Milwaukee: the good land

Milwaukee 2018 021

Milwaukee is not the first place that comes to mind when people think about traveling in the USA. Incidentally, the city’s own population gets a bit startled when you tell them you’re there just for fun, without any other intention.

No less than three times in the timespan of a week, my line: “I came here just for fun for a week” was received with surprise.

First time it was at the hotel check-in: “Six nights?! Well, you’ll have time to do everything”. What is impossible to describe just writing, is the expression on the face of the young lady, a mix of incredulity with curiosity, as if she was before aliens.

Second time was the rather nice lady at the customer’s desk in the Barnes & Noble at the Mayfair Mall: “Fun? In Milwaukee? Really? Don’t get me wrong, I love here, but for fun… Well, welcome.”

And the third, the waitress at the delicious “Wicked Hop Brewery”: “All the way from Brazil for fun in Milwaukee? That’s weird!”

However, that’s human nature anywhere in the world. The impression you have is that who was raised in the place doesn’t notice how special is where they live.

Beer!

The streets are clean, everything is well taken care of, there are no people living on the streets and the architecture is absolutely wonderful. There are a lot of old buildings, which gives the city something of a more European air in some points. That’s easily explained by the huge German influence the city received through the years.

This same influence is responsible for the title Milwaukee carries for some time: “Brew City”. Yes, the amount of breweries in a city of about 600 thousand people (Wikipedia, numbers from 2017) borders on unbelievable.

And yes, there’s in an explanation for that: although freezing in the winter, Milwaukee has a great extension of rather fertile lands. Besides that, there’s the great water that can be obtained from Lake Michigan. The beer culture was always present, due to heavy German immigration. At Prohibition time, the Germans didn’t like the idea of not being able to drink a beer and, as you couldn’t buy the end product, they decided to buy the ingredients and brew it at home. And then the Milwaukee breweries were born. All that story is available with illustrations and objects in the small, but interesting, “Brew City MKE Beer Museum and Beer Bar” located at the Wisconsin Center downtown. Tickets are 10 dollars and you can visit the museum and have a beer in the end, of course!

Art, literature, shopping and sport

As it was said above, the architecture is wonderful, but nothing compares to the Milwaukee Art Museum. Projected by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava (the same guy who, among others, projected the shopping center located where once stood the twin towers of the World Trade Center), outside and inside, is really something beyond amazing. Among the attractions, works by modern artists (Andy Warhol, Roy Liechtenstein) and Impressionists classics (Camile Pissarro, Edouard Manet) and a very interesting part showing old toys. And there are also the temporary exhibitions. When I was there, they were showing quill pen paintings by the Spanish Francisco de Goya.

In a quick Google search, you’ll see that Milwaukee has a lot of used bookstores. But you don’t need to look too deep. The best one by a mile (and I can safely say, one of the best I ever been in my life) it’s “Downtown Books”. As the name implies is located at the heart of downtown, across the wonderful Hilton Garden Inn, and is nothing less than spectacular. I swear there are books on every subject: music, fiction, science fiction, movies, esoteric, crime… The comic books part can drive collectors crazy. Think it’s all? No! There are also VHS, DVD, Blu-Ray, CD and Vinyl, everything at very low prices!

The shopping where Barnes and Noble is located (the one with the old lady who was surprised with someone in Milwaukee for fun) is located in the small and wonderful town of Wauwatosa, in the Milwaukee surrounding area. Mayfair Mall is a typical mall with shops and restaurants, but what is much worth is the path you ride until you get to it. It’s really like those small towns in the movies. But here’s a tip: it’s well worth coming and going riding a bus! First because public transportation there works very well, second because not only is ridiculously cheap (less than 3 dollars) is a much better way to see the landscape.

If you want, the bus is also a great way to catch a baseball game. However, there’s an even better way: the bars offer vans to the game! The price? Just get in the bar and drink or eat anything. You win a wristband and transportation to the game and back.

The Wayne’s World Connection

All that is pretty cool, but here at my blog I do like to assess geek culture from time to time. And Milwaukee indeed has something rather interesting on this field.

In the end of 1991, the world was shocked with the death of Queen’s singer Freddie Mercury. As it’s usual on this cases, the band’s catalog had a huge boost on sales, but it was also helped because the following year movies were screening “Wayne’s World” with that historic scene of four friends headbanging inside the car to the sound of “Bohemian Rhapsody”.

However, there’s another iconic moment in the movie: the famous part where Wayne (Mike Myers) and Garth (Dana Carvey) bow to Alice Cooper in the backstage area of the show, saying “We’re not worth it!” when they are invited to stay and hang out with the band.

The concert, in the story of the movie, is being held in Milwaukee and before Wayne and Garth throw themselves on the ground Alice gives them a real lecture about the city (the information is all true):

“… Milwaukee certainly has its share of visitors. The French missionaries and explorers were coming here as early as the late 1600s to trade with the Native Americans.”

“In fact, isn’t Milwaukee an Indian name?” asks guitarist Pete Friese.

“Yes, Pete, it is. Actually is pronounced ‘Miliwake’ which means ‘The Good Land’ in Algonquin.”

“I was not aware of that”, says Wayne.

“I think one of the most interesting aspects of Milwaukee is that it’s the only major American city to have ever elected three socialist mayors”.

What a lot of people don’t remember is the beginning of all this sequence. Wayne and Garth get to Milwaukee with some time to spend and decide to go to “Shotz” brewery.

The thing is “Shotz” brewery is fictitious and was the setting of a rather famous seventies sitcom called “Laverne & Shirley”. Both women worked there (which only corroborate long years of brewing tradition) and the opening sequence is satirized in the movie. That’s why they appeared riding a bike, hopping, etc. Note that Garth’s overalls have an “L” (because of Laverne) in the upper left corner. Incidentally, the music in the background in this moment is the series theme. Besides, one of the most famous Milwaukee breweries is called “Schlitz”. The sound of the name is pretty suggestive.

However, if it doesn’t exist what’s so special? Well, “Shotz” doesn’t exist, but the brewery where the scenes, both the series and the movie, were shot, does.

It’s Lakefront Brewery. And, once again, the easiest, better and cheapest way to get there is riding a bus.

The building is located in a beautiful neighborhood, on the banks of the Milwaukee River in an extremely pleasant place. It’s mandatory to get in there and have Lakefront beer with a side of the local cuisine specialty: cheese curds. Just amazing!

“The good land” is not an accurate translation for Milwaukee. It should be “the excellent land”. If you have the opportunity, be sure to spend at least one week there. It’s well worth it!

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Rock Chain #33: One of Elvis’ secrets

rickey-medlocke

Rickey Medlocke began his career as a drummer in Lynyrd Skynyrd but then he left to form Blackfoot.

Blackfoot’s first album has a great cover of the song “Wishing Well”, originally recorded by Free.

Free most famous song is “All Right Now” with its iconic guitar riff that managed to generate wonder even in guitar-heroes who wanted to learn it from the band’s guitarist Paul Kossof, like Eric Clapton.

Eric Clapton played with the Jon Mayall’s Bluesbreakers along with bassist John McVie.

John McVie later got together with drummer Mick Fleetwood and formed Fleetwood Mac.

Fleetwood Mac started up its career as a Blues band, but then moved to California and became a Rock/Pop/Folk behemoth, especially after adding singers Christine Perfect (later Christine McVie ) and Stevie Nicks.

Stevie Nicks will restart her tour in the end of this month alongside the Pretenders.

The Pretenders had in its ranks Robbie McIntosh who later found even more fame and fortune from 1989 to 1993 playing live and in all records of Paul McCartney.

Paul McCartney’s album Kisses on the Bottom has only Jazz standards he used to listen to when he was a child in Liverpool, but he invited John Walsh from The Eagles to play in it.

The Eagles early line-up was formed with musicians from the backing band of Linda Ronstadt.

Linda Ronstadt recorded the Rolling Stones’ “Tumbling Dice” on her album Simple Dreams after being persuaded to do so by Mick Jagger.

Mick Jagger was executive producer of Vivid, debut album from Living Colour.

Living Colour’s second album was Time’s Up which contained in its track-list the song “Elvis Is Dead” a good humored critic of all things Elvis Presley.

Elvis Presley really exploded with the song and album Heartbreak Hotel.

Heartbreak Hotel was written by Tommy Druden and one Mae Axton.

Do you know who Mae Axton was? She was Rickey Medlocke’s babysitter!

 

Be sure to check out my book “Straight and Lethal”

You can contact me at: carloantico666@gmail.com

Add me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/carlo.antico

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Super Bowl LI

super-bowl

Is there a better a week in sports than Super Bowl week? And while we are at that, is there a better DAY in sports than Super Bowl Sunday? Of course, game seven of the NBA, MLB and NHL finals are all great, but the Super Bowl has a magic of its own. However, I figure that if you’re not a sports fan, you’ll never understand. But enough with dramatic (sort of) opening paragraphs and let’s talk about how the teams that will make sports fans happy all over the world this Sunday got to the biggest stage.

When the Patriots with Bellichick and Brady play a playoff game in Foxboro 100% focused it’s really hard to even think that they won’t beat anyone. After beating the Texans kind of going through the motions and raising some suspicions, they didn’t have any trouble beating the Steelers (okay, Bell’s injury was decisive to make things easier but even so…) and headed to their seventh Super Bowl since Brady and Bellichick joined them.

Everybody and their mother knew that Falcons and Packers was a game perfect for a shootout. What nobody expected was a single-sided shootout! There was only Matt Ryan playing against a nonexistent Packers defense and Aaron Rodgers having to deal with an offense plagued by injuries and Jordy Nelson playing with a broken rib. There was no contention and Atlanta easily smashed Green Bay.

Given the proper introductions, let’s talk about the main event.

SUPER BOWL LI: NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS VS. ATLANTA FALCONS

There’s no shortage of people saying that we’re in for one of the greatest Super Bowl ever. That remains to be seen (remember how Seahawks and Broncos turned out?) but we certainly have all the ingredients for that to be confirmed.

The Patriots defense will face a huge test. Atlanta’s offense is firing on all cylinders and although underrated, Matt Ryan is a serious candidate for season MVP (despite what happened in the NFC final I still cast my vote to Aaron Rodgers). And as I said in my Conference finals post, they have the world’s greatest wide receiver in Julio Jones.

Having said that, let’s not forget that Bill Belichick is a defensive genius (he stopped Jim Kelly, Andre Reed and Thurman Thomas in Super Bowl XXV while defensive coordinator for the Giants) and didn’t give Antonio Brown any chance in the AFC final. I think he will use the cornerback and the safety to try and do the same with Julio Jones opening more space to Sanu and Gabriel, as if he was saying: “okay, let’s see if THEY can win the game for you.” The problem with that is: he did the same the two times he faced the Giants in the Super Bowl and it didn’t work out. That’s one of the things to keep an eye on this Sunday.

At the other side of the ball, Atlanta’s defense who was great against Seattle and Green Bay (the injuries notwithstanding) will face one of the greatest QBs of all time (if not the greatest) with a lot of experience in the greatest stage of all. And Hogan, Amendola and Edelman are playing great helped by a dangerous running game with Blount. Will experience make all the difference in the world? Who knows, that’s what we gonna find out.

This one is pretty difficult to predict, but as a Saints fan and somebody who thinks Boston is the greatest place in the Universe, I’m going with my heart: Patriots 35-33.

I’m counting the hours till Sunday, and obviously putting some craft beer in the freezer. Good game to you all!

Current playlist:

Listening:

The Outlaws – Playin’ to Win

Lou Gramm – Ready or Not

Union – Strike

Rough Diamond – s/t

City Boy – City Boy Book Early

Highway Chile – Rockarama

Heart – Live At the Royal Albert Hall w/ The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Watching:

Heart – Live At the Royal Albert Hall w/ The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

The Accountant

Westworld – Season 1

Reading

The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower – Stephen King

You Can’t Make This Up – Al Michaels

Be sure to check out my book “Straight and Lethal”

You can contact me at: carloantico666@gmail.com

Add me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/carlo.antico

Follow me on twittter: @CarloAntico

NFL Conference Finals

falcons_vs_packers

patriots-vs-steelers

The race to the Super Bowl is tightening and although in the Divisional Series we had two run-away victories and a rather tough, fought and not that interesting game (Steelers@Chiefs), what happened in Dallas was an instant classic and worth all playoff games. What a great game with a breathtaking finish! It reminds us all why we love football.

The Patriots disappointed a little but as everybody expected, as soon as they woke up, they didn’t have much trouble. Falcons offense dominated the Earl Thomas-less Seahawks defense and Andy Reid’s team again failed in the playoffs (and before anyone asks: it was heartbreaking, but the referee was right. It was a holding).

Anyway, let’s try predicting the Conference Finals.

NFC

Atlanta Falcons vs. Green Bay Packers: As I said in the divisional round post, Matt Ryan is a serious contender for MVP. He has great receivers and running backs and the Falcons defense showed last Saturday that it’s improving. There’s only one problem though: they are going against Aaron Rodgers. It doesn’t matter that the Packers have a lot of injuries. The same thing I said about the game against Dallas remains true now: I can’t see any team stopping him. He is doing magic and the O-line is protecting him greatly. The last performances are putting him in discussions about being the best EVER. Honestly, I don’t know about that, we’ll have to wait when he retires and we can assess his whole career, but right now, no one can beat him. I’m expecting a shootout. Packers 42-38.

AFC

New England Patriots vs. Pittsburgh Steelers:  I just wrote that the Pats disappointed a little, unnecessarily struggling against a team they were clearly light years better. It was clear to me that they took the field thinking the game would be easy and then had to refocus during the football game. If they take the field against the Steelers like that, they can get in trouble (although I refuse to believe that a Bill Belichick coached team will commit this same mistake) due to the way Pittsburgh defense and the killer B’s (augmented by Chris Boswell now, he scored all their points against the Chiefs) are playing. However, New England’s defense is spectacular this year and when it’s all said and done the Steelers are facing Tom Brady and Bill Belichick in Boston in a postseason game. I don’t think they can handle it. Patriots 30-22.

Had the time finally come for us to witness maybe the greatest quarterback battle in the history of the Super Bowl, Brady vs. Rodgers? Let’s turn on our TVs this Sunday a find out. Good games to you all!

Current playlist:

Listening:

Starship – Greatest Hits (Ten years And Change 1979-1991)

John Mayall Bluesbreakers – Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton

The Cult – Electric

Watching:

The Warriors – The Director’s cut DVD

 

Be sure to check out my book “Straight and Lethal”

You can contact me at: carloantico666@gmail.com

Add me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/carlo.antico

Follow me on twittter: @CarloAntico

 

 

 

 

NFL Divisonal Playoffs

nfl-divisional

Yes, ladies and Gentlemen the greatest weekend of the year for football fans is upon us and of course I couldn’t help but make my predictions. I couldn’t do it for the Wild Card weekend because I was as usual spending my New Year’s holidays in my beloved New Orleans, but I’m not letting the Divisional Series slip away.

Therefore, let’s get down to the brass tacks.

NFC

Atlanta Falcons vs. Seattle Seahawks:  As a Saints fan, I obviously don’t have a lot of sympathy for the Falcons, but I do agree that Matt Ryan is being underrated when we talk about MVP candidates. He had a terrific season and has a brilliant receiver in Julio Jones. Seattle is probably the most driven team in the league and they are in high spirits after beating Detroit with relative ease. The defense still makes the offenses scared, although Earl Thomas is a huge miss. The Seahawks are tough and determined but let’s not forget that if not for a huge zebra mistake, the Falcons would have beaten them at Century Link in the regular season. It will probably be a great game and I will root for Seattle, but my guess is that the Falcons will win. Falcons 32 -28.

Dallas Cowboys vs. Green Bay Packers: Not only this is a classic going back more than fifty years, this one specific has all the ingredients to be the greatest game of the Divisional Playoffs, if not the entire postseason. I mean, Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott against Aaron Rogers and… well any receiver you can think of because this guy is on a roll and he’s hitting them with Hail Marys as if it were 5 yards passes. Yes, that will be the challenge for the Cowboys defense. How can you stop the – in my humble opinion, anyway – league MVP? Of course, in the regular season Dallas smashed Green Bay at Lambeau, but that was a different Packers team, it was before they ran the table. Green Bay had a lot of difficult in the first half against the Giants but was benefited by a harmless Giants offense. Dallas offense is much better than New York’s and if the Packers are slow again to get in the game they might get in trouble. However, I don’t see how any team can stop Aaron Rodgers right now. Packers 35-32.

AFC

New England Patriots vs. Houston Texans: This one will probably be the most boring game in the history of playoffs. I don’t even have much to say. The Texans had trouble to win the Wild Card at home against a Raiders team playing with their THIRD quarterback. Can you imagine what will happen against the Patriots in Foxboro? Against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick? If the Texans win, I will never write a word about football again. Patriots 45-3.

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Pittsburgh Steelers:  Now we’re talking about a real playoff game. Again in my humble opinion, Travis Kelce was the best Tight End of the season and he’s been catching all kinds of passes. Justin Houston is having limited participation in practices and if he comes back that would be huge asset for the Chiefs. I still don’t think Alex Smith is that reliable and there is the question of Andy Reid results in the playoffs (ask any Eagles fan). On the other side, Mike Tomlin has a good retrospect in the playoffs, Big Ben is a clutch player and a fierce competitor, Le’Veon Bell is serious running back and Antonio Brown had to be in the conversation for one of the best wide receivers in the league. This is probably the most leveled of all games and being in Kansas City makes it hard to choose the Steelers without blinking. But I’ll trust BBB and go for it. Steelers 25-22.

What matters most is: a full weekend of great football. Have fun! I know I’ll certainly will.

Current playlist:

Reading:

Song of Susannah: The Dark Tower VI – Stephen King

Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis – Anne Rice

Best Little Stories from the Civil War – C.Brian Kelly and Ingrid Smyer

Listening:

Blackberry Smoke – Like an Arrow

The Rides – Can’t Get Enough

Watching

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years – Double Disc Blu-Ray

Heart: Live At The Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – DVD

Be sure to check out my book “Straight and Lethal”

You can contact me at: carloantico666@gmail.com

Add me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/carlo.antico

Follow me on twittter: @CarloAntico

 

 

Game Show Host

Love is like a game show

Where I can only lose

I’m even breaking records

Among hearts that felt abuse

 

It all started with Anna

The greatest I could choose

But the game show host said:

“I’m sorry but you lose”

 

And then it moved to Evelyn

Who drove me insane

But the game show host said:

“I’m sorry, you lose again”

 

And I was head over heels for Carrie

Whom I seemed to understand

But the game show host said:

“You lose again my friend”

 

Next in line was Mary

And her cherubic face

But the game show host said:

“You also lost this race”

 

And then came another Mary

Who teased me with her kisses

But the game show host said:

“Another lost, your heart in stitches”

 

And to my surprise there was Valerie

And her welcoming smile

But the game show host said:

“Sorry you lose again, misguided by her guile”

 

Now it was Ingrid’s turn

With my heart an abuser

But the game show host said:

“Unbelievable, but you are again a loser”

 

Finishing up was Denise

Rather well I thought we were doing

But the game show host said:

“Now you are a champion of losing”

Rock Chain #32: Sensational!

alex-harvey

This is something I used to do in a magazine I used to edit a couple of years ago. I took the idea from a column that used to appear on Scientific American magazine written by a British scientist called James Burke. His column was called “Connections” and consisted in relating history and science facts that were linked by a word until the cycle was finished. I just adapted it to Rock And Roll. Now, I’ll try to resurrect it here in the blog once a month.

Alex Harvey was the frontman of The Sensational Alex Harvey Band which featured Ted McKenna on drums.

Ted McKenna later on, went to play for a short period with Ian Gillan.

Ian Gillan rates his passage through Black Sabbath as disastrous, although many people (including yours truly) really like the Born Again album. The riff from “Zero the Hero” has an uncanny resemblance to the one on “Paradise City” from Guns and Roses.

Guns and Roses original guitarist was Tracii Guns, who left before the first album and formed L.A. Guns.

L.A. Guns original line-up had Phil Lewis as a vocalist, coming from British Glam Rockers, Girl.

Girl’s guitarist was Phil Collen, who later replaced Pete Willis in Def Leppard.

Def Leppard’s drummer Rick Allen lost his arm in automobile accident in the end of 1984 which lost the band the opportunity of playing Rock in Rio I in January 1985. They were replaced by Whitesnake.

Whitesnake sessions for their first LP had Jon Lord as keyboardist replacing Pete Solley from Procol Harum.

Procol Harum has a rather unique characteristic: their line-up has a member who doesn’t do anything except write lyrics, Keith Reid.

Keith Reid also wrote the lyrics for the hit-single “You’re The Voice” a moderate success in 1991, because of the first Gulf War, for American band, Heart.

Heart’s latest single has some cool backing vocals by James Hetfield from Metallica.

Metallica’s song “The Memory Remains” has a guest appearance by Marianne Faithful.

Marianne Faithful had a success with “As Tears Goes By” originally by the Rolling Stones.

The Rolling Stones first record label was Decca, who almost went down in history as the label who rejected The Beatles.

The Beatles were once called The Silver Beetles with John, Paul, George, Stuart Sutcliffe and Tommy Moore and they played Allentown Hall in Scotland with Johnny Gentle as Johnny Gentle and His Group in 1960.

Do you know who supported them? Alex Harvey and his Big Beat Band.

Be sure to check out my book “Straight and Lethal”

You can contact me at: carloantico666@gmail.com

Add me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/carlo.antico

Follow me on twittter: @CarloAntico