Kevin Bacon Meets his Match

In three characters or less, can you connect yourself to the popular actor Kevin Bacon? How about if I give you six characters? Or, we can go back to the standard version of the game (that was actually made into a board game, by the way) and ask that you use six movie actors and their films to draw a line between Kevin Bacon and what ever actor whose name you draw.

The Pfister should design such a board game. They can give Mr. Bacon a run for his money as more than A Few Good Men have passed through these hallowed halls. I’ve met people in the hotel who have had life long experiences here—beginning as a child, they have had traditions built around pizza, the holidays, the lions (now available as stuffed souvenirs in the new gift shop), teas and brunches. I’ve met those couples who share a regular date at the hotel or who met there. Others are introduced to the space through work, and name badge still attached testify “oh, yeah, I’m glad they booked the program here! I’ve never been here before!”

But in conjunction with my plein air tribute to AIR Shelby Keefe, I have to say, my favorite “Six Degrees of Pfister’” comes when the six degrees unite Milwaukee, past and present, local and newbie, to the hotel from outside its walls.

 Recently, I’ve met a young woman who just moved here from out of town. I invited her to join me at a dinner for a group of the oldest women in town—oldest women’s group in town, that is. Since 1894, the AAUW Milwaukee Branch has been creating historic moments and hosting speakers.

As this Newaukeean met with those steeped in the city’s history, recommendations for where to go, who to meet and what to join flew. As testimony to her own efforts at building roots, the Newaukeean explained she had participated with another professional organization she’d joined in town…at an event at Blu, “at the Pfister Hotel, have you ever been there?”

I couldn’t help but smile. I shared my Narrator card. We talked about the beauty of an event that starts during daylight hours and extends into evening and what happens to you when you witness that from 23 stories above the city. There are no Tremors up there, but great stories about times when Joan Rivers and the gang got Footloose. I explained my role and all that I’d seen so far in my tenure—I warned her “Many who report to you on Milwaukee are Flatliners, but don’t believe them. Sit at the Pfister and watch how much we love our community and how many people continue to return to it time and time again.”

I realized it’s not my new city anymore, it’s hers.

The Pfister has been my Kevin Bacon. Either someone says to me “hey, have you ever stopped for a drink at the Pfister? We were just there, it was great” and I have to explain it’s my home. Or, I become the lever for someone else, “You work with the Pfister? I was just invited to an event there and I’ve never been!” It’s the perfect connector in the city and it’s never had a flop. I dare you to play the game—are you at least three degrees from the Pfister Hotel? What’s amazing is, whether or not you’ve realized it yet, you are.

All Dressed Up and Everywhere to Be

My best friend was in town on the weekend and we took her to Blu for free music. First, she snapped what could be an award-winning series of photos (her profession), then she let her mouth hang agape for awhile and finally she grinned and told me I had a really sweet gig (don’t I know it!)

She’s an incredible live music fan and was in town to see the Sarah McLachlin concert. I thought it’d add to the weekend to offer up free acoustic guitar 23 stories above the city.

On her various visits over the years, the goal has been to include her in as many signature Milwaukee events, dinners and journeys as possible—without repeating any. So far, I’ve been successful.

Our trip to the top of the Pfister tower was another victory. Ryan McIntyre was the musician and there was just something to the wide open, double door-width entry into the rooftop lounge that made it seem as though they were waiting for us. Though it was crowded, we stepped right into a table as others were vacating it. McIntyre was singing cover tunes and we both unwittingly became his backup singers as we got settled in.

The crowd was a fair mix of people, but many were dressed formally after having just wrapped up the AAA Awards banquet downstairs.

When I first took the job as Narrator, I was asked “how will you talk to people?” I said simply smiling and saying “hi” would do the trick and it’s true. I even used the example “I can talk to anyone, I even talk to people in elevators, even though it’s a norm violation for most.” Well, I’m not the only one.

Warmed a bit by whatever cocktails had been served there, we met a handful of couples in the elevator on our way up. The couples in the elevator approached us! Together they’d been joking and chatting and we walked in on it when we’d joined from the parking garage. Like it was their home, the six of them were very welcoming and as we joked about how they’d brought me flowers (one gentleman was carrying the table arrangement from the dinner), they all bid us a good evening as they jumped off at their respective floors.

That’s why it felt like we were old friends when they turned up at Blu for the music. Teased about having changed their mind about going to bed, one half of a couple—a stunning Lady in Red—quickly corrected me and said “Oh no, we weren’t going to bed…just getting ready to come out again!” The pair were from Ft. Atkinson but as honorees at the night’s banquet, in order to enjoy their stay in Milwaukee, they had also gotten a room at the hotel and were ready to stretch late into the night, and thanks to the Pfister, “all dressed up and nowhere to go” was put to shame.

As the pair chatted with me, it was clear they were in it for the music and I reminded them that the lobby bar included a great crowd and music as well. I have to note here, much later, when my group and I were walking out, parading my best friend see more of the hotel’s glorious details, I spotted the same pair bellied up to the lobby bar. I’d like to say I’m that much of a catalyst for people, but in reality, I think it’s the Pfister that manages its own persuasion.

What was the most thrilling was the vibe of the bar. People moved through and entered with extreme confidence. It felt more like a party than a bar. Rather than a tentative approach filled with “who might be here, who is watching me, is there room?” Blu seemed to be someone’s lovely cocktail party in their home that we’d luckily been invited to. It was a party—it was the hotel’s party. The singer made a point to welcome guests if they weren’t from Milwaukee and as I looked around, you could tell locals from visitors based on the smiles. When the singer welcomed people, it was as though all of us did, heads scanned the room and nodded.

Night life in the city is often reviewed and critiqued and the value of hotspots rotates regularly. The sense you feel in Blu on a Saturday night is that it’s always a hotspot, always evolving with its crowd, and everyone, always, is welcome. Maybe Ryan should write a song about that…

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.

Celebrity BLUtender: Andrew Wagner at OnMilwaukee.com

To celebrate Bar Month, OnMilwaukee.com‘s Andrew Wagner will step behind the bar at Blu this Wednesday, February 23, 2011 at 5:30 p.m. to sling drinks to raise money for the A-T Children’s Project.

Pit yourself against a friend or rival in a Celebrity BLUtender competition with a part of the proceeds going to a charity of the winners choice.

CELEBRITY BLUTENDER

WEDNESDAY NIGHTS IN BLU, 5:30 PM – 6:30 PM

To nominate a Celebrity BLUtender, give Adam Jones a shout at AdamJones@thePfisterHotel.com.

Postponing Monday

I read as much as I write. Books invade how I see the world and lately, sovaldi I’ve been reading authors who describe characters writing letters or the letters being read. I often join my literary world with my visceral world at the Pfister, each time I sit down, I feel as though I should pen a letter.

The setting is perfect for it, of course. I’ve told you before about the endless soft chairs and nooks and crannies. Yet, rx in my travels through the hotel, I’ve only met one woman so far who was writing in a journal or notepad. Blackberries and iPhones are the tablet of choice for those constructing sentences, but there is a romance in the halls of the hotel that people (and their pens) just aren’t taking advantage of.

If I were to pen a letter to my friend about tea this week, I’d have to start with descriptions of the hum. There were two beautiful women waiting for their party when we arrived and though they very clearly were chatting with each other, their softened tones created only a hum in the air. Surely the soft upholstery of the furnishings also absorbed whatever gossip they were sharing, but the peaceful quality of knowing they were fully engaging each other without forcing us to be a part of what they were saying was refreshing. I dare you to find that the next time you’re in the grocery store line behind someone arguing on a cell phone.

When the rest of the women’s party arrived, it was clear a family function had begun. More than eight women gathered and listened intently to the presentation of tea. This is my favorite part, all the history and story and recipe making of the teas themselves and it was clear one woman in the party was mesmerized. To say she was well dressed is not fitting. If I were to describe her, in this unwritten letter to some friend or sister far away, I’d have to say she embodied winter. A crisp ivory fur hat met its match at her dangling earrings that sparkled and made for perfect snowflakes. Her coat, bangles, rings and sweater were all ivory and full of softness and sparkle and she didn’t flinch—not a single muscle—as she listened to John describe her teas.

This calm fascination, respect, peacefulness is one of the best parts about the tea service. But it’s not the only one. As my friends and I caught up on our gossip over the comforting beverage, a threesome joined the event. They stood out in their dress, clearly not expecting high tea, but rather, a quick escape and cup of coffee. They laughed as they sat themselves in the seats next to us, but then slowly gauged what was going on around them. Asking for coffee, they were told tea was the menu for the afternoon and they chose to stay.

That decision came after the woman in the group turned slowly and eyed our array of delicacies. Though we were willing to describe them to her, she never asked and we couldn’t bear to interrupt because she visually consumed each treat on the elaborate tray one by one and mirrored the same fascination our lady Winter displayed only 30 minutes before.

It’s these simplicities that the Pfister cultivates, but more should recognize. It’s the craft of penning an elegant letter and the slow, careful strokes of neat handwriting. It’s the artful description of leaves in a jar and careful arrangement of snacks on a tray. Simply admiring these elements slows you down, gives you the pause life often begs you to take.

Sure, there’s call for a snow day in Milwaukee. Many are thankful for the “free pass” from work or life events. It’s a mid-week postponement of everything. But each time I take friends to tea at the Pfister and share the event with others who understand, I get to postpone my Monday at my choosing, not Mother Nature’s.

Friday Night Fever

I laugh at the character Charlotte on Sex in the City, here the popular HBO television series. When she’s single, she grows frustrated when she doesn’t have plans on Saturday night. “But it’s date night!” she wails when others suggest things for her to do.

I don’t think date night is solely Saturday night in Milwaukee. Friday night in the Pfister is full of roaming young men, cialis sale wrapped in cashmere scarves and the latest fashions and the slight hint of a few beers warming them to the evening. As the night grows late, a certain drive seems to ignite within them as they hunt for the dates they originally set out to find.

When a friend and I tumbled out of the elevator from the parking garage, prostate we were met by Shay and his entourage. Three mid-20s men, handsomely dressed and alight with energy at the late hour, they had already had drinks in the lobby bar and were headed upstairs to Blu to meet with friends for more. Two women arriving together without any male chaperones lit up the men and we were smothered in attention. Where had we been, where were we going and please join us at Blu was the conversation theme and it made me smile to remember girls’ nights out that are fueled with the same contagious energy.

We felt like we were watching a coming-of-age story when two of the crew cheered on a third as he said he was headed back to Mason Street Grill “talk to that girl again, see if she’s still there.” The hope in his eyes and his friends’ encouraging grins, made slightly raunchy by drink, made us smile.

While we watched so many others crawl into the wee hours together in the lobby bar, conversations stumbling across the bar top and lobby tables, we saw endless streams of young men who could have each been Shay and his posse. All dressed in the latest fashions, braving the scene without coats, hair gelled to perfection and walking as if auditioning for Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs, packs of young men on the prowl moved through the lobby into the frigid streets.

They weren’t intimidating nor drunk; they seemed, from our vantage point, sleepily ending our evening in girl talk, emboldened and electrified. In some ways, we were flattered and wooed, even though the men weren’t there for us. We happily bore witness to the energy they put in their evening and the John Travolta hitch in their steps. Realizing it was all part of the performance they put together to help them make Friday night date night, to help them capture the attentions and affections of the women they’d meet, we couldn’t help but smile encouragingly and, just as Shay and his friend did, wish them all good luck out there.

Everyday Celebrations

One of my favorite things to do is toast and clink glasses. A simple “cheers” makes every gathering with friends feel like a celebration.

During a time when finances are tight and jobs may be scarce, look celebrating seems harder to come by, which is why I get excited when I see others reveling in simple traditions or routines.

This weekend, college degrees were awarded all across the city. At the Pfister, one law school graduate and her family (a group of 14 in all) gathered in the lobby bar in twos and threes and when all were present and the honoree had arrived, diagnosis glasses were raised (and a baby bottle too, if I recall) and a rousing “Here’s to Kate” echoed throughout the holiday décor.

Who couldn’t help but cheer her on? The room turned and smiled, all of us proud at both the accomplishment and the spirit of the family celebrating this achievement. Next to me, Sophie, Grace and their mother and grandmother were also celebrating…just being together.

The ladies have a holiday tradition of coming to the Pfister after seeing a show at First Stage Children’s Theater. After one of their first visits, Grace, awestruck in the grand foyer of the hotel, mentioned to her mother, “We should come here more often.”

The celebration is this: The girls go out to the theater, leaving a little brother at home, and then come to the Pfister to be fancy and elegant while eating a delicious cheese pizza at their regular table (sadly occupied on this day) in the lobby. Their mother let me know that the tradition was extending this year to taking the girls to tea on the day after the holiday. Both Sophie and Grace nodded energetically at the prospect of tea after my long-winded description of how fantastic the experience was for me and my girlfriends just a few weeks ago.

What I admired about the girls was the ease with which they made the day a celebration. They were simply happy to be there, happy to be a part of something they remember from last year, and happy to chatter on about what they’ve been learning in school, how they liked the play and, to quote the oldest daughter, recognize that “this pizza is intimidating!” (It was beautiful in its cheesiness, I must confess).

The group stayed long after the food was gone, took many a picture near the holiday tree and perused the art collection.

My celebration was the opportunity to sit with Kate on my left, a newly minted law degree awaiting her and Sophie and Grace on my right, reciting an amazing array of facts about the Statue of Liberty that they learned in their elementary schools, perhaps on their way to a degree in a few years as well. Sophie proclaimed with joy, while getting her coat, “Wow, we’ve been out all day long! It was morning when we left!” It’s that spirit of making every moment an adventure that I hope people bring to each clink of their glass when they mutter “cheers!”

Celebrity BLUtender – ESPN Milwaukee Broad Side Battle – Trenni Kusnierek & Jen Lada

ESPN Milwaukee radio personality Trenni Kusnierek and Fox 6’s Jen Lada step behind the bar at Blu to slinging drinks to raise money for the Hunger Task Force.

Watch for more Celebrity BLUtender Battles coming soon!

Pit yourself against a friend or rival in a Celebrity BLUtender competition with a part of the proceeds going to a charity of the winners choice.

CELEBRITY BLUTENDER

WEDNESDAY NIGHTS IN BLU, 5PM – 6PM

To nominate a Celebrity BLUtender, give Adam Jones a shout at AdamJones@thePfisterHotel.com.

Seating for One

There are so many corners to lose yourself in at the Pfister Hotel. Just when I think I’ve found the perfect nook, doctor I realize, there’s already a soft chair or couch there waiting for me—a clear demonstration that the staff at the Pfister know that cozy corners are a commodity.

The thing is, as part of my role, I am often at the Pfister alone. Many women may tell you they rarely go out alone. Maybe we go shopping, generic where it’s expected, or to a movie, where once the lights are down, it’s harder for people to see that you’re alone.

Male friends have laughed when I have said I wouldn’t stop in a bar for a drink alone. Women friends simply nod knowingly. So when at the Pfister, occasionally it’s nice to slide into a comfy cushion in an obscure corner and simply take in my surroundings.

I hope I don’t betray an entire group of people here, but occasionally, women deploy little tricks to ensure that they don’t get bothered, hit on or intruded upon when they’re cultivating their solitude in a glass of red wine at a bar.

First, I must recognize (and applaud) those who bravely venture out to fulfill their own relaxation or winding down techniques, whether friends have agreed to join them or not. And second, I need to let you know it happens far more often than you think.

I sat down in the lobby bar next to a couple who easily engaged me and we had a great time together. One of the stories the gentleman wanted to share was of the young woman who had warmed my chair not thirty minutes prior. The man said he’d offered her a drink and she said, clutching her wine, “No, I’m waiting for someone, thank you.”

After the wine was gone, the woman left. The gentleman’s wife returned and he said, as she sat, “Huh, poor girl, her friend stood her up.” The wife questioned his details and laughed. “Oh, she didn’t have a friend coming.”

Confused, the husband was then schooled (and then again by me after his retelling of the event) in woman-alone-at-the-bar logic. We tell lies like that to make ourselves feel comfortable, to ward off unwelcome advances and to feel socially secure in our aloneness.

Since that lesson, I’ve paid special attention to all the single ladies in the house at the Pfister and I must say—there are a great many of us. Just the other night, during those immediate post-work hours at Blu, I spotted a woman enjoying a glass of wine and clearly winding down. Oblivious to those around her, she faced her chair outward toward the city and calmly enjoyed her surroundings. There were a number of men seated alone as well, perhaps parts of conferences or folks traveling for work, but not a one of them approached her or disrupted her serenity. It could have been because most of them had their chairs facing the skyline as well and as the sun set  it was a pretty irresistible view, easily one that no pick-up line could compete with.

So I continue to applaud the brave women who, by whatever means necessary, whether it’s an amazing view, stellar confidence or a little white lie, secure for themselves a cozy nook to enjoy some time to themselves. I may notice you when I’m there, but I promise, I will not disturb.

Celebrity BLUtender – Jason Wilde [VIDEO]

GreenBay Packer beat writer and ESPN 540 radio personality Jason Wilde stepped behind the bar at Blu to become our inaugural Celebrity BLUtender. After a quick training, from BLU manager Adam Jones, Jason was turned loose to sling drinks to the crowd at BLU and took to it like a pro. His hard work and efforts behind the bar helped raise money for the MACC Fund.

Now it’s your turn. Nominate, delegate or simply embarrass your coworkers, boss, birthday girl–or anyone for that matter–to be a Celebrity BLUtender!

They’ll jump behind the bar for a quick tutorial in the fine art of bartending. Then watch as they display their skills and serve drinks for you and your friends for the next hour.

But the Celebrity BLUtender will not go home empty handed. To reward their hard work and effort, each Celebrity BLUtender will receive $25 bar tab and a plaque to commemorate the experience!

CELEBRITY BLUTENDER

WEDNESDAY NIGHTS IN BLU, 5PM – 6PM

To Nominate a Celebrity BLUtender, contact Adam Jones at AdamJones@thePfisterHotel.com.