Amy Elliott

Recent Articles

Head over heels for Detroit’s (and Milwaukee’s) “Hidden History”

Head over heels for Detroit’s (and Milwaukee’s) “Hidden History”

Former TCD/VITAL editor Amy Elliot Bragg returns to Milwaukee this Thursday to promote her new book, "Hidden History of Detroit."

PODCAST: Molly Rhode, 63 kids and the Best Christmas Ever
PODCAST

Molly Rhode, 63 kids and the Best Christmas Ever

Molly Rhode was a member of the Theater Academy when she first appeared in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Now, she's at it again. Also, listen for the awesome children's chorus.

PODCAST: Laurie Birmingham charts her course
PODCAST

Laurie Birmingham charts her course

Our series on actors continues with Laurie Birmingham, who tells a seldom-heard tale about the profession — burning out, losing your passion and plotting an uncertain course for the future.

PODCAST: Matt Daniels and theater as barroom
PODCAST

Matt Daniels and theater as barroom

What if a theater were like a bar — a place where you could show up, meet your community and see what's going on? Isn't telling a joke in a bar a kind of theater as ancient as cave paintings and firepit storytelling?

PODCAST: Todd Denning, journeyman actor, settles at First Stage
PODCAST

Todd Denning, journeyman actor, settles at First Stage

Todd talks about his Minnesota childhood, the exciting life of the journeyman performer and how he finally settled in Milwaukee as an actor, director, teacher and stage combat choreographer.

PODCAST: The energizing legacy of Theatre X
PODCAST

The energizing legacy of Theatre X

While much has been made of the decline and fall of Theatre X, John Kishline and Deborah Clifton believe that a new breed of regional fringe and DIY theater groups are carrying the torch.

PODCAST: Brett Favre — merely a player, and football the stage?
PODCAST

Brett Favre — merely a player, and football the stage?

Actor, playwright and sports commentator David "Copperfield" Begel joins Mark to discuss Wisconsin's own prodigal son through the lens of the Greek Olympian tradition and more.

PODCAST: Trial and error with Dwellephant
PODCAST

Trial and error with Dwellephant

Dwellephant will try anything once, and he's not afraid if he fails. A hand-painted graphic novel? Live art? Political cartoons? Why not!

PODCAST: Modus Operandi director Frankie Latina
PODCAST

Modus Operandi director Frankie Latina

"Sex, drugs and violence: it's hard to reach a wider audience if you don't follow those rules." Mark Metcalf interviews Modus Operandi director Frankie Latina.

PODCAST: Jonathan Jackson, Executive Director of Milwaukee Film
PODCAST

Jonathan Jackson, Executive Director of Milwaukee Film

"We've really reshaped the old model," says Jonathan Jackson in his interview with Mark Metcalf. The Milwaukee Film Festival starts Thursday.

PODCAST: A rising tide brings everybody up
PODCAST

A rising tide brings everybody up

Mark interviews Ryan Plato and Carlo Besasie, the filmmakers behind "The Violinist," 2007's "The Cherry Tree" and much, much more. Discussed: anti-vocational filmmaking; the illusory holy grail of feature films; idioms.

PODCAST: Artist/Filmmaker Andrew Swant
PODCAST

Artist/Filmmaker Andrew Swant

Andrew Swant is one-half of the local filmmaking team responsible for "Zombie Killer," "What What (In the Butt)" and the upcoming documentary "William Shatner's Gonzo Ballet."

PODCAST: Local filmmaker Tate Bunker
PODCAST

Local filmmaker Tate Bunker

Mark talks to Tate Bunker, local auteur, DP, nice guy, award winner.

Kid Millions: Victim to the Beat
Kid Millions

Victim to the Beat

Already one of the catchiest songs ever.

Les Paul: Rest in peace
Les Paul

Rest in peace

One of Wisconsin's greatest heroes, the Wizard of Waukesha, has passed away at age 94.

PODCAST: Kyle Feerick, mortician, musician
PODCAST

Kyle Feerick, mortician, musician

Okay - not a mortician, exactly. But he is the heir to the Feerick Funeral Home legacy. Mark Metcalf interviews the easy-going songster, who's not at all Addams Family (but maybe a little Six Feet Under).

Global Union: Mucca Pazza
Global Union

Mucca Pazza

Watch the video, then see the 34-piece circus punk marching band at Humboldt Park on 9/19.

PHOTO GALLERY: State Fair eats!
PHOTO GALLERY

State Fair eats!

A selection of scrumptious State Fair delicacies. Corn dogs, corn on the cob, chocolate-covered bacon, grilled cheese, cream puffs, potato chips — it's heaven on earth.

PODCAST: 800-CEO-READ
PODCAST

800-CEO-READ

Mark Metcalf meets Jack Covert and Todd Sattersten, CEO and President, respectively, of 800-CEO-READ, a local company that sells business books and promotes great ideas. (We think THEY'RE a great idea!)

Dave Cowan named Program Director of 88Nine Radio Milwaukee

Dave Cowan named Program Director of 88Nine Radio Milwaukee

Dave Cowan, a 23-year radio veteran with long experience at a variety of community-oriented commercial stations, has been named program director of non-comm 88Nine RadioMilwaukee, the station announced today.

PODCAST: Carol Grossmeyer
PODCAST

Carol Grossmeyer

This week on the podcast, Mark talks to Carol Grossmeyer, former owner of Harry W. Schwartz bookshops and current owner of its sister company, 800-CEO-READ.

PODCAST: Backstage with Mark Metcalf and Alice Austen
PODCAST

Backstage with Mark Metcalf and Alice Austen

This week on Backstage: Alice Austen is an award-winning Chicago playwright -- who lives in Milwaukee. It sounds like a contradiction, but it's not! Find out why.

5Q: Five questions for Deb Brehmer
5Q

Five questions for Deb Brehmer

We ask Deb Brehmer five questions. She responds with thoughts on local artists, the importance of nurturing an art-buying community, her fascination with portraiture as a work-a-day art form and the importance of context to art-viewing and appreciating.

PODCAST: Backstage with Mark Metcalf and Rob Goodman
PODCAST

Backstage with Mark Metcalf and Rob Goodman

DID YOU KNOW: The Milwaukee Repertory Theater has more season ticket holders than the Milwaukee Brewers? First Stage Children's Theater Managing Director Rob Goodman is a member of the brand-new Creative Coalition of Greater Milwaukee, a project of the Greater Milwaukee Committee and the Cultural Alliance of Greater Milwaukee.

Milwaukee Chamber Theater announces new Managing Director

Milwaukee Chamber Theater announces new Managing Director

We're a little late on the news, but in case you are too, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre last week announced new Managing Director Kirsten Mulvey to replace former Managing Director David Todd, who left MCT in February after a short stint that began in the fall of 2007.

The Man in the Mirror: A Tribute, Part Two
The Man in the Mirror

A Tribute, Part Two

TCD's Senior Editor and Detroit native Amy Elliott waxes nostalgic about a trip to Hitsville, U.S.A. and the relationship between Michael and Motown.

PODCAST: Backstage with Mark Metcalf and David Begel
PODCAST

Backstage with Mark Metcalf and David Begel

Long-time friends Mark Metcalf and David Begel discuss how they met in a Milwaukee Shakespeare production of The Merchant of Venice, David's long and colorful career that spans the great distance between sports writing, MPS administration and acting on stage, how professional sports are like theater, arts criticism and what it will take to make a more vibrant culture for the arts in Milwaukee. Discussed: national public dance, Mark's tardiness, how the internet just lets you keep going and going.

Your 2009 Summer Reading Guide

Your 2009 Summer Reading Guide

It's the right time of year to reacquaint yourself with the literate world, so we put on our best nerdy glasses, went on the hunt and scouted out local experts in order to provide you with our first-ever summer reading guide, full of locally-sourced recommendations from Boswell Books, Open Book Co-op, Next Chapter Bookshop, A Broader Vocabulary and friends at WMSE, 800-ceo-read and ChangeThis.com.

BONNAROO: The 36-Hour Report
BONNAROO

The 36-Hour Report

The TCD Editorial staff found this crazed dispatch, like a signal from a jam-band-packed corner of outer space, buried at the bottom of the email heap upon arrival at the office this morning. Sounds like quite a time. We've also taken the liberty of bringing you highlights from Howie's Twitter feed, so you can enjoy the madness, even if you're not the Twittering kind.

Schwartz void filled by community book co-op

Schwartz void filled by community book co-op

Shorewood, WI. A group of Shorewood, Whitefish Bay and North Shore community activists plans to open and operate a cooperative bookstore, to be located in Shorewood. “It will be a bookstore for the community, created by the community, said organizer Keith Schmitz. “The closing of the Harry W. Schwartz bookstore on Oakland Ave. created a […]

Backstage with Mark Metcalf: Julia Magnasco of First Stage Children’s Theater
Backstage with Mark Metcalf

Julia Magnasco of First Stage Children’s Theater

Mark talks to Julia Magnasco, Education Director of First Stage Children's Theater, about growing up with First Stage - her first kiss (on stage!), getting ready for prom in the dressing room - coming back to Milwaukee for the arts and the importance of teaching young people about theater.

Milwaukee Film rolls out first round of announcements for 2009 Festival

Milwaukee Film rolls out first round of announcements for 2009 Festival

Here they are: the first five film announcements for the first-ever, breathlessly-anticipated 2009 Milwaukee Film Festival. Who knows what we can tell from five films out of what's likely to be more than 100, but this diverse and cosmopolitan selection of screenings: a supermarket comedy from Uruguay, a clandestine documentary about the 2007 uprising in Burma and an exciting frame-by-frame restoration of Akiro Kurosawa's Rashomon.

PHOTO GALLERY: Nilson Studios at Beloit’s Fine Arts Incubator
PHOTO GALLERY

Nilson Studios at Beloit’s Fine Arts Incubator

Painted Beats reflects the apocalypse of inner city life through smoke and light, huge paintings that swallow the viewer in the dark shades of urban decay, and a soundtrack of beats mixed specifically for each piece. Stereos with several sets of Koss-donated headphones will be installed in front of each art work for take one step further into the landscape. Nilson says his viewer/listeners will be absorbed in "an Artist's Rapture."

See it, believe it: Visual arts happenings, June 3 – 10
See it, believe it

Visual arts happenings, June 3 – 10

Jason Rohlf at Tory Folliard, Charles Rohlf (no relation) and The Eight at Milwaukee Art Museum and the popular Annual Members Show at the Walker's Point Center for the Arts.

Backstage with Mark Metcalf: Milwaukee Artist Resource Network’s new vision
Backstage with Mark Metcalf

Milwaukee Artist Resource Network’s new vision

In February, the Milwaukee Artist Resource Network announced its first full-time Executive Director, Melissa Musante, former Associate Director of Film Wisconsin, Peck School graduate and independent artist, musician and filmmaker. Mark Metcalf caught up with her to talk about the new MARN web project artinmilwaukee.com, why MARN is not just for visual artists and how […]

Backstage with Mark Metcalf: Dave Fantle discusses film incentives
Backstage with Mark Metcalf

Dave Fantle discusses film incentives

Following news of the zero-sum game of giant Michael Mann/Johnny Depp production Public Enemies, the budget proposed by Governor Jim Doyle in February would eliminate the Film Wisconsin tax incentives for good, replacing them with a biennial $1 million grant program. Mark Metcalf sits down with Dave Fantle of Visit Milwaukee to get the story.

PHOTO GALLERY: 75 years of the Florentine Opera
PHOTO GALLERY

75 years of the Florentine Opera

The Florentine Opera, Wisconsin's oldest fully professional performing arts organization, hosts a special one-night-only Diamond Anniversary concert in celebration of their 75th year in the business. In tribute, enjoy this fabulous photo history from the Company's expansive archive.

PHOTO GALLERY: Racine
PHOTO GALLERY

Racine

Photos from our trip to Racine: organic brunch at Blueberries Cafe, meerkats and peacocks at the Zoo, jellyfish at RAM, quirky thrift-store finds, the shanty charm of the Yardarm and more.

Review: The Magic Flute at Florentine Opera
Review

The Magic Flute at Florentine Opera

Magic Flute is one of Mozart's most heart-snatchingly beautiful operatic works, and the Florentine's company delivers a sparkling, joyful performance that is a delight from start to finish.

Classic cocktail recipes from your friends at TCD

Classic cocktail recipes from your friends at TCD

ThirdCoast Digest’s Erin Petersen went on the prowl for the city’s best (and most atmospheric) cocktail hours. But for those of you that aren’t feeling the bar scene, host your own Depression-Era cocktail hour at home with some of these lively libations: Brandy Old Fashioned 3 oz brandy 4 dashes Angostura bitters 1 tsp sugar […]

Openings and closings: Art and performance, 4/9 – 4/14
Openings and closings

Art and performance, 4/9 – 4/14

Visual Art Check back next week for our celebrated Gallery Night guide, with staff picks and a complete directory of local events! Music UWM Guitar Series, UWM Peck School of the Arts, 4/10. Classical guitarist René Izquierdo joins Elina Chekan in a benefit concert for UWM’s program for young guitarists. They will perform solo and […]

RadioMilwaukee names new Executive Director

RadioMilwaukee names new Executive Director

Milwaukee, Wisconsin (April 8, 2009) – Mary Louise Mussoline, the Milwaukee Art Museum’s former senior director of development, has been named executive director of non-commercial 88Nine RadioMilwaukee. Mussoline, a longtime Milwaukee resident, has served for many years as a top executive and consultant to numerous area non-profits, working in areas of management, training and fundraising. […]

Keep your neighborhood beautiful: Participate in MKE County park clean-up
Keep your neighborhood beautiful

Participate in MKE County park clean-up

  (Milwaukee, WI) – Volunteers both young and old, as well as families, youth groups, schools, businesses and churches are invited to take part in the Keep America Beautiful 2009 Great American Cleanup, with the official Community Cleanup Day kick-off event starting on April 18 from 9am to noon at Gordon Park, 1321 E. Locust […]

Help the arts! Help UPAF!

Help the arts! Help UPAF!

ThirdCoast Digest and VITAL Source have remained committed to the arts in Milwaukee for the entire eight years we’ve been doing this, and we’ve had the tremendous pleasure to watch the arts community grow and thrive. But any conversation about the health of arts in Milwaukee MUST include discussion of the United Performing Arts Fund. […]

ALERT: Milw / TCD Filmmaker Finalist in Warner Brothers / CW Network Film Contest – VOTE TODAY!
ALERT

Milw / TCD Filmmaker Finalist in Warner Brothers / CW Network Film Contest – VOTE TODAY!

LAST WEEK TO VOTE!! Local filmmaker and long-time, much-loved TCD contributor Howie Goldklang is a FINALIST in the CW Green Your World contest. The contest has 4 filmmakers submitting weekly vlogs (video blogs) reporting on green, eco-cool initiatives in their town. Please click over, vote MILWAUKEE, vote for HOWIE GOLDKLANG! CLICK HERE TO VOTE

TULPAN a huge hit in NYC, coming to MKE Monday!

TULPAN a huge hit in NYC, coming to MKE Monday!

This just in: the New York Times‘ A.O. Scott posted a fabulous review today of Tulpan, a romance, coming-of-age story and epic landscape drama set on the desolate steppes of Kazhakstan. Scott writes: Tulpan, the first fictional feature by the Kazakh director Sergey Dvortsevoy, might be described as an epic landscape film, a sweetly comic […]

Milwaukee Film announces 2009 Milwaukee Film Festival!

Milwaukee Film announces 2009 Milwaukee Film Festival!

And now … the news you’ve all been waiting for … with a brand-new logo to boot. So exciting! – Ed. Milwaukee Film, the new and independent organization dedicated to presenting Milwaukee’s premier film festival, is proud to announce the dates and a call for entries for its 2009 Milwaukee Film Festival. Running September 24 […]

TD2M 2.0: Help us rename the Bruisers column
TD2M 2.0

Help us rename the Bruisers column

Last month, VITAL Source and ThirdCoast Digest were threatened with a cease and desist order by another derby league in the region, alleging that the title of our popular derby column Talk Derby to Me, by Tea Krulos (with a fabulous vodcast of the same name by Noah Therrien), was protected under U.S. Trademark. It’s […]

Random Exposure 3: August 2008
Random Exposure 3

August 2008

Our fete for the winners of our 3rd annual Random Exposure photo contest at the glamorous Eisner American Museum of Advertising and Design.

VITAL’s 6th Birthday at MOCT!

VITAL’s 6th Birthday at MOCT!

We came, we saw, we celebrated six years in the business. February 2008.

Milwaukee Short Film Festival: 2008
Milwaukee Short Film Festival

2008

Paul Robeson in concert

Paul Robeson in concert

Next Act Theatre Restaging an exceptional character from last season, Next Act Theatre returns with the limited run of Paul Robeson in Concert at the Off-Broadway Theatre. This charismatic Black Columbia law school graduate, singing star, actor and activist began a career in the 1920’s, stirring American hearts through his music, political beliefs and protests […]

Secrets of a Soccer Mom @ The Boulevard

Secrets of a Soccer Mom @ The Boulevard

By Jenna Raymond Soccer Mom. It’s a term that crept into the American vernacular near the end of the twentieth century. It’s a woman who drives a mini-van or an SUV, visits Starbucks everyday and has an expensive cell phone that constantly ringing with calls about the PTA. She ‘runs errands’ every day of the […]

I love today.

I love today.

(Getty) We just inaugurated a young, smart, black, basketball-playing president and said goodbye to George W. Bush. Expectations aside, overblown or otherwise, something feels cosmically righted today. I was too young to vote during the 2000 elections, but I spent a lot of energy protesting the Bush campaign, and when he was reelected in 2004, […]

DETROIT: The video part three – THE AUTO SHOW
DETROIT

The video part three – THE AUTO SHOW

The video you’ve all been waiting for: Noah and I clowning around at the 2009 North American International Auto Show. We met journalists from all over the world, mingled with hot models, sat in a lot of cars that are worth more than our lives and test drove a 2010 Ford Fusion. Exhausting! One more […]

ON ASSIGNMENT: DETROIT: The video part two – the Corned Beef Experience
ON ASSIGNMENT

DETROIT

Noah did a bang-up job capturing the spirit of corned beef on camera. Watch the video here, and ignore my really silly hair: Parts three (the Auto Show) and four (the full-length travelogue) to come!

Day one slideshow: The Henry Ford, Greektown and downtown sights
Day one slideshow

The Henry Ford, Greektown and downtown sights

ON ASSIGNMENT: DETROIT: Corned beef and the cars of the future
ON ASSIGNMENT

DETROIT

We’re convalescing this morning with oatmeal and coffee after finally getting some sleep last night. Yesterday was a big day. We started at United Meat and Deli, a small, high-end corned beef processor and wholesaler that is incidentally owned and operated by my dad. There we saw another side of Detroit industry and prepared Noah […]

ON ASSIGNMENT: DETROIT: Planes, trains, lots of automobiles
ON ASSIGNMENT

DETROIT

We initially cancelled our trip to Detroit and the 2009 North American International Auto Show after Matt Wild announced that, due to the global financial crisis, he would not be financially solvent in time for our departure. The news came at zero hour, and for 24 hours, I was heartbroken. Then I got a call […]

ON ASSIGNMENT: DETROIT: The video, part one
ON ASSIGNMENT

DETROIT

I promised it and here it is. This kid is a wizard. More where this came from! Stay tuned to Love Letters for more videos, photos and sassy anecdotes. And here’s the first installment of our On Assignment report, posted just moments ago. We’re having a wonderful time. In spite of Matt Wild.

WMSE’s 12-12-12 drive: eyes all aglow, etc
WMSE’s 12-12-12 drive

eyes all aglow, etc

We got this press release from our pals at WMSE 91.7 FM this morning, and it positively made our cheeks pink with love and harmony: Dear Friends and Lovers, We know this might sound unusual, but we are thrilled this morning to thank another member of the Milwaukee radio community – FM102.1. On their own, […]

Celebrate the freedom to celebrate

Celebrate the freedom to celebrate

Today is Repeal Day! From repealday.org: “Conveniently located halfway between Thanksgiving and Christmas — at a time when most Americans are probably not spending time with family — Repeal Day presents a wonderful occasion to get together with friends and pay tribute to our constitutional rights. [And] unlike St. Patrick’s Day or Cinco de Mayo, […]

Arts alert: 2008 Nohl Fellowships announced
Arts alert

2008 Nohl Fellowships announced

Bobby Ciraldo and Andrew Swant of Special Entertainment: two of the gazillions of filmmakers who had money thrown at them yesterday. Just kidding! Yesterday, UWM’s Peck School of the Arts announced grantees of the 2008 Mary L. Nohl Fellowships, and to our collective surprise here at VS HQ, fully five of the seven awards went […]

Hats off: Song Sung Blue
Hats off

Song Sung Blue

Milwaukee rallied for one (or a few dozen) of its own last night – almost 1000 people showed up for the local premiere of Song Sung Blue, a documentary by Greg Kohs about local legends Lightning & Thunder, a husband-and-wife Neil Diamond tribute duo. Milwaukee Film literally rolled out the red carpet for the crew […]

Finally!

Finally!

Last night I had dreams of every strange breed: that I slept through the election, that I couldn’t same-day register, bombs at the polls, that I voted on a Barack Obama/Bob Dylan ticket. I woke up every hour, jittery, and had to force myself to go back to sleep. At six in the morning, by […]

Crossover Appeal

Crossover Appeal

By Erin Wolf, DJ Hostettler and Amy Elliott Photos by Erin Landry No musician is an island, and in the music biz, it’s all about who you know, whether you’re a mainstream corporate unit-mover or a DIY street punk. Even the rare musician who does it all – writing, designing, photographing, recording, mixing, mastering, promoting, […]

Nerd alert: Pecha Kucha Night
Nerd alert

Pecha Kucha Night

More than many, many things, I think Pecha Kucha certifies Milwaukee’s place in the constellation of great world cities, proving once again, on a regular schedule, that we’re home to lots of bright, enthusiastic, cosmopolitan professionals who care about ideas and learning and thinking and sharing with each other. Tonight’s third volume of Pecha Kucha […]

Time for healing

Time for healing

Last week I was alarmed to hear on NPR that a college classmate, Taylor Luck, had gone missing in Jordan with his friend Holly on their vacation (!) into the tumultuous northern regions of the country. I was shocked — and worried. What had happened? Would he be found alive? Or at all? Just days […]

The Persians

The Persians

The Persians – Western literature’s oldest surviving play, and the only Greek classic we know of that’s based on contemporary history, not mythology or legend – is a punch in the gut. At a time when the fate of global civilization is quavering and Americans feel their grip on the world slipping, the story of […]

The Laramie Project

The Laramie Project

It’s been ten years since Matthew Shepard, a gay student at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, was brutally beaten and left to die tied to a fence post out in the prairie. Matthew’s death – and the inscrutable cruelty of his killers – stirred a media storm, drew worldwide focus to a small Great […]

The city on the hill

The city on the hill

I’m watching the Vice Presidential debates right now, which has on the whole been a sort of frustrating snore — the kind that wakes you up at night when you can’t breathe anymore. Sarah Palin just said (in reference to her Achilles Heel, by the way, which doesn’t make any goddamn sense) that America still […]

VITAL Source 2008 Halloween Guide!

VITAL Source 2008 Halloween Guide!

A Theater of Lost Souls October 3, 4, 10, 11, 17, 18, 24-26, 29-31; November 1 500 E County Y, Oshkosh A Theater of Lost Souls has been completely redesigned in 2008 to give you one of the most frightful Halloween experiences in the area, complete with monsters, a black light theater, and “Your Last […]

Magazine nerd alerts

Magazine nerd alerts

I already told you about the tour we’re giving with Next American City, which is a rite of magazine nerd passage in a class of its very own. But the fun doesn’t begin and end with NAC. Far from it! Tonight at the Milwaukee Art Museum, Jed Perl, art critic at The New Republic, will […]

Roll call

Roll call

Next American City, a national magazine dedicated to making cities better, docked in Milwaukee this week as part of a four-day spree through our fair city and what’s ticking these days. The centerpiece of their visit? A rad, adrenaline-fueled no-holds-barred 24-hour tour of the city. All of it! The docket of guides is incredible. Alex […]

Republican National Ridiculousness

Republican National Ridiculousness

I’ll admit that I’ve been bored by this election for a few months. It’s crazy, I know. But ever since Barack Obama’s presumptive nomination early in June, it’s been kind of a snooze. Barack Obama is so compelling, and John McCain is so old — and careless. He can’t remember how many houses he owns. […]

Ready for the new

Ready for the new

By Amy Elliott, Introduction by Jon Anne Willow It’s often the case that when performing arts budgets are tight, new work by emerging artists finds its way to more stages more readily. It can be less expensive to license and easier to obtain, and it’s uncommon for a company to collaborate directly with the author, […]

ON ASSIGNMENT: Danke Schoen
ON ASSIGNMENT

Danke Schoen

We’re back now, and our footage from the rest of the trip is in post-production. Check Matt’s blog regularly over the next few days for video coverage of the Renaissance Faire, dogs in sunglasses, dirty jokes at the hotel bar, confessional interviews, archery, driving around at night listening to “Golddigger,” revelry at the Royal Mile, […]

Behind the curtain

Behind the curtain

This month, to an even greater extent than usual, you can leaf through the pages of VITAL and find calendar listings, phone numbers, websites and profiles of the people that power the ships, as well as evidence, photographic and otherwise, of creative output. With a little imagination you can envision a setting: a proscenium stage, […]

ON ASSIGNMENT: The Cancun of the Midwest
ON ASSIGNMENT

The Cancun of the Midwest

I love it here. It’s really hot and sunny. We spent most of the day yesterday drinking at The Locust Tap in the shadow (sort of) of the grand State Capitol and at the lovely bar in our wildly luxurious downtown hotel, the Renaissance Savery. (This hotel is amazing. We have a really hard time […]

ON ASSIGNMENT: Come on, ride the train
ON ASSIGNMENT

Come on, ride the train

Peter: Iowa is … ummm Well, remember the song “Ride the Train” by the Quad City DJs? “Come on ride the train, & ride it … ” Amy: Yes. Of course. Peter: It’s nothing like that. So far, I can confirm that genius summary. But Iowa is also, so far, great. We had an amazing […]

ON ASSIGNMENT: Iowa in T-minus 24 hours
ON ASSIGNMENT

Iowa in T-minus 24 hours

Friends, it’s almost Labor Day. Summer is setting, and with it, the horizon of possibility for reckless adventure, late-night wanderings, wine by the bonfire and naps on the beach recedes. I don’t know about you – but I’m scared. It hasn’t been the best summer for me. I would go so far as to call […]

Kids in the fridge

Kids in the fridge

When my dad saw the cover of our August issue, he railed at me for a half-hour about our lack of editorial responsibility. Apparently, I am too young to remember a time when empty refrigerators in basements and junk lots enticed curious children into their deadly depths. My parents are subscribers, so they received the […]

Bringing sexy back

Bringing sexy back

The Journal Sentinel reported today that Marie Claire magazine has named Milwaukee its sexiest city. Back story: we’re all a little bleary in the office this morning, recovering from Random Exposure, our annual photo contest party at the sexy (and one-of-a-kind) Eisner American Museum of Advertising and Design in the Third Ward, executive-directed by the […]

In Memory: DJ Rock Dee
In Memory

DJ Rock Dee

Photo by Erin Landry We just received the heartbreaking news that DJ Rock Dee — 88.9 Radio Milwaukee on-air host, all-around DJ-about-town, consummate family man and hugely loving force in the community — died on Friday. He was 40 years old. Rock Dee was one of the first true personalities I met when I moved […]

Sink or swim

Sink or swim

There is so much I want to share with you, friends: about grief, about loss, about friends leaving town and friends returning to town, about the regal history of great Midwestern blue-collar families, about Poles and Italians, about the late-night ferry from Muskegon and the Milwaukee International Film Festival and Lakefront IPA and the Trusty […]

Heartbeat City

Heartbeat City

Photos by Erin Landry “If you were standing in this spot 150 years ago, you might have been run over by a train.” On a cul-de-sac on the Hank Aaron State Trail – fish leaping in the Menomonee River below, the breeze carrying the scent of summer wildflowers – this interpretive sign is hard to […]

Empathy for the disenfranchised

Empathy for the disenfranchised

Smart people in diverse urban areas have always been at least aware, if not suspicious, of night club dress codes. Often in place to detract gangs, keep out the riff-raff and attract a classier clientele, the codes at their tamest ban slumpy clothes — no jeans, no sneakers, no baseball caps — and, at their […]

Fire in the Disco

Fire in the Disco

Photos by Brian Jacobson + Eric Walton “Everyone calls me a magician. I don’t mind it so much, but – at least get it right.” If you’ve lived through a summer in Milwaukee and you’re not a total shut-in, you’ve probably seen Marcus Monroe – he’s hard to miss on his eight-foot unicycle, juggling knives […]

Kareem Abdul Jablog

Kareem Abdul Jablog

Whenever I think my life is way too hectic (… and fun!) to even consider keeping a robust and regularly updated blog, it pays to stumble across the blogs of giants. And by giants I mean people who have far less free time, and many more important things to do, than me. While I flirt […]

Summer days, summer nights with De La Buena

Summer days, summer nights with De La Buena

By Amy Elliott and Amber Herzog De La Buena is: David Wake, Cecilio Negron Jr., Andy Noble, Julio Pabon, Aaron Gardner, Eric Jacobson, Mike Pauers, Jesse Sheehan, Holly Haebig, Elladia Regina James Wake (De La Baby). Not pictured: Jeremy Kuzniar, Jamie Breiwick. Ready for festival season? We sure are, especially because it inevitably means the […]

Live from Branson: Entertained and entertaining
Live from Branson

Entertained and entertaining

Sequined blazers abound in Branson, Missouri, where yesterday we finally had the chance to see some of the live entertainment that has made the city famous. In the afternoon we caught a performance by Yakov “In Soviet Union, car drives you” Smirnoff. You remember him, of course; he’s the guy who came to America with […]

Live from Branson: The mayor and the cowboy
Live from Branson

The mayor and the cowboy

Branson was absurdly hot and sunny today, and it is absurd that we are still awake; I think we’re pushing 36 hours at this point. Even more absurdly, I haven’t had any coffee since breakfast: We spent the early afternoon browsing historic downtown Branson, which is lined with flea markets, antique rummage stores, “bazaars,” diners […]

Live from Branson: No day but today
Live from Branson

No day but today

We just woke up after about 12 hours of much-needed sleep. Today holds the following promises: Yakov Smirnoff: Shoji Tabuchi: A visit to Rocky’s, where Branson’s “young up-and-comers” go for fun on Friday nights, and finding a liquor store so we can take part in some good, honest, down-to-business vice: You’ll be hearing from us […]

Live from Branson: Say cheese
Live from Branson

Say cheese

We thought about turning around in Rockford, mostly because neither of us could really grasp the concept of driving to Branson, Missouri in the middle of the night for no good reason, but we prevailed. I drank liters of coffee and Matt consumed an entire four-pack of Red Bull. (He also picked up some really […]

VITAL’s 2008 Farmer’s Market Guide

VITAL’s 2008 Farmer’s Market Guide

By Amy Elliott & Lindsey Huster The big city grind is tough in the summer. It’s hot, smoggy and crowded. Whole city blocks are periodically shut down for sticky parties and loud, smelly rock shows. Most of us keep our day jobs for the season and then act like we don’t have anywhere to be […]

The wayward season

The wayward season

I spent the long weekend in Michigan in what felt like a state of convalescence, although I have nothing to heal from besides a drumming anxiety that had welled up for no good reason and a persistent homesickness that had been creeping on me for weeks. And the drinking. Yes, there’s that. Really, we all […]

Milwaukee International

Milwaukee International

It’s a little late to be posting any coverage of last weekend’s Milwaukee International, and I don’t have much to say for myself – besides that I’ve been thinking about it, sorting out the hour or so of art I saw and the subsequent hour or two of beer I drank at Polish Falcons. There’s […]

Permission to party

Permission to party

Chicago dodged a bullet this week when it tabled the now-notorious “promoter’s ordinance,” which would have made it necessary for independent music promoters in the city to obtain a license to the tune of $500 – $2000 and at least $300,000 in liability insurance. The legislation, targeted at venues with less than 500 “fixed seats”, […]

“Ball don’t lie.” – Rasheed Wallace

“Ball don’t lie.” – Rasheed Wallace

I don’t know how or why it happens, but every year it’s like the flip of a switch: someone or something reminds me that basketball exists. And that I love it. And that the Pistons fucking rule. This year I was standing in the dark cavern of the Echo Base warehouse, beholding my spring bike […]

Happy Trails

Happy Trails

It’s official: you have no good excuse to stay home this summer. Okay, we take that back. If you want to stay home this summer, you’re welcome to. But there’s a ton to do around here, so we want to make sure you have plenty of ideas for ways to enjoy yourself. Look, we hear […]

Walking on air

Walking on air

This is the best time of year. The best. Someone I used to know called it “that summer feeling.” It’s not summer yet, not by a longshot — there aren’t even leaves on the trees — but you can FEEL it coming. You can smell meat grilling and grass getting heavy, see hot sun on […]

Out like a lion

Out like a lion

Where have I been? I’m so glad you asked. Painting the town red I’ve been to the Old German Beer Hall (once on my birthday, for shots on skis and that hammer/stump game; again, days later, after the Scarring Party show at Turner Hall with Brent Gohde and Matt Wild, where I ran into a […]

Meet my dad

Meet my dad

Maybe it was my visit to the cellar bar at Roots this week (where I’m told the chef is perfecting his own recipes for corned beef, rye bread and sauerkraut), or maybe it was my dad’s sheepish confession to me last weekend that he loves to Google his own name, but I was reminded recently […]

Mr. Tomatoface

Mr. Tomatoface

Oh, yeah. Every Tuesday. Come ON! What was I THINKING?! I can’t play this game. It’s Thursday night. Tomorrow is Friday. Fail, fail, fail. Jesus, what happened to this week? I had every expectation that this was going to be one of those breezy, pretty weeks, that I’d just sleep a lot and stroll into […]

I’m so glad this isn’t a daily

I’m so glad this isn’t a daily

Or even a weekly, for that matter, given my bad habit of updating my blog — a BLOG! which is meant to be STEALTHY and TERSE and FULL OF EMBEDDED IMAGES AND VIDEOS! – approximately once every two weeks. (I’d like to get better at that, really! Maybe I should aim for once a week? […]

Defiance: Body Worlds, Gunther Von Hagens & life itself
Defiance

Body Worlds, Gunther Von Hagens & life itself

Since seeing the show at the Milwaukee Public Museum when it opened two weeks ago, I’ve been thinking a lot about Body Worlds, and I’ve been thinking a lot about Gunther Von Hagens, the German scientist and provocateur behind the international museum sensation. His name (and his image) is plastered all over the exhibition, and […]

New directors, new directions

New directors, new directions

The day I found out that the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra would be announcing the music director to replace Andreas Delfs after the 2008-2009 season, I went to bed wondering when the Milwaukee Art Museum would get their ducks in a row and pick someone to replace Director and CEO David Gordon, who will be leaving […]

A part of the solution

A part of the solution

In the auditorium of the John C. Cudahy YMCA, the basketball hoop blocks the view of the stage. Kendall tells the lanky teens shooting hoops to go upstairs for a while so Scott can set up his tripods, flashes and umbrellas. This is the only YMCA in the country built specifically to accommodate the arts. […]

Keeping warm

Keeping warm

I really love the winter, especially in these early weeks, when the cold is bracing but exhilarating, the snow is fresh and pretty and even the most dreadful parking conditions barely detract from the gingery warmth of early December. It’s always a tricky transition: what to do when faced with such deep wind chills and […]

The Bronze Fonz Debacle

The Bronze Fonz Debacle

Mike Brenner, owner of Hotcakes Gallery and big-time mover and shaker in Milwaukee’s art community, sends a seething, vitriolic letter to every major media outlet and art informer in Southeastern Wisconsin vowing to shut Hotcakes’ doors and leave the city for good should a life-size statue of the Fonz be erected in our fair downtown. […]

What Gives?

What Gives?

By Kenya Evans, Brian Jacobson, April Jones & Amy Elliott DONATIONS One fairly obvious – and fabulously generous – gift that gives is a donation in someone else’s name. These unique organizations won’t leave your recipients snarling wicked holiday wishes under their breath. a. Ducks! Real, live ducks! $20 Heifer International – heifer.org Who’d imagine […]

Another Mistake on the Lake?

Another Mistake on the Lake?

Last night, WUWM hosted Project Milwaukee: Creating a Vibrant Regional Economy, a forum of nine influential local figures responding to questions from the moderators, the audience and website visitors about the challenges facing Greater Milwaukee. All of the hot-button issues were trotted out in a drive-by hour-and-a-half – transportation, education, the economy, crime, race, poverty, […]

Tug of War

Tug of War

Milwaukeeans went into a tizzy with the arrival of Whole Foods Market a year ago – was a national anchor in the East Side business district a sign that the city had finally arrived? Would Whole Foods serve as a “tentpole” for other natural and organic businesses in the city? Or would they jack up […]

“Milwaukee Art Museum: Thoughtless or Naive?” A response …
“Milwaukee Art Museum

Thoughtless or Naive?” A response …

“I’m starting to feel sorry for the Milwaukee Art Museum,” writes Debra Brehmer in the latest edition of Susceptible to Images in an article discussing the recent controversy surrounding MAM’s marketing campaign for its current showcase exhibition, Martín Ramírez. First off, full disclosure: I worked at the Milwaukee Art Museum for nine months before signing […]

Gallery Night: Fight or Flight?
Gallery Night

Fight or Flight?

Gallery Night always leaves me flummoxed. With the best of intentions, I make a big list of all of the neat things I want to do, and then have a hard time finding anyone to go with me. On the big day, I get home from work, take a nap or a run, fix a […]

A thought about chopsticks

A thought about chopsticks

We had sushi for lunch today. It came with chopsticks. I was really good with chopsticks when I was six years old and in Montessori school. It was all about multi-culturalism in Montessori school. Also, I had many Japanese classmates. I was a chopsticks phenom. I am no longer skilled with chopsticks, however. Using chopsticks […]

The Big Dig

The Big Dig

“It swings between passion and obsession, constantly. It’s definitely at the point where I’m like, ‘do I want to buy groceries this week, or do I want to go digging in Indianapolis?’” Aaron Soma spends 12 to 16 hours a week, on average, digging for vinyl. At least once a month, he leaves the state […]

Lesson Learned — Maybe

Lesson Learned — Maybe

I’ve just survived my first full production cycle. I signed on as Managing Editor when we were proofing and going to print for September; tomorrow, we’re headed north to lovely Port Washington for our final press check before October hits the stands. For the past two weeks I’ve been chasing down local musicians, orchestrating photo […]

Life is a Playground

Life is a Playground

Last week I lodged a formal complaint about the lack of bike racks in my new East Town neighborhood. My somewhat irritated e-mail was answered warmly and in great detail by Dave Schlabowske, coordinator of Milwaukee’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Task Force, who gave me pointers on lock-up locations (tree planters, for instance, are easy), offered […]

Coming soon — Love Letters by Amy Elliot

Coming soon — Love Letters by Amy Elliot

New blog… coming soon!

“If only we could pull out our brain and use only our EYES.” — Pablo Picasso

“If only we could pull out our brain and use only our EYES.” — Pablo Picasso

The human eyes are small but wondrous – a pair of infinitely complex sensors that allow us to experience wavelengths of light as fully formed, instantaneous impressions of color, shape and depth. The nerves and cells in the eye are some of the body’s most sensitive, the muscles that allow the eyes to move the […]

The legends live on…

The legends live on…

Photos by Kat Jacobs It’s a warm dusk, and the SV Mai Tai, a handsome catamaran, is cruising away from the harbor. With Milwaukee’s silhouette behind us, Captain Rick Hake is steering us into the streaks of a storm. We are less than a mile and a half from the dock. Captain Rick – a […]

Vital’s 2007 Farmers Market Guide

Vital’s 2007 Farmers Market Guide

By Amy Elliott, Evan Solochek, Jon Anne Willow In the urban epicenter of metropolitan Milwaukee, it’s far too easy to forget that we live in Wisconsin, a major player in the nation’s agricultural life and a leading producer of cranberries, corn, oats, potatoes, cherries, green beans and, of course, fresh dairy. Enter the farmers market […]

VITAL’S 2007 Photo Contest Winners

VITAL’S 2007 Photo Contest Winners

I think photography as the America of “Art.” It is not a perfect analogy; photography doesn’t arrest undocumented artworks and detain them indefinitely, nor is it engaged in an endless quest to start wars against developing art forms whilst alienating and disenfranchising photographs at home. Photographs are sometimes bought and sold to the highest bidder, […]

Bridging the gap

Bridging the gap

Photo by Kat Jacobs Pieter Godfrey and Ken Leinbach have more in common than first glance betrays. Pieter, in corduroy slacks and vintage frames, looks like someone who would refurbish warehouses and watch silent horror movies on the weekends. Ken is more of a jeans and hiking boots kind of guy; he looks like he’d […]

Living the dream

Living the dream

By Amy Elliott + Photo by Kate Engeriser “Everybody knows about these people,” the boy mutters. “It’s been drummed into their heads about 15,000 times.” He is a young student with a simple assignment: write a two-page essay about an African-American hero. But he is plagued by a classical academic anxiety: hasn’t it all been […]

Dollars, Worries & Lives

Dollars, Worries & Lives

By Amy Elliott + Photos by Richard Galling The Smith and Wesson Model 10 double-action revolver has been in continuous production for more than 100 years, and has been the weapon of choice for police departments everywhere for almost as long. An elegant piece with black grips and a carbon-steel barrel, it evokes suits, cocktails […]

Many Times, Many Ways

Many Times, Many Ways

By Amy Elliott Let’s face it: the holidays can be tough. It takes stamina to make it through the six weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s with one’s sensibilities intact. But even with all of the off-the-rocker relatives, the shrill children, the sugars and saturated fats and the pushy crowds everywhere from Macy’s to Ace […]

Art during wartime

Art during wartime

By Amy Elliott + Illustrations for Terror Chic by Joy Harmon (top) and Kristopher Pollard (bottom) In 1932, Betty Gow was accused of a playing role in the now infamous kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby. The Scottish nursemaid was never tried, though conspiracy theories about her involvement persist. Seventy-four years later, the incorrigible Ms. Gow […]

Now you see it…

Now you see it…

By Amy Elliott + photos by Kate Engeriser You’re seeing something you know, but you don’t know what you’re seeing – that’s how “Super Subconscious” hits the eyes. Painted in grayscale and composed of hundreds of layered advertising icons, it shifts with your gaze; some things come into relief, others fall concealed. The panels of […]