“Don’t you remember when police officers had the baseball cards?”
This happens a lot. Though I’m Milwaukee-born, I’m an Army brat and didn’t fully experience the city until I moved back an adult. Subsequently, I miss many of these “remember back when” references of my Milwaukee-bred peers.
“Don’t you remember??” he insists.
Gabriel is a true son of Milwaukee. I met him over a decade ago when he was a radio personality for WMSE. As we pass one another in the lobby, we both do a double take, hug, and fall into our…
When people wax poetic about “the good old days,” it’s not often that they’re referring to the 15th century.
“Artists had it best during the Medici period,” my table mate says to me. She’s referring to the Italian dynasty famously credited for ushering forth the Renaissance. Their patronage of promising new artists such as Botticelli, Raphael, Donatello, Leonardo da Vinci, Michaelangelo, and even Galileo launched a trend where arts patronage became one of the ultimate status symbols for wealthy families.
“If there were a tax break, patronage might have a comeback,” she says. “We do need patrons…
Sure, summer is coming to an end, but while they’re available, you can still enjoy the delicious tastes of summer that Chef Brian has put together for the Cafe Pfister’s menu. Including two of Chef Brian’s favorites, the WELLspa Caprese Salad and the incredible Floribbean Panini.
WELLspa Caprese Salad
featuring: fresh burrata, heirloom tomatoes, torn basil, cracked pepper, Skyhawk cold pressed olive oil & herb grilled bread
featuring: Sofrito roasted pork, sliced ham, melted swiss, sliced pickle, mango mustard…
I spotted the boy first. A fair-headed toddler with the ambition –if not the arm extension—to reach the hand towels all by himself. Up on his tiptoes, he wiggled and stretched his fingers toward the sensor. His small grunts only rumbled out as giggles.
His mother and I watched for an extra heartbeat before she fanned a hand in front of the red light. The box whirred and dispensed a length of paper towel. The boy was elated. His mother and I exchanged a knowing glance: they first fall in love with their impact on the world at…
“So, who’s going to read this? Where will it be published?”
I suppose this is what it’s like to talk with a spy or an undercover agent.
“Do you have to use my real name?”
Or a fugitive from the law.
“You’re not going to mention where I work, are you?”
Or, maybe, someone in witness protection.
“I just don’t like to have my business out there.”
As someone who has broadcast innumerable episodes of my personal life into print or a microphone, I was wholly intrigued by this Spy Agent…
Tom and Marge are almost there. One kid is halfway through college and the other has just vacated the guest room.
“You’re not off duty when your kids turn 18,” says Tom. “Not even when they’re out of college. A good friend warned me long ago that 30 is the new cutoff.”
Marge is wearing an “Illinois State Mom” tee shirt, which is what initially caught my attention. I earned my undergrad degree from Illinois State University and was pleased to see the unexpected Redbird pride.
“Our daughter is studying communications,” she said. “She’ll be a sophomore…
They were like the prologue for a coming of age film, an assuring glimpse at how adulthood will frame their childhood adventures. John, with his salted hair, and Perry, with laugh lines softening his eyes, fell into the couch beside mine talking and laughing with the fluid shorthand of longtime friends and the loosened inhibitions of Summerfest beer. They were neither obnoxious nor loud, but generated an energy that pulled me in like static.
“Ours is a timeless tale,” John boomed when I asked them to tell me their story. His smile was confident and his blue eyes were sharp…
There are rules, and there are rules. The first kind, we largely agree to be hard fast: stealing is wrong, kindness is good, unhealthy eating creates an unhealthy body, and cutting off someone in traffic fills your rear view mirror with crude hand gestures.
The second kind of rules, even italicized in our minds, are the ones we might conveniently recast as “guidelines:” wearing a helmet, copying your supervisor on every email, visiting the dentist twice a year and waiting until Happy Hour for an afternoon cocktail.
I brush away these mental italics and sip my whiskey. It’s almost…
Downtown Dining Week begins in a few days. Join us at Mason Street Grill and The Café at The Pfister for some wonderful lunch and dinner options created by our talented chefs…
Who doesn’t love a cinnamon roll? For generations they have been a staple in kitchens in Northern Europe and North America.
There are few things that can beat the wonderful aroma of cinnamon and freshly baked, buttery bread. Then you finally get to taste the warm, sweet and gooey creation that pairs so perfectly with a cup of coffee or glass of milk.
It’s a classic for a reason.
For years, the Café Pfister has offered classic cinnamon rolls, but executive Chef Brian Frakes and his team decided to put their own, delicious spin on the classic.
I sensed them before I saw them. A carbonated excitement that pushed aside the steady hum of the front lobby. It was a gaggle of girls, perhaps 10 or 11 years old. They had tote bags on their shoulders and duffle bags dropped to their feet. Their small group, roughly a half dozen, tittered blissfully, gazing up to the ornate ceiling, pointing to the chandeliers, looking around at the austere paintings on the wall. Nearby, two mothers are digging in their handbags and collating paper printouts, waiting to check in. A third woman stood with the girls. Her smile seemed…
That’s the best way I can describe this Narrator experience. My last few posts will be going live over the next couple of days and my successor will be at work getting acquainted with the speed and rhythm of this sparkling old gal on Wisconsin Avenue. From an artistic standpoint it’s been like getting to eat chocolate cake for breakfast every day. The staff have been great. They’ve been generous with information, gracious in introducing me to guests and other coworkers, and ever tolerant of my constant game of 20 questions.
Every day I’ve arrived…
“I’m going to be 22.”
That was Joe’s answer when I asked how old he was. His response was shared with a grin in that adorable way that only people up to a certain age are excited to tell you how old they’re going to be.
Joe started with the Pfister as a busser at the ripe young age of 18. After time spent cleaning tables Joe moved on to being a food runner and from there he has become a bartender. Joe bartends upstairs in Blu on occasion but most nights you can find him downstairs…
There tend to be patterns of why people live where they live. Often times they got a job nearby, or that’s where they went to school, or possibly their spouse’s family is from the area.
Roc is a concierge at the Pfister and his path to Milwaukee definitely did not follow any of these typical routes. Roc and his Quaker lineage hail from Northwest Indiana. In his home state Roc had been a teacher of Latin, German, and English before becoming involved in starting non-profit organization. The organization provided the beginnings of what we now know as…
A young girl
tells her grandfather
she’s learning to write.
the yellow pencils
and blue lined paper
She tells him she’s learned
how to write her name.
“Well that’s magnificent!”
“I’d love to read your handwriting.
Will you write something for me?”
She shakes her head,
you can’t read it yet,
“I’m just practicing.”
Her grandfather smiles
and leans down to whisper
gravelly grinning decades next to her face
that is the great secret.
Travelers. Travelers everywhere. Transient folks of every stripe walking, running, sitting, working, swimming, eating. Carrying luggage. Grabbing a cup of coffee. Adding sugar to their tea. En route toward somewhere. Arriving from someplace else.
Ah, airports. All of humanity distilled to a small area becoming a sudden, immediate culture. Unique and specific to that individual moment. The energy of not knowing what awaits on the other side of the tarmac touchdown chirp. I haven’t seen an airport in awhile but all the travelers inside this hotel make me feel as though I’m spending my time in a…
As mentioned in an earlier post I’ve put considerable thought toward how to chronicle Jeff, his playing, and more specifically his playing at the Pfister Hotel. There are several occasions when I’ve left the hotel and driven home in silence because after hearing him at the piano anything on the radio sounded like a frivolous muck.
Different ways to “capture” Jeff battled with one another in my head. Photographs, photographs of his hands, photographs of his facial expressions while playing. Brief videos of the way his hands dance across the keys. Recording the audio of him playing…
Ah, big brother Chicago. Just two hundred years ago we were part of the same Illinois territory.
People come to Milwaukee for many reasons. Business. Dinner. Conventions. Celebrations. Sporting events. Art openings. Museums.
Visitors ask certain key questions which lead me to conclude they’re not from Milwaukee. This line of conversation usually takes place after someone says, “So how do I get a cab around here?” or “This place is great, where else should I visit?” Or they call the water drinking oasis a fountain instead of a bubbler.
I’ve noticed a trend of Chicagoans visiting us just…
That was the first thing out of his mouth when I mentioned I’d been shopping for a house.
“French doors can brighten up any space. If there is no doorway, build a doorway. Anything can be done. Of course, it’s easier if a house is exactly how you want it when you first walk through but that’s not realistic. Floor plans can be changed, walls can be built or removed, it all depends what you’d like to do. But the first most important thing is whether you like the house and whether you like…
The Pfister has received countless compliments on their Marcus Celebrated Chefs series. Many of the compliments centered around the hotel’s Executive Chef Brian Frakes. People talked about how generous he was with his knowledge and always sent them home with extra food. Guests went home energized with new ideas of how to invigorate their home cooking.
It turned out I’d met Brian briefly when I first came on as narrator. Concierge Peter Mortensen was giving me the introductory tour and we walked downstairs by the kitchen. Brian and I briefly shook hands and exchanged greetings. There were so…
What is the meaning of life? I do not know and I’m quite sure many people are closer to having a conclusion than myself. The best I’ve managed to piece together is finding something you love and devising a way to make it pay your bills. Individuals who have successfully accomplished that have always fascinated me.
As an example I offer the sommelier. Their job is to become a walking wine database. How does one do this? Naturally, drinking wine is a large part of the job. But one can’t just become a lush and start wearing…
One day I was sitting in the lobby lounge waiting for something to happen. It can be a strange feeling to think qualitatively about conversation, hoping for a moment of random brilliance to spring from a happenstance stranger. This random Tuesday evening my mind started drifting for all the typical reason’s one’s mind wanders from the task at hand while working. Bills, or maybe errands forgotten or neglected. Maybe the current song grabbed my attention and reminded me of another song which presented a memory of an old friend and I pictured the car they drove which stranded…
Saturday afternoon I swung in to Mason Street Grill. The restaurant wasn’t open and jazz played quietly while the fireplace crackled to an audience of empty bar stools. This Saturday was a sunny thaw of a day which followed a sudden Friday snowstorm. Roads now cleared by snowplows and sunshine generally forecasts a busy night for bars and restaurants. I was hoping to sit down and speak with Heather Kanter-Kowal, the restaurant’s assistant manager and sommelier. A sommelier is certified as a wine expert and anyone who has been able to pursue a field they love…
Back by popular demand, Marcus Restaurants has brought back its popular chef series starting on March 24th.
Every Saturday, our Marcus Restaurants chefs will host a special sequence of classes designed for guests to discover trade secrets from some of Wisconsin’s renowned culinary leaders.
Each class will feature a different beverage pairing to be sampled with each chef’s preparations, all while you learn great tips. Each class is limited to 18 guests, so you can enjoy a close-up look at cooking techniques in an intimate setting.
Our Spring Series will feature an array of classes from cooking…
Saturday afternoon I was hanging out in Shelby’s studio watching her work on a painting of the Milwaukee Art Museum. She was searching to find her way through the piece. A stroke here, a stroke there. Step back, consider. Wipe with a moist towel, then determine another stroke. Having this rare intersection between a writer and a painter makes me feel like we’re living inside of Frank O’Hara’s poem Why I Am Not a Painter.
While I was seated on the couch a guy in his twenties walked in to the studio for a closer look…