A Tale of Two Milwaukees: The Tandem

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The Tandem’s imposing lit sign glows above the cracks of Fond du Lac Avenue.

Where we are right now in Milwaukee is endemic of our destiny as one of the great Rust Belt cities; stuck between our past as an industrial powerhouse and the crippling reality of poverty, joblessness, hopelessness, and confusion of the modern era. And yet at the same time, parts of our city are flourishing in many ways; new construction downtown, new industries, creativity, artistry, and entrepreneurship are starting to take root in the cracks, so to speak, in our post-industrial pavement. At the same time, we are slowly coming to terms with the fact that there are two Milwaukees: One of rich whites, and another of poor minorities. We are simultaneously one of the best cities for white Americans to live, with a thriving downtown, good architecture, strong businesses, and multiple colleges that makes us a “hidden gem of the Midwest”, and the location of the 53206 area code, the worst place to be African-American in the United States.

I am white, male, and moderately successful. I live twelve blocks away from 53206.

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Seriously, if you live here, go watch this.

Throughout the city, there are many small efforts that aim at resolving this duplicity, and in bringing together the fractured parts of the city of Milwaukee, making us whole again. I had the unique pleasure of seeing, from a short distance, the growth of a restaurant that hopes to help become a bridge between white and black Milwaukeeans through one of my favorite mediums: food. Continue reading

After Dark: Red Light Ramen by Ardent

Milwaukee seems to be developing a tradition of people lining up at night to enjoy the sumptuously seedy underbelly of the city’s best institutions. From Rocky Horror at the Oriental, to adult sleepovers at the Public Museum, to clandestine missions at the Safe House, we’re a city of night owls. And nothing appeals more to midnight wanderers of the East Side than a good, hot bowl of ramen. Enter the city’s latest culinary success story, Red Light Ramen.

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Contact your Alderperson, Milwaukee!

There has been a lot of controversy regarding the decision of the People’s Flag of Milwaukee contest and its final flag selection; now that a candidate has been selected, the real work must follow. Here is a Facebook post I wrote to my alderman, Nik Kovac, 3rd Aldermanic District, Milwaukee:

Dear Nik,

As you know, I’ve been passionately observing the People’s Flag of Milwaukee contest for some time, and today, only after the announcement of the final decision, I see all kinds of haters and belittlers crawling out of the woodwork, and even more saying how little they care. Changing the flag is SECONDARY to solving this bigger problem. We NEED to be proud of our city.

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The People’s Flag of Milwaukee

The votes have been counted, the decision has been made. Today, June 14, is Flag Day. The People’s Flag of Milwaukee has been chosen.

Last year, Roman Mars, podcaster and member of the North American Vexillological Association, published a TED Talk in which he called out North American city flags for being poorly designed. The absolute worst in the North America? None other than yours truly, the City of Milwaukee.

Hearing this, Steve Kodis, a Milwaukee resident and graphic designer, initiated a contest to determine a new flag for the city, one that would make Mr. Mars and the rest of NAVA proud, as well as represent Milwaukee to its citizens and admirers. Over 1,000 entries were submitted at milwaukeeflag.com, and a panel of judges including local graphic designers, Milwaukee historian John Gurda, and NAVA member Ted Kaye, determined the 5 finalists out of 1,006 submissions. Through an online poll of over 6,000 voters, the winning flag design, by a very slim margin, was Robert Lenz’ “Sunrise Over The Lake”.

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Now, this may have been the city’s choice (or, all 1% of Milwaukee’s population that voted, that is), but it is far from a replacement for Milwaukee’s current, love-it-or-hate-it flag. However, the flag is being submitted to the Milwaukee Common Council for a vote, to determine whether it will replace the official Milwaukee city flag. You can find your local alderman or alderwoman here, and petition them to adopt the flag (or ditch it).

Either way, this is an exciting time for Milwaukee, as we finally are getting some attention drawn to the city flag. Whatever the outcome, this discussion is good for the city and its people, and will result in a unifying symbol of the city which will serve as a reference point for future discussions and growth.

Like the flag? You can purchase it for $50 as soon as the store is open, and fly it yourself. Don’t like the flag? I’ll be keeping an eye out for Original Milwaukee flags available for purchase, and post a link when I find one (if I find one).

Save the Yield Bar!

Recently, a much-beloved bar on the East Side, the Yield Bar, closed its doors to end an 11-year run, after their building (1932 E Kenilworth) changed hands to a new owner. However, they aren’t down for the count just yet. A GoFundMe page has been started to save the Yield Bar, and help establish some of the money required to reopen in a new location. Click this link to donate and help save a great bar!

Image lovingly stolen from Brew City Review

Milwaukee: What’s new?

Boring Introduction

Ladies and gentlemen, I haven’t been totally honest with you.

I said this would be a food blog, but it’s become a bit more than that to me. This is my love letter to the city where I grew up, its food, places, people, and overall beauty.

Milwaukee was the first city I really lived in; I grew up about 50 miles south of here, in Kenosha, and I never really felt like I fit in there. I had far bigger aspirations than would fit in the woodsy bedroom community of Pleasant Prairie or the raise-your-kids neighborhoods of the city of Kenosha. I had my head in the stars too often. Being in a robotics program in high school introduced me to the city, but coming here to attend college at MSOE really made me fall in love with it.

Now that I’m a bit more worldly, I have my Bachelor’s degree, a good job downtown, and a beautiful fiancee, I’ve been meaning to give back as much as I could to the city that’s given me so much, and this blog is one of the ways I intend to do so. I wanted to get back to this in a way that I see fitting; starting off with gushing about what’s going on with the city and why I’m so excited, before taking the chance to dive back in with the food, music, architecture, events, and people that deserve to be praised.

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Oriental Theatre – Keep Milwaukee Weird

So, in my last post, I announced that I would be starting my own little “Keep Milwaukee Weird” series, and as promised, my first post would be covering the historic and beautiful Landmark Oriental Theatre in Milwaukee’s Lower East Side. Voted “One of the 10 Best Movie Theaters in America” in 2005 by Entertainment Weekly, the Oriental is a landmark of Milwaukee’s “alternative” East Side.

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