An e-zine for happenings of local culture in Milwaukee and elsewhere


Heart of Gold, Dropout Arts, Soulstice Theatre, This is Our Youth

He’s slumming it, holed up in a hard to access apartment that makes his visitors traverse an obstacle course of doors, stairs and narrow passages to get in his company. He likes it better that way. He’s kind of high-strung, domineering and paranoid, a “real-player” in the criminal underworld in his own mind. Cops, Feds, fellow crooks? Dennis (Claudio Parrone, Jr.) has them all outsmarted.

His friends are a band of degenerate, damaged and party-loving kids, especially Warren (Jalen Jacob Bernard). His gangly frame shudders faintly with petrified fear in every mannerism and phrase he utters. Who can blame him, he’s got enough bad childhood experiences to fill a large suitcase. Unwanted, abused and unappreciated by everyone he knows, including his father. He finds his only solace in the possession of Dennis, green-leaves that fit nicely into a glass pipe when smashed, carrying the powers of escape. Dennis makes him pay in more ways than one to get the keys to his mental trailer home. They together no doubt will find ways to go further.

In web of bad decisions and boredom, Jessica (Erin Nichole Eggers) enters a stranger and becomes a familiar face in no time. Are you really a stranger if the same pretense guiding everyone else guides your every step? Thoughts in the same narrow frequency of youth, in convenient emotional proximity, transmit the answer, assuredly. The only question might be your name, and does that really even matter?Spiraling in the same notebook, filled back to front with scribbles and incoherent ideas, they flip through looking for another inch to scratch something down. It’ll surely be a disaster no matter what.

No Adults Here

Co-Directors Robb T. Preston and Claudio Parrone Jr. take Kenneth Lonergan’s playbill This is Our Youth and run their own adaptation, working their own angles in physical and dramatic space creating a believable and at times appropriately cringeworthy, interplay between character, prop, and scenic design.   

Lonergan’s, piece written in 1996 and set in 1982, rings relevant today as he gives personage to one of American society’s most unreachable crevices, urban upper-class youth. In this context, Preston and Parrone Jr. work magic through Dennis and Warren, superimposing the starkest contrast of relationships found in youth and adult social adjustment. 

Originally, staged by Lonergan in the realm of New York Jew-dom, Dropout Arts’ creative team opens this capsule to by casting Barnard, who is conceivably African-American, as Warren and Parrone who is conceivably Italian-American, as Dennis. Whether they intend color-blind or alternative casting is not entirely clear however, the impact is stunning as the audience must suddenly put in perspective the implications of a rich black kid, not hardened by the dark corners of poverty, being bullied and emasculated repeatedly by a rich white kid emboldened by a white social reality that privileges Dennis as the alpha dog, by custom and birthright. 

Jessica (Eggers) floats into the story with the controlled abandon of a jaded-bohemian we can today attribute to the urban suburban-transplant hipster chick, reveling in her delusions of personal independence and social indignation towards anything established, while being tethered to her intact stable home-life. 

She is convincing as curious, conniving, mercurial and opportunistic. Warren (Benard) in his own right the same, as unrecognizably mamed from serial invalidation; Parrone’s portrayal of Dennis, game-enough for a larger marquee, while evoking a certain vile, yet infectious, brand of misygony enough to where you may want to spit or play wack-a-brat on a ficticious character.

This is Our Youth runs tonite September 18 and Saturday September 19 at 7:30p at Soulstice Theatre (although Thursday’s performance time was listed at 8:00p and started a little bit after to allow people to arrive). Run time is a little long at 2 hours 15 minutes, and on positive note doesn’t drag on to make it feel that long.

Production credits of Dropout Arts run of This is Our Youth also go to Parrone (Technical Director), Zach Rosado and Jessica Greenhoe (Stage Management), Preston (Sound Design), Cristian Torres Gomez (Set design), Leah Lynn Preston and Taylor Halvorsen (Graphics and Marketing, and Nicholas Ravnikar (Dramaturg). 

T’official, adoptahighway, Qualmness, A Fault p. 3

Adoptahighway is one of my favorite efforts out these days, and those. He’s built a ill body of work, churning content hard these past five years. The promo piece Qualmness off of his pressed LP A Fault continues culminating the melodic remedy he’s been treating us with.


Check the Video: Qualmness, adoptahighway via Wes Tank on Vimeo 2015

Blockhead crept in at Stone Fly for a banger cameo back in 2012. I stopped in to get my fill of nice beats and he dude is killing it with the controller. Breaking my usual form, of not running-up heaping awsomes on kids after they perform, I went up to him and gave my propers. Turns out it’s adoptahighway, ear recognize ear.

More recently he’s featured on 414Melt, while keeping a few other side projects flowing.

Check around might be some LPs still floating around Exclusive, Acme or Rushmor, download off of adoptahighway Bandcamp.

Can You See? Mad Planet, Busdriver

Damn conventional wisdom, Busdriver still matters if he don’t get heard. It baffles me that a dude can collaborate with one of the illest, illest, rappers of all time Aceyalone as a teen,  put out give-or-take 12 albums through out the 2000’s into today, and still be okay paying dues. That’s probably why he’s so raw. Not trying too hard to be cool, and being cool being among the good people. 

In 2014, Busdriver let Open Mic Eagle, Nocando, and Milo kill it before he let loose some sheit that had me thinking “this is what Socrates was talking about with The Cave.”  Do you know what you’re seeing?

Busdriver at MadPlanet, Dorner vs Tookie Tour, 2014

Busdriver getting it with a pretty lovely local slate putting on, Lorde Fredd33, Zed Kenzo, Milo and admirable Miltown Beatdown competitor hitmayng jockying tonite at Mad Planet.

Man in a Mask, Angela Iannone, Theater Red, Seeds of Banquo

The build-up was there. I’m sitting with Marcee Doherty-Elst as she pauses before rehearsal. She’s one of Theater Red’s creative directors. They’re producing an a Edwin Booth inspired production entitled Seeds of Banquo. Edwin Booth? Booth rings a bell. That surname echoes through the collective memory held by our history. It rings present to this day more in infamy, for some twisted minds heralded. There’s a connection and a story.

I see thin and limber figure striding ahead in all black. An easy going tank hidden by a featherweight black cardigan drapes over her, the stretchy fabric of her black jeans outlines her legs blending her silhouette against the street-scene. Angela Iannone snatches her mirrored sunglasses down in the falling daylight, “The traffic was terrible from downtown, I got here as quickly as I could,” She’s barely a minutes after when we said we’d meet. Besides Marcee’s been keeping me company.

To the Fore

Theater Red makes stage drama placing women deliberately in substantial roles up and down every playbill, prominently. Shakespeare’s classics receive no exception. Doherty-Elst, co-producer and player in Seeds of Banquo, emphatically attests Theater Red’s mission of supporting endeavors that bring new works such as Jared McDaris’ “New Elizabethan” rendition 1,000 Times Good Night to stage. More to her point on her company’s artistic ethos, they take stories such as Robin Hood and turn them inquisitively to the perspective of the heroine, as staged in Theater Red’s upcoming production Lady in Waiting, told from Maid Marian’s eyes.

Doherty-Elst graciously brings my attention back to Iannone. She’s been at Ten Chimney’s. Okay fine. She’s played lead as Maria Callas in Milwaukee Chamber’s production Master Class. Titan Theater NYC has had her, hmm well. She’s contributed to the The Players in NYC, Edwin Booth’s Theater. Edwin Booth, my-god I was just reading about this guy.

Greetings Mr. Booth

“He’s simply the greatest American actor in history,” Iannone opens a historical trap door and pushes me in, “As an artist, he founded countless conventions modern Theater.” Wait, Booth? The same guy that as recently as 2014 had fluffy internet articles posted about how he saved President Lincoln’s son, pulling him back atop a NJ platform with his bare hands, out of the path of a passenger train. Edwin Booth did not know who Robert Lincoln was. Ironically, Booth does this deed just months before his older brother John Wilkes shot the President dead in Ford Theatre.

It’s fairly well know that John Wilkes Booth stage acted before sealing his infamy, but his brother Edwin is scarcely mentioned in the conversations of contemporary society. Although Edwin Booth was internationally renowned, and recognized in fact by Robert Lincoln as his hero (something Iannone confirms as akin to being rescued by Marlon Brando), in the times following Lincoln’s assassination Booth spent tireless hours trying to scrub clean the bucket of red paint John Wilkes spilled on his family’s legacy. Even so, contributions, accomplishments and all, Edwin Booth stays largely in the shadows of contemporary cultural knowledge. Iannone spiritedly delivers her theory.

“There came a point in the 20th century when society became more interested in morbidity.” Maybe there’s something true in her assessment. Generally speaking, today’s octopus tentacled media and entertainment industry thrives when it’s bloody, shot dead and blown-up. I’ve asked several friends who are respectably versed in theater about Edwin Booth and they all said the same thing, “Sounds familiar.”

Is there more, Mr. Booth?

Iannone shares with me Booth’s backstage meticulousness. Her mind, replete with anecdotes and annotations of his life’s work, spills forth. He ran his own theatre in New York in the mid 19th century, The Players Club. His theater still lives to this day. He had stints in San Francisco and Richmond, and London. He came up with the idea of dimming the house lights during the performance. He used gaslight lanterns. He used full-force fighting techniques, deploying fencing and sword dueling. He developed sound cues and other backstage tech effects.

He joined Sir Henry Irving in 1881, at the struggling Lynceum Theatre in London, and called on Bram Stoker to help jolt the company back to life with a production of Othello. In a keen example of Booth’s brilliance, and he himself being an agent of social change during ante- and post-bellum America, a suffragist and abolitionist, he cast himself as Othello, and defied convention of using black-face to emulate the appearance of the Moor. Booth even frequented Milwaukee, often the benefactor of Fredrick Pabst’s patronage and esteemed player on the Pabst Theatre stage.

Booth took copious notes of his productions in prompt book, left sketches and diagrams, volumes of material that today warrant a place in present day consciousness. His social club and library The Players NYC in Manhattan, remains on many historic preservation lists. Iannone happens to be a preeminent scholar of Booth, and has referenced his notes and prompt books to guide a series of Edwin Booth inspired productions. Seeds of Banquo is the forth in this dramatic cycle.

Shall we, Mr. Booth?

Iannone’s previous odes to Booth entitled The Edwin Booth Company Presents (2011), The Prison Where I Live (2013), and Irving & Booth in Othello (2014), were performed locally and also hit stages that included The Players NYC and Titan Theatre in New York, in which among other topics, Booth is celebrated for his masterful play as one of the greatest Hamlet’s to ever cross the stage.

Iannone stirred flavor into these works, ingredients that purposefully accent the Acts with Victorian era mannerisms fitting of Booth’s time. With greater emphasis, she highlights Booth’s greatest contribution to theater cannon, his signature American Natural Style of performance that emphasized subtlety, distance, grace, emotion and voice in his players’ gestures and movement, a stark contrast from the stilted and overblown styles of his predecessors.

With your own Eye’s

In Angela Iannone’s current project, Seeds of Banquo, we go backstage with Edwin Booth played by John Glowacki, and his friend and rival Lawrence Barrett (Cory Jefferson Hagan), and contemporaries Owen Fawcett (Bryan Quinn), Mrs. DP Bowers (Marcee Doherty-Elst) as they workshop Booth’s production of Shakespeare’s cursed classic, MacBeth. Guided by his own thoughts when he was directing his own version of MacBeth over a century ago, we are brought closer to Edwin Booth. the man and artist, as he and his cast trade barbs, quips and insight, trying to find a meaning in their pursuit to build on what Shakespeare established.

I jest with Iannone, “So you pretty much have built an Edwin Booth time machine.” I sense she sees me becoming more intrigued by the moment, “I never thought it so, but I’ll go along with it.” I sense she knows she’s done something special.

Seeds of Banquo opened August 13, at the Soulstice Theatre in St. Francis, which has a wonderful new stand alone space on 3770 S. Pennsylvania Ave, and has five runs left beginning this Wednesday August 19, with additional performances August 20, 21, 22 all at 7:30p and a closing matinee Sunday, August 23 at 2:00pm.

Connoisseur Culture, Get Shaved, Bare Knuckle Barbery

I bet you think you know the secrets to the perfect shave: one of those 7 blade self-gyrating plastic razors and some electric turqoise gel goop; It’s not your fault, you just havn’t come across Bare Knuckle Barbery yet.

Oh, it’s the lather! And just as important as using natural shaving cream, is the vehicle for delivering it to your negleted man-skin. Bare Knuckle Barbery specializes in matching this notorius pair.

Craftsman Tony Peterson has melded an eternal bond between his search for purity in pre-industrial ways of knowing – among other things – how to shave, and his skilled hand for woodworking. He carves, lathes and laqures shaving brushes made from ethically sourced wood coming from a variety of deciduous tree burles. Bare Knuckle’s shaving brush menu includes maple, cherry, African leopard wood, and Brazilian lignum vitae; where my arborist geeks at?


Peterson also affixes the brush fibers by hand, in sythetic and natural varieties. Interestingly, enough the natural fibers are imported badger hairs, used for their unique quality of being the only small mammal coat that absorbs water.

Ladies don’t feel left out, these shaving products aren’t just for men either. You can shave whatever needs shaving, gently. In addition to shaving wares, Bare Knuckle Barbery also caries some pretty fancy wooden barrettes of curley walnut and tumor tree burle. Premium wood products do come with a price, at least you know these are loved and made with care.

Even if you sport one of those fancy poop-catching beards, you still got to shave your neck once and awhile. A good shave is even more important to the relatively clean cut crowd, and for Dads it’s high time for them to finally start pampering their jawbones. 

Bare Knuckle Barbery sets up about as far in the crannies as you can get, nestled in the back corner of the building that houses the thrift decore shop ReSource, sharing a modest space with Milwaukee Candle and Apocrathy on Vliet Street in Washington Heights. Both proprietors have online stores.