A Room Full of Barometric Gages

Inside the rouge ballroom is a top-secret gathering of the stylish.

 

The nation’s first four-year fashion program (Milwaukee’s own Mount Mary College!) is holding a reception for AIDS awareness. There is to be a conversation between Timothy Gunn, American fashion icon who hosts the television show, Project Runway and Sister Aloyse Hessburg, SSND, who founded the fashion design program at Mount Mary fifty years ago.

 

It is the hob-nob hour before Mr. Gunn and Sr. Aloyse speak, so I nob my hob over to the table of fashion majors to find out what trends they are all about. Petal sleeves! A recent assignment challenged them all to create a bunch of sleeves out of muslin fabric. The results were stapled to the wall and became something known as “the wall of sleeves.”

 

There are two kinds focus for fashion majors at Mount Mary, the merchandise department is for those who want to open a boutique, and the design department is for those who want to create the stock for their friend’s boutiques.

 

I ask them if they all draw pretty ladies in their free time.

“You SHOULD draw pretty ladies in your free time if you’re in fashion!”

 

Fashion design majors.
Fashion design majors.

Tori, a junior in the designer program loves to knit, but has never crocheted. She tells me that after graduation she is going to move to either New York or London and get her masters in knitwear.

 

Pakou.
Pakou.

“I like posh New York style business wear,” says Pakou, a sophomore who gets a lot of her influences as a designer from Alexander McQueen. “I love his drama and tailoring.” Pakou made up her own henna design and applied it to her hand with a toothpick. She wants to stay in Milwaukee after graduation, but is thinking about using a different name as a designer because “Pakou is a very common Hmong name.” I shake my head, “But just think of all the women named Pakou who will want to buy your clothes and wear them because you share the same name!” Pakou smiles and admits that she’s never thought of it that way.

 

She applied the henna with a toothpick.
She applied the henna with a toothpick.

Two moments stand out in the dialogue between Sr. Aloyse and Tim Gunn. One is the story of how Sr. Aloyse studied fashion in New York and still had to wear her full floor length habit of a Catholic nun that covered all of her hair and much of her face. Many people on the streets and in elevators assumed she was a beggar.

 

The other moment occurred at the end of the discussion when Timothy Gunn said, “There is a profound difference between being a fashion designer and a clothing designer. The world needs clothes, it doesn’t need fashion. As a fashion designer you’re really a barometric gage of your culture. And if that sounds highfalootin’ and grand— it is! You are working in a context as the societal, cultural, historical, political and economic. You are that gage of what is happening in this particular time and place. That’s your role and you need to accept responsibility for it. It’s not just about the pretty dress.”

 

Pin the Eagle On the Mother






Five moments of learning from the past week at the Pfister.

 

1.

A kid from Chicago comes to my typewriter and gawks. I allow him to type whatever he wants:

“HAa Liamisthe greatest Pat and Kerianne suck and wish they could do this hahah”

DSCN7970


DSCN7965

 

2.

A girl comes up and I also explain the typewriter to her as she has never seen one before. She tells me that she didn’t realize it came with a keyboard, sovaldi she just thought it was a machine that cut paper.

DSCN7912

3.

An able-bodied man is admiring a painting in the seventh floor.

 

Man: Sometime I want to rent one of those walkers with the seats and go to the Milwaukee Art Museum so that I can just sit in front of the paintings.

 

Me: Well, capsule I’m sure they wouldn’t say no to you if you wanted to rent one.

 

Man: But then I’d look like I’d need it. (Pauses) Well, maybe one day I will.

 

4.

I order just the bone marrow

without the bread.

is that too weird?

 

Elizabeth, my waitress says,

“Nothing is too weird to order at the Mason Street Grill. There is a vegetarian woman who comes here all the time ordering just a plain baked potato with broccoli.”

 

The Mason Street Grill’s lighting is the color of gravy.

Were I a vegetarian I would come here just to satisfy my carnivorous cravings

with a plain baked potato in this restaurant illuminated by steak essence

without betraying my principles.

 

I have a spot at the chef’s counter.

Close exposure to the sizzle and clang of the kitchen

makes dinner much more exciting

these cooks know they are on stage

they grind pepper with great ceremony

they cut pizza with broad sweeping gestures

one usually reserves for ironing a king size bed sheet.

DSCN7927
She is very aware of her audience.

 

I watch steak after steak leaving the kitchen.

Before they depart they are dribbled with white sauce

and resembled chocolate cake with vanilla frosting.

 

When my bones come out, I am surprised and delighted to see that they come with a just arugula salad.  The significance of which you will understand if you read this story.

 

Anyways, Elizabeth looks at the bones on my plate

and tells me,

“You know in Columbia we make a soup with bones like that. Sancocho soup! We put in plantains, corn on the cob, real cilantro (that’s our secret, it turns it green), potato and bone marrow with the oxtails. The plantain has to be green, those sweet ripe kind are for frying.”

 

Elizabeth admits the friendly, unique, polite people of Wisconsin

tip her extra for having an accent.

Moving here four years ago

she feared she might not survive the cold

but she had to live here,

after she had visited Summerfest

she knew she had to stay.

She had to learn how to drive in the snow.

 

5.

Lillian at Coat Check tells me that one of her sons became an Eagle Scout at age 12, which is unusually young. At the Eagle Scout award ceremony it is customary for the new Eagle Scout to present and attach an eagle pin on their mother. Lillian’s son fumbled and avoided making contact to her blouse with the pin. She asked him what was wrong and he said, “I don’t want you to burst!” Lillian was very pregnant at the time.

DSCN7962
This relates to nothing else, but these two people got married yesterday.

Anyway, I Was Converted



Here is the conversion story of Monica who joins her friends Jan and Tom at the Pfister every Sunday after they all attend mass at St. Catherine’s.

 

“I hated it.

I was opposed to it on moral grounds.

Disgusting,

brutal,

a waste of time.

 

Then the Packers won the Superbowl with Brett Favre

and I started to realize the strategy, the artistry,

it’s like watching a ballet

with three hundred pound ballerinas!

They’re so in their bodies,

they’re so in control of their bodies,

so embodied those guys

that they can intuitively reach up and catch that ball

and get it, oh my god,

in a split second

and then together, the community of it,

the communication that hasta happen,

how they have to know what they’re doing…

anyway, I was converted.”

 

Were you into sports before you liked football?

 

“No,

not a sports person.

Didn’t grow up with it,

don’t have brothers,

nuthin,

nuthin,

no, no sense of it,

didn’t know that it was a thing of beauty,

didn’t know it had any merit.

 

We used to come here anyway,

then we wanted to watch the Packer game,

but this isn’t quite a Packer place—

like you wouldn’t normally think

the Pfister… Packers?

So they have the lovely lobby

with the little TV in the corner

and then we asked,

“Could we watch the Packer game?”

so then somebody gingerly opened up the TV doors

and put on the Packer game with no sound,

but then we got so excited

and of course people really wanted to watch the game

even Pfister people, like the staff,

they all came sneaking out,

“What’s the score? What’s the score?”

so like eventually over time it sorta became okay

to watch the Packer game here

and then we would have a lovely brunch

and then we would pull the tables together

and then like a community of people

began to join us on Sundays,

a lot of the staff,

95-year-old Mildred,

Caroline,

and the guy that we thought was a secret service agent.

And now people will gather out there

a lot of times there’s guests in the hotel from out of state

and they come down,

it’s a great place to watch the Packer game, the best.

 

We’ve met a ton of people,

Mike Sherman’s (the Packer’s coach) daughter!

I didn’t know who she was

I saw this girl sitting by herself watching the game,

this college girl,

but she’d go like this:

DSCN7900
Monica demonstrates.

 

 

it was getting towards the end of the season

towards the playoffs, so this was a really important game

she went to Marquette but she didn’t want to watch it there

because all the kids knew her

so she came here to watch it by herself

and there was nobody else there that Sunday

it was just you and Mike Sherman’s daughter

watching this intense game.

 

I would have missed all that

if I still had my nose in the air

about the moral reprehensibility of football.”

 

 

 

DSCN7904

A Reunion With Radical Kiera

Until today, I hadn’t seen my friend Kiera in nine years. The last time I saw her we were having one last group sleepover at my house the week before we each moved out of Milwaukee to seek our higher educations in other cities. I went to Missouri for the Kansas City Art Institute and Kiera went to Oakland for the College of Creative Studies. Kiera has been living in Oakland ever since. Understandable, Oakland is a balmy paradise full of bookstores and coffee shops, and it is easy to navigate without a car. Unfortunately, the gentrification of Oakland will soon force Kiera to move out. The soaring rents will soon match those of San Francisco where the average one bedroom apartment is $3,000 a month.

DSCN7890
Here we are at a school dance back in the day.

 

Keira tells me that this could be a good change because she would like to live somewhere quiet where there is lots of space between the houses. However, Kiera is conflicted about this idea because she a city girl. I recommend Detroit to her because whenever I go to that city it has a quiet feel due to all the boarded up houses, but remains a city where only those possessing much grit survive. She agrees with me but says she probably won’t be moving to anywhere in the Midwest since her boyfriend, Snow, doesn’t like cold weather!

 

Kiera tells me about how one time Snow and his father went skiing and got separated on the hill. Snow’s father started calling for his son, “Snow! Snoooow!!!” and people looked strangely at this man who seemed to suddenly realize that the world around him was covered in snow.

 

Kiera joins me for a meal at the Pfister café. She surveys the menu and starts to laugh when she sees it offers a salad called a “cheeseburger bowl,” featuring a hamburger with cheese on a bed of lettuce “Only out here,” says Kiera. I ask what the “only out there” regional equivalent would be in Oakland. “Maybe if you asked for the simple arugula salad, with just arugula and tomatoes.” We are sitting in one of the café booths and it reminds us both of hanging out late at night at 24-hour diners in high school. Kiera laments that Oakland has a scarcity of 24-hour establishments.

DSCN7898
That’s a lot of men in one room.

 

We walk around the hotel imagine what it and the city were like when it was first built. Kiera takes her time, reading every plaque and investigating every painting and photograph. We stop in front of a picture that was taken when President McKinley came to the Pfister. There must be 2000 people in the room, and we try to find even one woman in the crowd, but don’t see one, not even a maid. We both say how we cannot fully grasp what life was like back then.  Although I do look at over my contemporary, Keira, and (using my hundred year old filter) observe that she wears her hair very short. Radical! Kiera wonders if any of her ancestors from her dad’s side are in this photo. The German side of Kiera’s family had some influence in this town back when Milwaukee was considered “the gold coast” prior to the first World War.

10397224_569390356392_5780591114590698560_o

One more thing: Radical Kiera is just back from competing in Art Prize, a national juried art show in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Here she is modeling a nine-foot wearable art piece that she designed with five other collaborators.

This Is His Fifth Wedding In Three Years

I’m drinking tropical hibiscus in the lounge

when a woman enters the vicinity clopping

her tongue like a horse

along to the ambient music.

I record this occurrence in my notebook,

take a swig of tea,

and stand

to meet the clip clop woman

so as to tell her how much I appreciate

triumphal people who enter rooms with song.

“I did?  I don’t remember doing that.”

says the lady who mere seconds ago

was a verifiable songhorse.

I wonder if any of the other loungers

here can recall it,

perhaps

I notice more than I should

like when I ask the man with all the loose leaf notes

and who is scrawling with an extra wide sharpie

what it is he is doing

and he says

“writing an obituary”

and then thanks me for leaving him alone.

Today I overhead a woman saying,

“A successful marriage requires falling in love several times.”

Plenty of advice like that can be overhead inside the Pfister

on the seventh floor

I overhear the rehearsal of marriage vows,

a man and a woman,

scripts in hand

“Do you take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband?”

(Which I still always hear as “Do you take this man to be your waffle-y wedded husband?” because that’s what I thought it was when my grandma and I played Barbies back in 1990 or so.)

Maybe it is none of my bee’s wax biz nizz

but I ask them if they are about to marry each other

“No!  That’s my sister!”

says the man named Jesse

who is an officiant for weddings.

This is his fifth wedding in three years,

he only marries close friends of the family.

“If I know them I will do it,”

he will marry them.

Jesse informs me that “you could even marry yourself if you want to”

or at least you could according to the Wisconsin state statue of five years ago

when last he read it

as part of getting ordained by the Universal Life Church

“I’ve paid my dues, Miss.”

His first wedding was up in the Porcupine Mountains of upper Michigan,

how waffle-y romantic sounding

I think

it is time to wish Jesse and his helping sister well

so that they may get on with the ceremony,

but there is no bride and groom,

no wedding party,

where are they?

Late.

I almost say, “Well, break a leg!”

but that’s not quite appropriate,

maybe “Go jump the broom!” is better?

Jesse recommends, “I hope you’re sure!”

or if the conditions are right, “I hope this is the last one!”

DSCN7720
Jesse and his sister Valerie rehearse the ceremony. They came in from Green Bay, Wisconsin.
DSCN7722
“I’m getting concerned that no one is up here,” says Jesse regarding the wedding party.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Pinecone Shaped Doorknob on the Seventh Floor

The suit store, Roger Stevens will cease to exist at the end of this month after its four decades at the Pfister. Everything is for sale.  Everything.

EverythingEverythingEverythingEverythingEverythingEverythingEverythingEverythingEverythingEverythingEverythingEverythingEverything.

EverythingEverythingEverythingEverythingEverythingEverythingEverythingEverythingEverythingEverythingEverythingEverything.

DSCN7579
The striped shorts!
DSCN7586
The suits!
DSCN7576
The exquisite chair!
DSCN7572
The authentic Italian army nesting cases!
DSCN7568
The books!
DSCN7567
The wooden beaver!
DSCN7566
The “HONOURS” board!

 

The bow ties!
The bow ties!
DSCN7594
The classic Ralph Lauren photographs!
DSCN7570
The jar of buttons!

But NOT the elk head. That one they tell me is on loan.

DSCN7558

I show all these manly goods to Wes because he is a man. He’s also a person with the inquisitive eye of a filmmaker-photographer-retired rapper. His eyeballs expand and emit rays of zing whenever he sees project potential. It is natural when in his company to want to show him every storied bit you can scratch together in the hope that he will do that peculiar eye thing again.

DSCN7627

He shows me things too. Things I have never noticed before like the pinecone shaped doorknob on the seventh floor. Wes explains that the pinecone is an important symbol to a lot of cultures and represents the pineal gland in the brain. It is believed by much of humanity that the pineal gland is where one’s soul enters and exits the body at the start and end of life. Also, the top of the head is where divine knowledge enters the body through the crown chakra.

I don’t know where he gathered all this knowledge, but it could have been back in Dodgeville where he was hatched amongst pinecones.

DSCN7646
Who is that?!

I show him the wall with the portraits of all the governors Wisconsin has ever known and Wes searches for Governor Dodge, the namesake of his hometown. None of the inscriptions below the portraits bear his name. Though there is one on the wall without an inscription, so Wes decides that one is him.   Either that or “A hipster guy who bartends over at the Sugar Maple.”

He told me about a movie he shot years ago in some abandoned houses of Dodgeville. He made his decision for the location when he went up to one and thought, “This house feels ghosty. ” He would tell his actors, “Let’s have you walk down this staircase and uh hopefully it doesn’t cave in.”   Sometimes the houses would smell weird, like animal death. After he made that movie he was traumatized from making that movie and didn’t make another one for a long time “Even though I tried like several times.”

He’s been more productive in amassing “Gourds of writings! Hoards of writings! Hoards of gourds of writings!” And now that he is retiring from rap he is ghostwriting an R&B album. “I’ve got it all mapped out, it’s a ‘triple triptych symphony.’ I’m working with three different producers and they’re each giving me 3D beats. Then they’re going to collaborate on each other’s beats so it will have a persistent feel to it with three different movements.” Wes explained this one to me thrice and in three different ways. Expect to hear the results nigh.

HenryDodge
The real Governor Dodge.

While writing this post I’ve looked up a picture of Governor Dodge. I think the unnamed fellow we found is more likely The Sugar Maple Hipster.

A Cat, A Bat And Many A Diplomat.

DSCN7323

DSCN7324
Wherever they are headed, I’m going too!

The Wisconsin Humane Society is throwing a fundraiser, “An Old Hollywoof affair.”

DSCN7331
Helga, the concierge, gave me three magic treats to offer guests before I joined up with the ball.
DSCN7335
“Talon is a healthy peregrine falcon.”
DSCN7368
This owl kept turning its head like a screw. Looking at me and looking at who, who, who?
DSCN7377
“Coco is a Wisconsin Humane Society alum, adopted last year. Since then he’s visited St. Luke’s Hospital and spoke to the stroke support group. Last year he wore a tweed jacket. This year he has a smoking jacket and a pipe donated from Uhle’s Smoke Shop.” I offer to hold his pipe for him, but he says he doesn’t actually like smoking.
DSCN7378
Nope!
DSCN7374
In case you were wondering, he is half siamese and half tabby.

 

 

DSCN7354
Cora is a “hoary bat.” Hoary bats have a frost tint to their hair.
DSCN7352
Meal worms. “Cora is cuddly right now because she just had a big meal. This is what she eats in captivity. In the wild she’d eat things like moths or corn earworm, a significant agricultural pest. She’d be interested in any big winged insect.”

 

DSCN7436
“His real name is Cary Grant.”
DSCN7397
Handsome. My kinda guy.
DSCN7387
I have always feared tiny dogs, but a lady asked me if I would like to hold her dog and I could not say no.
Everyone wanted their picture taken with this particular dog.
Everyone wanted their picture taken with this particular dog.
DSCN7393
“Would you like to play ‘Blingo?’ It’s $100 a ticket and if you win you get $4,000 jewelry.”
Care for any skewers with dipping sauce?
Care for any skewers with dipping sauce?
This dame was a real hoot!
This dame was a real hoot!
DSCN7466
Surveying the silent auction wares that included a palatial four poster bed for a royal creature who should weight eight pounds or less.
Would you like a Garfield poster AUTOGRAPHED BY JIM DAVIS????  Twelve year old me would!
Would you like a Garfield poster SIGNED BY JIM DAVIS???? Twelve year old me would!
DSCN7425
I was attempting to surreptitiously snap a picture of his Hollywood hair, but he caught me! Generously, this star gave me his autograph with a single glance.
DSCN7426
This beautiful person is named Angela.

 

There were plenty of spangly gowns to gawk upon.
There were plenty of spangly gowns to gawk upon.

 

DSCN7411
Very gawk worthy.
This woman's dress epitomized the evening's theme.
This woman’s dress epitomized the evening’s theme.
DSCN7443
There were many variations of that theme.
Dizzied by all the glitter, sparkling with the wine.
Dizzil’d by all the glitter gla gla gla, sparkling along with the wine.
There was lots of petting.
There was lots of petting.

 

This one fooled me.  I thought it was alive.
This one fooled me. I thought it was still alive.
The unwavering gaze of this couple transferred an electric current strong enough to thwart my camera's battery. There are no further pictures of this event.
The unwavering gaze of this couple transferred an electric current strong enough to thwart my camera’s battery. There are no further pictures of this event.

 

 

The Absinthe Minded Confusion Fusion

DSCN7181My recorder has stored a highly detailed 16 minute and 12 second description of a book this man read a couple decades ago.  It is the autobiography of Bernard Baruch, a wall street guy who hung out at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in the 1930’s.  The description would have been even longer had I not the urge to use the bathroom.  To get the rest of the story I’ll have to read the rest of the book, but he warned me that it is hard to find as it has gone out of print.

DSCN7091Snooping around on the second floor I discover the Pfister’s room rates.  Even with a bath, it’s cheaper than renting an apartment.  So, I’m moving into a room.

DSCN7021Now that I live at the Pfister my breakfast always looks likes this.  Made in house daily by dainty fingered bakers that know the difference between a dried currant and a dried blueberry by touch alone.

DSCN7214My lunches are exquisite medleys of pecans, bacon, tomato, spinach and salmon grilled by low voiced gorillas with ornamental (but harmless) fangs.

DSCN7011My snacks are the giant pretzels set out for convention goers.

DSCN6811This supper of chicken and mashed cauliflower enraptures me so much that I must fill my paper napkin with the scribbles of divine savoring!

DSCN6820I take the frantic notations of my sensorial frizmitation and place it with gratitude inside the pianist’s tip jar.

DSCN7017I use to think these perfect things were made out of convincing colored wax and shined with mineral oil, too good to be true… but they are not.  They are my dessert.

DSCN6801I climb to the 23rd floor and watch all the rush hour cars stuck on the freeway.  I no longer have use for a freeway.  I live at work.  Nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah!

DSCN6864Lies!  I don’t really live here. I am just around here enough to notice when the palm trees are temporarily moved from their regular posts in the lobby.

DSCN7080Last week the lobby was festooned with flowers of the sun.

DSCN7034Behind the roses and blur of movement is a lounge full of loungers.  The loungers are attended to by Val. Today Val told me that when absinthe became legal she made her own absinthe recipe.  It was a fusion that began with gin as its base because “There’s an old saying that to drink gin is to sin.”  The gin was put in to help the drinker forget their day.  Val added whole rosemary and named it “the absinthe minded confusion fusion.”  The rosemary was to help the drinker remember the name of the drink since rosemary is supposed to help you to remember things.

DSCN6795This railing remembers a lot of things.  121 years worth of visitor’s names to be precise.

 

 

 

 

The Lady With The Hats

A box with twenty hats were left for me at the front desk the other day.

Kenneth at the front desk went through them all and had already selected his favorite.
Kenneth at the front desk went through them all and had already selected his favorite.

Miraculously, all of them fit my head. I would like to end this story here and imply that I have a secret admirer, but I know who gave me the hats. I was introduced to her in the Mason Street Grill recently. She wore a white hat. As one hat-wearing lady to another often will, I told her I thought her’s a stunning sculpture. Instantly, as if I had just told the queen fairy that she had a nice crown, she announced that she would gift me her many hats. “Please do,” I said but didn’t quite believe her, since people make those sorts of statements all the time and rarely follow through.

kathyk

Kathy meant it because she is moving and must simplify her hat collection…

 

DSCN7109
The beach, obviously.
DSCN7140
“Michael Howard 100% Wool Made in the U.S.A. Includes chin strap.
DSCN7138
Made in China. (The only one that says that.)
DSCN7131
Miss Bierner, Michael Howard 100% Wool Made in the U.S.A.
DSCN7130
This one was clearly never worn before as the plastic tag still hangs from it.
DSCN7129
Made in France, “Pure Laine.”
DSCN7122
Kenneth from the front desk’s favorite of the hats. Kathy says she never wore it.
DSCN7120
My mom models the Betmar, made in Italy.
DSCN7166
Kathy wore this hat with a gold bathing suit on her yearly excursions to Mexico.
DSCN7171
Chelsea Campbell, 100% Wool, Made in Italy.
DSCN7174
One of these things. Looks good on the bannister.
DSCN7116
Elegantly Yours Miriam Lefcourt, Handcrafted in Italy
DSCN7113
Betmar New York

DSCN7110  DSCN7123 DSCN7121 DSCN7115 DSCN7114 DSCN7173

 

Black hats are Kathy’s favorite kind of hat because they go with everything. The day she met me I was wearing my black and white hat and “It was a signal, whoa!” She knew she could entrust them to me, a terrific alternative to the thrift store.

The hats were bought on trips all over the world including, London, Paris and New York. They represent the past 25 years of Kathy’s adventures. Once, while in New York, she visited a boutique in Trump Tower and saw a s!n!a!z!z!y! black hat with a wide scalloped brim. The boutique owner informed Kathy that Ivana Trump recently bought that very same hat. “If it was good enough for Ivana Trump, then its good enough for me,” decided Kathy. She did not give me that hat. She also held onto “two felt hats with long pheasant feathers coming off of them.” She has never worn them before but now that her collection is smaller she plans to debut them this winter.

Gardeners all over Milwaukee know her as “The Lady With The Hats.” Kathy founded both the Milwaukee and South Milwaukee factions of the Federated Garden Club 24 years ago. Generally she wears a hat on when out because she is a short woman and “doesn’t want to get stepped on.” Though on weekends after she gets her hair done she prefers to go without a hat. When Kathy runs into a fellow gardener on the weekend, frequently they exclaim, “I thought you didn’t have any hair!” Of course they mean it as a joke because The Lady With The Hats has been known to occasionally attend meetings without one just to “treat them.”

Kathy steams her own hats to make sure that it is done right. They can lose their shape after visiting the dry cleaners. She also stocked up on hatpins the last time she was in London because “there’s no better place to buy hatpins.” She wears two pins on each side of her head and a few in the back too so that in case someone hugs her “the hat won’t roll down the street.”

Though she gave me half her collection she will soon be adding to it. Kathy told me. “Spring hats really take a beating, I tend to wear them all the time. It is time to order another one from London. I’d rather put the money into a hat than to go there.”

 

DSCN7147 DSCN7141

A Haircut, A Soft Man From The Spa, A War Zone

Before.
Before.
After
After

 

I got an asymmetrical haircut at the Pfister’s salon. Carrie, medical my stylist said she had a barn growing up. It was mostly empty, so she and her brother would perform plays inside. Carrie had “an asthmatic horse named Blaze.” I didn’t know they made asthmatic horses, but Carrie tells me that it is a much more serious condition in horses. Poor Blaze had to wear an inhaler every day. Carrie had two other animals: a dog that she loved and a grumpy goat named ‘Butthead’ that she did not like so well. I have never been to a salon before, buy viagra so I was astonished to sit in the electric massage chair and get my hair washed.

I stared into the wall tiled with iridescent shells.
I stared into the wall tiled with iridescent shells.

 

“I don’t mean to be morbid, purchase but that would be a good place to die,” says a man who just got a massage in the spa. The relaxed man says that he, his mother and his girlfriend run a foundation together dedicated to the care and preservation of all 15 varieties of cranes. At a fundraiser last year he got to meet the world’s most famous anthropologist Jane Goodall. She sat at his table and gave advice to his girlfriend on how to proceed with their other fledgling project, a new animal care center. Goodall urged them not to lose vision and to keep going since there is no other organization in Wisconsin that currently spays and neuters cats as effectively as they plan to.

 

The man continues his conversation with me for an hour. I learn a lot about him including how he recently retired from a Milwaukee business his family has continuously owned since 1858, how retirement allows him to help produce off Broadway plays in New York, of years ago when he studied third world history in college, and that he’s “a soft man who cries a lot at movies,” preferring to watch animated movies over the action genre. He also tells me secrets in an auditorium compatible volume.

 

Eventually the man leaves the premises and another guy comes up to me wearing no expression on his face, asking me a lot of questions. His initial questions seem ordinary having to do about my role at the hotel, but then they get nosier: “Who was that guy you were just talking with? He was very open with you.” Only two kinds of grown people ask the things he wants to know, and guessing he’s unlikely to be a detective, I inquire if he’s a journalist. “Yes, my name is Barry Petersen and I am a correspondent with CBS, just back from Gaza. It was the worst war zone I’ve ever seen, and that’s saying a lot.”

 

Barry introduces me to his wife who is wearing a newspaper… a jacket made of crinkly fabric printed with headlines. Very convincing. Barry tells me that in Gaza “They tried to kill us all.” Now there’s a ceasefire there and Barry is safe inside the Pfister, finishing a cheese and fruit platter and about to have some carrot cake. Barry tells his wife that he had a contest with me to see who could find out more about the other. I did not know we were having a contest, but Barry definitively won. “I have always said that journalists are not interesting people,” claims Barry. He gives me permission to put him in the blog if I read five of his Gaza stories. I read of fathers burying children, 600 people taking shelter in a school and boys aspiring to become suicide bombers to get revenge.