Tuesday, February 16, 2010

To Whom It May Concern

Dear Vanity Fair letters@vf.com,

I am sorry if the words or letters in this note to you are a bit jumbled, I am trying to type this missive on a sticky keyboard - a keyboard that is sticky only after I spewed the contents of my nonfat, vanilla latte.

I am not in the habit of spewing, but it was a Pavlovian reaction of which I could not help, for it was inspired by one of the articles in your February issue.

Upon reading said piece, it's apparent your writers and editorial staff are in the habit of spewing, and that is an utter shame.

A. A. Gill's Roll Over, Charles Darwin! rag is a complete disrespect to the art and ethics of journalism, if for no other reason than the writer's first sentence.

"It’s not in the nature of stoic Cincinnatians to boast, which is fortunate, really, for they have meager pickings to boast about."

Really. You don't say...

It was a statement that impeded my ability to press on to the writer's review of the Creation Museum (which is completely disregarded and ignored by a good portion of the population in Cincinnati).

But you know what? You're right.

We don't have a single thing to brag about. This coming weekend, hundreds of people will converge on Cincinnati's Contemporary Arts Center (b.t.w., the nation's first ever structure designed by the internationally acclaimed architect Zaha Hadid) for an opening of renowned street artist Shepard Fairey's first museum retrospective. Surely you've heard of him, right? Does this refresh your memory?

(P.S. Since you all clearly don't research what you read and/or write, Shepard Fairey is not the gentleman pictured in the piece. That is President Barack Obama. Fairey is the genius who created this instantly recognizable work).

I'll be at Friday night's opening and hope to meet Fairey personally, so I don't really have time to dig up something and appropriately brag to you about Cincinnati. But I'll be happy to share with you what Fairey discovers about the Queen City when he installs a variety of semi-permanent murals around our city this week and in May.

Regarding food, you're right again. We don't really have a damn thing to brag about. Yes, our best acclaimed restaurant closed its doors a few years ago (as the nation's longest running five-star restaurant at 41 years), but we still have other restaurants to rival some of the nation's finest dining rooms. Case in point: I ate at Boca, arguably Cincinnati's best restaurant, just days before dining at Chez Panisse in San Francisco. Again, since you all don't have a solid perspective or reference on things, I should point out that Chez Panisse is Alice Waters' restaurant and regarded as one of the best restaurants on the West Coast.

There. That's probably someplace you've heard of. The West Coast. I know it's hard keeping the rest of Flyover Country straight.


On both evenings, my dining partner and I shared sentiments leading to this conclusion: Boca is miles better than Chez Panisse. And yes, while we are both from the sticks of Cincinnati, I guess it is good perspective for me to offer that my dining partner and I have dined around the globe - in highfalutin' places like Paris and London and Amsterdam and Rome and you. name. it.

So, even though we have lots of worldly experience, I guess it doesn't give us the right or opportunity to brag about Cincinnati. And you're right - we sure as hell wouldn't be able to find a single thing to brag about close to home.

One final thing that I guess Cincinnati has no right to brag about or celebrate:

The good people of Greater Cincinnati have created a long lasting tradition of charitable giving, and collectively they're some of the most generous donors in the nation. I guess I should tell you that I work for a major (read: $63 million in LOCAL contributions annually) non-profit organization. Ours is an organization that has sister offices in cities large and small across the country. We are proud to say that, while Cincinnati ranks 32 in media market size, our metro ranks fourth in the nation for per capita charitable giving.

Fourth in the nation. How 'bout them apples?

But you're right. Millions (and I mean millions) in charitable giving is really, uh, what did your article say?

Oh, yes. "Meager pickings."

We don't have a goddam thing to brag about, indeed.

Thanks for taking the time to read this letter. I hope you enjoyed my spewing as much as I enjoyed yours.

Next time A. A. wants to visit Cincinnati, have him hit me up. I think we could find a few great places to show off. Hell, the New York Times had a great visit here last summer.


PS: The Scotsman that he is, please tell A. A. I'd put Cincinnati up against Edinburgh any day of the week. I've been there - and I did a hell of a lot more than see the airport and some whacked out museum.

Creative Commons License


Travis said...

When I read this, I was so angry I spat out my corncob pipe, threw my straw hat on the ground, stomped on it with my bare foot, and screamed, "Dagnabbit, durn Yankee city folk!"

From his descriptions, we're all overweight hicks, and Amish here.

Perhaps next time he could hit the Cincinnati Zoo, which has 2 of the top 25 zoo exhibits in the country, and is usually ranked in the top 5 zoos nationwide. That's just if we're going to compare apples-to-apples with educational entertainment attractions.

Thanks for the letter. Glad I wasn't the only one uncomfortable with a Creation "Museum", but also annoyed with this article.

Unknown said...

Kate -- if I want to know what is hot and happening in Cincinnati I know all I have to do is read your blog or catch up on your tweets! You rock!

Kevin LeMaster said...

Solid. I hope this letter reaches the right people.

Anonymous said...

Well put Kate. I hope this gets some attention.

ShannanB said...

Well said Kate.

Joanne Maly-Lincoln Maly Marketing said...

Kate, you said it best. I would have been too nice - and really - you spoke for the rest of us. And... thanks for bringing this "hogwash" to our attention. (see, eye cin tawlk' 'n speill lyke th' backwuuds folkz theh theenk wee r.)

Unknown said...

And now I know why Kate is great. Thanks for saying what so many of us were thinking.

The New Chum said...

That! Is a complete farce! And really quite a laugh to read what a magazine who knows so little has to say about this fair city of Cincinnati. Well said, Kate! I give you a high five with a little fist bump. Makes me all the more proud to be a Cincinnatian!

Linda Averbeck said...

Great post Kate. And the thing is, you barely scratched the surface or all the things we (don't) have to brag about.

What's In My Yard? said...

Great comeback. Thank god you are not from Celeveland, if you were I may not be able to agree with you. just kidding. You have to understand I am from Pittsburgh. HA HA

Dave B said...

Get 'em, Kate!

Mae Rae said...

Unreal! Go Get Them! very well put!

Kilgore said...

Sorry, I'm not from the area but as a Kansan I can guarantee that Cincinnati has more to offer than the podunk town I'm from. I'm just jealous that you got to go to a Sheppard Fairey opening.

cinti jack said...

Get a life or take your own, A.A.

Zach B. said...

This is just fantastic. I've read and heard so many slights towards Cincinnati and the Midwest in general coming from big-city media for so long that enough is enough!

As a music writer covering the local scene, I've witnessed heavily hyped national acts come into town and get smoked by Cincinnati bands with regularity. It is a joy to behold.

I've been saying for almost a year that 2010 is the year Cincinnati takes over. There's too much excitement, passion, fire, and talent around here to go ignored for much longer. This is the shot across the bow. Thanks for speaking up!

Zach B.
Random Old Records Blog

Anonymous said...

First, you should be the one writing for Vanity Fair. Second, I'm not sure why there are so many bitter journalists in this country and why most of them seem to be based on the West coast, as if they moved there to become famous screenwriters and failed. Vanity Fair has gone downhill since they lost Dominick Dunne, the only reason I started reading it. Now its pages are filled with socialites, parties and frivolity, in fact I lost many brain cells while reading an article last night about a bunch of spoiled rich kids who were breaking into other spoiled rich kids' houses. Oh, and that Tiger cover? A lazy way to up sales? It was gross and he has a muffin top. Miss you Dominick, and goodbye Vanity Fair, your title suits you now.

gonz said...

Thank you, Kate, for putting that half-baked, poor man's H.L. Mencken in his place. Charles Pierce did a nice summation of the Creationism "Museum" in 'Idiot America' and did it without insulting Cincinnati.

ez cheese said...

Kate, you are so bad ass it is incredible. I might not agree with what the Creation Museum has to say but I DAMN sure agree with your defense of this city. I am a transplant from Milwaukee, WI and I proudly call this city home these days.

One thing I think you could add to this article is King Records. A.A. obviously spends his time listening to Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Bros because if he was a student of good music he would know you never hate on a city who brought the world great music like Cincinnati and King Records did.

mcnichols9@gmail.com if you care to to discuss further.

Oh and I learned this all at a fine CINCINNATI institution named Xavier University.

This idiot needs to do some research, as you say. Damn good article Kate.

margaretm said...

Hear hear! Well said, and I'm glad you said it.

McEwan said...

Have you seen his response to the criticism about the article?

What an asshole

TGirsch said...

I'm a little late to the party and am just getting to all this now, but I have to fully endorse McEwan's objective assessment.

That said, Gill's a shameless attention whore who feeds off this stuff, and actively does his best to provoke just the sort of response you've given him. Better to ignore him and let him vanish into pithy obscurity than to dignify him with a response.