Thursday, March 23, 2000

Drummer Von Ohlen gets a new shtick




BY JIM KNIPPENBERG
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Merciful heavens, would you look at drummer John Von Ohlen.Looks like a new man.

        The story begins last year when a crowd hit the Celestial bar for Christmas cheer and songs from Mary Ellen Tanner and the Lee Stolar Trio with Von Ohlen on drums.

        Hmmmm. Out of nowhere comes Dennis Speigel, the wonderfully off-center owner of International Theme Park Services, soliciting pledges: “John's hairdo must be destroyed. $10 each for a makeover?”

        Von Ohlen, former drummer for Stan Kenton and the drummer Rosemary Clooney so often turns to, has been wearing his hair in a Prince Valiant do for a thousand years.

        Speigel recorded pledges on a cocktail napkin and set a March date.

        Enter Mary Armor and Jeff Thomas, co-chairs of Stonewall's annual human rights dinner, a makeover themed party April 8. They were throwing a kickoff party in March, also a makeover theme, and named Von Ohlen the poster boy, being so well known and so, uh, oddly coiffed.

        The party was at Matt Bradley's Hyde Park salon, so he armed himself with scissors, chopped six inches, swept the sides, feathered the top and, dang, a new man.

        The verdict? “I saw John the other night. He looked so nice I didn't recognize him,” said Donna Dirr, manager of Highland Towers, the building that houses the Celestial.

        Bradley's verdict? “I think I took 10 years off his life.”

        TV-BOUND: Well dang, you don't see this every day: 2 hours of TV full of local people and home-grown locations.

        But you will in mid-April when Channel 9 airs The Golem, a film by Cincinnatian Scott Wegener (The Mutants and The Spider's Web). Shot three years ago and so far seen only in a rough-form preview, the film is an epic spinning off the Jewish legend about a rabbi who builds an artificial creature to protect his community.

        So, local stuff like what? Scenes in Mason, some at St. Francis DeSales Church in East Walnut Hills, street scenes in the West End, green space in Eden Park — all with such well-known community theater types as Richard Arthur, Ernie Rowland, Steve Caminiti, John Huffman and a ton of extras. All set to a Carmon DeLeone score.

        It airs at 8 p.m. April 22.

        ON THE BOX: We'll need a round of applause here. Clap it for one Erin Blair, a 5-year-old Lawrenceburg resident who's popping up on macaroni and cheese boxes and feeding the hungry.

        Blair is one of 12 winners in Kraft's “I Want the Blues” contest, a deal wherein some 15,000 kids under 12 submitted rhymes, slogans, stories or drawings telling why they want Kraft in the blue box.

        Blair's entry was a drawing of a traffic light to depict how the stuff makes her “go.” Her win in the 4-6 division got her and three family members a vacation in Orlando, Fla., a $10,000 scholarship and her picture, along with 11 other winners on 20 million Kraft boxes.

        They're on the shelves now.

        Oh yeah, The prize included a $5,000 donation to Cincinnati's FreeStore/FoodBank.

        Knip's Eye View appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Have an item to report? Call Jim Knippenberg at 768-8513; fax: 768-8330.