Jon Anne Willow

Recent Articles

America’s “Best Local Festival”?

America’s “Best Local Festival”?

The 16th Annual Milwaukee Short Film Festival returns this week, still better known internationally than in town.

“Color Me Obsessed” captures the essence of The Replacements

“Color Me Obsessed” captures the essence of The Replacements

Turner Hall mounted Milwaukee’s first screening of the long-awaited, definitive Replacements documentary as part of its BAAM series on Saturday night.

Arts, crafts and rock ‘n’ roll: Bay View Gallery Night
Arts, crafts and rock ‘n’ roll

Bay View Gallery Night

In Bay View, expect more than warm white wine and cheese squares. These neighbors like their Gallery Night a little spicier. See it all in action tonight.

A vigil for hope and healing as sun sets on Sikh tragedy

A vigil for hope and healing as sun sets on Sikh tragedy

After a day of unspeakable violence against Milwaukee's peaceful Sikh community, supporters gather in Cathedral Square Park to offer prayers and support.

Sci-fi Spectacular Spectacular!

Sci-fi Spectacular Spectacular!

TCD, the MSO and Intercontinental offer a spectacular evening - an intimate dinner hosted by Tom Strini, followed by loge seats for the June 15 performance narrated by Star Trek's George Takei!

Bad Democrat: Call it now – It’s got to be Obey
Bad Democrat

Call it now – It’s got to be Obey

David Obey isn't perfect, but he's effective with both parties. And in a heated Wisconsin recall election, what could be more important?

Bad Democrat: Education, education, education
Bad Democrat

Education, education, education

We are engaged – right now – in a global race to see which nation will be the brain trust for the 21st century, and we’re losing.

Bad Democrat: Can Dems hold out for a hero in Walker recall?
Bad Democrat

Can Dems hold out for a hero in Walker recall?

With over 300,000 signatures collected in just 12 days, the Walker recall is all but inevitable. Now the Dems must choose a candidate who can win.

Bad Democrat: Barrett’s co-sleeping red herring
Bad Democrat

Barrett’s co-sleeping red herring

Desperate to distract from a failing school system and its financial woes, the City launches a foolish and destructive ad campaign to nowhere.

Bad Democrat: Tangled up in Blue
Bad Democrat

Tangled up in Blue

The Walker recall has me questioning the democratic process and what its priorities should be.

Through the filmmaker’s lens

Through the filmmaker’s lens

Milwaukee filmmakers Matthew Konkel and Kara Mulrooney review out of town films screening at the 13th annual Milwaukee Short Film Festival.

A few words with Ross Bigley of the Milwaukee Short Film Festival

A few words with Ross Bigley of the Milwaukee Short Film Festival

From racy romances to family-friendly sci-fi flicks and even an amateur monster movie, the 13th annual MSFF packs a cinematic punch this weekend.

Steve Jobs: My kind of hero
Steve Jobs

My kind of hero

Smart, driven and prone to colossal gaffes, Jobs was what all true entrepreneurs want to be when they grow up: undeniable.

UPDATED: Judge rules that bargaining law not in effect
UPDATED

Judge rules that bargaining law not in effect

In a ruling early Thursday, Dane County Judge Maryann Sumi says that Wisconsin's contentious bargaining law is not in effect. The state says it will comply.

Up to 100,000 gather in Madison Saturday

Up to 100,000 gather in Madison Saturday

Madison police estimate Saturday's rally to be the biggest yet, with between 85,000 and 100,000 protesting Gov. Scott Walker's budget policies

Wisconsin 14 return; will march to Capitol Saturday

Wisconsin 14 return; will march to Capitol Saturday

Senate Democrats are happy to be home, but know the budget battle has just begun

Walker blames a few “radical” Dems for upcoming layoffs

Walker blames a few “radical” Dems for upcoming layoffs

Walker vows pink slips Friday. But will those come from the over 8,000 jobs slated for elimination in his upcoming budget?

FEED CUT: Capitol Police clear building at 4 pm: Watch it live
FEED CUT

Capitol Police clear building at 4 pm

70,000 protesters believe the Capitol is their house. Will the police force them out? Will these so-far peaceful protests turn ugly? Watch here.

Poll: Do we need unions? Should Obama defend same-sex marriage?
Poll

Do we need unions? Should Obama defend same-sex marriage?

TCD's Jon Anne Willow and AM-620's Jeff Wagner take on these two questions today on TMJ-4's "What's Hot." What do you think?

Walker: pass the bill or the layoffs will begin
Walker

pass the bill or the layoffs will begin

In his "fireside chat," Walker urged Democratic Senators to return to Madison and vote, or 1,500 state workers could receive pink slips next week.

Survey: How will Wisconsin’s budget battle end?
Survey

How will Wisconsin’s budget battle end?

It may be too early to call, but if you had to predict the outcome of the current budget battle in Madison, what would it be? Vote here.

Honoring service on MLK Day

Honoring service on MLK Day

On the 25th anniversary of the MLK holiday, TCD talks to a Milwaukee couple serving in the Peace Corps in Moldova.

Piano Man’s Portrait: Katie Musolff paints Jeffrey Hollander
Piano Man’s Portrait

Katie Musolff paints Jeffrey Hollander

Musolff's final commission for the Pfister as 2010 Artist in Residence will show off her talents in portraiture to their best advantage

ThirdCoast Digest partner Chris Abele running for County Exec

ThirdCoast Digest partner Chris Abele running for County Exec

TCD will cover the race, with Mr. Abele being in no way connected to the editorial process, just as he never has been.

Social media grows up

Social media grows up

The recent merger between Hanson Dodge Creative and upstart Comet Branding signals that social media has a found a foothold in the marketing services business.

Wisconsin’s Small Government Experiment

Wisconsin’s Small Government Experiment

Nobody in favor of small government has experienced it, though many of them have prospered despite pesky taxes. Are they really ready for what's coming?

You want tax cuts? Cough up those jobs

You want tax cuts? Cough up those jobs

It's time to stop pretending an apple is an orange. Political posturing and a broken tax code are at the heart of the latest Congressional squawk.

Milwaukee Short Film Festival lights up the Lubar this weekend

Milwaukee Short Film Festival lights up the Lubar this weekend

One more proof that Milwaukee has been a "film town" for years, 12-year old MSFF just keeps getting better.

MFF’10: The Milwaukee Show!
MFF’10

The Milwaukee Show!

This year's festival has offered much to impress. But for some of us, even Susan Sarandon's face pales in comparison.

Can’t hardly wait: MF’10 is almost here. And we’re there.
Can’t hardly wait

MF’10 is almost here. And we’re there.

The 2nd annual Milwaukee Film Festival rolls out the red carpet tomorrow. TCD will cover it daily, with previews, reviews and lots of pictures and video

Open Call: Pfister broadens its commitment to the arts with in-house storyteller
Open Call

Pfister broadens its commitment to the arts with in-house storyteller

The Pfister Hotel is holding an open call for experienced writers interested in a 6-month residency. Details here.

Ready, Set, Roll: Milwaukee Film spreads its love all over
Ready, Set, Roll

Milwaukee Film spreads its love all over

As the Milwaukee Film Festival 2010 lineup is unveiled, expect to laugh, cry, cringe - and travel a little.

Made in Milwaukee: Art, Music, Love
Made in Milwaukee

Art, Music, Love

MiMX promises a memorable end-of-summer Saturday for everyone - unless you're not a lover of music, film, fashion, food, coffee or beer. Or a kid or a grown-up.

Take One: Milwaukee Children’s Film Festival
Take One

Milwaukee Children’s Film Festival

Milwaukee Film blends awesome kid’s films with important lessons in media literacy for the whole family.

Obama: Fixing the economy, 12 jobs at a time
Obama

Fixing the economy, 12 jobs at a time

We didn’t learn anything new Monday. But Obama's appearance affords an opportunity to look at job creation, the bane of current global economic recovery efforts.

Mummies in Milwaukee!

Mummies in Milwaukee!

Milwaukee Public Museum lands second U.S. exhibition of largest mummy-related collection ever assembled

When the rains come: Resources for SE Wisconsin residents
When the rains come

Resources for SE Wisconsin residents

Last night's rainfall across SE Wisconsin hit residents hard. TCD offers resources for reporting damage and cleaning up.

Smoke ’em while you got ’em: Jamo’s
Smoke ’em while you got ’em

Jamo’s

When the smoke clears, what will happen to the art of bar talk? Jamo wishes he had the answer

What’s up, Milwaukee: Polish vodka!
What’s up, Milwaukee

Polish vodka!

TCD asks – and answers – the burning, if inane, question in our entertaining summer series of eclectic 2-minute videos

Milwaukee Film unveils partial lineup for 2010 festival

Milwaukee Film unveils partial lineup for 2010 festival

The local premiere of Fritz Lang's now fully-restored Metropolis is just one of the treats in store for film lovers this fall

Catch the fever

Catch the fever

VITAL Source Magazine used to throw some pretty good parties. Tomorrow is our ThirdCoast Digest debutante ball, and we think we might still have that old black magic.

Remembering Jude on Mother’s Day

Remembering Jude on Mother’s Day

It's my first Mother's Day without my mom. To her, I offer blessings, thanks and some overdue apologies.

Derby Little Secrets: Bruisers head for the big time!
Derby Little Secrets

Bruisers head for the big time!

The Shevils head for the championships and the Crazy 8's go winless. April's bout was hard-hitting, fast-moving and full of surprises. Here's the dirt.

The Runaways Movie: Cherie’s bomb
The Runaways Movie

Cherie’s bomb

The Runaways is based on Cherie Currie’s recently re-vamped autobiography, and is naturally meant to be her story. I wish it had been.

A year and a day

A year and a day

Thrills, chills and spills - the last year has been a little insane. Editor Jon Anne Willow regrets not planning a party for TCD's first anniversary, but hopes to do better next time.

Derby Little Secrets: Another Sold Out Show
Derby Little Secrets

Another Sold Out Show

Brewcity Bruisers Season 4 rolls on with another sold-out bout at the fabulous Milwaukee Co. Sports Complex. Gloria Hole and Dr Awkward guide you through the pulse-pounding action.

A behind-the-scenes glimpse of Innovative Motion

A behind-the-scenes glimpse of Innovative Motion

Adam Carr of Radio Milwaukee and TCD's Brian Jacobson reveal the personalities behind the Milwaukee Ballet dancers with details on the Pints Before Pointe kickoff event.

Remembering Pizza Man

Remembering Pizza Man

The east side's Pizza Man is gone, but sharing does spur healing - as well as ideas for rebirth. Share your stories, hopes and fears - here.

Up All Night: (W)ringing out the old
Up All Night

(W)ringing out the old

As 2009 winds down at long last, TCD's editor finds herself at a loss for words. Sort of.

No need for media-fueled, inter-generational Cola Wars

No need for media-fueled, inter-generational Cola Wars

The idea of a 3-way workplace cage match makes for interesting punditry, but at the ground level it doesn't hold much water.

Up All Night: The ordinary cruelty of children
Up All Night

The ordinary cruelty of children

TCD's Editor takes a carpool shift and receives an unexpected glimpse into the harshness of playground politics - and the resiliency of kids.

Is Barrett being coy?

Is Barrett being coy?

Looks like Barrett's camp is building a new website. It's called Barret4Wisconsin.com. Has he made his decision? Is it finally time to let the cat out of the bag?

Up All Night: The way of the Soul
Up All Night

The way of the Soul

“Growing up” is too often a trick play, a series of potentially debilitating compromises of the soul. But it's never too late to mind your inner voice.

Up All Night: Tragic
Up All Night

Tragic

My mother recently died from smoking cigarettes, leaving me to grapple with the thorny issue of slow suicide by addiction.

New Column: Checkers & Chess
New Column

Checkers & Chess

This week: Wisconsin's gubernatorial bid. Now that Kind is out, who are the strongest contenders? Two vastly different viewpoints on one intriguing topic.

Public Policy Forum: Milwaukee Finances “On the Precipice”
Public Policy Forum

Milwaukee Finances “On the Precipice”

The City may soon find itself choosing between potholes and police protection.

Skylight: Dillner in, Hefty out, Cabot snubbed
Skylight

Dillner in, Hefty out, Cabot snubbed

In a baffling emergency session Thursday evening, the Skylight board elected, in a close vote, to retain current management, namely Eric Dillner.

Skylight Opera: Dillner must go
Skylight Opera

Dillner must go

There may be a place for your approach, Mr. Dillner, a place that embraces your psuedo-businessman style. But it's not here. You had your chance and you blew it.

Skylight Opera: A tragic exodus?
Skylight Opera

A tragic exodus?

TCD hopes that this family can be brought back together again. Major morning update on Wednesday, July 22.

Audition notice: Windfall Theatre
Audition notice

Windfall Theatre

Windfall Theatre holds auditions for its 2009-10 season.

TCD’s Comment “Lottery” – where everyone’s a winner!

TCD’s Comment “Lottery” – where everyone’s a winner!

Thanks to all who tried their "luck" in our comment lottery! You're all winners in our hearts!

5Q: Five Questions for Debra Brehmer
5Q

Five Questions for Debra Brehmer

You may know her as an accomplished artist who specializes in haunting portraiture. Or perhaps you memory of Debra goes all the way back to her founding of the legendary Art Muscle Magazine; perhaps she was your professor at MIAD. Or maybe you just want to know what's going on with her latest venture, Susceptible to Images. Whatever you know, or don't know yet, about Debra Brehmer, she's an icon of Milwaukee's art scene old guard - and a fascinating person to know.

5Q: Five questions for Milwaukee Film’s Jonathan Jackson
5Q

Five questions for Milwaukee Film’s Jonathan Jackson

Milwaukee Film Artistic Director Jonathan Jackson answers five of YOUR questions about film in Milwaukee.

Flash Mob Architects Invade Milwaukee

Flash Mob Architects Invade Milwaukee

Monday I was standing on the corner of 1st Street and Pittsburgh Ave. in Walker’s Point, chatting with a co-worker, when we eyed an organized ruckus underway in the abandoned parking lot across the street. “Parking lot” is actually a rather generous term for the space, which could more accurately be classified as a thin, vaguely triangular strip of gravel littered with debris. But what was happening on that strip was nothing short of a transformation.

Princess Peach, Sparrow and the new no-holds barred gender equality

Princess Peach, Sparrow and the new no-holds barred gender equality

It’s spring break at my house and I’m trying to work more from home this week to maximize face time with the youngsters. It’s been kind of hit and run so far, but it’s still nice. Today I took a break in the afternoon to hang out in the family room with my 11 and […]

What’s Hot Wednesday: Weigh in now!
What’s Hot Wednesday

Weigh in now!

ThirdCoast’s Jon Anne Willow is a guest panelist every Wednesday on WTMJ-4’s “What’s Hot” news segment. Weigh in on today’s topics! 1. Packers announce 2009 schedule. The team will enjoy 5 nationally televised games despite their poor season last year. Is this justified? 2. Why do people wait until the last minute to prepare their […]

Zweig Public Art Project to go to full council this morning

Zweig Public Art Project to go to full council this morning

Despite the efforts of outspoken detractors Bob Donovan (Ald., 8th District) and Joe Dudzik (Ald., 11th District) to kill the project in committee, a full house of supporters of the project that included Visit Milwaukee (title) Dave Fantle, Cultural Alliance Executive Director Christine Harris and many others, joined the project’s elected supporters – especially Nic […]

Public comment opportunity on Streetscape Project Tuesday morning

Public comment opportunity on Streetscape Project Tuesday morning

On Tuesday, April 14 at 8 a.m., Milwaukee’s Public Works Committee (in City Hall Room 301-B) will again be considering the Janet Zweig proposal for the Streetscape Arts Project. Public comment is invited. This Committee will vote up or down on the project. Procedurally, it is likely to be taken out of Committee (no matter […]

Milwaukee Rep Announces Latest Pay-What-You-Can Performances

Milwaukee Rep Announces Latest Pay-What-You-Can Performances

If you’re looking for an affordable way to see some great live theater, Milwaukee Repertory Theater offers Pay What You Can for select performances, you literally pay what you can afford for the ticket. (A minimum donation of $5.00 is suggested.) Tickets go on sale at 5:30 on the day of the Pay What You […]

Rethinking journalism: let’s get small
Rethinking journalism

let’s get small

It’s been another terrible week for newspapers. Four Michigan cities will soon be without dailies; Reuters reported yesterday that Conley Media is cutting the Monday editions of the Waukesha Freeman and the West Bend Daily News (what will they call it now?); Cox Publications is cutting about 245 jobs at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution; Hearst Corp. […]

Rethinking journalism: It’s time to change the conversation
Rethinking journalism

It’s time to change the conversation

Newspapers are too often confused with news. But if the container no longer works, it's time to find one that does. This is a re-post (with additions) of an earlier story.

It’s your world, explore away.

It’s your world, explore away.

As most people reading this know, we at Vital Media group were, until very recently, the publishers of VITAL Source Magazine. For seven years VITAL lived in print, found monthly on stands around the Milwaukee metro. Focusing mostly on arts and culture with some coverage of community initiatives and issues, VITAL was a great little mag […]

VITAL Source makes NY Times, thanks to MJS

VITAL Source makes NY Times, thanks to MJS

Sheesh. Say what you want about the declining importance of our nation’s foremost daily newspapers, but I bet if you made the New York Times you’d tell all your neighbors. I know I would… and so I am. This morning we were all in the office, just settling into our coffee and email, when the […]

Thanks to our Fearless Leaders

Thanks to our Fearless Leaders

Not much time to write at the moment, but I wanted to extend my sincere thanks to everyone who attended our Fearless Leaders Awards last Thursday evening. There was so much warmth in the room, and our leaders told some incredible personal stories that brought laughter, tears and smiles to the faces of all within […]

Weighing in on the big announcement

Weighing in on the big announcement

I’m pretty sure this will be the last word on the subject of how it went when we made the announcement to go online full time, but I’ve gotten some really interesting feedback that I wanted to share. With only a couple of exceptions, the response from people was 100% positive, but a few folks […]

What’s going on

What’s going on

What’s going on? Monday was kind of crazy around here. We announced that we are ceasing printing of our beloved VITAL Source, effective immediately, which in turn led to a (bigger than we expected) flood of emails, phone calls and damage control. But wait… immediately? Seems kind of sudden, doesn’t it? Seems so to us […]

VITAL Source is NOT calling it quits

VITAL Source is NOT calling it quits

So Rick Romell, who I was told was one of the best business reporters in the newsroom over at the ailing Journal Sentinel, posted a news brief on their website this evening that was cause for concern in several areas: 1. It was embargoed until Monday – a BIG journalistic no-no 2. It was grossly […]

This is Fearless

This is Fearless

By Amy Elliott, Brian Jacobson, Erin Petersen, Erin Wolf Introduction by Jon Anne Willow, photograph by Erin Landry The idea of leadership has been receiving a lot of play lately, not only in the media but also in the conversations of everyday people. Too often, in the last several years in particular, the term “leadership” […]

Imagine if you will…

Imagine if you will…

It’s been a long and grinding year, from the shotgun start of the presidential primaries to the historic election of Barack Obama and the concurrent (though unrelated) collapse of financial markets worldwide. You were there – you know – and you don’t need me to offer up yet another post-mortem on a year that can […]

We’re all in this together

We’re all in this together

Occasionally I find myself in the awkward position of having to file this column in the figurative hours just before a momentous event. This time, of course, it’s the race between Barack Obama and John McCain for the presidency. I could have gone ahead and predicted the ’04 elections and written from that perspective, and […]

One Question

One Question

In the run-up to this historic election cycle, VITAL asked a sampling of your elected officials one question. We deliberately chose politicians at the city, county, state and federal levels, both Republicans and Democrats, in the hope that the responses of five different people who serve their constituencies from different horizons of perspective would offer […]

Reconsidering the turkey

Reconsidering the turkey

The other day my son and I were driving in the country when we saw a small rafter of wild turkeys hanging out by the side of the road. We stopped to watch, which eventually caused the big tom to lead the dozen or so females and adolescents back to the tall meadow stand at […]

Chances are

Chances are

In America, life is dangerous. We hear ominous factoids all the time about the ways we’re in danger every time we eat, breathe, talk on our phones or walk down the street. In a very general way, we all have a sense that something bad could happen at any time. And it’s true! To illustrate, […]

I want to believe

I want to believe

A couple of weekends ago I painted my back landing. When I bought my house in early 2001 almost every wall was a flat white – supposedly to attract buyers – and I’ve been meaning to remedy this ever since. But time does have a way of slipping into the future and over the ensuing […]

Mavericks and Leaders

Mavericks and Leaders

There are only three paths in life for a free spirit: lazy dreamer, maverick and leader. Of course there’s a fourth option, and one that many attempt – some to the end of their days – avoidance of embracing one’s true nature. The strongest of these reassure themselves that they’re “doing the right thing” by […]

Mavericks and leaders

Mavericks and leaders

There are only three paths in life for a free spirit: lazy dreamer, maverick and leader. Of course there’s a fourth option, and one that many attempt – some to the end of their days – avoidance of embracing one’s true nature. The strongest of these reassure themselves that they’re “doing the right thing” by […]

Faster than the speed of time

Faster than the speed of time

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t waste at least a little thinking space over how much time speeds up as we age. The phenomenon has spawned numerous mathematical theories and countless arguments about physiology and environment that keep mathematicians and social scientists eternally butting heads in the halls of academia. In real life, the passage […]

No more gilding the lily

No more gilding the lily

“To gild refined gold, to paint the lily… is wasteful and ridiculous excess.” —Shakespeare, from King John (1595): This morning my son and I were planning his 10th birthday party. I live in East Town Tosa, a neighborhood that straddles the border between affluent aspirations and working class reality. His first few years of school, […]

Three Signs

Three Signs

I am superstitious, so I’m wondering what’s coming our way based on three signs I was given this morning. 1. A practically mythical turtle, whose singularly rare appearance is supposed to portend a major event, has been found by Cleveland Metroparks Zoo researchers in a lake in Vietnam. 2. An earthquake measuring 5.2 on the […]

New Model Army

New Model Army

I started writing my column this month on booze in the newsroom and other lost traditions. In my 21 years in journalism, I’ve witnessed the devolution of media culture from free-wheeling hotbeds of professional tension and excessive living into hushed, corporate cubicle warrens, with reporters and sales folk alike watching their companies’ stock prices as […]

VITAL’s 2008 – 2009 Spring Fine Arts Season Preview

VITAL’s 2008 – 2009 Spring Fine Arts Season Preview

By Jon Anne Willow and Lindsey Huster Spring brings a sea change in our fair city. Longer days, warmer nights and anticipation of the summer’s inherent ease all conspire to turn the tide of a particularly grueling winter. Yes, change is in the air in so many ways. From the White House to Wall Street […]

Oh, those brilliant/lucky Clintons

Oh, those brilliant/lucky Clintons

The Clintons have always been brilliant politicians, possibly among the most amazing in all of American history. Bill’s got a little narcissistic egg on his face at the moment after his recent over-indulgences on his wife’s campaign trail, but he’ll pull back and be fine in a few years when America once again remembers the […]

Then I looked up

Then I looked up

Yesterday I had an anti-epiphany. At least I think that’s what it was; I’ve never had one before and I’m not sure about the correct term for what I experienced. Epiphanies are big realizations or sudden flashes of inspiration. What I experienced was more like suddenly remembering something obvious I used to know and shouldn’t […]

You don’t get a medal for showing up

You don’t get a medal for showing up

At VITAL, our new year begins in February. I’d like to thank everyone once again for their support. It used to be a thrill just to write the rent check that proved we weren’t just a home office vanity project; as we’ve matured, though, my view of this whole endeavor has evolved. I have a […]

Naked is a state of mind

Naked is a state of mind

2007 was quite a year. It’s a true and complete summary, and pretty much expresses the one universal aspect of the passage of the twelve month period we’ve culturally agreed spans a calendar cycle. The events themselves were for me,as for you, momentous in ways, predictable in others. Periods of unbelievable chaos intermingled with bouts […]

Fantle gives the Bronze Fonz back story

Fantle gives the Bronze Fonz back story

“Bronze the Fonz.” Bewilderingly, this simple phrase has rekindled Milwaukee’s on-again, off-again debate about public art. On one side is the art community, with illuminati ranging from MARN Executive Director and Hotcakes Gallery owner Mike Brenner to Milwaukee Art Museum CEO David Gordon to Brooks Barrow, owner of a gallery of the same name, protesting […]

Learning to Fly

Learning to Fly

There will be parties and openings. There will be better, more informed coverage of and commentary on local culture from the ground up, ramping up our website so we can bring you even more new stuff all month long. And starting with this issue, we’re commissioning our covers for at least the next year. Each will feature original artwork created just for VITAL by some of the city’s most talented painters, illustrators and photographers. It may or may not be related to anything inside the book; it’s a canvas, not a story illustration. And it’s pretty damn exciting.

How very exciting for us

How very exciting for us

On December 1, after almost four wonderful years in our current offices in Riverwest, we’re moving to the Arts Building in Walker’s Point, located at 133 W. Pittsburgh Ave. The space is amazing, affordable and will allow us to warehouse client materials from our distribution business all in one spot plus have secure parking, an […]

We’ve got to help Alan Keyes

We’ve got to help Alan Keyes

Typically I don’t read every political email I receive anymore than I pore over my spam, but sometimes a subject line catches my attention. Recently, Alan Keyes was excluded from a Fox News-sponsored Florida GOP debate on the premise that he didn’t have the required 1% straw poll vote, even though the Iowa Poll allegedly […]

A matter of perspective

A matter of perspective

By Blaine Schultz, Jon Anne Willow and Kenya Evans + Photos by Kat Jacobs and Erin Landry In planning this story, we originally set out to pair young musicians with seasoned veterans and see what kind of school would be in session as a result. But what happened instead was vastly more interesting: organic dialogue […]

5Q:  Chris Abele
5Q

Chris Abele

‘Chris Abele’ and ‘Argosy’ may draw blank stares from the average Joe or Jane; ask a local arts supporter, though, and you’ll get a knowing nod. Abele is the 41-year-old head of the Argosy Foundation, established by his father John, co-founder of Boston Scientific, in 1997. The foundation moved from Boston to Milwaukee, where Chris […]

The Editor’s Desk:  Your papers, please
The Editor’s Desk

Your papers, please

In August, Lucky and I went to Monterey, California, to visit our dad. We had an amazing time driving the coastal highway through Big Sur, picnicking on a friend’s private beach and cooking like the three of us were still the big Italian family we grew up with. But it wasn’t all just for a […]

Editor’s Desk:  Green is the new black
Editor’s Desk

Green is the new black

“In 60 seconds, you can make toast, water a fichus, take a power nap and, now, save the Earth.” That’s heavy stuff, especially coming from renowned global climate expert Cameron Diaz. She’s teamed up with Al Gore on his latest megalomedia campaign, 60 Seconds to Save the Earth, a contest where young people can submit […]

The Editor’s Desk:  Cheap adversaries
The Editor’s Desk

Cheap adversaries

We’re having a tribe rummage sale soon, and it’s long overdue. We’ll all be attempting to foist off what we no longer have room for on people who still have some space or, ideally, an actual need for it. It’s time to purge. Yesterday I took two pickup trucks full of stuff to my sister’s […]

The Editor’s Desk:  A crash course in teen parenting
The Editor’s Desk

A crash course in teen parenting

Dear Readers, As I write my column this month, I’m sitting at my patio table in the early chill of a spring morning. I can only write when I’m alone, and today this is the only quiet corner of my universe. I am so far behind that the rest of the magazine is already at […]

To be young and Polish on a summer evening

To be young and Polish on a summer evening

Lidia Sobierajski has possibly the coolest job held by any young professional in Milwaukee. At the tender age of 34, she’s Director of Polish Fest, the nation’s largest Polish cultural festival. That having been said, it’s among the smaller of the often-Titanic ethnic festivals that descend upon the Maier Grounds in the summer, drawing diverse […]

(Sigh) I’ve outgrown Martin Scorsese

(Sigh) I’ve outgrown Martin Scorsese

The other night I watched Martin Scorsese’s latest, The Departed. Not having paid much attention to mainstream film this last year, I not only didn’t know the film had won several Oscars, but that it was a Scorsese film at all. Michael just brought it home because he’d been wanting to see it, and I […]

OPEN LETTER: Atomic Tattoo victim of personal taste and undue influence
OPEN LETTER

Atomic Tattoo victim of personal taste and undue influence

Normally it’s considered proper etiquette to author one’s own blog, but I received this open letter from three local folks who brought to my attention the poor treatment received by one new local business – Atomic Tattoo on E. North Ave. – from another – Hooligan’s. I was so incensed when I read this letter […]

The Editor’s Desk: Wrong is wrong
The Editor’s Desk

Wrong is wrong

Dear Readers, Freedom to say what you want, smoke where you want and carry a gun in your jacket pocket are all under loud discussion at the moment. The question of how much restraint is appropriate in our local schools should also be near the top of the list, though public outcry on this matter […]

The Editor’s Desk:  Six things you should know about VITAL
The Editor’s Desk

Six things you should know about VITAL

Dear readers, Anyone who’s ever worked in the business of communication knows this to be true: Professional communicators are some of the most ineffective personal communicators. Anyone who’s ever owned a small business knows this to be true as well: By the time you do everything you have to do to get your “product” out […]

Tribal update: Rites of Spring
Tribal update

Rites of Spring

On March 9, I accepted Michael Gull’s proposal for marriage. If you read his blog or have ever seen his stand-up comedy, and if you have ever read my column, you may be thinking “I bet they’re fun to watch the news with.” Or not. For those unfamiliar, we’re the new James Carville and Mary […]

A new hope?

A new hope?

By Jon Anne Willow Dear Readers, First off, thank you to everyone who came down to our 5th birthday party on February 24 at Turner Hall. I will freely admit that at press time the party hasn’t happened yet, so I’ll refrain from any mention of what a huge success it was. I can with […]

Blister on the bun

Blister on the bun

Good for the Violent Femmes. They’ve landed what most bands only dream about – a major deal with a major fast food chain. If there was any question about the long-term financial security of Miltown’s all-time favorite nihilist-pop sensations, we can officially put the issue to rest. It’s nigh unto impossible to turn on network […]

Yeah, we’re five

Yeah, we’re five

By Jon Anne Willow + Mehrdad J. Dalamie From Mehrdad: February 2007 marks the beginning of the sixth year of VITAL Source. As I look back, I cannot help but wonder if we would have survived doing it any differently. By that I mean that all the ambition in the world would not have meant […]

A Soldier’s Question

A Soldier’s Question

This letter is from my friend Joe Klein, who’s stationed in Iraq. I wrote about him last July when he was shipped out. He’s a middle-aged, blissfully married father of two. He’s been there long enough now to start asking the deeper questions. Here’s one he sent me today. Jon Anne, I am currently on […]

Second-Generation Tribe

Second-Generation Tribe

I’ve been home for the holiday and am, as always, amazed at how metro Des Moines, Iowa, has grown and changed since I grew up here. Some of these changes, like shopping centers and multi-lane highways, are to be expected – such things weren’t widely required most places in the Plains region of the Midwest […]

6:30 a.m. – A Thanksgiving letter to my mother
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30 a.m. – A Thanksgiving letter to my mother

Dear Mom, I’m already up, itching to start the turkey. But everyone here is still asleep and I know that as soon as I start banging pots around the whole house will be up. So for now I am enjoying a quiet cup of coffee in the pre-dawn stillness. I am upstairs in my office, […]

Pelosi’s secret sauce

Pelosi’s secret sauce

I have to concur with Matt Wild – Nancy Pelosi is hot. I, too, found myself, just last night, having fevered dreams of a vague nature that involved Ms. Pelosi’s famous smile and those burning brown eyes. Granted, these same dreams were also rife with broader symbolism – my son missing his train to Iowa […]

Are we the last?

Are we the last?

Will my generation be the last to count among themselves at least a few whose ideal weekend afternoon includes sitting at the kitchen table with a cup of warmed up coffee, reading the paper and listening to the game on AM radio? Will the kids who will control the media when we’re old save the […]

5:33 a.m. Bye-bye, Mr. Bowen
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33 a.m. Bye-bye, Mr. Bowen

Those (like myself) who don’t keep a list of all civilian personnel currently embedded in Iraq might not be familiar with attorney Stuart W. Bowen Jr. A Republican and long-time associate of the current president, Bowen was sent to Iraq in 2004 to open a federal oversight agency, the Office of the Special Inspector General […]

And trade “them” for what?

And trade “them” for what?

By Jon Anne Willow Dear Readers, Being a monthly publication has its disadvantages of timing. Never is this more apparent to me than when I have to write this column before a momentous event, knowing most people won’t read it until after. Such is the case with these midterm elections. As of this morning, both […]

3:27 a.m.
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27 a.m.

So on Monday four of us from the office went for a free lunch at Bravo! It’s a new “Italian” place in Bayshore Mall’s soon-to-be-unveiled shopping village. The restaurant itself was passable, with economically-priced entrees of biblical proportions and $6 desserts. The staff was “practicing,” which meant thousands of people got invitations for a complimentary […]

Shoot from the hip

Shoot from the hip

By Jon Anne Willow You may have heard of Cedar Block, Milwaukee’s premiere presenter of offbeat creative events with an emphasis on group participation. You may have heard of Saul Leiter, the New York street photographer who blazed the trail for the use of color in art photography in the mid 20th century. And you […]

What kind are you?

What kind are you?

By Jon Anne Willow Dear Readers, My boyfriend is my favorite kind of conservative. A drive past a “Give Peace a Chance” yard sign is enough to get him started. “I don’t want to hear from anyone about being unhappy with the way things are going unless they have a plan to change it,” is […]

The Letting Go lesson

The Letting Go lesson

Dear Readers, I’ve been living on my own for more than two decades now, and over time I’ve moved slowly, inevitably, towards a more structured existence. Sometimes I get a little misty thinking about the good old days of scoring sofas from the curbs of better neighborhoods and organizing my social life around whose car […]

December 2005

December 2005

By Jon Anne Willow Dear Readers, This is something every American should see. Gyeongju, Republic of KoreaNovember 17, 2005, 12:15 p.m. local timeTranscript excerpt from press conference with South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun Q: Mr. President, Vice President Cheney called it reprehensible for critics to question how you took the country to war, but Senator […]

Redemption Song

Redemption Song

Here’s the thing about Liz Phair. If you’re a great admirer (as I am) you might be intimidated by the prospect of speaking to her directly (as I was). Even as a seasoned feature writer with two decades of bylines in my files, I was so nervous that when her publicist patched us together that […]

Top Fives

Top Fives

By Jon M. “Big ‘Uns” Gilbertson, Vital Source and BeyondFive Albums That Make Me Glad To Have Testicles 1. AC/DC, Highway to Hell2. Afghan Whigs, Black Love3. Public Enemy, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back4. The Stooges, Fun House5. Velvet Underground, White Light/White Heat Kevin Groen, Vital Source Top Five Albums […]

October 2005

October 2005

Dear Readers, In the wake of the mind-bending chain of events in the four years since 9/11, most people who are honest with themselves will acknowledge that their political and social beliefs influence their outward behavior more than in the past. I was not around for McCarthyism; I was a child during Viet Nam, but […]

Liz Phair

Liz Phair

“I don’t have to say what I’m thinking, because the radio’s on and everyone’s heard my latest song.” From “Got My Own Thing” At the water cooler of a figurative Music Lovers World Headquarters, two Liz Phairs are discussed. The first Liz will never overcome the happy accident of having penned one of rock’s all-time […]

Mark Metcalf is the Accidental Actor

Mark Metcalf is the Accidental Actor

Mark Metcalf had been supporting himself as an actor for over ten years before he realized that he really was one. “All during that first decade” he says, “I kept thinking I was going back to the West Coast to get my degree in Marine Biology.” Metcalf, a stage, film and television actor, director, film […]

December 2004

December 2004

Dear Readers, It seems like this would be the month to recount a touching holiday memory, wish everyone peace in the New Year, mention that it’s my two-year anniversary with Vital Source and be done with it. But in the words of Chuck D., I’ve got so much trouble on my mind. I’ve been trying, […]

November 2004

November 2004

Dear Readers, Years from now, I hope to re-read this particular blog and laugh, picturing myself propped up on pillows trying to balance my keyboard on my lap, cursing over not breaking down and getting the laptop which would come in so handy now as I try to type without throwing my back into another […]

October 2004

October 2004

Dear Readers, An oft-discussed but little understood theory of Albert Einstein’s is that of length contraction, in which a decrease in length is experienced by objects traveling at a substantial fraction of the speed of light (at least 10� but only in the direction in which the object is traveling. Extended, this theory applies to […]

October 2004

October 2004

Families on the edge? Having read your article “Brave New Family” in your September issue, I can’t help but think you are missing out on one important aspect in the work-family-money triad. Authors Willow and Tomaszek spoke of the difficult choices parents need to make when it comes to working and raising families, and of […]

December 2003

December 2003

Dear Readers, This is such an emotionally charged time of year. Colder weather, increased contact with family, insane schedules, and the pressures of our consumer economy settle themselves like a weight onto the shoulders of many. Depending on who you are, and/or where you are in your life, you might be heading towards a rush […]

Milwaukee’s New Cellulloid Heroes

Milwaukee’s New Cellulloid Heroes

Everybody’s a dreamer and everybody’s a star and everybody’s in show biz, it doesn’t matter who you are. —The Kinks It’s the story of an event that’s long overdue. Of an idea whose time has finally come. It seems like a natural phase in the evolution Milwaukee’s urban identity, something the city and its leadership […]

November 2003

November 2003

Dear Readers, I’m always hesitant to hail new heroes, especially when all I have to go by is a single action. With that disclaimer, my new hero (not displacing Chief Tonasket out there in Washington) is Nathaniel Heatwole. If you’ve been living in a box, Heatwole is the 20-year old Massachusetts lad who loaded a […]

Milwaukee Colleges

Milwaukee Colleges

The words “higher education” are loaded with meaning. While most would agree that it’s hard to get very far these days without at least some post-high school training, there are as many takes on what constitutes “education” as there are roads to it. For some it’s a Bachelor’s or better from a college or university […]

What the hell?

What the hell?

Dear Readers, I’d like to open this month with a question: What in the hell is going on in America? Have we been so successfully distracted by the “Iraq Conflict” and the near cataclysmic domestic situation that we don’t care about obvious attempts to undermine democratic process? So that’s two questions, but really, what does […]

Riverwest Rising

Riverwest Rising

It’s hard to say where it started. The first “event” could be marked as the racist rally downtown last November. Add to it an undercurrent of widespread frustration stemming from innumerable social ills: a dismal economy; a confusing, seemingly interminable “war on terrorism”; continually decreasing funds for education; a less than successful attempt at welfare […]

August 2003

August 2003

Dear Readers, As a community, we love the Harley. Probably more than any otherwise disparate group of mostly non-riders, Milwaukeeans appreciate the growl of the engine, the flash of the chrome and the signature emblem unique to one of our city’s greatest shared treasures. This month marks Harley Davidson’s 100th anniversary, and the party will […]

July 2003

July 2003

By Jon Anne Willow Dear Readers, First off, I’d like to congratulate the winners of our Danceworks Summer Camp scholarship drawing and essay contest. We received lots of entries (interestingly, not one single essay) and, after tough deliberation, chose three. The winning entries are below, and black and white doesn’t do them justice. Thanks to […]

Lake Michigan’s New Wave:
Lake Michigan’s New Wave

By Jon Anne Willow It’s happening around the world. Corpus Christi, Texas; Tarifa, Spain; Hood River, Oregon; Vancouver Island, British Columbia; The Florida Keys. And now it’s reached the Lake Michigan coastline. The mitigating condition is wind on water: the sport is kiteboarding. It’s a solo sport, but full of camaraderie. It’s wild to watch, […]

June 2003

June 2003

By Jon Anne Willow Dear Readers, With summer just around the bend, the thoughts of many turn to lighter matters. It’s the thing to do, especially for a population whose warm weather days number fewer than national postal holidays. It’s the perfect time to feature one of the fastest growing and exciting sports in the […]

Jon Anne Willow gives “A Little Respect”

Jon Anne Willow gives “A Little Respect”

It was the late 80s, when black turtlenecks and mascara for all ruled the world. On one hot dance floor, two crazy kids find love and a little respect.

May 2003

May 2003

By Jon Anne Willow Dear Readers, It’s been a month of highs and lows, a state of being which seems to be going around. Science buffs may recall here the first law of thermodynamics, which states that energy under normal conditions cannot be created or destroyed, but simply transformed from one type of energy to […]

April 2003

April 2003

Dear Readers, Between the time this issue of Vital Source was created and actual press time, America entered into war with Iraq. This is one of the disadvantages of being a monthly publication, and our lack of coverage of the war and its implications, for April anyway, cannot be helped. For May, I would love […]