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City Grade - Columbus, Ohio

Updated on July 18, 2017

Reason to Visit: The Ohio State Buckeyes

Reason to Avoid: The Ohio State Buckeyes

City: Columbus, Ohio

Sometime, long ago, it was decided that a small town in the middle of endless corn fields should become the capital city of Ohio. Thanks to this decision, along with the founding of THE Ohio State University (as to not confuse it with other Ohio State Universities), a worthless collection of buildings destined for a future rust-belt economic collapse turned into one of the few shining beacons in the Midwest. I spent a few years in Columbus and initially hated the place, mostly because people were always screaming “O-H!” at me. I’m not a Buckeye and the blood in my veins is scarlet, not because of a football team but because of physics. I don’t know who Woody Hayes is and don’t really care. That last statement is tantamount to crapping on the entire city.

Yet Columbus has quite a bit to do, even if you don’t care about THE Ohio State. Jack Hannah, that khaki-wearing doofus on the late night programs, has helped to put in place an amazing zoo and waterpark in the city. The Blue Jackets hockey team typically sucks but they have a big cannon in the arena and cheap seats. The University district has plenty to do along with the Short North’s stretch of shops and restaurants. If you’re feeling especially gay, you can swing by German Village, a dichotomy that would surely make Hitler spin in his grave (just don’t park on the street). The Columbus Crew soccer team is usually worth a view and, in the month of May, their stadium turns into a mega-metal mosh pit with the Rock on the Range music festival (where I watched a drunk guy try to jump a railing but he fell over himself and spiked his head on the ground). COSI is engaging for the little ones, if not a million-dollar petri dish.

In spite of all these activities, and unlike cities such as New York, Columbus appears to have adopted a bedtime ordinance of sorts. Come midnight all but two blocks of the city seems to shut down which is kind of mind-boggling as it is a huge college town. The Winking Lizard did everything but push me out with a broom. La Scala cut me off well before that (Jerry Revish, why did you talk them up so highly?!) Even a Buffalo Wild Wings establishment had their waitresses shoveling glasses of water at me along with the check. I can only imagine what the tilted kilt girls do to get you to leave.

Typical display of pride by a Columbus resident.
Typical display of pride by a Columbus resident.

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But nobody cares about drinking or partying because the life force of the city is still THE Ohio State Buckeyes (sorry, Les Wexner). Literally, everybody in the city 1) drives a car bought at the Ricart auto-mall and 2) watches Ohio State football on Saturdays. The Polaris and Easton malls are the only places allowed to be open on the Columbus Sabbath of Buckeye Football Saturday. People do not get married on Saturdays in the fall. They do not have parties or family reunions. They do not have children on Saturdays. They do not die or have funerals on Saturdays. For this day is devoted to Urban Meyer, alone. Even when buying groceries at Kroger, they would get on the loudspeaker and shout “O-H!” at the shoppers. Naturally, the disheveled and unkempt, breast-feeding mother of triplets in the aisle next to me would awake from her coma and scream back “I-O!” before falling back asleep.

I’m serious. This isn’t an understatement. Writing a report of Columbus, Ohio without THE Ohio State Buckeyes wouldn’t fill one side of a note card. Did I already mention the zoo? Oh, yeah. See – there isn’t anything else besides that team and the delicious chocolate snacks named after them. If THE Ohio State closed its doors, Columbus would just fall in on top of itself. A massive sinkhole would swallow everything within I-270 and all you’d be left with is the horse gambling track on the outskirts of town (well, that and whatever they have going on in Lewis Center). Columbus can almost be summed up as the metropolitan equivalent of a Halloween store. It sits vacant and relatively quiet for most of the year but when the leaves begin to change color, BOOM! There it is, again!

If you enjoy a nightlife before bedtime and discussing the incoming Buckeye freshman class with random people, then Columbus is the place for you. Otherwise, drive a few miles around it and you’ll literally never know it exists.

Grade: B+

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