Hendrix, Springsteen, and The Who legacy releases are true gems

October 31, 2010

By Randy Otto

Jimi Hendrix, West Coast Seattle Boy

Earlier this year, Sony Legacy acquired the much-coveted rights to the Jimi Hendrix catalog. Phase I consisted of deluxe reissues of the Hendrix studio albums, plus the well-received Valleys of Neptune collection of previously unreleased studio tracks.

Phase II is the crown jewel of the reissue project, the brand-new boxed set West Coast Seattle Boy. This marks the first time Jimi’s entire musical career has been documented in a single anthology. In fact, the first disc of the four-CD set consists entirely of Jimi’s pre-Experience work backing the likes of Little Richard, the Isley Brothers, Don Covay, and King Curtis. The remaining three CDs contain songs familiar to Hendrix fans, but the vast majority of these tracks are previously unreleased outtakes or live tracks. Among the tracks are a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Tears of Rage” and the legendary studio jam with Hendrix and jazz organist Larry Young. The Hendrix/Young track offers a hint of the direction Jimi’s music would have taken had he lived.

Topping it all off is a new DVD documentary on Jimi’s life from director Bob Smeaton, who was responsible for helming the Beatles Anthology series, done with the same care Smeaton brought to the Beatles programs.

Finally, an anthology worthy of this musical giant.

Bruce Springsteen, The Promise: The Darkness on the Edge of Town Story

One of the year’s most-awaited releases is the new Promise box set that offers a never-before-seen look at Springsteen’s creative process during the creation of Darkness on the Edge of Town, which many consider a defining moment in his career. In addition to the newly remastered CD of the original Darkness on the Edge of Town, there are two CDs packed with songs recorded for but not included on Darkness, including “Fire” and “Because the Night.” There are also three DVDs: the recent HBO documentary on the making of the album, another featuring a rollicking E Street Band gig filmed in Houston in December 1978, and one more featuring Bruce and the E Streeters performing the entire album live in an empty Asbury Park theater, filmed in 2009.

Calling The Promise a bonanza for Springsteen fans is the understatement of the year.

The Who, Live at Leeds (Super Deluxe Edition)

Oh, no! Yet another reissue of Live at Leeds? Sure, it’s one of the greatest live albums ever, but it’s been previously issued on CD several times, including the 1995 edition that featured the entire gig (with its complete performance of Tommy) for the first time.

A little historical perspective is in order. During their UK tour in February 1970, the band decided to record several of the gigs with the intent of releasing a live Who album. On the 13th, they recorded their show in Hull, one of the band’s best gigs ever. On the 14th, the band recorded their show in Leeds, mainly as a backup just in case there were technical problems with the Hull tapes.

Which, as it turned out, there were. When listening to the first few songs of the set, it was discovered that John Entwistle’s bass parts were missing. After hearing the first couple songs sans bass, the band abandoned the Hull tapes, and the Leeds tapes became the Live at Leeds album.

But as it turns out, the Hull tapes were recently pulled from storage, and upon listening to the entire show, it was discovered that the Entwistle bass parts were actually on the majority of the tapes. So, thanks to some slick digital editing, Who fans will get to hear this legendary show for the very first time. This monster box contains the original remastered Live at Leeds double CD, the complete Hull show on two CDs, the original Live at Leeds LP on heavy duty vinyl, and a special collectible 45 featuring tracks from the show. In addition, tons of memorabilia from the band fill out the box, just like on the original LP. All in all, a true rock masterpiece just got even better.

See bayviewcompass.com/archives/category/did-you-hear-that to read my exclusive online Now Hear These picks for November, including our annual look at local musical offerings for the upcoming holiday season.


Musically Celebrating the Holidays in Milwaukee

With the myriad of musical events celebrating the upcoming holiday season here in the area, once again Now Hear These presents my list of recommended events that might slip under the radar of more well-known traditional events like the Milwaukee Ballet’s Nutcracker and the Rep’s Christmas Carol. So climb aboard the sleigh, and away we go!

HMS Pinafore, Skylight Opera, November 19-December 19, Cabot Theatre (skylightopera.com)

In the over 50-year-history of this venerable company, the holiday season usually meant one thing: Gilbert & Sullivan. Many of the Skylight’s greatest productions have been their holiday productions of classic G&S operettas. The tradition returns for 2010 with a sparkling revival of the duo’s HMS Pinafore, the delightful comedy of hi-jinx on the high seas seasoned with good English humor. The show is loaded with memorable songs like “My Gallant Crew, Good Morning,” “When I Was a Lad,” “Poor Little Buttercup,” “Carefully on Tiptoe Stealing,” and of course, “He Is An Englishman.” In fact, there is nary a former piano student who didn’t learn this show’s jaunty “We Sail the Ocean Blue” as part of his/her training (My kid sister certainly did). While not containing a holiday theme per se, Artistic Director Bill Theisen’s production will certainly put you in the seasonal spirit. Bangers and mash, anyone?

A Nod to Bob, Linneman’s, November 24

Get an early start on your Thanksgiving celebration by attending this Milwaukee tradition, a benefit for the Hunger Task Force, where some of the area’s best musicians get together to perform their favorite songs by the Bard of Hibbing. A full list of performers and schedule is available at the pub’s website listed above. Don’t forget to bring several non-perishable food items and get a discount on the cover. And get there early, the place fills up fast. And the show does run pretty late, but so what? You don’t have to go anywhere the next morning, do you?

Whitefish Bay Christmas Parade, East Silver Spring Drive, November 26, 5 pm

Ever wanted to attend a nighttime Christmas parade like the one in A Christmas Story? Well, I’ve got just the thing for you. On the day after Thanksgiving at 5pm (after dark, of course), bundle up, fill the thermos with hot chocolate, and head to Whitefish Bay as their annual Christmas Parade rolls down Silver Spring Drive. Floats, bands, the whole shebang…and of course, Mr. Claus will be on hand. And instead of heading to Higbees’ store after the parade like in the movie, you can head to Winkie’s variety store on the corner of Silver Spring and Marlbourough and check out their awesome basement toy department, just like Ralphie and his buddies.

Wisconsin Lutheran College Christmas Choral Concert, December 2-5, Schwan Concert Hall, 8815 W. Wisconsin Ave .

Yes, I’ve been touting this event every year, and for the nominal ticket price, it’s truly a holiday performance everyone can afford. And apparently it’s no longer one of Milwaukee’s best-kept holiday secrets, as an additional evening has been added to the schedule for 2010. The college’s three choral groups perform gorgeous arrangements of some of the season’s greatest traditional carols, as well as Christmas music from around the world. So don’t look for Santa, Frosty, or reindeer running over Grandma here, just some of the most wonderful music ever composed. And limber up those vocal cords, as there are several opportunities for the audience to sing along as well.

Scrooge in Rouge, In Tandem Theatre, December 3-31

From the feisty group who brought you the much-beloved Cudahy Carolers’ Christmas comes this new classic which made its debut last year and makes a welcome return for 2010. An English music hall troupe comes down with food poisoning the night before the premiere of their musical version of the Dickens classic, leaving three healthy actors to carry on. And the show goes on, with the trio performing all 22 roles! It’s a version of A Christmas Carol like you’ve never seen before, and likely will never see again (not unless the play returns for 2011)!

Festive Soiree with Robin Pluer, Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, December 9-11

It may not be the boulevards of Paris in July, but attend this perennially popular show with Ms. Pluer and friends at WCM, close your eyes for a moment, and you will indeed be transported to the streets of gay Paree (or at least Cathedral Square in Milwaukee where Robin performs annually during Bastille Days). While the majority of the show features many of Robin’s favorite chansons—including Cole Porter’s “I Love Paris”…en francais!—she also offers a nod to the season with an absolutely heartbreaking rendition of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

Handel’s The Messiah with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and Chorus

December 16 and 19, Basilica of St. Josaphat. December 17 and 18, Cathedral of St. John

After several years’ absence, another Milwaukee holiday tradition returns with the MSO’s performances of Handel’s beloved oratorio, featuring the magnificent “For Unto Us a Child is Born,” “And the Glory of the Lord,” “I Know My Redeemer Liveth,” and of course, “Hallelujah.” It was here in America that Christmastime performances of Messiah began, and became a worldwide tradition, one that the MSO and its glorious Chorus bring back to Milwaukee for 2010.

Gershwin and Friends, Skylight Opera, December 19-January 9, Studio Theatre

It’s New Year’s Eve at George Gershwin’s New York apartment, and the hired help are on hand to work the New Year’s party, where the strains of many Gershwin standards fill the air. After the party winds down, the staff heads uptown to Harlem to continue the revelry, accompanied by songs from Gershwin “friends” Fats Waller, Duke Ellington and Harold Arlen. A great showcase of some of the greatest songs from the 20’s through the 40’s, and a special way to ring in 2011.

New Year’s Party with Sha-Na-Na, Marvin Hamlisch and the Milwaukee Symphony Pops, December 31-January 2, Marcus Center

Speaking of novel ways to ring in the New Year, how about a live “Record Hop” with the kings of oldies revivals, teamed up with Marvelous Marvin and the MSO?

This band, assembled for a talent show while the members were students at Columbia University, got booked to play the legendary 1969 Woodstock Rock Festival, wound up in the subsequent classic film about the festival, and the rest is history. Grease, Happy Days, and countless other shows inspired by 50’s rock and roll probably wouldn’t have existed if Sha-Na-Na didn’t do it first. As far as they’re concerned, some 40 years on, Rock and Roll IS here to stay!

Now I’m just wondering if Bowzer is still part of the group all these years later. Guess there’s only one way to find out…check ‘em out with the MSO this New Year’s!!

World Rock Sessions, November 6 & 13, Highbury Pub

It seems appropriate that the pub where soccer fans of all ethnicities congregate to watch matches, namely Bay View’s own Highbury Pub, should host this nifty series of showcase gigs. WMSE and Alverno College are helping to present these shows, which ably demonstrate that Rock & Roll isn’t just an Anglo-American thing, not by a long shot. If you enjoyed the recent Global Union festival in Humboldt Park, make sure to check out these shows! Each session gets underway at 9 pm.

Richard Thompson Band, November 4, Pabst Theater

Please note the word “band” following the esteemed English singer/songwriter and guitar legend’s name. Although RT has appeared numerous times in Milwaukee over the years, it’s been quite a while since he’s taken the stage with a full backing band for an all-electric show. So this upcoming Pabst show is truly cause for celebration. Add to that he’ll be armed with songs from his great new Dream Attic album, and you have what’s certain to be one of the year’s best shows.

Mark GE Video Showcase, November 18, Oriental Theatre, 7 pm

Now this should be a pre-Thanksgiving treat. Local filmmaker and composer Mark GE will be presenting previously unseen music videos made for his 80’s TV show Joy Farm. Among the many acts featured in these professionally shot concert videos are Red Hot Chili Peppers, Violent Femmes, BoDeans, Husker Du, and They Might Be Giants. In addition, Victor De Lorenzo of the Femmes will be on hand for the festivities. It’s a special opportunity to see the key bands that represented the true alternative vanguard of the early to mid 80’s. Journey back to a time when MTV really meant Music Television. For ticket info call 414-276-8711.

La Guitarra, November 11, Wisconsin Conservatory of Music

Speaking of guitar, in case you didn’t get enough fancy fretwork at last month’s guitar faculty recital, here’s another great guitar showcase. This trio features fingerstyle guitarist (and guitar faculty chairman) Matt Schroeder, classical guitarist Brad De Roche, and jazz guitarist Matt Warnock. Each guitarist performs an individual set, winding up with the threesome playing together as Trio La Guitarra. There should be musical fireworks aplenty!

Various Artists, Dear New Orleans

Here’s a musical Christmas gift suggestion for someone who has everything, because you won’t find this in a record store. This 2-CD tribute to the Crescent City comes five years after Katrina, and the material reflects the continuing struggles in that city as well as its resilience. Plenty of stars provided special tracks for this collection, but special mention must be made of the tracks that fill the second half of disc 2. The almighty funk brass band Bonerama are joined by a cast of guest stars on these live tracks, capped by the trifecta of Nicole Atkins on the band’s absolute killer version of “When the Levee Breaks,” REM’s Mike Mills on the CSNY classic “Ohio,” and MC5’s Wayne Kramer on the band’s anthem “Kick out the Jams” which absolutely smokes (and also includes a flute solo!). Proceeds from the album’s sale benefit musical charities in New Orleans, and the album can be downloaded from iTunes or Amazon.

Bee Gees, Mythology

Well, here’s another boxed set scheduled to arrive November 16. I felt it deserved to be mentioned separately from the collections in my main article because it commemorates a very special milestone. Pop music icons the Bee Gees first started harmonizing 50 years ago, and thus this new 4-CD set. However, this isn’t just a typical hit parade collection (last year’s Ultimate Bee Gees fills that niche very well). Each disc is devoted to songs personally selected by Barry and Robin Gibb, as well as Maurice Gibb’s widow and kid brother Andy Gibb’s daughter. There are plenty of the classic hits all right, but just as many album tracks that may well surprise you. However, conspicuous by its absence is “Every Christian Lion Hearted Man Will Tell You.” Guess you can’t have everything, right?

Elton John and Leon Russell, The Union

Elvis Costello, National Ransom

Producer supreme T-Bone Burnett (Grammy winner for the soundtrack of O Brother, Where Art Thou? And the amazing Robert Plant/Allison Krauss album Raising Sand) caps a busy year with these two outstanding releases. The Union may well do for Sir Elton and the legendary “Master of Space and Time” what Raising Sand did for Plant and Krauss. However, this pairing of keyboard-tickling shouters makes more sense on the surface. As it turns out, EJ is a longtime admirer of Russell, going all the way back to Elton’s first days in America, when both were lighting it up playing shows on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip. Suffice it to say this is Elton’s best effort in years, and Leon’s vocals and piano totally complements the Rocket Man. Plenty of stellar guest stars, including Neil Young and Brian Wilson, are on hand as well. Keep in mind the Deluxe Edition of the album features two additional songs, plus a DVD on the making of the album from acclaimed filmmaker Cameron Crowe.

National Ransom reunites Costello with Burnett, a relationship begun in the 80’s on Costello’s King of America album. The prolific Costello doesn’t disappoint, delivering a whopping 16 songs with nary a misfire in the bunch. The sharp Costello wit is much in evidence, and Burnett surrounds him with great musicians, including members of Costello bands the Imposters and Sugarcanes, plus guests Vince Gill, Buddy Miller and Leon Russell (boy, he’s sure making up for lost time!).

Eric Clapton, Clapton

Charlie Musselwhite, The Well

Two veteran bluesmen return with outstanding new albums. Clapton is Slowhand’s first studio album in five years. For those looking for guitar fireworks, go back and dig out those Cream and Derek and the Dominos albums, because you won’t find them here. This is a man comfortable in his own skin, and this album mostly contains his takes on standards, some that date back to his childhood (ie, Irving Berlin’s “How Deep is the Ocean”). Plus, he’s surrounded by a stellar lineup of musicians, including some of New Orleans’ very best (including jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and legendary songwriter/arranger Allen Toussaint). Nice production work from Clapton band member Doyle Bramhall II on an album that may eventually be ranked with EC’s very best.

The Well is truly a watershed release for the great blues harp maestro Charlie Musselwhite. It’s his first album in which he wrote all the songs, and it’s deeply autobiographical, dealing with topics like overcoming alcoholism and the tragic murder of his mother in her Memphis apartment. Guest vocalist Mavis Staples is on hand to provide some extra punch to the proceedings. It’s not too far-fetched to place this album along other deep soul baring works like John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band, Neil Young’s Tonight’s the Night, and Marianne Faithfull’s Broken English. To say it’s one of 2010’s very best releases is a huge understatement.

David Bowie, Station to Station (Deluxe Reissue)

For the past several years, EMI has been reissuing the classic 70’s David Bowie albums with additional bells and whistles. But for this reissue of this very pivotal album in the Bowie canon, the label has pulled out all the stops. Transitioning from the funky hipster of Young Americans to the classic Bowie/Brian Eno Berlin trilogy that began with 1977’s Low came this album that was definitely fueled by drugs combined with the L.A. scene, from which emerged the persona of the Thin White Duke. And it also provided some truly great music, including Bowie classics like “Golden Years,” “TVC 15,” the amazing cover of “Wild is the Wind,” and the amazing title track. Besides a newly remastered CD of the original album, the new edition contains 2 CD’s of live tracks recorded during Bowie’s 1976 tour, featuring songs from this album as well as earlier Bowie classics. For the true Bowie geek, there’s also a Collector’s Edition that contains the CD’s, vinyl LP’s of all the music and oodles of Bowie memorabilia from the period. I will be eager to see what EMI has in store for the reissues of the Bowie/Eno trilogy.

Neil Diamond, Dreams
Josh Groban, Illuminations

Now what could these two possibly have in common? Well, they’ve both worked with master producer Rick Rubin. Groban’s Illuminations, his first new album since the bajillion-selling Noel, also marks his first work with a producer other than music guru David Foster. The resulting album sounds quite different from anything else associated with this pair. And considering Rubin’s prior work with the likes of Diamond, Johnny Cash, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Metallica, that’s saying something. While he could have made another album like his previous work and sold tons of copies, Groban deserves credit for taking chances musically with Illuminations.

After making several highly-acclaimed albums of original songs with Rubin, Diamond takes a break from Rubin and emerges with a covers album which features his takes on some of his favorite songs of the rock era. Ironically enough, Rubin is currently working with Crosby, Stills and Nash on their own covers album! Among the songs Diamond has chosen are “Blackbird,” “Yesterday,” “Ain’t No Sunshine,” “Let It Be Me,” “A Song for You” (there’s Leon Russell again), and “Alone Again (Naturally).” If nothing else, it should be fun to hear Diamond’s takes on these familiar tunes.

Jeff Beck, Live and Exclusive from the Grammy Museum

If you saw the guitar great play Summerfest this year, or if you’re just a fan of jaw-dropping guitar, you’ll want to check out this album, recorded live earlier this year to coincide with the release of the latest Beck studio album Emotion and Commotion. The song list features a palette of styles that would be the envy of most guitarists. The set list includes his soaring take on the opera aria “Nessun Dorma,” a tribute to guitar icon Les Paul with “How High the Moon,” some get-down jams on “Hammerhead” and “Brush with the Blues,” a great instrumental take on Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready” and yet another Beck take of the Beatles’ “A Day in the Life.” But with the masterful way Beck handles this classic, I certainly don’t mind in the least.

Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 DVD

Now regarded as “the original music videos,” Walt Disney’s 1940 classic Fantasia, along with its 1999 sequel Fantasia 2000, will be available for the first time on Blu-Ray on November 30. Besides the fact that both movies will be available in a single package, the Blu-Ray edition contains a bonus feature for which animation fans have been waiting for decades. Destino, the never-completed collaboration between Disney and artist Salvador Dali, finally sees the light of day on this DVD. When these movies were scheduled for release on Blu-Ray, the staff at Disney Animation (which is now headed up by John Lasseter, the founder of Pixar Studios) decided to exhume the existing footage of Destino and then complete it. A daunting task, to be sure, but it’s certain to get the same response from animation buffs that the restored classic Metropolis received earlier this year. Heck, I just want to see the amazing “Night on Bald Mountain/Ave Maria” sequence from the original Fantasia in glorious Blu-Ray!

Michael Jackson, Vision DVD

While the fate of the hours of unreleased Michael Jackson session tapes is up in the air, this DVD release will more than compensate. Arriving November 22, this is the ultimate Jackson video retrospective. The set’s 3 discs contain every Michael Jackson video (or “short film”) ever made, including a whopping 10 previously unseen videos! And all the existing videos are uncut (including the car window smashing finale to the “Black or White” video). The set is a vivid reminder that Jackson’s work practically defined the art of music videos…and they still look and sound great!

Ray Davies, See My Friends

Now here’s a new release that totally snuck up on me. Rock legend Ray Davies, who with his band the Kinks recorded some of rock music’s great milestones, has teamed up with some “friends” to record a collection of some of these tunes. When the album leads off with “Better Days,” on which Davies is joined by Bruce Springsteen, you know you’re in for quite a party! Also joining in the fun are Metallica, Jon Bon Jovi, Mumford & Sons, Lucinda Williams, Jackson Browne, Black Francis, Spoon (on the title track), Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody and Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan. Sadly, this album also features the final recorded performance of the late, great Alex Chilton. But all in all, it’s a grand celebration of one of rock music’s greatest songwriters. Keep in mind the album will be available on import only until April 2011.

The ferret whisperer

October 31, 2010

By Katherine Keller

n a freezing cold day in January 2010, Bay View resident Robin Barnes was walking his pet ferret on S. Howell Avenue past a stand of shrubs that borders the former Maritime Bank parking lot. When his ferret nudged a fuzzy object under the shrubs, Barnes told his little buddy to disregard what he thought was a nasty, dirty little discarded plush toy.

But then the object began to shudder.

Robin Barnes

Robin Barnes, who is holding Zha Zha, is known to his friends as Ferret Man. ~photo Katherine Keller

Barnes took a closer look and discovered a baby female ferret, only four inches long. He scooped her up and rescued her. The vet who examined the tiny orphan said she was three or four months old.

Barnes named his foundling Zha Zha, and she recuperated under his care. She was in sublime health Oct. 22 when she was spotted crossing Howell Avenue at Lincoln—without a leash. She gamboled across the intersection, past Guanajuato and A.K. Food Mart, and stopped only a few moments to pose for her Compass portrait.

Neighbors beamed at Zha Zha and paused to let her pass. Strangers stopped with many questions. Barnes conversed with everyone who asked about her and encouraged tentative, curious children to stroke her.


Zha Zha dropped her seedpod near the door while she waited for her owner, Robin Barnes, to let her into the entryway of their apartment building. ~photo Katherine Keller

As she continued to make her way home, Zha Zha stopped under a tree to snatch a seedpod before scrambling deftly up the steps of her apartment building where she nosed one of the big glass doors. She looked back at Barnes and seemed impatient to be let in. Barnes confirmed that she was eager to get through those doors since she knew there were treats waiting for her when she got home.

Her caretaker is ever vigilant about protecting Zha Zha from hawks, as she’d make a succulent entrée.

Not long ago a large hawk landed on the cyclone fence near Barnes’ apartment building, just a few feet above Zha Zha. He ran at the hawk shouting and vigorously flapping his arms, which discouraged the hawk from diving for the ferret and frightened it off.

Barnes said he frequently finds and rescues abandoned ferrets in his Bay View neighborhood, and because of his kindness and protection of these creatures, is called Ferret Man by friends and neighbors.

Kohl’s started in Bay View

October 31, 2010

By Anna Passante

Mystery Building Nov 2010

~photo Michael Timm

The vacant lot at the northwest corner of Lincoln Avenue and Woodward Street (630 E. Lincoln Ave.) was once the site of the Kohl grocery store operated by Max Kohl, the father of Wisconsin’s U.S. Senator Herb Kohl.

Max Kohl, born in 1901, had immigrated to Milwaukee from Poland in the mid-1920s, and in 1927 opened his grocery at Lincoln and Woodward. Kohl operated the grocery until 1935. The building was razed in the mid-1980s.

Source: Greg Bird’s April 2001 Bay View Historian article

What advice would you give Wisconsin’s next governor?

October 31, 2010

Interviews & Photos by Cara Slingerland

Adam Shea
—Adam Shea, S. Dayfield Avenue

“My politics are a little different. The advice I’d give to the new governor…don’t listen to Fox News? I guess I don’t have much of a comment, I definitely follow politics, but it’s so messy right now that it’s really easier for me not to pay attention to it, keeps the blood pressure down. It gets frustrating to get wrapped up in it too much.”

Kesan Holt lightened

—Kesan Holt, E. Oklahoma Avenue

“Oh wow. First and foremost, construction planning. [Laughs] I’m finding that that’s pretty much been the main issue for myself and a lot of people I work with. And just in general, you have to take a detour to Point A to Point B especially when the bridge over there [gestures toward Kinnickinnic Avenue bridge] … it was a huge inconvenience for everyone getting out of Bay View heading north.

Jason Henn

—Jason Henn, S. Burrell Street

“What advice? We have to do something about companies outsourcing our jobs, for one. Right now, I’m laid off. I mean it’s the biggest thing in my eyes. I think something has to be passed as far as corporate greed. There’s a lot of corporate greed that goes around in bigger corporations, and I think it’s overlooked. It’s always the middle class employees who always have to give something up as far as pay cuts, or pay more for health and welfare, and nothing is ever looked at as far as the white collar side goes. So I think there’s some legislation, pass some sort of a law mandating that a little better than they do.”

Heather Henn

—Heather Henn, S. Burrell Street

“[Laughs] God, where do you start? I guess for one, to start lowering taxes so that Wisconsin isn’t up in the top 10. Start bringing jobs back here. Stop wasting our money on a bunch of crap that no one cares about. Is it only one thing? And then my other thing was to start doing something about the health care issue.”

John Dillon Anthony

(from left to right) —John Brander, S. Wentworth Avenue; Dillon Johnson, S. Adams Avenue; Anthony Jeffrey, W. Forest Home Avenue

Dillon: “Oh man, I don’t watch TV.”

John: “Create new tax incentives for small business to help small businesses stay afloat during the double-dipping recession. That would work for me.”

Anthony: “He pretty much took the words out of my mouth. Small businesses help the community thrive, versus big corporations, at least in my eyes.”

John: “And free money—stimulus!!”

Anthony: “It’d also be nice to see this health care bill go through and all that get worked out.”

John: “Oh yeah, medical marijuana, we need that, we’re lagging.”

Anthony: “Yeah, also that’s been sitting for a while now. And I think it should be decriminalized at least.”

John: “Yeah, Michigan’s already doing that.”

Jesus Christ: “Grow your own food.”

October 31, 2010

Dear Editor,

It is my goal to inspire food growth from the window sill to the sustainable food system. Grow your own food from your own land with sustainable and/or organic means, thus producing food that is nourishing, flavorful, aromatic, and spiritually heightening.

People have got to know how to grow their own food because one day soon it will be a necessity. The Lord Jesus Christ has said, “Breaking to pieces, hunger.” He is also telling us what to do to prepare for that time of atrocity. The Lord Jesus Christ has also said, “Buy land, buy more land, buy new land.”

Build community sustainable food systems like that of Growing Power founded by Will Allen. Also, build urban aqua farms like Sweet Water where they raise fish and grow vegetables indoors.

As you grow your own food, preserve food. The Lord Jesus Christ has said preserve food and do not waste. There are various ways to preserve food: canning, dehydration, freeze drying, to name a few. Preserve sunflower and pumpkin seeds.

Many years ago the Lord Jesus Christ blessed me to begin telling people to plant fruit trees. I’ve seen several homes with apple and pear trees in the front and back yards. A few days ago I was standing on Glenview and Wisconsin waiting for the #67 bus. The Lord Jesus Christ was blessing me to think about how the residents can grow food on the front lawns where there are big trees that may hinder sunlight. You don’t have to cut down the trees, but prune the trees so that enough sunlight can get through to grow the food you want to grow.

The problem of water access for community gardens is solvable. Permaculture measures, stormwater management, fundraising to build your own water spout (meter with flow back protection) are all means of preserving and having water for a community garden.

Praying for rain is another solution given by the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ has said, “Speak to the elements!”

Learn about and harvest your own seeds. Avoid Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) seeds. They are seeds of deception.

As farmers, as gardeners, we must plant and harvest quality sustainable/organic seeds and have continual education: self education with books and magazines, establishing seminars, taking courses, accessing the resources from the UW-Extension services, and resources from the internet.


Karon Elizabeth Stratton

Servant of the Lord Jesus Christ

Milwaukee, Wis.

This letter has been edited and abridged.

Gillen lease proposed for Grand Trunk Yards

October 31, 2010

By Michael Timm

Edward E. Gillen Company, the Milwaukee-based marine contractor, would occupy 15 acres on two parcels of the approximately 30-acre former Grand Trunk Yards railway site if the Milwaukee Board of Harbor Commissioners approves a proposed lease agreement that was tabled at an Oct. 12 committee meeting.

The Grand Trunk Yards include at least 4.9 acres of wetlands, though the area identified as wetland on a Port of Milwaukee map would not be leased to Gillen.

Gillen would occupy 1.4 acres just off the 1900 block of S. Marina Drive for a 10,000-square-foot office complex to contain its consolidated headquarters.

Gillen’s yard complex would occupy 13.6 noncontiguous acres to the north and west, including the southwestern portion of the peninsula that juts into the Kinnickinnic River turning basin—the vacant land that can be observed when looking northeast from the Barnacle Bud’s patio.

GTY map 1

Left are the “existing conditions” of the Grand Trunk Yards site and right are the recommendations of attorney Fintan Dooley and Bay View resident Greg Bird. Their map was generally compatible with the uses anticipated with the proposed lease to Gillen, with some exceptions, the main being that a “foliated fringe” along the culvert north of S. Marina Drive was not identified as a natural area on the proposed lease.

GTY map 2

Right, Dooley and Bird recommend widening and reconnecting the culvert, reducing trees and removing shrubs to encourage a “wet prairie,” removing fill and invasive grasses, and creating a visitor parking lot with overlook. Their maps were generated by Applied Ecological Services, Inc.

Here Gillen would have dockside reception and a loading facility for rip-rap and other construction aggregate, according to the proposed lease. (The grain towers and land northeast of the existing railroad line that divides the peninsula are not part of the lease.)

The lease would also be contingent on the city cooperating with Gillen’s efforts to secure Harbor Grant funds or other public financing for the property improvements—possibly state, federal, or tax-incremental financing.

The proposed lease would run from June 1, 2010 through May 31, 2035, with the tenant having the option to extend two 15-year periods after that. The city would be required to provide three-year’s notice if it opted to replace Gillen as a tenant.

The proposed lease is for $13,588 per acre per year (just over $203,000 annually, assuming 15 acres), plus a throughput charge of $.40 per metric ton with the tenant agreeing to a minimum throughput of 7,500 metric tons per year (at least $3,000 annually), and wharfage at a rate of $1,800 a month.

No subleasing without city permission or hazardous materials storage would be permitted.

According to the proposed lease, “Tenant agrees that it shall not develop, build upon, or disturb those areas of the [p]roperty currently identified as state or federally protected wetlands.”

Relocation of Gillen from its current 218 W. Becher St. headquarters on the Kinnickinnic River to the Grand Trunk Yards site would happen in phases and should be completed by Dec. 31, 2012, according to the draft lease.

The Board of Harbor Commissioners’ Finance and Personnel Committee met Oct. 12 to consider the lease, among other items, but tabled the lease due to concerns over the financing deal not yet being worked out.

Attorney Fintan Dooley and Bay View resident Greg Bird disseminated a draft land-use plan for the Grand Trunk Yards site that would restore wetland hydrology and ecosystems.

Their map was generally compatible with the uses anticipated with the proposed lease to Gillen, with some exceptions, the main being that a “foliated fringe” along the waterway near S. Marina Drive was not identified as a natural area on the proposed lease.

Stewart Dempsey at garden club

October 31, 2010

The South Shore Garden Club meeting Monday, Nov. 1 at Grace Presbyterian Church, 2931 South Kinnickinnic Ave., features the program “Gardening with Vines” by Stewart Dempsey of Walnut Hill.

Social time is 6pm, the program is 6:30pm, and the business meeting is 7:45pm. New members and guests are welcome. More info: Charlotte Crysdale, (414) 481-5052.

County budget listening session Nov. 3

October 31, 2010

Milwaukee County Supervisors Marina Dimitrijevic and Chris Larson will host a listening session Nov. 3 from 7 to 8pm at the South Shore Park Pavilion, 2900 S. Shore Dr., to discuss the 2011 Milwaukee County budget.

In a press release Dimitrijevic called it “likely the worst budget in Milwaukee County’s history.”

“The county executive has proposed mass transit cuts, eliminating the proposed indoor aquatic center at Pulaski Park, and a controversial wage and benefit dream plan that creates a $25 million budget hole. This irresponsible way of budgeting endangers all county programs and services by not having a truthful budget discussion,” Dimitrijevic said in her release.

Some library hours may increase in 2011, but radical consolidations loom on horizon

October 31, 2010

By Michael Timm

Just when you remembered when your local library was open, hours are likely to change again.

The proposed 2011 city of Milwaukee budget includes an increase in hours for four branches, including Bay View Library, which would go from 35 to 45 hours per week and reopen on Fridays. Tippecanoe Library’s hours would remain the same, 35 hours per week and closed on Saturdays.

Citizens felt the impact of last year’s budgetary tradeoff, which kept all branches open in 2010 but axed hours. Significant reduction in public access was reflected in the systemwide stats reported by library: an 11.6-percent reduction in circulation and 16.4-percent reduction in patrons counted in 2010.

Through September, Bay View Library suffered a 16-percent circulation reduction, a 32-percent reduction in patrons counted; Tippecanoe an 11-percent circulation reduction, 15-percent in patrons counted.

Punished for Belt-Tightening

For its sacrifice, Milwaukee Public Library was actually punished by the state for incurring cuts that were too deep.

In its “maintenance of effort” requirement, the state requires that municipal library appropriations “not be less than the average of such funding for the previous three years.” According to the Legislative Reference Bureau, “The intent of the provision is to ensure that a municipality does not take undue advantage of state-funded library system services and neighboring libraries (and property taxpayers) while failing to support its own library.”

LRB summarized the Milwaukee Public Library’s penalty: “Due to the $1.2 million budget reduction, the library did not meet the MOE requirement for 2010. MPL requested a waiver to the MOE requirement, but there is no appeals process provided in the statute. The library was informed that the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) policy, not statute, was to limit MPL’s access to Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant funds until the library is in compliance. LSTA grant funds are used by MPL to fund special programs and projects. MPL applied for LSTA funds in 2009 and received the funds in 2010. As a result of not meeting MOE, the library is not eligible to apply in 2010 for 2011 LSTA funds. The library may apply in 2011 for funding to be received in 2012.”

The total proposed library budget for 2011 is $22,265,743, up 10.6 percent from the $20,133,502 budget funded in 2010. This puts MPL in compliance with the state for 2011, but questions remain about if this requirement will be met over the next decade.

Consolidation & Transformation

In February 2010, the Library Board of Trustees approved a plan to begin in 2011 that would, in addition to stabilizing hours and the materials budget, launch an $18.1 million 10-year facilities plan “including a combination of neighborhood libraries (2 to 4), area libraries (2 or 3), mixed-use libraries (3), and express libraries (2 to 3),” according to the LRB.

What neighborhood libraries will survive, where, or in what form is not yet known.

Tentative 2011 Service Hours

Tippecanoe Library

Monday-Wednesday, 1-8pm

Thursday-Friday, 10am-5pm

Closed Saturday

Bay View Library

Monday, 10am-8pm

Tuesday-Thursday, 1-8pm

Friday-Saturday, 10am-5pm

Hide House Lofts are near completion

October 31, 2010

Keyhole view Hide House Lofts Oct 2010 Gibson Bathrick

Looking south: A keyhole view of Hide House Lofts, 2615 S. Greeley St., in October 2010. ~photo Gibson Bathrick

The Hide House Lofts low-income apartment complex, a project of General Capital Group developers of Fox Point, was just a few days short of completion in late October.

Hide House North End Oct 2009 K Keller

Looking north: The Hide House Lofts replace the 1940s-era buildings that comprised the north end of the Hide House complex. ~photo Katherine Keller

Look for a longer story next month.

Blue freeway blues

October 31, 2010

By Jill Rothenbueler Maher

Parenting has redefined many things in my life and distracted driving is certainly among them. Pre-kid, I couldn’t imagine the stress of piloting while my precious cargo yells at me from the back seat, especially in that nerve-frazzling pitch that goes beyond playground banter directly to a push-Mommy’s-buttons level.

Distracted driving, especially the phone-enabled ilk, will soon get lots of attention because texting while driving becomes illegal in Wisconsin Dec. 1. A ticket will set a driver back a modest $20 to a considerable $400.

Texting is a terrible distraction, but let’s be realistic: kiddie passengers are a big distraction, too.

My buttons were pulsating when, my usual route blocked by construction, I was driving under I-94 attempting to find my way onto it. While I struggled, the soundtrack from the back seat was incessant about the blue freeway, a family nickname for the Marquette Interchange. “Blue freeway, Mommy! Where is the blue freeway? Are we going now on the blue freeway?” “Distraction” isn’t strong enough to capture my mental state while hunting for that freeway onramp. In hindsight, I realize I should have pulled over, which sounds just like the advice for people who feel they need to deal with a phone call or text from behind the wheel.

Sometimes it doesn’t take the back-and-forth of talking to reduce the amount of brain power devoted to driving—just one-way communication. She hasn’t recently, but our daughter used to cry most of the 25-minute drive home to Bay View along I-43 from my parents’ house in New Berlin. We couldn’t do anything to soothe her.

Physical distractions can also take eyes off the road. Parents might twist toward the back seat to pick up a dropped toy, hand back food, or emphasize their instructions (“I really mean it!”) as they mitigate a sibling argument. They might search for and then insert a particular CD with kids’ music, preventing them from noticing quick changes in traffic. Turning away from the road for a child can cause the same accident that looking down at a text message could.

I’m surprised this topic doesn’t get more attention. Many parents and caretakers are in the car every day with children for day care, school, or other activities. The potential danger isn’t idle worry: crashes are the leading cause of death in children ages 2 to 14.

I receive lots of warnings about putting our daughter in a properly installed car seat, and Oprah has good warnings about typing and talking while driving; but driving with kids is a less common topic. I found some tips on the Consumer Reports website. Two boil down to being firm about the child’s behavior in the car (“Make them wait” and “Set the ground rules”).

Our daughter understands fairly well that crosswalks and parking lots are “no goofing around” zones, and I think I need to establish more of that tone in the car. Of course, the time spent in a vehicle is much longer.

Sometimes I take city streets to the western suburbs instead of the freeway because I figure the lower speed is safer. If we are nailed by a distracted driver, or hit for any reason, I think the damage is likely to be less because we’re at slower speeds.

I also think about ways to minimize our likelihood of being in an accident by limiting our time in a vehicle. Bay View’s density puts us close to routine errand destinations, and we plan to send our daughter to a school that won’t put her in a vehicle for very long, if at all.

As we head into the holiday travel season and are treated to snowy roads, let’s all drive safely.

The author is a freelance writer and mother of one. Reach her with comments or suggestions at jill@bayviewcompass.com.

The next generation of school reform

October 31, 2010

By Jay Bullock

School “reform” talk isn’t all bad. In fact, there’s one effort at reform that is bold and worth supporting, with the potential to remake “school” in a way that best meets students’ needs. It’s called the Partnership for Next Generation Learning, or PNxGL. PNxGL is a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), funded by the Stupski Foundation.

This nationwide nonprofit council believes that among the most significant factors behind the failures, real and perceived, of American public schools is that “school” as we know it is no longer the right vehicle for preparing students for adult life. Though most American students survive our system of “school” just fine, they do so despite that system being outdated and largely unconnected to what life looks like after graduation.

CCSSO Executive Director Gene Wilhoit put it this way: American schools were designed when knowledge was a scarce commodity. Today, American kids have all the knowledge in the world on the smart phones in their pockets.

So PNxGL is about starting over from the ground up with a new concept of “school.” Wisconsin competed for, and won, an opportunity to start innovation labs—networks of schools and districts finding new ways to use personnel, space, time, and other resources more effectively with today’s students. Ours is one of six PNxGL partner states so far. In September, more than 200 people representing 32 districts across southeast Wisconsin gathered in Milwaukee to kick off the project locally.

Those on board include the state teachers union and Wisconsin’s DPI, principals and teachers, and everyone in between. In an interview, Bruce Connolly, director of the Center for Education Innovation and Regional Economic Development and a key organizer of PNxGL in Wisconsin, emphasized the joint nature of this reform effort and the evolving partnerships.

“Wisconsin is in a good situation now,” Scott Jones, special assistant to the state superintendent, told me. “Districts are already excited and ready to go” with pilot projects, he said.

What those pilot projects ultimately will look like is in the process of being determined, but here’s what I’m hoping to see:

New student roles: Not every student has to be learning the same thing on the same day at the same rate as his or her peers. When the rest of a child’s world, from DVRs and video games to Facebook and many of the 21st-century economy’s jobs, is “on demand,” school should be, too. Trust—but guide!—students to create the best plan and pace to demonstrate mastery.

New teacher roles: Like students, teachers come equipped with different strengths. Expecting us all to do the same thing on the same day wastes potential. Teachers who are masters of content can deliver content; teachers who find ways to reach the toughest students can be coaches and advisors; teachers who know how to assess and create curriculum to meet student needs can be assessing students and assisting their colleagues in teaching them.

The community as a classroom: What better way to know that students are career-ready than to immerse students in careers? Students can see that yes, they will use this stuff in real life—if they see it used in real life. Credit toward graduation should be available for students who can demonstrate mastery in real-world work situations. “School” must be more than a building.

A redefinition of “graduation” itself: Students going to college need to be competent in subjects their colleges expect them to know, and employers expect minimum proficiencies, too. But who says that should always take 12 years, 180 days a year, six hours a day? For all the talk of standards, we still graduate students almost exclusively based on time spent, not mastery shown, and we stigmatize students (and punish their schools) who, for whatever reason, deviate from that rigid plan.

The pilot projects in Wisconsin and the other states, whatever their scope and shape, will be studied by the national council, and, if successful, become models for a complete rethinking of “school.” This may worry the Waiting for Superman crowd that thinks reform is beating down teachers and wearing out students with drills and tests. But I far prefer this idea of bringing everyone to the table and putting the distinct needs of today’s students first.

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

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