Michael Horne
Plenty of Horne

World’s Straightest Parade?

No parade has a straighter route, or a gayer crowd, than the annual Pride Parade, coming Sunday.

By - Jun 6th, 2013 10:27 am
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The Milwaukee Pride Parade will step off Sunday, June 9th at the intersection of S. 2nd St. and W. Greenfield Ave., beneath the Allen Bradley Clock Tower. It then proceeds due north on S. 2nd St. for about a mile, until the parade disbands at W. Seeboth Ave. No parade could have a straighter route, or a gayer crowd. The reviewing area for the parade’s many units is at W. National Ave., where Jon Alan Bauer, a.k.a. Lizzie Bordeaux will announce the units as they pass by Fluid Bar. The sidewalk, if history is any example, will be filled several layers deep with parade watchers along the entire route. Neighborhood families, many of them immigrants, also watch the parade as they would any other, and add a festive touch of their own to the proceedings. Even non-gay places like Just Art’s, at the northern end of the parade route, set out chairs and grills to watch the action.

All of this is perfectly in accordance with the mission statement of Milwaukee Pride Parade, Inc., which reads: “The parade is held in the Milwaukee area where many of the gay-friendly bars and establishments are located, but attracts citizens from all over Southeastern [Wisconsin] and from all walks of life. The parade helps educate and eliminate prejudice and discrimination, as well as lessen neighborhood tensions.”

The parade is a low-budget affair, and is run by Milwaukee Pride Parade, Inc. In 2010, the most recent year for which tax information is available, the parade organizers received $5,920 in support, and spent $9,192 putting on the event, the overwhelming majority of which went to costs like traffic control, permits and portable toilets. (Ms. Bordeaux works for tips) . The deficit of $3,272 was eventually made up with various fundraisers at taverns along with contributions from supporters, including area businesses.

This is the first year that the parade will pass Lucky Joe’s Tiki Room, 192 S. 2nd St., which for decades was the Ball Game, an old-school gay bar of the type that is rapidly disappearing from our city and culture. Other gay establishments on the parade route like C’est La Vie (now Zak’s Cafe, 231 S. 2nd St.) and Club 219 (now nothing) have long since passed from the scene, particularly as events like the parade and Pridefest have helped the straight community to find a common cause with the gays, especially where the matter of community is involved. (Let’s keep those tensions lessened!)

Among other changes along the route, Zak’s may have its patio to the north of the building completed by the time of the parade. The parade will also pass 216 S. 2nd St. which will soon be the home of the Black Sheep tavern.

Pridefest This Weekend

Gay Pride Flag. Photo by flickr user torbakhopper.

Gay Pride Flag. Photo by flickr user torbakhopper.

The Milwaukee Pride Parade is just one event this weekend with a gay theme. June 7th – 9th, 2013 is also the 26th annual Pridefest in Milwaukee. This event has gone from a tiny gathering of gays who endured being picketed by right-wing groups as they celebrated in Juneau Park to one of the largest such events in the nation, held on the Summerfest grounds. There were some rocky years in the past, and expenses often exceeded revenues, according to tax records. In 2010, the last year for which tax information is available, Pridefest, Inc., brought in $547,107 in revenue, but had expenses of $761,841. The next year was also a financial challenge, according to Scott Gunkel, the President, who serves without pay, as do the other directors.

But appeals for financial support and sponsorship along with strong attendance (and good weather for a change) brought record revenues and 28,137 attendees to the event in 2012.

Pridefest, Inc. says its mission is to “educate both the general community and the gay and lesbian community with regard to all aspects of the gay and lesbian lifestyle. To accomplish this, Pridefest, Inc. produces an annual gay and lesbian pride celebration.”

Mayor’s Design Awards

Westlawn Gardens.

Westlawn Gardens.

The Mayor’s Design Awards ceremony was held May 23rd at the UWM School of Architecture and Urban Planning. As usual, the event featured Dean Robert Greenstreet delivering the shtick while Mayor Tom Barrett played Teller to Greenstreet’s Penn, mutely delivering the awards to the recipients at a rapid clip.

Guests were greeted by a cash bar, which judging from the prices ($5 beers, $7 wines) may alone account for the University of Wisconsin System’s $1 billion in secret reserve funds.

The food was free, though, and included “Rollers” [club, vegetable], “Sliders” [Buffalo Chicken, Beef Tenderloin], “Bites” [Bratwurst, Honey mustard-glazed Polish Sausage] and “Dips” [Artichoke Parmesan, Hummus, Tabouleh].

The attendees, for the most part, were the developers, architects and owners cited for the evening’s honors. Everybody took home a trophy! Public officials were few. In addition to the Mayor (they are his awards, after all) Aldermen Nik Kovac, Bob Bauman and Terry Witkowski came by for the festivities.

After the initial graze, Greenstreet gathered the crowd into the theater for his presentation. His is the only architecture school in the state of Wisconsin, he reminded the guests, adding that one of the best things his school has going for it is its “partnership with the city.”

He has two watchwords for Mayor’s Design Award potential. “One — everything is important — an alleyway, a tower. Two — the whole must have more than the sum of its parts.”  Greenstreet said these design efforts are “well supported by the Mayor,” who broke in to say, “This is an evening that I love.”

Barrett gave some clues into the mysterious process by which the awards are selected. “We look for things, and get recommendations from aldermen and from the districts. We go through it with staff and experts.”

And beyond looking for things? Well, the mayor reviews the suggestions. “The staff might point to some building, but I will say, ‘I like that one’. … But everything showing here tonight adds to the quality of life in Milwaukee.”

“I hear about the detractors, but not about the great, great things going on in the city.”

Greenstreet explained his role in the decision-making process. “Design is an objective thing, which is why I am right.”

Some of Greenstreet’s comments on winners:

  • Beerline B Apartments — “Fills missing gap on the Riverwalk, cheeky use of color.”
  • Alterra Cafe Bay View — “Difficult site. As much attention paid to outside as to inside space. … A new Milwaukee phenomenon. A great addition.”
  • Clock Shadow Building — “Good architecture has stories. An urban cheese factory. That’s great. Glorious stories here.”
  • Westlawn Gardens — “An incredibly rich mix. The city does public housing very well, with style and dignity. A radically reconstructed neighborhood.”
  • P&H Shovel Monument — “A monument doesn’t have to be a man sitting on a horse.”
  • Hilton Garden Inn & Suites Downtown [Loyalty Building] — “Best atrium space in Milwaukee. Perfect interior space, City Hall being the other one. It lifts your spirits to be in this building.

The mayor concluded the evening’s remarks with a lament that there were “no [TV] cameras here.” He thanked the developers, owners and architects (many of them UWM grads) saying their investments show “they believe in the city. There are no cookie-cutter projects here. One constant is that the city is always changing. … We need ambassadors to talk about the great things that are going on here.”

More Interesting News

My First Peekaboo Ultrasound WI LLC has been incorporated in Delafield by Jeremy Rodekuhr. What a darling name! … Sen. Chris Larson and Sen. Nikiya Harris have opened a joint home office in the basement — make that the lower level — of 318 N. Milwaukee St., where Coquette Cafe is located. At an open house, I asked Larson if he would introduce legislation to begin the long process necessary to repeal Wisconsin’s constitutional prohibition of gay marriage. Such legislation would not likely succeed with the current legislature, or any other until 2020, based on the state’s gerrymandered districts, but I figure it would at least get the issue into the polls, so the Republicans can see how out-of-date they are vis-a-vis public opinion. “We’re working on the budget first,” Larson said. … The Eco Pet “Mindful Happiness Holistic Center” (we’re nothing but darling names today) has relocated two doors to the west and can now be found at 1217 E. Brady St. in the former home of Vieux et Nouveau boutique, which is no longer operating retail. … The Rockefeller Foundation is celebrating its centennial with a $100 million global “100 Resilient Cities Challenge.” You can follow the link to nominate Milwaukee.