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Lou Pickney's Online Commentary

Two Weeks in Columbus

Wednesday
June 11, 2014

Originally this was going to be titled 50 Hours in Columbus, but the great city where I now live deserves more than a flash-judgment reaction. Besides, I'd been here plenty of times before, but never long enough to truly appreciate how wonderful it is. Not like I do now.

I wrote on Twitter than spending time here felt like playing 15 minutes of Grand Theft Auto V, less the criminal element. You know you've found yourself in a fascinating spot and that you've only scratched the surface on an impressively deep world with plenty of interesting things and surprises to offer.

Part of the reason why Ohio is so key for presidential elections isn't because of the volume of electoral college votes -- it's because the state represents a wide cross-section of the country. And much of it is wrapped in struggle: the rust belt to the north, the coal counties to the south, places with a history of racial strife like Cincinnati. If you can sell your message to that wide range of people, or at least more than half of the state's voters, odds are that your message will resonate in enough places nationwide to give you the victory.

But for all of the problems that might exist elsewhere, here in the middle of Ohio is this wonderful city that, in many ways, manages to avoid being burdened with the types of issues that cause problems elsewhere. Columbus is a quietly progressive location that is thriving. The presence of Ohio State provides it with a perpetual influx of young talent, who in turn generate new ideas and ways of thinking that keep the city ahead of the curve.

In short, Columbus a great place to live. Friendly people, plenty of fun things to do, yet an under-the-radar presence that keep it from being burdened by the trappings of tourism. Outsiders are welcomed -- tens of thousands of college freshman move here every year from across the country -- but it doesn't have to sell you on a postcard image to get by.

In many ways Columbus reminds me of Seattle, and I'm acutely aware that I haven't written a column about my west coast trip, but what can I say: I've been busy. But the positive vibe that made my visit to Seattle so much fun seems to resonate here in many of the same ways.

No cable yet, but that will have to change soon with the World Cup starting tomorrow and American football lurking around the corner. What little down time I've had has been spent watching the Showtime series Dexter on Netflix. I've made it through the first season, and while the show isn't going to challenge for a spot in the top-tier level (Breaking Bad, The Wire, The Sopranos, etc.) it's still a great concept and at moments extremely compelling.

For my Nashville friends, I'll be back next week for my sister's wedding. That should be fun. Leaving for several days so soon after starting a new job isn't ideal, but at least Mary Beth, just like my brother Matt last September, was kind enough to book a wedding outside of sweeps.

Speaking of Nashville, check out this write-up about my friend Cruz Contreras' band, The Black Lillies. They were recently spotlighted in Rolling Stone magazine, and rightfully so. I've known Cruz we were classmates at Father Ryan High School, and I thoroughly enjoy seeing my friends find success, particularly in something they are so passionate about doing. Way to go, Cruz!


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