Friday, September 16, 2011

Over-the-Rhine Hipsters:be the first to see photos from Main St.'s meat market heyday

Hipsters have typically overrun neighborhoods that have been abandoned for decades, especially industrial areas. But somehow, the colony of hipsters who took root in Over-the-Rhine in the past two years think that they "discovered" it, when ten years ago all the Cadillac Ranch-type people flocked there by the thousands every Friday and Saturday night.

On Thursday I succumbed to peer pressure and went to one of those overhyped Vitamin Water music thingies at "1130 Main St.". As I stepped through the front door, my nose was tickled by the lingering stench of a bygone era, and it all came rushing back to me -- This Space Used to Be Bar Cincinnati. Or Maybe Have A Nice Day Cafe. Sure, there was fresh paint on the walls, and some funky (remember when every high camp piece of interior decoration was "funky"?) furniture on loan from Ikea, but more than anything it was the boomy acoustic characteristics of the space that triggered headaches of bar hops past.

Courtesy of Google, I'm able to confirm that the space was in fact Have A Nice Day Cafe. I don't have any photos from that place, but I do have a few pictures from a night at Bar Cincinnati, which was right next door, maybe in the same building. The following photo, from the evening of December 28th, 2002 (I know because it was the night before they blew up Riverfront Stadium, and there are photos of that on the same roll of film), tells you all you need to know about what Main St. used to be about:

Hipsters, I'm Talking to You
Which brings us to the matter of the peculiar strain of under-25 hipsters who can be seen regularly in the neighborhood these days. These people are completely oblivious to the fact that a half dozen meat market bars flourished on Main St. after all the Pete Rose Way bars were demolished in 1997.

A month or so ago, some bicycle hipster, aged about 22, asked me if I "live in the neighborhood". I said no, and he gave me a dismissive look, as if I had first set foot in Over-the-Rhine only in the past two months or so. Fact is, what he and his kind are doing is pretty much as ridiculous as pretending that they discovered Newport-on-the-Levee.

So these hipsters think they have discovered some untouched 19th century neighborhood, when in fact they have discovered the ruins of this:

They gave free drinks to the girls to dance on the bar, just like all the chain bars do:

Bar Cincinnati paid a few midgets to dance every weekend:

I posted this one as a warning to all with image files on backup hard drives...yes they do corrupt over time (look at the bottom strip if you didn't notice it already):

Upon closer inspection, I realized that this photo is not from Bar Cincinnati but rather the Covington Waffle House:

Last but not least, the exterior of Neon's in 1999 or 2000:

Also, somebody out there must have photos from The Warehouse...regrettably I never went there but know people who went there regularly for years. Now the hipsters and yuppies stroll by with no idea what used to occupy 1313 Vine St. (or Club Venus), or how intimidating that area used to be. But they sure have convinced themselves that they know more about OTR than people who were active there 10 and 20 years ago.


  1. You're sour attitude towards "hipsters" is no different from anyone who goes to OTR and says the "problem" is poor people, or black people, or the more wealthy class moving in. You're upset because a "hipster" gave you a weird look? Give me a break! It's this kind of generalizing and sensitivity that has plagued the neighborhood for centuries. So now you're acting just like every white flight German of 100 years ago, and that's how the neighborhood got here in the first place.

  2. Play the "if you make fun of hipsters you're worse than hipsters" card if you wish to embarrass yourself. Let's make this perfectly clear: Hipsters assemble an artistic persona as a show of force, but that show simply advertises their various weaknesses -- especially their gross misunderstanding of the arts. They are deeply confused people.

  3. There aren't any "hipsters" running around claiming to have discovered OTR. It sounds like you're wishing you could be cool and it's not working out for you.
    What's up with all the hatred towards hipsters? Were they mean to you recently when you tried to hit on one of their hot girlfriends? Awww.
    But, that's okay, you can continue to be cynical and hateful towards people you're obviously jealous of and keep writing about them on your hip-blog.

  4. Gary -- if that is your real name, and not your self-given Anglicized Hipster Indian name -- sorry to shatter your idea of what OTR was before your parents gave you money to set up shop there.

  5. Check out Art Works, DAAP, the Art Institute, and the CAC, then get back to me on who is misunderstanding the arts (It's you numb skull). And the only person who should be embarrassed is you, for writing this shit article. Quit being such a little wiener. I'm done reading this garbage.

  6. Thanks for the article. The comments describe a real misunderstanding of the hipster to us outsiders or previous generations.
    I will attempt to define the difference:
    Previous to current hipsterdom, the term 'hipster' was pretty much universally derogatory except during the beat era, from where it started.

    The ensuing generations up until hipsters were involved in 'alternative' or 'underground' culture. Emphasis on the word culture. These cultures were an organic, bottom-up culture, requiring the participants to actively be creating and adding to the culture, in whatever capacity they could. Like a real culture. These cultures had ideas, agendas, lifestyles and aesthetics that came from WITHIN the subculture, not from without..

    Today's hipsters are generally - and I mean generally simply consumers of a prefabricated set of image signifiers designed in corporate boardrooms. What they do come up with themselves tends to be a reconstitution or copycat craze they found on internet hipster aggregator websites. Fashion, cuteness and general hivelike superficiality abound. Invention, individual dynamism, localism (in any sense other than the 'local food' craze) are absent. Hipsterism does not resemble the previous subcultures in any respect and most resembles an extended stay at a high school in a well-to-do California suburb.
    Perhaps that is the core; it appears to be more like an extended store-bought adolescence than a challenging and inventive early adulthood.

  7. So who do you hate, actually? Everybody?

  8. @Akwa Man: One time while at DAAPworks I observed chunks of colorful Jell-o melting atop plywood. Prior to that I had stopped sleeping for 6 months in order to complete my thesis, but CLEARLY this individual had understood the arts on a much deeper level. I can only assume that this artist was also in attendance at the opening of the new Japps.

    Oh, and thanks for getting rid of those poor people who can't afford to live in OTR anymore - one less thing for people to bitch about, eh?

  9. @Bea Arthur: Why would you assume someone who produced poorly conceived art would be at the opening of Japp's? Japp's and Neons are places for everyone to enjoy. I think it's interesting the points Jake is bringing up here, but don't necessarily agree with his judgement of the validity (or lack there of) of the current "youth culture". Do you really think that those people in the pictures posted had any NOTION of the culture that came before them? Give me a break! Japp's is a very thoroughly thought out response to what Over-the-Rhine was, and hopefully what it will become, and anyone who can appreciate those ideas, will find it enjoyable.

  10. I guess I'm a bit older and take a broader perspective of what Main Street "used to be". I remember when the only bars on Main Street was Neons, Japps, Stowes, Westminsters, Local 1207 and Kaldis (diner was there as well) and all of that before the influx of the night clubs that popped up in Stough's buildings. I remember a time when Neons was 25 and up.
    The people today, young and old, are discovering for the first time a new spin on these bars. Neons Unplugged is different from Terry's Neons. Japp's since 1879 is different from Neil Barstowes Japps. It is a discovery of something new because bars are direct reflections of their ownership, which is new, and which I own both of.
    Main Street today was started in large part here at Neons for all of the new residents in OTR. The motivation is driven by being "neighborhood" bars which during the 90's and early 2000's could not be supported by the residents and were forced to reach outside of OTR. We wanted to put forth the best bar we could and as a result are being "discovered" by people of all ages and all neighborhoods. That is a great thing and the only reason that Main Street is doing as well as it is today is because of quality bars by a handfull of risk takers and the people who are willing to support us. I welcome them all.

    Michael Redmond
    NEONS Unplugged
    Japps since 1879

  11. One more thing...

    One phrase stuck out to me more than any other
    "So these hipsters think they have discovered some untouched 19th century neighborhood, when in fact they have discovered the ruins of this:"

    By the time that you took those pictures, Terry Carter had sold Neons to the Godshalls who destroyed it. Neil Barstowe had long since sold Japps which changed hands several times and became a college bar. Westminsters had went from upscale billiards to the complete oposite, Jekyl and Hydes. Local 1207 had become a Harry's, a pizza bar.
    My point is my Main Street was vastly different from your Main Street which is vastly different from todays Main Street. Places change for the better and for the worse but the people coming here today are defining what Main Street is, not discovering what Main Street was.