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Editorial: How Northern Kentucky is Like HBO's "Game of Thrones"

The following editorial was presented at RCN Live! on Saturday, January 23, by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News.

That's the theme song and opening titles sequence for the hit HBO series Game of Thrones, my favorite show on television. I'm not a fan of the fantasy genre -- I've never even seen Lord of the Rings -- but this show, I'm obsessed!
 
And recently it hit me as to why...
 
It's an epic fantasy drama about historic rivalries between storied families, endless maneuvering to gain more clout, constant infighting and scheming, sneaky magicians, heroes, warriors, villains, and fire-breathing dragons.
 
In other words, a perfect allegory of Northern Kentucky.
 
Think about a place with a weird name... loose factions of governments... a constant secret and conniving battle to reign supreme... long-standing petty rivalries that should have been quashed centuries ago... a place with valiant visionary heroes... and others looking out only for themselves and their friends... And every year brings another round of maneuvering for control and influence.
 
Think about those things and you have a place called Westeros.
 
But you also have a place called Northern Kentucky.
 
Isn't it time that we stop laughing about how ridiculously inefficient we are up here based on the traits we share with a television show that at least gets an Emmy at the end of the season?
 
We don't even get the right amount money for our public university.
 
Isn't it time we stop asking questions about it and start answering those questions?
 
Think about this: Drive east on Route 8 and when it stops being Fairfield Avenue in Bellevue and becomes Sixth Avenue in Dayton, you'll find yourself at a street called O'Fallon. You'll know this because on the southeast corner, Bellevue has a street sign saying so.
 
And on the other side of the street, so does Dayton.
 
One street, two signs, each in the style of the neighboring cities.
 
In other words, in the style of the banners of House Dayton and House Bellevue, in their centuries-long epic fantasy rival, two battle flags pounding the winds, one black and gold, the other green and white.
 
Then, take Route 8 west and cross through the lands of the mighty House Ludlow until you reach the village of Bromley, where the once powerful... um... Bromlerians once conquered and ruled, but now pretty much just confuse everyone.
 
But know this: If your travels along the epic Route 8 leave you requiring the assistance of an ambulance, here's what could happen. You'd call 911 and reach Kenton County Dispatch, the dispatcher would contact the Bromley Volunteer Fire Department which would dispatch a third-party contractor called Rural Metro which could be as far away as Fort Thomas -- the emerald city of County Campbell in our version of an HBO series. Sure, House Ludlow is possibly even closer to you then the Bromlerians themselves, but they must not be contacted -- only as a last resort.
 
So, if the Bromlerians can't respond and House Ludlow can't be trusted, and Rural Metro, which would be known on our version Game of Thrones as being like those rent-by-the-war soldiers called sellswords, can't get there quickly enough, emergency services could be provided by the neighboring coalition of the... um...  Springs of Crescent and the Hills of Villa, whose historic bond traces back to the ancient age when the southbank and the northbank still touched.
 
Only then, the dispatch situation may get a little weird since the Springs of Crescent uses House Erlanger for dispatch and the Hills of Villa uses County Kenton.
 
But why should this matter to you? The only thing you need is an ambulance.
 
I could go on and so could you, but tonight is supposed to be more of a "Nameday" and less of a "Red Wedding".
 
But here's the thing: If Northern Kentucky is going to act like a hit HBO series, I think it should at least have its own opening title sequence. So, I asked my very good friend Cam Miller to create this:

On HBO's Game of Thrones, there is a consistent warning from the characters: They say "Winter is coming."
 
Winter can refer to the brutal season that lasts far longer in Westeros than the simple season that we know, but it could also refer to the arrival of the scariest creatures known to man in the Seven Kingdoms.
 
On the HBO show, they're called White Walkers.
 
In our version, we'll call them... Ohioans. Just for the sake of reference!
 
"Winter is coming" could also refer to the general angst and concern about the future of the realm, and the rampant drumming of the call to action to make sure everyone is prepared to succeed.
 
Well, on our version of Game of Thrones, we're not afforded the luxury of such a warning. So, we're probably way behind on figuring out how to make this region work better for housing, schools, funding, infrastructure, emergency services, taxes, utilities, and government.
 
So, we'd better get serious, don't you think?
 
No, we don't get a warning anymore.
 
Instead, we get to look outside the window to know that winter is already here.
 
-Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher, with video by Cam Miller Films