More National Attention, They Mean

Posted in Milwaukee on December 17th, 2014 by Noggle

Fate of Mary Nohl’s ‘witch’s house’ gets national attention:

The fate of Mary Nohl’s art environment in Fox Point, referred to be generations of Wisconsin teenagers as the “witch’s house,” made national news over the weekend.

An essay by Debra Brehmer, a gallery owner in Milwaukee and one of the leading scholars on Nohl’s work was published Friday at Hyperallergic, a widely read art site, the art world’s equivalent of The Huffington Post. The story went viral over the weekend. It has been “liked” more than 4,000 times and by Monday morning was listed as the site’s top story.

Well, how do you like that? Here at MfBJN, we’ve been writing about the Witch’s House since 2006 (see The Milwaukee Witch’s House, Whitney Gould on the Nohl House, and It’s Just As Well They’re Moving It; I’ve Forgotten The Way), and do I get accolades for drawing attention to this unique landmark? Of course not! I am no la-di-dah art critic writing for a niche publication.

Also, it is fair to say, I’ve not received 4000 likes in the eleven years I’ve been blogging.

But, to sum up: They’re still probably moving it; there’s not a lot of news on that front, although it has been reported on a niche art site.

The Place My Paychecks Went To Die

Posted in Milwaukee on December 11th, 2014 by Noggle

On Milwaukee has a tour (from 2012) of an old, closed mall: Inside a ghost mall: Northridge sits quietly, unknown future ahead:

If you grew up in Milwaukee or have lived here for some time, you certainly remember Northridge Mall.

The 800,000-square foot former shopping center on the corner of 76th St. and Brown Deer Road sits just 10 minutes from River Hills, one of Milwaukee’s most affluent suburbs. Built by Herb Kohl and his partners, it opened in 1973, a virtual carbon copy of Southridge. And after a slow decline, it finally shut its doors 30 years later in 2003.

Back when I was at the university, my job was on 76th Street, so it was easy after clocking out on a Friday night and cashing a paycheck to hop on the number 67 bus to Northridge, where I could spend my less than a hundred bucks at Suncoast Video, Sam Goody, Babbage’s, Waldenbooks, and B. Dalton’s (yes, children, there were two bookstores in the mall in those days before Amazon.com. Sometimes, my friend Doug and I would walk a block to Camelot Music, which was a store in itself and larger than Goody. And at the end of the evening, I’d spread the loot on my bunk and enjoy all the prospects of the weekend to come. What first? The music? The books? The video games? The videocassettes?

It’s funny, now that I’m older and I can just get what I want if I want it that nothing really captures the anticipation I got from that.

Looking through the pictures of the empty mall, I can still tell where things were and where the pictures were taken.

(Link seen on Facebook.)

Undoubtedly, The New Colors Will Be Silver And Black, And The New Logo Will Be A Deer Skull

Posted in Milwaukee, Sports on May 31st, 2014 by Noggle

The Milwaukee Bucks are getting a new owner a new look:

Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry said Friday in a radio interview that he and co-owner Wesley Edens are strongly considering a change in the team’s traditional colors of red, green and silver.

Lasry did not say what a new color scheme would be but said, “We’re definitely looking at doing that (making a change). It does need a little bit of help.”

The most drastic change is how Milwaukee’s going to be spelled Seattle.

(The title refers to a grudge I hold for the owners of the Milwaukee Admirals who bollixed the team’s colors and logo eight years ago.)

It’s Just As Well They’re Moving It; I’ve Forgotten The Way

Posted in Milwaukee on March 28th, 2014 by Noggle

The Milwaukee Witch’s House is going places:

After more than a decade of sometimes acrimonious debates about its fate, the Mary Nohl House — the Fox Point cottage sometimes called “the witch’s house” — will be dismantled and moved piece by piece from its affluent neighborhood to a site in Sheboygan County, where the public can have ready access to it, the house’s owners said Thursday.

Back in the early 1990s, we’d cruise by that place late on a Saturday night and see the installation eerie by moonlight. But it’s been so long, I might not be able to find my way there any more. But there is going somewhere else.

(Read my essay on the Witch’s House and its story from 2006.)

St. Louis Presumes Too Much

Posted in Milwaukee, Music, St. Louis on March 24th, 2014 by Noggle

The city of St. Louis is about to hand the keys of its kingdom to some out-of-town company promising to make St. Louis just like a Real City by having music festivals, and some writer at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch dares, DARES compare the music festivals to be named later to Summerfest in Milwaukee.

Friends, Summerfest in Milwaukee is the best music festival in the known inhabited planets of the galaxy. It has twelve hours of music daily for ten days in the summer, and it has, what, ten? A dozen? stages with acts running almost constantly from local bands in the early afternoon to regional bands in the early evening to a national act headlining each stage at night. And there’s a major national act at the Marcus Ampitheatre with attendant opening acts every evening.

How dare does a St. Louisian compare anything St. Louis and its out-of-state lackeys can produce to Summerfest?

Brothers and sisters, here is a potential list of national acts likely to play Summerfest this year.

Note that this list comprises the headline acts for the ground stages at the musical festival. Not the major acts booked to the Marcus Ampitheatre.

QED.

Cannons Across The River

Posted in History, Milwaukee on June 12th, 2012 by Noggle

In the frontier days, before the American Civil War engulfed the entire nation and after the Revolutionary War turned Tories against Patriots, a smaller conflict erupted into violence between settlements in southeastern Wisconsin. Riots burned bridges that connected Kilborntown and Juneautown, two rivals on separated from one another by a single river. Tensions rose over the course of several years, culminating in the mustering of a cannon prepared to fire upon the enemy. Only a cool speaker with convincing eloquence prevented the neighbors from firing artillery upon fellow Americans.

The land at the meeting place of the three rivers had been visited by the white man for centuries, but by the early 1830s, the remaining Native American tribes had signed treaties to cede the lands. In 1835, these lands sold at an auction in Green Bay to land speculators. Two of the men, Byron Kilbourn and Solomon Juneau, created settlements on opposite banks of the river.

From the start, the two men and their towns were at odds as each tried to promote his settlement and land holdings at the expense of the other. No bridges connected the two towns, and Byron Kilbourn owned a number of vessels that brought trade and settlers to his side of the river—but nothing to Juneautown. The residents east of the river rankled as they were isolated. The founders of the towns even laid their settlements out such that the streets didn’t align to make bridge building easy.

In 1840, the territorial legislature decreed that the ferry system wasn’t adequate, and that bridges should be constructed to join the settlements. The settlements, though, didn’t want to join nor to spend their own money to make travel and trade easier for the enemy. Tensions rose even as the frameworks for the bridges did. By 1845, the simmering rose to a boil called the Great Bridge War.

In early May, a vessel on the river destroyed the Spring Street Bridge. In retaliation, residents of Kilbourntown destroyed the west end of the Chestnut Street bridge. An angry mob in Juneautown brought out the cannon, loaded it, and aimed it for Byron Kilbourn’s house on the other side of the river. As the ruffians were to light the fuse, a level-headed orator amongst them prevented them from striking the tinder, as Kilbourn’s recently-dead daughter lie in state in the home at the time. He prevented the firing, but not further violence. Other riots ensued, and the cannon made another appearance on May 28, 1845, as the Juneautown irregulars destroyed a bridge over the Menomonee River. Again, the east siders didn’t fire, but their efforts continued to impede the bridge builders.

For much of 1845, the two settlements and their ruffians used riots and skirmishes to make points. One crossing the river in either direction needed to be wary and often carry a white flag to pass safely. But the currents of progress carried the settlements downstream, to eventual agreement. In 1846, a greater city charter was ratified. The city of Milwaukee arose from the two warring settlements that had come but one impassioned plea from firing artillery at each other.

The effects of this dispute remain visible today. Bridges and drawbridges cross the Milwaukee River at odd angles to link streets built by two warring settlements in the middle of the nineteenth century, and the people from the West Side think the people from the East Side are crazy (and vice versa).

Further reading:

A Very Cudahy Story

Posted in Milwaukee on December 18th, 2011 by Noggle

This is the Milwaukee I knew:

According to a police report Newsradio 620 WTMJ obtained, Darrell and Michelle Jaskulski walked in to Rollie’s Tap Tavern on South Packard Avenue in Cudahy late Saturday night.

The Jaskulskis claim that Eder started yelling at them and called them scum of the earth before ordering them to leave the bar.

Eder, however, claims the Jaskulskis became belligerent when they were asked to sign the recall petition and said they wouldn’t leave. Eder then asked the other people in the bar if they wanted the Jaskulskis to leave, and they said they did.

At some point another man, Brian Wachowiak, who was sitting nearby, told the couple that they needed to leave. Darrell Jaskulski approached Wachowiak and a fight started.

Michelle Jaskulski ran over and got into a fight with Wachowiak’s girlfriend Michelle Wirth. Police arrived a short time later and broke it up.

Remembering Albert

Posted in Milwaukee on December 12th, 2011 by Noggle

Not Pujols, Albert the Alley Cat.

When I saw this LP Cover Lover post, I immediately recognized Albert the Alley Cat.

Albert the Alley Cat record cover

He was still appearing on WITI-TV, Channel 6, in Wisconsin when I was a kid, a throwback to the 1950s.

Here’s a Web page with his history, including a Real Audio version of the songs on the record.

It’s nothing important, but sometimes one does find a bit of his youth out there in the Internets.

(Unrelated link to LP Cover Lovers courtesy Dustbury.)

One Of These Things Is Like The Other

Posted in Milwaukee, St. Louis on August 4th, 2011 by Noggle

Federal budget axe could fall in St. Louis, eventually:

The city of St. Louis could feel the burden of such a failure in cuts to community development block grants, relied on to provide a host of services from safety to streetlights to housing for the elderly and homeless. The city already is anticipating diminished funding for roads, as less federal money flows to states.

Also, a dramatic reduction in money for new rail projects has dimmed hopes of extending MetroLink any time soon. For the next two years, barring the unforeseen, the debt compromise this week provides a measure of stability for existing services. Anything beyond that, observed James Brown, who lobbies in Washington for the city of St. Louis, “is precarious.”

Report: State budget pushes Milwaukee County deeper into fiscal hole:

The new state budget has pushed Milwaukee County more than $21 million deeper into a fiscal hole, increasing the chances that massive service cuts could be needed to fill the gap, a nonpartisan local think tank says in a report being released Wednesday.

Transit, parks and social services all could be chopped, while layoffs and benefit cuts could be ahead for county workers, the Public Policy Forum report says in its preview of the challenges in crafting the 2012 county budget. For revenue, the county has one last chance to raise property taxes by $10 million, in addition to boosting fees and imposing a controversial wheel tax, the report says.

In both cases, Republicans at higher levels of government are trying to make the higher levels of government at the Federal and state levels spend closer to what they take in, and as a result we’re getting the opening notes of the penury that local governments run by Democrats will have to live in as a result.

Expect this particular symphony in a minor key to swell.

Gun Control Advocates Were Right!

Posted in Milwaukee on July 6th, 2011 by Noggle

They said if Wisconsin got legal concealed carry, the blood would run in the streets. And they were right!

A 29-year-old social worker who has lived in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood for 10 years said he was punched in the face, a 28-year-old census worker said he suffered a black eye and a 28-year-old man who has also lived in the area for a decade saw a female friend thrown to the ground, beaten and her backpack stolen.

All three were among a group of friends at Kilbourn Reservoir Park Sunday night who say they saw a group of young people running in the park. They say the group threw bottles and beat several people.

Mark Peterson, 28, who owns a home in Riverwest, said he saw a female friend beaten.

“I saw her get thrown to the ground. There was blood all over her face. A guy swooped in and grabbed her bag she dropped when they threw her to the ground,” said Peterson, who said he was punched in the back of his head and his jaw.

Although turning Milwaukee into the Wild West, where law abiding citizens can strap on big iron to defend themselves and their town from the thugs who prey upon them, might actually represent a step up.

Also, it provides an experiment group to the Illinois control group. If these sorts of incidents decline in Wisconsin when people start getting concealed carry licenses, but continue at the same level or increase in Peoria and Chicago, it might prove something.

Global Warming, no doubt.

A Startling Breakthrough

Posted in Milwaukee on November 1st, 2010 by Noggle

In an innovative line of thought, unheard of in modern times and perhaps left behind by the mysterious alien intelligences that built the pyramids and the nature-loving primitive people who built Stonehenge, a concerned group of government tag-alongs has come up with a plan to add jobs: spend government money.

A group of people concerned about the lack of economic development and jobs on the north and west sides of Milwaukee have put together a plan they are convinced would make a difference.

Now, they just need the city, county, state and banks to go along with them – to the tune of $400 million.

So what’s the plan? According to Edward McDonald, the University of Wisconsin Extension agent who drafted it, the proposal involves designating a wide area of the central city – from W. Burleigh St. to W. Highland Ave. and from the Milwaukee River to N. 60th St. – for improvement.

It would set up a community council to oversee the project, and have the council develop catalyst projects, already designated by city planners, that would spur adjacent development.

Money would somehow be cobbled together from existing government funds and bank loans, encouraged by government deposits. It would be spent over four years.

The plan? Spend $100,000,000 a year funding council to develop buzzword buzzword buzzword. Exclamation point!

God-luv-em, they are so earnest.

Call it the no government tag-along left behind act. But don’t call it “stimulus” because that buzzword no longer focus groups well.

Idle Speculation

Posted in Milwaukee on September 17th, 2010 by Noggle

Prediction: Marquette University will withdraw its University President job offer to Rev. Pilarz when it discovers he’s a lesbian.

(Joke explained.)

Also Required: Photos of Your Children To Prove They Were Not Kidnapped

Posted in Milwaukee on August 7th, 2010 by Noggle

Greenfield and other cities impose strict new rules on resale shops :

Moms come into New to You Kids in Greenfield every week to sell their babies’ outgrown rompers to the small resale shop. But the business says it will have to close if it has to comply with a new city ordinance requiring it to take each mom’s picture and send that, along with detailed descriptions of the items she sells, to a police database every day.

The Greenfield ordinance also imposes transaction fees on resale stores that could amount to tens of thousands of dollars annually – a big burden for small retailers.

This also applies to bookstores, apparently:

Half-Price Books, a national resale chain that has a store a few doors down from Reinhardt’s in the Greenfield Fashion Center, will consider getting out of its lease, district manager Joe Desch said.

Half-Price also is thinking about filing a lawsuit against Greenfield on First Amendment grounds, because the new ordinance, which takes effect next summer, will require the bookstore to send police a daily list of customers who sell books to them, with identification and titles sold.

No word on if the book sellers need to provide a book report for their new mommy, the government.

(Link seen on the Twitterverse.)

In A Stunning Turn Of Events, Tax Will Not Sunset As Predicted

Posted in Milwaukee on March 10th, 2010 by Noggle

A tax designed to pay for the Milwaukee baseball stadium will not sunset on schedule:

New financial projections released Tuesday suggest the sunset year for the Miller Park stadium sales tax will be between 2016 and 2018, at least two years later than originally thought.

For several years, the Miller Park stadium district had relied on projections that the 0.1% sales tax could be retired in 2014. But in recent months, the effects of the economic recession have taken their toll: Sales-tax receipts in the five counties where the tax is collected plummeted 9.45% from 2008 to 2009.

It’s always something.

But For The Lack Of Budget

Posted in Milwaukee on March 8th, 2010 by Noggle

You know the implications of this, right? County transit ridership falls 9%:

Milwaukee County Transit System ridership plunged to a 35-year low last year as the bus system was battered by the recession, a fare increase and a pullout of Milwaukee Public Schools students.

This means that we could trim the budget and cut back since ridership is down. Ha, ha, WRONG!

The 9% ridership drop adds urgency to a push for new state legislation that would create an expanded regional transit authority and authorize a 0.5% sales tax to fund the bus system.

The day is sunny? The government must have more money. The day is rainy? The government must have more money. Ridership is up? The government must have more money. Ridership is down? The government must have more money.

Whitney Gould on The Nohl House

Posted in Milwaukee on February 20th, 2007 by Noggle

Remember when I wrote about the Milwaukee Witch’s House? Whitney Gould of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has an update.

The Milwukee Witch’s House

Posted in Milwaukee on October 28th, 2006 by Noggle

Early in the morning, the mists rising from Lake Michigan creep over its shorelines and extend their tendrils into the nearby yards and neighborhoods, giving a feeling as esoteric and eldritch as any New England setting from an H.P. Lovecraft story. If one takes a curving road along the lake shore in Fox Point, Wisconsin, one’s headlights trickle over the foliage until the most pagan of sites emerges from the gloom. Concrete totems lurk behind a chain link fence topped with barbed wire. As many generations of Milwaukee-area residents know, this seemingly calm, semi-secluded area is the Witch’s House. A guide, if present, will insist with as much vehemence as a raised whisper can allow that everyone roll up the windows and lock the car doors and will exhort the driver not to stop.

Some whisper that a woman lived in the home with her husband and young son. One day, the husband and son took the family boat out onto the Great Lake and capsized just offshore. Her family drowned within sight of the woman, and she was powerless to help them. The woman thought that the spirits of the water would come to take her to join her husband and son, so she began to make warding statues to keep the water spirits at bay. Another story claimed that she killed her husband and child herself and hid them among the statues.

The real story of the Milwaukee Witch’s House is more benign. Artist Mary Nohl, born in 1914 and a graduate of the Art Institute of Chicago, inherited the family land and cottage in the 1960s. She began to create an art environment, crafting sculptures in such media as concrete, tree branches, sand, and other items that washed ashore on her property. Given her influences and preferred subject matter of whimsical and mythic figures and the fact that she remained single fueled the spooky rumors that drove young spectre seekers to her neighborhood late at night. By all accounts, Ms. Nohl did not mind the underground attention she received, as she didn’t prosecute trespassers and once remarked, as a group of young people viewed her work from outside the fence, that they had good taste.

Although Mary Nohl died in 2001, the house remains an art environment to this day. Mary Nohl donated the land and millions of dollars to the Kohler Foundation, and the foundation would like to open the house as a museum so visitors can enjoy the works of Mary Nohl without the mystery and foreboding. However, other residents of the Fox Point neighborhood are taking steps to prevent the land from becoming a museum, undoubtedly tired of decades of nocturnal visitors of the teenaged sort.

For at least a short time, restless wayfarers can drive by the site at the witching hour with unwitting companions and continue to embellish the tale of the Witch’s House and to view the works in the traditional method, with all of with the mystery and foreboding young imaginations can ferment.

Other reading:
Kohler Foundation description of the Mary Nohl Site:
http://www.kohlerfoundation.org/new_NohlSite.html

Wisconsin Trust for Historic Preservation, 10 Most Endangered Properties list including Nohl House
http://www.wthp.org/10_most.htm

Wisconsin National Register of Historic Places Entry for Mary Nohl Art Environment:
http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/hp/register/viewSummary.asp?refnum=05001109

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel columnist Jim Stingl column “Pilgrimage to ‘witch’s house’ was a rite of passage”:
http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=11655

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel news item “Artist’s legacy lingers: Some residents fight preservation of woman’s quirky lakefront home”:
http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=304368


Sound like a piece you would find on Damn Interesting? Well, yeah, it was one of my sample pieces. It was not accepted, and it wasn’t doing anything on my hard drive, so there you go.

Milwaukee Admirals Celebrate Halloween Every Day

Posted in Milwaukee, Sports on August 8th, 2006 by Noggle

The Milwaukee Admirals have a new look and a new logo, and it’s goofy:

In conjunction with its new slogan “Never say die,” which has been teasing local billboard readers for the past month, the Admirals introduced the new logo: the admiral of a ghost ship. A pirate explained to the crowd that the admiral had been at the bottom of Lake Michigan for the past 20 years and that this was what was left of him.

The new logo is quite a bit edgier than the last logo of the salty seaman admiral. The new admiral, designed by Joe Locher of Yes Men of Milwaukee, is a skull with a black admiral’s cap with ice blue trim.

The team’s new colors will be black, ice blue and silver, replacing the old red, white and blue. “We wanted to do something that would be really popular with the younger crowd,” Locher said. “We wanted to avoid the idea of a trendy logo, yet we wanted to tie it in to the heritage of the team to have it make more sense.”

Yeah, a skeleton logo in black, white, and ice blue. That’ll impress the kids these days. What, did they think they weren’t selling enough merchandise to the gangbanger crowd that flocks to Raiders apparel?

Plus, let’s just savor that insight from the marketing man again:

“We wanted to do something that would be really popular with the younger crowd,” Locher said. “We wanted to avoid the idea of a trendy logo, yet we wanted to tie it in to the heritage of the team to have it make more sense.”

Avoiding a trendy logo yet tying it into the heritage of the team.

Obviously, this fellow’s skill lies with imagery, and not expressing cohesive concepts in language.

(Link seen a while back on The American Mind.)

Milwaukee Humor

Posted in Milwaukee on July 1st, 2005 by Noggle

You know you’re from Milwaukee when….

However, note:

  • It’s not just a Packers flag. You can stand in most rooms in about 80% of the residences in southeastern Wisconsin and have a Packers logo visible somewhere. The waste basket, a photo/wallhanging, an article of clothing, the fine china….

  • What, no mention of the Witch’s House?
  • The Safe House IS better than Disney Land. Don’t forget to order a Hail to the Chief for your friends.
  • Please note that spending all day bashing the Cubs is not strictly a Milwaukee, nor a Wisconsin thing, nor are bashing those people from Illinois. Remember, Illinois borders five states.
  • Isn’t Brother Ron off the scene? I haven’t seen him anywhere on my last few visits (“The Jesus Car” as this unknowledgeable blogthing person calls him).

Just offering you a bit of insight into your noble host, gentle reader.

(Link seen on Triticale.)

My Favorite Suburbs

Posted in Milwaukee on February 23rd, 2004 by Noggle

So as I passed into Milwaukee, I spent some time musing upon my favorite suburbs there. I passed through Wauwautosa, an inner ring suburb and my favorite suburb of Milwaukee. Its homes are older, brick construction and are well-maintained. The flukish shape of Milwaukee, stretched oddly from the downtown to the Northwest in a sort of trapezoid, means that Wauwautosa is closer to downtown than the part of Milwaukee in which I spent more than a scattered third of my life. Its proximity to the city and its inclusion within the web of mass transit in Milwaukee County means that Wauwautosa is more reminiscent of a neighborhood than an individual municipality, but Tosans have a municipal government of their own, I think. Maybe they just think they do.

I compare it to the suburbs in the St. Louis area that I like. If you’re judging from criteria that include security/personal safety, brick construction/history/cohesiveness, and proximity to art, in St. Louis you can pick two of three sometimes, and maybe one in others. For example, Casinoport has, well, relative safety. Closer suburbs in St. Louis County like Webster Groves or Kirkwood have almost all three, but hey, I live to romanticize Milwaukee, so they’re no Wauwautosa, ainna?

By the way, if you’re insisting I round out the list, I prefer West Milwaukee and West Allis. Sorry, Owen, but those outer communities like Menomonie Falls, Brookfield, Franklin, and anywhere the Milwaukee County Transit System cannot take me in forty minutes of bus riding with one transfer don’t make the list.