The Fringe-iest walking tour you’re ever likely to put shoe to pavement with comes by way of Inner:City Tours and is called just that: Inner:City. When I took it on Sunday, street life was languid in the afternoon sun, but the stories that came through my ear buds were plenty lively. Bring your own iPod to download this podcast-guided tour or if, like me, you’re not up to speed in the technological department, borrow one of the limited-supply of loaners. Inner:City will be offered only one more day, June 7, at 1, 1:30, 2 and 2:30 p.m., leaving from Know Theatre Underground.
The mix of history and fun and What’s Up Now makes for a few surprises along the way. Allow an hour-and-a-half to two hours, with some sit-down time at the Coffee Emporium, to take a look at an area where history and fun and new stuff are all mixed up anyway.
The taped Voice talking directly to the iPod listener purports to tell you things she might not tell her best friend — a story about her grandmother, her great-grandmother and the Germania building that, if true, would suggest the cheerful, young-sounding, slightly flirty voice belongs to someone pushing 60, if you do the math. Don’t do the math; you’re here to have fun.
Some of the material shades into urban legend. The deep basement of a one-time theater on Vine Street leads to talk of underground apartments and passages the Voice hasn’t actually seen herself but hears rumors about. There are other embellishments: the iPod listener is told about the Voice’s boss, who just doesn’t get it, and the listener might play a part in a little street theater. There are repeated admonitions from the Voice to be careful and a pretended scuttling of a section of the tour “for safety issues.” This is, I suppose, meant to add excitement to the venture, but seems to me irresponsible. Some people might use the Fringe to explore a neighborhood they are slightly afraid of anyway. This kind of talk only underlines their concerns.
It’s pretty interesting in Over-the-Rhine without tarting things up. Something not mentioned by the Voice was a piece of careful graffiti, high on a building on 13th Street, a message painted as though on a television screen, “Every moment we’re creating our future.” Yep. Something to think about when surrounded by the past and listening to an iPod, as in Inner:City.
— Jane Durrell