He had never seen a sky so vast and ashen with empty fury; had never heard such dire ceaseless rumblings and deafening wails. It was as if misery, the most human of states, had taken on the dimensions of an existence apart from humanity; for it was not any sense of human misery he perceived here, nor any misery of the heavens — there were no heavens — but rather a misery of the elements themselves, of the earth and the coal-fires and the dampness of the air.
Well, hot damn. Those lines, smoking with all that hellfire and brimstone, belong to one of America’s best working wordsmiths, Nick Tosches. Here, the famed punk rock writer (well known for saying modern rock ‘n roll was about as exciting as Paul Shaffer’s bald spot) is sitting behind the eyeballs of an off-the-boat Italian immigrant at the shallow end of the 20th century getting his first look at Steubenville, Ohio. The passage is out of Dino, Tosches’ 1992 biography of Dean Martin, the famed first son of that inauspicious rust belt burg on the very eastern edge of the state’s midsection. The book spends its early chapters hanging around the town, offering up tidbits on the historical relevance of a place that, like so many smaller Ohio cities that could once flex their own economic muscle, today is little more than a footnote in the bios of the people who got out.
But now, for those of us who thought Steubenville had long ago slipped the banks of the Whateveritis River, Governor John Kasich has thoughtfully found a way to remind us the city is still there — gutted and boarded, the foundries cold, and sporting an average income of $26,516, but standing still.
Today, in an unorthodox move, the governor will deliver his second State of the State address at Wells Academy in Steubenville. This is the first time the address will be given outside Columbus. The move has more than one state legislator grumbling. Kasich, usually so careful to listen to the concerns and cares of others, has been deaf to all complaint, maintaining he wants to throw a little spotlight-love at the top-ranked elementary school in the state.
With Steubenville getting so much attention today in the statewide news-cycle, we decided to jump into the town’s history and drag to light the oddball facts. Turns out, it's not all Tosches’ visions of industrial hell. We've broken down the notables into easily digestible water-cooler factoids. The art we were hoping to mangle together proved to be too ambitious for Photoshop, so just close your eyes and image Ol’ Dirty Bastard and Dean Martin shooting craps in a backroom casino, while porn queen Traci Lords teaches a group of bruiser cops to slow dance to the remnants of the Minutemen jamming out the back catalog. Welcome to Steubenville . . .