Monday, 5 January 2009


Saturday evening I went to Columbus with a friend to go to Gallery Hop. Gallery Hop is held every first Saturday evening of the month in the Short North (Arts District). All of the art galleries and little shops open up all evening and welcome the thousands of people who brave the cold or heat or rain or snow to see the new wares and exhibits.

The Short North neighborhood is just north of the downtown business district of the city, and is home to the "gayborhood" of Columbus, as arts districts tend to play double duty in this regard.

The neighborhood is known not only for its dining, shopping, and art galleries, but also for the public art that speckles the neighborhood on the sides of buildings and standing alone.

It's also known for its architecture, both old and new, like the Greater Columbus Convention Center.

Standing guard at the edge of the neighborhood, between the Short North and the business district... The Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral, in all of its resplendent glory.

You might think I look a little upset in the picture. Well, I am, a bit, as I'm never able to find the church open to see inside of it. I have heard that it is beautiful, but that may just be mythology, because I wonder sometimes if anyone ever actually goes inside.

A friend of mine (we've lost touch over the last couple of years) was leaving a bar in the neighborhood a few years ago, and was attacked in the street, beaten, and left for dead. Several ribs were broken, and one of his lungs collapsed. He was not robbed.

A kid that I watched grow up here in my small town had a really, really rough family. After being yanked out of it and into foster care while in high school, things got really bad for him. I hadn't seen him for quite some time, and one day I heard a rumor that he was selling his body in Columbus. I was up there once a couple of years ago, eating at a popular bar in the neighborhood, and it was confirmed. He was selling his body- his soul- by the men's bathroom.

The number three killer of young gay people, behind suicide and STDs, is drug abuse and overdose. There is a subculture of drug use in the Short North that rivals that of many larger communities in the US.

There is a large number of homeless people in Columbus, and the majority of them gather downtown in the business district, and up High St. around the Short North. You cannot walk a block without seeing a person in this condition.

Why do I say all of this after posting some neat photographs? The imagery in the last pictures says a lot to me. Just beyond the surface glitz and lights of the Short North is The Annunication Greek Orthodox Cathedral, positioned on the edge between the normal world, and the world that is the Short North. It rises beyond the border land that it inhabits "to the heavens above," its domes and towers seemingly reaching for God himself. What if, instead of reaching to the sky, the arms of the Church reached horizontally- out, as it were, to both people in the "normal" world and to the people on the fringe? You have probably figured out by now that I am not speaking specifically about the Cathedral in the pictures.

What a privilege, and what a grave responsibility, it is to be positioned in the borderlands between normality and the forgotten.

Pax et bonum.