speeches to mark the dropping of two atomic bombs by the United States 61 years ago. Yes, it can happen. No, it never should happen again.

Stand up for a peaceful future by standing in remembrance at this event.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Now Is No Time to Play Possum

(crossposted from Irregular Times)

This morning, as I let my dog roam back and forth on that wisp of grass and shrub that passes for a lawn in the Short North of Columbus, I heard her yelp and then watched a scruffy little mammal work its way through the underbrush, up to the base of a bush, and onto a little stub of a branch. A rat? A vole? A shrew? Nope, a possum. In the month I’ve been here, I’ve been amazed at the fauna that manages to keep a toehold here in pavement central.

Opossum playing possum in Columbus, Ohio, July 2006Once it made it up onto its perch, it looked around and locked eyes with me. Once we made eye contact, it didn’t move. I came closer and it froze. Even after I pulled out my camera and took a variety of snaps, some even with a smidgeon of flash, this possum held tightly to its position. Even as its breath quickened to a scary pace, it stayed stock still. Before I gave this possum a break and left it to move on, I was within two inches of it. I could have easily killed it. And still it clung to the branch, hoping wildly in its pretense.

I’ve heard it said that the possum will take this act to extremes, even rolling over and playing dead in the hope that a predator will get wigged out and just move on. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but the stunning display of wishful thinking by this little furry mammal got me to thinking about similar displays of wishful thinking by larger, not so furry, mammals.

Here’s the score in the human world: The forces of intolerance and ignorance are on the attack. They’ve stunted medical research. They’ve censored scientific reports. they’ve put Jesus in the classroom and rubbed evolution out. They’ve sifted through your phone records. They know what you’re reading. Chances are, they’re watching you in some way right now. They’ve placed themselves above the law. They’ve placed themselves above investigation. they say the U.S. constitution is just a scrap of paper. They say your freedom is negotiable.

What does a person do in the face of this assault? It’s tempting to roll over, play dead, and hope the threat will just go away. It’s hard not to play possum. Even if we put our all into the defense of liberty, the forces of intolerance and ignorance might still prevail. But they will certainly prevail if we do nothing but hide our faces and pretend not to exist. As Mohandas Gandhi put it long ago, “Whatever you do may seem insignificant to you, but it is most important that you do it.” Be the embodiment of hope. Take a public stand.

Just don’t play possum.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Spaghetti Warehouse: Expensive and Completely Forgettable

Last night, I tried out the Short North's Cafe Courier service (at, which delivers restaurant food straight to your home. I ordered mozzarella sticks, a house salad, chicken fettucine alfredo and tiramisu. All of these were bland -- the mozzarella sticks cost $7 but were of the $2 supermarket variety. The house salad contained iceberg lettuce. The chicken fettucine alfredo was quite bland, and it was clear the chicken was prepared separately and "grilled" with pre-made coloring. The tiramisu for dessert was entirely forgettable, lacking all the subtlety of a real tiramisu. Really, it was just cake with some chocolate sauce dribbled over it. I didn't hate any of the food, but none of it stood out. I just can't imagine why I'd head back for that sort of food again.

The Cafe Courier service, it should be said, was excellent. I was able to order online, it was very clear which restaurants would deliver to my house and when, there was only a minimal service charge and the nice delivery guy even came by a few minutes early. While I don't recommend the Spaghetti Warehouse to you, perhaps some of the other restaurants using Cafe Courier might be worth a shot.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Defend the Role Principled Dissent: Rally in Support of Dixie Chicks 7/23 5:30 pm in Columbus

For the simple act of saying, "Just so you know, we're ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas," the Dixie Chicks were tossed off the radio. Children were lined up by parents to burn their records as their parents held signs calling for the Dixie Chicks' music to be banned from the air. Some said the Dixie Chicks should be arrested. Others -- too many -- threatened to kill the Dixie Chicks for the act of disagreeing with George W. Bush.

Censorship and death threats for disagreeing with the president? Is this your vision of America? What happened to America's constitutional rights? What happened to a culture that supports dissent and disagreement?

Those of us living in Columbus have an opportunity to reassert and invigorate the essential American tradition of free political expression on Sunday, July 23 at 5:30 pm at the Schottenstein Center on Lane Avenue, just by the Olentangy River. There, as the Dixie Chicks get ready to perfom in concert, we can make a visual statement to the gathered media: Columbus supports free speech, dissent and vital disagreement with the Republican powers that be.

If you're interested and have questions, contact organizer Steve Vargo at or 614-274-3147.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Neighborhood Indicator: Fido Has Two Mommies

The latest indication that I chose the right neighborhood when I moved to Columbus' Short North:

Posh Pets on High Street has a t-shirt in the window with two women standing side by side, holding a dog on a leash. The caption:

"Fido Has Two Mommies."

Hee, hee!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Democratic Socialists of Central Ohio: Meeting 7/20 8-9 pm

The Democratic Socialists of Central Ohio are gearing up for another year of presentations, discussions and liasons with other socialist and progressive groups. Look for events to really get kicking as students return to Ohio State. In the meantime, now's a good chance to get in on the ground floor and help set the agenda for the year.

Next meeting: July 20, from 8-9 pm in the Northwood Building, 2231 North High Street.


Monday, July 10, 2006

Chittenden Veterinary Clinic: A Positive Experience

I just had a very good experience with Chittenden Veterinary Clinic, up at 239 Chittenden Avenue (with parking just north of 11th Ave. and just west of North 4th St.). My cat had been treated two months ago in North Carolina for a snakebite to the neck, but had developed an abcess and was bleeding again. After making a call at 9:00 am, I was able to have him seen at 11:00 am. I didn't have time to make arrangements for my young kids, so I had to bring them with me, and when the staff there saw my situation they brought us all right back to a room and tended to my cat immediately, offering crayons and paper to the kids just as they began to squirm. The folks at Chittenden were thorough in assessing and treating my cat's condition, and spoke clearly and non-patronizingly to me, explaining just what was happening at what I needed to continue to do at home.

In addition to the kid-friendly, attentive atmosphere, I understand that the Chittenden clinic is gay-friendly. No, not to your gay pet, but to gay and lesbian couples that bring in their animals for treatment. They're not so intolerant and square as to give same-sex couples a hard time when they're just trying to take care of their little ones.

This is a big deal for the Short North neighborhood, a place with enough gay and lesbian density to sport a t-shirt with the caption "Fido Has Two Mommies" in a High Street shop window. Whether by design or by feeling, Chittenden has marked out a good LGB-friendly vet reputation.

In sum, I had a great experience at Chittenden and I expect that you will as well, regardless of whether you fit in larger "mainstream" Ohio culture or not.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

The High Street Sexuality Test

Last night was Saturday night, and I put myself on a two-hour walking trip down from 5th Avenue, south to the Cap of restaurants that covers I-670, back north up to 15th Avenue, and then back down to 5th. As I walked the sidewalk and poked around a shop or two or three or four, I was walking past a lot of people, making eye contact with some people and avoiding eye contact with others.

Checking out the stock in the great gay bookshop An Open Book (685 N. High) made me pause and reflect. I had slept with about as many men as women in college, but hadn't really done so for a while. I've been with the same woman for over a decade now, in a steady monogamous relationship. At the same time, on the rare occasions I go, I find I feel at home in a gay bookstore or at a gay bar: I don't hit on anybody, and nobody hits on me. I just go there and feel kind of safe, which is a strange feeling for someone who's been in a relationship with a woman for so long.

With that in mind, I decided to do a little sexuality test as I walked up High street. I decided to (as subtlely as I could) check out men and women alike and pay attention to my reactions. The result: while looking at men was alright, it was kind of boring. Looking at women, on the other hand, I found it difficult to peel my eyes away. The shape, the curve of women's bodies just had a greater attraction to me.

So I guess that means I'm pretty straight now at this point in my life, which makes the comfort of being in gay-friendly places a bit of a mystery to me. If you have any insight into why this might be, I'd love to hear it.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Avoid Apollo's Greek Kitchen Delivery

Apollo's Greek Kitchen has been a disappointment since I moved to the Short North of Columbus this year. I've given it three tries just to be fair. Try #1: I ordered a Gyro Sub in the shop, asked for no mayo and got... loads of mayo, of course. Try #2: My family made an order for delivery: hummos, pita, a gyro and some veggies. They waited sixty minutes for a delivery that they were told would take a half an hour. Try #3: My family and some visitors made an order for delivery: kalamari, hummos, pita, potato wedges, supreme steak sub, regular gyro, chicken gyro, feta and olives plate, and some spanakopita. This time, we waited one hour and forty minutes for delivery. After an hour, we called and were told that the delivery was "already out the door and on its way." It's a five minute drive from Apollo's to our front door.

Apart from service, the quality of Apollo's food leaves much to be desired. The sub rolls have the doughy, unremarkable consistency of Wonder Bread. The kalamari, besides being lukewarm, was unremarkable in flavor and consistency. Although the potato wedges were not soggy, they had little to their flavor other than Lawry's seasoned salt. We were given four or five pitas with which to eat a very small amount of hummos -- not a thimblefull, but not much more. The feta and olive plate were good, but Apollo's preparation of these was minimal: pour some pre-made kalamata olives on a plate, cut up some pre-made feta, and there you go.

I wanted to like Apollo's; that's why I tried their food three times. The operation is small and apparently family-owned, and I thought of them as an underdog operation next door to more corporate-seeming, soulless places such as Blues Barbecue. But the service has been really rotten on a consistent basis, and I just don't have much good to say about the food.

The next place I'll be trying for good Mediterranean near the Short North will be The Happy Greek; I'll get back to you soon about that.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

What God Wants in the Short North

Apparently, God is of a split mind, at least in the Short North. Two pictures I took on 5th and King avenues last month:

"God" sure does have a lot on His mind!