Robert Gerard Hunt Stories. Commentary. Endorphins.

16Sep/11Off

Kasich Threatens To Hold Breath

Ohio's strong-willed Republican governor, John R. Kasich, unleashed a new and unprecedented tactic in his ongoing campaign against the repeal of Senate Bill 5, which places severe restrictions on collective bargaining for public employees.

"You don't want to know what will happen if SB5 is repealed," Kasich told an audience of business owners at an event sponsored by the League of Wealthy Citizens on Thursday. "Because if this Issue 2 is defeated, so help me, I will hold my breath until I turn blue. I swear I will. Don't think I don't mean it."

Voters will have the opportunity to decide the fate of SB5 by voting on Issue 2 in November. As worded by the Franklin County Board of Elections, a "no" vote on Issue 2 is a vote to repeal SB5.

19Aug/11Off

Night Of The Hunter

Welcome Back To My Nightmare: Alice Cooper introduces Steve Hunter in Columbus.

It's a great time to be an Alice Cooper fan. Just last November, Alice wrapped up a 16-month world tour dubbed Theatre of Death, an over-the-top theatrical extravaganza propelled by his best band in years. In April, the original Alice Cooper Group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, with a bombastic celebratory box set arriving in the summer. Next month will see the release of Welcome 2 My Nightmare, a conceptual sequel that reunites Alice with legendary producer Bob Ezrin and includes contributions from the ACG as well as veteran solo career collaborators. It would surely be permissible for the rock icon to take the summer off and relax.

But no. Not only has he been canvassing Europe and both North and South America since May, he is doing so under the banner of a new tour called No More Mr. Nice Guy. As the concert filler between Theatre of Death and the forthcoming Welcome 2 My Nightmare tour, it could easily have been a minimally produced affair in which Cooper & Co. make a few bucks off an assortment of greatest hits, and few would have complained. But Alice is firing on all cylinders right now, and his current show is no mere stopgap, as Wednesday's date at the LC Pavilion in Columbus, Ohio proved.

15Jul/11Off

If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Africa

There is something truly disconcerting about a one-ton beast staring down your vehicle from a mere yard away. He stands there, feet planted firmly upon the dirt road and head cocked to one side, his massive horns tilted like a pair of sharpened goalposts set askew after a rowdy collegiate victory, and you are forced to confront your own shallow materialism. Because rather than reacting rationally with a measure of concern for your personal safety, you are instead preoccupied with a silent plea: Please don't hurt my car.

The creature lumbers forward toward your window, which you have left down because you have already become addicted to the thrill of witnessing large animal heads poke into your car in search of grain pellets and carrots. Like a trained dog, that is all this immense quadruped is really after - a treat. Yet he cannot insert his gigantic head very far into your vehicle, as those enormous horns will not allow it. You hear them clatter and scrape against the roof, and as you reach for a carrot, you repeat your prayerful mantra: Please don't hurt my car.

17Dec/10Off

First in Flight

 wrightbrosFirstFlight1

We Ohioans like to claim Wilbur and Orville Wright as our own, and why not?  They began their pioneering aviation work in Dayton, birthplace of Orville and the final resting place for both brothers.  Their Wright Flyer III  was built and flown in Ohio.  We've honored them with the establishment of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and Wright State University.  Still, the fact remains that our favorite aviators were out of state when they achieved their most notable success.  One hundred and seven years ago today, the Wright brothers achieved the first controlled, powered, manned flight near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. 

This is a big deal to North Carolinians, whose license plates bear the slogan, "First in Flight."  I can't blame them for displaying a reverential pride regarding the momentous event that occurred within their borders.  I also appreciate the measures they have taken to preserve the historic site in such pristine condition that it is easy for visitors to visualize the original Wright Flyer skimming the windswept plain of Kill Devil Hills.  But "First in Flight"?  Just remember that it was a pair of Ohio boys who got you there.

3Dec/10Off

Oh, Deer!

OhDeer2

Deer math:  one medium doe + Honda Odyssey + 25mph = $3,749.47

A century is but the blink of an eye on the grand scale of evolutionary adaptation.  Perhaps that is why the white-tailed deer, an animal that has developed a keen instinct for avoiding humans advancing on foot, has not yet recognized the lethal danger of the vehicles its predators drive.  With more than one hundred years of automotive history and the increasing encroachment of civilization upon wildlife, one might think that the dim creatures would have adapted to the threat and learned to flee from approaching cars.  Yet they remain frustratingly oblivious to traffic, so much so that we now refer to anyone who stupidly stares down imminent destruction without attempting escape as "a deer caught in the headlights."

Here in Ohio, where the white-tailed deer is the official State Mammal, tales of near misses and costly collisions with the beasts are quite common.  At an estimated statewide whitetail population of 750,000, there is one deer for every fifteen of Ohio's 11.5 million residents, so it's no surprise that our paths cross frequently.  According to the Ohio Department of Transportation, there were 25,149 "deer-vehicle crashes" in 2009.  Just before 11:00 on a Saturday morning last December, one of those collisions was between a galloping doe and our family's minivan.

1Oct/10Off

Governor Strickland…In The Library…With The Budget Axe

MrAndMrsGovernorRead

Well, at least they provided Ohio's schoolchildren with a great example of irony.

Fifteen months ago, a diverse group of protesters assembled along the north face of the Ohio Statehouse.  We carried signs and made speeches voicing our displeasure over the governor's intention to cut state funding for public libraries by 30% in an attempt to formulate a balanced biennial budget.  The proposed $227 million reduction came on the heels of a 20% funding cut with which libraries were already contending.  With 70% of Ohio's public libraries operating solely on state funding, the overall 50% cut threatened to dramatically reduce library services.

Alas, our impassioned dissent had minimal budgetary impact, if indeed it made any difference at all.  The General Assembly ultimately agreed on a net 30% decrease for the biennial budget, obviously an improvement over the original proposal.  However, so draconian was the initially suggested cut that the whole ordeal had the tainted odor of insincere political maneuvering.  Threaten the populace with an outrageous budget cut, let citizens cry about it on the steps of the Statehouse, and then appear to be responsibly responding to the will of the people by softening the reduction.  Call me cynical, but it doesn't seem much different to me from the negotiating tactics of administrative management, labor unions, and car salesmen.

23Jul/10Off

Turn To The Left

Turn To The Left

All of us have our pet peeves when it comes to driving.  Some motorists are infuriated by tailgating, others cannot stand a slow car in the passing lane, and some object to the high speed at which their fellow drivers pass them.  I share these annoyances and many others, but for whatever reason, the traffic behaviors that irritate me the most seem to be related to left turns.  One of the practices that I dislike is absolutely against the law, another is of questionable legality, and a third is perfectly legal but nonetheless maddening to me. 

I commence my diatribe with the most grievous offense, a traffic violation so blatant that the first time I encountered it I was left slack-jawed in astonishment.  Picture an average intersection with traffic stopped along its north/south axis.  The drivers wait patiently for the light to change.  As you mentally survey the scene, keep your eyes on the southbound car in the left turn lane, which is poised to enter the intersection, wait for oncoming traffic to clear, and turn to the east.  This is the car that will soon do something aggressive, reckless and dangerous.  Let's refer to its driver as Joe Dingus, for the sake of clarity. 

7May/10Off

Welcome Back, My Friends (Again)

EmersonLakeMarquee5

If at first you don't succeed...

Fans of Keith Emerson and Greg Lake can be forgiven for being a little nervous this past Wednesday when an announced 7:30 showtime came and went with no sight of the famous prog rockers.  Sure, it's not unusual at all for rock concerts to start quite late, but those of us squirming restlessly in our seats had been through this once before.  As previously documented, the Emerson/Lake tour had been set to debut in Cleveland on April 1, but the show was abruptly called off at the last second to the consternation of a stunned audience.  The next two dates were canceled as well, and sheepish statements were issued from the boys that vaguely attributed the mishap to unresolved technical issues.  When at last the tour started with a successful date in Annapolis, the next evening's show in Alexandria was canceled due to laryngitis.  Finally the ball got rolling, and our heroes managed to pull of a dozen consecutive performances without incident.  Ticketholders from previously canceled shows were assuaged with rescheduled dates.  Then, on what would have been the duo's thirteenth concert in a row on April 28, Lake's illness forced a cancellation at Colorado Springs.  Before returning to Cleveland, the Emerson/Lake tour continued with a trio of Texas shows.  So, given the tour's 79% success rate, we weren't about to get too excited until we saw the whites of their English eyes.

The minutes passed by, dry ice swirled under the lighting rig, a bottle of water was set in place for Mr. Lake -- all of the things that had happened last time at the Lakewood Civic Auditorium.  As I began to experience an uncomfortable feeling of deja vu and reassured myself that they surely would not cancel a second time, the noticeably thinner audience was getting restless.  My front-row seat at center stage was flanked by three empty seats to my left and three empty seats to my right.  Even some of the people in the VIP orchestra pit seating had apparently taken refunds rather than return.  Someone called out from behind me, "We've waited a month!" Then, just a couple minutes shy of eight o'clock, Keith Emerson and Greg Lake took the stage, and all was forgiven.

2Apr/10Off

Come Inside, The Show’s About To Start…

EmersonLakeMarquee

...guaranteed to blow your head apart...rest assured you'll get your money's worth...

Last night's Lakewood, Ohio concert by Keith Emerson and Greg Lake was the stuff of dreams.  I should know, for as a longtime fan of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, the prog-rock trio has literally appeared in my somnambulistic scenarios no less than three times.  In one ridiculous dream from years ago, they arrived at my house for the purpose of playing a game of Scrabble on my deluxe, $500, Franklin Mint Collector's Edition board.  In another, I sat on a gym floor and watched them perform to hardly anyone from mere feet away.  More recently, I dreamt that I stumbled across ELP playing an outdoor set in a park, and I simply ambled up to the front of the stage.  I suppose hours and hours of listening to Brain Salad Surgery and Tarkus will do that to the sleeping mind.

So when I heard that two-thirds of my favorite band were due to appear in a high school auditorium near Cleveland to kick off an unprecedented series of intimate, semi-unplugged shows, I was intrigued.  It sounded like something I would dream.  I checked the date and was surprised to find that it coincided with the very beginning of my Spring Break;  I could conceivably head up north after school and catch the show.  Then, when I got in on a fan club presale and purchased a single ticket, I was definitely excited.  I would be sitting in the middle of the first row.  Like my actual ELP dreams, this reality was strange, wonderful, and maybe too good to be true.

   
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