What I Learned This Week: #55

Sunday, June 10 – Saturday, June 16


The Week in Overwrought, Dramatic Tragedy: La Traviata opened the Cincinnati Opera’s 98th season this week. The 1853 Verdi Opera is beloved by opera fans and performed often around the world, a standard story where the lovers are destined to be torn apart culminating in dire results. Read: Death. The CSO Thursday night performance looked to be suffering from some opening night jitters, but by the third act, the stage was smoking as Violetta sang her final arias before dying in Alberto’s arms. The production was beautiful and the audience appreciative. A great start to the 2018 season.


The Week in the Decline of Opera: Sitting in Music Hall for an opera production, you can’t help but notice the audience is quite old, seemingly wealthy, and almost exclusively white. The two, older white ladies sitting next to me weren’t concerned with race or class, but they were sad that younger people weren’t interested in opera, a form of entertainment that has brought them so much joy. Personally, I find it’s tough even to tell non-opera fans that I’m going to an opera with any expectation that they will be interested. Opera is such a niche part of culture, even just saying the title of the opera, La Traviata, causes confusion. Where an opera fan swoons at the mention of the Verdi classic, the uninitiated  don’t know what a Traviata or a Verdi is. It’s disheartening. Operas are long and require an audience member to pay attention. They are made more enjoyable if you do some prep work, like reading a synopsis of the story or listening to highlights from the show on You Tub before you show up at the performance. That is a tough regiment to sell to anyone who’s not already interested.

The Week in The Sacred Beast: The Sacred Beast is a new restaurant in OTR whose menu is as confusing as their concept. Somehow they are marketing themselves as an upscale diner. It does have burgers and late hours. Other than that, calling Sacred Beast a diner is a cruel joke. The extremely limited menu is a mish-mosh of unrelated items. There is not one thing on the menu that would make me say, “Oh gosh, I’m really craving ‘X’ so let’s go to Sacred Beast.” It’s weird, and for such a small menu, if you’re not getting a burger, hard to navigate. Well, even the burger is tough. If you want a diner-esque side with it, like fries, forget about it.

The salmon I ordered would have tasted better if it wasn’t sitting in a 1/4 inch pool of browned, maybe almond, butter. It was a greasy mess, and not served with anything to sop up the butter. Just a terrible dish.

Terrible also extended to their service. They achieved my number one pet peeve of not acknowledging my presence, even though I sat at the small bar, and not one, but two people were doing tasks behind the bar that was just 1/2 full of customers. It’s inexcusable to sit for more than a minute without being acknowledged when the proximity is so close and the bar is not busy. I had planned to have a second glass of wine once I’d finished eating, but by the time my bartender/server made his was back over to me, I was out of time.

Hey! Let’s put a bunch of unrelated foods on a menu and see what happens.
Salmon, as served, nothing to sop up that 1/4 inch pool of butter, and Jesus, what’s with the skimpy lemon wedge?!

The Week in the Revolution: When Revolution Chicken opened a few years ago, they essentially had a variety of rotisserie chicken pita sandwiches and a few sides. It was good but to the owners’ credit, they’ve built on their success. The menu has evolved and they now have short ribs, pork tenderloin, and a burger on the menu. I’ve had a couple of the new options but my favorite is still the Nelson Mandela Chita (a Chicken Pita) with chunks of rotisserie chicken, pepperjack, black beans, corn chips, cilantro, and tomato chipotle ranch. I get it served over greens and it’s delicious.

Enjoying a double IPA and some World Cup while waiting for my to-go order of the Nelson Mandela over greens.

The Week in Otis: At Washington Park on Saturday, I threw down my blanket and started eating my salad, when a man sitting about 15 feet away started up a conversation. He had been sitting with another guy who then go up and left as I was sitting down. The conversation started when the man who stayed, Otis, started bitching about the dude who just left. Otis had a lot to say say about how awful the man was. It was obvious he wanted to say a lot more and he sensed he had an audience.  He made his way to my blanket to talk about that and more, including, and not terribly surprising, a whole host of inappropriate comments for a man to say to an unfamiliar woman.

It is the smart and right thing to shut down a conversation when a man inappropriately suggests sexual activity. But I took a look around me, a look at Otis, and felt like I was safe, and I  just wanted to hear what he had to say. He talked about gentrification, drinking beer, being an OG, and being there for his grown up daughter who teaches middle school in Dayton. He talked about his health and how he just wanted to work and drink some beer. We’d just be talking about any given topic, and he’d turn it to sex. Anyway, we talked for a while and I’m glad I stuck around. Sometimes people in the park are just lonely. They may not say what I’d have them say or say it in a way I’d like but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a need to be heard. In that setting, he was harmless, a little gross, but also funny and sweet. While I think it’s important to be careful and weary, it’s important to balance that with respect.



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