Friday, August 28, 2009

Gloomy day

Ah, there's nothing like a chilly, gloomy day in August, eh?
I took these awhile ago and never put them up. They seemed kind of depressing, but I'll say "meditative" today.
Just a little something to think about- the juxtaposition of nature and our urban environment.
Plus, bridges just look awesome.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Dam debris photos

On Sunday, Brain and I went canoeing on the Milwaukee River, scraping bottom many times. I got a few photos (some of them are even beautiful, but not these). When I saw this article by Chris Liebenthal on the subject (worth reading), I figured I should probably post them. I don't know if you remember, but earlier this month, there was an offer- by volunteers- (article here) to remove the woody debris, thwarted by the need for an environmental pollutant assessment- which would cost $100,000, and was not in the budget. Huh. There is a lot of debris down by the dam. We were astounded. Look at all the plants growing in it! Did I say plants? I meant noxious weeds.

And, best of all, some enterprising individuals have even built a little cabin with a deck out to the river, using found wood (see below).

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Infrared Theremin

Brain was part of the Music Marathon on Saturday at Woodland Pattern. It was an electronica-infused event. I was not prepared to be amazed.

Machiavellian Machine is pictured performing below. I tried to get a shot of his theremin-playing hand.

I saw him outside and asked about it. He verified that it was, indeed, a theremin: an infrared one, at that. I didn't think to ask if that was a vocoder on his microphone. Dangit.

Paul Schwarzkopf of the Milwaukee Riverkeeper performed as well (see below). He was the guy with the glowing red eyes in the background, not the guy sweating under the tinfoil hat.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Bike thefts

Just a reminder to lock your bike wisely...The best way is with a cable through the wheels, and then a U-lock through the frame onto a sturdy rack like the U-shaped city ones. It's kind of a hassle, but then, so is being stranded because some mofo took your bike.

This was outside where I work. It was there a few days before getting gradually stripped of parts. The bumper sticker on the railing is just the icing, no?

For some reason, the street outside this building is kind of like the Bermuda Triangle. People lock up their bikes and then...seem to disappear. Months later, the last remaining piece of the bicycle disappears, without a trace.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Angelo's Piano Bar

It felt like we were in a movie. Or in New York City. Or in another decade. It was awesome. Angelo's Piano Bar on Van Buren, just south of Brady.
Friday night it was packed. And amazing. Vicky Provencher was the featured singer, but many other people sang too, accompanied by the amazing pianist, one of those natural musicians who could, as far as I could see, play absolutely anything, without ever looking at her hands, and sing at the same time.

Here's Angelo himself. He owns the place, he carried a bucket of ice, he bussed tables, he sang.

We were transported to a whole other place.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Lucky Liu's

Serendipity! We discovered an amazing new restaurant, Lucky Liu's. It's located at 1664 N Van Buren St, and boasts a menu both Chinese and Japanese. It was incredible! You can watch the chef prepare your food- it is art. We were totally amazed at the care that went into this creation.

Our server was just adorable, yes? She passed our table to bring this out and, having noticed that I was taking pictures, she posed for this one.

This, above, is Sunomono, a selection of Japanese appetizers, including Tako (octopus). Mmmm! My friend Polly ordered that. I had Vegatable Egg Foo Young. It was the best egg foo young I have ever had and it was HUGE. I should have gotten a picture of it, but then you all would know how piggy I really am. This is not an expensive place at all! I highly recommend it. Fun was had by all!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Hoop dreams

I saw hoop dancing for the first time this summer. That day was pretty memorable for me- it was a vibrant celebration of arts and culture and humanity. It was also the first day that I felt happy after being in pain for a month- I had pulled a muscle in my back sneezing, of all things.

Since then I had a boatload of physical therapy with an amazing PT (believe me, after injuring myself so many times, I have had a lot of physical therapy, and I never encountered an amazing one that actually seemed to care that I do things to enable myself NOT to get injured again). That day, the day that I was almost pain-free and happy, I was waiting in line for snacks and one of the other-kinds-of-dancing performers was behind me, talking to the lady in front of me, saying that she had scoliosis and dancing really helped her re-integrate her whole body. It was one of those a-ha moments. We had a really interesting conversation.

Then I saw hoop dancers at Arab World Fest and realized I really wanted to do those amazing things.

Google led me to a hoop dancing class this past Saturday at the Lakefront, led by the vivacious and amazingly spritelike Anna, below center.

Not only did I not get injured BUT it was a blast. I DID IT!!! Yay me.

I didn't look as amazing as Andy, above, or this girl below, but...
...if I ever make it to Burning Man, I'll have something to share.

Mayor Barrett: hero.

A while ago I made a conscious decision, after getting sick of negativity, politics, and the like, that I was going to write only about awesome stuff that happens in this city that I love.

Well, at first I thought it was a joke, when I saw some reposted blurb yesterday, that our Mayor Barrett was attacked with a pipe. But it was true. And it is an amazing story. And he is an absolute HERO. It's always the unassuming ones, no?

From the article:

After leaving the State Fair with his family, the Mayor heard a woman cry for help, as she was being attacked by a man. "The mayor stopped and said something (to the man) like, 'Let's all cool down here, I'm going to call 911,'" the mayor's spokesman Patrick Curley said. "He said it one or two times according to him. When he took out his phone, that's when the suspect attacked him."
The suspect hit Barrett in the head and torso with a metal pipe. Barrett apparently fought back, fracturing his hand when he punched the suspect.
"I think he hit the guy," Curley said. "I don't know where, but it was hard enough, whatever he hit, to fracture his hand..."

"...The mayor's only regret about the incident is that his family was there to witness what happened, Curley said.
"He said it was hard because his kids and niece were there at the time of the incident," Curley said. "He knew he had to (intervene). It was the right thing to do."

Blogger Jason Haas had a great idea: send the Mayor a get-well card. I think I need to do that.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Milwaukee Irish Fest

It never ceases to amaze me how the festival grounds can be completely transformed in four days to accommodate a different ethnicity and its foods and culture. Last weekend's Arab World Festival gave way to this weekend's Irish Fest. Hookahs disappeared and were replaced by beer as the substance of choice.
So much green!

So many bagpipes! They are much more fun in the open air, as a big parade.

Irish dancing routine to "Eye of the Tiger." Who would have thought?

This is probably the single least-appetizing food I have ever encountered, but it's cultural. (Sponge pudding?)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wisconsin Cactus and Succulent Club

The Wisconsin Cactus and Succulent Club (not to be confused with The Cactus Club) is one of my favorite features of the State Fair. They are always right next door to the bonsai group: I know just where to go. Huge Jade plant: the proud owner, cultivator, bonsai-er talked to me for awhile. He had me convinced I need to attend a WCSC meeting. I did try to get his picture next to it, but it didn't happen.

Amazing! Look at the shapes! Some of these come from faraway locales: the Canary Islands, for instance, was the birthplace of the large specimen on the far left.

Rosy pink, almost magenta- and gorgeous.

This one looks like glass. Or candy.

Look at the swirling colors and the pink flowers- I could get lost in this for hours. Trippy! Next club meeting is in November. Maybe, eh?

Bat murderer

I love bats. I love their stealthy flight at dusk, their wings that look like thin wet silk,their little sonar noises.

Many times I have been amazed at them, flying overhead like magic, in the golden hours. My first encounter with them was in Waukesha, some 20 years ago; I marvelled as they flew back and forth above me. Again, up north, on a wooded ithsmus between two lakes in the woods, they were thick in the trees as the stars came out; and again, one memorable time coming home late in my kayak as bats accompanied me, a thick low cloud. Last week, walking the dog through Glen Oaks Cemetary, we ducked, unnerved, as bats were low, flying, seemingly almost in our hair.

Once, someone who had two little brown bats hanging from the curtain on his back door called me, and I went; an expectant crowd gathered outside with the door open, and suddenly they both headed toward the sunset as we marvelled.

I have never once been afraid. The hair stood up on my arms, but I was not afraid.

Then last week Brain and I came home to find a bat inside a window, trapped by the braver of my two cats. I opened the screen. The bat flew outside into the night, unharmed. When I realized that the cat was overdue on her rabies shot, I made a vet appointment that turned into a report to the State Veterinarian, a lecture about why I should have killed the bat, and somehow involves a lot of hassle, including several home visits, the first of which is scheduled for tomorrow. That's fine, except that this morning there was another (different, larger) bat in the house.

It was flying in my bedroom when I was trying to get ready, and I shreiked a couple times (it really startled me!) and then closed the doors to the bedroom; I do have to say, it was very convenient that I found it in the only room in the house that I could close off. Sure that I was doing the right thing, I got the tennis racket, waited until it hung quietly on the wall above the door, and had Brain do the deed; I was saddened that I had to facilitate bat murder, but adrenaline and instruction-following won. It died quickly. I had been told that I was supposed to kill a bat in the house. So I did, again, what I thought was the right thing to do.

I called the DNR, certain that they would want me to deliver it anon for necropsy, and instead got a lecture about why bats are beneficial and that I should seal the hole through which they were entering. Duh. I do not need the DNR to tell me that. I do not need the DNR to tell me that I killed a bat for nothing. (Brain was just the hit man, having superior hand-eye coordination and strength; also, he is taller. I masterminded it, which is worse.) I do not need the DNR, either, to tell me that the State Vet was wrong, and that the DNR is superior; both are government entities that deal with such things.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I love the Fair!

Kind of spur-of-the moment, I decided to join the rest of the sun-baked crowd today at the State Fair to get my Wisconsin on. Again. I love the fair. The weather was fantastic.

You can get anything you want on a stick at the Fair. Deep fried mac & cheese, for instance, or solar energy, or what have you. (Isn't energy the same thing as calories, anyway? Meta!)

There it is. On a stick.

These critters were just so cute, posing like this. Many, many city folk were taking their picture. They didn't seem to mind a bit. They are somewhat denuded here- their fleece was for sale, for human use in the harsh Wisconsin winter. Way to go, sheep and camelids! Thanks!

One of my favorite things at the Fair is the craft section. I loved this piece- it is just so meta: fourth-place ribbons proudly framed for display, and it earned a fourth place. I hope the entrant does not base his or her self-esteem on ribbons won. The judging is harsh. Man, I know!

And, cow poop. Hooray for the digital "macro" setting!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Arab World Fest

We went to Arab World Fest last night.
Camel rides were available- "desert ships."

Hoop dancing. I am now officially obsessed.

I surreptitiously took this shot of the couple in the background, who had dressed for the Renaissance Faire on accident.

Mohammed Al-Farra, who was like the Palestinian version of Eminem.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Milwaukee's proud Socialist history continues

I just had to take a picture of the two signs on the back of this bus.
Public schools, public transit.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Things I did not get pictures of

Things seen at the State Fair opening day yesterday, which I was so excited to get to that I forgot my camera:

::Chocolate-covered bacon on a stick. The friend who accompanied me to the Fair was shown, chocolatey-faced, on Channel 12 eating some with much gusto.

::Large people. People on scooters.

::Well-hung Clydesdales.

::Small 4-H children singing "I will Survive" en masse.

::A giant banner proclaiming McDonald's as a proud sponsor of the Ag Oasis. Figure THAT one out. Oh, the apple slices in a plastic bag. Mmmmmm.

::Piglets! (AKA future chocolate-covered bacon.)

::Cactus and succulent judging. I loooooove succulents. I am the kind of person who, though I normally have the attention span of an eight-year-old on the last day of school, can nonetheless spend hours looking at cacti and succulents, given the right circumstances...but we had to get to the expo center. (I generally go to the Fair twice every year: once with my friend, who does not read my blog, and again by myself to do all the stuff I want to do.)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

More graffiti- much more.

I have no idea why I love graffiti as much as I do, but I do.

Graffiti adorns every bridge section on this train trestle.

I love the way color is layered upon layer here.

"Stop going over our (stuff) and we will stop going over yours."

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Church picnic

Today was the church picnic at the only church that I know of that would allow smoking during worship (please do not comment to state this is sacrilegious; smoking is only allowed during outdoor worship events). Also of note, this church ministers to many people in recovery from other more dangerous substances. Also, lunch was free and there were racing sausages, a rock band, and a puppet show.

Here are some photos from the event: life's rich pageant.The racing Bratwurst stood still long enough to pose with me: thumbs up.

The hand at the end of this guy's outstretched arm does indeed contain a lit cigarette, before the worship service started.

Weiner alert.

Manning the sausages at the grill.

Well-behaved hot dogs were welcome also.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Westlawn flowers

Just west of Growing Power on Silver Spring (at about 63rd Street or so) is this bountiful flower garden. It always strikes me as so colorful and amazing. It really brightens up the government-style housing at Westlawn. It makes such a difference.