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What's on the soundtrack to your Milwaukee summer?
What's on the soundtrack to your Milwaukee summer?

What's on your Milwaukee summer soundtrack?

The mercury is rising and I'm rolling down the windows and playing some of my favorite summer music. Despite the theme, I do not include the eponymous 1972 Seals & Crofts hit. Instead, here are some breezy songs that immediately transport me to summer, regardless of the weather...

Sly & Robbie feat. Gina Foster & Chris Ballin – He Said She Said (1995)

Josh Rouse – Love Vibration (2003)

The Style Council – The Paris Match (1983)

Chandra Simmons – Never Gonna Let You Go (1987)

Wings – Listen to What the Man Said (1975)

Carmen Consoli – In Bianco E Nero (2000)

The O'Jays – Darlin' Darlin' Baby (1976)

What's on your summer playlist? Post a talkback or a Facebook comment to let me know.

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Haymarket Square might still be a light industrial area to an extent, but I'd bet not for long.
Haymarket Square might still be a light industrial area to an extent, but I'd bet not for long.

17 photos of Milwaukee's next hot neighborhood

For the reasons discussed here, I'm convinced that Milwaukee's simmering Haymarket Square area, just north of Downtown, is the city's next hot neighborhood.

Recently, I did a self-guided, come-what-may tour of the neighborhood with Adam Carr of Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, which led to this bucket list story (or as we call it here at OnMilwaukee.com "snake button" story).

At the moment, Haymarket Square still has a number of old – and some not so old – light industrial buildings that remain in use...

But, it's got a great location on the edge of Downtown...

And it seems pretty likely that a new arena and entertainment complex will be built on the south end of the area...

There is some fine old building stock, like this firehouse...

And the warehouse across the street ... you know, the one with the corn...

Along with this cool old Vogue Cleaners building (you've got to look up):

And there are already plenty of signs of life, including a thriving Schlitz Park to the east, and a Boys and Girls Club and a new home for Sojourner Family Peace Center going up to the west. The neighborhood is home to MPS' Golda Meir School for the Gifted and Talented, one of the best schools in town – which recently kicked off a new high school program, too – as well as the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center. A new bank and adjacent park opened last year.

There are also some residential units...

And RedLine Milwaukee art gallery and artists' studios:

You can buy tropical fish...

And nails...

You can play shuffleboard (if you bring your own pucks and sticks, or whatever the gear is called)...

Most days, the neighborhood smells like fresh pretzels or donuts...

All that, PLUS there are quaint historical details...

Parking lots with Pacers...

Auto repair shops with sheep...

And, last but not least, these things...

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What do you think, Kenoshesi? Is Luigi's the best?
What do you think, Kenoshesi? Is Luigi's the best?

Kenosha's best pizza

OK, I admit that I've led you here under (potentially) false pretenses. What I really want is for you, dear readers, to tell me about the best pizzerias in Kenosha.

After a day of battling insane crowds at the outlet mall this weekend, we had a yen for pizza, and knowing that Kenosha is nearly as Italian as Cosenza, we figured there must be some insanely good pizza joints.

We'd been to Mangia fairly recently and we'd been to Infusino's, though that was eons ago. So, we flipped an imaginary coin and selected Luigi's over Villa d'Carlo, because we really don't know who has the best pizza in K-Town.

That's why I said "potentially" up there in the first paragraph. Because, it's possible that Luigi's, 7531 39th Ave., is the apex.

In a pretty unassuming building, with a pretty modest dining room, Luigi's dishes up really good thin crust pizza, with a wide variety of toppings. The cheese is just salty enough, the sauce is sweet and tangy, and the sausage has a bit of spice.

A two-topping large (16-inch) runs $16.50. There's also a "Gutbomb," with a slew of toppings that runs $25 for a large.

The dough seemed a tad overworked and chewy, which prevents me saying the pizza was absolutely amazing, but it was otherwise top-notch.

The same could be said about the odd peanut butter and jelly pizza, at which we initially scoffed. But we decided to try it and when it came, piping hot, we found it to be sacrilicious. Our kids, perhaps surprisingly, refused to touch it. Warning: if you order it, go slowly, as the hot jelly can wreak havoc on the roof of your mouth if you dive in too quickly.

One of us is a big fan of gnocchi (well, more than one of us, but one is on a gnocchi jag lately) and opted for the gnocchi on the kids menu, which comes at a kids menu price (a steal at $3) but in an adult serving with a big plate of gnocchi, topped with a large tasty meatball and red sauce.

The problem with gnocchi is that so few places make a really, really good example – pillowly…

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Washington Park Library super readers!
Washington Park Library super readers! (Photo: Milwaukee Public Library)

Create a Super Reader and prevent your child taking the "summer slide"

It's that time of year again. The time when I'm thrilled that my kids are thrilled to sign up for Milwaukee Public Library's Super Reader summer reading program.

This year's program kicked off on Monday, May 18 and runs through Aug. 29 (MPS is back in session on Tuesday, Sept. 1). Kids 0-12 can visit any MPL branch and sign up for free. They'll get a Super Reader yard sign or window cling and a sheet to track their reading over the summer.

Each time they complete a level, they can head back to the library and get a prize. At the end of summer they'll get more goodies, like free books, food coupons and admission to area attractions.

Teens 13-18 can take part in the summer "Put Your Face in a Book" program.

Each May, my kids can't wait to sign up.

One morning at breakfast, they shaded in the progress circles based on the previous day's reading and were proud of their early progress. Later, one of them said, "I think I'm becoming a book person."

Music to a parent's ears.

The National Summer Learning Association says that the "summer slide" – the brain drain that comes from kids' absence from the classroom – affects their progress and also negatively affects the achievement gap.

"Most students lose about two months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills over the summer months," according the NSLA's web site. "Low-income students also lose more than two months in reading achievement, despite the fact that their middle-class peers make slight gains. 

"More than half of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities."

"Last year nearly 21,000 children participated," said Mayor Tom Barrett in a statement this week. "We want more. It’s free, it’s easy and it’s really important. I encourage parents, grandparents, caregivers and teachers to bring the children in their lives to a Milwaukee Public Library to sign-up and to give them the support and encouragement …

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