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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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News

Op-ed: Whitehall mayor responds to recent negative press

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As the City of Whitehall, Ohio begins a new year and reflects on the successes of 2018, we were disappointed to see a 614 Now headline reading, “Whitehall takes top spot in ‘10 Most Dangerous Cities in Ohio’” based on a November 3, 2018 blog post on RoadSnacks.com.

We strongly disagree with some of the methodology that the study relied on in making their opinion on the level of danger in our community. The safety and well-being of our neighbors and business partners always will be our number one priority and, thanks to a number of initiatives we’ve undertaken, our community is experiencing great momentum.

Whitehall Mayor Kim Maggard

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Our Safer Whitehall initiative, which includes the establishment of a specialized narcotics unit, the hiring of additional and the enhanced training of police officers, adding four new K-9 officers and our proactive Mobile Community Watch has all led to additional arrests being made, thus we are seeing lower crime rates. In fact, since the beginning of 2017, violent crime has decreased by 48%, robberies have decreased by 47% and theft arrests have declined by 22%. These are statistics from the Whitehall police department.

This positive and significant upswing in statistics can also be attributed to our aggressive approach to rid the community of criminal activity through increased economic development and innovative training for businesses and residents on how to prevent and decrease crime.

Great things are happening here. Heartland Bank and The Wasserstrom Company have moved their headquarters to Whitehall. The Whitehall Community Park is undergoing a multi-million dollar update with a new Community Park Y. And, the $50 million Norton Crossing project is underway at the gateway to our city – the intersection of Broad and Hamilton.

We are extremely proud of our community. We invite everyone to visit our city and see the progress we are making each and every day. 

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Opinion

The Closing Volley

This is my final letter as editor of (614) Magazine. Those are among the hardest words I’ve ever had to type. I’ve always told myself that I wouldn’t stay in this seat forever, but it’s still hard to prepare for the day when “not forever” arrives at your door, leaving even someone like myself at [...]
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This is my final letter as editor of (614) Magazine. Those are among the hardest words I’ve ever had to type.

I’ve always told myself that I wouldn’t stay in this seat forever, but it’s still hard to prepare for the day when “not forever” arrives at your door, leaving even someone like myself at a loss for words.

As a little inspiration for one last Opening Volley (by my count, the 102nd), I reflected on my first one, penned June 2010:

“I’ll put my own stamp on the magazine, sure. Most likely, some of these ideas haven’t yet presented themselves to me.”

If only you knew, you big dum-dum.

I’d love to give myself points for prescience there, but how could I have known what this would all mean? How could I have known we’d last at all?

I didn’t know we’d print a story about a long-forgotten Columbus swimmer that would lead to justice for his legacy in the Wall Street Journal (Thanks, Lori Gum).

I didn’t know I’d watch my Uber driver make global news and come out of the closet on The View four months after picking me up on a random Friday (Thanks, Trey Pearson).

I certainly didn’t know that I’d win an *Emmy for the least amount of work I’ve ever done on something so cool, hosting a food show called NOSH. (Thanks, NBC).

(*Regional, and the interns always assume it’s just a prop sitting at the front desk).

I did know that when I first sat down in this chair to write this letter that I was sitting in a position that was perfectly suited for me—even though it was something I never could have aspired to back when I was starting out.

I didn’t know it would give me the most satisfying and fulfilling time of my life, a period of feverish creativity, passionate collaboration, and an intense feeling of civic pride I’d not previously enjoyed.

“What (614) will continue to do is to present Columbus as the diverse, interesting—and growing—Midwestern hub that we feel it is. To hell with that Cowtown bit.”

My thesis statement in that first letter—I called a shot I didn’t have the right to. But damn, if we—and I do mean we—haven’t helped accomplish that in this last decade. We used to have to prove that we were more than college football and chain restaurants. Now, we’re having spirited debates over the loss of cocktail bars and craft breweries.

It’s that collective effort to move the Columbus culture that fueled us at (614)—less so than the other way around. I’ll put that humility aside only long enough to say, I do think we succeeded in our goal to make this magazine stand out from the rest of the rack. If I do say so myself, we set a new print standard for those glossy city mags you see strewn about any active city. Yes, we are the city guide—this festival, that band, those food trucks—but it’s always been my hope that we could be more. It’s been my hope that we’ve been able to serve as part of the city’s conscience, and present a curation of our collective personality on display. Maybe we’ve been a guide to what life feels like in Columbus’s modern rebirth, a new outline for a city without an identity for so many decades—other than their incessant, sometimes obsessive search for one.

But, we’ve mostly been YOU. If there’s one thing I’ve been most proud of over the last 10 years and 100-plus issues, it’s that we produced an open-source document for Columbus—an approachable read that gave access to the everyday folk in Columbus. It’s always been a poorly kept secret that if you have an idea that Columbus would love, you have a spot in (614). No credentials or diploma needed. Just someone with the same passion we had. Your new editor-in-chief Jeni Ruisch has it. And I can’t wait to see her era of this funny little journalistic experiment begin.

I’m gonna miss the work like hell—I won’t lie. It’s been one of the great pleasures of my life to put this thing together. I’ll miss wondering what’s on your mind; what stories you were excited to share with and through us.

I’m not going anywhere, though. I have plans and schemes to continue to pay forward what this magazine and this city has given to me. In what capacity? I suppose I am still plotting that chapter, but as always—I’m open to Columbus’s input. In other words:

“Most likely, some of these ideas haven’t yet presented themselves to me.”

Cheers, Columbus. I’ll see ya out there.

Travis Hoewischer, Editor-in-Chief

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Opinion

The Closing Volley

This is my final letter as editor of (614) Magazine. Those are among the hardest words I’ve ever had to type. I’ve always told myself that I wouldn’t stay in this seat forever, but it’s still hard to prepare for the day when “not forever” arrives at your door, leaving even someone like myself at [...]
Avatar

Published

on

This is my final letter as editor of (614) Magazine. Those are among the hardest words I’ve ever had to type.

I’ve always told myself that I wouldn’t stay in this seat forever, but it’s still hard to prepare for the day when “not forever” arrives at your door, leaving even someone like myself at a loss for words.

As a little inspiration for one last Opening Volley (by my count, the 102nd), I reflected on my first one, penned June 2010:

“I’ll put my own stamp on the magazine, sure. Most likely, some of these ideas haven’t yet presented themselves to me.”

If only you knew, you big dum-dum.

I’d love to give myself points for prescience there, but how could I have known what this would all mean? How could I have known we’d last at all?

I didn’t know we’d print a story about a long-forgotten Columbus swimmer that would lead to justice for his legacy in the Wall Street Journal (Thanks, Lori Gum).

I didn’t know I’d watch my Uber driver make global news and come out of the closet on The View four months after picking me up on a random Friday (Thanks, Trey Pearson).

I certainly didn’t know that I’d win an *Emmy for the least amount of work I’ve ever done on something so cool, hosting a food show called NOSH. (Thanks, NBC).

(*Regional, and the interns always assume it’s just a prop sitting at the front desk).

I did know that when I first sat down in this chair to write this letter that I was sitting in a position that was perfectly suited for me—even though it was something I never could have aspired to back when I was starting out.

I didn’t know it would give me the most satisfying and fulfilling time of my life, a period of feverish creativity, passionate collaboration, and an intense feeling of civic pride I’d not previously enjoyed.

“What (614) will continue to do is to present Columbus as the diverse, interesting—and growing—Midwestern hub that we feel it is. To hell with that Cowtown bit.”

My thesis statement in that first letter—I called a shot I didn’t have the right to. But damn, if we—and I do mean we—haven’t helped accomplish that in this last decade. We used to have to prove that we were more than college football and chain restaurants. Now, we’re having spirited debates over the loss of cocktail bars and craft breweries.

It’s that collective effort to move the Columbus culture that fueled us at (614)—less so than the other way around. I’ll put that humility aside only long enough to say, I do think we succeeded in our goal to make this magazine stand out from the rest of the rack. If I do say so myself, we set a new print standard for those glossy city mags you see strewn about any active city. Yes, we are the city guide—this festival, that band, those food trucks—but it’s always been my hope that we could be more. It’s been my hope that we’ve been able to serve as part of the city’s conscience, and present a curation of our collective personality on display. Maybe we’ve been a guide to what life feels like in Columbus’s modern rebirth, a new outline for a city without an identity for so many decades—other than their incessant, sometimes obsessive search for one.

But, we’ve mostly been YOU. If there’s one thing I’ve been most proud of over the last 10 years and 100-plus issues, it’s that we produced an open-source document for Columbus—an approachable read that gave access to the everyday folk in Columbus. It’s always been a poorly kept secret that if you have an idea that Columbus would love, you have a spot in (614). No credentials or diploma needed. Just someone with the same passion we had. Your new editor-in-chief Jeni Ruisch has it. And I can’t wait to see her era of this funny little journalistic experiment begin.

I’m gonna miss the work like hell—I won’t lie. It’s been one of the great pleasures of my life to put this thing together. I’ll miss wondering what’s on your mind; what stories you were excited to share with and through us.

I’m not going anywhere, though. I have plans and schemes to continue to pay forward what this magazine and this city has given to me. In what capacity? I suppose I am still plotting that chapter, but as always—I’m open to Columbus’s input. In other words:

“Most likely, some of these ideas haven’t yet presented themselves to me.”

Cheers, Columbus. I’ll see ya out there.

Travis Hoewischer, Editor-in-Chief

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