The Medici Family were bankers from Tuscany, Italy. Their initial family monies were made in the textile industry and they were influential in developing the double entry bookkeeping system. During the renaissance they owned Europe’s largest bank.
I’m sure their advances in bookkeeping are fascinating but that is not generally why the Medici name has survived throughout history. The Medicis were great patrons of the arts and sciences. Artists so highly regarded we don’t bother speaking their entire names; Masaccio, Donatello, Brunelleschi, da Vinci, and even Galileo.
The first time I saw a concert in Summerfest…
You work at a hotel. A man checks in to the hotel with arms in plaster casts sticking straight out from his body. Later in the day the man calls down to your desk and explains that he’s not certain how to get himself dressed for the day.
What do you do?
Concierge Roc tells the story of how he teamed up with Annie, the Pfister’s Head of Housekeeping, to satisfy the needs of a guest in a whimsically compromising situation. No matter the job at hand, they’re always glad to serve.
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…
The Pfister specializes in weddings. They seem to happen here every weekend, sometimes a few concurrently. Here’s a poem about something we’ve all seen at weddings: The Generations Dance. You know, the one where all the married couples get up and gradually leave as the number of years they’ve been married are ticked away by the announcer.
* If you’d like to hear a spoken recording of this poem, please scroll to the bottom to listen or download *
Without further ado…
After the bride and groom
their first as
man and wife…
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…
As I mentioned in an earlier blog post I was able to see Wild Institute founder Chris Heeter speak during UW-Milwaukee’s Women Leaders Conference. Chris’ speech struck a chord with me on many levels and I knew I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to document a few of her philosophies for the blog.
Assuming her canine companion would like some grass respite I suggested we walk four blocks to the Lake Michigan lakefront. While walking I did the best I could to record our conversation, not trip on Tuu Weh’s leash (Chris explains her name…
This is the one I’ve avoided writing. The elephant in my room. The profile I’ve put off for five months while I watched and listened quietly in the background, leaning against a column with my arms crossed wondering how it happens and how to write about it.
Every time I’ve listened to Dr. Jeffrey Hollander play the piano I’ve had a clear desire to write about him, to chronicle the man and his work. I’m a music fan but I’ve never been a musician. I can converse in a limited manner regarding jazz…
I said I’d move here
for two years-
no more than two years.
That was my limit.
suggested a promotion
but said I had to relocate.
I was so sure
I’d move right back
that I considered
sub-letting my apartment
instead of ending the lease.
My friends all joked
that I was moving to Milwaukee
to become a cowboy.
That was fourteen years ago.
Before moving here
I thought this place
was a small town
and couldn’t wait
to get back to the city.
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…
To my dismay I realized that the UW-Milwaukee Women Leaders Conference scheduled to take place at the Pfister Friday, March 30th was sold out. I’d hoped there was a possibility to watch from the perimeter and take in a little of the conference.
Thursday evening I was in the lobby lounge speaking with pianist Dr. Jeffrey Hollander regarding a Pfister blog I’ve been working on about the man. There was a woman seated at the table closest Jeffrey and the three of us talked for a bit. In conversation I asked if she was local or from…
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…
Do you remember 1964, what happened after blues and rock and roll exported across the Atlantic Ocean and came back from a stop in England? The Kinks, The Dave Clark Five, The Animals, Donovan, The Rolling Stones, and of course The Beatles. When those four lads arrived in the States there was pandemonium along every stop. Each airport was crowded with admirers. Imagine a limousine driver trying to wade through a sea of screaming high school girls. These four gentlemen had not a moment to themselves once they hit stateside. Countless young ladies tried anything just for a handshake, a…
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…
A friend once told me that when she moved to Portland, Oregon she had a difficult time finding a job. Portland has become a bit of a mecca for young liberal folks looking to live the relaxed western life. However the city is a famously difficult place to find employment. She encountered this problem, but only until she informed potential employers that she was from Milwaukee. “Oh, you’re from the Midwest?” One possible employer said during an interview, “We’ll figure out a position for you. No problem.” It seemed she had cracked the code.
I was reminded of…
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…
“Not that kind of guy”
I don’t normally do this.
this time of year
I’m in the office
until the sky is dark
walking to my car.
The glass of champagne
-well it was included.
Part of a gift certificate
my wife bought for me.
I just came up from downstairs,
they have a massage parlor.
It’s not my kind of thing
but I had to use it
or her feelings would be hurt
and we would have wasted
all that money.
Ok, here’s the plan. (Trumpets, please.)
24 hours. The whole family. Take on as much of the Pfister as we possibly can. Take pictures and let you share in the fun.
Wait…not just yet!
Shelby Keefe has been the Pfister’s resident artist since April 2011. As all great things eventually come to an end, her studio torch will be passed to Timothy Westbrook in April 2012. Shelby and I had been trying to get together and talk for a few weeks and it turned out to be a good thing we couldn’t meet until this past Monday. When I walked in to her studio Shelby was standing in front of a painting. She had her hands on her hips and kept shifting her weight from one foot to the other. Then she…
Years ago when I was fumbling through my way through working in computers. Our department traveled to sites across the country to perform computer installation and repair. When traveling most of our coworkers liked to eat at big restaurant chains, I gather the familiarity brought them comfort. Being 19, all this traveling was exciting (even if it was paired with 16 hour work days). But one of my coworkers liked to find out of the way restaurants unique to the location, and this quickly made him my favorite guy to travel alongside. While somewhere out East (Maryland possibly?) we stopped…
Last Monday January 28th an event was held at the historic Pabst Theater,which is just a stroll down the avenue from the Pfister and Intercontinental. The evening was titled Remarkable Milwaukee and gathered many of Milwaukee’s innovative business leaders, successful creative types, and championing envisionistas. The group relaxed on stage while seated on Victorian couches to discuss their visions for our city’s future over coffee and cocktails. The occasion was also a fundraiser for Historic Milwaukee, a non-profit whose goal is to both increase awareness of Milwaukee’s architecture and preserve our built environment.
This January’s gallery night tested the courage of every driver. The six finalists for the Pfister Hotel’s next Artist in Residence displayed their work in Gallery M at the Intercontinental. I braved the seven block walk from my Wisconsin Avenue home base and spent an evening taking in the feel of a different hotel in the Marcus family. Please help us by voting for our next resident artist on our Facebook Page. For anyone not on Facebook, you can enter your ballot in person at Gallery M, or email email@example.com with your selection. Below is what…
Our Milwaukee finally became the winter wonderland we’ve grown to love. Here’s a look at January from our home at 424 East Wisconsin Avenue. Also in honor of our resident artist Shelby Keefe’s Winter Snowball event.