Gokey To Release Debut Album March 2

January 31, 2010

Milwaukee-native singer Danny Gokey will release his debut album, “My Best Days” (19 Recordings/RCA Nashville) on March 2.

Gokey came in third place as a contestant on the eight season of Fox’s reality show “American Idol.”

His first single, “My Best Days Are Ahead of Me,” was released on iTunes late last year. Click here to watch the music video for the track.

Brew City Bruisers start fourth season

January 31, 2010

~Michael Timm

Team Maiden Milwaukee warms up around the track before their match against the Rushin’ Rollettes on Jan. 16. ~photo Cheryl Checkai / Brew City Bruisers

The Brew City Bruisers roller derby club kicked off its fourth season Jan. 16 at the Milwaukee County Sports Complex, 6000 W. Ryan Rd., in Franklin.

The Bruisers estimate between 1,500 and 1,600 people attended the standing-room-only match, whose two bouts and halftime entertainment spanned about three hours.  »Read more

Welcome, Bay View’s Baby New Year!

January 31, 2010

By Jill Rothenbueler Maher

Kendall Rose Thomack Kendall Rose Thomack, who is celebrated as Bay View’s Baby New Year, must have been curious to see her new neighborhood. She was born about three weeks early 7:26am, Jan. 22 at 4 pounds, 14 ounces, and17 inches.

Kendall’s parents, Chad and Heather Thomack, have lived on Morgan Avenue for close to two years with cat Elliot and dog Pencil. Chad said Elliot and Pencil have been very curious about the baby.

Like all new parents, Chad and Heather have been dealing with evening feedings and diaper changes, but seem to be adjusting well. “We love seeing the changes that happen in the first days of life,” said Chad.

As “little peanut” Kendall grows and temperatures warm up, she will get to see more of her surroundings. “I am looking forward to getting her out in Seminary Woods on a walk,” said Chad.

Three ships wrecked off St. Francis coast

January 31, 2010

By Anna Passante

CAD image boat hull

A CAD rendering of the sunken Sebastopol, which lies inside the breakwater by Bay View Park. ~courtesy Tamara Thomsen, Wisconsin Historical Society

Three 19th-century Great Lakes sailing ships, the Boston, the Sebastopol, and the Alleghany, had two things in common. All three were shipwrecked off the shore of St. Francis, Wis., and all three were shipwrecked as a result of an inadequate Milwaukee harbor.

Milwaukee’s original harbor (located about a half-mile south of the present-day harbor) had a shallow harbor entrance, which kept larger ships from entering the inner harbor. These larger ships were forced to anchor outside the harbor entrance at extended piers to unload their goods. Without the protection of the inner harbor during fierce lake storms, many of the ships risked great damage or destruction. Also, due to inadequate navigational lighting, ship captains found it difficult to find the harbor at night, especially during a storm, resulting in ships running aground. Between 1846 and 1855, the three previously mentioned sailing ships were doomed because of these inadequacies.

Fate of the Boston

The side-wheel steamship Boston was built in 1845 and measured 210 feet in length. On Nov. 24, 1846, the Boston arrived in Milwaukee from Buffalo, N.Y., but was unable to enter the inner harbor due to the shallowness of the harbor mouth. The ship instead docked at the extended pier to discharge its cargo. At around 8pm that evening a horrific storm came out of the northeast. Seeking safety, Captain William T. Pease again attempted to take the ship through the harbor mouth into the inner harbor, but the Boston was caught by the powerful gale and lost its smoke stacks, rendering the engines useless.

Anchors were lowered, in hopes of riding out the storm, but the strong winds dragged the Boston southward and around 11pm the ship struck bottom about 150 feet off the shore of the present-day St. Francis Seminary in St. Francis. Help arrived and all the crew and passengers were rescued. The surf broke over the ship, which filled with water. The remaining smoke stack hung limply over the side. An organ destined for an Episcopal church was rescued, as well as cabin doors and panel work, and the vessel’s engine.

map harbor mouth-korn Sebastopol Doomed

On Sept. 12, 1855, the side-wheel steamship Sebastopol left Boston for Milwaukee with a crew of 33 and 60 passengers. The newly built ship measured 234 feet long. The 600 tons of cargo, worth $100,000, included copper, tin, lead and iron ingots, safes, and 50 horses. The Sebastopol arrived near the Milwaukee harbor during a severe northeastern storm. Captain Thomas Watts sailed toward what he thought were lights on the harbor pier but in all likelihood were the lights of a another ship or the lights of the houses on the bluff. The Sebastopol traveled off course three miles south of the harbor and struck bottom 200 feet off the shore of the present-day St. Mary’s Academy in St. Francis.

Sebastopol crewmembers set out in a lifeboat, but it capsized and three were drowned. A government lifeboat rescued crew and passengers, including Captain Watts’ wife and four children. Seven or eight of the horses were saved, with some survivors reaching the shore on horseback. Valued at $1,000 each, more horses could have been saved but it was impossible to get them to jump in the water, according to the Milwaukee Sentinel.

The bodies of the three crewmembers, James Clark, Frank (last name unknown), and Morris Berry were recovered from the lake. “I have had all three of the bodies taken to the Lake Protestant Cemetery [in St. Francis] and decently buried side by side,” said Justice of the Peace Jared Thompson in a Milwaukee Sentinel editorial. Three more bodies were later recovered. Cargo was strewn across the beach and at the bottom of the lake. (Divers rediscovered the shipwreck in the 1970s in 15 feet of water near E. Oklahoma Avenue and salvaged items including pewter tableware, ironstone dishes, and a brass belt.)

Last Gasp of the Alleghany

On the evening of Oct. 20, 1855, during a heavy northeastern storm, the propeller ship Alleghany approached the Milwaukee harbor. The 177-foot ship was built in 1849. Captain Asa S. Curtiss saw no light on the harbor piers and ended up anchoring north of the harbor. Due to the intense storm, the anchor did not hold. The ship lost its smoke pipe, was dragged to the southwest, and struck bottom about 100 feet from the lakeshore of the present-day St. Francis Seminary. A local newspaper reported that various articles of cargo were thrown in the water, “forming a sort of bridge from the boat to the shore, on which the women and children were carried.” All 30 passengers survived.

In 1848, the Wisconsin Legislature passed a law allowing Milwaukee to levy a tax to pay for the construction a new harbor entrance. By 1857, a new, safer harbor entrance opened (known as the straight-cut) just north of the original harbor.

19th-century Ships of the Great Lakes

Schooners, side-wheel steamships, and propeller steamships sailed the Great Lakes during the 19th century. These commercial vessels moved cargo and passengers between the Great Lakes ports. Schooners were big sailboats powered by the wind and had two or more masts. Side-wheel steamships had locomotive-type boilers that were fueled by coal and wood. The boilers created steam that turned the ship’s side paddlewheels. Propeller steamships also had boilers that provided steam power that turned the submerged propellers. All three types of shipping vessels continued to be used on the Great Lakes well into the 20th century.

Other 1846-55 Shipwrecks off Milwaukee County’s Lake Shore

  • C. C. Trowbridge, side-wheel steamer, 1842
  • Badger, side-wheel steamer, 1837
  • Bolivar, schooner, 1847
  • Nile, side-wheel steamer, 1850
  • Buckeye State, schooner, 1852
  • Active, schooner, 1855
  • J. Steinhart, schooner, 1855
  • John F. Porter, schooner, 1855
  • Orleans, brig,1855

Source: maritimetrails.org

**There are no known drawings or period images of the Boston, Sebastopol, or Alleghany. Shown below are some period steam-powered vessels that would have plied the Great Lakes. Click to enlarge.


Steamer Milwaukee

Steamboat Western World

Can Asian carp invasion be averted?

January 31, 2010

By Kathleen Schmitt Kline

flying fish option 2

Not only does the jumping silver carp pose a hazard for boaters on the Missouri River, but it and its non-jumping relative, the bighead carp, also pose an ecological hazard for native fishes. ~courtesy University of Missouri Cooperative Media Group

In December 2009, an environmental emergency brigade of 450 Americans and Canadians descended on Romeoville, Ill., armed with nets, boats, and thousands of gallons of poison. The urgent, 20-agency response was brought on by recent environmental DNA (eDNA) tests indicating that Asian carp were closer to invading Lake Michigan than previously thought. The tests detect traces of Asian carp DNA in water samples within a 48-hour period.

One of the 450 who dropped everything and headed to Romeoville was Phil Moy, a fisheries and aquatic invasive species specialist with the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute. Fifteen years ago, Moy served as the first manager of a project to erect an electric barrier in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal to repel foreign fish.

Chicago dug this canal more than a hundred years ago to manage wastewater, and its construction joined two major ecosystems that until then had remained isolated. Over the last several decades, Asian carp that escaped from Southern aquaculture and wastewater facilities have been moving up the Mississippi to the Illinois River, and the canal connecting it to Lake Michigan is an ideal pathway for the fish to advance into the Great Lakes.

In December, scheduled maintenance required temporarily shutting down part of the barrier. Because eDNA tests showed Asian carp advancing, a 5.7-mile section of the canal was treated with rotenone, a fish poison, to ensure that no carp would breach the barrier during the maintenance.

Moy was on hand-and often on a boat-during the seven-day effort that required coordinating all of the state and federal agencies involved using the Incident Command System, a procedure similar to that used to coordinate efforts to fight large wildfires in the West.

Moy has remained active on the electric barrier project as co-chair of its advisory panel. However, he admits that the barrier is only a temporary solution. Ultimately, he said, the only sure way to keep Asian carp and other invasive species out of the Great Lakes is to permanently sever the link between the Mississippi River and Great Lakes basins.

“I really think that’s the direction we have to go,” Moy said.

Final Chicago Waterways map

What Would Carp Need?

The four species of Asian carp-bighead, silver, black, and grass-pose a significant threat to the Great Lakes commercial and sport fisheries, collectively valued at more than $7 billion annually.

The filter-feeding fish can grow to be more than 100 pounds, and they are capable of daily gobbling up 20 percent of their weight in plankton, the tiny organisms that provide the foundation of the Great Lakes fishery food chain.

In addition, motor boat engine noise startles silver carp, causing them to shoot up in the air as high as 10 feet. Airborne silver carp have injured several boaters on the Mississippi and Illinois rivers-where Asian carp, imported from Taiwan in the 1970s to consume the waste in aquaculture and wastewater systems, have elbowed out native fish to become the dominant species in many areas.

Although there’s no question the carp pose a threat to Great Lakes fish and boaters, Moy said a successful Asian carp invasion is by no means a sure thing. “It takes some specific habitat for them to do really well,” he said.

Scientists estimate that the carp need access to a river with a deep, free-flowing main channel in order to successfully reproduce. If their eggs settle to the river bottom before hatching, the embryos will suffocate and die.

“One hundred kilometers-about 63 miles-is roughly the distance needed to provide enough current to keep the fish’s fertilized eggs suspended in water while they incubate,” Moy said. Out of thousands of tributaries that feed the Great Lakes, only 22 on the U.S. side (four in Wisconsin) meet this criterion. Adding another criterion-the availability of quiet, fertile backwater areas where the newly hatched fish larvae can eat and mature-reduces the list even more.


An empty barge passes through the Barrier reach, June 2005. ~photo Phil Moy

However, before they can reproduce, the fish would need to find each other within more than 94,000 square miles of the Great Lakes. While a few bighead carp have been captured in Lake Erie, probably due to someone releasing them there, they have yet to multiply into any significant numbers.

Indeed, Moy said it’s all about numbers now, and that’s why the electric barrier is still important.

“We have to keep the numbers as low as humanly possible,” he said. “Even if there are a few Asian carp upstream of the electrical barrier, there is absolutely no assurance that they’ll be able to establish a population.”

However, Moy said that the electrical barrier is not a permanent solution, because it depends on the fish reacting predictably to a technology that could potentially fail. In addition, it doesn’t do anything to protect the Mississippi River basin from small, floating invasive species coming from the Great Lakes, such as quagga mussel larvae.

“We really need to establish a two-way separation in order to really protect both basins,” he said.

Restoring the Natural Separation?

Accomplishing this would be challenging, but possible, Moy said, and shutting down the canal locks would only be one step.

The Des Plaines River runs parallel to the Sanitary and Ship Canal, and flooding in 2008 sent water from the Des Plaines overland into the canal upstream of the barrier. The Army Corps is now investigating how best to address this “leaky” spot.

Other potential leaks around the Great Lakes would likely need to be addressed, too. A mere two miles of marshy, flat terrain separates the Mississippi and Great Lakes basins at Portage, Wis., where a canal was dug in 1851 to connect the Wisconsin and Fox rivers. Asian carp have now advanced as far north as Lake Pepin in the Mississippi River, well upstream of its confluence with the Wisconsin River.

Moy and other biologists worry that Asian carp could drastically change the Great Lakes food chain, just as a string of other aquatic invasive species have caused sweeping changes over the last century.

In the 1800s, blood-sucking sea lamprey invaded the lakes through locks and shipping canals connecting the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. The lamprey’s introduction caused a major collapse of lake trout, whitefish, and chub populations during the 1940s and 1950s. The absence of large predator fish like lake trout caused an explosion in the population of small, silvery alewives, which were introduced to Lake Erie in the 1930s and soon spread throughout the Great Lakes. Then, to fill the gap left by lake trout, fisheries agencies introduced coho and Chinook salmon to control alewife numbers and provide an exciting sport fishing experience.

Canada and the United States spend approximately $18 million a year to control sea lamprey numbers using a toxin that specifically targets the lamprey. Moy said a similar effort might have to be launched for Asian carp if they successfully invade the Great Lakes, although a carp-specific toxin has not yet been developed.

Kathleen Schmitt Kline is a science writer at the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute, which supports research, education, and outreach dedicated to the stewardship and sustainable use of the nation’s Great Lakes and ocean resources. Visit seagrant.wisc.edu for more on Asian carp, including video of the fish.

Asian Carp Facts

The common term “Asian carp” includes four types of carp native to Asia that have been introduced in the United States over the last three decades: bighead, silver, black, and grass.

Size: Commonly 24-30 inches and 3-10 pounds, but capable of growing to more than 50 pounds.

Preferred habitat: Large warm-water rivers and impoundments.

Threat: Asian carp are tremendous filter feeders that would likely out-compete many native fish if they become established in the Great Lakes. Silver carp jump out of the water in response to outboard motors and can seriously injure boaters.


Early 1970s Asian carp are imported from Taiwan to the United States for cleaning aquaculture ponds and sewage treatment facilities. Flooding allows them to escape into the Mississippi River basin.

1995 As Asian carp make their way up the Mississippi River to the Illinois River, an advisory panel forms to aid the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in finding an environmentally sound method for preventing the spread of the carp and other aquatic nuisance species through the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.

1997 Barrier Advisory Panel recommends an electric barrier as the best approach with the least number of drawbacks. However, the panel notes that no approach relying on animal behavior or a technological solution, as opposed to a physical separation, could be 100-percent effective in stopping the movement of aquatic invasive species through the canal.

April 2002 The Army Corps begins operating the first electrical barrier (Barrier I) as a demonstration of a new technology for preventing the spread of aquatic nuisance species. The barrier operates at a strength of one volt per inch, strong enough to repel most adult fish, but possibly not strong enough to repel smaller juvenile fish.

Based on monitoring and testing of Barrier I, a second, more permanent barrier (Barrier II) is authorized. Barrier II is a similar electric field barrier that covers a larger area within the canal and is constructed to last longer. It consists of two sets of electrical arrays and control houses, known as Barriers IIA and IIB. Each control house and set of arrays can be operated independently, but the ultimate goal is to operate both at the same time.

May 2006 Barrier IIA is completed, but due to safety concerns, it sits idle for nearly three years.

2007 Congress authorizes the Army Corps to complete Barrier II, to upgrade Barrier I and make it permanent, and to operate the barrier system at full federal cost.

September 2008 Flooding in the Chicago region sends water from the Des Plaines River tumbling over the narrow strip of land between it and the Sanitary and Ship Canal at several locations above the barrier site.

October 2008 Barrier I is shut down for maintenance. Repairs are made to allow Barrier I to remain in service for several more years until Barriers IIA and IIB are fully functional.

April 2009 Barrier IIA begins operating full-time at a strength of one volt per inch.

July 2009 Environmental DNA (eDNA) testing detects Asian carp DNA just south of the Lockport Lock, much closer to the barrier than previously believed. The eDNA test detects traces of Asian carp DNA in water samples within a 48-hour period.

August 2009 In response to the eDNA tests, the strength of Barrier IIA is increased to two volts per inch.

September 2009 Asian carp DNA is detected approximately one mile south of the barrier.

October 2009 Asian carp DNA is detected in the Cal-Sag Channel and Calumet River, beyond the electrical barrier.

December 2009 A 5.7-mile section of the canal is closed while scheduled maintenance on Barrier IIA takes place. Barrier I remains active. However, because Barrier I may not be effective in deterring juvenile fish, a fish toxin called rotenone is applied to the canal between the barrier and the Lockport Lock and Dam. At least 450 people from 20 agencies from the Great Lakes states and Canada report to Romeoville, Ill. to assist with the effort.

January 18, 2010 Asian carp DNA is detected in water samples taken Dec. 8, 2009, in the Calumet Harbor in Lake Michigan.

Reproduction in Rivers

If a substantial population of Asian carp establish themselves in the Great Lakes, scientists predict they will have to reproduce in river systems with 100 kilometers or more of open channel. There are 22 such rivers on the U.S. side of the Great Lakes. Four Wisconsin rivers could be especially favorable environments to carp reproduction-the Bad, Manitowoc, Nemadji, and Sheboygan rivers.

Source: April 12, 2005 U.S. Geological Service report submitted to the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife

Interstate lawsuit, presidential summit on Asian carp

January 31, 2010

By Michael Timm

The Asian carp invasion has pitted most of Great Lakes states against Illinois as well as environmental interests against Chicago’s regional transportation industry, which uses a canal originally designed to spirit away the city’s wastewater to connect the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River basin.

Over a hundred years after the canal’s construction, northbound Asian carp are exploiting this connection, despite an electric barrier intended to keep them from passing the canal.

DNA evidence places some fish already in Lake Michigan, though as of Jan. 26 no fish themselves have been reported caught beyond the electric barrier.

After carp DNA was detected beyond the electric barrier late last year, the state of Michigan sued the state of Illinois, seeking to reopen a longstanding feud between Great Lakes states and Chicago over the deleterious effects of its canal.

The U.S. Supreme Court Jan. 19 rejected Michigan’s request for a preliminary injunction that would have ordered locks shut on the Chicago waterways in an effort to seal Lake Michigan from the greatest volume of Asian carp.  »Read more

Auntie Beeb knows music

January 31, 2010

By Randy Otto

An escape during this dreary season is as close as your PC. Thanks to the internet, we have access to thousands of radio stations worldwide. One that’s particularly near and dear to me is BBC 2, the station born from the demise of the ’60s renegade radio stations depicted in the recent film Pirate Radio.

BBC 2 is a pop music station all right, but one that embraces all genres of pop music. You may hear Frank Sinatra one minute, Kraftwerk the next. By day, the station is not unlike typical American Top 40 stations, mixing current hits and oldies with DJs and “chat” features. I find the British drive-time traffic reports quite amusing (remember, Britain is six hours ahead of Milwaukee time). But there’s more to BBC 2-much more.

What makes BBC 2 an absolute delight for me is the plethora of live concerts and documentary programs regularly broadcast on BBC 2. Over the past few months, I’ve heard concerts featuring Dame Shirley Bassey, including an incredible performance with the BBC Orchestra. Richard Hawley sang a song with her that he composed for Bassey. The very next day I heard an electrifying performance by Smokey Robinson before a rabid audience of Motown-crazy Brits. I also heard a fantastic ABBA tribute from London’s Hyde Park that featured the cream of British pop along with a special appearance by Benny Andersson and his band.

Above all, though, it’s the “docs” that really do it for me. In the past several months, some of the radio documentaries I listened to were:

The Man Machine: The Kraftwerk Story

Jarvis Cocker of Pulp narrates this great 60-minute documentary about the history of the great German band and the Krautrock movement. It brilliantly shows their profound influence on current pop music, including great comments from Afrika Bambaataa among many others. A great story comes from Coldplay’s Chris Martin, who recalled writing a letter (in German) to Kraftwerk seeking permission to sample a riff from “Computer Love” for one of Coldplay’s songs.

Super Bad, Super Cool

Blaxploitation film star Pam Grier narrates the hour-long documentary about music from legends Isaac Hayes, Curtis Mayfield, and Bobby Womack, among many others, who were an essential element of these movies’ success and of their influence on contemporary filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino. As BBC notes, the unfortunately named genre, “blaxploitation,” embodies films that emerged in the ’70s featuring all-black casts, great soul, R&B, and jazzy soundtracks.

The Beatles: Here, There, and Everywhere

London-based American music journalist Paul Gambaccini, host of his own Saturday afternoon BBC 2 show featuring current pop, narrates this great two-hour program about how the Beatles created their musical magic. The music is enhanced with great comments from the likes of super-producer Rick Rubin, Jeff Lynne of ELO, Tom Petty, and Heart’s Nancy Wilson. One particularly great story comes from Brian Wilson who recalls his ecstatic reaction the first time he heard George Harrison’s sitar on “Norwegian Wood.”

Monty Python’s Wonderful World of Sound

Celebrating the great comedy troupe’s 40th anniversary, this documentary focuses on their classic comedy albums. It shows how Python succeeded in translating their manic humor to vinyl in the days before home video existed. Comments from all the Pythons, except John Cleese and the late Graham Chapman, are featured, as well as insights about Python music from cohort, and ex-Bonzo Dog Band member, Neil Innes.

Brass Britain

Celebrating one of Britain’s most beloved musical institutions-prominently featured in the Ewan McGregor movie Brassed Off-this four-part series chronicles the history of the British brass band. It also brilliantly describes national brass band competitions, followed with as much fervor in the UK as American Idol is followed here. It also shows how these bands helped unite the British in times of national crisis.

These documentaries can be heard anytime via podcast, but there is a catch. They are available for only one week after their original broadcast, so you must check regularly to see what’s currently available. The website is bbc.co.uk/radio2/programmes/formats/documentaries. BBC 2’s homepage is bbc.co.uk/radio2 to access all station programming and program schedules. Since BBC is public broadcasting, the programs are presented commercial-free.


Paul Cebar, One Little Light On

Most people know veteran Milwaukee musician Paul Cebar as the front man for Paul Cebar and Tomorrow Sound (formerly Paul Cebar and the Milwaukeeans). But for those lucky enough to see him perform solo opening for acts like Nick Lowe have seen a different Cebar-a balladeer accompanied only by his acoustic guitar. This is what you get on his new CD. Mostly composed of originals sprinkled with choice covers, including musical cohort John Sieger’s “I Painted Your Face,” which serves as the album’s closing track), this CD perfectly captures the essence of the solo Cebar and is a most welcome addition to Paul’s recorded catalog.

CD available at cdbaby.com.

The Exotics, Lost Album

Keeping alive the spirit of great instrumental bands like the Ventures, the Exotics were a mainstay of the Milwaukee music scene in the 90s. After a too-lengthy hiatus, the band returned in 2009, capped by an appearance on Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion radio show and the release of this CD.

Presented in “Surfonic sound,” the album is comprised of tracks recorded for a 90s release but never released. It wound up being shelved until now. I say, better late than never! Featuring mostly band originals plus some nifty covers (the Ventures’ “Lonely Girl” along with Herb Alpert & the TJB’s “Whipped Cream,” best known as the theme from the old Dating Game TV series), this cool disc will help get your party started.

You can get the CD at Bay View’s own Rush Mor Records.

‘S Wonderful: The Music of George Gershwin, Marvin Hamlisch and the Milwaukee Symphony Pops and pianist Kevin Cole, Feb. 5-7, Marcus Center

Last season MSO Pops conductor Hamlisch presented a tribute to legendary American composer Richard Rodgers that was one of the year’s great musical highlights. Now, the award-winning composer turns his attention to another American musical icon, George Gershwin, for a program not to be missed. Along with a generous serving of Gershwin standards like “Embraceable You” and “Summertime,” pianist Cole is also scheduled to join in on the festivities. Is a performance of the immortal Rhapsody in Blue in the cards?

Tickets and info available at mso.org, or call Luther, Al or Mike at (414) 291-7605.

Sound Opinions Live, February 19, Pabst Theatre

Chicago rock journalists Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot host the long-running nationally syndicated radio program Sound Opinions, heard locally on RadioMilwaukee 88.9 FM. They are to pop music what Siskel and Ebert were to movies, providing thoughtful discourse and interviews about the current music scene. The duo brings their show to the Pabst for a special Milwaukee presentation, in which they’ll discuss rock music in the movies, featuring film clips interspersed throughout the evening. Tickets are $10, about the price of most first-run flicks these days, and this show is likely to be more enjoyable.

Tickets and info available at pabsttheatre.org or call (414) 286-3663.

Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons with violinist Frank Almond, guest conductor Nicholas McGegan and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, February 18-21, Marcus Center

How’s this for an unbeatable combination: MSO’s popular concertmaster Almond as soloist with conductor McGegan, one of the MSO’s most popular guest conductors ever with both musicians and audiences, and the magnificent MSO performing one of the most beloved works in the classical oeuvre? Throw in Schubert’s 4th Symphony, and you have the makings of the one of the best classical music evenings this year. And make sure you attend either the “conversations” performance on the 18th or the pre-concert talk beginning an hour before the other performances during which the witty English conductor McGegan will be holding court.

Tickets and info available at mso.org or call (414) 291-7605.

Various Artists, Hope for Haiti Now

In case you missed the telethon event on January 22nd, or would like to get the musical performances from the program, they are now available for download by going to iTunes.com/Haiti. You can get the entire collection for $7.99. While all the performances are great, particular standouts include Stevie Wonder’s emotional take on “Bridge Over Troubled Water;” equally emotional renditions of “I’ll Stand by You” by Shakira and “Let It Be” by Jennifer Hudson; Sting’s driving acoustic take on the Police classic “Driven to Tears” featuring Chris Botti on trumpet; John Legend’s charged rendition of “Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child;” Madonna’s “Like A Prayer” complete with gospel choir; and the new song “Stranded” featuring Jay-Z, Rhianna, Bono, and the Edge. Also included are songs from Coldplay and Dave Matthews teaming up with Neil Young, among many others. I’d say that was well worth the price. And by the way, all proceeds from download sales will be given to Haitian relief.

Mystery Building—The Palmer House

January 31, 2010

By Anna Passante

Mystery Building Jan 2010

~photo Anna Passante

The Palmer House at 2425-27 S. St. Clair St. was built around 1867 by the Milwaukee Iron Company as a boarding house for its mill workers. This Second Empire-style building was named for an 1880s proprietor. Over the years the building housed a bakery, a restaurant, and a tavern, and it now houses three rental units.

Information from the Wisconsin State Historical Society website and city assessment records.

A letter to my student teacher

January 31, 2010

By Jay Bullock

The other day at school, another teacher and I were talking about how little it takes to make us happy nowadays, about how we settle for very, very tiny victories to maintain some level of sanity.

I said, “If I ran into College Me-you know, the Me who wanted to change the world and thought teaching was the way to do it?-College Me would be so disappointed.”

And here you are, College You, ready to start your student teaching in the Milwaukee Public Schools. I don’t want to give you the wrong idea about the job, don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of rewarding and fulfilling things to keep you going as an MPS teacher. But there are some things you should know.

So in the spirit of commencement addresses and half-time pep talks and best-man toasts, here’s some basic stuff I think you need to know if you want MPS to be your home.

First, remember that, ultimately, you’re here to serve the needs of your students. It often feels as though you’re the skeleton from the “anatomy” entry in the encyclopedia-you know, the part that allows you to turn the clear acetate pages of more and more layers onto the opaque skeleton until you can’t see the bones anymore.

Everyone has a demand to layer onto you: principals, superintendents, curriculum specialists, parents, state tests, fellow teachers, a looming special education lawsuit, the taxpaying public. It’s like some kind of Wonderland onion that grows as you peel it, and your day can be pretty quickly filled dealing with all of that other stuff. Don’t let it-that’s the thing that has done the most to wear away what’s left of College Me.

Second, MPS students are often pretty angry-at their parents, at the rules, at you, at themselves, at the world. It seldom manifests itself obviously, though you will see fights and passive-aggression and some pretty clever attempts to wriggle out of doing the work you ask them to do. Instead, it mostly means that one of the most important things you can do for students is to be kind, to be patient. College Me didn’t care much for patience; he wanted everything right now, but students need their own schedule.

Students will want to be your friend, but that’s not your role. I have often said MPS teachers need to be activists for social justice, with a passion for things like closing the achievement gap and opening up opportunities traditionally denied to the urban poor. That means you can be-must be-your students’ ally and advocate and therapist and mentor. Students will have scores of good friends during their lifetimes, but they will only have one freshman English teacher. Make the most of that.

Finally, remember that whatever happens around you in this city and this district doesn’t change the fact that your students need a good teacher. Indeed, school, for all the upheaval and tension and debate we adults can’t help but stress over, is often the most stable part of a Milwaukee child’s life.

A few months ago I was asked to appear on a panel about MPS for Channel 10’s Fourth Street Forum program. During Q&A with the audience, a young man stood up and said, “For a long time I’ve been planning to become a teacher, most likely in MPS, but I’m afraid, to be honest. It’s a big mess and I don’t know if I want to even touch it.” That’s understandable.

Yet despite the continued avalanche of bad news for or about MPS-from threatened takeovers and looming bankruptcy to Detroit-level test scores-here you are. That already tells me something. You want to change the world, and I look forward to helping you start on this small corner of it.

Jay Bullock is an English teacher at Bay View High School who blogs at folkbum.com. Contact him at mpshallmonitor@gmail.com.

Ahoy! February 2010

January 31, 2010

Asian carp has been a big story recently, locally, regionally, and nationally. We’ve got two angles this month. The first is by new contributor Kathleen Schmitt Kline who discusses methods that have been and may be deployed to avert the fish from invading Lake Michigan, and the feasibility of success. We have expanded our water science web, which in addition to the work of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Great Lakes WATER institute, now also includes the UW Sea Grant Institute in Madison. Michael Timm tackles the Asian carp policy disputes that have emerged pitting the Great Lakes states against Illinois, and which have reached as far as the Supreme Court and the White House.

Sheila Julson profiled Captain Luann Brandt, the first female commander of the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan. Welcome to Bay View, Captain Brandt!

The new Bay View Hide House Community Garden is in the planning stages, as Jason Haas reports. The garden will be located in the land bordered by Deer Place, and Greeley and Burrell streets.

Another water-related story is Anna Passante’s account of three ships that were wrecked in the 19th century in the waters near St. Francis.

Cara Slingerland outlines the goals and strategies of the MPS Action Teams for Partnerships. Jay Bullock, penned a letter full of advice and encouragement to those about to enter a noble profession.

We continue to expand our new Arts & Entertainment section, which frankly could be many pages. That can happen, but we need local and city entertainment venues to support us with your advertising. It will happen! Cara Slingerland noticed that there’s a good amount of permanent art in Bay View bars and pitched that story idea. Mary Vuk Sussman contributed a review of the film Crazy Heart, and I introduce the food and chefs at the new Café Tarragon inside Future Green, and a photography exhibit, Foundry Work, at the Grohmann Museum.

The new Kinnickinnic Avenue BID #44 board nominees were selected last month, and we also note that the plug was pulled for the Eco-Bay development formerly planned for Logan Street on the site of the old Army Reserve base.

Michael Timm reports that 56 additional parcels were approved by MMSD for public acquisition related to the KK River reconstruction project in the corridor that borders Lincoln Village.

Senator Plale discusses a company’s efforts to convert fly ash from the We Energies plant in Oak Creek into bricks in nearby Caledonia. Fly ash is a byproduct of burning coal that contains toxic heavy metals. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been debating whether it should be labeled a hazardous substance.

I welcome Dan Gray to our group. Dan is a writer and will be contributing a story next month. In recent years, after his work at the Urban Ecology Center, he took a job managing one of the border collies who make Canada geese fret.

I also want to introduce you to Emily Bertholf, our new sales representative. Emily is a Bay View native. She attended Trowbridge and Bay View High School, and now lives with her husband and three children in nearby Cudahy, but she wants to move back to Bay View. Emily is a strong advocate of public education and Bay View, so she will fit right in.

Keep calling and writing with your suggestions for stories and your feedback about the paper and website, the pols, the community, and other things you share with us. I really like hearing from you, but to whomever you are, you, who calls me on occasion to ask for the phone number of the Journal Sentinel classifieds, I say, next time try the Riverwest Currents. Ask for Jan. She probably knows their number, too.

Katherine Keller


56 additional parcels identified near KK River

January 31, 2010

By Michael Timm

The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) commission approved an additional 56 private property parcels for public acquisition between Sixth and 16th streets near the Kinnickinnic River at its meeting Dec. 14, 2009.

Twenty-seven private properties were identified and approved for acquisition earlier in 2009.

Between 11th and 16th streets, every existing property south of Harrison Avenue and north of the current river channel is now targeted for acquisition (an additional 23 parcels identified). The revised acquisition plat also adds 28 parcels south of the river between Sixth and 12th streets and five more parcels north of the river between Sixth and Ninth streets.  »Read more

Have the reduced library hours affected you?…Do you have an idea how to restore them?

January 31, 2010

Interviews & Photos by Michael Timm

Roger Schrank

“I was not affected by it. I was just there the other day. I can do my stuff during the day.”

-Roger Schrank, Lincoln & Winchester

Stacy Cappaert and Molly Mangan

“I work 10 to 6 every day and it’s hard to get to the library on a Saturday. Yeah, I wish it were later.”

-Molly Mangan, E. Park Place (right)

“I don’t really live around here, but the library should be open more, so more and more people can go there.”

-Stacy Cappaert, Menomonee Falls (left)

David Melvin

“It’s a little less convenient, but I understand they gotta cut back somewhere, so-it’s a little less convenient but it’s a really good system and I still use it…I’d love it if they were open more, but I have no idea how that’s working out.”

-David Melvin, E. Smith Street

Antonio Nieves

“That’s messed up. Kids. Kids, you know, they got to go to school, they got stuff to do. Why are we paying all this money for them to just reduce our hours and raise the prices on bus fares, things like that, but they want to reduce hours everywhere else? And reduce routes. That’s not cool…Put the hours regular again. How hard is that? How hard is it to just keep something the way it’s been? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

-Antonio Nieves, N. Buffum Street

Stacey Grant-Savela and Kris Savela

“I wish it was open in the morning. I know now it’s open at 1, but I do appreciate that it’s open later [till 8]. The Friday closing is disappointing, but at least it’s still open…No, I just want it to stay open and not close.”

-Stacey Grant-Savela, S. Woodward Avenue (left)

“With the library hours, it’s disappointing that they’re limited, but from a neighborhood perspective I’m happy that it’s open and not just closed. And given the budgetary crisis with the city, it’s a better of two bad options in my opinion.”

-Kris Savela, S. Woodward Avenue (right)

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