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NEWS 06 Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley 11 This Modern World 12 Repulicans Aren't Fighting for Democracy Anymore — Taking Liberties 14 Scott Walker Joins the GOP War on Student Voting — Issue of the Month 16 Elle Halo Supports Fellow Black Trans Women Dealing with Violence and Health Risks — Hero of the Month 18 TBEY Arts Center Contessa Lobley Teaches Urban Youth — MKE SPEAKS: Conversations with Milwaukeeans FOOD & DRINK 22 Buttermint Redefines the Meaning of Supper Club 26 Watermelon Salad — Flash in the Pan SPECIAL SECTION 28 Fall Arts Guide 60 Fall Drink 60 Master & Apprentice (Part Two) — Beverages 64 2023 Oktoberfest Guide 70 Just in Time for Autumn: An Overview of Milwaukee's Hard Cider Scene 74 Emotional Support Animals Enhance Mental Wellbeing — Pets CULTURE 76 The Rep Debuts 'Run Bambi Run' with Music by Gordon Gano 79 Buffalo Nichols Ventures into New But Familiar Frontiers on Latest Album 82 This Month in Milwaukee LIFESTYLE 84 The ChatBot Will See You Now — Out of my Mind HEAR ME OUT 86 Let Her Tramp Stamp Shine — Dear Ruthie 88 Milwaukee's Theater Season 2023-24 features an LGBTQ Theater's Revival and a Reprise or Two — My LGBTQ POV ART FOR ART'S SAKE
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SEPTEMBER 2023 | 5
MILWAUKEE COUNTY EXECUTIVE DAVID CROWLEY
TURNING CHALLENGES INTO OPPORTUNITIES
BY TOM JENZ
Imet Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley at Downtown’s Pilcrow Coffee Shop. He lit up the room with his big personality, a smile that shines, a voice that commands. He had leader written all over him. When we settled down to coffee, I had his full attention. I wanted to know how this young 37-year-old political leader became the executive of the state’s largest and most diverse county.
Crowley started off behind the eight ball. Growing up in Milwaukee’s inner city, he experienced an unstable childhood. Until the age of 10, he and his brothers were raised in an old house on 23rd and Burleigh. A master electrician, his father had bought the house from the city for a dollar and fixed it up. But both his parents struggled from drug addiction and mental health issues. Crowley said, “There were times when we had no lights and gas or even water in the house.”
When his parents split up, he lived with his father on 22nd and Vine. With his father struggling, young David turned to the streets for support. He said, “You might say I found love within my community.” Eviction notices became part of the family history. They had to keep moving. The house on 22nd and Vine, then another on 24th and Lloyd, then a move to his aunt’s house on 11th and Locust, and finally to 29th and Walnut. But through all this instability, David did learn responsibility. Summers, he did full time lawn maintenance.
You lived on the North Side. How did you end up going Bay View High School on the South Side, and did that high school experience help your development?
I thought I wanted to go into the Navy. The majority of my family members were either in the trades or the military. Every day for four years, I took two different busses from the North Side to get to Bay View High School on the South Side. I learned a lot about the city of Milwaukee by just observing.
What was it like for you, going to Bay View High School? The students were diverse, right?
It was a real eye opener for me. I was used to interacting with Black kids. You might say I was introduced to Hispanics and white people. Another culture shock was that both my parents eventually remarried and to white people.
6 | SHEPHERD EXPRESS NEWS
Photo by Tom Jenz.
In high school, you got involved early on with the youth organization, Urban Underground. How did they help you develop responsibility and character?
Urban Underground literally saved my life. The experience taught me how to love myself, love my community and how to get outside my comfort zone. I learned about oppression like homophobia, sexism, racism, ableism. I blossomed. I became a member of AmeriCorps. My first job out of high school was at Project Return, helping offenders leaving jail or prison, helping them to find housing and jobs, teaching youth their rights.
I understand you have always worked in public service. Describe your career path and how you became the county executive for the Milwaukee County Board. At Project Return, I got to know the policy makers. Eventually, I became a community organizer and then worked for Safe & Sound as a community partner. Throughout all my jobs, I had to interact with city, county and state government policy makers. They always talked politics, which I found interesting. In 2010, I worked for the Russ Feingold Senate campaign as a statewide African American organizer. I traveled through the state, loved the work, and I happened to be good at it. After Feingold lost the election, I worked for the Democratic Party on the campaign side of things. In 2011, I became a legislative aid for the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors. I worked with County Supervisor Nikia Dodd, and this allowed me to be involved with county policy making. When Nikia Dodd became a state senator, she brought me with her to Madison, and I got involved with state policy making. I liked that side of things. I was with Senator Dodd for four years.
When did you get involved in running for office?
In late 2015, I ran for City Council and lost to Willie Wade, but I had made good connections. A month later, I ran for a State Assembly seat and won. At the state capitol, I was able to cultivate relationships on both sides of the aisle. In 2020, I ran for the job I have now, Milwaukee County executive, and was sworn in my front yard on May 4, 2020 during the Covid epidemic.
The Milwaukee County Board has 18 representatives known as supervisors. The board has a $1.37 billion dollar budget for this year. Roughly, how is that money being spent?
Milwaukee County is the nerve system of the public safety continuum. When a person is placed into custody, they enter the county justice system. We have to fund our sheriff’s office, our two jails, and emergency services like from 911 calls. We also fund the county transit system, child support services, and our county parks and trails, which include 14,000 acres of park land. We fund senior, youth and disability services, golf courses and even the airport.
This past year, Milwaukee County’s efforts have focused on these five these issues: 1) investments in behavioral and mental health, 2) public safety, 3) affordable housing, 4) juvenile justice, and 5) transportation. Can you comment on why you are focusing on these issues?
Those five issues address the root causes of what we face today, same issues we faced for decades. If we want to tackle education, childcare issues, and crime, we have to zone in on those efforts. Our goal is to focus on the root causes, not the symptoms. County residents have been asking for more funding on these issues.
How is this agenda set? Like the U.S. President, do you lay out your agenda as county executive for the supervisors to buy into?
It is similar. We present our vision, and the board executes the framework. For instance, in 2020, we suggested racism as a public health issue. The board agreed.
You once stated that your top priority as County Executive has been to tackle affordable housing. Earlier this year, you signed a bill that allocated $2.5 million in Federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to the nonprofit ACTS Housing that provides homeownership programs and existing house acquisitions for future homeowners. Not long ago, I did an article on ACTS Housing Vice President, Dorothy York. Do you work with her to gauge how the $2.5 million is being spent?
Absolutely. There is always accountability when it comes down to how county money is spent. Our county housing division follows up on affordable housing budget plans. We tour the homes that ACTS Housing has rehabbed or purchased. Our goal is to help first time homebuyers get started. The ARPA money is also spent on helping with the homeless crisis. I think of my own upbringing, my family being evicted three times because we did not have the rent money.
What is the function of the county's new Mental Health Emergency Center and where is it located? Will this help some of the mentally ill who are often mired in the jails?
Yes. The Mental Health Emergency Center partners with healthcare providers like Froedtert Hospital, Children’s Hospital, Ascension, and Aurora. It’s a cost sharing model, public and private sectors working together. Institutionalizing people with mental health problems does not get them the help they need. We located the Mental Health Center in the central city on 12th and Vliet to be closer to the general area where 70% of the patients come from.
8 | SHEPHERD EXPRESS NEWS
Photo by Anthony Jackson/Getty Images.
From my time spent doing articles on both county jails, Downtown and Franklin, I heard that the incarcerated people with mental problems remain in jail because there are not enough mental institutions to take them.
True, and there is the waiting list. Years ago, we were able to have mental care facilities for those people to get the services they need when they are in crisis. To tackle this issue, we need help from the state and federal governments. We can’t do it alone.
In order to curb violence, two years ago, the County Board created the Credible Messengers program. The aim of the program is to have mentors with lived experience in violence, crime, or trauma to work with at-risk youth and provide positive opportunities. I think you committed $500,000 to the program. How does the Credible Messengers program work and who are these mentors?
Credible Messengers provides mentoring for young persons who have had experience with the criminal justice system. We work with nonprofits like the Milwaukee Christian Center or the Running Rebels who provide the mentors. Credible Messengers has been quite successful. More than 70% of those kids who have been mentored have not reoffended. I look at Credible Messengers as an investment. If a young offender ends up at a juvenile home like Lincoln Hills, Milwaukee County has to pay over $100,000 to keep him there. Mentoring can keep him out of trouble.
You and the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors have allocated more than $11 million of pharmaceutical settlement funds for projects aimed at treating the on-going opioid pandemic in Milwaukee County. You stated this money is being used to purchase and install harm reduction vending machines countywide. The machines contain Fentanyl test strips, nasal Narcan, medication deactivation pouches, lock bags and gun locks. Not long ago, I did an article on Tahira Malik of Samad’s House who aid and shelter addicts. She told me the opioid, cocaine and fentanyl epidemic keeps getting worse in the Milwaukee area, and statistics back her up. Besides the vending machines, how is the rest of the $11 million being spent?
The machines have been installed to make sure we reduce the deaths from overdose, that the addicts have access to medications that will save their lives. Since Covid in 2020, Milwaukee County has set records for drug overdose vic-
tims. But the County also helps recovering drug addicts by funding Mental Health organizations. That includes money to care for the addicts in our jails. We work with the Department of Health and Human Services who help allocate resources, and the DHS gives us updated reports.
The controversial .04 percent sales tax increase has recently been passed by the County Board. How will that income be allocated?
This tax money is about making sure we can preserve many of our existing services that people rely on such as county parks, senior and mental health services, and our public transit system. We are also making up for bad decisions made more than 20 years ago. This will help us make good decisions for the benefit of people five or ten years from now.
I’ve heard grumbling from inner city residents and street leaders that this four-tenths percent sale tax is regressive, that it hits the lower class the hardest. What do you say to them?
We acknowledge that it can be a regressive tax, but it is more regressive if we have to take away some parks, cut back the transit system, cut senior and mental health services. I’m talking about services that affect our most vulnerable citizens. Remember, tourists and companies pay a big part of this tax.
You are noted for your positive attitude about Milwaukee’s future. You once said, and I quote, “There is an old saying by Confucius, ‘People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing, that’s why we recommend it daily.’” How does that apply to Milwaukee’s troubling issues?
Sometimes, people can’t see the whole picture. People easily forget. For instance, we don’t remember when we had a county transit system that got us everywhere, or that we had a mental health service facility that did not have wait lines, or that we once had programs and services for every county park in the Milwaukee area. I see it this way. We have challenges, but these challenges create opportunity for good. Sometimes, you need to bring your own weather to get what you need. I’m trying to make sure I am bringing the sunshine.
Tom Jenz writes the Central City Stories column for shepherdexpress.com.
10 | SHEPHERD EXPRESS NEWS
Photo by Marvin Samuel Tolentino Pineda/Getty Images.
SEPTEMBER 2023 | 11
REPUBLICANS AREN’T FIGHTING FOR DEMOCRACY ANYMORE
REPUBLICANS AREN’T FIGHTING FOR DEMOCRACY ANYMORE
BY JOEL MCNALLY
Growing up in a small town in Indiana in the anti-communist McCarthy era of the 1950s, I was surrounded by the most conservative Republicans in existence. They were all fighting a cold war for American democracy against Russia’s totalitarian dictator Nikita Khrushchev who arrogantly boasted world communism would bury us.
It’s a good thing most of those ‘50s Republicans aren’t still around to see what’s become of their political party. Republicans are no longer fighting for American democracy.
Here’s the part that would blow the minds of hard-core Republican conservatives from the ‘50s. The Republican hostility toward American democracy turned toxic after the party elected a president with assistance from a massive internet propaganda campaign created by Vladimir Putin’s Russian intelligence agents pretending to be Americans.
SPECIAL PROSECUTOR JACK SMITH’S CRIMINAL INDICTMENT OF TRUMP IS RESTORING THE PRINCIPLE NO ONE IS ABOVE THE LAW. UNTIL THAT HAPPENS, REPUBLICAN ATTACKS ON FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS WILL CONTINUE.
It sounds incredible, but we all lived through it and it’s not over yet. Donald Trump publicly sided with Putin against U.S. intelligence agencies and his own Justice Department throughout his disastrous single presidential term before Americans cast the most votes in history to remove him from office.
We all watched Trump’s violent criminal assault on Congress to overthrow American democracy on January 6, 2021, attempting to unconstitutionally remain the president despite his enormous defeat. Special Prosecutor Jack Smith’s criminal indictment of Trump is restoring the principle no one is above the law.
Until that happens, Republican attacks on free and fair elections will continue. In 2024, Republicans will either nominate Trump for president again or someone just like him. That’s a terrible strategy to win a presidential election, but that’s not their primary motive. For Trump and his co-conspirators, it’s to try to stay out of prison.
If Trump wins the presidency again, democracy will be over. He’ll fire Smith, shut down all those federal indictments and hire a brand-new Justice Department to lock up political opponents just like Putin does. That makes it clear what American voters need to do again.
by wildpixel/Getty Images.
NEWS TAKING LIBERTIES 12 | SHEPHERD EXPRESS
Trump’s multiple criminal indictments haven’t convinced Republicans to become a legitimate American political party again. Conservatives who support democracy need to form a new American Conservative Party. Trump has turned Republicans into his own personal street gang like the Proud Boys.
Wisconsin is one of seven “fake elector” states in which 83 prominent Republicans nationwide submitted fraudulent documents to Congress falsely claiming they were elected to cast electoral votes for Trump in states Biden won when they weren’t. Those Republicans were once respected political leaders in their communities. Now they’re unindicted co-conspirators who could become indicted ones at any time.
overthrow Biden’s election. Those lawless partisans were the previous rightwing majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
A more progressive court majority took over last month when Justice Janet Protasiewicz replaced retired Justice Pat Roggensack to end an unethical rightwing majority that had controlled the court for 15 years. Before Protasiewicz, the only person who prevented Wisconsin’s supreme court from becoming the only court in America lawless enough to embrace Trump’s 2020 election lies was conservative Justice Brian Hagedorn. The other three justices were eager to throw out the ballots of all 3.3 million presidential voters in Wisconsin and allow the gerrymandered Republican legislature to fraudulently declare Trump the winner.
Justices Rebecca Bradley, Annette Ziegler and Roggensack bitterly denounced Hagedorn for joining the progressive justices to throw out the evidence-free Trump lawsuits and support Biden’s election. Bradley wrote the nonsensical Trumpian dissent for the minority justices denouncing Hagedorn for dealing “a death blow to democracy. The majority’s failure to act leaves an indelible stain on our most recent election.”
Wisconsin’s 10 fake electors always knew the plot cooked up by Trump’s lawyers was loony. “These guys are up to no good and it’s going to fail miserably,” Republican chairman Andrew Hitt texted executive director Mark Jefferson. Jefferson complained “freaking Trump idiots” wanted him to fly the counterfeit documents to Washington. Sen. Ron Johnson was the freaking Trump idiot assigned to personally hand Mike Pence lists of fake electors from Wisconsin and Michigan on January 6.
Trump was confident he could pound the usually compliant Pence into using the fake electors’ lies to throw out millions of legitimate American votes to overthrow the election. He couldn’t.
In Wisconsin that led to an even more brazen attempt by a group of lawless Republican partisans to try to
Clearly, Republicans no longer even understand the definition of American democracy. In their party, it’s whatever violent retribution Trump woke up today and threatened to do in all capital letters with lots of exclamation points to destroy the lives of everyone who opposes him.
By now, those opponents should be every rational voter in America. If those commie-hating, rightwing, ‘50s Republicans in Indiana traveled here in a time machine, they wouldn’t be Republicans anymore either. They would recognize a deranged, wanna-be Russian dictator with a shovel threatening to bury American democracy when they heard him raving.
Joel McNally was a critic and columnist for the Milwaukee Journal for 27 years. He has written the weekly Taking Liberties column for the Shepherd Express since 1996
SEPTEMBER 2023 | 13
SEN. RON JOHNSON WAS THE FREAKING TRUMP IDIOT ASSIGNED TO PERSONALLY HAND MIKE PENCE LISTS OF FAKE ELECTORS FROM WISCONSIN AND MICHIGAN ON JANUARY 6.
Scott Walker Joins the GOP War on Student Voting
Scott Walker Joins the GOP War on Student Voting
BY WILLIAM HOLOHAN
BY WILLIAM HOLOHAN
The Republican Party has declared war on voting by college students. One of the latest to enlist is former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who declared that the overwhelming victory by Janet Protasiewicz in the recent Wisconsin Supreme Court election was due to the brainwashing of young college students by “campus radicals.” UW students did indeed vote overwhelmingly for Judge Janet, particularly at the Madison, Milwaukee and Green Bay campuses. Walker is now determined to “undo years of liberal indoctrination.” To achieve this, he has announced a new donor-financed initiative: “I am leading a new effort at Young America Foundation to counter the impact of radicals on campus ...”
This allegation of youthful gullibility should be more closely examined. A few policy issues of acute interest to young people generally (not just those in college) point to more likely reasons why young voters are repelled by Republican policy positions.
It can hardly be chalked up to indoctrination that today’s college students—the generation that practiced active shooter drills in school, some having survived the real thing— have concluded that the Republicans are doing nothing about guns. Like most Americans, they are frustrated by the inaction, especially since Justice Scalia’s 2008 interpreta-
Burmesch. NEWS ISSUE OF THE MONTH 14 | SHEPHERD EXPRESS
tion of the Second Amendment reaffirmed that gun ownership is a regulated right: red-flag laws, waiting periods before purchase, background checks, restrictions on ownership of certain types of weapons, are indeed constitutional. Republicans have had plenty of opportunity to diverge from the NRA position to endorse at minimum red-flag laws and background checks.
Nor does it require indoctrination to conclude that the Republicans are caving in to religious organizations on abortion restrictions. In furtherance of this unpopular policy, unrepresentative gerrymandered state legislatures impose strict regulations on abortion and other reproductive medical decisions, endanger women in medical emergencies, restrict interstate travel for less-restricted care and attempt to ban a proven drug for treatment of miscarriages that also can induce abortions.
It does not require indoctrination for students to understand the Republican strategy to suppress their vote. Republican strategist Cleta Mitchell was caught on tape speaking at a Republican strategy session outlining a comprehensive plan to suppress voting by those unlikely to vote for Republican candidates. The plan includes limiting voting days and hours, eliminating on-campus voting places, denying the use of student ID as proof of voter eligibility, and keeping off the ballot any referendum whose likely outcome would be to demonstrate the unpopularity of Republican policy positions.
As if to justify suppressing the college vote, Mitchell described college students as lazy, coddled by the convenience of on-campus voting: “They basically put the polling place next to the student dorm so they just have to roll out of bed, vote, and go back to bed.” The alternative would be to register and vote near the family home, dozens if not hundreds of miles away. Of course, hers is a mischaracterization of modern students who work very hard just to qualify for admission to college and then proceed to take challenging coursework that encapsulates thousands of years of learning. Most students are also compelled to earn money during their college days to pay today’s greater student share of the cost. Besides, the 26th Amendment to the Constitution (1971) that enabled 18-year-olds to vote did not specify greater inconvenience to exercise that right.
Certainly, increased time and travel costs will suppress the vote. Together with gerrymandering, high time costs are part of the overall strategy to solidify minority rule. By contrast, representative government requires allocating voting resources—polling places, days and hours, voting machines, secure drop boxes, mail-ballot procedures, and, yes, on-campus voting—so that all eligible demographics, including college students, experience roughly the same time and resource cost of voting.
William Holahan is emeritus professor and former chair of economics at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. An earlier version of this article was posted on Econ4Voters at grassrootsnorthshore.com.
SEPTEMBER 2023 | 15
Elle Halo Supports Fellow Black Trans Women Dealing with Violence and Health Risks
BY ERIN BLOODGOOD
For Elle Halo, an activist and community builder, losing friends to violence, suicide, drug abuse or other health risks in her transgender community is not uncommon. In the last year, she’s lost at least five friends: Regina “Mya” Allen, Brazil Johnson, Cashay Henderson, Dedrick Cross and Tori Davis.
Halo is a Black trans woman and is all too familiar with the studies showing that transgender people are twice as likely to die as cisgender people from health complications and suicide, according to the Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology study, and 54 percent of transgender and non-binary people have experienced some form of intimate partner violence in their life, according to the 2015 United States
Transgender Survey. These negative statistics are only exacerbated among Black trans women.
“I feel grateful to have made it to 34,” says Halo.
Recently, trans people have faced increased attacks in the media and through legislation across the country, which Halo says, increases the risk for violence against her community. “Society will accept a lot of things before it accepts us,” she says. Anti-trans bills have been proposed in the Wisconsin Legislature and in Congress which are fueling the hateful rhetoric against trans people.
Having lived with this discrimination and the challenges that come with be -
ing a trans woman, Halo understands the toll it takes, which is why she works to build a safe space and provide resources for others going through similar experiences. “Amongst the members of our specific community of trans women, it is when they're outside of that community that they experience the most violence,” she says.
Halo is a member of Sisters Helping Each Other Battle Adversity (SHEBA), a group under Diverse and Resilient where she sits on the board of directors. This space has given her a strong support system since she came to the group at the start of her transition nearly ten years. Not only did the backing of the women in SHEBA help her through difficult times, but it was what led her to start her career.
16 | SHEPHERD EXPRESS NEWS HERO OF THE MONTH
Photo by Erin Bloodgood.
Dedicated to fighting for the needs of other trans people, she launched her business TRANCE Consulting where she navigates resources for people, responds to calls, curates content and more.
Earlier this year, she raised $25,000 for the Paris Ticca Mahone Memorial Transition Fund she started to financially support people in their transition. The funds will provide laser hair removal for six Black trans women, and her goal is to raise enough money for two more women.
She also consults with Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin developing their Gender Affirming Care Program. This is the first time there's been a statewide hormone therapy program for many years and would allow people to access these services through providers and clinics locally.
Halo’s work has touched many people around Milwaukee and Wisconsin and has likely saved lives. A supportive community can be the saving grace for
many trans people who may be facing domestic violence, sex trafficking, thoughts of suicide or other threats. She wants to make sure trans people in Milwaukee have someone to turn to by giving back the love she received over the years.
Moreso, her advocacy aims to make the voices of her community heard and ensure solutions being created for trans people are made with their input. “I believe that communities know what they need. I believe that our ideas, our voices, our stories, and our history are valid,” she says.
Learn more about the Elle and her work at facebook.com/TRANCEConsulting.
Erin Bloodgood is a Milwaukee photographer and storyteller. See more of her work on her website at bloodgoodfoto.com.
SEPTEMBER 2023 | 17
TBEY Arts Center Contessa Lobley Teaches Urban Youth
BY TOM JENZ
If you practice the arts, whether drawing and painting, photography or music, acting or dancing, you know it’s difficult to get your work seen. Or perhaps, you enjoy the arts, but you’re not an artist. Or maybe you never had arts training as a kid.
Contessa Lobley knows kids need creative expression. That is why she founded the TBEY Arts Center in 2000 when she was only 16, and a sophomore at John Marshall High School. Twenty-three years later, she has expanded her TBEY student arts programs all over the Milwaukee area.
Contessa describes the TBEY Arts Center as an educational organization for the urban community where arts programs are taught to youth members who otherwise might have little or no opportunity to learn these skills because of location or cost.
“Whether our students become artists themselves, work in an arts-related field, enjoy the arts as patrons or support the arts through donations, our vision is for the arts to contribute positively to young people’s lives,” she said in an interview in her offices on Prospect near Whole Foods.
Tell me about your background, where you grew up, your parents, neighborhoods, schools you attended. Then, take me through your career path.
My family had a home in the Sherman Park neighborhood in the inner city. Later, we moved to the Wauwatosa area. My mom was in nursing, and she still is. Loves to take care of people. My dad was a deejay for various functions and block parties. He also worked in factories. I went to John Marshall High School, and I focused on the business program. But performing arts was my
passion, and I have participated in dance lessons and performances since I was a young kid. My older sister is a visual artist, and my younger sister is one of our lead choreographers here at the TBEY Arts Center.
Did you go to college right away after high school?
Yes, I attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the School of Business. My goal was to open up a dance studio or dance company. I always wanted to be an entrepreneur in the arts. I actually started TBEY when I was 16 at John Marshall High School. Back then, it was getting harder for girls interested in dance to pay for lessons. Then, there were budget cuts at Milwaukee Public Schools in the arts budget. And that’s why I started TBEY—in order to give kids more opportunities in dance. We did talent shows at venues like Capital
Photo by Tom Jenz.
18 | SHEPHERD EXPRESS NEWS MKE SPEAKS: CONVERSATIONS WITH MILWAUKEEANS
Court. TBEY is an acronym for “Tessa’s Black Entertainment and Youth Center.” I was inspired by watching musical performances on BET, Black Entertainment Television.
You loved the arts and dance. So why did you major in business?
If you run a nonprofit, you need to know business. But in my junior year of college, I switched to the School of Education, but I do have a minor in Business. In 2004, I established my nonprofit 501c3 TBEY Arts Center. We were mostly volunteers, and we started out in the Bucketworks, a creative crafts organization for adults, located across the street from the old Bucks arena. The first summer, we attracted kids from 10 to 19. We had visual art, music, theater, and dance programs all taught by adult volunteers.
Take me through the process of how TBEY became the large organization it is today.
Over a period of time, we began working with schools. We filled the gap for schools that did not have arts programming. TBEY grew, and we had our first office space in the YWCA, which had the incubator program that provided office space for a cheap price. Then, we got a contract with the Boys & Girls Club for our art services. In 2009, we produced our first dance production, A Journey Through Dance, which is still going on each year. We’ve performed at the Marcus Center for 10 years. We have choreographers who teach many dance genres—modern, ballet, jazz, hip hop, tap and salsa. Kids go through three months of intensive training and rehearsal.
How has your nonprofit TBEY Arts Center been funded through the years?
Mostly grants. For instance, the Forest County Potawatomi Foundation, Bader Philanthropies, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, and both the Wisconsin and Milwaukee Arts Boards. I write the grant applications. For eight years, we’ve been contracted for arts services at some of the Milwaukee Public Schools. Also, a lot of our funding is earned income and individual donations.
How many employees do you have?
I am currently the only full-time employee, and we have seven artistic programming staff on a part time basis.
Can you describe what TBEY does?
We serve the community for students who want to engage and express themselves in the arts. Kids come to us, and we train and mentor them in music, art, theater and dance. We also have the Outreach program where we go into the schools and organizations to provide art education and art services. We have two summer arts camps for kids from nine to 19, and the programs include different arts disciplines. The kids have fun and go on field trips. And every year, we do the theater house production for Journey House on the South Side.
The TBEY Arts Center has a growing list of partners. Who are some of them and what do they contribute?
Besides our funding partners, we partner with Journey House and with the Boys & Girls Clubs. And we are doing a summer program with COA Youth & Family Centers. Our arts programs were in six MPS schools this past year.
You once wrote, quote, “TBEY is changing the lives of our young people one at-a-time.” What do you mean by this, and how is TBEY changing a young person’s life? TBEY is very family oriented. I personally know all the kids in our programs, and the kids have access to me. I’ve heard kids say, “This feels like a second home for me,” or “This is a safe space for me.” I think that we are saving kids because they could be doing something unproductive. We provide a creative outlet for those kids who lack exposure to the arts. Most of our students stay with the program. Some start at nine years old and stay with us until they graduate from high school. I focus on the parents, too, because they need to understand what it means to be an art parent. But I’ve seen a number of changes in my 23 years of experience.
How would you characterize these changes?
The families seem busier and less able to devote time to their kids’ education. Social media takes up a lot of time for the kids. Smartphones can be their goto instead of sitting in a class.
TBEY’s focus is on the urban community. You have summer arts camps and also after school programs. What arts courses are offered?
Visual arts, basic drawing, ceramics, photography, dance, music and music theory, vocal music, piano and theater.
The TBEY model offers what you call a three-pronged approach: Explore, Engage & Express. Can you describe how this three-pronged approach works?
We allow kids to explore. What is art? What is theater? Once the kids are on board, we engage them, train and mentor them. And we allow the kids to express themselves with their peers and in their community. They get to perform in productions and show their artwork in student art exhibits.
Reading from your website, “TBEY is a place where the youth call their own, express themselves through the arts, be creative and have fun at the same time.” What would be an example of this approach?
We are a safe space where kids, ages 6 to 19, are doing something productive by exploring the arts. They are welcomed at whatever level they come in at.
TBEY puts on dance performances and student art exhibitions. Where do those take place?
After each semester, we do a showcase to show parents and families the kids’ art. For example, last spring we did an artwork show at the live creative space in Bay Shore. Also, our kids’ art will be displayed in the atrium at the Marcus Art Center during the rest of the summer and September. And we will be performing our Journey Through Dance show and our Benefit concert in September.
20 | SHEPHERD EXPRESS NEWS MKE SPEAKS: CONVERSATIONS WITH MILWAUKEEANS
Tom Jenz writes the Central City Stories column for shepherdexpress.com.
Buttermint Redefines the Meaning of Supper Club Buttermint Redefines the Meaning of Supper Club
BY SUSAN HARPT GRIMES
When Buttermint opened late in 2021, revamping the former Shorewood Blue’s Egg space, it was fully committed to the modern supper club vibe. Buttermint was a great place for a celebratory meal or fancy date night. But, while the food and service were excellent, the overall concept didn’t seem to quite catch on in the casual Shorewood community. In a shift earlier this year, Buttermint toned down the more formal aspects of the restaurant. The menu is more friendly to the average diner, and the move seems to be drawing more interest from the neighborhood as the restaurant was nearly full on a recent Monday evening
visit. It’s still a great place to celebrate a special occasion or a date with your sweetheart, but now it’s also a great spot for an informal dinner or relaxed weekend brunch.
While there has been an easing of the formal supper club concept, you can still begin your meal with soft and buttery Parker House Rolls ($6) which pair beautifully with a bowl of the only soup on the menu, an outstanding Roasted Corn Bisque ($7). Creamy, rich, and layered with flavor, this soup is a winner. In fact, the rolls with the bisque would make a perfect meal if you were just looking for a satisfying, simple supper.
There are several other appetizers to whet your appetite like crispy Fried Cheese Curds ($10) served with a tasty miso ranch dressing, or go with something more traditional like the Chicken Liver Mousse ($12) served with wonderful pickled shallots, port wine jelly and rye crostini. Special note: Buttermint often has happy hour deals that include $9 appetizers, so you could come and graze your way through several different small plates while not being too hard on your wallet.
If you typically skip salads, you may want to reconsider that when ordering at Buttermint. Fresh veggies, beauti-
Photos courtesy of Buttermint. 22 | SHEPHERD EXPRESS FOOD & DRINK
SEPTEMBER 2023 | 23
fully prepared, and including options to easily “beef” them up with excellent added proteins could make them into a meal unto themselves. Brussels sprout fans should not pass up the Roasted Brussels Caesar ($13) with a mild Caesar dressing, red sumac roasted brussels sprouts, shaved Brussels sprouts, sweet dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, and delicious grana padano cheese.
Some of the new, less formal additions to the menu at Buttermint are deceptively simple sandwiches ($13-$15). It could be easy to overlook these if you’re in more in a “fancy meal” stateof-mind, but it is pretty hard to go wrong with an “Old Fashioned” Uphoff Ham Sandwich ($13) made with delicious ham, stone ground mustard and garlic aioli, aged gruyere cheese, fantastic pickled red onion, and fresh marble rye bread—be sure to get it
toasted. All of the sandwiches are served with fries, and a remarkable house pickle that is both sweet and crispy, just like grandma used to make.
The more formal minded diner will appreciate there are still several prime meat ($19-$47) and seafood ($28-$33) options available. A standout among the entrees is the Wood-Grilled BBQ Ribs ($24 ½ rack, $32 full rack) which are served with a phenomenal housemade maple BBQ sauce that is sweet and smokey, along with fries and an excellent broccoli slaw. The menu is rounded out with pasta dishes ($20$25) which weren’t tried but looked very tempting.
All of the hallmarks of a great supper club are still a part of Buttermint— great food, fantastic service and an excellent brandy old fashioned. Hopefully the more relaxed setting will be embraced by the community going forward and Buttermint will be around for many years to come.
BUTTERMINT 4195 N. Oakland Avenue buttermintrestauarant.com (414) 488-2587 • $$-$$$ Handicap accessible: Yes Takes Reservations: Yes
Susan Harpt Grimes is a regular contributor to shepherdexpress.com.
24 | SHEPHERD EXPRESS FOOD & DRINK
Photos courtesy of Buttermint.
WATER MELON SALAD
BY ARI LEVAUX
Imet my first watermelon salad at The Covington restaurant in Edgartown, MA. The dish consisted of watermelon cubes tossed into a pile of salad greens, alongside turnip shavings, pickled scapes, feta cheese, and balsamic vinegar. The juicy red chunks did the job normally reserved for tomatoes and availed themselves beautifully. Their sweet acids bent the salad around them, and a leafy salad with watermelon morphed into watermelon salad with leaves. Refreshing and sweet, the salad seemed to make me hungrier the more I ate.
A few minutes later in the hotel lobby I gushed about the joys of watermelon in salad to whomever would listen. A receptionist named Shania was not impressed. “We put that stuff in salad all the time.” She’s from the hills of Jamaica, a land of year-round gardens and daily salads. She spoke with authority on vegetables but didn’t dwell in specifics. “If it can grow in the backyard, it’s going in,” Shania said, when I asked her what else goes into a Jamaican watermelon salad. The only ingredient she named as unfit for watermelon salad are tomatoes. They can be too bossy, she explained, and take over the flavor. As for the watermelon, the only guidance she offered was to cut the chunks small. “If the pieces are too big, people will pick them out and eat them.”
The one aspect where Shania got very specific was the dressing. It was nothing more than a simple mix of brown sugar and cheap white vinegar. I was baffled that the dressing, and the salad as a whole, contained neither salt nor oil. Most chefs and food processors would agree that salt and fat are of paramount importance to creating flavor, and that food without these key ingredients will taste bland.
But she insisted. “In Jamaica people can’t afford oil,” she said. And if you do have oil, she added, you should save it in case they have to fry a fish. The problem with trying to make this dressing in the U.S., she says, is that “the brown sugar here isn’t right. It clumps together.” I explained that American brown sugar is simply white sugar to which molasses has been added. I found some chunks of evaporated cane juice from a local specialty store, and submitted them. She approved.
So I mixed a few chunks of sugar into some cheap white vinegar, and used it to dress a salad of lettuce, onion and watermelon.
Invigorating, thirst quenching and light, this salad was satisfying on every level. The watermelon washed the leaves, helping them go down effortlessly.
I realized that my original watermelon salad at The Covington similarly did not contain oil or salt, although the crumbled feta provided both salt and fat. But those additions, nor the turnip shavings and pickled scapes, did not elevate the salad above the simple version inspired by the backyard salads from the hills of Jamaica. You don’t need to be fancy with watermelon salad. Just stay out of the way and let the ingredients speak for themselves.
FOOD & DRINK FLASH IN THE PAN 26 | SHEPHERD EXPRESS
Watermelon slices by Andrey Elkin/Getty Images.
In essence, the core of this recipe is to add watermelon to salad, with Shania’s vinegar and sugar dressing. Feel free to adjust by adding anything that grows in the backyard. Except tomatoes.
• ½ cup white vinegar
• 3 tablespoons proper brown sugar
• 4 cups salad greens
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• ½ cup minced red onion
• 2 cups cubed watermelon, in ½-inch chunks
Sir the sugar in the vinegar.
Wash, dry and trim the greens. Add the onion and garlic and toss. Add the watermelon chunks and the dressing. Toss again and serve.
Ari LeVaux has written about food for The Atlantic Online, Outside Online and Alternet.
SEPTEMBER 2023 | 27
Photo by Ari LeVaux.
Fall ARTS GUIDE
Fall ARTS GUIDE
Florentine Opera: Sassy but Sophisticated
BY DAVID LUHRSSEN
We’re the grand dame of the arts in Milwaukee,” says Maggey Oplinger, the Florentine Opera’s general director. She’s commenting on the company’s 90th anniversary season, beginning this fall. The Florentine Opera was founded in 1933, the low point of the Great Depression, in an act of optimism for the future of that venerable art form. The name points to the Italian repertoire favored by its original patrons. Honoring that legacy, the new season opens in October with Gaetano Donizetti’s 1832 Elixir of Love (L’elisir d’amore), with the romantic comedy’s Italian setting shifted to Sonoma.
“Opera tends to be an intimidating word,” Oplinger says. “People picture us running around in powdered wigs and hooped skirts! But I say opera should be fun, it can be tongue-in-cheek, sassy but sophisticated, welcoming.”
A native Milwaukeean, Oplinger came to the Florentine from the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, where she was director of community partnerships and shared experiences. Oplinger became the Florentine’s general director on March 1, 2019, and had one year and almost a full season behind her when the COVID lockdown began. “We sold out a show the day before the shutdown—The Tragedy of Carmen,” she says. “We had to cancel the season’s final show, Macbeth. The “Scottish play’s’ reputation is not a positive one among theater people!” she adds, alluding to the legend of Macbeth’s jinx.
Coming out of COVID, the Florentine soldiered on with distanced performances. Last season was back to normal and 2023-24 finds the company traveling the world. Songbird (Feb. 16 and 18) is a jazzed rendition of Jacques Offenbach’s comic opera La Périchole set in 1920s New Orleans. Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohème becomes Bronzeville Bohème (April 19-21) ambitiously recontextualized for 1940s Black Milwaukee. La Maria de Buenos Aires (by Argentine tango master Astor Piazzolla) is “driven by dance,” Oplinger says. “It’s the story of one woman’s journey through music.”
As with any live theater, there are no two identical performances and directors and casts have the ability to move the story in new directions. “It’s different than going to a museum. Our masterpieces are recreated each time they are performed,” says Oplinger.
Photo courtesy of Florentine Opera.
28 | SHEPHERD EXPRESS SPECIAL FALL ARTS GUIDE | SPONSORED BY MILWAUKEE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
Illustrations by Tim Czerniakowski.
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5 POINTS ART GALLERY 5ptsartgallery.com
ACACIA THEATRE COMPANY acaciatheatre.com
THE ALICE WILDS thealicewilds.com
ALL IN PRODUCTIONS allin-mke.com
ALL SAINTS CATHEDRAL ascathedral.org
Organ Concert, Sept. 17
ALVERNO ART & CULTURES GALLERY
WOW! Women of Wisconsin, Sept. 8-Oct. 6
Connections: Alverno Alumnae Exhibit, Oct. 13-Nov. 3
AMERICAN PLAYERS THEATRE (APT) americanplayers.org
The Royale, through Sept. 16
Our Town, through Sept.22
The Liar, through Sept. 23
Once Upon a Bridge, through Oct. 4
Mala, through Oct. 5
Anton’s Shorts , through Oct. 6
Romeo and Juliet, through Oct. 7
The Merry Wives of Windsor, through Oct. 8
APT closes its 2023 season with a play Shakespeare may have knocked out in a hurry. According to legend, it was written to please Queen Elizabeth I as a sequel to his earlier plays featuring Sir John Falstaff, the fat knight and comic relief of Henry IV, Part 1 and Part 2. QE1 wanted to see Falstaff in love and Shakespeare, mindful of his head, obliged, composing a dexterously plotted comedy with lively dialogue. (David Luhrssen)
APERI ANIMAM aperianimam.com
Passion, Peace & Play, Sept. 14 (United Methodist Church, Whitefish Bay)
ARTS @ LARGE artsatlargeinc.org
BACH CHAMBER CHOIR bachchoirmilwaukee.com
BAY VIEW GALLERY NIGHT (BVGN) bvgn.org
BEL CANTO CHORUS belcanto.org
BLACK ARTS MKE marcuscenter.org/series/ black-arts-mke
BLACK HOLOCAUST MUSEUM abhmuseum.org
BOERNER BOTANICAL GARDENS boernerbotanicalgardens.org
China Lights, Sept. 15-Oct. 29
30 | SHEPHERD EXPRESS SPECIAL FALL ARTS GUIDE | SPONSORED BY MILWAUKEE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
AMERICAN PLAYERS THEATRE
Kelsey Brennan, Reginald André Jackson, David Daniel, Dee Dee Batteast & Josh Krause, The Merry Wives of Windsor, 2023. Photo by Liz Lauren. Courtesy of American Players Theatre.
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BOMBSHELL THEATRE CO. bombshelltheatre.org
BOULEVARD THEATRE milwaukeeboulevardtheatre.com
Significant Other, Sept. 9 (Sugar Maple)
A tiny, intimate stage serves as the social space for a small group of friends in one of the largest cities in the world. Jordan Berman lives in New York and like many of his friends, he feels like an aging single in his late twenties. He’s dealing with the terrors of a potential life alone as his friends all gradually get married around him. Conner is heartbreakingly vulnerable as a gentle neurotic hoping to make a connection of some sort. (Russ Bickerstaff)
THE BOX THEATRE CO. boxtheatre.co.org
Exit Stage Riley, Sept. 8-17
BRONZEVILLE ARTS ENSEMBLE facebook.com/ BronzevilleArtsEnsemble
CABARET MILWAUKEE facebook.com/cabmke
CARROLL PLAYERS carrollplayers.weebly.com
CARTHAGE COLLEGE THEATRE carthage.edu/fine-arts
CATEY OTT DANCE COLLECTIVE cateyott.com
CEDARBURG ART MUSEUM cedarburgartmuseum.org
Shared Paths through Ozaukee County, through Sept. 24
CEDARBURG CULTURAL CENTER cedarburgculturalcenter.org
CEDARBURG PERFORMING ARTS CENTER cedarburgpac.com
Barbaro, Sept. 29
The Modern Gentlemen, Oct. 13
CHANT CLAIRE CHAMBER CHOIR chantclaire.org
CHARLES ALLIS ART MUSEUM charlesallis.org
“On the Grounds Of,” through October
The sculptural installation is definitely worth seeing before the greens fade to ochre and rust. Siara Berry represents an increasingly rare example of a young artist working in the realm of conceptual object-making and language in a playful, hands-on manner. Even rarer, that she’s delicately adept at constructing things around ideas. (Shane
Michael Lagerman Solo Exhibition, Oct. 5- Feb. 4, 2024
32 | SHEPHERD EXPRESS SPECIAL FALL ARTS GUIDE | SPONSORED BY MILWAUKEE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
On the Grounds Of. Courtesy of Charles Allis Art Museum.
CHARLES ALLIS ART MUSEUM
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THE CONSTRUCTIVISTS theconstructivists.org
CONCORD CHAMBER ORCHESTRA concordorchestra.org
CONCORDIA UNIVERSITY cuw.edu
COVERED BRIDGE ART STUDIO TOUR cedarburgartistsguild.com
Sponsored by the Cedarburg Artists Guild, the annual event provides an opportunity to visit the studios of many artists working in Southeast Wisconsin. (Morton Shlabotnik)
DANCEWORKS PERFORMANCE MKE danceworksmke.org
DAVID BARNETT GALLERY davidbarnettgallery.com
The Splendor of Nature in Art, Capturing the Intimate to the Magnificent, through-Oct. 17
DEAD MAN’S CARNIVAL facebook.com/Dead-Mans-Carnival
EARLY MUSIC NOW earlymusicnow.org
New York Polyphony, Oct. 21 (St. Joseph’s Chapel)
The quartet of male voices is rooted in medieval and Renaissance music but has commissioned new work since their formation in 2006. They have toured extensively throughout North America and Europe and have recorded several albums, winning a Grammy nomination for Sing Thee Nowell (2014). At their Milwaukee concert, New York Polyphony will sing Franco-Flemish Renaissance pieces by Loyset Compère, Thomas Crecquillon and Josquin des Prez alongside contemporary works by Cyrillus Kreek and Andrew Smith. (Morton Shlabotnik)
EX FABULA exfabula.org
A forum for storytellers, Ex Fabula has also worked to serve individuals with disabilities. In 2016, the organization started The Equal Access Project, which included free workshops, venue accessibility assessments, training for volunteers and the creation of Braille materials. In 2018, they launched the Deaf Stories Project. And in 2020, the organization began offering free payit-forward tickets to their Story Slam events and workshops to remove cost barriers for all community members. (Morton Shlabotnik)
FALLS PATIO PLAYERS fallspatioplayers.com
Noises Off, Sept. 22-24, Sept. 29, Oct. 1
Disney/PIXAR’s Finding Nemo Jr. , Oct. 20-22
FESTIVAL CITY SYMPHONY festivalcitysymphony.org
FINE ARTS QUARTET fineartsquartet.com
FIRST STAGE firststage.org
FLORENTINE OPERA florentineopera.org
L’Elisir D’Amore (Elixir of Love), Oct. 13-15
FORTE THEATRE COMPANY fortetheatrecompany.org
FRANK JUAREZ GALLERY fjgmke.com
FRANKLY MUSIC franklymusic.org
Mostly Brahms, Sept. 12
GALLERY 218 gallery218.com
Group Show: Judith Hook, Bernie Newman, Carole Glas, Marie Mellott, Jan Jahnke and Ellen Raines, Sept. 2-Oct. 15
33rd Anniversary Fall Showcase opening reception with jazz by Elevator Trio, Gallery Night, Oct. 20
Fall Classical Guitar Concert series, Sundays 3 p.m.
GALLERY FOOD HALL
GHS DRAMATIC IMPACT gsdwi.org
GREENDALE COMMUNITY THEATRE greendaletheatre.org
GROHMANN MUSEUM msoe.edu/grohmann-museum
Mining Gems: Stories from the Collection, Sept. 8-Dec. 17
Mining Gems “will include some ‘new’ paintings from the collections vault, but also highlights some works that have traditionally been on display— with updated interpretations,” says the Grohman’s director James Kieselburg. “The exhibition is a cross-section of a variety of working themes and scenes. I chose to feature many of the stories related to the artwork that have been gathered over time, often in correspondence or by meeting relatives of the artists in the collection or those work-
34 | SHEPHERD EXPRESS SPECIAL FALL ARTS GUIDE | SPONSORED BY MILWAUKEE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
SEPTEMBER 2023 | 35
HAGGERTY MUSEUM OF ART marquette.edu/haggerty-museum
Image in Dispute: Dutch and Flemish Art from the Haggerty Museum of Art’s Collection, through May 12, 2024.
It was a time of upheaval and religious conflict in the Low Countries with militant Protestants waging war against religious iconography. “As traditions of artmaking came under increasing verbal and physical attack, artists began to innovate, developing new subjects to accommodate changing beliefs and new pictorial modes that rendered conventional themes with gripping emotion and psychological force,” said curator Kirk Nickel of an exhibit featuring some 50 paintings, engravings and etchings from the Haggerty’s collection. (David Luhrssen)
HARLEY-DAVIDSON MUSEUM harley-davidson.com
Mama Tried: Bringing It Together, through January 2025
Mama Tried is an annual invitational for custom motorcycles—from choppers to racing bikes—that draws enthusiasts from around the world to Milwaukee. The H-D Museum’s first major new exhibition since COVID gathers 13 motorcycles, “an eclectic selection of everything and everyone,” says curator David Kreidler. When held in recent years at the Eagles Ballroom, Mama Tried has included as many as 100 motorcycles plus vendors. “We’re not trying to recreate the event but introduce the event,” Kreidler explains. (David Luhrssen)
Off-Road Harley-Davidson, continuing
Building a Milwaukee Icon: HD’s Juneau Ave. Factory, continuing
Tsunami Motorcycle Display, continuing
H. F. JOHNSON GALLERY OF ART carthage.edu/art-gallery
HOVER CRAFT hovercraftmke.com
HYPERLOCAL MKE hyperlocalmke.com
INSPIRATION STUDIOS ART GALLERY inspirationstudiosgallery.com
Penny Conaty/John Reidel Exhibit, September
Art on the Plaza VI, September
Remington Repertory Theatre, Terminus , September
Yuliya Bay Ukraine Trashion Show, September
Rob Pritzlaff/Dan Kirchen Exhibit, October
Theatrical Tendencies, Torch Song, Oct. 21-22, Oct. 27-29
36 | SHEPHERD EXPRESS SPECIAL FALL ARTS GUIDE | SPONSORED BY MILWAUKEE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
Photo courtesy of Harley-Davidson.
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IRISH CULTURAL AND HERITAGE CENTER
Sharon Shannon, Sept. 9
Rider in the Sky, Oct. 1
Newberry & Verch, Oct. 7
Rum Ragged, Oct. 10
John Doyle, Oct. 15
Le Vent Du Nord, Oct. 20
Tartan Terrors, Oct. 21
JAMES MAY GALLERY jamesmaygallery.com
The Architecture of Everything: New work by Ellen Weider, Liz Rundorff Smith and Damien Hoar de Galvan, Sept. 1-Oct. 28
JAZZ GALLERY CENTER FOR THE ARTS
Free Improvisation Sessions, Saturday mornings
Milwaukee Jazz Institute, Sunday afternoons
JEWISH MUSEUM MILWAUKEE
Women Pulling at the Threads of Social Discourse, Sept. 8-Dec. 31
Women have long been associated with weaving and textiles in many cultures. “Pulling at the Threads” examines how contemporary textile artists have used their medium to reflect on social and political issues. “The museum will add context to the exhibit through educational and community programs.,” says curator Molly Dubin. “The slate of programs includes a presentation of the intersection of race, gender and politics, a look at women’s issues at the U.S.-Mexican border, a deep dive into the missing and murdered indigenous women in the U.S., a ‘Find Your Voice’ tapestry workshop, and many more.” (David Luhrssen)
38 | SHEPHERD EXPRESS SPECIAL FALL ARTS GUIDE | SPONSORED BY MILWAUKEE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
Life in Limbo, 2023. Artist: Judy Zoelzer Levine. Image: courtesy of artist.
Illustrations by Tim Czerniakowski.
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JOHN MICHAEL KOHLER ARTS CENTER
Moises Salazar Tlatenchi: A Quien le Importa, through Sept. 17
Andrea Chung: if they put an iron circle around your neck I will bite it away, through Oct. 1
Two things immediately strike visitors about artist Andrea Chung’s exhibit. Neither is subtle, nor are they what they may at first seem. The first is the exhibit’s title and second is the recurrent imagery of life-sized arms and hands reaching out from cabinetry mounted on the rich, blue walls within the multi-room installation, or up from blue sand within a planter-like stone pedestal. Some are holding talismans, but all are extended their full length in the museum’s Victorian-style setting as if seeking to grasp something just beyond their reach. (Michael Muckian)
Kea Tawana: Traveled into the Future in a Dream, through Oct. 8
Regional Responses to the Art Preserve, through Oct. 29
Asberry Davis: Run Your Own Way, through Jan. 7, 2024
Sharing the Same Breath, through April 21, 2024
Rose B. Simpson: Counterculture, through Feb. 25, 2024
KACM THEATRICAL PRODUCTIONS kacmtheatrical.weebly.com
KETTLE MORAINE SYMPHONY kmsymphony.org
Invitation to the Dance, Sept. 23 (Slinger Performing Arts Center)
Somewhere in the early 20th century, dancing and classical music disconnected in the minds of audiences (and composers), but it wasn’t always so. The Kettle Moraine Symphony opens its season with Dvorak’s Slavonic Dances and Strauss’ Blue Danube. Acknowledging Hispanic Heritage Month, they will also perform de Falla’s El Sombrero de tres picos and Marquez’ Danzon No. 2. (David Luhrssen)
KOHLER MEMORIAL THEATER kohlerfoundation.org
KO-THI DANCE COMPANY ko-thi.org
LAKE ARTS PROJECT lakeartsproject.com
LAKE COUNTRY PLAYHOUSE lakecountryplayhousewi.org
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Sept. 15-Oct. 1
The Wizard of Oz Youth Edition, Oct. 11-Oct. 22
LATINO ARTS, INC. latinoartsinc.org
Francisco X. Mora: Small Works, Sept. 8-Oct. 6
Day of the Dead Ofrendas, Oct. 18-Nov. 17
LILY PAD GALLERY WEST lilypadgallery.com
Impressions: Samir Sammoun and John C. Traynor, through Oct. 29
LYNDEN SCULPTURE GARDEN lyndensculpturegarden.org
Eneida Sanchez: Material Trance, through Oct. 29
MARCUS PERFORMING ARTS CENTER marcuscenter.org
William Lee Martin: Comedy Stampede Tour, Sept. 16
Ray LaMontagne, Sept. 29
Pat Metheny, Oct. 5
Jonathan Richman, Oct. 8
Throughout a long vocation in music that began in the early ‘70s, Jonathan Richman anticipated punk rock, straight edge and lo-fi without identifying with any of them. In the new millennium, Richman’s work continued unabated, still heedless of trends and fashion, consistently steeped in his unique vision. Recent recordings featured mostly acoustic guitars on songs that have grown more worldly wise, but never cynical or bitter, always finding some joy in the most somber of circumstances. (David Luhrssen)
Disney’s Aladdin, Oct. 17-22
Haunted Objects Live, Oct. 20
Milwaukee Ballet, Dracula, Oct. 26-29
MARN ART + CULTURE HUB marnarts.org
MISHKA Fashion Showcase, Sept. 6
With Ma (film screening), Sept. 22
Milwaukee Fashion Network, Oct. 19
MARQUETTE UNIVERSITY THEATRE marquette.edu/communication/ theatre-arts.php
A Piece of My Heart, Sept. 29-Oct. 8
The Servant of Two Masters , Sept. 30-Oct. 7
MASTER SINGERS OF MILWAUKEE mastersingersofmilwaukee.org
MATERIAL STUDIOS + GALLERY materialstudiosandgallery.com
MEMORIES DINNER THEATRE memoriesballroom.com
MENOMONEE FALLS SYMPHONY www.mfso.net
Concert, Oct. 21 (Hamilton Fine Arts Center)
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MIAD GALLERY AT THE AVE galleryattheave.miad.edu
MILWAUKEE ART MUSEUM mam.org
A Very Strong Likeness of Her: Portraiture and Identity in the British Colonial World, through Oct. 22
“A Very Strong Likeness of Her” is a tiny little show with a lot to say. The small gallery tucked away on the third floor of the museum, despite its relative lack of grand objects, ends up being a dense little box from which to unpack a single, particular and very gripping story about colonialism and social evolution in the British empire. And more importantly, to where all of it led.
Art, Life, Legacy: Northern European Paintings in the Collection of Isabel and Alfred Bader, Sept. 29-Jan. 28, 2024
MILWAUKEE BALLET milwaukeeballet.org
Dracula, Oct. 26-29
Artistic Director Michael Pink’s early masterpiece is both terrifically entertaining and a manifesto of his values as a ballet choreographer. Those include a commitment to serious storytelling with fully-dimensional characters and resonant themes, great respect for dancers and designers, for virtuosity and artistry in service to a greater whole, and to equality and inclusiveness. The story holds up.
MILWAUKEE CHAMBER THEATER milwaukeechambertheatre.org
Laughs in Spanish, Sept. 22-Oct. 8
Ah, the problems of the art world: The protagonist’s gallery is an active crime scene, she has no art to show and her television star mother arrives promising to help. The award-winning comedy by rising playwright Alexis Scheer “serves a laugh minute” according to one reviewer. Milwaukee Chamber Theatre presents the Midwest premiere of Laughs in Spanish. (Morton Shlabotnik)
MILWAUKEE CHILDREN'S CHOIR milwaukeechildrenschoir.org
MILWAUKEE COMEDY milwaukeecomedy.com
Milwaukee Comedy Festival, Oct. 1-8
Now in its 18th year (time rushes by!), the festival includes such headliners as Kyle Kinane, Todd Barry, Kelly Ryan and Dave Stone. Festival venues include the Pabst Theater. Shank Hall, Lakefront Brewery and Milwaukee Comedy’s home base, the Laughing Tap in Walker’s Point. (David Luhrssen)
42 | SHEPHERD EXPRESS SPECIAL FALL ARTS GUIDE | SPONSORED BY MILWAUKEE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
Milwaukee Ballet Company (2015 Dracula). Photo Mark Frohna. Courtesy Milwaukee Ballet.
Illustrations by Tim Czerniakowski.
SEPTEMBER 2023 | 43
MILWAUKEE FESTIVAL BRASS mfbrass.org
MILWAUKEE FILM mkefilm.org
Cultures & Communities Festival, Oct. 5-12 (Oriental Theater)
MILWAUKEE FRINGE FESTIVAL mkefringe.com
MILWAUKEE INSTITUTE OF ART & DESIGN GALLERY miad.edu
MILWAUKEE IRISH ARTS milirisharts.wordpres.com
MILWAUKEE JAZZ INSTITUTE milwaukeejazzinstitute.org
Toty Ramos Sextet, Sept. 16
Russ Johnson Quartet, Oct. 21
MILWAUKEE MUSAIK milwaukeemusaik.org
MILWAUKEE OPERA THEATRE milwaukeeoperatheatre.org
Night of the Living Opera, Oct. 28Nov. 5 (Broadway Theatre Center)
The music for Night of the Living Opera was composed by Andrew Dewey with a libretto by Josh Perkins (of the Angry Young Men puppet troupe) that follows George Romero’s 1968 screenplay with several digressions. MOT veteran Julianne Perkins is credited as cocreator. “My favorite thing was when the composer said, ‘The zombie chorus is a descending minor 3rd,’” says MOT’s Artistic Director Jill Anna Ponasik. “I’ve been really pleased by the way the music features the voice. It doesn’t sound derivative to me. It’s tonal. If I had to put it in a category, I’d say it’s cinematic in its sweeping expressivity.”
MILWAUKEE REPERTORY THEATER
Country Sunshine: The Legendary Ladies of Nashville with Katie Deal, Sept. 8-Oct. 29
Run Bambi Run, Sept. 13-Oct. 22
The story could have been invented for the tabloids—but much of it was true. Lawrencia Bembenek was a Milwaukee cop, a Playboy bunny, a convicted criminal (the case was dubious) and a wanted fugitive. The Violent Femmes’ Gordon Gano, a hometown boy at the time her story broke, has composed a rock musical on her life and times. Mark Clements directs the world premiere. (David Luhrssen)
Parental Advisory: A Breakbeat Play, Sept. 26-Oct. 29
44 | SHEPHERD EXPRESS SPECIAL FALL ARTS GUIDE | SPONSORED BY MILWAUKEE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
Graphic courtesy of Milwaukee Repertory Theater.
SEPTEMBER 2023 | 45
Illustrations by Tim Czerniakowski.
MILWAUKEE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA mso.org
Beethoven 5, Sept. 22-24
Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 remains one of the most enduring works of the classical era, the music exemplifying defiance in the face of adversity. As a young man, Franz Schubert was inspired by Beethoven and the old composer responded warmly. The MSO pairs several Schubert songs with Beethoven’s 5th and brings the 19th century into the present with work by contemporary composers Daniel Kidane and Eleanor Alberga. Ken-David Masur will conduct and guest-star bass-baritone Dashon Burton will sing. (David Luhrssen)
Brahms, Stravinsky & Prayer for Ukraine, Sept. 29-30
Violent Femmes, Oct. 3
Josefowicz & Bolero, Oct. 20-22
The Nightmare Before Christmas, Oct. 28-29
MILWAUKEE YOUTH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA myso.org
MILWAUKEE YOUTH THEATRE milwaukeeyouththeatre.org
MORNING STAR PRODUCTIONS morningstarproductions.org
History Mystery: The Frontier, Sept. 23-24, Oct. 28-29
MUSEUM OF WISCONSIN ART wisconsinart.org
The Street: At the Intersection of Art and Public Space, through Oct. 15
Isaac Harris: Bad as Can, through Oct. 15
Lewis Koch: Garage Exteriors, through Oct. 15
MOWA | DTN (SAINT KATE-THE ARTS HOTEL)
Taj Matumbi: Hot House, through Oct. 8
I knew from the moment I saw the paintings being carried into the gallery by the curators that something spicy was cooking. A palette of mustardy yellows, burnt pinks, and saturated greens hemmed in by blocks and bands of inky, umbery reds and browns. Each painting I saw toted into the space uncapped a new array of seductively odd, saturated colors: orange, violet, ochre, mint green. Visions of Mardi-gras, Kenté cloths, batik prints, Hans Hoffman and the 1980s Denver Broncos uniforms flashed through my mind. (Shane McAdams)
MOWA ON THE LAKE (ST. JOHN’S ON THE LAKE)
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DASHON BURTON | MSO
Photo by Jonathan Kirn. Courtesy of Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.
SEPTEMBER 2023 | 47
NEXT ACT THEATRE nextact.org
NORTHERN SKY THEATER northernskytheater.com
Guys on Ice, through Sept. 1, Gould Theater
Guys & Does , through Sept. 2, Gould Theater
OCONOMOWOC ARTS CENTER oasd.k12.wi.us
Tusk: The Ultimate Fleetwood Mac Experience, Sept. 9
Salsa Manzana, Sept. 16
Eric Lunde, Sept. 23
Main Stage Academy of Dance, Dracula, Oct. 6-8
PENINSULA PLAYERS peninsulaplayers.com
Trying, through Sept. 3
Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery, Sept. 6-Oct. 15
Arthur Conan Doyle probably didn’t think his star detective was funny, but the Holmes-Watson team become the subject for comedy in this spoof of one of the most familiar (and frequently adapted) murder mysteries. Slapstick meets suspense in a production that includes talk of murder and mayhem but no on-stage violence. (Morton Shlabotnik)
PHILOMUSICA QUARTET philomusicaquartet.com
Splash Hatch on the E Going Down, Sept. 20–Oct. 15,
Young, working-class parents deal with life in a world of hazards in playwright Kia Corthron’s Splash Hatch on the E Going Down. Director Cheryl Lynn Bruce explores environmental racism in the story of a 15year-old pregnant girl named Thyme. Her 18-year-old husband works a hazardous demolition job. Thyme knows all too well why her husband’s health is declining in this contemporary drama.
NŌ STUDIOS nostudios.com
NORTH SHORE ACADEMY OF THE ARTS facebook.com/ northshoreacademyofthearts
Four Guyz in Dinner Jackets, Oct. 12-15
Broadway Tonight Live, Oct. 21
OIL GALLERY MILWAUKEE oilmilwaukee.com
OPTIMIST THEATRE optimisttheatre.org
OUTSKIRTS THEATRE facebook.com/outskirtstheatre
OVER OUR HEAD PLAYERS overourheadplayers.org
Kringle the Musical Part IV: 7 Mile Fair Lady, Oct. 20-29 (6th Street Theatre, Racine)
PAINT CEDARBURG: A PLEIN AIR PAINTING EVENT cedarburgpleinair.com
Season Colors, Oct. 9 (Wisconsin Lutheran College Schwan Concert Hall)
PORTRAIT SOCIETY GALLERY portraitsocietygallery.com
Thomas Antell: Empire, Sept. 15-Nov. 11
Tom Antell is an Ojibwe artist who has lived on the Lac Courte Oreilles reservation near Hayward, Wisconsin since 2001. His work deals with issues relating to Native culture both past and present. Antell refers to Ojibwe writer Gerald Vizenor: “Survivance is an active sense of presence, the continuance of native stories, not a mere reaction, or a survivable name. Native survivance stories are renunciations of dominance, tragedy and victimry.” (Morton Shlabotnik)
SPECIAL FALL ARTS GUIDE | SPONSORED BY MILWAUKEE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
Graphic courtesy of Next Act Theatre.
SEPTEMBER 2023 | 49
Die Stadt Ohne Juden/ The City Without Jews , Oct. 29 (Milwaukee Art Museum)
In 2015, a copy of a legendary lost silent film was discovered at a Paris flea market. The 1924 City Without Jews is surreally prophetic, an account of the deportation of the entire Jewish population of a great city, sent by trains to uncertain destinations. In light of the Holocaust, it’s an unsettling experience. Olga Neuwirth’s original score for electric and acoustic instruments, composed after the The City’s discovery, will be performed at the film’s Milwaukee debut by Present Music. “It has a lot to do with the current political climate,” says PM’s Co-artistic Director Eric Segnitz. (David Luhrssen)
PROMETHEUS TRIO wcmusic.org
Haydn, Schumann, Reena Esmail, Oct. 24 (Wisconsin Conservatory of Music)
QUASIMONDO PHYSICAL THEATRE
RACINE ART MUSEUM ramart.org
Women and the WPA: As Seen through RAM’s Collection, through Sept. 16
Open Close Front Back: Contemporary Art Jewelry Design, through Sept. 16
RAM Showcase: Four Jewelers and the Artists of Color Acquisition Fund, through Jan. 13, 2024
Gathering Voices at RAM: 20 Years of Building America’s Largest Contemporary Craft Collection, through Feb. 24, 2024
RAM Showcase: Focus on Clay, through May 25, 2024
RAM’s First 20 Years: A Visual History of the Art and Architecture, through July 20, 2024
RACINE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA racinesymphony.org
RACINE THEATRE GUILD racinetheatre.org
The Cemetery Club, Sept. 15-Oct. 1
Ivan Menchell, Emmy-nominated for his Showtime series “Bedtime,” is the author of this comedy about three widows who meet regularly for tea before visiting their husband’s graves. They are a study in contrasts: Ida is sweet-tempered and ready to begin again; Lucille is feisty and wants to have fun; and Doris is judgmental— especially when Ida finds romances. Ellen Burstyn, Olympia Dukakis and Diane Ladd starred in the film version. (Morton Shlabotnik)
Seasonal Allergies , Oct. 27-Nov. 12
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Illustrations by Tim Czerniakowski.
SEPTEMBER 2023 | 51
REAL TINSEL GALLERY realtinsel.com
Rosebuds and Sidewalks Ends, through Sept. 3
My Favorite Words Are: I Love You and All the Bad Words,” Sept. 8-Oct. 15 Edging Elsewhere, Oct. 20-Dec. 3
RENAISSANCE THEATERWORKS r-t-w.com
SACRA NOVA CHORALE sacranovacathedrale.com
To Everything there is a Season, Oct. 22
SAINT KATE - THE ARTS HOTEL saintkatearts.com
Magic Hour: Intersections of Contemporary Film and Fiber Art, through Sept.11 (The Space)
SEAT OF OUR PANTS READER THEATRE mkereaderstheatre.com
SHARON LYNNE WILSON CENTER FOR THE ARTS wilson-center.com
Frances Luke Accord, Sept. 15
William Kent Krueger, The River We Remember, Sept. 22
Garrison Keillor with Heather Masse & Richard Dworsky, Sept. 23
Harmonious Wail, Oct. 4
SHEBOYGAN THEATRE COMPANY stcshows.org
Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Sept. 29-Oct. 7
SKYLIGHT MUSIC THEATRE skylightmusictheatre.org
Candide, Oct. 13-29
Witch, Oct.22-Nov. 12
Contemporary playwright Jen Silverman draws on Jacobean drama for inspiration for her dark comedy about a devil bargaining for souls. Suzanne Fete directs a cast that includes Marti Gobel, Neil Brookshire, Joe Picchetti, Reese Madigan and James Carrington. (Morton Shlabotnik)
Madison’s Harmonious Wail, richly influenced by European Roma musicians, blends an eclectic array of styles including Django Reinhardt inspired jazz, Eastern European swing, American jazz standards and contemporary folk, to create their own distinctive sound. (Morton Shlabotnik)
Foreigner 4 Ever & Ain’t That America, Oct. 7
Merz Trio, Oct. 13
Joel Shapira & Charmin Michelle, Oct. 20
Leonard Bernstein was a Renaissance man among 20th century classical composers, writing for Broadway, hosting a musically inspirational television show, conducting Mahler and composing in many classical genres. One of his Broadway shows was an operetta based on Voltaire’s Candide. The version Skylight will perform follows the 1974 book by Hugh Wheeler (with additional lyrics by Stephen Sondheim). (David Luhrssen)
SOUTH MILWAUKEE PERFORMING ARTS CENTER southmilwaukeepac.org
Free Fallin’: A Tom Petty Concert Experience, Sept. 21
The Zombies, Oct. 14
Sincerely Sondheim featuring Nicholas Rodriguez, Oct. 18
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Graphic courtesy of Renaissance Theaterworks.
Illustrations by Tim Czerniakowski.
SEPTEMBER 2023 | 53
Dad’s Season Tickets , Sept. 7-24
Piano Man: Billy Joel Tribute, Sept. 18-19
The Sound of Music , Oct. 12-15
Blithe Spirit, Oct. 19-Nov. 5
A writer decides to contract the services of a spirit medium in the interest of getting material for his next book. After the séance, the writer’s very assertive ex-wife begins to haunt him in ways that only an intimate relation can. It’s a very clever idea that could go wrong so many ways, but since this is Noël Coward’s Blithe Spirit, it’s going to be good. (Morton Shlabotnik)
David Seebach: Illusions in the Night, Oct. 20-22
Denver, Diamond and Dylan, Oct. 23-24
SUNSTONE STUDIOS sunstonestudios.mke
THEATRE GIGANTE theatregigante.org
Three Other Sisters , Sept. 29-Oct. 1
Theatre Gigante bring back Isabelle Kralj and Mark Anderson’s 2010 production based on a Montenegrin folk tale of unrequited passion. With music and dance, a sailor wordlessly woos three sisters who should know better. Three Other Sisters asks: At what point,” Kralj’s character asks, “does a choice become an obvious mistake?” (David Luhrssen)
Torch Song, Oct. 21-22, Oct. 27-29 (Inspiration Studios)
THIRD AVENUE PLAYHOUSE, STURGEON BAY
The Mystery of Irma Vep, Oct. 4-22
THRASHER OPERA HOUSE, GREEN LAKE
thrasheroperahouse.com Yarn, Sept. 9
Coco Montoya, Sept. 30
The Small Glories, Oct. 6
Dan Rodriguez, Oct. 7
The Britpack, Oct. 14
TORY FOLLIARD GALLERY toryfolliard.com
35th Anniversary Group Exhibition, through Sept. 9
UW-PARKSIDE THEATRE uwp.edu/the rita/ theatreperformances.cfm
UW-MILWAUKEE PECK SCHOOL OF THE ARTS uwm.edu/arts/events
Woven Images 2013, Sept. 15-29 (Kenilworth Square East)
Diego Campagna Classical Guitar Concert, Sept. 22 (Music Building)
Barrenechea-Salles Duo, Sept. 28 (Music Building)
Crossing Over, Oct. 5-Nov. 3 (UWM Union Art Gallery)
Korea Day Symphony Concert, Oct. 6 (Zelazo Center)
State Fair, Oct. 11-15
The Moors , Nov. 1-5
UWM UNION ART GALLERY email@example.com
UW-WHITEWATER CROSSMAN GALLERY uww.edu
UW-WHITEWATER YOUNG AUDITORIUM uww.edu
Charlie Berens: Good Old Fashioned Tour, Sept. 8
Ensemble Español, Sept. 30
VAR GALLERY & STUDIOS vargallery.com
Var Gallery Presents Eric Pedigo, Sept. 1
VILLA TERRACE DECORATIVE ARTS MUSEUM villaterrace.org
Supernova, Sept. 14- March 10, 2024
A Different Kind of Garden, through Sept. 24
Tension, through Dec. 24
VILLAGE PLAYHOUSE villageplayhouse.org
VOICES FOUND voicesfoundrep.com
Richard II , through Sept. 2 (Inspiration Studios)
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Illustrations by Tim Czerniakowski.
SEPTEMBER 2023 | 55
WALKER'S POINT CENTER FOR THE ARTS wpca-milwaukee.org
Annual Members Show, Sept. 8-Oct. 7
WAREHOUSE ART MUSEUM wammke.org
Pause/Connect: Photography in the WAM Collection, through Nov. 10
WATER STREET DANCE MILWAUKEE waterstreetdancemke.com
WAUKESHA CIVIC THEATRE waukeshacivictheatre.org
12 Angry Men, Sept. 15-Oct. 1 (Mainstage)
Born to be Wild, Sept. 27-28 (Cabaret)
Natural Shocks , Oct. 7-15 (Mainstage) Men on Boats , Oct. 27-Nov. 12 (Mainstage)
WEST ALLIS PLAYERS westallisplayers.org
The Nerd, Oct. 6-8, Oct. 13-15
WEST BEND THEATRE COMPANY westbendtheatreco.com
Sylvia, Oct. 6-8, Oct, 13-15
WEST PERFORMING ARTS CENTER nbexcellence.org/ community/westpac.cfm
WILD SPACE DANCE COMPANY wildspacedance.org
WINDFALL THEATRE windfalltheatre.com
WISCONSIN CENTER wisconsincenter.com
WISCONSIN CONSERVATORY OF MUSIC wcmusic.org
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Charles Searles. Young Girl, n.d.. Gelatin silver print. 2 ¾ x 4 in. From the Warehouse Art Museum Collection. Photographed by Avery Pelekoudas. Courtesy of Warehouse Art Museum.
WALKER'S POINT CENTER FOR THE ARTS
Photo by Michael Burmesch.
WISCONSIN CRAFT wisconsincraft.org
MKE Studio Tour, Sept. 30-Oct. 31
WISCONSIN LUTHERAN COLLEGE CENTER FOR ARTS AND PERFORMANCE wlc.edu
Tret Fure, Oct. 6 (Unity Center)
WISCONSIN MUSEUM OF QUILTS & FIBER ART wiquiltmuseum.com
Quilts Japan, through Dec. 3
WISCONSIN PHILHARMONIC wisphil.org
No Strings Attached, Sept. 28
Romantic Milestones, Oct. 27
WOODLAND PATTERN BOOK CENTER woodlandpattern.org
WUSTUM MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS ramart.org
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WISCONSIN CRAFT | MKE STUDIO TOUR
Photo courtesy of Wisconsin Craft.
A STORY ABOUT WINE AND GREAT CHEFS PART TWO
BY GAETANO MARANGELLI
hef Paul Bartolotta of the Bartolotta Restaurants won the James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Midwest at
rante di Mare at the Wynn Las Vegas in 2009. He has worked alongside some of the world’s most acclaimed chefs, including Paul Bocuse and Roger Vergé, and at some of the world’s most acclaimed restaurants, including La Maison Troisgros and Taillevent. As a young, aspiring chef in Milwaukee, Paul learned his most valuable culinary lesson as an apprentice for Chef John Marangelli, my father.
On Thursday, Sept. 28 at Ristorante Bartolotta in Wauwatosa, Paul is offering a tribute dinner to John Marangelli. Paul will host the dinner, which will serve John’s classic dishes as Paul describes how he evolved into one of the world’s great chefs. (For more information about the dinner, please go to the Bartolotta’s Restaurants website.)
As Paul begins the story, the first couple of months as an apprentice in John’s kitchen didn’t suggest a path to glory.
“John would say, ‘There’s an order here for Chicken Caruso’ (a classic Marangelli dish). And he starts putting all of the ingredients on a plate. So, I took out my little notepad. I wrote down exactly what the ingredients were, and roughly how much of them there were. Another order comes in. It’s Cappuccini ai Fettucini (another classic of the Marangelli kitchen). He shows me how to cut the beef medallion. He never let me cut the meat because it was too expensive, and he was afraid I was going to mess it up. But I would get all of the other ingredients ready. And every time an order would come in, I would set the plate. I’d have all the ingredients to make the dish on the plate. And then he’d tell me whether it was a cast iron pan or a sauté pan or whatever he was going to make the dish in.
“So for six months I washed his pans, and I prepped his plates, and I watched him cook, and I plated his dishes, and I tasted them. But I never cooked anything. And I was frustrated. I said to my dad (the great Milwaukee opera and theater impresario Tudy Bartolotta), ‘I never get to cook anything. I’m just a glorified dishwasher.’
“My dad asks, ‘How’s the food?’
“‘Oh, the food’s amazing!’
“‘How do you know?’
“‘Because I get to taste everything. I taste everything before it goes out.’
“So one night, the waiter puts in the first order. I prepare the plate and heat the pan. The waiter puts in another order. I prepare the plate and heat the pan. And John walks off the line in the kitchen, lights himself a cigarette, pours himself a cup of coffee and grabs a chunk of Ambrosia chocolate. The waiter puts in a third ticket, and says, ‘Hello? These people want to have dinner tonight.’
“John says to him, ‘Paul’s cooking tonight.’
“I’m like, ‘No, I’m not. I’ve never made a single dish.’
“‘Paul, you know how to make them. What’ve you been doing here for six months?’
“‘I’ve been washing your pots and pans and prepping your plates.’
Photo courtesy of Gaetano Marangelli.
Chef Paul Bartolotta and my father, Chef John Marangelli, circa 1978.
Photo by Roxiller/Getty Images.
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Chef John Marangelli. Photo courtesy of Paul Bartolotta.
“The waiter puts in another ticket, and I say, ‘John!’
“And he says, ‘Paul, cook the goddamn food.’
“And as soon as I started putting oil in the pan, I realized that every time he was making a dish, I was standing right next to him, watching him. And I knew exactly how to make every dish. And I knew exactly how every dish should taste.
“I learned from John the most valuable culinary lesson of my life. If I have any one gift that puts me at a very high place in the culinary world, it’s that I have an ability to make delicious flavors. There are chefs that are more technical, and there are chefs that are more creative, but I think the whole game is won on taste, and my flavors stand with anybody’s. Not everyone may like my taste, but I have clarity of taste.
“And I created a formula that I use when I do speaking engagements. John taught me that the balance of ingredients, plus cooking time, plus cooking temperature, equals taste. He understood that magic. And that was his greatest gift.”
Gaetano Marangelli is a sommelier and playwright. He was the managing director of a wine import and distribution company in New York and beverage director for restaurants and retailers in New York and Chicago before moving to Wauwatosa.
A LESSON FOR WINE LOVERS
“Cultivate your palate!”
That was my father’s seven-syllable dictum. My father was Chef John Marangelli, and his dictum asks you to cultivate your palate for wine, as well as food.
Cultivating your palate means asking more of yourself. It asks you to mistrust wines with big, easy, smooth aromas and flavors. The kinds which ask nothing of you. The kinds which talk at you. Cultivating your palate asks you to look for wines with aromas and flavors which challenge you. The kinds which ask you to talk with them.
I think of cultivating your palate like the kinds of people you might meet at a dinner party.
You may meet somebody who talks a lot and makes you laugh. He speaks loudly and turns every subject into a story about him. He asks nothing of you. Then again, he leaves you with nothing to say. If he were a wine, you’d leave the party weary.
You may also meet somebody at the party who challenges you, who leaves you shifting in your seat, who hears what you have to say. She asks questions of you. She makes you ask questions of yourself. She speaks softly, and what she says is charged with energy. If she were a wine, you’d talk deep
Photo by PeopleImages/getty Images.
My father's passion for food and wine also inspired me. One of the wines which changed my life was a bottle he introduced me to over a midnight dinner at his Brown Port restaurant. A 1982 Tenuta San Guido Bolgheri Sassicaia. A great vintage of a great wine. A bottle which made me realize the power of wine to metamorphose you.
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Bottle photo by Gaetano Marangelli.
OKTOBERFEST 2023 guide
BY BARRY HOULEHEN
Gemütlichkeit (ge'mytlix,kait) noun. warm cordiality; agreeableness; friendliness; congeniality.
It's time once again to dust off your Alpine hat, get those lederhosen and dirndls out of storage, and head out for some Wisconsin-style Bavarian blue-and-white-checkered Oktoberfests.
They're all over the greater Milwaukee area so there's no excuse not to hoist a few steins, have a brat and a pretzel, sing a few Ein Prosits, and take a spin on the polka dance floor this year!
Photo courtesy of VISIT Milwaukee.
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Illustrations by Michael Burmesch.
BAVARIAN BIERHAUS OKTOBERFEST
Old Heidelberg Park at the Bavarian Bierhaus
700 W. Lexington Blvd., Glendale
Thursdays through Sundays
Sept. 1-Oct. 8
This is the big one: six four-day weekends (Thursday through Sunday, except opening weekend) of Oktoberfesting at Old Heidelberg Park at the Bavarian Bierhaus in Glendale. It can get busy Friday nights and Saturdays so if you want a seat, be sure to reserve a picnic table (links on their website). Get your fill of German beers, the best bands and food including Usinger's sausage, schnitzel and doner kebab plus Friday Fish Fry and plenty of polkas and Ein Prosits at Milwaukee’s oldest Oktoberfest.
Thursdays and Sundays
Fridays $5, Saturdays $10 (discount available with their app)
Open 4 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 11 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays
Tables reservations (table of 8): Fridays $10, Saturdays $40
Opening day Sept. 1 free keg tapping of Oktoberfest at 6 p.m.
SEPTEMBER 2023 | 65
Photo courtesy of VISIT Milwaukee.
Cathedral Square Park
520 E. Wells St., Milwaukee
Friday–Sunday, Oct. 6 – 8
The Downtown fest at Cathedral Square is back for three days in October with free admission and lots of German beer and food from Kegel’s Inn. They have pre-sale drink packages for beer and food specials available on their website, a full lineup of German music, and must-see events like the brat eating competition, Miss Oktoberfest competition, cornhole tournament, and of course, the weiner dog beauty pageant.
$2 wristband to consume alcohol (proceeds go to Music in the Park)
Friday, 4–11 p.m.
Saturday, 11 a.m.–11 p.m.
Sunday, 11 a.m.–6 p.m.
GERMANTOWN HUNSRUCKER OKTOBERFEST
Dheinsville Historical Park
Holy Hill Road, Hwy 145/Fond du Lac
Ave. & Maple Road, Germantown
Saturday–Sunday, Sept. 23– 24
Where else would you find a great Oktoberfest than in a place called Germantown? This two-day fest has free admission and parking and an entertainment schedule of nonstop polka music and German dancers plus accordion favorites Copper Box. Don’t miss the Dachshund Dash (benefitting the Washington County Humane Society) on Saturday and the car show on Sunday.
Free admission and parking
Saturday Noon–11 p.m.
Sunday Noon–7 p.m.
Saturday–Sunday Oct. 7–8
The only Oktoberfest in the area to feature a Glockenspiel Cuckoo Clock Show, this Ozaukee County fest also has craft beers from the local Fermentorium brewery as well as 3 Sheeps from Sheboygan (bring your own stein or buy one at the fest), as well as wines from Cedar Creek Winery. It's in Downtown Historic Cedarburg, which they'll have set up for German bands and dancers, German food and desserts, and a marketplace with vendors and artists.
Saturday 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
ELM GROVE OKTOBERFEST
Elm Grove Village Park
13600 Juneau Blvd., Elm Grove
Friday–Saturday Sept. 15–16
For some Waukesha County gemütlichkeit, this Friday-nightSaturday Oktoberfest offers some fun competitions, a beer-wine-ciderseltzer tent, a fun run, food trucks and live music. Events include the always popular stein hoisting competition, keg rolling, log sawing and stein races.
Friday 5–10 p.m. (Fun Run 3:30 p.m.)
Saturday 4-10 p.m.
OKTOBERFEST AT THE SCHWABENHOF
N56 W14750 Silver Spring Drive, Menomonee Falls
Friday–Saturday Sept. 22-23
The Schwabenhof is a year-round German-themed venue in Menomonee Falls with a beer hall and a spacious biergarten. It's the home of the United Donauschwaben of Milwaukee, a cultural organization that promotes German language, sports, food and customs, and especially dancing. So their Oktoberfest offers an authentic atmosphere with, of course, plenty of German beers, music and dancing.
Free admission, rain or shine
Friday and Saturday, 4–11 p.m.
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Photo courtesy Festivals Of Cedarburg Inc.
Illustrations by Michael Burmesch.
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Estabrook Park Beer Garden
4600 Estabrook Pkwy, Milwaukee
Saturday Sept. 16
Hey, dogs like German festivals too! Maybe they can't hoist pints, but they sure like to get together with their dog buddies while their humans have fun, and that's what they'll find at Estabrook Park Beer Garden on the North Shore. There will be agility and lure courses for the pups and fine beer for their peoples, and it's all for the benefit of the Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission.
SAINT AUGUSTINE OKTOBERFEST
Saint Augustine of Hippo Catholic Church
2350 S. Howell Ave.
Sunday Sept. 24
Saint Augie’s in Bay View is one of those churches that hold really fun church festivals. Sure, the other fests have stein hoisting contests, but do theirs have the Milverine and alderwoman Marina Dimitrijevic? Didn't think so! Plus their food offerings have some serious German comfort food: beef rouladen with spätzle and red cabbage, apple streusel, German potato salad, and of course, brats, franks and pretzels. For all your polka needs, Jeff Winard and The Squeezettes will be on hand.
OUR LADY OF LOURDESMILWAUKEE OKTOBERFEST ARTISAN FAIR
Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church
3722 S. 58th St., Milwaukee
Friday–Sunday October 13–15
It’s a church Oktoberfest that’s also an art show and raffle and it features live music including polka, Friday fish fry and more.
OUR LADY OF LOURDES MILWAUKEE OKTOBERFEST
Photo courtesy of Our Lady of Lourdes Milwaukee.
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Photo courtesy of VISIT Milwaukee.
Illustrations by Michael Burmesch.
Just in Time for Autumn: An Overview of Milwaukee's Hard Cider Scene
BY ELIZABETH LINTONEN
With the autumn chill rapidly approaching, there’s no better way to get in the spirit of the season than to experience one of the many local cideries the Milwaukee area has to offer. With a wide range of products, flavor profiles, hard cider options, and more, each cidery of-
fers a distinctive experience crafted from a place of passion for all things cider. Whether you’re looking for barrel-aged red wine, hard cider made from the fruit of local orchards, or the perfect place to spend a fall afternoon, look no further than these five cidery/wineries.
Photo by Sara Statha. Courtesy of AeppelTreow Winery.
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SPECIAL FALL DRINK CIDERIES
1072 288th Ave.
Located in Burlington, Æppel Treow offers cider straight from the Brightwoods Orchard, which grows over 200 kinds of apples and pears. The location is also a distillery with an emphasis on Wisconsin grown products. Selections are offered in several styles; sparkling, using the champagne method, draft, table, fortified or distilled, and the first three styles have a semi-sweet or dry option based on preference. “My personal favorite is our Orchard Oriole Perry. It’s made from proper English perry pears, estate grown, and is uber dry, tannic, and astringent,” says Charles McGonegal, president and ciderwright of Æppel Treow. “We have very traditional ciders from old varieties of apples or pears, and we have modern flavored ciders. We have something from pears in every style.” Æppel Treow offers tastings, some complimentary, some available for a cost by the glass, can, or flight. With their extensive range of local products, this cidery is a must-stop for any seasonal beverage enthusiast this fall.
APPLE WORKS WINERY
W179 N12536 Fond du Lac Ave. (262) 677-1000
Germantown’s Apple Works Winery is known for renowned, barrel-aged red wines, crisp white wine and their reserve collection. Originally an orchard, Apple Works is now a sprawling place for all things wine, priding themselves on a unique wine experience unlike any other. Some options include the buttery Chardonnay with green apple accents, the velvety Black Malvoisie, and the award-winning Jennlynn with notes of grapefruit and pineapple, as well as many more. Kevin Behnke owns Apple Works, and has been a wine visionary for decades, dedicated to delivering wine while honoring the rich history of the property.
Background woodgrain by -slav-/Getty Images.
Photo courtesy of Apple Works Winery.
APPLE WORKS WINERY
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Photo courtesy of Apple Works Winery.
POMONA CIDER COMPANY
2163 N. Farwell Ave., Milwaukee (414)347-1515
Pomona Cider Company is a hard cider company located in the heart of Milwaukee’s East Side that boasts a diverse selection of hard ciders, in addition to non-alcoholic beverages and tasty snacks. Hard cider options range from semi-sweet, semi-dry and dry, with food to accompany any beverage, and a Sunday brunch menu for any mid-morning needs. “Our food menu complements our ciders perfectly, featuring savory snacks like in-house flavored potato chips, focaccia and honey butter, build your own charcuterie board, and a tempting pretzel board,” says owner Tom Gabert. “My personal cider favorites include the Brut Reserve, Apple Cherry, and Spruce Tip varieties. However, you can’t go wrong with Hopped Apple, Brut in a Barrel and Island Orchard’s flagship Brut Apple. Our ciders are crafted in a Normandy/New World style, known for their drier and more tannic profiles. Since our opening in April of this year, we have created three exceptional ciders on-site. Our latest creation is the Spruce Tip cider, with a balanced and complex flavor profile.” While they do not currently offer tours, there is much to be anticipated when it comes to the future of Pomona Cider Company.
LOST VALLEY CIDER COMPANY
408 W. Florida St. firstname.lastname@example.org lostvalley.com
Lost Valley Cider Co. is structured similarly to a craft beer bar but dedicated to hard cider. The emphasis is on welcoming people of all levels of cider into the experience, incorporating ciders from all over the Wisconsin area and beyond. “We welcomed cider newbies and cider fans and new cider brands over the past seven years and have loved expanding the category of cider for the city of Milwaukee,” says Chandra Rudolph, co-owner/general manager. “More than half of our ciders come from the Midwest, and we have ciders from California to Vermont.” Lost Valley offers trivia nights on Wednesday starting at 7 p.m. and live music happy hour on Fridays from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Lost Valley is a great space that cultivates quality in the Milwaukee cider scene.
Photo courtesy of Lost Valley Cider Co.
LOST VALLEY CIDER CO.
POMONA CIDER CO.
by -slav-/Getty Images. 72 | SHEPHERD EXPRESS SPECIAL FALL DRINK CIDERIES
Photo courtesy of Pomona Cider Co.
2612 S. Greeley St. Suite 123 (414) 841-6360
Focusing on individual apple varieties that are often overlooked, Cache Cider is committed to finding a flavor for a wide range of cider connoisseurs. Owner Ethan Keller began as a musician, playing for audiences across the Milwaukee area, but Keller’s multifaceted nature and interest in beverage experimentation have led him to the world of hard cider. Keller’s original flavors range from light, to sweet, to caramelly, to classically flavored with varying levels of astringency. The Bay View neighborhood is home to this gem of the Milwaukee cider scene.
Elizabeth Lintonen is a regular contributor to shepherdexpress.com.
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Photo by Carl Stevens (@thecarlstevens on Insta).
Emotional Support Animals Enhance Mental Wellbeing
BY CATHERINE JOZWIK
In recent years, the therapeutic benefits of pets have been promoted by scientists and mental health professionals. For example, the presence of a friendly dog or cat can be very calming, reducing blood pressure and improving mental well-being. For these reasons, pet therapy programs are increasingly being integrated into senior living communities and hospitals.
Emotional support animals (ESAs) provide comfort to those with psychological or emotional conditions such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). “Emotional support animals’ official qualifications are that they reduce negative symptoms of a diagnosed psychiatric disorder,” said Garrett Wilk, a therapist with Shoreside Therapies in Whitefish Bay.
Animals with calm, patient demeanors that are easily trainable, including miniature horses and dog breeds such as Labrador and golden retrievers, beagles, and corgis,
tend to make the best emotional support animals. However, animals of many species, including cats, pigs, ferrets, rabbits, snakes, chickens, rats, guinea pigs and even monkeys, have served as ESAs.
Unlike service or therapy animals, which are typically trained to help individuals perform certain tasks, no certification is needed for an animal to be designated as an ESA. An individual “simply needs a letter from a licensed mental health professional, prescribing that the individual’s pet is an emotional support animal,” said Wilk.
IT’S THE LAW
The Fair Housing Act (FHA) grants protections to those with emotional support animals. In 2017, Wis. Act 317 was passed to expand “the scope of the state’s open housing law to specifically prohibit discrimination against persons with disability-related needs for assistance animals,” according to a May 2018 newsletter by the Wisconsin Realtors Association (WRA).
Under Wis. Stat. 106.50 (2r)(br), “if an individual has a disability and a disability-related need for an emotional support animal, it is discrimination for a person to refuse to rent or sell housing to the individual, cause the eviction of the individual from housing, require extra compensation from the individual as a condition of continued residence in housing or engage in the harassment of the individual because he or she keeps such an animal.”
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that public places, including state and local government agencies, businesses, and nonprofit organizations, reasonably accommodate service animals (places of worship are exempt). However, these protections do not apply to ESAs. According to www.disabilityrightswi.org, “emotional support animals are specifically not covered under the ADA.” Moreover, Wisconsin workplaces are not required to make modifications for employees with ESAs.
As the law does not require ESA owners to undergo training or a certification process for their pets, Wilk feels that many people view the effectiveness of ESAs with skepticism, as some owners claim ESA status for their pets as a matter of convenience—for example, to avoid paying pet deposits and fees to landlords.
“I worry that people who legitimately have strong therapeutic reasons to have an animal and specially trained animals may be judged or delegitimized if people simply use the ESA label for convenience to thwart rules and regulations. I have had people, who didn’t want to do evidence-based therapy, reach out to me simply to get an ESA letter. I would not write an ESA letter for someone I am not currently seeing for a reasonable period of time,” he said. “The evidence on whether emotional support animals are effective is mixed, and requires more research to help clinicians understand how support is being given, and who might be a good fit for an emotional support animal. I would love to see more research on how and when animals can be used therapeutically.”
74 | SHEPHERD EXPRESS SPECIAL PETS | SPONSORED BY TAILS N' TRAILS PETS LLC
Catherine Jozwik is a Milwaukee writer.
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The Rep Debuts ‘Run Bambi Run’ with Music by Gordon Gano
BY BLAINE SCHULTZ
By the time Lawrencia Bembenek’s story was splashed across headlines, Gordon Gano’s focus was on the early touring days with the group he became best known for. “That was around the time I was getting in a van and going around the country and trying to get this thing called Violent Femmes going,” the songwriter recalls.
Bembenek, the Milwaukee Police Officer turned-Playboy Club waitress-turned-murder suspect, became a cause célèbre. Eventually escaping prison, she took it on the lamb with the Mounties catching up with her in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Winning the right to a new trial, she pleaded no contest and was set free.
The new musical based on her case, Run Bambi Run, runs Sept. 13–Oct. 22 at Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s Quadracci Powerhouse. Mark Clements directs from the book by Eric Simonson with music and lyrics by Gano.
A phone call out of the blue from a former Femmes associate connected with The Rep positioned Gano to write for Run Bambi Run. Gano began by writing three songs to give The Rep an idea of what he’d propose to do. They remain in the production.
“From the very first phone call until now is probably 10 years. It has been a long, well-thought-out process with rewrites, drafts and shifts,” Gano says. “But there has always been forward movement.”
Gano recalls that Simonson offered suggestions for places where songs would work to “musicalize the text.” Simonson wrote additional lyrics by taking parts of dialogue and making them into songs. Their collaboration seems pretty fluid.
“From my perspective it’s fascinating in that there has been so much collaboration,” Gano says. “I’m used to writing something and, if I like it, that’s it. It’s been really interesting to watch while being a participant.” He adds that Simonson’s experience directing modern opera was a big plus. “I guess I like his taste in music,” Gano laughs, “because he first thought of me.”
Gano’s history, albeit tenuous, to the Milwaukee Rep goes back to when he was 15 years old. Both of his parents were actors and his father’s connection with the Rep led to Gano landing a personal audition with Robert Redford for the film Ordinary People. “My abilities as an actor?” he laughs, “that was my peak.” Timothy Hutton got the part.
Graphic courtesy of Milwaukee Repertory Theater.
Mark Clements (Director), Gordon Gano (Music), and Eric Simonson (Writer).
Photo courtesy of Milwaukee Repertory Theater.
Gordon Gano (Music), and Eric Simonson (Writer).
Photo courtesy of Milwaukee Repertory Theater.
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Background by Natalya Bosyak/Getty
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Mark Clements (Director) and Eric Simson (Writer). Photo courtesy of Milwaukee Repertory Theater.
As a storyteller, Gano’s best work has long put the listener inside the head of the protagonist. While the angst-ridden tunes from the Femmes’ debut album continue to strike a nerve, “Country Death Song” from their second album, Hallowed Ground, takes three chords and a simple melody into a harrowing space, conjuring Flannery O’Connor and William Faulkner. Not bad for the son of a Baptist reverend from Oak Creek.
Because so much was reported in the Bembenek case, there was never a question of taking license. “But there is a matter of selecting and choosing and how things are presented … certainly, the people in the real events didn’t break out into a song, so in that sense it’s not realistic,” Gano explains. “But it is true to the facts journalistically, we are not making up anything. We are just drawing from those sources and making selectins how to tell the story.”
Years before Run Bambi Run, the lore of Bembenek’s story had been connected to music. When she was in the news, Bob Dylan was backstage at a Milwaukee concert and asked a local musician, “Do you think she did it?” Upon her release Bembenek’s celebrity status even put her on stage at the 1993 WAMI Awards where she presented the trophy for best new act.
“There is still a question. There are strongly held differing opinions,” Gano says about the story that inspired the production. Some of the people who were in the story are still alive.
Asked if he has an opinion about Bembenek’s guilt or innocence, “the simple answer is no,” Gano says. “But there is so much there that raises more than an eyebrow and problems related to a system and themes that are still with us today. I’ll stick with Dylan on this one.
“I get the feeling that a lot of people have their mind made up (about Bembenek’s guilt or innocence), or that this would make a good musical, or they think it is a terrible idea,” he continues.
There is a lot of humor, comedy, tragedy, sorrow, violence and anger in the work and the story is a “crazy wild ride,” he says. “I’d would like people to actually see it and hear it. I think that it allows for some different points of view, and it is asking the audience, ‘What do think?’”
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Gordon Gano will also be in Milwaukee for the Violent Femmes concert with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Oct. 3 at the Bradley Symphony Center.
Mark Clements (Director), Gordon Gano (Music), and Eric Simonson (Writer). Photo courtesy of Milwaukee Repertory Theater.
Blaine Schultz is a veteran Milwaukee musician and staff writer for the Shepherd Express
Buffalo Nichols Ventures into New But Familiar Frontiers on Latest Album
BY JOSHUA M. MILLER
When Milwaukee native Carl Nichols—the songwriter, guitarist, and vocalist who tours under the moniker Buffalo Nichols— moved back after a brief stint in Austin, Texas, it was easy to pick up where he left off and record his latest album The Fatalist, which is out September 15.
“It’s home. Everything's very familiar,” Nichols says. “Everything is what it was growing up, so it's all just coming back to what I'm used to.”
What has changed is that his profile as Buffalo Nichols has grown tenfold in the past couple of years following the release of his self-titled debut on Fat Possum Records.
The album earned him rave reviews from NPR and Rolling Stone, various major festival performances and his network television debut on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” One of his favorite moments was participating in the Playing for Change video series that highlighted artists big and small.
“It’s all been very cool,” he says. “I haven’t had much time to just sit back and look at what’s happened. It just keeps moving forward or moving somewhere. It’s a good feeling, overall.”
While he’s thankful for being back in Milwaukee, he’s also grateful for the abundance of opportunities he found in Austin and Texas that helped him to his current success.
“In Milwaukee you really have to work 10 times as hard to get half the work done,” he says. “I don’t know if I could do what I’m doing if I hadn’t left, but I’m trying to see if I can use that momentum to come back in Milwaukee and keep it going.”
While in Texas, he didn’t forget his Milwaukee roots. He says it felt weird when people started referring to him as an Austin or Texas artist and had to correct them as he had spent his whole creative career in Milwaukee. He even recorded most of his debut here.
“Part of me just always had that chip on my shoulder,” says Nichols. “I always try to correct people and say, ‘No, I’m
Photo by Samer Ghani.
SEPTEMBER 2023 | 79
not really from Austin, I’m from Milwaukee,’ but it was just really hard to combat that once it got going. But I just believed, and I still believe that Milwaukee has something special, and I wanted to come back and try to contribute to that, to the city that I grew up in.”
From the beginning, Buffalo Nichols has been a very DIY-centric project. Nichols says Milwaukee inspired that mindset. “It wasn’t really something that I planned, it was really out of necessity,” he says. “I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to just sit in the studio for a week and get the album done and then hand it out to somebody to mix it and pay an engineer to sit there while I figure stuff out. I knew the only way I was going to be able to make an album close to what I had in my head, I was going to have to do it myself.”
For The Fatalist, he spurned the urge to go bigger and better and recorded, self-produced and mixed it all from his home. While the album features special guests with Milwaukee connections—Jess McIntosh plays violin on a couple of songs and singer Samantha Rise contributes vocals on “This Moment”—he felt it was important to center the album around himself and his own thoughts.
“All these experiences that I’ve accumulated, I tried to put into this album, and reject the current trajectory of a lot of artists in the world of roots music, which is very much relying on credibility from famous studios and famous musicians and all these things, and just put the emphasis more on the music than where it was made or who played what on it,” he says. “That’s the do-it-yourself mentality. You don’t always have access to these things, so you figure out how to do it on your own.”
One of the biggest differences from his debut is that Nichols improvised and experimented more. He experimented with 808 programming, added samples and utilized synthesizers on some songs. He said it’s a culmination of the 10-plus years he spent making music for himself and recording at home and figuring things out on his own.
“The foundation of some of my experimenting was if you could take these songs and just produce them in a somewhat modern way, would people be able to relate to it? Which parts of these songs are so important?” he says. “Because electronic music is more related to this than what people consider the blues today. The kind of blues-rock thing that is most associated with the blues today is so much more removed from that than what I’m doing. But it’s going to take more effort for me to convince people that this is the blues, and it exists somewhere in between.”
For example, his cover of Blind Willie Johnson’s “You’re Gonna Need Somebody on Your Bond” formed as a result of him collecting and making music out of samples. He took a vocal sample from Charley Patton’s version of the song and built his version around it with a unique mix of hip hop, electronic music, and acoustic blues.
Lyrically, the album is just as ambitious. Nichols tackles themes of identity and purpose inspired by the last few years of his life and questions such as “what’s important?” and “how much say do you have in the way that your life goes?” that he’s been asking often since 2019.
CHOSE TO SURVIVE
“Especially coming out of the pandemic, a lot of people started to reprioritize things,” says Nichols. “Immediately it became clear that you don’t really often get to choose what is important, you just have to do what is necessary to survive. And in trying to survive, you just have to do certain things. And that, to me, opens the questions of fate.
“Under certain circumstances, you have to do certain things to survive. Can you change the course of your life? Can you make different decisions? Can you do different things or has everything already been ... not in a cosmic sense, necessarily, an omni benevolent creator has decided your fate, but maybe the forces in the world, government, religion, capitalism, have all laid out a plan for you that is too powerful for you to escape?”
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Photo by Samer Ghani.
For example, “Turn Another Stone” was inspired by his feelings from traveling and “knowing so many people who travel.” It’s a theme that appears frequently in his music because as a musician “you spend a lot of time traveling and a lot of time alone and a lot of time looking for something.”
This fall, Buffalo Nichols will be back on the road. He’s most excited to play with a band, something he hasn’t done since taking on the moniker. He’s also really excited to get out and see people’s reactions to his music.
Joshua M. Miller is a local music writer and frequent contributor to the Shepherd Express. You can follow his work on Twitter at @JoshuaMMillerWI.
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Album cover courtesy of Buffalo Nichols.
This Month in Milwaukee 9 THINGS TO DO IN SEPTEMBER
BY ALLEN HALAS,
THROUGH SEPTEMBER 2
“FAUST IN MARIENBAD, by Rosen Green”
A gripping connection is made in this exhibit when Kaoru Arima’s portraits along the Green Gallery’s long, marquee wall meet our eyes. Their gazes are piercing, even haunting. Their manner is expressive, and the paint application juicy and loose. They flirt for a second with the legacies of soul capturers like Alice Neel, David Hockney, and Max Beckman. However, as time is spent with each individual 25 x 20 inch-portrait, their individuality begins to dissolve.
Tigera, Clementine, Secret Menu
Few bands have been able to match the excitement of indie rock quintet Tigera in recent months. That momentum leads up to the release of Be My Light, a new EP from the band on Sept. 7, and they will celebrate with a release show at Bay View’s Cactus Club. The show also features indie up-and-comers Clementine and Secret Menu, making for a full night of buzzy pop-rock that will likely fill up the venue.
King Myles, Eli $tones, Mo’City, Mayyh3m
After some extended time off, rapper and Hiii Tribe collective founder King Myles is back with his album, Virtual Recluse, and he’ll celebrate the new project with a release show at Cactus Club. The show also features some of the most entertaining live performances in Milwaukee hip hop right now, with Camp Shuttlesworth member Mo’City, the hyperpop-leaning Eli $tones, and the lyrical venom of Mayyh3m. An array of local hip hop will take over for the night, and it’s not to be missed.
Fairport Convention’s 1968 debut album would send Iain Matthews on a path he is still traveling. Matthews first gained attention as a founding member and vocalist for the British folk-rock band which evolved into that county’s analog to The Band. His discography includes work with Matthews’ Southern Comfort, Plainsong and many albums under his own name. The 1994 documentary Compass & Chart Volume 1 and Thro’ My Eyes: A Memoir from 2018 vouched to his past even as Matthews’ career continues to evolve.
Laughing Liberally Milwaukee
Laughing Liberally continues as a Shepherd Express podcast but has returned to the stage after a long, pandemic-induced lull. Hosted by satirist Matthew Filipowitz, Laughing Liberally finds the humor in the mindless rightwing assault on democracy and skewers leading figures in the Trump-controlled GOP. Comedians on the Sept. 16 bill include Chastity Washington, Dana Ehrmann, Bobby Hill, Marcus Lara and the Accountants of Homeland Security. On a more serious note, they will also interview Angela Lang from BLOC (Black Leaders Organizing for Communities). Show begins at 8 p.m.
Bully, Wombo X-Ray Arcade
Nashville indie rockers Bully have a long history with Milwaukee, and they’ll come back to town on Saturday, Sept. 16 in support of their latest, Lucky For You, which came out in June. The band is certainly capable of playing larger venues than Cudahy’s X-Ray Arcade but seem to prefer the intimacy of being in a club as opposed to a ballroom or theater. Support comes from Louisville band Wombo, who are touring in support of their recently released Slab EP.
Sarah Thankam Mathews
Boswell Book Company
Funny, thoughtful, and poignant, Sarah Thankam
Matthews’ latest novel, All This Could Be Different, is a moving story of queer love, community, friendship, and what it means to build a life. When the protagonist Sneha moves to Milwaukee for an entry-level job, she is confronted with new crushes, questions of culture, and learns what it means to be a young person connecting amidst struggle. Join Sarah Thankham Mathews, 2022 National Book Award Finalist, at Boswell at 6:30
p.m. to hear more about this compelling new story.
ELIZABETH LINTONIN, DAVID LUHRSSEN, SHANE MCADAMS AND BLAINE SCHULTZ
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Photo by Jurica Tomic/Getty Images.
Speedy Ortiz, Poolblood X-Ray Arcade
Over the last decade, Massachusetts band Speedy Ortiz has been one of the names floating around contemporary indie rock, turning heads with just about every appearance. While once the exciting fresh faces on the block, they’ve become a contemporary mainstay, and will visit Milwaukee just days after releasing their fourth album, Rabbit Rabbit. The band will be joined by Torontobased act Poolblood at X-Ray Arcade for another big show that is almost certain to sell out.
Songwriter Nick Cave’s self-destructive lifestyle decades ago in bands The Birthday Party and The Bad Seeds hardly suggested he’d one day be honored with the Order of Australia Officer Royal Society of Literature (AO FRSL) for “distinguished service of a high degree to Australia or humanity at large.” While he’s gone on to become a novelist and playwright, Cave is best known for the depth of his lyrics—referring to his songs as “little dangerous bombs of truth.” His concerts, conflagrations really, ultimately are exchanges of energy between performer and audience.
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The ChatBot Will See You Now
BY PHILIP CHARD
Rudimentary AI-powered tools have assumed the role of psychotherapist for some time now. Automated apps using standard algorithms spitting out canned responses have provided various iterations of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), the so-called gold standard of talk therapies. Many of these apps employ technology similar to what also drives electronic assistants like Alexa and Siri. They can be helpful to some folks but are limited in their ability to respond to individual circumstances or crises, and in providing more human-like, empathic responses.
But so-called “large language model” AI programs, or chatbots (think ChatGPT or Google Bard), are much more sophisticated, and they are moving rapidly into the psychotherapy realm. Not long after ChatGPT emerged in the public domain, folks began using it informally as a counseling resource. Online forums, like Reddit, are full of personal accounts in this regard, many of them positive. Some users assert these programs are superior to their human counselors. What’s more, increasingly, large mental health providers and advocacy groups utilize chatbots to augment or even replace human therapists.
In some instances, these robot therapists are simply used to screen incoming clients, provide standardized assessments or help determine the best human resource for their concerns. In other situations, they become “therapist assistants” that reduce the administrative burdens on human shrinks by automating record keeping, administering diagnostic tests and the like. However, increasingly, they are standing in for flesh-and-blood mental health professionals. And, make no mistake, the demand is there. Some of these chatbot therapy programs have millions of downloads.
CONVENIENT IF ARTIFICIAL
On the upside, experts believe these chatbots can address the supply-demand imbalance plaguing the mental health field. There simply aren’t enough shrinks to go around, and many people can’t afford the high cost of human care. As one colleague put it, “A robotic therapist is better than none at all.” What’s more, these AI programs are convenient, allowing access day or night and eliminating the discomfort of traveling to an appointment, as well as the public exposure of sitting in a waiting room. Many people who are already very comfortable with interactive technology will find them attractive.
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Illustrations by Tim Czerniakowski.
On the downside, the artificial intelligence powering these programs, while impressive and improving rapidly, remains artificial. Their smarts come not from sensory-based experiences, the province of humans and other animals, but through information, and lots of it. Some mental health chatbots absorb voluminous studies describing evidence-based approaches to psychotherapy (which is good), taking in far more data in less time than any human could possibly assimilate. This information informs their decision-making algorithms which operate on facts rather than intuitions or gut feelings, which human therapists often lean on a great deal.
These newer AI programs are potential game changers. Mental Health America has created a robotic therapy program based on the ChatGPT algorithm, one that has been used by over 50,000 people. How does it work? The user types in negative thoughts and the program replies with what therapists call “reframing” responses that offer positive alternatives. This is essentially the same process used by cognitive-behavioral therapists. The difference with these more advanced programs is that the chatbot’s responses are not canned generalizations. Rather, they are specifically tailored to the user’s unique inputs and drawn from the program’s vast library of behavioral science information.
Granted, it is still an algorithm, meaning it does not reflect what techies call “general artificial intelligence,” the kind most closely approximating human cognition. It’s only a
matter of time before this next iteration emerges. What’s more, installing these advanced AI capabilities in humanoid robots, already widely used in several Asian nations, will further blur the lines between human and robotic therapists.
The question remains: how will humans relate to and interact with robots, no matter how intelligent? Research offers some clues. For example, most people can distinguish between a response from a chatbot and a human therapist, yet, over half the folks in this study rated the chatbot’s responses more empathic. Another study showed that most people develop a trusting relationship with a therapist chatbot within four days of exposure. Trusting relationship is another term for rapport, previously thought to be entirely the province of species-to-species interaction. Overall, while interacting with a chatbot shrink, most of us will humanize them in our minds.
As is true in many fields, mental health treatment will be revolutionized by AI. And while human-to-human therapy will remain valued and used, a new and potentially powerful ally has entered the struggle against mental distress and suffering. Properly used and absent the toxicity of greed, I see mostly good.
Philip Chard is a psychotherapist and author with a focus on lasting behavior change, emotional healing and adaptation to health challenges. For more, visit philipchard.com.
SEPTEMBER 2023 | 85
LET HER TRAMP STAMP SHINE
I have a friend who flirts (and often sleeps) with everyone! We can’t have a fun girls night out because if any of us talks to a guy, she cuts in and demands his attention. The other girls in our group want to cut ties with her, but I’m not sure.
She’s out of control in social settings but I feel she’s a valuable friend. The others don’t agree. How can I keep the peace between everyone?
Congrats for not “slut shaming.” Take it from a broad who knows … it’s not always easy to let your tramp stamp shine.
If you feel your gal pal has something to offer in regard to friendship, stick with her. In other words, maintain a relationship with her if you want to regardless of what others think.
It may be time for your friend to separate from this particular group of ladies, but that doesn’t mean you need to end your friendship with her—or with them, for that matter. Relish the friendships you have with these women individually. Doing so will decrease the pressure to “keep the peace” and shift your focus to your own happiness where these relationships are concerned.
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Ruthie's Social Calendar
"ONE VISION OF QUEEN" AT PABST THEATER (144 E. WELLS ST.): Calling all Freddy Mercury fans! Marc Martel takes center stage during what’s being billed as “the world’s most spectacular Queen tribute show.” Don’t miss the excitement when you reserve a ticket via www.pabsttheatergroup.com.
"DIANA ROSS: THE MUSIC LEGACY TOUR" AT MILLER HIGH LIFE THEATER (500 W. KILBOURN AVE.): One of the grandest divas of our lifetime returns to Milwaukee with her latest tour. Celebrate Diana Ross’ No. 1 hits during the lavish 8 p.m. concert. See www.pabsttheatergroup for details and tickets.
PRIDE NIGHT AT MILWAUKEE REP (108 E. WELLS ST.): Don’t miss the debut of the rock musical Run, Bambi, Run featuring songs by Gordon Gano (Violent Femmes). After the 6 p.m. cocktail hour, you’ll enjoy the outrageously true tale of Lawrencia “Bambi” Bembenek and her entanglement in a Cream City murder. Run to www.milwaukeerep.com for the Pride Night offer, and I’ll see you there!
BABY JANE HUDSON’S BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION AT FREIGHT 38
(838 S. FIRST ST.): Local drag legend Baby Jane Hudson makes her return during this 4 p.m. open-to-the-public bash. Best of all, the party doubles as a fundraiser for the family of recently deceased entertainer Dixie Kuppe. Enjoy food, raffles, door prizes and drink specials as well as a 6 p.m. show.
LESBIAN POP-UP BAR AT THE CARDINAL BAR
(418 E. WILSON ST., MADISON): This monthly, roving pop-up bar takes things in a new direction (literally) with a stop in Mad City. See a few old faces and make a few new friends during the popular 6 p.m. party.
ALL LGBTQ+ CAST OF LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS AT JANESVILLE PERFORMING ARTS CENTER (408 S. MAIN ST., JANESVILLE): Rock County LGBTQ+ Committee and DEFY Domestic Abuse Beloit present this exciting production of the kooky musical audiences can’t get enough of. See www.janesvillepac.org for tickets.
MARGARITA FEST AT TRIPOLI SHRINE CENTER (3000 W. WISCONSIN AVE.): Margarita madness reigns supreme during this 6th annual festival. Sample some of the state’s best margaritas and vote for your favorite between noon and 4 p.m. You’ll also find food trucks, tacos and more, so get your tickets today at www.shepherdexpress.com/upcoming-events.
HOCUS POCUS AT WALDVOGEL’S FARM (N7416 COUNTY ROAD I, JUNEAU): Whether you love the Sanderson Sisters or simply can’t wait for Halloween, you’ll conjure up a good time at this two-day event. Hit up Wisconsin’s largest pumpkin farm where you’ll find the whacky witches and so much more. Visit www.waldvogelfarm.com for details.
JOHN OLIVER LIVE IN CONCERT AT MILLER HIGH LIFE THEATER (500 W. KILBOURN AVE.): HBO’s own leftwing superstar hits Milwaukee with his hilarious take on life, love and, of course, politics. See why the Emmy-winner is taking the country by storm when you purchase tickets via www.pabsttheatergroup.
DEAR RUTHIE BROUGHT TO YOU BY SEPTEMBER 2023 | 87
Milwaukee’s Theater Season 2023-24 features an LGBTQ Theater’s Revival and a Reprise or Two
Milwaukee’s Theater Season 2023-24 features an LGBTQ Theater’s Revival and a Reprise or Two
BY PAUL MASTERSON
The upcoming 2023-24 LGBTQ theater season begins where it ended last season, namely, with a Boulevard Theatre reading of Joshua Hamon’s Significant Other Back by popular demand for those who were unable to see the show due to the sellout performance last June, the reprise takes place on Saturday, Sept. 9, at the Boulevard’s Bay View venue, Sugar Maple. Director Mark Bucher has invited the cream of Milwaukee’s LGBTQ leadership to attend as well (hopefully, they’ll show up). On Sept. 30, Boulevard presents the Wisconsin premiere of noted American playwright Bruce Graham’s romance Stella and Lou. The Boulevard plans yet another performance in the spring .
Speaking of reprises, this season’s big news is the return of Theatrical Tendencies (TT). Founded in 2010 as Milwaukee’s first and only LGBTQ dedicated theater troupe, its opening two seasons took place at the Milwaukee Gay Arts Cen -
ter. The company closed in early 2012 to be revived shortly thereafter at a new location, Soulstice Theatre. When that venue closed in 2017, TT found itself once again on hiatus. Announcing its return in March 2019, TT’s planned reopening was then thwarted by the COVID pandemic.
Now, TT is finally back (this time for sure) for its seventh season. Its new home is Inspiration Studios (IS) in West Allis. Both TT’s Mark E. Schuster and IS owner Erico Ortiz expressed their enthusiasm about their collaboration. "I like the venue and its intimacy. All of our shows are small cast so they will work out well. Rehearsal space is available there as well. Everything is there," Schuster said, continuing, "Inspiration Studios’ space fits the size of our stories. But it’s also small enough to let the audience fill in the rest with their imagination. The story is what matters. All the rest is set dressing."
Photo by RuslanShevchenko/Getty Images.
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Ortiz, too, is looking forward to combining forces with TT. "We are so honored to host serious LGBTQ theater and provide the community with this incredible opportunity to experience it," Ortiz said.
TAKING ON ‘TORCH SONG’
TT’s opening production is Harvey Fierstein’s Torch Song (a new, modified 2018 version of the 1978 Torch Song Trilogy. Schuster explains his choice, “Relevant representation matters now more than ever. The movie version was always a favorite of mine. I loved the story and the lead character, Arnold, a Jewish, gay, drag queen confronting fear. There’s so much in the script—drag, adoption, coming out, bisexuality, searching for love and acceptance. It comes down to a universal message, gay or straight, respect is all you need.”
Staging Fierstein’s 1978 classic and competing with the playwright’s own performance is one Schuster is eager to take on. “I’m ready to make it work for our audience. It will be interesting to see and develop the character. There is a line referring to his voice (unto itself unmistakably Fierstein) so that presents a particular challenge.” Torch Song’s six performance run begins October 20.
TT’s season continues in February, with The Submission by Jeff Calbert. “I was interested in The Submission because of the race issue. It’s about a gay playwright writing about a Black family. The author hires a woman of color to present as the imaginary playwright while he still controls things from behind the scenes. Calamity ensues.” as Schuster explains, adding, “It’s an interesting interplay of relationships and shaky alliances. Of course, it tries to answer the question, can a gay white playwright write about a Black family?”
Christopher Durang’s Tony Award winning Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike follows in June. Schuster admits having always been a fan of Durang and notes, “It’s outrageous at times. Disney costumes are involved and I’m a fan of that, too.” Evolving around the lives of three adult siblings the play (as the title suggests) is inspired in part by Anton Chekov but certainly presents its own take on family rivalries, real versus assumed identities and older versus younger generations.
Asked about his season’s choices, Schuster replied, “People ask why I don’t do lighthearted fare. One thing has always been important to me—I want the audience to leave with something emotional and go out and make change in our world. Our shows encouraged people to do that. In The Sub mission, for example, the character of the playwright isn’t a great person. We want to see all of our community.”
In all, Schuster sees a long future for Theatrical Tendencies as the place for LGBTQ theater saying, “Other theater companies have a Pride Night. At TT, every night will be Pride Night”
Paul Masterson is an LGBTQ activist and writer and has served on the boards of the Milwaukee Gay Arts Center, Milwaukee Pride, GAMMA and other organizations.
SEPTEMBER 2023 | 89
FROM THE CITY THAT ALWAYS SWEEPS
FROM THE CITY THAT ALWAYS SWEEPS
BY ART KUMBALEK
I’m Art Kumbalek and man oh manischewitz what a world, ain’a? So listen, it’s now September, and what a song of a month it should be, you think?
For starters, finally, the predicted autumn leaves at some point in time are about to fall, and as I’ve said before, for a guy like me that can only mean that the summertime is finally soon to crumble and about time for crying out loud, what with the heat, humidity/ dewpoint, noisy racket and outdoor insects that seem to find their way inside. Can’t use it, I kid you not.
So yes, September already, what the fock. Seems to me like it was just August, and now out of nowhere we’re into the ninth month of the year? (Although, through a tad of research, I found this: As to the “Old English from Latin: the seventh (month) according to the original calendar of ancient Rome, from septem seven.”) That means that September, technically, ought to be the seventh month of the year and not the ninth. Jesus H Christ, my head spinneth, what the fock.
And don’t forget that September marks the return of Lord Football and circled on my South Sea Strumpets monthly calendar is Sunday, Sept. 10, when our beloved Green & Gold are scheduled to storm Lambeau Field so’s to demolish Da’ Bears from out of Chicago, once again.
Which reminds me of a little story, perhaps you’ve heard tell and if so, now you’re going to hear it again:
So this family of football fans from Chicago heads out one Saturday to do their Christmas shopping. While in the sports store, the young son picks up a Jordan Love Green Bay Packers jersey and says to his older sister, “Hey Sis, I’ve decided to become a Packer fan and I’d really like this for Christmas.” She can’t believe it, smacks him on the head and says, “You better go talk with mom.”
And off he goes with the Packer jersey in hand and says to his mother, “Hey Mom, I’ve decided I’m going to be a Packer fan, and I’d really like this jersey for Christmas.” The mother is outraged, smacks him on the head and says, “Go see your father.”
So the young lad finds his father and says, “Dad, guess what? I’m going to be a Packer fan, and I’d really like this Jordan Love jersey for Christmas.” The father is so beside himself that he whacks his son on the head and says, “No son of mine is ever going to be seen in THAT piece of crap!”
About a half-hour later they’re all back in the car heading toward home. The dad turns to the boy and says, “Son, I hope you’ve learned something today.” The son says, “Yes pop, I have. I’ve only been a Packer fan for about an hour, and already I’ve learned to hate you Illinois sons-of-bitches.” Ba-ding!
There is one downside to September for me, which is when I hear the words “back to school.” To this day, I still get
the heebie-jeebies. And I’m a guy who hardly went to focking school even when I was going to school back at Our Lady In Pain Because You Kids Are Going Straight To Hell But Not Soon Enough. I believe it’s called Back-ToSchool-Syndrome (or BTSS, as the TV commercials for drug-pills would name it), and it’s not uncommon among veteran survivors of the old-school parochial school system, I kid you not.
I’ve been told that a symptom of the syndrome is an overwhelming urge to skip out of doing something you don’t feel like doing. I brought this up to my buddy Little Jimmy Iodine who set me straight and eased my mind. He said, “Artie, I’ll bet you a buck two-eighty that this need to skip out of stuff is some kind of misguided attempt to recapture the temporary joy you experienced as a lad whenever you skipped goddamn school. Yes, you were partaking in at-risk behavior, in that you could’ve been run over by a school bus while attempting to duck the truant officer. But big focking deal. Life is temporary. At least you would’ve died doing what you loved best—focking off.” Thank you, Jimmy.
What a world, what a universe, and as the song says: “When the autumn weather turns the leaves to flame,” I hope these precious days serve you well, ’cause I’m Art Kumbalek and I told you so.
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Photo by nesharm/Getty Images.