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Opening Volley

April 17, 1964: Jerri Mock becomes the first woman to complete a solo flight around the world – from Columbus to Columbus. July 13, 1978: Walter Poenisch becomes the first person to swim from Florida to Cuba. May 8, 2014: Travis Hoewischer redefines Midwestern adventure for a new generation by making it to the end [...]
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April 17, 1964: Jerri Mock becomes the first woman to complete a solo flight around the world – from Columbus to Columbus.

July 13, 1978: Walter Poenisch becomes the first person to swim from Florida to Cuba.

May 8, 2014: Travis Hoewischer redefines Midwestern adventure for a new generation by making it to the end of a leisurely zipline tour without pooping himself.

 

I f*cking hate heights.

This anxiety has been bequeathed to me by my father, who once accidentally took the elevator to the top floor of the replica Eiffel Tower at Kings Island and then suctioned himself to the inner edge like Luke Skywalker clinging to that Cloud City bridge.

I don’t find it necessary to audibilize this to my cohorts on this Thursday afternoon at ZipZone, within historic Camp Mary Orton. They made reservations with their credit cards, got off work early, and drove through U.S. 23 traffic to unknowingly skip around in my living nightmare, so I feel it’s best to leave them be.

If any of them knew what was really going through my head as we all shared what felt like a picnic tabletop stapled to a 40-foot-high wobbly spruce, they would have had a dozen roses, a bucket of champagne, and a burlap sack full of Percosets waiting when I finally touched down.

Why did I do it?

That’s in italics to indicate the dramatic press conference I was holding in my brain, already commemorating my harrowing journey through an activity popular at youth church camps.

The real answer to that fictional inquiry is two-fold.

For one, I was guided/goaded on this day by (614) Executive Editor David S. Lewis, a man who fondly recalls serenely firing a pistol into the eye of Hurricane Katrina, now the gleeful escort for a fat bald Ewok in cargo shorts trying to conquer his fear.

Or, at the very least, trying to re-prioritize his fear. Apparently Crippling Anxiety and Control Phobia is trumped by Being Called Out by a Colleague; Lewis readily committed me to my fate with a rather simple, strategic e-mail to the great people at ZipZone:

 

“…copied on this e-mail is our editor-in-chief Travis Hoewischer, who is afraid…”

 

Goddamn it.

Not only was it effective, but on-point. Those words could easily be copied and pasted onto my tombstone. Perhaps a touch underdeveloped as an epitaph, but “Travis Hoewischer, 1979-2014; Editor, Afraid” would be stingingly accurate.

It worked. I had to spend most of the day just gearing up for what I mistakenly thought would be a quick huzzah through the trees and then back down to my beloved ground. Nope. What it really was: an hour-and-a-half “canopy tour” (page 106) that shows you a sprawling treetop view of one of the most breathtaking parcels of land in Central Ohio, as well as a glimpse into the soul of a man in full-blown panic. I essentially committed to something that involved several things I loathe (going fast, being off the ground, guided tours, doing anything for more than an hour), and my reward was a mother and her college-age son getting to witness me sink my adorable Ewok claws into the bark of several majestic trees.

There was a quiet victory in not flaking. Well, quiet and sweaty, but still. By the time we made it to the fifth platform, I reached a fairly surprising moment of peace, where for the first time in a long time, I had almost nothing going through my mind. No anxiety, no thoughts about the magazine. Not even what I would write in this space. I zipped down to the ground with a triumphant 18-second-long “MOTHAFUHKA!!!!!!” and that was that.

A week later, it occurred to me why it was so personally satisfying, and why I didn’t chicken out: there are so many ballsy people in my life – and in this magazine – and I wanted to think like they did for a second. Christ, my girlfriend packed up her whole life and moved to Ecuador for three years with cero to her name, where she even bungee jumped with only a bike helmet for safety. I looked at Coyote Peterson (page 108), who snagged a dream gig as an animal adventurer by hopping into a bunch of murky water and yanking out little dinosaurs. Or how about Twink Starr? That dude wasn’t scared of Nazis or homophobes. If I can even charge though a little bit of discomfort, give a little bit of the finger to the stuff that slows me down, then hell yes.

And look at me now! Why, I bet I could cling to the back of a large strong man riding a motorcycle for up to six city blocks with confidence. Thanks, ZipZone!

Would I do it again?

Sure!

(Maybe…how long is it again?)

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Govt & Politics

OP-ED: Heartbeat Bill will likely affect 11yo Ohio rape victim

Caitlin Horwatt

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The passage of Ohio’s recent “heartbeat bill,” signed by Governor DeWine, marks a massive and distressing win in the conservative quest to outright ban abortion. All parties supporting the bill—from DeWine to legislators and lobbyists—are well aware that the action will be blocked by courts as they uphold Roe v. Wade, which protects the right to abortion until 24 weeks gestation. We should be frightened as we explore whether their big picture goal is to get Roe v. Wade overturned by the decidedly conservative Court.

By banning abortion after a heartbeat is detected, the law prohibits abortion as early as eight weeks, well before many women know they are pregnant. Add in the already mandatory twenty-four hour waiting period between first appointment and procedure, and the likelihood of legal abortion for even a pregnancy detected early seems slim. The law is an blatant attempt to ban women’s right to choose.

The Guttmacher Institute found that ​1 in 4 women​ has had an abortion before age 45. The Pew Research Center found that ​58% of Americans support legal abortion ​in all or most cases, with polarizing views against abortion coming mostly from Republican and religious Americans. These statistics fail to depict, though, how traumatic the impact can be for women forced to carry a child to term when she does not have the means or support to do so. The law is meant to protect the fetus at a term that is far earlier than the 22 to 24 weeks at which it is viable, all at the cost of the mother.

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The bill notably does not give exceptions for cases of rape and incest, only allowing exceptions for medical necessity to save the mother’s life. This means an ​11 year-old rape victim from Massillon​ will likely have to carry her rapist’s baby to term.

Heartbeat bills do not ban abortion; they ban legal abortion. I think of a sign I saw during the 2017 Women’s March: a metal coat hanger with the words “WE WON’T GO BACK” scrawled below. The passage of this recent law achingly raises questions of whether or not we will go back.

Women who now find themselves pregnant could have their lives forever changed. Even if they choose to surrender the baby after birth, the cost of a pregnancy is astronomical and healthcare is far from a certainty in this country. If the pregnancy was caused by rape, the potential for trauma only escalates. Women will have few places to turn, with the most vulnerable unable to seek safe healthcare and the potential high for maternal deaths as part of botched abortions.

The ACLU and other organizations are already moving to challenge the ban in court. I can’t shake the looming feeling that these challenges will only play into the hands of those anti-abortion supporters, and that we may be entering the most important fight of our generation in this fight for a woman’s right to choose.

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Govt & Politics

OP-ED: ‘Red flag’ is far cry from where Ohio gun law should be

Joanne Strasser

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Last weekend, a man entered a synagogue in Poway, California armed with a rifle. The Washington Post reports that prior to him entering the place of worship, the accused shooter wrote a 7-page letter about his hatred for Jewish people. He believed killing them would “glorify God.” Below is an op-ed from one Columbus mother who believes Ohio should be taking a stronger stance against guns following of the Poway tragedy.

Even in light of this past weekend’s synagogue shooting, DeWine is still unwilling to change Ohio’s gun laws. He is, however, advocating for Ohio to pass a red flag law, which would allow law enforcement to seize guns from individuals deemed a societal risk.

This isn’t the first time the red flag law was floated in the Ohio Legislature.  In the wake of last year’s Parkland High School shooting in Florida, former Gov. Kasich backed the proposed law, which ultimately failed to gain support.

Opposition to the legislation stems from Republican lawmakers’ belief that it infringes on the constitution rights to bear arms and proper due process of law. However, 14 other states have already implemented the red flag law.

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Moms Demand Action, a national gun control organization, notes that 42% of attackers exhibit warning signs before shootings occur. And although this legislation would only be a small step in the right direction, it could help save lives.

But ultimately, statistics don’t matter to politicians, who are dependent on dollars from the gun lobby.  And until our elected officials decide that Ohioans‘ safety comes first, any measure, regardless of how small and sensible, will fail. 

Ohio Republicans need to take a long hard look at their agenda and ask themselves if it truly serves our needs. Which is more important: our children feeling safe at school or campaign contributions? 

The red flag law is a common-sense measure, and while it’s a far cry from where Ohio gun restriction needs to be, it’s certainly a start.

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Food & Drink

Review: New tasting menu at Veritas offers uniquely special experience

Regina Fox

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On a warm and windy day in April, after bringing everyone in the (614) the 4-11, I had the immense pleasure of enjoying taste profiles, textures, and pairings unlike anything else I’ve experienced in all my 24 years.

The scene: Veritas.
The food: Josh Dalton’s new Chef’s Tasting Menu

As Columbus’ only exclusively tasting menu experience, Veritas takes all the guesswork out of ordering and puts all its confidence into a small, meticulously-crafted, multi-course menu. Never having experienced a tasting menu before, I didn’t know what to expect, but having read a great deal about Veritas prior to my visit, my expectations were high.

Boy, did they deliver.

My guest and I were seated front and center at a table with a view of the pristine kitchen. Hm, dinner and a show, I thought as I met eyes with a man wearing a white chefs coat through the glass. We both smiled. I was excitedly nervous! Veritas was tastefully decorated, lit lowly, and populated by middle aged people wearing mostly business formal attire who, I guessed, were fluent in the language and etiquette of tasting menus. I spun my nose ring nervously.

Then, our host Mitch approached us and put my nerves at ease. He delivered two Snapdragon cocktails (Junmai sake-based and gorgeous) and warmly welcomed us to Veritas.

Our snacks would be right out, Mitch said. But, the snacks we got weren’t like any Fritos or Rice Krispy treats I’d had before. Three bite-sized goodies spaced out evenly on a long white plate lay before me and my grumbling stomach.

Course 1 Snacks

First (left to right) was a small radish dipped in rendered A5 Waygy beef tallow and sprinkled with smoke sea salt—savory beyond belief. I finished the radish and impolitely dabbed up the salt remnants with my fingertip. Next was a walnut cheddar wine cracker topped with whipped smokey blue cheese roasted red grape, balsamic reduction—delectable. And the grand finale: New Zealand Deep-Sea Red Crab salad wrapped in daikon radish, topped with chive. I could’ve eaten a bale of this seafood concoction.

But alas, Veritas likes to keep you hungry as not to spoil any of the riches ahead.

Course 2 Celeriac + Frisee + Black Garlic

This delicacy is made from a molded goat cheese shell, filled with a beet-based foam, and garnished with compressed apples and tarragon. The cold and airy feel of the foam, sweet firmness of the shell, chewiness of the apples, and freshness of the tarragon all joined hands and sang “Kumbaya” as I consumed. Or, maybe that was me singing…

This was by far the best and most complex mix of flavors and textures I had ever had.

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Course 3 Celeriac + Frisee + Black Garlic

I was already juggling my cocktail, my mildly sweet and tart champagne flute from the snack course, and a glass of white wine from the last course when the knowledgable Veritas Sommelier delivered a glasses of “orange” wine to the table. I know what you’re thinking because I thought it, too: no, the wine is not made from oranges, but rather blends both the red and white style of winemaking to create a unique vino. Don’t mind if I do, I thought as I indulged.

As I wolfed down this obscure looking but totally delicious dish, I had absolutely no idea what Celeriac was and my only knowledge about croquet exists because of the movie Alice in Wonderland. Beneath the frisee salad and bursting beads of smoked trout roe was a black garlic sauce-soaked celery root lightly fried in bread crumbs. This was the first warm dish and I was officially in love with Celeriac. Still not sold on the game of croquet.

Course 4 Monkfish + Prosciutto + Hen of the Woods

Prosciutto wrapped anything is a delicacy. Prosciutto wrapped monkfish is a prize. And I was just straight up spoiled with the sautéed hen of the woods mushrooms.

Course 5 Way Flank + Sunflower + Pomegranate

Wagyu, come to mama. Twice pan-seared—once in garlic and butter—laying on a bed of pomegranate yuzukoshu black garlic reduction that I could see myself swimming in a vat of. This was my favorite course by a mile. My only complaint is that my affection for it far outweighed its actual weight.

Course 6 Gjegost + Lychee + Sumac

Full disclosure, the ingredients in this dish may as well have been written in another language, because I had never heard of gjetost foam, lychee sorbet, or sumac. But, it cooly calmed my palate and I was a happy little lychee.

Course 7 Butternut Squash “Tart”

Ah, the seventh and final course. Plated to perfection, the dessert entree was a modest one, bringing in savory profiles and unique textures. My favorite bites were those of the sponge cake and mole ice cream. Call me traditional.

Coming in at $75, the Chef’s Tasting isn’t going to be your Thursday Happy Hour Plans. But, that’s okay because what it does offer is a uniquely special experience that cannot be had anywhere else in the city. Everyone can can offer 1/2 off appetizers, only Veritas can delivery an exceptionally high level of service, quality, taste, character, and creativity each and every time.

Veritas is located at 11 West Gay Street and is open 5pm – 10pm Tuesday through Saturday. To learn more about Veritas and the Tasting Menus, visit Veritas.com.

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