Go back to Ohio? Ex-pat guide defends Ohio transplants

Anyone who has had the distinct honor of being featured on the stuck-on-jokes-from-2005 circle jerk of hate called DieHipster knows the No. 1 trope of rage the site spews is: “GO BACK TO OHIO!” Their idea of course is that all these “hipster” transplants bring Midwestern values of blandness, kickball leagues and trust funds while ruining the “real” Brooklyn for the rest of us. While it’s not accurate that everything terrible in BK has its origins in the Midwest (New Jersey is awful too, people), it is certainly true that there are plenty of Ohioans here in Kings County.

Stephen Slaybaugh, a Red Hook resident, Columbus native and music writer for The Village Voice, CMJ and more, decided to address this phenomenon when he launched OhioNYC.com in October. The site aims to let ex-pats know about Ohio-related events (music, movies, etc) culture (art, sports) and each other’s goings-on. He’s also an ardent defender of the idea that Ohioans add to the culture here, not detract from it. So will this site ease the anti-Ohio hate, or just throw more buckeyes onto the fire? We asked Slaybaugh to explain why he thinks no one should “go back to Ohio.”

What made you start the site?
First, I was asked to write a cover story for a newspaper in Columbus about Columbus musicians who had migrated to Brooklyn. I realized that there were many more Ohio ex-pats in my extended network than I knew. This just got me thinking that it would be nice to try to connect all these people.

Slaybaugh and Chuck D., via Twitter.

Next, there was an article in L Magazine about social networks and clubs for ex-pats from other cities living in New York. I thought it would be nice to have something similar for people from Ohio, but I wasn’t about to try to organize some kind of organization.

Last, and least importantly, I had noticed that when people talked disparagingly about “hipsters” that I would hear (or read on Brooklyn Vegan comments) things like, “Go back to Ohio!” and so, part of the idea was to let non-Ohioans know that many of the artists, musicians, actors, athletes, etc. that they admired were from Ohio, and that chances are these hipsters, which I consider a sort of consumerist designation, probably aren’t.

So is it actually true that Ohioans come to NYC in droves?
I am personally friends with about 45 people in New York from Ohio, and there are many more with whom I have some loose connection. So yeah, I do think there are a lot of Ohioans in New York, which is probably why we hear “go back to Ohio.” Again, though, I suspect the people that are really the target of such derision aren’t actually from Ohio. Maybe it’s our Midwestern work ethic, but people from Ohio are usually the ones actually doing stuff and also not the kind of people who act too cool for school. Of those 45 Ohio ex-pats that I know, the vast majority are doing interesting things.

What kind of content is important to Ohio ex-pats?
We’ve covered books, sports, art, comedy, food and movies. My goal is to post every day, but there’s not always an Ohio-related event (though you’d probably be surprised by how frequently there is), so I’ve also been doing This Day in Ohio Birthdays. The goals I have right now are to start doing interviews with both well-known and “regular Joe” Ohioans (particularly those running their own businesses) and to start doing a regular event where Ohio ex-pats can actually meet face-to-face, connecting with old friends and making new ones.

Why leave Ohio for New York in the first place?
I think there is a long tradition of people moving from Ohio to New York, particularly creative types like The Cramps, The Dead Boys, and Jim Jarmusch, to name a few. That’s not surprising as, depending on where one lives in Ohio, it’s about a 10-hour car ride. It is difficult to make a living in any sort of creative capacity in Ohio. For example, in Columbus, where banking and insurance are the big industries, there is one company that owns nearly all the local periodicals. So since it’s not that hard to load up one’s car and drive to New York, it’s where creative people tend to go.

Are you worried that your site is just going to get the Ohio haters all whipped up into an even more intense frenzy?
I can’t say that I worry about my site being seen negatively. I am very proud of my Ohio heritage, and the site reflects that. If someone has a problem with that, it is not really my concern. Besides, having voted for Dinkins (ed note: Slaybaugh lived in New York from 1992-1997, then Portland and Columbus before moving back here in 2008), hung out in Times Square before it was Disneyfied, used tokens to ride the subway, and lived in Manhattan when it was affordable, I think I’m as much a New Yorker as anybody.

Find Slaybaugh on OhioNYC and Twitter.

12 Comment

  • boy, when i think about Midwest, the first thing that comes to mind is trust fund.

    You Go, Ohio!

  • I’ve always been enthralled with the “hack or can’t hack” vibe in NYC, which I think is kind of part of this thing – people move to NYC and either make it, or move back home defeated. Where I’m from, it’s more like the people that return home just got back from POW camp.

  • As a Columbus native living in Brooklyn, I am so so glad you thought of this, not only because of -but definitely partially because of- your logo.

  • Didn’t you hear? DieHipster decreed people from the Midwest, “Pennsyltucky,” Calfornia, the Pacific Northwest, Texas, and East Coast are not allowed to move to New York. Everyone else is fine.

    • You know what, I’m glad the “Die Hipster” sect doesn’t approve of modernization and cultural improvement of Brooklyn via migration of creative, productive members of society from outside of New York. Maybe that will encourage mean, entitled, “native NY’er” assholes to move east to be among likewise douchey Long Islanders.

      This is America, and New York for that matter. All of the people who hate on new transplants come from families that immigrated to New York for a better life, for opportunities that were not available in their homeland. If people stopped coming here from other parts of the country and world, the accents would become unbearable. I’m from NY and I strongly support continued growth and evolution through injection of new cultures and ideas, wherever they might come from.

  • You voted for Dinkins? And you’re PROUD of that????? Idiot…

  • On Friday, I heard some people on the L train inexplicably accuse people holding the door open on the train this weekend as being “from Ann Arbor, Michigan.” So this article must have instantly steered the hatred away from Ohio. Poor Michigan, though.

  • go back to ohio niggazzzzz !

    • “hung out in Times Square before it was Disneyfied, used tokens to ride the subway, and lived in Manhattan when it was affordable, I think I’m as much a New Yorker as anybody.”

      Lol..congratulations bro, so how does that make you a New Yorker again?? If that’s what you consider being a “new yorker” entails then that’s some pretty pathetic defining criteria.

      You transplants are so pathetic in your your attempt to desperatley try and convince natives that you’re “new yorkers”. I gasp when I speak to you in public places and hear these clearly distinct midwestern accents being spoken as I’m told you’re “from” NY. It’s honestly comicial cause you’ll never be accepted, get over it.

      It’s as if though the majority of you are suffering a serious identity crisis. You’re not a New Yorker unless you were born and raised here and there’s nothing else to it. End of story!!!

      Please just continue to soley maintain your Ohio pride as you have stated above and stop with the NY shit..stay on the island of Manhattan and in your little transplants communities in BK and Queens cause God knows, you’ll never be caught dead up in the BX.

    • Word…go back to Ohio or whatever bumfuck part of the country you’re from. You’ll never be accepted as being an authentic “new yorker” and natives laugh at you when you try. If you weren’t born and raised here then you’re not a “new yorker” point, blank, period..end of discussion!!

  • I imagine its tremendously difficult to be from a place like Ohio, considered to be one of the most backward states in the union (many have seen the movie Gummo, right?) and to move to NYC and get shit on constantly by NYers. Imagine having to tell people you meet you’re from Ohio. How might people even react to that other than with derision? South Carolina is a pretty screwed up place but at least they’ve got a beach. Detroit is pretty ugly, but at least its culturally and historically important. Cleveland is like a much smaller much less interesting version of Detroit. Imagine that being the best thing you can say about your hometown. Ohio is just Ohio. It’s not a place anyone chooses to move to from anywhere else, which is a huge factor in why this dude and his ilk are so preoccupied with trying to fit in here in NY.

    And according to his background, he seems to personify the hipster stereotype, looked down upon by regular NYers and socirety at large. He’s had to work a string of freelance/service jobs into his 30s or even 40s and he’s developed a legitimate psychological complex due to all of these unfortunate factors. Now he’s tried to make something positive out of it with a website about his home state. Fair enough. How can anyone have an issue with that?

    But a little advice Stevie Buckeye. Don’t say dumb shit like “I”m as much a New Yorker as anybody” and especially don’t permit someone to print it online for perpetuity. You lose any last bit of credibility you might have been starting to build with a comment like that. Aside from looking like a foolish schizo due to the amount of time you obviously put into a blog and events revolving around your actual home, your obsession, which is Ohio, the bottom line is, you’re not from here, and you’ve only lived here a few of years, so stop trying so hard. You’re embarassing yourself. And yes, you end up making your fellow Ohio natives look even more uninformed and naive than people assume they are and perpetuating stereotypes.

    Like the article says, you hang out with a small community of a few dozen people just like you with the same background from the same nowhere towns. You live in a small corner of the city with other transplants like yourself, and you barely interact with the majority of the 20 million people here who grew up here in normal neighborhoods and nearby towns, who all share cultural similarities going back generations, and who share experiences you’ll never have the pleasure of understanding because you’re from 10 hours away, and not from here. Starting to get it now?

    As the holidays approach, please enjoy your trip back home to visit family, enjoy the next couple years of extended adolescence here in my city (are this dudes pubes completely grey yet, or what?) alongside your super talented transient friends (I’m sure you’ll all get rich and famous really soon), and continue to feel guilty and conflicted about your role in changing this city for the worse. Remember that if you ever make it out of your bubble of transplants in northwest brooklyn and decide to interact with the vast majority of real NYC, that absolutely no one is impressed that you’ve lived here for five or even ten whole years after moving here as a middle aged person and continuing to live like a god-damned developmentally arrested adolescent.

    Hope you’re at least beginning to understand now why we’d prefer that all of you just leave our city. Good luck doing so sooner rather than later. Hope you can make Ohio as great as we know it has the potential to be, you shitkicking hickster.