Water is a necessity for life and, in Wisconsin, we are lucky enough to be next to one of the greatest sources of fresh water on the planet. Aside from paying for facilities and filtration, if you are on city water, the water in our state has always been free, but this is not something we should take for granted.
Two new Bills, Assembly Bill 554 and Senate Bill 432, have been rapidly making their way through our State Legislature. The Assembly Bill has already passed, and the passing of the Senate Bill could lead to the privatization of our water. If you've been paying attention to the news lately, you may have seen how well that worked out for the citizens of Flint, Michigan.
The Midwest Environmental Advocates, a nonprofit environmental law center that works for healthy water, air, land and government, says, "This legislative proposal takes away the rights of a community to be fully informed about the sale of their public drinking water supply to a profit-making corporation until it is practically too late to be heard."
Keeping water clean, safe and public is something that we can all get behind, and we need to get behind this. Thankfully, the Milwaukee Riverkeeper has made it very easy to let your officials know that you don't want this Bill. Click here to go to their site and make your voice heard!
This past Monday was the birthday of the well known Scottish poet, Robert Burns, which was a fitting time for the Milwaukee Repertory Theater to bring back the well-loved classic, Of Mice and Men, because the title was inspired by a line from Burns' poem, To a Mouse:
The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry
One of the most celebrated works in American Literature, John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men is a tale of true friendship, hardship and the American Dream. Written in 1937, in the depths of the Great Depression, it is a first hand look at what life was like for migrant workers in California. I say "first hand" because Steinbeck, himself, worked as a "bindlestiff" in the very same county in California that the book takes place.
Though it is required reading for most American highschoolers, many don't realize that the book is almost autobiographical. In fact, Lenny, the mentally-challenged friend of George, was a real person, who really did commit a murder (though it was not a woman, and not so much of an accident), and spent the rest of his life in an asylum in California. The brutality and tragic nature of the story often leaves a bad impression on young readers; however, whatever your impression of the story was, seeing it -- as opposed to reading it -- will set you straight.
Directed by Mark Clements, whose previous production of the play in Philadelphia won 8 Barrymore Awards (including one for Best Production), Of Mice and Men features some of Milwaukee's favorite actors. Jonathan Wainwright, seen most recently as Bob Cratchit in A Christmas Carol, is George, while Scott Greer makes a remarkable Milwaukee debut as Lennie, the role he played in the Philadelphia production. Milwaukee's own, James Pickering and Jonathan Gillard Daly are excellent as Candy and the Boss, respectively. Rep regular, Kelley Faulkner, plays Curley's wife, with Bernard Balbot as Curley. Chike Johnson, who was Jacob Marley in A Christmas Carol, is fantastic as Crooks. New to The Rep are James D. Farruggio, as Slim, Sean Patrick Fawcett, as Carlson, and Riley O'Toole, as Whit.
Of Mice and Men is a story that was born to be a play; The Rep's production will bring to light Steinbeck's intent: "If you understand each other, you will be kind to each other."
Of Mice and Men runs now through February 21st at the Quadracci Powerhouse Theater, 108 E Wells Street, Milwaukee. Tickets can be purchased online at www.milwaukeerep.com, or by calling the Ticket Office at 414-224-9490
The Friday Fish Fry is a Wisconsin tradition but, historically, it is a Roman Catholic invention. Friday, because of Good Friday; Fish, because it is a time of sacrifice, so no meat; and Fry, because...well, because fried food is yummy, and it's easy to make a lot all at once!
Though there are plenty of local restaurants that serve up a good Friday Fish Fry, during this season, many of the area churches will be getting in on the action, and everyone in the community is invited.
St. Mary's Church opens their doors in the St. Mary's School cafeteria at 446 N. Johnson St. in Port Washington on Friday, January 29th, from 4:30-7:30. They offer beer battered haddock, shrimp or baked poor man's lobster for $11 for adults and $5/child. In a hurry? They even have a drive-thru option - just call ahead at (262) 284-2441. Should you choose to dine in, there are plenty of options for the non-fish lovers in your life, including a salad bar, baked potato, cheese pizza, and macaroni and cheese for just $5/adult and $3/child.
Port Catholic will host the remainder of the Fish Fry dates at the same location: February 19th, March 4th and March 18th.
Divine Savior Catholic School in Fredonia also hosts a Friday Fish Fry beginning January 29th from 4:30-8 p.m. at the Divine Savior Catholic School at 305 Fredonia Ave. Adults are $11, Seniors $10 and $6 for children. Carry out is available by calling (262) 692-2141, and includes 5 pieces of fish, potatoes, coleslaw and rye bread. Homemade desserts, coffee, and milk are available to those eating in. The remaining Fish Fry dates are: February 12th and 26th, and March 11th and 18th.
St. Joseph, 1619 Washington Street in Grafton, has their Fish Fry February 12th, 19th and 26th, and March 4th and 11th from 4:30-7:45. Traditional potato pancakes are served, and the public is welcome to dine in or carry out. A 3 piece baked Icelandic cod or beer battered cod is $10, or a 4 piece fried lake perch or 6 piece jumbo fried shrimp is available for $11. A 2 piece fried walleye is available for $12. Kids meals are available for $5, and all meals include cole slaw, potatoes, rye bread and butter, as well as coffee, milk, and desserts (while they last).
Port Washington resident, James Meyer, has been taking award-winning photographs of Ozaukee County and beyond for several years. You may have seen his work on local Milwaukee weather channels, or in several local publications, including this one. He has recently been chosen to be an MPTV featured artist for the 2016 Channel 10 Great TV Auction Poster Collection - an honor that will bring his work to the national stage.
The Auction, which premiered in 1969, is used as a fundraiser for Milwaukee Public Television. Participation gives local businesses, artists, and organizations the chance for major television exposure, as donations of gift certificates and products are auctioned off to raise money for programming and technology for MPTV.
"MPTV will be showing video segments during the auction every time my prints are being offered, as well as on MPTV.org, and MPTV social channels," Meyer said.
The auction begins on April 29th, and Meyer will be filming video shoots next month for the event.
This Saturday, January 23rd, MPTV will host an Indoor Winter Farmers Market at their studio (12560 W Townsend St., Brookfield, WI 53005) from 9-1, which is another fundraiser for MPTV.
Meyer, who can often be found at the Port Washington lakefront at sunrise, in search of the perfect shot, had this to say about his adventure with MPTV: "This is a tremendous opportunity that I’m grateful for. To me, photography isn’t taking a picture, it’s capturing a moment to treasure. It’s creating a pathway to a memory. It’s realizing the future will come. Capturing images of the now shape how you’ll see all that you love today… tomorrow."
You can see more of Meyer's work at: http://jamesmeyerphoto.com, as well as some of his recent photos below.
January has been a rough month, thus far. The weather, of course, has been less than stellar, but the worst part has been losing so many important people. First, David Bowie on January 10th; then, Alan Rickman, famous for playing Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films, as well as other characters, just four days later. The very next day, we lost Dan Haggerty, who played Grizzly Adams in the well-loved TV series by the same name. On the 18th, Eagles guitarist and co-founder, Glenn Frey, passed away.
We don't cry because we knew them, we cry because they helped us know ourselves.
While none of these actors and musicians have a direct tie to Ozaukee County (or even to Wisconsin, for that matter), it's impossible to ignore the effect their loss has had. Bowie, in particular, is the cause of the creation of at least two local events.
On Friday, January 22nd at 6 p.m., the WJ Niederkorn Library in Port Washington will celebrate the life of David Bowie by screening Labyrinth, the 1986 fantasy film by Jim Henson that featured Bowie as the Goblin King, Jareth, as well as The Man Who Fell to Earth, the 1976 Fantasy/Drama starring Bowie as an alien looking to use the Earth's water to save his home planet.
The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra has just announced a special concert, The Music of David Bowie, on December 10th, 2016, at the Riverside Theater in Milwaukee. Tickets go on sale Friday, January 22nd, in what is sure to be a popular concert.
The concert listing says, "The genius of David Bowie’s innovative range of musical styles influenced multiple generations of groundbreaking music. Now, hear his iconic music performed as never before by the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, featuring Guest Conductor Brent Havens and a full rock band!"
Though I wasn't a huge fan of David Bowie's music, it was part of the background music of my life and, being an 80's kid, the movie Labyrinth was an important part of my childhood. For some, it is difficult to understand how a person could be upset by the loss of an artist they never personally knew. A Twitter user, @ElusiveJ, summed it up perfectly: "We don't cry because we knew them, we cry because they helped us know ourselves." I couldn't have possibly said it any better.
On Friday, January 15th, First Stage Theater will open one of their most popular plays, Holes, based on the 1998 Newberry Award-Winning children's novel by Louis Sachar, and written by the author, himself.
Directed by First Stage Artistic Director, Jeff Frank, Holes is the story of Stanley Yelnats (Kaden Rhodes/Preston Carr), who has been sent to a camp in the desert for troubled youth for a crime he didn't commit and, with a rag-tag group of other boys, is forced to dig holes to "build character." But was it chance, bad luck, a family curse, or serendipity that brought him there? And why are they really digging the holes?
You needn't have read the book or seen the movie to enjoy this performance. In this tale of good versus evil, past and present will collide, drama and humor will intertwine, and old mysteries will be solved; it's an engrossing tale that both children and grown ups will enjoy.
Holes runs through February 14th at the Todd Wehr Theater, 929 N. Water St., in Milwaukee. For more information, tickets, and show times, go to www.firststage.org.
About First StageFounded in 1987, First Stage is one of the nation’s most acclaimed children’s theaters, and the second largest theater company in Milwaukee. First Stage touches hearts, engages minds, and transforms lives by creating extraordinary theater experiences for young people and families through Professional theater productions that inspire, enlighten, and entertain; unparalleled Theater Academy training that fosters life skills through stage skills; dynamic Theater in Education programs that promote active learning in our schools and community. First Stage is a member of the American Alliance for Theatre and Education, the Wisconsin Alliance for Arts Education, Arts Wisconsin and TYA/USA, the international association of theater for children and young people. First Stage is a proud cornerstone member of the United Performing Arts Fund.
The best cure for cabin fever is to get outdoors, and one of the best places to do it is at Riveredge Nature Center in Newburg. Riveredge has numerous outdoor (and indoor) activities for all ages. Here's a sampling of upcoming events to attend:
Night Ski & Snowshoe
Fridays 5 PM to 8 PM as trail conditions allowEnjoy the beauty and serenity of a crisp snowy evening on skis or snowshoes. Traverse our trails, lighted by the soft glow of lanterns, or those trails lit only by the light of the moon and stars. Refreshments will await you at the end of the trail. Call or check our website for current snow conditions before venturing out. There are a limited number of snowshoes available to rent. Please call 262-375-2715 ahead of time to reserve a pair.
Cross Country Skiing for Beginners
January 16, 1 to 2:30 PMBring your new or used cross-country skis to Riveredge and learn basic cross-country skiing techniques and safety tips. Beginner skiers will practice gliding, turning and even falling! Register early- space is limited. Class is snow-dependent.
Science For Everyone: Prairies Are Grasslands
January 19, 7 to 8:30 PMGiven the diversity of plants with beautiful flowers that grow in prairies, we sometimes forget that prairies are grasslands; plants in the grass family constitute most of the biomass and form the structure of the prairie. Dr. Jim Reinartz, director of the UWM Field Station, will discuss the evolution of the grass family, the origin of the North American grasslands, the internal and external structure and physiology of grasses (C3 and C4 photosynthesis explained!), and the way the ecology of grasses is tied to fire and grazing.
Wild Animal Finders: Life Beneath the Ice
January 16, 10 to 11:30 AMThe pond may be frozen but is still teeming with life! Join us as we discover the underwater critters at Farm Pond and learn how they survive the cold winter. Please dress for the weather and wear insulated boots. Children under 6 must be accompanied by an adult.
Family Nature Club: Snow Games @ Riveredge
January 19, 6 PM to 7:30 PM
Ice bowling, sledding, snow painting and more! Dress for the weather and feel free to bring a sled or tube with you. Hot cocoa will be provided to warm up. *If there is no snow, other games will be played outdoors. Everyone is welcome at this community minded, nature based club specifically sprouted for families! The Riveredge Family Nature Club invites families urban and rural, single and mixed, extended or simply friends who feel like family to join them on adventures, discoveries, and field trips in nature throughout Milwaukee, Ozaukee, and Washington Counties.
Winter Adventures: Geocaching on Snowshoes
January 23, 10 to 11:30 AM
Bring the family out for a high-tech scavenger hunt on snowshoes while learning to use a hand-held GPS unit. Designed for beginners, but all skill levels are welcome. GPS units and snowshoes will be provided or bring your own. Dress for the weather and wear insulated boots. Pre-registration required. Children under 10 must be accompanied by an adult.
For more information, check out the Riveredge website at: http://riveredgenaturecenter.org/