Bringing sexy back

By - Aug 15th, 2008 02:52 pm
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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 extremely sexy and awe-inspiring Cori Coffman. Diamonds, one-half of the sexy and super-hot-right-now DJ duo The Glamour, provided the dance party and the aroma of horseradish-braised short ribs, marsala-soaked mushrooms and handmade port-infused chocolate and croquemboche from The Social and Times Square Pizzeria and Bistro wafted through the room. The turn out was incredible, everyone looked sexy and the photography – the party’s raison d’etre – was amazing.

After the show, I rode my sexy bicycle down to the beautiful Pabst Theater, where a huge crowd of attractive young people had amassed for the sold-out Bon Iver concert. Justin Vernon, the pensive, haunting falsetto from Eau Claire, is a certified world-wide phenom, and I have never seen a show at the Pabst as packed to the gills as this one; Vernon himself kept telling us how amazing he felt to be playing at home, in Wisconsin, for a crowd so massively loving.

During the incredible, captivating performance, I thought about Unmasked and Anonymous, the new Koss Gallery show at the Milwaukee Art Museum of portraiture by, primarily, Wisconsin photographers John Shimon and Julie Lindemann. Ryan and I went to the press preview on Wednesday, where we had the chance to preview the stunningly installed exhibition and hear Julie and John talk about their work. We met them at lunch afterward, where Julie told us about their decision to come back to Wisconsin after grad school in southern Illinois and a stint in New York City; they were fascinated, she said, by rural life, Wisconsin Death Trip, Orson Welles. Unmasked and Anonymous features portraiture from dozens of other photographers, including some important figures from Wisconsin art history like Walter Sheffer, Francis Ford and Stanley Ryan Jones. It was such a revelation to see robust and vivid evidence of Wisconsin’s art life in a way that’s not regionally ghettoized or superficially trendy.

Julie and John are based in Manitowoc, an almost archetypically un-sexy city. But they love it. “We’re basically hicks,” she said. If it’s true, they’re the most glamorous hicks I’ve ever met: impeccable, mod, retro and devastatingly sexy. Holy shit, I thought to myself leaving the Museum. Wisconsin is so great.

So you get my drift here: yeah, Milwaukee is sexy, and it’s about time somebody had the gall to say so. Unfortunately, the Journal Sentinel, after deciding to put this ultimately irrelevant fluff piece on the front page, poised the article in quizzical terms: what? Sexy? Aren’t we all just drunk, dairy-chubby cheese lovers?

Once again, faced with an opportunity to live up to our burgeoning reputation as a sexy, cool, young, fun city, we stumble over our dogged insistence that we’re all a bunch of small-town jerk-offs with nothing better to do than complain about Brett Favre. Every single Milwaukee resident quoted in the story expresses wonder or flat-out derision:

“But aren’t we the fattest city?” said Jon Bailey, 26.

“I wouldn’t call all us sexy,” said Dobs, co-owner of Urban Sense, a flower shop on W. Vliet St. “I would call it more hometown.”

“I’ve just been brainwashed with what I’ve heard and read” about the city, Jenkins said. “And cheeseheads and beer are not sexy. Sorry.”

It’s especially shocking to me that the owner of Bayou – A SEXY CAJUN RESTAURANT – can’t come to terms with Milwaukee’s sexiness.

What is our problem? Where do these people hang out? How many sexy new nightspots, world-class architectural marvels, independent businesses, art galleries, swanky restaurants, refurbished loft apartments, beach parties, music venues, terrific local bands, record shops and boutiques have to happen before we stop shooting ourselves in the feet?

Every sexy woman on this staff has spent the morning in state of righteous indignation at our inability to accept a nice compliment once in a while. Let’s be gracious, proud and sexy, and let’s move on.

Categories: VITAL

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