|SIX THINGS YOU DON'T KNOW ABOUT: OHIO.|
|By Frank Smith||
What's round on the ends and hi in the middle? Ohio! -- a state that boasts itself as the Heart of It All. And this is a reasonable claim because, well, geographically, Ohio is positioned around about where America would have a heart, if landmasses had bodily organs. But then using that logic, America might not have much of a brain. Where would it be? New York? No, that's more like shoulder area. Florida? I'll leave it to you, dear reader, to determine what organ Florida would be, but take the state's shape and position as a hint. No, if the North American continent had a brain, it might be somewhere in Canada. Possibly
Alaska. But Ohio, o-hi-o, is truly the heart of it all. But what makes the place so special?
#1. Everyone Wants To Talk Like Us.
Not everyone in Ohio speaks with the midwestern nasal twang. Some do. In the Northern part of the state this is certainly the case. But if you move towards the hillier portion of the state, you hear a lot more about warshing dishes and hunnerd dollar bills, but somewhere in the middle everything levels out into a crisp non-accented cadence that is as clear as the words on this screen. In fact, the Ohio accent is the basis of the accent taught to newscasters. Newscasters on the televisual machine, meaning: the Ohio accent is so bland that you wouldn't even know it if you heard it because there's nothing to hear except the words, man. The words.
#2. Ohio is the Birthplace of Aviation, Got it?
The Wright Brothers were born in Ohio, hence Ohio is the birthplace of aviation. Don't believe what they're saying in North Carolina. Yes, Orville and Wilbur Wright took the Wright Flier for its famous test flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina -- but the Wright Brothers were born in Dayton, Ohio, and they did nearly all of their work on flight here, building wind tunnels and laying down the principles of aeronautics. Kitty Hawk is nothing more than a test site -- the Wright's built and flew the first practical airplane at Huffman Prairie ... in Ohio.
This is why we have Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Wright State University and W.O. Wrights (a popular watering hole), and hence and so forth and so on Ohio is the birthplace of aviation, okay? Does North Carolina have the Air Force Museum where you can see a Star Wars Pod Racer and a B-12 Bomber? No, it does not.
#3. We Use Shoes to Mark Our Turf.
In many cities around the world, it is customary to throw a pair of shoes around a light pole and leave the shoes to dangle there by its laces. This lets other people know that the surrounding area is your "turf." So back off or else face the wraith of a shoeless gang of mimes or baseball players.
This is also a common occurrence in Ohio, but much of the state is what I like to call "subrural". Subrural refers to the areas that are in between the suburbs and the cities where you can drive for a mile in any direction before you hit a housing division or Wendy's (founded in Columbus, Ohio in 1969 by Dave Thomas). So how do Ohio's analog of the Warriors claim their turf when there aren't any light poles to wrap their shoes around?
Overpasses. In the subrural areas of Ohio it's customary to take a pair of shoes and nail them to the railings on overpasses, thus letting all passing motorists that the area is controlled by a gang of bridge trolls. Step off, we're warshing over here.
#4. Three Words: Ohio. Rock. City.
The poet Huey Lewis once declared that "the heart of rock 'n roll is still beating / in Cleveland." It's a semi-accurate statement, but overshadowed by the fact that the heart of rock 'n roll is still beating in each and every one of us.
But it beats hardest in Cleveland, where Alan Freed brought his rock 'n roll radio show to the people and introduced scores of disaffected teens to the rock music, and the rock music was good and it spread throughout the land, and soon everyone was rocking. To commemorate the great city of Cleveland's contribution to rock 'n roll, you can visit the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame, which is on the waterfront and see for your very own eyes John Lennon's report card and Jerry Garcia's final bowel movement which has been preserved for all times in a Mason jar.
Ohio has provided the world with various rockers such as Chrissie Hynde from the Pretenders, Devo (from Akron), Rocket From the Toombs which evolved into Pere Ubu (go Cleveland), Dayton's own Kim and Kelley Deal from the Breeders and the Amps, the late, great Brainiac (also from Dayton) and the phenomenal Guided by Voices led by Robert Pollard a former fourth grade teacher who crafted arena rock songs on four-track recorders in his basement. For such a strangely conservative little state (if you overlook Dennis Kucinich, that is), Ohio really wants to rock, and rock it does. Why is this? Well, there's really very little else to do except get fucked up and listen to music with your friends. And that is the key reason Ohio is such a rocking place: It's Cleveland. There's just not that much else to do.
#5. A Lawn is Not a Lawn Unless it's Full of Plastic Animals.
Ohioans love to decorate their lawns with a variety of ephemera: Stone geese, gnomes (of course, of course), the oft-times offensive lawn jockeys, pink flamingos, tiny windmills, wood cutouts of Bill Watterson's (native of Chagrin Falls, Ohio) cartoon character Calvin urinating on automobile logos, life-size silhouettes of hillbillies with brim hats (these are propped up beside trees, the affect only works at night), political signs, flagpoles, automobiles, giant inflatable snowmen, birdbaths, crystal balls, gargoyles, bathtubs recessed into the earth and retrofitted into fountains, signs that say "made you look", scarecrows, plastic families of deer and Jesus. But wait a second, what's up with the stone geese? And why are they wearing clothes? Why do Ohioans like to dress stone geese to look like Sherlock Holmes? Well, for the very same reason that artisans paint landscapes and horizons on saw blades, because you can. I mean, what else are you gonna do with a stone goose? You want it to get cold or something?
#6. We Have Better Reasons to Hate Michigan Than Just Football.
Ah, Michigan. What is it about Michigan that prompts Ohioans to wear T-shirts that proudly state, "Muck Fichigan"? Is it just that Ohioans enjoy a clever play on words or is it because of the rivalry between the two states' college football teams?
Let it be known that every year during the final game of the Big Ten, between Michigan and Ohio, tensions run high. Ohio State's coach, the unsinkable Woody Hayes, claimed that he hated Michigan so much that he refused to even spend a dime there. And so when Hayes' car ran out of gas just miles from the Ohio border, he pushed the car across state lines so that a Michigan gas station wouldn't profit from him.
But the rivalry didn't begin as a result of college football. No, it began in the nineteenth century when Michigan claimed a piece of land measuring five miles along the Indiana border and eight miles along Lake Erie as its own. The land, dubbed the Toledo Strip, had been surveyed by Ohio at the beginning of its statehood and thusly claimed by Ohio. And yet, in 1835 maps of Michigan Territory began to include a little town named Toledo, Michigan.
Ohioans were perturbed and a militia unit was sent post haste to the Toledo Strip. The Michigan militia followed suit, but no shots were fired. In 1836 Michigan gave up their control of the Toledo Strip to Ohio. Now, its been rumored that Michigan gave up the land solely because a presidential election was coming up and Michigan wanted to be made a state so that its residents could vote. By giving up the Toledo Strip, they'd then gain this right. Regardless, both states' militias stuck around the Toledo Strip until 1837 when Michigan finally realized that it was a hopeless fight and gave up the land for good.
So as you can see, Michigan started it.