She Pauses To Nibble On Her Pickle

“You have to travel with people who want to explore

otherwise everything is constructed, pills

warns Louise.

She pauses to nibble on her pickle,

and contemplate those frequent trips

she has made to visit her family in Barbados.

The last time she went down there with non-explorers

they whined every time they left the hotel, find

“Can’t we just take a cab?”

The non-explorers carefully followed their itinerary,

rushing through the locations of designated interest

and afterwards they would state,

“We’re done now. Can we go back to the hotel?”

Louise was appalled,

“American people traveling,

they don’t get it.”

She prefers to take it slow,

by walking or bicycling,

discovering the unknown island.

When she returned to Milwaukee she felt,

“I had to take another vacation.”

Just to counteract the energy she expended

on frustration with her boring companions.

“It costs too much to go to Barbados to sit in the hotel room!”

But I think she feels the same way about life in her own city,

having lived in Detroit, Chicago and Milwaukee,

she tells me with confidence that she has never seen a city

more segregated than Milwaukee.

“You can’t just stay in that little neighborhood you live in.”

She talks boxes

she talks fears and safety

that make the boxes

that we call our neighborhoods.

She believes that the east side of Milwaukee is the most diverse

but even then it is all young people,

not old.

“And brown-skinned people are less likely to be seen

walking along the lakefront,”

where Louise bikes on a regular basis

amongst countless light-skinned people

who do not notice the lack.

“I think people as they move around the city

they need to open their hearts and minds.”

She tells me the best way to expose yourself

to variety in Milwaukee

is to attend gallery night

and Summerfest.

“Here in America it’s like,

what race are you?

You can’t just claim one,

I always check the box that says ‘other,’

and write ‘black-Indian-Island-Scottish-French.

Nobody’s white, you’re light skinned.”

Louise pats the marble under her plate,

“I’m not black, this table is black,

I am brown.

But we just need to get past it,

we won’t in this lifetime

but I go to Barbados and Trinidad a lot

and they don’t talk that way there.”

She waves her French fry in the air,

advising,

“Go somewhere and get lost,

just walk and explore.”

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I take her advice.

 

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Louise.

 

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.

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The striped shorts!
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The suits!
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The exquisite chair!
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The authentic Italian army nesting cases!
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The books!
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The wooden beaver!
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The “HONOURS” board!

 

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.