Maxwell Schwarz: The Ohio problem

Tuesday, September 17, 2019 - 5:25pm

Maxwell Schwarz

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I’ve spent a very small portion — albeit, the more blunderous part — of my life living in Ohio. (Please don’t punish me for that, the economy is hard.) When I was 16, I was with my father on the drive to school, listening to the early-morning talk radio program. They announced the “Thanksgiving Misery Index” in the news segment. The major news was that Ohio had been deemed the absolute worst state in which to spend Thanksgiving. This news was hilarious beyond measure. My dad and I cried from laughter. And then we stopped laughing. Because we realized where we were spending Thanksgiving that year: Ohio. 

This ultimately begs the question. Why do we despise Ohio? I am prepared to say something that may automatically revoke my Michigan residency: Ohio’s kind of not that bad. Listen, Ohio is certainly not good. But there are some (read: not many) lovely things in Ohio. Columbus is a genuinely nice city, with lots of wonderful sights; German Village is particularly pretty. Hocking Hills State Park and Cuyahoga Valley National Park are two truly beautiful instances of the Midwest’s most stunning natural splendor. The falls in Cuyahoga Valley National Park are full of such radiance and grandeur, that I refuse to take them for granted. If nothing else, Ohio has at least produced a decent amount of corn (but, little known fact, they actually produce more soybeans).

Ohio is responsible for an absurd number of things. Rock ‘n’ roll finds its roots with Cleveland — where the Hall of Fame sits — because of disc jockey Alan Freed. It also has the Football Hall of Fame in Canton. Some notable Americans have called Ohio home, like Thomas Edison, filmmaker Steven Spielberg and the King of Flavortown, Guy Fieri. Ohio has produced at least six presidents. Even the Wright brothers were from Ohio, allowing Ohio to adopt the slogan “the Birthplace of Aviation” for their license plates. 21 astronauts have come from Ohio. Although, I think those two last facts just go to show the lengths people will go to get out of Ohio: At least 21 people have went to space because Ohio is that bad.

The true animosity with Ohio can be found in its absolute irrelevance to the rest of the country. For all the great things Ohio has given us, the state is not spectacular. It’s hardly even notable. Its greatest offense is its intense mediocrity. For the most part, it doesn’t matter, aside from strangely being a swing-state in presidential elections. It seems most people are confused on where Ohio even is. Lots of people get Ohio mixed up with Iowa, much to the dismay of Iowans. It’s a pretty average place, for the most part, with an unusual amount of tornado sirens and intensely hot summers. It touches the grossest of the Great Lakes, and isn’t really East or West geographically. Outside of the Appalachian part of the state, it’s fairly flat. Ohio simply is.

Yet, we hate it. It’s easily the most despised state in the Midwest. That’s saying something because Indiana is also part of the Midwest. And I don’t feel bad for hating Ohio. Cedar Point isn’t even that cool. The only thing you really need to know about Ohio is that Hell is real, and while most people think it’s in Michigan, it’s actually in Ohio.