You Call This News?

Hot damn, it’s a good day to be an American.

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009 | You Call This News? | 1 Comment

This is our time, to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope. And where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can.

- Barack Obama

I feel like someone’s punched me in the gut

Monday, January 19th, 2009 | You Call This News? | 2 Comments

I heard on the radio this morning that Schwartz Books — my favorite store in the entire world — is closing at the end of March. The Downer Ave and Mequon stores will be sold to the employees. 82 years in business. Soon to be gone forever.

I’m completely crushed. There aren’t words to describe what those stores — especially the Downer location — mean to me. I realize I’ll still have the “new” store there to go to (and I’m fully confident the employees will keep the vibe I love so much), but dammit, this is depressing. This is a void no crappy chain store (Borders, I’m especially looking at you, but Barnes & Noble, you’re not much better) could ever fill.

I have to go off and sulk for awhile.

Miracle? No. Good luck and two excellent pilots? Yes.

Friday, January 16th, 2009 | You Call This News? | 1 Comment

Salon’s got a nice piece in their “Ask the Pilot” column about yesterday’s US Air ditch in the Hudson.

There certainly was some measure of luck involved. I’m still gobsmacked they were able to get to the Hudson without hitting anything else, including anything on the river itself. But enough with the “miracle” and the “god” stuff. Two extremely competent and well-trained pilots did all the heavy lifting in getting that plane down safely and ensuring the safety of all aboard. And once they were down, it was excellent response time and training that got everyone to the shore quickly.

And not to take away from what Cpt. Sullenberger’s accomplishments, but he wasn’t alone in that cockpit. And his first officer, Jeffrey Skiles, was a Wisconsinite, so I’d like to throw him a little love. Nice job, gentlemen.

(Thanks to Vidiot for the Salon link.)

Next step: rocket science!

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009 | You Call This News? | No Comments

Suspect arrested at police counter when officer recognizes him

A man who came to a Milwaukee Police Department’s district station to ask about the arrest of his girlfriend ended up in custody himself when an officer recognized him as a suspect in a surveillance video of a strong armed robbery that occurred on Monday.

I hope to officers all took a big smiley group photo with him before tossing him in the cell.

Up in flames (now with updates)

Monday, January 12th, 2009 | You Call This News? | 5 Comments

Rockhaus Guitars had a fire on Sunday.

It’s bad any time anyone loses a business to fire, but it’s especially troubling when it’s my friend’s store.

I didn’t want to bug Rusty, figuring he’s got enough on his plate right now, but I got more info from Greg (the store’s original owner, who now lives in DC) about the fire. He says Rusty told him about 80% of the stock was destroyed. He also says there are plans to rebuild.

Y’know what this would be a good time for? A benefit show. Local musicians, club owners and WMSE (whom Rockhaus has supported for many years), I’m lookin’ at you.

Update: Word now is that all of the store’s guitars were destroyed in the fire. Try not to think too hard on that. It’ll just make you a little sick to your stomach wondering how much vintage, irreplaceable stuff might have been in the mix.

Further Update: I talked to Rusty Monday night. The insurance adjuster showdown is Wednesday (his vs. landlord’s). They’re ripping open the wall where the fire started. Everyone send good insurance outcome vibes his way. (He also asks that benefit plans be put on hold until after he hears how the insurance will shake out.)

Awww. This makes me sad.

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009 | You Call This News? | 2 Comments

After 86 years, Heinemann’s Restaurants close

First Atomic Records*, now Heinemann’s. Dammit, craptastic economy, quit taking away our city’s institutions.

Granted, I hadn’t eaten at Heinemann’s in years, but I have fond memories of eating there when I was younger. I must have been a huge fan of their egg salad, because every time someone mentions the restaurant’s name, egg salad sandwiches are the first thing to pop into my mind.

(*Don’t even get me started on how upset I am about this one. I’ve been in the shop several times since the announcement. Even when I’ve gotten what I came to get, I wander around a little bit, trying to soak up a few remaining bits of atmosphere to squirrel away in my memories.)

Better late than never

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008 | You Call This News? | No Comments

I didn’t forget it was Veterans Day, but I did nearly forget to post anything to the blog today. That just won’t do. But I’m here now.

Thanks, veterans. Your service is much appreciated.

Trouble the Water

Thursday, November 6th, 2008 | You Call This News? | 1 Comment

One of the benefits of living near a university (or, in my case, a couple universities) is that you get the chance to check out all kinds of interesting films you might not see in theatres otherwise. Last night, I got to take advantage of this benefit. UW-M hosted a showing of Hurricane Katrina documentary Trouble the Water.

Sure, we all saw the footage newscasters were broadcasting from in New Orleans during the hurricane, but those folks were filming on high ground. Seeing the inside of the hurricane shot by someone huddled in an attic as the water fills their 9th Ward house is an entirely different story.

If the film or the DVD of the film comes your way, I highly recommend you check it out. (Warning for folks with kids in the house: You’re gonna wanna watch this after they go to bed. The language in the film is not even remotely suitable for under-18s.)

Good morning, America.

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008 | You Call This News? | 5 Comments

Yes We Did

Election Day ‘08

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008 | You Call This News? | 3 Comments

Election Day 08

Sunny and 65 degrees. A perfect day to go make history.

I went to the polls around 11am. No line for my ward (actually, as there was one guy ahead of me, my being there created a “line”), but the registration table had about 40 people waiting. I was only voter 351 for my ward. Guess the college kids who make up much of the neighborhood hadn’t gotten up yet or voted early. I’m assuming it’ll be a little nuttier over there at night, after people get off work.

I vote at a school, and the kids & PTA always hold a bake sale (which you don’t get to partake in if you vote after 6pm. More incentive to go early). They were doing brisk business. I spent more time making bakery decisions than I did waiting to vote. (Got myself a nice red velvet cupcake, a few oatmeal Scotchies, a slice of pumpkin bread and an Alterra coffee, all for $3.50. Yum!)

I sat down on the little rock wall outside the school after voting, had my cupcake and coffee, and basked in the warm glow of being able to cast my vote for a black man for president. For the first time in many years, I feel like there’s a bit of hope for our country’s future. We’ve come an awfully long way on civil rights just in my lifetime. There’s a long way to go yet, but it makes me smile to think we’re on our way toward being a more tolerant, more inclusive nation. Change, indeed.

Election day freebies

Monday, November 3rd, 2008 | You Call This News? | 1 Comment

Hey, Milwaukeeans. has helpfully compiled a list of all the places to get election day freebies tomorrow. Not surprisingly, many of them are of the beer variety. (Is this a great state or what??)

This warms my heart

Saturday, November 1st, 2008 | You Call This News? | 2 Comments

Daughter of slave votes for Obama

I hope she makes it to January to see him take office.

(Note: Don’t bother reading the comments. It’ll just un-warm your heart. The ignorant folk got at the computers again.)

Worth several thousand words

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008 | You Call This News? | 1 Comment

You’ve seen many of these before, but this site gives a pretty comprehensive glance at the wonderful photos Callie Shell has made of Barack Obama.

(also via NOTCOT. I was doing some catching up on their linkety goodness today.)

Two good things about Dec. 5

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007 | You Call This News? | 1 Comment

1) It’s the fabulous Miss BB’s birthday. Happy birthday, BB!! I hope the birthday gnomes were good to you this year.

2) It’s the anniversary of the repeal of prohibition. Don’t forget to hug your 21st Amendment. (You’ll notice Wisconsin was the second to ratify it.) If you need me, I’ll be at the pub.

Like a little cheese with your whine?

Thursday, November 29th, 2007 | You Call This News? | 5 Comments

I’m not a huge fan of the idea of the city putting up a bronze statue of the Fonz — hasn’t poor Milwaukee suffered enough Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley jokes? — but it’s just a silly little sculpture that’s going to go along the Riverwalk, which is home to many other sculptures. Local art guy Mike Brenner sure has his panties in a bunch over it, though.

Lighten up, Mike. Sheesh.

Any respect I had for him or his gallery is quickly waning. Only art he approves of is ok? Nice attitude for someone supposedly promoting the arts. Guess what — sometimes art is just plain silly or stupid. It happens. We’ll survive. (And is anyone but me having flashbacks to the last presidential elections and the Baldwin family?)

Cannot stop laughing

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007 | You Call This News? | 5 Comments

Prayers Answered

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007 | You Call This News? | 4 Comments

LebowskiFest Chicago, March 7-8, 2008.

How’s that for a birthday party, Mr. Steelbuddha??

Must go practice bowling.

The jokes just write themselves

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007 | You Call This News? | 1 Comment

Dick’s Sporting Goods Acquires Chick’s Sporting Goods

(Thanks to fellow copywriting staffer Brian for the tip.)

The feel-good squirrel story of the day

Friday, November 16th, 2007 | You Call This News? | No Comments

Squirrel’s epic swim across lake


Sunday, November 11th, 2007 | You Call This News? | 1 Comment

Thanks, vets.