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Battle not with monsters lest you become a monster. And if you gaze for long into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you—Nietzsche

I was born in Dayton Ohio. You think the midwest is easy but it’s not. Dayton has the highest murder per capita of any city in the US. At least it did when I lived there.

We also have the highest number of Presidents, Ohio does. More US Presidents were born in Ohio than any other state. Ohio also has the distinction of always voting for the President. In Presidential elections, Ohio is the state that most consistently votes with the winner.

It’s a testing bed, a litmus test. Columbus is a model city. That means when they’re testing a product, they test it in Columbus, because if it works in Columbus, it’ll work in the rest of the country. And if it doesn’t work in Columbus, it won’t. Columbus is miles and miles of malls.

Dayton has a combination of features from around the country. The language is broadcast English. There are white people. There are black people. There are Indian people. There are some Asians. There’s a lot of programming north of Cincinnati; we have some high-tech companies there. You can go to college in Ohio. You’ve got Ohio State, if you want to party. And you’ve got OU, in Athens, if you also want to party. And there are smaller schools. Case doesn’t count. It doesn’t fit with the spirit of the state. Cleveland is just..you go too far north you lose the spirit of the Ohio I’m talking about. If you have an engineering degree from Case, then: every offense intended. And I’m sorry. You got ripped off.

You’re not going to be well-rounded if you live your whole life in Ohio, just like you’re not going to be well-rounded if you live your whole life in California or Djibouti or wherever else. Ohio isn’t exactly whitewashed. In southern Ohio (which borders Kentucky) you have white people and black people who have moved up from the south. They’ve come up on the bus. They’ve come to join their cousins..or flee their cousins. So you’ve got a southern mentality and a southern friendliness (not quite a hospitality). But people come from Pittsburgh, which is only four hours away, and people leave Dayton to go to Pittsburgh, to go to school. My friend Jenny did that; she went to school in Pittsburgh. Four more hours east and you get to Philadelphia, another hour to New York, so if you were born in Dayton you can go to New York and if you were from New York you might end up in Dayton. If your family’s there. That’s what happened to Jules. She was born in New York and she came to Dayton because of her family. Then they moved back and left her, and she was the only one there.

Jules is black. Black people and white people don’t get along in Dayton. That’s why Dayton has the highest murder per capita in the country. I know you’re rushing for your almanacs. It’s gotta be Detroit? Or “South Central”? Right? Nope. It’s Dayton Ohio. It’s not just murder in general. It’s murder per capita. Look it up.

People who are born there always want to leave. If you came later you like it more. But no one leaves—almost. It’s a black hole. People who live there say it’s a vortex..it’s one of the vortexes. There are vortexes near Sedona, in the southwest. And I think maybe there are vortexes in Brazil or something. And then there are the vortexes of Dayton Ohio. They’re supposed to be some sort of energy center. It’s like a hurricane that you can’t see. Or a tornado. It’s special energy. Maybe it helps you..you know..maybe you’re in tune with it. Or maybe it kills you..you know..crushes you because you can’t take it. I don’t believe in vortexes. But my friends do.

I do believe it’s impossible to leave Dayton. I don’t really care whether it’s due to vortexes or economics or magnetism or what the fuck it’s due to, but once you move to Dayton—or if you’re born there—it really is impossible to leave. My friend Tuesday left for a while. She lived a year in Sedona. But she came back. And my friend Anna left for a while. I think she lived in Montana. But she came back, too.

I finally left. I drove to New York, left my car in a parking garage on 58th and Lexington, and never went back. That car wasn’t there long, I bet. This is New York. I bet it was there for a day, maybe two days, and then they towed it. I have no idea. That was a great car, but I was done driving.