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

Archive for September, 2011

Pt. 4, ExFabula, Sunshine and Rain

A Common Bond

Marvin Pratt attended Terminal Milwaukee as the poet laureate of the evening. He treated the audience to a trip down memory lane, through the steps of a young man that emerged, from an era tainted with the trappings of fast talking, slick dressing cats just trying to survive in a time of intense depravity and a racial caste reality, to emerge as a man with political prospects. Fulfilling his ambitions in 1986, Pratt’s district elected him to a Milwaukee Common Council. A seat that he held until 2004, when he ran for Mayor against the current incumbent Tom Barrett.

Along his path to political achievement, Pratt always held close in his memory the tendency for the Barbershop to draw people of all walks of life. His appreciation for the people aspect business and politics mended a common bond with Ronnie over the years. Pratt’s fancy for a certain young woman solidified their connection, when a romance sprung into a loving and lasting marriage with Ronnie’s older sister Dianne.

Dianne treated Terminal Milwaukee to amusing tales of adventures in the Bronzeville, where she, family and friends often and innocently traveled about the City on the 23 City bus into foreign worlds barely miles away from her home. On one occasion, she and her playmates found themselves far from home at Mayfair Mall, where the only route back required a paid fare. Having no money, but in good spirits and unbegrudged after being refused a ride, she lead her fellows on foot back to her Sixth Street neighborhood.

Tying Ronnie, Marvin and Dianne’s stories together, a sown thread bearing the tremendous influence that family played in establishing and maintaining the barbering trade in their lineage, all attached to the first patch in the quilt, Ronnie’s grandfather the first Black Master Barber in Milwaukee.

Contents
Pt. 1 Shaping Influence, ExFabula, Barbershop
Pt. 2 ExFabula, John Gurda on Capital Court History
Pt. 3 ExFabula, The Sherrill’s, A Black Business Legacy
Pt. 4 ExFabula, Sunshine and Rain
Pt. 5 ExFabula, Tom Crawford, a Thankful Trim
Pt. 6 ExFabula, Monumental Integrity and Murals

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Pt. 5, ExFabula, Tom Crawford a Thankful Trim

Grown Out, Up

No other social function of hair exists that intrigues as much as rebellion. The central character in the Terminal Milwaukee series Tom Crawford has, among other conspicuous features of his appearance, a flop of bushy wavy mane draping over his forehead nearly covering his glasses. During those days post the decade of civil unrest, the afterglow of hippiedom still prevailed for sometime before spiraling into garage rock, which all affected post-hoc the overgrowth of Crawford’s mop of hair and his strained relationship with his father.

At the breaking point all parents reach with their kids, Crawford’s mother exasperatingly urged him to ask his father, who had barbering in his survival tool belt of occupations, to cut is god-forsaken hair. When approached with the task Crawford recalls his father growling in an authentic Scottish accent, “The lawnmower is broken”. Of course, his father agreed to the hair intervention and, although receiving the uncoolest haircut of all-time, in a moment humbled by a parent’s patience, Crawford sincerely thanked his father.

Contents
Pt. 1 Shaping Influence, ExFabula, Barbershop
Pt. 2 ExFabula, John Gurda on Capital Court History
Pt. 3 ExFabula, The Sherrill’s, A Black Business Legacy
Pt. 4 ExFabula, Sunshine and Rain
Pt. 5 ExFabula, Tom Crawford, a Thankful Trim
Pt. 6 ExFabula, Monumental Integrity and Murals


Pt. 6, ExFabula, Monumental Integrity and Murals

A Rip in Time

Framing well an evening of cultural intersection, John Gurda spoke of man from Missouri that escaped enslavement in 1854 that sought refuge in Racine, WI. Under the authority of the Fugitive Slave Act, the man’s alleged owner arrived in Racine with Federal Marshals, took the man into custody and detained him in Milwaukee, commandeering the jail. Arriving by boat, a contingent of men from Racine arrived in Milwaukee demanding the man’s release.

Hearing of this atrocity and the seafaring protestors, the local human rights activists descended on Cathedral Square, which at that time was the footprint of the County Jail. At the peak of dissent, over this man’s arrest under unjust Federal Law, 5,000 people gathered outside of the jail. Taking a beam from the construction site of St. John’s Cathedral, they bashed in the door of the detention facility and freed the man. The namesake of primary street in the Riverwest neighborhood, Sherman Booth rose to the center of this display of intolerance for injustice.

After being indicted for his involvement in the Cathedral Square incident, Booth appealed the Wisconsin Supreme Court for a writ of habeas corpus. The Wisconsin high court granted the writ and furthermore declared the Fugitive Slave Act a violation of States rights, stating that no citizen of Wisconsin would be reduced to a “slave catcher”. Ironically, States rights provided the pretense for Southern succession from the United States five years later, demanding their right to practice slavery. The twice freed man escaped to Canada, his name, Joshua Glover.

Stubborn to defend heathen practices, the Federal Supreme Court accepted Joshua’s captor’s lawsuit and awarded him $1000 dollars (the value of a person in bondage to the captor) and fined Booth $1000. In today’s dollars that’s approximately $30,000, roughly equal to the cost incarcerate an individual for one year.

Contents
Pt. 1 Shaping Influence, ExFabula, Barbershop
Pt. 2 ExFabula, John Gurda on Capital Court History
Pt. 3 ExFabula, The Sherrill’s, A Black Business Legacy
Pt. 4 ExFabula, Sunshine and Rain
Pt. 5 ExFabula, Tom Crawford, a Thankful Trim
Pt. 6 ExFabula, Monumental Integrity and Murals


Shaping Influence, ExFabula, Barbershop

Contents
Pt. 1 Shaping Influence, ExFabula, Barbershop
Pt. 2 ExFabula, John Gurda on Capital Court History
Pt. 3 ExFabula, The Sherrill’s, A Black Business Legacy
Pt. 4 ExFabula, Sunshine and Rain&lt
Pt. 5 ExFabula, Tom Crawford, a Thankful Trim
Pt. 6 ExFabula, Monumental Integrity and Murals

Related Post

Drink the Well, ExFabula, Terminal Milwaukee, http://wp.me/p1hPwN-Bn
Intersections, Sherman Perk, ExFabula, http://wp.me/p1hPwN-U3


Shaping Influence, ExFabula, Barbershop

Set in the Capitol Heights neighborhood for Terminal Milwaukee’s current episode, ExFabula teamed up with the owners of the oldest Barbershop lineage in Milwaukee, Satin Wave, to host an evening of storytelling revolving around grooming experiences.

ExFabula and Satin Wave deserve major kudos for breaking uncharted ground. Let’s look at it this way. I over heard a 17 year-old African-American young woman (well okay, my niece), noticing the scene at the event, immediately pipe up “White people in the ‘hood, oh this is so exiting!” Her sentiment expressed genuine surprise and feelings of encouragement that where she lives isn’t place where only Blacks care to be.

Her reaction was gut and essentially summed up my grand anticipation for what ExFabula was doing on this night, a willing and unprompted effort to extend and mutually share creative conscious across the deep racial divide that prevails in Milwaukee. It’s not an everyday occurrence, and couldn’t occur as successfully impromptu, but a highly commendable effort to bring a group of people together to mutually enjoy the company of those from a different background (and at an event far from the Eastside, Downtown, or Third Ward).

Let’s have some Fun

ExFabula centers on story telling and the stories reached a variety of experiences with the hair grooming process. One story accounted the fabled barber for who you dread being next, in line to receive the hasty wrath of his clipper. Another set of stories told of the venerable barber’s ability to impart discomfort on kindergarten age children. Depictions of the tactics deployed by the barber to quell adolescent fits ranged from pysch-ward restraints to Donald Duck voices, revealing that the Barber can be jack of many trades and hopefully master of at least one.

A Faithful Effort

Likening the group at Terminal Milwaukee, collectively, to the 5,000 seeing to Joshua Glover’s freedom may be a bold statement, but the thought conjures up the gravity of progressive possibilities made offered by events that aren’t designed make proclamations of values, rather the event itself presents the value.

ExFabula continues their path through Milwaukee in Sherman Park with Intersections. Take a look at ExFabula’s Recap of the night at Satin Wave!

Related Post
Drink the Well, ExFabula, Terminal Milwaukeehttp://wp.me/p1hPwN-Bn

Contents
Pt. 1 Shaping Influence, ExFabula, Barbershop
Pt. 2 ExFabula, John Gurda on Capital Court History
Pt. 3 ExFabula, The Sherrill’s, A Black Business Legacy
Pt. 4 ExFabula, Sunshine and Rain
Pt. 5 ExFabula, Tom Crawford, a Thankful Trim
Pt. 6 ExFabula, Monumental Integrity and Murals