7.07.2017

Summer vacation, day 7: Happy 50th, Summerfest

Seven days into our summer vacation and I finally got to join the Summerfest party tonight.

The Big Gig is turning 50 this year, and I was determined not to miss it. Living eight hours away and having a growing family has made it more difficult in recent years. Due to the girls' summer activities this year and our travel schedule for this vacation, tonight was the earliest I could get here.

After Summerfest announced this year's headliners in the spring, I was whining out loud to Kates about all the great bands I was going to miss during the first half of the festival. The Moody Blues. Toto. Hanson. My beloved Guster. Paul Simon played the Marcus Amphitheater.

"We could move back to Wisconsin," Kates said. And my whining stopped right then and there. I love my job too much and am not ready to have that conversation yet.

Sunday night we were in town, and I debated coming down to the festival to catch Steve Miller Band. But I opted instead for a quiet night with the girls and several episodes of "Fuller House."

So tonight was the night. I really wanted to see Tegan and Sara. I've enjoyed their stuff for more than a decade now and, after a few missed opportunities, wanted to be a part of their Summerfest stop this year.

I left Kates and the girls this afternoon with Kates' parents on the other side of the state. I met rush hour traffic in Milwaukee, found a parking garage near the art museum and was on the grounds around 6:30.



I went true Wisconsin for dinner and got myself a Usinger's Italian sausage covered with marinara sauce and grilled onions. With a Mountain Dew, of course.

From there, I explored the grounds. I passed through the Summerfest store to see if I could pick up anything unique to mark Summerfest's big 5-0, but the merchandise was way overpriced - $50 t-shirts! $30 for a commemorative guitar pick! I paged through the commemorative book, and it also was a major disappointment, filled with large photos and little written content. It lacked any creative design and looked like some kid made it by importing Summerfest's photo collection into some Shutterfly photo book software and clicking the order button.

Further lowering my expectations of any interesting or attention-grabbing output from Summerfest's creative or archiving staff was the "Summerfest 50" history exhibit, which I should note was created in partnership with the Milwaukee County Historical Society - and you'd think that partnership would help raise the bar. ... But it was nothing more than a series of banners printed with photos and some captions, mostly copied straight from the commemorative book. The exhibit was meant to be a chronological history, but some of the photos - based on my own Summerfest history knowledge and what I had just seen in the book - were clearly out of order. No Summerfest memorabilia either. My history faculty friends at the university and their students would have put that exhibit to shame.

I explored the grounds a little longer. I saw a bikini-clad woman hipping a hula hoop while playing a saxophone.



A woman painted in gold and wearing a suit, performing as a statue in the middle of the lakeshore walking path. And a young man repeatedly juggling for a minute or so before turning into a statue, a sign on the ground in front of him asking passersby to drop money in his bucket to see him come alive.

I also heard two covers of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" within my first hour on the grounds. ... The crowd was noticeably sparse tonight, compared to most Summerfest nights, though. After all, the ground headliners were lightweights, with REO Speedwagon being, arguably, the major draw at the BMO Harris Pavilion, while Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers was playing at the Marcus. There were Plenty of good seats available for Tegan and Sara.

A semi-cool guy rock band - King Washington whose sound reminded me of the BoDeans - played at 8.



It was Tegan and Sara's turn at 10, and what can I say? They were a pleasure to see and hear.

Rainbow lights moved over the stage - which was set with three huge beachy inflatables spelling out T-&-S - as the band came on to the sound of Le Tigre's "I'm So Excited." I'm not sure that was planned, but it was a fitting introduction.

The show took on a relaxed, chilled vibe as their synth pop and layered vocals filled the space. The girls - conceding they are 37 years old, though they still look like 18 - bee-bopped and twirled around the stage while they sang. They were cute. And genuine with the crowd as they shared about their exploration of Milwaukee earlier in the day and complimented the crowd on having a beautiful city. At one point they gave a shout-out to all of the single people in the crowd and tried playing matchmaker - "90s-style." They proclaimed their open support for the LGBTQ community without getting political. "There's lots of love to go around at a Tegan and Sara concert," Tegan said.



The show really hit its stride when Tegan moved away from her Korg synthesizer, strapped on a guitar and the band banged out the thumping "Northshore." They followed it with an equally thunderous "Living  Room," which is one of my favorites. Here's a snippet ...



In honor of 10 years since releasing "The Con," they announced plans to perform the full album and stripped-down version of those songs during upcoming shows. They proceeded to go acoustic on their next three songs, "The Con," "Call It Off" and "Nineteen."

The acoustic set was just enough of an interlude before they got back to their electronics and turned the volume back up with a series of songs from their latest album, "Love You to Death," including "Hang on to the Night," "BWU," "Stop Desire" and "U-turn."

Of course, they ended their set with "Boyfriend" ...



And "Closer" ...



Two of their biggest hits, there was no other way out. And they sounded great.

And that was it. An efficient exploration of the best material in their catalogue that lasted barely an hour. But it was a pleasure.

Here's the setlist ...

1. “Back in Your Head”
2. “How Come You Don't Want Me”
3. “I Couldn't Be Your Friend”
4. “Goodbye, Goodbye”
5. “Drove Me Wild”
6. “I Was A Fool”
7. “Shock To Your System”
8. “Alligator”
9. “Northshore”
10. “Living Room”
11. “The Con”
12. “Call It Off”
13. “Nineteen”
14. "Hang on to the Night"
15. “BWU”
16. “Stop Desire”
17. “U-turn”
18. “Boyfriend”
19. “Closer”

3.18.2017

Egg Yolk Dripping All Over Sandwich

Biting into an egg, cheese and bacon sandwich, and then having the egg yoke break and ooze through the rest of the sandwich, has to rank high on my list of favorite foodie sensations.

So from The Onion this week ...
SARASOTA, FL—Saying that the plump liquid center had been broken and was trickling warm yellow goo on all sides, a report released Thursday found that, oh, fuck yeah, an egg yolk was dripping all over a sandwich. “Oh baby, just look at that,” the report read in part, adding that, hell yes, every ingredient in the sandwich was now soaked in the stuff. “Man oh man, it’s flowing onto the plate now. So goddamn tasty.” The report went on to say—sweet Jesus fucking yes—that a piece of crispy bacon had fallen out of the sandwich and could be dipped into the yolk.
Classic.

2.18.2017

Saturday morning reading

It’s Saturday morning.

Kates is in bed, trying to bat away a head cold that’s plagued her the last few days.

Faye was up, as usual, at the crack of dawn – preventing me from getting a head start on the day and trying to accomplish some things before the rest of the house awoke. Now she’s cozied up in a chair, watching her Saturday morning Disney cartoons. “My Friends Tigger & Pooh.” “PJ Masks.” “Mickey and the Roadster Racers.”

Phoebe is still sleeping, recovering from a night of bowling with the families of my office colleagues. The big drama in her world last night was that, in the three games we bowled, she failed to get a strike.

I am sitting at our dining room table, basking in the sunlight – the cats are doing the same in their lounge areas beside me – and reveling in the fact that temperatures are going to approach a high of 70 degrees today.

I’m also loving The New York Times’ political coverage these days, particularly its commentary about the new administration.

Today’s revelations …

Tom Brokaw was asked in 1969 to be President Nixon’s press secretary.

A PBS station in San Antonio censored a commentary addressing the Republican themes of stifling mainstream media, only to realize its mistake and let the commentary piece air later.

The longtime friendship of Jorge PĂ©rez and Donald Trump is now cold as a result of the administration’s controversial policies and rhetoric.

Kellyanne Conway. Nothing more to say on that topic.

And from the amazing Gail Collins, James Buchanan’s days as the worst president in American history may be numbered. (Newsweek has a story about the presidential survey, in which Obama fell just short of the top 10 in his first appearance in the ballot. Sigh.)
I know some of you are worried that the president is losing his mind. Perhaps you think that he’s depressed over the fact that his first four weeks in power have been marked by a disastrous attempt at immigration control, the axing of the national security adviser, the ignominious retreat of a nominee for labor secretary and a failed military raid in Yemen.

No. “I don’t think there’s ever been a president elected who in this short period of time has done what we’ve done,” Trump said at his press conference. Remember, this is not a man who does self-deprecating irony.

Oh, and the 25th Amendment may be a thing.

Time for me to get outside.

https://www.cagle.com/nate-beeler/2017/02/greatest-show-on-earth

12.09.2016

Meet the Machinists Who Keep the New York Times Running

My friend Todd send this video link to me today.

Two days after I learned four former -- and highly respected colleagues -- from my newspapering days in K-Town accepted buyouts to walk away from gutting of the city's "most interesting newspaper," as our late publisher famously said. This round of news came a few weeks after the newspaper's editor -- a former city reporter with whom I joined the newspaper during what he liked to call "the youth movement of the early 2000s" -- resigned amid the turmoil and clashing with the new publisher. I loved every day I got to work with those five journalists for whom I have tremendous respect and admiration. ... Of course, the newspaper's front page article about the moves was nothing more than a public relations report to notify loyal readers and failed to get into details of their contributions to the newspaper and the community. The articles didn't mention it and I was curious, so I did some research -- the five of them had a combined 151 years with the company, not to mention two of them grew up in K-Town.

I digress. 

Back to the video. This is a relic of the sweat, grinding and beauty that the daily newspaper operation once was.