Hello! It’s Drew & Natalie Dee, who you know from Married To The Sea, The Worst Things For Sale, and other online projects. We’re working with Substack to create Garbage Brain University, a brand-new weekly newsletter and podcast where we’re collecting and sharing weird facts and stories. Some of our episodes will be for paid subscribers only, and some will be for everyone to listen to for free.
You’ll be able to listen to Garbage Brain University on your favorite podcast app soon, but since this is your sneak preview from being an OG reader, we don’t have syndication set up quite yet. The first episode is attached here, and you’ll be able to re-listen or download it, along with our future eps, at garbagebrainuniversity.com.
Our first installment explores the weirdest parts of Ohio, the heart-shaped state where 11,700,000 people reside today.
We talked about Ohio’s weird flag on Episode 1 of Garbage Brain University, but in case you haven’t listened yet, here it is. It’s the only non-rectangular state flag, and as we discovered, this shape is called a “burgee.” Ohio didn’t have a state flag for almost a hundred years after it became a state, finally adopting the design above when the Cleveland architect John Eisenmann created it for a World’s Fair in 1901, leading state leaders to declare “Fuck it, that’s our state flag now.”
Until recently, the worst President in American history was Ohioan Warren G. Harding. You’ll have to listen to the ‘cast to hear exactly why, but Natalie shares some knowledge of his misdeeds she picked up from living in his hometown of Marion, Ohio. One of the facts we didn’t touch on is that he bought the failing Marion Star, built up its bottom line by refusing to pay its employees, and turned it into a successful paper by manipulating and conning everyone he could. If this (or naming his dong Jerry and talking at length about Jerry in letters to his mistress) intrigues you, the book “Dead Last: The Public Memory Of Warren G. Harding’s Scandalous Legacy” might be up your alley.
This is the Merchant Ball, which mysteriously rotates on its stone base over time. What causes it? Nobody knows. But we’ve been to this cemetery a few times, and the damn spot is always in a different place. It’s probably ghosts, because that’s the coolest explanation. Atlas Obscura suggests it moves through “imperceptable vibration.” But what causes the vibration? Probably ghosts.
Did you know there are 14 to 18 islands in Ohio, depending on how you define “island”? We talked this week on Garbage Brain University about how harrowing it can be to cross Lake Erie, the body of water that separates Ohio from Canada, just to get to one of them. There’s also Rattlesnake Island, Starve Island, Mouse Island, Sugar Island, and a dozen more.
We also talked about the Ohio glaciers, Gummo, local climate-change deniers, “butter lung” (a real medical condition,) the super-tornado, and other local facts and lore. Give it a listen now - it’s less than an hour long - and if you like it, consider subscribing. Here’s a button that gives you half-off your first month, if you’re cool enough to subscribe right now.
As always, we hope you enjoy this new project and consider throwing us a bone so we can keep making more! Thanks to Substack for providing the newsletter/podcast service, and to you, our readers and listeners, for continuing to enjoy our work.
Drew & Natalie Dee