I like the idea of a one block tour, it’s the next best thing to traveling all over the country chasing your favorite bands! Keepers of the local ART Milwaukee are making it happen this Saturday on Brady Street all day with the Eastside Music Tour. They strung together an all day line up of shows to benefit the Cass Street School playground, which may soon be the grounds of Maryland Montessori. The overgrown and cuddly beasts calling the playground home need a new paint job.
The shows start at 4p and there are many. The entire line-up is pretty extreme, each hour will have a different band at up to 11 different locations simultaneously around the Brady Street Area. There are some obvious dinner time starts like Joe Wray (Cempazuchi at 4p) and Evan Christian (Casablanca at 5p), both solo crooners of the Rock, Blues and Blues and Soul persuasion.
Trocadero will have Fresh Cut Collective and Kane Place Record Club back to back starting at 7p in the Redlight, where they used to show soft romantic videos after hours (not to be confused with the now burned out Red Room). Roxie Beane, an extremely popular local rocker, also has a 7p slot (at Hybrid).
No Praise Required
If you’re in the mood for potentially new-to-you music, a couple of acts come to mind. The Thriftones mixes cocktail of rock and roll genres having all the ingredients that will give you plenty ambiance to day-drink to. I saw their recent Frank’s Power Plant show and they left quite an impression. More here… Birth of a Buzz, Thriftones, http://wp.me/p1hPwN-1y3
On a whole different wavelength at 9p, Crisp will have Albydamned and Demix a duo that master party time like no other. They collaborate on a electronic music showcase called Beyond Awesome, and it is just that. Beyond Awesome recently collaborated with local beat-makers Deletah and special guest Team Bayside High to put on a ridiculous show. Don’t even try to sample this music on your computer speakers. More here… Miramar Theatre, Beyond Awesome, http://wp.me/p1hPwN-1zI
Tickets to the Eastside Music Tour are available in advance only! If you haven’t gotten your tickets yet, only “Procrastinator Tickets” are available. Sucking for you they don’t come with a Fanny Pack or T-Shirt. For $15 you can get into whatever shows have room for you, and you also get exclusive Milwaukee deals and specials.
If you heard a rumor that there was a giant coffee cup being hoisted atop a building you can confirm that just by heading east down I-794. The giant rooftop cup, a beacon to all wayward coffee drinkers, signifies you can now sip Stone Creek Coffee slowly at their shining new Factory Store on 5th and St. Paul.
Stone Creek Coffee Factory Store serves up quality and well sourced grind all week, very early on weekdays opening at 5:30a, then 6:00a on Sat and 7:00a on Sun.
Spacious, comfortable and modest, the Stone Creek Factory Store retained the old world charm of given by original building architects Burnham and Root, with vintage cabin completeness provided by Kubala Washakto (a slightly style-cramping choice of architects considering they also designed Alterra’s corporate headquarters). Not moments after entering Stone Creek’s vestibule, do you experience l0arge glass panels beckoning you to enter the cafe to see just how nice inside looks.
At the Factory Store opening, Stone Creek’s renewed industrial interior, formerly just their headquarters and roasting facility, provides a ideal setting for coffee consumption and bustles with activity. It feels like an unpretentious resort suitable for Stone Creek’s typical patronage, a pleasant and seemly crowd not quite spanning the cultural spectrum the way Alterra does. Friendly, knowledgeable Barristas have a marked presence, as well as ample seating at big tables suitable for accommodating feasts in ancient Saxony.
Method to the Cup
Stone Creek still has a Barrista school where its employees hone their craft of brewing and cupping. A kind fellow stands at the coffee bar practice area ready to demonstrate the traditional drip method of brewing. The mock Barrista station captures the intensity of a chemistry lab. Several glass vessels rest on top of digital scales consecutively, cradle ceramic drip cones in their openings. A tea kettle holding water heats up with a digital thermometer monitoring its temperature. In grave detail, the fellow explains that preparation of a single cup of coffee using the drip method suits his personal preference. An emphasis on the precise weight of beans and type of grind, ensures that what the vessel captures, when water brought just below a boil slowly soaks through the coffee and filter, impresses the pallet of those with discerning taste.
Further leaping into maturity, not that Stone Creek hadn’t outdone itself with the primary features of the remodel, baked goods now come in-sourced fresh from its newly christened commercial backing facility. Goodies make it from oven to plate, pipping fresh, and quicker than ever. Stone Creek’s coffee couldn’t be happier.
Stone Creek’s flagship store gets tons of credit for adding a little commerce to an otherwise bleak area for retail business of any kind. Sitting at the footsteps of the Central Post Office and Intermodal Station, and a stones throw from We Energies, an obvious captive market will inevitablely tip their cups. Let’s hope that some spillover from the Third Ward Association’s innovations in pedestrian experience and attempts to heighten awareness of activating dead spaces like Brighten the Passage, can meet West Town and the City halfway and alleviate the bleak walking conditions from surrounding areas to make an even greater success story for Downtown.
I’ll never get used to the receding daylight suffered by fall changing to winter. The premature darkness did allow the new inhabitants of Truly Spoken’s old space to feature their fine vintage replacement framed window glass under studio lighting. There’s a market around here for that huh? That’s the kind ingenuity you expect to see these days unfortunately. Nice to see someone making lemonade out of it.
Keeping with its long-suffering reputation as the hotbed for everything an urban cross-roads should have, Riverwest proudly watched one of its more established artist venues, Jackpot Gallery, open a new show titled Nicotine Bliss. The Jackpot Gallery show opened November 9th and helped demonstrate the robust bandwidth Milwaukee’s art scene has achieved; The Portrait Society Gallery’s unveiling happened to be on the same night attracting a whole different crowd.
via AnthonyMikkelson on YouTube
Unsel Fish Guild
Headlined by no-one in particular, 14 artist shacked up on Jackpots’ walls for Nicotine Bliss. Pieces touched on traditional forms of painting and print-making, and went guerrilla, pop and re-purposed.
Anthony Mikkelson minds the design spaces ACME and Used Car Studios shared his insights on the sights from his world and beyond. Several of his pieces presented illustrations of characters, objects and street-scapes endemic to urban areas. Channeling folk-artsiness for a few pieces, ACME scrawled deliberately on reused objects such as wood board and LP liners, leaving urban artifacts and relics of this current age.
Gregory Martens went ballistic depicting the end of days in series of prints that stopped time in several locales spread far and wide across the continents. As the rapture occurs, the sights, sounds, and amazement of that moment culminate in natural, celestial and symbolic realms colliding with known and unknown forces amidst the final cataclysm. Martens brings this world to our un-believing eyes applying print-making techniques to oversized paper.
A Matter of Medium
As much about the final product, as the method of reaching the consumable image, the works comprising the Nicotine Bliss installation all share the desire to go new places, off-canvas, and away from acrylic paint. Paul Kjelland really stood tall applying hand cut paper techniques.
With a precise razor blade, Kjelland took two very pop images of youth doing youthful things and simulated posterizing effects on them, with cuts leaving only the essential details of the image, then coloring them with a glazes of spray paint until the images looked as if they could be stills from A Scanner Darkly.
Contributing healthily to the Nicotine Bliss show also were Lindsay Marx (a painter of growing infamy), Brad Warsh, Lois Galvez, Levon Turner, Ahmad Kearney, Ella Dwyer, Max Senesac, Kellen Kroening, Jenna Wilson, Joshua Carol and Kate Luscher.
Nicotine Bliss tears down November 27th.
via FritsisNietzsche on YouTube
Just past 84th and National Avenue, we weave through some barricades placed in the middle of the road to ward off through traffic. We get one maneuver closer to having some Peruvian food from an obscure three month-old niche eatery called Chef Paz. A bunch of construction shouldn’t stop from you from going anywhere now should it? Especially, not West Allis.
I could talk about how enamored I feel driving through West Allis, a.k.a Stallis, and marveling at the shear volume of corner and mid-block pubs and windowless bar and grills enjoying above average patronage on a weekday night. Throw in my pleasant dining experience at Chez Paz, and my work week becomes a little more bearable.
A decorative iron gate encloses the patio seating just outside the entry-way. Entering Chez Paz, a minimally repurposed diner layout holds some continuity from the restaurant’s previous occupants legacy, spheroid lunch counter and all. A layer of mint green paint covering the stucco walls makes an impression on your eyes.
Chef Paz’s cuisine fuses hearty comfort food we know and love Stateside, with preparation uniquely South American. The menu emphasizes interpretations of rice and bean based dishes found throughout the world and the venerable combination of steak and seafood. Traditional American, Asian and Italian recipes get an Andean make-over for those looking for something more familiar.
Way Down Home Cooking
A meal for every appetite, the opening courses glanced Tex-mex favorites like empanadas and “tamals” done with a Peruvian spin, served with a memorable creamy salsa verde. For the main course, I chose a hefty portion of paella loaded with shrimp, calamari and mussels, complete with a shell-on whole-head shrimp garnish. The closing courses will help you indulge further as you manically scoop sinfully rich mousses or custard-y deliciousness from small glass cups.
Chez Paz fires up the kitchen Sunday through Monday just before the lunch hour and closes at 8p weekday and 9 on the weekends. Prices correlate directly with the amount of food ordered, with superb flavor held constant and weekday dinner specials for $6.99.
Two new Peruvian restaurants open on National Avenue by Damien Jaques, OnMilwaukee
For a small pond, Milwaukee has never shied away from rivalry. In the battle grounds of Milwaukee’s corner taverns and mid-block pubs, brew masters watched their glory pour from beer taps. More recently, Milwaukee’s other favorite brew has inspired a less overt battle to fill coffee house mugs with specialty blends caffeinated beverages. What more fitting place for a friendly business duel to take place, but at the intersection in Bay View where Lincoln, Kinnickinnic, Allis and Howell Avenue create the most conspicuous conglomeration street corners per acre of anywhere in Southeastern Wisconsin.
If Bay View were Greenwich, Connecticut Alterra Coffee Roasters would be the Jones’. The coffee brewers that auspiciously broke-in a vacant garage on the Eastside in 1992 before the curse cast on Prospect Mall took hold, in 2012 leveled the old Maritime Bank building a redeveloped it into a LEED-certified coffee super cabin suitable for a mountainside lot in Boulder, Colorado.
Much conversation titillates around the subject of coffee culture and Alterra just upped the ante. More like a coffee resort, their open air patio sits adjacent to a convertible vestibule that leads to the lobby’s order counter. A flock of hip and forward thinking parents and yuppies, are joined by counter-thinking parents and hipsters in a line reaching the sidewalk on KK. Hustling servers of all ages and persuasions, from tattooed to typical, cut through the through the faux log tables and chairs, to seek out and deliver goodies to those dining on the patio.
On Alterra’s upstairs level, though the garage door window was closed, the lofted space still felt like a high-end stilted bungalow in Costa Rica. Despite the pomp and trendiness, we all know that Alterra serves extremely tasty coffee, including the house coffee that was barely phased by a few of tablespoons of half and half, truly fitting for a coffee blend represented by the rock star accentuating the “A” in Alterra.
Keep that Upper Lip Stiff
Having a niche is sometimes just as good as being at the top of your game. Nestled in behind a patch of birch trees, Stone Creek Coffee’s shop exudes the understated and connoisseur quality of its founder. Eric Resch started Stone Creek around the same time Lincoln Fowler, Ward Fowler and Paul Miller jump started Alterra, today the shops are kind of like two cool brothers that took different paths to productive adulthoods.
Baristas tending to a quaint and quiet lounge area, with comfy leather chairs and wood furnishings holding an impeccable golden maple stain, patiently wait for customers to settle on their beverage choices. A modest but sweet selection of bakery and reasonably priced fruit awaits a chance to accompany a smooth cup of freshly drawn coffee. The patrons inside and out have their coffee without a fuss, a bit motley in their own right. The down-to-earth nature of Bay View has thoroughly soaked into the Stone Creek establishment, you might barely know it’s there riding past. Stone Creek’s visual impact barely distinguishes the shop from the surrounding landscape.
Not too long ago Stone Creek did some remodeling of its own. The patio is set with rugged green steel chairs that offer a surprising level of comfort despite their riveted all-conditions design. All-weather industrial strength umbrellas anchored in place shield the tables from the rain or shine. Elongated park benches give a few additional places to settle. A traditional garden fountain trickles audibly, miraculously drowning-out road noise that one might imagine enveloping your outdoor experience, but it just doesn’t.
The coffee tables inside, situated in an acceptable and not too cozy proximity to one another, offer various vantage points, inspired by the Stone Creek slogan accordingly, from which to sip your coffee slowly. Large screened windows make the counter area into a sun porch overlooking the cafe’s patio. Favoring kinship to the traditional beer brew pubs of Milwaukee, Stone Creek notably serves a house ice brewed coffee straight from a beer tap into single serve cups, or take-away refillable growlers, as if you needed a reason to come back.
Enough Sippers for All Occasions
Alterra Coffee Roasters and Stone Creek Coffee Roasters do the brewers of Milwaukee’s past proud Monday – Sunday during regular coffee drinking hours, fittingly with Stone Creek opening a little earlier and Alterra closing a little later.
Growing legend and proprietor of Growing Power Will Allen delayed the grand opening of the Growing Power Deli and Market to pay small token of respect to his neighbors in Oak Creek. Just another reflection of the thoughtfulness that lends soulful heartiness to Growing Power’s most recent effort to sew seeds where they are most needed and might take. MLK is ready to add a handsome crop to its mixed yield of previous development plantings; across the street lay the hulls of Stella’s Restaurant, which before that was a Ponderosa Steakhouse.
In partnership with the King Commons development in the Harambee neighborhood, Growing Power now offers fresh produce and dry goods in a retail market storefront located on Martin Luther King Drive just north of Center Street. To make it even better, there is a modest but appetizing menu of sandwiches and salads salads available from the cafe’s kitchen. MilwaukeeMag did a taste test of the chicken and dumplings, jumbalaya and the Cucavo (cucumber and avocado) sandwich. Then there is every grill’s old reliable: the burger.
The Great Burger Debate
Much ongoing talk is uttered concerning the where-to for a great burger in Milwaukee. Growing Power can safely join the shortlist. For a flat $6, you get a thick grass-feed lean beef patty that you can have with your choice/combination of fixings and bread. The great part about grass-fed beef, in similar way as with free-range chicken eggs, you are reminded of how accustom to com-agra products you are as to find adequately raised and prepared meat and vegetables surprisingly full of unfamiliarly delicious flavors.
I choose to have my burger with pepper jack cheese, Growing Power’s famous mixed-green lettuce, tomato and fried onions. Half-way through my meal, it didn’t cross my mind to rip the corners off of my mustard packets. Don’t bother asking for fries, the menu is designed to fight unhealthy food choices. Instead Growing Power’s produce refrigerators have many choices to accompany any meal. I chose a handful of fresh and crispy green beans for fifty cents.
Growing Power Deli and Market’s friendly service and nice causal atmosphere comes with all the great food Monday through Saturday from 7:00a to 4:00p, serving coffee, bakery and breakfast sandwiches, and a variety of other lunch fare.
Growing Power Aims to bring fresh produce to food desert by Lori Friedrich, OnMilwaukee
The Growing Power Cafe by Chris Christie, MilwaukeeMag
The Growing Power’s Deli and Food Market open for breakfast and lunch by Carol Deptolla, TapMilwaukee
They say “home is where the heart is” and “food is the way to the heart”, if these pillars of coventional wisdom prove true HeartLove Place has a good thing going. A community organization fulfilling their congregation’s calling for Christian ministry, HeartLove Place teaches aspiring chefs how to feed their appetite for culinary knowledge, while cooking up catered goodness for taste buds only satiated by savory and sweet flavors.
Skills Well Done
For those wanting to master skills in the kitchen they’ve gained whipping up tasty meals for themselves and loved ones, HeartLove Place runs ProStart a nationally recognized culinary curriculum accredited by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation . If you satisfactorily make mouths water to NRAEF standards some University of Wisconsin-System schools will recognize your accomplishment with Bachelor degree credit in Hospitality and Food Science related fields of study. HeartLove’s ProStart curriculum covers everything from hospitality responsibilities, nutrition science, and wine tasting to health codes, purchasing and accounting controls.
Make My Mouth Water Please
Want to bring ethnic and American food flavors to your next event? HeartLove Place has a full suite menu of meals available through HeartLove’s catering services. If your event’s main courses covered already, strongly consider securing sweet-tooth satisfaction from HeartLove‘s mixing-bowl. Local Trolley‘s primary recommendation Carmel Cake!
For more information of the ProStart culinary arts program contact Chef Dion Williams (414) 372-1550 ext. 128 or by email email@example.com. For catering details contact Devin Hudson (414) 372 – 1550 ext. 124 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mason Street storefronts got a new neighbor last September, and that neighbor has a little moxie too. Just a door down from the Delind Gallery of Fine Art, Leslie Hindman Auctioneers stage vintage, couture and fine art for auction.
Prepping for the Summer auction season, Leslie Hindman Auctioneers hosted an opening reception last Saturday and has several previews, of contemporary art and prints that will also on be on the block, planned for the coming week. Hindman’s auction stock includes work of contemporary giants Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, and some niche tastes with local ties that spotlight Francesco Spicuzza and work brushed by members of the Sister’s of St. Francis Assisi.
Controlled breathing may suite you well when entering the show room. Fragile and finely crafted furniture and housewares sit gingerly, made from precious and semi-precious metals, glass and porcelain. The array of rare items available through Leslie Hindman’s inventory even span ornately bound volumes of reference books and original manuscripts, and couture fashion (yes, original Christian Dior among the seams)
Although most of Leslie Hindman’s items price rather thick for the blood of common stock, many highly cherishable pieces fall well within the reach of a budding collector. Discerning taste catches quickly. As much about art as aesthetic, Leslie Hindman Auctioneers’ eye’s for design and decor prove contagious even for those who’s heels are a little worn, but have noses formed well enough to look down. Starring maybe be rude, but looking can create a quick and interesting stop on a leisurely early and stylish evening out in Eastown.
Leslie Hindman Auctioneers are based in Chicago, with Milwaukee as one of only four other offices in the United States. Previews of Leslie Hindman Auctioneers old, master, and contemporary art section, of the auction opening April 29th, commence April 25 and end May 1. Here’s what the full Spring and Summer auction schedule has in store.
It hangs out on a block best known for the grizzly working-class pub Steny’s, smushed-up next to Fat Daddy’s. Making use of the sign design made famous by Southern used car lots, coin-sized dots spell “Lo Cash”, shimmering flecks of silvery sunlight off the side of the building.
The interior decor although not brand-spanking new has yet accumulated the drinking hours to adequately absorb the savory juices that amply flow from the kitchen, a dive in the making. A neon sign couldn’t even bring it attention. Lo Cash Live keeps the low-key atmosphere of the 5th Ward strip, still adding flavor to recipe. Lo Cash Live is a Barbecue Joint, South by Mid-West.
I sit down at a table near the wall with my dinner mate. Swinging into the tall seat I nod at Al Jarreau, who poses behind the glass of the frame that holds an old promo portrait. Other crooning singers from various eras and genres nudge corners with him. I’m hard on BBQ so I’m ready for disappointment. Nothing beats the backyard and down-home secrets that make it atop the briquette heated grill.
Lo Cash’s menu makes the right first impression, short, easy to read and to-the-point. Each main dish of either BBQ pork, chicken or brisket and comes with a side, picking from sweet corn, slaw, baked beans or macaroni and cheese (with is technically a vegetable south of the Mason-Dixon). Sandwiches of the same fill also for your fancy. The house adds variety with a fried shrimp po’ boy and a Wisconsin inspired option called Three Little Piggies: a brat patty with pulled pork and bacon, ‘tween a bun. Not one of the meals or sandwiches cost more than ten bucks.
Packing it In
I hone in the brisket meal, it’s even tough to cook-up outdoors. In fifteen minutes a sawed-off tin water pale comes out lined with red and white checked wax paper, table cloth inspired. On top of it, steaming slices of tender beef brisket lay naked, with a perfect amount of edge fat, and covered in vinegary BBQ sauce. The fork goes in, the brisket disappears, mighty delicious on a cool spring evening.
One added note, this 5th Ward diner will soon have the distinction of filling the void left by the closing of Sil’s Mini-Donuts on North Avenue. An appetizer called Corn Fritters comes out looking like a basket of traditional hushpuppies, however, sugared and thoroughly fried, the cornmeal balls come with a tub of molten butter sauce for dip. Goodness!
For Your Listening Pleasure
The food should draw you in and Lo Cash keeps the good times going with cover free live music. I got a fortunate treat hearing a solo set from Annie B who rocks lead for group Annie B and Vagabond Company. They actually just jammed the pre-game show with Icarus Down for the Bucks game Monday night.
Of hard Americana cast and heart made, sometimes mellow vocals belt from Annie B’s lips in front of her acoustic guitar on her two recorded albums Fancies of a Random Heart and a solo project The Kiwi Cafe, sounds well suited for live performance.
Lo Cash Live is located on 2nd and National and open serving great food and music daily.
It’s election day for Milwaukee Alders, County Supervisors and other government offices, plus there’s a primary for the Republican candidate for the political office, terribly acronym-ed POTUS. Although I’m not and don’t care to be a source for political commentary, two candidates for Milwaukee County Supervisor today are worth noting both for their youth and potential to transform Milwaukee’s political landscape.
In the 5th District County Supervisor race, governing Sherman Park and parts of Washington Park, Russell Stamper II vies for Lee Holloway’s former seat. The Coggs’ aren’t the only family with a political legacy (Stamper happens to be running against Priscilla Coggs-Jones), Stamper II is the son of Milwaukee County Judge Russel Stamper Sr. A win for Stamper II would mark a new era for Milwaukee local politics, one in which the generation in Milwaukee that everyone points to as the source of its social problems, will have a leader emerge, taking to the time to work through the challenges of bringing an area with great potential to be a economic hub in Milwaukee to its full potential. Stamper II currently works as a Community Liaison with Social Development Commission.
The County’s 7th District has a candidate rising out of Milwaukee Public Schools flag ship institution Rufus King to become an alum of Marquette University in Real Estate development. After working as an Assistant Project Manager for Milwaukee’s Scattered Sites III housing development initiative with WHEDA, Jermaine Buckner seeks to lead an oddly shaped County district in Milwaukee’s Northwest Side capturing part of the 35th Street Corridor and Granville Business District. His opponent Michael Mayo has been on the County Board for 18 years and I’ve never heard of him. I’m all for being behind the scenes but that type of visibility may get close to being under the stage.
One interesting thing about Buckner, despite the obvious fact that he has an engaging personality (that was apparent from a segment of a town hall listening session with candidates I saw on MATA over the weekend), it seems that he is aware that there is a cutting edge in economic development that centers on standards and compliance and is well on his way down the path of gaining the expertise and credentials to understand and manage public money, and building the relationships needed to support his agenda.
Wonder Woman Speaks to the Candidates: Milwaukee County District 5 by Wonder Woman, Milwaukee Drum
Candidates for Milwaukee County Supervisor, 7th District, Buckner vs. Mayo by Lisa Kaiser, Shepherd Express
Dark and eclectic, Mad Planet did its usual service providing temporary abode to wayward fun-seekers, freak flags waving. Everything from sport coats to jeggings were barely visible between the dim-dive ambiance and the shocking zips of colored light emitting from the dance floor laser effects. Personally partial to The Cure‘s earlier sounds, dance-synth and saxophone infused tunes of The Smiths interrupted the heavy crunch and symbols The Cure kept around even post-punk.
Surprisingly, The Cure’s tribute to Albert Camus, Killing an Arab, made it into the set and was complimented with subtler emotional hits that The Cure well know for off of albums like Faith. Love that album and Mad Planet for making Riverwest Milwaukee’s Hell’s Kitchen/Theater District and being the burn-out/play hard club for a night; the kind of venue where you can make-out shamelessly with your girlfriend in a corner like the dead-beat lovers that you are.
Mad Planet sticks with the regularly scheduled Retro-Dance Party this Friday night and the Saturday Night Get Down returns April 14.
I’m stepping on a thousand cigarette butts on the way in, it’s not dark and smokey in the Cactus Club anymore, but still a little dank on the music side. Someone on staff managed to keep a VHS tape of an old Arsenio Hall episode featuring N.W.A from being magnetized after all these years and its playing on wall-mounted t.v. monitors, nice.
Among the sippers, a sturdily built dude stands-out reviving shades of Trugoy during the Daisy Age crossed with Starski. If any one has a license Busdriver does, his pops wrote Krush Groove. Plus looks can be deceiving, Busdriver’s styles on the mic don’t need image to generate uniqueness.
The Un- to Fame
A musical dervish, Busdriver worked whatever electronic synth-instrument he was hovered over like a steering wheel to jerk the crowd through audio turns, unbelievably speeding up a Scott Joplin riff and ripping it on Me Time and, on Imaginary Places, annihilating a track that sounded familiar to the classic Beasties‘ Floop Loops sample, right after swinging out of a dub Reggae toast.
Busdriver himself is an unsung classic, notably contributing to the Aceyalone-led Project Blowed, way back then, and completed a better know collaboration with Daedalus, worth checking out even if you’re behind the indie-hop scene.
Check out this 10 year-old baby
Something newer for your knew
Milwaukee’s got the Catus
Busdriver did it up setting the Cactus Club stage for Astronautalis, an indie-fun-twirl group that mashes up the music spectrum really well, while highlighting how formulated mainstream hip-hop as a sound has become. Digital music producer Jel was scheduled on the undercard, didn’t her him live, however fluid, harmonic, ambient beats deserve a mention anyway. Milwaukee got a real treat before Busdriver and Astronautalis make their way to SXSW.
As if the this season wasn’t strange enough weather-wise, our extra winter leap day was clad in fog. The dense vapor gave the Riverwalk at Mason Street an awe inspiring haze, as the bridge engineers do their duty tiny compared to the raised platform.
On the way down Wells, towards that great triangle shaped area between Plankington and 2nd Streets the new tapas restaurant España creates a weird Euro Zone time warp, its sign footnoting the regal Germania Building.
Waiting for the next snow storm won’t make the Spring come any quicker, I get the feeling people can sense the season coming anyway. Don’t be so hard on yourself you earned it. By the end of the week, you’ll be ready for a few entertainment options provided by a few of Milwaukee’s brightest unsung talent. Okay, maybe this “talent” is a little further away from the mainstream Galaxy than most, but the Easter bunny cometh, so some options other than the Bar should spark some interest.
Thursday March 1, 7:30p
Alchemist Theater, Bay View
Friday March 2, 7:30p
Milwaukee Area Composers & Artists (MACA) Showcase 4
featuring Stand By a Quasi Mondo Production
Marian Center Auditorium, Bay View
Saturday March 3, 8:00p
Astral/Subastral at the Riverwest Follies
Polish Falcon, Riverwest
Live original composition jazz meets experimental performance theater at the Marian Center for Non-Profits for one night only on Friday March 2.
Milwaukee Area Composers & Artists (MACA) jazz collective, led by Milwaukee grown Jazz composers and saxophonists Steve Gallam and Blake Manning, will perform in tribute to their first CD Release of Live Jazz performances. Solo, duet and quartet sets will create melody, as Mike Neumeyer navigates the marimba, Steve Gallam on Bass Guitar duals with Nathan Dill on violin, and Blake Manning corners a quartet of sax, drums, violin, and bass. MACA’s musicians all benefit from formal training but maintain their artistic warrant, clearly paying homage to their golden age of Jazz heroes in their works. This show should be a real treat for jazz enthusiasts who may be concerned about the future of the music, the MACA residents are all barely approaching 30 years of age.
Quasi Mondo Productions artistically directed by Brian Rott (formerly of Loose Canon Productions) pours a night cap/second-wind starter with its experimental theater trial Stand By that distills movement, props and illusion to tell a story. A subset of short acts from its parent production A Night of Something or Other, Stand By will play with elements designed to leave the audience room to narrate their own sub-text filling the space left by the production’s deliberate omission of spoken dialog. Visually intriguing and at times a bit nonsensical, Stand By aims to satiate the theater scene’s taste for something slightly askew of the typical flavor spectrum. Stand By enlists the talents of artistic consultant Jessi Miller, Lamont Smith and several other budding performers.
The Marian Center for Non-Profits Auditorium provides the stage for MACA part IV and will begin at 7:30pm. Proceeds or the $5 cover at the door go to offset the cost of space rental.
The Marian Center for Non Profits is located just South of Oklahoma Avenue on South Superior Street in the old St. Mary’s High School across from Bay View Park. The Marian Center for NonProfits is a mission of the Congregation of Sisters of St. Francis Assisi that provides affordable office space for non-profits and rent-able space for events.
Alive Week, Three Fingers-Plus of Weekend Performance Happenings, http://wp.me/p1hPwN-1bf
Marian Center for Nonprofits, Bay View Compass
The festivities of the Riverwest Follies continue for the 7th year this Saturday at the Polish Falcon. The Riverwest Follies offers an evening of family friendly entertainment including crafts, music and other antics insured by the MC/Host of the evening Sir Pinkerton of Dead Man’s Carnival. This year the Follies commemorate the 10 year anniversary of the Riverwest Currents, the neighborhood’s community paper.
Headlining the Riverwest Follies, Milwaukee’s resident world-music rockers Astral/Subastral orchestrate a live conglomeration of harmonies, rhythms and sounds brought together through generous instrumentation and reaching vocals that encourage soul-seeking movement, or just content head-nodding.
Astral/Subastral delivers hints of Purvian, Celtic, and possibly even Flamenco syncopation, behind a solidly folk-rock inspired lead vocalist. Astral/Subastral takes an fresh look on an often overlooked recipe: a crowd pleasing paella of musical influences from around the globe, easily enjoyed by groups of friends and family with an appetite for a potluck of good company and conversation.
The Riverwest Follies kick-off at 8:00p Saturday, March 3 at the Polish Falcon on Clarke and Fratney Streets in Riverwest. The $5 donation at the door will benefit the Riverwest Currents.
Alive Week, Three Fingers-Plus of Weekend Performance Happenings, http://wp.me/p1hPwN-1bf
As urban writers becoming urban written-abouts, reaching the other side of the screen has to be kind of nice for Dave Reid and Jeramey Jannene, sometimes. Urban Milwaukee, an online publication covering urban development and politics, solidifies its place in the Milwaukee landscape when the doors of its bricks and mortar outlet open this coming Monday.
No Tourists Here, You’re one of the Gang
On 755 N. Milwaukee Street, sandwiched between a new copy shop and one with a sign to fancy to read, Urban Milwaukee jumped on the hottest corner in Downtown. Dedicated to urbanism, Urban Milwaukee‘s shop heralds odes of local significance, to the central tenants of urbanist philosophy that encourage use of alternatives to experience-killing automobile transportation and general enjoyment of post-industrial civic wonders, on everyone’s favorite ensign: the t-shirt. Their first two signature t-shirts hold clean and simple pro-Milwaukee themes, the first coining the infographic-aided slogan “I [bike] Milwaukee“ and the second a visualization supporting the Milwaukee Street-Car.
Urban Milwaukee’s more interactive novelties will tempt idle minds and hands, including John Gurda‘s hard-bound companion to the critically acclaimed documentary (at least to us MPTV junkies) The Making of Milwaukee and a very unboring looking board game called All About Town Milwaukee. Minimally, shop visitors from wherever can come get their bearings to Milwaukee and receive a treat of great conversation with Urban Milwaukee‘s proprietors.
The Urban Milwaukee cava-bottle-smashing opening store event is scheduled to take place in a couple of weeks, but the store will be officially open as of Monday, February 13, 2012. The Urban Milwaukee store is located on the southwest corner of Mason and Milwaukee Streets in downtown Milwaukee.
They used to fix cars in there. Today the bay doors decorate the sitting area of Sherman Perk , still functional, a prime example of urban adaptive reuse of real estate. Sitting on the base of the triangle formed by Roosevelt, Keefe Avenue, and 51st Street if there was a Gold Coast within any neighborhood, you might not expect it to be in Sherman Park.
From Sections to Intersections
The Western end of Sherman Park much like Washington Heights, historically provided a destination for economically mobile immigrant and emigrant classes, first Europeans and later African-Americans, a neighborhood providing an intersection for both racial and economic class experiences in Milwaukee like none other in the city. Fittingly, Sherman Perk played host to ExFabula‘s most recent installment of the Terminal Milwaukee series confronting the theme Intersections.
Setting the stage for stories told by Milwaukeeans with a connection to the neighborhood, John Gurda painted a rhetorical backdrop with historical vignettes. Of several told, Gurda recounted the story of East European Jews and other European immigrants settling during the 1920′s and 30′s in what was known as Haymarket Square, the area just west of the 6th and Walnut street locus of old Bronzeville, before gradually moving to Sherman Park.
Migrating further into the city, the entrepreneurial spirit of Jewish immigrant settlers left Jake’s Kosher Delicatessen on 17th and North Avenue. Jake’s, famous for its corned beef, still stands today (although under new management). Mid 20th century Milwaukeeans also left the Settler’s Cookbook. Interestingly enough, the compilation of homemaker secrets found in the Settler’s Cookbook, not limited to just food recipes, but also medical remedies and home troubleshooting tips, made it a national best seller more popular than early Betty Crocker and Good Housekeeping publications.
Haymarket Square, during the close of the first quarter of the 20th century was also know as Rabbi Row on account of having more Synagogs than any other area in the city. The pillars of immigrant Jewish communities’ migration to Sherman Park still stand as well kept bungalows and revival architecture properties, uniformly lining the streets between Roosevelt and Keefe at 51 street, giving foundation to the oldest Orthodox Jewish community in Milwaukee.
Legacy of Public Education
Washington High School sits on a tough corner of Wright Street and Sherman Boulevard. Up to the rise of the suburbs in the 1960′s and reactionary de facto segregation that ushered gradual divestment in the Milwaukee Public School system, after Brown versus the Board of Education and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Washington High School anchored Milwaukee Public Schools as the premier secondary school in the City. MPS also received nationally recognition. During ExFabula’s event John Gurda revealed some of the MPS’ famous graduates including Sen. Herb Kohl, Major League Baseball Commissioner and Former Brewer’s owner Bud Selig, Gene Wilder, and Wisconsin Governor Lee Dreyfus.
Although not shared at the Terminal Milwaukee event, the last known, famous graduate of Washington High is former National Basketball Association (NBA) great Latrell Sprewell, who helped the New York Knicks to get the NBA finals in 1999, among other dubious distinctions chronicled on wiki-whatever. Urban legend also has it that over-sized chrome spinning automobile rims, know as “Sprewells” were also invented in Milwaukee after being commissioned by their namesake [Latrell Sprewell].
Duh, Don’t Forget the Stories
The Terminal Milwaukee crowd enjoyed a bunch of great stories about people and places fondly occupying memories of Sherman Park. A man named Russ grew up in the neighborhood and worked for a laundry mat in the area as a kid. The story became interesting as he recounted how he learned not to test blind people.
Well, the owner of the laundry mat was blind and as the story goes, Russ could never figure out how the guy was getting around cleaning up, folding clothes and generally keeping up the shop. On one particular shift it was just he, and the owner. Tending to his laundry Russ accidentally knocked over a cap full of detergent. Russ took the moment to test whether the owner was really blind.
Instead of wiping up the spill, Russ decided to just stand there quiet. The owner didn’t say anything, and by the moment the store got quieter and quieter. The owner stood even more still yet. Finally, Russ ended the stalemate and began cleaning up his mess. From across the room the owner speaks loudly saying “Hello, who is there?” Russ replied that it was just him. Hearing the owner vaguely proclaim his knowledge of Russ’ presence disaffirmed Russ’ intuition. He decided never to test the blind owner again.
What Bus do you Ride?
At Terminal Milwaukee’s Sherman Perk edition, there were just too many great stories to recount. From central character Tom Crawford reconciling his demonic childhood tendencies to Rabbi Borsuk’s, a longtime journalist for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal, description of nearly missing a news story but for overcoming his dislike of coffee, ExFabula amplified the pulse of Milwaukee. The video above produced by ExFabula recounts portions of many of the stories but I will add the preface to one of my favorite stories told that night to enhance the clip.
The father of kindergartner Joe Lang was responsible for dropping Joe off at school in the morning before heading to work at A.O. Smith. As a factory worker, he would be docked pay for arriving even a minute after starting time. On this morning he was running late. To make up time, he decides to take Joe through a short cut that required jaunting up a hill and few non-routine twists and turns.
Mid-route Joe stops his dad and asks him, “Dad do you know why were are not Chinese?” Dad says no, pauses and figures Joe has something to share and inquires “Do you?” Dad calmly recalls Joe explaining that God puts everyone on a bus before they are born and allows them to choose where they want to get off. So Dad says to his son, so you wanted to be born Joe Lang in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The son replies yes, but next time I’m not making the same mistake.
ExFabula‘s next stop is Kochanski’s Concertina Bar in Burnham Park, this Saturday, January 28th at 8pm with stories around the topic of “Generation Gap”.
Glancing out the window while commuting down 35th Street, in the 30th Street Industrial Corridor, you might imagine yourself a red blood cell floating through plaque crusted arteries. The decay of weathered brick one-story machine shops, once churning with activity, appear largely abandoned and vacant. Some shops are now schools or churches, some shops maintained their industrial roots and continue machining, building and manufacturing. One shop in particular, Vanguard Sculpture Services, consummates ingenuity found in the neighborhood’s traditions and the creativity of craft and art culture smelting in Milwaukee’s niche scenes.
In the Guild
Since 1996 in the Vanguard space and for many years before that, Vanguard’s proprietor Mike Nolte has cast bronze sculptures ranging in size from house cat to adult human and beyond. His recent winter Gallery Night exhibit opening entitled Founders highlights his artisan craft, forging sculpture artists’ work into permanent fixtures of life expression. Inaugurating the new Vanguard Gallery space extraordinary bronze cast pieces, formed by nearly 20 different artists, pose virtually immortal on pedestals and rappel from Vanguard Gallery‘s walls. Among them a large spider gently claws the wall, and a cubist inspired cat prowls.
A Few Among the Sculptors
Bernard Roberts, Bountifully Shaped
Cindy Rust Saiia, Coded Panes
Don Rambadt, Flying Fairly
Care Ekpo, Of Topics Less Known
William Zweifel, Woven Glass
Laura Priebe, Fossils of the Present
David Aschenbrener, Fire and Ice
Charlotte Darling Diehl, A Mother’s Love
Art as Labor
Nolte offered tours of his bronze casting shop in conjunction with Vanguard Gallery’s recent installation opening. Explaining his modern application of the ancient lost-wax technique that brings bronze sculptures into being, Nolte’s overview revealed the tremendously time intensive process lending to the relatively high value bronze sculptures have given the relatively low value of the metal itself. Essentially, the bronze-smith replicates stone or clay reference sculptures, provided by the artist, using several successive molds made from plastic, plaster and wax before reaching the final stage of pouring liquid bronze into the ceramic cast.
“Freezing” at 1700 degrees Fahrenheit, the bronze form eventually cools to room temperature and can be handled. Larger sculptures are cast in pieces and must be welded together strategically like a 3-D puzzle. Nolte, in this final stage, may spend thousands of hours grinding and filing the sculpture’s welds and rough spots until every surface lays immaculately smooth. Color can be added to the bronze using the Patina process. The finished bronze is fired again to remove any moisture from the metal. Applying an extremely thin wax coating, adds a refined finish to the final product.
Bronze about Town
Vanguard’s work stands tall all over Milwaukee and the Country. Some of Nolte’s more famous works include the Mary Tyler Moore statue in downtown Minneapolis and the George Stephen (founder of Weber Grills) statue. His works can also be seen about town, notably casts of Gwendolyn Gillen’s ducks on the Milwaukee River bridge on Wisconsin Avenue, and less notably, the placards on the Walnut Street Bridge noting Halyard Park’s namesakes Wilbur and Ardie Halyard.
Milwaukee goes to DC
If you missed the State of the Union address last night the 30th Street Corridor, maybe one of Milwaukee’s most promising areas for development, made our fair city proud. The train manufacturer Talgo would have solidly anchored the Corridor with a long term commitment to occupy the Century City development (the former A.O. Smith site) until Wisconsin’s current Governor, in one of his first ill-advised acts, nixed State support of a Talgo‘s relocation to Milwaukee.
Despite this set back, President Obama pointed out in the SOTU (minute 11:30 if you search the video) that another of the Corridor’s residents, Masterlock, recently returned to full production capacity. Masterlock makes quality U-Locks for all you bikers out there, and they are made in Milwaukee. The good press is certainly welcome news for the 30th Street Corridor BID Executive Director Gloria Stearns, who has noted that in addition to manufacturing, her interests include attracting talent from the creative arts sector to the Corridor to compliment businesses like Vanguard and efforts such as IN:SITE.
Vanguard Gallery’s current installation Founders runs until February 17th. The closing reception will feature a live bronze pouring demonstration.
Vanguard casting extends services to HAAT project, Taki S. Raton, Milwaukee Courier
Oh yeah it’s 2012! That means it’s time to quickly look back at 2011 before speeding off into the night of the New Year. I’ve been blogging for about 3 years now, and the new year also brings us closer to Local Trolley’s one year anniversary! Before I go on posting, I want to acknowledge my most popular posts from 2011. Even though I don’t know how I will honor my most popular post subjects, I still want to give them the desserts they deserve!
Here are the five Local Trolley topics receiving the most page views in 2011!
#5 Vision Noir, Ryan Laessig, Milwaukee Alt (posted August 19, 2011)
Meeting Ryan Laessig was an unexpected jolt of freshness. A photographer and avid re-branded clothing maker, Laessig taps into the alternative fashion scene with a couple of location based themes titled Milwaukee Alt. and Capital Alt..
Laessig published a book photography this past summer entitled Milwaukee Alt. featuring men and women’s fashion styles and aesthetics. His efforts engage sexuality, seductiveness and pleasure, hanging out in area between tasteful and taboo.
#4 Breaking Beats Down, Miltown Beat Down Rd. 1 (posted May 12, 2011)
Generating much hype over the past 5 years or so the Miltown Beat Down has provided and outlet for not just aspiring rappers but music producers. The past three years the Miltown Beat Down has featured music producers exclusively. In 2011 hip-hip producer Reason took the title, on the precipices of one of 2011′s top underground collaborations UniFi Records’ release Know Flight Zone with Dana Coppa.
The Miltown Beat Down featured a lot of other independent efforts like Audio Pilot, Sam Winters, Luxi, Mark V, and White Russian, and approximately 36 other talented hip-hop musicians. DJ Madhatter and Kid Cut Up, two hip-hop mainstays in Milwaukee (minus Kid Cut Up now who left Milwaukee to spread his wings this past fall) mastered the ceremonies last year, no telling what in store this year. In the wake of Andrew Tyler’s murder, the only thing the hip-hop community can do is keep striving for higher ground and efforts like the Miltown Beat Down humbly keep the culture ascending.
#3 Making the Mold, Northern Chocolate Co. (posted April 8, 2011)
Filling a need to associate people we know with established type cast, takes a little bit from Jim Fetzer‘s natural mystique. None the less people seek his chocolate desperately and I definitely noticed that as the winter holidays approached, views of my post on Northern Chocolate Company trickled up.
He’s an alum of the old Ambrosia chocolate factory workforce and has kept busy making chocolate on Martin Luther King Drive well before urban renewal took hold in Brewer’s Hill. If you made a Milwaukee Pabst-Can-list, tearing-off and devouring the head of one Northern Chocolate Co‘s famous chocolate bunnies would settle in the top ten must-do’s.
#2 Talent transplant: Riverwest a Rhapsody! (posted March 12, 2011)
Riverwest, ah Riverwest. Some love it, some get broken by it, some thrive in its rubbery stew. Riverwest is kind of like Milwaukee’s City of the Lost Children and playwright Eric Theis wound his experiences there into a theatrical ditty entitled Riverwest: A Rhapsody!.
Ironically, Theis produced his musical in Madison at Broom Street Theater. Despite the play’s, geographical limitations, Theis masterfully transformed his Madisonian cast into a band of gypsies worthy of a inhabiting a Polish flat on Weil Street.
Fearless of difficult topics, Theis’s other projects include an original script about the Reconstruction Era South titled The Temples of Nadir. Crafting intelligent, poignant and nuanced dramatic prose, Eric Theis falls into the category of extremely talented young risk-taking writers to support.
#1 Pt. 2, Art Opulence, Mike Maegestro (posted September 1, 2011)
On a very indiscript late summer day in August, an art show gracing several store fronts in the Plankington Arcade section of the Grand Avenue Mall had just underwhelmed me. Having heard about another lightly promoted art show, I decided why not check it out, I never go to Avenues West.
Milwaukee artist Brittany Farina pulled a few fellow artists together for one of the more unsung event of 2011, an art night at the Brumder Mansion. One of the artists, Mike Magaestro, strung together a tremendous series of paintings centering on the most difficult subject matter to make interesting: flowers. He’s nearly a landmark unto himself in the Milwaukee design world, it seems that visual arts just add to the proficiencies that Magaestro nimbly executes.
Congrats Mike on being Local Trolley’s #1 post for 2011!
If you live or hang-out downtown and wanted to get from happening Eastown areas like Jefferson or Milwaukee Street to the Third Ward, you’ve probably considered what a pain finding parking in the Third Ward makes your drive and how you didn’t really want to spend $10 bucks on a cab to just go four or five blocks, you’re just not that high-end.
For regular old downtown folk, walking or biking secures the first option but are you ever all that thrilled about going through the narrow Jefferson Street pedestrian tunnel or crossing the expanse of mostly dark empty parking lots? Now you can have your say. A major opportunity to influence how Downtown looks got under way this fall, and what better time to start a new project than the respite the Holiday Season brings most busy worker bees.
Build an Idea
The Historic Third Ward Association opened a public design competition, titled Brighten the Passage, to solicit ideas on how the pedestrian facilities connecting the Downtown to the Third Ward could be improved. On windy day in late August, Brighten the Passage kicked-off with a design charette. The fun of accepting complete proposals is now underway.
The window for Brighten the Passage submissions closes February 29, 2011 and the guidelines get straight to the point: develop a practical and cost-effective way to make the underpass more hospitable to pedestrians in a way that will support business activity and vibrant Nightlife entertainment.
Additional considerations for the project include the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s plans for considerable maintenance of the overpass in 2013 and that overhead space on Broadway Street may be used for the proposed Downtown Street Car.
Luckily for Milwaukeeans, decision-makers are paying attention to the need for a City be a place of human experiences and not just a track for cars to race people to work. Fortunately the Mayor’s office is tuning-in to the growing awareness that cities are integral part of local and regional economies and that they are no longer are competing locally for business but internationally. Documentarian Gary Hustwit recently released a film Urbanized that gives an excellent overview of the historical and current international discourse on urban design.
The City’s Downtown Plan considers doing something about the underpass a catalytic project, which makes Connecting the Passage a very big opportunity for an ambitious architect or engineer and especially for urban planners. Here’s more about Connecting the Passage Design Competition’s full guidelines and submission instructions.
‘Tis the season again, and why not be merry. No snow yet, a nice extended fall. There’s egg nog to choke down and hot cider brandy’s to warm the belly… and beer does’t really need an occasion.
For hardcore urbanites, a breed multiplying in all walks of life, Christmas season also brings another opportunity to meld all of these activities together while visiting the best hangouts in the City and traveling by the healthiest and most-preferred mode of transport: the bicycle!
Pretty simple, this Saturday dress-up like Santa, or something Santa-related (beard and Santa hat at least) grab some friends, jump on your bikes and head to one of the meeting points: Cafe Hollander (Downer or Tosa), Fuel Cafe, or Cafe Centraal. The main rendezvous points are Lakefront Brewery and Great Lakes Distillery where the pandemonium of hoards of Santas taking over streets by bike really ensues.
Kochanski’s provides a pit-stop with free food and as much Zywiec as your bladder can hold (sorry the shotski won’t be available though, gotta make sure Santa(s) can deliver presents in time). The final destination is back to Bay View at Cafe Centraal where none other than the Wild Birds will help Santas get more crazy.
If you think this sounds crazy, it is. If you think this sounds fun, your right. If it’s not your thing, well lets just say I rode last year and it was the most ridiculous spectacle that I’ve ever been a part of, and you have to love Milwaukee for it.
Before the storytelling began, a few light snacks helped calm a dozen students of Brown Street Academy. I asked one of the small group of mostly fourth graders, preparing to enjoy an after-school program speaker, if he was proud of his school. He nodded a confident ‘yes’. I would soon find out why.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding public education in Wisconsin, strong and undaunted educators across the State hunker-down and find ways to keep knowledge flowing to young minds. The work of Alice’s Garden’s Fieldhands and Foodways Project, now more than ever, proves that collaboration between community-based organizations and institutions like Milwaukee Public Schools play a crucial role in rounding k-12 curricular education.
Venice Williams, Program Director of Alice’s Garden, pulled together with Johnson Park neighbor Brown Street Academy, to host an evening exploring the antebellum history of this near north side neighborhood, and the influence of its most famous settler Deacon Samuel Brown. The Underground Railroad Comes Alive! brought Kimberly Simmons to narrate the story of the first African-American to make safe passage from enslavement to Milwaukee, the story of her great, great, great-grandmother Caroline Quarlls Watkins.
Bound and Determined
Virginian and slave-owner Robert Pryor Quarlls moved to St. Louis in 1826 and bequeathed to his son a woman servant, named Maria, who bore Caroline Quarlls into enslavement. Although she had a fair complexion an blue-eyes, Caroline faced a fate of servitude. Unwilling to accept her lot, Caroline secretly sold lace goods that she learned to sew, from her grandmother. Caroline eventually saved enough money to purchase the keys to her plan for freedom, a “nice dress” and fare on a riverboat ferry north.
On July 4, 1846 at the age of sixteen Caroline, passing as a white woman, wearing the Sunday dress she bought with her savings, boarded a Mississippi River ferry heading to Illinois. After docking in Illinois, a black porter on the ferry, noticed her traveling alone and uncertain. Suspecting Caroline may have been searching for freedom, the porter advised her that in Illinois she would face greater chances of being turned in for ransom and instructed her on how to make it to Wisconsin.
Taking the advice of the porter, Caroline made it to Milwaukee undetected. Again noticed, a black caddy named by Robert Tibald suggested that she seek room at the House Hotel on Wisconsin Avenue and Water Street if she wanted to remain safe. Owned by Samuel Brown, the House Hotel kept Caroline sheltered. However when Charles Hall, the surviving heir of Quarlls estate in St. Louis, realized Caroline’s “escape”, she soon faced pursuit by Hall’s attorney and authorities.
Hall’s attorney and the authorities began scouring Milwaukee boarding houses for Caroline, eventually coming upon Tibald who agreed to tell her whereabouts in exchange for a $100 reward. Milwaukee attorney Asol Finch caught wind of Tibald’s treacherous act and of the Southerners looking for Caroline, and Finch hid Caroline in a sugar barrel at the House Hotel for 12 hours.
Finch soon hurried her away to Samuel Brown’s farm on what is now roughly 20th and Fon du Lac Avenue, a portion of which to this day houses Milwaukee’s oldest elementary school Brown Street Academy. A staunch abolitionist like Sam Brown, Asol Finch established the law firm of Finch & Lynde in 1842, which later would become present day Foley & Lardner.
After a brief stop in Prairieville (present day Waukesha), Caroline joined a group of the first individuals to travel the Old Sauk Trail (present day Interstate 94) to join with Alan Pinkerton (who would later become one of Abraham Lincoln’s secret servicemen), to follow east-marching Union Soldiers from Dundee, Illinois to Detroit. So is told the birth of one of the Northern lines of the Underground Railroad. Not quite a decade later, Joshua Glover would take a similar route from St. Louis to Milwaukee in search of freedom.
Alice’s Garden cultivates land as a part of Milwaukee Urban Gardens, a community land trust providing land for urban agriculture projects. Generations to come will gain an understanding of basic food production as a result of this initiative.
Caroline Quarlls Watkins wrote letters of her journey to freedom, rare first person documentation of the struggles of women and African-Americans to gain equality in 19th century America. Caroline’s stories are now part of the Walk of Fire exhibit at the Kenosha Civil War Museum.
Nestled on 5th and Washington, on a surprisingly quiet strip in Walker’s Point, Carte Blanche Studios continues to imprint it’s butt on Milwaukee’s rogue theater scene. Carte Blanche’s current production Reefer Madness:The Musical enters it’s last weekend on Friday November 18th at 8pm, a stage adapted lampooning of the 1936 alarmist propaganda campaign against ganja Tell Your Children (Reefer Madness).
It’s a slapstick comedy with mega-doses of high jinks and quip humor that pits the active eyebrows of Michael Traynor (portraying the omnipresent shape-shifting conscious of America narrating the story, also serving as maestro of musical interludes) and his pitiful fictitious citizenry from Anywhere, USA, against overly concerned Carte Blanche audience members who play the role of Anywhere High School’s PTA. Okay Carte Blanche‘s audiences my not be overly concerned, even so our funny bones didn’t have a chance.
The Green Brick Road
The story centers around Jimmy (Chris Jones) and Mary Lane’s (Karrisa Lade) infantile teenage romance culminating with Jimmy asking Mary to the High School dance. Jimmy, after building up the guts to ask Mary Lane to the dance, realizes with horror he lacks rhythm.
Vulnerable, Jimmy comes across the path of Jack (Derek Woerpel) the local weed man, who offers him dance lessons as a thinly veiled ploy to lure a new customer into his web. Jimmy takes Jack up on his offer and Traynor dubbing as “America’s Conscious” gets many “I told you so” moments to taunt us with, as Jimmy’s experience on “Marihunana” swiftly turns him into a junkie, eventually dragging Mary into the smoke.
Mae (Samantha Paige), Jack’s pot jonesing girlfriend, melodramatically tries to urge the kids not to go down her path to burnout hussy-dom, but is foiled again and again by Jack, his best customer Ralph (Clayton Hamburg) and his resident floozy Sally (Emily Craig), and her own urges to keep toking. Jimmy and Mary Lane’s peers pop-up regularly as spunky teens of the town, by day, and dancing weed zombies by night… or day, played by Mara Mcghee, Mica Chenault, Andrew Parchman, Jessi Miller, and Caitlin Alba.
It’s plenty entertaining! Even before the lights went up, Michael Traynor’s entrance alone was so on spot to the period that I was already laughing out loud.
Carte Blanche now has a cafe called Cafe Bizzare that will eventually maintain regular business hours even when a show is not going on. There’s art on the walls, wood on the floors, great furniture, brews of caffeine and malted grains, what more could you want!
Carte Blanche Studios closes Reefer Madness!: The Musical, Sunday, November 20 and opens a one-nighter Lucky13 Open Mic Comedy the next day at 8p.
Reefer Madness: The Musical, Bunny Gumbo’s Blog, Bunny Gumbo
Carte Blanche gets bent: Reefer Madness! The Musical, The Examiner, Jeff Gryngy
Reefer Reviews!, Lisa Golda Blog, Lisa Golda