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Viva Milwaukee

posted by Mickey on 6/15/02

Not long ago, I discovered I have a relative living in Milwaukee. Well, although I had been planning to go on a romantic luncheon date with Nicole Kidman that day, this was such thrilling news that I decided to blow her off and spend my lunch hour looking at a website in order to find out a bit more about a place I had hardly given any thought to before. I had an exciting discovery awaiting me. I learned that Milwaukee (the 19th largest city in America) is the Genuine American City. Today, savvy travellers want authentic American experiences. Milwaukee delivers! It is a meeting place of people and cultures. A place where the past, present and future come together. Milwaukee is the real deal, the genuine American City, through and through.

The delicate business of sketching the kind of person who would be attracted to a bit of travel, if the destination was Milwaukee, was, I think, very nicely judged by the author of this piece. Sure, the author implies, there might be some empty headed fools out there who would contemplate travelling to gaudy, fancy-pants, show-pony places like New York, Los Angeles, or any other of the "Big 18" towns in the States. Let 'em. Milwaukee doesn't want them. Who wants skycrapers towering over streets full of bustle and energy and nervous excitement and crowds gathered together at glamorous entertainment events and shops and restaurants and theatres and the feeling that whatever the time of day, there is something to do, somewhere to go, music to catch, people to watch, human comedies and dramas unfolding all around. The kind of retards who get off on that sort of stuff ought to be directed to the most convenient metropolis, and good luck to them. But savvy travellers, the ones who know their elbows from their assholes, you won't catch them going to any overpopulated sink of iniquity, brimming with neon and tinsel, just because it is supposed to be glamorous. No way, Jack. The sort of customer we are talking about has already his or her ticket booked to Milwaukee, Wisc. In fact, when questioned about his/her holiday destination, I can see the savvy traveller and just rubbing his/her nose in the sly way that people do who are in on a secret.

SCENE. [Two retards are gathered around the office bubbler. Enter the Savvy Traveller].

RETARD ONE.

Holidays coming up, Sav.

THE SAVVY TRAVELLER.

You bet.

RETARD TWO.

Are you taking the kids to Disneyland, Sav?

THE SAVVY TRAVELLER.

Nope. Milwaukee. [Exit]

RETARD ONE.

What's that thing he does with his nose?

Then again, there are the rubes out there who still buy into all that apple pie frame house Dawson's Creek shit, where every window sill in the town has an apple pie cooling on it, and adorable moppet-like children are out on the streets vending lemonade and Dad is unwinding after a day at the store by playing sandlot baseball in the vacant lot next to the old mill and Mom is sitting back on the porch (having already baked the apple pie) and is having a nice old rock in her rocking chair while thriftily using this bit of downtime in a busy day to digest a few more verses from the Good Book. The savvy traveller, however, is going to take one look at Smalltown USA and will hit the accelerator pedal of his or her vehicle so fast, the commotion is likely to be, aw shucks, about the most exciting thing to have happened in the whole rube village for the last decade or so. And as for the cloud of dust settling on the highway, if you asked me in what direction that dust was flying, I would have no hesitation in saying, Milwaukee-wards.


Milwaukee is an A-OK place

So, what are the secrets of this place? What is it that makes it a meeting place of people and cultures? Why is it a place where the past, present and future come together (I have actually found out the answer to this, as you will come to read, and I think you will agree it is a sensational revelation). If Milwaukee is the real deal, who shuffled the pack? Below are my thoughts on the genuine American City, through and through- but first, I should mention that I have never had the pleasure myself of visiting America's most authentic city, so this piece is not meant to be a definitive appreciation of Milwaukee, but a tentative contribution to the great debate.

I will confess there are a few things I don't know about Milwaukee. For instance, I don't have a clue where it is. I know it is somewhere in the midwest, so I know its approximate location, but if you gave me a map of the United States right now and told me to find it, I wouldn't know whether to look east or west or north or south of Chicago. I don't know how big it is. I know it is the 19th biggest city in America but have no idea what that would translate into as a population statistic. I don't know what it produces, apart from beer (although I do happen to know all of the major breweries except Millers have now closed down). If Milwaukee's major industry was the production of beer, what the hell happened to the city through the years of Prohibition? A good question, and one to which I have no answer! Although Schlitz is "the beer that made Milwaukee famous," my favourite quote about a Milwaukeean beer is when Dennis Hopper's character in Blue Velvet says, "Heinekens? Fuck that shit. Pabst's Blue Ribbon!" Having said that, I have never tasted PBR. I don't know anything about Milwaukee's history, saving only what I have learned from Alice Cooper. I know there is a baseball team called the Brewers, but I don't know what conference they play in, much less whether they have been a particularly successful or notable team. I know that apart from a sequence in "Wayne's World" there have been other movies set in Milwaukee, but I have forgotten their names. I know the Violent Femmes come from Milwaukee and in fact got their start busking on street corners of the city at around the same time that Jeffrey Dahmer was doing his bit to reduce the population statistics, but I don't know whether Jeffrey Dahmer ever threw a dime into the Violent Femmes' guitar case. I know there is a song "What Made Milwaukee Famous (Made a Loser Out of Me)," but I couldn't sing it for you. What do I know about the place that makes me think I have got enough of a handle on it to come up with a Theory of Milwaukee (TOM)?


I don't come from Milwaukee, so what would I know?

My favourite quote about this city comes from my cousin, Jacques:

"I come from Paris, France. It is a beautiful city because the French chickened out of World War Two before the crap could be bombed out of it, like the rest of Europe. I like to think of it as the City of Love. Of course, to someone from Milwaukee, it would probably seem quite ersatz."

My other favourite lines about Milwaukee come from "Wayne's World:"

WAYNE.

So, do you come to Milwaukee often?

ALICE COOPER.

Well, I'm a regular visitor here, but Milwaukee has certainly had it's share of visitors. The French missionaries and explorers began visiting here in the late 16th century.

PETE.

Hey, isn't Milwaukee an Indian name?

ALICE COOPER.

Yes Pete, it is. In fact, it was originally an Algonquin term meaning "the good land."

WAYNE.

I was not aware of that.

ALICE COOPER.

I think one of the most interesting things about Milwaukee is that it is the only American city to elect three socialist mayors.

WAYNE [to the camera].

Does this guy know how to party or what?

The best place to start my investigation into Milwaukee (and lets face it, finish it, too) is obviously with television. I grew up in Brisbane, the third biggest city in Australia, with a population of approximately one million people which I guess would make it about the same size of Milwaukee. Now here is a curious fact. In the 1970s, when "Happy Days" was a first release show, it was a big success in the USA. However, as successful as "Happy Days " was in America, it was even more of a phenomenon in Australia. And phenomenon that it was in Australia, it went goddamn supernova in Brisbane. It used to get unprecedented ratings figures. The sort of ratings normally only attracted by events like the moon landing or football grand finals or the climactic episode of "Survivor" used to be conjured up in Brisbane by nothing more than a promo of your standard Cunninghams-in-a-flap-Fonzie-to-the-rescue episode of "Happy Days." It just about got to the point where the lead story on the local television news would be what happened on the last episode of "Happy Days." In those days there were four television stations in Brisbane and, tragically, I can remember what used two of them used to screen when "Happy Days" on QTQ 9 was being beamed out to virtually every television set in the city. I cannot for the life of me remember what GTQ 7 pumped out in opposition, if anything at all (and honestly, they may as well have screened a test pattern for all the good it was going to do them). The government broadcaster, the ABC, showed the news, and the O-Ten network broadcast "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." I know this as a certain fact, as my family were part of the infinitesimally small percentage on the population who thought "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" offered a superior entertainment option. This was not my first experience with being alienated from the community of which I was a part, nor would it be my last, but it had its own bitterness, to be the only child in a class who could only stare back with blank sullen incomprehension when a contemporary jumped in front of him, chest forward, thumbs up, and bellowed, "Hey-ay-ay-ay," so I will pause here to postulate von Hangman's first theory of Milwaukee.

TOM #1: Milwaukee is a paradise from which I have been excluded.

Now, I am quite willing to admit that the situation I described above probably only lasted for a season or so, and, heaven knows, when I am called before St Peter or whatever celestial judges there may be to account for how I spent my time on Earth, I will be able to truthfully report that I watched plenty of hours worth of "Happy Days." Thanks to re-runs, not to mention the fact that Happy Days ran for about a decade, I came to learn every catchphrase of every character on the show, and, once you knew them, there wasn't that much to them. So here comes a second version of the theory:

TOM #2: Milwaukee in the 1950s was more interesting than Minnesota in the late 1970s.

This is also clearly false. In the murky alternative universe about which I am speaking here, where fictional characters from television enjoy some sort of shadow life apart from their on-screen lives, at the very same time Mary Richards and her chums were soaking in the ambience of the Twin Towns, the Walsh twins from 90210 were enjoying their toddler years. Cunninghams? Fuck that shit. Beverly Hills 90210!

(Since we are on Minnesota, I will use this as an opportunity to slip in a theory about this state with a 90210 twist. After David's nerd friend Scott died, the 90210 gang made a time capsule to commemorate him into which I think Brandon placed his Minnesota Twins baseball shirt. I think this is where the shirt came up- it was either that or he gave it to Emily Valentine when she went insane or it came up in some completely different context that I don't quite remember. Whatever. The significance of the twins in the name of the team derives from the twin cities of Minneapolis and St Paul, but the team name was doubly significant to Brandon Walsh because of the circumstances of his nativity. The journey from Minnesota to California made by the Walsh's would be one of the greatest mythic journeys in the American grain even if the Walsh's themselves were only people of significance in American culture ever to do it, but thinking of clothing worn by sporting teams, ponder this. Why are the LA Lakers called the Lakers when there are no big lakes around Los Angeles? In fact, the team got its name because the franchise was originally located in Minnesota, close to the Great Lakes. When you have done pondering that, literary types may want to ponder the dates of F. Scott Fitzgerald, whose writings about rich kids, romantic egoists, love, loss and the American dream anticipate all the same themes that would appear on "Beverly Hills 90210":

F. Scott Fitzgerald. b. St Pauls, Minnesota 1896. d. Los Angeles, California, 1940).

There is actually a Minnesota connection with "Happy Days" too, since the character, Fonzie, playing by Henry Winkler come from Minnesota. I recall this because a friend of mine once expounded to me for a whole afternoon on his theory that Henry Winkler was a brilliant actor. I am reproducing Patrick's theory here, not agreeing with it. I can't remember whether he came from Minnesota or not, but he must have come from some place. In Fonzie's accent, Patrick asserted, were occasional traces of the same accent as Bob Dylan. (I am no linguist, but I never heard these traces). Bob Dylan came from Minnesota, so having these traces appear in The Fonz's speech was a subtle, but brilliant, touch of characterisation. (Wasn't Bob Dylan pretending to be an Okie? More to the point, actors who study accents are generally a pain in the neck. See Meryl Streep. Truly brilliant actors never change their voices at all, whoever they are supposed to impersonate. See Michael Caine.)



Given that everybody reading these words will probably know just as much about the show as myself, it seems curious to attempt to summarise this very well known- and not utterly despicable- television series in a short paragraph or two. Briefly, the show was conceived in the Bildungsroman tradition, telling the story of how Richie Cunningham (played by Ron Howard) progressed through his adolescence in the American midwest during the 1950s and into adulthood. At the start of the saga, Richie is a dead ringer for the puppet, Howdie Doodie (indeed, I seem to recall there was an episode built around this startling resemblance). By the end of the show, Richie had long gone, which was perhaps just as well since a show about a person's passage through adolescence cannot help but be slightly compromised if the actor playing the adolescent is clearly balding (the obvious cross reference here is with Ian Ziering's deathless portrayal of "Steve Sanders" in "Beverly Hills 90210"). In fact, by the time the show eventually wound up, in 1984 (after 10 seasons), Ron Howard was already an experienced director who would go on to make films of the stamp of "Parenthood", "Apollo 13" and "A Beautiful Mind". Still, regardless of how "Happy Days" ended up, when it began it was the story of Richie Cunningham, and it was at this point, that I regretted, for a moment, brushing off Nicole Kidman.

NICOLE KIDMAN.

I think this wine is going to my head.

VON HANGMAN.

Steady on, Nic. Listen, there is something I wanted to ask you.

NICOLE KIDMAN.

You can ask me to do anything you want, and I'll do it.

VON HANGMAN.

You worked with Ron Howard on "Far and Away" didn't you?

NICOLE KIDMAN.

It's hot in here. I'm going to take off my top.

VON HANGMAN.

I was actually getting a bit chilly. So, did Ron Howard talk much about Milwaukee?

NICOLE KIDMAN.

What?

VON HANGMAN.

You know, America's most authentic city. Where the past, present and future come together. You know [gesturing at glass] Beer!

NICOLE KIDMAN.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin? No, I don't believe he ever mentioned it. Do you think I'm beautiful?

VON HANGMAN.

How could he not mention it? Didn't you ask? Dudette, he was Richie Cunningham. How could you not even ask?


Cunningham's Gap.
A joke that will only be appreciated by people from Brisbane, but what the hell?

Richie had a father named Howard (Tom Bosley) who was a hardware salesman and a member of a Protestant secret society devoted to the murders of Asians, Jews and Roman Catholics (possibly). At one point Howard built a shelter so his family could survive an atomic bomb being dropped on Milwaukee, and its potential as a place for necking parties was seized upon by every teenager in the show. He laid down the law pretty ruthlessly about which members of the cast would be allowed to survive nuclear holocaust and lost all his friends. Richie also had a mother named Marion or Mrs C (Marion Crane); an older brother named Chuck who disappeared from the show after a season or two and was never referred to again; and a dogfaced younger sister named Joanie (Erin Moran) who would go on to be the eponymous heroine of "Joanie Loves Chaci".

My original idea for this post was to write about everything I knew about Milwaukee, at the time I discovered I had a relative living there, but of course, in the very act of putting down this information, I have been finding out more about the city and the cultural artefacts associated with it. So, visiting a web site (sitcomsonline.com) in search of "Happy Days" material, I chanced upon the following facts about Chuck Cunningham:

At the beginning of the first season, an actor named Gavan O'Herlihy was
hired to play Chuck Cunningham. After a few episodes, he went into Garry
Marshall's office and told him he didn't really want to be an actor and was
moving to Ireland to become a poet. They recast the part with an actor named
Randolph Roberts for the next season for a short time. The writers,
producers, and Marshall soon realized Richie didn't need an older brother
because Fonzie was, in a way, his older brother. They never mentioned what
happened to him, and many viewers wrote them letters. The producers just
left him out of the story and hoped that everyone would just forget about
him.

There were two constants about Chuck. He was dumb and he was always eating a sandwich or holding/dribbling a basketball.

In his autobiography, Garry Marshall says whenever anyone asked him about
Chuck and where he disappeared to, he would say Chuck got a 12-year
basketball scholarship to the University of Outer Mongolia.

My best memory of Chuck comes from an early episode, where it was Christmas-time in the Cunningham household, and either Richie or Mr and Mrs C. had bought and wrapped up a Christmas present for Chuck. Since the present was a basketball, it was large and spherical, and a mischievous young Joanie bounced to him, asking him to guess what it was. In the many years that have passed since I saw that episode, every time I have given anybody a present, I have always handed it over saying "It is a basketball." It is now as much a part of my present giving ritual, as the inevitable look of disappointment on the face of the recipient as he or she tears open the wrapping paper to find whatever it is inside (like, obviously, not a basketball) and stumbles to find some words with which to thank me, usually along the lines of "Well, that is unusual, at least."

Richie also had two best friends, Potsie (Aaron Williams) and Ralph Malph (I forget who played him but he also looked a lot like Howdie Doodie, and the plotline involving the marionette I was trying to recall above may actually have featured him, rather than Richie) with whom he used to hang around the local diner, an establishment named Arnolds that was run by a bad tempered Asian gentleman named Arnold until he was ritually murdered by Howard's Elks Lodge and replaced by an Italian-American named Al.


I have no idea why Arnolds had a Yale pennant attached to its wall.

The best character in the show, and the most popular, was Arthur Fonzerilli, or The Fonz, or Fonzie (Henry Winkler) whose greaser character was an engaging mix of charisma and naffness. Not being much of a reader of contemporary poetry, I am not sure if Gavan O'Herlihy, the actor who used to play Chuck, ever became a name to conjure with in literary circles. If so, I say, good luck to him. If he should happen to be up for a Nobel Prize, then he has my vote even without reading a line of his work. I do know that a great deal of traditional Irish epic poetry deals with figures from a remote past who have great charisma and physical powers that come close to being magical. I don't know if Gavan O'Herlihy has considered writing poetry along these lines, but I do know that a lot of this writing would make every bit as much sense if names like Finn McCool and Cuchulain were to be replaced in the text by The Fonz, who also comes from a remote past (ie. the 1950s). The Fonz may have been drawn to Milwaukee by the fact that Milwaukee is the home of the Harley Davidson company (Hey, I am learning all this stuff!) Although it was accepted by all Brisbane that The Fonz was exactly as cool as he saw himself, it did not go completely unnoticed in some circles (at least after a couple of years) that this status relied to some extent on the context of the people he chose to hang around with. I think it is fair to say that hanging out with a couple of Howdie Doodie lookalikes like Richie Cunningham and Ralph Malph did tend to provide a pretty good foil for The Fonz to look comparatively cool. If he had spent the 1950s hanging out with say, Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk, or Robert Mitchum and Jack Kerouac, then he might have seemed slightly less cool. Looking back on the show in a cold, sober, retrospective light, I find it hard to accept that giving a double thumbs up and exclaiming "Hey-ey-ey-ey" uncontrollably every five minutes or so is all that much of a cool gesture. If I was trying to impress a girl, I would instinctively avoid a move like that. As the show went on and other cast members moved on, Fonzie grew more and more central to the show and more and more ridiculous (seeming to acquire superhuman powers, including, at one point, the ability to fly) and more and more tragic. Going into business with Howard Cunningham to sell hardware is, I would submit, even less cool than going "Hey-ey-ey-ey" uncontrollably. Still, it is only fair to say that this was when the show was in decline.

So, here are the facts I learned about Milwaukee in 1950s from studying this show, including the character from whom I learned the fact.

-If you have a shelter to escape from the atom bomb, you will survive nuclear holocaust but will lose all your friends. (Howard)
-Asians running local greasy food joints won't last long. (Arnold)
-Divorcees are hot-to-trot. (Ralph and Pottsie)
-Elvis came through town on the way to being inducted into the army (Is this true?) (Fonzie)
-Older brothers can disappear and never be heard from or about again. (Chuck)
-If you have a reputation for being tough, you do not need to hit anyone.* However, this only works if you have, at some point or other, hit someone. (Fonzie)
-If you fall in love with an older boy, the only cure for this is to eat several jars of peanut butter. (Mrs C.)
-To operate a juke box, hit it on its side. (Fonzie).
-The way to attract girls is by clicking your fingers. (Fonzie)

I also learned a joke about a spider doing push ups on a mirror (Ralph) and the lyrics to "Blueberry Hill" (Richie) but couldn't find a way to phrase these to appear as facts in the above list. Even with these included, I have to admit, it does seem like slender pickings from all the hours I spent watching this show, especially since only the fourth fact is strictly a fact about Milwaukee, as opposed to a universal fact or theory that arose in a Milwaukee context. And while the other facts I learned about life from watching "Happy Days" are all questionable in one way or another, I would actually tend to believe they have a greater truth quotient than the Elvis fact, which I suspect was more a plot device than a piece of empirical data.

TOM #3: Milwaukee is chiefly notable because Elvis visited the city during the mid 1950s on his way to joining the army (possibly). One of the defining personalities of the 1950s was Senator Joe McCarthy, the mendacious Commie-hunting Senator from Wisconscin. Those were the good old days, when good old boys, like Elvis, were drafted into the service to ward off the threat of communism, particularly a problem in Milwaukee, known for its socialist mayors!

Milwaukee, in fact, Milwaukee in the 1950s, was not exhausted as a source material for hilarious sit com, er , situations, as "Laverne and Shirley" would shortly demonstrate. Although "Happy Days" did not shy away from its Milwaukee location, most episodes just as easily could have been set in say, Columbus, Ohio, without requiring any huge rewriting task. Hardware stores and diners are not specifically Milwaukee institutions. When I started to think about Milwaukee, in fact, my mind went straight to "Laverne and Shirley" rather than to "Happy Days" probably because the credits (the subject of a loving homage in "Wayne's World") showed Milwaukee street scenes rather than cast members spinning around a jukebox. The girls walked in the bottlecapping section of Shotz Brewery, and that certainly seemed a Milwaukeean sort of job.

There was another piece of local colour in "Happy Days," however, that I completely missed at the time, and have only discovered, well, a couple of minutes ago, ie. the use of the name, "Pfister." On the same web site where I found out about Chuck, I learned that the name "Pfister" was used many times on Happy Days . Apparently, an old tannery building where Water Street and Brady Street meet is marked "Pfister and Vogel" and there is a Pfister Hotel in the downtown area. This piece of local knowledge seems to have impressed the writers of "Happy Days".

When Howard's father comes to visit, Howard comments he can live in the Pfister Retirement Home.

Two characters during the 1982-1983 season were Fonzie's girlfriend Ashley Pfister and her daughter Heather Pfister.

In the Fonzie Loves Pinky episodes, the name Pfister is used several times. Pfister National Park and Pfister's Emporium are mentioned, and Pinky goes to Pfister Hospital!

However, Pfistermania was even more of a feature of "Laverne & Shirley". At the beginning of episode 32, the girls are visited by a representative from the Pfister Mortuary and Funeral Parlour; in the next episode, Shirley wins a free honeymoon at the Hotel Pfister. In episode 37, an impresario named "Charles Pfister Crane" tries to turn the girls into a singing duo called The Rosebuds (an obvious nod to fellow Wisconsconian, Orson Welles). In episode 46 the teenage singing sensation, Fabian, performs at the Pfister Arena. In episode 59, Laverne and Lenny attend a Polish Debutante Ball at the Hotel Pfister and in episode 60 Carmine applies for a loan to open a dancing studio at Pfister Savings and Loan. Squiggy mentions his favourite mouthwash, Pfisterene Mouthwash in episode 74 and three episodes later the girls buy a statue from the Pfister Plaster Palace. In episode 93 Shirley tells Frank that he should pop to the question to Edna at a romantic joint like Cafe Le Pfister, and there are references to other restaurants called Chez Pfister and Pfister Fong's in episodes 107 and 111.

"Laverne and Shirley" was a pretty good show, dealing with working class characters in at least a quasi-realistic way, and, I would submit, to take a couple of characters who came into the show as sexual playthings when The Fonz clicked his fingers at them, and bring them into focus, was quite a brave and interesting thing to do. Unfortunately, however, "Laverne and Shirley" also went into rapid decline, when the show was relocated from Milwaukee to Los Angeles after four seasons. Like Ron Howard, Penny Marshall who played Laverne, took her opportunity to break into directing ("A League of Their Own", "Riding in Cars With Boys").

As well as spinning off "Laverne and Shirley" and "Joanie Loves Chachi," "Happy Days" spun off one other sitcom, "Mork and Mindy," the show that gave the world Robin Williams, although, thankfully, at that point in his career he was less inclined to find an excuse to take off his shirt and showcase "the bear rug" than would be the case in his subsequent film career. The savvy reader will be thinking to himself or herself that something is wrong here, given that "Happy Days" was set in the 1950s whereas "Mork and Mindy," set in Boulder, Colorado, was a contemporary show at the time it was made, in the late 1970s. How could this be? After guest starring on "Happy Days" a couple of times, in the early episodes of "Mork and Mindy," there were situations like the following:

Mork decides he needs advice in the art of dating and goes to confer with "The Fonz", the greatest expert in the universe on the dating ritual peculiar to humans. In a flashback sequence, Mork arrives at Richie Cunningham's home where Fonzie is house-sitting. "The Fonz" arranges a blind date for Mork and Laverne with hilarious results.

(Ahh, the language conventions of episode guides. "The Third Reich": "Hitler decides on a final solution to the Jewish question, with hilarious results"; "Stalin": "Hilarity ensues when the Politburo decides to collectivise the kulaks.")


Hilarious results

Modern physics has posited the existence of "wormholes" which are singularities in the warp of the universe, or portals through which the laws and properties of matter are radically different to those we are used to measuring. Without setting myself up as an expert on Physics (since, shit, let's face it, I am not even an expert on "Happy Days"), it seems to me that flashbacks of this kind are only possible by postulating TOM # 4.

TOM # 4: Milwaukee is a wormhole- a singularity in the warp of the universe, a portal through which the laws and properties of matter are radically different to those we are used to measuring. This allows the existence of time travel. Consequently Milwaukee is a place where the past, present and future come together.

I think I have solved that rather neatly, although at this point, I would like to turn over the fiddly details of working this out to Professor Stephen Hawkins, the author of "A Brief History of Time". Although I think, realistically, I have done the major part of the work by coming through with this breakthrough, I would be happy to share any Nobel Prize for Physics that should happen to come along on a fifty-fifty basis with The Hawk, so long as my name is listed first on the honour board. When fully worked out, the theory could also do much to solve the disappearance of Chuck Cunningham, and could possibly even be combined with Eric's Wrestling/Reality theory . If Gavan O'Herlihy should happen to bag a Nobel Prize for Literature in the same year (maybe by going with that Fonzie/Finn McCool thing I suggested), it would be a distinguished quinella for the Cheesehead city.


I Love Milwaukee

Having mentioned "Wayne's World" once or twice in this celebration of Milwaukee, I wanted to close off with a Wayne and Garth style tribute to this great American city. In fact (and I do swear a solemn oath that as soon as I have finished typing this, I am going to look at a map and find out where Milwaukee is), I think TOM #5 brings together pretty much everything I want to say about the place.

TOM # 5:

It doesn't pulse with excitement and danger, like New York; It's not Thrillwaukee.

It isn't crowded with monuments of the republican grandeur of the revolutionary past, like Philadelphia; It's not Philwaukee.

It isn't blown by arctic winds, like those that come off the frozen wastes surrounding Anchorage, Alaska; It's not Chillwaukee.

It doesn't have glamour & glitz & shopping & movie stars & beautiful golden beaches like Los Angeles; It's not Beverly Hillwaukee.

It isn't a centre of industry, like Detroit; It's not Drillwaukee.

Jeffrey Dahmer notwithstanding, it doesn't have a high homicide rate, like Chicago or Dallas; It's not Killwaukee.

It doesn't even have a famous former ex-President as a homeboy, like Hope, Arkansas; It's not Billwaulkee.

And yet, it exists. It isn't Nowheresville, USA; It's not Nilwaulkee.

It is what it is & what it is is the most authentic American city of them all, the real deal, the place where the past, the present and the future come together, the final destination of the Savvy Traveller. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Famous for Laverne and Shirley, the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team, Liberace, Jeffrey Dahmer, the Violent Femmes, possibly other things, and beer.


-Mickey
mickey@whatever-dude.com

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