Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Calatrava, Shmalatrava

I have a mission: it’s to get Milwaukee locals [particularly WTMJ newscasters!] to stop referring to the Milwaukee Art Museum Quadracci Pavilion as “The Calatrava.” I am not exactly sure why it has become such a pet peeve of mine, but it has. We have a beautiful, world-renowned landmark and broadcasting professionals often refer to it in a manner befitting a simpleton. And I might forgive if it were called that by the general public, but the media?! They should know better plus they continuously reinforce the use of this hokey colloquialism!

The reason this graceful addition to the museum even exists is due to the generosity of the Quadracci family (among many others). It’s an insult to the donors if it’s not called by its proper name. This is especially true over the long term. Here’s a good example: we refer to The Bradley Center by its proper name: The Bradley Center a building whose funds were donated as a gift to the State of Wisconsin by philanthropists Jane and Lloyd Pettit in memory of Jane's late father, Harry Lynde Bradley of the Allen-Bradley company. Mr. Bradley is a very important person in Milwaukee’s history and I can’t say the name of the building without a quick mental nod to the man. We do not refer to it as “The HOK Sport” - the building’s architectural firm. Posterity should remember our beautiful art museum as an important gift to Milwaukee by a generous and culturally contributory family.

Next, referring to the building as “The Calatrava” is ambiguous. Calatrava is the last name (or middle) of the world-renowned architect: Santiago Calatrava Valls. If you perform a Google image search for "The Calatrava" ( you will see a few pictures of the Milwaukee Art Museum, but more importantly, you will see other magnificent works of his from around the globe. Now perform an image search for "The Quadracci Pavilion" ( and what do you see? That's right Milwaukee's one and only!

The exception to calling a structure by the architect’s name seems to be limited to fair and amusement park attractions: The “Eiffel” Tower or The “Ferris” Wheel. Until I can slide down the Milwaukee Art Museum’s Brise Soliel, we should proudly refer to our city’s architectural centerpiece as the Quadracci Pavilion. If you’d like to refer to it as the Santiago Calatrava-designed Quadracci Pavilion wing of the Milwaukee Art Museum, I’d be okay with that too.

With a little luck, we will all start referring to our city’s masterpiece with language that shows that our museum is not the only thing that’s world-class about Milwaukee, but so are its citizens.
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Friday, January 28, 2011

Little Cheeseheads

This picture of my wife (Kay, the tall one!) was the most fun I ever had taking a picture. The place was Tthe Pettit National Ice Center in Milwaukee. The picture was taken late in the day after the completion of The InStep Icebreaker Indoor Marathon Relay. We had just taken a picture of my relay team and Kay said, “Hey! Take my picture up there!” As she jumped up to the top of the podium, a bunch of small children ran up and started climbing the podium too. I knew potentially a great picture opportunity was near, but could we get all of these crumb-crunchers to stand still and look at the camera and, if we could, how long would they stay that way? Then, in a brief moment, they all looked towards the camera and I snapped it. Perfect! I also had to combat my own laughter as I was chuckling the whole time they climbed up.
Let the parents know if you recognize any of these kids. We don’t know any of them!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

I'm a Wanderer

I travel a lot for work, but one thing that separates me from many other frequent fliers is that I seldom seek the refuge of my hotel room in the evenings. Sometimes I have to stay in. Just the past few nights I was so engrossed and involved in my work that there were no chances to get out and explore, but give me a few hours, and I am out the door!

Yesterday was a good example: I've been many places, but I have never spent a single night in Tennessee - for work, pleasure, or other (roadtrip lodging!). After an intense 3 days of work at a good customer's in Murfreesboro, I took an two and a half hours to drive to Nashville before my flight home to see what was goin’ on there. In that short span of time, I discovered Broadway Street and the marvelous assortment of establishments that fill the area in the shadow of the historic Ryman Auditorium. What a great surprise! I found out that live music is played daily in at least 10 establishments … in the middle of the day! I visited numerous joints with the most fascinating being the famous Tootsie's. In a 15-minute stop at Tootsie's I was brought nearly to tears when I heard a beautifully sung sad song I had never heard before, then grinned broadly from ear-to-ear with a rollicking rendition of Linda Ronstadt's "When Will I Be Loved?" I also visited the legendary Ernest Tubb Record Shop and picked up a cool photo of Elvis with Johnny Cash [or is it Johnny Cash with Elvis?] and an Eddie Cochran's Greatest Hits CD. [Bonus: the clerk was wearing a Packer sweatshirt!]

The point of this story is life is too short not to take advantage of these opportunities. I always feel a little sorry for business travelers that don't. Heck, in the past 2 years I've seen some of the US's most incredible sights just by taking the long way back to the hotel or taking a short diversion back to the airport. In no way is this meant to sound like I am bragging [though I fear it might], but in the past year, I've seen or done the following:

  • Ran around Lake Estes at Estes Park, CO with the roaming elk nearby
  • Visited Philadelphia's magnificent City Hall
  • Tried many fantastic brews at the original Dogfish Head Brewery in Rehoboth Beach, DE
  • Explored Music City, USA (see above)
  • Ate like a king in Baltimore's Little Italy
  • Curvy, swervy drive up to awesome Virgina City, NV
  • Walked more miles around the Gold Coast (Chicago) than probably many locals ever have
  • Drove Hwy 1 back to San Francisco from wine country (this one took longer than I expected!)
  • and many more.
Sometimes these detours were a little inconvenient, but never once did I regret trading a forgettable night in a hotel room for the opportunity to form an indelible lifetime memory. If I could implore you to do anything, it’s not vote the way I vote, or think the way I think, but take advantage of those small opportunities that come along every once in a while. You won’t regret them and may just help you see the world in a little different light – a brighter light!
The above was written with my thumbs on an Android phone at 29,000 feet. Because it was typed slowly and with poor overall visibility on a small screen, it was difficult to write. Reading it over, I don’t think it even represents close to my best blogging, but my sentiment remains the same so I am going to run with it anyway. Thanks for reading and have a great day!

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Gameday, from Milwaukee's General Mitchell airport. January 23, 2011.

Today is a big deal in the life of a Packer fan - of which I have been since I was 8-years old. I was born in Milwaukee and lived there until my dad decided to move north to be closer to family and friends that lived in Michigan's Upper Penninsula. We settled in a tiny little town north of Green Bay about 35 miles. It was there where Packer fanaticism was irrevocably instilled into my blood. I could live in other cities and ultimately start rooting for their baseball or basketball teams, but never could I root for their football team - at least not if they were playing against the Packers!

Fast forward to today - the day of one of the biggest game in team history: the NFC Championship game against the lifelong rival Chicago Bears. I was put in a bit of a quandary when - near the last minute! - I was asked to report to work in Murfreesboro, Tennessee on Monday morning. Not a big deal at first, but then as I looked at my available flight options, it became clear that there were no flights to Nashville that wouldn't interfere with my viewing of the game. Except one: the dreaded 6 a.m. departure. So that's the one I opted for. If my travel plans go smoothly, after a short stop in Charlotte, I should be safely on the ground in Nashville by 10:30 a.m. I'll be left with plenty of time to find a good spot to watch the game.

You can really tell this is a unique day just from the people at the airport! As a frequent traveler, I usually cringe when I see a bunch of roly-poly Sconnies in another city all decked out in the their green and gold finest, but today is truly an exception. There are people all over this place sporting Packerwear and instead of being cringe-inducing, it's inspirational! I am pumped and a little embarrassed that I call myself a life-long fan, but I have no Packerwear to wear! Well I do, but it's got that obnoxious number 4 on the front and back which will someday look good one a large boy in Bangladesh, but that's another story.

So my plane is about to board and I'll be out of reach for a few hours until kick-off. Until then, tchuss and GO PACK GO!
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Thursday, January 20, 2011

We're Not Worthy!

That's how I feel after friend Jane Somers invited me and Kay to the coolest event: dinner backstage at the Riverside Theatre tonight! She was the winning bidder for dinner for 4 backstage at a WMSE private auction. It's described as:


It’s not enough that the Pabst Theater Foundation raised the bar for concert-going experiences in Milwaukee on Earth. Now they want to redefine dinner parties for you. Want the details? Well, I’m just going to go ahead and paste the copy they sent us describing their donated Food Slam auction item, because I’m getting a little light-headed from the awesomeness:


Here’s a unique venue for a dinner party. Chef to the Stars Kevin Sloan will cater a dinner for four guests BACKSTAGE in the Dining Room at the Riverside Theater. It usually requires a back- stage pass to experience this chef’s cuisine. The former restaurant owner who also worked at Sanford and Lake Park Bistro has created four-star meals for dozens of entertainers from The National to Neil Young. Mix and mingle with staff from WMSE and the Pabst Theater for an evening to remember.

You will win dinner for four people (4), and will be joined by staff from WMSE and the Pabst.

So as I was thinking "We're not worthy!" it really cracked me up to think that that's what Wayne and Garth said to Alice Cooper when they went backstage at - where else? - The Riverside Theater!! 

What a coincidence, huh? I am going to be saying "Thanks!" and "We're not worthy!" to Jane a lot!