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Summerfest's colors don't run.
Summerfest's colors don't run.

No, you won't find Confederate flag merch at Summerfest, either

It hasn’t been a good month for the Stars and Bars. Only 150 years after it should’ve disappeared for good, national online and brick and mortar retailers have yanked the Confederate battle flag from their shelves and their sites.

In other words, you will no longer find Confederate beach towels, belt buckles or even the General Lee (I’m bummed about that, actually) at Wal-Mart, Amazon, Etsy, eBay or many other stores around America.

Fortunately, you won’t find them at Summerfest, either, in the state that lost 12,216 men to the Civil War.

I asked John Boler, Summerfest’s chief marketing officer, if the festival sold anything emblazoned with that controversial flag.

"We currently have 91 merchandise vendors at Henry Maier Festival Park," he replied. "To the very best of our knowledge, there are no items that feature the Confederate flag designs or imagery."

On my first three visits to Summerfest, I couldn’t find anything, either. I looked all over, although it’s possible I missed a few nooks and crannies. Lots of tacky displays of the American flag, but the "Stainless Banner" was nowhere to be found. Actually, I was a little surprised … but relieved, too.

You can find buy just about anything, classy or tacky, at Summerfest. Want an airbrushed painting of Vince Lombardi? Check. Jonesing for an e-hookah? Look near the Briggs Backyard. Lusting for a toe ring that says Jimmy? You’re in luck.

But if you crave a thong that, at best, celebrates "Southern Pride," and at worst, slavery … you’ll be whistling Dixie.

I expect to have this same discussion with State Fair next month.

A search for "Confederate Flag" on Amazon.com, the night before it removed all listings.

"Summertime" works with recording technology from both 1961 and 2015.
"Summertime" works with recording technology from both 1961 and 2015.

Nineteen Thirteen crosses time, space with "Summertime" cover

"Summertime" is a great song – so great, that it’s been covered 25,000 times since George Gershwin wrote it in 1934 for "Porgy & Bess."

One of the more enchanting – and special – versions of the jazz standard has just dropped from Nineteen Thirteen, an enigma of a Milwaukee band. Featuring Victor DeLorenzo on percussion and Janet Schiff on cello as its two permanent members, you almost have to see this group to believe it.

Which is why their version of "Summertime" is even more vexing: transcending time and space, it stands up, all on its own.

I sat down at DeLorenzo’s studio to hear a pre-release version of "Summertime," then immediately caught up with Schiff to get the lowdown.

OnMilwaukee.com: Tell me how this recording came to be.

Janet Schiff: On Dec. 28, 1961 my father, Edward Schiff, made a reel-to-reel home recording of my grandmother, Marguerite Schiff playing 33 tracks of organ, piano, accordion and singing. Fifteen years ago the recording was made digital, and I heard it for the first time. I played the recording for Victor from Nineteen Thirteen a couple of years ago and we listened several times to her instrumental rendition of "Summertime." He suggested that we build a song around my grandmother’s Hammond B3 solo. We presented the idea and source recording to our sound engineer, Steve Hamilton, who was just as excited to make this recording possible. We asked Monia to sing and Rob Wasserman to provide low end support on upright bass.

OMC: Did you ever imagine you'd record something with your grandmother?

JS: I lived in a musical family and she brought joy along with her music. She passed away in 1980. Even though I couldn’t play my cello with her in person, she inspired my early music appreciation when we spent time together. I always asked her to play and sing. After receiving her recording from 1961 in the late 1990s I often played along, not knowing if we could ever really make a recording together. She was an amazing musician. Wh…

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The Miller Park press box is pocked with foul balls that came straight back.
The Miller Park press box is pocked with foul balls that came straight back.

Have you ever caught a foul ball?

I beat the rush and got to Miller Park nice and early tonight, and sitting in the still empty press box, I’ve had some time to think. About baseball, of course.

Within a few feet in either direction of me are 10 ominous looking holes, dimples and marks of where foul balls have struck the press box wall right behind my permanent OnMilwaukee.com seat. The closest, positioned right behind my heart, is marked "5/25/11 Michael Morse vs. Greinke." One behind my right ear simply says "Unknown." Any one of these balls would’ve caused me serious injury, and it’s a reminder not to keep your nose buried in your laptop when the ball is in play.

Speaking of laptops, I had one foul ball clang off my titanium MacBook Air a few years ago. I’m pretty sure any other laptop would’ve shattered, but the only damage was a little dent and a scuff.

I got off lucky.

I’m still a little annoyed that I didn’t catch that ball, actually. Instead of trying to catch it, I covered the my laptop as best as I could and the ball spun off my hands. People booed. I shrugged.

I’m the fan who always brings a glove to the game ... as a fan, anyway.

In the hundreds (maybe?) of Brewers games I’ve attended, I’ve still only caught one legitimate regular season foul ball. It was around 1994 at County Stadium, an easy pop up right to me in the third base lower grandstands, courtesy of Aussie David Nilson. A kid in front of me collided with me to make the play – or maybe it was the other way around – and his mom was angry that I wouldn’t give him the souvenir. I told her that at 20, I was much older than this child, and he would have more time in his life to catch one. Maybe not my finest fan moment.

I did catch an 2002 All Star Game Home Run Derby batting practice ball in the auxiliary press box in the right field bleachers, and I’ve snagged many Spring Training foul balls in Maryvale. I’ve come close on many other regular season occasions, but my lifetime total of caught foul …

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We got inside Plum for a sneak peak the night before opening.
We got inside Plum for a sneak peak the night before opening.

First look: Plum

As first reported by OnMilwaukee.com, Dogg Haus owner Mazen Muna will open Plum, a cocktail lounge at 780 N. Jefferson St., Thursday night. We got inside for a first look.

"We are ready," says Muna, who was putting the finishing touches on the bar Wednesday night. "Many years and thought has gone into this – from the screws that we used, to the ingredients that are going to be in the cocktails and in the menu, along with a hand-selected staff."

The look inside the lounge is purple and sleek. An astroturf wall lines the north side of the space in front of the bar, which focuses on the unique top-shelf liquors Plum will feature. Look up and you’ll see tubes shining the same purple light down, accented with lime green plush chairs. It feels a little like an updated Velvet Room.

Muna credits his business partner, Andre Lewis, for creating the impressive lighting effects that give the space several distinct vibes, including an outdoor patio overlooking Jefferson.

The look is certainly unique for Milwaukee, and Muna credits that to picking up cues from his life well-traveled.

"I’ve been in bars and restaurants in Europe, the Mideast, all over the U.S. and I’ve always picked up the positives from each individual place and they stayed in a memory bank in the back of my head," he says. "What you’re looking at is our thoughts becoming tangible."

This space, however, has been many things over the years. For some reason, nothing has stuck. Muna is aware of the building's reputation, but says now is the time for Plum to succeed.

"Jefferson Street is a very nice area," he says. "People like to go out, young professional crowds, people that work hard and like to enjoy themselves. We just want to help them create their memories by opening and providing a value-added service and bar to the dynamic of the wide phenomenal spectrum of other establishments in the city. It’s just one more option, but it’s a different option."

To Muna, "plum" means fi…

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