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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014

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Joseph Emanuele, president of the local chapter of The Order Sons of Italy in America.
Joseph Emanuele, president of the local chapter of The Order Sons of Italy in America.

Emanuele shares insight about Festa, The Order Sons of Italy

Festa Italiana is here!

The Milwaukee food, music and fireworks tradition where "everyone is Italian" kicked off Friday July 18. I had the opportunity to dive deeper into what Festa means for Italian-American culture when I asked Joseph Emanuele, president of The Order Sons of Italy in America: Filippo Mazzei Greater Milwaukee Lodge #2763, to discuss his organization and his favorite Festa moments.

Lindsay Garric: Please tell me about The Order Sons of Italy in America. What role does OSIA play in Festa Italiana?

Joseph Emanuele: The Order Sons of Italy in America (OSIA) is the oldest and largest Italian-American Fraternal Organization in the Country. It was founded in 1905 as a mutual aid group for immigrants. Today it consists of thousands of members throughout the nation and includes men, women and children, as we are a family-oriented organization.

OSIA's charitable causes are supported through volunteer endeavors. All benefits are given without regard to ethnic or racial group status. OSIA donates to foundations for the cure and prevention of Alzheimer's disease, Autism and Cooley's anemia.

The OSIA: Filippo Mazzei Greater Milwaukee Lodge #2763 was chartered in November of 2000, and became Milwaukee’s first lodge under the national organization. In 2008 Filippo Mazzei merged with the Grand Lodge of Illinois and became the Grand Lodge of Illinois / Wisconsin.

OSIA takes part in Festa Italiana as do many other local societies, volunteering its time to help the Italian Community Center with its festival activities. This year as in years past, OSIA members will be volunteering their time working a booth at Festa for the Italian Community Center.

LG: What do Festa Italiana and OSIA represent and mean to you as an Italian-American living in Milwaukee?

JE: OSIA represents and supports the preservation of the Italian heritage and culture, as does the Italian Community Center. Many Italians migrated to Milwaukee in the early 1900's, and a great deal of them di…

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Don't like your birth date? Pick a new one.
Don't like your birth date? Pick a new one.

How to change your birthday

Over the weekend, a friend posted a picture on social media that was taken at her birthday dinner with the caption "Birthday drinks with the birthday girls."

In the photo, I was seated at the forefront, snuggled into a curved booth and flanked by four lovelies. The occasion was in fact, in celebration of two beautiful birthday girls. However, I was not one of them. 

I was tagged in this photo on Facebook and it has resulted in yet another episode of "everything happens for a reason." 

I have made both a verbal and internal wish to change my birth date for the last few years. I am part of a little club of humans whose birthdays exist on or are close to calendar holidays or what could be considered, overshadowing events. 

There are the people who get a dual celebratory energy being born on Christmas or Fourth of July. A tinseled six-foot tree and fireworks to crown your special day are kind of a cherry on top of the birthday sundae. Decorations and entertainment that are a bonus "gift with purchase."

However, there is the diametric double-birthday, where a more somber holiday or event falls on or around your birthday. A festivity of being born coupled with a national tragedy or personal loss has an undertone that is hard to overcome, no matter how positive or optimistic the person is. 

I fall into the later category. My brother passed away just two days before my actual birthday. The glow from a thousand candles cannot fully illuminate the darkness of having the anniversary of his departure so close to the celebration of my arrival.

September, the month that once brought the beauty of changing leaves and the anticipation of "doing something special for my birthday," now ushers clouds of memories that are difficult to escape no matter how many years pass or how hopeful the affirmations.

While I have never been one to throw a big celebration in honor of myself, this duality has forever changed the tone for a day that is supposed to be full of confetti and ca…

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Gretchen and the Pickpockets is a family affair.
Gretchen and the Pickpockets is a family affair.

Gretchen and the Pickpockets on tap at Jazz Estate

Tossing the van keys in the trash at a truck stop in the middle of nowhere is just one of the notches in the "first national tour" belt of Gretchen and the Pickpockets. While it may not be the typical tour debauchery of bygone days, it’s just one anecdote this band is collecting along the way.

The Jazz Estate will host the up and coming group on Thursday, July 3 at 9:30 p.m. The band was chosen as New England’s no. 1 best new band by the Hard Rock Café’s Battle of the Bands. Its unique blend of rock, pop, jazz and Motown will provide a Summerfest alternative for those looking for a musical option outside of the Big Gig.

Wallet chains can safely be removed. Vocalist Gretchen Klempa and her bassist brother, Mike, hail from Pick Pocket Woods, N.H., hence the group’s name. They both attended the University of New Hampshire where they met and formed the rest of the group two years ago. 

The sibling element doesn’t necessarily make for a Partridge Family experience on the road. Guitarist Richie Smith had a messy run in with some dog waste departing from his house to the tour van, but the band sees these sorts of little mishaps as "a good omen."

According to Matt Turner, manager of The Jazz Estate, audiences can expect to be wowed by the show, which is in support of the Pickpockets' recently released self-titled debut LP, out now.

Turner continues, "We are excited to be adding to the music in Milwaukee during Summerfest time! It's also our weekly "Jazz In The Dark" Thursdays, partnering with Lakefront Brewery, so the first 15 paid get a free Riverwest Stein."

The band has become accustomed to packed houses in venues both big and small but they are especially looking forward to the intimate environment The Jazz Estate offers because, "engaging and connecting with the crowd lets us give a unique, energetic and memorable performance every time we play."

The tour will be the band’s premiere beyond the borders of New England. Mike Klempa says they are especia…

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What's the skinny on wearing shorts?
What's the skinny on wearing shorts?

Do you wear shorts?

It is presumably is summer, although the prevalence of precipitation appears to be questioning whether the climate really wants to commit to the season. But, with temps in the 80s and humidity hanging like a wet comforter in the air, a fashion topic has reared repeatedly in my conversations with friends.

The issue seems to be whether the female homo sapien will wear a certain article of clothing in summertime – and specifically, in public. This garment is seemingly so innocent, yet extremely controversial. It’s maybe even more contentious than the "Itsy" due to its mainstream prevalence and longtime presence in the modern-day wardrobe.

Shorts.

When I say "shorts" I mean "above the knee" lower half-covering garments. Going into Abercrombie / Daisy Duke shorts territory would never be a reality for me, so I am truly referring to a conservative, nice pair of summer shorts that reveal an inoffensive stretch of leg. No booty cleavage top or bottom revealed. 

Shorts elicit opinions from those who may not have a strong viewpoint on anything else. Try even saying the word, "shorts" without the corners of your lips curling downwards and nostrils flaring. 

Will the weather get hot enough for you to wear shorts?

This is one of those questions that have a very black or white answer. The reply is usually either "yes" or "no." And the "No"s have a sea of reasons they won’t be showing off their legs, mostly fueled by the terror of self-image gripes. 

I am ashamed to admit that I am one of those women. I can’t. I won’t. And 9.9 times out of 10 – I don’t. The moment I slip into a pair of abbreviated pants, the self-critic starts yapping.

I will wear activity appropriate short-shorts to a hot yoga class, cutoffs at the beach or around the house, but not in public while say, shopping, being social or working.  My self-consciousness about my perceived flaws prohibits me from what may be more comfortable than a long dress, skirt, leggings or jeans in 100 degr…

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