Monday, August 1, 2011

What does The University of Cincinnati know about partying...or anything else?

UC giveth and UC taketh away. Sure, it has some top programs, and is our city's largest employer, but the place is no fun. UC hasn't been a fun school in a long time, if it ever was, and it lacks a proud alumni culture because of it. The no-fun attitude of UC students and alums is a serious drag on the City of Cincinnati's overall mood, and it's actually gotten worse in the last ten years since the collapse of Short Vine and Calhoun Street nightlife and the influx of more "top" (read: no fun) talent.

Look no further than last Friday's OTR street takeover for yet another example of how Cincinnati doesn't know how to party. This "flash mob", or whatever this blogger chose to call it, appears to have consisted of just 20 or so people. I was in the area at the time and I didn't know anything was happening (then again, once at OU I didn't know people flipped a car in front of my apartment until I woke up around 3:30 the next afternoon).

Whatever that OTR incident was, it was nothing. This is what a typical street takeover looks like in Athens:


Let's get some perspective...
I attended Ohio University, once again named America's #1 Party School, for 3 years. At my previous school, the most kegs I had personally bought for a party was 4, and the most I had seen in one place was 6. So I assumed that they were exaggerating when I heard my first or second weekend there that a pair of houses on Lancaster St. were getting 20 kegs.

Well they did in fact get over 20 kegs, and when I showed up at 10pm
THEY WERE OUT OF BEER. That's right, a few backyards of Bobcats had just consumed beer at a rate of over 100 gallons per hour and the party was over well before midnight.

The stuff of fantasy elsewhere, at OU 20+ keg parties were merely par for the course:
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In the ten or so minutes we muscled through that Lancaster St. crowd (and tripped over empty beer kegs), my buddy Beerwolf managed to meet a girl and brought her along to The Union, where by chance a band was performing as The Stooges. Beerwolf volunteered his new woman's rabbit fur coat to the singer, who bled all over it after cutting himself with a beer bottle ala Iggy Pop. Soon after, my $400 camera was destroyed, and so we are lucky to have this photographic documentation:
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There were many events from that evening which I cannot share with the public, and other frames from that roll of film would disturb the dead, but suffice to say it was one of at least 300 hard partying nights I had at OU, and typical of what could be expected any night of the week in Athens. Stuff this rowdy never happens at UC, and if it does, you're stuck walking home intoxicated through neighborhoods where you just might get your teeth knocked out.

The urban context of UC versus OU...
Despite being in the middle of nowhere, OU is a more functionally urban campus than is UC. Most OU students don't bring a car to school, and the campus has just two or three small parking garages. The City of Athens has just one municipal parking garage. People walk or bike everywhere, and there is a fantastic rails-to-trails bike path that starts on campus and travels 17 miles north to Nelsonville. Pound-for-pound it is a much more interesting bike trail than is our Loveland trail.

Court Street:
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The legendary Ridges stain:
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Where the grass is green and the...
OU girls love to party and there are tons of them. UC girls stand there with their arms crossed and a scowl on their face.

Some fun OU girls at Palmerfest:
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OU versus CCM:
UC is home of a top-ranked music school, but Cincinnati's music scene sucks. This is the town that doesn't believe that James Brown recorded most of his classic hits here. This is the town that never supported The Afghan Whigs.

When I was at OU, there were at least 15 great student bands at all times, a huge number of people who supported local live music, and great venues to see them play. With the disappearance of Sudsy's, Top Cat's, and Ripley's, the only real live music venue (sorry people, Baba Budan's is pretty weak) left within walking distance of UC is Bogart's, which barely has shows anymore.

Athens natives Skeletonwitch, their third show ever...the back of my head's in this video:

Sabbath Sundays:
Casa Neuva was known for playing Black Sabbath records for Sunday brunch. I remember seeing one of my buddies straggle in there around noon one Sunday after we had parted ways around 1:30am the night before. I went and partied somewhere in town, but he took a friend of his to the hospital to get stitches after a brawl in front of The Junction. Then he, the stitched up guy, and a few others drove to Parkersburg at 3am for unknown reasons. At dawn, they decided to visit a steamboat museum, realized it was Sunday so it wouldn't open until the early afternoon, and so climbed over the gangway gate and toured the boat at their leisure (again, more details withheld).

So some Sunday at OU you're drinking at noon while your buddy tell you he just stole the captain's wheel off of an antique steamboat with Fairies Wear Boots playing in the background. At UC you'd be in Panera Bread with some Mickey Mouse Club autotune crap playing and the guy would just be telling you how he spent the night watching his Family Guy Season 4 DVD again.

College Radio:
UC doesn't have a college radio station anymore, but it really never had one at all, since you couldn't pick it up more than a mile or two away. Those of us growing up in Cincinnati never enjoyed the type of energetic college radio stations people in so many other cities did. We did have WAIF, but it was also very low wattage, and I strained to pick it up at my house when I was a kid.

WAIF, of course, is where I first heard the song I stole this post's title from...I wouldn't expect almost any UC student to have heard it.

OU drinking innovations:
The Flambongo and Slap The Bag are both OU innovations:

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I could go on an on...
But I'm not going to. Nobody who went to OU exaggerates or makes stuff up. All that stuff an OU alum tells you really did happen. Pretty much everywhere else is pretty weak by comparison.

OU drums to its own drinker. It doesn't care what the rest of the world thinks about it, and that's how it's able to be and stay a special place. Meanwhile, The University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati generally are obsessed with winning the respect of bigger universities and bigger cities by weakly imitating them.
It's upsetting to see young people here getting hyped up for this or that, since whatever has caught their attention is usually an obvious imitation of something they just read about on some hipster blog.

Update 8:24pm:
Given the controversy this post has generated, I'll write a follow-up in the next week or so.

6 comments:

  1. I shared this link with my OU friends, and they thought it was great. It's funny...every now and then I'll tell someone an OU story, and they look at me like I'm an alien. Like what I'm saying is not even possible.

    It makes me feel like I made the right college choice, and that we should start documenting these memories before we all get too old and they fade away. Future generations must know!

    I just missed the mob on Friday night, so I can't speak firsthand. But I do think maybe you're underestimating it just a little bit -- from what I've heard. I know you're a cynical cat and all....

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  2. Kevin, the internet doesn't let us tell these stories anymore. We can't use real names or get too specific with the details of Halloween 1999. Facial recognition software means you can't post a crowd shot of the 2003 Time Change Riot.

    Chuck Klosterman IV will go down as the last book where someone used the names of kids he grew up around for comedic effect. It came out in 2007...he should have known better.

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  3. Jake, I could get 97x in Clifton pretty well. It took some creative antenna wires but it was possible. That was a constant source of fresh, fantastic music. Now, I feel deprived. RIP WOXY.

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  4. Is that Larry David taking a flambongo?

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  5. Those gallon bags look like they're full of TauBu Wicked Punch - great stuff - 12%abv - just picked some up at the D&D Mart over on West McMicken.

    - Tom Baker

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