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A free agent’s guide to greater Cincinnati

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With Major League Baseball’s free agency officially open, teams have begun making their pitches to prospective players and players have begun scouting locations for a new place to play their baseball. It’s mostly a way for teams to add established talent to their rosters at a premium price, but for the players it is a much more transformational process. These fellas are not only looking for a new team, they are looking to secure their financial futures (and those of their entire families), they are looking for chance to pursue that elusive World Series ring, and they are looking for a new city to call home.

Historically speaking, the Reds haven’t really been big players on the free agent market. But while they haven’t really ever made a big $150 million free agent splash, they are always active at the more reasonable end of the market, adding complementary pieces like relief pitchers and bench bats. The team is likely to make their pitch to a number of players this winter, and with that in mind, I figured it might be a good idea to write them up a helpful guide to the Cincinnati area. Again, they aren’t just signing with a new team, they are moving their families to a new city and starting a new life. So here are some of the lesser-known unique neighborhoods of the Queen City and surrounding areas, some neat places that might not show up on Cincinnati USA’s website, some places you might wanna check out with the kids on a Saturday afternoon, and some places you should probably avoid.

Dog Food North

Dog Food North is a small post-industrial neighborhood just east of St. Bernard. The city is widely known for its rich beer brewing history of course, but 100 years ago the dog food industry was just as important to the local economy and culture. But during the great Kibble Famine of the ‘60s, Alpo and Purina relocated their facilities and the neighborhood lost its anchors. These days, the lingering smell of lightly-microwaved wet food is pervasive, attracting roving bands of stray dogs that fill the streets. The dogs are nice though and most of them will let you pet them.

West LARPington

West LARPington is, obviously, just west of East LARPington. The greater LARPington neighborhood is nestled between the westside suburbs of Bridgetown and Cheviot. This ‘hood is marked by its distinctive LARP culture (or Live-Action Role Playing for those of you who aren’t with it). Area residents celebrate their favorite science-fiction universes by dressing and acting as characters in the stories, punctuated by the annual “May the 4th Be With You” celebration when the entire neighborhood is transformed into the Mos Eisley Cantina from Star Wars: A New Hope. West LARPington is far superior to East LARPington, which is way more into stupid Lord of the Rings fantasy shit.

North by Northwest

This beautiful neighborhood on the east side of Camp Washington is marked by its carefully crafted resemblance to the breathtaking Rome of Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn’s Roman Holiday. Newbies might be quick to point out that Roman Holiday is not North by Northwest and Gregory Peck is not Cary Grant, but that mistake is part of the quaint charm of this little slice of European elegance.

In the 1950s, local businessman and film buff Lawrence Cromlens fell hard for the whimsical Academy Award-winning romantic comedy. It became his passion project to transform his neighborhood (then known simply as East Camp Washington) into the Rome he saw in the movie. To this day, the locals prefer to zip around the streets on Vespas.

But in his romantic zeal, he got himself confused and insisted that what he saw was Alfred Hitchcock’s classic North by Northwest, staring the legendary Cary Grant. This honest and simple mistake (who hasn’t gotten two movies confused before?) has persisted through the decades, and the neighborhood’s name and style and iconography have stuck.

The Grums

Named after the once-ubiquitous grumfish that used to dominate the local waterways, The Grums is a former dumping ground for the late 19th century fishing industry that wiped out the iconic species. Just across the river near Ft Thomas, Kentucky, it sat neglected and festering for nearly 100 years. The mountains of fish skeletons attracted countless stray cats, who can still be seen carrying the skeletons around in their mouths just like in the cartoons. The last ten years have seen a number of efforts to revitalize the neighborhood and shed its disgusting fishgut toilet image, including the opening of a neat museum dedicated to the extinct species and the industry that killed it. But yeah, this place is pretty gross.

Gingerbeard’s Cove

Gingerbeard’s Cove, named for the infamous river pirate who struck fear in the hearts of the city’s early settlers, is nestled in an inlet on the Great Miami River just north of where it meets the Ohio. It is known to be haunted by a bunch of ghost pirates, but the locals are pretty much cool with them. It is a neat place to see around Halloween when they really go all out, but it gets pretty lame pretty quickly when you realize these ghost pirates aren’t going to sword anyone in the guts or start pillaging or anything cool like that. I mean, they opened a themed water park out there, for crying out loud. It has good slides, but come on. A place haunted by ghost pirates sounds way cooler on paper.

Where Greg Lives

Where Greg Lives is pretty okay, actually. Gregory James McCool (that’s his real name seriously) is the kinda guy that everybody knows. He plays in a band and they can jam pretty hard, to be honest. They even write some of their own songs, but they aren’t so stuck up that they won’t play any covers (they do a wicked version of Santeria).

Anyway, Where Greg Lives just got a Dave and Buster’s and there is a Sunoco station that has pretty good hot dogs. You’ll usually be able to find Greg down at Noodle’s where his bassist tends bar and he can sometimes get you free drinks sometimes.

Overall, there isn’t a ton to do Where Greg Lives, I mean, it isn’t Vegas or anything, but there’s some cool places and you can have a pretty good night there.