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GQ Article Makes Cincinnati Seethe

July 8, 1993 GMT

CINCINNATI (AP) _ The latest issue of Gentlemen’s Quarterly portrays the city as intolerant and provincial. Some furious residents are inadvertently making it look right on the mark.

Even before the July issue hit the stands, residents had sharpened their pencils and started venting their outrage over an article calling the city a ″Town Without Pity.″


″So some sleazy magazine that nobody ever heard of is trying to get some notoriety for itself by labeling Cincinnati as the capital of intolerance,″ Henry Williams fumed in a letter to the editor. ″Well, glory hallelujah. Of course we are intolerant - intolerant of evil, crime and corruption, and proud of it.″



″And we just love to be compared with those broad-minded all-American cities which have become hell holes,″ Williams’ letter concludes. ″Cincinnati? Yes, a shining beacon of light and truth. Hail to Cincinnati, the gem of the nation.″

A city trying to shut out the world?

″Cincinnati is not an island as the article suggests,″ wrote Robert Manley, a local lawyer. ″It is not even a place. It is a state of mind.″

And it’s in a familiar frame of mind: arguing over its image.

Excerpts from the article circulated in the local media before the magazine hit the newsstands June 25. Residents didn’t have to read it to know they didn’t like it.

Letters to the editor crackled with indignation. Reporters did person-on- the-street interviews. Editorials blasted the publication.

″Welcome to Cincinnati. That’s typical,″ said Dan Lincoln, a vice president of the convention and visitors’ bureau. ″We always freak out about things before they happen. Then when they happen, it’s not that big of a deal. It’s just like the flying pigs.″

It’s a lot like the flying pigs - 6-foot statues in a bicentennial park that made the city choose sides in an art debate. The pigs went up in 1988, the controversy went away, but the bad image has endured.

That was the start of a series of events that prompted GQ writer Peter Richmond to try to find a common thread.

Since the flying pigs flap, former Cincinnati Reds manager Pete Rose was kicked out of baseball for gambling; Reds owner Marge Schott was suspended for racial slurs; law enforcement authorities prosecuted an art gallery for showing Robert Mapplethorpe’s sexually explicit photographs; and the Ku Klux Klan erected a cross on Fountain Square.


″It’s a model city, Cincinnati,″ the story’s overline says. ″Clean and safe and quiet and repressive and resolved to keep itself that way. Your town aspires to be just like it.″

Richmond, who has visited many times to cover sports events, decided to do the story because he likes the place.

″It was a labor of love,″ Richmond said in a telephone interview Wednesday. ″I really thought this town is too cool not to see what’s going on. ... It takes an outside perspective to see what’s going on.″

Some insiders agree.

″This town is a national joke,″ Jonathan Igney wrote. ″Is this the first time Cincinnatians have found this out? Anyone who has ever traveled understands that Cincinnati is not just intolerant and repressive, but just plain backward.″