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.
Recently, there’s been a resurgence of city pride for this oddball collection of old breweries, factories, flats, and churches we call home. With the announcement of the People’s Flag of Milwaukee contest run by Steve Kodis (the winner of which will be announced on June 14 at 7pm), I think we’re on the verge of one of the biggest facelifts to the city’s image that we’ve had in a long time. I’m personally throwing in my hat with DeChazier Stokes-Johnson’s beautiful and flexible “M” Star design, with a nod towards Robert Lenz’ “Sunrise Over the Lake” flag.
On the Air
Across the airwaves and the Internet, Milwaukee historian John Gurda has struck once again by publishing a short podcast about (what else) the neighborhoods of Milwaukee, in conjunction with 88.9 Radio Milwaukee, called simply “Milwaukee with John Gurda“. I’ve got a great deal of respect for this man’s fervent love for the city, and I’d strongly recommend checking it out. In addition, local photographer Martin Moore has been showing off the city in a new light with his wonderful vlog, including his latest, a take on Milwaukee’s food scene. It goes without saying that this is a subject close to my heart, and it makes me proud to see others tackling it with such earnestness.
Milwaukee-native brewer Pabst is making its (not-so) triumphant return to the city. While they won’t be churning out cheap, local PBR for the man-bun crowd, they are trying to capitalize on some of their newly-found hipster glory by establishing a microbrewery in an old church building which constituted part of the former Pabst brewing complex. They are one of many new microbreweries making their debut in the city this year (I think the count is up to six?); perhaps we can finally say that Milwaukee is a source of great beer once again. While I love local brands Lakefront, Sprecher, and MKE, I don’t think we can call ourselves a great city for beer until there’s more breweries here. Above that, I want there to be more small, awesome, local breweries here. Does that make me selfish? Maybe. Am I proud of us being the 17th-drunkest metropolitan area in the U.S.? Absolutely.
Readers of my blog in the past will remember that I am a member of Sensual Daydreams, the Milwaukee Rocky Horror shadowcast, as well as a proud bisexual; as such, one of the things that has me really excited coming up is our local PrideFest (and the Milwaukee Pride Parade). I would be remiss if I didn’t give it at least part of an article to blather about the people I’m excited for.
Now, Milwaukee has long been considered a gay destination, having one of the nation’s oldest operating gay bars, a major pride festival, and several neighborhoods with a sizable LGBT+ presence (notably, Walker’s Point and Bay View). PrideFest, however, is one that makes me particularly, well, proud: I’m friends with several performers, including my good friend Annaleigh Vytlacil, aka “Divine Trash“, one of the hosts of the Miller Lite Main Stage, as well as fellow performers Sylvia Nyxx, Dixie Kuppe, Kevin Casper, Ester Flonaze, Colin Acumen, Ruthie Keester, “local gay treasure” Jacob D. Bach (of the Yeah, Bro! Podcast), and many, many others. Joining them on stage will be such talent as Sarah Silverman, Blondie, Big Freedia, local bands GGOOLLDD and Tigernite, and quite a few others. It’s a fun, family-friendly pride festival that shifts to more adult-oriented entertainment in the evening, and as usual, plenty of local Milwaukee food and beverages.
Obligatory Summerfest Section
Also, since it’s almost that time again, Summerfest. The world’s largest music festival really needs no introduction, but again it will be returning to our fair city with hundreds of bands, solid food and drink, vendors, artists, and tons of fun. I’m personally looking forward to seeing Ben Folds with my fiancee, and maybe catching Weird Al and Hollywood Vampires. What are you looking forward to?
Everywhere I look, I see new signs of life being poured into the city. With construction on new buildings (and the dubious streetcar project) downtown, the passion of those involved in the flag contest, and the regular yawn-and-stretch routine the city undergoes every Spring, Milwaukee’s residents are finally getting excited about what the future holds for the city again, and getting out and showing their passionate sides. Sure, we’re not Chicago, L.A., or New York, but we’ve still got a lot going for us. (Now, if we could work more on fixing the issues with our school system, poverty, and segregation…)
Featured image stolen from Wikipedia. Hey, at least I’m honest.