I finally got a chance to watch the new Peter Jackson documentary about WWI, “They Shall Not Grow Old.” The film is almost entirely composed of restored BBC footage of the war with voiceover narration by actual WWI veterans. The most impressive part is how elaborately the footage was restored and modernized. Not only was it cleaned up and colorized, but they also fixed the frame rate and speed. This makes the previously jerky 100-year-old footage smooth and natural as a modern HD movie. Since the footage is also silent, Jackson had voice actors read the lips of the soldiers in the footage and dub exactly what they were saying in real life. It’s pretty astounding. The movie itself is a bit slow, especially in the beginning, but it’s effective in bringing the soldier’s stories to life so you can understand how truly awful of an experience WWI was.
If you haven’t seen it yet, check out the trailer.
My favorite neighborhood in Cincinnati is Over-The-Rhine. It’s an urban historic district in the middle of downtown that was settled by German immigrants in the mid-1800s. It was originally located north of a canal that resembled the Rhine River in Germany, so locals described it as being “over the Rhine”. The streets are lined with beautiful 19th century Italianate architecture which makes it feel very much like Greenwich Village in NYC. The city has invested significant money into restoring (and gentrifying) the neighborhood over the last decade and it’s become real hipster hot spot. We recently spent a perfect morning there.
We started off with a light breakfast at Brown Bear Bakery on E. 13th Street. They had an assortment of mouthwatering muffins, cookies, and scones and we sampled a few varieties. They were also baking focaccia bread and it smelled fantastic. The inside was beautifully restored and the staff were super friendly. The drip coffee was probably the best I’ve ever had in Cincinnati and was on par with the better coffee places in San Francisco.
From the window of the Brown Bear Bakery, we had a nice view of Old St. Mary’s Church across 13th street. This is the oldest church in Cincinnati and was opened by German immigrants in 1842. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. We didn’t get a chance to visit, but I’d really like to go inside one day.
After breakfast, we stopped next door at a cool little plant store called Gia & the Blooms and Molly picked up a small heart-shaped succulent for my mom. We later found that Gia had a second location at Findley Market.
After leaving the plant store, we stumbled across Ziegler Park a few blocks away near Pendleton. Named after Cincinnati’s first mayor, David Ziegler, the park had recently been completely renovated with a new swimming pool, playground, basketball courts, and grass field. I’ve never heard of this park before, but it was gorgeous. It was a hot day and we considered coming back later with our suits so we could try out the new pool.
A trip to Over-The-Rhine wouldn’t be complete without a stop at historic Findley Market for some shopping. Opened in 1852, it’s the oldest public market in Ohio. Inside and around the market, you’ll find dozens of vendors selling all types of food including meat and produce. There are also a lot of cute gift shops and merchants that sell things like home decor, and pottery.
This is likely to be one of the only football-related posts you’ll see on this site.
This summer, we visited our friends in Canton, Ohio, which is home to the Football Hall of Fame. By coincidence it happened to be hall of fame induction weekend (or the “enshrinement” as the NFL calls it), so our friends took us down to see the activities. The NFL filled the parking lots outside the hall of fame stadium with fan activities and attractions. It was similar to the Super Bowl Village that was installed on the Embarcadero a few years ago when the Super Bowl was played in San Francisco.
For a non-NFL enthusiast like myself, the HoF fiasco seems a bit like false idol worship and I didn’t find much of interest there beyond the $10 beers. The exception was John Madden’s old “Madden Cruiser” bus that the NFL had on display in the parking lot. As the story goes, John Madden didn’t like to fly so he traveled to all of the games that he announced via this converted greyhound bus. The bus is in its original condition and the interior had the musty smell that you would expect of a 30 year old motorhome. It was a neat automobile time capsule from 1987.
I keep an old school Santa Cruz Rob Roskopp Face skateboard at my parent’s house in Ohio so I’ve always got something to skate when I go back to visit. I originally bought this as a complete setup from good ol’ Zumiez in the mall. I upgraded the wheels from Slimeballs to Spitfire Classics, but otherwise it’s “factory stock.” The board rides fine, but the factory griptape always looked kind of cheap and crappy. The last time I was visiting I had some free time on my hands, so I decided to upgrade it with an old school 80s griptape job.
To accomplish this, I purchased two sheets of griptape – a regular sheet of black Mob Grip and a green colored sheet of Rick and Morty Pickle griptape. I’ve never watched Rick and Morty and really have no idea who the pickle guy is, but the green tape matched the colorway of the board.
I didn’t have much of a plan when I started creating the design, other than I wanted the angles to generally be either 90 or 45 degrees. I started with the green and black strips that extend from the tail across the rear bolts. After that, I just started filling things in. I cut everything with an old pair of scissors and a razor blade. I originally didn’t cover the section across the middle, but I ended up going back and filling it in with the pickle character’s white eyeballs. I cut each eyeball in half and they kind of look like sliced apples now. I call this the green apple board. It kind of has an 80s art deco feel to it, if such a thing exists. Griptape art feels like a lost art form, but I’m here to bring it back.
Transworld Skateboarding magazine announced on Instagram today they will stop publishing the print version of the magazine after 35 years. They will continue with digital projects only.
This is a loss for skateboarding and sad for me personally. Although, I haven’t picked up an issue in decades, I was a diehard Transworld subscriber circa 1989-1992 and it was my window into the world of skateboarding. It also provided me with a glimpse of magical sunny life in Southern California. It’s probably indirectly responsible for my decision to move to California from Ohio after college.
This week was a good week for aging indie rock fans like myself. The National released an excellent new single “You Had Your Soul With You” and announced a new album I Am Easy To Find will be out May 17. The song features vocals from Gail Ann Dorsey, who played with David Bowie. After 7 albums, it’s great to hear them adding new collaborators to keep things sounding fresh and interesting.
Mac DeMarco released a chill new track “Nobody” as well as a weird lizard person video to go along with it. The video was apparently edited by Robert DiNero. The song kind of goes nowhere, but I don’t mind. He has a new album coming out May 10 called Here Comes the Cowboy, which he describes as “my cowboy record.”
Vampire Weekend released two new singles from their upcoming Father of the Bride album which is due out May 3. The first single “Sunflower” has kind of a light jammy-jazzy feel and the second “Big Blue” feels more like classic VW. Both are great.
May is going to be a solid month for new albums.
Edit: Hold up. Just when you thought the best week of dad rock ever couldn’t get any better the Black Keys showed up on Thursday and and released “Lo/Hi,” their first song in 5 years.
As always, you can listen to these songs and more on the Smoothspin Hot 100 Spotify playlist which I update weekly with the best new music out there.
Coffee & Flowers is a new podcast about the National. Their first season is solely focused on dissecting their 2007 album Boxer, which is the best National record ever made (second place is Alligator). While I dearly love the National, even I have to ask the question: Does the world really need a 15-episode podcast dedicated to the National’s Boxer?