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South High Double Feature

Amid the modern movie houses remains a monument to local motion picture history — the South Drive-In. Central Ohio was once home to 17 drive-in theaters. But with the closings of the Kingman and 40 East a decade ago, the South High has the distinction of being the last drive-in theater in Columbus. But this [...]
J.R. McMillan



Amid the modern movie houses remains a monument to local motion picture history — the South Drive-In.

Central Ohio was once home to 17 drive-in theaters. But with the closings of the Kingman and 40 East a decade ago, the South High has the distinction of being the last drive-in theater in Columbus.

But this isn’t a eulogy.

Even as traditional theaters are struggling to compete with the ease and instant gratification of Netflix and Redbox, big screens are big business again. Audience interest in 3D films has declined in recent years, but ticket sales for large-format features are booming.

Though not exactly an IMAX experience, the South’s super-size screens make those puny multiplexes look like bed sheets and your flat-panel TV look like a postcard.

Tonight’s crowd is as mixed as the cars they drive – a pickup for every Prius, a muscle car for every minivan.

“It’s definitely more family-friendly, as is the price,” said Jason Harddarger of Columbus. He and his wife Carol have been coming here with their children for more than seven years. Adult admissions are comparable at $9, but children 11 and under are only a buck.

There are newbies, as well. Sixteen students from Dublin Coffman’s cross-country team are here to see Guardians of the Galaxy. Some had already seen the film, but none have been to the South before tonight. They said they were willing to caravan past several first-run theaters to see the space epic on a giant scale.

“I grew up in Illinois and went to my first drive-in movie when I was nine,” said Piper Hayward, the 17-year-old senior who organized the outing. “I wanted my friends to see how different the experience really is.”

The South’s gas-powered popcorn popper certainly beats the pre-popped alternatives you find elsewhere. But they also let audiences pack their own snacks. You can even bring your own grill, so long as the coals are cold before the film starts. (Just try bringing hotdogs and a Hibachi to any other theater in town).

Seating options are also up to you. Enjoy the quiet comfort of your car, cozy up under a blanket in the bed of your truck or just break out the lawn chairs. Audio is available from vintage speakers or through your vehicle’s radio. As for rain, refunds are rarely necessary – though there was that one time in 1973 when a tornado actually took out the main screen just as the movie was starting. Now that was 3D.

You also get two films for the price of one. The South has two screens, each showing a different film after sundown and a second movie on each after that.

“They open for sellers at 5 a.m., but I arrive around 3 a.m. every Saturday to get one of the best spots. I think folks come here because they can wheel and deal.”

But the South’s double feature isn’t just the second screening. On weekends and Wednesdays, it transforms into Central Ohio’s largest open-air flea market.

There are the usual suspects: crates of vinyl records, tools and trinkets, dubious DVDs and knock-off purses. But also the unexpected: wooden lobster traps, tube radios, old-school game consoles, golden age comics, and antique furniture.

Several farmers have set up stands near the entrance and holler like carnival barkers. “Cantaloupes, one dollar! Sweet corn, Three dollars a dozen!”

Joseph Ponder has been selling various wares at the South for three years. A former welterweight boxer-turned-writer originally from New York, his wits are still as quick as his jabs once were.

“They open for sellers at 5 a.m., but I arrive around 3 a.m. every Saturday to get one of the best spots,” he confessed. “I think folks come here because they can wheel and deal.”

It’s equal parts kitsch and collectibles, where hipsters and hillbillies mingle and you’re never quite sure if the mustaches and sideburns are ironic or sincere.

After a mile of meandering, I left with a tall stack of 78 records, a flashlight that looks like a Coke bottle, and a sack of tailgate tomatoes — all for less than I pay for a haircut.

If you come looking for something specific, you’ll likely leave disappointed. If you come looking for something interesting, you won’t leave empty-handed.

South Drive-in and Flea Market is located at 3050 S High St. and is open until mid-November.

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Arts & Culture

Watch: “World’s largest mural” in Short North is more than meets the eye

Regina Fox



At a glance, "The Journey AR Mural" adorning the Graduate Columbus hotel in Short North is stunning. Look a little harder, and it actually comes to life.

Standing at over 107 feet tall and over 11,000 square feet of augmented reality, "The Journey AR Mural," is the world's largest AR mural, offering technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user's view of the real world, thus providing a composite view.

The gaily-painted snapdragons, hibiscus, Easter lilies, and hummingbirds bloom and fly when viewed through the Journey AR Mural app (free for iPhone and Android). Watch the murals come to life in the video below.

Los Angeles-based artists Ryan Sarfati and Eric Skotnes (going by “Yanoe” and “Zoueh," respectively) are the creatives behind the project.

In an interview with Short North Arts District, Skotnes revealed he was inspired to take on the project after learning that Columbus is home to the second largest population of Somali immigrants in the country—he hopes the murals symbolize strength and prosperity for its viewers.

To learn more about The Journey AR Mural, visit

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Arts & Culture

Undercover: Unique music festival showcases Columbus music talent this weekend

Mike Thomas



Since beginning in 2018, Columbus Covers Columbus (CCC) has grown into a signature event in the thriving local music scene. Now in its third year, this unique festival is centered on the concept of local musicians playing sets comprised entirely of music from other local acts.

CCC is the brainchild of Columbus music promoter Tony Casa, who wanted to create a showcase for a supportive community of local artists to share their mutual admiration for each other's music.

As entertaining as the event is for spectators, CCC doubles as a valuable networking opportunity for local entertainers and creatives.

"There are great local merchants, games, and tons of networking opportunities for everyone in the community," says Casa. "This isn’t just a great show, it’s like a proper festival—but in the winter."

Since its inception, the event has expanded to include stand-up comedy, poetry readings, burlesque performances, live podcast recordings, and more, all in the spirit of promoting and celebrating the Columbus creative community.

CCC will take place from January 17-19 at Classics Victory Live at 543 S High St. The event is 18+, with tickets available at the door for $10. For more info including a full list of artists and vendors, visit Columbus Covers Columbus on Facebook.

Cover photo by Catherine Lindsay photography.

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Arts & Culture

Columbus band snarls is bursting with promise on debut LP

Mike Thomas



As the decade that birthed the fidget spinner and basically nothing else of note drew to a close, music blogs large and small dedicated astonishing amounts of digital ink to their inevitable “album/song/artist of the decade” rankings.

Usually restrained to a totally undaunting 100 items, these lists surveyed the topography of a ten year span that saw the legacy of rock music as we know it (straight, male, and horny) continue its gradual and unceremonious slide into irrelevance.

From relative newcomers like Courtney Barnett, Snail Mail, and Julien Baker, to established voices such as the Breeders, St. Vincent, and Sleater-Kinney, rock music in the 2010s was revitalized by female artists who enjoyed a larger portion of the spotlight in this decade than ever before.

Columbus-based alt-rockers snarls are firmly situated on this new wave, but the rapid success the group has enjoyed since forming in 2017 is entirely due to their own hard work and astonishing creative powers. Consisting of Chlo White on guitar and lead vocals, Riley Dean on bass and vocals, and sibling duo Mick and Max Martinez on guitar and drums respectively, snarls is the capital city’s contribution to the future of rock—and they won’t be contained to the 614 for long.

Photos: Brian Kaiser

Originating in the local DIY scene, snarls got their start playing house shows, eventually moving on to established venues throughout the city. The group’s sound incorporates influences from ‘90s grunge, to the emo stylings of bands like American Football, to the pop sensibilities of Halsey and Kesha. The result, as White puts it, is music that coalesces into a “melting pot of teenage angst.”

In the summer of 2019, snarls was propelled to a new level of notoriety when the video for the group’s single, “Walk in the Woods”—a glittering anthem of unrequited love sung over chorused-out guitars and with a hook more infectious than meningitis—premiered on the music blog Stereogum. The track also made the cut for the site’s “100 Favorite Songs of 2019” roundup.

“We didn’t even have a tripod, the camera was set on like four books and the backdrops kept fucking falling,” White recalls of filming the video, which the group self-produced.

“That song not only has given us more streaming, but has brought us so much press and cool shows,” Mick says of the track, which has accrued almost 40,000 streams on Spotify at the time of this writing. “I don’t think the Sleater-Kinney thing would ever have happened if that song wasn’t out. It’s crazy that just that one song alone has brought us so much opportunity.”

The Sleater-Kinney thing? That would be snarls opening for the legendary Pacific Northwest rockers at the Newport Music Hall on their recent tour stop in Columbus. While it was easily the biggest show in the young group’s career thus far in terms of profile and audience size, the members of snarls were up to the challenge.

“For me, it’s easy to switch between playing a house venue and playing the Newport,” Dean says confidently of the band’s milestone moment. “It’s still just a stage. It’s still just people watching me play my music. One’s just bigger.”

If the release of the group’s breakthrough single is any indication of snarls’ trajectory, it’s safe to assume big things are on the horizon. “Walk in the Woods” is just a taste of the group’s first full-length LP, titled Burst, which is planned for a Spring 2020 release. To help achieve their artistic vision for the album, snarls tapped Jon Fintel of Relay Recording to handle production duties.

“Jon has played a really important role,” Mick says of Fintel’s contributions to the recording process. “Not only does everything sound high-quality because of him, but even when we brought demos to him, it was like ‘let’s scrap this song because it doesn’t quite fit in, and I know that you guys can do something better.’ And then we wrote one of our favorite songs.”

For established fans, the description that snarls teases for their new release should come as no surprise: expect a long emotional arc cast across tracks that alternate between “perfect for dancing,” and others better suited to crying. For snarls, the completion of the recording provides a profound sense of accomplishment.

“I make a lot of art. I’m always making a photo, or doodling, or writing. But this is one of my—our—finer- crafted pieces of art that I am just really proud of, regardless of what happens with it, or if it goes anywhere,” says White. “If it just sits in a dark corner for the rest of my life, I’m still content. I’m just really proud of all the work that we collected in this little ten song record.”

Find snarls on all major streaming platforms. For tour dates, merch, and more, visit

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