Rhapsodies In BLU

The Pfister Hotel and BLU are proud to announce a new music series “Rhapsodies in Blu” featuring The Pfister pianist, Dr. Jeffrey Hollander. You can enjoy this new series in BLU on the first Thursday of every month, starting in April. Every performance will be completely unique and will draw from a different musical inspiration.

  • April 7 – “My Foolish Heart” featuring the improvisations of Dr. Hollander
  • May 5 – “Lullaby of Birdland” a celebration of the late jazz pianist, George Shearing
  • June 2 – “Nice Work If You Can Get It” inspired by George Gershwin
  • July 7 – “My Blue Heaven” inspired by American Independance Day
  • August 4 – “Play it Again, Sam” Warner Brothers movies of the 1940’s
  • September 1 – “A Fifth of Beethoven” inspired by the opening of the Milwaukee Symphony season

Join us at BLU on the first Thursday of each month starting in April from 5:30-6:30 pm.

The Pfister Crossroads

I come from a very small town. Pick just about any country music ditty and the lyrics describe something I grew up with. What’s inevitable about a small town is the odds of bumping into someone you know anywhere you go. My luck was always just after I’d thrown on grubby, see weekend clothes, I’d run into people in the grocery store.

When I first moved to Milwaukee, however, I longed for these moments of happenstance—it’s a sign you’ve lived and circulated somewhere long enough to actually have people to bump into.

The Pfister Hotel is its own small town. On a weekend, seek walk in through the parking garage and see the mounted windows advertising all that you can buy or eat at the hotel. Walk past the artist-in-residence’s studio and see Katie there with an art tour and passersby just popping in, viagra interested in why the group is gathered. Walking past the curious lunch crowd, you can absorb the Gilmore Girls’  Stars Hollow or even imagine one of the Ingalls’ girls about to come running up with saved pennies for candy at the mercantile.

Stop into the café and sit down to eat, and there it is, your happenstance. Someone from somewhere else in your life is having brunch with their family—you’ve “bumped into.” Of course you’d run into them here, who isn’t at the Pfister?

But it’s no longer a small town mercantile when you’re in the café. While you chat with your colleague from weekday work, you’ll notice the table of international businessmen next to you and the young athlete being recruited to our city at the tables in the window. The Pfister has mastered the small town pedestrian mall feel within its hallways, and then once your nostalgia and comfort kicks in, you realize you’re in a worldly place, as big and far-reaching as you can imagine.

Stroll out from lunch to the lobby to see what the weekend hustle and bustle brings. Convention goers, with their nametags and lanyards tangling in their winter coats, are zooming through the hotel, absorbing its wares and there it is—the ultimate “I really live here” moment. You’ve heard all along one of your work colleagues is a cherished and frequent guest of the hotel. She comes in often to enjoy its amenities and the staff. They all know her by name, by her class, grace and polite sophistication. And as you breathe in this world within a world, a weekend marketplace, a city unto itself, you bump right into the honored lady enjoying her brunch in the lobby bar. Here is your old acquaintance chatting with your new one (Valerie). Sit down, have a toddy to celebrate the winter thaw and work out whether this nexus of characters means you now really live in Milwaukee or at the Pfister.

Picture Perfect

When I travel somewhere, site I take endless photographs, but that typical scenic shot—the Grand Canyon, Big Ben, anything in Yellowstone—I don’t even try to capture. I know someone before me has put a lot of time and energy into crystallizing the feeling of the place in perfect lighting, at just the right moment, with all the pieces falling in line with the close of the aperture. I buy their postcard.

The Pfister Hotel at the lunch hour is just such a postcard. I’ve tried to understand the place at all hours of the day, and have to confess, lunch seems to be the time where the convergence of staff prowess, culinary smells and the right pace in the traffic of guests helps crystallize the hotel.

All the businessmen lunch in the café in the window seats. Rather than the near naked morning meetings where they’re baring only shirtsleeves, jackets slung over chairs, they are fully suited and highly engaged in the goings on of their world. The beauty is in the buffer the blinds seem to provide between the business and the street. Freezing, bundled passersby hurry into the frame, but seem a world away.

In the lobby, society women confidently move through and into the hotel—all with the perfect hat (oh, how I love the hats!), many with shopping bags and even laptop cases. The bellmen converge on their station, impeccable in their uniforms, but smiling and chattering to one another awaiting a client in the lull of noon hour check-ins.

There’s a buzz, a motion, but not a hectic quality. It’s a well-oiled machine. The uniforms, the business of it all, the shoppers and those just passing through remind you of its formality and history. But the oversized, over-inflated mylar balloon boldly wishing a long gone celebrant a “Happy Birthday” that bounces against the cherub in the high ceilings of the lobby helps bring the present to mind.

If this wasn’t postcard enough, this glimpse into the routines and grace of the Pfister, married with the whimsy of the lost balloon, the next guest I encountered sealed the image for me. A woman confidently entered the scene with a Boston Store dress bag slung over her shoulder, her hair whooshing as she moved past. Her new dress, purchased for an evening event, instantly makes me smile and suggest she seems like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman.

And then it’s all fit for a frame: my postcard is an image of the Hollywood glitz of the Regent Beverly Wilshire and Julia Roberts’ broad grin when she conquers the hotel guests with her charm. Peter, the concierge, is my Barney (Hector Elizondo) as he spots a mother and her daughters—someone he may have helped the night before—and he surveys their liking of the place thus far, their review of his recommendations.

Maybe I watch too much TV, or far too many movies, but when I had a Pretty Woman moment right there in the Pfister, and that woman understood it with me, that’s when I captured the perfect snapshot (and hit the elevator to see if I could catch Richard Gere in the equivalent of the penthouse suite…).