The anthem of my youth was no doubt “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana. As much as my generation wanted to believe we were a tribe of distinct, nonconformist individualists, most of us pretty much shared the same music, clothes and other preferences. In short, we were just like any other generation of young people … only with a different theme.
Our theme could best be summed up as apathy, I guess. We were supposedly slackers who didn’t care about how we looked or what others thought of us. We wore big, oversized clothing and clung to big, oversized ideals that allowed us to pretentiously sit back and just do nothing.
“It’s fun to lose and to pretend/She’s overboard and self-assured/Oh, no, I know a dirty word”
We liked to wait around for who knows what, trying not to be impressed above all else. We passed the time with large doses of self-deprecation and sarcasm.
“I feel stupid and contagious/Here we are now, entertain us”
We were genuinely impressed with our own lack of enthusiasm and were sure our moment in the shade would last forever.
“I’m worse at what I do best/And for this gift I feel blessed/Our little group has always been and always will until the end”
Although we were completely convinced of the contrary, in a way we didn’t really make much sense at all.
“A mulatto, an albino, a mosquito, my libido/Yeah”
I don’t think about my younger years or even “my generation” very often. Aside from bumping into a Pearl Jam song now and then or wondering why people are wearing such skinny jeans, I left most of my alternative, grungy, flannelly, angsty self behind starting around 1994 or so. I’m too busy happily embracing the married, three-kid, minivan-driving suburban life I was supposed to rebel against to realize how much I should be hating myself right about now.
It all came flooding back to me recently, however. I ran across yet another singing, dancing flash mob parading across the Internet and it suddenly hit me: I love this stuff (my Generation X upbringing compels me to use a different word but I will refrain). For all the years of feeling oppressed by gleeful, glitzy, cheesy conformity, I actually now find it very, shall we say, sweet. (That’s not sweet like pure and wholesome; that’s sweet like “sa-weet!”) In fact, it’s oddly liberating.
I could never have even imagined a large group of my peers circa 1992 jubilantly prancing its way through a mall food court, but I cannot begin to express how happy I am that such a thing is almost commonplace nowadays. Mainstream indifference seems to be a thing of the early ’90s past and a general loathing for life itself looks to have died with Kurt Cobain. Teen spirit, team spirit and any other type of spirit just don’t have that buzzkill stigma attached that they once did “back in my day.”
I realize there are some of us still clinging to our apathetic past so firmly that we won’t let it go until someone pries it from our cold, dead hearts. I also realize there will forever be at least small sects of teens and other society members hellbent on convincing the rest of us that they don’t care in the least. By the way, most of them obviously do.
I am overjoyed, however, that my children may be given the cultural opportunity in their teen years to love life in some capacity instead of being peer pressured into thinking of it so dispassionately. Of course, judging from all of the leggings and neon-colored everything at the mall, apathy should be scheduled for its comeback right about the time my children enter adolescence.
“Oh, well, whatever, nevermind”
The good news is that even the most dispassionate among us can eventually exult in things like dancing, prancing, joyous flash mobs if we allow ourselves an open mind and an open heart. Perhaps going through a period of black and white gives us that extra appreciation for life in the full-color, HD version.
“And I forget just why I taste/Oh, yeah, I guess it makes me smile”
Shannon and her husband, Michael, are raising three children in Sylvania. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Archive for November, 2012
The anthem of my youth was no doubt “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana. As much as my generation wanted to believe we were a tribe of distinct, nonconformist individualists, most of us pretty much shared the same music, clothes and other preferences. In short, we were just like any other generation of young people … only with a different theme.
About two decades ago, James “Buster” Douglas pulled off one of the greatest upsets in the history of sports.
No, not his incredible 1990 knockout of Mike Tyson — a fight in which he was such an underdog that many casinos refused to even lay odds. This was an even more lopsided fight: Douglas’ struggle to return to the ring after coming close to death in 1994.
Diagnosed with diabetes in the years following his win over Tyson, the former heavyweight champion of the world nearly died during the three days he was in a diabetic coma. As he recovered, though, he was determined to step into the ring once more.
“It was very comforting, to tell you the truth, man. It was just a thing where I was back in my comfort zone. And that was really helping me make it, make a really strong and speedy recovery,” Douglas said in an interview with Toledo Free Press.
“Without boxing, it would have been a lot more difficult for me. Because dealing with diabetes, you have to be very disciplined. And, you know, getting back into training and getting back into boxing was helpful, because that’s a big part of our sport. It meant even more to me when I got back into it on a serious level, and that really helped me maintain and come through it a lot easier.”
Nowadays, Douglas is all about giving back to the sport which he feels saved his life. He is serving as a spokesman for the Purgatory Fight Series, which will host both boxing and mixed martial arts (MMA) events in Toledo this month.
“It’s great, man. I really feel good about it. You know, it brings back a lot of great memories, from back when I started. Now, I’m on the other end —doing the training, giving the advice and helping out another individual. It’s a really good feeling,” Douglas said.
The pair of Purgatory Fight events kicks off with an evening of MMA on Dec. 7 at the Huntington Center, then an All Pro Boxing card on Dec. 21 at the Grand Plaza Hotel.
“I’m all behind a good organization that’s providing good entertainment and helping young men advance their careers, and that’s what this is all about. You know, just giving back what I got out of it, basically, for me. Helping to see another individual rise to stardom is very rewarding,” Douglas said.
Now that he’s overseeing others as they begin their careers, Douglas said the biggest piece of advice he has to give is simply to gain experience — which is how events like the Purgatory Fight Series can really help a young fighter.
“Early in my career, we were fighting in ballrooms, little [venues] like that where they can hold 400-500 people, places like that. Venues were very scarce where you could go about displaying your abilities and talents. But now, they’ve got these casinos and a lot of different other venues, you know, to showcase their talents before they get to the venues in Las Vegas and Atlantic City,” Douglas said.
“One, it gives them an opportunity to fight. Then, you know, to display their talents. It’s just like a real warm-up, a good warm-up for them for the big show. When you go to the big shows, the crowds are a lot larger, the venues are a lot larger as well. It’s just a good warm-up to where you’ll be kinda used to it once you get up into the big lights, it won’t be such a mind-blowing experience.”
It’s a different world in combat sports now than it was when Douglas first laced up his gloves in the early 1980s. The rise of MMA in the past 10 years has added more options for those looking to break in as a fighter, but Douglas insists that there’s still room for both boxing and MMA. But if MMA had existed way back when, could Douglas see himself heading in that direction?
“No, never, never, ever,” Douglas said emphatically. “I had a high school wrestling coach come up to me and say, ‘Hey, you want to come around?’ I said, ‘Nope!’”
But no matter what a fan’s taste, Douglas hopes Toledoans come out in droves to support the new faces looking to make a name for themselves Dec. 7 and 21.
“I encourage people to support ’em,” Douglas said. “It’s all about support, man, because you can never know how you’ll change a person.”
Few know what it’s like to be the madman, the rad man behind blue paint.
When Chris Smith puts on that customized hue, he feels freedom.
“When you have this sense of otherness about you, it’s kind of like you get permission to do things, especially as a Blue Man Group member,” he said.
“As we’re going through the audience, I’ll just pick someone and I’ll stare at them. I don’t do anything; I’ll just look at them. I’ve done it for 30 seconds where I don’t move and I’m just looking at someone and I’m getting fascinated by someone’s eyelash or ear lobe.
“If I were to do that anywhere, walking down the street, people would definitely call the police. I’m sure of it,” he said and laughed.
It was the interactive nature of the Blue Man Group show that spurred the actor to audition in 2011.
“We, as Blue Men, as performers, are given basically carte blanche to step out and get in your lap, which is an exciting element,” Smith said during a call from a tour stop in Memphis, Tenn. “This is very much audience-centric in the sense that we literally have a piece where we go out and hold a mini-casting session and pull an audience member up on stage and do a 10- to 15-minute piece where we don’t really know where it’s going to go.”
The trio loves it when something odd happens during a performance.
“There’s a part of the show where all the power goes out, and for whatever reason at that point an usher decided to show some people to their seats and we’re out there in the crowd,” Smith recalled. “The lights come back on and suddenly there’s this giant group trying to get to their seats and we’re standing right in front of them.
“Without missing a beat, we just grabbed their tickets and helped them find their seats. In the middle of the show, we all of the sudden turned into Blue Men Ushers, which was fun.”
Fun is what the Blue Man Group brings to its all-ages show. There’s tossing and catching marshmallows.
“I can remember throwing I believe 30 [marshmallows] in one show and somehow got them all in [the catcher’s mouth],” Smith said.
Of course, there’s “Shake Your Euphemism,” a humorous song that features dozens of names for the derrière.
“I think ‘your growing personal following’ is my favorite,” Smith said with a laugh.
And there’ll be artful drumming.
“Paint drumming is all over the place,” he said. “I think what’s really cool about this tour is that we always call it alt-Broadway, because you get these giant spectacles that you’d find at a Vegas or Broadway show and yet you have these off-Broadway, kind of intimate, small-theater-feeling moments.”
The Blue Man Group will perform eight shows from Dec. 4 through Dec. 9 at Stranahan Theater. Ticket prices range from $28 to $73. Showtimes can be viewed at stranahantheater.org.
“I think the best mentality to approach Blue Man with is — it’s a hard thing to explain to people, it’s a hard thing to prime people to know what they’re getting themselves into because it is not like anything else out there,” Smith said. “Ideally, what people will walk away with is a sense of igniting the inner child again.”
Music and Make-A-Wish will be the stars of the show at a CD release party celebrating the “Holiday Wishes 2” benefit CD.
The event is set for 6 p.m. Dec. 5 at The Blarney Event Center, 601 Monroe St.
Many of the local musicians and media personalities featured on the two-disc, 44-track CD will perform. There will also be hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar.
Tickets are $5 for adults. Children 12 and younger are free.
“We hope people will join us to meet the musicians, mingle with the Make-A-Wish families and organizers, and just have a great Christmas party,” said Michael S. Miller, Toledo Free Press editor in chief and the CD’s executive producer. “Last year, we saw Chrys Peterson sing live with Hepcat Revival and Ramona Collins singing Christmas songs with Voodoo Libido. We’re expecting even more jam sessions and surprises this year.”
Music will start around 6:30 p.m., said Greg Tye of Hepcat Revival, who is organizing the performers. Among other performers will be Chrys Peterson with Hepcat Revival, Kerry Patrick Clark, Kyle White, Krystal Monique, The Wanna Bees, The Sanderlings, Skoobie Snaks, Russ Franzen, Steven J. Athanas, Voodoo Libido and more.
“It’s going to be a great selection of talent and we’re trying to mix it in as best we can to make the magic happen that night,” Tye said. “There will probably be some sort of jam component for those artists who might not be able to have their whole group there. They’re all very talented people.”
The two-CD set will be available for $15. CDs are also available at area Panera Bread locations, select Levis Commons stores and as digital downloads.
All parts of the project, from the recording to the mixing to the cover art, were done locally. Because the CD was sponsored by GM Powertrain Toledo, UAW Local 14, WNWO, 101.5 The River, A&D Glass & Mirror, Levis Commons and Panera Bread, proceeds go directly to Make-A-Wish Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana to benefit children in the 21-county Northwest Ohio region.
Last year’s inaugural “Holiday Wishes” CD sold out quickly, raising more than $25,000 for Make-A-Wish.
Make-A-Wish, which grants wishes for children with medically life-threatening conditions, does not receive federal, state or local government funding. Wishes are paid for by donations and donations in kind, including gifted airline miles. The average cost of a wish is $8,000.
“We want to grant the heartfelt wish of every child,” said Emily Denholm, marketing communications coordinator for Make-A-Wish Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. “Every wish is different. We really try to focus on the uniqueness of every wish.”
Tye said he hopes area residents come out to support Make-A-Wish and hear some great local music.
“I hope people walk away with an appreciation for how talented the musicians and performers are here in town and how passionate they are about supporting a good cause,” Tye said. “People will be exposed to some of the premier acts in town. It’s an opportunity to hear someone they may never have heard before. It may be a real ear-opening experience.”
Richard St. Jean doesn’t walk more than a few steps through Hollywood Casino Toledo without pausing to say “Thanks for coming” to a guest or greeting an employee by name.
The general manager has plenty to be cheerful about as the casino, which opened May 29, marks its six-month anniversary. Business is brisk while concerns about increased crime, traffic jams and gambling addictions have largely subsided.
“Early on, we did our best to assure local residents, businesses and government that a lot of what you hear [about casinos] isn’t necessarily true and won’t materialize,” St. Jean said. “[Rossford has had] virtually, no incidences associated with those fears, aside from increased traffic on the Toledo side obviously coming up and down 75. And we’ve heard the same thing from [Toledo Police] Chief [Derrick] Diggs and Mayor Bell, so all of our efforts to educate and inform everyone early on have now been validated by what they are actually seeing on a day-to-day basis. We’re very pleased they feel more comfortable with this neighbor in their backyard.”
Penn National Gaming, which operates the casino, is happy with the property’s performance, St. Jean said.
“We’re obviously very, very excited about our first six months of operation, particularly the volumes,” St. Jean said. “Table games, poker and food and beverage in particular have far exceeded our expectations and slots is actually right around where we expected it would be.”
Gamblers wagered a total of $138.8 million at Toledo’s casino in October, including $124.9 million on slot machines and $13.9 million on table games. Total wagers were down about 9 percent from the $153.1 million wagered in September, which was down about 9 percent from the $168.2 million wagered in August, according to monthly reports from the Ohio Casino Control Commission. Wagers in August were down about 11 percent from the $189.1 million wagered in July, which were down about 12 percent from the $215.2 million wagered in June, the casino’s first full month of operation.
Taxable revenue in October was $14.8 million, down from $15.9 million in September, $17.4 million in August, $19.1 million in July and $20.4 million in June.
“This dip in business month over month as we settle into the fourth quarter of 2012 was absolutely expected and we expect to ramp up as we head into 2013,” St. Jean said. “We looked at what we’ve seen at other grand openings, particularly in the Detroit market, and we’re really following those trends very, very closely.
“We consider ourselves relatively monopolistic in Northwest Ohio. We’re actually pleased to see Detroit has been able to sustain their current business levels and the region is growing organically, so we think it’s a good story for everybody.”
The Michigan Gaming Control Board could not reached for comment.
St. Jean said he is proud Toledo’s casino fulfilled its pledge to hire 90 percent of its workforce locally and to promote from within. So far, 55 team members have been promoted once, six have been promoted twice and two have been promoted three times.
“The enthusiasm we continue to see even after six months is really unparalleled,” St. Jean said. “We’ve got an extremely passionate workforce and I think that carries over to the quality of service we provide.”
More than 222,000 people are Marquee Rewards members at Hollywood Casino Toledo, St. Jean said.
“We’re very pleased with that number, particularly for being open for six months. It’s extraordinary,” he said.
The casino is also exploring adding more entertainment options beyond gaming, such as a riverfront concert series, car show or food and wine festival, said Vice President of Marketing Jason Birney.
“There’s still somewhat of a perception I hear that you must be a gamer to come to the casino, which is far from the truth,” St. Jean said. “We’re really pretty well-rounded and we’re seeing more and more consumers who are just coming for the other amenities, which we are very pleased with as well.”
Director of Food and Beverage Marc Guastella said expectations were high for the casino’s four eateries, but he feels all have delivered.
“We set the bar high and I really feel like we’ve achieved our goals,” Guastella said. “You’re always going to have a few speed bumps when you open and obviously in this business you can never be perfect, but it’s striving for that every single day. We’re getting great comments.”
Guastella hopes Final Cut Steak & Seafood will earn a Forbes four-star rating when the next report is released in spring 2013.
“Four stars is very achievable for us and I’m confident we can achieve that,” Guastella said.
Brenda Schwind, vice president of the Rossford Business Association (RBA), said the casino is a “great partner,” with St. Jean regularly attending meetings, promoting member businesses to employees and offering financial sponsorship.
“Everybody I’ve talked to, even people who were really leery of the casino coming in, are impressed with the facility and I’ve heard nothing but good comments,” said Schwind, of Directions Credit Union. “I think people have been very surprised. They’ve proven to be a very good neighbor.”
Rossford Mayor Neil A. MacKinnon III agreed.
“It’d be hard to find a day you couldn’t find a team member from Penn Gaming in a Rossford business,” MacKinnon said during a recent Rossford City Council meeting. “I’ve been in business quite a while now and I know these guys are sincere and they are for real. I consider them friends and I consider them part of the fabric of the community. Their participation in the RBA has been phenomenal.”
Toledo Mayor Mike Bell also feels the casino is a positive asset, said Public Information Officer Jen Sorgenfrei.
“The revenues are definitely aiding the city budget and they’ve been a good corporate citizen, contributing to local philanthropy and supporting community organizations,” Sorgenfrei said. “They are still finding their equilibrium, but remain a positive asset to the region.”
Crime and police
Eleven people — including a casino employee and an Oregon man — were charged in August with felony offenses related to cheating at Toledo’s casino shortly after it opened. But there hasn’t been the major influx of crime like many feared, said Rossford Police Chief Glenn Goss Sr.
“Whenever you have more people, you’re going to have more issues, but we haven’t had any major incidents that you can point your finger at and say, ‘That’s the casino’s fault,’” Goss said. “It’s still new. We’re still monitoring. We’ll have to wait and see. There could be good and bad down the road, but as far as law enforcement, it hasn’t really affected Rossford directly, which we’re thankful for.”
Penn National recently presented a $200,000 grant to Rossford’s police and fire departments; $70,000 of that has been earmarked for new radios, Goss said.
Penn National also donated more than $12,000 to help Rossford Police create a K9 unit.
“That’s something they didn’t have to do,” Goss said. “They reached out to us. I thought it was neat because that’s just who they are. That’s how they operate. Before, during and after their opening, the Hollywood Casino folks have just been really good people. I keep hearing people call them good neighbors, like a cliché, but truly they are. I think we’re really fortunate to have the casino here.”
Bill McFarland, interim superintendent of Rossford Schools, said the district has had no issues with crime or traffic, as some parents feared.
“We really have seen no effect. We hardly know it’s there’ to be honest with you,” McFarland said.
“The hysteria and paranoia I think has long been forgotten. I think it’s functioning really well and I don’t think it’s having any negative effect on our community at all.”
Larry Eilert, owner of Larry’s Auto Center in Rossford, said he’s pleased with an uptick in business the casino has created.
“I’ve gotten more customers from there, especially the employee side of it,” Eilert said. “There is more traffic —but it’s a good traffic, not a bad traffic. I think restaurants and others have seen a little bit of increase from people coming through with traveling, so I think it’s a positive. Right as of now, I’m very pleased with it.”
Holley Bockelman, who owns Bock’s Place in Rossford with her father Bill Bockelman, said the casino hasn’t helped business as much as they were hoping, but it hasn’t hurt either.
“Really nothing has changed,” Bockelman said. “We thought it would be better. But the people who do come here are faithful. We get some of the casino workers later at night. Very, very seldom the out-of-towners. The locals will sometimes meet here and then go down there for a little gambling, some cocktails, watch a concert and then come back here. So that’s fun.”
Rossford City Councilman Larry Oberdorf Sr. said the casino has proved detractors wrong.
“A lot of people had apprehensions about Penn coming into this community and I think Penn has answered with good qualification all of those apprehensions,” Oberdorf said during a recent Rossford City Council meeting. “We haven’t had the traffic problems we had assumed or any of the other illicit things some people thought would happen. It’s really a professional organization. I’m extremely happy to have them in our locale.”
For more information, visit www.hollywoodcasinotoledo.com.
A delegation of 19 business and civic leaders led by Toledo Mayor Mike Bell, the Regional Growth Partnership (RGP) and 5 Lakes Global Group returned from its latest trip to China on Nov. 21 after promoting Toledo and the Northwest Ohio region.
“It was the best team I’ve ever seen on an overseas mission in 16 years. Everyone was there to promote Toledo and Northwest Ohio. I don’t think there is another city or region in the U.S. that has developed successful relationships in China as Toledo has,” said Paul Zito, vice president of international development for RGP, who made the trip with Dean Monske, president of the economic development organization.
“It was a very good group and they all brought different perspectives from many different industries,” said James Lindsay, president of Louisville Title Agency of Toledo, who made his third trip to China with the Toledo delegation.
“The marketing of the Toledo region throughout all of China by the 5 Lakes Global team with the support of Mayor Bell, the Regional Growth Partnership and members of the Toledo business community has been astonishing,” Lindsay said.
More than 1,000 Chinese companies were exposed to the value of locating in Northwest Ohio and more than 15 strong leads were generated by the delegation. While there, 5 Lakes Global hosted several conferences for Chinese companies at the China Hi-Tech Fair in Shenzhen and at other events in Zhenjiang, Suzhou, Pujiang and Shanghai.
Meetings took place with more than a dozen Chinese companies with an interest in this region. Several of those companies are in the final stages of developing their business plans for the U.S. and plan to visit the Toledo area before the end of the year, Zito said.
Meetings were arranged in Shenzhen with CEOs of large successful businesses who had attended the 5 Lakes Global Economic Forum in Toledo. These business leaders flew in from all parts of China to not only invest in Toledo but to assist in promoting and building Toledo internationally, Lindsay said.
“The best thing we were able to do was to engage our private business community so they could see for themselves the potential in China by working with business people there,” Bell said.
“We’ve made four trips to China so people over there know that we’re serious about doing business with them. We now have the respect of the Chinese business community,” Bell said.
“Mayor Bell was a great presence and leader of the presentations about the region,” Zito said.
“I was very impressed with the mayor’s ability to keep his energy and focus up. He’s very effective in this type of effort to promote the City of Toledo and this region,” said Harlan Reichle, president and CEO of Reichle Klein Group, a commercial real estate brokerage and property management firm in Toledo.
Reichle also serves as chairman of the board of directors for RGP and was interested in seeing firsthand its role in helping bring investment to the region through such international efforts.
“It’s a prudent investment for RGP,” Reichle said.
Reichle said Simon Guo and Scott Prephan of 5 Lakes Global were very organized in planning and orchestrating events and meetings to make the most of the time there.
“They had us working constantly and the delegation worked very hard together. These trips are very worthwhile and something we need to do for our region,” he said.
Reichle said he had conversations with several companies interested in investing in the U.S. and specifically the Toledo area or in locating business operations here. There is a huge potential in both regards, he said.
Will Lucas, a Toledo entrepreneur who made the trip, was impressed with the level of interest in the Toledo region.
“People were excited to learn about our region and they were really passionate about Toledo, its architecture and buildings,” Lucas said.
Lucas said a contact he made in Shanghai was in Ann Arbor recently so they met in Dundee to discuss the possibility of working together. Lucas owns two technology companies — Classana, an educational resource engine, and Creadio, a brand marketing business, that are of interest to the Chinese.
Zito said it takes multiple trips and more than a year to make a difference in an international market such as China. The Toledo delegation has made four trips to China during the past three years to accomplish what it has.
“We now have the resources that can help almost any company do business in China,” Zito said.
Frank Calzonetti, vice president of research and economic development at the University of Toledo, said he appreciated having the opportunity to participate on his first trip to China with the local delegation.
“The trip was extremely well-organized and we went nonstop morning to late evening each day on business-related meetings or internal travel. Each day, we met with leaders from government, industry, academia and economic development organizations that are likely to result in follow-up meetings in Toledo,” Calzonetti wrote in an email he sent while attending a conference out of town.
He said they met with two technology companies that will explore the possibility of opening operations in Toledo. He also met with higher education officials about developing joint programs with UT and with people who were interested in UT for both graduate and undergraduate education.
Others agreed that they were involved in conferences, meetings and other events 14-16 hours every day. The main delegation arrived at the hotel in Shenzhen around 2 a.m. and had to be ready for business beginning at 8:30 that same morning, Zito said.
Louisville Title benefits from trips to China
The Louisville Title Agency has benefited from trips to China, said its president, James Lindsay.
“We have worked hard to become a trusted partner with 5 Lakes Global and have made these visits to China in part to secure the trust of Chinese investors as well as help educate them on the role of the title company in the U.S.,” Lindsay said.
Louisville Title has provided title insurance services for recent Chinese investments in Toledo, including the purchase of the restaurant property at The Docks and Marina District property by Dashing Pacific, the Park Inn Hotel by 5 Lakes Global, and the most recent purchase of the former SeaGate Hotel in Downtown Toledo.
Louisville Title helped close that acquisition for a trust owned by another Chinese investor, Lindsay said. He said they could not name the owner due to the confidentiality of the trust agreement.
Lindsay reported that 5 Lakes Global was involved in getting this investment but not as buyer of the property. The unnamed Chinese investor became interested in the property due to ownership of the Park Inn by 5 Lakes Global.
As a father of four, my biggest struggle as a parent is choosing Northwest Ohio as the place to raise my family. My issue is really simple — what kind of career options will my children have if we continue to call Toledo home? I fully expect my offspring to receive a higher education, locally or wherever their hearts choose. I want them to get jobs in the careers they want, for them to fall in love, have families and to live the American Dream. If we were to move now to a more thriving city, a metropolis with younger professionals, where the population is booming, would I improve my chances of living closer to any potential grandchildren?
How many of you reading this right now are currently planning a trip to see your grandkids? You raised your children right, they got their educations, they started families but had to choose to live in another city so they could work. You worked your ass off at Jeep, sacrificed your body to send your children to college and your reward has been spending your weekends in the car or on a plane just to see your own flesh and blood. I don’t want that life. I want something different and I want this city I love, Toledo, to evolve. I want us to get young again, and to do that we need an economic makeover.
Mayor Mike Bell just returned to Toledo following his fourth trip to China. He was joined by 18 others on a five-city tour of the communist superpower in hopes of bringing jobs back to Toledo. I am not holding my breath for the success of the trip. I love his effort, I love his energy, but both were misspent. I would love to know what the thought process is on trying to convince Chinese investors to move jobs to Toledo, when they pay their workers nearly nothing there. The true result of these trips to China is a ton of private sales of local property to people who live more than 10,000 miles away. We have a hard enough time with slumlords who live in our city, let alone China.
These trips to China are one reason I am considering moving my family away. Instead of focusing our economic future on a land where the average hourly wage in a factory is $1.36, why don’t we aim higher and smarter?
In August 2012, Apple, the maker of iPods, iPhones, etc., was listed as the most valuable company in the world at $621 billion. Of the five largest U.S. companies (based on market capitalization), three are tech-based: Apple, Microsoft and Google. If we want to change the landscape and future of Toledo, we may want to start by changing our focus from China to Silicon Valley in California. Here’s how we can start.
The Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the biggest event in technology, is scheduled for Jan. 8-11 in Las Vegas. More than 156,000 people attended last year, along with nearly every tech company in the world. These four days are used for rolling out prototypes, announcing new lines and looking for great investment opportunities. This is where Toledo needs to be represented. Bell attended a high-tech fair while in China, so why not rent a 100-square-foot booth ($4,200) to introduce the future of the world’s economy to the best place to raise a family?
We need the right marketing approach; we need to brand Toledo. We need to sell to the world what we already know, that Toledo is a wonderful place to call home. Toledo has an affordable cost of living, especially with housing. Investors’ dollars will go further here, which is perfect for startups. We have an airport, with land available nearby and access to the Great Lakes. Two of the state’s most-traveled highways, I-75 and 80/90, intersect in our back yard, perfect for an Amazon hub. We have the empty buildings, the hardest workers, we are 60 miles south of Detroit, 247 miles east of Chicago and we are motivated.
We need this change.
The 1992 Tom Cruise/Nicole Kidman movie “Far and Away” features a scene depicting the Oklahoma land rush. The poignant moment shows settlers with white flags racing across a vast empty land, claiming parcels of property. In the booth at the 2013 CES, we should have hundreds of white flags. We should give our land away in a first ever “Toledo Tech Rush.” Let’s create a plan full of tax abatements and incentives, and show investors how much more money they can make by coming to Toledo.
According to the CES officials I spoke to, no U.S. city has ever marketed themselves this way; we would be a first.
Mayor Bell’s trips to China are mostly ceremonial, similar to the All-America City campaigns former mayor Carty Finkbeiner was so focused on. These trips are media friendly, just not efficient for job creation. The mayor had the right idea, trying to get tech jobs, he just chose the wrong place. Mayor Bell has the right energy and he loves our city. He just needs a better approach — or at least one from this century, let alone this decade.
I really love raising my family here, but if something doesn’t change, I love them enough to move.
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Barry Bonds spent 22 years in Major League Baseball. Over that time he played in 2,986 games, collected 2,935 hits, drove in 1,996 RBI and hit 762 home runs. All Hall of Fame numbers to be sure. They are unanimous first-ballot type numbers.
His name appeared on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time this week. He was the most feared hitter in baseball over the past 50 years, but it is doubtful he will be elected into Cooperstown on his first try.
The use of steroids and performance-enhancing drugs has permanently scarred an otherwise legendary career.
What seems worse is Bonds does not want to address the issue and stays mute. He has become a pariah in baseball and is the 800-pound gorilla in the room that makes everyone uncomfortable.
The question is how long Hall of Fame voters make Bonds wait until he is elected into the elite group of his peers.
Pete Rose’s baseball career was stained by gambling charges. He retired from baseball in 1986. He is not in the Hall of Fame yet and probably will not be enshrined in his lifetime.
Mark McGwire is a contemporary of Bonds and was also tarnished by steroid abuse issue during his career. This will be the seventh year McGwire has been on the Hall of Fame ballot. He received only 19.5 percent of the votes last year; 75 percent is required to gain entry.
Bonds made a ton of money over his career and can live the good life. Even though he has to wait for his name to be called to join the Hall of Fame he can still laugh all the way to the bank.
Other controversial names appearing on the ballot for the first time are Sammy Sosa and Roger Clemens. It will be interesting to see how the voters react to them as well. Like Bonds they have been tainted with the steroid issue.
First timers that may actually have a legitimate chance of gaining entry into the Hall of Fame include Mike Piazza, Curt Schilling, Kenny Lofton and Craig Biggio.
Over the next few years several big-name baseball players that have been connected to steroid use during their careers will appear on the Hall of Fame ballot. The Hall of Fame voters have made their opinion quite clear that steroid abusers do not belong in the Cooperstown with the other greats of baseball.
Junior forward Rian Pearson put forth a career performance Wednesday night to propel the University of Toledo men’s basketball team to an 80-68 victory over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in the Rockets home opener.
The contest was marred by an atrocious 59 combined fouls but Pearson recorded a career-high 30 points in arguably the most complete effort of his collegiate career. The reigning Mid-American Conference Player of the Week hit 6 of 9 shots from the field, including 2 for 2 beyond the arc and 16 of 20 from the charity stripe.
“It’s all about repetition,” Pearson said. “I’ve been in the gym shooting a lot of free throws and three pointers.”
Guarding the Islanders (1-4) leading scorer for much of the game, Pearson added to his stellar night on the defensive end by holding Will Nelson (17.5 ppg coming into the contest), to eight points. Nelson fouled out midway through the second half, minutes after Texas A&M-Corpus Christi’s starting center Nate Maxey was dismissed.
Following the game, UT head coach Tod Kowalczyk made certain to note the considerable improvement in Pearson’s game this season.
“He’s a better basketball player than a year ago,” Kowalczyk said. “He’s shooting the ball a lot better and the fundamentals on his shot have improved.
“Rian is a talented player and he plays both ends. He defends, he rebounds, he can score in the post, he can score on the perimeter, he can score on the dribble and I think he can still get a lot better.”
Kowalczyk, however, also noted an area where the emotionally charged Pearson needs continued growth.
“We still need him to be more mature,” Kowalczyk said. “He’s working on it, I just don’t want the technical fouls. He needs to be more positive.”
Pearson’s scoring effort was aided by sophomore point guard Juice Brown’s 16 points and game-high six assists and junior guard Reese Holliday’s 12 points and team-best eight rebounds.
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi grabbed an early 3-0 lead before Pearson scored UT’s first eight points, giving the Rockets (2-4) an 8-7 lead with under 16 minutes left in the half.
Holliday and senior guard Dominique Buckley then combined for seven points as part of a 10-0 spurt that brought the score to 18-9 near the midway point of the half.
Toledo’s lead swelled to 15 in the closing minutes of the half and the Rockets headed for the locker room with a 44-30 advantage. Pearson scored 18 of his points in the first half on 6 of 8 shooting with two three-pointers.
“We took strong shots in the first half and we did a good job defensively against a talented team,” said UT head coach Tod Kowalczyk. “I’m proud of how we came out, though the second half got uglier with the fouls at both ends.”
The Rockets lead ballooned to 57-35 with under 15 minutes left. The Islanders made a late push to cut UT’s advantage to eight in the closing minutes but it was too little to late and Toledo held on for their second win of the season.
“The second half is hard to evaluate offensively,” Kowalczyk said. “It got ugly because of the foul situation and we missed some really good looks. We got a little bit complacent or got out of our rhythm because of how the game was played.”
Sophomore guard Johnathan Jordan fronted the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi effort with a team-high 22 points while junior guard Joy Williamson added 10 points as the only other Islander to reach double figures in the scoring column.
The Rockets first game at Savage Arena during the 2012-13 campaign marks the only home game of its first nine contests as a result of NCAA penalties for the program’s low Academic Progress Rate under former UT coaches Gene Cross and Stan Joplin.
Toledo hits the court again Saturday, Dec. 1 at Cleveland State. Tip-off against the Vikings is slated for 2 p.m.
During the last several weeks we have heard news outlets and media types telling us that a deal must be struck in Congress during the next five weeks, or else we will surely face economic doom. However, most media outlets and members of Congress fail to address just why this would be so catastrophic. Our opinion is that Congress and the media cannot address the results, because the endgames are too similar.
Those who have reported on it or attempted to influence economic policy have done a great job of marketing this alleged catastrophe. Just the name alone “The Fiscal Cliff” sounds quite daunting and even worrisome. Unfortunately many people have not been properly educated on what exactly the Fiscal Cliff is.
The San Francisco Chronicle had a very well done piece last week that put the broad details of the Fiscal Cliff debate in to plain English. Basically, if Congress cannot reach a budget deal by the end of this year, beginning on January 1st, 2013 the Bush era tax cuts will expire and there will be an automatic budget sequestration, meaning automatic cuts to spending. According to CNN, spending cuts tied to the sequestration include (but are not limited to) the FAA, the military, national parks and other federal services.
How big of an impact are we talking about? USA Today reported that defense spending would be cut by almost 10%, non-defense spending by 8%, entitlements by 7.5% and Medicare providers by 2%. Furthermore, the San Francisco Chronicle reported via the Tax Policy Center that middle income families will pay an average of $2,000 more per year in taxes and many deductions will be phased out. On top of that, an estimated 3.4 million federal workers will lose their jobs. However, amongst all of this, the budget deficit would fall to $200 billion from $1.1 trillion in the span of a decade. You read that correctly; amongst all of these cuts, this Congress and administration still cannot manage to operate in a financially responsible manner.
How do we fix it? What can be done by the end of the year in 5 short weeks so that this catastrophic series of events does not lead to the perfect storm of financial crisis? Let’s think about this logically; Democrats are not going to back down on allowing the Bush era tax cuts to expire. No matter how many studies come out that show their negative impact on middle-income families, they are too heavily invested in their “millionaire and billionaires” talking points to back down now. The middle-class has been sold down the river by this administration; we were all lied to. On the opposite side, Republicans will not back down from spending cuts. While they would rather not cut military spending and see more drastic cuts/reform to entitlements, Democrats did a fantastic job of incorporating military cuts in to negotiations.
We have reached a stalemate. Democrats want to raise taxes without cutting spending to raise revenues and will not budge on tax increases. Republicans want to cut spending without raising taxes to raise revenues and will not budge on spending cuts. If a compromise is not met by the New Year, both will happen. In any logical situation in which a compromise is met, both will happen regardless.
So I ask you, the reader; what’s the point? Why all of the hype? In reality anyone who follows politics knows that whether it is a result of sequestration/tax cuts expiring or compromise prior to 2013, it will be the same result. We elected ourselves into this position, now it is time to play the hand that we were dealt. We have had over 6 months to prepare for this, and we can only hope that everyone else has been able to prepare themselves.
Ben Treece is a 2009 Graduate from the University of Miami (FL), BBA International Finance and Marketing. He is a partner with Treece Investment Advisory Corp (www.TreeceInvestments.com) and a stockbroker licensed with FINRA, working for Treece Financial Services Corp. The above information is the express opinion of Ben Treece and should not be construed as investment advice or used without outside verification.