The Crumbs of My Shame

I just made a complete fool out of myself for the gazing eyes of the Pfister public, prostate and boy was it tasty.

Call it hubris, call it horrifying, call it so astonishing that you have to shake your head in my general direction. However you slice it, I’m relieved that I have worked through the inevitable so early during my time at the Pfister.

I didn’t split my pants or forget to zip my fly. No wardrobe malfunctions for me; nothing of that ilk. Instead, with no regard for my waistline, I consumed more bar snacks in the Pfister Lobby Lounge and at Blu than any self-respecting middle aged man should ever shove in his mouth.

I love lounging in bars, even though I’m a teetotaler. Though I don’t toss back drinks as I lounge, tadalafil I can eat bar snacks with the best of ‘em. I may be a little late to the party on this one, but, man, oh, man, there are some truly irresistible bar snacks lurking around the Pfister.

At the end of a busy day, I siddled up to a seat at the Lobby Lounge bar and, Mr. Excitement that I am, ordered a glass of ice water. I felt great as I sipped away at my cold and refreshing drink. There is nothing better at the end of the day than a nice crisp, clear, clean glass of water.

I’m lying, of course. Water is kind of boring. But it’s so good for me, and a man of my advancing years and baldness really must think about not drinking a 14th cup of coffee at the end of the day. Water is safe. No one has ever gotten into a bar fight because of overdoing it on H20.

Feeling like the model of health with my tasteless beverage, cialis I noticed a gentleman who took a place a few seats away from me and ordered two cocktails, one for himself and the other one for…well, for himself. Looking at the poor fella, it was clear to me that he had had a heck of a day. He was clearly in for the night and certainly seemed to be the perfect candidate to enjoy a couple of expertly mixed drinks before retiring to the comfort of his room.

I had chatted a bit with the bartender Katrina as I sat down, and with her great personality, warm heart and smile, she confirmed that everyone who works to serve the Pfister’s guests is delightful and charming. As the two-drink guy down the bar started to chat her up in a pretty friendly way, I was impressed with how she was able to redirect his cute come-ons into a fun conversation. It made the atmosphere at the bar even merrier than it naturally is on any given day.

It was a happy time, and my joy ramped up when I glanced down at the bar and saw for the first time the Holy Trinity of bar snacks in front of me. Triple snack choices were there before me in a silver container separated into three distinct bowls. In one, there was an assortment of crackers, in another, some sweet and salty nuts, and in the final, a mix of rice crackers, smoked almonds, wasabi peas, dried cranberries and other miracle bits so delicious that I almost faint thinking about them.

I reached into the bowl and grabbed out a tiny bit of the nuts. “Oh, my goodness,” I thought. “This is phenomenal.” My hand shot into the other bowls. Rapture. Bliss. It was heaven.

Something happens to me when I encounter a delicious snack. The rest of the world fades away. This is precisely what occured as I got cozy with the Pfister’s bar snacks for the very first time. There, in full view of the public, I showed myself for what I really am—a snack addict of the highest degree.

Mind you, I was sitting next to a man who had just ordered two drinks, seemed beaten down by the day, and was making goo goo eyes at the bartender. A stranger coming upon this scene might have thought, “Oh, poor guy…that’s a little sad.” But, no…this guy had pulled it together. He was suave, in control, not abusing alcohol, but slowly savoring his drinks while having a delightful chat with our bartender. I, on the other hand, was scarfing snacks like a dog and dropping crumbs all over my suit.

As I rapidly emptied the snack bowl, I sensed that the gentleman down the bar was looking at me. It was the sort of look you give a kid who has been given permission to eat all of his or her Halloween candy in one sitting. His eyes said, “Oh, little boy, how sweet that you can fit all of that into your mouth. Good luck to your poor tummy!”

I knew it was time to move on, so I gathered up the pen and notebook I had been writing in while I hypnotically ate all the bar snacks before me. I had to get away, and I was silently grateful that the man next to me seemed concerned that I might start eating my water glass. Crisis averted.

Now when you find yourself unable to stop eating all the delicious bar snacks in the lobby bar at the Pfister but don’t yet want to leave the Pfister, what’s the best thing for your no-will-power self to do? Why go to the Pfister’s other bar, Blu, for a Blutender Celebrity Bartender event where the tips support the United Performing Arts Fund.

I entered Blu and noted that a mime was serving drinks.

Someone to tell your troubles to over a drink who will never talk back.
Someone to tell your troubles to over a drink who will never talk back.

Try as I might, I couldn’t get him to speak. I tipped him a few bucks for his steel jawed silence, but I also gave his competitor, a stocky guy wearing a tutu, a few sheckles for style points.

I then settled in to enjoy the view and another glorious glass of locally sourced Great Lakes tap water. My smiling waitress swiftly and promptly brought me a tall glass of water and made me feel like I had just ordered a bottle of the finest French Champagne. She leaned in with a smile as she served me, and as she pulled back, I noticed that along with the glass of water, she had left me another surprise.  A fresh bowl of snacks.

Reflecting back on the moment, I realize now that the smart thing to do would have been to focus all my attention on the mime bartender, the mixologist in the tutu, the gorgeous view from the windows at Blu, or Greg Marcus who was taking a turn at the piano (who, by the way, has some real swinging chops). But the first step towards recognizing you have a problem is to admit that you finished another bowl of snacks in the Blu bar and then said, “Yes, please!” when your bright and attentive waitress offered you what turned out to be your third bowl of snacking delights.

The third bowl just about to be killed.
The third bowl just about to be killed.

My salty fingers and crumb-flecked mouth caught the eyes of the folks enjoying their tony cocktails as they basked in the glorious sun streaked early evening. It wasn’t my worst moment, but I pray that anyone who caught me doing damage to those snacks didn’t think that I was training for a professional eating competition.

This is all to say that the problem is mine, and I own it fully but will lick it somehow. For the rest of you enjoying the Pfister…dig in. Your belly will be glad you did.

Words in Blu

An artist, a summer camp director, a theatre operations manager, a board member, and two poets walk into a bar.  There is no punchline, this is something that happened a few weeks ago.

“Hello sir,” the bartender greets them as they arrive, setting a napkin on the bar, “what can I get you to drink?  Do you need to see a menu?”

The menu is taken by all, perused slowly – considering all the flavorful options.  The bartender offers to “whip something up on the spot, we’ll just charge you by the ounce.”  Tonight, charging by the ounce would go a long way.  It’s just after 5:30 in the evening and happy hour is luring this mismatched group to Blu with the added incentive that every drink made drops a donation into the coffers of a local nonprofit.  A semi-regular occurrence on the 32rd floor of the Pfister, one haphazard temporary bartender (sometimes two) takes up the shaker and taps behind the bar, with the over-the-shoulder support of manager Adam Jones, with a portion of each drink and all tips benefiting a nonprofit or charity.  This, ladies and gentlemen, is Celebrity Blutending.

The night’s organization benefiting from each cocktail and pint of beer is Woodland Pattern Book Center.  Tonight’s guest bartender?  Yours truly, the Pfister Narrator.

I admit to being nervous about my one hour “bartending,” though I always fancied myself a natural since multi-tasking and being good with people are two of my strengths.  Once I finally stood surveying the bottles and glasses, while Adam gestured and pointed out the basics, I realized I had no idea what I was doing.  Lucky for me, the first drink, a gin & tonic, is easy, followed by a couple of draft beers (trickier than expected), requiring more finesse.  Eventually, a board member requests a Celia’s Rosedrop Martini.

“My favorite!” I gush to her, while I try to figure out what in the world “rose essence” looks like and where it would be stored.  It’s a good thing Adam is there to pass me the opaque ketchup-mustard-bottle filled with a pale pink liquid.  Measuring the ingredients, shaking the tiny metallic cylinder, pouring it to the brim – it’s all much smoother than I expect.  Adam had told me earlier the key was to slow down, and I found it to be perfect advice.  I could chat, hesitate and even make a mistake (“you only get one do-over!” Adam jokes) without worrying too much.

Right after I convince two gentlemen it’s okay (“kind of awesome”) to wear matching hats and order the same drink (two Hendricks gin & tonics), I meet the person I’m most excited to see at this event: Jenny Henry, Woodland Pattern’s education coordinator.  She moved to Milwaukee for this job just over a year ago from Boulder, CO, excited to expand on the book center’s mission to promote reading and writing, and offer a community resource for writers and artists in the Riverwest neighborhood.

We talk about the work she does particularly with a program titled The Urban Youth Literary Arts Program, which focuses on enriching the reading and writing lives of kids in neighborhoods near the Riverwest one where Woodland Pattern is located.  They offer poetry camps, creative writing excursions, and tutoring for students, with the goal of not only improving basic skills, but also encouraging kids to think outside the box, express themselves clearly and creatively, and perhaps find a new love of reading.

“It always challenges my thinking, how to frame things in ways they’ll understand, and then I get to rearrange my own ways of working with words,” Jenny says about directing the program.  She fills me in on some of their upcoming programming which includes a workshop on inter-generational writing, poetry, comic books and claymation and nature.

The results are telling: Students involved in the most recent academic year of the program improved their communication skills (written and verbal) and critical thinking skills by 86-92%, with similar numbers gaining confidence in public speaking, learning how to respect others’ ideas with an open mind, and finding positive role models through the program.

A recent documentary, Louder than a Bomb, follows several groups of students from the Chicago Public Schools as they write, perform, and compete in poetry slam events.  It clearly illustrated the incredibly positive impact this sort of work has on kids, especially those who might be leading difficult lives, and was the inspiration for my choosing Woodland Pattern’s program as a recipient for the evening’s funds raised.

“How was your drink?” I ask a guest who had a VO & 7, “can I get you another?”

“It was great,” he replies, “but I’ll just have a beer.”

I manage to manipulate the tap without making too much of a mess.  He pays Adam, and throws the change into the large decorative tip can.  The sound of bills swishing and coins jangling as they land, is a reminder that each drop fills the glasses of kids who are eager to find ways to write about their own experiences in the world.  Who knows, maybe one of them is a future poet, artist, camp director, or Pfister Narrator?

Anatomy of Giving

        My after work cocktail turned instantly into a lesson in event coordinating and I learned there’s no better school than the prep hour before a celebrity Blu-Tender event at the Pfister’s Blu. 

        I arrived very early and witnessed an incredible transformation. See, find I’m a part of many charity and fundraising events myself. I’ve been on the “Who has the nametags?” end of things, the “We need a 9-volt battery, stat” side of the event and the “What do you mean our host/guest of honor/celebrity’s flight didn’t come in?” fringe of fiasco. Now, here I was, witnessing the breakdown and build up of an event like a fly on the wall, ailment or maybe more like a monkey on the wall because I think my grinning and darting glances around the room at all the players and organizers weren’t too subtle.
        The ladies at the bar weren’t there for the autism event, they were simply sharing an after-work drink (and cholesterol numbers and worries, which I thought was perfectly acceptable as they sipped their red wine). The couple in the corner was enjoying the view and had bypassed the first few steps of having drink at Blu* and were easily engaging each other. The white-haired man in the pair talks with his hands and the story moves from wiggling fingers to double-handed expansive gestures which then incorporate his shoulders and he finishes with a head bob and a smile, purchase dancing through one fantastic tale of gardening. He moves on to the next topic, one hand paralyzed by the drink he holds, he executes the details with an overactive pointer finger. They are not there for the evening’s event. 

            The next couple that walks in is. And the next, and the next. The gorgeous pair in crisp summertime looks, egging on our warm weather and full of wishful thinking, sneaks in the back and the woman, tugging at the man, strides into the middle and looks cautiously around, asking “where are people?” and immediately answers her question with an outstretched arm and a dragged-along husband as she crosses the bar to the others who are now pouring in the main entrance to the bar. 
             There’s a singer. You’ll know her by her sparkle. Big jeweled, glittery studs adorn her cardigan and though she spends most of her prep time worrying about her three microphones, her voice, unamplified, booms through the room as she works the early crowd with jokes and pushes them to start drinking and donating. She’s a natural, and she’s not just ready to make a great evening, she’s clearly in it to fundraise. She’s got plans with the bartenders, the charity staff and more. She doesn’t just sing; she strikes a perfect chord with donors. 
            Men with pins start arriving with their wives. Lion’s Club, Rotary, American Legion and the blue autism support ribbon pin. Suit jackets and loafers and big grins and handshakes that come with pats on the back for free—the crowd is arriving. A battery for the microphone is found, the wireless mic is on the ready and the singer is threatening folks with it—order a drink (proceeds to charity) or she’ll be over to your table to incorporate you in her act. It’s ten minutes after the start time for the event and the population of the room has tripled. Ten minutes later, it’s a party. The bar top is full, literature on the cause is everywhere, organizers have passed out nametags and the bartending talent has arrived. This is the moment I love the most when it’s an event I’m organizing. It’s that moment where I step back and sigh and start having fun, that moment where it’s all worth it.
            I’m sure it will be worth it, too. The faces and eagerness of attendees were bright and ready. The cause was one everyone was ready to champion. The music, the drinks, the scene…all perfect. And just as I left them to their charitable partying, the sun made ready to set. 

*it should be mentioned, all people who come into Blu perform similarly. Step 1: take a seat at the windows; Step 2: watch out the windows to the point of nearly fully ignoring your compatriots because the view is so amazing (but that’s ok, they’re ignoring you for the same reason) and Step 3: after the scenic sensory overload hits, then begin relaxing and enjoying your company.

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.

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.

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.

Celebrity BLUtender: Put their skills to the test

Nominate, capsule delegate or simply embarrass your coworker, boss, birthday girl or anyone for that matter to be a Celebrity BLUtender! Have them jump behind the bar where Blu Manager Adam Jones will give them a 10-minute tutorial on bartending. Then watch as they display their skills and serve drinks for you and your friends for the next hour. The Celebrity BLUtender will receive a $25 bar tab for a future visit and a plaque to take home! Take advantage of Beat the Clock happy hour pricing on select drinks.

On December 7th, treatment Jason Wilde of ESPN is the celebrity BLUtender. 10 percent of proceeds from the drinks that Jason slings will go to the MACC Fund.

Jason Wilde from ESPN

Come show your support for a great cause and a great time.

To be a celebrity BLUtender contact Adam Jones at AdamJones@thePfisterHotel.com or call (414) 298-3196.