It's a "hockadoo!" good time as the Tony Award-winning musical, Memphis, takes to the stage at the Aronoff Center. On their first national tour, this Broadway show is a Southern-style mix of Jersey Boys and Hairspray that delves into the the underground Rhythm & Blues scene in a 1950s Midwest music town.

Photo by Paul Kolnik, Broadway Across America

Huey Calhoun, a Caucasian, out-of-work stock boy, sneaks into the DJ booth while on a tour at a conservative radio station. Inspired by a recent visit to an R&B dance club, he begins spinning records by African-American rock artists, something unheard of on a broadcasting station. An astounding positive response from young listeners gets Huey a full-time gig on the air. Meanwhile, Huey continues to pursue Felicia, an aspiring African-American singer who he met at the club. As the country nears the brink of the Civil Rights Movement, Huey comes to a crossroads when his success in the entertainment business faces off with racism in The South.

Photo by Paul Kolnik, Broadway Across America

Based on the story of Dewey Phillips and Alan Freed, two of the first white DJs to play "Race Music" on the radio, Memphis tells the struggle of African-Americans in The South, and the views on equality in the 1950s. The passionate, upbeat, and soulful music allowed me to eavesdrop on the changing times without creating the feeling of being lectured by the storyline.

Photo by Paul Kolnik, Broadway Across America

The ensemble of powerhouse voices gave the impression that the entire cast had Idina Menzel-like vocals. Both Huey (Bryan Fenkart) and Felicia (Felicia Boswell) as well as supporting characters Delray, Felicia's brother (Horace V. Rogers), their friends Gator (Rhett George) and Bobby (Will Mann), and Mama (Julie Johnson) continuously brought down the house on every number. The walls shook and my eyes began to tear-up, all while wanting to get up and dance in the aisle.

Photo by Paul Kolnik, Broadway Across America

With songs composed by Bon Jovi keyboardist, David Bryan, and choreography by Jersey Boys' Sergio Trujillo, Memphis is a fast-paced, sign of the times musical that is a must-see for any Broadway lover or first-timer alike.

Memphis runs through February 3 at the Aronoff Center. Buy one, get one free tickets available for peformances on January 31 and February 3. Enter promo code:  MEMBOGO


No, no, no. CincyWhimsy is not handing out free spite. 
Wrath  is one of my most recent late night page turners, and the author has been so kind to provide me with a few autographed copies to give away to you all!

To enter, leave a comment on this Facebook post answering the following question:
What did you know about William Goebel before reading this post?
Contest ends February 3, 2013.

Wrath tells the story of William Goebel, a politician from Covington, Kentucky, who was the only Governor ever to be assassinated in office. January 30th marks the anniversary of an unidentified man shooting him on the lawn of the State Capitol in Frankfort in broad daylight.

Not your ordinary Governor, Goebel's lack of social skills and abrasive personality hindered his campaign. He relied on his intellect to garner public support for his platform of railroad regulation and labor causes. His rise to power included a controversial duel with Confederate General John Sanford, passing an election law to stack the odds in his favor, and striding headfirst into a battle with the L&N Railroad monopoly.

Based on a true story that takes place in post Civil War Kentucky, I was fascinated with hearing familiar street names, landmarks, and politicians of the era.  Written with top notch imagery and character development, I keep expecting to see a smug Goebel coming around the corner whenever I walk through Covington.


Our first installment of the Cincinnati Incline Climb begins with the Mt. Adams Incline. Dating from 1876 - 1948, this was the incline that had the longest lifespan and also was the last of the five to be demolished. At the top of the incline was the resort named the Highland House, which at the time, was Cincinnati's most popular tourist attraction. As many as 8,000 visitors could be found drinking in the beer garden on a busy night. An apartment complex, Highland Towers, is currently built on the former land of the Highland House. Its structure was erected using salvaged materials from the demolished incline and resort. Remnants of the stone incline foundation still remain, most notably on the hillside across the street from City View Tavern.

Mt. Adams Incline via

Our day-long hike began at the historical placard for Mt. Adams Incline at 5th and Eggleston Street.  The goal was to climb from the base to the top of each of Cincinnati's five inclines before dark. Along the way, we snapped pictures of the remnants, including stone walls, wooden stringers, concrete with structural imprints, sheave wheels, and even old rail!


Hike Difficulty Level: ★  
Length: 975 feet
Height: 270 feet
Steepness / Grade:

One incline conquered, four more to go!


This weekend, friends and fans of Avtar Gill gathered at Findlay Market to pay tribute to the man Cincinnati affectionately knew as "The Hat Man." A staple at events around town, Gill was known for wearing a colorful, handmade sign fashioned into a hat using a posterboard attached to a ball cap and a Burger King crown.

Avtar Gill
Photo by 5chw4r7z

Guests were invited to create their own handmade hat to wear in a memorial walk through the market. Over 50 people turned out for the event with messages ranging from "Thank You Avtar" to "Support our public libraries."

Photo by Carlton Farmer

I made a sign using one of my tiny hats.
Photo by 5chw4r7z

My friend Maureen being interviewed by the news about her heartfelt Avtar story.
He found himself in a story on Maureen's blog, and then later recognized her in person.
She put Avtar's quote on her hat alongside his picture.
Photo by 5chw4r7z

Youth joined in on the memorial.

Folks from all walks of life were in attendance. In a way, it was reminiscent of the end scene from Big Fish, where a group of strangers gather to share stories about how the deceased positively influenced their lives. Among the crowd were those who knew Gill not only for his hats and public presence, but for his involvement in community organizations. One friend knew Gill for 44 years and spoke about the times they shared. Others mentioned his practice of faith. Born a Sikh, Gill later became a follower of Mahatma Gandhi promoting a peaceful voice and lifestyle, which evolved into an advocacy for the less fortunate.

This man was friends with Avtar since he was 16.

A woman received this stone decorated by Avtar for her 22nd birthday.

Sometimes, a hat says it all.

Another friend of Avtar shares a story.

Councilmember Chris Seelbach noted that "Avtar attended every City Council meeting, but never spoke a word. However, his hats said more than anyone else there."

Shawn Baker explained how he was overseeing an effort to collect Gill's artwork from his residence and create a museum of his legacy, similar to that of Raymond Thunder-Sky.

After sharing memories, the gathering marched through the Markthaus causing an eruption of applause and cheers from vendors and shoppers alike. Avtar Gill was a familiar face at Findlay Market, and the handmade tribute hats worn by guests garnered a wonderful reaction.

Myself, Maureen, and Erin Marie celebrate Avtar.
The Findlay Market employee in the background made a hat too.

Gill's family in Australia were notified of his passing, and arrangements have been made at Avance Funeral Home in Fairfield. A service is expected to take place on Tuesday, January 28 or Wednesday, January 29.

In addition to the Avtar Gill Facebook Page, a Hat Man Movement book project has been created, as well as tee shirts commemorating Cincinnati's Hat Man on


Between 1871 and 1948, Cincinnati was home to an uplifting mode of transportation: the inclined railway. Positioned throughout the seven hills, a total of five inclines were constructed to take residents from the basin to the hilltops providing work, pleasure, and expansion of the city. Resorts were erected at the top of four of the inclines offering both entertainment and libations which attracted locals, tourists, and even Hollywood celebrities.

Mt. Adams Incline via
Price Hill Incline in 1888 via
Mt. Adams Incline via
Bellevue Incline and Bellevue House Resort via

Several factors contributed to the demise of the inclines including Prohibition and the rise in popularity of the automobile. This year, a group of us set out to explore the remnants of the 142-year-old system and climb each of the five hills where the inclines once stood.  Stay tuned during the next few weeks for posts on each incline and what we discovered during our hike.

270 ft. high
29% grade

312 ft. high
35% and 25% grade

We lucked out. The city built a staircase over the former site.

395 ft. high
31% - 42% grade

345 ft. high
35% grade

350 ft. high
44% - 48% grade