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Two views of the same city, both with truth on their side.
Two views of the same city, both with truth on their side. (Photo: YouTube/Dear MKE)

Two views of Milwaukee: one full of heart and one full of heartbreak

It’s a slight exaggeration – but not by much – that the eyes of the United States will be on Milwaukee Thursday night when the city hosts a Democratic Presidential Debate at UWM.

The university has its public relations department in high gear trying to take advantage of the exposure that comes with a nationally televised event. While the debate between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders will dominate, there is a spillover effect for the city.

The debate, moderated by Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff, will be hosted by PBS and simulcast on CNN.

In advance of the debate, PBS has resurrected an article from March of last year in which it examines the racial difficulties in Milwaukee, again focusing on the fact that we are the "most segregated city in America."

I was struck when I saw the news of the article on my Facebook thread, mainly because that post was followed almost immediately by a video created by Purple Onion, a filmmaking company in the Third Ward.

The short film, "Dear MKE," was sponsored by Visit Milwaukee and was an introduction to the Dear MKE site where people can post films and articles about the city.

"We did this in 2013 and it kind of sat there for a year.," said Steve Farr, the managing partner at Purple Onion. "Steve Roeder produced it, and it didn’t get a lot of attention then. But someone posted it on another site, and in just a couple of days, we were in the hundreds of thousands hits.

"It seems to have a life of its own. We’ll get a hit, and it just takes off again."

Purple Onion has built a great reputation in this city, and you can see all of the creative juices in full roar in the film. It’s just two minutes long, but watching it, you get the kind emotional wallop that great film can deliver.

It’s truly a Milwaukee gem, featuring a great song from Milwaukee’s own Bennie Cole, who was plying his soul singer trade 40 years ago.

The biggest thing that struck me was how you can have these two wildly divergent views of…

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J.J. Watt read his old draft scouting reports - and let's just say he proved them wrong.
J.J. Watt read his old draft scouting reports - and let's just say he proved them wrong. (Photo: Houston Texans Facebook)

Watch J.J. Watt read his less than glowing pre-draft scouting reports

Wisconsin's very own J.J. Watt may well be the best professional football player in the entire National Football League.

The Pewaukee High School and University of Wisconsin graduate is a defensive end for the Houston Texans having been drafted four years ago.

Watt was a guest on Dan Patrick's show this week, and as part of his visit, Patrick and his crew of sidekicks had Watt read the actual scouting reports compiled on him before the draft. The result is an absolute riot.

A New Yorker piece used Milwaukee to look at poverty and eviction.
A New Yorker piece used Milwaukee to look at poverty and eviction. (Photo: Brendan O'Brien)

Harvard researcher uses Milwaukee as lab for work on poverty and eviction

Matthew Desmond works in one of those "professor-like" offices at Harvard, but he’s really at home in Milwaukee and Madison.

Desmond got his doctorate at UW-Madison and has used Milwaukee as a laboratory for his groundbreaking work on poverty and the relationship to eviction from homes for poor people.

He has written extensively on the subject and has now written an article for The New Yorker magazine entitled, "Forced Out."

"For many poor Americans, eviction never ends," the subhead reads, as the article focuses on Milwaukee and paints a vivid and human picture of another troubling challenge faced by poor people in Milwaukee. Later in the piece, Desmond talks about what led to his research in Milwaukee.

"Between 2009 and 2011, more than one in eight Milwaukee renters were displaced involuntarily," Desmond writes, "whether by formal or informal eviction, landlord foreclosure, or building condemnation."

You can read the rest of Desmond’s New Yorker article here.

 

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has become a thoughtful commentator on social issues.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has become a thoughtful commentator on social issues. (Photo: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Facebook)

Abdul-Jabbar writes thoughtful article to Trump supporters

When he was with the Milwaukee Bucks, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar lived in an apartment right across the street from where my wife and I and our baby daughter lived.

On occasion, he would sit with my wife, looking out at Lake Michigan, and every now and then he might even walk with them a bit while she pushed the buggy or stroller. I don't pretend to have known him well (he was remarkably reticent), but the little I did, I always suspected there was a depth to the man that people didn’t realize.

Now that he’s done playing basketball and has moved into elder, wise-man status, he constantly shows the incredible development of his mind, his instincts, his sophistication and his dedication to making the world a better place.

He writes books, novels, screenplays and very thoughtful articles for major websites, newspapers and magazines across the country.

It is fitting, then, that the day after the first primary in the race for president, Abdul-Jabbar penned a letter for The Washington Post.

It’s a letter to the supporters of Donald Trump, and you can read it here.