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Old 05-07-2013, 07:25 PM
 
Location: San Francisco, CA
4 posts, read 11,004 times
Reputation: 26

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So, I'm a transplant to Cincinnati as of approximately 9 months ago, for a new job (I work in the IT/tech sector for what it's worth). I'll admit that I talked to friends in my previous city (Minneapolis) about the prospect of relocating to Cincinnati and the vast majority of them were advising me against it, for a variety of reasons. I certainly did have my hang ups about it as well, but I visited in the beginning of July last year, figured that I will try and approach anything with an open mind and would give it a shot, since it was worth it (at least from the standpoint of the job offer as it was a step up both in terms of what I'd be doing, as well as the pay).

Fast forward to August/early September, and I found myself in an apartment (and actually made a couple of friends the first day of living here, who live not far from me thanks to getting connected via a friend of mine in Minneapolis) in the Clifton gaslight district. From there, I began to get to know some more people and discovered a few things about Cincinnati that definitely exceeded my expectations, while similarly finding many things that failed my expectations or confirmed what some of my friends had told me about.

First off, the things I like about Cincinnati: I do enjoy Cincinnati chili (though I really wish it wasn't called "chili" because it's not. Maybe more of a "meat sauce"). I think the neighborhoods are "varied" and have a lot of interesting charm, and a lot of interesting architecture, especially in areas like Over-the-Rhine. I think the food is better than where I came from, though there may be less choice in terms of number/variety of restaurants. It's close to a lot of other destinations and the weather is nice (though my allergies would beg to differ in the summer). I feel like it's easy to meet people here (at least for the Midwest; compared to where I came from it's leaps-and-bounds easier to meet people).

That said, I see a few downsides that really get to me. I see cars driving around with "I Love Cincinnati" stickers but the number of people I've met who I think would be accurately described as lovers of Cincinnati I can probably count on two fingers. At the same time, I don't think many people "hate" it either, or at least not enough to want to move elsewhere. I just think there's indifference and a lack of motivation in general to really do anything about it.

I also feel like this carries over into the types of plans people make. A majority of the people I know, it would seem, would rather sit indoors, watch tv, and drink beer (or some variant thereof), rather than do something like go try a new place such as a restaurant, bar, place to visit, go watch a play, go sit in a park and watch the sun set, etc. This is not the experience I've had in other places I've lived, for this reason Cincinnati culture just feels "bland" to me.

Second of all, I continue to be surprised, given the size of the city, the degree of small-town gossip, xenophobia, and general intolerance that goes on, even in neighborhoods that are supposedly "progressive" like Clifton and Northside. Just last week, I was eating lunch at Melt in Northside with a friend (great cafe, by the way), and I hear some lady (she couldn't have been more than mid-30s) very openly talk about how she doesn't like black people, and didn't even try to lower her voice or seem to care that it's obviously going to offend somebody. My friend and I made a very hasty exit, given that we were done eating anyway. This isn't the first time I've experienced something like this here. I don't care how conservative Cincinnati is, it blows me away that race is still an issue for people here. I have even heard some people at work making similar race-related comments (unfortunately there isn't really an HR dept to go to and my boss is one of these people making comments). Beyond that, a ton of adults seem to be hung up on trivial facts like what high school you went to, if you're from around here (why does that even matter?) and there are a lot of silly generalizations like "everything west of I-75 is crappy, don't go there, it's the ghetto" (which I don't agree with, there are a lot of nice places in the west side if people are willing to seek them out). It would seem that a lot of people have a very narrow view of how the world works (e.g. I always say, try going to Detroit and compare to Cincinnati's west side, you won't be saying that anymore).

For the record I am an early 20s, gay, fairly liberal, non-religious, white male. I was warned by some friends that I might feel out of place here; while I don't feel like I have to watch my back constantly for a mob of angry gay-bashers or anything, I do feel like there are a higher-than-average number of people here who I can't really identify with. (Religion seems to be a big sticking point for a lot of people as well; I get weird looks because I am *not* religious, it seems). Not many people seem to match my demographic (well, maybe "early 20s" and "white", beyond that not so much, or at least not all of it).

Anyhow, my career is bringing me to San Francisco in about 5 months, so I'll be leaving soon. I just wanted to share my thoughts with others, maybe someone can change my views and not leave me with a sour view of Cincinnati; or maybe someone can validate my "findings." Let me know what you think.
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Old 05-07-2013, 08:06 PM
 
Location: Philaburbia
31,152 posts, read 57,274,608 times
Reputation: 52008
In my experience (of living in the area for 21 years), I wouldn't say that all of your observations are out of whack or that all of them are correct; the rose-colored glasses crowd (they'll be stopping by shortly) will disagree with me, and with you. And that's OK. Our observations and our experiences are ours alone; if your experience is different from mine, one does not invalidate the other.

Strangely enough, you may find that there are some aspects of Cincinnati that you'll miss after you've moved.

Good luck to you with your move.
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Old 05-07-2013, 08:25 PM
 
864 posts, read 1,196,523 times
Reputation: 310
I can see where the sort of small town mentality could get annoying. I don't think a lot of the residents realize that they live in a major city.

As for the race thing, I'm really sorry you had that experience. I have never personally seen that in Cincinnati, but I don't doubt that it happened. However, I had a very similar experience in Manhattan a few months ago. I think it just goes to show that those opinions vary from person to person, no matter where they live. Just my 2 cents.

Good luck with your future job.
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Old 05-07-2013, 08:56 PM
 
Location: Cambridge, MA
4,730 posts, read 10,929,204 times
Reputation: 6449
In your second-to-last paragraph you described me as I was when I beat feet out of my native Cincinnati "a while back" for the reasons you describe. With family, and friends (including some City-Data folks!), in the area I return 3-5 times a year. And I keep a close eye on things by way of real-estate listings & newspaper and TV Websites.

Little has changed. A friend from childhood lives in the DC area with his family. When I was hosted by them for the inauguration last January he and I had a long conversation about how we'd both go back only because of the major upgrade in housing we could enjoy. (Well, that and if parental health issues called for it.) He railed against the "corrosive conservatism" there, and while I wouldn't take it that far I'm of the same mind. Cincinnati is where much of the collective thoughts are significantly like the ostrich with its head in the sand, loudly opposing any form of government-assisted housing - even low-density Section 8 - and frenziedly agitating against even the abbreviated streetcar line which is finally under construction. Anything involving "those people," not always so euphemistically put, is guaranteed to set off shrieks of protest and even get ballot issues created. One measure of social progress was the passage of a referendum to allow non-discrimination laws affecting GLBT and Appalachian people to be proposed. It's perceived as progress because the vote reversed a previously passed referendum to NOT enable proposal of such laws. By a comfortable majority Ohioans gave the OK to perpetuating marriage inequality. You can lead a full and happy existence in Cincinnati, as long as you "don't act the part" and trot out anachronistic terms to describe the person you share life with - and call certain sections of town home. The need to stay repressed to some degree at all times is what's corrosive.

In more progressive parts of the country the huge reduction in usage of slurs doesn't always reflect a change in attitude. It's actually a consequence of more equitable laws and a prevailing sense of "If I say that I'll sound like an ignorant *******, plus that person's child might be dating one of 'them.'" How the word "Black," or "Gay," or whatever is enunciated reveals how the individual really thinks. Cincinnati can claim to its credit that many of its so-called normal citizens aren't that inhibited. The percentage of haters might not be all that much higher. It's just that with legalized discrimination against some people - bolstered by popular vote - and the social climate leading to these sorts of votes, folks feel they're more licensed to wear their ignorance on their sleeves. All the same, the free slinging of "N-words" and "F-slurs" is always a breath of fresh smog compared to the atmosphere in the big cities on the coasts.

Most of the people in City-Data and on the street who sing the praises of Cincinnati are not only so-called normal, they're transplants. Ever hear of "the zeal of the converted?" Like "born-again Christians" - in no short supply around Da Nati - they extol the virtues of Over-the-Rhine and The Banks. They go on about the local topography, the excellent park system, the world-class zoo, the cultural offerings, etc. All that (to say nothing of the hometown ice creams and, to some, the "chili") is indeed great to experience as a visitor. But no one can eat yuppie waffles in OTR in the morning, go visit the baby giraffe, grab lunch and a Graeter's cone in Clifton, tour the Art Museum and/or Krohn Conservatory and/or Museum Center, knock back some creative cocktails in downtown or OTR or Northside, then savor a fine dinner or fancy burger at any number of places, before taking in a Playhouse in the Park production or CSO/Pops concert, every day.

Couch potatoes are abundant everywhere. That's one thing you can't hold against Cincinnati. Ditto for its parochialism, though nobody can deny that the perpetual question of where you went to high school is taking it to an extreme.

My relationship to the city of my birth and most of my adolescence is decidedly love/hate, with the latter slightly diminished and mellowed but still overriding the former.

San Francisco is a tad bit overrated given its stratospheric housing costs and ongoing gentrification/homogenization. But the change will be a good one for sure.
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Old 05-07-2013, 09:37 PM
 
1,295 posts, read 1,519,013 times
Reputation: 687
goyguy, I think you're wrong about Article 12 or whatever it was. I believe there was a nondiscrimination law passed, but the part about LGBTs was knocked down by referendum. Then a decade later it was reinstated. Now that was a decade ago.

As a gay atheist, I never had trouble finding like-minded folks, and never felt the need to repress anything after I came out at 18.
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Old 05-08-2013, 05:34 AM
 
800 posts, read 696,249 times
Reputation: 552
As a native who moved away for more than 10 years and came back, I agree with the couch potato thing 100%. But it extends further -- a total intellectual laziness by suburbanites. Still, things here are nothing like what goes on in the South, which is where I escaped from.

Here, there is a lot of nice stuff, but natives talk it down. In the South, there is very little nice stuff, but natives truly believe they are the center of the universe.
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Old 05-08-2013, 06:42 AM
 
Location: Philaburbia
31,152 posts, read 57,274,608 times
Reputation: 52008
Quote:
Originally Posted by jmecklenborg View Post
As a native who moved away for more than 10 years and came back, I agree with the couch potato thing 100%. But it extends further -- a total intellectual laziness by suburbanites.
Only suburbanites? Seriously?
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Old 05-08-2013, 06:55 AM
 
Location: Mason, OH
9,259 posts, read 13,358,349 times
Reputation: 1919
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ohiogirl81 View Post
Only suburbanites? Seriously?
Of course, only urbanites know what is good for them and everyone else, and they keep telling the rest of us.
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Old 05-08-2013, 07:00 AM
 
5,639 posts, read 8,748,046 times
Reputation: 2352
Quote:
Originally Posted by jmecklenborg View Post
As a native who moved away for more than 10 years and came back, I agree with the couch potato thing 100%. But it extends further -- a total intellectual laziness by suburbanites. Still, things here are nothing like what goes on in the South, which is where I escaped from.

Here, there is a lot of nice stuff, but natives talk it down. In the South, there is very little nice stuff, but natives truly believe they are the center of the universe.
Try Kansas City on for size. I've never met a more arrogant, self centered and self absorbed bunch of people in my life. Most of the women here think they are God's gift to creation. Ugh. I've lived in ten different states and with my upcoming move to Covington, Kentucky, that will make eleven states in all. While I've only visited the south on a number of occasions I don't believe a blanket statement such as yours truly applies to every single city, town or state in the south. And saying there is very little "nice stuff" makes little sense. What one person may find entertaining can be boring to others. Example: I like snow and cold and being outside in the winter. People in KC are more warm weather oriented. Different folks like different strokes...
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Old 05-08-2013, 07:23 AM
 
Location: Mason, OH
9,259 posts, read 13,358,349 times
Reputation: 1919
CluelessOne... Glad to know you experience with Cincinnati has not been a total disaster.

The points you express are your opinions, which you are entitled to. But many of them are based on experiences where you decided to live, which is part of the urban core. While a very important part of Cincinnati, it is just that - a part, and not a direct reflection of the much larger metro area where the majority of people live and have their life experiences.

One other comment, what you perceive as indifference and lack of motivation may just relate to the fact a large percentage of Cincinnatians are content with their life. We are smart enough to know there is always room for improvement, but also know constant complaints usually result in little change.

Another thing I get a kick out of is non-Cincinnatians preoccupation with the fact we ask someone What school did you go to?, meaning HS. I could care less what university you attended. The HS years are the most impressionable of our entire life. I can still sit down and describe the mannerisms and characteristics of many of my HS teachers, well over 50 years ago. I can barely recall the names of any of my university professors as I remember so many of them were just going through the motions to collect their pay, I recall maybe 2 or 3 out of 5 years who were there to teach.

If you do relocate shortly good luck with your experiences there. The more places you end up bouncing around to you impression of Cincinnati may change.
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