Sunday, September 27, 2009

Mil woo-hoo! kee, WI

I spent the majority of this weekend in Milwaukee, WI, a very working-class Wisconsin city on Lake Michigan. It's about an hour away from Madison, WI, where I live, and it's a place I spent no time in except to drive through on the way to Southern Wisconsin from Appleton, WI (where I grew up), until I became an adult. Now I teach there once a week in the fall, and spend time there on and off to visit with one of my brothers and one of my best friends. But usually it's a pretty in and out job. Until now.

Early memories:
Miss Katie's Diner, which is just a few blocks from Marquette, where I now teach as adjunct faculty. Then, at age 18, eating there with a friend who wanted more from me, I was mutually fascinated and horrified by the view of industrial wasteland, casinos, breweries and highways out the window.

Bayview: A few years later/ago, I went along with a few new friends to see an exhibit at the newly Calatrava-ized MAM (public modern art museum) and then they pulled me to the now-defunct Paper Boat owned by Faythe Levine who made the film and book Handmade Nation. Broad Vocabulary, the also now-defunct feminist bookstore from heaven (though they still organize online!), Cafe Lulu (still open!), Harry Schwartz bookstore (now gone), and Fasten re-fashion collective (now Sparrow) filled in the rest of that day. Wow, I thought, this is Madison's East Johnson Street funky shops gone big-city. How wonderful is this, still mixed into the funeral homes, bowling bars and Catholic Churches of south side city neighborhoods. When I went to Oakland in the intervening years between then and now, I saw a strong resemblance.
We went back there, to Bayview, on this visit, which was an appointment on Friday and then plenty of poking around both Friday and Saturday. I've been there in between the Andrew Bird's first album era (I recall hearing that for the first time on the way there) and now, but mostly just to repeat the pleasures I knew well. This time, in Bayview, we also found vintage shops galore (Tip Top Atomic Shop and Luv Unlimited, how did I never see you before?!) and some great record shops (Bay View Books and Music, Rush-Mor Records). Chartreuse and Future Green were sweet and had fun and rockin bits to buy. Glow in the Dark Bowling we did not do, but looked great, and dinner at Cafe Centraal with a fabulous patio (they are the folks who did Trocadero on Brady and Water) finished us out. Hi Fi Cafe will have to wait.

And as for "not Bayview":
We also went to Carleton Grange Pub on Thursday night (though we did not fake-gamble), and hit the brand new Andy Warhol late career exhibit at Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM), with clerks wearing Andy Warhol wigs and all! I also made a visit to the new-found and a bit expensive but super helpful Allure (which helps to actually fit you for bras in a very warm and not pushy way) and got some really sexy and also really comfy stuff. Finally, I had never visited a Halloween Express store before, and every year they put up this massive pumpkin one in a big tent in the parking lot of the State Fair, so I finally went. Photos up soon on Flickr, as I've become a bit obsessed with the oddness of how we handle "death" in Halloween in this country. From there I visited three cemeteries just off Hawley Road which I have seen over the years driving in and out: Calvary, Spring Hill and Wood National Cemetery. Wow.

We didn't even touch Brady Street, and only skirted Third Ward to hit up the Milwaukee Public Market, which was too small (we'd never been there before) but wonderful and, yes, reminded me of markets in Europe.

With a room at the downtown City Center Hilton on the 16th floor overlooking that same view I questioned 14 years ago (the highway exchanges, industrial yards and breweries) we had a for sure woo-hoo weekend. Now the view tantalized me, and we snuggled overlooking all the lights and fine concrete. Thank you, Priceline, where I won a bid for $50 a night at this otherwise $250 a night 3.5 star hotel, for making this dream mini-honeymoon complete! Woo hoo!


  1. Miriam-
    If you ever get a chance, you should check out my good friend Michael's restaurant. It's technically in Walker's Point or pretty close to it.
    So, not too far from where you spent of your time recently.

  2. Sounds like a divine honeymoon, Miriam! So glad you had a great time and I look forward to seeing pictures!