Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Urban legacy: soybeans in curbstrips

At first I thought it was just me, but then an acquaintance brought it up.

“What’s happening in New Philadelphia?” he asked. “Doesn’t anyone care anymore?”

He said he believes there has been a gradual decline in the neighborhoods in the vicinity of New Philadelphia High – overgrown yards, broken sidewalks and houses that appear to have been left in disrepair. A friend, he said, spotted soybeans growing in the curb strip of one home. The drought hasn’t stopped the growth of weeds.

I think one could conclude Dover also has its share of deteriorating neighborhoods, which also happen to be in the vicinity of the city’s high school.

I found no evidence in the media of anyone on either city council getting emotional about this. I mean this should make people angry. I’m talking about a “This is my town!” speech.

(Come to think of it, I don’t remember any council member standing up and delivering a blistering speech on council floor about anything.)

I’ll give props to the folks in Dennison, Uhrichsville and other communities who have acknowledged the existence of dilapidated properties and who have pledged to do something about it.

It’s overdue time for our passive leaders in Dover and New Philadelphia to do the same. Only our property values are at stake.

These are good times for owners of TV stations in Ohio.

Political advertising in Ohio’s major TV markets represents millions of dollars of revenue for each station.
Ohioans may not realize it, but most of the country doesn’t get the constant bombardment of political commercials that we do. That’s because, once again, Ohio is the state that could go blue or red on Election Day.

A May 2012 story in USA Today examined the impact of political advertising in Columbus.
“In 2008, Erik Nisbet, an Ohio State communications professor, moved to Columbus from New York, a reliably Democratic state in presidential elections where voters rarely see national political ads,” said the paper.

“At first, he found the barrage of ads fascinating.

“‘I was blown away by the contrast,’ Nisbet said. ‘It was night and day.’

“Four years later, he's come to the conclusion that ‘people tune it out. They all sort of blend together.’”

Even more annoying than the TV commercials are the automated telephone calls, which have prompted at least one household to ignore all incoming calls on the landline. Hopefully, if I’ve won something, they’ll leave a message.

I’ve tuned it out, too. 

So, this weekend I’m scheduled to see Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band in Chicago. I related this fact to a class of 6th-graders a week or so ago. I thought they’d be impressed with my youthfulness and hipness.

I received a lot of blank stares.

“You know,” I said, “the Boss.”

Still nothing.

“My goodness,” I thought. “What’s wrong with these children?”

“Bruce Springsteen,” I repeated.

“The Boss! ‘Born in the USA!’ The Boss!”

It was clear that they do not know who this Bruce Springsteen person is.

I’m officially old.

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